The BRAD BLOG Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! 2014-11-22T22:54:34Z Copyright 2014 WordPress Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Greg Palast and Brad Friedman on Thom Hartmann TV's 'Bigger Picture Panel' [VIDEO]]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10954 2014-11-22T21:39:13Z 2014-11-22T21:39:13Z Election Irregularities Greg Palast Election Reform Texas BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Photo ID Laws Accountability Voter Registration Vote Caging Republicans U.S. Supreme Court Thom Hartmann Voting Rights Act Election 2016 Election 2014 Kris Kobach It's investigative Election Integrity muckraking in East Coast/West Coast stereo!

My thanks to Thom for inviting me for this week's longer-than-usual panel conversation on his Big Picture TV show, and to Palast for being the inimitably indefatigable Greg Palast!

Lively discussion includes everything from the secret GOP Crosscheck program to Greg's assertion that it cost Democrats several key U.S. Senate races to the U.S. now ranked 26th in electoral integrity among world democracies (last among Western nations) to the Republicans' long hard fight to return to Jim Crowism in TX and beyond...

[Our panel discussion begins right at the :30 min mark in the video below and runs for two segments]...

* * *
Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now completing our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...

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Brad Friedman <![CDATA[GOP-Led U.S. House Intel Committee Report Finds BENGHAZI! 'Scandal' Not Actually a Scandal]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10953 2014-11-21T23:24:02Z 2014-11-21T23:24:02Z Fox 'News' CIA National Security Accountability U.S. House Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Republicans Libya Well, I've been remiss over the years since 2012 in covering the BENGHAZI!!! "scandal" on these pages.

So allow me to make up for some of that lost time today, with this article just out from AP tonight:

WASHINGTON (AP) --- A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel.

The article continues describing the findings of the House Intel Committee report which its Republican chair Rep. Mike Rogers (MI) and Democratic ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD) announced today. Among those findings, in response to the epic reports of a "stand down order" said to have been issued by the CIA or the State Dept. or the White House, AP reports: "None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report."

You get the idea.

Nonetheless, as AP notes, "the eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May." That special select committee, convened by Congressional "conservatives", is set to cost tax payers some $4 million. How very "conservative" of them.


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Brad Friedman <![CDATA['This is How Clever Satan Is': Exposing Those Monster Energy Drinks for What They Really Are!]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10952 2014-11-21T22:37:23Z 2014-11-21T22:37:23Z BRAD BLOG Media Appearance It's a pretty cut and dry case here. Satan is totes busted...

As of Friday, November 21, the video above, posted on November 9, has received 7,082,535 views. If that's not further proof of Satan, I don't know what is.

[P.S. Speaking of the devil...Heading in to the studio to do a "Bigger Picture Panel" segment on election issues along with Greg Palast on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture TV show shortly. Watch live on RT America at 7p ET (it repeats at 10p ET), or check for other viewing options here. It also streams live online here.]


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Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - November 20, 2014]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10951 2014-11-20T23:11:35Z 2014-11-20T23:11:35Z United Nations Environment Barack Obama Republicans Green News Mary Landrieu Mitch McConnell Coal Wind Solar Climate change Extreme weather China Oceans

 

Today welcoming aboard GNR's newest affiliate partner:
KNCE 93.5 in Taos, NM!

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Record-breaking extreme winter storm breaks Buffalo, NY; It's official: October 2014 hottest October on record; Sorry, Republicans: China will cap coal use by 2020; PLUS: Obama doubles down on climate foreign policy... 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): NASA video: a year in C02; Senate climate hawks introduce 'carbon fee & dividend' legislation; Keystone XL PR company plans dirty tricks campaign; Criminal charges for illegal toxic mine dumping in Alaska; World must 'mind the carbon emissions gap' to avoid dangerous climate change; Why are US farmers getting billions in aid amid record crop yields? ... PLUS: San Diego to use recycled wastewater for new drinking water supply ... 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)...

