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Monthly Archives: January 2012

And for big oil, business is a-boomin’.

From Obama’s SOTU address Tuesday night:

“…Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources….”

Well, he sure wasn’t just whistling Dixie.  Today, we see that the Obama administration is going to sell off remaining oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico.  What could possibly go wrong?  The Macondo well site is still leaking oil in the Gulf.  No, they don’t show you the plumes of oil on the nightly news because they have a few buffoons running for President that they want you to look at instead.  Oil is still washing ashore along the Gulf coast.  But BP sponsored a new series of ads recently with very nice average-looking people saying things like, “We’d love for y’all to come on down to our Alabama/Louisiana/Mississippi/Florida coasts!  Our beaches are clean, the water sparkling, and we love our guests!  We are open for business.”  Only they pronounce it ‘Bama or Lewsanna or Miss Sippi or Florda for the sake of authenticity.  You are meant to mistake the ads for reality.  Not a particularly difficult con job, these days.

Many of the fisherman are still out of business, as quite a portion of them find that despite being allowed to return to their fishing areas, the catch is showing signs of toxic exposure: lesions, bloody gills and fin rot.  They chuck the fish back into the sea and come home empty-handed.  The catch that is brought in – well, what are they doing with that?  Last I heard, the plan was to sell it to prisons, public schools and military PX’s; sort of your three captive markets right there.  Dead silence about that lately.

Perhaps they have simply quit testing the fish for toxins and sell it to restaurants anyway.  It is how we do things these days.  After radioactivity levels climbed in the Pacific northwest after Fukushima, the EPA did three things: they raised the level of “acceptable” radiation, they took their readings off-line (once the public protested, they put the readings back on-line, but in charts so difficult to decipher that one could spend hours on their website and still have no idea of radiation levels in the area) and they quit testing altogether in some areas.  This is the sort of teen-age answer for everything we get now.  (Once, while driving a friend’s teen-age daughter somewhere, I heard a peculiar noise from the car’s engine.  “Hmmm,” I said aloud, worriedly, “I wonder what that is.”  She said, “Oh, I know how to fix that.”  “Really?” I asked in disbelief.  She shrugged, nodded, and reached over to turn the radio volume up so high that we could no longer hear the noise.  “And there ya go,” she said.)  The Republican plan to correct problems like oil spills and nuclear accidents is to abolish the EPA altogether.  And there ya go.

The oil company errors which led to the BP spill have not been adequately addressed; we see, however, that the Obama administration has pretty much the same teen-age fix that the Republicans do.  Without even knowing exactly what went wrong with the drilling site, or addressing cronyism in the regulatory agency involved (the Minerals Management Service), Obama fast-tracked new leases in the Gulf within months of the spill.  The warnings from independent scientists and geologists regarding possible cracks and seeps sustained in the Gulf sea floor by the sheer number of wells drilled have gone ignored.  Likewise, no-one has addressed the issue of potential and deadly methane seeps.  (It was a methane explosion which caused the drilling platform to explode in the first place.  Methane is extant in every oil reservoir.  Usually the oil and gas companies burn it off as it escapes.  There is probably methane being released along with the oil still bubbling up from the Macondo site, but it is not measured or monitored in any way.)

 

(CNN) — The federal government Thursday announced plans to sell off oil and gas leases on 38 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor in a new domestic energy push by the Obama administration.

The leases could yield as much as 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the Interior Department estimates. The scheduled sale in June will be the second since the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels of crude spewed into the Gulf…

The leases up for sale in June include the remaining, unclaimed areas off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, ranging from as close as three miles from the coast to up to 230 miles offshore. The minimum bid for deepwater leases will be $100 per acre, according to the Interior Department.

The agency is working on plans for a dozen more lease sales through 2017, which it estimates will open up three-quarters of the recoverable oil and gas below the outer Continental Shelf — reserves Obama pledged to open up in his Tuesday night speech.

Supporters say more energy exploration will bring more jobs for Americans still reeling from the steepest economic downturn in decades. But others remain wary of the risks illuminated when the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon blew up and sank in April 2010, killing 11 men aboard and uncorking an undersea gusher that took three months to cap.

“We’ve got oil continuing to wash up. We’ve got ongoing restoration needs down there that haven’t been addressed yet,” said Aaron Viles, a spokesman for the New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network.

Viles said that the depths at which drilling is planned are worrisome and that residents of coastal communities should have more input into the decisions.

The BP-owned well that blew up in 2010 was nearly a mile below the surface, at depths that made efforts to cap it extremely difficult. Future drillers have to have arrangements in place to deal with a deep-sea spill, but the new requirements may be a case of “fighting the last war,” Viles said.

“These are complicated systems. They’re going to fail in complicated ways,” Viles told CNN…

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/26/us/us-gulf-oil/index.html

From a 2008 Scientific American article:

  …In fact, oil companies have yet to take advantage of the nearly 86 billion barrels of offshore oil in areas already available for leasing and development. So why are they chomping at the drill bit to open up the moratorium waters and survey them anew?

Oil company stocks are valued in large part based on how much proved reserves they have,” says Robert Kaufman, an expert on world oil markets and director of Boston University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies. Translation: just having more promising leases in hand would be worth billions of dollars….

…Kaufman dismisses as “nonsense” any promises that offshore drilling could make the U.S. “oil independent.” Even if it could somehow insulate itself from the ups and downs of the global oil market, he notes, the U.S. would have to make a huge leap in domestic oil production to replace what it buys from overseas.

“At its peak in production, which occurred in 1970s, the U.S. produced about 10 million [barrels of oil] a day,” Kaufman says. “Now, after 30 years of fairly steady decline, we produce about five million barrels a day,” whereas we consume 20 million barrels daily. “Whoever talks about oil independence has to tell a story about how we close a 15-million-barrel gap.”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=can-offshore-drilling-make-us-independent&page=3

Ah, now we get to the bare essentials of the thing.  Oil company stocks go up when they have new leases in hand.  That is the bottom line.  That is the entire point in opening new leases.  It is just another way for oil companies, speculators, and hedge funds to make money on the market.  Hate to break it to you, but the DOW is not the economy.  (Looking at you, Timmeh.)  Speculation in the oil market, based on new leases and such, is what makes gas prices at the pump go up.  And here is a news flash – no-one really knows how much oil is any given reserve.  It’s all guesswork.  Furthermore, it takes at least 5 years to get from the point of leasing to the point of production.  And in case it escaped everyone’s notice (it has), no-one knows how to fix the cracks in the sea floor caused by events like the BP Macondo spill, nor does anyone know just how much tolerance the sea floor has for more drilling sites without splitting wide open.  Fracking causes earthquakes and deep-sea drilling causes….?  Turn up the volume there, will ya?

