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Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

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  • Fri, May 13, 2011 - 11:35pm



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    Client dictators being

Client dictators being overthrown by the disenfranchised citizens of the Middle East, a nuclear meltdown in one of the ‘most advanced’ economies of the world, bankrupt governments trying to choose between tax subsidies for Big Oil and financial aid for college-bound youths…. Boy, these really do seem to be nail-biting times we are living in.

Time for some grim humor…..


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist, illustrator, and writer best known for her weekly comic “Slowpoke” which appears in alternative newspapers around the nation. Her work has been published in the Village VoiceMs. MagazineLA TimesNickelodeon, and In 2010, Jen received a Grambs Aronson “Cartoonist With a Conscience” award, part of the James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism given out by Hunter College. She has also won several awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. More of her writing and art can be seen at Slowpoke Comics.

Slowpoke cartoon
Click for larger version.

Matt Bors is a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist based in Portland, OR. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles TimesThe Nation, and Village Voice, among others. His first graphic novel, War Is Boring, a collaboration with journalist David Axe, was published last year by New American Library. He has reported from Afghanistan and is the Comics Journalism Editor for Cartoon Movement.

Click for larger version.


  • Sat, May 14, 2011 - 04:35am



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    Capitalism, Materialism, Freedom and Death …


Capitalism is not the enemy – its the answer!  The problem is the system we know of as capitalism is so perverted and corrupt that some throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The Federal Reserve… there is the enemy.  A fractional reserve ponzi based on necessarily ever-expanding credit/debt that must, must “reset” from time to time (like now) – folks, theres your enemy.  A political system such as ours relying on “I’ll vote for you if you give me something” is a very, very close number two.  What do I know, its their world – I just live in it.


Hello Treemagnet,

Have a play in this sandpit … Cool

~ VF ~

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 - 04:28pm



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    More Shocking News from

More Shocking News from TEPCO… 


Two Other Reactors Suffer Serious Damage




TOKYO—Substantial damage to the fuel cores at two other reactors of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has taken place, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday, further complicating the already daunting task of bringing the reactors to a safe shutdown while avoiding the release of high levels of radioactivity.

The revelation followed an acknowledgement on Thursday that a similar meltdown of the core took place at Unit No. 1….

Workers also found that the No. 1 Unit’s reactor building is flooded in the basement, reinforcing the suspicion that the containment vessel is damaged and leaking highly radioactive water.

The revelations are likely to force an overhaul of the six-to-nine-month blueprint for bringing the reactors to a safe shutdown stage and end the release of radioactive materials. The original plan, announced in mid-April, was due to be revised May 17.

The pressure vessel, a cylindrical steel container that holds nuclear fuel, “is likely to be damaged and leaking water at Units Nos. 2-3,” said Junichi Matsumoto, Tepco spokesman on nuclear issues, in a news briefing Sunday.

He also said there could be far less cooling water in the pressure vessels of Unit Nos. 2-3, indicating that there are holes at the bottom of these vessels, with thousands of tons of water that was pumped into these reactors mostly leaking out.

Tepco found the basement of the Unit No. 1 reactor building is flooded with 4.2 meters of water. It isn’t clear where the water came from, but leaks are suspected in pipes running in and out of the containment vessel, a beaker-shaped steel structure that holds the pressure vessel.

The water flooding the basement is believed to be highly radioactive. Workers were unable to observe the flooding situation due to strong radiation coming out of the water, Tepco said.

A survey conducted by an unmanned robot Friday found radiation levels of 1,000-2,000 millisieverts per hour in some parts of the ground level of Unit No. 1, a level that would be highly dangerous for any worker nearby. Japan has placed an annual allowable dosage limit of 250 millisieverts for workers.

The high level of radioactivity means even more challenges for Tepco’s bid to set up a continuous cooling system that won’t threaten radiation leaks into the environment….

The nuclear industry lacks a technical definition for a full meltdown, but the term is generally understood to mean that radioactive fuel has breached containment measures, resulting in a massive release of fuel….


On the brighter side, if there is one, Japan has scrapped its plans to increase nuclear power from 30 percent to half of the nation’s energy source by 2030 and will promote renewable energy as a result of its ongoing nuclear crisis.
  • Sun, May 15, 2011 - 06:17pm



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    Glenn Greenwald’s articles

Glenn Greenwald’s articles have articulated quite well how the ‘War on Terror’ is a self-perpetuating beast with no end in site, as it is being conducted today. And the bigger point is that a democracy, as defined by any rational person, cannot exist if the Rule of Law is disregarded in the name of Security. And according to Prez Obama, anyone who questions the legality or rationality of the ‘War on Terror’,  “needs to have their head examined.”

