Chicago’s New Pet Peeve…Koch Brother’s Pet Coke Piles

31 Oct

by Robin

It seems that Chicago is now the new Detroit.  Or is, at the very least, suffering from one of the maladies that Detroit has been dealing with since November of 2012, when Koch Carbon, owned by the Koch brothers, began depositing huge amounts of pet coke on their leased ‘storage property’.  It’s the ‘ever growing black mountain that is unloved, unwanted, and a long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands (tar sand) boom’.  And the Chicago mountain, like Detroit’s, grows daily, at an alarming rate.

PetroleumCoke101613

The mountain of black in Detroit stirred up concern on both sides of the border, with calls for the International Joint Commission, a bilateral agency that governs the Great Lakes, to investigate the pile.  Michigan’s state environmental regulations has submitted a formal request to Detroit Bulk Storage, the company holding the material for Koch Carbon, to change its storage methods.  Michigan politicians and environmental groups have joined the cause…the clouds of black dust that the wind stirs up are not only an environmental hazard, but a health hazard as well.  Let’s face it, breathing in this stuff is the last thing anyone should be doing!  After all, coke is mainly carbon.

Koch_Detroit1

So, before anyone can even deal with the disaster in Detroit, the Koch brothers move to Chicago, and are building a mountain of pet coke there.  No, folks, they’re not about to let little problems like EPA standards and nearby residential distress bother them in the least.

The NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is investigating the Chicago sites, the BCBX and Beemsterboer facilities and the origin of the material on the sites, according to Meleah Geertsma, an attorney in the NRDC’s climate and clean air program.  The sites will be subject to permitting requirements related to fugitive dust and any run-off into the river.  Apparently these mountains of pet coke are too large to simply cover.  Scary, eh?  These piles are affecting air quality.  The neighborhoods in Chicago that are near this mountain of poison are already showing the highest toxic metal and sulfate concentration in the state.  Those things cause heart disease and asthma.

The human cost of Detroit's petroleum coke

Residents of Southeast Chicago aren’t amused by the growing mountain of pet coke piling up near their homes.  Chicago has earned the nickname of ‘the Windy City’, and when the wind blows, clouds of black dust rise from this ever-growing mountain, and cover nearby neighborhoods.  Picnic?  Not unless you want a mouthful of black dust.  Residents complain that it’s so bad they’re power-washing their homes every week to wash off the black, dusty residue.

What coke looks and feels like

Just what is ‘pet coke’?  Well, it’s a byproduct of tar sands oil.  Waste, basically, although it does have its uses.  Petroleum coke, or ‘pet coke’ is a carbonaceous solid derived from oil refinery coker units or other craking processes.  This coke can either be fuel grade…which is high in sulfur and metals, or anode grade, which is low in sulfur and metals..  Raw coke directly out of the coker is referred to as ‘green coke’.  (Don’t be fooled, there’s nothing ‘green’ about this stuff!)   Pet coke is an essential ingredient in steel-making, and for producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum. Petcoke looks similar to coal but is considered more environmentally noxious, since it has significantly higher carbon content and blows off piles more easily. Petcoke tends to have “higher metal content than coal – like nickel, vanadium and selenium,” said Meleah Geertsma, “Coal can have higher mercury content, so they’re both bad in terms of toxic heavy metals content.”

Chicago-petcoke-pile

One of the piles along the river is nearly five stories high. (Photo by Kari Lydersen / Midwest Energy News)

The pet coke mountain in Chicago starts by way of a BP (British Petroleum) refining facility in Whiting, Indiana.  It’s then sent by train, truck, or barge to the Southeast Side sites owned by KCBX Terminals.  That company is controlled by Charles and David Koch.  The bad news is…BP has plans to triple the amount stored in Chicago by the end of the year.

Writing in NRDC’s “Switchboard Blog”, Henry Henderson asks:

“Is this the vision Big Oil has for the cities of the Great Lakes?  Is this the transformation that Chicago city officials have in mind when they talk about a revitalized river system and investments in our port – a step back to the worst messes of our town’s industrial past?  Make no mistake, this is a problem.  And it is one that will be growing quickly as the region’s tar sands refinery expansion projects come online.”

A report issued from Oil Change International warned that ‘because of the production of pet coke as a result of tar sands refining, the impact of the Keystone XL is much more disastrous for the planet than previously thought, putting a strong nail in the coffin of any rational argument for the further exploitation of the tar sands.’  Let’s remember, anything not good for the planet isn’t going to be good for us, either!

