fracking

Fracking is at the core of the fossil energy industry’s intent—over the coming decades—to “maximize” the amount of oil and gas that is brought to the surface of the United States, and burned. Trump has handed the federal administrative reins to these interests to see that it happens, in a blatant disregard for science, ethics, and human rights.

FIGHT AGAINST FRACKING

The fight against fracking is the fight for an altogether different vision for the future of energy. It is the fight to maximize the oil and gas we keep in the ground. True energy security cannot sacrifice public health in our communities, and the climate on which we depend. We require democratic and localized energy systems, built on the efficient use of abundant and renewable energy resources.

LITANY OF PROBLEMS

Fracking brings a litany of problems to local communities. Fracking puts vital aquifers at risk for generations by creating new pathways through which contaminants—including:

  • Chemicals injected;
  • Radioactive brines;
  • Methane;
  • Other hydrocarbon gases.

This can flow over long periods of time.

MARS LANDSCAPES

It fragments forests and mars landscapes with new roads, new well sites, new pipelines, and other infrastructure. It:

  • Creates toxic and even radioactive waste:
  • Disposal of which causes earthquakes;
  • Risks drinking water.

It leads to thousands of accidents, leaks, and spills each year that threaten public health and safety and risk rivers, streams, and shallow aquifers. It dumps hazardous pollutants into the air above well-sites and other infrastructure, at the expense of local communities, families, and farms.

EXPLOSIVE HAZARDS

It’s turned homes into explosive hazards by contaminating water wells with methane and other harmful gases. Each fracked well consumes millions of gallons of water, competing with farmers for local water supplies. More broadly, fracking threatens the climate on which we all depend by dumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, and by locking in future climate pollution with each new infrastructure project.

REPEALING OBAMA DAPL

One of Trump’s first actions was repealing the decision by Obama to start an Environmental Impact Statement for considering a reroute of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). The Obama decision had come just one day before a deadline the US Army Corps of Engineers had set, after which native water protectors at Standing Rock would have been treated as trespassers on their own sovereign land.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE

We need to move into a sustainable energy future that prioritizes becoming energy efficient and depends on sun and wind power. We also need to invest in a robust mass transit system that is affordable and convenient. These solutions bring wealth, employment, and well-being where they are put in place. They will bring local energy and economic security. They redefine how we should be defining economic and energy security at the community level. What we require is trust that we can do this—it requires political will.

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cher

Pop superstar Cher was honored with the coveted Icon Award at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday evening, and the celebrated singer demonstrated exactly why she’s deserved the honor with a live performance of her mega-hit “Believe.”

GWEN STEFANI

Gwen Stefani introduced Cher, who kicked things off with a wild performance of her hit song, rocking a skin-toned bodysuit and diamond-encrusted silver beaded strands that gave her a racy, almost nude appearance as she belted out the tune.

NEXT

After a short video commemorating her legacy, Cher returned to the stage in her iconic black leather outfit with a towering, curly black wig to deliver a follow-up performance of her 1989 hit “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

“I’ve wanted to do what I do since I was four years old, and I’ve been doing it for 53 years,” Cher said in her acceptance speech. “I want to thank my mom, because when I was young my mom said, ‘You’re not gonna be the smartest, you’re not gonna be the prettiest, you’re not gonna be the most talented. But you’re gonna be special. “

“Then, when I met Sonny [Bono], he said the same thing. And there was really nothing about me that really lead anyone to believe that I was going to be special,” she continued, laughing.

“I think luck has so much to do with my success,” she added. “I think it was mostly lucky and a little bit of something thrown in.”

Cher, who has been performing for over six decades, was the first artist to see one of her songs reach the top spot on a Billboard chart in every decade from the 1960s all the way to the 2010s.

The 71-year-old music legend released her hit single “Believe” in 1998, on her 22nd studio album of the same name. The song was a worldwide hit and, with over 11 million copies sold, is one of the highest-selling singles of all time.

