Sunday, January 31, 2016

PNN - Progressive Activists address progress made so far in 2016
News Director Rick Spisak and Associate Producer Brook Hines bring the voices of Activists to thirsty ears;

Our political commentator Brook Hines with be producing a segment here at PNN and bringing us the Racial Justice Committee of Organize Now, they will be discussing their “decriminalization campaign” in Orange County, the Black Lives Matter movement, and how YOU can get involved right now in your community [ ] 

We will be joined by Kofi Hunt long time progressive activist who will bring his perspective on the issues of 2016.

Adam Weissman one of the Spokespersons of “TradeJustice New York Metro and Global Justice for Animals and the Environment” will address the ongoing TPP negotiations now as we stand on the dangerous shore of FAST TRACK.

We will also be joined by Dr. Alina Valdez who will address her run for office.

As always we will bring you news stories that are too often missing from any other media. -  TUNE IN LIVE SUNDAYS 7pm (eastern)
or LISTEN - Anytime



1. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a stinging broadside against federal prosecutors on Friday, charging U.S. courts with throwing the book at mixed-up teenagers, while letting wealthy corporate executives who commit much larger and sometimes deadly crimes off with essentially no chance of punishment.
In a new report, Sen. Warren’s office makes the case that CEOs and other top executives simply don’t face the same legal consequences as ordinary Americans, releasing a list of what it claims are 20 examples of corporate criminal and civil cases that prosecutors failed to pursue to the full extent of the law last year.
Among the cases: scandals ranging from General Motors’ years’ long cover up of ignition switch problems to currency manipulation by large banks (including Citigroup and J.P. Morgan), to a mine explosion that killed 29 people — the only instance of misconduct which led to a conviction of a corporate executive, according to Warren.
The problem, the senator argues, isn’t the way U.S. laws are written. Rather it’s that, despite repeated promises, the Obama Administration hasn’t made prosecuting corporate bigwigs a priority. She goes so far as to make the case that such selective application of the law undermines the government’s moral authority: “If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie,” Warren charges in the report.
As a moralist, Warren may well have point. But, as politicians tend to do, she is also over-simplifying. Many prosecutors would love nothing more than to cuff a dishonest Wall Street trader or arrogant CEO, for the same reasons as Warren or even simply to burnish their resumes. For proof, just look at the career of former New York governor Elliot Spitzer, who rose to prominence due to his tough-on-finance record, or for that matter, the plot of Showtime’s new drama ‘Billions.’
But white collar prosecutions are notoriously expensive and risky. After all, fat-cat CEOs often come flanked with expensive lawyers and their cases often hinge on mind-numbingly arcane legal principles.
Even the most vigorous prosecutors can fall victims to such difficulties. Starting in 2009, Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara racked up a string of insider trading convictions against Wall Street executives, at one point winning 85 straight cases. But even Bharara’s run of victories eventually stopped short of what many considered to be their ultimate target, hedge fund magnate Steven A. Cohen. What is more, a number of Bharara’s most significant convictions were eventually overturned when a Federal appeals court unexpectedly re-interpreted the contours of insider trading law, setting defendants free.
It’s not just a problem in the U.S. In fact, earlier this week, U.K. prosecutors, after winning an initial conviction in their quest to prosecute bankers accused of fixing LIBOR — a key benchmark central to financial markets — failed to secure any further wins. While prosecutors had seemed confident in their case, the jury took just two days acquit all six additional defendants. The acquittal led to questions about whether the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office — which had handled the prosecutions — will survive the humiliation.
All this isn’t to say corporate malfeasance isn’t indeed going unpunished, or that Warren is wrong to use her bully pulpit to call attention to it. But the situation won’t be easy to fix.

2. Another Whistle Blower faces Retribution
The Washington DC bar announced recently that it would lodge ethics charges against Thomas Tamm, a Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle against the National Security Agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program. This is despite the fact that the Justice Department ruled in 2010 that Tamm had not committed a crime.
Tamm came to the Department's attention in 2008 when he revealed that he had been one of the sources for a 2004 New York Times article on the wiretapping program, which President George W. Bush had begun in 2001. Tamm had learned that information gathered from the warrantless wiretaps was making its way into applications that the Justice Department was filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court asking to conduct legal wiretaps. Fruit from the forbidden tree.
Tamm, believing correctly that his superiors were in on the program, elected to go to the press, rather than up the chain of command. This act was prescient. The Times later revealed that Attorney General John Ashcroft had approved of the program from the start.
Tamm has moved on with his life and is now a public defender in Maryland. He faces disbarment if found guilty.
But this whole situation isn't just about Thomas Tamm. It's about all national security whistleblowers. Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower, learned in 2006 that the NSA was conducting dragnet electronic surveillance on American citizens. He did go through the chain of command.
First, he reported the illegality to his superiors. He was told to mind his own business. Then he went to the NSA Inspector General. Again he was told to back off. He went to the NSA General Counsel and was told to drop it. He went to the Pentagon Inspector General, which then illegally destroyed evidencethat Drake had presented. There is now a criminal case pending against employees there. Drake finally went to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, NSA's oversight committee, and reported the illegal surveillance.
His reward? Drake was charged with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage. The case against him finally collapsed, but not after he lost his job, his pension, his friends, and even his family.
But that's the plan. Even if there's no real legal case against the whistleblower, the Justice Department and other bodies, like bar associations, just keep filing charges to make the whistleblower defend himself, knowing full well that at the same time, the whistleblower is going broke and is being abandoned by his friends and colleagues.
Jesselyn Radack went through the same thing. Radack, a former ethics attorney at the Justice Department, complained up her chain of command that John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," had been interrogated without having been read his rights and without having had access to an attorney. The information gathered in the interrogation was later used to prosecute him.
After Radack complained up her chain of command, the Lindh file was mysteriously purged. One of Radack's supervisors told her to walk away. Instead, she went to the media. Within months, she was fired from her job at Justice, and then fired from her next job with a private law firm after Justice officials told her new employers that she was likely to be indicted. (She wasn't.) She was placed on the "no-fly list," presumably as a terrorist sympathizer, and ethics charges were filed against her with the DC bar association. That was 14 years ago. Those charges are still pending. And she's still detained and harassed every time she goes through an airport.
Again, the Justice Department never seriously considered charging Radack with a crime. The goal was to ruin her. But they failed. She is now a celebrated whistleblower defense attorney.
NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney, Kirk Weibe, and Ed Loomis; State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren; NSA and CIA contractor Ed Snowden; and I all have similar stories.
The DC bar should be demanding that the Justice Department protect national security whistleblowers, not harass, indict, and prosecute them. It should then work to protect those whistleblowers. If the Justice Department took whistleblower disclosures seriously and investigated accusations of official waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality, there wouldn't need to be leaks to the press. A good start would be for the DC bar to stop being the Justice Department's lap dog.

