IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Explosion, fire and oil spill at nuclear plant just outside New York City; Here we go again: Shell gets approval to drill in the Arctic this summer; More water restrictions amid California drought; GOP votes to slash funding for NASA Earth research; PLUS: Solar-powered plane embarks on its most dangerous journey yet ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Florida most vulnerable state to sea level rise, but has no statewide plan; Apple pledges to run its China facilities using mainly renewable energy; Track where oil train derailed was inspected day before accident; Proposed rule could mean free coal for mining companies on public lands; CA may add warnings for BPA ... PLUS: Fracking most likely cause of TX earthquakes, USGS says... and much, MUCH more! ...
We started with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling finding that the NSA's mass surveillance of US citizens under the Patriot Act is, in fact, illegal; Then, more arrests of top elected officials in NY state (Who's next?);
Next, I was joined by BRAD BLOG's Texas blogger and 'toon curator Perry "PDiddie" Dorrell of Brains & Eggs to discuss the "Ace in the Hole (and on the Bench)" in the ongoing criminal felony trial of former TX Governor and presumptive 2016 GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry. (And for an update on whether he's properly prepared for the imminent "Jade Helm 15" U.S. government takeover of Texas!)
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a very busy Green News Report on Oklahoma tornado outbreak, 'oil bomb' trains, the progressive take over of Alberta, Canada's government, and Elon Musk's huge new announcement...
While we post The BradCast here everyday, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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After 12 years in the U.S. House, the very conservative Rep. Inglis was primaried out in 2010 by the Tea Party after he dared change his position from being a climate change denier to wanting to take action after consultation with scientists and even his own children.
Inglis has since founded the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University, "guided by the conservative principles of free enterprise and economic growth, limited government, liberty, accountability and reasonable risk avoidance to solve our nation's energy and climate challenges."
We discussed whether he has any regrets about how things worked out in Congress; about his appearance in the new documentary Merchants of Doubt, which exposes how the denial industry works (and how the same sleaze merchants who denied the harm of cigarette smoke in previous decades on behalf of Big Tobacco are now using the very same tactics today. Watch the trailer.); why Republicans have become science deniers and whether he is optimistic that will change any time soon; and his plan for a revenue-neutral carbon tax to fight global warming by both reducing emissions and correcting what he (accurately) describes as the "market distortion" that allows polluters to socialize the cost of pollution and, essentially, pollute for free.
"One of the key philosophical underpinnings of conservative thought is that humans are responsible moral actors," Inglis told me. Yet, he says, the fossil fuel industry is being allowed to get away without taking responsibility for the damage they are causing to both people and the planet. "That's where we are on climate. We're allowing people to socialize their soot and they will get away with it as long as we let them get away without accountability." He says that was is currently lacking is "accountable transparent marketplaces."
"If we could get through the denial and get to the debate," it would be a good thing, explains Inglis, who describes global warming as a "crucial issue, vital to the future of our children and grandchildren" as he offers a surprisingly optimistic outlook for the future. How optimistic? He even believes some non-denier Republicans may enter the 2016 Presidential primary race! I'm dubious --- but we'll see. It was a fascinating conversation.
Also on today's show: even Fox "News" is now turning against the obnoxious organizers of the deadly anti-Muslim event in Garland, TX over the weekend; CO2 reaches a new and horrible milestone; another oil bomb train explodes in ND; and some very very good news for progressives folks in Alberta, Canada (and maybe for environmentalists down here!) after last night's election there...
While we'll be posting The BradCast here everyday, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
The Texas response to Operation Jade Helm 15, a collective Rightwing hallucination concerning the belief that the U.S. federal government is about to invade the state (no, seriously) has probably made enough news for one lifetime.
What hasn't made enough news is that former Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry, another presumptive 2016 GOP Presidential contender, is still boots-deep in legal trouble.
Specifically, he's still facing two felony indictments on charges of abuse of office and coercion of a public official after threatening the head of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County (Austin) district attorney's office with denial of funding. The DA in question, Rosemary Lehmberg, was arrested for DUI in 2013 and refused to resign in its wake.
The latest developments in Perry's case wouldn't get picked up for a House of Cards storyline because they're so outlandish. But take it from a native Texan: it's just government business as usual around these parts...
In anticipation of Thursday's formal announcement, the L.A. Times described the effort by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to secure the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States as a "long shot."
