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Saturday, March 31, 2012

US: California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation

© sanonofresafety.org
California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation by George Washington

The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California's seaweed tested over 500% higher for radioactive  iodine-131 than anywhere else in the U.S. and Canada:
Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3
Anaheim is where Disneyland is located.
EneNews summarizes the data:
Corona Del Mar (Highest in Southern California)
  • 2.5 Bq/gdwt (gram dry weight)= 2,500 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
Santa Cruz (Highest in Central California)
  • 2.0 Bq/gdwt = 2,000 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
Simon Fraser University in Canada also tested North American seaweed after Fukushima:
  • “In samples of dehydrated seaweed taken on March 15 near the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, the count was zero; on March 22 it was 310 Bq per kilogram; and by March 28 it was 380 Bq/kg.” -Vancouver Sun
  • Seaweed in Seattle also tested positive for iodine-131; levels were not reported -KIRO
  • No results after March 28 were reported
In addition, radioactive debris is starting to wash up on the Pacific Coast. And because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials instead of disposing of them, .
Of course, the government is doing everything it can to help citizens cover up what’s occurring. We pointed out in January:
Instead of doing much to try to protect their citizens from Fukushima, Japan, the U.S. and the EU all just raised the radiation levels they deem “safe”.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that high-level friends in the State Department told him that Hillary Clinton signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite that food not being tested for radioactive materials [see this].

And the Department of Energy is trying to replace the scientifically accepted model of the dangers of low dose radiation based on voodoo science. Specifically, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs used a mutant line of human cells in a petri dish which was able to repair damage from low doses of radiation, and extrapolated to the unsupported conclusion that everyone is immune to low doses of radiation….
Indeed:
American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels.)

So – as in Japan – radiation is usually discovered by citizens and the handful of research scientists with funding to check, and not the government. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

The Japanese government’s entire strategy from day one has been to cover up the severity of the Fukushima accident. This has likely led to unnecessary, additional deaths.

Indeed, the core problem is that all of the world’s nuclear agencies are wholly captured by the nuclear industry … as are virtually all of the supposedly independent health agencies.

So the failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.
And it’s not just radiation from Japan.  An effort by the Southern California Edison power company to secretly ramp up production to avoid public disclosure may have led to a leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

And see these articles on California radiation exposure courtesy of EneNews:

America’s Problem, in a Nutshell

© n/a
Mar. 30, 2012: America’s Problem, in a Nutshell by Mark Stopa

I recently had a disturbing, eye-opening telephone conversation with an attorney for the plaintiffs.  Below is my attempt to paraphrase part of our conversation (which I initiated in an attempt to discuss the resolution of foreclosure cases on a widespread basis), and to use that conversation to show exactly what’s wrong with America.  Follow along with me.

Stopa:  Most of my clients aren’t trying to just “delay” or “live for free,” but want to find a reasonable business solution as an alternative to foreclosure.  Will your clients give loan modifications or deficiency waivers?

Plaintiff’s atty:  Some of my clients will make business decisions to settle cases.  Many will give deficiency waivers, some will give loan modifications.  The private lenders are more apt to give loan modifications.
Stopa:  What do you mean by “private lender”?

Plaintiff’s atty:  Not a bank.

Stopa:  How can I distinguish, on a global, widespread basis, which banks will give deficiency waivers and which will not?

Plaintiff’s atty:  If Fannie and Freddie aren’t involved, then most of my clients will give deficiency waivers.  But if it’s Fannie or Freddie, then deficiency waivers are rare.  I’ve gotten some, but it’s much more difficult.
Wow.  Isn’t that wonderful, folks?  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t give loan modifications, and they won’t give deficiency waivers, either.

Bear in mind, of course, that Fannie and Freddie are government-sponsored enterprises.  The purpose of their existence, according to Fannie’s own website, is to “serve American families and the housing market.”  Yet it’s these government entities which simply refuse to negotiate with homeowners.

When I lamented this to the attorney with whom I was speaking, his response was “they can’t waive deficiencies when it’s taxpayer money.”  Riiight.  But it’s okay to insist on collecting deficiencies from those very taxpayers?  And to pay bank lawyers to pursue those deficiencies when most of those homeowners aren’t collectible anyway?

Whose objectives are being served here, exactly?  If the point of Fannie is to “serve American families and the housing market,” how, exactly does refusing to negotiate on deficiencies and refusing to give loan modifications accomplish that goal?

When homeowners can’t get a loan modification and can’t get a deficiency waiver, they have no choice but to keep fighting their foreclosure case with an attorney like myself, file bankruptcy, or both.  Instead of criticizing foreclosure defense attorneys or those homeowners trying to survive, why isn’t anyone attacking the root of the problem?  To wit, it’s absolutely appalling to me that we’re in an election year and nobody is talking about how the U.S. Government is incentivizing foreclosures on a massive, widespread basis.  Don’t bother trying to learn about this on the news – our media isn’t talking about this.  Nobody is.

Sometimes, I think the government is just as much to blame as the banks themselves.  Between the over-involvement of Fannie and Freddie, and the government insuring so many mortgages that all the banks want to do is get a final judgment and then submit an insurance claim (for the value of that judgment less the appraised value of the house) to the government, it’s no wonder the economy can’t right itself.

If you think that sounds nuts, go look at the foreclosure auction sales.  Follow the money.
www.pinellas.realforeclose.comwww.sarasota.realforeclose.comwww.broward.realforeclose.com.  The constant, pervasive theme when you watch these sales is that the plaintiffs routinely bid up to their judgment amount, even when that is far in excess of the property’s current value.  Why, you ask?  Why would plaintiffs bid far more than the properties are worth (instead of allowing a third-party to pay and take title)?

