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 on: Today at 06:03 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Bruised by War, Poroshenko Faces Big Election Test

by Naharnet Newsdesk
01 October 2014, 14:38

He has been tormented by a bloody pro-Russian uprising and the near-bankruptcy of his young but bitterly conflicted former Soviet state.

Now President Petro Poroshenko's success in handling both crises will be tested when Ukrainians pick a new parliament that could make or break his post-war revival plans.

A dizzying 29 parties made the ballot by the Tuesday night registration deadline for the October 26 polls.

Most surveys show the president's uninventively monikered Petro Poroshenko Bloc on pace to claim roughly a quarter of the seats in the 450-member chamber.

Hot on his heels are a colorful band of nationalists -- dubbed the "party of war" by critics in Moscow -- who together could derail the president's high-wire act of making peace with Russia while merging with the West.

But little encapsulates the scale of changes that have swept over Ukraine in the past year of revolutionary fervor and wartime ruin more than the demise of pro-Kremlin forces that once dominated politics.

The Regions Party of Viktor Yanukovych -- an unpopular leader who fled to Russia after riot police gunned down 100 protesters in February -- was facing the prospect of scoring just two percent before it decided to "boycott" the race.

The former ruling party's support all but vanished when Moscow annexed Crimea and began backing separatist revolts in the country's industrial east.

The president has an Achille's Heel: many feel his vow to crush the pro-Russian insurgents has instead turned into a military fiasco that forced Kiev to sue for peace with Moscow.

His biggest weapon may come in the towering shape of former heavyweight boxing champion and current Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko.

The sporting hero will top Poroshenko's election list and be tasked with portraying a tough-guy image similar to the one mastered in Russia by President Vladimir Putin -- a judo black belt.

"We take it as a given that Ukraine must be transformed into a military power," the president's deputy chief of staff said in September.

Poroshenko -- an affable chocolate tycoon with an innate feel for Western business -- is on stronger ground with the economy. He will campaign on his ability to strike a historic EU alliance and secure $27 billion (21 billion euros) in global aid that could break the country's reliance on Russia.

Others are taking an even tougher line on Russia.

"We are going to simply not pay any of our Russian debts. This will be our punishment for their aggression," Radical Party leader Oleg Lashko promised voters.

The brash former journalist is the most popular of an array of right-wing forces that are trying to tap into voters' frustration with Poroshenko's failure to defeat the rebels.

Lashko is expected to secure around 10 percent of the vote which would put him just ahead of the similarly militant Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party of Yulia Tymoshenko and the People's Front of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Tymoshenko is the bruised warrior of Ukrainian politics whose once iconic status as leader of a previous revolution has been tarnished by corruption allegations.

This trio of charismatic opposition figures could make life difficult for Poroshenko in the remaining four years of his term.

The mantle of representing ethnic Russians has been taken up by the new and largely unknown Opposition Bloc of former energy minister Yuriy Boiko.

The one-time power broker won less than one percent of the May presidential ballot and seems to lack the magnetism needed to revive his campaign but his party could still win enough seats to tip the balance against Poroshenko on crucial votes.

Deputy party leader Oleksandr Vilkul recently accused Prososhenko of turning ethnic Russians into "second-class citizens whose voices are almost never heard".

The bloc will hope for a strong finish in the southwestern Ukrainian port of Odessa and central regions where Russian is spoken alongside Ukrainian.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 03:09 PM 
Started by AndreaManik - Last post by AndreaManik
Estoy muy agradecida de tu respuesta Gonzalo, me ayudó muchísimo a comprender mejor los temas natales de esta persona con el fin de brindarle algún tipo de ayuda en la terapia.



 on: Sep 30, 2014, 09:53 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire

By Tim Dickinson | September 24, 2014
Rolling Stone

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don't want you to know is how they made all that money

The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they've cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today's GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year's midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.

What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers' fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America's second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company's stock response to inquiries from reporters: "We are privately held and don't disclose this information."

But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company's troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle­-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP.

Under the nearly five-decade reign of CEO Charles Koch, the company has paid out record civil and criminal environmental penalties. And in 1999, a jury handed down to Koch's pipeline company what was then the largest wrongful-death judgment of its type in U.S. history, resulting from the explosion of a defective pipeline that incinerated a pair of Texas teenagers.

The volume of Koch Industries' toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America's air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation's waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch's climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.

For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy. The cost is borne by communities in cities like Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned facility produces as much as 2 billion pounds of petrochemicals every year. In March, Koch signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice requiring it to spend more than $40 million to bring this plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act.

The toxic history of Koch Industries is not limited to physical pollution. It also extends to the company's business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties.

And in one of the great ironies of the Obama years, the president's financial-regulatory reform seems to benefit Koch Industries. The company is expanding its high-flying trading empire precisely as Wall Street banks – facing tough new restrictions, which Koch has largely escaped – are backing away from commodities speculation.

It is often said that the Koch brothers are in the oil business. That's true as far as it goes – but Koch Industries is not a major oil producer. Instead, the company has woven itself into every nook of the vast industrial web that transforms raw fossil fuels into usable goods. Koch-owned businesses trade, transport, refine and process fossil fuels, moving them across the world and up the value chain until they become things we forgot began with hydrocarbons: fertilizers, Lycra, the innards of our smartphones.

The company controls at least four oil refineries, six ethanol plants, a natural-gas-fired power plant and 4,000 miles of pipeline. Until recently, Koch refined roughly five percent of the oil burned in America (that percentage is down after it shuttered its 85,000-barrel-per-day refinery in North Pole, Alaska, owing, in part, to the discovery that a toxic solvent had leaked from the facility, fouling the town's groundwater). From the fossil fuels it refines, Koch also produces billions of pounds of petrochemicals, which, in turn, become the feedstock for other Koch businesses. In a journey across Koch Industries, what enters as a barrel of West Texas Intermediate can exit as a Stainmaster carpet.

Koch's hunger for growth is insatiable: Since 1960, the company brags, the value of Koch Industries has grown 4,200-fold, outpacing the Standard & Poor's index by nearly 30 times. On average, Koch projects to double its revenue every six years. Koch is now a key player in the fracking boom that's vaulting the United States past Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer, even as it's endangering America's groundwater. In 2012, a Koch subsidiary opened a pipeline capable of carrying 250,000 barrels a day of fracked crude from South Texas to Corpus Christi, where the company owns a refinery complex, and it has announced plans to further expand its Texas pipeline operations. In a recent acquisition, Koch bought Frac-Chem, a top provider of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to drillers. Thanks to the Bush administration's anti-regulatory­ agenda – which Koch Industries helped craft – Frac-Chem's chemical cocktails, injected deep under the nation's aquifers, are almost entirely exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Koch is also long on the richest – but also the dirtiest and most carbon-polluting – oil deposits in North America: the tar sands of Alberta. The company's Pine Bend refinery, near St. Paul, Minnesota, processes nearly a quarter of the Canadian bitumen exported to the United States – which, in turn, has created for Koch Industries a lucrative sideline in petcoke exports. Denser, dirtier and cheaper than coal, petcoke is the dregs of tar-sands refining. U.S. coal plants are largely forbidden from burning petcoke, but it can be profitably shipped to countries with lax pollution laws like Mexico and China. One of the firm's subsidiaries, Koch Carbon, is expanding its Chicago terminal operations to receive up to 11 million tons of petcoke for global export. In June, the EPA noted the facility had violated the Clean Air Act with petcoke particulates that endanger the health of South Side residents. "We dispute that the two elevated readings" behind the EPA notice of violation "are violations of anything," Koch's top lawyer, Mark Holden, told Rolling Stone, insisting that Koch Carbon is a good neighbor.

Over the past dozen years, the company has quietly acquired leases for 1.1 million acres of Alberta oil fields, an area larger than Rhode Island. By some estimates, Koch's direct holdings nearly double ExxonMobil's and nearly triple Shell's. In May, Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC of Calgary, Alberta, sought permits to embark on a multi-billion­dollar tar-sands-extraction operation. This one site is projected to produce 22 million barrels a year – more than a full day's supply of U.S. oil.

Charles Koch, the 78-year-old CEO and chairman of the board of Koch Industries, is inarguably a business savant. He presents himself as a man of moral clarity and high integrity. "The role of business is to produce products and services in a way that makes people's lives better," he said recently. "It cannot do so if it is injuring people and harming the environment in the process."

The Koch family's lucrative blend of pollution, speculation, law-bending and self-righteousness stretches back to the early 20th century, when Charles' father first entered the oil business. Fred C. Koch was born in 1900 in Quanah, Texas – a sunbaked patch of prairie across the Red River from Oklahoma. Fred was the second son of Hotze "Harry" Koch, a Dutch immigrant who – as recalled in Koch literature – ran "a modest newspaper business" amid the dusty poverty of Quanah. In the family legend, Fred Koch emerged from the nothing of the Texas range to found an empire. But like many stories the company likes to tell about itself, this piece of Koch­lore takes liberties with the truth. Fred was not a simple country boy, and his father was not just a small-town publisher. Harry Koch was also a local railroad baron who used his newspaper to promote the Quanah, Acme & Pacific railways. A director and founding shareholder of the company, Harry sought to build a rail line across Texas to El Paso. He hoped to turn Quanah into "the most important railroad center in northwest Texas and a metropolitan city of first rank." He may not have fulfilled those ambitions, but Harry did build up what one friend called "a handsome pile of dinero."

Harry was not just the financial springboard for the Koch dynasty, he was also its wellspring of far-right politics. Harry editorialized against fiat money, demanded hangings for "habitual criminals" and blasted Social Security as inviting sloth. At the depths of the Depression, he demanded that elected officials in Washington should stop trying to fix the economy: "Business," he wrote, "has always found a way to overcome various recessions."

In the company's telling, young Fred was an innovator whose inventions helped revolutionize the oil industry. But there is much more to this story. In its early days, refining oil was a dirty and wasteful practice. But around 1920, Universal Oil Products introduced a clean and hugely profitable way to "crack" heavy crude, breaking it down under heat and heavy pressure to boost gasoline yields. In 1925, Fred, who earned a degree in chemical engineering from MIT, partnered with a former Universal engineer named Lewis Winkler and designed a near carbon copy of the Universal cracking apparatus – making only tiny, unpatentable tweaks. Relying on family connections, Fred soon landed his first client – an Oklahoma refinery owned by his maternal uncle L.B. Simmons. In a flash, Winkler-Koch Engineering Co. had contracts to install its knockoff cracking equipment all over the heartland, undercutting Universal by charging a one-time fee rather than ongoing royalties.

It was a boom business. That is, until Universal sued in 1929, accusing Winkler­Koch of stealing its intellectual property. With his domestic business tied up in court, Fred started looking for partners abroad and was soon doing business in the Soviet Union, where leader Joseph Stalin had just launched his first Five Year Plan. Stalin sought to fund his country's industrialization by selling oil into the lucrative European export market. But the Soviet Union's reserves were notoriously hard to refine. The USSR needed cracking technology, and the Oil Directorate of the Supreme Council of the National Economy took a shining to Winkler-Koch – primarily because Koch's oil-industry competitors were reluctant to do business with totalitarian Communists.

Between 1929 and 1931, Winkler-Koch built 15 cracking units for the Soviets. Although Stalin's evil was no secret, it wasn't until Fred visited the Soviet Union, that these dealings seemed to affect his conscience. "I went to the USSR in 1930 and found it a land of hunger, misery and terror," he would later write. Even so, he agreed to give the Soviets the engineering know-how they would need to keep building more.

Back home, Fred was busy building a life of baronial splendor. He met his wife, Mary, the Wellesley-educated daughter of a Kansas City surgeon, on a polo field and soon bought 160 acres across from the Wichita Country Club, where they built a Tudor­style mansion. As chronicled in Sons of Wichita, Daniel Schulman's investigation of the Koch dynasty, the compound was quickly bursting with princes: Frederick arrived in 1933, followed by Charles in 1935 and twins David and Bill in 1940. Fred Koch lorded over his domain. "My mother was afraid of my father," said Bill, as were the four boys, especially first-born Frederick, an artistic kid with a talent for the theater. "Father wanted to make all his boys into men, and Freddie couldn't relate to that regime," Charles recalled. Frederick got shipped East to boarding school and was all but disappeared from Wichita.

With Frederick gone, Charles forged a deep alliance with David, the more athletic and assertive of the young twins. "I was closer with David because he was better at everything," Charles has said.

Fred Koch's legal battle with Universal would drag on for nearly a quarter-century. In 1934, a lower court ruled that Winkler-Koch had infringed on Universal's technology. But that judgment would be vacated, after it came out in 1943 that Universal had bought off one of the judges­ handling the appeal. A year later, the Supreme Court decided that Fred's cracker, by virtue of small technical differences, did not violate the Universal patent. Fred countersued on antitrust grounds, arguing that Universal had wielded patents anti-competitively. He'd win a $1.5 million settlement in 1952.

