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Thus began Mr. Toad’s wild ride.
An article by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters writing for News Week reports that the North Carolina Senate will introduce a bill called “Energy Modernization Act. SENATE DRS25123-RIxz (01/22)”. A part of this bill will enact the extraordinary authority to make disclosure of fracking fluid information without permission a felony- i.e., a criminal act. Normally, cases of disclosure of commercial confidential information is a civil matter leading to injunction and/or monetary awards.
A quick look at bill shows the following language:
SECTION 7.(a) Article 27 of Chapter 113 of the General Statutes is amended by 26 adding a new section to read: 27
Sponsors: Senators Rucho, Newton, and Brock (Primary Sponsors).
“§ 113-391A. Trade secret and confidential information determination; protection; 28 retention; disclosure to emergency personnel.
… [refer to page 11, line 39]
(d) Penalties for Unlawful Disclosure. – Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section or as otherwise provided by law, any person who has access to confidential information pursuant to this section and who discloses it knowing it to be confidential information to any person not authorized to receive it shall be guilty of a Class I felony, and if knowingly or negligently disclosed to any person not authorized, shall be subject to civil action for damages and injunction by the owner of the confidential information, including, without limitation, actions under Article 24 of Chapter 66 of the General Statutes. [italics by Gaussling]
There are numerous exceptions for government officials who have a need to know this information in the course of their responsibilities as well as emergency medical personnel who demonstrate a need to know.
One has to ask why the Senators wrote law to render disclosure of commercial information relating to fracking fluids a Class I felony as well as an act being subject to civil litigation. Do they believe this is in the public interest? This act will make it difficult for people to monitor ground water for tell-tale components of drilling or fracking fluids because the composition of the injected fluid is confidential. If you are not allowed to identify the input fluids, how can you claim that contaminants found are related to fracking?
Does this law also mean that being in possession of a material safety data sheet (MSDS), a shipping document required by law, could constitute a violation? Oh, even better, will the MSDS contain enough information to be useful to workers, emergency responders, or fire inspectors on the scene and without delay? Or will the material be listed as a mixture of Stuff A, Stuff B, and Stuff C? And by the way, don’t get this shit in your eyes.
So, Senators Rucho, Newton, and Brock. What about the Class I felony G.S. 95-197? Doesn’t that contradict some language in your law?
I G.S. 95-197 Withholding hazardous substance trade secret information.
It seems like the sponsors are helping someone render future litigation and recovery of damages much more expensive and complex. Does this help your constituents? I mean, you know, the ones who are not corporate entities.
Here is an idea for debate. Why not pitch our flawed constitution overboard? Replace it with one that supports a parliamentary form of government rather than the fractious, unworkable presidential system we have now. Who else in the world uses this system of government? Why is it that most other forms of government in the world are parliamentary in structure?
Make the US government more responsive to the citizenry by rendering the election cycle time dependent on confidence in the leadership.
The US constitution needs a rewrite. Among the distortions in the constitution-
- The metaphysical equation of money with speech.
- The foggy language of the 2nd amendment that engenders armed fanaticism
- The indistinct barrier between the secular and theocratic civic influences. Keep religion and other magical thinking out of governance. Preserve freedom from religion.
- The near impossibility of getting a bad president or governor out of office.
- Clearer language is needed on what is actually meant by the right to petition congress. Currently this has lead to an intractable cancer of corruption between government and the movers of wealth. (Consider the F-35 strike fighter or the lack of tight control over Wall Street investment banks)
- Apparently the rules for the waging of foreign wars are indistinct because current constitution or presidential structure seems to allow the US much flexibility and low accountability with invasions and sending ordinance across borders.
There are more problems with the constitution. Maybe the reader has thoughts on this? The problems of presidential systems have been studied and this Slate article summarizing the issues is worth reading.
In the news there are reports of pending action by the US in Syria. Maybe I have a blind spot. Maybe there is some fundamental principle I am missing here. But how is it that a mass killing by gas elicits a response from the US when a larger mass killing by bullets and high explosives does not? Where are sympathetic Arabs in the region? How are they exempt from delivering bombardment as justice for the dead?
Obviously, gas attacks lie across a firebreak of some kind. What is the Syrian death toll now- 90,000 + by bullets and bombs? And that does not trigger international action? Apparently, grisliness is not a deciding factor.
This isn’t about justice at all. It is a smack down on setting a precedent with NBC warfare- nuclear, biological, and chemical. It is a genie we cannot allow out of the bottle … in the land of the genie.
So, here is the scenario- the US will begin a strike at 3 am with cruise missiles to soften up the target area and air defenses. Stealth fighters will fly in to attack everything that flies. Penetrator missiles will demolish air, missile, and command and control bases. But what to do about the nerve gas armaments? Are they bombed or isolated? Who recovers them right after the attack? Al Qaeda? Let’s hope not.
This whole thing is a troubling moral discontinuity. By policy we watch many tens of thousands murdered by bullets and high explosives, but act on policy that triggers when gas is used. There may not be an answer, but there certainly is a smell. The smell of death.
I have to say that I am tickled to death over what young Edward Snowdon has done in regard to his leaking of the NSA PRISM project. Funding and compelling otherwise well intentioned civil servants to sift through the transmissions of US citizens and allies under the false idol of “national security” represents a sort of cancer of civil society. The future is not for the faint hearted. Unfortunately, the faint hearted are in charge.
