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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Cable TV network MSNBC has made headlines in recent days for apparently moving away from its "Lean Foward" progressive brand, catering instead to a more center-to-right-leaning crowd.
"People might start accusing us of leaning too far to the right," the station says in a new advertisement featuring MSNBC's conservative personalities — an array of Republican identities such as Michael Steele, Steve Schmidt and Ben Ginsberg.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
If the recent past serves as prologue, then online leasing of oil and gas on U.S. federal lands may resemble the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, with one eBay-like company in particular standing to profiteer from the industry's proposed e-bidding scheme.
Image Credit: Willis Nowell | Flickr
By Dave Lindorff
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On May 4, several environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for an end to the regulatory exemption it carved out in the late 1980s for the oil and gas industry with regards to how it handles industrial waste.
Photo Credit: United States Geological Survey
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
At the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s 2016 meeting in Denver, Colorado this week, a representative from a prominent oil and gas lobbying group advocated that auctions of federal lands should happen online "eBay"-style — a clear attempt to shut the public out of the bidding process for fossil fuel leases on public lands.
Hysterical Cold-War Style US Reporting as 2 Unarmed Russian Jets Buzz US Destroyer Sailing Near Russian Port
By Dave Lindorff
US news reports on an incident Tuesday in which two Russian jet fighters buzzed very close to a US destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, in the Baltic Sea, make it sound like a serious threat in which the US might have been justified in defending itself against a simulated attack on the high seas.
Nowhere in the reports in the US was it mentioned that the Cook was itself engaging in provocative behavior.
By John Grant
Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places in the world.
By David Swanson, Telesur
Former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg's "The Obama Doctrine" in The Atlantic presents President Barack Obama's view of his own foreign policy (with input from a few of his close subordinates). Obama views himself as a radical leader in military restraint, in brave resistance to war mongers, and in scaling back excessive fear mongering in U.S. culture.
The U.S. President who has overseen the highest Pentagon budget in history, created drone wars, launched wars against the will of Congress, dramatically expanded foreign arms sales and special operations and the arming of proxies, claimed to be "really good at killing people," and openly bragged about having bombed seven nations that are inhabited largely by dark-skinned Muslims, bolsters his "doctrine" by offering accurate antiwar assessments of Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush's wars. (He essentially admits to Reagan's October Surprise negotiations with Iran that sabotaged the 1980 U.S. elections.) Obama's and Goldberg's discussion of Obama's own wars does not display the same accuracy or wisdom.
The Goldberg / Obama portrait is shaped largely by the choice of what to include. The primary focus is on Obama's 2013 reversal of his plan to bomb Syria, with a minor emphasis on his negotiation of the Iran nuclear agreement. Much of his more militaristic behavior is completely ignored or brushed aside in passing reference. And even in those cases that come into focus, myths go unquestioned -- even when they are debunked later in this same book-length article.
Goldberg writes as unquestioned fact that "Assad's army had murdered more than 1,400 civilians with Sarin gas" many paragraphs prior to stating that one of Obama's reasons for reversing course on bombing Syria was the CIA's warning that this claim was "not a slam dunk." Goldberg writes that "the strong sentiment inside the Obama administration was that Assad had earned dire punishment." Thus a proposal to drop 500-pound bombs all over Syria, killing countless people, is made respectable in Washington by depicting it as revenge, and nowhere does Goldberg mention oil pipelines, a Russian rivalry, the overthrow of Assad as a step toward Iranian overthrow, or other factors actually at work for which the dubious chemical weapons claims served as an excuse to bomb.
Of course, not bombing was the right thing to do, and Obama deserves praise for it, while Hillary Clinton's publicly stated belief that this was the wrong decision, and John Kerry's continued private advocacy for bombing, are reprehensible. It's also quite valuable that Obama does something rare in this article when he admits that public and Congressional and British opposition to bombing Syria helped prevent him from committing that crime. This is clearly not a false claim but the admission of what is generally denied by U.S. politicians whom even the public cheers for their usual pretense of ignoring polls and protests.
But the public was even more opposed in polls (if less engaged as activists) to arming proxies in Syria. Obama commissioned a CIA report on the past success or failure of such operations, and the CIA admitted there had been no successes (except in 1980s Afghanistan, which involved a bit of well-known blowback). So, Obama chose not, as he puts it, to "do stupid shit," opting instead to do halfway stupid shit, which proved quite predictably to make matters worse, and to make cries for even stupider shit shriller.
