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Benghazi Is The New “Freddie Krueger” Obsession and Romance for the GOP — It Just Keeps “Coming Back!”

By Frank Byronn Glenn  — Given the dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the relentless pursuit of hoped for  impeachable offenses in the non-existent partisan criminality in the IRS treatment of non-profits — and the sluggish and grumbling exhortations about “Fast and Furious”  — should we really be surprised that the GOP alleges to have found the “smoking gun” of Benghazi in some emails at the White House that prove the Obama administration knew the Benghazi attacks were acts of terrorism.  Dudes!  President Obama came out in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attacks and called the attack an act of  “terrorism” and warned the perpetrators that acts of “terrorism” would not dissuade us from our resolve to seek out and neutralize terrorist actions and bad actors around the world.  Granted, the Republicans admittedly have nothing to run on in 2014 — or 2016 — at this point so they are desperate for something — anything — but guys, this is just a little bit too crazy for even the craziest among us.

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So… Republicans — let me set the record straight on Benghazi once and for all right here. There is no there, there.  And even if there was, it would still be hypocritical and preposterous for the GOP to take the “faux outrage” positions they  and their wholly-owned subsidiary propaganda  buddies at Foxx News do.  Let’s take a for instance — or two.

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Let’s assume for a  minute that in the days leading up to the night of the Benghazi attack — and while the attack was in progress, even — the administration was asleep at the switch.  Let’s say they were all ballroom dancing —  or, better yet, doing the “cha-cha”  in the White House “Situation Room” — and word  came in that Benghazi was under attack.  Let’s imagine that the response of Barack Obama and his inattentive and unconcerned administration minions were just to keep on — keep busy having fun — as the Republicans fantasize — and in some cases, even allege — too lost in  their own dream world of amusement to be bothered to do anything about it — in response.

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Let’s imagine that — as bullets were flying in Benghazi — and people were  dying — (four to be exact) — that the President and his fellow revelers continued dancing.  Sashaying to the right — sashaying to the left — stepping on their penises every other step along the way, in their consummate ignorance and incompetence and uncaring — playing violins and blowing gazzoos,  degrading each other with trashy plastic saxophones  — in frivolous debauchery and abandon.  Let’s say they all were intoxicated — or high on marijuana — or both.  And that they were all  passing great big voluminous clouds of foul-smelling flatulence — without so much as an “excuse me” for the indiscretion —  laughing —  howling hysterically even — when the news came in that four people had been killed in the Benghazi.  And let’s say that for weeks the staff at Benghazi had warned the Obama Administration that an attack was coming, and had asked for additional security — and the President Obama and Hillary Clinton had laughed at them — made fun of them — dissed them, and even called them “light-weights” and “uncommitted” and lacking of “gravitas”.  And let’s say, furthermore, that hours before the attackers hit Benghazi,  the Benghazi staff received word that the attackers were on their way, and that it was their intent to burn down the station and kill its occupants.  The staff cried out to Hillary Clinton  and Barack Obama, personally,   to send in the  special forces — or the 82d Airborne — to save them  — and Hillary and Barack did nothing.  They sipped sarsaparillas and had pedicures and neck massages — while Jane Fonda sang sweet, melodic and deeply moving anti-war songs of peace and resurrection.

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Let’s imagine that every word of what I have just written above,  is true. And — moreover — that every accusation the Republicans have ever  made about how the Obama Administration handled Benghazi –was true.  That the GOP  could just “make-up” every horrible thing imaginable  that they wanted to — and allege it had happened — and it would come true —  and the American people would accept it whole-heartedly and unquestioningly — because the deeply  trust-worthy Republicans and their right wing “truth-sayers” at Foxx News said it was true — and they could always be counted on — so it had to be true.

