Monday, March 17, 2014

The War You Don't See

The War You Don't See from John Pilger on Vimeo.

Against Ukraine War? Obama May Seize Your Assets

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Do you, like 56 percent of the US population, believe that the US should "not get too involved" in the Ukraine situation? Do you think that the US administration putting us on a war footing with Russia is a bad idea? Are you concerned that the new, US-backed leaders of Ukraine -- not being elected -- might lack democratic legitimacy? Are you tempted to speak out against US policy in Ukraine; are you tempted to criticize the new Ukrainian regime?

Be careful what you say. Be careful what you write. President Obama has just given himself the authority to seize your assets.

According to the president's recent Executive Order, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine" (first reported by WND's Aaron Klein), the provisions for seizure of property extend to "any United States person." That means "any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States."

Declaring a "national emergency" over the planned referendum in Crimea to determine whether or not to join Russia, the US president asserts that asset seizure is possible for any US person "determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State":

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following: 
(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine;
The Executive Order is, as usual, so broadly written that it leaves nearly everything open to interpretation. 

For example, what are "direct or indirect...actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine"? Could that be someone writing an article that takes issue with the US policy that the Crimea referendum is illegal and illegitimate? Could it be standing up in a public meeting and expressing the view that Ukraine would be better off with nationwide referenda to determine whether other regions should become autonomous or joined to neighboring countries? What if a Polish-American appears on a radio or television program suggesting that parts of Poland incorporated into Ukraine after WWII should be returned to Polish authority?

Probably the president will not seize the assets of Americans in the scenarios above. But he says he can.

As the US government moves ever-closer to war with Russia, it is reasonable to expect these attempts to squash dissent and to remove "threats" to the administration's position. The historical pattern is clear.

Recall Eugene V. Debs sentenced to ten years in prison for his opposition to US involvement in WWI. Recall Japanese-Americans interned in camps during WWII because their loyalty to the United States was deemed suspect. 

The stage is being set to silence dissent. It sounds alarmist to read this, agreed. 

Probably the president will not use his Executive Order to seize the assets of Americans who disagree with his Ukraine policy. But he says he can.

Careful what you say.

Troubled waters: Nuclear radiation found in B.C. may pose health concerns

Discovery of Fukushima radioactivity raises concerns for local marine life, and the effect it may have on humans

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A radioactive metal from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan has been discovered in the Fraser Valley, causing researchers to raise the alarm about the long-term impact of radiation on B.C.’s west coast.

Examination of a soil sample from Kilby Provincial Park, near Agassiz, has for the first time in this province found Cesium 134, further evidence of Fukushima radioactivity being transported to Canada by air and water.

“That was a surprise,” said Juan Jose Alava, an adjunct professor in the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University, in an interview on Tuesday. “It means there are still emissions ... and trans-Pacific air pollution. It’s a concern to us. This is an international issue.”

Cesium 134 has a half-life of two years, meaning its radioactivity is reduced by half during that time. Its presence in the environment is an indication of continuing contamination from Fukushima.

A more persistent danger to people and marine life is radioactive Cesium 137, which has a half-life of 30 years, and bioaccumulates in the food chain.

Researchers developed a model based on the diet of fish-eating killer whales along with the levels of Cesium 137 detected and predicted (less than 0.5 becquerels per cubic metre, a measurement of radioactivity) by other researchers in the Pacific waters offshore of Vancouver Island.

The models suggests that in 30 years, Cesium 137 levels in the whales will exceed the Canadian guideline of 1,000 becquerels per kilogram for consumption of seafood by humans — 10 times the Japanese guideline.

“It’s a reference, the only benchmark we have to compare against,” Alava said.

He said recent federal government cutbacks have placed a greater burden of testing and monitoring for aquatic impacts on academics, non-governmental organizations and even private citizens.

“The Canadian government is the one that should be doing something, should be taking action to keep monitoring to see how these contaminants are behaving, what are the levels, and what is next.”

It was a citizen, Aki Sano, who provided SFU with the soil sample from Kilby park, near the mouth of the Harrison River, on Nov. 16, 2013. Samples of chinook, sockeye and chum spawning salmon nearby are also being analyzed for evidence of radiation.

While the soil sample tested positive for Cesium 134, the exact level is not yet known, although it is thought to be low. The plan now is to test soil samples from Burnaby Mountain, closer to Vancouver.

Earlier research by Kris Starosta, associate professor of chemistry, and his colleagues at SFU has shown evidence of Iodine 131, which has a half-life of eight days, in rainwater and seaweeds in B.C. Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted the analysis of sea water off Vancouver Island.

An adult killer whale weighing up to 5,000 kilograms can eat five per cent of its body weight, or 250 kilograms of fish, per day.

Endangered resident killer whales already face a host of challenges: the need for high-protein chinook salmon, habitat degradation, underwater noise pollution, harassment from whale watchers, and climate change. While the additional impact of Cesium 137 is unknown, it may negatively affect the immune system or endocrine system, Alava said.



“The impact on the animal needs to be studied. This is part of a cumulative impact on the marine environment.”

The results raise concerns for aboriginal people who maintain a diet heavy in fish.

“We might expect similar results because the diet of First Nation communities is based on seafood,” Alava said. “Humans at the top of the food web can perhaps see increasing levels in the future.”

