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eb 2

Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.  

Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here.  This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.  

Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features banjo player Ikey Robinson.  Enjoy!

Ikey Robinson - My Four Reasons

"Is mass-murder acceptable if done without rape or torture or excessive targeting of children or the use of particular types of chemical weapons, as long as the victims are telephoned first or the murderers are associated with a group of people harmed by war several decades back?"

  -- David Swanson

News and Opinion

Israel Broadens Targets in Gaza War: 1,262 Killed

Israel continues escalating its attacks against the Gaza Strip today, broadening its targets to include the strip’s only power plant, knocking out electricity for the 1.8 million Gazans for what officials say will be at least a year.

The growing onslaught also has the civilian death toll once again spiking, with at least 1,262 Gazans now confirmed killed, overwhelmingly civilians, and over 7,000 others wounded. Well over 200 of the slain are children under the age of 18. ...

The UN officials in Gaza reported a “huge surge” in refugees seeking to hide in 85 UN-run shelters across the strip, saying there are now more than 200,000 civilians packed in those few nominally safe zones.

"They Thought They’d Be Safe. They Were Wrong": 20 Gazans Killed in Israeli Bombing of U.N. Shelter

Gaza: at least 19 killed and 90 injured as another UN school is hit

UN official condemns ‘in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces’

At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering displaced people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, condemned “in in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces”.

He said in a statement: “Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.

“We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts.

“It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. But we know that there were multiple civilian deaths and injuries including of women and children and the UNRWA guard who was trying to protect the site. These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army.”

It was the sixth time that UNRWA schools had been struck, he added. “Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed. Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.”

West Bank Palestinians, Israeli Arabs protest as Gaza campaign intensifies

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Three weeks into Israel’s bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip, West Bank Palestinians and Israeli Arabs are beginning to display the kind of fury and cohesion that Israel hasn’t seen since the so-called second intifada, or uprising _ a five-year-long grind of violence, notorious for suicide bombings and brutal crackdowns.

In the West Bank, the Ramallah municipality has papered billboards with signs that read, “We are all Gaza.” A large screen hanging on a building downtown shows a nonstop montage of children suffering in the coastal enclave.

Last week, 10,000 Palestinians marched on an Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya in the West Bank, hurling firebombs and burning tires.

Arab citizens of Israel have staged demonstrations in Nazareth, Haifa, Umm el Fahem and Sakhnin. They’ve declared a general strike. ...

Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Abbas, said something had to change.

“We have submitted to this life of occupation and negotiation too long,” he said. “We disarmed ourselves totally, and the Israelis did not use that as a sign of seriousness of making peace.”

Rabbi Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on Gaza: "A Slaughter of Innocents"

Israel’s Campaign to Send Gaza Back to the Stone Age

As the dust cleared this morning after a night of bombardment that felt as if it would never end, Gaza’s main power plant was out of commission and the already brittle civilian infrastructure lay in shards. The Gaza City port had been bombed and the finance ministry was flattened. Tens of thousands more people had fled their homes as Israeli flares lit up the night sky, and shells and rockets pounded residences, businesses and government buildings. By Tuesday afternoon over 100 more Gazans had been added to the list of more than 1,000 who had died earlier in what Israel calls Operation Protective Edge. ...

The power plant is a loss with particularly far-reaching consequences. According to Hayat abu Salah, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), it will need major repairs before it can be put back on line. “This will affect the provision of water and sanitation services,” she said. “It will impact the operation of health facilities.”

With more wounded pouring into Gaza hospitals every day, they are already stretched. The emergency room of Gaza City’s Al Shifa Hospital is running out of supplies and was already coping with massive complications created by power cuts. The maternity ward has lost premature babies because it was unable to keep the incubators running.

This is not the first time Israel has knocked out Gaza’s power plant and targeted essential infrastructure. Indeed, this is almost part of a standard playbook.

Congress pushes Obama to stop pressing Israel for ceasefire

While much of the rest of the world watches the Gaza war in horror and scrambles for a cease-fire, U.S. lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to take no action that puts pressure on Israel to halt its military operations. ...

In a weekend call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama stressed the need for an "immediate, unconditional, humanitarian cease-fire." Obama, a White House statement said, suggested larger questions would then come later.

Such talk has alarmed lawmakers of both parties.

In a letter last week to Obama, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, said a cease-fire must eliminate Hamas' ability to fire rockets into Israel and place no restrictions on the Jewish state.

"Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats," the senators wrote — a position that presaged by two days the Israeli government's unanimous rejection of Secretary of State John Kerry's cease-fire proposal.

GOP senator compares Hamas to Nazis

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Monday compared Hamas to the Nazis.

“Hamas is like Nazis,” Kirk told Fox 32 after speaking at a pro-Israel rally in Chicago. “The more Nazis you got, the more Hamas you get, the more death you get.”

When asked whether he thought the fighting in Gaza between Hamas and Israel would cost thousands more lives, Kirk said, “It was worth thousands of lives to wipe out the Nazis. And then the world was much better once they were wiped out.

“The only way to secure peace in the Middle East is to wipe out those who would bring terror to the Middle East,” Kirk added.

Who's Profiting from Israel's Offensive in Gaza

DESVARIEUX: So, Shir, the violence continues in Gaza, and it begs the question, who is actually profiting from this war?

HEVER: I have to say it feels very cynical to talk about economy and profiteers when we're talking about such a massive human tragedy and so many people killed--murdered, actually. But I think it is very important to understand the economic aspect of it, because it also tells us a little bit why, why this is happening, and maybe also gives us an idea of what is required in order to stop it.

We've seen in the last couple of years a pattern. Every two years or so, the Israeli military attacks Gaza, attacks the Gaza Strip, and causes a lot of destruction. But right after each one of those attacks, there is a trade show in which Israeli weapon companies show their wares, show their technologies, and boast that these are the very technologies that have been used just now against Palestinians in Gaza. We saw that after the attack of 2008-2009, known as Cast Lead, where the main theme was those robots that go into houses to look around corners. Then we saw that again in the attack of 2012, which was called Pillar of Cloud, in which the main theme was the Iron Dome system that can intercept the Palestinian rockets. And now, in the current attack, we have again the Iron Dome system that is supposed to intercept rockets.

And all of these Israeli companies, which are becoming an increasingly important and very significant part of the Israeli export system and the Israeli economy, depend on those wars. They depend on periodic fighting where they can showcase their equipment, their technology. And the first thing that they say when they try to market whatever it is that they develop: we've already used that on actual human beings. And by making that claim, they're able to compete with weapon manufacturers from other countries.

Kiev escalates war, fires ballistic missiles against Eastern Ukraine

US officials today revealed that the Ukrainian military has begun firing short-range ballistic missiles against rebels in the nation’s east, a new tactic employed over the past two days and a massive escalation of the war.

The missiles are much larger and more destructive than the rockets and artillery used in previous attacks, and are carrying 1,000 pound or larger warheads. The US refused to say what the missiles hit.

US State Dept offers ‘no comment’ on ballistic missiles fired by Kiev forces

Civilian Death Toll and Enmity Rise in Ukraine While Attention Is Diverted

DONETSK, Ukraine — One was a retired cook. Another installed alarms in cars. Another was a cleaner in a grocery store who had gone out to buy ground beef to make her son meatball soup.

With international attention focused on the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the deaths of these three civilians — some of the roughly 800 who have been killed in the battle over eastern Ukraine — have gone virtually unnoticed by the outside world.

The Ukrainian military’s advances to reclaim territory from rebel control have come at a steep human cost. According to a United Nations count released on Monday, 799 civilians have been killed since mid-April, when Ukraine began to battle insurgents here, and at least 2,155 have been wounded.

The killings have left the population in eastern Ukraine embittered toward Ukraine’s pro-Western government, and are helping to spur recruitment for the pro-Russian militias. In time, even if the Ukrainian military routs the rebels and retakes the east, the civilian deaths are likely to leave deep resentments here, and could complicate reconciliation efforts for decades.

Cold War Strategy: US hits Russian energy & finance sectors with more sanctions

Russia takes defiant stance in face of tough EU and US sanctions

As the US and the European Union adopted tougher economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine and downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, Russian officials struck a defiant note, promising that Russia would localise production and emerge stronger than before. But analysts in sectors that could be affected by the sanctions – finance, defence and energy – predicted that they would suffer in isolation from the west.

The EU reached a deal on Tuesday evening to cut off Russian state-owned banks from European capital markets and was quickly joined by the US, which denied the state-owned banks VTB Bank OAO, Bank of Moscow and the Russian Agricultural Bank access to the US economy.

In addition, the EU banned any trade in arms or "related material" with Russia, and the US prohibited transactions with Russia's United Shipbuilding Corp, which it classified as a defence company.

