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Category Archives: fossil fuels

Trump wins. Thank the Democrats.

Donald Trump has won the 2016 election and the Republicans retain control of both the House and the Senate.  

There is no-one to blame but the Democratic party politicians, the DNC, and their big donors. They had a candidate (actually more than one) who could have beat Trump in a landslide, yet they decided they had to do everything in their power, including rigging the primaries and colluding with the media, to give the nomination to a person so universally despised and so obviously corrupt that she couldn’t beat the carnival barker.  Irony of ironies; as the Clinton and DNC emails prove, the Clinton people were pushing for the nomination of Trump as an opponent because they thought he would be easier for her to beat than any other Republican. The fatal flaw of this plan was that the Democratic machine had been rigging everything in favor of the one person who couldn’t beat anyone with enough of a margin to overcome the insurmountable and peculiar electoral college system we use.  [Although they claim she beat Bernie Sanders, running as a fellow Democrat, in the primaries, the evidence of the DNC rigging the primaries is, well, irrefutable at this point and her nomination was cinched by Sanders’ own and finally obvious collusion in merely playing the sheepdog to deliver his innocent flock over to her.]  

Not only that, but the DNC spent all their money – against the party regulations, by the way – on the Hillary Victory Fund instead of spreading it out to the down-ticket Democrats; as a result, they still have a minority in both the House and the Senate. Not to mention that the only down-ticket Democrats that they supported verbally, if not financially, were nothing but ‘Blue Dog’ sell-outs instead of progressives or liberals. Despite losing the hold they had in both houses of Congress and losing state houses all across the country during the 2014 mid-terms, they didn’t bother with getting out the vote, or bother to deal with gerry-mandering issues, or pay any attention whatsoever to what people were telling them – that the economy sucks, people need jobs, Obamacare is really really bad, wealth disparity is dividing the country, Obama didn’t keep any of his promises and people were pissed about it, and everyone is sick of the “bipartisan compromises” that keep making things worse on the ground.  47 million Americans don’t have enough food to eat.  Fully one-third of eligible working-age Americans do not have jobs.  Social Security benefits continue to get cut or remain stagnant despite the fact that people can see with their own two eyes that food, housing and every other expense they routinely have to pay each month continues to increase in price.  Health insurance costs are so high that a family plan now costs more than the average person earns in 6 months.  Wages are effectively lower than they were 20 years ago.  Although the “family income” level was purred over repeatedly by Obama and Clinton on the campaign trail and touted as a sign of how things have improved under Obama, the fact is that according to the reports themselves, family income has not even risen above the level it was in 1999 – 17 years ago.  This is obfuscated by politicians and media pundits who don’t reveal the actual charts, try to equate “household income” with “personal income”, and who never point out the obvious; family income includes the combined incomes of all members of a family living in one household, and we now have the highest number of adult children living with their parents than at any time in our history.  Even if all they have is some measly part-time job at McDonald’s, these young adults contribute to that “household income” number.  Which, despite 1/3 of Americans under the age of 30 having to live with Mommy and Daddy, is still lower than than it was 17 fucking years ago.

I’m just amazed that the political grifters weren’t able to pull off the final fake-out and simply make up the election results like they do the unemployment numbers, economic measurements, or poll numbers and just claim Clinton won; on the other hand, it should occur to everyone that perhaps Trump is just as acceptable to the plutocracy as she is.  Maybe it’s that easy to figure out why they didn’t bother to rig the election – either candidate suffices to get the powers-that-be where they want to be; in total control of all the commons and all the wealth, and so they let the general election play out without interference.   Hell, maybe they did rig it, but didn’t go far enough, underestimating the numbers they needed.  Or – here’s a conspiracy theory for you – maybe Clinton’s health really is so bad that they realized, too late, that they couldn’t let her take office.  It strikes me as odd that she conceded before Trump had officially hit the magic 270 number in the electoral count and well before all the popular votes were in, especially given her determined, bullish, self-righteous pursuit of the office for so many long years.  Or perhaps the investigations into the Clinton Foundation are showing indications that criminal charges are forthcoming; the FBI has not ended those investigations, after all.  However, that will be taken care of by Obama preemptively pardoning Clinton before he leaves the White House so that no charges can ever be filed and the Clinton Foundation’s felonious enterprise will never be publicly exposed.  Perhaps the electoral college will not vote the way it is pledged to, in the end, and Clinton has been told to expect this.  She actually has won the popular vote, after all.  The electoral college does not cast its official vote until Dec. 19.  Supposedly, the electors have to vote the way they are pledged, but they may be convinced to test the system this time on behalf of “DNC primary super-delegate winner” Clinton.  Maybe this election has yet other surprises in store.

