Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. pipelines now rupturing faster than we can keep track of them; So, U.S. Senate passes Keystone XL bill with Dem help; Obama's India trip a boost for US nuclear industry; IMF calls for end to fossil fuel subsidies; PLUS: Some good news: fracking banned in Scotland, and great 'Fox News' for a change!... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): It's not too late to stop climate change, and it'll be super-cheap; Americans are out of step with science on pretty much everything; Climate models don't over-predict warming; Big Utilties' 'Kodak Moment': a phase-change builds; Air pollution plunges in AL; Feds open waters to largest offshore wind farm; EPA sued over industrial livestock pollution... PLUS: Oceans on the verge of a 'mass bleaching event'... and much, MUCH more! ...
If you were looking for a fresh reminder as to why Vote-by-Mail is a terrible idea, why provisional ballots are not the same as actually casting a vote, and why there needs to be more accountability for and oversight of election officials, today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio should fit the bill.
In short, we cover the election contest now pending in the race for City Council (Seat 1) in the San Diego County city of Chula Vista, CA. The certified results from the November 2014 election show a 2-vote margin between the John McCann (R) and Steve Padilla (D) in a race with some 37,000 ballots cast. McCann has been certified as the "winner".
Trouble is, according to the lawsuit [PDF], at least 15 mail-in and provisional ballots were rejected, even though the signatures on them matched the signatures from the voters' registrations on file. That, argues attorney John S. Moot (my guest this week, and a former Chula Vista City Council Member himself), is in violation of the law.
The other trouble is, those ballots were rejected by San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu, who was the infamous Election Director of Cuyahoga County, Ohio's most populist (and most Democratic) county during the 2004 Presidential election, when two of his immediate subordinates were indicted and found guilty of rigging the Presidential "recount" in Cuyahoga. Yes, if you didn't know or don't remember, there was a partial "recount" of that election, across the entire Buckeye State, as requested by the Green and Libertarian Parties. And, yes, it was found to have been rigged in a court of law.
Vu, who was protected at the time by the Republicans who ran the Cuyahoga Election Board, was never charged and was happily hired not long thereafter by San Diego County, where elections have been little more than a joke for many years, even before Vu got there.
For the full story on this, listen to this week's show and Moot's commentary on the suit he's filed on behalf of his client, a long-time poll worker and voter from Chula Vista.
Prepping for today's BradCast (in which we'll be covering a fascinating election contest concerning a two vote margin, several questionably tossed provisional and mail-in ballots, and an election official with a notorious past), so I've only got time to pop this item very quickly for now.
It's an upcoming SuperBowl ad for BMW. But it's very cute. And since Tesla has shamefully failed to donate an electric car to The BRAD BLOG's Green News Report despite years of persistent prodding (okay, begging), maybe its time we start kissing up to a totally different electronic car company by posting their commercial for free...
[Hat-tip to far-too occasional BRAD BLOG contributor D.R. Tucker]
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hits, misses and hype in a not-so-historic Blizzard 2015!; The influence of global warming on the storm, with a 100% chance of denial; U.S. Interior Dept. to expand offshore drilling, as another pipeline explodes in West Virginia; PLUS: Obama calls on Republicans to permanently protect the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): We can solve climate change, but it won’t be cheap or easy; Study: Global warming 'doubles risk' of extreme weather; 10 predictions for clean energy in 2015; Greenland lakes speeding ice sheet melt; Obama and Modi agree to advance nuclear energy in India; Anadarko's record $5 billion settlement; PA fracking companies routinely violate environmental laws... PLUS: Fossil-fueled Koch-backed network aims to spend nearly $1 billion on 2016 elections... and much, MUCH more! ...
While it's amusing enough that former CBS News reporter Sharyl "BENGHAZI!!!" Attkisson has been scheduled by Republicans to appear at this week's Senate confirmation hearings of U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, another "expert witness" called by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans is, arguably, even more absurd.
Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the fraudulent Republican "voter fraud" group calling themselves True the Vote, is also scheduled to be called as a witness. Last September, as Dave Weigel notes at Bloomberg, when AG Eric Holder announced his intention to resign after a replacement was confirmed, Engelbrecht accused Holder of having carried out a "radical, racialist assault on voting rights."
