Flotsam & Jetsam
Greenpeace's 'Picture of Innocence' Defies Bush Attack, EXXONMOBIL Has Caused Five Percent of Global Warming, Extinction Risk from Climate Change, A Matter of Great (and Lesser) Interest, and more...
March 15, 2004
Greenpeace's 'Picture of Innocence' Defies Bush Attack
|Hundreds of Greenpeace supporters gather on a Miami beach to "sand a message" to John Ashcroft: Stop the persecution! Credit: Robert Visser / Greenpeace USA. To view a slideshow on the making of the image, click here|
In January, more than a thousand Greenpeace supporters flocked to South Beach, Miami to create a massive 'human art' image to protest the Bush administration's prosecution of the international environmental organization. The beachgoers positioned themselves to recreate Picasso's famous illustration of a dove flying past a jailed man (an appeal for amnesty for Spaniards persecuted under the Franco regime).
Greenpeace faces a federal indictment in South Florida for a 2002 nonviolent protest against the illegal importation of contraband mahogany from the Brazilian Amazon. Greenpeace activists boarded a timber ship as part of its "on-going campaign to save the world's ancient forests from destructive logging."
The federal government charged Greenpeace under an obscure 1872 law written to prevent "sailor-mongering." This Eighteenth Century law has only been used twice (most recently in 1890). The Washington Times, the American Civil Liberties Union and Al Gore all have accused the White House of trying to silence critics of the administration's environmental policies.
Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "The extraordinary effort made to find and use this obscure law strongly suggests a campaign of selective prosecution -- the greatest scourge of the First Amendment."
"The hundreds of people gathered here today represent the desire of people all across the world who are willing to take a stand for the world's forests and for the right of citizens and Greenpeace alike to peacefully protest," said Greenpeace campaigner Ginger Cassady.
View the slideshow of the making of the image. http://www.greenpeaceusa.org/index.fpl/10386/article/993.html
EXXONMOBIL Has Caused Five Percent of Global Warming
Two studies commissioned by Friends of the Earth have determined that ExxonMobil, including its predecessors, are responsible for creating from 4.7 to 5.3 percent of the world's manmade carbon-dioxide emissions between 1882 and 2002. In 1996, UN scientists warned that man-made pollution were having a discernible influence on the global climate. Carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of global warming. Seven out of ExxonMobil's 10 worst years for emissions occurred after 1996.
The finding has significant implications for the company's legal exposure and for its shareholders. The new research could prove vital in paving the way for compensation claims against companies by victims of climate change brought about by man-made pollution. Friends of the Earth stated that "ExxonMobil's greenhouse-gas contribution is staggering.... We believe that ExxonMobil is at risk of litigation and other companies would also be well-advised to consider whether they face similar risks."
To read the full report, go to: http://www.foe.org/new/releases/104exmob.html
Extinction Risk from Climate Change
The January 8, 2004 edition of Nature featured an alarming assessment of the dangers climate change pose to life on Earth. Over the next 50 years, the report concludes, rising global temperatures are expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction. The calamity could mean the loss of more than 1 million species by mid-century.
The report, authored by more than 20 researchers, noted: "Climate change over the past 30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction." The scientists concluded that with "mid-range climate-warming scenarios" for that 15-37% of species would be 'committed to extinction' by 2050" while extinctions from the worst-case scenario could range as high as 52 percent. Even the most optimistic "minimal climate-warming scenarios" appear likely to cause the extinction of 18% of species living in affected regions.
With the Earth set to become warmer than at any period in the past 1-40 million years, the study warned, "anthropogenic climate change could act as a major cause of extinctions in the near future." The researchers were moved to abandon their dispassionate scientific role to issue the following call for action: "These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration." The complete report is available online at:
A Matter of Great (and Lesser) Interest
Sweden's Jord Arbete Kapital (Land Labor Capital) in is a non-religious, politically neutral savings-and-loan co-operative bank that operates without interest. No interest is paid on savings and only a self-cost administration fee is required for loans. Sweden's JAK was founded in 1965 and inspired by the original JAK established in Denmark. JAK Sweden was granted a banking license in December 1997 and now has approximately 18,000 members.
JAK maintains that the taking of interest is inimical to a stable economy and argues that interest also causes unemployment, inflation and environmental destruction - in some combination. JAK notes that interest moves money in the long term from the poor to the rich and favors large-scale projects that yield high profits in the short-term.
JAK's ultimate aim is to abolish interest as an economic instrument and to replace it with other, less harmful incentives. JAK believes that its interest-free savings-and-loan system has demonstrated that interest-free financing is not only feasible but quite valuable in helping to liberate people weighed down with heavy interest loans.
JAK's interest-free savings-and-loan model appeals almost exclusively to consumers and prospective homeowners but JAK also notes that interest-free banking has a positive, if indirect, effect on unemployment. By freeing people from interest expenses, money is liberated to buy goods and services, thereby permitting businesses to hire more employees.
There are plans to introduce interest-free profit/loss sharing loan instruments along the lines of those used widely in Muslim countries. These would be specifically geared towards financing businesses. (In Muslim countries, extracting interest is considered a crime. Similarly, the Holy Bible also condemns the practice as "usury.")
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WW II Sub Leaking Mercury... and Uranium?
Norwegian authorities have found heavy concentrations of mercury near a German World War II submarine that sunk off Hordaland on February 9, 1945 by the British sub Venturer. The German sub was carrying nearly 2,000 containers filled with 65-70 tons of mercury and its passengers included experts on the secret German Messereschmiodt Me 163 and Me 262 jet project.
