More Slaves Today Than Ever Before In History
You would assume that – as messed up as things may be today – at least there is not widespread slavery, as in ancient Egypt or the American south.
But as Time Magazine noted last year:
Despite more than a dozen international conventions banning slavery in the past 150 years, there are more slaves today than at any point in human history. Slaves are those forced to perform services for no pay beyond subsistence and for the profit of others who hold them through fraud and violence. While most are held in debt bondage in the poorest regions of South Asia, some are trafficked in the midst of thriving development.
And given that there are some who would like to put all of us in debt peonage, we should stand up for freedom and justice whenever and wherever we can.
Labor Day … Or Serf Day?
As I noted in 2008:
A highly-regarded economist (Michael Hudson, Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, who has advised the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Latvian governments as well as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and who is a former Wall Street economist at Chase Manhattan Bank who also helped establish the world’s first sovereign debt fund) said:
“You have to realize that what they’re trying to do is to roll back the Enlightenment, roll back the moral philosophy and social values of classical political economy and its culmination in Progressive Era legislation, as well as the New Deal institutions. They’re not trying to make the economy more equal, and they’re not trying to share power. Their greed is (as Aristotle noted) infinite. So what you find to be a violation of traditional values is a re-assertion of pre-industrial, feudal values. The economy is being set back on the road to debt peonage. The Road to Serfdom is not government sponsorship of economic progress and rising living standards, it’s the dismantling of government, the dissolution of regulatory agencies, to create a new feudal-type elite.”
In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine ran an article entitled “The Next Big Thing: Neomedievalism“, arguing that the power of nations is declining, and being replaced by corporations, wealthy individuals, the sovereign wealth funds of monarchs, and city-regions.
The Government Continues to Destroy Jobs … Not Create Them
Despite pretty words and psuedo-jobs programs, government policy is unrelentingly destroying American jobs – instead of creating them – by:
- Encouraging companies to ship them abroad
- Sending a large percentage of the funds for bailed out banks abroad
- Encouraging mergers
- Paying banks to park their excess reserves, instead of deploying them as new loans to Main Street
- Encouraging redistribution of wealth upwards to the top .1% wealthiest
- Enacting policies which (1) turn a blind eye to Wall Street fraud, (2) prop up the too big to fail banks, asset prices and leverage at any cost, and (3) spend stimulus money on the military and huge Wall Street firms, instead of on average Americans
Labor Day Has Been Rendered Completely Meaningless
As Mark Provost has points out – the rich love high unemployment. Because all branches of government and the Federal Reserve are wholly captured by the top .1% (and see this, this and this), they are not very motivated to decrease unemployment.
And as David Rosenberg notes:
The “labor share of national income has fallen to its lower level in modern history … some recovery it has been – a recovery in which labor’s share of the spoils has declined to unprecedented levels.”
Indeed, the government has made it official policy to protect the fat cats instead of helping the little guy.
Due to Americans’ passivity in the face of those who act like lords, Labor Day has been rendered completely meaningless.
I’ve repeatedly noted that rampant inequality destabilizes the economy as a whole, and actually causes depressions … but that government policy is increasing inequality.
I’ve also pointed out that no one – liberal or conservative – likes runaway inequality.
Now, Jeffrey P. Thompson (Assistant Research Professor at the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Elias Leight (Assistant Analyst Tax Analysis Division of the Congressional Budget Office) have demonstrated that when the wealthiest Americans get richer, everyone else becomes poorer.
For example, they demonstrate that when the wealthiest Americans get 10% richer, middle income Americans get 2% poorer.
I’m back from a week-long vacation with my family. Thanks to the wonderful guest posters for their great reporting.
We’ll make guest posting a regular part of Washington’s Blog, and we’ll also get back to writing ourselves.
By David DeGraw, AmpedStatus.com
Finally, after trillions in fraudulent activity, trillions in bailouts, trillions in printed money, billions in political bribing and billions in bonuses, the criminal cartel members on Wall Street are beginning to get what they deserve. As the Eurozone is coming apart at the seams and as the US economy grinds to a halt, the financial elite are starting to turn on each other. The lawsuits are piling up fast. Here’s an extensive roundup:
As I reported last week:
Collapse Roundup #5: Goliath On The Ropes, Big Banks Getting Hit Hard, It’s A “Bloodbath” As Wall Street’s Crimes Blow Up In Their Face
Time to put your Big Bank shorts on! Get ready for a run… The chickens are coming home to roost… The Global Banking Cartel’s crimes are being exposed left & right… Prepare for Shock & Awe…
Well, well… here’s your Shock & Awe:
First up, this shockingly huge $196 billion lawsuit just filed against 17 major banks on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bank of America is severely exposed on this lawsuit. As the parent company of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch they are on the hook for $57.4 billion. JP Morgan is next in the line of fire with $33 billion. And many death spiraling European banks are facing billions in losses as well.
