Wow. You likely won't see this covered on the actual Fox "News" Channel --- at least not in these words --- but somehow it made it onto their website yesterday [emphasis added]...
New technological advances may make it possible in the near future to engineer a coal-powered car so clean that it produces nearly no polluting emissions, including carbon dioxide, experts tell FoxNews.com.
As Peter Sinclair has mocked the denialists, while debunking their silly notion that CO2, even too much of it, is merely "plant food": "Plants use CO2. Therefore, more CO2 is good. It’s one of the hardy perennials of climate denialism."
The rest of the Fox article goes on to describe the developing technology for "clean coal-powered cars." We can't speak to the feasibility of the technology, but, if it's accurately described by Fox (how could it not be?!) it sounds quite interesting. Reportedly, it combines pulverized coal with iron-oxide pellets to create an "oxidation" process that produces heat "in a small chamber from which pollutants cannot escape."
"The only waste product would be water and solid coal ash --- no greenhouse gases," the article by Gene J. Koprowski claims, adding that the same technology could possibly be used "as a replacement for old-fashioned coal power plants, which spew greenhouse gases."
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Climate change already hitting Rocky Mtn ski resorts; House Dems slam Republicans for obstruction of climate action; Shell Oil calls it quits in the Arctic --- for now; Fox 'News' makes a stunning admission; Drought in the West, Flooding in Europe PLUS: Finally, some good news for kids in Detroit ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Sequestration would be bad news for clean energy and a clean environment; You may be eating toxic chemicals, even if you eat organic, avoid plastic; High court throws out $1B fraud verdict in Exxon leak case; US nuclear dump is leaking toxic waste; USDA warns farmers of accelerating climate change; Loss of wild bees serious threat to crop yields; Weather extremes provoked by trapping of giant waves in atmosphere ... PLUS: The New Abolitionists: Global Warming Is The Great Moral Crisis Of Our Time ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Early word on what happened today during the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing on the crucial Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, AL v. Eric Holder is not encouraging. This could come to be seen as a very dark day for voting rights in this country, as a landmark provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act may be on the verge of being dismantled and, arguably, a half a decade of civil rights advancements along with it.
Late last night we detailed what's at stake and how the activist Supremes are likely to intercede in what is clearly a Congressional duty, as specifically ascribed to them in the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That, despite a stunning 98 to 0 vote in the U.S. Senate to re-authorize the VRA for another 25 years as is, after 21 hearings and some 15,000 pages of documentation on the continuing blight of racial discrimination, as recently as 2006.
While it's always a perilous exercise to try and read the tea leaves from a SCOTUS hearing, The Nation's Ari Berman, who was present in the court room this morning, Tweets, disturbingly today: "In oral argument, Scalia likened Congressional support for Voting Rights Act to a 'perpetuation of racial entitlement'". He went on to indicate his "quick reaction" to the hearing was that, that while the five Republican Justices are "skeptical of Sec 5," there is a "small chance Kennedy can still be persuaded." He notes, that, incredibly, "Voter suppression attempts in [the] last election didn't even come up during SCOTUS arguments about Voting Rights Act".
Because the Supreme Court still operates in the 1800s, there was no live audio or video of today's hearing. The transcript, however, should be made available later today [Update: transcript is now linked at the bottom of this article] and audio will be made available on Friday.
For now, NBC reports today's hearings this way:
Central parts of an election law dating back to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the Voting Rights Act, appeared to be in jeopardy Wednesday after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to them.
NBC’s Pete Williams reported after the oral argument, "I think it’s a safe prediction to say that the Voting Rights Act, as it now stands, is not going to survive. The question is: how far will the Supreme Court go in striking parts of it down?"
Williams said what seemed to concern a majority of the justices was "the fact that the law is too backward looking."
Williams reported that during the one hour-and-15 minute oral argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the post-World War II Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe "was a good thing at one time, but times change."
The first section of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870 after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, reads simply: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
The second, and final section of the 15th Amendment, is even shorter: "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
Congress is charged with determining the "appropriate legislation" to assure that voters are not discriminated against on the basis of race. And, though it took almost another 100 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment to do so, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was passed to help ensure exactly that.
In 2006, in continuing its duty to uphold the Constitution, after 21 Congressional hearings, including testimony that amounted to some 15,000 pages of evidence, the VRA was re-authorized for another 25 years by an astounding 98 to 0 margin in the U.S. Senate and a nearly-as-impressive 390 to 33 in the U.S. House.
