Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Summer in March

http://bit.ly/GRGbPD Summer in March? I ask the experts, Joe Romm of Climate Progress, and Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. Then we visit with Professor Raymond De Young.

When we get exciting weather, it's hard to beat the Dr. Jeff Masters blog at the Weather Underground. Jeff has taught meteorology, he's been a Hurricane Hunter for NOAA, and still watches storms and all forms of strange weather.

A BUNCHA HOT MARCH LINKS FOR YOU

Here is a link to Jeff's key blog post on "Summer in March".

In the interview, I also reference this article from Andrew Freedman of Climate Central. His piece was titled "Global Warming May Have Fueled March Heat Wave Odds." And this is what Dr. James Hansen of NASA has been saying: we wouldn't see these extreme heat events so often, without the greenhouse gases we've added to the atmosphere.

Also at wunderground.com, your weather historian Christopher C. Burt posted some neat graphics and a thorough listing of the new heat records set. Our listeners from the Mid-West, through New England and all of Eastern Canada can find the new and old records here.

And it wasn't just in North America. The UK Telegraph headline Friday March 23rd: "UK to be as Hot as the Sahara This Weekend." Britain hit 20 degrees C, a balmy 68, the day before, a temperature normally seen in June.

You can find Bill McKibben (350.org) talking with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about the weird March weather here.

I also like this blog entry at the Washington Post from "the Capital Weather Gang".

For more on impacts on crops, here is another radio piece from IPR.

CBS did a decent piece on the impact of early Spring/summer weather for allergy sufferers.


DOWNLOAD THE JEFF MASTER INTERVIEW (15 min)
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JOE ROMM FROM CLIMATE PROGRESS WEIGHS IN

Summer in March... is it a preview of global warming? Our guest has a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He was a top advisor for energy efficiency and renewables in the Clinton Administration. Joe Romm is author of the book "Hell and High Water". But many of us know him as the world's best climate blogger over at ThinkProgress.org.

Here is Joe's great piece on the March heat wave. He's so good at summing up for busy people, targeting what really matters.

On the agricultural damage caused in Texas by the big heat and drought of 2011, see Joe's other post here.

DOWNLOAD THE JOE ROMM INTERVIEW 17 min (separately)
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"I'M A CLIMATE SCIENTIST" - THE VIDEO!

Young climate scientists have heard enough from old weathermen and fake experts. A group of real scientists rolled out this quick song on You tube. My thanks to VR in Colorado for this G-rated version.

Here is a link to the clean version of "I'm a Climate Scientist" as a You tube video (OK for FCC broadcast regs). My thanks to VR in Colorado for creating the fun clean version for Radio Ecoshock.


RETHINK AND RELOCALIZE - RAYMOND DE YOUNG

Raymond De Young is an academic who isn't working for a military think-tank, or explaining why we should just keep climbing the consumer ladder. His "Localization Reader" will likely fall into hands that get dirty in gardens, and active in your community.

De Young is Associate Professor of Environmental Psychology and Planning, in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, at the University of Michigan.

DOWNLOAD RAYMOND DE YOUNG as a separate interview (24 minutes)
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I came upon Raymond's work through the psychologist Carolyn Baker. Carolyn has the "Speaking Truth to Power" web site, and a great alternative headline news service. She passed on an article about how to survive our knowledge of a society under extreme stress - with a technique as simple as a walk in the park. The article is titled "Restoring Mental Vitality in an Endangered World: Reflections on the Benefits of Walking".

This really struck a chord with me. I walk through some trees, or along a stream, every day of the year. I've had a few almost hallucinogenic moments just looking at the delicate patterns in a patch of weeds. Should we worry about all the millions of minds who have departed for electronic screens, living in electrons?

Here is where to find Raymond's blog "The Localization Papers".

Along with Thomas Princen, De Young has selected a bunch of useful papers on relocalization, for a new book, "The Localization Reader, Adapting to the Coming Downshift" coming from MIT Press.

I like the mix of papers. You get classic works from people like M. King Hubbert, Joseph Tainter, Ivan Illich, and Wendell Berry. But they've also captured some of the new relocalization voices like Sharon Astyk and Rob Hopkins.

In our interview, I ask what De Young means by "downshift". It turns out it may be a more positive substitute for "collapse." De Young describes it more like deciding to shift down a gear in a car, as we shift downwards in our unnecessary consumption of resources, indeed of the Earth.

