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We can’t afford the Rich; Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett are wealthier than poorest half of US

12 Nov

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The three richest people in the US – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett – own as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, or 160 million people.

Analysis of the wealth of America’s richest people found that Gates, Bezos and Buffett were sitting on a combined $248.5bn (£190bn) fortune. The Institute for Policy Studies said the growing gap between rich and poor had created a “moral crisis”.

In a report, the Billionaire Bonanza, the thinktank said Donald Trump’s tax change proposals would “exacerbate existing wealth disparities” as 80% of tax benefits would end up going to the wealthiest 1% of households.

“Wealth inequality is on the rise,” said Chuck Collins, an economist and co-author of the report. “Now is the time for actions that reduce inequality, not tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

The study found that the billionaires included in Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest people in the US were worth a combined $2.68tn – more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of the UK.

“Our wealthiest 400 now have more wealth combined than the bottom 64% of the US population, an estimated 80m households or 204 million people,” the report says. “That’s more people than the population of Canada and Mexico combined.”

The report says the “billionaire class” continues to “pull apart from the rest of us” at the fastest rate ever recorded. “We have not witnessed such extreme levels of concentrated wealth and power since the first gilded age a century ago.”

Forbes celebrated 2017 as “another record year for the wealthiest people in America”, as “the price of admission to the country’s most exclusive club jumped nearly 18% to $2bn”. That was a tenfold increase on the amount of money needed to enter the list when it first started in 1982.

 

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Josh Hoxie, another co-author of the thinktank report, said: “So much money concentrating in so few hands while so many people struggle is not just bad economics, it’s a moral crisis.”

The report says many Americans are joining an “emerging anti-inequality movement”. “A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” it says.

The rise at the wealthiest end of society comes as one in five US households live in what the report’s authors call the “underwater nation”, with either zero or negative wealth. Inequality is even more stark among minorities. Three in 10 black households and 27% of Latino ones have zero or negative wealth, compared with 14% of white families.

Just two African Americans made the Forbes 400: Oprah Winfrey (number 264 with $3bn) and the tech investor Robert Smith (226 with $3.3bn). Five members of the Forbes 400 have Latino backgrounds, including the property magnate Jorge Pérez, the LA Angels baseball team owner Arturo Moreno and three members of the family of late Colombian beer magnate Julio Mario Santo Domingo, a major shareholder of SABMiller.

The top 25 people in the survey are all white. The richest is Gates, the Microsoft founder, with $89bn, followed by Amazon’s Bezos with $81.5bn, then investor Warren Buffett with $78bn and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with $71bn.

Since the Forbes 400 was published last month, Amazon’s share price has increased by more than 10%, lifting Bezos’s fortune to an estimated $95bn, putting him in the provisional number one spot.

 

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.  We will never be Free while the Rich Rule Over Us!! The “Rigged System” holds no future for the 99% a Political Revolution does – fah451bks.wordpress.com  

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Gar Smith: Stones to Drones: A Short History of War on Earth 

12 Oct

 

Transcript and video – Dandelion Salad Republished with permission from David Swanson at World Beyond War by Gar Smith World Beyond War, Sept. 24, 2017 October 11, 2017 Gar Smith / World Beyond War #NoWar2017 Conference,…

War is humanity’s deadliest activity. From 500 BC to AD 2000 history records more than 1000 [1,022] major documented wars. In the 20th Century, an estimated 165 wars killed as many as 258 million people — more than 6 percent of all the people born during the entire 20th century. WWII claimed the lives of 17 million soldiers and 34 million civilians. In today’s wars, 75 percent of those killed are civilians — mostly women, children, the elderly, and the poor.

The US is the world’s leading purveyor of war. It’s our biggest export. According to Navy historians, from 1776 through 2006, US troops fought in 234 foreign wars. Between 1945 and 2014, the US launched 81% of the world’s 248 major conflicts. Since the Pentagon’s retreat from Vietnam in 1973, US forces have targeted Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and the former Yugoslavia.

 

 

Wars against nature have a long history. The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world’s oldest tales, recounts a Mesopotamian warrior’s quest to kill Humbaba — a monster who reigned over a sacred Cedar Forest. The fact that Humbaba was the servant of Enlil, the god of earth, wind, and air didn’t stop Gilgamesh from killing this protector of Nature and felling the cedars.

