The Deep Industry Ties of Trump’s Deregulation Teams

More capturing of government by corporate interests. It happened before under Repub and Dem administrations, but more intense and blatant under the “drain the swamp” advocate in the White House. And it will continue forever and ever and ever until we abolish the constitutional ground rules empowering corporate entities with constitutional rights…

“Some appointees are reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or kill, and at least two may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone.

The appointees include lawyers who have represented businesses in cases against government regulators, staff members of political dark money groups, employees of industry-funded organizations opposed to environmental rules and at least three people who were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for.”

Every Polluter’s Advocate

IEL

The record of Every Polluters Advocate (EPA) regarding the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) in Uniontown, Ohio has been for several decades pathetic at best. Their approach has been “dilution is the solution” remediation and “what you don’t test for you won’t find.” Several of the test wells that were considered “hot” were simply not tested.

We (Northeast Ohio AFSC) filed several Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests over several years. We received numerous receipts from the Department of the Army indicating dumping. This confirmed sitings by area residents who witnessed Army trucks bearing radioactive markings letting themselves in and out of the site over a period of time. We also received in the IEL file if I recall a document from the Mound nuclear weapons production site in southern Ohio indicating they transported material to the site. No doubt the haul was something like grass clippings and/or apple peelings.

Several area people, in fact, have died from cancers associated with radiation. A nurse at one time went house to house in the area and found an astoundingly high percentage of radiation related health concerns. Mere coincidence no doubt.

Chris Borello refuses to literally and figuratively bury IEL. Kudos to her.

Coverup and denial have been the major responses.

Harper points out an often forgotten reality. The site sits on a ridge with whatever dumped there flowing in many directions. Thus, the grass clippings, apple peelings and other supposedly too safe to worry about in the long term trash will be shared far and wide.

The EPA at the highest level has been hijacked by the corporate polluters and military. Sad fact…and reality…of many, if not most, of our regulatory agencies — they regulate/confine grassroots concerns/activism and shield those responsible for irresponsible actions.

Uniontown landfill Superfund site includes industrial, radioactive waste: Toxic remains
http://www.cleveland.com/akron/index.ssf/2015/12/is_groundwater_in_uniontown_oh.html#incart_m-rpt-1

To avoid environmental catastrophe, we must change our thinking: Letter to the Editor

Tomorrow, August 6, is the 70th anniversary of the first use of radioactive weaponry in Hiroshima, Japan by the United States of America. My reflections on visiting Hiroshima for the 40th anniversary…and now.

<><><>

atom_bomb

To avoid environmental catastrophe, we must change our thinking: Letter to the Editor
Other Voices By Other Voices
on August 04, 2015
http://blog.cleveland.com/letters/2015/08/atomic_bomb_letter_to_the_edit.html

Einstein’s statement, “[t]he splitting of the atom changed everything, save man’s mode of thinking. Thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe” was on my mind while attending the annual observance of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 30 years ago on Aug. 6. It still is.

Then, it meant inevitable nuclear holocaust unless human social advancements kept pace with technological advancements — which has barely occurred. Now it means something even larger: to question all technological prowess as automatically “progress.” Technologies not only have benefits, but costs — political, economic, social, psychological, environmental.

Homage to technology has blinded us, for example, to the colossal environmental costs of plundering the planet to produce things we all enjoy while spewing toxins into the land, seas and air. We have focused only on the resulting gains, but have ignored the pains – pushing them off on other people, places or generations. We have come to accept that we can have endless more — exponential growth of literally everything while living on a finite planet.

However, nature bats last. It has its own rules. It can’t be propagandized, distracted, ignored, threatened or jailed. Changing our “mode of thinking” isn’t an option, but essential to avoid environmental “unparalleled catastrophe.”

Greg Coleridge
Cleveland Heights

Testimony at Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Public Hearing on First Energy’s “Electric Security Plan” Proposal

Greg Coleridge / Monday, January 20, 2015 / Cleveland City Hall

photo[1]

[Note: First Energy corporations wants PUCO guarantees on prices to subsidize it nuclear and coal power plants. Several hearings by the PUCO regulatory agency to receive public testimony are being held across Ohio]

I testify this evening not only as a consumer, but also as a citizen.

As a consumer, I’m concerned about the rising prices of energy that seem unwarranted and little more than a corporate bail out.

But as a citizen, I’m even more concerned — concerned about decision-making, power and democracy – as they relate to not only First Energy corporation but also the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

Former Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson’s warning a century ago is still relevant today: “I believe in municipal ownership of all public service monopolies… because if you do not own them, they will in time own you, they will rule your politics, corrupt your institutions and finally destroy your liberties.”

