zaterdag 12 april 2014

Ukraïne Censorship

Democratie in Oekraïne?

Published on Apr 12, 2014
Over 20 Russia journalists have been denied access to Ukraine in recent weeks. The move has caused outrage from both the CPJ and Moscow - READ MORE

U.S. Lie

Replacing Russian Gas Deliveries with US Shale Gas? Washington Lies to the EU

Global Research, April 10, 2014

The White House and State Department have engaged in brazen lying to EU governments regarding the ability of the US to supply more than enough natural gas to replace Russian gas deliveries. Recent statements by US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are so patently false that it betrays an incredible desperation in Washington over the situation in Ukraine versus Moscow. Or it suggests that Washington is so out of touch with any factual reality she simply doesn’t care what she says. Either way, it suggests an unreliable diplomatic partner for the EU.
After his recent meeting with EU leaders Obama issued the incredible statement that the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that is being secretly negotiated behind closed doors by the major private multinational companies would make it easier for the United States to export gas to Europe and help it reduce its dependency on Russian energy: “Once we have a trade agreement in place, export licenses for projects for liquefied natural gas destined to Europe would be much easier, something that is obviously relevant in today’s geopolitical environment,” Obama stated.
That bit of political opportunism to try to push the stalled TTIP talks by playing on EU fears of Russian gas loss after the US-orchestrated Ukraine coup of February 22, ignores the fact that the problem in getting US shale gas to the EU does not lie in easier LNG licensing procedures in the USA and EU.
In other recent statements, referring to the recent boom in unconventional US shale gas, Obama and Kerry have both stated the US could more than replace all Russian gas to the EU, an outright lie based on physical realities. At his Brussels meeting Obama told EU leaders they should import shale gas from the US to replace Russian. There is a huge problem with that.
Shale revolution a failure
Number one, the “shale gas revolution” in the USA has failed. The dramatic rise in US natural gas production from “fracking” or forcing gas out of shale rock formations is being abandoned by the largest energy companies like Shell and BP as uneconomical. Shell has just announced a huge reduction of its exposure to US shale gas development. Shell is selling its leases on some 700,000 acres of shale gas lands in the major shale gas areas of Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Kansas and says it may have to get rid of more to stop its shale gas losses. Shell’s CEO,Ben van Beurden stated, “Financial performance there is frankly not acceptable ... some of our exploration bets have simply not worked out.”
A useful summary of the shale gas illusion comes from a recent analysis of the actual results of several years of shale gas extraction in the USA by veteran energy analyst David Hughes. He notes, “Shale gas production has grown explosively to account for nearly 40 percent of US natural gas production. Nevertheless, production has been on a plateau since December 2011; eighty percent of shale gas production comes from five plays, several of which are in decline. The very high decline rates of shale gas wells require continuous inputs of capital—estimated at $42 billion per year to drill more than 7,000 wells—in order to maintain production. In comparison, the value of shale gas produced in 2012 was just $32.5 billion.”
So Obama is either being lied to by his advisers on the true state of US shale gas supplies, or he is willfully lying. The former is most likely.
The second problem with the US “offer” of gas to the EU to replace Russian gas is the fact that it requires massive, costly infrastructure in the form of construction of new Liquified Natural Gas terminals that can handle the huge LNG supertankers to bring it to similar huge LNG terminal harbors in the EU.
The problem is that owing to various US laws on export of domestic energy and supply factors, there exist no operating LNG liquefaction terminals in the US. The only one now under construction is the Sabine Pass LNG receiving terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, owned by Cheniere Energy, where John Deutch, former CIA head, sits on the board. The problem with the Sabine Pass LNG terminal is that most of the gas has been pre-contracted to Korean, Indian and other Asian LNG customers, not to the EU.
The second problem is that even were a huge port capacity installed to satisfy EU gas needs to replace Russian supplies, that would push domestic natural-gas prices higher and cut short the mini-manufacturing boom fueled by abundant, cheap shale gas. The ultimate cost to EU consumers of US LNG would have to be far more than current Russian gas pipelined over Nord Stream or Ukraine. The next problem is that the specialized LNG supertankers do not exist to supply the EU market. All this takes years, including environmental approvals, construction time, perhaps seven years on average in best conditions.
The EU gets some 30% of its gas, the fastest-growing energy source there, from Russia today. In 2007, Russia’s Gazprom supplied 14 percent for France, 27 percent for Italy, 36 percent for Germany, with Finland and the Baltic states receiving as much as 100 percent of gas imports from Russia.
The EU has no realistic alternative to Russian gas. Germany, the largest economy, has foolishly decided to phase out nuclear power and its “alternative energy”—wind power and solar–is an economic and political disaster with consumer electricity costs exploding even though alternatives are a tiny share of the total market.
In short, the chimera of shutting Russian gas and turning on US gas instead is economic, energy and political nonsense.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics , exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

