50 VA hospital workers claim retaliation for blowing whistle on the horrors they saw

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Say others are afraid to come forward

When Valerie Riviello, a nurse at a Veterans Affairs facility in New York, saw the clinic restrain a sexual assault survivor to a bed for seven consecutive hours, she released the woman.

The next day, Ms. Riviello said, she was removed from her post as senior nurse manager and given a full-time desk job that prohibited her from contact with patients. She eventually was reprimanded and is facing a 30-day unpaid suspension for releasing the woman.


SEE ALSO: Obama picks ex-P&G head to lead Veterans Affairs


Now, Ms. Riviello is one of more than 50 whistleblowers who say the Veterans Affairs Department retaliated against them for trying to do their jobs.

The complaints got backing last week from the Justice Department’s office of special counsel, which issued a stern warning for the VA to shape up.

Ms. Riviello said her reprimand for the November incident has cowed other nurses at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in New York.

When the facility put the same female patient under restraints for 49 continuous hours in February, as a convenience to doctors who wanted to enjoy their holiday weekend, none of the nurses wanted to speak up, Ms. Riviello said.

“The nurses are afraid to complain or report anything,” she said. “They have 100 things they’ve noticed, but they’ve seen what is happening to me so they’re afraid to report anything.”

Ms. Riviello said the workplace is hostile and she thinks she is being bullied.

A Stratton VA official said the hospital takes the accusations “very seriously” and encourages all employees to report their concerns.

“VA employees have a number of venues available to them to raise issues and concerns,” said Peter Potter, director of public affairs for the facility. “The Albany Stratton VA Medical Center values all internal and external reviews as opportunities to affirm the quality of our medical care and practices and to identify opportunities for improvement.”

Ms. Riviello, a 28-year veteran of the VA health care system, disagreed. She said her unblemished record has been tarnished by the reprimand.

“I feel like I’ve been humiliated and it’s tarnished,” she said. “Sitting at a desk eight hours a day doing a project that is something to keep me away from the clinical arena, it’s too much.”

The VA has come under scrutiny after reports surfaced that the Phoenix facility was cooking its scheduling books and that some veterans had died while awaiting care. Whistleblowers at other facilities then came forward with similar reports of secret wait lists and poor scheduling, some of which have been substantiated by an internal audit.

Several subsequent reports have said the VA failed to heed the warnings of whistleblowers, who sounded alarms about waiting lists and about substandard care.

“The recent revelations from Phoenix are the latest and most serious in the years-long pattern of disclosures from VA whistleblowers and their struggle to overcome a culture of nonresponsiveness,” according to the letter from the special counsel’s office. “Too frequently, the VA has failed to use information from whistle blowers to identify and address systemic concerns that impact patient care.”

Story Continues →

Read more:  Washington Times
ALSO:

Protestors Launch a 135-Foot Blimp Over the NSA’s Utah Data Center

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Via WIRED

Activist groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace launched the 135-foot thermal airship early Friday morning to protest the agency’s mass surveillance programs and to announce the launch of Stand Against Spying, a website that rates members of Congress on their support or opposition to NSA reform. The full message on the blimp reads “NSA: Illegal Spying Below” along with an arrow pointing downward and the Stand Against Spying URL.

“We thought it would be fun to fly an airship around the Utah data center, which in many ways epitomizes the NSA’s collect-it-all strategy,” says Rainey Reitman, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We wanted to have a way to symbolize that our movement is getting quite confrontational with NSA surveillance in a visceral way.”

The protestors launched the blimp, which is owned by Greenpeace and named the AE Bates after a longtime Greenpeace volunteer, at 6 a.m. to capitalize on calm weather. They flew it 1,000 feet over the Bluffdale facility.1

The stunt was timed, Reitman says, to approximately a year after the political debate on NSA spying began. “Many members of congress have acted as roadblocks or sat on the sidelines of this debate,” she says. “The time had come for us to be very honest with the general public about those who have and haven’t called for NSA reform.”

Greenpeace became involved in the project as a plaintiff in a lawsuit the EFF filed against the NSA last year, which accused the agency of intimidating activists with its mass phone metadata collection programs. Their blimp has made earlier appearances to protest coal-fired power plants in North Carolina, overfishing in the pacific northwest, and the Koch brothers in Southern California.

