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Updated: 49 min 41 sec ago

Maybe Those Kids Could Help at Fox 'News'

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 20:11

Too easy. pic.twitter.com/bjxUSTKduA

— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 10, 2014


Categories: Brad Blog

More Evidence America Is Catching on to the GOP Polling Place Photo ID Restriction Scam?

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 14:33

Some encouraging news to begin your week, along with apologies to Ian Millhiser for running his short and sweet piece in full, but I'm off the grid for much of today and would like to flag his main point here...

By a massive 46 point margin, Iowans believe that it is more important that "every eligible, registered voter has the opportunity to vote" than it is to make sure that "no person ineligible to vote slips through the cracks and casts a vote." 71 percent of respondents to a Des Moines Register poll preferred the first option, just 25 percent preferred the later.

The poll is the second blow in just one week to Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), who campaigned in 2010 on his support for voter ID, a common voter suppression law. Last Wednesday, an Iowa judge permanently struck down Schultz's attempt to purge voters from the voter rolls on suspicion that they could be non-citizens.

Although voter ID's supporters typically claim that they are necessary to prevent ineligible voters from showing up at the polls, the truth is that this kind of voter fraud is exceedingly rare - one study found that just 0.0023 percent of votes are the product of such fraud. What voter ID laws do accomplish, however, is that they disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, low-income voters and students - all of whom are groups that tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans.

The Des Moines Register poll suggests that voters will oppose such an effort once they understand the real impact of voter ID. Indeed, this is exactly what happened in Minnesota in 2012, where support for a voter ID ballot initiative collapsed as voters learned more about it.

Millhiser may be more bullish on the American people "getting it" than I am. The Rightwing "voter fraud" propaganda has run long and deep, and (unlike The BRAD BLOG) both Democrats and progressives in general took way too long to begin responding to the insidious and very well organized voter suppression strategy by Republicans. Still, I hope he's right and I'm wrong, and that, like so many other issues, the American people will get it right once they truly understand the facts of the long-running and effective GOP scam.

The data points Millhiser cites are encouraging, however, and are in line with a general anecdotal assessment I offered in January, as based on responses from Reddit commenters to the Pennsylvania court that nixed the Keystone State's disenfranchising and unconstitutional polling place Photo ID restriction law passed into law by Republicans there last year.

And, one more point, since the piece above discusses Iowa: A reminder that when the GOP in the Hawkeye State were able to run any type of election they wanted (without having to worry about running afoul of state or federal law or Constitutional issues) in their own 2012 GOP Iowa Caucuses, they chose to not require their own voters present Photo ID before participating, despite working very hard in the year prior to require such restrictions for all voters in the general election.

(In a related point, the Iowa GOP also chose to use hand-counted paper ballots, rather than optical-scan or touch-screen computers in their Presidential caucuses that year as well. Thanks only to that public oversight of the balloting the real winner of the 2012 Iowa GOP Caucus was eventually determined. Without those publicly-counted paper ballots, the man who didn't win, Mitt Romney, who was unofficially declared to be the "winner" on election night in Iowa, would have almost certainly have gone on to become the official "winner" as well, despite receiving fewer votes than Rick Santorum.)

* * *Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...


Categories: Brad Blog

In Memoriam: Terry 'BartCop' Coppage

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 17:58

The pioneering blogger and indefatigable, uncompromising and unapologetic critic of all things Rightwing, Terry Coppage, better known to the world as "BartCop", has passed away.

He will be sorely missed --- at least by many of us. "BartCop" has been raising hell, taking names and using the Internet to call out the bad guys longer than the word "blog" even existed, much less became known to the world. He also helped established the concept of political "snark" --- of the most viciously biting kind --- before that word existed either.

Fellow pseudonymous blogger "Digby" of Hullabaloo emails today to say: "Many of us early bloggers 'met' at Bartcop, including Atrios, Avedon and me. He's one of the creators of the liberal blogosphere."

In his "Last Word", published today at his site, Coppage asks readers to help "Mrs. Bart" live on...

RIP, Terry. Thank you for everything.


Categories: Brad Blog

'If You're Poor, Stop Being Poor': Daily Show Slams 'Third World Health Care'...in Knoxville, TN [VIDEO]

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 16:27

Occasionally --- almost as frequently, if not more so, than actual corporate mainstream news outlets --- The Daily Show produces real journalism.

One such example (among many) was Aasif Mandvi's stinging 2010 report on Nevada's United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union paying temporary non-union workers minimum wage and no benefits to protest Walmart's low wages, lack of benefits and blocking of unions.

Last night on The Daily Show, Mandvi did it again, this time offering a scathing, must-see report on "third-world" health care conditions in...Knoxville, Tennessee...and some stunning Rightwing hypocrisy about it...


Categories: Brad Blog

'Green News Report' - March 6, 2014

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 19:05


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Record fine for Big Coal company for 6,000 violations over 7 years; Opportunistic rightwingers push nonsense on Keystone XL; Colorado's Republican US Senate candidates pass climate denier litmus test; PLUS: Keystone XL loses another key supporter ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
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Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): China declares war - on pollution; Innovation: Transparent colorful solar cells have arrived; Federal Reserve sees severe weather impact throughout US economy; Americans have no idea how much water they waste; US infrastructure, landmarks threatened by rising sea levels; Britain's cars could run on rubbish... PLUS: Drought: California will learn what Texas did: by the time politicians and residents wake up to their wasteful ways, it’s too late ... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

Categories: Brad Blog

KPFK 'BradCast': L.A. City Council Endangers Citizens by Banning E-Cigs in Public Places

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 20:58

On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council voted to join cities like New York and Chicago by banning e-cigarette use in the same public spaces where tobacco use is banned, such as "farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned."

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio I spoke with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) about why they voted to impose the ban, despite the dearth of evidence that e-cig 'vaping' is harmful to either the user or anyone else, and the evidence (include my own personal story) that vaping is, hands down, the most effective way for smokers to stop smoking. In fact, as I describe during the show, I view it as a "miracle" that will save countless lives and that banning it --- or making it harder to vape in any way, without good reason --- will, quite frankly, result in countless unnecessary deaths.

Even Koretz admitted during my interview that there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking".

But he was low-balling it, frankly. As you'll hearing during the show, this is a very personal issue for me. But you can decide for yourself if Koretz makes the case for the L.A. City Council's ban. Either way, the ban will only go into effect if Mayor Eric Garcetti approves it. Garcetti can be contacted here.

My great thanks to Koretz for joining us at the last minute, and for sticking around for tough questioning from both me and callers.

ALSO ON THIS WEEK'S SHOW: A few rants on the Ukraine/Russia hysteria; new fines for 'Big Coal'; Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report and more. Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

[Image: Shutterstock/Gianluca Rasile]

* * *

UPDATE 3/7/2014: PandoDaily's David Holmes pulls together a lot of the known (and unknown) information about e-cigs and describes the L.A. City Council's ordinance "to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes" as "irrational and bad policy."

Holmes also cites Charles D. Connor, former president and CEO of the American Lung Association, who says, in response to L.A.'s plan to ban e-cig use as if they are tobacco products:

[T]his proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke.

