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Thursday, 26 January 2017 15:21

Police on Front Lines of Mental Illness

Too often, police officers are the ones who suffer when the safety net snaps.
This nation's failure to maintain an adequate safety net for people with serious mental illnesses falls hard on American families, businesses and communities. But law enforcement may bear the heaviest burden of all. With every encounter, officers have to wonder whether they'll be facing someone who is dangerously unstable and potentially violent. That possibility is always high. Among the inmates of the nation's jails, 15 percent of men and 31 percent of women have a serious mental illness, according to a 2015 study by the VERA Institute of Justice.
The last few years' spate of high-profile shootings -- both by and of police officers -- has escalated the tension almost unbearably in some communities. Police are acclimated to keep situations under control, but people with mental illness can be unpredictable, their responses to commands defiant or disassociated. Police are expected to quickly identify aggressors and perpetrators among victims and bystanders, but someone caught in the grip of delusions or paranoia can slide suddenly from any of those categories to another. And most police are motivated by the need to make positive change in their communities. Yet they end up confronting the same individuals time and again, often with only one option, jail, and the knowledge that people they haul to the local jail or crisis unit could be out again within a day.
It's no wonder many officers say they feel a mounting sense of powerlessness and futility. And Florida -- ranked the second-worst state for mental health funding per capita -- does a particularly poor job of supporting Floridians struggling with mental illness.
Those communities and their law enforcement agencies can't afford to pass the buck the way Congress and state legislatures can. Law enforcement leaders are looking for more peaceful and predictable solutions. There is clearly more to be done. Crisis services can help avert an immediate tragedy, but the Baker Act only authorizes treatment until a person is deemed stable. Florida needs better options for those who need longer-term treatment and medication. Services like Stewart-Marchman's FACT team, which provides comprehensive help to people who have been hospitalized multiple times for mental illness, have a good track record of keeping clients safe and out of trouble. But there's often a long wait for an open spot in that program.
Too many Florida leaders still see treatment services as acts of charity or luxuries. Florida law enforcement officials know better: It's a matter of community well-being and public safety, and too often, police officers are the ones who suffer when the safety net snaps. Through training and self-reflection, law enforcement agencies are pushing their officers to treat mentally ill people with dignity and defuse potentially dangerous situations without violence. But until Florida leaders change their priorities, police officers across the state will be trapped on the front lines of a war they have little chance of winning.

Thursday, 26 January 2017 15:18

2017 Wake-Up Call:The Doctor Is Out!

It's not my nature to end the year on such a somber note. Normally, I'm a pop-the-cork, hats-and-horns kinda gal, but this year is a little different. A“little” different? Hah!
So here it is: the single worst bit of health and wellness news as we look at 2016:
For the first time in 20 years, the National Center for Health Statistics reported, life expectancy in the U.S. declined.
This is a uniquely American phenomenon, points out Dr. Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. It's simply not happening in other developed countries.
Out of 43 countries, we are now rated -- hold on to your Dunkin' Donut -- 29th for life expectancy, just a tad behind Korea, Slovenia, Chile and the Czech Republic.
What's making America so sick? For starters, obesity is out of control. It's not getting better; it's getting worse. And that's only the tip of the melting iceberg. Americans are experiencing “rising” rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and -- the latest screw-up by mainstream medicine -- opioid addiction.
All this startling news has been widely reported, but I like to read about it on, where the fearless Dr. Joe Mercola uses evidence-based studies to rail against the corruption and breakdown of the American health care system.
The U.S. anti-obesity campaign is a big fat failure, he writes. I still believe that ex-first lady Michelle Obama deserves her reputation as a force for good in the last eight years, but not only did her anti-obesity campaign not improve the situation; kids are actually heavier than ever, and they are suffering from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and mental issues in record numbers.
Sick kids -- obese, sedentary or stressed -- become chronically ill adults, and the cost of tending to them will send health costs even higher than they are now, a whopping 17 percent of gross domestic product!
If U.S. doctors and policy makers decided to “reduce” health care costs by reducing “demand” - doctors pushing prevention, not just toxic and addictive drugs -- the country would have more than enough money to fix our schools, renew our infrastructure, and support wellness programs throughout the land.
"More than half of all Americans are chronically ill," Mercola reports. "I don't know about you, but I find this statistic absolutely astounding."
Me, too. Astounding! Especially since the majority of chronic illness is related to lifestyle choices: the amount of exercise you get, how you handle stress, how much you weigh, how much sleep you get, and yes, the amount of processed foods you eat and the beverages you drink.
"The root cause of most health problems can be traced back to a poor diet," Mercola explains. "Most Americans spend the majority of their food dollars on processed foods, most of which contain one or more of the three ingredients that promote chronic disease, namely corn, soy, and sugar beets, all three of which are also typically genetically engineered and contaminated with toxic pesticides."
It's too early to tell what the health policies of a Trump presidency will actually be, but I'm pretty sure that toxic pesticides have nothing to fear. Our food, water, air quality, drugs and household poisons will be subject to less regulation in the coming years, not more. Medicare and Medicaid are under attack, and there is no mention whatsoever of the need to “prevent” illness, not just treat it with expensive drugs that can make you even sicker.
The good news about all the bad news I've just burdened you with is this: 2017 is your wake-up call. Dr. Uncle Sam is doing next to nothing to protect you from rising rates of sickness and death. We have a broken health care system that is more interested in corporate profits than your personal health. More than ever, it's up to you.
And the best news of all is that you can make a difference:
--Move! Move! Move! And stop
sitting so much.
--Eat real food. Maintain a healthy
--Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
--Find healthy ways to release
--If you don't have one, start a
meditation practice.
Include two or three of these practices in your 2017, and even if the U.S. downward spiral continues, you'll be healthier than ever.
Oh, goodie. I've ended on a high note.