Around that time, Fred had built a domestic oil empire under a new company eventually called Rock Island Oil & Refining, transporting crude from wellheads to refineries by truck or by pipe. In those later years, Fred also became a major benefactor and board member of the John Birch Society, the rabidly anti-communist organization founded in 1958 by candy magnate and virulent racist Robert Welch. Bircher publications warned that the Red endgame was the creation of the "Negro Soviet­ Republic" in the Deep South. In his own writing, Fred described integration as a Red plot to "enslave both the white and black man."

Like his father, Charles Koch attended MIT. After he graduated in 1959 with two master's degrees in engineering, his father issued an ultimatum: Come back to Wichita or I'll sell the business. "Papa laid it on the line," recalled David. So Charles returned home, immersing himself in his father's world – not simply joining the John Birch Society, but also opening a Bircher bookstore. The Birchers had high hopes for young Charles. As Koch family friend Robert Love wrote in a letter to Welch: "Charles Koch can, if he desires, finance a large operation, however, he must continually be brought along."

But Charles was already falling under the sway of a charismatic radio personality named Robert LeFevre, founder of the Freedom School, a whites-only­ libertarian boot camp in the foothills above Colorado Springs, Colorado. LeFevre preached a form of anarchic capitalism in which the individual should be freed from almost all government power. Charles soon had to make a choice. While the Birchers supported the Vietnam War, his new guru was a pacifist who equated militarism with out-of-control state power. LeFevre's stark influence on Koch's thinking is crystallized in a manifesto Charles wrote for the Libertarian Review in the 1970s, recently unearthed by Schulman, titled "The Business Community: Resisting Regulation." Charles lays out principles that gird today's Tea Party movement. Referring to regulation as "totalitarian," the 41-year-old Charles claimed business leaders had been "hoodwinked" by the notion that regulation is "in the public interest." He advocated the "barest possible obedience" to regulation and implored, "Do not cooperate voluntarily, instead, resist whenever and to whatever extent you legally can in the name of justice."

After his father died in 1967, Charles, now in command of the family business, renamed it Koch Industries. It had grown into one of the 10 largest privately owned firms in the country, buying and selling some 80 million barrels of oil a year and operating 3,000 miles of pipeline. A black-diamond skier and white-water kayaker, Charles ran the business with an adrenaline junkie's aggressiveness. The company would build pipelines to promising oil fields without a contract from the producers and park tanker trucks beside wildcatters' wells, waiting for the first drops of crude to flow. "Our willingness to move quickly, absorb more risk," Charles would write, "enabled us to become the leading crude-oil­gathering company."

Charles also reconnected with one of his father's earliest insights: There's big money in dirty oil. In the late 1950s, Fred Koch had bought a minority stake in a Minnesota refinery that processed heavy Canadian crude. "We could run the lousiest crude in the world," said his business partner J. Howard Marshall II – the future Mr. Anna Nicole Smith. Sensing an opportunity for huge profits, Charles struck a deal to convert Marshall's ownership stake in the refinery into stock in Koch Industries. Suddenly the majority owner, the company soon bought the rest of the refinery outright.

Almost from the beginning, Koch Industries' risk-taking crossed over into recklessness. The OPEC oil embargo hit the company hard. Koch had made a deal giving the company the right to buy a large share of Qatar's export crude. At the time, Koch owned five supertankers and had chartered many others. When the embargo hit, Koch had upward of half a billion dollars in exposure to tankers and couldn't deliver OPEC oil to the U.S. market, creating what Charles has called "large losses." Soon, Koch Industries was caught overcharging American customers. The Ford administration in the summer of 1974 compelled Koch to pay out more than $20 million in rebates and future price reductions.

Koch Industries' manipulations were about to get more audacious. In the late 1970s, the federal government parceled out exploration tracts, using a lottery in which anyone could score a 10-year lease at just $1 an acre – a game of chance that gave wildcat prospectors the same shot as the biggest players. Koch didn't like these odds, so it enlisted scores of frontmen to bid on its behalf. In the event they won the lottery, they would turn over their leases to the company. In 1980, Koch Industries pleaded guilty to five felonies in federal court, including conspiracy to commit fraud.

With Republicans and Democrats united in regulating the oil business, Charles had begun throwing his wealth behind the upstart Libertarian Party, seeking to transform it into a viable third party. Over the years, he would spend millions propping up a league of affiliated think tanks and front groups – a network of Libertarians that became known as the "Kochtopus."

Charles even convinced David to stand as the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate in 1980 – a clever maneuver that allowed David to lavish unlimited money on his own ticket. The Koch-funded 1980 platform was nakedly in the brothers' self-interest – slashing federal regulatory agencies, offering a 50 percent tax break to top earners, ending the "cruel and unfair" estate tax and abolishing a $16 billion "windfall profits" tax on the oil industry. The words of Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark's convention speech in Los Angeles ring across the decades: "We're sick of taxes," he declared. "We're ready to have a very big tea party." In a very real sense, the modern Republican Party was on the ballot that year – and it was running against Ronald Reagan.

Charles' management style and infatuation with far-right politics were endangering his grip on the company. Bill believed his brothers' political spending was bad for business. "Pretty soon, we would get the reputation that the company and the Kochs were crazy," he said.

In late 1980, with Frederick's backing, Bill launched an unsuccessful battle for control of Koch Industries, aiming to take the company public. Three years later, Charles and David bought out their brothers for $1.1 billion. But the speed with which Koch Industries paid off the buyout debt left Bill convinced, but never quite able to prove, he'd been defrauded. He would spend the next 18 years suing his brothers, calling them "the biggest crooks in the oil industry."

Bill also shared these concerns with the federal government. Thanks in part to his efforts, in 1989 a Senate committee investigating Koch business with Native Americans would describe Koch Oil tactics as "grand larceny." In the late 1980s, Koch was the largest purchaser of oil from American tribes. Senate investigators suspected the company was making off with more crude from tribal oil fields than it measured and paid for. They set up a sting, sending an FBI agent to coordinate stakeouts of eight remote leases. Six of them were Koch operations, and the agents reported "oil theft" at all of them.

One of Koch's gaugers would refer to this as "volume enhancement." But in sworn testimony before a Texas jury, Phillip Dubose, a former Koch pipeline manager, offered a more succinct definition: "stealing." The Senate committee concluded that over the course of three years Koch "pilfered" $31 million in Native oil; in 1988, the value of that stolen oil accounted for nearly a quarter of the company's crude-oil profits. "I don't know how the company could have figures like that," the FBI agent testified, "and not have top management know that theft was going on." In his own testimony, Charles offered that taking oil readings "is a very uncertain art" and that his employees "aren't rocket scientists." Koch's top lawyer would later paint the company as a victim of Senate "McCarthyism."

By this time, the Kochs had soured on the Libertarian Party, concluding that control of a small party would never give them the muscle they sought in the nation's capital. Now they would spend millions in efforts to influence – and ultimately take over – the GOP. The work began close to home; the Kochs had become dedicated patrons of Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, who ran interference for Koch Industries in Washington. On the Senate floor in March 1990, Dole gloatingly cautioned against a "rush to judgment" against Koch, citing "very real concerns about some of the evidence on which the special committee was basing its findings." A grand jury investigated the claims but disbanded in 1992, without issuing indictments.

Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini was "surprised and disappointed" at the decision to drop the case. "Our investigation was some of the finest work the Senate has ever done," he said. "There was an overwhelming case against Koch." But Koch did not avoid all punishment. Under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government, Bill sued the company, accusing it of defrauding the feds of royalty income on its "volume­enhanced" purchases of Native oil. A jury concluded Koch had submitted more than 24,000 false claims, exposing Koch to some $214 million in penalties. Koch later settled, paying $25 million.

Self­interest continued to define Koch Industries' adventures in public policy. In the early 1990s, in a high-profile initiative of the first-term Clinton White House, the administration was pushing for a levy on the heat content of fuels. Known as the BTU tax, it was the earliest attempt by the federal government to recoup damages from climate polluters. But Koch Industries could not stand losing its most valuable subsidy: the public policy that allowed it to treat the atmosphere as an open sewer. Richard Fink, head of Koch Company's Public Sector and the longtime mastermind of the Koch brothers' political empire, confessed to The Wichita Eagle in 1994 that Koch could not compete if it actually had to pay for the damage it did to the environment: "Our belief is that the tax, over time, may have destroyed our business."

To fight this threat, the Kochs funded a "grassroots" uprising – one that foreshadowed the emergence, decades later, of the Tea Party. The effort was run through Citizens for a Sound Economy, to which the brothers had spent a decade giving nearly $8 million to create what David Koch called "a sales force" to communicate the brothers' political agenda through town hall meetings and anti-tax rallies designed to look like spontaneous demonstrations. In 1994, David Koch bragged that CSE's campaign "played a key role in defeating the administration's plans for a huge and cumbersome BTU tax."

Despite the company's increasingly sophisticated political and public-relations operations, Charles' philosophy of regulatory resistance was about to bite Koch Industries – in the form of record civil and criminal financial penalties imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Koch entered the 1990s on a pipeline-buying spree. By 1994, its network measured 37,000 miles. According to sworn testimony from former Koch employees, the company operated its pipelines with almost complete disregard for maintenance. As Koch employees understood it, this was in keeping with their CEO's trademarked business philosophy, Market­Based Management.

For Charles, MBM – first communicated to employees in 1991 – was an attempt to distill the business practices that had grown Koch into one of the largest oil businesses in the world. To incentivize workers, Koch gives employees bonuses that correlate to the value they create for the company. "Salary is viewed only as an advance on compensation for value," Koch wrote, "and compensation has an unlimited upside."

To prevent the stagnation that can often bog down big enterprises, Koch was also determined to incentivize risk-taking. Under MBM, Koch Industries books opportunity costs – "profits foregone from a missed opportunity" – as though they were actual losses on the balance sheet. Koch employees who play it safe, in other words, can't strike it rich.

On paper, MBM sounds innovative and exciting. But in Koch's hyperaggressive corporate culture, it contributed to a series of environmental disasters. Applying MBM to pipeline maintenance, Koch employees calculated that the opportunity cost of shutting down equipment to ensure its safety was greater than the profit potential of pushing aging pipe to its limits.

The fact that preventive pipeline maintenance is required by law didn't always seem to register. Dubose, a 26-year Koch veteran who oversaw pipeline areas in Louisiana, would testify about the company's lax attitude toward maintenance. "It was a question of money. It would take away from our profit margin." The testimony of another pipeline manager would echo that of Dubose: "Basically, the philosophy was 'If it ain't broke, don't work on it.'"

When small spills occurred, Dubose testified, the company would cover them up. He recalled incidents in which the company would use the churn of a tugboat's engine to break up waterborne spills and "just kind of wash that thing on down, down the river." On land, Dubose said, "They might pump it [the leaked oil] off into a drum, then take a shovel and just turn the earth over." When larger spills were reported to authorities, the volume of the discharges was habitually low-balled, according to Dubose.

Managers pressured employees to falsify pipeline-maintenance records filed with federal authorities; in a sworn affidavit, pipeline worker Bobby Conner recalled arguments with his manager over Conner's refusal to file false reports: "He would always respond with anger," Conner said, "and tell me that I did not know how to be a Koch employee." Conner was fired and later settled a wrongful-termination suit with Koch Gateway Pipeline. Dubose testified that Charles was not in the dark about the company's operations. "He was in complete control," Dubose said. "He was the one that was line-driving this Market-Based Management at meetings."

Before the worst spill from this time, Koch employees had raised concerns about the integrity of a 1940s-era pipeline in South Texas. But the company not only kept the line in service, it increased the pressure to move more volume. When a valve snapped shut in 1994, the brittle pipeline exploded. More than 90,000 gallons of crude spewed into Gum Hollow Creek, fouling surrounding marshlands and both Nueces and Corpus Christi bays with a 12-mile oil slick.

By 1995, the EPA had seen enough. It sued Koch for gross violations of the Clean Water Act. From 1988 through 1996, the company's pipelines spilled 11.6 million gallons of crude and petroleum products. Internal Koch records showed that its pipelines were in such poor condition that it would require $98 million in repairs to bring them up to industry standard.

Ultimately, state and federal agencies forced Koch to pay a $30 million civil penalty – then the largest in the history of U.S. environmental law – for 312 spills across six states. Carol Browner, the former EPA administrator, said of Koch, "They simply did not believe the law applied to them." This was not just partisan rancor. Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, the future Republican senator, had joined the EPA in bringing suit against Koch. "This settlement and penalty warn polluters that they cannot treat oil spills simply as the cost of doing business," Cornyn said. (The Kochs seem to have no hard feelings toward their one-time tormentor; a lobbyist for Koch was the number-two bundler for Cornyn's primary campaign this year.)