3. GOV. Snyder, the poisoner of Michigan releases REDACTED EMAILS 
telling us everything we need to know. - EMAIL REVEAL - HIDDEN TRUTH

4. Florida People’s Relay-March for Bernie. 
This one corresponds with the map that Sean put together which, if it is not posted on line already, should be soon. But from this schedule anyone can find where to join the Relay-March at what points along the route and when. 
What we will need to do is assign someone to each 5-mile segment along the route to pass the banner from one person to the next, and then anyone else is welcome to join the march along any point—the more the merrier. For the sign-ups for each 5-mile segment, please email Sean at the cc address listed above.

We will also be revising the events page at the main Bernie for President site to list the march at every zipcode along the route, because right now all events are listed by zipcode only, and it is only posted now under mine, which is 33487 so it is extremely hard to find. Hopefully, that will bring people out of the woodwork for the march. In fact, we could use a volunteer to take care of that posting for us, if anyone would like to volunteer for that task. If so please contact me ASAP.

The USDA is supposed to protect our food system, not Big Ag’s profits. But instead, it’s working hard to suppress research that could hurt pesticide giants like Bayer and Syngenta.
Here’s what’s happening: Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, a senior scientist at the USDA, produced research that questioned the safety of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. But the USDA is trying to bury those findings. At Friends of the Earth, we’re working to shine a light on Big Ag’s dealings with the USDA. We’re calling out the USDA on suppressing science and demanding that it stop harassing scientists. But we need your help!

6. Penta-gone… gone… gone… invests in overseas infrastructure
The Washington Post reported this week that "There is a broad recognition in the Pentagon that building an effective Afghan army and police force will take a generation's commitment, including billions of dollars a year in outside funding and constant support from thousands of foreign advisers on the ground." ("The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades" by Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan, January 26).

Defense institution building (DIB) is intended to "increase a partner nation's ability to organize, administer, and oversee its defense institutions to meet its security needs and contribute to regional and international security more effectively," the directive said. It will "enable recipients to conduct or support unilateral, combined, or coalition operations that advance U.S. national security interests."

SO PROFRACKING they won’t let any Florida community second guess them
After rejecting efforts to require the oil and gas industry to disclose carcinogens and monitor the effects of fracking on pregnant women and drinking water, the Florida House on Wednesday passed a bill to open the door to the high-pressure drilling technique.

The measure, HB 191, allows the state to regulate and authorize the pumping of large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into the ground using high pressure to recover oil and gas deposits. It passed by a 73-45 vote with seven Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the measure.

 This April 6, 1999 photo shows an oil pump at Pad 2 in the Raccoon Point Oil Field in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades.
This April 6, 1999 photo shows an oil pump at Pad 2 in the Raccoon Point Oil Field in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades. Tim Chapman Herald file photo
The bill bans the practice until state environmental regulators complete a study in 2017 to determine what potential impact the operations will have on the state’s geology and fragile water supply but also prohibits local governments from imposing their own bans or regulations.

The study will then be used to inform regulations by Department of Environmental Protection and the proposed rules must come back for legislative approval.

“I recognize that this bill is in the center of the storm of controversy,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who has sponsored the bill for the last four years.

He said that he has heard three arguments during that time: that this activity can’t be done safely and it threatens human life, that it is not compatible with the state’s environment and that technology does not exist to allow it to be done without poisoning the state’s water.

But, he said, the state has seen similar controversies — such as whether to allow for alternate current electricity into homes, which was banned in some states, whether to allow for automobiles on the state’s roads, and whether to allow submerged lands to help launch astronauts to put man on the moon.

“The controversies have always been the same,” he said. “Are we going to react with fear ... or with courage?”

Legislators rejected more than 20 amendments offered by Democrats that would have imposed hurdles to the activity sought by the oil and gas industry.

The amendments, by Reps. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach; Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami; Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey; Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, and Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, would have allowed local governments to regulate the activity, impose testing of water quality and water wells, study the effects of the fracking chemicals on human health, and require local voter approval before fracking activities begin.

Proponents of the bill said they won the support of the Florida Association of Counties and the League of Cities with a provision that postpones the prohibition on fracking bans until a study on the impact of the state’s geology is completed in 2017. But the bill is also vigorously opposed by environmental groups and 41 cities and 27 counties — including Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

One amendment by Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, to study the impact of the fracking chemicals on pregnant mothers, unborn babies and other human health, won the support of at least one Republican, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

“If fracking hurts unborn babies and if it is proven that fracking hurts unborn babies then should we let fracking continue?” Gaetz said.

But Rodrigues said the amendment wasn’t needed because the study will look at the impact on people’s health.

Jenne cited a study from the University of Missouri near a fracking site in Colorado, which found endocrine disruptors in the water. Another study by Princeton, Columbia and MIT found that proximity to a fracking site in Pennsylvania increased the likelihood of low birth weight babies by more than half — from about 5.6 percent to more than 9 percent.

“These aren’t some whacked out environmental groups,” he said. The amendment failed 69-45.

Another amendment required the disclosure of any chemical, such as benzene, used in the fracking operation that is considered a carcinogen.

Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, noted that fracking is already allowed in Florida and this would stop the practice until regulations are in place.

“This good bill recognizes the emergence of a new technology in energy independence,” he said. “We owe it to our constituents to explore where this new technology can be done in Florida and whether it can be done in Florida.”

Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, a physician, said he got involved in the issue because it’s a “data-intense subject filled with emotion” and he has read many of the articles mentioned in the debate.

“My carefully considered conclusion is that there is not a conclusion,” he said. “Wishing for a zero-risk process, with some absolute safety, is not possible.”

