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.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Enjoy!
Jimi Hendrix - Red House
“Presidents are selected, not elected.”
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
News and Opinion
Breaking! Obama Signs Law To Get Money Out Of Politics!!!
Obama signs ban on public funding of presidential campaigns into law
A ban on public funding of presidential conventions was quietly signed into law by Barack Obama on Thursday in a move that could further increase the dependency of US political parties on wealthy donors.
A day after the supreme court removed aggregate limits on how much wealthy individuals can spend supporting candidates, the White House agreed to enact legislation dismantling what was left of an alternative public financing model set up after the Watergate scandal.
US taxpayers could previously elect to earmark $3 (pdf) each year to help support presidential candidates, primaries and conventions in a bid to reduce their reliance on donors, but the amount spent has dwindled in recent years as parties increasingly ignore the subsidies on offer because they require agreeing to some limits on overall spending.
Now the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has proposed scrapping the last actively used part of the subsidy system, which provided an $18m grant to support each party convention in 2012, and use the money to fund national research into childhood diseases instead.
Despite opposition from some Democrats, including House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who regard it a political stunt, the bill called the The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act was signed into law in a ceremony at the White House on Thursday afternoon.
Giving the Super-Rich More CloutThe rich people who brought you Citizens United and McCutcheon are just getting warmed up...
Wednesday, the Court voted 5-4 to overturn federal law setting caps on how much a person can give in each election cycle, a decision that the reform group Public Citizen called “a devastating blow at the very foundation of our democracy.” Dennis J Bernstein discussed the ruling with Public Citizen president Robert Weissman.
DB: Let’s begin by explaining exactly what was decided [by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday].
RW: Well, the short version of what was decided is that the super-rich, according to the five-vote majority of the Supreme Court, have a constitutional right to spend at least $5.9 million in direct donations to candidates, parties and political committees every two years. That is in place of the current limit of around $123,000. …
This is empowering the 1 percent, except that’s a little bit misleading. Because it’s not really a case about the rights of the 1 percent, it’s a case about the rights of the .0001 percent. There are only a few hundred people who are going to write multi-million-dollar checks following this decision. But they are going to have an absolute stranglehold over elections and policy-making in this country.
Legal victory for big-money campaign donors to be felt in states, courtsCorporate media eagerly awaits the fresh haul of money to be showered on them by the .0001%:
On Thursday, there was a sense in both parties that Republicans and other boosters of free spending in elections not only were winning the legal war over campaign finance, but were likely to keep winning it.
The Supreme Court's ruling a day earlier dealt with federal election laws, but 12 states and Washington, D.C., also have some type of contribution limits to candidates and parties that could be challenged.
In Maryland, which has limited donations to party committees in state elections to $10,000 every four-year election cycle, state regulators already have told election lawyers that they will stop enforcing the limit, said David Mitrani, a lawyer who specializes in campaign finances cases.
Massachusetts officials also said they would stop enforcing the state's limit on candidate donations, but are reviewing a limit on contributions to political parties.
Other states with such limits almost certainly will face lawsuits challenging the limits, Mitrani said.
Bobby Burchfield, an attorney who represented Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Wednesday's case, forecast a similar scenario on the federal level.
Burchfield said that he and others who are part of a "merry little band of constitutional lawyers who work in this area" envision a range of potential challenges to federal campaign finance limits, including restrictions on spending by political parties.
My secret plan for all that new campaign cash!
Rather than rehashing that debate and defending a side to predictable results, I’ll burn my column inches identifying the real winner of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission — the media. The more money that flows into campaigning, the more campaigns advertise. The more they advertise, the more money they pay media outlets. And the greater the media revenue, the more secure my profession. Whoops, I mean, the more media properties collect, the more they can spend on the sort of watchdog journalism that preserves democracy!
If anybody needs more money, it’s the news business. According to a fresh analysis published by the Pew Research Center, total “revenue supporting American journalism has declined by one-third since 2006,” dropping from about $95 billion to $65 billion today. Advertising revenue has fallen considerably. In 2006, 82 percent of revenue came from advertising; today, only 69 percent. One result of the turn-down, as everybody knows, has been fewer reporters and less agile newsrooms, which I would declare non-optimal even if I didn’t belong to the trade. ...
If my theory is correct, political ads will clog the airwaves in the next campaign like never before, and broadcasters will drown in news revenue. But TV outlets have a problem. Like hotels, they have a limited inventory to sell, they’re powerless to expand their inventory in real time, and any inventory they stockpile dissolves into nothingness if not sold by a specific date and time.
