Missouri's Democratic Governor Jay Nixon had an opportunity to encourage people to quit smoking. He didn't take it. In fact, he actually made the choice to help encourage people to continue smoking, despite the fact the deadly habit kills nearly half a million people in the U.S. alone each year.
On Monday, the Governor vetoed Senate Bill 841. While the legislation would have restricted the sale of nicotine vaping products such as e-cigarettes to minors, and required sellers to receive a license from the state, it also exempted the non-lethal devices and products --- which are quickly becoming very popular as a method to quit smoking --- from existing laws and taxes levied against harmful tobacco products.
"This bill appears to be nothing more than a thinly disguised and cynical attempt to exempt e-cigarettes from taxes and regulations protecting public health," Nixon said in his veto message.
This sort of dangerous short-sightedness, unfortunately, is not unusual for Democrats, of late. It also flies in the face of both science and common sense...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Republicans attack Obama EPA's proposed CO2 emissions standards... but they were FOR emissions cuts before they were against them; Good news for endangered wolves; PLUS: Los Angeles oil spill exposes gaping hole in pipeline oversight ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Pessimist Ezra Klein's 7 reasons America will fail on climate change; G7 leaders back 2015 climate deal to build on U.S. momentum; Report: faulty blowout preventer, corporate culture at fault in BP oil disaster; Court rejects BP suit to avoid paying federal fines and damages for Gulf spill; Corporate spies infiltrated Australia anti-coal group; CA fracking moratorium voted down by oil-funded legislators; China aims to cap greenhouse gas output soon; Monarch butterfly decline linked to spread of GM crops ... PLUS: Latest 'COSMOS' Episode on Global Warming Turns a 'Denier' into 'Believer' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Update on Turkish coal mine tragedy; California wilting and burning; Oil pipeline bursts in L.A.; PLUS: Military leaders warn climate change threatens national security --- so Fox "News" attacks the military... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Germany sets new solar energy record: 74% of electricity; CA drought may cause earthquakes, too; End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion - and preserve civilization; Funny: conservatives praise Antarctic Ice Sheet melt as beautiful expression of free market; Analysis: Should we cover our roads with solar panels?; Giant poster material literally absorbs pollution; Tropical cyclones shifting toward poles; Risks questioned at closed nuclear power plants ... PLUS: VIDEO: Colbert Embraces Conservative Solution to Climate Change: 'F*ck It' ... 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...
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! ...
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...
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: Surprise! Second toxic chemical also contaminating WV's water supply; Texas homeowners don't care for fracking earthquakes; Southern leg of Keystone XL pipeline now open for business; Score one for the Arctic - court setback for Shell's Arctic Adventure; PLUS: Full speed ahead for L.A.'s first-ever outdoor pro hockey game --- in a record heat wave... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Obama: Fossil fuels are here to stay; Targets of climate hate mail rally to support one another; Coal terminals and climate chaos: is this the future we want?; WA State moves on its own to stop ocean acidification; How Oil Drilling Is Like the "Civil Rights Revolution"; Extreme El Nino events to double ... PLUS: Big Green to Obama: "All of the above" a compromise we can't afford ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The climate action legacy of Nelson Mandela; Historic water compact in the volatile Middle East; Air pollution linked to autism; Water pollution linked to miscarriages; PLUS: Canada is claiming the North Pole because... drill baby drill ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Arctic warming drives more extreme summer heat waves, droughts & deluges, study finds; Ask Ft. Worth why so many towns are banning fracking; Falling stars: mystery disease killing starfish; Mounting evidence against BPA; EPA chief visits China amid record air pollution; TransCanada oil begins flowing through southern Keystone XL; Wind farms allowed to kill eagles for 30 years; New greenhouse gas discovered, 7k times more potent than CO2; CA releases plan for massive water tunnel ... PLUS: Heart of gold: Neil Young helps bankroll First Nation’s tar sands battle ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The largest media market in the world is about to lose its only non-Rightwing commercial talk radio station. Los Angeles' KTLK 1150am will be flipped to a far Rightwing station featuring hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other rightwing talkers. "The changes are set to take effect for the first broadcast of 2014," according to the Los Angeles Times this afternoon.
KTLK is owned by Clear Channel Communications, Inc., the nation's largest owner of radio stations. Clear Channel is now owned by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital LLC. The talkers mentioned above who will be taking over the previously-progressive station are also syndicated by Clear Channel-owned Premiere Networks, the largest radio syndicator in the nation. The BRAD BLOG has long argued that the outsized control of our public airwaves enjoyed by Clear Channel/Premiere and a handful of other conglomerates --- including their ability to leverage our public airwaves (licensed from we, the people, in exchange only for their promise to serve the public interest) to distribute their own syndicator's shows --- is a likely violation of U.S. v. Paramount, the 1948 anti-trust Supreme Court decision which found that the major movie studios could not also control the means of distribution by owning the nation's largest theater chains at the same time.
