Sunday, February 22, 2015

PNN - Progressive Roundtable - 2-22-15

RWS - Host and Producer
Mark Pafford - Progressive Democratic Leader in Florida's Legislature
Emine Dilek - Publisher Progress Press 
Denis Campbell - Producer and Host of Three Muckrakers on iTUNES, and Publisher of UK Progressive
Prof. Wendy Lynn Lee - Anti-Fracking Activist, Publisher of the Wrench
Gwen Holden Barry - Producer and Host of There Be Monsters Webcast
Brian Stettan - Producer and Host of Progress for Democracy
Luis Cuevas - Director Progressive Push

1. The Oil Co. and the Activist- 
Cabot Continues Legal Fight Against Fracking Activist

Houston, Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas is headed back to court again next week in an ongoing legal battle with an anti-fracking activist.
The year-and-a-half long feud between Cabot and 64-year-old Vera Scroggins appeared to be over last fall, when Susquehanna County judge Kenneth Seamans ruled she would be permanently barred from Cabot sites and must observe buffer zones ranging from 25 to 100 feet.
But Cabot is continuing to challenge her movements and wants her to be punished for allegedly coming too close to a wellpad access road last month. The two sides will meet again in a Susquehanna County courtroom on February 25th.
The legal battle made international news last year when Cabot got a sweeping court injunction against Scroggins– effectively barring her from half the county. Last March, the order was revised to be much less restrictive.
She could face fines or jail time, although her attorney Jerry Kinchy doubts she would be imprisoned.
“If there’s any merit to what they claim, the judge would hold her in contempt of court,” he says. “That could involve reimbursing them for their legal fees. In this case it would be substantial, because they fly their legal team on a private jet out of Pittsburgh.”
Scroggins is a vocal anti-fracking activist who frequently hosts unofficial tours of Susquehanna County and brings visitors to Cabot sites. The company says she has repeatedly trespassed and poses a safety risk.
Scroggins feels she’s being treated like a criminal, for allegedly coming too close to driveways.
“It must be hard work for them, because they have a whole team of lawyers getting paid big bucks, and this is as far as they’ve gotten,” she says. “How desperate can you get to go after a senior citizen?”
“We’re just trying to continue to enforce those rules– that she need not put herself or others in harm’s way,” says Cabot spokesman George Stark.
In a separate matter, the court will also consider whether Scroggins must adhere to the permanent settlement agreement, which restricts her movements near Cabot sites. Although she initially agreed to the deal, she later changed her mind and refused to sign the settlement documents.
Last fall, Cabot argued her signature was unnecessary and said the agreement should stand. In a November 6th ruling, Judge Seamans sided with the company and found that Scroggins had, in fact, agreed to the deal through her attorneys.
Kinchy argued that she had not had the opportunity to present her side. The judge later agreed and will hear her testimony at the upcoming hearing.

2. Fukushima FollowUp
However, the nearly 160 million gallons of contaminated water stored on-site pose massive logistical challenges, and examiners strongly urged Japan to consider controlled discharges of the liquid into the Pacific Ocean once it is treated.
Most of the nuclear power plants are discharging treated water. This is accomplished with negligible impact on the environment and the safety of the people.
- Juan Carlos Lentijo, leader of International Atomic Energy Agency inspection team

The situation at the crippled plant remains “very complex” and “the benefits [of discharges] could be very, very huge” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, who led the team of 15 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency on a nine-day mission that follows surveys in April and November 2013.
Japanese officials have been reluctant to take such a step at the plant 160 miles northeast of Tokyo, fearing it might further antagonize local fishermen and other residents affected by the initial accident and its aftermath.
In the past year, Japan has succeeded in removing spent and fresh fuel from one reactor, Unit 4, and reduced the inflow of groundwater into the facility. It has also taken steps to clarify which entities are responsible for particular jobs, the IAEA team noted.
But about 80,000 gallons of groundwater continue to enter the plant per day, and building and maintaining storage tanks is increasingly taxing for the 7,000 workers toiling at the site, Lentijo’s team noted. In January, a laborer in his 50s who was inspecting an empty, 33-foot-tall storage tank fell into the vessel and died.
In wake of that accident, Japan’s nuclear regulator called on plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to move toward discharges of treated water.
About half of the water stored on-site has been treated to remove most radioactive contaminants, the IAEA team noted, though current technology does not allow for the easy removal of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen.
Unlike other contaminants, which are suspended or dissolved in water, tritium actually modifies the water molecules and therefore is difficult to separate out. Still, tritium is considered one of the least hazardous radioactive materials produced by nuclear power plants, and Lentijo said “controlled discharges are a normal practice in the industry.”
“Most of the nuclear power plants are discharging treated water,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo. “This is accomplished with negligible impact on the environment and the safety of the people.”
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has solicited demonstration projects from several companies for technology that might effectively treat the tritiated water. Orange County-based Kurion said it was awarded a $10-million grant in November for a pilot programs of its technology in Japan to see if it would be effective at Fukushima.
Among its other recommendations, the IAEA team encouraged Japan to narrow down the number of options being considered for the overall decommissioning plan and to reinforce “safety leadership and safety culture” systems.
A final report from the IAEA team is expected in late March.

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3. The Great SIM CARD HACK
Sim card database hack gave US and UK spies access to billions of cellphones. International row likely after revelations of breach that could have given NSA and GCHQ the power to monitor a large portion of world’s cellular communicationsAmerican and British spies hacked into the world’s largest sim card manufacturer in a move that gave them unfettered access to billions of cellphones around the globe and looks set to spark another international row into overreach by espionage agencies.
The National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent GCHQ hacked into Gemalto, a Netherlands sim card manufacturer, stealing encryption keys that allowed them to secretly monitor both voice calls and data, according to documents newly released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The breach, revealed in documents provided to The Intercept, gave the agencies the power to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, which experts said violated international laws.
Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said there was no doubt that the spy agencies had violated Dutch law and were in all probability violating laws in many other territories when they used the hacked keys.
“They have the functional equivalent of our house keys,” he said. “That has serious implications for privacy not just here in the US but internationally.”
The scale of the hack and its international reach will likely reopen wounds in the diplomatic community. The Obama administration faced intense criticism from Germany, Brazil and other nations following the Snowden leaks and has been working hard recently to repair the damage.
Previous documents disclosed by the Guardian showed Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was the target of an NSA spying campaign, a revelation that has soured US-German relations. Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff has already accused the NSA of violating international law.
“It’s a big breach,” Matthew Green, a cryptologist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, told the Guardian. “The problem is that the attacks could still be ongoing.”

Gemalto, the company targeted by the spy agencies, produces 2bn sim cards per year for clients including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The Netherlands company operates in 85 countries around the world and provides cards to some 450 wireless network providers globally.
The stolen encryption keys would allow intelligence agencies to monitor mobile communications without the approval or knowledge of telecom companies and foreign governments.
Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Guardian the hack would allow spies to “put an aerial up on the embassy in Berlin and listen in to anyone’s calls in the area”.
Calls made on 3G and 4G mobile networks are encrypted. But with the keys, which a GCHQ slide described as living “in the phone”, spies could access any communication made on a device unless its owner uses an extra layer of encryption.