FHA Files a $196 Billion Lawsuit Against 17 Banks
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), today filed lawsuits against 17 financial institutions, certain of their officers and various unaffiliated lead underwriters. The suits allege violations of federal securities laws and common law in the sale of residential private-label mortgage-backed securities (PLS) to the Enterprises.
Complaints have been filed against the following lead defendants, in alphabetical order:
1. Ally Financial Inc. f/k/a GMAC, LLC – $6 billion
2. Bank of America Corporation – $6 billion
3. Barclays Bank PLC – $4.9 billion
4. Citigroup, Inc. – $3.5 billion
5. Countrywide Financial Corporation -$26.6 billion
6. Credit Suisse Holdings (USA), Inc. – $14.1 billion
7. Deutsche Bank AG – $14.2 billion
8. First Horizon National Corporation – $883 million
9. General Electric Company – $549 million
10. Goldman Sachs & Co. – $11.1 billion
11. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc. – $6.2 billion
12. JPMorgan Chase & Co. – $33 billion
13. Merrill Lynch & Co. / First Franklin Financial Corp. – $24.8 billion
14. Morgan Stanley – $10.6 billion
15. Nomura Holding America Inc. – $2 billion
16. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC – $30.4 billion
17. Société Générale – $1.3 billion
These complaints were filed in federal or state court in New York or the federal court in Connecticut. The complaints seek damages and civil penalties under the Securities Act of 1933, similar in content to the complaint FHFA filed against UBS Americas, Inc. on July 27, 2011. In addition, each complaint seeks compensatory damages for negligent misrepresentation. Certain complaints also allege state securities law violations or common law fraud. [read full FHFA release]
You can read the suits filed against each individual bank here. For some more information read Bloomberg: BofA, JPMorgan Among 17 Banks Sued by U.S. for $196 Billion. Noticeably absent from the list of companies being sued is Wells Fargo.
And the suits just keep coming…
BofA sued over $1.75 billion Countrywide mortgage pool
Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) was sued by the trustee of a $1.75 billion mortgage pool, which seeks to force the bank to buy back the underlying loans because of alleged misrepresentations in how they were made. The lawsuit by the banking unit of US Bancorp (USB.N) is the latest of a number of suits seeking to recover investor losses tied to risky mortgage loans issued by Countrywide Financial Corp, which Bank of America bought in 2008. In a complaint filed in a New York state court in Manhattan, U.S. Bank said Countrywide, which issued the 4,484 loans in the HarborView Mortgage Loan Trust 2005-10, materially breached its obligations by systemically misrepresenting the quality of its underwriting and loan documentation. [read more]
Bank of America kept AIG legal threat under wraps
Top Bank of America Corp lawyers knew as early as January that American International Group Inc was prepared to sue the bank for more than $10 billion, seven months before the lawsuit was filed, according to sources familiar with the matter. Bank of America shares fell more than 20 percent on August 8, the day the lawsuit was filed, adding to worries about the stability of the largest U.S. bank…. The bank made no mention of the lawsuit threat in a quarterly regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission just four days earlier. Nor did management discuss it on conference calls about quarterly results and other pending legal claims. [read more]
Nevada Lawsuit Shows Bank of America’s Criminal Incompetence
As we’ve stated before, litigation by attorney general is significant not merely due to the damages and remedies sought, but because it paves the way for private lawsuits. And make no mistake about it, this filing is a doozy. It shows the Federal/state attorney general mortgage settlement effort to be a complete travesty. The claim describes, in considerable detail, how various Bank of America units engaged in misconduct in virtually every aspect of its residential mortgage business. [read more]
Nevada Wallops Bank of America With Sweeping Suit; Nationwide Foreclosure Settlement in Peril
The sweeping new suit could have repercussions far beyond Nevada’s borders. It further jeopardizes a possible nationwide settlement with the five largest U.S. banks over their foreclosure practices, especially given concerns voiced by other attorneys general, New York’s foremost among them…. In a statement, Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said reaching a settlement would bring a better outcome for homeowners than litigation. “We believe that the best way to get the housing market going again in every state is a global settlement that addresses these issues fairly, comprehensively and with finality. [read more]
FDIC Objects to Bank of America’s $8.5 Billion Mortgage-Bond Accord
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is objecting to Bank of America Corp. (BAC)’s proposed $8.5 billion mortgage-bond settlement with investors, joining investors and states that are challenging the agreement. The FDIC owns securities covered by the settlement and said it doesn’t have enough information to evaluate the accord, according to a filing today in federal court in Manhattan. Bank of America has agreed to pay $8.5 billion to resolve claims from investors in Countrywide Financial mortgage bonds. The settlement was negotiated with a group of institutional investors and would apply to investors outside that group. [read more]
Fed asks Bank of America to list contingency plan: report
The Federal Reserve has asked Bank of America Corp to show what measures it could take if business conditions worsen, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation. BofA executives recently responded to the unusual request from the Federal Reserve with a list of options that includes the issuance of a separate class of shares tied to the performance of its Merrill Lynch securities unit, the people told the paper. Bank of America and the Fed declined to comment to the Journal. Both could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours. [read more]
Bombshell Admission of Failed Securitization Process in American Home Mortgage Servicing/LPS Lawsuit
Wow, Jones Day just created a huge mess for its client and banks generally if anyone is alert enough to act on it. The lawsuit in question is American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc. v Lender Processing Services. It hasn’t gotten all that much attention (unless you are on the LPS deathwatch beat) because to most, it looks like yet another beauty contest between Cinderella’s two ugly sisters. AHMSI is a servicer (the successor to Option One, and it may also still have some Ameriquest servicing).