“So long, and thanks for all the fish,”  –  big oil companies to the world.

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EU places embargo on Iranian oil.

Updated below.  Update 2 below: Wed., 25 Jan.

I do not like referencing my own work; however, in this case it is the easiest way to direct you to links from outside sources which I have used in previous articles.

The European Union has just announced that it will embargo Iranian oil as a means of getting Iran to stop doing what it is not doing. [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/on-iran-and-a-small-video-of-sirte-libya/  and a link from another previous article:  http://goo.gl/mJG2E  ]  The embargo goes into effect immediately on new oil contracts with Iran; already existing contracts will have to be phased out by 1 July.  Other targets for sanctions may include a number of Iranian companies, individuals and financial institutions.  The US has already sanctioned Iran’s Central Bank (to take effect within 60 days), as part of the NDAA recently signed by Obama.  [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/diplomacy-and-other-strong-arm-tactics/  ]

Greece, driven into debt and suffering under drastic austerity measures (“So long, and thanks for all the fish” – Goldman, Sachs to Greece) reportedly asked for a 12-month stay. It turns out that within the EU, there are three countries most likely to suffer from any increased oil prices and economic fallout from the sanctions: Italy, Spain and Greece, which account for up to 68 per cent of Iranian oil consumed in Europe.  Greece and Italy recently had new leaders foisted on them – unwillingly and without elections – in both cases, the new prime ministers are bankers.  [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/replacements/  ]  I think it is safe to assume that the EU is not particularly concerned with the effects of the embargo on Italy, Spain and Greece.

The EU embargo, combined with the US sanctions, will remove roughly 2 million barrels of oil from the markets each day.  China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil and has not agreed to any sanctions; China may decide to take up the oil now banned by the west, which would obviously help alleviate the financial pressure felt by Iran.  The other Asian countries are under pressure from the US and the EU to join in the embargo, but so far are also refusing.

Oil prices are already rising because of these actions.  This is due to the speculators in the markets.   Commodities speculators used to be heavily regulated to prevent them from unfairly affecting prices on necessary goods, such as oil.  They have been deregulated.  (‘High oil prices are driven by speculators in the markets.  We need to do something about them.’ – Barack Obama, campaign remark, 2008.  ‘Oh, I don’t think we can say that speculators have any impact on oil prices’ – Barack Obama, upon entering the White House.)  The impact from the US sanctions was immediate.  [see:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/01/lets-get-the-story-straight/  ]  Increased fuel costs will adversely affect the western economies which are under pressure and in decline from bad financial decisions ongoing since 2008.  But never let it be said that we passed on a perfectly good opportunity to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Bonus video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_JOGmXpe5I

Update:  According to the Israeli-based news website, DEBKAfile, India and possibly China are making arrangements to trade in gold for Iran’s oil.  Every article I have read concerning this so far refers back to the Debka exclusive.  [See: http://www.debka.com/article/21673/ ]

This story is most likely accurate; as I have mentioned several times, Iran set up trading on the Tehran bourse earlier last year with the explicit purpose of trading off the dollar.  This will obviously depress the value of the dollar and enhance the price of gold.

Turkey, Russia, India, and China have not agreed to any sanctions or embargos against Iran.  Japan and South Korea are discussing the matter with the US, but are reluctant to join in the embargo as they depend rather heavily on Iranian oil.

In articles I was reading yesterday, I kept seeing remarks quoted from “US officials” about Iran needing to engage in talk.  We say that as Iran keeps saying that they want diplomatic talks.  This is reminiscent of the situation in Libya – we kept insisting Ghaddafi talk and negotiate while at the same time, we refused each of his attempts to negotiate.  Yet, we are the ones whose first approach to Iran over the issue of possible nuclear enrichment has been to sanction them.  Our second approach has been to threaten them by surrounding them by land and sea.  Our third approach has been to get the EU to embargo Iranian oil.  We are not doing any “talking”, as near as I can see.  We cut off diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980 and have never re-engaged.  Sanctions and embargos (economic warfare) are our idea of diplomacy.

I think now is a good time to mention again the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO).  This is a group of countries which have formed a union (somewhat like NATO in the west) to cooperate on security, military, and economic matters.  The member countries are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Observer states are India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan. (The US applied for observer status in ’06 and was denied.) Dialogue partners are Belarus and Sri Lanka.  Guest Attendances are Turmenistan, the ASEAN (Assoc. of SE Asian Nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States: former Soviet Republics).

“Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the world’s. With observer states included, its affiliates account for half of the human race.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Cooperation_Organisation

If the neocons (and the neoliberals like Obama) desire World War 3, they are setting up a situation where it may mean half the globe’s population against the other half.  This is all due to seeking domination of the world’s resources.  It is unnecessary.  It is insane.  Yet it has been the intention of people like Cheney, Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for decades.  Obama is simply going with their blueprint.

We are being led into oblivion by the mad.  Why we are following is a whole other question.

Update 2:  Wed, 25 Jan.

Looks like someone thought about how the sanctions might bring some hardship to the EU as well as Iran.  To prevent some European countries from having to depend on Russia to make up the energy deficiency caused by the sanctions, the UK wants BP’s natural gas operations to be exempted from the sanctions.  To this end, the UK, the EU, and BP sent lobbyists to Washington to influence lawmakers here.  According to the Wall Street Journal:

“British and European Union officials have convinced some U.S. lawmakers to ensure that any new sanctions against Iran exempt a BP PLC-led natural-gas project, as Western governments try to isolate Tehran without harming their own energy security.

“The $20 billion project in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan is seen as key to alleviating Europe’s dependence on Russia as its largest supplier of natural gas.

” ‘There is broad-based consensus in the House and Senate that our sanctions policy should impose maximum economic pain on the Iranians without allowing Russia to hold Eastern Europe hostage for energy supplies,’ said a congressional aide familiar with the European lobbying effort….

“The Shah Deniz II project could have been hit by a bill by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) that would ban any company doing business with Iran’s oil and gas sector from operating in the U.S. But the current version of the legislation includes language that says it won’t affect efforts ‘to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe and Turkey,’ or to achieve ‘energy security and independence from Russia.’

“The Ros-Lehtinen bill is now with the Senate’s committee on foreign affairs….

“A BP spokesman said recent discussions on Shah Deniz II were part of the U.K.-based company’s ‘routine engagement’ with U.S. lawmakers…. ”

http://engforum.pravda.ru/index.php?/topic/245394-iran-sanction-bill-exempts-bp-project/

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  The bill in question, which would exempt BP, is HR 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act.  This was introduced on 5/13/2011 (they have been thinking about the Iranian sanctions a long time – the sanctions did not spontaneously pop up in the NDAA).  The bill was approved [in Dec.] by the House by a vote of 410-11.   Per the House press summary: “It strengthens, updates and replaces previous Iran sanctions laws to ensure that current law vigorously addresses the multiple threats posed by Iran. The bill closes loopholes in energy and financial sanctions, including by targeting the Central Bank of Iran. The bill also targets the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and senior Iranian regime officials.”  The bill is now in the hands of the Senate foreign relations committee, being readied for introduction to the Senate.

