Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dick Cheney's Secret Energy Task Force:

Energy Task Force
On his 10th day as vice president, Dick Cheney established a secret "Energy Task Force," formally known as the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), for the purpose of making recommendations to President Bush on energy policy. In formulating a new energy strategy for America, the task force met secretly with lobbyists and representatives of the petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, and electricity industries. Many of these individuals work for energy companies which gave large campaign contributions to Bush/Cheney 2000. Environmental groups were mostly excluded from the task force.

Members of Congress demanded Cheney release the names of individuals and corporations who gave information and advice to the task force. But the vice president refused. After pressure from the General Accounting Office (GAO), the independent auditing arm of Congress, Cheney did release limited information about the task force. The GAO issued a report on the information and found several corporations and associations, including Chevron Corp. (now part of ChevronTexaco Corp.) and the National Mining Association, gave detailed energy policy recommendations for the task force.

According to the GAO's report, "senior agency officials" with the Department of Energy met "numerous times" with energy companies to provide advice to Cheney's energy task force. Those companies include Bechtel, Chevron, American Coal Company, Small Refiners Association, the Coal Council, CSX, Kerr-McGee, Nuclear Energy Institute, the National Mining Association, General Motors, the National Petroleum Council, and the energy lobbying firm of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers. In addition, the Secretary of Energy discussed national energy policy with chief executive officers of petroleum, electricity, nuclear, coal, chemical, and natural gas companies, among others. The task force even sought and received advice from the now-disgraced and bankrupt Enron Corporation.

The GAO does not know whether Halliburton was one of the companies involved in making recommendations to the energy task force. And Cheney refuses to release all the documents which can prove or disprove Halliburton's involvement, which only fuels suspicion that Cheney has something to hide.

The energy task force members include Vice President Cheney (the chairman) and the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation and Energy. The remaining members of the task force are the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and the Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs.

Note that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a member of the task force, but Cheney was quick to report that "110 EPA employees" participated in the task force's "efforts." The EPA administrator and agency staff had met with environmental and conservation organizations to help prepare the task force report, but there is no information on whether such meetings were more common than industry meetings or how often the meetings took place. The EPA had also met with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Edison Electric Institute.

The task force formally convened 10 times between January 29, 2001, and May 16, 2001. Only federal government employees attended these meetings, according to the limited information released by Cheney. But the GAO cannot confirm or deny whether individuals from energy companies met privately with the task force because, the GAO says, "no party [from the task force] provided us with any documentary evidence to support or negate this assertion." Nor will Dick Cheney voluntarily provide the information to prove or disprove it.

Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in federal court to obtain the release of all of the task force records. The lawsuit argues that in 2001 Cheney violated the "open-government" law, known as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, by meeting behind closed doors with energy industry executives, analysts and lobbyists. The lawsuit continues today. A federal appeals court ruled in July 2003 that Cheney must supply all the information requested in the lawsuit. But Cheney continues to stonewall the request. So, on December 15, 2003, the Supreme Court announced it will hear Cheney's appeal of the case. Three weeks later, Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent a weekend together duck hunting at a private resort in southern Louisiana, giving rise to calls for Scalia to recuse himself from Cheney's appeal. So far, Scalia has refused.

Public interest groups speculate the stonewalling by Cheney might be proof that the task force records show unprecedented corporate cronyism in the Bush administration, possibly showing an excessive or disproportionate influence over energy policy by Halliburton and other energy companies. The records may also reveal the true reasons for why the Bush administration demanded war with Iraq.

In July 2003, after two years of legal action through the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch was finally able to obtain some documents from the task force. Those documents include maps of Iraqi and other mideast oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, two charts detailing various Iraqi oil and gas projects, and a March 2001 list of "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts."

In January 2003, The Wall Street Journal reported that representatives from Halliburton, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron-Texaco Corp. and Conoco-Phillips, among others, had met with Vice President Cheney's staff to plan the post-war revival of Iraq's oil industry. However, both Cheney and the companies deny the meeting took place.

More Information

GAO Cites Corporate Shaping of Energy Plan

Bush's Energy Plan Bares Industry Clout: Cheney-led task force consulted extensively with corporate executives

Biggest US Power Firm Vetted Bush Energy Regulators

Congressman Waxman demands Cheney release information about Enron's contacts with the Energy Task Force

All about oil: Article explaining lawsuit against Cheney

Democratic Underground: Mr. Cheney, Step Down

GAO report on Cheney's Energy Task Force

Good excerpts from GAO's Report on Cheney's Energy Task Force

Justice Scalia's memo explaining his refusal to recuse himself

Energy task force documents released so far

Coal companies rip off miners' pensions

Coal companies rip off miners' pensions

Bill McKibben

If you go to the website of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Missouri, you can read more than 1,000 letters from retired coal miners and their widows.
Their words are like the lyrics to an endless Johnny Cash ballad, and even more heartbreaking. They tell the eternal tale of the greedy few, this time playing out in real time in our America.
Here’s the story: In the fall of 2007, Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), the coal-mining giant, spun off all its unionized mines into a new company, Patriot Coal Corp. (PCXCQ) In the process, it got rid of the promises it had made over generations to coal miners and their families.

