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Category Archives: environment

Yes, it is about energy supplies.

I am going to post an article (below) from Glen Ford, whom I greatly admire, which was published at both GlobalResearch and his own website, Black Agenda Report.  First, however, I would like to mention a couple of things.  Did anyone else notice that just as in Greece, Libya, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the new (acting) head of the Ukraine government, Yatsenyuk, is a banker?  Why is this, do you suppose?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/world/europe/ukraine-acting-prime-minister-arseniy-yatsenyuk.html?_r=0

Also see my own article from 2011 for a quick recap of Libya, Italy and Greece, which had bankers installed as the heads of their governments in a rapid cascade:

http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/replacements/

Obama issued some more new sanctions this morning on several more Russian individuals and a Russian bank.  It is interesting that he can, without Congress, order the seizure of foreigners’ assets and money, but I guess since he could, in theory at least, demand that they be drone-bombed to death; i.e., summarily executed, the seizure of assets is considered rather mild punishment.

As I pointed out in my last post, there have been sudden developments in our “drill, baby, drill” theme park (a.k.a., the United States) in the past week or two.  Obama and Congress refer to turning our country into a dead zone as “all of the above” policy; unfortunately, aside from a few shaggy protesters, most Americans seem oblivious to the country-wide destruction going on right under their noses.  Or they praise it as “gaining energy independence”.  It comes at a cost: toxic waste, loss and/or poisoning of our fresh water supplies, devastation of the land, and utter ruination of the ecosystem.   We seem to have the mistaken notion that this “energy independence” is a wealth creator for the average person living here; a stupendously ignorant misconception, given that we do not have nationalized resources.  (Nationalized?  Like, y’know, socialism?  We don’t want no stinkin’ socialism.)  The energy companies lease land for a few bucks a year on hundred-year leases and they get to keep the profits on anything they pull out from under the ground.  You get to try and live next door to a fracking operation and hope that your water is safe to drink, or eat seafood which is genetically deformed and full of oil and Corexit, or hope that your house isn’t destroyed by sudden earthquakes.  Your children will wonder what the fuck we were thinking as they look out over barren landscapes and oceans bereft of life.  That’s assuming some deep water drilling site or fracking operation doesn’t hit the Big Kahuna and set off an earthquake that entirely changes the shape of the country.  You aren’t going to profit from this exercise.  The oil companies are.  That’s the system we have here.  And, by the way, your tax money is going to pay subsidies to the oil companies so they can have even more money.  And maybe your son or daughter will get to sign up to fight for the glorious cause of stealing another country’s oil (to give to the US oil companies), something we seem to find patriotic and praise-worthy.  It’s all rather baffling.

Glen Ford (bolding mine):

U.S. Prepares to Gas Russia Into Submission

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“Washington’s strategy is to permanently ratchet up tensions to ‘new cold war’ levels to justify sanctions against Russian energy exports.”

The massive – and desperate – American offensive against world order is entering a new phase, as the U.S. prepares to resume its historical status as global energy superpower. The Obama administration’s brazen implantation of a rabidly anti-Russian, fascist-led regime in Ukraine places U.S. proxies astride pipelines that carry much of Siberia’s gas to Europe and beyond. Seventy-six percent of Russia’s natural gas exports are bound for Europe, the bulk of it to Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. Russia’s weight in the world is largely derived, not from its economically burdensome nuclear arsenal, but as an energy giant. The U.S.-engineered coup in Kiev sets the stage for a protracted assault on Russia’s energy trade, which accounts for more than half of Moscow’s federal expenditures. Without its huge oil and gas exports, Russia deflates like a leaky dirigible.

Even the Americans were not so stupid as to believe that their neo-Nazi friends in Kiev could somehow pry Russia from its naval base in Crimea. Such was never the plan. Rather, Moscow’s response to the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government was predictable, as was that of the Russian-speaking Crimean majority. Washington’s strategy is to permanently ratchet up tensions to “new cold war” levels to justify sanctions against Russian energy exports while exploiting America’s own natural gas “surplus” as an enhanced weapon of global hegemony.

“The U.S.-engineered coup in Kiev sets the stage for a protracted assault on Russia’s energy trade.”

Thanks to shale fracking, the United States recently surpassed Russia as the world’s number one exporter of natural gas, and will next year become the top oil producer [14]. As the New York Times [15] reported on March 5, “The administration’s strategy is to move aggressively to deploy the advantages of its new resources to undercut Russian natural gas sales to Ukraine and Europe.” That’s not the half of it. When Moscow stood up to U.S.-backed jihadists in Syria, the Obama administration understood that the U.S.-Russia button could not be “reset” to Washington’s satisfaction under current conditions. An assertive Russia, increasingly coordinated with China, must be taken out of international contention. Washington will move to crush, or at least seriously disrupt, Russia under its “sanctions as war by other means” machine, by targeting its energy exports, while simultaneously boosting the foreign markets for U.S. natural gas.

The U.S. government tells its people that it spends more on weaponry than the rest of the world’s nations, combined, in order to, among other things, maintain the free flow of energy throughout the planet. But, that didn’t stop Washington from attempting to cripple Venezuela’s [16] oil production in 2003, or from preventing Iran, once the world’s fourth largest exporter, from marketing more than a fraction [17] of her production under the current U.S. sanctions regime. U.S. rulers have never been guardians of free oil flow. Rather, American policy is designed to ensure that U.S.-based corporations and financiers dominate the global energy trade, and that the dollar remains central to energy transactions, regardless of where the oil and gas comes from.

Russia also plays a key role as the energy giant among the BRIC bloc, which is the most likely venue for hatching alternatives to dollar hegemony. Venezuela, which barters oil with some of its Latin American partners and uses the proceeds of its dollar-denominated exports to build structures of resistance to U.S. imperialism, must also be forced back into line, or taken out of the game.

“U.S. rulers have never been guardians of free oil flow.”

Ever since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, U.S. presidents have trumpeted the quest for “energy self-sufficiency” as a national security imperative, requiring subsidies for domestic energy production. Richard Nixon proclaimed: “In the last third of this century, our independence will depend on maintaining and achieving self-sufficiency in energy.” In truth, oil producers enjoyed bounteous subsidies when the U.S. was indisputably the oil production king of the world, from 1925, when U.S. oil fields accounted form more than 70 percent [18] of total global production, to the early 70s. Citizens assumed self-sufficiency meant drilling for domestic development. “Self-sufficiency” – and jobs – is what makes fracking “worth it” in the eyes of many Americans. Now that the aquifers of much of the country have been fouled by shale-frackers intent on cornering gas markets around the globe, the script must be flipped, so that the surplus can be exported. As George Washington University law professor Richard Pierce told Al Jazeera [19], last year, “The US is now 100 percent independent in natural gas and within the next half a dozen years [North America] will be independent in oil. It will become a global supplier, rather than a demander, in a hurry.”

Room must be made for this global supplier in an energy-glutted world. Russia’s gas sales to Europe need to be “undercut,” as the Times puts it. Sanctions can reshape the global markets to the advantage of the new energy superpower – war by other means. Corporate media mask the historical moment with juvenile jibes at Putin, as Washington prepares to subdue the planet with gushing oil and burning water. 

http://blackagendareport.com/content/us-prepares-gas-russia-submission

 

News round-up.

Here are some brief notes on a few news items of the past week or two, most of which were overlooked by the mainstream press.  I’ll really try to keep it all brief (though I am not very good at that and am more known for my enthusiastic verbosity), so if you are one of those people who is wrecking the attention span and memory functions of your brain by overusing “twitter” and such shit, you can skim quickly and not have to digest too much at a time.  I won’t use hashtags, though.  One has to draw the line somewhere.

As of November this year, 164 detainees remain at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp without charge or trial; many of them have been held for more than 11 years. Since 2010, 86 detainees have been approved for release by the Administration’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, yet only 2 have been transfered in the past year.

The U.S. will no longer report to the public any hunger strikes taking place among the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  Disclosure of hunger strikes at the prison are “not in the interest” of the military.  This would be called censoring the news were it to occur in the old USSR or modern North Korea.  Here, we don’t call it anything – we just do it.

MIAMI — The U.S. military will no longer disclose to the media and public whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on a hunger strike, a spokesman said Wednesday, eliminating what had long been an unofficial barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost in Cuba.

Hunger strikes have been employed by men held at Guantanamo since shortly after the prison opened in January 2002, and the United States has long disclosed how many are refusing to eat and whether they meet military guidelines to be force-fed.

Officials have determined that it is no longer in their interest to publicly disclose the information, said Navy Cmdr. John Filostrat, a spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

“JTF-Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public,” Filostrat said in an e-mail. “The release of this information serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops.” […]

Human rights groups, lawyers and the media had long used the number of hunger strikers as a measure of discontent at the prison. A mass protest over conditions this year peaked in July at 106 detainees.

