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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Deepwater Horizon spill continues.

The BP Deepwater Horizon spill is not over.

On 20 April, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig blew up, releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  BP admits to using almost two million gallons of chemical dispersants during the clean-up effort.  We were told that the well had been capped and the leak stopped.  The media seems to have a virtual black-out on the subject, unless you are deliberately seeking information in the nooks and crannies of the internet.  But the oil is still leaking, and in fact, has never really stopped, although the flow has lessened.  Fishermen along the Gulf claim that Corexit is still being sprayed to this day.  New evidence has been presented in advance of the BP trial (scheduled to begin yesterday – although it appears that a settlement may be reached and the trial may never take place) showing that the well which was presented to the public as successfully capped was not the only well that was leaking at the Macando site and may not have been the main source of the leak at all.

A brief recap of some of the very few stories about the spill since the “well was capped”.

In June ’10, BP set up a 20 b fund to compensate those who had suffered hardship due to the spill.  No objection was raised when President Obama assigned a BP lawyer, Kenneth Feinberg, to oversee the claim fund.  BP has paid Feinberg’s firm $850,000 a month to administer the fund.  As of June ’11, the fund has paid just 4.7 b to less than 200,000 claimants, although there have been over one million claims filed, with thousands more each week continuing to be filed.

Immediately after the spill, a moratorium on deep water drilling was put in place, but was lifted in Oct. ’10.  (No new permits were actually issued until Feb. ’11.)  Ironically, the first new permit issued went to a company for drilling in an area very close to the Deepwater spill.

Jan., ’11: The White House released its final report of the spill, blaming BP and its partners for cost cutting and lack of a system to ensure well safety.  The spill was “not an isolated incident”, the report stated, but the “root causes are systemic, and absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, [such spills] might well recur”.  This statement makes no mention of the fact that the WH had lifted the moratorium 3 months before, without its own recommended “significant reform”.  (The US government issued its final report in Sept., ’11, laying the blame on BP, Halliburton, and Transocean equally.)

Feb., ’11: Research teams find oil on the seafloor which is not degrading, despite the heavy use of the dispersants.  This continues to be true to this date.

May, ’11:  Louisiana extends its state of emergency related to the spill, as problems are on-going.

July, ’11: It is found that 491 miles of coastline remain contaminated by BP oil.

Aug., ’11: Fresh oil is seen surfacing in the same area as the Deepwater site.  This is confirmed as a chemical match for the oil from the original Macando well.  BP quietly reactivates its clean-up crews, paying local fishermen to lay boom.

Sept., ’11: al jazeera article:

Sick Gulf residents continue to blame BP
from Al Jazeera Sept 2011

Many people living near the site of the BP oil spill have reported a long list of similar health problems… The smell of chemicals on the Mississippi coastline is present on many days when wind blows in from the Gulf.  
Presley’s list of symptoms mirrors what many people living in the areas affected by BP’s oil spill have told Al Jazeera.
  “I was having them then, and still have killer headaches. I’m experiencing memory loss, and when I had my blood tested for chemicals, they found m,p-Xylene, hexane, and ethylbenzene in my body.”
…

Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants, which are banned by many countries, including the UK.  According to many scientists, these dispersants create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil.  
Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist in New Iberia, Louisiana, has tested the blood of BP cleanup workers and residents.
“Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil,” Subra explained to Al Jazeera.  “The acute impacts of these chemicals include nose and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, lung irritation, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea and vomiting.”

Subra explained that exposure has been long enough to create long-term effects, such as “liver damage, kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure”.
  Testing by Subra has also revealed BP’s chemicals are present “in coastal soil sediment, wetlands, and in crab, oyster and mussel tissues”.  
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, and skin and eye contact.  Symptoms of exposure include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals can also cause birth defects, mutations, and cancer…

In ‘Generations at Risk’, medical doctor Ted Schettler and others warn that solvents can rapidly enter the human body,” Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor, told Al Jazeera. ..

Dr Soto’s main concern is that most residents who are being exposed will only show symptoms later.
“I’m concerned with the illnesses like cancer and brain degeneration for the future,” he told Al Jazeera. “This is very important because a lot of the population down here may not have symptoms. But people are unaware they are ingesting chemicals that are certainly toxic to humans and have significant effect on the brain and hormonal systems.”
..

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/09/201191716821664814.html

 

Today is Thursday September 29, 2011. A friend of mine just returned from Venice, Louisiana on a fact finding mission. He spent 2 days there and talked to dozens of fishermen and BP contractors and Coast Guard personnel and there is alot of oil at the Deepwater Horizon-Macondo well site. It is not a sheen, it is several inches thick in some spots. A chemical analysis has confirmed it is Macondo oil. There is alot of activity in Venice and resources are being ramped up.
Word is that geological formation above oil deposit is unstable and oil is leaking from fissures around wellhead. All sealife on ocean bottom is dead according to Woods Hole Oceanograpic Institute in 30+ mile radius from site and Corexit dispersant is present in large amounts…

There are alot of sick people that worked on the initial oil spill cleanup and residents in many coastal towns and cities that are sick. This is the second inning of a long nightmare and anyone who signed a release to get a ‘quickpay’ from BP and their minion Fienberg should hire a lawyer asap and hope they can get their release annulled. BP top brass are sociopaths… “
http://bpoil.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/deepwater-site-still-leaking-fish-have-tumors-shrimp-with-no-eyes-did-bp-kill-the-gulf/

Oct., ’11:  NOAA reports that dolphins and whales continue to die at twice the normal rate.
BP is given permission to resume drilling in the Gulf.  A news story from Oct., ’11 (this references a letter sent to Congress in January ’11, although I doubt you ever heard this evidence being mentioned in the MSM):

The Gulf of Mexico disaster has not gone away. In fact, it has grown exponentially since the main stream media stopped talking about it. According to the Gulf Rescue Alliance, an organization composed of scientists, medical professionals and seafood industry professionals, among others, the problem cannot be simplified to the damage already caused by the oil spill. It is worse, much worse…

The latest assessment performed by the Gulf Rescue Alliance reveals not only that the oil spill is still happening, but also that the Gulf of Mexico’s sea floor grew more unstable since the explosion in 2010. Additionally, analysis provided by experts like BK Lim, shows that the geohazards developed that derive from the rolling leakage of toxic matter, combined with the on-going use of the highly toxic chemical dispersant called Corexit will most likely result in the permanent decline of marine life, while posing out-of-control public health risks, just as it did after the Exxon Valdez spill ...

