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Keystone XL North: TransCanada's Controversial Shale Gas Export Pipeline Plan

The battle continues over the future of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, with the Tar Sands Blockade continuing and a large forthcoming President's Day anti-Keystone XL rally set to take place in Washington, D.C.

In a nutshell: Keystone XL, if approved by the U.S. State Department, will carry viscous and dirty tar sands crude -- also known as diluted bitumen or "dilbit" -- from Alberta, Canada, down to Port Arthur, Texas. From Port Arthur, the tar sands crude will be exported to the global market.

Muddying the waters on the decision is the fact that The Calgary Herald recently revealed that prospective secretary of state, John Kerry, has financial investments in two tar sands corporations: Suncor and Cenovus. Kerry has $750,000 invested in Suncor and another $31,000 invested in Cenovus.

Which of course all raise the question: Is this another episode of State Department Oil Services all over again?

North America's Shale Gas Industry's Keystone XL
North of the border, TransCanada is proposing another export pipeline for the shale gas industry.

Dubbed the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project, the $5.1 billion project will carry gas obtained via the controversial fracking process from the Montney Shale basin westward to the coast of British Columbia. From there, the gas will be exported in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia starting in 2018.

After Nebraska setback, greens regroup on Keystone XL

Environmentalists waging an ongoing fight against the Keystone XL pipeline were dealt a major setback this week when Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed off on the pipe’s route through his state. Now all that stands between TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, and broken ground is a signature from the State Department, the final decision about which is expected this spring.

Between now and then, the sprawling unofficial coalition of green individuals and groups that have bonded in the last two years over opposition to the pipeline is gearing up for a final push. It’s certain to be an uphill battle: Yesterday, a letter signed by 53 senators put renewed pressure on Obama to say yes, and other than the rare rhetorical nod to climate action there are few clues that he’ll nix the project. So the rhetoric of the next couple months could make or break the pipeline.

Who Decides the Laws of War?

UNTIL recently, no uniformed lawyer was viewed by the Obama administration with greater favor than Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, the scholarly chief prosecutor of the military commissions system who is leading the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other Guantánamo Bay detainees accused of aiding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Rhodes Scholar who graduated first in his class at West Point and earned a Harvard law degree alongside a young Barack Obama, General Martins served for five years in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped review detainee policies for President Obama in 2009, and was handpicked to reboot commissions in the hope that his image and conduct would persuade the world to respect the outcome of the Sept. 11 case — prosecutors are seeking death sentences — as legitimate.

But next week, when General Martins returns to public view at a pretrial hearing in the Sept. 11 case, he may appear to have gone rogue. He has engaged in an increasingly public dispute with the administration centered on an uncomfortable question he is refusing to drop: is it valid for the United States to use tribunals to charge idiosyncratic American offenses like “conspiracy,” even though they are not recognized as war crimes under international law?

Anonymous Hijacks Federal Website, Threatens DOJ Document Dump

The group claimed that if their demands were not met they would release a trove of embarrassing internal Justice Department documents to media outlets. Anonymous named the files after Supreme Court justices and provided hyperlinks to them from the defaced page.
As of press time the commission’s site had been taken offline but an earlier attempt by CNN to follow the files’ links yielded dead-ends, mostly offline sites.
The file names use an “.aes256″ suffix, denoting a common encryption protocol. The same system was used to encrypt the Wikileaks Afghan war documents before their release.

If you want to get a sense of what Mary Jo White is like, go to the 17 minute mark to hear her talking about things.  It's well worth listening to this whole panel from about a year ago at NYU with Eliot Spitzer, Lanny Breuer and Mary Jo White, moderated by Neil Barofsky.
Milbank Tweed Forum: Crooks on the Loose? Did Felons Get a Free Pass in the Financial Crisis?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More than three years after the one of the worst financial crises in U.S. history, the government has been severely criticized for its failure to criminally prosecute senior executives at the Wall Street banks that helped cause the meltdown. Have the feds been soft on banking execs? Are laws on the books inadequate for holding people criminally accountable? Has the Department of Justice been too timid or too intimidated by the complexity of the potential misconduct? Or is it the case that actions of the individuals who caused the crisis were potentially reckless and immoral, but not unlawful? Does the lack of prosecutions reflect a weakness in our system of justice? Or does it demonstrate the strength of a system that has resisted the political pressure to scapegoat executives who may have committed no crimes?

A panel of senior criminal justice officials, including a former New York State Attorney General, a former United States Attorney, and the current head of the Department of Justice's criminal division, takes on these questions and more.

Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Eliot Spitzer, Former Governor and Attorney General for the State of New York
Mary Jo White, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Neil Barofsky, Senior Fellow, Center on the Administration of Criminal Law; Adjunct Professor, NYU School of Law

Menendez taking over Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair.  Coincidentally, John Brennan is also from North Bergen.
Robert Menendez is about to assume a more powerful role in Washington

Menendez has a reputation as a more confrontational figure than Kerry, sometimes prosecutorial in tone, often described as a "street fighter" who rose through Hudson County, New Jersey's most ferocious political battleground. He has at times clashed with the White House, and he rarely betrays any hint of a softer side.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Menendez notes that he will be the first Hispanic chairman of the committee. He will have a larger platform for his tough stands on Iran and Cuba, as well as oversight of national security and diplomatic issues.

The son of a seamstress and a carpenter, raised in a Union City tenement, Menendez still begins his days at the IHOP there when he is home in North Bergen.

But he is experienced in foreign policy. He has sat on the Foreign Relations Committee since 2007, after 13 years on the corresponding House panel. He opposed the war in Iraq, and made that stand a central piece of his 2006 campaign for Senate.

His parents having emigrated shortly before Fidel Castro's rise, Menendez forcefully pushes back against all efforts to ease relations with Cuba.

Victory close to defeat for Netanyahu By Pierre

This is a "game changer."  If Bibi finds it necessary to form a coalition with Lapid then his policy towards many things will inevitably be different then it has been.  Relations with the US, intentions towards Iran, a totally permissive attitude towards rampant social ineguality; these things will have to change.

Good that there are discussions about reducing prison population and better ways to spend that money.  But look at the range of options they are considering.  Why not reduce the prison population and spend it on education, temporary assistance for people who are down and out, for job creation?  Oh, let's spend it on more police.
Prison Population Can Shrink When Police Crowd Streets

“The United States today is the only country I know of that spends more on prisons than police,” said Lawrence W. Sherman, an American criminologist on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Cambridge University in Britain. “In England and Wales, the spending on police is twice as high as on corrections. In Australia it’s more than three times higher. In Japan it’s seven times higher. Only in the United States is it lower, and only in our recent history.”


But New York diverged from the national trend in the early 1990s, when it began expanding its police force and introduced a computerized system to track crimes and complaints. Officers also aggressively enforced laws against guns, illegal drugs and petty crimes like turnstile jumping in the subways. Arrests for misdemeanors increased sharply.

Yet serious crime went down. So though more people were being locked up for brief periods — including many who were unable to make bail and were awaiting trial — the local jail population was shrinking and fewer city residents were serving time in state prisons.

Blankfein’s Bonus Said to Surge 90% to Surpass Dimon’s

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein’s bonus surged 90 percent, surpassing JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon’s pay for the first time since Blankfein’s record-setting award for 2007.

Blankfein, 58, was granted $13.3 million in restricted stock that comprises about 70 percent of his total bonus, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. On that basis, the total is about $19 million including $5.7 million in cash, up from a $10 million stock-and-cash award for 2011. Blankfein, who is also the bank’s chairman, receives a $2 million salary.

Jersey zoo camel picks Ravens to win Super Bowl

Princess, a 26-year-old camel at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Forked River, Ocean County, has chosen the Ravens to beat the San Francisco 49ers, zoo manager John Bergmann said.


Bergmann writes the name of one team on each of his palms, then covers the names with graham crackers. The cracker Princess eats first reveals her pick.

In the regular season, Princess makes picks for some New York Giants and Jets games. She used to do the Eagles, but that stopped when Michael Vick - who served time on a dogfighting conviction - joined the team.)

Office space: Why work alone when you can cowork together?

On Jan. 1, 2013, I purchased a 24-hour pass to Cruzioworks, the less expensive of two coworking spaces in my current city of Santa Cruz, Calif.

(For those unfamiliar with the term coworking: It’s like a gym membership, only instead of loping along on a treadmill in pursuit of a more toned physique, you sit — or stand — in a shared office, in pursuit of self-employed success.)


In my new coworking space, the prehistoric printing press has been replaced by 30 or so well dressed geeks; designers, software engineers, and entrepreneurs with start-up dreams twinkling in their eyes — like Joey Jelinek, 26, who wears a bandanna every day until he launches his company, “Chimpdig.” There is also a built-in cafe, an array of desks and plush arm chairs, and a break room, home to the perpetually empty coffee pot.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues

Aretha Franklin - Think [1968]
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