"I wish you love, health, peace and joy in 2017. May the rest of your life be the best of your life."

Marylynn Preston

Thursday, 26 January 2017 15:14

President Trump Silences Federal Employees

The Trump administration has imposed new restrictions on social media use and communication with press and legislators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and the Interior, raising fears of a president determined to tamp down opposing opinions.
The gag order came in a memo to EPA staffers telling them to stop issuing press releases, blog updates and social media posts and to cease awarding research grants. No new content can be placed on any website, and speaking engagements will be reviewed.
“List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press,” states the memo, which was leaked to several publications.
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists at the agency’s main research branch have been ordered to stop communicating with the public about their work.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters he did not know the reason for these moves but denied it was a concerted effort to silence federal employees.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that when there’s an administration turnover, that we’re going to review the policies,” Spicer said.
At this point, it is not clear whether the restrictions are indefinite or temporary.
Doug Ericksen, spokesman for the team transitioning the EPA to new leadership, told reporters the restrictions on communication could be lifted by the end of the week.
Ericksen said, “We’re temporarily dimming some of the communication aspects of the department while we get it under control, to shape the message towards what the new administration would like to be talking about.”
Trump is apparently using the restrictions in an attempt to reverse former President Barack Obama’s policies, but he needs the help of a federal workforce that he has now alienated, not only with the communications restrictions, but also with a federal hiring freeze intended to reduce the size of the bureaucracy.
Incoming administrations have been known to seek control over agency communications before Cabinet officials have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. But federal employees tell reporters that they have never seen a White House take such extreme steps.
Newly elected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, the former attorney general for that state, tweeted Tuesday, “This administration is launching direct attacks on truth and transparency in our gov’t. Very troubling – and honestly, anti-democratic.”
Environmental groups fear the gag orders mean Trump wants to cut off the public from government information on climate change and other environmental issues.
Sam Adams, U.S. director, World Resources Institute, said, “These actions will stem the free flow of information and have a chilling effect on staff in these agencies. This flies in the face of effective policymaking which requires an open exchange of ideas, supported by the best science and evidence available.”
“Curtailing communications from these agencies will hinder their ability to provide clean air and water and protect people’s health across the country,” said Adams. “The administration should lift these bans as soon as possible and ensure that the role of science is respected within our government agencies.”
“Many voted for Trump in hopes he would bring business acumen to this very big job,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director with the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “Public servants are left to struggle with this question: ‘How can America be great if its government is not?’”
In November, 2,300 scientists from all 50 states, including 22 Nobel Prize recipients, joined in an open letter calling on the Trump administration and 115th Congress to ensure that science continues to play a strong role in protecting public health and well-being.
Some signers have advised Republican and Democratic presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama.
“Americans recognize that science is critical to improving our quality of life, and when science is ignored or politically corrupted, it’s the American people who suffer,” said physicist Lewis Branscomb, professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, who served as vice president and chief scientist at IBM and as director of the National Bureau of Standards under President Nixon.
Federal scientists should be able to: conduct their work without political or private-sector interference; freely communicate their findings to Congress, the public and their scientific peers; and expose and challenge misrepresentation, censorship or other abuses of science without fear of retaliation, the letter states.
“A thriving federal scientific enterprise has enormous benefits to the public,” said Nobel Laureate Carol Greider, director of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University, who signed the letter.
“Experts at federal agencies prevent the spread of diseases, ensure the safety of our food and water, protect consumers from harmful medical devices, and so much more,” said Greider. “The new administration must ensure that federal agencies can continue to use science to serve the public interest.”

