The BRAD BLOG http://bradblog.com Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:36:42 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.2 en Toon In Memoriam: 'Logic and Reason' http://bradblog.com/?p=11056 http://bradblog.com/?p=11056#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:36:42 +0000 Brad Friedman Toons In Memoriam http://bradblog.com/?p=11056

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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'Senator Snowball' http://bradblog.com/?p=11055 http://bradblog.com/?p=11055#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:35:31 +0000 Brad Friedman Environment U.S. Senate Sheldon Whitehouse James Inhofe Climate change http://bradblog.com/?p=11055 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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Why FCC's New 'Net Neutrality' Rules Are Likely To Survive Legal, Congressional Challenges http://bradblog.com/?p=11054 http://bradblog.com/?p=11054#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:05:15 +0000 Ernest A. Canning Rights And Freedoms U.S. Senate Barack Obama Net Neutrality Democrats Republicans FCC Bush Legacy Tom Wheeler Jon Thune http://bradblog.com/?p=11054 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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'Green News Report' - February 26, 2015 http://bradblog.com/?p=11053 http://bradblog.com/?p=11053#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:59:33 +0000 Desi Doyen Massachusetts Environment Green News Canada Oil Climate change Extreme weather Keystone XL Oceans http://bradblog.com/?p=11053

 

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:

  • ]]>
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    U.S. 'Electoral Integrity' Ranked 45th Among 107 Nations, 'Worst of Established Democracies' http://bradblog.com/?p=11050 http://bradblog.com/?p=11050#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:35:13 +0000 Brad Friedman Election Reform Photo ID Laws Voter Registration Vote Caging Election 2012 Election 2014 http://bradblog.com/?p=11050 [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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    'Green News Report' - February 24, 2015 http://bradblog.com/?p=11052 http://bradblog.com/?p=11052#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 00:18:42 +0000 Desi Doyen 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 http://bradblog.com/?p=11052

     

    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:

  • ]]>
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    Oft-Cited Climate 'Skeptic' Received $1.2M from Fossil Fuel Industry, Failed to Disclose Payments http://bradblog.com/?p=11049 http://bradblog.com/?p=11049#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 03:39:29 +0000 Brad Friedman Accountability Environment Republicans James Inhofe Koch Industries Coal Oil Climate change Exxon Mobil http://bradblog.com/?p=11049 Uh oh. Shall we call it "DenierGate"?

    For years, top climate science deniers, such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), have been citing a handful of folks like Dr. Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon for their willingness to dispute the central thesis of global warming, as shared by the overwhelming consensus of world climatologists.

    Now, however, according to documents published over the weekend by the New York Times, it appears that Soon has been accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars (out of some $1.2 million he's received, in fact) from the fossil fuel industry --- including at least $409,000 from coal giant Southern Company and $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Soon was also paid hundreds of thousands by ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute, the Kochs' Donors Trust and others for his reports and appearances.

    While some of those payments were previously known, it appears that Soon failed to disclose many of these extraordinary conflicts of interest when publishing his scientific papers concerning discredited global warming theories and when serving as an "expert" witness at Congressional hearings.

    "At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure," the Times reports, "and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work."

    Soon is often incorrectly identified as a "Harvard astrophysicist" when appearing on right-wing news outlets, even though he is an aerospace engineer with "little formal training in climatology," according to the paper. His part-time employers at The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are, to say the least, not at all happy about Soon's very serious apparent ethical breaches...

    From the Times report over the weekend:

    For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.

    One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun's energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

    But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon's work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

    He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

    The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as "deliverables" that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.
    ...
    Environmentalists have long questioned Dr. Soon's work, and his acceptance of funding from the fossil-fuel industry was previously known. But the full extent of the links was not; the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.

    The documents were obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by Greenpeace and Climate Investigations Center and shared with the New York Times and other outlets.