Or, as Peabody’s chief executive officer put it, “We’re reducing our legacy liabilities roughly $1 billion.” This was such a good idea that another coal giant, Arch Coal Inc. (ACI), unloaded its union mines on Patriot as well, though it cycled them first through yet another front. All totted up, Patriot now had 10,000 retirees and their health-care benefits on its books. This company was designed to fail. Patriot is almost certainly the only five-year-old company on earth with three times as many retirees as employees, 90 percent of whom never worked for the company. And fail it did, declaring bankruptcy last summer. Now it’s going through Chapter 11 reorganization and hoping to emerge freed of its obligations for the pensions and medical care of those miners. [...]

In a corporate sleight-of-hand, the promises won with a lifetime of hard work and hard bargaining disappeared first into a holding company. Now, if the bankruptcy judge agrees, they will disappear into thin air. [...]

And in this case, Patriot is doing nothing to hide its fat- cat heart. Its bankruptcy advisers billed $2,635 for a single dinner; the company is even now seeking court permission to hand out $6 million in bonuses to executives.

I’m an environmentalist. I think we can’t keep burning coal because the carbon it produces is, right this moment, melting the Arctic, acidifying the ocean and raising the temperature of the earth in ways that most climate scientists think endanger the prospects of our civilization.
But part of civilization is taking care of people who have worked hard. That’s why every climate bill proposed in Congress should have extensive sections designed to protect retirees and retrain existing workers. [...]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011GOP Wall Street reform repeal efforts moving forward:
We knew this was coming, the Republicans' latest not-job creating legislation to roll back Wall Street reform. Because, hey, what's a little global financial meltdown between friends? Why should Wall Street have to be accountable? […]

Of course, they're not proposing putting anything in its place. They don't do policy, they only do dismantling. But, as Greg Sargent says, they're approaching this one more cautiously, and certainly more quietly, than they did health reform repeal. That's because Wall Street is still hugely unpopular and untrusted. As Greg says, "[t]his one could provide another chance to draw a very clear contrast between the parties—on turf that may be a bit more favorable to Dems than health care repeal or spending."

For that to happen, Dems—including the White House—need to make a lot of noise about it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Walter Plecker: genocidal white supremacist, ‘Undesirables born amongst us’

Virginia’s Indian tribes have faced numerous obstacles in their decades-old quest for federal recognition. But one person has long stood in their way — and he’s been dead for 68 years.
Walter Plecker — a physician, eugenicist and avowed white supremacist — ran Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics with single-minded resolve over 34 years in the first half of the 20th century.
Though he died in 1947, Plecker’s shadow still lingers over the state, a vestige of a vicious era when racist practices were an integral part of government policy and Virginia officials ruthlessly enforced laws created to protect what they considered a master white race.
For Virginia’s Indians, the policies championed by Plecker threatened their very existence, nearly wiping out the tribes who greeted the country’s first English settlers and who claim Pocahontas as an ancestor. This month, the legacy of those laws could again help sabotage an effort by the Pamunkey people to become the state’s first federally recognized tribe.
Obsessed with the idea of white superiority, Plecker championed legislation that would codify the idea that people with one drop of “Negro” blood could not be classified as white. His efforts led the Virginia legislature to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a law that criminalized interracial marriage and also required that every birth in the state be recorded by race with the only options being “White” and “Colored.”
Plecker was proud of the law and his role in creating it. It was, he said, “the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made in 4,000 years.”
The act didn’t just make blacks in Virginia second-class citizens — it also erased any acknowledgment of Indians, whom Plecker claimed no longer truly existed in the commonwealth. With a stroke of a pen, Virginia was on a path to eliminating the identity of the Pamunkey, the Mattaponi, the Chickahominy, the Monacan, the Rappahannock, the Nansemond and the rest of Virginia’s tribes.
Entering the Pamunkey reservation is a sign announcing the tribe. The tribe is the smallest and oldest documented tribe in Virginia. (Timothy C. Wright/For the Washington Post)
The tribal center for the Chickahominy tribe is located deep in the countryside of rural Virginia not far from the small town of Providence Forge. (Timothy C. Wright/For the Washington Post)
“He told us we had no right to exist as people,” said Powhatan Red Cloud-Owen, a Vietnam veteran who belongs to the 850-member Chickahominy tribe. “He tried to destroy a people like Hitler did. It was a genocide inside of this great country of ours.”
‘It was devastating’
Plecker. For Virginia Indians, the name is an expletive.
“I would call him the villain in our sacred story,” says Karenne Wood, 55, a member of the Monacan, the largest of the Virginia tribes with more than 2,000 members. “As soon as you raise his name, people make bad faces.”
Standing in the graveyard adjacent to the Chickahominy Tribal Center, Steve Adkins, the 69-year-old chief of the tribe in Providence Forge, about 20 miles southeast of Richmond, says he is pained by what his people endured as a result of the Racial Integrity Act.

