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The governmental responses to the Paris terrorist attacks.

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night, France has rolled out its plans, seemingly prepared in advance much like the US’ response to 9/11: France is already increasing its bombing of Syria and is imposing strict new laws on its own people at home.

Despite the fact that at least half the terrorists in this case were already known to the French law enforcement community, the intelligence services mysteriously “ceased watching” the suspects a few days before the attacks. Oddly, and also reminiscent of 9/11, the French military and police forces were conducting anti-terrorist training exercises the morning of the attacks in Paris, so Paris was packed with law enforcement, but somehow the terrorists slipped around town to multiple locations unimpeded. The police response was notably slow at each location as well.  Despite these being obvious failures of the security community in France, the first steps rolled out in response are not directed as rebuke to or reform of these agencies, but are instead measures taken against the civilian population and which are a distinct curtailing of civil rights.  

Internally, French president Hollande has ordered a 3-month State of Emergency which will be extended further “as needed”. The state of emergency law allows French authorities to impose curfews, carry out random searches of private homes at any time, collect weapons owned by private citizens, use military tribunals rather than the courts, curtail public meetings, censor the press, order the house arrest of individuals (without trial), and close public places (most public places were closed for the week-end and the law allows for future closures at any time with little or no prior notification to the public).  The French government has already begun raids of private homes searching for accomplices to the terrorists and is increasing the number of soldiers patrolling Paris and suburbs. Right now, there are 5000 French military troops in Paris; there will be another 1500 added by Wednesday and the prime minister has promised to deploy another 10,000 troops throughout the rest of the country as quickly as possible. (There were already 7000 troops deployed internally in France since the “Charlie Hebdo” thing in January of this year, in addition to the number just in Paris alone.) This pretty much puts martial law in effect.

Hollande met with leaders of all the political parties in France over the week-end and they all agree with the new “state of emergency” law and to expanding participation of war abroad.  He asked for an increase in spending on security, police, and intelligence agencies, which will breach the EU’s budget agreements, and is seeking constitutional revisions to add to the powers of the president under emergency situations.   

Marie Le Pen, who is the leader of the National Front party (they are distinctly neo-fascists) called for the complete disarming of the suburbs, and Wauquiez, the secretary of the Le Republicans party (very right-wing) said that anyone in France who has an intelligence file (i.e., people being watched for one reason or another by the authorities) should be placed in internment camps.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve stated that the state of emergency might be used for “the dissolution of mosques in which people intervene to call for or promote hatred.”   What exactly constitutes “promoting hatred” is no doubt open to debate.

On Monday, Hollande made a speech to both houses of parliament in which he suggested sweeping changes to the democratic rights inherent in the French constitution and proposed modifying the constitution itself.  His measures would give arbitrary powers to the president and transfer authority from civilian institutions to the French military; he pointed out that the several articles supporting these sweeping changes were already part of the constitution under the state of emergency he imposed, but said that they needed to be modified and strengthened.  The articles in question allow the president full and arbitrary powers “when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, its territorial integrity, or the carrying out of its international engagements are threatened in a grave and immediate way, and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authority is interrupted…”

It’s a fairly broad read of the articles to invoke them with the claim that ISIS could threaten all the institutions of France, or its independence and territorial integrity.  Nonetheless, massive changes appear to be in the works for the good people of France, who have enjoyed a free and democratic republic until now.

Joyeux Noel et bonne annee, gens. [Merry Christmas and happy new year, people.]

Other countries are calling for more bombing throughout the Middle East, as though killing more people will somehow stop blowback of the sort that the Paris attacks might have been.  It is also possible that the Paris events were a false flag designed to have the effect of solidifying the intent of the “coalition of the willing” to come together more firmly and utterly destroy Syria in particular and the Middle East in general.  We even had the requisite magic, indestructible passports and a peculiarly belated claim from ISIS that they were, in fact, behind the attacks.  It was only after Hollande claimed that he “knew” that ISIS was behind the attacks that ISIS thought to take credit.  I wonder how easy it is for someone fleeing a war-torn country to apply for a passport and how quickly that country can process the applications when it is under full military assault.  Millions of people have fled Syria; is it even likely that all, or most, of them waited for visitor’s passports before fleeing for their very lives?   It’s a moot point anyway; we are now being told the terrorists were not Syrian refugees, but French and Belgium nationals.  And why do these terrorists only target the civilian population, rather than the politicians and neocons who are responsible for the wars in their homelands?   If this is a case of false flag, it seems to be working.

At the G20 meeting taking place now, a bunch of countries (which are, well, noticeably not Syria nor territories of Syria nor colonies of Syria nor in any way, shape, or form countries going by the name of Syria) are deciding how Syria should be governed and run. The big questions seem to be: do we simply assassinate al Assad, demand he a) step down now or b) step down later, set up an [illegal] interim government without him (like we did in Libya just before we assassinated Ghaddafi), tell the people of Syria they will have early elections but al Assad cannot run for office this time, despite his winning the last election with 80% of the vote (like we did in Haiti, where we allowed Aristide to return home, but said he couldn’t run for office even if the people wanted him to – which they overwhelmingly did), and the final big question is, of course, do you suppose anyone will notice if we just fucking bomb Syria into a landfill and kill all the civilians in the meantime? Takes care of that part of the refugee problem, anyway.

