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The Fox 'News'-ification of CBS News and '60 Minutes': 'The Cleantech Crash'

Brad Blog - Mon, 01/06/2014 - 21:11

The President of CBS News is David Rhodes. He was hired in February 2011. He was formerly the Vice President of News at Fox "News".

Again, the current President of CBS News was formerly the VP of News at Fox "News".

According to his bio posted at CBS: "Rhodes began his career as a Production Assistant at the newly-launched Fox News Channel in 1996, where he later became Vice President of News. At the network he managed coverage of three presidential elections, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hurricanes including Katrina, and was the channel's Assignment Manager on the news desk the morning of September 11, 2001."

That means, as The Nation's Greg Mitchell pointed out at the height of the recent CBS News/60 Minutes Benghazi report controversy (before CBS was finally forced to retract the entire fake story), that Rhodes "was the guy who worked hand-in-glove on the biased, often propagandistic, Fox 'coverage' of the run-up to the Iraq war, the 2000/2004/2008 elections, the Plame affair, the worst years in Iraq, and all other things Bush and Cheney, and so on."

Again, the guy who cut his teeth in the news business, beginning as a Production Assistant and working his way up to become VP at Fox "News", is now the President of CBS News.

That bears both highlighting and repeating as many have been asking, once again, over the past 24 hours, "What's the Matter with 60 Minutes?" after yet another report last night that is being described as a "hit job" by some and, more charitably, as "puzzling" by others --- including by some who were interviewed both on-air and off for the once-great news magazine's bizarre segment titled "The Cleantech Crash"...

Fail and Unbalanced

The complete segment, with correspondent Lesley Stahl, is posted at the bottom of this article, so feel free to judge for yourself. But coming on the heels of 60 Minutes' Benghazi hoax debacle last November, a soft-ball, one-sided puff piece on the NSA in December, and a number of other similar missteps, Sunday's piece on the failures --- and largely, only the failures --- of the so-called "cleantech revolution" suggests that while it hasn't yet become Fox "News" proper, the once-venerable news magazine no longer seems to be serving the public interest, but rather...some other interest.

The general premise of this week's segment was that investment --- both public and private --- in the cleantech sector since Obama has taken office has been nothing but a disaster. While there have certainly been failures in the sector, it was not noted during the segment, as several critics of Sunday's piece have pointed out since, that the U.S. Dept. of Energy's loan program to green startups has a 97% success rate.

"In July 2012, the former head of the loan guarantee program testified to Congress that funds that went to bankrupt companies represented less than 3 percent of the total Department of Energy portfolio," Media Matters' Shauna Theel notes. "In other words, the program so far has a 97-percent success rate, far better than that of venture capitalists."

"Clean technology is booming by every key indicator," Climate Progress' Joe Romm said in opening his piece lambasting the 60 Minutes report just after it aired, "but you would never know that from Sunday's absurd 60 Minutes piece touting an imaginary 'Cleantech Crash.'"

He also notes the 97% success rate cited for the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, "while the companies CBS focuses on such as Solyndra and Abound Solar were just 3 percent of the portfolio."

"The piece was puzzling for several reasons," Dana Hull, clean tech and energy policy reporter for the San Jose Mercury News' writes, citing the fact that [emphasis hers] "there was absolutely no mention of climate change. None. That's the whole point of cleantech, after all: using the promise of technology and innovation to try to wean our economy off of fossil fuels."

She continued: "I'm not sure what the 'Cleantech Crash' refers to, exactly: In the past four years, the United States has more than doubled electricity generation from wind and solar, even as we've experienced a boom in domestic oil and natural gas production. Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are falling. Companies like SolarCity have become the darlings of Wall Street. Venture investment in the sector is down, but strategic partners are swooping in."

Hull also notes that while nuclear projects received [PDF] "massive DOE loans too", the 60 Minutes report said absolutely nothing about them.

And, oddly enough, the report focused centrally on Silicon Valley venture capital Vinod Khosla, and his struggling startup named KiOR, which produces biofuel from wood chips. KiOR, however, "wasn't the recipient of a big DOE loan," reports Hull.

"Let's set aside the question of why 60 Minutes chose to do a hit-job on cleantech, which clearly was unwarranted, after producing widely criticized puff pieces on the NSA and Amazon's wildly impractical delivery drones," Romm wrote in his first piece on this last night. "The key point is that the goal of DOE's investments is not to make money. The goal is to accelerate the drop in price - and increase in deployment - of clean energy in the market, which it clearly has done in industry after industry. A secondary goal was to create jobs in this country, which it also succeeded in doing."

None of that was cited by 60 Minutes.

Romm illustrates his point by posting several graphics from a recent Dept. of Energy report titled "Revolution Now: The Future Arrives for Four Clean Energy Technologies" [PDF]. Here are a couple of them...