Dudley warned that unlike oil wells, fracking wells are “sucked dry after three years,” forcing the industry to seek more wells. “Florida will become more porous than Swiss cheese — which is how I would characterize these regulations,” he said.

The vote marks the third year the House has approved the controversial bill. In the past, the Senate has not taken a floor vote, but this year, SB 318 by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, is moving more swiftly in the Senate.

According to an analysis by the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau, the oil and gas industry contributed at least $443,000 to the political committees of top Republican lawmakers since the last election.

The top contributor, the Barron Collier Companies, which wants a permit to use hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas in Naples, steered $178,000 to lawmakers since December 2014, including $115,000 since July. Other members of the petroleum industry have contributed $265,000 this election cycle. 

On Tuesday, the Broward County Commission voted to became the 27th county to vote to ban fracking activities within the county. Kanter Realty has applied to drill an exploratory oil well in the Everglades, just west of Miramar, and the application is under review by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  

On Monday, the House Democrats invited a landowner and former fracking industry worker from Pennsylvania to talk about their state’s experience with fracking. They said that 10,000 wells, located in every county in the state, have been cited for health and safety violations.

“This will destroy the state like you can’t imagine,” said Ray Kemble, a former fracking industry worker from Dimock, Pa., at a press conference.

Read more here:

8. Cops Called On Reporter Who Asked About Climate At Oil & Gas Convention
On October 1, I arrived at the Oklahoma City headquarters of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) — a congressionally-chartered collective of oil and gas producing states — hoping for an interview.
There to ask IOGCC if it believed human activity (and specifically oil and gas drilling) causes climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, my plans that day came to a screeching halt when cops from the Oklahoma City Police Department rolled up and said that they had received a 9-1-1 call reporting me and my activity as “suspicious” (listen to the audio here).
What IOGCC apparently didn’t tell the cops, though, was that I had already told them via email that I would be in the area that day and would like to do an interview.

That initial email requested an opportunity to meet up in-person with IOGCC‘s upper-level personnel, a request coming in the immediate aftermath of its Oklahoma City-based annual meeting, which I attended. After the cops came to the scene and cleared me to leave, I sent a follow up email to IOGCC outlining the questions I would have asked if given the opportunity to do so.
Days later, IOGCC finally responded to those questions and told me its climate change stance. Well, as you’ll see later, they kind of did.

“Closed Business”
I was no stranger to IOGCC to begin with, which exists due to an act of Congress in 1935.
Indeed, the compact had granted me a press pass to attend and cover its industry-funded extravaganza that took place in the days before. I also attended its 2014 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio and did a41-minute interview with Carol Booth, IOGCC‘s communications manager, while there.
According to the Oklahoma City Police officer who arrived and held me for about seven minutes to ask me questions and do a background check on me, IOGCC had “closed business” that day, though that was neither posted on its front door nor anywhere online. It is also not listed as a state holiday on the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s website and it is not a federal holiday.
Why’d they close business, then? I asked IOGCC.
“Mike and I gave the staff a couple of days of R&R [rest and recovery] after a weekend and late nights associated with our Annual Meeting (and 80th Anniversary),” Gerry Baker, associate executive director ofIOGCC, told DeSmog via email. “We’ll be closed again tomorrow [Friday, October 2], but will work on a response to your questions next week.”
Late Night Parties
Baker’s response makes some sense, at least in so far as late nights go.
The IOGCC meeting agenda featured an opening night reception on the 50th and top floor of the Devon Energy Center, a second night industry-funded reception at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel located two buildings away from Continental Resources’ corporate headquarters and across the street from that of SandRidge Energy, and a third night secretive dinner at Café Do Brasil that went unlisted on the public agenda and I found out about by hanging out on the sidelines of the annual meeting.
IOGCC‘s Oklahoma City meeting also featured industry-funded breakfasts and lunches.
Fleeing the Scene
But Baker’s claim that no one was in the office seems suspect for two reasons, both centering around the two cars parked at IOGCC‘s office when I arrived. Both of those cars, it turns out, were owned by IOGCCstaff members I had emailed before showing up.
One of them was owned by Carl Michael (“Mike”) Smith, IOGCCexecutive director, confirmed to me by the officer who held me temporarily.
“Mike called about you being suspicious out here,” the officer told me. “I don’t have a choice about what people call 9-1-1 about.”
Smith was the assistant secretary of fossil energy for the Bush Administration Department of Energy from 2004-2006, as well as Oklahoma’s former Secretary of Energy. He is also listed as a senior advisor for the lobbying firm Abraham Consulting LLC, owned and run by former Bush Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham.
The other car present was that of Carol Booth, the IOGC Ccommunications manager. When I was held by the police officer, I overheard via his intercom system that it was her car parked in the back of IOGCC‘s office, which someone at the Oklahoma City Police Department’s office confirmed to him by looking up her license plate in a database and reporting it back to him.
While Booth was still seemingly at the office when the officer arrived, Smith had already fled the scene in his car, doing so out of the side-door attached to his office while I stepped away from the building for a second to take a phone call before the cops arrived.
Baker told DeSmog that the cops came on their own volition and not because IOGCC called 9-1-1.
“Due to the location of the IOGCC office, which is adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion property, there are sensitivities about who is in the area,” said Baker. “Oklahoma City police officers often keep track of who’s using the property for obvious reasons.”
But I was told by both the officer and Oklahoma City Police Department staff members that the 9-1-1 call came from theIOGCCoffice address.
*Further, DeSmog has obtained the call log from the incident in question from the Department, which lists IOGCC‘s address as the location the call came from and a call type of “suspicious activity.” And the receipt for the log, which we paid for, lists it as coming from a 9-1-1 call log.
IOGCC and Climate
Smith also wrote us a letter on IOGCC‘s climate change stance, copying the IOGCC chairwoman and co-chairmen on it, explaining that it “does not have a position on climate change” and is “not part of conversations on climate change.”
Image Credit: Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
Historical records obtained by DeSmog, on the other hand, sing another tune about where IOGCC stands on climate change.
In 1998, IOGCC passed a climate change denial resolution stating that “there is continuing scientific debate as to what the impact of increasing contributions of greenhouse gases would be on the climate,” even issuing a press release after it passed.
Then in 2002, IOGCC invited prominent climate change denier Bjørn Lomborg to speak at its annual meeting and sign autographs of his then-new book “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”
But what exactly is IOGCC and why do they — and their stance on climate change — matter anyway?
Officially, IOGCC is a collective body of top-level state-level oil and gas industry regulators and permitters, not to be confused with environmental regulators. Though in the case of some states, such as North Dakota, agencies have a dual mission of permitting oil and gas drilling, as well as protecting the environment.
Chartered by Congress in 1935, IOGCC‘s existence has flown under the radar for 80 years by most.
Meanwhile, its meetings and the organization’s existence serve as ground zero for industry influence-peddling. A case in point: 39-percent of attendees present at its Oklahoma City meeting worked for the industry, according to a roster obtained by DeSmog and the majority of its members at-large work for the industry.
IOGCC, like the more well-known American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), passes model resolutions at its annual meetings. It also brings together regulators, industry executives and lobbyists under one roof to do networking and rub elbows with one another.
At its most recent meeting, IOGCC presented two draft model resolutions, one of which would leave regulating methane emissions ensuing as a result of shale oil and gas drilling to the states as “the proper authority to encourage capture of methane emissions.” That resolution, published here for the first time, does not mention climate change a single time even though methane is a greenhouse gas86-105 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Its other draft resolution introduced in Oklahoma City, which calls for states to have authority over federally-controlled conservation areas in order to do oil and gas drilling, also fits within its broader “States First Initiative” push.
Shadow Lobbying Organ?
IOGCC has a rich history of serving as a key apparatus through which the oil and gas industry flexes its muscles.
It has done such a good job of doing so, in fact, that in 1978 then-U.S.Department of Justice attorney Donald Flexner — now working as a namesake of the powerful firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP — wrote and testified in front of Congress that IOGCC should no longer exist as a compact because it does “essentially lobbying work.”
Three years later in 1981, instead of heeding Flexner’s counsel, Congress decided to stop reauthorizing IOGCC every three years and instead introduced an amendment giving it de facto permanent reauthorization.
For an entity of its clout, the public knows very little about IOGCC‘s inner-workings. And that’s not without reason.
For example, IOGCC has responded to an open records request sent by DeSmog by claiming a wholesale exemption to both state-level and federal-level open records laws because they are an interstate compactand not a government agency, even though its own by-laws claim its records are open to the public.
Interstate compacts, over 200 of which currently exist, can exist due to a clause in the U.S. constitution reading, “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”
Meanwhile IOGCC‘s own website describes it as a “multi-state government agency,” IOGCC staff members use “” email accounts, and its office is located on property given to them by the Oklahoma government and located adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion. Current IOGCC chairwoman Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s Republican Governor, lives in said mansion.
IOGCC tried — and failed — to use the cops as its private security service. It was a maneuver symbolic of the group’s propensity for secrecy when it comes under scrutiny.