The country could have gone either way – more liberal or more conservative – in its presidential decision.  As the results of various ballot measures across the country prove, our societal tendency as a whole is clearly toward the liberal side.  The voters approved measures for legalized marijuana and increased minimum wages in state after state, for example.  It’s the politicians who are trending ever further right.  The Democratic party refused to encourage this social trending and instead offered the most right-wing Democrats they could find.  The voters repudiated that; unfortunately, having been abandoned by the Democrats, voting for Republicans was the only way to voice their discontent.  It wasn’t so much a choice for the conservatives as an un-choosing of the status quo.  In fact, the Republican party can only claim somewhere between 25 and 30% of the voting public as its base.  Clinton, Obama, and her other spokesmen were out there on the campaign trail, however, praising Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and Madeleine Albright, for God’s sake.  The Republican big-wigs supported Clinton, as did all the neocons and neoliberals.  She talked about the need for more wars (with Iran, China, and Russia, God help us all) and more Pentagon spending, and the only mention made of liberal ideas were to dismiss them as things that might  be “worked out eventually in a bipartisan fashion”.  It all made anything she said about “supporting progressive promises” and “Democratic ideals” look so phony that, in the end, nobody could believe a damn word of it.  I guarantee you, if the Democrats had run seriously progressive candidates and responded to, heeded the message of, the massive support Sanders got and what it implied, this election would have ended differently. It’s too bad, because Trump’s trickle-down economic ideas won’t do a damned thing for any but the wealthiest Americans and corporate cartels, but the people responded at a gut level. They found him to be authentic in his strange, but ultimately Ayn Randian way, and intuitively knew Clinton was a liar, a warmonger and a Wall Street stooge.  Going with their gut feelings was all they had; the billionaires, corporate elites, whorish media, and political parties have finally managed to so dumb down and confuse the population that all the people had left was unfiltered, inchoate anger and primal survival instinct.  They tossed a Hail Mary pass for the one they felt was at least a political outsider, driven by the devil’s bargain that had been foisted on them by party elites.

I think we are going to lose our Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and food stamps benefits no matter who had won, as both parties have been colluding to that end since Bill Clinton was in office.  Obama formed his “catfood commission” as one of the first things he did during his first term, if you’ll recall.  When Obama took office in 2008, he had a Democratic majority in both houses.  And yet he utterly failed to implement any of the progressive platforms he had run on, instead squandering the opportunity (with no objection from the Democrats in either house, mind you) to end torture, take action against the Bush regime, close Guantanamo Bay, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, punish the Wall Street bankers who crashed the economy, or push for universal health-care.  He brought in Timmeh Geithner and other Goldman Sachs men to run the Treasury and immediately assigned Monsanto people to run the FDA and the USDA, granted permits for even more deep-water drilling, and named a charter-schools promoter to run the Dept. of Education.  Within a few years, he had signed the NDAA giving him the ability to assassinate anyone he chose anywhere on the planet (Trump may love that presidential perq), and expanded our illegal “war zone” to seven countries.  Like the Syriza Party in Greece, Obama and the Democrats took office with false promises and immediately handed the country over to everything the people thought they were voting against.  We were given the discipline of austerity measures, a health “reform” that gave exponentially more profits to the private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, and exposed to the quackery of the Federal Reserve programs.  It is guaranteed that now, at this late date and with the Republicans in charge of both houses and the presidency, there will be no re-regulation of Wall Street, all our tax monies will continue to feed the Pentagon, big corporations will still get governmental subsidies while raking in record profits, there will not be an end to the toxic shit dumped into the water and food, every state will be fracked, and every politician in Washington will continue to ignore the wishes of the people who voted them into office.  Here’s the thing: we weren’t going to get anything good out of this election anyway.  You might not have noticed, but neither party talked about actual policies they might implement.  The media never asked questions along those lines, either.  Climate change was never mentioned in the debates, nor the militarization of the police, nor the legality of the US bombing  multiple countries, none of with whom we are legally at war .  Likewise ignored was civil asset forfeiture, NSA spying, and all the other losses of our civil liberties over the years.  Despite Trump’s promises, the House and Senate won’t spend a dime on infrastructure, jobs, or education, and for sure, climate change or environmental issues are completely dead in the water now (those being not even mentioned by Trump), but at least there isn’t going to be any pretense about who both parties of Congress serve any more. And it isn’t the people of the United States; it’s the plutocracy.  Desperate Trump supporters and the die-hard Clinton supporters may not have figured that out yet, and may never; for we are a supremely fact-free and stupid society now.  