The Miami Herald reported that as of Monday, when the statistics were apparently released for the last time, 15 men were on hunger strike, up from 11 in mid-November.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/guantanamo-detainees-hunger-strikes-will-no-longer-be-disclosed-by-us-military/2013/12/04/f6b1aa96-5d24-11e3-bc56-c6ca94801fac_story.html

The FDA issued rules pertaining to the removal of antibiotics from animal feed; the overuse of antibiotics in feed has increased drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases amongst both animals and humans in what is being called an epidemic by the medical community.  Naturally, being the present-day FDA, run by former Monsanto employees, the new rules are voluntary, non-binding, and allow a three-year timeframe for phasing out the the use of antibiotics on healthy animals.

In response to concerns about the rise in drug-resistant superbugs worldwide, US regulators Wednesday issued voluntary guidelines to help cut back on antibiotics routinely fed to farm animals.

The plan described by the Food and Drug Administration is not mandatory, and applies only to certain pharmaceuticals that are given to healthy livestock in a bid to grow bigger animals and boost food production. […]

The FDA guidelines set out a three-year timeframe for phasing out the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine for growth uses in farm animals. […]

The World Health Organization says inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in farm animals is one the factors underlying the spread of drug-resistant infections in people, including tuberculosis, malaria and gonorrhea. […]

Consumer advocates say 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are destined for use in livestock, so leaving the responsibility in the hands of business is a mistake.

Louise Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, described the FDA’s voluntary guidance as “an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success.”

This guidance “falls woefully short of what is needed to address a public health crisis,” she added in a statement.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said there are “several loopholes” in the FDA plan that could undermine its aim.

“Unfortunately it requires the drug companies who profit from sales of their drugs to initiate the process,” said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. […]

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/11/fda-issues-non-binding-rules-for-removing-antibiotics-from-farms/

We have killed 18 people via drone-bombing in Yemen in just the past week.  In one instance, there were 15 members of a wedding party murdered (what the hell else can you call it?) and a few days before that, three people traveling in a car were assassinated by a drone missile.

(Reuters) – Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said.

Five more people were injured, the officials said. […]

On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people travelling in a car in eastern Yemen.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/12/us-yemen-strike-idUSBRE9BB10O20131212?irpc=932

We adopted the Volker so-called “rule” this week.  However, like Elizabeth Warren’s 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act and John Delaney’s infrastructure bill (see my recent articles on these subjects), the Volker rule has been watered down enough to make it essentially meaningless.  The banks have until 2015 to comply with the “rules”.  The “rules” will be overseen and enforced by the regulatory agencies now peopled largely by former Goldman, Sachs employees.  That there is what we call reform in these United States.

The so-called “Volcker rule,” adopted Tuesday by the main US bank regulatory agencies, is being hailed by the Obama administration as a major reform that will rein in Wall Street speculation and hold bankers accountable. In fact, it is a toothless measure that will do nothing to stop the speculative and fraudulent activities that triggered the financial meltdown of 2008 and have continued unabated since then.

The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman and Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, is among the most contested parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul that was signed into law by President Obama in July of 2010. The rule ostensibly bars commercial banks, which benefit from federally guaranteed retail deposits and other government backstops, from speculating with bank funds, including customers’ deposits, on their own account—a practice known as proprietary trading. […]

The document approved Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), spanning 953 pages, nominally restricts proprietary trading. But it incorporates loopholes and exemptions that will enable the banks to continue to make risky bets on stocks, bonds and other securities for their own profit.

The rule delays the date for compliance by the banks to July 2015, three years after the date laid down in the Dodd-Frank law. This is designed to give the banks and their lawyers ample time to devise ways to evade the rule’s provisions and, if they so decide, mount lawsuits to block all or part of the measure. […]

The measure requires bank CEOs to affirm annually that they have established programs to ensure that their firms are complying with the rule’s provisions. However, in another concession to Wall Street, its does not require that the executives attest that their companies are actually in compliance with the rule. […]

The Wall Street Journal in an editorial Wednesday was more blunt. The newspaper wrote: “Rest assured banks will find loopholes. And rest assured some of the Volcker rule-writers will find private job opportunities to help with that loophole search once they decide to lay down the burdens of government service.” […]

As the Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday, “Consultants wasted no time in starting to work with their banking clients on how to put in place the new rules… Law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP last year hired Donald Lamson, who had been a banking regulator at the OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] to help focus on Volcker-rule matters… ‘We’re already getting inquiries from our clients,’ said Robert Cook, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, who until earlier this year was helping write the new financial rules as a lawyer at the SEC.”

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/13/volc-d13.html

The annual Mayors’ Report has been issued and it is not pretty – in fact, the statistics on poverty and homelessness in our cities are horrible.  This will not stop Congress from stripping federal aid from the poverty-stricken, the working poor, the jobless and the homeless as quickly as possible.  And until the majority of non-military Americans is completely decimated and living on the edges of starvation, I’m pretty sure most of the country has no problem with that – I cannot recall a period in my entire lifetime where so much of the population has had so much animosity and outright hatred toward the less fortunate.  The operative theory here is that giving money to the rich makes them work harder and entices them to “provide jobs”, while giving any amount of aid to the poor makes them stop working altogether.

And the military, via Pentagon funding, will continue to receive the bulk of federal funds so that we can continue in perpetuity the “war on terror”.  (Can I hear a “USA – fuck yeah!”?  I thought so.)

A new report on hunger and homelessness paints a devastating picture of the conditions facing millions of workers and poor people in America. The new US Conference of Mayors’ Task Force annual survey highlights the extent and causes of hunger and homelessness in 25 cities for the year between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013.

The report finds that 83 percent of the cities surveyed reported an increase in requests for emergency food assistance over the past year, and 52 percent saw an increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness. Despite this growing need, mayors in the surveyed cities expect assistance for the hungry and homeless to decrease in the coming year.

This social catastrophe is unfolding as the federal government prepares deeper cuts to the food stamp program, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and Congress allows federal extended jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed to expire after Christmas. […]

All but four of the surveyed cities reported a rise in emergency food assistance requests, and across all cities this need increased by an average of 7 percent. Among those seeking assistance, 58 percent were persons in families, 21 percent were elderly, and 9 percent were homeless. The working poor made up 43 percent of those requesting food assistance.  

The surveyed cities listed unemployment as the leading driver of hunger, followed by low wages, poverty and high housing costs. With unemployment insurance claims jumping to 368,000 in the week that ended December 7, from 300,000 the week before, and the Obama administration and Congress prepared to cut jobless benefits, the need for food assistance is certain to rise even further.

While cities reported a 7 percent average increase in the amount of food distributed during the past year, budgets for emergency food purchases increased by less than 1 percent. As a result, more than one-fifth of those needing emergency food assistance—21 percent—did not receive it. 

In all of the 25 cities surveyed, food pantries were forced to reduce the quantity of food people could receive at each visit, and emergency kitchens had to cut back on the amount of food offered per meal. In two-thirds of the cities, people were turned away due to a lack of resources. […] 

Based on a single-night count in 3,000 US cities and counties, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that more than 610,000 people were homeless across the US on any given night last year. Of these, 65 percent were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing, while 35 percent were living in unsheltered locations such as under bridges, in cars, or in abandoned buildings. Individuals comprise 64 percent of those experiencing homelessness, while families make up 36 percent.

The number of homeless families increased in 64 percent of the cities included in the mayors’ report. Sixty-eight percent of cities cited poverty as the main cause of homelessness among families, followed by lack of affordable housing (60 percent), unemployment (54 percent), eviction (32 percent), family disputes (28 percent), and domestic violence and low-paying jobs (12 percent each). […]

The surveyed cities were also asked to provide information on the characteristics of their adult homeless populations. The cities reported that, on average, 30 percent of homeless adults were severely mentally ill, 19 percent were employed, 17 percent were physically disabled, 16 percent were victims of domestic violence, 13 percent were veterans, and 3 percent were HIV Positive.

Seventeen of the 25 cities surveyed reported that emergency shelters had to turn away families with children experiencing homelessness because there were no beds available, while two-thirds of the cities were forced to turn away homeless unaccompanied individuals. The unmet need for emergency shelter ranged from 25 percent to 50 percent in eight cities. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/13/conf-d13.html

The savvy Obama administration has made its usual move of killing the hostages itself before Congress has a chance to.  Immediately after working out a (bogus) interim agreement with Iran, Obama expanded the list of Iranian people and companies included in current sanctions.

In what some charge is a bid to ‘stave off congressional action,’ White House expands list of Iran-linked people and companies subject to financial blockade.

Iranian officials on Friday slammed a U.S. expansion of a sanctions blacklist of companies and people claimed to be linked to Iran’s alleged nuclear program, with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi declaring it “against the spirit of the Geneva deal.”

