08/15/2013 archive

Responsible Energy

You remember this-

Canada suspends railroad’s operations after disaster



The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train, carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota, was parked overnight at a nearby town when it slipped away, derailed and exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic.

The railway’s chairman has said the disaster appeared to have been caused by an engineer’s failure to set hand brakes on the train properly.

Forty seven dead.

Quebec targets CP Railway for Lac-Mégantic cleanup costs

The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, Aug. 14 2013, 5:22 PM EDT

The Quebec government added the Canadian Pacific Railway to its list of legal targets Wednesday, casting a wider net to recover millions of dollars in cleanup costs from the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

CPR was included as one of the defendants because, the government said Wednesday, it was the main contractor responsible for the fateful shipment that was supposed to send the cargo from North Dakota to a New Brunswick oil refinery.

It handed off the train in Montreal to the smaller Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd., which then operated the tanker train that jumped the tracks in Lac-Mégantic on July 6.

In one court filing, MM&A said its insurance coverage was $25-million and estimated the cleanup cost would climb past $200-million.

By adding the CPR to its legal notice, the Quebec government locked in on a bigger target than MM&A – one with much deeper pockets.

On Wednesday, the province also added another firm to the notice: World Fuel Services Inc., which is a subsidiary of the petroleum-logistics firm World Fuel Services Corp. The parent company and another subsidiary, Western Petroleum Company, were listed in the initial demand from the government.

The Miami-based World Fuel Services had bought the crude oil that was to be shipped to the Irving refinery in St. John, N.B.

World Fuel Services, Western Petroleum Company and MM&A are among 10 defendants listed in several wrongful-death lawsuits filed last month in an Illinois court. Both World Fuel Services and MM&A have also been named in a proposed class-action suit in Quebec.

Lac-Megantic Disaster: Canadian Pacific Railroad Rejects Quebec’s Demand For Money

By The Canadian Press

Posted: 08/15/2013 1:28 pm EDT

Canadian Pacific says it holds no financial responsibility for the Lac-Megantic disaster and is rejecting a legal demand by the provincial government that it help fund the cleanup of the devastated Quebec town.

Encrypted E-Mail , FISA and Our Privacy Rights

Last week, Lavabit, the privacy-conscious email service, suspended operations by its owner Ladar Levison while he fights the US government over Constitutional rights in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his letter to his customers, Mr. Levison wrote

My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.


Ladar Levison

Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

(emphasis mine)

Lavabit allows its customers send highly encrypted emails that even if intercepted by a third party could not be opened without a password. Based in the US, it is the e-mail service that was allegedly used by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In an exclusive interview with Amy Goodman on Tuesday’s Democracy Now!, Lavabit owner Ladar Levison and his lawyer, Jesse Binnall discuss why the decision was made to shut down rather than comply with a government order

Transcript can be read here

“I think if the American public knew what our government was doing, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore.

“I mean, there’s information that I can’t even share with my lawyer, let alone with the American public. So if we’re talking about secrecy, you know, it’s really been taken to the extreme.

“And I think it’s really being used by the current administration to cover up tactics that they may be ashamed of.”

~Ladar Levison~

Another encrypted service, Silent Circle has also announced it has shut down. Although it had not yet received any government requests for data, Silent Circle told Tech Crunch that it knew the government would come after them because of the high-profile nature of its users.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Robert Reich: The Real Price of Congress’s Gridlock

CONGRESS began its summer recess last week and won’t reconvene until after Labor Day. You’d be forgiven for not noticing a difference. With just 15 bills signed into law so far this year, the 113th Congress is on pace to be the most unproductive since at least the 1940s.

But just because the legislature has ceased to function doesn’t mean our government has. Political decision making has moved to peripheral public entities, where power is exercised less transparently and accountability to voters is less direct. What we’re losing in the process isn’t government – it’s democracy.

Eugene Robinson: What NSA Reforms?

President Obama’s message about the government’s massive electronic surveillance programs came through loud and clear: Get over it.

The president used more soothing words in his pre-vacation news conference Friday, but that was the gist. With perhaps the application of a fig leaf here and a sheen of legalistic mumbo jumbo there, the snooping will continue.

Unless, of course, we demand that it end.

The modest reforms Obama proposed do not begin to address the fundamental question of whether we want the National Security Agency to log all of our phone calls and read at least some of our emails, relying on secret judicial orders from a secret court for permission. The president indicated he is willing to discuss how all this is done-but not whether.

John Nichols: Next Fed Head Should Meet the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren Standard

No presidential appointment, no Senate confirmation, matters more than the one that will soon come for the post of chairman of the Federal Reserve.

If ever there was a time to ask for more-and better-this is it.

Yet, for the most part, official Washington is on autopilot, preparing for the replacement of outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke with another predictable insider-perhaps even a choice the ultimate predictable insider: former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

President Obama, who says he will make his selection this fall, has defended Summers. A number of prominent Democratic senators have suggested that the president consider a more appealing prospect: Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the board of governors of the Fed.

But not everyone is satisfied with predictable prospects, or politics as usual.

Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, keep making the right demands and asking the right questions.