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Posted by: maboulette | May 22, 2017

Law Enforcement Part of Investigation Has Begun


Trump meeting

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump campaign enters the White House and has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest.  This shows that the FBI investigation is reaching into the highest levels of government; according to people aware of this matter.

CLOSE TO TRUMP

The senior White House adviser under analysis by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people who would not further identify the official.

ACTIVE PHASE

This disclosure comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more clearly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The force of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, these people said.

SOURCES

The sources highlighted that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously had influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

FLYNN RESIGNED

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include:

  • Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner;
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions;
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

People familiar with the investigation said the intensifying effort does not mean criminal charges are near, or that any such charges will result. Earlier last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller to function as special counsel and lead the investigation into Russian interfering with election.

AP SOURCE

An AP source says that Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination today Monday 5/22 as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

DECISION

Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

LEGAL EXPERTS

Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.

DIRECTION OF PROBE

It is unclear exactly how Mueller’s leadership will affect the direction of the probe, and he is already bringing in new people to work on the team. Those familiar with the case said its implication had increased before Mueller’s appointment.

BEGAN QUIETLY

While the case began quietly last July as an effort to determine whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian operatives to meddle in the presidential election campaign; the investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. The people familiar with the matter said the probe has sharpened into something more apprehensive for the White House, the FBI and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take, the people said.

SUBPOENAS

When subpoenas are issued or interviews are requested, it is probable the people being asked to talk or offer documents will reveal publicly what they were asked about.

INVESTIGATION

The FBI’s investigation seeks to define whether and to what extent Trump associates were in contact with Kremlin operatives, what business dealings they might have had in Russia, and whether they in any way enabled the hacking and publishing of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails during the presidential campaign. Several congressional committees are also investigating, though their probes could not create criminal charges.

 

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Posted by: maboulette | May 22, 2017

Swedish Prosecutor Drops Assange Rape Investigation


Julian Assange

Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into sexual-assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Officials will hold a press conference Friday to expand on their decision to halt the seven-year legal standoff.

EDUADOREAN EMBASSY IN LONDON

The 45-year-old, who firmly denied the allegations he assaulted a woman in Sweden, took shelter in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012 and has lived there since. Assange may now be able to leave the embassy, but his legal team said he will not exit the premises without certain guarantees regarding extradition. The Metropolitan Police in London issued a statement Friday confirming that an arrest warrant for Assange still stands over his failure to surrender in 2012 and that they are “obliged to execute the warrant should he leave the embassy.”

OPINIONS

My opinion is that the United States should have a warrant out for his arrest – this Wikileaks crap is only causing us trouble and revealing information that are making problems for the State Dept first and now the CIA.

 

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Sessions

It was no surprise when Attorney General Jeff Session announced his decision  to curb the Justice Department office that investigates and sometimes sues local police departments for “a pattern or practice” of unconstitutional law enforcement.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL

On February 28, Sessions told the National Association of Attorneys General, “We need, so far as we can, in my view, [to] help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness.” Afterwards, he told reporters, “So we’re going to try to pull back on [investigating police abuses], and I don’t think it’s wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.”

REVERSE POLICY OF OBAMA

Sessions was signaling his intention to reverse the policy of the Obama administration Justice Department, which opened investigations into 25 of the 18,000 police departments and sheriff’s offices across the country. President Obama also enforced 19 consent decrees that resolved civil rights lawsuits filed against police in Cleveland, Baltimore, New Orleans, Ferguson, Missouri and 15 other cities.

NEW YORK TIMES

On Monday, the New York Times reports Sessions directed his staff to look at whether law enforcement programs adhere to principles put forth by the Trump administration, including one declaring that ‘the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn’ the work police officers perform ‘in keeping American communities safe.'”

RESULT OF DECISION

The result of Sessions’ decision, said law professor Franklin Zimring in an interview, will be to hobble longstanding federal efforts to improve local police practices, with the help of the police.

“If you want to save one life or two, you prosecute an officer who uses excessive force,” says Zimring. “If you want to save 400 lives, you rewrite the rules on use of lethal force under a consent decree.”

