|By: dakine01 Thursday May 5, 2011 1:28 pm|
|By: Daniel Marks Saturday May 18, 2013 4:53 pm|
We need to come to grips with the futility of our current efforts to put our government on the right course. We are becoming serfs of a corporate oligarchy. Our nation needs repair. We need to remember what being American is all about.
The Problem: Our government is broken.
This point is obvious, we all understand that our government is unable to pay its own bills or pass meaningful legislation that can address the many problems that vex our nation.
Alexander Hamilton wrote, “As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature; it is what neither the honorable member nor myself can correct. It is a common misfortunate that awaits our State constitution, as well as all others.”
We have all seen the political gamesmanship that leads to lopsided wins for parties but even when each have great majorities, there is no progress. Now our government is evenly split between the two parties and still more of the same gridlock and inaction in a prolonged national economic crisis. They managed to make it worse by a self imposed sequestration that is quietly going to stick around.
The Solution: We the People are the answer.
Do not look to the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court to guide us out of the darkness. These institutions and governmental functions, though thoughtfully designed by our founders, have failed us. The reason? The ultimate check and balance to governmental power put into place by our founders has not been exercised… That is up to each of us.
As George Washington told us in his Farewell Address, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, ’till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all.”
When we talk about how to reverse Citizens United and regain our representation, the answers are not so obvious. Limiting political speech is very complex. Should we ban all political contributions from citizens and voters too? Some say we should while others say we should only ban corporations from contributing, but what about the unions?
There is no single person who is so brilliant that they know the answers to all of our problems. The solutions are not obvious and only We the People have the ability to determine what is right. We need to build consensus around these changes or they may backfire. This will not be easy, yet we cannot avoid the heavy lifting and we cannot shy away from uncertainty when our present course is so unsustainable and destructive.
The Method: An Article V convention to propose amendments
For those that have been educated about this method to circumvent Congress in a time such as this, most would consider this option unattainable. Sure, we have the convention clause in our Constitution but since we have never used it before, it will never happen, right? Wrong.
“This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be the best for themselves.”
~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter To Samuel Kercheval – Monticello, July 12, 1816
We Are Already Making Progress. We will soon find out how far from an Article V convention we really are. Through the years, there have been hundreds of State applications for an Article V convention. Now, for the first time in US history, those of us in the group ArticleV.org, have requested an official tabulation of state applications for an Article V convention. If the number of states is more than 34, the call from Congress to assemble a convention is mandatory under Article V of the Constitution. They have no choice; they cannot scuttle it to a committee or have an endless debate about it.
The Article V Convention process was designed and placed in our US Constitution this way because our forefathers knew that Congress could present a problem when states apply for the convention, particularly a congress gone out of control and otherwise unaccountable to the people. The Article V convention process is how our forefathers planned to ensure that the result of their work was better than what they started with, and that we the people would continue to have a voice in shaping and designing our government.
The Conclusion: An era of healing must begin.
Just because we assemble in a convention does not mean we are guaranteed success. We need to put aside our differences and come together as a nation. We cannot be successful if we sit down as one side of the political spectrum. There will be no progress if the Convention is Democrat vs. Republican or Tea Party vs Occupy, or Gay Rights Activists vs. religious fundamentalists. We need to understand that even those who are in the same groups are different. When we peel back layers of our differences, what remains is America.
We are brothers, friends, and patriots. When was the last time you heard any politician refer to America as a melting pot? We need to find that spirit which has made our nation so great and it begins with accepting each other as Americans. We need to begin to heal from decades of division and the pain of tragedies we have all experienced. We need to make this world livable for our grandchildren and their kids. America lost dignity in recent years and we are not the same nation we once were, but we are not helpless.
by Walter Brasch
Julia Trigg Crawford of Direct, Texas, is the manager of a 650-acre farm that her grandfather first bought in 1948. The farm produces mostly corn, wheat, and soy. On its north border is the Red River; to the west is the Bois d’Arc Creek.
TransCanada is an Alberta-based corporation that is building the controversial Keystone Pipeline that will carry bitumen—thicker, more corrosive and toxic, than crude oil—through 36-inch diameter pipes from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast, mostly to be exported. The $2.3 billion southern segment, about 485 miles from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast is nearly complete. With the exception of a 300-mile extension between Cushing and Steele City, Neb., the rest of the $7 billion 1,959 mile pipeline is being held up until President Obama either succumbs to corporate and business pressures or blocks the construction because of environmental and health concerns.
When TransCanada first approached Crawford’s father in 2008, and offered to pay about $7,000 for easement rights, he refused, telling the company, “We don’t want you here.” He said the corporation could reroute the line, just as other pipeline companies in oil-rich Texas had done for decades. TransCanada increased the offer in the following years, but the family still refused. In August 2012, with Dick Crawford’s daughter, Julia Trigg Crawford now managing the farm, TransCanada offered $21,626 for an easement—and a threat. “We were given three days to accept their offer,” she says, “and if we didn’t, they would condemn the land and seize it anyway.” She still refused.
