Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bobby Darin - Simple Song of Freedom

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you've never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don't want a war.

Hey, there, mister black man, can you hear me?
I don't want your diamonds or your game
I just want to be someone known to you as me
And I will bet my life you want the same.

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

Seven hundred million are ya list'nin’?
Most of what you read is made of lies
But, speakin’ one to one ain't it everybody's sun
To wake to in the mornin’ when we rise?

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

Brother Solzhenitsyn, are you busy?
If not, won't you drop this friend a line
Tell me if the man who is plowin' up your land
Has got the war machine upon his mind?

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

Now, no doubt some folks enjoy doin' battle
Like presidents, prime ministers and kings
So, let's all build them shelves
Where they can fight among themselves
Leave the people be who love to sing.

Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war.

I say … let it fill the air …
Tellin’ people everywhere …
We, the people here, don't want a war.

The liner notes
  • Written by: Bob Darin
  • Produced by: Jerry Marcellino/Mel Larsen
  • Arranged by: Quitman Dennis
  • Orchestra conducted by: Quitman Dennis
  • Recorded: February 6, 1971 – Live at the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Released: 1987
  • “What CD is this Darin song on?”

Friday, August 03, 2007

Corporate Shape-Shifting: Is its End Near?

At a time when corporations resemble lawless gangs, bringing them to justice for felony and capital crimes has been all but impossible. Corporations are shape shifters, invoking "corporate personhood" for the "freedom of speech" it gives them, but denying "personhood" in cases of mass murder and/or manslaughter.

Some twenty years on, the disaster in Bhopal in which some 8,000 people were killed is still in the news. There are two important and related developments. Last month, Dow Chemical literally purchased immunity from prosecution for its role in the Bhopal disaster even as the UK seeks to make corporations --not individuals --criminally responsible for deaths caused by a firm's gross negligence. The new law is entitled the "Corporate Manslaughter Statute."

Corporations often seem to be above the law and are. While corporations cite rights normally accorded individuals, they are rarely held to standards of equal responsibility. A single individual would have been imprisoned for an oil spill of Exxon Valdez magnitude but Exxon got off with a payoff. An individual responsible for the deaths of 8,000 at Bhopal might have gotten hard jail time for life or, in Texas, death at the end of a needle. Union Carbide, by contrast, got slapped on the corporate wrist for the deaths of 8,000 the night of December 3, 1984. There is, in fact, no definitive total of deaths.
THAT NIGHT, DECEMBER 3, 1984Shortly after midnight poison gas leaked from a factory in Bhopal, India, owned by Union Carbide Corporation. There was no warning, none of the plant's safety systems were working. In the city people were sleeping. They woke in darkness to the sound of screams with the gases burning their eyes, noses and mouths. They began retching and coughing up froth streaked with blood. Whole neighborhoods fled in panic, some were trampled, others convulsed and fell dead. People lost control of their bowels and bladders as they ran. Within hours thousands of dead bodies lay in the streets. ....

--International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
The testimony of Mohammed Karim
I used to drive a truck to dispose of dirt and waste. My truck was also a special truck - I used to pick up unclaimed dead bodies from the mortuary, I was used to doing it. That night (3rd December 1984) I put in thousands of bodies that we dumped - in one grave we would put 5-6 bodies, and we burnt piles and piles with logs. Many bodies were burnt unidentified - Muslims were burnt and Hindus were buried.

"They (the govt.) said 'leave your wives and children in your houses and go on duty'. We used to be on duty till 12:00 at night and after that the military trucks used to come and dump the bodies in the Narmada river. This went on for three to four days. Even on the 16th (of December 1984) we had to come back again. They gave us R500 for this but then they took it back from our wages.

We would fit 120 bodies in one truck and this we would fill and empty five times a day. There were eight trucks on duty (so that is 4,800 bodies a day). It carried on for exactly the same intensity for three to four days, and after 12:00 am the military took over.

We took a bulldozer and dug pits to bury all the animals. Some people were picking up bodies and some animals. 50 - 60 drivers were all working that day (3rd December). We picked up the bodies with our own hands. Every time we picked one up it gave out gas. The bodies had all turned blue, and had froth oozing from their mouths.

In some houses everyone had died so there was no one to break the locks. In one case a 6 month old girl had survived and everybody else (mother, father and siblings) was dead. I broke the locks to that house.

At least 15 - 20,000 people died in those first few days. What they said in the papers was absolutely wrong. What could I have done? I was a government servant. What the government said was absolutely wrong but what could I do?