“We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals,” Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, told the Iranian Fars news agency on Friday.

The late November interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations required Iran to freeze its nuclear program, despite no evidence of nuclear weapons development, in exchange for a slight—and critics charge grossly insufficient—easing of sanctions in a bid to buy time for more talks.

The deal unleashed a wave of hope in Iran that an easing of US-led sanctions would alleviate severe economic hardship and shortages of medical supplies and equipment that hit Iran’s poor and working classes the hardest.

Yet, immediately following the agreement, the U.S. vowed to escalate enforcement of the sanctions that remained, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are calling for more severe sanctions on Iran—a move that critics charge could jeopardize the deal and increase the risk of a regional war with dangerous and unknown consequences. The congressional move appears to be in step with vigorous efforts by both Israel and Saudi Arabia to prevent a deal with Iran.

Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, told Common Dreams that the U.S. expansion of the black list is likely a bid on the part of the Obama administration to “stave off congressional action.”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/12/13-3

The southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, which despite not yet being officially approved, is beginning to ship oil through.  One might wonder how that is possible, given that it does not have approval yet, but such wonderment is simply the vague musings of a baffled mind.  In this nation of laws, the management is free to overlook said laws.  That’s how it works now. Still confused?  You must hate democracy.

TransCanada has begun pumping oil into the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a company spokesman announced on Tuesday. However, it remains to be seen whether President Obama will actually approve the project.

The corporation began moving oil into the stretch of pipeline that runs from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast early on Saturday. […]

The completed section of the pipeline will soon be filled with three million gallons of oil, the company said. […]

http://rt.com/usa/oil-pumped-southern-keystone-pipeline-031/

On the tentative budget agreement: it’s atrocious and keeps in place most of the sequester (except for the Pentagon part, which gets a raise).  Not surprising, though.  Once those fuckers in Congress got their cuts to the poor and the public good via the sequester, you knew they wouldn’t open their tightly clenched fists.  Yet as George W. Bush once said, “It’s clearly a budget.  It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

US House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget that will leave in place over a trillion dollars in sequester spending cuts over 10 years, while slashing the retirement benefits of federal workers and military retirees and imposing regressive consumption taxes. 

The brutal character of the bipartisan agreement is underscored by the fact that it makes no provision for the extension of federal extended jobless benefits, threatening over a million unemployed people with the loss of their only cash income the week after Christmas. […]

By the White House’s own figures, failure to extend the unemployment benefits will end cash assistance for 1.3 million people immediately after the holidays and impact an additional 3.6 million people in the first half of 2014. […]

Obama added that “this agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as ‘the sequester’ that have harmed students, seniors, and middle class families.”

In fact, the proposed two-year budget restores only a small fraction of the more than $1 trillion in cuts scheduled over the next ten years, and the reduced level of cuts is more than offset by regressive consumption taxes in the form of “user fees,” increased pension costs for federal civilian workers, cuts in retirement benefits for military employees and further reductions in Medicare spending. 

Above all, the deal leaves intact the mechanism of automatic across-the-board cuts in domestic discretionary spending known as sequestration, which took effect last March and has already resulted in $85 billion in cuts, in part through unpaid furloughs affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers. […] 

Under the proposed budget agreed to on Tuesday, $63 billion in government spending is scheduled to be cut back in 2014 and 2015, or about one third of the total in sequester cuts slated for those years, will be restored. The biggest chunk of restored funds will go to the Pentagon. 

This modest rollback in sequester cuts will be more than offset by an additional $85 billion in deficit reduction over the next ten years. One of the largest cuts, amounting to $12 billion over a decade, will be to retirement benefits for federal civilian workers and military employees.

Beginning January 1st, new federal civilian employees will increase their contributions to their pensions by 1.3 percent, slashing spending by $6 billion. This will come on top of a three-year pay freeze for federal workers and the loss of as much as 15 percent of their income as a result of sequester-related unpaid furloughs.

Military retirees between the ages of 40 and 62 will see their cost-of-living adjustments slashed, adding another $6 billion in deficit reduction.

The budget proposal also adds another $22 billion to the existing sequester cuts by extending cuts to Medicare providers through 2022 and 2023.

The budget will raise $12.6 billion by increasing security fees for airline passengers and another $8 billion by charging higher fees for insuring private-sector pensions. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/11/budg-d11.html

 

Further reading:

EU announces token fines on banks caught rigging global rates.  “Token” is accurate, and it is stunning, to say the least, that these cartoonish fines (no criminal prosecutions for this group of economic hitmen) aren’t being broadcast with screaming headlines everywhere.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/07/libo-d07.html

 

An article at vice.com describes how many major liberal news outlets (Mother Jones, Democracy Now) exploits unpaid interns while railing on about how horrible economic inequality is. Here is one nice quote:

“Meanwhile, Democracy Now!, venerable progressive broadcast hosted by journalist Amy Goodman, requires interns at its new, LEED Platinum–certified office in Manhattan to work for free for two months, for a minimum of 20 hours a week, after which ‘a $15 expense allowance is provided on days you work five or more hours.’ ”

http://www.vice.com/read/the-exploited-laborers-of-the-liberal-media

 

Very good essay on the latest re: Fukushima:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/fukushima-radiation-hits-west-coast.html

 

On Obamacare (h/t Kitt):

http://jacobinmag.com/2013/12/socialism-converting-hysterical-misery-into-ordinary-unhappiness/

 

Two videos.

In the US, we have entirely forgotten about the BP oil spill.  (Well, unless you are one of the unlucky down south who is sick and/or dying from Corexit – aka Fuxit – the dispersant that BP sprayed all over the place in an effort to “clean up” the spill.)  The Macondo site is still leaking and there are reports that someone is still spraying dispersants in various places around the Gulf.  Sea life is still washing up dead on beaches and the fish caught for our consumption are deformed and showing signs of genetic mutation.  Despite this, we have resumed eating the seafood and swimming in the Gulf waters.  We do this because the only media coverage in our country about the Gulf of Mexico are commercials, sponsored by BP,  telling us that the “Gulf is open for business”.  We are apparently not only a resilient people, we are fairly dumb; something that BP and the other big corporations count on with great success.

It was up to the Australian version of “60 Minutes” to do a follow-up on the continuing health problems caused by the oil spill here.  Their concern was generated by the fact that oil companies in Australia are allowed to use Corexit in the waters around Australia, including in the Great Barrier Reef.

The video of the 60 Minutes broadcast lasts about 25 minutes.  Their coverage of the Corexit issue is split roughly 50/50 between its use in the US and its use in Australia.

BP oil spill investigation, Sixty Minutes summary:

When petroleum giant BP spilled millions of litres of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago, it was the worst ever offshore oil disaster.

To try and break up that massive slick, vast quantities of chemical dispersant was sprayed on the spill. It seemed to work: the oil disappeared. But people started getting sick and then people started dying.

Now, this environmental disaster has become a health catastrophe. The dispersant, when mixed with the oil, increases in toxicity by 52 times. This sickly, invisible toxin, still lurks in the water and absorbs straight into peoples’ skin.

In this special 60 Minutes investigation, we reveal the same chemical dispersants have been sprayed on the Great Barrier Reef and off the north west coast of Australia.

They’re still approved for use and our authorities are clueless as to how deadly they are.

The broadcast, from August this year:

 

The second video is very short, as it is just a preview of the longer film entitled “Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives”, a film by Jeffrey M. Smith.

Description from their website:

Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives has won the 2012 Movie of the Year by the Solari Report and the Top Transformational Film of 2012 by AwareGuide!

Never-before-seen-evidence points to genetically engineered foods as a major contributor to rising disease rates in the US population, especially among children.  Gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, inflammatory diseases, and infertility are just some of the problems implicated in humans, pets, livestock, and lab animals that eat genetically modified soybeans and corn.  Monsanto’s strong arm tactics, the FDA’s fraudulent policies, and how the USDA ignores a growing health emergency are also laid bare. This sometimes shocking film may change your diet, help you protect your family, and accelerate the consumer tipping point against genetically modified organisms (GMOs). […]

http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

You can buy the full-length film from their website or from Amazon.  I have watched the film, and can tell you that it is not sensationalism.  It is a sober and scientific look at the GMO foods being forced on the American public by companies like Monsanto, Sygenta and Bayer, and by the US Congress, which serve as their lackeys.  If you have fourteen bucks, buy the film, watch it yourself, and then show it to everyone you know.

The three minute trailer:

http://geneticroulettemovie.com/trailer/

 

Exit from Eden.

The books of the Bible are generally divided into two types; books of revelation, which reveal the history of God’s people, and books of prophecy, which predict events that had not yet happened at the time of the writing of those particular books.  Thus, the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) is actually a book of prophecy, not revelation.

