Friday, January 18, 2013

PNN 1/20/13 - Champions of the People

PNN 1/20/13   [Listen Here]

R W Spisak     News Director                7pm - 7:10pm

Emine Dilek Journalist                           7:10 -  7:22pm  -  Live

Meredith Ockman  VP State NOW        7:23 -  7:38pm -    Live

Karen McArthur 
Move to Amend         7:39 - 7:54pm  - Live

Susan Smith
Pres. Prog. Caucus            7:55 - 8:02pm

Rep. Raul Grijalva                               7:53 - 8:25pm
Co Chair Congressional Progressive Caucus 

1. Progressive Coalition Annual Mtg
    Jan 27th - Lake Mary Marriott


Gun Control and Public Safety Expert Panel Presentation
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Announcements at 6:30 PM program begins at 7 pm
Each expert panel member will speak briefly (5 min.) Opening statements to be
followed by discussion and an audience Q & A.
Free and Open To the public
Front Street Civic Center, 2205 S. Front Street, Melbourne, FL 32901

3. LegiCamp 2013

LegiCamp 2013 is the third annual gathering of progressives which is held for the purpose of organizing actions for the Florida Legislative Session. The "unconference" format of scheduling sessions is based on the interests of attendees. Presenters will pitch their ideas to the group, and sessions will be planned according to those interests. Each session will be dedicated to planning specific legislative actions.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)
Orlando, FL (Venue TBA)
LegiCamp is hosted by Florida Progressives, a coalition which in 2011 organized the collective actions known as Awake the State.
To Register go to

4. PBNOW - will be hosting the 40th Annual Susan B. Anthony Feminist
    of the Year Award 2/10/2013

5. Jan. 22 is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to legal abortion.

0.     Calling out from the earth to us Indigenous people are 150 million of our men, women, children and babies who were murdered by the white race for our lands. They are urging us to bring back natural law and order for the sake of the future generations, who are waiting to be released to us by our great Mother Earth. [snip]
    Idle No More is the worldwide freeing of indigenous people. Listen to the thunder of the masses.  We are destroying the dungeons of oppression, heading for the higher hills of freedom.  This Tsunami is the beginning of the greatest liberation in history. 
    Corporate murder, aggression and colonialism are over.  All wars will stop.  The earth will be fairly distributed. Our Mother is reminding us of our birthright, to shake off the colonial bondage, to strike the death blow to fascism.   
    Our greatest weapon is truth and courage.  Anyone who continues to turn a blind to genocide is guilty of complicity, according to the UN Charter.  Corporations and artificial people will become nothing but faded memories.   

1. March 6th: Legislative Session 2013 Starts.

2. 28 Million per day spent in Afghanistan - more than was sent to rebuild Germany

3. Of course this all supports Governor Scott’s goal of reducing state employees.
In case you were not aware, Florida has for many years been dead last in the nation for the least amount of state employees per capita and for the lowest amount paid for the state employees.
4. An unmanned U.S. aerial vehicle -- or drone -- reportedly killed eight people in rural Pakistan last week, bringing the estimated death toll from drone strikes in Pakistan this year to 35. As the frequency of drone strikes spikes again, some questions must be asked: How many of those targeted were terrorists? Were any children harmed? And what is the standard of evidence to carry out these attacks?
The United States has to provide answers, and Congress has a critical role to play.
The heart of the problem is that our technological capability has far surpassed our policy. As things stand, the executive branch exercises unilateral authority over drone strikes against terrorists abroad. In some cases, President Obama approves each strike himself through "kill lists." While the president should be commended for creating explicit rules for the use of drones, unilateral kill lists are unseemly and fraught with hazards.
When asked about the drone program in October during an interview on the "The Daily Show," the president said, "One of the things we've got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in, but any president's reined in terms of some of the decisions that we're making

5. TAMPA, FL -Locals protesting to keep Florida water clean

Former Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah and a group of more than a dozen people from Naples will be in Tampa Thursday, to join a more than 200-person protest of changes they fear could weaken standards for keeping Florida's water clean.
This is a battle over who sets the standards meant to keep pollutants like sewage and fertilizers out of our waterways.
Our local protestors argue water quality is already low enough: red tide outbreaks, worsened by pollution, bring thousands of dead fish to our beaches, shut down commercial shellfishing (clamming) on Pine Island, and forced the cancellation of a kid's fishing tournament on Sanibel Island last year.
Red tide occurs naturally, it is not caused by pollution, but some scientists and environmentalists say fertilizers and other pollutants make the harmful algae worse.
Protestors plan to argue the state (Florida DEP) is not willing to do the job right-- their standards are lower than the US EPA. Therefore, more than five environmental groups are gathering today to say to the EPA--please don't hand over more control of water quality standards to our state.