He offered similar charts for the deployment and costs of LED lights and for electric vehicles and batteries. The point is, none of this was discussed in the 60 Minutes report, which drew a picture of the clean energy sector as little more than a disastrous boondoggle.


"The federal government has allocated a total of $150 billion to cleantech through loans, grants and tax breaks with little to show for it," Stahl says during the report. "The taxpayers have lost a lot of money in the general clean tech area."

Katie Fehrenbacher, a Silicon Valley tech biz writer at GigaOM, served as a background consultant on the 60 Minutes piece. She wrote last night about what CBS got both right and wrong in their piece, charging "most importantly they're overlapping the [Silicon] Valley story with the government funding story."

"There was a very real bubble and bust that happened, though there are still firms around that have evolved and are sticking with it," she writes. "The VCs [venture capitalists] did lean on government connections and support at times, and they made a lot of mistakes. ... Unfortunately, playing up the taxpayer-funded government green-flop angle in the piece was both stale and overblown"...

Beyond the stimulus, solar panels and wind power have reached record levels in the U.S. in the last year and that's also thanks to U.S. government support. Even within the loan program, there were more wins than the 60 Minutes piece let on, like the Ivanpah solar farm that created a lot of jobs outside of Las Vegas. The U.S. government needs to give more support to next-generation energy technologies, not less.

Part of the problem with the 60 Minutes piece is that it's combining the story of U.S. support for clean power and energy efficiency, with the Silicon Valley story. They're totally separate and different. The subhead of the piece is a prime example of the confusing aligning of those two things:

"Despite billions invested by the U.S. government in so-called "Cleantech" energy, Washington and Silicon Valley have little to show for it."

Um, does that include the huge gains in wind farms and solar panel projects in the U.S., or does that just mean that Solyndra didn't work out?

Deceptive Editing

"The whole segment is baffling," Climate Progress' Romm writes. "CBS asserts that the key cleantech investor they interview, Vinod Khosla, is 'known as the father of the cleantech revolution.' He ain't, and in fact he's about the last person you'd want to talk to on the subject (see my 2010 post, 'Is anyone more incoherent than Vinod Khosla?')."

More disturbing than all of that, however, is what another one of the experts interviewed by 60 Minutes for the segment revealed in comments in response to Romm's piece last night, and then in a more complete conversation today with Romm and his colleague Emily Atkin.

Last night, Robert Rapier, the Chief Technology Officer at startup Merica International, posted a disturbing comment in reply to Romm's piece. Rapier, a chemical engineer who has worked in the petroleum industry and on alternative fuels, is a critic of cleantech investor Khosla. He was interviewed by the show and featured briefly in their report. In his comment responding to Romm's piece, he says that he "pointed out to [Lesley Stahl] that cleantech is alive and well, and that there were a number of successes. I also told her that solar would eventually dominate every other energy source. None of that survived the edits. I think they really wanted my Khosla criticism on camera, and the rest of my views really didn't support the narrative of the overall story."

He went into more disturbing details today in his interview with Romm and Atkin.

"The first question Leslie [sic] Stahl asked me - 'Clean Tech is dead. What killed it?' I immediately said, 'Clean tech is not dead.' There are many parts of clean tech that are doing very well - solar power is growing by leaps and bounds, prices are plummeting, wind power is growing exponentially."

"So she said, 'Clean tech, the story's more complex. There are parts that are doing well, and parts that aren't doing very well.' And I said yes, and she said, 'Let's talk about the parts that aren't doing so well.'"

He went on to detail some of the other things he told Stahl in the interview, citing, for example, "the explosive growth" in solar power. "The future is solar," he says he told her. "Solar will trump every other energy source."

"I cited wind, solar power. I told her that there are a lot of successes that you can find. None of that made it through the edits," he tells Climate Progress.

It's as if CBS News had their mind made up about the story they wanted to tell, and they were simply trying to find people to say what they needed to be said on camera, and would either ignore those who didn't, or edit out the inconvenient quotes.

'Benghazi!' Redux

After the disastrous-now-retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi, about a man who appears to have completely made up his story about being at the diplomatic compound on the night the 2012 attacks there, blogger Heather Parton, aka "Digby", posted video of Logan at a speaking engagement shortly after the attacks, revealing her hawkish sentiments and calling for the U.S. to "exact revenge".

During the same speech, Logan added the following (which turned out to be extraordinarily ironic, given what would happen in her Benghazi piece, and now, what Rapier has revealed about 60 Minutes' cleantech piece):

There is a distinction between investigating something to find out what the real situation is and trying to prove something that you believe is true. And those are two very different things. The second one is the enemy of great journalism. And it's a trap that is very easy to fall into. In fact it was my boss [CBS News Chairman and 60 Minutes Executive Producer] Jeff Fager who kindly reminded me of that fact at a certain point in the process and he was absolutely right about that.

