Archive for January, 2011

Sick Gulf Residents Beg Officials for Help

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Inter Press Service

By Dahr Jamail 


Cherri Foytlin, co-founder of Gulf Change, at a rally at the state capital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 2010. (Credit: Erika Blumenfeld)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Jan 14, 2011 (IPS) – In an emotionally charged meeting this week sponsored by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, fishermen, Gulf residents and community leaders vented their increasingly grave concerns about the widespread health issues brought on by the three-month-long disaster.

“Today I’m talking to you about my life,” Cherri Foytlin told the two commissioners present at the Jan. 12 meeting. “My ethylbenzene levels are 2.5 times the 95th percentile, and there’s a very good chance now that I won’t get to see my grandbabies…What I’m asking you to do now, if possible, is to amend [your report]. Because we have got to get some health care.”

Ethylbenzene is a form of benzene present in the body when it begins to break down. It is also present in BP’s crude oil.

“I have seen small children with lesions all over their bodies,” Foytlin, co-founder of Gulf Change, a community organisation based in Grand Isle, Louisiana, continued.

“We are very, very ill. And dead is dead. So it really doesn’t matter if the media comes back… or the president hears us, or… if the oil workers and the fishermen and the crabbers get to feed their babies and maybe have a good Christmas next year… Dead is dead…I know your job is probably already done, but I’d like to hire you if you don’t mind. And God knows I can’t pay you. But I need your heart. And I need your voice.”


Toxic Symptoms

Many of the chemicals present in the oil and dispersants are known to cause the following health problems:

Headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal functions, irritation of the digestive tract, lung damage, burning pain in the nose and throat, coughing, pulmonary edema, cancer, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty breathing, delayed reaction time, memory difficulties, stomach discomfort, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness, tiredness/lethargy, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, and hematological disorders.

Commissioner Frances Beinecke, president of the National Resources Defence Council, vowed to convey her concerns to the White House.

“We hear what you are saying,” said Beinecke. “We will take these health issues and concerns back to the president.”

The commission, appointed by President Barack Obama, released its final report this week after a six-month investigation into the nation’s worst-ever oil disaster.

The report recommended a massive overhaul of the oil industry’s failed safety practices in the Gulf, as well as the creation of a new independent agency to monitor offshore drilling activity.

However, most of the 250 people at the meeting here focused on the health crisis that has exploded in the wake of the April 2010 disaster, leaving former BP clean-up workers and Gulf residents alike suffering from ailments they attribute to chemicals in BP’s oil and the toxic dispersants used to sink it.

Dr. Rodney Soto, a medical doctor in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has been testing and treating patients with high levels of oil-related chemicals in their bloodstream.

These are commonly referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Anthropogenic VOCs from BP’s oil disaster are toxic and have negative chronic health effects.

Dr. Soto is finding disconcertingly consistent and high levels of toxic chemicals in every one of the patients he is testing.

“I’m regularly finding between five and seven VOCs in my patients,” Dr. Soto told IPS. “These patients include people not directly involved in the oil clean-up, as well as residents that do not live right on the coast. These are clearly related to the oil disaster.”

Nevertheless, U.S. government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with President Obama himself, have declared the Gulf of Mexico, its waters, beaches, and seafood, safe and open to the public.

Gulf residents at the meeting on Wednesday made sure the two commissioners were aware of the health crisis they are facing.

Tom Costanza of Catholic Charities in the New Orleans area stated that the region is in the middle of a social service crisis and faced a claims process he said is fraught with problems.

“People call me crying and dying,” he said. “They need medical attention and support to get through this.”

Ada McMahon works with Bridge the Gulf Project, a citizen journalism website that highlights stories from Gulf Coast communities about justice and sustainability. She told IPS that “the unmet health issues are the biggest issue, along with residents turned advocates going to meetings of the commission or with [BP oil spill fund administrator Kenneth] Feinberg to tell people about their health problems.”

“People who can afford the 300-dollar blood tests have found alarming rates of chemicals in their bodies, and these people are concerned and doing what they can to speak out,” she said. “But they feel they can’t wait for Congress or Obama to address this, because they need doctors and support now in the communities.”