6. Toshiba creating nuclear reactor for mining Canada Tar Sands

Toshiba Corp. has reportedly designed a nuclear reactor and intends to market it to natural resource developers for mining Tar Sands in Canada and other places.
Nikkei reported this week that the company had completed design of a small 10,000kw reactor and had asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for approval to begin construction in the United States, but the process had been delayed in connection with a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011. The company also planned to seek approval from Canadian authorities.
Sources told The Daily Yomiruri that one natural resource developer had hopes of using the reactor in Alberta by 2020.
“To ensure the reactor’s safety, Toshiba reportedly plans to construct a nuclear reactor building underground, while the building itself will be equipped with an earthquake-absorbing structure,” according to the paper.
The reactor would be used to inject steam about 300 meters underground into the oil sands. A separate pipe would then extract the sand as slurry.
Toshiba’s planned reactor would not need to be refueled for up to 30 years. Additional uses could included turning saltwater into freshwater and powering small communities in frontier areas like northern Alaska.
Ploughshares Fund Program Director Paul Carroll told Raw Story that environmental disasters were still a concern with small nuclear reactors – even one that was 1 percent the size of a 1 million kilowatt power plant — but “the individual accident scenarios are probably orders of magnitude less.”
“I don’t want to say you could have Fukushima in Canada, but I think Fukushima is a really fascinating example because it’s not so much that things failed there, but nature bats last,” he explained. “Here you had an earthquake and then a tsunami, and while some of those safety features worked initially, it basically was overwhelming.”

7. FREE Whistle-Blower

President Obama has opposed waterboarding as torture since the 2008 campaign – so why is he sending the man who helped shed light on that practice to prison?
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who helped expose the Bush administration’s torture program, recently plead guilty to sharing the name of a colleague to journalists to use as a source. He is expected to receive a sentence of 30 months in prison.
It’s a cruel irony that the first agent connected to the CIA torture program to go to prison is the whistleblower who spoke out against the heinous practices of our government. From Bradley Manning to Aaron Swartz to John Kiriakou, the government’s pattern of overzealously prosecuting activists and whistleblowers has ruined too many lives already. If President Obama wants to show he opposes torture and supports government transparency he should pardon Kiriakou immediately.
Tell President Obama to pardon CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou:
In fact, the Justice Department has refused to pursue any of the people who sanctioned and carried out the torture Kiriakou helped expose. Yet they have gone after whistleblowers and activists with a zeal unmatched by any administration in history. Bradley Manning faces life in prison. Aaron Swartz took his life in the face of unrelenting prosecution. Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, the list goes on and on.
Kiriakou is the sixth person to be indicted under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration. It’s time the president end this war on whistleblowers. He can start by pardoning John Kiriakou.
Kiriakou served his country in the CIA for over 15 years, risking his life as an undercover agent chasing Al-Qaeda overseas — he does not deserve this treatment. Kiriakou says he engaged in rendition that resulted in the torture of detainees. He did not personally carry out torture. His leak was not even made public and presented no harm to the country.
Compare this to the reckless and very public outing of Valerie Plame — a case that resulted in four felony convictions for Scooter Libby, but not a single day in jail. It is unconscionable that Libby could avoid punishment, while Kiriakou must face years in prison for exposing the illegal and inhumane actions of the government — actions the Obama administration claims to oppose.
President Obama should not punish, but pardon John Kiriakou for his exceptional patriotism in speaking out against torture.
Sign our petition demanding President Obama pardon CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou.

