The BRAD BLOG Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! 2017-05-25T18:09:38Z Copyright 2017 WordPress Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - May 25, 2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12160 2017-05-25T18:09:38Z 2017-05-25T18:09:38Z Ohio California Wyoming Environment Dept. of Justice Green News EPA Donald Trump Bernie Sanders Wind Climate change Extreme weather Transportation Pope Francis Volkswagen Paris Agreement

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump's proposed budget cuts deeply into the environment and Superfund programs; Landslide buries California's iconic Pacific Coast Highway 1; Wind farm company proposes to retrain unemployed coal miners to be wind technicians - for free; PLUS: Pope Francis offers a gift and a message to President Trump... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Scientists publish an entire study refuting Scott Pruitt on climate change - by name; Pruitt's regulatory rollbacks are a boon to the oil and gas industry; Trump’s budget delivers Big Oil’s wish on reducing Strategic Petroleum Reserve; State appeals court rules Exxon must turn over records to NY prosecutor; NASA faces steep cuts in Trump budget; Mystery solved - how did whales get so big?; FERC will not delay proposed pipeline through state forest; OECD: tackling climate change will boost economic growth... PLUS: How a small PA town is standing up to fracking... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page

  • Scientists Publish An Entire Study Refuting Scott Pruitt On Climate (Washington Post):
    In a sign of growing tensions between scientists and the Trump administration, researchers published a scientific paper Wednesday that was conceived and written as an explicit refutation to an assertion by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt about climate change.
  • Trump’s Budget Delivers Big Oil’s Wish: Reducing Strategic Petroleum Reserve (DeSmog Blog):
    While most observers believe the budget will not pass through Congress in its current form, budgets depict an administration's priorities and vision for the country. Some within the oil industry have lobbied for years to drain the SPR, created in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis.
  • How Rollbacks at Scott Pruitt’s E.P.A. Are a Boon to Oil and Gas (NY Times) [emphasis added]:
    Devon’s pushback, coming amid an effort to ease a broad array of federal environmental rules, is the first known example under the Trump administration of an accused polluter — which has admitted violating the law — backing away from a proposed environmental settlement. It is already being hailed by other independent energy companies as a template for the future. “Not in our wildest dreams, never did we expect to get everything,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based association of independent oil and gas companies.
  • State appeals court rules Exxon must give records to NY prosecutor (Reuters):
    May 23 A New York state appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Exxon Mobil Corp should be compelled to turn over records in an investigation into how much the company knew about global warming as it continued to publicly downplay the effects it was expected to have on the fossil fuel industry.
  • What Stays, And What Goes, In Trump's $19.1-Billion NASA Budget (LA times):
    President Trump’s $19.1-billion budget proposal for NASA will allow the space agency to continue its long-term efforts to explore the universe, including sending humans to the moon and to Mars.
  • How a Small Town Is Standing Up to Fracking (Rolling Stone):
    Grant Township, Pennsylvania, population 741, has became the front line of a radical new environmental movement --- and they're not backing down.
  • Science Says: Whale Of A Mystery Solved? How They Got So Big (AP):
    Scientists think they have answered a whale of a mystery: How the ocean creatures got so huge so quickly.
  • Gehrke: While wrangling over undoing Bears Ears continues, treasures go unprotected (Salt Lake Tribune):
    All of this wrangling comes at the expense of any real action as the yearslong failure by leaders in Washington and Utah to protect the treasures in the Bears Ears region essentially forced Obama to designate the area a monument.
  • FERC Will Not Delay Pipeline At Senators' Urging (New England Public Radio):
    Federal regulators have brushed off a request by both Massachusetts U.S. senators to delay construction of a natural gas pipeline running through Otis State Forest in southern Berkshire County.
  • Tackling climate change will boost economic growth, OECD says (CNBC):
    In a statement on Tuesday, the OECD added that bringing together growth and climate agendas could add one percent to "average economic output" in G20 nations by the year 2021, and boost output in 2050 by as much as 2.8 percent.
  • California Tribe Set Out To Save Its River And Stop A Suicide Epidemic (LA Times):
    The Yurok people live in a stark land of salmon runs and steep, misty mountains, where giant salamanders hide under rotting logs and Bigfoot is said to prey after dusk.
  • Climate Change Is Turning Antarctica Green (Scientific American):
    "It's a clear sign that the biological response to climate warming is pervasive around the globe," he said. "The Antarctic Peninsula is often thought of as a very remote and possibly even untouched region, but this clearly shows that the effects of climate change are felt here."
  • Industry Meltdown: Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End? (Yale e360):
    From Europe to Japan to the U.S., nuclear power is in retreat, as plants are being shuttered, governments move toward renewables, and key companies face financial troubles. Even some of the industry's biggest boosters believe nuclear is on the way out.
  • A beginner's guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy (Vox):
    Clean-energy enthusiasts frequently claim that we can go bigger, that it's possible for the whole world to run on renewables - we merely lack the "political will." So, is it true? Do we know how get to an all-renewables system? Not yet. Not really.
  • No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox):
    If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.


FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Big Dem Wins in Special Elections; CBO Finds GOP 'Healthcare' Bill Still Deadly: 'BradCast' 5/24/2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12159 2017-05-25T01:14:02Z 2017-05-25T01:14:02Z Georgia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance War On Terror New York Rights And Freedoms Paper Ballots Legislation Touch-Screen Vote Flipping New Hampshire Montana U.S. House U.S. Senate Health Care Democrats Republicans Nancy Pelosi KPFK Donald Trump Bernie Sanders Mitch McConnell U.K. Paul Ryan BradCast CBO Election 2017 Jon Ossoff Rob Quist Karen Handel On today's BradCast, big wins for Democrats in very Republican districts, more trouble for the GOP as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally scores the House healthcare bill, and trouble likely ahead for still-divided Democrats. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

    As Republicans struggle to pass any major legislation in the wake of Donald Trump's continuing political and legal troubles, Democrats saw two different huge state-level electoral victories in "deeply red districts" in New York and New Hampshire during special elections on Tuesday. Both seats had been previously held by Republicans for years and, in NY, the former Bernie Sanders delegate who won the set, helped flip the district "an astounding 39 points" since the November election!

    All of that comes in advance of a statewide special election for the U.S. House in Montana on Thursday, believed to be "closer than it should be" in a state that went for Trump last November by more than 20 points, and a U.S. House special election runoff next month in Georgia's 6th Congressional District which also went to Trump last year, but where the Democrat is now said to be leading his Republican opponent by 7 points.

    The first-time Democratic candidates in both the MT and GA races are raising record-shattering money from small donors, though in Georgia, non-partisan election watchdogs are urging voters to cast absentee paper ballots by mail or, preferably, dropped off at County HQ, rather than via the 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems the state will once again, shamefully, force voters to use at the precincts on June 20th.

    Then, just before airtime, the non-partisan CBO finally released its score of the Republicans' American Health Care Act (ACHA), which was narrowly adopted in the U.S. House three weeks ago. Like previous GOP versions of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the CBO finds the latest version will result in more than 20 million Americans (23 million, in this case) losing their health care coverage over the next ten years, including 14 million next year alone.

    Journalist and health care reform advocate Jackie Schechner joins us with details from the CBO's just-released report, and what it is likely to mean for the future of the GOP legislation in the House and in the U.S. Senate. (She believes the GOP will ultimately fail to pass a bill that both houses can agree upon, so Obamacare will stay in place for the foreseeable future.)

    Schechner details how the GOP's House bill will imperil health care for those with preexisting conditions (the CBO found such people "would ultimately be unable to purchase...health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all"); the Senate GOP leadership's strange plan to create a competing bill in the upper chamber with a "group of 13 white men" and no Democrats or even industry experts taking part; how she believes Republicans and President Trump have purposely undermined Obamacare; and how Democrats and Republicans together could actually fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act --- if they actually wanted to.

    "I think it's important that we take a step back and take the politics out of this, and start to focus on the policy of what we're trying to do," she tells me. "What we're trying to do is get people in this country access to health care, and to make it affordable. That's where the policy specifics need to come into play, and that's not going to happen if you got 13 white men who are crafting this behind closed doors who have no experience in health care policy."

    We then close with a very lively discussion of a Democratic single-payer "Medicare for All" health care bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in the House. The legislation, HR-626, for the first time ever, now has support from more than half of the Democratic caucus. Does that bill present a way forward for health care reform in the U.S. --- and for Democrats at the ballot box?

    We discuss, debate and, hopefully, inform on that and much more on today's BradCast!...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
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    ]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Trump's $2 TRILLION 'Bernie Madoff-Level Budget Fraud': 'BradCast' 5/23/2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12158 2017-05-24T01:25:29Z 2017-05-24T01:25:29Z BRAD BLOG Media Appearance War On Terror Accountability U.S. House Environment FBI Barack Obama Economy KPFK Donald Trump Climate change U.K. Paul Ryan IRS James Comey Social Security BradCast Theresa May Mick Mulvaney Dan Coats Switzerland On today's BradCast, the Trump Administration introduces what economists --- on both the Right and Left --- are describing as a massive 2 trillion dollar accounting error (or, less generously, 'fraudulent' numbers) in their new budget proposal introduced today. And we get caught up on the latest late updates on yesterday's Manchester Bombing and the FBI's ongoing investigation of Team Trump. [Audio link follows below.]

    As Trump continues his overseas trip, the White House released his Budget Policy plan in full, including some $1 trillion in cuts to social programs, billions of dollars of increases in defense spending and what they describe as deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years. The plan, if enacted, would deeply slash programs from Medicaid to Social Security Disability Insurance to food stamps to financial student aid to agricultural subsidies relied upon by an enormous number of Trump voters.

    But, aside from those cruel cuts, as our guest today, former Obama Administration tax policy adviser Seth Hanlon explains, the budget includes a huge, $2 trillion accounting error. Actually, Hanlon described it last night in a Twitter rant as '[Bernie] Madoff-level accounting fraud...designed to fleece vulnerable people'. Others today, including conservative budget experts, also describe the gimmick Team Trump uses to hide the decline in revenue as fraudulent --- or "impossible magic math" --- in that it counts the same (questionable) claims for increased revenues from massive tax cuts twice! Once to pay for the $5.5 trillion in tax cuts themselves, and then again to pay for $2 trillion in revenue in the Trump budget.

    As Hanlon details, it's quite a trick! An impossible one, in fact, which he doesn't believe to be an accident, describing it as a "$7.5 trillion lie."