Koch wasn't just cutting corners on its pipelines. It was also violating federal environmental law in other corners of the empire. Through much of the 1990s at its Pine Bend refinery in Minnesota, Koch spilled up to 600,000 gallons of jet fuel into wetlands near the Mississippi River. Indeed, the company was treating the Mississippi as a sewer, illegally dumping ammonia-laced wastewater into the river – even increasing its discharges on weekends when it knew it wasn't being monitored. Koch Petroleum Group eventually pleaded guilty to "negligent discharge of a harmful quantity of oil" and "negligent violation of the Clean Water Act," was ordered to pay a $6 million fine and $2 million in remediation costs, and received three years' probation. This facility had already been declared a Superfund site in 1984.

In 2000, Koch was hit with a 97-count indictment over claims it violated the Clean Air Act by venting massive quantities of benzene at a refinery in Corpus Christi – and then attempted to cover it up. According to the indictment, Koch filed documents with Texas regulators indicating releases of just 0.61 metric tons of benzene for 1995 – one-tenth of what was allowed under the law. But the government alleged that Koch had been informed its true emissions that year measured 91 metric tons, or 15 times the legal limit.

By the time the case came to trial, however, George W. Bush was in office and the indictment had been significantly pared down – Koch faced charges on only seven counts. The Justice Department settled in what many perceived to be a sweetheart deal, and Koch pleaded guilty to a single felony count for covering up the fact that it had disconnected a key pollution-control device and did not measure the resulting benzene emissions – receiving five years' probation. Despite skirting stiffer criminal prosecution, Koch was handed $20 million in fines and reparations – another historic judgment.

On the day before Danielle Smalley was to leave for college, she and her friend Jason Stone were hanging out in her family's mobile home. Seventeen years old, with long chestnut hair, Danielle began to feel nauseated. "Dad," she said, "we smell gas." It was 3:45 in the afternoon on August 24th, 1996, near Lively, Texas, some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The Smalleys were too poor to own a telephone. So the teens jumped into her dad's 1964 Chevy pickup to alert the authorities. As they drove away, the truck stalled where the driveway crossed a dry creek bed. Danielle cranked the ignition, and a fireball engulfed the truck. "You see two children burned to death in front of you – you never forget that," Danielle's father, Danny, would later tell reporters.

Unknown to the Smalleys, a decrepit Koch pipeline carrying liquid butane – literally, lighter fluid – ran through their subdivision. It had ruptured, filling the creek bed with vapor, and the spark from the pickup's ignition had set off a bomb. Federal investigators documented both "severe corrosion" and "mechanical damage" in the pipeline. A National Transportation Safety Board report would cite the "failure of Koch Pipeline Company LP to adequately protect its pipeline from corrosion."

Installed in the early Eighties, the pipeline had been out of commission for three years. When Koch decided to start it up again in 1995, a water-pressure test had blown the pipe open. An inspection of just a few dozen miles of pipe near the Smal­ley home found 538 corrosion defects. The industry's term of art for a pipeline in this condition is Swiss cheese, according to the testimony of an expert witness – "essentially the pipeline is gone."

Koch repaired only 80 of the defects – enough to allow the pipeline to withstand another pressure check – and began running explosive fluid down the line at high pressure in January 1996. A month later, employees discovered that a key anti­corrosion system had malfunctioned, but it was never fixed. Charles Koch had made it clear to managers that they were expected to slash costs and boost profits. In a sternly worded memo that April, Charles had ordered his top managers to cut expenditures by 10 percent "through the elimination of waste (I'm sure there is much more waste than that)" in order to increase pre-tax earnings by $550 million a year.

The Smalley trial underscored something Bill Koch had said about the way his brothers ran the company: "Koch Industries has a philosophy that profits are above everything else." A former Koch manager, Kenoth Whitstine, testified to incidents in which Koch Industries placed profits over public safety. As one supervisor had told him, regulatory fines "usually didn't amount to much" and, besides, the company had "a stable full of lawyers in Wichita that handled those situations." When Whitstine told another manager he was concerned that unsafe pipelines could cause a deadly accident, this manager said that it was more profitable for the company to risk litigation than to repair faulty equipment. The company could "pay off a lawsuit from an incident and still be money ahead," he said, describing the principles of MBM to a T.

At trial, Danny Smalley asked for a judgment large enough to make the billionaires feel pain: "Let Koch take their child out there and put their children on the pipeline, open it up and let one of them die," he told the jury. "And then tell me what that's worth." The jury was emphatic, awarding Smalley $296 million – then the largest wrongful-death judgment in American legal history. He later settled with Koch for an undisclosed sum and now runs a pipeline-safety foundation in his daughter's name. He declined to comment for this story. "It upsets him too much," says an associate.

The official Koch line is that scandals that caused the company millions in fines, judgments and penalties prompted a change in Charles' attitude of regulatory resistance. In his 2007 book, The Science of Success, he begrudgingly acknowledges his company's recklessness. "While business was becoming increasingly regulated," he reflects, "we kept thinking and acting as if we lived in a pure market economy. The reality was far different."

Charles has since committed Koch Industries to obeying federal regulations. "Even when faced with laws we think are counterproductive," he writes, "we must first comply." Underscoring just how out of bounds Koch had ventured in its corporate culture, Charles admits that "it required a monumental undertaking to integrate compliance into every aspect of the company." In 2000, Koch Petroleum Group entered into an agreement with the EPA and the Justice Department to spend $80 million at three refineries to bring them into compliance with the Clean Air Act. After hitting Koch with a $4.5 million penalty, the EPA granted the company a "clean slate" for certain past violations.

Then George W. Bush entered the White House in 2001, his campaign fattened with Koch money. Charles Koch may decry cronyism as "nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful," but he put his company to work, hand in glove, with the Bush White House. Correspondence, contacts and visits among Koch Industries representatives and the Bush White House generated nearly 20,000 pages of records, according to a Rolling Stone FOIA request of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. In 2007, the administration installed a fiercely anti-regulatory academic, Susan Dudley, who hailed from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, as its top regulatory official.

Today, Koch points to awards it has won for safety and environmental excellence. "Koch companies have a strong record of compliance," Holden, Koch's top lawyer, tells Rolling Stone. "In the distant past, when we failed to meet these standards, we took steps to ensure that we were building a culture of 10,000 percent compliance, with 100 percent of our employees complying 100 percent." To reduce its liability, Koch has also unwound its pipeline business, from 37,000 miles in the late 1990s to about 4,000 miles. Of the much smaller operation, he adds, "Koch's pipeline practice and operations today are the best in the industry."

But even as compliance began to improve among its industrial operations, the company aggressively expanded its trading activities into the Wild West frontier of risky financial instruments. In 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act had exempted many of these products from regulation, and Koch Industries was among the key players shaping that law. Koch joined up with Enron, BP, Mobil and J. Aron – a division of Goldman Sachs then run by Lloyd Blankfein – in a collaboration called the Energy Group. This corporate alliance fought to prohibit the federal government from policing oil and gas derivatives. "The importance of derivatives for the Energy Group companies . . . cannot be overestimated," the group's lawyer wrote to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1998. "The success of this business can be completely undermined by . . . a costly regulatory regime that has no place in the energy industry."

Koch had long specialized in "over-the-counter" or OTC trades – private, unregulated contracts not disclosed on any centralized exchange. In its own letter to the CFTC, Koch identified itself as "a major participant in the OTC derivatives market," adding that the company not only offered "risk-management tools for its customers" but also traded "for its own account." Making the case for what would be known as the Enron Loophole, Koch argued that any big firm's desire to "maintain a good reputation" would prevent "widespread abuses in the OTC derivatives market," a darkly hilarious claim, given what would become not only of Enron, but also Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG.

The Enron Loophole became law in December 2000 – pushed along by Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, giving the Energy Group exactly what it wanted. "It completely exempted energy futures from regulation," says Michael Greenberger, a former director of trading and markets at the CFTC. "It wasn't a matter of regulators not enforcing manipulation or excessive speculation limits – this market wasn't covered at all. By law."

Before its spectacular collapse, Enron would use this loophole in 2001 to help engineer an energy crisis in California, artificially constraining the supply of natural gas and power generation, causing price spikes and rolling blackouts. This blatant and criminal market manipulation has become part of the legend of Enron. But Koch was caught up in the debacle. The CFTC would charge that a partnership between Koch and the utility Entergy had, at the height of the California crisis, reported fake natural-gas trades to reporting firms and also "knowingly reported false prices and/or volumes" on real trades.

One of 10 companies punished for such schemes, Entergy-Koch avoided prosecution by paying a $3 million fine as part of a 2004 settlement with the CFTC, in which it did not admit guilt to the commission's charges but is barred from maintaining its innocence.

Trading, which had long been peripheral to the company's core businesses, soon took center stage. In 2002, the company launched a subsidiary, Koch Supply & Trading. KS&T got off to a rocky start. "A series of bad trades," writes a Koch insider, "boiled over in early 2004 when a large 'sure bet' crude-oil trade went south, resulting in a quick, multimillion loss." But Koch traders quickly adjusted to the reality that energy markets were no longer ruled just by supply and demand – but by rich speculators trying to game the market. Revamping its strategy, Koch Industries soon began bragging of record profits. From 2003 to 2012, KS&T trading volumes exploded – up 450 percent. By 2009, KS&T ranked among the world's top-five oil traders, and by 2011, the company billed itself as "one of the leading quantitative traders" – though Holden now says it's no longer in this business.

Since Koch Industries aggressively expanded into high finance, the net worth of each brother has also exploded – from roughly $4 billion in 2002 to more than $40 billion today. In that period, the company embarked on a corporate buying spree that has taken it well beyond petroleum. In 2005, Koch purchased Georgia Pacific for $21 billion, giving the company a familiar, expansive grip on the industrial web that transforms Southern pine into consumer goods – from plywood sold at Home Depot to brand-name products like Dixie Cups and Angel Soft toilet paper. In 2013, Koch leapt into high technology with the $7 billion acquisition of Molex, a manufacturer of more than 100,000 electronics components and a top supplier to smartphone makers, including Apple.

Koch Supply & Trading makes money both from physical trades that move oil and commodities across oceans as well as in "paper" trades involving nothing more than high-stakes bets and cash. In paper trading, Koch's products extend far beyond simple oil futures. Koch pioneered, for sale to hedge funds, "volatility swaps," in which the actual price of crude is irrelevant and what matters is only the "magnitude of daily fluctuations in prices." Steve Mawer, until recently the president of KS&T, described parts of his trading operation as "black-box stuff."

Like a casino that bets at its own craps table, Koch engages in "proprietary trading" – speculating for the company's own bottom line. "We're like a hedge fund and a dealer at the same time," bragged Ilia Bouchouev, head of Koch's derivatives trading in 2004. "We can both make markets and speculate." The company's many tentacles in the physical oil business give Koch rich insight into market conditions and disruptions that can inform its speculative bets. When oil prices spiked to record heights in 2008, Koch was a major player in the speculative markets, according to documents leaked by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with trading volumes rivaling Wall Street giants like Citibank. Koch rode a trader-driven frenzy – detached from actual supply and demand – that drove prices above $147 a barrel in July 2008, battering a global economy about to enter a free fall.

Only Koch knows how much money Koch reaped during this price spike. But, as a proxy, consider the $20 million Koch and its subsidiaries spent lobbying Congress in 2008 – before then, its biggest annual lobbying expense had been $5 million – seeking to derail a raft of consumer-protection bills, including the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008, the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act of 2008 and the Close the Enron Loophole Act.

In comments to the Federal Trade Commission, Koch lobbyists defended the company's right to rack up fantastic profits at the expense of American consumers. "A mere attempt to maximize profits cannot constitute market manipulation," they wrote, adding baldly, "Excessive profits in the face of shortages are desirable."

When the global economy crashed in 2008, so did oil prices. By December, crude was trading more than $100 lower per barrel than it had just months earlier – around $30. At the same time, oil traders anticipated that prices would eventually rebound. Futures contracts for delivery of oil in December 2009 were trading at nearly $55 per barrel. When future delivery is more valuable than present inventory, the market is said to be "in contango." Koch exploited the contango market to the hilt. The company leased nine supertankers and filled them with cut-rate crude and parked them quietly offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, banking virtually risk-free profits by selling contracts for future delivery.

All in, Koch took about 20 million barrels of oil off the market, putting itself in a position to bet on price disruptions the company itself was creating. Thanks to these kinds of trading efforts, Koch could boast in a 2009 review that "the performance of Koch Supply & Trading actually grew stronger last year as the global economy worsened." The cost for those risk-free profits was paid by consumers at the pump. Estimates pegged the cost of the contango trade by Koch and others at up to 40 cents a gallon.

Artificially constraining oil supplies is not the only source of dark, unregulated profit for Koch Industries. In the years after George W. Bush branded Iran a member of the "Axis of Evil," the Koch brothers profited from trade with the state sponsor of terror and reckless would-be nuclear power. For decades, U.S. companies have been forbidden from doing business with the Ayatollahs, but Koch Industries exploited a loophole in 1996 sanctions that made it possible for foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do some business in Iran.