The President spoke openly about the dissent among his advisors in the plan to kill bin Laden. He says that the division of opinions amongst those around him was critically important in fleshing out all possible scenarios. Indeed, he says that differences in opinion are important, welcome, and make better policy.

At the end of the interview, however, Obama did something spectacularly hypocritical. Just minutes after acknowledging the importance of diversity of opinions he says:

“Justice was done and I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got, needs to get their head examined.”


Say what? Was that George W. Bush speaking?

How is difference in opinion about the mission valuable, but the diversity of opinion about the justness of assassinating bin Laden the result of mental instability?

It’s not. Those who are uncomfortable with, or skeptical of, the legality, justice and legitimacy of killing bin Laden aren’t “crazy”. They have legitimate concerns.

Once more, the discussion that has proliferated about whether assassinations and target killings, like that of bin Laden, are just and legal is critically important. The skepticism of scholars, every-day observers, religious figures, politicians etc. has created a healthy debate. Simply discarding the views of all those who dissented with the US decision on killing bin Laden as being mentally ill is more 1984 than 2011. It is worth adding that it is the fumbled recanting of facts regarding the mission to kill bin Laden that has fueled much of the criticism.

It is a sad day, when freedom of expression is actively being quashed in places like Syria, Libya, Bahrain, that the President of the US equates “anyone who questions” his decision with suffering mental illness.


What is a ‘Rogue State’?

Is it a nation that spreads phony democracy and crony capitalism by the barrel of a gun?


They hate us for our freedoms 


The New York Times reports today:

For the second time in three days, a night raid in eastern Afghanistan by NATO forces resulted in the death of a child, setting off protests on Saturday that turned violent and ended in the death of a second boy. . . .

“American forces did an operation and mistakenly killed a fourth-grade student; he had gone to sleep in his field and had a shotgun next to him,” [the district’s governor, Abdul Khalid]. said. “People keep shotguns with them for hunting, not for any other purposes,” Mr. Khalid said.

The boy, [15], was the son of an Afghan National Army soldier . . . When morning came, an angry crowd gathered in Narra, the boy’s village, and more than 200 people marched with his body to the district center. Some of the men were armed and confronted the police, shouting anti-American slogans . . .

The police opened fire in an effort to push back the crowd to stop its advance to the district center. A 14-year-old boy was killed, and at least one other person was wounded, Mr. Khalid said. . . .

On Thursday, a night raid by international forces in Nangahar Province resulted in the death of a 12-year-old girl and her uncle, who was a member of the Afghan National Police.

There’s nothing much new to say here, but every now and then, it’s worth highlighting not only what we’re doing, but what the results are.  Just imagine the accumulated hatred from having things like this happen day after day, week after week, year after year, for a full decade now, with no end in sight — broadcast all over the region.  It’s literally impossible to convey in words the level of bloodthirsty fury and demands for vengeance that would arise if a foreign army were inside the U.S. killing innocent American children even a handful of times, let alone continuously for a full decade.  

It’s the perfect self-perpetuating cycle:  (1) They hate us and want to attack us because we’re over there; therefore, (2) we have to stay and proliferate ourselves because they hate us and want to attack us; (3) our staying and proliferating ourselves makes them hate us and want to attack us more; therefore, (4) we can never leave, because of how much they hate us and want to attack us.  The beauty of this War on Terror — and, as the last two weeks have demonstrated, War is the bipartisan consensus for what we are and should be doing to address Terrorism — is that it forever sustains its own ostensible cause.

UPDATE:  When President Obama explained to the nation (after the fact) why he committed the armed forces to Libya, he declared that the U.S. must not “stand idly by” in the face of violent assaults on unarmed civilians.  Today:

Violence erupted on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, leaving at least eight dead and dozens wounded . . . Israeli troops shot at protesters in three separate locations to prevent crowds from crossing Israeli frontier lines in the deadliest such confrontation in years.

In other words, Israeli troops opened fire on unarmed protesters on three separate borders today (and other reports now suggest higher numbers of people shot).  The protesters were reportedly attempting to infiltrate Israeli territory in commemoration of the annual Palestinian protest of Israel, but by all accounts were unarmed, and some were shot at on their side of their border.  Will the U.S. stand “idly by” while this happens, or . . . issue a statement in ringing support of Israeli actions?  Sadly, there is no plausible third alternative, and that, too, may shed some light on “why they hate us.”


