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Iran agrees to ship enriched uranium to Russia for refinement
By Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev | McClatchy
Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, in what Western diplomats called a significant, but interim, measure to ease concerns over its nuclear program.
The agreement was announced after more than seven hours of high-level talks in Geneva among Iran and representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, which also featured the highest-level official U.S.-Iranian encounter in three decades.
Iran also pledged that within weeks it would allow the inspection of a previously covert uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, announced that he'd head to Tehran to work out the details.
In Washington, President Barack Obama said the talks marked "a constructive beginning" and showed the promise of renewed engagement with Iran, but added that "going forward, we expect to see swift action. We're not interested in talking for the sake of talking."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the talks had "opened the door" to potential progress on the nuclear issue. "It was a productive day, but the proof of that has not yet come to fruition, so we'll wait and continue to press our point of view and see what Iran decides to do," she said.
In Geneva, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said he hoped the talks — which are to reconvene later this month — were the beginning of intensive engagement with Iran after a 15-month pause. Read more.
At a press conference, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2009, activists demanded that the Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (BGE), roll back its electric rates to 2006 levels and for it to grant immediate rate relief. BGE is a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, (CE). The event was held in front of the office of the Public Service Commission, a state regulatory agency located in Baltimore, MD. The Maryland Coalition for BGE Reregulation sponsored the press conference. Leo Burroughs is one of its leaders. He was sharply critical of elected Maryland politicians for their do-nothing conduct in this matter, particularly Governor Martin OMalley. Burroughs labeled him, "the biggest phony." Burroughs also announced a new Petition drive. A similar social justice effort was recently staged by activists in the Washington, D.C. area against the electric utility giant, PEPCO.
A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.
The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns. Read more.
Talk about roller-coaster rides: the price of a barrel of crude oil, which was still under $20 the week after September 11, 2001, made it to $147 in July 2008, just before the global economic meltdown, only to hit a low of $32.40 early this year. And yet, in recent months, hardly noticed, it's crept back above $70 -- and this with "recovery" barely on the horizon and global industrial demand still muted at best. And that's the good news.
Surely, as economic activity picks up, oil demand will rise and prices will resume their upward march. And don't be fooled by a spate of announcements, as recently in the Gulf of Mexico, of new oil discoveries, as Michael Klare, author of the invaluable book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, indicates. If there is a surge in industrial demand globally, recent discoveries will have little impact on the growing supply of energy.
"It's still the one," energy expert Daniel Yergin says of oil in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine. Yergin, author of a classic history of oil, The Prize, claims that petroleum will dominate the global energy equation for decades to come. Look elsewhere and you can find sprightly scenarios for energy futures based on climate-friendly renewable energy sources. As Klare makes painfully clear, however, there's a third way -- and that is distinctly not good news. We are going to enter an age of Xtreme energy, he suggests, and the last-ditch efforts to keep our world on its normal course are likely to devastate the environment, accelerate climate change, inflict widespread pain, and create global conflict. It's not a pretty picture. Tom
The Era of Xtreme Energy
Life After the Age of Oil
By Michael T. Klare
The debate rages over whether we have already reached the point of peak world oil output or will not do so until at least the next decade. There can, however, be little doubt of one thing: we are moving from an era in which oil was the world's principal energy source to one in which petroleum alternatives -- especially renewable supplies derived from the sun, wind, and waves -- will provide an ever larger share of our total supply. But buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride under Xtreme conditions.
West Using Its Military Might To Control World Energy Resources: Pentagon's Global Mission To Secure Oil And Gas Supplies
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's 2009 Year Book documented that international military expenditures for 2008 reached $1.464 trillion. The denomination in dollars is germane as the United States accounted for 41.5 percent of the world total.
Earlier this month the Congressional Research Service in the U.S. reported that American weapons sales abroad reached $37.8 billion, or 68.4 percent of all global arms transactions. The next largest weapons supplier was Italy at $3.7 billion, less than one-tenth the U.S. amount. Russia was third at $3.5 billion. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, however, asserted that Germany had superseded Britain and France and become the world's third largest weapons exporter.
