Articles by Keith Lampe
What mankind has done in his infinite stupidity, with his extreme hydrocarbon addiction and fossil-fuel-induced global warming, has opened a giant, long-standing (Permian to Recent) geopressured, mantle methane pressure-release safety valve (Enrico Pv Anomaly Extreme Methane Emission Zone) for gases generated between 100 km and 300 km depth and temperatures above 1200°C in the asthenosphere (Figures 4, 6, 12 and 15).
XL Dissent: ‘We Are Building a Culture of Resistance’
This Sunday, over one thousand young people will descend on the White House. By the end of the day, hundreds of them, most of them students at more than 200 colleges and universities, will be arrested. There’s something happening here.
Just days after a U.S. State Department review determined that ERM, an oil industry contractor and dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute, was capable of an unbiased review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, hundreds of youth activists will be risking arrest outside the White House as part of XL Dissent. Their objective is to secure a rejection of the climate-killing Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to hold President Obama accountable for his campaign promise to safeguard climate stability by “end(ing) the tyranny of oil.”
The stakes are high for both Obama’s Democratic Party and for these young people. Many commentators are quick to point out a well-worn political calculus: millennials helped elect Obama, and his party’s success relies on their continued support (youth delivered 80 electoral votes for Obama in 2012, enough to swing the election in his favor). Indeed, many core XL Dissent student organizers cast their first votes for Obama in 2012. One student organizer took a year off college to work on his campaign. She’ll be risking arrest this Sunday.
Clearly, there’s a lot more at stake for the XL Dissenters than midterm vote counts. As the students are quick to point out, their very future is on the line. According to Evan Bell (Tufts ‘15), the prospect of Obama approving Keystone XL “horrifies me. I’m afraid the climate won’t support me, won’t support my children.” President Obama and D.C. policymakers need to take a hard look at who police will arrest this Sunday. Many of them were too young to vote in the 2012 election. Some of those arrested will still be in high school. XL Dissent should give Obama pause, and force the president to consider who loses if Big Oil wins. He should see his own daughters in the faces of those who are arrested at his doorstep this weekend.
There’s a watershed quality to XL Dissent. While opposition to Keystone XL has been spurred by grassroots and indigenous resistance (see Tar Sands Blockade, Ogalala Sioux and others), national environmental organizations have played a major role in coordinating D.C. movement gatherings. XL Dissent is different, then, because it was conceived and organized from below, by the students themselves. As Evan Bell told me, “Every decision, message point, and recruitment effort has been led by a young person.”
What’s more, these students are on a more radical footing than beltway organizations. Aly Johnson-Kurts (Smith ’16) told me “civil disobedience is necessary because of huge corporate power. The inside game isn’t going to work.”
More and more, these young people are placing their hope in distributed networks of resistance, rather than in a president who ran on hope as a platform. They’re hovering in a space between fear, anger, and radical hope. They know their futures are on the line and feel more accountable to each other and frontline communities than elected politicians. “We’re building a culture of resistance,” Evan Bell told me.
Thank goodness for XL Dissent. I know where my climate hope lies: with the dissenters. Go to www.xldissent.org to read about the action, donate, and see the faces of the XL Disent. And be sure to follow the action this Sunday.
PS – One way to back up the students risking arrest at XL Dissent this weekend is to pledge to match their commitment. Sign the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance and join the civil disobedience movement to stop the pipeline.
Marchers Embark on Cross-Country Climate Trek
Rally in Los Angeles kicks off longest march in climate history
In what is expected to be the longest climate march in United States history, environmentalists determined to “change the heart and mind of America” and spur action to address the climate crisis set off on a cross country trek Saturday.
Kicking off the march with a rally at the Los Angeles harbor, demonstrators with the Great March for Climate Action were joined by supporters which ranged from nurses to indigenous groups to Hollywood film actors. The first leg of the march runs 17.5 miles, from the harbor in Wilmington to Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles.
The goal of the march, the group writes, “is to change the heart and mind of America and its elected leaders to act NOW to address the climate crisis.”
The journey, which culminates in Washington DC on November 1, 2014, runs through the center of the country. Organizers are inviting residents from all cities along the way to join the walk or visit the March Camp. Thus far, 235 people have pledged to be full-time marchers; they hail from 36 states and 6 countries.
Ahead of the march, Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz said Los Angeles was a particularly poignant place to begin because of the ongoing and devastating drought which has plagued much of California. “The drought is LA’s Pearl Harbor moment. These marchers are my heroes, carrying forth our message: We need climate action and we need it now,” hesaid.
You can follow the marchers and see highlights from the rally in Los Angeles on Twitter:
Weather Update March 2 2014 With Dane Wigington
Produced By John Massaria – NO COPYRIGHTS PLEASE COPY AND SHARE
Sherborne researcher calls for halt to weather manipulation
By j-norman | Posted: February 28, 2014
A RESEARCHER from Sherborne is calling for a halt to geoengineering.
Geoengineering is the science of modifying weather to moderate global warming, and doctoral researcher David Lim is among a growing number of scientists who believe the government is currently influencing the weather without public consent.
David’s recent talk, Increases in Extreme Weather, Food Prices and Illness: The Unspoken Connection, drew a large crowd to Trent Village Hall.
“I only expected 25 people at my talk, but I wasn’t prepared to see people standing against the walls trying to listen. In total, 85 people attended – it was a very encouraging response,” he said.
David showed video footage and photographs of aircraft leaving persistent contrails over Dorset, engineering patents, academic papers, political documents, rain water test results and NASA studies.
He explained that one method of geoengineering method involves spraying chemicals into the atmosphere from aircraft to reflect sunlight back out into space.
“Many locals were aware of persistent aeroplane contrails, but thought they were normal,” he explained.
“Having presented the basic concepts, circumstantial evidence and controversial perspectives surrounding climate change, I hope that others can now begin to start questioning what is happening above our heads,” he said.
“When you help people connect the dots with this body of research, they usually start to take notice. The negative health impacts associated with these chemicals usually hits home.”
David is co-founding The International Directive to Ban Geoengineering (www.idbg.org) and is seeking volunteers to lend assistance.
“I am actively seeking reliable volunteers to help me with our organisation in putting an end to weather modification and geoengineering,” he said.
David is also offering to repeat his talk for other communities who wish to explore the geoengineering issue. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education
The ultra-right Svoboda Party has scored six major cabinet ministries in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday. Svoboda is the Neo-Nazi, ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the Western Ukraine.
The most important post was claimed by a co-founder of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy. He was named Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, which supervises the defense ministry and the armed forces.
The Parubiy appointment to such an important post should, alone, be cause for international outrage. He led the masked Right Sector thugs who battled riot police in the Independence Maidan in Kiev.
The Right Sector is an openly fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian organization. Most of the snipers and bomb throwers in the crowds were connected with this group.
Right Sector members have been participating in military training camps for the last two years or more in preparation for street activity of the kind witnessed in the Ukraine over the last few months.
The Right Sector, as can be seen by the appointment of Parubiy, is now in a position to control major appointments to the provisional government and has succeeded in achieving its long time goal of legalizing discrimination against Russians. The new parliament has passed legislation that declares Russian speakers no longer have equal rights with Ukrainians.
He is also associated with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland Party. Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in parliament, was named Parubiy’s deputy. These appointments of open fascists to control of the armed forces are particularly alarming given the possibility of provocations against the Russian naval base in Sevastopol.
Oleksandr Sych, a Svoboda parliamentarian from Ivano-Frankivsk best known for his attempts to ban all abortions in Ukraine, including those resulting from rape, was named deputy prime minister for economic affairs. Svoboda was also rewarded with the Education Ministry under Serhiy Kvit, as well as the Ecology Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry under Andriy Makhnyk and Ihor Shvaiko, respectively.
Earlier in the week Svoboda member of parliament Oleh Makhnitsky was named prosecutor-general of the Ukraine.
Others with ultra-right associations with the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) also received cabinet posts. Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov, known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.
Yaysenuyk’s Fatherland Party, and figures close to it, obtained ten cabinet posts, including deputy prime minister for EU integration, interior, justice, energy, infrastructure, defense, culture, social issues, and a minister without portfolio. Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life.
In a society where oligarchs play such an important political and economic role it is unsurprising that Volodymyr Groysman, mayor of Vinnytsa and close associate of oligarch Petro Poroshenko, was chosen as deputy prime minister for regional affairs. Groysman was also close to former President Viktor Yushchenko. The new finance minister, Oleksander Shlapak, is a representative of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy, the second wealthiest man in the Ukraine.