The US now kind of wants Russia to take part in the bombing of Syria to get rid of our manufactured enemy ISIS (who, let’s face it, are getting a tad out of control), but don’t want Russia to bomb the “moderate” terrorists, who just happen to be aiming their sights on al Assad, whom we really want to get rid of.  I have to ask here, what the fuck is a “moderate” terrorist?  Is that a terrorist who will cut your head off but not eat your liver afterwards?  What we really want, of course, is that damn pipeline that al Assad won’t give us, and we hope Russia will ignore that losing the pipeline will hurt the Russian economy and can be convinced to not only help us get rid of ISIS, but along the way, also help us take down the only guy who is protecting Russia’s interests in that pipeline matter.  (“Real shame about your airplane there, Mr. Putin.  Shitty things happen when you don’t play by our rules.”)

Not one leader, and this is notably true in the US, which favors sanctions and other such assorted illegal actions in lieu of diplomacy, has suggested sanctions or investigations into who is buying all that black-market oil from ISIS which profits the group enormously.  Turkey and Iraq are among the known purchasers, and reports have been leaked that suggest at least two EU countries buy ISIS oil.  Somehow the US can sanction individuals and/or entire countries for any matter under the sun that affects “our interests”, but is completely nonchalant about the ISIS oil buyers or the methods of money transfers they utilize.  Remarkable.

France has placed itself in the absurd situation of seeking help from Russia against ISIS in Syria while at the very same time committed to the NATO buildup against Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe.  The US and other NATO countries are doing the same thing, although few seem to have noticed the spectacular oddness of it all.  John Kerry, while in Paris a day ago, put the burden for intelligence-sharing on Russia and Iran (“…So the faster Russia and Iran give life to this process, the faster the violence can taper down, and we can isolate [IS] and Al Nusra and begin to do what our strategy has always set out to do”), despite the fact that we have been condemning both those countries for participating in military activity in the Syria up until this very moment, and have been making threats against both countries for decades.   We can only hope these idiots don’t start bombing each other (and us) in a mad melee while they are busy “coalescing” and bombing ISIS.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced he is adding financing to the military budget and doubling the drone fleet.  Countries all over the place are suddenly stating they are under “credible terrorist threats” and have begun canceling events, adding to their internal police forces and closing borders to refugees.  Roughly half the state governors in America have said they will not accept Syrian refugees – not that very many have come here in any case – despite the fact that it is not legal for them to bar refugees from their communities.

As for the larger US, we are suddenly bombing Libya again, in addition to Syria.  (Along with the seven or so other nations we are bombing.)  No authorization for any of the bombing we are doing anywhere, of course, and particularly egregious to be bombing a country we already ruined beyond repair a couple of years ago, but no-one in the media seems disturbed. Matter of fact, it is so humdrum that I’ve only seen one or two articles on the incident.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-officials-leader-of-islamic-state-in-libya-believed-killed-in-us-airstrike/2015/11/14/b42cb714-8af0-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

The final paragraph in the above article sums up the media’s insouciance for facts and displays its ability to re-write even recent history, replacing truth with bullshit.

The Islamic State has been able to thrive in Libya in large part because of the country’s political instability four years after its revolution. Since last year, Libya has had two governments vying for resources and legitimacy. But neither is able to impose security across the vast desert nation or curb a sprawling array of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups.

It was not a revolution, those were CIA-funded, al Qaeda-affiliated “rebels” brought into the country of Libya to overthrow the then-current government.  Then an unbelievable amount of bombs were dropped under the lead of the US, ruining damn near everything, and then we assassinated the leader of this sovereign nation.  The country had been working pretty well up until that point, with Ghaddafi having over a 90% approval rating from the Libyans themselves.  And, by the way, the “sprawling array” of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups weren’t a problem until we wrecked the country.

In response to the events in Paris, I guess the PTB have decided their course of action: more of the same of what they’ve been doing.  Yeah, because that’s been working so well up to now.  We managed to create and fund al Qaeda and ISIS through our activities in the Middle East for all these long years, and we supply weapons to our “ally” Saudi Arabia, which in turn follows much the same set of Wahhabi beliefs that ISIS and the other Islamist militant groups do and which actively provides material and financial backing for terrorist groups worldwide.  The House of Saud is loathe to bomb ISIS, but has been savagely willing to use those weapons to bring hell on earth to Yemen and Pakistan.  Yesterday, it was announced that the US State Dept. has approved a new $1.3 bb sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia, which the Pentagon says will be used in the Saudis’ military campaigns in Syria and Yemen.  We consider Turkey an ally even as they purchase black-market oil from ISIS and back the “moderate terrorist” groups [al Qaeda and ISIS allies] and ignore the reports that our ally Israel is giving medical aid to ISIS wounded.  One thing that no-one will consider is to let the Arab nations figure out if they really want the kind of life ISIS is selling and let them sort it out for themselves.  