    For those not familiar with the way science works, failing to disclose such conflicts is a huge no-no, a very serious ethical breach when publishing scientific reports. Any such potential conflicts or payments must be disclosed within the report at the time papers are submitted.

    Soon's employers, according to the Times, are now very concerned about the new findings, and it sounds like the good doctors will likely soon be out of a job with them...

    Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, acknowledged on Friday that Dr. Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some journals.

    "I think that's inappropriate behavior," Dr. Alcock said. "This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally."

    Dr. Soon is employed by the Smithsonian Institution, which jointly sponsors the astrophysics center with Harvard.

    "I am aware of the situation with Willie Soon, and I'm very concerned about it," W. John Kress, interim under secretary for science at the Smithsonian in Washington, said on Friday. "We are checking into this ourselves."

    Soon's discredited theory

    "Though he has little formal training in climatology," the Times explains, "Dr. Soon has for years published papers trying to show that variations in the sun's energy can explain most recent global warming. His thesis is that human activity has played a relatively small role in causing climate change."

    Gavin A. Schmidt, Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the central division of NASA which studies climate science, described Soon's work as "almost pointless," as the sun has been found to account "for no more than 10 percent of recent global warming and that greenhouse gases produced by human activity explained most of it."

    The theory that increased solar activity --- or, solar variability --- is to blame for climate change has been repeatedly investigated by climate scientists and repeatedly debunked as an explanation for global warming which, to date, has only been found to match increases in man-made carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere.

    Take a look, for example, at this recent, must-see clip of Koch-funded climate scientist Dr. Richard Muller of the University of California's Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Project (BEST)...

    Seriously, if you haven't watched the clip above, you should. It's short, sweet and devastating.

    Muller was formerly a global warming skeptic himself, at least until his BEST was unable to find what they had previously suspected. Then, unlike Soon, he had the intellectual honesty to admit he had been completely wrong.

    In the clip above, posted last month by Climate Crock's Peter Sinclair, Muller specifically debunks the theory that Soon has been peddling (for dollars!): the claim that the sun is responsible for the recent increased warming of the Earth that has alarmed the vast majority of the global scientific community.

    After collecting the largest data sample ever used for such a study, Muller explains, "in the end, we got a nice curve, a curve that showed the temperature --- and it was rising!"

    BEST tried to match the rise in temperature with every known scientific theory to explain it. The only one that matched the curve "smack on" was CO2.

    "We also added in solar variability," he says in the video above. "We tried this in many different ways. We tried the straight sun spot record, running averages of the sun spot record, the IPCC [the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] function of solar intensity, we tried all of them. They didn't contribute" to the evidence of global warming, says Muller.

    "I was flabbergasted. Not only was global warming real, and roughly consistent with what the previous groups had said, but the match to carbon dioxide --- and the fact that solar variability was not responsible --- enabled us to rule out the primary alternative theory."

    'Scientists that cannot be challenged'

    In responding to the new revelations about Soon, Dr. Michael Mann, author of the famous "Hockey Stick" graph tying the increase in global temperatures to the sharp rise in atmospheric CO2, told Science Blog's Greg Laden that Soon was key in the early response to his work by deniers such as Sen. Inhofe.

    "Soon (as amply documented in my book "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars") was instrumental in the early attacks on the Hockey Stick by James Inhofe and other fossil fuel industry-funded politicians. Now we know for certain that his efforts were a quid pro quo with special interests looking to discredit my work as a means of calling into question the reality and threat of climate change."

    After Republican climate deniers like Inhofe were no longer able to cite guys like the convert Muller anymore, the bought-and-paid-for work of aerospace engineer Soon was often prominently highlighted in the attempt to undermine climate science on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.

    "In a Senate debate last month," the Times notes in its weekend exposé, "Mr. Inhofe pointed to a poster with photos of scientists questioning the climate-change consensus, including Dr. Soon. 'These are scientists that cannot be challenged,' the senator said."

