Saturday, April 19, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
By: David Turnbull, April 18, 2014
The State Department announced a delay in their Keystone XL review process today, as they wade through 2.5 million public comments, as well as work to get a handle on the fact that thanks to a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling, there is currently no legal route through Nebraska.
This announcement is a good thing, from a climate perspective. Every day that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline remains unbuilt is a day that it is not pumping hundreds of thousands of barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet through our heartland to be shipped abroad. That’s a good thing, to be sure.
But what would be even better is if this project was rejected once and for all. Such a decision would show our future won’t be dictated by Big Oil’s bullying, and would reflect a true understanding that we must move quickly in a new direction if we are to avert a true climate catastrophe.
You can read our full response here… But it’s also easily summed up by this graphic:
Of course, some members of Congress were quick to respond as well… and their responses may as well have been scripted by the oil industry itself.
Senator Mary Landrieu, possibly Big Oil’s favorite Democrat, was quick out of the gate, vowing to take ”decisive action” to circumvent the legal process and push approval of the pipeline as Chair of the Senate’s Energy Committee. Of course, this should come as no surprise given the $1.1 million in campaign contributions she has received from the oil industry.
Not to be outdone, the leaders of the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate both quickly put out statements as well…Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cited inflated oil industry jobs claims while Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner repeated the industry’s oft-refuted claim that the pipeline would help with the Ukraine crisis. Rep. Boehner’s Big Oil campaign receipts? Over $1 million. Sen. McConnell’s? Over $1.2 million from the oil industry alone.
In the Senate, statements from other usual suspects swimming in Big Oil cash joined Senators McConnell and Landrieu’s pro-Keystone XL statements:
- Senator John Thune (R-SD) : $650,000 in Big Oil cash
- Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND): Over $100,000 from Big Oil IN ONE ELECTION CYCLE. In North Dakota, no less.
- Senator John Hoeven (R-ND): $285,000 in oil money, also in sparsely populated North Dakota.
- Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): $750,000 in Big Oil cash
And finally, TransCanada’s biggest cheerleader, Nebraska Representative Lee
Terry continued his defense of Big Oil at the expense of his constituents. It seems he’s chosen to listen to the $560,000 in Dirty Energy Money over the voices Nebraskans across the state calling for rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.
All told, members of Congress defending the Keystone XL pipeline today account for over $4 million in Big Oil campaign contributions. It’s no wonder they continue to parrot the industry’s talking points.
Today’s announcement by the Obama administration to delay the review
process was spurred by the fact that the route through Nebraska remains
in question. That reality makes next week’s Reject and Protect
encampment in Washington, DC all the more timely. Throughout the coming
week, Native Americans from along the proposed pipeline route will be
riding side-by-side with ranchers, farmers, and landowners from the
Heartland to call, once again, for the complete and final rejection of
the Keystone XL pipeline.
The question remains: Will Secretary Kerry and President Obama choose
to bow to the demands of the oil industry as too many members of
Congress have done? Or will they listen to the actual constituents they
are meant to represent who are demanding loud and clear that their lands
and climate be protected from this dirty tar sands disaster?
Originally posted at Oil Change International: http://priceofoil.org/2014/04/18/keystone-xl-announcement-met-oily-response/
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
School Officials Bully Student into Deleting Recording of Bullying, Threaten him with Felony Wiretapping!
A high school sophomore in Pennsylvania who had been bullied all year by classmates with no help from his teacher decided to audio record the bullying on his iPad as evidence.
But instead of disciplining the bullies, school officials called police on him, threatening to have him arrested for felony wiretapping.
By the time the cops arrived at South Fayette High School in McDonald, school administrators had already forced the 15-year-old boy to delete the audio clip.
So police charged him with disorderly conduct instead, a charge he was convicted of last month.
Meanwhile, the bullies and the teacher who allowed the bullying – not to mention the administrators who intimidated him into deleting the audio – have yet to be disciplined.
Here's hoping karma catches up to all of them, including Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, who convicted the child because, she said, he went to the "extreme" of recording the bullying rather than "let the school handle it."
But the boy's mother, Shea Love, had transcribed the recording the night before he took it to the principal, indicating the school's way of handling it was simply to ignore it.
According to Ben Swann:
The student and his mother, Shea Love, testified before the magistrate that the boy has been repeatedly shoved and tripped at school, and that a fellow student had even attempted to burn him with a cigarette lighter. The defendant is, according to school records, a well-behaved student with no history of disciplinary action. He was, however, previously diagnosed with a comprehension delay disorder, which is a slower processing speed for information than is normal, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder. He says the bullying treatment is especially harsh and academically disruptive during his special education math class, in which students with behavioral problems are also placed. Last month, after doing research on several anti-bullying websites, he used his school approved personal iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of his classroom experience. He played the recording at home for his mother. Outraged, Love, a former Air Force Morse code operator, transcribed the audio before calling school administrators.
According to Love, as the teacher is heard attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, "You should pull his pants down!" Another student replies, "No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t)." As the recording continues, the teacher instructs the classroom that they may only talk if it pertains to math. Shortly thereafter, a loud noise is heard on the recording, which her son explained was a book being slammed down next to him after a student pretended to hit him in the head with it. When the teacher yells, the student exclaims, "What? I was just trying to scare him!" A group of boys are heard laughing.
Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of Associate Principal Aaron Skrbin and Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. The defendant testified before Judge McGraw-Desmet that he was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. Love says by the time she arrived at the school, her son was surrounded by school officials and the police officer and was visibly distraught. She says
Principal Milburn advised her that her son was "facing felony wiretapping charges" because he made a recording in a place with an expectation of privacy, and that Officer Kurta agreed. Milburn defended the teacher's response to the classroom disturbance.
The following is Judge McGraw-Desmet's full, almost incoherent, statement:
"Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it's not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know. To go to this extreme, you know, it was the only alternative or something like that, but you weren't made aware of that and that was kind of what I was curious about. Because it's not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me."
You wonder who would elect such a judge?
The judge herself admitted to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2009 she won because her mother sat on the bench for decades before retiring.
McGraw-Desmet conceded that name recognition helped her win 37 percent of the 2,536 votes cast in the Democratic primary last month and 30 percent of the 1,337 votes in the Republican primary. . . . "Undoubtedly, my mother's good reputation as district judge went a long way toward helping me win."
So it's obvious the judge is part of the establishment in this sparsely populated region of the state, which is why she would never take a stand for justice if it means embarrassing her peers.
For all it's worth, here is a site where you leave a review for the judge. The number to the courthouse is (412) 221-3353. And the address is: 295 Millers Run Road, Bridgeville, PA 15017 phone: 412-221-3353 & fax: 412-221-0908
Principal Scott Milburn, who ordered the deletion of the audio and should be criminally charged with tampering with evidence, can be reached at (412) 221-4542 extension 265. Or email him at email@example.com.
Contact the South Fayette Township Police Department, who charged the kid with disorderly conduct, at (412) 279-6911.
Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.
Hilarious SWA flight attendant....wants to meet Ellen & Jimmy Fallon!!
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
By Glenn Greenwald
Over the last 40 years, the U.S. government
every time an unwanted whistleblower steps forward, we are treated to
the same messaging: You’re all going to die because of these leakers and the journalists who publish their disclosures! Lest you think that’s hyperbole, consider this headline from last week based on an interview with outgoing NSA chief Keith Alexander:
The NSA engages in this fear-mongering not only publicly but also
privately. As part of its efforts to persuade news organizations not to
publish newsworthy stories from Snowden materials, its representatives
constantly say the same thing: If you publish what we’re doing, it
will endanger lives, including NSA personnel, by making people angry
about what we’re doing in their countries and want to attack us.
But whenever it suits the agency to do so–meaning when it wants to propagandize on its own behalf–the NSA casually discloses even its most top secret activities in the very countries where such retaliation is most likely. Anonymous ex-officials boasted to the Washington Post last July in detail about the role the agency plays in helping kill people by drones. The Post dutifully headlined its story: “NSA Growth Fueled by Need to Target Terrorists.”
And now, Keith Alexander’s long-time deputy just fed one of the most pro-NSA reporters in the country, the Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Dilanian, some extraordinarily sensitive, top secret information about NSA activities in Iraq, which the Times published in an article that reads exactly like an NSA commercial:
FT. MEADE, Md. — In nearly nine years as head of theJohn “Chris” Inglis just revealed to the world that the NSA was–is?–intercepting every single email, text message, and phone-location signal in real time for the entire country of Iraq. Obviously, the fact that the NSA has this
nation’s largest intelligence agency, Gen. Keith Alexander presided over a vast expansion of digital spying, acquiring information in a volume his predecessors would have found unimaginable.
In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from
intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John “Chris” Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA’s top civilian.
The overhaul, which Alexander ordered shortly after taking leadership
of the agency in August 2005, enabled U.S. ground commanders to find out when an insurgent leader had turned on his cellphone, where he was and whom he was calling.
“Absolutely invaluable,” retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former
U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview as he described the NSA’s efforts, which led to the dismantling of networks devoted to burying roadside bombs.
capability, and used it, is Top Secret. What authority did Chris Inglis
have to disclose this? Should a Department of Justice leak investigation
be commenced? The Post, last July, described Alexander’s “collect-it-all” mission in Iraq which then morphed into his approach on U.S. soil (“For NSA chief, terrorist threat drives passion to ‘collect it all,’ observers say”), but did not
confirm the full-scale collection capabilities the NSA had actually developed.
What makes this morning’s disclosure most remarkable is what happened with last week’s Washington Post report on the MYSTIC program, which, said the Post, provides “comprehensive metadata access and content” for entire countries where it is used. The agency “has built a surveillance system capable of recording ’100 percent’ of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling
the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after
they take place,” reported the Post.
The program, noted the Post, has been in use in one country since 2011, and “planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.” Specifically, the fiscal year 2013 intelligence budget identified ”five more countries” in which the agency planned to implement the system.
The Post did not report the names of any of those five countries, nor did it name the one where MYSTIC is already operational. Instead, “at the request of U.S. officials, the Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.” The paper posted a short excerpt from
the budget document’s discussion of MYSTIC but withheld and redacted
the passages that revealed the names of these countries.