AHMSI is mad at LPS because LPS was supposed to prepare certain types of documentation AHMSI used in foreclosures. AHMSI authorized the use of certain designated staffers signing with the authority of AHSI (what we call robosinging, since the people signing these documents didn’t have personal knowledge, which is required if any of the documents were affidavits). But it did not authorize the use of surrogate signers, which were (I kid you not) people hired to forge the signatures of robosigners. The lawsuit rather matter of factly makes a stunning admission… [read more]
Fraudclosure: MERS Case Filed With Supreme Court
Before readers get worried by virtue of the headline that the Supreme Court will use its magic legal wand to make the dubious MERS mortgage registry system viable, consider the following:
1. The Supreme Court hears only a very small portion of the cases filed with it, and is less likely to take one with these demographics (filed by a private party, and an appeal out of a state court system, as opposed to Federal court). This case, Gomes v. Countywide, was decided against the plaintiff in lower and appellate court and the California state supreme court declined to hear it
2. If MERS or the various servicers who have had foreclosures overturned based on challenges to MERS thought they’d get a sympathetic hearing at the Supreme Court, they probably would have filed some time ago. MERS have apparently been settling cases rather than pursue ones where it though the judge would issue an unfavorable precedent
3. The case in question, from what the experts I consulted with and I can tell, is not the sort the Supreme Court would intervene in based on the issue raised, which is due process (14th Amendment). But none of us have seen the underlying lower and appellate court cases, and the summaries we’ve seen are unusually unclear as to what the legal argument is. [read more]
Iowa Says State AG Accord Won’t Release Banks From Liability
The 50-state attorney general group investigating mortgage foreclosure practices won’t release banks from all civil, or any criminal, liability in a settlement, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said. [read more]
Fed Launches New Formal Enforcement Action Against Goldman Sachs To Review Foreclosure Practices
The Federal Reserve Board has just launched a formal enforcement action against Goldman Sachs related to Litton Loan Services. Litton Loan is the nightmare-ridden mortgage servicing unit, a subsidiary of Goldman, that Goldman has been trying to sell for months. They penned a deal to recently, but the Fed stepped in and required Goldman to end robo-signing taking place at the unit before the sale could be completed. Sounds like this enforcement action is an extension of that requirement. [read more]
Goldman Sachs, Firms Agree With Regulator To End ‘Robo-Signing’ Foreclosure Practices
Goldman Sachs and two other firms have agreed with the New York banking regulator to end the practice known as robo-signing, in which bank employees signed foreclosure documents without reviewing case files as required by law, the Wall Street Journal said. In an agreement with New York’s financial-services superintendent, Goldman, its Litton Loan Servicing unit and Ocwen Financial Corp also agreed to scrutinize loan files for evidence they mishandled borrowers’ paperwork and to cut mortgage payments for some New York homeowners, the Journal said. [read more]
Banks still robo-signing, filing doubtful foreclosure documents
Reuters has found that some of the biggest U.S. banks and other “loan servicers” continue to file questionable foreclosure documents with courts and county clerks. They are using tactics that late last year triggered an outcry, multiple investigations and temporary moratoriums on foreclosures. In recent months, servicers have filed thousands of documents that appear to have been fabricated or improperly altered, or have sworn to false facts. Reuters also identified at least six “robo-signers,” individuals who in recent months have each signed thousands of mortgage assignments — legal documents which pinpoint ownership of a property. These same individuals have been identified — in depositions, court testimony or court rulings — as previously having signed vast numbers of foreclosure documents that they never read or checked. [read more]
JPMorgan fined for contravening Iran, Cuba sanctions
JPMorgan Chase Bank has been fined $88.3 million for contravening US sanctions against regimes in Iran, Cuba and Sudan, and the former Liberian government, the US Treasury Department announced Thursday. The Treasury said that the bank had engaged in a number of “egregious” financial transfers, loans and other facilities involving those countries but, in announcing a settlement with the bank, said they were “apparent” violations of various sanctions regulations. [read more]
This Is Considered Punishment? The Federal Reserve Wells Fargo Farce
What made the news surprising, of course, was that the Federal Reserve has rarely, if ever, taken action against a bank for making predatory loans. Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, didn’t believe in regulation and turned a blind eye to subprime abuses. His successor, Ben Bernanke, is not the ideologue that Greenspan is, but, as an institution, the Fed prefers to coddle banks rather than punish them.