[As an aside, I have to mention that Clinton didn’t even bother to address her faithful in person last night.  She phoned in her concession to Trump, had someone announce to the media that she’d speak publicly in the morning, and just left all those Clinton people deserted in the hall where they’d gathered in the assumption that win or lose, she’d at least grace them with her presence.  She didn’t spare a minute for them, however.  All those sad Clinton supporters, mourning the fact that their very own Caligula had lost the election, were left to catch some rest as best they could in their folding chairs until around noon today, when she gave her official concession speech.  I watched that event live when it occurred.  She had the unmitigated nerve to blather on about how the US “treats everyone equally under the law” and about how “the Constitution” and “rule of law” guides us all and makes us such a great country.  Much to my surprise, a bolt of lightening did not come down from the heavens and strike her dead.]

But whatever happens from here on out, put the blame where it belongs: on the Democrats, who insisted that it was the criminal War-pig’s “turn”, no matter what the voters were saying they wanted.  As it turns out, the fact that she pees sitting down wasn’t a big selling point, and that was the only card they had to play.  What’s the old saying?  Democrats stab you in the back, Republicans stab you in the front.  The Democrats sold us out gradually over the years; from Bill Clinton’s time in office onwards, they turned ever more rightward, leaving behind and deserting the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the unions, and the idea that our society and commons should be the primary recipients of taxpayer monies.  We were at a turning point with this election.  We could have gone more toward the right or toward the left in this choice, as I said.  We had candidates who were clearly more to the left of Clinton, candidates who were kept as hidden as possible by the collaboration of the media and the political parties until it was too late, and the left was deserted.  The Democratic power machine deliberately chose to take the rightward lean, they deliberately chose to ignore what their voter base wanted, and in so doing, deliberately threw away a chance to nudge our society ever closer toward true equality and social uplift.  We will pay the price for a long time and the price will be heavy.  

 

 

Barry does Jamaica.

Obama went to Jamaica this week, but it wasn’t for a vacation; he managed to bullshit them into signing an agreement whereby they would become basically the world’s largest natural gas (NG) storage and distribution facility.  This is being promoted as “helping alleviate Jamaica’s poverty” (skyrocketing since the US banker-caused ’08 meltdown) and “helping to supply their energy needs”.  Since we have been manipulating the oil/NG prices in an [illegal] effort to hurt Russia, our storage facilities in the US are running out of room.  We are fracking the hell out of our own country, as well as giving the green light to an ever increasing number of deep-water and offshore oil drilling operations.  The glut of oil/NG on the market, the lowered demand for fossil fuels, the desire of the oil companies to hold the oil and natural gas until the price goes back up through the magic of “market forces” (as though the reason for the declining prices were a bug-fucked mystery to the industry) have all combined to create such a serious glut of oil and NG that we don’t know what to do with it all.  They were talking about building more sea tankers that would just float around the world’s oceans, loaded to the gills with the stuff.  And maybe spilling some, but since we have already killed the oceans, why worry over that possibility, which the oil industry deems remote, in any case?  No-one will seriously consider the notion of  halting production and thinking about renewable or alternative energy sources, and although most NG fracking operations have been laying off thousands of employees due to the fact that they are losing money at a rapid clip now, the answer the industry demands through its well-established collective wisdom is to keep on doing what they are doing and just find (or create) a new market to dump the products on.   We will soon enough find out how over-burdened they are with loans and how heavily the lenders have invested in NG-related derivatives products, but that will be a financial meltdown story for another day.  No, the cartels have spoken: we shall frack and dig until every aquifer and waterway is contaminated, every state has its share of fracking earthquakes, and all the land, air and oceans are completely toxic.  Hell, we’ll dig until the entire mainland US fucking caves in if we have to. There will not be any viable alternative researched or offered until we’ve gotten every last molecule of this shit on the market.  Because, money.  We went to the trouble and expense of digging it all up and goddamnit, someone will buy it.  The administration, State Department, Pentagon, and Congress all agree, by the way, which is why they run all over the globe promoting the American fossil fuel industries and forcing reluctant countries to go along with the plan.  One way or another.

But this Jamaica thing is a much better idea than floating storage facilities.  Get Jamaica to import, store, refine and distribute the excess – it’ll create jobs, give them a place in the industrialized world, and put the cost on them.  No reason why our oil companies should bear the entire burden of building tankers or new storage facilities here, eh?  And this agreement binds Jamaica to purchase the shit and sell it to other Caribbean and Latin American nations, so it won’t be our problem any more, in any case.  A whole new market of buyers just waiting for us.  We can’t just let them continue to buy oil from – Ewwwww! – that socialist Venezuela, can we?  But wait, there’s more!  As extra tasty goody goodness, the privatization is built in.  The agreement will create “new partnerships” that will “mobilize private sector projects”; i.e., American banks and corporations will have free rein to oversee, invest, invade, and occupy.  This is the kind of prefab privatization the US does best.  See the US corporate takeover of Ukraine vis a vis fracking and GMO agriculture for an example of the latest such corporate coups.  And as with Ukraine, we have Joe Biden at the helm, acting in the interest of the corporate oligarchy, under his Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI).