“Ros-Lehtinen is also the author of H.R. 2105, the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act, which was approved by the House by a vote of 418-2. The bill expands sanctions on those assisting Iran, North Korea, and Syria in the development of their weapons programs, including their nuclear programs.” – House press summary.  See, they are working on that pesky Syria problem, too.

I did not know anything about Ros-Lehtinen.  Turns out she is a Cuban-American.  Interesting that she is so aggressive about threatening, sanctioning, embargo-ing, and otherwise disrupting and punishing countries that have not directly threatened the US.  Perhaps she does not know anything about her own cultural heritage.  She is, however, very aggressive and very angry at various foreign countries and would like to see certain of them “taken out”.  (Or perhaps she does know her cultural heritage; it’s just that she sees Cuba’s economic woes as being entirely the fault of Castro rather than having anything at all to do with over 50 years of embargos and sanctions against Cuba by the US.  According to her wiki entry: she “supports continued sanctions against Cuba. She also supported the de facto government in Honduras, headed by Roberto Micheletti, that emerged after the military coup against President Manuel Zelaya. She has said of the decision to invade Iraq: “Whether or not there is a direct link to the World Trade Center does not mean that Iraq is not meritorious of shedding blood. The common link is that they hate America.”)

One might hope (in vain) that the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would be even-tempered and just a little, well, diplomatic.  But considering that our Top Diplomat is the now completely deranged Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton, it should not be surprising to see that Ros-Lehtinen issued this public statement to Obama on 19 January.   Our “diplomats” and other officials in charge of handling foreign affairs are insane.  Clinical psychopaths.  As I said, we are being led into oblivion by the mad.  Why we are following is a whole other question.  (Bear in mind please, while you read her statement, that she is talking here about Iran; a country that has not started any war in hundreds of years, a country that is not developing nuclear weapons, and that has allowed nuclear inspectors to do their jobs with more frequency than any other country.  A country that has been the target of internally disruptive, covert CIA operations for decades, has had its scientific computers taken down by the US and Israel, its scientists assassinated, and which is the current target of economic warfare waged on it by the US and the EU –  all to make them stop doing what they are not doing.)

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on reports that the President proposed new direct negotiations with Iran in a letter to Iran’s “Supreme Leader.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“I hope that reports the Administration is seeking new ‘engagement’ with the Iranian regime are false. Now is the time to clamp down on the regime through sanctions that close every loophole and deny Tehran any breathing room. The Administration must not fall into the regime’s trap and again pursue the failed policy of dialogue and engagement.

“The Iranian regime is only capable of negotiating in bad-faith, which it is happy to do in order to buy even more time for its nuclear efforts. We can’t afford to fall into this obvious trap yet again.

“The clock is running out to stop Iran from achieving a breakout nuclear capability. Sanctions are having an impact. Negotiations will undermine the prospects for stopping Iran, as the only result will be more time for Iran’s centrifuges to spin. The Administration needs to step up the pressure by imposing all the sanctions in U.S. law without further delay if we hope to stop Iran’s nuclear pursuits from moving forward.”

http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=2167

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in austerity, fossil fuels, Greece, Iran, MIC, SCO, Wall St and banks

 

Outsourcing the “war on drugs”.

The BBC’s Spanish language edition reports this week that the Pentagon wants to outsource more of its drug war duties to private security firms such as Blackwater, now called Academi… as well as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

The “no bid” contracts are issued through the Pentagon’s Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office a murky government shop, started back in 1995, that outsources global counternarcotics and counterterrorism duties to private firms.

In 2009, Blackwater received a $1 billion contract to train Afghanistan’s police, which had been formerly handled by the U.S. State Department. This was the same year Caldwell started training Afghan security forces for NATO. According to Spencer Ackerman at Wired magazine, “CNTPO received the funding and chose Blackwater for the contract, even though Blackwater guards in Afghanistan on a different contract stole hundreds of guns intended for those very Afghan cops.”

So perhaps Army North’s duties are going to be increasingly parceled out to private firms. In order for the United States to police the world it takes a lot of cash and a lot of boots on the ground. Sometimes those boots aren’t military issued. So, as we’ve seen since the days of President George W., the U.S. military force has increasingly become a murky, opaque mixture of mercenaries, trained military and private contractors.

Outsourcing allows the Pentagon to move its growing drug war expenses off its books and in to the nether regions of private contracting. “They surreptitiously want to reduce the anti-drug budget by transferring it to private agencies,” says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, in the BBC report. “The drug war is unpopular and has no political weight except in an election year like this, so the Department of Defense wants to remove that spending from their accounts.”

Bruce Bagley, head of International Studies at the University of Miami, warns in the BBC report that the whole outsourcing idea is really a bad idea. A lesson the U.S. government has had ample time to learn over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “Here we enter a vague area where the rules of engagement are not clear and there is almost zero accountability to the public or the electorate,” he says. Not to mention a violation of national sovereignty that could “generate a nationalist backlash if the public realizes what is happening.”

Outsourcing the drug war. What could go wrong? I am reminded again of the oft quoted line from Albert Einstein about the definition of insanity: repeating the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.

http://www.texasobserver.org/lalinea/will-former-afghan-security-forces-trainer-ramp-up-efforts-in-mexico

***************************************************

Since the drug war has become so unpopular with the electorate, instead of politicians actually changing the drug laws, the Department of Defense seeks to reduce and conceal the real costs by transferring the “dirty work” to private contractors to do what “U.S. military forces are not allowed or not encouraged to do.”...

”Here we go into a vague area where the rules of engagement are not clear and there is almost zero accountability to the public or the electorate,” said Bagley.
..

There are concerns that contractors acting independently will threaten the sovereignty of the “key countries” in which they will operate.  The Pentagon says the largest efforts will occur in Latin America including Mexico,  Central America, Caribbean, Columbia and other Andean countries.

Professor Bagley says these private armies could “generate a nationalist backlash if the public came to realize the situation” of operations in their countries.

Once again, the war on drugs creates the opportunity to place troops in countries where having American soldiers would be politically disadvantageous, or simply impossible.
Ultimately, the Pentagon claims they will save money because private contractors don’t have the bureaucracy and hierarchy involved in operations and because “if any of its employees dies, they are responsible.”… – Eric Blair, for prisonplanet

http://www.prisonplanet.com/104369.html

Who is running Blackwater/Xe/Academi now, anyway?

