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"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.
Antonia Juhasz wrote AfterDowningStreet.org to announce a new research and tracking program at Global Exchange. Read her Op Ed below. Antonia wrote:
I'm thrilled to announce the launch of the new Chevron Program at Global Exchange with my Op Ed (below) in today's San Francisco Chronicle. I'll be directing this new program which is just getting off the ground this week. In the coming weeks you'll find our website updated with new information on the Program. Many of you are already familiar with The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report which I was the lead author and editor of and which was released by Global Exchange and several other organizations in May 2009.
Global Exchange has launched the new Chevron Program in recognition of both the growing power and influence of Chevron as it rises from the sixth to the fifth largest corporation in the world and the budding new movement of Chevron-affected communities combining their efforts in resistance to Chevron's harms.
I am thrilled to be joining the amazing team at Global Exchange as well as continuing my current affiliations with the Institute for Policy Studies, Oil Change International, and Foreign Policy in Focus.
This week, Fortune magazine released its list of the 500 largest corporations in the world. With a nearly 25 percent increase in its revenues from 2007, Chevron Corp. moved from the sixth to the fifth largest corporation in the world. Only 36 countries on the planet had GDPs larger than Chevron's $263 billion in 2008 revenues.
By revenue, Chevron is the largest corporation in California, the second-largest U.S. oil corporation and the third-largest corporation in the nation. Chevron's nearly $24 billion in profits for 2008 were its largest on record and the fourth-highest profits of any corporation in the world. Chevron's profits have increased every year since 2002, increasing by an astounding 2,100 percent.
Those who have not benefited are the Richmond community, the site of Chevron's oldest refinery, and the state of California.
In November, Richmond voters passed Measure T. At the current price of oil, it would provide the city with an additional $16 million annually from Chevron (adding 11 percent to the city's tax revenues). Chevron sued, challenging the new tax.
Chevron has also repeatedly blocked state initiatives to impose a severance tax on oil extracted in the state. California is the only major oil producing state in the nation without such a tax. It is estimated that imposition of a severance tax could bring in over $1 billion a year to the California state budget. Read more.
The leadership of Iraq’s most prominent oil union says the government should not as quickly turn to foreign firms in developing fields already producing oil, blaming politicians for stalling progress in Iraq’s oil fields.
Signing international oil companies to produce oil in undeveloped fields is nominally OK by the unions – including the second bid round for 11 fields – but not those that Iraqi workers and state oil company is already pumping from.
And there are warnings from the workers that the BP-Chinese National Petroleum Corp. award for the giant Rumaila field could face physical resistance.
“We think that these contracts are illegal and illegitimate,” said Hassan Juma’a Awad, president of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.
The workers fear they’ll be out of jobs when foreign firms come in. And they see the return of the foreign firms that once ruled Iraq as a petro-province as a potential threat to Iraqis benefiting from the massive fields. Read more.
G-8 Failure Reflects U.S. Failure on Climate Change
By Dr. Jim Hansen [director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, but he writes on this policy-related topic as a private citizen.] | Shalom Center
It didn't take long for the counterfeit climate bill known as Waxman-Markey to push back against President Obama's agenda. As the president was arriving in Italy for his first Group of Eight summit, the New York Times was reporting that efforts to close ranks on global warming between the G-8 and the emerging economies had already tanked:
The world's major industrial nations and emerging powers failed to agree Wednesday (July 9, 2009) on significant cuts in heat-trapping gases by 2050, unraveling an effort to build a global consensus to fight climate change, according to people following the talks.
Of course, emission targets in 2050 have limited practical meaning -- present leaders will be dead or doddering by then -- so these differences may be patched up. The important point is that other nations are unlikely to make real concessions on emissions if the United States is not addressing the climate matter seriously.
With a workable climate bill in his pocket, President Obama might have been able to begin building that global consensus in Italy. Instead, it looks as if the delegates from other nations may have done what 219 U.S. House members who voted up Waxman-Markey last month did not: critically read the 1,400-page American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 and deduce that it's no more fit to rescue our climate than a V-2 rocket was to land a man on the moon.
I share that conclusion, and have explained why to members of Congress before and will again at a Capitol Hill briefing on July 13. Science has exposed the climate threat and revealed this inconvenient truth: If we burn even half of Earth's remaining fossil fuels we will destroy the planet as humanity knows it. The added emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide will set our Earth irreversibly onto a course toward an ice-free state, a course that will initiate a chain reaction of irreversible and catastrophic climate changes.
