IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly tornado outbreak rips across the South, but safer building codes still stalled by lawmakers; Good news for those who breathe: Supreme Court upholds EPA's cross-state pollution standard; PLUS: Happy 60th Birthday, solar energy! Look what we dug up to celebrate!... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Six grassroots environmental activists win prestigious Goldman Prize; Miscarriage Risk Rises With BPA Exposure: Study; Exxon’s $900 Billion Arctic Prize at Risk After Ukraine; BP doesn't want to pay for oil spill research; Capping Chernobyl - literally; New sweeping reforms to reduce coal mine dust, black lung disease ... PLUS: Pork prices spike as pig virus wipes out over 10% of nation's hogs ... and much, MUCH more! ...
He makes a very cute campaign video. Please watch it above. It's quite clever. But it would be nice if California Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman, one of two Democratic candidates vying for the job in the upcoming June 3rd primary, had a better understanding of the electronic voting systems he'd be overseeing as SoS.
I had originally intended to run the video above, because it's smart and fun, along with a throw-away remark expressing the wish that Cressman understood more about the very technical concerns about the security and verifiable of e-voting system --- particularly since the way CA deals with them has such a sweeping effect on the same systems as used across the country.
As a former Common Cause executive, Cressman has made his important fight to overturn the Supreme Court's abhorrent Citizens United ruling central to his campaign, as highlighted in the animated campaign video above. That's fine, but the office of Sec. of State, particularly in CA, requires much more.
Rather than offer that throw-away remark, however, I thought I'd see if Cressman had learned more about electronic voting systems since he and I briefly chatted in person at an event last summer, just as he was originally entering the race.
According to comments he sent in response to a recent query from The BRAD BLOG, while Cressman's general knowledge of the systems seems to have improved since we last spoke, and while he remains an ardent opponent of the madness of Internet Voting and some of the most unsecure methods of precinct-based voting, his understanding of the concerns about the vulnerability of e-voting remains troubling --- at least for a Sec. of State candidate in the nation's most populous state...
I was proud to have the 2014 Green Party candidate for CA Sec. of State David Curtis (in photo on the left, not smiling), as my first guest this week on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast. While he and I disagree on a few important things (like Internet Voting, which he still hopes for, despite our Twitter conversation last month), there's one thing we certainly agree on: It was outrageous that he was excluded from today's SoS candidates debate held by the Sacramento Press Club. That, despite the fact that he recently polled higher than two of the candidates who were invited to participate.
[CORRECTION: On air I said that the CA statewide primary was June 2 this year. In fact, it's on Tuesday, June 3. The deadline for voter registration by mail for the primary is May 19th. You can register online here. Apologies for the error!]
As my second guest this week, I was also proud to welcome back investigative journalist Jason Leopold on the heels of his Guardian interview with Dr. James Elmer Mitchell (in photo on the right, smiling), one of the central architects of the Bush/Cheney-era CIA torture program. The interview was Mitchell's first since turning the skills he acquired as the chief psychologist at a U.S. Air Force survival school --- where U.S. troops were trained in how to avoid false confessions and propaganda under enemy torture --- into a program to use torture techniques to extract...the truth(?)...from Al Qaeda prisoners after 9/11. While we aired a few never-before-aired clips from Leopold's interview with Mitchell, there are more now available right here.
The candidate polling in third place in that survey, however, Green Party candidate David Curtis, is not invited to participate and he's none too happy about it.
Two Democratic candidates, State Sen. Alex Padilla and former Common Cause official Derek Cressman, one Republican candidate, Pete Peterson, as well as former Republican operative Dan Schnur, now running as an independent, have been invited to attend, but Curtis was not, despite out-polling both Cressman and Schnur in the April survey.
Curtis, says he only just learned of the scheduled debate a week ago. "I only even knew about the event because one of the other candidates Tweeted about it," he explained to The BRAD BLOG via email.