© Environment News Service (ENS) 2017.
All rights reserved.

Thursday, 26 January 2017 15:05


Crooks In Action, Cocaine Import Agency… supply your favorite definition for this alphabet agency. To be fair, the Agency must do good work too, but as practically everything the Agency does is secret, we will likely never get a fair and full reporting of it. What do the roughly 17,000 employees of the Agency do with the roughly $44-$48 Billion annual and unaccountable budget allocated to it? Like most things associated with the Agency, we know nothing about it… but, if little else, we do know about the history and development of the Agency, and through disclosures of groups like the IWG, we also know of aspects of its development, like the little-publicized incorporating of the Nazi establishment into the Agency for effectiveness’ sake. Let’s have a look.
We will have to go back to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), also known as the SSU (Strategic Services Unit), the forerunner of the CIA, and to its roots. On July 11, 1941, Colonel William Donovan (also a CFR member), at the request of FDR, created a plan for an intelligence agency, the first independent one in US history, modelled upon the English MI6, called at first the office of Coordinator of Information (COI, of which Donovan was Director), which later became the OSS. According to the IWG (International Working Group) created in the US in 1998 and charged with locating and making public Nazi war crimes documents, one of the first significant efforts the nascent intelligence organization undertook was toward the end of WWII. Before the Cold War with Russia started to manifest, before the formal creation of the CIA in 1947, the OSS felt it necessary to act in advance of developments in Russia. Having no network in place there, they allied themselves with those who had the knowledge--- the Nazis. The prime operative’s name was Reinhard Gehlen.
Beginning in April of 1942, Gehlen was director of German Armies East, Nazi Germany’s intelligence corps within occupied Soviet land. According to IWG documents, “Working immediately after the war with Army Intelligence, the Gehlen Organization (now independent) became the responsibility of the CIA… (o)ne document released by the IWG on June 26, 2000, shows an early connection between the SSU and Gehlen’s group. The SSU searched for members of Gehlen’s organization in POW camps and extensively interrogated them. As the Cold War developed in 1946, American intelligence officials found themselves lacking recent experience with Soviet intelligence activities and decided to use German experts on the Soviet Union--- even though some may have been war criminals.” As documents show, Gehlen and his associates did take part in “planning or carrying out Nazi enterprises involving or resulting in atrocities or war crimes.” His position in US intelligence operations was known as the “Gehlen Org”, and came to include many Gestapo and SS figures--- all a matter of record. Under stipulations of the Nuremburg Trials, US intelligence was to have arrested these very people (the Soviets were aware of all of this, and thought it meant that the US intended to overthrow the Soviet government and replace it with backers of the Nazis). The IWG stated, “Thus, the US reinstated in Germany the apparatus that had planned and carried out Nazi foreign operations during the World War.” According to Martin Lee in an article for the San Francisco Bay Guardian called “The CIA’s Worst Kept Secret”, “Although the Yalta Treaty stipulated that the United States must give the Soviets all captured German officers who had been involved in ‘eastern area activities’, Gehlen was quickly spirited off to Fort Hunt, VA.”
According to Dr. Christopher Simpson in his book, “Blowback”, which details the merger of the CIA and the Nazis, “The slaughter that followed the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 is without equal in human history… the most terrible crimes of the entire war took place in the name of anticommunism in the German-occupied territories on the eastern front. Civilian casualties in these areas were so enormous, so continuous and so extreme that even counting the dead has proved impossible… (t)he evidence indicates that between 3 and 4 million captured Soviet soldiers were intentionally starved to death in German POW camps between 1941 and 1944. About 1.3 million Jews were exterminated… (t)he generally accepted figure for all Soviet war dead is 20 million human beings--- about 15 percent of the country at the time--- but the destruction was so vast that even this number can only be an educated guess.” Gehlen and his organization came up with a secondary plan for Nazi POWs--- according to Simpson, “Gehlen derived much of his information from his role in one of the most terrible atrocities of the war: the torture, interrogation and murder by starvation of some 4 million Soviet prisoners of war… (t)rue, Gehlen’s men did not personally administer the starvation camps, nor are they known to have served in the execution squads. Such tasks were left to the SS, whose efficiency in such matters is well known. Instead, Gehlen’s men were in a sense like scientists who skimmed off the information that rose to the surface of these pestilent camps.” They planned like Eichmann and collected information like Mengele. “At least a half dozen of his first staff of 50 officers were SS or SD men…”, which extended his influence to much of Eastern Europe, where he was horribly effective. In incorporating Gehlen and his organization, US intelligence was supplied with an effective working network in Europe. Gehlen was a major player, and one to be cultivated. Which he was.
General Siebert, who was then the military intelligence chief for the US occupation zone in Germany, was a strong supporter of the use of Gehlen and his organization. To quote Simpson, “It is after all the job of any professional intelligence officer to learn anything there is to know about the groups on his payroll that might reveal their loyalty. General Siebert who by then had become the leading American sponsor of the Gehlen organization had not gotten to be chief of US Army intelligence in Germany by being naïve.” Another staunch supporter of using the Gehlen organization was Allen Dulles, famous for his intelligence capability, who would later become Director of the CIA. Apart from these two people, others charged with incorporating the Gehlen Org into the CIA were Richard Helms and William Casey, both later to become Directors of the CIA as well. It is completely incomprehensible that these men did not know of the work of Gehlen and his organization. Professor Simpson, quoted above, is a member of the Historical Advisory Panel of the IWG, and a noted authority on this history. Under the now-well-known “Operation Paperclip” many Nazis were brought to the US for the sake of the roles they might play in the efforts of our government, in spite of treaty and law, with only a small part of them identified and prosecuted by a couple of capable and determined members of the IWG, Elizabeth Holtzman and Eli Rosenbaum (the remainder of IWG members, numbering five and representing the State Department and the intelligence community, have apparently contributed little but obstruction to these efforts). An outstanding treatment of the actual, detailed history of the CIA--- revealing that much of the activity of the Agency has been kept secret not to avoid compromising national security, but rather to not show the Agency to be hamstrung by internal conflict, ineffectiveness, incompetence and even likely thievery (all due to no true oversight, in spite of the ineffectual President’s Intelligence Oversight Board, created of civilians by Ford for this very purpose, and made permanent by Reagan in 1981 by Executive Order) --- is “Legacy of Ashes”, by Tim Weiner, with the title derived from Eisenhower’s assessment of the failure of the Agency in covert and intelligence operations, given to Director Dulles upon Ike’s leaving the Presidency: “Nothing has changed since Pearl Harbor. I leave a legacy of ashes to my successor.”