In the end, we get back to the problem of surviving the tidal wave of bad news, hitting us every day. I ask De Young how he copes, and is there more the rest of us can do, to maintain our vitality?

Neither of us are saying we should be "suzy sunshine" all the time. A bit of depression and cynicism is also healthy, given the slightly suicidal path our civilization is taking at the moment.

MY COMMENTS

When it comes to the un-natural heat in March 2012, we all have news images that stick in our minds. For me, it was a farmer in the wheat belt, looking over a bare field that should have been several feet deep with snow. He worried it would be too dry to plant wheat this year.

Canadians and Americans dug out their shorts, or even their bathing suits in March. I hope this will this get people talking more around the dinner table about climate change.

Then we have a horrible paradox to deal with: people like going to the beach much more than they like a March blizzard. At first, millions of us are going to love global warming. Could that defeat action to save a livable world?

Polls seem to show more North Americans believe climate disruption is happening. Yet in Canada, the Prime Minister is busy gutting environmental laws, to speed up construction of Tar Sands pipelines. In the United States, President Obama is bragging about all the pipelines he's approved. Aren't we driving awfully hard to make sure a climate disaster happens?

I feel like a kind of climate quake has just happened in North America and Britain. Sure it's just weather, but millions of people got a taste of the future.

That's it for Radio Ecoshock this week. I trust your life will never be the same. It's all changing my friend. Set your clocks for a future not advertised on TV.

Our background music was provided by Vastmandana. Don't forget our web site, ecoshock.org. Tune in next week, and please tell your friends about this program. Before it's too late?

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Go Green Media

http://bit.ly/GJPcvJ How can we be optimistic? Publisher of The Mother Earth News, Bryan Welch. From D.C. Environmental Film Festival, Harry Lynch, Director of "Switch", Alexandra Cousteau, and Robert Cole.

This week on Radio Ecoshock, we go green media. You'll hear an interview with Bryan Welch, publisher of the Mother Earth News and the Utne Reader. Then off to the D.C. Environmental Film Festival, to talk with directors and producers of the energy film "Switch" and previews of the Blue Planet North America Expedition.

Radio Ecoshock correspondent Gerri Williams is joined in our Washington Pacific studio by Alexandra Cousteau, and film-makers Robert Cole and Harry Lynch.

BRYAN WELCH - ALTERNATIVE PUBLISHER AND HOMESTEADER

Let's go to Bryan Welch - why is he so optimistic, in these difficult times?

He's the publisher of some of the only magazines I still read: Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, and Grit. Starting as a journalist, Bryan is now a successful businessman - and still a homesteader in Kansas.

I begin by admitting Radio Ecoshock may be the most depressing program on radio. We have scientists, oil experts, and economists explain our coming doom. Bryan has written a book saying there may be a better way.

It's called "Beautiful and Abundant, Building the World We Want".

Abundant? What about peak oil, climate catastrophe, reduced consumerism? I ask Bryan to explain.

He begins by pointing our humans have gone through periods of extreme creativity. For example, in a 15 year period around the turn of the century we invented bicycles, cars, airplanes, radio, and many other things. In that same time, Einstein developed a theory of light, energy, and the universe itself.

As the need becomes apparent, we may experience a new burst of creativity to help solve our problems, Welch says.

But these technical accomplishments require a "grand vision" of how humans could be sustainable in the long term on this planet. For this Welch suggests 4 criteria for sustainability (and he uses these in the operation of his various business ventures as well.)

FOUR CRITERIA OF SUSTAINABILITY

Number one: does it create beauty? That might not be intuitive as first on your list. But Welch says humans are attracted to beauty, and it motivates them in powerful ways. A new technology, or even a political movement, needs an inherent beauty to be communicated, to be successful.

Number two: does it create abundance? In the oil industry, we expect any worthwhile source to create much more energy than goes into producing it. Investors expect more than just a meager return. Perhaps this expectation of abundance, especially in planet-saving technology, is a requirement. Especially if it must help billions of people. Small thinking need not apply.

Welch also thinks capitalism, properly and honestly applied, is still the best system. Again, abundance is required, because we need an excess, known as "capital" to develop still more innovation.