I have long thought that the first chapters of the book of Genesis, understood to be a book of revelation (i.e., history), is actually a book of prophecy.  The first humans were given the earth as a Garden of Eden and told to care for it.  But having eaten from the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, God expelled them from the Garden. I see this as an on-going event.  The more we use our knowledge as a tool to destroy the earth and kill our fellow humans, the further we are removed from the Eden-like qualities of the earth. Eventually, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we will have made the earth a place which cannot support human life and we will bring ourselves to an extinction event – or close enough to it that it may not matter if we are technically extinct or not; there may be so few of us left that we are never again the dominant species on earth.

Oh, sorry, you are probably not comfortable with references to the Bible and God, particularly if you are “on the left” of the political spectrum.  It’s a common and hypocritical stance for those on the left to vociferously defend the right of the Muslim to follow his faith, to express earnest admiration for the Buddhist and to loudly proclaim that the atheist has it right, while denigrating and mocking anyone, particularly any American, who professes any sort of Christian belief.  I weary of it, quite frankly, and get annoyed at the childish references to “Dog” or “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” used in place of the word “God” that litters the comment sections of progressive websites.  While I agree that most Christians in America are practicing a faith that doesn’t resemble in the least the teachings of Jesus, and is in fact antithetical to those teachings and in some instances actually dangerous to society as a whole, and while I don’t belong to any church myself, I think to cut off all discussion of faith or religion guarantees that we will not ever reach a meaningful dialogue with those who practice the more inhumane versions of Christianity (without going into details, which I feel no need for in this post, these forms of Christianity are what I refer to as Sharia Christianity, and its adherents are the sort of people who would inflict their strict interpretations of the Bible on the United States collectively).  We certainly aren’t going to convince them to come anywhere near our viewpoint by mocking them before a conversation even begins.  Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

So let’s put this in more scientific terms.

We have a planet which has allowed us to evolve into the species we are today: homo sapiens sapiens, or “wise, wise man”.  (Yeah, we thought we were so smart that we felt compelled to put the ‘wise’ in there twice. Although who we thought we were impressing with this name – gorilla gorilla, perhaps? – is beyond me.)  We did not get very far into our evolution before we started finding ways to bump off rival human tribes and the other species with whom we share the planet.  We have reached the point where we are destroying the very things we need in order to survive on the earth.  We are the only species which has guaranteed its own extinction and which has turned against its own herd in such vicious, unrelenting fashion.

Nature is subtle and nuanced; yet we treat it as though it were all a crude game that we can manipulate and rig.  By all evidence, we will continue to do this until we die out.  We choose to pollute our water, the air we breathe, and the food we eat.  Perhaps you and I do not personally dump toxic waste into the rivers, but we have allowed ourselves to become so stressed by the elites and big companies that run this country that we don’t protest much when they do it.  We are too busy trying to hang onto the poorly paying jobs we have (90% of the new jobs created this year are part-time.  And they are all poorly paid), or trying to figure out how to stay in our homes, or pay for the kids’ educations and the like that we can’t pay too much attention to the myriad other ways we are being beaten down, abused, and poisoned.

We are also dealing with a Triple-Crown of phenomena on these issues. First, we have been stupid enough (and it is stupidity and ignorance and lack of enough curiosity to check into these matters ourselves) to let politicians, the wealthy, and big corporations dupe us into blaming each other for every ill in our society.  A huge number of Americans blame their poor neighbors for the “budget deficit” rather than the big banks and the war/weapons/spying programs spending.  Secondly, we have almost complete media black-out on the issues.  The media is owned by only a handful of companies, which are almost entirely comprised of the biggest arms manufacturers in the world.  The reporters and television personalities toe the line and only report what they are told to; there is no longer an adversarial press in this country.  The third phenomenon is that of the complicity and mendacity of our elected government officials.  With only one or two exceptions, our state and federal representatives have taken the bribes offered by big corporations and the MIC.  They not interested in the well-being of the American populace.  They want to be re-elected until they can finally retire to collect the reward of sitting on a board of directors or as an executive in a big company – a reward offered by the very companies that write the Congressional bills our elected officials vote into law.

You may not want to think that your local politicians don’t care about you, but if you live in Wisconsin, Ohio, or certain other states, surely you can’t be deluded about it any longer.  Even in my state, Maryland, the governor has recently become enamored of some of the very things he ran against in his recent and successful bid for a second term, such as fracking.  And you may not want to believe that our Congress in Washington, DC has completely sold us out, but it is a simple fact.  They are throwing their lot in with the wealthy and the big companies and the rest of us do not matter.  Don’t believe it?  Ask yourself why Congress wrote and voted for, and Obama signed into law, the NDAA, and did so two years running, about which Chris Hedges writes:

The three branches of government may want to retain the ability to use the military to maintain control if widespread civil unrest should occur in the United States. I suspect the corporate state knows that amid the mounting effects of climate change and economic decline the military may be all that is left between the elite and an enraged population. And I suspect the corporate masters do not trust the police to protect them[…]

If Section 1021 stands it will mean that more than 150 years of case law in which the Supreme Court repeatedly held the military has no jurisdiction over civilians will be abolished. It will mean citizens who are charged by the government with “substantially supporting” al-Qaeda, the Taliban or the nebulous category of “associated forces” will be lawfully subject to extraordinary rendition. It will mean citizens seized by the military will languish in military jails indefinitely, or in the language of Section 1021 until “the end of hostilities”—in an age of permanent war, for the rest of their lives. It will mean, in short, obliteration of our last remaining legal protections, especially now that we have lost the right to privacy, and the ascent of a crude, militarized state that serves the leviathan of corporate totalitarianism. It will mean, as Forrest pointed out in her 112-page opinion, that whole categories of Americans—and here you can assume dissidents and activists—will be subject to seizure by the military and indefinite and secret detention[…]

“There’s nothing that’s built into this NDAA [the National Defense Authorization Act] that even gives a detained person the right to get to an attorney,” Afran said. “In fact, the whole notion is that it’s secret. It’s outside of any judicial process. You’re not even subject to a military trial. You can be moved to other jurisdictions under the law. It’s the antithesis of due process.”[…]

http://www.nationofchange.org/last-chance-stop-ndaa-1378214357

Congress allows the wholesale spying on every American through the phone and email systems in the US.  They have never charged the big banks with fraud or any of the crimes of which they are guilty – and now the statute of limitations is up for most of the criminal activities with which they brought down the global economy in ’08.  Congress defunds the EPA, the FDA, and all the regulatory agencies rather than making sure these agencies do their jobs.  Why are they giving subsidies to the oil industries that poison our water and destroy our land instead of pursuing any sort of green technologies?  Why are they giving them subsidies at all?  The big oil companies are making more profit than any other companies in history.  Why are we invading and destroying country after country around the globe – and bankrupting our nation in the process – in an effort to steal their resources rather than just engaging in honest trade with them?  Congress is letting Monsanto, Sygenta and Bayer fuck around with the DNA of the very food we eat, letting Halliburton, Exxon, et al dump toxic chemicals in our water, and ensuring we have no access to the courts for redress when it turns out these companies are killing us.  Congress is still talking about the chained CPI as a way to cut back on the Social Security we paid for and is starving the aid programs for people who are hungry and have been forced from jobs and homes instead of any having any discussion about cutting war-spending or shutting down any of the 850 military bases we run around the globe.  Congress, the Supreme Court, and the current administration – they may not be actively trying to kill you, but they sure don’t give a shit if you die.

The numbers coming out of Congress and printed in the papers regarding job creation and the financial state of the country are complete and utter fabrications.  One might notice that each month’s jobs reports are “corrected” later or that every article contains gross inconsistencies within its paragraphs.  One might notice that the jargon is becoming harder to decipher as the “financial writers” struggle to maintain the illusion that all is well when, in fact, the wizards of Wall Street are playing their games of worldwide grand theft with sheer bravado and a vengeance not seen even during the Great Depression.

