The End Of All Crossroads

Where the TAXI makes a stop, to ponder upon which road mayhap be true

Tag: USA

Goldman Sachs’ Global Coup D’etat

“Goldman made similar deals here in the United States, masking the true value of investments, then selling those worthless investments to customers while placing bets that those same investments would eventually fail.”

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012 16:07
By Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks

When the people of Greece saw their democratically elected Prime Minister George Papandreou forced out of office in November of 2011 and replaced by an unelected Conservative technocrat, Lucas Papademos, most were unaware of the bigger picture of what was happening all around them.

Similarly, most of us in the United States were equally as ignorant when, in 2008, despite the switchboards at the US Capitol collapsing under the volume of phone calls from constituents urging a “no” vote, our elected representatives voted “yes” at the behest of Bush’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen and jammed through the biggest bailout of Wall Street in our nation’s history.

But now, as the Bank of England, a key player in the ongoing Eurozone crisis, announces that former investment banker Mark Carney will be its new chief, we can’t afford to ignore what’s happening around the world.

Steadily – and stealthily – Goldman Sachs is carrying out a global coup d’etat.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos in his office at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, January 16, 2012. (Photo: Eirini Vourloumis / The New York Times)

There’s one tie that binds Lucas Papademos in Greece, Henry Paulsen in the United States, and Mark Carney in the U.K., and that’s Goldman Sachs. All were former bankers and executives at the Wall Street giant, all assumed prominent positions of power, and all played a hand after the global financial meltdown of 2007-08, thus making sure Goldman Sachs weathered the storm and made significant profits in the process.

But that’s just scratching the surface.

As Europe descends into an austerity-induced economic crisis, Goldman Sachs’s people are managing the demise of the continent. As the British newspaper The Independent reported earlier this year, the Conservative technocrats currently steering or who have steered post-crash fiscal policy in Greece, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, and now the UK, all hail from Goldman Sachs. In fact, the head of the European Central Bank itself, Mario Draghi, was the former managing director of Goldman Sachs International.

And here in the United States, after Treasury Secretary and former Goldman CEO Henry Paulsen did his job in 2008 securing Goldman’s multi-billion dollar bailout, he was replaced in the new Obama administration with Tim Geithner who worked very closely with Goldman Sachs as head of the New York Fed and made sure Goldman received more than $14 billion from the bailout of failed insurance giant AIG.

What’s happening here goes back more than a decade.

In 2001, Goldman Sachs secretly helped Greece hide billions of dollars through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also created a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. But, always looking ahead, Goldman protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail.

Ironically, the man who headed up the Central Bank of Greece while this deal was being arranged with Goldman was – drumroll please – Lucas Papademos.

Goldman made similar deals here in the United States, masking the true value of investments, then selling those worthless investments to customers while placing bets that those same investments would eventually fail. The most notorious example was the “Timberwolf” deal, which brought down an Australian hedge fund, and which Goldman Sachs banksters emailed each other about, bragging, “Boy, that Timberwolf was one shitty deal.”

This sort of behavior by Goldman helped inflate, and then eventually pop, the housing bubble in the United States. The shockwave then ran across the Atlantic, hitting Europe and turning Goldman’s debt-masking deal with Greece years earlier sour, thus deepening the crisis.

All of these antics should have brought about the demise of Goldman as well, but with their alumni in key policy positions on both sides of the Atlantic, Goldman not only survived, it flourished.

As the DailyKos sums up, “The normal scenario usually involves helping a nation hide a problem and sell its debt until the problem blows up into a bubble that bursts in a spectacular way…Goldman Sachs then puts their ‘man’ into a position of power to direct the bailouts so that Goldman gets all its money back and more, while the nation’s economy gets gutted.”

For years, tinfoil hat crazies who’ve bookmarked Glenn Beck’s websites and often appear as “experts” on Fox so-called News have warned us about a one-world government (here, here, and here). The latest threat, according to them, is Agenda 21 and the creation of a Soviet-style world authority that will confiscate private party everywhere, redistribute wealth to developing nations, and force us all to live by new global laws that sacrifice our national sovereignty. It’s totalitarian governments and not transnational corporations that we should be afraid of, they warn.