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So — even if every bad thing about the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi affair ever said — or alleged — was true — it still wouldn’t be as bad as what the Bush/Cheney Administration did– initially, deliberately, consciously, repeatedly — and continuously — in the lead up to and in the prosecution of the war in Iraq.  Bush, Cheny, Condi, and Powell lied from the beginning to get us into the war.  They lied about the reasons for it.  They lied about how it would be received by the Iraqi people.  They lied about how much it would cost, how it would be paid for, how long it would last, and what the end result would be.  And they lied about WMD.  In fact, the United States military was the only WMD in Iraq — for the Iraqi people — and for the several thousand American soldiers and contractors that died for Bush and Cheney’s lies.  They even outed a CIA agent (a federal crime), ruined her career, and put the lives of other undercover agents around the world at risk — because her husband dared to call “crap” on “one”  of their lies.  And yes — it was tragic that four Americans on duty in Benghazi died needlessly.  And it was also tragic that several hundred thousand Iraqi men, women, and children died in Iraqi because of Bush and Cheney’s lies.  And it is t tragic that several thousand Americans  died needlessly in Iraq — as a result of Bush and Cheney’s scheming, dreaming — and lies.

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Can’t you just hear  the loved ones of all the people Bush and Cheney killed deliberately  — screaming  into the empty darkness — in grief — in despair — in anger —  still not believing it was allowed to happen — not understanding why — or how — it happened ––  and not comprehending why the American people do not demand justice — and retribution — for those horrible crimes.   And then they pick up the paper — or watch the news — and see the Republicans — and Foxx News — running around hysterically demanding an explanation — demanding to know “all the facts” (every single one ) in their “faux” fury –and their rage “to get to the bottom of Benghazi”.  Give me a break, Republicans.  You should be very ashamed!

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I think the saddest thing, though, is that many of these Republicans and those people who worked  at Foxx during the Bush/Cheney years — are still in office — or still work at Foxx.  And where was their outrage and concern for good government then?   The American people deserve better  than this.! And what is sadder, still — is that ordinary Americans are — for the most part — far better  people than most those who represent them will ever be!

 

The “Romney For President” Movement — 2016 — Rears Its Not-So-Attractive, 47% Head — In Utah!

By Bifford Caulfied — If it’s possible for politics to be both ghoulishly entertaining and absurdly pathetic at the same time — the Utah Republican party has perfect pitch.  Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans told the Deseret News this week that a fledgling “draft Romney” movement is alive and well — and serious about making the case that all the people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and now have buyers remorse — have something to cheer about. By  my count, that should be about six people, total.

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Romney has stated repeatedly that he has no interest in running — and will not run — in 2016.  My guess is that Romney has never stopped thinking about running in 2016 since an hour after he lost in 2012.  That’s what you get when you combine a limitless ego with a political tin ear — and a fluid value system whose only challenge is to find that certain sound bite that the majority of Americans want to hear in deafening and mind-numbingly repetitious monotones for the next couple of years.

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And let’s be real about it.  Mittens has probably had a continuing, although delusional,   heart-to-heart talk with himself about his “near miss” in 2012 –– and has convince himself that but for a “liberally biased press — and an occasional  mis-step here and a zig where a zag was actually called for —  there — he would have been a shoo-in — magic underpants and all  — for the Presidency in 2012.

 

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I personally think that Mittens is just about as big a buffoon as his daddy George was all those long years ago — but he also might have a bigger ego and a greater need for sense of ascendancy in his personal life than papa George did.  Plus George was self-destructively and brutally  honest, whereas truth to old Mitt is whatever is rattling around in his head at the  moment — and that’s subject to change whenever a new rattle crops up.

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At any rate, the clown car crazy show of Republican Presidential candidates in 2012 made for some of the most entertainingly mind-blowing right wing political theater that I’ve seen since the days for Ronnie “ray-gun” Reagan — howdy doody turned Jesus — er, Joseph Smith — on steroids?

 

 

 

Republilcans Come Face-To-Face — With A Potentially Barren Political Future!

By Frank Byronn GlennThe dawn may be breaking in the impenetrable and stubborn heads of leaders of the Republican party — which bet its future on “NO!”  They nurtured  the disgusting belief throughout their base — and a slightly extended fringe of people who are not political but didn’t want a black President of any political persuasion in the White House  — that nothing a black President would do would be legitimate (because he wasn’t one of us and therefore was an illegitimate President) — and that nothing he could do would be good for America.

