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Were Mexican Election Protests Censored by the Media?

July 31st, 2012 - by admin

Latino Fox News & CIME & The Yo Soy 132 Movement – 2012-07-31 10:57:34


Were Mexican Election Protests Censored by the Media?
Latino Fox News & CIME

Enrique Pena Nieto, the former governor of Mexico just won the Presidential election and is now the presumed President-elect of Mexico. Many took this news unfavorably, as Pena Nieto is a member of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, (PRI).

The PRI are not particularly known for acting with citizens’ best interests in mind. They have a reputation for coercion, electoral fraud, and ensuring their maintenance of power at all costs, (for over 50 years PRI won consecutive presidential elections in Mexico, each time by a 70% margin — a statistic which is likely attributed to foul play).

In response to the news, Mexicans took to the streets in protest. Many marched to show their disagreement with the election results, bearing signs similar to this one which has appeared on social media:

Which translates to: “Don’t ask me to respect the results of a process/system you did not respect.” This protest went viral, appearing on Facebook, trending on Twitter, and making a presence on other social media as well, resulting so far in some international attention.

What is peculiar however, is how Mexican media has remained largely silent and absent, in light of these protests. The protests are certainly not a mere blip on the radar, protestors are numbering in the tens of thousands and have taken to the streets of several major cities including Mexico City.

In spite of this, the two media juggernauts Televisa and TV Azteca of Mexico hardly covered the news at all. This further bolsters the suspicion of many whom believe the Mexican media to have been paid off by the PRI. If this were true, it would pull them further away from attaining the ethical media the citizens deserve.

The situation of the media is already severely manipulated, with the cartels systematically tracking down and killing journalists. Now many suspect the media to be taking illegal bribes from a corrupt government. Whether these accusations are true, one still must question why coverage of the protests has been largely absent.

Protests Are Censored by the Media in Mexico

The Yo Soy 132 Movement

Spanish subs video here:

Info on #Yosoy132 movement here: ‪http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yo_Soy_132

Tens of Thousands Protest in Mexico against Election Fraud
Jacque Fresco / Hang the Bankers

(July23, 2012) — At least 32,000 protesters marched through Mexico City on Sunday to protest the “imposition” of the new president. They accuse president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, a member of the old ruling party, of electoral fraud.

Protesters have dubbed the country’s TV giant Televisa a “factory of lies.” Demonstrators marching through to capital claimed that Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the election by vote-buying and an aggressive PR campaign through major media outlets such as Televisa, which they claim was well paid for positive coverage of Nieto’s presidential campaign.

Enrique Pena Nieto, 46, won the election with 38.2 per cent of the vote against 31.6 percent for the leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Nieto’s victory brought the Institutional Revolutionary Party back to power after being in the opposition for 12 years.

The ruling President Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party came in third.

Opponents of the victorious candidate demanded urgent domestic reforms.

The PRI in turn accuses the losing leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of “disqualifying the entire electoral process with lies.” Televisa has also denied all allegations.

The last presidential election in Mexico in 2006 also ended with the defeat of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost to the ruling conservative president. In 2006 Obrador organized hundreds of thousands of his supporters to rally in downtown Mexico City for weeks. This time, however, Obrador announced that his victory is evident and he has no intention of calling his supporters to the streets.

According to local authorities, the demonstration on Sunday gathered 32,000 people whereas the protesters claim their number was twice as large. The latest demonstration is the second of it since the July 1 elections. The first rally on July 7 gathered 50,000 protesters.

The final results of the elections are left to be certified in September by the Federal Electoral Tribunal. Some political movements have urged its supporters to disregard the inauguration of the new Mexican president set for December 1.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party at one time ruled Mexico for a 71-year stretch. Those years, party critics say, were marked with corruption, nepotism and multiple cases of voter fraud.

These protests are organized by the people and not by a political party. The PRI party is trying to minimize the protests!! Enough of the PRI party, 
Mexico should be free!!

We want a real democracy

Here you can see all my videos — ‪https://www.youtube.com/user/franksanchezcjc/videos

Remember the change is happenning, with or without you.

Protests of July 7, 2012

This video is made with protests in 23 cities in Mexico and another countries, (many more protested, around 50) not all are included in this messge. Includes an important message from Anonymous.

This is a message from the Global revolution to politicians, dictators and plutocrats all over the planet.
Surprised by the global disobedience?
Let us explain to you your delicate situation: Thousands of years ago, human beings started to evolve.

Since then, our species has walked a dark bloody road, which isolated people condemned to live in fear caused by ignorance.
Knowledge, ethics and technological development have always been conditioned by the elite and their wars, which as in the Orwellian metaphor, haven’t done anything but perpetuate vertical and obscurantist social schemes. 

We have arrived at the 21st Century of our era, after two World Wars, 
endorsing the possibility of nuclear conflicts with assured mutual destruction.

Their so-called economists and intellectuals, having announced that it was “the end of the story”, it seemed, more than ever, that looking for a fairer order was meaningless. 

Thinking they had slowed our rational development enough, they let us carry on with a progress model whose sole objective was never more than to make them even richer and more powerful. However, they didn’t consider that the real human spirit refuses to bow, always.
While they believed they were overcoming us definitely by using economic shocks,
our species has evolved in a new manner. 

Using only the powers of culture and freedom, we have reused those technological resources that were born of our genius and that they only provided us with consumerist intentions.

So we have updated, improved and immunized our force, operations and effectiveness. 