Both the EU and the US will also ban technology exports to Russia for deep-water, Arctic or shale oil drilling. The sanctions imposed by the EU, which does far more trade with Russia than the US, will be reviewed in three months. ...

Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, tweeted: "Obama won't go into history as a peacemaker – everyone has already forgotten about his Nobel peace prize – but as the US president who started a new cold war."

Obama Should Release Ukraine Evidence


FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane

Executive Summary

U.S.–Russian tensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources.

Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists.

Your administration has not provided any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other “dogs that have not barked.” Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling – or unable – to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence. ...

As veteran intelligence analysts accustomed to waiting, except in emergency circumstances, for conclusive information before rushing to judgment, we believe that the charges against Russia should be rooted in solid, far more convincing evidence. And that goes in spades with respect to inflammatory incidents like the shoot-down of an airliner. We are also troubled by the amateurish manner in which fuzzy and flimsy evidence has been served up – some of it via “social media.”

As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information. As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to “poison the jury pool.”

[rest of letter at link - js]

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Nuclear Weapons

Cambodia court begins genocide trial of Khmer Rouge leaders

Cambodia's UN-backed Khmer Rouge court has begun a second trial of two former regime leaders on charges including genocide of Vietnamese people and ethnic Muslims, forced marriages and rape.

The complex case of the regime's two most senior surviving leaders has been split into a series of smaller trials, initially focusing on the forced evacuation of people into rural labour camps and related crimes against humanity.

The first trial against the most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Nuon Chea, 88, known as Brother Number Two, and former head of state Khieu Samphan, 83, was completed late last year, with the verdict – and possible sentences – due to be delivered on 7 August. ...

The mass killings of an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 ethnic Cham Muslims and 20,000 Vietnamese form the basis of the genocide charges against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

Before these charges were filed, the treatment of the minority Muslim group and Vietnamese community was rarely discussed.

The pair also face a string of other charges for the deaths of up to 2 million people through starvation, overwork or execution during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 rule.

This Man Fears America Will Have Him Tortured—Again

Sweden has declined to grant asylum to an American who fears his own country will have him tortured—again.

In June 2011, Yonas Fikre, a Muslim American from Portland, Oregon, was visiting the United Arab Emirates when he was suddenly arrested and detained by the local security forces. For the next three months, he claims, he was interrogated and tortured—grilled with questions that were nearly identical to those the FBI had posed to him just a few months earlier. He believes the US orchestrated his detention, and his allegations are similar to those of other young Muslim Americans who have been locked up abroad and interrogated, often about matters they have already been questioned on by American authorities. In May 2013, Fikre sued the US government for violating his constitutional rights. ...

Though the Swedish Migration Board ruled that there was insufficient evidence of US involvement in Fikre's alleged torture, what's clear is this: The FBI had a strong interest in Fikre prior to his detention in the UAE. In 2011, he was visiting family in Sudan when he was contacted by FBI agents. Internal FBI documents confirm that agents met with and interviewed Fikre at the time. He says they asked him to become an informant. When he refused, they told him he was on the no-fly list and couldn't travel unless he cooperated. "The time to help yourself is now," one of the FBI agents wrote him in a follow-up email obtained by Mother Jones.

Fikre took this as a threat. Though he was told he was on the no-fly list, he was later able to fly to the UAE without incident. But when UAE security forces nabbed him, he concluded that he had been arrested at the behest of the United States. He alleges that he was beaten whenever he asked whether the FBI was involved in his detention. When his story broke in 2012, Fikre became the latest in a series of American Muslims—including Naji Hamdan, Amir Meshal, Sharif Mobley, Gulet Mohamed, and Yusuf and Yahya Wehelie—who claim they were detained, questioned, and (in some cases) abused by local security forces at the behest of the US government. Many of these men say they were asked to become FBI informants.

Senators Say NSA Bill Falls Short on ‘Reform’

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D – VT) long-awaited USA Freedom Act 2014 was introduced today, and would halt all bulk data collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, an effort to tame the soaring power of the NSA to surveil ordinary Americans. ...

A joint statement by Sens. Ron Wyden (D – OR) and Mark Udall (D – CO) expressed considerable concern that the Leahy bill doesn’t go nearly far enough, noting that the “backdoor” loophole remains totally untouched.

The NSA has been using its power to conduct warrantless surveillance of foreigners to also conduct surveillance on Americans who have any communication with them, dramatically broadening their power without any legal prevention.

