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Hidden History: What Nazi-Tied Roots to U.S. International Media Reveals About Ukraine Crisis

12:57 pm in Uncategorized by Steve Horn

Cross-Posted from Occupy.com

Bonfire in Euromaidan, a figure stands nearby in gas mask

Steve Horn traces the media roots of far-right power in Ukraine.

new Cold War has arisen between Russia and the U.S. over the future of Ukraine. With that has come accompanying discussions about the nature of portions of the U.S.-backed Neo-Nazi and anti-semitic opposition in the embattled former Soviet Republic.

Lost in the discussion so far — even as a “media war” burgeons between the superpower states — is a crucial piece of history lending context to the ongoing geopolitical stand-off that centers around anti-Semitism and the original Nazis themselves. Enter the U.S.-funded state-run international media outlets Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

While Russia Today (better known to many as “RT”) has found itself at the center of a firestorm of U.S. media coverage and scrutiny, VOA and RFE/RL have gotten off essentially scot-free so far – even though they received over $206 million and $93 million in taxpayer money, respectively, from the U.S. government in 2012.

Case in point: on April 3, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on “United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions” after it passed quickly and with little debate in both chambers of Congress. The bill mandates an injection of $10 million total in taxpayer-funded cash into the coffers of both VOA and RFE/RL to air their news coverage in the Tatar, Ukrainian and Russian languages 24/7.

Not a single media outlet covered the legislation’s passage. That, even though the bill was passed explicitly to fend off RT’s hegemony in the region and is stated so within the legislation.

“The Russian Government has deliberately blocked the Ukrainian people’s access to uncensored sources of information and has provided alternative news and information that is both inaccurate and inflammatory,” reads the bill. “The opinions and views of the Ukrainian people…are not being accurately represented in Russian dominated mass media…United States international programming has the potential to combat this anti-democratic propaganda.”

Because the U.S. media was silent on the bill becoming law to begin with, it’s only logical that the history and agendas of VOA and RFE/RLweren’t investigated with the same rigor as RT either.

But as novelist Alice Hoffman has stated, “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.”

Bloodstone: Cold War, Cold Truth

The truth is simple, though likely hard — nay, nearly impossible — for most U.S. citizens to fathom living in the self-proclaimed “city upon a Hill.” Birthed during World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War, respectively, VOA and RFE/RL have Nazi-tied historical roots. More specifically, rewind to the State Department’s then-covert Operation Bloodstone, which began in 1948.

“Bloodstone proved to be an open door through which scores of leaders of Nazi collaborators who were now being brought to the United States for use as intelligence and covert operations experts,” explained American University Professor Christopher Simpson in his book Blowback: The First Full Account of America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Disastrous Effect on The Cold War, Our Domestic and Foreign Policy.

Simpson also explains in his book that Frank Wisner — former head of Office of Strategic Services (which became the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA), then head of the Directorate of Plans for the CIA — initially proposed that 250 Nazi collaborators be brought into the U.S. under Bloodstone’s auspices. Wisner’s vision: 100 of them would work for VOA, all of which Simpson discovered via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The CIA created a special sub-unit to oversee the recruitment of ex-Nazi collaborators called the Office of Special Projects, which later changed names and became the Office for Policy Coordination. Legally, the National Security Council authorized the activity through directive NSC 10/2, at the time a covert program (now publicly disclosed) that was known about only by what Simpson described as “a tiny group of men and women at the most senior levels” of the national security establishment.

NSC 10/2 and Bloodstone are also chiefly responsible for the creation and bolstering of what at the time were two separate seemingly independent media outlets: Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation from Bolshevism.

“RFE/RL began in 1948 as a corporation named the National Committee for a Free Europe, a supposedly private charitable organization dedicated to aiding exiles from the Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe,” Simpson explains in his book. “[But] the roots of RFE/RL, in an administrative sense, are the same political warfare programs that gave birth to Bloodstone and NSC 10/2.”

National Committee for a Free Europe’s initial Board of Directors was a “Who’s Who” of US political elites, with Henry Ford IIHenry J. HeinzGeorge C. McGhee and other influentials all in on the game.

U.S. labor’s “New Men of Power” also got involved. James Carey — former secretary-treasurer of the CIO and vice-president of the AFL–CIO — was also on National Committee for a Free Europe’s Board.

Simpson says this “all-star board of directors…served as a cover, in effect, to explain where all the money was coming from.” That is, from the CIA.

What’s In a Name?

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“Gasland 2″ Grassroots Premiere in Illinois Highlights Industry PSYOPS and Ongoing Fracking Fights

11:10 am in Uncategorized by Steve Horn

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

 

Gasland Promo image

Gasland Part 2 continues documenting energy industry spin and climate change.

Gasland 2 screened yesterday in Normal, IL and DeSmogBlog was there to gain a sneak peak of the documentary set for a July 8 HBO national premiere.