That the Fed would crack down on Wells Fargo would seem to suggest a long-overdue awakening. Yet, for anyone still hoping for justice in the wake of the financial crisis, the news was hardly encouraging. First, the Fed did not force Wells Fargo to admit guilt — and even let the company issue a press release blaming its wrongdoing on a “relatively small group.”
The $85 million fine was a joke; in just the last quarter, Wells Fargo’s revenues exceeded $20 billion. And compensating borrowers isn’t going to hurt much either. By my calculation, it won’t top $20 million. [read more]
Exclusive: Regulators seek high-frequency trading secrets
U.S. securities regulators have taken the unprecedented step of asking high-frequency trading firms to hand over the details of their trading strategies, and in some cases, their secret computer codes. The requests for proprietary code and algorithm parameters by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a Wall Street brokerage regulator, are part of investigations into suspicious market activity, said Tom Gira, executive vice president of FINRA’s market regulation unit. [read more]
And here’s part of the Collapse Roundup I wrote on August 25th, referenced in the beginning of this report – as you will see, I would probably make a lot more money as an investment adviser:
Collapse Roundup #5: Goliath On The Ropes, Big Banks Getting Hit Hard, It’s A “Bloodbath” As Wall Street’s Crimes Blow Up In Their Face
The chickens are coming home to roost. Reality is catching up with the market riggers (Fed, ECB, PPT, CIA) and the “too big to fail” banks are getting whacked. Trillions of dollars in bailouts and legalized (FASB) accounting fraud cannot save these insolvent zombie banks any longer. The Grim Reaper is on the horizon and his sickle will do what paid off politicians won’t, cut ’em down to size. So get your silver stake ready, time to plunge it into their vampire squid hearts….
What about Warren Buffet? He saved Goldman Sachs with a bailout in 2008. Can he save Bank of America?…
Warren’s bailout will help BofA over the short run, but $5 billion is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to their problems. The only thing his $5 billion will accomplish is a temporary run up in stock value so everyone who has been killed on the plummeting stock price can then jump out without complete loss….
Goldman Sachs TANKS After CEO Lloyd Blankfein Hires Famous Defense Lawyer
Is the Goldman Sachs CEO facing a new lawsuit?
The market seems to think so. Goldman Sachs just tanked in minutes before the close after news that Lloyd Blankfein hired a lawyer famous for defending vilified execs. It’s back up a bit since dropping over 5%, but the news is still concerning.
It’s unclear whether the lawyer is for him, Goldman Sachs, or both, but Goldman Sachs’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein hired Reid Weingarten, a high profile defense attorney who says “I’m used to these monstrously difficult cases where everybody hates my clients,” according to Reuters.
Reuters says the hire might have something to do with accusations of Blankfein’s committing perjury. Or something else:
One former federal prosecutor, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Blankfein may have hired outside counsel after receiving a request from investigators for documents or other information. [read full report]
Speaking of hiring lawyers…
The Global Banking Cartel’s Crimes Are Being Exposed Left & Right…
Blowing Up In Their Face… Prepare for Shock & Awe…
BOOM! Moody’s exposed:
MOODY’S ANALYST BREAKS SILENCE: Says Ratings Agency Rotten To Core With Conflicts
A former senior analyst at Moody’s has gone public with his story of how one of the country’s most important rating agencies is corrupted to the core.
The analyst, William J. Harrington, worked for Moody’s for 11 years, from 1999 until his resignation last year.
From 2006 to 2010, Harrington was a Senior Vice President in the derivative products group, which was responsible for producing many of the disastrous ratings Moody’s issued during the housing bubble.
Harrington has made his story public in the form of a 78-page “comment” to the SEC’s proposed rules about rating agency reform….
