The BRAD BLOG http://bradblog.com Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! Wed, 28 Jan 2015 04:19:35 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.2 en It's BRAD BLOG's Eleventh Anniversary! http://bradblog.com/?p=11020 http://bradblog.com/?p=11020#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 15:35:28 +0000 Brad Friedman BRAD BLOG http://bradblog.com/?p=11020 if (window.document.getElementById('post-11020')) window.document.getElementById('post-11020').parentNode.className += ' adhesive_post';
The BRAD BLOG is now 11 years old! Seriously. And holy crap.

I can't thank all of our readers enough --- not to mention all of our many content contributors over the years --- for all you've done to help support our work here over so many years.

While 11 years is not as much of a milestone as, say, our 5th or 10th birthdays, it still kinda blows my mind as we head into our 12th year of non-stop, independent trouble-making and muckraking. Even as we do, of course, I still need your help as we continue to fight the sometimes-impossible odds of remaining completely independent of corporate or partisan or foundational control.

So, if you can help us out with a Happy Anniversary present today, it'd be greatly appreciated! If you can afford to make that gift a monthly sustaining pledge, it is all the more appreciated as I continue to fight to figure out ways to afford to keep us going here. (Yes, I hate the fund raising even more than you do! Unfortunately, its a necessity, no matter how bad I am at it!) At any rate, my thanks for whatever you can do to help support us, whether that means donating, commenting, sharing links or simply taking action in some way on something that you've learned here. It all means a great deal. So, thank you. Very much. For all. --- Brad

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'Green News Report' - January 27, 2015 http://bradblog.com/?p=11022 http://bradblog.com/?p=11022#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 23:47:47 +0000 Desi Doyen West Virginia Alaska New York Environment Barack Obama Republicans Green News Lisa Murkowski Natural gas Oil Climate change Extreme weather Keystone XL Transportation http://bradblog.com/?p=11022

 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hits, misses and hype in a not-so-historic Blizzard 2015!; The influence of global warming on the storm, with a 100% chance of denial; U.S. Interior Dept. to expand offshore drilling, as another pipeline explodes in West Virginia; PLUS: Obama calls on Republicans to permanently protect the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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): We can solve climate change, but it won’t be cheap or easy; Study: Global warming 'doubles risk' of extreme weather; 10 predictions for clean energy in 2015; Greenland lakes speeding ice sheet melt; Obama and Modi agree to advance nuclear energy in India; Anadarko's record $5 billion settlement; PA fracking companies routinely violate environmental laws... PLUS: Fossil-fueled Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections... 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)...

  • We can solve climate change, but it won’t be cheap or easy (Grist):
    Long story short, most decarbonization scenarios are thought experiments, not practical roadmaps. But when they are reported to the public, that distinction is often lost. More to the point, we are past the time when thought experiments are enough.
  • Study: Global warming 'doubles risk' of extreme weather (BBC):
    Extreme weather arising from a climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean will get much worse as the world warms, according to climate modelling....The latest data - based on detailed climate modelling work - suggests extreme La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean will almost double with global warming, from one in 23 years to one in 13 years.
  • Michael Liebreich: 10 predictions for clean energy in 2015 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance):
    Right now in the energy sector, everyone is transfixed by the big fight going on in the oil industry between conventional and unconventional production, OPEC vs non-OPEC, Saudi Arabia versus the frackers....The press, right now, is only interested in “dinosaur stories”. Welcome to 2015!
  • Fossil-fueled Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections (Washington Post) [emphasis added]:
    The massive financial goal was revealed to donors Monday during an annual winter meeting hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.
  • Greenland Lakes Could be Speeding Ice Melt
    (Climate Crocks) [emphasis added]:

