Sunday, July 24, 2016

PNN - the RNC - Lunar Observations




PNN TONIGHT:
The RNC REVIEW 7/24

1. Ruddy Rudy - danger danger Will Robinson - beset on every side ?

2. Melannia's Melancholia and  Melodious Musings:  Accidental? Strategic? Innocent? Or Merely Similar letters used?

3. Rules committee gelds #NeverTrump faction - chair rules retreats and fades away...

4. the Trump dynasty on parade, well spoken & as yet unindicted?

5. Lil Rubio, phones it in

6. Young Ms Trump mentions "Women's Pay Equity, and Childcare" thousands of GOPPERS, gasp for cobwebs and graveyard dust!

7. Jebby, Mittsy, Kaisich, W, McCain, Ron Paul, and many others too busy to drop by?

8. Celebrities the true royalty in classless America, spread thin... Duck Dynasty denizen arrives, makes sense and is rewarded with the "DOOR" PRIZE!

9. Republican unity remains a rhetorical snort and hideous terrible bloody scream, and a thumb in the eye to anyone darker than George Hamilton, now reduced to hawking Chicken bits.

10. Different Ministers, including Greek Orthodox & an Imam offer benedictions but even religious diversity is thin soup for the nativists and America firsters.

11. Peter Theil brings in Silicon Valley metallic voice and proud LGBTQ PRIDE the podium receives an extensive exorcism afterward.

12. Calls to FREE American Enterprise from the heavy hand of REGULATION requiring safe foods and medicines ... And let us in this new day, allow AMERICAN COMMERCE to pollute like they used to in backwater (black water) CHINA
- then mi BOYO - you'll see some profits (pollution)

13. Teddy boy "Missile" Cruz congratulates but does NOT endorse ( thanks NY delegation for their enthusiasm ) but the "boos" have it whether purchased or "innocently spontaneous" operatives scurry, like hand painted cockroaches throughout the Cancerous Cavalcade. Many pundits notice.

14. DebDeb drops by ? Like a a mcDonalds burger of Roadkill,  on the thanksgiving sideboard.

15. WikiLeaks applies a timely cold compress to backstage jimmying of the primary vote? Corporate Media doesn't hear a thing. (LAH-LAH-LAH- hands over ears)

16. "Jail her" common refrain from Chris Christie? Bill of Indictment or just a menu?
 Hill can expect a litigation rich presidency. Lawyers $alivate in enthusiastic anticipation.

17. Sheriff Joe Arpaio emphasized the importance of joining together to enforce our laws. Looks in vain backstage for a prisoner to mistreat - settles on Chris Christie!


18. Speaker Paul Ryan outlines a GOP agenda, crowd wonders who let in the crypt-dwelling bloodless vegan ?

19. Madame Secretary has a bridge to sell Chris Christie TRAFFIC IS REROUTED

20. Angelita Jolie's dad, offers to argue over a stool, only sells the ambulatory senile?

21. Donald Trump outlined his path to “Make America Grape Again” and a return to a nation that respects law and order or at least TANG!

22. Donny offers to put NATO on a pay as you go basic... The Baltics start studying Russian

23. Donny the T offers to settle Isis's Hash PDQ. (Is overnight fast enough?)

24. T-Man - Blames China for stealing all our factories during the dark of the night, while Americas back was turned. And the guard dog was on vacation.

25. Pense selected as VP, half a heart beat away, promises to pray quietly in the corner and not make a fuss over his hedonistic model toting boss man.

22. Trump threatens to return to C TOWN - Thank you Cleveland. We love you and will be back many times! DJT Cleveland shudders

22. Trump defended his retweeting of a controversial side-by-side image of Melania Trump and Cruz's wife, Heidi, and also defended his linking Cruz's father to John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald based on a National Enquirer Story. FAUX NOOSE SOURCE

23. Ailes under attack for "doing what he's been doing for 1/2 a century"  kills his desk lamp at faux - inbound  Murdock Youngster promise to abandon, their money making/ pandering ways??? Ailes heads to Trump-Town?

24. T-Party darling Senator Jeff Session says: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions,. R-Ala.,called Trump's speech a "powerful address."
"It was a powerful address. It exceeded my expectations," he said.

Sessions also praised Trump's mention of the LGBTQ community:

"He crystalized his clear intention that every community deserves protections."

25. Political Correctness - too expensive for America - DJT

26. "I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that afflicts our nation will soon -- and I mean very soon -- come to an end. Beginning on January 20 of 2017, safety will be restored."

27. From Donny's Acceptance Speech: "After 15 years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent, thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: Death, destruction, terrorism and weakness." - ( accidentally factual millions marvel)


Facts:

Delegates to the Convention: 2,472
Longest Acceptance Speech

Kaine Mutiny of the Corporatists
. Democracy for America, a progressive political action committee founded by Howard Dean, called Kaine’s recent support for different regulatory standards on regional and community banks “disqualifying.”

The Intercept’s Ziad Jilani argued that Kaine’s “measured praise” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership means that “by picking him, Clinton is signaling that her newly declared opposition to the agreement is not sincere ( DUH!)

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/tim-kaine-hillary-vp-pick-middle-of-the-road-214094#ixzz4FIlhsogF


Friday, July 15, 2016

PNN - Rick Neuhoff's Special Report - The Orlando Platform Meeting




Democrats believe that LGBT rights are human rights and that American foreign policy should advance the ability of all persons to live with dignity, security

$15/hr will be in the platform (LISTEN)

Democrats will expand SS so every American can retire with dignity and respect, including those who have been discriminated against in the work place; wo

Alan Grayson's"Give seniors a raise" COLA adjustment will NOT be in the platform... "Democrats will support a fully developed CPI for the elderly" the 2.9%
Seniors Deserve a Raise

A Palestinian male nurse wearing blue surgical scrubs spoke out and continued  speaking out, police calmed him and Nina Turner reassured him, he sat down

Cornel West spoke POWERFULLY for Palestinian Rights 
that Sam Palestinian male nurse started yelling again, joined by a white male and as they left, joined by a Palestinian girl

Education options for low income students. Democrats oppose Charter schools. Higher accountability for Charter schools. Level the playing field for all s

Strengthen AmeriCorps

Native Americans should be represented in the federal government to properly reflect their needs, including senior level position in White House Domestic

Agriculture and Family Farms are the lifeblood of their states. As Dems, we encourage programs to protect and enhance a cherished way of life for million

We will work to build a stronger rural and agricultural economy and to mitigate negative effects of industrial agriculture operations.... Will appear in 

Dems will continue to oppose Republican attempts to cut public health... Unanimously approved 

We will promote best practices among local law enforcement, how the collaborate with federal authorities to better build trust in the communities they serve

LISTEN

Alaska natives and native American Indians will host a White House Tribal Nations Conference annually... Unanimously approved 

Dems support efforts for self governance and self determination of Native Hawaiians. We support proactive actions of the federal government to enhance Native Hawaiian culture, health, language and education.  Unanimously approved 

Arts funding and education... National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and programs providing art and music education... Unanimously approved

Repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy... Unanimously approved

Dems will fight for lower prices on medication. - This will appear in the platform 

We will repeal the excise tax on high cost health insurance and find revenue to offset it - because we need to contain the long term growth of health care

That's a vote against Single Payer

This is the vote against Josh Fox's original Ban Fracking amendment  

Drivers license and in-state college tuition for undocumented DREAMers Will appear in the platform. Unanimously approved 

Then there was an amendment about removing Lead and creating jobs to replace lead pipes which passed unanimously 

Education options for low income students. Democrats oppose Charter schools. Higher accountability for Charter schools. Level the playing field for all students
Every student should be able to go to college debt free and working families should not have to pay any tuition to go to college - higher education is a right 

We support and National Commission on digital security and encryption to bring together technology and public safety communities to address the needs of 

We support and National Commission on digital security and encryption to bring together technology and public safety communities to address the needs of 
law enforcement, protect the privacy and security of all Americans that use text, assess how innovation might point to new policy approaches, and advance

Great, we will bomb Iran and spy on Americans, woo hoo

=  =  =  =  =

[7/15/16, 4:28:03 PM] 

Rick Neuhoff: I was an active participant in the DNC Platform Writing Committee in Orlando and I only expected to be a guest/observer

First, you’ve got to understand that this Platform is built of goals.  

There is nothing binding any candidate to make any of these goals come to fruition.  Having said that, this is the most progressive platform since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  My point here is that even the language that we may not have been able to make stronger is still a thousand times better than anything the GOP train wreck would stick us with.

I just want to say that I am standing with Bernie Sanders and following his lead to continue building our numbers within the Democratic Party so we can gain more and more influence over policy and legislation.  

It’s important to understand the balance within the Platform Writing Committee to understand the outcome.  There were a little over 100 Clinton Supporters and 70 Bernie Supporters, so the only way that any progressive Platform amendment language passed was with votes from Hillary Supporters. It saddens me to say it that way, but the fact is that the Democratic Party is divided, but often finds ways to work together.  See why we need you to get more involved within the Party?

The fact is that Progressives are the true Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, and then there are the centrists whose votes at demonstrate that they are actually the old-style Republicans, the ones Democrats were able to communicate with and get things done with. 

Then you’ve got the GOP Trump train-wreck who are actually extreme right-wing fringe extremists.  So many Republicans have jumped ship and joined the Democratic Party because their party is imploding and now they are in our ranks. 

I also want to say that Hillary is now campaigning to the LEFT of the platform. She is calling for an expansion to Social Security and she is now also campaigning against TPP.  I ask all of you to call your Congressman and tell them NO TPP in the “Lame Duck” because Obama wants TPP.

With that in mind, this is how the Platform Writing Committee meetings went.
Senator Nina Turner’s language calling for $15/hr minimum wage and the right to join a union was accepted.

Language calling to fight every effort to cut or diminish Social Security was adopted.

Language to place Mortgage Loan information in the public domain and take that control away from banks failed.  

Language to expand Social Security failed.  

BUT then a streamlined version of the language focusing on women was adopted.

A version of Alan Grayson’s “Seniors Deserve a Raise” Failed and we were chanting SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.  This is about a Cost Of Living Adjustment for seniors that would be based on the financial needs of seniors instead of being linked to the financial needs of working families. 

 Committee members wearing Patrick Murphy stickers were GIDDY as we chanted SHAME, SHAME, SHAME and watched the vote make this language fail.

I am happy to say that language to close tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires did pass and will appear in the platform.