Number three: is it fair? This is kind of a balance to the requirement of abundance. It's not enough to make a few people rich, and certainly that isn't sustainable if the technology ruins the commons all humans and other life forms need to survive. There are cases in capitalism where everyone seems better off, through the innovation and production, Welch thinks. There is a lot more to this one, which helps guide the way business should operate to be sustainable, and the way communities and whole societies need to think things through.

Number four: is it contagious? What good is the best idea or tech if nobody really wants to spread it around? Especially if our time is limited (it is) - changes need to move fast to succeed, and that means motivating people.

THE LIMITATIONS OF ENVIRONMENTALISM

Given the above, Welch thinks greens have not been effective communicators. Enviros don't talk enough about beauty, abundance, fairness, and contagious thinking to reach the mass public. Bryan, who includes himself as a long-term environmentalist, says we have alienated a lot of people, by not using effective communication strategies.

As an aside, Radio Ecoshock has probably turned some people away, with our serious warning of dire challenges, but I feel we all have our role to play. I don't plan serious changes to the program, although I am always looking for solutions I can believe in, or methods our listeners can use to cope with the stress of knowing things are not going well for the planet.

When I question Welch on how abundance is possible, given limited resources and growing billions who want to consume more - he answers we can choose our future, by choosing our population numbers. If we can control population, we can plan for vast areas of wilderness, and there should be abundant resources for a sustainable lifestyle.

HOMESTEADING IN KANSAS

Bryan helps to balance his own consciousness, and experiments with things you might find in The Mother Earth News, on his 50 acre homestead in Kansas. He raises chickens, goats, cattle, and I presume vegetables. Welch thinks a daily engagement with nature on some level helps to keep us more sane.

Homesteading also helps make Welch more optimistic. He sees nature solving problems, and meets others working on the land, that seems to make people happier, and more hopeful of finding solutions.

THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT?

Let's face it. Bryan Welch is now a multi-multi millionaire. While he's retained a kind of common-person's state of mind, willy-nilly he is part of the 1 percent. So I ask him: what does he think of the Occupy movement?

"We're really at a watershed moment for business, as well as for humanity in general."

After saying Capitalism is pretty new, only known for a couple of centuries, he sees the need for a new variation which expects benefits for all people and for nature. There is no reason this could not be done, Welch says.

He likes the Occupy movement, and particularly the version he saw in Occupy Fayetteville Arkansas. Occupy people set out to help their communities, finding practical things that need to be done, while calling for a new vision for the system.

Bryan thinks the real opportunity to change corporate practices that are harmful is through consumer demand, and consumer action. Welch says corporations "turn on a dime" as soon as they see a tide of consumer reaction. If we keep buying sustainable products, and move away from corporations that are damaging the planet, that will reshape society, he tells us.

PRINT VERSUS ONLINE?

I ask this major alternative publisher how print magazines, like the Mother Earth News, or the Utne Reader, can survive the onslaught of Net publishing and free information?

Welch isn't at all concerned. In fact, they get more print subscribers from their web sites, than from any other sources. Plus, like all publishers, they are moving more content to the Net. Now thirty percent of all their revenues come from digital content.

Still, Bryan asks, why is there a Wired Magazine? Even the most committed Net people still want some of their information in print form, obviously. As a personal aside, I would want a stack of Mother Earth News magazines, in print, at my homestead, or even in a "city-stead" - because if the power goes out, or gets too expensive, or some super-bug or solar storm takes down the Net (could happen!) - I want my tips on how to get extra cucumbers to be available to my grubby hands.

The main company, Odgen Publications, is also experimenting with more video content.

At the same time, The Mother Earth News hopes to connect more people on a face-to-face level. The Mother Earth News Festivals may expand from 2 per year to more events. The next one is in Pallyup Washington on June 2n and 3rd. Since that is near me, I am toying with the idea of going, and maybe doing some interviews and research on new products there.

Read Bryan's blog here.

You can download a CD quality version of just this 23 minute Bryan Welch interview here, or a faster-downloading Lo-Fi copy here.

FROM GREEN MAGAZINES TO FILM: THE D.C. ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012

From the Washington DC studio of WPFW Pacifica radio, Radio Ecoshock correspondent Gerri Williams takes us to the D. C. Environmental Film Festival.


"SWITCH" TO FUTURE ENERGY

The first film interview is with Harry Lynch, the Director of the new film "Switch".

Download this interview by Gerri Williams here.

The basic story line: Texas scientist and energy Professor Scott Tinker sets off around the world, to find out what can possibly power our planet in the future.

