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Monthly Archives: June 2013

An on-line interview with Peter Van Buren.

Peter Van Buren is the author of “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”, a sarcastic, funny, sad, angry book about his work for the Department of State as the leader of two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in rural Iraq, 2009-2010. His blog at www.wemeantwell.com continues the story, with daily humor and commentary about Iraq, the Middle East and national security.

Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq leading two State Department Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Following his book, published in 2011, the Department of State began termination proceedings against him, reassigning him to a make-work position and stripping him of his security clearance and diplomatic credentials. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.

Van Buren, along with other Federal whistleblowers like Tom Drake and Jesslyn Radack, is also working closely with Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker James Spione on a new film called SILENCED, due out in 2013.

He graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me in the form of an on-line interview.  My profound thanks to Mr. Van Buren.

Teri:  Your book is titled “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”.  I’ve often wondered who exactly did you mean by the “we”?  Are you referring to we, the people of the US; or we, the Bush administration and the State Dept. under Bush as they (illegally) invaded Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein; or we, meaning specifically the State Dept. employees who came in later to try and clean up the mess?

Van Buren:  The title is purposefully ambiguous. There is the obvious sarcastic meaning, because we did much harm and little good. But another intended meaning is that most of us involved in reconstruction at the ground level had decent intentions. None of the people I worked with intended to do harm, we just were ignorant, selfish, poorly-led and oafs who ended up harming people the way, say, a well-meaning amateur surgeon might. We went out of our way to make a poor impression: Sometimes when we rolled through the center of town, we made quite an impression because our vehicles were tall enough that they tore down all the electrical and phone lines that were strung across the roads. Sometimes we made quite an impression when we roared through fields and left ruts where there had been rice or wheat planted. And oftentimes we made quite an impression by attracting a lot of attention to people just by our presence.

Teri:  Iraq will never be the same since we invaded.  You were there in ’09 – six full years after the “Shock and Awe” started.  Can you briefly describe the conditions under which you saw the average Iraqi living?

Van Buren:  Most Iraqis lacked access to clean water, sewers, schools and health care. Most lived in fear of bombings and murder, at the ends of the U.S. and at the hands of militias, terrorists and their own government. It was a miserable way to live, and was almost entirely brought on by our invasion. We destroyed the civil society of Iraq and replaced it with chaos. One of the key problems of the whole venture was the inability to reconstruct something while it was essentially still falling apart.

Teri:  What were the ramifications of the book on your job?

Van Buren:  My employer of 24 years, the US State Department, first stripped me of my security clearance (the key to almost any decent job in the Washington area), then tried to prosecute me. Failed that, they tried to fire me. Failing that, we negotiated my voluntold early retirement.

Teri: In light of new reports on the wasted money we spent on Iraq’s reconstruction [see, for example: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/03/iraq-waste/ ], I suspect you got an apology from the State Dept.  Did you?

Van Buren:  You’re a funny person. Let’s say my apology may have been lost in the mail.

Teri:  You’ve worked for the State Dept. under a number of Secretaries.  Who was the most effective of these, in your opinion?

Van Buren:  Ironically, the first half of the Colin Powell tenure. Powell, likely because of his military background where caring for the troops is an essential requirement for any leader, was the only Secretary to make positive changes to the life and work of the rank and file. Powell, for example, overruled Diplomatic Security’s ban on the internet inside of the State Department. Security claimed it was dangerous to info security while Powell said the reality of our modern world demanded access. Without him State employees would still be getting their news a day late in paper form. The irony, of course, is that it was Powell who plunged State into Iraq and thus helped to destroy the rank and file by wasting their time, energy and lives inside that failed war.

Teri:  Several highly-placed people called the imposition of  a “no-fly zone” on Libya and the subsequent bombing – which went well beyond imposing a no-fly zone, and in fact decimated entire portions of that country – illegal, both by our Constitutional standards and by international standards.  We were open about the US’ desire for regime change, which is a blatant illegality under international accords.  What were your thoughts about Libya when this decision was made?

