Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Radiactive Fallout from Japan Reaches U.S. and Europe

Trace amounts of radioactive iodine-131 have been found in Europe, while iodine-131, cesium and tellurium have been found in Hawaii and along the West Coast of the U.S.  As we should expect from a mainstream media that is now virtually ignoring the disaster in Japan, we have been reassured that these materials are far below the threshold to be detrimental to human health:

Besides the Hawaii readings, the Environmental Protection Agency has found trace amounts of radioactive iodine, cesium and tellurium at four RadNet air monitor filters on the West Coast — three in California and one in Washington. These levels are consistent with what a U.S. Department of Energy monitor found last week, the EPA said Monday.

Americans typically get exposure to radiation from natural sources such as the sun, bricks and rocks that are about 100,000 times higher than what has been detected in the United States.

As B’Man points out in an excellent post, the constant references to normal exposure to radiation are completely bogus, particularly when we consider that some of the elements used in the Japanese plants do not occur naturally on earth.  It is therefore meaningless to compare our exposure to the radiation from, say, the sun or an x-ray, to the totally unnatural exposure resulting from the Japanese nuclear disaster.  Any exposure to radioactive material is unhealthy, and given the enduring nature of these materials – with a half-life exceeding 700 million years in some cases – it is unconscionable for governments to suggest otherwise.

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EU-India Free Trade Agreement to Block Access to Affordable Medication

A new Free Trade Agreement between India and the EU is threatening to deny millions of people – both in India and around the developing world – access to affordable medication:

Meanwhile, in Brussels, negotiations continued on a trade agreement that would raise prices on Indian-made pharmaceuticals. The drugs that India manufactures have helped five millions people living with HIV to maintain their health, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Frontiers).

“More than 80 percent of the AIDS drugs our medical practitioners use to treat 175,000 people in developing countries are affordable generics from India,” said MSF spokesperson Paul Cawthorne, the article said. Cawthorne said that HIV patients were not the only ones to benefit from the lower cost of India-made generics. “Beyond AIDS, we rely on producers in India for drugs to treat other illnesses, such as tuberculosis and malaria,” Cawthorne explained. “We can not afford to let our patients’ lifeline be cut.”

The EU is seeking more protections on intellectual property, including “data exclusivity” provisions that would extend to drugs that are no longer protected from generic brands by patent limitations.

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Kucinich Calls for Freezing of Funds for Obama’s Latest War

The man who should be president, Dennis Kucinich, has written a letter to his fellow members of Congress, urging them to support his bill which will deny funding for Obama’s latest war.  The letter points out all of the obvious things that our mainstream media has frustratingly failed to cover, but it is refreshing to see reality being addressed by at least one of our elected officials:

Even with NATO’s support, the war in Libya has the potential to become a quagmire, in part because we entered into this conflict without clear goals. Already, military action has brought the eastern and western parts of Libya to a standoff. Is the goal to divide Libya? Is the goal to remove Muammar Qadaffi? Will we install a friendly regime? What if the country is destabilized to the point that extremist groups such as al-Qaeda are allowed to take root? How does this war end? When will this war end? How much will it cost American taxpayers? What is the impact on our already overstretched military?

These are such basic questions it is absurd that no one in the MSM seems to have asked them.  Nearly 10 years into the perpetual “War on Terror,” have we as Americans learned nothing?  How is it that Obama has managed to inject us into yet another military conflict?  He already has two covert wars being waged in Yemen and Pakistan – two incredibly dangerous and unstable countries – and now we have inserted ourselves into what was – and will continue to be – a civil war.  What are we doing there, and why have we allowed ourselves to get there?

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Christian Zealots Welcome Disaster in Japan

I recently logged on to Facebook to find this lovely little gem posted by an aunt, the wife of a Baptist pastor:

Sept 11th (NewYork) Jan 11th (Haiti) and March 11th (Japan)….Luke 21:10-11 Then jesus said to his disciples: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes’, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. ‘Jesus says for behold I come quickly. So ask yourself r u ready? Sad to say, many won’t repost this.

This ridiculous post highlights much of what is wrong with religion, and why sharing the earth with people who hold such beliefs is more dangerous than most of us realize.

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U.S. Squanders $84.6 Million on Latest War

In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States government has squandered at least another $84,000,000 in its latest military misadventure in the Muslim world.  At $756,000 a pop,the cost of the 112 missiles launched so far against Libya – excluding what must be the exorbitant related operational costs – is a stunning $84,672,000.  This substantial figure does not take into account the logistical aspects of moving soldiers, warships and other equipment into position, nor the ongoing expenses related to keeping them in place.

In the days of trillion dollar deficits and bailouts, $84.6 million may seem a trifling sum.  And compared to other wasteful elements of our corporate-controlled federal government, it is relatively small.  But relativity is not the point:  $84.6 million is a lot of money, and could have been used in infinitely more productive ways.

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U.S. Engages in Fifth Concurrent War

With the launch of 112 Tomahawk missiles against Libya, the United States has now begun its fifth concurrent war. The U.S. military is now engaged in varying degrees of military conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and now Libya. While Americans continue to suffer under the weight of soaring unemployment, rising inflation and an ongoing lack of access to affordable health care, our allegedly leftward-leaning president has committed our precious national resources to yet another needless war of aggression.

Let’s be clear that what is going in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi is utterly reprehensible. Obama is correct in asserting that “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” The problem here is with the sheer hypocrisy inherent in such a statement coming from a figure such as Obama. What about similar protests in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia?

The United States has stood by as 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia crossed the causeway to ensure that revolts in Bahrain were adequately stifled. Meanwhile, blood continues to be shed in Yemen as protesters fight against one of the most repressive regimes on earth, while perhaps the most repressive regime – that of Saudi Arabia – remains our staunch ally.

Why the disgustingly transparent double standard? Read more of this post

Ante Up or Go to Sleep

100,000 protest in Wisconsin

2011 is shaping up to be an extremely turbulent year – both on a global and personal scale.  I’ve been out of commission in the blogosphere for a mere two months, and the world seems to have turned upside down in the meantime.  Massive protests have spread across the Muslim world, even (faintly) into the deepest depths of one of the most repressive regimes on earth – the “Kingdom” of Saudi Arabia.  Meanwhile, the mild-mannered farmers and teachers of seemingly mundane Wisconsin have risen up in a remarkably spirited stand against the latest and most blatant advance of corporate power against the needs and interests of the common man.

In the midst of all this unprecedented political and social upheaval across the Middle East and, of all places, the American mid-west, 0ne of the largest earthquakes ever recorded has wrought untold devastation on the nation with the world’s second largest economy, unleashed a devastating tsunami and brought on what may very well end up being one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Truly, we are living in interesting times.  And thanks to the miracle of the Internet, we have access to unprecedented levels of real-time, on-the-ground information.  We can skim through endless Twitterfeeds and discover the latest atrocities committed under Ghadafi, or learn about the newest cowardly deeds committed by Republicans in Wisconsin, or watch startling live video feeds of a nuclear reactor in the throws of a partial meltdown.

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