Here are some key points:
* Moody’s ratings often do not reflect its analysts’ private conclusions. Instead, rating committees privately conclude that certain securities deserve certain ratings–but then vote with management to give the securities the higher ratings that issuer clients want.
* Moody’s management and “compliance” officers do everything possible to make issuer clients happy–and they view analysts who do not do the same as “troublesome.” Management employs a variety of tactics to transform these troublesome analysts into “pliant corporate citizens” who have Moody’s best interests at heart.
* Moody’s product managers participate in–and vote on–ratings decisions. These product managers are the same people who are directly responsible for keeping clients happy and growing Moody’s business.
* At least one senior executive lied under oath at the hearings into rating agency conduct. Another executive, who Harrington says exemplified management’s emphasis on giving issuers what they wanted, skipped the hearings altogether. [read full report]
BOOM! The SEC Caught Covering Up Wall Street Crimes:
Matt Taibbi Exposes How SEC Shredded Thousands of Investigations
An explosive new report in Rolling Stone magazine exposes how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s largest banks and hedge funds, including AIG, Wells Fargo, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and top Wall Street broker Bernard Madoff. Last week, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said an agency whistleblower had sent him a letter detailing the unlawful destruction of records detailing more than 9,000 information investigations. We speak with Matt Taibbi, the political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine who broke this story in his latest article….
KA-BOOM! The Fed And All Their Crony-Capitalist Cartel Members Exposed, Yet Again:
Wall Street Pentagon Papers Part III – Are The Federal Reserve’s Crimes Still Too Big To Comprehend?
Another day, another trillion plus in secret Federal Reserve “bailouts” revealed. Bloomberg News exposes this latest Fed “deal” after winning a long Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) legal battle to get the details on what was done with the American people’s money. Their report runs with an AmpedStatus style headline: “Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion From Fed.”
The aristocracy is alive and well… thanks to the Fed, of course.
Keep in mind, this $1.2 trillion is in addition to the $16 trillion the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit revealed and the over $2 trillion in Quantitative Easing the Fed dished out, not to mention the now continued promise of the Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP). This is also separate from the $700 billion TARP program that Congress approved. This is yet another unknown secret program, throwing another mere $1.2 trillion in public money at the Wall Street elite (global banking cartel), just being revealed now.
Those of us paying attention over the past three years have had Fed crony-capitalism on steroids fatigue for awhile now. Nonetheless, this is deja vu all over again as another mindbogglingly huge story that must be covered comes to light.
Here are the details of this latest revelation:
Speaking of the $16 trillion GAO audit…
BOOM! GAO audit exposed, missing some vital details:
More on how the GAO’s Fed audit failed to disclose some dirty secrets about BlackRock and JP Morgan
In its review of the Fed’s outsourcing practices, it failed to mention the most damaging and suspicious sole-source (no bid) contract awarded to BlackRock, which was for handling the New York Fed’s toxic Bear Stearns portfolio, otherwise known as Maiden Lane. This contract would generate $108,000,000 in fees and was one of the largest awarded during the bailout period, but it might also have saved JP Morgan $1.1 billion in losses from its Bear Stearns acquisition….
Also, BlackRock was also one of the managers of the NY Fed’s separate $1.25 trillion MBS purchase program as part of QE1. Contrary to the lie on the NY Fed’s webpage (that the MBS auctions were conducted via competitive bidding), the NY Fed’s own purchasing manager, Brian Sack, admitted in a paper that, “the MBS purchases were arranged with primary dealer counterparties directly, [and] there was no auction mechanism to provide a measure of market supply.”
Putting it all together, it looks like Jamie Dimon signed off on hiring BlackRock for no justifiable reason to trade the very Maiden Lane portfolio that could have caused his bank, JP Morgan, to lose up to $1.1 billion. And, it was entirely possible that BlackRock saved the portfolio by trading the MBS portion of ML with the New York Fed directly as QE1 was underway. [read full report]
BOOM! Bear Stearns exposed:
Report Says Bear Stearns Executives Sold Illegal RMBS and Covered It Up
Former back office employees from Bear Stearns are coming out of the woodwork to explain how Tom Marano’s mortgage group cheated their own clients out of billions. This week I reported at The Distressed Debt Report, EMC insiders say they were told to make up the classification for whole loans, packaged into mortgage securities, to get them switched out of the trust. By classifying the loans as ‘prepaid’ or having ‘subsequent recoveries’ Bear employees were able to fool the trustee into giving them back loans they were not able to legally service. A move New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is actively investigating now.