Dave Bowman

Thursday, 26 January 2017 14:54


Jack Kennedy, now just who was he? A knight? Did America ever have those?

Ask anyone you encounter on the sidewalk, in the office or restaurant, “who was Jack Kennedy”, and the majority will likely tell you “I don’t know”. Some might offer that he was one of the famous Kennedy family, maybe even a brother to John. How many at this point know how many Kennedy brothers there were, or their names? Of course many past the age of 50 will remember many details, but the majority of people in this country now are not 50 or better.
Those who do recall our last American knight will know that he also went by the formal name of John. John F. Kennedy. JFK. His life has become mythic at this point, and like almost all myth created by contemporary media as a distraction, its details have largely been forgotten by a populace with a soundbite attention span. America does have myth. We are rich in it.
Long ago (over 50 years), but not far away, there existed in America a mythic place called Camelot. That is what the culture producers and myth makers called it, though the average person might have had little idea of what the reference might have been to. Camelot, a land of knights and ladies and bravery and crusades. Jack and Jackie certainly filled the role as knight and lady, powerful and regal, and Jack was completely the brave crusader. He gave his life for the crusade, your crusade. What crusade, you ask? Let’s look.
Jack’s crusade began with his resistance to the globalist push to involve America in the invented conflict in Vietnam (Jack had war experience having served in the Navy Reserve in WWII). If we remember the Vietnam war at this point, then we should also remember that the invented “Gulf of Tonkin” event that was used to accelerate American involvement in the conflict did not actually happen (better still, who remembers the “Pentagon Papers”?). A brief history lesson:
In the Yalta agreements secretly reached during WWII, it was determined that the US sphere of influence was to be Southeast Asia. The French had other ideas, and resumed their influence in what was called “French Indochina”, placing American ambitions on hold. Ho Chi Minh, after living in France and being influenced by different “socialist” groups, whom were influenced by Illuminati and Freemason philosophy, spoke before the Warburg brothers and other participants of the Versailles Peace Conference promoting greater rights in Indochina. In 1930 he founded the Vietnamese Communist Party, which the Soviets convinced him to change to a more generic Indochinese Communist Party, sounding more international. Ho was a nationalist though, and in 1941 he entered Vietnam with others and created the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam). When the Japanese invaded in 1945, Ho and General Giap worked with the American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) to resist. He received American aid long after the end of WWII. In October of 1945 de Gaulle of France ordered French troops into Vietnam, hoping to head off American ambitions in the region. Ho refused French offers of assistance, insisting on independence. In May of 1954 Ho and his General Giap finally defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu and forced them out. The French then backed the deposed emperor Bao Dai, forcing the division of Vietnam into North and South, with Ho being ceded control of the North, which he accepted the promise of the Geneva Accords of a vote on reunification--- the accords which were not signed by the US. The South, which contained most of the wealth and resources of Vietnam, came to be headed by Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic in a nation that was 95% Buddhist. Diem had lived in the US after the French withdrawal, and was cultivated by high-ranking officials and CFR members. Diem was supported by Col. Edward Lansdale, the head of the first military “advisors” (a recurring theme to this day) sent to aid the Vietnamese National Army (234,000 men). The Diem government, backed by the US, postponed indefinitely any vote on reunification. Journalist Michael McClear wrote, “All this suggests that the U.S. conspired against the Geneva terms…”. Civil war was all but guaranteed. Increasing violence prompted the assignment of more American “advisors”, a move not authorized by Congress. China and Russia supplied the North, while the South came to rely on the US. The stage was set. In 1954 Senator John F. Kennedy stated, “No amount of American military assistance in Indochina can conquer an enemy which is everywhere and at the same time nowhere, an ‘enemy of the people’ which has the sympathy and covert support of the people”. He sensed where this would lead.