That assessment is consistent with a recent ABC News/Washington Post Presidential Preference Poll finding that Hillary Clinton not only trounces any potential Democratic challenger but also showing her well ahead of specifically-named GOP candidates. It is also consistent with the MSM's past practice of immediately setting out to marginalize candidates who pose a threat to corporate wealth and power.
The "long shot" perception is both a reflection and product of what Prof. Noam Chomsky, in Failed States, described as the "democracy deficit" --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their elected representatives. Long before the Supreme Court handed down its infamous Citizens United decision, Chomsky attributed the "democracy deficit" to the manner in which "elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people."
As reflected by this Washington Post headline from Chris Cillizza --- "Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be president. That’s not the point." --- the 2016 MSM marginalization strategy is already in play. Without waiting to see how the public, itself, would react to a Sanders/Clinton debate, or even see how they'll react to his policy positions when and if they get to hear them, the Post tells its readers to just forget about it.
Sanders countered Cillizza's contention during his April 30 news conference: "We're in this race to win." (See video below)
As Sanders, himself, appears to recognize, it is not Hillary Clinton, but the "democracy deficit," that is his true opponent. "Hillary Clinton is a remarkable woman with an extraordinary history of public service," Sanders said earlier this year, during an address at the National Press Club. "It would not be my job to run against her. It would be my job, if she ran and if I ran, to debate the serious issues facing our country."
In this age of deception, where the oligarchy's PR industry and corporate-owned MSM tirelessly strive for message control, Sanders' effort to bridge the "democracy deficit" by way of a campaign based on "serious issues" is a daunting task. But it's one that, if successful, could not only lead to a Sanders landslide but also to nothing less than a "democratic revolution"...
On today's BradCast, I was joined for the first time by self-described "Congressman With Guts" Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), just after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) formally announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
Did Grayson, who shares many views with Sanders, take the opportunity I offered him to be the first elected Dem to endorse the Senator from Vermont for the 2016 nomination? You'll have to tune in to find out, along with what he thinks of Hillary Clinton and why he says "the sound of Mitch McConnell chortling is as disturbing as any sound you're ever gonna hear in your life". It was a fun, very interesting and quite candid interview, frankly.
I will tell you that Grayson did allege that "we've been hoodwinked" on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which he described as "a farce" and the "death knell for the American middle class" after the "worst economic mismanagement in the history of the planet" over the past 20 years since the passage of NAFTA. But, he also notes that he's not allowed to discuss the specifics of TPP, thanks to "the games the Administration is playing with us and the American public". He does, however, point us towards TradeTreachery.com for what he modestly describes as "the most interesting video you're ever gonna see in your entire life." It was just released today.
Grayson also discusses his fellow Democrats and whether they will finally take the legislative steps necessary to overturn Citizens United, if they are ever able to take back control of the U.S. House and Senate. (He says "yes", but only if one particular Democrat becomes House Speaker. Otherwise, he says, "I don't think we can count on the Democrats" to take the steps necessary to restore what the Supreme Court broke.)
All of that and MUCH more on today's BradCast, including breaking news out of Baltimore, from NASA, and even the once great "Republic of Texas"...
While we'll be posting The BradCast here everyday, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, but to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system and so much more --- now in our TWELFTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...
MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: What's really going on in Baltimore? We discuss the riots and the reason and turn to Fox "News", of all places, for a bit of sanity! (No, really. Thank you, Shep Smith!)
Then, Doug Hughes, the U.S. postal worker who landed his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to bring attention to the need for campaign finance reform in the wake of Citizens United, joins me for a conversation that focuses --- for a change --- on why he actually did it. See his website TheDemocracyClub.org for more.
It's an "orgy of spending," Hughes told me, and he's hoping to see a "nonpartisan, ground swell voter rebellion" against it. He also talked about his cool gyrocopter, what his bosses at the USPS have done since his brush with infamy, and the failure on behalf of our national security apparatus to stop him. The letter he was attempting to deliver to 535 members of the U.S. Congress is now posted here.
Plus: Marriage equality is winning the day even on Fox 'News', but can it win once and for all in the U.S. Supreme Court?...
There were several small, but somewhat noteworthy updates over the past week in the continuing saga of federal Judge Mark Fuller (U.S. District Court, Alabama's Middle District) which we've been covering in great detail here since his arrest last August on charges of beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room last summer. (See links to our long series of coverage at end of this article.)
