Monday, 31 May 2010

Oil Leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Niger Delta: Double Standard World Racism

Oil Leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Niger Delta: Double Standard World Racism

By Franz J. T. Lee

We are on our way to post-apartheid South Africa, to enjoy the latest pan et circenses, the World Cup, but will the cup of the Niger Delta also pass us by, cross our way?

Once more we witness that racism is an integral element of international relations, an ideological reflex of the corporate imperialist world market. Again the class interests of millions of exploited and dominated African wage slaves who are vegetating in dire poverty simply do not figure in breaking news of the international mass media. Few people know that Africa, specifically Nigeria, is the number one supplier of excellent fine crude oil to the USA. Nigeria has over 600 oilfields which produce 40% of the total oil imports of Washington D.C. One would imagine that the White House would know what is happening in Black Africa, in the Niger Delta where the black gold freely flows; that this delta is the world capital of oil leaks, spills, multinational criminality and pollution of Mother Nature, of Africa.

The Guardian of 30th May, 2010 summarized the racist double standard as follows: "Nigeria's Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. The US and Europe Ignore It. ... In fact, [in the Niger Delta] more oil is spilled from the delta's network ...  than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico." 1)

As was the case of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, why are President Barack Obana and Shell not doing everything possible to halt this tragedy? Since decades why do the Nigerian leaders ignore this environmental catastrophe?
What are the United Nations, NEPAD and African Unity worth at all as far as Africa in oil agony is concerned? Why do United States Africom and USAID not aid the oil workers to clear up the disastrous corporate mess?

Are we still living in the epoch when Hegel stated that we should forget Africa, that she is outside history, when Voltaire and Montesquieu openly declared that black 'Negroes' cannot have a white soul and that they neither  serve for the use nor for the abuse of philosophy. The African 'pack animals', the modern 'speaking tools' in reality have no human rights, also nature has lost her rights to live. Work, labor, capital, consumption, wares, power and slavery are eliminating life on planet Earth, the oil leaks are just the beginning of the coming spills of all the nuclear, electromagnetic and extra low frequency weapons of mass destruction.

In the mirror of Africa, in the darkness of the oily mess, we can already see the black future of globalization.
1) See:


Sunday, 30 May 2010

Nigeria's Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. The US and Europe Ignore It - Guardian News 2010

Nigeria's Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. 

The US and Europe Ignore It

- Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

"In fact, [in the Niger Delta] more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP's Deepwater Horizon rig last month."

" With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations . Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution."

Published on Sunday, May 30, 2010 by The Observer/UK

Nigeria's Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. The US and Europe Ignore It

The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades

by John Vidal, environment editor
We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike through cassava plantations. Ahead of us lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garage forecourts and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.
[A ruptured pipeline burns in a Lagos suburb after an explosion in 2008 which killed at least 100 people. (Photograph: George Esiri/Reuters)]A ruptured pipeline burns in a Lagos suburb after an explosion in 2008 which killed at least 100 people. (Photograph: George Esiri/Reuters)
The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months. Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. "We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots," said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. "This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months."
That was the Niger delta a few years ago, where, according to Nigerian academics, writers and environment groups, oil companies have acted with such impunity and recklessness that much of the region has been devastated by leaks.
In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP's Deepwater Horizon rig last month.
That disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 rig workers, has made headlines round the world. By contrast, little information has emerged about the damage inflicted on the Niger delta. Yet the destruction there provides us with a far more accurate picture of the price we have to pay for drilling oil today.
On 1 May this year a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom spilled more than a million gallons into the delta over seven days before the leak was stopped. Local people demonstrated against the company but say they were attacked by security guards. Community leaders are now demanding $1bn in compensation for the illness and loss of livelihood they suffered. Few expect they will succeed. In the meantime, thick balls of tar are being washed up along the coast.
Within days of the Ibeno spill, thousands of barrels of oil were spilled when the nearby Shell Trans Niger pipeline was attacked by rebels. A few days after that, a large oil slick was found floating on Lake Adibawa in Bayelsa state and another in Ogoniland. "We are faced with incessant oil spills from rusty pipes, some of which are 40 years old," said Bonny Otavie, a Bayelsa MP.
This point was backed by Williams Mkpa, a community leader in Ibeno: "Oil companies do not value our life; they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable."
With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution.
"If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention," said the writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people. "This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta."
"The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily. The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the US I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards. What they do in the US or in Europe is very different."
"We see frantic efforts being made to stop the spill in the US," said Nnimo Bassey, Nigerian head of Friends of the Earth International. "But in Nigeria, oil companies largely ignore their spills, cover them up and destroy people's livelihood and environments. The Gulf spill can be seen as a metaphor for what is happening daily in the oilfields of Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
"This has gone on for 50 years in Nigeria. People depend completely on the environment for their drinking water and farming and fishing. They are amazed that the president of the US can be making speeches daily, because in Nigeria people there would not hear a whimper," he said.
It is impossible to know how much oil is spilled in the Niger delta each year because the companies and the government keep that secret. However, two major independent investigations over the past four years suggest that as much is spilled at sea, in the swamps and on land every year as has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico so far.
One report, compiled by WWF UK, the World Conservation Union and representatives from the Nigerian federal government and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, calculated in 2006 that up to 1.5m tons of oil – 50 times the pollution unleashed in the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Alaska – has been spilled in the delta over the past half century. Last year Amnesty calculated that the equivalent of at least 9m barrels of oil was spilled and accused the oil companies of a human rights outrage.
According to Nigerian federal government figures, there were more than 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and there are 2,000 official major spillages sites, many going back decades, with thousands of smaller ones still waiting to be cleared up. More than 1,000 spill cases have been filed against Shell alone.
Last month Shell admitted to spilling 14,000 tonnes of oil in 2009. The majority, said the company, was lost through two incidents – one in which the company claims that thieves damaged a wellhead at its Odidi field and another where militants bombed the Trans Escravos pipeline.
Shell, which works in partnership with the Nigerian government in the delta, says that 98% of all its oil spills are caused by vandalism, theft or sabotage by militants and only a minimal amount by deteriorating infrastructure. "We had 132 spills last year, as against 175 on average. Safety valves were vandalised; one pipe had 300 illegal taps. We found five explosive devices on one. Sometimes communities do not give us access to clean up the pollution because they can make more money from compensation," said a spokesman.
"We have a full-time oil spill response team. Last year we replaced 197 miles of pipeline and are using every known way to clean up pollution, including microbes. We are committed to cleaning up any spill as fast as possible as soon as and for whatever reason they occur."
These claims are hotly disputed by communities and environmental watchdog groups. They mostly blame the companies' vast network of rusting pipes and storage tanks, corroding pipelines, semi-derelict pumping stations and old wellheads, as well as tankers and vessels cleaning out tanks.
The scale of the pollution is mind-boggling. The government's national oil spill detection and response agency (Nosdra) says that between 1976 and 1996 alone, more than 2.4m barrels contaminated the environment. "Oil spills and the dumping of oil into waterways has been extensive, often poisoning drinking water and destroying vegetation. These incidents have become common due to the lack of laws and enforcement measures within the existing political regime," said a spokesman for Nosdra.
The sense of outrage is widespread. "There are more than 300 spills, major and minor, a year," said Bassey. "It happens all the year round. The whole environment is devastated. The latest revelations highlight the massive difference in the response to oil spills. In Nigeria, both companies and government have come to treat an extraordinary level of oil spills as the norm."
A spokesman for the Stakeholder Democracy Network in Lagos, which works to empower those in communities affected by the oil companies' activities, said: "The response to the spill in the United States should serve as a stiff reminder as to how far spill management in Nigeria has drifted from standards across the world."
Other voices of protest point out that the world has overlooked the scale of the environmental impact. Activist Ben Amunwa, of the London-based oil watch group Platform, said: "Deepwater Horizon may have exceed Exxon Valdez, but within a few years in Nigeria offshore spills from four locations dwarfed the scale of the Exxon Valdez disaster many times over. Estimates put spill volumes in the Niger delta among the worst on the planet, but they do not include the crude oil from waste water and gas flares. Companies such as Shell continue to avoid independent monitoring and keep key data secret."
Worse may be to come. One industry insider, who asked not to be named, said: "Major spills are likely to increase in the coming years as the industry strives to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond."
Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: "Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care."
There is an overwhelming sense that the big oil companies act as if they are beyond the law. Bassey said: "What we conclude from the Gulf of Mexico pollution incident is that the oil companies are out of control.
"It is clear that BP has been blocking progressive legislation, both in the US and here. In Nigeria, they have been living above the law. They are now clearly a danger to the planet. The dangers of this happening again and again are high. They must be taken to the international court of justice."
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Friday, 28 May 2010