We absorb their own tactics, techniques and power of persuasion to form our own 
means, dreams and challenges.

Today, the pacific revolution is spreading around the planet as a challenge to their oppression and they shamelessly try to shut our freedom of expression.

Finally, information has reached critical mass, exploding in a melting-pot of voices whose new wishes and needs can’t be covered by their old paradigm. 

Now, physically and digitally interconnected, we form a huge collective conscience.

Maybe their corporative media silence what’s happening, but they can’t fool us 

They can temporally stop some points but the process will continue unstoppable and ever-changing. 
Now It doesn’t matter which measures they take for trying to 
counteract: the more violence, censorship and obstacles they put in our way, the 
more they expose their weakness.

From every place on Earth, with different ideas and from different conditions, women and men existed, exist and will exist who oppose the pretends of not really democratic and fair governments. 
After millenniums of suffering, our species has 
stood up and nothing will ever be the same.

Their totalitarian game is ending.

We are awake.

The story, friends, hasn’t ended yet: 
it now begins.

Here, in Mexico, we are marching against electoral fraud, committed on the 1th of July 2012 by the 
PRI party and Enrique Pena.
Mexico needs your help now.

Remember, the change is happening, with or 
without you. 

The people shouldn’t fear the government. 

The government should fear the people.

We are the people.

Twitter: @pacocjc

Musica: Sigur ros Hoppipolla
No copyright infringement intended

NEW VIDEO 64 CITIES AND FULL HD HERE: ‪http://youtu.be/WSd2JLRw6wQ

Protests are censored by the media in Mexico
Spanish subs video here: ‪http://youtu.be/EhaqAxF7V1E

Info on #Yosoy132 movement here: ‪http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yo_Soy_132

Nukes on Mars: NASA’s Dangerous Alliance With the Nuclear Industry

July 31st, 2012 - by admin

Karl Grossman / CounerPunch – 2012-07-31 10:44:45

Nukes on Mars

(July 30, 2012) — World Nuclear News, the information arm of the World Nuclear Association which seeks to boost the use of atomic energy, last week heralded a NASA Mars rover slated to land on Mars on Monday, the first Mars rover fueled with plutonium.

“A new era of space exploration is dawning through the application of nuclear energy for rovers on Mars and the Moon, power generation at future bases on the surfaces of both and soon for rockets that enable interplanetary travel,” began a dispatch from World Nuclear News. It was headed: “Nuclear ‘a stepping stone’ to space exploration.”

In fact, in space as on Earth there are safe, clean alternatives to nuclear power. Indeed, right now a NASA space probe energized by solar energy is on its way to Jupiter, a mission that, for years, NASA claimed could not be accomplished without nuclear power providing onboard electricity. Solar propulsion of spacecraft has begun. And also, scientists, including those at NASA, have been working on using solar energy and other safe power sources for human colonies on Mars and the Moon.

The World Nuclear Association describes itself as “representing the people and organizations of the global nuclear profession.” World Nuclear News says it “is supported administratively and with technical advice by the World Nuclear Association and is based within its London Secretariat.”

Its July 27th dispatch notes that the Mars rover that NASA calls Curiosity and intends to land on August 6th, is “powered by a large radioisotope thermal generator instead of solar cells” as previous NASA Mars rovers had been. It is fueled with 10.6 pounds of plutonium.

“Next year,” said World Nuclear News, “China is to launch a rover for the Moon” that also will be “powered by a nuclear battery.” And “most significant of all” in terms of nuclear power in space, continued v, “could be the Russian project for a ‘megawatt-class’ nuclear-powered rocket.”

It cites Anatoly Koroteev, chief of Russia’s Keldysh Research Centre, as saying the system being developed could provide “thrust…20 times that of current chemical rockets, enabling heavier craft with greater capabilities to travel further and faster than ever before.” There would be a “launch in 2018.”

The problem — a huge one and not mentioned whatsoever by World Nuclear News — involves accidents with space nuclear power systems releasing radioactivity impacting on people and other life on Earth. That has already happened. With more space nuclear operations, more atomic mishaps would be ahead.

NASA, before last November’s launch of Curiosity, acknowledged that if the rocket lofting it exploded at launch in Florida, plutonium could be released affecting an area as far as 62 miles away — highly-populated and including Orlando. Further, if the rocket didn’t break out of the Earth’s gravitational field, it and the rover would fall back into the atmosphere and break up, potentially releasing plutonium over a massive area.

In its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the mission, NASA said in this situation plutonium could impact on “Earth surfaces between approximately 28-degrees north latitude and 28-degrees south latitude.” That includes Central America and much of South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The EIS said the costs of decontamination of plutonium in areas would be $267 million for each square mile of farmland, $478 million for each square mile of forests and $1.5 billion for each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas.” The Curiosity mission itself, because of $900 million in cost overruns, now has a price of $2.5 billion.

NASA set the odds very low for a plutonium release for Curiosity. The EIS said “overall” on the mission, the likelihood of plutonium being released was 1-in-220.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space , for more than 20 years the leading opposition group to space nuclear missions, declared that “NASA sadly appears committed to maintaining its dangerous alliance with the nuclear industry. Both entities view space as a new market for the deadly plutonium fuel…Have we not learned anything from Chernobyl and Fukushima? We don’t need to be launching nukes into space. It’s not a gamble we can afford to take.”