At least some Utahns who spotted the airship didn’t quite get the message. “There was an NSA blimp on my way to work this morning. #whydotheyneedablimp? #whatwasitdoing? #nsa,” wrote one local on Twitter. “Wasn’t a huge fan of the NSA blimp that saw me on the way to work this morning,” added another.

Reitman says they can rest assured the blimp isn’t a menacing new surveillance technique. “The only people we’re surveilling with this airship is the NSA.”

 

Vaccine researcher charged with felony crimes for research fraud over faked AIDS vaccine tests

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Vaccine researcher charged with felony crimes for research fraud –May spend 20 years in prison over faked AIDS vaccine

25 Jun 2014 Scientific fraud is so common in the vaccine industry, it’s practically the default business model. The truth is that most vaccines don’t work, so in order to make them appear to work, researchers routinely spike blood samples of vaccinated test subjects with antibodies, making it appear the vaccine caused the body to produce those antibodies. This is exactly what Merck does with MMR vaccines, according to the company’s own former virologists who filed a False Claims Act with the federal government. It’s also why up to 97% of children who contract measles or mumps were already vaccinated against measles and mumps.

UW-Madison pandemic flu viruses ‘could escape from lab,’ biosafety panelist says

29 Jun 2014 UW-Madison scientist Yoshihiro Kawaoka says he’s creating potentially deadly flu viruses to help prevent a pandemic, but a campus biosafety panel member says the research could cause more harm than good because the viruses could escape from the lab. “You’re increasing the probability of having a pandemic rather than decreasing the probability,” said Tom Jeffries, a member of the university’s Institutional Biosafety Committee, which reviews sensitive research…After Kawaoka reported this month that he used genes from several bird flu viruses to construct a virus similar to the 1918 pandemic flu virus that killed up to 50 million people worldwide, British and French scientists called the research “absolutely crazy” and “madness, folly.”

Suspects Sought After 9 Shot on Bourbon Street, New Orleans

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Having lived on Bourbon Street – I can tell you its a pretty violent place, with Street gangs just a few streets away from tourists. ~ JB

 

ABC

Police continued searching Monday for two men who exchanged gunfire on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, leaving nine people shot in the crossfire, including two who were in critical condition.

Images captured from a surveillance camera above a bar showed people running down the street in the chaos of the shooting at 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

Police placed several views for the shootout online asking for the public’s help in identifying the two shooters.

New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas said six victims were hospitalized in stable condition. The other victim’s condition was not available. Some of them were tourists. Their names were not immediately released.

Serpas said at a news conference in the French Quarter that the victims were shot “by two cowardly young men trying to hurt each other.”

“What happened was two young men got angry at each other and shot at each other,” he said.

Bourbon Street is a nightly swirl of bright neon and tourists, usually with beverages in hand. A blend of jazz joints, strip clubs, bars and restaurants, Bourbon Street has everything from four-star dining to sex shows.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu pledged a swift response from law enforcement.

“Our No. 1 priority is to keep New Orleans safe,” Landrieu said in a statement. “These kinds of incidents will not go unanswered … I am confident that between video evidence and eyewitness accounts, we will bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Police have not determined whether the shootings might be gang-related, Serpas said. He called on residents, businesses and witnesses who may have video footage, including any from surveillance cameras, to contact police.

It was the third major shooting on Bourbon Street in the last three years.

On the Saturday before Mardi Gras, four people were treated at a hospital after a shooting. During Halloween in 2011, one person was killed and seven others were injured after gunmen opened fire on each other.

Patriots Hotline Founder: We’re Forming a Human Chain to Stop Illegals

June 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Newsmax

Militia members and other concerned U.S. citizens are converging on the border town of Laredo, Texas, on Friday to create a blockade against illegal immigrants crossing into the United States, the organizer of the human chain and protest said on Newsmax TV‘s “MidPoint.”

“This will continue for days and weeks to come” and spread “to other points” along the U.S.-Mexico frontier, Barbie Rogers, founder of the Patriots Information Hotline, said in a telephone interview.

Rogers declined to give an exact head count beyond “more than 50 people” or reveal whether participants are armed, citing worries about their security.

But she said blockaders will follow the same rules of engagement as protesters in an April standoff between federal officials and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

“Just like at the Bundy ranch, there will be no patriot out there on that line that will fire first,” Rogers said.

Her website on Wednesday posted a “call to ACTION for all Militia, III%ers, Oathkeepers, and Patriotic support personnel.”

