Tag Archives: Robert Bridge

‘Six Californias’ plan to split up most populous US state gets green light

Six Californias 1024x541 ‘Six Californias’ plan to split up most populous US state gets green light
A wealthy US investor got the go-ahead for his campaign to carve up California into six separate states, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Critics call the plan just another scheme for the wealthy to hoard tax dollars.
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While initiatives to split up America’s most populated state have been floated since at least around the time of the Civil War, Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Tim Draper, may just have the clout and connections to pull it off.

Draper, who has made a fortune investing in internet startups, like Skype and Hotmail, believes that California is simply too populated and diverse to adequately address the demands of its residents, according to Draper’s plan.

Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically,” the plan reads.

The initiative aims to carve up the state of some 38 million inhabitants into “six smaller state governments, while preserving the historical boundaries of the various counties, cities and towns.

With the current structure, California is “ungovernable,” Draper told USA Today.

“‘Six Californias’ allows a refresh,” he added.

If Draper’s plans for California become a reality, the bulk of the state’s wealth, centered on Silicon Valley, home to a number of household tech names, including Google and Facebook, and South California, which is the seat of Hollywood and the US entertainment industry.

Jefferson, North California, West California and South California would be forced to fight over a dramatically reduced tax pie.

Six Californias chart layout ‘Six Californias’ plan to split up most populous US state gets green light

Tax haven California-style?

Instead of redressing the myriad problems now affecting the citizens of California, however, Draper believes carving up the state is the answer.

In a recent interview, the managing partner for Draper Fisher Jurvetson said California’s poorest regions “are not happy” because the system is “not working for them.”

So if they had their own state, I believe all of those states would become wealthier. And I believe by managing their own state, they will become much more successful,” Draper told Time.

Although Draper’s plan encourages “regional cooperation,” the six-state scheme will also create competition between the states, which, according to the plan, “will lead to better and more responsive governance.

That means that states with high-growth sectors, like the proposed state of Silicon Valley, which in 2012 ranked eighth in global GDP rankings, according to the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, and the state of Central California, home of Hollywood, would have an unfair advantage when it comes to collecting tax revenue.

Indeed, critics say the ‘Six Californias’ campaign is nothing more than a scheme for making sure that the taxes of wealthy individuals like Draper gets ‘redistributed’ inside their own affluent neighborhoods.

The proposed initiative comes at a time when an increasing number of corporations – many of them from Silicon Valley – are hiding their tax dollars overseas, avoiding the tax man altogether.

The top 10 corporate tax avoiders happen to be tech companies:

1. Microsoft, $76.4 billion
2. IBM, $44.4 billion
3. Cisco Systems, $41.3 billion
4. Apple, $40.4 billion
5. Hewlett-Packard, $33.4 billion
6. Google, $33.3 billion
7. Oracle, $26.2 billion
8. Dell, $19.0 billion
9. Intel, $17.5 billion
10. Qualcomm, $16.4 billion
Source: Bloomberg, August 2013

Draper’s initiative will require at least 807,615 petition signers, or 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial elections, by July 18 to make it on to the November ballot.

 

Source: RT

New Mexico nuclear waste site has ‘radiological event’

new mexico nuclear leak New Mexico nuclear waste site has ‘radiological event’

Officials are monitoring the levels of airborne radiation at the deep underground facility in southeastern New Mexico where the US government disposes of its low-grade nuclear waste.

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Air samples were taken around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) after a monitoring system detected traces of radiation on the underground levels of the facility around 11:30 pm Friday night, the US Department of Energy said in a news release.
The 139 workers above ground at the time of the incident were ordered Saturday to remain where they were as a precaution. None of the employees tested positive for radioactive contamination, and all non-essential personnel were released, Department of Energy spokesman Roger Nelson said.

Nelson said the cause of the leak remains a mystery, since inspection crews have not yet gone underground. He added that he was not sure when that would happen.

Surface samples show no sign of radiation, thus suggesting the leak was “not significant,” he said.

But officials aren’t taking any chances.

“We are going to take measurements and make sure we understand it” before sending down a team, Nelson said.

US Rep. Steve Pearce issued a statement, saying: “WIPP has acted quickly and cautiously to ensure the safety of personnel and the local community.”

The incident comes on the heels of an underground truck fire at the facility that prompted an evacuation. Six workers were treated for smoke inhalation on Feb. 5.

Asked if the incidents were related, Nelson said: “I just can’t think of a scenario where there would be a relationship.”

WIPP is the country’s only deep nuclear waste facility. It takes plutonium-contaminated waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear projects.

It is located approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in a region known as the southeastern New Mexico nuclear corridor, which also includes the National Enrichment Facility near Eunice.

