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'Green News Report' - January 16, 2014

Thu, 01/16/2014 - 19:00


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Unprecedented drought & wildfires in California; Unprecedented heat shuts down Australian Open; EPA smacks down Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine; Putting all the sh*t in Washington DC to good use!; PLUS: The impacts of the toxic chemical spill in West Virginia still flowing ... 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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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): World may have to suck gases from air to meet climate goals; TPP: WikiLeaks exposes what Obama's secret trade deal would do to the environment; Italy's government agrees to send in Army against mafia dumps; Floods and landslides in Southeast Asia; Keystone XL: TX high court gives hope to landowners in eminent domain fight; Massive Antarctic glacier has entered 'irreversible' melt ... PLUS: D. R. Tucker: Resentment Rules the Right -
'there are plenty of permanently ignorant people who actually want to be misinformed and lied to' ... 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

    Following the 'BridgeGate' Money in NJ; Drinking in WV's Toxic 'Freedom' Disaster: KPFK 'BradCast'

    Thu, 01/16/2014 - 00:42

    NJ Gov. Chris Christie's premiere on the national stage is not going so well.

    I was joined on this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio by Bryan Murphy, the former employee of David Wildstein, Christie's Port Authority appointee and old high school chum who gave the order to shut down the George Washington Bridge access lanes from Fort Lee, NJ in the still-expanding "BridgeGate" scandal.

    Murphy worked as the Managing Editor of Wildstein's PoliticsNJ.com website some years ago and is now an Asst. Professor at Baruch College. Along with another former Wildstein employee, MSNBC's Steve Kornacki, Murphy posited over the weekend that a "billion dollar development" adjacent to the GWB access lanes in Fort Lee --- a development that has been fought over for at least four decades, but is being finalized now --- could very well be at the heart of this scandal.

    We discussed that, the scandal's effects on Christie's 2016 hopes, and what lies ahead as the investigations and subpoenas continue to peel back the rotten onion.

    Then I was joined live from West Virginia by my friend Bob Kincaid of Head-On Radio for the latest on the ground in Freedom Industries' toxic chemical spill which has poisoned the drinking water for hundreds of thousands there --- and is now heading down river towards Ohio. Bob has been fighting the coal industry for years in WV and offers key insights that only an on-the-ground WV native can...and in the way that only Bob can!

    Plus, the 9 completely unverifiable touch-screen votes that will determine which party controls the Virginia state Senate, Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report and much more...

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


    Categories: Brad Blog

    What 'Global Cooling'?: Record Heat, Drought, Wildfires, Continue in Western U.S., Australia

    Wed, 01/15/2014 - 17:19

    Very quickly, as I'm scrambling to prep for this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica (where, by the way, my guests this week will be Bryan Murphy, a former employee of David Wildstein, the man at the center of Chris Christie's BridgeGate scandal, and our friend Bob Kincaid of Head-On Radio in West Virginia on the latest in the chemical "Freedom" spill that has poisoned drinking water for hundreds of thousands. | UPDATE: You can now listen to that show right here.)...

    I realize folks just thawing out from last week's polar vortex in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. likely hate me for pointing this out, but we've had a week of 80+ degree temperatures here in L.A. While that seems lovely (and, largely, is) it's also very unusual for January to be this warm for this long and, coming on the heels of our driest year in recorded state history, it's also bringing wildfires along with it, even though wildfire season is supposed to be long over by now [emphasis added]...

    A dangerous combination of record dry conditions, rare January red flag warnings and the Santa Ana winds could be a recipe for disaster in the fight against California wildfires.

    Red flag warnings are in effect for the Sierra Nevada and a huge portion of central and southern California as small fires broke out throughout the state. The National Weather Service office in Hanford says it's the first time they've ever issued red flag warnings in the month of January.

    "Following the driest year on record, 2014 is kicking off as what may be the driest January on record in many locations in California," said weather.com Senior Meteorologist Jon Erdman.
    ...
    "San Francisco typically picks up just over 11 inches of rain through early June," said Erdman. "However, December, January and February are the three wettest months, so this complete lack of rain during the core of the wet season is worrisome."
    ...
    The dryness isn't isolated to California. Las Vegas is in the midst of its third longest dry streak on record for the months of December and January.

    Meanwhile, in Australia, the unyielding 100+ degree weather continues and a rash of wildfires as well. That comes on the heels of that nation's hottest year on record.

    So, if a couple of very cold days last week (arguably caused by, yes, Global Warming) in parts of the U.S. meant that "Global Cooling" is now upon us, as the conned fossil fuel industry-propagandized dingbats and dupes wrongly shouted all last week, what do these record warm and dry weeks and months of temperatures mean?

    Expect to NOT see any of that on Fox "News", of course.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Springsteen and Fallon Skewer Christie: 'Down in Jersey Land' [MUST-WATCH VIDEO]

    Wed, 01/15/2014 - 14:02

    Wow...Pretty brilliant. Kudos to both Bruce and the immensely talented Jimmy Fallon here...

    When you become a national joke, that's not a good sign for a Presidential run. When you're made a joke by your own idol (Christie is a huge Springsteen fanboy), that's even less gooder.

    [Hat-tip Alyssa Rosenberg...]


    Categories: Brad Blog

    BREAKING: Oklahoma Ban on Marriage Equality Found Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

    Tue, 01/14/2014 - 17:49

    Move over, Utah! True conservative Constitutional equality for all comes sweeping down the plains...

    U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional.

    The ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning marriages will not occur immediately in Oklahoma.

