Saturday: Of War, Fracking, and Fukushima

1236007_440158062767453_634535704_nHello newsjunkies.

Have you read Rosa Brooks’ “Obama Can’t Win in Foreign Policy magazine yet? If not, go read it now. Teaser:

Oddly, many in the media seem convinced that Obama’s pledge to seek congressional authorization for a Syria intervention was a clever gamble. It wasn’t. It was, to paraphrase Obama, a dumb gamble. That’s because there is now no good outcome for Obama, only a range of painfully ironic outcomes.

It’s an excellent read. Please take a moment to look it over.

Something interesting… note the title of the latest from FoPo’s David Rothkopf, “How the Loneliest Job in the World Got Even Lonelier,” (bylined “With his missteps on Syria, Obama has alienated just about everyone — friends and frenemies alike.”) Sounds a lot like Glen Ford’s bottom line over at Black Agenda Report… “Obama: As Warlike as Bush, and Just as Lonely.”

Cue The Onion:

Nation Throws Giant Temper Tantrum Upon Learning Syria Is Complex, Nuanced Issue

I have to tell you that what’s not helping sort any of this complexity or nuance is Kerry and Obama suddenly embracing action that will have the side effect of empowering the rebels…I can only take wild guesses as to what changed in the Administration’s assessment of the situation, because Assad gassing his own people doesn’t mean the rebels are suddenly the lesser evil. As the Onion points out in the news skit above, the Syria situation doesn’t fit neatly into a narrative of “the good guys” and “the bad guys.”

Along those lines, here is the first installment of Reader Supported News’ three part series on Syria: Where Revolution Goes Wrong.

A couple excerpts…

Independent journalist Anna Therese Day has spent considerable time in Syria, and last year authored a Shorty Award-nominated report for VICE Magazine called Gunrunning with the Free Syrian Army. In the report, Day accompanied an FSA colonel who defected from Assad’s army when the mass killings began. The colonel had two main complaints: that Western governments had abandoned the Syrian people in spite of mass genocide and brutal killings of protesters, and that because of the absence of help from Western governments, the Syrian people have had to depend on the military might of jihadists like the group Jabhat Al-Nusra. The jihadists fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army have the much different objective of establishing a theocratic Islamist government, whereas the FSA’s objectives are more along the lines of establishing a democratic and accountable secular government.

“Academic studies show empirically that civil resistance is more effective than armed resistance,” Day told me in a Skype interview from Madrid. “But it’s difficult to expect people to adhere to these ivory tower principles, even if in the long-term it will be more effective, when they are being attacked and need to defend to their families.”

And, yet…

Erica Chenoweth, an International Studies professor at the University of Denver, is author of the book “Why Civil Resistance Works.” In a February 2012 presentation at Dartmouth College, she explained how she was originally skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish major political goals, and decided to place very strict limits on which nonviolent campaigns she would credit with achieving major political goals. Chenoweth focused only on campaigns where there were more than 1,000 active participants using a majority of nonviolent tactics like boycotts, strikes, and street demonstrations over a small period of time. She also studied only nonviolent campaigns that were focused on achieving extremely difficult goals like regime change, removing an occupying military force, or seceding territory.

Chenoweth found that between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent campaigns were twice as effective as violent campaigns, and that in that time period, nonviolence became an increasingly effective strategy for achieving major victories, whereas violence became increasingly ineffective. Chenoweth’s research on violent campaigns found that their strategy was limited to simply getting as many people with as many weapons as possible and challenging the state head-on through either direct warfare or guerrilla tactics like sabotage and assassinations. Chenoweth’s research found that for a violent campaign to be effective at either ousting a regime or removing an occupying military force, it had to wage a long-term struggle against the state with the aforementioned tactics to corrode the state’s ability to assert power over the people, and it had to sustain its efforts over a long period of time. Because the state has a monopoly on violence, with more resources at its disposal, those violent campaigns had a very small rate of success.

However, Chenoweth discovered that nonviolent campaigns, with the various tactics at their disposal, were much more successful. They could attact a vast multitude of diverse people, and so were able to sustain a long campaign aimed at accomplishing specific strategic goals. Nonviolence succeeded where violence didn’t: the OTPOR movement’s ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia; the Arab Spring’s ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia. A nonviolent campaign can use leverage to remove all pillars of support for an oppressive regime or an occupying military force.

This first installment ends on a rather chilling note (well, I found it chilling at least) from the journalist mentioned above — Anna Therese Day:

Regardless of whether or not the US chooses to intervene with either humanitarian aid or airstrikes, Anna Day says that the Assad regime is likely to win out against the violent campaign to oust him. She says she’s troubled by the Obama administration’s unilateral plans for intervention, and other plans that have been discussed to arm rebels with more sophisticated weaponry.