“It forbade giving your child an Indian name,”Adkins says. “And it caused people like my mom and dad to have to go to Washington, D.C., to be married as Indians.”
Others simply left Virginia rather than stay where they could no longer call themselves Indians.
“It caused separations of families,” Adkins says. “It was devastating.”
The devastation lasted decades. Plecker directed registrars around the state to change birth certificates, to cross out Indian and write in “Colored.” He had Indian children removed from white schools and Indian patients removed from white hospitals. He pushed back against Native Americans who tried to maintain their tribal identity, and he rejected federal efforts to acknowledge the existence of Indians in the state.
“Plecker saw Indian identity as dangerous, because he believed it would simply be used as a way station by people who ultimately just wanted to be classified as white,” says Mikaela Adams, assistant professor of Native American history at the University of Mississippi. “Of course, there were many reasons that white classification in 20th century Virginia was extremely beneficial. It meant access to better schools, homes. It meant, essentially, freedom.”
Instead, Indians lost freedoms and very nearly lost their identity. That was Plecker’s goal, as he explained in a 1943 letter that he addressed to “Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture.”
“Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and in the State Library, indicate that there does not exist today a descendant of the Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood,” he wrote. In other words, Virginia was rid of Indians.

Virginia would eventually repudiate the Racial Integrity Act. The law was effectively canceled out in 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an interracial Virginia couple’s right to marry in Loving v. Virginia. And in 2002, then-Gov. Mark Warner (D) officially apologized for the commonwealth’s role. But some of the damage has been irreparable.
“Plecker participated in an official disappearance of these tribes,” says Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “So he might be discredited and the official policy might be to apologize for him, but since the tribes haven’t been recognized, he still has accomplished something that has not been reversed. He’s still winning.”
‘Undesirables born amongst us’
Walter Ashby Plecker was born into a prosperous slave-owning Virginia family on April 2, 1861, just 10 days before the onset of the Civil War. His father joined the Confederate Army in the South’s fight to preserve slavery.
After graduating in 1880 from Hoover Military Academy in Staunton, Va., Plecker attended the University of Maryland Medical School where he earned his medical degree in 1885. He worked as a public health doctor in Virginia and Alabama before being appointed registrar of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics in 1912. The seemingly functionary title was misleading. It was in that office that Plecker would implement some of the most unapologetically racist government policies of the past century.
At the time, eugenics, a pseudo-scientific philosophy espousing racial purity and white genetic superiority, was gaining favor in parts of the United States, not just as a privately held view, but as a matter of public policy. Virginia was a stronghold of this nascent eugenicist movement.
Plecker was an early member of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, an organization founded in Richmond by two white supremacists that pushed for laws that forbid interracial marriage and opposed immigration by anyone other than Northern European whites.
For Plecker, who married but had no children, there was nothing lower than a mixed-race child. “The worst forms of undesirables born amongst us are those whose parents are of different races,” he said.
The Racial Integrity Act was just one pillar in the legislative legacy that Plecker and the eugenicists created. They also lobbied for the Eugenical Sterilization Act that was signed into law in 1924. That allowed the state to sterilize individuals “afflicted with hereditary forms of insanity that are recurrent, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.” That law was not repealed until 1974. In February, the Virginia General Assembly agreed to compensate those who were forcibly sterilized, paying each $25,000.

Plecker’s impact was also felt well beyond Virginia. He lobbied the Census Bureau beginning in 1930 to stop using the category “mulatto” to count mixed-race citizens. Indicating that you were of more than one race was not allowed until the 2000 census.

Pamunkey Chief Kevin Brown goes over documents collected from England being used to prove the existence of the tribe to federal officials in Washington. (Timothy C. Wright/For The Washington Post)
Walter Plecker sent this letter in December 1943 to reinforce his views and the laws he drafted. Plecker’s policies pressured state agencies to reclassify most citizens claiming Indian identity as colored. (Library of Virginia)
He was obsessed with genealogy and tracing the racial background of everyone in the state. In her book, “Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries,” Old Dominion University historian Helen Rountree recalls an exchange of letters between Plecker and U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier in 1943. Collier believed that Plecker’s policy regarding Indians was too strict. Plecker countered that his policy was justified because of his extensive research into race records dating back a century.
“Your staff member is probably correct in his surmise that Hitler’s genealogical study of the Jews is not more complete,” Plecker boasted.
Plecker retired in 1946. Despite his outsized role in Virginia’s history, he remains a relatively unknown figure. Though the history of racism and Jim Crow is taught in Virginia’s schools, neither Plecker nor the Racial Integrity Act are mentioned, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
There is perhaps only one story about Plecker that provides Virginia’s Indians some satisfaction. On Aug. 2, 1947, a year after retiring, Plecker stepped into a Richmond street without looking and was hit and killed by a passing vehicle. He was 86.
“That was good for us,” says Adkins, with a wry smile. “He was going strong until the end. He wasn’t stopping.”
Blitz of opposition
There are currently 566 federally recognized Indian tribes, none of which are from Virginia. In order to receive federal recognition, and be eligible for the housing, education and health-care funding that comes with it, Indian tribes need to meet several criteria heavily weighted to historical documentation.
Because Plecker spent almost all of his public life trying to eliminate the recorded existence of Virginia’s Indians, it has made attaining federal recognition all the more difficult for the tribes.