    As happens so often in science, Mike Willis wasn’t actually looking for what he ended up discovering. The glaciologist was combing through satellite and GPS data to see what small, local effects could be clouding satellite measurements of larger changes in Earth’s gravity from ice loss. What he did not expect to find was a hole twice the size of Central Park in a small ice cap in the northern reaches of Greenland.
  • India PM Modi’s Clean-Energy Goals Face Funding, Political Hurdles (Bloomberg) [emphasis added]:
    Following meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama in New Delhi, Modi said India, a nation with some of the dirtiest air in the world and 400 million people without access to electricity, is prepared to use renewable power to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. The leaders also announced a breakthrough that may herald an expansion of carbon-free civilian nuclear projects.
  • Anadarko Pays Record $5.15 Billion Environmental Settlement (Environment News Service) [emphasis added]:
    “The Kerr-McGee Corporation spent decades despoiling our nation’s natural resources, leaving a toxic legacy for communities across the nation, from Sidney, New York, to the Navajo nation,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York. “Then, Kerr-McGee tried to escape the consequences of its misdeeds by transferring its most valuable assets to affiliates, leaving an insolvent shell behind, unable to pay its environmental liabilities,” said Bharara.
  • Pennsylvania Fracking Companies Regularly Commit Serious Environmental Violations (Climate Progress):
    [The report] found that the top 20 most frequently-violating companies broke the rules 1.5 times per day on average. “These violations are not ‘paperwork’ violations, but lapses that pose serious risks to workers, the environment and public health,” the report’s authors write.
  • Senate blocks measure to build Keystone XL pipeline; discussions will continue (Washington Post):
    Senate Democrats stalled the Republican-led push to construct the Keystone XL pipeline on Monday, dealing the first significant blow to the new GOP majority less than three weeks after it was sworn in.
  • VIDEO: Inside A Coal Ash Community That Can’t Use Its Tap Water (Cliamte Progress):
    Just this past summer, Gobble found out via tests from the group Waterkeeper Alliance that the water wells surrounding her home — including the one that provides her tap water — contain aluminum, chromium, lead, iron, manganese, and hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. Duke Energy, the company that owns the coal ash pond, has denied that the contamination is its doing.
  • VIDEO: New Senate Environment Chair Gets His Gavel, Goes On Rant Arguing Climate Science Is A Hoax (Climate Progress)
  • VIDEO: “..a Bloodbath”: Efficiency, Renewables and Smart Grid will Kill Old Energy (Climate Crocks):
    Not much doubt that everyone gets that we are transitioning to renewables, and soon. Obviously some spread in how fast they think it will happen.
  • Another Climate Denial Myth Scuttled as 2014 Confirmed Planet's Hottest Year Ever Recorded (The BRAD BLOG):
    How fossil-fueled global warming hoaxsters cherry-pick scientific data to con the incurious...


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:

  • ]]>
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    Senate Repubs Call Founder of Fake 'Voter Fraud' Group to Testify at Real AG Nomination Hearings http://bradblog.com/?p=11021 http://bradblog.com/?p=11021#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:27:34 +0000 Brad Friedman Photo ID Laws Accountability Dept. of Justice U.S. Senate Barack Obama Republicans ACORN 'Tea Party' True the Vote Loretta Lynch http://bradblog.com/?p=11021 While it's amusing enough that former CBS News reporter Sharyl "BENGHAZI!!!" Attkisson has been scheduled by Republicans to appear at this week's Senate confirmation hearings of U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, another "expert witness" called by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans is, arguably, even more absurd.

    Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the fraudulent Republican "voter fraud" group calling themselves True the Vote, is also scheduled to be called as a witness. Last September, as Dave Weigel notes at Bloomberg, when AG Eric Holder announced his intention to resign after a replacement was confirmed, Engelbrecht accused Holder of having carried out a "radical, racialist assault on voting rights."

    That's her opinion, of course, but for her own sake, given her group's hilarious track record of failure, prevarication and complete fabrication, the GOP may not want to force this woman to be sworn in before she testifies on Wednesday...

    True the Vote (TTV) and Engelbrecht have a short if storied history of utterly beclowning themselves. Over and over and over again.

    They first appeared on the Republican grifter scene in 2010, pretending to be a non-partisan, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) "election integrity" group. Their purpose, however, was quickly revealed as little more than an outfit set up to support the GOP push for polling place Photo ID restriction laws that serve to disproportionately disenfranchise poor, minority, student and elderly (read: Democratic-leaning) voters. That, despite the complete and total dearth of almost any actual polling place voter fraud that might be deterred by such GOP-supported voter suppression measures.

    It was unclear, when they first appeared, if Engelbrecht and her crew actually believed the horseshit they were selling about an epidemic of Democratic voter fraud at the polling place, or if they knew better, but didn't give a damn. In their inauspicious introductory video, TTV included the following photograph to underscore how "some people" are willing to cheat to win elections...