8. Senator Simpson and the COW  with 300 Million Teats

Recently the 2010 comment by Sen Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) comparing Social Security to a very well endowed cow has been in the news again (e.g., in HuffPo; sorry I don’t seem to be able to manage a link to it).  In response I can do no better than reproduce a multi-forwarded email I received today.  (Full disclosure: I’ve been on SS for a while, so the retirement age is no longer an issue for me.)  I have only deleted the name of the original sender since I don’t know if the first forwarder obtained the person’s permission to use it. Also, I’ m not clear where the embedding of the original letter ends and the statement of the first forwarder resumes.
In any case, here it is:
Alan Simpson, the Senator from Wyoming calls senior citizens the Greediest Generation as he compared “Social Security ” to a Milk Cow with 310 million teats.
Here’s a response in a letter from XXXXX XXXXX in Montana … I think she is a little ticked off! She also tells it like it is!
“Hey Alan, let’s get a few things straight!!!!!
1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole (tit) for FIFTY YEARS.
2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63).
3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.
4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and “your ilk” pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age, 67. NOW, you and your “shill commission” are proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.
5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now “you morons” propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because “you idiots” mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal our money from Medicare to pay the bills.
6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you “incompetent bastards” spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt.
To add insult to injury, you label us “greedy” for calling “bullshit” to your incompetence. Well, Captain Bullshit, I have a few questions for YOU:
1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?
2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?
3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?
4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the “greedy” ones. It is you and your fellow nutcase thieves who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers.
And for what? Votes and your job and retirement security at our expense, you lunk-headed, leech.
That’s right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic, political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.
And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a bitch. NO, I did not stutter.
If you like the way things are in America delete this.
If you agree with what a Montana citizen, xxxxx xxxxx, says, please PASS IT ON!!!!
P.S. And stop calling Social Security benefits “entitlements”. WHAT AN INSULT!!!!
I have been paying in to the SS system for 52 years. “It’s my money”- give it back to me the way the system was designed and stop patting yourself on the back like you are being generous by doling out these monthly checks.