vrijdag 11 april 2014

De Mainstream Pers 188

Naast de bol- en zuilvorm is de rozet waarschijnlijk de meest opvallende groeivorm bij succulenten.
Het meest bekend zijn de stervormige, puntige planten zoals Aloe en Agave, maar ook andere soorten vormen rozetten. Om het verdampingsoppervlak te beperken zijn de rozetten van woestijnplanten vaak sterk samengedrukt. Pas dan is goed te zien op welke manier de bladeren gerangschikt zijn.
Meestal volgt dit de numerieke wet van Fibonacci: een rozet bestaat uit twee tegen elkaar indraaiende spiralen van bijvoorbeeld 3 en 5, 5 en 8 en 13 rijen bladeren. Hoe groter het aantal rijen in de spiraal, hoe dichter zij de verhoudingen van de 'Gulden Snede' nadert. Deze verhouding zorgt ervoor dat een blad nooit geheel wordt afgedekt door een ander blad. Een plant kan daardoor groeien zonder zichzelf te overschaduwen. De Fibonacci-reeks (3,5,8,13,21, etc.) is overal in het plantenrijk aanwezig maar bij succulenten extra goed te zien.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. 

More than any nation in the world, the U.S. has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as means of resolving disputes…
The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger. That we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat — and quite often it’s not only desired by the leaders of our country, but it’s also supported by the people of America. We’ve also reverted back to a terrible degree of punishment of our people rather than the reinstitution of them back into life. And this means that we have 7.5 times as many people now in prison as when I left the governor’s mansion. We’re the only country that has the death penalty in NATO; we’re the only country in this hemisphere that has the death penalty, and this is another blight on our country as far as unwarranted, unnecessary and counterproductive violence are concerned.
Jimmy Carter. 'America as the No. 1 warmonger': President Jimmy Carter talks to Salon about race, cable news, 'slut-shaming' and more. 10 april 2014 

Lenin described imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, an economic system, first and foremost, with inherent governing laws. The developed capitalist countries have been driven to expand their productive forces beyond their own borders and plunder the less developed countries in order to make profits or die.

Capitalism in its earlier stage of development was based on competition, but capitalism in its highest stage is based on monopoly capitalism — that is, larger transnationals and banks gobbling up their weaker competitors. The five components of imperialism are (1) the concentration of production and capital; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, or “finance capital,” which creates a financial oligarchy; (3) the dominance of the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, i.e., the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization; and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers.
Monica Moorehead. Lenin’s ‘Imperialism’ and the struggle vs the 1%. 9 april 2014

'The frog does not drink up the pond
in which he lives.'
~ Sioux Proverb

This month's dispatch comes on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) recent report, and the news is not good.

'No one on this planet will be untouched by climate change,' IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri announced. The report warnedthat climate impacts are already 'severe, pervasive, and irreversible.'

The IPCC report was one of many released in recent weeks, and all of them bring dire predictions of what is coming. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a report warning that 'the rate of climate change now may be as fast as any extended warming period over the past 65 million years, and it is projected to accelerate in the coming decades.' The report went on to warn of the risk 'of abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes in the Earth's climate system with massively disruptive impacts,' including the possible 'large scale collapse of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, collapse of part of the Gulf Stream, loss of the Amazon rain forest, die-off of coral reefs, and mass extinctions.'

To read more about anthropomorphic climate disruption, click here.

Just prior to the release of the IPCC report, the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record had all occurred since 2000. The agency's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, described the global trend: 'Every decade has been warmer than the preceding one over the last 40 years. In other words, the decade 2001-2010 was warmer than the '90s, which in turn were warmer than the '80s, which were warmer than the '70s.'
Dahr Jamail. Evidence of Acceleration of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption on All Fronts. 10 april 2014