Western nations in general and the U.S. overwhelmingly among them dominate the global arms market.
21st century weaponry is daily more technologically advanced, more linked with computer networks and satellite communications, and progressively approaching a blurring of conventional and strategic, terrestrial and space-based capabilities.
And in the U.S. and allied nations the notion of so-called preemptive warfare has advanced precariously to include cyber and satellite attacks that can cripple a targeted nation's communications, control and air defense centers, thus rendering it both helpless and toothless: Not able to fend off attacks and unable to retaliate against or even forestall them with a secure deterrent force.
Justice Dept. Investigates Ex-Official’s Ties to Shell
By Neil A. Lewis | NY Times
The Justice Department is investigating whether a former secretary of the interior, Gale A. Norton, violated the law by granting valuable leases to Royal Dutch Shell around the time she was considering going to work for the company after she left office, officials said Thursday.
The officials said investigators had recently turned up information suggesting that Ms. Norton had had discussions while in office with Royal Dutch Shell about future career opportunities. In early 2006, Ms. Norton’s department awarded three tracts in Colorado to a Shell subsidiary for shale exploration. In December 2006, she joined Shell as the company’s general counsel in the United States for unconventional oils, a company spokeswoman said.
The existence of a federal criminal investigation was first reported Thursday by The Los Angeles Times. Read more.
Biden Pushes Iraqi Leaders On Vote Law, Oil-Bid Perks
By Scott Wilson | Washington Post
Vice President Biden pressed Iraqi leaders Wednesday to approve as quickly as possible legislation that establishes rules for the planned January general election and to make the next round of bids to develop Iraqi oil concessions more attractive to foreign investors.
In a series of meetings in the Green Zone, Biden listened to the concerns of Iraqi leaders, now in the heat of an election season that Obama administration officials acknowledge will delay until after the vote any progress on such pressing issues as passing a law on the equitable distribution of national oil revenue among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.
A senior administration official said Biden also made his interests known on a variety of issues, such as the need for the Iraqi parliament to adopt laws to better protect foreign investment and leaving unchanged the terms of the timetable for the withdrawal of the 130,000 U.S. troops now in the country. Read more.
Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) wrote to update us on the International People's Declaration of Peace (IPDoP):
- This is the final version of IPDoP...the committee sent it out for translation services today!
- We are working on website and an online petition to sign after the translations are complete, it is not ready to be signed yet.
- We are also working on an archival quality hard copy document to be taken all over the world for signatures of leading peace proponents.
- We are also working on accompanying articles for the Declaration.
- We still need commitments for free or very low cost translation services into: French, Japanese, Arabic, Bengali, and Chinese
International People's Declaration of Peace
We the undersigned, as responsible citizens of this planet, hereby proclaim the urgent universal need for sustained security through peace, for present and future generations of the human family.
DC Preps for Exotic Evening of Dance, Art and Music Benefiting the International Lifeline Fund Thurs. 9/24, RSVP Now!
The International Lifeline Fund is a non-profit humanitarian relief organization based in Washington, D.C. In the three short years since it became operational in 2006, this cutting edge organization that has found ways to dramatically reduce human misery and environmental destruction at remarkably low cost. In an effort to get the most bang out of every buck, Lifeline has been promoting cost-effective technologies and self-sustaining programs, which give vulnerable individuals the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of their societies.
Lifeline’s signature initiative involves the promotion of sustainable fuel technologies in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, which, in the past two decades, have lost approximately one-third of their forest cover. Literally half of this loss is attributable to cooking on an open fire – a method that is extremely hazardous to human health and that retards the living standards of women who must spend countless hours collecting wood. In an effort to address these and other problems associated with open fire cooking, Lifeline has provided some 50,000 fuel-efficient clay stoves to women who have been displaced by violence in Somalia, Darfur, Burundi and Northern Uganda. At a cost of as little as $2 each, these stoves have profoundly improved the lives of scores of thousands and slowed the pace of deforestation by greatly reducing the amount of wood needed for cooking.