9. EPA changed course after gas company protested

WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) — When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family's drinking water had begun bubbling like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: A company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.
At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.
Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.
For Steve Lipsky, the EPA decision seemed to ignore the dangers to his family. His water supply contains so much methane that the gas in water flowing from a pipe connected to the well can be ignited.
"I just can't believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn't use it," said Lipsky, who fears he will have to abandon his dream home in an upscale neighborhood of Weatherford.
The case isn't the first in which the EPA initially linked a hydraulic fracturing operation to water contamination and then softened its position after the industry protested.
A similar dispute unfolded in west-central Wyoming in late 2011, when the EPA released an initial report that showed hydraulic fracturing could have contaminated groundwater. After industry and GOP leaders went on the attack, the agency said it had decided to do more testing. It has yet to announce a final conclusion.
Hydraulic fracturing — often called "fracking" — allows drillers to tap into oil and gas reserves that were once considered out of reach because they were locked in deep layers of rock.
The method has contributed to a surge in natural gas drilling nationwide, but environmental activists and some scientists believe it can contaminate groundwater. The industry insists the practice is safe.
Range Resources, a leading independent player in the natural gas boom, has hundreds of gas wells throughout Texas, Pennsylvania and other mineral-rich areas of the United States. Among them is a production site — now owned by Legend Natural Gas — in a wooded area about a mile from Lipsky's home in Weatherford, about a half-hour drive west of Fort Worth.
State agencies usually regulate water and air pollution, so the EPA's involvement in the Texas matter was unusual from the start. The EPA began investigating complaints about the methane in December 2010, because it said the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling, had not responded quickly enough to the reports of bubbling water.
Government scientists believed two families, including the Lipskys, were in danger from methane and cancer-causing benzene and ordered Range Resources to take steps to clean their water wells and provide affected homeowners with safe water. The company stopped doing that after state regulators declared in March 2011 that Range Resources was not responsible. The dispute between the EPA and the company then moved into federal court.
Believing the case was headed for a lengthy legal battle, the EPA asked an independent scientist named Geoffrey Thyne to analyze water samples taken from 32 water wells. In the report obtained by the AP, Thyne concluded from chemical testing that the gas in the drinking water could have originated from Range Resources' nearby drilling operation.
Meanwhile, the EPA was seeking industry leaders to participate in a national study into hydraulic fracturing. Range Resources told EPA officials in Washington that so long as the agency continued to pursue a "scientifically baseless" action against the company in Weatherford, it would not take part in the study and would not allow government scientists onto its drilling sites, said company attorney David Poole.
In March 2012, the EPA retracted its emergency order, halted the court battle and set aside Thyne's report showing that the gas in Lipsky's water was nearly identical to the gases the Plano, Texas-based company was producing.
"They said that they would look into it, which I believe is exactly what they did," Poole said. "I'm proud of them. As an American, I think that's exactly what they should have done."
The EPA offered no public explanation for its change in thinking, and Lipsky said he and his family learned about it from a reporter. The agency refused to answer questions about the decision, instead issuing a statement by email that said resolving the Range Resources matter allowed the EPA to shift its "focus in this case away from litigation and toward a joint effort on the science and safety of energy extraction."
After the agency dropped its action, the company offered scientists access to a site in southwestern Pennsylvania. But the EPA has not yet accepted the offer.
Rob Jackson, chairman of global environmental change at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, reviewed Thyne's report and the raw data upon which it was based. He agreed the gas in Lipsky's well could have originated in a rock formation known as the Barnett shale, the same area where Range Resources was extracting gas.
Jackson said it was "premature" to withdraw the order and said the EPA "dropped the ball in dropping their investigation." Two of the wells included in Thyne's report had water containing more than the 10 milligrams per liter of methane, or enough to be deemed hazardous by the EPA. One had 35 milligrams per liter, which Jackson called "particularly high" and an amount that federal regulators say is more than what requires immediate action.
"Two of the homes had methane within the action level for hazard mitigation, one of them well above this hazard threshold," Jackson said.
Lipsky, who is still tied up in a legal battle with Range Resources, now pays about $1,000 a month to haul water to his home. He, his wife and three children become unnerved when their methane detectors go off. Sometime soon, he said, the family will have to decide whether to stay in the large stone house or move.
"This has been total hell," Lipsky said. "It's been taking a huge toll on my family and on our life."
The confidential report relied on a type of testing known as isotopic analysis, which produces a unique chemical fingerprint that sometimes allows researchers to trace the origin of gas or oil.
Jackson, who studies hydraulic fracturing and specializes in isotopic analysis, acknowledged that more data is needed to determine for certain where the gas came from. But even if the gas came from elsewhere, Range Resources' drilling could have contributed to the problem in Lipsky's water because gas migrates, he added.
The company insists the gas in Lipsky's water is from natural migration and not drilling. Range Resources' testing indicates the gas came from a different rock formation called Strawn shale and not the deeper Barnett shale, Poole said.
In addition, he said, isotopic analysis cannot be used in this case because the chemical makeup of the gases in the two formations is indistinguishable. A Range Resources spokesman also dismissed Thyne and Jackson as anti-industry.
Range Resources has not shared its data with the EPA or the Railroad Commission. Poole said the data is proprietary and could only be seen by Houston-based Weatherford Laboratories, where it originated. It was analyzed for Range Resources by a Weatherford scientist, Mark McCaffrey, who did not respond to requests for an interview.
Gas has always been in the water in that area, Poole said. And years before Range Resources began drilling, at least one water well in the neighborhood contained so much methane, it went up in flames.

10. Internet Freedom Day: Celebrating the Birth of a Movement and Looking Ahead

On January 18th, 2012, CDT joined thousands of innovators, technologists, advocates, and individuals from across the political spectrum in an online blackout and protest demonstrating broad opposition to the two bills, which had the potential to wreak havoc on the Internet. The bills failed in the face of that unprecedented online revolt, which marked a watershed moment for the politics of Internet policy.
In the year since, this loose-knit and diverse Internet freedom coalition has successfully:
    •    Joined together to promote key principles for a free and open Internet in The Declaration of Internet Freedom;
    •    Advocated for major improvements to cybersecurity legislation;
    •    Stopped a privacy-invasive data retention mandate proposal dead in its tracks;
    •    Urged national governments to reject proposals at the World Conference of International Telecommunications (WCIT) that would threaten the exercise of human rights online; and
    •    Helped achieve unprecedented bipartisan support to secure the same privacy protections for Internet communications as postal mail and phone calls by updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
The year ahead promises more fights for individuals' rights and the freedom to innovate on the Internet. Chief among these will be the effort to finish what was started in 2012 by passing ECPA privacy reform out of both Chambers of Congress.
But a pall is cast over this day by last week’s suicide of Aaron Swartz, a co-author of the RSS 1.0 specification, an early builder of Reddit, a founder of Demand Progress, and a stalwart advocate of an open Internet who played a key role in the victory that we celebrate today.
At the time of his death, Aaron was facing the possibility of years in federal prison for alleged violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a dangerously vague and overbroad law that CDT has long urged Congress to reform. In the wake of Aaron’s tragic death, Representative Zoe Lofgren has posted to Reddit a draft bill to begin that process of reform. In the spirit of the open Internet that Aaron championed, CDT has been collaborating and will continue to collaborate with allies like EFF, ACLU and Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society in an open process on Reddit to provide suggestions on how that draft can be improved and expanded before it’s introduced. Fixing the CFAA is long overdue, and we hope that this tragedy will at the very least spur Congress to finally enact these much needed reforms.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