The assertion that X number of terrorist attacks were prevented by internal espionage activity is patronizing rhetoric uttered by functionaries who are powerless to actually prove it. Obviously we have enemies. We’ve earned it. The US is not a target simply because “we love freedom”, a slogan so infantile that it is a wonder that Bush II was able to utter it with a straight face. We are a target because of decades of foreign policy overreach.
The US federal government and allied corporations are so brain addled over Middle Eastern politics and security that congress is deadlocked over what amounts to a new form of the guns v. butter problem. Congressional members, I’ll say Republicans in particular, live in another world distorted by wealthy patrons. In their view, civilization is something that markets do rather than the other way around. This is a natural viewpoint if you control a lot of wealth- or hope to.
Simplistically, we input defense dollars into the military machine and privately owned petroleum comes out the other side. So, the stockholders of Exxon, Chevron, etc., are protected from risk on foreign territories by the US armed forces. US taxpayers pay for this but petroleum companies seem to carry little of the burden.
What we have gotten in return for our foreign petroleum adventures is pushback in the form of guerrilla warfare, commonly called terrorism. The term “terrorist” has been transmogrified into some form of supernatural evil. Really, a terrorist is a criminal. Killing people and destroying property is a crime and it is immoral. It is not evil incarnate. We are not in a supernatural battle between good and evil or God and Satan.
If Snowdon’s action was to shine a little light on how the government commits espionage on its citizens, then I say good for him. In doing so he broke the law. He violated contractual agreements on disclosure and should pay a price for that. But in regard to accusations of treason based on what facts are available, I cannot agree with that charge.
I am torn on the matter of Defense Secretary Panetta lifting restrictions on combat duties for women. I understand the rationale for greater upward mobility for women in the military. And I grasp that women are already operating in combat areas.
The point I want to offer is this: rather than broadening the range of the population who may be exposed to combat, perhaps we should put as much energy into demilitarizing just a little bit. If bringing women fully into combat is a solution, then maybe we do not understand the problem.
As an advanced society the USA should be striving to avoid the production of disabled combat veterans. Could it be that we should engage in less combat? Isn’t that the solution we should be seeking?
Right now the USA is so heavily armed with kill-at-a-distance lethality that we have become at ease with radio-controlled diplomacy. When you have the US arsenal in your pocket, everything looks like a helicopter landing zone.
There is so much money to be made in plundering petroleum resources abroad and in military armaments and materiel that a persistent and refractory global sub-economy of state-protected mineral extraction has frozen in place. With every kilowatt of new load connected to the power grid and with every clever new military toy that is invented we tighten the spiral toward a global energy war.
Where does this new load come from? All of the microprocessed consumer devices certainly contribute. All of the wall-wart chargers for cell phones, iPads, laptops, etc., put stress on the power distribution system and in due course create demand for fossil fuels. This demand is manifested in several ways- 1) electric current to power the devices, and 2) all of the upstream power needed from mine or wellhead to produce ultrapure gallium, arsenic, tellurium, silicon, aluminum, titanium, boron, polyethylene, polypropylene, organic semiconductor materials, etc.
If we take the view that exposing women in our volunteer military to the horrors of combat represents some kind of progress, then I beg to differ. I would like to suggest that the folks in the DoD, the administration, and the congress have salved over a civil service inequity in exchange for equal opportunity for a spectrum of life altering traumas. In regard to military matters, our government and military elites are swept up in a food web of moral corruption so systematically ossified that I do not see how we can steer civilization away from a Malthusian step change.
Why does Russia vote the way it does in the Security Council of the United Nations in relation to Syria? Could it be that they are anxious to protect their only Mediterranean naval base located in Tartus? I’m sure this fact plus a great many skeletons in the closet from past activities based in Syria or in support of Syria over the decades contributes to their position. The total collapse of Syrian society would likely have an adverse effect on their naval operations in Tartus as well as the loss of a significant diplomatic investment accumulated over time. Of course they are reticent to back the overthrow of the al-Assad regime.
China is nothing if not consistent. They seem to vote against all measures critical of existing governments, irrespective of the atrocities in play. This is pure self interest and I’m guessing it is to telegraph the notion to an internal audience that rebellion is never acceptable. Pretty obvious, I suppose.
Lets give a big Bronx cheer for Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies (UTC), for illegally providing turbine engine technology to China. And, while we’re at it, lets give a toot for Hamilton Standard for providing the control software.
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, the Canadian division of Pratt & Whitney provided engines for the production of the Chinese Z10 attack helicopter. It is worth the read.
The Chinese helicopter that benefited from Pratt’s engines and related computer software, now in production, comes outfitted with 30 mm cannons, anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles and unguided rockets. “This case is a clear example of how the illegal export of sensitive technology reduces the advantages our military currently possesses,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said in a statement released on June 28. The Atlantic, July 6, 2012.
According to the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database of the top 100 offending corporations, UTC ranked number seven.
OK. I’ll state the obvious. This is a very eggregious crime. If an individual did this, the outcome for such a person might be considerably more punitive. But an amoral corporate being like UTS and it’s wayward subsidiary Pratt & Whitney, the consequences are more abstract. A $75 million hit to the bank account for aiding a nation who’s military influence in the eastern Pacific rim is increasingly in conflict with US interests. Not a trivial consequence, but nonetheless a consequence that does not match the transfer of sensitive technology to a country with values antithetical to US policy.