Progressive News Network - Harvest time
Brook Hines Political Commentator
Jennifer Hecker SW Nature Conservancy on FLORIDA FRACKING SUMMIT
Emine Dilek Progressive Press (Publisher/Editor)
Melinda Hemmelgarn The Food Sleuth
Frank Day Panhandle Progressive
1. Environmentalists file Amendment 1 lawsuit
Naples Daily News
Environmental activists are asking a judge to order the state’s top financial officer to transfer more than $237 million to Florida’s land acquisition trust fund, the latest move in a lawsuit claiming the state misused money available for land and water conservation.
Conservation groups have asked a judge to rule the Legislature violated the state Constitution by spending a portion of the $740 million from Amendment 1 to pay for the salaries and other expenses of environmental agencies, which in the past were funded with money primarily from the state’s general revenue. The complaint also calls on Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds to require Jeff Atwater, the state’s chief financial officer, to transfer $237 million of the state’s general revenue surplus to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
“This is a long standing issue for us, that we would have long-term funding for conservation land acquisition,” said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, which is one of the groups involved in the suit initially filed in June and amended in August. “We think it’s critical, and we don’t think the state is doing the job. We think the Legislature misappropriated funds.”
Both the legislative parties and Atwater have filed motions to dismiss the suit.
Amendment 1, a land and water conservation provision sponsored by Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, passedwith 75 percent of Floridian’s votes in November. The measure sets aside one-third of money collected through taxes on real estate documentary stamps to protect environmentally sensitive areas for the next 20 years.
The group had hoped the state would dedicated $170 million to Florida Forever, a state program to buy land for preservation, to protect and maintain conservation lands and local parks. This year, lawmakers set aside $17.4 million, not all of which came from Amendment 1 money, for Florida Forever.
Of the 14 environmental organizations that were part of the amendment’s steering committee, two — the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club — have joined the lawsuit now challenging the Legislature’s handling of the money.
In a Sept. 8 filing on behalf of the state Legislature, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, attorneys said the lawsuit’s request “ignores the separation of powers and the Legislature’s exclusive authority” to appropriate public funds.
The legislative filing goes on to say the court has “no authority to redistribute public funds,” and that an order to transfer funds would be “a quintessentially legislative function and violate the Legislature’s long-settled, exclusive authority to control public funds.”
Atwater, in his Oct. 7 motion to dismiss, said his office has no independent authority to draw money from the state Treasury or re-balance trust funds.
“Simply stated, the general revenue fund is not a piggy bank from which the CFO may draw funds as he sees fit. Yet this erroneous metaphor is how the plaintiffs would have the court visualize the CFO’s role in the administration of the State Treasury,” the Department of Financial Services said in its motion.
David Guest, an attorney at Earthjustice, which filed the suit on behalf of environmental groups, said the courts have ruled in the past on whether the Legislature misappropriated money. In some cases, Guest said the appropriation was invalidated or struck from the books. Requiring the comptroller to repay the fund, however, hasn’t been done before.
Guest said the suit doesn’t ask Atwater to set aside money to be spent for a specific purpose. Instead, they’re asking that the $237 million be transferred into the Land Acquisition Trust fund and reserved for uses permissible under the state constitution.
But what is permissible remains in question. Lawmakers said they acted within the law by using money for salaries and other expenses, while conservation groups have said the money was intended to be used to buy more conservation land.
Guest said he hopes the court gives guidance on how lawmakers should allocate money from the amendment during its next legislative session, which begins in January. Environmental organizations, will also be pushing lawmakers to increase environmental spending in the coming year.
“The hope is always that the Legislature will abide by the requirements of the constitution that 75 percent (of voters) told them to do,” said Guest. “We have not seen yet any signal from the Legislature that they intend to mend their ways. One would hope they would.”
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 3.
This is a long standing issue for us, that we would have long-term funding for conservation land acquisition. We think it’s critical, and we don’t think the state is doing the job. We think the Legislature misappropriated funds.”
Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation
2. TTIP: EU negotiators appear to break environmental pledge in leaked draft
The EU appears to have broken a promise to reinforce environmental protections in a leaked draft negotiating text submitted in the latest round of TTIP talks inMiami..
In January, the bloc promised to safeguard green laws, defend international standards and protect the EU’s right to set high levels of environmental protection, in a haggle with the US over terms for a free trade deal.
But a confidential text seen by the Guardian and filed in the sustainable development chapter of negotiations earlier this week contains only vaguely phrased and non-binding commitments to environmental safeguards.
No obligations to ratify international environmental conventions are proposed, and ways of enforcing goals on biodiversity, chemicals and the illegal wildlife trade are similarly absent.
The document does recognise a “right of each party to determine its sustainable development policies and priorities”. But lawyers say this will have far weaker standing than provisions allowing investors to sue states that pass laws breaching legitimate expectations of profit.
