IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: 20m gallon water main break, amid worst drought in CA history, exposes threat of decrepit U.S. water infrastructure; Record wildfires depleting firefighting budgets; Republicans fiddle while the West burns; New report finds (again) climate change is really, really expensive; PLUS: Warming oceans bring flesh-eating bacteria to Florida... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Huge waves observed for first time in melting Arctic; Federal coal lease sale gets only 1 bidder; EPA kicks of power plant emissions hearings; Religious leaders call carbon pollution 'an affront to God'; AL utility regulators say curbing coal violates God's will; 'Holy Grail' lithium battery breakthrough; Flywheel energy storage breakthrough; Ris in 'nuisance flooding'; Toxic, bee-killing pesticides found in US waterways... PLUS: Trees save lives and billions of dollars ... and much, MUCH more! ...
While Congressional Republicans are busy filing a lawsuit against President Obama, in a purported attempt to bring accountability for...failing to enforce the law...or something, Republican Commissioners on the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) are going to extraordinary lengths to avoid enforcing the law.
In the bargain, its GOP Commissioners are railing against their fellow Democratic Commissioners for attempting to bring accountability for actual violations of federal campaign finance law, turning the facts of the case on its head, and publicly attacking their colleagues as "strident" obstructionists, eschewing the rule of law.
Yes, it's another breathtakingly twisted chapter from the unending Partisan Wars of 2014, although a rather important one with potentially far reaching consequences for the nation, as those paying attention might notice --- though few seem to be...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama Administration approves sonic cannons for offshore oil exploration off the East Coast; Tornadoes in Boston? Bizarre extreme weather across the U.S.; Colorado judge strikes down local fracking ban; General Mills takes action on global warming; PLUS: Rocker Neil Young wants your help with a new technology to stop illegal logging in the rainforest ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Libya oil depot fire blazes out of control; NBC Shows How To Report On The Economic Costs Of Climate Change; BP Oil Spill is much worse than people think: scientists say; EPA is failing to stop pipeline methane leaks; More mysterious craters found in remote Siberia region; GOP candidate: most energy problems ‘are caused by environmentalists’; New communications platform to link electric cars, utilities... PLUS: Report find delaying climate action will carry heavy economic cost ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Please. NBC. Please put David Gregory and Meet the Press out of our misery. Pretty please? Would it help if I released a wholly unverified video claiming that Hamas was firing rockets towards Israel out of 30 Rock?
Last Thursday, as we noted at the time, Israel had reportedly bombed a U.N. shelter at a U.N. school compound, "designated as a haven for the displaced", according to AP. The attack on the shelter in northern Gaza was said to have killed at least 15 and injured scores more, many of them children. Israel had claimed, at the time, that they had sent a warning the night before so, presumably, it's all cool and totally the Red Cross' or Hamas' or the children's own fault for having been killed or injured in Israel's mortar attack. Had they only re-located to a safer place --- like, say, a U.N. shelter?! --- none of it would have happened.
Israel claimed at the time that the school compound in question had been used by Hamas as a base for firing rockets at Israel.
On Sunday, Israel released a grainy video purporting to show rockets being fired from the compound. Minutes after they had posted it to YouTube --- and just after his interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu --- David Gregory of NBC's Meet the Press confronted U.N. Relief & Works Agency spokesperson Chris Gunness about the video --- which the U.N. spokesman could not see from his satellite location in Tel Aviv.
"The Israeli government has released videotape within the past hour, it was posted on YouTube, NBC News hasn't independently verified," Gregory explained to Gunness. "The Israelis say --- and I realize that you cannot see this video, our audience can, and I'm going to describe it to you --- that purports to show rockets being fired from a UN school."
"Is this accurate?" Gregory asked. "Could this be happening without the UN's knowledge, that would only bolster the Prime Minister's point that, in fact, Hamas is using civilians, using the United Nations even in a kind of propaganda war?"...
