3.01.2006

US Govt to Americans: "We Don't Need You!"


First, a couple of excerpted items from Confined Space:
"OSHA Issues Weak Hexavalent Chromium Standard: 'Workers Will Die'"

Facing a court-ordered deadline, OSHA has issued its long-awaited standard to reduce workers' exposure to cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. Unfortunately, the standard represents a major victory for industry as OSHA lowered the standard from 52 micrograms of chromium per cubic meter of air to 5 micrograms, after originally proposing to a 1 microgram limit in 2004.

The new standard comes less than a week after an article revealed that scientists working for the chromium industry withheld data showing that even very low level exposures cause cancer . . .

"'Just letting people die like dogs' 9/11 Dust Fatalities Continue to Climb"

The toll of 9/11 is still climbing. Last month, James Zadroga, a 34-year-old New York City police detective, became one of at least a dozen Ground Zero workers who have died of a respiratory disease they contracted during rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Centers.

More than four years after hijackers rammed passenger jets into the twin towers, at least a dozen people who worked at Ground Zero have died of diseases attributed to the witch's brew of deadly chemicals and toxic substances that filled the air at the disaster site.

Thousands of other Ground Zero workers are suffering from serious respiratory ailments. The victims include police officers, firefighters, construction workers and even immigrant laborers. Some call these forgotten men and women the "walking dead."

James Zadroga became the first NYPD officer to die as a direct result of exposure to Ground Zero's cocktail of chemicals, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.

"I do not think he will be the last, unfortunately," Palladino said.


Zadroga, whose wife had died of heart disease a year earlier, was a strong 6 feet 2 man, weighing more than 260 pounds before getting sick:

But the last four years offered a picture of a different man. Shortly after finishing his rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center, Zadroga developed a chronic cough, shortness of breath and acid reflux. He was plagued by nightmares and headaches. Within months, he needed oxygen tanks, antibiotics and steroid injections on a regular basis.


Zadroga wasn't just killed by his more than 450 hours working in the witches brew of toxic dusts resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Centers, he was also screwed by the NYPD:

While Zadroga was losing the battle with his lungs, he was also losing a fight with the city. In March 2002, James filed a line of injury report with the NYPD, documenting his labored breathing and persistent cough. The report proved worthless, his parents say.
Then cometh David Sirota at Working for Change with "The dirty little secret behind the UAE port security flap". Clips:
Politicians and the media are loudly decrying the Bush administration's proposal to turn over port security to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - a country with ties to terrorists. They are talking tough about national security - but almost no one is talking about what may have fueled the administration's decision to push forward with this deal: the desire to move forward Big Money's "free" trade agenda . . .

The Inter Press Service highlights exactly what's at stake, quoting a conservative activists who admits that this is all about trade:

"The United States' trade relationship with the UAE is the third largest in the Middle East, after Israel and Saudi Arabia. The two nations are engaged in bilateral free talks that would liberalise trade between the two countries and would, in theory at least, allow companies to own and operate businesses in both nations. 'There are legitimate security questions to be asked but it would be a mistake and really an insult to one of our leading trading partners in that region to reject this commercial transaction out of hand,' said Daniel T. Griswold, who directs the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank."


Look, we've seen this before. Just last year, Congress approved a U.S. taxpayer-funded loan by the Bush administration to a British company to help build nuclear technology in Communist China. Despite major security concerns raised - and a legislative effort to block the loan - Congress's "free traders" (many of whom talk so tough on security) made sure the loan went through so as to preserve the U.S.-China free trade relationship that is allowing lawmakers' corporate campaign contributors export so many U.S. jobs.

There is no better proof that our government takes its orders from corporate interests than these kinds of moves. That's what this UAE deal is all about - the mixture of the right-wing's goal of privatizing all government services (even post 9/11 port security!) with the political Establishment's desire to make sure Tom-Friedman-style "free" trade orthodoxy supersedes everything. This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security.
In other words, boys and girrlzz, it goes like this: Security? Corporate profits? Security? Corporate profits? Guess which one wins. Guess who loses.

Here's the one that's the purest of evil, though. Diane Feinstein. Democrat? Democrat. Liberal? Liberal!!! Read on, mouseketeers. We got some slices from "The Democrats' Daddy Warbucks":
Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, could well be called the Democrats' Daddy Warbucks. He's scored bundles from war contracts. He has recently purchased a $16.5 million crib in San Francisco and along with his wife has handed hundreds of thousands of dollars over to fellow Democrats. Since the 2000 election cycle, Blum has contributed over $75,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Committee, and thousands more to individual Democrats, including John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Joe Lieberman, Ted Kennedy, and Barbara Boxer . . .

Blum sees himself as an altruistic capitalist, claims one of his ex-employees: "He likes to go after companies that are down and out, and bring their stock back to life. He thinks he's doing good." Blum shares a large stake in Perini, a civil construction company that is happily employed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But not all of Blum's war profits come from Perini. In 1975, his venture capital firm went after fledging construction and design company URS when the business was about to be bought out by another corporation.

Since then, Blum has increased his stock in URS, capitalizing on its recent military contracts. Unlike Blum's dabbling with Barnum & Bailey, his current profits aren't so safe for child consumption.

Here are the basics to date: Blum currently holds over 111,000 shares of stock in URS Corporation, which is now one of the top defense contractors in the United States. Blum is an acting director of URS, which bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002. Carlyle's trusty advisers, past and present, include former President George H.W. Bush, James Baker, and ex-SEC Commissioner Arthur Levitt, among other prominent neoconservatives and Washington power brokers.

URS and Blum have since banked on the Iraq war, scoring a phat $600 million contract through EG&G. As a result, URS has seen its stock price more than triple since the war began in March 2003. Blum has cashed in over $2 million on this venture alone and another $100 million for his investment firm.

"As part of EG&G's sale price," reports the San Francisco Chronicle, "Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent stake in URS – second only to the 23.7 percent of shares controlled by Blum Capital." . . .

If this were a Republican senator's spouse gleaning off the spoils of war and passing it along to fellow Republicans, the liberals would be up in arms. But since Dianne Feinstein is a leading Democrat, mum's the word.

Partisanship trumps ethics.


OK. I'll leave yuh alone fer a while. Go throw up.

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