Sunday, May 10, 2015

PNN - Earth Mother

PNN 5/10/15 - Earth Mother

RWS :   ................................7:01
Brook Hines: .......................7:17 (Click for her most recent column)
Arun Gupta:.........................7:38
Meredith Ockman:...............7:59
Stephen Caruso:..................8:20
Merrilee Malwitz-Jipson:.....8:36 - recorded

1. Social Impact - Throw a mango, Doing the Maracaibo Mango!
    And get apartment -  Lets call it - The Time of the Mango

 2. Economic Nattles / Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

“She’s absolutely wrong,” Barack Obama said, before I could even get the question out of my mouth.
He was talking about Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and populist crusader whom Obama helped elevate to national prominence. Warren generally reserves her more acid critiques for Republicans and Wall Street, but in recent weeks she’s been leading a vocal coalition of leftist groups and lawmakers who oppose the president’s free-trade pact with 12 Asian countries.

This past week, as I had just reminded Obama, Warren launched her heaviest torpedo yet against the trade deal, alleging that some future president might use it as an excuse to undo the re-regulation of Wall Street that Obama signed into law in 2010. In fact, as the White House quickly pointed out, language in the pact would expressly prevent that unless Congress voted to allow it.

Three days after that broadside, when we sat down at Nike’s headquarters outside Portland, Ore., Obama still seemed unusually irritated.

“Think about the logic of that, right?” he went on. “The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure that we don’t repeat what happened in 2007, 2008. And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?

But like a marriage in which the spouses pretend to be happier than they really are, 

Obama’s polite alliance with the populist left appears to be suddenly crumbling under the weight of free trade. The more Warren and Senate colleagues like Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown attack the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, joined by big unions and environmental groups, the more liberated Obama seems to feel in portraying them as reckless and backward-looking, much as Clinton might have done. He evidences none of the self-doubt or conflicted loyalty that seemed plain when they criticized him for being too cautious on Wall Street reform or health care.

“She’s absolutely wrong,” Barack Obama said, before I could even get the question out of my mouth.

He was talking about Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and populist crusader whom Obama helped elevate to national prominence. Warren generally reserves her more acid critiques for Republicans and Wall Street, but in recent weeks she’s been leading a vocal coalition of leftist groups and lawmakers who oppose the president’s free-trade pact with 12 Asian countries.

This past week, as I had just reminded Obama, Warren launched her heaviest torpedo yet against the trade deal, alleging that some future president might use it as an excuse to undo the re-regulation of Wall Street that Obama signed into law in 2010. In fact, as the White House quickly pointed out, language in the pact would expressly prevent that unless Congress voted to allow it.

Three days after that broadside, when we sat down at Nike’s headquarters outside Portland, Ore., Obama still seemed unusually irritated.

“Think about the logic of that, right?” he went on. “The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure that we don’t repeat what happened in 2007, 2008. And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?

“I’d have to be pretty stupid,” Obama said, laughing. “This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”

Obama wasn’t through. He wanted me to know, in pointed terms, that for all the talk about her populist convictions, Warren had a personal brand she was trying to promote, too.

“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” he said. “And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”

This is remarkable stuff for Obama. All presidents are forged, in a sense, by the moments at which they come to public life. Obama entered politics during Bill Clinton’s presidency, when urban liberals were growing disgusted with the president’s strategy of “triangulation,” popularly interpreted as the idea that you can win broad support by picking fights with the ideologues in your own party. Obama has always been reflexively averse to anything that might be construed as him pushing back against his friends to score political points with everyone else.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has mostly avoided public feuds with what his first press secretary, Robert Gibbs, liked to call the “professional left” — even when it’s meant sidestepping important disagreements on policy. Democratic politicians and interest groups, in turn, have been cautious in their criticism, offering only muted resistance when Obama stepped up the war in Afghanistan, or when he nearly negotiated a deal that would have restructured entitlements.

That he came to Nike’s sparkling, resort like campus Friday was telling in itself. Since at least the 1990s, labor activists have pointed to Nike as a company that exploited cheap foreign labor in order to increase the bottom line on sneakers and tennis shirts. (Sanders, citing a European study, charges that more than 300,000 workers in Vietnam work in Nike factories for something like 56 cents an hour.) It’s hard to imagine Obama, on some other issue or in some other stage of his presidency, choosing a setting quite so offensive to his base.

And yet here he was, sitting with me near a wall depicting marketable athletes (all the buildings at Nike are named for the sports heroes who made its logo synonymous with product endorsement), just after announcing that Nike intended to create 10,000 new jobs in domestic, high-tech manufacturing if the trade pact were approved. This time, rather than choosing his words carefully to preserve party unity, Obama was pressing his advantage.

“I had a conversation with all the labor leaders before this started,” he told me. “I’ve had a conversation with some of the more progressive members of Congress before. And I’ve listened to their arguments. And, as I said before, generally speaking, their arguments are based on fears. Or they’re fighting NAFTA, the trade deal that was passed 25 years ago, or 20 years ago.

“I understand the emotions behind it,” he told me. “But when you break down the logic of their arguments, I’ve got to say that there’s not much there there.”
Her comments don't pass the test of FACT

HE CAN SAY THAT BECAUSE: Since Senator Warren has been so demonstrably wrong on economic issues

3. Fukushima News Update

“Caldrons of hell” created at Fukushima, says energy company official; Disaster is recurring each day at plant — Japan Nuclear Expert: We have a crisis “of a severity that can’t be imagined anywhere else”; People have been abandoned and “thrown away”

May 1, 2015 (emphasis added): Yauemon Sato, the ninth-generation chief of a sake brewery operating here since 1790 [and president of electric power company Aizu Denryoku] likens the crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to “caldrons of hell.” In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Sato said the nuclear disaster “continues to recur every day”… Excerpts from the interview follow: Question: What drives you to be so active, including in the use of renewable energy? — Sato: You know the caldron of hell? You will be sent to hell and will be boiled in that caldron if you do evil. And there are four such caldrons in 

Fukushima… And the disaster has yet to end. It continues to recur every day. More than 300 tons of water, contaminated with intense levels of radioactive substances, are being generated every day…

  • 11:30 – The Prime Minister [said Fukushima] had been brought to a close. My reaction on hearing his words was, ‘Stop kidding.’ Reality is, though 4 years have passed, the accident has not yet been brought to a close at all.
  • 15:15 – What is the situation within the core? How much has melted? Where is the fuel exactly? We do not know… This is an accident of a severity that cannot be imagined anywhere else… As you can see, we are facing a very, very difficult situation. The only choice that we have open to us is to somehow keep the situation from getting worse.
  • 30:30 – We are in a very terrible situation, I would even call it a crisis.
  • 55:30 – The Japanese government has issued a declaration that this is an emergency situation. As a result, normal laws do not have to be followed. What they are saying is that, in these very high radiation exposure level areas, they have basically abandoned people to live there. They’ve actually thrown them away to live there… The Cs-137 that’s fallen onto Japanese land in the Tohoku and Kanto regions, so much so that this area should all be put under the radiation control area designation [the Kanto region includes Tokyo and is home to over 40 million people].
  • 1:01:00 – I really do want to impress upon you that the accident effects are continuing.
  • 1:02:00 – Bahrain’s Ambassador to Japan: If you were the Prime Minister of Japan, what are you going to do with this very complicated situation?… Koide: When you have an emergency legally declared, regular laws are put on hold. What that means is people can be thrown away into areas where normally people should not be… The first thing I would do as Prime Minister is evacuate all the children that are in the contaminated areas.
  • Watch Koide’s presentation here

Woods Hole scientist Ken Buesseler, Apr 24, 2015: “The bad news is, the Japanese found, through their own monitoring data, cesium levels weren’t going down in fish. That means they’re getting a source-they’re getting fed more cesium. There are still leaks at the site… There are 300 tons coming out a day… It’s maintaining levels that are high enough to keep fisheries closed… My latest concern is shifting, as the exposure for cesium has gone done [sic] 10,000 times, but it has stayed pretty constant for strontium-90… The U.S. government has failed us because they don’t analyze ocean waters for radioactivity… It’s crazy… Some say we shouldn’t have cesium in the 

fish, but there’s already cesium in the fish [he says while laughing]… Don’t worry about the cesium.”
Deutsche Welle, Apr 9, 2015: Scientists have detected radiation… off the Canadian coast.Experts disagree as to whether the amount detected constitutes a dangerous level or not… [According to scientist Peer van de Rijk]… “There is only one safe level: that is zero level. Every amount is possibly harmful, and it adds up. You can never say that there is a safe dose for radiation.” If cesium-134 and cesium-137 accumulate in the body, this can damage cell structures… radiation is also likely to be measured in other parts of the globe… “Radiation travels with the wind and the ocean. And it’s very possible that it will show up everywhere else in the coming years,” van de Rijk adds.