In a letter dated 14 January, 2011 that was sent to Congressman Fred Upton, Chairman House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Congressman John Shimkus Chairman Subcommittee on Environment and Economy,  BK Lim warned the congressmen and their committees about the current state of the sub-seabed in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In the document, an in-depth assessment of the emergency was provided. It explains why action must be taken immediately…

While BP was officially battling to kill well A, their contractors and other vessels went about with other covert underwater operations, many of which did not seem to be in sync with the urgency of killing “a third undisclosed well which was gushing even more oil”…

In fact, in early media reports animated graphics suggested 3 different leaks locations. BP admitted initially 3 leaks but conveniently reduced to only 1 later; ignoring to explain the “why, when and how”. BP had maintained from the start they had drilled only 1 well. From my analysis in early Aug 2010 I concluded BP could not have drilled only 1 well. They must have drilled 3 wells to account for all the conflicting information…

During the first few weeks of the disaster, there was a struggle within BP between thosewho wanted to come clean about the reality of the situation and another group that wanted to cover it up. Apparently the latter group managed to win the struggle and they decided to use the well with the least of the problems (the first and shallowest, Well A, which was drilled to about 5,000 feet below mudline) to be the one staged for the world media as the “show capping” of an oil spill. The third and bigger leak at Well 3, which the late Matt Simmons kept asserting was “the deepest well that reached the Macondo oil resevoir”, was kept out of the public limelight…

http://gosrc.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/gulf-of-mexico-sea-floor-unstable-fractured-spilling-hydrocarbons/

 

There is another interesting article from Oct, ’11 about Gulf Coast residents who have become activists on the spill issue being harassed, followed, and in some cases had their homes broken into and computers stolen.  See:

http://bpoil.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/gulf-of-mexico-residents-accuse-bp-and-their-security-company-of-harassment-dahr-jamail/

Nov., ’11:  The Coast Guard decides it is okay to wind down the oil clean-up efforts, although Gulf residents continue to see oil coming ashore and signs of serious illness in the fish catches.

BP will no longer be responsible for cleaning up oil that washes up on the Gulf Coast unless officials can prove it comes from the company’s well that blew out in 2010, causing the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, according to a plan approved by the Coast Guard and obtained by The Associated Press…

Louisiana officials wouldn’t give their approval because they were concerned about what they perceived as a lack of long-term monitoring in the document. They also complained that the Coast Guard gave them only five days to review the plan, according to a letter sent to the agency by Garret Graves, a top aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal for coastal affairs…

“Everything is just not how it used to be. When you pull a fish up, it doesn’t look like it is supposed to look, like they did before” said Ryan Johnson a fishermen on the pier. Johnson said many fish now have an unnatural brownish color.

Despite the concerns, the Coast Guard said its finalized plan would apply to Louisiana and all the Gulf states…

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/09/coast-guard-oks-winding-down-bp-oil-spill-cleanup/?test=latestnews

9 Nov., ’11:

The catastrophic oil spill caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon petroleum rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 was a disaster of epic proportions, and according to the new documentary “The Big Fix,” the havoc it wreaked is far from over.  Filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Harrell Tickell (“Fuel”) used their cameras to expose the ugly truth after a visit to Josh’s native New Orleans, when it became clear that the problems are ongoing and getting worse. “The oil appears to still be leaking. The deadly chemical dispersant Corexit 9527 is still being sprayed and humans along the Gulf Coast as well as shrimp and fish populations appear to be sick,” he said, showing photos of tumor-ridden fish and abnormal crab at a press conference for the film, where several fellow Louisianans corroborated his statements.

“Lives are devastated by this environmental crime for which no one has been indicted,” said attorney Stuart Smith, who represents more than 1,000 individuals and businesses in the Gulf and appears in the film. Citing the thousands of dolphins, turtles, shellfish and other marine creatures that have died, “The impact is bad enough, but what’s even more frightening is the oil is still leaking and bubbling up at the site where the rig once stood,” he said. “We have been lied to. It was leaking when Josh and Rebecca were filming, and it’s still leaking. BP downplayed the significance of the spill, which they’re still doing today. It’s time that the government and BP tell the American people the truth.”

Dean Blanchard, whose shrimp processing company was once the largest in the U.S., has seen his supply dwindle to “less than 1 percent of the shrimp we produced before. We get shrimp with oil in the gills and shrimp with no eyes. The fish are dead and there are no dolphins swimming around my house.” He knows five people who worked on cleanup crews who have died, and he suffers from sinus and throat problems. Former shrimper Margaret Curole’s healthy 31-year-old son worked two months on the cleanup and became so sick from dispersant exposure that he lost 52 pounds and is now unable to walk without a cane. “Most of the seafood is dead or toxic. I wouldn’t feed it to my cat,” said her husband Kevin Curole..

“The larger issue is the system is corrupt,” continued [actor Tim] Robbins, questioning why “the first license issued for offshore drilling
after the moratorium [was] granted to BP. The government has given up on its responsibility to protect the public interest and instead is allowing corporations to determine policy and environmental safety. What we’re seeing with the oil spill and the illnesses from it is what happens when we allow corporations to determine public policy. Corporations’ interest is purely profit. It’s nothing to do with our safety and interests. Why are we allowing this? It’s our responsibility as citizens of this country to keep these people in check, particularly when they threaten our environment with extinction and our lives.”…


The attorney mentioned in the above article, Stuart Smith, who is representing over 1,000 individuals and businesses in a lawsuit against BP, issued a press release in Nov. regarding the test results which prove that the oil still leaking into the Gulf comes from the Mocando site.  http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/11/21/41602.htm

One reporter who has remained doggedly on the oil spill story is Deborah Dupre of examiner.com.  She has written a review of the movie “The Big Fix”, which can be found here: http://www.examiner.com/human-rights-in-national/bp-government-carpet-bomb-gulf-people-world-now-knows   At the bottom of that article, you will find links to many other stories she has written on the subject.  The movie, by the way, is scheduled for release to the public in April.

Now we come to the present time.  I went through the exercise of presenting all the above articles in an attempt to show that the BP oil spill story is on-going and a current crisis – it is not over.  You will not hear about it on the nightly news or read about it in the Wash. Post or NYTimes; but that does not mean that everything is fine in the Gulf of Mexico.  I doubt, though, that anyone except the sick people along the coast and the fishermen who can’t find healthy fish know anything about conditions there.  The rest of us may become aware of the situation when either the entire seabed cracks apart or when some otherwise remarkably ignorant Republican candidate decides to use it as a story to smear Obama – not that the environmental issues mean a thing to Republicans.  Obama certainly ought to be held responsible, but what a dismal state of apathy and ignorance we live in for the issue to have been so easily tossed aside.  The Gulf is dying.  Oil is still leaking.  People are sick.  And we are fast-tracking more drilling sites.  The evidence is in: we are too stupid to survive as a species for much longer.

Yesterday was supposed to be the start of the BP trial; in advance of that, the following information was handed over to Congress and the Attorneys General of AL and LA.

Gulf Res­cue Al­liance (GRA) has just sent a brief­ing pack­age to the At­tor­neys Gen­er­al of Al­abama and Louisiana which pre­sents ev­i­dence they be­lieve has never seen the light of day con­cern­ing the how and why of the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon Dis­as­ter and sub­se­quent re­lease of toxic oil into the Gulf—oil that is still gush­ing from var­i­ous seabed frac­tures and fis­sures.

The ev­i­dence pro­vided therein clearly in­di­cates:

  • The un­men­tioned ex­is­tence of a 3rd Ma­condo well (the real source of the ex­plo­sion, DWH sink­ing and en­su­ing oil spill).
  •  The cur­rent con­di­tion of this well being such that it can never be prop­erly capped.
  • The com­pro­mised con­di­tion of the seabed floor being such that there are mul­ti­ple un­nat­ural sources of gush­ers con­tin­u­ing to pour into the Gulf, with Corexit dis­per­sant still sup­press­ing its vis­i­bil­ity.
  • That the highly pub­li­cized capped well (Well A) never oc­curred as re­ported, and in fact was an aban­doned well, hence it was never the source of the mil­lions of gal­lons re­leased into the Gulf….