In the ensuing years, according to Bloomberg Markets, the German and Italian arms of Koch-Glitsch, a Koch subsidiary that makes equipment for oil fields and refineries, won lucrative contracts to supply Iran's Zagros plant, the largest methanol plant in the world. And thanks in part to Koch, methanol is now one of Iran's leading non-oil exports. "Every single chance they had to do business with Iran, or anyone else, they did," said Koch whistle-blower George Bentu. Having signed on to work for a company that lists "integrity" as its top value, Bentu added, "You feel totally betrayed. Everything Koch stood for was a lie."

Koch reportedly kept trading with Tehran until 2007 – after the regime was exposed for supplying IEDs to Iraqi insurgents killing U.S. troops. According to lawyer Holden, Koch has since "decided that none of its subsidiaries would engage in trade involving Iran, even where such trade is permissible under U.S. law."

These days, Koch's most disquieting foreign dealings are in Canada, where the company has massive investments in dirty tar sands. The company's 1.1 million acres of leases in northern Alberta contain reserves of economically recoverable oil numbering in the billions of barrels. With these massive leaseholdings, Koch is poised to continue profiting from Canadian crude whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline gains approval, says Andrew Leach, an energy and environmental economist at the business school of the University of Alberta.

Counterintuitively, approval of Keystone XL could actually harm one of Koch's most profitable businesses – its Pine Bend refinery in Minnesota. Because tar-sands crude presently has no easy outlet to the global market, there's a glut of Canadian oil in the midcontinent, and Koch's refinery is a beneficiary of this oversupply; the resulting discount can exceed $20 a barrel compared to conventional crude. If it is ever built, the Keystone XL pipeline will provide a link to Gulf Coast refineries – and thus the global export market, which would erase much of that discount and eat into company profit margins.

Leach says Koch Industries' tar-sands leaseholdings have them hedged against the potential approval of Keystone XL. The pipeline would increase the value of Canadian tar-sands deposits overnight. Koch could then profit handsomely by flipping its leases to more established producers. "Optimizing asset value through trading," Koch literature says of these and other holdings, is a "key" company strategy.

The one truly bad outcome for Koch would be if Keystone XL were to be defeated, as many environmentalists believe it must be. "If the signal that sends is that no new pipelines will be built across the U.S. border for carrying oil-sands product," Leach says, "that's going to have an impact not just on Koch leases, but on everybody's asset value in oil sands." Ironically, what's best for Koch's tar-sands interests is what the Obama administration is currently delivering: "They're actually ahead if Keystone XL gets delayed a while but hangs around as something that still might happen," Leach says.

The Dodd-Frank bill was supposed to put an end to economy­endangering speculation in the $700 trillion global derivatives market. But Koch has managed to defend – and even expand – its turf, trading in largely unregulated derivatives, once dubbed "financial weapons of mass destruction" by billionaire Warren Buffett.

In theory, the Enron Loophole is no longer open – the government now has the power to police manipulation in the market for energy derivatives. But the Obama administration has not yet been able to come up with new rules that actually do so. In 2011, the CFTC mandated "position limits" on derivative trades of oil and other commodities. These would have blocked any single speculator from owning futures contracts representing more than a quarter of the physical market – reducing the danger of manipulation. As part of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, which also reps many Wall Street giants including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, Koch fought these new restrictions. ISDA sued to block the position limits – and won in court in September 2012. Two years later, CFTC is still spinning its wheels on a replacement. Industry traders like Koch are, Greenberger says, "essentially able to operate as though the Enron Loophole were still in effect."

Koch is also reaping the benefits from Dodd-Frank's impacts on Wall Street. The so-called Volcker Rule, implemented at the end of last year, bans investment banks from "proprietary trading" – investing on their own behalf in securities and derivatives. As a result, many Wall Street banks are unloading their commodities-trading units. But Volcker does not apply to nonbank traders like Koch. They're now able to pick up clients who might previously have traded with JPMorgan. In its marketing materials for its trading operations, Koch boasts to potential clients that it can provide "physical and financial market liquidity at times when others pull back." Koch also likely benefits from loopholes that exempt the company from posting collateral for derivatives trades and allow it to continue trading swaps without posting the transactions to a transparent electronic exchange. Though competitors like BP and Cargill have registered with the CFTC as swaps dealers – subjecting their trades to tightened regulation – Koch conspicuously has not. "Koch is compliant with all CFTC regulations, including those relating to swaps dealers," says Holden, the Koch lawyer.

That a massive company with such a troubling record as Koch Industries remains unfettered by financial regulation should strike fear in the heart of anyone with a stake in the health of the American economy. Though Koch has cultivated a reputation as an economically conservative company, it has long flirted with danger. And that it has not suffered a catastrophic loss in the past 15 years would seem to be as much about luck as about skillful management.

The Kochs have brushed up against some of the major debacles of the crisis years. In 2007, as the economy began to teeter, Koch was gearing up to plunge into the market for credit default swaps, even creating an affiliate, Koch Financial Products, for that express purpose. KFP secured a AAA rating from Moody's and reportedly sought to buy up toxic assets at the center of the financial crisis at up to 50-times leverage. Ultimately, Koch Industries survived the experiment without losing its shirt.

More recently, Koch was exposed to the fiasco at MF Global, the disgraced brokerage firm run by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine that improperly dipped into customer accounts to finance reckless bets on European debt. Koch, one of MF Global's top clients, reportedly told trading partners it was switching accounts about a month before the brokerage declared bankruptcy – then the eighth-largest in U.S. history. Koch says the decision to pull its funds from MF Global was made more than a year before. While MF's small-fry clients had to pick at the carcass of Corzine's company to recoup their assets, Koch was already swimming free and clear.

Because it's private, no one outside of Koch Industries knows how much risk Koch is taking – or whether it could conceivably create systemic risk, a concern raised in 2013 by the head of the Futures Industry Association. But this much is for certain: Because of the loopholes in financial-regulatory reform, the next company to put the American economy at risk may not be a Wall Street bank but a trading giant like Koch. In 2012, Gary Gensler, then CFTC chair, railed against the very loopholes Koch appears to be exploiting, raising the specter of AIG. "[AIG] had this massive risk built up in its derivatives just because it called itself an insurance company rather than a bank," Gensler said. When Congress adopted Dodd-Frank, Gensler added, it never intended to exempt financial heavy hitters just because "somebody calls themselves an insurance

In "the science of success," Charles Koch highlights the problems created when property owners "don't benefit from all the value they create and don't bear the full cost from whatever value they destroy." He is particularly concerned about the "tragedy of the commons," in which shared resources are abused because there's no individual accountability. "The biggest problems in society," he writes, "have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air. . . ."

But in the real world, Koch Industries has used its political might to beat back the very market-based mechanisms – including a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution – needed to create the ownership rights for pollution that Charles says would improve the functioning of capitalism.

In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.

The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries' profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America's most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: "I'm going to ride my bicycle till I fall off."

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 09:20 AM 
Started by AndreaManik - Last post by Gonzalo
Hola Andrea

A mi parecer ella se encuentra en la 2da etapa individuada, pero tal vez tenga aún aspectos de las 1era subetapa ya que durante las sesiones de reflexología que le he realizado me ha hecho comentarios que me hacen suponer que le ha costado en su vida asumirse diferente, claro que eso también podría tener que ver con Plutón en la XI no?

“….. me ha hecho comentarios que me hacen suponer que le ha costado en su vida asumirse diferente, claro que eso también podría tener que ver con Plutón en la XI no?”

Con Plutón estando en la Casa XI, el Nodo Sur en la Casa IX, y la Luna, regente del Nodo Sur, en la Casa IV en Acuario, a partir de la primera sub-etapa Individuada (y hasta la tercera sub-etapa Espiritual), existirá una intensa alienación respecto a la sociedad de nacimiento, la familia, etc. Es decir, el Alma sí se sentirá diferente, sentirá que no ‘encaja’, etc.

Esta sensación de ser diferente, de no encajar, puede gatillar, y ha gatillado en el pasado, inseguridad emocional: Nodo Sur en Cáncer, la Luna en la Casa IV en Acuario.  Esto ocurrirá también en las distintas etapas evolutivas.

La respuesta a esa inseguridad emocional, basada en sentirse y ser diferente del consenso, será distinta
dependiendo de la condición evolutiva del Alma. Si el Alma estuviera en la primera sub-etapa Individuada, habría una duplicidad potencial en la respuesta, en la cual, el Alma, incluso sintiéndose diferente, intentaría encajar socialmente en los términos del Consenso, y ‘parecer’ ‘normal’: Saturno/Venus en Géminis-dualidad-en la Casa VII-la persona social. Aquí el Plutón de la Casa XI, en Virgo, reflejaría no sentirse ‘preparada’ para asumir su diferencia, y se traduciría en querer mantener las formas de ser del consenso, y de grupos conservadores dentro del Consenso, Plutón en la Casa XI, la Luna en Acuario. Esto por supuesto impactaría en diversas dinámicas, en la inserción social, en los patrones de relación con otras personas, en los patrones de relación del Alma consigo misma. Existirían sentimientos de culpabilidad debido a esta ‘duplicidad’: Plutón en Virgo, Júpiter Rx en Cap en la Casa II, Saturno/Venus Rx, el Nodo Sur de Venus en la Casa X, basados en el sentimiento interior de no ser totalmente honesta en las formas de presentarse a si misma, de haberse escondido de ciertas formas -el regente del Nodo Sur de Venus en Leo en la Casa X es el Sol en Cáncer en la Casa VIII, este Sol rige la Casa X y está en cuadratura con Plutón dentro de la fase Diseminante- y tipos de relaciones en los que ha sentido que de ciertas formas no ha sido totalmente honesta, o en los que han existido manipulaciones a fin de preservar una apariencia: Plutón en cuadratura con Venus, Venus en la Casa VII en Géminis conjunto a Saturno, el nodo sur de Venus en la Casa IX, conjunto a la cúspide de la Casa X, en Leo, regido por el Sol en la Casa VIII. Estos sentimientos de culpabilidad también impactarían en los patrones de relación en curso, y los tipos de relaciones que ha atraído,  incluyendo relaciones en que han existido dinámicas de abuso ligados a una respuesta masoquista basada en la culpabilidad: Marte conjunto al Nodo Sur, regente de Aries que está en la Casa VI de Virgo, en trígono con Neptuno en la Casa I, el Nodo Sur de Marte en la Casa XI está en Libra, conjunto a Plutón/Juno, regido por Venus Rx en la Casa VII conjunto a Saturno, etc. Existiría un nivel de trauma no resuelto de vidas pasadas ligados a estas dinámicas: Urano en la Casa XI en Libra y los aspectos que forma, como la cuadratura al Sol en Cáncer en la Casa VIII, etc. Existiría un intenso nivel de racionalización respecto al porqué de la necesidad de las asociaciones y relaciones en curso: el eje nodal de las Casas IX a III, Marte/Mercurio en la Casa IX, el gran trígono de los planetas de Libra, Géminis y Acuario.   

Brevemente, si el Alma se encuentra en la segunda sub-etapa Individuada, la situación sería distinta, debido a que existiría como orientación pre-existente una intensa rebelión contra el consenso, y una identificación radical con la rebelión en curso y con sus bases filosóficas: Plutón en la Casa XI, en Virgo, el Nodo sur de la Casa IX, en Cáncer, la Luna, regente del Nodo Sur, en Acuario en trígono con Urano en la Casa XI, en Libra. La conjunción de Marte al Nodo Sur en la Casa IX refleja también la intensidad de esta rebelión, y alienación respecto a la sociedad de consenso, rabia emocional por sentir que no se puede integrar-Plutón en la Casa XI en Virgo (desde un punto de vista Individuado, Virgo se correlaciona también forma directa con querer cambiar-mejorar-el ‘sistema’). Los patrones de relación serían también distintos. Existiría PTSD de vidas pasadas basado en traumas creados a través de estos tipos de dinámicas, y otras, incluyendo patrones de relación en los que ha existido este nivel de rebelión contra el consenso, y familias formadas a través de estas relaciones. Existirían sentimientos de culpabilidad pero estos habrían sido reprimidos/alienados debido a la necesidad sentida de liberación/rebelión.   

