IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly --- and predicted --- landslide disaster in Washington State; Meet the nation's newest oil spill, now in Galveston Bay; Air pollution from fossil fuels kills 7 million people a year; PLUS: The never-ending legacy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, 25 years later... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Plane search hampered by ocean garbage problem; BP oil causing fish deformities; Wind and Solar Harvest Enough Energy Now to Pay Back Manufacture Plus Add Storage; Global warming has not stopped, will go on for centuries; Kids living near big roads have higher cancer rates; Does US oil boom mean more oil spills?; WI towns fight to control local frac sand mining; Los Alamos nuclear storage accident diverts waste to Texas; Global energy demand vs. agriculture for water supplies ... PLUS: Warming Is Big Risk For People: 'the polar bear is us' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
For all of the long-time smokers who are quitting or have now quit the deadly habit (myself included) thanks only to the miracle of e-cigs (which offer none of the thousands of known, harmful byproducts of smoking tobacco), it's remarkable to see anti-smoking zealots actually fighting against their use in myriad ways.
Several weeks ago on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show, I interviewed Paul Koretz, one of the L.A. City Councilmembers who, beyond all reason --- and without a single shred of scientific data to back up his reasoning --- recently voted to ban vaping in all the same places where smoking is banned (on beaches, public parks, inside work places, restaurants, bars, etc.) Those who vape, if L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti decides to approve the City Council's ridiculous and dangerous ordinance (as other mayors have done in other cities) would be consigned to having to go outside to a smoking area to use their safe, odor-free vaporizer.
As one caller to the radio show pointed out, that ill-considered policy is akin to forcing recovering alcoholics to go sit in a bar. It's almost assured to keep more people smoking rather than quitting. That, even though, as Koretz admitted to me on air, there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking" and the former. (And he was low-balling that number, no doubt.) The former President of the American Lung Association describes the L.A. ban on vaping as "misguided" and "a public health disservice".
Which brings us to Monday's New York Times, where the Idiotic War on Quitting Smoking continues with a misguided hit piece on e-liquid --- the "juices" used in e-cig vaporizers --- headlined "Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes"...
Ever since the situation in Ukraine began to blow up (again), I've been trying to figure out what's really been going on. It hasn't been easy. And the U.S. corporate media has not been particularly helpful (again).
We pick up that thread on this week's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast, as I was joined by investigative reporter Robert Parry of ConsortiumNews.com to try and sort much of it out. His must-read article, "Mainstream US Media Is Lost in Ukraine", tying together blatant media failures on Iraq and Syria and now in Ukraine, begins to crack the nut of what the U.S. media is failing to tell us about the entire fine mess, including some startling audio evidence that we play on the show suggesting that certain narratives --- for example, the one about now former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych's police gunning down protesters --- may be much less (or, at least, much different) than has been generally reported in this country.
Parry explains how "The U.S. mainstream news media is reaching a new professional low point as it covers the Ukraine crisis by brazenly touting Official Washington’s propaganda themes, blatantly ignoring contrary facts and leading the American public into another geopolitical blind alley."
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Up all night for climate in the U.S. Senate; Alaska's iconic Iditarod race struggles without snow; California breaks solar power records; PLUS: 3rd anniversary of the meltdown at Fukushima, and the legacy of nuclear disaster ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climatologist who predicted California drought 10 years ago says it may soon be ‘even more dire’; Daylight Savings Time could be costing billions yearly in electricity; Canadian tar sands oil gets new route across US; IEA: wind and solar can carry bulk of energy transformation; New ozone-depleting gases found in atmosphere; Get ready for El Nino...maybe; What slowdown? NASA says long-term warming likely to be significant; Duke CEO: All customers to pay for coal ash cleanup ... PLUS: 'Pollution burden' much higher for California's minority populations ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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....