As a former president of the American Lung Association, I have seen how e-cigarettes have become the subject of much confusion and misinformation, which has led to a classic case of guilt by association.

E-cigarettes may deliver nicotine and look like cigarettes. But there the similarities end.
...
Including e-cigarettes in the city's smoking ban would be a step in the wrong direction. It would send the unintended message to smokers that electronic cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, locking many smokers into traditional cigarette use. This is a public health outcome we do not want.
...
E-cigarettes are a fundamentally different product from combustible tobacco cigarettes and should not fall under the same rules and restrictions. Rather, we should encourage current smokers to move down the ladder of risk by implementing regulations that recognize these differences.

As a society, we should continue our laser focus on eliminating tobacco use. But a premature "regulate first, ask questions later" approach that equates e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco cigarettes only serves as an obstacle to that goal. The Los Angeles City Council should pause its campaign against electronic cigarettes until the FDA experts offer guidance on how the product should be regulated. To do otherwise is to ignore an opportunity to save millions of smokers from a lot of harm.

Categories: Brad Blog

AP: Federal Settlement Finds 'Big Coal' Company Polluted Water 6,000 Times in Seven Years

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 14:38

Big news on the Big 'Clean Coal' front today, just breaking from AP's Dina Cappiello [emphasis added]...

One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states.

The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind.

The Associated Press obtained details before the settlement involving Alpha Natural Resources Inc. was filed in court in West Virginia.

The government says the company and its subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times between 2006 and 2013.

The government says they discharged heavy metals harmful to fish and other wildlife directly into rivers and streams.

The companies agreed to take measures to reduce discharges from 79 active coal mines and 25 processing plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In January of 2011, Alpha Natural Resources, then the third largest coal producer in the U.S., purchased Massey Energy Co. for $7.1 billion to become what Bloomberg News described as "the world’s third-largest metallurgical coal producer" and "the second-largest U.S. coal company by sales, with almost 14,000 employees."

The acquisition happened just months after the horrific April 5th, 2010 explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal, West Virginia. 29 people were killed in the explosion, described as "the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years."

The tragedy at the Upper Big Branch mine would be upstaged just 15 days later, on April 20th, when BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and dumping some 5 million barrels of crude oil into the water over the next 87 days.

As coal and oil families mourned in WV and elsewhere, and as the country watched the unprecedented and unstoppable toxic discharge in the Gulf, it seems that Alpha was quietly poisoning rivers and streams in at least five states and fighting, along with fellow supporters of Big Fossil Fuel, to block the nation's transition to clean, renewable energy.


Categories: Brad Blog

Who Controls the Corporate Media Message?

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 10:35

The question I hear time and time again from audiences who see my documentary film, Broadcast Blues is, "Why did you leave your lucrative career in broadcasting to become a media reform activist?"

The truth is that, once upon a time, I worked in a newsroom where a corporate owner ordered me, a reporter, to skew my reporting to purposely make a man on trial for murder --- look guilty.

In an instant, my entire life changed. The trust I'd had in my news organization vanished. And the deeper I looked into the way corporate owners manage the message they want the public to hear, the more disillusioned I became.

There is more to that story --- so much more --- but you'll have to wait for me to finish my book to get all the chilling details on it.

But this is the kind of story that many reporters could tell, if only they dared. But when they dare, as Jane Akre and Steve Wilson did, they can get fired for telling the truth. (Who can forget the story of these Fox affiliate investigative reporters who tried to report on Monsanto Bovine Growth Hormone being injected into cattle, only for it to then be found in the milk supply, which experts said could cause cancer? WTVT fired them after Monsanto complained to Fox "News" chief Roger Ailes.) The reporters filed a whistleblower suit, and Akre won. But Fox won in the end, by getting a court order that, legally, news does not have to be true. Akre and Wilson lost not only their jobs, but ended up having to pay Fox' attorney fees. (See my story from Broadcast Blues on this case, including courtroom footage here.)

This is the kind of information I suspect the FCC was hoping to tease out in their planned "Multi-market Study of Critical Information Needs" [PDF] which, as I wrote last week at The BRAD BLOG, sparked a right wing firestorm in recent weeks when Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai went public with a Wall Street Journal op-ed accusing his colleagues of "meddling with the news" by simply asking voluntary questions of newsrooms. The study was part of the FCC's statutory requirement to report to Congress every three years, as they have for decades, on identifying "barriers to entry into the communications marketplace faced by entrepreneurs and other small businesses."

The question for reporters from the CIN study that was most disturbing to Pai: "Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?"...

From a purely journalistic point of view, having a government agency intrude on the autonomy of a news organization by asking questions about how they decide what to cover does seem improper. But from the reality of corporate driven news agendas, where truth is often obfuscated for reasons of profit or politics, the question is spot on.

Every news organization does have some kind of bias, and it can be found in the stories they choose (or don't choose) to cover. In response to my earlier piece on this topic, BRAD BLOG commenter "karenfromillinois" asked about a recent Guardian story on the NSA helping "their British counter parts spy on private video chats and capture naked pics of Americans which were then run thru some NSA program....creepy huh?" She noted that she'd only seen MSNBC's Chris Hayes pick up the story briefly, and asked "does a memo go out to ignore something that damaging to the government, or do all reporters just 'know' the msm rules?"

You have to realize there is a unique culture in every newsroom. Some news organizations, even in the corporate "MSM", work hard to hold government accountable to the public. And most reporters deeply value integrity in journalism. But for every reporter you see on TV, there are hundreds who would love to take that job --- and for less pay. So it's very difficult for reporters to openly challenge management decisions.

I note that in the two very dramatic cases I cited --- both my own and the Monsanto/Fox story --- the news directors were not at fault; in both cases, they stood up to upper management to defend their reporters. But in both cases, they crumbled under corporate pressure (and, I believe, the need to keep their own jobs.) But many news directors steer their staffs away from stories that reflect poorly on stations' advertisers. And it is not unusual for news managers to make an entire subject off limits for coverage by their reporters.

As to some memo going out to all news organizations, as issued from somewhere on high, presumably the government (or some other dark force), warning journalists to stay away from a particular story, I'm unaware of any such practice.

That, of course, doesn't mean they are serving the public interests well. As we learned from the corporate media's response to the CIN study kerfuffle, they would simply prefer not to answer any questions that reveal how poorly they are serving the public interest. And they won't have to. Late last Friday, an FCC spokesperson said the study "will not move forward," and that the agency will "reassess the best way to fulfill its obligation to Congress."

Score another round for right wing corporate media controlling the message.

While the government may seek to influence coverage by the media, there is no evidence the FCC was hoping to do so in this case. This was yet another case of the corporate media looking out for its own interests, rather than that of the public.

* * *

Sue Wilson is a media activist, director of Public Interest Pictures' Broadcast Blues, and a 22 year veteran of broadcast journalism. Her numerous awards include Emmy, AP, RTNDA, and PRNDI for work at CBS, PBS, FOX, and NPR. She is the editor of the media criticism blog, Sue Wilson Reports and founder of the Media Action Center.


