Category: Corporatocracy


US ambassador to Kosovo hired by construction firm he lobbied for

  • The Guardian, Monday 14 April 2014 11.53 EDT
Christopher Dell with Kosovo PM
Christopher Dell with Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci in 2009. Dell took joined Bechtel when he finished his career at the State Department. Photo: Office of the Kosovo PM

A US ambassador to Kosovo, who lobbied for the construction of a $1bn road through the war-torn country, has taken up a post with the American construction giant that secured the lucrative contract.

Christopher Dell, a career diplomat nominated by Barack Obama to represent the US in Pristina, was employed by the Bechtel Corporation, which he helped win a contract to build a highway to neighbouring Albania.

Dell took on a role as an African country manager with Bechtel late last year, months after ending a three-decade career at the State Department.

His employment at Bechtel, America’s largest engineering and construction firm, has ignited a debate over the controversial road-building project, named the “Patriotic Highway”.

Pieter Feith, the senior EU diplomat in Kosovo when the contract was secured, criticised the way the US ambassador pushed through the deal, and has called for an inquiry. Feith accused Dell of withholding information about the Bechtel contract, and lobbying Kosovo to agree to what he describes as an ill-advised deal with a US company, which placed enormous pressure on the fledgling country’s budget.

It is routine for western ambassadors to push the business interests of companies from the countries they come from. But it is unusual for a former diplomat to land a job with a major corporation after using their sway to secure lucrative government contracts.

After he was appointed ambassador in 2009, Dell had huge influence in Kosovo, where the US is widely viewed as a supervising power and is feted for its role in securing independence for the tiny Balkan state. A statue of President Clinton adorns the capital, Pristina, and boulevards are named after George W Bush and other US officials.

As the International Civilian Representative in Kosovo between 2008 and 2012, Feith was the other major figure in the country, entrusted with wide-ranging powers by the US and EU, including the ability to overrule Kosovan officials. For several years, Feith and Dell served side by side, the two most senior foreign officials supervising Kosovo’s campaign for recognition as a sovereign state following the 1999 war.

At the time Dell was encouraging Kosovo’s government to sign the highway contract, Feith said he had grave concerns about awarding the enormous contract to a consortium consisting of Bechtel and its partner, Turkish firm Enka. Feith believed the deal risked undermining Pristina’s finances.

Feith said he clashed with Dell over the logic of an impoverished, nascent country undertaking such a huge infrastructure project, and instead argued that the money should be spent on tackling Kosovo’s unemployment rate, which stood at 40%.

Feith also said he asked to see details of the contract, which he believed was part of his mandate, but was denied access by the US embassy. “Information was withheld, and all of a sudden we were presented with a fait accompli of this contract being concluded and being a liability on the budget,” he told the Guardian.

The Bechtel-Enka deal was signed in April 2010, despite concerns from the IMF, the World Bank, EU diplomats, Feith, and the Kosovan government’s own legal adviser. Dell and the State Department declined requests for comment. Bechtel defended its employment of the former ambassador and said any suggestion that his appointment was improper was “unfair and offensive”.

But Andrea Capussela, who served as head of Feith’s economic department in Kosovo and was a vocal critic of the road-building scheme, said: “Ambassador Dell’s employment at Bechtel raises a rather serious question mark over the whole project.”

“This contract was irrational for Kosovo, and caused considerable damage to it,” he added. “The State Department would do well to investigate this.”

Feith declined to comment on Dell’s employment at Bechtel. However, he did say a wider inquiry into the probity of the highway deal was warranted, although he did not specify which organisation would conduct such an investigation.

“We have been involved in the fight against corruption in Kosovo, and anything that can help, ex-post, to clarify, elucidate or provide transparency about what has happened is beneficial for the future of the young state,” he said. “If there is an investigation, I would welcome it.”

The government in Pristina argues that the Patriotic Highway has connected northern Albania and Kosovo, replacing crumbling mountain roads with a four-lane highway, and will provide an economic injection into the region. However, critics point out that its costs have more than doubled from the original estimate.

The initial offer was to complete the Kosovo section of the highway for $555m (€400m). The price subsequently rose to $916m (€660m), to pay for 102km of road. In the end, the project cost $1.13bn (€820m) for what turned out be only a 77km stretch of highway. By comparison, Kosovo’s total government budget in 2012 was €1.5bn.

 

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Bechtel Delivers Second Stretch of the Kosovo Motorway Ahead of Schedule and Within Budget

Completion Marked With Launch of Motorway Safety Campaign

By Marketwired .  July 13, 2012 02:48 PM EDT

LONDON — (Marketwire) — 07/13/12 — Bechtel and its joint venture partner, Enka, have completed an additional 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) of the Kosovo motorway bringing the total distance completed to 26.4 miles (42.5 km). The new section, which opened today, connects to the stretch of motorway delivered in November 2011 which goes from Morinë at the border with Albania to Suhareka. The motorway now extends to the Dule interchange in Northern Kosovo. The latest stretch of motorway was built in less than a year, ahead of schedule and within budget.

