The BRAD BLOG Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! 2015-03-03T23:39:18Z Copyright 2015 WordPress Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - March 3, 2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11060 2015-03-03T23:39:18Z 2015-03-03T23:39:18Z California Mainstream Corporate Media Environment U.S. Senate Sheldon Whitehouse Green News James Inhofe Oil Climate change Extreme weather Idaho Syria

 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: A snowball's chance in the US Senate; Warm winter records shattered in the US West; Two big oil companies call for a price on carbon emissions; PLUS: In 1983, scientists predicted global warming would trigger unrest in the Middle East. A new study proves it.... 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): Hundreds of illegal oil waste pits discovered in CA; Exxon Mobil settles with NJ over toxic waste; Keeping the dust down in Owens Valley, CA; Fracking opponents getting increased scrutiny from police; Flame retardants in hand-me-down foam products ... PLUS: As the Colorado River Runs Dry: Ongoing Battle Between Urban, Rural Water Users... 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 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:

  • ]]>
    Miles Grant <![CDATA[Warmest Winter Records Shattered in West, But Reporters Still Won't Say 'Climate Change']]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11059 2015-03-03T19:21:40Z 2015-03-03T19:21:40Z Mainstream Media Failure Environment Climate change Watching network television news, you'd think the entire Earth had entered an Ice Age just because it's been cold in Manhattan.

    While February was unusually cold in the Northeast and Midwest, what's not being mentioned on TV is that records have been falling on the high end of the temperature scale for the entire winter across a broad swath of the West and Pacific Northwest:

    • Weather.com reports that more than 20 cities out west, including San Francisco, Sacramento and Las Vegas had their warmest winters on record, adding, "In case you're wondering, few if any cities in the East will have their coldest winters on record despite a series of high-profile blizzards and record cold waves - mainly because December was relatively mild."
    • KOMOnews.com reports Seattle had its warmest winter on record, "obliterating" the old record by 1.4 degrees. In neighboring Oregon, Portland broke its winter warmth record and Salem topped 50 degrees every day in February, the first time that's ever happened.
    • And The Salt Lake Tribune reports Salt Lake City had both its warmest and least snowy winter on record, the latter being the bigger concern as the West heads towards fire season. "Things are much more dry and, frankly, more ready to burn … than in [recent] memory," Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, told the Tribune.

    What do all of these articles have in common? Not one mentions climate change. It's just the latest example of media deliberately not connecting obvious climate dots for their audience.

    Sometimes you have to wonder: If our media were actively trying to stifle public knowledge of climate change impacts and suppress support for climate action, how would that be different from what we have now?

    * * *

    Originally posted at The Green Miles...

    Miles Grant is a progressive blogger and environmental communicator, writing about everything from global warming to smart growth to organic beer. Read more at TheGreenMiles.com and follow him on Twitter at: @MilesGrant. Miles lives with his wife and daughter in Fairhaven, MA.


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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[The Low Hanging Fruit of 'Net Neutrality']]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11057 2015-03-02T15:05:38Z 2015-03-02T15:05:38Z Fox 'News' Mainstream Corporate Media Sean Hannity Mainstream Media Failure Fairness Doctrine Net Neutrality Glenn Beck Rush Limbaugh FCC Media Reform I didn't want to say anything about this last week, given the hard fought and well won victory of Net Neutrality proponents. They worked hard and long and smartly and organized very well and deserved at least a few days of victory laps for the effort.

    Indeed, as noted in attorney Ernie Canning's piece here Thursday, describing the legal contours and challenges the FCC's new ruling attempts to circumnavigate: "The new policy is unquestionably a victory for both the idea of Internet freedom, as well as for the unprecedented campaign waged by the public to advocate in favor of 'Net Neutrality' over the past several years. An outspoken public won the day, for a change, against very powerful interests. It was a victory that, particularly over previous years, seemed to be anything but assured."

    So this thought is not meant to diminish the accomplishment of the army of Davids' who defied the odds and managed to defeat an army of Goliaths in a way that was virtually unthinkable even a year ago.

    That said...

    The battle for Net Neutrality, while praiseworthy and important, always seemed to me to be the lowest hanging fruit for proponents of free and open speech, reporting and public debate. In other words, we've always had Net Neutrality from the beginning of the Internet. The fight finally won last week was simply about keeping it that way.

    On the other hand, the FCC oversees --- or, at least, is supposed to --- another area of enormous importance to an informed electorate and to free and open speech: our public airwaves.

