Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Funnies




Scientists Find ‘Direct Link’ Between Earthquakes And Process Used For Oil And Gas Drilling


But like with everything controversial that makes people lots of money, the profiteers of this industry will deny it until the earth swallows them up. i'm sorry, folks--if anyone still reads this blog--but the only thing that can save humanity is something which will wipe out civilization. technology is wonderful, but we are too stupid and shortsighted to use it correctly. we destroy something permanently if we can profit from its destruction. THAT'S why UFOs and aliens don't come here any more. They put up a "quarantined" sign in the Kuiper Belt telling explorers that this solar system is off-limits. imagine if we were allowed to travel the galaxy--we would be hated instantly and cause our planet to be invaded and destroyed to keep us from expanding. like the great Bill Hicks said: "humanity is a virus with shoes."


by Emily Atkin, THINKPROGRESS
Posted on September 16, 2014

A team of scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have found evidence “directly linking” the uptick in Colorado and New Mexico earthquakes since 2001 to wastewater injection, a process widely used in the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and conventional drilling.
In a study to be published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America on Tuesday, the scientists presented “several lines of evidence [that] suggest the earthquakes in the area are directly related to the disposal of wastewater” deep underground, according to a BSSA press release. Fracking and conventional natural gas companies routinely dispose of large amounts of wastewater underground after drilling. During fracking, the water is mixed with chemicals and sand, to “fracture” underground shale rock formations and make gas easier to extract.

The USGS research is just the latest in a string of studies that have suggested the disposed water is migrating along dormant fault lines, changing their state of stress, and causing them to fail.

For their research, the four California-based USGS scientists monitored the 2,200 square mile Raton Basin, which goes from southern Colorado into New Mexico. They pointed out that the Basin had been “seismically quiet” until 1999, when companies began “major fluid injection” deep into the ground. Earthquakes began in 2001 when Colorado wastewater injection rates were under 600,000 barrels per month, and and since then there have been 16 earthquakes that could be considered large (above a magnitude of 3.8, including two over a 5.0 magnitude), compared with only one — a 4.0 magnitude quake — in the 30 years prior.


CREDIT: Rubenstein et. al.

“These earthquakes are limited to the area of fluid injection, they occur shortly after major fluid injection activities began, and the earthquake rates track the fluid injection rates in the
Raton Basin,” the paper said, noting the scientists’ comparisons of the timing and location of earthquakes with the timing and location of injected wastewater. By the mid-2000s, Colorado’s wastewater injection rates were up to 1.9 million barrels per month.

Taking that and the unexpected frequency of the earthquakes into consideration, the paper noted that it was “highly unlikely” that the quakes could have been due to any random fluctuations underground.

“Detailed investigations of two seismic sequences places them in proximity to high-volume, high-injection-rate wells, and both sequences occurred after a nearby increase in the rate of injection,” the study’s accompanying press release said. “A comparison between seismicity and wastewater injection in Colorado and New Mexico reveals similar patterns, suggesting seismicity is initiated shortly after an increase in injection rates.”

The study does note that despite the strong and direct link, the findings are not definitive, echoing language often used by climate scientists to describe why it’s nearly impossible to say that individual weather events are caused by climate change. “Although there are many lines of evidence showing that the seismicity in the Raton Basin has been induced by wastewater injection activities in the area, it is very difficult to say whether an individual earthquake was caused by injection because natural seismicity has also been recorded there,” the study says. “For future research, a longer-term study with dense network coverage on both sides of the border would be especially useful in understanding the inducing relationship between the earthquakes and fluid injection in the Raton Basin.”

The U.S. government announced back in May that it would begin to track the risks that so-called “frackquakes” pose, and start including them on official maps that help influence building codes. Before then, the USGS had never taken man-made earthquakes into account during its regular quake mapping activity. It made the decision to do so after finding that two strong earthquakes in heavily-drilled areas of Colorado and Oklahoma in 2011 might have been the result of wastewater injection. “For future research, a longer-term study with dense network coverage on both sides of the border would be especially useful in understanding the inducing relationship between the earthquakes and fluid injection in the Raton Basin.”

Since then, drilling for natural gas and fracking has proliferated across the country, as have earthquakes in the places where those booms are occurring. Oklahoma, a hotbed for fracking, is currently experiencing anywhere from 5 to 20 small earthquakes every day, according to the state’s Geology Survey. What’s more, Cornell University scientists have linked more than 2,500 small earthquakes that have hit Oklahoma in the past five years to the wastewater disposal process.

These quakes are usually too small to be felt, but scientists have warned that they stand to get stronger as more wastewater injection happens — a likelihood considering the growing expansion of fracking.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

People Who Live Near Fracking More Likely To Become Sick, Study Finds



People Who Live Near Fracking More Likely To Become Sick, Study Finds
by Emily Atkin
September 10, 2014

People living close to natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania are more than twice as likely to report respiratory illnesses and skin problems than those living farther away, according to a new study from Yale University.

Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, a former Yale School of Medicine professor who now teaches at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, got the results by randomly surveying 180 households with 492 people in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Washington County is in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, one of one of America’s fracking hotspots — and arguably the epicenter of fracking-related pollution complaints and industrial accidents.

Of those surveyed, Rabinowitz found that 39 percent of people living less than 0.6 miles from a gas well reported upper-respiratory problems like sinus infections and nosebleeds, compared to just 18 percent of people living more than 1.2 miles away. For skin problems like rashes, 13 percent living close to the wells reported irritation, compared to only 3 percent living further away who said the same.

Rabinowitz said that his findings represent “the largest study to date of general health status of people living near natural gas wells.”

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is careful not to claim outright that the fracking itself is causing the health problems. Rather, it solely states that there are higher rates of illness in households closer to gas wells. To say that drilling or fracking causes illness would require more research, Rabinowitz said.

“It’s more of an association than a causation,” Rabinowitz told the New Haven Register. “We want to make sure people know it’s a preliminary study. … To me it strongly indicates the need to further investigate the situation and not ignore it.”

Rabinowitz is not the first to assert that more research needs to be done into the health impacts of fracking.

Just last week, scientists at the University of Texas published research stating that 30 percent of water wells near Texas fracking sites contained higher-than-normal levels of arsenic. However, the researchers stated that their findings were not conclusive in stating that the contamination is because of fracking.

“We think that the strongest argument we can say is that this needs more research,” Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, said at the time.

In addition, preliminary scientific research is finding more and more of a connection between birth defects and the proximity of the child’s mother to a natural gas well. Still, scientists generally agree that more research needs to be done before a conclusive statement can be made about whether that proximity to natural gas drilling actually causes birth defects or other health problems in babies and mothers.

Fracking is a controversial yet popular technique used to stimulate natural gas wells underground by injecting high-pressure water, sand, and chemicals miles-deep into subsurface rock, effectively cracking or “fracturing” it, making the gas easier to extract. It has been controversial in part because of how quickly the practice has spread in the United States, without much credible scientific information regarding the potential impact on public health.

Pennsylvania has had more than 6,000 hydraulic fracturing wells drilled within the last six years, and zero state studies on their health impacts. Because of the lack of research, it’s been increasingly hard to prove that families can be sickened by drilling.

Natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania has skyrocketed under Gov. Tom Corbett. He has expanded fracking in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, and in 2012 implemented a controversial state oil and gas law, known as Act 13, which severely restricts the ability of local governments to have control over drilling in their area. Multiple portions of the law have since been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

Monday, September 8, 2014

No Economy For Americans

Paul Craig Roberts

The Dow Jones stock average closed Friday at 17,137, despite the fact that the payroll jobs report was a measly 125,000 new jobs for August, an insufficient amount to keep up with the growth in the working age population.

The low 125,000 jobs figure is also inconsistent with the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ second estimate of second quarter 2014 US GDP growth of 4.2 percent–a figure beyond the capability of the present-day US economy.

Clearly, the economic numbers are out of sync with one another. They are also out of sync with reality.

One of the reasons the stock market average is high is the massive liquidity the Federal Reserve has pumped into the banking system since 2008. Instead of going into consumer inflation, the money went into stock and bond price inflation.