PNN - Democracy with a Human Face

 PNN 1/13/13   (Listen Here)

RWS                   7pm - 7:10pm 

Sue Howai         7:10 - 7:32 pm 

Mark Pafford     7:35 - 8:00 

Jeff Clemmons  8:02 - 8:25pm

Sky Nelson        8:25 - 9pm   -  live

1. Let's have a large show of support for 
a Move To Amend resolution at the Lake Worth City Commission! 


“Slavery is the legal fiction that people are property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction the property is a person.”
 William Meyers 

Tuesday 1/15/12
Lake Worth City Hall 6 N Dixie Highway Lake Worth FL
6pm Commission Meeting
Phone Contact: Linda Weil 561-729-1939
Email contact: Joni Albrecht

The Lake Worth City Commission ( at their regular 6pm meeting at City Hall) will be voting on a resolution supporting an amendment to the US Constitution that would return constitutional rights to people only and prevent corporations from being given the same rights as humans as was done in the 2010 Supreme Court decision "Citizen's United vs FEC".
Such resolutions have been passed by hundreds of local governments around the US as well as an increasing number of states
This past summer, the US Conference of Mayors passed such a resolution at their meeting in Orlando.
The Move to Amend coalition has been working on a grassroots level towards an amendment that bans corporate personhood and states that money is not speech. The Palm Beach affiliate of MTA has been working to get supportive resolutions here in Palm Beach County.

In the last election we saw the powerful forces of large corporations trying to wrest our democracy from our hands.
Anyone who believes in democracy cannot let this continue. Our government is given privileges and responsibilities by us,
If corporations are given rights, they will control our government. This would not be a democracy: .Constitutional rights are meant for "We the People" and have no party affiliation.. An amendment to the constitution is the only way we can preserve this. 
We hope you can join us to witness the important discussion on Tuesday in Lake Worth and the vote to follow. 

2. Humanists of the Treasure Coast
Pot Luck Dinner and Get Together
Saturday, January 19, 6:30 p.m.
416 14th Avenue
Vero Beach, FL
Information or directions:  772-257-6774

3. Progressive Coalition Annual Mtg - January 27th
    Lake Mary Marriott  - Everyone Welcome

4. LegiCamp 2013
LegiCamp 2013 is the third annual gathering of progressives which is held for the purpose of organizing actions for the Florida Legislative Session. The "unconference" format of scheduling sessions is based on the interests of attendees. Presenters will pitch their ideas to the group, and sessions will be planned according to those interests. Each session will be dedicated to planning specific legislative actions.
Saturday, February 9, 2013 
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)
Orlando, FL (Venue TBA)
LegiCamp is hosted by Florida Progressives, a coalition which in 2011 organized the collective actions known as Awake the State.
To Register go to

