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The Weekend Roundup for November 22-23rd, 2014

By: Sunday November 23, 2014 3:11 pm

Hey folks, what are you doing today?

May Marion Barry rest in peace.

International Politics


- The imperialist role of the U.S., without any accountability, will continue with more genocides in the future. Some folks here might see that as obvious, yet it is a tragic part of human history.

- An Iranian official said there is a Plan B, which involves a deal with Russia and China, should talks with the West fail; Meanwhile, both the U.S. and Germany report the agreement is still not ready

Middle East

- The Islamic State is now attacking Sunnis despite originally focusing on Shittes due to the terrorist group being a mostly Sunni organization

- In the Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man and refused to provide a comment to the press about it

- The U.S., realizing the situation in Iraq is still dire, decided to give weapons to the Sunni tribesman in Iraq; If it doesn’t work at first, keep trying!

- Meanwhile, Iraqi forces said there were able to capture two towns from the ISIL; In Baghdad, Iraq, a car bomb killed seven people

- In Israel, the Cabinet approved of a bill defining the state of Israel as Jewish, which will only fuel tensions more in the country

Asia and Oceania

- In Japan, the military, after viewing the success of pop stars, made a change in their recruitment by “selling” the experience of being in the military as being like a pop star

- At a volleyball tournament in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed 45 people and wounded at least 60


- Most countries in Africa are spending a significant amount of money to obtain arms for security reasons

- In Nigeria, suspected Boko Haram militants killed dozens of civilians in a village although the count is unknown at this point

- In Burkina Faso, a transitional government was announced with some posts filled by military officials


- Russian President Vladimir Putin: The situation in Crimea will “end well” because we are the strongest nation in the world; Also, Putin said he would not be the president for life

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

- Before we get into the news about what is happening in Mexico, the lack of U.S. coverage on what is happening there reveals where they stand on this issue. By not covering the protests there, the U.S. media avoids a necessary internationalist perspective.

- Unsure as to what led to this or wondering about the overall situation in the past weeks? The Nation recaps of all the events here.

- On Thursday, 11 people were arrested after clashes with police in Mexico City, Mexico, and were charged with terrorism.

- One of the questions protesters have is how Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s wife was able to purchase a multi-million dollar home owned by a company that also received contracts from the federal government. His wife announced she will sell her stake in the home.

- What about the 43 missing students? After not finding them, the parents of the students said they will conduct their own investigation after the abysmal failure of Mexican authorities.

Financial Matters

- The mainstream version of economics neglects fundamental parts of our economy, such as the financial aspects, which makes it into a very useless theory.

- Companies in Iran hope to have an international agreement because they believe they can grow and prosper

- Part two of two with Professor Leo Panitch on how the G-20 economies are trying to respond to the problems of capitalism that they created; Will they solve it? Chances are no.

Labor’s a-Brewing

- In Colombia, U.S. embassy staff attacked General Motors workers who were protesting mistreatment by management. Now, the workers will sue the embassy workers for attacking them.

- On Tuesday, a former employee of Amazon will go on hunger strike in front of the company’s headquarters in Seattle to protest against the company’s poor handling of its workers.

- A judge in Illinois ruled a pension reform law (i.e. cuts) was unconstitutional, which means this will go up to the state’s supreme court to rule on.

- Behind Taylor Farms, a large corporation that sells fruits and vegetables, is a story of threats to workers and exploitation

Politics US

Washington USA

- Nathan Fuller: “The Disappearing Classified Order

- President Barack Obama: If the GOP does not like my plan on immigration, then they should make their own bill; In a separate note, Obama said voters would want a new and fresh president in 2016

- Thomas Frank: “Phony spin even Fox News won’t buy

Anytown USA

- In Bullitt County, Ky., a fire chief refused to help an African-American family and insulted an Asian reporter when interviewed.

- In Ferguson, a police commander spoke with some protesters, which signifies a change in police tactics; However, you cannot be too sure with them considering the elite are really nervous

- In Cleveland, Ohio, a 12-year-old boy held a fake gun in a playground and was killed by police after assuming it was real; I don’t…what…how…

We Don’t Need No Education

- We should be cautious when advocating for a similar education system as in Europe considering it suffers from its own share of problems.

- Journalist Samantha Winslow writes a brief piece on three prevailing myths on teacher tenure here

The Second Sex

- In Madrid, Spain, anti-abortion demonstrators gathered to protest the government’s recent decision to drop a restrictive abortion law.

- New Jersey is considering a “Yes Means Yes” law as the movement to pass the law slowly grows across the U.S.