Van Buren:  I am sickened by the casual ease with which America invades and destroys countries. There seems to be one set of rules/standards for what America wants and does, and another for the rest of the world. Would we be so casual if China decided to invade and occupy, say, Burma in the interests of freeing them from an evil dictator?

Teri:  There is a short video of then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton laughing when she got the news that Ghaddafi had been tortured and assassinated. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DXDU48RHLU  ]  I found this extremely repugnant, especially coming from our “lead diplomat”; in fact, I thought she looked rather demented here.  Your thoughts?  And, by the way, is this sort of jokiness typical of the relationship between the press and the State Dept.?

Van Buren:  I thought that and her yucking it up with James Baker on the “Charlie Rose Show” over the idea of the U.S. setting fire to the Middle East by engaging in war in Iran were atrocious.  Talking about the death of Qaddafi, she says, “We came, we saw, he died” and then laughs about that with some robo-journalist.  Chortling over anyone’s death is a disgrace.  What’s next, displaying the skulls of our enemies in the Foggy Bottom lobby? Oh my god, America, what have we become?

Many senior officials pretend familiarity with the press to influence positive coverage. The press often behaves then like the high school nerd thrilled to hear a kind word from the cool jocks.

Teri:  Are we going to invade Syria next?  It seems an odd proposition, given that Hillary Clinton and Gen. Petraeus have both pointed out that in so doing, we would be fighting on the same side as al Qaeda and several other terrorist groups.  (They both find it “ironic”, but not necessarily “wrong”, even though a civilian supporting these groups can be held indefinitely under the NDAA.)

Van Buren:  We likely already have “invaded” in the form of special forces and/or CIA paramilitary trainers and advisers. We will likely conduct air strikes and a no-fly zone. We already are or soon will be shipping in arms. However, the mule-like American public and their Congressional reps only seem to care if we go (overt) “boots on the ground.” They see everything else warlike as harmless foreplay.

Teri:  In 1998, the US government, under the aegis of the State Dept., set up a program called the Rewards for Justice Fund.  Some background: In the beginning, this was a mixture of funds from private people and funds supplied by the government, used to offer cash rewards (bounties) for the capture/killing of wanted terrorists.  The private money donated was considered a fully deductible charitable donation. (Hey, it’s tax deductible!  Donate now to add names to your own preferred kill list!)  As of 2008, the fund became known as the Rewards for Justice Program [http://www.rewardsforjustice.net/index.cfm?page=faq&language=english ] and no longer accepts private donations; the rewards are all backed by government money.  It is still handled by the State Dept.  It has paid out over $100 mm since 1998.  Bounty is traditionally known as a reward for capturing an escapee or a bail-jumper – the majority of the “terrorists” the US offers bounties for actually have no legal charges against them and thus no trials scheduled – no bail to be jumped and no jail escaped from.  I note that summaries of ‘most wanted’ on home page rarely include info that “suspect” has had any charges levied by any court anywhere in the world – almost all are merely “suspected” of something or another.  Under this program, we offered, and paid, $20 million for Ghaddafi’s head (Wanted: Dead or Alive), although the State dept. has never said who collected the reward.  This bounty program seems quite a peculiar endeavor for our department for diplomatic outreach to be running.  In fact, it seems antithetical to diplomacy.  Why was this program set up to be handled by State (rather than, say, the Pentagon)?

Van Buren:  I am not sure why it went to State rather than DOD, CIA or maybe better, DOJ. I suspect little more than bureaucratic infighting and budget tricks. State was always angling for some piece of the war on terror and maybe they got thrown this bone. In the end it was all “US Government” and so it may not be significant which agency ran the show.

