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Archive for August 14th, 2014

Limbaugh: Williams Suicide Due to ‘Leftist World View’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Limbaugh: Williams Suicide Due to ‘Leftist World View’
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh argued Tuesday that Robin Williams committed suicide because of his “leftist world view.” “[Liberals] are animated in large part by the false promises of America, because the promises of America are not for everyone,” he said. “He had it all, but he had nothing. Made everybody else laugh, but was miserable inside. It fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has.”

Russia Angers Japan with Island Exercises
Japan “strongly protested” on Wednesday exercises by the Russian military on Pacific islands that have been at the root of strained relations between the countries since the end of World War II. The exercises on the disputed islands are a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to court resource-rich Russia and keep the door open to dialogue, despite the Ukraine crisis. The islands are known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. Russia seized them in the waning days of World War II. “Carrying out this sort of exercises in the Northern Territories is totally unacceptable,” Abe told reporters.


Museums team up to digitize Warhol films

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Museums team up to digitize Warhol films
NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds of films by Andy Warhol will be digitized and made available for public screening under a museum partnership.

It’s a jungle out there: Animals in campaign ads
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a jungle out there in campaign television advertising.


Hundreds of thousands of Obamacare consumers risk losing coverage

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Hundreds of thousands of Obamacare consumers risk losing coverage
The government is sending final notices to consumers who have yet to resolve questions about their citizenship or immigration status


Fox Hosts Claim Obama Inflamed Tensions In Missouri Protests

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Fox Hosts Claim Obama Inflamed Tensions In Missouri Protests

President Obama called for healing and police restraint amid protests following the death of a teenager killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In response, Fox News hosts baselessly accused Obama of inflaming racial tensions and stoking discord by speaking out on the issue.

President Obama Addresses Violence And Excessive Police Force In Ferguson

President Obama Issues Statement Expressing Condolences To Brown Family And Called For Healing In The Community. In an August 12 statement, President Obama expressed condolences to Brown’s family and urged the community to “comfort each other … in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”:

The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve. [Whitehouse.gov, 8/12/14]

President Obama Denounces Violent Protests And Excessive Police Force In Ferguson, Missouri. During an August 14 statement, Obama addressed the violence in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of Michael Brown and reports of excessive police force in response to the protests:

There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.

I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

So now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens. [Whitehouse.gov, 8/14/14]

Fox Hosts Claim Obama’s Comments Inflame Racial Tensions In Ferguson

Fox’s Ingraham: Obama’s Ferguson Statement Is Latest In Series Of “Interjections [That] Have Stoked Racial Discord In America.” Fox contributor Laura Ingraham, guest hosting The O’Reilly Factor, stated that Obama’s statement is the latest of a long pattern of “Obama administration interjections [that] have stoked racial discord in America” and increased mistrust between minorities and law enforcement. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/14/14]

Fox’s Tantaros: “The President Only Inflamed The Situation” In Ferguson. The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros ignored Obama’s call for peace, instead claiming that Obama’s comments “only inflamed the situation” and stating that he should have urged the protesters to “stop the rioting”:

TANTAROS: I am shocked that the president would get involved in this at this point. I mean, I’m not surprised, because he’s stuck his nose into other local issues. But to Greg’s point, there’s the right, there’s the middle, and then there’s the left side of this, but then there’s also the people who aren’t there, and that’s most of us. And that’s what the chief of police tried to come out and say. He’s like, look, the president is not helping the situation out by making comments from the Vineyard today. I mean, did he get his updates yesterday in between doing the Macarena at the party he was at? … I just feel like it didn’t help.

And Dana is absolutely right, the president would have been perfect in pitch with his remarks, but instead his comment about excessive force by the police – the police that have resisted using excessive force on Sunday night, they backed off on Sunday night, and it only got worse – to me, the president only inflamed the situation. He should have said, the reason we can’t have this investigation is because we have been too focused on the rioting, stop the rioting, and called for peace. But he didn’t do that. [Fox News, The Five, 8/14/14]


Where Have all the Entrepreneurs Gone (cont.)?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Where Have all the Entrepreneurs Gone (cont.)?
Robert Samuelson, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — American businesses are aging, I wrote last week, and a sharp decline in startup companies is a big reason. As the share of young firms shrinks, the surviving companies are naturally older — and this may have huge ramifications for the economy. Established companies may create fewer jobs and innovations than do young businesses. So, what’s happened to America’s vaunted entrepreneurs? The experts I contacted last week had a uniform answer: no one knows. When you write “no one knows,” someone inevitably pops up claiming to know. I shouldn’t have been surprised a few days later to…

Obama: The Iraq ‘Bug Out’ Was Not My Idea
Larry Elder, RealClearPolitics
After our ill-advised complete withdraw from Iraq in 2011, President Barack Obama now sends hundreds of “advisors” and orders airstrikes. Let’s re-visit. When, in 2002, then-Illinois State Sen. Obama gave his famous anti-Iraq War speech, he argued that America had no business in this “dumb” war. Period. Obama considered Iraq a blunder of epic proportions, a misadventure totally devoid of any national security interest. Obama never doubted the assumption given to then-President George W. Bush by all 16 of our intelligence agencies: that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of WMD, specifically…

