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Showing posts from February 16, 2016

Victims of the Mexican Drug War Are Suing the Banks that Handled the Cartel's Money

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[The suit was brought on behalf of four families who are all US citizens. Banksters: "We intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these legal claims." Same bank that helped the ultra-rich evade taxes and dealt with many sketchy regimes and politicians. *RON*]
—By AJ Vicens, Mother Jones, 15 February 2016

A group of families in the United States whose relatives were killed by Mexican drug cartels filed a lawsuit against the large financial institution HSBC this week, alleging that the bank's admitted laundering of roughly $881 million for the Sinaloa, Juárez, and Los Zetas cartels played a key role in the deaths of their loved ones.

"Money laundering is the lifeblood of the Mexican drug cartels, enabling them to construct a façade of legitimacy through which they establish, continue, and grow their global enterprises," the families' lawyers wrote in the complaint filed in federal court, alleging that cartels use tha…

Why We Need to Keep 80 Percent of Fossil Fuels in the Ground

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[We need to keep reminding ourselves and everyone of the simple physics involved: life depends on it. Bill McKibben on the big changes we’ve already made in remarkably short order. "But the fight remains damnably hard, because politicians are so used to doing the bidding of the oil companies." *RON*]

Bill McKibben, YES! magazine, 15 February 2016

Physics can impose a bracing clarity on the normally murky world of politics. It can make things simple. Not easy, but simple.

Most of the time, public policy is a series of trade-offs: higher taxes or fewer services, more regulation or more freedom of action. We attempt to balance our preferences: for having a beer after work, and for sober drivers. We meet somewhere in the middle, compromise, trade off. We tend to think we’re doing it right when everyone’s a little unhappy.


U.S. Closing a Loophole on Products Tied to Slaves

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[An excellent thing, but it's still astounding that the US is only now announcing that it won't buy fish caught by slaves. Meanwhile, do not buy prawns and shrimp from Thailand. *RON*]

By Ian Urbina, New York Times, 15 February 2016

WASHINGTON — President Obama will sign legislation this week that effectively bans American imports of fish caught by forced labor in Southeast Asia, part of a flurry of recent actions by the White House, federal agencies, international trade unions and foreign governments to address lawlessness at sea and to better protect offshore workers and the marine environment.

Last week, the president signed the Port State Measures Agreement, which empowers officials to prohibit foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing from receiving port services and access. The United States became the 20th country to ratify the pact.

In another step, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a plan this mont…

The conspiracy theorists who have taken over Poland

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[Despite the legacy of Lech Wałęsa, Poland's political scene has always provided a comfortable home for right-wing ultra-nationalist wack-jobs and xenophobes. Jarosław Kaczyński has convinced Poland that it is threatened by a shadowy left wing cabal – and become the country’s most powerful man. *RON*]
Christian Davies, The Guardian, 16 February 2016
In late January 1993, three years after the abolition of the Soviet-imposed Polish People’s Republic, a crowd of 5,000 demonstrators marched on the Warsaw residence of Lech Wałęsa. As the chairman of Solidarity, the independent trade union and mass opposition movement that negotiated communist Poland’s demise, Wałęsa is widely credited with initiating the chain of events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and a peaceful resolution to the cold war. But after he became post-communist Poland’s first democratically elected president, his critics circulated rumours that he had been a communi…

The 'good billionaire': Silicon Valley roots for Bloomberg for president

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["The tech industry sees Michael Bloomberg, who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, as one of its own – the hero to Donald Trump's 'bad billionaire.'" This is a potential game-ender for Hillary Clinton; he would eat directly into her base. *RON*]
Nellie Bowles, The Guardian, 16 February 2016

Michael Bloomberg may feel that his recent hints at a 2016 run for the White House have barely registered in a presidential year dominated by big characters and unexpected twists.

After the initial stir caused by news the former New York mayor was considering entering the 2016 race as a centrist, independent candidate, he has quickly receded to the shadows, barely discussed by either Democratic or Republican candidates.

Yet there is one corner of the US still holding out for a Bloomberg candidacy:Silicon Valley.

The tech industry sees the billionaire entrepreneur, who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, as one of its o…

US military burn pits built on chemical weapons facilities tied to soldiers' illness

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[World-wide, wars and other military activity constitute a major threat to the environment, and the military is not in the least disposed to do anything about it. In this case, though the US government disputes it, new evidence shows a link between service in Iraq and Afghanistan and cancers and untreatable bronchial illnesses. "After being blown up a couple of times, you didn’t complain about stuff like that. It wasn’t a big deal. It was part of our mission and we were told not to worry about it." *RON*]
Lauren Walker, The Guardian, 16 February 2016

In 2007, shortly after vice-president Joe Biden learned that his eldest son would be deployed to Iraq, the then-presidential hopeful turned to a modest crowd at the Iowa state fair and admitted that he didn’t want Beau to go. “But I tell you what,” he said, his family lined up behind him. “I don’t want my grandson or my granddaughters going back in 15 years and so how we leave makes a big d…

Oil, gas sites abandoned in B.C. 'like walking in a ghost town': survey

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[Can you say "regulatory capture"? See also: University of British Columbia Votes To Keep Fossil Fuel Investments. *RON*]
The Canadian Press, Vancouver Observer, 15 February 2016

An environmental group is raising concerns about pipes, wellheads, pumpjacks and even entire buildings left abandoned in the British Columbia backcountry from oil and gas developments.

"We found that very, very few of all the wells we looked at had been what we consider properly restored," said John Werring, science adviser for the David Suzuki Foundation.

"Wellheads had been removed but all the casings were there. The ponds to collect process water were still on site. There were pumpjacks — entire pumpjacks — left in the field and had been there for 30 or 40 years."

Last August, Werring headed out to northeastern British Columbia in the Fort St. John region to assess how industry was cleaning up after itself. The team covered 4,000 kilometr…

Fox Creek fracking operation closed indefinitely after earthquake

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["Magnitude 4.8 quake rattles area, energy regulator says." This is from a month ago. It's easy to miss these - poof, and these stories disappear in a minute. Checking this on Google News, I see this is one of a series of fracking-related quakes here in northern Alberta. I've seen no follow-up. See also: Oil Industry Caused 2005 Swarm of California Earthquakes: Newly Published Study, which references Fox Creek. *RON*]

CBC News, 14 January 2016

A hydraulic fracturing operation near Fox Creek, Alta., has been shut down after an earthquake hit the area Tuesday.

The magnitude 4.8 quake was reported at 11:27 a.m., says Alberta Energy Regulator, which ordered the shutdown of the Repsol Oil & Gas site 35 kilometres north of Fox Creek.

Carrie Rosa, spokeswoman for the regulator, says "the company has ceased operations … and they will not be allowed to resume operations until we have approved their plans."

Rosa added the compa…