The Underground Librarian

What cats do before meeting curiosity sellers….

Status Update

Posted by Tespid on December 18, 2014

I had a conversation while I was out that a friend requested I post. I’m not quite in shock. It may be a delayed reaction. Either way I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with these symptoms. A couple of weeks ago I was told there was mold in our heating/cooling system. The tech, well customer service and assessment lead, asked us questions like are you haven’t trouble breathing? I took a moment to think and could recall nothing. So I replied “No”. He asked if I was sure and I told him yes. So neither of us had been having trouble. So, the furnace get repaired and suped up with bells and whistles. No sooner than a week had past and I can’t breathe very well at night. This has gone on for about two week or more. Come to find out today that others are having the same symptoms. Everyone is guessing but no answers. Me, as ever guessed it had something to do with the water or air outside. Storms had just past through the town and who knew what the wind brought with it. Every guess I had including aliens landing, taking over and sucking up all the oxygen into a big tube did not seem to get near the issue. Though it did seem to lighten a few depressed people’s mood.

So, the host for today told me I was close with another guess. I took a shot at poisoning by allergies in the water. What he said was someone is dumping bodies in the water. I offered prostitutes as a solution as were I lived before on the edge of a city park, someone was making a dumping ground, IMHO. The evidence was in this: There was a team checking the water system. Weather it was the water department for the city, a federal official or third party I do not know. What I remember though is that when they checked the water by pour in certain chemicals, it turned green. He said if it turned black the town would have a major problem. Green meant there are dead bodies decaying somewhere in the system network poisoning the water. I’m having word associations go off in my ahead about a reference to a FBI case called the “Green River Murders”. I think that is the name of the case. I did not buy the book. Browsing that section of 1/2 Price Books was enough to keep my mind busy for a few weeks trying to forget.

In hindsight I seem to be doing a bit of recanting. Though I can’t help but wonder sometimes is this how Sherlock Holmes felt. I know. I know. That is fiction and a different era of thought. Still, truth is stranger than fiction. Still, fiction character can be inspired by clever witticisms wrapped around barbells clothed in flesh. For now I’m mired in guesswork and slowly sticking to reporting wisps of news as I run into them. Meanwhile I’m running threads in my mind picking through old news around a few counties I lived in.

As I remember, I report more.

W.H. Tespid, ERT

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Screenshot: Synthetics and K-9s

Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

K-9 now able to detect synthetic drugs

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Douglas Co. dog trained to sniff out syhthetic drugs photo
Dog, Dakota
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By Tom Regan


What is believed to be the first dog capable of detecting synthetic marijuana will soon be working on the streets and in schools in Douglas County.

The dog, 1 1/2 year-old springer spaniel, was donated by the father of a young teenager who died after smoking synthetic marijuana. Lance Dyer said he named the dog after his son Dakota. Customized training for the dog was provided by a foundation that he established in memory of his child.

“Our foundation recognizes the importance of education and our youth and getting them to realize how serious these synthetics are. And the dog Dakota is a great spokesperson. This will give the Sheriff’s Department a way to detect and the District Attorney’s Office a way to prosecute,” said Dyer.

The dog, which can also detect traditional illegal drugs, received his unique training at a kennel in Pennsylvania. The director of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit said the dog will be a new and important asset for the agency.

“The typical drugs–pot, cocaine, meth– we have had dogs being able to sniff those for years. This is something that’s going to be huge for us, because people won’t be able to hide these drugs that they have in their possession,” Douglas County Sheriff K-9 Commander, Lt. Michael Barnhill said.

Earlier this year, prosecutors in Douglas County won a jury verdict in one of the largest synthetic marijuana cases in the country. They believe the new dog will be helpful in going after other synthetic drug dealers.

“It’s all about saving lives for these kids, and prosecuting those who peddle this kind of poison to our teenagers,” Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner said.

Dyer said he is hopeful other law enforcement agencies in Georgia will consider K-9 training to detect synthetic drugs. He said by donating the dog to the Sheriff’s Office he also is paying tribute to his son.

“I’d like to think as we stand here today, God the almighty and my son are looking down, and they’re smiling,” Dyer said.

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Screenshot: Synthetics

Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

Deadly drug ‘N-bomb’ claims teen’s life

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A new designer drug is believed to be responsible for the death of a Cumberland County high school student.

Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said a 17-year-old Trinity High School student who died from an overdose last month had a drug called “25I-NBOMe” in his system.

“He died of asphyxia due to the drug,” Hetrick said. “He stopped breathing. That’s how he died. The National Medical Service does our toxicology and they picked it up because it was on the death certificate.”

A synthetic version of LSD, or acid, 25I-NBOMe is also known by the street names “N-bomb,” “251” and “smiles.” It is sometimes sold as LSD, unbeknownst to the buyer.

Across the nation, at least six deaths have been linked to its use. The drug currently is unregulated by federal law, but Louisiana, Florida and Virginia have been trying to ban it.

Authorities are also warning of a growing danger from another drug, Butane Hemp Oil, a highly concentrated derivative of marijuana that’s also known as “honey,” “shatter” and even “earwax.”

While there have been no fatalities associated with using the drug, the process used to extract and concentrate the compounds from marijuana involves highly flammable butane gas.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency bulletin earlier this year noted there have been fires and explosions that have caused numerous burns and blown out windows and walls.

Authorities in central Pennsylvania are just beginning to deal with BHO and N-bomb. Hetrick said the synthetic drug market is often more rapid than law enforcement.

“The definition for insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results,” Hetrick said. “I believe we need to concentrate far more dollars into efforts in education and rehabilitation.”

Hetrick said users typically find a way to get their hands on new and dangerous drugs, but he added that the allure of an extreme high often comes with consequences worse than prison.

“It’s not like you’re buying this at a pharmacy,” he said. “You don’t know what it’s cut with. It could be fentanyl, it could be some sort of other corrupting material that will kill you very quickly.”