Language calling for the Federal Reserve to be a fully public institution was adopted after a “roll call vote”.

Language promoting “Build America Bonds” to raise funds, to create jobs, while revitalizing State and Local infrastructure was adopted.

Language acknowledging the CLIMATE EMERGENCY passed and will appear in the platform. Language encouraging State specific financial institutions, failed.

Language supporting the auto industry will appear in the platform. Language defending the Export-Import Bank, aka the “Bank of Boing” did pass.  This language is nothing but corporate welfare.

Language focusing on creating good jobs across America, entrepreneurship and innovation passed and will be in the platform.

Computer Science Education in High School curriculum passed.

Strong language calling for High Speed Broadband, 5G and Transformative Technologies enabling the “internet of things” will be in the platform.  That’s when machines talk to machines.  I’m not making references to the Terminator movies, this is real world tech… smart homes, smart cars, smart power grid.  Sounds great except in placed like Westworld, ever see that movie?  That’s where nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong…

Language to strengthen NASA will be in the platform.  

Language supporting small business and entrepreneurship by cutting red tape passed.  This one sounded like it came right from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

That’s where we stopped for the night, well it was actually 1:40 in the morning.
We started the next day with Jim Hightower’s language against the Trans Pacific Partnership that failed.

The other TPP language, calling to NOT support the TPP during President Obama’s “lame duck” session also failed.

LISTEN

They voted to combine two additional TPP amendments into one and it calls for any trade agreement to protect workers and the environment while easing access to prescription drugs.  The unions all spoke in favor of this, AFSCME, Machinists Union, Teamsters, American Federation of Teachers saying things like “We want FAIR Trade NOT Free Trade”.  Ben Jealous tried adding the phrase “that’s why we oppose the TPP”.  Cornel West added his voice in solidarity with Bernie Sanders and in opposition to TPP.

Chants of SHAME, SHAME, SHAME filled the air when language opposing TPP Failed.  Ben Jealous called for party unity.

Jim Hightower said, “Speak the truth and ride a fast horse”… “Even dummy Trump would kill the TPP” … “TPP will be forever. Future Presidents, future congress cannot undo TPP” then Hightower supporters brought in 36 cartons of petitions against TPP.
When the Hightower amendment failed, a couple dozen walked out in protest along with several Union leaders. Check #Hightower and see the twitter explosion that happened.

Language calling to support stronger criminal laws and stronger criminal penalties to be applied to Wall Street criminals failed and will NOT appear in the platform.
Calling Dodd-Frank “Historic” will appear in the platform.  Language calling to stop Republican efforts to hamstring regulators through budget cuts did pass.
Language for the “Robin Hood Tax” failed.  

That’s Bernie Sanders idea based on legislation he introduced with Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison that would add a surtax on all trades done by hedge funds, investment banks and speculators. Stock trades would be taxed at one half of one percent, bond trades would be taxed at one tenth of one percent and derivatives would be taxed at half on one hundredth of a percent.  Small change that evidently adds up very, very quickly.

Language calling to stand against corporate lobbyists and the Citizens United decision failed.  People were shouting “Corporate Whores!!!” Stronger support calling to End All War News Censorship failed.

Both Hillary and Bernie agreed on language supporting antitrust laws and against consolidation of economic and political power, reinvigorating the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission enforcement of antitrust laws.  Clinton supporters gave Bernie supporters a standing ovation.

Language calling for no one to be able to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by hiding money overseas was passed.

Language ensuring election officials comply with all protections in the Voting Rights Act passed unanimously.

Nancy Jacobson, parliamentarian of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida proposed an amendment against partisan and racial gerrymandering … it failed.

Language to update the Help America Vote Act fund replacement of outdated voting machines passed unanimously and Senator Nina Turner thanked Hillary supporters for participating in the NEW Democratic Party.  The applause was thunderous.

Do you know Nomiki Konst?  She’s a progressive video blogger..
[7/15/16, 4:28:12 PM] Rick Neuhoff: let me run to the bathroom


OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOD… STOP PLEASE… STOP or I’ll TASE!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

PNN - Let Freedom Ring

PNN - Let Freedom Ring
Guests
Florida Senate Candidate for District 17 Amy Tidd, and Dr. Wendy Lynne Lee will discuss our country's birthday and what Freedom means today.

Segment Two:
 Brook Hines our Senior Political Consultant and I will lead a select group of Progressive Journalists in a discussion of News Stories from Florida and around the GLOBE.

The Progressive Journalists on our panel: Gwendolyn Holden Barry, Brian Stetten, Ruthan Amarteifio, and Dr. Wendy Lynne Lee
 
TUNE IN - Live Sunday 7/3/16 - 7pm - or AnyTime -
All Programs are available for later Listening
Solidarity & Peace
Rick Spisak

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/newmercurymedia/2016/07/03/pnn--let-freedom-ring

PNN 7/3/16

1. MORE WAR AHEAD 
[David Swanson on the DNC Platform]

The Democratic War Platform

Written by davidswanson Tag: Elections, Peace and War

The Democratic Party's draft platform takes a government that spends over half of discretionary spending on militarism, as much as the rest of the world combined, with troops in most countries and seven wars underway, and says: Keep it going, only more so!

The Platform begins with support-the-troops propaganda, demanding military spending for the sake of the people recruited into the military, many of them of course for lack of the free college that the Democrats have left out of their platform.

"Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans," is the opening headline on foreign policy.

The words under that headline have nothing to do with what it suggests:

    "Democrats believe America must continue to have the strongest military in the world."

You'd have to eliminate the vast majority of it for that not to be so.

    "We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration."

They don't mean "defense" of course, which would also require cutting the vast majority of the U.S. military which serves only offensive purposes, in every sense of the word.

They do mean: Vote for us for more militarism than the Republicans offer.

    "... As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conclusion of long-term nation-building with large military footprints ...."

Call me crazy, but don't you have to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to look beyond them? Wouldn't a platform be the place in which to take a position on continuing or ending the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen? The Platform simply accepts wars, makes a nod to being aware of their existence, and moves along.

The Platform does make this promise, which I would believe about as far as I could throw Dick Cheney:

"... we will audit the Pentagon, launch a high-level commission to review the role of defense contractors, and take greater action against those who have been involved in fraud."

Greater than nothing isn't much, of course, but at least that's a useful promise if anyone were to ever try to hold them to it. The point of it, however, is not to reduce warmaking -- rather to make it more efficient.

So we'd need to hold them to it and then insist that wasted dollars be cut rather than spent on machinery that kills more economically and effectively.

The Platform contains the usual weak economic promises, with no universal education or healthcare or significant family or vacation leave. It chooses instead to propose decent policies only for veterans, as part of the war promotion it includes just before delving into anything related to foreign policy.

    "... We are outraged by the systemic problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and will fight for every veteran to have access to timely, high-quality health care. The delays in processing claims and appeals are unacceptable."

Whoever has been running this government in recent years sure has a lot to answer for.

When turning to foreign policy, the Democrats speak not of aid or diplomacy or disarmament, but of the need to "Confront Global Threats."

The failed, counterproductive war on terrorism would roll on: "We must defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their affiliates, and prevent other groups from emerging in their place." The Democrats will pursue more of what doesn't work, but also urge other nations to do more of the same, not cease providing weapons and support but engage in more bombing:

    "First, Democrats will continue to lead a broad coalition of allies and partners to destroy ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq and Syria. We will press those in the region, especially the Gulf countries and local forces on the ground, to carry their weight in prosecuting this fight."

Also on Syria, where Hillary Clinton has long proposed wider war, the Platform says,

"Donald Trump would inflame the conflict by alienating our allies, inexplicably allowing ISIS to expand in Syria, and potentially starting a wider war. This is a reckless approach. Democrats will instead root out ISIS and bring together the Syrian opposition, international community, and our regional allies to reach a negotiated political transition that ends Assad’s rule."

So the contrast is between wider war through allowing ISIS to expand, and "rooting out ISIS" through something other than wider war but clearly amounting to nothing other than wider war -- just what has allowed ISIS to expand.

On Afghanistan, one of those wars the Platform looks beyond, the Platform proposes to continue the war:

"In Afghanistan, we will work with the NATO-led coalition of partners .... We support President Obama’s decision to maintain a limited troop presence in Afghanistan ...."


The same week that President Obama admitted to killing large numbers of civilians with drones, the Platform writes:

"We reject Donald Trump’s suggestion that our military should engage in war crimes, like murdering civilians."

The Platform repeats several times that it opposes using large numbers of U.S. ground troops, even at one point admitting that war on ISIS is counterproductive, at least when it uses this tactic which the Platform opposes for political reasons:

"We also firmly reject Donald Trump’s willingness to mire tens of thousands of our combat troops in a misguided ground war in the Middle East. It would embolden ISIS, and there is nothing smart or strong about such an approach."

The same of course applies to a misguided air war on ISIS, but Democrats believe nobody will protest them if they do that.

The Platform then turns immediately to falsely demonizing a nation with which the Pentagon has long dreamed of launching a big ground war: "Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It violates the human rights of its population, denies the Holocaust, vows to eliminate Israel, and has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East." The first and last bits of this are U.S. projection, and Iran does not "vow to eliminate Israel."

Next in the Democrats' sights? North Korea and Russia!

    "North Korea is perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator.... Yet Donald Trump praises North Korea’s dictator .... Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions along its borders, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and attempting to recreate spheres of influence that undermine American interests. It is also propping up the Assad regime in Syria, which is brutally attacking its own citizens."

This while in fact the United States has backed a coup in Ukraine, put a missile base in Romania, begun building another in Poland, expanded NATO to Russia's border, and is currently engaged in major war "exercises" near Russia's border. Also, notice the new clue regarding the Platform's vague position on Syria. Russia's sins include "propping up" a government marked for overthrow.
The Platform culminates in a declaration of intent to dominate the globe:

"It would be a dangerous mistake for America to abandon our responsibilities. We cannot, as Donald Trump suggests, cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to others who will not have our best interests in mind. American leadership is essential to keeping us safe and our economy growing in the years ahead."

This includes viewing as Chinese aggression toward the United States its use of the South China Sea:

    "We will work with our allies and partners to fortify regional institutions and norms as well as protect freedom of the seas in the South China Sea. We will push back against North Korean aggression and press China to play by the rules. We will stand up to Beijing ...."

