Tagged: Obama

DOT sued over oil train copout rules

Advocacy groups said they filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation for not responding to calls to pull crude oil rail cars out of service.

The Department of Transportation in July published a 200-page proposal calling for the eventual elimination of older rail cars designated DOT 111 used to ship flammable liquids, “including most Bakken crude oil…”

DOT-111 rail cars carrying crude oil have been involved in a series of disastrous derailments, including the deadly incident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in 2013.

Earthjustice, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation for not responding to a petition filed in July calling for a ban on shipping Bakken crude using DOT-111 cars.

Matt Krogh, campaign director with ForestEthics, said DOT-111 cars are “tin cans on wheels.”

“We can’t run the risk of another disaster like Lac-Megantic,” Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman said in a statement Thursday.

U.S. regulators in January issued an advisory warning Bakken crude oil may be more prone to catch fire than other grades.

“Eventual” somehow doesn’t sound like “timely” or any other term that puts human life at a higher priority than profits from shipping oil.

Canada – with a committed Conservative government – has already banned these archaic tin cans for the carriage of Bakken crude. Obama, his DOT and obedient head, Anthony Foxx, seem to have a problem coming to the same conclusion.

Latest Snowden revelations piss off Turkey


“Do you think Snowden will ever go away?”

Turkey’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires, currently Washington’s most senior diplomat in Ankara, over a media report that the United States had spied on Turkey…

Here we go with 2 x stupid!

1. The Turkish government can’t summon the US ambassador because Republican do-nothings in Congress blocked that appointment. They would rather we have a dysfunctional government than to give in to the fact that Americans elected a non-white president.

2. The Democrat in the White House proves to be as dumb as his Republican predecessor – holding his hands over his eyes and hoping the NSA digital goon squad won’t be noticed by our “allies”. Somehow, hoping Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing will go away as if by magic.

German magazine Der Spiegel said in an article on its website on Sunday that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency had carried out “wide-scale spying against Turkey“, citing documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“For the reasons that the United States’ name was mentioned, and such claims were made … the charge d’affaires has been called to the foreign ministry and information has been received from him,” Arinc told reporters after the first meeting of Turkey’s new cabinet following a presidential election.

Der Spiegel said the U.S. intelligence services had also worked closely to support Ankara in its efforts to battle Kurdish militants, who waged a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish rights in the country’s southeast.

Yup. The United States cares so deeply about minority rights that we turn over whatever info our spies discover – to the heads of state who have dedicated their political careers to the suppression of minorities.

Then, the folks in the White House who rely on wishful thinking to manage foreign relations skip blithely past all the corruption previously made public by Edward Snowden and ignore the rest of the bad news waiting to come out. With half a brain, someone might have contacted the rest of our “friends” and let them know in advance how the paranoid policies of George W. Bush have been continued by “nice guy” Obama.

Obama orders review of militarizing local coppers

President Obama has ordered a review of the government’s decade-old policy of sending military equipment to local police departments across the country…

Federal officials began reconsidering civilian police department’s use of such equipment — including body armor, mine-resistant armored trucks, silencers and automatic rifles — following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Local police used military-style equipment during violent clashes with demonstrators protesting the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer…

During widespread coverage of the Ferguson unrest, the public has absorbed images of heavily armed police, snipers trained on protesters and tear gas plumes.

“This equipment flowed to local police forces because they were increasingly being asked to assist in counterterrorism. But displays of force in response to mostly peaceful demonstrations can be counterproductive,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

“It makes sense to take a look at whether military-style equipment is being acquired for the right purposes and whether there is proper training on when and how to deploy it,” Holder said…

As the country concludes its longest wartime period, the military has turned over thousands of surplus weapons and armored trucks to local police who often trained alongside the military.

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union in June said police agencies had become “excessively militarized,” with officers using training and equipment designed for the battlefield on city streets. The report found the amount of goods transferred through the military surplus program rose in value from $1 million in 1990 to nearly $450 million in 2013.

