Saturday, March 07, 2015

PNN 3/8/15 - Marching Forward

RWS - News Director
Luis Cuevas Director Progressive Push
Meredith Ockman SE Regional Director N.O. W.
Athene Ford - Florida Chain (Pre-recorded)
Prof. Mickey Huff - Project Censored - (Pre-recorded)

The sponsor of a controversial water bill defended his proposal to set aside some Lake Okeechobee regulations and replace them with a cleanup program scientists call ineffective.
Rep. Matthew Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, answered questions as his bill was heard for the first time on the House floor Wednesday. HB 7003 now is ready for a vote, which hasn’t been scheduled.
The legislation eliminates a program that issues land permits to reduce phosphorus in lake water and replaces it with Basin Management Action Plans — known by the acronym BMAP — that exist for major water bodies in Florida.
Basin Management Plans, however, “will not achieve” state-approved pollution reduction targets in the lake or the St. Lucie River, a University of Florida Water Institute study released Monday found.
Those management plans largely rely on “best management practices,” which are techniques farmers can implement to reduce runoff filled with fertilizer and pesticides from their land into waterways. Farmers are considered to be reducing pollution if they implement measures such as reducing fertilizer. But there’s no further enforcement.
“All they have to do is claim they are changing the way they handle manure and fertilizer and they get a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said David Guest, managing attorney of the advocacy group Earthjustice, in a prepared statement.
Caldwell said “there’s a big misconception in the environmental community on how BMAPs work.”
Each management plan is revised every five years, allowing the Legislature to know what projects work and what else needs to be done to restore waterways instead of relying on a plan that could become obsolete, he said.
Although best management practices are voluntary, farmers who don’t follow them are subject to Department of Environmental Protection regulations that could result in penalties, he said.
“If we want to have a reliable process …. the BMAP process is the way to do that,” Caldwell said.
Audubon Florida, one of the top state environmental lobbyist organizations, also opposes the bill, criticizing a provision that eliminates a 2015 deadline for meeting water quality standards without creating a new one. Audubon also criticized the lack of a deadline for pollution reduction in Florida’s springs.
A Senate committee discussed Wednesday a similar bill that doesn’t contain the controversial measures included in the House version. SB 918 deals mainly with enhancing springs regulations, requires the state to identify septic tanks within springs protection zones, creates an advisory committee to rank water projects and creates a trail network and calls for the creation of an online map and a mobile application that show state-owned land locations and what amenities they offer to the public.

1. Martin County: Beach & River Water Sampling Results 
3/5/2015 Update: Samples collected on Monday, March 2, 2015 and March 4, 2015 at the Roosevelt Bridge and Leighton Park Bridge (old Palm City) exceeded the acceptable range for enterococcus bacteria. An advisory to avoid contact with the water at both locations has been issued. All samples collected at other locations in the river and at the beaches were within the acceptable range. Samples will be collected again on Monday, March 9, 2015.

1a. NO LAKES and NO STREAMS are Swimmable in the land of the Lakes (MN)
No lakes and only a few streams in Minnesota's southwest corner meet the state's quality standards for fishing and swimming.
That bleak assessment comes from a recently released Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study that blames high levels of bacteria, nitrates and sediment in the water.
The agency examined lakes and streams across the four watersheds in southwest Minnesota that are part of the Missouri River Basin. It looked at 93 of 181 streams and found only three that fully supported aquatic life and recreation.

• Related: Lawmakers want final say on water quality rules
"None of the lakes in the Missouri River Basin met the aquatic recreation standard," the report added.

Improving the region's water health will require changes to land draining techniques, "especially reducing pollutants from farming practices," and working with land owners to limit contaminants, the MPCA said.

2. Letter from the "WHITEHOUSE"
(from the Whitehouse - Uhuh)

Hi everyone,
The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't just President Obama's proposed trade deal -- it's mine, too. It's a trade deal that millions of other online small business owners in this country would be proud to add their name to. I want to tell you why:
Every time I step through the doors of one of our 4,000-square-foot warehouses in Boulder and Denver, Colorado -- every time I see the bikes and cycling parts that line those walls and take in the energetic buzz of our 30-member team -- I take a step back and reflect on a simple fact: I own a business. It’s a "pinch-me" moment –- every time.
I am a cyclist and the proud co-owner of The Pro's Closet, an online used-cycling store. And because of the Internet and the availability of e-commerce platforms like eBay, we've gone global. After all, when it’s not cycling season in the U.S., it’s peak season somewhere else in the world.
International customers aren't just good for business abroad; they’re great for my Colorado communities. Why? Because selling in more markets means I can hire more people here at home. In fact, more small businesses are using the Internet to grow their business by reaching new customers they couldn't reach before.
It may seem like a really remote and technical issue, but it actually has a real impact on how small businesses like mine do business. Currently more than 40% of our transactions cross U.S. borders. Unfortunately, most of our trade rules were written in a "pre-Internet" era, which means they are a nightmare to navigate for small online businesses.
Here’s an example: Right now, customs rules are so inconsistent and hard to follow that if we put a cycling part in the wrong packaging or mail it with the wrong label, it won’t make it to our customer in one country. The rules are different for each country, and are sometimes set up in a way that completely blocks out American business.
That is why it is so important that we secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new kind of trade agreement that will ensure America writes the rules and levels the playing field for online businesses and American workers by:
  • Reducing and eliminating tariffs across the Asia-Pacific region
  • Streamlining customs procedures
  • Making the rules more transparent, consistent, and less costly
  • Helping keep the Internet open and free, enabling online businesses to operate without unnecessary infrastructure costs
Of course, as the President has said, not all of our past trade deals have lived up to their promise. Thankfully, this trade deal is on track to be different. In fact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is shaping up to be the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen. Here’s why:
I based my business on the principle of sustainability -- buying something "used" that already exists is the greenest way to shop. The Trans-Pacific Partnership seeks to do the same thing on a global scale. And that’s important to me not just because it is good policy, but because it means my company will compete on a level playing field.
The ins and outs of trade can be a bit daunting and in the weeds, especially for businesses that have to navigate the global economy to compete. But the impact is felt worldwide -- from a rural village in Vietnam to the pocketbooks of American workers here at home.