Parece interesante considerar brevemente como podría ser esto si el Alma estuviera en la tercera sub-etapa Individuada. Si ese fuera el caso, un notable desarrollo de ciertas capacidades-el gran trígono de Aire, respecto al eje nodal en las Casas IX/III y Plutón en la Casa XI, los diversos aspectos quintiles-coexistiría con el sentimiento de no estar ‘preparada’ para abrazar tipos de deseos, y roles basados en estas capacidades. La inseguridad emocional no resuelta, en combinación con el impacto de distintos tipos de traumas de vidas pasadas, mantendría en lugar dinámicas de alienación emocional, y de retraimiento respecto a la sociedad, o de roles personalmente significativos respecto a lo social-el Nodo Sur en la Casa IX en Cáncer regido por la Luna en la Casa IV, Plutón en la Casa XI- y una respuesta compensatoria –Casa IX-a través de crear una autoimagen y estilo de vida sofisticado. A la vez, junto con esas capacidades desarrolladas, existiría una crisis respecto a la validez o relevancia de las comprensiones filosóficas/intelectuales, proveniente de vidas pasadas en que el Alma se sintió muy ‘segura’ en base a asociaciones colectivas de identidad ligada a filosofías y formas de pensamiento que promovían cambio social, y luego, haber experimentado traumas en relación con estas comprensiones y asociaciones, creando experiencias de ‘humillación’ las cuales entre otras cosas han inducido un intenso nivel de ‘duda’ : Plutón en Virgo, el Nodo Sur en la Casa IX en Cáncer, regido por la Luna que forma una sesquicuadratura con el Plutón de Virgo, Neptuno Rx en Sagitario en la Casa I, que forma una sesquicuadratura con Quirón en la Casa V, el que a su vez está en sesquicuadratura con Ceres en la Casa X en Virgo, el Nodo Sur en la Casa III de Mercurio, formando una sesquicuadratura con Saturno en Géminis en la Casa VII-aspectos que se correlacionan con una crisis basada en la necesidad de humilizar o humillar el ego, y que en este caso está conectada con la interpretación/comprensión filosófica/intelectual. Junto con este aspecto de esta crisis, está el impacto directo de las dinámicas/situaciones de persecución por el consenso social. Plutón está en Virgo en la Casa XI, y está en cuadratura con Júpiter Rx dentro de la fase del Primer Cuarto. Entonces, existiría una serie de temas interiormente no resueltos de naturaleza filosófica, y niveles de confusión, que en combinación con ‘fragmentación’ interior resultante de los tipos de traumas de vidas pasadas, generarían distintos tipos de pensamiento/lenguaje, un relativo nivel de conflicto entre el hemisferio izquierdo y derecho del cerebro con cambios de perspectiva, etc.   

“Ella acudió a hacerse reflexología porque se encontraba pasando por un cuadro ansioso y de estrés, pero cuando hicimos lectura de pie se abrió en la conversación un tema que ha tenido oculto porque no lo sabe con certeza, que es haber sufrido posibles abusos sexuales de su padre. La hermana se encuentra actualmente en un proceso similar ya que ella también tiene la misma sensación de haber sido abusada por él. Mónica tiene una hija a la cual siempre le costó darle cariño físico porque temía sentir algo sexual por ella, cada vez que se acercaba tenía una sensación extraña.

Mi primer planteamiento acerca de su carta fue pensar que en vidas anteriores ha tenido la intención de liberarse de los condicionamientos sociales que le han impedido a acceder a su verdadera esencia- Pluton en XI- y que tal vez para eso vivió de manera alienada a través de alguna filosofía que la ayudara a identificarse consigo misma y no con la sociedad, o perteneció a pequeños grupos ideológicos que le brindaran seguridad y sentido de pertenencia, o también pudo haber nacido en familias pertenecientes a grupos ideológicos rupturistas-Plutón en Virgo en casa XI en cuadratura a Júpiter y nodo sur en Cáncer en la IX y su regente, la Luna en Acuario y casa IV. También la cuadratura de Plutón a Júpiter en casa II- Capricornio y al Sol en la VIII podría sugerir que pudo haber querido tomar un rol de poder en relación al grupo minoritario filosófico al cual haya pertenecido? E incluso imponer su visión estrecha o rígida de la realidad?- Júpiter en Capricornio en II, esto sumado al nodo sur en conjunción a mercurio-marte en leo?.

“También la cuadratura de Plutón a Júpiter en casa II- Capricornio y al Sol en la VIII podría sugerir que pudo haber querido tomar un rol de poder en relación al grupo minoritario filosófico al cual haya pertenecido? E incluso imponer su visión estrecha o rígida de la realidad?- Júpiter en Capricornio en II, esto sumado al nodo sur en conjunción a mercurio-marte en leo?.”

Si, roles de liderazgo, también porque el punto de polaridad de Plutón, actualizado en vidas pasadas a través de los aspectos al Nodo Norte, está en la Casa V de Leo, Quirón está en Aries en la Casa V en oposición a Urano.

“Respecto a la trinidad del futuro, las nuevas intenciones evolutivas del alma de Mónica podría ser la necesidad de hacerse responsable de su vida, de sentir que puede co-crear su destino, de forma individual y no dependiente de un grupo que la respalde por pensar de la misma manera? …”

Seguro, aunque habría variaciones dependiendo del estado o condición evolutiva en el rango que mencionas, según lo antes dicho. También, con el Nodo Norte en Capricornio y Saturno en la Casa VII, respecto al punto de polaridad de Plutón en la Casa V en Piscis es fundamental para el Alma abrazar tipos de roles o funciones personales, y sanar-Piscis- un sentido de propósito personal para vivir, que esté ligado a como aportar a la sociedad de nuevas formas–Capricornio-en vez de tener que retraerse. Lucifer también está en la Casa XI, en Virgo, conjunto a Plutón. Esta sería una forma de Karma Yoga. Debido a que el Nodo Norte está en la Casa III, y su regente, Saturno en la Casa VII, está en Géminis, estas formas estarán basadas en dar o compartir formas de conocimiento, comprensiones-el Gran Trígono de Aire. Debido al énfasis de los arquetipos de las Casas IX/III, Júpiter/Mercurio .. está en juego no sólo la integración en dinámicas sociales relevantes personalmente, sino que estas formas serían también vehículo para el procesamiento/resolución de una crisis de sentido y perspectiva ligado a comprensiones pasadas, a través de dar a otros lo que sirve a otros, y de esta forma permitir la realización de nuevas comprensiones que sí sean relevantes en términos personales-conocer lo desconocido-el punto de polaridad de Plutón en Piscis, Neptuno en Sagitario en la Casa I, un nuevo ciclo. La Casa VII, dar a otros de formas que al dar a otros las propias necesidades también sea satisfechas a través del vehículo de dar.   

“… dada por la polaridad de Plutón en la casa V- y además la necesidad de disolver ilusiones que haya tenido en el pasado respecto a la pertenencia a grupos diferentes del consenso- polaridad de Plutón en piscis- y conocer lo que no conoce de si misma en relación a su autorealización creativa; además que Neptuno se encuentra en casa I, comenzando un nuevo ciclo, y formando parte de su identidad instintiva, que además se encuentra en trígono con marte conjunto a mercurio. Este punto polar de Plutón en piscis en la V junto a la cuadratura de Plutón-venus en la VII, podrá dar la posibilidad de que ella necesite partir primero por amarse a si misma de manera incondicional, puesto que en vidas anteriores su necesidad de amor ha estado proyectada en otros y de manera condicional?”

Sí, y a la vez necesita, evolutivamente, de una orientación a dar a los demás. La cuadratura de Plutón/Venus, con Venus en la Casa VII de Libra, está en la fase Diseminante, que se correlaciona con el todo de la sociedad. En el pasado sí han existido deseos de dar a los demás lo que los demás necesitan-Plutón en la Casa XI en Virgo, el Nodo Sur de Plutón en Capricornio en la Casa III, regido por Saturno en la Casa VII. También han existido deseos de recibir de los demás, expectativas, que no se han cumplido, y necesidades que no se han satisfecho: el regente de la Casa VII, Venus, Rx conjunto a Saturno, rige la Casa XII.   

“Luego con el nodo norte en casa III y capricornio y su regente Saturno en géminis y casa VII conjunto a venus, podría ser una posibilidad que las nuevas intenciones evolutivas sean poder integrar las visiones, opiniones, pensamientos de otros, las regulaciones humanas en general, las normas de relación de uno a uno, para poder integrarse a la sociedad?, esa es otra duda que tengo.”

La forma dependería del nivel evolutivo. En general, el punto de polaridad de Plutón en la Casa V, el Nodo Norte en Capricornio en la Casa III en trígono con Plutón y su regente, Saturno, en Géminis en la Casa VII en trígono con el Nodo Norte, se correlacionan con actualizar formas personales, basadas en lo que Alma ya tiene-su propia visión, sus capacidades, sus propias síntesis- para dar a los demás. Hay que decir que esto coexistiría con el deseo y la necesidad de cultivar una vida privada, personal, profunda: el punto de polaridad de Plutón en la Casa V en Piscis, el Sol en la Casa VIII en Cáncer, la Luna en la Casa IV en Acuario-desde la cual abordar y sanar las heridas emocionales que vienen del pasado, y obtener la dirección interior necesaria sobre cuáles son las formas a través de las cuales actualizarse como medios para dar a los demás. Y por supuesto los deseos de dar también coexistirían con deseos naturales de recibir.   

“Y acá tengo otra duda respecto a Plutón en virgo y casa XI cuadrando a Venus y éste en cuadratura a Saturno en la VII en géminis. Puede ser que en vidas pasadas el alma de Mónica por la necesidad de seguridad emocional se haya subyugado a parejas que la sometieran? Me imagino con estos aspectos a ella siendo pareja de alguien perteneciente a un grupo de ideas apegadas al pasado, donde puede haber vivido maltratos, abusos, por ser tratada como un ser inferior, o haber ella permitido esos abusos por sentirse inferior- Plutón en Virgo-“

En la carta natal hay dinámicas de vidas pasadas de ese tipo, según lo dicho antes. 

“Y en relación al posible abuso sexual por parte de su padre en esta vida podría atribuirse a estos aspectos? Plutón en la XI en cuadratura a Venus en la VII me hace pensar en abusos de pareja y no padre pero al estar Venus conjunto a Saturno y éste al ser el regente del nodo norte si podría significar eso?, es aquí donde también me pierdo, ya que además tiendo a relacionar los traumas sexuales con escorpio… y por ese lado podría tener relación además con la cuadratura de Plutón al Sol en la casa VIII, con la vivencia de un padre autoritario y abusador?”

Yo diría que los símbolos que mencionas sí se correlacionan, en esta carta natal, con situaciones de abuso a través de figuras parentales en vidas pasadas. Además, el Sol de la Casa VIII que está en cuadratura con Plutón-regente de la Casa I de Marte-rige la Casa X de Saturno, Saturno está conjunto a Venus y rige a Júpiter Rx en Capricornio en la Casa II  el cual está en inconjunción con Marte en Leo, regido por ese Sol, y es el regente de la Casa VI. Saturno forma una semicuadratura con Marte. Plutón en Virgo en la Casa es regente del Ascendente en Escorpio, y también hay una serie de aspectos septiles que reflejan el potencial de recreación de este tipo de experiencias/traumas en la vida presente: Neptuno en la Casa I está en septil con el Nodo Norte en Capricornio, Júpiter en la Casa II en Capricornio en biseptil con Quirón en Aries. También, y dependiendo del nivel evolutivo, podría tener relevancia discutir dinámicas de vidas pasadas más antiguas, y la crisis de la sexualidad natural humana en la transición entre la organización social matriarcal, y la regulación patriarcal de familia/sexualidad y los patrones de relación resultantes, así como diversos tipos de traumas ligados a esa transición-Plutón en la Casa XI, el Nodo Sur en Cáncer, conjunto a Marte ambos en la Casa IX, el Nodo Sur regido por la Luna en Acuario en la Casa IV, conjunta al Nodo Sur de Neptuno, con Neptuno en la Casa I en Sagitario, Quirón en Aries en la Casa V, etc.

Bendiciones, Gonzalo

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 08:18 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by cat777
Hi Rad and Group,

I realized I wasn't even writing the correct assignment. I was writing Saturn in Aries in the 10th House for some reason. I had some time and inspiration tonight so was able to fix that and write a more complete piece. I deleted the previous version. Here is the re-write:


The 10th house correlates to an individual’s inner image of his or her role in life as well as with the sociological role he or she chooses to play. This sociological role is known as one’s career in modern western civilization. Today, both men and women in Western society are likely to have one or more careers over the course of their lives. In relation to modern western society, one’s career is understood to be his or her occupation, profession, vocation, or line of work. Not everyone has what we have come to understand as a “career.”  In the not so distant past, women in western society were expected to stay home and take care of the house and family while the men were expected to pursue some type of work that enabled him to support the family. This work was just that, it was work but not necessarily what we now think of as a profession of career. With these thoughts in mind, it is best to think of the 10th House as correlating to one’s sociological role rather than as one’s “career,” as not everyone chooses to pursue a career, but everyone has a role to play in life.

In terms of the modern day “career”, this means having to “pay one’s dues” before being promoted into a position of leadership or attaining a position of status and prestige. In relation to the past or more “primitive cultures”, it may have meant having to patiently wait for an elder person to pass on before being allowed to play the same role. In any case, no matter what sign is on the 10th House, the individual is determined to succeed and establish their individuality and authority in society through the sociological role they see themselves in.

The 10th House represents where we want to assert our authority as well as how we go about asserting our authority. In order to advance and attain a position of authority all individuals must first learn to accept responsibility for their own actions. An individual with Aries on the MC will go about this in an instinctual and impulsive manner. The individual requires a great deal of freedom and independence in order to experience whatever is necessary for him or her to learn these lessons. For the most part, these learning experiences will come about via the individual’s relationships with other people. Through these relationships, the Aries on the MC individual will experience limitations which serve to force him or her to reflect and realize that such limitations are self-created rather than something to be blamed on other people. The ease in which these lessons will be learned is dependent upon the evolutionary stage of the soul.  Until the individual begins to accept responsibility for his or her own actions, he or she will be blocked from advancing in his or her career or fulfilling the sociological role he or she desires to play in society.

In addition to learning to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, the 10th House demands that an individual reflect  upon his or her personal judgments and the standards of conduct that these are based upon. The individual must learn to recognize that these judgments are mental and emotional attitudes and responses based upon conditioning patterns and nothing more than that.  The individual with Aries on the MC will learn these lessons through his or her relationships with other people for the most part. It is through these relationships that the individual will eventually come to realize how his or her judgment patterns impact both himself and others and may have a negative or limiting effect on his or her growth. Until these lessons are learned, the individual with Aries on the MC will be prevented from advancing in his or her career as quickly as he or she would like to.

In order to fulfill his or her potential as a leader, it is important that the individual with Aries on the MC learn to listen to others and give according to the needs of the other person. Again, these lessons will be learned through the individual’s relationships with other people and will involve lessons in equality in which the individual will have to learn to listen and relate to other people who are both his superiors and subordinates. Although the individual with Aries on the MC wants to be in-charge and resents authority figures, he or she must learn to respect those in authority or he or she is likely to be blocked or otherwise prevented from achieving his or her goals as a consequence of failing to do so. This is where learning to listen and give according to another’s needs is so very important. The individual needs to learn to work in partnership with others rather than merely working towards satisfying his or her own self-interests.

The 10th House is where all souls are sensitive to public opinion and have either a conscious or unconscious fear of failure. Although an individual with Aries on the MC pursues his or her career goals in an aggressive and outwardly confident manner, he or she has an innate fear of failure which motivates him or her to work harder and harder. The individual with Aries on the MC wants to be important and wants others to perceive him or her as someone who is very important as he or she was born feeling special in some way. This sense of specialness and importance is usually, but not always, accompanied by a desire for social status and material advantage as well. In any case, the individual with Aries in the 10th House desires to be the best and succeed in everything he or she attempts to do. The individual is therefore very competitive, yet has innate fear or failure and may have an inferiority complex as well.

Although the individual with Aries on the MC may not “get ahead” and advance into a position of leadership and authority as quickly as he or she likes, or thinks they deserve, there is probably no one more determined than he or she to do so. The Aries on the MC individual has a great deal of determination and is willing to work hard in order to fulfill his or her career goals. Once the individual learns the necessary lessons needed in order for him or her to rise to the top, he or she has the potential to become a leader of others no matter what role he or she chooses to play.


 on: Sep 30, 2014, 08:04 AM 
Started by AndreaManik - Last post by Gonzalo
Hola Andrea

Aquí estoy poniendo la carta natal con los Nodos planetarios.

Volveré luego sobre las preguntas.

Bendiciones, Gonzalo

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 07:33 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Falcon has cataract surgery, gets new lenses

Monitor staff
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

With a huff, and a puff, and a cock of her head to the side, Banner the lanner falcon announced yesterday at 4 p.m. that yes, she had made it through her surgery just fine, thank you. Would everyone please stop staring at her now?

Banner, who belongs to Jim and Nancy Cowan at the New Hampshire School of Falconry in Deering, is the first falcon in the world to have cataract surgery. She’s had a cataract in each of her eyes for almost two years, and without her sight, she hasn’t been able to hunt or even fly.

Yesterday, a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians carefully drugged her, cut into her cornea, removed the cloudy protein and implanted a uniquely designed artificial lens, and sewed her cornea shut again.

“It amazes me how strong she is,” Nancy Cowan said as she watched Banner’s clear dark eyes scan the crowded hallway. “Lanners have a reputation as quiet birds, and I think it works for her, that temperament, that she’s a bit sweeter than other falcons.”

Banner’s ground-breaking surgery was originally scheduled for February, but was postponed several times as the team worked to perfect the shape and size of the artificial lens, and battled health problems of their own. George Messenger of Fisherville Animal Hospital, who supervised the anesthesia, underwent heart surgery this summer, and Ruth Marrion, a Massachusetts-based veterinary ophthalmologist, performed the surgery yesterday seated, because she broke her leg last month.

Seven people hovered over Banner in the operating room yesterday, and dozens more – in Montreal, California, Ohio, Germany and Abu Dhabi – were involved in designing the artificial lenses, which had to match precise measurements.

I-Med, a Canadian ophthalmology supply manufacturer, donated the lenses, which are about 6 millimeters wide. Capital Area Veterinary Emergency Services in Concord donated the operating room and supplies. Messenger and Marrion both donated their time yesterday and at several appointments over the summer preparing for the main event.

A lens has two parts: a thin covering called the capsule, which is like a baggie, and the contents, which are normally clear like a raw egg white. The dense contents help the eye focus light and draw crisp images to the optic nerve.

A lens with a cataract is like a baggie filled with cooked egg white, letting only limited light through to the nerve.

Marrion cut a tiny hole through the baggie and vacuumed out the opaque contents. Then, she folded the flexible artificial lens, slipped it through the small hole and placed it in the baggie, which should hold it in place as if it were spring-loaded.

The hourlong surgery went smoothly and the vets and technicians chatted as each step went exactly according to plan.

But Messenger wasn’t ready to celebrate until after the very last step – extubating, or removing the breathing tube in Banner’s throat that allowed them to pump anesthesia to her. The process is crucially important and incredibly delicate, he said.

“It’s called last stitch syndrome: You’re suturing someone up and on that last stitch, it could all go wrong,” he said.

He had to suck on the tube as he withdrew it to ensure mucus that had built up inside it wouldn’t fall into her throat and block her airway. Then, veterinary technician Shaela Messenger wrapped the bird in a pink towel and carried her out into the hallway. The Cowans and all of the veterinary staff smiled and chatted.

But a few minutes later, Shaela calmly whispered to George Messenger that the bird wasn’t waking up, and the two walked silently and purposefully to the incubator. In the dark heated cage, Banner could stay warm without being held, and might be more likely to wake up, they said.

Cowan pulled on her falconer’s glove and shifted her weight impatiently from one foot to the other. Banner, still wrapped in the towel, opened her feathered eyelids halfway and waggled her head side to side. Then, she stood, wobbling a little, puffed out her chest and stretched her wings, filling the cage.

Within minutes, Cowan reached into the incubator and loaded Banner onto the glove.

They’ll have to give her anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few weeks and make sure her eyelids don’t become too irritated by the sutures in her corneas. The Cowans both cried with relief at the first sign Banner had survived the surgery.

“When we first started looking for help, we heard a lot of anecdotal, ‘well, it can’t be done,’ ” Jim Cowan said.

As Nancy held the bird on her glove, he shook a leather tassel a few feet away, and smiled gleefully when Banner turned toward it.

“You can see something all right,” he said. “You can see something.”

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 07:09 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Paralyzed children are latest worry as virus spreads in U.S.

This isn’t the first time the virus has been linked to paralysis. Until now, though, such cases have been extremely rare.

By Shannon Pettypiece and Kelly Gilblom
Bloomberg News

As public health officials struggle to track and contain a respiratory virus that has hospitalized hundreds of children across the U.S., there are now concerns that the illness may also cause paralysis in some cases.

In Missouri, doctors are investigating whether Enterovirus D68 caused three children to develop paralysis in their limbs this month, Mary Anne Jackson, director of the division of infectious disease at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, said in a telephone interview. In Colorado, officials are examining at least 10 similar cases of severe muscle weakness and limb paralysis, according to Children’s Hospital Colorado.

While the virus has been confirmed in all but 10 states, with 277 cases, the actual number is likely much higher with at least one hospital in Colorado seeing thousands of suspected cases, health authorities said. Testing facilities have been overwhelmed with samples and only the sickest are being tested.

“We don’t even have our finger on the pulse of how extensive this is, we have a guess,” said Jackson, whose hospital has treated more than 700 suspected cases and was among the first to report an outbreak of the virus. “We are in a very dynamic period right now.”

The enterovirus is related to the common cold, and this strain has hit children hardest. Most only experience symptoms such as a runny nose, though a small percentage develop trouble breathing and have to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

The possibility of paralysis adds another layer to the mystery around the virus as it has spread across the nation, and why it has caused such severe illness in so many children.

The Colorado and Missouri patients showed similar symptoms to other enterovirus patients one to two weeks before developing their paralysis. In Colorado, at least four of the paralyzed children tested positive for EV-D68 through nasal swabs. In Missouri, doctors haven’t been able to confirm the diagnosis with lab testing, and are still investigating to find out whether the patients had this strain of enterovirus or another infection, Jackson said.

The children in the Denver area hit by the virus have shown a range of symptoms with some unable to move their hand to their mouth while others lost the use of several limbs or had difficulty breathing or swallowing, said Joyce Oleszek, a pediatric rehabilitation specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. There are no cases where the children are completely immobile. It is too early to tell yet if the muscle loss will be permanent, she said.

“The question is how many, if any, of them will have permanent neurological damage,” Oleszek said at a press conference.

The CDC said that no patients tested positive for the virus in their spinal fluid. The patients also tested negative for polio and West Nile virus.

This isn’t the first time the virus has been linked to paralysis. Until now, though, such cases have been extremely rare, Jackson said. In April, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco reported that the virus was detected in at least two children who suddenly lost the function in an arm or leg.

Despite such reports, paralysis still isn’t a confirmed symptom, said Rafal Tokarz, a researcher at Columbia University who has studied enterovirus. He said further testing is needed to know for sure whether the virus is the cause of the paralysis cases seen in Colorado.

Enterovirus D68 was first seen in 1962. There is no vaccine, and no specific medicine approved to treat it. The latest outbreak began in the Midwest, with clusters of cases in Kansas City and Chicago.

Hospitals across the country since August have reported children showing up at emergency rooms struggling to breathe. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, 4,000 children have been treated at the emergency room since Aug. 18 with severe respiratory illness and 10 percent have been admitted, said Chris Nyquist, the hospital’s director of infection prevention and control. At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, seven times the average number of children have been admitted to the intensive care unit for respiratory illness, said Angie Anania, a spokeswoman.

In central New York, there have been days when all the beds in the pediatric and intensive care units in the area were full, said Jana Shaw, a pediatrician at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, though the number of cases may be slowing.

Health officials are encouraging the standard approach to good hygiene to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, including regular hand washing, limiting time with ill people and staying home when sick. Parents should watch for signs their children are having trouble breathing or wheezing.

“Here is where you have control, you can have children wash hands, avoid sick people, make sure children have asthma medication on hand,” Nyquist said. “The current virus that is circulating has no anti-viral medicine or vaccine so the common sense things are very important.”

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 06:57 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Kristin and Skywalker..........

I will wait until Cat posts before I comment on what you both, and Linda, have submitted.

God Bless, Rad

 on: Sep 30, 2014, 06:48 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
In the USA...............United Surveillance America

Many Missteps in Assessment of ISIS Threat

SEPT. 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.

But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”

The White House denies that, but the threat certainly has its attention now as American warplanes pound the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State in hopes of reversing its lightning-swift seizing of territory in Iraq and Syria. Still, even as bombs fall from the sky thousands of miles away, the question of how it failed to anticipate the rise of a militant force that in the space of a few months has redrawn the map of the Middle East resonates inside and outside the Obama administration.


“ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Falluja.” — Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, director of Defense Intelligence Agency, in his annual threat assessment to Congress in February.

President Obama fueled the debate in an interview broadcast over the weekend when he said that intelligence agencies had underestimated the peril posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Mr. Obama accurately quoted James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, acknowledging that he and his analysts did not foresee the stunning success of Islamic State forces or the catastrophic collapse of the Iraqi Army.

But by pointing to the agencies without mentioning any misjudgments of his own, Mr. Obama left intelligence officials bristling about being made into scapegoats and critics complaining that he was trying to avoid responsibility.

“This was not an intelligence community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat,” said Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

A spokesman denied on Monday that Mr. Obama was blaming intelligence agencies in his interview on “60 Minutes” on CBS News. “That is not what the president’s intent was,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “What the president was trying to make clear” was “how difficult it is to predict the will of security forces that are based in another country to fight.”

Mr. Earnest added that “the president’s commander in chief and he’s the one who takes responsibility” for ensuring the national security based on the information provided by intelligence analysts. “And the president continues to have the highest degree of confidence in our intelligence community to continue to provide that advice,” he said.

Caught Off Guard

A reconstruction of the past year suggests a number of pivotal moments when both the White House and the intelligence community misjudged the Islamic State. Even after the group’s fighters stormed across the border into Iraq at the start of the year to capture the city of Falluja and parts of Ramadi, the White House considered it a problem that could be contained.

Intelligence agencies were caught off guard by the speed of the extremists’ subsequent advance across northern Iraq. And the government as a whole was largely focused on the group as a source of foreign fighters who might pose a terrorism threat when they returned home, not as a force intent on seizing territory.

“I’m not suggesting anyone was asleep at the switch necessarily, but the organization definitely achieved strategic surprise when it rolled into Iraq,” said Frederic C. Hof, who previously handled Syria policy for the State Department under Mr. Obama and is now at the Atlantic Council.

In interviews in recent weeks, administration officials privately agreed that they had not focused enough on the Islamic State’s territorial ambitions but said they were hamstrung in responding by an Iraqi government that was fanning the sectarian divide that helped give rise to the Sunni extremists in the first place.

While Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki asked for American weaponry and airstrikes, both Mr. Obama and Congress reacted negatively. The White House resisted being seen by Sunnis as “Maliki’s air force,” as a number of officials put it. Instead, they pressed Mr. Maliki not only to respond militarily but also to create a more inclusive government that would undercut support for the Islamic State even as the country headed toward elections.

“It was frustrating because we recognized that there was a need to do more and do it more quickly, but the Iraqi go-slow approach made that a challenge,” said a senior administration official, who like others insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “That was something we were constantly pushing up against.”

The Islamic State was born out of the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was crippled by the time Mr. Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011. The civil war that erupted in neighboring Syria pitting President Bashar al-Assad against a variety of rebel organizations provided a haven for the Qaeda affiliate to reconstitute itself with an influx of foreign fighters.

“To anyone watching developments in Iraq from mid-2010 and Syria from early 2011, the recovery and rise of ISIS should have been starkly clear,” said Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. “The organization itself was also carrying out an explicitly clear step-by-step strategy aimed at engendering the conditions that would feed its accelerated rise.”

Iraqi Resistance

Administration officials said that they tried to “get our foot back in the door” in Iraq after the troop withdrawal, as one put it, to create a joint counterterrorism effort, but that Baghdad was eager to be rid of the Americans and resisted. In 2012, when there were roughly five suicide bombings in Iraq a month, that did not seem to be a major issue. But a year later, there were as many as 50 a month as the Syrian war increasingly spilled over the border.

“There were a lot of us saying this is a real massive problem,” said another senior official. “The Syria policy people are so focused on taking down Assad, they were blind to this problem.”

The United States resumed surveillance flights in Iraq in 2013 but flew them only occasionally because of Iraqi sensibilities. “It was a walk instead of a run,” a different official said. An effort to create a joint intelligence center to share information proved modest. Mr. Maliki asked for F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, but Congress was hesitant.

Mr. Obama pushed Mr. Maliki to modify his own autocratic governing style. “The president really hammered him,” the official said.

By late December, alarm over deteriorating security in Iraq was growing and the United States quietly rushed dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to help Baghdad combat an explosion of violence. Intelligence officials were warning in classified reports at the time that the Islamic State had become a potent force in northern and western Iraq, with armed convoys intimidating towns, assassinating local officials and using explosives to kill Iraqi soldiers.

On New Year’s Day, convoys of up to 100 trucks flying the black flag of Al Qaeda and armed with mounted heavy machine guns and antiaircraft guns stormed into Falluja and Ramadi as they sought to establish an Islamic caliphate stretching across national borders. Their victories sent a chill through the American military, which had fought some of its bloodiest battles in that part of Iraq.

“Falluja and Ramadi had huge emotional resonance for our veterans, and now the Iraqis were losing it,” said a senior Defense Department official.

And yet American officials said there was no serious talk of intervening directly at the time. Since Falluja and Ramadi had long been hotbeds of Sunni extremist sentiment, American officials assumed the Islamic State could be checked there and eventually rolled back.

Intelligence agencies warned against such an assumption. “ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Falluja,” Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in his annual threat assessment to Congress on Feb. 11.

Even so, Mr. Obama was determined not to let the United States be dragged back into a war that he had opposed from the start and that he had promised during his first campaign for the White House to end. After five years in office, aides said, Mr. Obama was convinced that the United States was too quick to pull the military lever whenever it confronted a foreign crisis. He would not repeat what he considered the mistake of his predecessor President George W. Bush.

While he would help Iraq’s government, he would not use American military force nor would he escalate involvement in Syria’s brutal civil war after having decided the previous fall to call off a plan to launch a missile strike against Mr. Assad’s government in retaliation for using chemical weapons on civilians. Government officials referred to that as the “nonstrike incident” and told foreign policy experts last spring that the president would take a “minimalist approach” to Syria.

By spring, Iraqi forces had reached a stalemate against Islamic State forces in the west, and Mr. Maliki reversed course and asked the Obama administration to intervene directly. In a May 11 meeting with Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III and American diplomats, Mr. Maliki asked that Iraq be provided the ability to operate drones; if the United States was unwilling to do that, then he indicated he was prepared for the United States to carry out strikes itself. He later made the same point to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and sent a written request.

At the time, Mr. Obama was not open to such a move. He gave a speech at West Point eschewing what he deemed the overuse of American force to solve world problems. But he promised more aid to moderate Syrian rebels. The White House sent a proposal for a $500 million program to train and equip the rebels back to the Pentagon several times, but the president eventually announced it.

By then, though, it was too late. On June 10, thousands of Sunni militants poured over the border from Syria and seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Armed gunmen then headed south toward Baghdad and east toward the autonomous region of Kurdistan. The Iraqi Army crumbled in the face of the assault, as soldiers dropped their weapons, shed their uniforms and fled.

“We were surprised by their regional ambitions, the speed of their advance into Mosul and the collapse of the Iraqi security forces,” said a senior Army general with combat experience in Iraq.

The Turning Point

Speaking at a symposium months later, Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, suggested that the intelligence community had underestimated the Islamic State’s transformation “from an insurgency to an organization that was now also focused on holding ground territory.

“It’s an area we talked about,” he said, “but in hindsight, I wish we had been a little — I’ll only speak for me and for N.S.A. — I wish we’d been a little stronger about.”

The Mosul takeover proved to be the turning point for Mr. Obama. He began to consider intervening directly to prevent Baghdad itself from falling. “That was a very galvanizing moment for us,” a senior official said.

Further complicating the situation were the American hostages held by the Islamic State. Even as Mr. Obama began contemplating airstrikes in Iraq, he authorized a secret Special Forces operation into Syria in July to try to rescue the hostages. His top aides watched the operation unfold from the Situation Room, only to be deflated when the troops found no hostages. “Dry hole,” came the dispiriting news over the radio.

As Islamic State forces continued to march across Iraq and threatened civilian massacres, Mr. Obama ordered American airstrikes. He had largely concluded, his aides said, that he would have to do the same on the other side of the border in Syria as well even before two of the hostages were killed on grisly videos.

“I don’t know if Obama’s fully switched or not,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “But he had to fundamentally make changes in his approach.”

For Mr. Obama, the question now is whether this approach works any better than the last one.


Secret Service director Pierson faces grilling over White House security breaches

29 Sep 2014       

The head of the U.S. Secret Service is expected to face blistering questions from lawmakers on Tuesday about the latest White House security breach and a string of scandals that have tarnished the image of the agency charged with protecting the president.

Republicans and Democrats alike said they want Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to explain during her appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee how she plans to change the agency’s culture and procedures.

The hearing was prompted by a September 19 incident in which a man carrying a knife scaled the White House fence, raced past security officers and made it inside the executive mansion’s north entrance. The Washington Post reported on Monday that Omar Gonzalez, a 42-year-old Iraq war veteran, overpowered a guard at the front entrance and made it much deeper into the building than previously known before he was subdued.

While Pierson’s responses about that breach may be limited because of the ongoing investigation, lawmakers also intend to grill her about other incidents: a lone gunman firing shots at the White House in 2011, a prostitution scandal involving agents in Colombia in 2012 and a night of drinking in March that led to three agents being sent home from a presidential trip to Amsterdam.

The incidents give the impression the protection offered by the Secret Service is deficient, said Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, who heads the Oversight panel’s national security subcommittee.

“I’m concerned that there’s a total lack of leadership and very questionable protocol,” Chaffetz said in an interview.

“I get the sense the problems are getting worse, not better, and I want to give her a chance to respond,” he said of Pierson.

Chaffetz said he wants to know more about the agency’s policies regarding the use of lethal force. In an era of threats from Islamic State militants, he said, the agency used far too much restraint in dealing with Gonzalez.

New questions about the 2011 shooting incident were raised by the Washington Post, reporting on Sunday that it took the agency four days to realize that seven shots had struck the White House.

The discovery came to light only after a housekeeper noticed broken glass and chunks of fallen concrete, even though some officers had earlier reported shots fired at the White House, the newspaper said. It attributed the report to people familiar with the matter.

“I want to know about the culture that could let this happen,” said Representative Elijah Cummings, the Oversight committee’s top Democrat. “I don’t want people to even imagine that they can get past the Secret Service to do harm to anyone they’re guarding, period.”

President Obama appointed Pierson, 55, a 30-year Secret Service veteran, in March 2013. The first female director in the agency’s 148-history, she was given the mission of cleaning up the agency’s culture after the 2012 trip to Colombia in which up to a dozen agents were found to have hired prostitutes.

She has asked the committee to hold part of the hearing in a classified setting, behind closed doors. Divulging too much about security procedures at the White House would “arm” would-be attackers with critical information, she said.

“Were I to provide frank disclosures to the committee in response to questions about these and other topics in the setting of a public hearing, I would be undermining the Secret Service’s protective mission,” she wrote to Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa.

A spokesman for Issa said he is considering the request and may split the hearing into public and classified sessions.

District of Columbia delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said she will raise concerns about spending caps that have held down the growth of the agency’s budget.

But other lawmakers from both parties said they do not believe that is an issue. Congress approved a $918 million protection budget for the agency this year, about $5 million more than the administration had requested.


Koch Wing of SCOTUS  Grants OHIO GOP Its Wish To Restrict Early Voting

By: Adalia Woodbury
Monday, September, 29th, 2014, 8:04 pm   

The Koch brothers controlled branch of the Supreme Court of the United States, granted Jon Husted’s wish to uphold the Republicans restrictions on early voting in Ohio.

From a legal perspective, there is room to suggest that since Husted “only” rolled back early voting by a week, it isn’t a big deal. In fact, there is room to argue that doesn’t really hinder people’s voting rights since other states have shorter early voting periods or no early voting at all. However, if one looks at the developments in election law over the past several years, there is no doubt that restrictions on the vote are definitely occurring, even if it is on an incremental basis.

Technically, this is a temporary order. An order like this one isn’t supposed to be an indicator of how the court would rule on the issues in this case.  Also, it is worth noting again that this reduces early voting by a week, but doesn’t eliminate it all together.

Still, we know the “conservative” wing of the Supreme Court grants unfettered civil rights to corporations while choosing to look upon the rights of human beings in the narrowest possible way. Examples include the rulings on Citizens United, Hobby Lobby and Shelby v. Holder.

This divide is reflected in what is supposed to be an administrative order. It’s only supposed to say, we’re putting a hold on this law until the courts sort out the legal issues. Typically, you don’t see partisan divisions on orders like this one. However, the fact that there is a 5-4 split along ideological lines suggests we are seeing same division that occurred in Shelby v. Holder and we will probably see again when the Court considers vote suppression laws.

As Rick Hasen  said in his analysis of the order,

     But now if the Supreme Court reads both the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act very narrowly in the Ohio case, it is bad news all around and in cases where the changes matter more.

There is reasoning to feel a sense of doom over this order because the way the SCOTUS chooses to interpret the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting rights will influence how the court rules on the vote suppression laws of Texas and North Carolina. In other words, the Court is using the Ohio case to establish a new “precedent” in its interpretation of the Equal Protect Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. It will then apply that “precedent” when the vote suppression laws of Texas and North Carolina land on the docket.

Simply put, Liberal judges interpret the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting rights Act more broadly in the spirit of recognizing that free and fair elections means all eligible citizens have equal opportunity and access to the vote. Conservative judges tend to interpret civil rights (for people) from the narrowest perspective possible while looking upon the same rights more broadly when the “civil rights” of a corporation are at stake.

We saw the concrete consequences of this interpretative differences in the Supreme Court’s rulings on affirmative action as well as in the case that put the Voting Rights Act on life support. By weakening section 2, the Supreme Court will deal the final blow to the Voting Rights Act.

Poll taxes thinly disguised as “voter ID” requirements, reduced voting hours, out of the way and inaccessible voting locations disproportionately make voting harder for visible minorities.  However, Republicans and their supporters on the bench will deny that this is about disenfranchising people based on their race (or gender, age and socio-economic status) claiming this is really about maneuvering the electoral system to make conditions more favorable to Republicans.

Still, the results remain the same. Conservatives are out to disenfranchise everyone with the exception of rich, white, male Republicans. The Koch brothers controlled wing of the Supreme Court, is setting the stage to give constitutional “legitimacy” to mass disenfranchisement of racial minorities, women, the poor, the old and the young.