The Koch brothers

The biggest question that comes to mind is…why?  Why are these mountains of pet coke sitting in Detroit and Chicago?  Why do they continue to grow?  Why are those involved in the production of pet coke so unconcerned about the health of the people who live and work near their ‘storage facilities’?  One word.  M-O-N-E-Y.  It’s all about the money, baby.  From the tar sands in Canada to the pet coke mountains growing in the US, it’s all about the money.  Koch brothers are major dealers in petcoke…to the tune of selling 11 million tons annually.

What’s even scarier is the fact that China uses pet coke as a cheap alternative to coal for generating electricity.  The Environmental Protection Agency won’t allow any new licenses permitting the burning of pet coke in the US because of the pollution potential.  But when has China ever worried about the environment, or their impact on it?  Burning pet coke will only add to the air pollution that hangs over Chinese cities in clouds of gray…obscuring visibility.  Remember the news story about the building that burned for several hours before anyone in the city noticed?  That’s pollution, my friends.  That’s terrifying pollution…because that smog isn’t staying there in China.  It enters the atmosphere and adds to the growing global warming that we’re all desperately trying to slow down…I don’t think stopping it is even possible now!

Air pollution in China

China isn’t the only customer for pet coke, however.  India and Latin American are demanding US pet coke for fueling their cement-making kilns.  Yeah, I know.  Laws requiring environmental protection aren’t very strict regarding the use of pet coke in those countries, either…if such laws exist at all.

Is there anything we can do?  I’d like to think there is.  Stand up to tar sands projects like the Keystone XL and the Flanagan Pipeline.  Demand stricter environmental laws regarding the production and storage…and use…of pet coke.  Demand fines and taxes and tax penalties and export taxes on every ounce of pet coke that is sold.  Take from those the very thing they’re after…money.  And…stand against the oil companies that continue to rape the land, whether in the US, or Canada, or somewhere else, for oil.  Educate friends and neighbors to the facts.  Demand clean energy in the form of solar and wind power.  Cut the strings that the puppet-masters…Big Oil and Mega-corporations…use to control politicians.  Vote out those who refuse to stand up for what the people want.  Elect men and women who aren’t afraid of the ‘Big Boys’.  Men and women who understand that there’s more at stake here than profit.  The future of the planet…the future of mankind…is at risk.

Sources for this article are listed below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/business/energy-environment/mountain-of-petroleum-coke-from-oil-sands-rises-in-detroit.html?_r=0

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/18/1248541/-The-Kochs-Dirty-Secret-is-Out-in-Chicago

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/business/energy-environment/mountain-of-petroleum-coke-from-oil-sands-rises-in-detroit.html?_r=0

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/10/15/2778921/koch-brothers-tar-sands-chicago/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_coke

http://www.nrdc.org/media/2013/131018.asp?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NRDCPressReleases+(NRDC+Press+Releases)

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/10/18/Petcoke-piling-up-in-Chicago-on-sites-owned-by-Koch-brothers/UPI-93111382104326/

https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/18-9

http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/10/14/first-it-was-detroit-now-petkoch-piling-up-in-chicago/

Veterans March on Washington 2013

12 Oct

Author: Robin

The last time veterans marched on Washington DC was May of 1932.  They marched then for the cash bonus for their service during World War I.  Most of the veterans had no problems with the stipulation given right after the war, that the pay wouldn’t actually touch their hands until some time in 1945.  During the “Roaring Twenties”, the economy was good, life was rosy, and no one minded the wait.

1932 march

On July 13, 1932, Brig. Gen. Pelham D. Glassford, superintendent of the Washington, D.C., police, asked a group of war veterans on the Capitol grounds to raise their hands if they had served in France and were 100 percent American.

Then the Great Depression hit.  Things were no longer ‘rosy’ for the veterans and their families.  That bonus money was needed for things like food and rent, electricity, and to pay the taxes on the family farm.  1945 was a long way off.