Then-Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell joins the chiefs and members of the Pamunkey and Mattoponi Tribes for the annual Tax Tribute Ceremony at the Executive Mansion in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Michaele White, governor’s photographer)
Andrew Tyler, a member of the Cherokee tribe and a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, poses for a photograph during a break in dancing at the Chickahominy Tribal Center near Providence Forge. (Timothy C. Wright/For the Washington Post)
The 208-member Pamunkey tribe has chosen to pursue recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a laborious and expensive process that has lasted years. The bureau was expected to rule earlier this year on whether to grant the Pamunkey federal recognition. But at the last minute, following a blitz of opposition, that decision was postponed.
Leading the fight against the Pamunkey bid was casino giant MGM, which is opening a $1.2 billion casino in Princes George’s County next year and does not want competition in Virginia. The Pamunkey have not said whether they would open a casino if they were granted recognition, but MGM isn’t waiting to find out. It teamed up with Stand Up for California, an organization that has fought tribal casinos, to oppose Pamunkey recognition.
In March, Stand Up for California wrote to the Bureau of Indian Affairs saying that some members of the tribe descended not from Indians, but African Americans, and therefore should not be recognized. For Virginia Indian tribes and their supporters, it was galling to hear the same argument that Plecker once made now being repeated to again challenge their identity.
“The whole spectacle of folks ganging up on these tribes, in my view just promoted and funded by the casino industry, is just outrageous,” said Kaine, the senator. “They’re building off the back of a horrific eugenicist to try and make their argument.”
MGM officials rejected that characterization. “We object to any depiction that we are in any way associated with the despicable practice” perpetrated by Plecker, said company spokesman Gordon Absher. “MGM Resorts is a national leader in diversity and inclusion. Insinuations to the contrary cannot be further from the truth.”
Kaine and members of both parties in Virginia’s congressional delegation have long supported passage of the Thomasina E. Jordan bill, which would provide federal recognition through Congress for six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Monacan, Nansemond, Upper Mattaponi and Rappahannock. To help win political support, the six tribes gave up the right to open casinos or other gambling ventures.
Kaine says he is encouraged that the bill passed out of the Senate subcommittee early in this legislative session and is hopeful that it will do the same in the House so that it can eventually be voted on by the entire Congress.
For Steve Adkins, the Chickahominy chief, federal recognition would stamp out all of Plecker’s efforts by making a statement: “We are who we say we are.”

Going home
Powhatan Red Cloud-Owen’s mother, Minnie Adkins, was 25 when the Racial Integrity Act was passed. The idea that she would no longer be considered an Indian in Virginia was so distressing that she and her sister left their tiny hometown and moved to New York. There they took jobs cleaning homes, and Minnie eventually married an Indian from another tribe and settled in Queens. She was proud of being a Chickahominy and would help out at the American Indian Community House, a meeting place for Indians from all over the country who had moved to New York.
Red-Cloud Owen grew up in New York, but he spent his summers in Virginia with his cousins and other members of the tribe. At 15, he moved to Virginia so that he could attend an all-Indian school. He decided to stay for good, but his mother would never return to live in Virginia again. She died in 1974.
Before she died, however, she made a request, Red-Cloud Owen says. She wanted to be buried in the Chickahominy tribal cemetery, next to the tribal center and near the small town where she grew up and knew the name of everyone and every tree. Buried in Virginia. Buried as an Indian.

Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section's Local Enterprise team. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine and is the paper's resident Downton Abbey expert.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The true meaning of Paganism