First, as expected, following the plea deal Fuller struck with the Georgia state court allowing him to avoid trial by attending 24 one-hour-a-week domestic violence counseling sessions and a court supervised drug and alcohol evaluation, all criminal charges have now official been dropped against him and his criminal record is now officially expunged. As we explained in this short video which includes a portion of the chilling 911 call made by his wife Kelli from the Ritz-Carlton hotel on the night of his arrest, as far as the official record is concerned, this incident now "never even happened"...
Though the official criminal charges against him "no longer exist", Fuller --- who maintains his innocence in the matter, as detailed to The BRAD BLOG by his attorney recently --- may still be impeached by Congress. Indeed, impeachment is now the only way Fuller will face real accountability or be removed from his lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
"There should never have been an agreement to expunge his record, nor should he be allowed to remain on the federal bench," says Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), who continued her call for Fuller's impeachment last week. She said she was "deeply disturbed" that charges were dismissed, and continued her persistent calls for impeachment proceedings to be taken up by Congress...
At In These Times, author and journalist Rick Perlstein covers reports from some Chicago voters claiming that they received paper ballots today that were pre-marked for Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) in his runoff election against the more progressive Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D):
Around 10:30 this morning, Sam Dreessen, a 26-year-old unemployed DePaul University graduate (and former In These Times intern) who's been voting in Chicago since 2006, walked into his polling place at Kozminski Community Academy on 54th and Drexel, a mostly black neighborhood in the city's 5th Ward. He approached the election judge at the table and, like thousands of Chicagoans on this mayoral election day, received a paper ballot and a felt-tip pen. But, he says, one of the two blanks-the one you fill in to vote for Mayor Rahm Emanuel-was already filled in. Dreessen, a volunteer for Emanuel's opponent, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, smelled a rat.
"I just said to one of them, the one who gave me the ballot, 'This has already been filled out. I want one that's blank.' And he acted surprised. He said, 'I don't know how that happened.' And he even said there had been other ballots with similar problems.' He gave me one that was blank, and I told him more than once that they should look at all the ballots, the ones that hadn't been handed out yet, to see if this happened."
Dreessen says he was too shocked to even take a picture. "And I thought, 'I don't know, this must be happening to other people.' It just seemed to be so crude."
The Birmingham attorney for U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller says that, despite 911 audio which seems to suggest otherwise, his client "never hit, punched, slapped or kicked" his wife Kelli in an Atlanta hotel room last year. The federal judge was simply defending himself from the "hysterical" rage of his wife who, the attorney now tells The BRAD BLOG, blatantly lied to police about the entire incident before his client was subsequently arrested on charges of domestic battery.
Moreover, Barry Ragsdale tells us, Kelli Fuller was "drunk" when she called 911. He says "slap" sounds heard clearly on the audio tape as she told the 911 dispatcher she was being beaten and needed an ambulance were either an attempt by Judge Fuller's wife to "imitate the sounds of slapping" or just "random background noises produced by someone who was intoxicated and hysterical."
In several emails sent to The BRAD BLOG in recent days, Ragsdale provided the most detailed public defense yet of his client, a lifetime appointee to the federal bench in Alabama's Middle District.
Ragsdale was responding to our queries after we exclusively published the complete 911 call from the domestic violence incident that occurred last August. The audio, obtained from the Atlanta Police Department, appears to contradict remarks given by Ragsdale to reporter Timothy M. Phelps of the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, in which the attorney claimed that, despite the arrest and a police report describing Kelli Fuller's "visible lacerations to her mouth and forehead" and other signs of abuse when officials arrived on the scene, it was actually Judge Fuller, not his second wife Kelli, who was the victim of a physical attack in their Ritz-Carlton hotel room in August of 2014...
The call for the impeachment of U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller is now making its way onto the airwaves in a number of Congressional districts around the country.
The women's rights group UltraViolet, which describes itself as "an online community of over 600,000 women and men who want to take collective action to expose and fight sexism in the public sector, private sector and the media," is now airing radio ads calling for the impeachment of Fuller in the wake of the federal judge's arrest last year on domestic battery charges.
The :30 second spots (posted below) are said to be "airing in GOP house districts in Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, California and Virginia urging members of the [U.S. House] Judiciary Committee to remove Alabama Judge Mark Fuller from the bench for assaulting his wife."