Pakistan mosque attacks in Lahore kill dozens

Pakistan mosque attacks in Lahore kill dozens

Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Friday, 28 May 2010 14:49 UK

Eyewitness Nadeem Khalifa describes the scenes inside one of the mosques

Gunmen have attacked two mosques of the minority Ahmadi Islamic sect in the Pakistani city of Lahore, killing at least 70 people, officials say.

The death toll has been rising as rescuers pull bodies from the mosques, which were packed for Friday midday prayers at the time of the attacks.

Police are reported to have secured one of the buildings, while operations continue at the second.

Lahore has been the scene of a string of brazen militant attacks.

No-one has yet said they carried out the attacks but suspicion has fallen on the Pakistani Taliban, Ali Dayan Hassan of Human Rights Watch told the BBC.

Mr Hassan said the worshippers were "easy targets" for militant Sunni groups who consider the Ahmadis to be infidels.
'Indiscriminate' firing

It is unclear whether gunmen are still holding people hostage inside the mosque in the heavily built-up Garhi Shahu area, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool reports from Islamabad.
Continue reading the main story Rescuers remove a body from a mosque in Lahore, 28 May Eyewitness: Mosque attack

It appears that most of the worshippers have managed to get out, our correspondent says.

But officials say the toll at Garhi Shahu is likely to be higher because the attackers blew themselves up with suicide vests when police tried to enter the building.

Police said they had taken control of the other mosque in the nearby Model Town area after a two-hour gunfight.

One militant was killed and two others were arrested, police said.

A dozen ambulances have taken the dead and injured to hospitals.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC the gunmen launched simultaneous attacks on the two mosques.

A number of gunmen were reported to have opened fire indiscriminately in the Model Town mosque.
Continue reading the main story

    * A minority Islamic sect founded in 1889, Ahmadis believe their own founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet
    * This is anathema to most Muslims who believe the last prophet was Muhammad, who died in 632
    * Most Ahmadi followers live in the Indian subcontinent
    * Ahmadis have been the subject of sectarian attacks and persecution in Pakistan and elsewhere
    * In 1974 the Pakistani government declared the sect non-Muslim

Who are the Ahmadis?

They were said to be armed with AK-47 rifles, shotguns, grenades and possibly other explosive devices.

TV footage showed one attacker atop a minaret, firing an assault rifle and throwing grenades as police engaged in a fierce gunfight with militants below.

The attacks come after at least 45 people were killed in March when two suicide bombers attacked a crowded residential area.

Sectarian attacks have been carried out by various militant groups in Punjab province, and across Pakistan in the past.

While the Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim and follow all Islamic rituals, they were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan in 1973, and in 1984 they were legally barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims.

Members of the community have often been mobbed, or gunned down in targeted attacks, says the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad.

But this is the first time their places of worship have suffered daring and well-coordinated attacks that bear the mark of Taliban militants, our correspondent adds.

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Saturday, 22 May 2010

From Our Archives (1966) - Historic Documents of the anti-apartheid struggle

From  Our  Archives (1966)
Historic Documents of the anti-apartheid struggle
during the 1960s
Presented by Franz J. T. Lee

International Socialist Review, Summer 1966

The Alexander Defense Committee (ADC) Under Attack
By: Robert Langston

From International Socialist Review,
Vol.27 No.3, Summer 1966, pp.107-108.

Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The Alexander Defense Committee, an organization providing funds for legal defense and family relief to persecuted opponents of the racist South African regime, has been ordered by the US Justice Department to register as an “agent of a foreign principal” under the provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

Civil liberties attorney Stanley Faulkner, who has been retained as counsel, has advised the Committee to ignore the order, as the Act is not applicable to it, and he has so informed the Justice Department.

In a letter to President Johnson, A.D.C. officers Paul Houtelle, Robert H. Langston, Berta Green and Dave Dellinger requested that he order the Justice Department to stop this harassment. As Chief Executive, the President is responsible for the conduct of the Justice Department. The letter points out the A.D.C. is a purely American organization, having no “agency agreement” with anyone, which decides for itself what cases it will support on a basis of specific pleas for aid. The organization has no salaried personnel, and every cent collected above minimal operating expenses is sent to the victims of apartheid barbarism. In a speech Johnson made on May 26th at a White House reception commemorating the third anniversary of the Organization of African Unity, Johnson pledged the people and the government of the United States to the cause of the peoples of Africa in their efforts to win “freedom, equality, justice and dignity.” He expressed “repugnance” at “the outmoded policy which in some parts of Africa permits the few to rule at the expense of the many” and declared:

“Just as we are determined to remove the remnants of inequality from our own midst, we are also with you – heart and soul – as you try to do the same.” He further promised that “we shall continue to provide our full share of assistance to refugees from social and political oppression.”

Citing Johnson’s speech, the letter states that “we take the sentiment you expressed with utmost seriousness.” It then asks:

“But how can the people of Africa, or the people of America, believe that you do likewise when, at the very moment you were uttering these things, your Department of Justice was moving to harass an American organization devoted to translating into reality, in whatever limited way, these very principals.”

The letter recalls that a short time ago the Verwoerd government crushed Defense and Aid, the last organization operating openly in South Africa to provide legal aid to opponents of the regime, and affirms: “We trust you would not wish to imitate Verwoerd by suppressing our organization.”