    "In their budget," he explains, "they just pretend that this $5.5 trillion in tax cuts does not exist. And then at the same time...they say that the economy is going to grow by a full percentage point every year, so the economy is going to grow by 3% a year...And because of that extra economic growth --- and there's not much basis to think there would be that growth --- that brings in an additional $2 trillion of revenue. So they include that extra $2 trillion of revenue in their budget, while at the same time not including...the tax cuts that are supposedly producing that magic growth that results in the $2 trillion."

    Hanlon, now a Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress, previously served as special assistant to President Obama for economic policy at the White House National Economic Council, coordinating the Obama administration's tax policy. He calls the Trump scheme "a deliberate decision simply to wave a wand and take the entire $5.5 trillion cost of the tax cuts out of the budget," adding that he "can't find anybody who actually defends it," including so-called conservative deficit hawks. We also discuss the cruel nature of many of the cuts, despite its unlikeliness to get very far as written, even in the Republican controlled Congress.

    Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with details on the "slash and burn" environmental aspects of the budget plan and for some good news out of Switzerland. (We'll take it!)

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

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    ]]> Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - May 23, 2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12156 2017-05-23T17:27:35Z 2017-05-23T17:27:35Z Alaska U.S. House Environment U.S. Senate Green News EPA Donald Trump Oil Wind Solar Climate change Transportation Arctic Dept. of Interior Dept. of Energy Antarctica

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The Global Seed Vault flooded by melting permafrost; Antarctica is going green, and not in a good way; Switzerland votes to accelerate renewable energy transition; PLUS: Trump's final budget proposal takes a hatchet to the environment... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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    Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

    IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 2 more leaks found on Dakota Access Pipeline; Rate of sea level rise has tripled since 1990; Senate's Regulatory Review Act is bad for science; No one lives on this remote Pacific island but it’s covered in 38 million pieces of trash; Rural Trump voters fight to keep their land from oil industry eminent domain abuse; States push for stronger oil train rules; Exxoh climate fraud investigation widens over missing Tillerson alias emails... PLUS: Withdrawing from the Paris climate deal could cause ‘lasting damage’ to ties between U.S. and Europe, official warns... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    • Trump's final budget proposal takes a hatchet to the environment:
      • EPA remains top target with Trump administration proposing 31 percent budget cut (Washington Post):
        Candidate Donald Trump vowed to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form,” leaving only “little tidbits” intact. President Trump is making good on his promise to take a sledgehammer to the agency.
      • Trump Seeks To Sell Off Half Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (Washington Post):
        As part of its 2018 budget, the Trump administration is proposing to reduce by half the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a cushion against global price shocks and supply disruptions. The administration said it expects the drawdown to reduce the federal deficit by $16.6 billion, part of a package of deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years.

    • Global Seed Vault entrance flooded by melting permafrost:
      • Welcome to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norway Ministry of Agriculture and Food)
      • Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts (The Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
        No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change...“A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in,” she told the Guardian....But the breach has questioned the ability of the vault to survive as a lifeline for humanity if catastrophe strikes. “It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day,” Aschim said. “We must see what we can do to minimise all the risks and make sure the seed bank can take care of itself.”
      • VIDEO: Precious seeds in Norway's 'Doomsday vault' are safe — for now (USA Today)
      • Norway to boost protection of Arctic seed vault from climate change (BBC):
        "Inside the mountain it's safe but the problems we have experienced are just outside and in the front of the tunnel, which is the entrance. So Yes, maybe something has changed in the permafrost, but we don't know, and that is what the climate researchers are looking into. We have to follow them carefully." The new measures announced include drainage ditches on the mountainside to stop water from accumulating around the access tunnel.

    • Antarctica is going green, and not in a good way:
      • Climate change is turning Antarctica green, say researchers (The Guardian UK):
        In the past 50 years the quantity and rate of plant growth has shot up, says study, suggesting further warming could lead to rapid ecosystem changes....The cores reveal that the warming climate of Antarctica in the past 50 years has spurred on biological activity: the rate of moss growth is now four to five times higher than it was pre-1950.
      • Climate Change Is Turning Antarctica Green (Scientific American):
        “It’s a clear sign that the biological response to climate warming is pervasive around the globe,” he said. “The Antarctic Peninsula is often thought of as a very remote and possibly even untouched region, but this clearly shows that the effects of climate change are felt here.”

    • Switzerland votes to accelerate renewable energy transition:
      • Swiss referendum on renewable energy (Euronews):
        That the new law would help utilities which currently rely on hydro power. Their costs currently exceed wholesale prices in Europe...Under the new law, power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources would rise to at least 11,400 gigawatt hours by 2035. That is compared to 2,831 now.
      • Swiss voters embrace shift to renewable energy (Reuters):
        Swiss voters backed the government's plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum on Sunday. Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2 percent under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.
      • Switzerland votes to phase out nuclear energy and switch to renewables (Independent UK)

    • COMMENT NOW: Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment (Regulations.gov):
      Note: Regulations.gov will undergo scheduled maintenance and will be unavailable Saturday, May 20, from 6:00 am through 6:00 pm (ET).

