Monthly Archives: September 2005

Heading out… to camp!

Well, after a few days of uncertainty it looks as though a few friends are coming into town and we’ll be camping at the family lake for a few days. What?! Me away from my PowerBook for a week? Yes, quite possible. We’ll be camping for at least three or four days, possibly more. This actually comes at a good time. I probably need a break from the digital realm, if only for a week.
About the lake… 300 acres of rolling hills, glades, woodland, and a bit of grassland. Lake is full of bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie… and more. Yup, this is a place i may one day call home. I’m looking into the possibility of building a cabin and down the road who knows. I’m fairly certain this is land that could support the family if need be. It will take some work but between the fish and the potential for gardens… it’s certainly on my mind as I watch the approach of both short-term and long-term energy crisis. Folks that know me know that I’ve been struggling to exist in this world… moving off into the woods is a very real possibility for me.
In many ways I’ve spent the past 15 years living a life that has prepared me for a self reliant existence. As I’ve posted here before it is my belief that it is only a matter of time before America will be forced into a radical restructuring that will require decentralization of food and energy production. I guess I’m thinking I’ll get a head start.
My basic plan is to start with a small simple cabin and from there I’ll have a comfortable base from which to develop the gardens and experiment with building cob structures. I suppose I have not totally committed to the project but it seems to be one of the best options.

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What would you do?

First, let me say that I rarely send jokes via email. I’ve probably sent fewer than 5 in 8 years. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a joke on this blog. First time for everything. This had me rolling.

This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.

Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.

Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.

You are in Florida, Miami to be specific.

There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions. You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you’re caught in the middle of this epic disaster.

The situation is nearly hopeless and you’re trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.

Suddenly you see a man floundering in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer… Somehow the man looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is. It’s George W. Bush!

At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him under … forever.

You have two options–you can save the life of G.W. Bush or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize
winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world’s most powerful men.

So here’s the question, and please give an honest answer:

Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

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Oil, Natural Gas, and Gasoline: Shortage is coming