So they marched on DC.  Set up camp in the city.  Only to be ignored by Congress, and then forcibly evicted from the city by tanks and bayonet wielding active-duty soldiers, thanks to an order from Herbert Hoover, over-enthusiastically carried out by General Douglas MacArthur .   No doubt hearing from Hoover and MacArthur that the majority of the men were Communists, Anarchists, criminals and general trouble-makers was the only reason those soldiers obeyed, driving the men and their families from the shanty-town that had been erected.  Hungry, tired – defeated **, the men left the city in a slow parade of trucks.  Without their bonus pay.

bonus_march

In 1932, a group of WWI veterans in Portland, Ore., rallied the Bonus Army to Washington to lobby for early payment of their promised bonuses. They set up camp along the Anacostia River that May. But by July, officials lost patience and went into the camp to evict the marchers. It turned violent. A soldier torched a tent, and the Army began torching everything still standing.

Fast forward to October 13, 2013.  Veterans are again marching on Washington DC.   This time, however, they’re marching for their right to have access to the war memorials within the city.  Memorials that honor the fallen of the wars in which the US has been involved…for better, worse, or otherwise.  They’re marching specifically for access to the World War II Memorial.

The World War II Memorial, located on the National Mall in Washington DC, is a beautiful place to visit and pay your respects to World War II veterans. The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004. The Memorial is an oval shape with two 43-foot arches, representing the war’s Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Fifty-six pillars represent the states, territories and the District of Columbia at the time of the World War II. Two sculpted bronze wreaths adorn each pillar. Small fountains sit at the bases of the two arches. Waterfalls surround a wall of 4,000 gold stars, each one represents 100 U.S. deaths in the war. More than two-thirds of the memorial consists of grass, plants and water. A circular garden, called the “Circle of Remembrance,” is enclosed by a two-foot-high stone wall.

national-world-war-2-memorial

The reason for this march is because a group of children…er…oops…Republican ‘leaders’ (and I use that word loosely!) have decided that because they can’t have their way, they would shut down the government.  So shut it down, they did.

In shutting down the government, that action included shutting down the memorials to war veterans.  Wait…what?   The World War II memorial is open 24-hours per day, park rangers are on site from 9:30 am to 8 pm.  So, if the memorial is open continuously, there’s no actual requirement for the park rangers to be on site 24-hours a day.  Right?  Right!  So…why the hell are barricades being put up?  Why are the men who fought for this country, who gave up more than just a bit of their souls for this country, being denied access to a memorial that was open 24-hours a day, and only ‘manned’ 10 ½ hours per day?  Does this make sense to you?

Just Words by a politician?

It certainly doesn’t make sense to me!  In fact, I find it a slap in the face to those veterans!  It’s a political ploy.  Being used by President Obama.  Now, I happen to have voted for Obama.  Twice.  But I find this absolutely unacceptable.  “Cherry-picking” which memorials to close and which can remain open is so obviously political that it stinks.

But let’s all take a deep breath here.  What if…and this is just a theory, mind you…what if President Obama knew from the get-go that this would bring an incredible amount of attention to the whole government shutdown?  Not just mutterings and complaints among those who suddenly find themselves on unpaid vacation.  What if closing the WWII Memorial was a way of broadcasting to the entire nation…to the world…just what the result of a Republican temper tantrum looked like?

President Obama

I can’t believe for one minute that a man as smart (dare I say ‘brilliant’?) as President Obama would think that the American people, veterans in particular, would take this calmly.  I think he expected exactly what’s happening.  Perhaps he’s even counting on those veterans to once again serve their country.  By bringing to light what a childish, reprehensible act this government shutdown is.  What a political move it is.

Oh sure, there will be those who will counter that Obama is merely ticked off because the Republicans won’t accept his Affordable Health Care Plan.  Granted, the plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start to truly affordable healthcare for ALL Americans…not just those who can afford to pay for insurance premiums that rise on the whims of the insurance companies…and cover less with each cost increase.  Had the idiots in DC worked on it rather than trying to get rid of it (last vote count to bring down what is now a law – 42) it would be a better plan.  Probably a plan that everyone could get behind.  Well, not so much the drug companies or insurance companies.  After all, the limits being placed on them (which, by the way, are in place in every other country that has a national health care system!) will certainly put a damper on those triple and quadruple digit profits.

The facts of the matter are this:  the Republicans don’t like the Affordable Health Care Plan.  My theory is that their pharmaceutical and insurance company contributors are the well-paying voices behind this dissent.  They are so determined to appease these corporate masters that they’ll do anything…anything…to bring the plan to ruin.  Including shutting down the government.   President Obama, as a result, chooses to close down the World War II Memorial, among others.

The result will be a march on the capitol city by veterans and their families, planned for October 13, 2013.  It’s sure to be a media circus, with CNN and FoxNews spinning the story like crazy to fit their own agendas.