Plutonium has long been described as the most lethal radioactive substance. And the plutonium isotope used in the space nuclear program, and on the Curiosity rover, is significantly more radioactive than the type of plutonium used as fuel in nuclear weapons or built up as a waste product in nuclear power plants. It is Plutonium-238 as distinct from Plutonium-239. Plutonium-238 has a far shorter half-life–87.8 years compared to Plutonium-239 with a half-life of 24,500 years. An isotope’s half-life is the period in which half of its radioactivity is expended.

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear physicist and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, explains that Plutonium-238 “is about 270 times more radioactive than Plutonium-239 per unit of weight.” Thus in radioactivity, the 10.6 pounds of Plutonium-238 being used on Curiosity is the equivalent of 2,862 pounds of Plutonium-239. The atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki used 15 pounds of Plutonium-239.

The far shorter half-life of Plutonium-238 compared to Plutonium-239 results in it being extremely hot. This heat is translated in a radioisotope thermoelectric generator into electricity.

The pathway of greatest health concern for plutonium is breathing in a particle leading to lung cancer. A millionth of a gram of plutonium can be a fatal dose. The EIS for Curiosity speaks of particles that would be “transported to and remain in the trachea, bronchi, or deep lung regions.” The particles “would continuously irradiate lung tissue.”

There hasn’t been an accident on the Curiosity mission. But the EIS acknowledged that there have been mishaps previously — in this spaceborne game of nuclear Russian roulette. Of the 26 earlier U.S. space missions that have used plutonium listed in the EIS, three underwent accidents, it admitted. The worst occurred in 1964 and involved, it noted, the SNAP-9A plutonium system aboard a satellite that failed to achieve orbit and dropped to Earth, disintegrating as it fell.

The 2.1 pounds of Plutonium-238 fuel onboard dispersed widely over the Earth. Dr. John Gofman, professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, long linked this accident to an increase in global lung cancer. With the SNAP-9A accident, NASA switched to solar energy on satellites. Now all satellites and the International Space Station are solar powered.

The worst accident of several involving a Soviet or Russian nuclear space systems was the fall from orbit in 1978 of the Cosmos 954 satellite powered by a nuclear reactor. It also broke up in the atmosphere as it fell, spreading radioactive debris over 77,000 square miles of the Northwest Territories of Canada.

In 1996, the Russian Mars 96 space probe, energized with a half-pound of Plutonium-238 fuel, failed to break out of the Earth’s gravity and came down — as a fireball — over northern Chile. There was fall-out in Chile and neighboring Bolivia.

Initiatives in recent years to power spacecraft safely and cleanly include the launch by NASA last August 8th of a solar-powered space probe it calls Juno to Jupiter. NASA’s Juno website currently reports: “The spacecraft is in excellent health and is operating nominally.” It is flying at 35,200 miles per hour and is to reach Jupiter in 2016. Even at Jupiter, “nearly 500 million miles from the Sun,” notes NASA, its solar panels will be providing electricity. Waves

Solar power has also begun to be utilized to propel spacecraft through the friction-less vacuum of space. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 2010 launched what it termed a “space yacht” called Ikaros which got propulsion from the pressure on its large sails from ionizing particles emitted by the Sun. The sails also feature “thin-film solar cells to generate electricity and creating,” said Yuichi Tsuda of the agency, “a hybrid technology of electricity and pressure.”

As to power for colonies on Mars and the Moon, on Mars, not only the sun is considered as a power source but also energy from the Martian winds. And, on the Moon, as The Daily Galaxy has reported: “NASA is eying the Moon’s south polar region as a possible site for future outposts.

The location has many advantages; for one thing, there is evidence of water frozen in deep dark south polar craters. Water can be split into oxygen to breathe and hydrogen to burn as rocket fuel — or astronauts could simply drink it. NASA’s lunar architects are also looking for what they call ‘peaks of eternal light’ — polar mountains where the sun never sets, which might be a perfect settings for a solar power station.”

Still, the pressure by promoters of nuclear energy on NASA and space agencies around the world to use atomic energy in space is intense — as is the drive of nuclear promoters on governments and the public for atomic energy on Earth.

Critically, nuclear power systems for space use must be fabricated on Earth — with all the dangers that involves, and launched from Earth — with all the dangers that involves (1 out of 100 rockets destruct on launch), and are subject to falling back to Earth and raining deadly radioactivity on human beings and other life on this planet.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Impacts of Mexico’s Drug War Spill Over into US

July 31st, 2012 - by admin

John Goheen / Witness & Al Jazeera – 2012-07-31 10:36:35


While Mexico’s drug war rages on, where do those caught in the crossfire find a safe haven?
Mexico’s Drug War and fort Hancock, Texas
Filmmaker John Goheen / Witness & Al Jazeera

FORT HANCOCK, Texas (July 31, 2012) — The flight of Mexicans to the US has long been primarily for economic reasons, but for many it has now become a matter of life and death.

Mexico is the battleground in an increasingly violent turf war over drugs and for many Mexicans in border communities the only safe haven lies across the international border. Meanwhile, the evolving situation is transforming towns in the US and forcing US officials to reconsider the concept of asylum, and who should qualify for the protection it offers.

In Fort Hancock, Texas, Mexicans from the nearby town of El Porvenir are begging to stay with American relatives because they say their town has been terrorised by drug gangs who have burned down homes and killed people in the street. Fear hangs in the air for Mexicans and Americans alike.