    "Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states," said Chad Griffin, the President of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement issued this afternoon following the federal judge's ruling.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - January 14, 2014

    Tue, 01/14/2014 - 17:37


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Tap water ban lifted in West Virginia after chemical spill, but serious questions remain; Dim bulbs in U.S. Congress; Solar beats natural gas in Minnesota; Google is moving into your house; PLUS: New Jersey's last wilderness saved from fossil fuels (and maybe even from Chris Christie!) ... 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': Vinod Khosla's Open Letter to 60 Minutes and CBS; Breakthrough: Cheap Liquid Battery; Black tide of coal overwhelms climate goals; Industry proposal to block GMO labels; BP's oil spill settlement court battles may backfire; Canada's War on Science ... PLUS: The 'seven deadly sinners' driving global warming ... 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

    'Mistakes Were Clearly Made': Christie's State of the State Speech

    Tue, 01/14/2014 - 15:53

    Borrowing a long-time favorite phrase of politicians who wish to take responsibility without actually taking responsibility --- one used infamously and repeatedly by Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal --- NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) admitted that "mistakes were clearly made" in his State of the State addressed delivered Tuesday in Trenton.

    The beleaguered Governor, however, did not identify who exactly made those "mistakes" in his ongoing "BridgeGate" scandal...

    Lt. Governor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Legislators, friends, fellow New Jerseyans:

    The last week has certainly tested this Administration. Mistakes were clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve. I know our citizens deserve better. Much better.

    I am the governor and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch - both good and bad.

    Without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again.

    But I also want to assure the people of New Jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state. This Administration and this Legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people's lives in New Jersey to be delayed. I am the leader of this state and its people and I stand here today proud to be both. And always determined to do better.

    Now I come before you once again to report on the state of our state.

    The rest of Christie's address, according to the text released by his office just prior to the speech, did not address the still expanding, still unexplained, political retribution scandal carried out by a number of the Governor's top aides and appointees last year when several access lanes to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee were shut down for five days in early September. The order for "traffic problems in Fort Lee" that led to the closures, was issued by Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff in mid-August.

    Subpoenas to a number of those staffers and appointees, as well as state, federal and even criminal investigations, are still in process at this time. Christie's personal role in both the lane closures and the documented attempts by his Administration to hide the actions from the public, is also still unclear.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    '16 Acres and a Billion Dollar Deal': A Second Alternate Theory for Christie's 'BridgeGate'

    Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:05

    Last week, we highlighted the alternate "BridgeGate" scandal theory offered by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. She reported, with circumstantial but seemingly plausible evidence, that the four-day closure of several Fort Lee, NJ access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last September might have had to do with something other than political payback for a lack of endorsement for Christie's re-election bid by the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee.

    Maddow posited that the timing of the now-infamous "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email of August 13, 7:34am, as sent by Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly, may have been a direct response to something other than Fort Lee Mayor Mike Sokolich's refusal to endorse Christie. Instead, Maddow said, the still-unexplained closures might have been meant as retaliation to the state Senate's Democratic Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who has been a particular thorn in the Republican Governor's side for many years. (By way of just one example, see her attempt to pass a bill to limit travel of the NJ Governor following our exclusive release of audio tapes revealing Christie's super-secret appearance at a secret Koch Brothers gathering in Colorado in 2011.)

    In support of the theory, Maddow highlighted a late afternoon press conference given by a very angry Christie on August 12th, the night before Kelly's early morning email, concerning a NJ Supreme Court nominee being stalled by Senate Democrats led by Weinberg, who happens to represent part of Fort Lee.

    For what it's worth, the Democratic NJ Senate President Assembly leader, as well as several others, have found reason to doubt Maddow's theory.

    But, on Sunday, in another smart example of good investigative broadcast journalism on MSNBC's UP with Steve Kornacki, the host, a former New Jersey political reporter and, incidentally, former employee of David Wildstein (the Christie appointee at the NY/NJ Port Authority who ordered the actual shutdown at the agency, according to subpoenaed email and text messages) offered yet another plausible alternate explanation for the shutdown.

    This one also sounds like yet another plot straight out of HBO's The Soprano's, as it relates to, in Kornacki's words, "something of enormous economic and political significance"...

    "What could have motivated a Governor to care so much about the mayor of a medium size New Jersey town --- a town that's one of 566 municipalities in the state --- to single that mayor out for this kind of treatment?," Kornacki teased. "What exactly was at stake with these closures?"

    Until now, the presumption has been that the actions of Christie's office (we don't yet know for certain whether he, himself, knew about the closures) was political payback for the rejected endorsement. But, as we also noted last week, many other Democratic mayors similarly refused to endorse Christie last year, and both Sokolich and Christie have credibly downplayed any particularly hardball effort to obtain that particular endorsement before the September closures.

    So, if not the endorsement, and if not an act of retribution against state Sen. Weinberg, could there be something else?

    Yes, as Kornacki details, a billion dollar commercial development on 16 acres of currently-vacant --- but incredibly valuable --- land, precisely adjacent to Fort Lee's now-storied GWB access lanes. The development project has been the source of various political machinations for at least four decades, including, as Kornacki explains, as part of an infamously-attempted bribe by members of the mafia back in the 1970s, of the then Mayor of Fort Lee.

    With a new deal for development of that land now finally struck, and final approval of financing for it hanging in the balance on the very week the lanes were shut down by Christie's office last September, Kornacki's reporting could also make a lot of sense.