The remaining cabinet posts went to technocrats, a doctor who organized medical services for the Maidan protestors, and a retired police general.
The interim cabinet matches exactly the government which U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland recommended in her intercepted call with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev where she revealed the U.S. plan for a coup in Ukraine.
Vitali Klitschko and his UDAR party are excluded, likely because of their close relationship with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party receives the majority of portfolios. And as Nuland demanded, so long as Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok did not receive a major cabinet post, Svoboda could receive several ministries.
In the eyes of many these facts are indicative of U.S. involvement in what has essentially been a coup against the elected government of the Ukraine.
In other developments in Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych was reported to be in Moscow, where it was announced that he was receiving protection from the Russian security service because of threats on his life by political “extremists.”
He will reportedly appear at a press conference in Rostov-on-Don later today. Clashes between the Crimean Tartar minority and ethnic Russians occurred outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol, while armed pro-Russian demonstrators continued to hold the parliament building itself.
WW3 Update: Ukraine Flagship Switches Sides, USS George Bush Carrier Group On Alert, Ukrainian Troops On The Move
Ukrainian Navy flagship takes Russia’s side – report. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister Ukraine’s self-imposed government, had earlier asked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to let the frigate through the Bosporus strait, according to the Kiev Times. The ship captain and the head of Ukraine’s contingent in the operation, Rear Admiral Andrey Tarasov disobeyed orders from Kiev. Source
Great Britain & Canada recalls its Russian ambassadors
Myroslava Petsa @myroslavapetsa · 23m
#Ukraine’s Nat Security&Defense Council announces mobilization, men start receiving calls from military enlistment offices
@EuromaidanPR: URGENT: General mobilisation in #Ukraine will start at 8am on 2 March
Rami @RamiAlLolah 1m
#BreakingNews #US Navy USS George Bush nuclear aircraft carrier declares high alert in the #Mediterranean. #Syria #Ukraine #Russia
UPDATE: Ukrainian Ambassador to UN claims 15,000 Russian Troops Now in Crimea
Two Russian anti-submarine warships have appeared off the coast of Ukraine’s Crimea region, violating an agreement on Moscow’s lease of a naval base, Interfax news agency quoted a Ukrainian military source as saying. The source said the two vessels, part of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, had been sighted in a bay at Sevastopol, where Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet has a base. – Rueters (Remember Russia has 2 more ships from the Med. Sea squadron coming to Sevastopol as well)
These are all the major developments in the last several hours in the situation that feels like nothing short than the beginning of the third world war. It is expected that Russia will invade the Eastern and Southern Ukraine in the next 24 hours. That’s not confirmed information that is just the vibe I’m getting as well as others are getting from the events that are unfolding. The video of the huge Russian convoy is evidence to that end. As is the general mobilisation called for by the Rebel leaders. The defection of the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy is a huge blow, I would think, to rebel Ukrainian morale.
The first hand accounts of pro-Russian civilians blocking, or trying to block rather, Ukrainian military convoys heading to crimea is troubling and also leads one to think that military confrontation is not too far off in the future. I am flabbergasted by the continuing escalation to be honest. Putin I believe has the absolute moral high ground in this conflict. The EU and US will not admit their involvement in Ukrainian affairs in relation to the coup and play the line that Ukrainian just want their freedom. We KNOW they were caught meddling in their affairs when the taped phone call was released by Russia saying exactly that, the US and EU were choosing a sucesor before Yanukovych hadeven left Kiev! It’s absolute hypocrisy on the part of the West and Russia, as they have stated,has every right to defend their interests and their citizens. I will continue to update and keep you informed on events. If and when something majo rhappens, youwill bethe first to know, stay tuned! -Mort
Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many?
Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative “regime changers” of Official Washington and their sophomoric “responsibility-to-protect” (R2P) allies in the Obama administration? Have they dangerously over-reached by pushing the putsch that removed duly-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has given an unmistakable “yes” to those questions – in deeds, not words. His message is clear: “Back off our near-frontier!”
President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Moscow announced on Saturday that Russia’s parliament has approved Putin’s request for permission to use Russia’s armed forces “on the territory of the Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country.”
Putin described this move as necessary to protect ethnic Russians and military personnel stationed in Crimea in southern Ukraine, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet and other key military installations are located. But there is no indication that the Russian parliament has restricted the use of Russian armed forces to the Crimea.
Unless Obama is completely bereft of advisers who know something about Russia, it should have been a “known-known” (pardon the Rumsfeldian mal mot) that the Russians would react this way to a putsch removing Yanukovich. It would have been a no-brainer that Russia would use military force, if necessary, to counter attempts to use economic enticement and subversive incitement to slide Ukraine into the orbit of the West and eventually NATO.
This was all the more predictable in the case of Ukraine, where Putin – although the bête noire in corporate Western media – holds very high strategic cards geographically, militarily, economically and politically.
Unlike ‘Prague Spring’ 1968
Moscow’s advantage was not nearly as clear during the short-lived “Prague Spring” of 1968 when knee-jerk, non-thinking euphoria reigned in Washington and West European capitals. The cognoscenti were, by and large, smugly convinced that reformer Alexander Dubcek could break Czechoslovakia away from the U.S.S.R.’s embrace and still keep the Russian bear at bay.
My CIA analyst portfolio at the time included Soviet policy toward Eastern Europe, and I was amazed to see analysts of Eastern Europe caught up in the euphoria that typically ended with, “And the Soviets can’t do a damned thing about it!”
That summer a new posting found me advising Radio Free Europe Director Ralph Walter who, virtually alone among his similarly euphoric colleagues, shared my view that Russian tanks would inevitably roll onto Prague’s Wenceslaus Square, which they did in late August.
Past is not always prologue. But it is easy for me to imagine the Russian Army cartographic agency busily preparing maps of the best routes for tanks into Independence Square in Kiev, and that before too many months have gone by, Russian tank commanders may be given orders to invade, if those stoking the fires of violent dissent in the western parts of Ukraine keep pushing too far.
That said, Putin has many other cards to play and time to play them. These include sitting back and doing nothing, cutting off Russia’s subsidies to Ukraine, making it ever more difficult for Yanukovich’s successors to cope with the harsh realities. And Moscow has ways to remind the rest of Europe of its dependence on Russian oil and gas.
There is one huge difference between Prague in 1968 and Kiev 2014. The “Prague Spring” revolution led by Dubcek enjoyed such widespread spontaneous popular support that it was difficult for Russian leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Aleksey Kosygin to argue plausibly that it was spurred by subversion from the West.
Not so 45-plus years later. In early February, as violent protests raged in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and the White House professed neutrality, U.S. State Department officials were, in the words of NYU professor emeritus of Russian studies Stephen Cohen, “plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine.”
We know that thanks to neocon prima donna Victoria Nuland, now Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, who seemed intent on giving new dimension to the “cookie-pushing” role of U.S. diplomats. Recall the photo showing Nuland in a metaphor of over-reach, as she reached deep into a large plastic bag to give each anti-government demonstrator on the square a cookie before the putsch.
More important, recall her amateurish, boorish use of an open telephone to plot regime change in Ukraine with a fellow neocon, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. Crass U.S. interference in Ukrainian affairs can be seen (actually, better, heard) in an intercepted conversation posted on YouTube on Feb. 4.
Yikes! It’s Yats!
Nuland was recorded as saying: “Yats is the guy. He’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy you know. … Yats will need all the help he can get to stave off collapse in the ex-Soviet state. He has warned there is an urgent need for unpopular cutting of subsidies and social payments before Ukraine can improve.”
And guess what. The stopgap government formed after the coup designated Nuland’s guy Yats, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, prime minister! What luck! Yats is 39 and has served as head of the central bank, foreign minister and economic minister. And, as designated pinch-hitter-prime-minister, he has already talked about the overriding need for “responsible government,” one willing to commit “political suicide,” as he put it, by taking unpopular social measures.
U.S. meddling has been so obvious that at President Barack Obama’s hastily scheduled Friday press conference on Ukraine, Yats’s name seemed to get stuck in Obama’s throat. Toward the end of his scripted remarks, which he read verbatim, the President said: “Vice President Biden just spoke with Prime Minister [pause] – the prime minister of Ukraine to assure him that in this difficult moment the United States supports his government’s efforts and stands for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future of Ukraine.”