4. Explosions at a Nuclear Plant in NY

TV: Huge explosion at nuclear plant near NYC — 200 foot fire ball reported — “Huge black ball of smoke… alarms went off immediately… emergency vehicles coming from every direction” — Fire reignited after burning for half an hour — Loudspeaker: “This is not a drill, please be aware, this is not a drill” (VIDEO)

Fox NY, May 9, 2015 (emphasis added): Explosion at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in NY— New York’s Indian Point Nuclear Power Facility… was rocked by an explosion on Saturday.
WPIX, May 9, 2015: Witnesses saw a huge explosion and ensuing smoke and fire… 40 miles north of New York City.

Reuters, May 10, 2015: Fire at transformer lasted 25 minutesSeveral police units responded to the plant after receiving emergency calls from people who heard an explosion and saw smoke… Friday, Entergy returned… Unit 3 back to service after shutting it down the previous day to repair a steam leak… Large transformer explosions or fires are unusual
Kempter’s Fire Wire: @Indian Point… Caller reporting 200 foot fire ball
CBS NY, May 9, 2015: The blaze, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky… A hiker who took a photo of the smoke above Indian Point said he heard alarms and over a loudspeaker a message saying, “This is not a drill.”… “I want to make sure that things work the way they’re supposed to work in this kind of emergency,” the governor said.
CNN, May 9, 2015: “We saw just a huge black ball of smoke right across the river,” witness Gustavus Gricius told CNN. “We could smell the oily, electric burn smell.”… The blast sent the facility into an emergency response situation classified as an “unusual event,” according to [Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi].

Reuters, May 9, 2015: Witnesses… report hearing an explosion followed by large plumes of gray and black smoke billowing from the plant. “It was a huge black ball of smoke and alarms went off immediately” [said] Gustavus Gricius, who was driving past when he heard the explosion.
NY Times, May 9, 2015: Gustavus Gricius… saw “a huge ball of black smoke” rising from the power plant… the sounds and smells of the scene soon made him nervous. “We could hear the paging system from the facility across the river, ‘This is not a drill, please be aware, this is not a drill,’… There was an electrical, oily burning smell. Once we smelled that that’s when we were like, ‘Let’s get out of here.’” Mr. Gricius said that he could hear “fire trucks and emergency vehicles coming from every direction.”
NBC NY, May 10, 2015: The fire started up again after being extinguished but has since been put out, officials said.

5. Electro-Magnet Pollution
Press release from Parents For Safe Technology Website:

Katie Singer

PRLog - March 16, 2015 - Princeton University removed its position statement on wireless safety from their website after concerns were raised that Princeton's information was "outdated and inaccurate". 
Starting in early 2014, a parent, Thea Scarato, wrote the radiation safety officer detailing point by point why the Princeton's website needed to be updated to accurately reflect the state of science on 
health risks from wireless radiation. By August of 2014, Princeton had pulled down all information related to wireless radiation.

The website came to the attention of Scarato after she raised concerns about the safety of the WiFi in her children's elementary school. The Princeton position statement was presented to her as validation that 
wireless networks were "safe".

"I decided to write a letter because decisions impacting my children's health were being made based on Princeton's outdated information. I would hope Princeton now gives this issue the due diligence it 
deserves. Why is Wifi being rolled out when so many scientists are calling for caution around the world?" stated Scarato of her actions.

In February 2014, Scarato first wrote a letter to the Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Princeton University asking that Princeton update the information on wireless. The letter critiqued the 
information on the Princeton website, provided documentation for each point and called the website data "outdated and inaccurate." Scarato noted that the "New" Study was actually from 2007 and did not include the 2011 International Agency for the Research on Cancer's Class 2 B Carcinogen classification nor the growing body of research showing neurological, immune and reproductive damage.

She followed up with several letters and phone calls. Other parents wrote including the National Association for Children and Safe Technology. By August 2014, Princeton had removed the wireless 

The now retracted Princeton Position Statement on Wireless was also used by the National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS) as a reference in their 2014 NAIS Non-Ionizing Radiation: Literature 
Review. NAIS serves over 1,700 schools. Scarato stated that, "I have heard from parents in other states whose children's schools also referenced the outdated Princeton site to support the WiFi rollout. 
Does Princeton realize just how many schools were relying on their site?"

In the final email exchange Princeton staff stated that recent reviews "affirm that RF exposure from WiFi-based devices does not pose a hazard to the general public."

"How can a Class 2 B possible carcinogen that "needs more research" be called safe by Princeton? How could I, as a mother, just ignore the research showing brain damage at levels thousands of times below our governments regulations ? It might take decades to prove -just like asbestos did, but what about the years my children will have been exposed? We won't be able to turn back the clock," stated Scarato 
adding, "If that is their position, then why doesn't Princeton place this safety assurance on their website and provide us with the up-to-date scientific documentation backing such a stance?"

The changes to the Princeton University website are vieweable on the Parents For Safe Technologywebsite which has posted Before/After screen shots and the email exchanges. The website shares information 

on wireless to parents so they can take simple "actionable" steps to increase their children's health and well-being.

Canary in a Coalmine Films

Sunday, May 03, 2015

PNN - the Forest of MAY

PNN - The Forest of May
Brook Hines - Orange Squeeze Commentator
EG Vallianatos - EPA Whisteblower
Kari Birdseye - Earth Justice
Staci-Lee Sherwood - Turtles in Trouble
Representative Alan Grayson -  TPP Analysis

1. Fracking bill passes Florida House over Fierce Democratic Opposition

The Florida House passed its own hydraulic oil fracturing bill on Monday, saying it would provide a framework to regulate the burgeoning industry while Democrats fiercely denounced the proposed law, saying it put out the welcome mat for fracking in environmental sensitive areas such as the Big Cypress Preserve.

The bill  (HB 1205) passed 82-34 along party lines after Democrats said the bill opens the door for widespread fracking – using high-pressured water and chemicals to force oil from deep within the earth – and that the process will poison water and make the state vulnerable to earthquakes, such as Oklahoma has been experiencing.
The Senate’s version of the bill is set for Tuesday’s calendar.

An accompanying House bill  would keep companies from having to disclose the chemicals they use for propriety reasons.
“Instead of regulating fracking, we need to ban fracking,” said Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee. “Our aquifer is so sensitive and our lands are so sensitive that this is not the right answer.”

Democratic leader Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, joked that fracking appears to be the Republicans alternative energy plan, calling it one of the worst bills of the session and referenced gas coming out of water taps in North Dakota where fracturing is taking place.
“Forget about solar, forget about wind, forget about ocean currents and turbines,” he said. “This is a plan that you can cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner at home using that gas coming out of your tap.
He said chemicals that make up toilet bowel cleanser and that are used in leather tanning will be pumped by companies into the ground during the fracking process and could have unintended consequences, such as affecting cattle that will drink polluted water.