The number of Mexicans requesting asylum in the US has more than doubled over the course of a year. The problem is that Mexico has one of the largest rates of asylum denial, with just 183 of 9,000 requests granted in the last three years.

Emilio Gutierrez, a Mexican journalist, had his life threatened for writing stories about the drug situation in his home country, and fled to the US with his son. He is just one of many other media professionals who have fled Mexico on special temporary visas, who are desperate for legal status to remain there. He takes us through the agony of being a reporter stuck on the other side, watching his country get torn apart by the drugs war.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Marines’ New Battalions Eyed as World Police

July 31st, 2012 - by admin

AntiWar.com & Associated Press & Gulf News – 2012-07-31 10:32:50

US Marines’ New Battalions Eyed as World Police

US Marines’ New Battalions Eyed as World Police
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

WASHINGTON, DC (July 30, 2012) — Military police are nothing new, but the US Marines seem to be taking the concept to a new level, forming a growing number of new battalions of police meant not to police the military, but to be deployed abroad as a US-imposed police force for other nations.

The new “world police” battalions are being presented as a way for the US to quickly deploy police abroad for “anti-terror” or drug war operations, and it seems they won’t necessarily be confined to places under direct US occupation, and could be sent anywhere the US has designs on imposing a police state.

Military officials concede that the new system could be problematic, further blurring the lines between military and police and leaving it up to commanders to decide which laws actually apply to their deployments.

The move could reflect the repeated failure of the US government to create their preferred styles of police force out of whole cloth. Perhaps they figure installing US military police will be a simpler alternative, though it also risks even further mission creep and the prospect that the US will simply be directly owning and operating the open-ended police states they have so often backed abroad.

Marine Corps Create Law Enforcement Battalions
Associated Press & Gulf News

“Cops apply human rights law and Marines apply the law of war. Now that it’s blended, it makes it tougher… to make the decision as to when deadly force is not appropriate.”
— Gary Solis | 
Ex-Marine Corps judge

CAMP PENDLETON, California (July 27, 2012) — The Marine Corps has created its first law enforcement battalions – a lean, specialised force of military police officers that it hopes can quickly deploy worldwide to help investigate crimes from terrorism to drug trafficking and train fledgling security forces in allied nations.

The Corps activated three such battalions last month. Each is made up of roughly 500 military police officers and dozens of dogs. The Marine Corps has had police battalions off and on since the Second World War but they were primarily focused on providing security, such as accompanying fuel convoys or guarding generals on visits to dangerous areas, said Maj Jan Durham, commander of the 1st Law Enforcement Battalion at Camp Pendleton.

The idea behind the law enforcement battalions is to consolidate the military police and capitalise on their investigative skills and police training, he said. The new additions come as every branch in the military is trying to show its flexibility and resourcefulness amid defence cuts.

Marines have been increasingly taking on the role of a street cop along with their combat duties over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have been in charge of training both countries’ security forces. Those skills now can be used as a permanent part of the Marine Corps, Durham said.

The war on terror has also taught troops the importance of learning how to gather intelligence, secure evidence and assist local authorities in building cases to take down criminal networks. Troops have gotten better at combing raid sites for clues to help them track insurgents.

They also have changed their approach, realising that marching into towns to show force alienates communities. Instead, they are being taught to fan out with interpreters to strike up conversations with truck drivers, money exchangers, cellphone sellers and others. The rapport building can net valuable information that could even alert troops about potential attacks.

But no group of Marines is better at that kind of work than the Corps’ military police, who graduate from academies just like civilian cops, Durham said. He said the image of military police patrolling base to ticket Marines for speeding or drinking has limited their use in the Corps. He hopes the creation of the battalions will change that, although analysts say only the future will tell whether the move is more than just a rebranding of what already existed within the Corps.

The battalions will be capable of helping control civil disturbances, handling detainees, carrying out forensic work, and using biometrics to identify suspects. Durham said they could assist local authorities in allied countries in securing crime scenes and building cases so criminals end up behind bars and not back out on the streets because of mistakes.

“Over the past 11 years of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, some lessons learned painfully, there has been a growing appreciation and a demand for, on the part of the warfighter, the unique skills and capabilities that MPs bring to the fight,” Durham said. “We do enforce traffic laws and we do write reports and tickets, and that’s good, but we do so much more than that.”

Durham said the Marine Corps plans to show off its new battalions in Miami later this month at a conference put on by the Southern Command and that is expected to be attended by government officials from Central American countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize.

Defence analyst Loren Thompson said the battalions make sense given the nature of today’s global threats, which include powerful drug cartels and other criminal gangs that often mix with religious and political extremists, who use the profits to buy their weaponry.

“This is a smart idea because the biggest single problem the Marines have in dealing with low-intensity types of threats is that they basically are trained to kill people,” he said. “It’s good for the Marines to have skills that allow them to contain threats without creating casualties.”

Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University, said Marines have already been doing this kind of work for years but now that it has been made more formal by the creation of the battalions, it could raise a host of questions, especially on the use of force. The law of war allows for fighters to use deadly force as a first resort, while police officers use it as a last resort.

If Marines are sent in to do law enforcement but are attacked, will they go back to being warfighters? And if so, what are the implications? Solis asked.

“Am I a Marine or a cop? Can I be both?” he said. “Cops apply human rights law and Marines apply the law of war. Now that it’s blended, it makes it tougher for the young men and women who have to make the decision as to when deadly force is not appropriate.”

Durham said that military police understand that better than any Marine since they are trained in both.