3. UPDATE - Anti-Seismic Rally
Others are Leading / DWCF is supporting + environmental youth council + sierra club+ st augustine mayor + opposing seismic blasting – east side bridhe – to 


5. Meaning Of 4 Words At Center Of Supreme Court ACA Fight
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court next week hears a challenge to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul that hinges on just four words in the massive law that seeks to dramatically reduce the ranks of the uninsured. The argument threatens subsidies that help make insurance affordable to consumers in about three dozen states.
The lawsuit focuses on the health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, that have been set up to allow people to find coverage if they don't get insurance through their jobs or the government. The challengers argue that the health law provides subsidies only to people who get their insurance through an exchange "established by the state." But most states have not established their own marketplaces and instead rely on the federal
The administration says that consumers in all 50 states are eligible for subsidies and that Congress would not have passed a law that omits help for so much of the nation.
Q. Why is the eligibility for subsidies such an important part of the law?
A. Aware of failed efforts on the state level to reduce the number of uninsured, the architects of the health law included three related requirements: Insurers can't deny coverage because of "pre-existing" health conditions; almost everyone must be insured, in order to get enough healthy people into the system; and consumers who otherwise would spend too much of their paycheck on their premiums get financial help in the form of tax credits. That last piece, the subsidies, is designed to keep enough people in the pool of insured to avoid triggering a so-called death spiral of declining enrollment, a growing proportion of less healthy people and premium increases by insurers.
Q. Would Congress have distinguished between consumers based on whether they get insurance through the federal government or the states?
A. The opponents say Congress could have made such a distinction, and did. Congress wanted two things — nationwide subsidies and state-run insurance exchanges. So in the challengers' view, the availability of subsidies was conditioned on states setting up their own exchanges. They say the case is "extraordinarily straightforward" because the phrase "established by the state" cannot refer to exchanges established by the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees There is no other way to read the law, they argue. One piece of outside evidence in their favor is a talk in 2012 by former administration health care adviser Jonathan Gruber in which he said states risked losing billions of dollars if they did not create their own exchanges.
Q. That seems pretty convincing. Has the administration given up?
A. No. The administration says the law's own "text, structure, design and history" refute the other side's arguments. Attempting to divine the meaning of four words in isolation from the rest of massive law is foolhardy, the Justice Department says. Several portions of the law indicate that consumers can claim tax credits no matter where they live, and that a central purpose of the law was to make health care affordable to all Americans. No member of Congress indicated that subsidies would be limited, and several states argue in a separate brief to the court that they had no inkling they had to set up their own exchange for their residents to get tax credits. The administration also says it is nonsensical to think Congress would have set such a "self-defeating scheme." The only possible reading of the law allows subsidies nationwide, the administration says.
Q. What if the court concludes the language isn't as clear as each side says?
A. That should produce a win for the administration because Supreme Court precedent holds that federal agencies get the benefit of the doubt when the meaning of a law, or part of it, can't be definitively determined from the text. The administration would rather not win in that fashion, however, because it leaves open the prospect of a future administration changing its view. That's much harder to do when a law has been interpreted as having a clear meaning. Then, only Congress can make changes.
Q. How many people would be affected and in how many states?
A. Independent studies by the Urban Institute and the Rand Corporation estimate that 8 million people would lose insurance if the court rules for the challengers. Subsidies appear to be safe for people living in the 13 states and the District of Columbia with their own markets — California, Colorado, Connecticut,Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont andWashington — and perhaps in three others — Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon — that set up their own exchanges, but rely on the federal government for eligibility determinations.
Q. How have courts ruled so far?
A. A three-judge panel in the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, unanimously sided with the administration. That is the case on appeal to the Supreme Court. A second appeals court, in Washington, D.C., initially ruled 2-1 in favor of challenges. The full court, however, threw out that opinion and agreed to rehear the case. The Supreme Court's intervention put that rehearing on hold. The Supreme Court rarely takes cases without differing opinions in the lower courts. But as Justice Antonin Scalia told a Swiss interviewer in December, the case poses "a very, very significant question" that should be decided by theSupreme Court.
Q. Is there a partisan or ideological slant apparent?
A. As with everything else involving Obama's health overhaul, the answer is a resounding yes. This latest lawsuit is part of a long-running political and legal campaign to try to kill the overhaul that passed Congress without a single Republican vote and President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. Of the six appellate judges who have ruled, four who were appointed by Democrats upheld the provision at issue and two Republican appointees voted to strike it down. The Supreme Court does not reveal how justices vote when they decide to hear a case. But in the two earlier cases involving Obama's health care law, the pattern held, with one important exception — Chief Justice John Roberts' vote in 2012 to uphold the law against a challenge to its constitutionality. The other four Republican appointees would have struck it down in its entirety. Last year, the court by a different 5-4 majority said businesses with religious objections don't have to pay for contraceptives for women covered under their health plans.