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

    For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page

    • 2 More Leaks Found Along Dakota Access Pipeline (US News):
      The Dakota Access pipeline system leaked more than 100 gallons (380 liters) of oil in two separate incidents in North Dakota in March as crews prepared the pipeline for operation.
    • Scientists say the pace of sea level rise has nearly tripled since 1990 (Washington Post):
      The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. “The sea level rise is now three times as fast as before 1990,” Dangendorf said.
    • Withdrawing from the Paris climate deal could cause ‘lasting damage’ to ties between U.S. and Europe, official warns (Washington Post):
      “We are not pessimistic or resigned to the fate of the U.S. position,” said one G-7 diplomat close to the process. “We are exploring every way possible to communicate with the U.S. and to express our key interest for the U.S. to stay involved in the climate negotiation process. There are many channels we are utilizing.”
    • 5 Reasons Why the Regulatory Accountability Act is Bad for Science (Union of Concerned Scientists):
      It imposes significant (and new) burdensome requirements on every single federal agency...requires agencies to finalize the most “cost effective” rule...a backdoor attempt to put the interests of regulated industries ahead of the public interest...the Portman RAA weakens the ability of agencies to implement these laws by rewriting the entire process by which safeguards for Americans are enacted.
    • No one lives on this remote Pacific island — but it’s covered in 38 million pieces of our trash (Washington Post):
      Researchers believe that about 3,500 pieces of trash are continuing to wash up there daily, and that Henderson Island now has the highest density of plastic waste in the world, according to a report published Tuesday in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    • Rural Trump Voters Fight To Keep Their Land From Growing Pipeline Web (McClatchy DC):
      Norm MacQueen would seem to fit the profile of a property owner comfortable with an oil and gas pipeline running through his land. A retired oil refinery employee, MacQueen worked amid risky conditions for more than 20 years, as a pipe fitter and a welder.
    • Interior Politicals Censor Climate Change Language From News Release (Washington Post):
      On Thursday, a group of scientists, including three working for the U.S. Geological Survey, published a paper that highlighted the link between sea-level rise and global climate change, arguing that previously studies may have underestimated the risk flooding poses to coastal communities.
    • States Push For Stronger Oil Train Limits (The Hill):
      Several state attorneys general are asking federal regulators to strengthen rules on trains transporting crude oil.
    • Will The Government Help Farmers Adapt To A Changing Climate? (MPR):
      The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.
    • Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Widens Over Missing Alias Emails (Inside Climate News):
      The probe of ExxonMobil by the New York Attorney General's Office is widening. Investigators have taken depositions of company executives and issued additional subpoenas to determine whether the company may have destroyed evidence connected to an alias email used by former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.
    • Industry Meltdown: Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End? (Yale e360):
      From Europe to Japan to the U.S., nuclear power is in retreat, as plants are being shuttered, governments move toward renewables, and key companies face financial troubles. Even some of the industry’s biggest boosters believe nuclear is on the way out.
    • A beginner's guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy (Vox):
      Clean-energy enthusiasts frequently claim that we can go bigger, that it's possible for the whole world to run on renewables - we merely lack the "political will." So, is it true? Do we know how get to an all-renewables system? Not yet. Not really.
    • No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox):
      If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.


    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[The Surreal if 'Clear and Present Danger' of Donald Trump: 'BradCast' 5/22/2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12155 2017-05-23T01:35:45Z 2017-05-23T01:35:45Z Election Reform North Carolina BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Journalist Intimidation Impeachment Montana Accountability U.S. House FBI U.S. Senate Democrats Republicans U.S. Supreme Court Jeff Sessions Israel Turkey Clarence Thomas KPFK Donald Trump Voting Rights Act Russia BradCast Saudi Arabia Mike Pence Michael Flynn Neil Gorsuch Rob Quist Donald McGahn Elena Kagan The new Twin Peaks (which is excellent, by the way!) may be less surreal than the latest goings on inside our current White House. On today's BradCast, the latest news on the ever unfolding investigations into Team Trump and on his overseas trip (stories Trump already managed to conflate today), along with big election-related news from the U.S. Supreme Court and a quick preview of this week's upcoming U.S. House special election in the state of Montana. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

    Today, before we get to the latest in the David Lynchian tales of President Trump, two new and important election-related rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. One, being described by UC Irvine Election professor Rick Hasen as a very "big deal" and "a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs" deals with racial and partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, with ramifications for a number of other similar Republican gerrymanders in several states. The other is a victory for campaign finance restrictions. Both cases feature surprising alliances between Republican and Democratic-appointed Justices following last month's confirmation of Neal Gorsich to fill the vacant seat stolen by Republicans after the death of Justice Anton Scalia.

    And, speaking of elections, we also preview the U.S. House Special Election set to take place in Montana this Thursday, as populist first-time candidate and popular folk singer Rob Quist barnstormed the state over the weekend with Bernie Sanders. Republican establishment candidate Greg Gianforte is said to have a small lead in pre-election polls, despite being recently caught on tape supporting the GOP health care bill while seeking money from wealthy lobbyists, even while telling voters on the stump he hadn't made up his mind about it yet. In addition to providing a bellwether for the 2018 elections, it may also serve to shake up the current, very serious divide within the Democratic Party itself, depending on how the results shake out this week. That divide has been somewhat obscured by the madness of the Trump White House, but the bitter split between Bernie and Hillary partisans is still very much creating a rift among progressives and Democrats.