“Each day we are getting closer to our dream of achieving the Kosovo motorway, thanks to Bechtel-Enka. The motorway is already making a huge difference to the lives of Kosovans with reduced journey times but people should drive safely too,” said Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi.

To mark the opening of the new motorway section, Bechtel and Enka, together with the Kosovo government, launched a new safety campaign along the Kosovo motorway with the slogan: “Yes to Safety, No to Speed.” The week-long campaign aims to encourage responsible driving on Kosovo’s first motorway and includes postcards and promotional cars along the route displaying the safety message.

“Safety is one of our core values. We hope our motorway safety awareness campaign will make drivers think twice about driving safely and not speeding on the new motorway,” said Mike Adams, president of Bechtel’s civil infrastructure unit.

When complete, the full 63.4-mile (102-km) motorway will extend from Morinë to the north of Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, and will serve as the centerpiece of Kosovo’s national transport system, helping to promote trade and economic development in Kosovo and throughout the region. The motorway is scheduled for completion in 2013.

 

 

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Consumer alert: GMO labeling to be outlawed by ‘Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act’ introduced today in Congress

 

GMO

Thursday, April 10, 2014
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles…)

 

(NaturalNews) A proposed new federal law just introduced by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (a Democrat) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (a Republican) would outlaw state-enacted GMO labeling laws. The new law, ridiculously called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, is actually an last-ditch, desperate effort by the biotech industry and the GMA to forever bury the truth about GMOs so that consumers don’t know they’re eating poison.

According to mainstream media reports (1), the bill would require the FDA to mandate GMO labeling only if those foods “are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without biotech ingredients.”

Because the FDA and USDA have already decided, against all scientific evidence, that GMOs are “safe” and “not materially different” from other foods, this requirement is nothing but sheer sleight of hand and a pandering to idiocy. In truth, this new bill, if passed into law, would allow food companies to permanently and insidiously hide GMOs in all their products forever, nullifying the numerous state-based GMO labeling laws which are on the verge of passing.

The Environmental Working Group calls this proposed new law the “DARK Act” (Denying Americans the Right to Know), saying:

After two states have passed GE labeling bills and more than 30 others are poised to consider similar labeling bills and ballot initiatives, the food and biotech industry have goat-roped some members of Congress into introducing legislation to block state GE labeling laws.

Push for GMOs run by criminally-minded organizations

GMOs have already been restricted or banned in over 60 countries (2), and Americans are very close to achieving victory in state-based GMO labeling campaigns. The very idea that American consumers might find out they’ve been eating GMO poisons in most of their favorite foods is so horrifying to the biotech industry (and the processed food front groups) that its enforcers are now seeking this “nuclear option” to legally deceive consumers about GMOs with the complicity of the FDA.

 

Read More Here

 

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U.S. bill seeks to block mandatory GMO food labeling by states

April 9 Wed Apr 9, 2014 12:46pm EDT

(Reuters) – A Republican congressman from Kansas introduced legislation on Wednesday that would nullify efforts in multiple states to require labeling of genetically modified foods

The bill, dubbed the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” was drafted by U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, and is aimed at overriding bills in roughly two dozen states that would require foods made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled as such.

The bill specifically prohibits any mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.

“We’ve got a number of states that are attempting to put together a patchwork quilt of food labeling requirements with respect to genetic modification of foods,” said Pompeo. “That makes it enormously difficult to operate a food system. Some of the campaigns in some of these states aren’t really to inform consumers but rather aimed at scaring them. What this bill attempts to do is set a standard.”

Consumer groups have been arguing for labeling because of questions they have both about the safety for human health and the environmental impacts of genetically modified foods, also called GMOs.

Ballot measures in California in 2012 and last year in Washington state narrowly lost after GMO crop developers, including Monsanto Co., and members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) poured millions into campaigns to defeat the measures.

The companies say the crops are safe and cite many scientific studies back those claims. Pompeo on Wednesday reiterated those claims, stating GMOS are safe and “equally healthy” and no labeling is needed.

“It has to date made food safer and more abundant,” said Pompeo. “It has been an enormous boon to all of humanity.”

But there are also many scientific studies showing links to human and animal health problems, and many indicating environmental damage related to GMO crops.

 

Read More Here

 

 

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Congress considers blocking GMO food labeling

Published time: April 09, 2014 20:10
Edited time: April 10, 2014 11:01
AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

A new bill introduced in Congress looks to ban states from implementing their own labeling laws when it comes to food containing genetically engineered ingredients.

According to Reuters, US Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced the legislation on Wednesday, which is intended to head off bills in about 24 states that would require companies to inform customers when their food is produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Titled the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” the proposal would forbid states from enacting such proposals.

“We’ve got a number of states that are attempting to put together a patchwork quilt of food labeling requirements with respect to genetic modification of foods,” Pompeo told Reuters. “That makes it enormously difficult to operate a food system. Some of the campaigns in some of these states aren’t really to inform consumers but rather aimed at scaring them. What this bill attempts to do is set a standard.”