7. Appalachian Labs employee sentenced to nearly 2 years in prison for faking water samples
Posted: Feb 25, 2015 2:35 PM EST Updated: Feb 25, 2015 2:51 PM EST
A Daniels, WV man who admitted to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act has been sentenced to 21 months in prison. John W. Shelton, 47, an employee of Appalachian Labs, admitted he and other employees tampered with water samples to make them appear to be within permissible levels of pollutants.
Shelton told the court he diluted samples by adding distilled water and substituted water samples from an area they called the "honeyhole," so named because samples from that spot were always within permissible limits.
Each time samples were dilutes or water was substituted, Shelton allowed excessive pollutants to be discharged from mining operations into adjacent rivers and creeks, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said.
Shelton also admitted that from 2008-2013, he and other Appalachian Laboratory employees compromised the integrity of samples by keeping them in their trucks all day, instead of on ice as is required. He said they would put the samples on ice in coolers on days they knew inspectors would be on site, to make it appear that it was their normal routine. Shelton was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger. His case was investigated by the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division.

8.Gen. Petraeus: Too Big to Jail
By Ray McGovern
March 06, 2015 "ICH" - "Consortium News" -  The leniency shown former CIA Director (and retired General) David Petraeus by the Justice Department in sparing him prison time for the serious crimes that he has committed puts him in the same preferential, immune-from-incarceration category as those running the financial institutions of Wall Street, where, incidentally, Petraeus now makes millions. By contrast, “lesser” folks – and particularly the brave men and women who disclose government crimes – get to serve time, even decades, in jail.

Petraeus is now a partner at KKR, a firm specializing in large leveraged buyouts, and his hand-slap guilty plea to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets should not interfere with his continued service at the firm. KKR’s founders originally worked at Bear Stearns, the institution that failed in early 2008 at the beginning of the meltdown of the investment banking industry later that year.

Despite manifestly corrupt practices like those of subprime mortgage lenders, none of those responsible went to jail after the 2008-09 financial collapse which cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes. The bailed-out banks were judged “too big to fail” and the bankers “too big to jail.”

Two years ago, in a highly revealing slip of the tongue, Attorney General Eric Holder explained to Congress that it can “become difficult” to prosecute major financial institutions because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to the economy – or perhaps what he meant was an even bigger threat to the economy.

Holder tried to walk back his unintended slip into honesty a year later, claiming, “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail.’” And this bromide was dutifully echoed by Holder’s likely successor, Loretta Lynch, at her confirmation hearing in late January.
Words, though, are cheap. The proof is in the pudding. It remains true that not one of the crooked bankers or investment advisers who inflicted untold misery on ordinary people, gambling away much of their life savings, has been jailed. Not one.

And now Petraeus, who gave his biographer/mistress access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and then lied about it to the FBI, has also been shown to be too big to jail. Perhaps Holder decided it would be a gentlemanly thing to do on his way out of office – to take this awkward issue off Lynch’s initial to-do list and spare her the embarrassment of demonstrating once again that equality under the law has become a mirage; that not only big banks, but also big shots like Petraeus – who was Official Washington’s most beloved general before becoming CIA director – are, in fact, too big to jail.

It strikes me, in a way, as fitting that even on his way out the door, Eric Holder would not miss the opportunity to demonstrate his propensity for giving hypocrisy a bad name.

A Slap on Wrist for Serious Crimes

The Justice Department let David Petraeus cop a plea after requiring him to admit that he had shared with his biographer/mistress eight black notebooks containing highly classified information and then lied about it to FBI investigators. Serious crimes? The following quotes are excerpted from “U.S. v. David Howell Petraeus: Factual Basis in support of the Plea Agreement” offered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division:

“17. During his tenure as Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS maintained bound, five-by-eight-inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences, and briefings. … A total of eight such books (hereinafter the “Black Books”) encompassed the period of defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’S ISAF [Afghanistan] command and collectively contained classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’s discussions with the President of the United States of America. [emphasis added]

“18. The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret//SCI and code word information.”
Despite the sensitivity of the notebooks and existing law and regulations, Petraeus did not surrender them to proper custody when he returned to the U.S. after being nominated to become the Director of the CIA. According to the Court’s “Factual Basis,” Petraeus’s biographer/mistress recorded a conversation of Aug. 4, 2011, in which she asks about the “Black Books.” The Court statement continues:

“ [Petraeus] ‘Umm, well, they’re really – I mean they are highly classified, some of them.  … I mean there’s code word stuff in there.’ … On or about August 27, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS sent an email to his biographer in which he agreed to provide the Black Books to his biographer. … On or about August 28, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWEL PETRAEUS delivered the Black Books to a private residence in Washington, D.C. where his biographer was staying. … On or about September 1, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS retrieved the Black Books from the D.C. private residence and returned them to his own Arlington, Virginia home.” [emphasis added]

I would think it a safe guess that Petraeus’s timing can be attributed to his awareness that his privacy and freedom of movement was about to be greatly diminished, once his CIA personal security detail started keeping close track of him from his first day on the job as CIA Director, Sept. 6, 2011.

“32. On or about October 26, 2012, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS was interviewed by two FBI special agents. … [He] was advised that the special agents were conducting a criminal investigation. … PETRAEUS stated that (a) he had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and (b) he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer. These statements were false. Defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS then and there knew that he previously shared the Black Books with his biographer.” [emphasis added]
Lying to the FBI? No problem. As “Expose Facts” blogger Marcy Wheeler immediately commented: “For lying to the FBI – a crime that others go to prison for for months and years – Petraeus will just get a two point enhancement on his sentencing guidelines. The Department of Justice basically completely wiped out the crime of covering up his crime of leaking some of the country’s most sensitive secrets to his mistress.”[emphasis added]

Talk about “prosecutorial discretion” or, in this case, indiscretion – giving Petraeus a fine and probation but no felony conviction or prison time for what he did! Lesser lights are not so fortunate. Just ask Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for disclosing information to the public about U.S. war crimes and other abuses. Or Edward Snowden, who is stuck in Russia facing a U.S. indictment on espionage charges for informing the people about pervasive and unconstitutional U.S. government surveillance of common citizens.

Or former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was sent to prison for inadvertently revealing the name of one Agency official cognizant of CIA torture. Here’s what Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said then: “The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

When, on Oct. 23, 2012, Kiriakou acquiesced to a plea deal requiring two-and-a-half years in federal prison, then CIA Director Petraeus sent a sanctimonious Memorandum to Agency employees applauding Kiriakou’s conviction and noting, “It marks an important victory for our agency … there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.” [emphasis added]

Consequences for Kiriakou but not, as we now know, for Petraeus.
If you feel no discomfort at this selective application of the law, you might wish to scroll or page back to the “Factual Basis” for Petraeus’s Plea Agreement and be reminded that it was just three days after his lecture to CIA employees about the sanctity of protecting the identity of covert agents that Petraeus lied to FBI investigators – on Oct. 26, 2012 – about his sharing such details with his mistress.

Why Did Petraeus Do It?
Old soldiers like Petraeus (indeed, most aging but still ambitious men) have been known to end up doing self-destructive things by letting themselves be flattered by the attentions of younger women. This may offer a partial explanation – human weakness even in a self-styled larger-than-life super-Mensch. But I see the motivation as mostly vainglory. (The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.)

Looking back at Petraeus’s record of overweening ambition, it seems likely he was motivated first and foremost by a desire to ensure that his biographer would be able to extract from the notebooks some juicy morsels he may not have remembered to tell her about. This might enhance his profile as Warrior-Scholar-“King David,” the image that he has assiduously cultivated and promoted, with the help of an adulating neocon-dominated media.

Petraeus’s presidential ambitions have been an open secret. And with his copping a plea to a misdemeanor, his “rehabilitation” seems to have already begun. He has told friends that he would like to serve again in government and they immediately relayed that bright hope to the media.

Sen. John McCain was quick to call the whole matter “closed.” A strong supporter of Petraeus, McCain added this fulsome praise: “At a time of grave security challenges around the world, I hope that General Petraeus will continue to provide his outstanding service and leadership to our nation, as he has throughout his distinguished career.”

And Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings’ neocon military specialist who rarely gets anything right, spoke true to form to the New York Times: “The broader nation needs his advice, and I think it’s been evident that people still want to hear from him. … People are forgiving and I know he made a mistake. But he’s also a national hero and a national treasure.”

The “mainstream media” is trapped in its undeserved adulation for Petraeus’s “heroism.” It is virtually impossible, for example, for them to acknowledge that his ballyhooed, official-handout-based “success” in training and equipping tens of thousands of crack Iraqi troops was given the lie when those same troops ran away (the officers took helicopters) and left their weapons behind at the first sight of ISIL fighters a year ago.

Equally sham were media claims of the “success” for the “surges” of 30,000 troops sent into Iraq (2007) and 33,000 into Afghanistan (2009). Each “surge” squandered the lives of about 1,000 U.S. troops for nothing – yes, nothing – except in the case of Iraq buying time for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to get out of town without a clear-cut defeat hanging around their necks.