Remember, if a bank takes title at the sale, it has to pay for maintenance, property taxes, and, when it sells, a real estate commission.  Why do all of that rather than let a third-party pay at the foreclosure sale?  I’m convinced it’s because banks want to take title, get an artificially low appraisal, then submit an insurance claim to FHA for the difference between the judgment amount and the low appraisal amount.  Remember, our government has federally insured most of these mortgages, so why wouldn’t a bank do that?  Foreclose, get a judgment, and get paid in full by the U.S. Government.

This is the problem, folks.  There was no downside for these banks when they gave out these loans during the real estate boom.  If the borrower pays the loan, the bank collects interest on a performing note.  If the borrower doesn’t pay, then the U.S. government pays back the bank, in full (to include default interest at 18% and all of the other bogus charges the banks build into a foreclosure judgment).  The system is so perverse, with such obvious incentives to foreclose, is it that surprising to see the banks do what they do?  It’s like asking who is more to blame, the 23-year old who won’t get a job and is living with his parents and always high on drugs, or the parents who keep giving him the money to buy those drugs?

The banks may be on drugs, but “our” government keeps giving them the money for the drugs, hand over fist.

Mark Stopa

www.stayinmyhome.com


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Friday, March 30, 2012

US: 20 Signs That We Are Witnessing The Complete Collapse Of Common Sense In America

© The Economic Collapse Blog
Mar. 28, 2012: 20 Signs That We Are Witnessing The Complete Collapse Of Common Sense In America - The Economic Collapse Blog

 What do you do when an entire nation begins to lose the capacity to think rationally? Many Americans spend a great deal of time criticizing the government, and there is certainly a lot to complain about, but it is not just the government that is the problem. All over America, people appear to be going insane. It is almost as if we have been cursed with stupidity. Sadly, this applies from the very top of our society all the way down to the very bottom. A lot of us find ourselves asking the following question much more frequently these days: "How could they be so stupid?"

Unfortunately, we are witnessing a complete collapse of common sense all over America. Many people seem to believe that if we could just get Obama out of office or if we could just reform our economic system that our problems as a nation would be solved, but that is simply not true. Our problems run much deeper than that. The societal decay that is plaguing our country is very deep and it is everywhere. We are a nation that is full of people that do not care about others and that just want to do what is right in their own eyes.

We hold ourselves out to the rest of the world as "the greatest nation on earth" and an example that everyone else should follow, and yet our own house is rotting all around us. The words "crazy", "insane" and "deluded" are not nearly strong enough to describe our frame of mind as a country. America has become a sad, delusional old man that can't even think straight anymore. The evidence of our mental illness is everywhere.

The following are 20 signs that we are witnessing the complete collapse of common sense in America....

#1 According to Wired Magazine, FBI agents have been taught that they can "bend or suspend the law" as they pursue criminals and terrorists. But when they break the law they become criminals themselves.

#2 A TSA manager (not just an agent) at Dulles International Airport was recently discovered to be running a prostitution ring out of a local hotel room. TSA agents have been charged with crime after crime after crime and yet we continue to allow them to be in charge of airport security.

#3
CBS News is reporting that approximately 200 pieces of luggage a day are being stolen by employees at John F. Kennedy International Airport and authorities still have not been able to stop it.

#4 Visitors to the United States must now pay $14 to complete an online form that asks them a series of really bizarre questions. For example, one of the questions asks visitors to the U.S. if they ever "collaborated with the Nazis".

#5 The U.S. military is buying huge amounts of electronic parts from China (mistake number one) and a government investigation has uncovered the fact that a large percentage of these parts are counterfeit. Yet the U.S.military continues to buy huge amounts of electronic parts from China (mistake number two).

#6 A high school senior in Indiana was recently expelled from school for cussing on Twitter.

#7 Police in Chicago apparently believe that our "First Amendment rights can be terminated" at their discretion.

#8 Americans are becoming very cruel to one another. This is especially true when it comes to the weak and the elderly. For example, two "caregivers" down in Georgia were recently charged with waterboarding an 89-year-old woman that had been entrusted to their care....
Police charge two caregivers at a Jonesboro facility with waterboarding an 89-year-old woman.

Clayton County police said Jermeller Steed and Cicely Reed held down Anna Foley after an argument that started over ice cream.
#9 An increasing number of American families are taking out student loans in order to pay for their children's kindergarten tuition.

#10 One town in Massachusetts plans to distribute free condoms to children as young as 12 years of age.

#11 Children in America are exposed to enormous amounts of sexual material on television these days, but we are always so shocked when they try to act out on it. The following is one very disturbing example that happened recently in Ohio....
Authorities in southwest Ohio have charged a 13-year-old boy with raping a 5-year-old girl at a McDonald's play area.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office said Monday that the alleged assault occurred Oct. 29 at a McDonald's in the Cincinnati suburb of Anderson Township. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett says the girl's grandmother was nearby in the restaurant at the time.
#12 The following is another example from Indiana of how our sexualized society is affecting our young children....
Fishers police said an 8-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were caught in a sexual act on a school bus.

The girl's parents are now trying to determine if the February incident was a rape or molestation.

In a statement, police said a bus aid caught the girl and the boy "trying to have intercourse," and that the "bus aid immediately separated the juveniles and informed the bus driver."
#13 According to Natural News, the Michigan state government intends to raid private farms and kill pigs that have "the wrong hair color" even though some of these farmers have been raising these pigs for decades.

#14 An executive order recently updated by the Obama administration would give the federal government complete control over all food, all energy, all health resources, all transportation resources and "all other materials, services, and facilities" at the discretion of Barack Obama. The wording of the executive order has been changed so that this can now be done even in "non-emergency" situations. Very few Americans seem concerned by this.

