IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: April 26, 1986: the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, 25 years later; Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, six weeks later; Fracking blowout in Pennsylvania; Praying for rain in Texas ... PLUS: Speaker Boehner opens the door to eliminating taxpayer oil subsidies ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Confessions of a climate change denier; An open letter to that conservative climate change convert; Sales of 'green' household products resilient in recession; Playing Politics With Climate Change; For a Few, Focus on Green Products Pays Off; Puzzle Persists for 'Degradeable' Plastics; Stunning Findings in Greenland's Ice Cores; A 21st-century water forecast; Resistance to Fracking, Gas Drilling Rises in TX; BP's criminal negligence exposed; Preliminary Deepwater Horizon Report Rips Transocean; Washington is lying to you about the cause of high gas prices ... PLUS: The Chernobyl Zone: World's Largest Wildlife Refuge? ...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning with Brad Friedman
"This was a decisive election about judicial independence," WI Supreme Court Justice David Prosser said at a press conference in Madison last Monday, declaring victory and explaining his opposition to a recount of the April 5th Wisconsin Supreme Court election.
"The people realized that judges should be much more than partisan politicians who wear black robes. Judges should be impartial in theory and in fact. They should faithfully apply the law without fear, and without favor," he told the assembled media.
However, as an investigation by The BRAD BLOG reveals, there is a stunning gap between the lofty ideals of "independence" espoused by the incumbent Justice as quoted above, and the sordid reality of his own personal record as a hard-Right partisan official in Wisconsin, with the state's GOP caucus, and even during his role as a justice on the state's highest court.
It is a reality, well-documented through court records and other sources, finding Prosser and his former Republican colleagues in the WI Assembly enmeshed in a criminal scheme to utilize state employees and resources at taxpayer expense in order to finance and organize WI GOP political campaigns. A reality which includes an astounding legal filing by this same sitting Supreme Court Justice in which he not only acted as an advocate for the accused, but even confessed to his own participation in the alleged crime.
In short, it's a reality which led The BRAD BLOG to wonder whether Prosser was truly better characterized as an 'independent' jurist, as per his self-description, or a partisan criminal in a robe...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's hard to believe it's only been a year: Our not-at-all fond look back over 87 days of the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf, and its aftermath ... PLUS: In honor of Earth Day, a message from the past about our shared future ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Google invests $100 million in OR wind; Massive fracking blowout at PA natural gas well; Big Break for Big Oil leads to larger burden for taxpayers; Watch Van Jones' inspiring keynote speech at Power Shift 2011; TX burning 'from border to border'; Chevron mines solar energy at mine waste dump; Report: poisonous chemicals injected into the ground; More than 3,200 Gulf wells unplugged; Charles Manson does his best to kill green credibility; Cape Wind approved to begin construction; Koch Industries Buying Ads To Refute News Stories; Supreme Court skeptical of allowing global-warming case to move forward ... PLUS: Hypocrisy: Rupert Murdoch is totally against the global warming he told you not to believe in ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California doubles down on clean energy; Obama vows to continue the fight as well in budget speech ... PLUS: Renewables vs. Nukes: More jobs in renewables, so why hasn't the President mentioned that? ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Should kids be exposed to more or less toxic pollution?' Loss of penguins tied to loss of krill; Shooting badgers to be legal under plans for 'big society cull'; BP executives brace for a stormy shareholders' meeting; Times Square air cleaner now that cars are gone; Iowa's topsoil washing away; Australia: Energy giants face new tax bill; Brazil ethanol prices surge 65% in one month; Mother Earth to be given rights equal to humans; Study: Algae Could Replace 17% of U.S. Oil Imports; MN to pass law banning undercover farm videos; Studies begin to reveal effects of Gulf Oil Spill; Coal co. agrees to install pollution controls; Meet the Gulf 'Spillionaires' ... PLUS: Surprise!: Leaked talking points show oil companies don't give a frack about the truth ....