“Assad controls most of the country and won back major key swaths in August, so this notion that he doesn’t have legitimacy anywhere simply isn’t true,” Day said. “It’s debatable if the rebels – not the cause of the Revolution, but the rag-tag leadership of the armed resistance – have any legitimacy at all, even among anti-Assad civilian elements.”

I don’t know how to pivot from that gracefully to a more uplifting story, so… how about we go even deeper in Debbie downer territory with some… ‘fracking confirmation.’

Confirmed: Fracking practices to blame for Ohio earthquakes. From the NBC News Science link:

Before January 2011, Youngstown, Ohio, which is located on the Marcellus Shale, had never experienced an earthquake, at least not since researchers began observations in 1776. However, in December 2010, the Northstar 1 injection well came online to pump wastewater from fracking projects in Pennsylvania into storage deep underground. In the year that followed, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, the strongest registering a magnitude-3.9 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. The well was shut down after the quake.

Scientists have known for decades that fracking and wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes. For instance, it appears linked with Oklahoma’s strongest recorded quake in 2011, as well as a rash of more than 180 minor tremors in Texas between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 31, 2009.

The new investigation of the Youngstown earthquakes, detailed in the July issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that their onset, end and even temporary dips in activity were apparently all tied to activity at the Northstar 1 well.

Well, gee, isn’t that swell. Say… Anyone care for the latest on Fukushima?

Via BBC: South Korea bans fisheries imports from Fukushima area

South Korea has banned all fisheries imports from eight Japanese prefectures, amid concern over leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

A spokesman said the measure was due to “sharply increased” public concern about the flow of contaminated water into the sea.

The ban, an expansion of existing restrictions, takes effect on Monday.

Meanwhile via CNN, Fukushima: The long road home after 2011 disaster. From the link:

More than a year ago, the workers here wore full protection suits, today they simply wear gloves and the basic face masks you can see anywhere in Japan — a sign that the radiation level here has dropped.

Thousands of industrial-size black bags hold the contaminated soil. They are lined up in fields, waiting for their final resting place — wherever that may be. This is a reminder that the problem of what to do with radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima plant is not the only storage issue this country has to deal with.

During the day, the steady volume of traffic in this outer part of the exclusion zone belies the invisible threat that still exists. It’s a threat that two-and-a-half years later has residents wondering when, or even if, they will be able to move back home.

I’m sorry to have such a depressing roundup for you this Saturday. What can I say. It’s almost September 11th, and we’re on the precipice of another possible war. It wouldn’t be a relevant roundup if it weren’t depressing.

But, you know me. Still hoping against hope! So, here’s my feminist treat for you before I go. The latest ‘Blurred’ parody by some outstanding law students in Auckland, NZ… my favorite so far, by far:

Alright, Sky Dancers. Let’s hear it in the comments. And, have a great weekend!

41 Comments on “Saturday: Of War, Fracking, and Fukushima”


    President Obama outlined his case for military action in Syria in his weekly address Saturday ahead of a major speech he will deliver on Syria next week.

    Obama said in the address that Syria is a serious threat to U.S. national security and that action must be taken after chemical weapons were used in Syria.

    “We are the United States of America. We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria,” Obama said.

    “Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again, that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons,” he said.


    That sounds like “fight ’em over there so we don’t have to fight ’em over here.”

    Eek, eek.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for the useful background on Syria, Mona. Yes, it’s depressing, but I’m grateful you pulled all this together for us.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Fracking and Fukushima will have to wait awhile. I can only absorb so much depressing stuff at once!

    • Just got this alert, not sure what to make of it…

      “Exclusive: Jake Tapper has videos of alleged Syrian chemical weapons use WH showed senators to bolster strike support” — CNN

    • dakinikat says:

      You know, I am actually a bit torn on this because frankly, I wish the world would go in and grab those chemical weapons from him. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to let any dictator slaughter children and his own people. I guess I am waiting to see what the UN inspections team says. I don’t think the Russians and the Chinese should get away with continually turning the backs on the client states’ human rights infractions and we shouldn’t either. But, I guess that assumes in unreal world.

      • I just wish we had acted a lot sooner, if we were going to act…

        • dakinikat says:

          What really bothers me is that the Brits appeared to be selling this monster chemical weapons in the same way we were selling them to Saddam during the Reagan administration and he was actively using them. That makes me so furious!!!

          Why are companies even allowed to sell things like this?

          • dakinikat says:

            and by this I mean almost all conventional arm trades too … we sell murder abroad daily!!!