The Bible (Judges 15:4-5) relates an unusual “scorched-earth” attack on the Philistines when Samson “caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail-to-tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails . . . and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines.”

During the Peloponnesian War, King Archidamus began his attack on Plataea by felling all the fruit trees surrounding the town.

In 1346, Mongol Tartars employed biological warfare to attack the Black Sea town of Caffa — by catapulting bodies of plague victims over the fortified walls.


Poisoning water supplies and destroying crops and livestock are a proven means of subduing a population. Even today, these “scorched-earth” tactics remain a preferred way of dealing with agrarian societies in the Global South.

During the American Revolution, George Washington employed “scorched-earth” tactics against Native Americans who allied with British troops. The fruit orchards and corn crops of the Iroquois Nation were razed in hopes that their destruction would cause the Iroquois to perish as well.

The American Civil War featured Gen. Sherman’s “March through Georgia” and Gen. Sheridan’s campaign in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, two “scorched-earth” assaults aimed at destroying civilian crops, livestock, and property. Sherman’s army devastated 10 million acres of land in Georgia while Shenandoah’s farmlands were turned into fire-blackened landscapes.


During the many horrors of World War I, some of the worst environmental impacts occurred in France. At the Battle of the Somme, where 57,000 British soldiers died in the first day of combat, the High Wood was left a burnt tumble of blasted, mangled trunks.

In Poland, German troops leveled forests to provide timber for military construction. In the process, they destroyed the habitat of the few remaining European buffalo — which were quickly cut down by the rifles of hungry German soldiers.

One survivor described the battlefield as a landscape of “dumb, black stumps of shattered trees which still stick up where there used to be villages. Flayed by splinters of bursting shells, they stand like corpses upright.” A century after the carnage, Belgian farmers are still unearthing the bones of soldiers who bled to death in Flanders Field.

WWI inflicted damage inside the US as well. To feed the war effort, 40 million acres were rushed into cultivation on acreage largely unsuited for agriculture. Lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands were drained to create farmland. Native grasses were replaced with wheat fields. Forests were clear-cut to serve wartime needs. Extensive overplanting of cotton depleted soils that eventually succumbed to drought and erosion.

But the biggest impact came with the oil-fueled mechanization of war. Suddenly, modern armies no longer needed oats and hay for horses and mules. By the end of WWI, General Motors had built nearly 9,000 [8,512] military vehicles and turned a tidy profit. Air power would prove to be another historic game-changer.


With the outbreak of World War II, the European countryside suffered a renewed onslaught. German troops flooded 17 percent of Holland’s lowland farms with saltwater. Allied bombers breached two dams in Germany’s Ruhr Valley, destroying 7500 acres of German farmland.

In Norway, Hitler’s retreating troops methodically destroyed buildings, roads, crops, forests, water supplies, and wildlife. Fifty percent of Norway’s reindeer were killed.

Fifty years after the end of WWII, bombs, artillery shells, and mines were still being recovered from the fields and waterways of France. Millions of acres remain off-limits and the buried ordnance still claims occasional victims.

 

 

WWII’s most destructive event involved the detonation of two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fireballs were followed by a “black rain” that pelted survivors for days, leaving behind an invisible mist of radiation that seeped into the water and air, leaving a chilling legacy of cancers and mutations in plants, animals, and newborn children.

Before the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963, the US and USSR had unleashed 1,352 underground nuclear blasts, 520 atmospheric detonations, and eight sub-sea explosions — equal to the force of 36,400 Hiroshima-sized bombs. In 2002, the National Cancer Institute warned that everyone on Earth had been exposed to fallout levels that had caused tens of thousands of cancer deaths.


In the closing decades of the 20th century, the military horror show was unrelenting.

For 37 months in the early 1950s, the US pounded North Korea with 635,000 tons of bombs and 32,557 tons of napalm. The US destroyed 78 Korean cities, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, 600,000 homes, and killed perhaps 30% of the population by some estimates. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, offered a lower estimate. In 1984, LeMay told the Office of Air Force History: “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population.” Pyongyang has good reason to fear the US.