What else were those silly islanders doing with their beachfront property, anyway?  Productively, I mean.  You can tell they have never considered the wisdom of free market capitalism before; I understand they have never had an oil spill there or fracked the first acre.  Such a waste of primo real estate, those Caribbean nations.

Obama visits Jamaica as part of regional “energy security” initiative

By Thomas Gaist 
10 April 2015

US President Barack Obama landed in Jamaica Wednesday night, accompanied by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. He was greeted on the tarmac by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.

On Thursday, Obama met to discuss regional energy issues with 14 Caribbean governments in an effort to achieve “cooperative solutions to promote energy security,” according to White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

Thursday morning, Jamaican officials announced a new energy pact with the US Department of Energy. The agreement aims to secure Jamaica’s role as a primary importer and distributer of liquid natural gas (LNG) produced by US energy corporations. US firms are seeking to become leading suppliers of LNG throughout the Caribbean.

“It is a good start and it signifies tremendous opportunities and possibilities going forward,” Caribbean Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell said in response to the deal. Paulwell denied that the deal signified a shift away from friendly relations with Venezuela, insisting that Jamaica intends to “work closely with both countries.”

Obama announced that the deal would include a new US-backed investment fund for “clean” energy infrastructure projects in the Caribbean. Obama vowed that the US would pursue a package of “new partnerships” as part of a drive to “mobilize private sector projects in clean energy for the Caribbean and Central America.”

The fund will be managed by US Vice President Joseph Biden’s Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI), launched from the White House in June 2014. CESI aims to “transform the energy systems of Caribbean states,” integrating the region’s gas and petroleum sectors within the framework of a North American trade zone dominated by US energy corporations and banks.

Signatories to an official CESI Joint Statement issued from the White House in January 2015 included Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

Obama’s Jamaica visit is part of a political offensive in the Caribbean aiming to alleviate the contradictions plaguing American capitalism through the seizure of markets and resources throughout Central and Latin America. Growing Chinese competition for economic influence in the Caribbean, including billions of dollars of Chinese investments in sugar production and infrastructure in Jamaica, including a $1.5 billion port facility to be built by the Chinese Harbor Engineering Company, is threatening US imperialism in a region it has long considered its “backyard.”

In his public statements yesterday, Obama promised that the new agreements would enable Caribbean countries to purchase energy at much lower prices. “Caribbean countries have one of the highest energy cost in the world,” Obama lamented.

US firms are desperate for new energy markets, with oil prices down 50 percent from mid-2014 amid an historic supply glut in the US oil market. The dumping of cheap energy onto Caribbean markets serves to relieve pressure in the US market, and may also serve to temporarily tamp down growing social unrest on the island, fueled by high prices for Jamaican energy consumers and decades of grinding economic crisis.

The US-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned in a recent assessment that economic conditions in Jamaica are threatening the breakdown of “social cohesion” on the island. Jamaica’s economy has shrunk by an average of .3 percent every year during the past two decades, and poverty has skyrocketed since the economic crisis began in 2008, with 25 percent living in poverty according to government statistics from 2014.

The Obama administration announced Thursday that a final decision has already been reached over whether to remove Cuba from the “state sponsors of terror” list. As part of moves to strengthen ties with Havana, Obama is expected to announce that Cuba will be taken off the US black list during the Summit of the Americas in Panama this weekend.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/10/jama-a10.html

 
 

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

 

Today is referendum day in Crimea.

UPDATE below

UPDATE 2 below

Today is the referendum vote for the citizens of Crimea, where they will chose whether or not to join Russia.  Obama has said the US and the international community will not recognize the results of this vote, whatever these results may be.  I suspect that if the Crimeans reject Russia, however, we will hear how the “people” “voted democratically” and the results will be acceptable enough, all right.  The coup in Ukraine, engineered by the US government, the CIA, and various NGOs, all supporting what have turned out to be neo-Nazi groups, and which has resulted in an unelected government replacing a democratically elected one, is a sign of “democracy at work”, while the people of an autonomous region holding an actual vote on whether or not to secede from this new government is not democratic.  I also find it interesting that Obama mentions that the vote in Crimea is not in accord with the Ukrainian Constitution.  Does that constitution even exist any more?

Following a White House meeting with interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk designed to underscore US support for the newly installed government and ratchet up pressure on Russia, President Barack Obama issued new threats against Moscow.

