On today's BradCast, we begin with a late update on the weekend's devastating earthquake in Ecuador and the failure of oil producing nations to reach an agreement to cut production (in hopes of raising worldwide oil prices).
Then, we move on to domestic politics, with Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz once again skunking Donald Trump out of another delegate contest over the weekend, this time in Wyoming, while concerns continue to emerge among Democrats about voting hours and "mysteriously switched" voter registrations in New York state in advance of Tuesday's big Presidential Primary there.
We've got some answers to at least some of those concerns from an election official or two in NY, which may ease concerns a bit...maybe...about voting hours not beginning until noon in many counties around the state tomorrow, and about what may be happening to some of those reported party affiliation changes on voter registrations in the Empire State.
Then, BradBlog.com legal analystErnest A. Canning joins us with updates from two states in the fight to overturn Republicans' unlawful, unconstitutional, disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions both in the state of Texas and in Wisconsin where, believe it or not, we've actually got a bit of good news from the courts!
Finally, Hillary Clinton's campaign undermines the Democrats' argument to overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. I explain that and much more on today's BradCast! Enjoy!
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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: State Attorneys General unite to investigate ExxonMobil for climate change fraud; Debunking another Republican EPA lie that won't die; 7 million Americans at risk of fracking earthquakes; Sea levels could rise six feet by 2100 because...Antarctica; PLUS: Scotland closes its last coal plant... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Choking to Death in Detroit: Flint Isn't Michigan's Only Disaster; Flint Official: State Overruled Plan For Corrosion Control; Exxon Must Hold Shareholder Vote on Climate Change Resolutions, SEC Says; Program Will Make Cutting Carbon Emissions Lucrative For Farmers; Climate Policy’s Advocates Take Page From Same-Sex Marriage Playbook; Toxic Chemical Still in Can Linings of Popular Foods; Trump Finds Common Ground With Cruz in Opposition to Carbon Tax... PLUS: “Epidemic” of Premature Births is Increasingly Linked to Air Pollution... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Network news managed to notice extreme weather, but not climate change in 2013; Congrats, Fox 'News'! Someone finally found fraud at the EPA!; Amnesty for the Arctic 30; Good news for Ecuadoran villagers suing Chevron; The #1 Environmental Story of the Year; PLUS: RETHINK your holidays --- make 'em greener! ... All that and more in our last Green News Report of the year!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Yep, we feed cows chicken poop (thanks, FDA); Pres. Eisenhower was an environmentalist (video); November 2013 warmest on record; Chevron failed to maintain SF refinery; L.A. mandates 'cool roofs'; Japan's battle to prove Fukushima fish are safe; Obama & climate change: the real story; BP's oil still killing dolphins; 60 watt incandescents phased out Jan. 1 ... PLUS: In the Deep South, dirty energy and disenfranchisement go hand in hand ... and much, MUCH more! ...
"Some countries are willing to stand up to the United States right now," Michael Ratner told Amy Goodman earlier this week, as he heaped praise upon Ecuador, the nation which previously granted political asylum to Ratner's client, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ecuador has defied the U.S. by saying it will consider NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's request for political asylum.
It is likely that Ecuador is already furnishing Snowden with some level of diplomatic protection. AP reports that, according to WikiLeaks, Snowden was being "escorted by diplomats and legal advisers" during his travels from Hong Kong to Russia last weekend. It seems likely that Snowden was met at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport by Ecuadorian diplomats. A black BMW with diplomatic license plates assigned to the Ecuadorian Embassy was reportedly, waiting at the airport last Sunday in advance of Snowden's arrival.
Ecuador is not the only nation that is unwilling to cooperate, for differing reasons, with an apparently vengeful U.S. government which has sought to make an example of Snowden by charging him with espionage. Some, like Hong Kong, have a longstanding commitment to free speech and the right to due process. Others, like Russia, have an interest in closer political and economic ties to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) --- a group of socialist and social democratic Latin American and Caribbean nations that includes three potential Snowden destinations, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.
In all cases, there appears to be a growing revulsion towards the overreach of the NSA's increasingly privatized, "Big Brother"-like intrusions and a growing recognition that the United States has long-since abandoned its mantle as a beacon of democracy and a nation devoted to "equal justice under the law"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: CO wildfire now most destructive in state history; Another chemical plant explodes, this time in LA; Supreme Court rules on TX v. OK water war; New oil spills in Brazil and Canada; PLUS: Mayor Bloomberg's $20B Sandy recovery and climate change plan for NYC ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Methane leaks could negate climate benefits of nat gas boom; Too hot to live: grim long-term prediction; Will coastal cities follow NYC's climate lead?; 1970s pollution led to African drought; Tea Party takes on utility over lack of solar energy; 'Understory' fires burning in drier Amazon rainforest; White House delays environmental, energy rules... PLUS: NASA Finds ‘Amazing’ Levels Of Arctic Methane And CO2, Asks ‘Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?’ ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The TPP is a NAFTA-like "free trade" agreement that not only threatens our national sovereignty, but aspires to supplant the sovereignty of all participating nation-states with a privately-controlled, all encompassing, corporate, global "investor state". The "investor-state" finds its embodiment in the creation of arbitration tribunals which are granted the power to negate the effectiveness of laws passed by individual nation-states.