    Trouble is, the photo --- like the group itself, as we would subsequently learn (over and again) --- was a fake.

    "Here's the real photo," as we reported at the time, "and another one from the same series, taken at a protest in Florida following the 2000 election after tens of thousands of voters were incorrectly removed from the voting rolls by then Gov. Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State Katherine Harris, before voters were denied a full and fair count of the ballots by the U.S. Supreme Court"...


    At the time, Engelbrecht told The BRAD BLOG that the photo was included in their introductory video because it was "the subject of much speculation".

    She never responded to our follow-up queries asking for details about what the "speculation" was concerning the faked photograph, but TTV was subsequently embarrassed enough to remove the video in question and re-render it without the phony photo.

    "When it was brought to our attention that there were questions about the photo, we took it out," she told us at the time (before she then stopped replying to our emails). "It was added as a filler between personal testimonies of election fraud and its omission did not change whatsoever the message of the video."

    "The message of the video," as she described it, included, among other nonsense, commentary from Republican crackpot David Horowitz alleging all matter of evil-doing by supposed Democrats, such as the charge that "ACORN is a voter fraud machine." Naturally, the video included exactly zero evidence of ACORN having committed any voter fraud, no doubt, because, in fact, there is no such evidence of the now-defunct community organization ever having actually committed any. There is, however, pretty decent evidence --- as we demonstrated first-hand in 2012 --- that David Horowitz himself is an unapologetic liar.

    But TTV's failed introductory video turned out to be the least of their embarrassments. Since then, while the funding from Rightwing Koch-funded Tea Party organizations has poured in (even while they continue to use the claim of being non-partisan as a tax dodge), things have gone down hill for them as they've failed to find fraud in election after election and, sometimes, resort to just making shit up out of whole cloth.

    Last November, for example, when we covered their most recent failure to unearth any voter fraud (Democratic or otherwise) across the nation, "despite an army of monitors and a new smartphone app," we summarized the discredited "voter fraud" fraudsters this way...

    "True the Vote"...has, since its dubious inception, received and spent a fortune over the years tripping over its own wingnut feet to publish fake "voter fraud!" data, find itself tossed out of courts, harass legal voters attempting to cast legal votes, and otherwise make repeated jackasses of themselves by attempting to perpetuate the well-worn, but fact-shy Republican hoax that there is a massive Democratic voter fraud epidemic at our polls.

    TTV was made even more famous lately when they were cited, by name, by 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge Richard Posner, a very well-respected Reagan-appointed conservative jurist, in his recent opinion on Wisconsin's Photo ID voting law. In Posner's devastating, must-read dissent decrying such discriminatory laws, the most well-cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according to the Yale Law School's Journal of Legal Studies, described the group's "evidence" of voter impersonation fraud as "downright goofy, if not paranoid," citing "the nonexistent buses that according to the 'True the Vote' movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places" to illegally cast a ballot.

    The solution to the pretend problem that TTV lies to its followers about, is, of course, polling place Photo ID restrictions that, as Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin wrote in striking down that state's discriminatory, unconstitutional law after a full trial earlier this year, serve only to "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

    So the group's newest embarrassing failure to uncover virtually any "voter fraud" at the polling places it monitored in dozens of states during Tuesday's mid-term general elections --- with an army of righteous and disinformed civilian wingnuts armed with a brand-new smart phone app --- comes as little surprise. It is, however, kind of amusing...

    You can click here to find out what they actually did find at the polling places across the country last November, since it is pretty hilarious.

    One might think being described as "downright goofy, if not paranoid" by perhaps the Right's most revered, Reagan-appointed federal judge might disqualify someone from being called to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. But, of course, one might have thought that before today's Republican Party took control of the committee this year after gaining the majority when Democrats appear to have failed to carry out their notoriously ingenious voter fraud skills last November.

    So Engelbrecht will, for some reason, be called to testify by Republicans in the U.S. Senate at the otherwise very serious confirmation hearings for the next Attorney General of the United States. What, James O'Keefe in a pretend pimp suit wasn't available?

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

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    Sorry, Fox, But No 'News' Is Good News http://bradblog.com/?p=11019 http://bradblog.com/?p=11019#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:23:46 +0000 Brad Friedman Fox 'News' SOTU Barack Obama http://bradblog.com/?p=11019 There's a reason why we always refer to Fox "News" here with quotes around that second word. Simply put, they're not a news outlet, they're a Republican propaganda outlet. That's fine, but it ain't news. Looks like the White House may have finally developed their own quiet version of that, as noted by Shepard Smith following his pre-SOTU luncheon at the White House last week...

