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Member since: 2002
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Pennsylvania Attorney General files criminal charges against XTO Energy

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed criminal charges against XTO Energy Inc., a division of Exxon Mobil, for a 2010 spill of gas well wastewater in Lycoming County.

A grand jury agreed with Ms. Kane's assessment that XTO violated the Clean Streams Law and the Solid Waste Management Act, and the company will be tried in Lycoming County under the attorney general's environmental crimes section.

Texas-based XTO vowed to fight the allegations and called the criminal charges "unprecedented, baseless and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion."

In July, XTO signed a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice over the same incident, which carried a $100,000 fine and required the company to spend $20 million overhauling its wastewater management practices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/pennsylvania-attorney-general-files-criminal-charges-against-xto-energy-702751/#ixzz2eX7VPgfb

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/pennsylvania-attorney-general-files-criminal-charges-against-xto-energy-702751/

Hot Damn, Pennsylvania! Our world class new female Dem Attorney General is taking on Big Fracking for environmental crimes. PA GOP Governor, Tommy One-Term Corbett, the fracker's friend, is going ballistic, no-doubt. When Corbett was PA Atty, General, he buried complaints against Jerry Sandusky so as not to alienate Penn State alumni/voters/campaign donors. AG Kane is schooling him big time on what an Atty. General is supposed to do!

Now she can really pursue broad discovery on Big Fracking's dirty secrets - like how many citizens & business interests have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements to be compensated for injuries/damages.

Welcome to the Obama/Kerry credibility ABYSS!

On another DU thread regarding Syria, a poster recalled that '60s phrase "credibility gap". I replied that what O/K have is far more than a gap; it's a credibility abyss, i.e., bottomless depths of hubris shading into total darkness. I was asked to post my reply as an OP. So here it is.

When scuba diving in the Bahamas, I had the humbling and awe-inspiring experience of diving down about 120 feet to where the ocean floor fell away into the Abyss.

Tongue-Of-The-Ocean (the abyss)
One of the most dramatic features on New Providence Island is the Tongue-Of-The-Ocean which is a deep oceanic trench that is 120 miles long, and 24 miles wide, with depths reaching 6,000 feet. The Tongue spans the gap between New Providence and Andros Island and comes to with-in a half a mile of shore on the southwest side of New Providence. Imagine the Grand Canyon, filled with water, and within a 1/2 mile of a pristine beach

Obama has gone over the edge of a political abyss, taking an apparently willing Kerry and a shrinking cadre of true believers along. That they continue to argue for acts of war against Syria smacks of rapture of the deep, i.e., nitrogen narcosis. (Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1953 famously described it as "l’ivresse des grandes profondeurs" or the "rapture of the deep".) It's a frightening thing to see - I once saw a diver get down to the agreed upon maximum dive depth of 120 feet, wave happily at us all and keep on going down. Our courageous dive master caught up with her at about 150 feet and got her safely back with a slow ascent and 2 safety stops,

Here are the symptoms. I bold-faced ones evidenced, IMHO, by Obama/Kerry & their supporters.

100-165 feet
Delayed response to visual and auditory stimuli
Reasoning and immediate memory affected more than motor coordination
Calculation errors and wrong choices
Idea fixation
Over-confidence and sense of well-being

Laughter and loquacity (in hyperbaric chambers) which may be overcome by self-control
Anxiety (common in cold murky water)

165-230 feet
Sleepiness, impaired judgment, confusion
Severe delay in response to signals, instructions and other stimuli
Occasional dizziness
Uncontrolled laughter, hysteria (in chambers)
Terror in some

230-300 feet
Poor concentration and mental confusion
Stupefaction with some decrease in dexterity and judgment
Loss of memory, increased excitability

300 + feet
Increased intensity of vision and hearing
Sense of impending blackout, euphoria, dizziness, levitation, manic or depressive states
Disorganization of the sense of time, changes in facial appearance
Unconsciousness, Death

The Flip Side of Obama's Keystone XL Delay - "Obama pulled a fast one"

Oh, you silly environmentalists! You thought you had convinced Obama to be wary of pipelines when he delayed the northern half of the Keystone XL pipeline. (XL is short for extension line) But you fell for his 11th dimensional chess because by Executive Order. He was just funning with you!


Feeling the pressure from protest against the Keystone XL from groups such as the Tar Sands Action, Indigenous Environmental Network and others, Obama pulled a fast one: “wait and see” for XL’s northern half – which many claimed as a victory – and expedited approval of everything else via executive order.