Another reason for the artificial high stock market is the multi-trillion dollar buy-back of their own stock by US corporations. Many of these corporations have even borrowed from the banks in order to drive up their share prices with heavy purchases, thus maximizing executive bonuses and the values of stock options for board members. In effect, they are looting their own firms by loading the companies with debt in order to drive up executive and board incomes.
The stock market’s rise is not because consumer incomes and real retail sales are growing. Real family median incomes have been falling, and real retail sales, at best, are flat.

Let’s look at the composition of the pathetic 125,000 new jobs, and then we will examine whether these jobs are real or make-believe. (Keep in mind that payroll jobs include part-time jobs and that the number of payroll jobs is not the number of people employed, because many Americans make ends meet by working two and even three jobs.)

As I have reported for many years, the US economy no longer is capable of creating goods producing jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics August payroll jobs report shows zero manufacturing jobs. I read the other day that the US now has four or five times more people on food stamps than in manufacturing jobs.
The jobs of the New Economy are in lowly paid, nontradable domestic services–the jobs that characterize a Third World Economy.

Perhaps reflecting the collapse of retail sales, retail trade lost 8,400 jobs in August.

“Professional and business services” accounted for 47,000 or 38% of August’s new jobs. Of these 47,000 new jobs, 49% consisted of “administrative and waste services,” largely temporary help services.

“Health care and social assistance” accounted for 42,700 or 34% of the new jobs of which 53% consists of “ambulatory health care services.”
Waitresses and bartenders accounted for 21,100 or 17% of the new jobs.

There were 8,000 new government jobs or 6% of the 125,000 new jobs.

That’s it. That is the job picture of “the world’s only superpower,” “the world’s largest economy,” “the world’s richest people.” It is the picture of employment in a Third World country.

And now for the real question: Are those 125,000 new jobs really there, or are they a statistical mirage? Statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) says the jobs are a mirage produced by “the changing seasonal adjustments within the concurrent-seasonal adjustment process used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics” and by the birth/death model, which assumes that many more unreported new jobs are created each month by new start-up businesses than are lost from unreported business closings. Williams says that without the gimmicks used by BLS to create jobs that are not there, the actual change in August payrolls “was a solid contraction in excess of 125,000 jobs.” In other words, the economy did not gain 125,000 jobs. It lost 125,000 jobs.

Beginning with the Clinton regime, the American economy has only worked for the One Percent, and it only works for them because the government makes the 99 percent bail out the One Percent. The American economy is an Aristocratic Economy that works for the government-privileged few, but not for anyone else. To understand this hard fact, read Nomi Prins book, All The Presidents’ Bankers.

Of course, the real figures are more like the Ten Percent and the 90 percent. The One Percent caught on, because the upper reaches of that one percent are all multi-billionaires with more money than a family could spend in multiple lifetimes.

The time has passed when American corporations had a sense of social responsibility. Two distinguished Americans writing in Daedalus, one of the few remaining publications not (yet) under corporate control, show that US corporations have become socially dysfunctional because they only serve shareholders and executives.

Historically in the US, corporations had responsibilities to their customers, employees, communities, and owners. In recent years this has been changed. Today corporations only have responsibilities to their shareholders. If profits go up, executives receive performance bonuses for serving shareholders.

Reducing executive success to one indicator has has enormous negative consequences for everyone else. Americans are suffering in many ways. Their jobs, both manufacturing and professional tradable services such as software engineering, have been moved offshore and given to foreigners. Americans have been deprived of interest income so that the former bank officials in charge of the US government can save the banks that deregulation permitted to over leverage with debt and risk.

The costs of customer service has been shifted to customers who lose large amounts of time waiting to connect with a live person who can correct the mistake the company has made. The unleashing of greed as the only business virtue and pressure from Wall Street for greater profits has caused many service providers, such as telephone and Internet, to forego maintenance and upgrade of facilities in order to hold down costs and boost profits. My telephone ceased to work on September 3, and my service provider lacks sufficient work crews to repair my line prior to the evening of September 8. Last year my Internet provider could not reestablish my Internet service for 10 days. If you call about a bill or a service problem, the companies keep you on the line forever awaiting a real person while they try to sell you new services even though the ones you have purchased don’t work.

Sufficient service crews to provide satisfaction for customers means higher costs, less profits, less shareholder earnings and less performance bonuses for managers. Guess who pays the price for the large rewards to owners and managers–the customers.

I remember the days of AT&T, a regulated monopoly. Everything worked. Any problem was fixed within two hours, barring a major catastrophe such as a hurricane or tornado. The telephone was answered no later than the third ring by a real person, not a voice recording, and the person who answered could fix any problem. There was no menu of a half dozen or dozen from which to select and to wait another quarter hour while being given sales pitches.

Profits made by imposing costs on customers are not legitimate profits.
Profits made by
relocating American jobs offshore are not legitimate profits. Profits achieved by bailouts of managerial mistakes by taxpayers who provide the bailout funds but don’t share in the bonuses are not legitimate profits.

Profits achieved by monopoly concentration, as now exists in the financial “services” industry, are not legitimate profits.

In America, franchises, chains, and big-box stores have destroyed a wide array of independent and family businesses that allowed enterprising Americans an independent existence.

Deregulated free-market America has created an economy that serves only the few, which explains the extraordinary concentration in the 21st century of income and wealth in fewer and fewer hands–another defining characteristic of a Third World country.

American capitalism has failed. It can no longer produce jobs for the work force, and its
profits come from its political ability to impose costs on the American population.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Guide to Middle Eastern Terror Groups ;-)


The Underbelly Of Corporate America: Insider Selling, Stock Buy-Backs, Dodgy Profits

The hollowing out of corporate strengths to enable short-term profiteering by the handful at the top leads to systemic fragility.
Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Anonymous comments on message boards must be taken with a grain of salt, but this comment succinctly captures the underbelly of Corporate America: massive insider selling, borrowing billions to buy back their own stocks to push valuations to the moon so shares granted as compensation can be sold for a fortune, and dodgy accounting strategies that boost headline profits and hide the gutting of investments in long-term growth.

Here's the comment:
"I’m occupying a vantage point that allows me to see what is going on inside the top Fortune 50 companies. I have never seen such rot before. Of the 50, at least 30 have debt at 120% of cash. Most have cut capex, R&D and maintenance by 80%. Most have been borrowing money to do stock buy-backs, while simultaneously selling off business units and doing layoffs.
 
Of the 50, at least 20 have 100% insider selling. For some, you would have to go back decades to find a point where all of the acting board of directors are selling. In essence, they are paying the mortgage with their credit cards. Without bookkeeping games, there are no solid earnings. There will be no earnings growth.
 
“Executive compensation based on stock performance” is killing corporate America.
 
A black swan is not needed to make it fall, a gentle breeze will do just fine."
(source message thread)
So let's try contesting these points.
 
Where is the data showing insiders buying hand over fist at these valuations?
 
Insider selling has been raising red flags since March 2014: In-the-know insiders are dumping stocks
 
Where is the data proving Corporate America isn't borrowing billions of dollars and using the nearly-free money to buy back shares? Buying back shares reduces the float (stocks available for purchase by the public), reducing supply and creating demand which pushes prices higher.
 
Stocks’ Biggest Gains Are an Inside JobCompanies spent $598.1 billion on stock buybacks last year, according to Birinyi Associates in Westport, Conn. That was the second highest annual total in history, behind only 2007, Birinyi calculated. The pace picked up in the first quarter of 2014, when companies spent $188 billion, the highest quarterly amount since 2007.
 
Where is the data showing Corporate America has added jobs?
 
Who actually creates jobs: Start-ups, small businesses or big corporations? During the 1990s, American multinational companies added 2.7 million jobs in foreign countries and 4.4 million in the United States. But over the following decade, those firms continued adding positions overseas (another 2.4 million) while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the United States.
 
As for dodgy accounting: when the dodgy accounting has been institutionalized, it's no longer viewed as dodgy. Which brings us to the money shot of the comment: “Executive compensation based on stock performance” is killing corporate America.
 
When executives and others at the top of the corporate pyramid have such an enormous incentive (stock options worth tens of millions of dollars) if they can push the stock price higher with buy-backs paid with borrowed money and accounting gimmicks that inflate headline earnings, then why wouldn't they do precisely that?
 
The profits are as bogus as the stock prices: both are relentlessly gamed to make sure fortunes can be reaped in a few years by those at the top.
 