    In 2009, the White House took a bunch of push-back (and largely folded to it), when their Communications Director at the time told CNN: "What I think is fair to say about Fox --- and certainly it's the way we view it --- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party. They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."

    They were right (correct, I mean, if not necessarily politically wise), in calling out Fox back then for what they are, even as they publicly backed off the accurate assertion in the face of the usual outrage --- OUTRAGE! --- from the Fox "News" Stooge Brigade. They are no less correct now in dropping the word "News" when referring to Fox...even if it wasn't necessarily meant as a slight in this case. It just happens to be true. Sorry, Shep.

    [Hat-tip Blue Nation Review & @JillEBond on the Twitters.]


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    Republicans Remove 'Civil, Human Rights' From Name of U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee http://bradblog.com/?p=11018 http://bradblog.com/?p=11018#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 23:33:54 +0000 Brad Friedman Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution John Conyers U.S. Senate Immigration Republicans Jeff Sessions http://bradblog.com/?p=11018 While the specific names of U.S. Senate and House committees don't always foretell precisely what very specific areas they may oversee or regard as their own purview, the renaming of such a committee by its new chair, as is occasionally done at the start of a new session, particularly when control of the chamber changes hands from one party to another, can be very telling.

    I believe this may be one such instance where quite a bit can actually be read into the new name for what had previously been the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee's "Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights"...

    As reported by Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly of Huffington Post...

    WASHINGTON --- Senate Republicans revealed this week that they have eliminated the phrase "civil rights and human rights" from the title of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee charged with overseeing those issues.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee this month and announced the members of the six subcommittees this week. With Grassley's announcement, the subcommittee formerly known as the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights suddenly became the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

    The new chairman of the newly named subcommittee is Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). His office confirmed that it made the switch.

    "We changed the name because the Constitution covers our most basic rights, including civil and human rights," said Cornyn spokeswoman Megan Mitchell. "We will focus on these rights, along with other issues that fall under the broader umbrella of the Constitution."

    In his press release, Cornyn never used the phrase "civil rights" or "human rights." Instead, the release said he would be a "watchdog against unconstitutional overreach and will hold the Obama Administration accountable for its actions." Cornyn is an opponent of legislation that would restore federal oversight over some local and state election changes that were eliminated when the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

    Nancy Zirkin, executive VP at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noticed the named change and described it as "discouraging".

    "Names matter. This, after all, is a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of many of our most important civil rights laws," she told HuffPo in a statement Friday. "We only hope that this troubling name change doesn't foretell a heedless retreat on civil and human rights."

    Well, of course it foretells exactly that. Bank on it. Just as assuredly as hardline anti-immigration Senator Jeff Session (R-AL)'s new name for the Senate Judiciary committee's "Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security" foretells new plans (or lack thereof) for that committee.

    As HuffPo noted, Sessions has renamed that committee to the "Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest".

    What's in a name? In these cases --- particularly given what they've changed from and now to --- I'd say quite a bit. But, as they say, "elections have consequences". Hopefully all of those civil and human rights, not to mention refugees, all deliberately and ostentatiously thrown overboard by the U.S. Senate's new Republican regime, can hang on until January of 2017...


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    TransCanada Eminent Domain Lawsuit May Embarrass GOP Keystone XL Pipeline Supporters http://bradblog.com/?p=11015 http://bradblog.com/?p=11015#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 01:52:39 +0000 Ernest A. Canning Fox 'News' Sean Hannity Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution U.S. House Environment Democrats Republicans Nebraska U.S. Supreme Court Bush Legacy Canada Keystone XL eminent domain http://bradblog.com/?p=11015 Sean Hannity and his friends on the Republican right must be furious about the outrageous land grab happening to private American citizens in Nebraska. Wait, what? He's in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline project anyway? How could that be?

    The pipeline's owner, TransCanada Corp., has now filed an eminent domain action in a Nebraska state court seeking to force private landowners to grant an easement that would permit the Canadian-owned company to erect sections of the highly controversial Keystone XL on privately owned land.