Californians are all too familiar with the disturbing image now playing out in DC.
Radical-right ideologues demand extension of the Bush tax cuts, retention of corporate subsidies, deregulation, a squandering of public funds on privatization schemes and pouring what is left of the National Treasury down the economic black hole that is war and the military-industrial complex. Hypocritically, they not only point to the massive deficits they themselves have erected, but hold a gun to the head of government, threatening to shut it down absent drastic concessions designed to extract a pound of flesh from those who can least afford cuts in government services as they target the last vestiges of the New Deal safety net.
In California, a small minority of fiscally irresponsible, radical right-wing ideologues has employed the "give-us-what-we-demand-or-we-shut-down-the-government" tactic for over a decade, with devastating results.
The state's new (again) Governor Jerry Brown (D) would have done well to have read Paul Krugman's The Great Unravelingbefore he re-entered office last January.
Krugman aptly described the radical right that, in 2000, seized the reigns of the federal government as a "revolutionary power" which does not accept the legitimacy of our democratic system and which cannot be expected to negotiate in good faith.
Three months into fruitless negotiations, Brown recently came to realize that even though the state faces a catastrophic $26 billion deficit, CA Republicans would never allow the state's voters to decide whether to extend the temporary taxes on income, sales and vehicles to help cover the short fall.
After negotiations broke down last month, Brown said: "Each and every Republican legislator I've spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever-changing list of collateral demands....Republicans demand that out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion-dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do."
While the Governor has openly considered by-passing the Republicans in order to permit direct democracy in which Californians themselves would vote on a temporary tax extension, that approach, even if successful, falls well short of the fundamental problem --- that the current 2/3 vote required to pass revenue legislation in the state's legislature permits an irresponsible minority of right wing ideologues to hold the state hostage as it carries out its democracy-destroying and economically unsustainable, privatization agenda...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: More U.S. Chamber of Commerce propaganda to support the GOP v. EPA in the House and Senate; Clean energy v. Oil in the budget shutdown showdown... PLUS: Signs of stabilizing at the Fukushima nuclear plant, as yet another earthquake rocks Japan's devastated coastline ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate change breaks NASA temperature chart; Dangerous new antibiotic-resistant water bug found in India; OK return to Dust Bowl days?; TX worsening drought devastating wheat crops; GOP allows agribusiness to dump pesticides in water; Solar Costs May Already Rival Coal; Canceled Coal Plant's Aging Parts; Right-wing Group Writes Anti-EPA Bills For State Legislatures; What corporations really mean by profit and loss; Should 'smart grid' let smart meters make decisions for consumers?; Clean-Energy Investment Is Placed at Risk as UN Climate Negotiations Stall; Governments urged to move forward at UN climate meeting; Two Major Enviro Groups Join Forces ... PLUS: Boom-and-bust fossil fuels and the promise of cheap electricity ....
While prepping for tonight's Mike Malloy Show (which I will be busy guest hosting all week), here are just a few of the items which caught my eye so far today...in no particular order...
Record amounts of cash being spent by labor unions and the (supposedly grass-roots) "Tea Party" on tomorrow's Supreme Court election in Wisconsin, as the race between the unabashedly pro-Walker Justice David Prosser and Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg has turned into a proxy battle between the two clashing ideologies right now in WI. A defeat of Prosser would tilt the court's 4-3 majority from Right-leaning to not Right-leaning. The race is also seen as a bellwether for upcoming recall elections of GOP state Senators likely to occur there in the near future, as Ernie Canning reported on earlier today at The BRAD BLOG.
Nuclear triage. Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan are dumping 11.5 tons of "low-level" radioactive water into the ocean to make room in filled storage containers for the more radioactive water leaking from reactor Unit 2. They say they have "no choice," but to dump that water (with radiation levels 100 times over the legal limit) as they must continue injecting new water to cool the plant's four crippled reactors, even as the radiated water floods out. Over the weekend, workers were unsuccessful in their attempt to use polymer, sawdust and newspaper (BP "JunkShot" anyone?!) to plug an 8 inch crack in a flooded tunnel at Unit 2 said to be gushing highly radioactive water, at 100,000 times legal levels, into the ocean.