    In the past, Soon has vigorously denied that payments from the fossil fuel industry have influenced his work in any way. Neither he, Inhofe, nor representatives of the several fossil fuel groups who reportedly paid Soon for his work, responded to the Times request for comment on the newly-published documents detailing the undisclosed payments.


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    DNC Adopts Resolution Calling for 'Right-to-Vote' Amendment to the U.S. Constitution http://bradblog.com/?p=11048 http://bradblog.com/?p=11048#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 22:43:49 +0000 Brad Friedman Election Reform U.S. Constitution Democrats http://bradblog.com/?p=11048 [UPDATED to reflect the successful adoption of the resolution.]

    While Republican state legislatures around the nation have been working to limit access to the polls over recent years, Democrats moved a non-partisan initiative forward over the weekend to help expand --- or, at least, to help protect --- the franchise for all Americans.

    At their Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, the Democratic National Committee unanimously voted to adopt a resolution calling for a "Right-to-Vote" Amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution.

    According to the resolution, posted in full below, the Democrats are calling for "amending the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote."

    The resolution also calls on "state parties to work with state lawmakers and others to access the need to petition for a statewide referendum on the November 2016 general election ballot (and all states where this is possible), advocating to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote."

    As the document stresses, there is currently no such explicit right stated in our nation's founding document, although several amendments bar the restriction of access to the polls based on race, sex and age. It also notes that while, in the past, the U.S. Supreme Court "has called the right to vote a fundamental right," the court's 2013 decision striking down a key element of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has served to "undermine" that right.

    "Of the 119 nations that elect their public officials using some form of democratic elections," the resolution notes, "108 have the right to vote in their constitution, but the United States is one of the 11 nations --- including Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, India, Indonesia, Nauru, Samoa, and the United Kingdom --- that does not explicitly contain a citizen's right to vote in its constitution."

    "A 'right to vote' constitutional amendment applies to and should be supported by all Americans because it is (a) nonpartisan - not Democratic, Republican or independent; (b) non-ideological - not liberal or conservative; (c) non-programmatic - it does not require you to support or oppose any particular legislative program(s); and (d) non-special interest - its application is not limited to minorities, women, labor, business, seniors, lesbians and gays or any other special interest groups."

    The full resolution, adopted on Saturday, February 21, 2015, at the DNC Winter Meeting, follows below...

    The following Resolution will be considered by the DNC Executive Committee at its meeting in Washington, DC, on February 20, 2015.

    Submitted by: Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair/District of Columbia
    Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Chair/Florida
    Christine Pelosi, California
    Maria Elena Durazo, DNC Vice Chair/California
    Anita Bonds, Chair, District of Columbia
    Leah Daughtry, At-Large/New York
    Bel Leong-Hong, At-Large/Maryland
    Minyon Moore, At-Large/District of Columbia
    Virgie Rollins, National Federation of Democratic Women/Michigan
    Lottie Shackelford, At-Large/Arkansas
    James Zogby, At-Large/District of Columbia


    Resolution on a Right-to-Vote Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

    WHEREAS, in a democracy, the right to vote is a moral imperative, the most fundamental legal right and is protective of all other rights; and

    WHEREAS, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act he said, "The right to vote is the basic right, without which all others are meaningless"; and

    WHEREAS, each state, except for the State of Arizona, has explicitly enshrined the right to vote with at least some level of protection in its state constitution; and

    WHEREAS, nowhere in the United States Constitution is there an explicit declaration of the right to vote, which weakens protection in federal courts and undercuts state voting rights protections due to state courts often "lock stepping" rights to the level of support provided federally; and

    WHEREAS, the United State Supreme Court has called the right to vote a fundamental right, this fundamental right should be explicitly guaranteed to all Americans in the U.S. Constitution; and

    WHEREAS, as President Barack Obama, as a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, began each of his constitutional law classes sharing with his students the surprising fact that an explicit "federal individual right to vote" is not in the U.S. Constitution; and

