Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Real "Criminals and Thugs" Identified

Freddy Gray made eye contact with a Baltimore cop. He ran like a rabbit so cops chased him like hounds and did what hounds do when they catch a rabbit. They snapped his spine. But the elemental savagery of everyday policing in Baltimore and a hundred other cities is not a fit topic for presidential commentary. The only “criminals” and “thugs” the first black president and for that matter corporate news can see are the citizens in the streets protesting police murder and impunity.

According to the Baltimore Police Department's own story, all Freddie Gray ever did was make eye contact with a police lieutenant and take off running. In 21st century America, the relation of young black men to the police is such that when you run like a rabbit, cops will chase you like hounds. When the hounds caught 25 year old Freddy Gray they did what hounds do when they catch a rabbit. Baltimore cops snapped Freddy Gray's spine, and they may have inflicted additional torture upon him during a half hour in leg irons in back of a police van after which they finally got around to calling the paramedics.
This kind of simple, elemental savagery is the ordinary everyday state of policing not just in Baltimore but in a hundred other US cities. Black Baltimore knows, just like black Chicago, black Los Angeles and Philly and Birmingham and Jacksonville and Detroit --- they all know that the courts and ballot box provide no credible remedies to the scourge of police violence or the national policy of mass incarceration inflicted upon Americans of African descent.
Our black political class was quick to point to the absence of black faces in high places in Ferguson Missouri. But most Baltimore mayors have been black for a generation, as have many of its top cops. There are black faces in judges' chambers, a mostly black city council and Maryland has a large and active legislative black caucus. Curbing the cops though, is not part of what any of our black political class actually DO.
"...when presidents and mayors call for “nonviolence” and “obeying the law” and “respect for private property” they're appealing to rules they would not dream of following themselves..."

President Obama is big on poor people remaining peaceful and nonviolent and respecting the law. This is a notion that should either make us laugh out loud, or cry, it's hard to decide which. President Obama you see, also claims the law entitles him to drone-bomb hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians across Asia and Africa whose names he doesn't even know based upon their “profiles” or their proximity to supposed “terrorists,” also frequently unknown by name. The president, along with his outgoing and incoming attorneys general assure us this is all perfectly legal. We have to take their word for it, because they've made the precise legal language of the rule they says permits this classified – a secret.
Along with the president, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also drew the line at protesters interfering with the private property of others. This too is a joke. The Baltimore PD is one of hundreds of cop shops that routinely confiscate cash and assets with little or no justification from people for its own use, a runaway policy called asset forfeiture blessed by the incoming attorney general Loretta Lynch. So let's be clear – when presidents and mayors call for “nonviolence” and “obeying the law” and “respect for private property” they're appealing to rules they would not dream of following themselves.
These are the rules the police and prison state makes for its victims, the rules that hounds make for rabbits. If we no longer intend to be hunted by hounds, we have to start by ignoring their rules, as many of our finest young people are seizing the opportunity to do. The most important lesson of Freddy Gray's death may be that it's high time to stop running like rabbits.
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party.  He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

Mirrored from Black Agenda Report

The whole idea behind this effort by the faux Ruling Class is to loot and emasculate the poor and colored people. Unfortunately most males and females are totally ignorant of what it means to be a man or a woman. Mr. Dixon has it exactly right. It is high time to stop running and dying like gutless, simpering animals.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Problems In A Nutshell

Whether it is political, social, legal, or economic, America's problems and solutions are the same as they are in Greece. Read what this man says to learn what needs to be done -- what you should and can do.

Greece’s Yanis Varoufakis: The Medicine of Austerity Is Not Working, We Need a New Treatment

