Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bush Family Fortunes, and Iraq Oil Regime by Greg Palast

Published on Mar 30, 2013
Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli: Blood for oil.
 
But the truth in the confidential Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse.

The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis:
"...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."
Let me explain why these words rocked my casbah.

I'd already had in my hands a 101-page document, another State Department secret scheme, first uncovered by Wall Street Journal reporter Neil King, that called for the privatisation, the complete sell-off of every single government-owned asset and industry. And in case anyone missed the point, the sales would include every derrick, pipe and barrel of oil, or, as the document put it, "especially the oil".

That plan was created by a gaggle of corporate lobbyists and neo-cons working for the Heritage Foundation. In 2004, the plan's authenticity was confirmed by Washington power player Grover Norquist. (It's hard to erase the ill memory of Grover excitedly waving around his soft little hands as he boasted about turning Iraq into a free-market Disneyland, recreating Chile in Mesopotamia, complete with the Pinochet-style dictatorship necessary to lock up the assets -- while behind Norquist, Richard Nixon snarled at me from a gargantuan portrait.)

The neo-con idea was to break up and sell off Iraq's oil fields, ramp up production, flood the world oil market -- and thereby smash OPEC and with it, the political dominance of Saudi Arabia.
General Jay Garner also confirmed the plan to grab the oil. Indeed, Garner told me that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld fired him, when the General, who had lived in Iraq, complained the neo-con grab would set off a civil war. It did. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld replaced Garner with a new American viceroy, Paul Bremer, a partner in Henry Kissinger's firm, to complete the corporate takeover of Iraq's assets -- "especially the oil".

But that was not to be. While Bremer oversaw the wall-to-wall transfer of Iraqi industries to foreign corporations, he was stopped cold at the edge of the oil fields.
How? I knew there was only one man who could swat away the entire neo-con army: James Baker, former Secretary of State, Bush family consiglieri and most important, counsel to Exxon-Mobil Corporation and the House of Saud.

(One unwitting source was industry oil-trading maven Edward Morse of Lehman/Credit Suisse, who threatened to sue Harper's Magazine for my quoting him. Morse denied I ever spoke with him. But when I played the tape from my hidden recorder, his memory cleared and he scampered away.)
Weirdly, I was uncovering that the US oil industry was using its full political mojo to prevent their being handed ownership of Iraq's oil fields. That's right: The oil companies did NOT want to own the oil fields -- and they sure as hell did not want the oil. Just the opposite. They wanted to make sure there would be a limit on the amount of oil that would come out of Iraq.

The problem with Saddam was not the threat that he'd stop the flow of oil -- he was trying to sell more. The price of oil had been boosted 300 percent by sanctions and an embargo cutting Iraq's sales to two million barrels a day from four. With Saddam gone, the only way to keep the damn oil in the ground was to leave it locked up inside the busted state oil company which would remain under OPEC (i.e. Saudi) quotas.

The James Baker Institute quickly and secretly started in on drafting the 323-page plan for the State Department. In May 2003, with authority granted from the top (i.e. Dick Cheney), ex-Shell Oil USA CEO Phil Carroll was rushed to Baghdad to take charge of Iraq's oil. He told Bremer, "There will be no privatisation of oil -- END OF STATEMENT." Carroll then passed off control of Iraq's oil to Bob McKee of Halliburton, Cheney's old oil-services company, who implemented the Baker "enhance OPEC" option anchored in state ownership. Some oil could be released, mainly to China, through limited, but lucrative, "production sharing agreements".

And that's how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about "blood for oil", but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward. Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.

And they've succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.
The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel

Truly Creepy Details about Congressman Massa, Argentina and Billionaire Vulture Paul Singer

Getting into Massa's Drawers:
Truly Creepy Details
about the Congressman


Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Exclusive for Buzzflash.com
by Greg Palast
For the two weeks before tickle-and-grope charges busted open on him, and before his resignation from Congress, our BBC Television investigations team was hunting for Representative Eric Massa.
We wanted to know what he had hidden in his drawers. Not his knickers, which have captivated America's peep-show media, but Massa's file drawers where he keeps his dirtier secrets.
Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about Massa's creepy little peccadilloes. But I care an awful lot about creeps that quietly backed him.
Massa plays himself as a two-fisted Progressive Democrat, telling the President to jam his fake health care bill where the Rahm don't shine, and he gave the Iraq war his middle finger. I mean, the guy was on Rachel Maddow.

That's the television Massa. But what about the Congressman Massa? And why was he ducking us?
I specifically wanted to ask the New York Congressman about Paul Singer: "Swift Boat" Singer, the guy who funded the vile attacks on Presidential Candidate John Kerry. "Swift Boat" Singer — reportedly the biggest funder of the Republican Party in New York. Our information was that the demi-billionaire Singer was backing Massa.