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Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

‘Bath salts’ latest synthetic drug on street


Two students in Westland and four in Canton were hospitalized last month after taking synthetic drugs, but the Novi schools superintendent says it doesn’t appear to be an issue in his district at this point.

“I don’t really recall since I’ve been here that we’ve had any incidents of synthetic drugs,” said Dr. Steve Matthews, superintendent of the Novi Community School District.

At Novi High School, three students have been expelled over the last five years for drug use, possession or selling. In addition, Matthews said, two long-term suspensions (anything over 10 days, but less than 180 days) were related to drugs.

“My sense is that those were a combination of both medication or prescription drugs and marijuana,” he said, adding that no incidents have been reported at Novi Middle School.

He said the district is fortunate because it has a very good relationship with the city of Novi and the police department. There is a police liaison officer in the high school every day “and that makes a difference,” Matthews said, adding that the district tries to educate students as much as possible through health classes as well.

“The reality is, drugs are unfortunately a part of our society,” Matthews said. “We need parents to be cooperative and find solutions so students don’t get caught up in that culture and activities that damage them physically and academically. … Kids are kids and try to experiment some and make poor choices.”

Brian Taylor, media and public relations for St. John Providence Health System, said no incidents of synthetic drugs have shown up yet at Providence Park Hospital in Novi.

However, over at the Brighton Center for Recovery, outreach coordinator Scott Masi, a former addict in recovery for the past seven years, says the drug problem is real and it is in this community.

Why now?

The main reason for the recent incidents in Westland and Canton have to do with students being back in school, close together with each other and communicating.

“We have seven kids right now dealing with synthetic drug issues, specifically Cloud 9,” Masi said.

He says cathinones were synthesized back in 1920 and re-emerged less than 10 years ago. Some of the kids he deals with actually produce it.

“They’re brilliant,” Masi said. “One was a valedictorian just two years ago. The other was in the top 10 percent of his class.”

Those “kitchen chemists,” as he calls them, are creating the drugs right at home.

“The scary part about this is that any kid with any propensity for chemistry is going to be able to develop it,” he said. “And you can go on the Internet and purchase it through the United Kingdom. Just Google ‘bath salts for sale.’ They call themselves research labs.”

A common method of taking the drug is to blotter it on a piece of paper and eat it.

“It’s like Russian roulette, because you don’t know what the dosage is on that piece of paper,” Masi said. “You’re never having the same high because of the non-uniformity of the dosage. That’s the scary thing.”

Unlike treating alcoholism or heroin addiction via detox, synthetic drug problems manifest about eight to nine days later in the form of violent behavior and psychotic episodes, Masi said. Quite a few of those in his recovery center have to be transferred out for more intensive psychiatric care.

“It’s scary seeing a kid come in initially – eyes are dilated for days, just like zombies,” he said. Getting off the drug, “is like an onion peeling away and takes time.”

The Brighton facility, a 12-step abstinence-based hospital, is one of the oldest in the nation. The most successful treatment, Masi said, is educating the patient.

“It’s a disease, it’s chronic and you’ll have it for rest of your life,” Masi said. He said it manifests itself in the form of job jeopardy or issues at home.

Drug outlets

David Molloy, Novi’s chief of police, said the city has not yet experienced anything with Cloud 9 or any of the other recent synthetic drugs, like Hooka Relax, being highlighted in the broadcast media.

“We are not seeing anything thus far in our respective community schools, in our narcotics investigations or during our searches of suspects/vehicles incident to arrest,” Molloy said. “While I am not naive (enough) to think it’s not here in our community, we simply have not seen this during our investigations thus far.”

Two years ago, K2 was the popular synthetic drug and Masi was involved in legislation that made it a Schedule 1 illegal drug. Gas stations were one of the main sources for sales.

Masi was recently in Shelby Township and Westland, asking retailers to take these new bath salt products off their shelves.

“I’ve seen it firsthand – they’re not going to throw it away,” he said. “They’ll give it to a cousin who owns another business down the road. That’s what happens. You telling me these guys aren’t drug dealers?”

The packaging of these bath salts is geared toward youth, Masi said, with images of Scooby Doo, a smiley face, cartoon characters, etc. The contents are sold as foot powder, plant food, glass cleaner – “anything they can label as for non-human consumption to get around the FDA and, on top of that, they’re tweaking the compound so the new one isn’t illegal.”

Masi said a University of Michigan survey, Monitoring the Future, of 45,000 eighth- through 12-graders indicated that usage of synthetic drugs is second only to marijuana.

For parents suspecting their kid may be using, Masi has sound advice: “Address it, don’t wait,” he said. “You can’t wallow in shame or start questioning yourself or wonder how others are going to perceive it.”

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Screenshot: Cold Porridge: Mexico’s Presidential Palace

Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

Mexico Protesters Set Presidential Palace On Fire

Posted: 11/09/2014 2:31 pm EST Updated: 11/10/2014 5:59 pm EST

(Reuters) – Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Sunday condemned violent protests over the apparent massacre of 43 students after demonstrators set fire to the door of his ceremonial palace in Mexico City on Saturday night.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans have taken to the streets to protest the government’s handling of the case of the missing students, and last night protesters in central Mexico City set fire to the door of the National Palace.

“It’s unacceptable that someone should try to use this tragedy to justify violence,” Pena Nieto told reporters at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska where he was en route to China. “You can’t demand justice while acting with violence.”

The students were abducted by corrupt police in southwestern Mexico in September. Though the government said on Friday it looked as though the students had been killed, then incinerated by gangsters working with the police, it stopped short of confirming their deaths for lack of definitive evidence.,protesters,set,presidential,palace,on,fire,worldpost

mexico fire
A man sets fire at the door of Mexican Government Palace during a spontaneous demonstration after Mexico’s government announced on Friday that evidence suggests that 43 missing students were murdered and their charred remains tipped in a rubbish dump and a river in Guerrero, Mexico, on November 08, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Pena Nieto’s trip to China has infuriated protesters and relatives of the students, who believe he cares more about Mexico’s business interests than trying to deal with the gang violence that has ravaged much of the country for years.