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: With the debt clock ticking, Greece is fast running out of money. The country has ordered all state bodies to place their cash reserves in the nation’s central bank, the Bank of Greece, as it struggles to stay afloat. Greece is supposed to receive the last installment of its bailout funds from European creditors, but the country’s new leftist, anti-austerity Syriza party has expressed concerns about its terms. The creditors are reportedly pressuring the country to restructure its labor market and curtail its pension system; Syriza has instead done the opposite by increasing pension payments to lower-wage workers. Speaking in Washington, D.C., last week, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, urged Greece to restore stability.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: What needs to happen now is that the political views need to actually deliver the measures, the tools, the reforms that will actually reach the objectives that have been set between the international community and Greece: restore stability, improve the economy, make sure that one of these days Greece re-accesses the financial market on its own and without support. So that’s what needs to happen. And we are completely available to work with the Greek authorities on those objectives.
AMY GOODMAN: On Friday, eurozone finance ministers will decide whether to release emergency funds to Greece. Without the funds, Greece may default on its debt payments in coming weeks and put its membership in the eurozone at risk.
For more, we go directly to Athens, Greece, where we’re joined by Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. He’s not only a political economist, but also something of a global celebrity. Prospect magazine lists him as number two on its list of the world’s leading thinkers, right after French economist Thomas Piketty and before Canadian author Naomi Klein.
Yanis Varoufakis, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you tell us what you are calling for right now? How high are the stakes?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: I would like to phrase my answer in terms that do not resemble a Hollywood movie and a kind of conflictual confrontation. The way I see it is this. Greece has been in the clasps of a major crisis for the last five years. We had a very serious recession that led to a depression. So the question is: How can we put an end to this never-ending downward spiral so as to stabilize our economy, create conditions for the return of a degree of social justice, and also repay our debts to our creditors?
And there are two narratives here, two competing narratives. The official version, until we got elected, was that Greece was on the mend, that austerity was working. Our proposition to the Greek people—on which basis we were elected, were given a mandate—was the opposite, that the medicine wasn’t working. It wasn’t just that it was bitter and we didn’t want to take it; it was that it was toxic and it was making a bad thing worse. It was worse than the disease. So, this is what’s at stake here. You asked me, "How high are the stakes?" It’s a question of establishing what needs to be done in order to return Greece to a sustainable path.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, Yanis Varoufakis, you’ve talked, in your speech that you gave at the Brookings Institution, of the design failures of the European Union. Could you talk about that?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Look, this is an open secret, it’s a common secret, that the eurozone was never designed in order to sustain the shockwaves of the major financial markets earthquake of 2008. So it was like all monetary unions that lack a shock-absorbing mechanism, a mechanism for recycling surpluses.
Let me give you an example in the American context. Remember what happened in 1929? There was a global currency of sorts, the gold standard, that created very sharp, very quick flows of capital, even back then, even though the Internet was not available at the time and there were no computers. And that created bubbles that eventually burst, beginning of course with Wall Street. And the result was that the burden of adjustment went onto the devastated nations and the devastated parts within the United States. So, what did FDR do? What did the Roosevelt administration do with the New Deal? It created mechanisms for recycling deficits and surpluses within the United States of America through Social Security, through the Fed, the FDIC, so that when the next crisis happened in 2008, which was of course monumental, even in the United States—the next 1929 in 2008 happened, the state of Nevada did not have to bail out the banks domiciled in Nevada, and the state of Nevada did not have to worry about paying for the unemployment benefits. You had these shock-absorbing mechanisms. You had the FDIC looking after the banks of Nevada, and you had Social Security at the federal level paying, through surplus recycling, by—automatically, without even a political decision. Taxes from New York state and California were diverted to pay for the unemployment benefits in Nevada. These are the kinds of mechanisms that you need in order to render a monetary union stable, and Europe never had those.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to the opposition lawmaker, Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the New Democracy party, which is the former governing party of Greece. He criticized your party, the governing party, Syriza’s party’s approach to Greece’s financial troubles.
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS: [What the government is doing] is devastating for economic activity in Greece, all this uncertainty, the downgradings, the fact that the government is using all the available cash, paying no one, the fact that the banks are funneling all their liquidity to support the government. It’s completely catastrophic for the real economy. So, inaction has a real cost.
AMY GOODMAN: Yanis Varoufakis, your response?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Well, look, if it were true that the Greek economy was on the mend prior to our election and that it was on a sustainable path, then my colleague would be right. Unfortunately, it isn’t true. The debt deflationary crisis was continuing, inexorably. Nominal incomes continued to fall. Private and public debt continued to rise. The banks could not function as credit-providing institutions. Investment was negative. And generally speaking, the Greek economy was like a drug addict that relied on the next dose of loans from its international and European creditors.