    The battle to retake the airwaves from a tiny handful of near-monopolistic corporate entities which have long overtaken them, has taken a distant second place (at best) to the battle for Net Neutrality over the years. That, even as the FCC is still required by law to assure those entities exercise their use of broadcast licenses "to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance".

    Nonetheless, the influence of our public airwaves on our political discourse is arguably as great as its ever been in this country. At least in modern times. As media expert Sue Wilson has painstakingly documented over the years on the pages of The BRAD BLOG, talk radio listenership --- and the influence of its corporate-backed voices --- remains huge.

    By way of comparison, as the 2011 chart at right illustrates, while progressives tend to cite Fox "News" as the root of much of our country's disinformed evils, they're not even the half of it. While Glenn Beck, during his heyday on Fox "News", garnered 2 million viewers per afternoon, he still had a radio audience of more than 10 million each morning. The same remains true for Fox' Sean Hannity today, as millions absorb the blatant lies and dishonesty of such talkers --- over our free public airwaves --- as they go to and from work each day.

    Rush Limbaugh's listenership, in the meantime, still dwarfs the number of viewers during all of the prime time hours combined each night on Fox "News". And those are just a few of the foot soldiers in the army of rightwing, corporatist voices which now enjoy a virtual stranglehold on those public airwaves.

    When one wonders where an entire swath of the nation comes to take on faith completely debunked nonsense such as "death panels in Obamacare", "global warming is a hoax", "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction", while the same nonsense is often sold and cited on Fox "News", it's the unceasing repetition of bullshit as "fact" reverberating across our publicly-owned, but corporately-controlled radio dial that hammers the case home every day for tens of millions of Americans. No matter how ridiculous and easily shown to be false those arguments may be, they are drilled into the brains of Americans hour after hour, day after day and year after year on the freely available airwaves.

    And yet, progressives seem to have all but abandoned the fight to force the FCC to do its job and restore fairness or balance in the public interest to the radio waves, while choosing instead to see the Internet as the Future and the public airwaves as a relic of the Past.

    They may be right. The public airwaves, at some time in the not-so-distant future, may become completely irrelevant to public discourse and education of the electorate. But, for now at least, that remains anything but the case, no matter how much progressive warriors for Net Neutrality might choose to see it that way.

    I pressed Timothy Karr of FreePress.net, a long-time leader in the fight for Net Neutrality, about that issue some years ago while I was guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show. He disputed my assertion that media reformers had abandoned the fight for the public airwaves.

    "We have not backed off this issue one inch," he said. He felt a restoration of the Fairness Doctrine which Ronald Reagan dissolved in 1987, however, was not the answer to the problem. He argued that any such government mandate requiring any sort of balance over our public airwaves in regard to controversial issues would be met with successful First Amendment challenges.

    Instead, he averred, the answer was in forcing diversity of ownership for radio and TV licensees.

    "We are strong believers that in order to create a more accountable, diverse and democratic media system, you have to break up some of the ownership structures that have been put in place over the last 20 years --- basically since the 1996 Telecommunications Act --- that allowed for companies like Clear Channel to consolidate control over 1,200 radio stations."

    Following Reagan's dissolution of the long-standing Fairness Doctrine, Karr explained, the "1996 Telecommunications Act sort of kicked out the stops to the consolidation of the industry that we've seen, and that gave rise to the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs and the Sean Hannitys."

    "So the work that we're doing right now is to try to find other ways that we can break up ownership structure to limit the amount of radio stations that a single company can control in a certain area, to make sure that there are protections in place that allow for more diversity in ownership."

    He noted, at the time, that "minorities make up about 33% of our population...and yet they own only about 5% of our radio and television broadcast licenses." Unfortunately, those ownership numbers have changed very little since my conversation with Karr several years ago.

    Indeed, as The BRAD BLOG reported on January 21st, 2009, on the day that Barack Obama was first inaugurated, his then new White House website promised on its "Technology" Page to take action to "Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media...and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum."

    The statement offered a bit of hope at the time. Yet, by summer of the same year, as I reported at Alternet, that paragraph had been quietly excised from the White House website entirely. The nascent effort seems to have been largely abandoned by both the White House and supposed media reformers in the ensuing years.

    "The FCC needs to break up local monopolies," Karr asserted during my radio interview with him in 2010. They need to "set ownership caps on the number of stations that one company can own and also create allowances on the airwaves for diversity of ownership, so that you'll see, rather than five to six companies owning most of the radio and broadcast televisions stations in the country, you'll see hundreds and hundreds of them."