    As the MSNBC host and former New Jersey political journalist notes, this "billion dollar development" (as it was described by Mayor Sokolich in letters to the Port Authority during his frantic attempts to have the lanes re-opened during the September shutdown) has also been alluded to during this scandal both by Christie himself, when he was making light of the shutdown late last year, and by Wildstein, who included messages about a meeting Christie had with another one of his Port Authority appointees, Bill Sampson, just one week before Kelly called for "traffic problems in Fort Lee", in documents submitted by Wildstein in response to a subpoena for all documents related to the bridge closure.

    Why did Wildstein view discussion about a meeting between Christie and Samson a week before the lanes were ordered closed by Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, to be related to the bridge closure? That point remains unexplained at this time, as does the content of the Christie/Sampson meeting.

    During his attempts to downplay the shutdown last year at a December 2nd, 2013 press conference, Christie also alluded to conversations with Samson:

    The fact is, I didn't even know Fort Lee got three dedicated lanes until all this stuff happened. And I think we should review that entire policy, cause I don't know why Fort Lee needs three dedicates lanes, to tell you the truth. ... And I've told Chairman Samson this, that we should look at this. Cause I don't know why one town gets three lanes. One lane, maybe. Three lanes? For one town? I don't quite get it.

    "I've told Chairman Samson this." Is that what he discussed with Samson, a former NJ Attorney General, when, as Wildstein's texts highlight, the Governor met with the Port Authority board member just one week before the lane closures were ordered?

    Samson is still at the Port Authority where, as Christie explained in his marathon 2-hour presser last Thursday, he still enjoys the Governor's confidence. "I'm confident that he had no knowledge of this," Christie said that day about Samson, "based upon our conversations and his review of this information." (Christie had also been confident of supposed assurances from other top members of his Administration, like Kelly, that they knew nothing about this affair, until the subpoenaed email and text messages came to light and proved otherwise.)

    Here's Kornacki's theory about how the 16-acre development near the river's edge and adjacent to Fort Lee's GWB access lanes may be at the center of this still mysterious scandal...

    After laying the theory out, Kornacki was then joined by New Jersey reporter Brian Murphy --- who is also a former employee of one-time Garden State political blogger David Wildstein --- to examine the viability of the "billion dollar development" in Fort Lee as having played a central role, somehow, in the bridge lane shutdown.

    "If you wanted to try to muscle in, in some way, to get a piece of that, boy, this is one way to do that," says Murphy. "These are smart gentlemen. It's just hard for me to believe that people put themselves on the line for something like an endorsement."

    Watch:


    Categories: Brad Blog

    In My Own Words: The Ignorance of Ideology

    Sun, 01/12/2014 - 17:48

    Ever wish you had the chance to give your younger self a nice, hard slap across the face?

    There are times when I wonder just what the hell I was thinking when I became a Republican --- or whether I was even thinking at all. Next month will mark one of those times, as it will be the twentieth anniversary of a happy event that I turned into a miserable one --- by making a shortsighted decision with severe personal and political consequences...

    In October 1993, a Boston Globe Magazine editor named John Koch visited my Advanced Placement English class at Boston Latin School to discuss an upcoming special edition of the magazine featuring essays from students in the Boston area, and to encourage my class to submit articles for the magazine's consideration. I was a bit nervous about submitting an article, but ultimately decided to write a piece about my experiences being teased and harassed for prioritizing education --- the so-called "acting white" phenomenon.

    I was thrilled to learn later that the piece had been accepted for publication --- surprisingly, without any changes or edits. I never would have imagined seeing my name in the Globe, and now it was going to happen.

    I remember being irked by the title on the cover of the February 6, 1994 Boston Globe Magazine: "In Our Own Words: A Special Issue By and About Urban Youth." The use of the term "urban youth" made it sound to me as though the articles had been written by gangbangers. Yet I couldn't complain too much: whatever grievances I had with that subtitle were offset by the honor of finally seeing my words in a commercial publication for the first time.

    My article, "White Man's Knowledge," appeared on page 29. In the piece [posted in full below this article], I described my frustration with the "acting white" phenomenon I had experienced over the years:

    From personal experience, I have found that if one black brother strives to enlighten himself in order to leave the poverty and hopelessness of the streets, other so-called brothers will try to prevent him from reaching the goal. They won't do it with fists or guns; they'll do it with code words. 'Oreo,' 'acting white,' and 'learning the white man's lesson' seem to be the three weapons of choice among these 'brothers' (and sometimes sisters, too)...

    What is the cause of such a disdainful attitude toward those African-American youths who are striving to get ahead? I confess my ignorance as to the exact reason. It could be a matter of poverty, apathy, jealousy or laziness. The black youths who express scorn for their studious counterparts may not have had a father or a mother to read a book to them when they were 5 or 6 years of age. So when filmmaker John Singleton expresses his desire for teachers to be considered 'bastions of society,' most black youths are unreachable. Why? Because the statements of Singleton and Spike Lee are printed in newspapers, magazines, and books, something that these youths may have had limited exposure to. How can you respect something that you are not familiar with?

    It is pitiful to think that blacks who strive to improve themselves through education must resign themselves to passively accepting backbiting comments in their youth by others of the same color who decide to remain in ignorance. It is pitiful to think that instead of being praised for seeking to empower their race, they are rejected for 'learning the white man's knowledge' (as if Caucasians were the only ones who contributed to literature, science, and mathematics). It is pitiful to think that the black youths who respect themselves by striving for academic excellence are treated with so much disrespect.