Obama doesn’t usually stumble like that – especially when reading a text, and is normally quite good at pronouncing foreign names. Perhaps he worried that one of the White House stenographic corps might shout out, “You mean our man, Yats?” Obama departed right after reading his prepared remarks, leaving no opportunity for such an outburst.
Western media was abuzz with the big question: Will the Russians apply military force? The answer came quickly, though President Obama chose the subjunctive mood in addressing the question on Friday.
Throwing Down a Hanky
There was a surreal quality to President Obama’s remarks, several hours after Russian (or pro-Russian) troops took control of key airports and other key installations in the Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, and home to a large Russian naval base and other key Russian military installations.
Obama referred merely to “reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine” and warned piously that “any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing.”
That Obama chose the subjunctive mood – when the indicative was, well, indicated – will not be lost on the Russians. Here was Obama, in his typically lawyerly way, trying to square the circle, giving a sop to his administration’s neocon holdovers and R2P courtiers, with a Milquetoasty expression of support for the new-Nuland-approved government (citing Biden’s assurances to old whatshisname/yatshisname).
While Obama stuck to the subjunctive tense, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk appealed to Russia to recall its forces and “stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.”
Obama’s comments seemed almost designed to sound condescending – paternalistic, even – to the Russians. Already into his second paragraph of his scripted remarks, the President took a line larded with words likely to be regarded as a gratuitous insult by Moscow, post-putsch.
“We’ve made clear that they [Russian officials] can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of the people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.”
By now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is accustomed to Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, et al. telling the Kremlin where its interests lie, and I am sure he is appropriately grateful. Putin is likely to read more significance into these words of Obama:
“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine … and we will continue to coordinate closely with our European allies.”
Fissures in Atlantic Alliance
There are bound to be fissures in the international community and in the Western alliance on whether further provocation in Ukraine is advisable. Many countries have much to lose if Moscow uses its considerable economic leverage over natural gas supplies, for example.
And, aspiring diplomat though she may be, Victoria Nuland presumably has not endeared herself to the EC by her expressed “Fuck the EC” attitude.
Aside from the most servile allies of the U.S. there may be a growing caucus of Europeans who would like to return the compliment to Nuland. After all does anyone other than the most extreme neocon ideologue think that instigating a civil war on the border of nuclear-armed Russia is a good idea? Or that it makes sense to dump another economic basket case, which Ukraine surely is, on the EU’s doorstep while it’s still struggling to get its own economic house in order?
Europe has other reasons to feel annoyed about the overreach of U.S. power and arrogance. The NSA spying revelations – that continue, just like the eavesdropping itself does – seem to have done some permanent damage to transatlantic relationships.
In any case, Obama presumably knows by now that he pleased no one on Friday by reading that flaccid statement on Ukraine. And, more generally, the sooner he realizes that – without doing dumb and costly things – he can placate neither the neocons nor the R2P folks (naively well meaning though the latter may be), the better for everyone.
In sum, the Nulands of this world have bit off far more than they can chew; they need to be reined in before they cause even more dangerous harm. Broader issues than Ukraine are at stake. Like it or not, the United States can benefit from a cooperative relationship with Putin’s Russia – the kind of relationship that caused Putin to see merit last summer in pulling Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire on Syria, for example, and in helping address thorny issues with Iran.
Major Nuclear Dump Has Leaked, But Does US Gov’t Have a Plan B?
Experts warn that troubled repository does not bode well for U.S. strategy for disposal of waste from nuclear weapons development
A radioactive leak from a New Mexico underground nuclear dump that was championed as a safe long-term repository calls into question the federal government’s overall approach to disposing of dangerous waste from nuclear weapons production, experts warn.
“This leak just proved that out of sight is not out of mind,” said Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer and nuclear safety advocate at Fairewinds Associates and former nuclear industry executive turned whistleblower, in an interview with Common Dreams. “You can have a problem when you get this stuff underground, and then what do you do?”
The federally-owned Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico, which stores nuclear waste deep beneath the earth’s surface in salt formations, is the only underground repository for materials above the lowest level of radiation. It is the bedrock of the U.S. government’s current approach to dispose of military-generated plutonium-contaminated transuranic waste from decades of nuclear bomb production and testing. Since it became operational in 1999, WIPP has collected this waste from across the United States, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.
The Department of Energy declares on their website that “WIPP has set the standard for safe, permanent disposal of long-lived radioactive defense wastes.”
Yet, this standard has been called into question since a series of mishaps forced the facility to halt its operations. On February 5th, a vehicle caught on fire underground, forcing the evacuation of the facility and sending six workers to the hospital with smoke inhalation-related injuries. On February 14th, an alarm detected a suspected radiation leak which has since been confirmed to have released radioactive particles into the air.
The DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor that operates WIPP, admit that they do not yet know what caused the leak or what its health impacts will be. The DOEannounced Wednesday that 13 workers tested positive for radiation, yet they say many more tests are needed and the number of people contaminated could rise.
At a packed town meeting in nearby Carlsbad earlier this week, residents expressed concern about the leak, with some vocalizing skepticism over WIPP officials’ claims that radiation levels and health risks are low. New Mexico residents have long complained that WIPP, as well as nuclear waste transport across the state, puts local communities at risk, including the Native American reservations, school districts, and highways the waste passes through en route to the repository.
Meanwhile, the halt in WIPP operations is leaving waste stranded across the United States, “including the last of nearly 4,000 barrels of toxic waste that Los Alamos National Laboratories has been ordered to remove from its campus by the end of June,” theAssociated Press reports.
“This is a very significant failure,” said Don Hancock, Director of the Nuclear Waste Program at the Southwest Research and Information Center, in an interview with Common Dreams. “Does this mean geologic repositories will never work? No. It just means they haven’t worked yet.”
Gundersen says that the U.S. government “does not really have a strategy” for safely disposing of the massive amount of nuclear waste that has already been generated, let alone the waste produced by current and future nuclear production. “The strategy is really just to put the waste wherever they can,” he said.
“We’ve generated an enormous amount of waste already,” added Gundersen. “It’s like buying a house and having the carpenter promise to put in a toilet in 100 years. This has been the American policy approach.”
Permission to Abuse Animals: Idaho’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Bill Signed into Law
New law will allow “animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination to flourish undetected, unchallenged, and unaddressed.”
Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law on Friday legislation that criminalizes those who secretly document abuse of animals at agricultural facilities.
The widely opposed bill, SB 1337, came about following an undercover videoreleased by animal welfare group Mercy for Animals that showed workers torturing cows.
The bill had the backing of the state’s $2.5 billion dairy industry.
Otter issued a statement that “Senate Bill 1337 is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood.”
But as journalist and Green Is the New Red author Will Potter explained, the bill means “the whistleblowers who exposed the cruelty face criminal penalties worse than those who committed the abuse.”
Mercy For Animals founder and executive director Nathan Runkle denounced Otter’s signing of the bill, stating that the “new law will now throw shut the doors to industrial factory farms and allow animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination to flourish undetected, unchallenged, and unaddressed.”
The so-called ag-gag law will “perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply,” Runkle stated. “This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.”
Major Oil City Takes Groundbreaking Step Against Fracking in City Limits
LA Councilmember: ‘Until chemicals are disclosed and problems are honestly reported, until we’re safe from earthquakes, until our atmosphere is safe from methane leaks, we need a fracking moratorium.’
Los Angeles is primed to become the first oil-producing city in California and the largest city in the United States to place a moratorium on fracking.
The Los Angeles city council unanimously voted Friday on a draft ordinance that prohibits “well stimulation” by hydraulic fracturing, acidizing and other controversial oil and gas drilling methods.
“Until these radical methods of oil and gas extraction are at the very least covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, until chemicals are disclosed and problems are honestly reported, until we’re safe from earthquakes, until our atmosphere is safe from methane leaks, we need a fracking moratorium,” Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the motion along with Councilmember Mike Bonin, told a cheering crowd before the meeting.
As is the case all over the United States, drilling in Los Angeles largely affects minority populations since most extraction occurs in Latino- and African American-dominated neighborhoods
“Today is the beginning of justice for all Los Angeles communities facing these wells,” saidMonic Uriarte, a resident of the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation—whose campaign People Not Pozos bussed 50 residents to City Hall for the vote.
“For years, the University Park neighborhood has been assaulted by Allenco Energy Corporation’s toxic emissions from their oil extraction activities. We were getting sick from the emissions, with health symptoms including spontaneous nose bleeding, headaches, asthma, and much more. No one should live in the shadow of an oil well,” Uriarte continued.