In a similar manner, though it goes virtually unmentioned in Goldberg's tome, Obama has launched wars with drones that he has viewed as the exercise of great restraint in comparison to the launching of ground wars. But the drone wars kill large numbers and do so just as indiscriminately, and they contribute to the destabilization of nations just as disastrously. When Obama was holding up Yemen as a model success, some of us were pointing out that the drone war had not replaced some other kind of war but would probably lead to one. Now, Obama, whose "doctrine" claims to have discovered the unimportance of the Middle East (in comparison with the supposed need to build up for wars in the Far East), is dealing unprecedented levels of weapons to Middle Eastern nations, first and foremost to Saudi Arabia. And Obama's military is collaborating in the Saudi bombing of Yemen, which is killing thousands and fueling al Qaeda. Obama, through Goldberg, blames his Saudi policy on "foreign-policy orthodoxy," which somehow "compels" him to do this particular stupid shit -- if that's a sufficiently harsh term for mass murder.
Obama's Only-Do-Halfway-Stupid-Shit doctrine has proven most disastrous where it has succeeded in overthrowing governments, as in Libya. Obama now says that illegally overthrowing the Libyan government "didn't work." But the President pretends, and Goldberg lets him, that the United Nations authorized that action, that the best laid plans were made for after the regime change (in fact, none were), and that Gadaffi was threatening to slaughter civilians in Benghazi. Obama even seems to claim that things would have been even worse somehow without his criminal action. That he's resumed bombing Libya in an effort to fix what he broke by bombing Libya gets the barest mention.
Obama's doctrine has also included tripling down on the stupidest of stupid shit. Through Goldberg he blames the Pentagon for imposing an escalation of troops in Afghanistan on him, though the escalation he has in mind is clearly the second one he oversaw, not the first, the one that tripled the war he'd inherited, not the one that doubled it and which he'd promised as a candidate for the presidency. When military commanders publicly insisted on that escalation, Obama said nothing. When one of them made some minor rude comments to Rolling Stone, in contrast, Obama fired him.
Obama laughably claims to be an internationalist (in part, he brags, because he's forced other countries to buy more weapons). This is the same Obama whose abuse of the U.N. in attacking Libya finally moved China and Russia to block a similar attempt on Syria. Obama even claims that he backed off bombing Syria in 2013 because the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power of war. This is the same Obama who has since been bombing Syria and who told Congress in his final State of the Union speech that he'd wage wars with or without them -- as he's done in Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, etc. Goldberg even quotes an "expert" characterizing the Obama doctrine as "spending less" despite Obama's increases in military spending.
Goldberg's Obama uses the military primarily for human rights, supported the uprising of the Arab Spring, and has developed a very sage and serious approach to ISIS based on his analysis of a Batman movie. ISIS, in Goldberg's telling, was created by the Saudis and Gulf states plus Assad, with no mention of the U.S. role in destroying Iraq or arming Syrian rebels. In fact, Obama, through Goldberg, restates the imperial view that backward Middle Easterners suffer from millennia-old tribalism, while the United States brings humanitarian services to all it touches. In Obama-Goldberg history, Russia invaded Crimea, only the threat of war made Syria give up its chemical weapons, and Rwanda was a missed opportunity for war, not the result of U.S.-backed war and assassination.
"Sometimes you have to take a life to save even more lives," says Obama confidant John Brennan, pushing the drone propaganda also found in the film, Eye in the Sky. Facts are apparently irrelevant to a portrait of a president. Obama, who signed an executive order last year ridiculously declaring Venezuela to be a national security threat tells Goldberg that he wisely came into office in 2009 and squashed any silly idea that Venezuela was any kind of threat. Goldberg's Obama is a peacemaker with Russia whose weapons build-up on Russia's border goes unmentioned, as does the coup in Ukraine, even as Obama packs insults of Vladimir Putin into this article.
The fact is that Barack Obama has slaughtered human beings with missiles and bombs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia -- and every one of those places is worse off for it. He's passing his successor greater war-making powers than ever possessed by any previous member of the human species. The unquestioned assumptions of his doctrine look more like a disease. There's little an American president could do to make things better in the Middle East, he says, never stopping to consider the possibility of halting arms shipments, stopping the bombings, grounding the drones, ceasing the overthrows, dropping support for dictators, withdrawing troops, paying reparations, giving aid, shifting to green energy, and treating others with respectful cooperation. Those sorts of things just don't qualify as a doctrine in Washington, D.C.