It also includes more hinting at overthrowing the Syrian government:

    "In the Middle East, Democrats will push for a more inclusive governance in Iraq and Syria that respects the equal rights of all citizens ...."

It also includes whatever the Israeli government may want in the way of free weapons or suppression of free speech in the United States:

    "... we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement."

   "... While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel ...."

How can something remain something it isn't?

    "... And in Venezuela, we will push the government to respect human rights and respond to the will of its people."

Oh good. Sort of like in Honduras?

    "... We will also work to end the reign of terror promulgated by Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, AQIM, and ISIS."

So, good times ahead!

2. EPA Forced to Study Syngenta’s Atrazine and Monsanto’s Glyphosate’s Effects on Endangered Species

More than 1500 endangered plants and animals in the US are under attack by two of the most widely used pesticides known – Atrazine and Glyphosate. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be forced to research why this is happening as part of a settlement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity.

In addition to these two pesticides, the EPA will also analyze the impacts of propazine and simazine, two Big Ag pesticides that are very similar to Syngenta’s widely used Atrazine. The EPA is required to finish the assessments of all these chemicals by June 2020.

This is a considerable settlement, though it seems like a drop in the bucket considering that over 80 million pounds of Atrazine are used in the US annually, alone. The pesticide is second only to the use of Monsanto’s glyphosate, which was sprayed to the tune of 280 million pounds on crops in 2012, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

Endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity, Brett Hartl states:
    “‘This settlement is the first step to reining in the widespread use of dangerous pesticides that are harming both wildlife and people. . .Atrazine, for instance, chemically castrates frogs even in tiny doses, is an endocrine disruptor, and likely causes birth defects in people. The EPA should have banned this years ago.
    This settlement will finally force the EPA to consider the impacts of glyphosate — widely known as Roundup — which is the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, on endangered species nationwide. With more than 300 million pounds of this stuff being dumped on our landscape each year, it’s hard to even fathom the damage it’s doing.’”
The harmful effects of glyphosate are becoming common knowledge, especially since the WHO’s declaration of the chemical as probably carcinogenic. Ever since that declaration, communities and even entire nations have at least put restrictions on glyphosate use, putting Monsanto in a financial hole. What’s more, Monsanto is being hit with lawsuit after lawsuit for the general act of polluting the world – and knowing about this toxic pollution for years.

As for Syngenta, well, that biotech company has gone to great lengths to cover up just how dangerous Atrazine can be. But nothing can stay secret forever.
3. Paul Ryan, the peoples house (the dem sit in)
Dear Speaker Ryan:
I was just gobsmacked when I heard you use the phrase "The People's House" in your scolding of the Democrats after their gun control sit-in. Although, I took it as a minor miracle you didn't immediately choke on your words or that lightning didn't strike any where near you. Granted, I didn't check the D.C weather reports for that day, so it's possible the latter happened.
How, I wondered, were you able to utter the phrase, "The People's House," especially after criticizing Democrats for doing a sit-in because they wanted to debate what were, after all, fairly mild gun safety regulations with which the majority of Americans agree.
According to a CBS News poll taken after Orlando, 57% of Americans now support a ban on assault weapons, a much more substantive proposal than anything the House Democrats were putting forth. One bill the Democrats wanted to debate was universal background checks, which a super majority of 89% of Americans support, including substantial majorities of Democrats and Republicans.
How can you call it "The People's House" when no debate is allowed over what the vast majority of people want? To call the present Republican House "The People's House" makes a mockery of the term. As Sean Illing pointed out in Salon in 2015, " the GOP's control of Congress is . . . a scandal." Obama beat Republican candidates twice "with more than 50 percent of the popular vote." Also, "Democratic congressional candidates received 1.4 million more votes than their Republican opponents in 2012. And yet Republicans lost only eight seats that year. In a remotely representative system, such results would not be possible."
So what has happened in the world's last best hope? Your party, fueled by dark money, was extraordinarily successful at rigging the system in its favor by gerrymandering at the state level.
As Illing explained, "Something like 55 percent of America's congressional districts have been redrawn to favor the GOP, while a paltry 10 percent have been redrawn to favor Democrats. It's difficult to overstate how anti-Democratic that is. Republicans have essentially short-circuited the Democratic process."

And how did your party do that? "They've used advanced technology and algorithms based on the most recent census data to redraw borders and create the safest districts possible." So because of your party's rigging of the system, its influence in Congress is much greater than its support among the actual people of America.

Another more interesting way to say it is that all of us have collectively been ratf**ked as Salon editor-in-chief David Daley puts it in his provocatively titled new book, RatF**ked: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy. Daley points out that because of your party's successful effort to subvert our democracy, blue states like Ohio and Pennsylvania that voted for Obama end up sending super majorities of Republicans to Congress, all because of gerrymandering. In Ohio's case, Republicans have a 12-4 advantage and Pennsylvania's delegation is 13-5 Republican.
Of course, your party was only able to pull off this little coup because of dark money. In fact, if it weren't for a handful of right-wing billionaires, the Kochs, the Scaifes, the DeVoses, and a few others, your party's hard right turn over the past few years would never have been possible. They bought off media and universities. They established think tanks and a 24-7 365-days-a-year campaign mode that has transformed our nation for the worse.

As described by Jane Mayer in her well-researched Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right , the present-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell once explained to a college class that there are only three ingredients to building a political party: money, money, and money. So according to your counterpart in the Senate, such quaint notions as the people's will or the common good are not ingredients in building a political party. Good to know.
After years and years of your party filling its coffers with dark money, while doing nothing, being the Party of No, you have the gall to lecture those who want to do the people's business. And to add insult to injury, you call your bought-and-paid-for House, "The People's House."

Given all the above, I don't know whether to call your utterance of the phrase "The People's House" chutzpah, delusional thinking, the meaningless mouthing of political platitudes, or just politics as usual as practiced in the second decade of the 21st century? Yet no matter what I call it, the people, whose well-being should be the primary objective of "The People's House," will continue to be the losers.

4. FRACKING DOESN"T JUST POISON GROUND WATER

Many of the toxic chemicals escaping from fracking and natural gas processing sites and storage facilities may be present in much higher concentrations in the bodies of people living or working near such sites, new research has shown.

In a first-of-its-kind study combining air-monitoring methods with new biomonitoring techniques, researchers detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from natural gas operations in Pavillion, Wyoming in the bodies of nearby residents at levels that were as much as 10 times that of the national averages.

Some of these VOCs such as benzene and toluene are linked to chronic diseases like cancer and reproductive and developmental disorders. Others are associated with respiratory problems, headaches, nosebleeds, and skin rashes.

“Many of those chemicals were present in the participants’ bodies at concentrations far exceeding background averages in the US population,” notes the study, titled “When the Wind Blows: Tracking Toxic Chemicals in Gas Fields and Impacted Communities,” which was released last week.

Some residents of Pavillion have for years been concerned about the rise in health issues that they suspected were connected to emissions from the gas production activities. This tiny town of less than 250 people has been at the center of the growing debate on fracking since 2008 when locals began complaining that their drinking water had acquired a foul taste and odor back in 2008.

In 2014, air monitoring data showed some toxic chemical emissions at oil and gas sites in Wyoming were up to 7,000 times the “safe” levels set by US federal environmental and health agencies. In March of this year, Stanford University researchers found evidence that fracking operations near Pavillion were contaminating the local groundwater.

Now this new study, conducted by researchers with the national environmental health organization Coming Clean, establishes clearly that at least some of these harmful chemicals are making their way into the bodies of nearby residents.

The study focused on measuring ambient levels of a specific family of VOCs named BTEX chemicals — which include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes — because these chemicals are known to be hazardous to human health even at low levels. Researchers then used new biomonitoring methods to detect these chemicals in 11 local residents who volunteered to participate in the study by wearing air quality monitors and providing blood and urine samples, and found evidence of eight hazardous chemicals emitted from Pavillion gas infrastructure in the urine of study participants.

“The biomonitoring confirmed what we knew,” Wilma Subra, an award-winning biochemist and one of the scientists involved in the project, told Earth Island Journal. “This clearly indicates that there is a need of control mechanisms to curb the emissions in order to reduce exposure of those living near these operations.”

The study leaders, however, also note that because VOCs are so ubiquitous in products and in our homes, it is possible that some of the VOCs detected in participants' bodies came from multiple sources. They are calling for further biomonitoring testing of people living or working near oil and gas sites to better understand how these chemicals travel through the environment and to prevent our exposure to them.

“If your drinking water is contaminated with toxic chemicals you might be able to make do with another source, but if your air is toxic you can't choose to breathe somewhere else,” Deb Thomas, the director of ShaleTest and one the study leaders, said in a statement.

Addendum: In related news, last week, Earthworks, FracTracker Alliance and Clean Air Task Force released OilAndGasThreatMap.com, a new tool that maps the locations of the 92,759 active oil and gas wells, compressors and processors operating in California, and the populations, schools and hospitals within a half mile radius of those facilities.

Based on peer-reviewed science and publicly-available data, map shows that 1.3 million Californians live within half-a-mile of an active oil and gas facility. These areas also include 365 schools and 74 medical facilities.

The Threat Map allows anyone to search their address to find if they live within the half-mile threat radius.