4. AUMF - 

President Obama has asked Congress for a three-year war authorization to combat “ISIL or associated persons or forces,” regardless of where those forces may be. There are no geographic limitations in Obama’s proposal.
The White House has a straightforward explanation for why: “…if we pass a piece of legislation that says Congress has authorized the President to carry out the use of military force against ISIL targets in Iraq and in Syria, we don’t want anybody in ISIL to be left with the impression that if they moved to some neighboring country that they will be essentially in a safe haven and not within the range of United States military capability,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “So that is why we’ve been clear about not including a geographic limitation in this proposal.”
By that logic, United States military capability could be employed anywhere ISIL is deemed to exist. As the above map shows, this is not a theoretical issue, and it’s not just countries that “neighbor” Iraq and Syria. The New York Times reported Sunday that US intelligence officials claim ISIL is moving outside Syria and Iraq “to establish militant affiliates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt and Libya” and that extremists have organized under the ISIS banner in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen. Elsewhere, Agence France Presse has reported that in the Philippines, two rebel groups have pledged allegiance to ISIL. (The United Nations has alternately claimed there is no real ISIL presence there.)

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5.  Fresh nuclear leak detected at Fukushima plant in Japan
Tokyo: Sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant have detected a fresh leak of highly radioactive water to the sea, the plant's operator announced on Sunday, highlighting difficulties in decommissioning the crippled plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the sensors, which were rigged to a gutter that pours rain and ground water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to a nearby bay, detected contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already-high radioactive status seen at the plant campus.

TEPCO said its emergency inspections of tanks storing nuclear waste water did not find any additional abnormalities, but the firm said it shut the gutter to prevent radioactive water from going into the Pacific Ocean.

The higher-than-normal levels of contamination were detected at around 10 am (local time), with sensors showing radiation levels 50 to 70 times greater than usual, TEPCO said. Though contamination levels have steadily fallen throughout the day, the same sensors were still showing contamination levels about 10 to 20 times more than usual, a company spokesman said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the original spike of the contamination and its gradual fall, he added. "With emergency surveys of the plant and monitoring of other sensors, we have no reason to believe tanks storing radioactive waste water have leaked," he told.
"We have shut the gutter (from pouring water to the bay). We are currently monitoring the sensors at the gutter and seeing the trend," he said. The latest incident, one of several that have plagued the plant in recent months, reflects the difficulty in controlling and decommissioning the plant, which went through meltdowns and explosions after being battered by a giant tsunami in March 2011, sparking the world's worst nuclear disaster in a generation.
TEPCO has not been able to effectively deal with an increasing amount of contaminated water, used to cool the crippled reactors and molten fuels inside them and kept in large storage tanks on the plant's vast campus.
Adding to TEPCO's headaches has been the persistent flow of groundwater from nearby mountains travelling under the contaminated plant before washing to the Pacific Ocean. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently said TEPCO has made "significant progress" in cleaning up the plant, but suggested that Japan should consider ways to discharge treated waste water into the sea as a relatively safer way to deal with the radioactive water crisis.

6. Turkish Troops in Syria
Hundreds of Turkish forces in armoured vehicles have entered war-torn northern Syria to evacuate troops guarding a historic tomb, demolishing it and moving the remains to a different site.
The remains of Suleyman Shah, who died in the 13th Century, were moved to a site in Syria closer to the border. 
Turkey considered the shrine sovereign territory. 
Islamic State (IS) militants in the area had threatened to attack it last year.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has lost control over much of northern Syria as a result of the country's civil war, condemned the incursion as "flagrant aggression".
It said that Turkey had informed its Istanbul consulate about the operation but had not waited for Syria's consent.
Suleyman Shah, who lived from about 1178 to 1236, was grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire, Osman I.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government and the armed forces had carried out a "successful operation which is beyond all kinds of appreciation". 

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7. John Kiriakou - Out of Prison talks

Posted: 21 Feb 2015 04:00 PM PST

John Kiriakou’s advice to future national security whistleblowers: ‘Get a lawyer first.’
Out of prison and living at home under house arrest for the remainder of a suspended prison sentence, former CIA operative John Kiriakou, convicted and sent to jail for blowing the whistle on agency torture under the Bush administration, has been speaking to major media outlets this week about the brutal tactics and depraved abuse administered by the U.S. government in the name fighting terrorism as well as his prosecution and conviction under the Espionage Act for speaking out against such crimes.
In a two-part interview aired over as many nights this week, Kiriakou spoke with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes at length about his case and its implications on national security, the ongoing and so-called ‘war on terror,’ and what it means to be a government whistleblower in the post-9/11 age.

Earlier this week, Kiriakou had a conversation, via Skype, with HuffPost Live anchor Alyona Minkovski during which he said that though the government has been very willing to target CIA whistleblowers like himself and the more recently-convicted Jeffrey Sterling who expose government ineptitude or criminality, the Obama adminstration has prove totally cowardly when it comes to prosecuting those who committed war crimes or authorized tortured.
“I don’t think our government, no matter who is president, would ever have the guts to charge someone at the level of a Dick Cheney or of a CIA director … with crimes against humanity,” Kiriakou told Minkovski.

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8. TV or Not TeeVee
Have you changed your conversation in front of your TV yet?
Samsung SINGS OUT!

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9. Car Talk, Car Stop, Car listen?
In trying to figure out what kinds of attacks enemies might be plotting on American soil, government agencies are learning the same techniques. To wrest the controls from Stahl, a hacker dialed in through the vehicle’s OnStar system to first busy up the computer, then planted code that allowed it to reprogram the control systems. Kaufman stood by giving driving orders to the hackers.
The demonstration underscored what Clarke, counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said after Hastings’ crash. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard,” he said. “So if there were a cyber attack on the car—and I’m not saying there was—I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.” Clarke added that the LAPD was unlikely to have the tools necessary to detect such an attack, particularly after a fire.
No Crowbar Needed, Just an iPad
One thing is clear: Drivers are at risk.
In a stinging report released this week, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey slammed car companies for their failure to protect car owners  from hackers and intrusive data collectors who might seize control of increasingly computerized vehicles. “Automakers haven’t done their part to protect us from cyber-attacks or privacy invasions,” he said.
Much of the report focuses on how car computers can be used to collect driving history, from where a car is parked to where it traveled. But it also reveals hackers’ ability to remotely turn, stop and accelerate cars. Markey’s report notes that car companies can now disable vehicles if owners fall behind on their payments. Burglars can exploit the same vulnerabilities.

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10. Tax the Rich? Are you kidding?
States Consider Increasing Taxes for the Poor and Cutting Them for the Affluent
By Shaila Dewan, The New York Times
21 February 15

A number of Republican-led states are considering tax changes that in many cases would have the effect of cutting taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor.
Conservatives are known for hating taxes but particularly hate income taxes, which they say have a greater dampening effect on growth. Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes, which hit the poor and middle class harder than the rich.
Favorite targets for the new taxes include gas, e-cigarettes, and goods and services in general. Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine, who wants to start taxing movie tickets and haircuts, is also proposing a tax break for the lowest-income families to relieve some of the pressure.