This ex­tra­or­di­nary re­port goes on to doc­u­ment a sce­nario in which it ap­pears that BP il­le­gally drilled more than one well at the Ma­condo Prospect in the Gulf of Mex­ico (GOM). Fur­ther­more, the well that was ul­ti­mately capped after 87 straight days of gush­ing oil and gas into the Gulf may not be the one that was li­censed by the ap­pro­pri­ate US per­mit­ting agen­cies.

The fac­tual se­quence of events, and es­pe­cially the ac­tual re­sponse by BP, ap­pear to be far dif­fer­ent from those re­ported in the media and by the Coast Guard.  It is im­por­tant to note that BP was given a lead po­si­tion in the uni­fied com­mand struc­ture au­tho­rized by the US Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the burn­ing and sink­ing of the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon.  This trans­fer­ence of au­thor­ity away from the im­pacted state gov­ern­ments was un­prece­dented in US his­tory and cre­ated a vir­tual mo­nop­oly over the flow of in­for­ma­tion from BP to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties, as well as to the pub­lic-at-large

“All this is ab­solutely rel­e­vant to the case at hand; and par­tic­u­larly get­ting this vital in­for­ma­tion into the hands of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of Al­abama and any­one else in­volved in this trial. But our pur­pose for doing so is to gain at­ten­tion to what we con­sider the real sit­u­a­tion: EPA’s con­tin­ued en­dorse­ment of toxic Corexit dis­per­sants being used in the Gulf wa­ters, as well as their en­forced ban on safe, non-toxic biore­me­di­a­tion prod­ucts such as Oil Spill Eater II-an ef­fec­tive EPA tested and ap­proved prod­uct used around the world,” said GRA.

“It would seem plau­si­ble that gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials knew of the in­for­ma­tion about the 3rd Well but aided in cov­er­ing it up sim­i­lar to the re­cent PEER re­port re­veal­ing the fact that top White House of­fi­cials ma­nip­u­lated sci­en­tific analy­ses by in­de­pen­dent ex­perts to se­ri­ously low­ball the amount of oil leak­ing from the BP Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon.

http://www.nationofchange.org/conclusive-evidence-bp-misrepresented-gulf-oil-spill-sent-congress-1330360084

The PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) report mentioned above reads in part:

For Immediate Release: January 23, 2012

HIGH-LEVEL LOWBALL IN GULF DEEPWATER CRISIS — Scientific Integrity Complaint Details Official Underestimation of BP Spill Rate

Washington, DC — Top Obama officials manipulated scientific analyses of independent experts to seriously lowball the amount of oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon, according to a scientific integrity complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Documents obtained by PEER through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit indicate White House pressure to present low-range estimates as best estimates.  In fact, numbers presented to the public were less than half the true flow rate.

On May 19, 2010, one month after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the White House announced creation of a group of experts from academia, industry and government to generate an accurate and independent estimate of the oil leak rate.  This group was called the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG).

Using new scientific integrity rules, PEER today filed a complaint charging that the leader of one of the FRTG Teams, Dr. William Lehr of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), manipulated the scientific results of the FRTG experts throughout the entire crisis to significantly understate the spill rate.  Lehr is also the author of the now infamous “Oil Budget Calculator” and a report concluding 75% of the oil was gone from the Gulf by August 2010…

These underestimates [of the spill rate] were repeated to the public and media.  When experts on the FRTG complained to Dr. Marcia McNutt, Director of the U.S. Geologic Survey, she cited pressure from the White House, saying in a May 29 email that:

“I cannot tell you what a nightmare the past two days have been dealing with the communications people at the White House, DOI, and the NIC who seem incapable of understanding the concept of a lower bound. The press release that went out on our results was misleading and was not reviewed by a scientist for accuracy.”

Throughout the Plume Team’s work it was widely thought that physical measurement of the leak was not possible and therefore it was assumed that Plume Team estimates of the leak rate would be used to assess damages in future litigation.  Thus, manipulating spill rate estimates down to 25,000 bpd instead of 60,000 bpd could have reduced damages paid by BP and/or other responsible parties by tens of billions of dollars.  Even more significantly, the President’s National Commission concluded that underestimates of the size of the spill hampered clean-up efforts and caused numerous attempts to cap the well to fail.

In fact, the leak rate was physically measured by an Energy Department team as the well was capped.  This final official estimate set the leak rate at 62,000 bpd (decreasing to 53,000 bpd when finally closed), proving correct the suppressed estimates from dissenting Plume Team members.

“This complaint serves as a litmus test as to whether the Obama administration will apply its scientific integrity rules to its own actions,” stated PEER executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that his organization has waged an 18-month court battle to obtain approximately 100 highly redacted emails while several hundred more emails are still being withheld.  “Hopefully, the investigation of this complaint will force the immediate release of the full deliberations so that the scientific record can be set straight.”

http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1546

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in corporatocracy, environment, fossil fuels, gulf of mexico

 

Words fail.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s top Pentagon lawyer on Wednesday said that American citizens who join Al Qaeda can be targeted for killing and that courts should have no role in reviewing executive branch decisions about whether someone has met such criteria.

“Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives,” said Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department general counsel, in a speech at Yale Law School…

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/pentagon-says-u-s-citizens-with-terrorism-ties-can-be-targeted-in-strikes/

Ask yourself: who defines al Qaeda?  What, exactly, is al Qaeda?  How many steps of separation need to exist between yourself and a “non-citizen belligerent” for you to be considered in the safe zone?  Who defines “belligerents”?  Taking into account that we have targeted assassinations of ‘terrorists’ going on in at least 7 countries right now, while technically at war with no-one (land invasions do not count as war – a war requires two sides, and you don’t just get to make the other side up when you get there), what are “valid military objectives”?

And that, my friends, is life in these United States of America, today, the 25th of February, in the year of our Lord 2012.

In light of this situation, I can only suggest you listen to this song again.  Then either go back to bed or pick up a pitchfork, depending upon your wont.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG443N7lo4Q

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in civil rights, MIC, security state

 

The scum also rises.

I was going to completely ignore the 2012 election, the clowns v the jokers, because, well, because I don’t think it matters too much.  The result is a foregone conclusion; the corporations and banks win, the people lose.  There are actually other parties running besides the Republican party (Obama is a Republican, let’s be honest here), but the media is doing a dandy job of sheltering the public from the awful spectacle of third parties.  In a country which offers 20 brands of toilet paper, the public must not be brain-stressed and confused by having to contemplate more than one party during the voting season.  It’ll get even easier in 2016 – they aren’t going to bother with elections by then.

I haven’t watched any of the GOP “debates” in full.  But this little clip from earlier this week caught my attention.  The crowd boos the very mention of war with Iran fracking continuation of the Bush tax cuts gutting Social Security and Medicare birth control.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0eX9SK1Mp00

In the year 2012, a roomful of Americans is booing the idea of contraception.  Are you freaking shitting me?  Where did they even find these people?  Who are these people?  Are they just sad little people looking for some authority to tell them how they should conduct their private lives and what to believe?  Are they all looking for a Pope or cult leader rather than a President?  Are they seeking that candidate who will dare to say out loud that women should be barefoot and pregnant and submit to their husbands?  I read one short recap of the debate which pointed out that only three women were visible during the entire evening in any CNN camera shots panning the crowd.  And one of those women was Rick Perry’s wife.

