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- Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 31 by TheMomCat
This is an Open Thread.
Oct 17 2011
Our regular featured content-
These featured articles-
And these special features-
This is an Open Thread.
Oct 17 2011
The big lie about the Keystone XL pipeline (outside of the corruption and devastating impact on the environment) is that it will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign (read angry middle eastern brown people) oil.
The facts are that far from the pitiful 20,000 jobs promised independent economists estimate a mere 6,000 and that instead of lowering energy prices in the U.S., most of the Tar Sand output is destined for shipment to China and other developing countries.
Of the 6 oil giants involved in the project, 5 are not based in the U.S. and the 6th, Valero, is primarily an exporting firm.
Say No to the Keystone XL
The Editors of The New York Times
Published: October 2, 2011
(T)he State Department appears to be more persuaded by proponents who claim that the pipeline will help reduce America’s dependence on oil from politically troubled sources in the Middle East. We are skeptical about that, too.
What pipeline advocates – including big-oil lobbyists and House Republicans who have tried to force an early, favorable decision – fail to mention is that much of the tar sands oil that would be refined on the Gulf Coast is destined for export. Six companies have already contracted for three-quarters of the oil. Five are foreign, and the business model of the one American company – Valero – is geared toward export.
We have considerable sympathy for one argument: that construction of the pipeline would bring jobs at a time of great economic uncertainty. TransCanada has said the 2,000-mile line would create 20,000 jobs in the United States. The State Department concludes that the real number may be closer to 6,000 jobs.
Environment, Size of U.S. Oil Exports Part of Keystone XL Pipeline Debate
By Lyudmila Tsubiks, infoZine
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Much of the fuel refined from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks, a new report says.
The oil will be refined into diesel and exported, Lorne Stockman, research director of Oil Change International, said. His group opposes the pipeline.
According to the report, the crude will be delivered from Hardisty, Alberta, by the 1,980-mile, 36-inch diameter Keystone XL pipeline to refiners in Texas that are focused on exports.
“Europe has a diesel deficit, Latin America has a petroleum product deficit generally and we are increasing exporting our surplus to these countries,” Stockman said.
The key quality here is Fungibility–
Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution, such as crude oil, wheat, precious metals or currencies. For example, if someone lends another person a $10 bill, it does not matter if they are given back the same $10 bill or a different one, since currency is fungible; if someone lends another person their car, however, they would not expect to be given back a different car, even of the same make and model, as cars are not fungible.
And this applies to all the ‘Drill baby, drill’ arguments. U.S. demand for energy has plummeted because our economy sucks and so much of our production is being sold offshore.
Dominion seeks exports of Marcellus Shale gas
OCTOBER 9, 2011, 5:27 P.M. ET
HARRISBURG, Pa. – An energy company is seeking federal approval to allow exports of liquefied natural gas from the booming Appalachian drilling industry, saying that the nation’s natural gas supply is outpacing demand.
Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources Inc. announced last week that it has applied to the Department of Energy to allow 1 billion cubic feet per day to be exported through a terminal it owns in Maryland. The application, filed Sept. 1, seeks permission for the exports of liquefied natural gas to any country with which the United States does not prohibit trade, the company said.
“It is in our nation’s best interests to develop our natural resources responsibly and reliably,” Farrell said. “In the process, we will be able to improve the nation’s balance of trade.”
So basically we’re being asked to ruin our environment, kill ourselves with pollution, and give away our natural resources so that greedy energy companies can steal more of our money.
Oct 17 2011
So, have you heard the one about how TransCanada (the Keystone XL people) recommended and paid for their own consultants to do the environmental impact report for Hillary Clinton’s State Department?
Pipeline Review Is Faced With Question of Conflict
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL and DAN FROSCH, The New York Times
Published: October 7, 2011
The State Department assigned an important environmental impact study of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to a company with financial ties to the pipeline operator, flouting the intent of a federal law meant to ensure an impartial environmental analysis of major projects.
The department allowed TransCanada, the company seeking permission to build the 1,700-mile pipeline from the oil sands of northern Alberta to the Gulf Coast in Texas, to solicit and screen bids for the environmental study. At TransCanada’s recommendation, the department hired Cardno Entrix, an environmental contractor based in Houston, even though it had previously worked on projects with TransCanada and describes the pipeline company as a “major client” in its marketing materials.
Environmental groups say the study underplays both the emissions impact of the new pipeline and the danger posed by a spill of crude from oil sands, called diluted bitumen, a hard-to-remediate mixture. An accident at a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy in July 2010 dumped 843,000 gallons of such oil near Marshall, Mich.