(NaturalNews) Censored and heavily redacted emails[PDF] from U.S. government scientists and officials reveal that there were major concerns among American policymakers shortly after the devastating Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011 that there would be widespread radiological contamination and spikes in thyroid cancer rates.

"I would like to raise another issue which now merits expeditious, near term action. There is a short time window... during which it will remain possible to... measure any I-131 that members of the public may have ingested," said an email sent to John Holdren, senior adviser to Pres. Obama on science and technology, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, DOE/NRC officials, and others whose names were redacted on March 23, 2011, 12 days after the disaster on March 11, according to a recently released trove of email documents, per a Freedom of Information Act request.

"Collecting this data... would be very valuable," said the email.

Nuclear science experts were clearly concerned that radioactive fallout from the disaster would not merely spread to the U.S. West Coast but cause a spike in thyroid cancer rates there, as well – though none of those concerns were publicized by reports or expressed publicly by the Obama Administration at the time.

Emails revealing, though heavily redacted – why?

"Many cases of thyroid cancer, and other health problems, may end up being attributed to exposures from the Fukushima accident... on the U.S. west coast," said the email.

"It is possible that we will find that some people have received doses of I-131 and other radionuclides that could exceed [emphasis added] the levels... Protective Action Guidelines are designed to prevent. This could provide a basis for immediate action to change PAG's," it added.

"There are very strong reasons to gather data, but it must be done in a way that is broadly viewed as being in the interest of the public and the individuals involved," the email said.

As Natural News reported in late May, an oversight committee looking at the health of people living within the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan near the stricken power facility found that the thyroid cancer rate in young people has leapt by an incredible 6,000 percent throughout the region since the disaster first occurred back in 2011.

Further, reports indicate that, since January of this year, 16 new cases of thyroid cancerhave emerged, bringing the total number of young people diagnosed with the disease to 103. Correspondingly, as many as 127 people have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Mainstream media downplaying real cause of thyroid cancer near Fukushima

The mainstream media, however, is downplaying the dramatic increase, pretending as though bumps in thyroid cancer rates, especially among children living in the area, might actually have been caused by something else.

Here is a typical example, from a Japan-centered blog in the online version of The Wall Street Journal August 2014:

A study by researchers in Fukushima prefecture found 57 minors in the prefecture have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer so far and another 46 are showing symptoms that suggest they may also have the disease.

Thyroid cancer can be caused by exposure to radiation, but it's unclear whether the number is linked to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011 because the rate of thyroid cancer in the general population isn't fully known.
 [emphases added]

Japan is an ultra-modern society, just like America; if the U.S. knows what its overall cancer rates are, you can bet Japan does as well. But seriously – what else, realistically, would have caused the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer rates?

"There is a possibility that early-stage cancer and small tumors were discovered because experienced doctors conducted thorough checkups using the newest machinery," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a news conference at the time, furthering the denial.

We will keep you informed about this evolving story.