The organization that the Justice Department is trying to stigmatize as a “foreign agent” was formed in February 1965 in response to the persecution of Dr. Neville Alexander and ten of his colleagues. Dr. Alexander is a young scholar who was the first non-white South African to receive a Humboldt scholarship for advanced study in West Germany. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree in German literature by the University of Tuebingen in 1962 and, refusing offers of academic posts in Europe and England, returned to South Africa to become a high-school teacher. The Eleven were arrested in July 1963 and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to ten years. In reality, they have been sentenced to indefinite terms, since under South African law, a prisoner can be held after having served his sentence as long as his further detention is deemed by the Minister of Justice to be in the “interest of public order.” Dr. Alexander and his friends were never accused of having committed, nor even having planned, any act of violence. The prosecution sought to show only that they had formed study groups to investigate possible ways of conducting the struggle against apartheid and had read and discussed Marxist literature and works on guerrilla warfare. Nor had any of the defendants a long political past. Although Dr. Alexander had been active at the University of Capetown in student groups affiliated to the Unity Movement of South Africa, his initiative in forming the study groups was his first act of political leadership. Dr. Alexander and the other male defendants have been in the notorious Robben Island concentration camp since 1963. Much of this time, Dr. Alexander was held in solitary ;onfinement, and he suffered a serious ear injury as a result of a beating administered by sadistic guards. This is the “foreign principal” whose “agent” the Justice Department alleges the A.D.C. to be.

It is useless to speculate on the easons for this attack on the Alexander Defense Committee. But that it is an attack is certain. For if the officers, yielding to the threat of five year prison sentences and fines of ten thousand dollars, should comply with the order to register, they would be legally bound to hand over to the Justice Department all records of the organization, including lists of contributors. This would make the raising of funds extraordinarily difficult.

The A.D.C. therefore cannot comply with the Justice Department order. Under no circumstances would the Committee commit the perjury that such compliance would necessarily involve. Nor would it breach the trust of its contributors. And the A.D.C. will certainly win a court battle if the Justice Department pursues this matter further.

However a long legal struggle would interfere seriously with the work of the committee. It would force it to divert energy and, worse than that, funds, from its proper work to the task of simple self-preservation.

Although no further legal steps are possible in the Alexander case, the families of the Alexander Eleven must be supported, as they were left destitute by the imprisonment of their breadwinners. The case itself must continue to be publicized as widely as possible. There are some 3,500 prisoners in South Africa who have been convicted of political offenses; and there are an incalculable number of others who are being held in police stations throughout the “Native Reserves” under Proclamation 400, which allows any policeman in the Reserves to arrest any African at any time and to hold him indefinitely, incommunicado, without charges.
Need for Defense

These victims are mostly very poor, and without help from abroad their families will, quite simply, starve. There is a continuous stream of political exiles from South Africa who need financial aid in relocating. And there are thousands still active in the liberation struggle inside South Africa who may yet be arrested and tried for their activities. They will need funds for legal defense, and these funds must come from outside, since anyone within South Africa who solicits money for the defense in political cases makes himself liable to prosecution under the Suppression of Communism Act.

Typical of those who are being aided by the A.D.C. are the following whose cases are sketched here briefly:

        * P. Gcabashe. Mr. Gcabashe is a sixty-year-old former teacher who, shortly before he was due to retire, gave up his teaching position, and thereby also his claim to a pension, to become a full time organizer for the Unity Movement among the peasants in northern Natal Province.

          In December, 1964, Mr. Gcabashe was seized by the political police. Frantic appeals by his wife to be informed of his whereabouts were unanswered. Finally, in a letter which he was able to smuggle out, it was learned that he was being held in a jail in Pondoland under Proclamation 400. So far as is known, Mr. Gcabashe is still in prison. It is unlikely that he will ever be tried in a regular court of law where a legal defense would be possible. His family lacks any form of support.
        * Leo Sihlali and Louis Mtshizana. Mr. Sihlali is a teacher who was fired and black-listed for his leadership in opposition to the “Bantu Education” scheme, whereby the South African regime hopes to fragment the African community through re-tribalization. Mr. Mtshizana is a lawyer who has defended hundreds of persons accused of political offenses. Over the years, they have been subjected to relentless persecution. After Mr. Sihlali was fired from his teaching post, he was hounded from town to town, everywhere refused a residence permit and always prevented by the police from finding a job. Mr. Mtshizana has been framed on a weapons possession charge, although he was finally acquitted. He has been convicted of “seeking to defeat the ends of justice” for advising some school boys charged under the Suppression of Communism Act of their constitutional right to refuse to testify against themselves.

          In July, 1963, Mr. Mtshizana was banned for five years. Mr. Sihlali was served with similar banning orders in March, 1964 and, in addition, was placed under house arrest. In April, 1964, both men were convicted of violating the Suppression of Communism Act and of seeking to leave South Africa without valid documents. Both are now in the Robben Island concentration camp. The families of both victims need help urgently. Mr. Sihlali is the father of four children, and Mr. Mtshizana of three. Mrs. Sihlali was subjected to bitter persecution after Mr. Sihlali’s conviction, and her friends have recently lost all contact with her.

New Tour Planned

In order to raise funds to aid such victims, the Alexander Defense Committee seeks to awaken the American people to the realities of the South African situation. In 1965, the A.D.C. brought I.B. Tabata to the United States for a national lecture tour. Mr. Tabata, who is now in exile in Zambia, is one of the most prominent of the South African liberation leaders and is currently president of the Unity Movement of South Africa and of the African Peoples Democratic Union of Southern Africa.

The Committee has invited Mr. Franz J.T. Lee to come to the United States for a similar tour during the late summer and early fall of this year.  ...  Franz Lee who is a close personal friend of Neville Alexander, is secretary of the German Alexander Defense Committee and European representative of the African Peoples Democratic Union of Southern Africa. He has written extensively and lectured throughout Europe on South African affairs.

Funds are urgently needed to carry on the work of the committee and to counter the attack on it by the Justice Department. All queries and contributions should be addressed to the Alexander Defense Committee, 873 Broadway 2nd Floor South, New York, N.Y. 10003.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Pandemonium Documents concerning Marxist Materialist Philosophy - By Franz J. T. Lee

Pandemonium Documents concerning Marxist Materialist Philosophy

Introductory Comments
The archive below shows that we always oscillate between act and thought, between Science and Philosophy. The Essays to which the international comrades are referring to are study manuscripts, heavily leaning on the Principle of Hope of my Marxist teacher Ernst Bloch. Not only our political analysis and works are welcome internationally, also our ideas, thoughts, theories and philosophy are inspiring socialists and Marxists across the globe. The references below witness the seriousness of our scientific, philosophic praxis-theory. Our readers and students could click on the respective links and enjoy our essays.
Per aspera ad astra!

[OPE] Philosophical Essays on Materialism and Marxism

From: gerald_levy1973 (

Date: Tue Apr 08 2008 - 16:54:19 EDT

via Ralph Dumain's marxistphilosophy group

[OPE] Philoso

Philosophical Essays on Materialism and Marxism
By Prof. Dr. Franz J. T. Lee,
Department of Post-Graduate Studies,
Faculty of Juridical & Political Sciences,
University of the Andes,
M�rida, Venezuela.