And so, TransCanada, a foreign corporation exercised the right of eminent domain to seize two acres of the farm so it could build a pipeline.
Governments may seize private property if that property must be taken for public use and the owner is given fair compensation. Although the exercise of eminent domain to seize land for the public good is commonly believed to be restricted to the government, federal law permits natural gas companies to use it. To get that “right,” all TransCanada had to do was fill out a one-page form and check a box that the corporation to declare itself to be a “common carrier.” The Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas in Texas, merely processes the paper, rather than investigates the claim; it has admitted it has never denied “common carrier” status. In the contorted logic that is often spun by corporations, TransCanada then declared itself to be a common carrier because the Railroad Commission said it was, even though the Commission’s jurisdiction applies only to intrastate, not interstate, carriers.
On Aug. 21, 2012, the day before Judge Bill Harris of Lamar County rendered his decision on Crawford’s complaint, the sheriff, with the judge’s signature, issued a writ of possession giving TransCanada the right to seize the land. The next day, Harris issued a 15-word decision, transmitted by his iPhone, that upheld TransCanada’s rights. In Texas, as in most states, the landowner can only challenge the settlement not the action.
Crawford’s refusal to sell is based upon a mixture of reasons. The Crawford Farm is home to one of the most recognized Caddo Nation Indian burial sites in Texas, and the 30 acre pasture that TransCanada wants to trench represents the southern most boundary of this archeological site. Both the Texas Historical Commission and TransCanada’s archeological firm concur that the vast majority of this 30 acres pasture in question qualifies for the National Registry of Historic Places. An archeological dig undertaken after TransCanada showed up to seize the land recovered 145 artifacts in just a 1,200 foot by 20 foot section, and three feet deep. But the executive director of the Texas Historical Commission recently sent a letter stating that no new artifacts had been found in the slice of land TransCanada planned to build.
Another reason Crawford refused to be bought out was that she didn’t want TransCanada to drill under the Bois d’Arc Creek “where we have state-given water rights.” That creek irrigates about 400 acres of her land. “Any leak, she says, “would contaminate our equipment, and then our crops in minutes.” It isn’t unreasonable to expect there will be an incident that could pollute the water, air, and soil for several miles.
During the past decade, there were 6,367 pipeline incidents, resulting in 154 deaths, 540 injuries, and more than 56 injuries, and $4.7 billion in property damage, according to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. A report released a year ago by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute concludes that economic damage caused by potential spills from the Keystone pipeline could outweigh the benefits of jobs created by the project. In the past three years, there have already been 14 spills on the operational parts of the Keystone Pipeline.
|By: fairleft Tuesday March 22, 2011 6:31 pm|
AFP quickly wraps up the latest from Syria:
Already weakened by political infighting, Syria’s opposition has been dealt another blow by the posting online of videos purporting to show rebel fighters committing atrocities, analysts say.
And on the back foot due to army advances on the ground, the opposition is also under international pressure to enter into dialogue with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Videos posted online that showed a rebel mutilating a soldier’s corpse, and of a jihadist summarily executing 11 Assad supporters “will undermine the opposition’s narrative of an uprising against a dictator”, said Swedish expert on Syria, Aron Lund.
Oh yeah, our mainstream propaganda’s precious narrative. Don’t speak too soon Aron, the narrative lives, at least in the U.S., in ways like this courtesy of Angry Arab (links in original and I always modify AA’s crappy grammar):
Syrian rebels eating internal organs: Guardian versus the New York Times
Look how the Guardian reports it: “‘Anti-Assad fighter appears to eat internal organ of dead government soldier in horrific video’: “The figure in the video cuts the heart and liver out of the body and uses sectarian language to insult Alawites [Assad's minority sect]. At the end of the video [the man] is filmed putting the corpse’s heart into his mouth, as if he is taking a bite out of it.”
And now look at how Syrian “revolution” groupie Anne Barnard [of the New York Times] reports it, and notice the title is about Syrian regime crime: “One rebel commander recently filmed himself cutting out an organ of a dead pro-government fighter, biting it and promising the same fate to Alawites, members of Mr. Assad’s Shiite Muslim sect.”
AA doesn’t clarify that this first reference, to an atrocity recorded proudly by its perpetrator on video, is buried in the second sentence (the first sentence is propaganda accusing the Syrian army of being anti-Islamic) of the fourth paragraph of a ‘story’ whose first three paragraphs transcribe evidence-free atrocity accusations against the Syrian government. Angry Arab sums up Western ‘reporting’
on the incident:
That face of Syrian “revolutionaries”: munching on body organs
Did you notice how defensive Western media are about that video? I note these reactions:
1) The New York Times as usual buries the story under a different story about crimes of the regime.
