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A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World: 20 Nov 2014

By: KateCA Thursday November 20, 2014 3:28 pm

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World:

*USA.  “A two-year Senate investigation of the financial sector has found that banks can meddle with the economy in new and frightening ways”.  Deregulation resulted in banks buying commodities, owning mines, a “fleet of 100 oil tankers”, “31 power plants” and more.

*USA.  The Alberta Clipper pipeline, larger than Keystone XL, is also supposed to cross US-Canadian borders, filled with Alberta tar-sands oil.  The US State Department’s intention to issue Enbridge a permit for the Alberta Clipper “prior to completion of an Environmental Impact Statement” has resulted in a lawsuit by Honor the Earth, the White Earth Nation, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and Indigenous Environmental Network.

*USA. More Americans now oppose fracking (47%) than support it (41%), according to Pew Research Center’s Nov 2014 survey.  Americans’ support for the Keystone XL pipelne has slipped, too, from 66% in 2013 to 59% now.

*USA.  What a deal! Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline might create 50 or so US jobs (post-construction), the Canadian tarsands oil (owned in part by China) will be refined mainly at a TX facility “half-owned by the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia” and shipped from there to other countries.  Part of the pipeline is planned to run atop the Ogallala Aquifer, which is located at relatively shallow depths under the Great Plains (map).

*US.  FWIW, Halliburton, “the world’s second-biggest oilfield services company” is buying Baker Hughes, the world’s third-biggest oilfield services company.”  $34.6 billion involved.

*CA.  Almost 3 billion gallons of fracking wastewater was pumped into aquifiers that were “supposed to be off-limits to that kind of activity”.

*CA.  Whistleblower at work:  BP had a $250-million annual contract with CA for natural gas, though BP may have overcharged CA “as much as $300 million over eight years” by billing the state 10 times what others were billed.  CA’s Attorney General has joined Los Angeles County, University of California and California State University in a suit over this.

*CA.  In February, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draft rules banning fracking.  City planners raised questions about the ban, citing legal and other uncertainties.  Two City Councilmen responded by urging the planners to draft regulations as soon as possible.

*CA.  About 5 million people “who live within a mile of an oil or gas well have a poverty rate 32.5 percent higher than that of the general population” and 69% are “people of color.” There are also health and other issues.

*CO.  Animated maps from the Center for Western Priorities lets you see the proliferation of oil and gas wells in the state from 1990 to 2013.

*Gulf of Mexico.  New documentary of the Deepwater Horizon oil explosion, how it happened and the longer-term aftermath:  “The Great Invisible” or what happened after the cameras went away.

*IA.  Energy Transfer Partners wants to build a pipeline through IA, from northwest to southeast (map).  Energy Transfer Partners funded a study to assess the impact of the pipeline, with positive results.  However, an Iowa State University economist is “‘very skeptical’”, saying, “these types of estimates are typically much higher than careful analysis or reality can confirm”. He then offers his analysis.

 

Albert Woodfox’s Overturned Conviction Upheld in Unanimous Fifth Circuit Decision

By: Angola 3 News Thursday November 20, 2014 1:07 pm

We are thrilled and honored to announce that just hours ago, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Brady’s 2013 ruling overturning Albert’s conviction for a third time in a 3-0, unanimous decision (view a PDF of the official court ruling here).

Though the courts have finally ruled in the interest of justice, it may still be months or years before this innocent man is released from his solitary cell.

This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity, and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.

Even with a unanimous decision in Albert’s favor, firmly planted in a mountain of innocence evidence, the State can still tie up his release in a number of appeals and even choose to re-indict and attempt to retry him.

Lest we lose Albert to delayed justice, as we did Herman, we must all come together to demand that this nightmare finally come to an end.

Today the legal team is visiting with Albert to celebrate and strategize next steps, and all of us who are personally and professionally tied up with the Angola 3′s story must take a moment to rejoice in this glorious hard won victory.

But tomorrow…well…

Tomorrow we must all do whatever we can to make the final, critical push necessary to finally free Albert Woodfox–and with him the whole of the Angola 3–from prison and from solitary once and for all.