10. New Fuke Robat
It’s been almost five years since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, but the scale of the emergency means Japan is still at the relative beginning of efforts to clean up and contain the radioactive site.
So this week Toshiba unveiled (above) a remote-control robot that’s expected to remove fuel-rod assemblies from the spent fuel pool in the plant’s reactor 3 building, according to a report by Kazuaki Nagata at The Japan Times.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the Japanese utility that maintains the site, has acknowledged that the high level of radiation in the reactor 3 building means it’s impossible for humans to safely remove the fuel-rod assemblies. Because of this, a device like the robotic crane – which you can see in action in the video below – is necessary.
Specially designed by Toshiba – the original supplier of Fukushima’s reactor 3 and reactor 5 decades ago – the machine features robotic arms that can be used to manipulate and dismantle debris, and to retrieve rods from the reactor cooling pool.
It will be lowered into the pool by a crane, and controlled by human operators working at a safe distance. It’s fitted out with numerous cameras that let the robot’s operators see its immediate surroundings.
The work, which is expected to begin next year, is a big endeavour, with 566 fuel-rod assemblies that need to be removed from just this one reactor. In 2014, Tepco successfully removed 1,535 spent fuel-rod assemblies from the pool in the reactor 4 building. While that number was higher, the task was also significantly easier, as lower radiation levels meant human workers could oversee the retrievals more closely. In reactor 3, that’s not an option.
Efforts to clean up Fukushima, which is considered the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, are under continued scrutiny after a series of blunders and Tepco’s admission that efforts in the short term to contain contamination may take as long as 30–40 years.
Of major concern is the leakage of water from the site, with signs of Fukushima contaminants having been discovered as far away as the west coast of the US – literally an entire ocean away from the disaster.

Within Japan, there are fears of ongoing health problems related to the accident, with researchers linking higher incidence of children’s cancer to Fukushima radiation, the impact of which has also been seen on animals in the wild.

11. Worried about ROBOT HEALTH?
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has postponed inspections by robots to finally confirm the location and state of melted fuel at two damaged reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The camera-equipped robots were scheduled to enter the containment vessels of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors within fiscal 2015, which ends in March. But TEPCO said Jan. 28 that a series of unexpected circumstances, such as poor visibility caused by murky radioactive water, have ruined that plan.

The robot for the No. 1 containment vessel will be redesigned, and the remote-controlled survey will be conducted in fiscal 2016, the utility said, without offering a more specific timetable.

Nuclear fuel assemblies in the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors are believed to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the containment vessels following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation levels inside the containment vessels remain extremely high, making them too dangerous to be approached by workers.

The remote-controlled robotic probe was seen as crucial in determining conditions inside the containment vessels for the eventual decommissioning of the nuclear plant.

TEPCO conducted a preliminary survey using an industrial endoscope in the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor. It found accumulated waste turned the water murky and blocked the view.

For the No. 2 reactor, TEPCO had planned to locate the melted nuclear fuel using a robot last summer. But decontamination and cleanup work near the entrance to the containment vessel proved difficult. That prevented TEPCO from carrying out robotic survey as planned.

Marx & Lemon

Sunday, January 24, 2016


PNN 1-24-16

Our News Director Rick Spisak welcomes the TRIUMPHANT RETURN of our Political Commentator Brook Hines.

will be producing her first PNN Segment - You will surely enjoy her insights and her guests as well.

Jeannie Danna and her colleague Administrator Brad Bleich will bring us their perspective on the Environmental Hub movement and Florida Issues.

Florida House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford will address the 2016 Legislative session, and will share his perspective on his final session before he is term limited out.

West Virginia Press Conference we will join a press conference on the ongoing Water Issues in West Virginia. Focusing not only on West Virginia Water Co. West Virginia American Water that has continually demanded increases in their rates, but they have stated publicly they will not be investing in infrastructure upgrades instead these 30% percent rate increases are solely to benefit their executives and shareholders. 

1. the republicans are working on reproduction restrictions law modeled on the Texas legislations with massive restrictions

2. The water bill will not do anything to enact what the Amendment 1 passage envisioned, but will put pollution standards in the hands of the polluters

3. A state lawmaker whose district covers a part of Flint says he appealed to several high-ranking officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder, within the last year warning them about water quality.
State Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint

"More than a year ago, we knew something was wrong when the residents of Flint began seeing their water come from the taps in their homes cloudy and brown," said State Representative Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) in a statement Friday. "We didn't know it at the time, but this was the first indication that lead was leaching into the water supply for the entire community, causing a health hazard that has spurred Flint into the national spotlight and caused decades of health problems for our citizens."

4. The US government claims Snowden, by revealing state secrets, has threatened the security of this country.

Chomsky points out that it is the duty of every American citizens to expose his government's terrorist policies if that be the case.

What Snowden has succeeded in doing is not laying bare classified information so much, but rather shining a light on a government that seeks to hide from its own citizenry its own criminal embarrassments.

5. Pentagon to increase number of US troops in Iraq | 21 Jan 2016 | The US plans to increase the number of troops in Iraq as it seeks to "accelerate" its campaign to "crush" Islamic State in the region, the Pentagon chief said. Ash Carter met with his French partner seeking ways to bring Arab states "in the game," too. Aside from his bilateral meeting with his counterpart and "good friend," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the US Defense Secretary Carter sat down for the first with seven major members of the anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) [but still I-CIA-SIS] coalition. The "face-to-face meeting" included Britain, Germany, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands, all trying to figure out in what ways they could boost their fight against Islamic militants.

6. Out-of-order chlorine pump brings EPA to Flint to test drinking water | 22 Jan 2016 | A chlorine pump station in Flint was out of operation Thursday, bringing in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do testing to make sure levels of the chemical are where they should be. On Jan. 21, the city of Flint informed the U.S. EPA that the chlorine pump near the drinking water treatment plant was was out of order due to an upgrade related to the KWA pipeline, according to a news release from the city. The downed pumped raised questions on whether the necessary levels of chlorine disinfectant were in the portion of the city's drinking water distribution system near the treatment plant.

7.President Obama LIED AGAIN about the TPP in his 12 Jan 16 State of The Union

In his 12 Feb 16 State of the Union Address, President Obama was evidently well aware that his proposed TPP “trade agreement” would create a “firestorm” of criticism if he repeated the whopping big bold-face lies about it that he had previously uttered (i.e. that the TPP won’t affect US laws and that the US would not be subjected to TPP ISDS lawsuits), because
he kept his comments regarding the TPP to a very brief 5-sentence paragraph comprised of statements that he seemed to believe would be less controversial.  But the statements that he did make were still dishonest in many ways.  For example, he said,

1. “That's how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets,
protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in

The TPP is designed to “open markets” for multinational corporations only, so that those multinational corporations can use ISDS lawsuits to either replace or wipe out local corporations and businesses.  The TPP will also “close markets” by extending patent and copyright protections that would seriously restrict free use the internet and make it a crime to reveal corporate wrongdoing “through a computer system.” [!!]  Also, Obama’s claim that the TPP will “protect workers and the environment” is a WHOPPING BIG BOLD-FACED LIE, because the TPP will only allow multinational corporations
(and investors) to file ISDS lawsuits against all levels of government for alleged “losses of expected future profits”, not so for workers, and the taxpayers who will ultimately end up paying for the billions of dollars worth of ISDS lawsuit judgments will be mostly workers!

