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Octafish's Journal
Octafish's Journal
March 2, 2016

It's like a book.

"They're desperate," says Antoine Simon of Friends of the Earth Europe. "It's the last push to continue their fossil fuel development."

How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World

A trove of secret documents details the US government's global push for shale gas.

—By Mariah Blake
MotherJones | September/October 2014 Issue


As part of its expanded energy mandate, the State Department hosted conferences on fracking from Thailand to Botswana. It sent US experts to work alongside foreign officials as they developed shale gas programs. And it arranged for dozens of foreign delegations to visit the United States to attend workshops and meet with industry consultants—as well as with environmental groups, in some cases.

US oil giants, meanwhile, were snapping up natural gas leases in far-flung places. By 2012, Chevron had large shale concessions in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, and South Africa, as well as in Eastern Europe, which was in the midst of a claim-staking spree; Poland alone had granted more than 100 shale concessions covering nearly a third of its territory. When the nation lit its first shale gas flare atop a Halliburton-drilled well that fall, the state-owned gas company ran full-page ads in the country's largest newspapers showing a spindly rig rising above the hills in the tiny village of Lubocino, alongside the tagline: "Don't put out the flame of hope." Politicians promised that Poland would soon break free of its nemesis, Russia, which supplies the lion's share of its gas. "After years of dependence on our large neighbor, today we can say that my generation will see the day when we will be independent in the area of natural gas," Prime Minister Donald Tusk declared. "And we will be setting terms."

But shale was not the godsend that industry leaders and foreign governments had hoped it would be. For one, new research from the US Geological Survey suggested that the EIA assessments had grossly overestimated shale deposits: The recoverable shale gas estimate for Poland shrank from 187 trillion cubic feet to 1.3 trillion cubic feet, a 99 percent drop. Geological conditions and other factors in Europe and Asia also made fracking more arduous and expensive; one industry study estimated that drilling shale gas in Poland would cost three times what it does in the United States.

By 2013, US oil giants were abandoning their Polish shale plays. "The expectations for global shale gas were extremely high," says the State Department's Hueper. "But the geological limitations and aboveground challenges are immense. A handful of countries have the potential for a boom, but there may never be a global shale gas revolution."

The politics of fracking overseas were also fraught. According to Susan Sakmar, a visiting law professor at the University of Houston who has studied fracking regulation, the United States is one of the only nations where individual landowners own the mineral rights. "In most, perhaps all, other countries of the world, the underground resources belong to the crown or the government," she explains. The fact that property owners didn't stand to profit from drilling on their land ignited public outrage in some parts of the world, especially Eastern Europe. US officials speculate that Russia also had a hand in fomenting protests there. "The perception among diplomats in the region was that Russia was protecting its interests," says Mark Gitenstein, the former US ambassador to Romania. "It didn't want shale gas for obvious reasons."


March 1, 2016

The Cement Life Raft - Prof. Elizabeth Warren briefs First Lady Clinton on Bankruptcy Bill

Elizabeth Warren describes briefing First Lady Hillary Clinton about a bankruptcy bill that would hurt single mothers and children:

In this excerpt from Warren and Tyagi's 2003 book The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke, the authors lay out their arguments against the "predatory" lending practices of the mortgage and credit card industries and their effect on American families. The authors maintain that re-regulation of consumer lending is needed to level the playing field between creditors and families and reverse a disturbing trend: the transfer of wealth away from lower- and middle-income families, "directly into the pockets of giant lenders and their shareholders." Read Elizabeth Warren's interview with FRONTLINE elsewhere on this site.


Mrs. Clinton's newfound opposition to the bankruptcy bill surprised me. Given her legal training and her devotion to women's causes, I had certainly expected her to grasp the importance of the issue. But President Clinton's staff had been quietly supporting the bankruptcy bill for several months. Bill Clinton wanted to show that he and other "New Democrats" could play ball with business interests, and the major banks were lobbying hard for changes in the bankruptcy laws. I had expected that it would take a lot more than thirty minutes to convince Hillary Clinton to depart from the position widely rumored to be supported by her husband.

But Mrs. Clinton stayed firm in her fight against "that awful bill." She was convinced that the bill was "unfair to women and children," and she intended to stand by her principles, even if it cost some Democratic party candidates campaign contributions. Over the ensuing months, she was true to her word. With her strong support, the Democrats slowed the bill's passage through Congress. When Congress finally passed the bill in October 2000, President Clinton vetoed it. The following summer, an aide explained to me the abrupt about-face: "A couple of days after Mrs. Clinton met with you, we changed sides (on the bankruptcy bill) so fast that you could see skid marks in the hallways of the White House." Thanks to Mrs. Clinton, families still had one financial refuge left -- at least for the moment.

But the story doesn't end there. The banking lobbyists were persistent. President Clinton was on his way out, and credit card giant MBNA emerged as the single biggest contributors to President Bush's campaign. In the spring of 2001, the bankruptcy bill was reintroduced in the Senate, essentially unchanged from the version President Clinton had vetoed the previous year.

This time freshman Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the bill.

Had the bill been transformed to get rid of all those awful provisions that had so concerned First Lady Hillary Clinton? No. The bill was essentially the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not. As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton had been persuaded that the bill was bad for families, and she was willing to fight for her beliefs. Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions. As New York's newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position. Campaigns cost money, and that money wasn't coming from families in financial trouble. Senator Clinton received $140,000 in campaign contributions from banking industry executives in a single year, making her one of the top two recipients in the Senate. Big banks were now part of Senator Clinton's constituency. She wanted their support, and they wanted hers -- including a vote in favor of "that awful bill."