    The new filing comes on the heels of a controversial decision earlier this month in which a 3-judge minority of the 7-judge Nebraska Supreme Court were permitted to overturn a lower court ruling that the process by which the state's Republican Governor Dave Heineman permitted TransCanada to revise the pipeline's route was unconstitutional. Heineman's decision was upheld because of a Cornhusker state requirement that state constitutionality be determined by a super-majority of high court's justices. (The new route was necessary after both the Republican Governor and GOP-controlled state legislature objected to the originally-planned route.)

    While the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision at the time served to shift the immediate focus of the debate back to Washington D.C., where the Republican-controlled House voted for fast-track approval of the pipeline and a similar bill is quickly working its way through the newly GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, TransCanada's eminent domain filing in the state may prove a major embarrassment to those same elected Republicans. Many of those same GOPers, and their mouthpieces in the media like Hannity, have previously declared fierce opposition to eminent domain abuse that occurs when either state or local entities condemn properties owned by ordinary citizens, where such condemnations primarily benefit commercial interests of wealthy corporations and developers...

    Questionable right even under Kelo

    In a 5 to 4 decision in Kelo v City of New London (2005), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of eminent domain by the economically depressed City of New London, CT to transfer property from private, middle-class homeowners to the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer via a redevelopment agency. The Court ruled that Pfizer's promised jobs creation was a "public purpose" justifying the use of eminent domain.

    However, the majority added:

    The city would no doubt be forbidden from taking petitioner's land for the purpose of conferring a private benefit on a particular private party, nor would the city be allowed to take property under the mere pretext of a public purpose when its actual purpose was to bestow a private benefit.

    The ephemeral nature of the "jobs" rationale was exposed when, eight years after the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo, Pfizer pulled up stakes, taking with it the 1,400 jobs it had created.

    TransCanada would be hard pressed to establish that its pipeline would create a significant number of jobs that would justify the use of eminent domain to seize permanent easements from rural Nebraskans. As found by a Cornell University report, a completed Keystone XL pipeline will likely produce "as few as 50" permanent jobs, nationwide.

    In its report at the beginning of last year, the U.S. State Department similarly found [PDF] that "The proposed Project would generate approximately 50 jobs during operations," a number which, late last year, was finally conceded by TransCanada CEO Russ Girling when he admitted to ABC News that the pipeline's "actual operating jobs are about 50."

    Hannity must be furious!

    Democrats and, especially, Republicans have a very recent public record of standing strongly in opposition to the usurpation of private land via the use of eminent domain.

    Following the SCOTUS Kelo decision, Sean Hannity of Fox "News" ran a series of stories about "eminent domain abuse across the United States," excoriating the government for seizing the private property of U.S. citizens. "Is that the America we want to live in, where you take a person's home?," Hannity railed during one of his 2005 episodes. "Sounds like the Soviet Union!"

    During the right-wing Cliven Bundy "scandal" last year, as Hannity pretended the scofflaw Nevada rancher was a victim of a government land grab, he lambasted the New York Times for ignoring the "real" issue at stake: "Its reporters don't have the time or the energy to stand with average Americans being victimized by eminent domain."

    Hannity, however, has been a big supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, describing opposition to the project recently as "just dumb."

    But its not only right-wing commentators who are having trouble keeping track of their own professed principles. Elected Republican officials who support Keystone XL have also pretended to be furious about eminent domain in the years since Kelo. During an April 18, 2013 hearing on the Republican-sponsored, H.R. 1944, the Private Property Protection Act, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), citing a 376 - 38 House vote in 2005, correctly observed that opposition to the Supreme Court's Kelo decision cuts across party lines --- a point reinforced by public opinion polls reflecting "that well over 80 percent of the public oppose Kelo."

    However, there can be no question but that self-described "conservatives," claiming to champion the rights of small businesses and those of individual home and farm owners, have been on the leading edge of opposition to the use of eminent domain to transfer private property to corporations. Thus, in her Kelo dissent --- joined by Justices Thomas, Scalia and Chief Justice Rehnquist --- former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor decried the "reverse Robin Hood" nature of the Kelo land grab. "The beneficiaries," she observed, "are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

    On July 22, 2006, George W. Bush responded to Kelo by issuing an executive order declaring:

    It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.

    To be sure, this matter will be a test for those claiming "conservative" credentials. It's a test they appear to be prepared to fail miserably.