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So they demonized everything Barack Obama said and did — reminding the country as the did that he was “bad to the bone” — for America.  They said he wasn’t born here — like Ted Cruz and John McCain — and that therefore he didn’t “know America”.   And since he wasn’t “from here”, he could have know clue how “we” did things here — or what we needed.   He wasn’t “one of us”, so he couldn’t “really” speak for us.    And anything he said —  or did — could not be therefore be representative of things Americans would naturally and of their own volition want or choose.

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When Obama talked about us doing things together — to help each other — it was European socialism —  the worst kind, because it masqueraded as helping the people — but it really ruined their lives. And when he talked about  doing something about healthcare for millions of people who didn’t have any — or had crappy plans — and talked about saving General Motors, extending unemployment insurance, fixing the predatory student loan market, or providing food stamps to jobless poor people so they and their children could survive — he was the secret, evil, “dark” agent — of government “take-over”.

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The Republicans said “no”, called into question his legitimacy, questioned his birthright to be President, demonized every suggestion and idea and program he spoke of — or proposed — to the point that rejecting anything Obama as inferior, socialist, or a direct threat to the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all Americans — that the Republican party slowly they devolved into a party in which “Obama dissing” was their entire party platform.  They had to discredit everything Obama said, every action he took, and furiously and absurdly and meaninglessly try to repeal, undermine, derail, and destroy everything he did  — so much, that along the way they opposed some things that American actually wanted — or that was actually good for a few  millions of people here and there.

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And when the big one — the Affordable Care Act — finally went into effect — lurching and limping as it did at first –– it slowly began to dawn on people.  This isn’t the end of the world.  There are no death panels.   They aren’t killing Grandma. Rates aren’t going up.  Unemployment isn’t sky-rocketing.  My new plan is a little better than my old one.  The Apocalypse is not upon us.  And I don’t have to work for this company for the rest of my life because if I quit I will lose my family’s healthcare and will never be able to get it again.  And if one of my family gets sick, it won’t be our financial ruin — wiping out 40 years of hard work.

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In fact, there are actually some good things  about Obamacare.  For example, our children can stay on my wife and I’s policy until they are 26.  My “chubby baby” is no longer potentially relegated to the status of a “pre-existing condition” because he is “chubby”.  Neither are my wife and daughters — because they are female.  The insurance companies can’t collect my health insurance premiums until I get sick, then boot me off my insurance and keep my money.  If my nephew gets cancer, they can’t care for him until the medical expenses hit a made-up, for profit protection amount of money, which insurors call the “cap”– and then they quit paying and he quits receiving medical care — and he dies for lack of adequate medical care.  Seniors pay a little less for medicine because we closed the donut-hole.  Medicaid expansion extends healthcare to millions of deserving,  hardworking,  lower income people — at least in the states in which Republicans have not been successful in blocking it. Oh, yes.  And the insurance companies have to spend most of the premiums we pay for health insurance — on our healthcare — or they have to give us refund for what they didn’t spend.  And we don’t automatically have to go bankrupt if  a family member gets seriously ill.  Novel, indeed, those ideas!

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So now Republicans are caught hating on, dissing, and trying to repeal something that America is slowing beginning to realize is actually a good thing for America.  Or at least a step in the right direction.  It’s good to have healthcare.  They are sort of politically, culturally, and morally adrift.  The have no  gyro — they have no compass.  The have no core values — they have only rejection of what is — or what could be — as a political philosophy.  And that’s a pretty tough sell.  Even in the new millenium!  But  Republicans are trapped there — in that void.  They trained their dysfunctional base to expect only “no” from them — or they will get “tea partied” by them.  And they can’t win general elections with no policies, programs, or ideas — except those that benefit only the very richest people  in our society — including themselves (since most Congress people are wealthy as well).  In a country of 350 million people, it is not a successful strategy to propose programs that benefit only a couple of million people — and harm — or ignore —  the rest.

Durant, Westbrook, and The Thunder — Rout the Grizzilies In Game 7!