Harper Trade Deals Selling Off Canada’s Democracy

30 Sep

Written by: Murray Dobbin

Murray Dobbin is an author, broadcaster and journalist. He is the author of five books and is a former columnist with Financial Post and Winnipeg Free Press. He is a board member of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He lives in Powell River, BC.

EUTradeComic

There seems virtually no limit to Stephen Harper’s efforts to diminish government and democracy in this country. The prime minister’s obvious contempt for democracy keeps getting underlined by the grotesque corruption of the people he appoints and surrounds himself with. If he had a modicum of genuine respect for democracy he would be more careful about who he appoints to the Senate and who he allows to run for the Conservatives. More importantly, he would create a political culture that unequivocally rejects the kind of unethical behaviour that has now become the trademark of his administration. These miscreants know exactly what Harper expects of them — power at any cost and a wink and a nod at personal graft, until you get caught, of course.

That corruption and moral turpitude is bad enough (the breaking of election rules across the country may even have determined the outcome of the last election). But even worse is Harper’s determination to make it as difficult as possible for future governments to actually govern. He does this in two ways.

First, by gutting the government’s capacity to raise revenue while demonizing taxes.

His right-wing storm troopers in the media and think-tanks have made raising taxes tantamount to political suicide — even though a strong majority of Canadians say they would pay more. Harper’s strategy is much the same as that of the influential American tax-cut activist Grover Norquist, famous for saying; “Our goal is to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.”

Investment myths

The second front of this war on democracy is the plethora of so-called trade deals — really Corporate Rights Deals (CRDs) — that Harper is busy negotiating. These odious agreements are always touted for their job creating prowess — the Big Lie technique repeated over and over again. They typically jettison the best jobs. Their promoters rarely talk about the most important aspect of these constitution-busting agreements: their investment provisions.

stephen_harper-400Investment is always portrayed as a good thing, period. It creates jobs, increases tax revenues, grows the economy. But the conditions under which investment takes place can quickly cancel out many of those benefits. Just look at any Third World country and the other side of the coin: starvation wages, terrible working conditions, horrendous pollution, environmental destruction and political corruption.

While we are a long way from enduring the worst conditions of investment, the principle aim of these CRDs is to make it more and more difficult for governments to regulate and determine the conditions under which investment happens in Canada. The key provision now finds its way into virtually every bilateral investment agreement.

Since signing the pattern agreement NAFTA, Canada has signed 24 of these deals, mostly with small countries. But perhaps the most egregious of them all is the one already signed, in complete secrecy, with China: The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

What we’re poised to give China

FIPA has not been ratified yet but it threatens to give the enormous, often corrupt, always secretive state-owned corporations of China enormous power — power to hoover up dozens of energy and resource companies and prairie farm land as well as challenge any new law that attempts to ensure the public interest is being met.

It is stunningly one-sided. It is almost as if Harper is using the deal not for trade or investment at all, but to deliberately poison the legislative well so that future governments will be unable to act. The notion that this was deal was “negotiated” seems a euphemism — it might just as well have been written by China without consultation. (Come to think of it, that pretty much describes the initial Free Trade Agreement with the US, too: “Okay Sam, we’ll give you everything but that’s our final offer.”)

stephenharper_siegheil

The deal theoretically provides some protection for Canadian investment — though the corruption and discrimination against foreign companies in China is actually getting worse. But there is very little Canadian investment targeting China. One reason: According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), China is one of the most restrictive places in the world to invest, and last year it passed new restrictions based on “national security.”

Most CRDs do not bind governments for long periods of time. Canada could get out of NAFTA by giving six months notice. But the FIPA will last for 31 years — almost eight normal government mandates. We can only get out after 15 years, with one year’s notice, and all the provisions implemented to that date remain in effect for another 15 years. Did China bargain hard for this outrageous time frame — or was it the Harper government’s idea?

Crumbs for Canada

If China did bargain hard for the 31 years, why would the Harper government not demand in return something resembling fair access for Canadian investors to China? In past agreements, Canadian corporations actually helped write the provisions. Are they sanguine about getting nothing in the way of preferred access for investments and Canadian exports?

Whatever the case, Canadian governments got virtually nothing for the long timeline. It may be that Harper’s fawning commitment to the oil and gas industry is behind it. Harper’s elimination of environmental review on 99 per cent of the waterways of the country is an outrage that other political parties would be pressured to reverse if elected. FIPA, anticipating China’s increased interest on energy, would make that reversal so expensive if challenged by China that it would be all but impossible to implement.

