Friday, June 12, 2015

No. 152 – June 11, 2015 – The Families of 9/11 Want to Know. Do you?

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Having lost people they loved to the horrific deaths viewed on television as the Towers fell, the families of those who died demanded to know who was responsible for the attacks. Although the event is now nearly fifteen years in the past the question remains open. But is it?

Andrew Kreig, attorney and independent journalist in Washington DC, today published an article outlining the political use made of the issue, beginning with the sequestering of a report written in 2002 which many believe would, if made available, answer many of the questions still lingering.

outlines the attempts on the part of Paul and his co-sponsors Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon, to achieve passage of a bill which would make the information public. Announcement of the attempt took place at a June 2 press conference on Capitol Hill which was attended by members of the 9/11 families.

The report, which is said to document the role of Saudi Arabia in funding 15 of the 19 terrorists responsible for the attacks is only 28 pages in length, but versions available are so heavily redacted as to render them meaningless.

Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) stood with Paul at the news conference on the 2nd. Graham co-chaired the 9/11 Joint Committee, co-authoring the report. At the time, in 2002, the three-term senator was also chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Children of the 9/11 victims, some of whom were babies at the time, are now demanding the release of the 28 page report as well.

Clearly, the identities of those who funded the terrorists remains relevant today, along with the reasons why such information would have been denied to the public for so long. America went to war over the issue of 9/11. Without funding, most believe there would have been no terrorist attacks possible.
Americans were lead into a series of wars based on information which the Bush administration knew to be false at the time the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were sold to the American people as necessary to stop terrorism.
We now know Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein, a former American CIA asset expressed willingness to leave Iraq, if paid. Do Americans want the facts? You bet they do. And they want it now.

Friday, June 5, 2015

No. 151 – June 4, 2015 – The Plains Truth – Santa Barbara Spills 1969 - 2015

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In 1968 Union Oil decided they needs a new kind of PR representative so they went into local schools to find boy scouts who would like to learn about the oil business. One young man, named David Lincoln, then fourteen, was useful to them the next year in the wake of the Santa Barbara Spill.

The PR Representative, who also made an unsuccessful run for State Senate from Compton, took Dave and a few other boys up to Santa Barbara to watch the clean-up. Young Dave, who had just turned fifteen, did a series of appearances on radio shows, reading a script he shared with the show host, presenting Union Oil as a responsible company, extremely concerned about the environment.

When Dave spoke those words he believed them. Men he respected had told him they were. A quiet boy, Dave enjoyed what he was learning about the technology of oil drilling. He was encouraged to make working for oil companies his career, which he did, taking the courses they recommended at USC, which was nearby for his degree in Geology.

Over the next 25 years Dave worked for oil companies on seven continents in increasingly responsible and well paid positions. He began to see many things which shocked him, but he continued to believe the industry cared about doing the right thing for people and the environment.

It was working directly with Ken Lay, CEO of Enron which changed his mind.

Dave was in charge of putting a pipeline across the island. Instead of building this through a pristine forest he tried to persuade Ken Lay to take a slightly longer, easier route. Lay's sneering comments about the the damage which would be done to the forest ended in Dave walking away from a six figure salary and returning to the US. There, he joined Green Peace, beginning an intense study of how the oil industry evaded accountability for the shocking damage to life and the environment Dave knew they were doing.

As an insider, Dave was able to expose them. As an expert witness in court Dave's testimony brought clarity to the systemic cover-ups they were carrying out to optimize their profits with no concern for human life. No oil company won when Dave was able to give testimony.

A showdown is finally coming. It will take place on the beach in Santa Barbara County. Get the popcorn ready.

Friday, May 29, 2015

No. 150 – May 28, 2015 – The Ghost of General Smedley Butler

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

General Butler, the most decorated American military figure of the first half of the 20th Century, wrote a book about his military service titled, “War is a Racket.” The corporate cabal, which reportedly included a du Pont and Prescott Bush, asked him to assist in removing FDR from office in 1934, were deceived by Butler's vocal criticisms of FDR, and unfamiliar with his belief his service to his country had actually made him an enforcer for the corporations. Smedley was alive to the impropriety of using America's military might to intimidate small central and south American countries for the profit of corporations controlled by these men.