That’s because Obama’s order also called for expedited permitting and review of all domestic infrastructure projects – including but not limited to pipelines – as a reaction to the Keystone XL resistance.

A months-long Mint Press News investigation reveals the executive order wasn’t merely a symbolic gesture. Rather, many key pipeline and oil and gas industry marketing projects are currently up for expedited review, making up for — and by far eclipsing — the capacity of Keystone XL’s northern half. The original TransCanada Keystone pipeline – as is – already directly connects to Cushing from Alberta, making XL (short for “extension line”) essentially obsolete.

Little time was wasted building the XL’s southern half after Obama issued the Order and within a slim two years, TransCanada will have its first direct line from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries in southern Texas.

"Syria - It Takes More Courage to Say There Is Nothing Outsiders Can Do"

The human misery in Syria is agonising to watch. But intervention-lite is a bad idea for all but the politicians' egos
by Simon Jenkins
The Guardian, Thursday 29 August 2013 18.42 EDT

Something-must-be-done wars have a long and wretched history, notably in the Middle East. It was after Ronald Reagan saw television footage of the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982 that he ordered his marines into Beirut. He later withdrew them, leaving 265 American dead and Lebanon with a further decade of ghastly civil conflict.

In 1986, the US tried to kill Libya's Colonel Gaddafi over a terrorist attack in Berlin, merely ensuring a further burst of Gaddafi-sponsored terrorism. In Kosovo in 1999, the Nato bombing of Belgrade did nothing to impede ethnic cleansing, indeed it probably expedited it. What tipped the Russians into forcing Serbia to back down was the threat of a western land invasion.

In 1993, President Clinton bombed Baghdad in retaliation for a claimed plot to kill former president George H Bush. This was followed five years later by the further bombing of Iraq in Operation Desert Fox, this time to deflect attention from the Monica Lewinsky affair. Its declared purpose of eliminating weapons of mass destruction was so botched as to require more bombing and the eventual invasion in 2003. Then as now, the zest for aggression seemed driven as much by the military-industrial complex as by legality or evidence.

Overstating the military and political potency of air power – mostly as a "sending of messages" – is as old as air war itself. Tactical bombing is occasionally effective where, as in Libya and initially in Afghanistan, it is in close support of ground forces. When, as now, it is intended as a soft option to ground action, it merely destroys.


Former Senior High teacher gets 30 days for rape of (14 yr. old) student

Source: Billings, Montana Gazette

A Yellowstone County district judge Monday ordered a former Senior High teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old female student who later committed suicide to spend 30 days in jail.

Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Stacey Dean Rambold to 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended, for sexual intercourse without consent. Rambold, 54, will be given credit for one day already served. He was handcuffed and led to jail at the close of the hearing.

Baugh said he was not convinced that the reasons for Rambold's termination from treatment were serious enough to warrant the lengthy prison term suggested by the prosecution. Baugh said he listened to recorded statements given by Morales before her death and believes that while she was a troubled youth, she was "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold.

The judge also said Morales was "older than her chronological age."

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/former-senior-high-teacher-gets-days-for-rape-of-student/article_b1f84190-ef23-5868-8799-b779c0421dc1.html

Montana's legal system has hit an all time low when a 14 year old (who didn't have the opportunity to testify since she committed suicide while this case dragged on for years) is ruled by a judge (who never saw her) to hve been in control of a sexual relationship with a 49 year old teacher, and the convicted rapist gets all but 31 days in jail suspended.

Today, Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced a teacher, Stacey Dean Rambold, 54, who repeatedly raped a 14 year old female student, who then committed suicide, to 30 days in jail. Judge Baugh blamed the girl, who he said, "was older than her chronological age". Principal Scott Anderson hired Rambold, knowing he was a sex offender, in a Jerry Sandusky like move. He kept him on despite other allegations. Rambold's failure to attend a sex offender treatment program to which he was referred, still "did not warrant a lengthy sentence" according to Judge Baugh. We demand the removal from the bench of Judge G. Todd Baugh and the permanent removal from the education system of Scott Anderson.


William Harner, acting Pennsylvania education secretary, resigns abruptly

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday forced out his nominee to lead the state Department of Education, William Harner, three months after the selection was announced.

The government source said that Mr. Harner's troubles began in January or February, when an employee of the school district, while vacationing, received an email from Mr. Harner asking how the employee looked in a Speedo swimsuit. That email, according to the source, led to a complaint to the district's human resources office, which in turn led to the school board hiring outside counsel to investigate the matter. That outside counsel turned up more than a dozen other complaints about Mr. Harner, most involving comments he made in poor taste.