The Crisis of American Exceptionalism
Marc Dunkelman, RealClearPolitics
Beneath the barrage of depressing headlines in the nation’s newspapers today lurks a more ominous question: is America in decline? In a recent Time magazine poll, more than 80 percent of Americans expressed a belief that the last several years had seen the United States take a step back. The oft-repeated promise of the American Dream—that the future will be better than the past, and that the next generation will have it better than those who came before—now seems increasingly far-fetched. It’s not difficult to understand why. As one analyst recently pointed out, not…

Neil deGrasse Tyson Is a Nice Man
Froma Harrop, RealClearPolitics
When I first encountered Neil deGrasse Tyson, I thought, “What a nice man.” He was on the TV screens at New York’s Hayden Planetarium, where he’s director, urging us to behold the wonder of — to use the biblical term — the heavens. That impression only grew on seeing his television show, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.” Here he bursts with elation over the great scientific breakthroughs, guiding us into the subject with the kindly enthusiasm of the gifted teacher. So imagine my surprise to learn that Tyson has become the object of not just mild disapproval but loathing on the political…


NHS rights call for private patients

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

NHS rights call for private patients
Calls are made for private healthcare patients in Wales to have the same rights as those on the NHS.

Lib Dems vow tax-free allowance rise
A rise in the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 during the next Parliament is proposed by the Liberal Democrats.

Minister’s ‘no’ to fracking change
Scotland’s energy minister opposes plans to make it easier for fracking companies to drill beneath residential areas.


An Exit Strategy for Ferguson

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

An Exit Strategy for Ferguson
Whoever, except in cases and undercircumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or im-prisoned not more than two years, or both. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1385

This is the Posse Comitatus Act.

Things have changed since 1878, the year this law was enacted by Congress. Given what just happened in Ferguson, MO where street battles erupted after the police shooting of an unarmed teenager–we should be asking ourselves, how does this law apply to our nation today? Even more, our president and Congress need to come up with a modern version of this legislation, perhaps replace it altogether. The headlines and photos from Ferguson demonstrate this urgent challenge. The Ferguson police are not military troops, but they have the same equipment as the Army did in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have transferred billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local US law enforcement in recent years with inadequate oversight or discussion. This should make every American step back and take notice. Our democratic principles are at stake.

Posse Comitatus was passed during America’s westward expansion in order to prevent military forces from being conscripted into local law enforcement without explicit presidential or congressional permission. The National Guard and the Coast Guard are excepted.

For decades, we’ve needed new thinking about the division of labor between civilians and the military in our policies, both domestic and international. These conversations have happened for American military activities overseas. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the military services have created rules of engagement for warzones inside cities, among civilian populations and for disaster response in places like Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The acronym to describe this change started out as “military missions other than war” (MMOTW) and is now called some hybrid of peacekeeping (PK) Stability and Support Operations (SASO) or Counter insurgency (COIN). Prevention and de-escalation of violence is included in these new rules.

We need a similar pattern of creative thinking about the use of force here at home. Posse Comitatus itself has been amended over the past decade–mostly to allow active duty troops to respond in case of chemical, biological or radiological emergency. The biggest problem we face is the lack of oversight and deliberation by elected leaders in Congress. We need specifics. We need dialogue about different scenarios. Maybe Ferguson will change the current lackadaisical approach on Capitol Hill. If you feel like doing something, check out these maps to see if you live in a powerful district. Look at the Armed Services, Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. Members are home in their districts until September 8th. Go see them.

Tell your reps that you support a comprehensive re-authorization or replacement of Posse Comitatus. The Ferguson circumstances don’t fit into an 1870’s framework, but neither do they exactly match the 1960s (civil rights) or even the 1990’s for that matter (Los Angeles riots). From DC, the street fight in Ferguson looks like an angry overreaction that got retaliatory and out of control. We definitely need to look at how it happened and redress it. (Hat tip to Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson’s new military surplus regulation effort)

But we also need to pay attention to shifting threats and appropriate responses. The world is getting more volatile, after all. From climate disruption to terrorism, threats don’t respect boundaries anymore. The people with the power to make laws should take a fresh look at strategies for keeping domestic peace in a world of distributed access to lethal means. If we ever want to have a truly inclusive society, non-violence must be the priority.

The larger context is also important, DHS recently issued a policy brief that addresses live shooters and IEDs. Every policy shop in DC is rushing to define the word “resilience” now that the Defense Department is touting it. These wonkathons are usually about crisis response. But the resulting policy needs to be about decision making capacity. In Congress, this capacity is the leadership skill and institutional expertise to write a law to replace Posse Comitatus. In Ferguson, this capacity is the ability for police to de-escalate in the face of provocation. “Reslience” is ultimately a declaration about first principles–how we invest in ourselves and the strengths we demonstrate to the world. In today’s world, strength is less about force and more about the ability to influence positive change.