2) Many news media reported that the guy is really upset because he saw crimes by the Syrian regime.
3) Some media actually quibbled with the facts: that he did not really eat the heart of the man but ate parts of the lung.
4) Many news media opted to totally ignore the story.
5) Many media put the story in the context of war crimes in Syria where the regime is solely responsible.
6) Some media focused on the man, saying that he really is not representative.
So, I disagree with the sense that imperial propaganda’s narrative no longer reigns supreme, though it is surely shaken in the _immediate_ aftermath of the grisly body parts eating video. The real hope, though, is for an ever-rapider decline in the credibility and viewership of that propaganda and that media. The imperial media takes hit after hit but its careerism requires that it not abandon its narrative no matter how foolish, so it suffers the consequences. And those are good consequences for anyone who wants a public better-informed, or at least less disinformed by capitalist and imperial greed.
The real news alternatives — more accurate and more fun — are out there just waiting to be better organized and delivered. Here are some very recent Syria accounts from what might be, in a sane and democratic media, a counter-narrative at least on an equal footing with the imperial one:
May 18: Vote Reflects Shift in Syrian Public Opinion (Franklin Lamb: “Opinion in Damascus and surrounding areas visited this past week, confirms this observer’s experience the past five months of a sharp and fairly rapid shift in opinion that now strongly favors letting the Syrian people themselves decide, without outside interference, whether the Assad regime will stay, and indeed, whether, the Baathist party will continue to represent majority opinion, not through wanton violence but rather via next June’s election.”)
May 17: The main opposition National Coalition now has to decide whether to take part in an international conference called by Moscow and Washington to push for a political solution … The [group], which insists that Assad’s departure is a key condition for a political solution, will decide in an Istanbul meeting on May 23 whether it will take part in the international conference.
May 15: Syria: Civilians Come Under Fire From Rebels (“The demonstrators were predominantly Syrian Palestinians, many from the Yarmouk district of Damascus who had fled when it was taken over by opposition forces eight months ago. Some screamed at us: ‘Please tell the world the truth! We don’t want the fighters here, we want the army to kill them!”)
May 14: Syrian Rebels Face Increasing Criticism For Human Rights Violations – Analysis (by IRIN, “the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”)
May 14: In Cairo, desperate Egyptian men search in vain for Syrian brides (“Men across the region are now seeking Syrian brides. In Turkey and Jordan, where refugee camps pepper the landscape, the desperation of the Syrians is far easier to spot as rich Persian Gulf men scour the camps to buy brides living in tents. Rape, child brides and temporary marriages are prevalent.”)
|By: Elliott Thursday July 28, 2011 2:00 pm|
Today, 5pm ET, 2pm PT
Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles
Chat with James C. Goodale about his new book. Hosted by Kevin Gosztola.
On June 13, 1971, the New York Times published on its front page a series of confidential documents outlining U.S. government policy on the war in Vietnam. These documents had been secretly leaked from the Department of Defense to reporters at the New York Times.
There followed a period of intense debate, carried out in the board rooms of the newspaper, the offices of its legal counsel, and ultimately the law courts of the nation over whether or not publishing these documents would be in the country’s interest. The June 30, 1971 Supreme Court decision was a landmark in the history of press freedom.
James Goodale, chief counsel for the Times during the Pentagon Papers, tells the behind-the-scenes stories of the internal debates – legal, political, economic and corporate – and the reasoning behind the strategy that emerged. Goodale narrative follows those weeks in June when the press’s freedom of speech came under its most sustained assault since the Second World War.
This is the story of a constitutional victory whose lessons are as essential today as they were in the 1970s – and of the personalities involved, including a disillusioned intellectual, aggressive reporters, meticulous editors, a cautious publisher, a vengeful attorney general, a beleaguered president and, in the middle of it all, the lawyer who urged his clients to fight for the First Amendment.
James Goodale, Chief Counsel for the New York Times during the Pentagon Papers case, is a leading legal expert on the First Amendment. (CUNY Journalism Press)
|By: Ruth Calvo Wednesday September 14, 2011 7:01 pm|
(Picture courtesy of Calgary Reviews at flickr.com.)
Maybe you guessed, this is in time for Memorial Day, and if you haven’t had ribs, this may be a good time. For barbequing, there are lots of special recipes, but I like the excellent sauces that come already made, and have no problems in using what the store offers.
What works best for backyard barbeque is the baby back ribs in the pork section from your grocer’s meat department. Get enough so everyone will have four to six ribs, more for big eaters. Have several kinds of sauce on the table, but use a mild on for preparation.