UPDATE II:  For a succinct exhibit of the actual meaning of Freedom when exploited to justify wars, see here.

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 - 07:09pm

    Peter Carson

    Peter Carson

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    Pour another double folks

In response to conclusions drawn by Mickey Foley, per :   “but most Americans can still afford to feed, clothe and house themselves.”

One fairly simple explanation why millions of Americans, Canadians and Europeans et al, are able to continue consumer driven partys – is at least in part because after realizing their mortgages are “underwater”, (oxymoron – Reverse Equity )- and the fact they will never be able to pay off the mortgage, combined with learning through word-of-mouth and or the internet – that they can live for free because foreclosures are taking 1, 2, 3, or more years to complete – jumped-on the bandwagon and stopped making payments after realizing it was a losing proposition.

For the last 30+ months – Billions of dollars which would “normally” flow to fund bankster mortgages – have been diverted instead into consumer toys and items such as : Iphones, flat-screen TV’s, cars, clothing etc. – thus keeping a consumer driven party alive, effectively delaying fundamental consequences of catastrophic results for another day, with shortsighted hopes disaster will be passed on for another generation to deal with.

Ergo: Millions live like there is no tommorrow, and they are basically right – so why not pour another double or triple – WHILE THEY STILL CAN ?

Peter Carson

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 - 08:12pm

    Peter Carson

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    collapsenet is a fraud


Michael C Ruppert is a charlatan, and collapsenet is a fraud. Data and details in his film have been available and posted on many sites prior to MCR attempting to *re-package* same, as a purely marketing ploy to generate cash flow – with ZERO RESOURCES FOR PAID MEMBERS.

FYI – Collapse was filmed in early 2009, and if you decide to watch it – you will notice the fact – THERE IS NO MENTION OF in the credits – because MCR failed to predict audience reaction. In fact, it was not until almost a year after Collapse was released that MCR decided to begin trying a series of failed efforts to create I could detail a lengthy list of failures defining MCR as a charlatan, whose sole purpose is to direct cash-flow to himself – it would fill this page several times over.

As an early paid member, I saw first-hand that MCR is lying wind-bag – who regurgitates yesterdays newspapers and calls his spin *predictions*.

In May 2010 – MCR repeatedly claimed total economic crash was ABSOLUTELY DUE TO ARRIVE IN SPADES within 2 months, by July 2010, as hype to generate membership fees by lying through his teeth make repeated false claims his new website had all the answers and resources to build what he referred to as *lifeboats*. Any claims from MCR that his site has lifeboat templates – WERE THEN, AND STILL ARE NOW – COMPLETE LIES

Even better – anyone who saw the first 5 evolutions and re-launches of collapsenet – would instantly recognize MCRs website formula WAS AN EXACT – but fraudulently hollow – DUPLICATE of Martenson – right down to the lighthouse. The reason why I define MCRs site as devoid of content – was due to the fact all of his energy was directed to con vendors into paying exorbitant fees to market products and services. The website only had one single thread – with no division of contents for members to pool intelligence on any specific matters or topics – virtually the same as MCRs earlier failed website – From the Wilderness – also a complete failure, leaving dozens of MCR suppliers in financial straights when he decided to run-away to Venezuela – which also resulted in another MCR failure – because Chavez woudl not grant his application to immigrate – thus MCR ended-up running back to U$$A with his tail between his legs. Reliable sources indicate MCRs business partner at FTW, was convicted as a pedophile in 2010.

During the first few months of collapsenet, a handful of members – including myself – repeatedly posted constructive comments for MCR to improve his site – with ZERO RESULTS.  In fact, despite repeated claims by MCR that he and his *team* were open to constructive input – my personal result – was to be possibly the first man thrown overboard from MCRs lifeboat movement – and it is my understanding many others have since removed or resigned.

Exploring collapsenet to form your own opinions, which I am secure will affirm my conclusions : Martenson is one of the very best sites on the web.

Peter Carson

  • Tue, May 17, 2011 - 07:36am



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    Crony capitalism apparently

Crony capitalism apparently leads to revolt, as was seen in such countries as Egypt and Libya and now Syria:

Syria’s Rami Makhlouf

…When Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, his son literally inherited the presidency.

Neoliberal economic reforms accelerated, although the regime kept Syria out of the International Monetary Fund.