The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere now stands at 387 parts per million, the highest level in 600,000 years and more than 100 ppm higher than the amount at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Burning just the oil and gas sitting in known fields will drive atmospheric CO2 well over 400 ppm and ignite a devil's cauldron of melted icecaps, bubbling permafrost, and combustible forests from which there will be no turning back. But if we cut off the largest source of carbon dioxide, coal, we have a chance to bring CO2 back to 350 ppm and still lower through agricultural and forestry practices that increase carbon storage in trees and soil.
The essential step, then, is to phase out coal emissions over the next two decades. And to declare off limits artificial high-carbon fuels such as tar sands and shale while moving to phase out dependence on conventional petroleum as well. Read more.
Urgent: Single Payer on the Table in Energy and Commerce on Thursday | Press Release
This Thursday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) will introduce, in the Energy and Commerce Committee, an amendment that abolishes private insurance and creates a national single-payer system that would cover everyone. This amendment would substitute Rep. John Conyers' (D-MI) single-payer bill, HR 676, for the current Tri-Committee Health Reform Bill.
If your representative is a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, please call and ask him or her to support Rep. Weiner's single payer amendment. Energy & Commerce Committee members can be found here.
By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet
Obama's Cap and Trade Carbon Emissions Bill - A Stealth Scheme to License Pollution and Fraud
By Stephen Lendman
On May 15, HR 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) was introduced in the House purportedly "To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy."
In fact, it's to let corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by charging consumers more for energy and fuel as well as create a new bubble through carbon trading derivatives speculation. It does nothing to address environmental issues, yet on June 26 the House narrowly passed (229 - 212) and sent it to the Senate to be debated and voted on. More on that below.
On March 31, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey released a "discussion draft" of the proposed legislation and falsely claimed:
Unveiling a blueprint for the VA-5th to lead the nation in clean energy economy: http://tinyurl.com/ldmtvd
Click through to YouTube for more information and links.
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Mountaintop removal coal mining is the worst environmental tragedy in American history. When will the Obama administration finally stop this Appalachian apocalypse?
... Obama has the authority to end mountaintop removal, without further action from Congress and without formal rulemaking. He just needs to make the coal barons obey the law.
American forces have attempted to take over an Iranian oil field near the country's western border with Iraq, a security official says.
“US forces backed by tanks entered the Mousian area of the Dehloran County, laying around 100 meters of pipeline in Iranian territory," the source, talking on condition of anonymity, said Monday. Read more.
Kucinich: "Passing a weak bill today gives us weak environmental policy tomorrow" | Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2009) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today issued the following statement after voting against H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009:
“I oppose H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The reason is simple. It won’t address the problem. In fact, it might make the problem worse.
“It sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term, and sets about meeting those targets through Enron-style accounting methods. It gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out– coal – by giving it record subsidies. And it is rounded out with massive corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense. There is $60 billion for a single technology which may or may not work, but which enables coal power plants to keep warming the planet at least another 20 years.
“Worse, the bill locks us into a framework that will fail. Science tells us that immediately is not soon enough to begin repairing the planet. Waiting another decade or more will virtually guarantee catastrophic levels of warming. But the bill does not require any greenhouse gas reductions beyond current levels until 2030.
“Today’s bill is a fragile compromise, which leads some to claim that we cannot do better. I respectfully submit that not only can we do better; we have no choice but to do better. Indeed, if we pass a bill that only creates the illusion of addressing the problem, we walk away with only an illusion. The price for that illusion is the opportunity to take substantive action.
Irony of Ironies: Biggest Iraq War Oil Profiteer ExxonMobil Starts Nation's First Electric Plug In Car Share Scheme in Baltimore
by Diane Wittner | June 25, 2009 | Chesapeake Citizens
I have not owned a 'personal' car for eight months, and counting.
I am a member of Zipcar, a nation wide car sharing business, and their fleet has some hybrids for rent.
But check out their new competition: the nation's first electric plug-in car share scheme opened two days ago in Baltimore.
Here's their press release.
How ironic that biggest and most obscene Iraq oil war profiteer ExxonMobil is behind this initiative!
How to respond if one is tempted to join this new company?