“We are trying to contact every person and every patriot in the United States to go down and help do something the government should have done a long time ago,” Rogers said.

As for whether blockaders are carrying firearms, she said, “The situation these men are walking into — they have a very good possibility of being shot by the drug cartels down there, the gang members down there, and also by our own government down there.”

A surge of migrants from Central America, many of them unaccompanied children, has caught border officials off guard and left federal and state authorities in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico scrambling to respond.

Rogers said her organization is stepping into the fray with a message: “We’re trying to say that we the people are fed up.”

“The government promised us a wall down there years ago,” Rogers said. “The money … was supposedly given to put this wall up, and it’s not there. Where is it at? Where’s the money at? The government needs to start having accountability to the people.”

Two political analysts appearing on “MidPoint” criticized the blockade as ineffectual and potentially dangerous.

“There really is nobody who I believe rationally … could think that about 50 or so people could really stop the influx of immigration via just a simple human chain,” said liberal commentator Justin Duckham, senior Washington correspondent for Talk Radio News Service.

“Plus, you also have a situation where, if there are any bad actors and somebody gets hurt, this is going to end up to be a disaster,” he said.

“It’s not a good idea,” said conservative commentator and political strategist Erica Holloway, “and probably not as wise as making sure the people that are supposed to be doing their jobs [in immigration enforcement] are doing their jobs.”

Mexican Military Chopper Opens Fire On US Border Patrol Agents

June 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

 

Via Ben Swann

TUCSON - News 4 is reporting that a Mexican military chopper crossed the United States border and opened fire on US Border Patrol agents.

The incident occurred early Thursday morning, west of the San Miguel Gate on the Tohono O’Odham Nation. There are no reports of injuries or deaths at this time.

Two statements have been released:

Art del Cueto, Border Patrol Tucson Sector union president:

The incident occurred after midnight and before 6 a.m. Helicopter flew into the U.S. and fired on two U.S. Border Patrol agents. The incident occurred west of the San Miguel Gate on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The agents were unharmed. The helicopter went back into Mexico. Mexico then contacted U.S. authorities and apologized for the incident.

Andy Adame, U.S. Border Patrol Spokesperson:

Early this morning, a Mexican law enforcement helicopter crossed approximately 100 yards north into Arizona nearly 8 miles southwest of the Village of San Miguel on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation while on a drug interdiction operation near the border. Two shots were fired from the helicopter but no injuries or damage to US property were reported. The incident is currently under investigation.

Also:

VIDEO: Mexican Army Crossing the Border and Firing on Americans

170 Children Rescued in Nationwide Child Prostitution Sting (In just the last year, almost 4,000 children have been rescued from sexual slavery in AMERICA)

June 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

4000? And those are just the ones that were RESCUED.

We have spent billions fighting the war on drugs, billions on fighting “Islamic terrorism” abroad, billions on education, welfare + Corporate handouts / Free Wall Street “loans”, healthcare, and other things. All of these dollars are important. But how much have we spent to fight human trafficking?

Consider this. There are more slaves on our planet today than at any other time in history.

Estimates place the number living in slavery at somewhere between 21 and 30 million people. And there is nowhere on earth that is untouched by slavery… not even your own back yard. While most of the world’s slaves today live in South East Asia, there are thousands of people living in slavery in the United States as well.

Today, that number is about 170 fewer than it was a couple of days ago.

Nearly 170 victims of child sex trafficking, many of whom had never been reported missing, were rescued in the last week as part of an annual nationwide crackdown, the FBI said Monday.

Besides the 168 children rescued from the sex trade, 281 pimps, including two in Philadelphia, were arrested during the same period on state and federal charges.

“These are not faraway kids in faraway lands,” FBI Director James Comey said in announcing the annual enforcement push known as Operation Cross Country. Instead, he added, “These are America’s children.”

This is the eighth such week-long operation, which this year unfolded in 106 cities. The FBI says nearly 3,600 children have so far been recovered from the street.

Do you get the gravity of that statement from the FBI? In just the last year, almost 4,000 children have been rescued from sexual slavery in AMERICA.[1] This should hit us like a punch to the stomach. This should cause us all to weep in pain and anguish for what is happening. If the greatest nation the world has ever seen – both economically and philosophically – cannot protect these kids… what is happening everywhere else?