“The safeguards provided to sustainable development are virtually non-existent compared to those provided to investors and the difference is rather stark,” said Tim Grabiel, a Paris-based environmental attorney. “The sustainable development chapter comprises a series of aspirational statements and loosely worded commitments with an unclear dispute settlement mechanism. It has little if any legal force.”
The document contains a series of broadly sympathetic statements about the importance of conservation and climate action. But it offers no definitions of what core terms – such as “high levels of protection” for the environment or “effective domestic policies” for implementing them – actually mean.
The leaked draft document on sustainable development
Last year, more than a million people across Europe signed a petition calling for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks to be scrapped. Their concern was that multinationals could use the treaty’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions to sue authorities in private tribunals, not bound by legal precedent.
In one famous case, Lone Pine launched an unresolved $250m suit against the state of Quebec after it introduced a fracking moratorium, using ISDS provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
US officials maintain that few such cases are ever likely to be brought under theTTIP, which could wipe away tariffs in the world’s largest ever free trade deal.
However, environmental cases accounted for 60% of the 127 ISDS cases already brought against EU countries under bilateral trade agreements in the last two decades, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. Europe’s taxpayers paid out at least $3.5bn to private investors as a result.
Natacha Cingotti, a trade campaigner for the group, said that only a carve-out of environmental protections from the tribunal process could prevent such cases mushrooming after a TTIP deal.
“This new leak illustrates that the European commission is not serious about protecting essential safeguards for citizens and the environment in the context of the TTIP talks,” she told the Guardian. “Powerful corporate polluters are likely to get VIP treatment under it, while the only chapter that could bring strong language to protect essential regulations to build a sustainable future is weak and unenforceable.”
A trade deal is supposed to be clinched by the end of 2016, although the deputy US trade representative, Michael Punke, said on Wednesday that the negotiations had not been moving as “constructively and ambitiously” as planned.
The promised ‘transparency’ around TTIP has been a sham
But lawyers and campaigners fear that any further progress around the Miami table could come at the expense of environmental concerns, with the latest round of talks due to close in Miami on Friday.
An EU promise that TTIP would “support our climate targets, for example by promoting trade and investment in green goods and services” has already been thrown into doubt by the leak of a draft energy chapter last May. In it, Europe’s negotiators pushed for “a legally binding commitment in the TTIP guaranteeing the free export of crude oil and gas resources”.
By comparison, “sustainable development is being treated like an appendage or unwanted stepchild,” Grabiel said. “The unequal treatment of sustainable development cannot be reconciled with the EU policy objectives in this area.”
3.TPP, the Export Import Bank (ExIm) and .....
Is the House of Representatives vote on the re-authorization of Export Import bank going to take place on Tuesday October 26, 2015?
The re-authorization of the Export Import Bank cleverly maneuvers Congressional votes to be in favor of the Trans Pacific Partnership whenever the TPP voting takes place.
I was disheartened to discover a few days ago that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) as a whole has assisted in the first steps for re-authorization of the Export Import Bank. (ExIm)
Congressional Black Caucus Ensures the Requisite Number of Signatures is Reached to Discharge the Rule for Consideration to Reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States
This is similar to the linkage of AGOA, TAA, in spite of the objections of the Congressional Black Caucus, during the multiple Trade Promotion Authority debates and voting in Congress. (See references below)
Do they (CBC) actually believe that the power elite will finally provide assistance to their downtrodden constituents? Most likely they are at the funding trough for their personal gain - ready to glide through the revolving door themselves - all the while pretending to not understand the disastrous implications of their actions.
The Export Import Bank addicts (big business corporate users such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin - both weapons manufacturers) instead of using their own money as the loans to foreign countries have made use of U.S. taxpayer guaranteed loans. (Hello Occupy!)
The likes of GE (another "defense contractor") threatens to move even more jobs overseas if ExIm is not put back in place. (GE should be spanked now that they are a real boy.)
4.What Clinton Got Wrong About Snowden
The former secretary of state attacked the NSA whistleblower without bothering to get her facts straight.
Hillary Clinton is wrong about Edward Snowden. Again.
The presidential candidate and former secretary of state insisted during the recent Democratic debate that Snowden should have remained in the United States to voice his concerns about government spying on U.S. citizens. Instead, she claimed, he “endangered U.S. secrets by fleeing to Russia.”
After accusing Snowden of stealing “very important information that has fallen into the wrong hands,” she added: “He should not be brought home without facing the music.”
Clinton should stop rooting for Snowden’s incarceration and get her facts straight.
First, Snowden is a whistleblower, not a leaker. Whistleblowing is the act of bringing to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, law-breaking, or dangers to public health or safety. Snowden did exactly that when he divulged proof that the National Security Agency was illegally snooping on all of us.
Second, Snowden knew it was impossible to report this wrongdoing through his chain of command at the NSA, where he was working as a contractor employed by the consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton.