This led to the rise of crony capitalists, a decline in the technocratic middle class that had been based in the state sector, and the sinking of the working class and peasantry into desperate poverty, with huge levels of unemployment.

It is no coincidence that the Syrian uprising began with unemployed youths writing graffiti inspired by the uprisings against the pro-Western regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The combination of political and economic oppression that the uprisings in those countries were against also exists in Syria.

Egypt had Ahmed Ezz, the steel magnate who favored tight Italian suits (and now faces trial in white prison garb). In Tunisia, it was Leila Traboulsi, the hairdresser who became the president’s wife, then a symbol of the extravagance of the ruling family. Rami Makhlouf, 41, is Syria’s version, a man at the intersection of family privilege, clan loyalty, growing avarice and, perhaps most dangerously, the yawning disconnect between ruler and ruled that already reshaped authoritarian Syria even before the protests.

Makhlouf’s father was the brother to Syria’s first lady, Hafez Al-Assad’s wife, whose family is deeply embedded in the country’s power elite. Makhlouf’s brother, Hafez Makhlouf, is head of the Damascus branch of the General Security Directorate.

As Syria began tepid efforts at privatization in the 1990s, Makhlouf, whose father was an important figure in the Syrian’s government corporations apparatus, began acquiring and starting up companies. Critics say he used his family’s influence to win no-bid contracts and licenses. His biggest catch was one of two licenses the government tendered in 2001 to operate cellular-telephone networks.

Syriatel, the mobile phone company he controls, comprises more than half the mobile market and has in at least one case acted as a wing of the Baath party. When the United Nations in 2005 announced it was launching a probe into Syrian complicity in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Syriatel subscribers received text messages asking them to attend rallies showing “love of country and the rejection of external pressures,” according to a New York Times report of the time. 

As the reforms moved Syria away from a state-led economy, he penetrated the economy’s most lucrative sectors — real estate, transport, banking, insurance, construction and tourism — and his interests run from a five-star hotel in Damascus to duty-free shops at airports and the border. He is the vice chairman and, Syrian analysts say, the real power in Cham Holding, which was set up in 2007 with 73 investors and $360 million, in what seemed an attempt to tether wealthy Sunni businessmen to the government. It has effectively been charged with renovating Syria’s aging infrastructure, attracting Arab capital in another network of support for Mr. Assad’s rule.

When the dam finally burst two months ago, protestors chanted slogans calling for more freedom and eventually for regime change. But Marcus Marktanner, associate professor of economics at the American University of Beirut, said joblessness, stagnant standards of living, the crony capitalism symbolized by Makhlouf and the absence of economic opportunity factored in as well.

 “Economic malaise played an important role,” said Marktanner. “Syria’s social safety nets have eroded while widespread economic opportunities have not emerged. At this point, the government lost its legitimacy.”

“Ideologically the regime doesn’t stand for much anymore beyond the interests of certain individuals,” said Nadim Houry, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Beirut. ” Makhlouf is a symbol of what is perceived as private interests controlling large chunks of Syria’s economy.”


  • Wed, May 18, 2011 - 10:34pm



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    I wouldn’t believe this

I wouldn’t believe this stuff if I hadn’t seen/heard it myself. The UAE has hired Eric Prince, formerly of Blackwater, to build a mercenary force comprised of 800 non-Muslims who will being willing to fire upon and kill protesting citizens of the UAE.

If the USA is aware of this, and they must be, and have signed off on it, then how long will it be before they use such forces against American citizens within the U.S.

“If you look at a place like the U.A.E. — that has more money than man power — it is a logical thing,” New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti said. “The country sort of outsources for everything. Why not outsource defense? This is a new chapter in the boom and defense contracting since the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Mazzetti explained how hundreds of Latin American, South African and mostly Christian troops are being trained by army veterans from the United States and other countries in a desert.


 The Godfather of mercenaries arms the UAE which is paranoid about the Arab Spring

Erik Prince, the 41-year-old former Navy Seal billionaire who years ago created the controversial private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, has started a new venture in the desert outside Abu Dhabi. With millions in cash from the emirates, Prince is building an army for the oil-soaked sheikhs. In the process, he’s hiring South Africans who know their way around a dirty war.


When Erik Prince leaves this earthly realm, Hell is going to have to pull out all the stops. Where, precisely, does one eternally house a man who built a private army that has shot unarmed civilians, fled prosecution in several war-torn countries and generally behaved like the planet is one big free-for-all? The saddest thing about Prince, though, is not that he’s a really, really bad guy. It’s that he so perfectly fits the post 9/11 zeitgeist, the us-vs-them, win-at-any-cost mentality prosecuted so enthusiastically by the Bush administration.

