IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama smacks down attempts to politicize science research; EPA smacks down Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine; Europe smacks down bee-killing pesticides; PLUS: Dr. James Hansen smacks back at Canada's "Neanderthal" government ... All those smack downs and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Portable solar cell sticks to your window; Shocking new numbers on bottled water; French town has too much money, thanks to wind turbines; Tests show pervasive chemicals in Chicago's air; Al Jazeera special report: Fueling geopolitics - the oil saga; China becoming global climate change leader; TN lawmaker says animal-rights activists are like 'rapists'; The 'dark side' of energy independence; Haiti's RE-forestation plan; Obama nominates Charlotte, NC mayor for Transportation; Massive Sacramento Delta water project moves forward; Why do US-born kids have more allergies, asthma?...PLUS: Conservative shoppers like eco-friendly lightbulbs - just don't say it's 'eco-friendly' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
"Maybe"? Ya think?! From Chicago Tribune, on their recent interview with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor about 2000's infamous Bush v. Gore case...
Looking back, O'Connor said, she isn't sure the high court should have taken the case.
"It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue," O'Connor said during a talk Friday with the Tribune editorial board. "Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye.'"
The case, she said, "stirred up the public" and "gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation."
"Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision," she said. "It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn't done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day."
"Probably"?! Ya think?! The paper goes on to explain that O'Connor's "vote in the 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision effectively gave Republican George W. Bush a victory over his Democratic opponent, then-Vice President Al Gore." That, after the U.S. Supreme Court had stopped the public hand-counting of the votes cast by the people of Florida.
Contrast O'Connor's thoughtful, if ridiculously-too-late response to the question of the controversial Bush v. Gore, with that of the still-serving U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was seen over the weekend yucking it up with Bill O'Reilly of Fox "News" at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. When asked, in 2007, about the case which allowed five Supreme Court justices to install a U.S. President over the will of the people, he responded that it was "water over the deck", and Americans just need to "get over it."
Four years after Bush v. Gore, in 2004, Democrats vowed not to let that happen again, of course. Their Presidential nominee that time, then Senator John Kerry, promised he would not concede until every vote was counted. Despite massive reports of fraud, particularly in Ohio, and Exit Polls finding he had won in swingstate-after-swingstate, countering the still-unverified electronic results reporting that he had lost in many of those same states, Kerry flip-flopped and conceded the day after the election.
Remarkably, now that an unverified and unverifiable election in Venezuela has recently resulted in the U.S. Government's favored candidate being announced the loser, Kerry, now serving as Sec. of State, is calling for a full hand-count of "paper receipts" in that country because he claims to be concerned about the "confidence of the Venezuelan people in the quality of the vote," as our own Ernie Canning detailed earlier today. Yes, that's what Kerry really said.
Do you suppose he, like O'Connor, may someday realize that "maybe" he made a mistake too?
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Over the past decade, The BRAD BLOG, has become one of the nation's largest repositories of articles documenting the folly of e-voting. Thousands of articles at this site, written over the years by multiple journalists, computer experts, scientists, whistle-blowers and election integrity advocates, have pointed to academic and government studies, electoral train wrecks in election-after-election and out-and-out system crashes resulting in long lines, lost votes and denial of both service and democracy on Election Day.
We've even documented instances in which the official results were not merely absurd, but in some cases, virtually impossible --- from the negative 16,022 votes registered for Al Gore by a Volusia County, Florida optical-scan system during the contested 2000 Presidential Election to the thousands of electronic votes which simply disappearedafter election night in Monroe County, Arkansas' 2010 state primary, just to mention a couple.
With rare exception, these very real, scientifically-based and independently verifiable concerns about the threat to democracy posed by a lack of transparency in how, if at all, votes are counted within the confines of computer vote tabulators, have, at best, been all but ignored by the mainstream corporate media, or, worse, scoffed at by the likes of "journalists" like Chuck Todd, NBC News' supposed election expert, as little more than "conspiracy garbage." With rare exception (e.g. last year in Palm Beach County, FL where, as a result of a 100% hand-count of paper ballots, several "losing" candidates, as initially determined by the Sequoia optical-scan tabulators, were actually found to be the winners) election-after-election has been decided in this nation without so much as a single ballot having been counted by a human being before results, right or wrong, are announced to the public.