Categories: Brad Blog

'Green News Report' - March 4, 2014

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 18:30


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hundreds arrested at White House --- again --- protesting Keystone XL pipeline; EPA moves to block controversial Alaska mine; New smog standards reduce pollution from tailpipes (and save lives, too); Ancient virus resurrected in the Arctic; PLUS: Unrest in Ukraine exposes energy security vulnerability for Europe... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
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Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

Link: Embed:

Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Energy CEO: Climate change is real, driven by humans; Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada's resource agenda: documents; Flood damage to rise fivefold in Europe; Climate change is preventing ocean heat from escaping in Antarctica; Feds shocked at NC oversight of Duke Energy coal ash ponds; US organic farmers see increasing GMO contamination of their crops; BPA-free plastics may not be any safer for children ... PLUS: Apple CEO's renewable energy 'controversy' underscores need for government mandates ... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

Categories: Brad Blog

Apple's Renewable Energy 'Controversy' Underscores Need for Government Mandates

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 09:01

Apple CEO Tim Cook is said to have been uncharacteristically angered recently by an organized movement of Rightwing shareholders demanding that the company stop its investments in green initiatives. Apple has announced its intention of obtaining 100% of its power for administrative operations from clean, renewable energy sources in the not-too-distant future.

"Since taking the helm at Apple in 2011," the UK Independent reports, "Cook has made notable improvements to the company’s use of renewable energy, increasing the use of solar, wind and geothermal resources used to power Apple’s offices from around a quarter of its total energy use to more than 75 per cent."

The company's sustainability initiative reportedly led the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a self-proclaimed "conservative think tank" to demand that Apple "refrain from putting money in green energy projects that were not profitable," the paper reports.

Apple does "a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive," Cook reportedly told the shareholders. "We want to leave the world better than we found it."

"Not everything that Apple does is motivated by money," he said. "If you want me to do things only for ROI [Return on Investment] reasons, you should get out of this stock."

He is said to have added: "When we work on making our devices accessible to the blind, I don't consider bloody ROI."

Good for him. But the episode underscores an important issue and one that is not generally appreciated by well-meaning progressives who would like to see similar actions by more corporate heads. In fact, our particular system of capitalism in this country --- and even the law --- might very well favor the rightwingers from the NCPPR in this argument, rather than Cook and Apple...

With very few exceptions, large, publicly held corporations are not going to simply "do the right thing" just for the purpose of doing the right thing... whether it's better wages and working conditions for employees, less pollution in company operations, or a more responsible and cleaner use of energy.

That's where government must come in.

Publicly held corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits for shareholders. However, as University of Chicago's M. Todd Henderson observes, "Shareholder wealth maximization is a standard of conduct for officers and directors, not a legal mandate."

Still, the core foundation of corporate responsibility to maximize profit for shareholders generally seems to go all the way back to 1916's Dodge v. Ford Motor Co., a shareholder lawsuit resulting in the Michigan Supreme Court finding, as Wikipedia describes it, that "Henry Ford owed a duty to the shareholders of the Ford Motor Company to operate his business to profit his shareholders, rather than the community as a whole or employees."

Ford had decided to stop paying special dividends to shareholders, choosing instead to lower prices on cars, hire more workers and expand production. "My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes," Ford said at the time. "To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business."

Setting aside whatever might have been Ford's real motives (and his other questionable politics, which, as coincidence would have it, we managed to opportunistically and brutally satirize at some length last Christmas), that's the altruism that Ford testified to in court when he was sued by the Dodge brothers, who were minority shareholders in the company, for cutting off the special dividends.

Ford lost the case --- at least on the main point. The court found:

A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end. The discretion of directors is to be exercised in the choice of means to attain that end...

The court, while ordering Ford to pay the special dividends to the Dodges and other shareholders, also held that Ford had the right to exercise his "business judgment" in expanding his operations and lower prices for customers as he saw fit. Had he more forcefully argued that the changes to his company were made in the cause of improving long-term profits, rather than for altruistic purposes, he might have been more successful in the case over all.

While "Dodge is often misread or mistaught as setting a legal rule of shareholder wealth maximization," according to Henderson, "This was not and is not the law." Still, the basic idea that corporate directors have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits for the corporation's shareholders, if not a mandate, is still at the core of our capitalistic system. It also helps explain (if not excuse) both why efforts to do the right thing when it comes to clean energy and climate change are so rare among the corporate elite, and why government mandates are otherwise needed in order to force companies to take actions that might not otherwise immediately benefit shareholders.

Yes, in many cases, green initiatives --- such as less waste --- may lead to short-term profits (less waste, more profit), but, in general, even the best-intentioned CEOs may not be willing to foot the cost and face down shareholders and potential lawsuits over sustainability initiatives.

In other words, CEOs are not necessarily going to do the right thing just because they are swell. If we'd like to live in a country where those who work for a living receive a salary they can live on, or on a planet that human beings can actually survive upon, it requires that government set certain minimum standards for corporations licensed to do business here --- whether it's for a minimum wage, healthcare for all, or limits on the amount of carbon pollution that companies are allowed to dump for "free" into the atmosphere.

The fact is, even well-meaning corporate directors can have a very difficult time, and face huge legal obstacles, towards doing the right thing for society and for their corporate shareholders without a government that sets clear and strong standards requiring them to do so.


Categories: Brad Blog

David Curtis, Green Party Candidate for CA Sec. of State, Strongly Supports Internet Voting

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:35

The Green Party's candidate for California Secretary of State this year is a strong proponent of Internet Voting. David Curtis, who was also the Green's 2010 candidate for Governor in Nevada, is now running to replace CA's term-limited Democratic Sec. of State Debra Bowen and he's staking out a position that contradicts computer scientists and security experts who warn that online voting cannot be done securely.

Recently, I had a "conversation" with Curtis on Twitter about his advocacy for Internet Voting, after Steven Dorst, an election integrity advocate who follows The BRAD BLOG on Twitter, responded to a tweet of Curtis' declaring his support for an optional "online method of voting".

My enlightening conversation with Curtis follows in full below.

The BRAD BLOG has long been on record documenting the many dangers of Internet elections. While the ease of hacking such elections is certainly a major concern (among many others), the over-arching problem with Internet Voting is that, after voting is complete, it is 100% impossible for citizens to oversee their own election results in order to determine that any vote has been tallied as per any voter's intent.

As with electronic touch-screen voting, which is 100% unverifiable in any form, even when done securely --- if there is even a way to measure such things (and virtually all computer security experts have told us for years that there isn't) --- Internet Voting can never been done in such a way that the citizenry can know that its been done securely. Thus, no matter how "secure", Internet Voting is ultimately a threat to confidence in elections and, along with it, representative democracy in the U.S.

Nonetheless, Curtis, like at least one other candidate in this year's SoS race in California, disagrees. He strongly advocates in favor of Internet Voting...

