Thursday, 23 June 2011

Clever Letter to New Zealand Government to 'Fix the Economy'

Dear Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Bill English,
Please find below our suggestion for fixing New Zealand 's economy.
Instead of giving billions of dollars to the banks, Iwi's and others to be squandered on unearned bonuses and extravagant oveseas trips, use the following plan.

You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 1 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. One million job openings = unemployment fixed ...
2) They MUST buy a new car. One million cars ordered = motor industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage and the banks must use the money for cheap new loans for new home buyers = housing supply and affordability fixed.
4) They MUST buy at least $100 of alcohol a week = your money back in duty/tax etc.
5) They MUST buy some shares in the strategic NZ companies you propose flogging off, and hold them for at least 10 years = Retaining our remaining assets and more money kept in NZ instead of laundered overseas. NOTE: Of our biggest 20 companies in 1988, all are now owned overseas or controlled by Graeme Hart, except for Fisher & Paykel; and from just Telecom and the BNZ alone (and not even including the other 17 companies) $16 billion of dividends has gone to their overseas owners.
6) They MUST pay for their grandchildren to go to University = no further need for student loans and more doctors and nurses.7) Instead of stuffing around with the carbon emissions trading scheme that makes us pay for the major polluters, tell the greedy bastards to reduce their pollution emissions by 75% within 5 years or they'll be shut down = more jobs for inventive NZ manufacturers providing polution solutions and more tourists to a really cleaner, greener NZ.
8) If you need more money, have all MP's pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances.
Yours sincerely,
Your Employer 'The New Zealand Public'

"Show me the Money" Ron Paul calls for a full audit of U.S. gold reserves"!

Paul Subcommittee to Probe U.S. Gold Reserves
Washington, Jun 22 -
Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Ron Paul announced today that the subcommittee will hold a hearing on legislation calling for a full audit of U.S. gold reserves.

H.R. 1495, the “Gold Reserve Transparency Act of 2011,” calls for an audit by the Treasury that gives a full and thorough accounting of the U.S. government’s gold reserves, requiring an inventory and assay of the gold reserves. The Treasury’s audit is subject to independent review by the Government Accountability Office, allowing them access to any pertinent records or locations, including Fort Knox.

"The Treasury Department has been less than transparent with the results of its gold audits,” Paul stated. “It is asking the American people to trust that all the gold is there, while not allowing site visits and not publishing all the data it holds on its audits and assays. Since most of this gold was originally seized from the American people in the 1930s, they deserve more transparency than a handful of financial statements."

The hearing will discuss recent audits of U.S. gold reserves; challenges to conducting a full audit; and impediments to an accurate assessment of the US gold position, including any leases, swaps or other encumbrances placed upon the gold reserves; and also examine changes to the legislative proposal that will ensure a full and accurate audit, assay, and inventory of U.S. gold reserves.

The hearing entitled “Investigating the Gold: H.R. 1495, the Gold Reserve Transparency Act and the Oversight of United States Gold Holdings,” will be held on Thursday, June 23 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Witnesses scheduled to testify:

Gary T. Engel, Director, Financial Management and Assurance, Government Accountability Office

Eric M. Thorson, Inspector General, Department of the Treasury

Carbon Tax: "The evidence is clear that it hasn't worked" Carbon markets are a fraud