That's her opinion, of course, but for her own sake, given her group's hilarious track record of failure, prevarication and complete fabrication, the GOP may not want to force this woman to be sworn in before she testifies this week...
There's a reason why we always refer to Fox "News" here with quotes around that second word. Simply put, they're not a news outlet, they're a Republican propaganda outlet. That's fine, but it ain't news. Looks like the White House may have finally developed their own quiet version of that, as noted by Shepard Smith following his pre-SOTU luncheon at the White House last week...
In 2009, the White House took a bunch of push-back (and largely folded to it), when their Communications Director at the time told CNN: "What I think is fair to say about Fox --- and certainly it's the way we view it --- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party. They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."
They were right (correct, I mean, if not necessarily politically wise), in calling out Fox back then for what they are, even as they publicly backed off the accurate assertion in the face of the usual outrage --- OUTRAGE! --- from the Fox "News" Stooge Brigade. They are no less correct now in dropping the word "News" when referring to Fox...even if it wasn't necessarily meant as a slight in this case. It just happens to be true. Sorry, Shep.
The BRAD BLOG is now 11 years old! Seriously. And holy crap.
I can't thank all of our readers enough --- not to mention all of our many content contributors over the years --- for all you've done to help support our work here over so many years.
While 11 years is not as much of a milestone as, say, our 5th or 10th birthdays, it still kinda blows my mind as we head into our 12th year of non-stop, independent trouble-making and muckraking. Even as we do, of course, I still need your help as we continue to fight the sometimes-impossible odds of remaining completely independent of corporate or partisan or foundational control.
So, if you can help us out with a Happy Anniversary present today, it'd be greatly appreciated! If you can afford to make that gift a monthly sustaining pledge, it is all the more appreciated as I continue to fight to figure out ways to afford to keep us going here. (Yes, I hate the fund raising even more than you do! Unfortunately, its a necessity, no matter how bad I am at it!) At any rate, my thanks for whatever you can do to help support us, whether that means donating, commenting, sharing links or simply taking action in some way on something that you've learned here. It all means a great deal. So, thank you. Very much. For all. --- Brad
MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
While the specific names of U.S. Senate and House committees don't always foretell precisely what very specific areas they may oversee or regard as their own purview, the renaming of such a committee by its new chair, as is occasionally done at the start of a new session, particularly when control of the chamber changes hands from one party to another, can be very telling.
I believe this may be one such instance where quite a bit can actually be read into the new name for what had previously been the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee's "Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights"...
Sean Hannity and his friends on the Republican right must be furious about the outrageous land grab happening to private American citizens in Nebraska. Wait, what? He's in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline project anyway? How could that be?
The pipeline's owner, TransCanada Corp., has now filed an eminent domain action in a Nebraska state court seeking to force private landowners to grant an easement that would permit the Canadian-owned company to erect sections of the highly controversial Keystone XL on privately owned land.
The new filing comes on the heels of a controversial decision earlier this month in which a 3-judge minority of the 7-judge Nebraska Supreme Court were permitted to overturn a lower court ruling that the process by which the state's Republican Governor Dave Heineman permitted TransCanada to revise the pipeline's route was unconstitutional. Heineman's decision was upheld because of a Cornhusker state requirement that state constitutionality be determined by a super-majority of high court's justices. (The new route was necessary after both the Republican Governor and GOP-controlled state legislature objected to the originally-planned route.)
While the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision at the time served to shift the immediate focus of the debate back to Washington D.C., where the Republican-controlled House voted for fast-track approval of the pipeline and a similar bill is quickly working its way through the newly GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, TransCanada's eminent domain filing in the state may prove a major embarrassment to those same elected Republicans. Many of those same GOPers, and their mouthpieces in the media like Hannity, have previously declared fierce opposition to eminent domain abuse that occurs when either state or local entities condemn properties owned by ordinary citizens, where such condemnations primarily benefit commercial interests of wealthy corporations and developers...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Obama's State of the Union focuses on climate change; Republicans' sneaky move to give the Keystone XL pipeline a new name; Yellowstone River pipeline spill spews oil and cancer-causing benzene; PLUS: Yes, Republicans vote climate change is not a hoax --- but there's a catch... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Global nuclear decommissioning costs spiral; Good news: India's tiger population rebounds; What's the best way to drill for oil in a mostly untouched Alaskan tundra? Feds disagree; Organic farmers say pesticide drift contaminates and kills; US research labs lets livestock suffer in quest for profit; NM county's fracking ban struck down; Cutbacks in the Oil Patch... PLUS: VIDEO: “..a Bloodbath”: Efficiency, Renewables and Smart Grid will Kill Old Energy... and much, MUCH more! ...
