Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Every American Should Rail Against SB 510--Reason: # 1 Monsanto

*Update 12:46 pm 11/30-- Obama Applauds Passage of SB 510
The bill now goes back to the House for a final vote, please call your legislators and tell them NO! Check the sky for flying pigs...Vote breakdown yea and nay.
Here's another way to take action (be patient, server is being bombarded and edit the letter to suit your concerns and political affiliation.) 2nd action ask House to block.

This bill has nothing to do with "Food Safety Modernization" and the public good, it's a Trojan Horse for Monsanto and a government supported control of the food supplies. We urge all citizens to pay very close attention to this issue because it will affect each and every one of us in ways we cannot yet begin to imagine, but the history of Monsanto gives us a big clue--it won't be good.

The bill enjoys a majority of democratic senators supporting it. 15 democrats (including Dick Durbin (D-IL) as the primary sponsor) and 6 republicans as co-sponsors. We can only speculate that their support is because of political contributions and the deep Monsanto ties in the current administration that we covered in an earlier posting on the Monsanto/Solutia PCB contamination of Anniston, Alabama.

The elephant in the room is Monsanto, along with the abysmal federal government, who will, by way of passage of this bill, have complete control of our sustenance. That should never be allowed to happen for any reason, ever, but if the people don't pay attention and raise some hell with their legislators, it will.

They're readying a vote right on the bill now.
Credit: Global Political Awakening
We're going to refer to two compelling articles and their excerpts on this issue:
Who designed the “food safety” bills which are now in Congress? 
The same man whom Clinton put at the FDA in the 1990s, the same man at the FDA now – Michael Taylor, Monsanto lawyer and VP.
Who is likely to be appointed as “the Administrator” of the powerful, centralized agency the bill would set up? 
Michael Taylor, Monsanto lawyer and VP.
Who is backing the “food safety” bills? Winrock International which receives financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the DOE, USAID, the US Department of State, the USDA, the World Bank, the FAO, SYSCO and the Tides Foundation
Winrock International also has long-standing ties with Monsanto.
How good has the FDA been in protecting American food? 
Abysmal? Horrendous?

Shiv Chopra, a food safety expert, says American and Canadian food are the most toxic of all food in the world. Ignoring its central duty to test for their safety before allowing anything into the food chain, the FDA has allowed in antibiotics, hormones, slaughterhouse waste, pesticides and GMOs. In the years since their introduction, studies now prove they are dangerous to human health (three are banned outright in Europe and the other two are under consideration). But the FDA still has done nothing to stop them and, now, despite public outrage at deaths and the dangers to human health from antibiotics in animals, the FDA is attempting to ensure their continued use.

Why the Tester Amendment won't fix a really bad bill to begin with;
 "The voice of controlled opposition wants Americans to believe that the Tester Amendment to S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, elevates the bill to something we should adopt. The Tester Amendment puts a Band-Aid on a head wound. It does not stop the most lethal agency in American history from seizing control of the food supply from farm to fork."

Even though Big Ag now opposes S 510, we should continue to oppose the bill, as it amounts to federal assault on food freedom. 

Agribusiness giants have always opposed the exemption provided in the Tester Amendment. Now that it’s included in the current form of S 510, they’re only making clear that they oppose giving any wiggle room to competition. But from their sudden opposition to S 510, because it now includes an amendment they have always opposed, the public is being lulled into a false sense of confidence in S 510.

Despite the voice of controlled opposition trying to convince the American public that the Tester Amendment will solve all the problems with S 510, many food freedom activists recognize this is a red herring. One letter to the editor was titled, “Pry my turnip from my cold, dead hand.” The highly-touted exemption diverts attention away from the many, serious problems with S 510, like:
  • It does not address the real causes of food safety issues stemming from the centralized, industrialized food supply chain;
  • It ensures that international trade agreements have supremacy over local laws;
  • It destroys States’ rights to define a culturally-appropriate legal platform under which food is produced and distributed;
  • It transfers authority over food regulation enforcement from the FDA to the Department of Homeland Security which disastrously handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • It extends a failed and destructive HACCP to all food, thus threatening to do to local food production and farming what HACCP did to meat production – it eliminated small and medium-sized meat packers; and
  • It significantly increases FDA’s power, an agency which has stated on public record that the American people have no “fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health” and “do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”
Finally, we cannot ignore that Monsanto is behind the food “safety” legislation being foisted on us. 

We cannot ignore that the US Secretary of Agriculture was once dubbed “Biotech Governor of the Year.” 

We cannot ignore that President Obama has appointed a GMO and pesticide pusher as the US Agricultural Trade Representative. 

We cannot ignore that he nominated Monsanto-defender Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court, who sits there now with former Monsanto attorney, Clarence Thomas.