As the comment noted, this hollowing out of corporate strengths to enable short-term profiteering by the handful at the top leads to systemic fragility. No shock is needed to bring down these fragile corporate structures: existing debt and the slightest tremor of global recession will be enough to topple the rickety facade.

30 Million Americans On Antidepressants And 21 Other Facts About America's Endless Pharmaceutical Nightmare

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/03/2014
New York Times
Reality


Submitted by Michael Snyder of End of The American Dream blog,

Has there ever been a nation more hooked on drugs than the United States?  And I am not just talking about illegal drugs – the truth is that the number of Americans addicted to legal drugs is far greater than the number of Americans addicted to illegal drugs.  As you will read about below, more than 30 million Americans are currently on antidepressants and doctors in the U.S. wrote more than 250 million prescriptions for painkillers last year.  Sadly, most people got hooked on these drugs very innocently.  They trusted that their doctors would never prescribe something for them that would be harmful, and they trusted that the federal government would never approve any drugs that were not safe.  And once the drug companies get you hooked, they often have you for life.  

You see, the reality of the matter is that some of these “legal drugs” are actually some of the most addictive substances on the entire planet.  And when they start raising the prices on those drugs, there isn’t much that the addicts can do about it.  It is a brutally efficient business model, and the pharmaceutical industry guards their territory fiercely.  Very powerful people will often do some really crazy things when there are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake.  The following are 22 facts about America’s endless pharmaceutical nightmare that everyone should know…

#1 According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans are currently taking antidepressants.
#2 The rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women is far higher than for the population as a whole.  At this point, one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.
#3 Americans account for about five percent of the global population, but we buy more than 50 percent of the pharmaceutical drugs.
#4 Americans also consume a whopping 80 percent of all prescription painkillers.
#5 It is hard to believe, but doctors in the United States write 259 million prescriptions for painkillers each year.  Prescription painkillers are some of the most addictive legal drugs, and our doctors are serving as enablers for millions up0n millions of Americans that find themselves hooked on drugs that they cannot kick.
#6 Overall, pharmaceutical drug use in America is at an all-time high.  According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.
#7 According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.
#8 In 2010, the average teen in the United States was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs.  Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#9 A very disturbing Government Accountability Office report found that approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug.
#10 An astounding 95 percent of the “experimental medicines” that the pharmaceutical industry produces are found not to be safe and are never approved.  Of the remaining 5 percent that are approved, we often do not find out that they are deadly to us until decades later.
#11 One study discovered that mothers that took antidepressants during pregnancy were four times more likely to have a baby that developed an autism spectrum disorder.
#12 It has been estimated that prescription drugs kill approximately 200,000 people in the United States every single year.
#13 An American dies from an unintentional prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes.  According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, accidental prescription drug overdose is “the leading cause of acute preventable death for Americans”.
#14 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#15 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#16 The number of prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States is five times higher than it was back in 1980.
#17 A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.
#18 More than 26 million women over the age of 25 say that they are “using prescription medications for unintended uses“.
#19 If all of these antidepressants are helping, then why are more Americans killing themselves?  The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 increased by nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2010.  The number of Americans that die by suicide is now greater than the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents every year.
#20 Antidepressant use has been linked to mass shootings in America over and over and over again, and yet the mainstream media is eerily quiet about this. Is it because they don’t want to threaten one of their greatest sources of advertising revenue?
#21 The amount of money that the pharmaceutical industry is raking in is astronomical.  It has been reported that Americans spent more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs during 2013.
If many of these drugs were not so addictive, the pharmaceutical companies would make a lot less money.  And pharmaceutical drug addicts often don’t fit the profile of what we think a “drug addict” would look like.  For example, CNN shared the story of a 55-year-old grandmother named Cynthia Scudo that become addicted to prescription painkillers…
For Scudo, her addiction began — as they all do — innocently enough.

She sought relief from hip pain, possibly caused by scarring from cesarean sections she had delivering several of her children.

Her then-husband recommended a physician.

“There was no physical therapy offered,” she said of the doctor’s visit. “The first reaction was, let’s give you some drugs.”

He put her on OxyContin.

By the second week, she was physically addicted.

She was popping so much of the painkiller and other drugs such as anti-anxiety Valium that they equated to a dosage for three men.
There is lots and lots of money to be made from addiction.  In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a totally separate nation it would actually be the 6th largest economy on the entire globe.  We are talking about piles of money larger than most people would ever dare to imagine.

And with so much money floating around, it is quite easy for the pharmaceutical industry to buy the cooperation of our politicians and of the media.

Some time when you are watching television in the evening, consciously take note of how often a pharmaceutical commercial comes on.

It has gotten to the point where we are literally being inundated with these ads.

They are already making hundreds of billions of dollars, and they think that there is room for even more growth.

The Truth about the American Economy

A Lie That Serves The Rich
Paul Craig Roberts, John Titus, and Dave Kranzler

The labor force participation rate has declined from 66.5% in 2007 prior to the last downturn to 62.7% today. This decline in the participation rate is difficult to reconcile with the alleged economic recovery that began in June 2009 and supposedly continues today. Normally a recovery from recession results in a rise in the labor force participation rate.

The Obama regime, economists, and the financial presstitutes have explained this decline in the participation rate as the result of retirements by the baby boomers, those 55 and older. In this five to six minute video, John Titus shows that in actual fact the government’s own employment data show that baby boomers have been entering the work force at record rates and are responsible for raising the labor force participation rate above where it would otherwise be.


It is not retirees who are pushing down the participation rate, but those in the 16-19 age group whose participation rate has fallen by 10.4%, those in the 22-14 age group whose participation rate has fallen by 5.4%, and those in the 24-54 age group whose participation rate is down 2.5%.

The offshoring of US manufacturing and tradable professional service jobs has resulted in an economy that can only create new jobs in lowly paid, increasingly part-time non-tradable domestic service jobs, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and ambulatory health care workers. These are not jobs that can support an independent existence. However, these jobs can supplement retirement incomes that have been hurt by many years of the Federal Reserve’s policy of zero or negative interest rates. Those who were counting on interest earnings on their savings to supplement their retirement and Social Security incomes have reentered the labor force in order to fill the gaps in their budgets created by the Fed’s policy. Unlike the young who lack savings and retirement incomes, the baby boomers’ economic lives are not totally dependent on the lowly-paid, part-time, no-benefits domestic service jobs.

Lies are told in order to make the system look acceptable so that the status quo can be continued. Offshoring America’s jobs benefits the wealthy. The lower labor costs raise corporate profits, and shareholders’ capital gains and performance bonuses of corporate executives rise with the profits. The wealthy are benefiting from the fact that the US economy no longer can create enough livable jobs to keep up with the growth in the working age population.

The clear hard fact is that the US economy is being run for the sole benefit of a few rich people.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Freedom From Speech

by Andrew Evans

August 31, 2014

Two and a half millennia ago, Aristotle made one of the most fundamental statements ever about human society: “Man is by nature a political animal.”
Aristotle meant more than that people group together for their survival and reproduction. People actually group together to strive for higher goods beyond mere preservation. This is politics—a community’s pursuit of a good life together.

And it is our speech that makes us political, Aristotle teaches. Through speech we communicate our needs, but we also argue about the deeper things—what is right and wrong, “the just and the unjust,” as Aristotle puts it. Politics is about governing society justly, and it is our speech, our rational discourse, that makes politics possible.

A brief new book by Greg Lukianoff, Freedom from Speech, sheds valuable light on what Aristotle sees as the foundation of our political nature. Lukianoff examines the state of free speech in our culture. He examines not the First Amendment, although as the head of the free-speech organization Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, he is certainly qualified to do so. Rather, Lukianoff examines “Free speech as a cultural value.”

And free speech is in decline. Freedom from Speech concisely lays out the ways that speech is being limited in America. Lukianoff begins by listing a number of high profile cases where figures had their reputations tarnished and even their livelihoods threatened because of things they said, sometimes in private. He then goes on to discuss a couple of noteworthy trends in academia where speech is being curtailed.

His book focuses on academia because universities are one of the most obvious places where speech is being limited. Both “trigger warnings” and commencement-speaker “dis-invitations” have made headlines in recent months. Lukianoff excoriates both of these trends with precision. They are attempts to limit what students hear, and thus what people say. By discussing the academy at some length, Lukianoff builds on his previous book from 2012, Unlearning Liberty, which examined the decline of free speech in universities.