We owe it to Herman, Robert, Albert, and the scores of others who sit wrongfully convicted behind bars, or languish in long term solitary without meaningful review. Justice will not be realized, here or ever, without our most determined and resourceful selves pushing it forward.

We will update you in coming days as things develop. Stand today with Albert, for freedom, and justice will surely follow.

Ferguson: Tearing the Band-Aid Off Racism and the Police State; GJ Announcement to Come Soon?

By: wendydavis Thursday November 20, 2014 12:32 pm

How many in this nation are courageous enough even to face the truth, much less protest it, or join in solidarity with all the oppressed who are denied justice in Ferguson, and all the other Fergusons across the land?  Are you and they…willing to imagine being in the black underclass, living in a place where dissent has been deemed ‘terrorism’, or that municipal courts use trumped up charges and fines as a way to fill their coffers (think: Negro- and Pauper-farming)?  Where one might be stopped and searched a hundred times in a year, as still happens in NYC?  Or dispatched like rabid dogs as in ABQ, NYC, or anywhere else in this ‘exceptional land.  Can we be in solidarity with them is any material way?  Often that’s all that’s left to us so far away.  More on those ways at the bottom…

To dispense with the reported timing of the Darren Wilson Grand Jury’s coming announcement, according to CNN’s ‘sources’…  the Grand Jury will meet Friday for what might be its final session, and a decision on whether or not to indict Wilson could come that day, LEOs briefed on the plans said.

St. Louis County prosecutors are preparing to present more evidence to the grand jury before starting deliberations, and a decision on an indictment is expected soon after, the law enforcement officials said.

If a decision comes Friday, prosecutors are expected to provide law enforcement with 48 hours notice before making a public announcement, possibly on Sunday. announcement, possibly on Sunday.’

…putting aid to the notion that the grand jurors will decide when they’ve seen or heard enough evidence.  The current plans could still change and prosecutors could shift the planned grand jury session, the officials said.  More disinformation?  Who knows?  He and the PTB can keep ‘providing evidence’ until Jan.1.

Increase in Spending on Corrections Comes with Enormous Opportunity Costs for Wisconsin

By: WI Budget Project Thursday November 20, 2014 12:15 pm

Spending on corrections has increased dramatically in Wisconsin in recent decades, reducing the resources available for quality schools, safe communities, and health care.

Wisconsin state spending on corrections rose by 308% between 1986 and 2013, when dollar amounts are adjusted for inflation. Only eight states had larger increases in prison costs, measured as a percentage increase. Nationally, state corrections spending averaged an increase of 141% over this period, less than half of Wisconsin’s increase. Figures are from a new report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Wisconsin’s increase in spending on corrections has outpaced the increase in all our neighboring states. Corrections spending in Wisconsin increased twice as fast as spending in Minnesota since the mid-1980s, and nearly five times as fast as in Illinois.

This significant increase in corrections spending comes with very large opportunity costs. As corrections spending has increased, it takes up an increasingly large share of the state’s public resources. The share of general fund spending devoted to corrections has tripled in Wisconsin, to 8.1% in 2013 from 2.7% in 1986. If spending on prison costs had remained constant over that period, Wisconsin would have an additional $859 million this year to make investments in strong schools, safe communities, and a solid transportation network.

State policymakers need to take a hard look at Wisconsin’s corrections spending and ask why we are so far out of line with neighboring states and the national average. By bringing soaring prison spending under control, Wisconsin has an opportunity to free up resources to make investments in children and communities that will pay off in the years and decades to come.

From www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org.

The Anti-Empire Report #134 – Russia invades Ukraine. Again. And again. And yet again … using Saddam’s WMD

By: GREYDOG Thursday November 20, 2014 8:00 am

By William Blum99GetSmart

“Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday [August 27], sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory. The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week.”

None of the photos accompanying this New York Times story online showed any of these Russian troops or armored vehicles.

“The Obama administration,” the story continued, “has asserted over the past week that the Russians had moved artillery, air-defense systems and armor to help the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway’, Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said. At the department’s daily briefing in Washington, Ms. Psaki also criticized what she called the Russian government’s ‘unwillingness to tell the truth’ that its military had sent soldiers as deep as 30 miles inside Ukraine territory.”