The extent to which the U.S. government has ignored these scientific concerns was encapsulated by the fact that, last Fall, the President of the United States saw fit to cast his early vote on the oft-failed, incredibly-vulnerable, easily-hacked and 100% unverifiable Sequoia AVC Edge Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting system in Chicago --- a system manufactured by the same voting machine company which, according to its former employees, deliberately sabotaged the punch card paper stock that was bound for use in Miami-Dade, Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election. That same tabulation system, relied upon by the President in Chicago, was also the one which declared the wrong "winners" in three different races in the Palm Beach County elections held earlier last year.
President Obama, in an apparent reference to the secrecy of the vote, said "I can't tell you who I voted for." He either didn't realize or didn't care how ironic that statement was given that it is scientifically impossible to ever know if his vote, or anyone else who cast a vote on that same 100% unverifiable e-voting system, was recorded accurately, or at all. It disappeared into the electronic black hole on equipment now ostensibly owned by Dominion Voting Systems, the Canadian corporation which purchased Sequoia in 2010. The Sequoia-manufactured, Dominion-owned e-voting machine Obama used to cast his vote last year was the trade secret Intellectual Property of yet another company: Smartmatic Voting Systems, a Venezuela-based, international e-voting systems manufacturer and supplier which had long ago been tied to the late President Hugo Chávez.
But a funny thing happened after the results of Venezuela's recent Presidential election were announced by the country's National Electoral Council (CNE). According to the electronic central tabulators of the country's 100% unverifiable Smartmatic DRE e-voting systems, Chávez protégé, Nicolas Maduro, had narrowly defeated the U.S.-backed Henrique Capriles.
At that moment --- and only for Venezuela's election, clearly --- both the U.S. government and U.S. mainstream corporate media suddenly became election integrity converts.
They insist on a 100% hand-count of the DRE-produced paper receipts because, as observed by ABC News, the CNE results are based upon "information that is sent electronically from each voting machine to the central vote counting hub," and not "from a manual count of the voting receipts deposited in ballot boxes." That, of course, is almost the exact same way that President Obama's vote in Chicago was tallied, either accurately or not, last year.
When asked by the AP's Matthew Lee whether the U.S. would recognize the Maduro government now that the election had been certified by the CNE, the State Department's Patrick Ventrell said earlier this month: "We're not there yet." His sentiment would be echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry, ironically enough, in an appearance before Congress. Both Ventrell and Kerry claimed to be concerned about the "confidence of the Venezuelan people in the quality of the vote."
Setting aside the fact that there is no way to know whether any computer-printed paper receipt accurately reflects the will of any voter in any election, the event underscores, once again, the striking duplicity of both the U.S. government and the corporate-owned mainstream media on the subject of democracy...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: As the nation mourns the horrific West Fertilizer explosion in TX, the chemical industry pushes for more fertilizer plants and less regulation; Yet another fossil fuel explosion on the Gulf Coast; California now has more solar workers than actors; PLUS: East London's Chief Flusher is turning fat into electricity ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): New fossil fuel frontiers pose 'catastrophic' threat to global recovery; A master class on the state of clean-energy investment (video); State of the Air 2013: where does your city rank?; SF votes to divest from fossil fuels; Shale mining controversy under Great Barrier Reef; Fox News concocts conspiracy for the phrase 'climate change'; UN climate chief hopeful on climate treaty; US military faulted for 'burn pits' in Afghanistan... PLUS: VIDEO: Fox "News" concocts conspiracy for the phrase "Climate Change" ... and much, MUCH more! ...
To date, 15 have been killed by the blast, including 12 first responders, with nearly 200 others injured. The explosion covered some 37 blocks and left a crater nearly 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep at the plant itself. Galindo offers the latest on how the tiny town of 2,600 is holding up, how they are dealing with concerns about governmental oversight of the plant (or lack thereof), and the continuing investigation into the mystery of what may have caused the disaster.
The good news: When the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation gets its new voting system, perhaps as early as 2015, it will not including Internet Voting, according to Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles. The bad news: It will very likely include touch-screen computers and, with them, 100% unverifiable voting.