Fager hired former Fox "News" VP David Rhodes in 2011. They seem to be disastrously failing ever since. Whether Rhodes' influence, or Fager's (who spent nearly a week standing behind the phony Benghazi story) influenced 60 Minutes' horribly unbalanced and misleading cleantech piece is currently unknown. But when the question "What's The Matter With 60 Minutes?" is asked, given the particular Rightwing-ness of their recent monumental failures, the former VP of Fox "News", now President of CBS News must be eyed.

After all, while Sunday's cleantech piece was raked over the coals by those who actually follow, report on and work in the clean energy field for a living, there were some who don't who celebrated the segment.

Writing at the far Rightwing loon blog PowerLine, Steven Hayward declared triumphantly today: "'60 Minutes,' not exactly a fan of Power Line's way of thought (heh), did a belated public service last night with a segment on 'The Cleantech Crash,' noting that taxpayers had shelled out billions for stupid 'green' energy boondoggles. ... Of course, we were warning about this all along, but still it is useful when the MSM catches up with common sense."

And David Rhodes' former Fox "News" fans no doubt erupted in applause and a hearty, self-congratulatory round of happy confirmation bias. Fox "News" accomplished...at CBS News.

* * *

UPDATE 1/8/2014: CBS offers this statement to Re/code in response to the broad-based criticism of their terrible segment on cleantech:

'60 Minutes' has a rich history of reporting about climate change. Last night's story focused on the effectiveness of some of the biggest energy tech efforts to combat it.

That response might have had held any water, had the segment ever bothered to even mentioned climate change, much less combating it. They didn't. Not even once. It focused only on a few companies which ran into financial hardships and failures in the green energy sector. The unprecedented successes of the renewable energy industry --- worldwide and, yes, here in the U.S. --- over the past several years are not particularly debatable. 60 Minutes focused on none of those successes, offering only a very unbalanced, Fox "News"-like, cherry-picked segment on the failures only.

* * *

CBS News 60 Minutes' 1/5/2014 "Cleantech Crash" report, produced by Shachar Bar-on with correspondent Lesley Stahl, follows below. The text transcript is posted here...

Categories: Brad Blog

Another Cold Blast of 'Global Warming is a Hoax!' Nonsense to Grip Parts of the Gullible U.S.

Brad Blog - Sun, 01/05/2014 - 21:23

That's pretty much how it starts every winter now. The sentiment in the toon above is of a piece with Fox News tool Stuart Varney who offered this bit of genius to Fox' easily duped viewers last week...

The laughably absurd notion that a boat getting stuck in the ice in Antarctica is somehow a sign of "global cooling", as Varney actually argues, out loud, on television, is part of the now-annual "it's cold in winter, so there is no global warming!" nonsense that I suspect we'll be seeing much more of this week, thanks to the fact that it's cold in a large swath of the U.S. suddenly. More on that extreme cold in parts of the U.S., and why it's here --- and not in the Arctic, where it belongs --- in a moment.

But to help the scientifically-challenged (and, apparently, too many of my trollish Twitter followers) understand how ice in the Antarctic --- where there is ice --- is, in and of itself, a sign of nothing, Varney's televised idiocy notwithstanding, here's how one climate activist explained it in a Letter to the Editor at the Concord Monitor, in response to another LTE written by some dupe named Tom Sellew, who used the Monitor to forward the same, fact-free nonsense as Varney...

The letter titled "About that warming" (Monitor, Jan. 1) pokes fun at climate researchers being stuck in ice in Antarctica. As NASA can confirm, there is less sea ice globally than 30 years ago; the small increase in overall ice in Antarctica does not compare to the vast losses in the Arctic.

Researchers at NASA, UCLA, and the University of Colorado have uncovered an increase in the westerly winds surrounding Antarctica, which has the effect of expanding the outer edge of sea ice. Scientific studies have also determined why the winds have accelerated.

First, global warming has changed temperature differences between the poles and equator, creating stronger winds. Second, ozone absorbs sunlight, and with the human-induced hole in the ozone layer, there's a colder stratosphere over the southern pole, affecting wind patterns, according to University of New Zealand experts.

As the atmosphere contains 4 percent more water vapor than 30 years ago, increased precipitation is another factor. Science is amazing when we seek to understand it.



Why the Concord Monitor would run the initial letter in the first place, as absurdly fact-free as it is --- the writer Sellew jokes about "polar bears...clawing their way up the hull of the ship" (pssst...there are no polar bears in Antarctica) --- is a good question, and one that the Monitor should be asking itself, even as it should be recoiling with shame for having done so. While many of my stoogeish Twitter followers don't appear to know the difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic, the Monitor certainly should, and they should be striving to educate and inform their readers, not confuse them with verifiable nonsense like that found in Sellew's initial letter.

As to the extraordinary cold beginning to blast a large portion of the Midwest this week in the U.S. (accompanied by unusual warmth in places like Alaska and down here in Southern California at the same time), that is another troubling example of the same record-breaking and extreme weather patterns which climate scientists have long predicted would be the result of global climate change. In this case, the cause is a polar vortex blast --- bringing the Arctic air, which usually stays up in the Arctic, down to parts of the Midwest --- as the jet stream dips, actually moves, much farther south than usual.