Also, it is worth noting that Chapter 12 of the TPP requires the US to grant visas to all professionals and their families seeking to enter the country for business purposes along with their families to work for a foreign corporation rather than hiring Americans for such jobs.

2. “It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more
good jobs.”

This is misleading, because the US already has trade agreements with most of those countries which already “cut” such “taxes.”  And the “cuts” in “taxes” on American-made products which have already been made though NAFTA, the WTO, and other so-called “trade agreements” have created HUGE (40 billion dollars per month) trade deficits that have seriously indebted the US to China and most of the rest of our trading partners.  That’s why Chinese, Japanese, and Saudi Arabian millionaires and billionaires have been able to
buy up so much of our expensive real estate in the United States. If this keeps up, they will literally “own us!”

3. “With TPP, China doesn't set the rules in that region, we do.”

That is “BS.”  I doubt that China would be dumb enough to join the TPP. The fact that the TPP countries will be vulnerable to never-ending ISDS lawsuits by greedy multinational corporations will give China a HUGE economic advantage to compete in those countries without fear of such lawsuits.

8. NY Times, Apr 15, 2015 (emphasis added): [Regulators] approved an emergency closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California… Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season[R]evised estimates of sardine populations… found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed… [Stocks are] much lower than estimated last year… The reasons are not well-understood.

Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, April 13, 2015: Ben Enticknap, Oceana senior scientist (1:08:00 in) — “We’ve seen a significant change in recruitment [Recruitment: The number of new young fish that enter a population]. There’s been practically no recruitment in recent years, and this was not expected.”

9. Oregonian, Apr 13, 2015: Pacific coast sardines are facing a population collapse so severe [fishing] will be shut down… [The] downward spiral in spite of favorable water conditions has ocean-watchers worried there’s more to this collapse than cyclical population trends. “There are a lot of weird things happening out there, and we’re not quite sure why they aren’t responding the way they should,” said Kevin Hill, a NOAA Fisheries biologist… Fishery managers are adding it to a list of baffling circumstances off the West Coast… NOAA surveys indicate very few juvenile fish made it through their first year. “The population isn’t replacing itself,” Hill said.

10.Asahi Shimbun, Dec 22, 2015 (emphasis added): More than 90 percent of the fir trees in forests close to the site of Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster are showing signs of abnormality, and plant lice specimens collected in a town more than 30 kilometers from the crippled facility are missing legs or crooked. But it remains unclear whether the mutations in plants and animals are definitively connected to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. All that scientists in Japan are prepared to say is they are trying to figure out the effects of radioactive cesium caused by the release of huge amounts of radioactive materials from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant… 

Scientists are seeking… signs of mutation in plants and animals in areas close to the stricken nuclear plant… Scientists have reported on mutations and abnormalities among species varying from fir trees and plant lice to Japanese monkeys, carp and frogs. The National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS), a government-affiliated entity, said in late August that the trunks of fir trees are not growing vertically. Fir trees are among the 44 species that the Environment Ministry asked the NIRS and other research organizations to study in trying to determine the effects of radiation on living creatures. The NIRS reported that the frequency of these mutations corresponds to a rise in natural background radiation. More than 90 percent of fir trees in the town of Okuma, just 3.5 kilometers from the crippled plant, showed signs of abnormal growth… Among other changes reported: the legs of plant lice collected in Kawamata, a town more than 30 km from the plant, were found to be missing or crooked and the white blood cell count of Japanese monkeys was lower in Fukushima, the prefectural capital, which is about 60 km from the plant… There is also a possibility that some animals, even if they exhibited signs of radiation’s effect, may no longer be alive for analysis.


11. LA gas well has ‘destabilized’, large crater develops in area — Officials: “Could be catastrophic” — TV: Risk of massive fire, possible explosion — Expert: “If wellhead fails, the thing is just going to be full blast… a horrible, horrible problem”

Los Angeles Times, Jan 15, 2016 (emphasis added): Efforts to plug Porter Ranch-area gas leak worsened blowout risk, regulators say — Southern California Gas Co… is trying to avoid a blowout, which state regulators said is now a significant concern after a seventh attempt to plug the well created more precarious conditions at the site. If a blowout occurs, highly flammable gas would vent directly up through the well… rather than dissipating as it does now… State officials said a blowout would increase the amount of leaked gas… That natural gas also creates the risk of a massive fire… The risk of fire already is so high that cellphones and watches are banned from the site… [The gas company's attempts to stop the leak] expanded a crater around the wellhead, state and gas company officials said. The crater is now 25 feet deep, 80 feet long and 30 feet wide, those officials said… [The gas company] declined repeated requests from The Times… The gas company would not provide current photos of the site or allow media access… In one internal state report obtained by The Times, an agency official described [one] kill effort as a “blowout to surface.” “A large column of gas, aerated mud, and rock formed a geyser around the wellhead,” the state observer wrote.

12.    “Worst wildlife die-off ever recorded” anywhere on Earth underway on West Coast — Expert: “And we’re not just talking marine die-offs… yeah, it’s a really big deal” — “There are many more species that are getting sick” — “Facing possibility of extinction” — Scientist: “Is it some sort of a toxin that’s there?” (VIDEO)
Published: January 22nd, 2016 at 5:38 pm ET 
By ENENews 

CBC News, Jan 22, 2016: Sea star wasting disease among worst wildlife die-offs say scientists; The mysterious wasting disease is still killing sea stars from Mexico to Alaska — The sea star wasting disease [is] hitting a bigger range of species over a larger area than originally thought. Scientists investigating the disease in the U.S. and Canada met in Seattle [and] agreed on the scale of the problem, said Dr. Martin Haulena, the veterinarian for the Vancouver Aquarium… “This is, if not the, certainly one of the biggest wildlife die-offs that have ever been recorded, and we’re not just talking marine die-offs.”… [It] has decimated the creatures from Alaska to Mexico… losing their limbs and turning to mush… “Recovery is not happening the way it should be, so I think it is still really bad.”… “It could be a disease that’s been in the system a long time, and something sparked an outbreak recently.”… Any die-off of this magnitude is a major concern, said  [the experts]… And there are many more species… that are getting sick, said Haulena, as well as possible signs of disease in sea urchins and sea cucumbers… “to put it in context — yeah, it’s a really big deal.”