    WHEREAS, the only reference to an individual right to vote in the original U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is the requirement that any citizen qualified to vote for a member of a state's most "numerous house of the state legislature" is eligible to vote for Members of the House of Representatives; and

    WHEREAS, the Constitution has been amended 17 times since the passage of the Bill of Rights and 7 of those amendments pertain to voting - 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, 24th and 26th - but none of them add the explicit, fundamental, affirmative, individual, citizenship or federal right to vote to the Constitution; and

    WHEREAS, three amendments outlaw discrimination in voting, whether on the basis of race (15th) with the 1965 Voting Rights Act serving as the implementing legislation for this amendment 95 years later, sex (19th), or age (26th); and

    WHEREAS, a right to vote constitutional amendment would fulfill the promise of the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments; and

    WHEREAS, of the 119 nations that elect their public officials using some form of democratic elections, 108 have the right to vote in their constitution, but the United States is one of the 11 nations - including Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, India, Indonesia, Nauru, Samoa, and the United Kingdom - that does not explicitly contain a citizen's right to vote in its constitution; and

    WHEREAS, with the exception of certain federal laws such as the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009, the U.S. has virtually no national uniform standards for voting systems controlled by the states; and

    WHEREAS, since voting is a state right, with virtually no national uniform standards, we have ended up with multiple and varied election systems in the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), 3,143 counties (or county equivalents), and about 13,000 local voting jurisdictions that administer about 186,000 precincts, all organized and controlled and managed by local election officials with 86% of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Preclearance objections involving local, not national or state, voting issues; and

    WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has unfortunately undermined the right to vote in recent years, notably in its 2013 decision of Shelby County v. Holder which made the preclearance requirement ineffective and, as Freedom Rider, Selma marcher and US Congressman John Lewis so aptly stated, "struck a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act"; and

    WHEREAS, since 2014 at least 83 restrictive voting rights bills were introduced in 29 states, and the Brennan Center reports that 21 states have enacted restrictive voting laws since 2011, including North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin, and that in Texas alone this will affect more than 600,000 adult-age citizens who do not have state-issued photo identification; and

    WHEREAS, voter turnout in November 2014 represented a smaller percentage of eligible voters than in a congressional election since 1942 , voter turnout in many primary elections in 2014 was at an all-time low in more than half of states holding primaries, and voter turnout in some major cities is now in single digits; and

    WHEREAS, a "right to vote" constitutional amendment applies to and should be supported by all Americans because it is (a) nonpartisan - not Democratic, Republican or independent; (b) non-ideological - not liberal or conservative; (c) non-programmatic - it does not require you to support or oppose any particular legislative program(s); and (d) non-special interest - it's application is not limited to minorities, women, labor, business, seniors, lesbians and gays or any other special interest groups;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) supports amending the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the DNC will encourage state parties to work with state lawmakers and others to access the need to petition for a statewide referendum on the November 2016 general election ballot (and all states where this is possible), advocating to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC specifically supports House and Senate Joint Resolutions which would amend the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote - e.g., such as resolution H.J. Res. 25 introduced into the 114th Congress by Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC supports H.R. 885 to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act, as introduced in the 114th Congress by Congressman James F. Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin along with 30 cosponsors, including several members of the Congressional Black Caucus; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the DNC will educate the general public on this issue by drafting and distributing this resolution in support of amending the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote and sharing the resolution with all appropriate governmental officials; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee encourages other organizations and individuals - e.g., political organizations and leaders, religious organizations and leaders, civil rights organizations and leaders, other civic organizations and leaders, business organizations and leaders, voting rights organizations and leaders, labor organizations and leaders, women's organizations and leaders, youth organizations and leaders, gay and lesbian organizations and leaders, environmental organizations and leaders - to pass organization resolutions to endorse amending the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual's right to vote; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee will establish a Right to Vote Taskforce to make recommendations on changes in laws, regulations, and practices designed to improve voter participation and better uphold voting rights in local, state, and national elections and consider changes to recommend to state and federal constitutions, statutes, and regulations; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic National Committee will continue to work with members of Congress and the Obama Administration to repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and continue to work with various Secretaries of State and other election administrators to ensure all eligible citizens have access to the ballot box across the country.