    He pointed us, at the time, to Free Press' campaign on media ownership at StopBigMedia.com, where the group continues to draw attention to large corporate media mergers. Unfortunately, the effort seems to have borne little fruit in establishing diversity of any sort on our public airwaves in the meantime. In fact, the problem seems only to have gotten worse since then, as Clear Channel and other licensees of virtually all of our public broadcast frequencies have removed anything but rightwing talk radio from the political spectrum heard over the air.

    "This is the big enchilada. This is what's killing us. The fact that the people no longer own the people's airwaves, and in fact they are being lied to over those airwaves," I responded to Karr at the time. "And we're spending a lot of time fighting the necessary fight for Net Neutrality, but it really is, I hate to say it, low hanging fruit, when the big enchilada is taking back our airwaves."

    In her 2009 documentary, Broadcast Blues, media maven Wilson used these charts to highlight the radical imbalance of political talk over our public airwaves at the time...

    Since the maps above were created, back when 95% of the country could hear Rightwing corporatist talk radio for free over our publicly-owned airwaves, but less than 10% could hear alternative political points of view, the situation has quietly become far worse. Almost all of the commercial progressive stations represented on the second map above have since been replaced with other types of programming.

    Clear Channel owned stations such as KPOJ in Portland, Green960 in San Francisco, KTLK in Los Angeles and CBS-owned KPTK in Seattle have all flipped from progressive talk to rightwing talk or other formats in the ensuing years, leaving listeners in those very progressive pockets of the nation, not to mention everywhere else, without free radio access to viewpoints that counter the ubiquitous corporatist narrative.

    "If more than just six 'persons' were in charge of radio, as is now the case," Wilson wrote for The BRAD BLOG in 2011, snarkily underscoring the absurdity of "corporate personhood" in her remarks, "we would naturally get more diversity of political thought, more debate over real issues, and more localism, which once was the hallmark of terrestrial radio."

    The battle for Net Neutrality --- one that this site has joined since at least 2007 --- was never easy, nor its happy outcome certain. Its importance should, by now, be self-evident to all but those who have been disinformed about it --- ironically enough --- over our public airwaves. But the fight to claw back those very airwaves from corporate interests which fail to use them in the "public interest" has always been a much more difficult fight. It is a fight, however, that should never have been side-tracked and/or abandoned. And now, with the battle for Net Neutrality largely won (save for the inevitable political and legal battles that will be launched in an attempt to undermine it), perhaps proponents of free and open speech can turn some more of their energies back to the fight for our public airwaves.

    As I've noted many times over the years, the public airwaves are a very limited entity, a scarce resource, and, thus, their use in the public interest has long ago been determined, by law and the courts, to be an issue of national importance. The government should be protecting those limited resources with the same vigor it protects the limited resources of our National Park system. Free speech proponents must demand no less. Now, perhaps, they'll have a bit more time to do so.


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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Oh, Bummer: Tea Partying Former Sheriff Now Begging Public to Pay For His Health Care]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11058 2015-03-02T03:14:37Z 2015-03-02T03:14:37Z Barack Obama Health Care Republicans 'Tea Party' The courageous 'Tea Party' leader and former County Sheriff who hid behind the women on the 'front lines of freedom' at the Bundy Ranch last year, is now asking the public to pay for much needed health care for both himself and his wife. Via TPM...

    Former Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, a fierce opponent of Obamacare and a leader in the "constitutional sheriff" movement, is struggling to pay his medical bills after he and his wife each faced serious illnesses. The former sheriff and his wife do not have health insurance and started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations from family and friends to cover the costs of their medical care.

    "Because they are self-employed, they have no medical insurance and are in desperate need of our assistance," reads a note on Mack's personal website.

    Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, suffered a heart attack in January and is in recovery. His wife fell ill late last year. Mack is on the board of Oath Keepers, a right-wing fringe group made up of police and military veterans, and is known for supporting Cliven Bundy in his standoff against the federal government. He is also an ardent opponent of Obamacare.

    Well, huh. If only the tens of millions of Americans who were unable to receive health care prior to enactment of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), had just made a public name for themselves and then created GoFundMe sites to convince others to give them money to help pay for their care.

    Others paying money to help their fellow countrymen receive health care. Now where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah. Too bad Mack appears to have been too much of a dumbass to sign up for Obamacare following his heart attack in January and prior to the close of this year's open enrollment period. We suspect he would have received great care at an affordable rate.