And what we tried to do was to say to our international and European creditors, to our partners in Europe and to the whole world that this recipe was simply not working. And we took a very considered view and a very principled position. We said that, look, if we sign on the dotted line of this existing program, IMF-inspired program, then, of course, we will secure another $5-7 billion—this is a new dose, if you want—and our addiction will continue, but at least we will have our dose for a few more months. We didn’t take that dose. We didn’t sign on the dotted line, because we want to get rid of the addiction. We want to stabilize the Greek economy.
And if this means that there’s going to be a standoff for a few months between us and our creditors, who don’t like to hear that the program they have been enforcing and implementing in Greece for the last five years was a failure—nobody likes to be told that whatever you’ve been doing for five years is a failure—well, this is the price, however, we had to pay in order to reboot Greece and to reboot our relationship with our creditors. The only way you could be heard was to say, "We are not interested in getting this loan tranche until and unless we have a rethink of the whole program, so that Greece stops going down the path of the downward spiral of debt deflation." And if, in the meantime, this means that our bonds have been downgraded, well, from what? From minus a million to minus one million and one, right? Then, so be it. We were not elected to lie. We were elected to say to our own people and to the people around the world that this medicine has not been working, we need a new treatment.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, but meanwhile, many world leaders keep putting pressure on Greece. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that a full-blown crisis in your country would impact the wider European and global economy. This is what he said.
TREASURY SECRETARY JACK LEW: If there is a crisis, it will first hit Greece, and it will hit the Greek people very hard, but it is something that the European and global economy do not need, to have another crisis. So, it’s in everyone’s interest to find that space, but the Greek government needs to come forward with the kinds of details that the institutions and they can work through to find the kind of program that can have that kind of confidence.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Your response to Treasury Secretary Lew?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Well, Secretary Lew is absolutely spot-on, quite right. This is a crisis we don’t have to have. It’s a standoff that we should have ended some time ago. It is completely correct to say that if this negotiation fails to achieve a mutually advantageous outcome, then the repercussions will be dire, not just, of course, for the Greek people, but for the international economy. We are completely in agreement with that. And what I believe that Jack Lew has been doing over the last few days and weeks is he’s been applying pressure to both the Greek government, of course, but, on the other hand, the institutions—the IMF, the European Central Bank, the European Commission, European partners—to get to an agreement.
On the question of proposals to settle this agreement, I can assure you now, for quite a few weeks—actually, months—the Greek government has very clear proposals on how to settle this. It is a matter of convincing the institutions, the three institutions—the ECB, the European Central Bank; the International Monetary Fund; the European Commission—that the ways of yesteryear, the ways of the last five years, were not solving the problem, that we need deeper reforms. We need to get rid of the idea that austerity is going to end the debt crisis. We need an investment package for Greece. And we need, together with our partners and institutions, to agree on a reform mechanism, a reform package, that attacks here in Greece the worst cases of rent-seeking, the oligarchy, the various cartels, instead of targeting the little people, the pensioners who are living on $600 a month, as if that is a reform that would work.
AMY GOODMAN: Again, Yanis Varoufakis, what will you do if Europe expels you from the euro?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Europe is not going to expel us from the euro. I refuse to believe that Europe would ever operate that way. Remember that since the end of the Second World War, European peoples and their governments have been working tirelessly to bring closer integration together. Nobody in Europe wants to begin the process of disintegration, over what is, after all, a very small philosophical difference of opinion regarding how to stabilize a small economy like Greece.
Our position is that, folks, the last five years offered decisive proof that this program that you had agreed with previous governments was not working, and now we need to reboot it, we need another one. And we need one that makes perfect sense, that is completely undogmatic, and which does two major things: Firstly, it removes the austerity-driven logic from the scene, because it’s self-defeating and it’s pushing debt up rather than down by attacking incomes from which the debts will have to be repaid; and secondly, deep reforms that attack the malignancies of the Greek social economy, and in particular, the oligarchy and the very gross level of inequality, which is adding to the crisis. When you are turning a society like Greece into less equal, into a more unequal society, and you reduce the tax base by allowing the rich to get away without paying their taxes, to have tax immunity, and constantly to be looking at small-scale parasitic behavior while neglecting the grand-scale parasitic behavior, then you’re simply making a bad thing worse.
And believe you me, our proposals are eminently sensible. We are bombarding the other side with reasonableness. We want to come to a conclusion very quickly. We were prepared months ago to come to an agreement. We’re working tirelessly to forge this agreement, for the benefits of Greeks, of Europeans and the global community.  [Emphasis Mine.]
--Via Democracy Now.


Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Too Serious? Maybe.

John Oliver & Martin Sheen Present The Ultimate Doomsday Video

If the end of the world is coming, you don't want to see a military band playing "Nearer, My God, to Thee" as CNN reportedly has planned.
No, if Doomsday is finally here (and you're going to be parked in front of a TV during humanity's final moments), you want a celebration rather than a funeral dirge -- and on "Last Week Tonight," host John Oliver recruited "West Wing" President Josiah Bartlet, Martin Sheen, to help the world go out in style.
Check out the clip above for everything that made our time on this planet so remarkable, plus a few things we're all less than proud of. -- Via Huffington Post.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Suck It Up - Suckers

A demonstration in non-cooperation.

Group Hug in Hell
The Election that Matters will Take Place in the Streets
Be Gone Labor, Environment

Whether it is broadly perceived at present or not, an economic bomb was just dropped on the loose coalition of political and economic interests— Black Lives Matter, the $15 minimum wage movement, the residual of Occupy and the immigrants’ rights movement, by the political Party that a half-century or so ago nominally represented like issues, the Democrats. With President Barack Obama getting ‘fast-track’ authority for the uber-corporate friendly, anti-labor and anti-environment TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and establishment candidates Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush the likely contenders for President in 2016, both mainstream political Parties are doubling down on the neoliberal, neoconservative status quo.

As Mr. Obama most certainly understands, the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions of the TPP render ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ civil labor and environmental proposals moot— issues like a minimum wage and what type of fuels U.S. utilities can burn will be decided by corporate lawyers in tribunals outside of civil jurisdiction. Appeals to Hillary Clinton to oppose the agreement— Jeb Bush and Congressional Republicans have already signaled their support; illustrate the folly of political ‘lesser-evilism.’ Ms. Clinton is a committed neoliberal and any opposition she might offer would most certainly be an election ploy. Given the ‘political capital’ that Mr. Obama is expending to get the TPP passed, it is reasonable to assume that it represents the culmination of the neoliberal takeover that has consumed the Democrat Party for the last half-century.

Informing modern political theory, in the late nineteenth century the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey developed the ‘telos of becoming,’ the purpose (telos) that becomes evident through subsequent history. When applied to American politics a trajectory from Jimmy Carter’s neoliberal resurgence to Bill Clinton’s social capitulation accompanied by NAFTA and deregulating the banks led to Barack Obama’s current push for the TPP. With polls consistently showing the American public well to the left of mainstream Party policies, modern Republicans lack the finesse for the political long con. With the TPP as soon-to-be-accomplished fact, from bank bailouts to the revived unitary Presidency, from extra-judicial drone murders to endless wars, Barack Obama is the gifted salesperson for a new corporate totalitarianism.

The Rationale

By accounts Mr. Obama does have a rationale for his support of the TPP, a ‘strategic vision’ that illuminates the interests at stake— as well as the utter irrelevance of the electorate and the broader American people in the ‘deal.’ The logic goes approximately like this: multinational corporations— banks, arms manufacturers, oil and gas companies and various and sundry industrialists already rule ‘the world.’ The choice from this point forward is between ‘our’ corporations and Asian, mainly Chinese, state-sponsored corporatism. The problem for the rest of us is that this is an updated eighteenth century European ‘royalist’ view— it is neutron bomb politics where the 99.9% of us who also occupy the planet, and the planet itself, have been assumed away. The ghettoization of the political and economic ‘leadership’ classes has facilitated a deeply delusional internal logic in policy ‘circles.’