The moratorium motion now goes before the city attorney’s office to be written as a zoning ordinance and will then return to council for a final vote.
Fracking Destroys the Environment and Poisons the Air We Breathe
”Shortly after operations began, we started to experience extreme headaches, runny noses, sore/scratchy throats, muscle aches and a constant feeling of fatigue. Both of our children are experiencing nose bleeds and I’ve had dizziness, vomiting and vertigo to the point that I couldn’t stand and was taken to an emergency room. Our daughter has commented that she feels as though she has cement in her bones.”Pam Judy 20 July 2011 – Carmichaels Pennsylvania resident
In 2006 Pam Judy and her family had a new home built on their farm. For three years Pam and her family enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the countryside. However, in 2009 that all changed when a gas compressor station was built 780 feet from her home. Within a short space of time Pam and her family were unable to spend time outside any more as they came down with all sorts of mysterious health problems.
In November 2010 Pam’s son went outside and came home with blisters in his mouth and had extreme difficulty swallowing which led to a visit to the nearby hospital.
This led Pam to conduct research into emissions from compressor stations. She then contacted Calvin Tillman Mayor of Dish in Texas where many people had experienced similar health problems. Mayor Tillman provided Pam with a list of blood and urine tests to determine levels of chemical exposure. The results of the tests revealed measurable levels of benzene and phenol in her blood.
Pam was determined to force the authorities to take action that would protect her family. In June 2010 she persuaded the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to carry out air quality tests over four days on her land. The results revealed the presence of 16 chemicals, including benzene, which are all known carcinogens.
In November 2010 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released a final report into air pollution in the area where Pam Judy and her family live. The report stated that the Department ”could find no emission levels that would constitute a concern to the health of residents living near Marcellus operations …”
Sadly, the experience of Pam’s family is becoming all too familiar to ordinary people all over America who are being poisoned by the toxic chemicals being released by the fracking industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a damning report in February 2013 which admitted that there is no systematic air quality monitoring of the emissions from the fracking industry which emits,”large amounts of harmful pollutants that impact air quality on local, regional, and global levels.”
The report further noted how the EPA underestimates chemical pollution from oil and gas wells and did not have a, ”comprehensive strategy for improving air emissions data for the oil and gas production sector …”
Politicians Fail to Protect The Public
At a state level the same failure to protect the public is in evidence. In some states there is open collusion between the oil and gas industry and elected officials. The situation in Texas shows how the interests of big business come first while no action is taken to protect local people who are being poisoned.
Inside Climate News has produced a series of excellent reports that chart the collusion of corrupt Texas officials who worked hand in glove with the fracking industry to prevent regulation of toxic air emissions. In 2011 the Texas legislature approved SB1134, a bill that prevented new environmental regulations from being applied in the Eagle Ford region of South Texas.
Inside Climate News reports that,”Since then, more than 2,400 air emissions permits have been issued in the Eagle Ford without additional safeguards that would have reduced the amounts of benzene, hydrogen sulphide, formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals that drift into the air breathed by 1.1 million people.”
This should be no surprise considering how large sections of the political establishment of Texas has been bought off by the big bucks of the fracking industry. State Representative Tom Craddick, who steered the bill that prevented new regulations from being applied in the Eagle Ford shale region, has shares in five oil companies that are active in the Eagle Ford area and has received $800,000 from industry employees and related political action committees.
To compound matters Craddick’s daughter Christi has received $600,000 from the fracking industry to win a seat on the Texas Rail road Commission. The Rail road Commission issues permits for drilling.
The corruption of the Texas political establishment goes much further. According to a Centre for Public Integrity review of financial disclosure records 42 members of the Texas legislature or their spouses own stock or receive royalties from oil and gas companies active in the Eagle Ford area. Governor Rick Perry who approved SB1134 has revived $11.5 million in campaign contributions since 2000. The attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott has received over $4 million in contributions and has sued the EPA eighteen times for interfering in Texas affairs!
Not all members of the Texas legislature are cheerleaders for the oil and gas industry. Representative Lon Burnham openly admits that the Texas legislature is “a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry.”
Environmental group Earthworks carried out an investigation into air pollution in the Eagle Ford area. The report noted how Texas regulators discovered pollution so dangerous they evacuated themselves from the area. Meanwhile, the regulators took no action to warn or protect residents about the dangerous level of air pollutants.
A growing number of residents are suffering adverse health effects from the poisonous air they are breathing in. These include difficulty breathing, severe headaches, eye burning and skin rashes.
The Earthworks report does not pull any punches. It concluded that negligent regulators and wild west fracking operators are responsible for the slow poisoning of the people of Karnes County Texas.
Evidence from state regulators and Earthworks/ShaleTest investigations indicate that ”air pollution from oil and gas development in the Eagle Ford Shale definitely threatens, and likely harms, the health of Karnes County Texas residents, including the Cerny family. Despite these findings, no action has been taken by regulators to rein in irresponsible operations, or otherwise protect area residents.”
If fracking posed no danger to the public and was perfectly safe why is the CEO of Exxon Mobile Rex Tillerson joing a lawsuit to prevent a fracking project near his Texas home? Tillerson’s company is the biggest natural gas producer in America and fights regulatory oversight at every turn. His name is on the lawsuit that objects to a 160 foot water tower near his luxury home.
The owners of the water tower would sell water to oil and gas explorers ‘‘leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nusiance and traffic hazards” and an ”unsafe… nuisance to children of the area.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that the water tower would, ”devalue their [muilti-million dollar] properties and adversely impact the rural lifestyle they sought to enjoy.” It will be interesting to see what success this group of multi-millionaires has against the fracking industry.
Air Pollution in California
All over America independent environmental groups are doing the job of the regulators and finding that fracking causes air pollution that poses a threat to human and animal health.
In September of 2013 the Center For Biological Diversity in California released a report that detailed its investigation into air pollution caused by the fracking industry in the LA basin. It found that oil companies had used 12 ‘air toxic’ chemicals on over 300 occasions. Air toxic chemicals are considered as extremely dangerous as they can cause cancer, harm the heart and damage the lungs and eyes.
Among the dirty dozen is Crystalline Silica a known carcinogen which has been used 117 times and is harmful to skin, eyes and other sensory organs, respiratory system, immune system and kidneys.
Another toxic chemical that has been used at least 85 times is Methanol that can damage the brain, liver and immune system.
Hydrochloric acid is a very dangerous chemical that has been used 43 times and causes severe burns upon contact with the skin while also posing a threat to eyes, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system and liver, immune system and the cardiovascular system.
There has been a cluster of health problems reported by residents living near the Inglewood oil field due to air borne exposures to these toxic chemicals.
A major problem facing the public is that the oil and gas companies are protected by regulators who allow the companies to keep the identity of certain chemicals hidden on the grounds of ”trade secrets”. Oil and gas companies report certain chemicals as “lubricant,” “surfactant,” or simply “mixture.” In other words, the regulators who are supposed to be protecting the public, don’t have a clue as to what toxic poison is being used and churned out into the air.
“Every Californian deserves to know that oil companies are pumping dangerous chemicals into our air, but disclosure alone won’t protect our hearts and lungs,” said the Center’s Hollin Kretzmann. “The best way to shield ourselves from this pollution is to halt fracking, acidization and other extreme oil recovery techniques. We need Gov. Brown and state lawmakers to put public health ahead of petroleum industry profits and shut these dirty operations down.”
On 28 February Los Angeles city council voted to support a moratorium on fracking and other dangerous drilling. The motion puts a moratorium on fracking until the city decides that it does not pose a danger to the safety of residents or their drinking water.
This is a big victory for the people of Los Angeles who have faced oil and gas regulators dragging their feet on enforcing exisitng environmental rules. More than 200,000 petitions have been signed by Californians urging Governor Brown to ban fracking throughout the state. Californians Against Fracking have organised a state wide demonstration for 15 March in Sacremento to push Governor Brown and his administration into taking this action.
Air Pollution A Toxic Time Bomb
The fracking industry is releasing a toxic time bomb into the air whose full impact may not be felt for many years to come. The indefatigable Theo Colborn, President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and Professor Emeritus of Zoology at the University of Florida, has pointed out that there are no government safety standards for many of these chemicals. Where there is a safety level for some chemicals it is based upon a male worker doing an eight hour shift five days a week. It does not take into account low level exposure for residents exposed 24 hours a day seven days a week.