--How many died in Bhopal? A reply to the Houston Chronicle from Tim Edwards of the UK Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Holding corporations responsible for crimes seems all but impossible.
In the United States, as in England, it is very difficult to hold either organizations or their officers responsible for gross negligence. For example, while many law students learn about the success civil tort plaintiffs had in suing Ford for failing to spend $13 per car to strengthen a gas tank known to be vulnerable to rear- end collisions, few learn that, at the same time, a prosecutor brought a case in criminal negligence against Ford in Indiana—and lost the jury trial.

--Anthony J. Sebok, The U.K.'s "Corporate Manslaughter" Statute, Findlaw
Dow Chemical, it appears, will escape all responsibility.

Government assures Dow of immunity in return for investments

NEW DELHI. June 30, 2007 -- Organizations of survivors of the December 1984 Bhopal disaster today strongly condemned Commerce and Industries Minister Kamal Nath for his recent public assurance to indemnify Dow Chemical, in Washington DC, USA. They charged him and the Prime Minister with selling out to Dow Chemical, current owner of Union Carbide.

PMO Files obtained by survivors' organisations from the Prime Minister's Office through Right to Information reveal that the Prime Minister is involved in plans that would allow Dow Chemical to walk away from its liabilities in Bhopal, including clean up of the contaminated soil and ground water and paying compensation for the health damages caused to more than 20,000 people due to exposure to toxic contaminants in their drinking water. The “PMO Files” have been uploaded to:
In other words, Dow chemical bought themselves a favorable decision. If an individual had done that, he/she would have been jailed and prosecuted for bribery. If the corporate shape-shifters do it, they are being good "corporate citizens". Nonsense! It is legalized crookery!

I have never understood the logic of "corporate personhood". On the one hand, corporations are not persons. Granting Philllp Morris the right to advertise a product that will surely kill you because the company has "freedom of speech" is ludicrous on its face. Phillip Morris is not Phil Jackson who lives down the street. I deny that "freedom of speech" means that big tobacco can tell lies in order to get you to buy a product that will kill you!

To claim that Phillip Morris has "rights" is absurd. It's not even a collection of people. In the eyes of the law, it is a "legal abstraction". Compounding the absurdity are the conflicting corporate claims that tobacco companies are immune from prosecution because they are not persons is equally absurd and absurdly contradictory. Why do corporations have it both ways when real people are most often screwed to the wall by both government and corporations and, most often, by corporations and government in cahoots?

In the Bhopal case, the Indian Supreme Court has too often sided with the "legal abstractions" against the rights of real people.
Over the past decade and a half—in line with the Indian bourgeoisie's abandonment of its national economic strategy and the associated claims that India was evolving in a "socialist" direction—the Indian Supreme Court has emerged as a spearhead of neo-liberal reform, issuing a flurry of rulings attacking democratic and worker rights and expanding the power of business and management.

The Supreme Court has taken an active role in assisting the entry of foreign investments by issuing several judgments in favor of overseas corporations.

In 1989 the Indian Supreme Court, without consulting the victims of the 1984 gas leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, abruptly ruled as final a settlement of $470 million dollars reached between the Indian government and the Union Carbide Corporation. The company was criminally culpable in causing over 22,000 deaths and injuring at least 120,000 others, leaving many maimed for life.

India's highest court also enabled Union Carbide Corporation to wash its hands of any further responsibility by allowing it sell its Indian plants to the giant multinational Dow Chemicals. This was a clear signal to foreign corporations that their business interests will be protected even when they commit mass crimes.

The court has also issued several anti-democratic judgments restricting public debate and the right to strike. For example, in February 2006 the Indian Supreme Court imposed an unprecedented ban on public debate about or protests against, the dismantling of the toxin-laden French aircraft carrier Clemenceau in India's ship de-commissioning yards. [See Indian Supreme Court imposes sweeping ban on public debate on toxic warship].

In 2002 the Indian Supreme Court mounted an open attack on free speech by jailing the famous Indian writer and activist Arundathi Roy for criminal contempt for daring to criticize the Supreme Court. [See Arundathi Roy jailed for contempt of court]

--India: Court-directed campaign to seal "illegal" buildings in Delhi provokes social turmoil
According to Findlaw, the new law will allow the prosecution of a "...corporation or partnership (an "organization" for short) for the crime of manslaughter if the organization causes the death of a person as the result of its "gross" breach of a duty owed under the law of negligence." The state's burden of proof, however, is rather high. The state must prove a "gross breach of duty" in cases that result in death or injury. The new British law, therefore, is not a panacea or a solution. It may be, however, an important first step toward holding mere "legal abstractions" to a rule of law that applies to everyone else.