From within this view the rest of Mr. Obama’s policies make sense. The bailouts of banks and bankers were to keep the ‘real’ players in the game. U.S. sponsored chaos across the Middle East is a contest for regional, and global, dominance where the lives of the ‘little people’ who are its casualties are irrelevant to the ‘higher purpose.’ Obamacare expands the proportion of the domestic population tied to the corporate model of social relations. Domestic surveillance is the hierarchical model of corporate control applied to a network of engineered social relations— technology defines the realm of social possibility through the inclusion and exclusion of broader social possibility. Left apparently unconsidered is that this unchecked corporatism seems at present the quickest path to mass extinction of most living things on the planet.

Group Hug in Hell

For Democrats in particular the election cycle revives the preference for religious imagination with increasingly toxic results. This imagination has been joined with the capitalist idea of progress through embedded history presented as the new and improved product line. If only we elect a ______ to the Presidency the world will be right. Had these aspirations ever borne meaningful relation to actual outcomes the conceit might make some sense. Margaret Thatcher demonstrated that a woman can force a hard-right turn as well as any man. Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court because he proved himself useful to the institutional hard-right by throwing tens of thousands of hard-fought anti-discrimination lawsuits by the poor and disenfranchised into the dustbin without review. Absent a miraculous end-of-term conversion the neoliberal, neoconservative Barack Obama is set to make Jimmy Carter into a retrospective Democrat hero.

It is more than a bit ironic that in a country with nominally democratic aspirations the quest for a leader who will deliver ‘the people’ from their bonds becomes abdication, infinite ‘progress’ that never quite relates last year’s savior to this year’s bonds. Coincident is the want for more emotionally satisfying incantations, better explanations for the facts that are their opposite. Neocons and neoliberals are statespersons and responsible economists when the Blue Party is in office and war-mongers and readers of economic goat entrails when the Red Party is in office. The totality of the ideological distance between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton can be found in the few names that don’t overlap on their contributor lists. The pragmatists hoping for ‘a seat at the table’ don’t appear to have realized that they are once again on the menu.

The root of this electoral delusion lies in the contradiction between political and economic democracy. Posed as compatible, even complimentary, American democracy was conceived in plutocracy and slavery, in the three-fifths a chattel person slaves accrued to those who owned them. Two centuries before the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizen’s United’ ruling the owner of fifteen slaves held the political ‘personhood’ of nine slaves (3/5 = 0.6 X 15 = 9) plus himself. Fealty to legislative and judicial precedence has antique white guys in fact and spirit communing with the social facts of past centuries that have been so skillfully reconstituted in modern social technologies. ‘Private’ contributions to political campaigns approximate the distribution of income. Representative democracy has the same representatives representing the interests of factory owners and ‘their’ employees. Labor leaders who are paid like bosses act like bosses.

The recurring ritual of liberal and progressive commentators pleading with Democrat candidates to consider their policy prescriptions conveys the well-padded chairs in well-appointed offices that will greet their ritual humiliation once the votes have been counted. Self-important distinctions between REDBLUE voters and the ‘irrelevant’ left will be on public display until the first Presidential ‘compromise’ hits the news. The first few compromises will be ‘pragmatic,’ a signal that HILLBUSH wants to ‘reach across the aisle’ to accrue political capital for the important votes. The next few will be accedence to the Conservative / Christian temperament of the voters whose divided vote called for small ‘c’ change. And the next few still will signal the inability for transformative organization by the liberal-left until the current savior needs to rouse the troops for the next election.

The (Corporate) People Will be Heard

For those occupying less hospitable environs, a/k/a the overwhelming preponderance of persons on / in the world, the pageantry of radical irrelevance which is electoral politics retains some entertainment value from the distance. The perpetual chide that not voting accedes political power to those who do accepts at face value that political power is gained at the ballot box. The only major Democrat to win in the 2014 mid-term elections, Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf, just put forward the most radically neo-liberal state budget in modern history. While ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has been partially exorcised from the utterly corrupt Pennsylvania state legislature due to bad press, Democrat Wolf’s election victory brought back the ALEC platform without the political baggage. Who says voters don’t have a voice?

While Tom Wolf is but one Governor and Pennsylvania but one state, the tie between the mainstream political Parties and impossible-to-dislodge political and economic interests transcends local politics. The class dynamic at work in Pennsylvania is mirrored nationwide: a group of moderately literate, self-interested neoliberal opportunists are using the residual agrarian / urban, state / city frame to enrich themselves by looting the cities under the cover of neoliberal ideology. How many privatized school cheating scandals, misbegotten student debts and industrial sewers that used to be town water supplies need exist before the distance between words and deeds is obvious?