Republicans, though, said the law was environmentally friendly, putting in place a regulatory scheme to stop what is the “Wild Wild West” culture of fracking in Florida.

Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Valrico, said  the bill that includes a moratorium on fracking until a study is completed and rules are established. “Fracking is allowed today without the extra regulation presented in this bill,” he said.

Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said he was perplexed while Democrats opposed the bill. “All about this bill is about transparency about regulatory abilities and helping protect our environment,” he said.
Not all Democrats opposed the bill.

Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Sunrise, said there is currently unauthorized fracking in Collier County and that the bill would put an important moratorium in place for a two years. “At least we’d have something in place that taps the brakes,” she said.

Other Republicans said most of the criticism came from counties that didn’t produce any oil.

“I’m proud I was able this morning to fill up with petroleum and I am proud you were able to fly a plane here today,” said Rep. Doug Broxson, R-Milton, adding that the production of oil fracking takes place three miles below the surface while the aquifer stop at 2,500 feet. - BUT IT MUST BE PUMPED THROUGH OUR AQUIFER

After the session, Pafford said he was concerned with the companion bill that was postponed that would allow oil companies to keep secret their chemical mixture. “When you are challenging to get that information you have already been sick. So you have been ingesting it for months, maybe a year,” he said.

But make no mistake, the Florida House is inviting fracking into the state by acknowledging it, not regulating it,” the Democratic House leader said.

“Clearly, this is a move toward fracking,” he said.  “It’s state endorsing the practice as long as you can meet requirements.”

2. BOO BOO our parks going CONDO!
And in Congress while the republican lead house moves quickly to sell off all national parks...
SELL OFF Americas National Parks?

A group of Republican congressmen this week took an aggressive step in a campaign to seize and sell off America’s national forests and other public lands. 
In launching what they are calling the “Federal Land Action Group,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) plan to develop a legislative framework for giving states control of America’s public lands. Calling the federal government a “lousy landlord for western states,” Rep. Stewart said “we simply think the states can do it better.”
Bishop, who is also chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that “this group will explore legal and historical background in order to determine the best congressional action needed to return these lands back to the rightful owners.”

This latest effort to transfer or dispose of national forests and public lands was immediately blasted by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, as being unwise, unpopular, and illegal.
“Building on the ideas of extremists like Cliven Bundy, House Republicans have formed a group to explore the idea that if you see a federal resource you like, maybe you can just take it,” said Grijalva in a statement. “There is no legal authority to give these lands away to developers and no chance the American people will support such a scheme.”
In addition to Bishop and Stewart, the group’s “Congressional team” includes Representatives Mark Amodei (R-NV), Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Cresent Hardy (R-NV), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). Bishop, who has long advocated for state seizure of America’s national forests and other public lands, has recently found more creative ways of pushing his Cliven Bundy-inspired agenda forward.
Earlier this week, Bishop attached a provision to a defense spending bill to delay the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act for at least 10 years. In addition to putting the bird at high risk of extinction, the measure would turn over management authority of 60 million acres of the bird’s habitat on U.S. public lands to individual states — an area 27 times the size Yellowstone National Park. 
In a letter to House leaders, 26 environmental groups called the provision a “brazen power grab of federal lands.”
Rep. Bishop and his “Federal Land Action Group” are not alone in their efforts to seize and sell America’s public lands. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lisa Murkowski, have been vocal proponents of such proposals in the U.S. Senate. Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) also recently introduced the “American Land Act,” which would force the Department of the Interior to sell one-third of the land managed by the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and use the “potentially billions” of dollars in revenue for transportation infrastructure. 
Despite being considered unconstitutional by legal scholars, similar proposals to seize control of America’s public lands have been introduced by right-wing lawmakers in eleven western states — Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Washington. 
Thanks to support from the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and front groups for the oil industry’s PR giant, Richard Berman, as well as increasing lobbying by the Utah-based American Lands Council, these proposals have now gained prominence at the national level. 
Even with the increase in activity, bipartisan public opinion research has shown that Western voters from all political parties oppose these proposals, and believe that transferring control of public lands to state governments would result in reduced access for recreation, and the lands being sold off to the highest bidder to cover extreme costs of management.
Nonetheless, Representatives Bishop and Stewart are moving forward with the Action Group as a “starting point,” and plan to hold a series of forums “with the goal of introducing transfer legislation.” No timeline has been announced for the forums or the group’s next steps.

3. We don't need no stinking science
Yesterday, by a party-line vote, Republicans in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved a budget authorization for NASA that would see continued spending on Orion and the Space Launch System but slash the agency's budget for Earth sciences. 

This vote follows the committee's decision to cut the NSF's geoscience budget and comes after a prominent attack on NASA's Earth sciences work during a Senate hearing, all of which suggests a concerted campaign against the researchers who, among other things, are telling us that climate change is a reality.

The recently approved budget would cover 2016 and 2017, and it contains two scenarios based on the degree to which the overall budget is constrained. 

An analysis of the bill shows that it would keep spending in line with the Obama administration's request but shift money from basic sciences to human exploration. The Orion crewed capsule and Space Launch System rocket would both see an addition of hundreds of millions of dollars. Planetary science would also see a boost of nearly $150 million.

But the love of planets doesn't extend to our own. The added spending is offset by a huge drop in spending on Earth science, from $1.947 billion under Obama's proposal to $1.45 billion under the optimistic budget. If budget constraints kick in, it would drop to $1.2 billion—a cut of nearly 40 percent. Development of space technology would also take a hit of about $125 million.

The committee's press release about the budget claims that the bill is receiving widespread support. Among the groups quoted is the Planetary Society, which is obviously pleased about the boost to its favored area of research. But a check of the Planetary Society's website reveals that it calls the bill"flawed" and states, "Obviously, the cuts to Earth Science make this a hard bill to support, therefore The Planetary Society cannot support the full bill as written at this early stage."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was also not pleased. In a statement released yesterday, he said, "The NASA authorization bill making its way through the House of Representatives guts our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate and our ability to prepare for and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and storm events." He also criticized the cuts to space technology development.

The bill comes a week after the same committee reauthorized the America COMPETES act, which includes funding for the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. As at NASA, geoscience funding takes a hit, down 12 percent at the NSF, with environmental research from the DOE taking a 10 percent hit. There's even worse news for social sciences, which have been targeted by Republicans in both the House and Senate—the NSF would no longer fund any social sciences under the new bill.

It's difficult to escape the impression that the recent budgets are part of a concerted effort to ensure that the country does nothing about addressing climate change. In the Senate, testimony by NASA Administrator Bolden was used by Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as an opportunity to claim that the Earth sciences aren't "hard science" and that NASA's attention would be better focused elsewhere

Meanwhile, the America COMPETES renewal indicates that the House isn't interested in having the country compete in renewable energy. It chops the DOE's renewable/efficiency budget by over half, and it does the same to the ARPA-E advanced energy program.

4. New York Times Editorial - GETS IT RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

More Excuses on the Patriot Act
MAY 1, 2015
Software designers have a term — “minimal viable product” — to describe early versions of things like iPhone apps that they can rush to market. The idea is to get something out and refine it as they go along. That’s the argument being made for a measure in Congress that would modify the Patriot Act to make it somewhat harder for the government to conduct mass surveillance of Americans without regard to whether they committed any misdeeds.
Sure, there are compromises, Americans are told, but we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The bill is a “critical first step toward reining in” surveillance by the National Security Agency and is a basis for more reform, said Human Rights Watch.

Except the Constitution is not Candy Crush.
The same idea — let’s do what we can and improve it later — was used to shove the original Patriot Act through Congress. It was used to justify the inadequate changes later made to the act, many of which made it more intrusive on Americans’ rights. In 2008, we got a “reform” of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that provided retroactive cover for the illegal surveillance of innocent Americans conducted under President George W. Bush behind the false flag of counterterrorism.
The new bill, the USA Freedom Act, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday in a 25-to-2 vote and sent to the floor for what seems like near-certain approval. 