    In case you don't recognize the name, Mack is the guy who, during the wingnut uprising in support of scofflaw Nevada rancher/bigot Cliven Bundy last year, discussed the Tea Partiers' courageous plan to use their wives as human shields. "We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front," Mack told Fox "News". "If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."

    Here's hoping both he and his wife receive the important medical care they deserve, even if other people are paying for it --- just as they would have, without begging, had Mack bothered to sign himself and his wife up for that federal tyranny known as Obamacare.


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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Toon In Memoriam: 'Logic and Reason']]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11056 2015-02-28T16:36:42Z 2015-02-28T16:36:42Z Toons In Memoriam

    Hat-tip @TomTomorrow who notes that the toon above, from September of last year, won a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators on Thursday, the day before Leonard Nimoy passed away on Friday. "Seems somewhat bittersweet now," he added. "Wonder if @TheRealNimoy ever saw it."


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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA['Senator Snowball']]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11055 2015-02-27T18:35:31Z 2015-02-27T18:35:31Z Environment U.S. Senate Sheldon Whitehouse James Inhofe Climate change Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Chair of the Senate Environment Committee, offered the following persuasive argument on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday to underscore his case that "global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people"...

    Pretty rock solid evidence. Nonetheless, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was somehow able to muster up a response...


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    Ernest A. Canning <![CDATA[Why FCC's New 'Net Neutrality' Rules Are Likely To Survive Legal, Congressional Challenges]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11054 2015-02-27T14:05:15Z 2015-02-27T14:05:15Z Rights And Freedoms U.S. Senate Barack Obama Net Neutrality Democrats Republicans FCC Bush Legacy Tom Wheeler Jon Thune On Thursday, by way of a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted 'Net Neutrality' regulations that embody the "bright-line" rules that had been proposed by President Barack Obama last November.

    The new policy is unquestionably a victory for both the idea of Internet freedom, as well as for the unprecedented campaign waged by the public to advocate in favor of 'Net Neutrality' over the past several years. An outspoken public won the day, for a change, against very powerful interests. It was a victory that, particularly over previous years, seemed to be anything but assured.

    Of course, as anticipated, the ruling drew harsh reactions from some Congressional Republicans as well as major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which could otherwise profit from the imposition of tolls on the Internet. (See two video explainers at end of article). Those reactions included a prediction by AT&T and by the Telecommunications Association, an industry trade group, that the new rules would be overturned either by Congress or the courts.

    While both litigation and a GOP challenge to the newly adopted 'Net Neutrality' rules are almost certain, neither legal nor Congressional challenges are likely to succeed. Here's why…

    'Bright-line' rules

    An FCC Fact Sheet reflects that Thursday's ruling amounts to an adoption of the "bright-line" rules for 'Net Neutrality' that the President described last November.

    As we previously reported, the President’s "bright line" rules included:

    *No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player --- not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP --- gets a fair shot at your business.

    *No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others --- through a process often called "throttling" --- based on the type of service or your ISP's preferences.

    *Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs --- the so-called "last mile" --- is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.

    *No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a "slow lane" because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet's growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.

    To ensure that these bright line rules are enforced, the FCC created, for itself, the "authority to hear complaints and take appropriate enforcement action…to address issues that may arise in the exchange of traffic between mass-market providers and edge providers."

    The bright-line rules are not, as suggested by Verizon in its News Release, an abstract concern. Back in 2007, Comcast was caught red-handed when it deployed technology that would have crippled the services of file-sharing networks.

    Likely to withstand legal challenge

    In January 2014, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in D.C., in Verizon Communications, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, struck down an "Open Internet Order" that had been adopted in 2010 by a sharply divided FCC.

    The court struck down the Open Internet Order not because of substantive deficiencies in the concept of "net neutrality," but because the FCC had failed to first reverse regulations that a Republican-controlled FCC had adopted in 2002.

    The issue entails the FCC's regulatory authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. As the Court of Appeal observed at the time, during the Clinton administration, the FCC "classified Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services --- broadband Internet service furnished over telephone lines --- as 'telecommunications services'" within the meaning of the Act. That classification was critical to the FCC's authority to regulate broadband Internet service providers and keep them from charging more (or less) to access certain Internet websites.