A. The Origins of Greek Materialism: From the Sixth to the Fifth 
Century B.C.

1. Materialist Origin
2.  The Age of the �Seven Wise Men"
3. Concerning Bias
4. Concerning Thales
5. Concerning Anaximander (about 610 to 547 B.C.), also of Miletius
6. Heracleitus and Parmenides

[OPE] Philoso

B. Materialism in Greek Philosophy: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
 Hýle" or �Arché- Search for the Primordial Substance
  Socrates (probably lives from 469-399 B.C)
  Plato (427 - 347 B.C.) � 
  Eros and Idea 
(384-322 B.C.) � 
  Not Yet Accomplished Enteleche�a

[OPE] Philoso

C. The Concept Matter
 History and the Contents of the Concept Matter: From Greek 
Antiquity  to the Renaissance
 Not Always the Same
 Searching for the Arché, the Principium
  The First Philosophers � The Milesians
  Thales (ca. 624 - 546 B.C.)
  Anaximander (611/10 - 547/46 B.C.)
  Anaximenes (dates uncertain, flourished before 494 B.C.)
 Heracleitus - Fire - Becoming
 Parmenides and Xenophanes � World Sphere, One - Immobility
 Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus
  The Sophists  - The Wandering Educators
  Plato - Aristotle: Matter is Indefinite and Fermenting Definite
  Epicurus, Stoics, Plotin
  The Stoics � No Accident, No Chance, Only �Advice of Zeus"
   Plotin - Changing the Platonic �not�Being", Matter, to Evil
  Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) - Original Light (Urlicht)
   Giovanni Pico de la Mirandola (1463-1494)
  Telesio (1508-1588)
  Patrizzi (1529-1597)
   Pomponazzi (1462-1525)

D. Marx and Engels: From Idealism to Materialism
   Karl Marx, Childhood and Youth
   Student Years in Bonn and Berlin
   Marx's Letter to His Father of November 10/11, 1837
   Marx and the Young Hegelians in Berlin
   Marx's Doctoral Dissertation, 1839-1841
   Marx and Feuerbach
   Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law, Study of History, 1843-1844
   The �Deutsch-Franz�sische Jahrb�cher" - Friendship With Friedrich

F. The Materialist View of History
   The Holy Family, November, 1844
   The German Ideology, 1845-1846

G. Charles Darwin and Karl Marx: A Critical Appraisal

H. Wisdom, Philosophy and the Proletariat

I. Ideology and Revolutionary Theory-Praxis

1. General

2. Historical

   Ideology Before Marx

4. Scientific Socialist Concept of �Ideology" (Marx)

(To be continued soon)

This archive was generated by

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak - By James Quinn in Louisana - (Commentary by Franz J. T. Lee: ... joining the dinosaurs soon?!

Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak - By James Quinn in Louisana - 
(Commentary by Franz J. T. Lee: ... joining the dinosaurs soon?! 

What is really happening in the Gulf of Mexico? Another 'Pearl Harbor' or '9/11' 'Twin Tower' Big Hoax?
When shall we ever learn?
When all the flowers are gone!
Something really dangerous is cooking very near to us.

When President Barack Obama entered the White House we warned that the other 'Democratic' Janus-face of the post-Orwellian Monster was already showing its cunning grin, its world fascist grimace. It is not the appearance form, it is not Obama in flesh and bones, or the 'Empire', it is a Herrenvolk, capable of any crime against humanity, against Mother Earth, the global, elitist, military and industrial corporate class in destructive frenzy. This international mafia is capable of anything, in order that a Big War means Big Business and that Big Business can only be achieved with a Global War.
The truth about the real world economy, about the critical political situation and about the raging military global war, we will not read in the mass media.
We will just wake up one morning, still dreaming about the Soviet Union or the Twin Towers, only to discover that somewhere somebody has dropped a nice 'humanist' bomb on some innocent people: this could occur anywhere, who knows, in North Korea, in Cuba, in Venezuela, in Iran? 

Beware, very strange things are happening; the next big military hoax is being designed at top speed, and we may swallow it again: with 'gusano', bait, hook, sinker and oiled shark all in one.

This time the victims may be uncountable.

Who sows the whirlwind, by playing his HAARP and painting his strontium  CHEMTRAILS, will reap radio-active Gulf storms, will join the dinosaurs!
Franz J. T. Lee. )


For further information, see:

More information:, see:

Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the Loop Current

19 May 2010

Scientists monitoring the US oil spill with ESA’s Envisat radar satellite say that it has entered the Loop Current, a powerful conveyor belt that flows clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida.

"With these images from space, we have visible proof that at least oil from the surface of the water has reached the current," said Dr Bertrand Chapron of Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea.

Dr Chapron and Dr Fabrice Collard of France's CLS have been combining surface roughness and current flow information with Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) data of the area to monitor the proximity of the oil to the current.

In the ASAR image above, acquired on 18 May, a long tendril of the oil spill (outlined in white) extends down into the Loop Current (red arrow). 
ASAR image for 15 May
"We performed advanced processing methods on the images to display surface features like variations in roughness and velocity, which provides insight into the spatial structure of the spill and its transport by surface currents," Dr Collard explained.

From the ASAR images of 12 May and 15 May, the oil spill was observed stretching increasingly closer to the Loop Current, raising concerns that it could reach the current and be carried south towards coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

"Now that oil has entered the Loop Current, it is likely to reach Florida within six days," Dr Chapron said. "Since Envisat ASAR, ERS-2 and other SAR satellites are systematically planned to acquire data over the area, we will monitor the situation continuously."

ASAR image for 12 May
The scientists warn however that since the Loop Current is a very intense, deep ocean current, its turbulent waters will accelerate the mixing of the oil and water in the coming days.

"This might remove the oil film on the surface and prevent us from tracking it with satellites, but the pollution is likely to affect the coral reef marine ecosystem," Dr Collard said.

Combined efforts using satellite imagery and in-situ measurements of collected water samples will help to assess whether oil is in the deep waters of the ocean.

The Loop Current joins the Gulf Stream — the northern hemisphere’s most important ocean-current system — sparking fears that oil could enter this system and be carried up to the US East Coast.
Copyright 2000 - 2010 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.

For further information, see below:

Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak - The US has sent a team of nuclear physicists to help BP plug the "catastrophic" flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from its leaking Deepwater Horizon well, as the Obama administration becomes frustrated with the oil giant's inability to control the situation.

By James Quinn in Louisana
Published: 7:57PM BST 14 May 2010

Ryan Gressett, left, and Todd Schilla, right, pilot a remotely operated vehicle as a small pollution containment chamber, known as the
Ryan Gressett, left, and Todd Schilla, right, pilot a remotely operated vehicle as a small pollution containment chamber, known as the "top hat," into the Gulf of Mexico by the motor vessel Viking Poseidon. The chamber will be used in an attempt to contain an oil leak that was caused by the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon explosion. Photo: AP
Barack Obama has sent five nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak. Mr Obama, standing with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, center, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, left, delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington following his closed meeting with his Cabinet and other senior administration officials on the ongoing effort to stop the BP oil spill.
Barack Obama has sent five nuclear experts to tackle BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak. Photo: AP

The five-man team – which includes a man who helped develop the first hydrogen bomb in the 1950s – is the brainchild of Steven Chu, President Obama's Energy Secretary.

He has charged the men with finding solutions to stop the flow of oil.

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President Obama yesterday promised a "relentless" effort to resolve the problem as he criticised the "cozy relationship" BP and other oil companies have with US regulators in Washington.

He also denounced the attempts by executives from BP, Transocean and Haliburtion to blame each other during this week's congressional hearings into the rig disaster. "I will not tolerate more finger pointing or irresponsibility." Mr Obama said.

The five scientists visited BP's main crisis centre in Houston earlier this week, along with Mr Chu, and are to continue to work with the company's scientists and external advisers to reach an answer.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hayward said the five-hour meeting involved a "very deep dive" into the situation at hand, with "lots of nuclear physicists and all sorts of people coming up with some quite good ideas actually."