The gears of war are spinning up once again as the US and its partners go about preparing to implement Libya Intervention Part Deux. Latest report from the Sunday Telegraph indicate the planned invasion is based on FALSE INTELLIGENCE!
Now where have we heard that before? Oh that's right, this website was originally founded as AfterDowningStreet.org and dedicated to exposing the US's previous war criminal president's lies that led to the US invading Iraq and causing a million+ civillian casualties and costing a few trillion dollars of treasure.
So now under the current war criminal president it just makes sense to do it ALL OVER AGAIN....
more details below the fold -
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Whatever its motive, Apple’s on the right side...so far: Apple Champions Privacy; Government Seeks to Trash It
By Alfredo Lopez
Truth can be stranger than fiction...or at least more surprising. Apple Computer is the current champion of privacy against U.S. government attempts to expand its spying on us. The company, a frequent NSA and FBI collaborator in the past, finds itself in the strange position of confronting a federal court order to dislodge its iPhone security system, an action Apple insists will cripple encryption as a privacy-protection measure.
Supreme Court Junket King Scalia Dies While Vacationing with Wealthy Patrons at Private West Texas Getaway
By Dave Lindorff
It’s appropriate that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at a luxury resort while freeloading as the guest of thus far unidentified wealthy sponsors as one of 40 guests at a private quail-hunting vacation party.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, an ambassador for the Western Sahara, knew he faced a serious uphill struggle when began his position in Washington, D.C. years ago as the representative for his country that is located on the northwest coast of Africa.
Cros-Posted from DeSmogBlog
By Alfredo Lopez
Bernie Sanders' stunning success in the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, highlighted by what is effectively a victory in the Iowa caucuses this past Monday, provokes serious thinking about what a Sanders presidency would look like.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
A PowerPoint presentation obtained from a source and published by DeSmog in August 2013 has made its way into a major hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") related legal case, which is set to go to trial soon in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
By Joy First
Friday January 8 marked another day of flying to Washington, DC for a week of activism – again. I was feeling sad leaving my family for a week and not looking forward to what I knew I was going to have to do in speaking out against the crimes of our government.
While in DC I stayed with my dear friend Malachy and his family and that is always a comfort to be in their home. Each day was filled with activist work. On Saturday we vigiled against drones at the CIA and I had the opportunity to share what we are doing at Volk Field in Wisconsin where we have been holding monthly vigils against drones for over four years, along with occasional nonviolent direct actions risking arrest. On Sunday we met with a doctor who is the head of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the DC area. He would like to engage more doctors from that organization in civil resistance. He thinks it is a critical time for more people to take to the streets and work for peace and justice.
On Monday we went to the White House where our friends from Witness Against Torture were holding their annual vigil marking 14 years since the first men were imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo. It was a moving vigil as about 20 activists in orange jumpsuits and black hoods walked into the picture postcard area in front of the White House. As the police began pushing the rest of us back to the sidewalk in Lafayette Park I resisted and held my ground as long as possible. For over an hour, our voices were raised together as we sang:
We hear a beautiful sound
It is the breaking of chains
We see a path of hope
We have found the way
Let them go home
Let them go home
Let them go home
Let them go today
Eventually those who had been standing in the picture postcard area joined us and we gathered in a circle in the street again and ended the vigil. A number of men have recently been released from Guantanamo after 14 years of false imprisonment and torture, but Obama could have released them when he became president seven years ago, cutting in half their time there.
As we stayed busy for several days, Tuesday January 12 was weighing heavily on my mind and I was anxiously waiting for that day when the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) was planning a nonviolent direct action. On January 12, the day Obama was going to give us his State of the Union address we were going to deliver a petition to the U.S. Capitol on the “Real State of the Union” outlining what was really going on, along with ideas for solutions. We also had a list of war crimes that had been committed by our government that we wanted to share.
I woke up early on Tuesday morning. Malachy and I had a big breakfast knowing we may not eat again for a long time. We took the Metro to town and as we walked by the Capitol we scoped it out, paying attention to where we might want to go to deliver the petition, and noticing the police – how many there were and where they were. We met up with Max and Janice and the four of us looked at the situation to get a better sense of how the action could unfold.
We gathered together at 11:00 am at a church near the Capitol. It always feels so good to great my old friends and comrades in the struggle. I have been risking arrest with many of them for over ten years now.