Maybe the audience at all the debates are the same few hundred people who are bussed around from one debate to another; the ones booing birth control are the same ones who in earlier debates booed a gay soldier, applauded the death penalty, and cheered the death of an uninsured individual.

The “candidates” were asked their viewpoints on contraception being covered by health insurance.  None of them thought it was a good idea, except Ron Paul (and that is a “maybe”), but I’ll get to his take in a second.  Romney and Gingrich strangely decided to answer the question as though their own opinions were entirely irrelevant; neither of them actually gave his opinion.  Gingrich preferred to talk about Obama’s supposed support of infanticide and Romney blustered a bit about Obama’s attack on religious tolerance.  When Santorum’s turn came, he went into a lecture about the “dangers of contraception.”   Contraception, he claimed, causes out-of-wedlock births, single-parent homes, and growing poverty.  The fact that birth control, sort of by definition, prevents these things is one of those sciencey things he considers an unproven theory rather than as fact.  Look, we are talking about flat-earthers and young-earth believers here – Satan placed dinosaur bones around and about to trick us into thinking the earth was more than 6000 years old and all that crap.  You can’t argue with these guys; they believe.

Ron Paul had his turn.  His take is that the pill is here to stay and people are going to use it anyway.   I’m not sure how he views the idea of insurance paying for it, since he wanted to talk about the Real Issue instead.  The problem, see, is that the hussies and the men they lure are immoral and sick.  He actually compared these wanton, wa-a-ay too sexually active sluts and their marks to people who use guns.

“But sort of along the line of the pills creating immorality, I don’t see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don’t blame the pills. I think it’s sort of like the argument – conservatives use the argument all the time about guns. Guns don’t kill, criminals kill.” – Ron Paul.

But wait, Mr. Paul, don’t married people also use contraception?  Are you saying that sex is, in and of itself and in all cases, immoral?  I don’t quite know what you are getting at, but the gun metaphor ought to be dropped.  For sure, he didn’t have one of those “Make love, not war” bumper stickers back in the day.  His probably said, “Make neither love nor war.  Hire mercenaries to do your dirty work.”

So here we are talking about birth control and we have a whole entire flock of Americans who want to get rid of it.  Inconceivable.  Tell you what, dumb-asses.  If you don’t believe in abortions, don’t have one.  If you don’t believe in contraception, don’t use it.  You have the freedom (for now, anyway) to make your own choices.  But you don’t have the right to take that choice away from everyone else.  To dictate morality and religious beliefs would be to make us a theocracy.  It would be Christian Sharia law.

We could ignore the candidates, flamboyantly weird and distracting a spectacle as they are, but this sort of move backwards in time is catching hold all over the place.  The Congressional hearings on contraception – Jesus H. Christ, can you believe they are holding Congressional hearings on this? – originally only allowed testimony from some men to some other men, notably none of whom had the remotest possibility of becoming pregnant.  When they finally deigned to allow a woman to speak, they didn’t want her testimony to be televised.  What, what, what?  Rep. Joe Walsh (Teabagger, Illinois) said, “This is not about women.  This is not about contraceptives…This is about religious freedom.”   Oh, bullshit.  Forcing your anti-Christ-like “Christian” beliefs on everyone is the antithesis to religious freedom.  And women are part of the whole “having offspring” thing, in case you didn’t notice.  In fact, one might say they are integral to the process.  Mr. Walsh knows that – he had a kid or two.  Or three.  Even without checking under his clothes, I’m willing to bet he isn’t physically equipped to carry a child to term.  Oh, wait, he’s the guy who doesn’t believe in abortion or birth control, although divorcing the other half and letting her fend for the progeny alone is morally acceptable.   (In June of last year, his ex-wife had to sue him for over $100,000 of back child support.  He raked her over the coals in the press, had a team of 5 lawyers, and failed to show up for the hearings.  This was after he donated $35,000 to his own campaign.  Priorities, people.)  How about this – if contraception should not be a covered expense under insurance, then the resulting prenatal care costs and the birth itself should not be covered.  Having the kid is a “choice” issue as well, and a damn sight more expensive that the pill.  Why should my rates go up just because some couples want to return to the pre-industrial era of blood-letting, charms, and the rhythm method?

And now we have some idiots going after the Girl Scouts, saying that they are “a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood”.  [http://jezebel.com/5887556/are-girl-scouts-miniature-soldiers-in-the-culture-wars]

This would all be a funny distraction from the real issues facing us today, save for the fact that these fundamentalist whack jobs are actually succeeding in getting laws changed in state after state, and now we are letting Congress and candidates for the presidential office talk about reversing centuries of church-state separation as though they were somehow discussing something reasonable.  They are, indeed, making war on women, as I have heard it called.  And war on poor people and war on people of color.  They are overturning voting rights and trying as hard as they can to take us to some landscape of feudalism and Dark Ages.  The scum has risen to the very top.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in elections

 

Congress would like whistle-blowers to just go away.

When the history of our current period is written – assuming there is going to be anyone to write the history of this period, or that history will in any way reflect truth – the list of the Obama “accomplishments” will be a gross contrast to his campaign promises and public statements.

Peter Van Buren, author of “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” did an excellent interview with RT a day or two ago.  Congress is working on new legislation to “improve” whistle-blowers’ protection; the fact that it will make it much more difficult for whistle-blowers to come forward and almost guarantee that they lose their jobs should come as no surprise to anyone not currently in a vegetative state.

The video of the interview lasts roughly 9 minutes.

The House Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises passed a bill that severely weakens protection for corporate whistleblowers. The bill requires the whistleblower to confront the company in question first before going to a regulatory agency. Then the agency would notify the entity being accused of wrong-doing before any enforcement action is taken. Also it would legalize retaliation by the company against the whistle blowing employee. I joined RT.com to take a closer look at the rights of whistleblowers and how they’ve changed through the years.

http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2012/02/22/on-rt-com-war-on-whistleblowers/

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Congress, Iraq

 

The PFUTS plan.

Okay.  After a couple of centuries of working on it, we pretty much have a perfect plan now.  It’s called PFUTS.  Preemptively Fuck Up Their Shit.  It simply means going after The Enemy before they have done anything to us.  Just in case.  Because we want their stuff, or because we want them to have enough sense to choose a different form of government than what they have, or because we need to justify the gross amount of cash we spend on Weapons and Warriors.  Or because we are having an election and aside from taking away birth control, the minimum wage, or social security, the only thing our politicians know how to talk about is war – so they have to create one to talk about.  Or just because we feel like fucking someone up.

The “Their” can be filled in with whomever we choose as the enemy of the day.  Today it’s Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria.  Yesterday, Libya.  The day before, Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, we are currently following up the PFUTS operations with the sub-plan, CFUTS, or Continue to Fuck Up Their Shit.  The only reason to follow PFUTS with CFUTS is because we can.  We want to.  We like doing it.  There can be no other explanation.  As we can see in Iraq, for example, we totally decimated the country.  Somewhere around one million of their people were killed, four to six million were displaced and had to flee their own country, their water and soil is poisoned with our depleted uranium, electricity is still not available many hours of the day, schools and hospitals remain closed, and tens of thousands of Iraqi women have turned to prostitution in an effort to feed their children because there are no jobs.  Yet we haven’t quite left yet; our State Department remains with thousands of mercenaries and drones, while we demand war reparations from the country.  We invaded them for no reason, but they have to pay us back for the expenses we incurred on ourselves in the invasion and war.  In Libya, we have sent around 6000 US troops to guard the oil fields while the government we foisted upon them, the NTC, grabs black Africans and former Ghaddafi supporters off the streets, imprisoning and torturing them.  There again, we are demanding that Libya pay for their “liberation” by forfeiting the funds we illegally seized right before we started bombing the crap out of their cities.  In Afghanistan, we have US troops guarding gold mines for JPMorgan, while we continue to drop bombs and engage in “warcraft” with the Taliban.  For some reason (and it is probably just as simple as wanting to give Raytheon and Lockheed a chance to make a few more bucks while we figure out how to get that damn pipeline built) we seem to be arming the Taliban at the same time we are trying to kill them.