By Stephen Leahy/ Tierramérica
BONN, Jun. 22, 2011 (IPS/GIN) - Carbon markets have been widely promoted as the only way to generate enough money to enable industries and countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, which are largely responsible for global warming. The only problem is that nearly 20 years after their conception, they have failed to work, and have also been subject to fraud and other financial crimes.
Interpol, the world's leading policing agency, has warned that carbon market schemes are easily taken advantage of by organized crime.
Earlier this year, carbon credits worth 38 million dollars went missing in the European Union's carbon market after funds were transferred by computer hackers from the Czech Republic to Poland, Estonia and Liechtenstein before disappearing. That was the fourth time funds had been stolen or mislaid.
"A lawyer formerly involved in carbon trading told me that if markets are still trading carbon 10 or 15 years from now, then the global environment will be in very big trouble," Steve Suppan, senior policy analyst at the U.S.-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), told Tierramerica.
"Carbon markets are open to fraud, misrepresentation and deceptive promotion," Suppan said in an interview at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating sessions held in Bonn Jun. 6-17.
These markets have had huge support from governments and they still do not work to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Suppan, whose organization works on trade, agriculture and environmental issues.
Climate change is the result of emissions of global warming gases, mainly carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
The two main ways to address the problem - known as mitigation - are to reduce those carbon emissions at source or to capture and store ("sequester") carbon in plants, trees and soils. The latter means reducing deforestation, increasing reforestation, and utilising sustainable agriculture and grazing practices to either keep carbon stored or encourage its capture.
Markets are widely believed to be the only way to mobilize enough private capital to reduce emissions, but this is simply not true, says Jutta Kill of SinksWatch, a UK-based NGO that tracks and scrutinizes carbon sequestration projects.
"There is an assumption we can't get the necessary money for mitigation any other way," Kill said at an event here. "And there is another assumption that money is the answer."
In the early 1990s, when the Kyoto Protocol was being debated at UNFCCC negotiations, no one wanted markets as part of a climate agreement except the United States, says Payal Parekh, a Swiss-based climate scientist and energy expert.
Finally, however, Europe and other countries "did a deal with the devil" and the Protocol, which obligated industrialised nations to reduce their emissions by five percent between 2008 and 2012, was signed in 1997, Parekh told Tierramérica.
The United States subsequently refused to ratify the Protocol and backed out of the entire agreement. However, their market component remained.
That legacy has resulted in carbon offset markets which allow rich countries in the North to invest in "emissions-saving projects" in the South while they continue to emit carbon.
The biggest of these offset markets is the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), with almost 3,200 registered projects so far in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The CDM has been widely criticised because in order to actually reduce emissions, the money the North invests has to be in emission-reduction projects that would not have happened without that investment.
That requires expert, independent verification and a "crystal ball" to know whether or not a wind farm in China would have eventually been built with or without CDM money, said Parekh.
"The evidence is clear that it hasn't worked," she said, citing various studies that estimate that 20 to 90 percent of CDM projects do not result in lower emissions overall.
"Industrialised nations could have met their Kyoto obligations without markets," she added.
The world's biggest carbon market is the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which accounted for 95 percent of the 144 billion dollars in carbon transactions in 2010.
Not only has it been subject to fraud, with more than 100 people in several countries charged last year, but it also does not put much money into emission-cutting projects.
"Only a small fraction" of the money "actually makes it into the ground," said Kill.
The EU ETS was set up wrong and has had numerous problems, including speculation and fraud, agreed Parekh and Suppan. "Studies show it really wasn't the main driver of Europe's emission reductions," said Suppan.  

Kumi Naidoo exec. director of Greenpeace International warns of a new potential oil rig disaster in the Arctic