By Ritchie Totten –The combination of a little more focus and determination on the part of Durant, a little more discipline and control on the part of Russell Westbrook — and the benefit of  shrewd and gutsy line-up changes on the part of coach Scott Brooks  — and the OKC Thunder of the future just may have reared its head.  I regretted the relegation to the bench of Thabo Sefalosha — I remember the superb  contribution he made in stymieing Tony Parker when the Thunder took four in a row from the Spurs a couple of years ago — after dropping the first two games of the Western Conference Championship series.  And once you see  something like that — players like Thabo have a special place in your heart forever.  That’s becomes just a part of how you view — and now — remember them.

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But  inserting Caron Butler into the starting line-up appeared to be a game changer in the Grizzlies series —  and may be for the rest of the play-offs.  And inserting Steven Adams a little earlier — and a little more strategically — in place of Kendrick Perkins — and you can glimpse one of  the Thunder’s mufti-faceted looks going forward.  Maybe the look of the Thunder of the future.  But looking at them now — most of the pieces appear to be in place for the Thunder’s year-in-year-out run for the NBA championship.  You add in the contributions of Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher, and the mid-range  shooting and  emerging power game down low on the part of Serge Ibaca — and you see a team that you expect to be there come trophy time — sometime in the not-to-distant future.  We shall see.

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In Saturday night’s game, which the Thunder won 120-109 to move on to the semi-finals, the Thunder shuttered a little in the earlier going — as Memphis game out with a smaller, faster, up-tempo group in response to the suspension of Zack Randolph.  But like good teams with quality coaching — they figured it out — and began to attack the basket — and then everything worked.  The Thunder out-hustled, out-schemed, and out-played the Grizzlies — and it showed.  They were just better.  What this all means — we will just have to wait and see.

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The Clippers out-lasted the Golden State Warriors, to earn a rendezvous with the OKC Thunder in the Western Conference semi-finals.  Portland finished off its surprising beat-down of Houston — and if the Spurs survive the dangerous and inspired Dallas Mavericks — will meet them in the other Western Conference semi-final match-up.  In the East — Indiana seemed to find its  missing grit — and rolled steadily and powerfully over the Atlanta Hawks. Miami awaits the winner of the Toronto – Nets series.  The Wizards — after bashing a game Chicago Bulls team — now has the unenviable task of matching up with the Pacers at what may turn out to be just the wrong time.  It should be fun.  It has been wild, surprising — and entertaining — so far.  Let us hope the trends continue.  What a wide-open play-offs so far!

OKC Thunder — and Old “Unreliable” Kevin Durant — “Unreliably and Unpredictably Dismantle Memphis Grizzilies!”

By Bobby Westfall –– In one of the most absurd stories of the year, the an Oklahoma newspaper this week popped a headline on an article in their paper calling Keven Durant “unreliable”.  Only a person who knew nothing about basketball  — who probably never played the game — could have written that headline in the first place — but the idea that it would have appeared in the home state of one of the great basketball players of our time  — probably suggests someone has been promoted beyond their competence.

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It is true that the monicker “unreliable” may have been precipitated by Keven Durant, himself.  I mean, after all — he played super-natural basketball all year.  Russell Westbrook has three knee surgeries — isn’t available for almost half the year — and Keven Durant steps up — playing point-forward — hustling on defense — distributing the ball — shooting lights out — on the way to what should be an MVP award season.  He adjusts back — patiently — as Russell Westbrook charges back into the fray just before play-off time — and energetically re-creates a place for  himself in the rotation and the mix — sending reverberations through the roster and the chemistry that Durant had meticulously nurtured throughout the season.  So the play-offs begin with the Thunder energized but out of rhythm and a step out of sync — as everyone is re-inventing a roster and rotation now brimming with Westbr0oks energy and athetism.  And the result was good,  hard-working and talented role players had their minutes and roles thrown a little into chaos.

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Fortunately it looks like these talented and committed players — under the steady hand of a superb and patient  coach —  may be figuring this chaotic NBA season out all over again.  The Thunder looked a little like the Thunder of Yore — and a little like the  San Antonio Spurs of the future than fans and followers can look forward to for years to come from this young bunch.  They won 104-84, but it never seemed that close.  The  Thunder were energized, micro-focused, intense — and played superb basketball — reflecting the line-up and rotation changes Brooks and staff brilliantly employed throughout Game 6.  Game seven is Saturday night in Oklahoma city — and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the emerging, modernized version of the OKC Thunder who went down to the Spurs 0-2  in the Western Conference Finals a couple of years and then played like the Spurs — only better — to win the next 4 games and roar into the finals against Miami.