Massey Morgan Rd Julian, WV 6AM ish 9-9-09 | Press Release
I was filming a Chain & Tube Lock Down Blockade of the road which leads to Massey Energy Regional Headquarters as the first workers of the day arrived.
By Linda Milazzo
I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'
Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.
Van Jones called Republicans what most of the people who voted for Obama call them. And he signed a statement calling for further inquiry and explanation of 911-- the original 911 truth document. Was he left hanging by the Obama Administration for doing what scores of millions of Americans would also do?
Van Jones has been the target of a vicious smear campaign for weeks. Tonight, he resigned his position as special adviser for green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Apparently, the White House and president Obama did not stand behind Jones, one of the most respected leaders in the ecological movement. The Washington Post reported,
'White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Jones "continues to work for the administration" -- but he did not state that the adviser enjoys the full support of President Obama, instead referring all questions to the environmental council where he worked, signaling the resignation was imminent.'
Jones recently issued two apologies. One was for calling Republicans "assholes." The other was for signing a statement in 2004 supporting a call for further investigation of 911, which suggested that the Government might have had a role in the 911 attack. The original document can be found here, with Van Jones the 46th signatory (and this writer was the 47th.) Ironically, one of the most vocal "birthers, who question the validity of Obama's birth certificate, Phillip J. Berg, was also a signatory of the same statement, 8th on the list. Read more.
Controversy Over Fiery Remarks Fells Obama Adviser
Obama's 'green jobs' adviser quits under fire amid controversy over inflammatory statements
By Will Lester, Associated Press | ABC News
The White House environmental adviser under fire for inflammatory statements made before he joined the administration resigned after what he called a "vicious smear campaign against me."
Van Jones "understood that he was going to get in the way" of President Barack Obama's agenda, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday.
The resignation was disclosed without advance notice by the White House in a dead-of-the-night e-mail on a holiday weekend. It came as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.
Jones, who specialized in environmentally friendly "green jobs" with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the Sept. 11 attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans. Read more.
Climate SOS Sets Out to Defeat U.S. "False" Climate Bill, Claiming "Worse Than Nothing Is Not Good Enough"
A grassroots network of environmentalists, scientists, human rights and social justice activists and faith-based organizations concerned about climate change launched a nationwide campaign today to either dramatically improve or defeat climate change legislation being considered in Congress. They say that the Senate bill, expected in September, will very likely take its cue from the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) passed by the House in June, and be even further watered down. While others are calling for passage of the bill, saying it will be "the best we can get under the political climate", the network, calling themselves Climate SOS, states that, like Dr. James Hansen, they believe such a bill will be "worse for the environment than doing nothing". They want lawmakers to start over and get serious about crafting a real and effective climate bill based on the mandates of science, not special interests.
"ACESA was designed to enrich Wall Street, the fossil fuel, utilities and big agribusiness industries at the expense of the climate and our collective peace and survival", said the network's spokesperson Dr. Rachel Smolker, Co-director of BioFuel Watch. "The bill's cap-and-trade mechanism for regulating emissions has been repeatedly proven ineffective, risky and prone to speculation and manipulations, and will lock us into a framework that prevents any effective climate legislation from being adopted. This is one of many provisions in ACESA that make it worse than nothing. It's virtually impossible the Senate will be able to improve on ACESA enough to get us where we must go in order to avoid catastrophic warming."
"ACESA does not even aim to provide a 50/50 chance of averting the worst of climate catastrophe, based on the figures of the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change", said Dr. Maggie Zhou of Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities. "Politicians either do not understand or are not telling the American people about the true magnitude of climate change consequences. The costs of insufficient action will be so much greater than the costs of taking bold action now, and will include lost lives, extinctions and the threatened survival of civilization itself. If politicians and their constituents understood this, there would be far less compromising on the basis of 'political and economic feasibility'."