Singer's nickname isn't really Swift Boat. It's "The Vulture."
Singer is a speculator, the predator-in-chief of the flock of financiers, collectively known as "vultures," who buy up the right to collect on old loans made to the world's poorest nations. Vultures use law suits, political muscle, and in some cases, bribery, to get nations like Congo and Liberia to pay these hedge funds up to 100 times what the vulture originally paid for the debt.
As you can imagine, vultures don't have lots of friends; and those they have they must purchase.
The vultures had been looking for some morally challenged congressperson to front a bill to help them crank billions from the budgets of Third World nations. The law that could make demi-billionaire Singer a billionaire is called, "The Judgment Evading Foreign States Accountability Act" (H.R. 2493).
In effect, the bill says that if Argentina (and other Third World nations) don't pay Mr. Singer and his vulture buddies the billions they demand, then the US government will act as Singer's enforcement arm, hanging out Argentina to dry, cutting off trade between our countries.
Now, as Mr. Singer became Mr. Checkbook to the Republican Party in New York, you'd assume that his make-me-richer bill would be sponsored by some right-wing GOP troglodyte. Wrong: the rent-boy, the chief sponsor of Singer's bill, was, to our amazement, the "liberal" Democrat Eric Massa.

Two sources tell us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not amused at Massa's weirdo attack on the financial lifeblood of US allies, nor does the White House favor a law which would provoke seizures of US assets abroad.
Our information was that Massa, crazy-desperate for campaign cash, was now getting juice from Singer and other vultures. I wanted to ask the Republican-turned-Democrat about his funding and about how he ended up in a political tryst with vultures.

The normally television-hungry Congressman refused our every attempt to get him on camera. And Singer's PR flack told me his own boss would speak to me "never, ever."
But we do know the cover story. Massa's bill was promoted by a benign-sounding group called, "The American Task Force Argentina." The ATFA website says their goal is, "Pursuing a Fair Reconciliation of the Argentine Debt Default."
There are some very progressive folk on ATFA's payroll. Its masthead lists "Ambassador Nancy Soderberg." Nancy's not actually an ambassador, but she did hold that title a decade ago under Bill Clinton, and she even worked for Ted Kennedy. The other co-Chair is listed as "The Honorable Dr. Robert J. Shapiro." Shapiro's no longer an "Honorable," but, back in the day, he held that title under Clinton as Undersecretary of Commerce. Now he's a lobbyist.

Liberian under vulture attack
These good liberals charge mucho bucks per hour for their influence. Who picked up the tab? Well, there was FH International and Montreux Capital, vulture funds that tormented West Africa's poorest nation, Liberia.
Those are the vulture funds that, when I came to question them in their New York offices last month, unbolted their name plaque from the building wall and locked their employees inside to hide from our camera crew.
Also behind ATFA: Elliot Associates -- Paul Singer, proprietor.
I wanted to ask Bob Shapiro what he and these other good Democrats were doing with vulture feathers in their wallets. (The Honorable Bob leaped at the chance to appear on BBC TV ... until he was told that the reporter would be Greg Palast. Instantly, Dr. Shapiro became unavailable.)
I'm sure Shapiro would have told me that, unlike Republicans, you can't buy Democrats. True, but apparently, you can rent them.
So, that's the cover. A "liberal" group funded by a right-wing Republican fronting for those trying to shake down Argentina to pay on bogus "loans" that Singer and FH International bought for next to nothing,
If Bob Shapiro will front for predators for cash, that's his business. But if Massa took campaign loot in a quid pro quo for legislation, that's our business.
I don't know the answer. But Massa does. And he won't talk to me. Nor will he talk to the House Ethics Committee.
On March 5, Massa abruptly resigned from Congress - which put an immediate end to the Ethics investigation of his activities.

At first, he said he was quitting Congress because he has cancer. Then he said he resigned because a buck-naked Rahm Emanuel bullied him in the Congressional shower-room and then threatened him over his health care vote. (Foxhole wing-nut Glenn Beck fell for that canard.) Then Massa said he resigned because of an aide's accusation that the Congressman tickled the aide in an "inappropriate" manner. (The mainstream press swallowed that one whole.)
I don't believe any of it. (Senator David Vitter (R-LA), known as "Vitter The **itter," was caught getting diapered by the Washington Madame, and still remains in the Senate voting against what he calls Obama's "immoral" program.)

Would the real Eric Massa please step forward and tell us the real reason he's resigning? Eric, my door's open and my microphone's on.
I don't want to talk about your zipper. I do want to ask you about any connection between speculator money and your save-the-vultures bill.
Unfortunately, despite our many pleas, Mr. Massa, you won't speak to us on camera or off. Apparently the subject of your financier buddies is a little too ticklish.
***
Greg Palast's investigative reports for BBC Television on vulture funds can be viewed at http://www.GregPalast.com.
Palast will be speaking in Chicago, on Friday, April 9, at 6:30pm, at Columbia College Film Row Cinema in conversation with This is Hell radio host Chuck Mertz.

BuzzFlash highly recommends you watch Greg's "Palast Hunts the Vultures" BBC Report.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

House GOP poised to kill veterans-aid bill

These days, it’s awfully difficult for major legislation on high-profile issues to generate broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. The parties are usually too far apart to build consensus and strike deals.
 
But in mid-June, the Senate nevertheless came together to support a bipartisan veterans-aid package, written by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). There was some token opposition from the far-right, but they were easily outnumbered – the bill passed with a whopping 93 votes.
 

At the time, success seemed like a foregone conclusion. The VA scandal was literally front-page news and the demands for action were ubiquitous. When the Senate bill advanced on a 93-3 vote, many assumed the legislation would be on President Obama’s desk within a week.
 
