Fair Use Notice



This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

FAIR USE NOTICE FAIR USE NOTICE: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for scientific, research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

Read more at: http://www.etupdates.com/fair-use-notice/#.UpzWQRL3l5M | ET. Updates
FAIR USE NOTICE FAIR USE NOTICE: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for scientific, research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

Read more at: http://www.etupdates.com/fair-use-notice/#.UpzWQRL3l5M | ET. Updates

All Blogs licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Privatization Is A Move Backwards

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

Privatization: A Move Backwards

Republicans, neo-conservatives and tea party fanatics are all clamoring for “privatization,” characterizing it as the panacea for America’s economic woes. And, as privatization moves forward rapidly in the United States, there has been no overall collective discussion among the citizens of this country as to whether we want it or not.

The corporate oligarchs, who have stolen the wealth of the entire country (and are hoarding it for their own benefit) love privatization, because, for them, it translates into the demise of governmental control and regulations affecting their businesses. They can act without any need for accountability or adherence to the responsibilities that come from government oversight.

With privatization, the billionaires can ignore the environmental impact of their actions, as well as the social implications of creating non-union, unregulated working conditions. For them, it’s similar to re-instituting slave labor, with the minimal wages and benefits needed to placate an unorganized workforce.

The goal is simple. As Naomi Klein describes this “rapid-fire privatization”:

First, governments must remove all rules and regulations standing in the way of the accumulation of profits. Second, they should sell off any assets they own that corporations could be running at a profit. And third, they should dramatically cut back funding of social programs.1

In short, for the super rich, privatization means that natural resources and human resources are controlled by the employer, and not by any public or community group. The only recourse individuals have for corporate abuse is to quit working for a particular employer, and seek employment from another tyrant, who most likely shares the same power and control as the first employer.

It is obvious why the oligarchs are fighting tooth and nail for privatization. But why in the world would anybody but the rich support such a system?

There are three possible reasons why the average American might assist the oligarchs in obtaining their goals:

1) The working class has been duped into believing that bureaucratic structures and governmental waste is the source of our crumbling economy. This theory suggests that if it weren’t for Washington insiders, the distribution of wealth in the country would not be so unbalanced and unfair, but would reflect the healthy growth associated with Apple, Exxon and Google.

2) America’s white working class has been persuaded by the oligarchs and their lapdogs in the media that minorities, foreigners, the unemployed and the mentally infirm are the cause of the failing economy; therefore, the theory goes, assistance provided to any of these groups threatens the economic security of working people. The only solution oligarchs put forth is to cut all social services and benefits to anybody but the rich.

3) A third significant factor is that the oligarchs have so devastated our natural resources and economy that the working class is barely surviving. Again, people who are struggling to survive hunt for scapegoats, and it points towards the weak and the dispossessed — not towards the rich and powerful. Working people look in the wrong direction for solutions to their problems.

What is so pathetic about this particular moment in history is that the drive for privatization is the worst possible solution for our problems. In fact, it will result in even more chaos and poverty for the great majority of our people. There are several reasons for this:

1) A healthy economy requires a healthy, educated populace. Because this is so, public education should be free, and a right for all. Instead of making a college education so expensive that it is a form of indentured servitude, it should be the responsibility of the state to make it available to all who can participate.

2) Similarly, a healthy population is a mentally and physically productive one. Health care should be the responsibility of the government, and 100% of the population should be protected by our health care system. An unhealthy population is unable to support itself.

3) Those who want to work and are able to do so should be assured of a job. Their employment should not depend upon the whims of a corporate oligarch, who is seeking to maximize profits; but rather, the representatives of the entire society who benefit from full employment.

4) A just society protects its citizens, and finds the best possible alternatives for those unable to work and live independently. Corporate oligarchs couldn’t care less about people who don’t bring them profit. But the society needs to nurture and assist those who, for any number of reasons, are unable to remain productive members of society. We don’t euthanize the elderly, the sick and the weak, simply because they can’t find employment at the local Walmart. Instead, a strong nation does its best to protect this segment of the population.

The underpinnings of why privatization is so counter-productive is that the resources of the entire nation should be in the hands of the majority, whose motivation for action is the collective need, and not in the hands of oligarchs, whose motives revolve around profit and personal aggrandizement. It is the government, and not corporate oligarchs, who recognize the waste and implications of short-term profit over long-term needs. Decisions about the allocation of resources, full employment, health and educational benefits should lie in the hands of the citizenry, and not as the personal property of a select few.

When one reviews the history of privatization throughout world history, one sees those institutions and periods in which that theory thrived: the feudal ages, private kingdoms, and ruling dynasties. Unfortunately, the direction of the future points to “privatization” as a right of an anointed royalty, and not of the people, who would seek to place the needs of all and the wealth of the nation in the hands of the many, and not the few.

