Daily Archive: 02/19/2014

Feb 19 2014

Obama Sycophants Clapping Louder are Building the Keystone Pipeline Faster

Therefore, I have to tell them a few things: Obots, you didn't really care about the environment. You wanna know why Obama's Keystone pipeline is going through no matter what you do? He knows the columns covering his ass are already written, by you, in anticipation. So why would he care what you're doing?

Feb 19 2014

What’s the Fracking Problem in OK, KS & PA?

If rising temperatures and sea levels from climate change don’t get us, maybe an earthquake or toxic fumes from hydraulic fracturing will. Meanwhile the oil companies continue to dig these wells with minimum regulation or information on the impact to the environment. What we do know is rather frightening when the earth moves under your feet especially where it’s not expected

No strangers to nature’s fury, Oklahomans grow up accustomed scorching heat, blizzards, wrecking-ball thunderstorms and tornadoes. What they don’t see a lot of are earthquakes, which have been rattling the Sooner State with rare frequency of late – at least 115 earthquakes of varying intensities in the last week. [..]

State authorities are now trying to get the bottom of the unusual seismic activity. Holland is amassing resources and data to figure out what might be to blame, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry, has already proposed new testing and monitoring requirements for wells injected with drilling wastewater, which some have blamed for the increase in earthquakes. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, involving explosions being set off underground, has also been blamed by some for the swarm. [..]

It’s true that Oklahoma has a history of earthquake swarms that spike and then die down, but it’s also true that humans have caused earthquakes in the past. And previous swarms have been nowhere near as serious as this latest one. “We do know there have been some earthquakes caused by oil and gas activity in the state,” Holland, the research seismologist, said. “The hard part is figuring out which is which.”

At least on governor is concerned about public safety enough to appoint a commission to look into the unusual seismic activity in his state.

Calling it a “matter of public safety,” Gov. Sam Brownback has appointed a committee to study whether oil and gas activity is behind the recent spate of minor earthquakes in Kansas.

Expansion of the oil and gas recovery method known as “fracking” has coincided with a series of small quakes in areas that had long been seismically stable. Fracking doesn’t appear to cause the problem, but an increase in oil and gas production and disposal of waste fluids associated with fracking could be behind the recent temblors that have shaken south-central Kansas and northern Oklahoma, scientists said Monday.

Free Pizza & Soda from Chevron photo pizza-letter_zps695dcf1c.jpg In Dunkard Township, Pennsylvania, 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, two of Chevron’s natural gas wells exploded last week burning for five days, leaving one worker injured and another missing and presumed dead. After the fires were out, Chevron sent a letter of apology to the residents of the nearby town of Bobtown. Included in the letter was a coupon for a free large pizza and a 2-liter bottle of soda.

Besides the ground shaking, contamination of underground water supplies, explosions and fires, another problem has arisen, literally, increased air pollution to the point that the air is so toxic that it is making people sick. A study released by The Weather Channel, the Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News looked into just how bad the air quality has become near the Eagle Ford Shale site in southern Texas. The summary of their findings describes how the Texas regulators are protecting the industry rather than the public:

   

  • Texas’ air monitoring system is so flawed that the state knows almost nothing about the extent of the pollution in the Eagle Ford. Only five permanent air monitors are installed in the 20,000-square-mile region, and all are at the fringes of the shale play, far from the heavy drilling areas where emissions are highest.
  • Thousands of oil and gas facilities, including six of the nine production sites near the Buehrings’ house, are allowed to self-audit their emissions without reporting them to the state. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which regulates most air emissions, doesn’t even know some of these facilities exist. An internal agency document acknowledges that the rule allowing this practice “[c]annot be proven to be protective.”
  • Companies that break the law are rarely fined. Of the 284 oil and gas industry-related complaints filed with the TCEQ by Eagle Ford residents between Jan. 1, 2010, and Nov. 19, 2013, only two resulted in fines despite 164 documented violations. The largest was just $14,250. (Pending enforcement actions could lead to six more fines).
  • The Texas legislature has cut the TCEQ’s budget by a third since the Eagle Ford boom began, from $555 million in 2008 to $372 million in 2014. At the same time, the amount allocated for air monitoring equipment dropped from $1.2 million to $579,000.
  • The Eagle Ford boom is feeding an ominous trend: A 100 percent statewide increase in unplanned, toxic air releases associated with oil and gas production since 2009. Known as emission events, these releases are usually caused by human error or faulty equipment.
  • Residents of the mostly rural Eagle Ford counties are at a disadvantage even in Texas, because they haven’t been given air quality protections, such as more permanent monitors, provided to the wealthier, more suburban Barnett Shale region near Dallas-Fort Worth.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow examined some of the ills of fracking and discusses the report with Jim Morris, senior reporter and editor at the Center for Public Integrity.



