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.
What do GOP superstar Ann Coulter, the head of the GOP's California voter registration firm Mark Anthony Jacoby, and, as of yesterday, Indiana's newly elected GOP Secretary of State Charlie White all have in common? Unlike the four-decade old community organization ACORN, each of the Republicans appear to have committed voter fraud and/or voter registration fraud.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Eastern Cougar goes extinct; Climate activist Tim DeChristopher goes on trial for fighting to save public lands; "Slash & Burn" Republicans cut the EPA, despite the trillions in dollars it saves; PLUS: Radio. Active. Water. Frack that! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Navy Secretary says alt. fuels will save money and lives; Chevron employee: routine dumping of toxic chemicals in Ecuador; EPA Extends GHG Reporting Deadline; China's 5 year plans for green growth; Google backs climate-change insurance start-up; China faces up to 'terrible' state of its ecosystems; Underwater kite-turbine may turn tides; Combining solar PV with Thermal; CA salmon to triple this year?; Salazar says 'show me the money'; Conservatives oppose climate adaptation, too; Australia: farms "particularly vulnerable" to climate change; Microgrid electricity onthe rise; Global Public Health Implications of Electricity and Coal Consumption; Schwarzenegger calls for Tunisian-style green revolution; Charles Koch hypocritically blasts "Crony Capitalism" ... PLUS: How Koch Industries makes billions by demanding bailouts and taxpayer subsidies ....
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Dems call for probe in U.S. Chamber of Commerce plot to target citizens like us; Indictment in WV coal mine disaster investigation; Deepwater drilling permits resume in the Gulf, but that's still not good enough for Republicans; Climate scientists in fake 'ClimateGate Scandal' vindicated --- AGAIN; PLUS: More on the WI GOP power play to privatize Wisconsin's power plants ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): NYT "fracking" bombshell: toxic & radioactive water dumped in rivers; US v. Tim DeChristopher, climate activist; House Democrats launch investigation into 'fracking' on public lands; Anonymous turns firepower against Billionaire Koch Bros.; 80% of US antibiotics go to factory farm animals; Ad Age slams Chevron ad campaign; House Republicans bring back styrofoam; SunChips tries again with quieter bag; Supreme Court halts NYC's push for hybrid taxis; NYC classroom scores 100% PCBs; Soaring oil prices, a popular argument for just about anything; BP fund lawyer to refuse 100k Gulf spill disaster claims, while BP asks judge to dismiss them; Australia stuck with desalination white elephant; Skyrocketing water bills anger GA residents; Glenn Beck says 350.org is part of a communist plot (and Bill McKibben's response); Arctic sea ice at new record low ... PLUS: China leadership issues stunning warning on climate & growth...
"This is not a budget issue," the policeman speaking to the cheering protesters jammed inside of the capital rotunda in Madison, WI, shouted this weekend, "This is a civil rights issue!"
"Mr. Walker, if you are listening to me, let me tell you something," he continued through the bullhorn as the crowd rallied, "We know pretty well now who you work for. Let me tell you who we work for. We work for all of these people!"
While a wide swath of Wisconsin society, entailing not only both public and private union members, but students, doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers (like the one mentioned above), and fire fighters have swarmed the streets and public buildings of Madison as part of a mass movement rivaling those we've recently seen on the streets of Cairo, there is one sector of our society who should be especially angry with the Wisconsin branch of Corporate America's wholly-owned, public subsidiary, GOP, Inc.
It is the uninformed and misinformed working class stiffs, aka "Tea Partiers," who should be most disturbed by the scam they've been subjected to over the past two years (and many more). It is they who were taken in by the lies and deceptions of billionaire sociopaths, like oil-baron David Koch of the infamous Koch Industries. Koch's aim is not liberty, freedom, and jobs but American fascism, corporatocracy, and the "eternal subjugation of the common man"...
The scene last night, as the Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly suddenly, and without warning --- quite literally in the middle of the night --- announced and took a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting "Budget Repair Bill," followed by chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" from Democrats inside the chamber after it passed was remarkable.
As it was happening, I was reminded of all of those "Tea Partiers" last year who, despite a full year of committee hearings in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, mark-ups, negotiations, changes and concessions in hopes of bringing Republicans on board with the health care insurance reform bill that had otherwise been discussed and debated for at least a full year prior as well during the Presidential campaign, complained that the bill had been "crammed down the throats" of the American people in defiance of popular protests.
Well, in case you're wondering, Tea Partiers, this is what cramming a bill down throats in defiance of popular protests actually looks like.
This is also what it looks like when Big Government actually votes to take away freedoms from American citizens --- the other matter you folks pretended to once care about during the Health Care bill debate. So why aren't you joining with the protesters in Wisconsin now?
Slate's Dave Weigel, who was in WI's capital as the vote went down last night around 2am, explains what happened and offers this remarkable video...
MADISON, Wisc. --- The debate in the Assembly appeared to be a few hours away from ending when Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer interrupted their speeches and called the vote. It was gaveled in with lightning speed, less than the standard 15 seconds --- it was so fast that 28 members did not even vote on it, some out of protest but some failing to reach their buzzers. There were 51 ayes and 17 nays, and the nays included Republicans Dean Kaufert, Lee Nerison, Richard Spanbauer, and Travis Tranel.
Democrats exploded as soon as the vote was called, yelling "Cowards!" and "Shame!" at the Republicans filing out of the room.
The bill moves to the Senate, which cannot take it up until and unless 14 missing Democrats return. In a short speech to protesters, Democratic Rep. Cory Mason joked that he was "never so happy that we have two chambers."
We previously covered the WI protests by highlighting Rachel Maddow's analysis of the Walker/GOP bill in which she framed the debate as "Billionaires vs. Bake Sales: an existential fight for the survival of the Democratic Party" due to the legislation's blatant goal of busting the state's public unions in hopes of being the first domino to destroy the unions in full, in advance of the 2012 election.
The prank call from the Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy --- claiming to be "David Koch," one of Walker's billionaire funders --- further underscores the GOP hope that Wisconsin will be "the first domino" in this latest attempt to destroy the politically powerful unions all together. Murphy's phone call to Walker as "David Koch" --- in which the Governor admits to having considered planting "troublemakers" among the peaceful protesters converging over the past week on the capital in Madison, follows in full below...
A full two days after The BRAD BLOG exclusively broke the story of allegations by Yvonne Smith Segars, the chief of the New Jersey Public Defender's office, charging Gov. Chris Christie with "bullying tactics" and violations of state law, as well as both the NJ and U.S. Constitutions, in trying to muscle her out of office and inappropriately attempting to take over hiring there, a NJ newspaper has finally covered the story as well. It is the only one to do so, so far, to our knowledge.
[T]he issue isn’t Segars. The issue isn’t jobs Christie can’t fill because Democrats won’t confirm his nominations. The issue is the independence and integrity of an office that stands between the power of the state and the powerlessness of the poor.
Other than Braun's report today, and our own from Tuesday, there appears to be virtually no coverage of this story anywhere else, even as it seems to be a very important one --- particularly given the seriousness of the charges leveled by Segars in the letter she sent to the Governor on Monday (linked in our original report); the fact that her attorney has gone on record calling the matter a "power grab," comparing Christie to a "king" who has "tampered with the independence of the judiciary and...the Public Defender" meriting impeachment by the state legislature; and especially as it involves allegations of strong-arming and potential law-breaking by a quickly-rising GOP superstar said to be a future Presidential contender.
But, then again, he's a Republican. So, there ya go. Nothing to see here? Knock, knock, New York Times! Anybody still covering actual news in your NJ Bureau next door?