    By assuming the populist mantle --- supporting the property rights of individuals, small businesses and family farms vs. corporate greed via their opposition to the Kelo decision --- self-proclaimed "conservative" Republicans painted themselves into a corner. They cannot maintain their professed populist principles while advancing the interests of, in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline, a foreign corporation seeking to use the power of eminent domain to seize private easements for private gain.

    Not that consistency has ever been a hobgoblin of "conservative" minds.

    * * *
    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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    'Green News Report' - January 22, 2015 http://bradblog.com/?p=11017 http://bradblog.com/?p=11017#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:36:32 +0000 Desi Doyen Iowa Montana Environment SOTU U.S. Senate Barack Obama Republicans Nebraska Green News James Inhofe BP Oil Disaster Canada 'Tea Party' Oil Wind Solar Climate change Keystone XL http://bradblog.com/?p=11017

     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Obama's State of the Union focuses on climate change; Republicans' sneaky move to give the Keystone XL pipeline a new name; Yellowstone River pipeline spill spews oil and cancer-causing benzene; PLUS: Yes, Republicans vote climate change is not a hoax --- but there's a catch... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    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): Global nuclear decommissioning costs spiral; Good news: India's tiger population rebounds; What's the best way to drill for oil in a mostly untouched Alaskan tundra? Feds disagree; Organic farmers say pesticide drift contaminates and kills; US research labs lets livestock suffer in quest for profit; NM county's fracking ban struck down; Cutbacks in the Oil Patch... PLUS: VIDEO: “..a Bloodbath”: Efficiency, Renewables and Smart Grid will Kill Old Energy... 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: “..a Bloodbath”: Efficiency, Renewables and Smart Grid will Kill Old Energy (Climate Crocks):
      Not much doubt that everyone gets that we are transitioning to renewables, and soon. Obviously some spread in how fast they think it will happen.
    • Global nuclear decommissiong costs are underestimated, may spiral (Reuters):
      German utility E.ON's breakup has led to worries that funds set aside for decommissioning reactors will not suffice, but globally the cost of unwinding nuclear is uncertain as estimates range widely.
    • Good news: India's tiger population rebounds, grows 30 per cent in 4 years (NY Times):
      India's tiger population has rebounded, growing more than 30 percent over the last four years to 2,226, according to a new government census released on Tuesday.
    • Federal agencies at odds over drilling plan for Alaska reserve: (E & E News):
      What's the best way to drill for oil in a mostly untouched Alaskan tundra, home to migrating caribou, abundant waterfowl, and Native Alaskan hunting and fishing grounds? It depends on which federal agency you ask.
    • Organic Farmers: Pesticide Drift Kills (Iowa Public Radio):
      Specialty crop farmers were at the [Iowa] capitol today complaining of damage to their produce from pesticide drift.
    • US research labs lets livestock suffer in quest for profit (NY Times):
      At a remote research center on the Nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry. The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise.
    • US judge strikes down NM county's fracking ban as unconstitutional (E & E News):
      A county's ban on hydraulic fracturing and drilling conflicts with both state and U.S. law, a federal court in New Mexico found this week.
    • Environmentalists reject Obama's call for expanded trade powers: (Huffington Post Green):
      Nearly 50 environmentalist organizations sent a letter Wednesday to every member of Congress, urging them to oppose granting President Barack Obama 'fast-track' authority to pass new free trade deals. The letter, signed by the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and dozens of other groups, comes the morning after Obama pressed for that power in his State of the Union address.
    • Oil Servicers and a Driller Announce Cutbacks (New York Times)
    • Another Climate Denial Myth Scuttled as 2014 Confirmed Planet's Hottest Year Ever Recorded (The BRAD BLOG):
      How fossil-fueled global warming hoaxsters cherry-pick scientific data to con the incurious...
    • The Hottest 'Hottest Year Ever' Ever (Motherboard) [emphasis added]:
      But 2014's Hottest Year Ever is, in fact, extraordinary. It should do more than serve as yet another reminder that human activity is cooking the planet's climate, and that despite this onslaught of hottest-ever years, we've done almost nothing to halt it....There was no El Niño in 2014, which means there was no extra boost in temperatures. This is just the new standard.
    • Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists (Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
      Humans are 'eating away at our own life support systems' at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years, two new research papers say.
      ...
      Of nine worldwide processes that underpin life on Earth, four have exceeded "safe" levels - human-driven climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans due to fertiliser use.
    • Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says (NY Times) [emphasis added]:
      "We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event," said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara...But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found...."We're lucky in many ways," said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. "The impacts are accelerating, but they're not so bad we can't reverse them."
    • The Saudis, Stones, and the End of the Age of Oil (Climate Crocks) [emphasis added]:
      In 2000, Sheikh Yamani, former oil minister of Saudi Arabia, gave an interview in which he said: "Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. ... [T]o Saudi Arabia, that end is clearly not so far away that the owner of the largest, most accessible crude resource is willing to continue to subsidize higher prices for other producers at the risk of leaving its own oil untapped one day in the future.