In a speech given in 2013 to a conference organised by Citizens For a Healthy Community Professor Colborn identified five sources of airborne chemicals that people can be expected to be exposed to if they happen to live near a fracking well.
Firstly, there is the raw natural gas that comes to the surface during drilling. The gas released by drilling has the following composition: 78.7% methane, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) 17.9% and Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide 3.3%.
Methane is a well known greenhouse gas that is toxic to humans. Professor Colborn is particularly worried by the VOC’s which are extremely toxic and have been given little attention by public health agencies. These fugitive volatile organic compounds can cause irreversible damage to the brain and central nervous system if a person is subject to prolonged exposure over time.
Secondly, there is the air pollution caused by exhaust from trucks, compressors and other equipment related to fracking. These produce nitrogen oxide and particulate matter that have the secondary effect of producing ozone which can damage lung tissue. The health effects of exhaust fumes include premature birth, low birth weight, early onset lung disease, cardiac ischemia, myocardial infarction and endocrine disruption.
Thirdly, there are the hundreds of chemicals used during the fracking process itself. The injection of these chemicals into the ground is a well known cause of water pollution across areas affected by fracking.
Fourthly, there are the chemicals released during the cleaning and maintenance of the drilling pad and equipment. Professor Theo Colborn has highlighted Methylene Chloride used to clean fracking equipment which is extremely toxic and has 12 adverse effects upon human health.
Last but by no means least there is air borne pollution caused by the waste water that is put into evaporation pits. The objective is to evaporate as much waste fluid before it is hauled off for processing. However, the evaporation process leads to the release of poisonous chemicals into the air. Professor Theo Colborn notes that there is ”very little information” about the air borne pollution coming from thousands of evaporation pits which can also contaminate water supplies.
Failure To Regulate
The fracking industry in America has been subjected to light or no touch regulation. Oil and gas industry lobbyists have successfully fended off effective regulation of their industry and won exemptions from most environmental regulations: Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act [RCRA], Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act [CERCLA], Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.
Meanwhile, Congress has agreed not to apply the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to fracking fluids which contain hundreds of poisonous chemicals. Oil and gas companies keep from the public which chemicals are used claiming they are ”trade secrets.” By its own admission the EPA has been ineffective in protecting the public from this rapacious industry which has plans for massive expansion all over America and the rest of the planet.
Earthworks calls the fracking industry a ”reckless endangerment” of the public’s health. As government fails, the public’s health suffers while oil and gas companies rake in massive profits. Never mind the permanent damage to the plant and animal kingdom by the poisoning of the environment.
One thing is clear from a modicum of research into the air borne pollution caused by the fracking industry. We cannot rely upon corporate politicians to protect the air that we breathe.
The clock is ticking. The question you have to ask yourself is: what am I going to do about it?
Karzai: “Afghans Died in a War That’s Not Ours”
Outgoing president says his anger is reserved for U.S. government
and his sadness for his people who have suffered so much
“Afghans died in a war that’s not ours.”
That’s what outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the Washington Post in an interview that took place this weekend in Kabul and was published on Monday.
Karzai says his intrasigence over a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. is fueled by his anger at the Obama administration and the sadness he feels after witnessing so much pain and suffering inflicted upon his people by a war that has dragged on for more than twelve years.
The war, he says, was fought for “for the U.S. security and for the Western interest” but it was ordinary Afghans, including a four-year-old girl he recently visited in the hospital who had half her face blown off during a U.S. bombing.
“That day, I wished she were dead, so she could be buried with her parents and brothers and sisters” — 14 of whom had been killed in the same attack — he told the Post.
Was the war worth it? he was asked.
Karzai responded: “I am of two hearts here. When I see good, I am in approval. When I see the losses of Afghan people, our children, maimed and killed, I’m in disapproval,” he said, speaking in English. “Maybe I can give you an answer of yes or no two, three or five years from now, when my emotions have subsided. Right now, I’m full of emotions.’’
He says he will likely not sign the BSA that Obama and the Pentagon insist is imperative if the U.S. is to keep soldiers on the ground beyond the end of the year. He does think, however, that his successor should and will sign such an agreement.
The reason he has held out, he explains, is because it has become his only source of leverage with the Obama administration. If he signs it, then he will have no way to issue the demands he still has: namely that the U.S. step up its efforts to make peace talks with the Taliban, a moratorium on night raids by U.S. troops that have terrorized Afghan families, and an end to airstrikes that have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.
Karzai offered this parting message to the reporters as they left: “To the American people, give them my best wishes and my gratitude. To the U.S. government, give them my anger, my extreme anger.’’
A senior United Nations official has broken ranks with his organisation and called for “full compensation” for the victims of a cholera epidemic in Haiti.
Gustavo Gallon, the UN’s top human rights officer in Haiti, also said in his report that “those responsible” for the outbreak should be punished.
It is the first such call by a representative of the UN, which has so far rejected compensation claims.
Evidence suggests UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to Haiti in 2010.
The outbreak – which has killed more than 8,300 people and infected hundreds of thousands – has been blamed on leaking sewage pipes at a UN base.
The UN has never acknowledged responsibility for the epidemic, arguing that it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the disease.
The organisation says it has legal immunity from a lawsuit filed for Haitian victims at a New York court last year.
‘Human action’ blamedMr Gallon made the comments in a report on the human rights situation in Haiti.
“The diplomatic difficulties around this question have to be resolved to stop the epidemic as soon as possible and pay full compensation for suffering experienced,” he wrote.
“It is advisable to shed light on what really happened and to punish those responsible, whoever they may be.”
Mr Gallon said the UN “should be the first to honour” the principle of compensation for victims of human rights violations.
He added that “silence is the worst of responses” to a “catastrophe caused by human action”.
BBC international development correspondent Mark Doyle says the report has once again exposed what is an unprecedented legal and moral crisis for the UN.
It is not yet clear how Mr Gallon’s remarks may affect the ongoing lawsuit in the US, our correspondent adds.
Lawyers for the victims are demanding compensation of $100,000 (£62,000) for every person who died and $50,000 for each of those who became ill.
But the UN argues it is immune from such claims under its Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN.
No cases of the bacterial infection, which causes diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps, had been recorded in Haiti for a century until the outbreak in late 2010.
Cholera is spread through infected faeces. Once it enters the water supply it is difficult to stop – especially in a country like Haiti which has almost no effective sewage disposal systems.
UN Report Identifies 30 Drone Strikes That Require ‘Public Explanation’
A UN counter-terrorism expert has published the second report of his year-long investigation into drone strikes, highlighting 30 strikes where civilians are reported to have been killed.
The report, by British lawyer Ben Emmerson QC, identifies 30 attacks between 2006 and 2013 that show sufficient indications of civilian deaths to demand a ‘public explanation of the circumstances and the justification for the use of deadly force’ under international law.
Emmerson analysed 37 strikes carried out by the US, UK and Israel in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza, to arrive at a ‘sample’ of strikes that he believes those nations have a legal duty to explain.
Britain and the US conduct strikes as part of the armed conflict in Afghanistan, and the US also conducts covert strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Although Israel has never officially acknowledged using armed drones, Emmerson met with Israeli officials in the course of preparing his report and lists seven attacks in Gaza among those requiring investigation.
This report expands on an argument for the legal obligation for states to investigate and account for credible claims of civilian casualties, which Emmerson first laid out in his previous report, presented to the UN General Assembly in October.
He writes: ‘in any case in which there have been, or appear to have been, civilian casualties that were not anticipated when the attack was planned, the State responsible is under an obligation to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiry and to provide a detailed public explanation of the results.’
A February 2010 attack in Afghanistan serves as a ‘benchmark’ of the kind of disclosure that should follow claims of civilian casualties.
After a US drone attack on a convoy of trucks reportedly killed up to 23 civilians, the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), which runs international operations in Afghanistan, partially declassified the findings of its internal investigation. Emmerson writes that this report strongly criticised the crew’s actions and revealed ‘a propensity to “kinetic activity” [lethal action]‘.
This level of transparency is rare.
The most recent incident featured in Emmerson’s report is a December 2013 attack that hit a wedding procession near Rada’a in Yemen, killing at least 12. Multiple sources have identified numerous civilian casualties among the dead, including a Human Rights Watch investigation published last week.
Three unnamed US officials told Associated Press after the publication of Human Rights Watch’s report that an internal investigation had found only alleged militants were killed – but no results of this investigation have yet been officially released.
