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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Firm with History of Spill Cover-Ups Hired to Clean Up North Dakota Oil Spill


Firm with History of Spill Cover-Ups Hired to Clean Up North Dakota Oil Spill
by Steve Horn
Published on Thursday, November 28, 2013 by DeSmogBlog.com

Tesoro Logistics — the company whose pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of fracked Bakken Shale oil in rural North Dakota in September — has hired infamous contractor Witt O'Brien's to oversee its clean-up of the biggest fracked oil spill in U.S. history.

The oil was obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking" in the Bakken Shale basin.

As revealed after ExxonMobil hired the same firm in the aftermath of a 210,000-gallon tar sands oil spill in April 2013, Witt O'Brien's — formerly known as OOPS, Inc. — is a firm with a history of oil spill cover-ups dating back to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It also oversaw the spraying of toxic oil dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico during BP's summer 2010 mega-spill and a literal cover-up of Enbridge's massive "dilbit disaster" tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan.

Witt O'Brien's also won a $300,000 contract to develop an emergency response plan for TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline in August 2008.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 09:41 AM (1 replies)

Walmart Workers Mobilize for 'Unprecedented' Nationwide Strikes


Massive turnout expected for strike against low wages, illegal retaliation

Walmart Workers Mobilize for 'Unprecedented' Nationwide Strikes
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Published on Thursday, November 28, 2013 by Common Dreams

As the shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday came early this year with an increasing amount of retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, employees for one of the largest big-box-stores in the country, Walmart, prepared protests for 1,500 locations nationwide.

Organizers with the group OUR Walmart, who have helped rally Walmart workers that are fed up with poverty wages and poor working conditions at the retail giant's locations across the country, said this year's protests will be "unprecedented" in scope.


According to OUR Walmart, protests this Black Friday are expected in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Miami, Bay Area, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and Sacramento amongst other locations, "in what is set to be one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history."

In addition to better labor standards, full time work opportunities and fair wages, the workers are calling for an end to illegal retaliation by Walmart against outspoken employees and those who have taken part in actions.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 09:35 AM (3 replies)

Don't Mess With The Lady Parts of Texas Women


Don't Mess With The Lady Parts of Texas Women
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/27/2013 at 18:09:13
By Dennis Trainor, Jr.

In the United Sates, one out of every three women has had an abortion. If you are a women living in Texas, that state has passed hundreds of laws in the last several years that strip a women's right to privacy, limit access to abortion, and shame women into thinking that their choice about what to do with their bodies is wrong.

In the United Sates, one out of every three women has had an abortion. If you are a women living in Texas, that state has passed hundreds of laws in the last several years that strip a women's right to privacy, limit access to abortion, and shame women into thinking that their choice about what to do with their bodies is wrong.

As Cecil Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, put it:
"We've heard stories from women who have taken 400-mile bus rides to get an abortion several towns away; heartbreaking accounts of folks who are trying desperately to raise the money to leave the state and travel somewhere they know they'll be able to access their constitutional right. Anecdotally, we're seeing signs that more than anything else, women are simply delaying having the procedure. Some of those women may be holding out hope that a court will rule, or an elected official will step in; others are just plain out of options. History shows us that in this situation, we all have reason to fear that some women will take matters into their own hands and resort to desperate, possibly unsafe measures."

Recently, Lizz Winstead and Sarah Silverman decided to do something about the war for female reproductive rights and served as co-hosts of the "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can Choose" telethon, which raised over 50 thousand dollars to benefit groups that provide funding for women seeking abortions, including The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, Fund Texas Women, Texas Equal Access Fund, and the Whole Woman's Texas Action Fund.

Katie Klabusich, who was a producer of the event along with Winstead, is our guest-interview guest in this segment to discuss the war on Women.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 09:26 AM (12 replies)

Looking for Trouble with China


Looking for Trouble with China
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/27/2013 at 11:13:05
By Bruce K. Gagnon

The US likes to pick fights. That is what bullies do. In early 2001 George W. Bush sent a lumbering propeller driven US Air Force spy plane bumping up along China's coastline. China scrambled two jets and brought the US plane down onto Hainan Island. The Chinese held the crew for a while and then sent them home. China took the spy plane apart and kept the interesting technology. Eventually they packed the plane parts into crates and shipped it back to the US. Sometime later Lockheed Martin (who built the US spy plane) built a military reconnaissance system for China on Hainan Island so they could keep a better eye on their coastline. Talk about making money off both sides of the street.

