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!
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! ...
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.
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."
[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.
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?"...
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.
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!
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! ...
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".
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...
I've been on Abby Martin's Breaking the Set on RT America a number of times (see here and here), but on Wednesday it was my first time being on the show along with the delightful Desi Doyen, my co-host on the Green News Report.
Oh, I'm sorry. Those weren't more than 80,000 'Tea Partiers' marching in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, over the weekend. Those were people peacefully demonstrating against the radical Rightwing 'Tea Party' policies of the North Carolina Legislature and Governor.
Had they been 'Tea Partiers' protesting, of course, you would have already heard about the march, as it likely would have been featured by every news outlet in the nation, along with the repeated claim that such a massive gathering of angry voters portends disaster for Democrats this November.
Such as these were not angry Rightwingers marching, however, the event barely made the "news" beyond North Carolina's borders. But it happened, whether the national, so-called "liberal media" covered it or not and, as these photos demonstrate, it was pretty damned huge...
It's become a bit of a cliche in the Obama era. Every year, when the President delivers his State of the Union address, someone in the Republican Congressional caucus makes an absolute jackass of him/herself. Let's call it the Rep. Joe Wilson "YOU LIE!" syndrome.
They just can't seem to help themselves in those grand moments in the bright lights during which they are finally forced to be in the same room with the actual reality of the person they've spent the bulk of the year deluding themselves --- with no small amount of help from Fox "News" and even the so-called legitimate news networks --- into believing to be an incompetent, dictatorial, fascistic, imperial-socialist evil genius. (I'll leave it to you to figure out how he can be all those things at once.)
We thought we had last night's winner of the Republican SOTU Jackass of the Year Award when Texas Rep. Randy Weber tweeted, before the speech even began...
On floor of house waitin on "Kommandant-In-Chef"... the Socialistic dictator who's been feeding US a line or is it "A-Lying?"
Setting aside the impressive typos and incoherence, Rep. Weber's idiocy was clear enough. But, as it turns out, he was an amateur last night. There were at least two other elected officials in the GOP caucus vying for last night's (dis)honor, with one even willing to threaten a violent offense against a reporter on camera. But, in truth, it was the third who really represents the gravest threat to our democracy...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Transcanada natural gas pipeline explodes, cutting off heat for thousands; Oil pipeline spills into river in Philadelphia; PLUS: It's a Polar Vortex Redux, making Alaska warmer than most of Florida ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change; U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly; Chris Christie’s other traffic jam: the cancelled Hudson River Tunnel; FDA allowed antibiotics in animal feed despite risk to health: report; Most Latinos want government action on climate change, poll; 7,300-sq-mile ring of mercury around tar sands in Canada; Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie ... PLUS: Canadian Arctic Warming Unprecedented In 120,000 Years ... and much, MUCH more! ...
A number of unhappy "good government" groups will file a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission next month, in hopes that the courts will force the FEC to enforce the federal campaign finance laws that the FEC is, supposedly, there to enforce.
The organizations are particularly unhappy about Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS "behemoth" outfit, which has raised hundreds of millions over the last several years to elect Republican candidates to office, recently receiving a pass from the FEC, even after the agency's Office of General Counsel found reason to believe Rove's group clearly violated campaign finance laws.
The news about the groups' intention to file suit was offered on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast this week by my guest, Craig Holman, the Government Affairs Lobbyist for Public Citizen's Congress Watch. Public Citizen, along with the Campaign Legal Center, Center for Media and Democracy, and Protect Our Elections filed the initial complaint over campaign spending in 2010 by Rove's then new non-profit 501(c)(4) organization. They now plan to sue the FEC for failing to do their job, Holman explained on the show on Wednesday. [Disclosure: Protect Our Elections is a campaign created by VelvetRevolution.us, an organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, though we weren't personally involved with either the complaint or the upcoming suit.]
"What's happened with the Federal Election Commission is," Holman explained during my interview [posted in full at the end of this article], Senator "Mitch McConnell [R-KY], back in about 2008, realized that even though he can't get Congress to rescind campaign finance laws --- and he certainly can't sell the public on rescinding campaign finance laws --- he realized that if he were to appoint three Republican Commissioners to the FEC, he could ensure that the campaign finance laws don't get enforced. And that's exactly what has happened." Holman detailed how three-to-three deadlock votes on whether to pursue further action in most of the campaign finance rulings by the three Democratic and three Republican Commissioners on the FEC has increased "nine-fold" since 2008. A deadlock vote effectively ends the matter, even if wrong-doing had been found by the investigative staff, as is the case here.
In the original complaint against Rove's Crossroads GPS, the FEC's Office of General Counsel (OGC) found that the group had spent a majority of its funding on campaigning in 2010. If so, that's a violation of the law, since Rove's group should have filed with the FEC as a political committee, rather than as a 501(c)(4) which is supposed to be a non-electioneering "social welfare" organization. As a political committee, funders would have to be immediately disclosed, but as a (c)(4), the identity of those funding Rove's organization can remain a secret....
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!
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! ...
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]...
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!
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! ...