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(en) Britain, Freedom* #7216 - NOTES FROM THE US

Date Thu, 29 Sep 2011 09:33:23 +0300


In the midst of the âopening upâ of Murdochâs media and propaganda empire, at least some of his outlets stayed true to type: ---- Just as the front age of The Sun screamed, âAl Qaedaâs Massacre, Norwayâs 9/11â, Murdochâs Wall Street Journal at first blamed âjihadistsâ and reported that, âNorway is targeted for being true to Western norms.â Similarly, on the Washington Post website, Jennifer Rubin actually wrote, âThis is a sobering reminder for those who think itâs too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.â -- A somewhat unusual example of racism happened towards the end of June: US authorities refused to allow a Mexican aeroplane to fly over US airspace. A dangerous criminal on board? A known terrorist? No, the prominent Mexican sociologist, Raquel GutiÃrrez Aguilar, on her way to Italy, where she was scheduled to speak.

Amazingly, the plane had already taken off when the pilot was notified he could not cross into US airspace. Obviously GutiÃrrez Aguilar could do a great deal of harm to Americans from 30,000 with the views she holds â and was not to be tolerated. In 1992 she was arrested, tortured and imprisoned in Bolivia together with elected vice president, Ãlvaro GarcÃa; the charges were later dropped.

The budget crisis continues and â as usual â the working and poor are being obliged to bear the cost: pensions and health care for the elderly are likely to be cut. Never mind, a swathe of corporate profits shot up as second quarter earnings were announced: Caterpillarâs by 44% to US$1 billion (Â614,000), General Electricâs by 21% to US$3.75 (Â2.3) billion; and McDonaldâs by 15% to US$1.4 billion (Â860,000). Just as strikingly, a new analysis of US census data shows that the gap in wealth between whites and blacks has grown to its greatest level in 25 years. White Americans now have â on average â as much as 20 times the net worth of African Americans and 18 times that of Latinos. The Pew Research Center reported in late July that the median wealth of white US households in 2009 was about US$113,000 (Â68,870) compared with just over US$6,300 (Â3,840) for Hispanics and just under US$5,700 (Â3,474) for blacks.

Plenty of money â as always â for war, though: an as yet unreleased military investigation showed in July that the US taxpayer continues to fund the Taliban in Afghanistan. A US$2.6 (Â1.6) billion contract for transportation implicates eight prime contractors in Afghanistan in criminal enterprises or support for âthe enemyâ. And it happens âby accidentâ too: a new study currently being prepared by Congress shows how the US has wasted some US$34 (Â20.7) billion on private sector service contracts in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 200,000 contractors have been on the US payroll at times in Iraq and Afghanistan â more than the number of US fighting forces

Prison

By early August more than 400 prisoners in California had been on hunger strike for over five weeks. Theyâre protesting cruel and unusual conditions. The physical condition of dozens of inmates has reportedly deteriorated; some have lost between 20 and 25 pounds. The prisoners are demanding several changes in the prison system to bring them into line with whatâs standard in other areas of the country. These include an end to group punishment, denial of food as a punishment, and an end to long-term solitary confinement.

The strike began in the Pelican Bay maximum security prison in the north of the state; it has drawn the support of thousands of prisoners throughout California. Pelican Bay prisoner Todd Ashker explained, âWe believe that this is our only option of ever trying to make some kind of positive changes here, is through this peaceful protest of hunger strike. And there is a core group of us who are committed to taking this all the way to the death, if necessary. None of us want to do this, but we feel like we have no other option. And weâre just hoping for the best.â

As if that werenât enough, prison officials have banned journalists from meeting with the striking Pelican prisoners.

Guns

Freedom reported recently on ways in which the United States is fuelling and promoting the violence in Mexico. Now a new congressional report has determined that at least 122 firearms from a failed US undercover operation have either found their way to be used in crimes in Mexico and/or have been intercepted en route to drug cartels there. In fact, Mexican authorities found AK-47s and other powerful rifles in late 2009 which were later linked to a US âstingâ operation. Under the once-secret project, âOperation Fast and Furiousâ, US agents actually encouraged US gun shops to sell thousands of guns to middle people for Mexican drug cartels in an apparent attempt to gain access to senior-level figures within Mexicoâs criminal organisations.

Environment
Freedom has reported before on mountaintop removal, the destructive strip mining technique particularly as carried out by Massey Energy. Now, a new report in the peer-reviewed Journal of Community Health shows that among the 1.2 million people in or close to areas where itâs practised in central Appalachia, 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to it. So itâs usually people second to profit and dogma. For example the scientist who exposed the threats of climate change to the polar bear, Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist who oversaw much of the scientific work for the government agency which has been examining drilling in the Arctic and managed about US$50 (Â31) million in research projects has been suspended. While the oil firms continue to wield massive influence, Monnettâs own work put under official investigation for possible scientific misconduct.


Louis Further

Journal of Community Health: http://www.springer.com/public+health/journal/10900
The Pew Research Center: http://people-press.org/

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