NSA Court Judges Invest in Verizon While Surveillance Warps Law and Journalism

We must never be surprised when we learn once again that our lawmakers and law interpreters are in bed with the country’s largest corporations—this is how the American government now operates. A July 25 article in Vice includes documentation that shows three judges from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, the tribunal that evaluates the legality of the NSA’s practices, own stock in Verizon. Although there doesn’t seem to be a direct financial incentive for judges to allow the NSA to rifle through the data (our data) of a company in which they have invested, it does show the intimate relationship the NSA, the FISA Court and Verizon share.

Specifically, the article states: “On May 28 last year, Judge James Zagel, a FISA Court member since 2008, purchased stock in Verizon. In June of this year, Zagel signed off on a government request to the FISA Court to renew the ongoing metadata collection program.” The piece goes on to say that FISA Court Judges Susan Wright and Dennis Saylor also own shares in the company, and although Vice wasn’t able to obtain accurate numbers for the amount invested, it appears to be in the thousands of dollars.

The Vice article notes that judges are supposed to remove themselves from cases in which they might have a “financial stake in the outcome” or from any case in which they might find it difficult to be impartial. The Verge also pointed out that telecommunication companies like Verizon receive millions of dollars from the government in their “record-sharing deals.”

The Snowden Effect: This Is Still Not America

Now, it's the folks at Human Rights Watch who are pointing out that, while Edward Snowden, International Man Of Luggage, is not very good on television, and while Glenn Greenwald's probably a major doodyhead whom nobody will play with at recess, what the surveillance state in this country is doing -- and especially, what it's doing to national-security journalists -- continues to be a genuine threat to democracy, which is something we all used to value even more than whether or not someone is good on television. What's happening to the journalists is bad. What's happening to the lawyers is worse.

Lawyers we interviewed for this report expressed the greatest concern about situations where they have reason to think the US government might take an intelligence interest in a case, whether it relates to the activities of foreign governments or a drug or terrorism prosecution. As with the journalists, lawyers increasingly feel under pressure to adopt strategies to avoid leaving a digital trail that could be monitored; some use burner phones, others seek out technologies they feel may be more secure, and others reported traveling more for in-person meetings. Some described other lawyers expressing reluctance to take on certain cases that might incur surveillance, though by and large the attorneys interviewed for this report seemed determined to do their best to continue representing clients. Like journalists, some felt frustrated, and even offended, that they were in this situation. "I'll be damned if I have to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client's confidentiality," said one. The result is the erosion of the right to counsel, a pillar of procedural justice under human rights law and the US Constitution. Uncertainty is a significant factor shaping the behavior of both journalists and lawyers. The combination of the sheer number of surveillance programs, the complexity of the underlying legal regimes, and the lack of clarity as to their scale and scope renders it practically impossible for any layperson to discern which forms of communication and data storage are secure and when they may be reasonably subject to surveillance.
WikiLeaks reveals Australian gagging order over political bribery allegations

A sweeping gagging order issued in Australia to block reporting of any bribery allegations involving several international political leaders in the region has been exposed by WikiLeaks.

The prohibition emerged from a criminal case in the Australian courts and applies throughout the country. It was issued by the criminal division of the supreme court of Victoria in Melbourne "to prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings".

The Australia-wide gagging order is a superinjunction, which means it also contains a clause insisting that the terms of the order itself should remain secret.

"With this order, the worst in living memory, the Australian government is not just gagging the Australian press, it is blindfolding the Australian public," said Assange. ... Foreign minister Julie Bishop must explain why she is threatening every Australian with imprisonment in an attempt to cover up an embarrassing corruption scandal involving the Australian government."

Argentina on brink of second debt default in 12 years

Talks with vulture funds fail in case campaigners say could set precedent for investors to wreck other countries' debt deals

Argentina is on the brink of its second debt default since the turn of the century, as hopes fade that last-minute talks will hammer out a deal with "vulture fund" bondholders. Argentinian officials met a US mediator in New York in the latest chapter of a decade-long debt battle with hedge funds that bought up the country's bonds at rock-bottom prices in the wake of its financial crisis in 2001 and 2002.

The creditors are demanding full repayment on their investments, having refused to join the vast majority of Argentina's bondholders in accepting debt restructuring deals in 2005 and 2010 that would have seen their value slashed.

The value of the bonds, plus interest accrued, is more than $1.5bn (£885m), which a US judge says is due to the so-called holdout bondholders. ...

