Archive for energy

Blood, Sweat and Tears

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BST

Blood, Sweat and Tears is the theme for today's show. Not the band, but the reality that those are the main components of life in the US of A in the 21st Century. Too much blood, too many dead or maimed soldiers and civilians thanks to our military incursions, misplaced ire and weapons of mass destruction. Our labor woes since the Bush depression, with a recovery made up of jobs at half the salaries we had before the meltdown, and the vilification of the labor movement that brought about workplace safety,  a 5-day/40-hour work week, vacation time, sick leave and other worker protections.

And tears. And more tears. And more to come, brought on by it all.

I don't see it getting any better, and don't see Hillary Clinton -or anyone at all from the other side - as the answer to our problems. But I do think we've shed way too much blood in unjust wars, have screwed over our working class and cried too many tears. It would be nice to see some positive change for a change, but I'm afraid we're a long way away from good times again.

Maybe if we could all just get along and live in peace.

On second thought, that'll never happen. Just look at their facial expressions when they sing the line, "we shall live in peace" during the most awkward singalong ever.

This morning, Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined in to talk a bit about yesterday's primary elections in NY where it looks like Charlie Rangel will hold on to his House seat (47.4-43.6), and the runoff in Mississippi which saw Sen. Thad Cochran barely beating off the upstart teabagger Chris McDaniels 51-49.

We also talked about today's three Supreme Court decisions- one that unanimously found that law enforcement must obtain warrants before searching cell phones (opinion posted here), another ruling against Aereo, a new company that rebroadcast over-the-air TV signals online - or did until now (opinion posted here)! And a third (known as Fifth Third) having to do with pensions and funds that I don't understand at all, but the opinion is posted here.

We're still awaiting decisions on NLRB v. Noel Canning (recess appointments), McCullen v. Coakley (abortion clinic buffer zones),  Harris v. Quinn (public employee unions) and Hobby Lobby (contraception mandate), which will come down tomorrow morning at 10ET. If they don't announce all the decisions tomorrow, they'll come back to finish up on Monday June 30. Talk about suspense!

In the second hour of the show, I was thrilled to welcome investigative journalist and author Dahr Jamail back to the show. When I spoke with Dahr in the past, it was to discuss our wars in Middle East, as Dahr spent more than a year in Iraq as one of a very small group of independent, UNembedded journalists covering the war. I obviously wanted his take on the mess over there now.

Lately, he's been focusing his work on climate change or, as he calls it, anthropogenic climate disruption. Obviously, both issues are closely related. I urge you to read Dahr's work on both topics, either at his own site DahrJamail.net or over at Truthout.org.  We'll definitely talk again soon because our time together today went by way too quickly!

Tomorrow, well deal with whatever the Supreme Court throws at us at the start of the show, hear some fabulous female facts from Amy Simon and the No More Bullshit Minute with Stephen Goldstein too!

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Where's The Windfall For The US With The Keystone XL Pipeline?

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Keystone XL Map

Keystone XL Map

There's so much talk about the Keystone pipeline -- should it be built from our northern border, dissecting the country in half like the Mississippi River?

Well, that's a long route and any pipeline carrying any product has certain risks. The largest being the spills. But it also means jobs in the short run - a few years. And the number of workers being employed are generally in the construction and oil business. But how many jobs? That's hard to say. The 1,700-mile Keystone XL is estimated to employ somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000 people according to Politifact. They also say the actual number might be half of that, or even less.

But how many people will be potentially affected by a possible spill of this dirtiest of crude? Millions. So do a little math, actually very little, and you'll see that there's high risk and not so great a reward.

Okay, let's assume it gets built and then the flow of this dirty liquid goes off without a hitch. Just think of all the crude that we'll be refining and having for our own use.

SCREECH.

Our own use? Un-uh. It's not for consumption in the US. It's for exportation. And the receipts for those sales doesn't go to the US market. Oh, no. It goes to Canada, the "owners" of the dirty raw crude. We're just the risk-taking conduit.

We are NOT GUARANTEED a single drop of that US refined oil. Not one. We can be the highest bidder and keep the fuel here, but we face competition from all over the world.

So we get to take the risk, we do get to spike a bit of employment -- but 20,000 jobs doesn't seem to be a huge comfort compared to the millions looking for work. It's better than nothing -- if you don't take into consideration that oil pipelines leak all the time. We're facing the disaster of all times if we're not lucky. And for what? For Canada to reap the profits for a drop in the bucket for us?

Truth is we're already showing an abundance of fuel here in this country. So much so that we're growing the exports of our domestic fuel every year. That means we producing more than we're selling here in the states. CNN Money Reports:

In 2008 the country exported 1.8 million barrels a day of refined products, according to EIA. By 2012 that number jumped to 3.2 million barrels.

Does it make sense to put our country at risk over the dirtiest oil we can find when we're refining enough of it here to have excess and making a profit selling it. Do we really need to build a pipeline when we have roads that are falling apart, bridges crumbling and airports that are referred to as "third world" quality? Wouldn't we make more money here with an improved infrastructure which wouldn't add nearly the risks of the dirty oil flowing dissecting our county? It used to be we lived east or west of the Mississippi. Soon it could be do you live east or west of the Keystone oil disaster.

leaky oil pipeline

The pipeline might be worth it -- but to Canada, not us. We shoulder the risk and they take all the profit. The honchos there say they're going to continue to frack and pull up their dirty shale oil. Good for them. They have ports on both of their coasts. If they need to refine their dirty oil, let them build refineries and pollute their air, not ours. Maybe they'll even hire some Americans to go up north and help them learn how refineries work.

Let Canada build their own pipelines to them and use tankers like everyone else. Why do we have to take the risk of catastrophe for a temporary, two year building gain? After it's done, we'll have an eternity of potential danger to humans, wildlife and our native lands. And for nothing but Canadians making profits.

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Video- President's Weekly Address: Taking Control of America's Energy Future

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"JPMorgan's manipulation of energy markets is nothing short of criminal." Yet nobody's going to prison.

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big banks lock them up

I recently posted JPMorgan manipulated CA’s energy market to great profit, lied about it. Penalty? Chump change (1 day’s revenue).  Please link over, because Michael Hiltzik's take is worth a read.

With that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Energy market rigging case is settled," and "Bank's penalty? Chump change," Column, July 31

Why do we so seldom hear about any of these hundreds of guilty market manipulators — all cherished employees of large corporations — going to prison? They never admit any wrongdoing, and seldom do we see their heads bowed to express shame as destroyers of America's social contract.

Michael Hiltzik reminds us that a $421-million fine is pocket change to JPMorgan Chase & Co. against total annual net revenue of $97 billion. No wonder its spokesman is "pleased to put this matter behind us."

Contrary to what federal regulators say, this ridiculous slap on the wrist will never be a strong deterrent to continuing big-money corruption. Nor will it result in any "material impact" on the secretive culture of yet another Wall Street giant that exalts profit over morality — at the expense of the rest of us.

June Maguire

Mission Viejo

***

JPMorgan's manipulation of energy markets is nothing short of criminal.

The fact that no one will go to prison for this crime, and that the manipulators see fines as the cost of doing business, reminds me of my childhood in San Francisco, where the bookies to whom I sold newspapers told me they weren't worried about being arrested for illegal gambling; they just paid the fine and came back the next day, where they cooked the books once more — or paid off the arresting officer.

That area of San Francisco was called the Tenderloin District. It seems we have our own Tenderloin, but on a national level — it's called "investment banking."

Patrick O'Brien

San Juan Capistrano

***

I think of myself as an informed citizen. After 68 years of life, I am starting to think "the fix is in."

Major corporations — contributors to both parties — write the rules for their benefit. Politicians are now professionals, not citizens doing their civic duty like our founders envisioned.

As Will Rogers said, we have the best politicians money can buy.

Ed Sinderman

Porter Ranch

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JPMorgan manipulated CA's energy market to great profit, lied about it. Penalty? Chump change (1 day's revenue)

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inexcusable

Michael Hiltzik nailed it again. His column in today's Los Angeles Times pointed out what TV news shows fail to mention: Once again, Corporate America skates and the little guy can't do a thing about it. Or as I like to call it, injustice.

JPMorgan Chase was fined $410-million for manipulating energy markets in California and the Midwest. Period. That's it. No arrests, not a seriously "historic" penalty, no deterrent to speak of, just a measly few hundred million for ripping us off. Seems like a lot to the rest of us, right? But to them? Pfft.

Hiltzik:

It's chicken feed. A pittance.

It will have no more deterrent effect on white-collar wrongdoing at JPMorgan or anywhere else than telling its traders they've got to take the Ferrari to work instead of the Lamborghini, though they can still take the Lambo to the beach house. Our top regulators actually think they've gotten the better of a huge illegal enterprise, which is a good sign that they're delusional. They didn't even get Morgan to admit that it had done anything wrong.

Look at the numbers. Of the $410 million, $125 million represents the disgorgement of illicit profits from Morgan's scheme — money the bank wouldn't have collected at all if it operated within the law. (The sum is supposed to be returned to ratepayers.) So that doesn't count. The real punishment is the balance of $285 million. How badly will that hurt JPMorgan Chase? Well, the big bank collected $97 billion in net revenue last year, so it represents a little more than a single day of intake... [T]here's no indication that these individuals will suffer any consequences for this rip-off. They're not the ones paying the penalties; Morgan's shareholders are. [...]

As the FERC documents make clear, Morgan was worse than Enron — because despite the lessons of Enron, it engaged in this manipulative behavior anyway.

But just when I thought Hiltzik's analysis couldn't possibly get me any angrier, he added this at the end:

The only remedy is to take the market out of the electricity business, returning to the regulated utility model that served American ratepayers for decades. The markets clearly don't work to consumers' benefit, because the regulators can't handle the task of staying ahead of the gamers.

The question is, do they even want to regulate? FERC Commissioner Clark praised Tuesday's settlement ... [and] pointed out that by settling, the government closes the case "without expending further resources."

Is that what we pay our regulators for — justice on the cheap? JPMorgan's behavior was disgusting, but FERC's decision to let the bank get off for pennies on the dollar is inexcusable.

Please read the entire column, and please share it with FERC. They might learn something.

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Video- President's Weekly Address: Time to Create the Energy Security Trust

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Live Streaming Video- President Obama Speaks on American Energy 2:30p EST

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over

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