Source: RT

 

Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

drone 11 Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

Top-secret documentation collected by Pakistani field officers gives detailed information on 330 US drone strikes that have occurred in Pakistan since 2006. The CIA-run program is estimated to have killed 2,371 people.

From solitary individuals riding on horseback to mountain hideouts crammed with people, the CIA drone program has had no shortage of targets in the Islamic Republic, according to newly released information obtained by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).
Continue reading «Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data»

The most complete official record of American drone activity in Pakistan yet published provides an account as to the time and place of each strike, even including in some cases the identity of the homeowners.

The document is unique in that it provides a “strike-by-strike account,” opening the window on Pakistan’s view of each incident with that of other authorities.

Strangely, the retrieved data stops recording civilian casualties after 2008, while even failing to mention details of civilian deaths that have been widely acknowledged by the Pakistani authorities. It also inexplicably excludes information from the year 2007.

The news watchdog said the leaked documents are based on information filed to the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Secretariat each evening by local Political Agents in the field. However, TBIJ noted that the leaked documents are just one of several sources of information the Pakistani government has on US drone activity in the country.

paki 1 Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

 

‘Naming the dead’

Last July, TBIJ published the first part of the document, which detailed US drone strikes in the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan between 2006 and late 2009.The information showed that Islamabad was aware of hundreds of civilian casualties – even in incidences where it had officially refused to acknowledge such deaths had occurred.

In the first part of the report, 746 people are listed as killed in the drone strikes, at least 147 of the victims are said to be civilians, 94 of which are thought to be children. From 2009 to Sept. 2013, it is estimated that 1, 625 people were killed by drone strikes, a figure that closely matches those of the TBIJ.

The London-based journalism watchdog emphasized that some entries in the report included ambiguous language, hinting that possible civilian deaths are being deliberately concealed.

On March 17 2011, for instance, a meeting of tribal elders fell victim to a US drone strike that left 41 people killed. The attack was condemned by Pakistani officials. The report, however, only states that ‘it is feared that all the killed were local tribesmen’.

TBIJ says it has repeatedly found evidence of civilian deaths in strikes where local media have used ambiguous terms, such as ‘villagers,’ ‘people’ and ‘local tribesmen’.

Another entry in the documents suggests problems with identifying exactly who is considered a ‘militant’. For a strike on April 12 2010, it shows 14 deaths and three wounded, noting: ‘The killed militants also include a 12 years [sic] old child.’

‘Whatever is happening, if this document is anything to go by, it’s clear the Pakistan government’s investigations are not adequate,’ Mustafa Qadri, a researcher for Amnesty International Amnesty, told the journalism watchdog. ‘First, this table does not appear to be telling us the whole truth about casualties.

‘Secondly, what steps have Pakistan authorities taken to assist civilians caught up in these strikes like access to medical services or provide them with remedies such as access to justice or compensation? … It doesn’t seem to be the case that this record keeping is carried out so that the Pakistan state can better assist people caught up in these strikes.’

The data also gives little information on other details, such as which organisation the killed are said to have belonged to, or even the names of those killed. Even in instances when senior militants are reportedly killed, they are rarely identified by name.

As TBIJ discovered with its Naming the Dead report, the overwhelming majority of those killed in drone strikes remain unidentified: only about one in five victims have so far been identified by name.

paki2 Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

 

Drone backlash

Amid growing evidence showing that US drone strikes are not as ‘surgical’ as the Pentagon believes them to be, US officials continue to downplay the collateral damage connected with its drone campaign.

In a report dated August 11, 2011, the New York Times quoted US officials, who spoke on the condition anonymity, that the US Drone program “has killed more than 2,000 militants and about 50 noncombatants since 2001,” a hit-miss ratio that the paper described as a “stunningly low collateral death rate by the standards of traditional airstrikes.”

The findings of the document are at odds with CIA Director John O. Brennan’s claim in June 2011 that that for almost a year, “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.”

The enduring belief in the flawless execution of aerial drone technology, which allows military personnel to take out enemy combatants, often many miles away from the action, is not without its critics. Indeed, some of them are members of the US military itself.

“What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world,” retired General Stanley McChrystal said in an interview earlier this month. “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

McChrystal said the use of drones creates a “perception of American arrogance that says, ‘Well we can fly where we want, we can shoot where we want, because we can.’”

Meanwhile, Islamabad has so far refused to confirm the authenticity of the latest leaked information obtained by TBIJ, but it is not refuting the document’s claims of high civilian deaths.

‘I am not in a position to authenticate the veracity of this report, but the facts that are being revealed are something which is not new,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Choudhry told Voice of America. ‘We have always said that drone strikes cause civilian casualties.’

Source: RT