To underscore that our desire to spread weaponry, mayhem and misery is equal opportunity for the entire globe, the US Senate just cleared the revised Defense Authorization legislation for vote, legislation that will provide $715 mm to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS, $406 mm for the Syrian opposition forces (the so-called moderate terrorist groups), and $300 mm for lethal weapons for the neo-Nazis we put in power in Ukraine.

Obama has promised a quarter of a billion dollars to sponsor “maritime security” in the South China Sea.  The money will fund gunboat patrols and surveillance for Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia as the US tries to gin up the territorial disputes with China in that area.  (Wait’ll he finds out that China, Japan and South Korea are holding meetings to work out some trade questions and the sea-lane disputes without him.  See note at bottom.)  Escalation of war threats all over the globe.

Sounds like a plan, if a dismal one.

Note: Looks like China and Japan are starting to figure out they need each other more than either needs the stupid war-mongering US. and its manufactured dispute over some sand bars:

Nov 2015 – S Korea, Japan, and China agree to restore trade ties. 
Regional powers also agree to restart trilateral meetings that have not been held since 2012 due to strained relations.
 Two articles.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/korea-japan-china-agree-restore-trade-ties-151101130148174.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-01/south-korea-china-japan-vow-to-strengthen-ties-at-summit/6903686

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in China, civil rights, Iran, Iraq, Libya, MIC, Russia, security state, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen

 

Greenwald to name names?

Updated below.

Glenn Greenwald, the man Edward Snowden handed the NSA “spying documents” over to, has announced that he has neared the end of the material he will release to the public.  If you haven’t been satisfied with the number of documents published through a few media outlets so far, you can buy his new book, which I understand has a couple more new “revelations” in it.  The book is oddly separated from the documents themselves (I gather you can go to a website and download the documents the book mentions for yourself) and has no index (strange editing choice for a book on such a subject).  Maybe there will be more in his upcoming movie, although that is being publicized as the story of how he and Snowden met and planned the release of the documents; no mention has been made that the movie will include any revealing of the document materials.  Now he has plans for the ending point, a final release of one last item, a “Grand Finale”,  which he will publish later this year at his new billionaire Pierre Omidyar-funded website, The Intercept: he is going to release the names of individuals targeted by the NSA.  (What the hell happened to all those other tens of thousands of documents never released?  We just don’t get to see what’s in them?)

According to this Realclearpolitics article, entitled ” Greenwald’s Finale: Naming Victims of Surveillance”:

The man who helped bring about the most significant leak in American intelligence history is to reveal names of US citizens targeted by their own government in what he promises will be the “biggest” revelation from nearly 2m classified files.

His [Greenwald’s] plan to publish names will further unnerve an American intelligence establishment already reeling from 11 months of revelations about US government surveillance activities. […]

“One of the big questions when it comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’,” he said. 

“Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists?

What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer.”

Greenwald said the names would be published via The Intercept, a website funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder and chairman of eBay. […]

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/05/26/greenwalds_finale_naming_victims_of_surveillance_122747.html

From a Commondreams article :

And in an interview with The Sunday Times published over the weekend, the award-winning journalist spoke about a coming “finale” that would expose specific individuals who have been targeted by the powerful spy agency. […]”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/05/27-3

Now hold on just a daggone minute.  Greenwald has repeatedly stated that one reason he has vetted the releases with the US government prior to publication is that he and Snowden wanted to make sure that the innocent targets of the NSA would not have their lives disrupted and possibly put in danger by revealing their names.  He has also made numerous times, in what is basically the same wording, the remark that a major factor explaining the slow release of documents is the painstaking work of making sure that the names of individuals targeted by the NSA have their identities (including other potential identifying information aside from their names) redacted prior to public release of any given document.

And the “grand finale” will be…releasing these victims’ names??

I want to be clear: I’m not speculating on what the names are.  I personally don’t care whose names are on the list and am repulsed by the people who are speculating about which names will be revealed.  I am not speculating on whether or not the targets are “innocent”, or what level of “innocence” they hold.  (They are all “innocent” in that none of us should have had our communications spied on, collected, and stored.  Actually, I thought that was one of the major points Snowden had to make.)   Once the list is released, are we all going to pore over the names and opine on who deserved to be spied on?  Are we going to join the NSA in picking out the targets who “deserved” to be targets (based on who we “dislike”) and feign horror over other outed names, saying, “Oh, so-and-so shouldn’t have been a victim of the spying”?

I am not going to play along with that game because it makes me complicit.  It turns us –  all of us the victims and targets in this governmental shredding of our rights – into the same “judge and jury” the spy agencies have been acting as (illegally) all these years.  But that isn’t my main point here.  My point is that when Greenwald has been taken to task for working with the government in vetting the releases, one part of his answer has always been that he needs to keep the targets’ identities secret and secure.  When people complain that the leaks are happening too slowly, he says that it takes a considerable amount of time to redact the names and any identifying information of the victims of the NSA spying in order to protect their privacy and possibly their lives.  He has made these points over and over.

Has Greenwald tried to get in touch with these NSA surveillance victims privately to warn them that they were among the specific targets?  Has he contacted them to ask their permission to out their names on this “grand finale” list?  Is he going to publish every single name he has in his possession, only the names of the people he doesn’t like, or just the names that he thinks will have some shock value?  If he is only publishing some of the names (I am of the opinion that releasing any names is grotesque), how is it that he thinks he is the one who should choose which names to display to the public?  If he is picking and choosing the names on his own, well, by God, what a misuse of power; power that came into his hands only through fate and accident.