    Then, we're joined by the great Heather Digby Parton of Salon.com and the Hullabaloo blog to try and make sense of ALL of the latest in the increasingly surreal Trump Administration investigations, and the ongoing troubles Trump ("the clear and present danger"), his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn ("something wrong with him"), his Vice President Mike Pence ("Involved up to his eyeballs"), and many others. In addition to all of that and whether or not it may be heading towards impeachment, Parton also shares thoughts on Trump's overlooked recently reported threat to lock up journalists (reminding us that AG Jeff Sessions is "by far the most dangerous, malevolent person in the Administration") and offers insight on a number of late-breaking stories related to all of the above, including: Flynn, reportedly, now taking the 5th to avoid self-incrimination in response to Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas; Trump digging himself deeper in Tel Aviv during his 9-day jaunt overseas; and now he may have even have lost a few of his own supporters following his speech on Islam in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    If you watched the new Twin Peaks over the weekend, as I did (the first two hours all year that I haven't thought about Trump, frankly!), what's going on in this Administration is even more difficult to make sense of right now, believe it or not. So, enjoy!...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

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    ]]> Ernest A. Canning <![CDATA[Pence and the 'Sergeant Schultz Defense']]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12152 2017-05-22T16:35:10Z 2017-05-22T16:35:10Z Accountability U.S. House Dept. of Justice FBI Donald Trump James Comey Elijah Cummings Mike Pence Sally Yates Donald McGahn Faced with his own inept inability to control the antics of his American prisoners, the only defense for bumbling Luftwaffe POW camp guard Sergeant Schultz was to pretend he had no knowledge of events. Confronted with what he saw and was told in this classic Hogan's Heroes clip, Schultz proclaims: "I see nothing! I was not here! I did not even get up this morning!"

    Last Thursday, we witnessed a version of the Sergeant Schultz defense. But it wasn't for laughs. It came from a source said to be "close to the [Trump] administration". According to an NBC News report (later echoed by a number of other outlets), the source claimed that "Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's alleged wrongdoing"...

    Earlier this year, Pence said he was not made aware of Flynn's discussions with Russian officials until 15 days after Trump and the White House were notified.

    The source close to the administration, who requested anonymity as the White House denies the story, is now saying that Pence and his team were not made aware of any investigation relating to Flynn's work as a foreign agent for Turkey.

    "It's also a fact that if [Flynn] told [Trump Transition attorney, now White House Chief Counsel, Don] McGahn that during the transition, it's also a fact that not only was Pence not made aware of that, no one around Pence was as well," the source said. "And that's an egregious error — and it has to be intentional. It's either malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable."

    The source's claims are offered despite the fact that Flynn himself also served as one of Pence's vice-chairs on the Presidential transition.

    The NBC report offers a plausible sounding explanation for Pence's seeming ability to be everywhere, yet know absolutely nothing about what happened, particularly given the number of occasions where Trump has swiftly thrown those defending his actions under the bus: e.g., when, one day after Pence said the President had simply complied with Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein's "recommendation" when he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump acknowledged he'd made the decision to fire Comey before Rosenstein wrote the memo.

    But there are a multitude of reasons why the "I know nothing!" defense doesn't really wash, particularly given Pence's penchant to quietly lie with a straight face, even when directly confronted by contradictory information and instances in which Pence has denied all knowledge of otherwise broadly publicized information...

    'Jedi Mind Trick'

    Though financial institutions always warn that "past performance is not indicative of future results," it is difficult at this time to ignore many of Pence's past performances, illustrating a well-document penchant for lying.

    In the aftermath of last year's Vice-Presidential debate, Brad Friedman observed that an "astonishingly dishonest" Pence, "a man who has argued smoking doesn't cause cancer [and] denies climate change," had offered up "an avalanche of lies" that was "simply jaw dropping at times." The New Republic referred to Pence's debate performance as an effort to "gaslight the American people."

    Like the last Republican Vice President, Dick Cheney, Pence appears to have mastered what I previously described as the "quiet lie": the ability to calmly and quietly deliver a lie in such a matter-of-fact manner as to suggest that the falsehood is an obvious truth. The technique was so successfully deployed during last year's Vice Presidential Debate that Rolling Stone was left to conclude that Pence had deployed the "Jedi Mind Trick."

    In a subsequent article, Politifact listed eleven (11) separate claims made by Pence, during and after the debate, that were patently false.

    One particular debate prevarication seems especially poignant:

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Donald Trump started this campaign in 2014 and said, "If I run for President, I will absolutely release my taxes." He's broken his first promise.

    PENCE: He hasn't broken his promise.

    Trump said: "If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely." This past April --- five months after the campaign ended --- the White House refused to say whether Trump would ever release his tax returns.

    Implausible Deniability

    There are two instances in which Pence's denial of knowledge of Flynn's behavior are beyond believability, especially given that Pence had served as the Chair of Trump's transition team.

    One of these was addressed by the Washington Post in an article late last week headlined "Vice President Pence has a growing credibility gap". Specifically, the Post's Aaron Blake points to the now-infamous March 9, 2017 interview by Bret Baier on Fox "News":

    BAIER: The story today that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has filed with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent for making more than $500,000 as a lobbyist, essentially, for Turkey. Your reaction to that, given that, doesn’t that mean, Mr. Vice President, that even if he didn’t lie to you about what the Russian ambassador said or didn’t say, that you would have had to fire him anyway?

    PENCE: Well, let me say, hearing that story today was the first I'd heard of it." [Emphasis in orig.].