Stephen Harper

Thanks to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s clever negotiating, China gets all of Canada’s natural resources and agriculture and Canada gets….a Panda! Great job, Stephen!

One faint hope of environmentalists after the passing of Bills C-38 and C-45 (withdrawing federal protection of lakes and waterways) was that pressure could be applied to provinces to step up and replace the law with provincial regulations. Provinces share constitutional authority over the environment with the federal government. But FIPA would allow Chinese corporations to sue all levels of government that pass legislation or regulations that reduce its expected profits. And of all the corporations in the world likely to use investor-state provisions, Chinese state-owned entities carrying out Chinese foreign policy would be at the front of the line.

The chill effect of these investor state regimes is already with us. Not a single new law protecting the environment has been passed by Ottawa since NAFTA was signed 20 years ago. Canada has already paid some $160 million in these corporate law suits and the latest one ups the ante. Pharma giant Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million in compensation over a court decision that invalidated two of its drug patents because they failed to meet the legal standard of “inventive promise.” If that suit is successful, public interest legislation of any kind that affects a corporation could simply die in its crib.

Courageous Hupacasath First Nation

And it’s not just legislation that is threatened. China has been buying farm land all over the world including New Zealand and Africa (where heated controversy has resulted). Most recently, China purchased five per cent of Ukraine’s farmland. They reportedly have their eye on Saskatchewan and there is little its government could do. The provinces don’t have legislation dealing with foreign ownership of farmland and now that the treaty has been signed, it could be too late.

Stop FIPA donation page

Except, it is quite plausible that FIPA is unconstitutional given that provinces have jurisdictions under the British North America Act that cannot be tampered with by Ottawa. The provinces are not party to the treaty, and yet their legislation could be challenged and overturned by a panel of three trade lawyers operating completely outside the political and legal institutions of the country — and in complete secrecy. Efforts have been made to lobby the provinces to formally reject FIPA. But so far — despite the posturing of premiers as mini-prime ministers for the past 20 years — not one of them has had the sense or courage to protect their own jurisdictions. (State governments in the U.S., even one far to the right, have vigorously challenged World Trade Oragnization provisions that affect them and actually prevailed.)

Perhaps they think they can get away with not paying for the judgments against their laws. They should think again. While the Harper government paid the $130-million AbitibiBowater NAFTA judgement against Newfoundland, Harper has warned he won’t do it again. “I have indicated that in future, should provincial actions cause significant legal obligations for the government of Canada, the government of Canada will create a mechanism so that it can reclaim monies lost through international trade processes.”

Who will save us from this repugnant, anti-democratic initiative? Probably no one. The only player to come to the plate has been the tiny Hupacasath First Nation of B.C., which challenged FIPA in federal court. Unfortunately the judge not only found for the government, he assessed costs to the band of over $100,000. They are appealing and are down to the wire seeking donations to help with the case.

But ultimately it is the provinces which hold the real power to save democracy.

What are they waiting for?  [Tyee]

Speaking Out by Esai Morales

24 Sep

The 26th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival: "Battlestar Galactica/Caprica"

Reposted by permission of Esai Morales and Espada PR.

FINALLY SOMEONE ASKED HIM THE QUESTION!
ON “ABC-TV” DURING THE “NETWORK SPECIAL ON HEALTH CARE”…. OBAMA WAS ASKED:
“MR. PRESIDENT WILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY GIVE UP YOUR CURRENT HEALTH CARE PROGRAM
AND JOIN THE NEW ‘UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAM’ THAT THE REST OF US WILL BE ON ????”
THERE WAS A STONEY SILENCE AS <>OBAMA IGNORED THE QUESTION AND CHOSE NOT TO ANSWER IT !!!
IN ADDITION, A NUMBER OF SENATORS WERE ASKED THE SAME QUESTION AND THEIR RESPONSE WAS.”WE WILL THINK ABOUT IT.”
President ObamaAND THEY DID. IT WAS ANNOUNCED TODAY ON THE NEWS THAT THE “KENNEDY HEALTH CARE BILL” WAS WRITTEN INTO THE NEW HEALTH CARE REFORM INITIATIVE ENSURING THAT THAT CONGRESS WILL BE 100% EXEMPT !
SO, THIS GREAT NEW HEALTH CARE PLAN THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU AND I… IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR OBAMA, HIS FAMILY OR CONGRESS…??
WE (THE AMERICAN PUBLIC) NEED TO STOP THIS PROPOSED DEBACLE ASAP !!!! THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG !!!!!
PERSONALLY, I CAN ONLY ACCEPT A UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL THAT EXTENDS TO EVERYONE… NOT JUST US LOWLY CITIZENS…. WHILE THE WASHINGTON “ELITE” KEEP RIGHT ON WITH THEIR GOLD-PLATED HEALTH CARE COVERAGES.

