Tuesday / July 22, 2014

“The game is rigged. And the rich and the powerful have lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everybody else, not so much. So the way I see this is we can whine about it, we can whimper about it or we can fight back. I’m fighting back!”

– Sen. Elizabeth Warren, addressing Netroots Nation.

(See “A Real 2014 Agenda”, below.)

Posted in 2014-07-22 | Tagged | Comments Off

Elizabeth Warren Offers Democrats More Than A Possible 2016 Candidacy — She Offers A Real 2014 Agenda

“A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail, but a big bank launders drug money and no one gets arrested. The game is rigged.”

By John Nichols
The Nation (7/19/14)

Detroit — Elizabeth Warren says she is not running for president in 2016—despite the enthusiastic “Run, Liz, Run” chanting that erupted when the senator from Massachusetts took the stage at this year’s Netroots Nation conference. But Warren came to Detroit with the platform on which Democrats should be running in 2016.

And in 2014.

Warren is frequently described as a populist. And she can certainly frame her message in populist terms, as was well illustrated by the strongest statement of her Friday Netroots Nation address: “A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail, but a big bank launders drug money and no one gets arrested. The game is rigged.”

But as the Rev. William Barber, of North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays” movement, reminded the conference in a Thursday evening keynote address, populism is not an ideology or a program unto itself. Populism can go left or go right. Populism can be cogent or crude. What matters is the vision that underpins a populist appeal.

What Elizabeth Warren brought to the Netroots Nation gathering was a progressive vision that is of the moment—a vision rooted in the understandings that have been established in the years since the “Republican wave” election of 2010. As Republicans in Congress practiced obstructionism, and as an increasingly activist Supreme Courtknocked down historic democratic protections, Republican governors aggressively attacked labor rights, voting rights and women’s rights. Citizens responded with rallies, marches and movements—in state capitals, on Wall Street, across the country. They developed a new progressive vision that is more aggressive and more precisely focused on economic and social justice demands, and on challenging the power of corporations and their political allies.

Warren’s Netroots Nation speech incorporated what has been learned, and what has been demanded. She made a connection between the movements and the political process that has tremendous significance for the coming election cycles.

Warren’s Democratic Party has not fully recognized that connection—not by a long shot—but Warren gets it. And the response of the thousands of activists, organizers and communicators gathered at the Netroots conference suggests that “the base” isready to rally around it.

So what is it?

“This is a fight over economics, a fight over privilege, a fight over power,” says Warren. “But deep down it’s a fight over values. These are progressive ideas; these are progressive values. These are America’s values. And these are the values we are willing to fight for.”

They are specific ideas, rooted in recent struggles and using the language of those struggles to form an agenda:

1. “We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”

 

2. “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth. And we will fight for it.”

 

3. “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality. And we will fight for it.”

 

4. “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty. That means raising the minimum wage. And we will fight for it. We will fight for it. And let me add to that: We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.”

 

5. “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt. And we are willing to fight for it. We are willing.”

 

6. “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions. And we will fight for them. We will fight.”

 

7. “We believe— only I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work. And we’re willing to fight for it.

 

8. “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America. And we’re willing to fight for it.”

 

9. “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform. And we are willing to fight for it.”

 

10. “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it.

 

The specificity of the agenda matters as much as the promise to fight.

Unlike too many prominent Democrats—including Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke the day before Warren at Netroots Nation—the senator from Massachusetts is both passionate and precise.

“I think the views she expresses are not necessarily accepted Washington views on things. There are different ways of being a fighter,” says Erica Sagrans, a key organizer of the “Ready for Warren” movement that was a huge presence at Netroots Nation. “There are some people talking about similar policy positions, but the difference is the way she’s doing it.”

Warren does not get personal. She does not mention other Democrats—except the Senate candidates she campaigns for, including progressive populists such as South Dakota’s Rick Weiland, who hailed Warren as “a tremendous supporter, a tremendous help” to his determined run.

Warren’s focus is on a set of essential issues and on bold responses to them. She says things that need to be said—about the agenda and about the attitude that might get Americans excited about not just a particular campaign (for president in 2016 or for US Senate seats in 2014) but about a political agenda that extends beyond individual elections.