#15 These days many Americans are very hesitant to get involved with helping out anyone else. For example, an 86-year-old World War II veteran living near Detroit was recently brutally carjacked in broad daylight at a gas station. He could not walk after the attack because his leg was shattered so he began to crawl across the concrete pavement to get help. Sadly, many people walked past and drove past as if he was not even there.

#16 At one airport in Hawaii, TSA agents recently required one new mother to go to a public restroom and fill up the empty baby bottles she was carrying with her own breast milk before they would allow her to get on to her flight. The following is how one local news station described the incident....
She claims agents told her she couldn't take the pump on the plane because the bottles in her carry-on were empty.

"I asked him if there was a private place I could pump and he said no, you can go in the women's bathroom. I had to stand in front of the mirrors and the sinks and pump my breast in front of every tourist that walked into that bathroom. I was embarrassed and humiliated and then angry that I was treated this way.

When the bottles were full, she was allowed back on the plane.
#17 Massive brawls have been erupting at Chuck E. Cheese restaurants all over the nation. Police responded to violence at one particular Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Pennsylvania 17 times in just one recent 18 month time period.

#18 Thieves in New Jersey have become so desperate for scrap metal that they have started breaking into churches and ripping the copper piping right out of the walls.

#19 Tide detergent has become an alternative form of currency on the streets of America and there has been an epidemic of Tide thefts all over the nation. The following is from a recent article in The Daily....
Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.

One Tide taker in West St. Paul, Minn., made off with $25,000 in the product over 15 months before he was busted last year.

"That was unique that he stole so much soap," said West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver. "The name brand is [all] Tide. Amazing, huh?"

Tide has become a form of currency on the streets. The retail price is steadily high - roughly $10 to $20 a bottle - and it's a staple in households across socioeconomic classes.
#20 New federal rules will severely restrict the kind of work that children can do on farms in America. Kids will be banned from doing many of the most basic kinds of farm chores under the new regulations. Perhaps the children can just sit inside and watch television while the adults do all the work.

As mentioned earlier, what America is experiencing is not just an economic collapse. The truth is that our entire society is collapsing.

For many years our great prosperity masked much of our decline, but now our great economic strength is rapidly fading and it is becoming very difficult to deny how far we have fallen as a nation.

You can find more examples of how American society is decaying right here and right here. Anyone with half a brain can see what is happening to the United States. It really is sad, because America was once a truly great nation.

So is there any hope of a recovery?

Not if we keep going down the same path.

In the end, the choice is up to you America.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

US: Marine Monster mystery on South Carolina Beach

Mar. 29, 2012: Marine Monster mystery on South Carolina Beach

A bizarre creature that washed ashore last week in Folly Beach, S.C., sparked speculation in the area and on the Internet that a dead sea monster might have been discovered. The tan-brown animal with greenish patches was strange enough, but what really baffled beachgoers was its massive size and the dinosaur-like bony plates on its sides. It's not clear just how long it was, but photos suggest it exceeded 10 feet.

© Facebook
 Like many washed-up carcasses it carried both a salty stench and an air of mystery. Speculation ran rampant, with commenters suggesting that the creature was everything from a dinosaurian sea monster to a toxin-spawned mutation to a chupacabra.

Scientists, however, were somewhat more skeptical. One of the first to identify the monster was Dr. Shane Boylan of the South Carolina Aquarium. Two big clues allowed Boylan to identify the fish more or less immediately: the animal's shape and distinctive bony plates.

The marine monster was in fact an Atlantic sturgeon. Part of the reason the giant fish's identity was difficult to determine is that sturgeon are not normally the strange brownish tan color but instead lighter colored and silvery. The South Carolina monster's flesh color had changed as it baked in the sun. The dinosaur identification was actually pretty close to accurate; sturgeon are among the oldest bony fish in existence.

It's not surprising that the sturgeon scared and confused people; Atlantic sturgeon have been known to reach 15 feet long and weigh over 500 pounds; seeing the beasts close-up is not for the faint of heart.

The South Carolina monster was only the latest of several creatures to wash ashore in recent months. In early February a strange, seemingly mohawked toothy monster was found on a San Diego beach. It was soon identified as an opossum.

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Other Fish Mistaken for Monsters

Other normal fish besides the sturgeon have been mistaken for monsters, including oarfish and gar.

Oarfish, which are long, serpentine, nearly finless fish with large round eyes, often average 20 or 30 feet but have been reported over 50 feet long. Earlier this year, in January a huge ribbon-like monstrous fish that washed ashore in Delray Beach, Florida, was identified as an oarfish.

Several sightings of gar (freshwater and marine fish which can grow over 10 feet long and reach over 350 pounds) have also been mistaken for monsters. In fact, some believe that "Champ," the lake monster said to inhabit Lake Champlain (on the border between Vermont and New York), was first sighted in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain.

In his journal Champlain wrote of local Indians describing a fish with "a head as large as my two fists, with a snout two feet and a half long, and a double row of very sharp, dangerous teeth. Its body has a good deal the shape of the pike; but it is protected by scales of a silvery gray color."

Though often claimed as an eyewitness report of "America's Loch Ness Monster," his description is clearly that of a sturgeon-like gar fish.

Another reason that the sturgeon seemed monstrous was that it's an unusually large fish.

The fish most people (and certainly most urban dwellers) encounter are relatively small -- goldfish perhaps, or aquarium fish. Sport fishermen, butchers and marine biologists are far more likely to recognize large fish such as tuna, sturgeon and gar, for example, which often grow to surprising sizes.