Instead of handling their problem for these wealthy folks Smedley reported them to Roosevelt, who was well aware of the hazards of having the heads of houses of banking which included Morgan as well, arrested. FDR leaked word of the plan, which would have placed Butler in the White House, to the press.

This resulted in a Congressional investigation which achieved nearly as much as the Warren Commission would thirty years later. It was four years before the terrified men would publish their findings, marked for, “restricted circulation.” Sadly, the General, recipient of two Medals of Honor, died unexpectedly in 1940, just before our entry into World War II.

Charges conveyed by General Butler, which the committee confirmed, included the information a million people had agreed to join the insurrection using arms and munitions made available by a close associate of du Pont, Remington.

Many of those involved were still the heads of their various corporations when charges of doing business with German corporations during World War II surfaced. This continued to be true when departing president, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his speech warning Americans of the dangers they faced during his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961.

Nothing had changed when John Perkins published his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” in 2004. Perkins work ensured the continued flow of money from smaller and weaker nations into the same corporate interests who schemed to remove FDR in 1933 and who did remove JFK in 1963.

Since then occupiers of the Oval Office have been much less likely to make waves, understanding who is really in charge. Choosing between Jeb and Hillary is just picking between, “chocolate or strawberry.” They are both corporate ice cream, bad for us and America.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No. 149 – Hats, Friendship, and Looking Back

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In 2002 I had not yet met Mario – and he had not run into the enormous problem created intentionally by the mortgage industry to expedite foreclosures, using the housing market to create derivatives which could then be monetized, becoming an investment. Mario, whose training is in dress design of all kinds, solved his own problem and has helped thousands of other people keep their homes. He is that kind of guy, warm, compassionate, and determined.

Attorneys pay him to update them on foreclosures and how new case law is changing the outcome for many. Mario became obsessive on the subject and devoured law books when he realized how people were being harmed. Along with telling me about his work for people facing foreclosure Marion also mentioned to me in an off-handed way, he makes hats.

While I know any number of people who are struggling financially I only knew one other person with a passion for hats. Naturally, I introduced them. Tonight we chatted for nearly an hour tonight via conference call. Mario and Maggie got along like gang-busters.

Maggie once owned a hat shop and loved being a milliner. She is also in foreclosure herself. So, it was a very fertile conversation, so to speak. They are now planning a website to sell hats and help people facing foreclosure. Mario has shown many people how to handle their own cases. Good things.

Planning out deceptive behavior which takes people's homes should be a crime. Deceptive behavior is a problem in other instances as well.

I had just gotten around to reading “Rove Exposed,” by James Moore and Wayne Slater, published in 2006. But the story about Rove that arrested my interest was the sneak way he orchestrated the sale of invading Iraq. When it happened it was easy to forget the details, but in the book, there they were, with dates and who said what, documented and easy to understand.

But Slater and Moore left out the best part of the story. After the sales job done to persuade Americans Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in November, 2002 he contacted the Bush White House and offered to leave Iraq – if they just paid him. For me, the time line in “Rove Exposed” explained why Rove was so anxious to make sure Saddam did not go anywhere. And Saddam could never speak out.

Imagine that.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

No. 146 - April 30, 2015 – Ketchikan, Totem Poles, and Postcards

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Erika, from the Ketchikan Museum, emailed me using our contact form to ask about some of the images in their collection from the Gold Rush years in Alaska. The museum had, she told me, a number of images from Arthur C. Pillsbury, who had passed through the town on his way up to the mining fields with his cameras, including the circuit panorama camera he had designed and built while a senior at Stanford in 1897. He paused to record images of the totem poles and native people, as they worked and carried out their every day lives. These shots show the inside of native homes with the mixture of possessions of their own making along with objects manufactured elsewhere.

These images fascinate people today, showed a world now lost, and many of them have survived as post cards. While postal cards were in use from around 1851 the one penny post cards, privately printed, were only authorized by Congress on May 19, 1898.

The City of Ketchikan sponsors two museums, one for the largest existing collection of native totem poles and another for the history of their community stretching back to its founding in the 1880s to process the abundant salmon in the offshore waters.

The most southern town in Alaska, Ketchikan is also the earliest town, boasting a population of around 8,000 people, making it the tenth largest town in Alaska.

Today the Totem Heritage Center serves the town as a cultural center, a resource for appreciating and continuing the artistic traditions of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people.

