Thursday, October 27, 2016

Corporate Propaganda About DAPL Exposed (Part 2)

"Pipelines are – by far – the safest way to transport energy liquids and gases. Already, 8 pipelines cross the Missouri River carrying hundreds of thousands of barrels of energy products every day. That includes the Northern Border natural gas pipeline – built in 1982 – that parallels the planned crossing for Dakota Access for 40 miles as well as high voltage transmission power lines. Once completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline will be among the safest, most technologically advanced pipelines in the world."

Pipelines are not safe by any stretch of the imagination, and they aren't getting any safer. Pipeline leaks are neither infrequent nor decreasing in frequency. The number of pipeline leaks has increased 60% since 2009, corresponding to the increase in domestic oil production. From 2010 to 2015, over 1,000 crude oil pipeline leaks occurred, which released over 7,000,000 gallons of crude. The largest spill, which released 840,000 gallons, occurred in North Dakota in 2013 and destroyed a wheat field.

One of the talking points that the Big oil lobby and their useful idiots (neoliberal dupes) like to tout is that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil. This of course is nothing more than a sleight of hand. If by safer, they mean that pipeline leaks occur less frequently than rail and truck spills, then they are correct.

According to the '2013 Oil Medium - Term Market Report', produced by International Energy Agency,  the rail versus pipeline incident ratio is 2:1, that is to say, the risk of a train spill is two times higher than that of a pipeline leak.
'Our calculation implies 0.09 incidents and 26 barrels released per 1 billion barrel-miles of crude oil transported by pipeline during a 2004 - 2012 period. Comparing that with figures for rail, we quantify the risk of a train incident to be 6 times higher than that of a pipeline, while pipelines spill 3 times more per 1 billion barrel miles of crude oil transported, over the 2004 - 2012 period. '
'Any spill constitutes a railway incident in these calculations, while only spills over 5 gallons constitutes a pipeline spill. Putting both modes of transport on a level playing field by considering spills over 5 gallons only, the rail versus pipeline incident ratio would be only 2:1. 
However, if by safer they mean the amount of crude spilled is less, then rail and truck transportation is safer than pipeline transportation.
'Increasing volumes of crude oil transported by rail raise questions of safety. Our analysis reveals that compared to pipelines, rail incident rates are higher (2 times higher) while the opposite holds for spill rates.'
 'Our calculation implies 0.09 incidents and 26 barrels released per 1 billion barrel-miles of crude oil transported by pipeline during a 2004 - 2012 period. Comparing that with figures for rail, we quantify the risk of a train incident to be 6 times higher than that of a pipeline, while pipelines spill 3 times more per 1 billion barrel miles of crude oil transported, over the 2004 - 2012 period. ' 
Pipelines spilled 25.9 barrels per 1 billion barrel miles of crude, while trains spilled 8.6 barrels per 1 billion barrel-miles of crude oil. Within in the same time period, pipelines released 424,000 barrels of crude while trains released 2,269 barrels of crude. Clearly transporting crude by pipeline is less safe than transporting crude by rail car, and neither is safe in the long run. Perhaps when they said 'safer' they meant cheaper.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Corporate Propaganda About DAPL Exposed (Part 1)

If you want to make it obvious that you have an ulterior motive but want to pretend that other people won't catch on, you should name your material "The truth about ___" or my favorite "Fact Checker", so that in your attempt to appear as an objective bystander, less naive people will notice that you're trying too hard to appear objective. standingrockfactchecker.org is a laughable example of corporate propagandists trying to pretend that they are objective bystanders. The impression that they're trying to give is that there is no legitimate reason to protest the DAPL construction, using the standard msm tactic of lying by omission and tearing down strawmen. A few excerpts illustrate the lengths these people will go to distort reality.

"1.CLAIM: The pipeline encroaches on indigenous lands.

TRUTH: The Dakota Access Pipeline traverses a path on private property and does not cross into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. 100% of landowners in North Dakota voluntarily signed easements to allow for construction of the pipeline on their property. Nearly the entire route of the 1,172 mile pipeline has been sited and approved by relevant state and federal agencies and more than 22% of the pipeline has already been completed. To the extent possible, the Dakota Access Pipeline was routed to parallel existing infrastructure, such as the Northern Border Pipeline, to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and areas of potential cultural significance."