Teri:  Overall, there seems to be a huge increase in the militarization of the State Dept.; they now have their own drone program, hire mercenaries, and run computer “psych-ops” on terrorist groups in conjunction with the CIA.   In Feb. of this year, Ralph Nader wrote an essay for commondreams on this very issue. [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/08-7 ] This is an excellent little essay in which Nader mentions you:

“3.  Secretary Clinton had problems heralding accurate whistleblowers. A 24-year-Foreign Service Officer, Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq running two State Department Reconstruction Teams. He exposed State Department waste and mismanagement along with the Pentagon’s “reconstruction” efforts using corporate contractors. Unlistened to, Van Buren, true to his civil service oath of office, went public. Clinton fired him.”

Is this militarization in fact a new aspect, or have we always used State this way behind the scenes?

Van Buren:  Of the many issues that debilitate the effectiveness of the Department of State, none should concern us all more than the ongoing militarization of America’s foreign affairs.  This actually makes the State Dept. more and more irrelevant and obscures the reasoning for having a department of state.  The increasing role of the military in America’s foreign relations sidelines State. The most likely American for a foreigner to encounter in most parts of the world now, for better or worse, carries a weapon and drives a tank.

I wrote an article for the Huffington Post in August of last year in which I go into some details on this subject.  http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2012/09/03/americas-increasingly-irrelevant-concierge-abroad/

Teri:  What do you make of the latest Pentagon announcement that the War on Terror [sic] is going to last at least another decade or two?

Van Buren:  It is in DOD’s financial interest for the WOT to go on forever, and it likely will. Creating a “war” with no victory conditions, such as “capture Berlin”, was a clever move on the government’s part and has served as a handy justification for every war move and every step to denying our basic rights.

Teri:  We have spent tons of money starting wars, paying contractors for weapons to invade other countries, paying mercenaries to fight in them, and then paying other contractors to “reconstruct” the ruined countries – yet within the US, the people are losing jobs, the infrastructure is crumbling, and Congress is passing austerity measures.  Are we really spending our money wisely?

Van Buren:  You really are a funny person. Yes, I think it is wonderful that we are spending all our money, plus that which we borrow from China, on war. It is good to neglect our infrastructure and economy so as to toughen up our population. It’s like Spartans having to camp out without food or warmth to make them hard and strong.

Teri:  You have mentioned on your blog that you are working on a new book.  Can you tell me something about that?

Van Buren:  “The People on the Bus: A Story of the #99Percent” (Alternate Title: On the Bus with the Ghosts of Tom Joad) is about growth, failure and redemption. It is Earl’s story, tracing the rise of the Working Poor, and the non-working rich. It is funny and serious, Holden and Joe Dirt. Along the ride the story tackles bullying and suicide, first kisses and cunnilingus, and the protagonist’s struggle to overcome his father’s war that survived within him. It’s a question about how to still own something—your labor, your self-respect—you’d sold. At the heart of the story is the romance between Earl and Angel, a relationship that threads through Earl’s tribulations and ultimately gives him purpose at the end of his life.

The story takes place during Earl’s final metaphorical bus ride. Most of the folks who get on the bus with Earl have been long missing. Now they are coming and going, even talking to him, “just as if it was no big deal.” As Earl laments, “imagine running into both your mom and your old girlfriends in living color.”

Yet not everyone is familiar. A young Korean boy, silent in the back of the bus, represents a question Earl must learn to ask, and an answer from his father that will change him. As Earl tells us, “It seems everybody you run across in life you drag forward. You can’t help that. They’re all somehow on the bus with you.”

“The People on the Bus: A Story of the #99Percent” is about regime change, the death of manufacturing, the deindustrialization of America, and a way of life that was lost alongside those jobs. Wages never were higher than in 1973 and fell as poverty rose in almost equal proportion. How did we go from the booming prosperity of the 1950s and 60s to the Rust Belt of the late 1970s in the course of only two or three generations?

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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in State Dept/diplomacy

 

Supreme Court rules on DNA collection case.

Updated below.