5. lock down you comm

There are dozens of messaging apps for iPhone and Android, but one in particular continues to stand out in the crowd. Signal is easy to use, works on both iOS and Android, and encrypts communications so that only the sender and recipient can decipher them.
It also has open source code, meaning it can be inspected to verify security. You can download Signal from the Android Play Store and the iPhone App Store.
Although Signal is well-designed, there are extra steps you must take if you want to maximize the security for your most sensitive conversations — the ones that could be misinterpreted by an employer, client, or airport security screener; might be of interest to a snooping government, whether at home or abroad; or could allow a thief or hacker to blackmail you or steal your identity.
I discuss these steps at length below, in order of importance. If you wish to jump ahead to a specific section, you can click the appropriate link:
Signal uses strong end-to-end encryption, which, when properly used, ensures that no one involved in facilitating your conversation can see what you’re saying — not the makers of Signal, not your cellphone or broadband provider, and not the NSA or another spy agency that collects internet traffic in bulk.
But Signal’s encryption scheme can’t stop someone from picking up your phone and opening the app to read through your conversations. You have to take additional precautions.
If you’re using Android:
    Set up screen lock, which requires you to draw a pattern, type a numeric PIN, or type a password to unlock your phone. You can do this from the Settings app under Security > “Screen lock.” Try to make it random, and avoid using anything obvious such as birthdates. Don’t tell anyone how to unlock your phone unless you’re OK with them reading all of your encrypted messages.
    Encrypt your phone’s storage. A screen lock is not much use if a thief can copy your phone’s data to a different device. Encrypting the flash memory on your phone blocks such an attack by scrambling your data so that it can only be unlocked using the same pattern, PIN, or password used to unlock your phone. You can do this from the Settings app under Security > “Encrypt phone.” Note that you need to have a full battery before Android lets you encrypt your phone, and you may have to wait up to an hour while your phone is encrypting.
    Install all updates promptly. Updates fix security bugs, so every day you haven’t installed them is a day you’re vulnerable to attack. You can check for Android updates by opening the Settings app, and under System tap “About phone” > “System updates.” You should also update all of your apps from the Play Store promptly.
If you’re using an iPhone:
    Set a strong passcode. iPhones automatically have encrypted storage, but this encryption only protects your data if you lock your device with a passcode. Everyone should use at least a six-digit passcode, and you should up that to 11 digits if you’re concerned that your phone might fall into the hands of a powerful attacker like a government. Avoid using anything obvious such as birthdates. I wrote about this in detail in February — skip to the bottom of that article for instructions on changing your passcode, and for considerations about using Touch ID.
    Install updates promptly. Updates fix security bugs, so every day you haven’t installed them is a day you’re vulnerable to attack. You can check for iPhone updates in the Settings app under General > Software Update. You should also update all of your apps in the App Store app under the Updates tab.
Hide Signal Messages on Your Lock Screen
Signal’s powerful encryption won’t necessarily help you if other people can see incoming Signal messages displayed on your lock screen. Displaying messages on the lock screen is Signal’s default behavior, but you should change this if your phone is frequently in physical proximity to people who shouldn’t see your Signal messages — roommates, coworkers, or airport screeners, for example.
Here’s how to lock down your Signal notifications.
If you’re using Android:
    Open the Settings app, and under “Device” > “Sound & notification” select “When device is locked.”
    The options are “Show all notification content,” “Hide sensitive notification content,” or “Don’t show notifications at all.” I recommend you choose “Hide sensitive information content” — this way you’ll still be notified when you get a Signal message, but you’ll have to unlock your phone to see who it’s from and what it says.
If you’re using an iPhone:
    Open the Signal app and click the gear icon in the top-left to get to Signal’s settings. Under “Notifications” > “Background Notifications,” tap “Show.”
    The options are “Sender name & message,” “Sender name only,” or “No name or message.” I recommend you choose “No name or message” — this way you’ll still be notified when you get a Signal message, but you’ll have to unlock your phone to see who it’s from and what it says.
    To completely remove Signal notifications from your iPhone’s lock screen, open the Settings app, tap “Notifications,” scroll down to the list of apps, and tap Signal. From here you can turn off “Show on Lock Screen.”
Verify That You’re Talking to the Right Person
I said earlier that Signal ensures your communications stay private when it is properly used. Using Signal properly involves verifying that your communications are not subject to a “man-in-the-middle attack.”
A man-in-the-middle attack is where two parties (Romeo and Juliet, for example) think they’re speaking directly to each other, but instead, Romeo is speaking to an attacker, Juliet is speaking to the same attacker, and the attacker is connecting the two, spying on everything along the way. In order to fully safeguard your communications, you have to take extra steps to verify that you’re encrypting directly to your friends and not to impostors.
Most messaging apps don’t provide any way to do this sort of verification. Signal provides two: one for verifying voice calls and one for verifying text conversations.
Verify Your Phone Contacts
It’s easy to verify the security of phone calls on Signal, but you have to verify every call.
For each call, the Signal app displays two words on the callers’ phone screens. In the screen shot below, for example, each screen shows the words “shamrock paragon.” Juliet and Romeo read these words to one another; if the words are the same, and they recognize one another’s voices, the call is secure. If the words are different, someone is attacking the encryption in the call and you should hang up and try calling again, but this time from a different internet connection.
It’s not required, but a popular convention is for the receiver to answer the phone by reading the first word, as in, “Shamrock?” And the caller to respond with the second word, as in, “Paragon.”
I admit that this sounds like magic, but I assure you that it’s only mathematics. Here’s how it works: When Juliet calls Romeo using Signal, her app communicates with his app and comes up with a shared secret that no one else can possibly learn, even if they’re spying on this exchange — watch this five-minute video if you want to get some information about how this works. The Signal app on each phone takes this shared secret and converts it into the two-word authentication string. As long as the shared secret is exactly the same, the authentication string will be exactly the same as well.
Verify Your Text Contacts
It’s more complicated to verify the security of Signal text chats, but once you’ve verified a text chat correspondent, you won’t have to re-verify them again until they get a new phone or re-install Signal.
Each person you text with in Signal has something called an identity key. When Juliet sends Romeo a message for the first time, her Signal app downloads a copy of his identity key and stores it on her phone and visa versa. So long as these identity keys are valid — the key that Juliet has stored for Romeo is actually Romeo’s real key and not some attacker’s key — then the messages they send to each other are secure.
Because it’s unlikely that anyone is trying to attack your encrypted messages the very first time you send a contact a message, Signal automatically trusts the identity key that it downloads. This makes Signal easy to use: All you need to do to have an encrypted conversation is send someone a message, and that’s it. But if you discuss anything sensitive, you still might want to confirm.
To verify the identity key, you first navigate to the verification screen.
If you’re using Android:
    Open the Signal app and tap on a conversation to open it
    Tap the contact’s name and phone number at the top of the screen
    Tap “Verify identity”
If you’re using an iPhone:
    Open the Signal app and tap on a conversation to open it
    Long-press the contact’s name at the top of the screen until the verification screen appears
Next, you want to confirm you have the correct identity key for your contact. You can do this either by scanning “QR codes,” which work similarly to the bar codes used to ring up groceries, or by comparing “fingerprints,” which are 66-character blocks of text.
Verifying a Text Contact in Person
If you’re able to meet up in person, here’s how you verify identity keys using QR codes:
If you’re using Android:
    To be verified, tap the barcode icon in the top-right of the verification screen and select “Display your QR code” (you may be prompted to install the Barcode Scanner app the first time you do this; it is safe to install).
    To verify someone else, tap the barcode icon on the verification screen and choose “Scan contact’s QR code,” and then point your camera at the contact’s QR code.

If you’re using an iPhone:
    To be verified, tap the QR code icon on the verification screen.
    To verify someone else, tap the camera icon on the verification screen, and then point the iPhone camera at the person’s QR code.
When you successfully verify a contact, Signal should pop up a message that says, “Verified!”
Verifying a Text Contact Remotely
If you can’t meet up in person, you can still verify that you have the right identity key by comparing fingerprints — however, it’s kind of annoying.
You need to share your fingerprint with your contact using some out-of-band communication channel — that is, don’t share it in a Signal message. Instead, share it in a Facebook message, Twitter direct message, email, or phone call. You could also choose to share it using some other encrypted messaging app, such as WhatsApp or iMessage. (If you’re feeling paranoid, a phone call is a good option; it would be challenging for an attacker to pretend to be your contact if you recognize their voice.)
Once your contact gets your fingerprint, they need to navigate to the verification screen and compare, character by character, what you sent them with what they see. If they match, your conversation is secure.
Your contact should share their fingerprint with you in the same way, and you should confirm that what they sent you matches what’s on your verification screen as well.
If you’re using Android, unfortunately there’s no way to copy your own fingerprint to your phone’s clipboard to paste into another app. If you want to share it using another app on your phone, you’ll have to manually type it.
If you’re using an iPhone, you can copy your own fingerprint to your phone’s clipboard like this: Open the Signal app and click the gear icon in the top-left to get to Signal’s settings. Tap Privacy, then tap Fingerprint.
Verifying a Text Contact Who Gets a New Phone
From time to time, you might see a warning in a Signal conversation that says “Identity key changed. Tap to verify new key.” This can only mean one of two things:
    Your Signal contact switched to a new installation of Signal, most likely because they bought a new phone, or,
    An attacker is trying to insert themselves into your Signal conversations.
The latter is less likely, but the only way to rule it out completely is to again go through one of the verification processes for text contacts described above.
Archive and Delete Messages
After Juliet sends a message to Romeo using Signal, copies of this message exist in only two locations: on Juliet’s phone and on Romeo’s phone. Unlike other messaging apps, Signal doesn’t store a copy of your messages on internet servers (“in the cloud”). Still, if you have a sensitive conversation, it may be a good idea to delete it when you no longer need it.
You can also archive conversations that you want to keep around but don’t want cluttering your Signal app. Here’s how to delete and archive Signal conversations.
When you open the Signal app, you will see a list of your conversations — your inbox, essentially. You can swipe a conversation to the right to archive it, which moves it out of your inbox and into an “archived conversations” list. Deleting a message or conversation varies depending emplon your phone’s operating system:

If you’re using Android:
To delete a message, open the conversation, pick the message you’d like to delete, and long-touch it. This will select the message and give you the option to delete it. Similarly, to delete a conversation, pick a conversation from your inbox and long-touch it. This will select the conversation and give you the option to delete it.