“They are very comfortable with the escalation of force,” he said. “MPs get that. It’s fundamental to what we do.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Cost of the London Olympics

July 29th, 2012 - by admin

Counting the Cost / Al Jazeera – 2012-07-29 20:23:10


When the last medal is handed out, will British taxpayers get the legacy they are paying for?

(July 29, 2012) — As the 2012 London Olympics begin, we are focusing on the world’s most-watched sporting festival on this special edition of Counting the Cost.

Putting on the Olympics is a costly undertaking.

Top estimates for the Athens 2004 Games were more than $10 billion; Barcelona in 1994 was $11.8 billion; and Sydney, seen as one of the most successful games, came in at a relatively cheap $3 billion.

So what is the price tag for London’s Games?

Since the 2008 financial crisis the estimated cost of the games has risen. The latest government report has the games on target to cost $14.5bn of public sector money.

However, a recent parliamentary committee warned the full cost of the games could amount to $17bn and skeptics are saying it could be even more. So there is the cost but how will the Olympics affect the British economy?

A report by VISA predicts an increase in consumer spending of $1.2bn during the games and an $8bn stimulus to the British economy over three years.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, is more optimistic, saying that the London Games will generate over $20bn.

But when the games are over and the last medal is handed out, what kind of legacy will be left?

The idea of creating a legacy in London’s East End was central to London’s successful bid back in 2005.

In Victorian times, east London was a black hole of slums and disease. It got bombed heavily in World War II. Nowadays, it can still present a picture of gloom, the forgotten part of the British capital, so London’s bid for the Olympics offered hope that the games might finally turn the area around.

But there are grave concerns that the poor and those in most need around the site are in danger of being priced out of their own community. So will there be a legacy for all? And what are the challenges?

Joining us to discuss this is Daniel Moylan, the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation; and Pamela Gardner, the director of neighbourhoods and communities at East Thames, a housing provider and social regeneration charity.

A more immediate challenge than creating a legacy is providing security. And the scale of the security operation for London 2012 is quite staggering.

It will be the largest peacetime security operation in the UK since World War II – the security budget for the games has now increased to $860m and 18,200 members of the armed forces are being deployed to help with security.

Joining us is Dr. Pete Fussey, a senior lecturer in Criminology at the University of Essex whose work has focused on security and regeneration in relation to major events.

He says: “After the Montreal Olympics in 1976 …, the IOC said they want a spectacle of sport not a spectacle of security, but what we have here is an Olympic Games that you can see in the heart of an existing city, so whereas somewhere like Sydney, where all the security infrastructure and the games were outside the city, here it’s in the heart of the city, so I think it’s unavoidable to really see these kind of military aspects. They are much more visible than they were at previous Olympics and as a result they are much more controversial.”

Counting the Cost is also looking at the Olympic trademark and the issues behind it.

Small British businesses are being prevented from benefiting from Olympic fever due to strict policing of the Olympic trademark by the the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog).

The Federation of Small Businesses claim Locog has lost “all sense of reasonableness and proportion” and has gone too far in its enforcement. So is the Olympic branding clampdown going too far? And are Olympic organisers killing off the spirit of the Games?

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali

Mitt Romney’s Pork Barrel Olympics

July 29th, 2012 - by admin

Tim Murphy / Mother Jones Magazine – 2012-07-29 20:16:27

Mitt Romney’s Pork Barrel Olympics

(July 26, 2012) — GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is in London for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 summer games — part of a three-country world tour designed to build his foreign policy resume and shake down overseas donors.

The Romney campaign will run television ads during the games touting the candidate’s experience as CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, where he was widely credited with turning around the scandal-plagued organizing effort.

What Romney doesn’t talk about is how he succeeded in Utah with government help — lots of it — and how millions in assistance that he pried out of the feds ended up bankrolling subsidies, sweetheart deals, and giveaways for land developers and other well-connected Utahns.

As Romney chastises the president for pointing out that successful business ventures benefit from a larger social compact and accuses critics of pining for “free stuff,” Romney is simultaneously touting an Olympic effort that, more than any other in American history, succeeded thanks to public investment — some of it sunk into questionable projects of marginal value to the Salt Lake games.

“The $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars that Congress is pouring into Utah is 1.5 times the amount spent by lawmakers to support all seven Olympic Games held in the U.S. since 1904 — combined,” Donald Barlett and James Steele reported for Sports Illustrated in 2001. Those numbers were adjusted for inflation.

How the Salt Lake Games came to receive more money than any games in American history isn’t much of a mystery. The organizers, including Romney, asked for it. In his 2004 book, Turnaround, Romney acknowledges the central role of the federal government in making the Olympics possible. “No matter how well we did cutting costs and raising revenue, we couldn’t have Games without the support of the federal government,” he wrote.

Romney emphasized cost-cutting at every step of the process, moving the Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s DC office from a swank building next door to the White House, to a cheaper, comparatively Spartan flat next to a burrito shop. But the flow of federal cash continued unabated.

In 2000, with the opening ceremonies still more than a year away, Arizona Sen. John McCain called the Salt Lake price tag “a disgrace,” and partnered with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to demand a Government Accountability Office investigation into how the games could cost so much. Romney’s response was muted.

As he explained in a letter to the GAO: “Recognizing that our government spends billions of dollars to maintain wartime capability, it is entirely appropriate to invest several hundred millions to promote peace.”

