Monthly Archives: September 2016

Presidential Debates and How the Media is Ruining the Country

The first Presidential Debate was a few nights ago and unfortunately met expectations. Although the debate lasted an hour and a half, several key topics had no discussion time. Some undiscussed topics included poverty, climate change, immigration, and healthcare.

A recent Harvard study showed that on Mainstream outlets such as ABC, NBC, CNN, and Fox, policy discussion was nearly absent from the coverage. The horserace aspect of the election is what the mainstream media overwhelmingly covers. One major issue is poverty, and a 2013 report showed that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Something that big should receive coverage, but the media sees things through a different lens than the average American. The Mainstream Media is often referred to as the Corporate Media due to corporate ties, which influences their reporting. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated the industry, allowing several companies to merge. There used to be around 50 major media companies; Today, that number is at six.

The United States has a rigged debate system. Third-party candidates are rising in the polls, but it’s not enough. They need to reach at least 15 percent in at least five national polls to qualify for the debates. In August, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit allowing for third parties to participate in the Presidential debates. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Libertarian and Green parties respectively are the main third-party candidates.

One “dilemma” that moderators have is should they fact check the candidates? The answer is yes. The American people have the right to know what the candidates say is accurate or not. Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate a later debate, was interviewed by Howard Kurtz about his debate strategy. One of the questions that came up was about if a candidate says something that he knows to be false; he responded that his role is not to be a truth squad. The director of the Presidential Debate Commission also appears to agree with the strategy of not fact-checking. The media now has a “neutrality” bias, giving both sides of a particular issue equal say even though one side could be completely right and the other completely wrong.

This problem has risen over the years. In one of the 2012 Presidential debates, CNN moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked Mitt Romney on Benghazi. Republicans accuse the media of having a liberal bias, but that is false. The reason behind that claim is that corrupt corporations control the media.

The media continues to be a colossal failure because of their lack of policy substance horserace aspect of things dominates the coverage.

Dakota Access Pipeline: Facts and Why it is Dangerous

Over the past few months, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been under debate. In 2014, Energy Transfer Partners and Dakota Acess announced that they had been approved to build a pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. The cost of the pipeline is estimated to be around $3.8 billion. Several protests have occurred, led by the Dakota and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The proposed route would cut through their territory in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Where is the DAPL Route?

route
Source: Energy Transfer Partners(Who is developing the pipeline)

As you can see, it starts off in Northwestern North Dakota in the Bakken region, which is the home of the Dakota tribe. It will travel through four states; North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Estimates show that the pipeline can transport 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of oil per day should the pipeline go through. The state of North Dakota has produced over 1 million barrels of oil per day on average since April of 2014. Energy Transfer and Dakota Access claim that the pipeline is a safer method of transporting oil than from trucks and rails. A notable incident from transporting oil was the fairly recent one in Quebec in July of 2013.

 

Part 1: Basic Info

Proponents of the pipeline as well as the Keystone XL pipeline attempt to persuade people to join their side by claiming it lead will to energy independence. When asked on this, Energy Transfer Partners, were unable to give a clear answer. Reports show that the oil is likely to be exported. Lee Fang of The Intercept reports that Energy Transfers is primed to cash in on oil exports. In December, Congress lifted a 40-year ban on crude oil exports, as part of an omnibus bill. Look at the facts here: If there is no embargo on oil exports, then, of course, there will be oil exports. Do you think that Energy Transfers wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to export oil?

Also, oil is a non-renewable dirty source for energy. Even if this oil from North Dakota is even used for consumption, it is fueling the human activity led climate change.

During the construction process, Dakota Access and Energy Transfer Partners claim that the number of jobs created will be around 8,000-12,000. These construction jobs aren’t permanent, obviously. They also state that it could raise $50 million from property taxes and $74 million in state sales taxes across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. That is a positive, at the expense of the environment.

Part 2: Why is it incorrect?

The Dakota Access Pipeline is wrong for several reasons. The pipeline goes right through the Dakota and Sioux tribes who have vehemently opposed it along with countless other supporters. In fact, the United Nations supports the Dakota and Standing Rock Sioux tribes in opposing the pipeline.

Additionally, the pipeline could contaminate drinking water. Much of the Midwest receives its drinking water through the Missouri River, including the Sioux Tribe, which has been a major catalyst in this battle. Although under the fact sheet subsection titled “Construction and the Land” state that a minimum of 36 inches of soil must cover the pipeline, oil pipelines are prone to leaks. Studies show that fracking leads to contaminated water. People who deny this are denying the truth. We know that there is massive corruption here. Oil companies and notable proponents, including politicians, are definitely in it together. Many politicians take money from big oil companies, who in turn will do their bidding. The site Open Secrets tracks money in politics. Here is a list of major oil and gas companies who have given to politicians in the U.S. Congress. The oil industry is one of the world’s most profitable industries, and it shows in lobbying expenses alone. In each of the last eight years, oil and gas companies have spent over $100 million annually in lobbying expenses also according to Open Secrets.

To see Energy Transfer Partners Open Secrets profile, click here.