A sweeping new election law in Florida is working its way through the GOP-controlled state legislature along predictably partisan lines, just in time for the 2012 Presidential election there. Some of the proposed changes will make it much more difficult for non-partisan voter registration groups, such as the League of Women Voters, to do their work, and will likely lead to a huge increase in "provisional" (and, therefore, frequently uncounted) ballots. Leon County's highly-respected Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho has called the bill "a travesty".
Former U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley --- recently forced to step down for referring to the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning as "stupid" --- compares WikiLeaks to the New York Times. The paper's Editor-in-Chief, who has been bashing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks themselves of late, even though the "paper of record" has written hundreds of stories based on WikiLeaks documents, will not be happy. Good. (Coverage at RAW STORY courtesy of BRAD BLOG alum David Edwards.)
Even Republican state Senators in Maine are beginning to become uncomfortable with the radical statements and extremist behavior of the state's new GOP Governor Paul LePage and are asking him to "tone it down". Beginning to see the writing on the wall, boys?
While it should hardly be necessary, given the extent to which the GOP's billionaire-funded direct assault on workers' rights has exposed the Orwellian deceptions of the so-called 'Tea Party' movement, there are times when the adage, "sex sells," seems unavoidable, especially when it involves exposing the vast gap between the right-wing's professed "family values" and "fiscal responsibility" and a reality that includes infidelity and an eager willingness to squander public funds on friends and the billionaire sociopaths who fund their campaigns.
Last year, Wisconsin Republican state Senator Randy Hopper left his wife to live with a young Republican political operative. Last month, as Governor Scott Walker unveiled legislation calling for deep cuts in state workers' salaries and collective bargaining rights, Hopper's mistress was hired by the state on the advice of Scott Walker's cabinet as a "communications liaison." Further, her salary is 35% higher than her predecessor's.
Randy Hopper is one of the most vulnerable Republicans facing recall. He is a freshman, and only won his seat by 163 votes. A poll conducted by Daily Kos and PPP shows Hopper losing to a generic Democrat 49%-44%.
Mitchell denounced the salacious allegations as a "smear", though he offered no evidence in support of that claim to counter what appears to be an accurate account of Hopper's infidelities and the questionable hiring of his girlfriend, the GOP operative Valerie Cass, by the new administration of Gov. Scott Walker.
While there is always a legitimate question as to whether marital infidelity should disqualify an individual from holding public office, here the issue arises in the context of allegations of nepotism and hypocrisy, not to mention the issue of whether the Fond du Lac Republican could lawfully cast a vote opposing his own recall, now that, as his estranged wife admits, he no longer resides in his own district. He lives with Cass elsewhere.
This new sex scandal adds to a powerful, substantive recall message which has gained a great deal of momentum over the last several weeks...
If you’re a climate hawk, or even a climate hobbyist, this graph should look familiar --- it’s the warming trend over the last 100-odd years. Except the guy who busted this out at the House climate science hearing yesterday was brought in by the Republicans to debunk global warming. (The black line is his data.) Haha, whoops!
This graph is the result of physicist Richard Muller’s project to get maximally accurate temperature data. Climate change deniers assumed that his skepticism about existing temperature data meant he was on their side (well, that and he’s also been spreading misinformation about the “Climategate” emails). The Kochs were so convinced of this that they donated $150,000 to his lab --- which makes it all the more delightful that Muller is now all “thanks, suckers, here’s the same data everyone else already had.” (Okay, he put it like this: “We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups. … I believe that some of the most worrisome biases are less of a problem than I had previously thought.” But you know what he meant.)
Muller was one of the only scientists the Republicans brought in --- among their five experts were an economist, a lawyer, and a professor of marketing. But hey, when there are so few scientists who are actually on your side, you have to go with what you’ve got. And evidently, even that doesn’t always work.