In 1991, the US dropped 88,000 tons of bombs on Iraq, destroying homes, power plants, major dams and water systems, triggering a health emergency that contributed to the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children.

Smoke from Kuwait’s burning oil fields turned day to night and released vast plumes of toxic soot that drifted downwind for hundreds of miles.

From 1992 to 2007, US bombing helped destroy 38 percent of the forest habitat in Afghanistan.

In 1999, NATO’s bombing of a petrochemical plant in Yugoslavia sent clouds of deadly chemicals into the sky and released tons of pollution into nearby rivers.

Africa’s Rwandan war drove nearly 750,000 people into the Virunga National Park. 105 square miles were ransacked and 35 square miles were “stripped bare.”

In Sudan, fleeing soldiers and civilians spilled into the Garamba National Park, decimating the animal population. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, armed conflict reduced the resident elephant population from 22,000 to 5,000.

During its 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon admits to having spread more 175 tons of radioactive depleted uranium over the land. (The US admits to having targeted Iraq with another 300 tons in 1991.) These radioactive assaults triggered epidemics of cancers and incidents of horrifically deformed children in Fallujah and other cities.


When asked what triggered the Iraq War, former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid admitted: “Of course it’s about oil. We can’t really deny that.” Here’s the awful truth: The Pentagon needs to fight wars for oil to fight wars for oil.

The Pentagon measures fuel use in “gallons-per-mile” and “barrels-per-hour” and the amount of oil burned increases whenever the Pentagon goes to war. At its peak, the Iraq War generated more than three million metric tons of global-warming CO2 per month. Here’s an unseen headline: Military pollution is a major factor driving climate change.

And here’s an irony. The military’s scorched Earth tactics have become so devastating that we now find ourselves living — literally — on a Scorched Earth. Industrial pollution and military operations have driven temperatures to the tipping point. In pursuit of profit and power, extractive corporations and imperial armies have effectively declared war on the biosphere. Now, the planet is striking back — with an onslaught of extreme weather.

 

But an insurgent Earth is like no other force a human army has ever faced. A single hurricane can unleash a punch equal to the detonation of 10,000 atomic bombs. Hurricane Harvey’s airstrike on Texas caused $180 billion in damage. Hurricane Irma’s tab could top $250 billion. Maria’s toll is still growing.

Speaking of money. The Worldwatch Institute reports that redirecting 15 percent of the funds spent on weapons globally could eradicate most of the causes of war and environmental destruction. So why does war persist? Because the US has become a Corporate Militocracy controlled by the Arms Industry and Fossil Fuel Interests. As former Congressmember Ron Paul notes: Military spending mainly “benefits a thin layer of well-connected and well-paid elites. The elites are terrified that peace may finally break out, which will be bad for their profits.”

It’s worth recalling that the modern environmental movement arose, in part, in response to the horrors of the Viet Nam war — Agent Orange, napalm, carpet-bombing — and Greenpeace got its start protesting a planned nuclear test near Alaska. In fact, the name “Greenpeace” was chosen because it combined “the two great issues of our times, the survival of our environment and the peace of the world.”

Today our survival is threatened by gun barrels and oil barrels. To stabilize our climate, we need to stop wasting money on war. We can’t win a war directed against the very planet we live on. We need to put down our weapons of war and plunder, negotiate an honorable surrender, and sign a lasting Peace Treaty with the Planet.


Gar Smith is an award-winning investigative journalist, editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal, co-founder of Environmentalists Against War, and author of Nuclear Roulette (Chelsea Green). His new book, The War and Environment Reader (Just World Books) will be published on October 3. He was one of many speakers at the World Beyond War three-day conference on “War and the Environment,” September 22-24 at the American University in Washington, DC. (For details, include a video archive of the presentations, visit: http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2017.)

#NoWar2017 Part 6: pro-enviro & anti-war activism – Richard Tucker, Gar Smith, Dale Dewar

WorldBeyondWar.org on Sep 23, 2017

Understanding the intersection of pro-environment and anti-war activism, with Richard Tucker, Gar Smith, and Dale Dewar. Moderator: Leah Bolger

Earth First – Serve the People – Defend the Planet and all its life forms at all costs and by any means necessary! Rise Up and Defend your Mother!