In Seeds of Destruction, F. William Engdahl issues a warning: “In the mid-1970’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a protégé of the Rockefeller family and of its institutions stated, "Control the food and you control the people."
Read more here

Scared yet?
You should to be. 
This is serious business and not simply the ramblings of the often maligned and dismissed greenish Birkenstock wearing crowd.
Top Ten Lies About SB 510
*Update 12/1--House May Block Bill Over Senate Error 
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Targeted Environmental Justice Enforcement Needed in EPA Region 4

More words of wisdom and justice from the esteemed father of the environmental justice movement Dr. Robert Bullard.
It has been little over two weeks since environmental justice leaders in the South delivered an eleven-point “Call to Action” plan for reform of EPA Region 4— eight states in the southern United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee).  Leaders from all across the region called for targeted enforcement to address environmental racism and pollution “hot spots” that pose disproportionate environmental health threats to low-income communities and communities of color.
Clearly, healthy places and healthy people are highly correlated, with the poorest of the poor within the region having the worst health and the most degraded environments. Race and class map closely with vulnerability. One of the best indicators of an individual’s health is one’s street address, Zip Code, or neighborhood. More than 100 studies now link racism to worse health. More than 200 environmental studies have shown race and class disparities. 
It is no accident that six of Forbes’ “Top 10 Unhealthiest States” in 2009 were found in Region 4. Mississippi was ranked the 50th unhealthiest state in 2009.  Above Mississippi were Oklahoma (49th), Alabama (48th), Louisiana (47th), and South Carolina (46th), Nevada (45th), Tennessee (44th), Georgia (43rd), West Virginia (42nd), and Kentucky (41st).
He's exactly right on all points.
Another excerpt of the article details an upcoming meeting of the Environmental Justice Forum in Washington on December 15:
The EJ IWG agreed to hold monthly EJ IWG meetings, including assigning senior officials from each Agency to coordinate EJ activities; organize regional listening sessions in early 2011; hold follow-up EJ IWG Principals Meetings in April and September 2011; each Agency will be tasked to develop or update their EJ strategy by September 2011; and plan a White House forum for EJ leaders and stakeholders on Environmental Justice.
The White House EJ Forum is set for December 15, 2010 at 10:00 am until 4:00 pm in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.  The event will bring together environmental justice community leaders, state, local and tribal government officials, Cabinet members, and other senior Federal officials for a discussion on creating a healthy and sustainable environment for all Americans.  
The Forum also will offer an opportunity for the environmental justice community to speak with officials from Federal departments and agencies who are engaged in this effort. 
While these federal EJ initiatives emanate from Washington, it is unclear how they will be implemented in EPA Region 4 and the other nine EPA regions.
We can only hope some good will come out of this. It's long overdue for Alabama and other states under the authority of Region 4. One of our previous entries on the problems with Region 4 and Dr. Bullard's thoughts can be found here.

If we have one issue with the "Call to Action Plan" it would be that there are many more sites in Alabama that could benefit from Dr. Bullard's attention, and we hope that he will expand his radar to more areas in the state.

His overriding theme is dead on: Prejudicial racism isn't the only form of racism that is alive and well in the Deep South--environmental racism (injustice) still reigns strong in the land of cotton.

ADEM are you listening?

Read more of Dr. Bullard's article:
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mountaintop Removal in Brookwood, Alabama--Southland Resources Coal

It may look like West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky mountaintop removal but it's not, it's here, in Alabama, at the foothills of the Appalachians.

The map below shows what's happening in the hills of Tuscaloosa County courtesy of Big Coal. We share the problems of our West Virginian and Kentucky neighbors to our NE and are experiencing the removal of the Appalachians in our own backyard. 

We're willing to bet a lot of Alabamians, who are sympathetic to mountaintop removal in WV and Kentucky, do not realize this is happening so close to home.
Wake up call Alabama.

The physical description of this area from Wiki:
Tuscaloosa County is located in the west central part of the state, in the region commonly known as West Alabama. The county straddles the boundary between the Appalachian Highlands and the Gulf Coastal Plain and consequently boasts a diverse geography.

Map requires Goggle Earth plug-in for best viewing.

View Larger Map

Whose letting this happen in addition to Big Coal?
The Alabama Surface Mining Commission as the main state authority over coal mining and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), who issues NPDES permits to the mines. These two agencies combined are the towering terrors of environmental destruction and function, for the most part, as big business co-enablers in the rampant degradation of Alabama's environment.

They claim they're conscientious and responsible and practicing "good oversight", but we find it hard to believe that the destruction of thousands of acres of diverse habitat in this area resembles responsibility of any kind. Alabamians should be outraged this has been allowed to happen.

Southland Resources has just refiled for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit with ADEM (Public Notice 210 Nov. 2, 2010) and they'll get it, but we think they shouldn't and that this mine has grown far too large.

Tuscaloosa County was responsible for 1,675,813 tons of coal extracted from October-December 2009 out of a total of 4,551,124 tons statewide. And that's just the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 from the State of Alabama's Department of Industrial Relations reports.

The industry is rapidly tearing down the upper Appalachians at breakneck speed, so what's going to happen when the foothills are also destroyed? What will be the eventual environmental consequences of the destruction of the Appalachian range?

It's disingenuous to claim they're won't be any substantial effects and that the areas can be reclaimed and restored by Big Coal--they're not in the business of restoration.

Something is very wrong in Tuscaloosa County and we think that all of Alabama should see what King Coal has done to our Appalachian foothills.