By 1963, then-President Kennedy was the biggest obstruction to the ambitions of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower had so notably warned against, with Kennedy’s doubts about any greater involvement of the US in Vietnam. He would be overruled. His Special Advisor Galbraith stated, “Those of who worked for the Kennedy election were tolerated in the government for that reason and had a say, but foreign policy was still with the Council on Foreign Relations people.” The preponderance of CFR members in government led Kennedy to say, similarly to Reagan later, “I’d like to have some new faces here, but all I get is the same old ones.” It still operates that way today.
Kennedy would not accept being manipulated by others unelected. University of Pittsburgh Professor Donald Gibson wrote in his 1994 book “Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy Presidency”, “In fact the Establishment’s rejection of Kennedy became increasingly intense during his time in office.” Economist Seymour Harris called Kennedy “by far the most knowledgeable President of all time in the general area of economics… (w)hat he tried to do with everything from global investment patterns to tax breaks for individuals was to reshape laws and policies so that the power of property and the search for profit would not end up destroying rather than creating economic prosperity for the country.” In 1962 he made American steel corporations reverse price hikes. They resisted by freezing wages. He ordered his brother, Bobby, the Attorney General to begin a price-fixing investigation. They backed down. Not surprisingly, the board members of U.S. Steel, which had long been dominated by Morgan factions, featured many CFR members. He increasingly opposed the Federal Reserve by supporting greater investment and lending authority in independent banks, to the point of underwriting state and local bonds. He further authorized (take notice, all liberty-minded people) the issuing of over $4 billion in “United States Notes” by the U.S. Treasury (which has the only Constitutional authority to issue US currency), not the Fed. He meant to reduce the national debt by ceasing to pay interest to the Fed bankers, whom loan their private currency to the government at interest.
Think Trump is suggesting anything new? Kennedy offered tax incentives to return foreign investments made by US companies. Distinguished tax differences between productive and nonproductive investments, which would curtail tax havens and dodges. Remove any tax advantages for US-based global investment firms. He backed proposals to remove tax privileges for the rich. He advocated more taxes upon the larger oil companies (whom are controlled by the Rockefellers and Morgans to this day, whom largely control the banks). He wanted to rewrite the investment tax credit. He was continually attacked by the Rockefellers and the Wall Street Journal. Kennedy regularly opposed intervention in the internal affairs of other nations. By late in 1963 the US had more than 15,000 troops in Vietnam. Before that, Kennedy had grave doubts after the Bay of Pigs operation in 1961, doubting the reports from the CIA and the Pentagon. In October of 1963 Kennedy signed National Security Action Memo 263, which could have had the US out of Vietnam at the end of 1965, also requiring an initial reduction of military personnel during 1963. He rejected entering Laos, refuting many powerful people in the Pentagon and Congress (including many CFR members like Rusk, McNamara and the Bundys). He told Senator Mansfield that he had planned on “a complete withdrawal from Vietnam”, but could not do it before being given a mandate with reelection. He was deprived of a referendum from the people. Most people today who are even aware of it doubt the official story of his death. To that end, no less than Oswald’s wife, in a 1994 interview with A. J. Weberman, said, “The answer to the Kennedy assassination is with the Federal Reserve Bank. Don’t underestimate that. It’s wrong to blame it on Angleton and the CIA per se only. This is only one finger of the same hand. The people who supply the money are above the CIA.”
How far back we might have to go to find a comparison is debatable, but certainly in the last century-and-a-half or more, the American people have never had a greater champion, a brave knight fighting for their cause even, in the White House than Jack Kennedy. John or JFK if you choose.