Some countries never escape our CFUTS sub-plan.  See, for example, Haiti.  The Philippines.  Japan.  (See, for that matter, Native Americans.)  Although our CFUTS is a little more subtle in those instances than in Libya or Iraq.  It’s a work in progress, only now nearing perfection; and now that the American public seems to really be on board with the whole PFUTS thing, really behind it, the guys in charge of fucking up people’s shit can be a little more obvious.  Obama openly talks about projecting power and the right of the US to exert dominance wherever we feel it is necessary in order to secure our advantage economically.  [See my previous article: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/02/the-2012-defense-strategic-guidance/ ]

They are so obvious about it that we now have a sitting US president bragging about assassinating foreigners (living in countries with which we are not at war), and US citizens at his whim.  Without any charges brought against them, without any legal evidence of their alleged wrong-doing, without trial or sentence.  Our top diplomat can now boldly state that the leader of a sovereign nation should do as we direct and step down because “his days are numbered”. [http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/18/us-syria-usa-clinton-idUSTRE7AH2LQ20111118]

This is different than what NATO did in Libya, Clinton is quick to point out, and she is technically correct.  In Libya, we posted a 2 million dollar on Ghaddafi’s head, directed the “rebels” on where to find him, and then laughed as he was tortured and assassinated.  Assad does not yet have a bounty on his head.

Our PFUTS plan for Iran involves accusing them of doing things they are not doing, sending in the CIA to mess with their people, assassinating their scientists and then imposing sanctions on them, which is an act of aggressive, preemptive economic war.  We have also invaded their air space, sending drones over, one of which crashed onto Iranian soil.  (Somehow that prompted a threat of what we would do if they didn’t return it.)  Now we have them surrounded by land and sea and wonder why in the hell those Persians are not meekly submitting to our “power projections”.  How dare they deny that they are not doing what they are not doing?  How dare they patrol the waters along their own shores, with clever little patrol boats, no less – that is right where we have our warships, damnit.  As you read these passages, notice the discrepancy between our military hardware and that of the Iranian forces.

Nerves were strained as an Iranian patrol boat approached the USS Abraham Lincoln at speed.

A helicopter escort hovered above the vessel in a warning not to get any closer, and the grey boat, tiny compared to the massive U.S. aircraft carrier, eventually turned around.

The encounter involving U.S. and Iranian boats, common in recent weeks, underscores rising tensions in the Gulf region between rival powers since Tehran threatened to close the Hormuz Strait, the world’s most important oil shipping waterway, over Western moves to ban Iranian crude exports….

The fleet, known as “Carrier Strike Group Nine” has been making forays through Hormuz despite the Iranian threats….

With four helicopters circling overhead and two destroyers leading, the carrier entered Hormuz while up in the watch tower, some seven Navy commanding officers, intelligence chiefs and legal experts were gathered in a small but busy control room…

The head of the fleet, Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker, spotted two small boats, thought to be of smugglers, being battered by the high waves.

“It is going very well, relatively quiet. We have had a couple of surveillance aircraft, a helicopter and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) but nothing in the way of surface activity,” Shoemaker said, referring to activity from Iranian side…

The Iranians make their presence felt every time U.S. forces cross the strait, by almost escorting the fleet either by air or using patrol boats. The U.S. in return reassesses the threat from Iran on regular basis by studying Iranian activity…

Military experts say the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf – which always has at least one giant super carrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers – is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran’s navy.

But it is the small boats that worry the U.S. Navy most. Vice Admiral Fox said last week that Iran had built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks…
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/17/usa-iran-hormuz-idUSL5E8DH38U20120217

In the same article, we see that some of our “warriors” get at least the gist of PFUTS, if not the entire picture.

For many of the sailors, Iran’s threats were not always something they paid attention to. They often saw their mission in simpler terms.

We want that oil to go where it needs to go in this world. We want people in this region to be able to get the products they can buy from Europe, from America, other regions of the world,” said Naval Aviator Matt Driskill, 33, who recently flew fighter planes over Libya and over Iraq in 2004. [from same Reuters article cited above.]

Now see, I really like this young man.  He has thoroughly accepted and internalized the indoctrination that the US has the right to all the oil in Iran and that we are there for the Good of the Whole Entire Earth.  I see stars and shiny things dangling from his lapels in his future.  He hasn’t seemed to grasp that the oil isn’t flowing from Iran because, well, uh, we sanctioned and embargoed them, thus preventing them from trading their oil.  However, he is sanguine in his belief that this is their fault, too, and so he watches for suicide patrol boats and stands prepared to loose the dogs of war.  He is a good soldier.

We all are, now.  We obediently line up to be scanned at the airports, we laugh at videos of people who are tasered unto death by the local police and make jokes about it.  At least 500 people have been killed by tasers to date. [ http://rt.com/usa/news/500-taser-law-enforcement-503/ ]

We listen blandly as our leaders suggest that we should use more weapons, more secret forces, more drones dropping bombs in more countries, drones over our own skies, as they boast of militarized local police forces, and plan the use of the military in our cities and towns.  [See for instance:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/us/admiral-pushes-for-freer-hand-in-special-forces.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 and this: http://wsws.org/articles/2012/feb2012/pers-f14.shtml ]

We have accepted the indoctrination; the words no longer sound strange to us.  “Homeland”, “warriors”, “warrior class”, “special ops”, “black site”, “targeted assassination”, “rendition”, “Patriot Act”, “see something, say something”….

I just saw an ad for a movie, coming soon to a theater near you.  It is entitled, “Act of Valor” and stars real-io, trul-io, live-io Navy SEALs, who, I assume, must remain anonymous in their starring roles.

An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a film like no other in Hollywood’s history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey. When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation, the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all. Act of Valor combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the-minute battlefield technology, and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure film-showcasing the skills, training and tenacity of the greatest action heroes of them all: real Navy SEALs. — movie synopsis.

Now, this is open propaganda and indoctrination.  The definition of “valor” is: “exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger (especially in battle)”.  This movie is based on an actual event, the killing of Osama bin Laden.  We sneaked into a sovereign nation after a man who was alleged to be the mastermind of 9/11, although the evidence was so nonexistent that we never even brought charges against him and the tapes purportedly made by him after 9/11 have been proven to be fakes.  It is likely he actually died a decade ago.  But once there in Pakistan, we shot his unarmed wife, shot and killed him as he stood, also unarmed, and dumped his body in the ocean.  There was no battle.  Whomever they shot was some old guy without a weapon of any sort.  What is valorous about that?