  • VIDEO: NASA CO2 Animation Recalls 1859 Account of the Global Flow of this Gas (NYT Dot Earth)



  • A New Carbon Tax Bill In The Senate Comes With Both Promise And Problems (Climate Progress):
    In a sense, the problem of climate change is incredibly simple: certain people are dumping carbon into the atmosphere, and in the coming decades we will all suffer from the effects of that pollution. That, in turn, suggests a simple fix: make the emitters pay for that damage in the here and now. If they don’t want to pay, they won’t emit.
  • Revealed: Keystone company's PR blitz to safeguard ]its backup plan (Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
    Energy East strategy drawn up by public relations firm Edelman calls for thousands of activists, major online campaign and digging into background of opposition groups as methods TransCanada Corporation should use to ‘play offence’ against its detractors.
  • Feds charge mining company and executives with criminal pollution in Southwest Alaska (Alaska Dispatch News):
    An Australian-led mining company owned by an offshore corporation and five of its top officials and employees conspired to dump waste from a platinum mine into a Southwest Alaska salmon river, a federal indictment handed up Tuesday alleges. Four of the officials with XS Platinum Inc. also falsified records to hide what they did, and all five knowingly allowed polluted water to be discharged, the charges say. None of those charged lived in Alaska.
  • World Needs to Mind the Carbon Emissions Gap (Climate Central):
    “This is not a policy conclusion, this is just doing the math,” Joseph Alcamo, chief scientist of the report, said. “By 2030 we will have to turn the corner on global emissions so that we should have global emissions roughly 20-30 percent lower than they are (projected) now. That’s a telling message from the science community that business-as-usual is not an option.”
  • VIDEO: San Diego Approves $3.5B Recycled Water Project (NBC San Diego):
    With drought relief in California a long way off, San Diegans are now getting a giant step closer to a more reliable, long-term water supply. By a 9-0 vote Tuesday, the City Council approved a long-envisioned sewage purification system that'll crank out water you can drink.
  • World Not Close To Avoiding Dangerous Warming, UN Report Finds (Huiffington Post Green):
    The world still isn't close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some nations' recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.
  • US Farmers Set To Get Huge Government Payouts Despite Bumper Harvest (Reuters):
    U.S. farmers are about to reap a bumper harvest not just in corn and soybeans but also in new subsidies that could soar to $10 billion, blowing a hole in the government's promise that its new five-year farm bill would save taxpayers money.
  • Washington State To Sue Federal Government Over Nuclear Site Vapors (Reuters):
    Washington state's attorney general said on Wednesday he intends to sue the U.S. government for not adequately protecting workers involved in the decades-long cleanup of a decommissioned nuclear site, saying dozens have been sickened by toxic vapors.
  • ·········

  • NPR investigation: Injuries and violations continue at coal mines that owe millions in fines (Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette)
  • Edelman's TransCanada Astroturf Docs Expose Oil Industry PR Attack (DeSmogBlog):
    Documents obtained by Greenpeace detail a desperate astroturf PR strategy designed by Edelman for TransCanada to win public support for its Energy East tar sands export pipeline. TransCanada has failed for years to win approval of the controversial border-crossing Keystone XL pipeline, so apparently the company has decided to 'win ugly or lose pretty' with an aggressive public relations attack on its opponents.
  • Pope Francis: "Unbridled consumerism" will have destructive consequences for the planet (Salon) [emphasis added]:
    Free market fundamentalism poses a grave threat to both economic security and the health of the planet, Pope Francis warns in a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the host of this weekend's Group of 20 leaders' summit in Brisbane.
  • How to stop global warming, in 7 steps (Vox.com) [emphasis added]:
    5) Cutting emissions will cost us - but so will global warming... Economic modeling suggests that this would shave 0.06 percentage points off global economic growth each year....The world would still get richer over time, but at a somewhat slower rate.