It does contain useful changes to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was cynically misinterpreted by the Bush administration to cover the collection of millions of telephone records in the United States and elsewhere. Section 215 will expire on June 1 if Congress does not act, but that is unlikely.


WASHINGTON — The leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reining in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign, which could generate a record $10 billion in spending.

“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”

Her unusually frank assessment reflects a worsening stalemate among the agency’s six commissioners. They are perpetually locked in 3-to-3 ties along party lines on key votes because of a fundamental disagreement over the mandate of the commission, which was created 40 years ago in response to the political corruption of Watergate.
Some commissioners are barely on speaking terms, cross-aisle negotiations are infrequent, and with no consensus on which rules to enforce, the caseload against violators has plummeted.

The F.E.C.’s paralysis comes at a particularly critical time because of the sea change brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, which freed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates. Billionaire donors and “super PACs” are already gaining an outsize role in the 2016 campaign, and the lines have become increasingly stretched and blurred over what presidential candidates and political groups are allowed to do.

Watchdog groups have gone to the F.E.C. with complaints that probable presidential candidates like Jeb Bush and Martin O’Malley are skirting finance laws by raising millions without officially declaring that they are considering running.

Ms. Ravel, who led California’s state ethics panel before her appointment as a Democratic member of the commission in 2013, said that when she became chairwoman in December, she was determined to “bridge the partisan gap” and see that the F.E.C. confronted such problems. But after five months, she said she had essentially abandoned efforts to work out agreements on what she saw as much-needed enforcement measures.

Now, she said, she plans on concentrating on getting information out publicly, rather than continuing what she sees as a futile attempt to take action against major violations. She said she was resigned to the fact that “there is not going to be any real enforcement” in the coming election.

“The few rules that are left, people feel free to ignore,” said Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner.

Republican members of the commission see no such crisis. They say they are comfortable with how things are working under the structure that gives each party three votes. No action at all, they say, is better than overly aggressive steps that could chill political speech.

“Congress set this place up to gridlock,” Lee E. Goodman, a Republican commissioner, said in an interview. “This agency is functioning as Congress intended. The democracy isn’t collapsing around us.”

Experts predict that the 2016 race could produce a record fund-raising haul of as much as $10 billion, with the growth fueled by well-financed outside groups. On their own, the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch have promised to spend $889 million through their political network.

With the rise of the super PACs and the loosening of legal restrictions on corporate spending, campaigns and groups are turning to creative new methods of raising money. Writing in March in The Washington Post, Ms. Ravel charged that some candidates — she did not name names — appeared to have been amassing large war chests at fund-raisers this year without acknowledging that they were at least considering a presidential run, which would trigger campaign finance limits and disclosure.
She said it was “absurd” to think that such politicians were not at least considering a White House run under federal law.

“It’s the Wild West out there in some ways,” said Kate A. Belinski, a former lawyer at the commission who now works on campaign finance at a law firm. Candidates and political groups are increasingly willing to push the limits, she said, and the F.E.C.’s inaction means that “there’s very little threat of getting caught.”

As a lawyer in Silicon Valley who went after ethics violators in California during her time there, Ms. Ravel brought to Washington both a reformer’s mentality and a tech-savvy background, and she has used Twitter and other media to try to attract young people and women to politics.

But her aggressive efforts have angered some Republicans, who charged that an F.E.C. hearing she scheduled for next week on challenges facing women in politics was not only outside the commission’s jurisdiction but a thinly veiled attempt to help the presidential bid of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ms. Ravel called the accusations “crazy.”

Some disputes between the commissioners have gotten personal.

A disagreement over how to treat online political ads, for instance, turned tense when Ms. Ravel received anonymous online threats over charges that she was trying to “regulate” the Internet. She angrily confronted Mr. Goodman, charging that he had unfairly “fanned the flames” against her by mischaracterizing her position in an interview he did on Fox News. But Mr. Goodman said he had no regrets about challenging her position, which he saw as opening the door to greater regulation of Internet activities.

Relations between the two have been difficult ever since.

Last fall, Ms. Ravel did join Republicans on the commission — and took some criticism from the left — in a 4-to-2 decision that eased rules growing out of the Citizens United decision and a related case. But she has had little success in persuading Republicans to vote with her on enforcement measures.

She said she was particularly frustrated that Republican commissioners would not support cases against four nonprofit groups — including Crossroads GPS, founded by Karl Rove — accused of improperly using their tax-exempt status for massive and well-financed political campaigns.

A surge in this so-called “dark money” in politics — hundreds of millions of dollars raised by nonprofits, trade associations and other groups that can keep their donations secret — has alarmed campaign-finance reformers who are pushing to make such funding public.
But Mr. Goodman said the problem was exaggerated. He and other Republicans defend their decisions to block many investigations, saying Democrats have pushed cases beyond what the law allows.

“We’re not interested in going after people unless the law is fairly clear, and we’re not willing to take the law beyond where it’s written,” said Caroline C. Hunter, a Republican commissioner. Democrats view the law “more broadly,” she said.

The commission has not always been so hamstrung. In 2006, it unanimously imposed major fines against high-profile groups — liberal and conservative — for breaking campaign finance laws two years earlier by misusing their tax-exempt status for political fund-raising and campaigning. The penalties put political groups on notice, and experts credited them with helping curb similar abuses in the 2008 campaign.

These days, the six commissioners hardly ever rule unanimously on major cases, or even on some of the most minor matters. Last month at an event commemorating the commission’s 40th anniversary, even the ceremony proved controversial. Democrats and Republicans skirmished over where to hold it, whom to include and even whether to serve bagels or doughnuts. In a rare compromise, they ended up serving both.

Standing in front of a montage of photos from the F.E.C.’s history, Ms. Ravel told staff members and guests that there was a “crisis” in public confidence, and she stressed the F.E.C.’s mandate for “enforcing the law.” But the ranking Republican, Matthew S. Petersen, made no mention of enforcement in his remarks a few minutes later, focusing instead on defending political speech under the First Amendment.

As guests mingled, Ms. Weintraub — the commission’s longest-serving member at 12 years — lamented to a reporter that the days when the panel could work together on important issues were essentially over.

She pointed to a former Republican commissioner standing nearby — Bradley A. Smith, who left the agency in 2005 — and said she used to be able to work with commissioners like him even when they disagreed on ideology.

Laughing, Mr. Smith assumed a fighting stance and yelled at Ms. Weintraub: “Let’s go right now, you speech-hating enemy of the First Amendment!”

A few feet away, Mr. Goodman was not laughing. As Ms. Weintraub condemned the F.E.C.’s inertia, he whispered a point-by-point rebuttal to show that things were not as bad as she made them sound.

With the commission so often deadlocked, the major fines assessed by the commission dropped precipitously last year to $135,813 from $627,408 in 2013. But like most things at the F.E.C., commissioners differ over how to interpret those numbers.

Republicans say they believe the commission’s efforts to work with political groups on training and compliance have kept campaigns within the legal lines and helped to bring down fines.

The drop in fines “could easily be read as a signal that people are following the law,” said Ms. Hunter, the Republican commissioner.  Ms. Ravel scoffed at that explanation.

“What’s really going on,” she said, “is that the Republican commissioners don’t want to enforce the law, except in the most obvious cases. The rules aren’t being followed, and that’s destructive to the political process.”


PNN News Director Rick Spisak brings you an interested assemblage of voices. 

Our Political Columnist Brook Hines will discuss her take on the latest MONKEY-SHINES in Tallahassee.

We will bring you an exclusive interview with Kari Birdseye Campaign Manager of Earth Justice discussing the battles they have underway protecting our home PLANET.
We will hear from Staci-Lee Sherwood Turtle Activist discussing the Trouble facing turtles today!