Supporters of GMO labeling argue that modified ingredients pose a threat to human health, and that as a result they should be clearly labeled in the marketplace so that consumers can make informed decisions. In addition to health concerns, they also point to the negative environmental consequences that could arise from widespread GMO use, since millions of acres of farmland and weeds are developing resistances to the pesticides used.

Opponents, however, point to their own studies, showing that GMO crops are safe and therefore do not need to be labeled differently than other products.

 

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This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…

By Michael Snyder, on April 6th, 2014

Warren Buffett - Photo by Mark Hirschey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The level of employment in the United States has been declining since the year 2000.  There have been moments when things have appeared to have been getting better for a short period of time, and then the decline has resumed.  Thanks to the offshoring of millions of jobs, the replacement of millions of workers with technology and the overall weakness of the U.S. economy, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is significantly lower than it was when this century began.  And even though things have stabilized at a reduced level over the past few years, it is only a matter of time until the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes and the employment level goes even lower.  And the truth is that more good jobs are being lost every single day in America.  For example, as you will read about below, Warren Buffett is shutting down a Fruit of the Loom factory in Kentucky and moving it to Honduras just so that he can make a little bit more money.  We see this kind of betrayal over and over again, and it is absolutely ripping the middle class of America to shreds.

Below I have posted a chart that you never hear any of our politicians talk about.  It is a chart that shows how the percentage of working age Americans with a job has steadily declined since the turn of the century.  Just before the last recession, we were sitting at about 63 percent, but now we have been below 59 percent since the end of 2009…

Employment Population Ratio 2014

We should be thankful that things have stabilized at this lower level for the past few years.

At least things have not been getting worse.

But anyone that believes that “things have returned to normal” is just being delusional.

And nothing is being done about the long-term trends that are absolutely crippling our economy.  One of those trends is the offshoring of middle class jobs.  As I mentioned above, Fruit of the Loom (which is essentially owned by Warren Buffett) has made the decision to close their factory in Jamestown, Kentucky and lay off all the workers at that factory by the end of 2014

Clothing company Fruit of the Loom announced Thursday that it will permanently close its plant in Jamestown and lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year.

The Jamestown plant is the last Fruit of the Loom plant in a state where the company had once been a manufacturing titan second only to General Electric.

This isn’t being done because Fruit of the Loom is going out of business.  They are still going to be making t-shirts and underwear.  They are just going to be making them in Honduras from now on…

The company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway but headquartered in Bowling Green, said the move is “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster.

The company said it is moving the plant’s textile operations to Honduras to save money.

So what are those workers supposed to do?

Go on welfare?

The number of Americans that are dependent on the government is already at an all-time record high.

And doesn’t Warren Buffett already have enough money?

In business school, they teach you that the sole responsibility of a corporation is to maximize wealth for the shareholders.

And so when business students get out into “the real world”, that is how they behave.

But the truth is that corporations have a responsibility to treat their workers, their customers and the communities in which they operate well.  This responsibility exists whether corporate executives want to admit it or not.

And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens.  When we stand aside and do nothing as millions of good paying American jobs are shipped overseas so that the “one world economic agenda” can be advanced and so that men like Warren Buffett can stuff their pockets just a little bit more, we are failing our fellow countrymen.

Because so many of us have fallen for the lie that “globalism is good”, we have allowed our once great manufacturing cities to crumble and die.  Just consider what is happening to Detroit.  It was once the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the planet, but now foreign newspapers publish stories about what a horror show that it has become…

 

Read More Here

 

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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Division of Labor Force Statistic

 

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                    USDL-14-0530
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, April 4, 2014

Technical information: 
  Household data:         (202) 691-6378  •  cpsinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cps
  Establishment data:     (202) 691-6555  •  cesinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:	          (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                              THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- MARCH 2014


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate
was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Employment grew in professional and business services, in health care, and in mining
and logging.

Household Survey Data

In March, the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 10.5 million,
and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent. Both measures have shown little movement
since December 2013. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment
rate were down by 1.2 million and 0.8 percentage point, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women increased to 6.2
percent in March, and the rate for adult men decreased to 6.2 percent. The rates for
teenagers (20.9 percent), whites (5.8 percent), blacks (12.4 percent), and Hispanics
(7.9 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.4 percent
(not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2,
and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 3.7 million,
changed little in March; these individuals accounted for 35.8 percent of the unemployed.
The number of long-term unemployed was down by 837,000 over the year. (See table A-12.)

Both the civilian labor force and total employment increased in March. The labor force
participation rate (63.2 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.9 percent)
changed little over the month. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part
time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was
little changed at 7.4 million in March. These individuals were working part time because
their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. (See
table A-8.)