The political dynamic being brought to the fore is rapidly increasing class antagonism. Those either too busy or disinterested to understand exactly how far down the neoliberal rat hole the Democrat Party has descended will be seeing it in their paychecks and health insurance premiums in coming weeks and months. With fortune (Machiavelli’s ‘fortuna,’ not banker script) in play, the TPP may be Hillary Clinton’s undoing. It places the Democrat Party so decisively in the pockets of the corporate-totalitarian right that the more prescient forces of the liberal-progressive establishment might choke on their continuing support for Democrat policies. Republicans are ‘worse’ in the sense of being less skilled at selling corporate interests as those of ‘the people.’ But given that the actual policies of both Parties are close to identical, the political choice is either for the existing system or against it without the faux distinctions of Party politics.

The present amorphous coalition of Black Lives Matter, the $15 minimum wage movement (why not $21 plus benefits?), the residual of Occupy and the immigrants’ rights movement embody the political with economic issues that sum to true political opposition to the heavily cloistered political mainstream. Crude materialist theories of political interests, the first ______ President, etc., have been the tools of cynical political opportunists selling similar policies with carefully circumscribed difference for some decades now. Barack Obama has his reasons for pushing the TPP. But if you believe that they are ‘your’ reasons you haven’t read the fine print. The only politics likely to matter in the next few years will be decided in the streets, not at the ballot box. -- Via CounterPunch.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. The images that accompany this piece are his iteration of previously existing images. This approach derives from a social theory of art.


Friday, April 10, 2015

What you call, Rule of Law

When Anger Management Leads to Gun Confiscation
Anti-Second Amendment zealots are sure to be stirred up by a new study that claims 22 million Americans have severe anger issues andaccess to guns. The study1, conducted by researchers at Harvard, Columbia and Duke universities, goes on to identify these angry people as generally young or middle-aged men living in suburban areas and having a history of impulsive and explosive anger issues. Next up: Gun confiscation.
The study’s authors note2 that, while laws are already on the books limiting gun access for people with felony convictions or misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, there have been few attempts to limit access for people with documented anger management issues or alcohol abuse.
In recent years, newly minted federal and state laws focused on limiting gun access to people with mental illness, but so far the results have been mixed. While it has been possible to prevent some mentally ill people from owning firearms, there are also cases where perfectly healthy individuals have had their guns confiscated after being swept up in this dragnet. Furthermore, the study’s authors point out that, even if mentally ill people are removed from the equation entirely, it would reduce violent crime by only 4-5%.
The study concludes that it’s time to widen gun restrictions to include people with other misdemeanor convictions and documented behavior that, according to its findings, indicate the potential for gun violence. The anti-gun lobby is sure to latch onto this study as it continues its fight to remove firearms from private ownership.
Certainly there are people so mentally unstable that they shouldn’t own guns. But who gets to decide just how angry people must be before we revoke their Second Amendment rights? Is it, for example, throwing a rock through a neighbor’s window, or is it something mundane like raising one’s voice in a heated discussion about picking up the trash? 
Everyone expresses anger, and, while the study defines an “anger problem” through a series of aberrant behaviors like repeatedly destroying property or getting into physical altercations, lawmakers may not adhere to such a strict definition. Nor does it instill confidence that the execution of laws meant to curb gun ownership by so-called angry people will be administered without prejudice. We need only look at the gun-grabbing effect of laws already on the books to prove this point.
Take the case of Michael Roberts3, a law-abiding citizen in California who had his 21 firearms, including some irreplaceable family heirlooms, confiscated in 2010 when his doctor filed a restraining order against him. The matter was peacefully resolved, but the police refused to return Roberts' guns despite a court order instructing them to do so. In the end, he sued for and received the cash value of his guns, but the police, who had no such authority under the law, destroyed the firearms.
Sadly, the Roberts case is not unique. States with strict gun laws — California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, et al. — often operate on a confiscate-first, ask-questions-rarely mentality. These types of cases happen under the radar and often go unreported in the media, leading people to think lawful gun owners needn’t fear having their guns confiscated and destroyed by government officials.
The gun grabbers who hide behind state and federal laws count on the bureaucracy to mask their actions and to prevent people from seeking restitution if their guns are confiscated. Oftentimes, the cost of litigation, fees and fines are too great for gun owners to pay, and they have little recourse as their firearms are seized for ginned up reasons.
The right to own firearms is protected by both the Second Amendment and the Fifth Amendment, which covers private property. But if government officials and anti-gun zealots are making the rules, the status of legal gun ownership will remain on precarious ground. [Picture Source]