His remarkable display of contempt for the democratic aspirations of working class Americans comes as little surprise, unfortunately. Mica, during his time in office, has received more than $620,000 in campaign contributions from the airline industry.
The Mica clause would block a rule adopted by the federal National Mediation Board which, according to the Communications Workers of America permitted airline and railroad workers to achieve "union representation based on a majority of votes cast, in line with the National Labor Relations Act rules governing union representation across all other industries." Instead of accepting the rules of a democratically held election of workers, Mica wants to count those who are eligible to vote, but who fail to do so, as votes against unionization.
Over the dissent of three Republicans and every Democratic member of the Committee, the House Transportation Committee rejected "an amendment by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) to strip Mica's anti-union language from the bill."
Mica's new definition of "democracy" underscores the observations we set forth in "Gov. Walker's Wisconsin 'Union Busting' Exposes 'Tea Party' Scam, Duped Americans" as to how so many working class Americans have been "taken in by the lies and deceptions of billionaire sociopaths, like oil-baron David Koch...[whose] aim is not liberty, freedom, and jobs but American fascism, corporatocracy, and the 'eternal subjugation of the common man.'"
That subjugation flows from the disparity of power that accompanies a growing disparity of wealth, which, in turn, correlates with the demise of unions in the U.S...
The GOP voter fraud epidemic continues unabated. The latest alleged felon? Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China, former Utah Governor --- and potential 2012 GOP Presidential candidate --- Jon Huntsman Jr.
Jon Huntsman Jr. is still registered to vote as a resident of the Utah governor’s mansion even through he resigned his office some 19 months ago to become the U.S. ambassador to China.
In fact, Huntsman voted by absentee ballot for last year’s general election using the state-owned mansion on South Temple as his Utah residence — months after Gov. Gary Herbert settled into the historic building and Huntsman purchased a home in Washington, D.C.
Of course, Huntsman is a Republican, so different "voter fraud" laws apply to them, in general, than to other Americans.
"It is generally illegal for voters to cast ballots using a residential address where they no longer reside," the Tribune notes before giving Huntsman a pass. "But state and federal law seem to back Huntsman’s ability to still vote using the governor’s mansion as his home because that was his last address before he left for Beijing to serve as an employee of the U.S. government."
Despite that, as the very same article notes, "Last June, Huntsman purchased a $3.6 million home in a tony D.C. neighborhood." So while he may have had cause to specify his last U.S. address as Utah prior to last June, one wonders why officials are overlooking the fact that he owned a D.C. home well prior to last November's general election, when he voted using a registration at a residence where he hadn't lived for more than a year and a half.
The smear is amplified by the propagandists at Fox "News." It reverberates throughout the right-wing echo chamber (which has usurped the majority of our public airwaves to bolster their agenda). The smear is then repeated by pliant mainstream corporate media, which will, at best, offer up a belated, chiseling, inaccurate "correction" --- too little and too late to undo the damage wrought by a Democratic "opposition" which timidly seeks to distance itself from the smeared as they scurry to hand the hard-right what it seeks (e.g., a bill stripping ACORN or NPR of public funds, or the forced resignation of the targeted individual).
There is no doubt but that some of the corporate media complicity derives from common financial interests. As Bill Moyers observed in Moyers on America, "media giants...exalt commercial values at the expense of democratic value...squeezing out the journalism that tries to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth."