In March, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed
from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not
in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime
in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched
for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in March, down 
slightly from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor
force in March had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March. Job growth averaged 183,000
per month over the prior 12 months. In March, employment grew in professional and business
services, in health care, and in mining and logging. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 57,000 jobs in March, in line with its average
monthly gain of 56,000 over the prior 12 months. Within the industry, employment increased
in March in temporary help services (+29,000), in computer systems design and related
services (+6,000), and in architectural and engineering services (+5,000).

In March, health care added 19,000 jobs. Employment in ambulatory health care services
rose by 20,000, with a gain of 9,000 jobs in home health care services. Nursing care
facilities lost 5,000 jobs over the month. Job growth in health care averaged 17,000 per
month over the prior 12 months.

Employment in mining and logging rose in March (+7,000), with the bulk of the increase
occurring in support activities for mining (+5,000). Over the prior 12 months, the mining
and logging industry added an average of 3,000 jobs per month.

Employment continued to trend up in March in food services and drinking places (+30,000).
Over the past year, food services and drinking places has added 323,000 jobs.

Construction employment continued to trend up in March (+19,000). Over the past year,
construction employment has risen by 151,000.

Employment in government was unchanged in March. A decline of 9,000 jobs in federal
government was mostly offset by an increase of 8,000 jobs in local government, excluding
education. Over the past year, employment in federal government has fallen by 85,000.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail
trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities, changed
little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2
hour in March to 34.5 hours, offsetting a net decline over the prior 3 months. The
manufacturing workweek rose by 0.3 hour in March to 41.1 hours, and factory overtime
rose by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory
employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.3 hour to 33.7 hours. (See
tables B-2 and B-7.)

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged
down by 1 cent to $24.30, following a 9 cent increase in February. Over the year,
average hourly earnings have risen by 49 cents, or 2.1 percent. In March, average
hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down
by 2 cents to $20.47. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +129,000 to
+144,000, and the change for February was revised from +175,000 to +197,000. With these
revisions, employment gains in January and February were 37,000 higher than previously
reported.

_____________
The Employment Situation for April is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 2, 2014,
at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).



 

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Another Fraudulent Jobs Report — Paul Craig Roberts

Another Fraudulent Jobs Report

Paul Craig Roberts

The March payroll jobs report released April 4 claims 192,000 new private sector jobs.
Here is what John Williams has to say about the claim:

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) deliberately publishes its seasonally-adjusted historical payroll-employment and household-survey (unemployment) data so that the numbers are neither consistent nor comparable with current headline reporting.  The upside revisions to the January and February monthly jobs gains, and the relatively strong March payroll showing, reflected nothing more than concealed, favorable shifts in underlying seasonal factors, hidden by the lack of consistent BLS reporting.  In like manner, consistent month-to-month changes in the unemployment rate or labor force simply are not knowable, because the BLS cloaks the consistent and comparable numbers.”

Here is what Dave Kranzler has to say: “the employment report is probably the most deceptively fraudulent report produced by the Government.”

As I have pointed out for a decade, the “New Economy” jobs that we were promised in exchange for our manufacturing jobs and tradable professional service jobs that were offshored have never shown up. The transnational corporations and their hired shills among economists lied to us. Not even a jobs report as deceptive and fraudulent as the BLS payroll jobs report can hide the fact that Congress, the White House, and the American people have sat sucking their thumbs while corporations maximized profits for the one percent at the expense of everyone else in the United States.

Let’s look at where the alleged jobs are. The BLS jobs report says that 28,400 jobs were created in March in wholesale and retail sales. March is the month that Macy’s, Sears, JC Penny, Staples, Radio Shack, Office Depot, and other retailers announced combined closings of several thousand stores, but more retail clerks were hired.

The BLS payroll jobs report claims 57,000 jobs in “professional and business services.” Are these jobs for lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and managers? No. The combined new jobs for these middle class professional skills totaled 10,400. Employment services accounted for 42,000 of the jobs in “professional and business services” of which temporary help accounted for 28,500.

 

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Posted: 04/02/2014 9:55 am EDT Updated: 04/02/2014 5:59 pm EDT
ORGANIC EGGS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

When most Americans think about organic meat or eggs, they picture animals on small farms, allowed to root in the soil, feel sun on their backs, and engage in their natural behaviors. What they don’t picture is tens of thousands of hens crammed into massive sheds with no access to soil and extremely limited outdoor access.

Unfortunately, the USDA stamped its seal of approval on the latter scenario by refusing to implement its own advisory board’s animal welfare recommendations, which would have created a level playing field for the hundreds of small organic farms that were the basis for the standards. These recommendations would not have required “good” conditions, but they would have set a reasonable floor by requiring improvements from the five massive “organic” egg farms that provide the worst hen welfare.

The USDA’s decision doesn’t just violate our moral intuitions and the expectations of organic consumers; it also violates the Department’s legal mandate in at least two distinct ways.