Even seeing large fish on television, in aquariums or in photographs does not necessarily prepare city-dwelling beachgoers for real-life encounters with a beached, smelly giant.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

US: Unacceptable Levels: New film about toxins in our food, cosmetics & environment

Unacceptable Levels: New film about toxins in our food, cosmetics & environment - Food Freedom

“Unacceptable Levels” is a feature length film, in conjunction with learned scientists, doctors, and experts in the field, who will reveal the truth about toxins in the environment, and in ourselves.



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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

World: Corporate Gas Guzzlers Reek Havoc in the North Sea

© Unknown
The Elgin oil and gas platform
is operated by Total
North Sea gas cloud: "May be months" to stop it by Oleg Vukmanovic

 A cloud of explosive natural gas boiling up from the North Sea out of a leak at Total's (TOTF.PA) evacuated Elgin platform forced another shutdown off the Scottish coast on Tuesday as the French firm warned it could take six months to halt the flow.

Dubbed "the well from hell" by an environmentalist who said the unusually high pressure of the undersea reservoirs made it especially hard to shut off, the loss of oil and gas output from Elgin - as well as the prospect of a big repair bill - helped drive Total's share price down six percent on the Paris bourse.

As Shell pulled its bigger Shearwater facility offline too and an air and sea exclusion zone was declared around the forlorn Elgin rig, 150 miles (250 km) east of Aberdeen, green campaigners denounced dangers in the technically challenging deep drilling that energy companies have undertaken around the globe to exploit the high prices created by insatiable demand.

The Elgin well, pumping some three percent of Britain's gas output from nearly four miles below the seabed, pushes the frontiers of technology and is one of the deepest, most highly pressurized, offshore natural gas fields in the world. It now sits empty following Sunday's emergency evacuation of 238 crew.

Total, which said the rupture of an unused reservoir above the main production source seemed to have been caused by its own engineers, is now looking at two main options to cut off the shimmering plume of gas rising above the sea: either drilling a relief well nearby, which could take six months, or - faster but possibly riskier - sending in engineers to "kill" the leak.

The firm concurred with British authorities which called the environmental impact from the plume of gas and a spreading sheen of light oil on the water "minimal", although environmental pollution experts said much of the gas "cocktail" would be either flammable or poisonous at close quarters. The thin film of oil should evaporate without the need to spray dispersals.

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But two years after Britain's BP saw its reputation and value savaged by a blowout at its Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico which caused the biggest U.S. oil spill on record, energy firms are sensitive to controversy about their ability to develop deep sea reserves. In responding to the Total leak, Greenpeace condemned new British government incentives for exploration in the deeper Atlantic waters west of Shetland.

Two options

"There are two options for intervening," David Hainsworth, health, safety and environment manager at Total Exploration and Production UK Ltd, told Reuters.

"One is drilling a relief well which could take about six months. The other is a platform intervention to kill the well.

"This would be a faster option," he added, saying a decision on how to tackle the problem would be taken in the coming days.

As well as flying in 10 to 20 specialist engineers, Total has enlisted the services of Wild Well Control, which was heavily involved in efforts to cap BP's Deepwater Horizon.

"We are exploring all the options and we are looking at what-if scenarios," Hainsworth said, while noting there was a chance nature alone would resolve the problem: "The well itself could die on its own," he said. "This is the dream option."


Frederic Hauge, the head of Bellona, a leading Norwegian environmental campaign group which closely monitors the oil industry across the North Sea, was unimpressed: "This is the well from hell," he said. "This problem is out of control."

Citing his organization's anonymous sources, Hauge said workers on the platform had battled for 14 hours to contain the leak before being forced to evacuate - and taking care not to let electrical plant or other stray sparks ignite an inferno.

"They saw the sea bubbling with gas under the platform," he told Reuters. "This is quite shocking.

"This situation is only going to get bigger and bigger."


Local gas prices firmed about one percent with the loss of Elgin, whose output was 9 million cubic metres per day (mcm/d), and of Shell's 11 mcm/d Shearwater, about four miles away, where some staff were pulled off and the company said it decided to shut down for maintenance four days ahead of schedule.

Total said Elgin also produces 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) of light crude oil, exported via the BP-operated Forties pipeline system. Shearwater's capacity is 90,000 bpd. Britain's total output last month was 1.09 million bpd.

A nearby Shell drilling rig was also shut down, while Total said it suspended drilling at its West Franklin site.

Engineering work

Hainsworth said that some weeks ago Total engineers had decided to pump in mud to redundant piping on a gas reservoir which had been plugged about a year ago. This recent operation appeared to resulted in the escape of gas: "We believe the leak is coming out of the outer casing of the well," he said.

The leaking reservoir is above the production reservoir, which lies 6,000 metres - nearly four miles - below the seabed.

Britain's energy minister Charles Hendry sounded a note of confidence in the response: "Any leak we take very seriously and I think the right measures have been taken," he said.

"Procedures appear to have been followed properly."

He played down the oil slick, which is a light form known as condensate, spreading over the surface: "Some tonnes of condensate have escaped," he told Reuters. "The size of the sheen is one-sixteenth of the size of an Olympic swimming pool."

Shipping was ordered to come no closer than two miles from the Elgin platform and aircraft no nearer than three miles if they flew lower than 4,000 feet - effectively shutting out helicopters but not affecting airline traffic.

For Scotland's government, environment secretary Richard Loch head said: "Impact on the environment ... is minimal."

Scientists said the gas, flammable methane but containing poisonous hydrogen sulphide - familiar from the smell of rotten eggs - should disperse in the atmosphere. But it poses a risk to anyone close to the source, making capping the well complex.

Poison in the gas could also threaten fish and other marine life nearby, although the rate at which it dissipates in air and water meant it was not a significant threat to people on land.

Greenpeace used the accident to criticise new incentives offered by the British government for deep water drilling west of Shetland and called North Sea energy production dangerous to those working there and damaging to the environment.