Some additional information on coal in Alabama: (Columbian coal is Drummond coal.)
In 1996, Alabama exported 13 million tons of coal. By 2000, the amount had declined to 3 million tons, while 5.5 million tons of coal were imported from Columbia.
The Columbian coal is shipped to the Alabama Power Company (AP) and the Alabama Electrical Cooperative, via the Alabama State Docks. Before Columbian coal was imported, AP's plants had been fueled by coal form the Drummond Company's coal mines.
About two-thirds of Alabama's coal is high-grade metallurgical coal and is sold (mostly exported) for steel making. The remaining one-third is mostly extracted from surface mines and sold to coal-fired power plants. The metallurgical coal has a very low sulfur content, a high heat value, and is known as Blue Creek coal.

*Brookwood, Alabama coal mining has been in the news before when 13 miners were killed in an explosion at Jim Walter's mine # 5 in September of 2001;
On a September afternoon in 2001, 32 miners repaired drilling machines and hoisted tunnel supports into place at the Jim Walter Resources No. 5 Mine. The mine is North America’s deepest, tracking the 6-foot-high Blue Creek seam almost a half-mile beneath the rolling hills just east of Tuscaloosa.
At about 5:20 p.m., a chunk of mine roof fell onto a battery charger deep underground. The impact set off a spark, igniting a pocket of methane gas. Four miners were injured, and co-workers rushed to their aid.
Then, at 6:15 p.m., a second, far larger explosion tore through the mine. Thirteen miners died, making it the nation’s worst coal-mining disaster in 17 years.
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Lying Dogs vs Useful Dogs--TSA Makes the Wrong Choice

The FBI and military rely on bomb sniffing dogs to protect them, so why do Big Sis and John "Peashooter" Pistole insist on irradiation and groping by the TSA for our "safety?"
And this makes sense how?

There have been additional valid concerns raised by Columbia University about the safety of implementing backscatter radiation devices as early as April of 2010 that have been completely ignored;
A Columbia University expert in radiation today confirmed that it is quite "likely" that the radiation from screening machines being installed nationwide by the Transportation Security Authority to use on airline passengers will cause cancer.
The word comes from David J. Brenner, of Columbia's Center for Radiological Research, and whose research involves radiation biology, low dose risk estimation and radiotherapy.
There's no use depending on TSA "research" that denied or minimized that risk because those results have been bought and paid for, he noted. 

Additionally, the TSA is doing some very invasive probing, in some instances coming into contact with bodily fluids and not changing their gloves very frequently. They're putting all passengers at risk of spreading diseases with this ill-advised, but not illegal practice. Glove requirements according to OSHA;
OSHA does not require that gloves be changed between patients if they are not contaminated and their barrier properties are not compromised This practice is however recommended to prevent patient-to-patient transmission of disease.

That language speaks to the medical profession for obvious reasons--that's usually where gloves are used to prevent exposure, but when you're dealing with thousands of passengers on a regular basis and completely unaware of their medical history and what they may have been exposed to, this is trouble waiting to happen.

What if a terrorist gets the bright idea of putting a pathogen or toxin of some sorts on their person and...we'll you get the picture.

We submit that in their zeal to look like they're doing something effective, they've hijacked our rights and have potentially become a major threat to the Public Health of the nation. Possibly more so than what they claim they are trying to protect us from in the first place.

Who is going to protect us from them?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

$haleionaires--We're "Fracking" Rich!

Excerpts of commentary on the recently aired CBS 60 Minutes Marcellus/Barnett Shale Natural Gas Drilling (hydraulic fracturing) segment from the James Howard Kunstler site. Go visit, he has more.
*(video follows below)

"So, last night CBS hauled Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, on board their flagship Sunday infotainment vehicle, CBS 60 Minutes, to blow a mighty wind up America’s ass (as they say in professional PR circles). America is lately addicted to lying to itself, and 60 Minutes has become the “go-to” patsy for funneling disinformation into an already hopelessly confused, wishful, delusional, US public". 
"McClendon told the credulous Leslie Stahl and the huge viewing audience that America “has two Saudi Arabia’s of gas.” Now, you know immediately that at least half the viewers misconstrued this statement to mean that we have two Saudi Arabia’s of gasoline."
Translation: don’t worry none about driving anywhere you like, or having to get some tiny little pansy-ass hybrid whatchamacallit car to do it in, and especially don’t pay no attention to them “green” sumbitches on the sidelines trying to sell you some kind of peak oil story…

"It also prepared the public to support whatever Mr. McClendon’s company wants to do, because he says his company will free America from its slavery to OPEC."

"By the way, CBS never clarified these parts of the story by the end of the show."

Good job Mr. Kunstler!
If you're offended by salty language, he may not be for you, but the tricks of Big Gas should offend you a whole helluva lot more.

The real story of what happened to the family in Texas that Ms. Stahl did not go into nearly enough. Fracking also reduced their land value from $257,330 on the 2010 tax rolls to its current value of $75,340.

Another valuable tidbit "left out" of the 60 minutes piece is that mineral rights and landownership are separate from each other in some of these shale areas, so theoretically the gas companies can just come in and take your land:
September 16, 2009, Christine Ruggiero received a call from her neighbor informing her that her fence had been cut, her horses were loose and there were bulldozers on her property. That's how she learned that Aruba Petroleum was taking almost half of their 10 acres.