February 29, 2016

"Trump and Jeff Sessions, a Perfect Pair", by Don Siegelman

"Trump and Jeff Sessions, a Perfect Pair", by Don Siegelman

By Karen Hedwig Backman
Daily Kos, Monday Aug 24, 2015

Jeff Sessions endorsed Donald Trump for President in Mobile Alabama at the exceptionally large Trump rally.

Alabama's junior U.S. Senator, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, says "I used to think the Ku Klux Klan was a pretty good group of guys, until I learned they smoked pot." U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy made Sessions confess to having said this during Sessions' would be confirmation hearing for a U.S. District Court judgeship, for which he was nominated by President Reagan.

As the U .S. Attorney, Sessions, in order to suppress the Black Vote, sent the FBI out in Alabama's "Black Belt" to round up Black political activists, have them photographed and finger printed, and told that the FBI would be watching what they did in the upcoming general election. Sessions was challenging a Democratic incumbent for state attorney general, and the Democrat was expected to get a landslide of Black votes.

To show he meant business, Sessions had two Black activists charged and convicted, both friends of mine. One a sweet 72 year old woman, Miss Julia Wilder, a retired school teacher, who was sentenced to two years, and Ms. Maggie Bozeman, a noted activist in Black politics. I studied the case and the testimony. First, I do not believe they broke the law and secondly, they did not get fair treatment at the trial. Sessions was determined to scare the hell out of the Black activists so they would not get out the vote for his Democratic opponent.

Before that 1994 election in which I was running for Lt. Governor, I spoke to a noted Black leader, Senator Hank Sanders, who told me most were simply afraid and would not be working as they had in the past to turn out Black votes.

Sessions won in an upset victory and two years later won his seat in the U.S. Senate by alleging his Democratic opponent, a state senator, had broken the law in getting a grant to provide water services from which the senator would allegedly benefit. The charges were dropped after the election.


February 29, 2016

Where a little has trickled in from since then: Canadian Banks backing Keystone XL-Pipeline

Banks Behind Hillary Clinton's Canadian Speeches Really Want The Keystone Pipeline

by Paul Blumenthal and Ryan Grim
The Huffington Post, May 31, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Two Canadian banks tightly connected to promoting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States either fully or partially paid for eight speeches made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the period not long before she announced her campaign for president. Those speeches put more than $1.6 million in the Democratic candidate's pocket.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank were both primary sponsors of paid Clinton speeches in 2014 and early 2015, although only the former appears on the financial disclosure form she filed May 15. According to that document, CIBC paid Clinton $150,000 for a speech she gave in Whistler, British Columbia, on Jan. 22, 2015.

Clinton reported that another five speeches she gave across Canada were paid for by tinePublic Inc., a promotional company known for hosting speeches by world leaders and celebrities. Another speech was reported as paid for by the think tank Canada 2020, while yet another speech was reportedly funded by the Vancouver Board of Trade. But a review of invitations, press releases and media reports for those seven other speeches reveals that they, too, were either sponsored by or directly involved the two banks.

Both banks have financial ties to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, and have advocated for a massive increase in pipeline capacity, including construction of Keystone. Further, Gordon Giffin, a CIBC board member and onetime U.S. ambassador to Canada, is a former lobbyist for TransCanada and was a contributions bundler for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

It is not immediately clear what the sponsorship of speeches by the two banks entailed. Did they pay upfront costs to tinePublic to cover Clinton’s fees? Did they purchase a large number of tickets to underwrite the event? The banks themselves were not helpful on that score.



Nothing personal. It's business.
February 29, 2016

The Klansmen and Mobsters in Donald Trump’s Closet

The Klansmen and Mobsters in Donald Trump’s Closet

Trump’s campaign is haunted by his reported dealings with a mafia boss, a drug smuggler, and a Russian gangster, as well as his dad’s alleged Klan arrest.

by Michael Daly
The Daily Beast, Feb. 29, 2016

Ghosts of the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia swirled up from Donald Trump’s past as he blustered on toward a future few could have foreseen.


On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz sought to rouse the mob ghosts of Donald Trump’s earlier days, saying on NBC that “ABC, CNN, multiple news reports have reported about his dealings with, for example, S&A Construction, which was owned by ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, who is a mobster who is in jail.”
Trump did deal with S&A Construction in the early 1980s, though not necessarily out of choice.

S&A was indeed owned by Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno of the Genovese crime family, but he was sentenced to 100 years in prison back in 1986 and died behind bars in 1992.

So an apologist might just shrug and say it was what everybody had to do back in the day in order to build anything at all.
A Trump supporter might even suggest that he and indeed all his fellow builders were victims of the mob in that era.

But few of the builders who accepted S&A concrete as an offer they could not refuse actually met with Salerno, as Trump is said to have done in the office of Roy Cohn the lawyer and fixer, who represented The Donald as well as the Don.


February 29, 2016

May they dream like Napoléon .

“This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.

Napoleon Bonaparte, on finding a dog beside the body of his dead master, licking his face and howling, on a moonlit field after a battle. Napoleon was haunted by this scene until his own death.”

― Napoléon Bonaparte

February 28, 2016

Why do you support Hillary Clinton, SidDithers of DU?

What's in it for you?

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