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I don’t know about that old “unreliable” thing.  But I know this.  You can rely on Keven Durant to stay focused, involve his team-mates, play team basketball — and generally just be the MVP he was all year,  as this talented group of young basketball phenoms continue their journal into stardom — and excellence — and, perhaps —  championships!

Donald Sterling Dying Of Cancer!

By Ritchie Totten — News just out that Donald Sterling is dying of cancer gives one pause — if only for a second — for a moment of empathy for the guy.  But not much beyond that.  In a world in which we are continuously pondering why rich guys insist on preying upon those less fortunate —  trying to get rid of the safety net, reduce or eliminate food stamps for the struggling, reduce unemployment insurance payments for the unwilling unemployed — one finds oneself biting ones lips to keep from saying, “just desserts”.

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For those of you who don’t know — or never figured it out — if a guy has a million dollars, he could spend $86,400 for around eleven days.  If he has a billion dollars, he could spend $86,400 a day for 32 years.   Now in the case of a  billionaire like Sheldon Adelson, who is reputed to be worth  around $21.5 billion dollars, he could invest his net worth in 10 year treasuries at 2.71% interest, and then just spend the interest in the amount of $1,545,000 a day until  the end of time — and still end up with more money than he started with at the end — or whatever stopping point you choose.  It’s unfathomable to me that a guy with that much money — and all those guys with so much money — spend all that time, energy, and effort trying to make live as increasingly miserable as they p0ssibly can for people less fortunate  than they are.  Must be something in that “acquisitional” gene that leaves you unfulfilled once you have even attained unimaginable wealth. You have uncontrollable desire to accumulate great wealth, and then once you have accumulated great wealth — it converts to an uncontrollable urge to take away from — or deny to — the struggling the masses — the same opportunity you just took advantage of to get wealthy.   And deprive them of what meager livelihoods they have been able to scratch out of this mean earth.  I don’t get it.  It’s got to be a social disease we have somehow, as a culture and as a society — burnished into the idiosyncratic trappings of enormous success.

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But I digress.  Donald Sterling.

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The chattering class had been buzzing all week about the “ban for life” from the NBA –– and about the league forcing Sterling to sell — and the counter-buzzings hearalding what a tenacious and tyrannical legal in-fighter Sterling is — and what a mess this could all end of being — and suddenly we find the problem may be self-curing.

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My mother always said — “remember — there but for the grace of God, go you!”   I’m not only glad I am not like Donald Sterling.  I know I would never be like Donald Sterling.  He’s 82 years old, a millionaire many times over from what I can tell — sitting on top of an NBA franchise that he paid $12 million dollars for that is now reputed to be worth as much as a billion dollars — he’s dying of cancer — and he still spends portions of his day trying to figure out ways to discriminate against, insult, and belittle and berate  minorities and others less fortunate than himself.  If that isn’t an incurable disease, I don’t know what is.  Well — almost incurable, I guess.  It sounds like cancer may — in the bitter end —  be the cure for this unworthy blob of diseased and disgusting protoplasm.  So long,  Mr. Sterling. And — good riddance?

U.S. Navy Invents Process To Make Energy Out Of Seawater? The End-Times For Fossil Fuels Is Finallly Here?

Linked to By Frank Byronn Glenn

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Surf’s up!    The Navy appears to have achieved the Holy Grail of energy independence    –    turning seawater into fuel:

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After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

 

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The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

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Curiously, this doesn’t seem to be making much of a splash (no pun intended) on the evening news. Let’s repeat this: The United States Navy has figured out how to turn seawater into fuel and it will cost about the same as gasoline.

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This technology is in its infancy and it’s already this cheap? What happens when it’s refined and perfected? Oil is only getting more expensive as the easy-to-reach deposits are tapped so this truly is, as it’s being called, a “game changer.”

