Friday, May 7, 2010
In honor to this tradition, we created a new video that puts the focus back where it belongs: On ending a war.
Help us get the word out about this costly, brutal war, share this video with your friends and family.
Investigators were able to track wannabe terrorist Faisal Shahzad through his anonymous, pre-paid cell phone exactly how, they won't say. But there was a tantalizing explanation posted and then quickly yanked from the website of WCBS TV. "In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport."
Jeremy Scahill, relying on a source in U.S. Special Operations, says those planes were likely RC-12s, equipped with a Guardrail Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) system. The planes are designed to pluck all kinds of communications from the air. But from the ground, they could easily be mistaken for an executive aircraft. The RC-12 is based on the Hawker-Beechcraft King Air B200 suit-carrier. And while earlier versions of the aircraft were covered in odd-looking antennas, the latest aircraft are far less conspicuous.
Variants of the planes are at the center of "Project Liberty," a crash project by the Air Force to send more airborne spies to Afghanistan. The first of an estimated 37 aircraft began flying there last December.
"It sucks up everything. We've got these things in Jalalabad [Afghanistan]. We routinely fly these things over Khandahar. When I say everything, I mean BlueTooth would be effected, even the wave length that PlayStation controllers are on. They suck up everything. That's the point," Scahill's source tells him.
By AMY SCHATZ
WASHINGTON—In a move that will stoke a battle over the future of the Internet, the federal government plans to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks.
The decision, by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is likely to trigger a vigorous lobbying battle, arraying big phone and cable companies and their allies on Capitol Hill against Silicon Valley giants and consumer advocates.
Breaking a deadlock within his agency, Mr. Genachowski is expected Thursday to outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He wants to adopt "net neutrality" rules that require Internet providers like Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to treat all traffic equally, and not to slow or block access to websites.
The decision has been eagerly awaited since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the FCC's authority over broadband lines, throwing into question Mr. Genachowski's proposal to set new rules for how Internet traffic is managed. The court ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers' Internet traffic.
In a nod to such concerns, the FCC said in a statement that Mr. Genachowski wouldn't apply the full brunt of existing phone regulations to Internet lines and that he would set "meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach."
Some senior Democratic lawmakers provided Mr. Genachowski with political cover for his decision Wednesday, suggesting they wouldn't be opposed to the FCC taking the re-regulation route towards net neutrality protections.
Ron Paul: "Bernie Sanders has sold out and sided with Chris Dodd to gut Audit the Fed in the Senate. His "compromise" is what the Administration and banking interests want: they'll allow the TARP and TALF to be audited, but no transparency of the FOMC, discount window operations or agreement with foreign central banks. We need to take action and stop this!"
Dear C4L Member,
Any time you find out Senator Chris Dodd is in support of something – watch out.
According to our sources on the Hill, Senator Bernie Sanders caved to pressure from the White House and Chris Dodd and stripped out the Paul-Grayson language from his Fed transparency amendment.
What Sanders is now proposing is essentially the Watt amendment we all opposed last year in the House. In addition, it supports just a one-time audit.
Talking Points Memo reports that, "In order to allay some of the White House's and the Fed's concerns, Sanders has agreed to limit the scope of what the Government Accountability Office would be allowed to audit–but his plan will still require thorough review of all the Fed's emergency lending, beginning December 1, 2007."
Call Senator Sanders' office at (202) 224-5141 and tell him how you feel about this last-minute sell out.
Click here for contact information for your senators and urge them to oppose the Sanders Sellout. Tell them to put back in the original Paul/Grayson language.
A vote could come even late tonight or early tomorrow. Let your senators know where you stand right away.
The American people deserve a real audit.
Here's how The Times presents it:
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers' near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.
To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.
"We're back to where we were 20 years ago," said Mr. Anderson, who will plow about one-third of his 3,000 acres of soybean fields this spring, more than he has in years. "We're trying to find out what works."
Farm experts say that such efforts could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.
Well, this turns out to not be a new problem, exactly. In fact, there were Round-up resistant weeks ten years ago, found in a soybean field. And the problem has spread since then. And The Times, which has never expressed much reluctance for any new crackpot scheme that also manages to benefit corporate America, ominously intones:
The superweeds could temper American agriculture's enthusiasm for some genetically modified crops. Soybeans, corn and cotton that are engineered to survive spraying with Roundup have become standard in American fields. However, if Roundup doesn't kill the weeds, farmers have little incentive to spend the extra money for the special seeds.
Roundup originally made by Monsanto but now also sold by others under the generic name glyphosate has been little short of a miracle chemical for farmers. It kills a broad spectrum of weeds, is easy and safe to work with, and breaks down quickly, reducing its environmental impact.