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

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • 4 Scenarios Show What Climate Change Will Do To The Earth, From Pretty Bad To Disaster (Fast CoExist):
    But exactly how bad is still an open question, and a lot depends not only on how we react, but how quickly. The rate at which humans cut down on greenhouse gas emissions--if we do choose to cut them--will have a large bearing on how the world turns out by 2100, the forecasts reveal.
  • How to Solve Global Warming: It's the Energy Supply (Scientific American):
    Restraining global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius will require changing how the world produces and uses energy to power its cities and factories, heats and cools buildings, as well as moves people and goods in airplanes, trains, cars, ships and trucks, according to the IPCC. Changes are required not just in technology, but also in people's behavior.
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Extreme Weather? What Extreme Weather?]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10950 2014-11-20T20:22:51Z 2014-11-20T20:22:51Z New York Environment Climate change Buffalo, New York...

    NY Daily News reports, "there's more on the way" after the first wave which fell in about 24-36 hours [emphasis added]:

    The western New York city and its suburbs are bracing for up to another three feet of snow by Friday morning after a storm already dropped nearly six feet on some areas in an epic display by Mother Nature that left at least seven people dead in the region.

    One other problem: temps are expected to rise in Buffalo over the weekend after the next monster volley of snow. They will be pushing 60 degrees by Monday. Got flood insurance?

    Not that scientists have been predicting this sort of thing for years now. Well, maybe they have. But what do "scientists" know about science?!

    * * *

    UPDATE: For more on why this record breaking storm is another result of global warming, listen to our latest Green News Report...


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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA['Electoral Integrity Project' Report Ranks U.S. 26th Amongst World Democracies]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10949 2014-11-20T14:05:35Z 2014-11-20T14:05:35Z Election Reform Election Fraud Voter Registration Election 2012 A report [PDF] by researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney finds the U.S. ranks just 26th on a global index of election integrity. That finding places the U.S. in the category of nations with "Moderate" election integrity, ranking the country one notch above Mexico and one notch below Micronesia, according to the findings tracking elections in 66 countries.

    The report, compiled earlier this year and published last month in the American Political Science Association's PS: Political Science and Politics journal, "aims to evaluate the quality of elections held around the world." It is the first of a planned annual series from the Electoral Integrity Project. The organization describes itself as "an independent non-profit scholarly research project based at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and the University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations, funded by the Australian Research Council and other research bodies."

    The group aims to document "why elections fail and what we can do about it."

    This year's assessments by 855 election experts around the world are indexed and included in the survey which covers "all national parliamentary and presidential elections held in independent nation-states (with a population of more than 100,000) over an eighteen month period from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013."

    "Based on a survey collecting the views of election experts, the research aims to provide independent and reliable evidence to compare whether countries meet international standards of electoral integrity," the report's introduction explains. "The study collects 49 indicators to compare elections and countries around the globe."

    While the researchers found even worse problems in the elections of many younger countries, some of those nations still managed to out-perform the U.S. on the overall ranking, as we brought up the tail end of Western democratic nations, according to the experts' analysis, as described in one of bullet-points summarizing the report's findings [emphasis in original]...

    • Experts were also critical about electoral flaws in certain long-established democracies, such as Italy and Japan. Most strikingly, the United States ranks 26th out of 73 elections worldwide, the lowest score among Western nations. Experts highlighted concern over processes of redistricting, voter registration, and campaign finance in American elections.

    "It is also striking," the researchers wrote, "that despite centuries of elections, in the 2012 presidential contests, the United States was ranked only 26th worldwide by experts in the overall comparison of electoral integrity. This rating was similar to countries such as Mexico, Mongolia, and Georgia."

    "Further analysis of the data showed that experts reduced the overall score for the United States due to concern about the quality of their electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance," the study notes.

    "Voter registration, in particular, has become increasingly polarized and litigious in the United States ever since the 2000 'Florida' debacle, generating growing controversy in state-houses and the courts and a blue-ribbon Presidential Commission. The PEI [Perceptions of Election Integrity index] evaluations suggest that the role of money in American politics, and the redistricting process, both deserve more detailed scrutiny."