First Energy corporation has certainly come to rule our politics and corrupt our legislative institution with their hot shot lobbyists and piles of campaign investments, I mean “contributions,” to many of the same Ohio legislators who voted to delay green energy standards.

photoBut it’s not just First Energy corporation that is a threat to our democracy. Regulatory agencies like PUCO, which shield corporate utilities serve to effectively absorb our time, energy and resources and to distract our attention from demanding statewide legislation, citizen initiatives and public hearings on the more fundamental issue of ending corporate owned utilities.

Past and more recent history demonstrates that public owned utilities provide more democratically accountable and cheaper energy. Samuel Insull was right a century ago about electricity being a “natural monopoly.” His belief, though, that regulation would protect utility monopolies from both private competition and outright public ownership was anti-democratic. Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Hoan in 1907 said it best about electric regulatory commissions: “No shrewder piece of political humbuggery and downright fraud has ever been placed upon the statute books. It’s supposed to be legislation for the people. In fact, it’s legislation for the power oligarchy.”

No matter the outcome of these hearings, the core problem is that We the People are not directly in control of our energy. Corporate utilities, using PUCO as a shield, are in charge. First Energy corporation’s market monopoly socialism in which “heads, they win, tails, we lose” both politically and in our pocketbooks doesn’t have to happen. It wasn’t always like it is now. It doesn’t have to continue.

photo[1]

These hearings are akin to a democracy “theme park” that looks real and legit on the surface but distracts and distorts from the real issues.

Regulatory agencies regulate us. They regulate our ability to think outside the regulatory box – to imagine what real definition, power, control, and democracy could be.

Yes, the answer here tonight is to oppose the corporate bailout of First Energy. But the answer to the fundamental problem of private monopolies is more democracy through public control – the likes of which would make Tom Johnson proud.

We need to think and act not just like consumers, but also as citizens.

“Top” 10 Democracy Realities in 2014

Democracy_2014__Chris_Monzel_2150200000_9239512_ver1.0_640_480

This is the second of a two part series. Like part 1, “top” is in parenthesis to acknowledge the relative nature of the selections. There is no presumption that this is the definitive list. Readers will, no doubt, have their own ideas.

The lens used to determine both lists were what were impediments/possibilities for We the People to have genuine opportunities to have their voices heard and ability to shape decisions impacting the world around them.

Overall, 2014 saw a surge in participation of people seeking to build power for just and peaceful change. The quest to build mass movements linked issues, strategies and people in ways unseen for many years.

1.    Protests against police brutality
“Black Lives Matter” not only became a refrain of street protestors in 2014, but a movement sparked in response to the killings of blacks in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland and many other communities. Participants are racially and age diverse – with some police officers among the growing ranks. Issues extend beyond issue of police mistreatment of people of color to militarization of police forces, disproportionate imprisonment of blacks, and institutional racism throughout society. Demands are equally expansive – from local to national, from political to cultural, from short- to long-term.

This growing movement has forced the mainstream culture to begin facing issues of race and prejudice as they relate to power and privilege. In doing so, it offers the opportunity for mass awareness and solidarity. Any progress in understanding and meaningful dialogue also strategically makes it more difficult for the power elite to use race as a divide and conquer strategy to maintain illegitimate power and authority.

2.    Movement to end corporate personhood and money as speech
The Move to Amend movement to end the inane constitutional doctrines asserting corporations are “persons” and money equals “free speech” continues to grow from its inception is 2010 following the Citizen United vs FEC Supreme Court decision.

More people in more places educated, advocated and organized in their communities for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to achieve these duel objectives.  Fueling the movement were the McCutcheon vs FEC and the Burwell vs Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decisions. The innumerable local, state and federal examples of growing corporate power and corruption associated with money in elections also contributed to a surge in awareness and attraction to this solution.

Many communities organized for passage of city council resolutions. Each and every of the two dozen communities that organized ballot initiatives were successful with most of the citizen driven ballot measures winning with landslide margins. That these these victories took place during the same elections that saw Republicans make gains at the federal and many state levels is evidence of the trans-partisan appeal of these concerns.

3.    Growing environmental movement
The state of New York’s ban on fracking may have been the most tangible victory in response to organized citizen pressure, although no doubt the science and economics of gas drilling were also factors. Resistance to fracking grows both in the U.S. and Europe.  Resistance included marches, rallies, forums, lobbying, civil disobedience and Community Bill of Rights initiatives.

The climate march in New York City drew hundreds of thousands of people. The Keystone pipeline continues to be delayed due in part to growing popular pressure (the fact that major Obama supporter Warren Buffett owns railroads that could transport the oil rather that pipelines was also a consideration).

The Vermont legislature passed a mandatory labeling bill for all food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Voters in Jackson county, Oregon and Maui county, Hawaii banned GMO crops. Voters in Oregon came within an eyelash of passing a statewide ballot measure on GMOs – only losing because of massive political campaign spending by the pro GMO food corporations.

4.    Exposing the truth of money creation
Two of the fundamental sources of financial power of banking corporations worldwide are (1) most people believe a nation’s money is created by government, and (2) most money in a nation is actually created by private financial institutions, including private central banks.