Note that reference to a miracle. The Times is sneaky that way. Note also, if you actually go and read the article, that the enterprising Times reporters, William Neuman and Andrew Pollock, somehow manage to make it through the entire article without a single mention of the fact that Roundup-resistant seeds have been hugely controversial. Nor do they mention Monsanto's interesting legal strategies to force farmers to stay on the Monsanto dole. They do, however, pass along some interesting and possibly scary statistics, depending on your moodroundup-resistant crops "account for about 90 percent of the soybeans and 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States."
They also blame it on the farmers, a pretty neat trick when you think about it:
by John Cole
This makes no sense to me:
The White House said it backed "significantly" raising the cap on damages faced by energy firms that pollute the environment, as it demands BP pays in full for the Gulf oil spill.
Officials also hit out at fresh complaints by Republicans that it had not acted quickly enough in the immediate aftermath of an explosion on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico last month, which triggered the huge slick.
Under a law introduced after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster in Alaska in 1989, oil companies are bound by law to pay for the full clean-up and containment costs of any oil seeping from their facilities after an accident.
But the legislation caps the damages for which the firm is liable at 75 million dollars unless the company is guilty of "gross negligence." Bills introduced in the House and the Senate would fix the cap at 10 billion dollars.
Here's a revolutionary idea- why don't we get rid of the limit altogether! If BP or Exxon cuts corners and makes a hash of things, and they cause 60 billion dollars worth of damage, they are on the hook for the whole 60 billion dollars! And if they can't pay for the whole bill, the company is liquidated, the shareholders get wiped out, and the company ceases to exist.
Why don't we give that a shot?
I wanted to call your attention to this excellent story from the Houston Chronicle describing some of the potential causes of the Deepwater Horizon spill. The short version appears to be that they were switching the drill chamber over from mud to water, which exposed what may be a potentially faulty concrete job, which brought gas to the surface. When that happened, and the blowout preventer was activated, the BOP failed, potentially because of leaky hydraulics.
As the Chron story explains, BP should not have been replacing the mud with water unless they were very sure of the cement job done the day before.
Experts say well-capping poses special hazards. One arose that day as crews were replacing the mud with seawater in pipes going from the ocean floor to the rig.
Deep gases exert astounding upward pressure on a well. "Drilling mud," a heavy fluid used to lubricate the drill and bring up bits and pieces of rock, is used as the main line of defense against the upward pressure, or a disastrous eruption of gas.
The mud was being displaced so the riser could be detached from the rig and the wellhead, and the well could be capped with a final cement plug. But seawater is much lighter than mud. The pressure the riser was applying to the well would have lessened by as much as 38 percent, experts said.
That could prove significant.
Investigators likely will be considering whether the drill hole and the casing pipe were secured properly with cement a day earlier.
"The big question is how confident were they in the casing cementing job," said Elmer "Bud" Danenberger, who recently retired as chief of offshore regulatory programs for the Minerals Management Service. "They shouldn't have begun this (riser) operation until they were confident in that."
Now, as the MMS recently found, problems with the cementing process have been one (but not necessarily the only) cause in a plurality of blowouts in recent years. Though most of those cementing-related blowouts occurred in far shallower waters than this well.
Cementing problems increased significantly during the current period as these problems were associated with 18 of the 39 blowouts, compared with 18 of the 70 blowouts with identified contributing factors during the previous study. During the current period, all but one of the blowouts associated with cementing problems occurred in wells with water depths less than 400 ft.
The Chron notes that HAL claimed it had tested its cement job in its "we worked to spec" statement from last week, but had not released the results of that test. A number of comments on oil boards suggest this is where a fight over liability between BP and HAL might break out–whether the tests showed the concrete was sufficient or not, and if there were doubts, whether the BP guy in charge should have called a halt to efforts to remove the rig.
In any case, for whatever reason, at the moment they were replacing the mud with seawater, gas and oil surged out of the hole, which is when the BOP should have–but failed to–prevent the blowout.
When the alarms go off "you shut it down," said Daniel Becnel, an attorney from Reserve, La., who has filed lawsuits on behalf of fishermen, oystermen and other Louisiana residents claiming damages from the spill. "They've got panic switches all over the place."
Those switches are supposed to activate a blowout preventer on the ocean floor, a huge and complex tower of valves and pipe crimpers designed to shut down a well in an emergency. It didn't work.
Although it had been tested beforehand, BP now says robot submarines have discovered at least one problem with the blowout preventer, though it is unclear whether it caused the malfunction.
"We have found that there are some leaks on the hydraulic controls," said Bob Fryar, senior vice president of BP's exploration and production operations in Angola, in southwestern Africa.
Is anyone besides me wondering why BP's Vice President in charge of exploration in Angola is the one discussing this malfunctioning blowout preventer off the coast of Louisiana? Because I am.