Many of the supposed successes of Petraeus’s Iraqi “surge” also predated the “surge,” including a high-tech program for killing top militants such as Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the formation of the so-called Sunni Awakening, both occurring in 2006 under the previous field commanders. And, Bush’s principal goal of the “surge” – to create political space for a fuller Sunni-Shiite reconciliation – was never accomplished. [See’s “The Surge Myth’s Deadly Result.”]
And last, it is important to note that David Petraeus does not have a corner on the above-the-law attitudes and behavior of previous directors of the CIA. The kid-gloves treatment he has been accorded, however, will increase chances that future directors will feel they can misbehave seriously and suffer no serious personal consequence.

The virtual immunity enjoyed by the well connected – even when they lie to the FBI or tell whoppers in sworn testimony to Congress (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has done) – feeds the propensity to prioritize one’s own personal ambition and to delegate a back seat to legitimate national security concerns – even basic things like giving required protection to properly classified information, including the identity of covert officers.
One might call this all-too-common syndrome Self-Aggrandizing Dismissiveness (SAD). Sadly, Petraeus is merely the latest exemplar of the SAD syndrome. The unbridled ambitions of some of his predecessors at CIA – the arrogant John Deutch, for example – have been equally noxious and destructive. But we’ll leave that for the next chapter.

Full Disclosure: Petraeus has not yet answered McGovern’s letter of Feb. 3 regarding why McGovern was barred from a public speaking event by Petraeus in New York City on Oct. 30, 2014, and then was roughly arrested by police and jailed for the night. McGovern wonders if Petraeus failed to respond because he was pre-occupied working out his Plea Agreement.

Ray McGovern worked for a total of 27 years in all four of CIA’s main directorates. He served under seven Presidents and nine CIA Directors, and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He now works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.
9. Save the Bridger Forest Meeting
Please spread the word.

at 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Location: Gardens Branch Library 11303 Campus Drive Palm Beach Gardens

Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) invites you to join in the planning for the campaign to stop the destruction and to Save The Briger Forest in Palm Beach Gardens.

If there was ever time to get involved it's now! This fight is just beginning. This month, March 11th at the Gardens Branch Library PBCEC will host an evening to hear from the lawyer about the lawsuit and update everyone where we are at in the fight to Save the Briger Forest! And most importantly invite you to participate in the planning of the campaign and share your ideas.

This can be stopped! Do not feel defeated or hopeless, We are just getting started!!!

If you can come great! If you can't come there are other ways to get involved!

* Share the Facebook page, so we can easily communicate to new people

* Donate money to the legal battle - 561-503-5743

* Call the Mayor and Commissioners and tell them to STOP KILLING THIS WILDLIFE

* Join us in Protest every other friday after, at Donald Ross & 95

* Come to the PBCEC meeting, learn the history, get updated in the legal battle, and share your ideas on how to save Briger!
10.CASE for FREE SPEECH / 1st Amendment
‘Wizardess’ erected pro-KKK billboard near historic Selma bridge
billboard honoring the founder of the Ku Klux Klan now stands within sight the historic bridge in Selma, Alabama that was the site of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” clash between civil rights protesters and police.
The New York Daily News reported Saturday that the billboard shows Nathan Bedford Forrest — Klan founder and Confederate war hero — astride his horse with the motto, “Keep the skeer on ‘em,” meaning, “Keep them afraid.”
President Barack Obama is traveling to Selma on Saturday to march alongside Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and thousands of celebrants as they commemorate the historic clash which took place on March 7, 1965, as a crowd of nonviolent, mostly black protesters marched headlong into a column of Alabama National Guardsmen and other law enforcement officers.
Ironically, on the opposite side of the Forrest billboard — which reads “Visit Selma’s War Between the States historic sites” — is a sign welcoming the president and others to Selma for the 50th anniversary of the march. 
“ Welcomes President Barack Obama and you to Selma,” reads the other sign. 
The Daily News quoted Flossie Menifee, 67, who grew up in Selma.
“It should be taken down,” Menifee said. “The Ku Klux Klan, the hatred, the prejudice, I think it’s always going to be in Selma.”
The billboard was erected by the friends of Forrest, Inc., a historical group that says it meant nothing racist by placing the billboard so close to this historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Spokeswoman Patricia Goodwin told the News, “That billboard was put there with positive intent to ask people who come to Selma to explore and enjoy our 19th century history. Does it say anything in the Constitution where a certain faction of people cannot be offended? I’m offended by all these people walking around with their pants hanging around their knees.”
She claims that she only chose the location because of its high visibility to visitors.
The Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out that Goodwin is a known neo-Confederate activist who has called the historic 1965 march “the Mother of All Orgies” and has previously fought efforts to commemorate the civil rights marchers who were beaten with bullwhips and police batons on Bloody Sunday.
Godwin is known for signing her emails “The Wizardess,” a reference to Forrest’s title as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

11. Christian chaplain fired for preaching compassion and love over violence of American Sniper
February 10th, MidAmerica Nazarene University’s  (MNU) chaplain Randy Beckum gave his morning sermon, which wasn’t unusual – it was his job. But what was different that day was the response to the sermon – as one student paper put it, the sermon sparked an “outcry” and a torrent of criticism particularly on social media. The criticism ranged from complaints that Beckum had politicized his sermons to the idea that he had insulted Christians who served in the military.