July 18, 2003

Mr. William Stavropoulos
Chairman and CEO
The Dow Chemical Company
2030 Dow Center
Midland, Michigan 48674

Dear Mr. Stavropoulos:

In February 2001, the Dow Chemical Company acquired Union Carbide Corporation, the company responsible for the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal, India, which killed thousands of people and injured several hundred thousand more.

Even at the time of acquisition, survivors of the Bhopal disaster and their supporters worldwide, including in the US, warned Dow against acquiring Union Carbide because of the liabilities pending against Union Carbide.

1. Union Carbide is an absconder from justice, having failed to face criminal charges against the company in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court, when charges were pressed against it for manslaughter, among other crimes. To date, no representative of Union Carbide Corporation has appeared in court to face these charges.

2. The thousands of tons of toxic waste dumped by Union Carbide in and around its factory site from 1967 onwards remains abandoned to this day. Many of these toxins have migrated into the local groundwater and are showing up in the breast milk of mothers living around the factory. Union Carbide failed to restore the factory site to its original condition as required by its lease agreement with the local Madhya Pradesh State Government.

The disaster in Bhopal continues, and is likely to worsen if Dow Chemical does not step forward to fulfill its responsibilities. It is disheartening to note that a company such as Dow, who professes to lead the chemical industry towards "responsible care" shies away from its obligations when truly responsible care can be demonstrated. More disturbing is the manner in which Union Carbide and Dow Chemical have ignored the summons of the Bhopal court.

This exposes a blatant disregard for the law.

By refusing to address the liabilities it inherited in Bhopal via itsacquisition of Union Carbide, Dow Chemical is party to the ongoing human rights and environmental abuses in Bhopal. Dow Chemical should immediately take steps towards reparations in Bhopal by:

a) Ensuring the appearance of a Union Carbide representative at the ongoing criminal case in Bhopal, India.
b) Meeting the demands of the survivors for medical and economic rehabilitation.
c) Cleaning up the contamination in and around the factory site and the poisoned groundwater, and providing alternative supplies of freshwater to the affected communities in the interim.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding plans to meet those


Signatories include U.S. Representatives Kucinich (D-OH), Pallone (D-NJ), Grijalva (D-AZ), Brown (D-OH), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Baldwin (D-WI),Towns (D-NY), Holt (D-NJ), Stark (D-CA), DeLauro (D-CT), Crowley (D-NY),Faleomavaega (D-Am. Samoa), Solis (D-CA), Payne (D-NJ), Hinchey (D-NY),Schakowsky (D-IL), Markey (D-MA), and Lee (D-CA).

Another corporate robber baron in the news: Halliburton!

Goodbye Houston: An Alternative Annual Report on Halliburton

Contact: Pratap Chatterjee, (510) 759-8970
Charlie Cray, (202) 497 3673

May 15th, 2007

Goodbye Houston report

Download 2007 Alternative Annual Report

Houston, May 15, 2007: CorpWatch and its partners today released an alternative annual report on Halliburton titled: "Goodbye Houston" The new report was prepared in association with Halliburton Watch and the Oil & Gas Accountability Project.

The new report (the fourth in the series) is being issued on the eve of Halliburton 's annual general meeting in Woodlands, Texas, on Wednesday, May 16th, 2007. An in-depth, hard-hitting report, "Goodbye Houston," provides a detailed look at Halliburton 's military and energy operations around the world as well as its political connections. It includes a series of recommendations for the company and its shareholders as well as for the United States policymakers.

Halliburton is one of the 10 largest contractors to the U.S. military. It has earned over $20 billion from the U.S.military in war-related contracts in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. This cash bonanza may well be over because of the cancelation of its two most lucrative contracts: oil infrastructure reconstruction and military base support.

"With the loss of its two biggest taxpayer-funded contracts in Iraq, Halliburton has decided that its future lies outside the United States. The company decision to move its headquarters to Dubai could spell a major financial loss to the U.S. Treasury," says Pratap Chatterjee, co-director of CorpWatch.

"Given the multiple ongoing investigations into Halliburton 's alleged wrongdoing, policymakers should closely scrutinize Halliburton 's latest move, and whether it will allow the company to further elude accountability,” said Charlie Cray, co-director of Halliburton Watch and director of the Center for Corporate Policy. “Moreover, this underscores the need for Congress to bar companies that have broken the law, or avoided paying taxes, from receiving federal contracts.”