But Lukianoff also notes that the university cannot be the sole source of curbs on free speech. “I continue to believe that the increased national focus on punishing offensive speech stems, in large part, from the ‘bleeding out’ of the bad intellectual habits of American higher education,” Lukianoff writes. “However, I do not think—nor have I ever thought—that blame for the erosion of support for the cultural value of freedom of speech can be laid entirely on the ivory tower.” The erosion of free speech in other Western countries, such as Britain, or countries with democratic values, such as India, demonstrates that the problem is deeper and more pervasive than the silly movements in universities.

Lukianoff sees a deeper and more disturbing problem in Western society. The modern age has led to the creation of tremendous wealth, and with it, tremendous comfort. But such comfort gives rise to complacency:

“A society in which people can avoid physical pain comparatively easily will produce people who are less prepared to deal with it.”

The same principle applies to mental comfort. “The same instinct is driving our rising desire for intellectual comfort, by which I mean a yearning to live in a relatively harmonious environment that does not present thorny intellectual challenges, and in which disagreement is downplayed or avoided altogether,” Lukianoff says.

And the result of this overwhelming drive for comfort is devastating for speech: “Eventually, they stop demanding freedom of speech and start demanding freedom from speech.”

Through much of his book, Lukianoff strives not to blame either the right or the left in contemporary politics for the decline in free speech. Freedom of speech is a deep issue that goes beyond any one party in a society like ours founded on the primacy of liberty. But he notes that the political left does have a basic tendency to assault speech.

Liberals, in general, are motivated fundamentally by empathy. While conservatives take their moral norms from a variety of places, such as traditional values and religion, “progressive morality is largely one-dimensional, driven primarily by the care ethic,” Lukianoff says. And because liberals just want people be happy and comfortable, he argues, they attack speech they deem offensive or threatening to others.

Lukianoff’s description of liberal morality provides a useful paradigm for understanding assaults on freedom of speech, especially in liberal epicenters like most universities. It does not always hold up—progressives champion graphic and explicit art, for example, that make people uncomfortable—but the morality of empathy helps explain a lot.

But this explanation, while sympathetic and surely often correct, misses a much darker aspect of the left’s social agenda.

The left feels empathy for people, but that empathy is not guided by any sense of what is right and good for people. Like Bill Clinton, the empathic left merely “feels their pain” and wants to end it. But this myopic focus on perceived harm validates all harm, labeling harms as threats to individual lives. Every pain inhibits an individual from living the life he wants to live, and so the left’s efforts to stop all pain ultimately means that it ends up supporting all choices, regardless of whether a choice is right or good for the individual or society at large. This “ethic of validation,” which often looks like the ethic of care, is the progressive vision for society.

Welfare work requirements are a good example of this ethic of validation. Before 1996, welfare recipients had to meet few, if any, requirements in order to receive aid from the government. Welfare simply alleviated physical suffering without regard to the actions the individual was taking—such as whether the individual was working. This approach to welfare is unmoored empathy at work in social policy.

Conservatives argued that work was fundamentally good for people, and as a result in 1996 the Republican Congress pushed through work requirements for welfare, tying government aid to either work or the pursuit of work. If able-bodied individuals did not pursue work, they did not receive help—even if they were suffering. The government still provided help, but the help did not simply support individuals’ choices of how they would live their lives. Welfare work requirements are shaped by a broader vision of what is fundamentally good for human life.

The progressive attempt to validate all lifestyle choices belies at best agnosticism, and at worst nihilism, toward the existence of an essential good for human life. In more Aristotelian terms, progressives deny that there is any end to human life—a goal or reason for living that should guide choices that individuals make.

Limits on speech result from this agnosticism, because speech can be very painful when it contradicts choices and exposes their insufficiency. But limiting speech makes politics much more difficult, if not impossible. 

If we cannot speak to each other about what is most important in life for fear of offending others and failing to validate their choices, we lose the ability to be political. We become detached individuals rather than a political community.

Freedom from Speech shows how speech is being curtailed and hollowed out in our society. By losing the freedom to reason with each other over difficult issues, we are becoming, in fact, less than human.

The Militarization of the Police Has Produced a Murder Machine

Paul Craig Roberts

Update: Here is a report on the autopsy of Michael Brown

The facts directly contradict the false information police apologists are sending around the Internet. Note that the Missouri governor blamed the violence on the black community, not on the police who enraged the black community by gratuitously murdering a black teenager. One reader suggested that the macho goon thug cops with their military gear should be sent to Iraq where ISIS would cut them to ribbons.

I wasn’t surprised at some of the crude comments and hatred expressed toward blacks that came from a few white male anti-immigration Republicans in response to my article Cops Gone Wild. A few were so choked with rage over a “fucking pinko-liberal-commie” who would take the side of a “black bully thief” over the police that they never read beyond the introductory comment about Ferguson. Criticizing police can ignite the same kind of hysterical hatred as criticizing the Israeli governments murders of Palestinians.

As readers know, I often emphasize that a significant percentage of the population is incapable of thought and rational response. They want to hear what they want to hear and go into a rage when they don’t. They read not to learn but to have their ignorant biases substantiated.

Perhaps this is the way Americans have always been. However, it seems to me that it is much worse today than I remember from earlier decades. However mindless Americans might have been in the past, they seem much more so today.

Indeed, the media seems to speak with one voice–the government’s. Even academic freedom has been terminated in universities. There are so many examples.

One of the most notorious examples is the case of Professor Norman Finkelstein, whose parents were holocaust survivors. Finkelstein, who is Jewish, is a distinguished scholar who became a high profile critic of Israel’s misguided and immoral policies toward the Palestinians. The Zionist Lobby was able to reach into DePaul University, a Catholic university, and cause the cowardly president to overrule the decision of the Political Science Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Personnel Committee, supported by the student body, to grant Finkelstein tenure.

Some suspect that the Zionist Lobby bought off the university president with promises of financial support for the university. Whether bribes were combined with threats, the university president, in my opinion, is a person devoid of integrity, and he drove a dagger through the heart of academic freedom and allowed Zionists to determine who receives tenure at DePaul University. Why parents would send their sons and daughters to such a university is beyond me.

Zionist attacks on American academic freedom are routine. Professor William Robinson of the University of California, Santa Barbara, tells the story of his experience with the Zionist Lobby on truth-out.org.

The Zionist Lobby’s unethical and immoral tactics create massive hostility toward Jews in general. From time to time I receive emails upbraiding me for refusing to blame everything wrong in the world on Jews. The extremism of Zionists prevents many critics of Jews from recognizing the fact that the strongest, most moral voices against Zionist extremism come from Jews themselves including some Israeli citizens and the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

Jewish critics of Israel’s behavior cannot be called “anti-semites.” The Zionist Lobby invented a new term for Jews afflicted by a moral conscience–”self-hating Jew.”

The Zionist Lobby with its ridiculous “enforcement organizations,” such as the ADL, by misusing the “anti-semite” accusation have made “anti-semite” and “self-hating Jew” badges of moral honor. Once upon a time “anti-semite” referred to a person who disliked Jews in general and perhaps wished harm to be inflicted on every Jew. Today “anti-semite” means a person who objects to illegal and immoral policies of the Zionist state, the government of which does not speak for all Jews or even for all Israelis.

Zionist focus on silencing their critics because Zionist policies cannot stand examination.

We see a similar response on the part of many Americans who rush blindly to the defense of the police whenever psychopaths with badges murder a black, a hispanic or a homeless person.

The gratuitous violence employed by police is no more justified than the gratuitous violence employed by the Israeli military toward Palestinians. “Law and order conservatives” confuse police accountability with the coddling of criminals and terrorists. They are unable to comprehend that unaccountable police are a greater threat to them than are criminals without badges.

This brief video, sent by a reader, shows how the militarization of US police has produced a murder machine.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

America’s Corrupt Institutions

Paul Craig Roberts

Every public institution in the United States and most private ones are corrupt.

To tell this story would be a multi-book task. Lawrence Stratton and I have written one small volume of the story. Our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, now with two editions and multiple printings, documents the corruption of law in the United States and has been cited in rulings by Federal District and Appeal Court judges.
Law is just one public institution, but it is a corner stone of society. When law goes, everything goes.