Spencer Ackerman introduced some of the new people at Academi in June, ’11.

Xe’s new owners, USTC Holdings, aren’t exactly bringing in scandal-free talent to run Xe v.2.0. On Monday, they announced Xe’s new “Chief Regulatory & Compliance Officer,” a new position for the company, will be Suzanne Folsom, most recently of insurance giant AIG.

Yes, the woman in charge of making sure the world’s most infamous private security firm is in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations is a veteran of the insurance giant that helped plunge the country into financial chaos. The public bailed out AIG to the tune of $182 billion. Folsom — then as now, regulatory compliance chief for a scandal-plagued firm — got a golden parachute reportedly worth $1 million.

Nor is Folsom the only such example. Xe’s new CEO is Ted Wright, hired June 1 to run the company after helming North American operations for military services giant KBR. Among KBR’s recent hits: kidnapping Filipinos to work for the company in Iraq; confining its Iraq workers to “windowless warehouses“; and locking a woman employee in isolation after she was gang-raped — by other KBR employees.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/blackwater-gets-too-big-to-fail-hires-aig-castoff/

 

On the board of directors of Academi, we find former US Attorney General John Ashcroft.   (Yes, that John Ashcroft.)  The Academi bio of Ashcroft reads, in part: “Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is an independent director of ACADEMI and the Chairman of the Ashcroft Group, and has been leading Americans for over 30 years in public and private service…

“As Attorney General, Mr. Ashcroft led the U.S. Department of Justice through the transformational period after the September 11, 2001 attacks, reorganizing the Department to focus on its number one priority: preventing terrorism. The tough antiterrorism campaign he directed helped keep America safe throughout his tenure and resulted in the dismantling of terrorist cells across America and the disruption of over 150 terrorist plots worldwide…”

The Chairman of the Board, we find, is one Billy Joe McCombs; a former car salesman and co-founder of Clear Channel Communications.  This will be a boon for Academi’s attempt to advertise itself as a new and improved, reformed group of mercenaries.

“Billy Joe “Red” McCombs is a director of ACADEMI and the founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group, a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, a former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Vikings, and the namesake of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a long-standing member of Forbes Magazine’s top 400 richest Americans and has owned nearly 400 businesses during his career.

“Mr. McCombs is recognized as one of the leading automobile dealers in the United States…  McCombs Automotive ranked sixth in the U.S. in sales in 1998, exceeding $1.7 billion in revenues, with more than 100 locations.

“He is also the co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, Inc. Clear Channel is the largest radio station operator and outdoor advertising business in the world, with operations in more than 30 countries. The company was sold to private investors for an excess of $20 billion in 2008…”

Another member of the board is Retired Admiral Bobby R. Inman (USN).

“Adm. Bobby Inman is a director of ACADEMI and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1950, and from the National War College in 1972. He became an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin in 1987…

“Adm. Inman served in the U.S. Navy from November 1951 to July 1982, when he retired with the permanent rank of admiral. While on active duty he served as Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. After retirement from the Navy, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) in Austin, Texas, for four years and Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westmark Systems, Inc., a privately owned electronics industry holding company for three years. He also served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1987 through 1990…”

[All bios from:  http://academi.com/pages/about-us/board-of-directors ]

There is something repugnant about a former US Att’y General, sworn to see that the laws of the United States as written in the Constitution are upheld, and a retired Navy admiral, who once swore to protect and defend the Constitution and the people of the US, now signing on with a corporate mercenary giant which will take money to work for any country or group with enough cash.  I wonder how Ashcroft feels about Academi’s contract with Monsanto.  Will he protect and uphold Monsanto’s contract over and above the civil rights of a US citizen?  What if Academi took a contract with China against the US – would this just be “business” for Adm. Inman?

Theoretically, the hiring of mercenaries is allowed in the Constitution via the issuance of “letters of marque and reprisal”.  However, Letters of Marque and Reprisal have specific goals.   Blackwater/Xe/now Academi is employed indefinitely by the federal gov’t. for purposes that are very murky, at best.  What is the “war on drugs” or the “war on terror” and how long do they last?  Do these mercenaries have to follow the Constitution?  They certainly do not have to swear an oath to uphold and protect it, the way our armed forces and government officials do.  They simply work for the highest bidder with no fealty to any specific country.  What is the oversight system for mercenaries?  (Does Congress or the Pentagon have legal authority over them?)  Do mercenary groups have to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests?  Are they allowed to arrest people, and if so, do they issue the Miranda warning and follow the other civil rights afforded citizens?  If they are allowed to arrest, where do their “detainees” get sent?  I ask because the “war on drugs” is not limited to Latin American countries, but also takes place in the US.  And if the Latin American countries thusly invaded by Blackwater/Xe/Academi decide to rid themselves of the thugs and kill a few of them, have those countries just “declared war” on the US?

Has anyone thought about this shit?  Has Ron Paul thought about it?  He wants to privatize the entire armed forces – his great idea after 9/11 was to draft legislation that would make mercenaries the only forces being used in the “war on terror”.  Has Barack Obama thought about it?  He has consistently increased the use of mercenary forces since taking office.  In his famous way of looking forward, not back, in Aug, ’10, Blackwater paid a 42 million dollar fine for charges related to its Iraq operations and was allowed to resume its contracts with the State Dept.  The Obama administration awarded Blackwater/Xe Services a quarter of a billion dollar contract to work for the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.  As of 2009, Obama was even using Triple Canopy, another mercenary company, in Israel.  There is no information available as to the purpose of this unit in Israel.  Jeremy Scahill reported on this here:  http://tinyurl.com/7z5lhtj

I will grant that it is a little late to be wondering about all this, but as more private companies and cities across the US start hiring mercenaries for security purposes – as they are already doing in increasing numbers – we need to ask the right questions.  This is apparently something we are not very inclined to do until it is too late.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in mercenaries, MIC, security state, State Dept/diplomacy

 

Election 2012.

 

Come on, people.  Isn’t it about time for a third (or fourth) party?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in elections

 

Bakken, Keystone XL, and fracking.

A couple of interrelated topics for today.  First, let’s dispense with the Keystone XL pipeline.  The myths about the Keystone pipeline are truly absurd and would be laughed at in a reasonably intelligent society.  We don’t have that, so let’s look at the claims and explain a few things.