"Goodbye Houston" also documents

* how Halliburton may have broken the law by employing private security guards like Blackwater and Triple Canopy; the Triple Canopy guards have been alleged to have shot at unarmed Iraqis for sport

* Halliburton truck drivers allege the company failed to adequately protect them in Iraq

* new military audits which show deliberate concealment of high overheads

* new lawsuits allege that company management in Iraq and Kuwait knowingly wasted millions of dollars of taxpayers dollars

Today as the military slows its purchases of Halliburton services in Iraq, the company is diversifying into such profitable areas the provision of direct services to the oil and gas industry abroad.

* Halliburton has finally admitted that its executives may have been involved in bribery and political meddling Nigeria

* Halliburton 's hydraulic fracturing operations in the United States have continued to have disastrous impacts on the environment, including community water supplies

* Halliburton has been accused of substandard work on offshore operations in Brazil, and is under investigation for no-bid contracts in Algeria

Download 2007 Alternative Annual Report

2006 Alternative Annual Report Press Release

Download 2006 Alternative Annual Report

2005 Alternative Annual Report Press Release

Download 2005 Alternative Annual Report

2004 Alternative Annual Report Press Release

Download 2004 Alternative Annual Report

The following video is an excellent treatment of the facts in evidence with regard to the mass killing perpetrated upon the people at Bhopal. A must see.

The Exxon-Valdez:

From the Insider with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino:

The Corporation, Part One.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Appearing Now in a Neighborhood Near You: The Budget Deficit that Ate America or How Walmart Robbed 200,000 Americans of their Jobs

Wal-Mart makes a killing putting people out of work, depressing local economies, and lowering wages but it is globalization --an unholy alliance with GOP "trickle down" policies --that spawned Wal-Mart and sounded a death knell for the futures of American workers. Most recently, Wal-Mart's Chinese imports have displaced nearly 200,000 US jobs
China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) was supposed to improve the US trade deficit with China and create good jobs in the United States. But those promises have gone unfulfilled: the total US trade deficit with China reached $235 billion in 2006. Between 2001 and 2006, this growing deficit eliminated 1.8 million US jobs (Scott 2007). The world’s biggest retailer, US-based Wal-Mart was responsible for $27 billion in US imports from China in 2006 and 11% of the growth of the total US trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2006. Wal-Mart’s trade deficit with China alone eliminated nearly 200,000 US jobs in this period.

Robert E. Scott, The Wal-Mart effect
The Wal-Mart effect on US workers and manufacturing is typified by the effects seen in clothing --low-cost goods with a hidden higher price: lower wages, lost jobs. Underlying every sector, however, are unsupportable US trade deficits which benefit American consumers but only so long as they have jobs themselves.

As has been the trend at least since the regime of Ronald Reagan, manufacturing suffers most as Wal-Mart grows more intrusive, exploiting the trade deficit with its own undervalued currency. In effect, American consumers have financed China's economic boom.

Of some 133,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the US, sixty-eight percent were the direct result of Wal-Mart's "partnership" with China. The effect is devastating to US workers and the US economy overall. Manufacturing jobs, after all, have generally paid higher wages and provided better benefits.

The US-China trade deficits amount to more than $1 trillion in US Treasury bills and growing. It is fair to say that China has done this deliberately to rehabilitate its own economy on US backs. It has had the effect of lowering the cost of its exports to the United States and other countries.
The relationship between the dollar and the yen has been affected primarily by the adverse trade balance that we have with Japan. At the last summit meeting in London, for instance, we discussed the very high positive trade balance that Japan enjoyed then. The goal established by your own leaders was that this trade balance would be reduced. Instead, it's continued to go up.

I think, as the economic market leaders have recognized, the high export of Japanese goods and the relatively low imports into Japan of other goods, the yen has strengthened in comparison to other currencies, including, of course, the American dollar.

- President Jimmy Carter, Interview with Western European and Japanese Reporters, July 11th, 1978

My good friend, Matthew Stevenson, contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, wrote both an explanation and a history of our "indebted prosperity" in his review of a new book [The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years' War over the American Dollar] for the Texas Observer. As few have, Stevenson makes the connection between Alexander Hamilton's vision for America and our current Asian debt.
At almost every level, what is sustaining the US economic miracle is Hamilton’s beloved debt. The federal government balances its books with paper laid off to Asian bondholders under the Faustian bargain that they buy our securities and
we buy their exports. Domestically, the lender of last resort is not the Fed, but the US consumer, sadly as innocent about speculators as Abraham Lincoln.