The campaign group's Vicky Wyatt said the Total leak was "a reminder of the dangers that drilling for oil and gas pose to the lives of those working on rigs, and the huge damage that can be done to the environment".

But Martin Preston, a marine pollution expert from Britain's Liverpool University, said that while there appeared to be a "cocktail" of noxious and explosive material escaping into the air and water, the impact seemed much less serious than that of the Gulf of Mexico crude oil spill two years ago: "We're not talking about anything like that," Preston said.

Methane gas in high concentrations as it emerges would risk blowing up, hence the need to clear the area, while of hydrogen sulphide he noted: "If there's a lot of it being belched out, it's horribly poisonous." However, the gas decays rapidly in air and poses little threat beyond the immediate vicinity.

The surface oil slick formed by gas condensates should, Preston said, evaporate fairly quickly, particularly in the mild, breezy conditions on the North Sea at present.

Memories are still raw in the North Sea industry of the Piper Alpha platform fire 24 years ago, when 167 people were killed in the world's deadliest offshore oil disaster.

(Additional reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Olso, Muriel Boselli in Paris and Karolin Schaps, Kate Kelland and Henning Gloystein in London; Editing by Alastair Macdonald) 



Comment: What is wrong is that filthy rich bastards need to do this all in order to MAKE A PROFIT while the rest of mankind has to live in the lying and despicable shit they leave behind. Now they have opened up earth and she may never close polluting the sea as was in the Gulf for centuries to come. As Roseanne Barr once said, "It's time to bring back the guillotine." Don't expect the people to pay for your mistakes with Agenda 21, these bigots should loose their heads. If were going to live like apes, then we should reveal just how ignorant we truly are. Again, Greenpeace is a rich front group that assists in painting a picture for you to sleep in while you slowing die.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Students Protest Debt as Student Loan Debt Collectors Make a Billion

Source
Students Protest Debt as Student Loan Debt Collectors Make a Billion - CommonDreams.org

36 students arrested at headquarters of student loan provider Sallie Mae


Dozens of students were arrested this afternoon at the Sallie Mae headquarters demanding forgiveness of student loans.  The protest comes after recent reports show $1 trillion in student debt burdening borrowers.

The high amount of debt is good news for debt collectors, however. A Bloomberg report shows that debt collectors made nearly $1 billion in commissions from aggressivley pursued student loan collection efforts.

“Student-loan debt collectors have power that would make a mobster envious,” said Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren.
* * *
NewsiT: Students arrested at Sallie Mae during college loan protest
About three dozen student activists were arrested Monday during a protest outside the Washington headquarters of student loan provider Sallie Mae, according to participants.

The demonstration was part of an annual legislative conference by the U.S. Students Association, which ended Monday with a “Lobby Day.” That event usually consists of a march to Capitol Hill and meetings with congressional representatives, but because of the outcry over student loans and the challenges of student debt, the protest at Sallie Mae was added to the schedule.
Read more..

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Laundered Money

Laundered Money by Joseph T. Salerno

Under cover of its multiplicity of fabricated wars on drugs, terror, tax evasion, and organized crime, the US government has long been waging a hidden war on cash. One symptom of the war is that the largest denomination of US currency is the $100 note, whose ever-eroding purchasing power is far below the purchasing power of the €500 note. US currency used to be issued in denominations running up to $10,000 (including also $500; $1,000; $5,000 notes). There was even a $100,000 note issued for transactions among Federal Reserve banks. The United States stopped printing large denomination notes in 1945 and officially discontinued their issuance in 1969, when the Fed began removing them from circulation. Since then the largest currency note available to the general public has a face value of $100. But since 1969, the inflationary monetary policy of the Fed has caused the US dollar to depreciate by over 80 percent, so that a $100 note in 2010 possessed a purchasing power of only $16.83 in 1969 dollars. That is less purchasing power than a $20 bill in 1969!

Despite this enormous depreciation, the Federal Reserve has steadfastly refused to issue notes of larger denomination. This has made large cash transactions extremely inconvenient and has forced the American public to make much greater use than is optimal of electronic-payment methods. Of course, this is precisely the intent of the US government. The purpose of its ongoing breach of long-established laws regarding financial privacy is to make it easier to monitor the economic affairs and abrogate the financial privacy of its citizens, ostensibly to secure their safety from Colombian drug lords, Al Qaeda operatives, and tax cheats and other nefarious white-collar criminals.

Read complete report..

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Buy Local Blitz: Local Businesses Hit by 'Cash Mobs'

Longfellow Books co-owner
Stuart Gersen enjoying his
store being "cash mobbed."
Buy Local Blitz: Local Businesses Hit by 'Cash Mobs' - CommonDreams.org

 Move over, flash mobs. "Cash mobs" are coming.

The idea behind cash mobs is to get a group of people to flood a local business and spend a suggested set amount in order to give the local business an economic boost.


The first cash mobs were organized back in 2011 in Buffalo, NY and Cleveland, but now they seem to be spreading nationally and internationally, with tomorrow set for International Cash Mob Day.

Yesterday Portland, Maine, a town known for having a strong buy local movement, was hit by its first cash mob. In the event organized by gr8PortlandMe.com, the target was Longfellow Books. Store co-owner Stuart Gersen said, “This puts more people in the store than all day today and all day yesterday.” “We maybe got a few days like this before Christmas.”
* * *
Bangor Daily News: Portland ‘Cash Mob’ raids store with money
PORTLAND, Maine — Hoping to take advantage of the Portland community’s enthusiasm for supporting local stores, a new website organized a “Cash Mob” Thursday night. Nearly 50 people gathered in Monument Square armed with $20 bills and overwhelmed nearby Longfellow Books with business. [...]