The result is film footage you have probably never seen. They go to Iceland, and look at perfectly clean geothermal energy, tapping natural steam. Of course not everyone has that easy resource.

Tinker looks at big solar and wind installations in various parts of the world. Then he calculates how many of them we would need to power a modern society.

The fearsome part comes as Tinker meets with various experts, who add the energy needs of China and India to the mix. All of a sudden the problem of SCALE comes up. Things that work on a small scale, may be next to impossible for the world as whole, the film suggests.

They look at fossil fuels, including footage at giant offshore oil rigs normally not allowed, and ditto deep in coal mines.

Nuclear power plants, and their economics, are part of the film.

In a twist, Dr. Tinker decides to measure his own energy imprint, as he travels about. It's not just about air miles, but all the products you and I use on a daily basis. He calculates it all, and the numbers are pretty frightening. Now multiply that by a billion, and our energy plans fall apart.

Global warming, and the need to slash emissions, are not left out of the film. Neither are they central to it. Tinker does acknowledge fossil fuels will need to be phased out, for various reasons, and he's looking for the big fix.

Gerri and I want to add one caution about this film "Switch". The film-makers seem to take for granted our continuing massive use of energy. There is no talk of energy descent, or economic collapse. The need to decarbonize is acknowledged, but the film-makers, especially Dr. Tinker, seem comfortable with a 30 year transition period, which includes nuclear and fossil fuels like natural gas.

Fukushima in my opinion showed nuclear power can destroy a big region, if not a whole country. Climate scientists warn we must act now, within the next ten, not thirty years, or risk catastrophic climate change.

You should know that Dr. Scoot Tinker is totally connected to the oil industry. His bio reads, quote:

"Dr. Tinker worked in the oil and gas industry for 17 years in research, exploration, and development, prior to coming to The University of Texas at Austin in 2000." He is a past President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists."

We might find it unlikely a man of his background will suggest we decentralize using totally renewable energy, - very, very quickly. But I won't speak for Dr. Tinker. You need to make your own conclusions from the film.

Teachers who plan to use this film, backed by the industry-friendly American Geosciences Institute, should be ready to encourage students to learn from the breath-taking shots of big power operations, but to question our continued dependence on them.

Director Harry Lynch also describes an innovative use of film on the web site. The plan to offer short (3 to 5 minute) clips that can be assembled in various ways according to your interests. Say you just want to learn about renewables: fine, make your own movie! It's a good concept.

Find out more at the "Switch" web site.

BLUE PLANET NORTH AMERICA EXPEDITION

Our next interview with Gerri Williams is less controversial. Let's get back to the studio, to find more from the D.C. Environment Film Festival 2012.

In her next interview, Gerri has two guests: Alexandra Cousteau, and Robert Cole.

Yes, Alexandra Cousteau is the granddaughter of the famous underwater film maker Jacques Cousteau. Alexandra learned to dive at age 7. She's just finished a tour, and a film, about the magic and the sad state of American Rivers.

For example they interviewed and filmed along the Colorado River, which has been robbed of waters before it can reach the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Other rivers have been heartlessly polluted or built-up - but Alexandra maintains some optimism. Other rivers are much cleaner than they were 30 or 50 years ago. (Perhaps that is a mix of Clean Water legislation, and the deindustrialization of America.)

Also joining Gerri, is Robert Cole. More than twenty five years ago, Cole made a documentary about the river flowing into the nation's capital, the Potomac. It is called "Potomac American Reflections", expressing what the damage to the river says about American society. Now that film is being reshown again.

Robert Cole is less optimistic. He sees progress as lamentably slow, even for a river which flows through Washington D.C.

I like these interviews. There is a good exchange, and lots to learn about more than rivers. Who are we? What do we want and what will we tolerate? Do rivers have rights to exist on their own? How can film and radio help that discussion?

That's it for Radio Ecoshock this week. My thanks to our D.C. correspondent Gerri Williams. Be sure and join us again next week.

Alex
Radio Ecoshock

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fukushima Disaster - One Year Later

http://bit.ly/wS7C5M From "Fukushima Nuclear Disaster - One Year After" nuke expert Arnold Gundersen & 2 Japanese activists from Fukushima. Radio Ecoshock 120314

Music bed credit: drums by Vastmandana

On the anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster in Fukushima Japan, I am taking you with me to a heart-breaking conference organized by physicians, to assess the on-going damage.