I was just speaking to my brother about his take on the current energy situation. I often use him and other family members as a gauge of how aware other folks in the country might be on a particular issue. In this case my query concerned energy and in particular Gulf of Mexico related fuels. His take, based on CNN and other corporate media was that there was little to no damage to the energy infrastructure in the Gulf. His co-workers (tech workers at a very large brokerage firm) are all of the opinion that any rise in gas prices are due to gas gouging by the gas companies.
I never fail to be amazed by the level of ignorance that my fellow citizens manage to achieve with the help of the corporate media.
Perhaps I’m a freak, perhaps I’m obsessed… probably a bit of both. Suffice it to say I’ve spent far too much of my time looking at the energy base of our society. It’s not good folks, not good at all.
Now, I’m not saying that gas companies don’t gouge, I’m certain they do. Don’t complain, okay? It’s capitalism and most people love capitalism, don’t they? I mean, it’s the only way, is it not? Yup, ya gotta love capitalism and ya can’t get too pissy about a bit of gouging now and then. But capitalism is not the focus of this post so let me get back on track.
At this moment the energy infrastructure (oil drilling and production platforms) in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico is heavily damaged. After Katrina and in the weeks before Rita, 50-60% of oil production was shut down. Thats 24 days at less than half. Since Rita it has been 0. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Normally we get 1.5 million barrels a day. But this my friends is not the whole story.
Natural gas is another part of the story. We use it to heat our homes, our water, and to cook with. It’s also used to generate electricity and is an important ingredient for making fertilizer for farmers. After Katrina and in the weeks before Rita, 35-45% of natural gas production was shut down. Since Rita 75% of the natural gas production has been shut down. Normal natural gas production is 10 billion cubic feet per day.
If you’d like more details check the source. The most recent shut-in stats (9/27/2005) here.
But wait, there’s more. If we move inland we find that the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana are home to more than 25% of the U.S. refinery infrastructure. After Katrina 5% of this production was offline. Since Rita 25% has been shut down. Current estimates are that 2-3 refineries representing 500,000+ barrels of gasoline have light to moderate damage. That may not seem to bad but that is not the whole picture. The local power infrastructure is down and the current estimate is that the refineries themselves will not have power for 15-30 days. If those estimates are correct the U.S. will have lost 25% of its gas production for 15+ days. This will be offset a wee bit by conservation as well as gasoline imports but those will be minimal. At the moment there are no more tankers available to bring imported product. Shipping companies are rushing to clean a few “dirty” tankers to make them available but as it stands now, there will be a wait.
As we move into the fall and winter our gasoline and diesel supply is low. Our natural gas supply is low. Now is normally the time that refineries shift from producing gasoline to begin producing higher quantities of heating oil for the winter. Now is the time that natural gas should be produced for the coming cold months. This is all the short term and it’s not pretty with various shortages likely.
Let’s put into the larger context and a larger time frame. The simple truth is that demand for energy, and oil in particular, has grown to the limit of supply. The planet’s oil fields are tapped out and we find ourselves at or very near to peak production. Generally this means that we have gotten half of the oil out of the ground. It also means that we’ve gotten the easiest to get oil and the majority of the light sweet oil which is much easier to refine. All future oil is of much lower quality, dirty oil that will need more refinement. What does that mean? It means it will cost more and require more energy… yes, it takes energy to get energy, don’t forget that. Oh, and it will be harder to get out of the ground in the first place which means more energy just to get it to refinement. That is the larger context and the future. It only gets more difficult, more expensive, and dirtier.
A further consideration is that as we have reached peak oil we have a planet of people that do not share resources equally. Non-western nations average 2 barrels of oil per person per year while those of us in the U.S. and other “western” nations use 18 barrels of oil per person per year. Most recently and in the near future we can see and should continue to expect China and India to dramatically increase their use of oil. Add to this the disruptions to production caused by political instabilities, war, and the occasional hurricane and it should become obvious that supplies are balanced on a razor’s edge. Shortages will happen and in the future they will become a fact of life for those of us who have gotten used to a steady supply.
Folks, like it or not, this is the situation. Some will run from this reality until it slaps them squarely in the face and even then they will do their best to deny it. Denial won’t change the reality though. So folks, while gouging may happen I assure you higher prices are coming and they are just the beginning. I expect that in the near and increasingly desperate future $5/gallon gas will not be the issue, finding a station with gas will be the issue. This winter the price of heating our home will not be the only issue, hundreds or possibly thousands of frozen poor and elderly people will be the issue.
These past few weeks the media, markets, and government react to this energy crisis just as they always have which is to say they don’t. They’re doing their very best to ignore it in the vain hope that it will go away. I don’t think that it works that way.

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Creating an Ecological Society

As I write this we are three weeks out from the landfall of hurricane Katrina with the arrival of hurricane Rita due tomorrow. Both of these storms have scored direct hits to critical elements of the U.S. fossil fuel-based energy system. My guess is that the higher gas prices may draw the attention of a few americans to the razor edge that their way of life balances upon. I fear that many will not bother to investigate.
They may complain about gouging by the gas companies but they’ll do little more. Now, if the damage to this oil and gas infrastructure is severe enough as I hope it will be, we may see something more. It is sad, not to mention dangerous, that we humans are apparently incapable of true rational thought. Or perhaps we’ve been trained to avoid it? In any case, my goal at the moment is not to dive too deeply into the ways in which we have failed to confront our social and ecological problems, but to offer a glimpse of what the alternative may be.

Many of us believe that time is short and that it may even be too late. We have before us two very great problems which, incidentally, have a common solution. The problems: human induced climate change and the peak production of oil. These are problems that have been discussed for many years though little action has been taken to avoid either one. Given the urgency of the situation I’d like to offer up a few thoughts.

First, let’s stop waiting for corrupt, corporate controlled government to fix it. The recent ineptness of FEMA in New Orleans is just one indicator of government priorities. Let me be clear here, it’s not just the Federal level of government but even state and local. The root problem (in the U.S.) is that we citizens stopped being citizens. We stopped taking responsibility for our lives on every level. Sure, many of us can hold down jobs enough to have some sort of family and to provide that family with some version of the American Dream. But that seems to be the extent of our social responsibility. We’ve left all levels of governance to others and those others do not have our interests in mind. In abandoning our citizenship we’ve abandoned any real claim to meaningful democracy.