I was helping David Barrows stretch out his banner “The Real State of the Union” on wooden poles when Malachy came over and told us that he just heard that Tim Chadwick had died. Tim had been a regular at NCNR actions for many years, but I had not seen him for a couple of years. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear this news. Tim was an amazing activist and never gave up on trying to change the world, and we all knew that we had to continue with our action for the day in his honor.
The group who was going to risk arrest met together in a corner of the church hall to do final planning for the action. We decided we would attempt to deliver the petition to Joe Biden, president of the Senate, as well as vice-president of Obama’s administration. After the planning meeting, we all gathered together for an open mic where we were inspired hearing about what others were doing and sharing stories of past actions.
At 1:30 pm we left the church and gathered on the street corner near the Supreme Court and across the street from the Capitol. We were planning to set up on the sidewalk directly in front of the Supreme Court, but the police there would not allow us to set up the model drones and so we moved to the corner with our drones – another infringement on our First Amendment rights.
We had a rally with a number of speakers talking about the issues of war, poverty, racism, and climate crisis that brought us together that day. Though we sent out a press release, the only media attention we got was from the foreign press, with just one local independent media person. It is a real failing on the part of our mainstream media that they do not provide coverage showing dissent, with people talking about these important issues.
At about 2:30, after each person risking arrest was able to share why they were engaging in nonviolent civil resistance, we walked toward the Capitol with petition in hand. There was a long roadway leading from the sidewalk to the Capitol and we thought we might be stopped, but we were able to get to the steps of the Capitol before an officer stopped us and told us we could not go any further.
We told him we wanted to deliver a petition to Biden, as well as a list of war crimes, and he said we couldn’t, but that he would escort us to the grassy area where we could protest. We told him that we were not there to protest, but rather we were citizens who were attempting to deliver a petition to our government for a redress of grievances, a First Amendment right. By this time, some members of our group were on the steps holding a banner saying, “Stop the War Machine: Export Peace”. The officer said they needed to come down off the steps, and at that point the rest of us walked up the steps and stopped short of a chain blocking us from going further with a sign that said there was no access to the public past that point.
Art Laffin, who was there with others in solidarity, led the group in singing “We shall not be moved” and as we sang an officer gave us three warnings that we needed to get off the steps. As we held our ground they started handcuffing those on the steps and told the others that they had to leave if they didn’t want to be arrested.
It was probably less than 15 minutes between the time we arrived at the steps of the Capitol and the arrests began. I expect they wanted to clean up quickly before people started arriving for the president’s version of the state of the union.
The 13 arrested included Eve Tetaz, Alice Sutter, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Joy First, Trudy Silver, Linda LeTendre, Joan Nicholson, Carol Gay, Max Obuszewski, Malachy Kilbride, Martin Gugino, Phil Runkel, and Brian Terrell. In addition, there were others who were important in making this action happen including our jail support David, Don, and Paki.
We were taken in vans to the Capitol police station where we were processed and released with a court date of February 3. When we compared citations after the action some read we were charged with blocking, other citations noted the charge was incommoding and obstructing.
I will be surprised if the government goes through with prosecuting us. It seems the government is dismissing a lot of cases against activists over the last few years. In this case, we were exercising our First Amendment rights, simply and peacefully attempting to deliver a petition to our government. We did block or obstruct anyone. We were standing against a chain, we did not cross, that had a sign reading the public did not have access past that point. What did we do wrong? Why were we arrested?
The charges may be dismissed, but it would be better if we went to trial and could bring these issues into the courtroom. If we continue to be arrested and then the charges are dropped before trial, it appears that the government is using that as a way to block our access and not allowing our grievances to be heard.
As we have noted in many actions over the last several years, the government is becoming less and less accessible to the citizens. If you are part of a wealthy corporation or have a lot of money, you will have the ear of those in power in DC. But the rest of us do not have a way to access our government about our concerns. We have written letters that have not been answered. We follow up with visits to the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the Department of Justice etc. and we are refused a meeting with anyone in a policy-making position. My friend Linda said that as the crimes of the government become greater and greater, accessibility to the government becomes less and less.