As a brief follow-up to my earlier article, the Supreme Court has indeed ruled that DNA samples can be taken from anyone arrested for anything.  The Obama administration, although not directly involved in the case, filed a brief to the court taking the position that DNA should be collected and stored from every arrestee.  Note that ‘arrested’ does not mean the same thing as ‘convicted’.

Original article:  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2013/03/the-obama-dept-of-justice-inserts-itself-into-supreme-court-dna-case/

On this latest Supreme Court decision:

US Supreme Court allows police to take DNA samples of arrestees
http://wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/04/dnas-j04.html

Supreme Court Rules That Police Can Take Your DNA Even If You Haven’t Been Convicted of a Crime
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/supreme-court-allows-dna-be-taken-after-arrest

Update, Thursday, 6 June:

See also this Jonathan Turley article on this ruling;

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/04/supreme-court-approves-involuntary-dna-samples-from-suspects-and-opens-the-door-to-a-massive-dna-databank/

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in civil rights

 

Stupid human tricks.

The first generation of humans, according to the Bible, was seriously flawed.  As Nancy Astor (1879-1964) once wagged, “In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance, he laid the blame on a woman.”

The second generation began farming and herding practices, but then one brother, in a fit of pique and jealousy, bashed the other brother over the head and killed him dead.

Thus ended the evolutionary process of the human species, for we have never moved beyond the urge to kill each other, that being our first and last response in any given situation.  This has been constant through the ages.  All the great empires took their military forces and marched out, conquering and slaying, pretty much for the hell of it from what I can see.  Surely a lack of gardening space was not the issue.  Taking but two examples from history, we see the Romans gradually overtook Britain in a series of conquests.  The Romans had ventured out from a country where they had paved the roads, mastered the arts of metallurgy and running water, had bathing spas, formal schools, and a high arts’ council; they looked at the Brits with their rough hide clothing, inferior weapons and lack of basic sanitation and decided that the British had something they just had to have.  In one of the early Roman attempts at invasion, the story is that around AD 40, Caligula planned an attack campaign.  He faced the English Channel and ordered his troops to attack the standing water.  Then he had the troops gather sea shells, referring to them as “plunder from the ocean, due to the Capitol and the Palace”.  Well, okay, Caligula was a nut, but eventually the Romans did successfully conquer Britain.

Then there was Genghis Khan in AD 1200 or so, with his hordes of Mongol warriors, out to take over all of Eurasia.  This involved a wholesale slaughter of the locals in one place after another.  He did this to expand his empire, although a lack of space for his tribe was clearly not a problem.

And so it went, throughout history, until today, with the USA as the primary empire on earth.  We have looked around at the landscape with its serious problems of climate, food shortages in various places, increasing scarcity of fresh water, pollution, etc. and decided that everlasting war is just the ticket.  The Pentagon announced to a Congressional panel the other day that the War on Terror [sic] has no end in sight. [http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-21/pentagon-admits-war-terror-will-never-end or see: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/05/decades-of-war/ ]  Never mind that the Pentagon is supposed to be under civilian control and that they are, according to our Constitution, to take orders from Congress, not the other way around.  Congress has apparently decided to ignore that little bit of writing; I did not hear cries of “treason” or “military coup” coming from Congress over the Pentagon’s message, although one or two members did seem a bit uneasy.  (Only one or two.  The rest seemed to take it all as unremarkable.)

As far as evolution goes, we have invented ways to kill other people and conquer other lands without being physically present ourselves: we now have planes dropping bombs and even unmanned planes dropping bombs.  That’s “progress”.  The motto of the Pentagon seems to be the same one that all empires have used over the millenia, to wit: “There are other humans on the planet.  Let’s go fuck up their shit.”