The US Treasury is operated in complete accordance with the policies and wishes of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, with absolutely zero measure of counter-balancing dissent, and thus the US Treasury acts solely and entirely on behalf of the private Federal Reserve and its (the Fed’s) Owner/Member Banks over, above, and at the direct expense of any needs or protections for the US citizenry at large; thus the citizens have found themselves lacking any governmental ally whatsoever in the war for survival against the financial oligarchy.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was pleased to announce in May that, though the US has again, for the second time this year, hit its Congressionally mandated “debt ceiling”, the Treasury is able to have that not be a problem because of certain unelaborated, mysterious, some might even say miraculous, reasons, as follows: “The U.S. bumped up against its borrowing limit Sunday, forcing the Treasury Department to employ ‘extraordinary measures’  to make sure the government keeps paying its bills. Congress agreed to suspend the nation’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit the last time they approached it, in January.  In a letter to congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the extraordinary actions should allow the government to meet all its obligations at least through the Sept. 2 Labor Day holiday.”  – Chicago Tribune, The Hill

None of the publications, not even any of those that bothered to comment on the fact of the US hitting its debt ceiling in the first place, even bothered to ask exactly how the Treasury Secretary mysteriously manages, once again, to have that debt (or its ceiling) simply disappear, i.e., what, dear sir, are those extraordinary measures of which ye speak – be they magical incantations of the sort we might rely on for the long haul, or be they mere flimflammery?  They are most happy to wield these mystical powers, inexplicable though they may be, particularly as that old black magic is so obviously and unambiguously good for the global financial cartel of US megabanks, who are now receiving a bare minimum of acknowledged, direct, and on-balance-sheet (US-national-debt-increasing) transfers a total annual sum approximately equal in size to the entire stated Pentagon/DOD budget (each being greater than or equal to $1.2 Trillion per year).  And even that accounts for only the acknowledged and on-balance-sheet transfers, a tiny subset of the full amount of financial assistance and largesse actually being extended exclusively to those same megabanks by their (privately held) Federal Reserve.  Hitting the debt ceiling yet again, were it noticed by anyone, might help create some public interest in questioning why, exactly, we might be giving a handful of megabanks at least as much money as we give the Pentagon, which itself is utterly ridiculous, and/or might bring some in the financial sector or the public sphere to actually question the long-term sustainability of the economy and the US itself under such management.  And the Treasury Secretary can’t have that happening, obviously, so it remains in the articles as the never explained ‘extraordinary measures’.

The pain the banks are inflicting across the world are also affecting us here at home – these are equal opportunity takings, after all, and we Yanks are not immune: there are now over 100 million people in the US living under the poverty level while the Fed continues to print an astonishing amount of cash each month which it simply gives to a handful of banks.

Changing subjects, let’s now look for a moment at the poisons our Congress has decided are acceptable for us to ingest.  This would be the same Congress that purportedly looks out for our welfare and puts the interests of the public as its top priority.

The gas and oil extraction practice called ‘fracking’ is known to poison waterways and underground aquifers, cause earthquakes, and ruin the land leased to the fracking companies.

The Wilderness Society Feb. 2011 report [http://beyondoil.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/drilling-in-america-february-2011.pdf ] states that by the end of 2009 there were already 2.6mm oil and natural gas wells, of which 1mm were active, and 2,000 active drilling rigs, plus 4,000 Gulf of Mexico platforms adding over 40,000 new oil and gas wells each year.  The US has more drilling rigs and wells than any other country on earth, and is the top natural gas producer in the world and the number three oil producer, despite having less than 2% of world’s oil supply and less than 4% of world natural gas.  The US accounts for 23% of world oil usage and 21% of world natural gas usage; so no amount of drilling will ever close that gap.  Ecowatch, Feb., 2013 [ http://ecowatch.com/2013/land-leased-oil-and-gas-industry/] reports that at the end of 2011, the top 70 oil/gas companies held extraction leases on 141mm acres in the US, more land than California and Florida combined.  90% of all US oil and gas production is via fracking. Environmental and other restrictions and regulations governing fracking on the Bureau of Land Management Federal leased land (federal public lands account for 1/3 of above total) have simultaneously been loosened.  NRDC, from a 2011 report, states that as of 2009, the US already housed 2/3 of all the oil and gas wells ever drilled in the entire world. [http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dlovaas/drilling_us_has_been_there_don.html]

Post-production out-of-service wells are almost as problematical from an environmental toxins standpoint as the ones in active production and are often used as a permanent underground storehouse of the toxic wastes from the production phase.  Yet the BLM allows them to then be simply and completely abandoned with no more liability to the extraction company, end of story.  And federal oil and natgas regulations on drilling, chemicals, disclosures, study periods, environmental impact, etc., have continued to be weakened each year to today.

Then there is the problem of methane leakage from the natural gas fracking operations:

 

Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have reconfirmed earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings are replicated elsewhere, they would utterly vitiate the climate benefit of natural gas, even when used to switch off coal.Indeed, if the previous findings — of 4% methane leakage over a Colorado gas field — were a bombshell, then the new measurements reported by the journal Nature are thermonuclear:
… the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.

How much methane leaks during the entire lifecycle of unconventional gas has emerged as a key question in the fracking debate. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4).  And methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than (CO2), which is released when any hydrocarbon, like natural gas, is burned — 25 times more potent over a century and 72 to 100 times more potent over a 20-year period.[…]

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/02/1388021/bridge-to-nowhere-noaa-confirms-high-methane-leakage-rate-up-to-9-from-gas-fields-gutting-climate-benefit/?mobile=nc

As a further threat, we have the GMO (genetically modified organisms) industry giants such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, and Bayer playing God with the DNA of the foods we eat, and by extension, with our DNA.  We have little understanding of how this interference will affect us in the long run, despite industry claims that no harm will come from eating GMO crops (a claim disputed by the scientific communities here and abroad, at least by the scientists not paid by Monsanto to obfuscate the facts).  Our bodies have evolved to handle certain foods, and this evolutionary process takes millenia.  I suppose we could eventually adapt to eating, say, arsenic without being poisoned to death by it, but we could not force this adaptation in one generation.  What Monsanto is doing is forcing us to handle altered DNA into our bodies as “nourishment”.  The DNA of these crops is altered, for the most part, to allow the plants to accept Round-up (a powerful weed-killer descended from Agent Orange) without the death of the plant itself.  Thus, the fields are drenched in Round-up to kill the weeds and pesticides to kill the bugs (unfortunately killing the bees and other pollinators along the way – too bad, sorry about that), while the corn, soy, beets, or whatever the crop is, will grow, produce fruit and be taken to the market.  You are not only getting a product that has altered DNA, you are getting a product that has been inundated with weed-killer and pesticides.

The GMO product itself is engineered to be resistant to these poisons so you can spray the shit out of your field (after fertilizing it with super toxic ammonium hydrate and phosphorous, of course) and not worry about weeds or bugs.  They’re all dead.  And the land takes decades to recover, so it’s now dead.  And the crops they produce uptake the poisons (and has poisons coded into its altered DNA) so we sure as hell shouldn’t be eating the shit or continuing to allow these soulless corporate gollems to directly poison us and our land, sea, and air.  The media largely covers the topic of GMO’s to paint any protests against them as some sort of hysterical reaction from nuts and conspiracy theorists.

Congress is heavily lobbied by the companies and has written (and passed for the second time) what is called the Monsanto Protection Act.

Congress extends Monsanto Protection Act

…Called “The Monsanto Protection Act” by opponents, the budget rider shields biotech behemoths like Monsanto, Cargill and others from the threat of lawsuits and bars federal courts from intervening to force an end to the sale of a GMO (genetically-modified organism) even if the genetically-engineered product causes damaging health effects….

http://rt.com/usa/monsanto-protection-extended-house-741/

It was one of my own Md. Senators, Barbara Mikulski, a “progressive” [sic] “Democrat” [sic] who made sure that the original Monsanto Protection Act was inserted into another bill and passed into law.

None of anything I wrote above matters much if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) trade agreement goes into effect.  (I have written about the TPP several times.  See under ‘trade agreements’ on the menu bar to the right.)  Obama can’t wait to approve this monster and is seeking fast-track status for it from Congress.  The TPP will end the sovereignty of any nation that signs it.  We will be under the rule of corporate lawyers, who would be able to override the laws of every signatory country to the benefit of big business and big banks.  At that point, there is no longer a need for Congress or a Constitution.

I wanted to end this post on a positive note, since it’s all been such a downer. However, I find there is nothing more to say – certainly nothing cheerful.  The odds are overwhelmingly against us and the forces aligned against the common man are powerful and ineffably evil.  I can only hope you have someone to share your campfire with as we enter a strange sort of feudalistic new Dark Ages, for unless the entire world is able to somehow unite and fend off those who are engineering our demise for the sake of monetary profit, our fate is fairly well sealed.