That was six weeks ago. House Republicans now appear ready to kill the bill altogether.
Democrats and Republicans are struggling to agree on how to pay for legislation that could cost between $25 billion and $30 billion. That logjam is transforming the VA debate from one that united both parties to yet another fiscal fight, prompting the same type of partisan finger pointing that has become familiar after years of budget showdowns.
 
“They have walked away from it,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of House Republicans. “It’s unfortunate, because we had a strong bipartisan vote, and that doesn’t mean much to the House.”
The bill is currently in a conference committee – the process intended to reconcile competing bills from the House and Senate on the same subject. But in this case, the GOP-led House won’t compromise.
 
Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said yesterday House Republicans presented him with a “take-it-or-leave-it gambit,” effectively telling the upper chamber to accept the GOP plan or the entire effort would die.
 
Sanders has offered a series of concessions, all of which have been deemed inadequate by House Republicans.
 
Any chance House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) might step in and show some leadership on this?
 
Apparently not. Asked about the bill at a press conference yesterday, Boehner told reporters, “We’ve got a systemic failure of an entire department of our government. And I think understanding just how sick this patient is is critically important, before we start doing what Washington usually does, and that’s just throw money at the problem, throw money at the problem.”
 
This suggests the Speaker doesn’t understand the basics of the debate. The bipartisan veterans-aid package doesn’t “just throw money at the problem.” It expands VA health care access, tuition assistance, and job training to veterans – just as the House bill does.
 
The reason the bill is dying has nothing to do with understanding “just how sick” the VA is and everything to do with a disagreement about finances. The fact that Boehner doesn’t know this suggests the veterans-aid bill just isn’t a high priority for him.
 
To be sure, the fight isn’t necessarily over. As of yesterday, House Republicans weren’t budging and the talks appeared to be unraveling, but there’s still time for GOP lawmakers to change their minds and start negotiating in good faith.
 
But if that doesn’t occur, it will reinforce a few key fears. First, there’s an impression that congressional Republicans talk a good game when it comes to veterans, but when push comes to shove, they just don’t follow through. It’s happened before, and as of yesterday, it’s happening again.
 
And second, when former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in late May, many warned that the political world would simply move on, losing interest in the entire story, and giving Congress an excuse to fail. Those warnings look quite prescient now.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain


The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix

brit library image
Earlier this week, Oxford’s Bodleian Library announced that it had digitized a 550 year old copy of the Gutenberg Bible along with a number of other ancient bibles, some of them quite beautiful. Not to be outdone, the British Library came out with its own announcement on Thursday:
We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.
The librarians behind the project freely admit that they don’t exactly have a great handle on the images in the collection. They know what books the images come from. (For example, the image above comes from Historia de las Indias de Nueva-España y islas de Tierra Firme, 1867.) But they don’t know much about the particulars of each visual. And so they’re turning to crowdsourcing for answers. In fairly short order, the Library plans to release tools that will let willing participants gather information and deepen our understanding of everything in the Flickr Commons collection.
You can jump into the entire collection here, or view a set of highlights here. The latter happens to include a curious image. (See below.) It’s from an 1894 book called The United States of America. A study of the American Commonwealth, its natural resources, people, industries, manufactures, commerce, and its work in literature, science, education and self-government. And the picture features, according to the text, a “Typical figure, showing tendency of student life–stooping head, flat chest, and emaciated limbs.” It’s hard to know what to say about that.
american student
via Boing Boing
Related Content:
The Rijksmuseum Puts 125,000 Dutch Masterpieces Online, and Lets You Remix Its Art
The Getty Puts 4600 Art Images Into the Public Domain (and There’s More to Come)
The Digital Public Library of America Launches Today, Opening Up Knowledge for All
Cornell Launches Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Animal Sounds, with Recordings Going Back to 1929

The CIA and British intelligence and the Fall of Iran

"In 1953, the CIA and British intelligence orchestrated a coup d’etat that toppled the democratically elected government of Iran. The government of Mohammad Mossadegh. The aftershocks of the coup are still being felt.
In 1951 Prime Minister Mossadegh roused Britain’s ire when he nationalized the oil industry. Mossadegh argued that Iran should begin profiting from its vast oil reserves which had been exclusively controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The company later became known as British Petroleum (BP).


After considering military action, Britain opted for a coup d’état. President Harry Truman rejected the idea, but when Dwight Eisenhower took over the White House, he ordered the CIA to embark on one of its first covert operations against a foreign government.
The coup was led by an agent named Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. The CIA leaned on a young, insecure Shah to issue a decree dismissing Mossadegh as prime minister. Kermit Roosevelt had help from Norman Schwarzkopf’s father: Norman Schwarzkopf.
The CIA and the British helped to undermine Mossadegh’s government through bribery, libel, and orchestrated riots. Agents posing as communists threatened religious leaders, while the US ambassador lied to the prime minister about alleged attacks on American nationals.
Some 300 people died in firefights in the streets of Tehran.
Mossadegh was overthrown, sentenced to three years in prison followed by house arrest for life."




On the 60th anniversary of the 1953 military coup in Iran that overthrew the government of radical nationalist Mohammad Mossadegh, the US has declassified documents detailing how the CIA’s secret operation brought the country’s Shah back to power.
“American and British involvement in Mossadegh’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup,” the US National Security Archive said.
Monday’s publication under the US Freedom of Information Act came as something of a surprise, since most of the materials and records of the 1953 coup were believed to have been destroyed by the CIA, the Archive said. The CIA said at time that its “safes were too full.”
The newly-revealed documents declassify documents about CIA’s TPAJAX operation that sought regime change in Iran through the bribery of Iranian politicians, security and army high-ranking officials, and massive anti-Mossadegh propaganda that helped to instigate public revolt in 1953.