I do not take action because I want to be arrested, though I know I put myself at risk for being arrested for the actions I take. I am engaging in nonviolent civil resistance and I am acting in resistance to the crimes of the government. I am not the one who is breaking the law, but we have many in our government, including Obama, who should be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
These actions are not something I relish doing, but I feel a deep spiritual calling to do this work for my grandchildren and all the children of the world. I am not suffering by the minor inconvenience of being arrested, but there is much grave suffering by children, mothers, and fathers, sisters and brothers both here at home and around the world because of the illegal policies of our government. And so, when I do an action like this I know I am exactly where I need to be and speaking out exactly as I need to be speaking. There is no place else in the world I needed to be at that moment, but on the steps of the Capitol trying to deliver a petition of our grievances.
There are so many grave ills facing the world - war, poverty, racism, climate crisis, and systemic violence to name a few. Please consider taking to the streets. We need more people in the streets engaging in nonviolent civil resistance. That is the only way we will bring about real and lasting change. We will not survive unless we do. It is up to we, the people to demand change.
Video of the January 12 action
Originally published by Telesur
President Barack Obama used his final State of the Union speech to claim that "America is leading the fight against climate change," while in reality the United States is far and away the worst offender, per capita, in the ongoing mad race to render the earth's climate uninhabitable. We "cut our imports of foreign oil," Obama brags, as if earth cares what flag its pollution belches into the air under. "Gas under two bucks a gallon ain't bad," said the President, wildly missing the mark. Yes, it is bad, if you're trying to preserve a livable planet, not just win cheap applause.
"I'm going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources," said the president. He made no mention of changing the way the U.S. government hands out subsidies to those industries.
The state of U.S. militarism also took a leap into an alternate reality. The President openly (if understatedly) bragged: "We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined." He was open about the global chess board he's playing on: "Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria — states they see slipping away from their orbit." And, somehow, "surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us." They do? All people of the world? It's just two years since a Gallup poll found the United States widely viewed around the world as the greatest threat to peace. When Russia and China vetoed war on Syria, much of the world wondered why they couldn't have tried to save Libya.
The President claimed that U.S.-created Middle Eastern disasters he helped to exacerbate are "conflicts that date back millennia." He also proposed -- no joke -- "winning" in "destroying" ISIS this year. Hmm. About closing that prison in Guantanamo and ending those wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ... ? After years of taking credit for "ending" the war on Afghanistan, Obama has switched to not mentioning it.
Also gone missing: the U.S. Constitution. "With or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons," said this former "Constitutional law professor," promising presidential war regardless of Congressional action. On Syria, Obama euphemized, "we’re partnering with local forces." Is that what you call them now? He also opposed "calls to carpet bomb civilians" after he led the dropping of over 20,000 bombs on mostly Muslim countries just in the past year.
The supreme value in this speech, as in the presidential debates it mocked, was revenge: "When you come after Americans, we go after you. ... [W]e have long memories, and our reach has no limit."
Remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms? Speech, worship, want, and fear? Obama has now proposed Four Questions. I'm paraphrasing:
1. How do you make a fair economy? (well not by bailing out the bankers and then coming out against them in a speech 7 years too late).
2. How do you make technology work, including on climate change? (what if the solution to climate change involves less technology? what if blaming technology and globalism for a bad economy overlooks the long-forgotten promises of the Employee Free Choice Act and the prize-winning marketing campaign of Obama 2008?)
3. How do you keep America safe and lead the world but not be the world's policeman? (Has the world asked for a leader? Why isn't cooperation an option?)
4. Can our politics reflect what's best in us? (Whatever.)
After seven years of worsening climate, ocean, plutocracy, wars, blowback, surveillance, retribution for whistleblowers, secrecy, presidential power abuses, and drone murders, this is what you've got for us, Mr. President?
The lesson I take away is this: Pay little attention to 2016 campaign promises. Pay great attention to mobilizing the public pressure that has been missing for seven years.
Yellen has to raise rates: What’s Behind the Fed’s Decision to Raise Interest Rates in a Struggling Economy?
By Dave Lindorff
Much has been written over the past few weeks in the financial press and the business pages of general interest newspapers debating the wisdom of the decision in December by Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Emails and documents obtained by DeSmog reveal that the U.S. Department of Trade has actively promoted and facilitated business deals for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and export terminal owners, even before some of the terminals have the federal regulatory agency permits needed to open for business.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
A document published by the Public Relations Society of America, discovered by DeSmog, reveals that from the onset of its public relations campaign, the oil industry courted mainstream media reporters to help it sell the idea of lifting the ban on crude oil exports to the American public and policymakers.