“The game is rigged. And the rich and the powerful have lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everybody else, not so much. So the way I see this is we can whine about it, we can whimper about it or we can fight back. I’m fighting back!”

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

Big Pharma Racking Up Record Of Bribery, Scientific Fraud, Felony Crimes And More

You’d think somebody somewhere might be arrested and charged with a crime, right? Nope.

 
By Mike Adams
Natural News (7/20/14)

Those of us who have long been describing the pharmaceutical industry as a “criminal racket” over the last few years have been wholly vindicated by recent news. Drug and vaccine manufacturer Merck was caught red-handed by two of its own scientists faking vaccine efficacy data by spiking blood samples with animal antibodies. GlaxoSmithKline has just been fined a whopping $3 billion for bribing doctors, lying to the FDA, hiding clinical trial data and fraudulent marketing. Pfizer, meanwhile has been sued by the nation’s pharmacy retailers for what is alleged as an “overarching anticompetitive scheme” to keep generic cholesterol drugs off the market and thereby boost its own profits.
The picture that’s emerging is one of a criminal drug industry that has turned to mafia tactics in the absence of any real science that would prove their products to be safe or effective. The emergence of this extraordinary evidence of bribery, scientific fraud, lying to regulators and monopolistic practices that harm consumers is also making all those doctors and “skeptics” who defended Big Pharma and vaccines eat their words.

To defend Big Pharma today is to defend a cabal of criminal corporations that have proven they will do anything — absolutely anything – to keep their profits rolling in. It makes no difference who they have to bribe, what studies they have to falsify, or who has to be threatened into silence. They will stop at nothing to expand their profit base, even if it means harming (or killing) countless innocents.

Let’s take a look at recent revelations:

Bribery, fraud and other crimes

In what is now the largest criminal fraud settlement ever to come out of the pharmaceutical industry, GlaxoSmithKline has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal fines and $2 billion in civil fines following a nine-year federal investigation into its activities.

According to U.S. federal investigators, GlaxoSmithKline (http://www.naturalnews.com/036416_GlaxoSmith…):

• Routinely bribed doctors with luxury vacations and paid speaking gigs
• Fabricated drug safety data and lied to the FDA
• Defrauded Medicare and Medicaid out of billions
• Deceived regulators about the effectiveness of its drugs
• Relied on its deceptive practices to earn billions of dollars selling potentially dangerous drugs to unsuspecting consumers and medical patients

And this is just the part they got caught doing. GSK doesn’t even deny any of this. The company simply paid the $3 billion fine, apologized to its customers, and continued conducting business as usual.

By the way, in addition to bribing physicians, GSK has plenty of money to spread around bribing celebrities and others who pimps its products. The company reportedly paid $275,000 to the celebrity doctor known as “Dr. Drew,” who promoted Glaxo’s mind-altering antidepressant drug Wellbutrin (http://naturalsociety.com/top-radio-doctor-p…).

As the Wall Street Journal reports:

In June 1999, popular radio personality Dr. Drew Pinsky used the airwaves to extol the virtues of GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s antidepressant Wellbutrin, telling listeners he prescribes it and other medications to depressed patients because it “may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal” as much as other antidepressants do. But one thing listeners didn’t know was that, two months before the program aired, Dr. Pinsky — who gained fame as “Dr. Drew” during years co-hosting a popular radio sex-advice show “Loveline” — received the second of two payments from Glaxo totaling $275,000 for “services for Wellbutrin.”
(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527…)

Falsified data, spiked blood samples and more

According to former Merck virologists Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, the company: (http://www.naturalnews.com/036328_Merck_mump…)

• “Falsified test data to fabricate a vaccine efficacy rate of 95 percent or higher.”

• Spiked the blood test with animal antibodies in order to artificially inflate the appearance of immune system antibodies.

• Pressured the two virologists to “participate in the fraud and subsequent cover-up.”

• Used the falsified trial results to swindle the U.S. government out of “hundreds of millions of dollars for a vaccine that does not provide adequate immunization.”

• Intimidated the scientists, threatening them with going to jail unless they stayed silent.

