You are hereEconomy

Economy


Testimony: Record 36% of North Dakota Fracked Gas Was Flared in December

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The recent March 6 House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing titled "Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure" never had over 100 online viewers watching the livestream at any point in time. And it unfolded in an essentially empty room. 

Pentagon Calls Climate Change Impacts "Threat Multipliers," Could Enable Terrorism

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The U.S. Department of Defense released the 2014 version of its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) yesterday, declaring the threat of climate change impacts a very serious national security vulnerability that, among other things, could enable further terrorist activity. 

Released every four years, the QDR is a broad outline of U.S. military strategy discussing how to maintain global U.S. military hegemony. Like the 2010 document, the 64-page 2014 QDR again highlights the threats posed to national security by ever-worsening global climate disruption.

Criticizing repression of protest abroad, practicing it at home: What if Americans Demanded the Ouster of This Government?

By Dave Lindorff


Ukraine’s new rulers, in one of their first acts, have disbanded that country’s riot police.


Inequality on Campus

As the United States begins to grapple with the issue of growing economic inequality, it should not ignore the widening income gap on American college campuses.

Some of the nation’s poorest people work at higher educational institutions, and many of them are members of the faculty.  Oh, yes, there are still faculty members who receive comfortable middle class salaries.  But most faculty do not.  These underpaid educators are adjunct faculty, who now comprise an estimated 74 percent of America’s college teachers.  Despite advanced degrees, scholarly research experience, and teaching credentials, they are employed at an average of $2,700 per course.  Even when they manage to cobble together enough courses to constitute a full-time teaching load, that usually adds up to roughly $20,000 per year -- an income that leaves many of them and their families officially classified as living in poverty.  Some apply for and receive food stamps.

Adjunct faculty face other job-related difficulties as well.  Lacking employment security of any kind, they can be hired to teach courses the day before classes begin -- or, for that matter, not hired at all.  They often receive no healthcare or other benefits, have no office space, mailboxes, or email addresses at colleges where they teach, and drive long distances between their jobs on different campuses.  As the impoverished migrant labor force of its day, this new faculty majority deserves its own Grapes of Wrath.

Super Bowl Friday Trash Dump: State Dept Releases KXL Final Environmental Review

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The State Department has released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed northern leg of the controversial and long-embattled TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Image credit: Kris Krug.

In a familiar "Friday trash dump" — a move many expected the Obama administration to shun — John Kerry's State Department chose to "carefully stage-manage the report's release" on Super Bowl Friday when most Americans are switching focus to football instead of political scandals. **See bottom of this post for breaking analysis**

Anticipating the report’s release, insiders who had been briefed on the review told Bloomberg News the SEIS -- not a formal decision by the State Department on the permitting of the pipeline, but rather another step in the department’s information gathering -- “will probably disappoint environmental groups and opponents of the Keystone pipeline.”

And, indeed, the new report reads“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.”

This reiterates one of the earlier draft’s most heavily criticized conclusions that the pipeline is “unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands,” and thus avoids a comprehensive assessment of those climate impacts.

In June 2013, President Obama said in a speech announcing his Climate Action Plan at Georgetown University that he would only approve the permit if it was proven that “this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."  

The final environmental review is being released on the heels of damning revelations about the close ties between the Canadian pipeline builder, TransCanada and Environmental Resources Management (ERM). ERM was hired by the State Department to conduct the environmental review.

Insulting Workers, Coddling the Rich: Obama’s ‘Raise’ for Federal Workers is a Bad Joke

By Dave Lindorff


President Obama, five years late, decried the terrible income gap in the US, which has worsened during his years in the White House, and offered the puny “fix” of raising the minimum wage paid to employees working on federal projects from its current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. This executive order, which could have been done when he took office in the depths of the Great Recession back in 2009 would be not immediate but would be phased in over the next three years.


Playing the Defense Jobs Card Isn’t Working Anymore

By William D. Hartung, DefenseOne.com

The history of Pentagon spending is rife with examples in which programs have been saved from the budget cutter’s axe because of the jobs associated with them.  From the revival of the B-1 bomber in the 1980s to the current effort to keep the M-1 tank line open, jobs in key states and districts have provided powerful leverage to contractors seeking to save or extend major procurement programs. But those days may be coming to an end.

For the past two and one-half years, the Aerospace Industries Association, or AIA, has repeatedly played the jobs card in an effort to spare the Pentagon budget from automatic cuts called for in 2011’s Budget Control Act.  The association sponsored studies claiming that a million jobs would be eliminated if sequester level cuts took effect at the Pentagon, and spread the word far and wide.  But despite the partial reprieve supplied by December’s budget agreement, the bulk of the cuts called for by the Budget Control Act are taking effect and the widespread economic damage claimed by the AIA has not occurred. The jobs card didn’t work, and the massive job losses never materialized.