Bush sent the easy to be intercepted spy plane along the China coast for several reasons. He wanted to test their ability to intercept such flights but he also wanted to create an international incident that would help him further demonize China back home. It was all about showing how "aggressive" China has become.


Imagine just for a moment if China, or any other country, began moving 60% of their military forces within shooting range of the US Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Imagine if that same country was establishing military bases in Mexico or Canada. The US government would be freaking out. Then further imagine that same country flying spy plane and bombers up along our coast. The Pentagon would be screaming "provocation" like a junkyard dog. But when the US does it we are just defending "freedom of movement in international airspace or waterways". No need to worry at all.


I understand that creating these incidents builds fear at home and fear is what keeps military spending high and big profits rolling into the coffers of the military industrial complex. But these kind of dangerous and destabilizing tactics by an out-of-control US military machine is what starts wars that bleed the people back home literally and figuratively.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 09:20 AM (1 replies)

Going Postal To Save The United States Post Office


Going Postal To Save The United States Post Office
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/28/2013 at 12:41:20
By Dennis Trainor, Jr.

If you had a great job that paid really well, but your health insurance benefits from that job had to be paid in full for 75 years into the future, it wouldn't matter how much you got paid because you would always be broke and in debt.


The USPS is NOT in trouble. Despite the doom and gloom trumpeted by the corporate media, the post office actually posted $700 million in operation profits in the last four years.

The USPS is certainly in a crisis, but it doesn't have anything to do with the post office's facilities, online commerce or employee salaries. It should come as a surprise to nobody that the USPS's dire financial situation is a direct result of the callousness and shortsightedness of Congress. Luckily, there's a way we can all help the post office generate more revenue while simultaneously bleeding the banks dry one envelope at a time. But I'll get to that in a minute.

The reason the U.S. Postal Service is running at constant losses and having to shutter offices around the country is a direct result of the Postal Reform and Accountability Act (PRAA) of 2006. The bill was passed by the same lame duck Congress that got their asses handed to them in the 2006 mid-term elections, amidst a wave of populist anti-war anger that mobilized millions of voters to throw the war hawks out of Congress.

unhappycamper comment: Don't throw away those pre-paid return envelopes or Christmas catalogs. I've been cutting up catalogs and stuffing them into the return envelopes for a long time now. My best effort to date? $2.41 postage required at the other end.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 09:14 AM (4 replies)

Moving the Trim Tab


Moving the Trim Tab
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/28/2013 at 12:54:37
By Mark A. Goldman

I would like to make a couple of adjustments to what some very thoughtful people have been offering in an effort to change the course of our ship of state. Most have pointed out correctly that this ship we're on is headed directly into the rocks. If we don't change course it will crash and sink and the ship will be lost along with its crew and cargo. We need to change course but trying to communicate with the captain and his senior officers has proved nearly impossible and very inefficient. But we need to do something quickly or there will not be time enough to move this ship before it comes to a dreadful end:

1. There are those who say that it is not the job of visionaries to seek leadership positions. I say this idea is pure nonsense. What we have today is a world turned upside down with our leaders being selected on the basis of their fame or wealth rather than for their wisdom and character. The best way to communicate with our leaders is not to spend our energies trying to tell them what we want or need, which they have demonstrated by their actions are totally outside their ability to understand or feel.


2. Stop supporting institutions that don't support you. When the bus system in Alabama refused to change their practice of making blacks sit in the back of buses, a few inspired leaders finally figured out that the best way to change the minds of the bus company's management was to stop riding the buses altogether. It was, to be sure, an inconvenience to walk rather than to ride the bus. But when the black community stopped riding the buses, the bus company found that it was even more inconvenient for them. They didn't like losing the income that the black community was providing them by using their services. Their income, it turns out, was more important to them than their prejudice.

Stop watching or listening to the news that's being offered by the mainstream media. If you stop using their services they will eventually change or go out of business. Stop watching all programs when they are offered, but instead tape them, and watch them later when you can skip over the commercials. Stop buying the products being advertised. You don't need all those drugs and processed GMO foods. When the government adopts a single payer healthcare system, like Medicare for all, and the news and programming actually supports your dignity as a citizen, you can begin to use their services again. Why should you accept a system that makes you a slave to your employer by forcing you to work for them on their terms in order to retain decent health care for yourself and your children? Having decent health care is a basic human right and should not be dependent on your employment or income. Governments and corporations in a democracy are supposed to serve the People, not manage, dominate, or enslave them. If you have the courage and the fortitude, you can turn things around. But you have to have courage, fortitude and self respect if you expect to be treated with dignity. You don't have to fight anyone. You only have to act in your own self interest even if is a bit inconvenient (or maybe even a great sacrifice) for awhile. If you can't find the self respect to retain your freedom, you are surely going to lose it. And if you're black, you're going to lose it again, which is doubly tragic (wasn't 250 years enough?).
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 08:58 AM (2 replies)

Canada allowed widespread NSA surveillance at 2010 G20 summit: report


An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Canada allowed widespread NSA surveillance at 2010 G20 summit: report
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:06pm EST

(Reuters) - Canada allowed the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 Group of 20 summit in Toronto, according to a media report that cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp is the latest potential embarrassment for the NSA as a result of Snowden's leaks, although it remains unclear precisely what information the agency was looking for during the summit.

Snowden has already revealed the agency spied on close allies such as Germany and Brazil, prompting heated diplomatic spats with Washington.

The CBC report, first aired late on Wednesday, cited briefing notes it said showed the United States turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the top-secret U.S. agency as President Barack Obama and other world leaders met that June.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 08:50 AM (0 replies)

Thanks for Giving What? Commerce or Community?


Thanks for Giving What? Commerce or Community?
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/29/2013 at 05:42:05
By Elliot Sperber


The virtually total subjection of social life to the dictates of commerce has reached a degree of intensity that even the Pope claims to be concerned about it. Of course, from his other remarks it is clear that the Pope is not interested in the dissolution of the superstitious ideologies and hierarchies that this economy depends upon. Though the Pope may not approve of the commanders in your head compelling you to do whatever capitalistic thing it is he disapproves of, he would not eliminate these commanders so much as replace them with his own - with the ministers of the Church. For, let's not overlook the fact that the Pope's recent statements are less a departure than a return to earlier Church concerns about poverty - words that, in the pre-Reformation period, consistently honored and exalted the poor, yet nevertheless managed to coexist with feudalism (that is, with lords and landlords) pretty well, reproducing poverty for centuries.

Notwithstanding the above, and though social relations based on mutual aid and trust (community) have been forced to the margins of social life over the past few decades, this forcement has been recently meeting increasing levels of resistance. Inseparable from the legacy of the Occupy movement, the labor strikes and protests planned by Walmart workers for Black Friday comprise just such an instance of community resisting commerce.

Beyond its commercial elements (and the fact that it derives from a rejection of commercialism), and the degree to which it illuminates the conflict between community and commerce, it is also worth reflecting on the genealogy of the word Thank. So central to Thanksgiving, the word 'thank' is etymologically rooted in the word Think. And when one thinks about the historical, imperialist horrors associated with Thanksgiving - not to mention the contemporary harms our commercial culture constantly recreates (from the mundane, everyday forms of domination, like police brutality, to ecocide and wars) - one would think that, instead of contributing further to the exploitation and harm of that which we share in common (community), it might make sense to not only refrain from the thoughtless consumption of consumeristic rituals, but to refrain from reproducing the exterminatory commercial political-economy ruling our lives entirely.

Not only should we support Walmart workers and others struggling for a just distribution of the community, we should extend these struggles. Not only should we recognize that the dictates of community ought to restrict and determine the limits of commerce, we should recognize that those things that people need to live well - that are common to and commonly needed by all - should not be privatized. Instead of being deformed into private things, they should be transformed into public, common, community things. Moreover, we should recognize that such things are what a community - a society - has an actual duty of care to provide to itself (not to sell between individuals, but to share among neighbors). If we gave it some thought, we just might recognize that those entities that people need to live well (nutritious food, housing, education, and the ability to govern our own lives, among other things) are so valuable that they should not be for sale at all.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 08:47 AM (0 replies)

America: In Your Pivot to Asia, Careful You Don’t Sprain Your Back


America: In Your Pivot to Asia, Careful You Don’t Sprain Your Back
The People's Daily, China
By Zhang Hong
Translated By Nathan Hsu
23 November 2013
Edited by Gillian Palmer


Although the Obama administration has placed great emphasis on the pivot to Asia, some U.S. allies have expressed disappointment that the shift has never been fully realized. Indeed, the administration finds itself facing a number of difficulties in that area. In the United States' previous foreign policy nucleus of the Middle East, the Obama administration's unhesitating abandonment of Mubarak, iterative stance on the Syrian issue and proactive engagement with Iran have all come as a chill wind blowing over its traditional Middle Eastern allies. The fear of being neglected or even abandoned by their "master" has given rise to all manner of remonstrations from these allies in their appeals for greater attention. The U.S. is now caught up in several entanglements that it would very much like to extract itself from, but cannot.

In the Asia-Pacific region, negotiations over the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership have proven difficult. Not only has it been a challenge to address the interests of all parties involved in an impartial fashion, but the U.S. has more recently also run up against domestic obstacles. Accusations of insufficient transparency and hurting U.S. interests have become the latest stumbling blocks for the TPP.

Despite the overwhelming praise from Western media on the United States' role in providing disaster relief to the Philippines, there exist dissenting opinions that, while minor, cannot be overlooked. Some have pointed to the limited practical significance of involving naval vessels in disaster relief operations. The use of helicopters has been unable to resolve the problem of supplies piling up; C-130s have not been able to evacuate large amounts of survivors quickly. Some victims have also said that what is needed from the U.S. instead is professional doctors and dedicated volunteers. It is hard to criticize disaster relief efforts too strongly. However, lacing excessive political elements within humanitarian relief is, after all, somewhat less than honorable conduct.

For the U.S., the "pivot to Asia" has already been irrevocably set in motion. Now, it must seize every opportunity it can to hasten the process. But the U.S. should remember that if it "pivots" too quickly, it can easily sprain its back. More importantly, it should remember that a zero-sum mentality has no place in the modern world, and that cooperation for mutual benefit is the way of the future.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 08:23 AM (0 replies)

How Obama’s Afghan gambit could backfire


How Obama’s Afghan gambit could backfire
Brahma Chellaney
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Nov. 27 2013, 11:28 AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 27 2013, 11:32 AM EST

President Barack Obama’s administration has decided to keep U.S. military bases and conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan after bringing the longest war in America’s history there to an end next year. But its decision, centered on keeping a substantial residual military force, risks locking the U.S. post-2014 in a low-intensity but never-ending war in that lawless, rugged country.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) reached between Washington and Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week defines a U.S.-led counterterrorism and training mission involving up to 12,000 NATO troops, mostly American, and lasting “until the end of 2024 and beyond” unless terminated with two years’ advance notice. This will mean virtually indefinite U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and include a mandate, as the text says, to “conduct combat operations.”

Mr. Obama’s decision in favor of strong military basing in Afghanistan – where there are currently about 45,000 American troops – stands in sharp contrast to his earlier action in pulling out all U.S. forces from Iraq after a decade-long American occupation of that country.

Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, or assembly of tribal leaders, put its imprimatur last Sunday on the BSA, which grants the U.S. important concessions, including a controversial immunity for American troops from Afghan law and permitting U.S. Special Operations forces to conduct anti-terrorism raids on private Afghan homes. Washington leveraged the more than $4-billion annual security aid it has promised to get these provisions in.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 08:16 AM (2 replies)
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