Pressed further about the meeting, he said they had "come up with one good idea" but declined to elaborate.

The five include 82-year-old Richard Garwin, who designed the first hydrogen bomb, and Tom Hunter, head of the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Labs.

In addition, Mr Chu has already despatched Marcia McNutt, the head of the US Geological Service, to the oil company.

Mr Hayward is understood to be feeling the weight of increased pressure from Washington, following Mr Chu and Interior Secterary Ken Salazar's visit earlier this week and a series of testy Congressional hearings.

In an memo to BP staff, Mr Hayward wrote that reports of the hearings had made for "difficult viewing or reading".

He has told a number of his senior team they must stay with him in Houston until the problem is resolved, and was seen in Louisiana meeting with Robert Dudley, executive vice-president of BP's operations in the Americas.

President Obama accused BP and its contractors of "falling over each other to point the finger of blame at someone else," while adding "the potential devastation to the Gulf Coast, its economy and its people require us to continue our relentless efforts to stop the leak."

Thad Allen, a Coast Guard commandant, said that the slick "has the potential to be catastrophic."

BP was last night trying to position a "top hat" containment device – intended to slow the flow of oil – while still working on its final "top-kill" solution which involves filling the well with old golf balls and pieces of car tyre, followed by mud and then cement, in an attempt to absorb and then stop the flow. 

Monday, 17 May 2010

Heavy-handed intervention exacerbates Venezuela's economic woes
Financial Times (Benedict Mander): Across Latin America, governments are fretting about appreciating currencies as a result of strong capital inflows. In Venezuela, the problem is quite the opposite: President Hugo Chavez' tub-thumping socialist rhetoric and heavy-handed intervention in the economy is causing capital flight to continue apace.
Published: Thursday, May 13, 2010
Bylined to: Benedict Mander
So despite a major devaluation in January, the floating or "parallel" rate of the bolivar has steadily depreciated since. It has reached all-time lows in recent days -- 8.2 bolivars to the dollar today compares to around 6 at the time of the devaluation of the official rate in January.
This is bad news for inflation: in April the monthly rate jumped to an impressive 5.2%. So the national assembly wants to tighten Venezuela's exchange controls (in place since 2003) to quash currency "speculation" and beef up state supervision and regulation.
If you want dollars in Venezuela, the parallel exchange market is the place to go -- that's assuming you're not lucky enough to get subsidised dollars at the official exchange rates of either 2.6 or 4.3 bolivars (in theory for "essential" and "non-essential" imports, respectively).
But now bond traders in that market may have to get approval from the central bank; brokerages could be banned from bond trading altogether. That's only going to make getting hold of dollars -- not just for the average citizen, but also importers, of which there are an awful lot in Venezuela -- even more difficult and expensive.
The government's plan to put a brake on capital outflows and prop up the exchange rate has many people warning this is hardly the way to go about it. As Patrick Esteruelas at Eurasia Group explains, the plan is "ill-conceived":
The government's latest efforts to stem the depreciation of the bolivar through tighter regulations and controls are likely to backfire and force it to consider other options, opening the door to a dollar bond sale later in the second half of the year. The government has been effectively boxed in by its economic policy mix and does not have many options at its disposal. Any efforts to restrict the parallel foreign exchange market are likely to be completely wasted and will only serve to move these operations deeper underground as Venezuelans continue to demand large quantities of dollars in the face of a deteriorating economic outlook, galloping inflation and negative real interest rates, and resort to the unregulated market to circumvent stifling foreign exchange controls. What's more, any additional regulations could end up causing additional damage to the economy by disrupting import financing in Venezuela's import-dependent economy, creating serious potential shortages and further undermining growth.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Edwin Valero murder investigation begins ... his body has been exhumed

Edwin Valero murder investigation begins ... his body has been exhumed
Bylined to: Jhonny Gonzalez
Boxing Scene (Jhonny Gonzalez): 

The murder investigation of Edwin Valero has begun in Caracas, Venezuela. The family of Valero requested the exhumation of his body because they suspect the fighter may not have committed suicide and was strangled to death by police officers. Prosecutor Jesus Belucchi told the press a forensic investigation to determine Valero's death will take place.

Valero was arrested on April 18 for the murder of his wife, Jennifer Carolina, in a hotel located in the city of Valencia. Valero took his own life the following morning in a jail cell in Carabobo. The head of the CICPC (Office of Scientific, Penal & Criminal Investigations), Wilmer Flores, told the press Valero hung himself using his pants.

Valero's wife was found dead in a hotel room in Valencia with three stab wounds. Valero made a confession to the murder shortly after it happened. He was taken, without incident, to a police station in Carabobo but during his interview with police officers he claimed to have passed out from a combination of drugs and alcohol and woke up to his wife in a pool of blood. He said there were thugs following him and his wife earlier that night.

No murder weapon has been recovered and police are not exactly sure as to how the wife was killed.

There are lingering questions from Valero's family and hundreds of fans in Venezuela, about the lack of prison guards on duty when Valero committed suicide and how nobody knew he was hanging in his cell until other prisoners alerted the guards.

Valero still had vital signs when he was cut down but he died shortly after.

Relations with Venezuela Disputed in Colombian Presidential Campaigns and OAS - By: James Suggett

Relations with Venezuela Disputed in Colombian Presidential Campaigns and OAS

By James Suggett -

    * Colombia-Venezuela Relations

Mérida, May 14th 2010 ( - Colombia’s tense relations with Venezuela have been a hot-button issue in Colombia’s presidential race. This week, a dispute occurred in the Organization of American States (OAS), with Colombia accusing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of “intervention,” and Venezuela responding that it is being pulled onto the Colombian campaign trail against its will.

Chavez recently referred to Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos, the former defense minister who resigned last August, as a “military threat to the region.”

The comment alluded to Colombia’s March 2008 bombing of a guerrilla camp in Ecuador, and its October 2009 military accord that allowed the U.S. to increase its troop presence and spy operations in the region from seven Colombian bases. Venezuela responded by severing diplomatic ties.

Chavez expressed his desire to “turn the page” and restore diplomatic relations with Colombia, but said this will be “very difficult, exceedingly difficult” and that bilateral commerce may be severed if Santos is elected.

During an OAS conference in Washington, D.C., Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez expressed the Colombian government’s “indignation in the face of any intervention in our affairs,” and accused Venezuela of impeding the process of regional integration.

Later, OAS General Secretary Miguel Insulza commented, “When officials in one country talk about the elections in another country it is not a good practice... I don’t call that intervention, but it is a bad practice.”

Venezuela’s ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, rejected the critiques. “Venezuela rejects these attempts to artificially drag it into the Colombian electoral competition and expresses its greatest respect for the decision that the Colombian people make in the elections on May 30,” he said.

Chaderton also criticized Insulza for speaking on matters that “are not of his concern,” and noted the “coincidence” between Insulza’s comments and those of the corporate, right-wing media in Colombia.

Chavez said he had the right to comment on the Colombian election, since the candidates had commented about Venezuela. “Some candidates in Colombia have based their campaigns on me. They should not meddle with me, and if they do, I have the right to respond to them,” he said.

Chavez also clarified his position on the Colombian election. “Be it from the left or the right, I do not have a preference for either of them,” he said. “The one the Colombian people choose should win.”

In recent weeks the Colombian press has grilled both leading presidential candidates on relations with Venezuela.