But when the tinfoil hat is removed, you can see that a sort of one-world government has already been established in a far more subtle form, through the rise of Goldman Sachs and their colleagues in the Wall Street elite.

A million questions arise when looking at what’s happening around the world. But many of these questions can be answered, once it’s acknowledged that Goldman Sachs alumni have executed a global coup d’etat.

Why are the working people of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy suffering under austerity and being asked to sacrifice their pensions, their wages, and their jobs when, after five years, it’s clear these policies are only making these nations’ debts even harder to pay off?

It’s because Goldman Sachs is sucking the last remaining wealth out of those nations to recoup whatever failed investments they made before the Crash.

Why have thousands of homeowners in the United States turned to suicide, domestic violence, and even mass murder when faced with home foreclosure, when a simple solution like re-writing mortgages, which FDR did successfully during the Great Depression, could put an end to the bloodshed and misery?

It’s because re-writing mortgages would force banks like Goldman Sachs to take a hit. And thanks to the game they’ve created, they actually make more money when a home they own is foreclosed on.

Why, despite mountains of evidence, have banksters at Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street institutions not been thrown in jail for defrauding customers, manipulating LIBOR interest rates, and throwing thousands of Americans out of their homes illegally in a massive robo-signing scandal?

It’s because we have a two-tiered justice system in which those in power, like Goldman Sachs executives, get a slap on the wrist when they steal $50 billion, but people like you and me go to jail for stealing a 7-11 Slurpee.

Now does it make sense why Wall Street was bailed out and Main Street was sold out?

In this post-crash world, where agents of Goldman Sachs have infiltrated key positions of power all around the world, we must all fundamentally re-understand how we view the global economy and just how much effect our democratic institutions have on this economy.

We no longer have an economy geared to benefit working people around the world; we have an economy that’s geared to exploit working people for Goldman Sachs’ profits. Trader Alessio Rastani told the BBC in September before Goldman’s Lucas Papademos was installed as Greece’s Prime Minister, “We don’t really care about having a fixed economy, having a fixed situation, our job is to make money from it…Personally, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for three years. I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession.” Rastani continued, “When the market crashes… if you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this.”

And as we’ve seen over the last decade, Goldman Sachs knows exactly what to do. They’ve had the right plan set-up, and it’s nothing short of a global coup d’etat.

As Rastani bluntly told the BBC, “This is not a time right now for wishful thinking that governments are going to sort things out. The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.”

 

SOURCE:
http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12996-goldman-sachs-global-coup-de-tat.html#13547977288201&action=collapse_widget&id=3478441

Chemical weapons reports in Syria, exactly as warned

“American soldiers likely will be on ground in Syria, facing not just Assad’s army, but the Iranians and the Russian armies. The Russians already have about 100,000 soldiers in Syria. There have already been 40,000 deaths in Syria. Are you ready for four million?”

By Douglas J. Hagmann

4 December 2012: And so it begins, or should I say, so it continues. CNN is now reporting that an unnamed U.S. intelligence official claims that Assad’s Syrian forces are “combining chemicals that would be used to make deadly sarin gas for use in weapons to attack rebel and civilian populations.”

As I wrote here before in various reports pertaining to Benghazi, this was the plan all along and you are seeing it play out, albeit a bit behind schedule as Obama, Clinton and their national security advisers had to coordinate the Benghazi cover-up that few admitted existed and even fewer would report. Information about the use of chemical weapons, specifically gas, was detailed in the second part of my interview with an intelligence insider:

“One aspect of the weapons plan was to set up a false flag operation to make it appear that Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Imagine the outcry from the civilized world to the news that Assad ‘gassed’ his own people. That would be an invitation to NATO and the West to openly intervene. Don’t forget about the timing of all of this. Two months before the elections, and time was running out. The job of taking out Assad was not yet complete. Such an event would quickly advance this agenda. By this time, however, being caught and placed in a rather unenviable position between Russia and the U.S., the Turkish consul general was in a ‘CYA, clean-up’ mode, assuring that none of the chemical weapons that might have still been in Libya were headed for Turkey.”