Sunday, 25 December 2016 11:43

Politically Correct Santa

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a Wreck.....
How to live in a world that is politically correct ?
His workers would no longer answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labour conditions at the North Pole
Were alleged by the union, to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much 
Released to the wild by the Humane Society.
And gifts: nothing of leather, and nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made a lot of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Nothing for just boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that’s warlike or non-pacific.
He tried to be merry, he tried to be gay,
But you have to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere....even you.
So here is that gift, its price beyond worth....
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on Earth."
Harvey Ehrlich
Sunday, 25 December 2016 11:38

U.S. To Review Oil-by-Rail Flammability Risk

The federal government will take action on a petition by the state of New York seeking to close a loophole that currently allows highly flammable crude oil to be shipped by rail through communities in New York and across the country.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pleased that the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will act on his petition.
“In New York, trains carrying millions of gallons of crude oil routinely travel through our cities and towns without any limit on its explosiveness or flammability, which makes crude oil more likely to catch fire and explode in train accidents,” he said.

In December 2015, Schneiderman filed a petition for rulemaking to the PHMSA that would require all crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. to achieve a vapor pressure of less than 9.0 pounds per square inch.
The petition directly addressed the fact that despite recent derailments of trains carrying crude that have resulted in extraordinary explosions and uncontrollable fires there is no federal limit on the vapor pressure of crude oil transported by rail.
The petition argues that reducing crude oil vapor pressures to levels below 9.0 psi is not only practical, but is necessary for minimizing the risks and severity of accidents involving railroad tank cars.
Citing the Attorney General’s petition, PHMSA announced that it will be seeking comment on vapor pressure thresholds, and will evaluate the potential safety benefits of utilizing a threshold in regulating the transport of crude oil and other dangerous materials.
The comment period will begin on December 30, 2016 and end February 28, 2017.
Vapor pressure is a key contributor to crude oil’s explosiveness and flammability. Crude oils with the highest vapor pressures – such as crude produced from the Bakken Shale formations in North Dakota – have the highest concentrations of propane, butane, ethane, and other highly volatile gases.
While the vapor pressure of the crude involved in train accidents is frequently not disclosed, in the limited number of instances it is known – including the horrific Lac-Mégantic, Quebec accident on July 13, 2013 when a derailed oil train burst into flames, destroyed the downtown area, and killed 47 people – vapor pressures have exceeded 9.0 psi.

The rulemaking announcement can be found here:

© Environment News Service (ENS) 2016. All rights reserved.

Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Moscow centre of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in his interview with Diplomaatia.....

Who in Moscow regarded Trump’s victory as good news and who felt the opposite?

To me it seemed to be good news for the US. Trump’s victory may change the course of both domestic and foreign policy, which can only benefit the US. The US elite have alienated themselves from the majority of Americans. This is a very serious issue. In this respect, Trump’s victory sends the elite a very serious message—do not forget the citizens who live in a world that is materially and mentally very different from that of those who call themselves the leaders of the American nation. The US has always fascinated me with its ability to transform itself without a revolution and, for the last 150 years, without any civil wars. The forthcoming period in US history will be undeniably bitter but beneficial.

Will Trump’s victory improve the alarmingly poor relationship between the West and Russia or make it even worse?