LaTosha Brown, director of the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, which works with 250 community groups, agreed that “the key concern expressed by the community in response to the report is the overwhelming need for access to health care.”

“Over and over, people exposed to crude and dispersants from the drilling disaster told stories of serious health issues – from high levels of ethylbenzyne in their blood, to respiratory ailments and internal bleeding – and expressed an urgent need for access to doctors who have experience treating chemical exposure,” she said.

Stephen Bradberry, executive director of the Alliance Institute, a non-profit that provides community organising support in the Gulf South, worries that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is not accepting health claims, thus leaving sick residents unable to work and without any income to pay their medical bills.

“There is bruising and skin lesions, not just with clean-up workers, these are residents not involved in the clean-up,” Bradberry told IPS. “Just yesterday I learned of five people on Grand Isle who passed away…people who did not have health problems prior to this. Nevertheless, there has not been any talk of monitoring of these communities.”

Bradberry, who also attended the forum on Wednesday, also said, “We need a separate health task force that can focus solely on testing, monitoring, and studying the long-term health issues from exposure to crude and dispersants. And this needs to happen now.”

** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **

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In The Future You May Not Be Able To Provide The Basics For Your Family Even If Everyone In Your Family Has A Job

January 7, 2011 1 comment

Today, millions of American families are extremely stressed out because they are working as hard as they can and yet they find at the end of the month they still haven’t been able to pay all of the bills.  Unfortunately, things are only going to get rougher in the years ahead.  The U.S. government has reached a terminal phase of the debt spiral that it is trapped in, and the only way to keep the system going is to print more money, borrow more money and spend more money.  But won’t this cause horrible inflation eventually?  Of course it will.  That is why so many people around the world have so loudly denounced “quantitative easing 2″.  The Federal Reserve is just creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and is chucking all of this money into the system in a desperate attempt to get it moving again.  This is also why the Tea Party movement is so angry about the record amounts of government debt that are being piled up.  When the U.S. government goes into more debt, it creates more dollars.  As the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government flood the system with new dollars, it means that there are now more dollars chasing roughly the same number of goods and services, and that is a recipe for inflation.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to look at it), most of this new money is trapped in the financial markets right now.  The first people that get their hands on all of this new money are banks, financial institutions and the folks down on Wall Street and right now they are hoarding much of it and much of it is going to pump up the stock market.

That is one reason why we saw such a tremendous bubble in commodities in 2010.  It is also a key reason why we have seen such a stock market “recovery”.

But eventually all of this new money is going to get into the hands of average U.S. consumers and it is going to start pushing the price of everything up.

Ronald Reagan once said that inflation is “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.”  Ron Paul has called inflation a “hidden tax” on all of us, and that is exactly what it is.  All of the paper money that we are storing in the banks is losing a little bit of value every single day.  Over long periods of time, this loss of value becomes absolutely massive.  For example, did you know that the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913?

Unfortunately, as the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government continue to flood the system with new dollars in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy, inflation is only going to get worse and worse and worse.

So enjoy the relatively tame inflation that we are enjoying for now.  The official U.S. government inflation rate has been hovering around 1 percent or so, but everyone knows that the official inflation rate is an absolute joke.  The government pulls different categories in and out of the inflation rate almost at will in an attempt to keep the numbers low.

One recent study that analyzed price movement of 86 products in Wal-Mart stores found that the “real” rate of inflation was approximately twice the “official” rate reported by the U.S. government.

Others are convinced that the official rate of inflation is even higher than that.  For example, John Williams of has closely studied inflation in the U.S. and he believes that it is currently hovering somewhere around 5 percent.

However, John Williams does not believe that inflation is going to stay at 5 percent for much longer.  He recently released a “Hyperinflation Special Report” for 2010 that everyone needs to read.  Personally, I do not agree with all of his conclusions and I do not believe that things are going to happen quite as quickly as he is projecting, but his overall analysis is sound.

The truth is that our financial system has now reached a terminal phase.  Just look at the chart below.  Really look at it.  How can any financial system survive debt that is rising this fast?  The printing and borrowing of money continues to spiral out of control with no end in sight.  It is hard to imagine any scenario in which we can even achieve a “soft landing”.  One way or another, this exploding debt is going to take us down…..