His personality "rubbed people the wrong way," the source said. The school board's behind-closed-doors probe was running concurrent to the Corbett administration's own vetting. On May 15, Mr. Corbett announced that his education secretary, Ron Tomalis, would leave the department to become an adviser to the governor on higher education, and that he would nominate Mr. Harner as secretary.

Sometime this month, the source said, the Corbett administration caught wind of the fact that the Cumberland Valley school board had held a closed-door vote to not renew Mr. Harner's contract. Sen. Andrew Dinniman of Chester County, the ranking Democrat on the Education Committee, said the announcement Monday showed a failure by the administration in checking its nominee. "If the governor's office is going to put people before the Senate without proper vetting, how in the future can we trust any nominee he puts before us?" Mr. Dinniman said. "Why did it take three months, while education is facing crucial questions?"

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/politics-state/william-harner-acting-pennsylvania-education-secretary-resigns-abruptly-700825/#ixzz2d9nKH0HU

Interesting that the investigation by the "outside counsel" for the Cumberland Valley School Board turned up "more than a dozen" complaints, but then tries to downplay the severity by calling them simply "in poor taste". Defense counsel's "poor taste" is a District Attorney's sexual harassment crime, and clearly the school board's own outside counsel wouldn't want to open up any doors to lawsuits. Classic institutional reaction: scandal control.

So, did any of those complaints involve students, or only people working for the school district? Sandusky redux? Will Cumberland Valley be able to suppress all those complaints? According to Harner's biography on Project Vote Smart, he also has a long-standing involvement with Boy Scouts of America. Another red flag to be investigated.


Member, Boy Scouts of America, present.
Former Board Member, Blue Ridge Council, South Carolina.
Former Member, New Birth of Freedom Council, Pennsylvania.

You can't dispute any FACTS, like him gaining $55 million net worth since leaving White House

Or his $500,000 fee for a 45 minute speech? And don't ignore my main point, which is that the Democratic party OWES support to people who agree to run in races they have no expectation of winning; and people like ex-presidents, who made their post-presidential fortunes from their status as ex-presidents, OWE something back to the party which enabled them to gain office. If Clinton had not been elected President, where would he be today? An ex-governor of Arkansas would not command 1/2 million for a speech. He'd be keynoting Chamber of Commerce state conventions scouting for legal clients for his Little Rock law firm. And if his wife were not considered a likely candidate for president, I doubt people would be nearly as generous in their gifts to his foundation. I believe the New York Times article discussed how potential donors to the Foundation were strong-armed into donating to his wife's campaign fund.

Greed, gluttony and lust are referred to as sins of excess. Clinton seems to have gotten his gluttony and lust under control, but his greed is running rampant. Greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material wealth. Whether it is the obsession of an individual to accumulate boundless wealth, or a politician selling out to special interest lobbyists, or of a corporation maximizing profits by exploiting workers, and/or promoting/marketing weapons of war and violence, it is the premier vice/sin driving our civilization into the mud.

And here's another evaluation of Clinton's "fund-raising" for you:

Jonathan Tobin, Senior Online Editor of the conservative Jewish publication Commentary Magazine, criticized the former president for “shaking down” the charitable group which “raises questions not only of good taste but also of the propriety of one charitable endeavor profiting at the expense of the other.” In an article titled, Bill Clinton's Big Israeli Payday, Tobin writes:

We are constantly reminded of the fact that there’s no better gig in the world than being an ex-president. With lucrative book contracts (for books that don’t always get read but for which publishers feel obligated to shell out big bucks in advances), highly paid speaking engagements and uncounted perks as well as lifetime security, our former commanders-in-chief live the rest of their lives high on the proverbial hog. And when they’re done repairing their personal finances, they can start foundations and shake down everyone who wants their ear or to link their names with a former president. That’s pretty much the story of the last 12 years of Bill Clinton’s life, as he has become a wealthy man as well as one with a personal foundation to which he can funnel almost unlimited amounts of contributions from those who wish to earn his good will or that of his wife, who has her own eye on the White House in 2016.

But there is a point when even the usual post-presidential gravy train becomes excess and it appears that Clinton has reached just such a moment. By accepting a $500,000 honorarium from the Shimon Peres Academic Center, Clinton has exposed himself and his hosts (which include the Jewish National Fund, which is co-sponsoring the event as part of its president’s summit in Israel this summer) to scorn and criticism. Clinton apparently demanded that the Center and the JNF pony up a cool half million and deliver it to his foundation a year in advance to secure his appearance at an event honoring the Israeli president’s 90th birthday. This raises questions not only of good taste but also of the propriety of one charitable endeavor profiting at the expense of the other.