I interviewed Logan last week on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show [full audio interview is at the bottom of this article], and we had a very informative discussion about what voters in Los Angeles may have to look forward to in the coming years, as well as many of you in the rest of the country, since the new system is being designed with an eye towards selling it to other counties in California as well as in the rest of the country.
So this is not just a local L.A. story. It's likely to affect the way that votes are cast and tallied in much of the nation. It's well worth paying attention to, even if, unlike me, you don't live here.
Los Angeles County alone "has more voters than 42 of the 50 states," according to Logan's office. It features nearly 5,000 precincts. Well over 3 million votes were cast in this one county alone during the November 6, 2012 Presidential Election. When Logan took over the job of Registrar after our previous one resigned, suddenly, just months before the 2008 President Election, he had a monster of a job to take over. It's still a monster. And it may soon get even more gargantuan as he attempts to re-work, re-design and, indeed, re-think how voters vote here, and as we move from our current publicly-owned voting system to our next publicly-owned voting system. (L.A. is one of the very few jurisdictions in the nation which owns, maintains and designs its own system. Most similar systems in the rest of the state and nation are proprietary, owned by the private companies which make them, and don't allow even the election officials in those jurisdictions access to their "trade-secret" software and source code.)
While, happily, Logan offered me some assurance that we won't be casting votes over the Internet with his new system --- an assurance that should bring some measure of relief to both Election Integrity advocates as well as the consensus of computer science and security experts who are also experts in voting systems --- there is still much cause for concern, as this still-unknown voting system begins to take shape...
You'll be delighted to know, of course, that the same casino, stock market immediately gained almost all of its losses back in almost the same amount of time it took to lose them, ultimately ending the day at another near-record high. Step right up!
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: They'd like to get their lives back: 3rd anniversary of BP's Oil Disaster in the Gulf; EPA victory over mountaintop removal coal mining; EPA slams State Dept's Keystone XL report; PLUS: Free at last: environmental activist Tim de Christopher freed - on Earth Day ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): America now has more solar energy workers than coal miners; Earth's cooling came to sudden halt in 1900; '800 Love Canals' remain; Jewell: 'One size doesn't fit all' on fracking; Denier myth: ‘Climate Change’ vs. ‘Global Warming’; Denying sea-level rise divides NC; Sichuan earthquake's threat to China's dams; WA: How Boeing killed water quality standards; TX fertilizer blast raises national security questions; EPA powerless over toxic flame retardant chemicals ... PLUS: Reality Gap: Americans clueless about global scientific consensus on human-caused climate change ... and much, MUCH more! ...
It was quite a moving show last night in the Nevada State Senate, as a Joint Resolution was passed that would repeal the Constitutional ban on marriage equality in that state, as passed by voters over a decade ago.
All of the state Senate's Democrats supported the resolution, and one Republican jumped onto the right side of history in a surprise last-minute move. One Democratic Senator even came out as gay during the floor proceedings.
The measure passed the Nevada Senate 12 to 9 and will now head to the Assembly. If successful there, it will face one more vote in both chambers in 2015 before appearing on the 2016 ballot for approval by voters who, according to recent polls there, are now believed to be in favor of lifting the ban. So, as MLK famously said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Dramatic speeches on the floor during debate on the resolution led even jaded long-time Nevada report Jon Ralston, who covered the debate live via his Twitter feed, to observe: "Too often we who cover politics think of these people as automatons pressing a red or green button. Not tonight. Raw, emotional, human."
"Great to be not just a witness to history (or the beginning, at least), but to see politicians stripped down to who they are was something," he noted, before adding: "I feel sorry for reporters who weren't here to feel the electricity in this chamber."
But with Democrats across the country now seemingly falling over themselves to suddenly support marriage equality --- redefining the word "evolution" (or, perhaps, more accurately, attempting to redefine the word "flip-flop") --- even Republicans, at least Republicans in the Northeast, are also now showing signs of scrambling to get onto the right side of history as well.
This early evidence of that arrived in my inbox this morning, from the FreedomToMarry.org group...
Among the many items which would have otherwise been top stories --- some even meriting wall-to-wall cable news channel coverage --- during last week's Worst News Week Ever™, was the release of a landmark bi-partisan report on the use of torture by the U.S. following 9/11.
The Constitution Project's "Task Force on Detainee Treatment" is described as "an independent, bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel charged with examining the federal government’s policies and actions related to the capture, detention and treatment of suspected terrorists during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations."