I’ve written previously about whistleblower Tom Drake, who went through his own chain of command to report an earlier illegal wiretapping scheme by the NSA. Drake went to his bosses, his office’s general counsel, the NSA’s inspector general, the Pentagon’s inspector general, and congressional oversight committees — only to be charged with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage.
CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, who reported wrongdoing in a CIA operation related to the Iranian nuclear program through his chain of command, was similarly charged with multiple counts of espionage. Now he’s serving 42 months in prison.
The sad fact is that many national security chains of command are overtly hostile to people who report wrongdoing. I learned this firsthand when I spent nearly two years behind bars for denouncing the CIA’s use of torture years after I left the agency. And I didn’t go to any country club. I went to a real prison.
Indeed, one of my former supervisors at the CIA called whistleblowing “institutionalized insubordination.” In other words, employees should just “follow orders,” even if those orders are illegal.
Didn’t Nazi war criminals say that they were just following orders, too? To me, their compliance was criminal.
Third, Clinton claimed that Snowden would have enjoyed protection from theWhistleblower Protection Act if he’d remained in the United States to make his revelations.
I’m disappointed, frankly, that somebody running for president of the United States doesn’t know that the Whistleblower Protection Act exempts national security whistleblowers. There are no protections for you if you work for the CIA, NSA, or other federal intelligence agencies — or serve them as a contractor. You take a grave personal risk if you decide to report wrongdoing, and there’s nobody who can protect you.
Even the federal body that’s supposed to protect whistleblowers, the Merit Systems Protection Board, got itself in trouble in October for suspending and retaliating against its own whistleblower, who revealed that the agency had a huge backlog of cases and was taking far too long to adjudicate them. That certainly doesn’t inspire confidence.
Finally, let’s get this straight: Snowden didn’t “flee to Russia.” Snowden stopped in Moscow on his way from Hong Kong to South America when Secretary of State John Kerry revoked his U.S. passport. Snowden never intended to move to Moscow. Kerry made that decision for him.
Of all people, Hillary Clinton — Kerry’s predecessor at State — should know that.
I get that Clinton doesn’t like Snowden. I doubt he’s too upset about that. But Clinton should get her facts straight if she’s going to take a stand against those federal employees and contractors who take their oaths to uphold the Constitution seriously enough to report crimes against it.
She should be celebrating whistleblowers, not vilifying them and suggesting they waltz into the nearest penitentiary.
OtherWords columnist John Kiriakou is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He’s a former CIA counterterrorism officer and senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. OtherWords.org.
5. Your Internet Provider Is Distorting Free Speech
Comcast thinks it has the right to censor you.
Earlier this year, the Newseum Institute asked 1,000 Americans to name their rights under the First Amendment. A clear majority listed freedom of speech first — before freedom of religion, assembly, and other core civil liberties.
And that makes sense. Protecting free speech is essential to the health of any functioning democracy.
Free speech matters to the hundreds of millions of Internet users who exercise this right every time they connect with others online. But if you ask some of the lawyers working for the companies that sell you Internet access, they’ll insist that it’s more important to protect the free speech rights of phone and cable giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.
In a convoluted twist, they argue that the First Amendment gives these same companies the right to block, throttle, and degrade the communications of everyone using their services.
Did you get that? Comcast thinks it has the right to censor you.
We owe this Orwellian shift in thinking to a growing number of court decisions, among them Citizens United, that define corporations as people and their business practices as speech.
Harvard Law School’s John C. Coates documented this change in a study released last February, noting that “corporations have begun to displace individuals as the direct beneficiaries of the First Amendment.” This trend, Coates writes, isn’t just “bad law and bad politics.” It’s also “increasingly bad for business and society.”
It was only a matter of time before Internet service providers — or ISPs for short — decided to get in on this dangerous game.
In February, they lost a monumental battle when the Federal Communications Commission adopted strong Net Neutrality protections that prevent providers from blocking or slowing down online traffic and services. By summer, their legal teams hadfiled 10 lawsuits against the FCC’s ruling to undermine the protections it extends to Internet users.
“Broadband providers are First Amendment speakers,” reads a brief filed by one of these ISPs. The new FCC rules, the brief claims, “strip providers of control over which speech they transmit and how they transmit it.”
When it sued the FCC over the agency’s 2010 rules on Internet access, Verizon’s lawyers explained this position in more detail. “Broadband providers possess ‘editorial discretion,’” they claimed. “Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others.”
Not quite. ISPs aren’t like newspaper editors — their services merely transmit our speech. A long list of prominent First Amendment scholars agree: Acting as a conduit for our messages isn’t the same as engaging in free expression.
“Whether it’s a phone call, a text, an email, a webpage request, or a video stream the carrier transmits, making that delivery isn’t an editorial function,” notes my Free Press colleague Matt Wood.