This is all documented in a 2010 False Claims Act which NaturalNews has acquired and posted here:
http://www.naturalnews.com/gallery/documents…

Millions of children put at risk by Merck

In that document the two virologists say they, “witnessed firsthand the improper testing and data falsification in which Merck engaged to artificially inflate the vaccine’s efficacy findings.”

They also claim that because of the faked vaccine results, “the United States has over the last decade paid Merck hundreds of millions of dollars for a vaccine that does not provide adequate immunization… The United States is by far the largest financial victim of Merck’s fraud.”

They go on to point out that children are the real victims, however:

“But the ultimate victims here are the millions of children who every year are being injected with a mumps vaccine that is not providing them with an adequate level of protection. …The failure in Merck’s vaccine has allowed this disease to linger with significant outbreaks continuing to occur.” …

Read the Rest

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

TONIGHT! Join WDRT And ‘Daily Call’ Editor Mark Taylor For Public Viewing & Discussion of Documentary “Shadows Of Freedom”

“It is time for citizen journalists to come to the aid of their nation.”

Viroqua community supported radio station WDRT is sponsoring a showing of the documentary “Shadows of Freedom” this tonight, Tuesday, July 22, 7 p.m., at The Ark, at the corner of Jefferson and Washington in Viroqua. There will be a discussion of the film and how to meet the challenge presented by a corporate controlled media at a time of national peril.

Suggestion donation, $5. Proceeds to be divided between WDRT and the producer of the documentary. Debra Brown, who is the “U.S. Outreach Coordinator” for the film, is touring the show.

Daily Call editor Mark L. Taylor will facilitate the discussion.

“This is an extremely important documentary,” Taylor notes. “At a time of multiple challenges the fact that our media is controlled by the very economic and class forces decimating the middle class, environment and national character needs to be understood by every citizen. As we saw in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq war, the media has become a primary force for American war and empire building.

“It is time for citizen journalists to come to the aid of their nation. This film is an argument for a legion of modern day Thomas Paines to step forward.”

The event is being coordinated by Jim Hallberg, of WDRT. Phone 638-9378.

You can view a trailer clip of the film at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SAUborWbPw&feature=c4-overview&list=UU03hWohkXnD212MZ1LRetTA

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

City Outperforms Vaunted Private Sector: How Tennessee Could Save America’s Internet

A system that now provides the nation’s fastest broadband speeds at prices often cheaper than the private competition. 

By David Sirota
Salon (7/17/14)

The business lobby often demands that government get out of the way of private corporations, so that competition can flourish and high-quality services can be efficiently delivered to as many consumers as possible. Yet, in an epic fight over telecommunications policy, the paradigm is now being flipped on its head, with corporate forces demanding the government squelch competition and halt the expansion of those high-quality services. Whether and how federal officials act may ultimately shape the future of America’s information economy.

The front line in this fight is Chattanooga, Tennessee, where officials at the city’s public electric utility, EPB, realized that smart-grid energy infrastructure could also provide consumers super-fast Internet speeds at competitive prices. A few years ago, those officials decided to act on that revelation. Like a publicly traded corporation, the utility issued bonds to raise resources to invest in the new broadband project. Similarly, just as many private corporations ended up receiving federal stimulus dollars, so did EPB, which put those monies into its new network.

Faster & cheaper than corporate internet

The result is a system that now provides the nation’s fastest broadband speeds at prices often cheaper than the private competition. As the Chattanooga Times Free Press noted a few years back, “EPB offers faster Internet speeds for the money, and shows equal pep in both uploading and downloading content, with Comcast and AT&T trailing on quickness.” Meanwhile, EPB officials tell the Washington Post that the utility’s telecom services have become “a great profit center” — an assertion confirmed by a Standard & Poor credit upgrade notice pointing out that the utility “is now covering all costs from telephone, video and Internet revenue, as well as providing significant financial benefit to the electric system.”

This is great news for local businesses and taxpayers — but it is terrible news for private telecom companies, who not only fear being outcompeted and outperformed in Chattanooga, but also fear the Chattanooga model being promoted in other cities. In response, those telecom firms have been abandoning the standard argument about the private sector. Indeed, as the Times Free Press reported last week, rather than insisting the private sector has inherent advantages over the public sector, the firms have gone to court insisting “that EPB, as a public entity, would have an edge when competing against private companies, which would be at a disadvantage when facing an entity owned by taxpayers.”