The dose of cash was welcomed, but the event succeeded in another way as well. It shone a spotlight on the “Buy Local” movement, said Suzanne Gagnon, an office manager and outreach leader for the organizing group, Local Thunder.

“Every little bit helps, and it’s also another way to draw attention to the local economy in a fun way,” Gagnon said.

Event organizer Local Thunder is the group behind the fledgling website www.gr8PortlandME.com, which keeps a comprehensive directory of Portland businesses by type and highlights activities being held in the city.
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USA Today: 'Cash mobs' descend on small businesses, snap up merchandise
It's a mob scene at some mom-and-pop retailers across the country.

Organized groups of do-gooders — "cash mobs," modeled after public-spectacle "flash mobs" — are descending upon small businesses, snapping up merchandise and rallying at pubs afterward to celebrate their pro-community mission.

The shopping sprees have taken place in dozens of cities from San Diego to Buffalo. The packs organize on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, where they get details on where and when a strike will occur.

Farmers markets, toy retailers and hardware stores have been on the hit list. Mob members typically spend at least $10 to $20.
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Groundbreaking “Coal Rush” Film Exposes the “Other BP” Spill: Coal Slurry Disaster in Appalachia

Groundbreaking “Coal Rush” Film Exposes the “Other BP” Spill: Coal Slurry Disaster in Appalachia by Jeff Biggers

When theatre-goers view the premiere of the stunning film documentary Coal Rush at the Atlanta Film Fest next week, the judgment on one of the best kept secrets in our nation’s energy policy will be “revealed as water, and justice as a mighty torrent.”

Never will theatre-goers view a glass of clean water in the same way; never will coal be called “clean” again.

Sitting aside one of the beautiful headwaters in the great Appalachian mountain range, framed by the deciduous forests of life, a former coal operator hauntingly confesses to the enormity of an intentional “spill” that makes the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill look like a garden leak: “We pumped an ocean into the mountains.”

Translation: Over a decade-long period, 1.4 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry (or the waste from poisonous chemicals and water used to wash the coal before it’s ship to market) were injected into honey-combed underground mines and leached into underground aquifers, waterways, wells and drinking water sources that poisoned the very coal miners and their families serving the out-of-state Massey Energy coal company.

Transcending the political quagmire of “environmental vs. coal” banter in a powerful and chilling chronicle of a coal slurry tragedy foretold, Coal Rush’s poignant work by acclaimed Italian filmmakers Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo reveals the extraordinary health and human costs from the largely ignored effects of post-mining processing, and the heroic efforts of a small legal team and coalfield residents in Mingo County, West Virginia to hold the abominable Massey Energy coal company and its regulatory sycophants accountable for their polluting actions.

“Don’t let them convince you that they didn’t understand what was in that slurry,” attorney Kevin Thompson says to a 4th generation coal miner and his wife. “They knew.”

Here’s the trailer:



Allowing residents and Massey operators to tell their side of the slurry story, Coal Rush provides one of the most devastating film portraits of regulatory disregard and ruthless corporate operations in memory. Brilliantly filmed, with a perfect spare banjo soundtrack, Coal Rush follows the 7-year crusade by Thompson and his determined band of attorneys, advocates and hundreds of affected residents to halt the injection of slurry, and get Massey Energy and state officials to recognize the looming health crisis and unrelenting cancer corridors in their very mist.

“I was walking around dead,” says area resident Donetta Blankenship, one of the Thompson’s plaintiffs, who is stricken with liver disease among other elements.

The sheer numbers of health maladies — and deaths — along the coal slurry corridor of disease should be enough to trigger a bit of government action. Neighbors after neighbors with the same diseases mount like casualties in a never-ending war. A nurse tells one resident that she has picked up the bacteria associated with untreated drinking water in a Third World country.

“We had some faith that if your water was contaminated, that your government would step in and do something,” says former miner Brenda McCoy. “But they didn’t.”

Only thanks to regional nonprofit organizations like Coal River Mountain Watch and the Sludge Safety Project are the residents provided with clean drinking water deliveries.

In keeping with Big Coal’s legacy of denial — from black lung, to health care impacts on strip mining and mountaintop removal to carbon emissions — Massey Energy simply dismissed concerns as implausible. A Massey official boldly tells the interviewer his notoriously violation-ridden company is in compliance with regulatory requirements: Besides, “there is no credible scientific data that shows relationship between slurry injection and disposal and any adverse heath effects with humans.”

When a coalfield resident challenges a state official to drink a jar of his tap water, he receives the same denial — and the same refusal to drink the water, or make any attempt to “understand what the average person has to put up with.”

One of the most important film documentaries in years, turning the light on the dark side of all mining, Coal Rush faithfully documents the long-running legal proceedings until the final settlement in the summer of 2011. According to internal documents obtained by the AP, residents in the Mingo County area received an estimated $35 million in damages.

When the coal-fired lights turn back on in the Atlanta theatre next week, viewers will be reminded that in the nearly 25 states that mine coal across the country, 17 still allow for underground injections of toxic coal slurry; farmers in central Illinois, for example, were devastated by similar coal slurry leaks in their watersheds over the last decade. There is a temporary ban in West Virginia.

“Water is the most precious resource on earth,” the retired coal operator appeals, in his attempt to make amends with his actions, if only to “right a wrong for future generations.”

Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award-winning author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation/Basic Books), among other books. Visit his website: www.jeffbiggers.com


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fracking Process Shown to Compromise Air Quality, Cause Cancer

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Fracking Process Shown to Compromise Air Quality, Cause Cancer by Mike Barrett

 In a new study soon to be published in an edition of Science of the Total Environment, researchers found yet again that hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is causing cancer.