The U.S. House has finally found something they can agree on. They want President Obama to remove U.S. troops from Iraq.
In an overwhelming bi-partisan vote on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Concurrent Resolution [PDF], which, pursuant to Section 5(c) of the War Powers Act, directs "the President to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel from Iraq" within 30 days, unless it is unsafe to do so.
...at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.
The bi-partisan Resolution, adopted by a 370 to 40 vote, was introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
Last month, the President authorized up to 300 more U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq as military advisers in the wake of the takeover of a number of Iraqi cities by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That brought the total of U.S. troops in the nation to more than 800.
Win Without War, a national coalition of anti-war organizations, released a statement describing today's vote as "a strong message to President Obama that there is no authorization for any escalation of US military involvement in Iraq."
"After nearly 13 years of trying to solve such challenges militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little success, the American people simply do not support another war in the Middle East," the group said in their statement. "Instead, we hope today's clear message against military escalation will encourage the President to double down on diplomatic efforts and a robust humanitarian response."
While the House Resolution is directed to the President, it also represents a stinging rebuke to GOP war hawk Senators like John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). Earlier this month the pair criticized the President for refusing to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government after he came to office, which would have "kept U.S. troops there", following George W. Bush's Status of Forces Agreement struck with Iraq in 2008. That agreement called for the removal of all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011.
The vote on Friday is believed to be largely symbolic, however, as it would require similar passage in the U.S. Senate, where Senators like McCain and Graham would likely seek to block a vote on the matter. Then, again, matters could lead to a "politics-make-strange-bedfellows" moment if Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) were to come together in support of the Concurrent Resolution.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Breaking: Sudden storm ravages campground in VA; New rules for explosive oil trains; Big win in small Maine town over Big (tar sands) Oil; Sunday news shows discover global warming exists; PLUS: We're No.1! America and Rush Limbaugh lead the world...in global warming denial ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Attack of the Chicago climate change maggots; Solar car sets new land speed record; Republicans always listen to the Pentagon --- except on climate change; Self-cooling solar cells generate more output; Oil industry damaged PA water sources 200+ times; Amid CA drought, Nestle guzzles private water; Forest managers ban exploding shooting targets over fire fears ... PLUS: National Hockey League warns global warming threatens hockey's future ... and much, MUCH more! ...
A United Nations shelter in northern Gaza was shelled on Thursday, causing "multiple deaths and injuries," according to a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency.
At least 15 people were killed and scores hurt when a school compound in Beit Hanoun, designated as a haven for the displaced, was bombarded by Israeli forces amid heavy fighting with Palestinian militants, a Gaza health official said.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N. Refugee and Works Agency, or UNRWA, tweeted that the precise coordinates of the shelter had been relayed to Israeli forces.
Israel's Defense Forces issued a statement Thursday saying that they had ordered the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the shelter in Belt Hanoun late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
"Evacuate" them to where exactly? A U.N. shelter or something?
The L.A. Times goes on to report that, "According to the IDF, Hamas militants prevented civilians from evacuating and continued firing rockets from the area around the shelter."
Who knows if that's true or not. Either way, of course, as "the Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpassed 720 in overnight and early-morning bombardment," it's clear that Israel's strategy of bombing children in U.N. shelters, but warning them first, will almost certainly result in years of peace and prosperity for the Israeli people. What could possibly go wrong?
It also allowed me to rant a bit about connect a few dots between things like last weekend's aborted "recount" in the California Controller's primary election (which, as I reported earlier this week, helped draw a roadmap for how to steal an election in this state with little likelihood of being caught), and the more-than-decade-long fight for election integrity, including the continuing fight for actual citizen oversight of public elections, which both Ennis and I have waged in parallel journeys.
Moreover, it allowed me to connect some dots again between things like the infamous Citizen's United decision, which cut off much hope for election integrity at its knees in 2010, and the emergence of the mainstream Republican global warming denialist movement. Yes, the two issues are directly connected. (For more on that, which I didn't get time to fully cover on the show as hoped, see this.)