So long as financial institutions control the issuance of money – whether by a private central bank (i.e. the misnamed Federal Reserve in the US) or by banking corporations (when they create money out of thin air as debt when they issue loans), financial institutions will not only possess the ultimate economic power in a society but the ultimate political power, since economic profits are translated to political power via lobbying and campaign contributions/investments.

More people worldwide are shedding the myth and understanding the reality of actual money creation – a major step toward the democratization of our money. Leading the way in 2014 was Britain.

Bank of England officials admitted in March that banks don’t loan out pre-existing deposits, they simply create it out of this air.  Martin Wolf, the chief economics writer for the Financial Times (the Wall Street Journal of England) wrote an article in April “Strip private banks of their power to create money.” And the U.K Parliament debated money creation in November – for the first time in 170 years. All of this was in part the result of the ongoing education, advocacy and organizing of the pro democratization of money group, Positive Money.

5.    Alternatives to dollar
The U.S. Empire hasn’t just been military. It’s been economic. The bomb and dollar operate hand-in-hand to maintain control and thwart democracy. There’s growing resistance to not simply U.S. military installations worldwide, but also to US-dominated World Bank and IMF policies, as well as to the US dollar as the world’s “reserve currency” – meaning nation’s must have dollars to purchase oil (the “petrodollar”) or conduct trade. This is changing.

The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations announced plans to launch their own rival development bank to the IMF and World Bank. Russia is setting up its own SWIFT banking transaction system. Nations began trading with one another in their own currencies. This movement is led by China and Russia, with the later willing to sell oil for Rubles and Yuans. England, Canada and other countries also began to accept non-dollar payments with other nations.

Breaking away from the dollar is a key ingredient for nations to achieve national monetary sovereignty.

6.    Global resistance to corporate trade deals
Opposition to the proposed U.S.-Asian Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and U.S.-European Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were global. Whenever and wherever negotiators and their corporate “advisors” met behind closed doors (where it should be acknowledged labor, indigenous, consumer, and environmental representatives were not invited), people were in the streets, lobbing their respective national elected representatives and educating the general public.

The message was clear and direct:  these “trade” agreements are in actually about global rule which, if enacted, would circumvent democratically passed laws and regulations on labor, environmental, consumer, health, the internet and financial controls. Fast Track (which would have allowed the President to ram these measures through Congress) was at least temporarily derailed from a vote.

7.    Increased revelations of spying and surveillance
The continued revelation of documents by Edward Snowden, Julian Assange (founder of WikiLeaks) and others detailing US domestic and international snooping of citizens en mass using the sweeping pretext of “terrorism” provided strengthened resolve to US citizens to take action to protect privacy and basic civil liberties and human rights under the U.S. Constitution. Actions calling for fundamental change at the legislative, executive, bureaucratic and judicial levels are all essential requirements for anything approaching a real democracy.

Snowden’s story received further attention when the documentary Citizenfour was released in the fall. He was honored in December with the Right Livelihood Award, an international award to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.”

8.    Technology
The flip side of technology as a tool of spying, surveillance and suppression is the way technology can be used for mass education, awareness and mobilization.

As “mainstream” media in all its forms becomes more corporatized, the Internet has become a more important source for alternative information and analysis. This made the nationwide struggle to maintain net neutrality all the more important in 2014.

Pictures and videos documenting police brutality as it happened from mobile phones sparked mass reactions. Twitter was used to mobilize mass actions, be they in the U.S. against police brutality or in Hong Kong for democracy, in an instant.

9.    Local alternatives / sustainability
The more local the institution, the better chance people have to define it.

The last few years have seen a significant increase in the forms and numbers of local “micro” alternatives to large national or transnational “macro” political and economic institutions.

The rise of local independent businesses, local food production and distribution, local renewable energy, community internet broadband, community money (in both electronic and paper versions) sustainable housing, and decentralized transportation are among the many localized ways people are building democracy from the ground up.

10.    Increasing disgust with US politicians and Supreme Court
A majority of U.S. residents feel public officials don’t represent their interests, given the massive disconnect between what the public desires on issue after issue and existing public policy. A national Rasmussen Reports survey in 2014 found that an all-time high 53 percent of all Americans believe that neither major political party “represents the American people,” while 65% of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness,” according to a 2014 Gallop poll – also an all time high.

Public views on the Supreme Court weren’t much better. Just 35% in a 2014 poll gave the court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believes that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. A huge majority, 74%, believes there should be a fixed term of 18 years for Justices.

This growing awareness that our government is broken because the system is fixed is a very positive sign for achieving real democracy. It reflects that the U.S. “democracy myth” that keeps people on the sidelines, believing all is good and that others should make decisions for them is evaporating.

We have to take charge if we want real democracy, self-governance or self-determination. It won’t happen by magic or physics, only by intentional, deliberate and genuinely inclusive engagement with others.