Cernunnos,"The Horned One" - Paganism

The true meaning of Paganism

Detail of Runestone 181
The Triumph of Civilization
An ancient temple devoted to the god Zeus
The word "paganism" has come to refer to various pre-Christian religions belonging to a number of ancient cultures—those from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Scandinavia, and so on.  It has come to also represent, in some circles, the modern ideology of Wicca and the followers of revived versions of the old practices.  The truth about "paganism", however, is that it is a historically inaccurate phrase in the context of these aforementioned faiths.  Although it is now the accepted term for these religions, it is important to examine where the word truly came from and what it initially meant, allowing for a better, all-inclusive understanding of the world's religious past.
The term "paganism" was revived during the Renaissance when writers were trying to differentiate the old traditions from their contemporary Christian faith.  The term itself stems from the Latin paganus translated loosely along the lines of "country dweller" or "rustic"; thus it was initially a word describing a person of locality rather than a religion.  However, because of its usage in ancient texts, medieval authors mistakenly believed it referenced a religious sect and thereby gave it the corresponding connotation.  In actuality, there was a different word used to describe the "pagans" as they are called today, and that word too stemmed first and foremost from the location of the religious supporters.
According to scholar Peter Brown of Princeton University, "Hellene" was initially utilized in place of "paganism".  "Hellene" was a reference to Ἕλλην (Hellas), the native ancient Greek name for what is now called Greece.  Brown explains that when Christianity started making appearances in the eastern communities, "Hellene" was used to differentiate the non-Christians from the Christians.  Those from Hellas tended to remain faithful to the old religions, but with the strife between Judaism and Christianity beginning, the Jewish faction needed to ensure they were not incorrectly associated with them.  As they were not from Greece, "Hellene" became the perfect title.

An ancient temple devoted to the god Zeus. Credit: MM, Public Domain

In the Latin west, it was more common for the various religions to refer to themselves by their ethnic origins rather than by the gods they worshipped—they simply referred to themselves (in their own language) as Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, etc., simultaneously insinuating their religious factions as well.  This form of labeling was largely due to the fact that the political and religious aspects of life were a unified entity.  Thus, the tradition of ethnic titling appears to have been continued by the early Christians.  As far as ancient sources can tell, it wasn't until the Late Roman Empire that the term "pagan" began to be used instead, as it was an easy way to lump all the non-Christians together in conversation, decrees, etc.   It rose to popularity as a matter of convenience rather than of accuracy and respect.
It is important to note that "paganism" is not intended to differentiate the polytheistic religions from the monotheistic.  The number of gods does not apply to the term because many so-called "pagans" would have not considered it important to differentiate themselves based on the number of gods they worshipped.  Followers of the ancient religions did not necessarily have anything against Christianity based on its preference for a singular deity—many cults within each sect had a primary deity at the center of the religion, beneath which subordinate deities were also worshipped.  "Paganism" as a title was intended only to reference the non-Christians (and the non-Jews), isolating them into one solitary category that could be more easily destroyed and replaced.

The Triumph of Civilization’ by Jacques Reattu (Wikimedia). Many ancient religions were polytheistic and believed in a pantheon of gods. 

This effort of combining all non-Christian religions under one umbrella was, in fact, a clever strategy by the early Christians to remove the "pagan" faiths altogether.  Using the Norse traditions as an example, the Vikings of the early medieval period had no true name for their religious following.  In truth, the word religion would have been an unknown, foreign term to them.  The Nordic tribes preferred the word "customs" as—like the Greeks and Romans—their rituals, beliefs, and traditions were undefined and fluidly interpreted, orally passed down rather than rigidly studied.  There was no all-encompassing word for the belief in the Aesir and Vanir, and the various other beings and deities the ancient Norse worshipped, and there was no written text discussing their practices until the Christian author Snorri Sturluson wrote their mythology down in the 13th century.

Detail of Runestone 181, in Stockholm. Norse gods Odin, Thor and Freyr are represented as three men. Credit: Berig, Wikipedia

According to Gareth Williams in Viking: Life and Legend, what is now considered the Norse religion is actually the "legacy of the Christian missionaries", their textual product a "concentrated target" that is much easier to remove and erase than the amalgamation of gods liberally worshipped.  Consolidating the various Norse—and every other "pagan"—tradition into a simplified faith with recorded rules and codes provided the early Christians with a more straightforward target to remove and replace.
Though the phrase "paganism" is widely used to describe followers of the various ancient religions, it is important to understand from where the term originates and the misconceptions behind its usage.   Too many centuries have passed now—the word "paganism" will continue to label these supporters despite its original meaning.  But it is never too late to be informed of the origins of the term, thereby allowing a better comprehension of the history of the ancient followers.
Featured image: Cernunnos,"The Horned One", ancient god of nature and fertility. (Source)
Brown, Peter. Late Antiquity: a guide to the postclassical world (Harvard University Press: Massachusetts, 1999.) s.v. "Pagan".
Cameron, Alan G. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford University Press: New York, 2011.)
Davies, Owen (2011). Paganism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press: New York, 2011.)
Robert, P. & Scott, N. A History of Pagan Europe (Barnes & Noble Books: New York, 1995.)
Swain, "Defending Hellenism: Philostratus, in Honour of Apollonius," in Apologetics, p. 173
Williams, Gareth, Peter Penz, and Matthias Wemhoff. Vikings: Life and Legend (Cornell University Press: New York, 2014.)
York, Michael. Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion (New York University Press: New York, 2003.)
By Ryan Stone

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Limiting Intake at Big Run Landfill, Boyd Co KY

Contributor: Citizen Randy Roberson
CATLETTSBURG The Boyd County Fiscal Court took two major steps Tuesday toward limiting trash intake at Big Run Landfill.