    "The 'moderate' category," which the U.S. finds itself near the top of, "also included many other diverse societies and types of regimes, including states such as Ghana, Bhutan, Montenegro, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines," according to the report.

    [T]he project monitors flaws in the electoral process occurring throughout the electoral cycle...The international community has adopted the electoral cycle approach by recognizing that observing only the balloting, vote count and results is too limited unless there is a longer-term assessment of each contest. Accordingly PEI constructed multi-item indicators to monitor each dimension.

    Much attention focuses on ballot-stuffing, ballot-box fraud, and irregularities in the vote count. But in fact problems may arise at any step in the process, such as from the fairness of electoral laws, malaportionment of district boundaries, disparities in access to campaign funds and media coverage, the exclusion of candidates or parties from the ballot, and so on.
    ...
    Although much commentary focuses on problems occurring on polling day in the voting process and ballot count, in fact the evidence...shows that campaign finance and campaign media coverage are the most problematic stages.

    The report concludes that "The regulation of money in politics deserves greater attention by domestic actors and the international community when seeking to reduce corruption, the abuse of state resources, and vote-buying, to strengthen public confidence in elections, and to ensure a level playing field for all parties and candidates."

    Of the 11 different categories rated by the experts for use in determining placement on this year's final index, the U.S. score was particularly dinged by low ratings in the categories of "Voting District Boundaries", "Electoral Laws", "Voter Registration" and "Campaign Finance".

    Nations with elections found to have more integrity than the U.S., as per the study's benchmarks, include Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Iceland, Czech Republican, South Korea, Austria, Slovenia, Israel, Cyprus, Lithuania, Australia, Rwanda, Japan, Chile, Italy, Grenada, Malta, Argentina, Georgia, Mongolia and Micronesia.

    Read the full report [PDF] here...

    [Hat-tip Voting Project's @VotingMatters...]

    * * *
    Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now completing our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...

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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape']]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10948 2014-11-19T20:01:39Z 2014-11-19T20:01:39Z Vaping/e-cigs Well, this seems a very good omen...

    The Oxford English Dictionary named "vape" - the word used for the act of drawing on an electronic cigarette instead of a burning stick of tobacco - as its 2014 word of the year.

    "You are 30 times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year," Oxford staff editors said.
    ...
    The apparent rise of e-cigarettes was cited as the reason for the skyrocketing use of the word, along with countless debates over the safety of using the devices long term.

    The word, according to the Oxford editors, was only added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August of this year. A bit slow there, chaps.

    All in all though, very good news --- no matter how much the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries (and their acolytes) try to undermine progress towards a vastly healthier world. Vape on.


    ]]>
    Ernest A. Canning <![CDATA[Gag Order in Criminal Indictment of Coal Baron Blankenship May Not Ensure Impartial Jury]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10943 2014-11-19T14:05:53Z 2014-11-19T14:05:53Z West Virginia VelvetRevolution.us Accountability Environment Dept. of Justice Republicans BP Oil Disaster U.S. Chamber of Commerce Rand Paul Mitch McConnell Coal Donald Blankenship On Friday, one day after the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a 43-page, four-count Criminal Indictment [PDF] against infamous, long-time West Virginia coal boss Donald L. Blankenship, U.S. District Court Judge Irene C. Berger issued a gag order in the case in an effort to secure a federal jury in West Virginia that could "be fair and impartial and whose verdict [will be] based only upon evidence presented during trial."

    That will be no easy feat.

    Blankenship, whom Rolling Stone described in 2010 as "the Dark Lord of Coal Country," is the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Massey Energy Co. An extraordinarily rapacious capitalist, Blankenship is credited with transforming coal into an "aggressive, partisan industry" where the goal was to extract coal "as fast and as cheap as possible."