First, USDA is statutorily required “to establish national [organic guidelines that] meet a consistent standard.” In 2005 and again in 2010, USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that animal welfare standards were applied inconsistently, in violation of the Act’s legal requirement that USDA ensure “that [organic] products meet consistent, uniform standards.”

By requiring improvements from the five mega-farms such that their hen welfare standards would align with that of the hundreds of smaller farms, adopting the advisory board’s recommendations would create this statutorily-mandated consistency. Ignoring those recommendations places USDA in violation of its legal mandate.

 

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Oil firm agrees to abide by EPA monitoring arrangements for five years, allowing it to bid for drilling contracts in Gulf of Mexico
BP

BP is still awaiting a US court ruling about whether it was grossly negligent over the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

BP is closer to restoring its operations and reputation in the US after agreeing a deal with environmental protection authorities that it will enable the oil firm to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British-based group had started legal proceedings against the US environmental protection agency (EPA) which had banned BP from new contracts on the grounds that it had failed to correct problems properly since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

BP said it had now dropped its law suit after resolving outstanding problems with the EPA but the firm will have to abide by monitoring arrangements with the agency for the next five years.

“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, head of BP America. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”

Read More Here

 

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March 18, 2014

Huffpost Business

Government Declares BP a ‘Responsible’ Contractor: Workers and Taxpayers Beware

A scant five days before the Department of Interior opens a new round of bids for oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA has blinked, pronouncing BP, the incorrigible corporate scofflaw of the new millennium, once again fit to do business with the government.

To get right to the point, the federal government’s decision that BP has somehow paid its debt and should once again be eligible for federal contracts is a disgrace. Not only does it let BP off the hook, it sends an unmistakable signal to the rest of the energy industry: That no matter how much harm you do, no matter how horrid your safety record, the feds will cut you some slack.

Back in 2012, the agency’s intrepid staff had finally gotten permission to pull the trigger on the company, de-barring it from holding any new U.S. contracts on the grounds that it was not running its business in a “responsible” way. Undoubtedly under pressure by the Cameron government and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, BP’s most loyal customer, the EPA settled its debarment suit for a sweet little consent decree that will try to improve the company’s sense of ethics by having “independent” auditors come visit once a year.

To review the grim record: BP, now the third-largest energy company in the world, is the first among the roster of companies that have caused the most memorable industrial fiascos in the post-modern age.

  • Its best-known disaster, the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig moored in the Gulf of Mexico that BP had hired to develop its lease of the Macondo well, killed 11 and deposited 205 million gallons of crude oil along the southern coast of the United States — the worst environmental disaster in American history.
  • In a troubling precursor, another explosion killed 15 and injured 180 at the company’s Texas City refinery in July 2005. This incident happened even after the plant manager there had gone on bended knee to John Manzoni, BP’s second in command worldwide, to plead for money to address severe maintenance problems that jeopardized safety at that plant after a consultant surveying refinery workers reported that many thought they ran a real risk of being killed at work. Those fears were warranted, it turned out.
  • Also in 2005, 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope.

 

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AMTV AMTV

Published on Mar 5, 2014

In today’s video, Christopher Greene of AMTV reports that States are beginning to secede from the Union.
http://www.amtvmedia.com/re-direct-am…

 

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Texas Independence Day Highlights State’s Ongoing Secession Efforts

 

 


 

As Texas celebrated its annual “Texas Independence Day,” many in the state’s government leadership and ongoing secession movement say Texas is finally preparing to become an “independent nation,” from the United States. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

As Texas celebrated its annual “Texas Independence Day,” many in the state’s government leadership and ongoing secession movement say Texas is finally preparing to become an “independent nation,” from the United States. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

 

Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – As Texas celebrated its annual “Texas Independence Day,” many in the state’s government leadership and ongoing secession movement say Texas is finally preparing to become an “independent nation.”

 

The 178th anniversary of the 59 settlers’ signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence commemorates the Lone Star State’s March 2, 1836 break from Mexico to create the Republic of Texas. With the Alamo famously under siege, the delegates declared their independence and today the only state that ever won a war to become its own country celebrates March 2 as its own official “national” holiday.

 

The U.S. brought Texas in as the 28th state of the Union in an event known as the Texas Annexation of 1845.

 

But recent rhetoric from anti-tax Tea Partiers, libertarians and state officials alike suggests that the secession movement may be moving a step beyond parties and re-enactments, The Inquisitr reported.

 

Texas Attorney General candidate Barry Smitherman has openly expressed the possibility of Texas secession.

 

Read More Here

 

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Texas Independence Day Brings Up Secession: Do Texans Still Want To Secede?

 

Texas Independence Day Brings Up Secession: Do Texans Still Want To Secede?

 

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Texas Independence Day is not only about celebrating separation from Mexico and becoming its own nation for a time. According to some, the Texas secession movement uses it as a time to discuss having Texas secede from the United States.

 

In a related report by The Inquisitr, most people would call efforts to have Texas secede illegal, but a careful reading of the Texas v. White Supreme Court ruling on the Texas secession during the Civil War era seems to leave a little bit of wiggle room.