Time for a bit of direct action, eh? What I’d propose here is that we make political parties irrelevant. We fire them because that’s what you do when you are the boss. We need to remember that we employ these people. Next, we need to get busy with the crucial work of rebuilding our culture, our society, and our economy, all from the bottom up. With that I finally get back round to the original purpose of this post which was to advocate the building of an ecological society. An ecological society is not one based on private profit or capitalism for that matter. An ecological society is one which seeks balance within the natural world.

Time for small things. What is proposed here and in many other places is a society that is fundamentally local. Be it rural, city, small town, it is small and intimate because it rests respectfully within the processes of the natural world.

There can be no doubt that an ecological society is totally and completely different from the one we inhabit today. An ecological society is one without Target and Walmart, without mass markets of goods produced in China and sold in the U.S., without 45 minute commutes in SUVs, and without California produce. Such a new ecological society will rely primarily upon local and regional resources which should be processed by local and regional people.
Drawing by Dan O’Leary, based on details of Dian Shatz’s “Visions of Ecotopia” Scanned cover of Murray Bookchin’s Toward an Ecological Society

Other images from Bioshelters, Ocean Arks, City Farming: Ecology as the Basis of Design by Nancy Jack Todd and John Todd

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Rita: The perfect storm and peak oil

Here we are just three weeks after Katrina which caused major damage and production stoppage in the east side of the Gulf of Mexico oil/gas patch. If Rita hits near Galveston, TX it will hit a core component of the U.S. oil and gas infrastructure. Might it be possible that Americans will begin to think more about the fossil fuel resources that their lives are based on? I have my hopes and my doubts.
I think this comment over at The Oil Drum puts it well:

So, to summarize the current situation:
Refiners: “We are at our limit, can’t use the sour crude, pushing off repairs and closing down production in anticipation of Rita”
OPEC: “Want more Heavy Sour Crude? Here’s 2 mbd. Otherwise we are at our limit.”
Nigeria: “We are in a civil war and cannot guarantee production.”
Iraq: “We are in an insurgency/civil war and cannot guarantee production.”
Iran: “We are going to leave OPEC and cut exports if you keep trying to block our Nuke plants”
Venzuela: “America is going to invade us for our oil”
Non-OPEC: “We are at our production limit”
Bush/Delay: “I’m worried that if we don’t make the tax cuts permanent, the economy might falter”

American Public: “Cut the gas tax now”

Good summary, but you forgot one…
GM: Hey, everybody! Look at the new SUV’s we’re announcing! Shiny!

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Democracy Now! interview Venezuela’s President Chavez

Hugo Chavez: “If the Imperialist Government of the White House Dares to Invade Venezuela, the War of 100 Years Will be Unleashed in South America”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks on Democracy Now! in his first interview in the United States. Chavez discusses the war in Iraq, President Bush, the role of the media in the aborted coup against him and Venezuela’s request for the extradition of Cuban anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles.

In a speech before the world body, Chavez accused the US of trying to hijack the UN summit and described the US as a terrorist nation because it is harboring the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson who recently called for his assassination. He has accused the United States of being behind the aborted coup against him in 2002, condemned the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Scores of world leaders have come to the United States for the United Nations summit. Among them, Venezuelan President Chavez. In a speech before the world body Chavez accused the U.S. of trying to hijack the U.N. Summit and described the United States as a terrorist nation because it’s harboring the televangelist Pat Robertson who recently called for Chavez’s assassination. President Chavez also accused the United States of being behind the reported coup against him in 2002. Chavez condemned the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States. Democracy Now! met with president Chavez on Friday, in his first sit-down interview in the United States. I interviewed him with Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez and Margaret Prescott of KPFK. We talked to the president at the Venezuelan ambassador’s home here in New York.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President Hugo Chavez, your assessment of president Bush, of the invasion and occupation of Iraq? And do you think if it weren’t Iraq, it would have been Venezuela?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: The imperialist government of Mr. Bush planned. What is the U.S. government looking for? And the elite governing this country? They’re looking for oil. This is part of the crisis that is looming in the horizon. You should know that the U.S., I already said this, 5% of the world population lives in this country and you consume 25% of the energy. That this consumption is partially rational, I am convinced that the U.S. people will wake up to the reality of things. Yesterday morning, we were coming from the airport for instance, it was the traffic jam time, it was very packed in the highway coming from the airport here. I talked to the people in my car, looked outside, looked at the cars surrounding us. Out of a hundred cars, ninety-nine were occupied by a single person, the driver only. Cars occupying the highways, and burning fuel, how many gallons of fuel were burned yesterday morning, polluting the environment? That’s the extreme of individualism. And public transportation, we don’t see large buses coming from the airport here. So this is pure individualism, this is capitalism.