The trip to China has faced problems since before it began.

On Thursday night, Mexico abruptly canceled a $3.75 billion contract to build a high-speed train line that it had awarded to a Chinese-led consortium after opposition lawmakers accused the government of rigging the process.

The group led by the China Railway Construction Corp were the sole bidders for the project and lawmakers said the government had acted to help the consortium and its Mexican partners, some of which have close ties to the president and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

The government denied the accusations.

Grupo Higa was one of the Mexican partners in the rail consortium and on Sunday a local news site noted that a subsidiary of the company, Ingenieria Inmobiliaria del Centro, had built a $7 million seven-bedroom house for Pena Nieto and his family just before he became president.

The house, which features marble floors and underground parking, has never been disclosed in financial records that Pena Nieto has made public and it is in fact still owned by the Grupo Higa subsidiary, the report from Aristegui Noticias said.

Thousands of people protest against Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto during a spontaneous demonstration after Mexico’s government announced on friday that evidence suggests that 43 missing students were murdered and their charred remains tipped in a rubbish dump and a river in Guerrero, Mexico, on November 08, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)

However, the president’s office said in a statement on Sunday that the house was acquired in 2012 from Ingenieria Inmobiliaria del Centro by Pena Nieto’s wife, actress Angelica Rivera, and that she spoke openly about the property last year.

Separately, China on Sunday said it believed China Railway Construction Corp had followed Mexico’s bidding rules and requirements and it hopes Chinese companies will continue to participate in Mexican infrastructure projects.

Another protest took place on Sunday, which included people who had walked more than 100 miles to Mexico City from Iguala, Guerrero, where the missing students were abducted. The protest congregated peacefully in the central Zocalo square.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Dave Graham and Chris Reese)

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Screenshot: Black Oil, Texas Tea

Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

August 05, 2014 4:17 PM ET

Another kind of border security issue is afoot in Texas, where the region’s network of pipelines has seen a steady rise in the number of murder victims in the past decade. Joe Carroll of Bloomberg News explains the situation.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


There’s been a steady rise in deaths in the badlands of the U.S.-Mexico border. More than 5,500 bodies have been recovered over the past 15 years, many of them along oil pipelines. And U.S. Border Patrol fears it’s going to get worse. Wherever the pipelines go, violent crime seems to follow – from beatings to sexual assaults to murder, carried out by Mexican drug cartels laying claim to the pipeline roots.

Bloomberg News reporter Joe Carroll recently wrote about these killing zones. He explains that pipelines stretch across thousands of acres of private ranch land – areas not patrolled by law enforcement.

JOE CARROLL: The pipelines themselves are actually – for the vast majority of the mileage they cover, they’re invisible. They’re underground. But the law requires pipeline operators to clear the ground above them, to basically mow it. And the reason for that is so that you can do aerial inspections to make sure nothing is blown up or if there is an accident, so you can get to it quickly.

So you have to cut down trees and bushes and then start digging a trench. You know, if there’s a leak, crews can get to it right away. And that’s great for the pipeline operators, and it makes perfect sense.

The problem that the ranchers have is that you’ve basically just carved a highway right through their land. And at nighttime, these become the killing fields. You know, someone doesn’t have to be drug smuggler, you know, in his enemy’s territory to get killed. They could just be a migrant who wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time or, you know, the victim of a gang conflict. This is where the mayhem happens.

CORNISH: And you cite a Texas state commission report on the problem that says – and this is a quote – decaying human remains litter the landscape. Who are these victims?

CARROLL: You know, it’s often hard to tell who they are. Most folks coming over the border aren’t carrying ID. Folks come from all over the world, really. We think of most of the folks coming across the border as Mexican or Guatemalan and Honduran. And that’s a certainly a big part of the population, but one of the – one of the shocking things was how many folks from other parts of the world are making that trip, whether they’re Chinese or West African, you know, East Asian, South American.

CORNISH: So help describe what this black market business is. Why has this crime kind of gathered in this area?

CARROLL: Well, it’s really – when you’re talking about pipeline routes that snake up through all of south Texas, it’s a transportation business for the Mexican, you know, narcotics cartels. They don’t care if they’re smuggling cocaine or marijuana or human beings. If you’re going to smuggle anything through there, you pay a fee.

And if you don’t, you’re trespassing – as far as they see it – on their territory. And if you’re trespassing, they’re not going to fine you. They’re going to punish you in another way. So these pipeline right-of-ways are really unpoliced secret highways for the cartels.

CORNISH: What has been the response from U.S. border control?

CARROLL: They’re pretty overwhelmed. I mean, they saw – you know, in South Texas about seven or eight years ago, there was a big discovery called the Eagle Ford Shale. That involved a huge construction binge of pipelines to get the oil and gas of there. And they saw an upsurge in this sort of activity.

And now you’ve got an incredible increase in oil and gas drilling because of new discoveries in Texas. And there soon will be more drilling in Mexico because they’re opening of their oil industry to foreign companies. And that’s going to mean more pipeline routes, and law enforcement in Texas is pretty certain that’s going to mean more violence.

CORNISH: Over the course of your reporting, what did ranchers and people in the area tell you about the kinds of things they’ve seen?

CARROLL: You know, a lot of these folks who grew up down there – and then there’s folks who bought land and moved in there – they did because they wanted the ideal sort of rural lifestyle where they raise some cattle or have some hunting ground. And instead what they find is they walk out the door in the morning, and there’s human remains, you know, 100 feet from the doorstep. And this happens every single day for some of these folks.

And it wears them down. You know, they’re scared at night. Everybody to have ever met who lives on a ranch in south Texas is armed all the time, whether they’re driving a pickup truck around the ranch to check on their fences or even if they’re sitting in the living room at night watching TV. They’re in the middle of nowhere. They’re too far for law enforcement to get to them quickly, so they have to protect themselves. So firearms are ubiquitous.

I have spoken to families with young kids who have tried to stick it out, and they’ve ended up moving into town. They just – it was just too many encounters with dangerous groups, you know, on their own land. But then it is Texas, so there’s an awful lot of folks who are just going to stay on the ground. They’re not going to be chased off their land.