More than 92% of Argentina's bondholders agreed to deals in 2005 and 2010, under which they would get regular interest payments provided they accepted a reduction of more than 70% in the value of their investment, known as a haircut.

The government attempted to pay the holders of restructured debt their latest interest payment at the end of June, but were barred from doing so by a judge in the US, where the legal battle with the holdouts has taken place. The US district judge Thomas Griesa has said it would be illegal for Argentina to make a payment to the bondholders without also paying more than $1.5bn to the holdouts. ...

Debt campaigners have said that the rulings in the US have implications well beyond Argentina by undoing years of progress in reducing debt burdens on poor countries. They say a victory for the holdouts would set a precedent for other investors to wreck long-standing debt forgiveness deals with developing countries.

Congressional Failure to Raise Wages Has Cost Americans $6 Billion, and More

If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 2009, American workers would have earned another $6 billion over the last five years. According to the "Minimum-Wage Workers Pay-Cut Clock" from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, congressional failure to raise wages has cost Americans big time. That Pay-Cut Clock keeps a running total of the cumulative amount minimum wage workers have lost to inflation since the last time Congress increased the federal wage. Considering that the current total only includes losses since minimum wage was increased to $7.25, the figure would be astronomical if we added in the amount workers lost in the four previous decades since wages stopped climbing. Some people view increasing pay only as putting more money in workers' pockets, but we must also consider that flat wages are really shrinking the value of their paychecks. The Pay-Cut Clock will keep running until Congress increases workers' pay, and we'll keep fighting until everyone has the right to a living wage.

Detroit Water Department Placed in Mayor's Hands

 Control of Detroit's massive municipal water department, which has been widely criticized by the United Nations and others for widespread service shutoffs to thousands of customers, has been returned to the mayor's office.

The move comes a week after the department said it would temporarily suspend shutoffs for customers who were 60 days or more behind on bills for 15 days, and a few months ahead of the expected handoff of financial control of the bankrupt city from a state-appointed manager back to Detroit's elected leaders. ...

 Earlier this month, the federal judge overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy said the shutoffs were bringing bad publicity, and water officials later disclosed they were suspending the shutoffs to educate customers on payment plans. That grace period is set to end Aug. 6.

Mayor Mike Duggan has said water department officials could have been more sensitive in how they handled delinquent bills and the increased shutoffs. He promised Tuesday to have a "new plan shortly" on how to deal with the issue.

"I've heard complaints from many Detroiters who are trying to make payment arrangements, but who have faced long waits on the telephone or long lines at the DWSD offices," Duggan said. "We've got to do a much better job of supporting those who are trying to do the right thing in making those payment arrangements."

The Evening Greens

Koch's petcoke firm threatens lawsuit over city rules

Escalating a fight with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a company that stores enormous mounds of petroleum coke on Chicago's Southeast Side is threatening to sue unless city officials allow the gritty piles to remain uncovered for another four years.

KCBX Terminals, a firm controlled by industrialists Charles and David Koch, is pushing to delay the construction of storage sheds for two years past a 2016 deadline imposed by the Emanuel administration in response to complaints about black dust blowing into surrounding neighborhoods.

The company also wants to raise the maximum height of its piles to 45 feet rather than the 30-foot limit required under new city regulations, according to documents filed by KCBX that seek several exemptions, known as variances, from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

"If the department denies the variances, KCBX's only recourse would be to challenge the department in court," the company's lawyers wrote in an 88-page request that repeatedly describes the Emanuel rules as an "unreasonable hardship."

Last year, another Koch subsidiary removed a waterfront mound of petcoke in Detroit under pressure from local political leaders, but KCBX appears to be girding for a long battle in Chicago. Even if the city balks at giving the company what it wants, dragging the dispute into court could keep the piles uncovered indefinitely.

The company's legal threat comes less than a month after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused KCBX of violating the federal Clean Air Act.

Has The Gulf Of Mexico Hit Peak Oil?

According to a new government report, oil and natural gas production in the Gulf has been steadily declining for the last decade. The report looked at oil production in the Gulf of Mexico on federal lands only, not any privately-held lands where production is taking place. Since 2010, according to the report, the annual yield of oil from the Gulf has fallen by almost 140 million barrels.

While the Gulf region still accounts for 69% of U.S. oil produced on federal lands, the dramatic decline in production tells a story that the oil industry doesn’t want us to hear.  Peak oil is clearly beginning to play a role in U.S. exploration. ...