A polar vortex is like a hurricane of cold air which (usually) swirls only above the Artic. Here's a short and sweet explainer from Business Insider on Sunday on what a polar vortex is and how the unusual displacement of this one could very well be a result of global (or, in this case, Arctic) warming...

Polar vortexes, though, are nothing new. They occur seasonally at the North Pole, and their formation resembles that of hurricanes in more tropical regions: fast-moving winds build up around a calm center. Unlike a hurricane, these are frigid polar winds, circling the Arctic at more than 100 miles per hour.

The spinning winds typically trap this cold air in the Arctic. But the problem comes when the polar vortex weakens or splits apart, essentially flinging these cold wind patterns out of the Arctic and into our backyards. NOAA scientists have suggested that warming temperatures in the Arctic may be responsible for the weakening of the polar vortex. When the vortex weakens, it's more likely to break apart and become a factor in our winter weather.

A 2009 vortex breakdown drove temperatures in parts of the Midwest down to -22F. Here's a NASA illustration of the polar vortex (left) and it splitting in two (right):

It won't just feel like Arctic temperatures in parts of the country this week - the weather system is actually Arctic air invading from the north.

The two graphics above, courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory, show the polar vortex as it broke down and split apart from January to February 2009. Below is a graphic of the polar vortex breaking down and moving south as we're seeing it (and feeling it!) this weekend...

ScienceBlog's Greg Laden (via Peter Sinclair's Crock of the Week) explains the above graphic this way:

In this picture, notice that it is not the case that super cold arctic air has expanded to engulf us in the middle of the US. ... But what this image of temperatures over a large part of the northern hemisphere shows is what is really happening. The cold air in the "Arctic Vortex" which is normally centered on the north pole is offset, displaced, lopsided, etc. It is not the case that "coldness" expands to include more territory ... how would that work in a world that obeys physics? But rather, the cold region on the pole shifts and deforms. So if you go north from the Twin Cities, for example, it gets colder and colder. But then, it gets warmer!

So, those are the facts. Nonetheless, brace yourself this week both for the cold and for a fresh blast of Climate Change Denialism from the folks who have a corporate/fossil-fueled interest in making sure that you don't have such facts, or from those who are either dumb enough or incurious enough to buy into the denialist bullshit and pass it along.

For the record, for those who may not have noticed, as Peter Moskowitz at Aljazeera America helpfully summarized today: "The past year only made it into the top ten of the hottest years on record, but November broke all records for that month, and 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the U.S."

Other than that, Mr. Varney, yeah, it's "global cooling". Nice to see that you believe your viewers are too stupid to learn any better. Sadly, they probably are.

Categories: Brad Blog

Glenn Greenwald vs. WaPo 'Obama Loyalist' Ruth Marcus on the 'Crimes' of NSA Contractor Edward Snowden and DNI James Clapper [VIDEO]

Brad Blog - Fri, 01/03/2014 - 15:03

Still on the road (back full time as of next week), but thought this video from yesterday's The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN was well worth popping here quickly, if you've yet to see it.

It's a fantastic and very lively debate about Edward Snowden and, perhaps most-interestingly, Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, between journalist Glenn Greenwald and Washington Post op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus. Greenwald describes Marcus here --- much to her apparent consternation --- as an Obama Administration "loyalist" for, among other things, what he sees as a double-standard for her calls for the prosecution of whistleblower Snowden, versus the seeming free pass she's willing to give to Administration officials such as Clapper who has admitted to misleading Congress with false testimony (aka Lying to Them). That would be a felony crime...if anybody bothered to prosecute it.

Greenwald is tenacious (as usual) in forcing Marcus to answer his question about whether Clapper should be prosecuted. For her part, she does a decent job of acquitting herself, sort of, even as the entire conversation --- and the two staked-out positions here --- really do help to illustrate, as Greenwald describes it, how "the D.C. media" and "people in Washington continuously make excuses for those in power when they break the law."

"That's what people in Washington do," he charges. "They would never call on someone like James Clapper, who got caught lying to Congress, which is a felony, to be prosecuted. They only pick on people who embarrass the government and the administration to which they are loyal, like Edward Snowden. It's not about the rule of law."

"People in Washington who are well-connected to the government like she is, do not believe that the law applies to them. They only believe that the law should be used to punish people and imprison people who don't have power in Washington or who expose the wrongdoing of American political officials," Greenwald argues. I'll let you watch to see how Marcus responds.

This one is very much worth watching in full. If you prefer, the complete text transcript is posted here...