As if ending progressive talk radio in L.A. isn't bad enough, Clear Channel will now also reportedly be flipping its formerly progressive San Francisco talk station KNEW 960am (a move which they had threatened and then partially changed their mind about flipping in late 2011), over to a completely Right-leaning station as well, says the Times. That will leave San Francisco, arguably the most progressive city in the nation, without any commercial progressive talk radio outlet at all. But, as in L.A., listeners will still have many different Right-leaning talks outlets on our public airwaves to choose from, several of them owned by the same major corporation.
In Los Angeles, Clear Channel also owns KFI 640am, the number one station in the market. That station currently runs Limbaugh, along with a host of other Right-leaning local talk shows. KTLK, had once described itself as "Progressive Talk", before changing it's tag line to "L.A.'s Voice" earlier this year. They had already gutted of most of the station's progressive-leaning talk shows over the past several years. The station will now be re-dubbed "The Patriot". The Times reports that "Clear Channel is hoping to pump up [KTLK] as an outlet exclusively dedicated to right-leaning chatter"...
Yes, those dangling envelopes are absentee ballots being sent to voters. Maybe they'll actually reach them. Who knows?
The photos were taken by San Francisco surgeon and Election Integrity advocate Dr. John Maa last week and highlight just one of the many reasons why Vote-by-Mail is such a bad idea unless it's absolutely necessary. They were sent to us after being taken in the mail room of a San Francisco apartment building in advance of the upcoming November 5 municipal elections there.
"It was 10pm at night when I took those photos, so there were probably a lot more of them out there earlier in the day," Maa told us...
Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed SB 360, a radical new election reform bill, that will, for the first time in decades, end all federal testing of new e-voting systems approved for use in the state of California.
The measure, sold dishonestly by its supporters to the public and lawmakers, is expected to have an impact across the rest of the nation as well. It's enactment paves the way for the final development of a new, unverifiable touch-screen voting system for use in Los Angeles County, where it is then slated to be sold for use in jurisdictions elsewhere in the state and country.
Before the adoption of SB 360, new voting systems in California required two independent levels of testing, both at the federal and state levels before they could be used in an election here. Even with those two independent testing regimes in place, the systems certified by the Sec. of State over the past decade or more have been riddled with errors and security flaws that were later discovered. For those reasons, and others, The BRAD BLOG had been calling, unsuccessfully, for Brown's veto of SB 360.
As we've documented on these pages, the new law also affords sweeping new executive powers to the Sec. of State to approve new e-voting systems for use in so-called "pilot programs" without any certification testing at all, even from state auditors. Those "pilot" e-voting and tabulation systems, according to the new law, may now be used in "a legally binding election" at the sole discretion of the Sec. of State.
The BRAD BLOG has reported in great detail on this dangerous new bill, which was eventually passed along partisan lines with almost no debate in either chamber of the state legislature. It was supported by all the Democrats in both the state Senate and Assembly, and opposed by all but one Republican.
The bill, granting unprecedented power to the California Sec. of State, was authored by state Senator Alex Padilla (D) --- himself a leading 2014 candidate for California Sec. of State. It was also supported by one of his two main rivals for that job, State Sen. Leland Yee (D), who has also gone on record calling for Internet Voting systems in California.
The only one among the top three Democratic contenders to replace CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen (who is termed out in 2014), who did not go on record in support of SB 360, is former Common Cause official Derek Cressman.
My OpEd News interview begins with this question from Brunwasser...
Republicans are notorious for trying to disenfranchise voters, mostly voters who tend to vote against their candidates. But in this case, as you point out, the ill-conceived legislation has Democratic backing, and is, in fact, Democrat-sponsored. What's that all about? Have public officials learned nothing since 2004?
Give the full interview a read to find out my answer to those questions, along with a number of other thoughts on Democratic science denial when it comes to unverifiable (and untested) election technology.
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If you've yet to give CA Governor Jerry Brown your opinion on whether he should sign or veto SB 360, you may do so right here. (Choose "SB00360" from the "Please choose your subject" dropdown box, and select Pro or Con on the next screen.) You may also call his office to leave your opinion at (916) 445-2841.
NOTE: The space-aged touch-screen system being developed by L.A. County, is also being planned for sale to other jurisdictions across the country. The way CA tests and certifies its voting machines, or doesn't, is very likely to have a direct impact on voting systems used in your jurisdictions across the nation as well!
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