While fracking is known to be contributing to various health problems through the contamination of groundwater, it is also important to recognize that those near the hydraulic fracturing sites are taking in an even greater dose of chemicals through the air.

Cancerous Air a Result of Hydraulic Fracturing

The process of fracking involves a number of harmful and carcinogenic substances that are helping to lead to the downfall of public health. The EPA has admitted that this method of attaining oil or gas by pumping chemicals underground is causing polluted water, which being consumed by countless number of individuals every day. Still, the process of fracking persists.

The new research focusing on fracking’s negative impact on air quality is pointing out that, after three years of monitoring air quality near fracking sites, there are a number of toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air.
“Our data show that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water exposures to hydraulic fracturing” Lead author Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPG, said

 Many of the chemicals used in the fracking process are harmful by nature, and are being ingested far too regularly. You can expect to find carcinogenic chemicals such as naphthalene, diesel, formaldehyde, and lead in the fracking process, but one of the primary cancer-causing culprits eyed down by scientists and researchers is benzene. Found in gasoline, benzene has been shown to cause dizziness, weakness, and chest constriction at short-term exposure while being a major contributor to lifetime excess cancer risk.

'Our results show that the non-cancer health impacts from air emissions due to natural gas development is greater for residents living closer to wells…The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short-term, but high emission, well completion period…We also calculated higher cancer risks for residents living nearer to the wells as compared to those residing further [away]…Benzene is the major contributor to lifetime excess cancer risk from both scenarios,' states the study report.
Research is consistently and conclusively reporting that fracking is indeed cause for concern, and thus should be heavily investigated. Mainstream doctors are urging the United States government to actually halt fracking — what do you think?


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fracking: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed Part 2 of 3

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Fracking: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed Part 2 of 3 by Walter Brasch

The natural gas industry defends hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, as safe and efficient. Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a pro-industry non-profit organization, claims fracking has been “a widely deployed as safe extraction technique,” dating back to 1949. What he doesn’t say is that until recently energy companies had used low-pressure methods to extract natural gas from fields closer to the surface than the current high-pressure technology that extracts more gas, but uses significantly more water, chemicals, and elements.

The industry claims well drilling in the Marcellus Shale will bring several hundred thousand jobs, and has minimal health and environmental risk. President Barack Obama in his January 2012 State of the Union, said he believes the development of natural gas as an energy source to replace fossil fuels could generate 600,000 jobs.

However, research studies by economists Dr. Jannette M. Barth, Dr. Deborah Rogers, and others debunk the idea of significant job creation.

Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says “no evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination.” Fracking “has never been found to contaminate a water well,” says Christine Cronkright, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Research studies and numerous incidents of water contamination prove otherwise.

***

An investigation by New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, based upon thousands of unreported EPA documents and a confidential study by the natural gas industry, concluded, “Radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.” Urbina learned that waste water from fracking operations was about 100 times more toxic than federal drinking water standards; 15 wells had readings about 1,000 times higher than standards.

Read complete report..  

Fracking: Pennsylvania Gags Physicians Part 1 of 3


Secret Deals, Forclosure Settlements, Stress Tests and Vampire Squid Whistle Blowers: You Just Can't Make This Stuff UP

© Associated Press
Secret Deals, Forclosure Settlements, Stress Tests and Vampire Squid Whistle Blowers: You Just Can't Make This Stuff UP by L. Randall Wray

 No Hollywood scriptwriter could plot a more implausible story. Here is the plotline sequencing:
  1. Bankers make NINJA loans, securitize them, and sell on to government GSEs
  2. Bankers destroy all the loan documents and begin random and fraudulent foreclosures, throwing millions of innocent victims out on the street
  3. GSEs sue bankers and force them to take back bad mortgages
  4. Bankers sell servicing rights for the same bad mortgages back to GSEs, who overpay
  5. GSEs resell servicing rights to companies run by former GSE officials
  6. Bankers slapped on wrist with puny foreclosure settlement in return for government promise it will never sue them for past foreclosure fraud
  7. Government stress test claims banks are healthy
  8. Bankers get sweet deal, counting mortgage mods for best borrowers toward the settlement
  9. HUD report released demonstrating massive foreclosure fraud that reached to highest levels of banks
  10. Vampire Squid Executive Director fires off resignation letter decrying bankster culture
  11. Banksters walk away scott-free as statute of limitations runs out for criminal behavior
This would have to be a fantasy because no one would ever believe it could have been true.

Beginning in the late 1990s the biggest banks and GSEs created MERS to end-run around county recorders so that they would not have to pay fees to properly register sales of mortgages that would be securitized.

They then proceeded to lose or destroy all (or virtually all) the written documents, broke the chain of title, and screwed up even the electronic records. Nobody knows who owes what to whom, so the loan servicing arms of the biggest banks decided to go on a foreclosure frenzy to seize as many homes at random before anyone found out.

Read complete report..

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

US: Study Proves Bee Decline Linked to Top Insecticides

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Study Proves Bee Decline Linked to Top Insecticides by Anthony Gucciardi 

Already being ravaged by pesticides that are ignored by the USDA, a new study confirms that the bee population decline is also linked to corn insecticides that are among the most widely used in the world. The study sheds more light on the rampant downfall of the bee population through mass die-offs, also known as colony collapse disorder.


Used to coat corn seeds, the chemicals — known as neonicotinoid insecticides – are used to kill the insects by paralyzing their nerves. The makers claim that it has ‘lower toxicity’ for other animals. The study, entitled “Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds,” was published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology journal. The researchers note that an increase in bee deaths began to be observed as soon as the insecticide was put into use.