Information is particularly scarce for activity in Somalia, Emmerson notes. The only strike from the country in the report is the February 2012 strike that killed former British citizen Mohamed Sakr, whose case the Bureau has reported on as part of its investigation into the British government’s deprivation of citizenship.
Neither the US nor the UK routinely publish details of their drone operations. The UK states that it has killed civilians in only one incident in Afghanistan, a March 2011 strike that killed four civilians.
The US has repeatedly dismissed the Bureau’s estimate that at least 400 civilians have died in Pakistan drone strikes as ‘ludicrous’; the CIA director John Brennan has said that claims of high civilian casualties amount to ‘disinformation’.
Emmerson notes that operations that kill civilians are not necessarily illegal under international law, but states have a duty of transparency where there are credible allegations of non-combatants being harmed.
The report does not take a position on the legality of drone strikes away from the battlefield, but says there is an ‘urgent and imperative need’ for international agreement on the legal arguments advanced in favour of covert lethal action.
The US has argued that its strikes are legal on two grounds: they are legitimate acts of self-defence against an imminent threat, and they are part of an armed conflict against an enemy, al Qaeda, and its ‘associated forces’. Emmerson asks a series of questions – about the thresholds for action in self-defence, the definition of ‘imminent’ threat, al Qaeda’s current state, and more – on which he says the international community must reach consensus.
Last week the European Parliament voted 534 to 49 in favour of a motion calling on the EU to develop a ‘common position’ on drone strikes and other targeted killings.
To date, Europe has remained largely silent on the issue, but the motion expressed ’grave concern’ over drone strikes ‘outside the international legal framework’ and called on member states not to ‘facilitate such killings by other states’.
The UK has refused to clarify whether it shares intelligence with the US that could lead to drone strikes in Pakistan; in January the Court of Appeal ruled that any attempt to force the government to disclose such information could endanger international relations. In December, Emmerson told a meeting in parliament that such intelligence-sharing is ‘inevitable’ owing to the closeness of the relationship between the US and UK. ‘It would be absurd if it were not the case,’ he added.
Russian aircraft carrying nearly 2,000 suspected troops have landed at a military air base near the regional capital of the Crimean peninsula, a top Ukrainian official said accusing Moscow of an “armed invasion”. Continue
Manufacturing Consent For Military Intervention
Ukraine Pleads For Help After Russian ‘Invasion’
The new Ukrainian government says it has been invaded by Russia and has appealed for the United States and United Kingdom to protect it, as guaranteed under a 1994 agreement.Continue
Fact Or Fiction?
Crimean Coup is Payback by Putin for Ukraine’s Revolution
By Luke Harding
After what Moscow regards as the western-backed takeover of Kiev, the Kremlin’s choreography has been impressive. Continue
- Video -
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine. Continue
By F. William Engdahl
The West is not finished with destroying Ukraine. Continue
Washington’s Man Yatsenyuk Setting Ukraine Up For Ruin
By Kenneth Rapoza
Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk, may prove to be arsenic to the beleaguered nation. Continue
By Kenny Coyle
The Euro love-fest for Ukraine masks some deeply ugly alliances. Continue
By Mike Whitney
The United States helped defeat Nazism in World War 2. Obama helped bring it back.Continue
By Mark Ames
According to financial disclosures and reports seen by Pando, the founder and publisher of Glenn Greenwald’s government-bashing blog,“The Intercept,” co-invested with the US government to help fund regime change in Ukraine. Continue
On the Meaning of Journalistic Independence
By Glenn Greenwald
This morning, I see that some people are quite abuzz about a new Pando article “revealing” that the foundation of Pierre Omidyar, the publisher of First Look Media which publishes The Intercept, gave several hundred thousand dollars to a Ukraininan “pro-democracy” organization opposed to the ruling regime. Continue
By Huffington Post
A sea of hungry, haunted faces looks out from a massive queue that snakes through the bombed out Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Syria. Continue
By Ajamu Baraka
“This concern for the humanity of the Syrians is comical if it was not so deadly serious.”Continue
By Justin Huggler
We started this. – When the US and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, we set off a chain of events that led inexorably to the killing fields of Damascus and Aleppo. Continue
By Jessica Elgot
Europe’s politicians have voted by a landslide to propose a ban on US drone strikes that have killed thousands in Yemen and Pakistan, calling the killings “unlawful”. Continue
By John Stanton
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What was once known as capitalism was simply being rebaptized as “socialism.” Continue
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It is worth comparing the extent of press coverage to protests of similar importance next door to Venezuela. Continue
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Yipee! Free money for all the crooks who blew up the financial system and plunged the economy into recession. Continue
By Tony Ortega
Both sides put out descriptions of the lengthy discussion. Continue
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NATO’s ultimate wet dream is to command a Western puppet Ukrainian government Continue
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Video – (English Subtitles)
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: ‘Stop the War on Syria, We’ll Withdraw Thereafter’. Continue
By Alan Hart
Obama is preparing to play his own part in the blame game – covering his backside. Continue
On the Meaning of Journalistic Independence
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This morning, I see that some people are quite abuzz about a new Pando article “revealing” that the foundation of Pierre Omidyar, the publisher of First Look Media which publishes The Intercept, gave several hundred thousand dollars to a Ukraininan “pro-democracy” organization opposed to the ruling regime. Continue
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Many readers in the US may find what I say here shocking. Continue
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The negative impact of corporal punishment and moving forward towards a more peaceful world. Continue
March 2, 2014
March 1, 2014
February 28, 2014
Amnesty International’s (AI) new report is blunt. It’s titled “Trigger-Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank.” It begins saying:
Out of nowhere many soldiers jumped out and ambushed Samir. They shot him first in the leg, yet he managed to run away towards the village.
But how far can an injured child run? Twenty, maybe 30, metres? They could have easily arrested him, especially when he was injured, but instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition.
To me, this is premeditated murder.
Killing 16-year old Samir was no isolated incident. Israel’s entire history is blood-drenched.
It includes multiple crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. It’s been ongoing since 1948. It shows no signs of ending. Israeli viciousness knows no limits.
Samir tried fleeing from where Israeli soldiers ambushed peaceful Palestinian children. They were protesting against Israel’s illegal apartheid wall. They posed no threat. Soldiers used live fire. They remain unaccountable. They’re licensed to kill. They do so with impunity. They’re promoted. They’re decorated. They’re honored for committing cold-blooded murder. AI reflected on disturbing circumstances regarding Samir’s assassination.
In 2013, Israel murdered at least two dozen other nonviolent Palestinians. Four were young children. They were shot in cold blood. Some in the back.
Thousands of Palestinians are wounded annually. Thousands more are lawlessly arrested and detained. Many get long prison terms.
Their crime is wanting to live free in peace on their own land in their own country. They want it free from Israeli occupation.
Persecution, deaths and injuries are part of daily Palestinian life. Media scoundrels report virtually nothing about it.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli forces killed 27 Palestinians in 2013. Live fire or rubber-coated metal bullets claimed them.
Killing Samir followed a familiar pattern. Mostly children and youths protest Israel’s occupation. They’re justifiably outraged about policies underpinning it. They include lawless settlements, land theft, dispossessions, arrests, kangaroo court justice, detentions, torture, closures, checkpoints, curfews, exploiting Palestinian resources, denying the right of return, calling Jerusalem Israel’s exclusive capital, holding an entire population hostage, and denying them fundamental civil and human rights.
At most, Palestinians throw stones. Virtually never is a soldier injured. They respond violently. They use tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, skunk water, batons, rubber bullets and live fire. They’re unrestrained. They do whatever they damn please. They’re brainwashed from pre-school through higher education and military service. They’re taught to hate Muslims.
Anything goes against them is OK. Collective punishment is official policy. Severe amounts are dispensed multiple times daily.
The right to peacefully assemble and protest is enshrined in international law. America’s Constitution affirms them. So do international treaties.
They’re fundamental. Not in Israel. Not in Occupied Palestine. Excessive force against non-threatening Palestinian protesters is longstanding Israeli practice. Documented evidence is extensive. It’s incontrovertible. It reveals lawlessness. It’s indefensible. It persists multiple times daily without end.
Young boys and girls are as vulnerable as adults. Hundreds of military orders control daily life. They cover virtually everything.
Freedom of expression and assembly are denied. Gatherings of 10 or more people publicly or privately are prohibited “for a political purpose or for a matter that could be interpreted as political.”
Doing so requires advance permit authority. Military commanders have sole authority. Violators face up to 10 years imprisonment and/or stiff fines.