Only about 4 percent of federal felony cases go to trial. Almost all, 96 percent, are settled by negotiated plea bargains. Law & Order Conservatives condemn plea bargains for the wrong reason. They think plea bargains let criminals off easy.

In fact, plea bargains are used by prosecutors to convict the innocent along with the guilty. Plea bargains eliminate juries and time-consuming trials, that is, plea bargains eliminate all work on the part of prosecutors and police and lead to high conviction rates for prosecutors, the main indicator of their career success. Once upon a time, prosecutors pursued justice. They carefully examined police investigations and only indicted suspects whose conviction they thought could be obtained by a jury. Sloppy police work was discarded.

No more. Once indicted and provided with a lawyer, the defendant learns that his lawyer has no intention of defending him before a jury. The lawyer knows that the chances of getting even a totally innocent defendant found not guilty is slim to non-existent. Prosecutors, with the consent of judges, suborn perjury for which they are permitted to pay with money and dropped charges against real criminals, and prosecutors routinely withhold evidence favorable to the defendant. If a prosecutor detects that a defendant intends to fight, the prosecutor piles on charges until the defendant’s lawyer convinces the defendant that no jury will dismiss all of so many charges and that the one or two that the jury convicts on will bring a much longer sentence than the lawyer can negotiate. The lawyer tells the defendant that if you go to trail, you will be using up the time of prosecutors and judges, and the inconvenience that you cause them will send you away for many a year.

In some state and local courts it is still possible on occasion to get an almost fair trial if you can afford an attorney well enough connected to provide it. But even in non-federal courts the system is stacked against the defendant. Many prisons have been privatized, and privatized prisons require high incarceration rates in order to be profitable. The same holds for juvenile detention prisons. Not long ago two Pennsylvania judges were convicted for accepting payments from private detention prisons for each kid they sentenced.

Judges prefer plea bargains despite the fact that plea bargains amount to self-incrimination, because plea bargains dispense with time-consuming trials that cause backed-up and crowded court dockets. Trials also demand far more work on the part of a judge than accepting a plea bargain.

The fact of the matter is that in America today you are expected to convict yourself. Even your lawyer expects it. The torture is not physical; it is psychological. The system is severely biased against the defendant. Conviction by a jury brings a much heavier sentence than conviction by a deal that the defendant’s attorney negotiates with the prosecutor’s office. All the prosecutor wants is a conviction. Give him his conviction for his record as an effective prosecutor, and you get off lighter.

The injustice lies in the fact that the rule applies to the innocent as well as to the guilty.
The prosecutor and often the judge do not care whether you are innocent or guilty, and your lawyer knows that it does not matter to the outcome.

The police have learned that such a small number of cases go to trial that their evidence is seldom tested in court. Consequently, often police simply look for someone who might have committed the crime based on past criminal records, select someone with a record, and offer him or her up as the perpetrator of the crime. This police practice is one explanation for high recidivism rates.

In the totally corrupt American criminal justice (sic) system, anyone indicted, no matter how innocent, is almost certain to be convicted.

Let’s take the case of Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. Judging by the reported evidence in the media and testimony by those familiar with the case, Don Siegelman, a popular Democratic governor of Alabama was a victim of a Karl Rove operation to instruct Democrats that their political party would not be permitted a comeback in executive authority in the Republican South.

There is no doubt but that the Alabama Republican newspapers and TV stations are political tools. And there is little doubt that former Republican US Attorneys Alice Martin and Leura Canary and Republican US federal district court judge Mark Fuller were willing participants in Karl Rove’s political campaign to purge the South of popular democrats.

Republican US district court judge Mark Fuller was arrested in Atlanta this month for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel. The judge, in whose honor courts must rise, was charged with battery and taken to the Fulton County jail at 2:30AM Sunday morning August 10. If you look at the mug shot of Mark Fuller, he doesn’t inspire confidence. http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10748 Fuller was a bitter enemy of Siegelman and should have recused himself from Siegelman’s trial, but ethical behavior required more integrity than Fuller has.

Among many, Scott Horton, a professor of law at Columbia University has provided much information in Harper’s magazine involving the corruption of Fuller and the Republican prosecuting attorneys, Alice Martin and Leura Canary. See: http://harpers.org/blog/2008/02/another-abusive-prosecution-by-alice-martin/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2008/02/cbs-more-prosecutorial-misconduct-in-siegelman-case-alleged/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2007/08/judge-fuller-and-the-trial-of-don-siegelman/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2007/06/siegelman-sentenced-riley-rushes-to-washington/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2007/10/karl-rove-linked-to-siegelman-prosecution/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2007/12/karl-rove-william-canary-and-the-siegelman-case/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2008/02/rove-and-siegelman/ and http://harpers.org/blog/2007/08/the-pork-barrel-world-of-judge-mark-fuller/ and see OpEdNews February 6, 2012, “Why did Karl Rove and his GOP Thugs target Don Siegelman in Alabama?” and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bennett-l-gershman/why-is-don-siegelman_b_3094147.html

Google the case and you will see everything but justice.

The Republican frame-up of Siegelman is so obvious that various courts have overturned some of the bogus convictions. But the way “justice” works in America makes courts fearful of discrediting the criminal justice (sic) system by coming down hard on an obvious frame-up. To make the fact obvious that federal courts are used for political reasons is detrimental to the myth of justice in which gullible Americans believe.

Siegelman’s innocence is so obvious that 113 former state attorneys general have come out in his support. These attorneys general together with federal judges and members of Congress have written to Obama and to US attorney general Eric Holder urging Siegelman’s release from prison. Instead of releasing the innocent Siegelman, Obama and Holder have protected the Republican frameup of a Democratic governor.

Remember, what did President George W. Bush do when his vice president’s chief aid was convicted for the felony of revealing the name of a secret CIA operative? Bush wiped out the sentence of Cheney’s convicted operative. He remained convicted, but served no sentence.

Remember, President George H. W. Bush’s administration pardoned the neoconservative criminals in the Reagan administration who were convicted by the Reagan administration for crimes related to Iran-Contra.

So why hasn’t the Obama regime pardoned former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman who unlike other pardoned parties is actually innocent? Siegleman was bringing the Democratic Party back in the corrupt Republican state of Alabama. He was a successful governor who would have been US senator, and Karl Rove apparently exterminated him politically in order to protect the Republican hold on the South.

It is extremely ironic that the formerly solid Democratic South, plundered, looted, and raped by Republican armies, votes Republican. If anything shows the insouciance of a people, the South’s Republican vote is the best demonstration. The South votes for a party that destroyed the South and its culture. There is no greater evidence of a people totally ignorant of, or indifferent to, their history than the Southern people who vote Republican.

Obama can’t pardon Siegelman, which Justice requires, because Obama cannot confront the self-protective mechanism in the Justice (sic) Department. Obama is too weak of a person to stand up for Justice. Obama has acquiesced to the Republican and DOJ frame-up of a popular Democratic Governor.

Justice in America? It is not worth 5 cents on the New York stock exchange.

If you want to stand up for justice, click here: http://www.gofundme.com/Railroading-Don-Siegelman

Police are as remote from concerns of justice as are prosecutors. Generally speaking, while there might be a few exceptions, the ranks of the police seem to be filled with violent psychopaths. The police seldom show any self-control and their violent nature makes police a great threat to society. Invariably, police bring violence to the scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlY9C6pzxKc

Killing unarmed black men seems to be a police specialty. http://truth-out.org/news/item/25815-lapd-refusal-to-release-information-on-in-custody-deaths-feeds-community-mistrust

Assaults and killings by police seldom make it beyond the local news. The lack of national coverage of crimes committed by police against the public leaves Americans with the incorrect impression that the use of excessive force by police is an occasional and unfortunate result but not a real problem. Police apologists say that an occasional mistake is the price of being safe. But police violence is an expression of police culture, not an unfortunate mistake, and what we hear is only the tip of the iceberg. http://rare.us/story/5-reasons-the-police-brutality-in-ferguson-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg/

The large number of violent acts that police commit against members of the public are not entirely the fault of the police. It is well known that bullies and psychopaths are attracted to the power over others conveyed by a police badge. Considering this known fact, police should receive training in anger management. Instead, they are trained to regard the public as an enemy against whom the police should take no chances. Police are trained to subdue a suspect with violence and question the suspect later when the suspect is under control in jail. This procedure means that even those who are totally innocent bear all the risks of being confronted by police.

