Posts filed under ‘America for Sale’
This morning I came across this:
ALEC Plans Massive Environmental Attack for 2014
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a big year ahead of them, as they attempt to dismantle a slew of environmental protections from state to state. More specifically, the corporate front group is hoping to pass dirty energy friendly legislation to ease the rules for electric utilities.
From state to state, ALEC is drafting legislation that would cut renewable energy, increase dependence on coal and dismantle energy efficiency standards.
And then I remembered reading about this a few days ago:
[Colorado's "Democratic"] Governor Hickenlooper has chosen Glenn Vaad, a former state representative from Weld County, as the newest of the three-member Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Mr. Vaad is no friend of clean energy for Colorado—his voting record allied primarily with the fossil fuel industry at the expense of Colorado’s clean energy economy. Mr. Vaad is also a former high-ranking member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful corporate lobbying group whose members include Koch Industries and others pushing state legislatures to turn back the clock on adoption of renewable energy in Colorado and elsewhere.
If a so-called Democratic governor is appointing “former high-ranking” members of ALEC to state boards — any board — we’re doomed. Seriously. It illustrates the fact that this isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats anymore — they’re all being corrupted — it’s about the corporatocracy and the monied class against the rest of us.
Maybe it’s just me, but have you noticed how the cable “news” networks cycle through so-called news stories roughly every eight, ten, 15 minutes and repeat themselves ad nauseam all day (unless there’s “breaking news” of course, like a high-speed police chase or an apartment fire)?
And maybe its just me but have you noticed how the right constantly screams about how liberal the U.S. media is?
Imagine how this country would change if the media really was liberal and they repeated this kind of thing every day, all day:
– Giving Employees Paid Sick Leave is Good for Business: A large majority of employers in Connecticut — where paid sick leave has been mandatory since January, 2012 — “reported that the law did not affect business operations and that they had no or only small increases in costs.”
– The NSA’s Sweeping Surveillance Programs Don’t Stop Terrorism: On June 5, 2013, the Guardian broke the first story in what would become a flood of revelations regarding the extent and nature of the NSA’s surveillance programs. Facing an uproar over the threat such programs posed to privacy, the Obama administration scrambled to defend them as legal and essential to U.S. national security and counterterrorism. Two weeks after the first leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published, President Obama defended the NSA surveillance programs during a visit to Berlin, saying: “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved.”
However, our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading. An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal.
Climate change will complicate the Philippines’ efforts to become self-sufficient in rice, the country’s economic planning secretary said Monday.
Arsenio Balisacan said preliminary data showed that 74% of the estimated damage from natural disasters in the country last year came in the farm sector, primarily affecting rice. The natural disasters include extreme weather caused by global warming, he said.
“We expect these extreme events and unpredictable phenomena to become the new normal,” Mr. Balisican told a workshop on efforts to address the impact of climate change in agriculture.
No government regulation! Woo hoo. A Libertarian paradise (unless you need to take a shower, drink water, wash your clothes, make dinner or wash your face).
Remember back in late March when an Exxon oil pipeline burst and spilled gooey oil all over a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas? Here are some pics.
Fast forward seven months and man-oh-man, the once tight community has been torn apart:
Eight months after an ExxonMobil pipeline leaked Canadian oil across an Arkansas subdivision, a cloud of uncertainty looms large over the young families, singles and retirees who chose the affordable, decade-old Northwoods neighborhood to establish roots. Nearly half of them have put their houses up for sale in search of a fresh start they never wanted.
“The area is blanketed with ‘For Sale’ signs,” said April Lane, a community health advocate who has worked with the spill victims. Twenty-nine of the development’s 62 homes have either been sold to Exxon under its buy-out program or are on the open market.
Some people were forced to sell because oil settled in their homes’ foundations, where removing it is nearly impossible. Others chose to leave because of fears about potential health effects and the marketability of their properties. Those who are staying aren’t necessarily doing so by choice: Many don’t have enough equity to afford a down payment on a new home in another suburb, according to local real estate brokers.
The upheaval has torn at the fabric of the once tight-knit central Arkansas neighborhood, where barbecues were regularly held and neighbors watched after each other’s kids, who played in Northwoods’ three cul-de-sacs and five streets. Ryan Senia, a 30-year-old bachelor who bought his Northwoods home in 2009, said it was either sell to Exxon now or risk “holding onto that thing forever.”