You will hear the latest from nuclear engineer Arnold Gundersen, just back from Japan. He'll tell us about continuing dangers, spreading waste throughout the country, and radiation in North America, from trees to seafood.

More important still, two Japanese activists tell us how citizens in Fukushima Prefecture are coping. How, in the face of organized denial by governments and universities, they are acting to protect their children.

This story goes well beyond the melt-down of three reactors still out of control in Japan. Listen closely, and you hear how governments fail their citizens in emergencies. How they lied after the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear accidents. And why you must be prepared to organize your local community when any kind of disaster strikes.

Whether it's a hurricane like Katrina, big floods or tornados, governments cannot, and will not, save us.

This conference was in Vancouver, March 11th 2012. "The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster One Year Later" was organized by Physicians for Global Survival, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Simon Fraser University, and other medical organizations in British Columbia. It was recorded by Alex Smith for Radio Ecoshock.

Let's start with the clearest most honest voice, right from the start of the Fukushima disaster, Arnie Gundersen of fairewinds.com

[Gundersen - main speech 31 min]

Gundersen's talk is filled with important information about the situation in Japan - with implications for American reactors.

We could talk about the weakness of the Mark I GE reactors. Their bad design makes them prone to melt-downs. Everyone knows it, including the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, the NRC. Fukushima, with its three operating Mark I type reactors, proved. So why are there more than a dozen similar reactors still running in the United States?

Gundersen explains why this design fails in such dangerous ways.

Then we have the extreme health danger to the people of Japan, especially women and children. Gundersen departs from the official Japanese position that no one has died, and there is a very low health risk. In fact, our speaker predicts a million cancers from Fukushima radiation in Japan in the next 20 years.

Is he an ill-informed fringe speaker? Hardly. Arnie Gundersen worked in the industry, helped write the official government handbook on decommissioning reactors. He's been an official witness in all sorts of inquiries and law cases.

Gundersen explodes the myth that the American Three Mile Island reactor melt-down (and it was a melt-down, though seldom reported as such) - killed anyone. In fact, peer-reviewed studies and reports show a higher cancer death among those people exposed to TMI radiation.

Arnie works from peer-reviewed papers on Chernobyl deaths, and Three Mile Island, comparing that to the radiation dose experienced by the population of Japan. The results look terrible. We'll find out in the coming years.

While in Japan in the last few weeks, Gundersen took a soil sample from five random locations in Tokyo. He brought them back to the States for testing. All five would be classified as "nuclear waste" in America. The residents of Tokyo are walking around on nuclear waste.

The Fukushima one year anniversary conference, organized by Physicians for Global Survival, was attended by doctors, experts, and concerned Japanese people. The questions were penetrating. I play you the complete Question and Answer exchange with Arnie Gundersen.

He explains the forests of Japan were so contaminated with radiation, that when cedar buds open again this spring that will initiate another wave of radioactive Cesium into the environment.

Gundersen calculates that due to the favorable winds during the major releases at Fukushima, about 20 percent of the radioactive plume fell on the Japanese mainland. Another 78 percent dropped into the Pacific Ocean - and two percent of that radiation reached North America, particularly hitting the Cascades region of the West Coast.

A few cedar buds sent to Gundersen from California, right after the winds reached North America, proved positive for the two types of Cesium that could only have come from a fresh nuclear accident (and not from earlier atomic bomb testing.) But Arnie doesn't think there will be any significant re-release of Cesium in North America when cedar buds open there.

However, some seaweed and other sea products were lightly radiated by the accident on the Pacific Coast. But the real concern in North America would be the large migratory fish circulating in the Pacific, like tuna, and especially salmon. The current sea food is safe, because those fish, and those polluted currents, have not reached North America yet. The 2013 fish catch might be suspect.

The authorities in North America have resisted testing Pacific fish for safety, and in some case promised not to test it. Gundersen wonders whether we will find out if a fishing boat sets off alarms set in ports to detect nuclear threats from terrorists. Perhaps public pressure will force the governments to test Pacific fish products in a thorough manner?

In the Q and A, I asked Gundersen about the Japanese government policy to distribute debris contaminated with radioactivity to various parts of the country for disposal, including incineration. Gundersen says this is the very wrong way to go. For one thing, it will make future studies of cancer more difficult, since all of Japan will be irradiated, instead of just the area around Fukushima and the East coast of Japan.