In regions like West Africa, South East Asia and in countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, slavery is rampant. Little children are forced into sexual slavery every day – many times a day… and we do NOTHING. We spent exponentially more money on arresting and imprisoning marijuana users than we do on destroying human trafficking. Let me ask you – which crime deserves more attention — marijuana use or human trafficking?

Read More HERE

Supreme Court bans warrantless cell phone searches by Cops, Major ruling updates privacy laws for 21st century

June 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

 

'Sweeping endorsement of digital privacy'...

CHIEF JUSTICE: 'Get a warrant'...

Court pulls plug on Internet streaming startup...

Big win for broadcasters...

Diller Killer...

 

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.



The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the unanimous court.

“Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple— get a warrant.”

Justices even said police cannot check a cellphone’s call log, saying even those contain more information that just phone numbers, and so perusing them is a violation of privacy that can only be justified with a warrant.

The chief justice said cellphones are different not only because people can carry around so much more data — the equivalent of millions of pages of documents — that police would have access to, but that the data itself is qualitatively different than what someone might otherwise carry.

He said it could lay bare someone’s entire personal history, from their medical records to their “specific movements down to the minute.”



The chief justice cited court precedent that found a difference between asking someone to turn out his pockets versus “ransacking his house for everything which may incriminate him” — and the court found that a cellphone falls into that second category.

Complicating matters further is the question of where the data is actually stored. The Obama administration and the state of California, both of which sought to justify cell phone searches, acknowledged that remotely stored data couldn’t be searched — but Chief Justice Roberts said with cloud computing, it’s now sometimes impossible to know the difference.

The court did carve out exceptions for “exigencies” that arise, such as major security threats.

Read more: Washington Times

Immigration Paradigm: New “Detention Centers” to be built by DHS (

June 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

When “Amnesty” comes… What will happen to all of the new DHS Detention Centers? Add to this concept the hoarding of Bullets and War games for American “Civil War” / Unrest / and civil disobedience… you have a Perfect Storm.

Obama administration acts to ease immigration legal crunch at border

Facing pressure to address a widening crisis on the Southwest border, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to detain, process and ultimately deport the growing numbers of Central American children and families who already are overwhelming most existing federal detention facilities.

The Department of Homeland Security said it was rushing additional lawyers, asylum officers and immigration judges to the Texas border, where most of the new immigrants are arriving, to process cases more quickly and reduce the large numbers of those who must be released with promises to appear at later court hearings.

“We are surging resources to increase our capacity to detain individuals and adults with children, and to handle immigration court hearings,” Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during a Friday briefing.

So far this fiscal year, more than 39,000 adults have been caught crossing the Southwest border with children. An additional 52,000 unaccompanied children had been detained as of last week, and by year’s end officials expect that number to have increased to as many as 90,000.

With shelters and detention centers already overcrowded, many new immigrants have been released to sponsors and family members with orders to appear for hearings later, prompting critics to say that many will elect to quietly remain within the U.S. The Department of Justice reported that 33% of immigrants released in such cases in fiscal year 2013 failed to appear for subsequent hearings, up from 24% in 2009.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday called for deploying an additional 1,000 National Guard troops on the Texas-Mexico border, along with Lakota helicopters and Predator drones. “The safety and security of our border communities is being threatened by this flood of illegal immigration, and the crisis worsens by the day,” the Republican said in a letter asking President Obama to travel to Texas to address the issue.

Vice President Joe Biden and other U.S. officials met Friday with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti in Guatemala City in the second prong of the administration’s strategy, aimed at helping Central American nations alleviate the poverty and crime believed to have helped drive the exodus toward the United States. The plan calls for $40 million in U.S. aid to reduce youth involvement in gangs and promote other security improvements.

Similar programs are aimed at El Salvador and Honduras, which also are seeing expanded migrant outflows.

The number of Central American children caught crossing the border illegally last year surpassed the number from Mexico — 21,000 from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, compared with about 17,000 from Mexico.

Under U.S. law, unaccompanied Mexican children can be returned to their homeland immediately, but children from other countries must first be taken into U.S. custody. By law, Customs and Border Protection can hold them for only 72 hours, after which they must be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which finds beds for them in temporary shelters.

More than 90% of the children are later placed with a relative or sponsor, according to statistics provided by Kids in Need of Defense, a legal advocacy group.

Mayorkas could not say Friday how many released detainees were showing up for subsequent immigration court proceedings.