    Blankenship is a principle force behind the environmentally destructive "mountaintop removal" --- a practice that "has destroyed 2,000 miles of streams and damaged more than a million acres of forest," according to Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone. Under Blankenship's leadership, the magazine reports, Massey also "injected toxic coal slurry," a biproduct of washing coal before its used for burning, "near underground aquifers" resulting in contamination of drinking water. (Where, elsewhere in the U.S., heart disease is the top killer, in Appalachia cancer is the number one cause of death.)

    Last week's federal indictment, however, relates to "the Dark Lord's" role in the massive April 5, 2010 explosion at the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch mine ("UBB") that resulted in the deaths of 29 Massey employees. It was the nation's worst mine disaster in the past 40 years.

    The indictment alleges that "Blankenship...conspired to commit and cause routine violations of mandatory federal mine safety standards," including "ventilation" regulations designed to prevent explosions, in order to maximize profits; that he "conspired to defraud the United States by impeding the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA") in carrying out its duties at UBB," and that Blankenship made "materially false statements...to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission" essentially to protect the value of Massey stock.

    If convicted, Blankenship could wind up serving 31 years in federal prison. If convicted. Therein lies the rub....

    Culture of impunity

    Judge Berger's gag order may prevent further public statements from those connected to the case, like "the Dark Lord's" attorney, William W. Taylor, III, who told West Virginia television station WSAZ: "Don Blankenship has been a tireless advocate for mine safety. His outspoken criticism of powerful bureaucrats has earned this indictment." As reflected by some of the comments made during the WSAZ News broadcast (video posted below), a gag order cannot, of itself, create an unbiased jury pool in a region where a flood of coal industry "jobs" propaganda, in the face of ecological devastation wrought by mountaintop removal, has already pitted "neighbor against neighbor".

    While Blankenship's attorney advanced the fact-free allegation that this indictment was simply an action by offended bureaucrats, it is interesting to note that it was a group of Massey Energy's own shareholders who were amongst the first to call for accountability. Decrying Blankenship's "callous disregard for the safety" of Massey's employees, the Change to Win Investment Group, described as a union pension fund group with over $200 billion in assets, called for his "immediate resignation" in the wake of the UBB disaster.

    "The Dark Lord," who at that time, was the highest paid coal industry executive in the nation, would eventually heed that shareholder request, but not before he secured a "$27.2 million deferred-compensation account," to which he added a "salary continuation retirement benefit," that would net him more than $18,000/month for ten years and "free housing for his golden years, in the form of a $305,000 'company-owned residence'."

    Recently, NPR released the results of a joint study it had made of "20 years of federal mine data through the first quarter of 2014." NPR performed the study together with the Mine Safety and Health News outlet.

    Their data revealed:

    • 2,700 mining company owners failed to pay nearly $70 million in delinquent penalties.
    • The top nine delinquents owe more than $1 million each.
    • Mines that don't pay their penalties are more dangerous than mines that do, with injury rates 50 percent higher.
    • Delinquent mines reported close to 4,000 injuries in the years they failed to pay, including accidents that killed 25 workers and left 58 others with permanent disabilities.
    • Delinquent mines continued to violate the law, with more than 130,000 violations, while they failed to pay mine safety fines.

    Underscoring the gravity of these findings, NPR noted that the government found in excess of "15,000 violations" that could produce "fatal accidents, major disasters or mining deaths" absent the intervention of government inspectors.

    In the year prior to the UBB disaster, according to a 2010 letter by StopTheChamber.com, "Massey contested 34 percent of its alleged violations, compared with the national average of 27 percent that year. Massey is contesting violations valued at $10 million, a total of 11.2 percent of all the contested violations" before the federal commission at the time.

    The allegations contained in the new criminal indictment are quite specific. During the period from Jan. 1, 2008 to April 9, 2010, UBB, which was the source of 14% of Massey's revenues, "was cited 835 times for violations of mandatory federal mine safety and health standards." These included 283 violations of ventilation laws that are designed to prevent the very type of explosion that occurred on April 5, 2010. Federal "mine safety standards concerning ventilation were basic, well-known principles of coal mining." UBB was repeatedly cited for violations on a "near constant" basis, even as they continued to violate those vital standards as a matter of "routine," according to the indictment.