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here

Feb 19 2014

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Comcast-Time Warner Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

One thing is certain about Comcast’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable: It doesn’t pass the smell test. Comcast claims that the combination of the number one and number two cable companies will somehow enhance rather than diminish competition and lead to greater consumer satisfaction. Don’t worry, Godzilla will play nice on the playground. [..]

Comcast is just digesting its previous mega-merger, the takeover of NBC Universal that should have been blocked by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). That leaves Comcast controlling an empire that includes NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Telemundo and other networks.

Here the merger doesn’t just impact the marketplace of cable; it threatens the marketplace of ideas. The protection of free speech under our Constitution depends on citizens having access to many ideas, many sources, many ways of getting ideas and information. Letting mega-corporations consolidate control of key parts of the media infrastructure is a direct threat to that access.

Ana Marie Cox: If the 1% wants class warfare, maybe it’s time to start fighting back

What Tom Perkins and Co don’t know can only make the rest of us stronger

The White House administration official who proposed taking on “income inequality” as the dominant theme of Obama’s second term must have thought the move was at least halfway clever: I mean, try as the Right may to argue against the administration’s preferred mechanisms to undo income inequality, honestly, what kind of jerk would straight-up defend it?

Well, it turns out there are two kinds. Call them the emotional alarmist and the pseudo-scientific apologist. Both variations were on display in the past week, in the form of zillionaire Tom Perkins and economist-to-the-zillionaires, former Romney adviser Greg Mankiw. Both Perkins and Mankiw are correct to be worried about how the widening income gap might inspire more class consciousness. They’re just wrong about which side is the underdog.

Jill Filpovic: Kansas’ anti-gay bill: another attempt to force warped Christianity on others

Conservatives keep trying to use America’s religious freedom as a way to limit everyone else’s rights

Last week, the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill (pdf) that would have broadly legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians. Luckily, after national outrage, the bill was halted. But the fight isn’t over: the bill’s reliance on religious freedom to justify discrimination is a sign of right-wing efforts to come. [..]

The many of us who abhor blatant, legal discrimination are rightly incensed about even the fact that this law was ever put on the table. But we should also see it for what it is: just one piece of a much larger puzzle. The really crucial part – the legal backing for laws like this one – will be decided by the US supreme court very soon. If the court allows for as expansive interpretations of religious freedom as the anti-ACA plaintiffs have argued, expect to see more of these laws proposed and passed in the states. And then, segregating Friends of Dorothy won’t just be in Kansas anymore.

Dinah PoKempner: Privacy in the Age of Surveillance

A strong global right to electronic privacy demands recognition, in U.S. law and internationally.

President Obama had a signature opportunity in his January speech to limit the damage Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance had done to U.S. foreign relations. But global response has been rather cool.

Obama called for increased transparency and an institutional advocate for civil liberties before the secret court that oversees the NSA. He recognized that foreigners have an interest in the privacy of their communications. And he announced future restrictions on the use of acquired data as well as his hope to move data storage out of the NSA’s hands. Yet he made clear he did not intend to end bulk collection of data or give foreigners legal rights to defend their privacy against unwarranted U.S. spying. [..]

The administration can do so by immediately ending its indiscriminate, bulk interception programs, giving foreigners the same protections as citizens against unjustified invasion of privacy, ending efforts to weaken privacy protections in both the technical and legal domain, and proposing laws to help these changes survive into the next administration.

And it might help if Obama found a way to enable the man who started the debate – Edward Snowden – to come home without fearing a lifetime in prison. After all, one day they may both be Nobel laureates.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz: Secretary Kerry Is Right. Climate Change Needs to Be Tackled Like a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Secretary Kerry got it right when he identified climate change as one of the most urgent issues facing the world in a February 16 speech in Jakarta. Kerry got it right on the science, the urgency, and the opportunity to be found in clean energy solutions. He ranked climate change right up there with “terrorism, epidemics, poverty, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” He also got it right that we have the clean energy ability to tackle climate change and that American leadership and action is critical as part of the global solution. The US government is moving ahead to reduce carbon pollution at its source from our cars, trucks and power plants. We also need to reject major new infrastructure projects for dirty fuels starting with denial of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permit. The US can do this without Congressional action, but strong public support is still critical in standing up to the fossil fuel industry and climate deniers. History will remember our actions – and our inactions. It is actions such as these at home that send the strongest message to the world that the US is serious about climate change.