AUTHOR

Zimring is the author of the Amazon non-fiction book, When Police Kill. The book documents how and why U.S. police departments kill about 1,000 people per year. Since Jan. 1, 2017, a total of 305 people have died at the hands of U.S. law enforcement, according to a database at killedbypolice.net.

SESSIONS’ ACTION

Sessions’ action, says Zimring, ignores the “tremendously beneficial effects” of consent decrees.

“Exhibit A is the Los Angeles Police Department,” he says. In 1994, the LAPD entered the first such decree with the Clinton administration’s Justice Department after the videotape of LAPD officers beating Rodney King set off massive rioting in 1992. Since then, Los Angeles has had the second best improvement in public safety statistics in the country, he said.

“Los Angeles is safer and the police practices are better, as result of the decree, no question,” Zimring said.

“The second problem,” he continued, “is that when you want to deemphasize the federal role [in investigating police practices] you will inevitably ‘leave it to the states.’ But state governments and police have near zero capacity to understand and deal with police shootings. And the individual departments are too small and self-interested to investigate properly.”

THIRD PROBLEM

A third problem, which Sessions has yet to address, is whether the courts will go along. The consent decrees are agreements between the Justice Department, the police department and a federal judge. “The Justice Department would not be able to unilaterally unwind the agreements without court intervention,” the Times notes.

WARS OF COPS

For supporters of President Trump, the Attorney General is signaling an end to the so-called “war of cops.” In fact, says Zimring, fatal assaults on police officers have declined, on a per capita basis, by 70 percent, since 1976. In the last six years, the downward trend has flattened with an average of 50 officers killed annually in the line of duty, he said.

“The argument is that if you do anything that inconveniences police officers or subjects them to liability, you support a ‘war on cops,’ and you don’t care about crime,” Zimring said. “It’s an ideological proposition. That doesn’t mean it is factually true.”

The reality of Sessions’ decision, he says, is that if any U.S. police department is “willfully engaging in constitutional violations,” they may well escape accountability under the Trump administration.

“We’re going to have to find other ways to deal with them,” Zimring said.

Such as?  “Sue them in federal court, with a little help from people who are not friends with Jeff Sessions,” he said.

 

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Posted by: maboulette | May 22, 2017

Tragic Weekend on Mount Everest


everest

Three Mount Everest climbers were reported dead Sunday, with a fourth climber still missing after getting separated from his guide.

ROLAND YEARWOOD

Roland Yearwood, a 50-year-old Alabama doctor, was among those who died, Nepal tourism officials told The Washington Post. Yearwood had taken on the world’s highest mountain before, surviving an immense earthquake during his 2015 attempt to scale Everest, according to AL.com. His wife, Amrita Yearwood, described her husband at that time as “adventurous” and someone who “doesn’t get freaked out.”

SPOKESPERSON

Everest Parivar Expedition agency spokesperson Murari Sharma told the Chicago Tribune that details of Yearwood’s death were not immediately known, though he reportedly died near the summit.

TWO OTHERS

Two other climbers also died Sunday. Slovakian climber Vladimir Strba and Australian climber Francesco Enrico died from altitude sickness, according to The Himalayan Times.

SEARCH CONTINUES

Search teams continue to look for Ravi Kumar, an Indian climber missing since Saturday. Kumar made it to the summit, but both he and his guide fell sick, the Post reports. The guide left Kumar with a supply of oxygen and went down the mountain to find help. Though the guide made it to a camp, teams have not been able to locate Kumar.

RECORD NUMBER OF PERMITS

This year, The Nepalese Tourism Department has issued a record number of permits for climbing Everest. As of early May, it had issued permits to 317 climbers, according to the Associated Press.

60 MADE SUMMIT

Guide Tendi Sherpa told the Post that 60 people made it to the top on Sunday, but there were also numerous helicopter evacuations for emergencies such as frostbite and altitude sickness.

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commey

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump last week amid an agency probe into alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election, has agreed to testify before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee at a public hearing, the committee said in a statement on Friday.

The hearing will be scheduled after the May 29 Memorial Day holiday, the statement said. 