I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast by some of the best bloggers/journalists in the nation (who all happen to live in L.A.) to discuss and deconstruct Obama's 2015 State of the Union Address, the Republican response and more.
Our star-studded in-studio roundtable panel included (from left to right in the photo above) David Dayen of Salon, Heather 'Digby' Parton of Hullabaloo, John Amato from Crooks And Liars, me and Desi Doyen (not pictures, but ever present.)
St. Louis County Director of Elections Rita Days, a former Democratic state Senator who we reported on last November, was unanimously removed from office by the County Board of Elections Commissioners on Tuesday night, according to a late report from KMOV...
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) --- After coming under scrutiny for problems during last year's elections, the St. Louis County Director of Elections is being forced out of her position.
Rita Days was unanimously voted out of the position by the Board of Elections Commission.
Days came under criticism last November when thousands of voters had to wait longer than expected because polling stations ran out of paper ballots.
There is not yet word on who will replace Days.
In the weeks following the November 2014 election, The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively on emails sent to Days by local Election Integrity advocates in advance of the election, advising that her plan for deploying paper ballots would likely fall short of demand on Election Day. It did. As St. Louis Public Radio reported on the day after the election, "unexpected demand for paper ballots caused a shortage at about 95 polling places throughout the county Tuesday. That's more than 20 percent of the county's 444 balloting sites."
But, as we detailed in our own report, the demand was not "unexpected", as Days had been warned, well in advance, about the likelihood of paper ballots running out...
The good news, which Republicans in Congress won't care about, because it involves Americans, as opposed to (profits for foreign) corporations, is that, according to a new NBC/WSJ poll, just 41% of the American public supports building the Keystone XL pipeline.
The not-as-good news, however: Just 20% oppose it, while a full 37% "say they don't know enough to have an opinion".
It's somewhat astonishing, frankly, that so many still "don't know enough" about it after all this time. But that's certainly what its supporters are counting on.
It'll be interesting to see if the news about the oil pipeline rupture in Montana's Yellowstone River on Saturday --- and today's report that it has contaminated the drinking water supply with cancer-causing Benzene --- will have any effect on those poll numbers.
The Guardian reports: "Truckloads of bottled water were expected to be brought in on Tuesday, and residents were warned not to drink or cook with water from their taps. Up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled on Saturday from a break in a 12-inch pipeline owned by Wyoming-based Bridger Pipeline Co." This week's spill follows another pipeline rupture on the Yellowstone in 2011 that dumped 63,000 gallons of crude along an 85-mile stretch of the river.
By way of comparison to the KXL, the pipeline that broke on Saturday, spilling "up to 50,000 gallons", was just a 12-inch pipe, while the the KXL, if completed, will be a 36-inch pipeline stretching from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, right across the water supply for much of the Midwest. What could possibly go wrong?
And one more quick related point: Republican majorities (along with the help of a few pro-KXL Dems) blocked two Democratic amendments today to the GOP Senate bill to require completion of the pipeline. The amendments, proposed by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Al Franken (D-MN), would have required that all of the dirty oil transported through the pipeline be sold in the U.S., and that the pipeline be built with American-made steel.
Do the world a favor and feel free to pass on this short article to a few of those folks who "say they don't know enough to have an opinion" on Keystone XL.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Confirmed. Again. NASA and NOAA find 2014 breaks record for hottest year; More new studies warn human impacts threaten our life support systems; PLUS: 'A glimmer of hopefulness in all this'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Yellowstone River pipeline oil spill triggers drinking water advisory; Rooftop solar enhances home re-sale values; Court rules farms can be held liable for manure pollution; Where have all of California's big trees gone?; GOP Senators quietly supporting increase in gas tax; Expert: oil companies will never address climate change; Nebraska landowners sue over Keystone XL... PLUS: The end of the partisan debate over climate change?... and much, MUCH more! ...