Categories: Brad Blog

Colorado Senate President John Morse, state Sen. Angela Giron ousted

NRA Watch - Wed, 09/11/2013 - 09:15


An epic national debate over gun rights in Colorado on Tuesday saw two Democratic state senators ousted for their support for stricter laws, a “ready, aim, fired” message intended to stop other politicians for pushing for firearms restrictions. Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron will be replaced in office with Republican candidates who petitioned onto the recall ballot.

Party insiders always said Giron’s race was the harder one. Although her district is heavily Democratic, Pueblo is a blue-collar union town. Morse’s district included Manitou Springs and a portion of Colorado Springs — and more liberals.

“It has been an honor to represent the 11th Senate District,” Morse said in his concession

RECALL RESULTS 2013 Ballot Issue State Senate 3 – Recall Giron

100% reporting

Yes 56.0%

(19,355) No 43.9%



Ballot Issue State Senate 11 – Recall Morse

100% reporting

Yes 50.9%

(9,094) No 49.0%



speech. “It’s been hugely rewarding.”


Giron conceded about 10:45 p.m., telling supporters “this will make us stronger.”

She said she had no regrets about the votes she had taken that led to her recall. “I’m a fighter,” she said. “We will win in the end, because we are on the right side.”

The turn of events made Morse and Giron the first Colorado state lawmakers to be recalled. Former Colorado Springs councilman Bernie Herpin will take Morse’s seat in the Senate, while Pueblo will be represented by former Deputy Police Chief George Rivera.

It’s unclear when the city of Pueblo was last represented in the Senate by a Republican.

“Coloradans … sent a clear message that politicians who blatantly ignore their constituents will be held accountable,” said Dustin Zvonek, state director of Americans for Prosperity. “Perhaps this will serve as a lesson that one-party rule in Denver doesn’t give the majority license to take things to extremes or run roughshod over the values and rights of Coloradans who just happen, for the moment, to be in the minority.”

“Tonight is a victory for the people of the state of Colorado, who have been subject to the overreach of a Democrat agenda on guns, taxes and

Colorado State Senate President John Morse gives his concession speech after being defeated in the recall election against him at his election night party at the Wyndham Hotel in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

accountability to the people,” said Tim Knight, Founder of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund and the “father” of the recalls. “Since day one, they said it couldn’t be done. Tonight, this is a victory for the people of Colorado, and we share this victory with them.”


Democrats control the Senate, the House and the governor’s office. Even with Morse and Giron leaving, Democrats retain a one-seat majority in the Senate.

The National Rifle Association, which donated about $360,000 to support the recalls, hailed Morse’s loss, telling The Denver Post it “is proud to have stood with the men and women in Colorado who sent a clear message that their Second Amendment rights are not for sale.”

But it wasn’t just the NRA that warned Democrats about messing with gun rights.

Sen. Lois Tochtrop, an Adams County Democrat and longtime Second Amendment activist, opposed five of the seven gun bills initially introduced in the session, including a lightning-rod proposal by Morse.

That proposal would have assigned liability for assault-style weapon damages to manufacturers and sellers, but Morse killed it at the 11th-hour because he didn’t have the votes to pass it through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I feel like all these gun bills have done — to quote the last words in the movie ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ — is to awaken a sleeping giant,” Tochtrop said during the debate.

Awaken they did.

Upset by the bills themselves and the Senate Democrats’ decision to hold seven hearings in one day — resulting in hundreds of witnesses being unable to testify — voters in Morse’s and Giron’s districts successfully forced the first-ever recall elections of state lawmakers in Colorado history.

Spurred by two national tragedies — a shooting in an Aurora movie theater in July 2012 and a Connecticut elementary school in December — legislatures across the country this year passed new gun laws.

Some states, including Colorado and Connecticut, passed stricter laws, while others loosened


restrictions, believing more law-abiding citizens carrying guns would mean fewer shootings.


They ran the gamut, from New York’s limit of seven rounds per magazine to Arkansas’ Church Protection Act, giving places of worship the authority to allow guns on their premises, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In the end, Colorado was able to do what Congress could not, but it came with a price for Democrats.

Gov. John Hickenlooper — once deemed so unbeatable that the GOP couldn’t even find a candidate to run against him in 2014 — now faces falling approval ratings and a crowded field of Republican contenders, in part for backing stricter gun measures.

But not every Republican supported the recalls.

“I think this is the wrong way to settle differences,” said Dorothy Carr, 79, as she waited in line to vote in Morse’s district.

Also voting against Morse’s recall was Coloradan Sachin Mathur, a Democrat attending Colorado College.

“I’ve grown up in the age of Columbine and the Aurora theater shooting, and John Morse has stood up to the (NRA),” Mathur said. “He did what was right.”

The road to the recalls took a number of turns.

The efforts to recall two other Democrats, Rep. Mike McLachlin of Durango and Sen. Evie Hudak of Westminster, failed when their constituents failed to get enough signatures to force an election.

Even the head of Colorado’s most strident gun-rights group, Dudley Brown with the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, initially balked at the idea of a recall, suggesting the money would be better spent in 2014 in swing legislative seats.