In Turnaround, Romney explained that the Salt Lake Olympics would cost more in large part because winter Olympics tend to cost more, by virtue of the fact that they mostly take place on mountains.

“We had to construct access roads, widen highways and overpasses, and build a network of massive park-and-ride lots,” he wrote. Besides, he explained, Atlanta had already upgraded its infrastructure prior to receiving the Olympic bid; Salt Lake City, on the other hand, was still in the process of improving its roads and transit.

But even some of the more maligned projects, like a new light rail system to be built in Salt Lake City, received Romney’s endorsement. Although Romney spends several pages in Turnaround blasting the $326 million project as unnecessary and an example of wasteful “truth stretching” from local governing bodies, he eventually signed on to the Mayor of Salt Lake City’s letter to Congress asking for money to build it.

The most damning aspect of the Salt Lake tab wasn’t the final amount, but how it was being spent. In their exhaustively researched Sports Illustrated accounting, Barlett and Steele explain how many Olympics projects amounted to little more than slush funds for wealthy donors to the games.

Wealthy Utahns used the games as an excuse to receive exemptions for projects that would otherwise never meet environmental standards, or to receive generous subsidies for improvements of questionable value to the games — but with serious value to future real estate developments.

In one example, a wealthy developer received $3 million to build a three-mile stretch of road through his resort. Where’d he get the money? Federal funds that had been deposited in the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund. Per the piece:

The U.S. Treasury collects royalties from mining and petroleum companies that prospect and drill on federal lands, and from individuals and businesses that buy and sell the related leases. The Treasury returns half the payments to the states where the lands are located.

States generally distribute the money as grants or loans to those communities that have been socially or economically affected by prospecting or drilling. In Utah this money traditionally has gone to struggling counties to help with public needs, like purchasing a fire truck.

Now the state was going to give $2 million in federal royalties to Summit County — by far the state’s richest county, and one in which a majority of the mines closed years ago — and the money would be in the form of an outright grant rather than a loan, even though the fund’s rules state that grants can be made “only when the other financing mechanisms cannot be utilized, where no reasonable method of repayment can be identified, or in emergency situations regarding public health and/or safety.”

On top of that the grant was earmarked for construction of a road that would benefit a private developer.

The $3 million resort road wasn’t unique. Snowbasin, the site of the downhill skiing championships in 2002, was one of the more notorious examples of a well-connected Utahn getting a sweetheart deal in the name of the Olympics. Earl Holding, a billionaire oil baron, pressured the Forest Service into giving him title to valuable land in Park Valley in exchange for land of “approximate equal value” elsewhere in the state.

But Holding drove a hard bargain; he got Congress to foot the bill for a new — and arguably unnecessary — access road (cost: $15 million), and received more than 10 times the 100 acres that were necessary for the Games. That would allow him to turn what was once protected federal land into a massive, and lucrative, mountain resort.

The government was so instrumental in making the Olympic games happen that Romney created a special award, the “Order of Excellence,” to honor public servants who had helped them pull it off. Among the recipients: John Hoagland, the US Forest Service official responsible for the land transfer of the Snowbasin downhill skiing site.

The government largesse, however, has done little to deter Romney from using the 2002 Olympics as an example of cost-cutting purity. “While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the Bridge to Nowhere,” Romney told Rick Santorum at a debate in February.

Maybe they weren’t so different after all.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Which Countries Are the Real Olympic Winners?

July 29th, 2012 - by admin

Dave Gilson / Mother Jones Magazine – 2012-07-29 20:11:03

Charts: Which Countries Are the Real Olympic Winners?

Which Countries Are the Real Olympic Winners?
Faster, higher, smaller?
A different way of measuring who does best at the summer games

LONDON (July 27, 2012) — When all the medals from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London are tallied up, the top slots will likely be occupied by the usual suspects — the United States, China, and Russia. But what if we tried to measure countries’ Olympic achievements without simply counting how many medals they bring home? What if we compared their athletes’ performance against the size of their economies and populations?

That’s what this interactive chart does. Click the play button at the bottom to see animated data starting in 1960. Hover over dots to see country names; click on a dot to turn on its label. (And scroll down to the bottom of this post for a customizable version.)

As you’ll see in the chart above, looking at Olympic records this way produces some interesting results. For example, in the 2008 Beijing games, Jamaica only won 11 medals (or 32 medal points, if you assign 4 points to gold, 2 to silver, 1 to bronze). But it outperformed the big guns like the United States and China when it came to how many medal points it got relative to its developing economy and tiny population. While the US garnered 0.02 medal points per billion dollars of GDP and 0.8 medal points for every 1 million Americans, Jamaica picked up 2.2 medal points per billion dollars of GDP and 11.9 medal points for every 1 million Jamaicans. Not bad.

By this metric, other countries that outperformed the big medal winners in 2008 included the Bahamas, Cuba, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mongolia, and Zimbabwe.

This isn’t necessarily a sign that these countries are up-and-coming athletic powerhouses. In some cases it simply means that they have a handful of world-class athletes and terrible economies (e.g. Ethiopia and Zimbabwe). Doing well in events that award a lot of medals also helps (e.g., Cuba and boxing and judo.)

Other factors that may help countries’ overall Olympic performance: Being a former member of the Soviet Bloc or a country with a planned economy, since they are more likely to aggressively recruit and train athletes. Being the host country also provides a bump (e.g. Mexico in 1968).