    * * *
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    Not Very Funny http://bradblog.com/?p=11047 http://bradblog.com/?p=11047#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 20:44:51 +0000 David Swanson Iraq War War On Terror National Security Iran Mainstream Media Failure Accountability Hillary Clinton Barack Obama Democrats Republicans Bush Legacy Jeb Bush Election 2016 Cuba http://bradblog.com/?p=11047 [Remarks prepared for event with comedian Lee Camp, Charlottesville, Va., February 21, 2015, event postponed by snow storm. When it's rescheduled I'll say something completely unrelated. - DS]

    This is the serious part of tonight's event, except that Lee often deals with very serious topics. So what I mean is: this is the unfunny part of tonight's event, except that I'm going to talk about the United States government. One of my favorite things that Mark Twain didn't really say but definitely should have said was "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." He left out the possibility of imbeciles who are putting us on.

    On Thursday, Comcast Internet was not working at my house, just as Comcast's hired Congress members were introducing a bill to create a closed Internet with fast lanes for the corporate crap we didn't need the Internet for. And a good Internet media outlet called TheRealNews.com wanted to do a video interview with me, which I didn't want to do in Java Java because I try not to be quite that rude. So I sat out on the Downtown Mall and did the interview. It was about 12 degrees out, and I think you can see me shaking. And what did they want to talk about? War? Peace? The climate?

    They wanted to talk about Jeb Bush. Clearly he is an imbecile who is putting us on. He'd been talking on foreign policy, and of course he agreed with Obama on most everything but claimed not to. On NSA spying, for example, he disagreed basically with the fact that there has been public criticism of Obama's abuses. How he would eliminate criticism he didn't say. He didn't bring up Ukraine or Afghanistan or drone wars, because what would he disagree with? He did bring up the Korean War in order to claim it was a success and not the stupid pointless draw that everyone called it for decades, but of course the innovator in popularizing that ridiculous claim was ... President Obama...

    Mostly Jeb focused on Iran, pushing the false claim that Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and is threatening nuclear attack. Obama pushes all the same lines but then nonsensically and uniquely in this case arrives at the antiwar view that diplomacy is preferable to bombing. Jeb approves of Netanyahu stepping in on March 3rd to give Congress its war orders on the one war Obama doesn't want. I recommend going to SkipTheSpeech.org and urging Congress Members to skip it, as many have committed to doing --- even with Sheldon Adelson promising to pay for the unelection of each of them.

    More broadly, Jeb pushed the idea that the Middle East is a disaster because it hasn't been bombed enough, and that the U.S. is disliked because it hasn't attacked enough countries.

    There are two problems with this. One, it's a disgusting and ridiculous lie that has been getting people killed for many years. A Gallup poll early last year of 65 countries found the U.S. to be considered far and away the biggest threat to peace in the world. The nations in the worst shape are the ones the U.S. has bombed. U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers has actually argued that we should stop paying attention to what bombing Libya did to Libya in order to be sufficiently willing to bomb Iraq and Syria. ISIS actually produced a 60-minute movie begging the United States to go to war against it because recruitment would soar. The U.S. obliged. Recruitment soared.

    This is how disliked the United States has made itself: organizations are willing to be bombed if it will show them to be the leading opponents of the United States --- a country that, by the way, puts over a trillion dollars a year into war when tens of billions could address world hunger, clean water, and other basic needs. For a fraction of war spending, the U.S. could address climate chaos, agriculture, education, etc., and become the most loved government on earth. But would that feel as good as screaming threats at ISIS?