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather QuillIf you don’t pass this around, may you enjoy his Plan!

WHAT???
The Republic has a CONSTITUTION???

Amendment 28

Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .

Imagine what we could do if everybody passed this around.
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .

Imagine what we could do if everybody passed this around.

My Story…by Robin

22 Sep

I’m sure you’re wondering just why Patricia and I started “Mad As Hell”. Well…because we are. We’re frustrated with the ‘status quo’, and angry that our elected officials choose not to listen to those whom they’re supposed to represent, instead dancing to the tune of their corporate masters, all in the name of campaign funds.

So while the corporations embrace and flaunt their greed, demanding ever rising profits for their insatiable hunger of money and power; and the politicians, our supposed leaders, continue to enact laws that benefit the 1% and their mega corporations, the rest of us, the 99%, struggle to get by.

I wish I could say that my ‘story’ is unique. But it’s not. It’s echoed again and again and again, all around the world.

Learn more about The United States Navy

My husband was in the Navy when he and I were married. As an enlisted Petty Officer, we damned near starved to death for the first few years. As he rose in rank, the pressure subsided slightly. Circumstances saw him and the Navy parting ways in early 1986. We settled in the Great Northwest with our young son. Bill worked for a small, privately owned video store…for minimum wage. No insurance, no benefits. Again, we damned near starved to death. We didn’t qualify for any state assistance…he made $1.86 over the cut-off limit. We managed to hang on, and eventually I was able to find work at a local factory.

With luck, Hubby found a job for a small government contract company, which provided services for the Navy. We were young and hungry, and as a result, he started at a much lower wage than he should have. But, we felt that we were finally going to make it. We were going to live the American dream.

We found a house…just a small, older ranch house, about 1100 square feet. Nothing fancy, but a suitable home for a young family, with lots of potential. Within six months Hubby had his first raise. Yep, we were on our way.

Click to learn more about chemical damage - Chemtox

During this time, I was being exposed to chemicals that were toxic, although I wasn’t fully aware of how dangerous they were. I knew freon wasn’t something to play around with, but didn’t realize that sticking my hands into a vat of the liquid to retrieve components for circuit cards would damned near kill me. No, we didn’t wear gloves or have ventilators. Within eight months of taking the job I was suffering headaches and nausea. Then started having what felt like small heart attacks. Bloodwork and other tests were run on me, and I was told that I was suffering from chemical over-exposure. By this time, I was so sick I couldn’t walk down the hallway of our home without holding onto the walls. I was done working…I couldn’t even crawl out of bed to go to work. Time, and love of family saw me recovering. It would be years before the toll on my body would reveal itself.

In the meantime, Hubby continued to get raises, and by the time he’d been with the company for fifteen years, we were starting to feel as if we could actually make it on the one income. So I stayed home to raise our son. We were getting bills paid, we could eat out once in awhile, and even put money into savings.

In 2008, after the small company he had started with had been sold yet again, to a larger corporation, Hubby started feeling the dissatisfaction that accompanies working for an employer who takes perverse pleasure in letting you know that they could care less about you. “Stick your hand into that bucket of water,” he was told, “then pull it out quickly. As long as the impression of your hand remains there, that’s how long we’d miss you if you left.” So, he began looking for work.

http://www.enterprise-transformation-results.com/the-end-of-workplace-loyalty/

The End of Workplace Loyalty

Here’s where the story gets interesting. In 2008, a particular job, similar to what he was doing and qualified for, offered $65/hour. Just a bit less than what he was making at that point in time. Again, circumstances came into

play, and he didn’t apply. A year later, he was laid off, after 21 years. The reason? “Downsizing”, of course. A very nice, neat term used for getting rid of employees over the age of 45, those who made the highest salaries among the techs, those who had the ‘grandfathered’ benefits.

Learn more here

Let Go, downsized, whatever you call it, it hurts.