Eén van de meest raadselachtige en meest fascinerende fenomenen is dat zover wij weten alles in de kosmos gehoorzaamd aan wetmatigheden, aan oorzaak en gevolg. Alles is harmonisch gerangschikt. Alles dat niet organisch in het geheel opgaat, vernietigt zichzelf. Darwin had gelijk, niet de sterkste wint, maar de soort die zich aanpast aan de gegeven omstandigheden. Een soort kan alleen overleven door zichzelf niet 'te overschaduwen.' Er zijn nu eenmaal harmonieuze verhoudingen die de evolutie mogelijk maken. Wat dat betreft is niets bij toeval ontstaan, de toekomst is het product van het verleden. Zodra een parasitaire soort te succesvol wordt vernietigt ze zichzelf. Mutualisme, één van de symbiose  vormen waarbij twee levensvormen beide voordeel hebben van de interactie met elkaar, is de meest intelligente vorm van overleven. De oudst bestaande organismen op aarde zijn de bristlecone pines:

The oldest bristlecone pines are single plants that have been alive for a little less than 5,000 years. These very old trees are of great importance in dendrochronology or tree-ring dating.

The oldest (non-clonal, acknowledged) living organism known is a bristlecone pine tree nicknamed 'Methuselah' (after Methuselah, the longest-lived person in the Bible). It is located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of eastern California; however, its precise location is undisclosed by the U.S. Forest Service to protect the tree from vandalism. The age of Methuselah was measured by core samples in 1957 to be 4,789 years old.

In the Snake Range of eastern Nevada Donald R. Currey, a student of the University of North Carolina, was taking core samples of bristlecones in 1964. He discovered that 'Prometheus' in a cirque below Wheeler Peak was over 4,000 years old. It is thought that his coring tool broke, so the U.S. Forest service granted permission to cut down 'Prometheus.' There are many different versions of this story, and nobody can say for sure whether or not Currey knew the age of the tree before cutting it down. 4,844 rings were counted on a cross-section of the tree, making 'Prometheus' at least 4,844 years old, the oldest known non-clonal living thing…

De bristlecone pine is het levende voorbeeld van hoe succesvol mutualisme kan zijn. Het is een wonder van vernuft:

In rocky terrain, roots wrap tightly around boulders, forming a strong anchorage, and they seek water in cracks in the rocks. Like most pine roots, Great Basin bristlecone roots stay close to the surface, mainly in the first foot of soil, and there is usually no taproot. Instead, lateral mother roots leave the trunk like the arms of an octopus, sinuously passing to the side of the roots of neighbors and extending as far as 50 feet.

De familie van de pijnbomen behoort tot de oudste groep bomen, de gymnosperms, die dateren uit de tijd toen de dinosaurussen nog op de wereld rondzwierven, zo'n 290 miljoen jaar geleden. Bekend is dat

Pines hold several records because of this fact, since among the family are the oldest-living trees, the nearly 5,000 year old bristlecone pines of Nevada and California.

Door hun evolutionaire intelligentie wisten pijnbomen zich telkens weer aan te passen aan nieuwe omstandigheden. Terwijl de dinosaurussen massaal omkwamen, slaagden de pijnbomen erin te overleven. De wortels van deze bomen gingen een mutualistische relatie aan met schimmels in de grond, die vanuit de wijde omgeving vocht en mineralen naar de wortels transporteren en daarvoor suiker terugkrijgen.

The roots of nearly all land plants form mycorrhizal symbioses with specialized soil fungi. The mycorrhizal fungi serve as extensions of plant roots, taking up nutrients and water and transferring them to the roots. In return, the mycorrhizal fungi receive their primary energy source in the form of simple sugars from plant photosynthates translocated to the roots. 

Bomen zijn het communicatiekanaal tussen het licht in de lucht en de duisternis waarin ondergrondse organismen leven. Geen van de onderdelen kan 'groeien' door 'zichzelf te overschaduwen.' Alles kan alleen bestaan dankzij al het andere. Datgene wat ten koste van al het andere leeft, vernietigt uiteindelijk zichzelf. De mens is een soort die mateloos is en ten koste van ontelbare andere soorten leeft en daardoor zichzelf vernietigt. De mens bezit een onverzadigbare zichzelf vernietigende drift. De oude Grieken waren van dit gevaar diep doordrongen. Boven de poort naar de tempel van Apollon, waar het Orakel van Delphi was, stond geschreven: 'Meden Agan,' oftewel 'Alles met Mate.' Apollon, of Apollo, was voor de antieken de God van het licht, de muziek, de dichtkunst en de spiritualiteit, de zonnegod die ook dood en verderf kon zaaien. Die  wijsheid is sinds de Verlichting en de daaruit voortvloeiende industriële revolutie volledig verdwenen. Daarvoor in de plaats kwam het moderne kapitalisme dat sinds vier decennia geëindigd is in het neoliberalisme.