By law, those arriving now are interviewed to see whether they are eligible for asylum. They can claim they have a “credible fear” of returning home that immigration courts must address before they can be deported, posing a challenge to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other agencies as the numbers increase.

Mayorkas said the government would be sending more officers to hear these asylum claims and screen out those ineligible.

“Many individuals from Central America are found to be ineligible for these forms of protections and are, in fact, promptly removed,” he said.

But according to a recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 58% of children arriving from Mexico and Central America are probably eligible for humanitarian protection under international conventions.

A similar study by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, estimates that about 40% were eligible for some form of immigration relief — such as asylum, special immigrant juvenile status or visas for victims of crime or trafficking.

As security and gang truces deteriorate in Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, those fleeing may argue that they are afraid to return because they or their relatives were threatened for not joining a gang, said Stephen Legomsky, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“I could easily imagine a significant number of these people showing credible fear,” Legomsky said, which could lead to added delays since federal immigration courts are already backlogged.

“The administration is in a tough spot,” he said.

Though immigrant rights advocates oppose expanding family detentions, some also acknowledged Friday that the crisis had put the administration in a bind.

“We need to recognize that they have to take some action in either expediting cases or finding some resolution in who’s coming and why,” said Michelle Brane, director of detention and asylum at the Women’sÖ Refugee Commission.

Congress in 2005 directed Homeland Security officials to keep immigrant families together, either by releasing them or detaining them as a group in humane settings.

Two years later, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the department, saying it was for illegally imprisoning families with children younger than the age of 17 under inhumane conditions at the T. Don Hutto family detention center in Texas. The lawsuits were settled, and the center stopped housing families.

(BS): The government currently operates only one immigrant family detention center, in Berks County, Pa. Brane praised the facility, but said it can only house 96 people at most, and only for weeks or months at a time.

Officials plan to house more families at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. The facility, which is used for training federal officers, is being outfitted to hold up to 700 parents with children who are in removal proceedings, officials said Friday.

Brane said immigrant rights advocates were concerned that at the new detention centers, immigrant families would not have adequate access to attorneys. They also worry that judges and government lawyers will be sent to hear families’ cases there instead of at courthouses, where immigrants, apart from their children and guards, can speak more freely about sensitive subjects such as domestic and sexual abuse.

But she said the new facilities would be preferable to keeping immigrants in overcrowded Border Patrol stations, where officials this week lead reporters on a tour, displaying children corralled behind high chain-link fences and sleeping on concrete floors under grubby blankets.

“My hope would be …  that they use it to get families out of Border Patrol stations for processing people into alternatives to detention programs where they can file their claim and go through the process,” she said of the new detention centers.

Advocates have also asked the administration to expand cheaper, less restrictive alternatives to detention, such as releasing immigrants and keeping tabs on them by telephone or electronic ankle monitors.

Mayorkas said alternative monitoring would be used, though it’s not clear how extensively.

Administration officials said the effort to halt the immigration tide would deal not only with combating crime and poverty but also with working to halt widespread rumors among Central Americans that immigrants with families will be allowed to remain in the U.S.

“We’re doing everything possible both to support countries in stemming the tide of this migration, but also to deal with the misinformation that is being deliberately planted by criminal organizations, by smuggling networks, about what people can expect if they come to the United States. That is misinformation that is being promulgated and put forward in a very deliberate way,” said Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The financial pledges also include $9.6 million to help Central American governments receive and integrate deported immigrants, $25 million in El Salvador to create 77 outreach centers to prevent at-risk youths from joining gangs or migrating to the U.S., and $18.5 million in Honduras to fight gangs and support community policing.

But Perez Molina took a view that seemed to undermine Biden’s message. The Guatemalan president said via his Twitter account that Biden had promised a special program of legal assistance to Guatemalan families in the U.S. who are reunited with their children.

The Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, didn’t attend the meeting because he is in Brazil for the World Cup, in which the Honduran national soccer team is competing. That drew a miffed rebuke from the U.S. ambassador.