KING 5 News, Jan 20, 2016: Biologists are calling the mass death of west coast sea stars the worst wildlife die-off ever recorded… [Scientists are] calling it the largest wildlife die-off ever recorded… The virus causes the sea star reproductive system to swell. They believe environmental factors are aggravating the issue… Experts are also discussing whether it’s time to list the species as endangered… “They’ve gone from being one of the most common species in the Puget Sound to 2-3 years later, being incredibly hard to find,” Lesanna Lahner said… Now, experts are talking about whether sea stars should be listed as endangered.

Ian Hewson, biological oceanographer, Jan 20, 2016: “No pathogen has ever wiped out its host population without being pushed significantly by some other environmental factor… This is the single largest, most-geographically widespread marine disease that’s ever been recorded.”

ABC 10, Jan 20, 2016: West Coast starfish disease biggest wildlife die-off ever recorded; Biologists are calling the mass death of west coast sea stars the worst wildlife die-off ever recorded… [Scientists are] calling it the largest wildlife die-off ever recorded.

Alaska Journal of Commerce, Jan 7, 2106: Lani Raymond, a Homer [Alaska]  birder… saw hundreds of dead sea stars. “It’s really bad,” Raymond said. “It’s really depressing… all those [dead birds and] star fish, I was really upset.”

13. Unprecedented Releases a new science must be Invented

Former Official: Fukushima is “unstoppable”… Huge amounts of radiation are pouring out, “very serious” for Pacific Ocean — Journalists withholding shocking information — Plant Chief: “This is something that has never been experienced”… We must invent new science for unprecedented catastrophe

Associated Press, Dec 15, 2015 (emphasis added): Fukushima decommission chief [Naohiro Masuda] warns with surprising candor: Nothing can be promised… not even robots have been able to enter the main fuel-debris areas so far… “This is something that has never been experienced. A textbook doesn’t exist for something like this,” Masuda told The Associated Press… “Before, it was a war zone,” Masuda said quietly… 

[E]ven the most optimistic projections estimate the work will take about half a century. Masuda said without hesitation that more delays could be in order. No one knows exactly where the melted nuclear debris is sitting in the reactors, let alone how exactly the debris might be taken out… 

New science will have to be invented for the plant to be cleaned up… The March 2011 catastrophe is unprecedented… [T]he containment, where the morass of fuel lies, has been breached… And as devastating as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was in what is now Ukraine, that involved one reactor, not three. When asked about what he wanted to tell the people worried about contaminated fish, such as on the West Coast of North and South America, Masuda said the radiation leak into the Pacific Ocean has been reduced to a level one-millionth of what it was in 2011… “They don’t need to worry, and, if there is anything to worry about, we will be out with that information,” he said… Masuda also acknowledged that Japan has not done as good a job as it should have on relaying the harsh realities at the plant.

Interview with Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Nuclear Hotseat with host Libbe HaLevy, Dec 16, 2015:
14. NRC Chief Mcfarlane departs reminding the INDUSTRY that the lessons from Fukushima have yet to be implemented

ATLANTA (AP) — The outgoing chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday the industry must finish making the safety changes required after a nuclear disaster in Japan, and it faces unresolved questions over how to store nuclear waste as existing plants close.

Allison Macfarlane became the agency’s leader in July 2012 after the stormy tenure of former chair Gregory Jaczko, whose management style was described as bullying by fellow commissioners and staffers. A geologist, Macfarlane will start teaching Jan. 1 at George Washington University.

Macfarlane said the agency must follow through on changes required after the March 2011 crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan. Tsunami waves disabled the plant’s electrical and cooling systems, causing a meltdown and explosions that flung debris and radiation into the environment.

“We as regulators need to do what we think is right,” Macfarlane said in an interview during a nuclear industry conference in Atlanta. “And if we think something is required, and this is something we’ve learned as a result of the Fukushima accident, we need to tell the industry to do it.”

Among the changes, the nuclear industry has set up centers in Memphis and Phoenix that can quickly send emergency gear to a stricken plant. Some plants will install vents meant to prevent explosions during extreme accidents. Regulators are reviewing updated earthquake and flooding hazard assessments for plants across the country.

Earlier this year, Macfarlane lost a vote on whether spent nuclear fuel should be removed more quickly from water-filled storage pools. After used nuclear fuel is removed from a reactor, it must be cooled in water for several years. By law, the U.S. government promised to dispose of that used fuel, but it never has. As a result, spent fuel continues to accumulate in pools.

Experts have long been concerned that accidental water loss in a cooling pool could cause the old fuel to overheat, potentially combust and release radiation. NRC staffers concluded the costs of placing that spent fuel in special casks on land outweighed the safety gains from removing it from the pools, and a majority of the NRC’s commissioners agreed. Macfarlane said the issue deserved more study.

The NRC faces a radically changed market. Just a few years ago, the utility industry anticipated building a wave of new nuclear power plants. Instead, natural gas prices plummeted and demand for electricity tumbled during the Great Recession and lackluster recovery. Three nuclear plants in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are being built. Some nuclear vendors have struggled to meet strict quality control rules.

“I think this is new for the industry in general because they haven’t had nuclear construction in this country for so long,” Macfarlane said.

Macfarlane said the NRC will need rules for power companies that are taking existing nuclear plants offline because the facilities are no longer viewed as economic.

“It’s crazy to decommission plants under operating reactor rules,” she said. “We do it, it’s safe … But I think it would be better for everyone, it would be better for the industry, it would be better for us, it would be better for the public if we had rules that were specific to decommissioning facilities.” 


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Building the Mexican Wall

Building the Mexican Wall
by RW Spisak

It was the third day of the new Trump Presidency. He called Vice President Cruz and I into the OVAL to kick off the new Mexican Wall Campaign. Rubio was to make his report this morning. The project had nearly landed on Cruz's desk, he was not a fan of the WALL concept. He favored drones with tactical nukes for border patrol, but together he and I convinced the President TM to hand it off to Rubio, Director of Homeland Security. The TRUMPSTER dumped that stinking burrito in Rubios ambitious lap. Barely three good strokes to that thirsty ego of his and he took to it with relish or at least salsa.

The TRUMPSTER had sent that double-dealing little snit Rubianity, south to grease the wheels,  since he’s no longer holding the Senate together with both hands. Thats Cruz's gig, president of the Senate. He's now beloved by all.  Everybody knew Rubio in Tallahassee, a deal maker's deal maker. He’d been sent ahead to soften the ground with the Mexican Ambassador. We expect him here in the Oval any minute to give his report.

MR PRESIDENT? asked a voice from outside the OVAL. Director Rubio is here.

Yes, what excellent guest do you have for me now?…  "NEXT" he roars, right through Cruz and I as if we weren’t standing directly in front of his desk. The Trumpster is so hard of hearing its amazing he understands anything. Rubio walks in, cellphone  pressed to his ear and trailing a cloud of clerks. The Trumpster was not one for small talk, its quips or questions with him. As Rubio enters the room, the TRUMPSTERS yells at him. “Marco what GREAT NEWS do you have for us, how was Tijuana? Have they ordered the bricks? I have some friends in Haifa that have a turn-key solution.”

Marco swiftly eyes all in the room, genuflects to the desk and leans over to give the TRUMPSTER a hug. The TRUMPSTER pulls back and waves him off. Marco sheepishly backs off  turns to his chief aide and requests a bottle of water. Cruz and I slide over toward the presidents right, share a knowing wink. We wait, while Marco empties nearly half a bottle. He bobs his head and excuses himself gasping  “I’m so thirsty.” Cruz winks at the president, and in a mocking pseudo Canadian voice says “stay thirsty my friend”. (Grins all around)

"Marco, how was Tijuana? How goes the DEAL? You read my book, yeah?" The TRUMPSTER looks at us for confirmation. We nod, in unison, sycophancy rules here in TRUMP-TOWN. Marco, freezes like the kid with-his-hand-in-the-cookie-jar? BOOK? 
"What book?" he asks his chief aide, hand poised attempting to shield anyone from hearing his question.  His lieutenant leans down, to little Marco and whispers, "the Presidents book, sir “THE ART OF THE DEAL”."
"Who wrote that for you, anyway" says, wise ass Vice Cruz, always the showboat.  TRUMPSTER (the President TM)  ignores his comment. Marco greasy as ever replies “I’ve been listening to it sir, tremendous book, sir, a book for the ages, a piece of classic literature, of epic proportions right up there with Cervantes.” The TRUMPSTER (the President TM)  beams,  and then he mouths to us Cervantes?  - we give him a exaggerated THUMBS UP.  He smiles, and turns back to Rubio Director of Homeland Security... “Construction started yet?” he says hopefully?

"Well, Mr. President, I haven’t been to Tijuana for negotiations with the Mexican government. I had to lay some important ground work. I’ve spent the last week in Belaire." The TRUMPSTER President TM  knows his REAL ESTATE, shocked he asks “Belaire, California?” (Cruz, leans over to me, and snarks, “he was laying more than ground work in Beverly Hills”.) 

“Who were you meeting with in California? You were supposed to be meeting with the Mexican Government – I told you to go down there and TELL-THEM-THEY-RE-GOING-TO-PAY …. for the wall.” THE ROOM ERUPTS IN LAUGHTER  

  1.  End chapter 1

Marco, stood with that bewitching "deer in the headlights look" that he’s practiced in a mirror for decades, (he assumed it made him look thoughtful.) Cruz breaks in, “So where were you? Were you starlet diving the whole two weeks?”

“NO! “Marco responded,  “I was meeting with people more important than some flunky from un Gobermiento de Mexicano.” The TRUMPSTER's face is beet red now - “SO WHO?” he yells?
Marcos voice drops to a whisper... “I was meeting with someone who can get the JOB DONE.”  "WHO THEN?"  The TRUMPSTER was leaning over the desk, his comb-over disheveled, hanging down almost to his jowl line. “I was meeting with”, … at this point, VP Cruz, unable to hold his tongue another second, said, “I got it, you were in Hollywood, to meet with Sean Penn!” The TRUMPSTER glares at Rubio,  “You wanted the help of El Chapo?” Yelled the TRUMPSTER  (the President TM)!

“NO, no, no, nothing like that. I was meeting with someone much more powerful than Sean Penn.”  Rubio explained. Cruz interjects finger outstretched, “who then?”

Director of Homeland Security Rubio finally gets it out “I, I, I was meeting with Charlie Sheen” The ever clueless Dr. Carson, who’d been standing stock still and silent by TRUMPSTER’s  (the President TM) desk since Thursday, suddenly came to life and asked  "Charlie Sheen? Are we going to see a movie?”

“NO, no movie... this is real!” Mario, Director of Homeland Security, Rubio harrumphed. “He has more ties to the Drug Cartels than anyone since Ollie North. He’s put us in touch with the cartels and sent this simple message – with sensible drug laws coming to more and more of the U.S. The BIG WALL will keep illicit drug prices sky-high. The Cartel's have been worried about this for years, all their economists have warned, this is their biggest problem. This will protect them for a decade or more. And they’ve already convinced the Mexican Government to take the credit for being “GOOD NEIGHBORS” with El Norte. Best of all the graft still flows. We can add new security money, troop money and high tech arms. Infact the Wall guarantees several new revenue streams  Only the peons that will suffer.”

TRUMPSTER (the President TM) "OK Marco ... no harm, no foul. Somebody go get Press Secretary Jeb!  to call a press conference. We’ll see if he can deliver this one without a slip-up.

Who am I, I am the Ambitious Amphibious Newt – friend to the powerful or those with ready cash. I have been your guide on this tour behind the scenes at the TRUMP White House. The gift shop is just ahead on your left.