Thursday, June 17, 2010


Fueling War: Pentagon Still Buying Most of Its Oil and Gas from BP

by Jeremy Scahill

Last October, Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, sent out a memo to the heads of all federal agencies ordering them to ensure that no federal funds were awarded or obligated to the community organization ACORN. Orszag's memo was a response to bipartisan legislation known as the De-fund ACORN Act, passed after right-wing activist and wanna-be pimp James O'Keefe's propaganda film sparked mass-hysteria about the community organization.

ACORN was hardly a major US government contractor--the group had received just $53 million over the course of 15 years in federal dollars, most of it in the form of funding for low income housing initiatives. ACORN has never received any money from the Department of Defense, yet Undersecretary of Defense Shay Assad, the Pentagon's top contracting official, sent a memo to the commanders and directors of all branches of the military instructing them to cease all business with ACORN and to take "all necessary and appropriate" steps to prevent future contracts with the organization. All of this happened because ACORN was accused of some of its workers giving improper tax advice to a fake prostitute.

Contrast the Congressional response to ACORN's federal contracts with its response to BP, which does billions of dollars in business with the federal government, specifically the Pentagon. BP holds more than $2 billion in annual US defense contracts and continues to be the premiere provider of fuel to the world's largest consumer of oil and gas: the Pentagon. BP is responsible for the worst environmental crime in US history. It is responsible for the deaths of 11 oil rig workers. Attorney General Eric Holder said he is conducting both criminal and civil probes into BP's actions in the US Gulf.

And yet, there is no real, bi-partisan Congressional march to de-fund BP. The White House is reportedly considering the possibility of debarment of BP, but as of last week no formal inquiry had begun

New Documents, Employees Reveal BP's Alaska Oilfield Plagued by Major Safety Issues



Nearly 5,000 miles from the oil-spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, BP and its culture of cost-cutting are contributing to another environmental mess in the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's north shore, according to internal BP documents and more than a dozen employees interviewed over the past month. 

After a serious oil spill last November and other mishaps, the BP employees fingered a long list of safety issues that have not been adequately addressed, making the Prudhoe Bay oilfield vulnerable to a devastating accident that potentially could rival the havoc in the Gulf.

"The condition of the [Prudhoe Bay] field is a lot worse and in my opinion a lot more dangerous," said Marc Kovac, who has worked for BP on Alaska's North Slope for more than three decades. "We still have hundreds of miles of rotting pipe ready to break that needs to be replaced. We are totally unprepared for a large spill."

Kovac, a mechanic and welder who is the steward of the United Steelworkers union local 4959, said a lot of employees share his feelings, but "don't want to risk their jobs for speaking out." Kovac said he was willing to take the risk because BP has been slow to deal with the Prudhoe Bay problems and that "many lives are at stake."

Some of the employees, speaking anonymously, said BP follows an "operate to failure" attitude.

Kovac said that means BP Alaska avoids spending money on "upkeep" and instead runs the equipment until it breaks down.

Typical of these problems, the employees said, was an oil spill that was discovered on Nov. 29, 2009, when a BP Alaska employee performing a routine check discovered oil pouring out from a two-foot long gash on the bottom of a 25-year-old pipeline at BP's Lisburne facility.

"The spill was from an 18-inch three-phase common line carrying a mixture of crude oil, produced water, and natural gas," according to an incident report from the Alaska Department of Environment and Conservation's (ADEC) Division of Spill and Response.

BP Alaska's "preliminary estimate for the total volume of oily material released is 45,828 gallons (1,091 barrels)," the report said.

Marriage, kids, adulthood. But why?

By Mark Morford

Look, you can't have it both ways, uppity American culture.

Which is it? Either we're forcing kids these days to grow up far too quickly, exposing them to a raft of brutal and complex adult ideas and pressures they are ill equipped to handle, or, well, something possibly far, far worse: They never really grow the hell up at all.

Here's the thing: Endless are the studies and countless are the shrill advocacy groups, politicians and bewildered grandparents lamenting just how harshly kids are raised these days, how we're sexualizing them at younger and younger ages, front-loading them with far too much stress and hardship, and drowning them in the ugly realities of the world before they even hit puberty.