First, members unanimously approved hiring Paul Nesbitt of Lexington-based Nesbitt Engineering as a consultant throughout Big Run Landfill’s permit renewal phase in January.
Nesbitt has worked with the court in the past regarding the county’s solid waste management plan. He said attempting to lower the total capacity of a landfill is groundbreaking for local government in Kentucky. Second, members unanimously approved a resolution accepting Nesbitt’s recommendation to lower the landfill’s total capacity by about 60 percent — in other words, cutting out about 18 million tons of trash from its currently permitted intake.
If the court is successful, it will be the first government body in Kentucky to reduce the total capacity of a landfill through this process, and the only way to do it is through an amendment to its solid waste management plan.

Nesbitt provided the court with data he obtained through state government agencies, noting it was not a “complete” set of data.

He said at one time, the landfill was accepting about 2,000 tons of garbage per day based on an average calculated for a six-day work week.
After a “boom” in 2013 and another in 2014, the landfill now accepts about 5,500 tons of trash per day. This figure, he said, was based on the last two quarterly reports from the landfill for 2014.
As of 2008, the landfill is permitted a total site area of 576 acres, with the ability to store trash in 255 acres.

Nesbitt said his justification to the state for implementing his suggested capacity reduction would be based off the 2008 slide, the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection-issued agreed order and other problems that appear to correlate with increased intake at the site.
“You can see that there’s a correlation when you look at the tonnage and the violation history that the increased flow into the landfill created some issues for the landfill,” Nesbitt told the court. “Because it is present in terms of violations, the slide and everything else.”
He added the landfill appeared to be able to operate successfully when it accepted about 2,000 tons per day. He recommended the company be required to return to this rate for the next 20 years, which would amount to a total capacity of 12.48 cubic yards.

Trash trains bring East Coast odors
Nesbitt also clarified the amendment is not based on a certain time frame and does not address daily flow. The time frame mentioned was more of a projection based on average intake data.
Boyd County resident Steve Cole asked Nesbitt if he would consider a rate that would effectively reduce the amount of garbage brought in from out-of state sources.
Cole said since the state would ensure the needs of Boyd County and other Kentucky-based customers would be met, lowering the overall capacity even further could cut off intake from some out-of-state sources since those needs are secondary.

Nesbitt, however, said he could not justify writing a suggestion that reflected Cole’s recommendation.

Boyd County Judge-Executive Steve Towler said the amendment could take up to five months to enact and it would have to be presented to the state for approval before becoming law.
EnviroSolutions Inc., the parent company for Big Run Landfill, had its CEO and President Dean Kattler and Regional Vice President Scott Cunningham present at the meeting.
ESI’s public relations representative Phil Osborne said Kattler could not comment on the suggested capacity reduction at this time.
Kattler did, however, release this statement: “We wish more than four of the 35-plus people that attended the fiscal court meeting would have attended yesterday’s two open houses where we could have listened, then answered their questions and concerns.
“We hope to see them at our July 15 open house, where we will be set up and waiting to share information.”

"We will be at your Open House on the 15th !!
This is another How great the Landfill is story by the Daily Independent this RAG is not worth reading it is not telling the full story about the pollution and and cancer causing coal ash, or fracking water waste that this company is destroying our environment with. And Kattler trying to say we are not interested enough to attend his Dog and Pony Show and saying they provide 14% of the county budget.

We got along without your filth money before the Dump Take Your Garbage Back to New Jersey. Good Job Ashland Daily  Independent Lick your Masters boots or kiss their a**'s"

 Randy Roberson
Citizen-Boyd Co Ky

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Five Boys From Royalton

 Deadwrite's Dailie's
 December 7, 2010

Uncle Bruce Stephens, circa 1943.

My dad, Woodrow Wilson Stephens, and two of his younger brothers, Bruce and Sam, all served in World War II. They were three poor Kentucky boys from a tiny backwater town called Royalton tucked away in an Appalachian holler. The Stephens boys had neighbors named Whitt who had two sons named Byron and Forrest who also went off to the war. These five boys represented a large proportion of the eligible bachelors of Royalton at the time.

Of the five Royalton boys who went off to battle, only Bruce, my favorite uncle, is still with us. Some time ago he sent me a family genealogy that included a nine-page autobiography he wrote a few years ago as he approached his eightieth birthday. To honor my father, my uncles Bruce and Sam, and the two Whitt brothers on this, the anniversary of the day that forever changed the lives of the “greatest generation,” I would like to reproduce a portion of it here:

I will always remember where I was on December 7, 1941. It was a Sunday and as usual, there was little to do for entertainment. Mostly we just loafed, but this day a couple of my buddies and I were playing cards and listening to one of the few battery radios in Royalton. We were at Ashland “Goose Eye” McFarland’s at a shanty-like garage he used for a home on Willie Shepherd’s farm at a place on Licking River called the Narrows. We could only get two or three stations: KDKA in Pittsburgh, WLW in Cincinnati, and WHAS in Louisville. Over whichever station we had on, the announcement of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came over the air repeatedly, which put an end to our card game. Young men in the area rushed to enlist, but at seventeen, I was not old enough.
My brother Woodrow and our neighbor, Bal Whitt’s son Byron, were already in the navy. My brother had only recently been shipped out of Pearl Harbor and thus escaped the attack, but Byron Whitt was serving as a gunner’s mate on the USS Arizona and was killed and went down with the ship. Years after the war ended, my wife and I visited the USS Arizona memorial where Byron Whitt’s name heads the last column of those killed.