    However, in 2002, the George W. Bush appointees to the FCC reversed that classification. The FCC "determined that cable broadband providers...were...not telecommunication carriers" --- a reclassification that exempts broadband providers "from Title II" regulations that would otherwise allow the FCC to oversee Internet access in a way that is similar to a utility, like electricity.

    In essence, since those 2002 classification remained in place, the FCC, by reason of its own rules, lacked the authority to impose its "net neutrality" regulations on entities that were "not telecommunications carriers" and therefore not subject to FCC regulation under Title II.

    Acutely aware of that legal ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, himself a former telecommunication lobbyist, rectified the regulatory authority issue.

    As explained by the FCC Fact Sheet, Wheeler’s now-adopted proposal reclassified "broadband Internet service…as a telecommunications service" within both Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act.

    The FCC added, that "if a court finds that it is necessary to classify the service that broadband providers make available to 'edge providers,' it too is a Title II telecommunications service."

    The FCC takes the position that "Title II’s 'just and reasonable' standard and the Verizon court’s finding that Section 706 authorizes the FCC to protect the 'virtuous circle' of network innovation and infrastructure development provide standards for the FCC to protect Internet openness against new tactics that would close the Internet."

    Given the care taken by the FCC to overcome legal hurdles, it does not come as a surprise that Stanford University Law Professor Barbara van Schewick, a 'Net Neutrality' expert, "was optimistic" about the likelihood that the FCC's newly enacted rules would survive a legal challenge.

    Legislation unlikely

    While 'Net Neutrality' is opposed by the powerful telecommunications lobby and by their GOP allies, the truth of the matter, according to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), is that the GOP lacks the votes necessary to secure passage of a bill that would overturn the FCC’s new rules.

    As The BRAD BLOG explained when covering the President’s prior announcement, ‘Net Neutrality’ not only pits Democrats against a small (if growing) caucus of far-right Republicans, but the powerful high tech sector of the economy against the powerful would-be gatekeepers or ISPs.

    Yet, it was the American public which won, as the President mentioned in a letter penned shortly after the FCC handed down this momentous ruling. "More than 4 million wrote in to the FCC," Obama proclaimed, "overwhelmingly in support of a free and fair internet."

    * * *

    This New York Times video provides an easy to follow explanation of 'Net Neutrality'...:

    * * *

    And then there’s this second, much funnier video describing the interests of companies like AT&T in killing net neutrality (NOTE: The video below was originally published at The BRAD BLOG in 2007 and features Brad Friedman as the voice of then AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre.):

    * * *
    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.


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    Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - February 26, 2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11053 2015-02-26T23:59:33Z 2015-02-26T23:59:33Z Massachusetts Environment Green News Canada Oil Climate change Extreme weather Keystone XL Oceans

     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Influence of climate change on our schizophrenic extreme winter weather; Scientists say geo-engineering is madness, but we should study it anyway (CUE THE CHEMTRAILS!); Shell Oil nixes plan for Canadian tar sands mine; PLUS: There's a sucker born every minute: man makes money off of bottled snow... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    It's our 6th anniversary! THANK YOU for sharing it with us! Please help us to continue to connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!!!
    PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

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

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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): Siberia's melting permafrost: crater saga is scarier than anyone thought; Berkeley study directly IDs climate change culprit; Even earth scientists struggle to defeat global warming using interactive game; Should California resurrect a plan to pipe in water from Alaska?; TEPCO failed to disclose Fukushima radioactive water leak; Will solar eclipse cause blackouts in Germany? [No.]; Ocean acidification already hurting Pacific NW oyster industry... PLUS: Google wants to help you buy solar panels for your house... 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 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[U.S. 'Electoral Integrity' Ranked 45th Among 107 Nations, 'Worst of Established Democracies']]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11050 2015-02-25T14:35:13Z 2015-02-25T14:35:13Z Election Reform Photo ID Laws Voter Registration Vote Caging Election 2012 Election 2014 [This article now cross-published by Salon...]

    Electoral integrity has not improved in the U.S. over the past year, according to a new study. In fact, elections in Mexico now have more integrity than ours, the new survey, based on the observations of some 1,400 international election experts, finds.

    Last year we reported: "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."

    Well, bad news --- of a sort. This year's new Electoral Integrity Project report [PDF] is now out. It takes into account the 2014 mid-term elections in the U.S. and more elections in a number of additional countries. It appears the U.S. has fallen a few pegs from it's 26th place ranking in last year's report [emphasis in the original]...