The more serious threat is to spread the danger to the whole country, physically, and by releasing more radioactive particles into the air (they don't burn). Gundersen suggests Japan should ship all contaminate debris to the exclusion zone around Fukushima, and admit the truth, those residents will never be allowed to go back home. At least this would prevent the further spread of radioactive materials.

This entire presentation by Gundersen, both the speech and Q and A, are too loaded with information to summarize it all here. You just have to listen.

As a follow-up, discover a series of helpful videos on Fukushima at the Gundersen's web site, fairewinds.com

This is the Radio Ecoshock special on the one year anniversary of the terrible triple melt down of reactors in Fukushima Japan. I've covered this story since the day it happened. Find our half dozen one hour specials on Fukushima at our web site, ecoshock.org.

Now it's time to hear citizen activists from Fukushima Prefecture. We start with a shocking apology to the world, from Aya Marumori. She is Executive Director of health, at the Japanese non-profit group CRMS. Aya volunteers in shelters in Fukushima, meets with doctors, and helps parents create "Life Notes" to monitor radiation impacts in their kids.

She begins with this admission, not unusual among people in Japan, who know the horror of nuclear radiation, and deeply regret being part of its release into the Pacific, North America, and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere:

"I have known the danger of nuclear power plants, but I have not acted enough to stop it. I like to apologize that this has happened, and radiation has been defusing to the world - till now."

She goes on to tell us about public opinion polls in Japan. In a country and culture of consensus, more than half the people no longer trust the government. That is a stunning change in Japan. Most people in the Fukushima area feel great stress, daily. More than half of women with children would move away if they could, polls show.

Aya Marumori, from the Japanese NGO called CRMS, if very informative about the real situation in the region hit by Fukushima radiation.

Next we hear about citizen efforts to do their own radiation monitoring, helped by donations of equipment from France and Belarus. Wataru Iwata represents the Citizens' Radioactive Measuring Stations, CRMS. He gets help from the French group CRIIRAD, to measure radiation in the air, in food, and in peoples' bodies.

We are told that CRMS had to appeal to specialists outside the Fukushima region - because the government and Fukushima University have a prepared line for all local doctors - which minimizes the risk, and downplays peoples' anxiety.

For the same reason, this local NGO is organizing an international conference for early June, to bring in other opinions from other countries. Local people feel the need to defend their own interests and lives, especially to protect their families.

It is heart-breaking, to find the government refuses to do adequate testing, to protect young lives, to admit the awful truth of radiation.

This recording by Alex Smith comes from the conference “The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster One Year Later" held in Vancouver, Canada on March 11th, 2012.

The conference was Physicians for Global Survival, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and other medical organizations. Find a complete listing of speakers here.

I think this Fukushima story is much more than the death knell for nuclear power on planet Earth. We can't handle a technology that can destroy an entire country, while polluting a whole hemisphere, for thousands of years.

It's also a case of how big governments gather up to protect the status quo, to minimize serious problems. They fail to protect their own citizens. Only you and I, organizing at the local level, can ensure survival when disaster strikes. Don't wait. Organize and act now.

I'm Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and caring about your world.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Private Spies: WikiLeaks Outs Stratfor

http://bit.ly/Avg7gI Julian Assange of Wikileaks reveals private intel company Stratfor spying on NGO's, helping big corporations and banks with government secrets. Ecoshock 120307

Today on Radio Ecoshock you will hear about the brave new world of privatization of intelligence services, global corruption, and abuse of media services for propaganda, big corporations, and private gain. This whole program lets you hear what mainstream media fails to deliver. You will hear critical excerpts from a media press conference in London, February 27th, 2012.

We begin with Julian Assange, the Editor in Chief at WikiLeaks, announcing the first batch from a treasure trove of 5 million emails, hacked from the private intelligence agency Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc.)

Stratfor is based in Texas. It hires senior U.S. intelligence agents, and draws up plans for the American Air Force and Marines. Stratfor publishes a newsletter costing thousands of dollars, with 300,000 subscribers, many of them in governments around the world.

SPYING FOR CORPORATIONS - AGAINST NGO's

According to the emails, the company also holds private consultations, and undertakes spying operations, even subversion, of public interest and political groups, on behalf of major corporations.