Newspaper and their Web iterations have an advantage over TV. Every newspaper enjoys excess capacity for print ads, and the same is true, of course, for newspaper Web pages. As campaigns bid up the prices of TV ads, consuming all the slots, the spillover could benefit newspapers.
Cuba brands as illegal U.S.-created ‘Cuban Twitter'Ain't nobody here but us chickens... no no no no no... gosh we weren't trying to foment violence or regime change... nuh uh, and whatever we did, congress approved it (even though it was listed as an unspecified program in pakistan) and it's all legal!!!
Cuba said in a foreign ministry statement issued late on Thursday that the [U.S. project to quietly create a Twitter-like service in Cuba to promote political opposition] "once again demonstrated that the government of the United States has not given up on its subversive plans against Cuba, which seek to create destabilizing situations in the country in order to provoke changes in our political order, to which the government of the United States continues to dedicate budgets of millions of dollars every year."
Citing international law and the United Nations charter, Cuba called on the United States to "cease ... its illegal and covert actions against Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and the international public opinion."
Wheel out the professional liar. Carney, that's your cue:
White House denies 'Cuban Twitter' ZunZuneo programme was covert
The White House is claiming that a secret programme to build a carefully-disguised “Cuban Twitter”, in order to foment political opposition to the Castro regime, was “not covert” but rather a “discreet” form of humanitarian assistance.
Attempts by Barack Obama’s administration to downplay the nature of ZunZuneo, a social-media website it hoped would facilitate protests in Cuba, are at odds with a major investigation by the Associated Press published on Thursday.
The AP revealed how the programme, engineered by the US Agency for International Development (USAid), was intended to encourage “flash mobs” in Cuba, emulating social media-based protests that had been occurring organically in countries such as Iran, the Philippines and Moldova. ...
“It was a development-assistance programme,” he said, adding: "I am not aware of individuals here in the White House who were involved.” He also said the programme was subject to congressional oversight.
Carney denied suggestions the programme was “under the table” or had “roped in” unsuspecting Cubans.
“This programme has been debated in Congress and reviewed by the GAO [Government Accountability Office], which found it was in accordance with US law," Carney said.
He said "discretion" was necessary "not because it is an intelligence programme, but to protect individuals”.
Bringing communication tools to "non-permissive environments" was something "we are quite proud of", he added.
Given that U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba is where logic goes to die, the story shouldn’t be all that surprising. (For the last six years, the U.S. government has spent more than $24 million flying a plane around Cuba broadcasting propaganda that no one is able to hear.) But this one’s still a doozy.
Without ever really accomplishing anything of note, ZunZuneo manages to give rhetorical ammunition to leaders like Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who see U.S. social networks as agents of the U.S. government (Twitter’s Jack Dorsey was apparently approached about funding the project but did not comment in the AP’s article), and those like Vladimir Putin who say USAID aims to destabilize the countries where it works, and could make the Cuban government reconsider its decision to allow more cellphone and Internet access. (Although maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing in the long run for the Cuban opposition?)
I also imagine the Chinese companies behind programs like WeChat can’t wait for the next time U.S. regulators raise concerns about their services being infiltrated by Chinese intelligence.
ZunZuneo, USAID and How the U.S. Lost the Confidence of the Cuban People
A recent article by the Associated Press brought to light an intricate cover operation by the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) in Cuba. With the help of mobile and technological contractors, bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and computer and social media whizzes, USAID developed a Twitter-like communication style in the island called "ZunZuneo." The service allowed Cubans to send text messages, have followers and share thoughts about soccer, music and hurricane updates through their mobile phones, and participate in a mobile community that evaded the government's restrictions over the Internet. Pretty much all the things we do on the internet right now.
The main objective of ZunZuneo, however, was to promote, through text messages, a strong political motivation to change the current Cuban government or, as USAID called it, "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society." ...
ZunZuneo is a déjà vu to the CIA's Operation Mongoose in the 1960s. Authorized by President John F. Kennedy, Operation Mongoose aimed to ignite the revolutionary spark in Cuba necessary to topple the communist regime and flush Fidel Castro out of the island. The operation failed, wasted millions of dollars, and exposed the eerie desire of American policymakers to get rid of the Castro revolution.