          • RalphB says:

            I can’t let this stand, it’s utter bullshit. The chemicals were sodium flouride and potassium flouride, Very commonly used chemicals, including in the US water supply and in toothpaste! Fuck sold by Wal-Mart.

            The fucking media is worse than useless and will publish anything as click now!

          • dakinikat says:

            Ah okay
            … thought it was more than that

          • This blurb from huffpo UK seems to sum up the controversy and/or hysteria:

            Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said there were “very serious questions to answer as to why, in January 2012, export licences for chemicals to Syria which could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons were approved”.

            “It will be a relief that the chemicals concerned were never actually delivered,” he said.

            “But, in light of the fact the Assad regime had already been violently oppressing internal dissent for many months by the beginning of 2012 and the intelligence now indicates use of chemical weapons on multiple occasions, a full explanation is needed as to why the export of these chemicals was approved in the first place.

            “This is important if confidence in the export licence process is to be maintained.”

            A Government spokesman said: “The UK Government operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world, and has been at the forefront of implementing an international sanctions regime on Syria.

            “In January 2012, we issued licences for sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride. The exporter and recipient company demonstrated that the chemicals were for a legitimate civilian end use – which was for metal finishing of aluminium profiles used in making aluminium showers and aluminium window frames.

            “Before any of the chemicals were exported, the licences were revoked following a revision to the sanctions regime which came into force on June 17 2012.”


          • RalphB says:

            They are all that’s mentioned.

            BRITAIN allowed firms to sell chemicals to Syria capable of being used to make nerve gas, the Sunday Mail can reveal today.

            Export licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride were granted months after the bloody civil war in the Middle East began.

            The chemical is capable of being used to make weapons such as sarin, thought to be the nerve gas used in the attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb which killed nearly 1500 people, including 426 children, 10 days ago.

            Sarin does contain Flourine, so that’s true, but the political class seems to be paranoid about something to me.

  3. Two days after acquittal, Fort Collins ‘End Rape Culture’ group takes to streets

    Two days after jurors acquitted a former Fort Collins bar worker of rape, activists are planning to spread rape awareness Friday night in Old Town.

    The walk is organized through Facebook page “End RAPE Culture (Fort Collins)” and asks people to print off fliers featuring mug shots of two men accused of raping two teenaged adults last December. One of the men, Bojan Vuckovic, 25, was acquitted of rape at trial Wednesday but remains in jail after conviction on two misdemeanors of serving alcohol to minors.
    Read full article:

    This hasn’t gotten attention, these two piled the teens with liquor and some sort of drugs, and both were brutally raped, one lost so much blood that she nearly died and the jury accepted the defense of “I didn’t know”… They guys filmed the girls asking them to nod consent, because they WEREN’T ABLE TO! The justice system in Fort Collins, Colorado failed these two teens.

    • RalphB says:

      Former Old Town bar worker acquitted in rape case; juror says defendant ‘squeaked by’

      Trial juror Nathan Scott, 47, of Fort Collins said prosecutors didn’t prove that Vuckovic knew he was having sex with the woman against her will, and he “squeaked by” with reasonable doubt.

      “If somebody’s drunk, what makes for consensus for the drunk person?” Scott said. “It is possible and even probable that he’s guilty. But it isn’t definitive.”

      Scott said he didn’t know Vuckovic was on parole when arrested in December, and this fact would have influenced his decision. Vuckovic didn’t testify in the week-and-a-half trial, and as such, his criminal history couldn’t be used against him.

      Vuckovic’s criminal history includes a guilty plea to felony fraud in 2010 and a guilty plea to misdemeanor fraud in Arapahoe County in 2011. He’s previously been accused but not convicted of assault and domestic violence in Broomfield, according to state court records.

      If his prior record had come into evidence, he would almost certainly have been convicted.

    • Wow, glad there is some grassroots organization for justice for these young women. Because the rest is so sad and maddening.

      Basically it is a societal sin for girls/women to exist. We are seen as the original sin. That’s the only reason I can see why the concept of consent would be so damned hard to grok. We are on the chattel/green light/vagina-on-the-loose setting by default…a woman could be anywhere at all, barely breathing, unconscious or sleeping, dead even. But society sees her as having not done enough to deny the default setting and put up a red light, even though it is the other car crashing into her…

      Male pattern entitlement

      “Why was she there?” (As in why does she exist at all–past or present or future tense–if not to fulfill men’s needs)

      Not “why did be bulldoze into her”

      • The crimes against women aren’t seen as crimes by our society, until it happens to their mother, sister, daughter, friend…and sadly it will until we RISE UP against this ‘Rape Culture’ and say ENOUGH! The ‘End Rape Culture’ team did this video post rapes of the teens in Fort Collins, Colorado:

        Rape culture comes to light in Fort Collins

        • It’s not even seen as crime when it happens to someone’s mother, daughter, sister…I mean that someone may or may not start to see it as a crime, but the rest of society will ask, “why didn’t you know where she was, why did you raise a slut.” That’s the problem…and then people see their own daughters, mothers, sisters as superior to ‘those’ people’s daughters, mothers, etc. It’s an endless xenophonic merrygo-round of othering each other so we forget how intrinsically connected and interdependent a species we are.

          We try to reach people by reminding them that *she* is someone’s daughter, mother, sister…that she could be yours….But really we need to start reminding even more that she is someone. Period. Before she is someone’s x y or z…she is someone herself.

  4. RalphB says:

    Balloon-Juice commenter on what happens after the failure of Syria vote in Congress…

    What’ll happen? Emo left liberals will wring their hands about wanting to do something, but will also be smug about the example set by reflexive antiwar thinking. Sally Struthers will raise funds for white concerned people using images of deformed Syrian children, music played behind by Sarah Mclachlan. Glenn Greenwald will take the final few faps to finish rubbing one out, and will segue to another reason why Obama is history’s greatest monster, and the teatrds and firebaggers will worship at his feet.

    Assad and Putin will giggle, Assad pounding neighborhoods with chemical weapons, Putin killing off another few journalists with polonium.

    Snowden will get blown by yet another hooker while eating caviar and lighting cigarettes with 100 ruble notes. Assange will grope some feckless diplomat.

    And putative presidents Santorum, Paul and Cruz will delight in the upsurge of their chances for 2016, confident that their campaign pledges to reform the NSA will gain wide traction among the dudebros.

    Sounds like it could be correct.

    • Hillary 2016 is more correct 🙂

      • RalphB says:

        Nope. Not as any result of this.

      • RalphB says:

        The fdl isolationist emoprogs will be attacking her just like or worse than Obama, They are both Bush now to the useless professional left.

        • Eh, we’ll see where the dust settles. Hillary’s already gone through being called worse than Bush and every male empty suit who voted for AUMF in Iraq combined anyway, and she’s come out of it all the more seasoned a political figure. Plus, I don’t think all the reflexive prog energy is just FDL…balloon juice seems to be doubling down on its defense of O with that quote you excerpted…. a few months back I saw another prog blog (Booman I think) write up a timeline on Syria that avoided any mention of Obama and blamed the deterioration of affairs pointedly at Hillary.

          The Dem party fractures and fissures will continue to do their tectonic shift, so we’ll see how things shape up and unfold this election cycle and next . Regardless, whoever the progs want to blame for Syria, the current situation–from Syria to fracking–illustrates exactly why we need someone like her who will keep combing through these issues even when her aides want to call it a day/night. FDL or balloon juice may not want Hillary, but I do…I’ll take the Methodist girl with her methodical to-do lists over Cowboy Clueless and philosopher king Oprecious any day. She’d have FDL and BJ both holding her feet to the fire right now. As it should be.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Former FBI Director says fraud in BP Oil spill claims. Refers cases to Justice Dept for prosecution.

  6. dakinikat says:

    ” The first is forecasting. Wrong forecasts lead to wrong policies. Without a good sense of direction of where the economy is going, one can’t take appropriate policies. Ms. Yellen has a superb record in forecasting where the economy is going — the best, according to The Wall Street Journal, of anyone at the Fed. As I noted earlier, Mr. Summers’s leaves something to be desired.

    Ms. Yellen’s superlative performance should not come as a surprise. Janet Yellen, whom I taught at Yale, was one of the best students I have had, in 47 seven years of teaching at Columbia, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, M.I.T. and Oxford. She is an economist of great intellect, with a strong ability to forge consensus, and she has proved her mettle as chairwoman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (she succeeded me in that role), as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, from 2004 to 2010, and in her current role, as the Fed’s No. 2.

    Ms. Yellen brings to bear an understanding not just of financial markets and monetary policy, but also of labor markets — which is essential at a time when unemployment and wage stagnation are primary concerns.

    The second element of Fed policy making is risk assessment: if one steps on the brakes too hard, one risks excessively high unemployment; too gently, one risks inflation. Ms. Yellen has shown herself to be not only excellent in forecasting, but balanced. Legitimate questions have been raised: Would Mr. Summers, with his close connections with Wall Street, reflect financiers’ single-minded focus on inflation, and be more worried about the effects on bond prices than on ordinary Americans? In the past, central banks have focused excessively on inflation. Indeed, this single-minded focus, with little regard to financial stability, not only has contributed to the crisis, but as I argued in my book “Freefall,” it has also contributed to the declining share of total income that is earned by ordinary workers. “

  7. RalphB says:

    The Lunatic Fringe didn’t do well …