The Center and the JNF attempted to recoup some of the money by charging those who attended the gala to take place on June 17 in Reshoot, Israel approximately $800 a head. But Peres was scandalized by the idea of asking so much from those coming to his birthday party and the Times of Israel reports he said he wouldn’t attend if it was nothing but a fundraiser.

I agree with Tobin that there is something unseemly (a mild term - I would use "offensive" about Clinton, who was scheduled to receive the Israeli President’s Award from Peres at an event scheduled for two days later, shaking down the JNF and its donor base for this kind of money for his personal charity. As New York Magazine noted, that amounts to $11,111.00 per minute. Or as one commenter to the Times of Israel article linked below noted, " $185 per second: even when he coughs, pauses and yawns."

Tobin concluded:
“If Clinton wants to honor his old friend Peres, it shouldn’t require someone who cares about the Peres Center or the JNF to fork over that kind of money to a cause that, for all of its good work, is a vanity project for a former president who would like very much to be the nation’s First Gentleman three years from now,” Tobin wrote. Throughout his post-presidency, Clinton has engaged in this kind of money making taking six-figure fees from all sorts of charities and even churches and synagogues without coming in for much criticism…. But it can also be observed that once again the 42nd president has found another way to diminish the high office with which he was entrusted.”



Boeing's Union-Busting Move to SC Backfires; Can't Meet 787 Production Demand

Boeing has learned there's a difference between RIGHT to work and ABILITY to work. When Boeing left Washington for South Carolina in order to suppress the wages of its workers, it also left behind the quality work that had been provided by a highly skilled, union workforce. Now, that union-busting is backfiring as productivity has dropped immensely and Boeing is unable to meet their 787 Dreamliner production goals.

Via to the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Boeing’s South Carolina facility is running behind projections and won’t make its goal of producing three 787 Dreamliners a month by the end of 2013. In fact, the Everett plant will have to make up the difference in order for the company to reach its overall goal of 10 jetliners a month by year’s end.

As recently as July 24, when Boeing announced second-quarter earnings, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney insisted the company is on track to hit 10 Dreamliners monthly by the end of this year. But how Boeing accomplishes that has become more problematic. Company executives have started saying that Boeing’s North Charleston, S.C., plant is somewhat behind its goal of contributing three 787s monthly by the end of 2013.

The cost savings associated with moving to South Carolina, where workers are paid nearly half of what workers in the Everett, WA plant make, are now for naught. The Everett plant will be counted on to make up the difference.

For Boeing, the news is only getting worse as one of their largest global competitors, Airbus, is looking to move to Washington state to build their new engineering center. Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor explained the move:

We are attracted to Washington state for the same reason we were attracted to Wichita. That’s where the talent is,” he said. “If you want to have access to the talent that developed over the last 100 years of aviation, Washington is very fertile ground.


Boeing moved to South Carolina to take advantage of “Right-to-Work” laws. In an internal memo that leaked they said, “the only consistent advantage attributed to Charleston was the ability to ‘leverage’ the site placement decision toward ‘rebalancing an unbalanced and uncompetitive labor relationship.’” Their new workforce is woefully inexperienced and cannot meet demand so they have to go back to Washington to get back on track. Meanwhile, their competitor is swooping in and taking advantage of the incredible wealth of skills in Washington. If karma has its way, the worker well will be dry before Boeing has a chance to return.


So if Obama can't find time, what about an appearance by Michele or Biden? the Big Dog?

It's damned heroic for a person to agree to be a candidate when the odds are great against them going in. It's called flying the flag for the party, and if the party wants to get people to do this, the party owes them some support - if not financial, at least a personal appearance by a high-ranking, well-known politician.

I suggest that Bill Clinton can forego the $1/2 million speaking fees he's currently expecting, and take a couple of months every two years to campaign, pro bono, for Democratic gubernatorial and congressional candidates, whether their races are close or not. "Unlike many presidents, Bill Clinton did not come from a wealthy family, nor did he have lucrative employment before his presidency. But since leaving office we estimate that Clinton has earned more than $125 million before taxes, with the vast majority of that coming from speaking fees." In other words, Clinton has used his status as ex-president to market himself to attain great wealth. I think this obliges him to give back to the party.