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11. War Fever on the Potomac... for other peoples Children

The Mission be creppin ya'll

Quite frankly, this has been one of the more depressing weeks we have seen in a very long time. The country seems to be sliding down some very familiar tracks into a military engagement in the Middle East -- an engagement that, at the moment, seems to be cloudy in its objectives, vague in its outlines, and obscure on the simple fact of what we are supposedly fighting for, and who we will be fighting with. Can we fight the Islamic State generally without help from (gasp!) Iran? Can we fight the Islamic State in Syria without a de facto alliance with Hafez al-Assad, who was Hitler only a year or so ago? And the most recent polling seems to indicate that all the institutions that are supposed to act as a brake on war powers within a self-governing republic are working in reverse again. The Congress is going to debate how much leeway it should give the president to make war, not whether he should be allowed to do it at all. The elite media, having scared Americans to death by giving the barbarians and their slaughter porn the international platform the barbarians so desired, is jumping on board with both feet. (To cite only one example, Chris Matthews is suiting up again.) The country has been prepared to give its children up again. At the very least, public opinion on what we should do is a muddle, which means that any plan that looks "bold" likely will carry the country with it, unintended consequences be damned.With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans.

Amid more executions by the militant group ISIS, Americans increasingly see the group as a threat to the U.S. Now, 65 percent of Americans view ISIS as a major threat - up from 58 percent in October - while another 18 percent view it as a minor threat. Majorities of Republicans (86 percent), Democrats (61 percent) and independents (57 percent) view ISIS as a major threat. Support for sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS has risen among all partisans, but particularly among Democrats and independents. Back in October, 56 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents disapproved of using ground troops - now 50 percent of Democrats approve and 53 percent of independents favor using ground troops.
You can see the logical canyon, can you not? The Islamic State is no more an actual threat to the United States than it was in October. But there have been more garish executions and more events elsewhere, so the perceived threat -- real or not -- has begun to work its dark magic on the national imagination, the way that aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds once did. The more bellicose of our leaders are openly shilling for a general engagement on the ground; the inevitable John McCain inevitably has called for a "mere" 10,000 ground troops, and he wants those troops to help fight against both the Islamic State and Assad. something!

You develop a strategy and elements of the strategy are American boots on the ground and not the 82nd Airborne, the president keeps setting up these straw man saying we want to send in masses of American troops, we don't, but we need to have American..air controllers, special forces, many others. I'm talking about about ten thousand in Iraq. Then we need to say our objective is to eliminate Bashar Assad as well as ISIS in Syria and we recruit a other Arab nations with Americans but not too many to fight against ISIS and Bashar Assad in Syria and coordinate those movements with air power guided by air controllers.
So the mission already is creeping; hell, Congressman Ed Royce, who only chairs the House Foreign Relations Committee, wants the proposed authorization for the use of military force to include Iran. And god only knows what happens if the Islamic State grabs a couple of those 10,000 American ground troops and uses them for another snuff film.

The mission already is creeping. I wonder if anyone else notices how similar Royce's request is in spirit to that contained in the famous notes taken by Donald Rumsfeld in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks: "And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." - meaning Saddam Hussein - "at same time. Not only UBL" - the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden. Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld. "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." The mission already is creeping.

The more bellicose -- and the more desperate -- of our presidential aspirants also are openly shilling for a general engagement; Marco Rubio says that, if we'd only listened to Marco Rubio, we wouldn't be in this mess today, and how we simply cannot have a rookie like Jeb (!) Bush learning foreign policy on the job.

The Florida Republican senator, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, is beginning an aggressive effort to sell voters on his judgment and foresight on matters like Syria, Iran, Libya, Russia and Ukraine, making the case there should be no doubt he has the wherewithal to lead the country at a time of war. It's a necessary push for a first-term senator and potential presidential hopeful who is trying to convince GOP voters that he isn't a policy lightweight lacking executive experience, but rather a deep thinker who is fully engaged in complex foreign affairs and can manage the country's sprawling national security apparatus...As you look around the world," Rubio said at the time, "you start to see the need for American leadership."
Leadership! Deep thinking.

The mission already is creeping. I wonder if anyone else notices how similar Rubio's vainglory is in spirit to all those members of Congress, young and old and of both parties, who voted as though they believed all those neocon fairy tales about how the wildfire of democracy would spread throughout the region if only the United States would "lead" by overthrowing Saddam Hussein, thereby sweeping it all up. And I wonder if anyone else notices how similar it is in spirit to the position taken by presidentially ambitious Democratic politicians, like the last two Secretaries of State, one of whom was the party's nominee in 2004 and the other of whom is the odds-on favorite to be the party's nominee next year, who didn't want to be left behind by the glory train when it rolled through Baghdad. The mission already is creeping.

There is only one difference that I can see, and that is the guy in the White House. The president wants his AUMF to face the regional threat, it is true. But he wants a limitred one, and he has been consistently against a general engagement. He has been resolute against the rising and distasteful call for an authentic "clash of civilizations" motive for American action. (So, to be fair, was the last guy. It perhaps was the only thing he did right.) The pressure for him to do so is growing overwhelming; Rudy Giuliani is only the most garish member of the rising chorus. He has stood firm on the nonsensical "controversy" about what he should call the activities of the Islamic State.

But it may not be enough. The next presidential election is gearing up, and what is going on in the Middle East has changed the dynamic of that race utterly. People may be running for president with American troops in harm's way, whether the engagement there is general or not. The opinion of the country has been manufactured again to demand a war with no clear goals and no clear endpoint. Voices of reason and moderation -- Hi, Marie Harf! -- are being shouted down by conservatives and only tepidly supported by liberals. Nearly 100 years ago, rising in the Senate to oppose the entry of the United States into World War I, Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin called the bluff of every hawk who ever called for a blind punch at a designated enemy.

We should not seek to hide our blunder behind the smoke of battle to inflame the mind of our people by half truths into the frenzy of war in order that they may never appreciate the real cause of it until it is too late. I do not believe that our national honor is served by such a course. The right way is the honorable way.
The ground already is prepared, the soil tilled. The mission already is creeping.

Walmart Wage Increase?
too little? Symbolic? Head-fake?
500,000 - get a raise

greek Debt talks
6 month extension  for loan program Greece - renegotiate terms, no unilateral decision, reduce damage on poor
300 billion euros - supervised by the troika

Ukraine Ceasefire
pullout de-bolt-si-bah
whats next  - worried about Putin and the Baltic States
Russian/Nato expansion
Russian planes sighted and escorted away from British and California costs
sighted near Baltic nations as well
Rega - capitol of Latvia

Progressive Press

Sunday, February 15, 2015

PNN - International Journalists

PNN - 2/15/15

rws                    7:01 - 7:07
Lori Price           7:08 - 7:47
Cris Costello      7:50 - 8:05
Greg Palast       8:15 - 8:45pm

1. Gov. Koch Walker from TPM

It slashes public broadcasting funding in the state, cuts $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system, shrinks the secretary of state's office (which battled Walker over his push to roll back collective bargaining rights), proposes drug testing for recipients of food stamps, Medicaid, and jobless benefits, and makes major changes to the state's judicial branch (including targeting the liberal chief justice of the Supreme Court with a pay cut).