    To this, Blake observes, with a degree of incredulity, that "Flynn informed the Trump transition team more than two weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for his work as a lobbyist advocating for Turkish government interest." At that time, Blake argues, Pence was "firmly in charge" of the transition team.

    It would have required a great deal more than Trump's alleged desire to keep Pence in the dark to conclude that there was anything remotely resembling the truth in Pence's claim that he never learned about Flynn's financial conflicts-of-interest regarding Turkey before March 9, 2017.

    In a formal November 18, 2016 letter that was addressed to "The Honorable Mike Pence, Vice President-Elect, Presidential Transition Office, 1800 F Street NW, Washington DC 20006," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spelled out the details, noting in part:

    Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. Government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests. Lt. Gen. Flynn’s General Counsel and Principal, Robert Kelley, confirmed that they were hired by a foreign company to lobby for Turkish interests, stating: "They want to keep posted on what we all want to be informed of: the present situation, the transition between President Obama and President-Elect Trump." When asked whether the firm had been hired because of Lt. Gen. Flynn’s close ties to President-elect Trump, Mr. Kelley responded, "I hope so."

    Cummings went on to reference Flynn's financial ties to both Turkey and Russia and to point to Flynn's pro-Turkey op-ed that was published by The Hill on November 8. Cummings concluded the letter with requests that Pence produce "a copy of any information provided by Lt. Gen Flynn to the Transition Team in order to determine his business clients and to vet any potential financial conflicts of interest."

    After a Pence spokesman recently waffled, claiming he was "not sure we saw the letter," the House Oversight Dems posted the transition team's "official receipt" on Twitter. In the receipt, the Transition's Office of Legislative Affairs thanked Cummings for the information and promised to "review your letter carefully."

    While it's possible, despite that response, that Cummings letter somehow disappeared into a black hole during the chaotic transition overseen by Pence himself, the letter and its confirmed receipt aren't the only items difficult to ignore. If there were any truth to Pence's March 9 "first I'd heard of it" claim, one would also have to assume the Vice President paid no attention to numerous media reports --- starting with the Nov. 11, 2016 Daily Caller article headlined: "Trump's Top Military Advisor Is Lobbying For Obscure Company With Ties To Turkish Government".

    Days later, on Nov. 14, in an article headlined "Trump adviser linked to Turkish lobbying", POLITICO observed...

    Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a vice chair of the Trump transition who is in the running for a top national security post in the new administration, runs a consulting firm that is lobbying for Turkish interests, an associate told POLITICO. Asked if Flynn's firm was hired because of the general's closeness to Trump, the associate, Robert Kelley, said, "I hope so."

    A lobbying registration posted Sept. 30 said that Kelley, a former chief counsel to the House National Security Subcommittee, would lobby on bills funding the departments of State and Defense.

    That same month the story was picked-up by AP, and repeated by CNN Politics, as well as by The New York Times and others. The Nov. 20 New York Times piece specifically pointed to the fact that Flynn had failed to "disclose that he was a paid lobbyist for a consultancy founded by a Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin, who is also the head of the Turkish-America Business Council."

    This brings us to the second denial that strains credulity, the claim made by Pence spokesman Mark Lotter that the Vice President had no inkling of the fact that Flynn had, indeed, discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak until after the Washington Post, on February 9, cited leaked transcripts of the conversation. To this day, Pence insists he first heard of that aspect of the Flynn-Kislyak conversation from press accounts.

    Thanks to her sworn Congressional testimony, we now know that former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, then serving as Acting Attorney General, met twice inside the White House with White House Chief Counsel Don McGahn; that she not only informed McGahn about the true content of Flynn's interactions with Kislyak but also that Flynn was so compromised by his prevarications about his Russian entanglements that he had opened himself up to the possibility of being blackmailed. Yates also conveyed to McGahn that she felt that the Vice President and other White House insiders had made false public statements about Flynn's interactions with Kislyak and that "we [the Department of Justice] felt the Vice President and others were entitled to know that the information that they were conveying to the American people wasn't true."

    We are now asked to believe that, despite Yates' dire warning, McGahn and the President concealed that information from Pence. If that were an isolated claim, it might sound believable. But that claim must be viewed in the context of a Vice President whose penchant for deception is so profound as to warrant a description of "jaw dropping."

    Since Pence presents this questionable claim to the court of public opinion, I would respectfully submit, Ladies and Gentlemen of the public opinion jury, that a CA Civil Jury Instruction is apropos: "if you decide that a witness has deliberately testified untruthfully about something important, you may choose not to believe anything that witness said."

    Is Team Pence's use of the "Sergeant Schultz defense" --- assurances that he was kept in the dark by Trump, McGahn and others closer to the President than he --- plausible? Perhaps, if he's granted the benefit of a doubt he has decidedly not earned.

    Are their claims believable? Well, based on the documented evidence and Pence's long, well-established record of unapologetic lies, I see no reason to believe him now and neither should you.