Planet Earth

- The state of Washington will sue the federal government for not protecting workers cleaning up nuclear waste

- What is scary in California is how under-estimated the drought is in the state. Despite politicians calling for water conservation, there are no signs this crisis will be averted.

- A new report found more than 250 fracking wells across the U.S. use 1o-25 gallons of water each.

- In upstate New York, some activists were arrested after protesting natural gas projects set for expansion

- The World Bank said it would invest in clean energy in almost all cases as a result of climate change

Mixed Bag

- Part three of three with Emory Douglas, former Black Panther, on relating his experiences during the 1960s and 1970s to contemporary struggles in the U.S.

- New research found it was iron, not climate change, that led to the decline of civilizations during the Bronze Age

- A former NBC employee said he helped cover-up the numerous times Bill Cosby slept with women

Break Time

- Funk Del Altiplano [Actitud Maria Marta]

New Report Highlights “Revolving Door” Between Government and LNG Firms

By: Friday November 21, 2014 7:16 pm

It’s a dirty business

A report titled “Natural Gas Exports: Washington’s Revolving Door Fuels Climate Threat” released on Sept. 19 revealed the power and success of liquefied natural gas companies in pushing for their agenda through the U.S. government.

By hiring former lawmakers and officials from both parties, LNG firms are able to gain more contracts to expand production and, potentially, sell their product overseas in emerging markets such as in Asia, which is noted as harmful for the rest of society:

The climate and ecological consequences of such a pursuit are unquestionably dangerous. But most policymakers in Washington have ignored that element of the debate. Instead of conducting a sober analysis of the costs and benefits of expanding LNG exports, regulators and lawmakers have followed the lead of a multi-tentacled lobbying campaign managed by the shale gas industry.

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” is an issue in which both parties attempt to accommodate the industry to gain more power. This did not happen suddenly, but occurred for many years without any major investigations by mainstream media outlets. As a result, industry interests were victorious without any major opposition in any of the three branches of government:

Corporate lobbyists have helped to engineer a transformative shift with little scrutiny or meaningful debate: plans to extract U.S. natural gas and export the gas overseas to more lucrative markets,

Steve Horn, a journalist with DeSmogBlog and a co-author of the report along with Republic Report journalist Lee Fang, highlighted how, in spite of the incessant talk of gridlock in Washington, the issue of LNG exports was one with support from both parties without any significant opposition.

“Yes, there is a bipartisan consensus on these issues. That’s why you hear little debate about them on the Congressional floor, in Congressional hearings or anywhere else in the public sphere. We hear so often about ‘partisan gridlock,’ but on some of the most monumental issues of the day, [such as] war, peace, energy, there’s a bipartisan consensus on these issues,” Horn said.

In their “hiring spree,” LNG companies were able to recruit former Obama administration officials such as Heather Zichal, who was the deputy assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Zichal is now with Cheniere Energy, which the report notes received the first approval by the Obama administration for LNG exports. The authors note Zichal’s relationship with the company started during her tenure in the White House:

White House meeting logs reveal that Zichal met several times with Cheniere lobbyists and executives while working for the Obama Administration. Now, Zichal earns $180,000 annually from the company, not including stock options.

Moreover, as a result of hiring former government officials, LNG firms succeeded in avoiding regulation by the Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Despite pledging in the beginning of his first term to prevent any former officials from lobbying the White House (this comically does not exist on its “Ethics” page), the Obama administration championed the interests of its former staffers.

In addition, the Koch brothers, the libertarian billionaire behemoths, were referenced as big winners of the LNG market. Even with their control of many conservative think-tanks, groups and politicians, the benefits they attained under the Democrats only fueled more of their political power.

Aside from the revolving door between federal government and private energy companies, the report mentions instances where firms pushed their agenda in states across the U.S. Moreover, the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a natural gas lobbying group, received $100,000 from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a grant, which Horn noted as “petro-politics in a nutshell”:

I haven’t looked at that funding, but my guess is its geared toward either mayors in fracking states or Gulf-area states that have LNG terminals. [The] perks [are] you get ‘educated’ by the industry. And maybe a nice, well-paying job with the industry in the future. Also, maybe campaign finance cash if you need it. The drawback is you become a subsidiary of the industry by selling your soul.

Even international events are mentioned, such as the crisis in Ukraine, were used by LNG companies to promote their agenda.

As a result of Russia’s threat to cut off natural gas to Europe over political developments in Ukraine, LNG firms found an opportunity to expand production and make more profits:

Within days of these developments, LNG lobbyists flooded the media and Capitol Hill, demanding that the U.S. streamline more LNG exports to relieve Europe from its dependence on Russian gas,

Despite the mainstream media’s narrative of President Obama’s bold climate plans, the report counters this by revealing how powerful LNG interests have become in recent years:

The LNG export lobbying machine, as this report demonstrates, is well mobilized and well organized — and highly dependent on operatives moving through the government-lobbying revolving door. What remains to be seen is whether this juggernaut will advance unimpeded, or whether voices for environmental protection and lower U.S. energy prices will eventually force a real debate.

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning in its most recent report about the dramatic and harsh effects of global warming should no major plan develop, this report also warns the growing success of LNG firms fuels climate change.

While the focus of the report is on LNG companies, Horn emphasized investments firms could not be ignored for the environmental movement.

At its core, it’s really about who’s calling the shots and dictating all the drilling, extraction, etc. That means capital investment firms such as hedge funds, private equity firms, Wall Street, with the state acting in service to capital. Drilling/fracking is capital intensive, as is LNG. We can’t really have a reasonable conversation about one without the other.

This is the first of many investigations by Fang and Horn on the relationship between LNG interests and the Obama administration. However, as Horn notes, the material presented in this report is enough for activists to mobilize and act against a system designed to promote profits over people. Instead of activists focusing on reforming the system, he said they should focus on building a new one:

This is an issue where there’s bipartisan consensus to turn the US into a resource colony for exports, akin to a banana republic. That means it’s time to educate, agitate and then organize. I hope the report is distributed in energy justice activist circles and serves as the education part of the ‘educate, agitate, organize’ process. But it’s not enough just to read it, it has to serve as ‘actionable intelligence.’

Photo by TruckPR under Creative Commons license

The Roundup for November 21st, 2014

By: Friday November 21, 2014 2:58 pm

Enjoy your weekend folks! James Risen will be here tomorrow to discuss his new book and James Gustave Speth will be here on Sunday with his memoir.

International Politics


- Vice President Joe Biden: Russia risks “greater isolation” if it refuses to respect September’s agreement over Ukraine

- Attorney Michael Ratner joins The Real News to talk about the glimmer of hope in Julian Assange’s case as appeals are underway

- Despite the Schools of the Americas being renamed years ago, their efforts still are to defend reactionary forces

Middle East

- Months after a unity government between Fatah and Hamas was announced, the latter is threatening a vote of no confidence against Mahmoud Abbas and co. for failing to lead

Asia and Oceania

- With scandals and Japan entering a recession, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of parliament for elections next month


- Uh-oh. Editors in Egypt pledged not to criticize any institution in the country; Still, as the article notes, some journalists are dissenting

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

A new report found racial profiling still occuring in Toronto, Canada, despite the civilian review board taking action against it. Activist Sabrina GoPaul talks about the new report and provides context for the role of police in the city here.

- Part one of two with economist Richard Kozul-Wright on alternatives to neoliberalism and controlling development

- Leaders of some Latin American countries praised President Barack Obama for his immigration plan.

Surveillance Planet

- The state of Utah is considering cutting off all water to an NSA facility to protest mass surveillance

Financial Matters

- Professor Leo Panitch joins The Real News to discuss the G-20 summit and how officials are slowly realizing their governments need to be more active

- “The only thing we know is that things will get worse”: The Petrobras scandal will persist for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and it will not be resolved quickly

- The European Union wants Google to unbundle its search engine from the other products it controls

Labor’s a-Brewing

- Taxi drivers in New York called for Uber’s license to be suspended after it was found the company tracked a Buzzfeed journalist

Politics US

Washington USA

- Gallup: The Postal Service was the highest preferred out of all governmental agencies, incredibly with the most support among the youth.

- Now that President Obama delivered his plan on immigration reform yesterday, undocumented immigrants in Western states (and mostly from Mexico) will benefit under the executive order

- Still, journalist Michelle Chen asks an important question: “What Will Happen to the Immigrants Left Out of Obama’s Executive Actions?“; They always have churches to help them

- Hillary Clinton, who avoided any discussion of immigration in the past year, suddenly praises President Obama’s plan

- Speaking of Clinton, some of her supporters are meeting to get funds ready for the 2016 presidential election; I envision $8 billion spent in the 2016 presidential elections

- Another lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act appeared, this time by Republicans in the House

Anytown USA

- Gallup: Sixty-three percent of Americans believe there is more crime occurring this year compared to last year

- In New York City, NYPD officers beat up a 20-year-old man who jumped a subway turnstile; Meanwhile, a rookie NYPD officer accidentally killed an unarmed man

- With the grand jury decision close to being officially announced, officer Darren Wilson is considering resigning from his position; Too little, too late

- Jason Leopold: “‘This Is Similar to the way Jesus Was Treated’: Letters to Missouri Governor Shed Light on Racial Tensions in Ferguson Aftermath