Obama declared that Washington and the “international community” would “completely reject” the referendum to be held Sunday in Crimea on secession from Ukraine and affiliation with the Russian Federation. He reiterated the US demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Crimea and recognize the new right-wing, anti-Russian regime in Kiev, which was installed last month in a US- and European Union-backed coup led by armed fascist militias.[…]

Obama also declared that Ukraine “cannot have an outside country dictate to them how to manage their affairs,” and added that the “interests of the US are solely to ensure that the people of Ukraine are able to determine their own destiny.” This is presumably why the US poured billions of dollars into assembling proxy forces in the country and hand-picked “Yats”—in the memorable words of US State Department official Victoria Nuland—to succeed Yanukovych.[…]

On the ground, the US is all but running Ukraine through its representatives in Kiev. Announcing Yatsenyuk’s visit on Sunday, Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that teams from the Treasury and Justice departments and the FBI were in Kiev working to unravel the “kleptocracy” of Yanukovych’s deposed government.[…] [Teri’s note: Having fairly recently watched in silence as the global economy was looted by a couple of big banks and ensuring that none of the criminals would face charges, I imagine that the US Treasury and Justice departments, along with the FBI – an agency I thought only handled internal US crimes – are certainly the best equipped to recognize kleptocracy when they see it.  Perhaps the Ukrainians will receive greater benefit from their investigations than we did.]

As well as funding the government and running its campaign against its political opponents, the US is expected to whip Ukraine’s army into shape.

On Tuesday Ukraine’s president, Oleksandr Turchynov, declared, “The parliament’s primary task is to ask countries that are guarantors of our security to fulfil their commitments” so that Ukraine could re-forge its armed forces. Turchynov stated that there were presently only 6,000 combat-ready infantry in the army out of a nominal force of 90,000.

The US has already effectively taken operational control of the military activities of Ukraine’s neighbours, launching joint exercises with Poland, Romania, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and dispatching Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) jets from airbases in Geilenkirchen, Germany and Waddington in Britain. The AWACS flights were recommended by NATO’s top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove.

On Monday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told PBS that Russia’s interference in Ukraine “exposes Eastern Europe to some significant risk.” He did not rule out US military intervention…

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/13/ukra-m13.html

In a funny little “as an aside”, Paul Craig Roberts notes the following:

[…] Having falsely accused Russia of invading Crimea, the Obama regime now demands that Russia interfere in Crimea and prevent the referendum set for next Sunday. Unless Russia uses force to prevent the people of Crimea from exercising their right of self-determination, John Kerry declared that the Obama regime will not discuss the Ukrainian situation with Russia.

So, Kerry has given Russia the green light to send in troops to prevent Crimean self-determination.

The presstitute Western media has not noticed that out of one corner of his mouth Kerry denounces Russia for intervening and out of the other corner of his mouth Kerry demands that Russia intervene in behalf of Washington’s interest and suppress Crimean self-determination. […]

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/12/obama-regimes-hypocrisy-sets-new-world-record-paul-craig-roberts/

Oh, and it turns out we have money to burn.  Not for anyone in the actual United States of America, you understand; we are undergoing austerity due to budget constraints.  No, Congress is working on an aid package (this is beyond the $5 bb we already spent over the past several years in Ukraine doing some “nation building”):

[…] Aid package clears early hurdle

Eight U.S. senators, led by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, are scheduled to travel to Ukraine in coming days. [Teri’s note: Ever notice how any time we wreck a country, John McCain is the first one in afterwards to pass out cookies on behalf of American business interests?]

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a package of loans and aid for Ukraine on Wednesday, along with sanctions against Russia for its military intervention. The measure, which now heads to the full Senate, also includes the approval of long-delayed reforms at the International Monetary Fund.

The aid package includes $1 billion in loan guarantees from the United States as well as $50 million to boost democracy-building in Ukraine and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and some of its neighbors. [Teri’s note: Wait, didn’t the $5 bb we already spent go for “democracy-building”?  Didn’t that go far enough?  And “enhanced security cooperation” – would that be more money for NATO forces and nuclear armament in the area?  If so, just say it out loud.]

The full Senate will vote on the package after the chamber returns from a recess.

“It always takes time to make good things,” Yatsenyuk said Wednesday night, adding that his country praised the United States for its support. [Teri’s note: You betcha, Yats.  No problem.  Although to be honest, most of the US population is completely unaware that we were being so helpful and supportive.] […]

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/12/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/

There is a story going around that Ukraine’s gold has been confiscated and flown out of the country.  This is, as I recall, what we did to Libya: we declared that Ghaddafi had illegally hoarded his country’s money, so we seized Libya’s Central Bank funds (worth $30 bb) and there is evidence that we also stole her gold reserves.  I have not heard anything about the cash or the gold being returned to the Libyan people.  Where did the money go?  No doubt John McCain and Bill Clinton know.  But they aren’t telling. The $30 billion belonging to the Libyan Central Bank was earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects: the African Investment Bank in Sirte, Libya (Sirte was bombed to hell and back during the US’ “humanitarian intervention” in Libya), the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Cameroon, and the African Central Bank to be based in Nigeria.