    * * *
    Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing


    ]]>
    PDiddie <![CDATA[Sunday Toons of the 'Witch Hunt!' Moment]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12154 2017-05-21T13:44:19Z 2017-05-21T13:44:19Z Toons

    (Click it to big it if you can't read it)



    * * *

    Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


    ]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Sessions Rolls Back Criminal Justice Reform, Trump Digs Himself Deeper: 'BradCast' 5/19/2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12153 2017-05-20T01:38:53Z 2017-05-20T01:38:53Z BRAD BLOG Media Appearance North Korea Accountability Louisiana Dept. of Justice FBI Barack Obama Jeff Sessions EPA KPFK Donald Trump Rand Paul Russia Prison Industrial Complex China James Comey BradCast Saudi Arabia Marijuana Dept. of Interior Sally Yates So who is the "nut job" here? On today's BradCast, Trump appears to have dug himself even deeper into the Obstruction of Justice mire and, speaking of "justice", Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolls back bi-partisan gains on criminal justice reform made during the Obama Era. [Audio link for show follows below.]

    A new report today from the New York Times alleges that, during his Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador last week, the day after he'd fired James Comey, President Trump described the former FBI Director as "crazy" and a "real nut job". He reportedly explained that he'd been under "great pressure because of Russia," but that pressure had been lifted due to his firing. If accurate, the new report, said to have been based on documentation of the meeting from the White House itself, could serve as more evidence of Obstruction of Justice by the President, who has now departed for a nine day overseas trip.

    Foreign diplomats are reportedly making special preparations to deal with Trump in the Middle East and Europe, including plans to compliment him on his Electoral College win, and by keeping presentations short enough for his, um, limited attention span.

    But lost among the sturm und drang over the Comey firing and related dramas over the past week or more is the fact that Trump's executive agencies, such as the EPA, the Department of Interior and Department of Justice, are all moving ahead with some pretty troubling policies. Among them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions' harsh new guidelines requiring federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the "most serious" crimes possible in order to, among other things, force judges to impose mandatory minimum sentencing. This comes even while the U.S. has less than 5% of the world's population, but nearly one quarter of its prisoners.

    The new Trump Administration policies, rolling back progressive Obama Era reforms, are being enacted despite decades of plummeting crime rates and broad bi-partisan efforts for criminal justice reform, both at the state and federal levels, according to my guest today, former New York Asst. District Attorney Ames Grawert, now counsel at the Justice Program for NYU's Brennan Center.

    Grawert, co-author of the new report, A Federal Agenda to Reduce Mass Incarceration, speaks to the Trump/Sessions claims that crime is rampant and ravaging the nation, despite all evidence to the contrary. "Fear sells," he tells me. "He [Trump] and Sessions need something to convince people that there's a need to embrace these draconian blast-from-the-past policies on mandatory minimums."

    About those policies, Grawert laments, "Whether you come to it as a conservative from a moral angle, a religious angle, or simply a budgetary common sense angle, there's a lot of Republicans who are willing to say that criminal justice reform is an imperative for the country. It's shocking that Sessions [when he served as U.S. Senator, blocking a bi-partisan reform bill] was not one of them."

    Obama's Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (yes, that Sally Yates), had issued a memorandum last year instructing federal prisons to end contracts with private prison corporations for a number of reasons supported by both Republicans and Democrats. "Sessions rescinded that very early in his tenure," Grawert notes, "with an ominous declaration that it was needed to meet the quote 'future needs of the federal correctional system.'"

    "The problem is that when you have mandatory minimums like these, and when you have an order like the one Sessions just put out last week preventing prosecutors from deciding how they are going to charge a case, it takes a lot of the discretion out of the hands of prosecutors. So, rather than making sure that they, who know the case best of all, are able to help the judge fit the punishment to the crime, you have prosecutors with their hands tied, required to seek a draconian sentence that they, themselves, and that judges also may not feel is actually called for."

    "The one thing we learned from the last thirty years or so, is that the federal government's power of the purse, and the tone set in Washington, they carry a lot of weight at the state level," he tells me. "So if you have an attorney general saying, look, we need to send more people to jail for longer, you shouldn't think for a minute that people in states, people running for D.A., people running for governor's house, won't listen to that and take their cues from that."

    Please listen to the full show with much more on all of the above right here...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

    * * *
    While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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    ]]> Brad Friedman <![CDATA['The Single Greatest Witch Hunt of a Politician in American History!': 'BradCast' 5/18/2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12151 2017-05-19T01:31:10Z 2017-05-19T01:31:10Z California BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Virginia Impeachment Accountability U.S. House Dept. of Justice FBI U.S. Senate Turkey EPA KPFK Donald Trump Russia China James Comey BradCast India Jason Chaffetz Paris Agreement Mike Pence Dept. of Interior Richard Burr Michael Flynn Scott Pruitt Public lands Sally Yates Rod Rosenstein Donald McGahn Robert Mueller Trey Gowdy On today's BradCast, we do our best to surf today's news tsunami, with a focus on a few troubling and under-appreciated stories amid the political flood pouring out of Washington and around the world in the wake of the DoJ's appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    Among the huge number of quickly moving and/or under-covered stories pieced together on today's show...

    • CA Assembly bill calls for Donald Trump's impeachment;
    • U.S. launches new airstrike on Syrian forces (despite Congressional failure to authorize attacks on a sovereign nation, which could result in war with Russia);
    • Michael Flynn blocked President Obama's planned offensive against ISIS, which was opposed by Flynn's secret client Turkey;
    • Trump Team was told of FBI investigation of Flynn long before inauguration;
    • VP Mike Pence, head of Trump Transition, still claims he knew nothing about Flynn's ties to foreign nations;
    • Suspicion grows over Team Trump attorney, White House counsel Don McGahn;
    • Senate Intel Chair offers two different stories on Flynn subpoenas;
    • House Oversight Chair announces he's quitting Congress next month;
    • Mueller's appointment receives mostly bipartisan support, as....;
    • ...White House turns 'chaotically dark', cancels Kellyanne Conway appearance on Fox 'News', before...
    • Trump turns against appointment of Mueller to describe it as 'unprecedented witch hunt', which 'divides the country', even as he begins to separate himself from 'Russia collusion' and prepares to throw campaign team under the bus;
    • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, among other things, a citizen call to action to save National Monuments set for possible repeal by the Trump Administration...