Robert Fisk: Endless War on Terror Far From Noble Cause

It was George W. Bush who reacted to the 9/11 attacks as a manifestation of Evil, imposing upon the United States the duty to extirpate the Foul Fiend and his offspring Terror, so as to restore Virtue by means of global war.

This was completely familiar moral territory to 21st century Americans, who had never in 150 years fought a war that was not described in the language of religion. From 1861 forward, Americans were trampling out the vintage of the Lord’s wrath, answering the call of His trumpet that would never sound retreat, calling Americans to die to make men free. A noble task, if by now become a hollow one.

Robert Sheer: Restore Honor and Pardon Edward Snowden

How do you justify criminally charging a government contractor for revealing an alarming truth that the public has every right to know? That is the contradiction raised by President Obama now that he has, in effect, acknowledged that Edward Snowden was an indispensable whistle-blower who significantly raised public awareness about a government threat to our freedom.

Unfortunately, the president didn’t have the grace and courage to concede that precise point and remains committed to imprisoning Snowden instead of thanking him for serving the public interest. But Julian Assange, no stranger to unrequited integrity, nailed it. “Today, the president of the United States validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower by announcing plans to reform America’s global surveillance program,” the WikiLeaks founder said in a statement posted Saturday, the day after Obama’s remarks.

Jim Hightower: Corporate Greed Is Making Us Sick

Low-wage workers in the restaurant industry are particularly vulnerable and, since they handle food, particularly threatening. Nearly 80 percent of America’s food service workers receive no paid sick leave, and researchers have found that about half of them go to work ill because they fear losing their jobs if they don’t. As a result, a study by the Centers for Disease Control finds that ill workers are causing up to 80 percent of America’s stomach flu outbreaks, which is one reason CDC has declared our country’s lack of paid sick leave to be a major public health threat.

You’d think the industry itself would be horrified enough by this endangerment of its customers that it would take the obvious curative step of providing the leave. But au contraire, amigos, such huge and hugely profitable chains as McDonald’s, Red Lobster and Taco Bell not only fail to provide such commonsense care for their employees, but also have lobbied furiously against city and state efforts to require paid sick days.

On This Day In History August 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 15 is the 227th day of the year (228th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 138 days remaining until the end of the year.

While there were many significant events that happened on August 15, the most delightful and happily remember is Woodstock. Not many of my Baby Boomer generation remember that today Emperor Hirohito announced the unconditional surrender of Japan or that East Germany began the building of the Berlin Wall or that Malcolm slain Macbeth, it was peace, love and Rock N’ Roll in the mud with a lack of sanitary facilities but lots of music from some of the best at the Woodstock Festivalduring the weekend of August 15 to 18, 1969. The site was a dairy farm in West Lake, NY near the town of Bethel in Sullivan County, some 43 miles southwest from the actual town of Woodstock in Ulster County. During that rainy weekend some 500,000 concert goers became a pivotal moment in the history of Rock and Roll.

Peace, Drugs and Rock N’Roll. Rock On.

Around the Blogosphere

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

It has been a busy week, with not enough time to cover the other important news, events and just some “stuff”.

First some the election news.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker won the Democratic nomination to fill the Senate vacancy in New Jersey that was left with the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. He beat Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone.  But, hey, what’s another corporate “bright shiny object” in the Senate. He will face Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election on October 16.

In the New York City mayoral primaries, the focus has been on the Democrats. Anthony Weiner’s lack of self control and awareness has him sinking in the polls giving liberal Bill De Blasio, the current Public Advocate, a chance to shine and shine he did. De Balsio has taken the lead from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. according to Tuesday’s Quinnapiac poll:

Among likely Democratic voters, de Blasio took 30 percent of the vote, followed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 24 percent, former comptroller Bill Thompson at 22 percent, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) at 10 percent, comptroller John Liu at 6 percent and former council member Sal Albanese at 1 percent. Another 7 percent was undecided.

De Blasio also held the lead in three potential runoff scenarios, beating Quinn by 54 percent to 38 percent, Thompson by 50 percent to 40 percent, and Weiner by a whopping 72 percent to 22 percent.

De Blasio’s opposition to Stop n’ Frisk and message that appeals to the middle and working classes have started to resonate.

In the race for NYC’s Comptroller, former governor Eliot Spitzer has a 19 point lead over his opponent Manhattan Borough President Scott Springer. Wall Steet is not happy. Good. They should be afraid. Eliot with subpoena power may be an awesome sight.

The three Republican candidates, John Catsimatidis, George McDonald and Joseph Lhota, met for a debate last night. Essentially their message was: “Good job, Bloomie” and promised more of the same. Not exactly a winning message, guys.

Any way, the NYC primary day is September 10, then the real fun begins.

On to the blogs.

From Firedoglake:

TBogg says his “farewell” to his blog at FDL, at last.

Over at Corrente:

Lambert‘s Obamacare Cluster F**k continues:

This from lambert will either make you sick or raise your blood pressure to stroke levels:

Then he asks this question:

From transcriber:

At naked capitalism:

From Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel:

From our friends at Voices on the Square:

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

I knew there was another reason I admired Bette Midler other than her singing:

h/t Atrios at Eschaton

The woman rocks in more ways than you’d expect.