 

Further reading:

Obama, Congress advance plans for deeper social spending cuts 
[…]  Meanwhile, Treasury Department figures released Thursday show that the federal deficit, supposedly the reason for austerity measures, has plunged to the lowest level since Obama took office, less than $700 billion in fiscal 2013:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/16/budg-s16.html

The EPA’s controversial new Protective Action Guides (PAGs) allows exposure to very high doses from radiation releases before the government would take action to protect the publichttp://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2013/09/16-3

Congressional approval for new gas and oil drillinghttp://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/07/house_approves_bill_to_greatly.html

Speculation on the food markets leading to hunger around the globehttp://www.nationofchange.org/six-shameful-facts-about-hunger-1372075687

Speculation on the ethanol market – This topic brings a lot of things together, farm subsidies, gmo corn, fossil fuels, predatory bank speculation, cornered commodities, and a fucked-over public.
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/business/wall-st-exploits-ethanol-credits-and-prices-spike.html

Increasing militarization and surveillance state in the US:
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/bill-and-melinda-gates-foundation-kindly-fund-research-student-worn-bracelets

http://rt.com/usa/army-raytheon-jlens-blimps-594/

http://stratrisks.com/geostrat/12516

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/29/immi-j29.html

FBI biometric data program:
http://rt.com/usa/disclose-facial-program-recognition-387/

http://epic.org/foia/fbi/ngi/

https://www.eff.org/press/releases/eff-sues-fbi-access-facial-recognition-records

Environment:
– “Extinction Crisis”: 21,000 of World’s Species at Risk of Disappearing
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/07/02-9-

‘Canary in the Ocean’
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/16-2

– Roughly 80 percent of all the packaged foods sold within the United States contain chemicals outlawed in other parts of the world.   http://rt.com/usa/banned-additives-food-outlawed-089/

– Unlimited Arsenic and Other Poisons Dumped Daily Into US Waters
http://www.nationofchange.org/unlimited-arsenic-and-other-poisons-dumped-daily-us-waters-1374673846

– Effects of frackinghttp://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/25-4

http://www.nationofchange.org/duke-study-links-fracking-water-contamination-epa-drops-study-fracking-water-contamination-137225702

http://www.alternet.org/fracking/fracking-already-straining-us-water-supplies

 

Fukushima:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/06/radiation-levels-skyrocket-at-fukushima.html

http://www.nationofchange.org/radiation-levels-hit-new-high-fukushima-1378647935

http://enenews.com/japan-times-discharges-of-nuclear-material-into-the-pacific-from-fukushima-have-effectively-contaminated-the-sea-melted-reactor-cores-will-burn-again-if-water-not-perpetually-poured-in-t

The fact that the Fukushima reactors have been leaking huge amounts of radioactive water ever since the 2011 earthquake is certainly newsworthy.But the real problem is that the idiots who caused this mess are probably about to cause a much bigger problem.  Specifically, the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/09/the-real-fukushima-danger.html

Gulf of Mexicohttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/06/130621-dead-zone-biggest-gulf-of-mexico-science-environment/

– GMOs:

Genetic Roulette  http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

http://www.nationofchange.org/first-long-term-study-released-pigs-cattle-who-eat-gmo-soy-and-corn-offers-frightening-results-13723

TPP:
http://www.nationofchange.org/tpp-trans-pacific-pact-1-solution-democracy-government-corporate-dictates-1372167065

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/1005-trade/307503-president-ready-to-engage-with-congress-on-fast-track

http://www.nationofchange.org/tpp-another-job-killing-trade-deal-so-why-are-both-parties-supporting-it-1377784863

 

 

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

 

Colony collapse.

Or: Honey bees versus the stupid humans who take care of them.

All of a sudden, the media has noticed that honeybees in the US are dying off.  This may be because the EU has decided to ban neonicotinoids for a two-year period, in the hopes that the bee colonies will magically recover, while the EPA and the USDA in the US need more time to think about the situation.  Like, when the last bee expires, they will do an necropsy on him and commission the National Geographic Channel to present a special.

All the articles I have been reading lately discuss the problem with two details most prominently displayed: one; the articles only talk about commercial bee hives and two; the economic impacts are brought up ad nauseum.  I am here to tell you that there is a problem with wild bees in the US, too.  My neighbor and I are not bothering to plant gardens this year and did not last year, either.  There are no pollinators.  The gardens we worked so hard on two summers ago produced next to nothing.  This was after years of generous successes – the problem was not in our skill level or willingness to work.

I don’t think that there is one simple answer to the bee collapse.  I think about cell towers and wonder if the signals affect the bees’ homing instincts.  And what of our (bad) habit of mono-cropping?  Bees need a variety of nectars each season to stay healthy, but we plant the same crops in the same fields year after year.   Nor do I think that the media or the EPA is much worried about the wild bee populations.  Those little bees only pollinate our home truck gardens and do not affect the GDP – so who cares?  Which brings me to the second item covered in these articles, and the one most important to the guys in charge: the money angle.  There is not one thing in the US that is worthy of attention unless it has an “economic impact”.  Poor people dying for lack of food or more people going hungry due to rising food costs are subjects rarely touched upon – as a matter of fact, I don’t recall any recent article which mentions these points.  On the other hand, these may actually be considered positives.  A few less poor people hanging around looking wan has a salutary effect on the bottom line if you are one of those who thinks that way.  Colony collapse of a different species, is all.

Here is a typical article:

US honey bees have been dying by the tens of millions, with annual death rates of about 30 percent. With fewer bees to pollinate fruits and vegetables each year, ‘beemageddon’ may soon cause the collapse of the agriculture industry.

Honey bees pollinate more than 100 US crops, including apples, zucchinis, avocados and plums, that are worth more than $200 billion a year. Since 2006, about 10 million bee hives at an average value of $200 each have been lost in what scientists call the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), according to a new report by the US Department of Agriculture. There are currently about 2.5 million honey bee colonies in the US, which is a drastic decrease from the 6 million that existed in 1947 and the 3 million that existed in 1990. Last winter alone, the honey bee population declined by 31.1 percent, with some beekeepers reporting losses of 90 to 100 percent.

In the previous two winters, beekeepers lost about 22 percent of their populations. “Currently, the survivorship of honey bee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of US agricultural crops,” the USDA report states. […]

But with a bee shortage that gets worse every year, many of the almond orchards will never be pollinated, which could eventually cause a global almond shortage and economic consequences for the US.

The USDA knows how the agriculture industry will be affected by the large-scale bee die-offs, but does not know why exactly they are dying in such numbers. The report cites “multiple factors… including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure”, while also citing last summer’s drought as a contributing factor. […]

But US officials have stated that they don’t have enough evidence to ban neonicotinoids. And with a drastically decreasing honey bee population, ‘beemageddon’ might be just around the corner.“We are one poor weather event or high winter bee loss away from a pollination disaster,” Jeff Pettis, the USDA’s bee research leader, said in the report.

http://rt.com/usa/bee-pollination-disaster-food-959/

The following is from a petition I received from Credo Action yesterday:

Honey Bees are dying at an alarming rate, and this winter marked the worst losses by far. U.S. beekeepers reported that as many as 50% of their bees disappeared or died.

Last week, the European Union took a major step to protect its bee population – placing a two-year ban on the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which many scientists think are a major factor behind the alarming rate of colony collapse.

But the U.S. is still finding excuses for inaction. The USDA just published a study claiming that neonicotinoids are in fact the least important in a long list of contributing factors to bee die-offs.

With the health of our bee populations – and the estimated $15 billion in agricultural benefits they provide – on the line, it’s time for the EPA to stop ignoring the science, and follow the EU’s lead.

What is still a mystery to U.S. regulators appears to be abundantly obvious to our bees: these pesticides are deadly for honey bee hives.

Incredibly, in many hives that have died-off, the bees themselves appear to have identified the threat of pesticides and taken measures to protect their hives – physically sealing off hive cells full of pollen that contain dramatically higher levels of pesticides than neighboring cells.

While the bees make emergency – and unfortunately, insufficient – efforts to save their hives, it’s the same old story from U.S. regulators, who have been continually handing the reins to the industry since the EPA first approved the pesticide clothianidin against the warnings of its own scientists in 2003, just a few years before bees began dying off in large numbers.

Now, the EPA says that it needs to keep studying neonicotinoid pesticides for two more years. We can’t wait that long.

-credo action

Pesticide use is generous in Australia, but they do not seem to have the bee die-off problem that the US and the EU are experiencing; as a matter of fact, commercial bee-keepers in the US are importing bees from Australia in an effort to keep the crops pollinated one more year at a time.  Why is this?  One answer may be found in an article that is guaranteed to be widely ignored:

Much of the food that fills your dinner plate can only be produced with the help of a highly managed insect species: the western honey bee. Many farmers actually rent commercial colonies to unleash on their fields when the crops are in bloom. Such pollination services rake in $14 billion a year in the United States.

But honey bee populations have plummeted in the last half decade as worker bees have mysteriously flown off and never returned to the hives—a phenomenon now called Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists are stumped. Some blame malnutrition. Others point fingers at pathogens. Perhaps it’s pesticides. New research has identified a particular chemical in pollen that may finally provide an answer.

Western honey bees have a taste for a range of nectars, so they are exposed to many different chemicals in and on the plants they pollinate. In addition, commercial hives are often treated with insecticides to kill parasitic mites. The trouble is that the western honey bee doesn’t have a lot of defenses: only 46 of its genes (about half that of most insects) can metabolize these potentially dangerous chemicals.

Even more important than how many genes the bees have is knowing what kicks these genes into gear. For the first time, researchers have identified the chemicals that regulate these genes, and have determined that many bees raised in commercial colonies don’t get enough of them.