Hawai'i-based researcher Capt. G. Kent Andersen heard of the mercury leak in a December 19, 2003 broadcast on B&NNS Radio International. Danish and international news. In a private letter to Andersen, a member of the Norwegian government confided "the suspicion that it might also be carrying a cargo of uranium meant for the Japanese nuclear project was all over the local newspaper" but added: "Remember that this is only a rumor."
Windpower Blows Nuclear Power Out of the Picture
A Greenpeace study on "Wind vs. Nuclear" demonstrates that windpower can generate 2.3 times more electricity and five times more jobs than a nuclear reactor. If the 3-3.5 billion . cost of the French European Pressurize Reactor (EPR) were invested in windpower, France could build 7616MW of wind-electric capacity (The EPR, by comparison would only generate 1550MW). Windpower would generate a massive 24TWh annually, enough to power 6.5 million households. Nuclear would only deliver 10TWh.
Last December, 40 Greenpeace activists illustrated the disparity by unfurling a "No nukes, Go wind" banner on a nuclear power plant in Penly, France. The action was taken to protest the French government's decision to build another nuclear reactor on the site, despite a large nuclear-energy over-capacity. "The EPR... is an outdated and unsafe design, to be fuelled by plutonium and will produce extremely radioactive waste," said Greenpeace campaigner Jan Vande Putte.
Greenpeace points to surveys showing that most European favor a nuclear-power phase-out and 85% of French consumers support the windpower alternative. Against all reason, EdF continues to flood the European market with vast amounts of subsidized nuclear electricity. These large flows of electricity may have been a key factor in the Italian blackout in September.
In recent years windpower has gone through an industrial revolution. In Germany, installed more than 3,200MW of windpower in 2003, supplying electricity to more than 2 million households. The European Union expects to install a massive 75,000MW of wind capacity by 2010, tripling the current power and adding the equivalent electricity production of 14 large nuclear reactors.
Countries Agree to Cleanup after War
Explosive Remnants of War -- the technical term for the deadly detritus of past military conflicts -- kill and maim tens of thousands of innocent civilians each year. Last November, the US joined more than 90 countries that pledged themselves to the goal of cleaning up the post-war battlefield. The new treaty, approved by member states of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), requires countries to remove unexploded cluster and mortar bombs, missiles and other weaponry. It also compels warring nations to disclose where these weapons have been used to help with the cleanup and to protect local civilian populations. The new rules will be legally binding on signatory states when the new protocol to the CCW convention has been formally ratified by 20 member states.
This marks the first time the Bush administration has joined a new global weapons pact. But it may be a meaningless gesture. George W. Bush has shown an implacable disregard for international law and US behavior in Iraq shows no signs that the Pentagon plans to honor these new treaty obligations. The Pentagon, unlike the British military, has refused to reveal where it used radioactive artillery and bombs made with depleted uranium.
The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003
| The folks at Halliburton are on the defensive these days, besieged by congressional committees investigating the company for war profiteering. |
Each year, Russell Mokhiber (editor of the Washington, DC-based Corporate Crime Reporter) and Robert Weissman (editor of the Washington, DC-based Multinational Monitor) put their heads together to salute the worst corporate offenders of the previous 12 months. "2003 was not a year of garden variety corporate wrongdoing," they write. "No, the sheer variety, reach and intricacy of corporate schemes, scandal and crimes was spellbinding."
Here, in alphabetical order, is the Multinational Monitor's list for the 10 worst corporations of 2003.
Bayer: In May, the company plead guilty to a criminal count and agreed to pay more than $250 million to resolve allegations that it denied Medicaid discounts to which it was entitled. The company was beleaguered with litigation related to its anti-cholesterol drug Baycol.
Boeing: In one of the grandest schemes of corporate welfare in recent memory, Boeing engineered a deal whereby the Pentagon would lease its 767 tanker planes at a pricetag of $27.6 billion -- billions more than the cost of simply buying the planes.
Brighthouse: This strategic advice company's claim Neurostrategies Institute has undertaking research to see how the brain responds to advertising in order to extend the manipulative power of commercials in ways never before possible.
Clear Channel: The radio behemoth specializes in obliterating locally owned radio stations, imposing a homogenized music play list, and offering cultural support for US imperial adventures. It has also compiled a record of "repeated law-breaking" -- including prohibitions on deceptive advertising.
Diebold: This Ohio-based company is one of the country's largest manufacturers of electronic voting machines. Diebold's CEO has worked as a major fundraiser for President George Bush. Computer experts have revealed how serious flaws in Diebold's voting technology could distort the outcome of future elections.
Halliburton: Formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, Halliburton is pulling in billions in revenues for contract work for providing logistical support (ranging from oil to food) in Iraq and attempting to saddle US taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars in overcharges.
HealthSouth: The company runs a network of outpatient surgery, diagnostic imagery and rehabilitative healthcare centers. But 15 of its top executives pled guilty in a multi-billion dollar scheme to defraud investors, the public and the government. thanks to the slick legal maneuvering, it appears that company officials will escape without indictments, pleas, fines, or probation.
Inamed: The California-based company sought Food and Drug Administration approval for silicone breast implants, even though it was not able to present long-term safety data.
Merrill Lynch: Fresh off of a $100 million fine levied because analysts were recommending stocks that they trashed in private e-mails, the company saw three former execs indicted for shady dealings with Enron. The company itself avoided prosecution in exchange for "oversight."
Safeway: Safeway lead the charge to demand give-backs from striking and locked-out grocery workers in Southern California. Along with Albertsons and Ralphs (Kroger's), Safeway's Vons and Pavilion stores want employees to pay for a major chunk of their health insurance -- a deal that could cost workers and their families $4,000 to $6,000 a year benefits.
You can read the complete article at: http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/corpfocus/2004/000173.html
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