Here are a few ideas:
Kucinich: Will Increased CO2 Emissions be our Gift to the Next Generation? | Press Release
Washington D.C. (June 24, 2009) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement against The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 on the House floor:
“Science tells us that we must begin to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in the next five to ten years. But according to an analysis by offsets expert and Stanford law professor Michael Wara, it is possible that we could see no net reduction of CO2 emissions until the year 2040 because of offsets and unlimited banking of allowances in the new climate change bill.
“The bill allows 2 billion tons of carbon offsets a year, roughly equivalent to 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Supporters of the bill point out that coal use will continue to increase until at least 2020 because electric utilities will continue to use dirty coal, the prime source of pollution.
Creating Clean Energy Jobs: Helping People Helping the Environment
Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 11:00 a.m.
Congressman Tom Perriello
Homeowner Ingrid Feggans
Homeowner Chad Thorne
Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris
Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek
Worker Michael Stewart
Chair of White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley
Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality Van Jones (hovering but not speaking)
Backstory: Admirable, if insufficient, as this event was, there is an unpleasant context. The week before this event, Congressman Tom Perriello voted for $100 billion for wars (which he was happy to do) combined with $100 billion in loans to eastern European banksters through the International Monetary Fund (which he will likely be hammered for in television ads a year from now, and which he claims to have opposed even while voting for). The White House and Democratic Party leaders made a lot of promises and threats to pass the bill in a very close vote. The day before this event House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer came to Charlottesville for an event with Perriello. Now Van Jones and Nancy Sutley came. Who will be next? My money is on a south district event with a military big whig. You read it here first.
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FutureGen moves forward with Department of Energy support
By Kelsey Volkmann | St. Louis Business Journal
A proposed $2.4 billion coal-fueled, near-zero emissions experimental power plant in Mattoon, Ill., is moving forward with the preliminary backing of the U.S. Department of Energy and the allocation of $1 billion in stimulus money.
The FutureGen Alliance, comprised 11 member companies, including Peabody Energy Corp., and President Barack Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, have signed an agreement to restart plans for preliminary design activities, final cost estimate analysis and funding for the plant, which stalled under the Bush administration. Read more.
There's an easy way to find oil. Go to some remote and gorgeous natural sanctuary, say Alaska or the Amazon, find some Indians, then drill down under them.
If the indigenous folk complain, well, just shoo-them away. Shoo-ing methods include: bulldozers, bullets, crooked politicians and fake land sales.
But be aware. Lately the Natives are shoo-ing back. Last week, indigenous Peruvians seized an oil pumping station, grabbed the nine policemen guarding it and, say reports, executed them. This followed the government's murder of more than a dozen rainforest residents who had protested the seizure of their property for oil drilling.
Again and again I see it in my line of work of investigating fraud. Here are a few pit-stops on the oily trail of tears:
In the 1980s, Charles Koch was found to have pilfered about $3 worth of crude from Stanlee Ann Mattingly's oil tank in Oklahoma. Here's the weird part. Koch was (and remains) the 14th richest man on the planet, worth about $14 billion. Stanlee Ann was a dirt-poor Osage Indian.
Stanlee Ann wasn't Koch's only victim. According to secret tape recordings of a former top executive of his company, Koch Industries, the billionaire demanded that oil tanker drivers secretly siphon a few bucks worth of oil from every tank attached to a stripper well on the Osage Reservation where Koch had a contract to retrieve crude.
Koch, according to the tape, would, "giggle" with joy over the records of the theft. Koch's own younger brother Bill ratted him out, complaining that, in effect, brothers Charles and David cheated him out of his fair share of the looting which totaled over three-quarters of a billion dollars from the Native lands.
The FBI filmed the siphoning with hidden cameras, but criminal charges were quashed after quiet objections from Republican senators. Read more.
Google Inc (GOOG.O) is closing in on its goal of producing renewable energy at a price cheaper than coal, the company's so-called green energy czar, the engineer in charge of the project, said on Tuesday.
But the United States needs to raise government-backed research significantly and take much bigger risks if it wants to make alternative energy mainstream, executive Bill Weihl told Reuters in an interview.
Google, known for its Internet search engine, in late 2007 said it would invest in companies and do research of its own to produce affordable renewable energy -- at a price less than burning coal -- within a few years.
The often-quirky company cast the move as a philanthropic effort to address climate change, but the work is done by a unit of the for-profit corporation, Google.org, and Google investors will profit from any breakthroughs.
The story of its pursuit of cheap, clean energy became an overnight phenomenon, and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt conferred with U.S. President Barack Obama on economic revival and green jobs. Read more.