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The way in which bees are affected by this insecticide has to do with how the particles of the substance release into the air. The process involves pneumatic drilling machines, which suck in the seeds and subsequently spray and coat them with the insecticide before they are planted in the ground. As a result, particles of the insecticide are released into the air which then affect the honeybees. Even after examining how to potentially make the machines safer in any capacity to prevent the bee die-off, scientists said that all variations using the neonicotinoid insecticides still led to mass bee death.

The integrity of the entire ecosystem is at risk if the honeybee population is not stabilized. Integral for the pollination of food crops, these insecticides are threatening the future of agriculture and global food sustainability. The researchers also mention that corn is increasingly being used as a form of renewable energy, and that real changes need to be made regarding the use of neonicotinoid insecticide before it is too late.

The researchers state:
“In view of the currently increasing crop production, and also of corn as a renewable energy source, the correct use of these insecticides within sustainable agriculture is a cause of concern.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

US: The Real Cause of Rising Prices at the Gas Pump

The Real Cause of Rising Prices at the Gas Pump by Prof Robert Reich

Gas prices continue to rise, which is finally giving Republicans an issue. Mitt Romney is demanding the President open up more domestic drilling; the super PAC behind Rick Santorum just released a new ad in Louisiana blasting the President on gas prices; and the GOP is attacking the White House on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But the rise in gas prices has almost nothing to do with energy policy. It has everything to do with America's continuing failure to adequately regulate Wall Street. But don't hold your breath waiting for Republicans to tell the truth.

As I've noted before, oil supplies aren't being squeezed. Over 80 percent of America's energy needs are now being satisfied by domestic supplies. In fact, we're starting to become an energy exporter. Demand for oil isn't rising in any event. Demand is down in the U.S. compared to last year at this time, and global demand is still moderate given the economic slowdowns in Europe and China.

But Wall Street is betting on higher oil prices in the future -- and that betting is causing prices to rise. The Street is laying odds that unrest in Syria will spill over into other countries or that tensions with Iran will affect the Persian Gulf, and that global demand will pick up as American consumers bounce back to life.

These bets are pushing up oil prices because Wall Street firms and other big financial players now dominate oil trading.

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Financial speculators historically accounted for about 30 percent of oil contracts, producers and end users for about 70 percent. But today speculators account for 64 percent of all contracts.

Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission -- the federal agency that regulates trading in oil futures, among other commodities -- warns that too few financial players control too much of the oil market. This allows them to push oil prices higher and higher -- not only on the basis of their expectations about the future but also expectations about how high other speculators will drive the price.

In other words, a relatively few players with very deep pockets are placing huge bets on oil -- and you're paying.

Chilton estimates that drivers of small cars like Honda Civics are paying an extra $7.30 every time they fill up -- and that money is going into the pockets of Wall Street speculators. Drivers of larger vehicles like the Ford Explorer are paying speculators $10.41 when they fill up.

Funny, but I don't hear Republicans rail against Wall Street speculators. Could this have anything to do with the fact that hedge funds and money managers are bankrolling the GOP as never before?

Wall Street isn't bankrolling Democrats nearly as much this time around because the Street is still smarting from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law pushed by the Democrats, and from the president's offhand remark in 2010 calling the denizens of the Street "fat cats."

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is trying to limit how much speculators can bet in oil futures -- a power it was given by Dodd-Frank. It issued a rule in October, but it won't take effect for another year.

Meanwhile, Wall Street has gone to court to stop the rule. It's already won a stay. As rising gas prices start wagging the election-year dog, the President should let America know what's really causing prices to rise.  

Robert Reich is the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org/

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Banks Worsening Foreclosure Crisis, A Study

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Banks Worsening Foreclosure Crisis, A Study - Press TV

 Banks might be indulging a bad habit that could be worsening the foreclosure crisis, according to recent research from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The economists, Thomas Fitzpatrick and Stephan Whitaker, did some analysis of the Ohio real estate market and found a disquieting trend. Banks seem to be over-valuing many of the homes they foreclose on, making it less likely that homeowners can get a loan modification and more likely that they'll end up losing their property.

It is not clear how or why banks are getting an inflated idea of the value of so many properties - especially since foreclosed homes tend to drag down real estate prices for the whole neighborhood - but the trend seems to be real. Fitzpatrick and Whitaker note that at foreclosed-home auctions in the Cleveland area, banks routinely sell their properties for much less than what they paid to buy them from the sheriff, meaning banks are high-balling their estimates of what those homes are worth.

If they were not doing that, the economists write, then maybe they'd be more willing to extend loan modifications to Ohio homeowners who then wouldn't have to give up their houses.

This is not the first evidence that banks have made the foreclosure crisis more pronounced. The widespread practice of robo-signing - banks moving forward with foreclosures based on forged or unread paperwork - has significantly impeded the housing recovery. And additional signs have shown wrongful foreclosures continue to be a problem across the nation.

Today, the foreclosure crisis remains a major source of economic distress in America, and the sheer volume of foreclosed properties is expected to get worse before it gets better, thanks to the recent $25 billion settlement between 49 states and five of the country's biggest banks.

Meanwhile, as more and more people bail out of the housing market and flee to rental units, the nation's low-income earners - many of whom never had the option of buying a house, and depend on affordable apartments for shelter - are finding themselves priced out of places to live.

Besides delaying a recovery in housing prices - seen as a prerequisite for any broader economic turnaround - the foreclosure epidemic has also been characterized as a public health crisis, with research linking the financial and psychological stress of foreclosure to widespread incidences of depression, anxiety and an inability to afford food and medicine.

Source: Huffington Post

Related: 

US: The Wizard Behind the Curtain
US: Banks Steal Homes, and I have PROOF

Servicers and FHA Payoffs: The Root of Foreclosure Evil