Now, because no one has stepped in to expose the big lie behind Benghazi, it is nearly certain that the U.S. and NATO will become involved. By not exposing the big lie, American soldiers likely will be on ground in Syria, facing not just Assad’s army, but the Iranians and the Russian armies. The Russians already have about 100,000 soldiers in Syria. There have already been 40,000 deaths in Syria. Are you ready for four million?

As I wrote before, the fuse for WW III has been lit. You are witnessing history playing out right before your very eyes. I mapped out their plan. Has anyone been paying attention?

SOURCE:
http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/archives/7215

Bay Area Storm Causes 2 Giant Sinkholes, Swallowing Roads

December 3, 2012 5:58 PM

LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) — Two giant sinkholes formed in separate Bay Area communities during the heavy rain from a powerful storm that passed through the Bay Area over the weekend.

In one instance, a giant sinkhole swallowed two lanes of a street in a residential neighborhood in Lafayette Sunday.

High water levels and a clogged storm drain in Lafayette Creek destroyed a portion of Mountain View Drive Sunday, creating a sinkhole where the road once was, Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk said.

Erosion of the road accelerated when the heavy current of the creek clogged the storm drain with large debris, including branches and a bureau, some time between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., Falk said.

A storm caused a 20-foot sinkhole to form along Mountain View Drive in Lafayette on December 2, 2012. (CBS)Water began to run over the top of the road, forcing its closure soon after. Around 3 p.m. Sunday, the road collapsed onto the storm drain and left a hole 80 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 15 feet deep, Falk said.

Utility agencies came out and shut off the gas and sewer lines that are below the road. East Bay Municipal Utilities District crews were still on scene at 2 p.m. Monday attempting to shut off the water line.

A handful of customers are still without water and one customer is without gas. PG&E has provided an alternate gas service for that one, Falk said.

 

Falk said the city’s plan is to convey the water temporarily across where the road was, and create a temporary storm drain that will handle all the water from whatever remaining storms there are this season.

Once that is completed, a team of civil engineers will create a plan to permanently fix the storm drain and road.

The collapse has left one home without access to its driveway but should not create a significant hardship to anyone in the area, Falk said.

The longest detour around the sinkhole is a block and a half, he said.

A second sinkhole opened up in the Santa Cruz mountains over the weekend as well.

 

SOURCE (videos also avaliable there):
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/12/03/bay-area-storm-causes-2-giant-sinkholes-swallowing-roads/

December brings record-high temperatures after November brings record highs without rainfall

Published on December 3, 2012 at 1:41 am
Last update on December 3, 2012 at 11:05 am
By Allie Kolechta

High temperatures in the Austin area have already broken records during December, after November also brought record high temperatures and, for the first time in decades, no rain in Austin for the entire month.

Austin saw no measurable rainfall in November, according to reports compiled on the Austin-Bergstrom Airport Area by the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters. According to the report, this is the first year Austin has had only trace amounts of rainfall in the month of November since 1970, more than four decades ago.

Record highs were set on Nov. 1 at 88 degrees and Nov. 3 at 87 degrees. High temperatures reached into the 80s on 15 days in November, and lows never reached freezing. The most days it has reached 80 degrees in the area in November was in 1931, with 17 days in the 80s.

Temperatures Saturday hit 83 degrees, breaking the daily record of 82 degrees set in 1954. The high reached 80 degrees Sunday, and is forecast to hit 83 degrees Monday. Previous December highs were 84 degrees Dec 2. 2007 and 86 degrees Dec. 3 1995.

As of the end of November, the Austin area and 81 percent of the state was in a drought classified as moderate or worse, the second of five classifications for drought severity, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 54 percent of the state was in a drought classified as severe or worse, 25 percent was classified as extreme or worse and 8 percent was classified as exceptional.