The Koch Brothers, ALEC and the GOP Are Trying To Win The Election By Destroying Democracy

By: Rmuse
Monday, September, 29th, 2014, 12:53 pm

There is a saying that “all is fair in love and war,” and although at first blush it seems a reasonable proposition, it certainly is not true. For example, it is against the law for a man to kidnap a woman he loves and keep her imprisoned against her will, just as it is illegal to torture prisoners of war; unless it is America doing the torturing. But that is another story. The point is that in matters of the heart and war, like in politics, there are universally-accepted conventions that all participants are expected to follow regardless their intent to win at any cost. Obviously, Republicans embrace the “all’s fair” mindset in their drive to control the nation and since the election of an African American man as President, they have taken extreme measures to destroy democracy by disenfranchising voters who are not inclined to support the corporate-theocracy Republicans are fighting to impose on America.

Although America’s representative democracy is on the verge of becoming a laughing stock and collapsing, there are still some Americans able to enjoy unfettered access to participate in the electoral process. However, if Republicans and their money machine have their way, fewer Americans will be given access to the polls and they have abandoned any pretense of concealing their drive to limit voting privileges to white Christians dedicated to electing white Republicans to political office. Over the course of the lead up to the midterm elections, and since the conservative Supreme Court eviscerated key aspects of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in the states have unashamedly launched vote suppression efforts in state after state targeting people of color, young people, working-class Americans, and the elderly. Crucial to their success is Republicans’ heavy dependence on one of the Koch brothers’ legislative arms, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to create template legislation for Republicans to block access to voting in what can only be termed as a direct assault on America’s rapidly waning democracy.

It should surprise no American that ALEC is anti-democracy since last February its members refused to sign a pledge supporting democracy, likely at the behest of their funders the Koch brothers. Dissatisfied that Republican-led states are doing enough to obstruct democracy, the Koch brothers tasked their other anti-democracy organization, Americans for Prosperity, to take what may be illegal actions to suppress the vote in North Carolina. Residents in the state have already witnessed a barrage of anti-democracy voter suppression tactics thanks to the Koch brothers’ ALEC legislation, but apparently it is not enough for the Kochs who charged AFP with the job of deliberately misinforming North Carolina voters to prevent them from participating in democracy.

North Carolina’s Americans for Prosperity sent out faulty voter registration forms and blatantly false information in what exceeds even the sleaziest dirty election tricks a few weeks before an election. In the mailings, Americans for Prosperity gave out the wrong deadline for registering to vote by cutting the authentic “registration window short by five days.” Included in the mailing was the wrong offices and zip codes for turning in voter registration forms as well as false information about how prospective voters would be notified about their precinct after they register to vote. That is providing they discovered the correct date and address to turn in the voter registration form on time to be able to vote.

The director of Americans for Prosperity, N.C., shrugged off the deliberate misinformation as “non-substantive” and just a “minor administrative error,” but it is not “minor” or “non-substantive” for hundreds-of-thousands of potential voters the Koch brothers’ thugs are attempting to disenfranchise. The AFP director revealed the Koch and Republican mindset is founded on their belief that N.C. voters unlikely to support Republicans are “non-substantive,” likely due to their racial makeup and economic station. That too is another story that is spreading across the former Confederacy where Republicans are actively thwarting the voting rights of working-Americans and people of color.

In Georgia once again, a second and third county are joining the Republican, ALEC, and Koch brother war on democracy by restricting voting of working-class people who have to work on Election Day. The reason? Republicans think the idea of every American participating in democracy is wrong because “it would mean too many people are voting.” Just last week, another Georgia Republican, Fran Millar, said he was working with other state Republicans to put a halt to African Americans voting because he “would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.” The idea of all Americans voting, especially African Americans, is something Republicans cannot countenance and like all Republicans, Millar hopes “it can be stopped.” The idea of not supporting, and indeed destroying, democracy is by all appearance now a major policy position of the conservative movement.

This anti-democracy crusade is not reserved to the Koch brothers’ legislative arms in the former Confederacy. A couple of weeks ago New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went on a rant condemning democracy as “shocking, underhanded, and a dirty tactic” and yet there was little response from Democrats at the national or state level. If, as Democrats claim, the fast-approaching midterm elections are critical to Americans, why are they not revealing the Koch-Republican dirty assault on democracy? For dog’s sake, Republicans have spent the past five years falsely accusing the President and Democrats of “destroying the Constitution” and attempting to rule as dictators.

These Republican, ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, and Koch brother attacks on America’s democracy are not solely targeting African Americans; they are targeting working-class Americans who are working longer hours to survive and have issues making it to the polls on Election Day. Regardless if it is eliminating early voting, sending out phony polling place and voter registration information, or threatening armed intimidation of voters, Republicans are attacking America’s fragile democracy.

It is, frankly, astonishing that Republicans are openly working to restrict all  Americans’ right to vote with little pushback from Democrats because the concept of democracy is allegedly the defining feature of “American exceptionalism.” Regardless of any Americans’ political leanings, it is difficult to imagine that only die-hard theocrats and corporatists would condone destroying democracy, but it is just as difficult to comprehend why Democrats are not making the Republicans’ effort a major campaign issue; particularly in former Confederate states where Republicans are actively touting their efforts to restrict democracy to white, Christian, and Republican supporters.

Democrats need to come to their senses and put half the effort into informing Americans about the Republican attack on this nation’s democracy as they do promising to fight for middle-class Americans. Because at the rate Republicans are destroying democracy, Democrats are doomed to do nothing for the people because the Kochs, AFP, ALEC, and Republicans are easily eliminating Democrats’ chances of remaining in office by killing democracy with little to no opposition.


Republicans Put The Clown Car In Drive As Ted Cruz Is Running For President in 2016

By: Jason Easley
Monday, September, 29th, 2014, 2:27 pm   

According to National Journal, Cruz’s candidacy is virtually a done deal,

According to sources close to the Texas senator, Cruz could be preparing for an end-of-year announcement and is now dedicating considerable time and effort to cultivating a foreign-policy foundation that might help his candidacy stand out in what is guaranteed to be a crowded field.

“At this point it’s 90/10 he’s in,” one Cruz adviser said. “And honestly, 90 is lowballing it.”

The senator’s choreography since arriving in Washington has long pointed to a presidential run. His office meticulously documents the details of his meetings and events to guard against opposition research. He has aggressively pursued visits to important primary states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Late last month Cruz hired three prominent consultants with experience in national campaigns and extensive contacts in early nominating states. And he recently moved his chief of staff, Chip Roy, from his congressional office to the campaign operation, sending the clearest signal yet to allies inside and outside the Capitol that a bid for the White House is imminent.

You read that first sentence correctly. Ted Cruz is planning on running for president as the foreign policy candidate. Sen. Cruz thinks that Republican voters will flock to him if he stakes out a foreign policy position that is somewhere between John McCain and Rand Paul. Cruz is overlooking a the fact that he has no foreign policy experience, and conservatives like him much more when he is doing things like shutting down the government.

A quick look at the potential list of 2016 Republican candidates reveals one that is under indictment (Rick Perry), another that is the focus of a criminal probe (Scott Walker), a third that is under federal investigation (Chris Christie), and a fourth that is so desperate to win the nomination that he changes his positions often (Rand Paul). There is also the has been (Mitt Romney), the never was (Rick Santorum), and the never will be (Jeb Bush).

A Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio might jump in as well, but they aren’t putting together serious campaign organizations like Cruz, Paul, and Christie are. Republicans voters will have to choose someone out of this crew of broken pretenders to represent their party against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Cruz and Paul sharing a debate stage while trying to out crazy each other should be comedy gold. Paul and Cruz will be fighting for many of the same voters and could cancel each other out. Cruz will also be fighting with Santorum, and potentially, Mike Huckabee for the hearts of the religious right.

It is almost a certainty that his Republican opponents will use Cruz’s citizenship against him, even though he is eligible to run for president due to his mother being born in Delaware. Cruz is a natural born citizen, but that won’t stop the dirty smear campaigns early in primary states like South Carolina.

Citizenship questions, criminal indictments, and a whole trunk full of crazy are sure signs that the Republican clown car is gassed and ready to roll down the road to defeat at the hands of Hillary Clinton.


Trouble Ahead for Speaker Boehner and It Gets Worse if Republicans Take the Senate

By: Sarah Jones
Monday, September, 29th, 2014, 11:41 am   

Think the gridlock is bad in Washington now? If Republicans take over the Senate, it’s only going to get worse. It’s all starting in the House, which is set to go even further to the “right”.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times made the case that the House will be shifting even further to the right, full of the types who call single parenthood ‘child abuse’ and call Hillary Clinton the Antichrist. Another tried to argue against religious liberty for Islam, saying they shouldn’t get a tax deduction because they’re not really a religion. Not exactly your most sane and in touch bunch coming into the House this election.

These conservatives will likely pull the House even further to the right, Weisman writes, and this is trouble for Speaker Boehner:

    For the House speaker, John A. Boehner, the newest crop of conservatives will present at best a headache, at worst a leadership challenge. Many, including Mr. Ratcliffe, have refused to commit to voting for him to serve again as speaker, lending potential votes to rebellious conservatives who nearly defeated him in 2013.

The trouble gets worse if Republicans take the Senate:

    And if Republicans take control of the Senate, the group will probably compound the difficulties House and Senate Republican leaders will have finding legislative unity.

This analysis is backed up by even Republicans, who are now telling their base that maybe they can’t really do much if they take the Senate, but hey, the show will be awesome! Much angry rhetoric, more investigations, and lots of Obama hate, which is almost like passing a jobs bill but not. Republicans think the show will tell voters exactly what the party stands for, which they believe will be good for them in 2016.

It will not be good for Republicans to control the Senate and be stuck having to actually pass things like Paul Ryan’s budget. This will be very bad news for Republicans, and Speaker John Boehner will have even less control of the Tea Party caucus, so we can expect the bills to be even more crazy.

It will not be good for Republicans to be stuck voting yes on privatizing Medicare and Social Security. Their big money masters will expect their quid pro quo and there will be no excuse, no Harry Reid speed bump against the crazy. This is not a good thing for the party. If the party is actually in control of both chambers, their inability to govern will be so blatantly obvious that even the Sunday shows might be forced to address it.

Either way, Speaker John Boehner faces a rough two years ahead — that is, if he manages to keep his Speakership out of the grasping claws of the crazy. This will only get worse if Republicans take the Senate. Should this happen, Boehner’s political legacy as Speaker will be forever tarnished by the extremists running his show and he won’t be able to blame Obama anymore.

It’s worth noting that we all accept that going further toward anarchy and political ugliness means going “further to the right.” If I were a Republican strategist, this would concern me. Republicans are setting themselves up for decades of bad branding, akin to Democrats in the 60s.


Mitch McConnell Chickens Out and Goes Silent On Offer to Debate Alison Lundergan Grimes

By: Jason Easley
Monday, September, 29th, 2014, 6:02 pm   

Mitch McConnell has gone full blown chicken. He is so afraid of debating Alison Lundergan Grimes that he is refusing to acknowledge offers to debate the Democrat.

Audio of Grimes on Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR):

Grimes accepted the invitation to debate McConnell and said, “I look forward to debating Mitch McConnell here and at many, numerous other locations across Kentucky.”

KSR posted that they had an invitation out to the McConnell campaign, “Our Secretary of State stopped by the Louisville studio to talk to KSR about her upcoming Senate race with Mitch McConnell. We have an invitation out to McConnell to come on the show as well, and if he doesn’t accept, Grimes will win the KSR vote.”

Today, Kentucky Sports Radio said that McConnell had agreed to come on the show then stopped returning their calls and emails, “Don’t tell me you’re going to come, and then not come. Why do people have to lie? … They don’t return my calls and emails.”

This is normal behavior for Sen. McConnell. In June, McConnell refused to respond to a debate invitation from The Beattyville Enterprise, “The Enterprise has twice sent email requests for McConnell to appear in Beattyville for a debate, but no response has yet been received.”

Twelve days ago, Sen. McConnell accepted a debate invitation from The Appalachian News-Express but quickly backed out because he was going to be on a bus tour of Kentucky during ALL of the potential dates.

The evidence is clear. Mitch McConnell is afraid to debate Alison Lundergan Grimes. He has turned down debate invitations from media and organizations across the state of Kentucky. It looks like Kentucky voters will only get one chance to see the two candidates debate. The only debate in the Kentucky Senate race is scheduled for October 13.

McConnell doesn’t want to share the stage with a younger candidate with a vision for the state. The incumbent is trying everything to avoid giving Kentucky voters a real choice. The McConnell strategy is to dodge and avoid while hoping that the carpet bombing of Koch ads will be enough to carry him to victory. Voters deserve a choice. They deserve to see the candidates side by side on the same stage. Mitch McConnell is trying hold off time and progress. Sen. McConnell doesn’t want Kentucky to notice that he has become the opponent of our democratic institutions.

The McConnell campaign thinks that they are outsmarting the voters, but to the people of Kentucky, Mitch McConnell looks like a chicken who is running away from a fight.

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