RTFA for details, examples.

IMHO, this crap follows logically from the War on Drugs becoming a War on All Citizens – especially as reactionaries and bigots get wedgies over ordinary folks moving in a progressive direction. From broad acceptance of civil rights for everyone including gays and lesbians – to the wave of decriminalization heading to a crest over the sillyass prohibition of cannabis.

The bottom of the lumpen that didn’t qualify for civilian jobs – who therefore joined the military – who still don’t qualify for a lifetime gig after being demobbed, jump at the chance to become some kind of copper. Maybe they fit in because the PD chiefs are racist. Maybe they don’t even qualify for that level of policing and sink down to lower economic levels, border cop or even TSA. But, whatever road, they’re already accustomed to treating every civilian as a furriner who isn’t white Christian enough to be a proper American.

Thanks, Mike

Reporter calls Obama “greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”


Respect for Freedom of the Press? Same as it ever was.

The New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jail over his refusal to reveal a source and testify against a former CIA agent accused of leaking secrets, has called President Barack Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”.

Speaking to his colleague Maureen Dowd, Risen accused the president of aggressively pursuing journalists, including himself, who report sensitive stories that reflect poorly on the US government…

Risen faces jail over his reporting of a botched intelligence operation that ended up spilling nuclear secrets to Iran. The Justice Department has long been seeking to force him to testify and name the confidential source of the account, which is contained in his 2006 book State of War…

The pursuit of Risen began under the administration of President George W Bush. The Justice Department tried to prosecute him under the Espionage Act for his 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning scoop about the illegal wiretapping of American citizens after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It also targeted him for the revelations in State of War…

Risen is furious at statements from the likes of Obama and the attorney general, Eric Holder, about supporting press freedom – including condemnation of the police in Ferguson, Missouri, for this week arresting journalists reporting on riots there.

Obama and Holder said journalists should not be arrested or harassed for doing their jobs and covering “a story that needs to be told”. In May, Holder said of the Sterling case: “No reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Risen, however, could be behind bars within weeks…

“It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistleblowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

I’m certain you’re all keeping up-to-date on this case in the mainstream media and on your local network TV stations, eh?

Israel squandered any chance for peace, years ago, for a phony “victory”


Never forget!Michael Longari/AFP/Getty Images

Alongside the toll of death and broken lives, perhaps the saddest reality of the latest Gaza war, like the Gaza wars before it, is how easy it would have been to avoid. For the last eight years, Israel and the U.S. had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza. Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza…

Let’s begin in June 2006, when the University of Maryland’s Jerome Segal, founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby, carried a high-level private message from Gaza to Washington. Segal had just returned from a meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, whose Hamas faction had recently won free and fair elections and taken power in Gaza. Hamas was seeking a unity government with the rival Fatah faction overseen by Mahmoud Abbas.

…By voting for Hamas in 2006, Palestinians signaled their weariness with Fatah’s corruption and its failure to deliver an independent state, or even a long-promised safe passage corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. In the wake of its surprise election victory, Hamas was in turn showing signs of edging toward the political center, despite its militant history.

Nevertheless, Israel and “the Quartet” — the U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the U.N. — refused to recognize the outcome of the democratic elections, labeling Hamas a “terrorist organization,” which sought Israel’s destruction. The administration of George W. Bush strongly pressured Abbas not to join a unity government. The Quartet suspended economic aid and Israel severely curtailed the flow of goods in and out of Gaza…

These punitive measures were to remain in place until Hamas renounced violence (including stopping its cross-border rocket attacks), recognized Israel, and accepted all previous agreements based on the Oslo peace accords.

Which brings us back to that Washington-bound letter from Gaza. In the wake of the elections, Hamas was no longer the militant opposition to a ruling Fatah party, but a legally elected government operating under siege. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, suddenly responsible for governing and facing a mounting economic, humanitarian, and political catastrophe, sought to defuse the situation. In his June 2006 hand-written note to President Bush that Jerome Segal delivered to the State Department and the National Security Council, he requested a direct dialogue with the administration…

The Bush team, however, chose to ignore Hamas’s overture, opting, with Israel, for violence and chaos. The Obama administration would follow the same path years later. In this way, a pattern of U.S. acquiescence in ongoing, ever worsening humanitarian disasters in Hamas-run Gaza was established. Direct American political and material support for the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Gaza’s civilians, including hundreds of children, became Washington’s de facto policy.

RTFA. It’s long, detailed – and to my mind and memory – quite accurate. Unfortunately, accuracy, truth and honesty have nothing to do with the US relationship with Israel and the prisoner nation of Palestine.

The article details time after time the chances for peace deliberately sabotaged by the US/Israel military-industrial complex. Most of our politicians couldn’t care less. American voters are wholly ignorant of history; so, there is little or no pressure from ordinary voters.

Think about it – you may be just one of the small number who cares enough to try to make a change.

Thanks, Mike

U.S. refuses protection for endangered wolverines

U.S. wildlife managers…have denied federal protections for rare wolverines, outraging conservationists but pleasing Western states that opposed adding the reclusive but feisty member of the weasel family to the endangered and threatened species list.

Last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed applying Endangered Species Act safeguards for the estimated 300 wolverines left in the Lower 48 states, most of which inhabit the high country of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The service had said global warming was reducing mountain snows the animals use to dig dens and store food.

But on Tuesday federal wildlife managers said there was “insufficient evidence” that climate change would harm wolverines, which resemble small bears with bushy tails and which are known for their ferocious defense of their young…

The decision was welcomed in states such as Montana, which will determine next year whether to reinstate a limited wolverine trapping season that was suspended in 2012 after a lawsuit by conservationists.

Listing would have banned trapping of wolverines, which are prized for their fur, and imposed restrictions on snowmobiling and other winter recreation in areas inhabited by the solitary creatures.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said Tuesday’s decision was part of a disturbing trend by the Obama administration of managing imperiled wildlife based on pressure by states and industry instead of science.

President Obama continues the balancing act between issues which he thinks will gain more votes for Democrats – versus those where he sells out the nation in general.

He relies on Americans voting for the lesser of two evils. I wouldn’t have said that in 2008 – though by 2012 it was clear the reality of Obama’s second term was mostly going to be one more quasi-liberal Dem producing as little change as possible. Which will turn the 2016 election over to the right-wing and the Republican Party.

You can see the writing on that wall in the grafitti spray-painted by Hillary. She’s already moving to the right to satisfy the militarists and idjit voters who can’t pass up another war to protect Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Oil Patch Boys.

“Don’t trust them pot-smoking kids. “Don’t trust Hispanics or Blacks of any age. “Turn the cops loose. “Turn the Israelis loose.”

Polish up the old “My country, right or wrong” buttons. Even though Right – means it’s wrong.

Americans hate lobbyists’ power over politicians — Obama’s response? More power for lobbyists

President Barack Obama is loosening restrictions on lobbyists who want to serve on federal advisory boards…

Obama came to office pledging to curtail the sway of lobbyists and banned lobbyists from serving on such panels, which guide government policy on a range of topics ranging from cancer to towing safety.

The president said he was doing so because the voices of paid representatives of interest groups were drowning out the views of ordinary citizens.

But many lobbyists felt they were being unfairly tarred by Obama’s campaign to keep them out of public service. A lawsuit challenging the ban was initially dismissed, but a District of Columbia Circuit Court in January reinstated it.

A spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration was revising its earlier guidance on lobbyists serving on federal advisory panels to clarify that lobbyists may now serve on such panels when they are representing the views of a particular group…

The head of a lobbying industry trade group called the change a positive step that will allow the government to draw on the expertise of people whose experience can be beneficial in making policy.

“We’re basically going back to allowing federally registered lobbyists to participate in these committees,” said Monte Ward, the president of the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

Every creep, every former member of Congress who’s waiting in line to pickup their payoff for services rendered is smiling in their K Street digs.