Josh Fox’s documentary played at the Normal Theater, the second-ever screening since the film officially premiered on April 21 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City

The movie builds on Fox’s Academy Award-nominated Gasland, further making the case of how the shale industry’s hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom is busting up peoples’ livelihoods, contaminating air and water, polluting democracy and serving as a “bridge fuel” only to propel us off the climate disruption cliff. 

A central theme and question of the film is, “Who gets to tell the story?” That is, industry PR pros and bought-off politicians utilizing the “tobacco playbook” and saying “the sky is pink,” or families directly injured by the industry? Fox explains how the industry has gamed the system, ensuring the communities have their voices drowned out. The Gasland films seek to tell some of the victims’ stories. 

Another theme is the bread and butter of following any big industry’s influence: following the money. In depicting the financial clout of Big Oil, Gasland 2 shows that the oil and gas industry has gone to the lengths of deploying warfare tactics – literally – on U.S. citizens to ram through its agenda. 

PSYOPs Use by Gas Industry PR Flacks Featured

Much of the content in Gasland 2 has also been covered on DeSmogBlog over the past few years.

Robert Howarth’s and Anthony Ingraffea’s prominent “Cornell Study” receives some good play in the film. Howarth and Ingraffea demonstrated that from cradle to grave, fracked gas has a more dangerous global warming effect than coal, a death knell to the “natural gas as a bridge fuel” meme. President Obama’s deployment of American Petroleum Institute “jobs” talking points for fracking is in there too.

Former head of the Dept. of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush and Republican Gov. of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, also takes a beating in the film. His appearance on “The Colbert Report” is righteously roasted, the same appearance in which he lied to U.S. citizens and declared he was “not a lobbyist” even though he was registered to lobby at that time for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Tailsman Terry the Fracosaurus,” which demonstrates the industy’s willingness to utilize propaganda on young children, receives a similar round of ridicule in Gasland 2. Fox also explains the oil industry’s use of Big Tobacco’s Playbook through interviews with Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt, a major theme of our coverage of both the shale gas industry and the Tea Party

Steve Lipsky, who was left in the dust by Range Resouces and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is one of the central characters of the film. The major villain of that tale is former PA Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who helped derail and censor the EPA’s fracking groundwater contamination study motivated by Lipsky’s water contamination in Weatherford, TX.

While the prospective shale gas export boom is covered in some depth in the film, so too is the concept of the government-industry revolving door, particularly as it pertains to Pennsylvania. The Public Accountability Initiative’s study “Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania” is featured in the film, a study we also covered.

Last but certainly not least, Gasland 2 devotes an entire section to the industry’s admitted use of psychological warfare tactics (PSYOPs) on U.S. citizens, as we first revealed in Nov. 2011.

The Houston PR conference referred to in the film is one I attended and covered in some depth. It was a gathering of industry public relations executives talking among friends about how to best manipulate mainstream media journalists, divide and conquer anti-fracking activists, and intimidate local communities to go along with fracking operations that endanger their health and drinking water.

Gasland 2 presents the audio of Range Resouces Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Matt Pitzarella revealing that Range hires PSYOPs Iraq War veterans to use their skills to pressure local communities. The film also features Anadarko Petroleum External Affairs Manager Matt Carmichael advising gas industry PR pros to read the Army “Counterinsurgency Field Manual” and “Rumsfeld’s Rules,” because “we are dealing with an insurgency.”

Both audio clips were obtained by Earthworks’ Sharon Wilson at the conference and provided to media by Earthworks and DeSmogBlog. CNBC first broke the story on Nov. 8, 2011.

Illinois Fracking Fight Wages On

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Ed Rendell Intervened For Fracking Giant Range Resources to Stop Texas EPA Water Contamination Case

7:06 am in Uncategorized by Steve Horn

Ed Rendell

Ed Rendell

A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA’s decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.

At the center of the scandal sits former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the National Governors’ Association.

Just weeks ago, the Associated Press (AP) broke news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shut down the high-profile Texas lawsuit and buried an accompanying scientific report obtained during the lawsuit’s discovery phase in March 2012.

That confidential report, contracted out to hydrogeologist Geoffrey Thyne by the Obama EPA, concluded that methane found in the drinking water of a nearby resident could have originated from Range Resources’ nearby shale gas fracking operation.

Range Resources – which admitted at an industry conference that it utilizes psychological warfare (PSYOPs) tacticson U.S. citizens – launched an aggressive defense against the EPA’s allegations that the company might be responsible for contaminating resident Steve Lipsky’s groundwater.

AP explained in its investigation that resident Steve Lipsky, who has a wife and three young children, had “reported his family’s drinking water had begun ‘bubbling’ like champagne” and that his “well…contains so much methane that the…water [is] pouring out of a garden hose [that] can be ignited.”