Operation Mongoose did succeed in making Cuba citizens more wary of the U.S., and fueled hours of political speeches by Fidel Castro.
Why Turkey Was Planning a False Flag Operation in Syria?
Turkey owns a very small piece of territory inside of Syria that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. This small piece of land is the tomb of Suleyman Shah, a relative of one of the founding Ottomans. It’s guarded by 24 Turkish troops and is considered sovereign Turkish territory. Having Turkish troops in this area is not controversial, as the Syrian government has long agreed to it.
The region where this tomb is located has totally fallen out of the Syrian government’s control for many months. And now, the hardcore ISIL group controls the surrounding area. It has threatened the Turkish soldiers and told them to leave. The Turks refused, and that’s why the Turkish government is getting skittish.
This is where the leaked tape comes in.
The conversation started out with the Turks talking about how they can protect this tomb from ISIL. This is not controversial. I don’t believe the Syrian government would care about the Turks intervening to protect the tomb, since this is an area where it has lost control anyways. Plus, I’d bet the Syrian government would be happy to see the Turks bogged down fighting ISIL militants who’d otherwise be fighting them.
However, that was not the end of the conversation. The really sinister part comes when the high-ranking Turks talk about how easy it would be to create a false flag incident involving the tomb, and how they could use that to justify a much wider military intervention inside Syria.
Such an incident would be a sort of foot in the door to further military activities inside Syria and would allow the Turks to help their favored rebel groups, which have seen serious setbacks lately.
That step would clearly cause them to go to war with the Syrian government and drastically expand the conflict. And once Turkey is involved inside Syria, that opens the door for NATO to be involved.
The Erdogan government has staked a huge amount of domestic political capital by supporting the Syrian rebels. They gambled that their favored rebel groups would quickly win and as a result, Turkey would have more geopolitical influence in a post-Assad Syria. It was a losing bet. ... A false flag incident with the tomb would be a way for Erdogan to double down in a desperate attempt to turn things around in Syria. Whoever leaked this conversation clearly timed it to take the wind out the sails of such a strategy.
[Here's a link to a full transcript of leaked Syria 'war' conversation between Erdogan officials - js]
Turkey's Erdogan criticises court ruling lifting Twitter ban
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday criticized a constitutional court ruling lifting a ban on Twitter, saying the court should have rejected an application to restore access to the micro-blogging site.
"We complied with the ruling but I do not respect it," Erdogan told reporters at a news conference before departing on a trip to Azerbaijan. "It should have been rejected on procedural grounds."
Turkish court orders partial lifting of YouTube ban
A Turkish court on Friday ruled that a blanket ban of social-media website YouTube violated human rights and ordered most of the restrictions be lifted, citing a top court ruling this week that scrapped a similar ban on microblogging site Twitter. ... The court in the capital Ankara said the YouTube ban was too broad and instead specifically blocked access to 15 videos, a copy of the court document showed.
There is no defense for the American and NATO attack on the struggling democracy in Ukraine, an act based on the imperatives of empire and greed. The western capitalists are trying to stave off their own economic collapse by destroying nations who may be strong enough to keep them and their designs at bay, namely Venezuela, Russia, China and Iran. They can’t pull off this crime if they honestly reveal their intentions. Instead they must tell very big lies and get buy-in for destroying the rights of people around the world.
The Russians quite rightly point out that the United States is in no position to point fingers on the subject of violating the rights of sovereign nations. Obama gave this eye opening response to the criticism:“Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.The popular phrase, “Oh no he didn’t.” comes to mind. The equally shameless Bill Clinton was taken to task when he correctly pointed out that Obama’s anti-war credentials were “a fairytale.” It seems that slick Willie knows a slick Barack when he sees one.
“But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.”
Obama is a man in a hurry. The dominos can’t fall fast enough for him. He told us ten years ago that he had no real differences with the Republican administration. Obama watched the increasing unpopularity of sending U.S. troops into Iraq and realized that he could accomplish the neo-con dream of world domination if he executed better, namely by not involving the loss of American lives. ...
While Americans mindlessly accept what they are told about Putin, they don’t realize that their president’s scheming has brought the world to the brink of war. Even at the height of the Cold War the United States did not dare to so blatantly antagonize the Soviet Union but now it appears that all bets are off. The empire won’t crumble quietly but is instead like a wounded predatory animal which can still maim and kill. The man who brought hope to millions is in fact the most dangerous president in history because he is in office as the inevitable collapse threatens the world.
Lavrov seeks NATO explanation for enhanced defense in East Europe
Minister Sergey Lavrov commented Thursday on NATO's decision earlier this week to enhance security of its eastern bloc member states, asking NATO to explain itself.
"Russia-NATO relations are based on certain rules, particularly the Rome Declaration, under which no country has a right to deploy additional troops in East European states," Lavrov said after a meeting with Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov.
Lavrov said he expects NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to explain himself.
McDonald's quits Crimea as fears of trade clash growSnarky Russians!
McDonald's announced on Friday it had closed its restaurants in Crimea, prompting fears of a backlash as a prominent Moscow politician called for all the U.S. fast food chain's outlets in Russia to be shut. ...
McDonald's (MCD.N) said it hoped to resume work as soon as possible but said it would help relocate staff to work in mainland Ukraine, signaling it did not expect its Crimean businesses to reopen in the near future. ...
The company's decision was welcomed by the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known for his anti-Western rhetoric, who demanded that McDonald's pull its business out of Russia entirely. ...
McDonald's, which currently operates more than 400 restaurants in Russia, was the first international fast-food chain to tap the Russian market when it opened in Moscow's Pushkin Square before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
That branch had the highest sales and served the most customers of any McDonald's outlet in 2012.
A Russian backlash again McDonald's products would have a significant impact on company profits. McDonald's sees Russia as one of its top seven major markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report.
Russian ambassadors: 'next we'll take Catalonia, Venice, Scotland and Alaska'
Unauthenticated, expletive-laden recording of pair joking about which countries to annex after Crimea is leaked online
A recording has surfaced online purporting to be a leaked conversation between two Russian ambassadors discussing which parts of the world they would like to annex after Crimea.
The five-minute recording, laden with expletives, has been posted on YouTube and claims to be a telephone call between Igor Chubarov, Russia's ambassador to Eritrea, and Sergei Bakharev, the ambassador to Zimbabwe and Malawi. It has not been authenticated.
"We've got Crimea, but that's not fucking all folks. In the future we'll damn well take your Catalonia and Venice, and also Scotland and Alaska," says the voice labelled as Chubarov, interspersing his speech with laughter and punning the word for Scotland in Russian so it sounds like "Cattleland". ... Bakharev says it would be more interesting to go for California or Miami.
"Exactly, 'Miamiland' is fucking 95% Russian citizens," says Chubarov. "We have a full right to hold a referendum." Bakharev concurs and suggests holding one in "Londonland" as well, to jovial laughter. ...
[the fun starts around 3:20 - js]
Maria Zakharova, deputy spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, wrote on her Facebook page that she had no idea who was talking on the tape, but noted that the photograph appended to the YouTube video of Bakharev bore no resemblance to him, and was actually of a different diplomat who died last year.
Zakharova insinuated that the recording was clumsy US handiwork and compared it to the incident during the "reset" of relations between Russia and the US, when the then secretary of state Hillary Clinton presented the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, with a button that was meant to say "reset", but got the Russian word wrong and thus said "overload'.
"It's like with the 'overload' button. They wanted to do something better than usual, but it turned out as it always does," wrote Zakharova.
Senator goes to wrong hearing, blames Moscow
Senator Dan Coats had a quick explanation for how he ended up speaking at the wrong hearing - the Russians made him do it.
The Indiana Republican went to what he thought was an appropriations hearing on the defense budget on Wednesday and was posing an appropriate question on that subject when someone handed him a piece of paper.
"I just got a note saying I'm at the wrong hearing," Coats said.
He had thought he was at meeting of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee but instead was at a gathering of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.
"I think the Russians have been messing with my schedule," he tweeted on Thursday.
Barrett Brown Signs Plea Deal in Case Involving Stratfor Hack
Barrett Brown, whose case became a cause célèbre after he was charged with crimes related to the Stratfor hack, has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, according to court filings. ...
In the document, which supercedes two of Brown’s previous three indictments, the government charges Brown with two crimes: allegedly assisting the person who hacked Stratfor after the fact, and obstructing the execution of a search warrant targeting Brown.
The first charge is a new one and relates to assistance Brown allegedly gave the person who hacked Stratfor “in order to hinder and prevent [his] apprehension, trial and punishment.”