I have to say that if the “grand finale” is indeed the naming of the targets’ names, this is weird, inexplicable, and completely contradictory given the lengths Greenwald supposedly went through to protect these people from the beginning.

UPDATE, 3 July:

Turns out Greenwald is going to delay the Big Reveal based on “last-minute claims” from the government that he needs to “investigate”, so my concern over the the so-called list  of names was premature.  He made this announcement via Twitter, where he does his most prolific writing.  That is also where he made the announcement (earlier the same day) that the article was going to be published at midnight on The Intercept:

GG Twitter feed, June 30, 11:56 am:
Tomorrow at 9am ET, I’m doing a @reddit_AMA with @MazMHussain about our new NSA story to be published tonight at midnight on @the_intercept

GG Twitter feed, June 30, 7:32 pm:
After 3 months working on our story, USG today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing

So all his fans were waiting breathlessly at the comment section for midnight.  Midnight happened and then someone pointed out the second “tweet”.  Now they are all making a gazillion excuses for him and praying for his safety.  No-one seems to much question that he claims to have been working on this article for three whole months or that the intrepid whistleblowers can’t blow the whistle on the government because, gosh darn it, once again, the mean old government won’t let them.  It would all be pretty funny if it weren’t so stupid.  Some other reporter just published an article a day or two ago which states the NSA has been collecting emails on the entire planet based on “suspicions” raised regarding 230 individuals.  He did not name the names.  Still, kind of a scoop on Greenwald.

Me, I’m just glad that something is preventing Greenwald from publishing the names of the innocent and illegally targeted.  But I must say, this whole weird episode – the really small number of articles Greenwald has written since getting the Snowden documents, the abrupt statement that he was done with what he was going to write about them (aside from this last Grand Finale) despite the dearth of articles and information, the odd notion that the whistleblower and his chosen oracle vet everything through the same government they are whistleblowing on prior to publication of any articles, Snowden’s recent claim that he still works for the government, Greenwald’s and Snowden’s defense of “some spying” as being “useful and necessary”, the very idea behind the “Grand Finale” and now the indefinite postponement of said “fireworks” – makes it look like Greenwald just pulled the best freaking rick-roll in the history of rick-rolling.

Here’s your Grand Finale, people:

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in security state, Uncategorized

 

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/

 

 

"Freedom" of the press.

Huh.  So first they made propaganda legal (again) in the US.  You may remember this story, or a similar version of it, from last year.

US Government-Funded Domestic Propaganda Has Officially Hit The Airwaves

by Michael Kelley, provided by Business Insider.

Published 6:54 am, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm has begun the “unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption,” John Hudson of Foreign Policy reported on Sunday. 

The content arrives with the enactment of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R- Texas) and Rep. Adam Smith (D- Wash.), which was inserted into the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The reform effectively nullifies the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was amended in 1985 specifically to prohibit U.S. organizations from using information “to influence public opinion in the United States.”  [Teri’s note: another confusing and misleading title for a Congressional Act.  The old Smith-Mundt Act prohibited propaganda.  The new “Smith-Mundt Modernization Act” does exactly the opposite, despite invoking the same names as the old one.  This is done deliberately to confuse the voters, very much like Elizabeth Warren’s disarmingly named “21st Century Glass-Steagal Act”.]

The new law enables U.S. government programming such as Voice of America (VoA) — an outlet created in 1942 to promote a positive understanding of the U.S. abroad — t0 broadcast directly to domestic audiences for the first time.

VoA and other programs are now produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which shares a “strategic communications budget” with the State Department and has an annual budget of more than $700 million. [Teri’s note: See more on the State Dept.’s cost of propaganda below.] 

Nevertheless, BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil insisted to FP that the BBG presents “fair and accurate news” and is not a propaganda outlet.

A former U.S. government source explained that the BBG can now reach local radio stations in the U.S., meaning that the programming can target expat communities such as the significant Somali population in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn’t get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VoA Somalia,” the source told FP. “It was silly.”

An alternative function was detailed last year by Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a highly-respected officer who released a critical report regarding the distortion of truth by senior military officials in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Davis stated that the effective repeal of the Smith-Mundt Act is a strategic move in influencing U.S. public perception in regards to the Global War on Terror (GWOT). 

He cites Colonel Richard B. Leap, who recommends that lawmakers “specifically address all prior legislation beginning with the Smith-Mundt Act that is limiting the effectiveness of Information organizations in the GWOT environment.”

From Lt. Col. Davis:

In context, Colonel Leap is implying we ought to change the law to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to “protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will.” 

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 appears to serve this purpose by allowing for the American public to be a target audience of U.S. government-funded information campaigns. 

Davis also quotes Brigadier General Ralph O. Baker — the Pentagon officer responsible for the Department of Defense’s Joint Force Development — who defines Information Operations (IO) as activities undertaken to “shape the essential narrative of a conflict or situation and thus affect the attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audience.” 

