Posts tagged America
[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV contributor, Wendy McElroy]
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tightening its grip on domestic travcel. I don’t mean the random, unpredictable security checks at bus, subway and train stations which already exist. I mean a coordinated and systematic police control of internal travel within America. Groundwork is being laid.
APPLICATION TO MAKE U.S. INTO AN AIRPORT SCREENING ZONE
The application was tucked away on page 71431 of Volume 77, Number 231 of the Federal Register (November 30). It was surrounded by soporific references to forwarding “the new Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).”
The application for funding from the TSA constitutes a preliminary step toward systematically expanding TSA’s authority from airports to highways and almost every other means of public travel. The expansion would erase one of the last remaining differences between the US and a total police state; namely, the ability to travel internally without being under police surveillance. The total police state you experience at airports wants to spill into roads and bus stops, to subways and trains. Or, rather, the TSA wants to solidify and spread the fledgling and erratic presence it already has.
The official request reads, “TSA’s Highway BASE program [Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement] seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to major transportation asset owners and operators.” An example would be an owner and the employees of a long-haul truck company. The application continues, “Data and results collected through the Highway BASE program will inform TSA’s policy and program initiatives and allow TSA to provide focused resources and tools to enhance the overall security posture within the surface transportation community.”
Meanwhile, the Government Security News Service provides additional details on TSA’s plans. TSA wants funding to conduct “security-related assessments” on about 750 “transportation assets” including “140 public transportation agencies.” An example would be bus depots or train stations.
Security Magazine (May 30th) offered a sense of how sweeping the definition of “assets” might be, including “trucking, school bus, and motor coach industries, privately-owned highway assets that may include bridges and tunnels, and other related systems and assets owned and operated by state departments of education and transportation.”
At this point, the goal is merely “an assessment.” But when did a government agency ever conclude that it didn’t need funding, expansion and more power? This is especially true of the militarized TSA that treats the public as “hostiles.”
The fact that the agency lamented the lack of a “single database” on public transportation is not reassuring. (Federal Register, Vol.77, No.104, pg. 31867, May 30.) The entire push seems aimed at not merely expanding but also centralizing information, efforts and authority, with BASE itself being a consolidation of several other TSA programs.
By John Nicol and Dave Seglins, CBC News
Back and forth shipments prompt accusation of fraud, EPA and CBSA probes
The mystery of the trainload of biodiesel that crossed back and forth across the Sarnia-Port Huron border without ever unloading its cargo, as reported by CBC News, has been solved.
CBC News received several tips after a recent story about a company shipping the same load of biodiesel back and forth by CN Rail at a cost of $2.6 million in the summer of 2010. It turns out the shipments were part of a deal by a Toronto-based company, which made several million dollars importing and exporting the fuel to exploit a loophole in a U.S. green energy program.
The entire U.S. biodiesel market has been the centre of controversy and even legislative hearings this summer over problems with the regulatory program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The fallout and distrust of a market-based biodiesel credit system has had several repercussions for the industry, particularly for fledgling biodiesel companies trying to produce environmentally friendly fuel. The recent CBC reports on that train to nowhere have prompted an investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as well as a further investigation by the EPA.
The company that organized the train shipment was Bioversel Trading Inc. of Toronto. Its principal, Arie Mazur, gave CBC a detailed explanation this week explaining that the trip was all about RINs — renewable identification numbers — the credits set up by the EPA to promote and track production and importation of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
The complicated deal unfolded in the final two weeks of June 2010.
Train records used to generate millions in RIN credits
Bioversel Trading hired CN Rail to import tanker loads of biodiesel to the U.S. to generate RINs, which are valuable in the U.S. because of a “greening” policy regulating the petroleum industry. The EPA’s “Renewable Fuel Standard” mandate that oil companies bring a certain amount of renewable fuel to market, quotas they can achieve through blending biofuel with fossil fuel or by purchasing RINs as offsets.
Because RINs can be generated through import, the 12 trainloads that crossed into Michigan would have contained enough biodiesel to create close to 12 million RINs. In the summer of 2010, biodiesel RINs were selling for 50 cents each, but the price soon fluctuated to more than $1 per credit.
Once “imported” to a company capable of generating RINs, ownership of the biodiesel was transferred to Bioversel’s American partner company, Verdeo, and then exported back to Canada. RINs must be “retired” once the fuel is exported from the U.S., but Bioversel says Verdeo retired ethanol RINs, worth pennies, instead of the more valuable biodiesel RINs. Bioversel claims this was all perfectly legal.
However, one of the companies Bioversel approached to be the ‘importer of record’—Northern Biodiesel Inc. of Ontario, N.Y. — discovered that the same fuel was going back and forth across the border and the same gallons were being used to repeatedly generate new RINs under their company’s name. The company called the EPA and also sent a letter that would become an open letter to the biodiesel industry, accusing Bioversel of “trying to perpetrate a fraud against NBI and the Renewable Fuel Standard program.”