This planet cannot stand this model any longer. I think developed countries– so-called developed countries should reflect upon the way of living and the waste of energy. And the government knows this. The big trans-nationals know this. The U.S. only has 20 billion barrels of oil in reserve. It seems as though there is no more oil around. Venezuela has 300 billion barrels of oil in reserves. Iraq has like 150 billion barrels of oil. Iran, close to 300 billion barrels of reserve. Oil for 200 years of course. Now, it is clear that the U.S. government wants that oil. That’s why they planned, first they tried to get the Venezuelan oil and, of course the coup, they staged against us. That was an oil-motivated coup. They want to have the control over Venezuelan oil before going for the Iraq, for Iraq’s oil.

They failed in Venezuela. So they went to attack Iraq. And the soldiers. And when I saw on TV how they were broadcasting in the evening news of the tanks attacking Baghdad, advancing toward Baghdad, and they said the Baghdad population were going to receive the American marines with flowers. I said, those people are nuts. They’re insane. These people have been combating for centuries. This is the Mesopotamian people. I know a little bit of the spirit of the Arab countries. Those are warriors, ten times more warriors than we are. They’ve been struggling in war for many centuries. They’re going to receive, not with flowers, they’re going to resist the occupation. That’s the reality we are facing today. The U.S. government, they fooled the U.S. soldiers, telling them, no, its going to be a piece of cake, that your going to be received as heroes, that the Arabian girls will throw flowers at them. They are drowning in a quagmire of blood and it is very painful. That’s the risk that is hovering over the world today. They are now threatening Iraq. There are still threats over Venezuela. They still think about assassinating me. There are also plans to invade Venezuela. Now, when you know the way of thinking of those in the White House, any insanity is possible. Now, let me tell you this, if the imperialist government of the White House led an invasion against Venezuela, well, the war of 100 years will be unleashed in South America. Because with our teeth, with our nails with our knees, we will go to struggle and defend our dignity in South America. Now, I aspire and I pray to God that this will never occur. We want peace. We want life. We want to have eternal relations with these sisters countries, sister nations.

The U.S. people have a major role to play to solve, to save this planet. Because we’re talking about the government. I was reading recently, Noam Chomsky, I read him very frequently. And in one of his most recent books, Chomsky, I would like very much to shake hands with Chomsky. I’ve been reading him for a while. I admire him enormously. The name of the book is “Hegemony or Survival” its what Rosa Luxemburg used to say, “socialism or barbarism.” We changed to Capitalism, and we’re going back to the caveman. Chomsky in his book, he says that two superpowers in this world and I was really shocked by that idea. I think he’s right after all. I think the key to save the world is one super power, this government? And it’s military power? Might? Fear? Technological might space power, economic might and so on. But what is the other superpower that could perhaps stop this government. That could even put an end to imperialism so we can have a true democracy to help the peoples of the world.

The U.S. Government which will be fully aware of the needs of Africa, the needs of the poor. Let’s assume that we have a government here in the United States that overnight decides to cut in half the military expenses and withdraw the troops from around the world and declare it is the champion of peace of the world and declare itself an enemy of imperialism and then devote billions of dollars to the poor. Last year the defense budget was $400 billion in military defense. Just for one single year. One single year. For those $400 billion we can go to Africa, in the poor countries of Asia, in the Caribbean and Latin America, we can help them.

I’ve learned to appreciate the thinking of John Kennedy. John Kennedy once said, and that’s why he was assassinated, listen to the South, he said once. The recent revolution going on in the south in Africa, in Asia, and Latin America. It was in the 1960’s, where the people, the black power was raging. Che Guevara said, one, two, three, Japan, and Vietnam and Asia. The world was fed up with misery and inequities. As he said, the cause of all the revolution is poverty. And he said this sentence, today more than ever is valid, he said, those who shut down the doors to peaceful resolutions open the doors to violent revolutions. That’s a reality. I do believe that the U.S. people – is the other super power that Noam Chomsky is referring to. What is the other super power? Public opinion. The peoples of the world. That’s the other super power. And the U.S. People have a major responsibility in the world. I think that we’re going to save the world. And I hope that you take part in this struggle in the same way we are doing today. And many other people, women and men in this country, in this soil.