In my latest DealFlow story we hear from EMC staffers who describe how subprime loans, that would have been sold by Bear Stearns trader Jeff Verschleiser’s team, never had a proper servicing license in West Virginia when they were packaged into the residential mortgage backed security. In 2003 Bear/EMC put $100 million of subprime loans from West Virginia into a few RMBS transactions. EMC, the banks wholly owned mortgage servicing shop, would service all of Bear’s RMBS after they were sold.
A year latter, when senior executies realized the mishap instead of Bear going out and informing their regulator and applying for a license, they orchestrated a cover up and even threaten EMC employees not to talk about it. [read full report]
The big banks are getting lit up!
You shall reap what you sow.
Karma is a … bit@h. [read full report]
Let’s end with this video. We need to keep in mind that the Federal Reserve has known about all of this criminal activity from the start. Yet, they have done everything they could, and are still trying, to keep this criminal operation up and running. As all these criminal banks begin to blow up, let’s not forget who their central bank is and what they have done to the American people.
Cenk, take it away and drive the point home:
– David DeGraw is the founder and editor of AmpedStatus.com. His long-awaited book, The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III, will finally be released on September 28th. He can be emailed at David[@]AmpedStatus.com. You can follow David’s reporting daily on his new personal website: DavidDeGraw.org
By David DeGraw, AmpedStatus.com
Tropical storm Lee threatens severe flooding in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi
Tropical Storm Lee now has winds approaching 60 miles per hour. Louisiana has heavy rain, and authorities warn of flooding in Alabama and Mississippi as well. States of emergency have been declared.
A tropical storm moving toward the Gulf Coast is predicated to bring massive flooding to Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi this weekend, particularly in New Orleans where up to 20 inches of rain is expected. Tropical Storm Lee will hit southwest Louisiana by Saturday afternoon. The storm is moving southwest of the Mississippi River with maximum sustained winds approaching 60 miles per hour. Flash flood warnings are in effect, covering Mississippi to Texas. A tropical storm warning is also in effect along the coast, stretching from the Alabama-Florida border to the Sabine Pass in Texas. [read more]
Despite $10 billion effort to rebuild, New Orleans levees get a near-failing grade in new corps rating system
A new Army Corps of Engineers rating system for the nation’s levees is about to deliver a near-failing grade to New Orleans area dikes, despite the internationally acclaimed $10 billion effort to rebuild the system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, corps officials have confirmed. [read more]
Lee already causes thousands of power outages in Louisiana
Tropical Storm Lee knocked out power early on Saturday for more than 38,000 customers, primarily in the New Orleans area, said a utility company that provides power for most of Louisiana. Outages are expected to increase as the storm moves ashore… [read more]
Repairs Urgently Needed in Vermont
Of all the challenges facing Vermont as it tries to recover from the floods caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, there may be none more daunting — or vital to solve — than repairing and reopening the hundreds of roads and dozens of bridges that the storm knocked out. In many spots, the roads must be fixed before equipment can be brought in to repair everything from homes and businesses to the power grid, railroad tracks and water and wastewater systems.
It is a race against time: winter comes early here, and there are just two and a half months before snowfall and frozen ground typically halt the state’s short road-building season. [read more]
Dramatic Aerial Imagery of Irene’s Destruction in Outer Banks
The power of Hurricane Irene was clearly apparent to people in its path, but the extent of the damage may be easier to appreciate when seen from above. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using aerial photographs like the one above to assess Irene’s destruction. In this image of Hatteras Island in North Carolina taken on Aug. 28, the largest breach of Highway 12, which runs along the Outer Banks, can be seen. Water is flowing between Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, stranding at least 2,500 residents of the island. [read more]
Vermont’s misery continues as flooding isolates communities
Residents of Vermont know their work is cut out for them as they struggle for normalcy after enduring the wrath of Irene. The landlocked rural state saw fast-moving floods spawned by the storm swarm towns from Brattleboro to Woodstock. “It’s heartbreaking to see your home and home state destroyed — and seeing places and landmarks that you can recognize even from early childhood now destroyed by flooding,” said Ryan Ritter who lives in Rutland near the state’s border with New York. There was no way in or out of his town, the 20-year-old Ritter said. [read more]
From Waterbury to Wilmington, Vermonters shocked by Irene’s destruction
Vermonters will need weeks to begin to recover from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Irene that killed at least three people and left a trail of devastation from St. Johnsbury to Bennington. That sentiment is reverberating across Vermont, echoed by everyone from Gov. Peter Shumlin to shell-shocked homeowners victimized by the torrent. “This is the most violent thing I’ve ever seen,” said Scott Bradley, director of public safety in flood-ravaged Mendon, seeming to speak for the countless Vermonters who watched roads, houses, bridges and businesses wash away in Sunday’s torrent. [read more]