"There was a lot of invidious discrimination shown," says Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who chaired the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at the time. He characterized the hearings, which closely examined the extent to which racial discrimination still affects minority voters, as "one of the most extensive considerations of any piece of legislation that the United States Congress has dealt with in the twenty-seven and a half years that I have [served]."
That year's VRA re-authorization was signed into law by Republican George W. Bush. The law's three other federal re-authorizations (in 1970, 1975 and 1982) were also signed into law by Republican Presidents.
One of the most successful, and universally respected pieces of bi-partisan legislation in our nation's history, however, is now coming under serious attack from Republicans and a group of billionaire funders in the years following its last re-authorization. Since that year, an unprecedented number of challenges against the VRA --- specifically its Section 5, which applies to some 16 different jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination --- have been filed in the court system, at the same time that a tidal wave of voter suppression laws have been passed by GOP legislatures across the country, most notably, in many of the jurisdictions covered by Section 5.
A challenge to that section of the VRA, which served to block a number of new restrictions on voting and voter registration during the run-up to the 2012 election, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, and the outlook for the crucial protections that Section 5 has offered for decades are now potentially in very grave danger of being struck down entirely...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Here we go again: another "historic" storm... but it's not enough to end our historic drought; BP finally goes to trial for the oil disaster in the Gulf; China and Estonia move forward on renewable energy innovation; PLUS: CA Gov. Jerry Brown says fighting climate change is a boon, not a bust, for the economy... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Study: how Arctic sea ice loss impacts weather extremes; Horsemeat scandal 'an object lesson in food politics'; Drought closing U.S. feedlots, meatpackers; Dog food recall underscores toxic danger in drought; AEP agrees to close 3 coal plants; Heart-pounding ride on Navy's Great Green Fleet; DoD attacks climate change; Media and myth on doomsday messages on climate change; Cryosat-2 confirms stunning Arctic ice loss; UK farming, flood crisis ... PLUS: Tanks leaking radioactive waste in Washington State ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Yes, Washington D.C. and the corporate media which cover it, are spending a whole lot of time and resources playing into what amounts to a massive presentation of kabuki theater, and its not one that actually helps us with the addition of new jobs or economic growth in any real way whatsoever. Arguably, as Spross explains, it may well accomplish just the opposite.
It's difficult to select just the key passages from the piece, as mentioned, since it's chock full of smart analysis throughout. But, for those without the patience to read the whole thing, here are a few of the central thoughts that you should educate yourself about...
My thanks to those of you who answered my recent call for support on the heels of our 9th Anniversary announcement. A little more than 100 of you answered that call which, while seemingly a very small number of the thousands who visit here each day, is amongst the largest responses we've had to any of our attempted fundraisers over the years, in terms of number of people giving.
So my great thanks for that. If you had purchased our premium offer for a signed copy of Marta Steele's new book, Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Rise and Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, 2000 - 2008, it's on its way or already there, or we'll need a few more days to get a few of them out, since we oversold our limited number of available copies and Marta's been kind enough to help us get a few more to cover all of those who purchased. If you didn't get one through our premium offer, you can (and should!) get one via the Columbus Free Press website right here.
All of that said, I'm still facing difficult questions about how to sustainably keep going here as we begin our 10th(!) year of trouble-making, muckraking and journalism regarding many topics that most in the media would prefer to ignore. I hate --- and am not very good at --- constantly haranging you all for contributions, even if it's just a few times a year. So, for the short term, a quick question for those who have time to offer some feedback to me here...
"First I want to say thank you, if you tuned in this past Monday to watch the new MSNBC documentary about how the last administration tricked the U.S. into the Iraq War," she said. The film garnered the highest ratings of any documentary in the history of the channel.
"The success is really exciting. It means there will be more of where that came from in coming months and years," Maddow explained before announcing that the film will re-air on Friday, March 15th at 9pm ET. (You can watch the entire documentary online before that right here, if you like.)
Congratulations are certainly due. While there were several new revelations in the film, much of the story of the string of blatant lies and scams culled together to hoax the country into war had already been known to those of us news geeks who follow this stuff too closely. Nonetheless, it was very helpful, and an excellent reminder, to see the entire case laid out in a single, simple, watchable presentation. We're delighted to hear it was a ratings success.
Revisiting that disaster also helped encourage The BRAD BLOG to examine several still-existing loose ends --- beyond the fact that, shamefully, nobody in the Bush Administration has ever been brought to account in any way for what happened, including what are clearly a series of very serious war crimes. Among the points we've been looking into, in the wake of the Hubris documentary, is the questions of whether or not Colin Powell "knowingly lied" in his presentation of what turned out to be blatantly false evidence for the case against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, when the then-Secretary of State spoke to the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003 and helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of an invasion.
Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, admits during the film that he and Powell "did participate in a hoax." But, in a statement in response to our request for comment, Wilkerson vigorously denied that either he or his boss knowingly did so. He sent his statement after we'd published anti-war author and activist David Swanson's critique of the Hubris film, on the day after it initially aired. In the critique, Swanson cites his own 2011 essay which offers evidence to argue that Powell "knowingly lied" during his presentation to the U.N. (Both Swanson and 27-year Sr. CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was cited in Wilkerson's response, each replied to him in turn. You can read all of their responses here.)
While Swanson "applauded" the MSNBC documentary for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he also offered a number of pointed critiques for the cable news channel itself. His observations are on-point in both regards, and help to raise a suggestion for an important and necessary follow-up documentary that, we suspect, would likely garner ratings at least as high as those earned for Hubris.
After all, though Hubris:Selling the Iraq War focused on the lies told by the Bush Administration in the run-up to war, unfortunately, they were not the only ones "selling the Iraq War"...
TPM has been posting some of the winners from this this year's World Press Photo of the Year contest. This remarkable photo, by Paul Hansen, was awarded the top prize from among more than 100,000 submitted by 5,666 photographers...
Hansen's Nov. 20, 2012 photo was taken in Gaza City, Palestinian Territories, and is described this way: "Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put into intensive care. Fouad's brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher."
We'll have a related-ish story on all of this Monday. But, for the moment --- in the comment thread of our recent story about Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's vehement denial that his old boss "knowingly lied" during his infamous 2/5/03 U.N. Security Council presentation of what turned out to be false evidence of an Saddam Hussein's WMD program, there was a fair bit of vitriol directed at both Powell and Wilkerson.
A number of commenters feel that neither of the two men have yet to come fully clean, and argued as much in pretty harsh terms in their remarks.
I'm uncomfortable with a lot of the Wilkerson bashing in this comment thread.
I would agree that there are gaps in Wilkerson and Powell's narratives. I share the anger and frustration of the continuing themes in this country of no accountability for those in power, whether the issues are war and death, financial collapse and suffering, or the constant lying and gross misrepresentation of history and reality that we're subjected to every day by most politicians and the bulk of the corporate media.
Here at The BRAD BLOG we've been calling for the same thing for U.S. elections for some time. Granted, it hasn't been 1000 years, it's just beginning to feel like it. We were even recently immortalized for that effort.
Schneier's breakdown of the voting process at papal enclaves is absolutely fascinating, particularly as the process they've developed over centuries mirrors much of what the process would look like if our nation ditched its secret, oft-failed, easily-manipulated, unoverseeable vote-tallying computers and modeled our tabulation process on the open, public, and very rarely challenged process used by the citizens in some 40% of New Hampshire's towns. It's almost identical, in many ways, to the one used to select new popes.
As Schneier notes, when a new pope is elected, "Every step of the election process is observed by everyone."
"The ballot is entirely paper-based," he explains, "and all ballot counting is done by hand. Votes are secret, but everything else is open"
Talk about your "Holy See"?! It's hand-counted PAPAL ballots!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Secretary of State John Kerry comes out swinging on climate change; BP off the hook again - for $3.4 billion; Genetically modified crops do not produce bigger harvests; PLUS: How secretive rightwing billionaires fund the climate change denial industry --- and get a tax deduction for it! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The virtues of being unreasonable on Keystone; 1.5C rise in temperature enough to start permafrost melt; Poll: strong support for clean energy, carbon pollution standards; Alaska Senate rolls back cruiseship water pollution standards; Honda to offer rooftop solar systems; Arctic sea ice volume has 'collapsed'; The most terrifying graph you'll see all day; Major methane release is almost inevitable; Mexico's dramatic, rapid recovery from traffic gridlock; US natural gas bubble threatens economy ... PLUS: Unlocking the conspiracy mind-set ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson is 'increasingly convinced' of blatant fabrications by George W. Bush's team and the CIA, but says that a specific critique of his former boss cited by The BRAD BLOG 'desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already bad enough'...
[Now UPDATED with a response from 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern at bottom of article.]
In a response to a charge cited by The BRAD BLOG on Tuesday that then Sec. of State Colin Powell "knowingly lied" during his infamous February 5, 2003 presentation of false intelligence to the U.N. Security Council about the need to attack Iraq, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, characterizes the allegation as unfair.
He says points made in support of that claim are "misleading and even spurious" and "not supported in the surrounding narrative."
"I have admitted what a hoax we perpetrated," says Wilkerson in his reply today, sent in response to our request for comment. "But it actually spoils or desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already a bad enough set of misstatements, very poor intelligence analysis, and --- I am increasingly convinced, outright lies --- to take the matter to absurdity with one man, in this case Powell."