 

Image result for missouri river
Source: source.sdsu.edu

 

 

 

Here, we see the map of the Missouri River. There is a significant amount of overlapping, which means a lot of the pipeline will be below the Missouri, which solidifies the point of clean water risk with the pipeline.

Part 3: Violence Against Protestors:

Over the recent weeks, there have been an increasing amount of process. Last week, security officials and dogs were brought in and attacked several people. Also, pepper spray has been used on protestors as well. Here is a clip from the protests. These protestors are peacefully protesting, which is a fundamental right established in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Repeated violence against protestors is in clear violation of freedom of assembly. There haven’t been reports of protestors being violent, then came the attacks. This is happening because Energy Transfer Partners and Dakota Access despise these protests because it’s hindering construction and their profits.

Part 4: Funding:
The pipeline’s cost estimates to be around $3.8 billion dollars for the entire project. With this, several major financial institutions have been financing the project. Some include HSBC, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, UBS, JPMorganChase and Wells Fargo to name a few. It’s really no surprise that these institutions back these big name projects. The elite is all interconnected. Oil companies, banks, and other corporations all work together to keep the system as it is alive. The system as it is needs to stop

Part 5: Recent ruling and Executive Action

A federal judge recently ruled against halting the construction of the pipeline except in an area sacred to the Dakota tribe, but the Obama Administration stepped in to halt the DAPL’s construction temporarily. Even with this good news, there is still a lot of fight left to end the DAPL in its entirety.

Illegal American Aid to Israel Breakdown

07 September 2016

The United States and Israel are considered close allies. Israel is the strongest ally to America in the Middle East. With that, the U.S. has given Israel over $200 billion in aid over the past few decades. However, the aid is considered illegal under two long-standing American law. One is the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and the other is the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976(AECA). A new lawsuit, in fact, addresses this. 

Part 1: Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 Key Provisions and aid to Israel.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 focuses more on humanitarian aid.  Sections 101 and 102 of AECA state that nuclear nations who are non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) aren’t allowed to receive American aid of any form. Currently, the US gives Israel approximately $3.1 billion in aid per year, which is almost exclusively military aid. That number is expected to increase. A new proposal by the U.S. would give Israel $40 billion in aid over a period of a decade. For those living in the United States who are reading this, Israel has the population and size roughly similar to New Jersey.

There has been speculation on whether or not Israel is in possession of nuclear weapons. It is now a widely known fact that Israel has nuclear weapons. The bill’s introducer, Stuart Symington, proposed an amendment that would bend the rule under certain circumstances. This amended the Foreign Assistance Act.  New Observer Online and the lawsuit also addresses the Symington Amendment. It states that the U.S. could provide aid to violators of the law if within 30 days if he determines and certifies in writing to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate.

  1. The termination of such assistance would have a serious adverse effect on vital United States interest; and
  2. He has received reliable assurances that the country in question will not acquire or develop nuclear weapons or assist other nations in doing so.

 

Part 2: Israel’s Nuclear Program:

Around 1966, Israel began its nuclear program. Western powers including France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and of course the United States have helped them with jumpstarting it. It has also refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT), which all of the countries listed above were signatories to it. They are one of four nuclear-armed states not to sign the NPT, the other three being India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Much of this was kept secret until Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician who worked at the Dimona Negev reactor, but was opposed to Israel’s nuclear policy, leaked details of Israel’s nuclear program to the British press in 1986. Vanunu was eventually kidnapped and spent 18 years in prison. F-16 warheads, and ballistic missiles and neutron bombs were in Israel’s stockpile according to Vanunu. These missiles are still being produced and are collectively known as “Jericho” missiles. The most recent are the Jericho III, an intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM). The ICBM implies that it is a far-range missile which advances the Jericho I and Jericho II, which were short and medium-range missiles, respectively. Israel, as you know, most notably is occupying Palestine, and kills 80 percent civilians in bombing raids, such as a major one in Gaza. They have broke international laws several other times as well.

Part 3: The Lawsuit:

In early August,  Grant Smith, the director of Institute for Research: Middle East Policy(IRMEP) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District court of D.C. stating that it violated the AECA of 1976. Several members of the cabinet, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter,  Secretary of  Energy Ernest Moniz, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, Commerce Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker as well as President Barack Obama and CIA Director John Brennan have allegedly violated the Administrative Procedure Act(APA), and thus are being sued. In addition to the Symington amendment, the Glenn Amendment raises a concern. Then Senator John Glenn believed that the State of Israel was using weapons-grade uranium that was in possession of the United States government. IRMEP has created a briefing to dissect the key parts of the lawsuit.(Note: the video is long).

Part 4: What Will Happen?

Not much. Israel’s nuclear program doesn’t receive much attention, while the aid is just “standard” to shield itself from nations such as Iran. Additionally, the term “nuclear ambiguity” has been used by the United States concerning Israel’s nuclear program. Other programs such as North Korea’s and the potential of Iran’s see more coverage. This lawsuit hasn’t faced much press coverage, and the courts will likely see in the eye of the status quo.