MARGARET PRESCOD: President Chavez, speaking of the other super power, the Bush administration via Rumsfeld referred to you as a threat to the region. Many of us translating that on a grass root level assume that means that you’re doing something that really rattles the Bush administration and means also that you’re wildly popular in the region. Which we have seen. I want you to comment on two things. In relation to women and also the relationship between the middle class and the grassroots. You’re the only president who has said that to deal with poverty, you have to give power to the poor, 70% of whom are women. Why did you say this? And how are you putting it into practice? And also in relation to the middle class and the grassroots of that relationship, some of us have often seen how middle class professionals who are used to being in charge, instead of putting their skills at the service of the grassroots, cling to power and keep the grassroots out. How are you addressing the class issue in Venezuela so that the movement here can learn from it?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: That’s a very important issue you are raising there. Because you are touching the core, the very core of any transformation process. Beat reformists, beat revolutionaries, beat an abrupt process or aggressive process, moderate or radical. In any transformation process, social transformation process, economic transformation process, political– is doomed to fail without the participation of the grassroots and the population. The people, the communities, they are like the fuel. They are the fuel of revolution, of the processes. Without them there’s no revolution. It’s like water. It’s just a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. Or air, oxygen is important for this mixture to occur. That is why when you go to the plenary sessions of the U.N., I feel like oxygen is missing there. Because it is so removed from the reality of the people, of the needs of the people.

You ask me then, in the Bolivarian revolution, the role of the grassroots communities, the women and men, as well of course. But the grassroots and communities, their role is vital, and it’s more dynamic. It’s very beautiful in the roles they have to play. Just to give you an idea of some of the experiences we have had in Venezuela. I leave for Venezuela this weekend. Next week we are going to have an event in Caracas with thousands of people who are part of the Urban Land Committee, the C.T.U. in Spanish. These committees of urban land are all over the country. They are in each neighborhood, poor neighborhood. You have a committee. The members of this committee should watch the whole neighborhood. And then they draft the map of the neighborhood. They go house by house, family by family and they assess all the problems. If they lack running water or if some of the houses are unstable and they could fall down. How many children they have. The schools. The health care system in the neighborhood and so on. So these are the urban land communities.

We also have the technical commissions of water. These technical commissions of water interact with the urban land committee. They take care of the water supply and also the sewage system. There are other technical groups to take care of energy supply, electricity supply especially. We have also the health committee. The rural land committees in the rural areas. We also have housing cooperatives. In large networks of grassroots organizations, as you know, in the constitution that we have drafted, in the government we foster these grassroots movements. Here we have been trying the democratic model. It is the revolutionary democracy. But it is not only a representative democracy. It is a participatory democracy and beyond that it is a fully and meaningful democracy. And Abraham Lincoln already said this: the government of the people, for the people and by the people. That what we say here is to transfer power to the people, especially the poorest of the poor. If you want to get rid of poverty, we need to empower the poor. Not to treat them like beggars. And this week we’re going to give money, we’re going to give financial resources to these neighborhood committees, grassroots organizations, we’re going to give them technical resources, equipment, we are going to carry out the housing schemes, infrastructure schemes, water supply, electricity supply schemes. So this is a beautiful task we are conducting.

Because there, we are reducing to zero, the possibility of corruption because we give the money to the population themselves. And they put it in the bank, they help to make withdrawals and then execute the budget. They have to save some money also. And, of course, the money is to better used. They do the social oversight of the use of the moneys. Efficiency, because the work will profit them. It not a private company that is going to do the job and they take the profit and in the end the community is poorer than before.