    I was honored by the positive feedback I received from Latin School students and teachers --- and a little embarrassed, since the magazine featured pieces from fellow Latin School students who were far ahead of me in terms of writing ability. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to build upon whatever momentum I had generated with the piece, and followed up with several articles in the Latin School newspaper, the Argo.

    Of course, by the time the Globe Magazine article had been published, I had become a huge fan of libertarian Boston talk-radio star David Brudnoy, as well as right-wing syndicated columnists Ken Hamblin, Thomas Sowell, Armstrong Williams and Walter E. Williams, all of whom appeared in the Boston Herald. Later that month, another right-wing pundit, former Herald editorial writer Jeff Jacoby, started writing for the Globe op-ed page, and I became a fan of his as well. One reason why I embraced these individuals was that they were all, to varying degrees, harshly critical of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who I regarded as an extremist of the highest order and the number-one threat to civility among the races. Jacoby in particular mirrored my contempt for Farrakhan, most notably in this March 15, 1994 column.

    I recognized in Jacoby, Brudnoy and the black Republican syndicated columnists a passion, a vision, a direction for the world that I did not recognize in the Boston Globe editor Koch. I also recognized that if I wanted to become a black Republican pundit myself one day, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to note that my writing career began in such a "liberal" paper (Jacoby was seen as the paper's token right-wing columnist). So in 1995, I abruptly cut off all communication with Koch, and began downplaying any connection to the paper, telling virtually anyone who asked that the only thing good about the paper was Jacoby. In fact, this article represents the first time I've told most people that I once had an article published in the Globe.

    Even after I decided to leave the Republican Party in 2011, having become disgusted by the party's "epistemic closure" on such issues as climate change, I still felt embarrassed about mentioning my past with the paper --- largely because I would have to explain why I chose to sever ties in such an abrupt and ungrateful fashion.

    * * *

    I've often thought about writing to Koch (who left the Globe several years ago and is now an accomplished artist) and apologizing to him for my actions in 1995, but I've never done so, simply because if I were in his shoes, I would never, under any circumstances, accept such an apology. How can someone who holds grudges ask someone else not to hold a grudge?

    This is one wound --- a wound I inflicted --- that will never, and can never, heal.

    I can't ask myself for forgiveness, either. I wish I had not been so stupid as to fall for the media hype about Farrakhan twenty years ago. Had I understood that Farrakhan was not nearly as important or powerful as mainstream media entities were making him out to be (and I actually thought he was going to start a race war against white people), I never would have been so spooked as to embrace right-wing pundits who downplayed the declarations of demagogues with actual political power while denouncing Farrakhan.

    (As I write this, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a Democratic friend several years ago, in which I asked why more Jewish people don't publicly condemn Farrakhan. My friend smiled and observed that if I actually knew a critical mass of Jewish people, I would have long ago realized that most Jewish people regarded right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalists as the greatest threat to their liberty, not Farrakhan.)

    Had I not fallen for the media hype about Farrakhan, and thus not aligned myself with the anti-Farrakhan right, I would have never felt motivated to sever ties with Koch. I would have never tuned into right-wing talk radio and bought into the notions promoted in that medium, such as the notion of human-caused climate change being a "hoax." I would have never defended the views of such figures as Jacoby, Brudnoy, Hamblin and Sowell as representing the views of "real" or "rational" America. I would have never made the catastrophic mistake of voting for the likes of George W. Bush. I would have never wasted nearly two decades of my life on wingnuttery.

    As the singer Charlotte Church once observed, even God can't change the past. Yet I still wish I could --- or at the very least, I wish I had enough common sense twenty years ago to understand that mainstream media entities were simply attempting to get ratings and sales by focusing on Farrakhan, and that his message was never particularly popular even among most African-Americans.

    * * *

    In numerous conversations over the past three years, I've been told that I shouldn't beat myself up too much over my past association with the Republican Party and the conservative movement, that millions of well-meaning people (mistakenly) thought that the GOP was a legitimate and rational political option, that people make mistakes. However, I can't accept this line of argument. Other people I knew recognized immediately that the right was wrong twenty years ago. Why didn't I?

    I keep trying to look for answers beyond the Farrakhan issue. I've noted previously that I was a fan of President George H. W. Bush, and I remember having a negative reaction in 1991 to those who suggested that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas was a self-hating black man. Yet I didn't hate Bill Clinton when he ran for and won the presidency, and prior to following right-wing media I considered myself pro-choice and pro-equal rights for gay people. Absent the "fear of Farrakhan," I think I would have remained a generally socially liberal person, instead of leaping over the right-wing cliff. In fact, had I avoided right-wing media influences, I'd like to think that I would have developed an awareness about the hazards of human-caused climate change years ago.

    What made me get so worked up by the Farrakhan stuff? Why didn't I realize that it was just media hype, sound and fury signifying virtually nothing? Why couldn't I recognize (what should have been) obvious media trickery --- the same obvious media trickery that manifests itself every so often, from the hype about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war in Iraq to the hype about the allegedly grassroots Tea Party movement to the hype about the "knockout game"? The only answer I can come up with is that I simply wasn't as smart as I thought I was.

    I can certainly recognize obvious media trickery today --- the hype about Benghazi, the fake scandals promoted by the late Andrew Breitbart, the fear-mongering about obscure academics such as Frances Fox Piven --- but that doesn't make up for not being able to recognize obvious media trickery when it counted.

    * * *

    I can't exactly celebrate the twentieth anniversary of my first published piece. It's a self-ruined memory. I spent too many years not acknowledging the piece and denigrating the venue in which it was published to "celebrate" it now.