They did not need to inform the Ruggiero's of their intentions and dealt only with the mineral lease owners. All they need from the landowner's is surface right's and that's where the campaign of lies begins.  

When the industry spins and says they don't exercise Eminent Domain, they're right, they don't in its legally defined use. But they don't tell you why.

Some observations and questions for T. Boone Pickens and his fracked up Pickens Plan:

T. Boone Pickens was on MSNBC'S Morning Joe last week hawking the Pickens Plan with his usual folksy, disarming charm and had them all on his team during the entire 9:00 segment. Not one word was said about the *environmental impacts, but plenty was said about how great and wonderful the Picken's Plan is.

"How can anybody be against this..." the MSNBC cheerleaders rah rah-ed.

...Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens says the United States ought to be producing vehicles to take advantage of domestic shale gas and break its foreign oil dependence. "This is our chance," Pickens told The Philadelphia Inquirer in an interview on the Marcellus shale. "I think it's almost divine intervention that we had all this gas show up at this time in the deal."
Here we go with that God loves pollution talk again...

What happened to the wind farm idea Mr. Pickens? Couldn't seem to get that federal support money huh? Bet you'll get a huge tax write-off from it though. Isn't your wife, Madeline Pickens, a big wild Mustang advocate? That is the Ruby Pipeline she's railing against that's cutting straight through the Mustang herds isn't it?

Don't you two even talk?

One other thing you forgot to mention, you rich old oil dinosaur, is that you are the Clean Fuels Energy Corporation (formerly the Pickens Fuel Corp.) which owns and operates natural gas fueling stations from British Columbia to the Mexican border.

But you're not in it for the money? It's a national security issue right? You're in it mostly for the good of America?

Sure you are...

Tim Ruggiero speaks for himself and explains the lies of Big Gas:
(related video with visuals of the drilling on his property)

See our previous posting on Big Gas in Texas: "The Canary of Wise County, Texas"
November 16, 2010--Pittsburg City Council votes to ban gas drilling.
Energy experts have long touted natural gas as a cleaner fuel than oil. But while natural gas, as an end product, may be cleaner in many ways, its extraction still creates a great deal of environmental damage.
Though the industry had fought the measure by touting the jobs and wealth it can create for the area, the Pittsburgh council was unswayed. "They're bringing jobs all right," City Council President Darlene Harris told CBS. "There's going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals. That's where the jobs are. Is it worth it?"
*ProPublica's investigative series on gas drilling "Buried Secrets"
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Levity--SNL Spoofs TSA

It's going to be a tough week, so we'll start out on a humorous note with the gang from SNL and their way too damn funny take on the not so funny TSA groping.

BTW, has anyone noticed the push by MSNBC on the morning news to help cover for the TSA and proclaiming that "the public is over-reacting" about the whole thing?

Big Sis and John "Peashooter" Pistole must have sent them a memo.
(Video reloaded after earlier "issues." Universal has blocked some versions of this bit, now you have to sit through an obligatory commercial before the fun starts.)

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Grandiose Ego of Albert Turner, Jr.---Perry County, Alabama's Coal Ash Cad

"We are on our way up."
"Glory be to God that we was able to hit this landfill deal and hit this coal ash."
Perry County Alabama Commissioner Albert Turner, Jr.

It isn't commonplace to hear God and coal ash mentioned in favorable terms, but leave it to Mr. Turner to come up with a way to intertwine God's blessings with four million tons of toxic coal ash from the TVA Kingston spill dumped in Perry County, Alabama. We can't imagine that there are any coal ash dumps in heaven, but maybe in Mr. Turner's visions of the skyward paradise there are.

The $4,000,000,000 windfall in dumping fees that remains largely in the control of the County Commission is heaven for them (him), but for the residents of Perry County the effects of the coal ash are a living hell, and in their eyes, Turner is a literal black devil.

They're right. He is.

And he's a proud devil with great ambitions and full of self-importance.

The following *pictures were sent to us by a reader who found them on the newly constructed (November 2010) Albert Turner, Jr. page. It seems that he feels the need for further self-aggrandizement, despite the fact that Perry County has an official governmental page with commission minutes and pictures of all the commissioners already.
*(We apologize for the bad quality, but that's how they appear, pun intended.)
A "presidential" Turner and his official really tacky lavender Oval Office attire
This man has no shame and an ego the size of the Arrowhead landfill that received the bulk of the coal ash because when he does things like this recent presidential posing, it illustrates in "a picture's worth a thousand words" terms just how pompous and narcissistic he really is.  

In an October 12, 2010 County Commission meeting # 70, located on this Turner site, we noticed that the coal ash cash is flowing like the landfill leachate and some of the amounts are quite large in certain areas.

Motion by Albert Turner and seconded by Clarence Black to adopt the appropriation budget in the amount of $461,289.00.  Nea:  Brett Harrison.  The motion was carried.