Former Bogotá Mayor Antanas Mockus, the opposition candidate from the liberal Green Party, said he would pursue “good relations” with Venezuela and “recognize and deepen interdependencies,” but did not specify whether he supports Chavez’s anti-imperialism or his push toward 21st Century Socialism.

Both Santos and Mockus disapproved of Chavez’s comments on the Colombian election, but Mockus doubted that the impact of Chavez’s comments would be significant.

“I share with the general secretary of the OAS the perception that the impact is not very great,” Mockus said. “However, the intervention bothers me and annoys all Colombians. I think that Venezuelans would not like it if the president of Colombia or of another neighboring country, like President Lula [of Brazil] were to start to intervene, to try to veto one of the candidates,” he said.

In early May, Santos said he is willing to “dialogue” with Venezuela, and said he will “never fire on Venezuela and Ecuador,” an apparent attempt to soften the fact that he ordered the March 2008 bombing in Ecuador and later accused Venezuela of financing the rebels.

The Ecuadoran Attorney General’s Office announced in April that it will pursue Santos’s extradition after a district judge issued an arrest warrant for Santos on the grounds that he ordered the bombing.


Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Truth About the Big Banks' Unprecedented Lobbying Avalanche - By Kevin Connor, AlterNet

The Truth About the Big Banks' Unprecedented Lobbying Avalanche

- By Kevin Connor, AlterNet

In any other country in the world this would be labelled as "organized corruption" however, in America it is simply called "lobbying" in 'God's greatest land of democracy' where 'opportunities exits' for anyone who wants "to make it." No matter, what means you use.    

The Truth About the Big Banks' Unprecedented Lobbying Avalanche

By Kevin Connor, AlterNet
Posted on May 13, 2010, Printed on May 15, 2010
Over the course of the financial reform process, the six biggest banks and their murky trade associations have waged an historic assault on democracy, hiring hundreds of revolving door lobbyists and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to push their legislative agenda. I've detailed this all in a comprehensive report for Campaign for America's Future and SEIU, which you ought read because it shows the extent to which these too-big-to-fail bank behemoths own Congress.
The report details how the Big Six banks hired 243 lobbyists who once worked in the federal government, including 202 who used to work in Congress, as well as others who worked at the Treasury, the White House, or a relevant federal agency like the SEC. This is at best a conflict of interest, and at worst, a takeover of all checks-and-balances on the financial industry.
All of this translates into an average of 40 revolving door lobbyists per big bank.

Previous studies, including one by Public Citizen, have shown that the finance industry is spending $1 million dollars a day to fight financial reform and employing 940 former federal government employees. “Big Bank Takeover” shows that the six biggest banks -- JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo -- account for a disproportionate share of this activity.
The revolving door lobbyist number includes 54 former staffers to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services committee (or a current member of that committee), 33 former chiefs of staff, and 28 former legislative directors. Citigroup leads the big banks with 55 revolving door lobbyists, though the federal government was its largest shareholder for much of this period (2009-2010).
These lobbyists left their old jobs for a simple reason: there is a fortune to be made working the halls of Congress on behalf of too-big-to-fail banks. Steve Bartlett, a former member of the House Banking Committee (now the Financial Services Committee), brought home $1.6 million in 2008 as head of the Financial Services Roundtable. SIFMA, another lobby, paid its top official, Timothy Ryan, $2 million in 2008. Ryan is a former JPMorgan executive and former director of the Office of Thrift Supervision.
SIFMA recently hired former Representative Ken Bentsen as head of its DC lobbying operation. Bentsen keeps a framed photograph of a landmark deregulatory bill, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, on the desk of his office, and for good reason: that bill helped spur the growth of megabanks like Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America that fund SIFMA and pay his salary.
Bentsen was on the other side of the revolving door when that bill was passed, in 1999 — as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. He has a lot of company in that respect: Big Bank Takeover shows that many of these lobbyists worked in government during the 1990s when the too-big-to-fail banking sector got a big boost from bipartisan efforts to deregulate the financial sector.
Former House minority leader Dick Gephardt and Senate majority leader Trent Lott have a combined 16 former staffers who are now working for big banks, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Lott and Gephardt are also lobbying for the banks.
Senator Chris Dodd leads current members of Congress with five former staffers now working as big bank lobbyists. One big bank lobbying firm, Porterfield, Lowenthal & Fettig has ties to the Banking committee chair, Chris Dodd, the ranking member, Richard Shelby, and Dodd’s rumored successor as chair, Tim Johnson.
Big money buys this kind of mercenary army. Between campaign contributions, lobbying spending, and trade association activity at SIFMA, the ABA, and elsewhere, the big banks and their main lobbies have spent close to $600 million since the first major federal bailout of the financial sector happened with Bear Stearns in March 2008.
Of course, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $160 billion these banks have received from the US Treasury, and the trillions in free money they’ve received from the Federal Reserve. But these investments are more than enough to buy their way in Washington. (Spending millions on lobbying scores you billions in bailouts, see?)
And Wall Street’s lobbying operation is actually much more concentrated than the healthcare lobby. For the healthcare lobby, put together a similar list of revolving door lobbyists and we found over 500 healthcare lobbyists who used to be Congressional staffers. But that was for literally hundreds of companies in the healthcare sector.
The 240 we came up with this time around primarily work for the Big Six banks.
These big bank lobbyists want to operate in the shadows. The banks are hiding much of their lobbying activity in a stealth lobby of generic business associations like the Chamber of Commerce. The report points to several instances of how banks are routing their political spending through these organizations, but there are likely many more examples.
In 2008, economist Nouriel Roubini popularized the term “shadow banking system” to describe the non-bank financial institutions that eventually helped spur the collapse of the financial system: highly-leveraged hedge funds, investment banks, and the like. "Shadow banks" are financial firms that act like banks, but evade bank regulations. Meanwhile, a "shadow bank lobby" are lobbyists who go to bat for bankers' interests, but aren't directly hired by banks.
These days, a shadow bank lobby has played a prominent role in shaping the financial reform process, pushing amendments that will weaken consumer protections, water down regulation of the Wall Street casino, and increase the likelihood of continuing fraud and future bailouts. I discuss this shadow bank lobby in the report.