It’s pretty basic. Belief in the supremacy of civilian control over the armed forces is the cornerstone of American democracy. The institutional failure evident in Ferguson, MO is a sign of civilian dereliction. For an issue so important, Congress and the Executive Branch must initiate a process to modernize or scrap Posse Comitatus. The military itself knows that force is often counter-productive. The civilians need to step up. If we keep going down this path, the trade-offs will fundamentally change our democracy. We’ve come up against this problem in the past and we got through it okay. We can do it again.


Sinosphere Blog: More Churches Lose Their Crosses Despite Protests

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Sinosphere Blog: More Churches Lose Their Crosses Despite Protests
The police have cut down the cross from atop Salvation Church in Wenzhou, witnesses say, ending a weekslong standoff with parishioners.



Open Source: Advice for Ferguson’s Protesters From the Middle East
Activists in the Middle East responded to the situation in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson by offering online tips to protesters.



Russian Convoy Draws Stern Warning From Ukraine and Stops Short of Border
The convoy of around 260 trucks came within miles of the Ukrainian border on Thursday but was diverted to a Russian military base near Kamensk-Shakhtinsky.




Diesel Used To Frack Oil And Gas Wells Without Permit, Report Finds

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Diesel Used To Frack Oil And Gas Wells Without Permit, Report Finds

A new report has found that since 2010 fossil fuel companies have used more than 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel across the country to frack for oil and gas without obtaining the required federal permits.

The post Diesel Used To Frack Oil And Gas Wells Without Permit, Report Finds appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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CREDIT: flickr/ Public Herald

A new report has found that since 2010 fossil fuel companies have used more than 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel across the country to frack for oil and gas without obtaining the required federal permits. The report, called, “Fracking Beyond The Law,” by the Environmental Integrity Project, a D.C. nonprofit established by environmental attorneys, found that at least 33 companies fracked at least 351 wells across 12 states with fluids containing diesel.

The passing of the 2005 Energy Policy Act by Congress established what is commonly known as the “Halliburton Loophole” in which the EPA was stripped of its authority to regulate a number of fracking fluids that could reveal the companies’ trade secrets. However diesel fuels, which contain high levels of benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, or xylene — known carcinogens and neurotoxins — remain under the jurisdiction of the EPA as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The industry has repeatedly asserted the the use of diesel fuel in fracking no longer occurs and those denials continued along with the release of this report.

The industry groups say that companies are phasing out diesel, which as of earlier this year was used in around two percent of wells, and that companies were using kerosene, which wasn’t listed as a diesel fuel until February. The industry group Energy in Depth also pointed out that the 351 wells the project cited as using diesel make up less than 0.5 percent of the 77,000 wells registered on FracFocus.

The EIP investigation asserts that the 351 wells they found using diesel is likely an underestimate as some oil and gas companies have been changing their FracFocus disclosures to remove indication of past diesel injections. FracFocus is a voluntary submission site that companies have agreed to use and which allows operators to update or replace previous disclosures without justification. EIP planned to release its report June 19 identifying 497 wells that used diesel, but when they double-checked their results they discovered 146 of the FracFocus entries had been altered to eliminate all references to diesel.

For example, in the past few days Bill Barrett Corp., operator of Peter’s Point well in Utah, changed their FracFocus database entry from indicating they used 496 gallons of diesel to saying that that entry was an error that had been corrected. A spokesman said that “a small percentage of one additive used kerosene, not diesel.”

Since updating its policy for clarification in February the EPA has clearly stated the kerosene counts as diesel when it comes to requiring a permit under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released information in July indicating that the practice of fracking damaged public water supplies 209 times since the end of 2007. Diesel fuels were used to frack wells in Texas, Colorado, North Dakota, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Kansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Montana without required Safe Drinking Water Act permits according to the report.

“EPA and the states have an obligation to protect the public from the potential health hazards of fracking by enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said report author Mary Greene, Managing Attorney for EIP and a former EPA enforcement attorney.

EIP researchers also discovered numerous fracking fluids with high diesel content for sale online, including over a dozen products sold by Halliburton and advertised as additives, friction reducers, and emulsifiers. According to EPA’s February 2014 guidance, injection of any of these products requires a Safe Drinking Water Act permit.

“If ‘diesel fuel use has already been effectively phased out of hydraulic fracturing operations,’ as an industry representative stated as recently as February 2014, then why are these products still for sale?” states the report.

The post Diesel Used To Frack Oil And Gas Wells Without Permit, Report Finds appeared first on ThinkProgress.


The Constitutional Crisis in Ferguson, Missouri

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Constitutional Crisis in Ferguson, Missouri
From: John Nichols

The shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager is followed by crackdowns on dissent and arrests of journalists.

Reporter Arrested in Ferguson Rips Joe Scarborough for ‘Running His Mouth’
From: Leslie Savan

Famous TV host says reporters who don’t obey cops fast enough just want TV fame.

How the White House Tapes Sunk Nixon’s Presidency
From: Jon Wiener

In his new book, John Dean finally offers definitive answers to the questions “What did he know, and when did he know it?”
 

Tell President Obama: Stop Corporate Deserters
From: Take Action

Thanks to corporate inversions, many highly profitable companies are stiffing the United States government of billions of dollars that could be used to fund vital social programs. Tell President Obama to stop corporate deserters.