    [C]ontests in the United States scored the worst performance among any long-established democracy. Hence the 2012 Presidential elections was ranked 42nd worldwide, while the 2014 mid-term Congressional races was ranked 45th, similar to Colombia and Bulgaria. One reason is that experts expressed growing concern over US electoral laws and processes of voter registration, both areas of heated partisan debate.

    To make matters worse, the survey fails to examine the effects of vote-casting and counting technology on the integrity of elections. But, while the new report highlights what appears to be a huge drop in U.S. election integrity since last year's study, with our most recent national elections now ranked just worse than Mexico's and slightly better than those in Barbados, it's not all as bad as the plummeting ranking would seem to suggest...

    Broader data this year

    The Electoral Integrity Project's report is based on input from election experts worldwide, examining "all national parliamentary and presidential elections held in independent nation-states (with a population of more than 100,000)."

    The previous report, the group's first, covered "73 national parliamentary and presidential contests held worldwide in 66 countries from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013."

    The new one, however, surveys a larger number of countries and several more election cycles in them, covering "127 national parliamentary and presidential contests held worldwide in 107 countries from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2014."

    So with more countries (now 107, rather than 66) and more elections (now 127, rather than 73) graded by the experts, the overall rankings have changed a bit.

    Where the 2012 U.S. Presidential election was rated in last years report as having only "moderate" integrity, by the study's benchmark, the 2014 Congressional elections in the U.S. slipped a bit lower.

    "The number of elections has expanded," project leader Pippa Norris of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government explained to The BRAD BLOG via email, "so it isn't clear whether there has actually been a fall. Better to say that the 2014 US midterms were ranked slightly lower than the 2012 presidential elections."

    Each election cycle in each country is graded by the experts in the study. That input is placed into a 100-point index and then a comparative ranking based on 49 different indicators in 11 different stages of elections, such as Electoral Laws, Electoral Procedures, Voter Registration, Media Coverage, Campaign Finance and Voting Process.

    The index is compiled in the survey into a "Perception of Electoral Integrity" (PEI) index. The 2012 Presidential election in the U.S. scored a 70.2 PEI. By that measure, it was ranked just just behind Micronesia's 2013 legislative election. The new score for the 2014 Congressional elections in the U.S. slipped to 69.3, one notch in the rankings ahead of Colombia and just behind both Barbados and Mexico.

    Where the 2012 Presidential election ranked 26th overall in the previous report, that same election now ranks 42nd among the larger sample. Our Congressional election ranked 45th.

    U.S. elections 'relatively poor'

    According to the new report, the project's "concept of 'electoral integrity' refers to international standards and global norms governing the appropriate conduct of elections."

    Some forty domestic and international experts were consulted about each election covered in the report, reflecting the views of 1,429 election experts.

    The study finds "Elections in United States stand out as relatively poorly ranked by experts compared with other established democracies, deserving further scrutiny."

    For similar reasons offered in last year's report, when the studies' experts rated the overall PEI of the 2012 Presidential election, "The November 2014 Congressional elections got poor grades because experts were concerned about the electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance."

    The study cites U.S. voter registration, "in particular", as a concern. It cites new laws regarding access to the polls as "increasingly polarized and litigious...ever since the 2000 'Florida' debacle, generating growing controversy in state-houses and the courts."

    "America also suffers from exceptionally partisan and decentralized arrangements for electoral administration," according to the study, which finds that recent Supreme Court decisions "suggest that the role of money in American politics deserves more detailed scrutiny."

    What about the machines?

    While the study examines a number of aspects during the "Vote Count" stage of elections, such as whether or not ballot boxes are "secure"; whether results are announced "without undue delay"; whether votes are "counted fairly"; and whether or not international and domestic election monitors are restricted, the survey fails to examine specific methods of vote casting and counting and the effect that may have on reported election results.

    As The BRAD BLOG has spent more than ten years documenting, the method used for vote casting and counting --- and, with it, the electorate's ability to oversee the accuracy of the count --- this is no small matter. How votes are cast and tabulated can have an extraordinary effect (positively or negatively) on both the accuracy of elections as well as confidence in reported results.

    Computerized voting systems --- such as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines --- are 100% impossible to verify for accuracy after polls have closed. Yet, they are still used in about one-third of the country, and elsewhere around the world.

    Hand-marked paper ballots can be examined after an election, but most jurisdictions in the U.S. tally those ballots by computerized optical-scan systems which either report results accurately or not. Without a human examination of those paper ballots --- only sometimes allowed in the rare event a recount --- it's impossible to know whether results have been accurately tallied and reported.