Claim 1: the Keystone pipeline will bring the US to “energy independence”.  Rebuttal: the Keystone pipeline begins in the tarsands of Alberta, Canada.   Canada is noticably not part of the US.  The tarsands projects, and the oil thus produced, belong to the companies that work the fields.  Currently there are 64 companies operating several hundred projects. The majority of production now comes from foreign-owned corporations.  I do not know how Canada handles profit-sharing with its oil companies and I am not going to bother looking it up.  It is irrelevant, since the fact is that a Canadian or British or any other foreign-to-the-US company running Canadian crude through a pipeline – whether or not it crosses US territory – in no way results in free gas to the US.  The oil does not come from under American soil and does not belong to America.  Once the crude gets to Texas, a company such as Exxon might be paid to refine it.  The refined product is then placed on the open market for bidding.  The US may or may not choose to bid on the products.  (According to presentations to investors, Gulf Coast refiners plan to refine the cheap Canadian crude supplied by the pipeline into diesel and other products for export to Europe and Latin America.  – http://tinyurl.com/3trhx2p)  The US does not get “freebies” from Exxon; that is not the way we handle our oil companies.  I.e., we do not have nationalized oil.  We invade countries with nationalized oil profits.  In any case, since this is Canadian oil (remember?) we would not have any right to it even if we did have nationalized oil.   Exxon may or may not form some sort of joint partnership with TransCanada and the other owners to share profits, or Exxon may simply be paid a refining fee for its services.  Regardless, the profits from selling the refined products belong to the oil companies involved, not to the US.

Claim 2: the Keystone pipeline will create jobs for America.  Rebuttal: it may create a few jobs.  Once the line is actually built, one can assume very few people will be needed to check the line or to make repairs along the way.  And poof!  The jobs are gone.  And the number of jobs being discussed is ridiculous anyway.  The pipeline will not create 20,000 American jobs.  The jobs to build the pipeline will mainly go to Canadians who work for the Canadian company that produces this oil.  TransCanada is a Canadian company, remember?  How many jobs does TransCanada think will be generated by building the pipeline?  Let’s ask them.  In 2008, TransCanada’s Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL to the State Department indicated “a peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline.  Since ’08, they have admitted that only a couple of hundred employees will be needed long-term for regular maintainance.  Where did the number 20,000 come from?  Someone made it up.  Here’s how: someone said, well, the construction workers will need to eat and some form of recreation.  Let’s assume that while the pipeline is being built, we will see new coffeehouses, restaurants and strip clubs (this is the truth; they included potential strip club jobs) opening up and doing business.  Let’s add those to the “jobs created” number.  Once the workers aren’t needed any longer, the strippers will lose their jobs, too, but after all, no-one has made the rash claim that these extraneous jobs will last forever.

Regarding the Bakken Formation shale oil field in North Dakota:  this is being touted as a wonderful source of fossil fuel which will lead to (what else?) energy independence for the US.  There is an e-mail going viral on the web which claims that this, for sure, is the answer to our woes.  The Bakken is all shale oil – so expensive to process that if it were our only source of oil (no matter how much oil is actually there, and estimates vary wildly on that), the price of gas would instantly quadruple.  Not to mention the little unpleasant fact that shale oil used more than a gallon of fresh water for each gallon of oil obtained.  Fresh water that is made toxic by the process and cannot be used for drinking or watering crops after being used in the shale extraction process.  Lots and lots of people are able to dispatch the claims made in that e-mail – this is but one:

Yes, there is indeed a lot of oil in the Bakken Formation, just as the email claims — BUT this oil exists in shale form. That means it’s locked in sand, gravel, and rock. The extracting of it is so galactically difficult and costly that the best estimates about how much can actually be extracted and used from the formation have ranged anywhere from 50 percent to 1 percent. The refining of it is also hugely difficult and costly compared to the refining of the light, sweet crude that just comes naturally to the surface during the early period of the developmental of a traditional oil field.

The email is also insanely slanted in its accusation that the only reason we’re not all dancing in the streets at our salvation from the energy crisis is because of those damned evil environmentalists who are threatening civilization by stopping us from tapping this messiah of an oil field. In fact, Bakken is being worked right now, and with a vengeance. Development of it has absolutely exploded over the past few years, and will only intensify…

Peak oil theory isn’t about the idea that “the oil is running out.” It’s about the end of cheap and easy to get oil. The crisis is found in the fact that our entire urban-industrial-technological civilization has been built upon, and can only continue to run upon, a foundation of cheap, plentiful, and ever-increasing oil. What’s going to happen is that this whole arrangement will start contracting and, maybe, imploding in interesting ways because of oil problems — not the problem of running out, which will never happen, but the problem of our cheap and plentiful supply shifting to a situation of ever-increasing cost and scarcity. Nobody in history has ever seen what’s going to happen over the next 20, 50, and 100 years, because the human race only started living on oil roughly a century ago (or actually a bit more recently than that; more like 1920 or 1930), so we’ve only ever known what life was like on the rising side of the oil supply curve, not on the falling side as we get into global depletion.

The fact that the Bakken Formation is being ferociously developed right now is actually evidence in favor of the peak oil scenario and its concerns, because we would never turn seriously toward working such a difficult deposit if the usual and traditional sources weren’t all drying up and/or being called seriously into question by geopolitical difficultieshttp://tinyurl.com/6pq2el6

The Bakken Formation is being “fracked” to get to the shale oil.  (Fracking is hydraulic fracturing.)  So now we get to fracking in general.  The process and some general notes (courtesy wikipedia) are as follows (if you want to skip the long wiki entry, jump to the end of the section between the lines of stars):

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Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer caused by the presence of a pressurized fluid. Hydraulic fractures may form naturally, as in the case of veins or dikes, or may be man-made in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal seam gas, or other substances for extraction, where the technique is often called fracking or hydrofracking. This type of fracturing…is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. The energy from the injection of a highly-pressurized fracking fluid creates new channels in the rock which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of fossil fuels. The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid. Proppant is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped.

The practice of hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny internationally due to concerns about the environmental impact, health and safety, and has been suspended or banned in some countries.

The technique of hydraulic fracturing is used to increase or restore the rate at which fluids, such as oil, water, or natural gas can be produced from subterranean natural reservoirs….
A hydraulic fracture is formed by pumping the fracturing fluid into the wellbore at a rate sufficient to increase pressure downhole to exceed that of the fracture gradient of the rock. The rock cracks and the fracture fluid continues farther into the rock, extending the crack still farther, and so on. To keep this fracture open after the injection stops, a solid proppant, commonly a sieved round sand, is added to the fluid. The propped fracture is permeable enough to allow the flow of formation fluids to the well. Formation fluids include gas, oil, salt water, fresh water and fluids introduced to the formation during completion of the well during fracturing…

An estimated 90 percent of the natural gas wells in the United States use hydraulic fracturing to produce gas at economic rates.