Mohammad Mosaddegh (Photo from wikipedia.org)
Mohammad Mosaddegh (Photo from wikipedia.org)
Among the declassified documents there are several examples of CIA propaganda presenting Iranian PM Mossadegh disparagingly.
“This propaganda piece accuses the Prime Minister of pretending to be ‘the savior of Iran’ and alleges that he has instead built up a vast spying apparatus which he has trained on virtually every sector of society, from the army to newspapers to political and religious leaders,” the Archive said. “Stirring up images of his purported alliance with ‘murderous Qashqai Khan’ and the Bolsheviks, the authors charge: ‘Is this the way you save Iran, Mossadegh? We know what you want to save. You want to save Mossadegh’s dictatorship in Iran!’”
In April 1951 Iranians democratically elected the head of the National Front party, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, as prime minister. Mossadegh moved quickly to nationalize the assets in Iran of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (the forerunner of today’s BP) a step that brought his government into confrontation with Britain and the US.
Britain’s MI6 military intelligence then teamed up with the CIA and planned, elaborated and carried out a coup that ousted Mossadegh in August 1953 and returned Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power. 
The first attempted coup failed after Mossadegh got wind of the conspiracy, but American and British intelligence services in Iran then improvized a second stage of the coup, pulling pro-Shah forces together and organizing mass protests on August 19, 1953. These protests were immediately supported by army and police. Mossadegh’s house was destroyed after a prolonged assault by pro-coup forces, including several tanks.

Iranian monarchists, August 27, 1953 (AFP Photo)
Mossadegh was replaced with Iranian general Fazlollah Zahedi, who was handpicked by MI6 and the CIA. Mossaddegh was later sentenced to death, but the Shah never dared to carry out the sentence. Mossadegh died in his residence near Tehran in 1967.
Iranian monarchists, August 27, 1953 (AFP Photo) The Shah’s pro-Western dictatorship continued for 27 years and ended with the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which paved the way for today’s Iran, where anti-American sentiments remain strong. The 1953 coup still casts a long shadow over Iranian-US relations. 
The declassified documents originated from an interim report, called “The Battle for Iran,” prepared by a CIA in-house historian in the mid-1970s. The historian wrote: “[T]he military coup that overthrew Mossadegh and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy.” The report also mentions that the US establishment feared that Iran could be “open to Soviet aggression,” and therefore initiated Operation TPAJAX, which eventually became the American part of the joint US-British ‘Operation Ajax’ that brought the Shah to power.
The “aggression” mentioned by the CIA historian is likely a reference to the Soviet Union’s intervention in Iran during WWII, when a USSR-Iran treaty signed in 1940 enabled Moscow to establish military prescriptive in Iran in case of any threat to the borders of the Soviet Union. Moscow did put this treaty to use during the WWII and partly occupied Iran in 1941-1945.


The shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1974) (AFP Photo)The shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1974) (AFP Photo)
The National Security Archive said it that while it “applauds the CIA’s decision to make these materials available, today’s posting shows clearly that these materials could have been safely declassified many years ago without risk of damage to national security.”
Though at least two US Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have publicly acknowledged the US role in the Iranian coup, the intelligence services in Washington have always been reluctant to admit direct involvement in the 1953 coup.
After the collapse of the USSR, the CIA proclaimed a “policy of openness” and made a commitment to declassify some documents regarding Cold War covert operations, including the coup in Iran, by US intelligence.
Three successive CIA directors – Robert M. Gates, R. James Woolsey, and John M. Deutch – promised to publish documents, but none delivered.

Archive deputy director Malcolm Byrne appealed to the US intelligence community  

“to make fully available the remaining records on the coup period.”
“There is no longer good reason to keep secrets about such a critical episode in our recent past. The basic facts are widely known to every schoolchild in Iran. Suppressing the details only distorts history, and feeds into myth-making on all sides,” Byrne said. 

                               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Data Says Huge West Virginia Chemical Spill May Have Been More Toxic Than Reported