To date, those court cases have been thwarted by EPB. However, it is a different story in state legislatures. Once again abandoning the business lobby’s typical call for less government intervention, telecom firms have successfully pushed 20 states to pass laws limiting the reach of community-owned utilities like EPB.

Telecoms run to mommy Washington

That’s where Washington comes in. With Census figures showing more than 1 in 5 Tennessee residents having no Internet connection, EPB is now proposing to offer its ultra-fast services to new communities. But it needs the Federal Communications Commission to preempt the Tennessee statute prohibiting the utility from competing with private telecom companies outside its current market.

For EPB, the good news is that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly pledged that in the name of competition and broadband access, he will support preempting state laws like Tennessee’s. However, in a capital run by money, EPB may still be politically overpowered. After all, as a community-owned utility in a midsized city, EPB does not have the lobbyists and campaign cash to match those of behemoths like Comcast and AT&T. What the utility does have is a solid track record and a pro-consumer, pro-competition argument.

The question is: Will that be enough to prevent Wheeler from backing down or being blocked by Congress? The future of the Internet may be at stake in the answer.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

Kim Jong Un Really Hates This Video And Doesn’t Want You To See It

By Ed Mazza
The Huffington Post (7/21/14)

Dictators never seem to have much of a sense of humor, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is no exception.

Kim is trying to get China to pull the plug on a satirical video that, with some not-so-subtle digital trickery, shows him dancing, running, getting poked in the butt by a rocket and more, all set to catchy music. He also gets repeatedly pranked — often by President Barack Obama.

North Korean officials say the clip “seriously compromises Kim’s dignity and authority,” South Korea’s Chosun Ilbun newspaper reports.

Naturally, China has been unable to help because once something is online, it’s online forever. And Kim doesn’t seem to know Rule 19 of the Internet: The more you hate it, the stronger it gets.

This is not the only video that has Pyongyang going ballistic. The nation recently threatened a “resolute and merciless response” over the upcoming Seth Rogan/James Franco film, “The Interview.”

Link to Story and 3+-Minute Video

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

Frontline: Separate And Increasingly Unequal

Across the nation largely white, prosperous middle class portions of cities are moving toe separate into smaller enclave cities in order to form their own school districts that would be largely white. Sixty years after the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that broke the “separate but equal” myth, segregation is back on the march.

This PBS Frontline report profiles the effort of a group of white activists to split away from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to create their own City of St. George, and their own school district which would be majority white.

27-Minute Video

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

Sen. Shilling Announces Viroqua Office Hours, Tuesday, July 22

LA CROSSE – Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) announced that she will be holding in-district office hours on Tuesday, July 22nd at the Viroqua High School. Members of the public are invited to sit down with Sen. Shilling and discuss their thoughts or concerns regarding legislation or any state government issues.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
4:00pm-5:00pm
Viroqua High School commons area
100 Blackhawk Drive
Viroqua, WI 54665

“Meeting with community members face-to-face and keeping in touch with local residents helps me to best represent our shared values in the legislature,” said Sen. Shilling. “I am always available to help, and these local meetings are one more way for citizens to share their thoughts with me.”

If individuals are unable to attend the scheduled office hours, they can contact Sen. Shilling anytime via email at Sen.Shilling@legis.wi.gov or by phone at 1-800-385-3385.

Prior to the office hours event, Sen. Shilling will be joined by Superintendent Robert Knadle and Principal Kathy Klos to present a legislative award to Brigetta Rodriguez who graduated from Viroqua High School this year. Brigetta was recently recognized for her leadership and academic performance as the 2014 Student Readiness Award recipient by the ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign and will be attending Vassar College in the fall.

MEDIA NOTE: Members of the press are invited to attend the legislative award presentation at3:45pm in the Viroqua High School commons area as well as the following office hours event at4:00pm. 