Motion by Albert Turner and seconded by Clarence Black to adopt the Commission budget in the amount of $828,953.  Nea: Brett Harrison

Motion by Albert Turner to adopt the Elections budget in the amount of $104,165. The motion was carried.

Motion by Albert Turner and seconded by Clarence Black to conditionally approve the in the amount of Sheriff/Jail budget $843,515. The motion was carried.

Motion by Albert Turner and seconded by Tim Sanderson to adopt the Ambulance Services budget in the amount of $228,000. The motion was carried.

Are these fiscal decisions and appropriations really benefiting the citizens or are they benefiting "friends?"

There aren't any pictures on this site of anything or anyone else in Perry County. Nineteen of them are of Turner with various individuals, some well-known, some not so much, and in one of the pictures we see a woman in need of a garment check before she has a wardrobe malfunction:

Wouldn't your Facebook page be a more appropriate place for this Commissioner Turner? 

There's nothing about this site that remotely resembles a majority of official county websites that we know of. This is one big self promotion, and it's offensive Mr. Turner, considering what your constituents and a large majority of the press says about the inside deal you pulled over on the residents of Perry County when you agreed to allow their community to become a toxic dumping ground.
*Untangling a toxic story: Perry County's coal ash tragedy
There are plenty of villains here, and heroes, too. The contradictions are towering.

Take Albert Turner Jr., for example, a cad to the masses in Perry County, black and white. His father, Albert Sr., was a beloved leader of the civil rights movement, a brave man who risked his life for the cause. Albert the younger, on the other hand, a county commissioner, is about maintaining power in his corner of the Black Belt.
"It would be economic racism if they didn't send it here," he said. "This is economic survival for one of the poorest counties in the nation. Poor people sought this."
Commissioner Albert Turner, Jr.

"You can't find ten people in Uniontown, other than these officials, that want that ash down there."
Michael Jackson--District Attorney

"I think that a lot of the time he really believes that what he's doing is going to be good for Perry County. But I think that's always second in line to the most important thing which is that it's going to be good for Albert Turner."
John Allen Clark--Local Journalist

Shame on you Mr. Turner. 

The words of the great Dr. Robert Bullard, one of the nation's leading authorities on environmental justice, describing how the dirty coal ash deal was perpetrated on Perry County;
"It was not a vote. It was not a referendum. It was a decision that was made..deals that were cut by the County Commission, TVA and EPA. That's not democracy, that's basically a dictatorship."
We completely agree Dr. Bullard.

The sins of Albert Turner, Jr. run deep and dark and are as filthy as coal ash.

"What happens to a county when its only chance for economic growth lies in a pollutant?"
Perry County film by N'Jeri Eaton & Matt Durning
*In a particularly telling moment in the film, the good bureaucrats of the EPA hold a public meeting. Residents are asked to voice their opinion about bringing the coal ash to Perry County.

But not a single resident showed up. It seems Commissioner Turner had scheduled another event, a classic car show, a barbecue and a health fair on the same day, at the same time, as the EPA public meeting.

Eaton and Durning capture his dark cynical humor when he drops by the EPA's empty meeting hall, gazes around and says, "and look at the crowd."
It was a trick out of Robert Moses' playbook and a sickening display of the usurping of civil society. If it makes you angry, just think how it makes a good many of the people of Perry County feel.
It is a tribute to Eaton, from Maryland, and Durning, from Massachusetts, both who now live in the Bay Area, that they could come to the heart of the Black Belt and get it right.

"PERRY COUNTY" Trailer from N'Jeri Eaton on Vimeo.

Legal news and developments in Perry County coal ash issue from Beasley Allen.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

"Hell Before Breakfast"

"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."
William Tecumseh Sherman

A recent story in the November 18th edition of the Birmingham News, from Editor Pam Siddall, caught our eye, but if you did not pick up the print copy of the News and relied on the online digital newspaper edition you would have missed it entirely. The digital version of the story is a shadow of the printed version, which happens more often than not.

News publisher outlines paper's multimedia strategy
"Siddall says she embraces the notion that a daily newspaper in a community like Birmingham needs to be a force for change through watchdog journalism and its ability to hold a mirror up to reflect both the good and bad found out there."

Really? Can we speculate on the number of stories in the public's interests that may have been spiked by this newspaper, that wouldn't have been, if that proverbial "mirror to reflect both the good and bad found out there" had been honestly and freely held up consistently?

Pull up a chair this may take a while to go through...

At some point along the way the press dismissed its first obligation to report without bias and undue influence. This probably occurred when newspapers became so dependent on advertising to keep them in business, and the printed media switched from community watchdogs to special interests propaganda machines. The disconnect between media and the communities they serve is on full display from Alabama to Washington--we're not being honestly informed. We're being told what they want us to know, and what they consider to be the news and how much we should know (and what we shouldn't.)

Sometimes they do get it right and educate us of some very important issues that we may not have been otherwise aware of, and in those cases they do a stellar job of it. 

Case in point: Senator Rockefeller D-WV (off his meds apparently) has recently suggested that the FCC remove Fox and MSNBC from the airwaves. He's unhappy that he and his colleagues are under scrutiny for the shenanigans they pull on the American people as often as a lobbyist tells lies to our elected legislators.