And in a rare and special treat we will have a discussion with EPA Whistleblower EG Vallianatos about his experiences at the EPA.

Tune in Sunday at 7pm (Eastern)

Interviewed EG Vallianatos EPA Whistleblower and author of POISONED SPRING - today for Sundays show his indictment of EPA leadership is powerful - you must hear it - TUNE IN Sunday 5/3/15 at 7pm (eastern) - LISTEN

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Don't Frack me BRO

PNN 4/19 - Don't Frack me BRO

7:01 - 7:09 - RWS
7:10 - 7:16 - UNSUNG
7:17 - 7:30 - Mark Pafford
7:30 - 8pm - Brook Hines
8:01 - 8:21pm - Karen Dwyer
8:22 - 8:38pm - Jennifer Hecker
8:39 - 9:00pm - Richard Silvestri 

1. GYRO vs  BURNIN UP - either way... Unmentionable
When 64 yr old Vietnam Vet John Constantino burned himself to death on the DC Mall in October of 2013 I couldn’t stop thinking about this man and his act. Who was he? What compelled him? What was his life’s story? What were his political views, his life’s station, etc?  I wanted to write a blog then but didn’t. “Tax The 1%”
The police captain on the scene who addressed the news cameras eerily avoided the question, mumbling that it was “something about social justice,” as if he were annoyed to address any specifics. So, we know nothing else. Not even a name was given. A dog run over by car might have gotten more respect and news coverage than this unknown man.
What kind of a society have we become? A man decides to commit suicide as an act of political courage, and is dismissed by both the police and media as unworthy of further examination?
When a man in Tunisia set himself on fire in protest of the draconian taxation and intimidating police enforcement of the state (not unlike in Ferguson and most American racially and financially-motivated policing toward Black Americans) it led to the Arab Spring.
How would Americans react if these stories were given a full airing on the news?How many could relate to the sheer despair, his plea in addressing squarely the plight of economic inequality, or the implicit message that our present an economic system has a savage inhumanity as its core feature, and that feature grinds people down in the most undignified of ways and that the rich must stop gaming the system and pay their fair share? Our media chose to look the other way in speculation about any of these salient truths.
 It is not unclear that these two men brought their grievances to DC and in spectacular fashion attempted to connect with our deepest consciences.  
John Constantino was a 64 yr old Vietnam Veteran living in Mount Laurel, N.J. when he came to DC to kill himself. His family declined to comment, choosing instead to release a stiff statement through a lawyer saying only that he had mental problems, as if that would suffice to explain his planned act away.  
Of these issues the two addressed we continue to bury our heads in the sand about. Wall St gets bigger and more intoxicated with greed and power. Their omnipresence exerts a dark cloud over all of our lives with respect to pretty much every facet of our lives, including student loans, consumer debt, fortified positions in the real estate and financial markets, and the fact that our electoral politics are officially an auction completely hijacked by their unopposed position as the highest bidders. Now we have the ostentatious spectacle HRC’s Presidency, already anointed by the Power Elite brokers. The whole charade is a mockery to anyone with a sense of morality, dignity and righteousness. This is not democracy. It’s plutocracy. The man with the Tax the 1% sign was saying something most people deeply resonate with: the current system of unbridled capitalism, concentrating wealth in the hands of the very few, is manifestly unfair and is destroying the lives of too many.

2. Fracking Bills Action Required
Fracking regulation bills have moved through the House and Senate in a manner we could not predict!  

That's why Jim and I wrote this article.  
Anyone that understands what fracking is would be opposed to it in Florida. Anyone else supporting it is benefiting from our vulnerable natural resources.

This is a dire statewide issue for Florida's water and must be stopped with solidarity on all water fronts throughout the state. 

Please consider, while it may not happen directly underneath the ground we stand on, it will happen underneath the ground our neighbors live on, unless we can stop it now before it gets rooted through regulations. And we all know, under us is our water, all of our fresh water supply.

Senator Richter, bill sponsor, has been saying that we cannot stop technology, we must regulate it.  Not true, we can stop a technology that has been known to cause harm throughout the world; there is no such thing as safe fracking.  We already have laws, rules and mandates in place that protect our water and land resources and we will use them until fracking is banned outright in Florida.  Clean Water act of 1972, Florida Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act (United States). 

Last committee meeting (  Government Appropriations)   is on Tuesday to make a decision on whether or not fracking regulations should move forward and be voted on by the entire Senate (and House).

I will be there, will you stand with me, stop regulations and work to ban fracking outright in Florida.

Sign the petition and make phone calls or write emails.

 Call additional influential people on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Meeting on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 in Tallahassee.

SW Florida Conservancy

Congress just introduced a troubling "fast track" bill that would trade away clean air and water while increasing gas exports and fracking. Under fast track, environmentally destructive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are rushed through Congress with no oversight or accountability.
We've been down this road before. More than 20 years ago, Congress fast-tracked the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).1 The climate impact of NAFTA has been enormous -- it empowered corporate polluters to challenge environmental protections, boosted destructive mining in Mexico, and contributed to the rise of Canada's toxic tar sands industry. The TPP represents more of the same.
The TPP is often referred to as "NAFTA on steroids." This massive trade pact, being negotiated behind closed doors by a dozen countries, would cover roughly 40 percent of the world's economy. The climate impact of an agreement this large cannot be underestimated.
If approved, the agreement would open the floodgates to even more fracking

Just today, a bill was introduced in Congress that would fast track the approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — attempting to further limit public input on this massive, pro-big business trade deal. 

The TPP is being called NAFTA on steroids and has been negotiated in secret since 2008 among some of the world's most powerful corporations. But leaked documents have revealed just how terrible this trade deal is, including a key provision that would allow companies to sue local governments over democratically enacted laws that they claim hurt their profits.¹ 

That means that if the TPP goes through, local initiatives like GMO labeling laws and fracking bans could be challenged in international trade courts. 

Pro-big business trade deals like the TPP are designed to boost the profits of multinational corporations, but they do so at the expense of the working class, our environment and our democratic rights. And while Big Business and Wall Street banks have been writing the deal behind closed doors, our elected representatives and the public have been shut out.

4. Adoption Restrictions too!

Hi everybody! In another shocking turn of events the Senate has decided to hear the Indiana-style Adoption Discrimination bill after all Monday at 1PM in Senate Rules

While it is true that the House and Senate have now both passed a bill repealing the 1977 ban on gay adoption (a bill that still has not been signed by the governor), anti-gay extremists now view this bill as an opportunity to reintroduce discrimination into the adoption process.

Please help us call and email Senators on the list below. They are getting pressured by their base to support this measure. If passed, even with the repeal of the gay adoption ban which has not been enforced since 2010, our child welfare crisis will get worse at the expense of Florida’s vulnerable children. ‘


Carlos Guillermo Smith
Public Policy Specialist
404-934-4944 mobile

5. Hilary the Newly Patented POPULIST
NEW & IMPROVED - What's Warren thinking?
Politico talked to some of Hillary’s “former” constituents on Wall Street about the “populist” rhetoric now coming from the former Senator from New York. Hillary has even gone so far as to praise Wall Street’s main nemesis, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as a “progressive champion.” But Wall Street isn’t worried. They know she’s just saying what she needs to say to get elected.  - WHO WHAT WHY


6 POLLUTED RACISM - They told Prof. Tyrone Hayes
Its just that Minorities tend to choose economically blighted areas to LIVE!