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

Dept. Of Much Needed Humor — Study Finds People On Dates Know Within 30 Seconds If Other Person Is Newt Gingrich

The Onion (7/14/14)

AUSTIN, TX—Examining the importance of first impressions when meeting potential romantic partners, a study released Monday by the University of Texas found that individuals on first dates are able to tell within just 30 seconds whether the other person is former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

“Within just half a minute, the average person rapidly evaluates a number of physical and social cues from the individual he or she is with and makes up his or her mind about whether or not he or she is in the company of longtime Georgia representative Newt Gingrich,” said researcher Marcia Hills, adding that the findings applied equally to men and women, as well as straight and homosexual individuals. “You can be having an engaging conversation, but the truth is you’ve already instinctively determined whether the person sitting across from you led the 1994 Republican Revolution in Congress before your drinks have even arrived. Whatever else happens during the date, your actions will ultimately be governed by what you knew in your heart about this individual moments after you met.”

The researchers also found that while many people continued their date out of courtesy, a significant number realized there could never be much romantic potential with Gingrich and immediately began searching for excuses to leave.

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-07-22, Newsletter | Comments Off

Monday / July 22, 2014

“The poor have to help the poor because the ones who are making the money are helping the people with money.”

– Lallois “Lolly” Davis, interviewed in “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.” (p.101)

 

Posted in 2014-07-21 | Tagged | Comments Off

The Human Price Of Murderous Neocon Havoc

The greatest purveyors of this unnecessary warfare are America’s neocons.

 
 
By Robert Parry
Consortium News (7/17/14)

Whether the tragedy is four boys getting blown apart while playing on a beach in Gaza or nearly 300 killed from a suspected missile strike on a Malaysian Airliner over Ukraine or the thousands upon thousands of other innocent victims slaughtered in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other recent war zones, the underlying lesson is that the havoc encouraged by America’s neocons results in horrendous loss of human life.

While clearly other players share in this blame, including the soldiers on the ground and the politicians lacking the courage to compromise, the principal culprits in the bloodshed of the past dozen years have been the neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies who can’t seem to stop stirring up trouble in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

Rather than work out reasonable – albeit imperfect – compromises with various foreign leaders, the neocons and their liberal allies insist on ratcheting up demands to such unrealistic levels that conflict becomes inevitable and the outcomes are almost always catastrophic.

In Iraq in 2003, the neocons and many liberal fellow-travelers insisted that the only acceptable solution was the violent removal of Saddam Hussein through an unprovoked U.S. invasion. Though Hussein was ousted and hanged, the collateral damage included hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, including many children, along with the complete destabilization of the country.

In Syria and Libya, many of the same U.S. actors – although in this case led by the liberal “responsibility-to-protect” crowd – pushed for the overthrow of the existing governments, supposedly to save lives and spread democracy.

In Libya, the U.S.-led air war did cause Muammar Gaddafi to be overthrown and murdered but the ensuing chaos has led to many more deaths, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, plus the spread of Islamic militancy across the region.

In Syria, the U.S.-backed “regime change” bid failed to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but the resulting chaos has left more than 100,000 people killed and has given rise to an ultra-violent jihadist group called the Islamic State, which first emerged from the U.S.-created war in Iraq and has now boomeranged back onto Iraq as the jihadists have seized major cities and spurred more sectarian killings.

But there may be a method to the apparent neocon madness. The neocons have always been committed to protecting Israel and enabling its oppression of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, one can understand pretty much every confrontational policy pushed by the neocons as being designed to serve Israeli interests.

These “regime change” schemes can be directly traced to the work of prominent U.S. neocons on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister. Rather than continuing inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers – including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser – advocated an aggressive new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

Essentially, the neocon thinking arose from Israeli frustration over negotiations with the Palestinians. The Israelis were angry at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the militant group Hamas as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. So the “clean break” scratched negotiations and replaced talking with “regime change” in countries supporting those groups, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Two years later, in 1998, came the neocon Project for the New American Century’s call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Helpful Chaos

Though many of the neocon plans have not worked out as advertised – the promised “cakewalk” in Iraq turned into a bloody slog – the neocon strategy could still be labeled a success if the actual intent was to destabilize and weaken Middle Eastern countries that were perceived as threats to Israel.