-- Matthew Stevenson, The Best Government Money Can Buy, The Texas Observer

As I have often pointed out, the origins of current economic woes --exploding budget deficits amid the declining dollar --may be traced to what is called the "parlous economic stewardship of Ronald Reagan". Reagan cut the marginal tax rate for the very wealthy from 70% to 38% amid raised expectations that wealth would "trickle down". It didn't. The many presentations by Dr. Daniel Weinberger at the Census Bureau make the convincing case that the reverse occurred. Wealth did not trickle down. It flowed up!

Reagan's own Budget Director, David Stockman, later recanted. [See: Atlantic Monthly, The Education of David Stockman] Certainly, “supply side economics” produced the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression. Stockman saved his most ascerbic comments for a "noisy faction" of Republicans who had promised an "orgy of investments" that would propel the US economy to new heights. I have no idea what Reagan, the GOP and Stockman had been smoking. Only prices and unemployment got high. Wages and living standards remained firmly tethered to terra firma if not the hole that had been dug for them. Many joined the growing ranks of the newly poor. A pernicious trend continues to this day. That is, the rich get exceedingly rich and the poor get even poorer. That has been the case since 1982 but for a brief interlude in Bill Clinton's second term.

Bush, hoping to bask in Reagan's fading stardom and Hollywood mystique, pushed through Congress a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts. Like Ronald Reagan, Bush has waged a "war on terrorism" during which acts of terrorism increased. The final numbers have not yet been tallied for Bush --but, again, like Reagan, the results are pedestrian but tragic, a war of mass distraction in Afghanistan, a quagmire in Iraq, and the budget deficit that ate America.

The phrase "debtors death spiral" is used to denote what happens when consumers borrow to cover only the interest on previous loans. New debt compounds old ones and bankruptcy may be around the corner. Many writers speculate that the US --under Bush --has already entered such a spiral. What keeps us afloat? A "Carvellian" quick response is simply: the rest of the world which cannot afford an American black hole. The US is kept afloat not because our economy is strong but because it is not. The US may be thought of as an empire but only because the rest of the world cannot afford not to keep us afloat.
Between 1989 and 2003, the ever-increasing US trade deficit with China has led to about 1.5 million jobs that either moved overseas or never were created in this country as production shifted to China, according to a report released Jan. 11, 2005, by the US–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), a congressionally appointed panel. The pace of job losses has picked up since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, with about one-third of the total, or 500,000, occurring in the past three years.
Lower Wages for US Workers
By supporting foreign-made goods on such a massive scale, the company that trumpets its All-American image is creating incentives for corporations to destroy good jobs in the United States.

By purchasing such a large amount of goods produced in China, Wal-Mart indirectly supports continued workers’ rights abuses by Chinese authorities.

--Wal-Mart's Imports Lead to US Jobs Exports

Meanwhile, don't miss a Washington Post report that shows how Wal-Mart pits suppliers against one another and squeezes them for the lowest price. The result is that factories respond with longer hours and/or lower pay. Wealth, as we have learned the hard way, trickles UP --not down. The robber baron will always make up his losses out of your ass. In China, the workers have no choice: China forbids independent trade unions. That is a policy not unlike that of the US GOP and Ronald Reagan, specifically, who is not fondly remembered for his effective War on Labor and his ineffective war on terrorism and drugs. [See also: The Peace Tree]

    Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good For America

    Do you get that? Through the Port of Long Beach alone, China exports some 36 billion dollars worth of manufactured goods for the American consumer market. But surely, the US now sells exports to the world's biggest market of some 1.3 billion folk, a promise held out when Bill Clinton signed the China trade agreement of 2000. Sadly, it just didn't happen. US exports through the port of Long Beach about 3 billion dollars worth of raw materials --not US "high tech". Largely because of China's undervalued Yuan, the "consuming world", the US primarily, is reduced to Third World status and losing ground. The US has no leverage on foreign money markets.

    Under Bush, we could not fight back if we wanted to. The dollar is vulnerable as long as Bush runs up the highest American budget deficits in history. The Iraq war alone might have bankrupted the US if China and Japan had not propped us up for the sole purpose of dumping cheap crap on our shores. Wal-Mart is the primary gateway into an economic black hole from which there may be no escape --lower prices, chasing lower wages, chasing still lower prices. Everyone but the GOP's ever shrinking elite are impoverished. There must be a word for this skullduggery, this betrayal of the working men and women of the US who want merely to have a good job and educate the rug rats.

    Until Michael Moore decides to take on Wal-Mart, we have Robert Greenwald who does a great job exposing Wal-Mart on this video.

    And Jon Stewart has his take.

    Additional ResourcesDiscoveries

    Why Conservatives Hate America

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