And it's all underscored by a terrifying social networking landscape where every aspect of young life is exposed, scrutinized, mocked and shamed until the poor kid is nothing but a quivering pile of sexual anxieties, drunken party photos on Facebook and text messaging gibberish.

Possible upshot: We're robbing our children of any vestiges of true innocence, never giving them a shot at stability or happiness before they're stamped with a Disney branding iron and force fed to the demons of K Street, violent videogames, porn, prescription meds and oral sex on the school bus field trip. Perilous!

Either that, or we're coddling them to death, letting them delay "real life" for years and sometimes forever by allowing to cruise from spoiled, overprotected child to mealy pseudo-adulthood with the help of overpampering Boomer parents who give them too much money and attention and not enough boundaries or backbone-building responsibility.

And why? Because gosh golly, life is hard and rent is expensive, and who needs that when your parents let you move back home after college and live there well into your 30s, so you never have to fend for yourself, can't cook and don't know how to drive a car because you spent so much damn time on Facebook and MySpace that you never grew a real personality?

Possible upshot #2: A whole generation stuck in eternal, insufferable adolescence, emotionally stunted and immature, never fully desiring (or requiring) to settle down, "get serious," get a life. Marriage? Kids? A career? Maybe someday. Maybe when I'm, you know, 40.

So, which is it? Are we eternally adolescent or prematurely old? Reluctant to grow the hell up, or taking on way too much, far too quickly? Can it be both? I think it might be both.

It's a question that comes to mind as I read the analysis over at the NYT of yet another wayward American trend, the much-discussed phenom/social shift of putting off until later -- often much, much later -- what previous generations barely put off much past high school graduation. Namely: Marriage, career, kids, buying a home, crushing debt, arguments over who gets the dog in the divorce.

AKA: real life. AKA: adulthood. AKA: the way it's always been done. Until now.

An Atomic Bomb will stop the Gulf Oil Leak, LOOK!

Limbaugh attacks school lunches, suggests hungry children should "dumpster dive"

From the June 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Then, a companion story from AOL News: "Record Number of US Kids Facing Summer of Hunger." "With the sc-rewl year ending in communities across America, more than 16 million children face a summer of hunger." Now, Michelle Obama told us they're all so fat and out of shape and overweight that a summer off from government eating might be just the ticket.

Could it be possible -- "while classes were in session, they relied on free or discount"--

This, of course, takes into no account that the parents, I guess, just can sit around and let their kids starve. Why if the kids don't do it, they're gonna starve -- if the schools don't do it, the kids are going to starve.

"The children caught in the gap will likely spend the next few months cadging leftovers from their neighbors, chowing down on cheap junk, lining up with their families at food banks that are already overmatched or simply learning to live with a constant headache, growling stomach and chronic fatigue. When school rolls around again in the fall, they will be less healthy and less ready to learn than their peers."

God, this is just -- we can't escape these people. We just can't escape them. They live in the utter deniability of basic human nature. They actually have it in their heads somehow that parents are so rotten that they will let their kids go hungry and starve, unless the schools take care of it

‘Politics of pot’ endangering state medical marijuana laws

medicalpot Exclusive: Politics of pot endangering state medical marijuana laws

Mark Zeitlin manages Harmony House, a medical marijuana dispensary in North Hollywood, California.

His product is popular and his services — providing medicinal marijuana — are in demand. But Mark has a problem. L.A. County prosecutors want to put him out of business.

"I have AIDS patients, cancer patients, people with all sorts of illness to treat, but the government is trying to shut me down," he told Raw Story.

One of 439 facilities ordered to be shuttered last week by the L.A. County prosecutors as part of a crackdown on medical marijuana, Zeitlin said the booming business of medicinal healing through cannabis is under siege.

"Unofficially I think there are over 1,200 dispensaries in L.A. County, now I think they're saying they want it down to like 150," he said.

"It's politics," he averred. "I think someone is trying to get elected, but there are people that need us and we're being threatened with a $2500-a-day fine and imprisonment. It's not constitutional."

Zeitlin's constitutional argument may be uncertain, but he may be right about the politics of pot.

Current L.A. County Prosecutor Steve Cooley is the Republican nominee for the statewide office of attorney general.  The crackdown by his office on medicinal marijuana dispensaries came shortly after he won the Republican primary for the state's attorney general job.