Through that lens, it’s not entirely bad that old sectarian hatreds have been revived, pitting Sunni against Shiite and ripping apart societies such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In the end, the regional chaos has helped Prime Minister Netanyahu starve the Palestinians of the financial support that they once had, supposedly making them more susceptible to whatever demands the Israelis choose to make. And it has given Netanyahu a freer hand to engage in periodic slaughters of Gazan militants, a process that Israelis call “mowing the grass.”

When the 1.7 million Palestinians packed into the Gaza Strip lash out at their Israeli oppressors – as they periodically do – the neocons who remain very influential in Official Washington are quick to dominate the U.S. media, justifying whatever levels of violence that Netanyahu chooses to inflict. But raining bombs down on this densely populated area is sure to kill many children and other innocents.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military targeted a shed on the beach in Gaza. According to reports, the first missile hit the shed and killed one small boy playing in the vicinity. When three other boys began running, the Israelis blew them away with a second rocket. New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks explained the events this way:

“A small shack atop a sea wall at the fishing port had been struck by an Israeli bomb or missile and was burning. A young boy emerged from the smoke, running toward the adjacent beach. I grabbed my cameras and was putting on body armor and a helmet when, about 30 seconds after the first blast, there was another. The boy I had seen running was now dead, lying motionless in the sand, along with three other boys who had been playing there.”

Presumably, the Israeli pilots or whoever targeted the missile deserve the immediate blame for this atrocity. But the far-worse criminals are the Israeli leaders who refuse to address the longstanding injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people. Also, sharing in this crime are the American neocons who justify whatever Israel does …

Read the Rest

Posted in 2014-07-21, Newsletter | Comments Off

Bill Maher Slams Militarized Police Culture In America

“Those words on the side of your car ‘Protect and Serve’ refer to us, not you.”

By Jessica Goodman
The Huffington Post (7/19/14)

Bill Maher used his closing monologue on the July 18 episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher” to take a jab at militarized police culture in America. He listed different small towns that use military-style tanks and “toys” in their police departments.

“Once you start dressing and equipping people like an occupying army, they start acting like one,” he said. “Every day there’s another story in the paper about cops beating innocent people.” He noted that police culture isn’t just borrowing equipment and machinery from the army, but also a “philosophy of overwhelming force,” citing the rise in SWAT team invasions and police brutality.

Watch the whole monologue below.

Link to Story and 5-Minute Video

 

Posted in 2014-07-21, Newsletter | Comments Off

California Halts Injection Of Fracking Waste, Warning It May Be Contaminating Fragile Drinking Water Aquifers

State’s drought has forced farmers to rely on groundwater, even as California aquifers have been intentionally polluted due to exemptions for oil industry.

 

By Abrahm Lustgarten
ProPublica (7/18/14) 

California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state’s drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

The state’s Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal “poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources.” The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.

The action comes as California’s agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.

The problem is that at least 100 of the state’s aquifers were presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access. Years ago, the state exempted them from environmental protection and allowed the oil and gas industry to intentionally pollute them. But not all aquifers are exempted, and the system amounts to a patchwork of protected and unprotected water resources deep underground. Now, according to the cease and desist orders issued by the state, it appears that at least seven injection wells are likely pumping waste into fresh water aquifers protected by the law, and not other aquifers sacrificed by the state long ago.

“The aquifers in question with respect to the orders that have been issued are not exempt,” said Ed Wilson, a spokesperson for the California Department of Conservation in an email.

A 2012 ProPublica investigation of more than 700,000 injection wells across the country found that wells were often poorly regulated and experienced high rates of failure, outcomes that were likely polluting underground water supplies that are supposed to be protected by federal law. That investigation also disclosed a little-known program overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that exempted more than 1,000 other drinking water aquifers from any sort of pollution protection at all, many of them in California.

Those are the aquifers at issue today. The exempted aquifers, according to documents the state filed with the U.S. EPA in 1981 and obtained by ProPublica, were poorly defined and ambiguously outlined. They were often identified by hand-drawn lines on a map, making it difficult to know today exactly which bodies of water were supposed to be protected, and by which aspects of the governing laws. Those exemptions and documents were signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown, who also was governor in 1981.

State officials emphasized to ProPublica that they will now order water testing and monitoring at the injection well sites in question. To date, they said, they have not yet found any of the more regulated aquifers to have been contaminated.