CORNISH: Joe Carroll – he is an energy reporter for Bloomberg News. Thanks so much for speaking with us.

CARROLL: My pleasure.

CORNISH: Joe Caroll was discussing the surge in violent crime along the oil pipelines in Texas.

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Screenshot: Cold Porridge:Silk Road

Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

Winning the battle, losing the war

The Federal Bureau of Investigation try to close down Silk Road—yet again


ONLINE forums were abuzz on November 6th with the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had seized and closed down Silk Road 2.0. The site was one of the largest dark-net marketplaces—online bazaars, accessible only through anonymising software called TOR—where drugs and other illegal items can be purchased. The FBI also announced that they had arrested the person they believe to be “Defcon”, the site’s administrator. In what looks to have been a co-ordinated sting operation, several smaller dark-net markets were also reported to have been busted, including Cloud9 and Hydra.

Law enforcers have been under intense pressure to act in recent months. They shut down the original Silk Road, the online drug-trading trailblazer, in September 2013, although Silk Road 2.0, its successor, was launched just weeks later. But between then and this week only one more site had been seized. During those 14 months, dozens of new dark markets opened for business and the overall number of sales listings shot up; Silk Road 2.0 was displaying more than 13,000 just before it was closed. Sales volumes are also thought to have risen dramatically, though no reliable numbers exist. As a result of this growth, last month Chuck Schumer, a United States Senator, called for action against these markets to be stepped up. They are, he said, “nothing less than an all-you-can order buffet of contraband that need to be investigated and targeted with more intensity.”

The man the FBI believes to be Defcon is 26-year-old Blake Benthall, a native of Texas, who was arrested in San Francisco. At the time he allegedly set up Silk Road 2.0 he was also working as a flight software engineer for SpaceX, a space rocket maker and launcher. He has been charged with a string of offences, including drug trafficking, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, as well as money laundering. If found guilty, he could go to prison for life.

Thanks to TOR and a host of encryption measures, government agents have not found it easy to penetrate dark-net markets. Where they have had success, it has been down to a combination of server-locating techniques (conducted illegally, some argue) and traditional infiltration. In the case of Silk Road 2.0, an undercover Homeland Security agent apparently gained the trust of the site’s administrators around the time it was launched, thereby securing access to restricted parts of the site, where he could communicate directly with Defcon. Other agents were able to identify a server in a foreign country that they believed to be hosting the site. Counterparts from that country helped by conducting a forensic analysis of the server itself.

According to a complaint filed in federal court, Mr Benthall made a crucial mistake: he used his personal email to register the server. Records provided by the service provider showed that it was maintained by someone with the address, the filing states.


This may have been a good week for those who want to stamp out underground e-commerce, but they are a long way from winning the war. Those behind the markets are smart, extremely tech-savvy and quick to learn from their peers’ mistakes. The two largest markets, Agora and Evolution, which sell weapons and stolen credit cards in addition to drugs, are still operating. Vendors trade on multiple markets so they can keep selling if one is busted by the police or hacked by rivals.

“Let’s be clear—this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison”, declared Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, after Silk Road 2.0’s closure was announced. But law enforcers are likely to have to continue playing whack-a-mole, as new markets replace those that are forcibly shut. Silk Road 3.0 is probably already being hatched. The war on drugs is likely to just as difficult to wage online as it is in the physical world.

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Screenshot: The Abortion Underground Railroad

Posted by Tespid on December 15, 2014

In the U.S., abortion is legal for all – but available only to some

October 23, 2014 2:00AM ET

On Oct. 14, the Supreme Court allowed 13 Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking parts of a state law that impose onerous requirements on abortion providers. Without this ruling, all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics would have been forced to close, and many women would have had to travel up to 600 miles for an abortion.

Though a welcome decision, the ruling provides only temporary relief for Texas women, since the entire law is currently under review. Most of the clinics that have reopened aren’t bringing abortion services closer to those who need them so much as expanding the capacity of large cities such as Houston and Dallas, where abortion was already more accessible than elsewhere in the state.

Abortion restrictions in Texas reflect a nationwide trend. Last year the Virginia Board of Health voted to require abortion clinics to meet medically unnecessary hospital-style building codes designed to put many of them out of business. Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana and Wisconsin have passed similar laws designed to shutter clinics by requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges. The fate of Mississippi’s sole remaining abortion clinic is hanging by a thread, thanks to a court order blocking a similar restriction.

These ongoing crackdowns belie the popular notion that abortions are readily obtainable in the United States. The truth is that while the procedure is legal, its accessibility depends on having time, money and a flexible schedule. The injustice created is so gross that the only recourse for many women may be civil disobedience.

Discriminatory effects

White women of means living in major cities in the U.S. have benefited tremendously from Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that found laws prohibiting abortion unconstitutional. The risky abortions many had in secret are now legal and safe. By contrast, poor women, black and Latina women and women in rural areas, who also benefited from Roe in the 1970s, when it was relatively easy to get an abortion in the U.S., are not significantly better off now than they were before Roe.

State politicians in the U.S. have enacted more than 200 abortion-related restrictions since 2011. In 2013 alone, 22 states enacted 70 restrictions on abortion services. More restrictions were enacted in the last three years than in the previous decade. Half the states in the U.S. severely restrict abortion coverage in the new health insurance exchanges created under the federal health care reform law. Nine prevent even private insurance plans from covering most abortions.

The type of woman who can most easily get an abortion today is least likely to need one. Blacks account for 13 percent of American women but 30 percent of women who have abortions in the U.S. Hispanics make up 16 percent of American women but 25 percent of women who have abortions in the country. Black and Hispanic women have much higher abortion rates and much higher rates of unintended pregnancy than their white counterparts.

Conflating abortion’s legality with its availability to those who need it masks an injustice so deep that it justifies the kind of civil disobedience widely practiced before Roe.