    By way of just one recent example, which citizens happened to notice, a November 2014 referendum in a small Wisconsin town, tallied by a computerized optical-scan system last year, reported only 16 votes cast by some 5,350 voters. Luckily, the problem was so obvious, attributed to a programming error by a local election official, it was too ridiculous to be overlooked. The correct results were eventually determined by publicly hand-counting the hand-marked paper ballots.

    But what of malfunction or malfeasance in vote counts that are not so easily discovered, thanks to a lack of human-verified results? For example, a computer optical-scan system in Palm Beach County, FL announced the "winners" of four different elections incorrectly in 2012. Only a sharp-eyed election official and an eventual court-sanction hand-count determined that three of four of the originally announced "winners" were actually the losers of their races. In New York's 2010 elections, thousands of ballots were inaccurately tallied by op-scan systems, though the failure was not publicly confirmed until 2012.

    Those are just a few of the scores (if not hundreds) of similar reports we've covered over the years. And, of course, the accuracy of results from DRE systems can never be discovered at all. Jurisdictions that use them should clearly have their rankings penalized by the Election Integrity Project, whose report is subtitled "Why elections fail and what we can do about it". But so should jurisdictions which do not verify results or allow citizens to do so themselves. Additionally, the effect that such systems have on overall confidence in the results of elections, and subsequent interest by citizens in participating in them, should not be overlooked.

    On this point, Harvard's Norris explained to us that their study is "technology neutral" and does not factor in such elements. "We don't ask questions about specific types of technologies, in part because this varies from place to place," she said.

    While she correctly notes that "many countries don't use electronic technologies in balloting," she did not seem particularly receptive to the point that the way in which votes are cast and tabulated (and whether that count can be overseen by the public and known to be accurate) is a key aspect of electoral integrity. Her responses confirmed that those elements are only cursorily analyzed in the report by the very generalized questions regarding whether "Ballot boxes were secure" and if "Votes were counted fairly", and, perhaps, the question regarding whether "election monitors were restricted". (Naturally, if those monitors are unable to see inside a computer as to whether a vote is tabulated accurately, that would seem to be a very severe "restriction" on monitoring the most important point of the process.)

    "There is no reason to assume a priori that vote counts using electronic or paper ballots are necessarily more honest or accurate," she says. That's a point we would vigorously dispute, even if only in the perception of accuracy, and the negative effect that unverified tallies have on confidence in elections and, thus, election integrity itself.

    Norris adds: "The expert survey is only one component of the larger project and data collection. For example, we have another related project looking at public opinion towards electoral integrity."

    The Electoral Integrity Project is relatively young. The broader scope of data analyzed in this year's new report is helpful, even as it shakes up previous rankings a bit. That's not unexpected as the breadth of their work matures. But, while offering a valuable comparative analysis of the integrity of various world democracies certainly provides a helpful yardstick --- and hopefully encourage countries to improve their own standings --- inclusion of the net effects of the type of vote-casting and counting systems used (along with the ability for the citizenry to oversee and verify results produced by them), would be a valuable and much-needed addition to their work.

    * * *
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    ]]>
    Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - February 24, 2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11052 2015-02-25T00:18:42Z 2015-02-25T00:18:42Z North Carolina Mainstream Corporate Media Accountability Environment Barack Obama Republicans Nebraska State Department Green News James Inhofe Koch Industries Coal Canada Oil Climate change Keystone XL Exxon Mobil eminent domain

     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: VETOED: Obama nixes Keystone XL pipeline bill; EXPOSED: prominent climate denier researcher funded by fossil fuel industry; BUSTED: Duke Energy clipped by the Feds; Sorry, deniers: Climate change is not caused by the sun; PLUS: It's GNR's 6th Anniversary!.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    It's our 6th anniversary! THANK YOU for sharing it with us! Please help us to continue to connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!!!
    PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

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

    Link:
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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): Obama is right: climate change kills more people than terrorism; New U.S. heat records outnumber new cold records; Solar energy now unstoppable force; White House proposes first-ever Arctic oil drill rules; Roll up those windows: traffic pollution is killing you; Bjorn Lomborg: we must pollute the world's poor with coal pollution; Marines graduate into solar industry... PLUS: The true impact of not recycling your old electronics... 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)...