  1. Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine, Metropolitan Books, NY, 2007, p. 57 []

Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law. Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues. She is the former associate director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force. Read other articles by Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken, or visit Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken's website.

Friday, September 2, 2011

U.S. Awash in Oil and Lies, Report Charges


Published on Friday, September 2, 2011 by Inter Press Service

With four times as many oil rigs pumping domestic oil today than eight years ago and declining domestic demand, the United States is awash in oil. In fact, the U.S. exports more oil than it imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration - and has done so for nearly two decades.

The country's oil industry is primarily interested in who will pay the most on the global marketplace. They call that "energy security" when it suits, but in reality it is "oil company security" through maximizing profits, say energy experts like Steve Kretzman of Oil Change International, an NGO that researches the links between oil, gas and coal companies and governments.

A young woman holds a sign in front of the white house urging President Obama to reject the keystone pipeline. She was joined by 46 others who engaged in civil disobedience and were arrested on August 25th, 2011. (photo: Milan Ilnyckyj / Tar Sands Action)

The only reason U.S. citizens may be forced to endure a risky, Canadian-owned oil pipeline called Keystone XL is so oil companies with billion-dollar profits can get the dirty oil from Canada's tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico to export to Europe, Latin America or Asia, according to a new report by Oil Change International released Wednesday.

"Keystone XL will not lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but rather transport Canadian oil to American refineries for export to overseas markets," concludes the report, titled "Exporting Energy Security".

Little of the 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil pumped through the 2,400-kilometre, seven-billion-dollar Keystone XL will end up in U.S. gas tanks because the refineries on the Gulf Coast are all about expanding export markets. One huge refinery operator called Valero has been touting the potential export revenues of tar sands oil to investors, the report found.

Because Keystone XL crosses national borders, President Barack Obama has to issue a permit declaring the pipeline serves the "national interest" in order to be approved.

"The only way Keystone XL could be considered in the national interest is if you equate that with profits for the oil industry," said Kretzman, who wrote the report.

Canada's huge tar sands deposits, located mainly in the far north of the province of Alberta, are the world's second largest oil reserves, but they are landlocked. It's the industry's biggest worry and also Alberta Energy Minister Ron Lieper's biggest concern.

Lieper recently said that without new pipelines "our greatest risk in Alberta is that by 2020 we will be landlocked in bitumen". Bitumen is thick tarry oil from the tar sands that needs lots of high-energy and chemical processing to be useable - one reason it's widely considered the world's dirtiest oil.

The shortest route to the big Asian markets is through the Rocky Mountains to Canada's west coast via the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. However, Canadian native people live on some of the land and are staunchly opposed, so the industry thought it would be easier to put an export pipeline right through the U.S. heartland, said Kretzman.

"The oil industry would have done the Northern Gateway first but gambled that resistance to the pipeline would be far weaker in the mid-west," he told IPS.

They were wrong.

Thousands of people, including landowners and religious leaders, have gone to Washington DC in the past two weeks to tell President Obama to reject Keystone. Nearly 850 people have been arrested for standing on the sidewalk in front of the White House in what protesters call the largest civil disobedience in the history of the U.S. climate movement.

"It's remarkable, a very dignified and moving protest much like the civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s," said Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, a large environmental NGO.

"This is about the rights of the environment and future generations. It is the blossoming of a new movement," Barlow told IPS from Washington.

Other massive pipelines are being planned, including ones bringing tar sands crude to New England and the Great Lakes, she said. "Keystone is just the beginning. Once these are built they will have to put something in them."

Infrastructure dictates policy, she stressed. Once pipelines, refineries or power plants are built, it is nearly impossible for governments to shut them down.

Last year, scientists writing in the journal Science concluded there is already enough fossil fuel burning capacity to raise global temperatures by 1.5 degrees C by 2060. Any additional power plants, vehicles, or other fossil fuel burning equipment built from 2011 onward puts humanity at ever greater risk of catastrophic climate change.

"We conclude that sources of the most threatening emissions have yet to built," the scientists wrote.

The Obama administration knows this but the powerful oil lobby can use its unlimited funds to attack Democratic officials during the next election cycle if they don't approve the pipeline, says Kretzman.

Changes to U.S. law in 2010 allow corporations to spend as much as they want on elections, and there is no sector with more money than the oil industry.

"That scares the hell out of the Obama administration," he said.

It's never been clearer that corporations wield the real power in the United States and Canada, activists say.

"This is the beginning of a very big fight for the future," Barlow told IPS.