0. March 6th: Legislative Session 2013 Starts.
1. Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary - Opposed By Wm Black
President Obama is facing criticism for nominating another former Wall Street executive to become treasury secretary. On Thursday, Obama tapped his own chief of staff, Jack Lew, to replace Timothy Geithner. Lew was an executive at Citigroup from 2006 to 2008 at the time of the financial crisis. He served as chief operating officer of Citigroup’s Alternative Investments unit, a group that bet on the housing market to collapse.
Lew has also long pushed for the deregulation of Wall Street. From 1998 to January 2001, he headed the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton. During that time, Clinton signed into law two key laws to deregulate Wall Street: the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.
On Thursday, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont criticized Lew’s nomination, saying, quote, "We don’t need a treasury secretary who thinks that Wall Street deregulation was not responsible for the financial crisis."
At a press conference at the White House Thursday, President Obama praised Jack Lew’s record.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Jack has the distinction of having worked and succeeded in some of the toughest jobs in Washington and the private sector. As a congressional staffer in the 1980s, he helped negotiate the deal between President Reagan and Tip O’Neill to save Social Security. Under President Clinton, he presided over three budget surpluses in a row. So, for all the talk out there about deficit reduction, making sure our books are balanced, this is the guy who did it—three times. He helped oversee one of our nation’s finest universities and one of our largest investment banks. In my administration, he’s managed operations for the State Department and the budget for the entire executive branch. And over the past year, I’ve sought Jack’s advice on virtually every decision that I’ve made, from economic policy to foreign policy.
AMY GOODMAN: For more on the nomination of Jack Lew, as well as other news about Wall Street, we’re joined by two guest. William Black, author of  The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One_, he’s associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, former senior financial regulator. His recent article for the  Huffington Post is called "Jacob Lew: Another Brick in the Wall Street on the Potomac."
We’re also joined by Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for  Rolling Stone magazine, his latest  piece, "Secrets and Lies of the Bailout," which we’ll talk about in a bit, author of  Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History.

WILLIAM BLACK: Well, on financial matters, Jack Lew has been a failure of pretty epic proportions, and he gets promoted precisely because he is willing to be a failure and is so useful to Wall Street interests. So, you’ve mentioned two of the things in terms of the most important and most destructive deregulation under President Clinton by statute. But he was also there for much of the deregulation by rule, and a strong proponent of it, and he was there for much of the cutting of staff. For example, the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, lost three-quarters of its staff, and that huge loss began under Clinton. And the whole reinventing government, Lew was a strong supporter of that. And, for example, we were taught—instructed by Washington that we were to refer to banks as our "clients" in our role as regulators and to think of them as clients.

He goes from there to Wall Street, where he was a complete failure. You noted that part of what Citicorp did was bet that housing would fall. That was actually one of their winning bets. But they actually made a bunch of losing bets, as well. And the unit that he was heading would have not been permissible but for the deregulation of getting rid of Glass-Steagall under President Clinton. And you saw, as an example of Citicorp, why we shouldn’t be doing this. Why would we create a federal subsidy where all of us, through the U.S. government, are on the hook for Citicorp’s gambling on financial derivatives for its own account, you know, running a casino operation? That makes absolutely no public policy sense.
Then he comes into the Obama administration, and he was disastrously wrong. He tried very hard to impose austerity on the United States back in 2011, which is—he wanted, you know, the European strategy, which has pushed the eurozone back into recession, and Spain, Greece and Italy into Great Depression levels of unemployment.
And this is the guy, after all of these failures, who also is intellectually dishonest. He will not own up to his role and deregulation’s role and de-supervision’s role in producing this crisis—and not just this crisis, but the Enron-era crisis and the savings-and-loan debacle.
4. Lew Opposed by Sen. Sanders
Bernie Sanders campaigned, hard, for Barack Obama's reelection.
But the independent senator from Vermont is not going to rubber-stamp the president's selection of Jack Lew, a supporter of banking deregulation who has passed back and forth through the revolving door from Wall Street to Washington, as the nation's 76th Secretary of the Treasury.
While Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, he represents the people who elected him. And he swears an oath to a Constitution that requires -- not "allows," requires -- the legislative branch of the federal government to check and balance the executive branch.
One of the Senate's most vital duties is that of providing "advice and consent" on presidential nominations. A president has broad leeway when it comes to naming members of the Cabinet -- arguably broader leeway than in the naming of lifetime appointees to the federal judiciary. But that leeway is not such that senators can or should simply approve every nominee. Advice should be given, and at times consent should be denied -- not just by partisan foes of the sitting president but, sometimes, by allies of that president.
In the hyper-partisan environment of today's Washington, it is common for members of the party caucus affiliated with the president to go along with any pick the president makes. But there are times when principle must prevail over partisanship.
Sanders, who has a history of breaking with Democratic and Republican presidents on economic-policy issues, says Jack Lew is the wrong candidate for the Treasury post being vacated by Tim Geithner, whose bias in favor of Wall Street was such that his 2009 nomination was opposed by Sanders, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold and West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.
Here's how Sanders explains his opposition to the Lew nomination:
"Jack Lew is clearly an extremely intelligent person and I applaud his many years of public service to our country. I believe that he will be confirmed by the Senate. Unfortunately, he will be confirmed without my vote. At a time when the middle class is collapsing and millions of workers are unemployed, I do not believe he is the right person at the right time to serve in this important position.
"As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.  
"We don't need a treasury secretary who thinks that Wall Street deregulation was not responsible for the financial crisis.  We need a treasury secretary who will work hard to break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions so that Wall Street cannot cause another massive financial crisis.
"We don't need another treasury secretary who believes in "deficit neutral' corporate tax reform. We need a treasury secretary willing to fight to make sure that large, profitable corporations pay their fair share in taxes to reduce the deficit and create jobs.
"We don't need a treasury secretary who will advise the president that he should negotiate with the Republicans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We need someone who is going to strengthen these programs.
"We don't need another treasury secretary who believes that NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China have been good for the American economy. We need someone in the White House who works to fundamentally re-write our trade policy to make sure that we are exporting American goods, not American jobs."
Bend Bulletin
More than a year and a half since the nuclear crisis, much of Japan's post-Fukushima cleanup remains primitive, slapdash and bereft of the cleanup methods lauded by government scientists as effective in removing harmful radioactive cesium from the