On the eve of a potentially tough election race in a Democratic state, the highly publicized get-tough stance on dispensaries garnered the veteran prosecutor  local, state and even national headlines.

But just as California led the way in the battle to loosen restrictions on the use of medicinal marijuana in 1996, workers in the medicinal marijuana business like Zeitlin are worried that the backlash in Los Angeles could be trend in a politically motivated government crackdown against the medical use of the natural herb.

"Do I think it's a trend? Yeah," he said.

A comprehensive review by Raw Story of recent steps taken by state and local governments to stall, limit or ban medical marijuana shows a pattern of tightening restrictions across the country in many of the states that have passed medical marijuana laws, a shift that comes after the Obama administration pledged the Justice Department would no longer pursue medical marijuana growers.

And in some case, like Los Angeles and New Jersey, the crackdown either precedes or comes after a tight election in a politically divided state.

BP: Eco-Terrorism Inc. They Should be Prosecuted, Tried and Convicted Under Eco-Terrorism Laws Passed by the Right Wing.

by mark karlin

For many years, as part of the right wing thuggish putsch in America -- and their great skills at "framing" public policy issues -- environmentalists trying to aggressively save our natural heritage and keep our lives free of industrial toxins have been increasingly classified -- with legal punishments -- as "environmental terrorists." This has included every one from people who sit in trees to try and prevent excessive and ruinous logging to Greenpeace activists merely painting messages against deep sea oil drilling or trying to prevent the killing of whales. 

In fact, BuzzFlash just a short time ago awarded our coveted "Wings of Justice Award" to 7 Greenpeace Activists who -- during the height of the BP oil Gulf catastrophe -- were arrested and threatened with being charged as eco-terrorists for painting an anti-deep sea drilling message on the side of an oil company ship docked in a Louisiana port. As we noted on May 25 of this year:

7 Greenpeace protestors were arrested in Louisiana for an act of civil disobedience: painting an offshore drilling message on the side of a ship that will assist Shell Oil in drilling in the Arctic.  They should have been given a parade and welcomed as heroes instead of being charged with "crimes" that could net them up to 7 years in prison.

The "Lafourche Parish sheriff's Office, Sgt. Lesley Hill Peters, suggested that the protesters could also face terrorism-related charges. The New Orleans Joint Terrorism Task Force 'is looking into the matter, she said."

The death of a social and economic order is when morality becomes inverted and language loses its meaning in an Orwellian fog.  So it is that those who try to save our planet and protect our health from toxic corporations are legally considered "ecological terrorists" when the real pin strip ecological terrorists from BP become the White House and Congress's partner in destroying our envrionment for profit.

BP was too cheap to use methods that might have prevented the Gulf disaster and it lied to the government about having any real semblance of a safety plan.  It has a long history of knowingly not taking adequate steps to prevent spills because BP figured that there was more profit in being fined than in the cost of preventing spills in the first place.

If this isn't eco-terrorism, what is?

Call the Politburo, We’re in Trouble

Entering the Soviet Era in America 
By Tom Engelhardt

Mark it on your calendar.  It seems we've finally entered the Soviet era in America.

You remember the Soviet Union, now almost 20 years in its grave.  But who gives it a second thought today?  Even in its glory years that "evil empire" was sometimes referred to as "the second superpower."  In 1991, after seven decades, it suddenly disintegrated and disappeared, leaving the United States -- the "sole superpower," even the "hyperpower," on planet Earth -- surprised but triumphant.

The USSR had been heading for the exits for quite a while, not that official Washington had a clue.  At the moment it happened, Soviet "experts" like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (then director of the CIA) still expected the Cold War to go on and on.  In Washington, eyes were trained on the might of the Soviet military, which the Soviet leadership had never stopped feeding, even as its sclerotic bureaucracy was rotting, its economy (which had ceased to grow in the late 1970s) was tanking, budget deficits were soaring, indebtedness to other countries was growing, and social welfare payments were eating into what funds remained.  Not even a vigorous, reformist leader like Mikhail Gorbachev could staunch the rot, especially when, in the late 1980s, the price of Russian oil fell drastically.