    • The true impact of not recycling your old electronics (Treehugger):
      If we collectively did our part and Americans recycled the 130 million cellphones that are thrown away each year, we would save enough energy to power 24,000 homes....For every million cell phones recycled, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium could be recovered.
    • Obama Is Right: Climate Change Kills More People Than Terrorism (The New Republic):
      Twenty governments commissioned an independent report in 2012 from the group DARA International to study the human and economic costs of climate change. It linked 400,000 deaths worldwide to climate change each year, projecting deaths to increase to over 600,000 per year by 2030.
    • VIDEO: Cold Snap Freezes East, but Across US, It’s Mostly Heat Records that Are Being Set (Climate Crocks)
    • Unstoppable: Solar Power Comes of Age - How Harnessing the Sun Got Cheap and Practical (Foreign Affairs):
      This time really is different: solar power is ready to compete on its own terms. The momentum behind solar power is a result of innovations in regulation, industry, technology, and financing. In a number of markets, it no longer needs public subsidies to compete on price with conventional power sources, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.
    • White House Proposes First-Ever Rules For Oil Drilling In The Arctic (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:
      “There is no proven way to respond to a spill in icy Arctic waters and, as Shell unfortunately demonstrated, companies simply are not ready for the Arctic Ocean,” Susan Murray, Ocean’s deputy vice president for the Pacific, told the Guardian. “Until and unless companies can operate safely and without harming the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, the government has no business allowing them into the region.”
    • Your Car Is Slowly Killing You (Take Part):
      A new study shows that drivers are exposed to high levels of pollution when stopped at traffic lights—here's some strategies to reduce that risk.
    • For Bjorn Lomborg, Shilling For Anti-Environmental Causes Is A Matter Of Life And Death (Media Matters) [emphasis added]:
      Of course, that wasn't the conclusion of the study Lomborg was citing. The University of Minnesota researchers instead emphasized that "electric vehicles (EVs) powered by electricity from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power are best for improving air quality, whereas vehicles powered by corn ethanol and EVs powered by coal are the worst." In other words, the solution is moving away from coal as quickly as possible, not scrapping electric cars.
      ...
      So to recap Lomborg's argument: Electric cars kill people because they are powered with coal, but poor countries should embrace coal in order to prevent deaths.
    • On Rajendra Pachauri's Resignation from the UN Climate Panel: (Dot Earth, NY Times):
      Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2002, resigned today amid allegations of sexual harassment by a 29-year-old female employee of the Indian energy institute he has long run.
    • Marines Graduate to Second Career in Solar (Triple Pundit):
      On February 13, the Department of Energy announced the first class of Marines graduated from the pilot phase of its SunShot Initiative solar energy industry training program. As the Energy Department explains, the groundbreaking program prepares “service members for careers in the solar industry as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related opportunities.”
    • US Oyster, Clam Farms Face Economic Blow From Acidification: Study (Reuters):
      U.S. shellfish producers in the Northeast and the Gulf of Mexico will be most vulnerable to an acidification of the oceans linked to climate change that makes it harder for clams and oysters to build shells, a study said on Monday.
    • New York City Could See 6-Foot Sea Rise, Tripling of Heat Waves by 2100 (Scientific American):
      Coastal communities, like many on Staten Island and in low-lying Brooklyn and Queens, could be in particular jeopardy, with storms likely to alter local beaches and coastlines. To date, the city has already dumped 26,000 linear feet of sand along Staten Island's shorelines, for instance, but that number could pale in comparison with future adaptation needs, the report said.
    • "More research" into geoengineering is not such a hot idea (Grist):
      Regarding albedo modification, I cannot improve on the piquant words of environmental scientist Raymond T. Pierrehumbert: "the idea of 'fixing' the climate by hacking the Earth's reflection of sunlight is wildly, utterly, howlingly barking mad."
      ...
      If it's crazy today, it would be crazy tomorrow, so why not just abandon it?
    • Now's Your Chance to Help Save the Imperiled Monarch Butterfly-and Get Paid to Do So (Take Part) [emphasis added]:
      Another threat, according to Grant, has been well-intentioned individuals who have planted a tropical form of milkweed, which competes with native varieties and is not beneficial to monarchs or other pollinators.
    • It's Not Too Late To Stop Climate Change, And It'll Be Super-Cheap (Climate Progress):
      I rarely disagree with Dave Roberts. But he has a column on Grist, "We can solve climate change, but it won't be cheap or easy," that is wrong, pure and simple....The most important climate issue is the cost and consequences of inaction.


    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:

  • ]]>