….precook your ribs to speed up the process or to increase the tenderness of the ribs. Ribs cooked on a barbecue smoker at a low temperature for several hours will be very tender. Ribs cooked on a grill, especially a gas grill, will not be as tender even cooked indirectly. To make your ribs tenderer you can precook by either boiling the ribs for about 30 minutes or by placing them in a slow cooker. This will get the ribs going and not dried out. Once you are ready to grill then you can season the ribs and cook them indirectly until done. The disadvantage of this is that the ribs will not absorb the flavor of the smoke very well and you can literally boil out the flavor of the meat. Remember, if you boil, slow cook, or oven roast ribs it must be at a low temperature, around 200 to 225 degrees F.
Now when it comes to seasoning ribs you want to be very conservative. Good ribs have a great flavor all to themselves. It is also important to avoid adding barbecue sauce to ribs early in the process. Most barbecue sauces, whether store bought or homemade, contain some kind of sugar (tomatoes contain sugar). This can cause your barbecue ribs to burn, even cooked indirectly. I suggest using a good rub before you grill and maybe a barbecue sauce after the grilling is done. However if you want to use a sauce, try using a mop. A mop is a thin barbecue sauce (mainly vinegar or water) that you brush on during grilling to help maintain moisture and to add flavor. Sometimes you will hear it referred to as a baste.
So remember, keep the temperature low. A good grilling temperature for barbecue ribs is about 225 degrees F. Also keep a close eye on your ribs. Once the surface of the meat starts to burn there’s no going back. Another good tip is to fill a spray bottle with a thin barbecue sauce. By thin I mean practically water. I use a mixture of paprika, water and a few other seasonings. By spraying the ribs with this mixture during grilling you will add moisture, reduce burning and add flavor to your barbecue ribs.
For my taste, spicy is best, but have something mild like honey mustard barbeque for the more squeamish eater.
To go with this, for some reason in Texas the restaurants serve plain white bread. Also sliced onions, pickled green tomatoes, and big dill pickles. All good.
For accompaniment, some kind of baked beans are usually around. To fill out the menu, I always want some potato salad as well.
|By: Steve Horn Saturday May 18, 2013 8:41 am|
Friday is the proverbial “take out the trash day” for the release of bad news among public relations practitioners and this Friday was no different.
In that vein, yesterday the Obama Department of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional approval of the second-ever LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal.
LNG is the super-chilled final product of gas obtained – predominantly in today’s context – via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process taking place within shale deposits located throughout the U.S. Fracked gas is shipped from the multitude of domestic shale basins in pipelines to various coastal LNG terminals, and then sent on LNG tankers to the global market.
The name of the terminal: Freeport LNG.
Freeport LNG is 50-percent owned by ConocoPhillips and located in Freeport, Texas, an hour-long car ride south of Houston. The export facility is the second one approved by the Obama DOE, with the first one – the Sabine Pass terminal, owned by Cheniereand located in Sabine Pass, Louisiana - approved in May 2011.
DOE gave its rubber stamp of approval to Freeport LNG to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of LNG per day from its terminal.
Moniz’s DOE is Dept. of LNG Exports
The announcement comes in the aftermath of an April DeSmogBlog investigation revealing that recently confirmed Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz - a former member of the Board of Directors of ICF International – has a binder full of conflicts-of-interest in any decision the DOE makes to export the U.S. shale gas bounty.
As we explained in that investigation, a Feb. 2013 “study” published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and conducted on its behalf by ICF International concluded exporting shale gas was on the economically sound up-and-up.
ICF is a consulting firm that teams up with oil and gas industry corporations and was one of three firms that did the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on behalf of the U.S. State Department for the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. The SEIS was published in March 2013.
Furthermore, among the members of the Obama Administration’s industry-stacked DOE Fracking Subcommittee formed in May 2011 was Kathleen “Katie” McGinty. McGinty formerly served as Vice President Al Gore’s top climate aide during the Clinton Administration, segueing from that position into one as chair of the Clinton Council on Environmental Quality from 1993-1998. Her husband is Karl Hausker, the Vice President of ICF International.
In Dec. 2012, the DOE – like API/ICF - said exporting LNG was economically sound. The DOE’s LNG exports economics study itself was published by another industry-tied firm, NERA (National Economic Research Associates) Economic Consulting.
Given the myriad ties that bind, it’s tough to fathom any other decision being made by the DOE on Freeport or any other LNG export terminal from here on out. And the ecological consequences of that will be disastrous.
“Exporting LNG will lead to more drilling — and more drilling means more fracking, more air and water pollution, and more climate fueled weather disasters like last year’s record fires, droughts, and superstorms,” Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign said in a press release in response to the DOE announcement.
“Once environmental impacts are evaluated, it becomes clear that the additional fracking and gas production exports would induce is unacceptable.”
|By: dakine01 Thursday May 5, 2011 10:30 am|