 

Source: Gar Smith: Stones to Drones: A Short History of War on Earth (Transcript + Video) – Dandelion Salad

The real History; Juana Azurduy de Padilla; Bolivian guerrilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. International day of women’s rights

5 Mar

 

Juana Azurduy de Padilla was a Bolivian guerilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. It was this day in 1816 that she along with 200 Indian women on horseback, defeated the Spanish troops in Bolivia.

Juana Azurduy Llanos (July 12, 1780 or 1781 – May 25, 1862) was a South American guerrilla military leader.

She was born on July 12, 1780 or 1781 in the town of Chuquisaca, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (now Sucre, Bolivia). She was Mestizo by ethnicity, meaning she was half Spanish and half indigenous. “Her mother married into a family of property” meaning she married into a more wealthy family. Her father, however, was killed by Spaniards, and the killer apparently got away without any repercussions. She grew up in Chuquisaca and at the age of 12 joined a convent to become a nun. She was then expelled at the age of 17 because she rebelled too often. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805, a man who shared her love of the indigenous populations in Bolivia. She spoke Spanish and two South American languages: Quechua and Aymara. Juana Azurduy was born in Toroca, a town located in the Municipality of Potosí in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (present-day town of Ravelo, Potosí Department, Bolivia) on July 12, 1780. Her parents were Don Matías Azurduy, a rich white owner of many properties and Doña Eulalia Bermudes, a chola from Chuquisaca.

Upon their return they raised an army and joined in the fighting in the area. She fought a guerrilla style war against the Spanish from 1809 to 1825. On March 8, 1816, her forces temporarily captured the Cerro Rico of Potosí, the main source of Spanish silver, also leading a cavalry charge that resulted in the capture of the enemy standard. For these actions she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on August 16, 1816, by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata at Buenos Aires. However, Shortly after Juana, who was expecting her fifth child, during a battle in November 1816, she was injured and her husband was killed while trying to save her, The body of her husband was hanged by the realists in the village of Laguna, and Juana found herself in a desperate situation: single, pregnant and with realistic armies effectively controlling the territory. After giving birth to a girl, she joined the guerrillas Martin Miguel de Guemes , which operated in northern Alto Peru. On the death of this leader guerrillas north dissolved, and Juana she was forced to malvivir in the region of Salta. at which she led a counterattack to recover the body of her husband. When the Spanish eventually counter-attacked in 1818, she fled with some of her soldiers to Northern Argentina where she continued to fight under the command of the Argentinean governor/guerrilla leader, General Martín Miguel de Güemes. She was appointed to the position of commander of patriotic Northern Army of the Revolutionary Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. With this army she was able to establish an insurrection zone, until the Spanish forces withdrew from the area. She was so determined to the cause that she actually fought while she was pregnant, at one point, giving birth to her daughter, then returned to the fight soon after. At the highest point of her control, she commanded an army with an estimated strength of 6,000 men. After her military career was over she returned to Sucre (Chuquisaca), where she died on May 25, 1862. Throughout all the conflicts she lost her four sons and her husband, yet she continued to perform her duties until she retired and later died.

 

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At the time of her death, she was forgotten and in poverty, but was remembered as a hero only a century later. She was awarded the rank of general of the Argentine Army in 2009. She also has “The National Programme for Women’s Rights and Participation” of Argentina is also named after her.

A 25-ton, 52-foot-high statue of Azurduy was created in Buenos Aires and unveiled July 15, 2015. It was commissioned by Bolivian president Evo Morales, and placed in the space where a statue of Columbus has stood. As of December 2015, months after its inauguration, it shows weathering damage.

A bas relief sculpture of Juana Azurduy was on display as part of an outdoor exhibition of famous Latin Americans on the grounds of the Pan American Union Building in Washington, DC in Spring 2014. Juana Azurduy is also the subject of a children’s cartoon designed to promote knowledge of Argentine history.

 

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It’s not just racial tension; It’s White Supremacist Capitalist Imperialist Patriarchy! #BecomeUngovernable.

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