Governments, media, and citizens are also responsible. They have allowed police to be militarized and to be inappropriately trained. Indeed, city, county, state, and federal governments have removed all barriers to the use of excessive force by police. Handed such power, the police use it.

In response to my column about Ferguson, former police officers wrote to me to report that they left the police force because they could not accept the culture of violence that is now ingrained in police departments. What these former police officers could not accept causes no problem for the Fox “News” talking heads. http://rare.us/story/jon-stewart-returns-with-powerful-ferguson-monologue-aimed-at-fox-news/

Can police departments be cleansed of their violent culture? Can prosecutors serve justice instead of career? Can Fox “News” talking heads cease being racists? Don’t hold your breath.

The Daily Show - Race/Off


The Gulf of Mexico Is Still Dying

Posted on July 29, 2014 by Radiant Life Foundation

Pathogenic Micro-organisms Proliferate Due
To Polluted And Poisoned GOM ‘Bioterrain’

by Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Cyber-Conference

There have been several significant developments over the past few decades in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) which now require special and immediate attention.  The multitude of oil spills — both large and small — require extraordinary remediation measures, as well as the application of safe and proven technologies which will not make the existing hydrocarbon pollution worse. There are other major sources of water pollution in the GOM which have also became apparent, particularly since the eye-opening 2010 BP oil spill.

The Gulf of Mexico is Dying: A Special Report On The BP Gulf Oil Spill
The BP Gulf Oil Spill drew the world’s attention to the GOM for a variety of reasons. The sheer volume of oil spilt was unprecedented, as were its profound and lasting effects on a large geographic area.  Because it occurred in such a large body of water, many population centers were adversely impacted as they continue to be up to this very day.  However, it was the incompetent and negligent oil spill response from BP that received the justified scrutiny of the entire world.

Some have since advanced the notion that global oil spill response has been forever changed for the better, because of how profoundly BP mismanaged the spill for all to see. In this regard, they speak of a literal sea change regarding the methodologies and modalities, process and procedure, science and technology that are now accepted by many of the nations of the world.

The entire world watched in horror as millions of gallons of the dispersant Corexit were used to ‘disappear’ the gushing oil in the Macondo Prospect throughout 2010 and beyond.  Disappearing the oil actually meant sinking it, after micronizing it, so that both BP and  the US Federal Government could be ‘applauded’ for a successful response.  However, the known health risks/dangers and environmental damage caused by Corexit became so well publicized that it has now been banned in those countries which have learned from the BP fiasco.  The following article provides more details in this regard.

Dispersant Use Like Corexit Sees Precipitous Decline Worldwide
The single revelation about the ramped up toxicity of Corexit-treated oil served to awaken many stakeholders about the safety of dispersant use in our coastal waters. More importantly, this issue also triggered a variety of concerns about the overall condition of the Gulf of Mexico.  Residents along the GOM coast, business owners, annual vacationers, property owners and the like began to research and discover the true state of the Gulf.

It was through a confluence of many disparate circumstances during the gushing, “ginormous”  oil volcano which brought to light the following critical observations about the overall status of the Gulf of Mexico. These various perceptions and insights, when considered in the aggregate and within a much larger context, have allowed to surface an assessment of the GOM which can no longer be denied or ignored.

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What are the major factors contributing to the unrelenting degradation of the Gulf of Mexico?
We need to look no further than the mouth of mighty Mississippi River to assess some of the most obvious causes of the relentless destruction of the GOM. If one just considers what the Mississippi River dumps into the GOM on a daily basis, it is easier to grasp the enormity of the problems confronting every stakeholder. The most obvious types of pollution entering the GOM are conveyed in vast amounts from various sources throughout the American heartland. Countless kinds of harmful contaminants and toxic chemicals find their way into the Gulf via the Mississippi which comes from many different sources.

This mighty river and it’s many tributaries carry a tremendous chemical burden in the form of industrial waste, as well as rain runoff laden with every chemical imaginable from suburbia and cityscapes alike.  Agribusiness has seen to it that enormous amounts of chemical fertilizers and soil fortifiers, pesticides and insecticides, mosquitocides and larvicides, fungicides and herbicides, weedkillers and defoliants, bovine growth hormone and animal antibiotics end up in the Mississippi. Likewise, a whole assortment of pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter medications, nutraceutical products, as well as all the chemical compounds utilized in the typical American household eventually find their way into the sewers of the nation’s midsection.

When you add the untold volumes of leaked oil and gas into the mix in the undersea Mississippi Canyon by way of manmade oil spills, natural leaks and seeps, drilling mud and other highly toxic chemicals used by the Oil & Gas Industry, methane burps, undersea mud volcanoes, and the increasing vaporization of methane hydrates, an alarming picture starts to take shape.

Oil & Gas Industry Produces Humongous Amounts Of Pollution In The GOM 
Just as each human body possesses its own very unique environmental profile, so, too, does the Gulf of Mexico.  From the preceding description of what the Gulf of Mexico is routinely exposed to, it is now incontestable that, as a body of water, the GOM cannot avoid being extremely polluted and only getting worse by the year.  In addition to what the Mississippi incessantly dumps into the GOM, Oil & Gas Industry operations are responsible for enormous amounts of pollution.

If the BP Gulf Oil Spill taught us nothing else, it is that oil and gas drilling operations conducted in the GOM 24/7 produce an extraordinary number of predicaments in which severe pollution is produced, and then dispersed to the four corners of the Gulf.  Not only is the actual process of drilling a very dirty one, the subsequent transport, refinement and utilization of the oil and gas creates myriad opportunities for pollutants, toxins, contaminants, poisons and chemicals to further pollute the GOM.

Environmental and Health Impacts of the BP Gulf Oil Spill
However, this is just one component of the ever-worsening condition of the GOM.  The incessant utilization of drilling mud (also known as drilling fluids) has greatly contributed to the current state of degradation of the entire Gulf Of Mexico.  The traditional drilling locations off the coast of Louisiana and Texas are by far the most polluted and perhaps irremediable.  However, even the coastlines of Florida are vulnerable to the migration of hydrocarbon affluent and drilling fluids.

The components of drilling mud are much less about mud, and more about other highly corrosive and toxic chemicals which are necessary to do a very difficult job.  During any drilling operation in the GOM where copious amounts of drilling mud are utilized, there is effectively no way of containing it or disposing it once it is released.  Hence, the GOM seafloor and sub-seafloor geological formations have been exposed to constant injections of drilling mud since use first began decades ago.

The following link entitled “Drilling fluids and health risk management” contains a 9 page list of components found in drilling fluids in Appendix 8 under the title:

“Detailed health hazard information on drilling fluid components”
A close reading of this material reveals an extraordinary number of highly toxic pollutants which can eventually find there way into the water columns, the wetlands, the estuaries, and onto the beaches, etc.

maap


Decades of  High Intensity Oil Drilling Operations Have Created A Toxic GOM Environment
The sheer number of oil wells drilled throughout the GOM since the early 1930s is quite staggering.  Each of those wells is either active or inactive.  With each well that is drilled, there are opportunities for hydrocarbon effluent to escape into the GOM.  After wells are capped there are also many situations that can, and do, develop whereby a bad well can allow for a steady leak of hydrocarbon effluent into the GOM.

screen-shot-2012-04-19-at-8-49-17-am


The BP Gulf Oil Spill demonstrated how a blown well can present a predicament that simply cannot be fixed (See preceding diagram).  Depending on just how large an oil reserve has been drilled into, hydrocarbon effluent can leak into the Gulf of Mexico into perpetuity.  There is also the ever-present risk associated with all capped wells leaking.  These are also subjected to undersea earthquakes and other seismic activity, undersea volcanoes and mud volcanoes, as well as hydrothermal vents and other fissures which can open up anywhere at any time.

The preceding discussion provides only a glimpse into some of the various co-factors which are responsible for contributing considerable amounts of pollution to the total toxic load borne by the Gulf of Mexico every day … of every week … of every year … over many decades.  Because of the inordinate political pressures operating at the federal level to make the USA completely energy independent, the push to “drill, drill and drill more” has only increased.

U.S. Agrees to Allow BP Back Into Gulf Waters to Seek Oil – NYTimes.com
Event the Atlantic Seaboard is being opened to oil and gas exploration so powerful is the Oil & Gas Industry lobby in DC.

