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A documentary on water

Posted on June 30th, 2010 in Climage Change,ecology,Environment,Film,Health by Robert Miller

If you haven’t seen the documentary “Flow: For Love of Water“, you don’t want to miss it:  you can get it through Netflix or by going to the  website that promotes the indie documentary. Directed by Irena Salina, the 2008 film tells how multinational corporations like Coca-Cola and Nestle, are privatizing water supplies throughout the globe to drive up the price of water and force everyone to pay more for what many of us believe should be a natural, free right of our world citizenship. This free market strategy is driven by the idea that in the near future, good water will become a scarce necessity and should be treated as a commodity. But the backlash is already palpable. In the wake of this drive towards global water privatization, citizens in many different countries are beginning to mobilize against this trend by forming grass roots movements that are gaining momentum, though it remains a very uphill battle.  In the U.S., court rulings have so far protected corporate rights to establish for example, a production site and remove huge quantities of local fresh water, bottle it and distribute it throughout the country without paying any costs for the water to the locals. The major benefit to the local region is usually a seriously depressed water supply (Michigan was one of the major examples). You cannot take huge quantities of water out of the ground without running the risk of creating giant sinkholes and such events are now a common occurrence in many regions around the globe. You can’t just pump in air to replace the water, you need a non-compressible substance to replace it, something like “water.”

Paul Krugman and the Third Depression

Posted on June 28th, 2010 in Economy by Robert Miller

For those of you wondering about the state of our economy and why perhaps jobs are not coming back as quickly as we might have hoped and why our government seems to be retreating in its support of the unemployed and why a sense of disinvestment is in the air we breathe–then read Paul Krugman‘s editorial today in the New York Times. He forewarns us of the coming third depression brought about by the contraction-minded members in Congress and those who think similarly in the administration as they begin to formulate economic policies that will leave a large, perhaps permanent class of unemployed as far down the road as the eye can see. The economic problem we face is acute, not chronic. Worry about the latter and you guarantee huge levels of unemployment and chronic national instability. Teabaggers coming into power is the risk we run by not fixing the economy now, as if it was an emergency.


The tidal basin of McChrystal’s firing

Posted on June 27th, 2010 in History,Politics,War by Robert Miller

When General Stanley A. McChrystal was fired earlier this week by President Obama, it had a double entendre, only one side of which surfaced in the mainstream media. The short hand version, favored by the most of the news organizations, was that McChrystal’s interview article  by Michael Hastings, which appeared in Rolling Stone magazine on June 22, represented an outrageous act of insubordination that was demeaning to the President and his advisers, including the Vice President, about whom McChrystal was quoted as saying “Are you asking me about Vice President Biden?–who’s that?” The press glowingly characterized Obama’s firing of McChrystal by comparing it to Truman’s dismissal of MacArthur, nearly sixty years earlier (1951) for acts of insubordination related to the Korean war–in effect for MacArthur’s brazen attempt to control the war, including plans to use atomic bombs against the Chinese. This admiring tone towards Obama’s assertion of civilian authority over the military was aided by the fact that Obama replaced McChrystal with General David Petraeus, the hero of the surge in Iraq and, until this week, the head of Centcom (Central Command of the military). Yet, the larger point about McChrystal’s firing was missed by the news media and goes to the heart of the methods that the military uses to get their way in military conflicts and foreign policy. McChrystal’s interview, though perhaps embellished by excessive alcohol, was nevertheless as much of an admission that we will ever get from the military, that the new policy of counterinsurgency with a troop surge was a failure, which most of us could have predicted from the get-go. The official military version however is, “how can we make a judgment about the outcome if the full source of the troop surge is yet to be achieved?”

As befitting a militarist society, especially after deciding to rule the world after WW II, we typically allow our generals to get their way in times of conflict and they are very experienced and skilled in how to game the system to achieve  their objectives. After all, most military officers in command positions are careerists–they are in it for the long haul, whereas with Presidents, it’s two terms at best, and then you’re out. Furthermore, the military is like a one party system that favors the most confrontational approach to our conflicts and in some areas, like the Air Force, is becoming a fundamentalist Christian organization, working through the right hand of God.  Our military leaders have learned to play our Presidents like a fiddle and they always have the upper hand: cross them or diminish their requests and you run the risk of endangering our troops that are already on the ground, or you are in danger of a complete meltdown of your presidency.  Lyndon Johnson was paranoid over losing Vietnam and going down in history as the first President to surrender a country to communism (who was responsible for Cuba?).  As a result, until the time when his Presidential aspirations were destroyed, Johnson  never said “no” to General William Westmoreland during the major part of his tenure over the Vietnam War; he allowed a massive troop infusion which reached a peak during his Presidency of 535,000 American soldiers on the ground.Vietnam was America’s biggest disaster if only for the fact that it was derived out of our ideology over communism and failed to see the nationalistic fervor of Ho Chi Minh.

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