Beckum’s sermon that day was about America’s addiction to violence, citing the film “American Sniper” as a symptom of that, and how this was problematic for Christianity, a religion founded on the ideals of nonviolence. Here’s an excerpt:
As you know two movies came out recently. Selma, the story of one of the 20th century most influential Christian leaders, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led a non-violent movement that changed the course of American History forever. And American Sniper, the story of the most deadly Navy SEAL sniper in American history. Selma has made 29-30 million so far. American Sniper made over 103 million in the first 4 days. Gives you an idea about who our heroes are. I don’t think it is an under-statement to say that our culture is addicted to violence, guns, war, revenge and retaliation. Unfortunately, so are a lot of Christians.
He went on to say that we have to “be very careful about equating patriotism with Christianity,” and implored his flock to be “controlled by love, compelled by love for everyone.”
Shortly after Beckum’s sermon, it was announced that he would no longer be the vice president of the university’s Community Foundation. Although the university president claimed Beckum had previously expressed interest in stepping down from that position, his daughter disputes this assertion.
Many in the MNU community are wondering if Beckum was “punished” for his pro-peace sermon, and the timing of his dismissal as VP of the community foundation seems to validate those concerns. “Even the people that were frustrated with what (Beckum) had to say in chapel, or wanted to challenge it, were confused and almost offended by the demotion,” said Kristi Rose Jackson, who was elected to be student body president.
Sadly, it appears that MNU may have given into the furor and decided that a Christian clergyman preaching the peace the founder of the faith stood for is simply too controversial for their campus.

13. Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” Richard Feynman famously declared in 1966. Ever quick to challenge accepted wisdom, he distinguished the laudable ignorance of science, forever seeking unattainable certainties, from the dangerous ignorance of experts who professed such certainty.
Twenty years later, he would drop a rubber ring into a glass of ice water to show a panel of clueless rocket experts how willful ignorance of basic temperature effects likely caused the Challenger shuttle disaster. (1)
Experts with delusions of certainty create imitative forms of science, he warned, producing “the kind of tyranny we have today in the many institutions that have come under the influence of pseudoscientific advisors.” (2)
Feynman’s warning against faith in the phony trappings of “cargo cult science” fell on deaf ears. Policies affecting every aspect of our lives are now based on dangerous forms of ignorance.
A prime case in point is the noble edifice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where a high-ranking EPA official was recently jailed and fined for collecting pay and bonuses for decades of non-existent work while he claimed to be working elsewhere for the CIA. Such long-standing fraud would hardly come as a surprise to Evaggelos Vallianatos, who toiled for a quarter of a century in the EPA’s Pesticide Division, ostensibly responsible for protecting human health and the environment from commercial poisons. His new book, Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA, documents a culture of fraud and corruption infesting every corner and closet of the agency.
The EPA, created with much fanfare by Richard Nixon in 1970, was an agency crippled at birth by inadequate funding, political hypocrisy, and laws protecting industry profits above all. Vallianatos points out that one of the fledgling agency’s greatest handicaps was its initial staffing with personnel from USDA, steeped in the religion of corporate agriculture and lethal technologies. With USDA staff came also USDA’s outdated pesticide registrations, which were to be reviewed and reregistered by EPA.  In addition, hundreds of new pesticide applications accumulated every year, each supported by industry-produced safety studies to meet new federal requirements. Hired as scientists, EPA staffers spent their time cutting and pasting industry studies and conclusions into rubber-stamped registration approvals. Under industry-crafted laws, once a pesticide was registered, it could never be unregistered without massive, unequivocal evidence of harm.
As if such misuse of science weren’t bad enough, audits by FDA and EPA soon found that most of the thousands of industry safety studies used to approve pesticide registrations were fraudulent. Alerted by FDA scientist Adrian Gross, EPA had discovered in 1976 that Industrial BioTest Laboratories [IBT], which had conducted many of the pesticide safety tests submitted to EPA by manufacturers, had been routinely faking tests, falsifying data, and altering results for years.  Subsequent investigations of other testing laboratories found similar practices in more than half the labs whose tests supported EPA registrations of pesticides.
“IBT was not a unique case of scientific fraud,” Vallianatos writes, “it was emblematic of a dark and deviant scientific culture, a ‘brave new science’ with deep roots throughout agribusiness, the chemical industry, universities, and the government.”(3)
In 1979, during the seven years of EPA dithering over this scandal, Vallianatos came to work at EPA. He soon learned that not a single pesticide registration was to be canceled due to fraudulent or nonexistent test data. Instead, he notes, EPA’s reaction was to outsource science. It shut down its own testing laboratories, closed its own libraries of toxicity data on thousands of chemicals, and outsourced all evaluations of industry-sponsored studies. The unspoken understanding in this outsourcing of government functions has been the near certainty of finding industry data satisfactory – all the time.” This issue is relevant today, given that chemicals such as 2,4-D and glyphosate (Roundup™), whose uses have been vastly increased by GMO practices, were originally registered on the basis of invalid IBT studies.
During Vallianatos’s first year at EPA,1980, some 1.1 billion pounds of pesticide active ingredients were applied to U.S. food crops, a number that does not include home and garden uses, parklands, golf courses, playing fields, and municipal landscapes. In 2011, two billion pounds of pesticides were sold in the U.S.  Most if not all of those pesticides lacked valid testing data then, and still lack such data today.  Furthering the fraud, Vallianatos points out, the active ingredient is only the tip of the iceberg, being as little as one percent of the product; the remainder is a trade secret stew of untested, unknown “inert” ingredients that are often more toxic than the active ingredients. What he calls “The Big Business of Fraudulent Science” has replaced even the semblance of environmental protection.
Poison Spring chronicles some of the consequences of that fraud in an agency snared in its own tangled lies: cover-ups of dioxin levels in drinking water and in dead babies; routine suppression of data linking pesticides to soaring rates of cancer, birth defects, and chronic disease; industry access to everything; “revolving door” administrators serving corporate bosses; political appointees dismantling EPA labs and data libraries to dispose of damaging evidence; the cutting of research funds for nontoxic alternatives; the harsh retribution visited on whistleblowers; and ever and again, bureaucrats, with full knowledge of the consequences, setting policies that result in death and suffering. For 25 years, Vallianatos saw and documented it all.
“EPA officials know global chemical and agribusiness industries are manufacturing science,” Vallianatos writes. “They know their products are dangerous…. [EPA] scientists find themselves working in a roomful of funhouse mirrors, plagiarizing industry studies and cutting and pasting the findings of industry studies as their own.”
“This entire book is, in a sense, about a bureaucracy going mad,” Vallianatos adds.
Bureaucracy does not go mad by itself, however. Public indifference to the ignorance of experts and public tolerance of lies are what allow such madness to flourish, enabled by the scientific community’s silence. Inexorably, Vallianatos found, “science and policy themselves have been made a prop to the pesticides industry and agribusiness.”
Such monumental fraud demands drastic remedies, which Vallianatos bravely urges: rebuild an EPA completely independent from industry and politics, remove incentives for huge scale, chemically-dependent corporate agriculture, and address the underlying problem by encouraging small family farms and agriculture without chemical warfare.
“Traditional (and often organic) farmers – until seventy-five years ago, the only farmers there were – are slowly beginning to make a comeback.  They have always known how to raise crops and livestock without industrial poisons,” Vallianatos points out.  “They are the seed for a future harvest of good food, a healthy natural world, and democracy in rural America – and the world.”
These are facts, and this is a book that scientists and citizens alike ignore at great peril.