The fluid injected into the rock is typically a slurry of water, proppants, and chemical additives…  Sand containing naturally radioactive minerals is sometimes used so that the fracture trace along the wellbore can be measured. Chemical additives are applied to tailor the injected material to the specific geological situation, protect the well, and improve its operation, though the injected fluid is approximately 98-99.5% percent water, varying slightly based on the type of well. The composition of injected fluid is sometimes changed as the fracturing job proceeds. Often, acid is initially used to scour the perforations and clean up the near-wellbore area. Then proppants are used with a gradual increase in their size and/or density. At the end of the job the well is commonly flushed with water (sometimes blended with a friction reducing chemical) under pressure. Injected fluid is to some degree recovered and is managed by several methods, such as underground injection control, treatment and discharge, recycling, or temporary storage in pits or containers while new technology is being developed to better handle wastewater and improve reusability. Although the concentrations of the chemical additives are very low, the recovered fluid may be harmful due in part to hydrocarbons picked up from the formation…

Environmental concerns with hydraulic fracturing include the potential contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the potential migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, the potential mishandling of waste, and the health effects of these. A 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into CBM wells posed minimal threat to underground drinking water sources. This study has been criticised for only focusing on the injection of fracking fluids, while ignoring other aspects of the process such as disposal of fluids, and environmental concerns such as water quality, fish kills and acid burns; the study was also concluded before public complaints of contamination started emerging. Largely on the basis of this study, in 2005 hydraulic fracturing was exempted by US Congress from any regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act…. As development of natural gas wells in the U.S. since the year 2000 has increased, so too have claims by private well owners of water contamination. This has prompted EPA and others to re-visit the topic.

There are…documented incidents of contamination. In 2006 drilling fluids and methane were detected leaking from the ground near a gas well in Clark, Wyoming; 8 million cubic feet of methane were eventually released, and shallow groundwater was found to be contaminated. In the town of Dimock, Pennsylvania, 13 water wells were contaminated with methane (one of them blew up), and the gas company, Cabot Oil & Gas, had to financially compensate residents and construct a pipeline to bring in clean water; the company continued to deny, however, that any “of the issues in Dimock have anything to do with hydraulic fracturing”.

One group of emissions associated with natural gas development and production, are the emissions associated with combustion. These emissions include particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Another group of emissions that are routinely vented into the atmosphere are those linked with natural gas itself, which is composed of methane, ethane, liquid condensate, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The VOCs that are especially impactful on health are benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene (referred to as a group, called BTEX). Health effects of exposure to these chemicals include neurological problems, birth defects, and cancer.

A Duke University study…2011 examined methane in groundwater in Pennsylvania and New York states overlying the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale. It determined that groundwater tended to contain much higher concentrations of methane near fracking wells, with potential explosion hazard…Complaints from a few residents on water quality in a developed natural gas field prompted an EPA groundwater investigation in Wyoming. The EPA reported detections of methane and other chemicals such as phthalates in private water wells…. In DISH, Texas, elevated levels of disulphides, benzene, xylenes and naphthalene have been detected in the air, alongside numerous local complaints of headaches, diarrhea, nosebleeds, dizziness, muscle spasms and other problems.

Groundwater contamination doesn’t come directly from injecting fracking chemicals deep into Shale rock formations well below water aquifers but from waste water evaporation ponds and poorly constructed pipelines taking the waste water and chemicals to processing facilities. The evaporation ponds allow the volatile chemicals in the waste water to evaporate into the atmosphere and when it rains these ponds tend to overflow and the runoff eventually makes its way into groundwater systems. Another way groundwater gets contaminated relating to fracking is from the temporary, and poorly constructed pipelines to transport the waste water to water treatment plants…

The New York Times has reported radiation in hydraulic fracturing wastewater released into rivers in Pennsylvania. According to a Times report in February 2011, wastewater at 116 of 179 deep gas wells in Pennsylvania “contained high levels of radiation,” but its effect on public drinking water supplies is unknown because water suppliers are required to conduct tests of radiation “only sporadically”… In Pennsylvania, where the drilling boom began in 2008, most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006…

Water is by far the largest component of fracking fluids. The initial drilling operation itself may consume from 65,000 gallons to 600,000 gallons of fracking fluids. Over its lifetime an average well will require up to an additional 5 million gallons of water for the initial fracking operation and possible restimulation frac jobs.

Chemical additives used in fracturing fluids typically make up less than 2% by weight of the total fluid. Over the life of a typical well, this may amount to 100,000 gallons of chemical additives…Some of the chemicals pose no known health hazards, some others are known carcinogens, some are toxic, some are neurotoxins. For example: benzene (causes cancer, bone marrow failure), lead (damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders), ethylene glycol (antifreeze, causes death), methanol (highly toxic), boric acid (kidney damage, death), 2-butoxyethanol (causes hemolysis).

The 2011 US House of Representatives investigative report on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing shows that of the 750 compounds in hydraulic fracturing products “[m]ore than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants”. The report also shows that between 2005 and 2009 279 products (93.6 million gallons-not including water) had at least one component listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret” on their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

The MSDS is a list of chemical components in the products of chemical manufacturers, and according to OSHA, a manufacturer may withhold information designated as “proprietary” from this sheet. When asked to reveal the proprietary components, most companies participating in the investigation were unable to do so, leading the committee to surmise these “companies are injecting fluids containing unknown chemicals about which they may have limited understanding of the potential risks posed to human health and the environment”…Another study in 2011, titled “Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective”…. identified 632 chemicals used in natural gas operations. Only 353 of these are well-described in the scientific literature; and of these, more than 75% could affect skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; roughly 40-50% could affect the brain and nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% were carcinogens and mutagens. The study indicated possible long-term health effects that might not appear immediately. The study recommended full disclosure of all products used, along with extensive air and water monitoring near natural gas operations; it also recommended that fracking’s exemption from regulation under the US Safe Drinking Water Act be rescinded.

A report in the UK concluded that fracking was the likely cause of some small earth tremors that happened during shale gas drilling. In addition the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that “Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations” in the United States, Japan, and Canada; “the cause was injection of fluids into deep wells for waste disposal and secondary recovery of oil, and the use of reservoirs for water supplies.” The disposal and injection wells referenced are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and UIC laws and are not wells where hydraulic fracturing is generally performed. [I.e.; the fracking wells are at different locations than the disposal wells.]
Several earthquakes, that happened throughout 2011 in Youngstown, Ohio, USA are likely linked to a disposal well for injecting wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing process, say seismologists at Columbia University.