    ISIS, after all, kills people, cuts their throats like Saudi Arabia but on a smaller scale so it's more evil, and burns people to death, like U.S. drone strikes, but on a smaller scale so it must be stopped by using the larger scale killing to stop it.

    It's amazing how Americans manage to think about violence. Why, we ask ourselves, don't cops need guns in London? Well, because the criminals don't have guns, but over here they do. So we have to fight guns with guns, and just to be safe spread some more guns around. But why, we ask ourselves, is the Middle East so violent? Well, that's easy: it's the result of millennia-old ethnic and religious hatreds that lie dormant for millennia and then burst into the open when we mistakenly provide freedom they're not ready for in the form of incendiary bombs and depleted uranium. And of course they have guns over there, it's part of their religion. Really? Because the U.S. State Department says that 79% of the weapons shipped to the Middle East are from the United States. That doesn't count the U.S. weapons, the weapons the CIA gives the moderate neck slitters, or the weapons the Iraqi Army abandons.

    In other words, the same geniuses who are selling drones to the world now have long been arming the global hotspots where they periodically seek to create peace by escalating war. I have a new theory: they are imbeciles who are putting themselves on.

    The second problem with Jeb's prescription of more militarism is that President Obama has just proposed the biggest military budget ever and asked Congress for a free pass to launch new wars --- as he's doing anyway and says he'll do regardless --- and the American people are convinced that it's their duty to form opinions about Jeb and his brother and his father and Hillary Clinton and various other imbeciles or putter-oners or both. We're supposed to think that caring about such jack asses makes us good citizens.

    This is a disastrous distraction. It is actually our duty to engage in policy-driven activism, including activism aimed at fixing a broken election system, and to stop imagining that we're going to vote our way out of apocalypse by cheerleading the candidate for militarized corporate capitalism over the other candidate for militarized corporate capitalism.

    Oh, but it's so much more fun to mock Jeb, isn't it? If we criticize Obama we have something in common with icky racists. Seriously? Which is more childish, the racism or the moronic notion that one must obey authority without question or become a racist? You don't have to "Approve" or "Disapprove" of Obama in some simplistic overall sense. There is no requirement in life or politics to be as stupid as a pollster's questions. You can encourage Obama's diplomacy on Iran and resist his warmaking in Iraq and Afghanistan. Promote the good, resist the bad. And avoid the desire to make it personal.

    Jeb did try to find one other place to disagree with Obama, namely Cuba. As it happens, I just got back from Cuba last week and have a different perspective. The Republican line parroted by Jeb is that Obama did something for Cuba with nothing in return. Well, Obama is considering taking Cuba off the absurd terrorist list, since Cuba doesn't fund terrorism. But Cuba hasn't put the United States on a terrorist list to take it off of. There has been talk of ending the economic blockade, but Cuba has no blockade against the U.S. to lift. What is it Jeb wants of Cuba? Well, he wants it to stop supporting the popularly elected government of Venezuela and allow its overthrow. See, to get to Obama's right you have to go to overthrowing governments --- and then you'll discover that Obama pretty much agrees with you.

    The U.S. is actually proposing to allow importing from Cuba limited items produced by private enterprise. This is an effort to privatize Cuba, to radically change or overthrow its government. By "opening" to Cuba, Obama has given himself new tools. The mission is unchanged.

    A few of us met with the staff of the soon-to-be U.S. embassy down there, and asked about the $20 million the U.S. spends propagandizing Cubans each year. I asked how they'd feel if Cuba funded activists in the United States. One of them told me there was no need, because the United States has freedom of speech and Cuba doesn't. OK, I said, but the United States has troops in 175 countries and more wars than it can keep track of, and Cuba doesn't. What if Cuba funded a movement against militarism in the United States? The U.S. diplomats said they'd have no problem with that at all. But of course the U.S. government would --- in fact, working with Cuba on anything would constitute aiding "terrorists."