    I wish our countries had "scandals" like this one instead...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

    * * *
    While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
    * * *

    MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
    ONE-TIME DONATION


    Choose monthly amount...


    (Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)


    ]]> Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - May 18, 2017]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=12150 2017-05-18T17:58:42Z 2017-05-18T17:58:42Z Utah Virginia Montana Environment Green News EPA Fracking Natural gas Oil Climate change China India Mining Native Americans Terry McAuliffe Paris Agreement Dept. of Interior Scott Pruitt Public lands Ryan Zinke

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Virginia's Governor sets up statewide carbon cap-and-trade system; Bears Ears National Monument targeted for repeal on behalf of oil and gas industry; EPA gets an earful on which pollution regulations to repeal --- or not; PLUS: See it while you still can --- Glacier National Park's glaciers are going, going... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

    Link:
    Embed:

    Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

    IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 5 reasons why the Regulatory Accountability Act is bad for science; Vulnerable communities lash out as companies sway climate talks; Nearly half of CA salmon species face extinction; Loggers hope to fire up chain saws in Trump era; Iowa senator slams Rick Perry for undermining wind energy; Pesticide sickens workers one month after Trump EPA refuses to ban it; Scientists identify another coral reef devastated by warming; Is the era of nuclear power coming to an end?... PLUS: Blood tests significantly underestimate blood levels, CDC warns... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

    For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page

    • 5 Reasons Why the Regulatory Accountability Act is Bad for Science (Union of Concerned Scientists):
      It imposes significant (and new) burdensome requirements on every single federal agency...requires agencies to finalize the most “cost effective” rule...a backdoor attempt to put the interests of regulated industries ahead of the public interest...the Portman RAA weakens the ability of agencies to implement these laws by rewriting the entire process by which safeguards for Americans are enacted.
    • Vulnerable Voices’ Lash Out as Companies Sway Climate Talks (NY Times):
      Developing nations and environmental groups are challenging some of the world’s biggest companies and wealthiest countries over the role corporate lobbyists play in United Nations climate change negotiations.
    • Report: Nearly Half Of California Salmon Species Face Extinction (SF Chronicle):
      Nearly half of the salmon and trout species that live in California will be extinct in 50 years if nothing is done to improve water quality, protect wetlands and stream habitat, and fight climate change, scientists warned Tuesday in a wide-ranging study of native fish.
    • Iowa Senator Slams Energy Chief For Grid Study Undermining Wind Energy (Reuters):
      Iowa's Republican senator on Wednesday raised concerns that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has commissioned a 'hastily developed' study of the reliability of the electric grid that appears 'geared to undermine' the wind energy industry.
    • Loggers Hope To Fire Up Chain Saws With Help Of Trump, GOP Congress (McClatchy DV):
      Western timber industry leaders have new hope for easier logging in national forests, aided by their Capitol Hill allies and perhaps the still-shorthanded Trump administration.
    • Blood Tests Significantly Underestimated Lead Levels, FDA and CDC Warn (Washington Post):
      Federal officials are warning that some blood tests may have 'significantly” underestimated lead levels, and they are urging the retesting of some children, as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women.
    • Pesticide Trump's EPA Refused To Ban Blamed For Sickening Farm Workers (Guardian UK):
      Nearly 50 farm workers experienced nausea and vomiting apparently caused by a pesticide whose scheduled ban was overturned by the Trump administration.
    • Scientists Discover Another Coral Reef Devastated By Global Warming (Washington Post):
      As concerns grow over the condition of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which has endured widespread coral bleaching in the past several years, scientists are finding similar damage on reefs all over the world, including in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Now, a recent expedition to the Chagos Archipelago, a collection of at least 60 small islands in the Indian Ocean, has revealed devastating coral bleaching and coral death there, too.
    • Industry Meltdown: Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End? (Yale e360):
      From Europe to Japan to the U.S., nuclear power is in retreat, as plants are being shuttered, governments move toward renewables, and key companies face financial troubles. Even some of the industry’s biggest boosters believe nuclear is on the way out.
    • Bannon is pulling one over on Trump. There is zero reason to exit the Paris climate accord. (Vox):
      Even if, like Trump, you think climate change is a hoax; even if, like Trump, you think pollution regulations kill jobs; even if, like Trump, you want to Make America Great Again - there's just no reason to do it. It will cause serious damage in exchange for absolutely no practical advantage. The only person who stands to gain from it is Bannon. If the US leaves Paris, it will be because he played Trump for a fool.
    • A beginner's guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy (Vox):
      Clean-energy enthusiasts frequently claim that we can go bigger, that it's possible for the whole world to run on renewables - we merely lack the "political will." So, is it true? Do we know how get to an all-renewables system? Not yet. Not really.
    • No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox):
      If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.


    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

  • ]]>