Western-Russian relations are not the most crucial issue from the perspective of US foreign policy. The US has wandered off too far in the world. By that I mean that in my opinion, US foreign policy is gradually moving away from representing America’s national interests. For instance, in her campaign, Hillary Clinton advocated a no-fly zone over Aleppo almost until the very last weeks. If this included Russians, everything would be clear. Yet the question was not put in that way. If the no-fly zone was imposed without Russian involvement…

That would mean war?

…then the US would have to admit that it is pure bluff, because Russian aircraft will be flying in and out of that zone as they please, causing the entire (US) foreign policy to collapse, or the planes would have to be shot down. In the latter case, one must naturally bear in mind that Russian anti-aircraft systems will respond by targeting American planes. This may not yet be considered a war but it is a kinetic conflict. Will it serve the US interests? I do not believe so.

Putin’s telegram to Trump reads “accept my sincere congratulations”. How sincere were Putin’s congratulations?

I do believe they were sincere. To Putin, Trump is a person who has not exactly had anything good to say about Russia, but has at least refrained from attacking or blaming Russia, which has become the norm in America today. Putin was sincere because he sees Trump as a person who has not been afraid to say what he thinks. What he thinks is irrelevant, what matters is that he dared to speak up. This is rare in today’s politics.

When Putin and Trump meet for the first time, what will it take for them to get along?

A lot depends on whether they manage to agree once they sit down—Putin would say, like “two real men” (dva muzhika)—and begin actual negotiations. Putin’s main problem with Western leaders is that the latter are hypocritical, two-faced as a rule. This is the style of today’s Western leaders—they have to be hypocrites simply because democracy involves many different groups who should not be offended; they have to smile and say something to all of them. They have to navigate around everyone.

Are you saying that Putin does not get along with Western leaders because dealing with such hypocrisy is oh so uncomfortable for him?

Yes, he is uncomfortable because this makes it difficult to begin serious discussions.

Putin himself is not hypocritical, I take it?

There is a difference—while the West is overwhelmingly hypocritical, Russia is predominantly cynical. Russia is a cynical country. And when this Russian cynicism meets Western hypocrisy, things just won’t work.

So Putin is a cynic rather than hypocrite?

Of course he is a cynic. He does not need to be a hypocrite because his system does not force him to be. Naturally, he is sometimes hypocritical as well, but he can allow himself to be straightforward and cynical because we are not a democratic country. He is a tsar who controls the whole situation in the country, and therefore, he can allow himself to be blunt. I am exaggerating of course, but only a little.

A new theme park, recently opened by the Iranian government, trains young children to be revolutionaries and fight against the country's enemies. Every couple of months Iranian Govt holds boot camps for children.
A military-religious amusement park, called 'The City of Games Park for Revolutionary Children' in the city of Mashad, where young children 8 years old to 13 years old are given military uniforms and are taught to engage in “battles” against Iranian enemies like the U.S. and Israel.
The Child and the Future Cultural Center' director Hamid Sadeghi said, “At the City of Games, we are trying to convey to the children messages about fighting, the Holy Defense and current global issues, through games, amusements, and group activities.”
After registering at the park for free and putting on uniforms, the children are split up into squads of 8-10, they're issued a "commander".
The young soldiers are then put through 12 "activity stations" where they simulate the Iran-Iraq war, go through a “Revolution chamber,” are trained in defending various holy shrines, fire rubber bullets at an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and traverse a minefield with barbed wire.
The children are schooled about the directives of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At the various stations, the children can launch plastic missiles and fire plastic bullets at targets such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. and Israeli flags, effigies of ISIS fighters, and members of the Saudi royal family.
"At the final station, the children learn that the most important elements for attaining victory are wisdom and intelligence for fighting the enemy." said Sadeghi "At this station, the children are blindfolded and asked to throw a ball at an Israeli flag in the form of a puzzle and knock it down, and then to assemble a puzzle of an Iranian flag."
"So far, this City of Games has been in great demand... if the demand continues, we will extend it..."