Printed on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 as: Record-high climate continues in winter

SOURCE:
http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2012/12/03/december-brings-record-high-temperatures-after-november-brings-record-highs-without

Police gun buyback program Sat. also offers shots … flu shots

“We’re asking folks to bring in any guns that they can’t store properly,” Dr. Hirsh said. “And by being stored properly, I mean unloaded and locked away from children.”

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Friday, November 30, 2012

By Linda Bock

WORCESTER — Flu shots instead of gunshots. People can get free flu shots Saturday and next Saturday, even if they don’t turn in a gun at the city’s annual Goods for Guns buyback program.

City residents, or residents of any other community, may bring their unwanted weapons, unloaded and wrapped in a bag, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to the Worcester Police headquarters in Lincoln Square, or from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 to the Worcester Division of Public Health, 25 Meade St.

Since the program’s inception in 2002, the Goods for Guns Program have collected 2,200 guns in exchange for gift certificates.

“Absolutely, positively, come one, come all,” said Deputy Police Chief Edward J. McGinn. “We’re not asking any names or questions.”

A year ago, 40 guns were turned in to police. Deputy Chief McGinn said guns turned in are destroyed.
The Goods for Guns program is similar to buyback programs throughout the country. In this case, people who anonymously turn in operable guns at the police station will be given a Wegman’s gift certificate with a value that depends on the type of gun. A long rifle earns a $25 gift certificate, a handgun nets a $50 gift certificate, and a semiautomatic weapon yields a $75 gift certificate.

The program is collaboration between the city police and public health departments, UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Injury Prevention and community partners.

Also involved is the office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. On days of the buyback program, people bringing guns directly from home to the police station will be granted amnesty if they are not properly licensed.

Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery & Trauma at UMass Memorial and the city’s acting public health commissioner, said the city’s successful program has become a model for other cities. He also believes the successful gun buyback program over the years is a contributing factor in the city having the lowest firearm fatality rate of any New England city.

“We’re asking folks to bring in any guns that they can’t store properly,” Dr. Hirsh said. “And by being stored properly, I mean unloaded and locked away from children.”

Dr. Hirsh started the first gun buyback program in Pittsburgh in 1994 because he suffered the loss of a fellow surgeon, John C. Wood II, who was shot and killed on his way to work one day outside the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in upper Manhattan on Nov. 2, 1981. His son, John C. Wood III, plans to participate this year.

LaNyia Johnson, sitting in a wheelchair, and his mother, Marcy Johnson of Worcester, attended a news conference at Worcester Police headquarters to offer their continuing support of the program. Mr. Johnson, 18, was just 13 when he was struck by a stray bullet while was sitting on a couch at his aunt’s house on Douglas Street. The bullet came through a door and struck him in the spine. He was paralyzed from the waist down.

“Dr. Hirsh and my mom are very cool,” Mr. Johnson said when asked how he became involved with the program.

His advice for other teens? “Find a goal in your life and chase it instead of being inside negative activities,” he said.

Terrance Reidy, chief of the gang unit for the district attorney’s office, prosecuted Mr. Johnson’s shooter, and said it was a tragedy that should have never have happened. Mr. Reidy said the way he looks at the program; over 2,000 potential tragedies were averted.

“There was the potential for over 2,000 people to be hurt,” Mr. Reidy said.

The day of reckoning for global total debt – total credit market debt up from $28 trillion in 2001 to $53 trillion in 2012. US consumer debt went up in last few months but largely because of giant amounts of student loan debt taken on.