It isn't because oil drilling is decreasing in the Gulf, either. In fact, oil drilling in the area has been accelerating in recent years, so the decline in production is not the result of fewer wells being drilled.

On top of the increased drilling, earlier this year President Obama announced that his administration would be opening up an additional 40 million acres of the Gulf for oil leasing, which was a follow-up to the announced 72 million acres that had been opened up for leasing just a few months prior.

This makes slightly more sense with the new information about the declining oil production — the president was giving the dirty energy industry a favor by trying to help them access more readily available oil.

EPA Internal Audit Finds Flawed Pipeline Oversight Adds $192 Million a Year to Gas Bills, Harms Climate

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog, the inspector general released a scathing report on the agency's failure to control leaks from the nation's natural gas distribution system.

The report, titled “
Improvements Needed in EPA Efforts to Address Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines,” describes a string of failures by the EPA to control leaks of one of the most potent greenhouse gases, methane, from the rapidly expanding natural gas pipeline industry.

“The EPA has placed little focus and attention on reducing methane emissions from pipelines in the natural gas distribution sector,” the report begins. “The EPA has a voluntary program to address methane leaks — Natural Gas STAR — but its efforts through this program have resulted in limited reductions of methane emissions from distribution pipelines.”

To date, the industry has faced little binding regulation on leaks, in part because the EPA assumes that pipeline companies will not allow the product they are attempting to bring to market to simply disappear. But the reality is that when gas is cheap and repairs are expensive, pipeline companies often put off repairs unless there's a threat of an explosion.

Under many state policies, pipeline companies would have to pay upfront costs for pipeline repairs — or they simply choose to pass the cost of lost gas from unrepaired leaks on to consumers, an issue that the audit faults the EPA for failing to take into account.

Nationwide, the Inspector General report concluded $192 million worth of natural gas was lost from pipelines in 2011 alone.

Oil refinery threatened by sea-level rise, asks government to fix problem

An oil refinery in Delaware is asking taxpayers to pay for protecting it from rising sea levels. The refinery is on the waterfront, and rising tides and extreme storms could threaten it. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act provides grants to states for projects such as building out natural barriers, like dunes, to protect against storm surges. Delaware has such a program in place. And now the oil refinery, after contributing to climate change for more than 50 years , is coming with its hand out. Amy Roe, conservation chair of the Sierra Club’s Delaware chapter, writes:

In Delaware, severe storms are eroding the shoreline and affecting homes and businesses up and down the coast — including the business of an oil refinery. The functioning of the Delaware City Refining Company property just south of New Castle, a division of PBF Energy, is threatened by increasing extreme weather. In other words, climate disruption is hitting the doorstep of its source.

The refinery has tried to get help, submitting an application with the Coastal Zone Management Act seeking shoreline protections due to “tidal encroachment” — which is one way of saying sea level rise.

“The extent of the shoreline erosion has reached a point where facility infrastructure is at risk,” says the permit application from the company.

Roe goes on to argue that this facility is a particularly bad actor even by the standards of oil refineries since it is refining dirty tar sands oil. Moreover, its proposal could direct more storm surges toward Delaware City, the adjacent town.

Blog Posts of Interest

Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.
What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus


The Media Ignores the CIA in Ukraine

Civilizing War Has Failed

A Little Night Music

Banjo Ikey Robinson - Pizen Tea Blues

Ikey Robinson - A Minor Stomp

Ikey 'Banjo' Robinson - Get Off Stuff

Ikey Robinson + Hot Antic Jazz Band - Ikey´s Blues

Jabbo Smith + Ikey Robinson + Hot Antic Jazz Band - Yes Yes Yes

Ikey Robinson, Ted Bogan, Howard Armstrong - Darktown Strutters Ball

The Hokum Boys - Gin Mill Blues

Hokum Trio - You've Had Your way

Jabbo Smith and his Rhythm Aces - Take your Time

Jabbo Smith's Rhythm Aces - Boston Skuffle

Clarence Williams' Jug Band - Chizzlin' Sam

Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon w/Ikey Robinson - Let's Knock A Jug

Jabbo Smith & His Rhythm Aces - Sau-Sha Stomp

The Hokum Boys - I Had to Give Up Gym

Howard Armstrong, Ted Bogan, Ikey Robinson - Railroad Blues

It's National Pie Day!

The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.  

Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.

Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us?  Well you'll see why very soon.  So what are you waiting for?!   Head on over now and be one of the first!

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