Stratfor was hired by the Coca Cola Company to investigate PETA, People for the Investigation of Animals, in Canada. The soft drinks company was a major sponsor for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and feared actions against Canada's seal hunt.

As a measure of the compromise of government secrets available to private intelligence companies, Stratfor emails suggest the company would use full access to FBI files on PETA, who have been labeled "terrorists" for the convenience of the massive American pharmaceutical industry.

The company brags about its possession of top secret classified American documents, including information on drone strikes, and materials from Osama Bin Laden's safe house.

We await the investigation and prosecution of Stratfor for these breaches of American law.

THE CHASE TO "GET" JULIAN ASSANGE

Instead, the emails show a close collusion between several government agencies and Stratfor, in a campaign to capture and jail Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

Stratfor’s Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, Fred Burton, is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State’s counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service. WikiLeaks has found a secret email from early 2011 from Burton, saying a sealed indictment against Julian Assange has already been issued by a secret Grand Jury in the United States. In expletive laced emails, Burton plots with others to bankrupt Assange, to have his Australian citizenship revoked, to have Assange extradited to the U.S. for a lengthy prison term, if not for life.

Julian Assange has been held in Britain for more than a year, waiting on a case for extradition to Sweden, on sex charges which even Stratfor employees, according to the released emails, do not believe.

HOW THE HACKED DOCUMENTS ARE BEING PROCESSED

The hackers group Anonymous hacked into the 5 million emails of Stratfor, where security was ridiculously lax. They delivered the whole batch to WikiLeaks, who organized a team of more than 25 world media outlets to analyze the mountains of information. The press conference featured journalists from the U.S., Britain, Italy, Spain, and Lebanon. Also presenting were the media activist group "The Yes Men" and UK charities representing victims of the 1984 Bhopal pesticide horror - all spied on by Stratfor on behalf of the Dow Chemical company, current owners of the still poisonous Bhopal site in India.

You need to understand how corporations and big governments team up against their own citizens, to preserve the rights and profits of the 1 percent.

Before we hear the other activists and journalists, let's get back to the opening remarks by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks speaking at the WikiLeaks press conference titled "The Global Intelligence Files" in London, February 27th. This is Radio Ecoshock.

Leaks of emails from the private intelligence company Stratfor reveal the company spies on activist groups and non-profits, even charities helping medical treatment for victims of corporate accidents.

THE YES MEN

The Yes Men kicked it off by announcing, on BBC, that Dow Chemical company had finally taken responsibility for helping the victims of the Bhopal disaster, and cleaning up the site.

The world has longed to hear that Dow has done the right thing. Unfortunately, the BBC was taken in yet again by The Yes Men, the media activist group. Stratfor was called in to investigate.

From the WikiLeaks press conference, we hear Mike Bonanno of the media activists "The Yes Men" at theyesmen.org. You are listening to Radio Ecoshock highlights, lightly edited for radio, from the WikiLeaks press conference in London, February 27th. Many corporate and government relationships became clear that day.

IS STRATFOR REALLY JUST A MEDIA ORGANIZATION?

Stratfor claims publicly to be a media group, although you and I never read their publications, unless we can pay thousands of dollars for their newsletter. Inside their own emails however, the top executives make clear their roots as a private spy agency vying for global supremacy.

The difference between a real media outlet, and Stratfor, is explains in a short clip from Stephania, from the Italian news magazine L'espresso.

We find more from Carlos Enrique Bayo of the former Spanish newspaper Publico, now published as web-only.

THREE SPEAKERS FOR BHOPAL VICTIMS (spied on by Stratfor)

Then we listen to three activists helping victims of the 1984 and on-going Bhopal chemical disaster in India, as introduced by Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men.

* Colin Toogood from the UK charity "Bhopal Medical Appeal",

* Bhopal survivor Farah Edwards Khan, (her statement on You tube here)and

* UK-based Indra Sinha, author of the Bhopal-based novel "Animal's People."

NATIONAL SECURITY FOR WHO?

A reporter asks, are these emails from the private intelligence company Stratfor a danger to national security. In his response, WikiLeaks Editor in Chief Julian Assange gives us all a quick lesson on what the words "national security" have come to mean: "security" for the 1 percent who struggle to maintain their dominance over the rest of society.