According to the government Brown worked to create confusion about the hacker’s identity “in a manner that diverted attention away from the hacker,” which included communicating with Stratfor after the hack in a way that authorities say drew attention away from the hacker. The hacker is not named, and it’s not clear if it’s convicted Stratfor intruder Jeremy Hammond, or an earlier hacker who’s known to have penetrated the company first.
The obstruction charge relates to an attempt by Brown and his mother to hide a laptop from authorities during a search of her home in March 2012. Brown’s mother was separately charged with obstruction and given six months probation.
The two charges greatly reduce the amount of time he could face at a sentencing hearing, which previously had been estimated at more than 50 years. ...
Brown is also facing charges related to threats he allegedly made against an FBI agent. It’s unclear if the plea agreement will cover that indictment as well. If it does, and the two cases are combined, Brown’s maximum statutory sentence would likely be five years.
U.S. probing high-speed trading, attorney general says
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating high-speed trading for possible insider trading, Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers on Friday.
The disclosure comes the same week that securities regulators and the FBI also confirmed they are looking into potential wrongdoing by high-frequency stock traders.
Regulators have been examining whether ordinary investors are at an unfair disadvantage to high-speed traders, who use computer algorithms to rapidly dart in and out of trades to earn fractions of a penny that add up to big profits over time.
"I can confirm that we at the Justice Department are investigating this practice to determine whether it violates insider trading laws," Holder told a House panel at a hearing on the Justice Department's budget.
Earlier this week the head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, also confirmed her agency has several active probes into market integrity and structure issues, including high-speed and automated trading.
On Monday, the FBI confirmed it has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation of high-speed trading for months, an outgrowth from the years-long crackdown on insider-trading.
High-frequency trading is a blight on markets that the Tobin (Robin Hood) tax can cure
The dark side of the world of algorithmic trading in financial markets has twice been in the spotlight this week. First was the release of Michael Lewis's explosive new book, Flash Boys: Cracking the Money Code, which highlights many worrying practices in a sector that accounts for about half of all trades on the New York and London stock exchanges. Second was the FBI's announcement on 2 April that it would begin a criminal investigation into wrongdoing in the sector. ...
The capital markets are no longer the means to serve the capital allocation needs of the real economy, but have become ends in themselves. That end is the "business" of speculation, which is way out of balance and therefore unhealthy for the real economy. ...
That is why I am a supporter of policy that itself is making headlines at the moment – the financial transaction tax or Tobin tax, consistent with the initiative of the 11 European countries implementing the proposed FTT of between 0.01%-0.1% on trades in stocks, bonds and derivatives.
The tax falls disproportionately on short-term speculation, such as the worst of high-frequency trading, and probably eliminates it much more effectively than complex layers of new regulation.
It will, as James Tobin put it 40 years ago when he proposed the FTT, throw "sand in the wheels" of international trading markets, encouraging market participants to shift towards longer-term genuine investment strategies where the tax consequences will be inconsequential. ...
As a former banker, I fully appreciate that the FTT is not, as some hope, a miracle cure that will address all the wrongs of Wall Street. Only structural reform of the kind Teddy Roosevelt understood can accomplish that.
But it is a proven revenue raiser and a laser-sharp policy intervention that helps combat the negative effect on the wider economy by a financial sector ridden by corrosive speculation.
The Evening Greens
Anadarko Petroleum settles pollution clean-up case for $5.15bn
The federal government on Thursday reached a $5.15bn settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, the largest ever for environmental contamination, to settle claims related to the cleanup of thousands of sites tainted with hazardous chemicals for decades.
The bulk of the money – $4.4bn – will pay for environmental cleanup and be used to settle claims stemming from the legacy contamination.
The settlement resolves a legal battle over Tronox Inc, a spinoff of Kerr-McGee Corporation, a company Anadarko acquired in 2006.
Kerr-McGee, founded in 1929, left behind a long legacy of environmental contamination: polluting Lake Mead in Nevada with rocket fuel, leaving behind radioactive waste piles throughout the territory of the Navajo Nation and dumping carcinogenic creosote in communities throughout the East, Midwest and South at its wood-treating facilities.
The settlement funds will be paid into a trust that covers cleanup of contaminated sites in 22 states and the Navajo Nation. Among the dozens of locations targeted for cleanup under the settlement is a former chemical manufacturing site in Nevada that has led to contamination in Lake Mead, abandoned uranium mines in and around the Navajo Nation, and a Superfund site in Gloucester, New Jersey, polluted by thorium.
The US initially sought $25bn to clean up decades of contamination at dozens of sites. A US bankruptcy judge in New York in December found Kerr-McGee had improperly shifted its environmental liabilities to Tronox and should pay between $5.15bn and $14.2bn, plus attorney's fees. Cole said at a news conference Thursday that the government decided that the $5.15bn amount was more than enough to cover the damages.
Shell ignored safety warnings 'partly to avoid tax', says US Coast Guard
Shell has been accused by the US Coast Guard of ignoring safety warnings and moving one of its drill ships in the US Arctic, partly in a bid to avoid paying extra taxes.
The damning allegation is contained in an official 152-page report by the US Coast Guard into how the Anglo-Dutch oil group came to allow the Kulluk to run aground in December 2012.
Shell has recently been forced to shelve any plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea again this summer after a federal appeal court ruled the US authorities had failed to properly consider the potential risks.
One senior US politician said Shell should be punished for its "reckless" behaviour and the report raised "major red flags" over any future oil and gas exploration in the pristine waters of the far north.
The US Coast Guard report said Shell's plans "were not adequate for the winter towing operation across the Gulf of Alaska" while arguing that a potential tax penalty influenced the decision to set sail in stormy weather. The Kulluk was in danger of being subjected to new Alaskan taxes if it stayed in local waters beyond the end of December. ...
Meanwhile senator Ed Markey, a Democratic member of the Senate commerce and environment committees in Washington, said: "This report shows that Shell ran through every single safety and common sense red light in moving this rig because of financial considerations. This kind of behaviour should raise major red flags for any future Arctic drilling plans … Shell should be held accountable for its reckless behaviour."
Exxon Agrees to Disclose Fracking Risks
Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to publicly disclose more details on the risks of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, reversing a long-held opposition after negotiations with environmental groups and investors.
The Texas oil company's decision is the latest evidence of a shift by Exxon's top executives to address growing environmental worries about fracking, a contentious energy production technique in some North American communities.
Exxon's disclosures are a response to a shareholder proposal brought by the New York City comptroller and social-responsibility advocate As You Sow, which agreed to withdraw the measure ahead of the company's annual meeting next month.
The move is hardly a surrender to environmental interests, but does indicate a greater push by executives to press their case for oil and gas development at a time when public opposition to domestic drilling has unnerved some in the industry.
Tar Sands Air Emissions Linked to Health Concerns, Alberta Report Says
In one of the first reports to link oil sands production to human health effects, a panel reporting to Alberta's energy regulator says odors from a heavy oil site in the northwestern part of the province have the potential to cause health issues.
Human health is a concern often cited by opponents of rapid oil sands development. But while other Alberta government entities have examined long-standing cancer concerns in the small First Nations community of Fort Chipewyan north of Fort McMurray, no study in that area has found a conclusive link to nearby oil-sands sites and human health. Last week, for instance, Alberta's chief medical officer of health said cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan are similar to those in the rest of the province.
Monday's panel report, which makes recommendations to the Alberta Energy Regulator, follows panel hearings in January on heavy-oil health concerns from residents of a small farming community south of Peace River. ...
The panel said energy regulations are not up to snuff when it comes to managing emissions and odours in the region, but notes the regulatory gap should be addressed by soon-to-be implemented changes. The report points out bitumen production in the area – which is separate from Alberta’s main oil-sands region near Fort McMurray – is uniquely high in rotten-egg smelling sulphur and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a concern due to potential carcinogenic properties.
CDC’s MCHM health study still incomplete
Three months after the Elk River chemical leak, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still hasn’t released its promised analysis of the medical records for residents who sought hospital treatment after exposure to the chemical MCHM.
CDC officials have told the state the medical-chart review “was placed on the fast track” and should be provided sometime this month, but no specific date has been given, said Allison Adler, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
A spokeswoman for the CDC did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. ...
On Thursday, the DHHR announced that it is ready to begin separate work on a door-to-door survey of residents that aims to assess the impact of the leak, which contaminated the water supply for 300,000 residents in a nine-county region around Charleston.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
Jimi Hendrix - Catfish Blues
Jimi Hendrix - Hear My Train A'Comin
Jimi Hendrix - Killin Floor
Jimi Hendrix - Georgia Blues
Jimi Hendrix - Easy Blues
Jimi Hendrix - Villanova Junction
Jimi Hendrix - Rock Me Baby
Jimi Hendrix - Midnight
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Hey Joe
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!