    The charges specifically accuse Blankenship of having directly pressured UBB management to violate safety standards, even going so far as to tell a company manager that if he didn't increase productivity, "I could Khrushchev you" --- an apparent reference to the former Soviet dictator who once, in the presence of Western reporters reportedly quipped "We will bury you."

    The remark is consistent with Blankenship's authoritarian personality. One day after the horrific disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine, Blankenship was confronted by an ABC News reporter about a controversial $70 million local court case in which two West Virginia Supreme Court Justices --- one whose campaign was directly funded by Blankenship and the other who was photographed while vacationing "with Blankenship in the French Riviera" --- refused to recuse themselves. Blankenship told the reporter with cameras rolling: "If you're going to start taking pictures of me, you're liable to get shot."

    Commenting on the incident, in which Blankenship could be seen physically shoving the reporter before snatching his camera, long-time West Virginia radio host and anti-coal activist Bob Kincaid explained to The BRAD BLOG that "The culture of violence that exists in Massey flows from the top down. In the last year, Massey supporters have been convicted twice in WV Magistrate courts for attacking/assaulting peaceful individuals. No jail time in either case."

    Kincaid went on to suggest that the incident with the reporter "shines a light on the wholly dysfunctional, utterly corrupt judicial system in this state."

    But now, this time around, "the Dark Lord of Coal Country" finds himself in the less friendly confines of a federal court.

    Evidence vs. power of corporate propaganda

    While ideally, cases should be decided only on the basis of the evidence presented in a court of law, one should not underestimate the power of corporate propaganda to indirectly reach inside that courtroom in the form of deliberately calculated juror bias.

    Blankenship and his attorney have been silenced by the gag order. However, the order doesn't apply to Blankenship's dissembling allies, like the powerful right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the Board of Directors. Those allies cannot be expected to remain silent --- not when a threat to Blankenship's impunity may eventually lead to their own accountability.

    As observed by the Velvet Revolution's Stop the Chamber campaign, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is "an extremist political organization dedicated to corrupting American democracy by elevating the profits of big corporations over the well being of the citizens they serve." VR adds:

    Polluters like Big Coal, Big Asbestos, and Big Oil only need call the Chamber to stop any accountability for their toxic destruction. Wall Street banks and CEOs need only make sure that they have paid their Chamber dues to ensure that they can continue to rip off the taxpayers. And killers like Big Tobacco need only form a partnership with the Chamber to ensure that they will be given immunity from lawsuits that seek accountability for the death and sickness of millions of Americans.

    In fact, in 2010, just days after the UBB explosion, citing a litany of safety violations and fatal disasters courtesy of Massey Energy and its corporate partners, VR sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder [PDF] charging that Blankenship's "egregious conduct" warranted a "widespread criminal investigation into the conduct, policies and practices of Don Blankenship, both at Massey Energy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

    "This was not an accident," said VR's Kevin Zeese at the time, "but rather the result of deliberate and intentional decisions and actions of Don Blankenship, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce."

    [Full disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us]

    Blankenship can no doubt count on the coal industry's principle lobbyist, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which, in 2009, had been "hauled on the carpet by congressional investigators after the discovery of 13 forged letters purporting to be from legitimate organizations opposed to the clean-energy bill."

    And, of course, Blankenship can count on coal-friendly politicians, like Kentucky's powerful Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. Where objective reports label the UBB explosion as the worst coal disaster in 40 years and BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (which followed just days later, killing 11 workers) as the worst oil spill in history, Paul brushed aside both deadly explosions, criticizing the federal government instead for attempted oversight.

    "We come in, and it's always someone's fault," Paul told ABC at the time, adding cavalierly: "Maybe sometimes accidents happen."

    That's a message that, no doubt, Blankeship now hopes his jury pool will hear loud and clear.