And the recalls against Morse and Giron were marked by legal challenges, including unsuccessful attempts by Democrats to invalidate the signatures of voters who supported the recalls. One court battle ultimately resulted in turning what was supposed to be an all-mail ballot into a polling-place election, which forced campaign strategists to change their ground game.

Recall opponents argued that the elections — which the two counties have to pay for — were a waste of money because Morse is term-limited next year and Giron is up for re-election. They also said recalls should not be used to solve policy differences.

But recall supporters contend Morse and Giron ignored their constituents and the constitution by advancing the gun laws. They accused the governor and the legislature of taking marching orders from the White House and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who contributed $350,000 to fight the recalls. Vice President Joe Biden even called Democrats on the House floor on the day that chamber was debating the gun package.

Mark Glaze, executive director of the group Bloomberg formed, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said Tuesday that the NRA no longer has the field to itself in the ballot over gun laws.

“Win, lose or draw, this will send a message to legislators who take risks to protect their community. We will have their back, and eventually, the tide will turn,” Glaze said.

In order to force a recall, supporters had to collect a percentage of valid voter signatures based on the turnout in the previous election in that district.

Because the turnout in Morse’s election in 2010 was so low — a race where he probably would have lost had there not been a Libertarian candidate — no one was surprised when that recall effort succeeded.

It was a different story in Pueblo, a heavily Democratic district, where three plumbers armed with laptops linked to a state database not only collected enough valid signatures but had a low number thrown out.

“Giron’s disregard for the majority of her constituents to vote ‘no’ on anti-Second Amendment issues and her general disregard of our Constitution and the rights of the citizens of Colorado demonstrate she must be removed from the Senate,” plumber Victor Head, president of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, said in a statement at the time.

Staff writers Ryan Parker and Austin Briggs contributed to this report.



Gov. Hickenlooper statement about recall election results

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper released this statement Tuesday night about the recall elections in Pueblo and El Paso counties:

“Our democracy gives the people the right to vote for their elected representatives. Tonight, voters in two Senate districts have spoken. We are certainly disappointed by the outcome of the recall elections.

“It’s now time we refocus again on what unites Coloradans — creating jobs, educating our children, creating a healthier state — and on finding ways to keep Colorado moving forward.”

Categories: NRA Watch

Mom Warns Against Improper Gun Storage After Son Shoots Pal

NRA Watch - Tue, 06/04/2013 - 13:26

A 16-year-old boy in Arkansas is in stable condition after being accidentally shot Monday afternoon by his 15-year-old friend, 5News reported.

The shooting took place at 1:43 p.m. in Fort Smith, Ark., after Nico Sanders, his twin brother Marco and their friend, Trevor Hargrove, had been playing a “zombie game,” according to 5News. Hargrove pointed an empty bow at one of the brothers when Nico Sanders grabbed a .40 caliber handgun from his mother’s drawer and began to play with it. He soon pointed the gun at Hargrove and fired the weapon, striking the boy in the upper torso.

Hargrove’s mother emphasized that it was an accident, but stressed the importance of storing guns safely.

“They’re good friends, it was just an accident and I just want all parents to know to keep guns locked up and teach your kids gun safety. Just because the clip ain’t in the gun doesn’t mean there’s not a bullet in the chamber and somebody can get hurt really bad,” Kim Hargrove said, according to 5News.

Categories: NRA Watch

This Clown Wasn’t Supposed to HAVE a Gun!

NRA Watch - Tue, 06/04/2013 - 13:23

From Talking Points Memo

A Lake County, Florida couple have been arrested on charges of child neglect after a 4-year-old shot off a piece of his finger with a gun that was left on their couch, WKMG Local 6 reports.

Donald Greeson, 40, told police he had smoked marijuana and took prescription pills the day before the shooting incident. Police also found drugs and prescription pills within reach of the child. In addition to child neglect, Donald Greeson was also charged with “unsafe storage of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine,” according to WKMG Local 6.

The child’s finger was removed in a local hospital.

Categories: NRA Watch


NRA Watch - Fri, 05/31/2013 - 16:28

Maybe it’s just me. But it seems like hardly a day goes by without reading another story about some child in Texas being shot by another child or by himself with some unattended gun that some idiot left where the kid could get it.

Maybe it’s just me. But if I own guns and have little kids around, and I see these stories about kids being shot and injured by guns they were able to get their little grape jelly-stained hands on, I’d do a double check to make sure that any little kids in MY house were not able to put their grubby little mitts on MY guns.

But Texas. Almost every day. Another tragedy.

A two-year-old girl was admitted to a children’s hospital on Friday after being shot inside a home in Killeen, Texas, KWTX.com reports.

The child was conscious when she was taken from the scene, police told reporters. There was also a three-year-old inside the house when the shooting happened.

Police said they recovered a hand gun from the residence, but gave no further details.