14. 71% Dissatisfied with lack of Progress
via / March 4, 2015 / 
Around 71 percent of Fukushima Prefecture residents remain dissatisfied with the central government’s handling of the nuclear disaster four years after the triple meltdown forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, a survey showed.
Only 14 percent of respondents were satisfied with the central government’s efforts at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to the telephone survey conducted jointly by The Asahi Shimbun and Fukushima Broadcasting Co. on Feb. 28 and March 1.
In surveys conducted six months after the nuclear accident was triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and before the first, second and third anniversaries of the disasters, the dissatisfaction rates were between 70 and 80 percent.
Although the latest rate of dissatisfaction was down slightly from the previous survey, it was still high ahead of the fourth anniversary of the disasters.
The latest survey received valid responses from 1,028 eligible voters in Fukushima Prefecture, or 57 percent of those contacted.
Evacuation orders for certain areas around the nuclear plant have been lifted, but thousands of people still live away from their homes, including many who now reside outside the prefecture.
Radioactive water leaks, malfunctioning equipment, human errors and botched plans have persistently hampered work to decommission the reactors at the plant.
Shortly before the latest survey was taken, reports surfaced that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, did not reveal for about 10 months that water contaminated with radioactive materials had been flowing from the plant into the ocean.
Asked about TEPCO’s stance, 80 percent of respondents said “it was a major problem,” while 16 percent said “it was somewhat of a problem.”
Only 2 percent said “there was not much of a problem,” while 1 percent said “there was no problem at all.”
However, the Fukushima residents were more evenly split on work by the central and local governments to decontaminate areas affected by radiation.
A combined 49 percent of respondents either “highly appraised” or “somewhat appraised” the decontamination efforts.
In comparison, a combined 48 percent either “did not appraise” or “somewhat did not appraise” the work.
Those figures marked an improvement in public opinion of the cleanup work.
In the two previous surveys, the combined percentages of respondents not appraising the decontamination work exceeded 60 percent, while only about 40 percent appraised the efforts.


 March 3, 2015 / The planned completion of the purification of highly radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is expected to be pushed back to sometime around May next year, more than a year later than initially planned, it has been learned.

Naohiro Masuda, chief decommissioning officer at the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., disclosed the anticipated delay during an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun. The company was established by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to handle reactor decommissioning and contaminated water at the crippled plant.

While the purification process had initially been scheduled to be wrapped up by the end of this month, company officials gave up on achieving that goal in January following a series of malfunctions of the water purification system, called Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS.