Indeed. The framers of the Constitution couldn’t have foreseen a time in which technology allowed more than 2.7 billion people to communicate worldwide via interconnected digital platforms. This exponential growth of speech is without precedent — and it requires us to be clear on who the real speakers are.
As the court case against the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules unfolds, the First Amendment shouldn’t be used to take communication rights away from the very people it was designed to protect.
Timothy Karr is the senior director of strategy for Free Press. FreePress.net.
Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Distributed by OtherWords.org.
6.Another Day, Another Massacre
Fear and distrust keep many Americans attached to the very weapons that kill thousands of us each year.
By John Morlino
Yes, it’s happened again. A man with a legally acquired arsenal walked onto a college campus. Moments later, 10 people were dead, and nearly as many wounded.
Sick to your stomach? Of course you are. Surprised? Didn’t think so.
Like Aurora, Newtown, and a lengthy list of similar tragedies, the October 1 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon aimed the spotlight on the debate over guns in America. But there shouldn’t be a debate at all.
Arguing that guns are a sacred part of our culture just doesn’t cut it anymore. They’re instruments of death. Nothing else you can own can kill more easily or efficiently.
Guns in private homes extinguish the lives of loved ones far more often than they prevent the advance of an intruder. Children shoot other children. Adults shoot their spouses and their children. Accidental death or suicide is just a trigger pull away.
This, apparently, is the price we’ve agreed to pay to uphold a convoluted interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Sure, there’ll be calls for background checks to keep these weapons away from people stricken with severe mental illness, served with a restraining order, or convicted of violent crimes. But gun owners appear to have nothing to worry about.
After all, who’s going to suggest disarming ourselves completely?
From the Brady Campaign to Everytown for Gun Safety and Americans for Responsible Solutions, no prominent organization purportedly working to end gun violence — actually, they prefer the word “reduce” — has been willing to explicitly endorse giving up our firearms.
Instead, some of them — along with nearly any elected official you can think of — seem to go out of their way to express support for the Second Amendment. “Sensible” gun control, they say, is their objective.
Making it harder for the most troubled among us to acquire a gun would, of course, be a good thing. As would comprehensive mental health care for all, and a ban on assault weapons.
Yet well-intentioned as this strategy may be, it’s cursed with a deadly flaw: There’s no guarantee that anyone deemed a “responsible gun owner” today will still be one tomorrow.
The human mind is ever-changing. And there’s no end to the number of things that can send people into a nosedive — disintegrating relationships, devastating unemployment, unlucky biology, profound trauma. Passing a background check on a given day does nothing to ensure that a person buying a gun will remain emotionally stable for the rest of his or her life.
So how do we dig ourselves out of this mess?
The answer, I believe, lies in confronting the two-headed monster that’s left us in a state of perpetual paralysis.
Fear and distrust lurk beneath our collective psyche.
For example, people who wholeheartedly distrust our leaders delude themselves into thinking that, if properly armed, they’ll prevail in an apocalyptic shootout with the government.
Some gun buyers fear the neighborhood “bad guy” and comfort themselves by fantasizing about winning a duel in their living room. Others fear the aftermath of a prolonged natural (or man-made) disaster where fighting over — rather than sharing — food, water, and shelter becomes the norm.
To varying degrees, the odds would be stacked against us in any of those situations — just as they would be in a mass shooting. It’s only on the front end that we can improve our chances. The sooner we develop a genuinely compassionate and trusting society, the less likely any of us will find ourselves in such dire circumstances.
John Morlino is a former social worker and founder of The ETHIC (The Essence of True Humanity Is Compassion). He’s been writing about gun violence for more than a decade.
Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Distributed by OtherWords.org.
7. The seagrass in Florida Bay is dying, a sign that the ailing bay could be going from bad to catastrophic.
Years of flood control on top of a prolonged drought wilted the bay over the summer, making already hot water twice as salty as it should be. When scientists hustled out to investigate last month, they found miles of dead seagrass: up to six square miles in Rankin Bight and seven square miles in meadows around Johnson Key, a flat once famed for redfish and snook. A cloud of sulfur had spread in water just off the Flamingo Visitor Center, leaving behind a stinky stain scientists call “yellow fog.” It may cover 25 square miles already.
But what really concerns them is this: The last time the bay looked this bad, a massive algae bloom followed. The bloom lasted for years, turning gin clear water a sickly pea green and unleashing a scourge in Everglades National Park that anglers and scientists still regard as a turning point for the bay.
Imagine if a third of Yellowstone National Park suddenly died.
To emphasize the severity of conditions, scientist Fred Sklar, who monitors the Everglades for the South Florida Water Management District, titled a presentation made last month, “Florida Bay Conditions: Another Perfect Storm?”
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do to stop this. The question might be, is there something we can do to slow it down,” he said. “The train is moving and the only thing we can do is put roadblocks in the way.”
Seagrass scientists who began monitoring the bay in 1995 after the unprecedented bloom threatened to derail the region’s $723 million fishing industry are just as worried.
“It looks like this die-off will be every bit as extensive as the episode in the 1980s,” said Paul Carlson, a marine ecologist with the state’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, who investigated the earlier crash. “There’s places where dead turtle grass … covers the bottom a foot deep.”
And it’s not just the grass that’s suffering. In July, when salinity peaked at 65 parts per thousand, toadfish that lurk on the bay bottom waiting to ambush prey died in Rankin Bight, said Chris Kelble, an oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
“My hypothesis is they don't swim away like other fish and the double whammy of extreme high [salinity] and temperature just took them out,” he said.
his year’s winter fish counts turned up no freshwater minnows, the first link in a complicated food chain. Sea trout, a fish perfectly engineered to reflect the health of the bay, failed to show in last’s year count. Researchers caught juveniles this year, but in numbers “nowhere near where they should be or where their numbers have been in the past,” Kelble said.
How the bay got to this point is as much about human meddling as mother nature. For decades, water managers have been struggling to undo damage from the C-111 canal, which was built in the 1960s to barge rocket engines from Homestead to the coast. It shifted a vital flow of Everglades water away from northeast Florida Bay.
Another factor also may be at work: climate change.
With models showing a 10 percent to 20 percent decrease in rainfall over South Florida, heat waves and droughts will likely become more common, making water scarcer and creating Florida Bay’s equivalent of a California wildfire. Climate forecasts also call for fewer hurricanes, which help flush out salty water by stirring up the bay.
“It’s just like the fire analogy in the west,” said Ben Kirtman, a climate scientist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. “The water managers will have to make decisions based on that.”
And that means the fight for water — and whether to save the fish or keep the farms or both — could become more heated.
“That’s sort of the elephant in the room that we don’t really talk about,” he said.
Because it is such a complex ecosystem, scientists have struggled to understand how to fix the bay. At 850-square miles, it is actually made up of about 24 different basins, divided by mud banks. Each basin has its own distinct level of salinity, influenced by water from the Everglades, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean, along with years of man-made changes going back to Flagler’s plans to build a railroad across the bay and drain coastal marshes in an attempt to lure ranchers to the mosquito-infested wetlands. Knowing the right mix of groundwater and surface water could be the key to keeping salinity in check, Sklar said. But so far, the balance remains uncertain, he said.
What scientists do know is that to avert an algae outbreak, they need to get it right before time runs out. In the 1980s, a massive die-off spread across five basins. Five years later, an algae bloom unfolded. Most likely, the dead seagrass loaded the shallow bay with nutrients that triggered the bloom.
It took more than 12 years for the grass, considered a key indicator of the bay’s health, to begin recovering. The grass also is critical to maintaining the ecosystem: The rolling meadows provide food and shelter for sea life and stabilize the muddy bottom to keep water clear.
“These kinds of things have probably been happening periodically over time,” said Margaret “Penny” Hall, a state seagrass expert overseeing a team investigating the die-off. “It’s not a new phenomenon, but there was a perfect storm where it took off in 1987, probably exacerbated by water management decisions.”
After the 1980s disaster, the state began monitoring 17 spots in the bay, trying to understand what set of conditions might trigger a die-off. They focused on turtle grass, which was hit hardest and grows more slowly, and shoal grass, which can grow faster in harsher conditions. Knowing which grass grows where can give them a good idea of what’s going on in the water. In 1997, as grass began recovering, researchers found the amount of shoal grass had taken over western Rabbit Key basin after the turtle grass died. Overall, shoal grass more than doubled, an indication of harsher conditions.
Over the summer, on the heals of a dry winter that spiked salinity in Taylor Slough, a biologist at Everglades National Park spotted what she suspected was the beginning of a die-off and contacted the researchers who had studied the 1980s event, Carlson said.
When Hall’s team got there, they found two of the five basins hit hardest in the 1980s dead or dying. A third showed signs of trouble.
They think this is what happened: Without rain, the hot water turned saltier and heavier, creating a kind of lid, trapping sulfur in mud and keeping oxygen out. Seagrass can normally tolerate low levels of sulfide, the sulfur that occurs naturally in the mud. But the higher levels caused it to die. Once dead, the decaying grass released even more nutrients and continued the cycle.
“The sulfur is both cause and effect,” Carlson said.
Had more restoration projects been complete, scientists believe the extra water would have helped buffer the harsh drought. But lack of funding, bureaucratic delays and the demands of competing interests have delayed work that might have brought more water south.
This summer, for example, when the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers announced plans to conduct a two-year test on a series of canals, gates and flood control structures to restore water flows, the agency enraged environmentalists by opting for a plan environmentalists say favored farmers. The Corps decided to continue using a pump to keep farmland dry, a decision the Everglades Law Center called as “arbitrary and capricious as it is based on unsupported assertions.”
“We should be doing everything we can to benefit the bay right now,” said staff attorney Julie Dick. The Corps was unable to say whether an environmental study would be done when reached late Friday.
Even with restoration, park superintendent Pedro Ramos said the bay “relies on higher rainfall, which we have not been getting.”
And given climate change projections, he worried that keeping the bay healthy will become only more difficult.
“Things are changing for sure,” he said in a text message. “New territory for everyone, including scientists, and weather seems to just be getting more and more difficult to forecast.”
Recent rain — September had more than 10 inches — may have helped some, but it also changed conditions too quickly. Monitors at Buoy Key show salinity in parts per thousand dropping from the mid 40s to the high 30s in the last few days. Normal ocean conditions are 30 parts per thousand.
But scientists worry the bay is already in a downward spiral — and anglers have long reported seeing fewer fish.
“It’s the largest fish kill I’ve ever seen in the park,” said Capt. Dave Denkert, a guide who has fished the bay since the 1970s and spotted dead pinfish and snapper throughout the summer. “It goes from real salinity to almost completely fresh. It’s extreme one way and extreme the other. It all has to come together.”
When conditions go bad, some fear the fish will simply leave. Already the stock of bonefish, a catch that draws anglers from around the world, are “below the 30 percent threshold considered sustainable,” said Jerry Ault, a University of Miami fish ecologist, who warned that Florida Bay may be a microcosm of bigger problems to come.
“You get to where you really listen to the fishermen because they’re usually the first ones to find something wrong,” Hall said. “They may not know the name of the seagrass, but they know what it looked like.”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article37583577.html#storylink=cpy
8. Group Promoting Peace and Love Labeled As Terrorists, Surveilled by DHS and Police
Missoula, Montana – According to the Missoula Police Department, peace and love are extremist views, and promoting these ideas could be a possible sign of terrorist activity.
The police department received a Department of Homeland Security grant of $254,930 last week, to assist them in fighting the terrorist threat. That threat was apparently posed by “the Rainbow Family,” a large hippy gathering that promotes peace and love.
In the application documents where the agency requested the grant, the Rainbow Family was listed as an “extremist organization” that requires constant surveillance.
Police Chief Scott Hoffman said that the department needed a “mobile command unit” to deal with the Rainbow Family threat.
“It’s a mobile command unit. It’s just like a motor home with communications and computers and radios and things like that. I don’t know what the hazards of the Rainbow people are,” Hoffman said.
After the story went public, representatives from the police department have played damage control with the media, claiming that the operation is only to help with cleaning up and keeping the area safe.
When reporters with the Missoulian called the police department for a comment, they were told by Missoula Police Lt. Scott Brodie that the mobile command unit would be primarily for the clean up effort.
“When they have their gatherings, they historically have created a mess that needs to be cleaned up. The command center could just coordinate and speed things up, get it done faster. It’s a coordination tool is what it is,” Brodie said.
It becomes apparent how ridiculous the accusations of “extremism” are when doing some research into what the Rainbow Family stands for. They are a decentralized, loose-knit group of people who want to promote ideas of peace, freedom, equality, and love.
The group takes their name from the ancient Native American proverb that says “When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds, and who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be known as the warriors of the rainbow.“
Back in 2013, the U.S. Forest Service spent over $500,000 in efforts to police the event and only made two arrests. Otherwise, there were no issues or problems at the event.
9. Hillary Support
1. Foreign Policy
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was reportedly one of the most hawkish members of President Obama's cabinet, pushing for the 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan and US intervention in Libya. She has also been a vocal proponent of the same drone war that has led to the deaths of 2,400 civilians. In her recent memoir,Hard Choices, she bragged about having presided over the imposition of "crippling sanctions" on the Iranian economy during her tenure as secretary of state. These crippling sanctions are a form of collective punishment and have benefited thewealthy only, while making life miserable for everyone else. In an interview with Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg in August 2014, she further outlined her views on Iran, staking out a maximalist position on Iranian nuclear enrichment, which effectively opens the door to military intervention. She also suggested that the United States should have done more to intervene in Syria, by, in her words, creating a "credible fighting force," while the lack of said force led to the rise of ISIS. In addition, she vociferously defended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the assault on Gaza. Not surprisingly, her bellicose rhetoric has received praise from neocon luminary Robert Kagan. Senator Clinton's vote in favor of the Iraq war, a vote for which it took her more than a decade to express regret, was clearly not a temporary lapse in judgment.
Her recent foray into vague populist rhetoric notwithstanding, Clinton has long nurtured close ties to the financial sector. Over the course of her political career, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have been among her top political donors, in addition to giving heavily to the Clinton Foundation. In October 2013, Clinton received $400,000 to speak at two Goldman Sachs events and delivered what was described as a "reassuring message" to the assembled bankers. In all likelihood, a second Clinton administration would involve the appointment of industry insiders to regulatory posts in the perpetually revolving door between Wall Street and the federal government. It's understandable then that her friends on Wall Street would be quick to shrug off her halfhearted attempt to shore up her left flank as anything but substantive. Nobody who was genuinely concerned with economic inequity would be hobnobbing with some of the same economic institutions whose reckless financial schemes helped engineer the 2008 economic collapse.
Hillary Clinton has a long history of being willing to serve the interests of large corporations. In 1976, while serving as legal counsel for the Rose Law Firm, sherepresented several Arkansas utilities companies that sued the state after a ballot initiative (sponsored by conservative boogeyman Acorn) passed that decreased utilities rates on Little Rock residents and increased them on businesses. In defending the utilities conglomerates, she argued that the initiative amounted to an unconstitutional seizure of property. The judge ruled in these companies' favor
As Grist magazine reported, during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton took an active role in promoting hydrofracking worldwide through the Global Shale Gas Initiative. Clinton's State Department, and in some cases she personally, lobbied on behalf of companies like Chevron intent on expanding the practice, particularly in countries like Bulgaria and Romania where there was widespread public skepticism. This lobbying was met with mixed success, as Chevron eventually pulled out of Bulgaria due to a moratorium, while Romania's moratorium was repealed following US lobbying. Since stepping down as secretary of state, Clinton has continued to express support for the practice, which she outlined in a September 2014 speech to the National Clean Energy Summit. She has also remained disturbingly silent on the issue of the Keystone XL pipeline.
4. Civil Liberties
If you have been outraged by the Obama administration's abysmal record on civil liberties - from its continuation of NSA spying, rampant secrecy and overzealous prosecution of whistleblowers - and would like to see a change in the post 9/11 status quo, then Hillary Clinton is the last candidate you should expect change from. In the Senate, she voted for the Patriot Act as well as its subsequent reauthorization. In an appearance in April 2014 at the University of Connecticut, she defended NSA surveillance and chastised whistleblower Edward Snowden, accusing him ofsupporting terrorism.
5. Culture Wars
Clinton has a long history of cynical pandering on hot button social and culture war issues. As a senator, she frequently co-sponsored legislation that would make many on the left cringe. In 2005, she joined a bipartisan group of senators in signing onto the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which, according to the ACLU, would effectively have legalized discrimination. Later that same year, she introduced a bill that would have made flag burning a felony.
In addition, she has an extensive history of anti-video game demagoguery, something that wouldn't exactly endear her to younger voters. In July 2005, shecalled upon the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas over the "hot coffee mod" - a sexually explicit mini-game within GTA. This led to the game's rating being changed to Adults Only until Rockstar Games removed it from shelves. In November 2005, she introducedlegislation that would have banned the sale of games rated M for mature to anybody under the age of 17. Two years later, she again introduced similar legislation in the middle of her first presidential bid.
It's also worthwhile to note that many secular Americans would find some of the company she keeps disturbing. Beginning in 1993, Clinton was a member of "The Fellowship," a clandestine and influential evangelical group, which has recruited many prominent figures in business and politics and holds meetings in gender-segregated "cells."
If you agree with these positions, then by all means, Hillary Rodham Clinton is your candidate. If, however, you want a more peaceful foreign policy at a time in which an entire younger generation of Americans have never known anything other than a state of permanent undeclared war, or if you would prefer to see Wall Street and NSA spying reined in, then you should find a better candidate to support. If we don't address these vitally important issues now and Hillary does become the nominee following a no contest primary, then to get a change in the status quo, we will have to wait until 2020, if she loses (in which case we'd face the terrifying possibility of an ultra-reactionary Republican Party in control of the White House and both houses of Congress), or 2024, if she wins. Neither of these options bodes well for the future of the Democratic Party or the country.
If, as progressives, we simply allow ourselves to fall in line behind a Democratic establishment that smugly mocks us, then we will forever be marginalized and beholden to a political system in which the Overton window is permanently slanted to the right.
10. JAPANESE GOVT AND IAEA IGNORE RADIATION RISKS TO COASTAL POPULATION
via theecologist.org / September 28, 2015 / Radiation can be carried long distances by marine currents, concentrated in sediments, and carried in sea spray 16km or more inland, writes Tim Deere-Jones. So Fukushima poses a hazard to coastal populations and any who eat produce from their farms. So what are the Japanese Government and IAEA doing? Ignoring the problem, and failing to gather data.
Review of the official Japanese marine monitoring programme reveals that the Japanese government is turning a blind eye to the risks of marine radiation from the stricken Fukushima site.
The strategy it has adopted, with the support of the IAEA, consistently ignores the latest evidence about the way marine radioactivity behaves in inshore marine environments and the potential radiological risks to coastal populations.
This strategy is based on a flawed hypothesis, developed by the nuclear industry through the late 1940s and early 1950s, when both oceanography and the study of the behaviour and fate of radioactivity in marine environments were in their absolute infancy.