Revised bad lawyer joke: How can you tell if a lobbyist is lying? He's breathing.

Rockefeller made waves in the national media with these arrogant words just a couple of days ago: 
“There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the F.C.C. to say to Fox and to MSNBC,  Out. Off. End. Goodbye," he said. "It would be a big favor to political discourse; to our ability to do our work here in Congress; and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.”

"Our business?" Pardon the hell out of us Senator Rocksinthehead, but weren't you elected to do the people's business? We're just sayin'.

If it had not been for the media, those comments would have not made it into the news cycles and the public may not have known that with arrogant dolts like the Senator from WV in office, we better pay more attention to who we elect.

That was a good thing and there are more, but even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.

Even though there are instances where the media gets it right, far too often they get it wrong by suppressing news and not honestly reporting to the public "just the facts ma'am."  Instead we get a form of perverted facts that have been fed to the press by special interests and their high priced PR men. And they dutifully report on it without fact-checking the information. Particularly in Alabama.

John and Jane Q. Alabama are relegated to commentary in the Letters to the Editor forum and have no direct access to clandestine behind closed door discussions between the press and corporate or political entities that may directly affect their communities in negative ways. The playing field between the media and the citizens is perpetually slanted in favor of special interests.

We're fed what they want us to consume in Alabama.

We've covered this in a previous post, "The Kingfishers of Alabama's Mainstream Newspapers"  based in part on a revealing article from Harper's, that detailed how Alabama's media outlets are held captive by these political and special interests. We have now arrived at the point of no return in our opinions. Advertising dollars are all that stands between printed news outlets and extinction and they will not rock the boat by upsetting a revenue source. Or a political heavyweight. Even if it means distorting the real story. Or the deliberate spiking of stories.

Consequently, most newsworthy issues are perpetually absent from our media outlets and there is no "watchdog journalism" going on at all, for the most part. 

And that's the way it's been purposefully designed to be. Exposure equals embarrassment, and the bruising of bloated political egos, along with their carefully crafted public images that won't stand for a true reflection of what's really in the mirror.

If you're a politician or corporate giant, it helps if you are connected to message control heavy's like someone who was the former executive director of the Alabama Press Association that currently works as a big shot lobbyist and governmental affairs consultant. That's someone, who from that former position, who would have developed a wide array of media contacts to call on and who can influence the desired message to the public through the Alabama MSM media. 

Just ask Governor-elect Bentley's communications director, Stephen Bradley, but watch out for that long bony finger he likes to jab at those who he dislikes, it could be injurious.

If the citizenry of Alabama knew the actual truth about their politicians, and the government chicanery that goes on from the state level all the way down to small community government, there would be "Hell before breakfast" of another sort served up with a big piece of pissed off pie on the side at the next communal electoral tables.

So say we the Opinion Board of the Vincent Alabama Confidential
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monsanto PCB Contaminant Warning Continuing for Alabama's Lake Martin--Calhoun, Chilton, St. Clair, Shelby and Talladega Counties

*Video added at conclusion (Fox13 reporters offered bribes to keep quiet 83 rewrites.)
We've covered this issue of the ongoing fish consumption warnings resulting from the Monsanto/Solutia PCB contamination to Alabama's Lake Martin in a previous post, but it has come back around as current news with another warning "issued." The warnings have never really been lifted in actuality, and perhaps this is in the current news cycle because of some testing results that didn't turn out well. Sources tell us that is the case, but don't expect ADEM and EPA Region 4 to say much more about this.

Monsanto's the primary culprit responsible for this PCB contamination, but they're not the only ones who have seriously degraded the Coosa River that feeds Lake Martin--it has been under assault for years from coal fired power plants like Alabama Power and Georgia's GE plant.
*(See page at blog footer "The Most Contaminated Place On Earth" The Anniston PCB contamination ranks # 7 of America's Worst Man Made Environmental Disasters.)

November 16, 2010
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Department of Public Health says there's a potential health risk from eating fish caught in the Lake Logan Martin area.

Possible polychlorinated biphenyl contamination caused the department to issue advisories Oct. 7. PCBs were used as electrical insulation until they were banned in 1979. PCBs are listed by the department as a possible carcinogen.

The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and working on cleanup strategies.
Pam Scully, the EPA's remedial project manager for the Anniston PCB site, says the investigation includes the Monsanto plant site in Anniston and the area from Snow Creek down to Choccolocco Creek.

Scully says PCB concentrations have been decreasing, but the EPA needs to make sure they keep going down.

The Daily Home's Matt Quillen has a lengthier article on this;
The Monsanto Company plant site in Anniston dumped PCBs onto the ground and into water from the 1930s until they were banned, according to reports.
"The (Monsanto) facility itself had landfills that were not properly capped or the caps were compromised in some way,” Scully said. "In the mid-1990s, those caps were re-installed and there were some diversion ditches built to prevent contamination from being released into water bodies." 
"We still have areas that need protective measures, but the surface water discharges that were occurring in the 1990s were much higher than they are now. So now we are dealing with residuals that were either in the water body or in the floodplains."
From the Chemical Industry Archives a project of the Environmental Working Group website;
The story of Anniston is a cautionary tale.... of shocking corporate deception and dangerous secrets.