Just as the shadow banking system threatens the integrity of financial markets, the shadow bank lobby threatens the integrity of the financial reform process). Both are designed to help Wall Street avoid oversight and accountability for its actions.
Two of the principal players in the shadow bank lobby are large business associations: the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable. As Big Bank Takeover details, each institution has morphed into an aggressive financial industry lobby over the bailout period of the past two years. During the bailout period of the past two years, as Wall Street influence has come to be seen as toxic, big banks appear to have directed significant portions of their political budget to these institutions, rather than hiring more lobbyists to lobby directly on their behalf.
Last year, the Chamber, the Business Roundtable, and several other groups partnered to set up the Coalition for Derivatives End Users. The group is supposed to be representing businesses that use derivatives to hedge against risk. But yesterday, a hedge fund manager working with Americans for Financial Reform called on businesses to leave the “sham coalition,” which he said was a creation of the big banks:
“Today, there is no legitimate reason that non-financial businesses should be lobbying to weaken legislation that would prevent the next AIG collapse and taxpayer bailout,” said hedge fund manager Michael Masters. “The only explanation is that these companies are being duped by the big banks, who are desperate to escape accountability for the reckless gambling that crashed the economy and know they are not politically popular these days. It’s time for these companies to wake up to the fact they are being used.
The Coalition claims that it hasn’t coordinated with the big banks, but a closer look at the team of financial reform lobbyists working for the Business Roundtable and the Chamber reveals some evidence that it was created as a front group to push Wall Street’s policy agenda.
There was only one lobbying firm working for both the Chamber and the Business Roundtable on financial reform issues during 2009: Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart, a firm with rich connections to centrist Democrats. Peck, Madigan has lobbied for each Coalition parent around derivatives reform. At the same time, the firm has also lobbied for Deutsche Bank and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association — in other words, for big banks with a healthy appetite for derivatives trading.
Since derivatives lobbyists for the Chamber and the Business Roundtable have so much in common with big bank lobbyists — in fact, they’re the same people — it’s not a giant leap to suspect that this “derivatives end-users” coalition has actually just been set up by big bank executives who are afraid of their own toxicity.
Then there’s the fact that Bill Daley, JPMorgan’s in-house Democratic rainmaker, was a recent chair of the Chamber’s Center on Capital Markets Competitiveness, a big bank-driven effort to shape the financial reform debate. Peck Madigan also lobbied for that group. ThinkProgress has also exposed how the Chamber is working with big banks to kill reform. And JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is on the board of the Business Roundtable, which has hired a number of Goldman Sachs lobbyists.
Unfortunately, the shadow bank lobby is a force to be reckoned with, and has won substantial victories for big banks throughout the financial reform process. In December, for instance, Representative Melissa Bean forced a negotiation with House leadership over federal preemption language in the financial reform bill. Bean succeeded in winning a major concession for the big banks, behind closed doors.
Bean was taking her cues from the shadow bank lobby. Her former chief of staff, John Michael Gonzalez, went through the revolving door in 2009 to become a bank lobbyist. Gonzalez works at the Chamber’s favorite lobbying firm on financial reform issues: Peck, Madigan. Here’s one issue his team was lobbying around on behalf of the Chamber, according to a recent disclosure filing:
H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; Preemption provisions; Rep. Bean preemption amendment. (emphasis mine)
(While levels of disclosure are typically woefully lacking in lobbying disclosure filings — and Peck, Madigan has had issues in this area surrounding its work for the Chamber — I applaud the firm for their unusual openness here.)
These days, Democratic Senator Tom Carper is the new Melissa Bean. He is sponsoring a preemption amendment that will keep states from being able to implement stronger consumer protections than the federal government. The amendment is clearly big bank-driven. But why Carper? Plenty of other Senators could have gone to bat for the big banks on this issue.
The answer is once again found in the revolving door data we compiled for Big Bank Takeover: Carper’s former chief of staff, Jonathon Jones, is a partner at Peck, Madigan — the same firm that lobbied for the Bean preemption amendment, and the same firm where John Michael Gonzalez, Bean’s ex-chief of staff, now works. Carper and Jones are extremely close, to the point where the Senator has “gushed” to Politico about how much he likes his former chief of staff.
This is how the seeds of financial destruction are sown: with real people leveraging real relationships to win major policy concessions for big banks.
If final negotiations around financial reform happen behind closed doors, as they did when Bean won her preemption fight with House leadership in December, the big bank lobby and its army of well-connected insiders will continue to win on the Hill. Today’s Congress will once again facilitate reckless gambling and predatory behavior by too-big-to-fail banks.
Transparency and openness are the only antidote to a big bank lobby that prefers to operate in the shadows; will Congressional leaders embrace these principles, and negotiate the final elements of the bill out in the open?
Next: (I’ll have more on the big banks and their influence army throughout the week. In the meantime, all this data also exists in an open format at, so if you’d like to take a closer look you can check it out there. Special thanks to Priscilla for helping compile it, as well as Matthew, co-founder of was also an invaluable resource in putting it together.)
Kevin Connor is a co-founder of, an involuntary facebook for powerful Americans. He is also co-director of the Public Accountability Initiative.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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America's Ten Most Corrupt Capitalists

