Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
From last week's Senate filibuster FAIL to some important new green news (U.N. mercury treaty, new BPA finding) to women in combat to the latest bizarre naked-masterbating-pooping-vaccuum-cleaner-assaulting-drug-addicted home intruder crime story out of Florida, among other things. We covered quite a few hot topics. A few of the short video clips on those stories and others from Thursday's show are now posted below. Enjoy!...
(P.S. I'll be back in to guest host this coming Thursday as well! You can watch that full stream LIVE as it happens, from 10pm-11pm ET, on YouTube here.)
A federal lawsuit filed by the Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks seeks to test the legal line drawn by California regarding the boundaries of church and state.
Under the Golden State's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), churches are permitted to discriminate in hiring practices based on their religious beliefs only within the confines of non-profit institutions --- a line that recognizes that government has no role in a religious institution's selection of a priest, minister, rabbi or imam. Thus, for example, laws banning discrimination on the basis of gender do not prevent the Catholic Church from limiting the priesthood to adult males.
But the Calvary Chapel now seeks to obliterate the line drawn by the state FEHA law. It purchased the Little Oaks School of Thousand Oaks, a for-profit, previously non-sectarian private school and subsequently fired two teachers who refused to make statements of faith and obtain references from a pastor. The teachers' objections, one of whom had been the director of Little Oaks' preschool, were on religious freedom grounds.
Facing a likely legal challenge under state law, the church filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the teachers and their attorneys as a preemptive strike in hopes of preventing the teachers from seeking redress in state court under FEHA.
Both parties in the suit are using "religious freedom" as the basis of their argument. The church seeks "religious freedom" in its discriminatory hiring practices. The teachers seek freedom from religion in their right to maintain their jobs...
From Bill Maher's "New Rules" on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday...
And finally, new rule, America needs to show it's the home of the brave...by acting like it.
Did you know that the defense budget of the United States is bigger than the defense budgets of the next thirteen countries combined, most of whom are allies and none of whom are enemies?
So, lemme ask you: If a guy on your block was so frightened of mostly non-existent prowlers that he spent all of his resources on alarm systems and guns and cameras --- so much so that he didn't even have enough money left to maintain his home or send his kids to college --- would you call him "brave"?
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By the way, here's what those courageous numbers look like...
And, for those who've heard about the "devastating" $500 billion in spending cuts to our military budget that will soon come as a result of the 2011 "sequestration" deal if a new accommodation isn't worked out, here's what those numbers will look like...
In the meantime, here's how BBV cuts to the chase --- and the core --- of the real concerns of Internet Voting, as the anti-democratic profiteering vultures descend into the state...
California Assemblyman Phil Ting has proposed AB 19, a bill to require the California Secretary of State to implement an Internet voting pilot project.
They tell us Internet voting is secure. It's not. It's not secure, and can't be made secure, but that's not even the point.
The point is it's not transparent. The whole premise in our Constitution is that we self-govern. To do that, the public must be able to see and authenticate essential processes, like who actually voted and the vote count, and that is not possible with Internet voting.
Internet voting transfers all control to whoever runs the server. (The server is just a computer that sits in a room --- and one Internet voting company, Scytl, has its server physically sitting in Spain.)
Internet voting gives the administrator complete control over the front end (who put the votes into the system) and the back end (the counting of the votes).
Internet voting is trying to come on with a vengeance, and not just in California. It is now imminent. Unless we are vigilant, many of us will be forced to vote online in 2014 and 2016. Lobbyists are at work to persuade your legislators to install Internet voting.
Political support has been secured from officials in several states. The governor of Hawaii has announced he wants Internet voting. Secretaries of State from Connecticut, West Virginia, Washington, and Oregon are already pushing online voting, and soon you'll hear about it near you. Federal bills promise cash to states that "expedite" their voting systems, with vague language as to what that means.
Because Americans are skeptical about Internet voting, politicians and reporters describe it as "smart phone voting" and "iPad voting." They also call it "convenience voting" but what they don't tell us is that, in exchange for convenience, we will lose the ability to self-govern.
To put this into blunt terms: It's not whether Internet Voting is or isn't secure. (It's not, but that's actually beside the point.) It's whether you, or anybody else, can ever know that it's secure. And the hard, cold, scientific fact is that you cannot.
After Harry Reid decided to fail to reform the filibuster today, despite his pretend outrage last year at the undemocratic U.S. Senate process being "abused, abused, abused" by the Republican minority in the Senate, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein tweeted what seems a pretty silly question: "Interesting Q on all this is whether Reid's restraint now will lead to R restraint when they're in charge and D's are filibustering".
No clue why Klein would even imagine that Republicans would show similar restraint when it comes to anything these days. For evidence of that, one needs look no further than what the VA state State Senate did just across the river on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, as President Obama was being sworn in for his second term.
Normally balanced with 20 Democratic and 20 Republican state Senators, Republicans took advantage of one of those state Senators, Democratic civil rights icon Henry Marsh, taking the day off to be at the second Inauguration of the nation's first black President, to carry out a complete state redistricting coup.
Stephen Colbert covered the coup in his Alpha Dog of the Week segment last night, quoting Martin Luther King thusly: "I have been to the mountain top, and while I was there, they heavily redistricted the promise land."
The coup described above is separate, though related to, a parallel effort also moving forward in the VA legislature, to rig the next Presidential Election by dividing up electoral votes based on the winner of each Congressional district, rather than the current "winner take all" system. Had the Republican plan for this, currently moving through the state Senate, been in place during the 2012 election, Romney would have won 9 of the commonwealth's electoral votes to Obama's 4, despite the President having won the popular vote there by some 150,000 votes (4 percentage points).
For a less amusing, if similarly maddening, explanation of the Virginia Republicans' shameless redistricting coup on Monday (we hope to have more on their subsequent electoral vote gimmick in the near future) and where it is likely to go from here, see Rachel Maddow's explanation from Tuesday posted below...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Will John Kerry, or won't John Kerry?; Sierra Club vows to break the law for climate change and to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline; Dangerous air pollution in Salt Lake City; PLUS: The Mafia wants a piece of the clean energy action ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Somebody is paying cash to anti-wind protesters (Trump?); World's biggest renewable energy storage farm opens in TX; Charting a New Course for the U.S. and the Environment; Google's Driverless Car Is Worth Trillions; Airlines 'made billions in windfall profits' from EU carbon tax; Colorado: January red flag fire warning; Rising Sea Level: How High Could the Tide Go?; Medical Experts Warn The Rise Of Resistant Bacteria Will Cause ‘Antibiotic Apocalypse’; CNN's Brain Freeze On Climate Change --- again... PLUS: What holds energy tech back? The infernal battery ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The one thing the Senate Majority Leader never seems to fail at: Failing.
Harry Reid last May, on the Senator floor, apologizing to Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM) for blocking their 2010 attempt to weaken the filibuster: "These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t," Reid said then. "And they were right. The rest of us were wrong --- or most of us, anyway. What a shame… If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rule, because it’s been abused, abused and abused."
Harry Reid today, after striking a deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to ensure anything close to (small "d") democracy stays decidedly out of the U.S. Senate: "I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold."
See Ezra Klein for more of Reid's reasons for striking a deal to make minor procedural changes to Senate rules which do absolutely nothing to change the use --- and abuse, abuse, abuse --- of the filibuster. See Sam Stein and Ryan Grim for more of an explanation of what the marginal procedural changes to be made actually are.
In short, as many Filibuster reformers are noting today: Harry Reid's filibuster reform doesn't actually reform the filibuster in any way.
But let's spread some blame around. According to Merkley --- who had been leading a coalition of Democratic Senators and activists calling for the requirement of a "talking filibuster" (already fairly weak tea when it comes to filibuster reform) --- during a conference call last week, he called on reformers to pressure these Democratic Senators who were still "wrestling with his proposal", as Politico characterized it: Max Baucus (MT), Patrick Leahy (VT), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Barbara Boxer (CA), Joe Manchin (WV) and Mark Pryor (AR).
Presuming the Reid/McConnell deal is adopted today, as it likely will be, another chance to reform --- or kill --- the filibuster all together will not occur until the first legislative day of the next U.S. Congress, in 2015. All of which goes some way towards supporting the suggestion offered by progressive activist David Swanson during my interview with him last November, that Dems, at least a minority with enough power to undermine their caucus, have little interest in reforming the filibuster, as it gives them an excuse to make sure things they want to act like they believe in, but actually don't, will never see the light of day in the U.S. Senate.
On today's BradCast on Pacifica Radio's KPFK here in Los Angeles, we focused on the climate remarks in President Obama's Second Inaugural address which, frankly, seem to have stunned even the most seasoned environmental reporters.
We discussed, among other issues, Romm's encouraging speculation on whether or not Obama and the State Dept. (with John Kerry as its likely new head) will approve the Keystone XL pipeline or not, and what the horrifying consequences are likely to be if they do.
That, and much more (including a bit of other news, some great listener phone calls and the Green News Report's Desi Doyen), all follow.
P.S. Remember, I don't post all of the BradCasts here. But you can subscribe to the RSS feed here, or listen to the archive anytime on your mobile device with either the Stitcher Radio app or the TuneIn app, both of which carry the show.
P.S.S. Also still interested in creating a logo for The BradCast. So if you got logo-makin' chops and wanna give it a crack, drop me a line!
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama talks big on climate at his 2nd Inaugural, but will the Administration follow up with action? A final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and other climate & energy conundrums loom in the 2nd term of President Barack Hussein Obama ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): '2012 Was Once Considered Hottest Year On Record, Man In 2024 Remembers Wistfully'; Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to EPA pollution rule; Crop innovation saves water, boosts yields; Solar panel prices continue to fall; Antibacterial ingredient tainting US lakes; Widespread contaminants in Chesapeake Bay; Study: melamine from containers can leech in food; David Attenborough Calls Humans a "Plague Upon the Earth"... PLUS: Koch-funded study finds global warming is "manmade", "solar forcing does not appear to contribute" ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Palm Beach Post'sGeorge Bennet wrote last week about how so-called "Tea Party" groups seem to be running away from the "Tea Party" name in places like Florida.
The South Florida Tea Party, for example --- the one that helped launch the national career of Sen. Marco Rubio and hosted Donald Trump while he was initially pretending to think about running for President --- is changing their name to the National Liberty Federation.
"As Tea Party groups go," observes Steven Benen at MaddowBlog, "the South Florida Tea Party was one of the bigger and better organized outfits."
But it's little wonder these folks are running from the name. Their popularity, and their name brand, is now plummeting along with the fortunes of the Congressional Republican Party. As Bennet notes, even Rightwing pollsters like Rasmussen are finding that support for the "Tea Party" movement is absolutely cratering...
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that Republicans should not have tried to reduce voter turnout during their failed effort to win the White House, doubling down on his recent criticism of the GOP.
“Should we really have gone after reducing the turnout of voters in those places where we thought it would make a difference? The Republican Party should be a party that says, ‘We want everybody to vote,’ and make it easier to vote and give them a reason to vote for the party, [whereas] not to find ways to keep them from voting at all,” Powell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Powell went on to note that "What’s happened in the last few years, is the party has shifted dramatically to the right — that’s perfectly acceptable, but if you stay that far to the right, you’re losing where the country is."
Please note, though Powell endorsed Obama twice, he was George W. Bush's Secretary of State and still considers himself a Republican. He says he voted for seven straight Republicans for President before voting for Obama.
Everyone will, no doubt, have their favorite and/or least favorite moments from President Barack Obama's second Inaugural address this afternoon. [Full video here, full text transcript here.]
We couldn't help but notice this passage, concerning climate change, which received not only as much or more attention than any other single issue referenced in the entire speech, but as much or more attention than the issue received during the entirety of the seemingly endless 2012 Presidential campaign...
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.
Receiving less time during the address today, but also noteworthy for this news site...
Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.
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Finally, for now, one personal moment worth highlighting --- perhaps the most personal of the day --- was this unscripted few seconds, after the President had finished his speech, and just before he disappeared out of view at the exit of his Inaugural podium for the final time. He stopped and turned around to view the enormous crowd on the National Mall.
The audio is difficult to hear, but he appears to say "I want to take one more look. I'm not going to see this again"...
The headline at Think Progress, "5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day" was too perfect not to re-use in this case.
CNN describes yesterday's "Gun Appreciation Day" festivities this way today...
At least five people --- three in North Carolina, one in Indiana and one in Ohio --- were injured after weapons went off at gun shows Saturday, officials said, at a time when there's been renewed discussion about private gun sales at such shows.
The most casualties came at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, North Carolina, where attendees bolted --- with at least one woman wiping out in the frenetic scene --- when gunfire rang out around 1 p.m., as seen on video captured by CNN affiliate WRAL.
Here's video from the NC gun show revealing the freedom fighters there scrambling after a 12-guage shotgun "accidentally discharged", injuring three people...
In Ohio, one man is hospitalized in stable condition today "after being shot by his business partner at a gun show" in the northern part of the state yesterday. It seems the owner of the Taurus semi-automatic 9mm handgun "brought the firearm into the show fully loaded," despite a policy barring loaded weapons.
Why, since NRA stooges tell us that "guns make us safer", are they not allowed to carry loaded weapons at gun shows, of all places? Seems, I dunno, hypocritical.
"In Indianapolis," the CNN report continues describing the third incident yesterday, "a man walking out of the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show shot himself in the hand as he was loading his .45-caliber semi-automatic firearm, Indiana State Police said in a statement."
In a less amusing incident Saturday, also on "Gun Appreciation Day", tragedy struck in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, when a 14-year old boy playing with his 15-year old brother and a friend spending the night, got access to his mother's unloaded gun, loaded the weapon, pointed it at the older brother and "accidentally" killed him.
As journalist Brooke Jarvis tweeted yesterday, appropriately enough, a 1998 study on guns in homes found that "For every use in self defense, there were 4 accidental shootings, 7 assaults/homicides, & 11 suicide attempts."
But, ya know, guns don't kill people. Gunshot wounds from guns in people's houses kill people.
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UPDATE 1/21/12: "Gun Appreciation Day" had an even darker ending in New Mexico, with yet another 15-year old involved, as Albuquerque Journal reports...
It was a “horrific” crime scene that confronted deputies Saturday night: Former Calvary church Pastor Greg Griego; his wife, Sarah; and their three youngest children dead — fatally shot multiple times with a “military-style” assault rifle and other weapons — at their South Valley home.
The suspect in custody is the couple’s 15-year-old son, Nehemiah Griego, who neighbors said often wore “nothing but camouflage” and wanted to be in the army.
“I’ve never seen a scene quite like this,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said at a news conference Sunday morning.
The teen is accused of using several weapons, including a “military style” assault rifle, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, to kill his parents and three youngest siblings.
Nehemiah told neighbors he wanted to be a soldier. He always wore army clothing and camouflage, but he wasn’t allowed to play violent video games, according to one neighbor, since the boy’s parents didn’t allow anything “dirty or violent” and limited TV watching.
On Sunday mornings, when I was a kid, we'd wake up and have bagels and lox that my grandfather would bring over to our house early in the morning. This family does other stuff on Sunday mornings...
You'll note that Chief Justice Roberts was working from a piece of paper this time, so as to avoid the mistake he made administering the oath incorrectly, from memory, during the official swearing in in 2009. That gaffe led to a "mulligan" swearing in the following day, privately, in the White House.
For the record, today's swearing in is the official start of President Barack Obama's second term under the U.S. Constitution, which specifies, in the 20th Amendment, that "The terms of the President and Vice President shall...then begin" at noon on the 20th day of January. (Prior to the 20th Amendment, Presidents had been sworn in on March 4th.) But, since, this year, January 20th falls on a Sunday, the public swearing in will take place on Monday, January 21st instead, in a massive ceremony outside the U.S. Capitol, as per tradition.
According to an announcement from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), chair of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as cited by USA Today "this is the seventh time in U.S. history that the constitutionally mandated inauguration date has fallen on a Sunday."
"The last time was for President Ronald Reagan's second inauguration in 1985," said Schumer's office. "When this occurs, the public ceremonies traditionally are held on Monday."
Past inaugurations to fall on Sundays, with public ceremonies moved to the following Monday, include James Monroe's 2nd (1821), Zachary Tayor's (1849), Rutherford B. Hayes' (1877), Woodrow Wilson's 2nd (1917), Dwight D. Eisenhower's 2nd (1957) and Ronald Reagan's 2nd (1985).
Schumer's office notes that January 21 "is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It will be the second time that this federal holiday has coincided with a presidential inauguration. The first was President Bill Clinton's second inauguration on Monday, Jan. 20, 1997."
The timing of this year's ceremonial swearing in makes makes this Photoshopped graphic, widely circulated during Obama's first inaugural, perhaps even more appropriate, even if somewhat less moving four years later...
USA Today also notes that "The law designating the third Monday in January as a federal holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was signed into law by President Reagan in 1983. President Reagan's 1985 inauguration fell on the third Monday of January, but the new federal holiday did not become official until 1986."
This still photo depicts actor Mark Wahlberg using the powerful .50 BMG Barrett M82A1M to shoot down an approaching helicopter at the outset of the 2007 motion picture, Shooter. Later, in the same film, what appears to be a Barrett M82A1 mounted atop a computer-operated weapon platform, is remotely accessed to carry out the long-distance assassination of an Archbishop who is standing next to the President.
On a segment of Thursday night's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, the host addressed the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is funded and controlled by those who are making obscene profits off the very weaponry used to carry out mass murders of civilians in the U.S. O'Donnell pointed out that, since 2005, when former Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID), now an NRA Board member, pushed a bill through Congress which immunized weapons manufacturers from civil liability for the carnage wrought by the weapons they unload on the public, the NRA has received over $38 million in contributions from weapons manufacturers.
O'Donnell's list of NRA Board members included George Kollitides of the Freedom Group, owner of multiple weapons manufacturers, including Remington and Bushmaster. Kollitides' company manufactured the AR-15 that was used to murder 20 children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last month. Another one of his companies, Advanced Armaments, manufactures silencers, that, according to its web site, are legal in 39 states. Who inside this country, aside from mob hit men, need silencers?
The truly disturbing revelation, however, was that the military grade weapon, the Barrett M82 (see narrated video below), akin to the one seen in the still photo above, is being sold to the general public by Ronnie Barrett, yet another wealthy member of the NRA's Board of Directors.
The Barrett M82 semi-automatic sniper rifle chambers a powerful 12.7×99 mm NATO (.50BMG) armor piercing round. Known as the "Barrett Light Fifty," it was used by the IRA to conduct a sniper campaign against British armed forces in Northern Ireland. It has been sold to the armed forces of some 40 nations. During the First Gulf War, the U.S. military used the Barrett M82 to disable Iraqi armored personnel carriers.
It is difficult to imagine what possible legitimate function the M82 would have in any civilian setting --- that is unless one considers assassinations and shooting down helicopters to be a constitutionally protected sporting event. Yet, lighter variations of the M82, like the more advanced M107, are readily available to civilians in every state except California. When California banned civilian purchases of these insanely deadly weapons, Barrett retaliated by suspending sales to all of the Golden State's law enforcement agencies. Frankly, the following narrated video suggests that this powerful weapon should not be in the hands of law enforcement agencies either, let alone civilians.
One can't help but think of the words Martin Luther King presented during his moving "Beyond Vietnam" speech: "Somehow this madness must cease"...