    Frankly, it wasn't as good as the pieces written by my Boston Latin classmates. At the time it was published, I had developed what would turn out to be an emotionally expensive, psychologically punishing addiction --- and it has to be referred to as such, because that's what it was --- to right-wing media. I betrayed the man who gave me the opportunity to write the piece, for no other reason than to score political points. And it wasn't worth it at all.

    You know the old saying, "Time heals all wounds"? That's absolute BS. It doesn't apply when you've wounded yourself, and others.

    * * *

    D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer and a former contributor to the conservative website Human Events Online. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, ClimateCrocks.com, FrumForum.com, the Ripon Forum, Truth-Out.org, TheNextRight.com, and BookerRising.com. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.

    * * *

    The full text of 16-year old Tucker's essay, "White Man's Knowledge", as published in the February 6, 1994 special issue of The Boston Globe Magazine, follows below...






    Categories: Brad Blog

    Another VA 'Recount' Coming: 9-Vote Margin in Special Election for Control of State Senate

    Fri, 01/10/2014 - 21:27

    Meanwhile, back in Virginia...here we go again...

    Yes. As reported by the State Board of Elections website tonight, that's a 9-vote margin in the state Senate special election held on Tuesday to replace Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam who is vacating his seat after being elected last November as VA's next Lt. Governor.

    To put that another way, control of the entire VA state Senate now rests on 9 unverifiable touch-screen votes out of more than 20,000 cast.

    The VA state Senate is currently evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, twenty seats each. The tie-breaking vote in the state Senate goes to the Lt. Governor. Until Northam is sworn in to his new job on Saturday, when he takes over from the current Republican Lt. Governor, the GOP controls both chambers of the state legislature. A Democratic Lt. Governor will, theoretically, for the first time since 1998, mean that control of the upper chamber goes back to Democrats. But that is only if both Northam's Senate seat and the one being vacated by Attorney General-elect Mark Herring both go to Democrats in the special elections...

    The Tuesday, January 7th special election in Senate District 6 was the first of those two special elections. The one set to replace Herring in SD33 will be held on January 21st. So, while the executive branch in VA --- Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General --- are all going Democratic next week for the first time since 1969, control of the state Senate will have no small part in the way things move forward in the Old Dominion.

    The SD33 election is a few weeks later than the SD6 election, as regular readers of The BRAD BLOG may have likely surmised by now, thanks to the amount of time it took to resolve the November 5th state AG race between Herring and his Republican opponent Mark Obenshain, who only conceded the razor-thin election in mid-December, after what sufficed for a "recount" in Virginia, of what had been, prior to that "recount", the closest statewide race in the history of the commonwealth. Herring was eventually announced the winner by just 907 votes out of more than 2.2 million votes cast. The Democrat's final margin of victory was just .041%.

    In the SD6 race, the Democratic candidate Lynwood Lewis currently holds a .044% margin over Republican Wayne Coleman, after 20,401 votes were canvassed from the Tuesday election.

    Understandably, a "recount" in the race is all but certain, according to Coleman's campaign, but there will be even less to "count" in the SD6 race than there was in the AG race, given that, according to VerifiedVoting.org's "Verifier" database, all six of the localities which comprise the 6th Senate District use 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems on election day.

    As followers of the Herring/Obenshain race will recall, the recount statute in Virginia [PDF] describes how a "recount" of votes cast on DREs is to be carried out:

    For direct recording electronic machines (DREs), the recount officials shall open the envelopes with the printouts and read the results from the printouts. If the printout is not clear, or on the request of the court, the recount officials shall rerun the print out from the machine or examine the counters as appropriate.

    So, that's it. Whatever was already been printed out by the machines as the "results" on the poll tapes at the end of the night will likely suffice for the final results of the race. There is no way, of course, to know that any of those votes, or any vote ever cast on any DRE system for any candidate (or initiative) on the ballot has ever been recorded by one of them as per any voter's intent. Casting a vote on a DRE consists of 100% faith-based voting.

    Even if there are any absentee or provisional paper ballots to be included in a "recount" in Virginia, barring a court order, they are largely just run back through the same optical-scan computer systems that tallied them (either correctly or incorrectly --- who knows?), in the first place.

    So, while little is likely to change in the SD6 "recount", it wouldn't take all that much to flip the results from the current apparent "win" for the Democrats, to a "win" for the Republicans. 5 votes re-tallied for Coleman and taken away from Lewis would reverse the results, and hand control of the state Senate back to the Republicans.

    The localities that comprise SD6 are Accomack County (which votes on DREs made by WinVote, according to Verified Voting database), Mathews County (which votes on DREs made by Sequoia), Northampton County (Sequoia DREs), and the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach (which both use DREs manufactured by Diebold.) All of those systems have also been found, in the past, to be easily manipulated.

    For whatever you may find them to be worth, the current results of the SD6 special election, as canvassed and officially certified by each locality as of this afternoon, are posted here at the State Board of Elections website.

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


    Categories: Brad Blog

    BridgeGate: Christie's Implausible Deniability and Maddow's Alternate Scandal Theory

    Fri, 01/10/2014 - 08:05

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

    Some very good investigative broadcast journalism from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday night.

    On Thursday morning, New Jersey Governor and, until now, Republican Presidential favorite, Chris Christie gave a two-hour press conference (full transcript here) in which he expressed being "stunned" and "blindsided" Wednesday morning by the blockbuster revelations published that day by Shawn Boburg of the Bergen Record.