Maybe we are just stupid, but we have not seemed to glom onto the fact that the psychopaths running things are also targeting us.  And let me assure you that these people are seriously deranged.  How can anyone not see this?  They are using their PFUOS (Preemptively Fuck Up Our Shit) plan right here at home.  Perhaps we can’t grasp it because our brains have been permanently damaged by the fluoride they put in the water.  [http://www.infowars.com/story-on-mystery-substance-distracts-from-fact-fluoride-is-a-deadly-killer/ ]  Or because our food has lost most of its nutritional value and our brains are starved of vitamins and minerals.  [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss]

Whatever it is, we fail to recognize that the oligarchy is ruining our lives right along with all those foreigners we think we need to hate.  They keep coming up with plans that should ring alarms – yet no-one notices.  The mortgage settlement that Obama announced the other day will cost the taxpayers roughly 20 bb out of the 25 bb.  And, by the way, not one single home will be returned to anyone who was foreclosed on fraudulently.
[See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/09-5 ]

They are giving all of Greece to the big banks, and I have to ask frankly, has it occurred to anyone that we are paying a boat-load of interest on the national debt to the same banks that we just gave 14.7 trillion in bail-outs to?  They want all of the US, too, see, but nowadays, they have you pretty well convinced that the whole economic downturn thing was the fault of poor people trying to own houses.  All it took was a few politicians and newspapers saying or writing complete blathering nonsense for a year or so, and you have totally forgotten how we got into this mess.

If Obama and Congress suggested that the way out of our troubles was to sacrifice virgins to the great god Moloch, I suspect the only argument we would be having would be over which serves the purpose better: “pure” American virgins or the children of immigrants, as a way to solve the “illegal alien problem”.  (Hate to tell you, but Obama is disallowing the LIFO – Last In, First Out – method of accounting in his new budget.)  Anyone who objected to throwing children off the dome of the Capitol on moral grounds would be jeered at as pansy, socialist, bleeding hearts by most of the population.

They got the EPA to approve a pesticide which is probably the cause of the bee colony collapse using fraudulent research; but we mustn’t interfere with Monsanto’s part in the PFUOS.  [  http://grist.org/politics/food-2010-12-10-leaked-documents-show-epa-allowed-bee-toxic-pesticide/ ]  And now, they’ve come up with a plan to sequester carbon – by turning it into liquid and burying it in giant pits a mile underground.  This should sound utterly insane, but we are talking about the same people who poison our water with fracking, tell us Gulf seafood is safe to eat, allow new nuclear facilities to be built with outdated standards, allow new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, overfish the oceans until we are are nearing complete collapse of the fish stock, use massive amounts of antibiotics on feed animals; and we don’t seem to have sense enough to wonder about those either. [http://www.alternet.org/environment/154106]

Go watch “Act of Valor”.  Have some popcorn.  Might as well have some good old-fashioned fun watching guys shoot and maim other guys while the people in charge fuck up your shit.

Bonus thought.  From wikipedia;  “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the ‘Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John the Evangelist’ at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a ‘ ‘book’/’scroll’ in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals’. The Lamb of God/Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ) opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. Although some interpretations differ, the four riders are commonly seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine and Death, respectively. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.”

People in other countries, being closer to the state of sanity than we are, might tremble at the sight of the four horses.  The American response, however, would be, “Oooo-ooo, I’ll take the red horse for 200, Alex!”

 

A shout-out to the homeboy.

Updated below.

After two days of contentious debate and the consideration of several amendments, the Maryland House of Delegates has passed marriage equality legislation with a vote of 71-67. One of the amendments passed delayed the date of enactment from October to January. Another created a non-severability clause, such that if the religious protections are overturned by the courts, the entire law would have to be deemed invalid. The measure still has to advance through the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and full Senate, and even then, it is likely to be challenged by a referendum.   http://tinyurl.com/6vef9d4

But we are getting there, finally.  Our governor, Martin O’Malley, released the following public statement regarding this vote in the House.  I applaud him for taking this stance and for what is a rather bold (and in today’s strange, non-human political environment, very brave) statement.

“Today, the House of Delegates voted for human dignity.  Speaker Busch and his fellow Delegates deserve a lot of credit for their hard work.  At its heart, their vote was a vote for Maryland’s children.

“There is still work to be done and marriage equality has not yet been achieved in Maryland.  Wherever we happen to stand on the marriage equality issue, we can agree that all our children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law.

“Clergy and faith-based leaders, community leaders, civic organizations, civil rights groups, and citizens from across our State have reached the same conclusion that Americans in seven other states have reached – it is possible to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally.

“Now, as the Senate prepares to vote, all of us are needed – and we’re prepared to redouble our efforts.  The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual. Love is an unalienable right.

 

Update:  On 1 March, Gov. O’Malley signed the bill into law.  Md. is now the 8th state to allow same-sex marriage.  (Yes, our Gov. is cool.)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in civil rights

 

The effect of sanctions on Iran.

Victoria Nuland, State Dept. spokeswoman, press briefing, 7 Feb., 2012:

QUESTION: Just staying on Iran —

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, even though you note that the latest U.S. sanctions have exceptions for food and medicine and so on, what has already begun to happen…companies are…they’re just backing out of any dealing through Iran, including on food stuff. And we have reported over the weekend very extensively about the ways in which you’re starting to see almost sort of panic buying in parts of Iran, people stocking up on certain food stuffs. So whether you intend the sanctions to…you’re already seeing effects that clearly hurt the population. How do you address that? I mean, you’ve always said that you have no quarrel with the Iranian people, but is this what you actually want, that you want to see the sanctions squeeze the ordinary people so that they will try to get their government to change its policies?

MS. NULAND: Well, just as you have said, Arshad, we do have no quarrel with the Iranian people. In fact, it is the Iranian people’s future and their hopes and aspirations to live in a freer, more democratic state that actually provides for them rather than siphoning off vital resources of the state into the nuclear program that we are seeking to help them achieve here with these policies. Our sanctions are designed to make it hurt the Iranian regime, that it is making the choice not to come clean on its nuclear program, not to allow the IAEA in to see what it needs to see.

And we frankly do regret the fact that this has begun to have some knock-off effect on the people. And we are trying, through all of our media platforms to the Iranian people, to make clear that this is not directed at them, that our own policies do allow continued trading in food stuffs and medicines and medical supplies. But frankly, the bad choices that their government is making are chilling the international environment for any kind of trade with Iran. But all of this will end — Iran’s own isolation will end when it comes clean with the international community about its nuclear program and particularly makes clear that it — and demonstrates that it doesn’t have an intent to build a weapon.

QUESTION: Even if you regret it and even if you have (inaudible) exceptions for food and medicine, one of the clear effects of the sanctions passing or being signed into law on New Year’s Eve has been a depreciation in the Iranian currency. As a result of that – and this is on the front page of The New York Times,…there is considerable inflation as people are uncertain whether Iran will be able to continue to import foodstuffs or other essential goods. And it seems like you want to have it both ways: You want to be able to say, well, we regret that this hurts the Iranian people, we’re not really trying to hurt the Iranian people; but you are hurting the Iranian people.

MS. NULAND: Our message to the regime is that they need to look very hard at what their lack of openness, their lack of transparency, the fact that they continue to profess that they don’t have or want a nuclear weapons program but won’t demonstrate that to the world, what the knock-off effect of that is on their own people. These are their bad choices that are resulting in the situation on the ground in Iran.