I watched my husband sit day after day, applying for work online, because you have to have internet access to even apply for the majority of work these days. I think the only places that still take paper applications are McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Together, we watched as wages for the jobs he was qualified for drop from $65/hour to $45/hour…to $20/hour. In a matter of six months! Now college graduates are being told that $15/hour is a ‘good wage’. Are they freaking nuts? We made $15/hour on unemployment and went into the red every month!

Luck was with us, and Hubby found a job. The kicker? It was the exact, same job he’d been looking at back in 2008. I can tell you he’s NOT making anywhere near $65/hour! In fact, as of right now, we’re living on about 1/4 of what he was making when he was laid off. Not that the cost of living has dropped at all!

I’m angry that at 55 years old, my husband is working harder, for less, than he was when he was 30. I’m furious that at the age when we should be looking forward to http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20130317/APC0350/303170321/Jobs-competition-ages?nclick_check=1retirement, we’re struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Retirement is nothing but a pipe dream, we know that he’ll be working until the day he dies. I’m ‘unemployable’ because of a back injury and the fact that I’m now very sensitive to chemicals. But, I can’t get disability, because I can’t ‘prove’ that I suffered overexposure. I can’t get disability because I can’t prove that I get migraine headaches that lay me out for days. I can’t ‘prove’ that I’m in pain 24/7, that I’ve learned to live with that pain. I refuse to do anything that will worsen my condition. So…I’m ‘unemployable’.

We played the game by the rules, only to be told that the rules had changed. Corporations continue to lay off workers with the skills and experience needed to do the job, just so they can hire young people in for a fraction of the wage, blow smoke up those young asses, telling them how lucky they are to be making a ‘professional’ wage at $15/hour. They continue to cut benefits, all the while telling employees how ‘lucky’ they are, and if they aren’t happy, that there are millions of unemployed people who will happily take their places.

People, slavery is alive and well in the US in 2013. Anyone employed is a slave to corporate greed. Anyone employed is a slave to corporate egotism. How many of you work for a company that insists that you ‘represent’ said company, so that anything you say or do, even on your own time, must meet ‘corporate approval’. Complain, and you’re either fired, or made so miserable that you quit. Any health insurance provided is just barely enough to cover any expenses, and only a few have prescription drug coverage. Wages are now hourly rather than salaried, because it’s ‘cheaper’. There isn’t sick time or vacation time. It’s PTO, ‘Paid Time Off’. You get a set number of hours per year, and that has to cover everything from illness to appointments to seeing Jr. in the grade school play. If you’re out of PTO, and have to take time off, you’re not getting paid, pal.

Learn more about living wage as a human right

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ETHICS? What happened to morality? Those things were tossed overboard for the love of money…for greed. The more profit, the better. The more profit, the more the CEOs and board members and stockholders make. Screw the employees…without whom there wouldn’t be a company/corporation.
Learn more about the system of inequality in the westAnd apparently these geniuses in the boardrooms, and on Wall Street, have forgotten that a worker who can barely pay his/her bills isn’t going to be buying much. New car? Forget it, can’t afford to pay for a car that cost more than the house I live in. Vacation? In what reality, Sparky? Even if we had the PTO hours to spare, where is the money supposed to come from. Eat out? Yeah, only if there’s a ‘2-for-1’ coupon involved. New clothes? Sorry, I shop at the thrift store now.

14% of all of the capital in the world (that’s cash flow) is held by corporations. 14%! Just before the Great Depression, it was only 2%.

WHY do corporations need to sit on BILLIONS of dollars in profits while the employees work for less than cost-of-living wages? Why do CEOs like the Walton siblings rake in BILLIONS of dollars while the majority of their employees require food-stamps to put food on the table for their children?

Learn more about Wall Street: the deification of greed hereI’ll tell you why: GREED!

I’m mad as hell. I’m not going to take it any more. The greedy bastards have pushed me to the limit. I’m determined that my grandchildren will NOT inherit a planet ruled by GREED!

I will NOT sit quietly, and watch my husband work himself into an early grave, just so some damned CEO can have his new Lear Jet this year.

I will NOT sit quietly while my rights to protest being treated like a slave are eroded.

I will NOT sit quietly and watch the world of “1984”, by George Orwell comes to pass. Or the corporate run world of “Running Man” (movie starring Arnold Schwartzenegger.)

I am MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!

I encourage you to share your story. Send an email to the Mad As Hell email address. Patricia and I will make certain that your voice is heard!