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
Here's an announcement from CleanHouston.org about the climate fight, which parallels the health fight. The Democrats in both cases have produced bills that go 90% of the way to satisfying the industries responsible for the problems. In return, in both cases, those industries have used astroturf groups and the corporate media to generate pseudo-populist revolts against the impure efforts that did not provide 100% profit maximization:
Energy Citizens, a corporate-organized Astroturf alliance funded in large part by the American Petroleum Institute, is holding rallies in 20 states over the August congressional recess. The rallies aim to undermine the efforts to get climate legislation enacted at the federal level.
Submitted by David Solnit
On August 15th activists and community members from around the Bay Area joined Richmond, California residents to protest the Chevron corporation’s devastating environmental and human rights record around the world.
Those of us who proposed the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney for violating his oath of office and engaging in a Nixon-on-steroids spree of high crimes and misdemeanors began to recognize the abusive nature of the previous administration when Cheney refused to release details of the industry insiders with whom he met to craft energy policies.
The refusal of the Bush-Cheney administration to permit public review of White House visitor logs detailing who was meeting with the vice president's energy task force during the very first weeks of their tenure was a deliberate decision made to cloak dirty dealing by officials who were determined to serve corporate rather than public interests.
It also provided an early indicator that darker and dirtier deeds would eventually be done by Cheney and his compatriots. And they were. Read more.
Matthew Bryza has been one of the U.S.'s main point men in the South Caucasus, the Caspian Sea Basin and Central Asia for the past twelve years.
From 1997-1998 he was an advisor to Ambassador Richard Morningstar, coordinating U.S. efforts in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as in Southeastern Europe, particularly Greece and Turkey. Morningstar was appointed by the Clinton administration as the first Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Assistance to the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union in 1995, then Special Advisor to the President and the Secretary of State for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy in 1998 and was one of the chief architects of U.S. trans-Caspian strategic energy plans running from the Caspian Sea through the South Caucasus to Europe. Among the projects he helped engineer in that capacity was the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan [BTC] oil pipeline - "the world's most political pipeline" - running from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea.
Trans-Caspian, Trans-Eurasian Energy Strategy Crafted In The 1990s
In 1998 Bryza was Morningstar's chief lieutenant in managing U.S. Caspian Sea energy interests as Deputy to the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, where he remained until March of 2001, and he worked on developing what are now U.S. and Western plans to circumvent Russia and Iran and achieve dominance over the delivery of energy supplies to Europe.
Morningstar later became United States Ambassador to the European Union from 1999-2001 and this April was appointed the Special Envoy of the United States Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy, a position comparable to that he had occupied eleven years earlier.
In 2005 the George W. Bush administration appointed Bryza Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under Condoleezza Rice, a post he holds to this day although he will soon be stepping down, presumably to become the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, the nation that most vitally connects American geostrategic interests in an arc that begins in the Balkans, runs through the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea and then to Central and South Asia.
Global Depression and Regional Wars - Reviewing James Petras' New Book: Part I
By Stephen Lendman
James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Besides his long and distinguished academic career, he's a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region' popular struggles. He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, most recently his new one titled, "Global Depression and Regional Wars" addressing America, Latin America and the Middle East.
Part I - Global Depression
Variety's famous October 30, 1929 headline is again relevant: "Wall Street Lays an Egg," or as economist Rick Wolff puts it: "Capitalism hit the fan" following a familiar pattern of boom and bust cycles punctuated by bubbles that always burst. Petras explains it this way:
"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system."
Grim prospects are ahead:
- a world depression with one-fourth of the labor force unemployed;
- global trade in free fall;
- a proliferation of bankruptcies with General Motors a metaphor for a decaying system;
- free-market capitalism in disrepute; and
- "planning, public ownership, nationalization(s and other) socialist alternatives have become almost respectable" because most sacred cow "truisms" and solutions have failed.
We're so past the Roman Empire by now that it's probably time to update the phrase "fiddling while Rome burns." What about, for instance, "writing fake letters ostensibly from real non-profit groups to weaken a climate-change bill while the planet burns"? It's true. According to the New York Times, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a coal industry and utilities trade group, "indirectly hired" a lobbying firm that did just that, sending piteous letters to congressional representatives from, for instance, the Albemarle-Charlottesville chapter of the N.A.A.C.P, claiming: "Many of our members are on tight budgets, and the sizes of their monthly utility bills are important expense items." (Hilary Shelton, the N.A.A.C.P.'s perfectly real senior vice president for advocacy and policy, "called the fake letters 'outrageous.'")