A few other trends and stories pop out when you look at the data between 1960 and 2008:

* The United States’ performance relative to its population has remained pretty steady. But its performance relative to GDP has been dropping, due to economic growth.

* After poor showings in the ’60s and ’70s, China has become a major Olympic contender. Its performance relative to GDP has fallen as its economy has grown, while its performance relative to its massive population has been increasing.

• A big population can mean more medals, but it isn’t necessarily an advantage; consider India, which has a dismal Olympic record.

* A lot more countries, especially small and/or poor ones, are picking up medals. In 1960, the medals were gobbled up by big and/or rich countries. Those countries still do well, but the field is a lot more competitive now. (Note the appearance of more green and blue dots over time.) Poorer countries tend to perform better relative to their GDPs than rich ones. Wealthier countries tend to perform better relative to their population sizes than poor ones.

A few notes about the data: The chart only shows data for summer Olympic games. The economic data is incomplete for several countries, most notably Russia and other former Soviet Bloc countries; their GDPs and per capita GDPs are recorded as zero for many years. Though the data is in four-year increments, the chart automatically extrapolates the years in between games; it’s pretty, but obviously no one won any medals in 2007 or 1961.

Other quirks in the data: West and East Germany fielded a single national team in 1960 and 1964. In 1992, Russia and 11 other former Soviet republics formed the Unified Team. That year, athletes from Yugoslavia and Macedonia competed as the Independent Olympic Participants.

The United States and many other nations won no medals in 1980 since they boycotted the Moscow Olympics; likewise, Russia and several Soviet-aligned nations won no medals in 1984 when they boycotted the Los Angeles games.

Use the fully customizable chart below to further explore the data. Leave your findings and questions in the comments.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

London 2012: Welcome to the Idiot Games

July 29th, 2012 - by admin

Tanya Gold /The Guardian – 2012-07-29 20:07:00


LONDON (27 July 2012) — Tomorrow sees the anti-Olympic protest, which is in London’s Mile End Park and includes deputations from cross citizens, who are presumed to wear small knitted hats and to hate everything, especially stick-throwing and joy. (Do come along.)

Unless, of course, as conspiracy theorists contend, the protest will be annihilated by teenage G4S storm-troopers carrying microwave weapons. (Perhaps G4S are more of a danger to themselves?)

We have heard complaints about cleaners living in box rooms, and evil sponsors, and we have learned what a militarist dictatorship feels like — it feels like an airport. Now we are in the patriotic backwash, as journalists watch people doing the same thing at the same time and attempt to analyse it, which is futile because it is so simple.

The Olympic Games is a Mexican wave, and if a wave feels like unity, then so does any act that everyone can engage in, including death. It feels almost too late to say that many communal endeavours excite me, but men throwing sticks do not.

Boo, you say. But I write for those who see the Olympics as a giant sports day that has screamed unasked out of the unconscious, with additional economic repercussions, and who would probably enjoy it more if there had been less hypocrisy. I cannot conclude my anti-Olympic sentiments without mentioning Atos, sponsors of the Paralympics, and the company responsible for testing, or rather removing, disability living allowance.

I will only say that if the Olympic mascots, two one-eyed drips of steel called Wenlock and Mandeville, applied to Atos for disability living allowance, which is surely the inalienable right of all cyclops, they probably wouldn’t get it.

Now it is here, the only sensible course is to treat the Games as a fascinating anthropological experiment, as people who would normally avoid London arrive to participate in the “Stupid Olympics”.

The most fun so far was watching Mitt Romney, whose name translated into German is almost, but not quite, “With Stupid”, call Ed Miliband “Mr Leader”. This is all good, but it is not worth £9 billion and it is not a legacy unless Mr Leader adopts Mr Leader as his full-time nickname, which I hope he does.

Almost as fun was the North Korean meltdown over the wrong flag flying at the football – Flag Wars (Heat 1). I hoped that the North Koreans had better things to worry about, including the possible existence of a new first lady, or Comrade Wife, called Ri Sol-ju, but they do not.

The Taiwanese are also annoyed, because China made the terrified Regent Street Happy Flag Depository take down the Taiwanese flag, possibly because Hamleys can’t afford to lose the Chinese embassy account (Flag Wars – Heat 2).

This is all Playmobil diplomacy, and it is almost as wonderful as watching the Eurovision song contest morph into a metaphor for no one being over the Franco-Prussian war, as it always does.

The possibilities for chaos were symbolised when the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, attempted to ring a bell today; it fell apart, made a woman scream and the scene is now available on YouTube with a disco mix. When asked about Hunt’s “mishap with the bell end”, the mayor of London said he was “head down doing other things”.

Then there is the arrival in London of heads of state who were told they could not travel to the opening ceremony in a crocodile of rival limousines (Limo Wars), but had to congregate at Buckingham Palace and get on a bus: the world’s wackiest school trip. It even had monitors. To have so many tyrants collected together that they have to travel in a pack is hardly democratic, but watching them likewise tyrannised is gratifying.

The new Serbian president, Tomislav Nikolic, said in advance he would definitely not shake hands with, and so presumably did not sit next to, Kosovo’s prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, and hopefully there were other fights. Who sat at the front with the Queen and who sat at the back and threw Rice Krispies at Michelle Obama? As I write we don’t know, but it is all fascinating.

What of the athletes? I think they are ill-served by the coverage so far, which is segueing, inevitably, into drooling. There have been disgusting articles about the sex lives of swimmers, and the gay dating app (OK, dating is a euphemism) Grindr had to deny that it crashed for 24 hours on Monday because the athletes arrived at their fortified village and fell on top of each other.