By Emily Atkin  
"New Data Says Huge West Virginia Chemical Spill May Have Been More Toxic Than Reported"
Demonstrators hold signs Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. after a Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River tainted the water supply.
Demonstrators hold signs Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. after a Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River tainted the water supply.
CREDIT: AP Photo/John Raby
The mysterious chemical that tainted drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians this past January may have been more toxic than what was previously reported, according to new federally funded research released this afternoon.
Environmental engineer Andrew Whelton tested crude MCHM — a chemical mixture used in the coal production process — and found it to be much more toxic to aquatic life than was reported by Eastman Chemical, the company that makes it. Whelton said he used exactly the same process to test the chemical that Eastman did — the same water chemistry, temperature, quality, and organisms — but found a drastically different result than what was reported on Eastman’s Material Safety Data Sheet for the chemical.
“To be frank, [the drastic difference in results] could be for a number of reasons,” Whelton told ThinkProgress, noting that Eastman did its research on the chemical in 1998. “It could be is that the composition of the crude MCHM they tested in 1998 was different than the crude MCHM [Eastman] sent us in 2014.”
Approximately 10,000 gallons of MCHM spilled into West Virginia’s Elk River on Jan. 9, taking away normal drinking water from 300,000 civilians. In the aftermath, nearly 600 people checked themselves into local hospitals with what federal epidemiologists called “mild” illnesses, such as rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Eastman’s data had been used as a basis for public health response following the spill.
However, Whelton was quick to note that the data did not have implications for human health. What it proved, he said, was only that Eastman’s data on toxicity could not be replicated using the same procedures Eastman used. That could eventually have implications for human health, but only if additional research shows that the chemical had a higher toxicity than previously believed.
“What is important is that the findings further demonstrate that additional work is needed to better understand the short- and long-term toxicity implications of this contaminated water,” Whelton said. “Somebody else needs to replicate Eastman’s work, and if the study that someone else conducts turns out to show that crude MCHM is more toxic, then that calls into question the toxicity data was published that was used as a basis for public health response.”
To get his results, Whelton tested multiple different concentrations of crude MCHM on tiny freshwater fleas called Daphnia magna, a common species used to determine how toxic chemicals are because of how far down they are on the food chain. If their population is impacted, Whelton said, it’s presumed that any spill into the environment could impact organisms higher up on the food chain.
What he found was that the tiny organisms would start dying or becoming immobile at a much lower concentration of exposure to crude MCHM than Eastman Chemical had found in its 1998 report. Specifically, Eastman Chemical had found that, in order for crude MCHM to have no observable effects on the environment, the concentration could be up to 50 milligrams per liter of water. Whelton’s data, however, showed that concentrations of the chemical could only be at a maximum of 6.35 milligrams per liter before having an observable effect.
Whelton, like Eastman did in its 1998 study, also measured how much crude MCHM would have been needed to harm 50 percent of the Daphnia magna population. Eastman’s data revealed that 98.1 milligrams per liter would meet that threshold; Whelton’s found that only approximately 50 milligrams per liter would be needed.
“You expect that, when you conduct a study once, if you do it again, you should get similar results,” he said. “If Eastman’s 1998 data is not accurate or reproducible, then what other information used in the [spill] response is not reproducible?”
Eastman did not immediately return ThinkProgress’ request for comment.
Update
Eastman provided ThinkProgress with a statement responding to Whelton’s findings, posted below.
“As reflected in our Q&A and toxicity testing disclosures at www.eastman.com, Eastman voluntarily sponsored 18 toxicity tests on the product Crude MCHM and its major component MCHM to evaluate the potential hazards to workers in an industrial environment and to the environment. The laboratories that conducted the studies followed Good Laboratory Practice and used Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines. Eastman has no reason to question the conclusions of the authors of the studies. Further, Eastman is unaware of any reason to repeat the studies.
“Eastman has not been provided with copies of the studies conducted by Dr. Whelton, and therefore, we are unable to comment specifically on why he performed a study three times that is traditionally only performed once when appropriate standards and protocols are used. Eastman’s daphnia toxicity test referred to by Dr. Whelton was performed on Crude MCHM. It is also unclear to Eastman which substance Dr. Whelton tested. As has been reported widely, the material spilled by Freedom Industries was a mixture of Crude MCHM and certain other products that are not produced by Eastman.
“Based on our understanding of the spill, the concentration of the material spilled by Freedom Industries in the Elk River never reached a level that caused an impact on aquatic life under either Eastman’s study or Dr. Whelton’s reported findings. Additionally, we are not aware of any reports of impacted aquatic life as a result of the spill.”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

White slaves, Black slaves, Sugar slaves: Ireland to Barbados to Virginia

Irish Slavery
by
James F. Cavanaugh
junglejim@btl.net

There are a great many K/Cavanaughs in North America who trace their ancestry back to a Charles Cavanaugh, who arrived in Virginia, with a brother or cousin named Philemon Cavanagh (Felim or Phelim), on or about 1700. Their descendants most often spell their name with a C, although a variety of both C and K spellings are found, even within the same immediate family.

They were originally concentrated in the Southeastern United States, particularly Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, but now spread to everywhere. Although long standing family traditions trace Charles and Philemon of 1700 arrival back to Colonel Charles Cavanaugh of Carrickduff and Clonmullen, (the son of Sir Morgan Cavanagh, the son of Donnal Spanaigh Cavanagh), a recorded link still evades researchers.

A possible link, however, was found in Barbados, where the birth of a Charles Cavanaugh, son of Charles Cavanaugh, was registered there in January 1679. At the same time, another Cavanagh was registered as inbound on a ship to Barbados from Liverpool. And further complicating the entry is the same registry records the death of a Charles Cavanaugh, son of Charles at the same time. So the questions: was the dead Charles the new born baby; or perhaps the father of the baby; or maybe the inbound Cavanagh who may have died on the trip to Barbados, with his death recorded upon arrival; or another Charles; or�.?

These questions are still unanswered, but a more intriguing question is what were the Cavanaughs doing in Barbados in the first place? The answer takes us down a revolting path wandering through one of the most insensitive and savage episodes in history, where the greed and avarice of the English monarchy systematically planned the genocide of the Irish, for commercial profit, and executed a continuing campaign to destroy all traces of Irish social, cultural and religious being. As the topic was politically sensitive, little has been written about this attempted genocide of the Irish, and what has been written has been camouflaged because it is an ugly and painfully brutal story. But the story should be told.