“We are trying to do for the military service what Fed Ex once did for the postal service,” Prince said when founding Blackwater (since renamed Xe Services LLC) in North Carolina, in 1997. His ice-cold pragmatism—let’s call it Cheney-ism—is exactly what made Iraq, after the invasion, one of the darkest moments in American history.

The men and women who hired Prince and his Blackwater mercenaries to guard pipelines, man outposts and shoot children in the wilds of Afghanistan and Iraq—all to keep up the Rumsfeldian fiction that “only” so-and-so number of troops were needed to engineer regime change in these restive lands—have now turned on their janissaries. In 2004 four Blackwater contractors were gruesomely slain and hung from bridges in Fallujah, which prompted the battles in that city, twin gong shows that will one day be regarded as critical in America’s downward imperial trajectory. The moment that proved Blackwater’s tipping point, however, was the shooting of 17 citizens of Baghdad in September 2007, while the company’s guards were escorting US state department officials to a meeting. Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq was revoked. The name was changed to the inscrutable Xe Services, and a dark star was placed alongside Erik Prince’s name on the CIA’s list of dodgy no-bid contractors.

Prince has proved beyond a shadow of doubt what should have been perfectly obvious in the first place: Fed Ex and the contracting out of military services have slightly different moral implications. And very different outcomes. That’s not to say the process has stopped. Far from it. Indeed, mercenary armies are as old as the art of war. And in the deserts of the United Arab Emirates, where paranoid oil sheikhs stare out into the Persian Gulf and see an encroaching, metastasizing Iranian menace, Erik Prince has come to embody a solution. His new employers are not squeamish. They do not have to answer to their polity. They want a blue chip army to go with their new Louvre museum and their flagship Louis Vuitton megastore, and they want it now.

So, on a sweltering night last November, tens of Colombian soldiers set down in a new facility built nearby the oilopolis of Abu Dhabi, juiced by $529 million in funding. The barracks keeps prying eyes out and the soldiers in. They train, entirely sheltered from the rest of the population, and have a very specific mandate: Answer only to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, owner—sorry!—crown prince of the UAE. The al-Nahyans are, of course, terrified of Iran, and not necessarily in the conventional sense of the term. Iranian proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah have proved remarkably resilient in other parts of the Middle East. Hezbollah is by any measure the most successful proxy army in the region, having been painstakingly built by Iranian support over the course of the past three decades. The sheikhs are nervous of the destabilising threat posed by Iranian (read: Shiite) interests in the emirates.

They are no less afraid of the tens of thousands of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and others being radicalised in the cheap labour camps that have powered the region’s growth for so long. When push comes to shove, the al-Nahyan will need a private force to fire upon those skinny, underfed men and put down any nascent rebellions that flare up. (The rancid fruits of economic exploitation and ideological differences have overthrown a couple of regimes of late, have they not?) The al-Nahyans aren’t looking for a repeat performance. Only about 10% of the emirates’ population is indigenous – almost all the labour in the region, skilled and unskilled, is performed by foreigners. That is a brewing desert dust storm the sheikhs are looking to quell.

Prince’s “new model army” will eventually be 800 strong, has a strict “no Muslim” hiring policy, and is meant as a stopgap for a conventional military viewed as woefully inadequate. Unsurprisingly, a breakdown of nationalities is not publicly advertised, but it is thought many of Prince’s troops are South African military veterans, which doesn’t bode well for the emirates enemies, whoever they turn out to be. Our local mercenary class is notoriously trigger-happy, and certainly not averse to a little shoot-up every now and again. We should be proud.

That said, this caper might not be strictly legal, at least from the US state department’s point of view. Last year, Xe Services paid more than $42 million in fines for training foreign troops in Jordan and elsewhere—such activity is “verboten” without a licence. No one is entirely sure whether this army has any tacit state department or CIA backing, but it stands to reason the US administration is only too happy to see the Emirati sheikhs shelling out for stability. Trouble-free oil is a dwindling commodity these days. Abu Dhabi drills some of the last of it.