We Don’t Need No Education

- A court in Michigan ruled the state is not responsible for the quality of public education; I don’t…how can…but…

- In the U.K., students demonstrated in the streets for free higher education throughout the country

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- A Center for Disease Control study found 90 percent of Americans who frequently drink are not alcoholics

The Second Sex

- The women sharing their abortion stories online can provide a helpful voice in the debate on choice

- Old Navy refused to reduce high prices on its plus-sized jeans for women despite the outcry from customers, they do not charge higher prices for large sizes in menswear

- Roxane Gay: “Bill Cosby and the rape accusers: stop looking away and start believing women

Planet Earth

- NRG, one the largest energy companies in the U.S., announced it would drastically reduce its carbon emissions by 90 percent.

- Despite Wal-Mart parading itself as a company putting emphasis on alternative energy, a new report reveals they have been barely using alternative energy sources

- With murders of indigenous leaders in Peru’s forests, it forces discussions of environmental policies surrounding the logging efforts in the country

Mixed Bag

- Reza Aslan: “Sam Harris and ‘New Atheists’ aren’t new, aren’t even atheists

- A company is suing journalists for reporting accurately, but critically, on them, using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

- David Sirota: “Journalists Aren’t Covering Local Elections. Our Democracy Is Suffering Because of It.

- This short, but sweet story is about speed dating where participants wear paper bags over their heads to emphasize personality rather than looks

- A FIFA official said the prospects of boycotting the 2018 World Cup in Russia were very slim

Break Time

- Rock the Boat [The Hues Corporation]

Vice President Biden Visits Ukraine To Show Support

By: Friday November 21, 2014 11:31 am

Biden says Russia is "redrawing borders by force" during his visit to Ukraine's capital — AJE News (@AJENews) November 21, 2014 In an event today in Ukraine Vice President Joe Biden stood next to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to announce, on the one year anniversary of the overthrow of the previous government, that [...]

New York Fed Head William Dudley To Give Yet Another Speech On Wall Street’s Corrupt Culture

By: Friday November 21, 2014 8:10 am

Former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist and current President of the New York Federal Reserve, William Dudley, is preparing to once again speak on Wall Street’s corrupt culture. He’s not going to do anything about it, but he does love to talk (and talk and talk) about how Wall Street’s culture of corruption is creating instability and [...]

Obama Details Immigration Executive Actions, GOP Considers Lawsuit

By: Friday November 21, 2014 5:53 am

Last night President Barack Obama laid out the executive actions he would take to help some undocumented immigrants stay in the country. In the speech Obama broke his plan into three parts – border security, opportunities for high-skilled immigrants, and his plan to allow roughly five million undocumented immigrants stay in the country and not [...]

The Roundup for November 20th, 2014

By: Thursday November 20, 2014 3:49 pm

Hey there folks, it’s Transgender Day of Remembrance today. International Politics Overall – A short, yet stellar piece by journalist Nathan Fuller on the failure of The New York Times in reporting on U.S.-Iranian relations in a fair manner as the NYT takes the U.S. narrative on Iran. – After the U.S. sent non-lethal equipment to the [...]

Journalist Targeted By Uber Increases Security, Senator Franken Demands Answers From Uber CEO

By: Thursday November 20, 2014 10:01 am

The journalist cited by an Uber executive as being a target for a possible smear campaign has increased security for herself and her family. Pando Daily Editor-In-Chief Sarah Lacy told Bloomberg TV that she was taking steps to protect herself and her family after she learned that Uber executive Emil Michael had said he wanted [...]

Goldman Sachs Gained Inside Information From New York Fed

By: Thursday November 20, 2014 8:22 am

Wealth of America's top 0.1% is about to exceed that of bottom 90% for first time since 1930s — The Economist (@TheEconomist) November 10, 2014 Apparently that recent study showing banking culture is corrupt in essence is not so far off the mark as it has now been revealed that Goldman Sachs received [...]

Obama To Announce Executive Action On Immigration

By: Thursday November 20, 2014 5:54 am

President Barack Obama plans to announce his executive action on immigration today. According to The Washington Post  the actions will protect roughly 5 million immigrants from deportation. The announcement will occur this evening with a comprehensive layout of the plan coming Friday in a speech in Las Vegas with Latino supporters. Obama put off taking [...]

The Roundup for November 19th, 2014

By: Wednesday November 19, 2014 4:01 pm

Hey everybody, how are you coping with the cold weather? International Politics Overall – Max Blumenthal: “How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis” – The British government is not confident an international deal can be reached with Iran; And the merry-go-round spins on – President Barack Obama praised Saudi Arabia in its fight against the [...]

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