We Are Mad As Hell

14 Sep

Yes, we are Mad As Hell. In fact, we are pretty pissed off.

It seems as if the rich have the planet by the tail. They have all the power, thanks to their close business relationship with the governments of America, The U.K, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand…

Need I go on?

We know what the problems are:

Click to learn Uncle Sam Debt

Massive debts that our governments expect us to pay off, AFTER, of course, they put us in this position.

Correspendant dragged away by riot police in Australia

Military and police crackdowns on protests.

http://cartoonzone.eyeker.com/

Unemployment due to outsourcing of jobs to China, Taiwan and India.

No GMO

Lower quality food thanks to GMO or genetically modified food — no thanks.

http://www.findavet.us/category/blog/news/

Inferior products from China that are a danger to our pets, our children and ourselves.

funny_political_sheeple_sticker

Ethically and morally bankrupt politicians who work to feather their own nests at our expense.

I am sure that you can come up with more issues.

So, what do we propose to do about it?

We are going to organize a one day strike in every country in the Western world. We are going to make demands and we are going to show the governments or our respective countries that…

WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE.

All we need to know now is…ARE YOU IN?

Esai Morales – Speaking Out

3 Sep

The 26th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival: "Battlestar Galactica/Caprica"

Reposted by permission of Esai Morales and Espada PR.

Esai Morales, is an award winning actor from New York. Some of his most memorable theater performances include; Oscar Wilde’s Salome with Al Pacino on Broadway; Joe Papp‘s production of The Tempest with Raul Julia for New York’s Shakespeare in the Park Festival; Tamer Of Horses for the Los Angeles Theater Center, for which he was awarded the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award; and the San Francisco run of the musical The Mambo Kings-Morales’ musical theater debut.


His television appearances have included top shows such as Miami Vice, The Twilight Zone, Outer limits, American Family, NYPD Blue, Vanished, 24, Burn Notice, CSI: Miami, Caprica, Jericho,  La Bamba and an upcoming appearance on Criminal Minds.

Jericho - Season 2, "Condor"- Skeet Ulrich as Jake, Esai Morales as Beck
Esai is co-founder, with Sonia Braga and Jimmy Smitts, of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. A self-described “actorvist,” Morales has combined his passion and understanding of the human condition to build bridges across and beyond ethnic lines. Throughout his career, Morales has been an advocate for countless charities and causes. These causes include literacy, environment, health, immigration, arts funding and social justice issues as well as his consistent evolutionary message inspiring youth to strive towards a higher purpose and meaningful life.

Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in Caprica
He has kindly agreed to permit some of his thoughts to be posted on this blog and to write the occasional article for us.

From Esai:

On Walmart: I loved this reply to someone defending the Wallmart business model on a Huffpost article detailing brand damage of it’s workers strikes:

walmart-satan“Walmart’s refusal to pay their workers a decent wage is actually costing YOU (and me and every other American taxpayer). Because Walmart does not pay their employees enough their employees file for government assistance like section 8 housing and food stamps. So it is costing us $2.6 BILLION in tax dollars every year. If Walmart paid $2.6 billion more to their workers they’d still make $13.1 billion in profit every year and would still be one of the most profitable companies on the planet. So if you are happy having the federal government take money out of YOUR pocket so that one of the world’s most profitable companies can rake in a few extra billion dollars just keep maintaining that opinion of yours.”


On JP Morgan: To be precise, JPMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund and our own analysis of bank balance sheets. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. More important, it distorts markets, fueling crises such as the recent subprime-lending disaster and the sovereign-debt debacle that is now threatening to destroy the euro and sink the global economy.

Thomas Jefferson quote

On perseverance:
DONT QUIT!
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

– Author unknown

facebook_cartoons

On his Facebook posts: I love sharing knowledge and varied perspectives with all of you. Somehow I have to find a way to feed my family with all the time I spend here. Wondering if I should start my own News Site ala Huffington Post but without all the fluff that poses as information. On second thought, I guess people want fluff by the looks of the posts that go viral on here. A cute Chihuahua got more love on my other page than anything true and important I’ve ever posted combined. I know, I’ll start a fluff site dedicated to nothing serious at all. Ahhh, I can feel the money gearing up to roll in already… (sigh)

Facebook Privacy Policy Cartoon

On war and revolution: Saw this and HAD to share tho I’m not sure who it is written by:

“War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is.
Revolution is when you decide that for yourself.”