In January of 1943, Uncle Bruce was finally old enough to enlist. He continues with his own wartime experiences where he served in the navy on a hydrographic survey ship at Iwo Jima:

The first battle we engaged in was Iwo Jima. We operated close in to the beach and had a ringside view of the awful action occurring before us, but surprisingly our ship was never struck by enemy fire. We were several times endangered by the falling empty cartridges from our own planes strafing enemy positions on shore.
I had occasion to accidentally come in contact with Byron Whitt’s younger brother Forrest, a marine, as our two ships almost touched each other on our way to Iwo Jima, which many say was the bloodiest battle of the war. We spoke to each other briefly but I never saw him again. He was killed in action on Iwo Jima. Because his brother Byron was entombed on the Arizona, his father and mother elected not to have Forrest returned to the United States and he was buried on Iwo Jima. Both are where they fell fighting for their country. Our neighbors, Bal and Josie Whitt, lost two sons. My two brothers, Woodrow and Sam and I all survived without a scratch. Seems unfair, but sometimes that’s the way it is.

Thanks Bruce, and Sam, and Byron, and Forrest.
And thanks to you, Dad. … I miss you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

JFK: Cold Warrior to Peace Maker.

In a 1966 New York Times feature article on the CIA, this statement by JFK appeared without further comment: “President Kennedy, as the enormity of the Bay of Pigs disaster came home to him, said to one of the highest officials of his Administration that he wanted ‘to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.’”Presidential adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., said the president told him, while the Bay of Pigs battle was still going on, “It’s a hell of a way to learn things, but I have learned one thing from this business—that is, that we will have to deal with CIA . . . no one has dealt with CIA.”
Earth shattering quotes from JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James Douglass.
Essential reading for any thinking breathing human being who wants to understand the depth and breadth of the diabolical forces that still rule the world today, 52 years after Kennedy was assassinated.
It’s not often that the intersection of history and contemporary events pose such a startling and chilling lesson as does  the contemplation of the murder of JFK on November 22, 1963 juxtaposed with the situations  faced by President Obama today.   So far, at least, Obama’s behavior has mirrored Johnson’s, not Kennedy’s, as he has escalated the war in Afghanistan by 34,000. One can’t but help think that the thought of JFK’s fate might not be far from his mind as he contemplates his next move in Afghanistan.

Douglass presents a very compelling argument that Kennedy was killed by “unspeakable” [forces] within the U.S. national security state because of his conversion from a cold warrior into a man of peace.  He argues, using a wealth of newly uncovered information, that JFK had become a major threat to the burgeoning military-industrial complex and had to be eliminated through a conspiracy planned by the CIA – “the CIA’s fingerprints are all over the crime and the events leading up to it” – not by a crazed individual, the Mafia, or disgruntled anti-Castro Cubans, though some of these may have been used in the execution of the plot.

Why and by whom?  These are the key questions.  If it can be shown that Kennedy did, in fact, turn emphatically away from war as a solution to political conflict; did, in fact, as he was being urged by his military and intelligence advisers to up the ante and use violence, rejected such advice and turned toward peaceful solutions, then, a motive for his elimination is established.  If, furthermore, it can be clearly shown that Oswald was a dupe in a deadly game and that forces within the military/intelligence apparatus were involved with him from start to finish, then the crime is solved, not by fingering an individual who may have given the order for the murder or pulled the trigger, but by showing that the coordination of the assassination had to involve U.S. intelligence agencies, most notably the CIA .
Douglass does both, providing highly detailed and intricately linked evidence based on his own research and a vast array of the best scholarship.We are then faced with the contemporary relevance, and since we know that every president since JFK has refused to confront the growth of the national security state and its call for violence, one can logically assume a message was sent and heeded.  In this regard,  it is not incidental that former twenty-seven year CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, in a recent interview, warned of the “two CIAs,” one the analytic arm providing straight scoop to presidents, the other the covert action arm  which operates according to its own rules.
“Let me leave you with this thought,” he told his interviewer, “and that is that I think Panetta (current CIA Director), and to a degree Obama, are afraid – I never thought  I’d hear myself saying this – I think they are afraid of the CIA.”  He then recommended Douglass’ book, “It’s very well-researched and his conclusion is very alarming.” [i]
Let’s look at the history marshaled by Douglass to support his thesis.First, Kennedy, who took office in January 1961 as somewhat of a Cold Warrior, was quickly set up by the CIA to take the blame for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961.  The CIA and generals wanted to oust Castro, and in pursuit of that goal, trained a force of Cuban exiles to invade Cuba.  Kennedy refused to go along and the invasion was roundly defeated.  The CIA, military, and Cuban exiles bitterly blamed Kennedy. But it was all a sham.
Though Douglass doesn’t mention it, and few Americans know it, classified documents uncovered in 2000 revealed that the CIA had discovered that the Soviets had learned of the date of the invasion more than a week in advance, had informed Castro, but – and here is a startling fact that should make people’s hair stand on end –  never told the President. [ii] The CIA knew the invasion was doomed before the fact but went ahead with it anyway.  Why?  So they could and did afterwards blame JFK for the failure.
This treachery set the stage for events to come.  For his part, sensing but not knowing the full extent of the set-up, Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles (as in a bad joke, later to be named to the Warren Commission) and his assistant General Charles Cabell (whose brother Earle Cabell, to make a bad joke absurd, was the mayor of Dallas on the day Kennedy was killed) and said he wanted “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”  Not the sentiments to endear him to a secretive government within a government whose power was growing exponentially.The stage was now set for events to follow as JFK, in opposition to nearly all his advisers, consistently opposed the use of force in U.S. foreign policy.