The Second Amendment’s worst enemy is NOT the people who want to ban guns outright. It’s the people who leave their guns laying around like toys for the babies to play with.

Categories: NRA Watch

NRA Raising $$$ on False Claims? Surprised?

NRA Watch - Fri, 05/31/2013 - 16:05

From Think Progress.

The National Rifle Association is stoking the misguided fears of its members that the United Nations is coming to steal their guns through an international arms treaty in an attempt to raise funds needed to help block the treaty in the Senate.

In an email sent out on Wednesday to its supporters, the NRA ominously warned about the coming collusion between the United Nations and President Obama in the name of “trampling our Second Amendment freedoms.” The vehicle for this complete destruction of the Constitution? The recently passed United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which opens for signature on June 3. Despite the fact that only North Korea, Syria, and Iran voted against the treaty, the right-wing in the United States has long opposed what it sees as a chance for the government to legally steal Americans’ handguns.

The NRA email went to great lengths to solidify this fear in the minds of its supporters, repeatedly referring to the ATT as the “global gun ban treaty,” or variations thereof. “We need to send a clear message to every Senator that they have only two choices: Side with us and stop the U.N. gun ban treaty … or start looking for a new job at election time,” the message tells its readers. Despite the dark tidings, the ATT actually doesn’t affect the Second Amendment, something that even Texas’ extremely conservative attorney general begrudgingly admitted.

Instead, the treaty seeks to limit the sale of arms — including attack helicopters, tanks, and other larger arms, as well as small arms and ammunition for these weapons — to regimes that use them to violate human rights. To achieve this, the treaty requires states set up a system for tracking exports of arms to other countries and reporting those statistics to the United Nations annually. The U.S. government already tracks the sale of weapons overseas, meaning very little will change in practice for American citizens.

Undaunted by facts and unable to kill the treaty before it passed at the United Nations, despite its best efforts, the NRA now is attempting to shut down its passage in the Senate. As with all treaties, a two-thirds majority is required to ratify the ATT. “Your signed petition is the best tool we have against this attack on our gun rights and our national sovereignty,” the message declares, urging people to sign on to help “line the halls of the Senate with boxes and boxes of these petitions.”

The NRA is asking for “emergency contributions” from petition-signers. “This year, we’ve been forced to spend more than we’ve ever spent … because the attacks we’re facing have been bigger than anything we’ve ever faced before,” the email pleads, seeming to use the time-tested tactic of exploiting fear to raise money.

Unfortunately, the NRA’s messaging already seems to have permeated Washington, with prominent conservatives such as John Yoo and John Bolton penning op-eds unfairly condemning the treaty’s provisions. Senate Republicans are already lining up to condemn the treaty based on the same false pretenses as the NRA. Some members of the GOP are even warning that the treaty will lead to a Rwanda-like genocide. In spite of this opposition, the Obama administration has already made clear that it does intend to sign the treaty once it opens for signature.

Categories: NRA Watch

Texas Sacrifices Another Child to Guns

NRA Watch - Fri, 05/31/2013 - 06:13

A 2-year-old boy in Texas was pronounced dead Wednesday after he shot himself in a home that Child Protective Services had deemed unfit for children just last year, KLTV reported.

Trenton Mathis shot himself in the face with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun Wednesday afternoon in his great-grandparents’ home in Cherokee County, Texas. Police said both great-grandparents were at the home when the shooting took place.

Mathis and his three siblings were removed from their parents’ home in Harris County, Texas last year by CPS due to “abuse and neglect,” according to the report. Three of those children, including the now-deceased toddler, were placed in their great-grandparents’ home, despite the fact that CPS denied a home study. Such a denial signaled that CPS did not believe the home was safe for children, according to KLTV. The other child was placed in a foster home.

Categories: NRA Watch

The End of the NRA at Hand?

NRA Watch - Tue, 05/28/2013 - 12:53

This article in the New Republic raises a question of whether the NRA inadvertently awakened a sleeping anti-gun giant.


Categories: NRA Watch

Texas Approves Guns on Campus

NRA Watch - Mon, 05/27/2013 - 17:19

On the very same day an active duty Marine from North Carolina was killed in a shootout with Eden, Texas, cops after a random shooting spree in which two were killed and five were wounded, the Texas Legislature decided it would be just a wonderful idea to allow guns on college campuses.

Talking Points Memo tells the tale.

The Texas Legislature approved a final version of a bill Sunday that would allow students with gun licenses to keep their firearms in cars on college campuses. Following this approval, the bill will be headed to Governor Rick Perry to be signed into law.

Colleges are currently allowed to prohibit guns on their property. Backers of the bill argue faculty and staff members already are permitted to bring their guns to campus in cars.

The House and Senate had already approved separate versions of the bill, which was proposed by Republican State Senator Glenn Hegar. On Sunday both chambers gave final approval to a joint version of the bill.