And like all empires, this one is finally turning on its own tribe.  Congress, abdicating its mandate to work for the people, now allows the security agencies (which they set up) free range to spy on our own citizens.  They have allowed the militarization of local police forces (with inevitable results) and sell weapons to both sides of any given conflict (most started by us, although Congress no longer votes on such things, perhaps thinking that holds them harmless when another country gets razed to the ground).  They – Congress – give the bulk of our tax monies to “war efforts” or directly to the Wall Street banks which crashed our economy in the first place, while many Americans go hungry and lack jobs.  They set loose the corporations, letting them pillage our own country for assets, money, and land.  They are so enamored of the wealthy that when Obama’s latest nominee, Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary, was questioned by the committees, they were tickled by the idea that she had been able to “misplace” $80 mm of income.  [ http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/17667-focus-senators-swoon-over-billionaire-pritzker ]

Monsanto is protected by Congress despite scientific research showing the dangers of GMO crops.  Fracking is allowed, in increasing areas, by both the national and local governments, although there is no longer any question that it causes earthquakes and poisons waterways.  Obama includes fracking as one of his “all of the above” energy solutions.  Ironically, most Americans do not seem to understand that they are letting the land be torn up and the water supplies poisoned for no reason.  We do not have nationalized resources here.  That, I gather, would be socialism and socialism in any form is awful.  So the oil and natural gas companies run amok, take the products, and sell them on the open market.  And, by the way, get to keep the profits for themselves.  Congress actually gives them subsidies to do this and takes no measures to make sure the companies even pay fair taxes on the profits.  It has been revealed that the oil companies have been manipulating oil prices all along.  No doubt Eric Holder and Congress will investigate and give us all refunds for the over-pricing of gasoline that has been going on.  (Or not.  Well. okay, definitely not.)

On fracking in general:

Not only can companies hide fracking chemical information behind trade secret claims, they won’t have to test individual wells’ cement casings—a critical barrier between fracking chemicals and underground aquifers. Our federal public lands provide drinking water for millions of Americans. This weak policy will put these drinking water sources at risk.As Earthjustice’s Jessica Ennis told the Washington Post and New York Times, “The Bureau of Land Management caved to the wealthy and powerful oil and gas industry and left the public to fend for itself.”

This controversial oil and gas development technique–in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force gas from underground deposits–has been linked to air and water pollution and public health problems. In its current form, the proposal fails to stem these problems.

In its latest proposal, the BLM fails to propose adequate well construction and integrity standards. A key test to ensure drinking water sources are properly isolated from the well was dropped. Now a test to ensure proper cementing will be required on only one “type well” and the data from that well used to approve others. Such a procedure invites companies to develop one model well and then to cut corners on the rest. Industry should have to demonstrate the integrity of every well.

The draft requires companies to disclose chemical constituents in fracking fluids, after fracking is complete. Disclosure should occur both before and after fracking, in order to give nearby communities time to establish baseline water quality and then test and monitor water supplies for any fracking-related water pollution. States including Wyoming already requires pre-fracking disclosure, so the BLM proposal should go at least this far.

The proposal also signals the use of FracFocus as the tool for disclosure. In its current form, FracFocus is insufficient. It’s an industry-funded database that fails to allow users to search across forms or aggregate data from multiple wells. To ensure data is complete, adequate and available, the BLM should have its own website for this information reporting, complete with the ability to search and aggregate data.

The president promised in his State of the Union that this country’s gas drilling boom would not come at the expense of public health. As it stands now, the proposed rule fails to meet that promise.  – Earthjustice Alerts action alert

On hydroflouric acid fracking, the latest iteration of assaults on our water and land:

As California lawmakers discuss 10 bills that would regulate fracking, some environmentalists are warning that the debate overshadows a more serious process that involves the use of hydrofluoric acid.

The state regulator is drawing up rules for hydraulic fracturing, lawmakers are consideration various regulatory bills, environmentalists are protesting drilling in the Monterey oil formation, and filmmakers are creating a movie about the debate. Many believe the concerns over fracking are well-founded, but some corporations plan to use a different method to extract oil or gas altogether.

“All this anti-fracking language misses the target and I am very concerned it is a diversion,” Steve Shimek of the environmental group Monterey Coastkeeper told Reuters.

Venoco, a private oil and gas production corporation, has estimated that eight out of 10 of its Monterey wells can be completed without the use of fracking  – a method which injects water, sand and chemicals into faults at high pressure to shatter rock formations and release oil or gas. Using an alternate method, chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid are pumped into the wells to melt rocks and other obstructions to extract oil.  Occidental Petroleum Corp, a California-based oil and gas production company that leads the Monterey development, in 2011 announced that most of its shale was extracted using acid jobs – not fracking. This month, the company said that only one sixth of its wells are currently being fracked. […]

Only one of the 10 legislative fracking bills addresses acid jobs, which has some environmentalists concerned. Companies are not required to report their use of acid, which allows them to pump large quantities of this substance into the ground with no regulation.

“These are super-hazardous, poisonous chemicals and we have no idea what they are doing out there with it – how deep it is going, the volumes – nothing,” Bill Allayaud of the Environmental Working Group told Reuters. “Why shouldn’t our state agency be regulating it as we hope they’ll be regulating hydraulic fracturing?”

Earlier this month, Allayaud told Environment & Energy Publishing that regulation for acid use is desperately needed because it is unknown how much of the substance is being used and where. Damon Nagami, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said techniques that replace fracking – including gravel packing, water flooding, steam flooding and acidization – remain largely excluded from the public debate.[…]

Lawmakers are trying to address environmentalists’ fracking concerns, but acidization continues to remain a little-known process with unknown environmental effects.

http://rt.com/usa/california-fracking-rules-debate-895/

 

Hydrogen fluoride gas is an acute poison that may immediately and permanently damage lungs and the corneas of the eyes. Aqueous hydrofluoric acid is a contact-poison with the potential for deep, initially painless burns and ensuing tissue death. By interfering with body calcium metabolism, the concentrated acid may also cause systemic toxicity and eventual cardiac arrest and fatality, after contact with as little as 160 cm2 (25 square inches) of skin. […]

Hydrofluoric acid is a highly corrosive liquid and is a contact poison. It should be handled with extreme care, beyond that accorded to other mineral acids. Owing to its low dissociation constant, HF as a neutral lipid-soluble molecule penetrates tissue more rapidly than typical mineral acids. Because of the ability of hydrofluoric acid to penetrate tissue, poisoning can occur readily through exposure of skin or eyes, or when inhaled or swallowed. Symptoms of exposure to hydrofluoric acid may not be immediately evident. HF interferes with nerve function, meaning that burns may not initially be painful. Accidental exposures can go unnoticed, delaying treatment and increasing the extent and seriousness of the injury.[8] […]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrofluoric_acid

 

[…] The acid grade of fluorspar is used as raw material to produce hydrofluoric acid. Worldwide production of hydrofluoric acid is estimated at more than three million metric tons. Once the ore is dug from the earth the impurities are removed to leave a fluorspar which contains minimum 97% calcium fluoride. The bi-products are collected and serve a variety of industrial purposes. Acid grade fluorspar is transported to hydrofluoric acid plants by ship, road, rail or barge… where it is reacted with sulphuric acid to form hydrogen fluoride gas.

Hydrofluoric acid is stored for use as a liquefied gas or may be diluted with water to make liquid solutions of hydrofluoric acid. Fluorine is the chemical element with atomic number 9, represented by the symbol F. Fluorine forms a single bond with itself in elemental form, resulting in the diatomic F2 molecule. F2 is a supremely reactive, poisonous, pale, yellowish brown gas. Elemental fluorine is the most chemically reactive and electronegative of all the elements.

The fluoride added to drinking water is hydrofluoric acid and is man-made. In the hydrofluoric acid form; fluoride has no nutrient value at all and it is one of the most caustic of industrial chemicals. […]

http://naturalhealthtechniques.com/basicsofhealthwater_fileswater_fluoride_good_bad_ugly.htm

I offer the following links in no particular order of importance, but have divided them into subject matter.  Pick your poison, as they say.

Half of America at or near poverty:
https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/13eef06c8cc03f42
and:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/real-numbers-half-america-poverty-and-its-creeping-toward-75-0

Let’s kick poor people off food assistance:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/31-0

And look at this amendment to the Farm Bill – passed unanimously – I guess you never pay the full price for your crimes in the US, but must be punished forever.

http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/05/24/vitter-proposes-eliminating-food-stamps-for-those-convicted-of-violent-crimes/
and:
http://wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/12/snap-f12.html
and:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/30/oil-prices-climb-despite-record-stockpiles/

On the manipulation of the oil markets:

http://beta.dawn.com/news/1013845/manipulated-prices-ruling-oil-market

and:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/05/17/oil-price-probe/2215241/

On latest oil prices: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/30/oil-prices-climb-despite-record-stockpiles/

On fracking in general: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/01/bakken-keystone-xl-and-fracking/

Links on the Death Star Monsanto:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/senate-dems-fail-overturn-monsanto-protection-act-article-1.1353287  This article pretends that the fucking Monsanto-protecting Senators are all Republican even though Democrats still, last I checked, hold the majority in the Senate.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/push-overturn-monsanto-protection-act-article-1.1352178     This describes Senator Markey’s proposed amendment to overturn the Monsanto Protection Act.  (Note that Markey’s amendment was in fact overwhelmingly killed by the Democratic Majority Senate on Thursday).

http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/news/2013/04/30/(ips)-us-activists-outraged-over-so-called-monsanto-protection-act.html   Old coverage of the Monsanto Protection Act and suggests Monsanto plans to use the judicial-review-free period covered by the continuing resolution to introduce a number of new (not specified) controversial GMO products into the ecosystem.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/u-s-state-dept-helped-promote-monsanto-products-overseas-article-1.1343801  Points out the (should be rather amazing) fact that the State Department is effectively a marketing and protection racket for Monsanto.

http://truth-out.org/news/item/16565-in-europe-march-against-monsanto-is-latest-rejection-of-the-gmo-giant    An excellent Truthout/Occupy.org/Greenpeace article which discusses the reasons 8 European countries: Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Poland, with Italy soon to follow, and also joined by certain regions and municipalities within numerous other countries not having a full uniform national position on GMO; that have banned Monsanto and GMO, and revealing Monsanto’s push-back and attempted hijacking of the EU from its lobbying center in Brussells, along with Monsanto’s (et.al.) attacks on governments, government officials, scientific organizations, agricultural organizations, farmers and farm communities, as well as many individual scientists and activists, and a bit of revelation on the hugely non-democratic, behind the scenes US support of Monsanto’s actions (which can be properly labeled only as terrorism).

http://grist.org/food/gut-punch-monsanto-could-be-destroying-your-microbiome/    Discusses a bit of the science and how the EPA and DOA, at least, have colluded with Monsanto to actually raise the published “allowable limits” to better reflect the actual content of indisputably deadly toxins found in (Roundup treated) GMO crops.

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2909    A pretty much random USGS report about glyposate (Roundup) now (@2011) being common in rivers, streams, other surface waters, rainfall, and the air throughout GMO agricultural areas (the technical study was done in Mississippi), and wherein the USGS chemist and author cautions “Though glyphosate is the mostly widely used herbicide in the world, we know very little about its long term effects to the environment”.

http://www.naturalnews.com/040210_GM_corn_March_Against_Monsanto_glyphosate.html     More science, including details on the lack of minerals and vitamins and the off-the-charts, 200 times the maximum recommended exposure levels, of formaldehyde found in GMO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xow6VC851C0     Great discussion of the specifics of the law known as the Monsanto Protection Act and the laws it references and incorporates.  With regular updates at the stormcloudsgathering.com website