Curtis suggested, during our conversation on Twitter, that voting online can be both "secure and verifiable" with votes printed out onto PDFs or "other paper-like substance" and by allowing individual voters to check a database with a Personal Identification Number (PIN) after an election to see if their own vote was recorded accurately. That option presents a number of problems, such as the possibility of buying and selling votes, as I mentioned during the conversation. More importantly, it misses the point that an electronic database available to a voter can show the voter one thing, while the actual recorded and reported result can be entirely different. Unless every single Internet Voter in the state checks their results and then reports it publicly somehow (thus, violating their right to a secret ballot), such a method of "verifying" ones own personal vote offers no way for all voters to know that all electronic votes were accurately recorded and counted as cast.

The Green Party candidate is not alone among California Secretary of State candidates in advocating for Internet Voting. Democratic candidate and state Sen. Leland Yee, voiced strong support for Internet Voting upon declaring his candidacy, though he has largely (or, at least, publicly) backed off his advocacy after being informed of the many concerns about IV from computer science, security and e-voting experts.

Democratic candidate and state Senator Alex Padilla, believed to be the front-running among the pack of SoS candidates to date, has not explicitly endorsed Internet Voting schemes to my knowledge. Though, as we reported last year, Padilla has been less than forthright concerning his advocacy for unverifiable electronic voting systems. He misleadingly shepherded a radical new election reform bill (SB 360) into law last year which ended the long-standing requirement for federal testing of new e-voting systems in California and granted unprecedented power to the Secretary of State to approve new e-voting systems for use in "a legally binding election" even without testing by state authorities either.

Among the leading Democratic candidates, only former Common Cause official Derek Cressman has avoided vocal support for Internet Voting or other electronic voting tabulation schemes, focusing his candidacy instead largely on campaign finance reform and related government transparency issues in the wake of Citizens United.

On the Republican side, neither Pete Peterson nor Dan Schnur, a former GOP strategist and spokesperson who is running this year as an independent, are on record in regard to Internet Voting at all, to my knowledge.

Thanks to California's new "Top Two" primary system, the two leading vote-getters from any party --- including from the same party --- during this year's statewide primary on June 3rd, will go on to face each other in the General Election this November.

* * *

My Twitter conversation about Internet Voting with the Green Party's Curtis --- and with Dorst, who helped kick off the discussion --- follows below.

PLEASE NOTE that each remark is not always directly responsive to the one before it, since the conversation went off in several different directions at a time, as various tweets were replied to even as comments were made in regard to a different response, etc. It's impossible to perfectly translate that "three-dimensional" conversation into an absolutely linear narrative here, but I have tried to order the conversation below with as much accurate context as possible. Moreover, to make the conversation a bit easier to follow, I've taken the liberty of lightly editing some of the tweets to remove necessary Twitter abbreviations and/or to clarify what each person was responding to. The original tweets, in any case, are each linked along with each remark. Any misleading ordering or edits are unintentional and would be solely my fault, where and if they exist.

DAVID CURTIS: I support multiple modes of voting. I would support an (optional) online method of voting that is secure and verifiable.

STEVEN DORST: And there's the rub. I have grave doubts that online voting can ever be both secure AND verifiable. And Auditable. And Recountable.

CURTIS: I think it can be done, we can set up voter accounts with PINs. Just like a credit union account.

DORST: That doesn't address the Auditable or Recountable criteria. And if I vote that way, how can I know my vote was counted as I intended?

DORST: Check out @TheBradBlog. He's convinced me that paper ballots, marked by hand & counted in public, in precinct, is necessary.

CURTIS: Your account would show your votes 24/7. The SOS database would report from the accounts.

BRAD FRIEDMAN: Nice. So I could buy or sell my votes 24/7 under that plan as well?

CURTIS: No, but you could save the 30 minutes in line. SO there would be a "savings".

FRIEDMAN: If my vote is "verifiable" online, what stops me from selling it? OR showing it to my boss so I don't get fired?

CURTIS: Selling it to whom?

FRIEDMAN: I can offer $ to folks who can prove they vote how I wanted them to. I can beat my wife if she doesn't.

DORST: And if your vote is anonymized to allow recounts, how do you verify it was anonymized correctly?

CURTIS: Same way the credit unions do it, partial account number of receipt, or could be random generated code id.

CURTIS: Paper would still be an option, online voting would be an optional mode, like with registration.

FRIEDMAN: So only SOME votes would be 100% unverifiable then?

CURTIS: Do you bank online?

CURTIS: Is the money in your credit union verifiable or unverifiable?

FRIEDMAN: Sounds like you haven't studied elections enough to understand the difference between banking and voting. Secret ballot makes voting totally different.

FRIEDMAN: Online banking is totally different. All transactions are 100% overseeable forever by all parties. Secret ballots are totally different entities.

[For more details on this point than I was able to make in 140 characters, please see Dr. David Jefferson's "If I can shop and bank online, why can't I vote online?" (PDF). Jefferson is a computer scientist at Livermore National Laboratory, as well as the Chairman of the Verified Voting Foundation and a longtime voting systems adviser to both Republican and Democratic California Secretaries of State.]

CURTIS: In order to have an online transaction an alternate mode would be required.

CURTIS: The blocks to online voting are based on current statutes, and would have to be modified to allow online voting.

CURTIS: If an online vote was created it would have an opt in that included new statutory language.

FRIEDMAN: There are reasons (good ones!) for the statutes you want to change. Among them: Security, Overseeability, Buying/Selling votes.

CURTIS: The existing modes of voting stay, it would be an additional optional mode.

FRIEDMAN: "Optional mode" for whom? Do I get the option of deciding whether 100% unverifiable votes are cast my election??

CURTIS: If a voter opts in and it is viewable only by them via PIN, it is not equal to being viewable by everyone.

FRIEDMAN: So when I "opt in" and my boss requires I show him how I voted, what's your plan for that intimidation?

FRIEDMAN: When I, as a citizen, want to oversee the tally, how can I EVER know that any online vote was registered as cast?

CURTIS: Secret code, like when grades are posted publicly.

CURTIS: The SOS [Secretary of State] would have the tally just like now.

FRIEDMAN: "The SOS would have the tally just like now" --- The SoS doesn't "have the tally". It's tallied locally and sent to the SoS. Who counts the BALLOTS in your plan for Internet voting?

DORST: Moreover, how do you REcount the (nonexistent) ballots?

CURTIS: It would be a database, with a back up.

DORST: A database only allows the election to be re-tallied, not re-counted.

CURTIS: The transaction would generate a PDF (or other paper-like substance.)

FRIEDMAN: Please speak to ANY of the EXPERTS in Internet Voting so they can explain the MYRIAD reaons we don't/shouldn't/can't do it.

CURTIS: Online voting would also address accessibility issues.

FRIEDMAN: What "accessibility issues" are you referring to?

CURTIS: I did an online vote for the CC [Green Party Central Committee] in Nevada.

FRIEDMAN: What do you man, "did an online vote"?

CURTIS: I facilitated an e-vote for the Green Party of Nevada. They elected their executive council, online, with Ranked Choice Voting.