Via Patriot Post

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Who Rules California

Drought-stricken California’s fracking operations used 70 mn gallons of water last year

Energy companies in California used 70 million gallons of water for the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process to unearth oil and gas reserves, according to officials. The figure comes during the state’s increasingly urgent push to conserve water.
That amount is of water used is less than previously projected by industry -- which estimated fracking used about 100 million gallons of water per year. Nevertheless, water in California is at premium. The state is entering its fourth year of record drought, and a mandatory water reduction plan was announced last week by Governor Jerry Brown. California may only have 12 months’ worth of water left, as snowpack measurements for the year are set to hit record lows. Yet fracking operations are not included in the conservation efforts.
To unleash oil or natural gas from shale or other areas, the fracking process requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock. Once used, toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields, or used over again.
“Hydraulic fracturing uses a relatively small amount of water – the equivalent of 514 households annually,” Steven Bohlen, the state oil and gas supervisor, told Reuters, which first reported the water usage figure.
Bohlen added that fracking uses more than fresh water, including “produced” water that surfaces during the fracking process that cannot be used for drinking or agricultural purposes.
Patrick Sullivan, a spokesperson for the Center for Biological Diversity and Californians Against Fracking, said while the state’s fracking water use may only equal 514 households, much of that contaminated water can’t be used again, unlike most common household water usage.
“It is water that most likely cannot be put back into the water cycle,” Sullivan told ThinkProgress. “It’s water that is by and large gone for good.”
Reuters also reported last week that environmentalist groups have estimated that oil and gas developers in the state go through 2 million gallons of fresh water per day for oil production.
Fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination, heightened earthquake activity, exacerbation of drought conditions, and a variety of health concerns for humans and the local environment.

Oil and gas companies are under increasingly intense pressure nationwide to respond over increased transparency of chemicals used in the fracking process. As RT has reported, industry has avoided divulging -- often under the cover of official regulatory agencies -- just what chemicals are involved in their toxic injection fluids. Yet drillers insist the chemicals do not endanger human health, contradicting findings by scientists and environmentalists.
“What [oil and gas producers] have been doing, especially in the [California’s agriculturally fertile] Central Valley, is injecting this very contaminated, very salty -- often containing benzene -- water into shallow aquifers and shallow water supplies,” Helen Slottje, of the Community Environmental Defense Council, told RT.
“Water is not replaceable, we don't have any alternative sources for water. But we do have alternative sources for natural gas and oil.”
In March, disclosures in California revealed that a bevy of toxic, cancer-linked chemicals in fracking wastewater are routinely injected back into the ground.
In February, it was reported that California officials permitted oil and gas companies to dispose of waste and other fluids into aquifers containing drinking and irrigation water more than 2,500 times. Significantly, 46 percent of these permits were authorized within the last four years – the same timeframe during which the EPA warned California that regulators were not sufficiently protecting underground water reserves in the drought-stricken state.
In October 2014, the state found that the oil and gas industry had illegally injected about three billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking water and farm irrigation aquifers.

The executive order signed by Gov. Brown mandates cities and towns to reduce water usage by 25 percent over the next nine months to save approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water “or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville,” the statement said.
The order also allows California to replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments; direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.
Alas, fracking operations are exempt from the reduction plan.
“Governor Brown is forcing ordinary Californians to shoulder the burden of the drought by cutting their personal water use while giving the oil industry a continuing license to break the law and poison our water,” Zack Malitz, of the environmental activism group Credo, told Reuters last week.
“Fracking and toxic injection wells may not be the largest uses of water in California, but they are undoubtedly some of the stupidest,” he added.
-Via RT