Thirty miles inside Ukraine territory and not a single satellite photo, not a camera anywhere around, not even a one-minute video to show for it. “Ms. Psaki apparently [sic] was referring to videos of captured Russian soldiers, distributed by the Ukrainian government.” The Timesapparently forgot to inform its readers where they could see these videos.

“The Russian aim, one Western official said, may possibly be to seize an outlet to the sea in the event that Russia tries to establish a separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine.”

This of course hasn’t taken place. So what happened to all these Russian soldiers 30 miles inside Ukraine? What happened to all the armored vehicles, weapons, and equipment?

“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.”

Where are these photographs? And how will we know that these are Russian soldiers? And how will we know that the photos were taken in Ukraine? But most importantly, where are the fucking photographs?

Why am I so cynical? Because the Ukrainian and US governments have been feeding us these scare stories for eight months now, without clear visual or other evidence, often without even common sense. Here are a few of the many other examples, before and after the one above:

  • The Wall Street Journal (March 28) reported: “Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another [sic] major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims, US officials said.”
  • “The Ukrainian government charged that the Russian military was not only approaching but had actually crossed the border into rebel-held regions.” (Washington Post, November 7)
  • “U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove told reporters in Bulgaria that NATO had observed Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops enter Ukraine across a completely wide-open border with Russia in the previous two days.” (Washington Post, November 13)
  • “Ukraine accuses Russia of sending more soldiers and weapons to help rebels prepare for a new offensive. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied aiding the separatists.” (Reuters, November 16)

Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. The Ukrainian government has matched them.

On top of all this we should keep in mind that if Moscow decided to invade Ukraine they’d certainly provide air cover for their ground forces. There has been no mention of air cover.

This is all reminiscent of the numerous stories in the past three years of “Syrian planes bombing defenseless citizens.”

Nick Turse: When Is a “Base Camp” Neither a Base Nor a Camp?

By: Tom Engelhardt Thursday November 20, 2014 7:33 am

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

 

Sometimes, to see the big picture you need to focus on the smallest part of it, as Nick Turse does in the latest of his dispatches on the U.S. military in Africa.  He takes a look at that military in Chad.  Yep, I said “in Chad.” At least 99% of Americans are undoubtedly unfamiliar with that landlocked African country and most of the remaining 1% have no idea that the U.S. military is already deeply involved in that (if you don’t happen to be Chadian) obscure land.

It’s easy enough to link the word “imperial” to the United States in a lazy fashion.  But if imperial has any meaning in the post-colonial twenty-first century, it certainly means that the (super)power in question has an active interest in attempting to control significant swathes of the planet.  In fact, there has never been a power, no matter how “great,” which has, in such a militarized way, tried to put its stamp of control on so much of Planet Earth.

It has, for instance, garrisoned the Greater Middle East from the Chinese border in Central Asia to the Balkans in an unprecedented fashion.  For decades, it considered the Pacific Ocean an “American lake” and garrisoned islands across it in a similarly unprecedented fashion.  Between 1945 and 1973, it fought two wars in Asia, at the cost of millions of lives, leading to a still-unresolved stalemate in Korea and a defeat in Vietnam; from 1980 to the present, it has fought a barely interrupted war in Afghanistan and since 1990, three wars in Iraq.  It has also conducted air strikes in countries ranging from Pakistan and Yemen to Syria and Somalia, intervened disastrously in Lebanon and Libya, among other places, and come to the edge of war (while launching a “cyberwar”) in Iran.  And that doesn’t even exhaust the list of conflicts.

In recent months, the U.S. has “pivoted” (the term of the moment) back to Iraq even as it has been quietly bolstering its already impressive military strength in a “pivot” to Asia.  At the same time, with a remarkable lack of publicity or media attention, it has begun pivoting into Africa.  Americans know next to nothing about this (unless they’ve been reading the last two years of reporting on the subject by Nick Turse at this site) and yet the U.S. military is now in one fashion or another involved with 49 of the 54 countries on that continent.