Poor women and women of color are likelier than middle- and upper-class women and white women to need abortions in the first place, in part because they’re likelier to lack access to birth control. They are also likelier to receive substandard treatment or be denied care because of the cost of an abortion, lack of insurance that covers it, the cost of missing work and traveling hundreds of miles to a clinic or discrimination by doctors, who are more likely to be white males. Lack of access forces women to delay their abortions, increasing both the cost and the risk of the procedure.

Return to pre-Roe America

Abortion access is not just a women’s issue; it is a human rights issue. Conflating abortion’s legality with its availability to those who need it masks an injustice so deep that it justifies the kind of civil disobedience widely practiced before Roe.

Before that ruling, conscientious and courageous caregivers risked imprisonment, fines and loss of their medical licenses to help women who needed abortions. But women also helped themselves. The Abortion Counseling Service of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, also known as Jane, was a female-run underground abortion service that operated from 1969 to 1973. It was started by activists concerned about the rising number of back-alley abortions. Pre-Roe, abortion was not only illegal and dangerous but also cripplingly expensive. Jane provided counseling and helped women obtain safer, more affordable abortions. Many of its members learned to perform abortions themselves.

A first-trimester abortion, the most common kind, is a simple, low-risk procedure. It can now be performed safely and effectively via pills taken in the privacy and comfort of home, with follow-up care as necessary. It is far physically safer than carrying a pregnancy to term. Individual women may or may not find having an abortion traumatic, but there is no credible evidence that safe, chosen abortions increase rates of anxiety and depression.

Every woman has both the right and the responsibility to make informed choices about her body, her family and her future. Our elected representatives have effectively denied that right to the large and growing number of American women who are neither white nor affluent.

No help online

In August, The New York Times Magazine published a story about Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch doctor who runs Women on Web, a support service that distributes abortifacients to women through the mail. She estimates that 40 to 60 of the thousands of emails Women on Web receives each month come from the United States — double the number from two years ago.

An email that Women on Web recently received from a woman in Florida read:

Please tell me where I can get miso [a pill that induces abortion] without a prescription … I live in the United States and have no health insurance. I have two children, and I am currently out of work, there’s no way I can afford another child. Please help. I’m desperate.

Unfortunately for that woman and thousands of others like her, Women on Web serves only countries where abortion is illegal. Gomperts is sympathetic to American women who lack access to abortion, but, as she told the Times, “I think this is a problem the U.S. has to solve itself.”

When abortion laws were unjust, women and men of conscience broke them. When denied access to abortion, women learned how to end their own pregnancies. When some stores and pharmacies refused to carry the morning-after pill, women stockpiled it to share with others. Now that the anti-abortion terrorism of the 1990s has failed and zealots are targeting clinics through other means, women are helping one another end pregnancies without clinics.

It’s abhorrent that dozens of Americans per month — mostly poor, mostly minority — are reduced to pleading with foreign NGOs for safe, effective medical treatment. Lack of access to abortion is a shameful problem the U.S. has to solve itself. But until government acts, women can and must take matters into their own hands.

Raina Lipsitz writes about feminism, politics and pop culture. Her work has appeared in, Kirkus Reviews, McSweeney’s,, Ploughshares, and xoJane, among others.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

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Recall and Post

Posted by Tespid on December 12, 2014

OK. Forgive me as this is late. I had another flash and a memory. This is it:

I was working at the desk and a member of the postal service came in asking for help on alternative fuels. He made it clear that he was on business for the USPS and he was in a hurry. It was a quiet night at the ‘brary and I had no other pressing assignment, so I jumped in feet first. Pardon my memory is foggy. You would’ve thought I’d go for natural gas as all the wells that were blossoming across the town kept growing as the demands for surface mineral rights were being paid out richly as well. Still I hammered on the uses of vegetable oils and tried to prove my point as I brought book after book to his attention. I do not remember what I pulled. I can not tell you nary a title or author. Meanwhile he stood up and took photos of every single page I opened to. A little camera, not a digital, not an I-phone. The look on his face was urgent and I kept getting caught up in  an environmental defense ego and my minor graspings of organic chemistry. I don’t remember where I learned that vegetable oils can be made into fuels. This goes beyond corn and its sugars. But I was convinced this was a seed that could generate into a larger idea. Namely to change the fuel in the millions of vehicles that the United States Post Office drives. At least that is what I though his allusion was leading to.

So I’m putting it to you. In the midst of Russia’s grab to secure natural gas lines and China seizing up on building a future on fracking, where do we go to find a fuel source so little Virginia can still believe that Santa Claus delivers through the United States Postal Service? If it helps, I’m not asking for a blanketed world solution. I just need a possibilty that is reliable and can work on a national scale. USPS is a hell of a client to have, so if you know anything that is playing out. Send it out across the wire, this deserves more than a few minds pulling purse strings.

As memories pop up, I’ll post. Even if I repeat myself, it may be a nuance that sets a new color to everything.

Off to devour a plate of rice and beans. Charros with seasonings cooked for five hours on the stove top yesterday. Superb!

Fluted Frog, Esq

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Status Update

Posted by Tespid on December 9, 2014

I’m at it again and talking in my sleep. New assignments and search strings proving fruitful.

I have not dropped any requests from this past year. My other life and health takes precedent for now. Just don’t worry, I have not forgotten you at all. Still thrilled that you picked me. I’ll admit, it is the little things that motivate me.

Meanwhile, I’ll be putting in effort to hit all requests from the last two years and standards in the nest two weeks. At least by the New Year. Also, I’ve changed settings and will be looking in on comments as I can.

Have a blessed holiday season and please be patient with yourself and others.

~Fluted Frog, Esq.