A primary argument NSA typically makes in such cases is that disclosure would endanger the lives of NSA personnel by inviting retaliation from people in those countries who might become angry when learning that their calls are being intercepted en masse. From the Post article: ”NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, in an e-mailed statement, said that ‘continuous and selective reporting of specific techniques and tools used for legitimate U.S. foreign intelligence activities is highly detrimental to the national security of the United States and of our allies, and places at risk those we are sworn to protect.’”
Leave aside how corrupted this rationale is: It would mean that no bad acts of the U.S. government should ever be reported, lest those disclosures make people angry and want to attack government agents. Indeed, that is the rationale that the Obama administration used to protect evidence of Bush-era torture from disclosure (to disclose torture photos, Obama said, “would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger”).
What is so extraordinary is that the NSA–at exactly the same time it is telling news organizations that disclosing its collect-it-all activities will endanger its personnel–runs to its favorite L.A. Times reporter and does exactly that, for no reason other than to make itself look good and to justify these activities. (“‘Absolutely invaluable,’ retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former U.S. commander in Iraq, said.”)
This demonstrates how brazenly the NSA manipulates and exploits the consultation process in which media outlets are forced (mostly by legal considerations) to engage prior to publication of Top Secret documents: They’ll claim with no evidence that a story they don’t want published will “endanger lives,” but then go and disclose something even more sensitive if they think doing so scores them a propaganda coup. It also highlights how cynical and frivolous are their claims that whistleblowers and journalists Endanger National Security™ by reporting incriminating information about their activities which they have hidden, given how casually and frequently they disclose Top Secret information for no reason other than to advance their own PR interests. It’s the
dynamic whereby the same administration that has prosecuted more leakers
than all prior administrations combined freely leaks classified information to make Obama look tough or to help produce a pre-election hagiography film.
Thus, writes the L.A. Times:
Thanks to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, the world came to know many of the agency’s most carefully guarded secrets.Actually, in this case, the NSA’s “most carefully guarded secrets” were spilled thanks to Chris Inglis and the paper’s own Ken Dilanian. But because the purpose was to serve the NSA’s interests and to propagandize the public, none of the people who pretend to object to leaks–when they shine light on the bad acts of the most powerful officials–will utter a peep of protest. That’s because, as always, secrecy designations and condemnations of leaks are about shielding
those officials from scrutiny and embarrassment, not any legitimate considerations of national security or any of the other ostensible purposes.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy. Watch new episodes Sundays at 10PM ET/PT, only on SHOWTIME.
Subscribe to the Years of Living Dangerously channel for more: http://s.sho.com/YearsYouTube
Official site: http://www.sho.com/yearsoflivingdangerously
The Years Project: http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/
Watch on Showtime Anytime: http://s.sho.com/1hoirn4
Don't Have Showtime?
Order Now: http://s.sho.com/P0DCVU
It's the biggest story of our time. Hollywood's brightest stars and today's most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Justice Dept. report jibes Albuquerque police for pattern of excessive force!
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
- Yahoo Finance
housing and health care; and labor market conditions for older workers.
No state ranks in the top group of states on all eight scorecard variables. The data underlying the scorecard indicate key areas of trouble that affect most or all states. For instance, the highest ranking state for workplace retirement plan participation in 2012 (Iowa) had only 54% of private employees participating in a pension or 401(k).
In addition, the number of states with more than 30% of older households experiencing a housing cost burden increased from 14 to 31
from the year 2000 to 2012. These are the 10 states that score highest
on the financial security scorecard for retirees:
Tax rate on retirement income: 3.1%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,887
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $19,183
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $40,719
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 34.2%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 49.7%
9. New Hampshire -
Tax rate on retirement income: 0%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,754
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $21,127
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $26,285
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 41.7%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 51.1%
8. Washington -
Tax rate on retirement income: 0%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,613
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $14,147
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $35,344
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 37.7%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 47.8%
7. South Dakota -
Tax rate on retirement income: 0%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,702
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $13,557
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $36,326
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 27.1%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 47.9%
6. Iowa -
Tax rate on retirement income: 5%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,672
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $18,625
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $31,762
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 25.8%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 54.1%
5. West Virginia -
Tax rate on retirement income: 6.2%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,728
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $17,722
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $35,178
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 20.1%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 51.9%
4. Minnesota -
Tax rate on retirement income: 7.9%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1,477
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $24,455
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $38,492
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 34.1%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 53.6%
3. North Dakota -
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $27,686
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $26,180
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 26%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 52.1%
2. Alaska -
Tax rate on retirement income: 0%
Average Medicare, out of pocket: $1614
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $26,001
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $32,582
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 32.9%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 49%
1. Wyoming -
Average Medicaid spending, eligible seniors: $27,781
Average retirement account balance (excludes pensions): $33,552
Percent of senior households who spend more than 30% on housing: 23.4%
Percent of private sector employees in employer-sponsored retirement plan: 48.8%
There you go...Wyoming isn't perfect, but it is one beautiful state, with all it's flora, fauna and scenery! And a great place to live, and I'm speaking from almost 25 years of living here.