Een mateloos systeem als het neoliberalisme dat bestaat uit het onderwerpen van de mens en de natuur heeft geen toekomst. Het doorbreekt de elementaire verhoudingen waarbij 'een blad nooit geheel wordt afgedekt door een ander blad. Een plant kan daardoor groeien zonder zichzelf te overschaduwen.' Als men deze natuurwet toepast op de mens dan moet duidelijk zijn dat wanneer 85 miljardairs op aarde evenveel bezitten als de helft van de hele mensheid, dit systeem zichzelf vernietigt. Degene die dit niet beseft, is een autist die zo ver van de werkelijkheid is afgedreven dat hij onbereikbaar is geworden. Voor een zinnig mens moet het toch niet moeilijk zijn te beseffen dat

If a culture is to hope for any considerable longevity, when the relationships within must,  in recognition of their interdependence, be predominantly cooperative rather than competitive. A people cannot live long at each other's expense or at of their cultural birthright — just as an agriculture cannot live long at the expense of its soil or its work force, and just as in a natural system the competitions among species must be limited if all are to survive,

zoals de Amerikaanse schrijver Wendell Berry schitterend uiteen zet in The Unsettling of America. Culture & Agriculture. (1977) Als natuurmens weet hij dat

Everything in the Creation is related to everything else and dependent on everything else. The Creation is one; it is a uni-verse, a whole, the parts of which are all 'turned into one.'

Wanneer een andere intellectueel die dicht bij de natuur staat, de voormalige Amerikaanse president Jimmy Carter, erop wijst dat
More than any nation in the world, the U.S. has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as means of resolving disputes,
dan is dit het logische gevolg van het kapitalistische egoïsme, de onverzadigbare begeerte naar meer, naar alles. Immers, 'the first principle of the exploitive mind is to divide and conquer,' en dat is precies wat de Amerikanen vanaf het allereerste begin hebben gedaan. De Amerikaanse historicus Howard Zinn, zei mij ooit eens: 'When we arrived here on the East-coast our eyes were set on the West-coast.' Hij merkte op dat de macht in Washington en op Wall Street nog steeds bezig is met het expansionisme vanuit de veronderstelling dat de Amerikaanse elite 'exceptionalistisch' is, anders dan de rest van de hele mensheid, en dat ze daaraan het recht kan ontlenen om over de wereld te heersen. Wendell Berry:
And surely there has never been a people more ominously and painfully divided than we are — both against each other and within ourselves. Once the revolution of exploitation is under way, statesmanship and craftsmanship are gradually replaced by salesmanship. (The craft of persuading people to buy what they do not need, and do not want, for more than it is worth.) Its stock in trade in politics is to sell despotism and avarice as freedom and democracy. In business it sells sham and frustration as luxury and satisfaction. The 'constantly expanding market' first opened in the New World by the fur traders is still expanding — no longer so much by expansions of territory or population, but by the calculated outdating, outmoding, and degradation of goods and by the hysterical sled-dissatisfaction of consumers that is indigenous to an exploitive economy.
This gluttonous enterprise of ugliness, waste, and fraud thrives in the disastrous breach it had helped to make between our bodies and our souls. As a people, we have lost sight of the profound communion — even the union — of the inner with the outer life. Confucius said: 'If a man has not order within him/ He cannot spread order about him…' Surrounded as we are by evidence of the disorders of our souls and our world, we feel the strong truth in those words as well as the possibility of healing that is in them. We see the likelihood that our surroundings, from our clothes to our countryside, are the products of our inward life — our spirit, our vision — as much as they are products of nature and work. 
Wat de Amerikaanse politiek buitengewoon gevaarlijk maakt is de doctrine van het niet te stuiten exceptionalisme:
American exceptionalism is the distinct belief that the United States is unique, if not superior, when compared to other nations. Champions of American exceptionalism hold that because of its national credo, historical evolution, and unique origins, America is a special nation with a special role – possibly ordained by God – to play in human history. The belief in American exceptionalism is a fundamental aspect of U.S. cultural capital and national identity. It is an essential part of America’s political, cultural, and social DNA.