The EPA, which has a buyer beware policy for oil companies that buy RINs, did not act immediately, and the industry has been begging for it to play the role of sheriff on this case and others. The EPA won’t comment on continuing investigations, but insiders said the case is still under investigation.
Trust in US biodiesel credits shaken
Many observers of the Bioversel deal of 2010 doubt the RINs repeatedly generated on the same gallons of fuel are legal.
“If the facts in your story bear out, there needs to be some people go to prison,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the U.S. National Biodiesel Board. “It’s not a victimless crime. [RIN fraud] has impacted the livelihoods and jobs of absolutely everybody in this industry, and it has cost the folks in the petroleum industry who have to comply with this, millions and millions of dollars and it has put small- and medium-sized biodiesel producers completely out of business.
“We’ve taken this very seriously. I testified before the House energy oversight committee this summer. Congress has been whopping mad about [RIN fraud] as well.”
CBC has contacted the EPA repeatedly is recent days asking for an opinion on whether the Bioversel imports were legal. The agency has refused to comment.
Northern Biodiesel owner Bob Bechtold says his company’s role in the deal made it a victim. His firm agreed to act as importer to generate the RINs, but when the paperwork wasn’t forthcoming from Bioversel, one of his employees called CN Rail to find out what was happening at the border.
“All we got from [CN Rail] was that there was a curious thing happening, that there were a number of cars that just kept going back and forth across the Canadian border,” he told CBC News. “When we started smelling something that was weird, we called the EPA, and notified them that this was happening, and then we called the company that we were doing this transaction with and said we’re not doing any more business with you.”
Bechtold said Bioversel had a “fit.”
“First they threatened us that we were breaking the contract,” he said. “One person came here and tried to insist that I would be in a lot of trouble because of breaking the contract, and I assured him that I thought he would be in a lot more trouble if this continued. Then they offered to buy our company, which we thought was pretty absurd, and I basically sent him on his way.”
In its letter to the EPA, Northern Biodiesel cautioned its RIN company codes had been compromised, alleging that Bioversel’s partner company, Verdeo, took its numbers and made up new RINs “as if the biodiesel has been blended into the U.S. transportation fuel stream and separated from the renewable fuel. Then they were illegally sold by Verdeo to parties obligated to acquire RINs by the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Northern Biodiesel insisted the RINs issued were not valid because it had never received any bills of lading or chemical analysis reports from Verdeo, and thus Northern Biodiesel never reported/certified them with the EPA. However, millions of these RINs were sold in its name.
As a result, Northern Biodiesel RINs became tainted within the industry and Bechtold said that put him out of business.
“That was about the dumbest thing we ever did,” said Bechtold about the letter and coming forward to the EPA. “We thought we were saving the industry, doing good to protect the industry, but it ended up being the kiss of death for us, because we are no longer able to participate in the field.”
Beyond this case, the entire U.S. biodiesel RIN system has been plagued by problems, loopholes and even outright frauds. It has all undermined efforts to get U.S. industry to use more renewable fuels and has left big oil companies and other major fuel purchasers wary of smaller producers.
Biodiesel plant set for Welland, Ont.
Bioversel Trading told CBC News this week that everything it did was legal and insisted they never directly generated or sold RINS. The company also distanced itself from its partner Verdeo, even though one of Verdeo’s former names was Bioversel Trading (US), and Arie Mazur of Bioversel Trading (Canada) was a former director and executive of the US company.
Bioversel Trading of Toronto is at the centre of a probe by the European Union and the CBSA, which claims in search warrant documents (executed on their Toronto office last spring) that the firm is suspected of exporting American biodiesel to Romania and Italy while saying it was Canadian, to avoid huge duties. That would amount to violations of the Customs Act – but have never been proven. Bioversel Trading flatly rejects the CBSA allegations.
The Bioversel family of companies has changed its names in Canada and the U.S., and has also been embroiled in several lawsuits in the U.S. over its trading in biodiesel fuel.
One of the companies that shares the same Toronto office space, once known as Bioversel Sarnia Inc., is now known as Great Lakes Biodiesel (GLB), which is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Welland, Ont. Mazur’s lawyer said Mazur is no longer a director of Great Lakes, but confirms a Mazur’s involved in, Einer Canada, is a shareholder of GLB.
If it opens in early 2013 and meets its production targets, Great Lakes Biodiesel is eligible for $65 million in Canadian government subsidies over the next five years under the federal eco energy biofuels incentive program.
Republished with permission.
By Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse Blog
This is the time of the year when Americans run out to their favorite retail stores and fill up their shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic crap made by workers in foreign countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. By doing this, the American people are actively participating in the destruction of the U.S. economy. You see, buying products that are made in America is not just a matter of national pride. It is a matter of national survival. If we do not support American workers, they are going to continue to see their jobs shipped out of the country.