Transportation and Banishment

If Queen Elizabeth I had lived in the 20th Century. she would have been viewed with the same horror as Hitler and Stalin. Her policy of Irish genocide was pursued with such evil zest it boggles the mind of modern men. But Elizabeth was only setting the stage for the even more savage program that was to follow her, directed specifically to exterminate the Irish. James II and Charles I continued Elizabeth�s campaign, but Cromwell almost perfected it. Few people in modern so-called �civilized history� can match the horrors of Cromwell in Ireland. It is amazing what one man can do to his fellow man under the banner that God sanctions his actions!

During the reign of Elizabeth I, English privateers captured 300 African Negroes, sold them as slaves, and initiated the English slave trade. Slavery was, of course, an old established commerce dating back into earliest history. Julius Caesar brought over a million slaves from defeated armies back to Rome. By the 16th century, the Arabs were the most active, generally capturing native peoples, not just Africans, marching them to a seaport and selling them to ship owners. Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish ships were originally the most active, supplying slaves to the Spanish colonies in America. It was not a big business in the beginning, but a very profitable one, and ship owners were primarily interested only in profits. The morality of selling human beings was never a factor to them.

After the Battle of Kinsale at the beginning of the 17th century, the English were faced with a problem of some 30,000 military prisoners, which they solved by creating an official policy of banishment. Other Irish leaders had voluntarily exiled to the continent, in fact, the Battle of Kinsale marked the beginning of the so-called �Wild Geese�, those Irish banished from their homeland. Banishment, however, did not solve the problem entirely, so James II encouraged selling the Irish as slaves to planters and settlers in the New World colonies. The first Irish slaves were sold to a settlement on the Amazon River In South America in 1612. It would probably be more accurate to say that the first �recorded� sale of Irish slaves was in 1612, because the English, who were noted for their meticulous record keeping, simply did not keep track of things Irish, whether it be goods or people, unless such was being shipped to England. The disappearance of a few hundred or a few thousand Irish was not a cause for alarm, but rather for rejoicing. Who cared what their names were anyway, they were gone.
Almost as soon as settlers landed in America, English privateers showed up with a good load of slaves to sell. The first load of African slaves brought to Virginia arrived at Jamestown in 1619. English shippers, with royal encouragement, partnered with the Dutch to try and corner the slave market to the exclusion of the Spanish and Portuguese. The demand was greatest in the Spanish occupied areas of Central and South America, but the settlement of North America moved steadily ahead, and the demand for slave labor grew.

The Proclamation of 1625 ordered that Irish political prisoners be transported overseas and sold as laborers to English planters, who were settling the islands of the West Indies, officially establishing a policy that was to continue for two centuries. In 1629 a large group of Irish men and women were sent to Guiana, and by 1632, Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat in the West Indies. By 1637 a census showed that 69% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves, which records show was a cause of concern to the English planters. But there were not enough political prisoners to supply the demand, so every petty infraction carried a sentence of transporting, and slaver gangs combed the country sides to kidnap enough people to fill out their quotas.
Although African Negroes were better suited to work in the semi-tropical climates of the Caribbean, they had to be purchased, while the Irish were free for the catching, so to speak. It is not surprising that Ireland became the biggest source of livestock for the English slave trade.

The Confederation War broke out in Kilkenny in 1641, as the Irish attempted to throw out the English yet again, something that seem to happen at least once every generation. Sir Morgan Cavanaugh of Clonmullen, one of the leaders, was killed during a battle in 1646, and his two sons, Daniel and Charles (later Colonel Charles) continued with the struggle until the uprising was crushed by Cromwell in 1649. It is recorded that Daniel and other Carlow Kavanaghs exiled themselves to Spain, where their descendants are still found today, concentrated in the northwestern corner of that country. Young Charles, who married Mary Kavanagh, daughter of Brian Kavanagh of Borris, was either exiled to Nantes, France, or transported to Barbados� or both. Although we haven�t found a record of him in a military life in France, it is known that the crown of Leinster and other regal paraphernalia associated with the Kingship of Leinster was brought to France, where it was on display in Bordeaux, just south of Nantes, until the French Revolution in 1794. As Daniel and Charles were the heirs to the Leinster kingship, one of them undoubtedly brought these royal artifacts to Bordeaux.

In the 12 year period during and following the Confederation revolt, from 1641 to 1652, over 550,000 Irish were killed by the English and 300,000 were sold as slaves, as the Irish population of Ireland fell from 1,466,000 to 616,000. Banished soldiers were not allowed to take their wives and children with them, and naturally, the same for those sold as slaves. The result was a growing population of homeless women and children, who being a public nuisance, were likewise rounded up and sold. But the worse was yet to come.

In 1649, Cromwell landed in Ireland and attacked Drogheda, slaughtering some 30,000 Irish living in the city. Cromwell reported: �I do not think 30 of their whole number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody in the Barbados.� A few months later, in 1650, 25,000 Irish were sold to planters in St. Kitt. During the 1650s decade of Cromwell�s Reign of Terror, over 100,000 Irish children, generally from 10 to 14 years old, were taken from Catholic parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England.