Grandfather went to Alaska to record the opening of the mining fields. Once there, he became fascinated by its native population, caught in a transition enforced on them by the overwhelming influence of Western culture. Those images which remain are still compelling today.

As Grandfather traveled through Alaska he would sometimes leave a supply of glass negatives with a local merchant, starting a Pillsbury Studio to print more cards. Purchased and mailed, these traveled around the world.

His originals were lost on April 18, 1906 in the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. So, when one of his images turns up from places you would never expect each one is precious. And even now the number of images rediscovered is steadily increasing. I never know what to expect when I open an email. But it can be wonderful.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

No. 145 – April 23, 2015 – Snow Flakes, Heart Aches and Prayer

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

It's not that there were a lot of snow flakes today – it was having any of them still with us when Mother's Day is right around the corner and stories are starting to receive 4th of July merchandise. Of course, I'm from California and there we expect winter to last maybe a weekend. So I watched the snow flakes drift down for a while trying to make it to the ground. Our lives are like snow flakes, you know. Living can be tough, even when gravity is working with you instead of against you.

For all of us life is uncertain. Good and bad, things happen. That is one of the reasons I signed up to pray.

At St. Peter Church we have a Cycle of Prayer. Pat Hazeltine sends out the names of people who need our prayers and we send those prayers out to God for them. It is a wonderful experience to know you are not alone. As you pray, others are as well. We connect and grow.

There was a time when requests came in over the telephone, now we receive these via the internet. So sometimes I open my email box and there is a Prayer Request waiting for me. I always open them first. You never know what you will find. Sometimes you know the person; sometimes it is a complete stranger whose life you will touch – and it does not matter.

As Christians we know we are One in Christ and so praying for someone we will never meet, holding them in your mind and heart as you reach out for them in prayer, matters.

There are no rules for prayer. You pray for those who have died, those left to mourn and those struggling with the problems to which each of us are subject. Prayers are given for those who have made it through surgery and those facing any kind of hardship you can imagine.

Praying always makes me feel closer to Christ, that ineffable presence which is always there if we will put aside ego and receive Him.

Prayer brings insights to your own life as well. The act of praying breaks down the barriers within which life builds even without our knowing it. Prayer has become a path to self-discovery for me, and for millions.

Snowflakes and prayers. Unexpected blessings releasing us to more fully love one another.

Friday, April 17, 2015

No. 144 – April 17, 2015 – Bushnell, Zenger, and the Shot Heard 'Round the World

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
His last name was Bushnell, and if his voice had not been raised during jury deliberations in 1670 William Penn, who had defied the Crown and preached his Quaker faith, would not have lived to found Pennsylvania. Many in Ashtabula have roots in the former colony east of here, which he named.
Bushnell and his fellow jurors were confined and fined for their temerity when they defied the royal mandate to find Penn guilty. The lives of Penn and his friend, Mead, hung by two dissenting votes.
The judge sent the jury back three times to reconsider their verdict saying, “a verdict that the court will accept, and you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco....We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it."
It took a writ of Habeas Corpus to free the jurors, Penn and Mead. Penn came to the colonies and so was Pennsylvania founded.
The English tradition for the Common Law and the rights of the people to defy the dictates of authority again influenced the writing in 1735 during the trial of John Peter Zenger, who had defied the Royal Governor of New York and published the truth about him.
Zenger languished in prison for eight months before standing trial. But the publication of his newspaper continued, overseen by his wife.
Words, the truth, are the first defense against oppression. Disinformation and the suppression of truth destroy freedom. The Founders, who were certainly aware of both precedents, Penn and Zenger. They understood the nasty tendencies of government to use its power to stifle dissent and the truth.
The ratification of the Constitution hung in the balance as Mason traded with Madison and the deciding factor was the inclusion of the Bill of Rights that secured to each of us guarantees for the limitation of government power.
It is the ideas thus enshrined that connect us to the truth of America's Mission Statement. America is made up of people who are, themselves, the government. The truth matters.
Today, it is the suppression of the truth by authorities by redaction, evasion and deceit again threaten the essential freedoms won for us by our ancestors. We need the facts because truth is the foundation of freedom.
April 18th marks the 260th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Get the truth, it matters to each of us.