    ***

    WSAZ's 11/14/2014 video report on the potential for biased jurors in the Blankeship case follows below...

    * * *
    Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.


    ]]>
    Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - November 18, 2014]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10947 2014-11-18T23:32:18Z 2014-11-18T23:32:18Z Accountability Environment U.S. Senate Barack Obama Republicans State Department Green News Mary Landrieu BP Oil Disaster EPA Coal Canada Climate change Extreme weather Keystone XL Donald Blankenship

     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: US Senate floor fight fails to pass Keystone XL pipeline; Can Congress override the President next year?; Native Americans say KXL is 'an act of war' and vow to fight the pipeline on their land; PLUS: Finally! Accountability for the 'Dark Lord of Coal': Don Blankenship indicted on criminal charges... 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): Injuries and violations continue at coal mines that owe millions in fines; Scientists think they know why starfish are melting; PR firms' astroturf documents expose oil industry attacks; G20 issues climate change statement after 'trench warfare'; Soap ingredient triclosan triggers liver cancer in mice; Federal pipeline regulator issues first-ever warning; GMO pest resistance rising... PLUS: Peru prepares to host climate talks as indigenous forest defenders die ... 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)...

    • NPR investigation: Injuries and violations continue at coal mines that owe millions in fines (Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette)
    • Edelman’s TransCanada Astroturf Docs Expose Oil Industry PR Attack (DeSmogBlog):
      Documents obtained by Greenpeace detail a desperate astroturf PR strategy designed by Edelman for TransCanada to win public support for its Energy East tar sands export pipeline. TransCanada has failed for years to win approval of the controversial border-crossing Keystone XL pipeline, so apparently the company has decided to 'win ugly or lose pretty' with an aggressive public relations attack on its opponents.
    • KY: Groups Allege 28,000 Coal Mining Violations, Lax Enforcement (Louisville Courier-Journal):
      Kentucky environmental advocates accused state regulators today of lax enforcement of water quality rules while putting a mining company on notice that they intend to sue over claims of thousands of false pollution reports during the last year.
    • Peru Prepares to Host Climate Talks as Indigenous Forest Defenders Die (NYT Dot Earth):
      The nonprofit group Global Witness makes some valuable points in a new report offering Peru a path to cut the violence on its poorly governed resource frontier in the Amazon. The report, 'Peru’s Deadly Environment,' is being released today at a Manhattan event organized with the Alexander Soros Foundation.
    • Climate Change in G20 Communique After 'Trench Warfare' (Sydney Morning Herald):
      The final G20 communique includes a significant passage on climate change after "difficult discussions" among leaders on Sunday, and despite an impassioned defence of coal and fossil fuel industry by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
    • Scientists Say They've Figured Out Why Starfish Are Melting (Huffington Post Green):
      Now, a massive new study has narrowed down the cause of what's liquefying this lynchpin species. ...It's a virus that's sweeping the starfish, researchers say. In fact, it's the first starfish virus ever discovered.
    • Triclosan: Soap Ingredient Can Trigger Liver Cancer in Mice: Scientists (UK Independent):
      A chemical ingredient of cosmetics, soaps, detergents, shampoos and toothpaste has been found to trigger liver cancer in laboratory mice, raising concerns about how safe it is for humans, scientists said.
    • Pipeline Alert From Federal Regulator Is First of Its Kind (InsideClimate News):
      Reversing oil and natural gas pipelines or switching the product they're carrying can have a 'significant impact' on the line's safety and integrity—and 'may not be advisable' in some cases, federal regulators told pipeline companies in a recent advisory.
    • Nuclear Agency Rules Are Ill-Suited for Plant Decommissioning: Leader (NY Times):
      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rules are not geared for supervising the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, the task that will occupy much of its time in the coming years, the head of the agency, Allison M. Macfarlane, said Monday.
    • Armyworm Resistance To GMO Crops Seen In U.S. --- Study (Reuters):
      Crop-devouring armyworms are showing increasing resistance in some U.S. farm fields to a popular type of genetically modified crop that should kill them, scientists said on Monday.
    • BP Tries To Pay Less For The Gulf Oil Spill, Again (Climate Progress):
      BP is asking a federal judge to cap the amount of Gulf oil spill-related fines it must pay at $12 billion, which is almost a third less than the amount U.S. prosecutors are seeking from the company.
    • Charlotte Struggles With Cleanup of PCBs from Major Dumping Incident (WSOC-TV):
      The city of Charlotte is still trying to recover from one of the worst catastrophes in the city's history.
    • U.S. and China climate deal explained (Mashable):
      Obama said the new U.S. goal is to cut emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025, compared to 2005 levels....The new goal therefore commits the U.S. to a much faster pace of emissions cuts than previously announced, and, if fulfilled, would keep the country on course to cut emissions by 80% relative to 2005 levels by 2050.
    • Pope Francis: “Unbridled consumerism” will have destructive consequences for the planet (Salon) [emphasis added]:
      Free market fundamentalism poses a grave threat to both economic security and the health of the planet, Pope Francis warns in a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the host of this weekend’s Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane.
    • Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC (BBC) [emphasis added]:
      The unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, a UN-backed expert panel says. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the world's electricity can - and must - be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. If not, the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage. The UN said inaction would cost "much more" than taking the necessary action.
    • How to stop global warming, in 7 steps (Vox.com) [emphasis added]:
      5) Cutting emissions will cost us — but so will global warming... Economic modeling suggests that this would shave 0.06 percentage points off global economic growth each year....The world would still get richer over time, but at a somewhat slower rate.