Power outages, flooding continue in wake of Hurricane Irene
Of the estimated 5.5 million homes and businesses that lost electricity as a result of the storm, one fifth of these—1.1 million—were still without power as of Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Worst affected were Connecticut, with 16 percent of customers without power, and Rhode Island, where 14 percent were still waiting for it to be restored. The nation’s electric grid, with power lines predominantly above ground, is prone to blackouts. Homes often lose power due to thunderstorms or blizzards, let alone major storms. While authorities are well aware that major hurricanes and tornadoes will sooner or later strike, nothing is done to prepare for them because the power grid is controlled by a network of private energy conglomerates. Neither the energy giants nor the government has any interest in spending the money required to upgrade the system to provide reliable delivery of electricity—a basic necessity—to the population. [read more]
‘Astronomical’ High Tide, Typhoon Nanmadol In China Create Massive Waves
Massive waves crashed against the coast of China’s Zhejiang Province as effects from an approaching typhoon coincided with an “astronomical tide.” The high tide creates 60-foot waves 10 days during the lunar calendar… Residents and tourists often head to the coast every August to watch the waves, according to China’s Central Television. Winds from Typhoon Nanmadol intensified their force and height. [read more]
6.4 earthquake shakes northern Argentina
A magnitude-6.4 earthquake has struck north-central Argentina, shaking things up enough to make people evacuate some buildings in the capital hundreds of miles away. The U.S. Geological Service says the quake’s epicenter was 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Santiago del Estero, a provincial capital of 250,000 people and the 12th-largest city in Argentina. [read more]
Major 6.8 quake rocks Alaska
A major earthquake measuring a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 has rocked remote portions of Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. The USGS issued, then canceled, a tsunami warning for Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. It also lowered the magnitude to 6.8. Updated at 11:22 a.m. ET: Alaska Native News has weighed in on the quake, noting that the area “is frequented by earthquakes every day, although a majority of them have a magnitude less than this. [read more]
Earthquake caused massive nuclear storage casks to move
Last week’s central Virginia earthquake caused 25 spent-fuel storage casks — each weighing 115 tons — to move on their concrete pad at Dominion Virginia Power’s North Anna nuclear power plant. The shifting of these massive casks holding used nuclear fuel was the first caused by an earthquake in the U.S., according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. None of the metal cylinders was damaged and no radiation was released, Dominion Virginia Power said. Like hockey pucks on a jostled tray, the 16-foot tall casks shifted from an inch to 4½ inches, utility company spokesman Rick Zuercher said. [read more]
Quake risk to nuclear reactors far higher than realized
The risk that an earthquake would cause a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an AP analysis of preliminary government data. The nation’s nuclear regulator believes a quarter of America’s reactors may need modifications to make them safer. The threat came into sharp focus last week, when shaking from the largest earthquake to hit Virginia in 117 years appeared to exceed what the North Anna nuclear power plant northwest of Richmond was built to sustain. [read more]
Texas fires: 80% of state in ‘exceptional’ drought
The U.S. Drought Monitor has released a new map of drought conditions across the nation, and it’s not a pretty picture for Texas. About 80% of the state is currently experiencing exceptional drought. See what looks like a bloody scab in the bottom center of the country? The brick-red color indicates exceptional drought. The brighter red is considered the not-quite-as-bad extreme drought. And the sunny yellow color? That’s only severe drought. Slightly more than 99% of the state is in severe drought or worse. Here’s a closer view. The U.S. Drought Monitor map is put together by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb. [read more]
Heat kills more than 124,000 fish in Texas lake
More than 124,000 fish died at Lake Grapevine this week as this summer’s nonstop heat severely depleted oxygen levels, an official with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said. “There were lots of dead fish stacking up at the Silver Lake Marina,” said Tom Hungerford, a fisheries biologist for the agency. The marina is at the southeast end of the lake near the dam. Almost all the dead fish were threadfin shad, biologist Melissa Dudley said. [read more]
Expanding Deserts, Falling Water Tables, and Toxic Pollutants Driving People from Their Homes | Lester Brown
People do not normally leave their homes, their families, and their communities unless they have no other option. Yet as environmental stresses mount, we can expect to see a growing number of environmental refugees. Rising seas and increasingly devastating storms grab headlines, but expanding deserts, falling water tables, and toxic waste and radiation are also forcing people from their homes.