    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:

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    KPFK 'BradCast': The Progressive State of the Union with 'Digby', Amato, Dayen and Doyen http://bradblog.com/?p=11016 http://bradblog.com/?p=11016#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 02:19:04 +0000 Brad Friedman BRAD BLOG Media Appearance National Security Environment SOTU Barack Obama Democrats Republicans Economy Bush Legacy KPFK BradCast http://bradblog.com/?p=11016 I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast by some of the best bloggers/journalists in the nation (who all happen to live in L.A.) to discuss and deconstruct Obama's 2015 State of the Union Address, the Republican response and more.

    Our star-studded in-studio roundtable panel included (from left to right in the photo above) David Dayen of Salon, Heather 'Digby' Parton of Hullabaloo, John Amato from Crooks And Liars, me and Desi Doyen (not pictures, but ever present.)

    Nuff said. Listen up...

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


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    St. Louis County Election Director Forced Out by Election Board After November Failures http://bradblog.com/?p=11014 http://bradblog.com/?p=11014#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 08:03:53 +0000 Brad Friedman ES&S Election Irregularities Election Reform Missouri Paper Ballots Legislation Accountability Election 2014 http://bradblog.com/?p=11014 St. Louis County Director of Elections Rita Days, a former Democratic state Senator who we reported on last November, was unanimously removed from office by the County Board of Elections Commissioners on Tuesday night, according to a late report from KMOV...

    ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) --- After coming under scrutiny for problems during last year's elections, the St. Louis County Director of Elections is being forced out of her position.

    Rita Days was unanimously voted out of the position by the Board of Elections Commission.

    Days came under criticism last November when thousands of voters had to wait longer than expected because polling stations ran out of paper ballots.

    There is not yet word on who will replace Days.

    In the weeks following the November 2014 election, The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively on emails sent to Days by local Election Integrity advocates in advance of the election, advising that her plan for deploying paper ballots would likely fall short of demand on Election Day. It did. As St. Louis Public Radio reported on the day after the election, "unexpected demand for paper ballots caused a shortage at about 95 polling places throughout the county Tuesday. That's more than 20 percent of the county's 444 balloting sites."

    But, as we detailed in our own report, the demand was not "unexpected", as Days had been warned, well in advance, about the likelihood of paper ballots running out...

    While St. Louis County poll sites allow voters to vote on either unverifiable touch-screen systems or optically-scanned hand-marked paper ballots on Eleciton Day, Days had planned for enough paper ballots at each precinct to cover just 15% of voters, even though, according to analyses of previous elections by the local election experts, that number of paper ballots wouldn't be enough.

    The Election Integrity advocates expressed their concern in writing to Days several weeks earlier, though she seemed less than worried, as we reported at the time...

    In an email sent to Days on October 20th, Dr. Cynthia Richards, President of Missourians for Honest Elections (MoHE), a non-partisan advocacy group that has been encouraging the use of hand-marked paper ballots for years in the Show Me State, said the organization was "concerned" there might not "be enough paper ballots at every polling place on November 4th to cover all of the voters who would like to have one."

    Days responded to the email two days later, on October 22nd, to say that they had planned to allow voters the option of voting on paper or electronic systems, as they have for years, that 15% would be enough in most cases, but that the county was prepared to print more ballots on the day of the election if it was needed.

    "We are committed to giving voters the option of voting via paper or electronic," Days wrote in her response at the time to Richards. "We have slated 15% paper for election day. When poll workers notice that voters are using more paper than ivotronics [the 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems], they let the deputies know, they give us a call and we are prepared to deliver more paper ballots if that becomes necessary. If we are down to the last hour, we will not have an opportunity to deliver the ballots unless they are in the general vicinity of the election board."