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

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • 4 Scenarios Show What Climate Change Will Do To The Earth, From Pretty Bad To Disaster (Fast CoExist):
    But exactly how bad is still an open question, and a lot depends not only on how we react, but how quickly. The rate at which humans cut down on greenhouse gas emissions--if we do choose to cut them--will have a large bearing on how the world turns out by 2100, the forecasts reveal.
  • How to Solve Global Warming: It's the Energy Supply (Scientific American):
    Restraining global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius will require changing how the world produces and uses energy to power its cities and factories, heats and cools buildings, as well as moves people and goods in airplanes, trains, cars, ships and trucks, according to the IPCC. Changes are required not just in technology, but also in people's behavior.
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Bernie Sanders' Remarks on 2014 Election Results Sound Familiar [VIDEO]]]> http://www.bradblog.com/?p=10946 2014-11-18T20:56:23Z 2014-11-18T20:56:23Z Accountability Stephen Colbert Democrats Republicans Bernie Sanders Election 2016 Election 2014 For what it's worth, just a quick note in response to some of the folks who either disagreed with or were otherwise disgruntled by my observation over the weekend explaining why I believe that "Not Voting IS a Vote", following the 36% voter turnout during the midterm elections.

    Though I said I thought it was a "dumb vote", I also noted that "it was a landslide". The central part of my argument, in response to politicians and pundits who blame the American people (rather than themselves) for the fact that 64% of the registered electorate didn't turn out, was this:

    Americans did vote. They voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole by not voting. You may not like that point, it may even make you angry, but it needs to be said. Neither party earned the vote of the majority of the American people.

    Some seem a bit irritated with me for pointing that out. But on Monday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was on The Colbert Report (full interview posted below), making a pretty impressive play for a Presidential run in 2016.

    During the conversation, Colbert asked him for a response to the "Red Tide" results of the 2014 elections and whether it signaled bad news for Democrats as a rejection of "liberal philosophy". Here was Sanders' concise answer:

    What I think really happened is about 64% of the American people rejected the two-party system. They rejected Washington as it now functions. They rejected a political system and a Congress which spends more time representing the wealthy and the powerful than ordinary Americans.

    Hmm. Sounds familiar.

    (Don't hate the playa; hate the game.)

    * * *

    Colbert's complete 11/17/2014 interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders follows below...


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