Citing The BRAD BLOG's recent publication of the complete, chilling audio from the 911 call by Fuller's wife Kelli, which seems to contradict new "self-defense" claims being advanced by Fuller's Birmingham attorney Barry Ragsdale, the group argues in a recent mailing to media that "The 911 call makes clear that Judge Mark Fuller is not fit to sit on the bench in Alabama and highlights the need for Congress to take action immediately."
A press release sent out to announce the release of the radio ads, notes that UltraViolet is "sounding the alarm about an Alabama judge who was arrested for assaulting his wife last August but remains on the Federal Bench"...
What we've been referring to of late as the PoliticsofStupid regime that we are all forced to live under since the GOP takeover of both the U.S. House and Senate, is living up to its name once again today.
The Republicans who now control the once-honorable and formerly-esteemed U.S. House Judiciary Committee go full "BuzzFeed" (Plus sexism! Minus amusing!) with this incredibly embarrassing page posted on Wednesday as a "Press Release" in opposition to the President's Executive Actions on immigration.
Here's a partial screenshot...
You'll have to click on it to get the full idea (cuz, ya know, all those are animated "ditzy girl" GIFs are just so delightfully hysterical.)
By way of reminder, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, now led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), is the esteemed body where such things as impeachment of U.S. Presidents and federal judges, etc., are carried out.
So embarrassing. And, frankly, so very dispiriting. Maybe that's the point.
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UPDATE 3/20/2015: Since we published the above yesterday, a few other websites have also begun to notice (and deride) this shameful "press release". Moreover, they've also raised one or two points that we didn't mention here.
And ZDNet, who describes the "press release" as a "new low" even for Congress, also notes that the GIFs in question, all taken from popular films or TV shows, may well be in violation of copyright laws and "anti-piracy laws" that members of this same House Judiciary Committee have been attempting to pass since 2011. Oops.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: No more Mr. Nice Guy: Obama calls out 'shills', takes more new action on climate change; New rules for fossil fuels on public lands; It's official: Winter 2015 the warmest winter on record; PLUS: Solar-powered Germany says its ready for a major solar eclipse....All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): California: $1B drought relief package just the beginning; US has grown a pipeline network by almost a quarter; Chemical lobbyist exposed as author of new bill to regulate industry; US and Chinese companies dominate list of most-polluting coal plants; Rate of climate change to soar by 2020... PLUS: A Texas city pulls plug on fossil fuels with shift to renewables... and much, MUCH more! ...
In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, the attorney of Federal District Judge Mark F. Fuller (11th Circuit, Alabama, Middle District) says Fuller was simply "defending himself" against his wife when she called 911, said she was being beaten, requested an ambulance, and was then found bloodied by police in an Atlanta hotel room in August of 2014.
That claim would appear to be at odds with the available audio evidence from the 911 call, segments of which were aired on MSNBC last year, and since obtained in full by The BRAD BLOG via public records request from the Atlanta Police Department. We publish the audio, in full, below for the first time, as it appears to contradict new claims by Fuller's attorney.
The interview with the LATimes also appears to confirm that the special five-judge panel convened by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to investigate the disturbing incident and make recommendations for action to that Circuit Court's Judicial Council is investigating very similar claims of domestic violence and substance abuse made by Fuller's first wife Lisa during their 2012 divorce proceedings.
According to the paper's Timothy M. Phelps, Fuller's Birmingham attorney "and longtime friend" Barry Ragsdale explained during a lengthy recent interview that the incident last summer which led to the arrest of Fuller at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta began after Fuller's current wife Kelli accused the judge of having an affair with his law clerk. That claim is consistent with the initial police report, though Ragsdale --- who has also dismissed allegations of infidelity and abuse made by Fuller's first wife as little more than "nonsense" and "gossip" --- goes a bit farther in defense of the judge this time...
Why are elected officials not held accountable when they are so demonstrably wrong? Or, worse, why are they treated by the media as if they are serious people, when clearly they are not?
On March 17, 2010, just five days before Obama signed the ACA into law, as Forbes' Dan Diamond reminded us last week, even before the huge new job numbers came in, House Speaker John Boehner reiterated what pretty much every Republican opponent of Obamacare had been reciting for months by that time...