And let me tell you this. In all these committees, cooperatives, the women play a major role. Without women there would be no revolution. Artists are never wrong when they paint revolution with the beautiful dress and with the sword. On the horse or by foot. Because revolution is a woman. A woman is the revolution. But the poverty also is the face of the woman. And the hopes is also woman. And nature is also woman. There will be no probability of success without the creative participation and the powerful participation of women.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Mr. President, there’s no longer any doubt that the majority of the people in Venezuela support your government. But there are still those in Venezuela who say that you are using that majority support to stamp out the dissident views. Recently, I participated in a forum at Columbia University with Gustavo Cisnero, the head of Venevision, where he insisted that you are not allowing a free press to continue to function in Venezuela. I asked him, well what is the press of Venezuela doing organizing political coups? But I’d like you to talk about the role of the press in your democratic revolution and the importance of the press in general in communicating ideas to the mass of the people.

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: Ignacio Ramonet recently wrote a piece called “The Media Dictatorship” because most of the media, not only in Venezuela but all over the world as well, they are in the hands of very powerful people. Very powerful economic people. For instance this person you refer to is a clear example of that. And he was one of the ones taking part in the coup in that time. And he use all his media power and all the private channels in Venezuela and all the media, the press, newspapers and private TV stations even succeeded in fooling the international public opinion for some time. They depicted me as a tyrant who massacred his people. The tyrant was defeated, was overthrown, was toppled. However, a few hours after that, the people who toppled the tyrant brought the tyrant back. So they were naked before the world, of course. So that is one of the problems the world is facing today, the media’s tyranny and that we have been denouncing around the world. However, at the same time we are very encouraged by the fact that we have excellent shows.

Every day the more the truth is being revealed in the Hurricane. I was watching CNN during the Katrina disaster, and you can see how the journalists– I remember a lady who was in the eye of the hurricane, Inez Fered, I think the name of this lady. I watched a lot of TV at the time during Katrina. Well she started to interview people and telling the truth. And then another journalist, and they started to criticize the government for the way they reacted to the tragedy. So the powers could not silence the truth. Not even through CNN. And other media, large media. Now in Venezuela we have full freedom of the press. I doubt very much that there is any other country where freedom of the speech is so respected in Venezuela. For instance, Luis Zapatero, the president of the Spanish government, he arrived late, and I waited for him in the palace the next day. When he saw me, he told me, Chavez, I had many news about you and about freedom of speech. Now, this morning I saw two hours of TV shows. And I read the papers. I have no doubt in my mind that here you have full and total freedom of speech. And this will continue to be so. And all these rumors and attacks against us are totally untrue. And I think here in the United States you have a journalist in jail because she did not reveal her sources. This has never, in other parts of our history, never happened. Journalists who were in jail and journalists killed or persecuted. Today, there is total freedom Venezuela. This is part of the dynamic of the revolutionary democracy. And what the capitalists of the media do not forgive us, forgive the people because we have demonstrated that the people are fully aware of the reality defeat the media campaign.

You ask about the middle class. I forgot to mention the middle classes. This is important. The same struggles — the same reality that was discovered openly in the world is touching today the middle class. In Venezuela, middle class’s current is appearing all over the country. And they are adding up. They are joining the process. After the coup there is this movement called middle class in positive this is a movement which is growing every day. When the medical doctors, the Cuban doctors arrived in Venezuela. The media launched a campaign against these Cuban doctors. And they succeeded in making the middle class to oppose the presence of the Cuban doctors in Venezuela. They succeeded in preventing Venezuelan doctors to join these health care schemes. It was insanity, total insanity. Today, however, we have thousands of Venezuelan doctors joining the Cuban doctors in these programs. We have dentists, ophthalmologists, and the “Into the Neighborhood” project, the health care program, today, two hundred million of doctors seeing patients in poor neighborhoods. We have twenty-five million people. It means that it’s four times the population. It’s like each Venezuelan has gone to the doctor four times, and these being free of charge procedures with the medication. The Venezuelan doctors today are joining this scheme. And together with Castro, we have signed an agreement to form, to train two hundred thousand doctors in ten years. To train them in South America, Africa and the U.S., social doctors, doctors who are not charging, those who are saving lives. People who are giving a lending hand to the poor. That’s the medical doctors we need. We have also started a project called “The Miracle Project,” and we put this project today to be at the disposal of the U.S. If you know someone – tomorrow when you show this broadcast this show and you have people who have eye problems and they cannot afford an eye surgery, please, go to the Venezuelan Consulate in the U.S. Go to the U.S. Embassy in Washington. Go to CITGO. We can guarantee the transportation of these people to Caracas and Havana free, totally free of charge. These people could undergo eye surgery. This year we have conducted close to 100,000 eye surgeries, cataracts. In children, when you do not operate these cataracts, they can go blind, cornea operations, estavism, myopia and many others. You wear glasses and you are writing pretty well, right? If you remove your glasses, you cannot read. It’s going to be difficult. The same thing. I am 51 years old. So I have problems with my eyes. I need glasses. There are people who cannot read because no one has told them that they should wear glasses. They don’t have glasses to read – millions of human beings. So we have this plan with Fidel, and we have agreed to do this in the next 10 years, and we have already started, 2005 to 2015, we are going to operate to conduct eye surgery to a million people. 600,000 people per year. That’s a miracle surgery. And that includes the U.S. people, especially the poorest of the poor. Help us to help these people who are suffering from eye diseases.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President, I know you have to go, but why are you calling for the extradition of Luis Posada to Venezuela?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: Well, you know that this gentleman – there is ample evidence that this guy is a terrorist, clear evidence that he took part and he masterminded, among many other terrorist attacks, in the blowing the Cuban plane that was coming from Barbados to Caracas. It was blown up, and 73 people died as a result of this terrorist attack. But also in Venezuela this person occupied a senior position in the political police force, and there are many evidences of tortures, of people missing as a result of his acts. It was in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. So this gentleman, Posada, was already condemned in Venezuela for the blowing of the plane. He was in jail, but he fled. He escaped with the connivance of friends in jail. So we have the duty, once we located him – and we located him here in the U.S. – well it is our duty to request that he is extradited to Venezuela because he is a murderer. He is an assassin. He’s a terrorist. He’s a very dangerous person. He has caused a lot of harm, and he could even cause more harm, by himself and in a network he is leading, because he is very active. If he were in jail, he would be the mastermind of the terrorist network that already took part in the coup attempt in Venezuela, like snipers for instance, they were sent to kill people. So they blame me for those deaths. So this person should be extradited in Venezuela.

Read part 2 of the interview… click the link below… well worth it!

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Iraq oil war becoming a civil war?

As I and many others have said this war in Iraq is the first of a series of Oil Wars. There will be more… it’s all about the oil folks. I realize that is not news to most folks but I think it’s important that we really let that sink in… that we think of it as an oil war, a war for limited resources. Unless we make fundamental cultural and political changes this is our future.
Many of us who opposed the war predicted that it would not go well. Quite frankly it seemed an obvious outcome so I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised. Juan Cole suggests that the Security Situation in Baghdad Sinking like the Titanic:

An observer in Iraq writes to me:

“The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.

The government will respond feebly. It will go into a contested neighborhood, and then just like Fallujah, Ramadi, Tel Afar, the insurgents will flee to take over another area on another day. Bit by bit they are taking over the main parts of Baghdad. The only place we are sure they cannot control is Sadr City, unless of course they want to take on Jaish Mahdy [Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army], and that would be bloody.

A few minutes ago Jaafari came on television to tell everyone in Baghdad to stay home. Can’t wait for his next bold move.

There are flyers in public areas of Baghdad warning people not to gather in large numbers because they will thereby become targets. I am trying to get a copy of the flyer.

Notwithstanding Al-Hayat’s claim that Zarqawi and the Sunni resistance are not together, my street listeners claim otherwise. My folks are convinced that the two groups, broadly defined, are together, “100 percent” is the claim of certainty. It is hard to get a handle on this because people in Baghdad tend to lump all resistance groups, except for Zarqawi, into one large category.

More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing. The situation is dire, and those with escape valves are using them. [Some organizations are]sending more of [their] staff to Arbil and Sulamaniyah and out of Baghdad. Until about March this year, [some] thought that there was a chance of returning to Baghdad. It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all.

In the meantime, the embassy people act as if nothing in Baghdad is wrong (except that they cannot walk in the Green Zone without body armor and they have to take precautions against kidnapping). Recently, a group from State and the military parachuted in from Washington [with fatuous advice] . . . It is a fantasy world.”

Add to that the opinion of journalist in Iraq, Christopher Allbritton:

BAGHDAD — That pink-o, liberal workers’ rag DefenseNews (no link that I can find, unfortunately), also known as a trade publication for defense contractors, published a depressing piece on Iraq calling the situation here an “undeclared civil war.” I think it’s time we journalists faced up that this is, indeed the case.