7. BRAIN's CHEAP & POOR and oh yeah under nourished under stimulated and culturally poor too 
Why do poorer children consistently lag behind their richer peers? Neuroscientists studying the achievement gap found that the brains of children in families earning less than $25,000 per year had surface areas 6% percent smaller than those whose families earned $150,000 or more. They scored lower on cognitive tests, too. So, instead of blaming “failed teachers” and “failed schools,” maybe it’s time to blame afailed economic system that denies the poor kids basic requirements necessary for proper physical development and growth.

show their sacred places to uncle sam

9. BP LIES - Activists Tied
Cherri Foytlin and other New Orleanians and other activists go to BP HQ in Houston and are arrested

too dangerous for ROBOTS!
via Japan Times / April 11, 2015 / A remote-controlled robot inserted to survey the inside of the No. 1 reactor at the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has stopped functioning, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
As a first step in the utility’s effort to remove melted nuclear fuel from the bottom of the unit’s primary containment vessel, the shape-shifting robot was sent in Friday morning to find the exact location of the highly radioactive debris.
Set to cover some 20 meters of the first floor on the first day, the robot began its trip at around 11:20 a.m. but halted at around 2:10 p.m. after completing two-thirds of the route, Tepco said.
The utility said footage from the robot’s camera shows it passed an opening leading to the vessel’s basement, where the molten fuel is believed to have ended up after the core meltdowns occurred after the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

11. West Coast Fisheries Closed

NY Times, Apr 15, 2015 (emphasis added): [Regulators] approved an emergency closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California… Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season… [R]evised estimates of sardine populations… found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed… [Stocks are] much lower than estimated last year… The reasons are not well-understood.
Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, April 13, 2015: Ben Enticknap, Oceana senior scientist (1:08:00 in) — “We’ve seen a significant change in recruitment [Recruitment: The number of new young fish that enter a population]. There’s been practically no recruitment in recent years, and this was not expected.”
Undercurrent News, Apr 14, 2015: [A]ccording to the report on the emergency action from the PFMC… “the total stock biomass of Pacific sardine is declining as a result of poor recruitment“… [A California Wetfish Producers Association official said] “little recruitment was observed in 2011-2014.”
Oregonian, Apr 13, 2015: Pacific coast sardines are facing a population collapse so severe[fishing] will be shut down… [The] downward spiral in spite of favorable water conditions has ocean-watchers worried there’s more to this collapse than cyclical population trends. “There are a lot of weird things happening out there, and we’re not quite sure why they aren’t responding the way they should,” said Kevin Hill, a NOAA Fisheries biologist… Fishery managers are adding it to a list of baffling circumstances off the West Coast… NOAA surveys indicate very few juvenile fish made it through their first year. “The population isn’t replacing itself,” Hill said.
SFist, Apr 14, 2015: [T]he population appears decimated… As the Council writes, “temperatures in the Southern California Bight have risen in the past two years, but we haven’t seen an increase in young sardines”… Sardines typically spawn in warmer waters, with cold water decreasing their numbers.
SF Chronicle, Apr 14, 2015: Sardine population collapses… [There's] evidence stocks are going through the same kind of collapse [seen in the 1950s]… The sardine population along the West Coast has collapsed… Causes of crisis — A lack of spawning… was blamed for the decline… Severedownturn… things recently took a turn for the worse… because of a lack of spawning due to poor ocean conditions in 2014… The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies… have also declined [due to] a lack of zooplankton… Record numbers of starving sea lions… Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead… Strange diseases have also been proliferating in the sea…
Monterey Herald, Apr 13, 2015: For the first time in 30 years [sardine fishing] will be banned.
KPCC, Apr 1, 2015: The first time that sardine fishing has been banned since federal management of the fishery began… Many are worried a… catastrophic crash is happening.

TUNE IN Sunday at 7pm (Eastern)
Listen in as PNN's News Director Rick Spisak brings you the latest FRACKING FACTS direct from the leaders of the ANTI-FRACKING ACTIVISTS fighting to protect our water resources. While the legislature is distracted cashing checks, and the regulators charged with protecting our water are asleep at the switch.
Mark Pafford D. Minority Leader [District 86]  in the Florida House give us his Legislative report with two weeks remaining in the session
Jennifer Hecker Director of Natural Resource Policy of the Conservency of Southwest Florida  gives us a Legislative Update
Dr. Karen Dwyer of the StoneCrab Alliance gives the news about the SETBACK at the Collier County Commission - PROTESTORS SILENCED
Richard Silvestri VP of the Treasure Coast Progressive Alliance talks about the GRASSROOTS response to inattentive Legislators and Sonambulistic regulators, who never saw a spill that could worry them or a polluter that deserved a serious looking into.
A special appearance of Brook Hines who will give us her Report and Tallahassee Update
Tune in Sunday at 7pm

E.G. VILLIANATOS Author of Poisoned Spring

Sunday, April 12, 2015

PNN No April Fool/n

PNN 4-12-15
Emine Dilek
Denis Campbell
Wendy Lynn Lee

0.  John Oliver  - the publics idea of a Privacy Debate (The Dick Pic Debate)

1. Fracking Far Out
New Federal Fracking Rules Rely on FracFocus Even as EPA Research Highlights Site's Flaws

It's a classic case of the government's left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Days after the Bureau of Land Management issued new federal rules for fracking on federal land, relying heavily on an industry-run site called FracFocus, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a study mainly noteworthy for the shortcomings of the site that it revealed.
More than 70 percent of the chemical disclosure statements that drillers posted on FracFocus between January 2011 and February 2013 were missing key information because drillers labeled that data “confidential business information,” the EPA reported.

On average, drillers reported using a mix of 14 different chemicals at each well site. At sites where information was withheld, an average of five chemicals were not named.

In fact, FracFocus allowed drillers to conceal the identity of more than one out of every ten chemicals whose use was “disclosed” on the site, EPA researchers found.

This made it impossible for EPA's researchers, who received over 39,000 disclosure statements from FracFocus in March 2013 and published their study two years later, to definitively say what chemicals drillers used most often, how much of each chemical was injected underground, or even to simply create a list of all the chemicals used at the wells.

“The project database is an incomplete picture of all hydraulic fracturing due to … the omission of information on CBI [confidential business information] ingredients from disclosures, and invalid or erroneous information created during the development of the database or found in the original disclosures,” EPA noted in a fact sheet about the research.

All told, the EPA was able to identify 692 different chemicals — including hydrochloric acid, methanol and diesel fuel — that were used during fracking. But that number is almost certainly incomplete, EPA researchers said, in part because over 129,000 individual ingredient records were labeled secret.
The gaps immediately drew the ire of environmental groups.

“The fracking industry is hiding a lot of information about the chemicals they are using in our communities,” Kate Kiely, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg. “Even without that information, it is clear that there is widespread use of dangerous chemicals.”

Just seven days before EPA's results were released, the Bureau of Land Management announced new rules intended to manage fracking on over 247 million acres of public land managed by the federal government and the 700 million acres for which the government owned mineral rights as of 2013.
The BLM's newly-minted chemical disclosure rules are built around FracFocus, allowing drillers to make required reports through the industry-backed website.
Data, data, everywhere…

EPA researchers ran up against a major stumbling block in crunching numbers based on FracFocus' data, an issue that some warn may continue to cause problems even as the Bureau of Land Management adopts FracFocus as the mechanism for tracking fracking chemicals used on federal public lands.
FracFocus stored the information drillers provided in separate .pdf files for each disclosure, and every .pdf form can be different if drillers decide to edit the formatting. This meant that EPA researchers needed to spend enormous amounts of time simply transferring each bit of information into a spreadsheet, and then going back and making sure that each bit of information was in the proper place.

Some open-government advocates say that the BLM's reliance on FracFocus runs contrary to an executive order issued by President Obama that pledged to make data from the government “easy to find, accessible, and usable” by requiring it to be “machine-readable” — essentially in a format that lets researchers access it.

“Besides the fact that this decision flouts the President’s own Executive Order #13642 on Open Data, why are we so concerned about how the government manages fracking data?” David Manthos, Communications Director of the environmental organization SkyTruth wrote in a blog posting about the BLMrules. “The reason is because this decision will deprive property and homeowners, scientists, decision-makers, emergency responders, healthcare professionals, and the general public of effective access to information that is vital to investigating the environmental, social, and public health impacts of modern oil and gas drilling.”