Brig. Gen. Baker goes on to equate descriptions of combat operations with the standard marketing strategy of repeating something until it is accepted: 

For years, commercial advertisers have based their advertisement strategies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the number of times a consumer is exposed to product advertisement and that consumer’s inclination to sample the new product. The very same principle applies to how we influence our target audiences when we conduct COIN.

And those “thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs” appear to serve Baker’s strategy, which states: “Repetition is a key tenet of IO execution, and the failure to constantly drive home a consistent message dilutes the impact on the target audiences.” 

So it appears the new content stream is an outlet for “uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate,” as Weil told FP, as well as a vehicle for U.S. Information Operations.

http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/US-Government-Funded-Domestic-Propaganda-Has-4668001.php

The State Dept. spends a lot of money on “diplomatic outreach”,  otherwise known as propaganda, in its desperate attempts to get people in foreign lands to like us.   That we might remove our military from their countries, simply stop bombing the hell out of them, or end such “diplomatic” practices as economic sanctioning, and that this might do more for our reputation abroad than overt propaganda is a concept that seems to elude both the State Dept. and the Pentagon.  Aside from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (mentioned in the above article) with its $751 mm budget (as of 2012), the State Department runs the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), which is a 276-person agency with a 2013 budget of $137 million.  The IIP publishes various booklets and licenses old PBS series to be broadcast in foreign countries.  State also has the Bureau of Public Affairs operating on a budget of $43.5 mm (2013 budget), whose main function seems to be the responsibility of handling State Dept. “tweets” and arranging all-expense-paid trips to the US for foreign journalists (the topics of the stories are pre-selected by the State Dept.).

The Pentagon has its own outreach program, of course, entirely separate from the State Dept. According to a February 2012 USA Today article, the Pentagon spent as much as $580 million annually in recent years on leaflets, billboards, radio and TV programming, and other forms of “information operations” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Excited and emboldened by the successful reinstatement of the Cold War-style propaganda pushed onto the sleepy, witless public and codified into law through the 2013 NDAA, the Obama administration now moves forward with the next step: it will tell the media what that propaganda should consist of,  “advise” the media on how to properly disseminate the approved “information” to the public, and “oversee” how well the media is fulfilling this “duty”.  Oh, and the “advisors” will be government contractors; i.e., your own taxpayer dollars will be used to direct the media on what it is allowed to tell you, via private companies hired by the government.  I am exaggerating the case somewhat, but as history has taught us, these things progress in an orderly and predictable fashion; it is only a matter of a relatively small period of time before full-on control of the press is achieved.  This latest move, combined with Obama’s overt war on journalists and whistleblowers (done with the blessings of most of Congress, I might add), clearly demonstrate where all this is headed.

New Obama initiative tramples First Amendment protections

BY BYRON YORK | FEBRUARY 20, 2014 AT 5:48 PM

The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” But under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to send government contractors into the nation’s newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public’s “critical information needs.” Those “needs” will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government’s standards could face an uncertain future. It’s hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment. 

The initiative, known around the agency as “the CIN Study” (pronounced “sin”), is a bit of a mystery even to insiders. “This has never been put to an FCC vote, it was just announced,” says Ajit Pai, one of the FCC’s five commissioners (and one of its two Republicans). “I’ve never had any input into the process,” adds Pai, who brought the story to the public’s attention in a Wall Street Journal column last week.  [Teri’s note:  It is most peculiar that the commissioners themselves knew nothing of this initiative beforehand.  Where did it originate?  Perhaps it is the singular idea of the acting chair, Mignon Clyburn?  Maybe some sort of Presidential Order?  It’s a mystery.  In any case, please read Commissioner Pai’s WSJ editorial by clicking on the embedded link above.  His piece is articulate and rather alarming, especially in light of the fact that someone is making decisions about FCC policies without having the input from all its commissioners.]

Advocates promote the project with Obama-esque rhetoric. “This study begins the charting of a course to a more effective delivery of necessary information to all citizens,” said FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn in 2012. Clyburn, daughter of powerful House Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, was appointed to the FCC by President Obama and served as acting chair for part of last year. The FCC, Clyburn said, “must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation — be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other.” (The FCC decided to test the program with a trial run in Ms. Clyburn’s home state, South Carolina.)

The FCC commissioned the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy to do a study defining what information is “critical” for citizens to have. The scholars decided that “critical information” is information that people need to “live safe and healthy lives” and to “have full access to educational, employment, and business opportunities,” among other things.

The study identified eight “critical needs”: information about emergencies and risks; health and welfare; education; transportation; economic opportunities; the environment; civic information; and political information.

It’s not difficult to see those topics quickly becoming vehicles for political intimidation. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t. For example, might the FCC standards that journalists must meet on the environment look something like the Obama administration’s environmental agenda? Might standards on economic opportunity resemble the president’s inequality agenda? The same could hold true for the categories of health and welfare and “civic information” — and pretty much everything else.

“An enterprising regulator could run wild with a lot of these topics,” says Pai. “The implicit message to the newsroom is they need to start covering these eight categories in a certain way or otherwise the FCC will go after them.” 