Advancing deserts are now on the move almost everywhere. The Sahara desert, for example, is expanding in every direction. As it advances northward, it is squeezing the populations of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria against the Mediterranean coast. The Sahelian region of Africa—the vast swath of savannah that separates the southern Sahara desert from the tropical rainforests of central Africa—is shrinking as the desert moves southward. As the desert invades Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, from the north, farmers and herders are forced southward, squeezed into a shrinking area of productive land. A 2006 U.N. conference on desertification in Tunisia projected that by 2020 up to 60 million people could migrate from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa and Europe. [read more]
Vast ice island set to break off Greenland glacier
New photographs taken of a vast glacier in northern Greenland have revealed the astonishing rate of its breakup, with one scientist saying he was rendered “speechless.” In August 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier about four times the size of Manhattan island broke off , prompting a hearing in Congress. Researcher Alun Hubbard, of the Centre for Glaciology at Aberystwyth University, U.K., [said] that another section, about twice the size of Manhattan, appeared close to breaking off. [read more]
Space junk ‘at tipping point’
The amount of debris orbiting the Earth has reached “a tipping point” for collisions, which would in turn generate more of the debris that threatens astronauts and satellites. Nasa needs a new strategic plan for mitigating the hazards posed by spent rocket bodies, discarded satellites and thousands of other pieces of junk flying around the planet at speeds of 28,164km/h, the US National Research Council said in a study published yesterday. [read more]
The return of the BP disaster
Oil has been surfacing all over the northern quadrant of the Gulf of Mexico for several weeks now, according to residents. Reports of slicks that meander for kilometres and huge expanses of oil sheen that look like phantom islands are becoming common again. Fresh oil, only slightly weathered, has been washing ashore in areas hit hardest by last year’s disaster. These areas include Breton Island, Ship Island, the Chandeleur Islands, and northern Barataria Bay, Louisiana. BP has reactivated its Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) Program to handle clean-up operations. [read more]
New leak near Deepwater Horizon site quickly becoming a massive oil slick
Over the past two weeks, I have been closely following reports of renewed leaking in the Macondo oil field, the site of last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.
First, New Orleans Lawyer Stuart Smith reported that nearly 40 ships were hired by BP to conduct a boom-laying mission over the August 13th weekend. Next, nonprofit organizations On Wings of Care and Gulf Restoration Network conducted a joint flyover of the spill site, bringing back photographic evidence of fresh oil near the site of the Macondo well. This in turn prompted reporters from the Mobile Press-Register to hire a boat out to the site, where they found massive “globules” of oil rising to the surface, creating a growing sheen on the water. [read more]
Dispersants Used in BP Gulf Oil Spill Linked to Cancer
Five of the 57 ingredients in dispersants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on oil spills are linked to cancer, finds a new research report based on data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by environmental groups on the Gulf of Mexico. The report from Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, along with Toxipedia Consulting Services, is based on material released by the U.S. EPA in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by Earthjustice on behalf of the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation.
Dispersants are used to clean up oil spills and contain chemicals that break up oil into smaller droplets and move the oil from the surface of the water into the water column. Two oil dispersant products were used heavily in the BP oil leak: COREXIT 9500 and 9527, both produced by Nalco/Exxon. BP used over 1.8 million gallons of dispersant during the three-month long oil leak that gushed 4.9 million barrels of crude oil from the Macondo well located about 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast. [read more]
Toxicologist: Michigan oil spill far more toxic than admitted
The medical community knows this,” she says. “The public policies have not been adjusted to reflect the new science because the petrochemical lobby is so strong that it is blocking the health consequences of our continued oil use.” Ott says sick people are a problem for oil companies and the government. “It’s not just a simple pipeline break or a rig blow out. It’s America’s energy future, the politicians have no exit strategy off oil,” she says. “So they minimize the costs in sick people, lost babies, it doesn’t matter. That’s what we’re seeing. Battle Creek is a pawn in this giant bid for Alberta tar sands. It doesn’t matter that it happened in Battle Creek … there will be countless communities in the future. What is starting to change is that — after witnessing this over two decades now — this is a decision that is not going to be made by the politicians, our energy policy, it’s going to be the people. Fracking, tar sands, there is a moral obligation for future life and immediate public health that we do something different. That will give enough transformation to bring the politicians along. [read more]
10 Facts About Global Energy Consumption That Will Surprise You
In fact, global energy consumption grew 5.6 percent in 2010, the highest rate since 1973. Discover 10 other fascinating facts about worldwide consumption. [read more]
Cesium leak equal to 168 ’45 A-bombs – NISA compares contamination to Hiroshima blast
The amount of radioactive cesium ejected by the Fukushima reactor meltdowns is about 168 times higher than that emitted in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the government’s nuclear watchdog said….
The report said the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant has released 15,000 terabecquerels of cesium-137, which lingers for decades and can cause cancer, compared with the 89 terabecquerels released by the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. [read more]