To add insult to injury (or is it to fiddling?), the ACCCE then hired the very lobbying firm that hired the subcontractor that sent out those letters to run a million-dollar campaign to influence Democratic congressional representatives to give the coal industry yet more concessions via further "grass-roots" efforts. ("We're not going to throw the baby out with the bath water here," commented a Coalition spokesperson.) To anyone who has been following the health-care debate, the tactics to be wielded will surely sound remarkably familiar: "The new project will use 225,000 volunteers dubbed 'America's Power Army.' They will visit town hall meetings, fairs and other functions attended by members of Congress and ask questions about energy policy."
As for that burning planet, while the ACCCE's hirees fiddle, the Millennium Project, a Washington-based think-tank supported by the U.N. and other organizations, just issued "2009 State of the Future," a massive 6,700-page report that called on 2,700 experts from 30 countries. With its focus on the condition (perilous) of our burning planet, it got hardly any attention in this country. The report lays out the "seven terrors of the world," of which it ranks climate change as number one, and warns that, in the not-so-long run, civilization itself may be at stake. The report also calls for an Apollo Project-style decade-long effort -- by China and the U.S. in particular -- to tackle the various issues surrounding climate change. But we all know that just ain't gonna happen.
A lot of young people, assumedly thinking about their futures and those of their children in a way their elders have consistently refused to do, have begun to address climate change directly. It's no social movement version of an Apollo Project. Not yet. But Mark Engler, author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy, sees possibilities. (Catch a TomDispatch audio interview with Engler by clicking here.) Tom
Climate Disobedience: Is a New "Seattle" in the Making?
By Mark Engler Read more.
Obama Invests Record $2.4 Billion in Electric Vehicles, Advanced Batteries
ELKHART, Indiana, August 5, 2009 (ENS) – President Barack Obama today announced $2.4 billion in economic stimulus funding for 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects, the single largest investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles ever made.
President Obama visited Navistar International Corporation in Elkhart to make the announcement. Navistar will receive a $39 million grant to manufacture electric trucks, which the company reports will ultimately will create or save hundreds of jobs when full scale manufacturing at the site begins. Overall, seven projects in Indiana will receive grants totaling more than $400 million.
An underwater pipeline leaked more than 58,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting. The spill, which occurred about 30 miles off the Louisiana coast, has now spread to cover 80 square miles -- up from just 28 square miles on Monday. The cause is still under investigation.
The spill "was among the largest in recent years in U.S. waters," Reuters reports.
The spill from Shell Oil's pipeline may not reach land, but its effects are rippling through Florida. Opponents of expanding drilling in the gulf spread the story as yet another reason to keep the eastern gulf clear of offshore rigs (and the pipelines that would bring the oil onshore). Read more.
The answer to easing the energy crunch in one of the nation's most populous states could lie underwater.
Imagine if your utility company could harness the ocean's current to power your house, cool your office, even charge your car.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University are in the early stages of turning that idea into reality in the powerful Gulf Stream off the state's eastern shore.
"If you can take an engine and put it on the back of a boat or propel a ship through water, why not take a look at the strength of the Gulf Stream and determine if that can actually turn a device and create energy?" asked Sue Skemp, executive director at Florida Atlantic University's Center for Ocean Energy Technology.
The demand for energy in Florida -- the fourth most populous state, with an estimated 19 million residents -- is quickly outpacing the capacity to create it, according to experts. Read more.
Grassroots Coalition Special Bulletin | Press Release
Several days ago Paul Krugman in the NY Times pointed to a recent report by MIT scientists which stated that our planet is changing faster than even the pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe – a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unbelievable – can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is instead the most likely outcome if we continue on our present course,
Researchers at MIT who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees by the end of this century we would see a rise of 9 degrees, because greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected, and some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped.