Archive for oil

Brief History of Haitian Misery

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by chouck017894

Haiti, 2010.  Early on after an inner-earth adjustment under Haiti, the armchair prophet, Pat Robertson, was spouting divine obscenity saying that nature’s violence was all the Haitians fault for having had the audacity to rebel against slavery in 1791.  Fantasy of “divine retribution” is such a tired, worn-out, empty-headed response to natural fluctuations of planet energy.  Such nonsense is but a stubborn clutching at superstition in the name of religious posturing.  Equally disgusting has been the number of “reporters” and “commentators” that have mangled history to disguise their inner prejudice or to blow more hot air into their assumed superior grasp of timely events.

The columnist Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post comes to mind, whose reporting commonly begins with her blowing kisses to herself.  In her assessment, the tragedy was all a man-made disaster.  Forget the massive earthquake; it was the weakness within the public institutions that was at fault for the physical collapse of buildings on a monumental scale.  One of those buildings was the Presidential Palace—which just happened to have been built by US Marines that occupied Haiti, 1925-1934.  The majority of other public buildings were built under the supervision of well-schooled architects using the most advanced techniques of the period. 

So what.  Applebaum goes on to judge the basic assistance available after the Haitian disaster and finds it all below the cooperative relief efforts made available after the tsunami roared out of the Indian Ocean, or, say, the (not so perfect) federal response after Hurricane Katrina.  Applebaum apparently chose to ignore that the Haitian government was weak to begin with, having never really been able to shake free from a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism, and a massive debt imposed upon them by France as punitive reparation payment before they were allowed unhindered international trade.  In addition, Haiti has had to endure such things as economic sanctions, US meddling and intrusion, the cost of initiating the government, powerful drug traffickers, a weak and corrupt government, a paralyzed legislature, and a billion $ debt to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Bank.  So comparing Haitian relief efforts to those carried out in New Orléans, USA (August 2005) and tsunami victims in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Maldives (December 2004) where a slightly kinder history and better conditions existed is absurd.

Other commentators have also thrown guilt-implying judgment upon Haiti’s plight.  One in the New York Times, David Brooks, went so far as to blame the culture of Haiti as the cause for the severity of the earthquake.  To accent his point, he compared Haiti with Barbados, stating that Barbados had suffered slavery and colonialism too, but was doing “pretty well.”  Ignored by him were some pertinent facts.  Haitians slaves refused to wear chains in 1791, and established their nation in 1804.  Barbadians, however, endured the less brutal British slave practices, and the Brits abandoned slavery around the 1850s, so Barbados history is far less bloody.  Indeed, Barbados did not even attain independence until 1966.   

US meddling mentioned here earlier was in reference to Washington instigating the placement of dictators (Papa Doc and Baby Doc) who used the nation’s treasury as their personal bank account.  Although they were finally removed (through the very ones who had sponsored them), the US-directed International Monetary Fund will now undoubtedly demand that the nation continue to repay all the international loans that had been taken out in Haiti’s name by those aforementioned US-sponsored leaders.  An open secret is that the IMF targets Third-World nations, and the western banking industry is apparently backed by the American weapons industry.  Then there is the smell of OIL that waifs up from the fractured Haitian territory, and it promises a potentiality equal to that of its nearby neighbor, Venezuela.  Kind of makes one wonder if all the American military personnel now swarming over Haiti have only humanitarian reasons for being deployed there.

Echoes Through History

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, faith, history, humanity, Middle Ages,, politics, random, religion with tags , , , , on August 9, 2009 by chouck017894

Over the passage of time, history has a way of duplicating events—not exactly the repetition of events but giving forth variations on a plot line with a different setting.

We would hardly think, for example, that recent events in the United States today would have anything in common with the militaristic religiosity that propelled the Crusades of the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries which brought needless distress to Europe and the Near East.  At that time the western powers (hard-line church politics) cast covetous eyes toward Jerusalem, ostensibly as a point of pilgrimage to the alleged tomb of Jesus.  But the Muslim brand of spiritual understanding, although giving recognition to Jesus, did not relish the idea of foreigners overrunning their territory and digging around for a legendary but unconfirmed burial site.  So the Caliph, al-Hakim, called “the mad” in western cultures, barred further pilgrimage passage through the territory.  Christians were whipped up by the pope and priests to wax indignant, hateful and belligerent (as right-wingers in the U.S. are today), and the barring of access to Jerusalem was assessed by the church and Europeans as “persecution.”

Around the year 1090 profound religious fervor permeated all sections of the European population, the Muslim nations were arming themselves, and countries such as France and Germany were impoverished.  Thus in 1095 Pope Urban II exhorted Christendom to take up arms and march to take Jerusalem by force, and the stage was set for seven bloody Crusades stretching over three centuries.

The motivation for the Crusades was always claimed to be religious, of course, but the results just happened to bring wealth and prestige to the church.  This tended to disenchant many gentle Christians who believed that enriching spiritual understanding was supposed to be the foremost function of the church.

As unalike as these time-separated scenarios may seem to be, there are many incidents of today that parallel the Crusade times—not the least of which is the boisterous religiosity that has increasingly infected the governing of the USA through the last few decades.  Add to this that today the Near East region is disenchanted with foreigners overrunning their territory in pursuit of oil to satisfy the high priests of commercialism.

Like the propaganda-inspired Dark Ages crusades where only the high politicos of the Catholic Church gained materially, today the only ones that really gain anything from the bloody and costly intrusion upon  foreign nations are the high priests of corporate commerce.  Let us hope that their lust for material accumulation does not last for over three centuries as did the Crusades.

Faith-Ba$ed $cams

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, life, religion with tags , , , on June 22, 2009 by chouck017894

Con artists like to set up their investment fraud operations amid groups of  persons that are inclined to avoid rational inquiry and analysis.  It should not be surprising, therefore, that through the last few decades, as religious fanaticism has garnered considerable public attention in the United States, there was a virtual plague of such operations targeting those of faith.

Oil hustling and “biblical prophecy” may sound  to be improbable bedfellows, but they made for a hot and tainted love match for at least a generation.  In the last few decades multimillions of dollars were poured into penny-stock oil schemes lured by hustlers utilizing biblical passages that supposedly prophesized that great wealth lay hidden beneath the sands of Israel.  In addition a passage from the book of Ezekiel was cunningly interpreted that Armageddon will be triggered when a confederacy of nations attack Israel to “take a great spoil”—implying it meant oil—and spiritual craving and greed for material riches mated in frenzied fornication in the hearts of true believers.

Among the biblical references used by the oil hustlers have been verses from Deuteronomy 33 where Moses allegedly viewed the Holy Land from Mount Nebo and foretold the blessings that awaited Jacob’s  twelve sons.  The blessings alluded to “precious things” (verse 16) locked beneath the earth and “treasures hid in the sand” (verse 19); and in verse 24 it says “…let him (Asher, second son of Jacob and Zilpah, Leah’s maid) dip his foot in oil.”   This was just too good for con men to ignore, and here are a few who built upon these biblical gems.

In the 1960s a wealthy man in California, Wesly Hancock, confided to wide-eyed believers that he had dreamed that Jesus advised him that he would find black gold in the Holy Land.  Even the divinely inspired Pat Robertson praised Hancock saying that Hancock would tap into the “… largest oil field ever discovered.”  Uh-huh.  Those who answered the call to drill with Hancock lost all their investment.

In the 1990s a man named St. Clair, a deacon of an Illinois church, lured around sixty individuals to invest in oil wells.  The deacon falsely told them that two oil wells had been drilled and were already producing oil.  In truth no well had been ever been drilled.  The deacon raked in over a cool $8 million before he was exposed and sentenced to fifty-one months in jail. 

Between 1993 and 1999 a Florida-based church, Greater Ministries, had nearly 28,000 investors worldwide, all having been promised that their divinely inspired investments would double.  By the year 2000 Greater Ministries had taken in $578 million while the trusting church goers mortgaged their homes, maxed out their credit cards, or cashed in their retirement funds to invest—only to discover that they had been swindled by the church leaders. 

A number of the religiously inspired oil hustlers operated out of the state of Texas.  (Surprise!)  Among them was Harold Stephens, who drove up stock prices in his oil company, Ness, and collected $3.5 million by associating his Holy Land Oil venture with apocryphal prophecies.  The two companies that he recommended to believers in holy prophecy just happened to be owned by him, and the agreement that the believers signed stated, probably in smallest print, that only his companies would receive any profits if oil was ever found.  The investors, of course, never received a cent from Holy Land oil.

Is it sinful to question how fanatic believers in “holy word” can chase material riches and still believe that they represent a creditable balance with integrity or spiritual value?