As a result, the principal conclusions on the marine impact of the Fukushima event put forward in recent reports from the IAEA, the Government of Japan and it’s relevant agencies, minimise the environmental and public health negatives and emphasise a range of hypothetical ‘positives’.
This is a major flaw because the empirical evidence from ‘non-aligned’ research in the UK is that coastal communities are subjected to highly enriched doses of marine radioactivity through pathways of exposure, and from environmental parameters, which will not be analysed and researched under current Fukushima monitoring plans.
As a result, significant public health impacts of the event will not be documented, nor will important data about the way Fukushima marine radioactivity behaves at the coastline.
11 Nuclear Expert: US West Coast being continuously exposed to Fukushima radioactive releases, it’s an ongoing tragedy — Marine Chemist: Impossible to stop nuclear waste flowing into ocean; “It never will be… that’s what keeps me up at night” — Radiation levels spiked 1,000% since floods
12. “Mystery as scores of dead rare sea animals wash up” in Gulf of California — AP: Dozens of carcasses found on beaches and floating in water — Gov’t experts ‘baffled’ over mass death of dolphins, sea lions, turtles — “Long stretch of coastline closed off to public” (PHOTOS)
AP, Oct 15, 2015 (emphasis added): Mexican authorities are investigating the deaths of 36 marine animals that washed up on an island in the Gulf of California. The federal environmental prosecutor’s office says in a statement Thursday that 21 dolphins, 4 sea lions and 11 sea turtles were discovered at Altamura Island… decomposing remains were found on the beaches and floating in the water… The private island [has] dunes stretching some 12 miles… it’s rare to find so many at one time. Authorities are seeking to determine the cause of death and avoid possible health threats…
AFP, Oct 15, 2015: Four sea lions, 11 sea turtles and 21 dolphins have mysteriously turned up dead on an island in northwestern Mexico, sparking an investigation, authorities said Thursday. [The federal prosecutor's office for environmental protection] said in a statement that inspectors, park rangers and other experts were dispatched… to investigate the “unusual event.” They will collect evidence to figure out how the animals died, the statement said.
he Sun, Oct 16, 2015: Mystery as scores of dead rare sea animals wash up on stretch of coastline — A long stretch of coastline has been closed off to the public after the corpses of dozens of rare sea animals washed up on the beach. Mystery surrounds the sudden influx of dead marine life… Since none of the creatures appeared cut or marked, it has been ruled out that the animals died after being caught up in fishermen’s nets. There’s growing concern over what has caused the tragedy… Mexico’s Federal Environmental Protection Agency, Profepa, has activated a security protocol and tourists have been warned not to use the beacheswhile the water is being tested for signs of pollution and other evidence is collected. A [gov't] spokesman said: “We will be looking at what species are affected, their condition, size, age, physical appearance, nutritional state, health, visible traumas, the time and date, climacteric conditions, state of the sea, topography of the beach and accessibility of the area.”
This weeks guests with our lead Commentator Ms Brook Hines discussing adventures with Florida Democrats
Then we welcome Ms Jennifer Hecker who will give us the heads up on this coming weeks FLORIDA FRACKING SUMMIT in Fort Meyers.
We also welcome Melinda Hemmelgarn (aka the Food Sleuth) gives us her take on the Healthy way to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Frank Day long time friend of the show brings us the Panhandle Progressives take on what his friends and neighbors are saying about the recent debates (R & D) alike with surprisingly good news for Progressive across Florida.
Emine Dilek publisher and Editor in Chief from ProgressivePress.Net brings us her unique perspective from Europe on all things Middle Eastern, from Syria, Turkey and Libya.
Sunday 7pm Eastern
PNN Harvest Time Brook Hines & I welcome Melinda Hemmelgarn - The Food Sleuth, Jennifer Hecker SW FL Conservancy, Frank Day - Panhandle Progressive, Emine Dilek Publisher and Editor of Progressive Press and Steve Horn of DeSmog Blog on Energy bring you Progressive News
Progressive News Network - Harvest time
This weeks guests lead off with our Progressive Commentator Ms Brook Hines discussing adventures with Florida Democrats
Then we welcome Ms Jennifer Hecker of the SW Florida Conservancy who will give us the heads up on this coming weeks FLORIDA FRACKING SUMMIT in Fort Meyers.
We also welcome Melinda Hemmelgarn (aka the Food Sleuth) gives us her take on the Healthy way to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Frank Day long time friend of the show brings us the Panhandle Progressives' take on what his friends and neighbors in the Florida Panhandle are saying about the recent debates (R & D) alike with surprisingly good news for Progressive across Florida.
Emine Dilek publisher and Editor in Chief from ProgressivePress.Net brings us her unique perspective from Europe on all things Middle Eastern, from Syria, Turkey and Libya. (With a comment or two on Hillary versus the Midgets)