 In fact, more Irish were sold as slaves to the American colonies and plantations from 1651 to 1660 than the total existing �free� population of the Americas!

But all did not go smoothly with Cromwell�s extermination plan, as Irish slaves revolted in Barbados in 1649. They were hanged, drawn and quartered and their heads were put on pikes, prominently displayed around Bridgetown as a warning to others. Cromwell then fought two quick wars against the Dutch in 1651, and thereafter monopolized the slave trade. Four years later he seized Jamaica from

Spain, which then became the center of the English slave trade in the Caribbean.
On 14 August 1652, Cromwell began his Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland, ordering that the Irish were to be transported overseas, starting with 12,000 Irish prisoners sold to Barbados. The infamous �Connaught or Hell� proclamation was issued on 1 May 1654, where all Irish were ordered to be removed from their lands and relocated west of the Shannon or be transported to the West Indies. Those who have been to County Clare, a land of barren rock will understand what an impossible position such an order placed the Irish. A local sheep owner claimed that Clare had the tallest sheep in the world, standing some 7 feet at the withers, because in order to live, there was so little food, they had to graze at 40 miles per hour. With no place to go and stay alive, the Irish were slow to respond. This was an embarrassing problem as Cromwell had financed his Irish expeditions through business investors, who were promised Irish estates as dividends, and his soldiers were promised freehold land in exchange for their services. To speed up the relocation process, a reinforcing law was passed on 26 June 1657 stating: �Those who fail to transplant themselves into Connaught or Co Clare within six months� Shall be attained of high treason� are to be sent into America or some other parts beyond the seas� those banished who return are to suffer the pains of death as felons by virtue of this act, without benefit of Clergy.�

Although it was not a crime to kill any Irish, and soldiers were encouraged to do so, the slave trade proved too profitable to kill off the source of the product. Privateers and chartered shippers sent gangs out with quotas to fill, and in their zest as they scoured the countryside, they inadvertently kidnapped a number of English too. On March 25, 1659, a petition of 72 Englishmen was received in London, claiming they were illegally �now in slavery in the Barbados�' . The petition also claimed that "7,000-8,000 Scots taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester in 1651 were sold to the British plantations in the New World,� and that �200 Frenchmen had been kidnapped, concealed and sold in Barbados for 900 pounds of cotton each."

Subsequently some 52,000 Irish, mostly women and sturdy boys and girls, were sold to Barbados and Virginia alone. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were taken prisoners and ordered transported and sold as slaves. In 1656, Cromwell�s Council of State ordered that 1000 Irish girls and 1000 Irish boys be rounded up and taken to Jamaica to be sold as slaves to English planters. As horrendous as these numbers sound, it only reflects a small part of the evil program, as most of the slaving activity was not recorded. There were no tears shed amongst the Irish when Cromwell died in 1660.
The Irish welcomed the restoration of the monarchy, with Charles II duly crowned, but it was a hollow expectation. After reviewing the profitability of the slave trade, Charles II chartered the Company of Royal Adventurers in 1662, which later became the Royal African Company. The Royal Family, including Charles II, the Queen Dowager and the Duke of York, then contracted to supply at least 3000 slaves annually to their chartered company. They far exceeded their quotas.
There are records of Irish sold as slaves in 1664 to the French on St. Bartholomew, and English ships which made a stop in Ireland enroute to the Americas, typically had a cargo of Irish to sell on into the 18th century.
Few people today realize that from 1600 to 1699, far more Irish were sold as slaves than Africans.

Slaves or Indentured Servants

There has been a lot of whitewashing of the Irish slave trade, partly by not mentioning it, and partly by labeling slaves as indentured servants. There were indeed indentureds, including English, French, Spanish and even a few Irish. But there is a great difference between the two. Indentures bind two or more parties in mutual obligations. Servant indentures were agreements between an individual and a shipper in which the individual agreed to sell his services for a period of time in exchange for passage, and during his service, he would receive proper housing, food, clothing, and usually a piece of land at the end of the term of service. It is believed that some of the Irish that went to the Amazon settlement after the Battle of Kinsale and up to 1612 were exiled military who went voluntarily, probably as indentureds to Spanish or Portuguese shippers.

However, from 1625 onward the Irish were sold, pure and simple as slaves. There were no indenture agreements, no protection, no choice. They were captured and originally turned over to shippers to be sold for their profit. Because the profits were so great, generally 900 pounds of cotton for a slave, the Irish slave trade became an industry in which everyone involved (except the Irish) had a share of the profits.

Treatment

Although the Africans and Irish were housed together and were the property of the planter owners, the Africans received much better treatment, food and housing. In the British West Indies the planters routinely tortured white slaves for any infraction. Owners would hang Irish slaves by their hands and set their hands or feet afire as a means of punishment. To end this barbarity, Colonel William Brayne wrote to English authorities in 1656 urging the importation of Negro slaves on the grounds that, "as the planters would have to pay much more for them, they would have an interest in preserving their lives, which was wanting in the case of (Irish)...." many of whom, he charged, were killed by overwork and cruel treatment. African Negroes cost generally about 20 to 50 pounds Sterling, compared to 900 pounds of cotton (about 5 pounds Sterling) for an Irish. They were also more durable in the hot climate, and caused fewer problems. The biggest bonus with the Africans though, was they were NOT Catholic, and any heathen pagan was better than an Irish Papist. Irish prisoners were commonly sentenced to a term of service, so theoretically they would eventually be free. In practice, many of the slavers sold the Irish on the same terms as prisoners for servitude of 7 to 10 years.