“We do not have any direct evidence any drinking water has been affected,” wrote Steve Bohlen, the state oil and gas supervisor, in a statement to ProPublica.

Bohlen said his office was acting “out of an abundance of caution,” and a spokesperson said that the state became aware of the problems through a review of facilities it was conducting according to California’s fracking law passed late last year, which required the state to study fracking impacts and adopt regulations to address its risks, presumably including underground disposal.

California officials have long been under fire for their injection well practices, a waste disposal program that the state runs according to federal law and under a sort of license — called “primacy” — given to it by the EPA.

For one, experts say that aquifers the states and the EPA once thought would never be needed may soon become important sources of water as the climate changes and technology reduces the cost of pumping it from deep underground and treating it for consumption. Indeed, towns in Wyoming and Texas — two states also suffering long-term droughts — are pumping, treating, then delivering drinking water to taps from aquifers which would be considered unusable under California state regulations governing the oil and gas industry.

In June 2011, the EPA conducted a review of other aspects of California’s injection well program and found enforcement, testing and oversight problems so significant that the agency demanded California improve its regulations and warned that the state’s authority could be revoked …

Read the Rest

Posted in 2014-07-21, Newsletter | Comments Off

Make Their Message Go Viral — Bad River Tribal Members Are Working Every Day To Save The Penokees – Help With A Click Today

Midwest Environmental Activists (7/17/14)

Big news! This week, Upworthy, a multimedia company that shares social media with a mission, posted this Citizen Voices Matter project film featuring members of the Bad River Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa speaking out against a proposed open-pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills.

The video has gotten over 2,500 new views in two days on Upworthy. But more views can earn a post on the Upworthy Facebook page – and thousands more people learning more about why opposition to open-pit mining in Wisconsin keeps growing.

“Whether or not viewers agree with all of the provocative content on Upworthy, the site is a valuable platform for disempowered citizens working for justice,” said Stacy Harbaugh, Communications and Outreach Coordinator. “We hope the message that Bad River Tribal members have to share will continue to reach people, even outside of Wisconsin.”

Want to do more? Even if you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, you can write to the EPA and ask for a formal review of Wisconsin’s weakened iron mining law.  Find a sample letter to the EPA at protectpenokeehills.org

More about the Citizen Voices Matter project: Midwest Environmental Advocates partnered with Metta Monday Creative, a multimedia design team based in Madison, Wisconsin to create the Citizen Voices Matter project to create short films and portraits to highlight the concerns citizens have about mining. Instead of an exposé on environmental devastation, the project focuses on people, their message and their concerns about the health of their families and their environment.

Help Us Right Now.
Visit this video on Upworthy’s website and share it on Facebook or Twitter

Posted in 2014-07-21, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off

TUESDAY! Join WDRT And ‘Daily Call’ Editor Mark Taylor For Public Viewing & Discussion of Documentary “Shadows Of Freedom”

“It is time for citizen journalists to come to the aid of their nation.”

Viroqua community supported radio station WDRT is sponsoring a showing of the documentary “Shadows of Freedom” this coming Tuesday, July 22, 7 p.m., at The Ark, at the corner of Jefferson and Washington in Viroqua. There will be a discussion of the film and how to meet the challenge presented by a corporate controlled media at a time of national peril.

Suggestion donation, $5. Proceeds to be divided between WDRT and the producer of the documentary. Debra Brown, who is the “U.S. Outreach Coordinator” for the film, is touring the show.

Daily Call editor Mark L. Taylor will facilitate the discussion.

“This is an extremely important documentary,” Taylor notes. “At a time of multiple challenges the fact that our media is controlled by the very economic and class forces decimating the middle class, environment and national character needs to be understood by every citizen. As we saw in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq war, the media has become a primary force for American war and empire building.

“It is time for citizen journalists to come to the aid of their nation. This film is an argument for a legion of modern day Thomas Paines to step forward.”

The event is being coordinated by Jim Hallberg, of WDRT. Phone 638-9378.

You can view a trailer clip of the film at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SAUborWbPw&feature=c4-overview&list=UU03hWohkXnD212MZ1LRetTA

Posted in 2014-07-20, 2014-07-21, Newsletter | Comments Off