The researchers identified a handful of chemicals that boost these detoxifying genes. The most potent was an acid called p-coumaric acid, which is found in pollen grains. By eating honey, which contains traces of pollen, the bees become less susceptible to the range of pesticides and pathogens they encounter on their pollinating exploits.

Wild bees are normally raised on honey, so there is no shortage of p-coumaric acid in their diets. But commercial colonies raised for agricultural pollination aren’t so lucky. To cut costs, many bee keepers harvest and sell the honey their bees produce and instead feed the growing bee babies high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners. While nutritionally comparable, the researchers say these sugars lack essential chemicals like p-coumaric acid. […]

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/04/30/honey-may-be-bees-best-medicine-for-colony-collapse-disorder/#.UYetVEp5Joh

To cut costs, many bee keepers harvest and sell the honey their bees produce and instead feed the growing bee babies high fructose corn syrup…”

Kind of takes the breath away, doesn’t it?  There is simply no creature on earth like homo sapiens sapiens (genus americanus).

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in big ag/pharma, environment

 

Environmental news.

[..] 17 months before BP’s DeepwaterHorizon blew out and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig suffered an identical blow-out in the Caspian Sea.

Crucially, both the Gulf and Caspian Sea blow-outs had the same identical cause: the failure of the cement “plug”. […]

So, when its Caspian Sea rig blew out in 2008, rather than change its ways, BP simply covered it up. Our investigators discovered that the company hid the information from its own shareholders, from British regulators and from the US Securities Exchange Commission. The Vice-President of BP USA, David Rainey, withheld the information from the US Senate in a testimony he gave six months before the Gulf deaths. (Rainey was later charged with obstruction of justice on a spill-related matter.) […]

Only after I dove into deep water in Baku did I discover, trolling through the so-called “WikiLeaks” documents, secret State Department cables released by Manning. The information was stunning: the US State Department knew about the BP blow-out in the Caspian and joined in the cover-up. Apparently BP refused to tell its own partners, Chevron and Exxon, why the lucrative Caspian oil flow had stopped. Chevron bitched to the office of the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. […]

The US Ambassador in Baku got Chevron the answer: a blow-out of the nitrogen-laced cement cap on a giant Caspian Sea platform. The information was marked “SECRET”. Apparently loose lips about sinking ships would help neither Chevron nor the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, the beneficiary of millions of dollars in payments of oil company baksheesh.

So what about Bradley Manning? […]  Had Manning’s memos come out just a few months earlier, the truth about BP’s deadly drilling methods would have been revealed, and there’s little doubt BP would have had to change its ways. Those eleven men could well have been alive today. […]

http://www.gregpalast.com/bradley-manning-the-deepwater-horizon/#more-7998

 

While the US media tries to drive us to war with North Korea and Iran, they pass over news about the environment.  We sure have enough money to bomb and/or invade other countries and “secure” the Homeland.  Unfortunately, the Homeland is looking more like a wasteland every day, and we don’t have enough money to take care of that.  It’s a strange phenomenon, this dearth of environmental news, given that the environment is (literally) all around us and that too many disruptions and hazards will end up killing us humans.  We are not going to kill the earth, just certain life-forms that dwell on it.  We are one of those life-forms.  The earth makes no distinction and has no preferences for one species over another.  No, I am not going to go off on a rant about climate change.  That’s a futile exercise – people who don’t “believe” cannot be convinced.  The fact that the Pentagon believes – and likes the opportunities it presents – ought to be of some interest to deniers; those guys are some hard-nosed sumbitches with access to all the reports and science available.  We know next to nothing about the geoengineering going on all around us in attempts to alleviate climate change; but the military and some rich companies and individuals are messing around with far-fetched ideas all the time.  (A gratuitous “fuck Bill Gates” here.)  Unfortunately, these half-assed schemes are making things worse and the public has next to no input on the experiments.  The closest we come to hearing “discussions” is when some Congressional committee kicks around the idea of carbon credits, a plan that always ends up pretty much looking like the fossil fuel companies being able to pass some more costs onto customers, which is why the public always hates the idea.

Nah, I’m talking about pollution, toxins, the die-off of other species, all of which will affect homo sapiens negatively.  We think that we can evolve quickly (hey, look at how many varieties of i-shits we have!), but we cannot evolve fast enough to adapt to a world without fresh potable water.  Some of us will survive if we kill off all marine life, but not many of us.  Some of us can survive if the pollinators are allowed to continue dying off – we’ll eat foodstuffs that don’t need bees – but not many of us will continue living at that point.  We ignore the problems unless they are a local issue.  I guarantee you the people in Arkansas are aware of the details of the most recent oil spill, for example.

Congress does not care about any of this, at least not in the same way we, the fracked, do.  They care about what Monsanto and Exxon tell them to care about, which doesn’t happen to go beyond securing more profits for these corporations.  They’ve been bought off.

There are no real science committees in Congress.  They do not want to know facts about GMO food or allow any long-term tests on the effects genetic modification will have.  They want us to eat the shit and shut up so they can collect their payola.  They have convinced a large portion of the population that regulations of any sort are bad, even regulations that keep our food and water safe to ingest.  After Fukushima, Hillary Clinton assured the agricultural attache in Japan that the US would continue importing food from Japan without testing it for radiation and the US nuclear agency loosened regulations on nuclear power plants operating here.  The Macondo site continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico; after the BP explosion, Obama fast-tracked deepwater drilling permits.

At this point, I say that our rulers, i.e., Congress and the administration, should be tried for treason. They no longer serve the good of the American people. They have chosen, deliberately and with malice aforethought, to serve a different clientele, one which is bent on taking all the assets, land, and resources from the US public no matter the cost to that public.

I have collected a set of news items related to the environment.  Very few of them made national news by themselves, but the overall picture they present is grim.  Almost all of these are very recent – within the past month.  I have included a few older ones, as they show a progression from “then” to “now” or an earlier event may have resulted in what is happening now.  And I am aware that Fukushima is in Japan.  There is news about Fukushima included because that affects us here in the States whether or not we want to face it.

The United States on Monday criticized “unnecessary” European Union rules against genetically modified US crop imports as it prepares to enter free-trade talks with the EU.
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/01/u-s-criticizes-unnecessary-eu-rules-on-genetically-modified-crops/

For the price of the Iraq War, the U.S. could have gotten halfway to a renewable power system.
http://grist.org/climate-energy/for-the-price-of-the-iraq-war-the-u-s-could-have-gotten-halfway-to-a-renewable-power-system/

“[…] Fifty-five percent of U.S. river and stream lengths were found to be in poor condition for aquatic life due to fertilizers and other runoff.  The EPA has found harmful levels of phosphorus and nitrogen as well as runoff from urban areas that have continued to degrade our 1.2 million miles of streams and rivers. […]”
http://jonathanturley.org/2013/03/27/report-fifty-five-percent-of-u-s-river-unfit-for-aquatic-life/#more-62243

US loosens safety rules at nuclear sites after Fukushima:
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43455859/ns/us_news-environment/#.UWQskldGQe0

Fukushima: “Yet another radioactive water leak has been detected at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials announced Tuesday, as the nuclear catastrophe continues to unfold more than two years after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the plant.
“The new leak marks the third of seven underground radioactive water pools that are leaking since Saturday, and follows two failures of the plant’s cooling system in a month.[…]”
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/09-5

Fukushima: underground storage tanks for wastewater built like waterlily ponds.
“[…] TEPCO is moving tons of highly radioactive water from the temporary tanks to two similar ones nearby to minimize the leak. They are among seven underground tanks of different sizes which employ the same design.
“TEPCO admitted Sunday it had dismissed earlier signs of water loss as within a margin of error and waited until a spike in radiation levels around the tanks was detected. Critics suspect cash-strapped TEPCO built poorly designed underground pits instead of safer and more manageable steel tanks to save money. TEPCO has also been criticized for delaying replacement of makeshift equipment, raising questions about whether the plant is really under control.
“The underground tanks, several times the size of an Olympic swimming pool and similar to an industrial waste dump, are dug directly into the ground and protected by double-layer polyethylene linings inside an outermost clay-based lining, with a felt padding between each layer. Officials suspect there were ruptures in the linings due to the weight of the water.[…]”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/accident-investigators-say-japan-nuclear-safety-plans-too-lax-for-crowded-quake-prone-nation/2013/04/08/3c2ae7ee-a04d-11e2-bd52-614156372695_story.html

And:  http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/is-fukushima-leaking-or-is-the-the-reactor-wholly-uncontained.html

From an Aug, 2011 article on Clinton’s secret pact with Japan:
http://www.examiner.com/article/radiating-americans-fukushima-rain-clinton-s-secret-food-pact