By Kumi Naidoo*  
THE INSTITUTION PRISON, NUUK, Greenland, Jun. 20, 2011 (IPS/GIN) - Nuuk is a long way from my hometown of Durban, and the Arctic is a long way for an African to come to campaign about climate change. Yet, here I sit, in a jail cell, with my colleague Ulvar Arnkvaern, in the ‘Institution’, a prison in Greenland’s capital. I sit here for breaching an exclusion zone and climbing aboard a dangerous deep water drilling rig some 120 km off Greenland’s coast.
With me I carried the signatures of some 50,000 people who are demanding that the oil rigs operators Cairn Energy publish its ‘oil spill response plan’. I also wanted to personally call for drilling to stop immediately. Since my arrest I am told over 20,000 more people have gone to the Greenpeace web site - and added their names to the growing petition.
I came in defence of the fragile Arctic environment. I became the 22nd Greenpeace activist who in the last few weeks has volunteered to climb the rig in the middle of the Arctic. I came to add my body to the protest and my voice to the call for sanity and an end to dangerous deep water oil drilling in the Arctic. I became the 22nd activist to be arrested and held in a Greenlandic cell.
How can it be that in the wake of the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster an oil company can be allowed to drill at a similar depth in the Arctic, where any clean up operation would be all but impossible. Given the events of the Gulf of Mexico blow-out it would be logical that greater transparency and public scrutiny would be needed, not less or none.
The reason for Cairn’s secrecy is clear, a clean up would be impossible, the ecosystem would be decimated, Greenland’s fisheries would be destroyed and the 10 billion dollar Cairn oil company would be bankrupt: not a good look at the start of an oil rush, and a poor signal to the venture capitalists who hope to turn a big profit.
All of the above is more than enough reason to say no to deep water oil drilling in the Arctic. But, there are many more reasons to say no to Arctic drilling and to call for the world to go beyond oil.
Fossil fuel burning is altering our climate and melting the Arctic sea ice, changing the nature of one of the remotest places on earth, and one of the most hostile. The radically reducing ‘summer sea’ ice is a stark warning of a warming world. Yet the oil industry and the politicians who are beholden to it are treating the warning as an invitation to ‘drill baby drill!’
Climate change is already wreaking havoc around the world, it is hitting the poorest hardest and fastest. The Arctic is not only a victim of the change but in turn will likely reflect and magnify that change.
As an African I care about what's happening in the Arctic in part because scientists say that the unprecedented warming up here could have grave knock-on consequences for vulnerable people across the world. A warming Arctic could dramatically change weather patterns many thousands of miles away.
At some point we have to draw a line and say: no more, and I say we draw that line here and now in the Arctic ice. I say we draw it in the world’s rainforests. I say we draw it in the wake of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, I say we draw it when someone proposes wasting billions on new fossil fuel stations when they should be investing in energy efficiency and clean, safe and secure renewable energy sources.
As I sit in jail, a Cairns dangerous drilling rig gets closer and closer to the oil and gas it is looking for, closer and closer to the spill zone, where a deep water blow-out could happen. Yet we are no closer to seeing their secret clean up plan.
As they drill deeper and deeper under the Arctic the world spins closer and closer to a climate tipping point, a point of no return in which our fossil fuel burning creates climate chaos, propelling extreme weather events, sea level rise, hunger and conflict.
Nature has presented us with warning and with that warning comes a test. An intelligence test, one we cannot afford to fail. How we respond here and now will decide what kind of world we are going to live in and what kind of world we will pass on to our children....
My stay in Nuuk will be a short one, soon I am likely to be set free and deported. But, I will think of Nuuk and the lesson of the metaphor of deep drilling in the Arctic when I return home to Durban in November. When I lobby and demand a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement at the 17th annual UN meeting designed to save the climate.
Let’s not be stupid, let’s say no to Arctic oil and yes to a world free of the threat of catastrophic climate change.

The US 'Drug War' has been the single most devastating, dysfunctional policy since slavery.