In response, the Obama EPA ordered Range to halt fracking. Range was non-cooperative every step of the way, refusing to comply with the legal dictates of the discovery phase and not complying with the censored water sample study implicating the company with groundwater contamination.

The new twist exposed by EnergyWire‘s Mike Soraghan is that Ed Rendell, acting “as a spokesman for Range” Resources, “proposed certain terms” to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Exactly what was said remains unclear, but the EPA ultimately dropped its case against Range.

Over a thousand pages of emails obtained by EnergyWire “offer behind-the-scenes insights in a case that has come to be seen as a major retreat by the agency amid aggressive industry push-back and support for natural gas drilling by President Obama.”

Rendell: Range’s Chosen One or Rogue Lobbyist?

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Obama EPA Shut Down Texas Shale Gas Water Contamination Study

1:54 pm in Uncategorized by Steve Horn

The Associated Press has a breaking investigative story out today revealing that the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) censored a smoking gun scientific report in March 2012 that it had contracted out to a scientist who conducted field data on 32 water samples in Weatherford, TX.

That report, according to the AP, would have explicitly linked methane migration to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in Weatherford, a city with 25,000+ citizens located in the heart of the Barnett Shale geologic formation 30 minutes from Dallas.

It was authored by Geoffrey Thyne, a geologist formerly on the faculty of the Colorado School of Mines and University of Wyoming before departing from the latter for a job in the private sector working for Interralogic Inc. in Ft Collins, CO.

This isn’t the first time Thyne’s scientific research has been shoved aside, either. Thyne wrote two landmark studies on groundwater contamination in Garfield County, CO, the first showing that it existed, the second confirming that the contamination was directly linked to fracking in the area.

It’s the second study that got him in trouble.

“Thyne says he was told to cease his research by higher-ups. He didn’t,” The Checks and Balances Project explained. ”And when it came to renew his contract, Thyne was cut loose.”

From Smoking Gun to Censorship: Range Resources Link

The Obama EPA’s Weatherford, TX study was long-in-the-making, with its orgins actually dating back to a case of water contamination in 2010. The victim: Steve Lipsky.

“At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane,” the AP wrote.

AP proceeded to explain that Lipsky had “reported his family’s drinking water had begun ‘bubbling’ like champagne” and that his “well…contains so much methane that the…water [is] pouring out of a garden hose [that] can be ignited.”

The driller in this case was a corporation notorious for intimidating local communities and governmental officials at all levels of governance: Range Resources. Range, in this case, set up shop for shale gas production in a “wooded area about a mile from Lipsky’s home,” according to the AP.

As DeSmogBlog revealed in November 2011, Range Resources utilizes psychological warfare techniques as part of its overarching public relations strategy.

Due to the grave health concerns associated with the presence of methane and benzene in drinking water, the Obama EPA “ordered Range…to take steps to clean their water wells and provide affected homeowners with safe water,” wrote the AP.

Range’s response? It “threatened not to cooperate” with the Obama EPA’s study on fracking’s link to water contamination. The non-cooperation lead to the Obama EPA suing Range Resources.

It was during this phase of the struggle where things got interesting. As the AP explained,

Believing the case was headed for a lengthy legal battle, the Obama EPA asked an independent scientist named Geoffrey Thyne to analyze water samples taken from 32 water wells. In the report obtained by the AP, Thyne concluded from chemical testing that the gas in the drinking water could have originated from Range Resources’ nearby drilling operation.

Despite this smoking gun, everything was soon shut down, with the Obama EPA reversing its emergency order, terminating the court battle and censoring Thyne’s report. The AP explained that the Obama EPA has “refused to answer questions about the decision.”

“I just can’t believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn’t use it,” Lipsky, who now pays $1,000 a month to have water hauled to his family’s house, told the AP.

“Duke Study” Co-Author Confirms Veracity of Thyne’s Study 

Robert Jackson, a Professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke University and co-author of the “Duke Study” linking fracking to groundwater contamination did an independent peer review of Thyne’s censored findings. He found that it is probable that the methane in Lipsky’s well water likely ended up there thanks to the fracking process.

Range predictably dismissed Thyne and Jackson as “anti-industry.”

Americans Against Fracking: An “Unconscionable” Decision

Americans Against Fracking summed up the situation best in a scathing press release:

It is unconscionable that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is tasked with safeguarding our nation’s vital natural resources, would fold under pressure to the oil and gas industry…It is again abundantly clear that the deep pocketed oil and gas industry will stop at nothing to protect its own interests, even when mounting scientific evidence shows that drilling and fracking pose a direct threat to vital drinking water supplies.

There’s also a tragic human side to this tale.

“This has been total hell,” Lipsky told the AP. “It’s been taking a huge toll on my family and on our life.”

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