No-one knows what to do with nuclear waste.  Fukushima cooling water – highly contaminated – simply stored in more and more tanks with plans to eventually “clean” it and dump it back into the ocean:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/04/20134681324337410.html

Thyroid illnesses showing up in US after Fukushima:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/02-1

And:  http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/study-almost-one-third-of-babies-born-after-fukushima-in-alaska-california-hawaii-oregon-and-washington-have-thyroid-problems.html

One dead, three injured in Arkansas nuclear plant accident.
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/31/17540838-one-dead-three-injured-in-arkansas-nuclear-plant-accident#.UVwtFQjQY74.email

Hanford Nuclear Waste Site at Risk of Hydrogen Explosion, Report Warns.
Following report of leaks, nuclear safety board finds dangerous hydrogen build up in waste holding tanks:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/03-1

“[…] But there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.
Tonight’s guests have heard about residential drinking wells tainted by fracking fluids in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Colorado. They’ve read about lingering rashes, nosebleeds and respiratory trauma in oil-patch communities, which are mostly rural, undeveloped, and lacking in political influence and economic prospects. The trout nibblers in the winery sympathize with the suffering of those communities. But their main concern tonight is a more insidious matter: the potential for drilling and fracking operations to contaminate our food. The early evidence from heavily fracked regions, especially from ranchers, is not reassuring.  […]” – from Nov, 2012 article
http://www.thenation.com/print/article/171504/fracking-our-food-supply

Fracking and toxins in the aquifers as a result:
http://www.nationofchange.org/poisoning-well-how-feds-let-industry-pollute-nation-s-underground-water-supply-1355676143

” ‘There has always been a scientific link between fracking and earthquakes,’ U.S. Geological Survey spokesperson Clarice Ransom told AlterNet.” – http://www.alternet.org/water/153717

Natural gas (obtained through fracking) insiders admit there may not be all that much gas anyway – well productivity is vastly overestimated:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Yes, fracking causes earthquakes. (Duh.)
“[…] Researchers from Oklahoma and Columbia universities found that over time, depositing used-up drilling fluid into the ground may have snapped geological tension that had built up near rural Prague, Oklahoma, causing a 5.7 quake that destroyed 14 homes and injured two.
The authors also write that the number of large earthquakes in and around the center of the country has skyrocketed in recent years. […]”
http://www.businessinsider.com/fracking-wastewater-oklahoma-earthquake-2013-3

Natural gas extraction causing frequent quakes, property damage in northern Netherlands.
“Farmers living atop Europe’s largest gas field in the isolated northern Netherlands are angry at increasingly frequent earthquakes caused by extraction. Freezing winds and a glimmer of cold light pass through the three-foot by two-inch (one metre by five centimetre) crack in Martha and Jan Bos’s stable in Middelstum, a few miles (kilometres) from the Netherlands’ most northern.[…]”
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/31/natural-gas-extraction-causing-frequent-quakes-property-damage-in-northern-netherlands/

The Obama administration has broken the law, issuing oil leases across California without examining the risks of fracking. A federal judge ruled that the administration has “completely ignored” environmental concerns upon issuing the leases.:
http://rt.com/usa/fracking-judge-california-obama-583/

Judge in Wyoming says fracking chemicals must remain secret from the public.
http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2013/03/25/judge-sides-with-wyoming-in-fracking-chemical-suit

Arkansas oil spill: martial law, how is it that the public didn’t know the oil pipeline ran beneath their neighborhood (for God’s sake, 9/11?  Really?  That’s the excuse?).
http://www.alternet.org/14-things-you-need-know-about-horrifying-arkansas-oil-spill?paging=off

No-fly zone imposed over Arkansas spill (sound familiar?) and oil diverted to wetlands:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/07/activists-claim-arkansas-oil-spill-diverted-into-wetland/

Oil spill in Texas, third in a week:
http://rt.com/usa/shell-pipeline-oil-texas-409/

Minnesota Oil Spill: Canadian Train Derails, Spilling 30,000 Gallons Of Crude In U.S.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/minnesota-oil-spill_n_2967118.html

“Chevron’s third pipeline spill in Utah in as many years on March 25 released hundreds of barrels of oil, polluting a river and leading to the closure of a state park and the evacuation of campers. Dozens of cleanup workers are now mopping up the fuel along the north-eastern edge of the Great Salt Lake in an attempt to avert a wildlife disaster. […]”
http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/57174/Chevron-pipeline-oil-spill-is-third-major-leak-in-Utah-in-three-years.aspx?AreaID=2

Overfished and under-protected: Oceans on the brink of catastrophic collapse.
“The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing. […] At the same time fisheries and vital marine ecosystems like coral are being decimated, the oceans continue to provide vital services, absorbing up to one third of human carbon dioxide emissions while producing 50% of all the oxygen we breathe.
“But absorbing increasing quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) has come at a cost, increasing the acidity of the water. […] ‘I could sum it up as: we need to fish less and in less destructive measures, waste less, pollute less and protect more,’ says Roberts.
‘This change of course will see us rebuild the abundance, variety and vitality of life in the sea which will give the oceans the resilience they need to weather the difficult times ahead. Without such action, our future is bleak.’ ”
http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/22/world/oceans-overfishing-climate-change/index.html

The garbage patches in the oceans (there is more than one): “So on the way back to our home port in Long Beach, California, we decided to take a shortcut through the gyre, which few seafarers ever cross. Fishermen shun it because its waters lack the nutrients to support an abundant catch. Sailors dodge it because it lacks the wind to propel their sailboats.

“Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic.

“It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments. Months later, after I discussed what I had seen with the oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, perhaps the world’s leading expert on flotsam, he began referring to the area as the ‘eastern garbage patch.'”

Capt. Charles Moore, discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in an article for Natural History magazine in 1993.
http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/?ar_a=1

CBS Los Angeles: “Dead sea lions everywhere” — Rescuer: I’ve never seen anything like this… we never would have imagined the numbers — Expert: No oceanographic explanation for what we’re seeing.
http://enenews.com/cbs-los-angeles-dead-sea-lions-everywhere-rescuer-ive-never-anything-like-never-imagined-numbers-expert-oceanographic-explanation-video

This may have something to do with the above.  As the radiation-filled seaweed works its way up the food chain, larger animals die. From March 2012: Southern California had 2,500 Bq/kg of iodine-131 in seaweed — Over 500% higher than other tests in U.S., Canada
http://enenews.com/california-2500-bqkg-iodine-131-seaweed-500-higher-other-tests-canada

Dead dolphin spike in Louisiana, Mississippi — “We have been advised not to discuss our findings” — Mostly babies washing up…This is from March of this year.
http://enenews.com/tv-spike-in-dolphins-washing-up-in-gulf-of-mexico-mostly-dead-babies-we-have-been-advised-not-to-discuss-our-findings-video

“Manatees Dying in Droves on Both Coasts of Florida” — Deaths of pelicans, turtles, dolphins also increasing — “Scientists fear this is the beginning of a devastating ecosystem collapse.”  This is also from March of this year.
http://enenews.com/manatees-dying-record-numbers-florida-deaths-pelicans-turtles-dolphins-spiking-scientists-fear-beginning-devastating-ecosystem-collapse-videos

UPDATE, Thurs. 11 April

Lead in rice: “Commercially available rice imported into the U.S. contains levels of lead far higher than what’s considered safe, according to a study by the American Chemical Society and reported by Jason Palmer of the BBC. […] The U.S. imports 7 percent of its rice. The team sampled packages from Bhutan, Italy, China, Taiwan, India, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Thailand — accounting for 65 percent of U.S. imports — and calculated lead intake on the basis of daily consumption.
“Rice from China and Taiwan had the highest lead levels.[…]
“Rice products also contain ‘moderate to moderately high levels of arsenic’ (which is also highly toxic), according to a study by Consumer Reports. Palmer notes that Dr. Tongesayi has also worked on quantifying arsenic contamination, and plans on testing the prevalence of other heavy metals.[…]
http://www.businessinsider.com/lead-found-in-us-rice-2013-4

This comes on the heels of last fall’s report that rice grown in the US contains arsenic. The FDA said it would have a report out by Dec. ’12, but nothing has been released from them yet.  (Funny how the reports about lead in imported rice made the mainstream immediately, while the arsenic reports never made it much beyond Consumer Reports. Also note that the article – about lead – above does not mention that the arsenic is in US-grown rice.)  About the arsenic in rice:
http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/10/arsenic-in-us-grown-rice/

Bonus video.  Tina Turner sings “We Don’t Need Another Hero”  from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”.

Lyrics:

Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children, the last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome
Looking for something we can rely on
There’s got to be something better out there
Love and compassion, their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
All the children say, “We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome”

(Fan made music video to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and The Road Warrior movies. All images, video, and sound recordings belong to their respective artists Warner Bros and Music Entities.)