According to TEPCO, there is approximately 200,000 metric tons of contaminated water stored in tanks on the plant’s premises. In addition to the ALPS system that is capable of removing 62 types of radioactive materials including strontium, a newly installed apparatus that can single out strontium for removal is also in operation.

Masuda said during the interview that his company will prioritize the processing of strontium, which he says bears the largest influence, and aims to complete the process by the end of May.

Once strontium is got rid of, the concentration of radioactive materials in contaminated water would be trimmed to around one part per 1,000, he said. Because other types of radioactive substances will still remain in the contaminated water, purification of the entire amount of water is expected to finish around May next year, he said.

16. Damn subsidence upstream of Nuclear 
Tennessee Valley Authority, Feb 26, 2015 (emphasis added): [There is] recurrent sediment seepage near an earthen embankment of Boone Dam. The safety of downstream communities, industries… is our top priority… erosion may be occurring within the foundation… raising the level of the lake could potentially increase the rate of erosion... it’s important that we take the proper steps now to prevent the possibility of more damage.

Bristol Herald Courier, Feb 26, 2015: The sinkhole is not the problem, said Jim Hopson, TVA public relations manager. The sinkhole is an indication of a bigger problem, he said. The urgency of the issue is obvious since contractors are working in the snow and cold weather, he added. A short-term fix will include putting grout… below the dam… Hopson [said] “Right now we don’t have all the answers but we have a lot of people working to find out.”

Johnson City Press, Feb 26, 2015: [TVA said there's] a deeper problem… “long-term [we're] going to be injecting grout into these voids that are caused by sinkholes and the movement in the karst,” [TVA's John] McCormick said… the state of the foundation beneath the dam is a cause for concern, McCormick added… “It’s what is under the surface of the dam that is giving us alarm… We’re talking about hundreds of feet below the normal surface level.”

John McCormick, TVA: All of East Tennessee is very heavy with karst as a foundation… Karst is really the dissolution of soluble rocks [that] forms voids which cause sinkholes. Those voids, over time, will have water flowing through them and cause more erosion of the foundation.
McCormick: Seeping into the waterway is uncommon. That caused us to notify a whole series of events… It’s what’s under the surface of the dam that’s giving us alarm… We’ve bored 29 holes into the dam… We use remote operated submarines… looking for sinkholes… We use lasers to tell us if we see any movement, and that’s continually monitored… Long-term repair is going to be injecting grout into these voids that are caused by the sinkholes and erosion.
McCormick: Bringing the water level down… lessens the amount water downstream if there’s an event… Our overriding priority is the safety of those folks downstream.
Question: It sounds like there are multiple gaps in the limestone… Jennifer Dodd, TVA: What we found in our investigations are evidence of some seepage pathways and some voids, so its more complicated… McCormick: We’re talking about the substructure of the dam… 100s of ft. below the normal surface… We’re trying to… understand what those voids are… We’ve looked at every possible type of failure.
McCormick: “We need to look downstream and understand the potential impacts downstream, and that’s what I’m focused. I’m focused to ensure the stability and soundness of that dam.”

17. Fukushima Worldwide Effects
UCLA Researchers: Fukushima “not only affecting that local area, but also worldwide” — Gov’t Expert: “Immediately the Iodine-131 plume moved eastward reaching US West Coast [then] covering entire northern hemisphere… Significant concern on the safety of the population and environment worldwide”

Mar 3, 2015: Four years after Fukushima disaster, some areas remain untouched, clocks recording the exact time that the tsunami swept through. Access is highly restricted but two UCLA researchers were recently given permission to document the disaster zone. — at 3:45 in — “With this study I think that’s what we’re trying to explore — is that once a nuclear catastrophe strikes, it’s not only affecting that local area, but also worldwide.”

Atmospheric dispersion of Iodine-131 released after the Fukushima event, by Giuseppe A. Marzo, ENEA (Italian National agency for new technologies, Energy and sustainable economic development), 2014: From March 12, 2011, a significant amount of radioactive material… discharged into the atmosphere… Total emission of 131I has been estimated in [128** petabecquerels (PBq)], while 133Xe, and 137Cs total emissions have been estimated in [15,300 PBq and 36.6 PBq], respectively. In this work the global atmospheric dispersion of 131I released by the Fukushima accident is carried out, focusing on this specific radionuclide due to its radiological relevance in terms of consequences on the human health… Figure 1 summarizes the simulation results. It illustrates the radioactivity concentration due to 131I released into the atmosphere at specific times and integrated over the total atmospheric column. Immediately after the initial release on March 12, the plume moved eastward reaching the United States west coast on [March 15 at 10:00p PST]… In early April the plume extended over the entire northern hemisphere… A significant accidental event occurred at the Fukushima NPPs… volatile radionuclides such as 131I were transported away from the source posing significant concern on the safety of the population and the environment worldwide… the atmospheric dispersion of 131I [was] covering the entire northern hemisphere by early April…

**According to a document released by TEPCO, “Our result shows a higher I-131 amount (500PBq) compared to the result obtained from a thirdparty organization (120-200PBq).


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