So Much for the Polar Bears - Arctic Drilling to Begin

Latest Oil, Gas and INvestor news; Oil Price.com

So Much for the Polar Bears - Arctic Drilling to Begin

Written by John Daly
Thursday, 01 September 2011 13:59

Investors: Free Shale Oil Investment Report – The Shale revolution is just getting started and we have prepared a free report which shows 3 stocks that could soon find their share prices soaring. Click here for your Free report.

The “good” news for wildlife around the Arctic Circle is that BP, renowned despoiler of the Gulf of Mexico, will not be coming.

BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred as the Macondo blowout), which surged for three months, has won a place in the Guinness book of records as the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

The bad news is that U.S. oil international Exxon Mobil has sealed an Arctic oil exploration deal with Russia’s state-owned oil firm Rosneft, following an agreement signed on 29 August in the presence of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Proving that the Cold War is well and truly dead, at least for multinationals, Putin gushed, "New horizons are opening up. One of the world's leading companies, Exxon Mobil, is starting to work on Russia's strategic shelf and deepwater continental shelf. The potential oil fields are some of the largest in circumpolar Arctic offshore area.

The contract stipulates that Exxon Mobil and Rosneft will jointly spend $3.2 billion on deepwater exploration in the Russian federation’s East Prinovozemelskii region of the Kara Sea.

Of course, Exxon Mobil did not walk away empty-handed, as the agreement also allows it to begin oil prospecting in the Black Sea. And Rosneft, pushing away from the casino table, will be permitted to develop fields in the Gulf of Mexico and Texas.

Last but not least, the two companies will also cooperate on the development of oil fields in Western Siberia, where production has been in decline for more than a decade.

But let’s get back to the Kara Sea for a moment.

Sandwiched between Novaiia Zemliia island and the Severnaia Zemliia archipelago, compared to its western neighbor, Compared to the Barents Sea, which receives warm Atlantic currents, the Kara Sea is much colder because of its isolation, remaining frozen for over nine months a year. The ice-locked sea is navigable only during August and September.

Furthermore, as the Kara Sea receives a vast amount of freshwater from the northwards flowing Siberian Ob, Yenisei, Pyasina, and Taimyra rivers, its salinity is variable, introducing yet another hydrological element of uncertainty into the proposed exploration.

Of course, what’s a few oil spills amongst comrades? After all, Russian environmentalist groups have protested for years that Russia’s Arctic regions were used as isolated dumping grounds for nuclear waste, and according to a March 1993 Russian Federation government official White Paper" between 1965-1988 the Soviet Union dumped six nuclear submarine reactors and ten nuclear reactors into the Kara Sea, along with solid high- and low-level wastes unloaded from Northern Fleet nuclear submarines. What are a few errant hydrocarbons gonna do admixed with some becquerels?

In an eerie echo of insistent Republican choruses of “drill, baby drill” for Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the proposed Kara Sea operations will impact the Russian Federation’s Great Arctic State Nature Reserve, the nation’s largest and in fact, the most massive in all of Europe, which was established in May 1993 by Resolution No.431 of the Russian Federation government. The Kara Sea reserve elements included the Sergei Kirov Archipelago, Voronina Island, the Izvestiy TSIK Islands, the Arctic Institute Islands, Svordrup Island, Uedineniya Island and a number of smaller islands.

And how will that precious oil be transported?

By tanker, of course.

In this regard, consider a report by Russian environmental Group Bellona about the 16 March 2009 incident where the nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal collided with the 16.168 ton tanker Indiga during ice escort duty in the Kara Sea, which was shuttling between the oil terminal in the Gulf of Ob and the floating oil storage vessel Belokamenka in the Kola Bay. The Indiga suffered a 31foot-long crack on its main deck from the impact of the collision, but fortunately the tanker was only carrying ballast at the time.

The Kara Sea oil exploration concept is one of those ideas that look good in boardrooms but bad in reality. The severe climate, combined with the difficulties of oil transport, should give pause to all except those inhaling seven figure salaries and three martini lunches. And never mind the fact that the waters contain some of the world’s richest fishing grounds.

The Exxon Mobil-Rosneft alliance has the tacit blessing of both the U.S. and Russian governments, so it will more than likely go forward.

Offshore drilling comes with attendant risks unlike land-based exploration, which the Macondo blowout proved. If it took BP three months to shut down its well in the relatively shallow and warm waters of the gulf of Mexico, then how do Exxon Mobil and Rossneft propose to deal with a similar incident in waters several hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle that are frozen for all but two months of the year?

Guess we’ll find out.

Good thing that polar bears can’t vote, but then, they’re an endangered species anyway, so even if they could, there are too few to matter.

By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com