De eersten die werden geconfronteerd met het blanke christelijke expansionisme waren de Indianen die bijna geheel uitgeroeid werden op het grondgebied van de huidige VS. In zijn boek Indians are Us (1994) schreef de Amerikaanse hoogleraar Etnische Studies Ward Churchill:
All told, the North American Indian population within the area of the forty-eight contiguous states of the United States, an aggregate group which had probably numbered in excess of twelve million in the year 1500, was reduced by official estimates to barely more than 237,000 four centuries later. This vast genocide historically paralleled in its magnitude and degree only by that which occurred in the Caribbean Basin is the most sustained on record. Corresponding almost perfectly with this upper-ninetieth-percentile erosion of indigenous population by 1900 was the expropriation of about 97.5 percent of native land by 1920. The situation in Canada was/is entirely comparable. Plainly, the Nazi-esque dynamics set in motion by Columbus in 1492 continued, and were not ultimately consummated until the present century.

Het precieze aantal slachtoffers zal nooit exact kunnen worden vastgesteld, maar dat het vele miljoen zijn is wetenschappelijk aangetoond. Even erg was de culturele genocide van de Indianen die de volkerenmoord hadden weten te overleven. De gangbare spreuk daarbij was 'kill the Indian to save the man,' voor het eerst geformuleerd door brigadier-generaal Richard Henry Pratt, die in 1892 het volgende verklaarde over het vaak wrede methodes om de 'savages' te 'civiliseren':
A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.... 

The Indians under our care remained savage, because… [w]e have never made any attempt to civilize them…
We make our greatest mistake in feeding our civilization to the Indians instead of feeding the Indians to our civilization…
It is a great mistake to think that the Indian is born an inevitable savage. He is born a blank, like all the rest of us. Left in the surroundings of savagery, he grows to possess a savage language, superstition, and life. We, left in the surroundings of civilization, grow to possess a civilized language, life, and purpose… Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit… As we have taken into our national family seven millions of Negroes, and as we receive foreigners at the rate of more than five hundred thousand a year, and assimilate them, it would seem that the time may have arrived when we can very properly make at least the attempt to assimilate our two hundred and fifty thousand Indians, using this proven potent line, and see if that will not end this vexed question and remove them from public attention, where they occupy so much more space than they are entitled to either by numbers or worth. 
The school at Carlisle is an attempt on the part of the government to do this.  Carlisle has always planted treason to the tribe and loyalty to the nation at large. It has preached against colonizing Indians, and in favor of individualizing them. It has demanded for them the same multiplicity of chances which all others in the country enjoy. Carlisle fills young Indians with the spirit of loyalty to the stars and stripes, and then moves them out into our communities to show by their conduct and ability that the Indian is no different from the white or the colored…  Carlisle does not dictate to him what line of life he should fill, so it is an honest one. It says to him that, if he gets his living by the sweat of his brow, and demonstrates to the nation that he is a man, he does more good for his race than hundreds of his fellows who cling to their tribal communistic surroundings…
Het is precies deze botte arrogantie van de Amerikaanse blanke protestants-christelijke cultuur die het waanbeeld heeft gecreëerd dat Washington gerechtigd is de hele mensheid desnoods met geweld te dwingen dezelfde heilloze weg te volgen als de Amerikanen hebben gedaan en die nu heeft geleid tot een moreel, ideologisch en financieel bankroet land. De doctrine van het 'exceptionalisme' dient nog steeds als rechtvaardiging van het gewelddadig Amerikaans expansionisme en verklaart tevens oud-president Carter's opmerking dat

More than any nation in the world, the U.S. has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as means of resolving disputes.
Veel opiniemakers in de polder vinden dit niet verontrustend. Integendeel, zoals Paul Brill bewees toen hij op 2 juli 2013 nog eens in de Volkskrant liet weten:
De onrust over de afluisterpraktijken van de Amerikanen groeit nog altijd. Maar hoe verrassend is het nu helemaal dat de VS alles nalopen?

Later meer.  

Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine

From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain – what I call the shock doctrine