If you need evidence that Washington’s intentions are indeed imperial and that the White House and the Pentagon consider just about every patch of land on the planet to be the business of this country, and fertile soil for that military, then spend a little time “in” Chad today.  Once you’ve absorbed just how involved our military already is there, you can multiply those efforts across Africa, across the Middle East where they only intensify, and across Asia where they are also ramping up, and you’ll begin to take in a heavily garrisoned planet of war on which the U.S. remains (however haplessly) the unipolar power.  And tell me that, when you’ve considered the small picture and the big one, we’re not talking about imperial Washington. Tom 

The Outpost That Doesn’t Exist in the Country You Can’t Locate
A Base Camp, an Authoritarian Regime, and the Future of U.S. Blowback in Africa
By Nick Turse

Admit it. You don’t know where Chad is. You know it’s in Africa, of course. But beyond that? Maybe with a map of the continent and by some process of elimination you could come close. But you’d probably pick Sudan or maybe the Central African Republic. Here’s a tip. In the future, choose that vast, arid swath of land just below Libya.

Who does know where Chad is?  That answer is simpler: the U.S. military.  Recent contracting documents indicate that it’s building something there.  Not a huge facility, not a mini-American town, but a small camp.

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday November 20, 2014 4:46 am

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

Iraqi forces have forged increasing success in the battle against the ISIS forces, with a remarkable victory in retaking the oil refining center at Beiji.   U.S. strikes are ongoing, but advances by forces on the ground have provided the fronts enjoying present gains.  Kurdistan President Barzani asks the west for increased supplies of large weaponry.   U.N. envoy Mladenov credited local action for successes, with a strategy of enlisting Kurds and local tribes in the fight against Islamists .

The massacre by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group of 322 members of the Albu Nimr tribe spurred cooperation with the government in its campaign to defeat the militants, he said.

Mladenov called on all militia groups who are not aligned with the Islamist militants to enter talks with Baghdad on resolving differences and joining the government’s anti-Islamist campaign.

Also Tuesday, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for a campaign led by Muslims to undermine the ideology of ISIS, saying this may ultimately be more effective than air strikes.

World attention is being requested by wildlife conservationists in order to end trafficking in, and destruction of, diminishing wildlife throughout the world.   Ten leaders of activities that profit from removing and killing forms of life throughout the world have been specifically targeted, and their pictures circulated, in hopes that those who’ve been affected will recognize perpetrators of the massive depredations.

The move has been welcomed by Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). They are concerned not just with the impact of environmental crime on species but also with the effect on political stability.

“Countries are increasingly treating wildlife crime as a serious offence, and we will leave no stone unturned to locate and arrest these criminals to ensure that they are brought to justice,” said Ben Janse van Rensburg from Cites.

“The public can play a crucial role in this collective effort, they our eyes and ears on the ground. Their support can help ensure that the offenders face the full might of the law and are punished appropriately.”

Chile’s Supreme Court has halted gold and copper mining that uses natural resources needed by indigenous peoples, ceasing the operation of Goldcorp mines in the Diaguita lands.

The top court ordered the project’s environmental permit be withdrawn until the Diaguita indigenous community is consulted about the US$3.9 billion gold and copper mine. In doing so, it overturned a lower court decision dismissing an appeal the Diaguita filed in April.

“The Diaguita people are happy that justice is on the side of the humble, of those who defend Mother Earth, our water resources and our indigenous land,” Diaguita leader Maglene Campillay said after the ruling.

(snip)

Last year, Chile’s environmental regulator blocked work at Barrick Gold Corp.’s (TSX:ABX) $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama project.

Never.Give.Up.

Introducing “Natural Gas Exports: Washington’s Revolving Door Fuels Climate Threat”

By: Steve Horn Wednesday November 19, 2014 11:45 pm

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog’s Steve Horn and Republic Report’s Lee Fang have co-written an in-depth report on the influence the government-industry revolving door has had on Big Oil’s ability to obtain four liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits since 2012 from the Obama Administration.