    I suppose it's not very funny but it should be that if Cuba ever actually attacked the United States we would hear about it 24/7, but the United States and its terrorists living openly in Florida have, for over 50 years, blown up buildings and planes in Cuba, murdered in Cuba, and introduced human and animal diseases to Cuba, and the Cubans have museums full of the gear they've seized from the hapless CIA, but the Cuban people are delighted to meet Americans and don't blame us one bit for our government just as they'd no doubt like not to be blamed for their own.

    Their government and many observers have a theory about why the U.S. government hates Cuba so much: it doesn't want us to see that even a poor country can provide universal healthcare, education, and a guaranteed income.

    I'm thrilled with the victory of Jeff Fogel and others in the ruling this week that found a ban on panhandling unconstitutional here. But what if a nation with the resources of the U.S. were to start dreaming bigger? What if we were to do away with the need for panhandling? What if everyone had a full stomach, a good education, no debt, and some free time to pay attention to things?

    I sat in a trial a few weeks ago in Alexandria of Jeffrey Sterling who had gone to Congress with the news that the CIA was giving plans for a nuclear bomb to Iran --- plans in which they'd introduced some obvious mistakes on the theory that the dumb Iranians would never notice and build their bomb wrong. Their Russian operative who took the plans to the Iranians was also not supposed to notice the flaws, but he did, immediately. The display of recklessness, stupidity, and imbecility putting itself on in this courtroom was beyond belief, and nobody was there, and the young all white jury found Sterling guilty.

    One of the pieces of evidence in the trial discussed the next country the CIA was, in 2000, working on giving flawed nuclear bomb plans to after Iran. They blanked out the name of the country but showed how many letters had been blanked out. They also left it clear that the country's name began with a vowel. Only Iraq fit. These clowns were planning to give nuclear bomb plans to Iraq just before publicly making the case for invading Iraq before it nuked us.

    But what else were they supposed to do? You can't do nothing, right? We must either love ISIS and do nothing or drop more bombs and create even more enemies. It's a tough counterproductive path to Armageddon but somebody's got to follow it. And somebody else has got to invent a bunch of lies to make it more palatable.

    When General Sherman raged through the South burning stuff, he told himself that from here on out the South would know war so well that it would never want another one. And 150 years later, I dare you to just hint at taking down the statues of Southern war losers in Charlottesville. The South is the leading supporter of U.S. wars. Without the politics of the South, the U.S. might find its way clear all the way to respecting the rights of some other country. During World War II, the main newspaper in Atlanta, where Sherman had begun his march, editorialized in favor of burning every house in Japan.

    So, when Jeb-Obama-Hillary-McCain tell you that bombing Iraq will turn Iraqis against war, you can believe them or your own lying eyes. Have the past decades made Iraq more peaceful? Might ending slavery the way most nations did --- that is to say, without a war --- have produced something less than 150 years of resentment and displaced blowback?

    If you'd like to get involved in advancing alternatives to war, please check out http://WorldBeyondWar.org. And please join in the planning for a bigger, better peace movement with the series of events planned for Washington, D.C., on March 18-21. See http://SpringRising.org

    * * *

    David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.


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    When Presidential Selfies Were Hilarious [VIDEO] http://bradblog.com/?p=11046 http://bradblog.com/?p=11046#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 22:28:24 +0000 Brad Friedman Iraq War Accountability Barack Obama Health Care Bush Legacy http://bradblog.com/?p=11046 Recently, the Republicans were "outraged" by this not funny, undignified Presidential video released by BuzzFeed to help encourage Americans to sign up for health care insurance...

    By way of reminder for you liberal, Obama-loving leftists out there, this is what an hilarious and dignified Presidential video looks like...

    In his defense, by the time of that knee-slapping video in 2004, only about 1,300 U.S. troops had been killed by the joke. Eventually, some 4,500 of our troops would be killed by it.

    If that's not hilarious and dignified, I don't know what is.


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