Obama opens Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration – US News

What’s it all mean?
It means many things to those who live, work and play along the GOM coastline.  Because of the speed of deterioration of the environmental profile of the Gulf, fishing in the waters, swimming in the bayous, sunning on the beaches is no longer what it used to be.  The proliferation of pollution via so many vectors of dissemination has increased the concentration of dangerous chemicals and other toxins so much that the GOM must be looked at through different lens, henceforth.

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The State Of The Bioterrain Always Dictates The Most Likely Outcomes
In virtually every article that has been published in the mainstream media over the past decade about the many deaths and serious illnesses that have been directly linked to the GOM, there is often a qualification about the individual who died or who became seriously ill or diseased. Deliberate reference is made to the strength (or lack thereof) of the immune systems of those who passed or took ill.  This leaves the reader with the false impression that only those with weakened immune systems are vulnerable to pathogenic micro-organisms like Vibrio vulnificus.

While it’s true that a fisherman who is immuno-compromised is more susceptible to serious infection should he enter the waters with open wounds, it is also true that any individual with open wounds or sores can be easily infected by Vibrio.  Because the concentrations of various chemicals and contaminants in various regions of the GOM is at an all time high, the human body is only so equipped to efficiently process them.  Therefore, the bioterrain of any person will be affected, no matter how strong their constitution is.  Or, how clean their bioterrain is.  Or, how efficiently their immune system is functioning.

What is being proposed here is that the more resonance that occurs between the human body and the GOM body of water during swimming, fishing, snorkeling, and boating activities, the greater the likelihood of adverse health consequences.  For those oyster fisherman, who also eat raw oysters, the risks increase exponentially.  Especially those whose bioterrains have been degraded through an unhealthy lifestyle, there will be more and more serious medical repercussions from imprudent and/or ill-advised activity in the GOM.


Mississippi fisherman loses arm to Vibrio flesh-eating bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico
Mississippi fisherman loses arm to Vibrio flesh-eating bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico


Soaring Vibrio Vulnificus Infections Reveal The Degree Of Resonance Between The GOM Body Of Water And The Human Body

The spate of articles over the past few years regarding the flesh-eating bacteria incidents coming out of the GOM clearly indicate an evolving predicament which no one in government — federal, state, or local — or from industry, want to address in any meaningful way.  When people are regularly getting sick — VERY SICK — to the point of dying from Vibrio vulnificus infections, it does not reflect well on the various branches of government which are responsible for ensuring public safety and addressing serious public health concerns.

Flesh-eating Vibrio bacteria at seasonal peak in South Mississippi waters
Likewise, the many businesses and industries which rely on the GOM are no longer inclined to trumpet serious health alerts, such as the rising incidence of Vibrio infections. Simply put, it’s bad for business.  Whether you’re a fisherman or boat manufacturer,  hotel owner or tour boat operator, a sick Gulf of Mexico does not look good on the front pages of the newspapers.  This is especially true in the middle of the intractable recession that the Southeast economy has been stuck in since 2008.

The same is true for the homeowners and commercial property developers, particularly the wealthy, whose mansions dot the coastline from the Florida Keys to the southeastern coastline of Texas.  They simply don’t want to hear that there are tar balls washing up on their secluded beaches, especially when those tar balls contain high numbers of Vibrio vulnificus.  Or, that red tide is showing up off their coasts.  Schools of dead fish, or dead dolphins, or dead whales washing up on their sandy shores are also an extremely undesirable image.  Especially when property values can plummet were the true condition of the waters to be publicized.


Not Only Pathogenic Bacteria Like Vibrio, Red Tide Also Proliferates In Polluted GOM

Vibrio is only one of numerous pathogenic micro-organisms which will proliferate in such a conducive environment as the GOM.  There are many others, such as Alexandrium fundyense (the algae that causes Red tide), which also seek out an imbalanced aquatic environment in which to thrive.  Over time there is expected to be a steady rise in the incidence of these and other water borne pathogens and ailments which originate in a degraded GOM.

Red tide has been visiting the Gulf Coast for many years now, except that the outbreaks have become increasingly more severe and affecting larger areas.  Emergency room visits have seen a marked increase during full blown Red tide blooms.  So have schools of fish and manatees and other marine life seen a considerable uptick in their mass killings by Red tide.  The released toxins during a Red tide event are especially deadly to many kinds of fish.

Red Tide blamed for large fish kill in northeast Gulf of Mexico

Florida sees record 803 manatee deaths; red tide blamed

Here’s what the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has to say about Red tide, also known as harmful algal blooms, or HABs.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 12.38.03 PM

The Gulf of Mexico has a bioterrain, too!  
What NOAA will not tell you about Red tide is that there are circumstances beyond certain environmental conditions which encourage this highly toxic algae to bloom.  Just like the human bioterrain, when the intestinal flora becomes imbalanced, the opportunistic candida albicans fungus will colonize within the GI tract and overtake the eugenic bacteria required for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.  If allowed to persist without proper intervention, systemic candidiasis can result, which can ultimately give rise to a pre-cancerous condition in the various target organs and tissues weakened by the pathogenic, mutated candida.

Likewise, when the GOM’s normal balance of both eugenic and pathogenic micro-organisms is thrown off, a similar set of circumstances can result.  Dangerous invasions of flesh-eating bacteria, toxic algae blooms and other health-compromising, microscopic inhabitants will likewise proliferate.  The more polluted the waters, the higher the frequency of their appearance, especially closer to shore because of the warmer waters which prevail there; where it’s shallow, the sun reflects off the sea bottom and warms the waters.

Of course, this is exactly where much of the swimming, water sports, fishing and other GOM activities take place.  The bayous and lagoons, bays and estuaries, wetlands and swamps often function as traps for much of the pollution which is systematically produced within and/or dumped into the GOM.  Because the normal circulation of these areas can be significantly limited at times (such as when the Loop Current stalls), they create an opportunity for the many toxic chemicals, hydrocarbon contaminants, industrial pollutants, and poisonous dispersants to both aggregate and densify.  In so doing, they eventually create an hospitable environment for pathogenic micro-organisms to propagate and flourish.

Nothing demonstrates this concept better than the existence of multiple dead zones throughout the GOM.  The following map delineates only those dead zone areas south of the Mississippi River, which have been the site of intensive oil and gas drilling since the early 1930s.  Were the entire Gulf of Mexico to be similarly mapped out, the resulting dead zones would be shown to be growing in both numbers and size, particularly over the past many years that deep sea oil drilling has been intensifying.

Dead zone pollutant grows despite decades of work

daedzone-fall11
Dead Zones in the Gulf of Mexico south of Louisiana coastline

Radioactive Component Of Hydrocarbon Effluent and Refinement Process

The following excerpt provides a cursory explanation of the radioactive components associated with both the oil and gas extraction process in deep wells, as well as the oil and gas refinement process.  This is the real untold story of the Hydrocarbon Fuel Paradigm, and why it is so fatally flawed.  If the community of nations properly responded to this weighty matter alone, they would have begun the process of systematically transitioning the world away from the Hydrocarbon Fuel Paradigm.