In 1961, despite the Joint Chief’s demand to put troops into Laos, Kennedy bluntly insisted otherwise as he ordered Averell Harriman, his representative at the Geneva Conference, “Did you understand?  I want a negotiated settlement in Laos.  I don’t want to put troops in.”

Also in 1961, he refused to concede to the insistence of his top generals to give them permission to use nuclear weapons in Berlin and Southeast Asia.  Walking out of a meeting with top military advisors, Kennedy threw his hands in the air and said, “These people are crazy.”

He refused to bomb and invade Cuba as the military wished during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  Afterwards he told his friend John Kenneth Galbraith that “I never had the slightest intention of doing so.”
Then in June 1963 he gave an incredible speech at American University in which he called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end of the Cold War and the “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” and movement toward “general and complete disarmament.”
A few months later he signed a Limited Test Ban Treaty with Nikita Khrushchev.In October 1963 he signed National Security Action Memorandum  263 calling for the withdrawal of 1,000 U. S. military troops from Vietnam by the end of the year and a total withdrawal by the end of 1965.[iii]
All this he did while secretly engaging in negotiations with Khrushchev via the KGB , Norman Cousins, and Pope John XXIII , and with Castro through various intermediaries, one of whom was French Journalist Jean Daniel. In an interview with Daniel on October 24, 1963 Kennedy said, “I approved the proclamation Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption.  I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States.  Now we will have to pay for those sins.  In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries.  That is perfectly clear.” 

Such sentiments were anathema, shall we say treasonous, to the CIA and top generals.These clear refusals to go to war and his decision to engage in private, back-channel communications with Cold War enemies marked Kennedy as an enemy of the national security state.  They were on a collision course.

As Douglass and others have pointed out, every move Kennedy made was anti-war.  This, Douglass argues, was because JFK, a war hero, had been deeply affected by the horror of war and was severely shaken by how close the world had come to destruction during the Cuban missile crisis. Throughout his life he had been touched by death and had come to appreciate the fragility of life.
Once in the Presidency, Kennedy underwent a deep metanoia, a spiritual transformation, from Cold Warrior to peace maker.  He came to see the generals who advised him as devoid of the tragic sense of life and as hell-bent on war.  And he was well aware that his growing resistance to war had put him on a dangerous collision course with those generals and the CIA.
On numerous occasions he spoke of the possibility of a military coup d’etat against him.  On the night before his trip to Dallas, he told his wife, “But, Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it.” And we know that nobody did try to stop it because they had planned it. But who killed him?

Douglass presents a formidable amount of evidence, some old and some new, against the CIA and covert action agencies within the national security state,  and does so in such a logical and persuasive way that any fair-minded reader cannot help but be taken aback; stunned, really. And he links this evidence directly to JFK’s actions on behalf of peace.He knows, however, that to truly convince he must break a “conspiracy of silence that would envelop our government, our media, our academic institutions, and virtually our entire society from November 22, 1963, to the present.”  This “unspeakable,” this hypnotic “collective denial of the obvious,” is sustained by a mass-media whose repeated message is that the truth about such significant events is beyond our grasp, that we will have to drink the waters of uncertainty forever.  As for those who don’t, they are relegated to the status of conspiracy nuts.Fear and uncertainty block a true appraisal of the assassination – that plus the thought that it no longer matters.
It matters.  For we know that no president since JFK has dared to buck the military-intelligence-industrial complex.  We know a Pax Americana has spread its tentacles across the globe with U.S. military in over 130 countries on 750 plus bases.
We know that the amount of blood and money spent on wars and war preparations has risen astronomically.
There is a great deal we know and even more that we don’t want to know, or at the very least, investigate.
Are you ready to learn the truth? Or will you keep closing eyes?