 

Most people in the state celebrate Texas Independence Day with parties and re-enactments, but others point to the political movement still pushing for a Texas secession. For example, Texas Attorney General candidate Barry Smitherman openly says seceding is still a possibility:

 

“Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an ‘island nation’ if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water and roads as if we were a closed-loop system.”

 

Larry Kilgore is in the running to become Texas’ governor and he believes a “U.S. economic collapse cannot be avoided” and that the solution is for “”Texas to secede now or we will sink too.” Still, his chances at succeeding in his bid for the governorship are said to be relatively low compared to other candidates.

Read More Here

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Some Western Md. Residents Want To Form Their Own State

 

 


 

secession

 

 

Mary Bubala

 

WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) — A tale of two Marylands: Western Maryland and the rest of the state. Fed up with high taxes and gun control, some people want to break away and go it alone.

 

Mary Bubala explains why they’re trying to form their own state.

 

There’s a storm brewing over the beautiful mountains and valleys of Western Maryland. More and more people in those five counties say Governor Martin O’Malley is out of touch and they want to break away from the rest of the state.

 

“I can’t imagine Maryland without Western Maryland,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

 

“Do you actually care about your citizens?” questioned Rob Parr.

“I certainly don’t live in a bubble and I go around the state all the time,” O’Malley said.

 

“Why don’t you want to listen to people that you don’t agree with?” said Suzanne Olden.

 

“I spend my whole day listening,” O’Malley said.

 

Scott Strzelczyk, Suzanne Olden and Rob Parr are part of a growing group that wants to rip Maryland in two, creating the nation’s 51st state. They met recently at O’Lordan’s Irish Pub in Westminster to tell WJZ they’re fed up with politics as usual in Annapolis.

 

“If your vote doesn’t count, it’s the same as having no vote. We’re not free,” Strzelczyk said. “We’re doing exactly what they did in 1776. I just simply want to live as a free human being with limited government intrusion in my life and that’s really why I do this.”

 

Read More Here

 

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Western Marylanders push to secede from state

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Feb. 10, 2012: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley testifies in support of a same-sex marriage bill during a committee hearing in Annapolis, Md.AP

A push by frustrated western Maryland residents to part ways with their state is gaining momentum as the initiative turns to social media to get its message out.

Residents in Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll County, for months have been pushing an initiative to secede from the state and form a new one, called Western Maryland. Among the biggest problems the group has with Maryland are new gun restrictions, tax increases and what they call unfair district lines the group claims unfairly favor Democrats.

The western Maryland initiative now has nearly 9,000 Facebook “likes” since it was formed in July 2013. Activist Scott Strzelczyk  started the Facebook page as a way to bring dissatisfied residents together.

“Here at the state level, we’re controlled by a single party – Democrats – and we feel we have no other recourse,” he has told Fox News. “We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

They also have a beef with the high-crime city of Baltimore.

“Little mystery why this is the case,” the group states. “We don’t want our tax dollars going to Baltimore City or other parts of the state to support the same old failed policies. The solution is simple. We want our own state.”

 

Read More Here

 

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CBN News

 

 

GREELEY, Colo. — If you mention the word “secession” most people think of the South during the Civil War. But today, a new movement is gaining steam because of frustration over a growing, out-of-control federal government.

 

A number of conservative, rural Americans are taking about seceding and creating their own states, meaning a new map of the United States of America could include the following:

 

  • A 51st state called Jefferson, made up of Northern California and Southern Oregon
  • A new state called Western Maryland
  • A new state called North Colorado

 

These are real movements gaining traction with voters across the country. Jeffrey Hare runs the 51st State Initiative in Colorado, an effort to fight an out-of-control legislature trying to ram big government policies down the throats of voters.

 

“We’re at this point of irreconcilable differences,” Hare told CBN News.

 

Secessionist talk has filled town hall meetings and the divide discussed is not just ideological.

 

“It’s predominately left versus right, but it’s urban versus rural because you typically find more typical conservative values in rural America,” Hare said.

 

An Attack on Colorado?

 

That’s the crux of the issue. Rural Americans across many states feel they’re not being heard. Their laundry list is long and at the top of that list are stricter gun control laws.

 

According to Weld County, Colo., Sheriff John Cooke, the state legislature is out of control.

 

“They are out of touch with rural Colorado,” he said. “There is an attack on rural Colorado and it’s not just on gun control laws. It’s on several of the other bills that they passed.”

 

Government mandates on renewable energy, environmental policies restricting oil and gas drilling, and controversial social issues like gay marriage have also led to this divide and talk of secession.

 

Organizers want to create “North Colorado,” an idea that went to voters in 11 counties this past fall. But not everyone in Colorado thinks secession is a great idea.

 

“I don’t think that’s necessarily the way to make something happen within the area you live,” Colorado resident Greg Howe told CBN News. “You’re supposed to work within our electoral services.”