Palestinians are forbidden from entering Israeli-declared closed military zones or areas for Jews only. Palestinians caught doing so can be shot.
Investigations when conducted are whitewashed. Almost never are soldiers prosecuted. Rare convictions when occur are meaningless wrist slaps.
AI’s report shows how “Israeli forces have repeatedly violated their obligations under international human rights law by using excessive force to stifle dissent and freedom of expression,” it said.
It “result(s) in a pattern of unlawful killings and injuries of (nonviolent) civilians…”
They include young children. Israel acts with impunity. It’s “in no small part” because authorities fail “to conduct thorough, impartial and independent investigations,” said AI.
Such arbitrary and abusive use of force contravenes policing standards that protect the right of life and other human rights, and they also violate international humanitarian law applicable in territories under foreign military occupation, including in the West Bank.
AI said some cases it documented showed “willful killings.” Innocent victims were murdered in cold blood. Doing so constitutes “war crimes.”
Lawless Israeli actions need urgent addressing and correcting, AI stresses. It wants independent, impartial, transparent, prompt investigation of all incidents involving Israeli forces killing or injuring Palestinians. It wants those responsible held fully accountable. AI focused on lawless Israeli force since 2011. It detailed numerous violations. They’re too egregious to ignore.
Israeli policy of settling its population on occupied Palestinian land alone “is considered a war crime.” Fourth Geneva and other international laws say so.
AI’s report came days before Netanyahu meets Obama. He’ll address this year’s AIPAC conference. It’s in Washington. It begins Sunday, March 2. It runs through Tuesday, March 4.
“Instead of giving (him) standing ovations, (congressional members) must hold him accountable during his visit to Washington,” said Sunjeev Bery.
He’s AI Middle East/North Africa advocacy director.
“Israeli soldiers have repeatedly opened fire on peaceful Palestinian protestors in the occupied West Bank,” he added.
This trip is an opportunity for President Obama to decisively address Israeli security force violations in the occupied West Bank by suspending all US arms shipments to Israel.
Philip Luther heads AI’s Middle East/North Africa program.
AI’s “report presents a body of evidence that shows a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings and unwarranted injuries of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in the West Bank,” he said.
The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy.
“The staggering numbers of (killed and wounded Palestinians) provide a sobering reminder of the relentless daily danger” they face.
Israel does nothing to address egregious crimes. They persist. They repeat with disturbing regularity. Without international community action, there’s no stopping them.
AI didn’t reveal what’s already known. Many reports document Israeli crimes. Reputable independent human rights groups prepare them.
AI’s commitment to human rights often falls short. According to Francis Boyle:
AI is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns.
To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and woman power, publicity, you name it. They can throw whatever they want at that.
But if it’s dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it’s like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation.
They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it’s not like the official enemies list.
AI loosened up on Israel. Maybe pressure brought to bear paid off. Try getting AI to address US war crimes. Try getting it to report accurately on US enemies.
“Trigger Happy” departs from usual AI reporting. It’s a refreshing exception. Maybe more reports like it will follow. Maybe enough pressure will force them.
Thailand: Protesters to Refocus Movement
Since the elections, the regime has responded with an expanding campaign of armed terror that has left many dead, and many more horribly maimed, mainly from grenade attacks and gunfire launched by professional mercenaries, pro-regime thugs, and elements of the police loyal to the regime. Among the dead have been children.
Before the city-spanning “Shutdown Bangkok” campaign began, there was a single demonstration site including two stages at and near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. It was announced yesterday evening that beginning on March 3, all of the stages that have been set up for “Shutdown Bangkok” will be consolidated once again, this time at Lumpini Park, near the Silom business district – accessible by Lumpini MRT station and Sala Daeng BTS station.
The move was long overdue – with the regime now fully exposed as both lacking any kind of democratic mandate, and resorting to violence as it clings with increasing desperation to power. The protesters at a single site can now continue organizing action against the regime, as well as direct resources toward the more impressive single-day mass protests (and the warm-up marches proceeding them) that have been the hallmarks of the months-long movement.
Security for a single site will also be easier to manage. In the wake of growing terrorism employed by the regime, and the regime’s Western backers feigning ignorance over who is behind the escalating violence despite overt admissions from the regime and its supporters weeks ago published in the US State Department-linked TIME Magazine.
In TIME’s “Bangkok Shutdown: Yingluck Supporters Prepare to Fight for Democracy,” it’s reported that:
As Thailand’s anti-government protests enter their fourth day, observers say prospects for violent confrontation are increasing, with reports of government supporters stockpiling weapons in case of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ouster.
According to the Bangkok Post, radical members of the Red Shirts — diehard champions of Yingluck and her notorious brother Thaksin Shinawatra — are readying a cache of arms in case the 46-year-old premier is forced from office by either military or judicial intervention.
The paper quoted a Red Shirt source as saying “There are strong anti-coup and anti-court sentiments among the red-shirt mavericks who are familiar and experienced with weapon use.”
For protest leaders, the next step is to simply wait for the regime to continue unraveling. It has lost vast amounts of support, even among rural rice farmers who have turned against the regime in the wake of the disastrous rice subsidy program that have left thousands of farmers unpaid, destitute, and desperate, and the nation’s rice industry crumbling.
For the protesters themselves, organizing smaller direct action committees to develop and implement local solutions addressing a wide range of issues, from education to economics, and even helping the victims of the regime including the farmers – would be a good way to continue undermining the regime as well as move constructively toward a different paradigm beyond elections, corrupt politicians, and endless, futile political bickering.
The regime is expected to continue employing violence and terrorism against growing dissent. It, along with its Western backers, have continuously peddled the narrative of a coming “civil war.” As pointed out many times before, this is not even remotely possible. Instead, the regime will use widespread terrorism and propaganda to appear as such, to make increasing violence appear to be a “people’s movement” rather than state-sanctioned brutality.
Recently, the regime’s deputy secretary-general to the prime minister and “red-shirt” leader Suporn Attawong claimed he was assembling a 600,000-strong “pro-government Democracy Protection Volunteers Group,” as reported by the Bangkok Post’s article, “Red shirt hardliner seeks 600,000 men.” With the regime failing utterly to fill even a single stadium in Bangkok to counter massive and prolonged anti-regime protests, the prospect of assembling an able-bodied army of 600,000 men is slim to none.
The regime’s ludicrous posturing heralds increasingly desperate moves as it attempts to cling to power. However, the protests are growing, well led, determined, and highly motivated. Their patience and prudence has and will continue to work against the regime – with the regime’s attempts to strike back only expediting its fall.
US Occupiers Privatizing Haitian Island: Violence Against Unarmed Protesters,
No Media Coverage
Île À Vache – Chronicles Of A Coming Massacre
Ilavach is a beautiful offshore Island in southern Haiti. The Haiti residents have lived at peace there in this unspoiled paradise, eating the fresh fruits, vegetables off the land, fishing and crafting beautiful art pieces. Enjoying natures’ bounty, the sand, sky and sea. Selling to other local areas, without food, their extra food. In fact, up until recently Ilavach only had two policemen on the Island.
But the Obama crew is pushing for more privatization of Haiti assets and wealth.
So, last May 10, 2013 its puppet Martelly-Lamothe government UNILATERALLY, with no local participation, declared the entire island property of the state. Martelly, the US-picked Haiti president simply DECREED this. The people of Ilavach reject this plan to take their Island, their land to create a tourist haven for white folks and other foreigners. Categorically reject it and need our support. Haven’t the people of Haiti been traumatized and destroyed enough?
The government want the island for hotels, luxurious beachside condos, private airport and golf courses — instead of providing needed services for the people like better schools, clean running water, roads, and electricity.
Konbit peyizan Ilavach (KOPI), the organization put together by the people of Ilavach to secure their interests say the taking of their lands is illegal and the development is not intended to benefit the island residents but foreigners. One resident says he’d rather continue to eat yams, fresh fish, fruits, vegetables off his own ancestral land than have to get a wage job on the Island to service Northern tourists. Haitians took down slavery in 1804 not to return to it in 2014.
The Llavach folks have no local representation in the puppet government of US occupied Haiti. There has been no local elections, no parliamentary elections in Haiti since the US puppet, Michel Martelly, took office with only 17% of the population voting. The Martelly-Lamothe government, instead of organizing required elections, has enjoyed complete control by constantly postponing local and national elections. Two thirds of the parliament’s mandates are over. There was no mayoral elections as provided for in the Constitution. Dictator Martelly conveniently CHOSE local folks who will rubber stamp his decrees.