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Categories: NRA Watch

Random Shooter Kills Two, Injures Five in Texas

NRA Watch - Mon, 05/27/2013 - 16:49

From the Associated Press

EDEN, Texas –  Two people are dead and five injured, including a sheriff, after a gunman in Central Texas opened fire on several vehicles, apparently at random, authorities said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the gunman is among the dead. His identity was not released Monday, but authorities said he was a 23-year-old North Carolina resident.

DPS said the shootings began about 4:30 a.m. Sunday when the gunman shot a motorist in the Eden area in Concho County, about 40 miles southeast of San Angelo. Over the next 90 minutes, he’s suspected of shooting two people who were sitting in a car at a convenience store in McCulloch County and then another motorist back in adjacent Concho County.

Shortly after 6 a.m., a 41-year-old woman, Alicia Torres, was found dead in her car in Eola, just east of San Angelo.

The suspect fired on the vehicle of Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane when the sheriff came upon him north of Eden, according to DPS. Doane was wounded in the gunfire and hospitalized.

A state trooper and game warden came upon the scene and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who was killed.

An assault rifle, handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered, DPS said.

Concho County authorities deferred comment Monday to the DPS office in Austin. Phone messages left there were not immediately returned.
(Editor’s Note: And how was YOUR Memorial Day?)

Categories: NRA Watch

Good Guy with Gun Accidentally Kills Student

NRA Watch - Thu, 05/23/2013 - 14:42

From Think Progress

Late last week, 21 year old Hofstra University student Andrea Rebello was shot and killed during an attempted robbery in a group house near the Uniondale, New York campus.

But the initial assumption — that Rebello was murdered by the suspected robber Dalton Smith during a shoot-out with police — now appears to be wrong. Nassau County police officials confirmed over the weekend that the victim was accidentally shot and killed by a responding police officer at the scene:

The Nassau County officer, a 12-year veteran whose identity was withheld, fired eight rounds. Seven struck Smith and one hit Andrea Rebello, 21, in the head. Rebello, of Tarrytown, shared the off-campus rental home with three other Hofstra students, including her identical twin sister, Jessica.

Rebello’s tragic death underscores the absurdity and danger of the NRA’s push for more vigilantism on city streets and inside classrooms — “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” in NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s words. Police officers in Nassau County are subjected to a battery of weapons trainings when they join the force, and yet even a 12-year veteran can make a mistake that ends with the loss of an innocent life.

And these kinds of incidents are far from anomalies either. Last summer, police officers in New York City opened fire on a gunman outside of the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan, accidentally shooting nine bystanders caught in the crossfire.

Categories: NRA Watch

10 State Legislatures Stand Up to NRA Since Newtown

NRA Watch - Thu, 05/23/2013 - 14:40

From Think Progress

As Congress fails to make progress on reforming the nation’s gun laws, state legislatures have filled the void. A number of states around the country, and not just deep-blue ones, have taken steps to crack down on gun violence. Even some very conservative states have defeated National Rifle Association (NRA) supported bills that would have significantly weakened state gun laws.

Here’s a run-down of ten instances of state progress that were in some cases mere proposals as recently as this January:

1. Colorado. A purple state with a strong gun culture, Colorado nevertheless enacted universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

2. California. Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation at the beginning of May that would provide $24 million for confiscating illegally owned weapons that the police have identified, but hasn’t had the resources to seize. California is also considering thirty-odd measures strengthening the state’s gun violence prevention measures.

3. Georgia. The Georgia legislature killed a bill at the end of the last legislative session that would have allowed concealed carry in churches, courthouse, and college campuses.

4. Maryland. Maryland enacted one of the most sweeping new gun laws in the country, including an assault weapons ban, restrictions on magazine size, and a requirement that all gun purchasers get a license and submit a fingerprint sample.

5. Rhode Island. The Ocean State’s legislature is considering an omnibus gun bill, supported by its governor, Lincoln Chafee (I), that would set up a police registry of guns to better track crime guns as well as make it harder to get a concealed carry permit.

6. Delaware. In early May, Governor Jack Markell (D) signed a universal background check bill into law.

7. Wyoming. The Wyoming legislature, which can be quite hostile to gun regulation, voted down a bill authorizing teachers to carry guns.

8. New York. New York strengthened its already strong gun laws, including stricter assault weapon and high capacity magazine bans.

9. Connecticut. Connecticut also passed a comprehensive package that included universal background checks for bullets as well as guns, as well as an assault weapons ban and magazine restrictions.

10. Nevada. Just this Wednesday, the Nevada Senate passed a universal background checks bill that would require a check on all private sales.

While several states have also loosened their gun laws after Newtown — and a few advanced laws so extreme that they are almost certainly unconstitutional – the above examples prove that the NRA’s stranglehold over the gun conversation isn’t nearly as tight as some believe, and that concerted effort at the state level can have significant effects on the gun policy landscape.

Categories: NRA Watch
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