Read more: The Net Worth Of The American Presidents: Washington To Obama - 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/banking-finance/2010/05/17/the-net-worth-of-the-american-presidents-washington-to-obama/#ixzz2ctiubbq0
The Wall Street Journal, in evaluating the wealth of U.S. Presidents, identifies Clinton as the wealthiest living American ex-president. You got that right - wealthier than either of the Bushes.

His current worth is estimated at $55 million.Where did all that money come from? Speaking fees. CNN estimates he may have raked in as much as $89 million in speaking fees since he left the White House in 2001. " Unlike many presidents, Bill Clinton did not come from a wealthy family, nor did he have lucrative employment before his presidency. But since leaving office we estimate that Clinton has earned more than $125 million before taxes, with the vast majority of that coming from speaking fees. Clinton’s net worth was reduced in 2008 when his wife, Hillary Clinton, wrote off more than $13 million she loaned her campaign for her own presidential bid. Her campaign debt, once over $25 million, was just retired in January.

Read more: The Net Worth Of The American Presidents: Washington To Obama - 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/banking-finance/2010/05/17/the-net-worth-of-the-american-presidents-washington-to-obama/#ixzz2ctiubbq0
Bill Clinton has earned a whopping $500,000 speaking advance to deliver a 45 minute speech at the 90th birthday bash for Israeli President Shimon Peres — putting Clinton’s price tag at roughly $11,100 per minute...."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/bill-clinton-paid-500-000-speaking-advance-45-minute-speech-earning-11-100-minute-article-1.1361928#ixzz2ctfPeS2n

Earlier this week it was reported, including by TheBlaze, that former President Bill Clinton had charged his hosts $500,000, one year in advance, to deliver a 45 minute speech at an event honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres’s 90th birthday later this month.

That news sparked an outcry in Israel, because of the size of the honorarium and because a well-known non-profit group, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) was footing the bill for the speech along with the Peres Academic Center.

Now, the KKL-JNF says it is pulling its funding for the Clinton speech, with one member of the group telling the Israeli site Ynet, “we decided to wash our hands of the event.”

The half-a-million dollar payment was reported to be going to the William J. Clinton Foundation, not directly to the former president’s personal pocket.

Given the New York Times expose re the jumbled financial record-keeping/lack of boundaries between Clinton's Foundation, his wife's political activities and his personal wealth - one wonders where that money ended up. Further, after much negative publicity about this $1/2 million fee paid a year in advance for a 45 minute speech, Clinton indicated he would turn the money back to some Israeli charity.
In our updated list, the only currently living president who makes the wealthiest list is Bill Clinton, who now has an estimated net worth of $55 million. Clinton continues to make millions of dollars in speaking fees. This January, following an email from Bill Clinton to supporters, Hilary Clinton’s 2008 campaign debt was paid off


A final comparison of Clinton to Truman. A quote from Truman's book, Mr. Citizen, published in 1960, expressing his opinion on declining offers of corporate positions at large salaries:
"I turned down all of those offers. I knew that they were not interested in hiring Harry Truman, the person, but what they wanted to hire was the former President of the United States. I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the Presidency." Consequently, Harry Truman's net worth never reached one million dollars (calculated by the Wall Street Journal in 2010 dollars).

Top investigative journalism reports from 2013 which you may have missed.

There's more going on than what the mainstream media tells you. Here's a selection of the best independent investigative reporting from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and The Center for Public Integrity this year.

It's been a great year for the Center so far: we were honored at the White House Correspondents Dinner, our investigative coverage of the financial industry was brought back to life, we added a bunch of new faces to our staff and our friends at ICIJ made a huge splash internationally with the release of the "Secrecy for Sale" project on offshore tax havens (more on that story below).

Amid all the excitement, we wanted to pause and reflect on a few of 2013's important investigations, and give you the opportunity to discover them once again. Below we've compiled selections of our most meaningful accountability journalism over the past year:

The investigations reported in some detail at the link include:
1. Deficit hawks keep costly nuclear plant alive.
2. Minority Media begins taking sizable industry donations and siding with industry.
3. Expelled California students left to teach themselves.
4. Once gushing streams sucked dry by "brutally efficient" coal mining.
5. Mystery group easily outspent and likely sunk judicial candidate.
6. Rare glimpse into origins of "dark money" (Big Tobacco lobbying)
7. Corporations and conservative foundations are top sponsors of judicial junkets.
8. What's stopping the Air Force from killing a drone program it can't afford?
9. Secrets of the offshore tax haven world revealed.
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