In The Future You May Not Be Able To Provide The Basics For Your Family Even If Everyone In Your Family Has A Job US National Debt Chart 2010

So are the politicians sorry that they have saddled us with all of this debt?

Well, just the other day Nancy Pelosi was directly asked this question and the following was her response….

“No, we have no regrets.”

In fact there are quite a few politicians running around in Washington D.C. that are still convinced “that deficits don’t matter” and that all this debt will never catch up with us.

Well, hold on to your hats, because this is going to be the decade when all of this debt really does start to catch up with us.

One of the ways that we are going to feel the pain is through inflation.

In the months and years ahead, wages will remain relatively stable and government entitlement payments will not increase much while prices for the basic things that American families need go through the roof.

Already we are starting to see some troubling signs of inflation.  In 2010, the price of almost every major agricultural commodity you can name shot up dramatically.  We are starting to see these price increases filter into the supermarket.  Some companies are trying to hide these price increases by shrinking package sizes.

Have you noticed this yet?  Have any of the packages that you buy regularly seemed to shrink in recent months?

Sadly, it looks like food prices are headed even higher.  According to a recent report by Reuters, world food prices hit an all-time record high in December….

World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.

So what are you and your family going to do if a worldwide food shortage pushes food prices up significantly?

Another place where American families are really going to start feeling the pain is at the gas pump.

Do you remember back in October when I warned you that 100 dollar oil is coming?

Well, the price of Brent crude reached 95 dollars a barrel for the first time in almost two years on Monday.

Unfortunately, there are many who now believe that the price of oil is going to go a lot higher than that.

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, believes that American consumers will likely be paying 5 dollars for a gallon of gas by the time 2012 rolls around.

So is your employer going to be paying you much more to keep up with rising gas prices?

Of course not.

And you know what?

When the price of oil rises, it affects the price of almost everything else in the stores, because nearly everything has to be transported in one way or another.

So why is the price of oil going up so much?  Well, of course there are speculators and of course the price of oil is highly manipulated, but one of the big reasons why oil is going up is because the U.S. dollar is losing value.

The cost of other basics is going up as well.  Have your health insurance premiums gone up lately?  All over the country, horrific health insurance premium increases are being reported.

Quite a few of the readers of this column have stated that they simply cannot afford health insurance anymore and so they are now doing without it.  There are millions of Americans that refuse to go to a hospital because there is no way they can pay for health insurance and there is no way they can pay the ridiculous fees charged by our hospitals today.

Sadly, in the months and years to come millions more working American families will be pushed into poverty-like conditions by rising inflation.

Already we are seeing huge numbers of American families that are working as hard as they can not being able to afford the basics.

A year-end survey conducted by Pew Research found the following….

*51% of Americans say that it is difficult to afford health care.

*48% of Americans say that it is difficult to pay their home heating and electric bills.

*29% of Americans say that it is difficult to afford food.

Those numbers should be quite sobering for us all – especially considering the fact that jobs are becoming very difficult to get.

According to the same Pew Research study, a staggering 46 percent of all Americans say that someone in their household has been without a job and looking for work at some point during the past year.

It can be really depressing to search for a decent job month after month after month when there doesn’t seem to be any out there.

The truth is that there are 7 million less middle class jobs in America today than there were just a decade ago.

So if even one person if your family has a decent job you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.

But sadly even families where everyone is working are going to continue to be stretched further and further financially as rapidly increasing inflation steals our purchasing power a little bit more every single day.

The “good times” are rapidly coming to an end.  The greatest debt-fueled party in the history of the world is wrapping up and you should enjoy it while you still can, because the years ahead are just going to be brutal.


Categories: Business/Markets

Slovak Republic: Trends In The Support Of Renewable Energy In Slovakia: Biomass Currently Favoured

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

04 January 2011
Article by Ian Parker and Jana Tögelová

Following the introduction of a new Renewable Energy Act in September 2009, the Slovak renewable energy sources (“RES”) sector has seen some abrupt changes, including in government policy. As a result there has been an unprecedented increase in interest in building new solar and wind power plants. However government policy seems now to be shifting from solar and wind power towards power produced from biomass.

The Slovak transmission grid operator (“SEPS”) and the regional distribution grid operators have introduced significant restrictions on solar and wind power production. At the moment, it is impossible to acquire SEPS’s or distribution companies´ affirmative statement to new solar or wind power projects. It should be noted that such an affirmative statement is necessary to build a new solar or wind power plant in Slovakia.

Some legislative changes have just now been prepared, which, if passed into law, will soon slow down development in the solar and wind power sector. Currently, a new draft law has been passed by parliament and, if the Slovak President signs it and it becomes law, will have effect as from 1 April 2011. The draft states, that:

(i)    the “additional payment” (the Slovak form of feed-in tariff) will only be provided as a form of support for solar power if the relevant power plants are located on buildings and have a total output of no more than 100 kW;
(ii)    electricity prices for solar power will be determined by the Slovak Regulation Office for Network Industries (RONI) in such a way that the provision under the previous law by which the price for each subsequent period, which shall not exceed three years, must not be lower than 90% of the price applicable in the previous period, will not apply to solar and wind production facilities; in practice it would mean that the electricity price for solar and wind plants determined by RONI may vary by more than 10% for each particular regulatory period; and
(iii)    responsibility for divergence between anticipated output and actual output  will be born by the operator of any solar plant with a total output more than 100 kW (currently it is born by the regional distribution grid operator).

Under the new draft law RONI is not obliged to fix prices for solar and wind power in such a way that return on investment would be expected within a certain period.

It is clear that currently it is more reasonable for investors to opt for investments in RES other than sun or wind power, e.g. biomass.

On 6.10.2010, the Slovak government adopted a National Action Plan for energy produced from RES. Under the action plan Slovakia is bound to increase its use of renewable energy resources in relation to the gross final energy consumption from 6.7% in 2005 to 14% in 2020.

The plan also provides that energy from biomass should be given preference. According to the opinion of the Slovak government, biomass can be an efficient substitute for energy produced from fossil fuel and can contribute to a reduction in the amount of natural gas used in heat production.

The promotional measures for electricity produced from biomass vary depending on the type of renewable resource and the capacity of the production plant. In general, power plants with lower installed output are promoted more than large facilities.

The Renewable Energy Act stipulates that producers of electricity from biomass have:

(i)    the right to priority connection of the facility used for electricity production into the regional distribution grid, if the power plant meets relevant technical requirements and the grid operator’s business terms and conditions have been accepted.

(ii)    the right to priority access to the transmission and distribution grids, and to offtake of electricity. Priority access to the transmission/distribution grid involves grid operators being required to reserve some capacity and to distribute the agreed volume of electricity via the relevant grid.

(iii)    the right to sell electricity for the “electricity price on loss”. The electricity producer has the right to have all the electricity it produces purchased by the regional distribution grid operator, to which the facility of the electricity producer is connected directly or through the local distribution system, and that for the electricity price on loss. The “price on loss” is the arithmetical mean of the electricity prices paid by all regional distribution grid operators for the purpose of covering losses, and is determined by RONI.

(iv)    the right to “additional payment”. The electricity producer has the right to an additional payment to be paid by the regional distribution grid operator, which corresponds to the difference between the regulated price of electricity for the determination of the additional payment determined by RONI and the electricity price on loss determined by RONI. Effectively, the additional payment is determined by RONI.

(v)    the right to have the liability for divergence taken over by the regional distribution grid operator in case of facilities with the total output up to 4 MW; if the draft law referred to above becomes law, then from 1 April 2011 this right will only apply to the facilities with the total output up to 1 MW.

The price of electricity produced from biomass is regulated by RONI by way of a generally binding decree and is provided as a fixed price. The 2010 price of electricity (that includes the additional payment and the price of electricity for loses) produced from biomass was determined by RONI as follows:

Electricity produced from:
1) combined cycle combustion (i) of purposefully created biomass (113.10 EUR/MWh) (ii) other waste biomass (127.98 EUR/MWh),
2) combined cycle combustion of biomass or biologically degradable components jointly with combustion of waste with fossil fuel (126.14 EUR/MWh),
3) combustion of fermented biomass (144.88 EUR/MWh)

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna’s free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 23/12/2010.