Monsanto's defense of its actions surrounding PCBs can best be summarized this way: the company claims it didn't know that PCBs were harmful to human health or persistent in the environment until the late 1960s, and as soon as the company learned of these threats, it acted quickly and responsibly to address the problem in a cooperative, forthright manner with the government.
"And the truth is that in 1966 when we found out that PCBs were in the environment, we started an investigation journey and we tried to gather information and we acted responsibly." [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 454, line 6] ...
"When Monsanto learned that PCBs could possibly be in the environment, it acted promptly and responsibly and continues to do so." [Trial Transcript, Owens v. Monsanto CV-96-J-440-E, (N.D. Alabama April 4, 2001), pg. 455, line 14]
But as the company's own documents show, Monsanto went to extraordinary efforts to keep the public in the dark about PCBs, and even manipulated scientific studies by urging scientists to change their conclusions to downplay the risks of PCB exposure. 
Monsanto's conduct, throughout the entire period that the company made PCBs, was less than commendable.
Their attempts today to backpedal on the science and shirk responsibility for the global saturation of PCBs is equally discouraging, as are their repeated attempts to "green" their image with flashy, expensive *PR campaigns.
 *(Who do we know in Alabama that is the sole lobbyist for Monsanto? Stephen Bradley. 2010 lobbyists Alabama Ethics Board records, pg 8 of 84.)
Today Monsanto does not deny that everyone is contaminated with PCBs. They argue instead that since they have contaminated the entire planet they are innocent of all liability.
This sounds eerily similar to what ADEM said to what Moulton, Alabama's Mayor Alexander said in the press after the Synagro contamination of North Alabama:
For one day, Alexander, the Moulton mayor, banned Morris Farms from dumping its leachate into the Moulton wastewater treatment plant. ADEM officials sat him down, however, and he reversed his position.
“ADEM said we were already contaminated, and it was too late to do anything about it,” Alexander said Friday. “Nobody notified us of the danger until it was too late. We were already contaminated.” 
In our previous posting of the radioactive elements in Texas' drinking water, the state agencies followed a similar path, they didn't tell anyone until after the fact, lowballed the exposures, and protected the offenders, NOT the unsuspecting public who counts on these state agencies to be the community watchdogs for public health risks from the companies they oversee, permit and regulate.

All of this is going in the same direction--intentional lying and putting the public at large at risk of arduous health risks.

Is this kind of thinking the new frontier for these fiends and their next PR push: "You're already contaminated so what do you want us to do now? We may as well just let the companies keep right on doing what they are doing."

If we follow that line of thought, we'll reach the real end-goal of big business and its enablers, (which are almost, *but not quite, exclusively republican) to abolish the EPA and remove all federal regulatory rules. They would much prefer that state's rights drafts the rules because all their own people are already in place in these agencies.
*Obama's Supreme Court Justice pick Elena Kagan, in her capacity as Solicitor General, intervened (Dec. 2009) in the first case the SCOTUS was to rule on involving genetically modified crops, Monsanto vs Geertson Seed, and defended Monsanto's right to contaminate the environment with its GM Alfalfa. Obama appointed Monsanto goon Michael Taylor as Food Safety Czar, "biotech governor of the year" Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture and Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui as the US Ag Trade representative.

Comforting isn't it? If the republicans don't get us the first go around, then the dems who have sold their souls to special interests will finish us off.

Alabama has a law that limits the time frame for bringing a legal action from a toxic exposure to two years from the actual date of exposure. If you don't get sick in that time frame, your fight to hold those responsible becomes much harder and you can be assured of a legal battle lasting from at least 5-10 years, and longer.

With some exposures, such as the ones that cause cancers, you'll probably be dead before you collect, if you ever do collect. You can also count on a greatly reduced sum thanks to the Big Mules ensuring that Alabama's Supreme Court is packed with big business friendlies.
The indisputable evidence is in the public record for related court trials such as Owens vs. Monsanto. The Owens case settled in 2001 for $43 million, but Monsanto has never admitted wrongdoing. The amount awarded was pathetic, but it was clear to the plaintiffs that Monsanto/Solutia would keep the matter in court long after the money would be useful to anyone living.

In subsequent attempts to distance itself from the toxic skeletons in its closet, *the "new" Monsanto Company claims that it's not the same Monsanto Company that polluted the community of Anniston, Alabama and other communities. 
While its current parent company, Pfizer-Pharmacia (nice folks in their own right), prepares to spin off Monsanto into an independent company, the ghosts of Monsanto's past fade from the public's mind.
*They've hired the right "governmental affairs" man in Stephen Bradley.

These are not "cautionary tales." They are very real but we're still not listening...it always happens to someone else, somewhere else.

It's quite insidious and sinister in our opinion--the interweaving of political and corporate interests and how they systematically undermine the state and federal regulatory agencies responsibilities and influence them to put profit before people every time.

The consequences of these kinds of clandestine alliances must not continue to be ignored by any citizen and simply brushed off as nonsense and the ramblings of "environmentalist wackos."

Are you listening El Rushbo blowhardo?