His legal representative, Gautam Dutta of Business, Energy, and Election Law, PC, fired off a 2-page letter [PDF] over the weekend to the SPC President, Secretary and Treasurer demanding that Curtis be included in the debate, and charging that his exclusion "violates federal law governing tax-exempt groups."
For their part, the SPC has, so far, failed to explain the criteria used to invite candidates to participate, though they did send us a statement claiming that Curtis, after learning about the debate and his exclusion from it, "began a tirade of insulting and threatening social media posts about our organization," and "became belligerent and rude, making a conversation impossible" during a phone call with the group's program director...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: One year since the deadly West, TX fertilizer explosion: has anything changed?; New 'habitable' planet discovered!; Environmental justice: air pollution highest in minority neighborhoods; March 2014 was 4th warmest ever recorded; PLUS: 'Bombshell' study ties record CA drought, cool weather in East directly to human-caused global warming... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): UN climate report summary censored by governments around the world; Monsanto herbicide found in human breast milk; VT poised to label GMO foods; Methane leaks from natural gas wells up to 1000% higher than estimates; Transmission for renewable energy is cheaper than natural gas pipelines; Spread of slavery linked to climate change; Is Gulf cleaned up or not? BP says yes, Coast Guard says no ... PLUS: Power plants lose legal bid to douse you with mercury ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Rightwing Heartland Institute says 'climate change will be good for you!'; Russia threatens to cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine, Europe; PLUS: Attack of the Tumbleweeds! (No, really!)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Could El Nino take the edge off of CA drought?; Austism 'triggered in womb' by environmental factors; CA salmon hitch a ride to the ocean; NC sides with Duke Energy over coal ash dumps; Restoring the CO River Delta, if only for a few weeks; Weather-related blackouts have doubled since 2003 ... PLUS: Uncharted territory: highest CO2 levels in 800,000 years ... and much, MUCH more! ...
On Thursday I was invited to discuss the issue with Ian Levitt of the Daily Report, the afternoon drive time show on KTNF, Minnesota's great Progressive AM950. Minnesota now joins the growing list of places where legislatures are considering a ban on vaping in public spaces because...well, I guess because they want more people to keep smoking rather than quitting via the non-smoking alternative of vaping. (I'm sure there must be some other reason --- and we discussed that a bit during the show --- but whatever that reason is, as is the case here in Los Angeles, it sure isn't based on science or public health benefits, as my interview with L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, who sponsored and voted for the ban here, made very clear a few weeks ago!)
It's time that Progressives (not to mention Democrats, but I don't necessarily hold out much hope for them) get on the right side of this issue. Here's my conversation about e-cigs and ill-considered bans against them, with Levitt yesterday...
To his great credit, according to the Star Tribune, MN's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has signalled the state's proposed ban goes "too far". So the bill has been sent back to committee in the state Senate.
"Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children's ability to buy e-cigarettes and to keep the product out of schools, but he would likely oppose making them subject to the indoor air law," the paper reports. "Dayton told the Star Tribune that he's not convinced there is definitive evidence that secondhand vapor poses a danger similar to secondhand smoke."
Here in Los Angeles, while the City Council voted to ban e-cig use like cigarettes, in public spaces such as parks, beaches, restaurants, bars, clubs, work spaces etc., Mayor Eric Garcetti has yet to approve the new ordinance. He can be contacted here, if you'd like to ring in with your thoughts on the new ban which is sure to make it harder for smokers to vape and, therefore, to quit smoking entirely.
If you have any questions about the effectiveness of e-cigs, feel free to ignore my own testimonial (vaping has allowed me to stop smoking immediately after decades of being a smoker) and take a look at some of the almost identical testimonials from former smokers in that Star Tribune article I linked to previously on the Minnesota ban now being considered.
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"...
I'm told I handled this morning's 6:30am earthquake very well. I remember it, if just barely. Half dream, half decisive action!...Or so I'm told. Then, back to dreaming until waking up later and confirming that it wasn't actually a dream.
Some of the local TV news anchors here, who were on air and on camera during the moment that the 4.4 magnitude temblor struck, handled it better than others.
Here's our local CBS affiliate in action as "disaster" struck...
Contrast the CBS-LA team's fairly calm response with that of the two anchors who were live on Tribune-owned CW affiliate KTLA at the time, particular the award-winningly hilarious reaction of Chris Schauble on the right, caught on tape for all of posterity...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Battle lines drawn in contentious U.S. Senate hearing on Keystone XL; Hottest winter on record for California; China is declaring war --- on pollution; Drilling boom creating huge drilling waste problem; PLUS: Secretary of Energy Moniz cites a boom in solar and wind ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Texas: 'cheapest solar power deal ever seen'; Utility death spiral accelerates in Germany; US risks national blackout even in small-scale attack; NJ moves to shut down Tesla; Officials shut down fracking wells due to quakes; 18 Ohio coal plants operating without permits; Is this plant the future of 'clean coal'?; Asian carp eggs found as far north as Wisconsin; State Dept vastly overestimated oil-by-rail in Keystone XL report ... PLUS: Climate science predicted California drought ten years ago ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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! ...
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.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hundreds arrested at White House --- again --- protesting Keystone XL pipeline; EPA moves to block controversial Alaska mine; New smog standards reduce pollution from tailpipes (and save lives, too); Ancient virus resurrected in the Arctic; PLUS: Unrest in Ukraine exposes energy security vulnerability for Europe... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Energy CEO: Climate change is real, driven by humans; Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada's resource agenda: documents; Flood damage to rise fivefold in Europe; Climate change is preventing ocean heat from escaping in Antarctica; Feds shocked at NC oversight of Duke Energy coal ash ponds; US organic farmers see increasing GMO contamination of their crops; BPA-free plastics may not be any safer for children ... PLUS: Apple CEO's renewable energy 'controversy' underscores need for government mandates ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The Green Party's candidate for California Secretary of State this year is a strong proponent of Internet Voting. David Curtis, who was also the Green's 2010 candidate for Governor in Nevada, is now running to replace CA's term-limited Democratic Sec. of State Debra Bowen and he's staking out a position that contradicts computer scientists and security experts who warn that online voting cannot be done securely.
Recently, I had a "conversation" with Curtis on Twitter about his advocacy for Internet Voting, after Steven Dorst, an election integrity advocate who follows The BRAD BLOG on Twitter, responded to a tweet of Curtis' declaring his support for an optional "online method of voting".
My enlightening conversation with Curtis follows in full below.
As with electronic touch-screen voting, which is 100% unverifiable in any form, even when done securely --- if there is even a way to measure such things (and virtually all computer security experts have told us for years that there isn't) --- Internet Voting can never been done in such a way that the citizenry can know that its been done securely. Thus, no matter how "secure", Internet Voting is ultimately a threat to confidence in elections and, along with it, representative democracy in the U.S.
Nonetheless, Curtis, like at least one other candidate in this year's SoS race in California, disagrees. He strongly advocates in favor of Internet Voting...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Natural gas methane leaks found to be 50% higher than EPA estimates; CO passes first-ever emissions regulations for oil & gas industry; Mississippi River shut down by oil spill; 2014 was hottest Winter Olympics ever; PLUS: ExxonMobil's CEO says fracking is fine for your backyard --- but not for his... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hog factories poisoning Iowa's drinking water; Enbridge tar sands pipeline had 35 unreported spills; Small volcanoes tamping down atmospheric warming; CNN: Why are we still 'debating' climate change?; Legal setback for Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska; Supreme Court justices question EPA emissions authority; IPCC: Climate impacts 'very evident', 'we are not prepared' ... PLUS: Global Shift to Clean Energy No Longer 'Theoretical' ... and much, MUCH more! ...