Finally, it also allowed me to talk about, and play some great clips from, three of my favorite election integrity documentaries (one of them Ennis' Free For All: One Dude's Quest to Save Democracy), which we made available as premiums for listeners pledging support for KPFK's fund drive. (And you are still welcome to call the number and offer your support as well, if you like!)
Officials administered the lethal drugs at 1:52 p.m. Wood's eyes closed.
About 10 minutes later, the gasping began.
Wood's jaw dropped, his chest expanded, and he let out a gasp. The gasps repeated every five to 12 seconds. They went on and on, hundreds of times. An administrator checked on him a half-dozen times. He could be heard snoring loudly when an administrator turned on a microphone to inform the gallery that Wood was still sedated, despite the audible sounds.
As the episode dragged on, Wood's lawyers frantically drew up an emergency legal appeal, asking federal and state courts to step in and stop the execution.
"He has been gasping for more than an hour," the lawyers pleaded in their filings. "He is still alive."
The Arizona Supreme Court convened an impromptu telephone hearing with a defense lawyer and attorney for the state to decide what to do.
Wood took his last breath at 3:37 p.m. Twelve minutes later, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan declared Wood dead. The state court was informed of the death while its hearing was underway.
It took one hour and 57 minutes for the execution to be completed, and Wood was gasping for more than an hour and a half of that time.
The spokesperson for the AZ Attorney General, however, was "surprised by how peaceful it was"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Record wildfires burn a million acres in the Pacific Northwest; It's official: June 2014 was the hottest June globally on record; EPA moves to block massive Pebble Mine; California moves to block oil industry polluting groundwater; PLUS: Wanna cut your emissions? Then cut the beef... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Study vindicates climate models accused of ‘missing the pause’; Wildlife refuges ban bee-killing pesticide; Obama administration approves seismic testing for oil off Atlantic coast; NY seeks to shut down Indian Point nuclear plant to protect fish; Freedom Industries proposes $3m settlement for chemical spill; Portland, Maine fights off tar sands pipeline; CA couple fined for brown lawn while conserving water; Australia's drought caused by carbon emissions ... PLUS: Poll: U.S. Leads The World… In Climate Denial ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Paper ballots were meaningless: Closest election in California history illustrates major flaws in state election statutes, prompts calls for overdue reform, sends disturbing invitation to fraudsters...
Over the weekend state Assembly Member John Pérez called off his request for a statewide "recount" in the state Controllers primary race, despite the results from the June primary remaining the closest in a statewide race in California history. The vast majority of ballots never received a review by human eyeballs. [See NOTE at bottom of article to explain our use of quotes around the word "recount".]
A partial hand-count of paper ballots in two different counties --- and calls from fellow Democrats to give up the attempt to assure Election Integrity --- was largely all that would occur before the Pérez campaign decided throw in the towel and toss their support behind fellow Democrat Betty Yee for this November's general election.
"While I strongly believe that completing this process would result in me advancing to the general election," Pérez said in a statement posted to his campaign website, "it is clear that there are significant deficiencies in the process itself which make continuing the recount problematic."
Yee had reportedly defeated Pérez by just 481 votes out of well over 4 million ballots cast --- a margin of approximately 1/100th of one percent --- during the statewide primary on June 3rd, securing second place behind comfortable first-place finisher, Republican Ashley Swearengin, and a coveted spot on the November ballot. California now has a "Top-Two" primary system, where the two highest vote-getters of any party go on to face each other in the general election.
There is no automatic, state-sponsored "recount" for statewide races in CA, no matter how close they are found to be after tabulation by the state's hodge-podge of oft-failed, easily-manipulated computer tabulators in each county. If such a post-election count is desired, a candidate or any voter, may request one and pay for it themselves --- though they are refunded the fees if the results end up changing.
The battle for second place in the primary race, and the right to appear on this November's ballot to become the state's next chief financial officer, resulted in what the Sec. of State's office had described as "uncharted territory".
It left counties scrambling, politicians scratching their heads, media trying to figure out how "recounts" even work in this state, while also revealing a number of tremendous flaws in the state's "recount" statutes, some of which we've attempted to warn about at The BRAD BLOG over recent years...with few in Sacramento bothering to take notice.
They seem to be noticing some of those flaws now, however, even as Perez abruptly ended the count over the weekend, after finding just a handful of votes changing in his favor during expensive, partial hand-counts in two counties.
While the situation revealed serious shortcomings in the state's "recount" statutes, it has also revealed that, at least unless the laws are changed, it may be a great time to steal an election in the Golden State, with very little likelihood of detection...
While a Rightwing caller, apparently, was on hold to participate in the show, I detailed the fact that the polling place Photo ID restriction part of the GOP law (just one part of their horrific anti-voting statute) would do nothing to prevent so-called "voter fraud", since polling place impersonation is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent in this country, as this 2012 study by a non-partisan news consortium, detailing every known and/or reported incident of election or voter fraud in all 50 states going back to 2000, illustrated once again.
Once the caller "Jay" finally made it to air, his admission was quite revealing --- and even courageous --- yet illustrative of just about everything that is wrong with our corporate media (and the politics it has created) these days.
What he had to say is not what you'd probably expect. Give it a listen...
Download MP3 or listen online below. [Appx 9 mins, lightly edited to cover for a commercial break between two segments]...
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In the weeks since its debut on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has slowly, if assuredly, evolved from being little more than a weekend knockoff of its progenitor The Daily Show, to finding its own unique voice and ability to take advantage of the more in-depth "coverage" afforded by the lack of self-censorship otherwise required for commercial television and longer segments due to the lack of on-the-clock commercial breaks necessary for its Comedy Central brethren.
That maturity and evolution revealed itself in full flower during last night's lengthy segment on America's horrific and insane --- and getting horrificker and insaner --- prison and incarceration policy.
Aside from being really really funny at times, the lengthy segment was one of the smartest, most complete, most accessible treatises I've seen on TV --- or anywhere really --- in a very long time, if ever.
It concludes with a laugh-out-loud Sesame Street-style song on the broken state of America's prison policy, after covering obscenities along the way such as the explosive growth in our prison population; the failed "War on Drugs"; racial disparities in sentencing; our grotesque cultural fetish with "hysterical" prison rape humor; some fairly jaw-dropping Congressional testimony (courtesy of Sen. Al Franken); to the privatization and profiteering of the national Prison Industrial Complex which has culminated, as a judge described in 2012, in "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts".
This smart piece is well worth watching in full for too many reasons to list here...
[Note: For a somewhat less amusing, if no less important take on one related issue not mentioned by Oliver during his otherwise surprisingly complete overview, see the second part of Ernie Canning's three-part 2012 BRAD BLOG essay on the so-called "War on Drugs", which discusses how legalization might well disrupt the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex and its increasingly relied-upon pool of slave --- yes, slave --- laborers.]
CORRECTION: Our original article had the name of HBO's show wrong, as well as the quote from a federal judge about the privatized prison system in Mississippi. Both have been corrected above, thanks to commenter "Niemand" pointing out the errors below.
Citing a related-ish piece of mine last week over at Salon, Paul H. Rosenberg attempted to slay yet another Zombie Myth that just won't die over the weekend: The myth that JFK "stole" the 1960 election from Richard Nixon, and that Nixon was just too much of a gracious statesman to challenge the results.
It is, of course, all bullshit, as Rosenberg is forced to detail once again. Nonetheless, the enduring myth remains part and parcel --- and, often, False Exhibit #1 --- of the very same scam that Republicans still use to this very day in attempting to deligitimize their Democratic opponents through phony claims of "voter fraud".