If you’re using an iPhone:
To delete a message, open the conversation, pick the message you’d like to delete, long-touch it, and choose “Delete.” To delete a conversation, pick the conversation you’d like to delete from your inbox and swipe to the left to delete it.
Deleting messages is permanent. If you delete a message from your Signal app, and the person you’re talking to deletes it from their Signal app, the message will be completely gone.
6. TRUMP U -
Over and Out! - When is an endorsement a BIG WET Thank You
TALLAHASSEE
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Monday became the first big-name Republican official in the state to endorse Donald Trump for president.
At a rally in her hometown of Tampa, the state’s top legal officer — the woman Trump called “the most popular person in Florida, by far” — praised the Republican frontrunner as an outsider who will keep Americans safe.
“Donald and I have been friends for many years,” Bondi said, “and I can tell you some things about Donald that I have seen first-hand,” alluding to how nicely he treats his family.
The endorsement, however, dredged up a nearly three-year-old question from the last time Bondi and Trump made headlines together: Why didn’t the Florida attorney general’s office investigate fraud complaints against Trump University?
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article65995972.html#storylink=cpy
In the fall of 2013, Bondi was preparing for a re-election bid and a for-profit college called Trump University had just been sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The lawsuit alleged that Trump University had “scammed” more than 5,000 people out of more than $40 million by falsely promising to teach them the tools to Trump’s real estate success.
With media scrutiny mounting, the Donald J. Trump Foundation that September contributed $25,000 to And Justice for All, a political committee controlled by Bondi.
Florida never followed New York’s lead. Although there were complaints in Florida, the state never opened an investigation.
Charles Jacobson of Bradenton was one of the people who filed a Trump University complaint with Bondi’s office. In 2011, he wrote that he “lost more than $26,000” to the college and had “since declared personal bankruptcy because of it.”
“The determination was rightfully made that that complaint would be addressed in the ongoing lawsuit in New York,” said Whitney Ray, spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
That decision didn’t involve Bondi directly, Ray said.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “It didn’t rise to her level.”
Jacobson’s was the only complaint about Trump University Bondi’s office received from the time she took office in January 2011 until September 2013, Ray said. Lawsuits allege that as many as 20 complaints about various Trump events and seminars were “reviewed” by the state while the previous attorney general, Bill McCollum, was in office from 2007-11.
But in the aftermath of media attention toward the for-profit college in 2013, two more people contacted Bondi’s office with similar stories.
Neither of those cases was ever investigated, either.
The Trump presidential campaign did not respond to questions Monday.
In 2013, he wouldn’t answer Herald/Times questions about why he was contributing to an attorney general’s race in Florida. But he did release a statement calling Bondi “a fabulous representative of the people” and Schneiderman “a political hack.”
As for Bondi, she praised Trump on Monday for bringing new voters into the political arena. He’s an outsider who has never run for office before, she said, just like she was in 2010 when she first ran for attorney general after working as a prosecutor in Tampa.
“I felt Florida needed to be changed,” Bondi said. “Now, our country and our world need someone who is going to protect our security like never before, and that’s why I support Donald.”
Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reporter Kristen M. Clark contributed.
Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article65995972.html#storylink=cpy

7. “Truly unsettling” discovery at Fukushima… problem “far greater than previously thought” — Boss reveals 600 tons of fuel melted, can’t find it — Top Official: “Nobody really knows where fuel is”…
The task of neutralising and retrieving hundreds of tonnes of melted nuclear fuel turns out to be far greater than previously thought. So too might be the eventual cost, as well as the time that will be required to remedy the site –that is, if it can ever be fully remedied.
There’s no playbook – they’re making it up as they go along. – former US chief nuclear watchdog Gregory Jaczko
Mark Willacy interviews Naoto Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister at the time of the crisis. He is a convert to the anti-nuclear cause and – along with Gregory Jaczko - a sceptic about whether the clean-up will succeed.
There was a risk that half or all of Japan could have been destroyed. So in a way the accident took us to the brink of destruction. – Naoto Kan
ABC Australia, May 24, 2016: Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel… [TEPCO] has revealed that 600 tonnes of reactor fuel melted during the disaster, and that the exact location of the highly radioactive blobs remains a mystery… [C]hief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, said the company hoped to… begin removing it from 2021… “But unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where (the fuel) is” [said Masuda]. [Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the US NRC] at the time of the meltdowns at Fukushima doubts the fuel can be retrieved… “Nobody really knows where the fuel is… It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just have to wind up leaving it there and somehow entomb it as it is.”… For the first time, TEPCO has revealed just how much of the mostly uranium fuel melted down… [Masuda said] “about 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there.”
RT, May 24, 2016: 600 tons of melted radioactive Fukushima fuel still not found, clean-up chief reveals… [The fuel] burnt through the respective reactor pressure vessels, concentrating somewhere on the lower levels of the station… fuel from Reactor 1 poured out completely… the exact location of the highly radioactive “runaway” fuel remains mystery for TEPCO. The absolutely uncontrollable fission of the melted nuclear fuel assemblies continue somewhere under the remains of the station… [TEPCO's] plan for Fukushima nuclear power plant implies a 30-40 year period… Yet experts doubt the present state of technology is sufficient to deal with the unprecedented technical task.
8. SAILORS DYING from CleanUp
Kyodo, May 19, 2016: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has thrown his support behind a group of former U.S. sailors suing the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant… Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Carlsbad, California, with some of the plaintiffs, Koizumi said, “Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness… I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening,” he told the news conference… According to lawyers for the group, seven of its members have died so far, including some from leukemia [Three deaths had been reported as of last July]
Asahi Shimbun, May 19, 2016: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi broke down in tears as he made an emotional plea of support for U.S. Navy sailors beset by health problems… More than 400 veterans who were part of a mission called Operation Tomodachi… filed a mass lawsuit in California against [TEPCO]. They are seeking compensation and an explanation for their health problems… Koizumi said: “U.S. military personnel who did their utmost in providing relief are now suffering from serious illnesses. We cannot ignore the situation.” Apparently overcome with emotion, Koizumi started crying… Theodore Holcomb [was] diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He died in 2014 at age 35. The Department of Veterans Affairs later cut off a study into the causal relationship between his exposure to radiation and his illness… Ron Wright, 26, worked on the deck [and] developed a swelling of the testicles and underwent surgery four times… A military doctor told him there was no relationship between his illness and exposure to radiation.
CBS San Diego, May 18, 2016: Sick sailors meet with Japan’s former prime minister… The USS Reagan sailed through a nuclear plume and crews had to spend hours decontaminating the vessel. Sailors now say they are suffering from radiation exposure. “Honestly, I just want to feel better,” said Chad Holt, who served on the USS Ronald Reagan… “A lot of people, they can’t physically see something wrong with you. They think there is nothing wrong with you. That is not the case what we are living with on a daily basis,” said Daniel Hair, who is now retired from the Navy… “I realized this is something that can’t be skipped over, can’t be ignored any longer. The three claims of being safe, cheap and clean were all lies,” [Koizumi] said.
NBC San Diego, May 18, 2016: Many of the sailors say doctors refused to connect their illnesses with the radiation exposure. “You have to experience it,” said William Zeller. “You have to experience the doctor telling you to your face. You have to experience the years of pain when everyone tells you ‘You know you’re fine.’”… “I realize this is not something that can be just skipped over and can’t be ignored any longer,” [Koizumi] said. “Everyone played a role in not shedding more light on this problem…” Koizumi said… The sailors’ attorney said they have won their case against Tokyo Electric Power Company twice, however the company has appealed the judge’s decisions. It is still unclear how exactly the sailors will be compensated…
San Diego Union Tribune, May 17, 2016: Koizumi [said] he believes the service members’ illnesses, reported to include leukemia and tumors, were caused by the 2011 exposure, despite U.S. government findings to the contrary… Koizumi said the Japanese government and [TEPCO] should support the radiation-exposed U.S troops financially and “across the board.”
9.What just because it continues to leak, could it effect us? But we're Americans
    Now, strontium-90 [Sr-90] has been leaking from Fukushima into the ocean, so it will eventually reach the United States, especially the west coast. This much we are sure of… it is the masses of people who need to realize the impact of the contamination on them. In the case of the Fukushima disaster, for example, they need to be aware that some radioactive material is reaching the North American coast, and the prevailing westerly winds will carry anything released into the atmosphere to the US…
    While we are not really sure [how much radioactive material has leaked from Fukushima] we do know that a portion of this material will ride the prevailing winds across the Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, closer to the ground, the winds will be east, south, and north, and therefore this other portion will fall on Japan―and we can investigate the actual levels here: how much fell on this town, on this prefecture? Adding these up, it seems to be only 2.4 PBq. Which is to say of the total fifteen PBq, 2.4, or roughly only 16%, fell on Japanese soil. If the totals are higher, still a smaller share of the total contamination will have fallen on Japan compared with the Pacific, with the largest portion falling on the west coast of the United States.
    So why don’t we hear complaints from the US? Why are there no calls for compensation? Whenever someone asks me this, I simply say that there just aren’t any such complaints. Why is this so? Well the levels released by the US during the atmospheric testing were tens of times greater than Fukushima. They are the criminals, so they cannot ask for compensation from Japan. The U.S. government does not want to have to reflect on its own past, and I think they are eager to completely avoid bringing up anything like that conversation.
10.  ANTI-FACT ATTACK
To most people chancing upon the videos, the two clips would seem incongruous and pointless.
But the Vine channel belongs to CoreNews.org — a website that is the public facing arm of a new politically-motivated attack on environmentalists and climate change campaigners operated by well connected political advisers and researchers.
Lasting only a few seconds, the videos were an attempt to put a shot across the bows of McKibben and his supporters, of which there are many. A promise made weeks earlier by Republican Party activists to follow him around with a video camera — wherever he might go — had apparently begun.
The videos were taken by so-called “trackers” working for America Rising Squared (AR2), an operation that has sprung from the new wave of attacks on climate activists that has become a mainstay of the US political machinery.
AR2 staffers have so far identified three key targets — billionaire investor and climate action advocate Tom Steyer, McKibben and environmental activists generally.
Brian Rogers, AR2 executive director, has said his group will “hold Steyer and the Environmentalist Left accountable for their epic hypocrisy and extreme positions which threaten America’s future prosperity.”
One early contribution of ARsquared.org was a slick video accusing Tom Steyer of hypocrisy over previous fossil fuel investments.
Steyer told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer the accusations were “complete and utter nonsense” because, Mayer wrote, his investments were held in trusts where profits were transferred to a charity.
“They have to know they’re lying. It’s completely dishonest, unethical, and pitiful. And it’s creepy,” Steyer said, adding while the attacks would not deter him, he was concerned they could put others off climate activism.
McKibben told DeSmog: “I think it's pretty clear that they want to talk about anything other than climate change.”
AR2 has launched a new website, Core News, to push its partisan talking points into the public space. The site is accompanied by a YouTube channel, Vine account, Twitter feed and Facebook page.
AR2 has its origins in the spring 2013 launch of America Rising PAC — the political action committee created by Republicans to carry out so-called “opposition research” into Democrat opponents. The PAC’s prime target is Hillary Clinton.
America Rising PAC employs trackers to follow candidates’ every move in the hope of capturing a potentially embarrassing slip-up or hypocritical statement while researchers dig into their histories for anything that might put them in a bad light.
In a submission last week, America Rising said it had filed “almost 2000” FOIA requests as part of its work.
America Rising’s research and tracking material is pushed to the public domain through branded channels, media briefings or paid advertising.
America Rising was reportedly a direct response to the Democrat’s own opposition research group, American Bridge (remember the now former Republican Senator Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ remarks came from an American Bridge tracker).
At the same time as the PAC was launched, a for-profit company America Rising LLC was also formed to carry out paid work on behalf of its allies in the Republican movement.
Joining the PAC, the LLC and AR2 is a fourth group — the private company Definers Public Affairs — that shares the politically-linked leadership of America Rising and several staff members with the other groups.
For example, AR2's executive director Brian Rogers is also a Senior Vice President at Definers. Rogers is a former senior adviser to Republican Senator John McCain and held key roles in McCain's run for the US presidency in 2008. As reported on Huffington Post, Rogers also had a short stint working for Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection.
AR2’s communications director is Jeremy Adler, who moved straight out of the offices of Marco Rubio’s failed campaign for the Republican nomination. Before that stint, Adler was a research analyst at America Rising LLC and a “war room” researcher for Republicans.
Natalie Gillam, another former Republican party researcher for the RNC and NRSC, is now AR2’s deputy communications director.
Definers Public Affairs:
Private Political Operatives For Corporate Hire
The well-connected political operatives at Definers are offering to do for corporations what they have been doing for their friends in politics — dig for dirt and track their opponents.
According to the Definers website, the company will “build and influence media narratives, move public opinion and provide powerful ammunition for your public relations and government affairs efforts.”
Matt Rhoades, the founder of Definers, was Mitt Romney’s campaign manager when the former Massachusetts governor ran for president in 2012.
Definers president Joe Pounder, who co-founded America Rising LLC, is also a veteran of Marco Rubio’s campaign and a former research director at the Republican National Committee.
According to Politico, Pounder and Rhoades have been working to try and discredit investigative journalist and author Jane Mayer.
The New Yorker’s Mayer has become a target over her detailed reporting of the oil billionaire Koch brothers and their outsized influence on the US political right.
AR2 has been registered with the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c)4 “social welfare” organisation – meaning it does not have to disclose its funders but is generally allowed to spend up to half its cash on political activity.
The funders of AR2 are not known and 501(c)4 groups do not have to declare them.
But it seems likely that supporters of AR2 will be drawn from a similar pool of donors to America Rising’s political action committee (PAC).
According to America Rising PAC’s filings, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, donors in this electoral cycle include so called “vulture capitalist” Paul Singer, who gave $250,000. Singer has also donated to the work of Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg, who holds contrarian views on climate science and says the world’s poorest countries need to burn vast quantities of fossil fuels.
Another recent America Rising donor is Brian France, the CEO of auto racing association NASCAR, who gave $15,000.  France has endorsed Donald Trump for president.
In a statement responding to the new attack strategy, McKibben says: “I’m of course flattered that our work has exposed the fossil fuel industry enough that they feel the need for this kind of personal attack — but as usual, the real news is the lengths they will go to avoid talking about the greatest issue of our time, their ongoing wreckage of the planet’s climate, and in the process so many of its people.”

Sunday, June 26, 2016

PNN - Solstice Celebrants






PNN

1. A group of U.S. intelligence veterans urges President Obama to resist the "reckless" call for a wider Syrian war from 51 State Department officials in a recent "dissent memo."
MEMORANDUM FOR: Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Subject: Beware Foggy Bottom Dissent
Dissent and disagreement within the foreign policy and national security bureaucracy only comes to the public's attention when there are deep and fundamental differences of opinion about the execution and objectives of a U.S. policy. Instances of dissent emerged during the war in Vietnam and have reappeared periodically, e.g., during the Contra War in Central America in the 1980s and the Cold War with the Soviets. We can now add Syria to this list.
The latest media buzz came with the leak that 51 "State Department Diplomats" signed a dissent letter advocating direct U.S. bombing as a tool to force Syria into submission to our government's dictates. U.S. Foreign Service Officers are a unique collection of highly educated people, who take great pride in having passed the Foreign Service Exam. Yet even among such "bright people," some succumb to the forces of careerism and the pressures to politicize intelligence.

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Unfortunately the dissent signers are calling for America to threaten, and if our bluff is called, commit acts of overt, aggressive war against the forces of a sovereign nation on its own territory. One whose supporters include Russia, the world's other big nuclear power.
The line of thought -- that it is America's right and duty to employ large-scale death to enforce its leaders' will on other peoples -- adheres to the noxious notion that the U.S.A. enjoys uniquely privileged standing as the "sole indispensable country in the world." If this was ever an arguably legitimate position, that time is long gone -- and today demonstrably blinds its adherents to common sense.
Such thinking is not new. Theodore Roosevelt popularized it as we went to war to annex Spanish territories in the Philippines and Caribbean -- at the cost of over half a million indigenous lives -- more than a century ago. We saw it, in spades, with the "Best and the Brightest" -- those responsible for destroying Vietnam. Three million Vietnamese people died in that war (according to former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara), and another two million or so in its Indochina spin-offs. After this slaughter and the deaths of scores of thousands of its own troops, the U.S. endured a complete and humiliating defeat, one affecting its foreign policy and domestic politics to this day. Their bright successors supported the attack on Iraq in 2003, the catalyst for an outbreak of violence that has brought death reaching into the millions -- again -- in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and other neighboring locales we'll eventually read about. This aggression has created millions more traumatized refugees.
The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times(and Wall Street Journal), presumably by one of the State Department employees who authored it, claims American policy has been "overwhelmed" by the unrelenting violence in Syria and calls for "a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process." Furthermore, per the NYT:
"In the memo, the State Department officials wrote that the Assad government's continuing violations of the partial cease-fire, officially known as a cessation of hostilities, will doom efforts to broker a political settlement because Mr. Assad will feel no pressure to negotiate with the moderate opposition or other factions fighting him. The government's barrel bombing of civilians, it said, is the 'root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region.'
"The memo acknowledged that military action would have risks, not the least of which would be increased tension with Russia, which intervened in the war on Mr. Assad's behalf last fall. Russia subsequently helped negotiate the cease-fire. Those tensions increased on Thursday when, according to a senior Pentagon official, Russia conducted airstrikes in southern Syria against American-backed forces fighting the Islamic State."
The dissenters were smart enough to insist they were not "advocating for a slippery slope that ends in a military confrontation with Russia," but rather a credible threat of military action "to keep Mr. Assad in line." Easier said than done! The 51 are silent on this point of major importance.
The foundational premise of their dissent is that Assad's "barrel bombing" (followed by chemical attacks) on civilians provoked civil war in Syria. It's true that the initial phase of the Syrian Spring seems to have been largely spontaneous. Facts show, however, that outside interveners-- primarily the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia -- cooperated in lighting the match that brought the inferno of civil war. Covert funding and provision of weapons and other material support to opposition groups for strikes against the Syrian Government provoked a military reaction by Assad -- which created a pretext for our enlarged support to the rebel groups.
2. BYE GEORGE - I know how it feels
Longtime columnist George Will has officially left the Republican Party, he told a group of conservatives on Friday.
Will, a conservative writer for the Washington Post, confirmed to PJ Media that he switched his Maryland party registration from GOP to unaffiliated.
At a meeting of the Federalist Society Friday in D.C., Will told the group it’s worth refusing to back Trump even if it hands the election to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“This is not my party,” he told the group. “Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House.”
Will also cited House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) endorsement of the bombastic New York businessman as one of his final straws before de-registering.
The columnist has criticized Trump in the pages of the Post, and Trump last month fired back, calling him a “major loser.”

3. Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer

In a dangerously flawed decision unsealed today, a federal district court in Virginia ruled that a criminal defendant has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in his personal computer, located inside his home. According to the court, the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual's computer.
This decision is the latest in, and perhaps the culmination of, a series of troubling decisions in prosecutions stemming from the FBI’s investigation of Playpen—a Tor hidden services site hosting child pornography. The FBI seized the server hosting the site in 2014, but continued to operate the site and serve malware to thousands of visitors that logged into the site. The malware located certain identifying information (e.g., MAC address, operating system, the computer’s “Host name”; etc) on the attacked computer and sent that information back to the FBI.  There are hundreds of prosecutions, pending across the country, stemming from this investigation.
Courts overseeing these cases have struggled to apply traditional rules of criminal procedure and constitutional law to the technology at issue. Recognizing this, we've been participating asamicus to educate judges on the significant legal issues these cases present. In fact, EFF filedan amicus brief in this very case, arguing that the FBI’s investigation ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment. The brief, unfortunately, did not have the intended effect. 
The implications for the decision, if upheld, are staggering: law enforcement would be free to remotely search and seize information from your computer, without a warrant, without probable cause, or without any suspicion at all. To say the least, the decision is bad news for privacy. But it's also incorrect as a matter of law, and we expect there is little chance it would hold up on appeal. (It also was not the central component of the judge's decision, which also diminishes the likelihood that it will become reliable precedent.)
But the decision underscores a broader trend in these cases: courts across the country, faced with unfamiliar technology and unsympathetic defendants, are issuing decisions that threaten everyone's rights. As hundreds of these cases work their way through the federal court system, we'll be keeping a careful eye on these decisions, developing resources to help educate the defense bar, and doing all we can to ensure that the Fourth Amendment's protections for our electronic devices aren't eroded further. We'll be writing more about these cases in the upcoming days, too, so be sure to check back in for an in-depth look at the of the legal issues in these cases, and the problems with the way the FBI handled its investigation.  
4. Defend Yourself Against Surveillance: New Languages, New Animations

When we re-launched Surveillance Self-Defense (SSD) last year to tackle the growing threat of online spying, we knew our greatest challenge was reaching everyone who urgently needed its advice. Technical knowledge about what to do, and what not to do, to protect your privacy online, is only truly useful if it can be understood by those who need that information the most.
We're delighted to note a few important steps in increasing the reach of SSD. Six months ago we launched the site in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Now our amazing network of translators have expanded SSD's coverage to include French, Thai, Vietnamese, and Urdu.
Adding around 230 million native speakers to our potential audience is great news. It's even better when someone takes our suggestions and turns it into a form that makes it easier for anyone to understand.
Al Jazeera Plus is a digital news service with a track record of taking complex topics and transforming them into short informative animated explainers. Today, they've launched four great animations based on SSD's advice, that cover creating and managing strong passwords, how mass surveillance works (and can be defeated) online, and how to keep your computer safer from spyware.
It's often a challenge to make these topics approachable, but we've found in our informal studies that it helps if the explanation includes a bow-tied octopus with a mustache.
Tips to Avoid Online Surveillance: how mass surveillance got so cheap, and how to make it more expensive.
5. NET NEUTRALITY Under Attack in Congress Inc.
Internet users recently enjoyed a historic victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order was upheld as lawful. The court swatted down every legal argument made by the cable and telephone industries opposed to a free and open Internet. But in the last few weeks, Congress has relentlessly tried to defund, stall, and hamstring the FCC—even though four million Americans spoke out in favor of the FCC using its legal authority to protect a free and open Internet.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Defund Them
The House Appropriations Committee has cut the FCC’s budget by $69 million, and its current bill would prohibit the FCC from using federal funds to enforce its Open Internet Order until the cable and telephone industries’ legal challenges are resolved. That’s ironic, because the D.C. Circuit opinion is so favorable to the FCC that the agency will likely defeat any further challenge to its legal authority. In fact, the Supreme Court is probably not going to take up the case because there is no split among the circuit courts. Even the dissenting judge in the D.C. Circuit’s 2-1 decision agreed that the FCC has the legal authority it needs to pass the Open Internet rules. Why would Congress bother placing these conditions on the FCC when the courts have effectively given the agency the go-ahead?
If You Can’t Defund Them, Stall Them (and Cost Consumers a Ton of Money)
One of the central principles of a free and open Internet is your right to connect any device to the network so long as it does not harm the network. We take that idea for granted when connecting computers to the Internet, but the markets for some types of personal devices lag far behind.
Congress tried to bring competition and diversity to the market for pay-TV set-top boxes when it enacted Section 629 of the Telecommunications Act, which ordered the FCC to break up the cable set-top box monopoly. That was 1996.
Twenty years later, after three attempts, the FCC is actually moving forward to carry out that law. But pay-TV companies and their allies in the entertainment industry are pushing hard for the FCC to repeat its past mistakes. Therefore, the cable industry and its allies are taking their case to Congress. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees inserted a provision that would require the FCC to produce a “study” on the impacts of breaking up the set-top box monopoly and then wait another six months before actually breaking up the monopoly.
You don’t need to be an economist to know that breaking up a monopoly is usually a good thing for everyone but the monopolists (in this case, cable and satellite companies, who provide 99% of all set-top boxes). Not to mention that the FCC’s process for creating new rules already requires the agency to study the issue and invite thorough public comment and discussion. The FCC's own rulemaking process is the appropriate way to discuss the implications of a proposed rule. It’s easy to see that piling on additional "studies” is just intended to slow the process, potentially forever.
What makes this provision particularly offensive is that Congress seems oblivious to the cost to ordinary consumers. Our colleagues at Public Knowledge have calculated to the second how much the delay costs consumers. If lawmakers now regret ordering the FCC to end the set-top box monopoly, they could change the Telecommunications Act. Instead, this stall tactic allows them to pretend they favor competition while really protecting the monopolists’ profits.
And If You Can’t Stall Them, Hamstring Them
We’ve raised this issue before: H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act,” is an attempt to hamstring the agency’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Given that the bill faced strong opposition in the House of Representatives (thanks to your willingness to call your House Rep) the bill is unlikely to move forward in the Senate as a standalone package. That means supporters of H.R. 2666 will need to try to squeeze it into a larger must-pass package bill as a last resort. If all the new lines of attack are any indication, we will need to stay vigilant.
Time To Make Your Voice Heard in Congress
We must make it clear that further attempts to move any bill or provisions tucked into other bills that would defund, stall, or hamstring the FCC from preserving a free and open Internet are a non-starter. There are still many members of Congress who are undecided on this issue. Take a moment to make sure your Senators and your Representative know where you stand. Opponents will continue to seek out ways to undo our victories, and the Internet user community must respond firmly.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Defund Them
The House Appropriations Committee has cut the FCC’s budget by $69 million, and its current bill would prohibit the FCC from using federal funds to enforce its Open Internet Order until the cable and telephone industries’ legal challenges are resolved. That’s ironic, because the D.C. Circuit opinion is so favorable to the FCC that the agency will likely defeat any further challenge to its legal authority. In fact, the Supreme Court is probably not going to take up the case because there is no split among the circuit courts. Even the dissenting judge in the D.C. Circuit’s 2-1 decision agreed that the FCC has the legal authority it needs to pass the Open Internet rules. Why would Congress bother placing these conditions on the FCC when the courts have effectively given the agency the go-ahead?
If You Can’t Defund Them, Stall Them (and Cost Consumers a Ton of Money)
One of the central principles of a free and open Internet is your right to connect any device to the network so long as it does not harm the network. We take that idea for granted when connecting computers to the Internet, but the markets for some types of personal devices lag far behind.
Congress tried to bring competition and diversity to the market for pay-TV set-top boxes when it enacted Section 629 of the Telecommunications Act, which ordered the FCC to break up the cable set-top box monopoly. That was 1996.
Twenty years later, after three attempts, the FCC is actually moving forward to carry out that law. But pay-TV companies and their allies in the entertainment industry are pushing hard for the FCC to repeat its past mistakes. Therefore, the cable industry and its allies are taking their case to Congress. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees inserted a provision that would require the FCC to produce a “study” on the impacts of breaking up the set-top box monopoly and then wait another six months before actually breaking up the monopoly.
You don’t need to be an economist to know that breaking up a monopoly is usually a good thing for everyone but the monopolists (in this case, cable and satellite companies, who provide 99% of all set-top boxes). Not to mention that the FCC’s process for creating new rules already requires the agency to study the issue and invite thorough public comment and discussion. The FCC's own rulemaking process is the appropriate way to discuss the implications of a proposed rule. It’s easy to see that piling on additional "studies” is just intended to slow the process, potentially forever.
What makes this provision particularly offensive is that Congress seems oblivious to the cost to ordinary consumers. Our colleagues at Public Knowledge have calculated to the second how much the delay costs consumers. If lawmakers now regret ordering the FCC to end the set-top box monopoly, they could change the Telecommunications Act. Instead, this stall tactic allows them to pretend they favor competition while really protecting the monopolists’ profits.
And If You Can’t Stall Them, Hamstring Them
We’ve raised this issue before: H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act,” is an attempt to hamstring the agency’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Given that the bill faced strong opposition in the House of Representatives (thanks to your willingness to call your House Rep) the bill is unlikely to move forward in the Senate as a standalone package. That means supporters of H.R. 2666 will need to try to squeeze it into a larger must-pass package bill as a last resort. If all the new lines of attack are any indication, we will need to stay vigilant.
Time To Make Your Voice Heard in Congress
We must make it clear that further attempts to move any bill or provisions tucked into other bills that would defund, stall, or hamstring the FCC from preserving a free and open Internet are a non-starter. There are still many members of Congress who are undecided on this issue. Take a moment to make sure your Senators and your Representative know where you stand. Opponents will continue to seek out ways to undo our victories, and the Internet user community must respond firmly.
Hillary's DNC Platform Committee People Prove She Lies
It's no surprise to me or, probably, most Bernie supporters, to see that the DNC platform committee people who are not Bernie supporters are blocking policy that Hillary gave lip service to, particularly TPP opposition.

Just as the time when Colin Powell told us that there were WMDs in Iraq and I shook my head and knew he was lying, I knew Hillary was lying when she said she opposed TPP.

Hillary did say that she'd re-evaluated the TPP and now opposed it. Yet her people at the DNC platform policy committee blocked a policy position that would oppose support of the TPP.

If Hillary wanted her people to oppose TPP, they would oppose it. It's that simple.

There's only one conclusion. Hillary lied about her position on TPP. That's the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure. This is not a small thing. Position on trade deals is huge. Here's what Bernie Sanders says,
"The lesson of Brexit is that while the very rich get much richer, working people throughout the world are not seeing the global economy and an explosion of technology benefiting their lives. In fact, in the United States the middle class has been in decline for 35 years while there has been a huge increase in income and wealth inequality. Unfettered free trade has made multi-national corporations more profitable and their CEOs richer, but it also has led to the loss of millions of good-paying jobs in this country and a race to the bottom.

"The challenge for us today is to take on the greed and power of Wall Street and corporate America, and create a government and an economy that works for all of us and not just the 1 percent." 
"Unfortunately... the platform drafting committee voted down some very important provisions. Despite Secretary Clinton's opposition, as a candidate for president, to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, her supporters in St. Louis voted down a proposal to keep the trade deal from coming up for a vote in Congress. 

The reality is the DNC represents establishment Democrats, the same ones who are the Superdelegates who committed to Hillary Clinton before Bernie Sanders even entered the primary. The DNC is not your friend, unless you are a big corporation.

7. CCR OPPOSES UTAH AG GAG Law

June 23, 2016, Salt Lake City – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a brief in support of animal rights activists challenging Utah’s so-called “ag-gag” law, which punishes whistleblowing and undercover investigations inside of animal agriculture facilities. The law was enacted in 2012, over widespread public opposition. During legislative hearings, lawmakers expressed that the goal of the bill was to hinder animal rights activism.
“Utah legislators were transparent about their disdain for animal rights activists,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Managing Attorney Shayana Kadidal. “If only they had the same appreciation for transparency when it comes to the violence the activists are documenting and exposing.”
Utah’s ag-gag law punishes recording images or sounds within an animal agricultural facility or gaining access to such a facility under false pretenses. Attorneys say the law is a response to undercover investigations inside animal farms and slaughter plants by animal rights activists. During hearings on the law, the bill’s sponsor referred to animal rights activists as “terrorists” and made clear the ag-gag law was aimed at “the vegetarian people” who “are trying to kill the animal industry.” Other legislators argued that investigations inside animal agricultural facilities should be criminalized because they are used “for the advancement of animal rights nationally, which, in our industry, we find egregious.”
Amy Meyer, a plaintiff in the case, was the first person charged under the law, after she filmed slaughter plant workers pushing a sick cow with a bulldozer. The Utah law applies to filming within facilities, but Meyer was on public property. The charges were dropped within 24 hours after independent journalist Will Potter broke the story. Four other activists from Farm Animal Rights Movement were charged under the Utah ag-gag law after filming a hog farm from a public roadway. Those charges were also dropped.
In the past decade, animal rights activists have conducted more than 80 undercover investigations inside of animal agricultural facilities. The investigations have resulted in animal cruelty prosecutions, plant closures, and the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In response, industry groups began an aggressive effort to pass state-level ag-gag legislation, prohibiting the documentation of practices on farms and in slaughter plants and efforts to gain access to animal facilities.
In August, a federal judge struck down a similar law in Idaho as a violation of the First Amendment.
Ag-gag laws are part of a broader pattern of legislation aimed at the repression of animal rights activists, which also includes the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). CCR is currently challenging the AETA on behalf of activists charged as terrorists for releasing animals from fur farms.
The case is Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert. Read CCR’s amicus brief here.
R. Shane Johnson of Salt Lake City is CCR’s local counsel.

8. KNOCK KNOCK GUESS WHO’s Early
LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, including the FBI, have been knocking on the doors of activists and community organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, asking about their plans for the Republican National Convention in July.
As the city gears up to welcome an estimated 50,000 visitors, and an unknown number of protesters, some of the preparations and restrictionsput in place by officials have angered civil rights activists. But the latest string of unannounced home visits by local and federal police marks a significant escalation in officials’ efforts to stifle protest, they say.
“The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target and others in efforts to discourage people from engaging in lawful First Amendment activities,” Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator with the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote in a statement denouncing the home visits.
More than a dozen people in the Cleveland area have reported being visited this week by local police, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Secret Service.
Michael Nelson, an attorney and the president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, said that police officers visited the parents of one of his clients, a young woman who was among 71 people arrested in May 2015 following the acquittal of a police officer in the deaths of two unarmed people.
When the parents asked whether their daughter was in trouble and why they wanted to speak with her, the officers replied that they wanted to ask “about any information she might have about anybody engaging in violence, planning violence for the RNC.” Nelson and others have asked for a meeting with the agencies involved in the door knocks.
“Maybe we need to have a discussion about the Constitution,” he told The Intercept. “Last time we heard of anything like this was when Dr. King and J. Edgar Hoover were around.”
The FBI confirmed that visits have taken place. “In preparation for the upcoming RNC, the FBI, along with our federal, state, and local partners, has been working collaboratively with members of the community,” a spokesperson for the FBI’s Cleveland field office told The Intercept. “As part of this preparation, law enforcement is reaching out to individuals known in the community who may have information that could help ensure a safe and secure environment during the RNC.” Cleveland’s police department did not respond to requests for comment.
Maggie Rice, an organizer with Food Not Bombs, said that members of her group were visited by police but felt too “rattled” to speak to a reporter. The group is not planning to stage protests but has applied for permits to be in the RNC event zone in order to feed both protesters and Cleveland residents dealing with disruptions to public transportation and services like Meals on Wheels.
“A lot of Cleveland’s most vulnerable residents will be at risk,” Rice said. “The idea that the FBI would be coming in, knocking on our doors and asking questions of people that they know are not involved in organizing any protests and that are basically a humanitarian organization is completely unacceptable and very disturbing.”
“One FBI agent and one plainclothes Cleveland police officer, both white men, showed up and started asking questions about other Food Not Bombs members and our activities,” Rice said. “I personally believe that this is an attempt to intimidate because they know we play a vital role in helping people stay out longer and have their voices heard.”
In other visits, officers asked about people’s previous addresses, political and social affiliation, and convention plans, according to the NLG. “We are concerned these visits will chill the free speech activities of individuals wishing to lawfully protest,” said Rosnick. “And that individuals who are not planning to be involved in the RNC are being harassed due to their associations.”
The group is holding free legal training sessions for local activists and residents and has been monitoring law enforcement preparations ahead of the convention. To Cleveland organizers, the recent door knocks are just a reminder that they are being watched.
“Cleveland is no stranger to FBI interference and FBI entrapment,” said Rice. “I’d say most Cleveland activists and support organizations like ours are aware that every room we’re in probably has an FBI agent in it. And we act accordingly.”

8. CLEVELAND - Is a Free Speech Zone
ANYONE VENTURING INTO a 3.3-square-mile “event zone” surrounding next month’s Republican National Convention will be prohibited from carrying tennis balls, tape, rope, bike locks, sleeping bags, or any object they could stand on to rise above the crowd and speak. They won’t be allowed to carry swords or water guns. But if they have a license, they’ll be permitted to openly carry real guns, including assault weapons.

As Cleveland gears up to host one of the most controversial GOP conventions in decades, Ohio’s permissive gun policy isn’t the only red flag raised by prospective protesters and civil rights advocates. Many also warn that the regulations put in place by the city place “unacceptable restrictions on free speech” and risk escalating conflict, rather than diffusing it, by forcing rival groups of demonstrators to share tight quarters and schedules while keeping them out of sight and earshot of delegates and the media.

The restrictions imposed on the large event zone drawn around Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena — known locally as “The Q”— have earned the city a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Ohio and widespread criticism across the spectrum of groups planning to show up at the convention to make their voices heard.

A man carries a semi-automatic pistol, tucked in a holster inside his right waistband, while he waits in line to purchase groceries at a Safeway grocery store in Alexandria, Va., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Open Carry is legal in most places in Virginia, with or without a Concealed Handgun Permit. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) A man carries a semi-automatic pistol while he waits in line to purchase groceries at a Safeway grocery store in Alexandria, Va., Nov. 21, 2015. Photo: Cliff Owen/AP“It’s the first time I’ve gone to a protest where there’s been so much talk of guns and the fact that people can carry them legally,” said John Penley, a 64-year-old Navy vet, Occupy Wall Street activist, and career protester, who said he has lost count of how many conventions he has attended. “They throw pro- and anti-Trump protesters together, and throw in the fact that maybe people will be carrying weapons. … It seems like what they want to do is increase the chances for conflict.”
The nearly 30 groups that have applied for permits to protest at the convention have been told marches can only take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with an hour off for lunch, while most action inside the convention hall is expected to take place in the evening. Marches are restricted to a 1-mile route over a bridge where they can hardly be seen. “The route takes a sharp right away from the Quicken Loans Arena and kind of dumps people into an industrial wasteland,” Christine Link, the executive director of the ACLU of Ohio, told The Intercept. “There’s nowhere to get a bottle of water, and it’s a long way back to your car.”

Protesters fear they will be effectively silenced by the isolation, but also worry about the close scheduling of groups on polar opposites of the political spectrum. For instance, members of the radical leftist Revolution Books are set to share one of two small gathering places with Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay hate group best known for picketing high-profile funerals. “As you can imagine,” Link said, “these groups are not going to be very friendly to each other.”

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of three groups: Citizens for Trump; Organize Ohio, a coalition of grassroots organizations planning an anti-poverty march during the convention; and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, which is not planning to protest but argues that the broad event zone imposes an unfair burden on an area that includes three homeless shelters and two homeless encampments.

The groups that applied for permits are only a fraction of those expected to show up at the convention. “Anarchists don’t typically ask for permits,” Link observed. Those hoping to protest by the book have had to deal with malfunctioning electronic request forms, delays, and a lack of communication from the city. The restrictions now imposed on protesters are only going to push more people to rally without authorization.

“They have to know that most people will never go along with this,” said Larry Bresler, a member of Organize Ohio. “It’s like they have no understanding whatsoever of what can be expected to go on during a convention.”

Cleveland’s Division of Police referred all convention-related questions to the mayor’s office, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Paramilitary Preparations

Cleveland received a $50 million federal grant to gear up for the RNC. A complete list of items the city has obtained has not been made public, but according to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), which has been monitoring preparations, it includes 10,000 sets of flex cuffs; “nonlethal munitions” like bean bag pellets; pepper spray; 2,000 sets of riot gear; 2,000 retractable steel batons; 3.7 miles’ worth of steel barriers; as well as body armor, including ballistic helmets, face visors and shields, and chest, arm, leg, and groin protection. The list also includes video surveillance equipment, laptops, night vision devices, and 16 Pointer Illuminator Aiming Lasers, which a technology retailer describes as being used for “night direct-fire aiming and illumination.” The NLG also raised concerns that Cleveland may deploy Stingray cellphone tracking devices to track down activists, as well as a Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD), a crowd-control tool emitting painful sounds to force people to disperse.

The LRAD, which was designed after the al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, in 2000, was originally intended for U.S. warships to warn off vessels approaching without permission. The device was used for the first time against protesters in 2009, during the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, and a bystander who suffered permanent hearing damage sued the city. Police departments across the country have continued to use the LRAD to disperse protests and rallies, including in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

“That militarized equipment or any security equipment that they buy for the RNC remains there long after the delegates leave,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator for the Ohio Chapter of the NLG. “We believe that people have a right to know what’s coming into their city.”

Cleveland also paid $1.5 million to an insurance broker to secure a $10 million policy for liabilities relating to the convention. “Protest insurance” has become common for cities hosting political conventions and is intended to protect the city and its employees, including officers, against any claims and losses arising from its role as RNC host, including its “law enforcement, safety, and security services,” city officials wrote in a call for bids. But the implication of the insurance policy — that the city assumes it will be sued over its handling of protests — doesn’t sit well with civil rights advocates. “These policies go far beyond general slip and fall type coverage,” said Rosnick. “They also indemnify the city for lawsuits related to constitutional violations and other civil liberties concerns.”

While Cleveland’s police have mostly responded to protests with restraint, for instance during the rallies following the killing by an officer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a Department of Justice investigation found that the department has engaged in a pattern of excessive force in its regular operations. In a December 2014 report, the DOJ determined that “insufficient accountability, inadequate training, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community” contributed to Cleveland police’s “use of unreasonable force.” Following the report, a police monitor was brought in, and reforms were promised. “But there hasn’t been enough time to fix anything,” said the ACLU’s Link, who questioned the department’s preparedness to handle the large number of protesters coming to town for the convention. “That’s the worry we have: This is not a sophisticated, well-run police department.”

The convention center itself is under the control of the Secret Service, which has imposed a separate set of restrictions, including a ban on weapons. An online petition to allow licensed owners to carry guns inside the convention center gathered nearly 55,000 signatures before it was revealed that it was set up as a parody by a gun-control advocate.

Protesters planning to rally outside — with or without permits — worry that poor planning by the city and the hateful rhetoric that has marked much of the Republican race may turn into a dangerous combination. Some have already elected to stay home out of fear of violence, leaving those choosing to protest at an even greater risk.

Bresler, of Organize Ohio, said he met with organizers of the pro-Trump camp and that both groups are committed to nonviolent protest. “But you don’t always know who’s going to come in and join, and what’s going to happen,” he added. Pensley, the career protester, predicts that only the more radical will show up in Cleveland, while both liberals and radicals will descend on Philadelphia, for the Democratic National Convention.


“A lot of people I know who usually would be protesting at both conventions are skipping out on Cleveland because they are scared,” he said. “And I don’t blame them.”