 

The so-called secession movement in Colorado had mixed results this past November. Some counties approved it. Others didn’t.

 

But the organizers of the 51st State Initiative are undaunted, saying this type of movement takes time.

 

“Movements take a while; education takes time,” Hare said. “People do have a hard time saying ,’I want to live in a different state,’ even though physically they live in the same house.”

 

“It’s hard for them since their lives have been Coloradoans,” he explained. “Their whole lives to say that ‘I’m going to be a new Coloradoan’ or ‘I want to live in the state of liberty’ or something different.”

Read More Here

 

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Idaho governor signs Ag Gag bill: Now illegal to investigate farm animal cruelty

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Idaho governor signs Ag Gag bill: Now illegal to investigate farm animal cruelty YouTube/Mercy for Animals

March 1, 2014

In Boise, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law Senate Bill 1337 on Friday; now making it illegal to do any undercover investigations at any of Idaho’s factory farms reports ABC News.

The controversial bill will now make it illegal to film inside of facilities or photograph any abusive activity involving farm animals including and not limited to the unsanitary handling of food products as well as environmental violations.

Idaho introduced the legislation after Mercy for Animals, an advocacy organization which has successfully investigated a number of egregious cruelty violations to farm animals and the mishandling of food on farms throughout the United States, conducted an undercover investigation on the Idaho dairy farm, Bettencourt Dairies.

A cruel and heartbreaking video showed workers beating cows, kicking them in the face, and dragging sick animals across concrete floors with chains around their necks. The video was turned over to law enforcement where criminal charges were brought against three of the workers. One worker has since pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

Read More Here

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Top American companies paid no federal income tax from '08 to '12 - new study

Many of the most profitable US corporations paid little or no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a five-year study issued by a left-leaning tax activist group.

Citizens for Tax Justice looked at 288 profitable Fortune 500 companies and said that 26 of them – including Boeing Co (BA.N), General Electric Co (GE.N) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) – paid no federal income tax in the five-year period.

The group also said that 111 of the 288 companies paid no federal income tax in at least one of the five years measured.

In a reflection of how the tax code’s complexity leaves many issues open to question, corporations sometimes dispute the way Citizens for Tax Justice calculates its numbers.

Some of the companies singled out took exception to the findings. GE spokesman Seth Martin said: “For each year cited by Citizens for Tax Justice, GE paid income taxes in the US, as well as billions in other state, local and federal taxes in the US.”

He added, “CTJ inaccurately uses the current tax provision – a book accounting number – to make definitive statements about our U.S. income taxes. This is not the same as the cash income tax that we pay for a given year.”

A key player in Washington’s tax debate, Citizens for Tax Justice regularly issues studies making similar findings about corporate taxes. U.S. lawmakers often cite them in criticizing the tax code as too complex and riddled with loopholes.

Despite complaints about it from across the political spectrum, the tax code seldom changes. It has not been thoroughly overhauled in 27 years. Congress is unlikely to do that in 2014, said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

“I have no hope for that happening this year,” he told reporters at the US Capitol on Tuesday, blaming lawmakers’ stubborn fiscal gridlock on Democrats seeking tax increases.

Republican Representative Dave Camp, who heads the top tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives, is slated to unveil tax reform draft legislation on Wednesday, though it is widely expected to sit on the shelf with previous such drafts.

One of the main obstacles to reform is the abundance of tax breaks in the code that benefit corporations and individuals, lowering the effective tax rates of both and giving them ample reason to resist tax changes that would harm their interests.

Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said the aerospace manufacturer’s tax bills are largely deferred until it starts generating revenue from airplane sales. “We play by the rules. We pay our taxes,” he said, adding Boeing’s total effective tax rate for 2013 was 26.4 percent.

Verizon spokesman Bob Varettoni said the telecommunications group complies with all tax laws and pays its fair share of taxes. He said Verizon paid more than $2.9 billion in income taxes from 2008 to 2012.

Voice of Russia, Reuters

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DAHBOO77

 

Published on Feb 11, 2014

Heads Up Folks! Justine Tunney is connected with Google!

http://pando.com/2014/02/07/occupy-wa…

 

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Occupy Wall Street leader now works for Google, wants to crowdfund a private militia

 

justineRemember Justine Tunney? The OWS-anarchist-turned-cultist-Google-employee who bashed my reporting on Google’s for-profit surveillance? Well, today she hit the big time.

Over the last few days, Tunney has been causing a Twitter outrage tsunami after she took full control of the main Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Twitter account, claimed to be the founder of OWS and then proceeded to tweet out stream of ridiculous anarcho-corporatist garbage. She railed against welfare, described the government as “just another corporation,” argued poverty was not a political problem but “an engineering problem” and told politicians to “get out of the way.” She also debunked what she thought was a misconception: people thought OWS activists were protesting against concentrated corporate power, and that, she claims, is simply not true.