Over 1,000 “federal advisory committees” are registered as lobbyists in Washington, DC, right now. What percentage do you think represent people like you and me?

Stodgiest outfit on Wall Street agrees inequality is causing slower growth

Income-inequality

Is income inequality holding back the United States economy? A new report argues that it is, that an unequal distribution in incomes is making it harder for the nation to recover from the recession and achieve the kind of growth that was commonplace in decades past.

The report is interesting not because it offers some novel analytical approach or crunches previously unknown data. Rather, it has to do with who produced it, which says a lot about how the discussion over inequality is evolving.

Economists at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services are the authors of the straightforwardly titled “How Increasing Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, and Possible Ways to Change the Tide.” The fact that S.&P., an apolitical organization that aims to produce reliable research for bond investors and others, is raising alarms about the risks that emerge from income inequality is a small but important sign of how a debate that has been largely confined to the academic world and left-of-center political circles is becoming more mainstream…

Because the affluent tend to save more of what they earn rather than spend it, as more and more of the nation’s income goes to people at the top income brackets, there isn’t enough demand for goods and services to maintain strong growth, and attempts to bridge that gap with debt feed a boom-bust cycle of crises, the report argues. High inequality can feed on itself, as the wealthy use their resources to influence the political system toward policies that help maintain that advantage, like low tax rates on high incomes and low estate taxes, and underinvestment in education and infrastructure…

The report itself does not break any major new analytical or empirical ground. It spends many pages summarizing the findings of various academic and government economists who have studied inequality and its discontents, and stops short of recommending any radical policy changes favored by the likes of Thomas Piketty (who is among those cited).

And the S.&P. researchers are relatively limited in their policy prescriptions, avoiding much discussion of politically explosive debates over marginal tax rates and the scale of the social welfare system. They instead emphasize the usefulness of investing more heavily in education…

Anyone who wants to explain why the United States economy is evolving the way it is needs to at least wrestle with the implications of a more unequal society for the economy as a whole.

Overdue. Response to the problem from the talking heads in the White House has been limited to slogans and talking points. Response from our Do-Nothing-Congress has been to do nothing.

Thanks, Mike

Just another day in Gaza: Israel shells people waiting in line for food – Netanyahu says OK to murder civilians – Obama says nothing

Guernica
Click to enlarge – GUERNICA – after Nazis bombed that village during the Spanish Civil War

At least 10 people have been killed in a strike near a UN-run school housing Palestinians displaced by the Gaza conflict, medics say. The attack hit the entrance of the facility in Rafah, where thousands of Palestinians are said to be sheltering…

The latest exchanges came after Israel’s military said that an officer it feared had been captured had now been confirmed dead. Hadar Goldin went missing on Friday near Rafah.

Confirmation of 2nd Lt Goldin’s death means 66 Israelis have now died in the fighting, all but two of them soldiers…

Palestinian death toll [this morning] now over 1700 – a third of them women and children.

The Israeli shelling of the Jabaliya UN shelter last week, which killed 16 people, drew widespread international condemnation.

In the latest attack, eyewitnesses said a missile struck as people queued for food…At least 30 people were also hurt, Palestinian officials said. Images showed injured children being carried away.

Robert Turner, director of operations for the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said: “The locations of all of these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times. They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea…”

I think we all get the idea. Israel’s military, Israel’s government, doesn’t care how many innocents they kill.

Chris Gunness, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told the BBC that a “health disaster of widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding in Gaza, with medical services on the verge of collapse”.

He said: “Critical supplies of medicines and disposables are almost depleted and the damage and destruction of power supplies has left hospitals dependent on unreliable generators.”

Yes, there is a lot more in the article from Israel’s government. Don’t worry – you won’t miss any of it.

You will hear that side repeated over and over, again, on all the Sunday talk shows and in the obedient American press. Flunkies from the United States government will say that the billion$ in military weapons provided Israel every year are only there for defense.

Not to keep a captive nation in subjugation.