6. CROOKED CLEANUP: Environment Ministry failed to act on Asahi tip-off

Environment Ministry officials in December received details and photographic evidence of shoddy decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture, but they dithered on taking action by citing “manners” and the need to confirm the information.
New Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara has also been slow to react since The Asahi Shimbun ran its first story on the issue on Jan. 4.
Asahi Shimbun reporters, who witnessed slipshod work at 13 locations between Dec. 11 and 18, visited the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration, which is responsible for overseeing decontamination work around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, on Dec. 25.
The reporters told a senior representative that general contractors instructed workers to dump potentially contaminated vegetation and not to bother with the proper recovery of water used for cleaning.
The journalists explained about the 13 locations and dates and showed photographs taken at the sites.
The office representative said it is a matter of “manners.”
“It appears that workers (dumped vegetation) not out of malice but because they removed more radioactive materials than they had expected,” the representative said.
The same day, Asahi Shimbun reporters met with two senior officials at the Environment Ministry in Tokyo and provided the list of 13 locations.
“We cannot do anything unless we confirm the facts,” Masaaki Kobayashi, director-general of the Environment Management Bureau, said. “We will contact the Fukushima office.”
The ministry also appeared to largely ignore information about the dodgy decontamination work from a person on the front line.
A worker in his 20s who said he was ordered to dump vegetation sent a fax to the Environment Ministry in Tokyo and the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration on Dec. 26.
The fax explained what was happening at the work sites and contained his real name and e-mail address. But the man had not received any response as of Jan. 8.
Asahi Shimbun reporters visited the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration again on Dec. 26 and showed director Takashi Omura a photograph of a site supervisor kicking fallen leaves into a river in Tamura.
“It is a grave problem if it is true,” Omura said. “I will immediately consult with those in charge.”
However, Omura did not discuss the issue with Environment Ministry officials in Tokyo until Dec. 28, the last business day of 2012 for government workers.
By that day, two general contractors contacted by The Asahi Shimbun had informed Omura's office that water used for cleaning may have not been properly recovered at decontamination sites.
In late afternoon on Dec. 28, Kobayashi said, “I do not know about the situation because I have not received reports from (the Fukushima office).”
Local government leaders in Fukushima Prefecture expressed outrage after reading The Asahi Shimbun’s report on Jan. 4. Omura called them and apologized for “causing worries.”
Yoshimi Okunishi, a councilor at the Minister’s Secretariat at the Environment Ministry, told reporters in Tokyo that the ministry will investigate whether the report is true.
“Our ministry will not move unless a newspaper article appears,” one employee said.
The ministry did not begin questioning general contractors until Jan. 7, when it set up a task force on the issue headed by Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue.
But subcontractors and workers have changed at many decontamination sites since the start of the new year, which could make it difficult for the task force to obtain first-hand information.
On Jan. 9, Inoue visited Tamura, where the site supervisor kicked leaves into the river on Dec. 14. The leaves on the ground were gone, and it was impossible to tell if they were removed by workers or fell into the river and flowed away.
The response of Ishihara, who became environment minister on Dec. 26, has been unclear.
Ishihara and the Environment Ministry also plan to rely on voluntary investigations by general contractors instead of interviewing front-line workers.
“We will not have enough information to make a judgment until we read reports (from the contractors),” Ishihara said.
The ministry expects to receive the reports by Jan. 11 and compile measures on Jan. 18 to prevent a recurrence.
During questioning on Jan. 7, the companies only admitted that water used for cleaning was not properly recovered in two instances in December.
Ishihara did not come to his Environment Ministry office on Jan. 4, the first business day for government workers this year.
When asked what he did on the day, Ishihara said on the night of Jan. 8, “I do not remember.”
The Asahi Shimbun asked the same question through the ministry’s public relations office. A written reply said Ishihara issued instructions to a senior vice minister to confirm facts and respond strictly.
Ishihara did not appear in the Environment Ministry until Jan. 6, when he attended a briefing scheduled from last year. He and other senior ministry officials discussed what to do and decided to set up the task force.
Ministry officials hope to minimize the fallout of the scandal because only general contractors can handle the contracts, which are awarded for each municipality.
The officials have relied on the companies to carry out the decontamination project worth 650 billion yen ($7.4 billion), an extremely large amount for a ministry project.
Slipshod work can constitute violations of not only government contracts but also a special measures law on dealing with contaminated waste.
If serious offenses are found, the ministry could be forced to exclude a general contractor from the project.
(This article was compiled from reports by Toshio Tada, Tamiyuki Kihara and Miki Aoki.)