“It’s like selling a salvaged car—nobody wants to buy it.”
The subdivision was thrust into this position on March 29, when 5,000 barrels of oil spewed out of Exxon’s 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline. Twenty-two homes were evacuated, almost one-third of the Northwoods development.
The leaked oil was from Alberta’s tar sands region, similar to the diluted bitumen (dilbit) that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL project, if it’s built.
Really sad and entirely avoidable. Who the hell approved the construction of a subdivision on top of an oil pipeline?
Few if any even knew that an oil pipeline was buried under their lawns.
As I’ve said before, if I lived in Virginia, I might have to sit out this year’s gubernatorial election set for November 5. Two wholly owned corporate ass kissers are running. One, the so-called Democrat — Terry McAuliffe — is backed by the Clinton machine which gives us a glimpse into what a Hillary Clinton presidential reign might look like. I.e., great for the corporatocracy but for We the People? Not so much:
If you want to see how grossly money can distort democracy, just go to the state of Virginia, where there are no limits on how big a check can be written for statewide office. Groups and individuals from outside the Old Dominion are taking full advantage, pouring millions into a governor’s race they see as a dry run for the tactics they’ll use in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race – sort of the way the Spanish civil war turned out to be a testing ground for many of the deadly weapons of World War II.
The Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, has been in training for years as courtier to the rich. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Democratic National Committee, which he chaired for four years, and the campaigns of his – Best Friends Forever – Bill and Hillary Clinton, who now are shaking down donors for him. Along the way, according to The Washington Post, this gregarious bagman used government programs, his huge Rolodex of political connections, and wealthy investors from both parties to enrich himself. He organized a company to build electric cars and promoted it to investors with a prospectus featuring photographs and ample references to his Clinton ties. He even got the former President to show up at the opening of the plant in Mississippi, along with that state’s former Republican governor, Haley Barbour, who made his fortune as a lobbyist in Washington for the tobacco industry
But Cuccinelli is in no position to talk. The candidate was drawn into that Virginia money scandal in which Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., CEO of Star Scientific, a company that manufactures dietary supplements, showered lavish presents and perks on the current governor and his wife. Cuccinelli also received a sprinkling of Williams’ largesse. He recently donated the value of what he says he got — $18,000 – to charity.
What’s more, his donor list includes considerable checks from big tobacco and big coal, including Murray Energy Corporation, which has often been fined for endangering the health and safety of its miners. Last year, its boss, Bob Murray, was discovered insisting that employees contribute time and money to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates – including Mitt Romney – or else.
Now Cuccinelli’s touting a major tax cut for the rich, with a plan that, according to the liberal Center for American Progress, would give 47% of a proposed tax reduction to the top five percent of Virginians. The state would lose nearly a billion and a half dollars in revenues so the rich can be even richer.
What a choice huh?
I wish I could take my head off and set it down for a while.
Here are my Tweets of the Day. No politics or screamers this time, just a little something about cows and cowboys.
Wow. Check this out. It looks like this poor shark had rope wrapped around its “throat” area for along, long time:
[Nov 7, 2012] Near Socorro Island, about 250 miles south of Baja, Mexico, Divers spotted a whale shark with a large rope wrapped around it’s girth.
The rope must have been there for some time as it had cut deeply into the sharks flesh. One of the divers was able to cut the shark free and it was all caught on camera. Awesome moment…
I love how they high five at the end but hey, who wouldn’t? Bravo to the divers!
On a windy night in September, whilst most people were sleeping, wind power reached a record of 64.2% of Spain’s electricity demand.
The vast majority of Spain’s power that night came not from fossil fuels but clean, renewable energy generated by wind turbines on the Spanish hills.
And what couldn’t be used in Spain wasn’t wasted.
Some was exported via giant cables linking Spain to the rest of Europe and some was used to pump water uphill so it could be allowed to flow back down later, when demand was higher.
Pumped storage and interconnectors are just two of the way Spain has found to make sure wind works.
And there’s this:
Germany continues to outstrip the rest of the world in solar power capacity, and is adding new solar faster than any other country as well.
The US energy corporatocracy wants to believe that drilling for oil, fracking and transnational pipelines are the key to energy independence. Believe that at your children’s and your grandchildren’s peril.
