Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Murdering Murdoch: Whistleblower Found Dead, American Public Shrugs

creepy Rupert Murdoch

We may now add murder to the deepening scandal surrounding the man who brought us, among much other tripe, Fox News:

Whistleblower in Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal Found Dead

On Monday, Sean Hoare, a former reporter who helped blow the whistle on the Murdoch-owned News of the World, was found dead in his home. Hoare had been the source for a New York Times story tying phone hacking to former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who would later become director of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson was arrested as the scandal broke open earlier this month. Police say Hoare appears to have died of natural causes, but the determination had not lessened suspicion of foul play. Hoare not only talked about phone hacking, but phone tracking as well, or as he said they called in the newsroom “pinging,” where he said News of the World would pay police, he believed, to track individuals’ locations.

It is becoming evident that Murdoch’s revolting media empire, a veritable propaganda factory, has extensive ties to the wealthy and powerful, including government officials and the police force that is entrusted with maintaining public order.  What is less apparent, however, is why exactly this has come to the fore now.  What has Murdoch done to fall out of grace with the ruling elite?

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Bogus Poll Reveals Americans’ Pervasive Belief in the Fictional Republican/Democrat Divide

Bush and Obama, BFF

If it’s not A, it must be B, because life is always black and white, right?

Voters are increasingly displeased with President Obama’s handling of the economy, but a new poll finds most Americans still think George W. Bush is responsible for the nation’s dismal financial state.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 54 percent of those surveyed say Bush is responsible for the “current condition” of the economy, compared to just 27 percent who blame Obama. Among self-described independent voters, a key 2012 voting bloc, the number shifts slightly: 49 percent point the finger at the former GOP president, while 24 percent blame Obama.

Part of the problem, of course, is the simplistic wording of the question which automatically creates a false dichotomy of Republicans versus Democrats.  The question might have been, which administration is more responsible for the current financial crisis, which then translates into the definitive statement that voters “think George W. Bush is responsible.”  This simplified version of reality, which suggests that the complex terrain of the political frontier is easily understood in concrete, black-and-white terms, is then absorbed by an impatient and apathetic public whose attention span is incapable of grasping anything beyond the 10-second sound byte.

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Dennis Kucinich and the Reality of Class Warfare in America

Dennis Kucinich speaks out

A lonely voice of reason in the wilderness of our corrupt single-party Corporate State:

The rancorous debate over the debt belies a fundamental truth of our economy — that it is run for the few at the expense of the many, that our entire government has been turned into a machine which takes the wealth of a mass of Americans and accelerates it into the hands of the few. Let me give you some examples.

Take war. War takes the money from the American people and puts it into the hands of arms manufacturers, war profiteers, and private armies. The war in Iraq, based on lies: $3 trillion will be the cost of that war. The war in Afghanistan; based on a misreading of history; half a trillion dollars in expenses already. The war against Libya will be $1 billion by September.

We have to realize what this country’s economy has become. Our monetary policy, through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, privatized the money supply, gathers the wealth, puts it in the hands of the few while the Federal Reserve can create money out of nothing, give it to banks to park at the Fed while our small businesses are starving for capital.

 Mark my words — Wall Street cashes in whether we have a default or not. And the same type of thinking that created billions in bailouts for Wall Street and more than $1 trillion in giveaways by the Federal Reserve today leaves 26 million Americans either underemployed or unemployed. And nine out of ten Americans over the age of 65 are facing cuts in their Social Security in order to pay for a debt which grew from tax cuts for the rich and for endless wars.

Sadly, Kucinich stands little chance of having any impact from within the rotting heart of the corporatocracy he despises.  In a nation where the flow of virtually all information is controlled by a vast corporate media machine, where style perpetually trumps substance and political debate is always relegated to the realm of the 10-second sound byte, Kucinich’s passionate and reasoned diatribe will be drowned out in the maddening din of propaganda, pushed to the fringes of our extreme-right corporate-controlled society.

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Harbingers of Climate Change: Dust Bowl-Size Droughts Spread Through the United States

Texan farmer stands in drought-stricken land

As if things weren’t bad enough, we now have droughts on the scale of the Dust Bowl era to contend with:

Drought Spreading through the United States Rivals Dust Bowl Era

 In other climate news, Texas and 13 other states stretching from Arizona to Florida continue to face one of the worst U.S. droughts on record. Some say the drought c
ould rival the Dust Bowl Days. In Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently designated all 254 counties in the state natural disaster areas.
While impossible to assert with any degree of certainty, there is a strong likelihood that the current bout of severe drought is related to human-induced climate change.  All over the world, weather patterns have been shifting to such a large degree that even the most skeptical climate change deniers have noticed the difference.  Brutal winters, searing summers, massive storms, widespread flooding – all occurring with greater and greater frequency, in locales that historically have rarely or never experienced such events.