    The paper's report included email and text messages [PDF] between Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly and a number of other top appointees conspiring to shut down lanes of the George Washington Bridge leading out of Fort Lee, NJ on the first day of school last September. The messages reveal the staffers appearing to enjoying the pain the shut down was causing the town, joking about the inconvenience to the local children of voters of Christie's gubernatorial opponent in last November's election, and otherwise agreeing not to respond to queries from town officials about the closures.

    During the presser, Christie announced he had fired Kelly before it began. He said he had done so because she had previously assured him she knew nothing about the traffic closure that went on for four days in Fort Lee, turning the town into a parking lot and delaying emergency first-responders, among other problems it caused. "I've terminated her employment because she lied to me," he explained on Thursday.

    What struck me as odd about his answer to questions about his staff's response to the firing was that he said he hadn't spoken with Kelly since the revelations came out in the paper on Wednesday morning, before she was then fired on Thursday.

    "I'm wondering what your staff said to you about why they lied to you. Why would they do that? What was their explanation?," the reporter asked.

    "I have --- I have not had any conversation with Bridget Kelly since the email came out," he answered. "And so she was not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied because it was so obvious that she had. And I'm, quite frankly, not interested in the explanation at the moment."

    Not interested in the explanation?...

    After his response, I tweeted:

    No conversation with his Dep Chief of Staff who lied to him & who he fired? Really? Why? Doesn't want to know more? #PlausableDeniability

    — Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) January 9, 2014

    Christie is a former U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush. He's a prosecutor who knows how to investigate wrong-doing. He claims that what he "read yesterday" (Wednesday) made him "angry". This scandal's been percolating for months. He's belittled it, joked about it, claimed he didn't think it was a "big deal". But on Wednesday, when he read the emails and texts "for the first time", he realized he'd been lied to by several of his top staffers. He was "stunned", but didn't want to speak to the woman, his once-trusted Deputy Chief of Staff, who sent the original email instructing that it was "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"? Really?

    That simply doesn't seem plausible.

    It has also become clear that Christie did not discuss the matter with his two top appointees at the NY/NJ Port Authority either, even though he fired them in early December last year as part of damage control at the time, including the one who actually ordered the lanes shut down after responding to Kelly's "Time for some traffic problems" missive with the simple reply: "Got it."

    Why doesn't Christie want to speak to those people if, as he claims, he wanted to get "to the bottom of things" and "spent all day yesterday" trying to do it after being "blindsided"?

    Answer: It doesn't seem like he really wants to get to the bottom of things at all. It seems he may already know what's at the bottom, or, in the most generous interpretation, doesn't want to know. I suspect it's the former. Either way, his claims today --- despite his repeated apologies, his expressions of regret and sadness, his assertion that it was "heartbreaking to me that I wasn't told the truth" and his willingness to answer questions for two hours --- don't seem particularly plausible, given the extent to which he has clearly gone to not learn the truth when he had the opportunity to do so first hand from some of his very closest staffers.

    If his Deputy Chief of Staff was in on the conspiracy, along with his Campaign Manager and his top appointees at the Port Authority and several others, and they all lied to him, as he says, wouldn't he want to find out what else they didn't tell him before cutting them loose? Who else was in on it? For some reason, Chris Christie doesn't appear to want to know.

    It makes no sense. Unless he's covering something up. What is he covering up? Maddow may have uncovered a hint tonight.

    Until now, the reason suspected for the retaliatory closure of the lanes out of Fort Lee was that it was political payback against their Democratic Mayor who refused to endorse Christie in his re-election bid. But other Democrats had also declined to do so. Both Christie and Fort Lee Mayor Mike Sokolich have claimed to be puzzled by that. Sokolich, while acknowledging that he'd been asked for the endorsement, didn't think he was "that important" that the Governor of NJ would exact that kind of retribution when he chose to endorse the Democrat instead. For his part, Christie said during his presser that he didn't "have any recollection of at any time, anybody in the campaign ever asking me to meet with Mayor Sokolich or call him, which was the typical course that was used when we were attempting to get an endorsement."

    It does, after all, seem an incredibly aggressive response to a fairly petty matter, particularly given the landslide re-election victory that Christie believed (correctly) that he would have in November.

    "I know who I was pursuing as endorsers. I know who was close and we didn't get. I know who was never close or we were trying to get. And know the people we got. This guy never was on my radar screen. And I think he confirmed that last night by saying he was never really --- he doesn't have any recollection of being even asked for the endorsement. And that's --- you know, that's why I don't get this," Christie said during the marathon press appearance on Thursday.

    So, if that's true, what was this all was about? Was it something else? Something other than the Fort Lee Mayor's lack of endorsement? Something that Christie knows about, perhaps? Something that would lead him to not want to have to admit he'd discussed it with Kelly and others before firing them?

    Maddow, noticing that Kelly's "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email was sent to Christie's Port Authority appointee David Wildstein on August 13, 7:34am, wondered what else happened around that time in NJ that might have spurred Kelly to order the lane closures on the world's busiest bridge first thing in the morning that day?

    Here's Maddow's report, finding that the evening before, Christie had unloaded on Democrats in a particularly angry press conference concerning the re-nomination battle of a NJ Supreme Court judge, a battle that had been several years in the making. The woman who headed the state Senate Committee causing embarrassment for Christie at the time was NJ's state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D), who happens to represent...you guessed it...Fort Lee...

    The points raised by Maddow are certain to raise many more questions about this entire fine mess, as if there aren't enough already. But, for now, we'll leave those for another day.

    After offering her alternative theory, explained above, Maddow interviewed Weinberg about them. Here's that interview...