If we do not support American businesses, they are going to continue to die off at a staggering rate. Last year, the United States had a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 558 billion dollars. More than half a trillion dollars that could have gone into the pockets of U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went overseas instead. If that money had stayed in the country, taxes would have been paid on that mountain of cash and our local, state and federal government debt problems would not be as severe.
As a result of our massive trade imbalance, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of national wealth. Both major political parties have sold us out on these issues, and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day. We desperately need a resurgence of economic patriotism in the United States before it is too late.
Yes, I know that it is very tempting to buy foreign-made products. After all, they are almost always cheaper.
But most people don’t often think about why they are cheaper.
Unfortunately, in the name of “free trade” American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they have to compete directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. This makes employing American workers a tremendous liability.
If a company hires you and pays you 10 to 15 dollars an hour with benefits, how is it going to compete with another company that pays workers a dollar an hour with no benefits on the other side of the planet?
Both major political parties are pushing this emerging “one world economic system“, but it is absolutely killing American jobs. We have already seen a mass exodus of jobs and businesses out of this country, and wages for the jobs that remain in the United States are being forced down because there are hordes of unemployed workers that are willing to take just about any decent job they can find.
It has become painfully obvious that our politicians are not going to do anything to help us on these issues, so what we need is a mass awakening among the American people.
We need to educate people that buying things that are made in America is good for the economy and that buying things that are made elsewhere is bad for the economy.
But for now, most Americans are clueless. They will line up on Black Friday morning and trample one another in a desperate attempt to save a few bucks on cheap plastic devices that were made on the other side of the planet.
And they will pay for much of this “shopping” with credit cards.
Credit card debt is on the rise once again. In fact, average credit card debt per borrower was 4.9 percent higher in the third quarter of 2012 than it was in the third quarter of 2011. It looks like most of us didn’t learn our lessons from the last financial crisis.
But not all Americans enjoy the shopping that is typically involved with this time of the year. One recent survey found that approximately 45 percent of all Americans think that there is so much financial pressure associated with the holidays that they wouldn’t mind skipping them completely.
Ron Paul explains why he does not have anything positive to say about the US economy and future for Americans.
US President Barack Obama demanded from Congress immediate action to prevent America from falling of a so-called fiscal cliff, but Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) says it might be too late to keep the country afloat.
Speaking with Bloomberg Television on Thursday, the lawmaker who ran against Pres. Obama during the last two elections said he expects that America’s financial woes are beyond repair.
“We’re so far gone,” said the congressman, who will retire from the Hill this year after serving 12 terms in the House. “We’re over the cliff. We cannot get enough people in Congress in the next 5 to 10 years who will do the wise things. We have to prepare for having already fallen off the fiscal cliff.”
On the campaign trail leading up to the Nov. 6, 2012 election, Rep. Paul proposed an array of ideas he said would save the country from economic disaster, including returning to a gold standard and abolishing the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank. On his part, Pres. Obama vowed to keep the company in tact if elected to a second term, and Friday told reporters at the White House that he expects Congress to come to his side and do what’s right to prevent what Rep. Paul says is inevitable now.
Published on Oct 22, 2012 by TheBigPictureRT
So, your Nobel Peace Prize-winning European Union is demanding that indebted nations like Greece and Portugal privatize all their water resources if they want to continue receiving bail outs. As in – you want to stay in the Eurozone? Then hand over your most precious commons to transnational corporations. This is in line with the broader privatization agenda we’re seeing all around the world – especially here in America as water, roads, school, prisons – you name it – are all being privatized and taken out of the hands of “we the people.” These are all assaults on democracy.
For your reference:
“Legalized Plunder of the American People” – G. Edward Griffin
Published on Oct 2, 2012 by CaseyResearchFAN
To order the complete audio set from the Navigating the Politicized Economy Summit, available in CD and MP3 format, http://bit.ly/2012FallSummit
G. Edward Griffin discusses the Federal Reserve and it’s role in the declining economy at the recently concluded conference, Navigating the Politicized Economy.
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Picture of Billboard on Highway here in East Tennessee “America or Obama – You Can’t have Both”
I took this picture yesterday of this billboard on Highway 40 going East.
It is located right after the Buttermilk Rd. Exit and before the Oak Ridge Lenoir City Exit.
I think it states it very well!
It says at the bottom it was paid for by the “Roane County Tea Party”
As I see it the only real candidate that could have saved America is out of the running now (Ron Paul).
Romney is just as much as a puppet as Obama. So….. my choice is I WILL NOT VOTE!
The fear mongering is getting extreme. Libya, Egpyt and America the Battlefield.
As we now know, NDAA has been reinstated.
http://www.JoshTolley.com Progressive candidate, Mitt Romney, revealed as knowing he was perverting the GOP and continues to move the nation toward his version of Obamanation. GOP delegates too liberal to realize it!