Erik Prince, and his new company Reflex Responses, will see billions of dollars in contracts when all is said and done. The emirates will cough up more and more to ensure their pipelines and cyber-networks are secure, and Prince’s own expanding desert empire will be there in the breach. Which suggests an intriguing possibility: Prince could one day turn on his employers, shoot up their palaces, and stand astride their glittering towers as lord of all he surveys. And a South African mercenary with a pencil moustache could run the Emirati justice ministry, conjuring up memories of a regime we assumed was long dead. Stranger things have happened. One hopes, for the al-Nayhan’s sake, they have a good contract in place, and a new New Model Army to counter their New Model Army. Erik Prince might turn out to be their most dangerous high-end acquisition. DM

  • Thu, May 19, 2011 - 07:54pm



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    Safe food? Frac it.

Dick Cheney – evil incarnate


“A year later, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act with a “Halliburton loophole,” a clause inserted at the request of Dick Cheney, who had been Halliburton’s CEO before becoming vice president. The loophole specifically exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the CLEAR Act, and from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, and it unleashed the largest and most extensive drilling program in history, according to Josh Fox, the creator of the film Gasland.”

  • Fri, May 20, 2011 - 05:59am



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    MarkM wrote:Dick Cheney –


Dick Cheney – evil incarnate


“A year later, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act with a “Halliburton loophole,” a clause inserted at the request of Dick Cheney, who had been Halliburton’s CEO before becoming vice president. The loophole specifically exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the CLEAR Act, and from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, and it unleashed the largest and most extensive drilling program in history, according to Josh Fox, the creator of the film Gasland.”


I read that article and have come to believe that the supposed terrorists(fabricated or otherwise created by our own foreign policy), whom we spend trillions to chase down overseas, pale in comparison to those we have right here at home, i.e. those who use the government as an instrument to circumvent laws, meant to protect the public health and the environment, in order to enrich themselves. The U.S. is the epitome of crony capitalism (the wolf) in sheep’s clothing.

“For sustainable agriculture, fracking is a disaster,” says Jaffe. The gas rush started in the South and West, but has spread to the East and now affects 34 states. Under much of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York lies a 400-million-year-old geographic formation called the Marcellus Shale. Although estimates vary, the shale may hold 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, enough to meet New York State’s needs for 50 years. To see what fracking can do to food production, Jaffe has only to look at what has happened to some of his colleagues in nearby Pennsylvania, where the first fracked well came into production in 2005, and where there are now there are now more than 1,500.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cattle belonging to Don and Carol Johnson, who farm about 175 miles southwest of Jaffe. The animals had come into wastewater that leaked from a nearby well that showed concentrations of chlorine, barium, magnesium, potassium, and radioactive strontium. In Louisiana, 16 cows that drank fluid from a fracked well began bellowing, foaming and bleeding at the mouth, then dropped dead. Homeowners near fracked sites complain about a host of frightening consequences, from poisoned wells to sickened pets to debilitating illnesses.

The Marcellus Shale itself contains ethane, propane, and butane, arsenic, cobalt, lead, chromium—toxins all. Uranium, radium, and radon make the shale so radioactive that companies sometimes drop Geiger counters into wells to determine whether they have reached the gas-rich deposits. But those compounds are almost benign compared to the fracking fluids that drillers inject into the wells. At least 596 chemicals are used in fracking, but the companies are not required by law to divulge the ingredients, which are considered trade secrets. According to a report prepared for the Ground Water Protection Council, a national association of state agencies charged with protecting the water supply, a typical recipe might include hydrochloric acid (which can damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines), glutaraldehyde (normally used to sterilize medical equipment and linked to asthma, breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation, and skin rashes), N,N-dimethyl formamide (a solvent that can cause birth defects and cancer), ethylene glycol (a lethal toxin), and benzene (a potent carcinogen). Some of these chemicals stay in the ground. Others are vented into the air. Many enter the water table or leach into ponds, streams, and rivers.

For the most part, state and federal governments have turned a blind eye to the problems brought about by fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that it has no jurisdiction to investigate matters related to food production, a contention disputed by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who wrote a report urging the EPA to study all issues associated with fracking. A concerned farmer who prefers not to be identified forwarded me an email written to him by Jim Riviere, the director of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, a group of animal science professors that tracks incidents of chemical contamination in livestock. Riviere wrote that his group receives up to 10 requests per day from veterinarians dealing with exposures to contaminants, including the byproducts of fracking. Nonetheless, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has slashed funding to his group. “We are told by the newly reorganized USDA that chemical contamination is not their priority,” Riviere wrote.

“The dangers of fracking to the food supply are not something that’s been investigated very much,” said Emily Wurgh of Food and Water Watch, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C. “We have been trying to get members of Congress to request studies into effects of fracking on agriculture, but we haven’t gotten much traction.”

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