It really hits all the right notes: keeping people as ignorant as possible while targeting the people Walker and his kind really don't like—anyone who's vulnerable and anyone who doesn't like their ideas.
The budget is a dreamboat of conservative overreach that aims to whip up the GOP base and confound liberals by targeting everything they hold dear: education, public broadcasting, justice, and a public safety net for the disadvantaged.

"I think everybody believes it's tied to the presidential campaign," University of Wisconsin political scientist Barry Burden told TPM. "It's not just that the government is going to grow at a slower rate than it had been or that it's going to grow slower than inflation, in at least one of the years in the next budget, there's actually a reduction in the total spending of the state. So it's a pretty dramatic budget."

2. Corporate-Thief-ocracy
If you want to get a good understanding of how thoroughly corrupted and sold-out our government in Washington is, check out the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the latest in a series of trade "deals" that is heading towards passage right now in Congress, and that, like its predecessors, NAFTA and CAFTA, as well as the World Trade Organization, will be sucking jobs out of the US for years to come.

The key point to notice about TPP, as with earlier trade deals, is that it is being negotiated in secret. The reason for this is that there are so many outrages in it which undermine US sovereignty and democratic control, and so many things in the deal that benefit multinational corporations at the expense of the American worker and the broader American public that there would be almost universal outrage if they were known.

What really demonstrates the collapse of US democracy is that even though the Republican Party claims to loath and distrust President Obama, Republican majorities in both House and Senate have voted to give him "fast-track" authority to negotiate the TPP. That means Republicans in Congress want this man whom they claim to completely distrust to negotiate the whole TPP treaty, and then to present it to them as an unalterable take-it-or-leave it deal, with no amendments or changes allowed.

Why are they doing this? Because the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, like the president, want to pass this bill without letting the public find out what's in it. And the members of Congress of both parties, who have been flooded with campaign contributions (really bribes) and other perks by corporate America to ensure that TPP is passed without discussion.

Where else could you find a government body that would willingly -- no enthusiastically -- surrender its power to investigate, debate and amend a major bill or, in this case, treaty? Especially a government body that is run by one party that is surrendering its power to the leader of the supposed opposing party -- a man who is openly loathed and distrusted by them?

What this demonstrates is that the whole government in Washington -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- is owned now by corporate America. What corporate America wants is what this thoroughly corrupted government gives it.

So what are they giving away in TPP? Well, the main thing is that the TPP cedes to an unelected supra-national body of government bureaucrats the right to decide in secret tribunals whether some law in a member country -- say the US -- unfairly restricts trade. And if that secret tribunal concludes that the law does restrict trade or interferes with some multinational company's ability to make obscene profits doing something that the country in question has democratically decided it shouldn't be able to do, the nation's law is ruled to be invalid.

This is true even if the company that is filing a complaint with the tribunal is based in the country whose law is being challenged!

Take a hypothetical example. If General Electric, a huge US-based multinational company that actually earns most of its revenues and profits and has most of its employees these days based overseas, were to file a complaint with the TPP claiming that a US law banning the import of microwave ovens that leak dangerous microwaves when they are used is interfering with sales of a product that they are making in China for sale in the US, the TPP bureaucrats could rule that America's safety laws concerning microwave devices is illegal.

Outrageous? Of course it is. Product safety rules in the US are voted into law by the elected representatives of the people of the US, and the idea that unelected bureaucrats from other countries could simply toss them out runs counter to any principle of democracy.

But why be hypothetical? As the always spot-on political gadfly Jim Hightower notes, a WTO tribunal in 2012 overturned a popular law passed by Congress in 2002 that mandates that food companies always note on the label the country of origin of the food we buy in the US. Hightower notes that since passage of that Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Act, US corporations in the food industry have lobbied furiously, but unsuccessfully, to get it overturned. They always failed because some 90% of Americans want to know where their food comes from (understandably since so many countries have even worse food safety laws than our own) and even our corrupted Congress has not had the guts to challenge that powerful a public sentiment, at least openly.

So instead, they let the WTO do it by ceding to the WTO the power to overturn national laws passed by WTO member states!

Now if you are angry that COOL is no longer the law of the land, your Congresscritter can say, "Gee, that's terrible, but what can we do. We passed that law, but the WTO overturned it."

And it gets worse. These international trade treaties that Congress keeps passing also allow companies that win in an international tribunal to get "damages" from the country whose law was overturned. But in a particularly nasty turn of the knife, since most big corporations are multinational now, with subsidiaries all over the globe, it turns out that the very companies that were unable to get Congress to repeal a law like COOL can have an overseas subsidiary file a protest with the WTO, or NAFTA or, if it passes, the TPP, and then accomplish what the parent company couldn't accomplish through domestic lobbying (bribery). And it can get the US taxpayer to fork over damages, which then accrue to the parent company back in the US.

3. CCR _ Guantanamo Closure must remain a priority - CCR

ebruary 4, 2015 — In light of Ashton Carter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
The next secretary of defense will play a pivotal role helping President Obama fulfill his commitment to close Guantanamo. If Ashton Carter is confirmed by the Senate, as appears likely, he must make it a priority to take a leading role in maintaining the current momentum of transfers. Twenty-seven men have been released from Guantanamo since November— bringing the population down to 122. Of those remaining, 54 have been cleared for release by every prominent military and intelligence agency in the U.S. government, including the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security; still others have been cleared for release after close review by the military’s Periodic Review Board. There is absolutely no moral or legal justification for their continued detention. With Guantanamo entering its 14th year in operation and two years left in President Obama’s final term, it is paramount that the next secretary of defense, together with the president, be personally engaged in closing the prison.

4.Free Speech Case on Right to Boycott Goes Before Washington Supreme Court
January 20, 2015, Olympia, WA – The constitutionality of a Washington State law protecting citizens from meritless lawsuits that undermine free speech rights was defended today in oral arguments before the Washington Supreme Court. The lawsuit at issue had challenged the Olympia Food Co-op board's decision to boycott goods from Israel in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to end Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands. The law protects against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which are filed against defendants because of their speech or public participation on a matter of public concern.  SLAPPs are brought to silence the defendants by burdening them with the costs and stress of a lawsuit, irrespective of the ultimate merit and outcome of the case. The case was filed by five co-op members against 16 current and former board members. A lower court swiftly dismissed the case as a SLAPP and held that participation in the boycott is protected by the First Amendment, a decision upheld by the Court of Appeals. 
“This case is part of a nationwide orchestrated effort to silence speech critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian human rights,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood.  “It is also a prime example of the importance of Anti-SLAPP laws: three years after this meritless SLAPP was filed, concerned citizens who were once volunteer co-op board members―and no longer even serve on the board―remain embroiled in a lawsuit over speech protected by the First Amendment. It’s long past time for this harassment-by-lawsuit to be stopped.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights has fought myriad forms of repression against people who speak out on behalf of Palestinian rights in the United States.  These silencing efforts have included attempts to curb student activism; to pass legislation that limits the right to boycott; and to punish university faculty for their speech critical of Israel, as in the case of Professor Steven Salaita, whom CCR also represents.

