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January 2014

Something Else To Worry About With Fracking

Carl Weimer, executive director of Pipeline Safety Trust, a non-profit watchdog organization, says that, on average, there is “a significant incident -- somewhere -- about every other day. And someone ends up in the hospital or dead about every nine or ten days.” This begs the question: are pipelines carrying shale gas different in their explosive potential than other pipelines? “There isn’t any database that allows you to get at that,” says Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert and consultant of 40 years’ experience. “If it’s a steel pipeline and it has enough gas in it under enough pressure, it can leak or rupture.” Many pipelines, says Kuprewicz, aren’t bound by any safety regulations, and even when they are, enforcement can often be lax. Where regulations exist, he continues, corporate compliance is uneven. “Some companies comply with and exceed regulations, others don’t. If I want to find out about what’s going on, I may [have to] get additional information via subpoena.”

Idle No More — The Movement And The Music

Idle No More began as a series of teach-ins protesting legislation that would erode indigenous sovereignty. To support the movement, many tribal members within the United States have also held rallies — most recently in California, Oregon and Montana in November 2013, with others occurred in Washington, D.C. and several other states across the country and around the world. Other shows of support have come from musicians, Native and non-Native alike, resulting in the compilation album “Idle No More: Songs for Life, Volumes 1 & 2.” I listened to the second volume. The Indian Handcrafts open the album with the fun and energetic rock piece, “Red Action.” Surprising is the fact that their big sound comes from only two band members, drummer Brandon Aikins and guitarist Daniel Allen, who both add their vocals to the mix. They have an equally big message that might be easily overlooked as one bops to the drumbeat: “It shouldn’t be surprising — the spirits here were born for uprising” and “What time is it? It’s time for red action!”

Three Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands Found Guilty

The trial of peaceful activists from Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) ended today with the jury finding Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio, and Barb Carter guilty of both charges brought against them: trespassing and resisting and obstructing an officer. Supporters are deeply saddened that after deliberation for over 10 hours the verdict returned as guilty of all counts. The jury was split most of this time, returning to the courtroom several times for clarification. Sentencing was scheduled for March 5th and the defendants’ bail was revoked and immediately taken into custody. On January 15th when a denied motion to quash was heard by Judge Collette, he told the MI CATS that they would not be allowed to argue that their actions were “environmentally necessary”. Collette said, “If there is somebody leaking oil on a piece of property and you race out in the yard, and you go in and you stop it, and they charge you with trespassing, I’d throw that case out in a heartbeat. That’s what I think of as ‘Environmental Necessity.”

State Department KXL Report: Now Up To Obama Reject Pipeline

“The State Department’s review, written by Big Oil’s cronies, presents a fatalistic view of a future devastated by extreme and catastrophic climate change. But we, and millions of Americans, know there is a different way. This report assumes business as usual, which is not surprising for an industry-written report. Despite that, the report concedes that the emissions impact could be “1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually,”[1] equivalent to as many as 5.7 million new cars. 5.7 million new cars is clearly a significant increase in carbon emissions. There’s a new scenario we’re seeing grow stronger every day, one of concerned citizens rising up and saying no to Big Oil wrecking our communities and our climate. As recently as two years ago no one in Washington thought this pipeline could be stopped. Importantly, this report also concedes that other pipelines, such as the Northern Gateway, are looking less likely because of strong opposition.

Defense Puts Government On Trial In NATO 3 Case

Prosecutors from the state of Illinois are deeply bothered by defense attorneys’ focus on police conduct in the criminal investigation into the “NATO 3″ and the surveillance operation conducted prior to targeting the defendants. It would seem the prosecutors’ panic is a reaction to media coverage and commentary on the trial and not merely what effect it could have on the jury. The media has been focusing on police tactics, which have been the subject of defense cross-examinations of witnesses. The Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn wrote that the “NATO 3″ might be “three stooges.” He added, “The picture that’s emerging from the coverage is of a trio of inept stoners with inchoate violent impulses and delusions of grandeur and feck who were egged on by undercover cops and then grossly overcharged by an overheated state’s attorney’s office.” “So far I’ve seen no evidence of the menace and scheming implicit in the charge of terrorism,” Zorn added.

U.S. Spied On Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden. The document, with portions marked "top secret," indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that "analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies."

Grand Jury Resistor, Lang Student Jerry Koch Released

In the brisk January air, Lang student Gerald “Jerry” Koch ran out into the cold, wearing prison sweats and cotton slippers, to his attorney’s office, just after calling his mother to tell her he was free, according to a post on Facebook by New York Year Zero. After Koch had been held for 241 days in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correction Center without being charged with a crime, Judge John Keenan decided to answer a motion filed by his lawyers last month and release Koch on the grounds that the state would not be able to coerce him into cooperating with a federal grand jury. Koch, who is a student at Eugene Lang College with one semester left until graduation, was jailed for refusing to testify in an investigation regarding the 2008 explosion outside a Times Square military recruitment center.

Where Is Labor’s Opposition To Cuts In Food Stamps, Unemployment?

On January 29, by a 251-166 margin, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut food stamp funding by $8.6 billion over a 10-year period. 89 Democrats joined 162 Republicans to bring about this result. "They are gutting a program to provide food for hungry people to pay for corporate welfare," said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York Coalition Against Hunger. Anti-hunger advocates like Berg say crop insurance expansion would come at the expense of millions of people who depend on food stamps. "This vote is a tragic, heartless and economically counterproductive departure from America's bipartisan history of fighting hunger," Berg said. "Members of Congress who voted for this should be ashamed."

In Raucous Senate Hearing, Clapper Tells Snowden To Return Documents

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has issued a blistering condemnation of Edward Snowden, calling the surveillance disclosures published by the Guardian and other news outlets a “perfect storm” that would endanger American lives. Testifying before a rare and unusually raucous public session of the Senate intelligence committee that saw yet another evolution in the Obama administration’s defense of bulk domestic phone records collection, Clapper called on “Snowden and his accomplices” to return the documents the former National Security Agency contractor took, in order to minimize what he called the “profound damage that his disclosures have caused and continued to cause”.

Is Syrian “Peace” Conference Laying the Foundation for War?

The Geneva II conference which claims to be seeking to end the war in Syria seems designed to fail and instead to provide an excuse for military intervention by the United States and its allies. Human rights activist, Ajamu Baraka, describes the negotiations as an ‘Orwellian subterfuge’ designed to provide justification for war and a lot of facts support his view. The negotiations are destined to fail because of the way they have been set-up and the preconditions of the United States and its allies in the Syrian opposition demanding that President Bashar al-Assad agree to leave government before negotiations go forward. The set-up for failure begins with the limited participation.

Bipartisan Opposition To Fast Tracking TPP, ‘Obamatrade’

“The President said, if you like your health insurance, you can keep it,” says Curtis Ellis of the American Jobs Alliance, a small conservative group based in Virginia that opposes the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas. “Now essentially, with Obamatrade, he’s saying, if you like your job, you can keep it.” If “Obamatrade” catches on as a right-wing rallying cry against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement covering the Pacific Rim economies of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, among others—it will probably have something to do with a sparsely attended press conference on Tuesday in the House Science Committee hearing room. That’s where the American Jobs Alliance and the United States Business and Industry Council—pro-business groups wary of trade’s impact on America’s national interests—joined with Tea Party Nation and the socially conservative Eagle Forum to rail against the TPP and President Obama’s support for “fast-tracking” the measure.

Occupy Monsanto: 11 Arrested As GMO Labeling Resolution Fails

The arrests happened shortly after the shareholders failed to pass two resolutions that would have changed Monsanto's policies on its Genetically Modified Organism products. Protesters say people should be concerned they are buying genetically modified food that the organizers say is not safe for human consumption. "Basically GMOs are a big experiment on the American population. And we think many people are suffering food-related illnesses and they can't track it back to the source because the food is not labeled," said Adam Eidinger with Occupy Monsanto. "If GMOs are safe as Monsanto claims, then putting a label on them will only confirm how safe they are."

Green Shadow Cabinet Responds To State Of The Union

It is astounding how much clear thinking you can find on the Internet criticizing President Obama's State of the Union address. It seems less people are fooled and more people are speaking out about the inadequacy of the speech and the over-the-top show-man-ship displayed in the made for TV presentation. The Green Shadow Cabinet has responded to the 2014 State of the Union address with a critique of the policies, priorities and omissions made by President Barack Obama on Tuesday night. The following articles represent an alternative set of principles and policies that acknowledge and address critical issues facing the United States and the world.

‘Last Kiss’ Graffiti Artist Busted Again

Russell Murphy – who was once famously photographed kissing his gal pal while the pair were handcuffed following an earlier graffiti bust – was nabbed shortly after 1 a.m. in the East Village. Murphy and his girlfriend Alexis Creque were photographed in a lip lock in August 2012 by Brooklyn photographer Mo Gelber after they were arrested for tagging a building. Murphy pleaded guilty in January 2013 to criminal mischief and possession of a graffiti instrument for tagging the side of a Lower East Side building where the eatery Milk and Honey was located. He was ordered to serve eight days of community service. Also busted Wednesday were Akili Baez, 21, Carmen Lasala-Ayres, 26, and Robin Drysdale, 34, all of Brooklyn; and Luis Santana, 20, of Staten Island, cops said.

NY Jews To de Blasio: ‘AIPAC Does Not Speak For Us’

We are Jewish residents of New York who read, in the leaked transcript of your private speech to a meeting of AIPAC leaders, the following: “City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily ’cause that’s my job.” We understand that the job of mayor of New York is a complex one that often calls for your participation on the international stage, and we would not presume to define your job for you. But we do know that the needs and concerns of many of your constituents–U.S. Jews like us among them–are not aligned with those of AIPAC, and that no, your job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding when they call you to do so. AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us.
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