Last week independent journalist Dahr Jamail had this to say about Iraq:

Life in Iraq remains a living hell. Blood flowed in the streets of Khadamiya yesterday as a horrendous car bomb killed 112 people in the predominantly Shia neighborhood. And once again, calls of solidarity were made from the nearby Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya and residents emerged from their homes to help their brothers and sisters across the river, just as they did after the panic and chaos which recently took the lives of nearly 1,000 Shia.

The horrendous totals from yesterday were 160 dead, 570 wounded Iraqis as the result of the string of attacks and at least a dozen car bombs. The blowback from the Jafaari “authorized” state-sponsored terrorism in Tal-Afar took little time to materialize in the capital city.

If Jafaari was more honest with his press appearances, along with his photo-op in Tal-Afar he should have had his photo taken amidst the charred, smoking body parts strewn about the streets of Khadamiya, which was a result (albeit just as horrific) of his Tal-Afar “authorization.”

On that note, Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s puppet president, was in a press conference in Washington D.C. with Mr. Bush just hours before the blowback began.

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Community Solutions to Peak Oil

I’ve written about The Community Solution to Peak Oil before but I thought I’d mention them again because these folks are holding their second conference this year: Second U.S. Conference on “Peak Oil” and Community Solutions – The Journey Home. It’s coming up soon: September 23-25. Here’s what they have to say about what’s coming:

Peak oil — the point when world oil production reaches its maximum and begins to decline, is an event which is likely to occur this decade. As global demand exceeds supply, oil will become increasingly scarce and expensive.

The end of cheap abundant oil represents an unprecedented challenge for humanity. It heralds the end of many things to which we have become accustomed; the ever growing economy, transportation as we know it, cheap food and goods from around the globe.

“Our response to Peak Oil has major consequences for future generations.”

The implications of Peak Oil are far reaching. Oil provides close to 40% of our society’s primary energy (over half of which is imported) and 95% of our transportation fuel. Fossil fuels are a necessity in our way of growing food and in making and transporting everything we buy.

Many react to these coming changes with fear and dread. But we envision a more cooperative, just and equitable world of small local communities.

“Solutions to Peak Oil will require a major shift in our thinking and in our way of life.”

If you’re interested in attending you can read more about last year’s conference to get a taste of it.

But wait, there’s more! Another peak oil conference will be held in New York City October 5: Petrocollapse conference. Looks very interesting with speakers such as James Howard Kunstler and Jan Lundberg. More from their site:

As oil prices rise and crude oil supplies and refined products strain to keep up with demand, as Hurricane Katrina wreaks havoc on the production infrastructure as well as on a devastated population, the isse of Peak Oil is finally becoming acknowledged in the mainstream news.

However, the complete story is still suppressed, misunderstandings abound even among students of peak oil and the public remains in the dark about the vast array of consequences of this looming crisis. Dishonest reporting by OPEC countries and major oil companies have contributed to the illusion that there is sufficient time before we “run out of oil” to transition to a “solution”, whether it be cold fusion, hydrogen, renewables or some combination of the above.

In fact, some dozen significant oil producing countries are past their peak in extraction and it is possible that world Peak has already arrived (this cannot be conclusively determined until after the fact). The sudden effects of shortage are likely to hit the global economy within the next three years, possibly even as early as this winter.

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Katrina: Let the media whitewash begin

CNN reporting on environmental toxins in New Orleans::

While environmentalists warn of the long-term danger to health from possibly polluted floodwaters, and rumors of disease swirl, front-line emergency doctors say the actual health danger will come from accidents.

Possibly polluted floodwaters? No. It’s not a question of possibility. This is a certainty. It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds. Already the mayor is pushing towards moving people back in to the city. Perhaps my view is overly negative but this course of action seems to be utter stupidity… though typical. The Society of Environmental Journalists has created a page dedicated to the toxic after effects of the Katrina. A good start.
One final note, it’s probably very obvious but I would not trust the EPA or any other government agency to be truthful in it’s reporting. All in all, we’ll see a knee jerk reaction in which environmental and human health are of no real consequence which is just more of the same.

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