It is headed up by former Congressmen Asa Hutchinson (R) and James R. Jones (D). Hutchinson also served as a top official in the George W. Bush Administration.
"In many respects," the introduction to the report explains, "this Task Force report is the examination of the treatment of suspected terrorists that official Washington has been reluctant to conduct."
A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture" and that the nation's highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.
The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been "the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody."
The use of torture, the report concludes, has "no justification" and "damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive." The task force found "no firm or persuasive evidence" that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means.
Mr. Hutchinson, who served in the Bush administration as chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration and under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said he "took convincing" on the torture issue. But after the panel's nearly two years of research, he said he had no doubts about what the United States did.
"This has not been an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players," Mr. Hutchinson said in an interview.
"I had not recognized the depths of torture in some cases," Mr. Jones said. "We lost our compass."
While the Constitution Project report covers mainly the Bush years, it is critical of some Obama administration policies, especially what it calls excessive secrecy. It says that keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public "cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security" and urges the administration to stop citing state secrets to block lawsuits by former detainees.
We will reserve the option of returning to this matter in the near future in more detail. But, as we're still recovering, as you may be as well, from a horrible news hangover following last week's Week From Hell (during which Andy Daly tweeted accurately: "When an Elvis impersonator trying to kill the President is the least interesting news story of the week, you know some shit went down") we are going to go easy on this matter for the moment, and defer instead to the The Daily Show's coverage of this disturbing report...just to help take the edge off things for now. You're welcome.
A solar-powered plane, known as the Solar Impulse, is cable of flying both day and night without fuel, courtesy of 12,000 photovotaic cells and batteries. The plane, "born in Switzerland", is set to commence a cross-country journey from San Francisco to New York on May 1, following a test flight in the Bay area on Friday. It is scheduled to make a number of stops along the way, flying some 20 to 26 hours each leg.
But its still pretty cool. The major goal of the project is for a round-the-world flight, now scheduled for 2015. Here's a look at an earlier 2010 test flight of Solar Impulse, back when its goal for a global flight was still scheduled for 2012...
Today is the three year anniversary of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and manslaughter disaster. 11 men were killed and more than 200 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf in what would turn out to be the largest accidental oil spill in world history.
A remark on last week's Real Time with Bill Maher drew my attention back to the woeful "advocacy journalism" (I'm being kind there) of those on the Right who continue, even to this day, to perform public relations work for the fossil fuel industry under the guise of "journalism".
Maher cited an embarrassing quote from an article by Steven F. Hayward, published by the unapologetically-wrong-on-just-about-everything Weekly Standard (the "brain"-child of its also-unapologetically-wrong-on-just-about-everything editors William Kristol and Fred Barnes) which, for non-RW loon reporters, might have been a career-ender. Or, at least, for non-RW loon reporters, it might have led to the humblest of apologies and acknowledgment for having been so tragically wrong. No such apologies or contrition occur in RW Media "Expert" Land, unfortunately, where there is no inaccuracy too wrong and no prognostication so off base that it might cause shame or humility or, gasp, an invitation from its publishers to never write there again.
Just days before the explosion of BP's rig and the death of those workers (BP recently pleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, after which nobody from BP went to jail, naturally), Hayward wrote: "Few areas of national policy offer as bad a ratio of blather to substance as energy. It is a field where cliché, wishful thinking, and wince-inducing ignorance dominate the discourse."
"No matter how patiently or repeatedly the myths and realities of energy are explained," Hayward condescended, "we are nowhere near being able to replace God's gift of dirty, toxic fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. "Liberals," he noted, "are the worst offenders," when it comes to this naive, misinformed wishful thinking.
Hayward, the sage and much-smarter-than-you Fellow from the American Enterprise Institute, went on to write in his article, published on April 16, 2010 [emphasis added]...
The two main reasons oil and other fossil fuels became environmentally incorrect in the 1970s—air pollution and risk of oil spills—are largely obsolete. Improvements in drilling technology have greatly reduced the risk of the kind of offshore spill that occurred off Santa Barbara in 1969. ... To fear oil spills from offshore rigs today is analogous to fearing air travel now because of prop plane crashes in the 1950s.
Just four days later, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf.