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...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: They'd like to get their lives back: 3rd anniversary of BP's Oil Disaster in the Gulf; EPA victory over mountaintop removal coal mining; EPA slams State Dept's Keystone XL report; PLUS: Free at last: environmental activist Tim de Christopher freed - on Earth Day ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): America now has more solar energy workers than coal miners; Earth's cooling came to sudden halt in 1900; '800 Love Canals' remain; Jewell: 'One size doesn't fit all' on fracking; Denier myth: ‘Climate Change’ vs. ‘Global Warming’; Denying sea-level rise divides NC; Sichuan earthquake's threat to China's dams; WA: How Boeing killed water quality standards; TX fertilizer blast raises national security questions; EPA powerless over toxic flame retardant chemicals ... PLUS: Reality Gap: Americans clueless about global scientific consensus on human-caused climate change ... and much, MUCH more! ...
It was quite a moving show last night in the Nevada State Senate, as a Joint Resolution was passed that would repeal the Constitutional ban on marriage equality in that state, as passed by voters over a decade ago.
All of the state Senate's Democrats supported the resolution, and one Republican jumped onto the right side of history in a surprise last-minute move. One Democratic Senator even came out as gay during the floor proceedings.
The measure passed the Nevada Senate 12 to 9 and will now head to the Assembly. If successful there, it will face one more vote in both chambers in 2015 before appearing on the 2016 ballot for approval by voters who, according to recent polls there, are now believed to be in favor of lifting the ban. So, as MLK famously said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Dramatic speeches on the floor during debate on the resolution led even jaded long-time Nevada report Jon Ralston, who covered the debate live via his Twitter feed, to observe: "Too often we who cover politics think of these people as automatons pressing a red or green button. Not tonight. Raw, emotional, human."
"Great to be not just a witness to history (or the beginning, at least), but to see politicians stripped down to who they are was something," he noted, before adding: "I feel sorry for reporters who weren't here to feel the electricity in this chamber."
But with Democrats across the country now seemingly falling over themselves to suddenly support marriage equality --- redefining the word "evolution" (or, perhaps, more accurately, attempting to redefine the word "flip-flop") --- even Republicans, at least Republicans in the Northeast, are also now showing signs of scrambling to get onto the right side of history as well.
This early evidence of that arrived in my inbox this morning, from the FreedomToMarry.org group...
Among the many items which would have otherwise been top stories --- some even meriting wall-to-wall cable news channel coverage --- during last week's Worst News Week Ever™, was the release of a landmark bi-partisan report on the use of torture by the U.S. following 9/11.
The Constitution Project's "Task Force on Detainee Treatment" is described as "an independent, bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel charged with examining the federal government’s policies and actions related to the capture, detention and treatment of suspected terrorists during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations."
It is headed up by former Congressmen Asa Hutchinson (R) and James R. Jones (D). Hutchinson also served as a top official in the George W. Bush Administration.
"In many respects," the introduction to the report explains, "this Task Force report is the examination of the treatment of suspected terrorists that official Washington has been reluctant to conduct."
A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture" and that the nation's highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.
The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been "the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody."
The use of torture, the report concludes, has "no justification" and "damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive." The task force found "no firm or persuasive evidence" that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means.
Mr. Hutchinson, who served in the Bush administration as chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration and under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said he "took convincing" on the torture issue. But after the panel's nearly two years of research, he said he had no doubts about what the United States did.
"This has not been an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players," Mr. Hutchinson said in an interview.
"I had not recognized the depths of torture in some cases," Mr. Jones said. "We lost our compass."
While the Constitution Project report covers mainly the Bush years, it is critical of some Obama administration policies, especially what it calls excessive secrecy. It says that keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public "cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security" and urges the administration to stop citing state secrets to block lawsuits by former detainees.
We will reserve the option of returning to this matter in the near future in more detail. But, as we're still recovering, as you may be as well, from a horrible news hangover following last week's Week From Hell (during which Andy Daly tweeted accurately: "When an Elvis impersonator trying to kill the President is the least interesting news story of the week, you know some shit went down") we are going to go easy on this matter for the moment, and defer instead to the The Daily Show's coverage of this disturbing report...just to help take the edge off things for now. You're welcome.
A solar-powered plane, known as the Solar Impulse, is cable of flying both day and night without fuel, courtesy of 12,000 photovotaic cells and batteries. The plane, "born in Switzerland", is set to commence a cross-country journey from San Francisco to New York on May 1, following a test flight in the Bay area on Friday. It is scheduled to make a number of stops along the way, flying some 20 to 26 hours each leg.
But its still pretty cool. The major goal of the project is for a round-the-world flight, now scheduled for 2015. Here's a look at an earlier 2010 test flight of Solar Impulse, back when its goal for a global flight was still scheduled for 2012...
Today is the three year anniversary of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and manslaughter disaster. 11 men were killed and more than 200 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf in what would turn out to be the largest accidental oil spill in world history.
A remark on last week's Real Time with Bill Maher drew my attention back to the woeful "advocacy journalism" (I'm being kind there) of those on the Right who continue, even to this day, to perform public relations work for the fossil fuel industry under the guise of "journalism".
Maher cited an embarrassing quote from an article by Steven F. Hayward, published by the unapologetically-wrong-on-just-about-everything Weekly Standard (the "brain"-child of its also-unapologetically-wrong-on-just-about-everything editors William Kristol and Fred Barnes) which, for non-RW loon reporters, might have been a career-ender. Or, at least, for non-RW loon reporters, it might have led to the humblest of apologies and acknowledgment for having been so tragically wrong. No such apologies or contrition occur in RW Media "Expert" Land, unfortunately, where there is no inaccuracy too wrong and no prognostication so off base that it might cause shame or humility or, gasp, an invitation from its publishers to never write there again.
Just days before the explosion of BP's rig and the death of those workers (BP recently pleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, after which nobody from BP went to jail, naturally), Hayward wrote: "Few areas of national policy offer as bad a ratio of blather to substance as energy. It is a field where cliché, wishful thinking, and wince-inducing ignorance dominate the discourse."
"No matter how patiently or repeatedly the myths and realities of energy are explained," Hayward condescended, "we are nowhere near being able to replace God's gift of dirty, toxic fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. "Liberals," he noted, "are the worst offenders," when it comes to this naive, misinformed wishful thinking.
Hayward, the sage and much-smarter-than-you Fellow from the American Enterprise Institute, went on to write in his article, published on April 16, 2010 [emphasis added]...
The two main reasons oil and other fossil fuels became environmentally incorrect in the 1970s—air pollution and risk of oil spills—are largely obsolete. Improvements in drilling technology have greatly reduced the risk of the kind of offshore spill that occurred off Santa Barbara in 1969. ... To fear oil spills from offshore rigs today is analogous to fearing air travel now because of prop plane crashes in the 1950s.
Just four days later, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf.
Nearly a quarter century has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court, in Symm vs. United States, ruled that college students had a right to treat their dorms as their residence for voting purposes. It's a fact which Republicans seem to find very inconvenient --- especially given the fact that, in 2008, the youth vote, heaviest in precincts where college campuses are located, favored Barack Obama over John McCain by a two-to-one ratio. The numbers were similar against Mitt Romney in 2012.
Thus, in 2011, despite the fact that his investigation failed to establish a single instance of voter fraud by any student, Maine's Republican Secretary of State Charlie E. Summers sent an intimidating letter to lawfully registered student voters seeking to convince them to "cancel" their voter registration where they go to school.
Not to be outdone, this month three North Carolina Republican State Senators have introduced the appropriately numbered S666, which would strip the right of the parents of students from claiming a personal state tax exemption, which ranges from $2,000 - $2,500, if the student lawfully uses their dorm as their residence for voting purposes.
A related bill, S667, deceptively titled the "Equalize Voter Rights" act, would also strip tax exemptions for parents whose student children fail to register their car at the same place they register to vote. According to WRAL, "That also could cut down on college student registration, since many students maintain their vehicle registration in their home counties."
As the state's Democratic House Minority leader notes, both bills "would raise taxes on middle-class families who are trying to put their children through college." But, apparently Republicans are now in favor of tax increases, at least in NC, as long at it might help curb the increase in the youth vote seen over the last several elections.
But what may be most troubling of all, is that it seems the esteemed GOP state Senators in NC must be entirely unaware of the provisions of the 24th Amendment which, long ago, outlawed all poll taxes.
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5:50pm PT: Boston Police tweet: "CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody." Watertown residents stream into streets to cheer police as cars roll back out of town...
5:47pm PT: Local media: Second "suspect alive, in custody, and they're asking for a medic. It's over." Applause heard breaking out around scene. || Boston Police tweet: "Suspect in custody. Officers sweeping the area."
4:31pm PT: "Barrage of gunfire" heard in Watertown. "Body found on a boat," reports NBC's Pete Williams. Area locked down, officials respond, reports of suspect surrounded...unclear whether person is still alive...
12:51pm PT: Noteworthy developments since I last checked in here. The suspects are brothers from Chechnya and have been in the U.S. for two years or more. The one who was killed is 26-year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The one still on the lam is 19-year old Dzhokhar. Here's another good timeline of the overnight events through 8:40am ET today as the city remains shut down during the on-going manhunt...
3:15am PT: All MBTA transit trains and buses have been shut down, as the man hunt continues. Since I suspect this is all going to be over, one way or another, by the time I wake up, and since it's the second near-all-nighter I've had here in a row, I'm going to try and hasten things by going to sleep. Though I'll likely still be following along and retweeting on The Twitters.
1:55am PT: It's been a wild night, where we've been trying to keep up with and/or make sense of developments via Twitter.
So far, one MIT officer has been shot dead. Another local law enforcement official is in critical condition after a gunfight with the alleged Boston Marathon bombing suspects. One of those suspects, the one seen in the black hat in photos released by the FBI earlier today, is now dead, according to officials.
The other suspect, in the white hat, is being pursued in the Watertown area at this time, where residents have been asked to stay inside, lock their doors, and do not open it unless it is for the police who are going yard-by-yard searching for the second suspect. He is believed to be armed and very dangerous.
Here, via CBS Boston, is what happened up until now, over the past 5 hours or so, according to a description offered by the Middlesex District Attorney...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: As we slam into Earth Day weekend... Deadly fertilizer explosion slams Central Texas town; Flooding, sinkholes, extreme weather slam Chicago; PLUS: Nebraskans unite to slam the Keystone 'Export' pipeline ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Report: alarming levels of of resistant bacteria on grocery meat & poultry; Chevron defies CA on emissions, undercuts biofuels; Chevron ignored regulators warnings in refinery explosion; Scientists question NOAA report on climate, drought; New study shows once again how "Climategate" emails were distorted; Utility industry can survive - and lead - clean energy transition; Obama inks Arctic international fishing accord, GOP complains; Innovating 'dumb' LEDs; Why can't we quit fossil fuels? ... PLUS: Think those chemicals have been tested? Think again ... and much, MUCH more! ...
UPDATE 4/18/2013, 5:41pm PT:AP reports West, TX mayor says "around 35 people, including 10 first responders" were killed in the explosion. "He said not all the bodies have been recovered. Muska told the LA Times the number might be as high as 40 dead and said he got that number because all other residents and first-responders were identified."
UPDATE 4/18/13 3:23am PT:Waco's KWTX has revised their earlier report of "as many as 60 or 70" dead, which was sourced to the town's EMS Director Dr. George Smith. They now report a death toll of "five to fifteen people", as of 4:45am local time, sourced to "officials". AP confirms the report of "between five and 15 people" killed, a number which is expected to rise, according to Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton. They add that "more than 160 others" are injured. Among the dead are believed to be "A group of volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. about an hour before the blast. They remained unaccounted for early Thursday morning."
The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show.
West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.
But the report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated “no” under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.
The second worst possibility projected was a leak from a broken hose used to transfer the product, again causing no injuries.
Loftis adds via Twitter: "OSHA online records show no federal inspections of #West Fertilizer Co. in the past 5 yrs."
UPDATE 10:10pm PT: Texas Dept. of Public Safety spokesperson holds short press conference: "Tremendous amount of injuries...There are confirmed fatalities. Number not confirmed yet ... Devastation like Iraq or Oklahoma City ... 50-75 houses and apartments destroyed... Nursing home w/ 130 residents was in path of fire ... Wish I could tell you more." A reporter asks for a death toll number, asks the spokesman to "confirm 60-70" number. He says he "cannot confirm that number."
UPDATE 8:59pm PT:Really hoping local media has it wrong... Waco's KWTX is now reporting: "West EMS Director Dr. George Smith says as many as 60 or 70 people died and hundreds were injured Wednesday night in a fertilizer plant explosion in West."
Like we needed more news today...fake or otherwise. Unfortunately (see photos and seismograph chart below), this one is not fake. From Reuters tonight...
WACO (April 17, 2013)—Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded Wednesday night after a major explosion at a burning fertilizer plant in West north of Waco.
West firefighters were dispatched to the plant earlier in the evening after an earlier fire rekindled.
Numerous injuries were reported and multiple ambulances were requested.
Several buildings were reported destroyed and a nearby nursing home was damaged.
There were reports that people were trapped in the nursing home and in an apartment building.
Scanner traffic indicated that some residents of both the nursing home and apartment building were severely injured.
Children are among the victims, according to reports from the scene.
Fire crews from virtually every community in the area headed to the scene.
A woman who was passing through West on Interstate 35 at the time of the explosion said she and her boyfriend saw a fireball 100-feet wide shoot into the air.
Gulf war veteran Paul L. Manigrasso felt the blast in Waxahachie.
“Based on my Naval experience...we knew immediately what it was, but cannot believe it occurred 40 miles away,” he said.
The photos tweeted below are pretty amazing. [ALSO UPDATES NOW ADDED]...
I'm getting ready for today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica, so, in the meantime, if you're wondering what you may have missed today, among other things, it seems the Boston Marathon Bomber has taken down another victim: CNN.
If South Carolina used anything but the exact same 100% unverifiable voting machines that previously resulted in the inexplicable election of Alvin Greene as their 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, I'd say Stephen Colbert's sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch has just won her upcoming May 7th Special Election for the U.S. House over former Gov. Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford must appear in court two days after running for a vacant congressional seat to answer a complaint that he trespassed at his ex-wife's home, according to court documents acquired by The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The complaint says Jenny Sanford confronted Sanford leaving her Sullivans Island home on Feb. 3 by a rear door, using his cell phone for a flashlight. Her attorney filed the complaint the next day and Jenny Sanford confirmed Tuesday the documents are authentic.
The couple's 2010 divorce settlement says neither may enter the other's home without permission. Mark Sanford lives about a 20-minute drive away in downtown Charleston.
But again, before you Democrats get too excited at this point, please read this. Thank you.
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UPDATE 4/17/2013: Sanford responds and National Republicans toss him under bus...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Some good news for a change: U.S. inks climate agreements with China and Japan; Another oil company quits the Arctic (for now); California sets wind energy record; Lax state regs contributed to Chevron refinery fire; Go underdogs: scrappy InsideClimateNews.org wins a Pulitzer; PLUS: Florida invaded by giant slimy snails ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): It’s official: EPA delays climate rule for new power plants; East coast seismic tests could harm marine mammals; CO: Benzene found 1400 ft from leak site; Critics slam NOAA drought report; Protesters mark 3 yr anniversary of BP Oil Disaster at trial; Reuters bungles climate science report; Antarctic ice melting at record rate: study; China cozies up to Iceland for Arctic access ... PLUS: Unhappy Returns: Climate Change's Big Tax on American ... and much, MUCH more! ...
BOSTON (AP) — Two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon have resulted in injuries.
Bloody spectators were being carried Monday to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners. Police wove through competitors as they ran back toward the course.
“There are a lot of people down,” said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg. A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.
About three hours after the winners crossed the line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion could be heard a few seconds later.
The blasts reportedly occurred near the Marathon headquarters in a nearby hotel. The headquarters has been locked down. Additionally, NBC News is reporting:
Janet Wu, a reporter for NBC affiliate WHDH, told NBC News that she heard two loud explosions. Jackie Bruno, a reporter for New England Cable News, said on Twitter that she saw people’s legs blown off.
“Runners were coming in and saw unspeakable horror,” she said.
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MANY UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY, AND A WRAP UP ON THE DAY AFTER, ALL NOW FOLLOW BELOW...
So...funny thing. After yesterday's BradCast on KPFK, I drove the delightful Desi Doyen (of our Green News Report) out to The Young Turks' studio where she was scheduled to guest host once again last night. Two minutes or so before airtime, the third guest-host had yet to arrive. Guess who was drafted into last-minute duty?
Unshaven, jacket-free and prep-less, the show went on. With Desi, myself, and the great Jimmy Dore on board, it was an all-KPFK/Pacifica Radio episode of TYT, to boot!
We discussed, among other things, the mass stabbing in TX yesterday (where nobody died!); Rand Paul's claim that Republicans and he are civil rights champions; Obama's attempt to slash Social Security; and the plan for a vote in the U.S. Senate on a gun sale background check bill.
Below are a few short edited video segments with the three of us on last night's lively hour of The Young Turks [Update 4/16/2013 - The Turks have posted a few more clips --- including our discussion about Pat Robertson and climate change denier extraordinaire Rep. Joe Barton --- so I've also now added those below as well]...