There was no racial consideration or discrimination, you were either a freeman or a slave, but there was aggressive religious discrimination, with the Pope considered by all English Protestants to be the enemy of God and civilization, and all Catholics heathens and hated. Irish Catholics were not considered to be Christians. On the other hand, the Irish were literate, usually more so than the plantation owners, and thus were used as house servants, account keepers, scribes and teachers. But any infraction was dealt with the same severity, whether African or Irish, field worker or domestic servant.
Floggings were common, and if a planter beat an Irish slave to death, it was not a crime, only a financial loss, and a lesser loss than killing a more expensive African. Parliament passed the Act to Regulate Slaves on British Plantations in 1667, designating authorized punishments to include whippings and brandings for slave offenses against a Christian. Irish Catholics were not considered Christians, even if they were freemen.

The planters quickly began breeding the comely Irish women, not just because they were attractive, but because it was profitable,,, as well as pleasurable. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, and although an Irish woman may become free, her children were not. Naturally, most Irish mothers remained with their children after earning their freedom. Planters then began to breed Irish women with African men to produce more slaves who had lighter skin and brought a higher price. The practice became so widespread that in 1681, legislation was passed �forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.� This legislation was not the result of any moral or racial consideration, but rather because the practice was interfering with the profits of the Royal African Company! It is interesting to note that from 1680 to 1688, the Royal African Company sent 249 shiploads of slaves to the Indies and American Colonies, with a cargo of 60,000 Irish and Africans. More than 14,000 died during passage.

Following the Battle of the Boyne and the defeat of King James in 1691, the Irish slave trade had an overloaded inventory, and the slavers were making great profits. The Spanish slavers were a competition nuisance, so in 1713, the Treaty of Assiento was signed in which Spain granted England exclusive rights to the slave trade, and England agreed to supply Spanish colonies 4800 slaves a year for 30 years. England shipped tens of thousands of Irish prisoners after the 1798 Irish Rebellion to be sold as slaves in the Colonies and Australia.

Curiously, of all the Irish shipped out as slaves, not one is known to have returned to Ireland to tell their tales.
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There were horrendous abuses by the slavers, both to Africans and Irish. The records show that the British ship Zong was delayed by storms, and as their food was running low, they decided to dump 132 slaves overboard to drownso the crew would have plenty to eat. If the slaves died due to �accident�, the loss was covered by insurance, but not if they starved to death. Another British ship, the Hercules averaged a 37% death rate on passages. The Atlas II landed with 65 of the 181 slaves found dead in their chains. But that is another story.
White slaves
Many, if not most, died on the ships transporting them or from overwork and abusive treatment on the plantations. The Irish that did obtain their freedom, frequently emigrated on to the American mainland, while others moved to adjoining islands. On Montserrat, seven of every 10 whites were Irish. Comparable 1678 census figures for the other Leeward Islands were: 26 per cent Irish on Antigua; 22 per cent on Nevis; and 10 per cent on St Christopher. Although 21,700 Irish slaves were purchased by Barbados planters from 1641 to 1649, there never seemed to have been more than about 8 to 10 thousand surviving at any one time. What happened to them? Well, the pages of the telephone directories on the West Indies islands are filled with Irish names, but virtually none of these �black Irish� know anything about their ancestors or their history. On the other hand, many West Indies natives spoke Gaelic right up until recent years. They know they are strong survivors who descended from black white slaves, but only in the last few years have any of them taken an interest in their heritage
The economics of slavery permeated all levels of English life. When the Bishop of Exeter learned that there was a movement afoot to ban the slave trade, he reluctantly agreed to sell his 655 slaves, provided he was properly compensated for the loss. Finally, in 1839, a bill was passed in England forbidding the slave trade, bringing an end to Irish misery.

British commerce shifted to opium in China.

An end to Irish misery? Well, perhaps just a pause. During the following decade thousands of tons of butter, grain and beef were shipped from Ireland as over 2 million Irish starved to death in the great famine, and a great many others went to America and Australia. The population of Ireland fell from over 9 million to bottom out at less than 3 million. Another chapter, another time, another method�. same people, same results.

Cavanaghs in Barbados

Did the Cavanaghs in Barbados arrive there as slaves? Yes, definitely. Which Cavanaghs is hard to pinpoint. The registry at St. Michaels Parish contains the birth and death of a Charles Cavanagh, son of Charles, which suggests that they were freemen, as records were not kept for slaves. There is a record of another Cavanagh living on a small allotment acreage in Barbados, ironically with a given name of Oliver. (Someone had a sadistic sense of humor.)
White sugar slaves
Oliver Cavanagh had to be a freed slave or descended from one, and because his parents are not noted, they had to be slaves. There are records in Ireland of a number of petitions filed over a number of years after Cromwell by Mary Cavanagh, wife of Col. Charles, seeking his pardon and return of lands, indicating Charles was transported. Recently, Jimmy Kavanagh of Dublin has found a registry containing over a dozen Kavanaghs in Haiti. Perhaps someday, we will be able to sort this out, but it is doubtful.
We will explore Charles and Philemon of Virginia in more detail in another article.