Countries like Germany and Spain (despite their financial difficulties) are moving ahead with clean energy yet the US is held hostage by companies who wouldn’t mind destroying the entire planet to make a profit.
On Thursday I posted about a black bear that was holed up in a tree in a very congested, high-traffic area of Boulder. I worried about the poor guy precisely because of where he was; essentially smack in the middle of town near very busy roads, immediately behind Boulder High and just north of the University of Colorado campus. I thought the chances of the police or wildlife officials deciding to kill him were pretty high.
But, thank goodness, that didn’t happen:
The bear that camped out in a tree near the University of Colorado campus climbed down and wandered off on its own sometime during the night, according to wildlife officials.
The bear — which rangers on scene said was a full adult — had climbed about 35 feet into a tree near 13th Street and Grandview Avenue just after noon Thursday. The bear was too high up to tranquilize so rangers decided to monitor the area and hope the bear left on its own.
Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said the bear left sometime during the night [Thursday] on its own and did not need to be tranquilized or relocated.
This video was posted on YouTube today. It’s titled “Surreal Scene Elephant.” The caption reads: “This will probably never happen to anyone that sees this.”
No other information is available.
My take on it is that an elephant wouldn’t get this close to a human being if he or she didn’t have to. I’m thinking desperation, as in drought.
A priceless interaction (for the stunned humans) no matter the reason.
I’ll follow up.
People help three baby bears escape a dumpster.
Smart little sweeties. They just needed a little help.
This is from the “liberal” The Independent of London:
Hello, New Yorkers, if you’re there. In a few weeks you’ll welcome to your streets 10,000 bicycles that will make you, says your fellow New Yorker, the writer David Byrne, “rethink your city and rewrite the mental maps you use to decide what is… possible.”
Manhattan will become the latest city to adopt a bike hire scheme, deploying the same machines we use in London. Here’s some advice before you hop on: Get a cheap helmet; consider the effects of sweat before riding to social engagements; start saving – the scheme is more than five times the price of London’s – and never get run over (taxis may be your nemesis).
This photo accompanies the article:
Citibike? As in Citigroup.
Citigroup was one of the five or six banks who crashed the global economy. They aren’t our friend. But they want to be.
This photo disgusts me. Come on world, let’s not fall for their cheap effort to woo us.
Geezus. I wonder how much Xcel Energy paid under the table for this:
Xcel Energy has struck an agreement with regulators, consumer advocates and businesses that would raise electricity rates in Colorado $114 million over three years.
The utility had originally sought a $142 million increase for 2012.
The settlement, which must be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, would raise the typical residential bill, in three annual steps, by a total of $3.70 a month, or about 5.5 percent.
The original request would have raised the average monthly residential bill by $4, to $71, for 2012.
Xcel, the state’s largest utility, won the proposed rate hike in the face of stiff opposition from state regulators, businesses and consumers, and after failing to get an interim rate increase from the commission.
So Xcel got a rate increase of $114 million over three years. Here’s the kicker:
The utilities commission staff recommended that Xcel receive a $7.3 million hike. The state Office of Consumer Counsel, representing residential and small-business customers, suggested $9.4 million.
It isn’t clear whether the numbers immediately above are for one year or three, but it doesn’t matter. Xcel was cleared to hike rates $114 million over three years, hugely higher than the recommended amounts, even if they are multiplied by three.
How did this happen? How did Xcel get a hike so wildly and hugely above what was recommended?
There can be only one answer. Xcel owns some people. It’s called the corporatocracy.
I heard a few sentences about this on the radio this morning and I just about fell on the floor:
Dangerous medical devices
Most medical implants have never been tested for safety
Tens of millions of Americans live with medical devices implanted in their bodies—artificial joints, heart defibrillators, surgical mesh. And it’s a safe bet that most of them assume that someone, somewhere, tested the devices for safety and effectiveness.
But that is rarely the case. For most implants and other high-risk devices brought to market, manufacturers do nothing more than file some paperwork and pay the Food and Drug Administration a user fee of roughly $4,000 to start selling a product that can rack up many millions of dollars in revenue. Often, the only safety “testing” that occurs is in the bodies of unsuspecting patients—including two of the three people whose stories are told in this report.
As for the smaller number of high-risk products for which advance safety studies are required, government rules allow them to be sold based on studies that are smaller and less rigorous than those required for prescription drugs.