FracFocus has promised to upgrade its site, having already done so once since it provided EPA researchers with the raw materials for their study. But SkyTruth's Manthos remains skeptical.

“I'm concerned that BLM is basing their decision on vague promises, and will have no leverage or authority to control the timetable, implementation, or functionality of these improvements,” he said.

For a while, Mr. Manthos' organization tackled the tedious task of scraping data from the FracFocus site and importing it into spreadsheets so researchers could use it. But in 2013, their work came to an abrupt halt when FracFocus froze SkyTruth's access to the site.

“There was a little error message that was coming out saying, ‘Hey, you’re sending too many requests. You’re being blocked for 24 hours,’” SkyTruth's Paul Woods explained to StateImpact last year. “Then, they block you for 48 hours and then they block you forever.”

SkyTruth is not the only organization to find fault with FracFocus. In 2013, astudy published by Harvard University's Environmental Law Program gave the site a failing grade, noting that it “has limited quality assurance procedures” because “FracFocus staff does not review submissions” uploaded by drillers.
The BLM's new rules also allow drillers, not regulators, to decide when a chemical should be considered secret as they upload their disclosures to FracFocus.

“These trade secret provisions are much weaker than many states and ignore the advice of a Department of Energy advisory panel which unanimously recommended that 'any trade secret exemptions permitted by BLM in its regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands include a rigorous process of claiming trade secret exemptions and robust trade secret verification and challenge mechanisms,'” the NRDC's Amy Mall wrote in response to the new rules.

The relative laxity of the BLM's new rules has done little to deter protest from the oil and gas industry, who see the rules as chipping away at state-level oversight of the shale drilling rush.

“Under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened up a new era of energy security, job growth, and economic strength,” API Director Erik Milito said in a statement. “A duplicative layer of new federal regulation is unnecessary, and we urge theBLM to work carefully with the states to minimize costs and delays created by the new rule to ensure that public lands can still be a source of job creation and economic growth.”

Already, battles over the BLM's new rules are headed into the courthouse.
Two industry groups, the Independent Petroleum Association for America and the Western Energy Alliance, have filed lawsuits claiming that the BLM's rules overreach federal authority, as has the state of Wyoming. Environmental organizations have suggested that the rules could also be vulnerable to a challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“The bottom line is,” the NRDC's Amy Mall told The Dallas Morning News, “these rules fail to protect the nation’s public lands — home to our last wild places, and sources of drinking water for millions of people.”

2. RoundUp invasive & Ubiquidous
Reuters) - 
U.S. consumer groups, scientists and food companies are testing substances ranging from breakfast cereal to breast milk for residues of the world's most widely used herbicide on rising concerns over its possible links to disease.
The focus is on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Testing has increased in the last two years, but scientists say requests spiked after a World Health Organization research unit said last month it was classifying glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

"The requests keep coming in," said Ben Winkler, laboratory manager at Microbe Inotech Laboratories in St. Louis. The commercial lab has received three to four requests a week to test foods and other substances for glyphosate residues. In prior years, it received only three to four requests annually, according to its records.

"Some people want to stay out in front of this. Nobody knows what it means yet, but a lot of people are testing," said Winkler.

Microbe has handled recent requests for glyphosate residue testing from small food companies, an advocacy group testing baby formula and a group of doctors who want to test patients' urine for glyphosate residues, said Winkler. The firms and doctors do not want their identities published.

Abraxis LLC, a Warminster, Pennsylvania-based diagnostics company, has also seen a "measurable increase" in glyphosate testing, said Abraxis partner Dave Deardorff.

Monsanto Co, the maker of Roundup, on April 1 posted a blog seeking to reassure consumers and others about glyphosate residues.
"According to physicians and other food safety experts, the mere presence of a chemical itself is not a human health hazard. It is the amount, or dose, that matters," Monsanto senior toxicologist Kimberly Hodge-Bell said in the blog. Trace amounts are not unsafe, she stated.

Company spokeswoman Charla Lord said last week that further questions could be directed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There are numerous studies that have determined glyphosate to be safe, but several others have linked it to human health ailments. Critics say they fear that glyphosate is so pervasive in the environment that extended exposure even to trace amounts can be harmful.

Tests by Abraxis found glyphosate residues in 41 of 69 honey samples and in 10 of 28 soy sauces; Microbe tests detected glyphosate in three of 18 breast milk samples and in six of 40 infant formula samples.
North Dakota State University agronomist Joel Ransom reported to the U.S. Wheat Quality Council in February that tests he ordered showed traces of glyphosate in several U.S. and Canadian flour samples.

4. Citizen Empowerment - Needs your help - Click to endorse

5. Chelsea Manning thanks you for your support
Amnesty International has shared Chelsea Manning’s thank you note to them- and to all her supporters who have taken action:
I wanted to thank all of you so very much for your actions of support and solidarity.
I understand that over 200,000 actions were taken – that’s absolutely incredible!
...My days here are busy and very routine. I work at a vocational wood shop during the week – about the same number of hours as a full-time job. I am taking college correspondence courses for a bachelor’s degree...
Click here to read more of Chelsea Manning's thank you!
With Warm Regards,

6. Vancouver Oil Spill Shows Why Trans Mountain Pipeline Should Not Be Built
British Columbian officials on Friday criticized the Canadian government's response to an oil spill in the waters around Vancouver, calling into question plans for new crude oil export pipelines in the Pacific Coast province.
Nearly 3,000 liters of oil spilled after an anchored bulk carrier began leaking bunker fuel in English Bay, just west of Vancouver's downtown core, on Wednesday.

Officials in the province said the coast guard responded but was slow to contain the slick, which spread towards beaches. They said the federal agency failed to notify the cities of Vancouver and West Vancouver until early Thursday, delaying public safety warnings by more than 12 hours.

"It took them six hours to get booms in place ... in the busiest port in Canada where they have all the resources," British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark told reporters.

"There will not be any expansion of heavy oil movement out of this port or any other port in British Columbia until we get world-class spill response, period."
Federal Industry Minister James Moore said it was "highly inappropriate" to criticize the response while the clean-up was unfinished.

Canadian regulators are weighing Kinder Morgan's plan to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver, which would dramatically increase the number of oil tankers traveling through the Burrard Inlet each month.
The project is opposed by environmental groups and some residents, who worry about the impact of a major spill.

A separate pipeline to carry crude from the Alberta oil sands to a port in northern British Columbia has been conditionally approved by federal regulators, though the province says the project has not yet met their standards.

The perception that the federal government bungled the spill response could prove politically damaging for the ruling Conservatives, who had hoped to make inroads in British Columbia in a federal election later this year.
A senior Canadian Coast Guard official said the agency did not initially realize how serious the spill was. Once it saw the magnitude, via aerial views, it took 3 -1/2 hours to place the booms.

"You don't contain 80 percent of a spill inside 36 hours and call that inadequate. I will not accept that definition," Roger Girouard said at a news conference.
The owners of the MV Marathassa, which was in Vancouver to pick up grain, will be on the hook for clean-up costs, the province said.

7. Drilling Company Owner Gets 28 Months In Prison For Dumping Fracking Waste Into River

The owner of a small Ohio oil and gas drilling company who ordered his employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River was sentenced to 28 months of prison on Tuesday, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer report.

U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent also ordered 64-year-old Benedict Lupo, owner of Hardrock Excavating LLC, to pay $25,000 for unlawful discharge of pollutants under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Lupo pleaded guilty to the charges in March, admitting to having his employees dump fracking wastewater into the Mahoning River tributary 33 times.

According to the Dealer, the wastewaster consisted of “saltwater brine and a slurry of toxic oil-based drilling mud, containing benzene, toluene and other hazardous pollutants.” The recurring pollution had a devastating effect on the creek’s ecosystem, according to assistant U.S. attorney Brad Beeson.