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Primer XX: Infrastructure.Texas

Posted by Tespid on December 9, 2014

  • DFW Airport to receive $2 million in VALE grants from FAA 24, 2014
    WASHINGTON, D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently awarded $10.2 million in Federal …
  • Falling Oil Prices Make Fracking Less Lucrative

    North Country Public Radio-Nov 4, 2014
    … fracturing, or fracking, used to force oil from shale formations deep underground. … and chief executive officer of Elevation Resources in Midland, Texas.
  • Duke Energy CEO: ‘I Don’t Think Of Myself As A Powerful Woman’

    North Country Public Radio-Oct 21, 2014
    … Gulf supplies and access to cheaper West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light, sweet crude oil. … Lower state and local taxes, and proximity to infrastructure are other reasons these … ‘A Universe Beneath Our Feet': Life In Beijing’s Underground ….. black church and whether it remains relevant in the social justice movement.
  • Fiery Oil-Train Derailments Prompt Calls For Less Flammable Oil

    North Country Public Radio-Oct 13, 2014
    … oil a day, making the state the nation’s second-largest oil producer after Texas. … would “create another product stream you have no infrastructure in place for.”.

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Primer XX: Infrastructure.Texas

Posted by Tespid on December 9, 2014

  • Climate change threatens water supply

    The Desert Sun-Jun 14, 2014
    … scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. … be hard to manage because reservoirs and other infrastructure were designed for … where it sinks into the soil to replenish the underground aquifer. ….. that he expects some golf courses to convert their fairways to other uses.

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Primer XX: Infrastructure.Texas

Posted by Tespid on December 9, 2014

Boom Time in Texas: Jobs, Traffic, Water Worries

As Economy Prospers, State Copes With Crowded Highways, Strained Water Supplies

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  • Updated April 28, 2014 10:31 p.m. ET

    Austin has the fourth-worst vehicle congestion in North America, according to Inrix Inc., a firm that collects and ranks data on automobile traffic. Above, heavy traffic on Interstate 35 in the state capital. Jon Hicks/Corbis

    Americans have flocked to Texas in search of a piece of the state’s booming economy as much of the rest of the country struggled.

    Now, the state’s largest cities are seeing crowded highways, strained water supplies and other pressures that have come with the growth. And Texas politicians—protective of the small-government, low-tax policies many of them believe are at the root of the state’s success—are grappling with how to pay the price of prosperity.

    Aided by the promise of plentiful employment and a low cost of living, Texas added 1.3 million people from 2010 to 2013, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Lone Star State’s population has pushed past 26 million and is projected to reach 40 million by 2050.

    Half of the 10 American cities with the largest population increases in the 12 months ended July 1, 2012, were in Texas, according to the Census Bureau. Houston, the nation’s fourth-biggest city with about 2.2 million people, added 34,625 residents, second only to New York. Austin added 25,395 and now has some 843,000 residents, more than San Francisco.

    The state’s outsize growth is a matter of pride for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has touted the “Texas Miracle” as proof that its lower taxes and lighter regulations are effective job creators. Texans paid 7.5% of their income in state and local taxes in 2011, compared with 11.4% in California and 9.2% in Florida, according to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, a research organization.

    But the size and pace of the population spurt is becoming more difficult to manage, presenting public officials with a challenge: How to beef up public infrastructure without straying from their small-government philosophy.

    “We are already straining our systems for water, power, schools and roads,” says Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter, appointed by Mr. Perry in 2010. “And they’ll continue to be stressed unless we invest more heavily.”

    Mr. Perry believes that the state’s low-tax, low-spending model is fundamentally sound. In a speech last month, he said: “No state can tax and spend its way to prosperity, but with the right policies you can grow your way there.” In a recent prepared statement, he added that “we can make principled investments in our future without raising taxes.”

    His spokeswoman says the governor’s approach “is not something we’re walking away from anytime soon.”

    On the state level, Texas spends less per resident than all but three states: Florida, Georgia and Arizona, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the most recent state-government finance data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It ranked 45th in the nation in per-capita highway expenditures in 2012, spending about $260 per person, less than California’s roughly $300 and well below the $493 spent by Oklahoma, according to the Journal analysis.

    Texas lawmakers and citizens generally oppose raising taxes, but many say state or local governments have to find a way to fund additional investment in roads and other public infrastructure.

    “We all want to go around and beat our chest that Texas is the best place to do business, but we need to pay for the infrastructure needs that go with growth,” says Republican state Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler.

    The water level of Medina Lake, part of the San Antonio municipal water supply, has been dropping, putting pressure on the fast-growing city. San Antonio Express-News

    Many states were hit hard by the recession, but the Texas economy barely contracted. It shrunk by 0.5% in 2009, the state’s economic trough, and expanded by 4.1% in 2010, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. From 2010 through 2012, it grew faster than that of any other state except for North Dakota, which is bustling thanks to an oil boom.

    Texas, too, has benefited from a renaissance of oil-and-gas drilling tied to hydraulic fracturing. It also has added jobs in construction, technology, and health care, economists say.

    The emerging growth strains haven’t slowed Texas’ economic momentum. The state added 310,000 jobs in the 12 months ending in March and boasts an unemployment rate of 5.5%, well below the national rate of 6.7%. Nor have they slowed the tide of out-of-staters moving in, especially from California. Roughly a quarter of the people who migrated to Texas from elsewhere in the country between 2006 and 2012 were leaving the Golden State, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

    Gov. Perry and others say the lack of an income tax and the state’s light-handed approach to regulating businesses has helped it compete with other big states.

    Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it will open a new North American headquarters in Plano, a suburb of Dallas, creating about 4,000 jobs, many of them now based in California.

    When Epicor Software Corp., a maker of business software, announced it was relocating its headquarters from Dublin, Calif. to Austin in February, company president Joe Cowan cited the city’s growing tech focus and the state’s “business-friendly climate.”

    The growing population is taxing the infrastructure. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that it receives $5 billion less a year from the state than it needs to meet current demands for road construction and repairs. The state’s 2012 water plan estimated regional and local entities would need $53 billion to meet additional water infrastructure needs by 2060. Roughly two-thirds of the state is currently in drought.

    In a speech this month, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher called water scarcity the state’s biggest potential threat. He recommended that the state issue a 100-year bond to tackle its long-term water needs, telling an Austin audience, “You need to solve this problem now.”