QUESTION: Toria, the word around town that is used…that is used time and time again to describe as an alternative to war is crippling sanctions. How do you define crippling sanctions? What does that mean?…

MS. NULAND: It is twofold. It is first designed to cripple the flow of revenue that the regime can use to fund its nuclear ambitions. And secondly, it’s designed to make the choice for Iran crystal clear.  http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/30736-state-department-briefing-by-victoria-nuland-february-7-2012.html

Victoria Nuland, press briefing two days later, 9 Feb., 2012

QUESTION: Financial sanctions on Iran are – increasingly seem to affect Iran’s ability to import food; you have reports that grain shipments are being – are channeled away from Iran. Palm oil is drying up for them. Does it concern you at all that this may now begin to hit the Iranian on the street? I mean, you constantly say that you want to put pressure on the government and not necessarily on the average citizen. But it seems like now, if you’re talking about food supplies, things could be getting very dicey. What’s the U.S. view on these – this impact of the sanctions regime?

MS. NULAND: Well, Andy, … we had a long discussion of this earlier in the week…Obviously, we have no beef with the Iranian people. In fact, our intention is to be able to end the isolation of Iran and have it reintegrated into the international community so that the Iranian people can live the way they want to live – in a state that is increasingly democratic and prosperous.

Unfortunately, the Iranian Government has not lived up to its international commitments, has not come clean with us about its nuclear program, and so we are having to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze economically…

I do want to make clear, as we said the other day, that with regard to U.S. sanctions, we do have carve-outs for the provision of food, medical equipment, medicines to the Iranian people because we don’t want to hurt them any more than we need to. But they are living in a state with a government that would rather spend money on a nuclear weapons program than on the welfare of its people, and that’s why we are compelled to increase the pressure and increase the isolation until they see the light.

QUESTION: But on this issue, Victoria, I mean, how would you avoid the situation? I understand that you don’t want to hurt the Iranian people, and that’s quite admirable, but how – what lessons have you learned, let’s say, from the Iraq situation where Iraq was not allowed to have graphite pencils or strings for the musical instrument for the Baghdad Philharmonic or things for medication and so on, where not only people suffer but also their culture suffers a great deal?

MS. NULAND: Again, those are not the kind of sanctions that we’re seeking. We’re seeking sanctions on those things that provide funding for the regime to continue to pursue its nuclear program, and that’s why these sanctions are focused on the government, are focused on crude oil.

QUESTION: But inevitably, you have things that are called dual use or double purpose and so on. How do you deal with that issue?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we don’t have any gripe with the Iranian people at all, and we are doing our best to target this situation so that it is the Iranian regime that has to make the difficult choice ahead of it. And we do regret that this is having an impact on people, but it’s having an impact on people because their government is making a very bad choice for Iran’s future, and frankly, for regional security and global security.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/02/183639.htm#IRAN

This is our State Dept.  Our department of diplomatic outreach to the world, the face we present to other countries.  I know that we live in a rather casual linguistic environment here in the US, but (let me just get this off my chest) – do we really need to descend to the level of street-style mafioso language coming from our State Dept.?  Recall Hillary Clinton hideously giggling and throwing around what she thought of as witty repartee when Ghaddafi was assassinated?  “We came, we saw, he died.”  Indeed.  And Madeleine Albright casually saying that the half a million Iraqi children who died due to sanctions were “worth it”?

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Here we have Victoria Nuland saying to the press that the US “has no gripe” with the people of Iran and we regret any “knock-off effect” on them.  We have no gripe with those people.  Sounds like a couple of thugs talking about taking out the underlings by accident.  Yeah, well, youse knows we got no beef wit those babbos – it’s just that the capo di tutti capi has a thing about their capo, ya know how it is.

Word choice aside, she tells two outright lies in these press briefings.  First, Iran has no plans to develop nuclear weapons.  They do have plans to develop nuclear power plants.

US intelligence still maintains Iran is not working on nuclear weapons. UN nuclear inspectors confirm this view, though they have been pressured by the US, which pays a quarter of UN salaries, to suggest Iran might be working on something nefarious – though all Iran’s nuclear sites are under strict UN inspection and satellite surveillance….

Even Israel’s hawkish defense minister recently opined that Iran is still some years away from having the ability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile…http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/11-5

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said of the Iranians, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Nuland’s second lie is that the UN nuclear arms inspectors have not been allowed into Iran. (“…the Iranian regime, that it is making the choice not to come clean on its nuclear program, not to allow the IAEA in to see what it needs to see.”)  The IAEA has been allowed into Iran as often as they have asked, to do their inspections; these inspections of Iranian facilities occur more frequently than in any other nation.  Matter of fact, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors just visited Iran.  The result – no bomb-making going on.

Our State Dept. keeps stressing that Iran is “isolated”, an idea the American press seems to like well enough to repeat ad nauseam, although it is not factually correct.  Just a few days ago, Pakistan gave up on the taking-forever TAPI pipeline – long the dream of Washington, and the reason we are in Afghanistan – and agreed to streamline the Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline.  [http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/01/10/135449/pakistan-speeds-pursuit-of-iranian.html ]

Russia and China refused to participate in the sanctions against Iran.  In fact, China and Iran have been doing business together for about, oh, 2000 years.  (Anyone remember the phrase “The Silk Road”?)  They know very well how to negotiate with one another.  Furthermore, Iran is an observer nation in the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation (the SCO), which I have mentioned several times.  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.  China and Russia were two of the founding members of the group; India and Pakistan also have observer status along with Iran.  Iran currently has joint projects going with Venezuela and Ecuador, and Brazil and Turkey tried to broker a uranium swap deal with Iran so that Iran would not need to enrich its own uranium for power plants, but that deal was sabotaged by the US.  Iran is not isolated in the least.  And these countries propose, or are already, using currencies other than the dollar with which to trade for oil.

I can only marvel at Nuland’s suggestion that the problem here is that the Iranian government is making bad choices and wasting its taxpayer money on really bad stuff.  I do believe I have seen a number of polls showing that Americans, by and large, really hate the way our government wastes money on wars and weapons rather than using our money for the good of the people.  And we hate the bank bailouts, too; although no-one in Congress so far has called our banks “money-laundering schemes”, at least not in public.  In any case, we say we hate these things when given the chance to in anonymous polls; however, note must be taken that we fail to do anything at all about it.  Maybe we are more on board with the whole stealing America thing going on than these polls might suggest.  Maybe we need to sanction ourselves.

The Washington Post of 10 Jan. had a headline reading: “Goal of Iran sanctions is regime collapse, U.S. official says.”  Someone decided that just didn’t sound good, so it was changed, along with a few of the sentences in the article.  How many countries can we go to war with to force regime change, after all, without looking like complete bullies and international scofflaws?  The headline was altered to read, “Public ire one goal of Iran sanctions, U.S. official says.”  Which doesn’t sound very diplomatic either, in my opinion, although no-one asked me.  A portion of the original article is as follows:

The goal of U.S. and other sanctions against Iran is regime collapse, a senior U.S.intelligence official said, offering the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration is at least as intent on unseating Iran’s government as it is on engaging with it.

The official, speaking this week on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the administration hopes that sanctions “create enough hate and discontent at the street level” that Iranians will turn against their government.

The comments came as the administration readies punitive new sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and the European Union moves toward strict curbs on Iranian oil imports. The increased pressure is intended to force Iranian officials to heed Western demands that they abandon alleged nuclear weapons plans.