“Standards for devices exist, they just don’t make sense,” says Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., a vocal critic of the current system and president of the National Research Center for Women & Families, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
I find this absolutely shocking. I had no idea it was this bad. Devices implanted in people’s bodies, including those that literally keep people alive, like heart defibrillators, aren’t tested for safety?! Gosh. I wonder that came to pass (here’s lookin’ at you, lobbyists for the corporatocracy).
OMG. Is this Obama talking or is this Obama under the influence of Citizens United talking?
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama, who has angered businesses with his plans to close corporate tax loopholes, is expected to call for cutting the top 35 percent corporate tax rate as early as this month, according to two sources close to the administration.
The president is likely to propose a rate close to an average of peer nations, the sources said.
Good thing it’s Friday. This is the kind of news that makes me want to take my head off and set it down for a while.
Antonin Scalia is a simple-minded asshat unworthy of the position he’s in:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia has a simple solution for people who don’t like all the political advertisements unleashed by the court’s decision two years ago that ended limits on corporate contributions in political campaigns – change the channel or turn off the TV.
Scalia was asked about the [Citizens United] decision during a presentation before the South Carolina Bar on Saturday, exactly two years after the court handed down the 5-4 decision in the case that led to the rise of Super PACs. They are outside groups affiliated with candidates that can take in unlimited contributions as long as they don’t directly coordinate with the candidate.
“I don’t care who is doing the speech – the more the merrier,” Scalia said. “People are not stupid. If they don’t like it, they’ll shut it off.”
Yo Tony, people are stupid. They don’t turn their TV off. They watch and they get brainwashed.
(Hear me screaming now?)
I’m going to bed. I’m walking people through a food bank tomorrow.
AOL and Huffington Post CEO, Timothy M. Armstrong is a Romney supporter currently at the maximum allowed contribution of $2,500 for the current cycle.
You go Wisconsin!
507,533 signatures to recall Scott Walker and counting. The people of Wisconsin are uniting to recall Scott Walker.
Scott Walker wanted to be popular in high school but he didn’t know how to, so he kissed up to the macho guys, the athletes (as in the Koch brothers) and lapped at their feet until they turned around and gave him a pat on the head.
Now he’s following them around, doing what they tell him to do, like a mangy dog.
Thankfully, the people of Wisconsin want something better.
There are many days when I come across articles or bits of info that I think are worth posting but I just don’t have the energy because of, well, pure and simple: outrage overload. So I guess my new thing is going to be, at the end of such a day, to put up a post and let you all decide what you think is important; what you want to take a look at.
So, here are my outrage overload links for today:
●●● Where governments get their surveillance technology (I’m thinking boycotts here).
●●● A slide show: Suppressing Nonviolent Dissent — An anthology of police brutality at encampments across America. Check out this tank used by police in Tampa:
What happened to “protect and serve?”
●●● Journalist Suspended from National Press Club for Aggressive Questioning of Saudi Royal. That should read: Journalist suspended for being a real journalist and for not kissing Saudi royal’s ass.
●●● Michelle Obama Booed at NASCAR Race. I’m waiting for every single Republican who said we should respect the office of the presidency “during times of war” to scream bloody murder about this. So far? Crickets.
●●● The never-to-be-missed Glenn Greenwald: The Roots of the UC-Davis Pepper Spraying. (Not the best title.) He talks about the right — on paper, as in the Constitution — of American to freedom of speech and a right to assembly but how that is rather quickly being quashed by our authoritarian government:
The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.
Pervasive police abuses and intimidation tactics applied to peaceful protesters — pepper-spray, assault rifles, tasers, tear gas and the rest — not only harm their victims but also the relationship of the citizenry to the government and the set of core political rights. Implanting fear of authorities in the heart of the citizenry is a far more effective means of tyranny than overtly denying rights.
●●● Quote of the day: From Greenwald’s piece, immediately above:
Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.
– Rosa Luxemburg.
●●● Reminds me of Martin Luther King, Jr’s:
A riot is the language of the unheard.
Bill Moyers tells it like it is, as he always does.