Fracking in a Colorado valley
A large field of fracking sites in a Colorado valley. 'The industry’s singular solution to the climate crisis is to dramatically expand an extraction process that releases massive amounts of climate-destabilising methane.' Photograph: Ted Wood/Aurora Photos/Corbis
The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin's fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security.
According to Cory Gardner, the Republican congressman who introduced the House bill, "opposing this legislation is like hanging up on a 911 call from our friends and allies". And that might be true – as long as your friends and allies work at Chevron and Shell, and the emergency is the need to keep profits up amid dwindling supplies of conventional oil and gas.
For this ploy to work, it's important not to look too closely at details. Like the fact that much of the gas probably won't make it to Europe – because what the bills allow is for gas to be sold on the world market to any country belonging to the World Trade Organisation.
Or the fact that for years the industry has been selling the message that Americans must accept the risks to their land, water and air that come with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in order to help their country achieve "energy independence". And now, suddenly and slyly, the goal has been switched to "energy security", which apparently means selling a temporary glut of fracked gas on the world market, thereby creating energy dependencies abroad.
And most of all, it's important not to notice that building the infrastructure necessary to export gas on this scale would take many years in permitting and construction – a single LNG terminal can carry a $7bn price tag, must be fed by a massive, interlocking web of pipelines and compressor stations, and requires its own power plant just to generate energy sufficient to liquefy the gas through super-cooling. By the time these massive industrial projects are up and running, Germany and Russia may well be fast friends. But by then few will remember that the crisis in Crimea was the excuse seized upon by the gas industry to make its longstanding export dreams come true, regardless of the consequences to the communities getting fracked or to the planet getting cooked.
I call this knack for exploiting crisis for private gain the shock doctrine, and it shows no signs of retreating. We all know how the shock doctrine works: during times of crisis, whether real or manufactured, our elites are able to ram through unpopular policies that are detrimental to the majority under cover of emergency. Sure there are objections – from climate scientists warning of the potent warming powers of methane, or local communities that don't want these high-risk export ports on their beloved coasts. But who has time for debate? It's an emergency! A 911 call ringing! Pass the laws first, think about them later.
Plenty of industries are good at this ploy, but none is more adept at exploiting the rationality-arresting properties of crisis than the global gas sector.
For the past four years the gas lobby has used the economic crisis in Europe to tell countries like Greece that the way out of debt and desperation is to open their beautiful and fragile seas to drilling. And it has employed similar arguments to rationalise fracking across North America and the United Kingdom.
Now the crisis du jour is conflict in Ukraine, being used as a battering ram to knock down sensible restrictions on natural gas exports and push through a controversial free-trade deal with Europe. It's quite a deal: more corporate free-trade polluting economies and more heat-trapping gases polluting the atmosphere – all as a response to an energy crisis that is largely manufactured.
Against this backdrop it's worth remembering – irony of ironies – that the crisis the natural gas industry has been most adept at exploiting is climate change itself.
Never mind that the industry's singular solution to the climate crisis is to dramatically expand an extraction process in fracking that releases massive amounts of climate-destabilising methane into our atmosphere. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases – 34 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the latest estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And that is over a 100-year period, with methane's power dwindling over time.
It's far more relevant, argues the Cornell University biochemist Robert Howarth, one of the world's leading experts on methane emissions, to look at the impact in the 15- to 20-year range, when methane has a global-warming potential that is a staggering 86-100 times greater than carbon dioxide. "It is in this time frame that we risk locking ourselves into very rapid warming," he said on Wednesday.
And remember: you don't build multibillion-dollar pieces of infrastructure unless you plan on using them for at least 40 years. So we are responding to the crisis of our warming planet by constructing a network of ultra-powerful atmospheric ovens. Are we mad?
Not that we know how much methane is actually released by drilling and fracking and all their attendant infrastructure. Even while the natural gas industry touts its "lower than coal!" carbon dioxide emissions, it has never systematically measured its fugitive methane leaks, which waft from every stage of the gas extraction, processing, and distribution process – from the well casings and the condenser valves to the cracked pipelines under Harlem neighbourhoods. The gas industry itself, in 1981, came up with the clever pitch that natural gas was a "bridge" to a clean energy future. That was 33 years ago. Long bridge. And the far bank still nowhere in view.
And in 1988 – the year that the climatologist James Hansen warned Congress, in historic testimony, about the urgent problem of global warming – the American Gas Association began to explicitly frame its product as a response to the "greenhouse effect". It wasted no time, in other words, selling itself as the solution to a global crisis that it had helped create.
The industry's use of the crisis in Ukraine to expand its global market under the banner of "energy security" must be seen in the context of this uninterrupted record of crisis opportunism. Only this time many more of us know where true energy security lies. Thanks to the work of top researchers such as Mark Jacobson and his Stanford team, we know that the world can, by the year 2030, power itself entirely with renewables. And thanks to the latest, alarming reports from the IPCC, we know that doing so is now an existential imperative.
This is the infrastructure we need to be rushing to build – not massive industrial projects that will lock us into further dependency on dangerous fossil fuels for decades into the future. Yes, these fuels are still needed during the transition, but more than enough conventionals are on hand to carry us through: extra-dirty extraction methods such as tar sands and fracking are simply not necessary. As Jacobson said in an interview just this week: "We don't need unconventional fuels to produce the infrastructure to convert to entirely clean and renewable wind, water and solar power for all purposes. We can rely on the existing infrastructure plus the new infrastructure [of renewable generation] to provide the energy for producing the rest of the clean infrastructure that we'll need ... Conventional oil and gas is much more than enough."
Given this, it's up to Europeans to turn their desire for emancipation from Russian gas into a demand for an accelerated transition to renewables. Such a transition – to which European nations are committed under theKyoto protocol – can easily be sabotaged if the world market is flooded with cheap fossil fuels fracked from the US bedrock. And indeedAmericans Against Fracking, which is leading the charge against the fast-tracking of LNG exports, is working closely with its European counterparts to prevent this from happening.
Responding to the threat of catastrophic warming is our most pressing energy imperative. And we simply can't afford to be distracted by the natural gas industry's latest crisis-fuelled marketing ploy.