US Senate Bill S510 The Food Modernization and Safety Act is Monsanto at work. They even want to place it under the watch of TSA twit "Big Sis."

Monsanto also does friendly "new image polishing" things like hiring Blackwater:
Agribusiness giant Monsanto, which genetically modifies plants to exude or tolerate pesticide or to produce nonviable seed, hired the services of the mercenary firm Blackwater to spy on activists, Jeremy Scahill reports.
A death-tech firm weds a hit squad.
This is no doubt in response to a decade of GM crop sabotage efforts around the globe.  Since the publicly-announced introduction of GM crops in 1996, concerned citizens have vandalized such crops every single year somewhere on the planet. Several thousand GM plants have been partially or wholly destroyed.
FOX "Kills" Monsanto Milk Story 

The stories linger: The cancer cluster up the hill. The guy who burned the soles off his boots while walking on Monsanto's landfill. The dog that died after a sip from Snow Creek, the long-abused drainage ditch that runs from the Monsanto plant through the heart of west Anniston's cinder-block cottages and shotgun houses. Sylvester Harris, 63, an undertaker who lived across the street from the plant, said he always thought he was burying too many young children.
"I knew something was wrong around here," he said.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Your Health Harris County, Texas--Eight Glasses of Radiation Per Day

"8 by 8" rule for healthy living - drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Compelling investigative reporting by Forrest Wilder of the Texas Observer and Houston's CBS News affiliate KHOU has revealed some grave problems in the Lone Star State's drinking water supply in Harris County, Texas. The investigation found that its been going on for years, since the 1980s, and it appears that the state environmental agency, Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, (TCEQ) has been in on it and kept the public in the dark until they were caught, big time.

A state agency purposefully misleading the public? Hard to believe isn't it? NOT.

Investigation Finds Radiation in Texas Drinking Water
By Forrest Wilder
November 11, 2010
TCEQ was lowballng radiation levels

KHOU-TV in Houston is out with an explosive series on worrisome radiation levels in drinking water. Part I looked at the extent of the problem and what state and federal officials are doing about it.
Hundreds of water providers around the Gulf Coast region are providing their customers with drinking water that contains radioactive contaminants that raise health risks, according to state lab results and public health scientists.
The revelations came to light during a four-month KHOU-TV investigation, which examined thousands of state laboratory tests from water providers across Texas. The data, provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), ranged from 2004 to the present.
The radiation was first discovered as a part of required testing, under federal regulations, of all drinking water provided by community water systems in America.
It's important to note that the radiation levels in the drinking water are extremely low, on the order of parts per trillion. However, as KHOU reports, the tendency among environmental health experts and the EPA, is to regard any level as potentially dangerous to human health.

Part II aired last night and it reveals what appears to be scientific malpractice on the part of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality scientists. One expert in the KHOU story called it a "cover-up."

How can TCEQ defend this? Well, judging from the interview TCEQ staffer Linda Brookins gave KHOU they can't. Take a look.

KHOU: "What would you tell me if I told you that I have talked with numerous scientists across the nation that would say that what TCEQ did was bad science?"
Brookins: "Well, I guess I would have no comment on that."
"I do not believe that what TCEQ was doing at that time has impacted human health," she added.

KHOU also asked Brookins about the state’s continued subtractions for margin of error, even after the EPA published a federal rule banning the practice.

KHOU: "Did you happen to skip over page 76,727 of the federal rule? Because right here in 2000 EPA told you, ‘don’t subtract margin of error.’ Did you skip that part?"

Brookins: "It doesn’t say not to subtract."

KHOU: "It doesn’t?"

Brookins: "It is silent."

KHOU: "I’d like you to hold this in your hand for a moment and read the part underlined in blue."

Brookins: "I’m not going to do that on camera."
#         #         #
The problem is not confined to Harris County, Texas alone:
One particular type of radiation that popped up again and again, in water provided by utilities all across Texas, was something called alpha radiation, which public health scientists say can be particularly problematic when consumed.

“The alpha particle -- this is the 800-pound gorilla of radioactive particles,” said Dr. David Ozonoff, an environmental health professor and the chair emeritus of the Boston University School of Public Health.
We're not surprised to hear of ineptness on the part of these state environmental agencies who are, more or less, purely figurehead entities who work in concert with the big polluters they make millions from. But, therein lies the problem as we have said before: How do you effectively regulate and enforce violations from these entities (many are known to the agencies as serial violators) when you are handsomely profiting from their emissions, discharges and permit fees?

ADEM and TCEQ are the poster children of state agencies gone nuts.

It's like one long and winding crazy train with the inmates running the asylum in Texas (TCEQ) and Alabama (ADEM) and unfortunately they've punched all of our tickets and won't let us off.

Governors Perry of Texas and the recently elected "Fife-ish" Bentley of Alabama, have made their positions clear on the EPA stepping in and attempting to force both states to comply with the federal laws (hum to the tune and tone of Barney Fife's famous "citizen's arrest" phrase):
                         "State's rights! State's Rights!"

Kudos once again to Wilder, the Texas Observer and KHOU's Mark Greenblatt.

Posted by Winger
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