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Sun May 15, 2011 at 04:00 PM PDT

We are all Milad Ayash

by rblinne

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I visited Israel a month ago. I left with the thoughts foremost in my mind, watch Silwan and pay attention to May 15. I knew something big would happen. Something big did happen, a teenager died apparently at the hand of settlers. The why, the rewrite of history by the Israelis, is just as interesting. The first part of the diary is to get people up to speed on the fast-moving events on the ground.  If you are interested in the rewrite of history -- on Nakba Day of all days -- go straight to the fold.  

In order to make sure that I wasn't accused of predicting the past I left the following comment earlier this week here:

Just so I am on the record here before it happens, I predict the Arab Spring will hit Palestine on May 15 (the anniversary of the Nakba).  

Little did I know that the parallels would be complete right down to a martyred teenager. (Thus the title of this diary.)

Then, I left the following comment on Friday, watching Silwan.

Also, here's a video of IDF in Silwan today, where seventeen-year-old Morad Ayyash from the el-Amud neighborhod was shot in the stomach with live fire. He was rushed to the Muqassed hospital where he needed eight doses of blood. His condition is described as serious. To think I walked those streets a month ago. Much safer for American tourists.

But Aharonovitch told the radio he believed the anniversary would pass quietly, and Israeli news website Ynet quoted him as saying he had instructed the security forces "to exercise restraint and avoid using force."

Yeah, right.

I got the name wrong but the rest of the details appear to be correct. Then I saw the following from AJE this morning.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that  the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.

Did this have to do with what I was noticing on Friday? Off to CNN.

Milady Ayahs, 17, was participating in a protest Friday when Israeli police shot him, his family said. He died early Saturday, according to police and his family. The incident is under investigation.

Initial reports were that no live ammunition was used by police who responded to the protests, Rosenfeld said. He said Ayahs was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Rosenfeld said police asked to perform an autopsy on Ayahs to aid the investigation, but the family declined.

Something's not adding up. I'll give a fuller explanation after the fold, from what I saw in Israel the settlers have a better chance of being the shooter and the stomach was where he was shot -- how else can he die with so much blood loss?

OK. How about AFP? It would not have as much of a pro-Israeli bias as the American media.

In conflicting reports of Ayyash's death his family say he was 16 years old, but police say 17.

A relative said he was shot in the stomach by a Jewish settler in the neighborhood of Silwan.

Police said that he suffered a light wound to the shoulder, from as yet unknown causes, and they were investigating the circumstances. They said that no live ammunition was used either by security forces or settlers.

Haaretz reported:

Activists added that the bullet removed from his wound during surgery came from a gun and not a riffle, which is predominantly used by security guards, as opposed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

Now it's starting to make sense. Now a much fuller account from PCHR:

 

In a new crime in the evening of the day before yesterday, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed in cold blood a Palestinian child in Silwan neighborhood in the south of the old town of occupied Jerusalem. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this crime and calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to compel the government of Israel to stop such crimes.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and statements made by the deceased child's father, Said Ali Issa Ayash, 57, who lives in Ras al-Amud area in East Jerusalem and who is a translator and an editor of Israeli affairs, at approximately 15:00 on Friday, 13 May 2011, Milad, 17, who is Ayash's son, was walking on a dirt road in the center of Silwan in the south of the old town of Jerusalem. As he was between 10 and 15 meters far from two houses which had already been occupied by Israeli settlers, he was shot by a bullet coming from the direction of the two houses. The bullet penetrated Milad's abdomen and exited his back and he fell onto the ground. A number of Palestinians rushed to rescue him, but IOF soldiers providing protection to settlers occupying the two houses fired sound bombs at them. Approximately fifteen minutes later, an ambulance could reach Milad and transferred him to al-Maqased Islamic Charity Hospital. Quoting medical sources at the hospital, the father said that when Milad arrived at the hospital, his heart was not beating and his intestines and arteries were torn. Medical sources pronounced Milad dead in the dawn of Saturday, 14 May 2011. Mr. Ayash said that the area where Milad was passing was so calm at that time and that there were clashes between Palestinian boys and IOF in Beer Ayoub area in al-Bustan district in Silwan, approximately 1,500 meters far from the area where Milad was walking.

It should be noted that individuals from Israeli private security companies and forces from the Israeli Border Guard are providing protection to the Israeli settlers occupying the two mentioned houses.