By Pam Johnson
WASHINGTON, Jun. 21, 2011 (IPS/GIN) - Exactly 40 years after former United States President Richard Nixon labeled his administration’s drug policy a "war" in 1971, a huge coalition of civil rights leaders, advocates and educators converged in Washington D.C. to expose an on-going conflict that they believe is less ‘a war on drugs’ and more an assault on the rights of African Americans in the 21st century.
"The War on Drugs has not failed to achieve its purpose," Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, told a crowded room at the National Press Club here Friday. "It has certainly failed to stop the trade and abuse of drugs, but it has succeeded in its original design: to ensure profit for some, political disenfranchisement of minorities, and the structural exclusion of a people based on their race."
A 2010 report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the U.S. Department of Justice claims that a drug arrest is made every 19 seconds, making the U.S. home to 25 percent of the world’s inmates - most of them detained on non-violent charges of drug possession.
With one out of every hundred American adults behind bars, the U.S.’s bulging jails easily exceed even the prison population in China. These jails, experts say, have become the most racially biased institutions in the country.
In its 2011 annual report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented that, though African Americans comprise a mere 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for a stunningly disproportionate 35 percent of incarcerated drug offenders in the country.
While advocates such as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter used the 40th ‘anniversary’ of the War on Drugs to call attention to four decades of failed policies, leaders in the black community seized the moment to highlight the long-forgotten fact that the ‘war’ was declared on race before it was declared on drugs.
The New Jim Crow?
Today, there are more African American men in jails, correctional facilities, prisons and detention centres in the U.S. than there were slaves in 1850 - a decade before the civil war began.
In fact, more black men are behind bars in the U.S. in 2011 than in South Africa in the 1990s during the height of apartheid.
According to Michelle Alexander, author of the ‘The New Jim Crow: mass incarceration in an age of colorblindness’, the War on Drugs has effectively robbed people of colour in the U.S. of their hard-won civil rights by legalising discrimination against ‘criminals’ in much the same way that the notorious Jim Crow laws legalised discrimination against blacks.
"The War on Drugs has put in place a set of policies and practices that operate to collectively lock people into a permanent second class status for the rest of their lives," Alexander told IPS. "African American men in particular are targeted by the police, stopped, searched, arrested on minor charges of possession - the very sorts of offenses that go unnoticed on wealthy college campuses across town - imprisoned and then ushered into a parallel social universe where they are stripped of their most basic civil and human rights."
"Suddenly being denied access to public housing, stripped of equal education and employment opportunities, refused the right serve on a jury - all the old forms of discrimination - are legal again once you’ve been branded a felon," Alexander added. "The drug war has been the primary vehicle of mass incarceration and this new form of racial and social control - it has been responsible for the quintupling of our prison population since the 1980s."
The report by HRW makes clear that although blacks and whites engage in drug offenses at equal rates, African Americans make up 44 percent of state convictions of drug felonies and black males are incarcerated at a rate more than six times that of whites. In fact, in 2009, one in ten young black men between the ages of 25 and 29 were imprisoned - compared to one in 64 white males.
Numbers Belie Rhetoric in On-going Conflict
"The drug war has arguably been the single most devastating, dysfunctional policy since slavery," Norm Stamper, retired chief of police for Seattle, told a press conference in D.C. last week.
Speaking on behalf of the advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - who handed over their new report ‘Ending the Drug War: a Dream Deferred’ to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske Tuesday - Stamper laid bare the details of a strategy that President Barack Obama’s administration claims to have abandoned, but is in fact still deeply rooted in the budgets and practices of virtually every law enforcement agency in the U.S.
"I was optimistic when [Kerlikowske] said, early in his tenure, that we cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem," Stamper said. "But that statement has been made and repeated on numerous occasions to no practical effect."
LEAP’s report crunched the numbers of Obama’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy budget and found that - compared to the expenditures of Republican President George W. Bush - the Obama administration approved a 13 percent increase in the Department of Defence’s anti-drug spending, an 18 percent increase in drug control funds allocated to the Bureau of Prisons, and a 34 percent decrease in support for Department of Education-sponsored awareness programmes in fiscal year 2011.
Even after adjusting for inflation, Nixon’s 100 million dollar annual drug-war budget has multiplied 50 times since 1971. Despite the government’s National Drug Assessment’s finding that narcotics are cheaper and more easily accessible than ever before, the current administration has requested 26.2 billion dollars to continue fighting the war.
Contrary to claims by government officials, the Drug War is far from over - leading experts and advocates to call for urgent mobilisation.
"Nothing short of a major social movement has any hope of ending mass incarceration in America," Alexander told IPS. "In order to go back to pre-Drug War incarceration rates we would have to release four out of five prisoners; a million people employed by the criminal justice system would lose their jobs; private prison companies would be forced to watch their profits vanish; but it can be done," she added.
"Many people argued that Jim Crow was so deeply rooted in our political, economic and social structure that it would never die and the same is being said today, but the reality is that when people awaken to the injustice of a system and discover their own voice it is possible to end it," Alexander told IPS. "Just like advocates were able to bring Jim Crow to its knees in a remarkably short period of time, I believe it is possible to end the drug war and this system of mass incarceration as well.