As explained by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, through TPP, U.S. corporations and their K-Street lobbyists seek to by-pass the legislative process and democratic accountability in order to undermine Internet freedom, U.S. environmental laws and regulations and local laws protecting the health and safety of our citizenry. "Many of those corporations that have failed to get what they want from Congress are now getting their way through the secret back door of the TPP," they write. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also issued a warning that Wall Street is attempting to gut Dodd-Frank through trade agreements such as TPP.
But, as government watchdog group Public Citizen observes, TPP --- which is now augmented by a joint U.S./E.U. call for a similar Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement --- threatens not only U.S. sovereignty but the ability of all nations to protect their own citizenry through the expansion of an already "notorious investor-state system". Such a system allows ethically compromised international business arbitration tribunals to compel nation-states to fork over "taxpayer-funded" penalties to predominantly U.S.-based, multinational corporations as the result of "domestic regulatory frameworks concerning nuclear energy and currency stability, revocation of mining and oil licenses (often in response to contract violations), and numerous other government measures affecting public health, financial stability, access to essential services and the environment."
What, you hadn't heard about this? Perhaps because the corporate media, and both major political parties, would prefer you keep your eyes on the shiny, pretend objects (Benghazi "scandal"! IRS "scandal"!) rather than the policies supported by both parties that will actually have a very real impact on your life and our country...
Speaking to a crowd of supporters from the balcony of Ecuador's U.K. Embassy last Sunday, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, demanded that the United States end its "war on whistleblowers" --- a war that, Assange said, not only threatens WikiLeaks but "the freedom of expression and the health of our societies." The U.S., he said, must choose between returning to the "revolutionary values" upon which it was founded, or "lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world under which journalists fall silent under fear of prosecution."
Assange credited citizen activism for the fact that Britain did not carry out its unlawful threat last week to "storm" Ecuador's Embassy, stating:
If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, it was because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.
So the next time somebody tells you it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador. Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.
Assange called upon the U.S. to "pledge, before the world, that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful."
"There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or be it the New York Times," he declared. "The U.S. Administration's war on whistleblowers must end."
The controversial Assange went on to call for the release of "one of the world's foremost political prisoners, Bradley Manning," noting that the former Army Intelligence Analyst had just "spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days."
Manning is the U.S. Army Private alleged to have released classified material to Assange's WikiLeaks. Legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, during a late 2010 interview with Brad Friedman, described Manning as a "patriot" for his release of the documents.
The full video of Assange's 8/19/12 statement from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been granted asylum by the Latin American country, follows below...
At a press conference in Quito, Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino strongly denounced the threat received from the U.K.: "Today we've received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange."
Ecuador's decision to grant asylum in the face of the U.K.'s threat have not only triggered a diplomatic row but have threatened to tear apart the very fabric of international rule of law, according to experts. Where one could anticipate Sweden's denouncement of Ecuador's asylum decision as "unacceptable", as it summoned Ecuador's ambassador to Stockholm, the British threat to storm Ecuador's embassy was described by University of Australia Professor of International Law Don Rothwell as "extraordinary" and a "significant violation" of Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rights that could "find its way before an international court."
As Ecuador's foreign minister issued an angry denouncement of the U.K. threat, noting that his nation was "not a British colony", American filmmaker Michael Moore called on his friends in the U.K. to mount a protest of the U.K. threat outside Ecuador's London embassy. Occupy Wall Street protesters called for "people to take part in a 24/7 occupation of the British consulate in New York." Reuters reported a "clash between protesters and British police outside of Ecuador's embassy."
But, as discussed in a must-read opinion piece by Mark Weisbrot of the UK Guardian, the very concept of an international rule of law is open to question given the impunity by which the United States and its allies have operated both at home and abroad...
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has taken refuge in Ecuador's Embassy in London, where he has applied for political asylum, stating:
'I can confirm that today I arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy and sought diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum. This application has been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital Quito.
I am grateful to the Ecuadorian ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application.
Ecuador, which, two years ago, offered Assange asylum and which also has an extradition treaty with the U.S., confirmed that it is considering Assange's asylum application, but stated that its decision to do so, "should in no way be interpreted as the government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden," according to CNN.
Assange, an Australian, as we previously reported, has maintained that the sex charges against him, and Sweden's request for extradition from England where Assange has been staying since the charges were initially filed against him, are being utilized as an excuse to ultimately transport him to the U.S. for political persecution.
Assange suffered a significant legal setback last week when the UK's Supreme Court dismissed his application to reopen his appeal against extradition. He was scheduled to be extradited to Sweden in nine days.
UPDATE 6/20/12: In a public email, the advocacy group, RootsAction alleges:
Sweden has a record of bowing to U.S. pressure, including the handing over of two men to the CIA in 2006 --- leading the U.N. to find Sweden complicit in torture.
The United States reportedly has a sealed indictment prepared for Assange, charging him with crimes against 'national security.'
The group has an on-line petition requesting that Ecuador grant asylum, which can be signed here.
Meanwhile, the UK's Guardian reports that Assange's asylum request could prove an empty gesture. Absent "giving Assange Ecuadorian diplomatic status...there seems no way in which he can get to Healthrow, let alone Ecuador, without being arrested for breach of his bail conditions," the Guardian reported.
A video containing Democracy Now's more extended coverage of the event, including London's announcement that Assange is now subject to arrest and Assange's prior interview of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on RT, is posted below...