Feb 19 2014

Ev’rybody Wants To Go To Heaven

Feb 19 2014

A Long and Storied Tradition

On the UK’s Equating of Journalism With Terrorism

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

19 Feb 2014, 5:24 AM EST

It is not difficult to apprehend the reason the UK government is so desperate to criminalize this reporting. The GCHQ itself made the reason clear in a once-secret memo previously reported by the Guardian. The British agency “has repeatedly warned it fears a ‘damaging public debate’ on the scale of its activities because it could lead to legal challenges against its mass-surveillance programmes.” Among other things, “GCHQ feared a legal challenge under the right to privacy in the Human Rights Act if evidence of its surveillance methods became admissible in court.” In particular, the spying agency feared that disclosures “could lead to damaging public debate which might lead to legal challenges against the current regime.” Privacy groups have now commenced such lawsuits against the GCHQ.

In sum, the UK Government wants to stop disclosure of its mass surveillance activities not because it fears terrorism or harm to national security but because it fears public debate, legal challenges and accountability. That is why the U.K. government considers this journalism to be “terrorism”: because it undermines the interests and power of British political officials, not the safety of the citizenry. I’ve spent years arguing that the word “terrorism” in the hands of western governments has been deprived of all consistent meaning other than “that which challenges our interests”, and I never imagined that we would be gifted with such a perfectly compelling example of this proposition.

Feb 19 2014

On This Day In History February 19

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.

February 19 is the 50th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 315 days remaining until the end of the year (316 in leap years).

On this day in 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country. For the next two and a half years, many of these Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment by their military guards.

The Order

The order authorized the Secretary of War and U.S. armed forces commanders to declare areas of the United States as military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded,” although it did not name any nationality or ethnic group. It was eventually applied to one-third of the land area of the U.S. (mostly in the West) and was used against those with “Foreign Enemy Ancestry” – Japanese.

The order led to the internment of Japanese Americans or AJAs (Americans of Japanese Ancestry); some 120,000 ethnic Japanese people were held in internment camps for the duration of the war. Of the Japanese interned, 62% were Nisei (American-born, second-generation Japanese American and therefore American citizens) or Sansei (third-generation Japanese American, also American citizens) and the rest were Issei (Japanese immigrants and resident aliens, first-generation Japanese American).

Japanese Americans were by far the most widely affected group, as all persons with Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast and southern Arizona. As then California Attorney General Earl Warren put it, “When we are dealing with the Caucasian race we have methods that will test the loyalty of them. But when we deal with the Japanese, we are on an entirely different field.” In Hawaii, where there were 140,000 Americans of Japanese Ancestry (constituting 37% of the population), only selected individuals of heightened perceived risk were interned.

Americans of Italian and German ancestry were also targeted by these restrictions, including internment. 11,000 people of German ancestry were interned, as were 3,000 people of Italian ancestry, along with some Jewish refugees. The Jewish refugees who were interned came from Germany, and the U.S. government didn’t differentiate between ethnic Jews and ethnic Germans (jewish was defined as religious practice). Some of the internees of European descent were interned only briefly, and others were held for several years beyond the end of the war. Like the Japanese internees, these smaller groups had American-born citizens in their numbers, especially among the children. A few members of ethnicities of other Axis countries were interned, but exact numbers are unknown.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson was responsible for assisting relocated people with transport, food, shelter, and other accommodations.

Opposition

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover opposed the internment, not on constitutional grounds, but because he believed that the most likely spies had already been arrested by the FBI shortly after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was also opposed to Executive Order 9066. She spoke privately many times with her husband, but was unsuccessful in convincing him not to sign it

Post World War II

Executive Order 9066 was rescinded by Gerald Ford on February 19, 1976. In 1980, Jimmy Carter signed legislation to create the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). The CWRIC was appointed to conduct an official governmental study of Executive Order 9066, related wartime orders, and their impact on Japanese Americans in the West and Alaska Natives in the Pribilof Islands.

In December 1982, the CWRIC issued its findings in Personal Justice Denied, concluding that the incarceration of Japanese Americans had not been justified by military necessity. The report determined that the decision to incarcerate was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The Commission recommended legislative remedies consisting of an official Government apology and redress payments of $20,000 to each of the survivors; a public education fund was set up to help ensure that this would not happen again (Public Law 100-383).

On August 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, based on the CWRIC recommendations, was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. On November 21, 1989, George H.W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing payments to be paid out between 1990 and 1998. In 1990, surviving internees began to receive individual redress payments and a letter of apology.

Feb 19 2014

Snowden’s Lawyer Interrogated in UK

It should not come as a surprise that Jesselyn Radack, a human rights advocate, whistleblower group member and lawyer to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was detained and interrogated when she arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport. Firedoglake’s KEvin Gosztola spoke with Ms. Radack after the incident which she described as “very hostile.”