    Mr. Perry and Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst backed two ballot measures to shift existing state funding to road and water projects. State voters last year approved the creation of a $2 billion water fund, and they will consider another measure in November that would authorize more than $1 billion annually in added transportation spending.

    Texas officials have proposed belt-tightening measures to reduce spending in some areas to allow investment in others, though not all the ideas have proved popular.

    Last year, the Department of Transportation unpaved some rural roads because it couldn’t afford to repair pockmarks left by oilfield-related traffic. The agency planned to convert 83 miles of road to an unpaved surface but later halted the project after lawmakers in the Republican-led legislature complained.

    HEB Grocery Co., which has more than 350 stores in Texas and Mexico and $20 billion in annual sales, has become so frustrated with traffic congestion in its home state that it recommends increasing state gasoline taxes to fund construction and maintenance, says Ken Allen, a consultant who advises the company on transportation issues.

    “Higher tax rates would cost us millions of dollars a year, but the cost of congestion is a hidden tax,” says Mr. Allen, formerly HEB’s head of transportation logistics. “We are behind in Texas on infrastructure and are getting more behind every year.”

    Mr. Eltife, the Republican state senator, says he would favor a modest increase in gas taxes or temporarily raising the overall sales tax rate to fund transportation needs. He says the state increasingly is financing road projects by issuing debt, and that Texas is approaching a constitutional limit on the amount of debt it can issue. “I get bashed for wanting to raise taxes, but I’d rather tell the truth to taxpayers,” he says.

    The chairman of the Texas senate’s transportation committee, Republican Robert Nichols, says most legislators oppose funding transportation by increasing taxes because of concern it could imperil job growth. Mr. Nichols, a former commissioner of the Texas Department of Transportation, says lawmakers have favored alternatives such as striking partnerships with private developers to build toll roads, which eases congestion in a way that is “off the books of the state.”

    Michelle Dahlenburg says Austin’s growth has brought terrible traffic. Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Wall Street Journal

    One point of tension is how states and municipalities should divide the costs. The state traditionally has footed part of the bill for needs such as roads and water. Some of the state’s large cities, which are feeling the biggest burdens of the growth boom and are racking up debt, are hungry for more state money.

    The state’s six biggest cities, including Austin and Houston, owed more than $39 billion in debt in 2012, an amount that had grown by 46% since 2003 to pay for roads, water systems, schools and other services, according to a report last year by the Texas Bond Review Board, a state agency that monitors debt financing.

    “The state used to provide local communities with more revenue to invest in important infrastructure, whether it is water or transportation,” says San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, a Democrat. He says the city sold $30 million in bonds in 2012 to help fund construction of highway interchanges. In the past, he said, “the city had never put up local money for what should be a state project. We did that because the name of the game in Texas transportation is [for local communities] to ‘show me the money’ to the state.”

    A spokeswoman for the state’s transportation department says that as costs rise and funding becomes scarce, “it’s imperative communities come to the discussion with ideas on how to address growth.”

    San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city with nearly 1.4 million residents, draws a majority of its water from an underground aquifer that began the year at its lowest point since a record drought of the 1950s. It has raised municipal water rates 20% since 2011, and will increase them by another 20% in the next four years, partly to raise money for new water projects, including a $400 million desalination plant intended to treat brackish groundwater.

    San Antonio’s city-owned water agency is taking on added debt to help cover the costs of the plant, including a loan of about $109 million from the state. The city had about $9.8 billion in debt last year, up about 70% since 2004, according to data from the Texas Bond Review Board.

    The desalination plant, expected to be the biggest such inland facility in the country when it is finished in the mid 2020s, will only supply 15% of the city’s annual demand. Officials are already proposing an expansion.

    The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce warned in February that the city won’t be able to meet future demand for water and could face thousands of job losses and billions of dollars in lost sales in a drought scenario, unless it comes up with new water sources. City officials play down the concerns.

    “The only inconvenience San Antonio residents or businesses will suffer in the future is a limit on water for lawns and landscaping,” says Greg Flores III, a spokesman for the San Antonio Water System.

    In the state capital, Austin, a college town and hipster enclave turned major metropolis and emerging technology hub, rapid growth has caused extreme traffic snafus on the city’s two freeways, forcing officials to belatedly weigh adding mass transit.

    Austin has the fourth-worst vehicle congestion in North America, according to Inrix Inc., a firm that collects and ranks data on automobile traffic.

    Mayor Lee Leffingwell, a Democrat, says Texas has failed to adequately fund Austin’s growing transportation needs, but so too has the city itself, noting that many Austinites remain unwilling to admit that their hometown is now a big city. “Our philosophy has been, if we don’t build it, they won’t come,” he says.

    That hasn’t worked. The Austin metro area grows by roughly 100 new residents daily, on average, snarling roads and stoking anxiety that the city’s vaunted laid-back way of life is eroding.

    Over the past decade, the number of registered vehicles in Travis County, where Austin sits, has grown by 52% to more than one million. Meanwhile, the number of hours that peak-time travelers were delayed in traffic more than doubled between 1991 and 2011, according to the latest data from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

    Michelle Dahlenburg, a 35-year-old Chicago transplant, moved to Austin in 2008 to get a graduate theater degree and stayed because of the city’s vibrant arts community. But traffic and skyrocketing rents in her adopted hometown have her occasionally longing for home.

    “I can’t go anywhere in town without bumper-to-bumper traffic,” says Ms. Dahlenburg.

    The city has one rail line. Austin voters in November will consider a bond measure that would generate at least $200 million to expand the city’s bus and rail networks, among other improvements. If approved, the measure would increase Austin’s debt, which grew from $4.7 billion in 2008 to $5.6 billion in 2013, according to the Texas Bond Review Board.

    “We are in an unenviable pinch point where our congestion is horrific, but it’ll be 15 years, at a minimum, before we can provide high-volume alternatives,” says Ryan Robinson, Austin’s demographer.