The Standing Rock Sioux has made no such claim; their claim is that it endangers their only source of water: the Missouri river that passes through their reservation. Perhaps someone in the comments section of some YouTube video mistakenly made this claim, but that doesn't make it relevant to the issue at hand. And since they didn't provide a source for this claim, I have no recourse expect to assume they pulled it out of their ass. It is even more disingenuous to pretend that the Indian tribes are the only obstacle in the way of the pipeline when there are several white farming families who are still fighting DAPL in Iowa and nearly three quarters of their peers are opposed to using eminent domain to seize private property for private corporations. It's not just a few disgruntled Indian tribes; everyone has a stake in this.

The real kicker is that if you dig far enough, that is to say not very far at all, you'll find that the source for all of their claims is the same corporation building the pipeline. That would be like me citing myself as proof of my own claims.

One of their claims is that Dakota Access received near unanimous consent from landowners across all four states and unanimous consent from landowners in North Dakota and South Dakota. In other  words, the corporate propagandist would have you believe that every single landowner, along DAPL trajectory, in North Dakota and South Dakota, signed a voluntary easement agreement and welcomed DAPL with open arms. What they don't tell you is that DAPL intimated landowners into giving up their land by threatening to file a lawsuit against them in 2015.
'Dakota Access filed suit against the Minnehaha County landowners in April (2015), saying its surveyors need to check all properties along the proposed route to determine if the land is suitable for an underground crude oil line. The company has filed similar legal action in Lincoln County against others.’
Minnehaha County, SD judge, Mark Salter, granted DAPL the right of way to survey the property of 24 landowners months before the PUC even permitted construction, which suggests the PUC hearing was nothing more than a formality, and Judge Mark Salter was simply streamlining the construction process i.e. the landowners who “voluntarily" agreed to easements didn’t have any other choice.
'Joy Hohn, one of the landowners involved in the case, said she was "highly disappointed" by the ruling.'
"An oil leak to the west of Sioux Falls could run through farm drainage tiles and tributaries that go through the Sioux River, Skunk Creek and Wall Lake," Hohn said. "This would affect the water aquifers for Sioux Falls and surrounding communities.”
Joy's husband Rod Hohn said after the hearing that he feels as though opponents are "fighting a losing battle.”
"They're just pushing this thing through with an iron fist," he said.
The Lincoln County Judge denied DAPL the right of way to survey property owner’s land before the PUC permitted construction.
'A dozen Lincoln County landowners opposing the project asked the court to stop the company from going onto their land to survey it for the pipeline. Judge Brad Zell agreed with the landowners under South Dakota's eminent domain laws, saying a permit would be required.’
These landowners 'voluntarily' agreed to easements in the same way that they 'voluntarily' pay income taxes. A more likely explanation is that they couldn't afford to fight DAPL's legal team in court. 

DAPL doesn't shy away from using brute force wherever they meet resistance. Landowners that aren't willing to 'voluntarily' allow construction on their land, which is agricultural for the most part, actually don't have a choice after all; the holdouts in Iowa found this out the hard way. 
'Dick and Judy Lamb, a farm couple with land west of Ames (Iowa) that will be cut diagonally by the pipeline, said they were informed Monday that their crops had been cut but were told they would not be notified 48 hours prior to construction commencing on their land.’
"There just aren't words to describe having the government seize your land and destroy it and have no recourse and nothing you can do. It's an anger and a hopelessness that I have difficulty expressing," Dick Lamb said. 
Censoring protesters isn't off limits either; even people who protest against construction on their own property are subject to arrest. Just recently an Iowa woman was arrested, on her own property, for blocking construction crews from leveling her family's crops, and not too long ago, a man was arrested for protesting the placement of the pipeline through his well. It seems Dakota Access will go to any length to put their pipeline in the ground, even if it means treading on the rights of people who don't comply with them. Where are the Tea Party protesters with their Gadsden flags when you need them?