If the reader pays attention to nothing else in this essay, be advised that pervasive ionizing radiation disseminated by oil and gas extraction operations worldwide is the most critical issue that must be addressed.  The very sustainability of life on Planet Earth depends upon it, especially the deeper the oil wells are drilled in desperation of finding the next motherlode of hydrocarbon reserves.  As follows:
“The deeper the geological source of the hydrocarbons, the more radioactive isotopes present in the oil and gas.
That hydrocarbons pulled from the bowels of the earth have a scientifically verified radioactive component(s) is the dirty little secret of the Oil & Gas Industry. So secret in fact that, if it were to get out, this single scientific fact would seal the fate of the entire industry. It also undergirds the correct understanding that oil and gas are both abiotic in nature and abiogenic in origin – facts which cast a refreshing light on the notion of Peak Oil.
Yes, we have reached Peak Oil, but not because of the untenable Fossil Fuel Theory which has been known to be false by the Oil and Gas Industry since its inception. It has been asserted that the Macondo Prospect sits on a reservoir of abiotic oil the size of Mount Everest, one of the two largest batholiths with proven oil and gas mega-reserves in the GOM. However, that doesn’t make it economically feasible or technologically prudent to extract; nor is it smart to engage in such utter folly, as the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon dramatically demonstrated.
Mantle-generated hydrocarbons come from very young geological formations deep in the earth, and are the product of extremely powerful geo-thermal forces. The presence of radioactive isotopes such as uranium, thorium, radium show up in much greater concentrations the deeper the well bore is drilled into the earth’s crust, and are ubiquitous throughout the mantle.
Therefore, the hydrocarbon constituents, which are actually found in the interstitial spaces, porous rock formations and quaternary sediments and are scattered everywhere because of their liquid and gaseous states, exist within and around this highly radioactive environment.
How radioactive is the hydrocarbon effluent upsurging from the wells in the GOM that are drilled at 12, 15, 18, 20, 25 or 30,000 feet through the crust and into the mantle? Here’s a link to the American Petroleum Institute website that will partially answer this question:
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORMin North American Oilfields
Here’s another link to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website page entitled Radiation Protection that shows just how serious this matter has become from an environmental health standpoint.
Oil and Gas Production Wastes (Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials identified by the EPA)
Whenever there is a higher concentration of methane gas in the mix of oil/gas that comes out of any given well, it means that:
“The more methane that is present reflects the amount of Uranium and Thorium in the oil reserve. The deeper the oil, the younger the radiological decay is that produces helium.”
“Helium is a naturally occurring gas formed in oil reserves. So common that helium detectors have been used to discover oil reserves. Helium is an inert gas known to be a by-product from the radiological decay of uranium and thorium. Uranium and Thorium are known to be in great quantities at greater depths. Yes, radioactive elements occur naturally and can be found and detected in smaller amounts in shallow oil reserves. Oil reserves that do not produce large amounts of methane also lack uranium and thorium. The presence of methane is proportional to the presence of uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements.”
“The energy coming from uranium and thorium decay is thought to be the most significant energy source inside the earth,” Tolich said. “So this is the driving engine for things such as tectonic plate movements, volcanoes and earthquake. We are looking for neutrinos, particularly electron antineutrinos … coming from uranium and thorium decay inside the earth. The uranium and thorium is distributed all through the earth in the mantle.” (Per “URGENT: Radioactive Oil From BP Blowout“)
Uranium, thorium neutrino research could determine Earth’s age, energy production
From our many discussions with those knowledgeable at the OSATF (Oil Spill Academic Task Force) in Tallahassee, FL, it became evident early on in the spill that the percentage of methane of the total hydrocarbon composition was quite high. Some observed that it appeared to very slowly decrease, yet remained high right up until the capping of the gusher. Hence, we know that this oil spill in the GOM has a very definite radioactive component which must be addressed.”[1]
Oil rig fires like the Macondo explosion can disseminate airborne radioactive particles depending on the source of the hydrocarbons.

Oil rig fires like the Macondo explosion can disseminate airborne radioactive particles depending on the source of the hydrocarbons.

Conclusion:
The basic story is that the Gulf of Mexico is slowly dying.  How and why it is dying is not a narrative the EPA, CDC, US Coast Guard or NIH is ever likely to publish.  Taken to the next level of understanding, it becomes quite obvious that the predominant environmental profile of the geographic location in which we live will always be reflected by our own individual bioterrain (environmental profile).  If an individual lives near Fukushima for any length of time, then radiation will show up in their body.  If they work and play downwind from a biomass incinerator, those airborne contaminants will in time accumulate in his or her body.

Likewise, the GOM has its own environmental profile which affects all who live near it, work in or on it, as well as eat the catch from its waters.  Even those who live at a distance can be affected by the GOM’s chemical profile to the extent that the regional hydrological cycle brings moisture and chemicals (remember Acid Rain) from the GOM over their homes and businesses.  The massive spraying of Corexit throughout the Gulf has only exacerbated this situation to the extent that such dispersants are still permitted to ‘disappear’ both new and old oil spills.

Although the first responsibility of government is to safeguard and protect the citizenry, this rarely happens in contemporary society.  Because of the overwhelming power and influence that Corporate America now exerts at very level of government, corporate profits and income lines almost always trump human health concerns and environmental protection[2].  Similarly, the shareholders’ interests, even when in a distant land, often take precedence over the welfare of the local communities which are deeply affected by environmentally-destructive corporate behavior.

In closing, it is indisputable that the Gulf of Mexico will continue to absorb a toxic burden well beyond its capacity to effectively process.  As the dead zones enlarge and start to merge with each other, perhaps the people who depend on this great body of water will reach a breaking point.  Only when there is a sufficient level of collective intolerance will the forces, and resources, become available to start taking back our Gulf.



Submitted by:
Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Cyber-Conference
International Citizens’ Initiative
July 27, 2014

Author’s Note:

Of all the major co-factors contributing to the slow motion demise of the Gulf of Mexico, none is so easily removed from this progressively worsening scenario as the wanton and indiscriminate spraying of the dangerous dispersant Corexit.  The continuing use of this noxious chemical has only made a bad situation much worse.  In addition to sinking the oil that it is designed to disperse, Corexit converts the oil into a much more toxic form.

The oil dispersal process also micronizes the Corext-laden byproduct so that it is impossible to see and very difficult detect, making it resistant to the traditional methods of gathering the oil for other types of disposal.  This “out of sight, out of mind” approach is an essential part of the BP Advertising Campaign[3] that appears on virtually every website on the internet, which is even remotely connected to the Gulf oil spill or the GOM.  In this regard BP’s actual response to their 2010 oil spill has been all form and very little substance, except the oily kind.

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As a glaring testimony to this hapless reality, both BP and the EPA have been repeatedly made aware of a non-toxic, environmentally safe, cost-effective bioremediation agent known as OSEII.  This hydrocarbon remediation agent has been proven effective on a broad range of oil spills throughout the world and is fast replacing the dispersant class of treatments.  Nations near and far have been outlawing the application of dispersants since the BP Gulf Oil Spill and now eagerly replacing it with bioremediation agents such as OSEII.

That the EPA, NOAA, US Coast Guard, and the Department of Interior would permit the reflexive use of such a harmful dispersant like Corexit when far superior alternatives exist — which have been NCP-listed —  defies common sense.  It also violates the EPA’s charter, most basic regulations and stated policies.  Clearly, it is well past the time that EPA administrators ought to be held personally responsible for breaking the laws which govern the environmental protection of US territorial waters.

Lastly, the Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Cyber-Conference would ask each and every reader to watch the following video. This very impressive presentation provides an actual demonstration of OSEII being used to clean up some shoreline oil. The broad dissemination of such an effective use of a bioremediation agent, being successfully utilized by nations around the globe, might just compel the US Federal Government to reconsider their misguided and environmentally unsound oil spill response plan.

Endnotes:
[1] The Gulf of Mexico is Dying: A Special Report On The BP Gulf Oil Spill
[2] Environmental and Health Impacts of the BP Gulf Oil Spill
[3] The BP Gulf Oil Spill Info Blackout And Data Lockdown

Resources:

Drilling Fluids and Heath Risk Management — a guide for drilling personnel, managers and health professionals in the oil and gas industry
(See “Appendix 11: Potential health effects that may result from exposure to certain components of drilling fluids”)
Change Oil Spill Response Now!

References:
The BP Gulf Oil Spill Continues To Sicken People Along The GOM
In-Depth: The Gulf Is Still Sick
BP oil spill dispersants still in environment
Warm Water Sparks Flesh-Eating Disease Warning in Florida
VIBRIO VULNIFICUS: Flesh-eating ocean bacteria hospitalizes 32, kills 10 in Florida
Flesh-eating Bacteria: Coastal Scourge (Vibrio vulnificus) is Lurking in the Estuaries
FWC News Release: Red tide causes large fish kill in northeast Gulf of Mexico
As Summer Officially Begins, A 1,250-Pound Tar Mat Discovered Off Florida Beach
Will Bacterial Plague Follow Crude Oil Spill Along Gulf Coast?
Deadly Bacteria Lurk in Deepwater Horizon Tar Balls
Woman loses leg after Gulf swim
Two Baldwin Co. Cases of Flesh Eating Bacteria
St. Johns River tests positive for flesh-eating bacteria
A bacteria that causes illnesses found in Indian River Lagoon
7 cases of flesh-eating bacteria reported so far this year in Miss.
Ocean Springs man dies from flesh eating bacteria