Even if the jobs argument didn’t save the Pentagon top line from reductions, it can still play a role in determining the future of specific weapons systems. The determination of the Congress to continue funding for programs like the M-1 tank and the Global Hawk is evidence that job-driven pork barrel politics is a alive and well. But even in fights over specific programs, the jobs argument isn’t as powerful as it used to be

The termination of the F-22 combat aircraft — known as the Raptor — is a case in point. When the Pentagon decided to end the program at 187 planes, Lockheed Martin and its partners on the project claimed that the program was supporting 95,000 jobs in 44 states. Over 200 members of the House, 44 Senators, 12 governors and the leadership of the International Association of Machinists sent “Save the Raptor” letters to the president, emphasizing the jobs argument. But when the showdown vote came in the Senate, a bipartisan anti-F-22 coalition led by Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., carried the day. While liberal Democrats like Patty Murray, D-Wash., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. — with significant F-22 work in their states — voted for the program, their votes were offset by Republican budget hawks like Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., John Ensign, R-Nev., and Mike Enzi, R-Utah, who voted against the F-22. The jobs argument failed.

A similar logic played out when Congress finally ended General Electric’s bid to be a second engine supplier for the F-35 combat aircraft. A bipartisan effort led by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., ended the second engine program despite the fact that the work would have been done near fellow Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s Ohio district.

The F-35 is the latest big project that is being touted as a major jobs creator as a way to fend off critics and ensure a steady flow of funding. But if the program is to be fully funded, it may have to win on the merits, not by emphasizing how many jobs it could create.

In a new report by the Center for International Policy, we have found that Lockheed Martin has exaggerated the number of jobs associated with the F-35 by a factor of two. In addition, the jobs generated by the program will be much more concentrated than F-35 boosters would have us believe, with over half of the jobs in just two states, Texas and California. And large portions of the aircraft will be built overseas.

In short, there just aren’t enough F-35 jobs in enough key locations to make the jobs argument a decisive factor in funding decisions about the plane. If the F-35 is to be fully funded, the contractors and the Air Force will have to prove that the planes can overcome current, serious cost and performance problems, and that they are needed to address the most urgent 21st century threats. Given that the F-35 is slated to be the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken by the Pentagon, that could be a hard sell. And if recent history is any indication, making exaggerated claims about the jobs the F-35 program will create won’t be much help in making the case for the plane.

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of a new report, “Promising the Sky: Pork Barrel Politics and the F-35.”

Short-term profits trump survival: Washington and the Oil Industry Know the Truth about Climate Change

By Dave Lindorff


Climate skeptics in Congress, and oil and coal industry lobbyists like the American Petroleum Institute and the American Coal Council may be preventing any significant action in the US on reducing this country’s emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, but at the Pentagon, and in the executive suites of the oil industry giants, there is no doubt about the reality of climate change.


Days Before Casselton Oil Train Explosion, Obama Signed Bill Hastening Fracking Permits on ND Public Lands

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On December 20, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed a little-noticed bill to expedite permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on public lands in the Bakken Shale basin, located predominantly in North Dakota. And on December 26, President Obama signed the bill into law. 

Time to invite Occupy back to Wall Street: Is New York’s New Mayor De Blasio Really a Lefty or Just Another Progressive Poseur?

By Dave Lindorff


There is no question but that New York’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio, owes his landslide victory in the November election to the Occupy Movement.


Exclusive: Missouri Permit Shows Exploding ND Oil Train Contained High Levels of Volatile Chemicals

On January 2, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a major safety alert, declaring oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the Bakken Shale may be more chemically explosive than the agency or industry previously admitted publicly

Warren Buffett Buys Stake in Pipeline Company on Same Day as North Dakota Oil Train Explosion

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On December 30, the same day a Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) oil train derailed and exploded in Casselton, North Dakota, Warren Buffett — owner of holding company giant Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF — bought a major stake in pipeline logistics company Phillips Specialty Products Inc.

Optimistic Thought for the New Year: The Looming Battle for Real Social Security Can Spawn a New Progressive Movement

By Dave Lindorff


I don’t care if you are 75 and retired, 61 and just about to reach the age when you become eligible for Social Security, 50 and looking out 15 or 20 years to the time when you’ll need to retire, or 25 with grandparents collecting retirement benefits and wondering what will be there when you get old. Whatever your age, don’t let anyone tell you Social Security is in trouble, or that it “won’t be around” when you need it.