    Another long-time Election Integrity advocate, Phillip Michaels of Missouri's Coalition for Transparent and Secure Elections (CTSE), also wrote to Days expressing his concern that "in the years other than Presidential elections, the percentage of votes on paper has been a steady 20%."

    "I know you are in the thick of your election prep now," Michaels wrote to the Election Director on October 23rd, "I just wanted to raise a possible warning flag."

    In fact, many voters reportedly refused to vote on the unverifiable systems on Electino Day and were told to return later after more ballots could be delivered. It is unknown how many voters never returned. A number of precincts across the county --- including some in the embattled town of Ferguson, where there had been a specific push to turn out voters last November --- were forced to stay open an hour or two after the normal closing time in order to accommodate voters either waiting for paper ballots to arrive or to vote on the touch-screen systems which take much longer.

    "We are prepared to print more paper ballots should the need arise," Days responded to Michaels. "We are trying to eliminate some of the waste when the paper ballots are not used. If you determine that some of the polling places you are watching is [sic] running low on paper ballots, please let me know and I will address the situation immediately."

    Richards told The BRAD BLOG at the time that the County spent "spent $2.47 per registered voter to conduct the 2012 Presidential Election," with several touch-screens per polling place, as well as paper ballots. "By contrast," she said, "Jackson County, which only uses hand marked paper ballots (with ballot marking devices for the disabled) spent only $1.52 per registered voter for the same election."

    After the embarrassment of voters being turned away or forced to wait on long lines, Days told the Election Commission in the days that followed that officials ordered 30,000 extra blank ballots to be flown in from a Kansas company on Election Day. "The cost to taxpayers was $4,675 including $2,875 for the charter flight," St. Louis' local Fox affiliate reported on November 18th.

    At the time, according to Fox 2, Days "told the St. Louis County Election Commissioners the staff was embarrassed by the shortages and she blamed it in part on an incorrect formula used to estimate how many ballots would be needed."

    If that was the explanation for the problem, in fact, as we had reported a day earlier, Days should have known better after receiving the several emailed warnings from the long-time election advocates.

    • See our original exclusive, including more from the emails and analyses by the Election Integrity advocates, right here...

    * * *
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    Keystone XL Support at Just 41 Percent, But... http://bradblog.com/?p=11013 http://bradblog.com/?p=11013#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 22:35:56 +0000 Brad Friedman Montana Environment U.S. Senate Democrats Republicans Canada Oil Keystone XL http://bradblog.com/?p=11013 The good news, which Republicans in Congress won't care about, because it involves Americans, as opposed to (profits for foreign) corporations, is that, according to a new NBC/WSJ poll, just 41% of the American public supports building the Keystone XL pipeline.

    The not-as-good news, however: Just 20% oppose it, while a full 37% "say they don't know enough to have an opinion".

    It's somewhat astonishing, frankly, that so many still "don't know enough" about it after all this time. But that's certainly what its supporters are counting on.

    It'll be interesting to see if the news about the oil pipeline rupture in Montana's Yellowstone River on Saturday --- and today's report that it has contaminated the drinking water supply with cancer-causing Benzene --- will have any effect on those poll numbers.

    The Guardian reports: "Truckloads of bottled water were expected to be brought in on Tuesday, and residents were warned not to drink or cook with water from their taps. Up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled on Saturday from a break in a 12-inch pipeline owned by Wyoming-based Bridger Pipeline Co." This week's spill follows another pipeline rupture on the Yellowstone in 2011 that dumped 63,000 gallons of crude along an 85-mile stretch of the river.

    By way of comparison to the KXL, the pipeline that broke on Saturday, spilling "up to 50,000 gallons", was just a 12-inch pipe, while the the KXL, if completed, will be a 36-inch pipeline stretching from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, right across the water supply for much of the Midwest. What could possibly go wrong?

    And one more quick related point: Republican majorities (along with the help of a few pro-KXL Dems) blocked two Democratic amendments today to the GOP Senate bill to require completion of the pipeline. The amendments, proposed by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Al Franken (D-MN), would have required that all of the dirty oil transported through the pipeline be sold in the U.S., and that the pipeline be built with American-made steel.

    Do the world a favor and feel free to pass on this short article to a few of those folks who "say they don't know enough to have an opinion" on Keystone XL.


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