We get more classic analysis from Julian Assange, the man Attorney General Eric Holder, the Pentagon, and the CEO of Stratfor hope to jail for life, for his revelations of American emails on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

THE GOLDMAN SACHS CONNECTION


One plot coming out of the emails, was the arrival at Stratfor of Shea Morenz, who was in 2009 (and perhaps after) a Director at Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs. Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched a plan to spin off the intelligence gathered into an investing company to be called "Stratcap".

The leaked emails indicate Morenz injected around two million dollars into Stratfor, and invested at least four million more into the new investment company. "Stratcap" was to be sold as an independent company - to draw investors - but the internal emails indicated Friedman told his staff Stratcap would be an integral part of Stratfor.

So what? It looks like a plan to intentionally mislead potential investors. And Stratfor would use information which is apparently gathered from its clients, including U.S. Government agencies (read the taxpayer) to make investments for profits. "Stratcap" was to be released in 2012, but that is now in doubt after these emails surfaced.

We also see how a Goldman Sachs employee, or former employee, and Wall Street generally, uses insider information for trading, information not available to the public and other investors.

MUCH MORE TO COME

WikiLeaks just released the first batch of 5 million emails hacked from one of the world's largest private intelligence companies, Stratfor. Expect more revelations in the coming months. Check the live blog at firedoglake by Kevin Gosztola, and of course the WikiLeaks pages (notice the articles on the right hand side of this page, especially the article "Stratfor on the Australian Assange".

SPYING ON THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT

During the recorded Question and Answers with the press, Julian Assange compares the way Rupert Murdoch's News of the World handled its spy and bribery scandal (at least they answered questions) to Stratfor's outright denial to explain their behavior.

One of the media partners in the WikiLeaks release is Rolling Stone magazine. Their reporter Michael Hastings found emails and other evidence that the Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Occupy Movement. Apparently the DHS wants a report on the impact of Occupy on the financial services sector.

Wait a minute; wasn't the Department of Homeland Security set up to protect all citizens against terrorist attacks? And now it has become yet another domestic spy agency on behalf of the banks and Wall Street?

Watch what you Tweet, because Big Brother, and his dog Stratfor, are spying on you. Michael Hastings reports DHS was following all social media, including Facebook, which no doubts co-operates. Just more fodder for the giant database in the sky of ordinary taxpayers who object to paying off bad debts from banking industry gambling.

THE INCOMPETENCE OF STRATFOR

Like some journalists in this press conference, some critics find Stratfor's analysis to be misinformed or even a "joke".

In an article called "McStrategy" by David P. Goldman - Stratfor CEO George Friedman's strange predictions are revealed. Friedman says Poland, of all places, will be the new powerhouse of Europe, while an alliance of Turkey and Japan will face-off with the United States. It's all in his book, available as a bonus when you sign up for a newsletter subscription!

Max Fisher, writing in The Atlantic, simply says "Stratfor Is a Joke and So Is WikiLeaks for Taking It Seriously". Well, their analysts may be incompetent, but politicians believe it, and the U.S. Marines let Stratfor do their long-range planning.

As Assange said in our recording: "These organizations because of their secrecy, corruption flourishes within them, but the other thing, and in fact it is the one thing that has really saved the world, is that incompetence also flourishes in the dark."

We wrap up the radio program with a short summary of what Stratfor is, by Julian Assange. There are really three income streams, in a multi-layered organization.

WHO GETS "NEWS" AND WHO GETS "INTELLIGENCE"

Assange raised a critical question for all of us who read "the news". As international agencies like Reuters began to lose revenues to free distribution on the Net, and their newspaper clients also suffered loses, many are tempted by, or take over by, a profitable business selling information first, or exclusively, to wealthy corporations and governments.

In fact, Reuters merged with the Thompson data empire, which also sells private reports to governments and major corporations. Did that merger taint Reuters as well, Assange asks?

(It's classic Assange analysis, not published anywhere else, as far as I know. Make sure you listen.)

We come to ask: how much of what is known is published?

Are we, the public, always the last to know, and the least informed?

Why do so many public agencies pay so much money, to get information produced at the taxpayer's expense, and supposedly protected by law?

When will those who corrupt government officials, journalists, and insiders - freely taking classified information to sell to the highest bidder - be investigated and charged?

Will the American Congress investigate Stratfor, and establish rules to govern private intelligence agencies - before they govern us?

I'm Alex Smith. Find "The Global Intelligence Files" and support the freedom of Julian Assange, at the web site wikileaks.org.

Thank you for listening.