You have to really question what passes for financial analysis these days. One financial show was discussing the recent increase in consumer debt as something positive. In the same breath this person also said that households increased savings. Now think about this statement. If you financed a $2,000 vacation on your credit card but increased savings by $500 did your balance sheet improve? Of course not. Let us not even dive into the fact that most of the recent consumer debt increase has come at the hands of student debt which is already in a massive bubble. We are simply repeating the same mistakes with a different soundtrack. We are trying to get out of a debt led crisis with more debt. The facts even show this and we have compiled some of the more troubling data by putting the entire debt market into perspective here. Is it really possible to solve a problem based on too much debt with more debt?
The total market of debt shows our addiction to borrowed money

We flat out have an addiction to borrowing. Total market debt is now up to an astonishing $53 trillion and continues to grow. Take a look at this frightening data:

In 2001 total credit market debt was up to $28 trillion. Today it is now well above $53 trillion and inching closer to slapping on another trillion dollars this year. If you look at Greece as a microcosm of the bigger issue, you realize they are treating a solvency issue as if it were a liquidity issue. Let us be absolutely clear that all of this debt will never be paid off. This warrants repeating:

“The $53 trillion in total credit market debt will never be fully repaid.”

In essence the total debt markets are growing even though the debt will never be paid off. Since most thinking people get this, the banking sector is leveraging central banks to basically print money since no person would lend money out knowing they would never be paid back. Do people really think we are going to pay off our $15 trillion national debt when our deficits look like this:

We’ve been running continuous budget deficits since the late 1970s. We had a brief respite when it came to having a surplus with the tech boom but that was blown out the window completely with the real estate mania. Contrary to what most will say, deficits do matter and massive deficits really matter.

Let us be abundantly clear that the total market debt is incredible. You now start having this challenging race where you are trying to avoid having your total debt surpass your annual GDP. The US has passed that mark and so have many other countries. The results in the long-run are never positive especially when people wise up and start asking for their money back. Since most don’t have the funds, they pay for it via inflation and a devaluation of their currencies. A few articles have circulated where Greece is trying to enforce stronger tax collections yet their system on collecting taxes is so corrupted that they have no way of achieving this without completely revamping the system.

If you think Europe is done just look at Portugal since they are next in the debt grinder queue:

To the debt increase in the US

The access to easy debt creates massive amounts of bubbles. We saw this in housing and now we are seeing it here in the US with the giant higher education bubble:

Keep in mind this is only a tiny part of the student debt market. This year we will surpass $1 trillion point for student loan debt. I believe this will be another crisis that will hit and many indebted students are already feeling this. Many are being sucked into paper mill for-profits that are essentially scam factories that raid the government backed student loan funds. They lobby Congress to make it easier for them to report horrific placement data and change the metric on default reporting so it doesn’t look as atrocious. Even with these softballs from our bought out politicians, the data is still horrible.

A debt bubble cannot be solved with more debt. That should be obvious just like saying savings increased but people went into more debt should cause you to pause. Yet few in the financial media ever take a timeout and many missed the tech bubble bust, the housing bubble bust, and gear up because they will miss the other debt bubble bust as well.

 

SOURCE:
http://www.mybudget360.com/day-of-reckoning-for-global-total-debt-total-credit-market-debt-consumer-debt-large-charge-of-household-debt-trillions/

Street Artist Behind Satirical NYPD ‘Drone’ Posters Arrested

“Essam Attia, 29, was hit with 56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny possession of stolen property and weapons possession after allegedly having an unloaded .22-caliber revolver under his bed at his Manhattan apartment when he was arrested early Wednesday.”

By Shayna Jacobs / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, November 30, 2012, 1:02 AM

A street artist whose mock public service ads around the city claimed the NYPD used spy drones to monitor citizens was busted after outing himself in a website interview, authorities and sources said.

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Essam Attia, 29, was hit with 56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny possession of stolen property and weapons possession after allegedly having an unloaded .22-caliber revolver under his bed at his Manhattan apartment when he was arrested early Wednesday.

Authorities said Attia planted dozens of ads in display cases around the city between Sept. 14 and 16. Many of them even used his artist signature, “ESSAM.”

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“The meaning of the drone campaign for me its really about creating a conversation,” Attia apparently said in an Animalnewyork.com interview, his face cast in shadows and his voice disguised to protect his identity.

 

In the interview, the self-described photographer and street artist — who boasts a military background — discussed his fears for a Big Brother-like police spying initiative.