[Ed Note: I didn't even respond to Curtis' reference to Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) --- also sometimes known as Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) --- which is something long supported by the Green Party, despite the legendary complications it presents to citizen oversight of vote counting. When applied to actual public elections it makes it virtually impossible for precinct-based counting to take place, since it usually requires several rounds of counting to take into consideration the voters' 1st choice, 2nd choice, etc. for candidates. The tallying process is also very difficult for both voters and candidates to even understand, much less oversee, which is why many RCV/IRV tallying schemes have been abandoned in localities after they have tried to use them. The Green Party and other "third-parties" often support RCV/IRV under the generally well-intentioned (if arguably misguided) belief that it allows for such parties to have a better shot at breaking the two-party duopoly that exists in most U.S. localities. It was for that reason that, years ago, we supported the general notion of IRV, until investigating further and discovering all of the complications and dangers, only some of which I mentioned above, that go with it.]

CURTIS: The e-transactions were printed to PDF, so we could do a recount if necessary.

FRIEDMAN: PDFs are not ballots nor verifiable by voters. Please talk to some e-voting experts and/or read CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom" review of state e-voting systems. [Ed note: A 2007 state-sponsored study by world-class computer science and security experts that uncovered innumerable and gaping security issues and flaws in every single e-voting system and computer vote tabulation system used in the state, leading to the decertification of many of those systems in California and elsewhere.]

CURTIS: Will do. Perhaps what I am not making clear is this mode would require statute language and tech that is not in place.

FRIEDMAN: No. That was clear. But a VERIFIABLE Internet election also involves TECH that doesn't exist, unless you've got a secret.

CURTIS: People like to say "no".

FRIEDMAN: By "people", do you mean world class computer science, security and Internet Voting experts??

FRIEDMAN: Or by "people" do you mean voters who would like to be able to oversee their own elections?

CURTIS: All the people of earth, they like free speech.

FRIEDMAN: Again, the problem is that ALL citizens need to be able to verify and oversee ALL votes, ballots and results in an election. They can't do that with Internet Voting.

DORST: Sounds like you should invite @dc_us [David Curtis] to be a guest on The BradCast --- WELL before the [June 3, 2014] CA SoS primary!

FRIEDMAN: Would love to discuss having David on the show.

CURTIS: Great, thank you. I would appear on your show.

FRIEDMAN: Great. We'll try to make that happen in the coming weeks, if possible.

* * *Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...


Categories: Brad Blog

Former Mobil Oil VP's Scathing Open Letter to ExxonMobil CEO Who Is Suing to Stop Fracking Water Tank Near His $5 Million Texas Mansion

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 09:02

As we discussed during Tuesday's Green News Report, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, the most profitable corporation in the history of civilization, doesn't mind fracking --- nor the health concerns and property devaluation that come with it --- near your house.

But now he's suing to stop it near his house...or, rather, suing to stop the construction of a 15-story water tower, to be used for fracking, near his $5 million, 83-acre mansion and ranch in Bartonville, Texas.

It will "create a constant and unbearable nuisance to those that live next to it," the lawsuit contends, charging that water used for fracking will lead to "traffic with heavy trucks" that, Tillerson's attorney says, "devalues his property."

"Poor" fellow. Hope he wins the suit.

But, if not, as former Mobil Oil Corporation Executive Vice President Louis W. Allstadt points out in a scathing open letter to Tillerson sent on Tuesday, he can always afford to move away...unlike most of the less fortunate victims of fracking around the nation.

After more than 30 years at Mobil (and six months at ExxonMobil under Tillerson, after the two companies merged), Allstadt went on to become a foe of fracking and a vocal proponent of climate change action.

"No one should have to live near well pads, compression stations, incessant heavy truck traffic, or fracking water towers, nor should they have their water or air contaminated," Alstadt writes in his letter to Tillerson, who is otherwise a champion of fracking when its not in his own backyard. "You and I love the places where we live, but in the end, if they are ruined by fracking or frack water tanks, we can afford to pack up and go someplace else. However, many people can't afford to move away when they can no longer drink the water or breathe the air because they are too close to one of your well pads or compressor stations."

Read Alstadt's full letter to Tillerson below. Oh, and thank you for speaking up, Mr. Alstadt...

Open Letter to Rex Tillerson,
Chairman, ExxonMobil

From Lou Allstadt

Dear Rex,

We have never met, but I worked for your company for six months immediately after the ExxonMobil merger, the implementation of which I coordinated from the Mobil side. That was after thirty years with Mobil Oil Corporation, where just prior to the merger I had been an Executive Vice President and Operating Officer for Exploration and Producing in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. I now live in upstate New York.

For the past five years, I have been actively trying to keep your company and the rest of the industry from fracking here. I understand from several press articles that you have fracking issues of your own, with a fracking water tower and truck traffic possibly detracting from your view and the value of your home.

In response to the prospect of fracking ruining our communities, many New York towns have passed zoning laws that prohibit heavy industry, including any activities associated with drilling for oil and gas. Those laws, along with very little prospect for economic gas production in New York, mean that we probably will not have to look at fracking water towers, let alone live next to fracking well pads. I say probably, because your industry is still fighting those zoning laws in the courts.

Ironically, your reasoning at the Bartonville, Texas town council meetings is virtually identical to the reasoning that I and many other citizens used to convince our local town councils to pass laws that prohibit the very problem you have encountered, plus all of the other infrastructure and waste disposal issues associated with fracking.

No one should have to live near well pads, compression stations, incessant heavy truck traffic, or fracking water towers, nor should they have their water or air contaminated. You and I love the places where we live, but in the end, if they are ruined by fracking or frack water tanks, we can afford to pack up and go someplace else. However, many people can’t afford to move away when they can no longer drink the water or breathe the air because they are too close to one of your well pads or compressor stations.

My efforts to prevent fracking started over water --- not the prospect of having to see a water tank from my home, but rather regulations that would allow gas wells near our sources of drinking water, in addition to well pads next to our homes, schools, hospitals and nursing homes. These issues are legitimate, but they are localized. I am now much more concerned with the greenhouse gas impacts of fossil fuels in general, and particularly the huge impact of methane emissions from natural gas production and transportation. These are global problems that local zoning cannot protect against. Only a major shift toward renewable energy sources can begin to mitigate their catastrophic climate impacts.

Before closing, I should explain why I have referred to ExxonMobil as "your company."

For several years after retiring I thought of ExxonMobil as "my company." I thought that the company’s rigor and discipline in investing in sound projects was as good as it gets, and ExxonMobil was my largest single investment. I no longer own any shares of ExxonMobil or any other fossil fuel company. I would prefer to be an early investor in alternative energy for the 21st century rather than hanging on to dwindling prospects for investments in 19th and 20th century fossil fuels.

It is time that ExxonMobil started shifting away from oil and gas, and toward alternatives --- both for environmental reasons and to protect the long-term viability of the company. Many large energy producers and consumers, including ExxonMobil, are building a carbon fee into their long-term planning assumptions. Actively supporting the phase-in of a carbon fee would be one way to move the company into the 21st century. Recognizing that methane emissions disqualify natural gas as a "bridge fuel" is another.

Good luck with that fracking water tank. I hope you don’t have to move, and also that you will help a lot of other people stay in the homes they love.