Friday, October 14, 2016

In 2016 Vote For No One

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." - Emma Goldman 


The choices offered in this presidential election are just as abysmal as they have been in previous elections. And who are people really voting for? The next figure head of the empire: someone who will oversee the continuation of phony wars (e.g. terror and drugs) perpetrated against the American people under the guise of protecting our 'freedoms': someone who will oversee the doling out of favors, which is made incumbent by the norm of reciprocity: someone who will oversee the further concentration of power, via upward wealth redistribution, into fewer hands. No matter who is elected president in November, the same system will remain in place. At most he/she may tweak it a bit; Clinton might get paid family leave implemented or Trump might push through his tax cuts, but the same neoliberal system will be left in place, the same police state will be left unabated (and probably made even more repressive given the leading candidates attitudes toward civil liberties), and the same imperialist wars will be continued.

It might be worth it to mention some of our candidates' positions just to demonstrate what most people should already know. I've listed the candidates and some of their positions in descending order, from worst to least worst.

Clinton's policies
supported war in Iraq
supported war in Afghanistan
supported Libyan rebels who carried out an ethnic cleansing of black Libyans
after Gadhafi’s death 
wants
supports CIA drone war (now in 7 countries)
will probably start WWIII as president (as indicated by her hawkish tone on Syria)
supported TARP bailout
supported repeal of Glass Steagall Act (under her husband's admin)
supports Import-Export bank: provides low interest rate loans to multinationals
supported Patriot Act and its extension
supports NSA prism program
supports terrorist watch list
supports no fly list and wants to use it to also curtail 2nd amendment rights
supports the Trans Pacific Partnership (in fact she advocated it as secretary of state)
supports ruthless dictators like former Egyptian president Mubarak, King Salman bin Abdulaziz (and former King Abdullah) and Al Sisis
her top campaign donors include JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, BOA, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley

Trump's Policies
supported war in Iraq (as indicated in 2002 Howard Stern Interview)
supported TARP bailouts
wants a national 'stop and frisk'
believes American citizens accused of terrorism should be tried in military courts
he is ok with using eminent domain to take property from one private citizen and give it to another (Kelo vs. City of New London)
supports NSA prism program 
proposed looting people's bank accounts as a way to pay down the national debt in a 2000 CNN interview
supports terrorist watch list
supports no fly list and wants to use it to also curtail 2nd amendment rights
supports reauthorization of Patriot Act
supports Obama's drone wars in seven countries
wants to deploy 30,000 troops, and God only knows how many private mercenaries, to Iraq and Syria

But....
He opposed the reauthorization of Import-Export Bank 
Is the only candidate, besides Jill Stein, who has spoken out against the Trans Pacific Partnership
Wants to reinstate Glass-Stegall Act
Is less hostile to Russia and the Syrian government
and unlike Hillary, he isn't bought off by the finance industry

Trump is by far the lesser evil, but the lesser evil is still a bad choice. Neither of the two sincerely believe in the neoconservative ideology they are peddling; their true ideology is egotism. The biggest difference is that Trump is at least open to compromise.

Gary 'bake the cake' Johnson's Policies

or perhaps he could be more aptly called Gary 'what is Aleppo?' Johnson 

He wants to replace the federal income tax with a 23% national sales tax which is worse in some regards because it is a tax specifically on labor and would shift most of the burden of taxation onto the working class. Soak the poor is what Johnson's so called fair tax amounts to.

He supports the Trans Pacific Partnership, like any quintessential neoliberal who's concept of freedom amounts to cheap labor for multinationals and often bonded labor, since five of the twelve countries that have signed on are havens for human trafficking.

He opposes campaign finance reform and is opposed to any of the current limits on campaign donations, despite the fact that he would have a much better chance if political campaigns were only allotted public funding and SuperPacs were prohibited.

And did I mention he thinks jewish bakers should be forced to bake nazi cakes, even though political affiliation isn't a protected class in any civil rights legislation. I think what he was actually trying to convey was that Christian bakers, and christian wedding planners, and christian ministers should be forced to celebrate homosexual marriage against their conscience. If that is the case then it undermines any other objection he may have to any other forms of forced labor.

I probably agree with the vast majority of Gary Johnson's platform, especially when it comes to foreign policy and civil liberties, but his position on the TTP and tax reform, his wack-a-doodle demeanor, and his gross ignorance on current events makes him untenable as a candidate. I could tolerate some of his atrocious policies, but his support for the Trans Pacific Partnership was a deal breaker. Its pretty sad that this clown is the best candidate the Libertarian Party has to offer.