Congressional officials greeted the new administration measures with a mix of skepticism and relief.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) has been calling for some of the same measures, and said he was pleased to see the administration moving to work with Central American leaders to deport families in a quick, humane way. Cuellar discussed the crisis with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson before Johnson traveled to Texas on Friday with senior administration officials to visit Border Patrol facilities and a new temporary shelter for immigrant youths here at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

“I’m encouraged that the White House is now getting engaged on this humanitarian crisis,” Cuellar said. “They’re starting to move in the right direction.”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) welcomed the administration taking a “hard look at addressing the root causes of this crisis” but expressed concern about opening new family detention facilities. “To say that a child who is apprehended at the border with their parent must remain locked up throughout their judicial proceeding is simply a step too far,” he said.

Republicans, who have criticized Obama in recent days for stoking the influx, remained skeptical Friday that the administration would follow through on promises to more swiftly enforce immigration laws and curtail the flow of vulnerable migrants.

“This humanitarian crisis is one of the president’s own making. After years of ignoring the law and sending a very dangerous message to Central American families, the administration is finally taking small steps to address this enormous problem,” Texas Republican and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn said. “It remains to be seen if the president will follow through.”

Iraq conflict: Could it boost the Keystone XL pipeline bid?

June 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

AKA: “CAPSTONE PIPELINE”

Cost Benefit Analysis HERE…. “Never Let a good CRISIS go to waste”? (Especially if you initiated the Crisis!) —- Better “hope” that your land isn’t in the way!

Oil production in Iraq is unaffected so far, but instability could raise the issue of oil supply security….

CBC

The crumbling security situation in Iraq and concerns that Sunni extremists continue to gain power in the oil-rich country may help out proponents of so-called ethical oil who argue that the U.S. should be turning more to Canada for its oil needs.

But whether the crisis will have any effect on projects such as the controversial Keystone XL pipeline seems unlikely.

“Most people, in fact this is true of politicians as well, they don’t know where the oil comes from and what are the ethical implications,” said Dr. Robert Mansell, academic director of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

“If you were to ask people in the States how much of their oil comes from Canada versus Venezuela versus Nigeria, Angola, Iraq and Russia, they would have no clue. Would they really care? I suppose they might care in a general sort of way, but not enough to make a difference in terms of the politics of piece of infrastructure.”

Supporters of ethical oil have repeatedly argued that the U.S. should be endorsing projects like Keystone, importing its oil from friendly liberal democratic countries like Canada, and reducing its reliance on “conflict oil” countries that are undemocratic, have poor human rights records and may support terrorism.

Environmental groups opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline — which would carry bitumen extracted from Alberta’s oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast — have dismissed the ethical oil organization, accusing it of being a mouthpiece of the domestic oil industry with ties to the federal Conservative party.

In April, the U.S. State Department announced another delay in the final decision on the Keystone XL project. U.S. President Barack Obama is not expected to make a decision on such a politically charged issue until after the midterm elections.

“If he truly wanted Keystone to go, he certainly could use [Iraq] as an excuse,” said Laura Lau, senior vice-president at the Brompton Group. “But I don’t believe he truly wants Keystone to go.”

Iraq not a large supplier to U.S.

So far though, the conflict in Iraq has not halted oil production, since a lot of the production is in the south and in Kurdistan, where fighters from the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq have not advanced.

Iraq also provides a relatively small amount of oil to the U.S. compared with other countries including Canada, the biggest exporter of oil to U.S, followed by Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Russia.

For example, the U.S. imported just over nine million barrels of oil from Iraq in the month of March, compared with 44 million barrels from Saudi Arabia and 99 million barrels from Canada, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“I imagine if the situation in Iraq gets so out of hand that you see a shutdown in the oil production or a pretty significant cutback in exports, and a notable increase in the world price of oil, then yeah, that would become part of the conversation,” said John Duffield, an energy expert and political science professor at Georgia State University.

“I don’t think [the ethical oil issue] has penetrated the American debate, at least not substantially,” he said.

But Mansell said that the issue of security of oil supply could begin to resonate with some Americans.

“In a world where the Middle East looks hotter rather than cooler these days, and you have events in Africa and similar things going on in Venezuela … and with energy prices going up, I think that will get attention among the general populace.”

Mansell said the instability in Iraq certainly wouldn’t hurt the case for Keystone

“Would it materially improve the case for it? I think what gets people’s attention is what happens to the price of gasoline, and already there was a bit of a hit. I think it got some attention. I think it starts to have an impact on how people feel about reliance on some of their crude oil sources.

“Would it be enough to tip the balance on Obama’s decision on Keystone, I don’t know.”

« Previous PageNext Page »

jbroku