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Categories: Environment

Canada: NEB Approves Mackenzie Valley Pipeline

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

On December 16, 2010, the National Energy Board (NEB) approved the application for the construction and operation of the Mackenzie Gas Project. The Project includes the 1,196 kilometer Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, three onshore natural gas fields and a 457 kilometer pipeline to carry natural gas liquids from near the coast of the Beaufort Sea to northwestern Alberta and onwards to southern markets. The NEB attached 264 conditions to the Project’s approval in areas such as engineering, safety and environmental protection. The NEB will monitor the Project throughout its lifespan to ensure these conditions are being met.

The NEB began hearing evidence in January 2006 on five applications filed by a number of parties, including lead partner Imperial Oil. The Board held over 58 days of hearing sessions in 15 communities throughout the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta.

To move forward, the NEB’s decision must now be approved by the Federal Cabinet. If the Project is approved, construction is expected to begin in 2014 and the pipeline is scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2018. If the Project proceeds, it will be the largest pipeline system to be constructed and operated in Canada’s north.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.


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Categories: Uncategorized

Former Bush aide found dead in Delaware landfill

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Monday 3rd January, 2011

Monday 3rd January, 2011 Source: New York Post

A man who fought to get the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built and served in two Bush administrations was found dead in a Delaware landfill.John P. Wheeler III’s death has been ruled a homicide by Newark, Del., police and they are asking the public for leads in the case.Wheeler’s body was found in Wilmington on Friday after a disposal truck containing his body made pickups in Newark.Wheeler lived in New Castle and he was chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund during the Ronald Reagan era. He also held many high-profile government positions after graduating from West Point in 1966. To read more,

Read the full story at New York Post



Categories: US News

Some Obamacare Taxes Kick in On January 1, 2011

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Obama taxes transfer $2.5 B from drug research to govt coffers.
Some say be recouped thru higher prices, if the govt allows it.
Nurse midwives get 50% increase in pay to match physician pay.

How can these taxes be constitutional when Obamacare did NOT originate in the House? DOESN’T IT MATER ANY MORE?

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills. Article I, Section 7, clause 1.

Note, it says “revenue”

See Definition 2.)

Is the Constitution the Supreme Law of the Land or not?

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Categories: Business/Markets, US News

Iran claims it shot down ‘Western spy planes’

January 2, 2011 1 comment

By the CNN Wire Staff
January 2, 2011 11:28 a.m. EST
  • The planes were described as spy drones
  • Iran says it has shot down many such planes before
  • There is no immediate reaction from U.S. officials

(CNN) — Iran said Sunday it had shot down what it described as two Western spy planes over the Persian Gulf, according to Iranian media reports.

Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, air force commander for Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, made the comments to Payam Engelab, or Message of the Revolution, an internal Islamic Revolution Guard Corps publication, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

He described the aircraft as a spy drone “which can take pictures,” according to state-run Press TV, which cited Fars. However, he did not say when the incident occurred or give more specifics.

There was no immediate reaction from U.S. officials to the reports.

Western forces have made limited aggressions against Iran, he said, and “we have, thus far, shot down a large number of their highly advanced spy planes … two of these planes have been shot down in the Persian Gulf.” He said previous incidents have not been disclosed to the media, “and this is the first time that we reveal this news,” according to Fars.

After shooting down the planes, the Revolution Guard Corps copied and produced them in large numbers through reverse engineering, Fars said.

The news agency reported that it was the second time Iran announced it had shot down Western aircraft. In January 2007, an Iranian lawmaker told Fars a U.S. spy plane was shot down by the Iranian military. Syed Nezam Mola Hoveizeh told Fars at the time the aircraft was a spy drone, and that “Americans send such spy drones to the region every now and then.”

In May 2010, Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, commander of the Iranian army, said that Iran’s air defense units chased away a U.S. military reconnaissance plane, Fars said.


Categories: Middle East