House Approves $649 Billion Military Budget as Austerity Measures Loom

tomahawk factory

Forget the sick and elderly, we have wars to fight:

The US House of Representatives has approved a 649-billion-dollar military spending bill, increasing the Pentagon budget while the country is facing austerity measures and huge debt crisis.

The bill, passed with an overwhelming vote of 336-87 on Friday, boosts the Pentagon budget for the 2012 fiscal year beginning on October 1 by some $17 billion compared with the current spending, Reuters reported.

The measure, which was about $8 billion less than what President Barack Obama had sought, would provide $530 billion for the Pentagon’s primary budget and $119 to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The approved bill excludes funds for US nuclear programs or military construction which will add another $33 billion to military spending in later bills.

The increase in military spending comes while huge budget reductions are expected in other agencies, affecting food aid for low-income women, health research and energy efficiency.

And while Barney Frank is a bit of a tool, he really nailed it on this one:

“The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else’s lunch, “Frank said.

There’s not much more for me to say about this, folks.  This is a theme I have pounded into the ground over and over again, but nothing ever seems to change.  It’s a bit nauseating to observe the American public fervently buying into the fabricated budget crisis, arguing about arbitrary debt ceilings and deciding which important social services should be cut, but the military machine churns on unhindered all the while.

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Latest Exxon Mobile Spill Indicative of Urgent Need for Change

exhaust spewing gas guzzler

More collateral damage in our insatiable love affair with oil:

 EPA to Probe Air Quality Near Montana Exxon Mobil Oil Spill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to collect indoor air samples from homes downstream of an Exxon Mobil oil spill that’s leaked as much as 42,000 gallons of crude oil beneath Montana’s Yellowstone River. The Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company initially downplayed the incident saying it would only affect 10 miles of the river, but state officials say the spill has already stretched more than 240 miles to near the North Dakota border. Local residents have raised concerns over health risks and reported symptoms including nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.

Burst pipes, exploding wells, and wrecked tankers are all-too-common occurrences in our incessant quest to produce greater and greater quantities of oil.  Such events reek havoc on ecosystems and the health of local residents, but the underlying issue — our undying addiction to oil — seems beyond the bounds of public debate.

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Independence Day: A Time for Celebration or Mourning?

patriotic genius

Years ago, I spent a couple of summers working in a salmon cannery in Naknek, Alaska.  On the base of the Alleutian Peninsula, surrounded by the bleak, brown landscape of the summer tundra, it was a dreary job of 16-hour days spent gutting fish, in a tiny town in one of the most desolate regions on earth.

Among some of my stranger workmates were a handful of proud skinheads from Washington state, including a giant, 6′ 4″ weirdo with a shaved head, scraggly ginger beard, and oversized horn-rimmed glasses.   We were often situated side-by-side on the “slime line,” as it was termed, and engaged in conversation on a wide variety of topics whilst ripping fistfuls of guts from the insides of unfortunate salmon.

He was, not surprisingly, an ultra-conservative Republican who loved capitalism, worshiped the mythical free market, and adored the writings of Ayn Rand.  As a long-haired hippie fresh from the streets of Portland, we obviously didn’t quite see eye to eye on many – most – issues.

When the 4th of July came and, during one of our paltry 30-minute meal breaks, we were served revoltingly dry barbecued chicken in celebration of our nation’s independence, he looked at me snidely and asked whether or not I considered Independence Day to be a day of mourning.

And it was a fair question.   Read more of this post

Vatican Inc.: The Profitability of Religion and Politics

Pedo Pope, CEO

If anyone required further proof of the parasitic nature of religion,  this sums it up quite nicely:

The Vatican says it was profitable in 2010, after three years of being financially in the red.

The Vatican said Saturday that it made a profit of more than $14 million last year on revenue of about $356 million. That contrasts with a loss of nearly $6 million in 2009 and losses in 2007 and 2008 as well.

The separately administered Vatican City State also was profitable in 2010, with earnings of more than $30 million on strong ticket sales at Vatican museums.

Despite the 2010 profit, the church said that donations from churches worldwide – the so-called Peter’s Pence – fell nearly $15 million to just under $68 million. The Vatican offered no reason for the decline in donations, but sexual abuse allegations against parish priests emerged last year in Europe, traditionally a top region for donations.

At least the Vatican is being open about the fact that their crumbling religion is little more than a giant, multinational corporation with hundreds of millions of customers.   Other religions are not quite so honest, but at its core religion is little more than a rather transparent gambit to acquire ever greater wealth and power.

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