“We believe that Washington law appropriately protects the rights of ordinary citizens to take a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian controversy without fear of a retaliatory lawsuit designed, in the words of our Legislature, to cause ‘great expense, harassment, and interruption of their productive activities,’” said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, who argued the case before the Washington Supreme Court today.

Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals previously rejected the challenge to the constitutionality of the Anti-SLAPP statute.  Both courts also awarded and affirmed, respectively, $10,000 in statutory damages for each of the sixteen defendants, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.

5. was jeffrey starlings trial a gvt effort to divide journalists & whistle-blowers

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Norman, I also want to ask you about the recent conviction of Jeffrey Sterling, the former CIA officer who leaked classified information about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to journalist James Risen of The New York Times. You were in the courtroom for the trial. Can you talk about the significance of the case?

NORMAN SOLOMON: An extremely important case, very underreported by the news media, a tremendous selective prosecution against one of the only African-American case officers in the CIA, somebody who went through channels as a whistleblower to the Senate Intelligence Committee to report in 2003 about a dumb and dangerous CIA operation aimed at Iran with nuclear design component information back in 2000. So, Sterling went on trial last month in federal court for revealing to the Senate Intelligence Committee something that the Senate Intelligence Committee needed to know, but the actual charges were, as you mentioned, that he leaked the classified info to James Risen. Being in the courtroom day after day for the seven-day trial, very disturbing, not only the selective prosecution, but also the fact no African Americans on the jury, 23 CIA officials testifying, and a tremendous amount of innuendo against the defendant in that case.

So, I really urge people to look into it more closely, because Jeffrey Sterling deserves support. All of the evidence presented by the prosecution was circumstantial. It was metadata, email and phone call metadata, without content of any incriminating nature. So the bottom line is, Jeffrey Sterling is facing a nine-count sentencing of federal felonies, up to 80 years in prison, on the basis of circumstantial evidence that is metadata. And let me announce right now that today is launching a support campaign for the Sterling family fund, and people who want to find out more about that fund can go to

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, of course, James Risen got a lot more attention, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist who was being prosecuted, persecuted by both—from the Bush administration right through the Obama administration, but he was saying, no matter what happened, whether he would go to jail or not, he would not reveal his source. So, the fact that he didn’t do this, but did ultimately—did agree to be questioned, what was the significance of this?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, ultimately, I think that James Risen was very honorable and principled. He never gave any information to the court or anyone else to help the government identify any of his sources. And the government was clearly trying to push Risen up against the wall. He refused to flinch, and he stuck with his principles.

Speaking of principles, at and elsewhere, in organizing campaigns on behalf of James Risen and now on behalf of Jeffrey Sterling, we’re really resolute with the principle that we’ve got to support investigative journalists and whistleblowers. We can’t allow the government to drive a wedge between the two. You can’t have the informed consent of the governed unless you have whistleblowers who give us the unofficial stories and journalists who are willing and able to report them.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, we want to thank you for being with us, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-founder of, author of many books, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

6. Keystone xl / GOP vision for 2016
By accelerating the exploitation of fossil fuels across the continent, reducing governmental oversight of drilling operations in all three countries, and building more cross-border pipelines like the Keystone XL, Christie explained, all three countries would be guaranteed dramatic economic growth.  “In North America, we have resources waiting to be tapped,” he assured business leaders in Mexico City.  “What is required is the vision to maximize our growth, the political will to unlock our potential, and the understanding that working together on strategic priorities... is the path to a better life.”

At first glance, Christie’s blueprint for his North American energy renaissance seems to be a familiar enough amalgam of common Republican tropes: support for that Keystone XL pipeline slated to bring Canadian tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, along with unbridled energy production everywhere; opposition to excessive governmental regulation; free trade… well, you know the mantra.  But don’t be fooled.  Something far grander -- and more sinister -- is being proposed.  It’s nothing less than a plan to convert Canada and Mexico into energy colonies of the United States, while creating a North American power bloc capable of aggressively taking on Russia, China, and other foreign challengers.

This outlook -- call it North Americanism -- is hardly unique to Christie.  It pervades the thinking of top Republican leaders and puts their otherwise almost inexplicably ardent support of Keystone XL in a new light.  As most analysts now concede, that pipeline will do little to generate long-term jobs or promote U.S. energy independence. (Much of the tar sands oil it’s designed to carry will be refined in the U.S., but exported elsewhere).  In fact, with oil prices plunging globally, it looks ever more like a white elephant of a project, yet it remains the Republican majority’s top legislative priority.  The reason: it is the concrete manifestation of Christie-style North American energy integration, and for that reason is considered sacred by Republican proponents of North Americanism.  “This is not about sending ‘your oil’ across ‘our land,’” Christie insisted in Calgary.  “It’s about maximizing the benefits of North America’s natural resources for everybody.”

While North American energy integration may, in part, appeal to Republicans for the way it would enrich major U.S. oil companies, pipeline firms, and some energy-industry workers -- the “everybody” in Christie’s remarks -- its real allure lies in the way they believe it will buttress the more hawkish and militarized foreign policy that so many in the GOP now favor.  By boosting fossil fuel production in North America, Keystone’s backers claim, the U.S. will be less dependent on imports from the Middle East and so in a stronger position to combat Russia, Iran, ISIS, and other foreign challengers.

Authorization for Keystone XL and related energy infrastructure is important “not just for economic development, not just for jobs and growth,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas declared in January, “but also for the enormous geopolitical advantages that it will present to the United States [by strengthening] our hands against those who would be enemies of America.”

7.The FCC’s Latest Net Neutrality Proposal: Pros, Cons, and Question Marks

Last week, we received some welcome news: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publicly confirmed that it is finally going to put its open internet rules on the right legal footing by reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers.  That said, the goal was never just reclassification; that’s just an essential step for open internet rules to survive the inevitable court challenge.  The real goal, though, has always been for the FCC to adopt targeted rules of the road for broadband. Will it?

That’s still hard to know, because the FCC has been pretty quiet, at least publicly, on the details of the final rules that will be put to a vote on February 26.  Here are some thoughts on what we know so far – and what we’d like to know. 

The FCC’s statements have stressed three bright-line rules:

No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration – in other words, no “fast lanes” – including fast lanes for affiliates.
These are all good ideas.  If net neutrality means anything, it means no unfair discrimination based on application or service, and these rules seem aimed at just that. But there’s at least one worrisome bit: the repeated reference to “lawful content.”  Does the FCC intend to suggest that throttling unlawful content is OK?  How are ISPs to determine what is and is not lawful without snooping on their users?  Can an ISP block access to the Pirate Bay without fear of violating open internet rules?

Another good idea is requiring providers to be more transparent.  We can’t hold broadband providers accountable if we don’t know what they’re up to.  The FCC can make that requirement more meaningful, though, if it makes sure that “transparency” includes an obligation to make the information public and fully accessible, online, so watchdog groups can parse it and make it understandable for the general public.

Also good: the FCC has promised to forbear from rate regulation and imposing new taxes and fees.  It also promises that there won’t be “burdensome” filing requirements or accounting. Let's hope it fulfills those promises.

Less good: the FCC appears to have taken the notion of unbundling off the table completely.  That’s too bad, because unbundling rules (meaning, rules requiring service providers to lease out their lines on fair and nondiscriminatory terms) were essential to the existence of real service competition in the early days of the Internet.  Those 20th century rules probably could not be adopted wholesale for broadband, but we urged the FCC to seek further comment on what rules might be appropriate for the 21st century.  It should still do so, perhaps in a separate proceeding.

Back in May, the FCC asked for comment on whether and how it should address interconnection and it has now promised to address ISP interconnection practices that are unjust and unreasonable.  Based on what we know, the FCC plans to address such complaints on a case-by-case basis.  That, unfortunately, could be a recipe for litigation and confusion, as the FCC, providers, and customers fight over what qualifies as “unjust and unreasonable.”

The same concern applies to the FCC’s promise to adopt a “general conduct” rule.  The FCC says its proposal will “create a general Open Internet conduct standard that ISPs cannot harm consumers or edge providers.” Understandably, the FCC wants to have the flexibility to address future unfair practices that we can’t yet anticipate, without having another decade-long fight.  But it’s also very easy to see it as a recipe for FCC overreach.

The FCC could help put these concerns to rest (or at least alleviate them) by sharing more details about its proposal with the public, before the February 26th vote.  So why haven't they done so?

One reason is standard legal procedure doesn’t require it. The law that ultimately governs FCC rulemaking procedures doesn’t require the FCC to publish every iteration of the rules it votes on—it just needs to base the rules on the public record. Having taken in more than 4 million comments about net neutrality in the past year, the FCC likely feels it has an adequate public record that reflects input from all sides of this debate. And it may be concerned that releasing the full rules in advance of the meeting could lead to calls for another full comment period, which would delay what has already been a pretty exhausting process for everyone. 

So we get it -- but we won't pretend it's not an issue. We hope we are close to sustainable and sensible open Internet rules, and there are things to like about what we're heard so far.  But we are also worried about some of what the FCC seems to be contemplating, and we certainly can’t fully support rules we haven’t read.  Instead of trusting the FCC to do the right thing, we need to verify, and that means we need more details—but not more delay. 

8. BBC Dismisses a Real Greek Economist as a Sexy ideologue
Yves here. I know some readers have begged to differ, but Very Serious People are not described in the same terms as pop culture icons. Thus, as Bill Black points out, the “rock star” branding of Varoufakis is a way to depict him as a colorful, entertaining lightweight.
I’m loath to use the term, but objectification is a commonly used device to put women in their place. For instance, since in a professional setting, in a meeting with one woman only, the fastest way to discredit the woman is to comment on her appearance (which reinforces “she’s not one of us, her proper role is to be someone’s date/husband”) or worst, make an out and out sexist remark (I’ve had this happen, for instance, someone accusing me of getting an account by virtue of having slept with the client. In this case, it was particularly off base because the client exec in question was a closeted gay man).
Contrast the fixation of Varoufakis’ dress and appearance with say, that of Timothy Geithner, who had a big following among the female members of the press corps (men who’ve been mystified by his sex appeal have often mentioned this to me) and was also athletic. You’d see an occasional mention made, but it was never the core of his image.
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives
In its web version, the BBC “News” has you click on a tease titled “Yanis Varoufakis, charismatic ideologue” to access a story dated February 13, 2015 entitled “Profile: Yanis Varoufakis, Greek bailout foe.” Neither the tease nor the title make any sense. Varoufakis is the Greek finance minister. Except, of course, we’re reading this in the BBC, so the description actually reads “Greece’s left-wing Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.” Funny, the BBC never describes the head of the ECB as “the ultra-right-wing” economist Mario Draghi or Jeroen Dijsselloem, the Dutch Finance Minister and troika hit man as the “ultra-ultra-right-wing” non-economist.

The BBC “profile” is not unremittingly hostile to Varoufakis – it simply refuses to take him seriously. Varoufakis is a highly competent academic economist. His policy views have proven correct, as even the BBC (back-handedly) concedes by calling him Greece’s “Cassandra.” So why does the BBC treat Varoufakis as a sexy leftist and Dijsselboem as the respected spokesperson for the troika even though Dijsselboem is a fanatic ideologue who has caused massive human misery because of the intersection of his inflexible ideology and economic incompetence?
Varoufakis’ views on the self-destructive nature of austerity as a response to the Great Recession are mainstream economic views. He certainly is a leftist, but his policy views arise from different ideological traditions most people would find antagonistic. That makes him a non-ideologue as the term is defined. The troika, by contrast, is led entirely by ideologues. The primary difference is that they are exceptionally bad economists and exceptionally indifferent to the human misery they inflict on the workers of the periphery that they despise and ridicule. The BBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal will never write a “profile” of the troika’s leadership that makes any of these points. The BBC profile is another example of what I call “revealed biases.” “Journalists” and media organs routinely reveal and betray their biases – biases that they hotly deny but rarely escape.

Sunday, February 08, 2015


PNN - 2/8/15

7:00pm -  RWS
7:17pm - Mike Levine
   8:08pm - Mickey Carroll

0. Preliminary @ St. Johns River

Florida Attorney Steve Medina has been working on a case, pro bono, to expose the environmental corruption which has been taking place in Tallahassee and Putnam County, Florida.
Tons of toxic waste is being dumped into St. Johns River, daily, by the Koch Brothers company, Georgia-Pacific. Aspects of the deal allowing Georgia Pacific to massively assault the environment, were misleading, sometimes illegal, and unbeknownst to the local citizens. Florida Governor Rick Scott and former Governor (and Republican presidential hopeful), Jeb Bush, are also involved.
Last week, Steve Medina sent me the information below, for Daily Kos to break the story. The corruption evolves and unravels in a complicated and insidious manner and spans for about a decade, so enjoy the read. All of Medina's reporting is backed up via extensive public records and court documents. With his permission, here is Steve Medina's story:
We have learned recently that Florida Governor *Rick “Fifth Amendment” Scott is, how shall we say, ethically-challenged. Actually, that has been known for a long time, but who’s counting the past, this is Florida, land of forgiveness, opportunity, and no state income tax! Give them your relaxed, your wealthy, your huddled plutocrats yearning to breathe free. Put your wretched refuse beneath their teaming shores. Send these, the multi-homed, tempest-tossed, to them: Their elected officials snuff out their lamp beside the golden door.
You may know Florida’s immediately past commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement seems to have been given the heave ho by Governor Scott not only for patently political reasons but without particular attention to Florida law. (In Florida, if you are Governor Scott, perhaps you would not want an FDLE commissioner who actually investigates things, especially potential white collar crimes involving public corruption.)
Meanwhile, you probably don’t know that, for the past two years, thanks to Governor Scott, a veritable fountainhead of toxic waste has been directly dumped every day into the heart of “Florida’s American Heritage River,” the St. Johns. As discussed below, it is released through what is contended in a legal action to be an illegally-approved pipeline, the circumstances of which Governor Scott, as the current chairperson of Florida’s Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, refuses to investigate.
To investigate these circumstances would be to investigate the highly questionable actions of yet another state agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. These actions in turn reach back into the Jeb Bush administration (1999-2007), when then Governor Bush and the Florida Cabinet, over the objection of then Attorney General Charlie Crist, gave preliminary approval for a Georgia-Pacific pipeline from its Palatka paper mill to the St. Johns River.

1. At Johns River

In Florida, the Governor appoints the Secretary of the FDEP. In north Florida, paper mills have been big business since the Depression. So paper companies take a keen interest in who runs the FDEP. Jeb Bush’s FDEP head would eventually leave to take a top position with another transnational paper company, International Paper.
In the first half of Jeb Bush’s first term, higher level staff of the FDEP worked closely behind closed doors with Georgia-Pacific to outline how it could best win approval for a pipeline to transfer the Georgia-Pacific paper mill’s point of discharge from Rice Creek to the St. Johns River. This is the “dilution is the solution to pollution” mode of conduct preferred by industry, which would rather not recycle and treat the discharges on land when discharging into a water body will produce cost-savings.

In 2003, Governor Jeb Bush and the Cabinet, with a lone dissenter in Charlie Crist, voted, after the most cursory of consideration of the impacts to the river, to give what the FDEP concedes was only preliminary approval of a private easement into the river for the Georgia-Pacific pipeline. Importantly then, to construct and use the pipeline would require not only an FDEP wetlands permit (called an environmental resource permit [ERP]) and a FDEP water pollution permit (called a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System [NPDES] permit), but also the finalization of the preliminary approval given by the Governor and Cabinet for issuance of the pipeline easement.
In 2005 FDEP, acting as agent for the Trustees, under mysterious circumstances, buried this “Trustees’” finalization inside a FDEP “notice of intent to issue permit,” which was the wetlands permit or ERP. This grossly misleading, and thereby apparently constitutionally-defective, notice published by Georgia-Pacific Corp. in the Palatka Daily News did not give reasonable Floridians who might have happened to glance at that paper’s legal ads that day open and fair warning that the notice was about not only the wetlands permit but also about the easement. This is a due process problem.
Interestingly, at virtually the same time the public was given an impenetrable newspaper notice, Georgia-Pacific received a clearly labeled and understandable notice that specifically referred to the easement in the title:

In 2005 FDEP would have been well aware of the risk of a citizen challenge to the easement. Soon after the misleading newspaper notice involving the Palatka Mill, another nearby mill on the Fenholloway River, represented by the same lawyers as Georgia-Pacific, was able to get a citizen challenge filed in 1997 to a trustee's decision dismissed because the petitioner died. See: and
Another point, substantively-troublesome, that the citizens and environmental groups make, is that under Florida’s public trust doctrine, which not only has constitutional status in Florida but also is enunciated in the Trustees’ own rules, the Trustees are supposed to make a careful full-blown determination of the public interest of the entire project. That means the costs and benefits and the money savings that would be enjoyed by Georgia-Pacific from the river dumping must be on the table and fully considered by the Trustees. This did not occur in 2003, and has never occurred. And, because the public was denied fair public notice, the public never was given the opportunity to request a formal evidentiary hearing on the pros, cons, and just compensation to the public for the pipeline.

We also now know that the pipeline entails a “chronic toxicity” mixing zone, as well as several other mixing zones, that are beyond the boundaries of the preliminarily-approved easement. These, the citizens and environmental groups contend, should be part of any approved final easement and, in any event, must be carefully considered by the Trustees in reaching any final decision. Minimal compensation was eventually paid for the pipeline easement construction itself but no compensation was made for the cost-savings to and profits from the project to Georgia-Pacific, plus none for the areas that would be smothered with toxic waste, including the mixing zones, and for the diminished swimming and fishing use in the affected areas, which as stated involve chronically toxic waste no sensible person would want to swim or fish in.
In 2009, without any additional newspaper notice, FDEP staff quietly issued Georgia-Pacific the easement. Meanwhile, the citizens and environmental groups did not know anything about the easement issuance.
They learned in 2012 that Georgia-Pacific had completed construction of the pipeline and was about to turn on the pipeline and begin spewing toxic waste without an easement that had been finally-approved by the Trustees. They also learned that the project did not even have an NPDES permit with the chronic toxicity mixing zone the company would now be relying upon. FDEP remedied the lack of the NPDES permit by rushing through an NPDES permit with the mixing zones Georgia-Pacific wanted in order to save costs. But neither the Trustees nor the FDEP did anything to remedy the procedural and substantive defects with the pipeline easement.
So, in the summer of 2012, the citizens and environmental groups filed a direct petition in the Florida Supreme Court seeking a mandamus requiring the Trustees to comply with the public trust doctrine and the due process doctrine. The Trustees have never provided any explanation for the curious 2005 newspaper notice. Moreover, the Trustees have completely put their heads in the sand about the lawsuit, allowing FDEP, the apparently inept if not corrupt agent, to do all the talking for them.
The Florida Supreme Court remanded the case to the Leon County circuit court of Bush v. Gore fame. There, Jeb Bush’s hand-picked chief judge of this important circuit elected to keep the case himself. He ultimately granted summary judgment for the Trustees, acting through the FDEP, and Georgia-Pacific, which intervened. He essentially rubberstamped the FDEP and Georgia-Pacific proposed orders, which virtually ignored the gross newspaper notice defects, and focused on the fact that the mixing zones had now received an NPDES permit. In essence, the so-called agent, FDEP, would permanently gut the Trustees’ substantive fiduciary responsibilities, and the Trustees’ responsibilities to give fair notice and evidentiary hearings, and force the public to solely look to the captive-regulatory agency FDEP for any relief.
His decision is now on appeal to the First District Court of Appeal, which is also in Tallahassee. The recently-filed final brief of the citizens and environmental groups sums up the matter:

No responsible landowner would be expected to allow his or her property to become a dumping ground for toxic waste. If he or she had some reason for doing so, he or she would be expected to negotiate a high price for the privilege. Appellants want no more or less for the portions of the public’s property which they use and enjoy in the heart of the St. John’s River. Where their Trustees fail in this regard, Appellants must be able to hold them responsible.
They also point out the apparent corruption involved with the newspaper notice, which FDEP labels “character assassination,” but which Governor Scott and the three members of the all-Republican cabinethave failed to investigate:
This situation should be embarrassing both to FDEP and to the Trustees who are effectively countenancing FDEP’s behavior, but that does not make it character assassination. It is the fact-driven context for a patently unconstitutional problem of lack of reasonable notice by publication.
Further, these facts buttress the conclusion that mandamus is necessary because this problem will only go away if the judicial branch steps in and specifically requires it to be remedied. FDEP is not going to impress upon the Board the need to do so. It is the very agent whose conduct needs to be carefully scrutinized by the Trustees. By the nature of the situation it has an obvious conflict of interest and cannot serve as the unbiased reporter of its own failures as an agent. These failures are a central component of the Trustees’ failures. In the premises, FDEP is the antithesis of what a fiduciaries’ agent should be.
Appellants should not be forced to sugar-coat FDEP’s conduct under the pretense of avoiding “character assassination.” Exactly who did what and why at FDEP are obviously not matters FDEP has any intention of divulging. There certainly appears to have been an effort by an unknown person or persons at FDEP to make the prior Trustees’ preliminary approval “final” through a grossly misleading newspaper notice. This notice lacked the truth-in-labelling, openness, and simple readable clarity of the direct notice by mail which FDEP was, at virtually the same time, mailing to Georgia-Pacific. If Georgia-Pacific needed a clear and understandable notice, so, it should be obvious, did the citizens of the State of Florida. If this was not the result of corruption, it is a strangely coincidental case of gross negligence.
Representing the citizens and environmental groups, this link provides court documents put online by Steve Medina, giving details short of a full investigation.
My thanks to Steve Medina, for sharing this story with us, and generously giving his valuable time and energy to seek out the truth and expose acts of dissipation by the likes of the Koch Brothers, Rick Scott, and Jeb Bush. We need more like you, Mr. Medina.
Tue Feb 03, 2015 at  3:20 PM PT

To contact Steve Medina relating to the St. Johns River Georgia-Pacific Pipeline matter, please go through Linda Young, Executive Director of Florida Clean Water Network (FL-CWN), at
Further information may also be found at FL-CWN’s website:

Florida Attorney Steve Medina has been working on a case, pro bono, to expose the environmental corruption which has been taking place in Tallahassee and Putnam County, Florida.
Tons of toxic waste is being dumped into St. Johns River, daily, by the Koch Brothers company, Georgia-Pacific. Aspects of the deal allowing Georgia Pacific to massively assault the environment, were misleading, sometimes illegal, and unbeknownst to the local citizens. Florida Governor Rick Scott and former Governor (and Republican presidential hopeful), Jeb Bush, are also involved.
Last week, Steve Medina sent me the information below, for Daily Kos to break the story. The corruption evolves and unravels in a complicated and insidious manner and spans for about a decade, so enjoy the read. All of Medina's reporting is backed up via extensive public records and court documents. With his permission, here is Steve Medina's story:
We have learned recently that Florida Governor *Rick “Fifth Amendment” Scott is, how shall we say, ethically-challenged. Actually, that has been known for a long time, but who’s counting the past, this is Florida, land of forgiveness, opportunity, and no state income tax! Give them your relaxed, your wealthy, your huddled plutocrats yearning to breathe free. Put your wretched refuse beneath their teaming shores. Send these, the multi-homed, tempest-tossed, to them: Their elected officials snuff out their lamp beside the golden door.
You may know Florida’s immediately past commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement seems to have been given the heave ho by Governor Scott not only for patently political reasons but without particular attention to Florida law. (In Florida, if you are Governor Scott, perhaps you would not want an FDLE commissioner who actually investigates things, especially potential white collar crimes involving public corruption.)
Meanwhile, you probably don’t know that, for the past two years, thanks to Governor Scott, a veritable fountainhead of toxic waste has been directly dumped every day into the heart of “Florida’s American Heritage River,” the St. Johns. As discussed below, it is released through what is contended in a legal action to be an illegally-approved pipeline, the circumstances of which Governor Scott, as the current chairperson of Florida’s Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, refuses to investigate.
To investigate these circumstances would be to investigate the highly questionable actions of yet another state agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. These actions in turn reach back into the Jeb Bush administration (1999-2007), when then Governor Bush and the Florida Cabinet, over the objection of then Attorney General Charlie Crist, gave preliminary approval for a Georgia-Pacific pipeline from its Palatka paper mill to the St. Johns River.
Please join Equality Florida Institute, along with Florida CHAIN and LGBT HealthLink, for a statewide Telephone Town Hall this Tuesday, February 10th at 6:00pm (ET). We will discuss a variety of healthcare topics important to Florida’s LGBT community, including the newly released LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights (HBOR) and the upcoming February 15th open enrollment deadline for the health insurance marketplace at

The Tele-Town Hall will be moderated by Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith and will feature a panel of experts including: Dr. Scout, Director of LGBT HealthLink; Athena Smith Ford, Advocacy Director of Florida CHAIN and Brian Winfield, Managing Director of Equality Florida and Steering Committee Co-Chair of LGBT HealthLink. 

Governor Scott and the South Florida Water Management District have a historic opportunity to require land needed to store water in the Everglades Agricultural Area that expires in October!  The EAA Reservoir, a Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan “CERP” project, would send water south to the Everglades while reducing pollution from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. 

WHEN: Thursday, February 12, 2015
TIME: 9:00am
WHERE: SFWMD Headquarters
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Our environment and economy can’t wait!  While the Everglades is starved for water, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers are polluted with discharges from Lake Okeechobee that destroy jobs, hurt our economy, lower real estate values and pose a health risks to Florida families.

WE NEED YOU!  Tell Governing Board members that the solution is clear – we need to buy land in the EAA for a reservoir today!!!

Can’t attend the meeting?  Join the online conversation and send your message on social media using the following handles and hashtags:

#buytheland #senditsouth #Everglades #Indianriverlagoon #Caloosahatchee #EAAreservoir  @Flgovscott @SFWMD

DeSmogBlog, which covers the fact that former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been named to the Board of Directors of the company Energy Transfer Partners. Besides owning a proposed fracked gas exports terminal in Lake Charles, La., Energy Transfer also owns a major proposed Bakken Shale fracked oil pipeline set to bisect Iowa.
10 million 'missing' gallons of crude oil from BP's 2010 oil spill has been found
Having "eluded" both the BP cleanup crews and our government for 5 years, 10 million gallons of crude oil has finally shown up.
Up to 10 million gallons (38 million liters) of crude oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has settled at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where it is threatening wildlife and marine ecosystems, according to a new study.
This study supports one that came out a year ago that projected a little more oil on the bottom of the Gulf. In the end, both projections remind of us of the long term impacts of environmental negligence.
For now, the sunken oil may help keep the water above it clear and free of black oil particles, Chanton said, but it's turning into a long-term problem.

"There's less oxygen down there, and so that will slow the decomposition rate of the oil," Chanton said. "It might be there for a long period of time, a little reservoir of contamination." Moreover, the oil may cause tumors and lesions on underwater animals, research suggests.