Mourning 100 Years of Usury under The Fed

December 23 marks the tragic 100th anniversary of the private Federal Reserve System, when the U.S. government gave to a private banking cartel that which no government has the right to give away--the sovereign right of a people to create and control their own money, the very lifeblood of a free and independent people. 

"The Congress shall have The Power To...coin Money...", Article 1, Section 8, U.S. Constitution. 

Contrary to what most Americans think, the Federal Reserve System is not a part of the U.S. government.  Rather it is network of private banking corporations, wholly controlled by a handful of Wall Street mega "too big to fail" banking corporations.  Anyone doubting their absolute power should hearken to Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois 2009 statement following the financial crash and the inability of Congress to regulate these banking corporations, "frankly they (banks) own the place (Capital Hill)." 

Dollarocracy: U.S. Congressmen Refuse to Address Keystone XL Southern Half Spill Concerns

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

What's the U.S. congressional response to the safety issues with the 485-mile southern half of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline raised by Public Citizen's Texas office? Mostly what Simon & Garfunkel called "The Sound of Silence" in their famous song.

Keystone XL Fork in the Road: TransCanada's Houston Lateral Pipeline

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Only Barack Obama knows the fate of the northern half of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  But in the meantime, TransCanada is preparing the southern half of the line to open for commercial operations on January 22.

A Holiday Fantasy: If I Were Emperor of the USA

By John Grant


It’s that time of the year again. Ho. Ho. Ho. There’s the urge to celebrate the Winter Solstice (AKA Christmas) with family and friends. It’s also time for end-of-the-year assessments concerning the absurdities of life in a fading empire in denial.

New "Frackademia" Report Co-Written by "Converted Climate Skeptic" Richard Muller

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The conservative UK-based Centre for Policy Studies recently published a study on the climate change impacts of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas. The skinny: it's yet another case study of "frackademia," and the co-authors have a financial stake in the upstart Chinese fracking industry.

Titled "Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking" and co-authored by Richard Muller and his daughter Elizabeth "Liz" Muller, it concludes that fracking's climate change impacts are benign, dismissing many scientific studies coming to contrary conclusions.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In an interview with DeSmogBlog, Richard Muller — a self-proclaimed "converted skeptic" on climate change — said he and Liz had originally thought of putting together this study "about two years ago."

"We quickly realized that natural gas could be a very big player," he said. "The reasons had to do with China and the goal of the paper is to get the environmentalists to recognize that they need to support responsible fracking."

The ongoing debate over fracking in the UK served as the impetus behind the Centre for Policy Studies — a non-profit co-founded by former right-wing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1974 — hosting this report on its website, according to Richard Muller.

"They asked for it because some environmentalists are currently opposing fracking in the UK, and they wanted us to share our perspective that fracking is not only essential for human health but its support can be justified for humanitarian purposes," he said. 

This isn't the first time Liz Muller has unapologetically sung the praises of fracking and promoted bringing the practice to China. In April, she penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled, "China Must Exploit Its Shale Gas." 

Two cheers for Pope Francis: About Time American Idiocy and Paranoia over Marxism Got Called Out

By Dave Lindorff


So Pope Francis, the new pope who has conservative American Catholics, particularly those in politics and the media, freaked out because he is criticizing capitalist greed, knows Marxists who are "good people,"  and isn't upset to be labeled one of them, even though he says "Marxist ideology is wrong.".

The Fight For 15

Originally posted at AcronymTV.com

Fast Food workers walked off their jobs in over 100 cities on Thursday, demanding a living wage. The actions were part of a movement to seeking the right to form a union without retaliation and for a $15 an hour wage. Chanting “We can’t survive on $7.25” workers and their allies took to the streets.

Stink Tanks: Historical Records Reveal State Policy Network Was Created by ALEC

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A 1991 report tracked down by DeSmogBlog from the University of California-San Francisco's Legacy Tobacco Documents reveals that the State Policy Network (SPN) was created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), raising additional questions over both organizations' Internal Revenue Service (IRS) non-profit tax status. 

Making good news out of bad: BLS 7% Jobless Rate for November is Nothing to Cheer About

By Dave Lindorff


The White House, and most headline writers around the country, are crowing that the November jobless rate of 7.0%, reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the lowest since 2009 when President Obama took office, when it was 7.3% and rising.


But is this number really something worth cheering? 


Support This Site

Donate.

Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.

 

Sponsors:

 

Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.

Speaking Events

2015

April 11 Michigan

April 25 Houston

August 27, Chicago

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.