Titled “Natural Gas Exports: Washington’s Revolving Door Fuels Climate Threat,” the report published here on DeSmogBlog and on Republic Report serves as the launching pad of an ongoing investigation. It will act as the prelude of an extensive series of articles by both websites uncovering the LNG exports influence peddling machine.

The report not only exposes the lobbying apparatus that has successfully opened the door for LNG exports, but also the PR professionals paid to sell them to the U.S. public. It also exposes those who have gone through the “reverse revolving door,” moving from industry back to government and sometimes back again.

It reveals that many former Obama Administration officials now work as lobbyists or PR professionals on behalf of the LNG exports industry, as do many former Bush Administration officials. So too do those with ties to potential 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

They include:

-David L. Goldwyn - Goldwyn is an industry consultant who also works as an attorney at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, a go-to law firm for the oil and gas industry.

Sutherland represented Enterprise Product Partners in its successful quest to obtain the first permit in four decades to export crude oil from the Obama Administration back in June and has also represented numerous firms seekingLNG export permits from the Obama Administration.

In addition to his consulting firm Goldwyn Global Strategies, David Goldwyn is a fellow at industry-funded think-tanks Brookings Institution and Atlantic Council and an outspoken advocate for both LNG exports and oil exports, though his industry ties often go undisclosed when he speaks in public or appears in the media.

While not working for industry, Goldwyn worked in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations.

He headed up the Obama State Department’s influential Bureau of Energy Resources and helped found its Global Shale Gas Initiative, a global fracking missionary force of sorts. For Clinton, Goldwyn worked as an assistant secretary of energy for international affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy and in other high-level roles.

-Heather Zichal - Zichal formerly served as deputy assistant to President Obama for energy and climate change, leaving the White House in October 2013.

Not long after leaving, Zichal accepted a spot on the board of directors for Cheniere Energy, the first company to receive an LNG export permit from President Obama in April 2012 for its Louisiana-based Sabine Pass LNG facility.

While working for the Obama White House, Zichal had many private meetings with Cheniere officials, including with Cheniere CEO Charif Souki, DeSmogBlog revealed.

Prior to working for Obama, Zichal worked for then-Senator John Kerry.

-David Leiter - Leiter is the president and founder of the lobbying firm MLStrategies, LLC. Leiter previously served as chief of staff for then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Ma.) and as deputy assistant secretary of energy under President Bill Clinton.

Leiter now lobbies on behalf of Sempra Energy, owner of the Cameron LNG export facility in Louisiana, which received final approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) earlier this year. His wife Tammy Luzzatto formerly served as chief of staff to then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

-Blue State Digital and Blue Engine Media - A key email list-keeping platform and public relations firm for the Democratic Party, respectively, both firms have done the bidding of the LNG exports industry.

Blue State maintains the email list for America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), while Blue Engine until recently did PR work for LNG industry front group, “Our Energy Moment.”

-David A. Merkel - Merkel formerly worked for the Bush Administration State Department, in which he served as deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs. He formerly worked for the International Republican Institute, an offshoot of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

After leaving the Bush Administration, Merkel and many other former Bush Administration officials founded the Texas-based LNG export company United LNG, which co-owned the Main Pass Energy Hub with Freeport McMoran.

United LNG has since disbanded and taken down its website.

But while it still existed, Joe Davis — former principal deputy director of public affairs and spokesman for former Bush Administration Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and communications director and policy advisor for Abraham when he was a U.S. Senator — lobbied on behalf of the firm.

-Spencer Abraham - Chairman and CEO of The Abraham Group, he formerly served as U.S. Secretary of Energy for the Bush Administration and is a former Republican Senator from Michigan.

The Abraham Group has provided crucial support for Cheniere’s lobbying efforts. Many top Abraham aides now work directly in-house lobbying for Cheniere.

This is just a tiny taste of what is in the 16-page, 5,000+ word report.

At its core, ”Natural Gas Exports: Washington’s Revolving Door Fuels Climate Threat“ is a sequel to DeSmogBlog’s 2011 report titled, “Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens our Water, Health, and Climate.”

Please stay tuned for much more to come on the topic soon.