The use of natural gas rather than oil or coal is sometimes touted as a way of alleviating global warming: natural gas burns more cleanly, and gas power stations can produce up to 50% less greenhouse gases than coal stations. However, an analysis of the well-to-consumer lifecycle of fracked natural gas concluded that 3.6–7.9% of the methane produced by a well will be leaked into the atmosphere during the well’s lifetime. Because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, this means that over short timescales, shale gas is actually worse than coal or oil

Hydraulic fracturing has become a contentious environmental and health issue with France banning the practice and a moratorium in place in New South Wales (Australia), Karoo basin (South Africa), Quebec (Canada), and some of the states of the US.

Hydraulic fracturing [in the US] for the purpose of oil, natural gas, and geothermal production was exempted under the Safe Drinking Water Act This was a result of the signage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, also known as the Halliburton Loophole because of former Halliburton CEO Vice President Dick Cheney’s involvement in the passing of this exemption. The result of a 2004 EPA study on coalbed hydraulic fracturing was used to justify the passing of the exemption; however EPA whistleblower Weston Wilson and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project found that critical information was removed from the final report.
Opposers of hydraulic fracturing in the US have focused on this 2005 exemption; however the more primary risk to drinking water is the handling and treatment of wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing. The EPA and the state authorities do have power “to regulate discharge of produced waters from hydraulic operations” (EPA, 2011) under the Clean Water Act… Although this waste is regulated, oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) wastes are exempt from Federal Hazardous Waste Regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) despite the fact that wastewater from hydraulic fracturing contains toxins such as total dissolved solids (TDS), metals, and radionuclides….

-wikipedia, Hydraulic Fracturing

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Now you know more than the average bear about fracking.  Regarding earthquakes and fracking, you may want to read the following link: ” ‘There has always been a scientific link between fracking and earthquakes,’ U.S. Geological Survey spokesperson Clarice Ransom told AlterNet.” – http://www.alternet.org/water/153717


Regarding toxins in our waterways due to fracking:  Damning New Letter from NY State Insider: ‘Hydraulic Fracturing as It’s Practiced Today Will Contaminate Our Aquifers’.  A former technician responsible for investigating and managing groundwater contamination for New York State opens up about risks from fracking.  – http://www.alternet.org/environment/153684

New EPA proposed guidelines on fracking:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/31/epa-proposes-new-rules-on-fracking/#.Tje3JeL9mPM.email

See also David Sirota’s June ’11 article, (“…Meanwhile, the White House’s one seeming tilt toward caution — its panel to study fracking — ended up being a sham, as six of the administration’s seven appointments have direct ties to the energy industry…”):  http://www.salon.com/2011/06/10/american_energy_problem/

In some communities, residents are being told they cannot legally stop fracking or the dumping of frack waste water into their groundwater: http://my.firedoglake.com/eclair/2012/01/11/18-3-million-worth-of-water/

But, but, but, fracking will save us and bring us to “energy independence”(!).  We need to tear the mountains up by the roots, get at what is under the rocks, use up all that fresh water, and dump the toxins back into our groundwater streams in order to have energy independence.  Who cares about some chemicals in the air and water or a few sick babies when shale oil/natural gas is the solution to, well, just about everything?  Lots of oil and gas under them there rocks, right?  It turns out there is actually not nearly as much as we have been led to believe.  In a sadly overlooked article in the NYT (June, ’11) by Ian Urbina, industry insiders admit they have no idea how much oil and gas are in the shale formations and doubt that extracting the fuels will end up being cost efficient.  If you take the time to read the entire article (please do – it is amazing what the industry insiders acknowledge to each other), you will view fracking in a whole new light.  You might even want to look into green energy, mass transit, and other such assorted non-fossil-fuel alternatives.

Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States.

But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.

In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.

“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company,  wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”

“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company,  wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.

Company data for more than 10,000 wells in three major shale gas formations raise further questions about the industry’s prospects….

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html?emc=eta1

 


 

 
 

Tehran, Iran

This is a short video of scenes from Iran.  I found it on the blog washingtonsblog.com, a very fine website jam-packed with useful information on a variety of topics.  The video should require no explanation, but this being America….

The title of the video is sardonic.  We will find the images “disturbing” because they belie our assumptions that Iran is a desert country full of swarthy people living in tents, riding on camels, and beheading each other with scimitars.

I noticed in the comments on youtube that a few people said things like, “Oh, sure, pretty pictures.  Where are the pictures showing them cutting people’s hands off for stealing?”  Congratulations.  You just missed the entire point.  Which is not that Iran is a perfect society filled with angelic beings who never fart.  The point is that Iran is not so different from the US or Europe; it is a modern country with beautiful architecture, lovely scenery, humans holding hands and pushing children on swings.  The point is that when any one of us talks about the possibility of war with Iran as though it were a nothing, a trifle, reasonable (or as one of our generals said about Iran years ago, “These people are just ants.  When the time comes, you just crush them.”) we are talking about blowing up these people, ruining this country – and they are us, just in a different place.  You might as well insist that the only “believable and true” videos of the US would include pictures of our prison inmates raping each other or our police spraying military-grade pepper spray into the faces of completely docile protesters.  You might as well insist that the entirety of the American reality is the video showing US soldiers pissing on the corpses of the men they just killed.  (In a country that never threatened us.  A country we invaded for no reason.)

Like the video of Sirte, Libya which I posted in a previous entry, you may find that your preconceived notions of what the cities and people in foreign countries look like are entirely incorrect.  Learn.  Think.  Be a human.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Iran

 

On propaganda, lies, and bullshit.

We read propaganda every day in America.  We may not recognize it as such because we are so grossly ignorant about other countries and other societies.  Our ignorance is the bliss of the big banks, mega-corporations and the Pentagon.  They can count on the reliable American public to never fact-check an article published in one of the major media outlets – in fact, we seem to have been numbed (dumbed?) into believing it is somehow unAmerican to question the mouthpieces in the mainstream media.  Take, for instance, this little article from the AP a few days ago.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — More than 1 million Libyan students returned to school Saturday to start the first year in which the whims, politics and wacky philosophies of Moammar Gadhafi will not drive the curriculum.

Gone are the days when history books lauded Gadhafi’s accomplishments while blasting “Fascist” Italy, the “Zionist” United States and the “devilish” West, Libyan officials said.

Revamping the curriculum was only one of the tasks the new Education Ministry faced in preparing for the first school year following the eight-month civil war that killed thousands and left parts of some of Libya’s biggest cities in ruins.

Education Minister Suleiman al-Sahli told reporters in Tripoli Saturday that many schools were damaged in the fighting and more than a dozen were completely destroyed. Elsewhere, crews had to clear land mines from school yards to make them safe for students, he said.

Gadhafi dominated the education system throughout his 42-year rule, which ended when armed rebels stormed into Tripoli in August. Gadhafi was killed in October during his capture by rebels.