Looking back, the most distinctive feature of the last years of the Soviet Union may have been the way it continued to pour money into its military -- and its military adventure in Afghanistan -- when it was already going bankrupt and the society it had built was beginning to collapse around it.  In the end, its aging leaders made a devastating miscalculation.  They mistook military power for power on this planet.  Armed to the teeth and possessing a nuclear force capable of destroying the Earth many times over, the Soviets nonetheless remained the vastly poorer, weaker, and (except when it came to the arms race) far less technologically innovative of the two superpowers.

In December 1979, perhaps taking the bait of the Carter administration whose national security advisor was eager to see the Soviets bloodied by a "Vietnam" of their own, the Red Army invaded Afghanistan to support a weak communist government in Kabul.  When resistance in the countryside, led by Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas and backed by the other superpower, only grew, the Soviets sent in more troops, launched major offensives, called in air power, and fought on brutally and futilely for a decade until, in 1989, long after they had been whipped, they withdrew in defeat.

Gorbachev had dubbed Afghanistan "the bleeding wound," and when the wounded Red Army finally limped home, it was to a country that would soon cease to exist.  For the Soviet Union, Afghanistan had literally proven "the graveyard of empires."  If, at the end, its military remained standing, the empire didn't.  (And if you don't already find this description just a tad eerie, given the present moment in the U.S., you should.)

In Washington, the Bush administration -- G.H.W.'s, not G.W.'s -- declared victory and then left the much ballyhooed "peace dividend" in the nearest ditch.  Caught off guard by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington's consensus policymakers drew no meaningful lessons from it (just as they had drawn few that mattered from their Vietnam defeat 16 years earlier).

Quite the opposite, successive American administrations would blindly head down the very path that had led the Soviets to ruin.,_washington_drunk_on_war/#more

Hatch proposes drug testing for welfare, unemployment recipients

ksl.comKSL TV
SALT LAKE CITY -- Sen. Orrin Hatch wants recipients of welfare and unemployment benefits to undergo drug tests.
"We should not be giving cash to people who basically are going to go and blow it on drugs and not take care of their own children." - Sen. Orrin Hatch

"You know, we should not be giving cash to people who basically are going to go and blow it on drugs and not take care of their own children," Hatch said Wednesday.

His idea is to amend a $140 billion bill that extends tax breaks and social programs to include his idea. He says people who want to go on unemployment or welfare would have to pass a drug test before collecting.

Hatch says the idea is not to punish people, but to help them.

"It's to insure that the federal government is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, and that these individuals with substance abuse problems get the treatment they so desperately need to become more productive," Hatch said.

He also contends that his idea is something you commonly see in the private sector.

"A lot of employers do it. Why shouldn't we, when people are taking federal dollars in the form of cash?" Hatch said.

But may low-income advocates are not happy with Hatch's idea. They say it's unconstitutional to make people take a drug test in order to receive benefits, and it plays into an outdated prejudice.

Melissa Smith, with the Community Action Partnership of Utah, talks with KSL's Richard Piatt

"This all comes from the idea that there are all these drug addicts sitting around and sucking up welfare money," said Melissa Smith, with the Community Action Partnership of Utah.

Smith believes the idea is discriminatory as well.

"You're saying, 'You have a disease -- which is an addiction to drugs -- and so now you cannot receive these benefits, and now your children cannot receive these benefits,'" she explained.

Smith said the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it would be an unlawful search and seizure to require a drug test before receiving government money.

The actual Welfare program ended in 1996. Right now, Utah has more than 7,000 families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.

Teacher wants sex with students to say sorry for Japanese invasion

A history teacher has apparently offered to have sex with Chinese students at her college in Japan to apologise for her country's invasion of China in 1937, it is reported.

Anri Suzuki Anri Suzuki has offered to have sex with Chinese students

Anri Suzuki, 24, from Tokyo - is said to have a doctorate in Sino-Japanese history, but said she had specialised in studying the Japanese invasion of China and was ashamed by what her countrymen had done.

She told the Chinese media: "We have to respect the lessons of history and although we cannot obliterate it we can try and make recompense.

"I want to cure the wounds of China with my body, and I offer to do this by having sex with Chinese students in Japan."