A 35-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River remains closed and cleanup has proved extremely difficult, running over budget and past deadlines set by the E.P.A. Estimates of cleanup costs have run well over $500 million. The E.P.A.’s regional administrator said her office had never seen a river system affected by so much submerged oil.
But the impact report for the Keystone XL project says that “response to a spill from the proposed pipeline would not require unique clean up procedures.”
The Enbridge spill is only mentioned briefly in addendums. And Cardno Entrix would have been aware of the challenges in Michigan: it was hired by Enbridge to assess the damage to natural resources caused by the spill.
State Department Admits Its ‘Independent’ Tar Sands Pipeline Review Was Paid For By TransCanada
By Brad Johnson, Think Progress
Oct 8, 2011 at 3:13 pm
The State Department has admitted their environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was conducted by a contractor paid for by the pipeline company itself, a potentially illegal conflict of interest first reported by ThinkProgress Green. The Canadian tar sands company TransCanada has applied to construct a major pipeline through the United States to pump tar sands crude to Texas refineries for the international oil market, and is awaiting approval by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. The State Department’s approval hinges upon a positive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), required by the National Environmental Policy Act to assess whether the pipeline is in the national interest.
A State Department official has admitted to the New York Times that the EIS was conducted by a company chosen and paid by TransCanada itself, flouting NEPA’s conflict-of-interest rules.
A spokesman for TransCanada, Terry Cunha, told the New York Times that his company had recommended contractors to the State Department based on “technical ability, experience, and appropriate personnel.” But he said the final contract for the environmental assessment “provides that Department of State directs Entrix. As a result, we don’t have a direct relationship with Entrix.”
Where Did the President’s Mojo Go?
By Bill McKibben, Tom Dispatch
9:31am, October 11, 2011
Four years ago at this time, the early adopters among us were just starting to get used to the regular flow of email from the Obama campaign. The missives were actually exciting to get, because they seemed less like appeals for money than a chance to join a movement.
What we completely missed was that Obama didn’t want us at his back — that the minute the campaign was over he would cut us adrift, jettison the movement that had brought him to power. Instead of using all those millions of people to force through ambitious health-care proposals or serious climate legislation or [fill in the blank yourself here], he governed as the opposite of a movement candidate.
As the months of his administration rolled into years, he only seemed to grow less interested in movements of any sort. Before long, people like Tom Donahue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were topping the list of the most frequent visitors to the White House. And that was before this winter when — after they’d been the biggest contributors to GOP congressional candidates — Obama went on bended knee to Chamber headquarters, apologizing that he hadn’t brought a fruitcake along as a gift. (What is it with this guy and food? At any rate, he soon gave them a far better present, hiring former Chamber insider Bill Daley as his chief of staff.)
Now, his popularity tanking, Obama and his advisors talk about “tacking left” for the election. A nice thought, but maybe just a little late.
Increasingly, it seems to me, those of us who were ready to move with him four years ago are deciding to leave normal channels and find new forms of action. Here’s an example: by year’s end the president has said he will make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. The nation’s top climate scientists sent the administration a letter indicating that such a development would be disastrous for the climate. NASA’s James Hansen, the government’s top climate researcher, said heavily tapping tar-sands oil, a particularly “dirty” form of fossil fuel, would mean “game over for the climate.” Ten of the president’s fellow recent Nobel Peace Prize laureates pointed out in a letter that blocking the prospective pipeline would offer him a real leadership moment, a “tremendous opportunity to begin transition away from our dependence on oil, coal, and gas.”
But every indication from this administration suggests that it is prepared to grant the necessary permission for a project that has the enthusiastic backing of the Chamber of Commerce, and in which the Koch Brothers have a “direct and substantial interest.” And not just backing. To use the words of a recent New York Times story, they are willing to “flout the intent of federal law” to get it done. Check this out as well: the State Department, at the recommendation of Keystone XL pipeline builder TransCanada, hired a second company to carry out the environmental review. That company already considered itself a “major client” of TransCanada. This is simply corrupt, potentially the biggest scandal of the Obama years. And here’s the thing: it’s a crime still in progress. Watching the president do nothing to stop it is endlessly depressing.