    I don't claim to be an expert on the man. But, to be frank --- having spent a fair amount of time studying Christie in advance of my 2011 exclusive revealing the secret audio tapes of the secret Koch Brothers summit where Christie was the super-secret keynote speaker --- while he can certainly be thuggish, a blowhard, and somewhat of a bully when he likes, retribution against a Democratic mayor for declining to endorse him in a landslide election seems a bit overboard, even for Christie.

    On the other hand, retaliating against the state's Democratic Senate Majority Leader, who he likely saw as causing him no small amount of embarrassment in the NJ Supreme Court matter, does seem more in keeping with his style. Even if he didn't know about it (which is seeming less likely by the hour), his staff surely shared the same frustrations with Senate Democrats that Christie would have (even as he often expertly played Democrats in the state legislature like a fiddle.) Weinberg, for that matter, led the charge in the state Senate after the Secret Koch Tapes story, to pass legislation that would keep Christie from secretly leaving the state again in the future, as he had when he appeared at the Koch Summit in Colorado.

    Maddow's alternative theory is smart, good reporting, might make more "sense" out of this entire matter, and is certainly worthy of further inquiry.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - January 9, 2014

    Thu, 01/09/2014 - 18:51


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: '60 Minutes' becomes a dirty word - Inside their new hit piece on America's clean energy industry; Don't tell the Fox 'News'-ified CBS News, but clean tech is booming; PLUS: Record drought in California, with no end in sight ... 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): Nature Bombshell: Observations point to 10°F warming by 2100; Global warming warning stickers at gas pumps?; Food industry’s secret plan for a GMO (non)-labeling law; Radio Disney's pro-fracking elementary school tour sparks outrage; Mass Extinction: Let's not.; Big Oil moves to overturn oil export ban in U.S.; The endgame of GMO controversy; Record heat wave kills 100k bats in Australia; Senegal siezes Russian factory trawler; Not enough bees for Europe's crops; Hungarian town goes green after massive toxic sludge spill; Rising sea levels threaten L.A. ... PLUS: Stephen Colbert calls out Fox News on climate change: "Well Done. All The Best News Reports End With 'I Don't Know Where We Got This'" ... 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

    KPFK 'BradCast': Christie's 'BridgeGate'; Foxified CBS News; My Obamacare 'Nightmare'; MORE...

    Thu, 01/09/2014 - 00:32

    And...we were back live this week on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast for our first show of the new year.

    And it wasn't a moment too soon for today's breaking Chris Christie BridgeGate blockbuster and our coverage of the Fox 'News'-ification of CBS News following yet another failure on Sunday by 60 Minutes.

    Also, the latest breaking news on marriage equality in Utah, my personal Obamacare "nightmare", Desi Doyen with a chilling Green News Report and loads of great callers!

    It's good to be back. Hope you'll agree...

    Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
    [See post to listen to audio]


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Chris Christie's Bridge Too Far

    Wed, 01/08/2014 - 14:55

    Prepping for today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, and may touch on this story a bit more then, or later as it continues to explode.

    Either way, it's one that, despite being largely ignored by the D.C. media originally, seemed to have legs when it quietly emerged a couple of months back.

    Today's blockbuster by Shawn Boburg in The Record, including tons of documents (emails and texts between the conspirators), almost ensures those legs. The question is now, as it has been from the jump, how NJ Gov. Chris Christie, a 2016 Presidential Republican fave, handles it. Oh, and if criminal charges --- even federal criminal charges, since this ultimately affected interstate commerce --- will emerge.

    To date --- seemingly forgetting the old "it's not the crime, it's the coverup" mantra --- Christie's handled it very poorly. He's spent weeks denying any foreknowledge of the several-days closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge (the world's busiest) last September as part of an apparent (now pretty much confirmed) political payback scheme against Democratic Fort Lee, NJ Mayor Mike Sokolich. His response, to date, has largely been to belittle questions and reporters and officials who've asked about it. He may have one more chance to save himself if he acts quickly now and fires a whole bunch of people, and comes clean on everything he knows. But if he knows more than he's letting on so far (as is likely the case), he may be watching 2016 --- where he coulda been a contender --- go down the drain.

    Here's the lede of Boburg's story. And no, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" --- "Got it", are not lines from The Sopranos. They are actually lines from this actual, now-documented, scandal...

    Private messages between Governor's Christie's deputy chief of staff and two of his top executives at the Port Authority reveal a vindictive effort to create "traffic problems in Fort Lee" by shutting lanes to the George Washington Bridge and apparent pleasure at the resulting gridlock.

    The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee's mayor -who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election -and they chronicle how he tried to reach Port Authority officials in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000, which sits in the shadow of the world's busiest bridge.

    The documents obtained by The Record raise serious doubts about months of claims by the Christie administration that the September closures of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were part of a traffic study initiated solely by the Port Authority. Instead, they show that one of the governor's top aides was deeply involved in the decision to choke off the borough's access to the bridge, and they provide the strongest indication yet that it was part of a politically-motivated vendetta-a notion that Christie has publicly denied.

    "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie's senior staff, wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid the escalating scandal, wrote back: "Got it."

    Other top Christie associates mentioned in or copied on the email chain -all after the top New York appointee at the authority ordered the lanes reopened -include David Samson, the chairman of the agency; Bill Stepien, Christie's re-election campaign manager and the newly appointed state GOP chairman; and Michael Drewniak, Christie's spokesman.

    Christie has previously said that no one in his staff or campaign was involved in the lane closings and he has dismissed questions about political retribution by joking that he moved the traffic cones himself.