By Zach Carter, AlterNet
Posted on May 13, 2010, Printed on May 15, 2010
The financial crisis has unveiled a new set of public villains—corrupt corporate capitalists who leveraged their connections in government for their own personal profit. During the Clinton and Bush administrations, many of these schemers were worshiped as geniuses, heroes or icons of American progress. But today we know these opportunists for what they are: Deregulatory hacks hellbent on making a profit at any cost. Without further ado, here are the 10 most corrupt capitalists in the U.S. economy.
1. Robert Rubin
Where to start with a man like Robert Rubin? A Goldman Sachs chairman who wormed his way into the Treasury Secretary post under President Bill Clinton, Rubin presided over one of the most radical deregulatory eras in the history of finance. Rubin's influence within the Democratic Party marked the final stage in the Democrats' transformation from the concerned citizens who fought Wall Street and won during the 1930s to a coalition of Republican-lite financial elites.
Rubin's most stunning deregulatory accomplishment in office was also his greatest act of corruption. Rubin helped repeal Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that banned economically essential banks from gambling with taxpayer money in the securities markets. In 1998, Citibank inked a merger with the Travelers Insurance group. The deal was illegal under Glass-Steagall, but with Rubin's help, the law was repealed in 1999, and the Citi-Travelers merger approved, creating too-big-to-fail behemoth Citigroup.
That same year, Rubin left the government to work for Citi, where he made $120 million as the company piled up risk after crazy risk. In 2008, the company collapsed spectacularly, necessitating a $45 billion direct government bailout, and hundreds of billions more in other government guarantees. Rubin is now attempting to rebuild his disgraced public image by warning about the dangers of government spending and Social Security. Bob, if you're worried about the deficit, the problem isn't old people trying to get by, it's corrupt bankers running amok.
2. Alan Greenspan
The officially apolitical, independent Federal Reserve chairman backed all of Rubin's favorite deregulatory plans, and helped crush an effort by Brooksley Born to regulate derivatives in 1998, after the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management went bust. By the time Greenspan left office in 2006, the derivatives market had ballooned into a multi-trillion dollar casino, and Greenspan wanted his cut. He took a job with bond kings PIMCO and then with the hedge fund Paulson & Co.—yeah, that Paulson and Co., the one that colluded with Goldman Sachs to sabotage the company's own clients with unregulated derivatives.
Incidentally, this isn't the first time Greenspan has been a close associate of alleged fraudsters. Back in the 1980s, Greenspan went to bat for politically connected Savings & Loan titan Charles Keating, urging regulators to exempt his bank from a key rule. Keating later went to jail for fraud, after, among other things, putting out a hit on regulator William Black. ("Get Black – kill him dead.") Nice friends you've got, Alan.
3. Larry Summers
During the 1990s, Larry Summers was a top Treasury official tasked with overseeing the economic rehabilitation of Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. This project, was, of course, a complete disaster that resulted in decades of horrific poverty. But that didn't stop top advisers to the program, notably Harvard economist Andrei Shleifer, from getting massively rich by investing his own money in Russian projects while advising both the Treasury and the Russian government. This is called "fraud," and a federal judge slapped both Shleifer and Harvard itself with hefty fines for their looting of the Russian economy. But somehow, after defrauding two governments while working for Summers, Shleifer managed to keep his job at Harvard, even after courts ruled against him.
That's because after the Clinton administration, Summers became president of Harvard, where he protected Shleifer. This wasn't the only crazy thing Summers did at Harvard—he also ran the school like a giant hedge fund, which went very well until markets crashed in 2008. By then, of course, Summers had left Harvard for a real hedge fund, D.E. Shaw, where he raked in $5.2 million working part-time. The next year, he joined the the Obama administration as the president's top economic adviser. Interestingly, the Wall Street reform bill currently circulating through Congress essentially leaves hedge funds untouched.
4. Phil and Wendy Gramm
Summers, Rubin and Greenspan weren't the only people who thought it was a good idea to let banks gamble in the derivatives casinos. In 2000, Republican Senator from Texas Phil Gramm pushed through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which not only banned federal regulation of these toxic poker chips, it also banned states from enforcing anti-gambling laws against derivatives trading. The bill was lobbied for heavily by energy/finance hybrid Enron, which would later implode under fraudulent derivatives trades. In 2000, when Phil Gramm pushed the bill through, his wife Wendy Gramm was serving on Enron's board of directors, where she made millions before the company went belly-up.
When Phil Gramm left the Senate, he took a job peddling political influence at Swiss banking giant UBS as vice chairman. Since Gramm's arrival, UBS has been embroiled in just about every scandal you can think of, from securities fraud to tax fraud to diamond smuggling. Interestingly, both UBS shareholders and their executives have gotten off rather lightly for these acts. The only person jailed thus far has been the tax fraud whistleblower. Looks like Phil's earning his keep.
5. Jamie Dimon
J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has done a lot of scummy things as head of one of the world's most powerful banks, but his most grotesque act of corruption actually took place at the Federal Reserve. At each of the Fed's 12 regional offices, the board of directors is staffed by officials from the region's top banks. So while it's certainly galling that the CEO of J.P. Morgan would be on the board of the New York Fed, one of J.P. Morgan's regulators, it's not all that uncommon.
But it is quite uncommon for a banker to be negotiating a bailout package for his bank with the New York Fed, while simultaneously serving on the New York Fed board. That's what happened in March 2008, when J.P. Morgan agreed to buy up Bear Stearns, on the condition that the Fed kick in $29 billion to cushion the company from any losses. Dimon-- CEO of J.P. Morgan and board member of the New York Fed-- was negotiating with Timothy Geithner, who was president of the New York Fed-- about how much money the New York Fed was going to give J.P. Morgan. On Wall Street, that's called being a savvy businessman. Everywhere else, it's called a conflict of interest.
6. Stephen Friedman
The New York Fed is just full of corruption. Consider the case of Stephen Friedman (expertly presented by Greg Kaufmann for the Nation). As the financial crisis exploded in the fall of 2008, Friedman was serving both as chairman of the New York Fed and on the board of directors at Goldman Sachs. The Fed stepped in to prevent AIG from collapsing in September 2008, and by November, the New York Fed had decided to pay all of AIG's counterparties 100 cents on the dollar for AIG's bets—even though these companies would have taken dramatic losses in bankruptcy. The public wouldn't learn which banks received this money until March 2009, but Friedman bought 52,600 shares of Goldman stock in December 2008 and January 2009, more than doubling his holdings.
As it turns out, Goldman was the top beneficiary of the AIG bailout, to the tune of $12.9 billion. Friedman made millions on the Goldman stock purchase, and is yet to disclose what he knew about where the AIG money was going, or when he knew it. Either way, it's pretty bad—if he knew Goldman benefited from the bailout, then he belongs in jail. If he didn't know, then what exactly was he doing as chairman of the New York Fed, or on Goldman's board?
7. Robert Steel
Like better-known corruptocrats Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, Steel joined the Treasury after spending several years as a top executive with Goldman Sachs. Steel joined the Treasury in 2006 as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, and proceeded to do, well, nothing much until financial markets went into free-fall in 2008. When Wachovia ousted CEO Ken Thompson, the company named Steel as its new CEO. Steel promptly bought one million Wachovia shares to demonstrate his commitment to the firm, but by September, Wachovia was in dire straits. The FDIC wanted to put the company through receivership—shutting it down and wiping out its shareholders.
But Steel's buddies at Treasury and the Fed intervened, and instead of closing Wachovia, they arranged a merger with Wells Fargo at $7 a share—saving Steel himself $7 million. He now serves on Wells Fargo's board of directors.
8. Henry Paulson
His time at Goldman Sachs made Henry Paulson one of the richest men in the world. Under Paulson's leadership, Goldman transformed from a private company ruled by client relationships into a public company operating as a giant global casino. As Treasury Secretary during the height of the financial crisis, Paulson personally approved a direct $10 billion capital injection into his former firm.
But even before that bailout, Paulson had been playing fast and loose with ethics rules. In June 2008, Paulson held a secret meeting in Moscow with Goldman's board of directors, where they discussed economic prognostications, market conditions and Treasury rescue plans. Not okay, Hank.
9. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett used to be a reasonable guy, blasting the rich for waging "class warfare" against the rest of us and deriding derivatives as "financial weapons of mass destruction." These days, he's just another financier crony, lobbying Congress against Wall Street reform, and demanding a light touch on—get this—derivatives! Buffet even went so far as to buy the support of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, for a filibuster on reform. Buffett has also been an outspoken defender of Goldman Sachs against the recent SEC fraud allegations, allegations that stem from fancy products called "synthetic collateralized debt obligations"—the financial weapons of mass destruction Buffett once criticized.
See, it just so happens that both Buffet's reputation and his bottom line are tied to an investment he made in Goldman Sachs in 2008, when he put $10 billion of his money into the bank. Buffett has acknowledged that he only made the deal because he believed Goldman would be bailed out by the U.S. government. Which, in fact, turned out to be the case, multiple times. When the government rescued AIG, the $12.9 billion it funneled to Goldman was to cover derivatives bets Goldman had placed with the mega-insurer. Buffett was right about derivatives—they are WMD so far as the real economy is concerned. But they've enabled Warren Buffett to get even richer with taxpayer help, and now he's fighting to make sure we don't shut down his own casino.
10.  Goldman Sachs

No company exemplifies the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington more than Goldman Sachs. The four people on this list are some of the worst offenders, but Goldman's D.C. army has includes many other top officials in this administration and the last.

White House:

Joshua Bolton, chief of staff for George W. Bush, was a Goldman man


Current New York Fed President William Dudley is a Goldman man

Current Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler has been a responsible regulator under Obama, but he was a deregulatory hawk during the Clinton years, and worked at Goldman for nearly two decades before that.

A top aide to Timothy Geithner, Gene Sperling, is a Goldman man

Current Treasury Undersecretary Robert Hormats is a Goldman man

Current Treasury Chief of Staff Mark Patterson is a former Goldman lobbyist

Former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt is now a Goldman adviser

Neel Kashkari, Henry Paulson's deputy on TARP, was a Goldman man

COO of the SEC Enforcement Division Adam Storch is a Goldman man


Former Sen. John Corzine, D-N.J., was Goldman's CEO before Henry Paulson

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., was a Goldman Vice President before he ran for Congress

Former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., now lobbies for Goldman

And the list goes on.
Zach Carter is an economics editor at AlterNet and a fellow at Campaign for America's Future. He writes a weekly blog on the economy for the Media Consortium and his work has appeared in the Nation, Mother Jones, the American Prospect and Salon.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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