A few weeks ago, evidence was discovered that Saudi Arabia’s gold holdings in London were being stolen by central banks in the West and re-hypothicated without the Arab kingdom’s permission.  However,this confiscation doesn’t appear to be only theft in play as just weeks after the Western led coup helped overthrow the rightfully elected Ukrainian leader, rumors are coming out of Kiev on March 10 that show planes being loaded with what is believed to be Ukrainian gold, and flown back to either the U.S. or London for an unknown purpose. […]

Both the U.S. and London are incredibly short of physical gold, as seen last December when the U.S. was unable to deliver the 42 tons it promised Germany in 2013 to satisfy their seven-year plan of gold reclamation back to its original owner. Additionally, one well documented scandal concerning J.P. Morgan Chase and a potential default stemming from the $100 Billion London Whale bet, led the bank to have to sell their Wall Street headquarters to a Chinese conglomerate because the loss was collateralized by gold they didn’t own.

Motives behind the central bank’s gold confiscation programs in the West, which are in essence the stealing of gold holdings from other sovereign nations, may be due to a another scandal being uncovered by the German agency known as Bafin, which came out in January to declare that gold price manipulation is greater than even the mutli-trillion dollar LIBOR scandal.

“Later, in received call back, one of the senior officials of the former Ministry of Income and Fees, which reported that, according to him, tonight, on the orders of one of the ‘new leaders’ of Ukraine in the United States has been taken all the gold reserves in Ukraine …”  – Zerohedge 

There is a growing trend for the U.S., and it involves covert and overt operations leading to coups and overthrows of sovereign nations with the purpose of stealing that nation’s gold supply. When you add in the validated evidence of Iraqi, Libyan, Saudi Arabian gold being stolen or confiscated after the leaders were overthrown of killed, then today’s rumor that a U.S. transport flew in under the radar and stole the gold holdings of the Ukrainian people is not a conspiracy theory, but a carefully executed chain of events that have been done by America several times in recent years.

http://www.examiner.com/article/rumors-abound-of-gold-theft-by-u-s-from-ukrainian-vaults

I have no idea how reliable the above report is.  But this is about oil and energy supplies, ultimately.  You might have noticed, in my last post, that Chevron was immediately after the coup given a 50-year contract to develop shale oil in Ukraine.

There is much concern over the possibility that Russia will cut off her vital energy supplies to the EU over the Ukraine/Crimea events.  To that end, we see the US and the EU rapidly going all-out to make sure that Russia’s natural gas supplies are replaced.  Some of this involves nonsensical moves, of course, as it would take several years to put any other systems in place and all of it involves instituting major fracking plays and the concomitant destruction of water supplies in the US and Europe in order to achieve the desired ends.   In any case, there are some rapid developments in the past couple of days which indicate that our leaders, here and in the EU, are more than willing to allow toxic chemicals in the water supply and use up our fresh water in an effort to thwart Russia.  We would like to preemptively undermine any moves by the BRIC countries to get off the petro-dollar and stop the emerging Shanghai Co-op, as well.  Fracking may eventually cause so many earthquakes that we will have destroyed our land mass altogether, but since there is no longer any concern over how many people die as a result of the toxins being dumped in our water, etc., we may not need so much land.  In the long run, I mean.  Look, shit happens and then you die.

EU politicians on Wednesday voted for tougher rules on exposing the environmental impact of oil and conventional gas exploration, while excluding shale gas.

Member states such as Britain and Poland are pushing hard for the development of shale gas, seen as one way to lessen dependence on Russian gas, as well as to lower energy costs as it has in the United States.

The plenary vote of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France follows a compromise deal on the draft law in December, which was struck only after negotiators agreed to leave out references to shale gas. […]

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/12/eu-parliament-shale-gas-environmental-code

 

US gas production is projected to rise 44% by 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and producers have been pressing the Obama administration to expand exports of natural gas. […]

“A senior US official said the State Department was supportive of introducing substantial gas exports abroad as a move to counteract Russia’s influence. Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, told the New York Times that opening global markets to US exports ‘sends a clear signal that the global gas market is changing, that there is the prospect of much greater supply coming from other parts of the world’.”