October 25, 2011:
“Barack Obama criticizes bankers as ‘fat cats’, then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant…. The President has raised more money from banks, hedge funds, and private equity managers than any Republican candidate, including Mitt Romney. Let’s name it for what it is… Our politicians are little more than money launderers in the trafficking of power and policy – fewer than six degrees of separation from the spirit and tactics of Tony Soprano. Why New York’s Zuccotti Park is occupied is no mystery. Reporters keep scratching their heads and asking: ‘Why are you here?’ But it’s as clear as the crash of 2008. They are occupying Wall Street because Wall Street has occupied America.”
He is one of the few people in the US who can make so much so clear in so few words.
See the video here.
This would be Herman Cain before he was a presidential candidate who talked about hating big government:
Herman Cain (born December 13, 1945) is an American business executive, syndicated columnist, and radio host from Georgia. He is the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and served as chairman and deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Before his business career he worked as a mathematician in ballistics as a civilian employee of the United States Navy.
He lived on the dole as an employee of the United States Navy and — big time — as a member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City for God’s sake.
Yep. “Big government” is a very bad thing.
This is the United States of America tonight (@10:41 pm ET):
Follow JoshuaHol here.
So, Senate Republicans and Democrats have finally found something they can agree on — coddling the energy industry, polluting our air and giving us cancer:
Five Republican and five Democratic senators, mostly from coal-rich states, introduced a bill that largely mirrors recently passed House legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating disposal of coal ash for the first time.
The bill, whose main sponsor is Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., would block the EPA rule and instead let the states regulate the ash like municipal solid waste. Last week the House passed a highly similar bill fronted by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.
The EPA has proposed to classify coal ash under federal hazardous-waste management law, or let states regulate it as a non-hazardous waste. The proposed rule comes in the wake of coal-ash facility spills, including one in Kingston, Tenn., in 2008 in which 1 billion gallons of ash-containing liquid flooded the nearby area.
For more on the horrors of coal ash, watch this, posted by Tennessee Riverkeeper:
This would be our Tweet of the Day re NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who’s worth an estimated 18.1 BILLION.
$18+ Billion. That’s with a B.
I’m off tomorrow, volunteering at my local food bank. When I’m there, I think about how the people who come through would love to have an extra $30 much less $18 billion.
The disparity in this country is Un. Real.
H/t to #OWS for their work.
According to 2009 data, Niles, Michigan has a population of 11,272 and a media income of $29,601.
That said, this happened in little ol’ Niles yesterday:
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement that is gaining steam across the country came to Niles Wednesday when a group of more than 100 people rallied in front of Niles City Hall.
The protest, dubbed “Occupy Niles,” is out of the same vein as a series of protests that started last month in New York City and are popping up in cities across the nation against economic inequality.
Cars honked driving past the rally on Main Street, as the protestors chanted “tax the greedy to feed the needy” and “we are the 99 percent,” referencing their belief that the wealthiest 1 percent of the country thrive while the working class struggles.
Many protestors discussed rampant unemployment and the widening gap between rich and poor in the country.
They held signs, reading “Greed kills,” “Corporate welfare has to go,” and “Want your grandpa working till he dies?” There was even a man playing a djembe drum.
Event organizer Matthew Rosenhagen, a Niles resident and disabled war veteran, said he felt the need to bring the “occupy movement” to Berrien County.
“In Michigan, more than anywhere, we have loss of manufacturing, loss of jobs, and I just want to show that Berrien County is hit as hard as anybody,” he said. “It just shows that everyone, no matter what political party you are, is fed up with political gridlock. We’re looking for jobs and economic equality.”
Having “more than 100″ people protesting on a weekday in a tiny town in Michigan speaks to the power of the Occupy movement.
If you have money in the stock market, consider this:
In a scary and painfully frank interview a freaked out BBC interviewer is visibly shaken when market trader Alessio Rastani predicts that the “Market is Toast.” Apparently there is nothing Euro governments can do.
Update: If you are on Facebook Alessio is commenting further. This may be one of the most important debates on Net at the moment! http://www.facebook.com/alessiorastani
April, 2009: Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill): “Frankly [the banks] Own the Place.”
Yes we can! turns into the-corporatocracy-and-the-GOP-have-me-by-the-balls-so-no-we-can’t-because-I’m-scared-of-them:
I just created a new category: Obama: Don’t Count on my Vote
Check out this must see video clip from CSPAN of a man (the guy in glasses to the left of center) walking past Texas Governor Rick Perry and saying: “Bank of America. We’ll help you out.”
Amazing to see something that happens all the time caught on tape.