But there is another issue, magnified by two recent events: (1) The matter-of-fact acceptance of the prompt resignation of two NPR officials over a secretly taped and deceptively-edited video hit piece in which two of convicted federal criminal and Republican con-man James O'Keefe's flunkies posed as members of a Muslim organization seeking to help fund NPR, and (2) The deafening corporate media silence over an outrageously racist remark by a right-wing Kansas state representative who compared "illegal immigrants" to "feral pigs"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Crisis in Japan: Compounding natural disaster, humanitarian disaster, and spiraling nuclear disaster --- desperate measures to hold off a nuclear nightmare ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA moves to curb toxic mercury pollution; Battle-proof wind farms survive Japan disasters; Op-ed: 'Save US children from toxic mercury'; End of cheap food in US?; Koch Bros: property rights only for polluters; Gov. Kasich (R) wants fracking in OH state parks; Sec. Chu: Clean energy puts U.S. ahead; PA: Coal Exec Given Vast Environmental Authority; WV considering geothermal future; Google backs biofuel startup; If President Obama calls it safe, watch out; Germany's Merkel plans faster shift to clean energy ... PLUS: Irish scientists help Guinness go green...
But one thing is clear: Japan's "Big Government Tyranny" --- the type Republicans in DC are trying to kill, as opposed to the type they are maniacally expanding in Wisconsin --- saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives last night.
Thanks to some of the strictest government regulations, building codes, and tsunami monitor and warning systems in the world, Japan averted what would likely have been an even far worse catastrophe, as the New York Times noted earlier today...
From seawalls that line stretches of Japan’s coastline, to skyscrapers that sway to absorb earthquakes, to building codes that are among the world’s most rigorous, no country may be better prepared to withstand earthquakes than Japan.
Had any other populous country suffered the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, tens of thousands of people might already be counted among the dead. So far, Japan’s death toll is in the hundreds, although it is certain to rise.
Over the years, Japan has spent billions of dollars developing the most advanced technology against earthquakes and tsunamis.
Here is some extraordinary video of high-rise buildings during last night's quake, built to those strict and tyrannically job-crushing government regulations, swaying as they are designed to, saving the lives of the occupants in the middle of the work day, rather than collapsing, as they might have elsewhere...
And yes, as Slate's Dave Weigel points out today, part of the GOP's proposed spending cuts are to our nation's disaster monitoring and relief systems which, of course, steal the freedom and liberty of our citizens to needlessly die...
The continuing resolution passed by the GOP House, the one that just failed in the Senate, reduces funding for the federal agencies that monitor and react to disasters.
The CR is here. According to the House Appropriation Committee's summary of the bill, the CR funds Operations, Research and Facilities for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association with $454.3 million less than it got in FY2010; this represents a $450.3 million cut from what the president's never-passed FY2011 budget was requesting. The National Weather Service, of course, is part of NOAA --- its funding drops by $126 million. The CR also reduces funding for FEMA management by $24.3 million off of the FY2010 budget, and reduces that appropriation by $783.3 million for FEMA state and local programs.
Democrats did attempt to add more money to NOAA's budget. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., offered an amendment to the CR that would have directed "no less than $710,641,000 to the National Weather Service Local Warnings and Forecasts." The amendment was one of several Democratic spending proposals that was found to be out of order, and not voted on.
CBS reports: "The GOP budget plan that passed through the House last month aimed to cut funding for a tsunami warning center that issued a slew of warnings around Japan's devastating earthquake."
As to the nuclear plants the GOP (and Obama) are pushing in this country, we'll just hope the "small radiation leak from a nuclear reactor whose cooling system was knocked by Friday's massive earthquake" is as "small" as Reuters is currently reporting. The U.S. Air Force has reportedly delivered "coolant" to the plant today.
Four nuclear plants were taken off line last night following the quake. "Nuclear emergencies" were declared for two of them, with little more information given. The one of major concern right now is the Fukushima plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo where, last night, officials were cryptically saying that attempts to cool the plant were "not going as planned".
Nuclear Energy for America: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Herman adds Kyodo is reporting "This suggests radioactive steam could spread around the facility."
Really not good.
UPDATE 6:24pm PT:Okay, this seems to be getting bad enough, as new news has come in throughout the day, that the nuclear emergency here clearly deserves its own item. I've moved the previous UPDATES on this item, and new ones beyond it, to this article devoted to the nuke developments.