    Write to Nathan Koppel at and Ana Campoy at

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    Primer XX: Infrastructure

    Posted by Tespid on December 9, 2014

    Infastructure issues across U.S. not an easy fix

    From rough roads to dangerous bridges and broken sidewalks, America’s infrastructure is showing its age.

    And while we can’t see it, deep underground, the country’s network of water pipes is aging too. It’s a growing problem that’s causing huge water main breaks across the country.

    Fixing the problem isn’t easy or cheap, CBS News’ Brandon Scott reports.

    When one water main ruptured in July, it looked like the scene from a summer blockbuster, with a sky-high geyser blasting through a giant crater in Los Angeles’ famous Sunset Boulevard.

    Twenty million gallons of water poured into the street, flooding the nearby UCLA campus.

    Then, just two weeks ago in West Hollywood, another pipe burst, turning the iconic Sunset Strip into a raging river.


    A LA water main break floods onto the street

    It was the latest high-profile rupture in America’s second-largest city, which every day averages three water main breaks.

    “It’s critical that we have pipe that can handle the loads that we put on it,” said Jeff Bray, a superintendent with LA’s water department.

    His crew is trying to get ahead of the problem by replacing aging pipelines before they break.

    The new pipes are made of welded steel and lined in cement. Once one is connected, it will handle a water flow of 51 million gallons every day

    “With our budget the way it currently is, we’re on a 300-year cycle to replace the smaller pipes,” Bray said. “It’s not fast enough.”

    But Los Angeles isn’t alone. In Oklahoma, a summer water main break flooded a Tulsa road, leaving resident Cassie Hill stranded.

    “Thank goodness for the firefighters; they helped me walk across in my flip-flops, and then they carried my dog across,” she said.

    And near Denver, a recent pair of breaks tore a hole through a suburban street and caused a sinkhole that swallowed a minivan.

    “These systems were put in, some of them, as far back as the turn of the century,” said Brian Pallasch, a director for the American Society of Civil Engineers. “And it’s one of those problems where they’re buried, so they’re out of sight, and they’re out of mind.”

    The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a report last year grading the nation’s infrastructure. Water distribution earned a disappointing “D” after the report found a daily national average of 700 water main breaks.

    “That’s unacceptable,” Pallasch said. “We think there should be more effort being put into replacing aging water systems.”

    “Within the last 15 years, we have placed over 50 miles of this large-diameter pipe in our service area,” said Joe Castrita, water distribution director for the city water department.

    He oversees all 7,000 miles of pipeline in LA. Replacing the 2-mile stretch he’s currently working on will cost $60 million.

    “These projects are massive, and they go over a series of years,” Castria said. “There needs to be more dollars put in infrastructure replacement.”

    But the price tag to replace all of LA’s aging pipes is a budget-busting $3 billion, money the cash-strapped city doesn’t have.

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    Nugget II: Reading Through the Lines

    Posted by Tespid on December 9, 2014

    • Libya’s Last Glimpse of Hope

      Foreign Policy-Dec 1, 2014
      The United Nations’ Support Mission in Libya decided to study the ruling …. of assembly severely curtailed, they continued to operate underground. They were often able to combine their covert activity with whatever mainstream … It was civil society that made up for the military state’s criminal negligence …
    • American Power and the Culmination of Unconventional Warfare

      War on the Rocks-Nov 11, 2014
      The United States conducted UW not only recently in Iraq and Afghanistan but also during the … This kind of cross-over between CIA covert activities and … identity and legitimacy, revenue generation and provision of social services. … and intelligence infrastructure of the new government, while State would …
    • Forces, Relations, and 21st Century Eco-socialism

      teleSUR English-Nov 22, 2014
      Across his career he argued that class and “social relations of production” … four-fifths of known carbon reserves (coal, oil, and gas) underground. … Mark Delucchi – have shown that humanity could convert to a completely … In 1956, the U.S. began building the Interstate Highway System, which after 35 …
    • US Special Forces train for North Korea mission 23, 2014
      Elite U.S. Special Forces, having trained for years for this archetype scenario, … out by journalists on a covert CIA mission, Hollywood appears to be … under “grandfather” Kim Il-sung sought to augment the social status of peasants. … to spy on the country’s vast network of underground military facilities.
    • The Truth About The Marshall Plan

      Mintpress News (registration) (blog)-Nov 26, 2014
      In September 1950, in one of his speeches defending the US bombing … and that covert operations agency was set up using the money from the Plan … to create underground political groups in Soviet-allied countries of East Europe. … [14] Social critic and pacifist Dwight MacDonald noted at the time that …
    • Libya Then and Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork

      Center for Research on Globalization-Nov 22, 2014
      Business and trade ties between Libya and the US, Britain, Italy, France, …. It has immense oil and gas resources, vast amounts of underground water … by Qadhafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as ….. groups that would entail “a number of visible and covert actions designed to …
    • Banro Announces Q3 2014 Financial Results

      MarketWatch-Nov 11, 2014
      … thousands of dollars and, unless otherwise specified, in United States dollars. ….. with the completion of the processing plant and mining infrastructure. … in early 2015 to covert inferred and indicated resources to reserves within … delineate resources from beneath current open pits for underground mine …
    • Absence of war is not peace

      The News International-Nov 25, 2014
      It has changed in terms of its new impressive transportation infrastructure including the underground … We were frustrated because each one of us wanted the bilateral … constructive engagement through social sector development and … overt and covert support by Pakistani civil and military establishment …
    • A Pipeline to Somewhere

      Foreign Policy-Oct 30, 2014
      This will give them access to the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. Gulf Coast, Europe … In addition, much of it will rely on already-existing infrastructure. … TransCanada plans to convert nearly 2,000 miles of the existing, but underused, …. Poppy cultivation, a barometer of the underground economy that plays a role …

    • Obama: US underestimated rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria

      CBS News-Sep 28, 2014
      President Obama acknowledged that the U.S. underestimated the rise of the Islamic … “They went back underground, but over the past couple of years, during the chaos … He said their recruitment has been aided by a “very savvy” social media campaign. … Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure.

    Posted in Nugget | Leave a Comment »


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