Regards,

Lou Allstadt

Categories: Brad Blog

'Green News Report' - February 27, 2014

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 18:37


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Cancer clusters found downwind of Canada's tar sands; Nebraska judge rejects Keystone XL tar sand pipeline route; Inspector General finds no conflicts of interest in Keystone XL environmental report; Tesla wants to free you from your electric utility!; PLUS: Can wind turbines really slow down hurricanes?... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

Link: Embed:

Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Drought & Dystopia in Syria: Vision of Mankind’s Future?; Save the butterflies: limits sought on Monsanto weedkiller; Climate change is coming for your coffee; Acidic waters kill 10m scallops in PacNW; Oil train rail cars unsafe, 'unacceptable'; NY utilities ordered to prepare for climate change ... PLUS: That fresh pine forest scent can also limit climate change ... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

Categories: Brad Blog

The Agitprop of Ajit Pai: The Republican FCC Commissioner Calls Out the Troops

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 14:06

The entire right-wing mediasphere flexed its powerful muscles last week against its only regulator, the Federal Communications Commission.

It started when the new Republican FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, ignored traditional inter-agency channels and went straight to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal to accuse his colleagues of "meddling with the news."

That was all it took.

Pai's beef? That the FCC would be conducting a "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs" (CIN) to question radio and TV reporters and editors about how they determine which stories to run and which not to run. The study would also ask ask about "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."

As I reported at The BRAD BLOG way back in 2011, "The FCC is tasked with making sure the broadcast media --- via the limited broadcast spectrum which is owned by we, the people --- serves the public interest. Every four years, as required by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC must revisit the issue of public interest in media ownership." Despite the right wing hyperventilation over the nefariousness of the CIN study, it's simply part of the FCC's statutory mandate, as explained here.

What's most interesting, however, is that Pai enlisted the very same right wing Pied Pipers who have long taken control of and, indeed, dominate the very airwaves we ALL own, and which most of us agree need more diversity and public oversight --- in hopes of intimidating the new Democratic FCC Chair Tom Wheeler into providing less diversity and public oversight.

That bit of upside-down policy jujitsu was, ironically enough, enabled by the tremendous power of broadcasting over our publicly-owned airwaves.

Following the siren call of Pai's piping, both Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck dutifully took to those airwaves coast-to-coast to work their 30 million or so radio listeners into a frenzy to prevent the FCC from following the agency's decades-long mandate for determining whether local broadcast news organizations are serving the "public interest" or whether they are merely producing news stories mandated by their corporate owners.

Pai's ploy appears to have worked...

After a Republican inquiry [PDF] led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, Wheeler responded that "The Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters." He then announced the FCC, in light of the uproar, would revise its study entirely.

Wheeler's agreement to back off came, no doubt, in response to the calls and emails from the "outraged" citizenry worked into the type of lather that only 30 million disinformed Talk Radio listeners can bring to bear. (In the past, similarly disinformed anti-government right-wingers have unleashed violence and death threats.)

But there's a silver lining in this tale. Perhaps for the first time, Wheeler truly understands that the right-wing of this nation is dominating our nation's radio airwaves, and that only he, as chief regulator, stands between the corporate cabal that commandeered public communications and the rest of us who deserve to have similar access to our own airwaves.

As I have been reporting for years, due to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC is powerless to change media ownership laws that allow one corporation to own as many radio stations nationwide as they can buy. Only Congress can change this corrosive law which, by virtue of monopolizing the national conversation, has polarized our nation.

But the FCC can and must enforce rules which, even though they are at the margins, are meant to protect the rest of us from the same kind of onslaught Wheeler has just experienced. The FCC must learn whether news offered over our public airwaves in a given community reflects the community's needs or only the parent company's corporate line. It must similarly prevent radio stations from using OUR airwaves to promote candidates of only ONE political party.

My non-profit project Media Action Center's case requesting the FCC enforce comparable time rules will hit Tom Wheeler's desk any day now. We are also asking that the FCC deny Right Wing Radio's argument that they may exclusively support Republican Party candidates over our public airwaves because, as they are now claiming in hopes of skirting both the spirit and intent of the law, Right Wing Talk Radio is "bonafide news". You can assist this effort to return Alice back from Wonderland by signing our petition to "Tell the FCC: Talk Radio is NOT Bonafide News!"

I'd love to get the word out about our case and our petition over our public airwaves. It would be nice to work the citizenry into a lather over the truth, for a change, rather than over pretend outrages fomented by corporatist charlatans. But, alas, non-Rightwingers no longer have access to the public airwaves of our nation.

For the first time, I suspect --- or at least hope --- that Tom Wheeler finally realizes why this is so important.

* * *

Sue Wilson is a media activist, director of Public Interest Pictures' Broadcast Blues, and a 22 year veteran of broadcast journalism. Her numerous awards include Emmy, AP, RTNDA, and PRNDI for work at CBS, PBS, FOX, and NPR. She is the editor of the media criticism blog, Sue Wilson Reports and founder of the Media Action Center.


Categories: Brad Blog

Real Conservatism for TX: Federal Judge Finds State Ban on Marriage Equality Unconstitutional

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 16:04

And now, from deep in the heart of Texas...

A federal judge declared a same-sex marriage ban in deeply conservative Texas unconstitutional on Wednesday, but will allow the nation's second-most populous state to enforce the law pending an appeal that will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. His ruling is the latest in a tangled web of lawsuits across the country expected to end up in the Supreme Court next year.

It's not that "tangled". As Constitutional law correspondent Ian Millhiser noted via Twitter just after the ruling came down, "Marriage equality is 7-0 in federal courts" since the U.S. Supreme Court found the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional in last year's United States v. Windsor case.

"There've been pro-equality decisions in UT, OK, OH, KY...IL and VA since Windsor. No decisions against equality," Millhiser tweeted, later adding, "Texas decision makes it more likely #SCOTUS will have to hear marriage equality. Will appeal to 5th Circuit, which is severely conservative."

"Before TX," he wrote, "it was possible circuit courts could be unanimous in siding w/ marriage equality. 5th Circuit will probably create circuit split."

I'm less certain about a "severely conservative" court creating a split. If the court really is as conservative as believed, versus simply "activist" Rightwinger Republicans, they are unlikely to find anything in the U.S. Constitution to support Texas, or anybody else, treating some people less equally under the law than others when it comes to marriage. As we've long argued, marriage equality for all is the true conservative position, as true conservatives both here and elsewhere, have also long affirmed.

In his federal ruling on the Texas ban today Judge Garcia seems to agree. "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution," he wrote, according to AP. "These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex."


Categories: Brad Blog

'Green News Report' - February 25, 2014

Tue, 02/25/2014 - 17:50


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Natural gas methane leaks found to be 50% higher than EPA estimates; CO passes first-ever emissions regulations for oil & gas industry; Mississippi River shut down by oil spill; 2014 was hottest Winter Olympics ever; PLUS: ExxonMobil's CEO says fracking is fine for your backyard --- but not for his... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Please help us connect the climate change dots for another 5 years!
(and help us celebrate Desi's birthday!!!)