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I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to their fossil fuel masters because it will cost them trillions in profits. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone. They already have a track record of trying to do this. Unfortunately, once this kind of genie is out of the bottle, it’s very hard to put back in.

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There are two other aspects to this story that have not been brought up yet:

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1. The process pulls carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas driving Climate Change) out of the ocean. One of the less well-publicized aspects of Climate Change is that the ocean acts like a sponge for CO2 and it’s just about reached its safe limit. The ocean is steadily becoming more acidic from all of the increased carbon dioxide. This in turn poisons delicate ecosystems like coral reefs that keep the ocean healthy.

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If we pull out massive amounts of CO2, even if we burn it again, not all of it will make it back into the water. Hell, we could even pull some of it and not use it in order to return the ocean to a sustainable level. That, in turn will help pull more of the excess CO2 out of the air even as we put it back. It would be the ultimate in recycling.

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2. This will devastate oil rich countries but it will get us the hell out of the Middle East (another reason Republicans will oppose this). Let’s be honest, we’re not in the Middle East for humanitarian reasons. We’re there for oil. Period. We spend trillions to secure our access to it and fight a “war” on terrorism. Take away our need to be there and, suddenly, justifying our overseas adventures gets a lot harder to sell.

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And if we “leak” the technology? Every dictator propped up by oil will tumble almost overnight. Yes, it will be a bloody mess but we won’t be pissing away the lives of our military to keep scumbags in power. Let those countries figure out who they want to be without billionaire thugs and their mercenary armies running the show.

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Why this is not a huge major story mystifies me. I’m curious to see how it all plays out so stay tuned.

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UPDATE:

People have been asking for more details about the process. This is from the Naval Research Laboratory’s official press release:

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Using an innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system.

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In plain English, fuel is made from hydrocarbons (hydrogen and carbon). This process pulls both hydrogen and carbon from seawater and recombines them to make fuel. The process can be used on air as well but seawater holds about 140 times more carbon dioxide in it so it’s better suited for carbon collection.

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Another detail people seem to be confused about: This is essentially a carbon neutral process. The ocean is like a sponge for carbon dioxide in the air and currently has an excess amount dissolved in it. The process pulls carbon dioxide out of the ocean. It’s converted and burned as fuel. This releases the carbon dioxide back into the air which is then reabsorbed by the ocean. Rinse. Repeat.

Will Putin Continue Playing “Russian Roulette” in Ukraine?

By Frank Byronn Glenn  —

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I’m guessing they will.  From Putin’s point of view — there is no way he can allow a neighbor so large and geographically so strategic to fall into the sphere of the American and European aligned NATO group.  He’d be seen as too weak and too undeserving to rule Russia.   Not that that fact alone would force him from power — but it would inflame the Russian Federation denizens — who have been embarrassed and dismayed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall from power and prestige worldwide that accompanied it.  So, much like Hitler, who rose to power promising to restore proud Germans to their rightful place of power and prestige on the world stage — Putin is enjoying a resurgence in popularity as a result of this “tough guy” act toward his neighbors and in his interactions with other world powers.  “Putin and Russia are no one to mess with now,” he hears them murmuring in his ears.

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And then there is the Ukrainians.  Over-matched and mercilessly bullied since time-immemorial by their over-sized and undiplomatically oriented big-brother neighbor — Russia —  they appear to be fast approaching a “nothing to lose”  moment in the itinerary of their floundering “ship of state”.  Ukrainians are a proud people, too.  With a country, culture, and history they are proud of.  And now the course of their forward  history appears to allow for only what Russia approves of — as a permissible path forward for them — and everyday Ukrainians   may reject that.

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For their sake — for the sake of the rule of law and international treaties — and the role of diplomacy in solving world problems without armed conflict — let us hope that the chest thumping by Putin — that the Russian people have applauded so enthusiastically — will be enough to satisfy Putin and his cronies this time around — and they can allow themselves to settle into something sensible and hopeful in terms of a future for Ukrainians and Russians — and the rest of the world — and we won’t have to continue stumbling along this high-wire of high risk, nonsensical foreign policy theatrics — that still has yet to make an ounce of sense to most objective observers around the world.  And to the extent that there is a glimmer of rhyme or reason to Putin’s actions — it clearly fails the rudimentary, common-sense,  cost-benefit analysis that you would hope a world leader in a great country — like Russia — would be capable of making.