Martelly created the local position – Ajan Egzekitif Enterimè or Interim EXECUTIVE agent. The name says it all. In Ilavach the person chosen by Martelly’s government for this position is someone who previously ran for local office that residents say only got 100 votes. “He would not have been elected to represent the people of Ilavach if the people were allowed to vote” one resident said in a radio interview. But it is this man who is selling out the people of Ilavach. Pointing them out for intimidation, imprisonment and even death, says the residents, by Martelly-Lamothe government forces.
As I understand it, Stéphanie Balmir Villedrouin, the Minister of Tourism arrived on the Island to talk to the agitated residents. She came without the plan of development that the people asked to see and promised to return with the plan the government said would benefit the people. But then released a youtube video of the government vision for Ilavach. On that same day when the Haiti plan for Ilavach was released on youtube, 100 BIM soldiers – a special Haiti police squad, trained by the occupiers and created to protect foreigners – tourist- in particular, arrived on the Island. (Motorized Intervention Brigade – BMI)
Residents report that these non-local forces have been terrorizing the protestors, going to the school to intimidate their children, arresting the KOPI members, beating up the demonstrators, firing at the unarmed people. No international media is reporting.
HLLN has sent out an urgent action alert. The residents of Ilavach say Radyo VKM has been the only radio station to report on their desperate plight. Vwa Klodi Mizo on Radyo VKM in Southern Haiti has a wealth of information on their site and interviews with updated information (Go to http://www.radyovkm.org/).
We’re getting more Haiti radio station to report. AlterPresse, Lakou New York, Hugues Girard, Dady Chery, the Haitian Blogger and Elsie News are writing and posting about this. There may be more we’re not aware of. But we’re asking everyone, everyone to tell this story. Help stop the coming massacre of innocent people. This attempt to make landowning Haitians landless and without food sovereignty. Help stop this big business terror in Haiti.
The Ezili Network is asking Haitians in the Diaspora to call their families in Southern Haiti and Port au Prince, don’t let the resident of Ilavach face the wrath and unbridled greed of the rabid elites alone. Tell their story. reach out to the media, circulate their words, the voices of the people of Ilavache. (http://www.radyovkm.org/) Stand in solidarity with them especially during the days of carnival – this coming Sunday, March 2nd to Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Do not let the fascist US puppet government take the lands of the poor and give it to foreigners. This oppression and coming bloodbath must be stopped. Already the heretofore peaceful resident are being called “bandits.” The government has arrested Carl Oza, Ayizan Silien and others including KOPI vice president, Jean Maltunès Lamy. (See, “Nòt pwotestasyon plizyè òganizasyon kont arestasyon ak anprizònman jean Matulnès Lamy”-http://bit.ly/1mNYag3)
Dady Chery transcribed the following statement, made by the president of KOPI in an interview with Vwa Klodi Mizo on RadyovKM:
“KOPI President Marc Lainé Donald (Jinal) said that KOPI still wants a recall of the May 10, 2013 decree that declared the entire island a zone of public utility. According to Jinal: “This is a lousy decree. This project reflects a macabre plan, a rat trap, a collective suicide, that aims to drive all the residents from the island. It is a cultural genocide that puts everyone in the island’s storm and dispossesses people of their lands. No one has the right to build on the island any more. If Ile à Vache is a hidden treasure, its people should enjoy it and get integrated into the proposed developments. We are craftsmen who have worked to beautify this corner of paradise that is so coveted by Lamothe’s administration.”
Listen to Jinal’s interview (in Kreyòl) with Radyo VKM below:
(For more detailed information, go to -
1.- http://www.radyovkm.org/ (Kreyòl);
2. – Emisyon Goute Sel 25 Fevriye Radio Vwa Klodi Mizo Aux Cayes, | Ileavache
3. – Share and circulate these English videos to give voice to the people of Ile-a-Vache http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI7MI0QAvhZnqZnbQIEgvyA and;
4. Dady Chery’s: Haiti’s Peasants Fight Land Grab of Offshore Islands for Ecotourism http://bit.ly/K4IAhq)
News Links, March 1-3, 2014
Euro zone lending contraction compounds ECB headache
Ukraine Limits Withdrawals to 15,000 Hryvnia per Day (about $1,500); Hryvnia Up 14%
Argentina Plans Measures Against Businesses Raising Prices
Emerging Economies – From Easy Money to Hard Landing?
French gov’t seeks pay cuts for CEOs of semi-public firms -paper
France’s government has asked the chief executives of companies in which it owns a minority stake to accept pay cuts of up to 30 percent in upcoming pay rounds as the country tightens its belt, the daily Le Figaro reported on Sunday.
Gold Fix Study Shows Signs of Decade of Bank Manipulation
The regional airline industry is being roiled by a pilot shortage that results from simple math: the cost to complete flight-training programs is high, and the entry-level pay at these carriers is low. How the problem gets fixed—which largely means how the bill will be divided and how much trickles down to passengers—is one of the big questions confronting the entire U.S. airline industry.
GAO report: Too few pilots or too little pay?
An outplacement service for Self-Defense Forces pilots will likely resume in fiscal 2014 to cope with the shortage of commercial airline pilots expected from the advent of low-cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, a government source said Sunday.
Military airport in Ukraine’s Crimea taken over by Russian soldiers-Interfax
The pro-Russian prime minister of Ukraine’s restive Crimea claimed control of all military, police and other security services in the region Saturday and appealed to Russia’s president for help in keeping peace there.
US quietly partners with neo-Nazis in Ukraine, fascists in Egypt, and al-Qaeda in Syria
More than 10 knife-wielding attackers slashed people at a train station in southwestern China late Saturday in what authorities called a terrorist attack by Uighur separatists, and police fatally shot five of the assailants, leaving 34 people dead and 130 others injured, state media said.
Anti-riot police called in to contain rowdy youth (Kenya)
Protesters Scuffle With Riot Police in Athens
Fresh Venezuela protests erupt in Caracas streets after violent clashes
Thousands march in Hong Kong to condemn attack on ex-newspaper editor
## Energy/resources ##
Shell’s Troubles in Nigeria Continue
Egypt may be in the throes of political turmoil, but the government has begun a diplomatic offensive aimed at stopping Ethiopia from building a huge hydroelectric dam on the Nile River that Cairo says will be a disaster for the Arab world’s most populous nation.
Fuel shortage to blame for electricity blackouts: Ministry of Electricity (Egypt)
Is Quebec’s electricity business model broken?
New threat to Brazil’s breadbasket: a pesky caterpillar
The drought parching Singapore and swaths of Malaysia and Indonesia threatens to raise food prices, slow economic growth and disrupt water supply in the region, home to the world’s oldest tropical rainforests.
Rampant food waste a barrier to cutting poverty: World Bank
## Environment/health ##
Major Nuclear Dump Has Leaked, But Does US Gov’t Have a Plan B?
Europe’s flood losses to soar by 2050, research shows
Brazil champions undersea cable to bypass US
World’s biggest cyberattack detected, 360 million accounts, 1.25 billion email addresses hacked
Why the Periphery Is Crumbling: The Spoils System Is Cracking
Post peak countries: the collapse of Yemen
Darkness Descending on Venezuela
Abenomics struggles to deliver public works boom
The government plans to ask the Diet for approval this fall to revise more than 10 laws to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a government source said.
Majority of Tohoku mayors say recovery slow or nonexistent
More than half of the 42 mayors of northeastern cities, towns and villages damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami describe Tohoku’s reconstruction as slow or stalled, a Kyodo News survey said Sunday.
It is just as I said: What was destroyed will never be rebuilt. — RF
An online platform for China’s Communist Party is encouraging citizens to take out their hostility toward the Japanese in the virtual world. While Beijing flexes its muscles in a very real way in the East China Sea, ordinary Chinese can now play a game called “Kill the Devils” on the website of the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the party here.
China: A Falling Star
Despite its reputation as an economic powerhouse, Chinese economic and government data show inconsistencies in exports, colossal corporate and local debt, an imminent collapse in its shadow financial sector, and the Chinese government’s misunderstanding of the Chinese citizens’ desire to purchase gold.
Frozen East Coast Pays as Law Blocks Cheaper Fuel Flows
The myth of real estate and economic mobility: Americans face lowest geographic mobility in over two generations. Is staying put the new American Dream?
Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said Energy Future Holdings Corp. will ”almost certainly” file for bankruptcy this year unless natural gas prices soar.