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

Link: Embed:

Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hog factories poisoning Iowa's drinking water; Enbridge tar sands pipeline had 35 unreported spills; Small volcanoes tamping down atmospheric warming; CNN: Why are we still 'debating' climate change?; Legal setback for Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska; Supreme Court justices question EPA emissions authority; IPCC: Climate impacts 'very evident', 'we are not prepared' ... PLUS: Global Shift to Clean Energy No Longer 'Theoretical' ... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • Categories: Brad Blog

    Dumb or Dumbest?: AZ State Sen. Supports Anti- Gay Discrimination Bill, Also Running for Governor

    Tue, 02/25/2014 - 15:35

    Normally, I wouldn't waste your time by covering a story like this. It's a ridiculous wedge issue that extremist Rightwingers are trying to mainstream, and the bill that allows for their hoped for discrimination against gay people in Arizona (which is already allowable under existing law in AZ) is probably going to be vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) anyway, if reports today are reliable and if she has any interest in taking the advice of some of the most powerful and influential Republicans from the state. Even three of the Republican state Senators who voted for the bill are now asking Brewer to veto it. [Update 2/26/1: Brewer has now vetoed the bill, as expected.]

    But given that three-term state Sen. Al Melvin (R) is also running for Governor of AZ in 2014, I suppose it's important to help folks understand how extreme and --- mostly --- stupid this clown really is.

    I'd normally ignore this story even on that basis, on the premise that this guy is obviously too stupid to be elected to any office, much less governor of the state.

    However, Arizona is also the state that, remarkably, managed to re-elect the similarly daft Jan Brewer as the state's chief executive. So, I suppose anyone who gives too much credit to the voters of AZ to save themselves (or to have the ability to oversee their own election results determined by computer tabulators instead of human beings) does so at their own peril.

    With all of that in mind, please watch the video of his interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper (who deserves credit here) and take note of how unapologetically dumb state Sen. Al Melvin --- candidate for Governor of AZ --- actually is. The only defense I can manufacture in his favor: if he's not incredibly stupid, he's just indescribably dishonest. So, take your pick...

    [Hat-tip RAW STORY...]


    Categories: Brad Blog

    BRB

    Wed, 02/19/2014 - 15:35

    I may or may not be able to blog for a few days, as I'll be on the road for a bit. (No, the police are not after me. Yet. Just need to take care of some outta state bidness.)

    Please talk amongst yourselves until I return...No fighting, or I will turn this car right around.

    A couple of things to not fight about: If you missed my story yesterday here at The BRAD BLOG on the Sunday "news" shows' shameful "debate" about climate change, Salon is re-running it today.

    If you'd like to hear my 30 second version/re-enactment of pretty much everything you need to know from David Gregory's shameful Meet the Press climate change "debate" on Sunday's show, listen to yesterday's 5th Anniversary Green News Report.

    Also, this investigative report by Inside Climate News, Center for Public Integrity and the Weather Channel is a blockbuster on the unreported air quality health hazards of the massive fracking boom now taking over much of Texas; the state's hard work to not notice or report it to the public; and the seemingly rotten-to-the-core corruption of the Lonestar State's public officials and agencies who are supposed to be regulating it all and keeping its citizens safe from these types of catastrophes.

    This chart from the year-long investigative study offers an idea of just how upside down --- in favor of the oil and gas companies and against the citizenry --- that the Texas system has become...

    Back, hopefully, soon! (As ever, tips for road money are tremendously appreciated and very much needed!)


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - February 18, 2014

    Tue, 02/18/2014 - 18:40


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama's plan to keep on truckin'...with much less oil; Secretary of State John Kerry goes 'weapons grade' on climate change; PLUS: It's GNR's 5th anniversary! So to celebrate, the Sunday network news shows all finally covered climate change --- really badly... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Please help us connect the climate change dots for another 5 years!
    PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

    Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

    Link: Embed:

    Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

    IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Fracking boom spews toxic air emissions on Texas residents; CA city fights 'environmental racism'; NC coal ash spill found 70 mi. downstream; Gov. McCrory denies involvement in Duke Energy sweetheart deal; Brazil: land disputes escalate over illegal mining; BP Oil Spill giving tuna heart disease; Arctic on track to warm 23 degrees F ... PLUS: Michigan: Vast Spill Of Liquid Manure Hidden Under Snow ... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • Categories: Brad Blog

    Networks Befuddle 'While England Drowns, and Australia Burns, and California Dies of Thirst'

    Mon, 02/17/2014 - 21:27

    [This article now cross-published by Salon...]

    Now that the East Coast and parts of the southern U.S. have been battered over and again with extreme weather this winter, and while California is in the midst of its worst and longest drought on historical record, the Sunday "news" shows, all at once, decided to cover what they describe as "climate change" --- or, in the words of NBC's Meet the Press host, David Gregory, "The Politics of Weather".

    All four of the major Sunday "news" shows --- NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation and Fox's Fox "News" Sunday --- covered the matter in various (lousy) ways.

    Out of all four of them, just This Week and Face the Nation, bothered to book an actual climate scientist to take part in the conversation with their various bevies of political and journalistic deniers and non-scientists. Only Face the Nation offered a one-on-one with a climate scientist before then bringing on the denier.

    Gregory, who Esquire's Charlie Pierce aptly described today as a "noodlebrained bag of useless flesh", tipped his hand last Friday by announcing excitedly via Twitter that MTP would be "Debating Climate change" on this week's show with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), one of Congress' top carbon industry proponents and global warming deniers and Bill Nye "The Science Guy", a mechanical engineer turned TV science personality. No actual climate scientists necessary, apparently, to "debate" climate change in Meet the Press World.

    Pierce called the embarrassing exchange "every bit as grim as you can imagine", and it certainly was. Here's just part of his scathing, dead-on-the-money response to it...

    Yesterday, and I am not exaggerating a bit here, David Gregory and the Meet The Press gang presented the definitive argument not only for their mutual expulsion from the company of sentient primates, but also the single best example of why the entire elite political class of this country is one day going to be subject to a massive class-action negligence suit on the part of whatever rodents are left. Let us stipulate from the outset --- among the people who actually know what they're talking about, there is no debate about climate change. None. It is occurring. Humans are exacerbating it at an unacceptable rate and, if something isn't done, beachfront property in Indianapolis one day is going to be at a premium. Neither political party has shown itself overly willing to confront this reality, but only one of them mocks the science and slanders the scientists.

    Pierce responds to Blackburn's idiotic word salad about "hypotheses or theories or unproven sciences," to say: "Hypothesis. Theories. Unproven sciences. While England drowns and Australia burns and California dies of thirst."

    We've discussed the record rains and flooding in Great Britain several times of late on our Green News Report and on a television appearance last week on RT America, but we haven't written about it much here. Last week, in response to the unrelenting extreme weather and storm surges swamping much of Southern England, Great Britain's Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to promise: "The Government will do everything it can to coordinate the nation's resources. If money needs to be spent, it will be spent. If resources are required, we will provide them. If the military can help, they will be there."

    The very next day, Cameron promised as he announced the deployment of the UK military to build a 60 meter high sea wall in one area of the country: "Money is no object in this relief effort. Whatever money is needed for it, will be spent."

    He went on to explain that in yet another area, Somerset, "There have been more than 65 million cubic meters of flood water. There is now around 3 million tons of water being pumped out every day. The equivalent of three Wembley Stadiums."