As Radack recalled, she was asked why she was here. “To see friends,” she answered. “Who will you be seeing?” She answered, “A group called Sam Adams Associates.”

The agent wanted to know who was in the group. “Ray McGovern, Annie Machon, Thomas Drake, Craig Murray,” she answered. She said she is part of the group as well.

“Where will you meet?” Radack answered, “At the Ecuadorian Embassy.” Then, the agent asked, “With Julian Assange?” Radack said yes.

The interrogation continued, “Why have you gone to Russia twice in three months?” Radack said she had a client in the country. “Who?” She answered, “Edward Snowden.”

“Who is Edward Snowden?” asked the agent. Radack said he is a whistleblower and an asylee. Then, the agent asked, “Who is Bradley Manning?” To this, she answered, “A whistleblower.”

For whatever reason, the agent asked, “Where is he?” “In jail,” Radack told the agent. (Now, she is known as Chelsea Manning.)

The agent said, “So he’s a criminal?” Radack corrected the agent, “He’s a political prisoner.” The agent asked if she represented Manning and she said no. Then he followed up, “But you represent Snowden?” She replied, “Yes, I’m a human rights lawyer.”

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was traveling with her, witnessed the questioning, said the border agent had a “threatening demeanor.” Ms. Raddack was informed by the agent that she has been placed on US Department of Homeland Security “inhibited persons list” which was created in March of 2012 as an effort to impose US laws on the rest of the world. The United Kingdom agreed to the new rules to provide information to the DHS even if the passenger of all nationalities, is not traveling to the US.

Ms. Radack told RT News about the humiliating ordeal and her concerns:

“Clearly any kind of line of questioning into the details of my work and specific clients is beyond the ambit of what any normal customs official would ask,” Radack told RT.

“I feel like lawyers and journalists are now beginning to be targeted at the borders of countries in the Western Hemisphere, in so-called democratic countries.It’s a threat to press freedoms when journalists are questioned. And it’s a threat to the integrity of the judicial system when attorney who are working on someone’s case are being harassed or intimidated on the basis of who they represent.” [..]

Following the ordeal at Heathrow, Radack came out with a public statement denouncing the whole practice and the harassment it often entails: “The government, whether in the US, UK or elsewhere does not have the authority to monitor, harass or intimidate lawyers for representing unpopular clients.” [..]

Radack once told RT that despite the fact that “it’s a dangerous time for whistleblowers in the US,” Snowden’s revelations have had a big effect as “courage is contagious.” She added that “I really think [Snowden] has had a wonderful effect [on] the US and the world.”

Ms. Radack spoke with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman from London.



Transcript can be read here

The US and the UK have evolved into fascist states something thath they fought against in 1940.

Feb 19 2014

XXII Day 12

Last chance for the pants.  Hockey Heating up

    Time     Network Event
5 pm CNBC Curling, men’s tie breaker: Norway vs. Great Britain.
5 pm Vs. Hockey, men’s elimination round: Czech Republic vs. Slovakia.
8 pm NBC Alpine skiing: women’s giant slalom gold medal final; freestyle skiing: men’s halfpipe gold medal final; snowboarding: men’s snowboard cross final; bobsled: women’s competition; short track: women’s 3000m relay gold medal final.
1 am NBC Biathlon: men’s 15km mass start gold medal final; short track: women’s 1000m competition.
2 am NBC Alpine skiing: women’s giant slalom gold medal final; freestyle skiing: men’s halfpipe gold medal final; snowboarding: men’s snowboard cross final; bobsled: women’s competition; short track: women’s 3000m relay gold medal final. (repeat)
3 am Vs. Hockey, men’s first quarterfinal: Sweden vs. Slovenia.
3 am USA Curling: women’s semifinal.
5:30 am Vs. Snowboarding: men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom gold medal final; cross-country skiing: women’s team sprint gold medal final.
7:30 am Vs. Hockey, men’s second quarterfinal: Finland vs. Russia.
9 am MSNBC Curling: women’s semifinal.
10 am Vs. Figure skating: ladies’ short program, part 1.
11:45 am Vs. Figure skating: ladies’ short program, part 2.
noon MSNBC Hockey, men’s third quarterfinal: Canada vs. Team TBA.
noon USA Hockey, men’s fourth quarterfinal: USA vs. Team TBA.
2:30 pm MSNBC Curling: men’s semifinal.
3 pm NBC Speed skating: women’s 5000m gold medal final; cross-country skiing: men’s and women’s team sprint gold medal finals.
3 pm Vs. Hockey.
5 pm CNBC Curling: men’s semifinal.
5 pm Vs. Hockey: Game of the Day.

Tuesday medal results are below the fold. ~TMC~