This prurience will doubtless ebb as the athletes start throwing sticks, but the International Olympic Committee didn’t help by announcing that it will not spot-check competitors’ underwear for unauthorised logos (Logo Wars), although if they drop their shorts they may be dragged into a room by G4S stormtroopers and a representative of the Daily Mail, or at least fined.

It goes on. Paul Allen’s Octopus, a yacht so huge it makes the other yachts self-harm, is in West India Dock; the German ship Deutschland, here to host the German Olympic Committee, but which I am now calling the German Sex Boat, is nearby. Around these monsters, in the Bus Lanes of Despair, and in the voices of our leaders, you will watch the real Games.

Twitter: @TanyaGold1

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Policing: Institutionalizing Brutality?

July 28th, 2012 - by admin

Inside Story Americas / Al Jazeera – 2012-07-28 23:14:09


“I’ve lived in this community my whole life and it’s sad when you have to be scared for your kids to go outside.”
— Louisa Sanchez, a protester

(July 26, 2012) — Extreme police tactics are not a new phenomenon in the US. But in the age of social media, police violence, such as the shooting of unarmed people and the use of pepper spray and taser guns, are being documented for the world to see.

Occupy protesters throughout the country felt the full force of police tactics — many were subject to violent arrest. Perhaps the most controversial example was at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) where peaceful protesters were pepper sprayed last November.

It is more than 20 years since a recording of police violence sparked riots in Los Angeles. The beating of Rodney King was caught on video and the footage shocked the world. But two decades later how much has changed?

On Saturday, police in the Californian city of Anaheim shot and killed Manuel Diaz, an unarmed man who they said was running from them, hitting him in the leg and the back of the head.

Police said he and another young man shot dead the following day were both gang members. But local residents say the Latino men were victims of racial profiling and an overly aggressive police force.

The community reacted furiously and on Tuesday night, when protesters attempted to attend a city council meeting, they were barred from entering city hall by police who said the meeting room was full.

The protesters reacted by throwing rocks and bottles at the police and setting fire to bins. Hundreds of police in riot gear responded by firing non-lethal rounds at the crowd. At least six people were injured and police made two dozen arrests.

The clashes between protesters and police have now gone on for several days and nights. In one incident, police fired rubber bullets at near point blank range and police dogs attacked protesters. Mobile phone footage of the incident went viral, attracting nationwide attention.

Anaheim’s mayor says federal officials have agreed to investigate the shootings. But the city, where there have been six fatal police shootings this year, is now being compared to a powder keg.

So is policing in the US becoming increasingly militarised?

To discuss this, Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guests: Jumana Musa, a human rights lawyer who is deputy director of the Rights Working Group; Gustavo Arellano, the editor of the OC Weekly, a newspaper that has been covering the shootings; and Raymond Lewis, a retired Philadelphia police captain who was arrested by New York police while taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests last year.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Pentagon’s 30,000-pound Bunker-buster ‘Superbomb’ Ready for Use

July 28th, 2012 - by admin

Russia Today – 2012-07-28 23:13:30


( July 28, 2012) — The biggest conventional bomb ever developed is ready to wreak destruction upon the enemies of the US. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said its record-breaking bunker-buster has become operational after years of testing.

­”If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do that,” said Donley. “We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing. We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today.”

The Pentagon has spent $330 million to develop and deliver more than 20 of the precision-guided Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker-busters, which are designed to blast through up to 200 feet of concrete.

Although there has previously been a bigger nuclear device, the new conventional rocket is six times the weight of the previous bunker-buster used by the US Air Force, and carries an explosive payload of 5,300 pounds.

US military chiefs openly admitted the weapon was built to attack the fortified nuclear facilities of “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea. Although the Pentagon insists that it is not aimed at a specific threat, unnamed officials within the ministry have repeatedly claimed the bomb is being tailor-made to disable Iranian nuclear facilities at Fordo, or at least to intimidate Tehran.

Iran is working at breakneck speed to expand its Fordo uranium enrichment facility, which is built inside a mountain in the heart of the country, and has previously been declared “impregnable” by senior officials in Tehran. Iran has often paraded its fast-advancing nuclear program, while denying that it intends to build a nuclear bomb.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon rapidly diverted $120 million in two separate tranches from other weapons programs to MOPs. The money was transferred to significantly redesign and upgrade the precision-guided missile to provide “an enhanced threat response” against the “deepest bunkers.”

Donley’s claim can be read as a reassertion of US determination to thwart Iran’s atomic ambitions.

Whether the MOP would be able to actually destroy Fordo is open to debate and may not be known by either of the sides.

The effectiveness of bunker-busters depends on the strength of the soil into which it plunges, how well it makes contact, and the internal structure of the facilities. In the case of Fordo, the US may only have a sketchy idea of its layout.

At best, the US believes a successful strike could set the Iranian program back several years, and, at worst, to at least collapse the passageways to the facility and force substantial rebuilding work.

Two bombs can be mounted simultaneously on a modified B-52 bomber, and a US official previously claimed the effectiveness of any operation would depend on how many “tries at the apple” the US bombers get.

Nonetheless, even if the MOP can be of limited effectiveness against Iran, the United States has precious little alternative. The only other weapon capable of destroying such a facility from the air would be a tactical nuclear missile.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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