    If you're wondering what all those "scientists" and their crazy talk of "sea rise" is about, here's just a few seconds of video from over the weekend in Newlyn, Cornwall (video that the U.S. news networks apparently haven't bothered to show you)...

    Yes, even actual conservatives now, such as Cameron, have come to appreciate the dangers of global warming, even if it is only after disaster has struck his constituents, only after they are forced to deal with its costly consequences. And those consequences are becoming more and more costly by the year. Globally, in 2013, according to a recent report by reinsurance group Aon Benfield, we had the most extreme weather events in history that caused damage of $1 billion or more each, with 41 such events. "That's one more than the previous set in 2010," notes Climate Central's Brian Kahn, detailing the steady and costly increase in such catastrophes over recent decades.

    In the bargain, actual conservatives in this country may also like to not notice that failure to prepare for extreme weather events hastened by global warming has cost the U.S. some $1.15 trillion over the past thirty years, according to the Dept. of Homeland Security's Secretary for Policy last week. He added, during his Congressional testimony, that it's expected to cost at least another trillion over the coming decades.

    But why bother doing anything about it? Denial is much easier, if much more costly.

    On Sunday, NBC and Fox "News" and the others were giving airtime to jackasses like Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel to explain the reason scientists use the term "climate change" now instead of "global warming". (In fact, they don't. Both terms have long been used, with climate change used even earlier than global warming, though Republican and Fox "News" contributor Frank Luntz famously wrote a memo urging the GOP to use"climate change" instead of "global warming", because he thought it was less frightening.) Strassel's answer to Chris Wallace's straw man question about why it's "climate change" now instead of "global warming": Because "you couldn't prove that there was much global warming anymore, you know."

    Really? Tell that to the people of Australia, where they were recently forced to add a new color to their weather maps to denote newly extreme heat; where there were 203 heat-related deaths in Victoria alone last month; and where the frequency of such heatwaves has now "surpasse[d] levels previously predicted for 2030".

    "Heatwaves are coming earlier, they are lasting longer and they are hotter," Tim Flannery of the Australian Climate Council told the Guardian today in conjunction with the group's new report on Australia's unprecedented heat waves. "They build up for days and before you know it, elderly people, infants and the homeless are in danger."

    Nonetheless, the Rightwing Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott still remains in denial there, last week claiming that "there have always been tough times and lush times," as he refused to link the nation's record heat and wildfires and drought to climate change. Not enough dead people there yet, apparently.

    "We're not looking at these things in a linked-up way," Flannery told the Guardian in response to Abbott's denial. "We don't seem to recognise the relationship between the number and intensity of heatwaves on bushfires, and the impact on droughts...and people don't want to face the truth."

    "Governments have a responsibility to keep Australians safe from dangers such as climate change. You need to be explicit about that threat. We have yet to see that policy yet," he said.

    In this country, of course, we haven't seen it either. Here, even the non-wingnut journalists have now been cowed into not linking the human use of fossil fuels to global warming.

    Despite the fact that 97% of the 4,000 scientific studies on the cause of global warming over the past 20 years have found that human activity is to blame for warmer global temperatures, non-wingnuts like NBC weatherman Al Roker offers viewers nonsense such as: "Is it a natural cycle? Is it due to human interference or human conditions that we have created? That remains open to debate. But there is no doubt the climate is changing."

    No, humanity's contribution to climate change does not remain open to debate, at least if you bother to listen to the vast consensus of the world's climate scientists for the past several decades. But what do they know? And why should anybody want to include them on a network news shows' "debate" about climate change?

    "What Roker's doing here is what you might call skepticism-once-removed," The Wire's Philip Bump explains in his fact-check of Sunday's MTP "debate". "He's too smart and too prominent to deny that climate change exists, but he also doesn't want to get nasty emails from people who hate the idea that anyone would say climate change exists. ... Roker is wrong."

    But rather than climate scientists, better to offer views of TV-friendly weathermen like Roker and mechanical scientists like Nye and offer viewers the sage wisdom of Republican denialists like Blackburn and North Carolina's Gov. Pat McCrory (the 28-year former executive of Duke Energy) who appeared on two different Sunday shows this week (neither of which bothered to ask him on NC's recent massive coal ash spill by Duke Energy) and "balance" that with folks like Fox's version of a "liberal", Kirsten Powers and NBC's Chuck Todd.

    Powers explained on Sunday that while global warming "has become very much an article of faith on the left," (no, Kirsten, science is not "faith"), it's probably best to not talk about it all very much. We should just call for "reducing carbon emissions" because, "whether you believe in climate change or not, I think [that] is something that people should be able to get behind."

    "I mean less pollution is definitely a good thing," declared Powers, so as not to explain the truth too much to sensitive fossil fuel propagandized viewers. "So that might be a better way to make the argument rather than claiming that climate change is the cause of every single thing that happens with the weather."

    Naturally, over on NBC, Todd agreed with the general let's-not-upset-everybody notion. He suggested on the Meet the Press roundtable on Sunday that maybe it's better to keep the actual causes of this whole human-caused global warming thing to ourselves.

    "I wonder if there's too much --- you know, I know some environmentalists are frustrated with that portion of the debate --- but maybe you steer away from it and say, it doesn't matter," Todd advised. Who cares why it's happening?! Better to just discuss what we'll need to do now to mitigate it. He'd like to "table that part of the debate" regarding how we might make it all less horrific.

    "We have to tackle this infrastructure problem. You got to build different higher seawalls in some places. We're going to have to figure out a different way to distribute water in California....and the Federal government is going to have to pay for this...pay for all these things. And so I wonder if everybody should say, you know what? Let's table this debate. We know what's happening. Table that part of the debate because when you do that, then it becomes this like clubbing each other with --- with --- with political argument that takes away from what we have to do."

    Esquire's Pierce found Todd's suggestion particularly absurd.

    "How, precisely, would this policy approach work?," Pierce asked rhetorically. "'We will spend a few billion to build state-of-the-art seawalls but we won't bother giving a reason for why we're doing it. We're going to rearrange radically the way 38 million people get their water and we'll be apolitically vague when people ask why they woke up one morning with a fking aqueduct in their backyard.'"

    Apparently, the important thing is that the Sunday "news" shows either don't mention climate change or all, or if they do, have deniers and non-climate scientists talk about it, and when they finally do talk about it, maybe it's better to just not mention the reason for it at all. That way nobody --- especially the fossil fuel industry, which is a huge sponsor of all the network news outlets and most of our elected officials in Congress --- will have to discuss reality and scare those sensitive viewers and voters with actual information.

    Fox "News" disinformation not withstanding, last year was the 4th warmest year on record globally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They also report that the 10 hottest years on record globally have all occurred since 1998. And, yet, a Media Matters study found in January this year that NBC's Meet the Press "fail[ed] to offer a single substantial mention of climate change in all of 2013."

    Given what David Gregory and friends offered this week, perhaps it's best they go back to not talking about it in 2014 if this is the way he and his colleagues are going to cover it while, as Pierce says, "England drowns, and Australia burns, and California dies of thirst..."


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