As I wrote before, Tunney’s sudden epiphany that not all corporations are evil just happened to coincide with her decision to take a well-paid job at Google. Since then she has become an astroturfer par excellence for the company, including showing up in a comment section to bash my reporting on Google’s vast for-profit surveillance operation. “It never ceases to amaze me how far people have to stretch in order to denounce the one corporation that gives away everything for free,” she wrote.

It’s important to realize that, before taking her job at Google, Tunney wasn’t just an Occupy foot soldier, but a prominent spokesperson for the movement. She’s been written about in the New Yorker and The Nation as one of the founding members of OWS in Zuccotti Park, and was instrumental in setting up and  running OWS’s main Internet communication hub, OccupyWallSt.org. In media profiles, Tunney described herself as “just another geek trying to help out with the revolution,” and you can see her in photographs with other hi-tech revolutionaries occupying a table in Zuccotti Park, hunched over laptops, wires and computer gear.

And this week Tunney’s shift away from her former Occupy pals broke the Twitter troll barrier. Her tweets caused such a social media backlash that even Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray felt compelled to cover it:

 

Read More Here

 

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- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin speaking at a press conference following the Jan. 9 Elk River spill. (Photo via The Lincoln Journal)Seeking the opinions of ‘stakeholders’ for new proposed legislation meant to prevent future toxic chemical leaks like the January 9 Elk River spill, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin invited a host of industry leaders and trade associations to weigh in.

However, notably absent from the talks were any environmentalists or public health officials, according to an investigative report by the Charleston Gazette published Tuesday.

West Virginia journalist Ken Ward Jr. reports:

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was invited. So were the Oil and Gas Association and the Coal Association. Trade associations representing grocers, manufacturers, trucking firms and energy companies were included, according to the Governor’s Office.

But the chief lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council — the environmental community’s umbrella lobby group at the Capitol — said that his organization wasn’t included in the governor’s meeting.

“Neither I nor anyone else I know of in the environmental community knew about that meeting,” Garvin said Monday. “You telling me about it is the first I’ve heard about that meeting.”

“If you want a bill that protects clean water, you should probably listen to people who advocate for clean water, not the polluters,” said West Virginia Sierra Club leader Jim Kotcon at a public hearing Monday night.

At the same meeting, West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton said that he and other industry leaders “stand ready to offer our resources and expertise” in crafting the legislation.

The Gazette learned of the Jan. 20 closed-door meeting through documents released in a Freedom of Information Act Request about the proposed legislation.

The bill reportedly creates a new regulatory program for aboveground chemical storage tanks—such as the Freedom Industries tanks from which 10,000 gallons of coal cleaning chemicals spilled into the regional water supply.

Also included in the documents were “email messages in which several prominent industry lawyers and lobbyists offered suggestions for the governor’s legislation,” Ward reports.

Both the governor’s bill, introduced on Jan. 22, and one passed a week later by the state Senate included versions of those recommendations.

_____________________

February 4, 2014

Tomblin meeting on chemical tank bill excluded environmentalists

By Ken Ward Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two weeks ago, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin held a news conference to announce his legislative response to the Elk River chemical leak. The governor unveiled proposed legislation aimed at creating a new regulatory program for aboveground chemical storage tanks.

“This proposed legislation includes reasonable, commonsense provisions to regulate aboveground storage tanks across the state, including those located in areas of critical concern near our public water supply and distribution systems,” the governor said at the Jan. 20 news conference.

A day earlier, a select group of business lawyers and industry lobbyists met with the governor’s staff and officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection to go over the governor’s bill.

“See everyone there and please be prepared to discuss the bill section by section,” Jason Pizatella wrote in an email message announcing the meeting.

Pizatella called the event a meeting “with the stakeholders.”

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was invited. So were the Oil and Gas Association and the Coal Association. Trade associations representing grocers, manufacturers, trucking firms and energy companies were included, according to the Governor’s Office.

But the chief lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council — the environmental community’s umbrella lobby group at the Capitol — said that his organization wasn’t included in the governor’s meeting.

“Neither I nor anyone else I know of in the environmental community knew about that meeting,” Garvin said Monday. “You telling me about it is the first I’ve heard about that meeting.”

Asked what discussions the environmental council had about the governor’s bill prior to its unveiling at that news conference, Garvin said, “There were none.”

Garvin said that environmental group lobbyists weren’t asked by the Governor’s Office for their input as the bill was developed, and had only brief, informal discussions with DEP officials prior to the legislation being introduced.

“I’ve had some just offhand discussions with DEP,” Garvin said. “Other than that, we really weren’t given an opportunity to just sit down and tell the DEP or the governor what we thought.”

Pizatella’s announcement of the “stakeholders” meeting, held at the state Lottery Commission building on Pennsylvania Avenue on a Sunday afternoon, was among the records released by the Governor’s Office in response to a Freedom of Information Act request about the chemical tank legislation.

Also included were email messages in which several prominent industry lawyers and lobbyists offered suggestions for the governor’s legislation — before the bill was finalized Jan. 20 or introduced Jan. 22.

Read More Here

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