The former leader’s prominence in teaching materials meant that they had to be thrown out, al-Sahli said… All political materials were taken from Gadhafi’s largely incomprehensible governmental guide, the “Green Book.”

The new materials will give students a more complete education…

But creating the new materials has been difficult.

Al-Sahli said Libya ordered 35 million new textbooks to be printed in neighboring Tunisia but had only distributed 1 million so far. Border closures and strikes by truck drivers and port workers hampered their transport to Libya, he said. In the meantime, students will receive printed worksheets….

http://tinyurl.com/77yyafr

Ah, you can assume (because the article says so, right there in print!) that all the schools in Libya were teaching “the whims, politics and wacky philosophies of Moammar Gadhafi”.  How do you know what the schools were teaching?  Well, you don’t.  You have no idea what schools in Libya taught, nor do you know whether or not Ghaddafi’s ideas were wacky.  Does the AP reporter know what was taught in Libya?  Probably not.  But he has been told to use the words “despot”, “strange” or “wacky” each time he refers to Ghaddafi.

The “first school year following the eight-month civil war that killed thousands and left parts of some of Libya’s biggest cities in ruins” – this is an outright fabrication.  There was no civil war in Libya.  Although, thanks to the valiant efforts of the US/NATO countries, there may yet be one.  A few hundred CIA assets, some reported al Qaeda members, and some former ministers of Ghaddafi’s government who wanted to jump to the head of the line began an “uprising” and the UN imposed a no-fly zone, which NATO quickly turned into the decimation of the entire country.  It was the NATO countries who killed thousands and left Libya’s cities in ruins.  It was irrefutably NATO planes that bombed and destroyed schools, leaving land mines to be cleared up.  (NATO also bombed tv stations, orphanages, hospitals, food depots and the water supply.)  But like all good propagandists, the AP writer simply states the preposterous as fact and forges ahead, with the blithe assumption it will catch on.

“Gadhafi was killed in October during his capture by rebels….”  Such is war, eh?  Yet, the truth is that Ghaddafi had a bounty placed on his head (illegal) by the US, the “rebel” forces – the NTC – were named as the “legitimate and recognized government of Libya” (illegal) by the US, the rebels were led to Ghaddafi by NATO (they did not just happen upon him), and he was not “killed”.  He was tortured and assassinated (illegal).

You have not read Ghaddafi’s “Green Book”; the AP writer knows this, has not read it himself, knows that you won’t go read it now, and so feels safe in calling it “largely incomprehensible”.  I have read it.  It is not “largely incomprehensible”, although some parts are tedious and some poorly written.  It does call for nationalized oil profits and a central bank and outlines universal medical care and education for all Libyans; and all these policies were gradually put into place by Ghaddafi.  The Great Manmade River plans are described in detail and actually worked once Libya built it.

But this is a fairly run of the mill piece of propaganda.  Here is an example of really breath-taking, double-flip, tell a lie and then tell the truth without admitting you started the lie, bit of bullshit.  It involves the NGO Amnesty International, much to my dismay.  Until the destruction of Libya, I trusted these guys and thought of them as a “good” group.

The NGO Amnesty International France started false rumors about Ghaddafi using mercenaries in Libya against civilians.  They and several other NGO groups took these rumors to the UN Human Rights Council, which used the “news” to authorize a no-fly zone and begin the NATO “humanitarian intervention”.  The Amnesty France spokeswoman who presented the information to the UN was Genevieve Garrigos.  After 5 months of Amnesty International doing an “investigation” into the mercenary story, the same spokeswoman talks about how the Libyan intervention was started by rumors.  (She is shocked, of course.)  The mainstream news media never reports that the original stories were just rumors, much less that they have proven to be unfounded.  In an interview after the Amnesty “investigation”, Garrigos acknowledges that the rumors were untrue, but never acknowledges that she herself was the one who started these rumors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fAl2oombx4

And now we get to Iran and Syria.  What lies will be used to attack and destroy these “enemies”?  More importantly, why?  How did all these countries turn into enemies?  Leon Panetta, in his speech regarding the Pentagon “budget cuts” (the cuts being a decrease in the scheduled increase, if you can stand that bit of twisted euphemistic bullshit) said:

“Our strategy review concluded that the United States must have the capability to fight several conflicts at the same time. We are not confronting obviously the threats of the past. We are confronting the threats of the 21st century, and that demands greater flexibility to shift and deploy forces to be able to fight and defeat any enemy anywhere.

“How we defeat the enemy may very well vary across conflicts. But make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time.”

More than one adversary at a time, any enemy anywhere, several conflicts at the same time….who are all these imagined enemies?

If you look at the list of past and potential enemies, you start to notice a couple of things.  It seems our enemies are mostly made up of countries that defy the Goldman, Sachs/IMF model of taking over the globe economically and of countries that have oil.  The two lists overlap, interestingly enough.  It is “undemocratic” for a country to have nationalized banks or oil profits (i.e., we need to invade them, kill millions of their peoples, and destroy their country).  One might almost think we invaded countries at the behest of Goldman, Sachs and Exxon.

Countries with state-owned central banks:

Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s central banks were state-owned before we invaded them.  They are both now privatized.

Libya’s central bank was state-owned.  The NATO countries simply announced they were going to privatize the oil and banking industries before they invaded.  Now both the banking and oil sectors are privatized.

Iran’s central bank is state-owned.  (Here we are going for the subtle tell the truth method of propaganda, in the hopes that Americans will think that this sort of thing is normal and acceptable.  It is not.  The sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank are economic warfare.  “The latest round of American sanctions are aimed at shutting down Iran’s central bank, a senior US official said Thursday, spelling out that intention directly for the first time.” – http://tinyurl.com/74r96hu)

Syria’s central bank is state-owned.

Venezuela’s central bank is state-owned.

Now let’s look at oil resources.  Here is the 2010 OPEC chart on oil reserves:

unexp graphshot23 llt1 2012   THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
We count Saudi Arabia as great friends; lucky for them, or they’d be on the scheduled invasions list as well.  Such great buddies that we have forgiven them for the 9/11 hijackers (most of whom apparently came from there) and will not allow that country to be named in any 9/11 survivor lawsuits.  Iran, believe it or not, has been named as a responsible party by the latest lawsuit in their stead.

On a final note, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney claims that Obama has 12,000 troops in Malta, ready to send to Libya to assist the NTC.  I do not know who her sources are (she never names exact sources), and have found no independent reports of this.  However, if this proves to be true, what propaganda will come out of the White House to justify boots on the ground and a continuation of this particular illegal invasion?

It is with great disappointment that I receive the news from foreign media publications and Libyan sources that our President now has 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in Malta and they are about to make their descent into Libya.”

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28645

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in corporatocracy, Iran, Libya, mercenaries, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy