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Journal Archives

Fracking .........

Bernie and Hillary and Fracking:



(and how she didn't appear to consider much at all those 'conditions' peddling it to other nations)

How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World

A trove of secret documents details the US government's global push for shale gas.

—By Mariah Blake | September/October 2014 Issue

ONE ICY MORNING in February 2012, Hillary Clinton's plane touched down in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which was just digging out from a fierce blizzard. Wrapped in a thick coat, the secretary of state descended the stairs to the snow-covered tarmac, where she and her aides piled into a motorcade bound for the presidential palace. That afternoon, they huddled with Bulgarian leaders, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, discussing everything from Syria's bloody civil war to their joint search for loose nukes. But the focus of the talks was fracking. The previous year, Bulgaria had signed a five-year, $68 million deal, granting US oil giant Chevron millions of acres in shale gas concessions. Bulgarians were outraged. Shortly before Clinton arrived, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets carrying placards that read "Stop fracking with our water" and "Chevron go home." Bulgaria's parliament responded by voting overwhelmingly for a fracking moratorium.

Clinton urged Bulgarian officials to give fracking another chance. According to Borissov, she agreed to help fly in the "best specialists on these new technologies to present the benefits to the Bulgarian people." But resistance only grew. The following month in neighboring Romania, thousands of people gathered to protest another Chevron fracking project, and Romania's parliament began weighing its own shale gas moratorium. Again Clinton intervened, dispatching her special envoy for energy in Eurasia, Richard Morningstar, to push back against the fracking bans. The State Depart­ment's lobbying effort culminated in late May 2012, when Morningstar held a series of meetings on fracking with top Bulgarian and Romanian officials. He also touted the technology in an interview on Bulgarian national radio, saying it could lead to a fivefold drop in the price of natural gas. A few weeks later, Romania's parliament voted down its proposed fracking ban and Bulgaria's eased its moratorium.

Hillary Clinton is welcomed to Sofia by Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikolay Mladenov, left. US Department of State/flickr

Goldwyn had a long history of promoting drilling overseas—both as a Department of Energy official under Bill Clinton and as a representative of the oil industry. From 2005 to 2009 he directed the US-Libya Business Association, an organization funded primarily by US oil companies—including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Marathon—clamoring to tap Libya's abundant supply. Goldwyn lobbied Congress for pro-Libyan policies and even battled legislation that would have allowed families of the Lockerbie bombing victims to sue the Libyan government for its alleged role in the attack.

But environmental groups were barely consulted, while industry played a crucial role. When Goldwyn unveiled the initiative in April 2010, it was at a meeting of the United States Energy Association, a trade organization representing Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and ConocoPhillips, all of which were pursuing fracking overseas. Among their top targets was Poland, which preliminary studies suggested had abundant shale gas. The day after Goldwyn's announcement, the US Embassy in Warsaw helped organize a shale gas conference, underwritten by these same companies (plus the oil field services company Halliburton) and attended by officials from the departments of State and Energy.



Iraq Invasion: Anniversary of The Biggest Terrorist Attack in Modern History?

by Felicity Arbuthnot / March 28th, 2016

Since terrorism’s tragedy is again in the news, it is timely to revisit perhaps one of the biggest acts of terrorism in modern history — the illegal invasion and destruction, ongoing, of Iraq.

March 20th marked the thirteenth anniversary of an action resulting in the equivalent of a Paris, Brussels, London July 7th, 2005, often multiple times daily in Iraq ever since. As for September 11th, 2001, there has frequently been that death toll and heartbreak every several weeks, also ongoing.

Saddam Hussein and fundamentalism were two different planets and any inkling of a threat was instantly dealt with – yes, sometimes brutally, but Iraq and the region remained secular and apart from the domestic problems and criminalities common to near all nations, the streets were safe and life normal. In Baghdad, until the deprivation and desperation wrought by the 1990 embargo and the 1991 bombing, people did not even lock their doors.

“Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and traded around the world the carnage they could inflict to our economies, to our security, to world peace would be beyond our most vivid imagination”, Blair continued. Indeed. The US-UK spawned ISIS who obtained arms from the US disbanded Iraqi army, arms from the US provided and trained new Iraqi army as they fled multiple conflicts in multiple areas, leaving all behind and indeed have “obtained these weapons” which have been dropped from the air to them on multiple occasions — by the US.

The result of “removing Saddam” (read: lynching Saddam) has been a blood soaked daily litany for thirteen years. The majority of Iraqis in exile fled to send money back home to keep their families and extended families during the decimating embargo which had resulted in basic food stuffs increasing in price often over eleven thousand fold.

The “thousands of children” were indeed dying “every year” – from “embargo related causes” according to the UN. The government set up a ration distribution system to try and counter the food crisis (Iraq had imported 70% of near everything.) The UN called the efficiency of the system exemplary, but the embargo prevented food and essential imports. Even soap, toothpaste, shampoo and sanitary requirements had become luxury items. Prior to the embargo, the country had free health service, food was inexpensive and plentiful and water borne diseases mostly eradicated. Between the embargo and the bombing all was destroyed.

In Fallujah, besieged by militias and according to another contact: “ … bombed since January 1, 2014 by the government (armed by the USA and with US military advisers this whole time) and since August 2014 by the US Coalition”, the people are starving: “ On March 17th a husband threw himself his wife with their three children in to the river (Euphrates) from a bridge and drowned. They were desperate from hunger …” And the bodies of: “Nearly four thousand killed civilians have been taken to the hospital since January 2014.

On March 27th, Tony Blair was back giving his views. They broadly include invading Iraq, Syria and Libya to save Europe from ISIS, remarking of ISIS: “… This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance”, said the man who was interested in neither and enjoined a “Crusade” – an equally thousand year outdated fundamentalism.

Anyone who listens to the advise of the author who did so much to spawn the horror, genocide, destruction, insanity, barbarism and should be facing a War Crimes Tribunal for his part in bringing the all about, is arguably certifiably insane.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/iraq-invasion-anniversary-of-the-biggest-terrorist-attack-in-modern-history/


Reverse Robin Hood: Six Billion Dollar Businesses Preying on Poor People

by Bill Quigley / March 7th, 2016

Many see families in poverty and seek to help. Others see families in poverty and see opportunities for profit.

Here are six examples of billion dollar industries which are built on separating poor people, especially people of color, from their money, the reverse Robin Hood.

Check Cashing Businesses

Check cashing businesses. Cash a $100 check? At Walmart that will be $3. At TD bank non-customers pay $5 to cash a check from their bank.

Nearly 10 million households containing 25 million people do not have any bank account according to the FDIC. Most because they did not have enough money to keep a minimum balance in their account.

Check cashing businesses are part of a $100 billion industry of more than 6,500 check cashing businesses in the US, many which also provide money orders, utility bill payments and the like, according to testimony provided to Congress by the industry.


Payday Loans

Payday loans are used by people over 15 million times a year and can lead to deep debt problems and usually involve incredible percentages of up to 391 percent according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Pew Charitable Trusts reported payday loans are a $7 billion dollar a year industry. The Federal Trade Commission won a $300 million case against two payday lenders who were deceiving borrowers, who, for example, took out a $300 loan thinking it could be repaid for $390 when, in fact, the lender was charging $975 to pay off the $300 loan. The US Department of Justice indicted former race car driver Scott Tucker on criminal charges for operating a $2 billion nationwide payday loan operation which routinely charged interest on loans for over 4.5 million people of 400 to 700% per year. The nation’s largest pay day loan company, Advance America, charged nearly 140,000 people in North Carolina annual percentage rates exceeding 450 percent until it was stopped by the state.

Debt collection

...... These are not just small companies but big names like Citigroup, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo; in fact, the Alliance for Just Society reported the big companies in debt collections have made nearly $100 million in contributions to federal candidates and parties since 2001 and another $280 million on federal lobbyists.

Citibank was sued twice by the federal CFPB over falsified documents and providing inaccurate information in debt collections and agreed to settle the case.


These businesses target families with incomes below $35,000 and people of color are three times more likely to receive abusive loans than whites. People with blemished credit are often passed over when seeking jobs.

There is some good news. Democrats created and passed into law the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is now beginning to gain some traction in monitoring and regulating these predatory practices. Bad news is that Republicans like Ted Cruz are trying to kill it and some Democrats are trying to hobble it. There are also good groups like the Center for Responsible Lending which provide excellent information on the abuses. But in the meantime making money off poor people remains a booming business.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/reverse-robin-hood-six-billion-dollar-businesses-preying-on-poor-people/



Oh, sorry Brother Buzz ....... just saw you had this. A bit more direction here with this one - I think it's totally doable.

US-Saudi Terror in Yemen Dwarfs ISIS Attacks in Europe

by William Boardman / March 26th, 2016

Saudi Arabia has been militarily involved and trying to manipulate political outcomes in Yemen for decades. The last time they did this in 2009, they lost militarily to the Houthis.

Hillary Mann Leverett on CNN, Early 2015

Why are two of the richest countries in the World, the United States and Saudi Arabia, engaged in unrelenting, aggressive war against one of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen?

The US-Saudi-led war on Yemen started on March 26, 2015, with the Saudi coalition’s aerial blitz, using both high-explosive and outlawed cluster bombs, against a population with no air force or other effective air defense. The US-supported year of carnage has killed more than 6,000 people (no one knows for sure), most of them civilians. The US-Saudi criminal intervention in the Yemeni civil war was supposed to be quick and efficient. From the start, the US has helped plan the attacks, provided intelligence, re-fueled attacking planes, and participated in the naval blockade (an act of war) that has pushed Yemen’s 26 million people to the brink of mass starvation. The American-Saudi genocidal war has continued without significant protest around the world – no “Yemeni Lives Matter” movement – and with almost no attention from any of those who will likely inherit this illegal war as the next commander in chief. None of the candidates, despite their tough talk about ISIS, seem to care that the Saudi military focus has shifted from fighting ISIS to killing Yemenis whose primary offense is to want to run their own country. Nobody in authority seems ready to address the possibility that one of the fundamental bad actors in the Middle East is our longstanding “ally” Saudi Arabia.

One reason the candidates can so easily ignore American war crimes in collusion with the Saudi coalition is that Yemen is not widely reported, much less analyzed. Yemen is not part of the official beltway agenda. The PBS program “Frontline” devoted an hour to Yemen in April 2015, mostly delivering the Saudi propaganda view that the Houthis are the bad guys, and omitting mention of the naval blockade. The New York Times apparently felt Yemen was not front page news till March 14, 2016, when it ran a disingenuous, seriously truncated piece that misrepresented the US role in Yemen, starting with the headline: “Quiet Support for Saudis Entangles U.S. in Yemen” (more about this below). Finding relevant, thoughtful commentary about Yemen from any presidential candidate is difficult to impossible. A sampling follows:

Hillary Clinton silent on war she helped make possible

Hillary Clinton’s present silence on the US-Saudi terror-bombing campaign that has killed some 3,000 Yemeni civilians since March 2015 distinguishes her from none of the other 2016 candidates. But Clinton does have the distinction of being the only candidate who contributed materially to the ability of Saudi Arabia to bomb indiscriminately, using American weapons and munitions, against which Yemen is virtually defenseless. As a hawkish Secretary of State, Clinton made arming Saudi Arabia a “top priority“, supporting more than $100 billion of dollars of arms sales (2010-2015), including F-15s and the bombs the Saudis have used to pummel Yemen for a year. Unlike the US or Canada, European countries have begun to question or block arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the horrendous and unrelenting Saudi record of human rights abuses. Code Pink and other human rights organizations say the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen “may amount to war crimes,” stopping short of naming possible war criminals. The Clinton Foundation has accepted more than $10 million from two of Yemen’s aggressors, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

What you don’t know about is less likely to disturb the status quo

Mainstream media coverage of Yemen continues to be spotty, limited, incomplete, and mostly incoherent. The New York Times article mentioned above is perhaps a sign of increased official attention, but it is no harbinger of completeness or coherence. The premise of the story is fundamentally dishonest, as expressed in the inside headline: “Quiet Support for Saudi Allies Entangles U.S. in a Bloody Conflict in Yemen.” What the story makes clear is that in March 2015, the Saudi ambassador pitched the White House on starting a new war in Yemen. The ambassador promised a quick campaign to re-install the Yemeni government that had fled to Saudi Arabia. The ambassador hyped his pitch with the standard exaggeration of Iranian involvement (which has actually been all but nil). Despite concern by “many” advisors that “the Saudi-led offensive would be long, bloody, and indecisive,” President Obama bought the pitch and authorized the Pentagon to support the Saudi-coalition’s attacks on Yemen. Somewhat contradictorily, the Times story also reports:

American intelligence officials had long thought that the Saudis overstated the extent of Iranian support for the Houthis, and that Iran had never seen its ties to the rebel group as more than a useful annoyance to the Saudis. But Mr. Obama’s aides believed that the Saudis saw a military campaign in Yemen as a tough message to Iran

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/us-saudi-terror-in-yemen-dwarfs-isis-attacks-in-europe/#more-62178

Yemen, its heritage and people are being purposefully and systematically destroyed as HRW and many others report horrendous war-crimes, the starvation of children and much of its population. And the world says nothing.

Is Hillary Clinton Running Away From Political Reality?

Runaway inequality is the key issue that connects so many of our problems.

By Les Leopold / AlterNet March 27, 2016

Team Hillary should be worried about the lopsided vote Sanders is receiving from young people of all colors. Not only is the vote one-sided, but so is the enthusiasm. Hillary's vulnerabilities with young people includes her perceived untrustworthiness, her vote for the Iraq war and her establishment politics. But it all gets wrapped up into what she calls Bernie's "single issue"—Wall Street.

Bernie and his supporters see Wall Street as synonymous with runaway inequality, which is the key issue that connects so many of our problems. As a result, young people are convinced we need a massive political revolution to do something about it. As Robert Reich recently put it, "Such a political revolution is the prerequisite for everything else – reversing climate change, overcoming structural racism, rebuilding the middle class, achieving equal opportunity and upward mobility for the poor, and avoiding cataclysmic war."

Hillary can't abide by this revolution because it requires a full-scale assault on Wall Street, which has funded her and her campaigns. So she tries to denigrate Sanders' stance by suggesting his focus on Wall Street-driven runaway inequality is merely a single issue, asking, "If we broke up the big banks tomorrow would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?"

Her line of attack not only is failing, but reveals why young people are so unenthusiastic about her: she's far too tied to Wall Street and the super-rich ever to break from them.

Why the Political Revolution Is So threatening to Hillary ..........

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/hillary-clinton-running-away-political-reality?akid=14113.44541.wQ5fld&rd=1&src=newsletter1053402&t=2

Iraq’s Torment: A Letter to George W. Bush

A message to the ex-president.

By Vijay Prashad / AlterNet March 21, 2016

Dear George W. Bush,

I will never forget this sequence of days – March 19-21, 2003. It was on these days that you decided to send in your armies to destroy an Iraq already on life-support thanks to the sanctions regime and to the massive bombardment of the Gulf War 1 pushed by your dad, and then the man who followed him - Big Bill Clinton. Your bombers and cruise missiles hit Baghdad two thousand times on March 21. Hospitals later said that the injured came at a rate of over a hundred an hour. Untold numbers of people died on that day, as Baghdad rattled from the Bab al-Moatham, with its great institutions of learning, to the quiet residential streets of al-Saydiya. The ground shook beneath the feet of the city’s people, as bombs fell from the sky like hail. In the three weeks of this bombing campaign, your aircraft dropped more cluster bombs than it did in six months of the bombing in Afghanistan. Testimony from such deeply committed people as Dr. Sa’ad al-Falluji of al-Hilla General Teaching Hospital and Dr. Ali ‘Abd al-Sayyid of the al-Nasiriyya General Hospital should have been aired on American television. Instead, we got insensitive anchors reveling in the joys of Shock and Awe.

Fragile Iraq was destroyed in 2003. I remember the Iraqi people who suffered the bombardment and then the occupation - the families in Baghdad, the farmers in rural Diyala, the old lefties hiding as they had already hidden in one or another friend's house. These are the Iraqi people, President Bush, that you claimed to speak for but did not care about. You should have talked to Yanar Mohammed, an architect, who founded the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Committee for the Defense of Iraqi Women’s Rights. She would have told you that the “US occupation turned the streets of Iraq into a ‘no-women zone.’” You should have talked to Falah Alwan, the leader of the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq. Alwan, who had worked clandestinely against the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein for years, said that your Occupation “devastated the fundamental basis of Iraqi industries and infrastructure.” But you didn’t. You broke the country and allowed it to be plundered.

There is spiritual decadence in the prosecution of that war, and in the toxicity that it has spawned inside the United States. Iraq was a courteous civilization, now so grievously injured by your injuries.

Yours etc.,

Vijay Prashad.


Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

The Foreign Policy of the 1%

Keynote at 2016 Saudi Arabia Summit organized by Code Pink in Washington DC.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

The War on Democracy in Latin America

By John Pilger and Edu Montesanti
Source: Counterpunch
March 25, 2016

Pilger produced War on Democracy set in Latin America and the US in 2006, when he traveled across Venezuela with the then-President Hugo Chávez. He talks about his motivations to produce that documentary. The film shows how serial US intervention, overt and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the Latin American region since the 1950s.

Evidencing the democratic character with profound social transformations in Venezuela, in this interview John Pilger tells of his experiences in the cradle of the Bolivarian Revolution. “Children were learning about history and the arts for the first time; Venezuela’s literacy programme was the most adventurous in the world.”

He also speaks of his experiences with then-President Chávez, interviewed by the filmmaker as well as several ex-CIA agents who took part in secret campaigns against democratic countries in the region. “I traveled with Hugo Chavez across Venezuela. I have never known a national leader so respected and held in such affection as Chavez. He was an extraordinary man, who never seemed to sleep, who was consumed by ideas. (…) He was also, incorruptible and tough – tough in the sense that he was brave.”

He also out his new production to be published in the near future, The Coming War between America and China.

Edu Montesanti: Thank you, John, for granting me this interview; I am so very honored by it. Would you comment please your new documentary The Coming War between America and China, to be published? What will it bring to us, what motivates you and what’s your aim?

John Pilger: The new film describes a dangerous and unnecessary cold war between the United States and China: the same cold war that’s directed at Russia. It examines President Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ – the shift of two thirds of American naval power to the Asia-Pacific by 2020 as a military response to the economic rise of China.

Edu Montesanti: What motivated you to produce your 2006 film, set in Latin America, The War on Democracy?

John Pilger: Modern era imperialism is a war on democracy. Genuine democracy is a threat to unfettered power and cannot be tolerated. Most of the governments the US has overthrown or attempted to overthrow since the end of World War two have been democracies; and Latin America has been its theme park of corrupt power and imposing its will. One US ‘success’ was the destruction of the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954.

Jacobo Arbenz was a democrat and modest reformer who didn’t believe the United Front Company should run his country and reduce the lives of his people to peonage. To Washington he represented what later said of Nicaragua under the sandinistas; democracy in Guatemala was ‘the threat of a good example’. This was intolerable to the US, and Arbenz was overthrown, personally humiliated and expelled from his own country.

That set the pattern for the entire continent.

Edu Montesanti: In the end of your documentary The War on Democracy, you said that “what happened in the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, has a special place in the struggle for freedom and democracy throughout Latin America and the world. The vowel is ‘never again’”.

Countries in Latin America with progressive governments have lived under the constant threat of the “color revolution”, a non-violent method to overthrow governments perfected by the American Gene Sharp, a North-American professor of Political Science. Given also the opposition pro-US victory in recent elections in Venezuela, Argentina and in a referendum in Bolivia, do you fear a new dominance of US interests in the region? What is your prospect for Latin America, and what does the Bolivarian Revolution mean for the region?

John Pilger: This is a dangerous time in Latin America. The gains made by the social democracies are more precarious than ever. The US used to refer to Latin America as its “farm”, having never accepted the independence of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and, of course, Cuba.

The US wants its “farm” back. There is much to lose. I read the other day that, according to the Bolivian Ministry of Health, 85,000 lives had been saved in Bolivia by Cuban doctors. It’s an achievement on that scale that is at risk now.

They need our voices and support as never before.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-war-on-democracy-in-latin-america/

LA Times Interviews Bernie Sanders

By Bernie Sanders

Source: LA Times

March 25, 2016

The following is a transcript of Bernie Sanders’ meeting with the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board on March 23, 2016.

Nicholas Goldberg (editor of the editorial pages): Thanks for doing this on such short notice. We’re excited because it means that the California primary, even though it comes so late in the cycle, is not meaningless.

Bernie Sanders: To me it is not meaningless.


Goldberg: Good. We have a lot of questions. We’re on the record. We are almost exclusively people from the opinion side of the paper. But we do have a person from the news pages as well. You are being recorded, so stuff could end up in the paper. If you want to go off the record, just tell us and that’s fine. We have a lot of people with a lot of questions, I think, so don’t let your answers go on too long just so we can get more of them in.

Sanders: OK.

Nick Goldberg: I’ll start with a touchy-feely question. I’m sure people will have more specific programmatic questions. But I wanted to ask if you could talk about how your ideas on poverty and wealth and income inequality and economic fairness were formed. It seems to be such a deep and integral part of your being. I wonder whether if it came from books, something you lived, something you witnessed?

Sanders: I think, Nick, that’s a good question. I’ve thought about that a lot. I can’t give you a definitive answer. But I think, to a significant degree, it resulted from the family life I grew up in. My father came to this country at the age of 17. He had no money, couldn’t speak English. Never made a whole lot of money. He was a paint salesman. We lived, for the first part of my life, in a three-and-a-half-room rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.

There was always a lot of tension in our house with regard to money. My mother, her dream was that she would own her own home. Not an apartment. She died young. She never achieved that dream. So there was always stress in the household over money. I learned that economics lesson at a very young age. I’ve studied economics since. But I would answer your question knowing what lack of money does to a family.

I’m not suggesting we were poor or hungry. That was not the case. But it had a major impact on my political thinking.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/la-times-interviews-bernie-sanders/
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