But the intelligence official’s remarks pointed to a more profound goal, even as the administration has reiterated its willingness to open a dialogue with Iran. Although designed to pressure a government to change its policies, it is a recognized but generally unspoken reality that economic sanctions usually have far more effect on general populations than on elites….

You can read the new and “improved” article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/goal-of-iran-sanctions-is-regime-collapse-us-official-says/2012/01/10/gIQA0KJsoP_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Juan Cole has expressed some thoughts about the sanctions on Iran – and sanctions in general.

…I think blockading a civilian population for the purpose of instituting regime change in a state toward which no authorization of force has been issued by the UN Security Council may well be a war crime. Even advocating a war crime can under some circumstances be punishable, as happened at the Nuremberg trials.

Unlike Israel (Egypt 1956, 1967; Lebanon 1982, 2006) or the US (Iraq 2003), Iran has not unilaterally attacked a nation that had not attacked it, and Iran has not occupied other states’ territory. Both Israel and the US have stockpiles of nuclear warheads. Iran doesn’t have a single one and doesn’t even have a nuclear weapons program. Since Iran has not attacked anyone (and hasn’t done so for over a century), and since the UNSC has not authorized the use of force against Tehran, it would be illegal under the UN Charter for the US or Israel to attack Iran.

Moreover, the toxic and radioactive materials released on civilians in Isfahan as a result of an attack on the Natanz facilities would pose a significant hazard to civilian life in that city– another war crime…

http://www.juancole.com/2012/01/iran-hype-undermined-by-obama-administration-admissions.html

I doubt the Pentagon or State Dept. care much what Professor Cole thinks; his thinking on the subject of Iran differs vastly for some reason from his thinking on Libya (he supported the NATO bombardment of Libya, and was widely quoted then).  The US and NATO just finished bombing Libya to hell and gone, including bombing civilian infrastructures and the water supply, and authorized the assassination of Libya’s leader.  The razing of the entire country of Libya and the resulting deaths of tens of thousands of its citizens was illegal by international standards from start to finish, and little effort was made to hide the fact that it was carried out specifically for the purpose of regime change.

I am going to side-track here and mention an article which I read on warisacrime.org.  According to the article, Obama invoked the NDAA and the Nat’l Emergency Powers Act when signing the statement regarding sanctions on Iran.  This means he can authorize war with Iran without seeking approval from Congress.

On February 5, 2012, President Obama invoked the NDAA, which authorizes the use of military force, and issues an executive order declaring the “threat” of Iran a National Emergency. The video below shows this issuance of President Obama executive order which declares Iran’s threat to cut off oil supplies a national emergency.

The executive order directs all government agencies to respond immediately to the threat. It further invokes the authority of the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which gives the President the power to launch military action against any nation without the approval of Congress. Ironically, the State of Emergency order also accuses the Iranian central bank of deceptive banking practices.

http://warisacrime.org/content/obama-signed-executive-order-declaring-his-personal-power-make-war-iran

The official executive order can be read here:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/06/executive-order-blocking-property-government-iran-and-iranian-financial-

Returning to the issue of the sanctions and the effect on the general population of Iran, I will close with a bit of an article from a few days ago.  Eventually, the Iranian economy will rebound, as the government there works out new trade agreements with other members of the international community, especially if they go totally off the dollar as a trading mechanism.  In the end, it may be the US and Europe who are hurt economically by the global toll of these sanctions.  Immediately, however, the sanctions are causing terrible inflation in Iran and the effect is mostly felt by the civilian population.  It is very likely that the plan to encourage the Persians to arise against their own government will backfire, since the Iranian people are less likely to blame their own government than they are to blame the US and Europe.  They know who is sanctioning them and the pain of the sanctions may well cause an up-swelling of nationalism in the people.  In the US, we say, “our country – love it or leave it”.  Do we suppose the Iranians will not likewise band together to face the economic enemy of their country?  Do we suppose that they do not see the sanctions as a form of asymmetrical warfare?

(Reuters) – Each day that he struggles to buy food for his family, vegetable seller Hasan Sharafi shoulders part of the burden of Iran’s defiance of the West over its nuclear programme. He can hardly bear it.

“Prices are going up every day, life is expensive. I buy chicken or meat once per month. I used to buy it twice per week,” the father of four said in Iran’s central city of Isfahan.  “Sometimes I want to kill myself. I feel desperate. I do not earn enough to feed my children.”

With just a month to go before a parliamentary election, Iran has been hit hard in recent months by new U.S. and European economic sanctions over its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West says is aimed at making a bomb.

In conversations in towns and cities across Iran, people complained of rapidly deteriorating economic conditions, likely to be the main issue in an election that exposes divisions between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and hardline opponents…

“My father lost his job because the factory he used to work for 30 years was closed last month. I am so pessimistic. Why is this happening to us?” lamented mathematics student Behnaz in the northern city of Rasht.

“I don’t know whether the prices are rising because of sanctions. The only thing that I know is that our lives are ruined. I have no hope for the future.”

Iran’s leaders deny that sanctions are having an economic impact, but are also calling for solidarity in the face of them. In a defiant speech on Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranians sanctions would make them stronger.

“Such sanctions will benefit us. They will make us more self reliant,” he said in a televised address marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution. “Sanctions will not have any impact on our determination to continue our nuclear course.”

Such rhetoric resonates with some Iranians, who say they are willing to endure pain to defend a nuclear programme that has become a symbol of national pride.

“America uses the nuclear issue as an excuse to replace our regime with a puppet regime to control our energy resources. But we will not let them. Nuclear technology is our right and I fully support our leaders’ view. Death to America,” said student Mohammad Reza Khorrami in the northern town of Chalous….

“What is the nuclear dispute? Don’t waste my time asking irrelevant questions,” said 62-year-old peddler Reza Zohrabi in a marketplace overflowing with imported Chinese goods in the city of Kashan. “I’m not interested in talking about politics and the nuclear issue. I have to find ways to put bread on my family’s table.”

Iranian authorities say 15 percent of the country’s workforce is unemployed. Many formal jobs pay a pittance, meaning the true figure of people without adequate work to support themselves is probably far higher….

Since the sanctions have only begun to bite, far greater pain is looming. Oil is 60 percent of Iran’s economy. Much of its food and animal feed are imported, and many of its factories assemble goods from imported parts.

Already, ships bringing grain have been turning back from Iranian ports because Tehran cannot pay suppliers: an agricultural consultancy said maize imports from Ukraine – a major source of animal feed – fell 40 percent last month…

For those who link the hardship to international sanctions, the most vivid example is neighboring Iraq, where an embargo imposed between 1991 and the U.S. invasion in 2003 reduced a wealthy oil exporting country to dire poverty.

“I don’t want Iran to become like Iraq before America’s invasion. With the sanctions, soon we will have problems finding essential goods and even medicine,” said 31-year-old teacher Rokhsareh Sharafoleslam in Chalous….

Prices for bread, dairy, rice, vegetables and cooking fuel have soared. A traditional Iranian loaf of “sangak” bread costs 30 percent more than a few months ago….

“Prices are increasing by the hour. My husband and I cannot afford starting a family as life is so expensive,” said Mahla Aref, a government employee.

Small businesses say they are struggling to operate as the falling currency raises the cost of goods…

http://news.yahoo.com/iranians-bemoan-sanctions-hardship-vote-approaches-130207046.html

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Iran, MIC, SCO, State Dept/diplomacy