David Swanson, who authored the charges in question, as cited earlier this week by The BRAD BLOG, disputes Wilkerson's response. The full remarks by both men are posted in full at the end of this article.
While Swanson lauded the project for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he offered a number of worthy criticisms as well, including the fact that MSNBC, which aired the documentary, failed to acknowledge its own participation in propagating many of those same lies to the American people.
Some of those revelations come by way of Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and, more to the point, Powell's Chief of Staff at the time of his February 5, 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council on the supposed chemical, biological and nuclear threats posed by Saddam Hussein. That presentation by, perhaps, the most well-respected official in the Bush Administration at the time, is widely credited with turning the tide of public opinion in favor of the invasion of Iraq which would commence just weeks later, ten years ago next month.
Unfortunately, virtually every piece of evidence presented by Powell at the U.N., said to have been culled from various intelligence agencies, turned out to be completely false. Some years later, Powell would describe the speech as a "painful" "blot" on his career. As Hubris details, Powell's evidence was not only wrong, but known to be wrong by many in the intelligence community by the time that it was presented to the public as fact by the well-respected Secretary of State.
"Though neither Powell nor anyone else from the State Department team intentionally lied," says Wilkerson in the film, "we did participate in a hoax."
Swanson's critique, however, takes that point further, charging that "The Hubris version of Colin Powell's lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold."
"Powell was not a victim. He 'knowingly lied.'," wrote Swanson, including a link to his own 2011 op-ed at Consortium News headlined "Colin Powell's Disgraceful Lies".
Given the serious nature of the charges cited by Swanson, as detailed in his 2011 piece --- all well-documented with direct quotes from the State Department's own January 31, 2003 Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) assessment repeatedly describing most of the claims Powell would offer the following week at the U.N. as "WEAK" at best, and "implausible" in many cases --- it seemed appropriate to given Wilkerson the opportunity to respond to the direct allegation that Powell was outright lying during his U.N. presentation.
In his response, Wilkerson draws a line in the sand, if you will, against the contention that his former boss "knowingly lied"...
The good folks at Right About Now have decided to immortalize a quote from this September, 2009 op-ed of mine detailing my call for pilot projects around the country to develop much-needed data and benchmarks for what we describe around here as "Democracy's Gold Standard": Hand-marked paper ballots, publicly counted by hand at the precinct on Election Night, with the public, all political parties and even video cameras rolling, and results posted at the precinct before ballots are moved anywhere...
You can click on the cool graphic to enlarge it if you have any trouble reading it. And, about that quote, I totally agree!
Unfortunately, the supposedly "non-partisan" commission being convened [PDF] at the behest of the President --- and being co-chaired by an incredibly partisan former "Swift Boat" GOP operative --- in order to "fix" some of the problems which reared their ugly heads again during the 2012 election, such as long lines, difficulty in registration or casting overseas absentees ballots, is not currently set to review the extraordinary problems (here's just one recent example) that our nation has with vote tabulation in this country, much less explore the need for fully public, fully transparent, fully citizen-overseeable election result tabulation in a nation that supposedly prides itself on government of the people, by the people and for the people.
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Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation --- now in our TENTH YEAR! --- with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...
On Monday night, NBC News aired its new documentary, Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, based on the book of a similar name by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. The film offered a number of new and disturbing insights since the original 2007 book was published.
While it may be maddening --- particularly for those of us who followed the massive scam as it was ongoing --- the documentary should be mandatory viewing for those who have lost sight of just how each and every single one of the key reasons used to sell the U.S. on war with Iraq was built on known lies. Each and every point --- from Saddam's alleged ties to al-Qaeda, to his alleged mobile chemical labs, to his alleged nuke program, to those aluminum tubes said to have been for use in uranium enrichment, to the "fissile material" (yellowcake) he was said to have been trying to obtain from Niger --- was a lie. And each an every lie was known to be a lie by the scoundrels and war criminals who sold it to the American public and a compliant American media.
Even with its failures, and several of them are identified here, Hubris reminds us of how each and every one of those points was a scam. Period. And, while it's not expressly highlighted (but should be in a follow up!), we are reminded how none of the liars have ever faced any accountability whatsoever, despite nearly 4,500 U.S. troops killed, more than 30,000 of them wounded, well over 100,000 Iraqi citizens murdered and some $3 trillion looted from our nation's coffers. You should take the time to watch it.
The entire documentary, broken into 6 parts, narrated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and originally aired on 2/18/2013, follows in full below...