For veterans who may have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to wartime trauma, their first step is to contact their local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center or outpatient center.
But if veterans require more care, they can voluntarily check in at inpatient centers such as the Bay Pines VA Medical Center here.
Bay Pines has a 14-bed residential program for veterans with war-caused PTSD.
Tony Taylor, program manager for the warzone PTSD program at Bay Pines, a Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran who’s worked with the VA for more than 36 years and has PTSD himself.
“I’ve seen tremendous changes,” he said. “We now have comprehensive programs designed to help veterans who suffer from PTSD. It’s a cooperative partnership we’ve established at this hospital where we have teams working together to help the veterans. The primary care doctor does the physical exam. The psychiatrists understand what medications have been proven to be effective for helping veterans with PTSD. We have psychologists and social workers who are trained in providing evidence based care for veterans with PTSD which is throughout the entire VA system,” he continued. “You will get the finest care possible through the VA system if you seek care at a VA hospital.”
Taylor said, "the next step is for veterans to be referred to the voluntary inpatient centers like Bay Pines by local Vet Centers or VA hospitals so there’s a continuity of care, both before the veteran arrives and for follow-up care after the veteran leaves Bay Pines. There are approximately 20 programs like Bay Pines."
Rose Stauffer, a licensed clinical social worker who’s been with the VA for five years and with Bay Pines for six months. She’s been in her career field 16 years.
“We can help bring down the anxiety and provide hope. People do find a way to recover from PTSD in that they can live a life that is meaningful to them, but it’s hard work and it’s a big process. There’s stuff that works and we can help you find it.”
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Manuel “Al” Alcantara, who’d served as a combat medic for more than 21 years, recently graduated from Bay Pines -- his second inpatient PTSD program.
Alcantara served three tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and he said his PTSD symptoms started showing up after his second deployment from 2005 to 2006.
He said he was in denial, destructive and had suicidal ideations. Alcantara went through his first inpatient treatment and was full of hope, but he regressed after he retired, having lost some of his battle buddies. He said he started pulling away from his family and friends and got divorced.
“I felt out of control again and the tools that I used to apply were failing. I was always angry at every little thing,” Alcantara said. “So I ended up here.”
“I learned I need support,” he continued. “I can’t do it alone. I’ve isolated myself, withdrawn and just avoided people for the last three years, and that hasn’t worked at all. I’ve learned how to make new friends and open up a little bit. Having someone who can understand you, someone who can empathize with what you’ve been through just helped me a lot. I’m not alone. Knowing my peers are going through what I’m going through helped a lot.”
Alcantara found a lifelong friend in his peer, Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran Jim Alderman. Alderman said he plans on teaching Alcantara how to cliff dive and other adventurous sports. Alderman said Bay Pines saved his life and he recommends it to other veterans.
Alderman was a force reconnaissance Marine who taught Navy SEALs ground and water survival. He also served as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, and taught close combat at the FBI Academy.
For 50 years, Alderman said he didn’t admit to himself that he had PTSD -- though he would wear a bulletproof vest and arm himself anytime he left his house. He was hesitant to go to Bay Pines for help but his wife, Pat, who he’s been married to since 1972, encouraged him to go.
Alderman said for years he thought, “I’m tougher than a bucket of nails. I am the best trained Marine the Marine Corps has ever had. I’ve been a drill instructor and a sniper. I’ve killed more people in more ways than you can shake a stick at. I can suck it up.”
“I guarantee you, there’s nobody tougher or more skeptical to do this than me and I would recommend anyone to just give it a shot,” he said. “It’s not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be a lot of tears, a lot of heartaches, a lot of just hope and joy."
“And you need support,” Alderman continued. “You’re not going to do this by yourself. If you think you can figure it out by yourself, you’ll be just like you are for the next 10, 20, 30 years to your family, to your friends and you start getting isolated more and more. You’ll start disliking things you used to love to do. I sat in a chair for 15 years playing a video game. I really isolated myself to absolute oblivion. I had a 9 mm sitting on my stand, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought about using it. And then I joined the VA.”
Wiping tears from his eyes, Alderman added, “I have absolute heartfelt gratitude. I just can’t thank everybody in this place enough. I was kind of embarrassed to ask for help, especially with something going on in my head. I was stuck in time, back in 1967. I’m not expecting to get cured. There’s no way you’re going to cure this but they gave me tools to handle it. If you come here and have the same experience I do, you’ll leave here a better person. You’ll have a little hope and purpose, that’s all I was looking for.”
Alderman recently graduated from Bay Pines and he plans to reach out to other veterans.

Shannon Collins
DoD News Features

Ed Note: While this facility has been great for these veterans mentioned, and endeavors to do it’s best for our Vets. recent news shows there’s much room for improvement. In light of news that one vet. who passed away, was left in a shower stall for 9 hours.