PCHR renews its condemnation of, and points with grave concern to the reported crime and:

1. Asserts that these crimes are part of a series of war crimes committed by IOF in the OPT, which reflect a total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.
2. Calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to put an end to such crimes. PCHR further renews its demand for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 which stipulates "the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," as well as their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Convention

Note my bolded text. Again, more later. Now the funeral. With chants of  "With our blood and our soul, we shall sacrifice for the martyr," they went to the Al Aqsa mosque and flew a Palestinian flag on the Temple Mount! Note how close the Temple Mount is to all this. To get to the flashpoint of the so-called City of David and it's associated Jewish settlements you take a right from the Western Wall security complex, go out the Dung Gate, go a few feet down a hill and boom you're there.

Here's some images from the funeral:

http://www.demotix.com/...

You may ask why I was obsessed with Silwan after my Israeli vacation. The explanation after the fold.

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Last week I gave the following comment to a diary that noticed how the House refused to honor the Navy SEALs bin Laden mission.

My father is a lobbyist for the Military Officers Association of America. This overreach could sour another reliable Republican block, military officers. So, here goes:

Dad,

It appears the failure of honoring of the last WWI vet was not a fluke. The House of Representatives showed their contempt for our men and women in uniform yet again, yesterday. On Tuesdays the House has suspension of the rules to pass non-controversial resolutions quickly. An example from yesterday is H.R. 362 which names a George W. Bush courthouse.   But, there is a new rule that "prohibit the consideration of any measure that expresses appreciation, commends, congratulates, celebrates, recognizes the accomplishments of, or celebrates the anniversary of, an entity, event, group, individual, institution, team or government program; or acknowledges or recognizes a period of time for such purposes.” Apparently this is not limited to sports teams but also our military and intelligence services.

What this means is the Senate by a 97-0 vote congratulated our brave Seals for finally killing Osama bin Laden but the House has failed to do so, presumably because who is the current CiC. I'm sure those Seals would appreciate MOAA and you contacting the congressional delegations on their behalf to redress this great injustice.

In my actual letter I added the following graf:

You may have wondered why my politics have changed recently but this is part of it. The son of friends of mine at church got his legs blown off by an IED in Afghanistan. (http://www.abc15.com/...) Whiny billionaires who don't want to pay 3% more in taxes say we cannot afford to take another five minutes of time to honor people like the SEALs and Jesse. I'm sorry that's not patriotism but opportunism and it dishonors those who really are patriots.

My dad forwarded me the following response from retired Col. Michael Hayden who is the deputy director of government relations of the Military Officers Association of America. His response after the fold:

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Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 01:25 PM PDT

M&I Merger Meeting May 17 in NYC

by rblinne

Pardon the shortness of this but I wanted to give folks a heads up on the proposed merger between M&I bank and the Bank of Montreal. If you go to investor relations for the company you won't find any announcement, but if you go to the required proxy announcement -- run by another company mind you -- you get the full skinny.

To the Shareholders of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation:

You are invited to attend the special meeting of shareholders of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation, a Wisconsin corporation, which will be held at the New York Marriott Marquis, located at 1535 Broadway, New York, New York 10036, on May 17, 2011 at 1:00 p.m., local time, for the following purposes:

1.    to approve the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of December 17, 2010, by and between Bank of Montreal and Marshall & Ilsley Corporation, a copy of which is attached as Appendix A to the proxy statement/prospectus accompanying this notice, and the transactions it contemplates; and
2.    to approve the adjournment of the M&I special meeting, if necessary or appropriate, to solicit additional proxies if there are not sufficient votes to approve the merger agreement.

M&I’s board of directors has fixed the close of business on April 11, 2011 as the record date for determination of the M&I shareholders entitled to receive notice of, and to vote at, the M&I special meeting or any adjournments or postponements thereof. Only holders of record of shares of M&I stock at the close of business on April 11, 2011 will be entitled to notice of and to vote at the M&I special meeting and any adjournments or postponements thereof. Approval of the proposal to approve the merger agreement requires the affirmative vote of a majority of all the votes entitled to be cast by the holders of M&I common stock.

Your vote is very important. To ensure your representation at the M&I special meeting, please complete and return the enclosed proxy card or submit your proxy by telephone or through the Internet. Please vote promptly whether or not you expect to attend the M&I special meeting. Submitting a proxy now will not prevent you from being able to vote in person at the M&I special meeting. If your shares are held in the name of a bank, broker or other nominee, please follow the instructions on the voting instruction card furnished by the record holder.

M&I’s board of directors recommends that M&I shareholders vote “FOR” the proposal to approve the merger agreement and the transactions it contemplates, and “FOR” the proposal to adjourn the M&I special meeting, if necessary or appropriate, to solicit additional proxies in favor of such approval.

All of the shareholder meetings I've seen in the past have been in Milwaukee. Now it's in New York City! Any shareholders of M&I be sure to send in your proxies to scuttle the merger. Also, any shareholders that happen to be in NYC on May 17 please pay a visit to the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel at 1:00.

Discuss

In my previous diary I focused on how corporate influence has supplanted normal party operations for fundraising and organizing. Now I'm going to look at the messaging side. Specifically I'm going to look at the greenwashing that the secretly-funded astroturf organizations do. My congressman, Cory Gardner, rather than supporting the burgeoning green energy industry in his district, he instead supports his oil and gas buddies.

Gardner has been busy going against the wishes of his constituents.  He sponsored H.R. 97, a bill so short that it can be quoted in full:

To amend the Clean Air Act to provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act, and for other purposes.

    * Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    * This Act may be cited as the `Free Industry Act'.

SEC. 2. GREENHOUSE GAS REGULATION UNDER CLEAN AIR ACT.

    * Section 302(g) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7602(g)) is amended by adding the following at the end thereof: `The term `air pollutant' shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.'.

SEC. 3. CLIMATE CHANGE NOT REGULATED BY CLEAN AIR ACT.

    * Nothing in the Clean Air Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming.

He justified this position as follows from his press release:

The EPA has been using the Clean Air Act to quietly impose carbon emission restrictions that are outside the authority of the Act, placing a bigger burden on local governments and consumers as they struggle to comply with the stricter regulations.  Rep. Gardner, whose district is predominantly rural, is especially concerned with the impact EPA policies are having on farmers and ranchers.

Predominately rural? According to the Census Bureau CD4 is 75% urban.
Furthermore, he's not representing his district. Here's an NRDC poll of his district:

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
(519 voters interviewed February 4-5/margin of error: plus or minus 4.3 percent)

    * 66 percent say "Congress should let the EPA do its job."
    * 54 percent say that "EPA needs to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water."
    * 61 percent oppose the Upton proposal "that would block the EPA from limiting carbon dioxide pollution."
    * 55 percent favor "the EPA setting new standards with stricter limits on air pollution."

So, how did he get elected when he is so out of step with his moderate, purple, district? Short answer,  greenwashing. Long answer, below the fold.

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Recently I've focused on the Wisconsin and how the Koch brothers and M&I Bank have taken over Wisconsin politics. Today I've decided to turn my analysis on my home state of Colorado.  As many know I was formerly involved with Republican politics here in Colorado. The 2010 race was confusing because the Colorado GOP appeared extremely disorganized. For example, during the 2010 caucuses it was literally impossible to get ANY information on the district 4 Congressional candidates. This is what I said at the time:

The caucus I attended was literally the most boring I have ever attended (and I have attended almost every caucus since 1992). We had eleven attendees which was the same number for the one my daughter attended. Multiples caucuses were held in the church and it was very lightly attended. A KUNC reporter wandered about the very sparsely attended proceedings. One of the attendees openly wondered why nobody was there given "what was going on this week".  The same individual ran for the state assembly with the rationale for his running being his personal edification! He had no idea who to support. None of us knew squat about any of the candidates. There was only one speech where one woman endorsed some personal friends. Two of the candidates she supported were running for the Congressional seat but she gave nothing substantive on why we should support either or why one was preferable over the other. The only candidate that stopped by was running for Sheriff. Another of the participants asked to delay the straw poll until some of the candidates stopped by (which never happened). The winners of our straw poll were Diggs Brown, Scott McInnis, and Jane Norton. At the county level  Gardner, Maes, and Buck won handily.

So, the effect of the Tea Partiers at the local level was to purge the moderates and even mainstream conservatives out of the GOP. I saw no evidence of inside-the-party enthusiasm I have seen in local OFA meetings. Most of my friends in county leadership are long gone.

Note the last paragraph as I will comment on that shortly. More recently there came the resignation of Dick Wadhams as chair of the Colorado GOP.

Since that time, State Senator Ted Harvey announced that he would challenge Wadhams's bid, saying that "a lot of the grass-roots activists and county officers believe we need to go a different direction."

Harvey was referring to the grass-roots Tea Party groups that became influential within the GOP in 2010. Many of these activists were harshly critical of Wadhams' performance during the 2010 election cycle.

Wadhams told KDVR's Eli Stokols on Monday that he was stepping down because he was "tired of the people who see a conspiracy behind everything we do, people who don't have any clue what the role of the state party really is."

“I have loved being chairman, but I’m tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is,” he told the Denver Post.

The county officers are completely disorganized and as we know here the grass-roots activists are astroturf. (Much more on this later.)  The Larimer County GOP got fined big time apparently because their chair didn't pick up their mail.

"Because the election was just hectic and busy and we had stuff going on, we're trying to recruit volunteers, we're trying to get people in for making phone calls, we're just trying to do all the election stuff," [former Larimer County GOP chair, Larry Carillo] said.

In most county parties, the treasurer plays a key role in maintaining campaign finance reports. But the Larimer GOP's most recent treasurer Terri Fassi resigned in late July or early August 2010 and hasn't been replaced, interim party Chairwoman Devon Lentz said.

A political party does three things:

  1. Fundraising
  2. Messaging
  3. Organizing

As we see above the party was failing on all three counts, particularly on point 3. Because of that I wasn't very worried going into the elections because of it. What I failed to appreciate is that the powers that be have made the GOP (and its little-d democratic style organization) irrelevant. Even people as savvy as Rachel Maddow assumed that a disorganized GOP means that hyper-conservative candidates will not be able to win. Note her comments on the Nevada GOTV:

As outside organizations run by people like Karl Rove start supplanting what the traditional party has done in terms of fundraising and messaging and organizing, is there a cost to that?  Is there a cost to outside groups like those run by Karl Rove doing that instead of the parties doing it?

Here‘s a specific example from this past election in Nevada.  It‘s the 2010 Nevada Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle.  All of the polls right before that election, right up until the election said Sharron Angle would be the United States senator from Nevada right now.  She is not.

Why?  Because for all of the anti-Harry Reid sentiment in Nevada, for all of the fundraising prowess of Sharron Angle, for all of the bad indicators for the guy in charge staying in power in Nevada, in November, there was something missing.  The Republican Party was notably absent on the ground in Nevada in the days leading up to that election.  There was no organizational capacity, it seemed, to turn all of those pro-Republican factors in that election into actual Republican votes.

There was no Republican Party get-out-the-vote machine there.  It‘s something that we found out when we were in Vegas just a couple of days before the election.

Rachel's error was she focused on a Senate race where there was a substantial union GOTV operation in place and a statewide electorate. I contend there isn't really a cost to the outsourcing of the entire Republican party to corporations. I'll will follow the money with Cory Gardner, where the outsourcing produced a different effect below the fold.

Update: Thanks for the rec list. First time. I'm honored.

Update: There was a good question in the comments about how long has this been going on. Here's an early history of the Koch front group Citizens for a Sound Economy provided by sourcewatch.org. CSE later split/merged to become FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.

In 1984 Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch and J. P. Humphries asked Rich Fink to develop a concept for a new organization that could advocate free-market policies effectively in Washington. Fink (now executive vice president at Koch Industries) produced a 110-page business plan and the CSE, along with the CSE Foundation, started operations later that year. Fink became the first president. Ever since, Koch Industries and the Koch Family Foundations have continued to give substantial financial support to the CSE and the CSE Foundation.

In 1988, Jim Miller, President Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, joined CSE's staff and board of directors. This helped raise the profile of the CSE enormously. Until then, it had campaigned mostly on tax issues (advocating a low, flat-rate tax), but now it started focusing on legal and regulatory issues, starting with a telecommunications and financial services.

In 1989, Wayne Gable succeeded Rich Fink as President. That year CSE Foundation rescued the Tax Foundation from financial trouble and restructured its management and board of directors. Gable is currently Managing Director of Federal Affairs at Koch Industries. In 1991, Gable went on the become president of the Tax Foundation, and Paul Beckner took over as president. That year, CSE launched Citizens for Congressional Reform, which went on to become U. S. Term Limit.

In 1993 C. Boyden Gray became Chairman, and CSE led a major press and public relations campaign to defeat the Clinton administration's 1993 proposal for an energy tax. "Our belief is that the tax, over time, may have destroyed our business," said Fink, who by then had left CSE's employ. While the Koch Foundations could not legally lobby against the tax, CSE rallied public opposition, especially in Oklahoma, where then-Senator David Boren agreed to help kill the tax. [2]

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After the firefighters withdrew their money from M&I Bank they issued the following statement:

M&I has not taken, and will not take, a position either for or against the budget repair bill. As M&I has publicly stated before:
    * M&I has not contributed to any candidate and did not contribute to Governor Walker or Mayor Barrett in the last gubernatorial election.
    * M&I has over 6,000 employees in Wisconsin, and, in the great tradition of political freedom in this country, those employees have the right to contribute to the candidate of their choice.
    * M&I employees contributed to both Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates in the last election.

What gave them the deniability was our old friend the 527 organization, in this case the Wisconsin Bankers Association. According to Open Secrets on September 9, 2010 the CEO of M&I Bank, Mark Furlong donated $7500 to the Wisconsin Banker's Association. The largest recipient of the 527 by a long shot was the friends of Scott Walker of $41,700. This isn't your normal spread the money around so you have friends in Madison, though.

Note the following from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 28, 2010 which is before the primary, so the money spent is intended to influence the race:

Walker received more than $26,000 from [527s] run by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, nearly 25,000 from the Wisconsin Bankers Association and more than $23,000 from the Wisconsin Dental Association.

But was there a quid pro quo? Note the following from this January:

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker promised an aggressive agenda to cut taxes and make Wisconsin more business friendly today, even as critics of his initial measures said they don’t do enough to lure jobs to the state.

Walker defended his plans during a speech to hundreds of the state’s economic leaders at the Wisconsin Bankers Association Economic Forecast meeting, which came the same day that the Legislature began public hearings on four of the governor’s proposals.

"We’re going to start sending a message, a slow but steady message, that we’re lowering the tax burden," Walker said to the sold-out crowd.

So, when Walker is talking to his "buddies" the message is lower taxes and not balancing the budget. In fact, in the same article:

The bills also would add about $152 million to the state’s budget shortfall already projected to be about $3 billion by the middle of 2013.

And there's more:

Walker also wants to reorganize the state Commerce Department into a public-private hybrid focused solely on job creation, require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to raise income or sales taxes, and give the governor more power in the state agency rule-making process.

So Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have the same playbook on the rule-making process. Interesting. Now what's the Commerce Department thing?

Walker said the "vast majority" of the 341 Commerce Department employees would be able to remain with the agency, even though he is proposing that the new entity be staffed with private workers. Union leaders have called for Walker to provide more details about how the transformation would take place and what protections workers would have during the change.

We all know how much "protection" workers will get under this change.

Finally, there's the issue of the exposure of innocents if you take your money out of M&I. This in my opinion is just more "shock doctrine". More after the fold.

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Thu Feb 24, 2011 at 07:27 AM PST

2010 Election Post Mortem

by rblinne

This diary is an expansion of my comments to the "This is what happens when you don't vote" diary. I took the unpopular thesis that voters need to take responsibility for not voting and not pawn it off on "disappointing" Democratic candidates. More below the fold.

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A couple days ago Gov. Walker told Sean Hannity the following (I won't give Sean the dignity of a link, Google it yourself):

Now, I give you one good example. Over the years, most of the school districts in our state have had to get, because of collective bargaining contracts, they are required to get their health care insurance plans from WH Trust (ph), that the state teachers union health care plan, because it is under collective bargaining. If we pass our bill, ultimately, they could go into the state employee health care plan and save $68 million. That's money on top of those pitching in health care savings.

Most of the emphasis lately has been on the collective bargaining part of the bold phrase above. I want to look at the word contract and a phrase that came to mind the "sanctity of contracts". Time to fire up the wayback machine, Sherman, to the year 2009.

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The people in my evangelical church are worried about young people leaving and for good reason. In the book "American Grace", Putnam found this:

Young Americans are dropping out of religion at an alarming rate of 5-6 times the historic rate (30-40% have no religion today versus 5-10% a generation ago).  But youth’s religious disaffection is largely due to discomfort with religiosity having been tied to conservative politics.

A recent Pew Poll on budget priorities underscored the divide between the old and young in the church -- or more properly the young leaving the church. Note this isn't over the traditional social issues. This is over economic issues.

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Here in Colorado we have a constitutional limitation on raising taxes known as TABOR. Our community here has been discussing what to do about the fix we're in because of it. I've found that some of my friends have a problem with the need to raise taxes.The argument for this is that taxes are bad for the economy. Keeping taxes low is more important than income inequality as shown by the following two graphs:

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What's not appreciated is how income inequality as part of a deliberate Republican tax policy over the last century causes the bottom 90% to shrink. In order to demonstrate this I did some experiments from this web  site . The bottom 90% are those below $110,000/year  (2008 dollars). So, we are well into the upper middle class here.

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Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM PST

Russians Hire BP for Offshore Drilling

by rblinne

The New York Times is  reporting  that Russia is hiring BP to do offshore drilling in the Kara Sea.

Russia, where onshore oil reserves are slowly dwindling, last month signed an Arctic exploration deal with the British petroleum giant BP, whose offshore drilling prospects in the United States were dimmed by the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year. Other Western oil companies, recognizing Moscow’s openness to new ocean drilling, are now having similar discussions with Russia.

Here's the map showing the area leased:

 

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Both I and another who made the rec list had diaries on the Two Saints church bombing and allegations that the Interior Minister was involved. In the comments I said I would try to run down the allegations. In doing so I found this story on the "Seventh Day" newspaper web site. Google translation below the fold.

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