“Even the most pollution-tolerant organisms, such as nymphs and cadis flies, were not present,” Beeson said in a court document. “The creek was essentially dead.”

The pollution ultimately flowed into the Mahoning River, which is a source of public drinking water for the cities of Newton Falls and Sebring — a combined population of more than 9,000.

Lupo has publicly apologized to both residents of the Mahoning Valley and his family for the dumping, citing his deteriorating health as a reason for his actions. He suffers from chronic pain and diabetes, and has to have dialysis treatments daily, according to the Dealer.

“If this was 20 years ago, [the dumping] probably would have never happened,” Lupo said.

Lupo’s attorneys attempted to get Lupo out of his prison sentence because of his health, and instead put him on home detention, saying jail would be equivalent to “the death penalty.” But Nugent would not reconsider, citing the fact that Lupo had instructed his employees to lie about dumping the waste.

“Ben Lupo put his own interests ahead of everyone else’s, and he deserved to face a severe penalty for his actions,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “The recent water crisis in Toledo is a grave reminder of how important it is to protect our waterways.”

While it looks like Lupo will be going to prison, owners of big companies responsible for pollution rarely see jail time. BP CEO Tony Hayward isn’t facing jail time for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nor is Shell’s CEO being personally prosecuted for the estimated 550 million gallons that have spilled in Nigeria’s Niger Delta over the past 50 years. That’s because it’s difficult in court to determine individual responsibility.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, out of thousands of cases opened since 1990, fewer than 800 Clean Air Act cases have led to fines or prison time. Almost twice as many Clean Water Act cases have been opened, and twice as many have resulted in fines or prison time.

8. Don't FRACK YOU, Don't Frack me - FRACK the Guy behind the Tree

Florida will be the next fracking state if the oil and gas industry get their way and have their carefully crafted, FDEP endorsed, legislative bills become law this session. SB 1468 and SB 1582, regulations on fracking laws.

The BAN fracking bills will have to wait till next session as the Senate and House denied them to be heard in committee this session.  

With all of your help, we are hoping for a groundswell rising to STOP oil and gas extraction by means of hydraulic and/or acid fracturing and extreme well stimulation in 2016.  This type of extraction is NOT conventional drilling.

It is a slippery slope to put in place regulatory bills on fracturing when we, in Florida, really need to ban the practice outright. While, there are no regulations whatsoever at this moment, the question the legislators are answering for the constituents is  whether to put these bad bills into law and have some regulations verse no regulations? These laws are useless for protection of our water supply, they are ripe with confidentiality in favor of the industry.  

I have attended many meetings during the past few weeks and I am here to say there are many more questions than answers and they are moving these bills forward anyway.  Our question is why not wait one more year to work to BAN it outright?  

The only amendment that is acceptable is to have a moratorium and a 3 year study must be added to SB 1468. 

Here is the latest action that we need your help with in Tallahassee. Please call, write or attend the meeting (we do not know the date and time, yet).

For the love of all of north Florida, when this thing comes, they will not be coming to cities, they will target rural areas, go miles deep and wide and risk our quality of life (noise, traffic, air pollution, 24/7) and our Floridan aquifer, our drinking water and our water for our natural systems.

EPA reports:  30,000 up to 7.2 million gallons per frack job, wastewater is contaminated forever, 692 unique chemicals such as additives, base fluids, proppants and kerosene, methanol and hydrochloric acid are used in this process and the industry has been known to withhold chemical names as a result of propriety and confidentiality. SB 1582 is written with secrecy inherent in it.

Thanks for all you do to protect Florida's waters of the state. 

9. Fuke Radiation detected on the shore of British Columbia
VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) - Radiation from the leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor has been detected on the shores of Vancouver Island, four years after a deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed 16,000 people.

University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen said Monday that it's the first time radiation has been found on the shorelines of North America since the quake and tsunami ravaged the Japanese north coast and disabled the nuclear reactor.

Low levels of the radioactive isotope Cesium-134, which scientists say can only come from Fukushima, were found in waters collected on Feb. 19 off a dock at Ucluelet, British Columbia, about 195 miles west of Victoria, Cullen said.

Last November, the first sample containing detectable radioactivity from Fukushima was discovered about 90 miles off the coast of northern California.

Over the past 15 months, scientists and citizen volunteers have been collecting water samples at more than 60 sites along the Canadian and U.S. west coasts and in Hawaii as they've looked for traces of radioactive isotopes from Japan.
"This is the first sample that's been collected in North America with this contaminated plume of sea water, which we've seen offshore, but it's the first time we've actually seen it at the shoreline," Cullen said.

He said the arrival of radioactive water on North American shores from Japan was expected this year. The distance from Japan to Ucluelet is more than 4,700 miles.

"The levels we are seeing are so low that we don't expect there to be impacts on the health of either the marine environment or people living along the coast," Cullen said.

"We're more than a thousand-fold below even the drinking water standard in the coastal waters being sampled at this point. Those levels are much, much, much lower than what's allowable in our drinking water."
Cullen said in a statement that if a person swam for six hours each day in water with Cesium levels twice as high as those found in Ucluelet, they'd receive a radiation dose that is more than 1,000 times less than that of a single dental X-ray.
Since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear disaster, there has been widespread concern about the potential danger posed by radioactivity from Japan crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Cullen leads a marine radioactivity monitoring network formed last August that includes scientists in Canada and the U.S., health experts, non-governmental organizations and citizens who help collect samples along the Pacific coast.
The InFORM Network, or Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring, received $630,000 in federal funds for three years through the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network.

Research partners in the network include Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, Health Canada, the University of Ottawa, the University of British Columbia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

10. Pakistan court says former CIA station chief will face charges over drone strike
The former head of the CIA in Pakistan should be tried for murder and waging war against the country, a high court judge ruled on Tuesday.

Criminal charges against Jonathan Banks, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, were ordered in relation to a December 2009 attack by a US drone which reportedly killed at least three people.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad high court also ruled charges should be brought against John A Rizzo, formerly the top CIA lawyer who gave the legal green light for drone strikes.

Banks’s name was first dragged into the public domain in 2010 when a tribesman called Karim Khan began legal action against the supposedly undercover spy chief over an attack by an unmanned aircraft on his home in North Waziristan which he said killed his brother and son.

The extraordinary unmasking of a sitting station chief forced Banks to quit his post and leave the country.

Banks went on to become the head of the Iran operations divisions at the CIA’s headquarters and currently works in the US military’s intelligence wing.
At the time, the outing of Banks sparked much speculation about how Khan and his lawyer Shahzad Akbar could possibly have known the identity of the CIA station chief. Many assumed Pakistan’s own spies leaked the name to punish the CIA at a time of fraught ties with the US.

There are few hard facts about the 2009 drone strike. The CIA never comments on an officially secret programme, and independent investigators face hurdles trying to work in North Waziristan, an area that for years was under the control of militant groups.

Press reports at the time suggested the target of the strike was the then-Taliban commander for North Waziristan, a militant called Haji Omar. Khan has always denied the claim.
With no chance of either of the two Americans travelling to Pakistan to face their day in court, the case is unlikely to go anywhere.

The issue of drone strikes has faded from public concern in Pakistan in recent years and is nothing like as prominent as it was in 2009, when the CIA campaign was running at a high tempo.

While US drone strikes have become far rarer in recent years, the relationship between Washington and Islamabad has also improved dramatically, with Pakistan lodging only pro forma protests when drone strikes do take place.

11. Oil dispersant used in Gulf Oil Spill causes lung and gill injuries to humans and aquatic animals, also identifies protective enzyme
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

New research suggests that Corexit EC9500A, an oil-dispersal agentl, contributes to damage to epithelium cells within the lungs of humans and gills of marine creatures. The study also identifies an enzyme that is expressed in epithelial cells across species that has protective properties against Corexit-induced damage.