The FCC awarded a contract for the study to a Maryland-based company called Social Solutions International. In April 2013, Social Solutions presented a proposal outlining a process by which contractors hired by the FCC would interview news editors, reporters, executives and other journalists.

“The purpose of these interviews is to ascertain the process by which stories are selected,” the Social Solutions report said, adding that news organizations would be evaluated for “station priorities (for content, production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.” 

There are a lot of scary words for journalists in that paragraph. And not just for broadcasters; the FCC also proposes to regulate newspapers, which it has no authority to do. (Its mission statement says the FCC “regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable…”)

Questioning about the CIN Study began last December, when the four top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the FCC to justify the project. “The Commission has no business probing the news media’s editorial judgment and expertise,” the GOP lawmakers wrote, “nor does it have any business in prescribing a set diet of ‘critical information.’ ” [Teri’s note:  Obama and the Democrats couldn’t give any more talking points to the GOP than they have lately if they had planned it intentionally.  I’d be amazed at this political ineptitude if I weren’t so convinced we actually have only one party in this country.]

If the FCC goes forward, it’s not clear what will happen to news organizations that fall short of the new government standards. Perhaps they will be disciplined. Or perhaps the very threat of investigating their methods will nudge them into compliance with the administration’s journalistic agenda. What is sure is that it will be a gross violation of constitutional rights. 

http://washingtonexaminer.com/new-obama-initiative-tramples-first-amendment-protections/article/2544363

On the Maryland contractor mentioned in the article, Social Solutions International:  these guys appear to survive as a company exclusively through governmental contracts.  In regards propaganda, here is one of their contracts as summarized on their home page, and you will note how well it fits with the new (and improved!) propaganda law in the 2013 NDAA, which is the subject of the first article I quoted:

International evaluation expertise promotes public diplomacy.

Social Solutions is entering the second year of a five year contract funded by the Department of State (DoS) to provide evaluation and performance measurement expertise and leadership to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The ECA serves both as a critical element and extension of the State Department’s traditional diplomacy function. The diversity of programming, activities, thematic emphases and content, participants, and program goals enables ECA to realize its overarching Public Diplomacy and Citizen Diplomacy goals: fostering mutual understanding and forging linkages between citizens and institutions in the U.S. and overseas. The Evaluation Division in ECA’s Office of Policy and Evaluation (ECA/P) serves as the locus of program evaluation and performance measurement functions for ECA’s programs and for the Bureau as a whole.  It provides critical performance measurement and evaluative data – both qualitative and quantitative – to Senior Managers in ECA and the DoS as part of annual or occasional USG mandated strategic planning and performance measurement exercises. It also provides performance data on highly visible initiatives and offers analysis and reports on the data collected.

http://www.socialsolutions.biz/cms/index.php

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Congress, security state, State Dept/diplomacy

 

Jeh Johnson to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security.

“Johnson won confirmation 78-16. He could be sworn in as early as this week in order to begin immediately tackling some departmental priorities including stiffening border security, upgrading airport protections and improving immigration enforcement operations.”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/16/jeh-johnson-confirmed-as-new-homeland-security-chief/

It’s kind of hard to imagine who would be a good person to head the agency with the Gestapo-like moniker and duties of the Department of  Homeland Security. so why should we object to Jeh?  Heck, why should we object to the DHS at all?

That the DHS, which was allocated $47 bb for its 2012 budget, cannot pass an audit is irrelevant.  We are only talking about taxpayer dollars here, not, y’know, money that needs any sort of real accounting.  Just ask the Pentagon.  KPMG, the independent auditor of the DHS, was unable to give an audit opinion of the DHS books in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, or 2009.  Their reports for ’04 and ’06, supposedly available on the DHS website, are not actually available (one gets a “404 error”).  For fiscal year 2010, KPMG couldn’t even begin an audit, as the DHS books were such a mess.  Despite that, the chief financial officer of DHS issued this message on its 2010 “report”: ” This Annual Financial Report (AFR) is our principal financial statement of accountability to the President, Congress and the American public. The AFR gives a comprehensive view of the Department’s financial activities and demonstrates the Department’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”   The message from the DHS CFO concludes “I am extremely proud of the Department’s accomplishments … we will continue to build upon our successes.”  [http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/cfo-afrfy2010.pdf]

Janet Napolitano’s (then the secretary of DHS) note on the 2010 report ended with these words; “[the DHS] is ‘continuing to be responsible stewards of taxpayer resources. The scope of our mission is broad, challenging, and vital to the security of the Nation … Thank you for your partnership and collaboration. Yours very truly, Janet Napolitano”   [http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/cfo-afrfy2010.pdf]

Full disclosure: I have never personally collaborated with the fucking DHS, but appreciate that Janet took the time to thank those who have.

Since its inception under George W. Bush, the DHS has given us such delights as the TSA and fusion centers, has been steadily militarizing our local police forces, claimed the right to (illegally) confiscate laptops and electronics at our borders, and open our personal mail.