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant suffered a catastrophic failure due to a 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, which killed almost 19,000 people. Alava noted the plant continues to leak radiation, meaning that the problem is not going away soon. “There’s going to be a long-term exposure to organisms building up in the marine environment.”

While radiation levels so far remain low, the long-term implications deserve further study.

“So far the levels are safe,” Alava said. “We shouldn’t be worried now, but we need to keep monitoring in the long term to see whether these levels are building up in the food web.”

A victim of federal cutbacks, Peter Ross, a former research scientist with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney on Vancouver Island, joined the Vancouver Aquarium last month as director of a new ocean science program.

Ross said he worked almost 18 years at the institute until Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced in May 2012 it would cut 55 positions nationally, nine of them within B.C., as part of a plan to “divest itself of ocean pollution research and monitoring to the private, non-profit and academic sectors.”

No one at Fisheries and Oceans Canada or Health Canada was available immediately to comment Monday.

Alava noted that there remain low background levels of Cesium 137 dating back to the 1960s due to the dumping of radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean from nuclear submarines and reactors.

The BC Centre for Disease Control has been notified of the latest research finding.



19 Signs That The U.S. Consumer Is Tapped Out

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You can't get blood out of a rock.  Traditionally the United States has had a consumer-driven economy, but now years of declining incomes and rising debts are really starting to catch up with us.  In order to have an economy that is dependent on consumer spending, you need to have a large middle class.  Unfortunately, the U.S. middle class is steadily shrinking, and unless that trend is reversed we are going to see massive economic changes in this country.  For example, in poor neighborhoods all over America we are seeing bank branches, car dealerships and retail stores close down at an alarming rate.  If you didn't know better, you might be tempted to think that "Space Available" was the hottest new retailer in some areas of the nation.  On the other hand, if you live in San Francisco, New York City or Washington D.C., things are pretty good for the moment.  But as a whole, the condition of the U.S. consumer continues to decline.  Incomes are going down, the cost of living is going up, and debts are skyrocketing.  The following are 19 signs that the U.S. consumer is tapped out...
#1 Real disposable income per capita continues to fall.  In the fourth quarter of 2012, it was sitting at $37,265.  By the time that the fourth quarter of 2013 had come around, it had dropped to $36,941.  That means that average Americans have less money to go shopping with than they did previously.
#2 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.
#3 As disposable income decreases, major retailers are closing thousands of stores all over the country.  Some are even calling this "a retail apocalypse".
#4 From September 2013 to January 2014, the personal saving rate in the United States dropped by a staggering 16 percent.
#5 During the fourth quarter of 2013, we witnessed the largest increase in consumer debt in this country that we have seen since 2007.
#6 Fewer Americans are applying for mortgages these days.  In fact, the MBA Purchase Applications Index is now the lowest that it has beensince 1995.
#7 Overall, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallenfor eight years in a row.
#8 Many Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to afford a new car or truck.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article...
A new study shows the average household in 24 of America's 25 largest metropolitan areas cannot afford to pay for the average priced new car or truck.
"Just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn't mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up such a huge share of your paycheck," said Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com. "Many people are spending money on a car payment that they could be saving."
#9 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have "subprime credit" at this point.
#10 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.
#11 In the third quarter of 2007, the student loan delinquency rate was7.6 percent.  Today, it is up to 11.5 percent.
#12 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.
#13 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.
#14 U.S. workers are taking home the smallest share of the income piethat has ever been recorded.
#15 One recent study found that about 60 percent of the jobs that have been "created" since the end of the last recession pay $13.83 or less an hour.
#16 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.
#17 According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.
#18 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be "lower class".  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.
#19 The poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.
Despite what the mainstream media keeps telling them, most Americans know on a gut level that there is something fundamentally wrong with our economy.
According to Gallup, "Unemployment/Jobs" is the number one issue that Americans care about these days and the "Economy in general" is the number three issue that Americans care about these days.
Most people just want to work hard, make a decent living and take care of their families.
Sadly, that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.
And the numbers that I have shared above only tell part of the story.  For a more personal side to all of this, I encourage you to read my previous article entitled "10 Stories From The Cold, Hard Streets Of America That Will Break Your Heart" if you have not done so already.
The really bad news is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy.  The long-term trends that are eating away at our economy like cancer are intensifying, and our "leaders" just continue to act as if "business as usual" will somehow get the job done.
Most of them don't even realize that time is running out.
As I discussed yesterday, there is a lot of evidence that the massive financial bubble that the Federal Reserve has inflated is getting ready to burst.
When the next great financial crisis does strike, it is going to be absolutely disastrous.  We are in far worse financial shape than we were back then, and this next round of financial trauma could truly be the "knockout blow" for the U.S. economy.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Fukushima Operator May Have to Dump Contaminated Water Into Pacific

 Senior adviser to Tokyo Electric Power says controlled release into sea is much safer than keeping contaminated water on-site.

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4 Frightening Ways We're Reverting to the Dark Days of Our Past

Gains made in our country's progressive years are in serious jeopardy.
 
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War Games: Inside the Real Story of The Pentagon’s Phony Budget War

How the U.S. military avoided budget cuts, lied about doing so, then asked for billions more.

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