    Full story, documents, etc. at The Record...

    * * *

    UPDATE 1:44pm PT: Christie has released the following written statement this afternoon, , versus the combative on-camera statement he usually enjoys making (via reporter Brett LoGiurato):

    "What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."

    Well, for a start, the behavior would seem to be very representative of his Administration, given the number of top level Administration staffers found to have participated in it, according to the emails and texts released by The Record today. That said, Christie has hit all the necessary points here "seen today for the first time" ... "outraged and deeply saddened" ... "I was misled" ... "without my knowledge" etc.

    Now he better start firing a lot of people, and hope that they don't sing and/or his fingerprints aren't on any more documents to come. These folks are all likely to be under subpoena and/or oath now in both legislative testimony and potentially depositions. Dems are, no doubt, already preparing 2016 ads with shots of the GWB and traffic jams, I suspect...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    What 'Right' to Vote in Iowa?

    Wed, 01/08/2014 - 10:05

    It must be nice to be the king and get to decide who does and doesn't get to vote for (or against) you and your friends, just like the King Governor of Iowa...

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) --- Iowa is moving to revise its voter registration application to help clear up widespread confusion over felons' voting rights, according to an administrative rule published Tuesday.

    The change, adopted by a bipartisan commission, would remove a question that some voters have erroneously marked indicating they are felons without the right to vote. Another revision would explain that convicted felons aren't qualified to vote until they have their rights restored by Gov. Terry Branstad. Prospective voters still would have to attest that they are not felons without voting right when signing the application.

    If the changes go into effect, as expected, a new application will be in use starting April 9. The state will gather public comment on the proposed changes through Jan. 28, and a legislative rules committee will review them in February.

    Anyone convicted in Iowa of an "infamous crime" --- including all felonies and some aggravated misdemeanors --- loses their right to vote and hold public office. To get those rights back after they serve their sentences, they have to apply for and obtain clemency from Branstad under an executive order he signed in 2011.
    ...
    Branstad, a Republican, in 2011 signed an order that reinstated the individual application process, making Iowa among the more difficult states for offenders to win back their voting rights. The move rescinded a 2005 executive order signed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, that automatically restored voting rights to felons once they completed their sentences.

    So Branstad both decided, on his own, that voting would be more difficult for certain selected individuals and he is also the sole decider if those people can vote again. Lovely.

    What right does the government, much less one person, have to take another person's right to vote away?

    To be fair, many other states do very same thing and we're glad that, if the changes go through in Iowa, it'll be slightly easier and less confusing for voters. But why must there even be a fight for the right to vote for those who have already served their time in jail?

    For that matter, why shouldn't someone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor have the right to vote even while in jail?

    Why shouldn't Nelson Mandela have had the right to vote when he was a political prisoner? Why shouldn't former AL Gov. Don Siegelman, a political prisoner now in the U.S., have the right to vote? Why shouldn't the tens of thousands of people in jail for marijuana convictions --- some of whom are now in jail for something that is now totally legal --- be allowed to vote? Why shouldn't millions of people most directly affected by the specific laws passed by lawmakers elected by their fellow citizens have the right to vote on the people who wrote and passed those very laws?

    Before it was violently crushed by the state, when the Occupy movement was at its peak in late 2011 and appeared to be working on "demands", we offered just one, non-partisan, two-part suggestion for them to put forward:

    Every U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older who wishes to vote, gets to vote. Period. Those votes, on hand-marked paper ballots, will be counted publicly, by hand, on Election Night, at the precinct, in front of all observers and video cameras.

    As to the second part of that suggestion, publicly-counted hand-marked paper ballots, that's already how the Iowa GOP runs their own caucus (and with no Photo ID required, by the way).

    But as to the first part, allowing everyone to vote, that's a different matter, apparently. And it's one they must not have really meant when they adopted the slogan on the Iowa state flag: "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain." Or, perhaps it just depends on who they mean by "our".

    Occupy may have been crushed by the kings, but the citizens --- all of the citizens --- can and should still have their right to vote them out of office. Our suggestion to Occupy still stands --- for Iowa and for the rest of the nation. You're either for representative democracy or you're against it. We're for it.

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


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - January 7, 2014

    Tue, 01/07/2014 - 18:40


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Baby it's record cold outside (but only in the U.S.); PLUS: It's that time of year again --- deniers pretend snow and cold means no more global warming ... All that and more in our first Green News Report of the year!...

    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): 4 states confirm water pollution from natural gas drilling; Driest year ever in California sparks drought, fire fears; Colorado River drought means painful choices ahead; Toyota introduces hydrogen fuel-cell car; West Coast sardine crash radiates through ecosystem; Exxon faces criminal charges over illegally dumping fracking wastewater; 20 questions on GMOs; US sailors sue TEPCO over Fukushima; Fact vs. fiction on spread of Fukushima radiation ... PLUS: China admits millions of acres too polluted for farming ... 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

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

    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.

    'Solyndra!'

    "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.

    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.

    SUSAN SHAMEL

    Hillsboro

    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]

    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

    Happy 2014 from The BRAD BLOG...

    Wed, 01/01/2014 - 03:00

    We'll start the year with a singular, if dark, note of optimism.

    From all of us here at The BRAD BLOG, and as we head towards our 10th(!) anniversary (on January 24th), our greatest continuing thanks to all of our readers and supporters (and even our detractors), and our very best wishes to you all for a very happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

    It couldn't be much worse than the last one, right? (Don't answer that.)

    As the man in the mask says...the beginning is near...

    -- Brad

    Categories: Brad Blog