7. Fukushima Cleanup Workers Have Been Dumping Contaminated Debris Into Rivers

After a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, officials promised to use cutting-edge technology from across the globe to mount the most ambitious radiological cleanup humanity has ever seen.

But it appears that the $11.5 billion, multi-decade effort has become part of the nuclear disaster.

Reporters for Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, found that crews "have dumped soil and leaves contaminated with radioactive fallout into rivers," water sprayed on contaminated buildings "has been allowed to drain back into the environment," and supervisors "instructed workers to ignore rules on proper collection and disposal of the radioactive waste."
Workers told Asahi Shimbun that "a feeling of helplessness led to a moral vacuum that enabled workers to ignore the Environment Ministry’s rules."
The Japanese government said it will investigate the shoddy work after it confirmed two cases, but Asahi Shimbun also reports that Environment Ministry officials didn't act after Fukushima Prefecture residents filed "a continuous stream" of complaints.
Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times reports that instead of drawing on technology from local business and foreign companies that can remove harmful radioactive cesium from the environment, central and local governments have hired Japan’s largest construction companies to handle much of the delicate work.
The companies are politically connected but have little radiological cleanup expertise, which has resulted in the use of "primitive" techniques — such as collecting contaminated debris in garbage bags and leaving the waste on roadsides, in fields and on the coastline — that do not remove harmful radioactive cesium from the environment.
The new reports are the latest in a long string of seemingly negligent acts by officials responsible for the nuclear fallout.
In July we reported that some workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were ordered to lie about their radiation exposure.

Also in July we reported that 36 percent of Fukushima children had abnormal growths – cysts or nodules – on their thyroids a year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
We subsequently found that the American Thyroid Association had not seen specific data on the Fukushima radiation risks despite the fact that Japan's Institute of Radiological Sciences found that some children living close to the plant were exposed to "lifetime" doses of radiation to their thyroid glands.
In August it was revealed that radiation released from the nuclear power plant has caused harmful mutations in generations of nearby butterflies, and in October scientists found that fish caught in waters near the damaged reactors indicated there was still a source of radioactive cesium either on the seafloor or still being discharged into the sea.
In October the operator of Japan's crippled Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, admitted that it played down the risks of a tsunami so it wouldn't have to shut down the plant to address them.