 

Despite his efforts to remain anonymous, the video and other evidence led investigators in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the NYPD to identify the alleged prankster as a local artist, sources said.

 

Attia declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday night. He posted bail, which was set at $10,000 bond or $2,500 cash, and is due back in Manhattan Criminal Court on Dec. 3.

 

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SOURCE:
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/street-artist-mock-ads-claimed-nypd-spy-drones-busted-article-1.1210708#ixzz2E6n3AQeV

What’s all the fuss about fracking?

“Benzene, lead, mercury, toluene, uranium, methanol, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and xylene are among the 750+ “ingredients” used in the chemical mix often pumped into wells some 8,000 feet underground.”

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SPOILER: Listen to this, ’cause I’m not gonna repeat it often:

THIS IS WHAT YOUR FUCKING ILL-MINDED GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN INJECTING ALL OVER THE NATURAL UNDERGROUND FISSURES THOROUGH THE ENTIRE U.S., YOU FUCKED TWAT!!!! 

WAKE UP, STUPID SHEEPLE, WE’RE TALKIN’ ‘BOUT REAL SHIT HERE!!!

THIS IS FREAKIN’ SERIOUS!!!

Please, fellow Americans, *PLEASE* WAKE UP BEFORE ‘TIS BUT TOO LATE FOR THE ENTIRE PLANET!!!!

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By David Quilty –
set 17, 2012

The state of Vermont in the US has banned it. The countries of France and Bulgaria have banned it too. What is it about fracking that has so many people up in arms but energy companies chomping at the bit to get involved?

fogo-agua

Short for hydraulic fracturing, fracking is a method of getting at hard-to-reach natural gas reserves deep underground. Massive amounts of sand, water and toxic chemicals are injected into shale rock layers via wells, inducing fractures which then release the contained natural gas. The gas comes up to the surface of the well in the wastewater where it is separated and stored. While that’s the simple explanation of fracking, at first glance it doesn’t read as being all that bad – at least not until you get into the nitty-gritty of the operation.

Between one and eight million gallons of water is used for each frack… With each natural gas well capable of being fracked 18 times, it could require 144,000,000 gallons of clean water to complete a job.

First, let’s talk about the water needed for fracking. Depending on how deep the well is and how difficult the gas is to get to, between 1 and 8 million gallons of water is used for each frack. With each natural gas well capable of being fracked 18 times, it could require a whopping 144,000,000 gallons of clean water to complete a job. As of 2010, there were nearly 700,000 underground waste and injection wells in the U.S. and one would imagine that number is a lot higher as of this year. Billions of gallons of water are being used to frack in the U.S. alone, never mind around the globe.

So, now we have established that fracking uses a lot of water: no one disputes that fact. Where it gets tricky, and where proponents and opponents of the technique take sides, is when the subject of the chemicals used in the process comes up. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used for each frack and while the industry is not required to release information on what substances they are using, it is known that many of them are volatile organic compounds and human carcinogens supposedly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health. Benzene, lead, mercury, toluene, uranium, methanol, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and xylene are among the 750+ “ingredients” used in the chemical mix often pumped into wells some 8,000 feet underground.

Since 2005, over 30 trillion gallons of these toxic chemicals have been injected deep into the Earth because of natural gas drilling. These chemicals have been linked to groundwater pollution, flammable tap water, localized earthquakes, assorted cancers, air pollution, and elevated levels of ground-level ozone. There are thousands of documented cases of respiratory and neurological damage from the consumption of contaminated water by residents living near natural gas wells. Of course, proponents of the technique say these links are overblown at best and probably not even likely. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disagrees as do many scientists and researchers.

As far back as 1987 the EPA released a report to Congress which stated that fracking could pollute groundwater and as recently as 2011 they released another report noting possible groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyoming, where fracking had taken place. In addition, a 2012 University of Texas study listed water contamination and adverse health effects as problems associated with shale gas development. Who should we trust to look into claims of environmental damages from fracking, industry insiders or environmental agencies? While they certainly aren’t perfect, I’ll go with the agencies.