The EIA is an organization of overpaid cheerleaders that haven’t had one prediction right in forever and a day. It’s perhaps because they have no track record to defend that they issue such double or nothing claims; it’s hardly interesting anymore. That claim that US gas production will be 44% more in 26 years than it is today is simply bonkers, and not supported by anything other than industry interests, loud as they may be. […]

[T]he early big American shale gas plays (Barnett in Texas, Haynesville in Louisiana, Fayettville in Arkansas) are already winding down after just ten years of production[…]

“Even the idea that we will have enough natural gas for our own needs in the USA beyond the short term ought to be viewed with skepticism. What happens, for instance, when we finally realize that it costs more to frack it out of the ground than people can pay for it? I’ll tell you exactly what will happen: the gas will remain underground bound up in its “tight rock,” possibly forever, and a lot of Americans will freeze to death. […]

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-mar-9-2014-big-oil-and-gas-wars/

 

BP won the right to again compete for U.S. contracts and new leases in the Gulf of Mexico, where its massive 2010 oil spill prompted regulators to bar it from new government business.

The agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency will allow BP, which had been the Pentagon’s biggest fuel supplier, to seek lucrative federal contracts again and bid for oil exploration leases. Next week, a U.S. auction is set for the right to drill in the Gulf, where the London-based company is the second-largest producer.

The end of the suspension is a milestone in BP’s recovery from the worst U.S. offshore oil spill, which forced it to sell about $38 billion in assets to meet the costs of cleaning up pollution and compensating victims. A judge in New Orleans is considering BP’s degree of responsibility for the disaster and the scale of fines to impose under the Clean Water Act.[…]

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Interior Department, on March 19 plans to auction leases covering more than 40 million acres on the Gulf for oil and gas exploration.[…]

The company’s 45-page administrative agreement with the EPA announced yesterday will last five years. […]

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-13/u-s-lifts-bp-s-ban-on-contracting-imposed-after-spill.html

On BP, also see: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/15  One might speculate that BP so suddenly winning its rights to bid for further ruination of the Gulf of Mexico has something to do with the US trying to persuade the UK to support sanctions on Russia.  The following approval also happened within the past week:

WASHINGTON—The Interior Department endorsed seismic testing in Atlantic waters on Thursday, a first step toward allowing oil and gas drilling from Delaware Bay to Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

In its long-awaited environmental impact statement on what’s known as seismic air gun testing, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it would demand that the oil and gas companies exploring in the Outer Continental Shelf meet tough environmental standards to protect marine life from the underwater seismic blasts.

Environmental groups oppose the use of the controversial geological survey technology, contending that the seismic blasts pose a significant risk to whales, dolphins, fish and sea turtles. Seismic surveys are used to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor. The guns, towed by ships, shoot compacted air to the bottom of the ocean, creating sound waves that reflect geological formations. […]

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the environmental report “a capitulation to the forces of drill-baby-drill.” […]

Oil and gas industry contractors have already submitted nine applications to do seismic surveys covering hundreds of thousands of miles, according to the Interior Department. […]

The area, particularly off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas, are estimated to hold some 3.3 million barrels of oil and 3.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though the calculations were based on outdated technology, an Interior official said.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304071004579409621926543690

See also this on the Cove Point [Baltimore] terminal:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/21-3

While we race around the world, sacking countries and violating international law over energy supplies (and seeking hegemony over the entire globe, PNAC-style), I have to wonder who is running this show.  The CIA?  The Council on Foreign Relations?  The oligarchs in the US?  (Yes, we have them, too.  Frankly, they own the place.)  The Pentagon?  They have the money, that’s for sure.  An article by Winslow Wheeler points this out: “Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion.  How can that be?  The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is.”  He offers a great chart to explain his numbers; see:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/14/americas-1-trillion-national-security-budget/

What are we becoming?  A nation of looters and thugs?  We have a President who claims the right to kill us if some secret panel decides we are “terrorists”.  He claims the right to kill any person in the world.  The CIA angrily avers that it doesn’t have to answer to Congress and the president backs the CIA.  We spy on everyone and seek to control every living thing on the planet.  Who the fuck are we?  Maybe the answer is that we are simply a dying empire, angrily lashing out in our death throes.  See: Roman Empire; decline of.

Many articles I have read in the past couple of weeks have offered excuse after excuse for poor Obama in regards to Ukraine.  It’s the neocons he allowed into high places, his cabinet of “adversaries”; they have him in a rope-a-dope; he wants to do the right thing and work with Putin and only needs to come out and tell the public that.  Or it’s the fault of the weak liberals he listens to; he needs to toughen up.  Blah, blah, blah.  But the truth is that we, as a nation, seem to have accepted the reemergence of the neocon point of view with some equanimity.  We are not, on the whole, a nation that espouses especially “liberal” viewpoints any more.  We are already turning on our weakest numbers with extreme prejudice.  Hillary Clinton is considered the “natural” Democratic contender to follow Obama in 2016, as though there would be anything natural in establishing a de facto monarchy in the US.  As though either Hillary or Barack represented traditional Democratic values in the first place.  This would be Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died, Hillary who giggles at the thought of invading Iran, Hillary who is a neocon through and through.  We seem to be moving willingly, spinelessly, in the direction that the Bush and Obama administrations and the military industrial complex, along with the media, have pushed us.  Sadly, the feeling I get is not that the public is weary of war so much as tired of losing the ones we start.

I think that this is how we are seen by more and more of the world: we are the neighbors who demand what we want, never replace what we destroy, and then threaten everyone who objects to the arrangement.  Sadly, we deserve this assessment.

UPDATE:

“About 93 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia and only 7 percent of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to first exit polls. […]”

http://rt.com/news/crimea-vote-join-russia-210/

UPDATE 2:

The exit polls were very accurate.  Crimea overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia, with 80% of the population voting.

Immediately upon hearing the results this morning, Obama issued a new executive order sanctioning specific individuals in the Russian government, along with several people in Ukraine; most notably the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.  The EU followed suit right away.  I am not sure what anyone gains by these maneuvers, which merely serve to escalate the situation.  The Crimean voters went to their polling places and voted to secede from Ukraine.  There were some international observers to witness the vote (despite what you may read in the American MSM), and there did not seem to be any problems or signs of intimidation.  They decided to take their chances with the oligarchic system in Russia rather than facing the IMF austerity measures being demanded of Ukraine under the new neo-Nazi regime imposed there.  Ironically, the White House said it is targeting “those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine” in these new sanctions, although it was distinctly the US that created the situation in the first place.  In another strange piece of rhetoric, the EU and US are calling on Russia to de-escalate the situation.

It remains to be seen what Putin’s response will be, although I would think that imposing more and more sanctions against Russia, given the oil and trading she supplies to the EU and the fact that Russia may well take economic measures of its own in retaliation, would make the EU and US think twice about using such threatening postures.   Let’s not forget that it would be easy enough for some of the Asian countries to join Russia in going off the dollar, and that Russia (despite its bad economy) holds a big stack of US Treasuries.  I will mention in passing, as well, that Russia has nukes.  Let’s hope Putin is willing to be a tad more diplomatic than the US is.

In any case, below is an article summarizing the sanctions.  You may want to read the executive order and the press office fact sheet for yourself, as well as the letter Obama sent to Congress explaining them.

Executive Order — Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/executive-order-blocking-property-additional-persons-contributing-situat

WH Press Office fact sheet on EO:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/fact-sheet-ukraine-related-sanctions

 Letter to Congress:

WASHINGTON –  The White House has announced new sanctions against seven Russian officials in retaliation for Ukraine’s Crimea region voting to join Russia, as the European Union announced similar penalties. 

While stopping short of singling out Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, President Obama sanctioned several members of Putin’s inner circle. The White House also announced sanctions against separatist leaders in Crimea and former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. 

“We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. “We stand ready to use these authorities in a direct and targeted fashion as events warrant.” 

The expanded U.S. sanctions, announced in an executive order, would target the assets of the listed Russian officials and bar them from entering the U.S. These include Putin aides Vladislav Surkov and Sergey Glazyev.

It’s unclear what other steps the U.S. might take in the coming days, as western leaders try to prevent Moscow from attempting to formally annex Crimea. Obama told Putin on Sunday that the vote “would never be recognized” by the United States, as he and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes Monday on 21 people from Russia and Crimea who they linked to the push for the secession of Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea peninsula. 

The sanctions came hours after Crimea’s parliament declared the region an independent state, following its residents’ overwhelming vote Sunday to break away from Ukraine and seek to join Russia.

The ministers meeting in Brussels did not immediately release the names of those targeted by the sanctions. [Teri’s note: Obama’s new EO does name names.]

Two diplomats said the sanctions targeted 13 Russians and eight people from Crimea. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the breakdown of the nationalities had not been officially announced.

The 28-nation EU and the United States say Sunday’s Crimean referendum was illegitimate and unconstitutional. 

The EU is walking a tightrope between punishing Moscow and keeping open lines of communication with Russia for a diplomatic resolution of one of the worst geopolitical crises in years on its eastern doorstep.

Before Monday’s meeting in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said sanctions must leave “ways and possibilities open to prevent a further escalation that could lead to the division of Europe.”

The EU has already suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and a visa agreement. The bloc’s leaders are meeting Thursday and Friday and could start slapping economic sanctions on Russia this weekend if Moscow does not back down. 

Western allies are calling on Putin to “de-escalate” the crisis, support Ukrainian plans for political reform, return Russian troops in Crimea to their barracks and halt advances into Ukraine and military buildups along its borders.

Ukraine’s new government in Kiev called Sunday’s referendum a “circus” directed at gunpoint by Moscow. Putin, however, insisted it was conducted in “full accordance with international law and the U.N. charter” and cited Kosovo’s independence from Serbia as its precedent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/17/visa-bans-asset-freezes-among-possible-sanctions-against-russia/

 

 

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/

 

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