David Rittgers (Cato Institute) wrote an article about the fusion centers in 2011, mentioning:

[…] a long line of fusion center and DHS reports labeling broad swaths of the public as a threat to national security. The North Texas Fusion System labeled Muslim lobbyists as a potential threat; a DHS analyst in Wisconsin thought both pro- and anti-abortion activists were worrisome; a Pennsylvania homeland security contractor watched environmental activists, Tea Party groups, and a Second Amendment rally; the Maryland State Police put anti-death penalty and anti-war activists in a federal terrorism database; a fusion center in Missouri thought that all third-party voters and Ron Paul supporters were a threat….”

http://www.cato.org/blog/were-all-terrorists-now

Regarding our private mail, there’s this:

‘All mail originating outside the United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside the U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination,’ says the CBP [Customs and Border Protection] Web site. That includes personal correspondence. “All mail means ‘all mail,’” said John Mohan, a CBP spokesman, emphasizing the point. […]

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10740935/ns/us_news-security/

DHS feels it has the right to simply seize our possessions at border crossings, Bill of Rights notwithstanding, because of  “terrorists” and “child pornographers”  – and can do so based on the “hunches” of DHS employees.

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — U.S. border agents should continue to be allowed to search a traveler’s laptop, cellphone or other electronic device and keep copies of any data on them based on no more than a hunch, according to an internal Homeland Security Department study. It contends limiting such searches would prevent the U.S. from detecting child pornographers or terrorists and expose the government to lawsuits.

The 23-page report, obtained by The Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, provides a rare glimpse of the Obama administration’s thinking on the long-standing but controversial practice of border agents and immigration officers searching and in some cases holding for weeks or months the digital devices of anyone trying to enter the U.S.

Since his election, President Barack Obama has taken an expansive view of legal authorities in the name of national security, asserting that he can order the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism without involvement by courts, investigate reporters as criminals and — in this case — read and copy the contents of computers carried by U.S. travelers without a good reason to suspect wrongdoing.

Related: Obama Administration Defends ‘Daily’ Collection Of US Citizen Phone Records

The DHS study, dated December 2011, said the border searches do not violate the First or Fourth amendments, which prohibit restrictions on speech and unreasonable searches and seizures. It specifically objected to a tougher standard in a 1986 government policy that allowed for only cursory review of a traveler’s documents.

“We do not believe that this 1986 approach, or a reasonable suspicion requirement in any other form, would improve current policy,” the report said. “Officers might hesitate to search an individual’s device without the presence of articulable factors capable of being formally defended, despite having an intuition or hunch based on experience that justified a search.” It added: “An on-the-spot perusal of electronic devices following the procedures established in 1986 could well result in a delay of days or weeks.”

The Homeland Security report was prepared by its Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/06/05/dept-of-homeland-security-laptops-phones-can-be-searched-based-on-hunches/

Getting back to Jeh, the new head of the DHS, President Obama heaped profuse praise on him, no doubt in part simply because one of his nominees finally made it through the Congressional gauntlet.  Perhaps also because Jeh gave a whole lot of money to Obama’s campaigns.  Also because terrorists.

[…] “In Jeh, our dedicated homeland security professionals will have a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure,” President Barack Obama said in a statement praising the bipartisan vote.

“As secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh will play a leading role in our efforts to protect the homeland against terrorist attacks, adapt to changing threats, stay prepared for natural disasters, strengthen our border security, and make our immigration system fairer.”

As the Pentagon’s top lawyer, Johnson was responsible for a prior legal review of every military operation ordered by the president or the defense secretary.

In October, when he announced his nomination, Obama said Johnson was an “absolutely critical” member of his national security team and had been at the heart of many of the policies that have kept America safe. […]

DHS is an amalgamation of 22 separate agencies with 240,000 employees, and critics have argued that the department is in disarray.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/16/jeh-johnson-confirmed-as-new-homeland-security-chief/

Jeh, you might remember, was the Obama advisor who opined that it was acceptable for the president to target Americans in drone strikes.

“… Johnson also suggested that U.S. citizens could be targeted in strikes in a February 2012 speech at Yale Law School…Johnson’s role in drone policy at the Defense Department could play into the Department of Homeland Security’s quest to build up a fleet of domestic drones, including Predator drones, with ‘nonlethal weapons’ …”  http://www.nationaljournal.com/national-security/meet-jeh-johnson-drone-lawyer-and-obama-s-homeland-security-nominee-20131017)

So, yeah, that’s who should be directing internal security policies in the US – the guy who advises the President on his illegal drone assassination program and who declared that it was acceptable for the Pres and his secret cabal to target Americans (amongst others) for drone-bombing if the secret group decided, in secret, that the person in question was a “belligerent” – the definition of which is secret, of course.  And it’s okay to kill that person (American or otherwise) without charges being brought, an arrest taking place, or an ensuing trial.

Doesn’t take too much imagination to grasp what Jeh’s DHS will look like.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 17, 2013 in civil rights, drones, security state

 

Snowden denied clemency.

And “espionage” is a French word, which proves the French spy on everyone, too.

From the Free Online Dictionary:
es·pi·o·nage  (sp–näzh, -nj) n.
The act or practice of spying or of using spies to obtain secret information, as about another government or a business competitor.  [French espionnage, from espionner, to spy, from Old French espion, spy, from Old Italian spione, of Germanic origin; see spek- in Indo-European roots.]

The White House and leading lawmakers have rejected Edward Snowden’s plea for clemency and said he should return to the United States to face trial….

Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama administration adviser, said on Sunday the NSA whistleblower’s request was not under consideration and that he should face criminal charges for leaking classified information. Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, respectively the heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees, maintained the same tough line and accused Snowden of damaging US interests.

The former NSA employee this week appealed for clemency and an opportunity to address members of Congress about US surveillance. […]

Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, remained implacable. “He’s done this enormous disservice to our country. I think the answer is ‘no clemency’,” she told CBS’s Face the Nation.

The former NSA contractor could have blown the whistle on excesses by contacting the House and Senate intelligence committees, Feinstein said. “We would certainly have seen him … and looked at that information. That didn’t happen.” […]

The House intelligence committee chairman [Mike Rogers] said pressure to rein in surveillance risked repeating previous curbs which had disastrous consequences.

“We did this in the 1930s and … that led to a whole bunch of misunderstandings that led to World War II that killed millions and millions of people. We did the same darn thing that led up to the [9/11] Osama bin Laden effort.”

Rogers scorned European protestations over US spying as theatrical, saying US allies did plenty spying themselves: “I think there’s going to be some best actor awards coming out of the White House this year, and best supporting actor awards coming out of the European Union.”

He added: “Espionage is a French word, after all.” […]

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/11/03/white-house-rejects-snowden-clemency-request/

So Congress would have listened to Snowden with polite attention had he come to them before (oh, really?  anyone buying this shit?), but now, not so much.  Now they would like to put him in solitary confinement next to Chelsea (Bradley) Manning.  No soup for you, Snowden.  Interesting how the exact same information that might have been considered useful and interesting a scant few months ago is now considered treasonous.

I was intrigued by Mike Rogers’ (head of the House Intelligence [sic] Committee) comments regarding WWII and bin Laden and so looked up the full transcript for yesterday’s “Face the Nation”, which I had not viewed when it aired.

From transcript of  3 Nov., 2013 “Face the Nation”; Mike Rogers talking to Bob Schieffer:

ROGERS: “[…] And here’s the problem, Bob. We did this in the 1930s. We turned it off. In 1929, secretary of State at that time, where they were collecting information to protect America said, you know, we shouldn’t do this. This is unseemly. They turned it off. Well, that led to a whole bunch of misunderstanding that led to World War II, that killed millions and millions of people. We did the same darned thing leading up to the Osama bin Laden effort, where we didn’t want to talk to each other, we didn’t coordinate intelligence activities, we didn’t want to get certain things. And it led to 9/11, that took the lives of 3,000 Americans. […]”

I think Rogers has missed out on a few years of reporting about the whole 9/11, bin Laden scenario.  Without getting into any deeper questions about bin Laden’s known ties to our CIA (Snowden himself, ironically or not, also worked for the CIA) or the serious and obvious canards in the official Congressional 9/11 report, Rogers must be aware that it came out very shortly after 9/11 that then-President Bush had, in fact, been given reliable intelligence about the plot and had shrugged it off.  He refused to act on it – the problem was not that the US spy apparatus had been “turned off”.  God only knows what Rogers means by the WWII reference.

Later in the show, Schieffer talks to David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the NYT:

“SCHIEFFER: And back to the David, what happens now on this NSA, as these revelations continue to come out?

“SANGER: Well, there are two reviews that are under way. One is internal to the White House. The White House has said very little about it. Then there’s an external one of five former members of the intel community, some legal scholars who are supposed to report by the middle of December and say that report will be quite public. But I think what you’re discovering right now is that the White House is standing firm on the domestic collection of this bulk data about all the phone calls we all make. I think, in the foreign arena, the Angela Merkel kind of interceptions, you’re going to see far more oversight.

And I think that’s, sort of, what you were hearing when you heard Senator Feinstein today issue those complaints. I don’t know how widespread her view is.  But my guess is it’s going to be increasingly difficult to justify doing this kind of surveillance on allies who you need as partners in not only intelligence collection but making sure that our cybersystems are safe.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57610589/face-the-nation-transcripts-november-3-2013-feinstein-rogers-hayden/

There is no intention of curtailing the massive collection of all of our communications.  In fact, Feinstein and Rogers, both mentioned above, are jointly working on a bill – soon to be introduced to Congress – which will “explicitly legalize mass surveillance”.  – http://www.defendingdissent.org/now/judiciary-vs-intelligence/

But that is the point, really.  There will be no “debate” amongst the public, the politicians, and the governmental spy agencies – and the NSA is merely one of the dozens of agencies keeping close tabs on our movements and utterances, don’t forget – the point is that now you know for sure what you may have simply suspected before.  If you are aware of this whole NSA data-collection thing, and a surprising number of Americans are blithely ignorant of it, you will be more careful in what you write or say in public.  This serves to keep the dissidents in line and to effectively shut up the more timid who might otherwise be tempted to object.  And when they distort your emails or phone calls to charge you with “suspicious activities”, you can’t say you didn’t know they were collecting your private data.  You’re being warned: you are being watched as closely as any other “terrorist”.  They want you to know that.  It is a simple, but very efficient, method of intimidation.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on November 4, 2013 in civil rights, Congress, security state

 

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