Lately, several high-profile celebrities and groups are speaking out against fracking. Artists Against Fracking, started by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, is trying to stop the fracking of the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York by meeting with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in order to convince him to ban it. Currently the group has more than 180 artists and well-known celebrities as members – including Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney – fighting to keep fracking out of the state. Actor Mark Ruffalo has been a staunch opponent of fracking for many years, and Matt Damon’s next film, ‘Promised Land’, brings an anti-fracking message to theatres later this year. Sometimes celebrities get laughed off for their real-world concerns, but if it helps get the message out, who are we to complain?

Is it worth potentially destroying billions of gallons of clean water, worldwide drinking supplies, and the very soil we use to grow the food necessary for our survival all in the name of cheap natural gas? Wouldn’t our efforts be better served by serious investments in solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable energy technologies? According to estimates from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has enough natural gas reserves to supply the country for the next 110 years. But what kind of planet would we be left with after 110 years of fracking?

SOURCE:
http://www.virgin.com/people-and-planet/blog/whats-all-the-fuss-about-fracking

Pentagon Fraud

“The contractor fraud provision would make the Department of Defense identify firms that received contracts after they were previously sanctioned for defrauding the Pentagon.”

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November 30, 2012

The Senate on Friday agreed to make the Pentagon compile annual reports on contracting fraud. The provision by Sen. Bernie Sanders was added to a Department of Defense authorization bill. Another Sanders amendment added to the bill today would make public a list of senior military officials who leave the government and land on the payrolls of defense contractors. “This country has a $16 trillion national debt. It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense continues to lose vast sums of taxpayer money because of fraud perpetrated by major defense contractors. This has got to stop,” Sanders said.

https://i1.wp.com/www.sanders.senate.gov/imo/media/image/pentagonfraud.jpg
The contractor fraud provision would make the Department of Defense identify firms that received contracts after they were previously sanctioned for defrauding the Pentagon.

Over the past decade, the Department of Defense paid more than $400 billion to contractors who had been previously sanctioned in cases involving $1 million or more in fraud, according to a 2011 Pentagon report. That study, the first of its kind, was required by a Sanders amendment to an earlier defense authorization bill.

Major contractors among the many examples of fraud cited in the report included:
Lockheed Martin. The nation’s largest defense contractor landed $200 billion in taxpayer-funded contracts even after paying $60.95 million in fraud judgments and settlements over the previous 10 years. In 2008, for example, Lockheed paid $10.5 million to settle charges that it submitted false invoices for a multi-billion dollar contract connected to the Titan IV space launch vehicle program. The very next year, Lockheed received $30.2 billion in Pentagon contracts.
The Boeing Company. It paid at least $644 million in fraud judgments and settlements while it received more than $21 billion in contracts in the last decade. In 2000, for example, Boeing agreed to pay $54 million to settle charges that it placed defective gears in more than 140 Chinook helicopters and then sold the helicopters to the Army.
Northrop Grumman Corp. Despite paying at least $410 million in fraud judgments and settlements, the nation’s No. 3 defense contractor was awarded more than $9 billion in taxpayer-funded contracts in the last decade. In 2005, Northrop Grumman paid $62 million to settle charges that it concealed basic inventory problems. Despite the serious charges, Northrop Grumman received $12.7 billion in contracts the next year, a 16 percent increase over the year before.

Under a separate Sanders amendment, the Pentagon would have to shed light on defense contractors that hire retiring Pentagon brass to help them land lucrative government contracts.

A recent study by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Brave New Foundation found that 70 percent of recently-retired three-and-four star generals left the Pentagon for employment by major defense contractors. At least two of the former generals continued to serve on Defense Department advisory panels. The report did not find that any generals were breaking rules, but said that ethics codes are “riddled with loopholes” and suggested increased public scrutiny could prevent conflicts of interest.

 

SOURCE:
http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=2DF44679-35D7-424E-BB35-6AD57DE44786

Clashes over Internet rules to mark Dubai meeting

“More than 900 proposed regulatory changes have been proposed, but details have not been made public. Broad consensus is needed to adopt any items — the first major review of the U.N.’s telecommunications protocols since 1988, well before the Internet age.”

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By BRIAN MURPHY
— Dec. 3 8:50 AM EST

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.N.’s top telecommunications overseer sought Monday to quell worries about greater Internet controls emerging from global talks in Dubai, but any attempts for major Web regulations will likely face stiff opposition from groups led by a high-powered U.S. delegation.

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The 11-day conference, seeking to update codes last reviewed when the Web was virtually unknown, highlights the fundamental shift from tightly managed telecommunications networks to the borderless sweep of the Internet.

Some at the Dubai conference, including a 123-member U.S. delegation with envoys from tech giants such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., worry that any new U.N. oversight could be used by nations such as China and Russia to justify further tightening of Web blocks and monitoring.

“Love the free and open Internet? Tell the world’s governments to keep it that way,” said a message on the main search page of Google.com with a link for comments directed to the Dubai conference, which opened Monday.

The agenda for the gathering of more than 1,900 participants from 193 nations covers possible new rules for a broad range of services such as the Internet, mobile roaming fees and satellite and fixed-line communications. Questions include how much sway the U.N. can exert over efforts such as battling cyber-crimes and expanding the Internet into developing nations.

The secretary-general of the U.N. International Telecommunications Union, Hamadoun Toure, said that accusations that the meeting could limit Web freedoms are “completely untrue” and predicted only “light-touch” regulations.

“Many countries will come to reaffirm their desire to see freedom of expression embedded in this conference,” he told reporters.

But the head of the American contingent, Ambassador Terry Kramer, said the U.S. would propose taking all Internet-related discussions off the table and concentrating on already regulated services such as phone networks.

“What we don’t want to do is bring in all the private networks, the Internet networks, the government networks, etc.,” he told The Associated Press. “That opens the door to censorship.”

The outcome of the Dubai gathering is far from certain.

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More than 900 proposed regulatory changes have been proposed, but details have not been made public. Broad consensus is needed to adopt any items — the first major review of the U.N.’s telecommunications protocols since 1988, well before the Internet age.

The gathering is also powerless to force nations to change their Internet policies, such as China’s notorious “Great Firewall” and widespread blackouts of political opposition sites in places including Iran and the Gulf Arab states. Last week, Syria’s Internet and telephone services disappeared for two days during some of the worst fighting in months to hit the capital, Damascus.

Kramer told reporters last week in Washington that all efforts should be made to avoid a “Balkanization” of the Internet in which each country would impose its own rules and standards that could disrupt the flow of commerce and information.

“That opens the door … to content censorship,” he said.

The International Trade Union Confederation, representing labor groups in more than 150 countries, claimed a bloc that includes China, Russia and several Middle East nations seeks to “pave the way for future restrictions on both Internet content or its users.”

“It is clear that some governments have an interest in changing the rules and regulations of the Internet,” the confederation said in statement Monday.

Another battle that will likely take place in Dubai is over European-backed suggestions to change the pay structure of the Web to force content providers — such as Google, Facebook Inc. and others — to kick in an extra fee to reach users across borders.

“Potentially, the content developers — they could be Googles, they could be universities — would end up being charged potentially to have traffic sent abroad,” said Kramer in Dubai. “Either way, you slow down Internet traffic and you actually exacerbate the digital divide, the income divide, because you have a lot of people who are accessing things for free.”

Advocates of the changes say the money raised could pay to expand broadband infrastructures in developing countries.

Toure said he hoped for a “landmark” accord on trying to bring broadband Internet to developing countries. “The Internet remains out of reach for two-thirds of world’s people,” said Toure, who is from Mali.

The U.N. telecommunications agency dates back to 1865, when the telegraph revolutionized the speed of information. Over the decades, it has expanded to include telephone, satellite and other advances in communications.

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