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Are Corporate Mercenaries Assisting Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

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With the illegal, coup d'etat installed government in Kiev about to engage in some very serious skull cracking to put down a mounting rebellion in Eastern Ukraine there have been some accounts that hired guns from corporate mercenary firms are augmenting the local paramilitary police forces.  With the pushback against the US backed "Yats" regime and it's neo-Nazi shock troops it is imperative that a real version of the Euromaiden "revolution" not be allowed to take root to oust the stooges of the corporate global finance mafia.  Foretelling what will likely be a massive orgy of state sanctioned violence against Ukranians who reject the coming forced austerity and repression are statements made by the Interior Minister of the occupying government Arsen Avakov that there would be a resolution within 48 hours either by negotiation or through the use of force. Translation: unleash the goon squads for the "anti-terrorist" action.
The corporate/high finance vultures that reaped a windfall off of the toppling of the elected president Viktor Yanukovych are furious over the loss of an estimated  $10 billion in natural resource loot from Crimea and are not about to let any more money slip through their bloody claws. The US establishment as well as the EU and the Cold War relic that is NATO, an organization that should have been relegated to the scrap heap of history have too much invested in this already disastrous situation to do anything but double down. It is standard procedure for "private security" contractors (translation: mercenaries) to be used and the denials, such as that from the US firm Greystone  do not pass the smell test in a country where lying is the first resort. This is the way that we roll in America, the taxpayer funded killing sprees of the notorious mercenary outfit Blackwater in Iraq are the template and it is just one more way to circumvent the system in order to spread "democracy" at the point of a gun.
In a brief video posted on You Tube that allegedly shows a man in local paramilitary police gear being captured after an austerity government push in Kharkov the mercenary question may be resolved. While being shouted at the man in black mutters that "I'm a US citizen" as though it is a magic talisman. It appears to be a video that was taken with a cellphone or similar device and unfortunately there is not much context. While information on the video is very sparse and yet to be reliably authenticated it could be proof that western backed corporate mercenaries are indeed operating in coordination with the "Yats" regime in putting down dissent. Hey, it is not like big corporations or the US State Department aren't known for using those "security contractors" and it would be foolish to believe that with all that the lunatic push to topple Putin through Ukraine that it would be beyond possibility.   The video, if it is authentic and backed by additional pictures, videos and accounts could be the proverbial smoking gun that the poisonous US establishment and their Deep State  propagandists within the media are once again and predictably lying but anything even remotely resembling the truth long ago left the building in The Homeland
Reports of US mercenaries have been made over the last several weeks as the coup government began efforts to clamp down on dissent in the areas of Ukraine historically loyal to Russia. Sources have ranged from the UK Daily Mail on mercenaries (incorrectly referred to as "Blackwater" which has since dropped that toxic name) seen in the streets, to the former liberal hero and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich who in a recent interview with Russian news organization RIA Novosti warned about the problems in using such hired guns:
"In the difficult political or military situation is the last thing, because they benefit from the spread of the conflict. They can ignite the war and earn "

stories on the possibility of a merc presence are also out in alternative media sources, Russian news reports and demonized Russian leader Vladimir Putin and other government officials who are not treated with any credibility by the corrupt US political class and their pet media from which both emanate a constant stream of lies. The US establishment doesn't even bother with the truth anymore so anything that is said or broadcast must be viewed with skepticism at best and only used as context for news gleaned from foreign sources or alternative media.
The video snippet of the alleged US mercenary (no word as to his fate was been posted) is an example of the ability for the oppressed to communicate in the interconnected global world.  When the wave of brutal  beat downs of those who do not support the illegitimate government in Kiev picks up there will be more video coming, that much is inevitable. The Cold War obsessed establishment continues to fight the last war and in their pure, unbridled arrogance apparently believe that the ability to use social media and the internet to expose human rights abuses does not threaten their long range goal of planetary conquest and corporate pillaging using the US military to crack open new markets - it won't.  The technologies and tools such as You Tube and Twitter are continually involving and  simply did not exist at the level of sophistication that they do today. Such things as cellphone cameras and social networking platforms would have been of immense help in fighting the Bush regime's illegal wars and perhaps some of the lasting damage could have been mitigated. The news about  marauding, murdering US mercenaries - primarily Blackwater - in Iraq as well as the heinous sexual sadism drenched torture at Abu Ghraib prison got out anyway.
There is at least an understanding of the potency of social network tools in an offensive context, take for example the ZunZuneo aka Cuban Twitter scheme in which the Obama administration used relief agency USAID as a cover for fomenting an uprising in Cuba. While this is indicative of the same Cold War lunacy that is behind the Ukraine debacle and the ongoing pissing contest with Putin's Russia, social networking technology is given the degree of importance that it deserves. The problem along with the ongoing blundering of an inept Obama foreign policy team that is an outright embarrassment to America is that the blinders of American exeptionalism and neocon ideology prevent the acknowledgment that the criminal deeds of the Deep State are more easily exposed than ever. This despite the full spectrum media dominance that is evident in the extreme propaganda and dishonest coverage of the events in Ukraine. The anti-Austerity freedom fighters in Donetsk, Kharkov and other eastern cities, on the brink of a pitched battle with paramilitary police, mercenaries and thugs from Right Sektor and Svoboda will prove to be a serious, long term detriment to the plans of chopping up the country and selling it to corporate and financial parasites.
NATO is upping the rhetoric and wailing about massed Russian military forces on the border in the latest effort to create a Gleiwitz style pretense for a hot war and Obama and Kerry, both of whom are hellbent at avenging the Syria and Snowden humiliations are showing no signs of backing off.  Were the state-corporate media to bother with the truth it would be that this entire mess is the fault of those two thin-skinned narcissists and their foreign policy team's billions of dollars in US taxpayer money spent on destabilizing the region.  In the coming sweep and destroy "anti-terrorist" campaign the hotheads and neo-Nazis had best exercise a caution that they have yet to display in that any murder that they perpetrate has the potential of becoming a viral internet video and those in Eastern Ukraine who resist the coup regime will be presented with a martyr to further galvanize their opposition to the Washington-Brussels-Kiev Axis of Evil.
I wonder what the American taxpayer who has already been bled dry by government subsidized sprees of gambling by politically connected, unaccountable Wall Street casinos and corporate plunderers who enjoy total impunity in the corrupt, star-spangled lemming colony that is The Homeland. There are also the trillions of dollars stolen away from any programs that actually socially beneficial by a military/surveillance monster that has a vested interest in endless wars to justify their existence - it still smells like a rat that the Cold War II meme began at a very convenient time to prevent cuts in military spending. Billions of dollars pumped into Ukraine alone and Christ knows how many more billions elsewhere - Venezuela, Cuba etc. to destabilize democratically elected governments that do not heel to the whims of the rapacious global finance mafia. Not to mention the money spent to back blatantly in our face neo-Nazis, were the all encompassing bubble of official state-corporate lies and propaganda to ever burst - even temporarily even idiotic Americans have a breaking point.
That breaking point could come if there were ever a realization that none of this even remotely benefits the average American but only the same global corporate hydra that serves the interest of a very small proportion of a corrupt elite and the institutions that have been erected to protect them. Americans should look at the situation unfolding in Ukraine and ask themselves a very serious question: how long will it be until the mercenaries and the fully militarized police right here in the US of A begin to conduct their own "anti-terrorist" operations because that is exactly the direction that we are heading in.

Donn Marten is a free lance writer, activist and consultant who resides in West Central Florida.
I am a concerned progressive who has serious problems with the tragic turn that our society has taken. Of primary importance is the the (more...)

A screengrab from a YouTube video showing armed men on the streets of Donetsk, a largely Russian-speaking city in east Ukraine which has been the scene of large protests against the country's new regime
A screengrab from a YouTube video showing armed men on the streets of Donetsk, a largely Russian-speaking city in east Ukraine which has been the scene of large protests against the country's new regime

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