India: World’s Largest Election — Will Narendra Modi Prevail In The End?

Links assembled and compiled by Frank Byronn Glenn

What you need to know on Friday about India’s elections: Voter turnout rose in most districts in the fifth phase of the elections compared with 2009, the Indian National Congress appears to be missing its youth unit, and voters at the world’s highest polling station remain optimistic that someday a politician will visit them.

The fifth and largest phase of India’s elections saw a surge in voter turnout in most places compared with the 2009 elections. (The Economic Times)

The youth wing of the Indian National Congress is conspicuously absent in this year’s elections. (Hindustan Times)

Since 1951, no candidate has visited Hikkam in the state of Himachal Pradesh, which has the world’s highest polling station at 14,500 feet above sea level, but voters come out in large numbers in the hope that one day a politician will hear their concerns. (The Times of India)

India needs to have an honest debate on the merits of its system of quotas for underprivileged parts of society, argues an advocate in the Madras High Court. (The Hindu)

Varun Gandhi of the Bharatiya Janata Party offers his suggestions on how to improve the way Parliament operates. (The Times of India)

How to fix the credibility and accuracy of Indian opinion polls. (Economic & Political Weekly)

The Congress party’s candidate in Vadodara, Gujarat, has so far outspent his Bharatiya Janata Party opponent, Narendra Modi. (The Indian Express)

Live microphones catch a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and a yoga guru talking about election funds. (The Times of India)

The human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike since November 2000 to protest a draconian antiterror law, was not allowed to vote in the state of Manipur.

China’s Farmland Is Increasingly Polluted — Causing Food Contamination and Health Concerns Worldwide!

 By Frank Byronn Glenn —  Manufacturers have been moving production to places like China in a frenzy — in part, of course, because of radically lower labor costs.  But a less often talked about and publicized reason, sometimes, is that environmental regulations are more lenient in that country — and as a consequence there is a windfall to corporations in the form of much lower environmental compliance and clean-up costs.  But like every silver lining — there is usually a “dark cloud” for it to surround with its bright lining.  Yes, costs are lower to produce things in China — but the collateral costs in the form of damage to the environment and pollution of productive farmland is on the dramatic increase.

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According to a recent study, nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is dangerously contaminated with toxic metals like cadmium, nickel, and arsenic.

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A soil survey conducted between 2005 and 2013 showed contamination in 16.1 percent of the country’s soil and 19.4 percent of its arable land. Beijing-based lawyer Dong Zhengwei told the Associated Press that, because the survey dates back nearly a decade, the current situation is likely worse than the report suggests.

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The trade-off between China’s rapid industrialization and the windfall rush of foreign corporations sprinting to move production to China to enjoy lower labor costs and lax environmental regulation and pollution standards — has come initially at high cost to the Chinese people’s health and quality of life.  Subsequently, U.S.  imports from  China contaminated potentially toxic food because of the lower cost of production and acquisition.

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The sooner earth’s inhabitants realize and accept the fact that there are no free lunches — and only very temporary financial gains — to be had from moving production to pollution control free zones like China, Mexico, Vietnam, and other environmentally lax countries — the quicker we will begin to transform public policy and sustainable production procedures to permit a healthier, more sustainable,  long term environment for life on earth.  To trade the sustainability of life on our planet earth, ultimately, for a few dollars more in corporate coffers today — is the fool’s errand of a civilization that does not deserve to survive  — and of governments so lacking in understanding, knowledge, and courage as to be unworthy of  governing in the first place.

These unstainable practices are hard to understand, unless you are incorrigibly driven by the insatiable lust for power and money.   But the fact that you would do it anyway — even if it killed your  friends, your family, your children and your grandchildren — just so  you could get a little bit richer – is beyond the pale – and unconscionable.    And a species or a civilization that would do that — or permit that —  doesn’t sound much like a species or a civilization worthy of survival to me.