Oct 17 2011
“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author
Tens of Thousands Flood the Streets of Global Financial Centers, Capitol Cities and Small Towns to “Occupy Together” Against Wall Street Mid-Town Manhattan Jammed as Marches Converge in Times Square
New York, NY — After triumphing in a standoff with the city over the continued protest of Wall Street at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread world wide today with demonstrations in over 1,500 cities globally and over 100 US cities from coast to coast. In New York, thousands marched in various protests by trade unions, students, environmentalists, and community groups. As occupiers flocked to Washington Square Park, two dozen participants were arrested at a nearby Citibank while attempting to withdraw their accounts from the global banking giant.
“I am occupying Wall Street because it is my future, my generations’ future, that is at stake,” said Linnea Palmer Paton, 23, a student at New York University. “Inspired by the peaceful occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo, tonight we are are coming together in Times Square to show the world that the power of the people is an unstoppable force of global change. Today, we are fighting back against the dictators of our country – the Wall Street banks – and we are winning.”
The Occupy London and Wall Street protests reflect deep anger that no one has been called to account for the financial crisis
The only surprise about Saturday’s occupation of the London Stock Exchange is that it took so long to happen. No doubt the government and banking lobby was hoping that the final report of the Vickers commission last month would draw a line under so-called banker bashing in the UK. As Basil Fawlty might have put it: “I crashed the global economy once, but I think I got away with it.”
So why won’t popular protests go away? Here’s why: there has been no public inquiry into the causes of the crash. No calling to account of those who drove the ship on to the rocks. No assertion of the public interest over financial markets. No subordination of banks to the needs of the real economy. No politician who dares face down global finance. No challenging of the defunct dogmas of neoliberal economics. No attempt to reverse the breathtaking wealth grab by the 1% at the expense of the rest.
Why should we be surprised that these protests are springing up, and why should we expect them to dissipate until these failures are addressed?
Oct 17 2011
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
October 17 is the 290th day of the year (291st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 75 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1986, President Ronald Reagan signs into law an act of Congress approving $100 million of military and “humanitarian” aid for the Contras. Unfortunately for the President and his advisors, the Iran-Contra scandal is just about to break wide open, seriously compromising their goal of overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Congress, and a majority of the American public, had not been supportive of the Reagan administration’s efforts to topple the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Reagan began a “secret war” to bring down the Nicaraguan government soon after taking office in 1981. Millions of dollars, training, and arms were funneled to the Contras (an armed force of Nicaraguan exiles intent on removing the leftist Nicaraguan regime) through the CIA. American involvement in the Contra movement soon became public, however, as did disturbing reports about the behavior of the Contra force. Charges were leveled in newspapers and in Congress that the Contras were little more than murderers and drug runners; rumors of corruption and payoffs were common. Congress steadily reduced U.S. assistance to the Contras, and in 1984 passed the second Boland Amendment prohibiting U.S. agencies from giving any aid to the group.
The affair was composed of arms sales to Iran in violation of the official US policy of an arms embargo against Iran, and of using funds thus generated to arm and train the Contra militants based in Honduras as they waged a guerilla war to topple the government of Nicaragua. The Contras’ form of warfare was “one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping.” The “Contras systematically engage in violent abuses… so prevalent that these may be said to be their principal means of waging war.” A Human Rights Watch report found that the Contras were guilty of targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination; kidnapping civilians; torturing and executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat; raping women; indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian homes; seizing civilian property; and burning civilian houses in captured towns.
Direct funding of the Contras insurgency had been made illegal through the Boland Amendment the name given to three U.S. legislative amendments between 1982 and 1984, all aimed at limiting US government assistance to the Contras militants. Senior officials of the Reagan administration decided to continue arming and training the Contras secretly and in violation of the law as enacted in the Boland Amendment. Senior Reagan administration officials started what they came to call “the Enterprise,” a project to raise money for their illegal funding of the Contras insurgency.
Oct 17 2011
Well I’m finally back here at work after another recent series of personal adventures; in the middle of all the fun I’ve been finding time to get down to my local “Occupy” event, and for those of you who have not been keeping up I thought we’d take a moment today to compare a bit of Fox-driven perception to the reality I’ve been seeing.
What I’ve been told to expect, at least in certain quarters of the public space, are dirty filthy hippies with no jobs or ambitions hoping to destroy America while having deviant public couplings fueled by the free distribution of dangerous psychotropic drugs.
Sadly, I’ve found that there’s not really much truth in that description, even as tiny bits of it do ring true; but with a manifesto in hand and a few conversations under my belt we’ll see what we can do to create a picture that will surprise a lot of the 99% who already support Occupy Wall Street, even if they don’t know it yet.