(hope this doesn’t ruin the President’s day – you enjoy your trip Mr. President because it might be the last one you get to take on Air Force 1)

Posted by: maboulette | May 20, 2017

Price Defends Cutting Nearly $1 Trillion from Medicaid


Trump and price

Cutting nearly $1 trillion from Medicaid will give states the freedom to tailor the program to suit their needs, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said  several weeks ago, as he defended a narrowly passed House bill that’s goal is to undo parts of the health care law passed by the Obama administration.

TRUMP’S LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENT 100 DAYS

The bill’s passage lifted President Trump, but the measure appeared headed for an overhaul in the Senate. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, said the House bill is unlikely to be the version that ultimately clears the Senate and ends up in front of the president.

MAINE SEN. SUSAN COLLINS

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican whose vote will be critical in getting any bill to Trump’s desk, voiced concerns about probable higher costs for older people and those with pre-existing conditions. She said the House bill was hard to assess overall because it passed without an updated analysis by the Congressional Budget Office on how the measure would affect health care costs and coverage. The CBO concluded after reviewing an earlier version of the House bill that an estimated 24 million consumers would lose coverage over 10 years.

STATEMENT BY COLLINS

Collins said she expected the Senate would come up with a “whole new fresh approach” in replacing the Affordable Care Act, enacted under President Barack Obama.

“The House bill is not going to come before us,” she said. “The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our bill, and I’m convinced we will take the time to do it right.”

CBO OLD ANALYSIS

CBO’s analysis highlighted an $880 billion cut to Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled, which Price sought to cast as a way to give states more leeway to experiment with the program. The Obama-era law expanded Medicaid with extra payments to 31 states to cover more people. The House bill halts the expansion, in addition to cutting federal spending on the program.

PRICE

But Price insisted Sunday, “There are no cuts to the Medicaid program,” adding that resources were being apportioned “in a way that allows states greater flexibility.”

Price said the changes will make sure that people who rely on Medicaid get the care and coverage they need.

HOUSE BILL

The House bill, passed by only one vote, would end the health care law’s fines on people who don’t buy policies and erase its taxes on health industry businesses and higher-earning people. It would dilute consumer-friendly insurance coverage requirements, like prohibiting higher premiums for customers with pre-existing medical conditions. The measure would also water down the subsidies that help consumers afford health insurance.

MAJOR ORGANIZATIONS

Major medical and other organizations, including the American Medical Association, oppose the House bill. Democrats also refuse to back any effort to undo Obama’s law, while some Senate Republicans — Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — oppose the Medicaid cuts.

CAMPAIGN PROMISES

During the presidential campaign, Trump promised not to cut Medicaid and other entitlement programs. He celebrated the bill’s passage with House Republicans in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, an unusual move following action on a bill by one House of Congress.

On Sunday, he urged Republican senators to not fail the American people.

“Republican Senators will not let the American people down!” Trump tweeted. “ObamaCare premiums and deductibles are way up — it was a lie and it is dead!”

How Trump came up with that statement is unknown since this is just ObamaCare with changes made.

 HOUSE SPEAKER RYAN    

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he expected the Senate will improve the House bill, which represents the culmination of seven years of promises by Republicans to repeal and replace what’s become known as “Obamacare.” Ryan said the House vote was one part of a “multistage process.”

“We think we need to do even more support for people who are older,” he acknowledged. “The Senate will complete the job.”

Price commented on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Collins and Ryan appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and Mulvaney appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

 

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Posted by: maboulette | May 20, 2017

Young People Leaving the GOP in Mass


Oreilly and Trump

The Republican Party controls all three branches of government, as well as 32 state legislatures and 33 governorships. Even if Trump were to be impeached for obstruction of justice—a dubious proposition as long as he has the support of the far right and the GOP holds a majority in the House—Neil Gorsuch will sit on the Supreme Court for decades, as will any number of federal judges. The White House would be inherited by the likes of Mike Pence, whose politics are arguably even more regressive and sadistic than the current president’s.

FOR DEMOCRATS

It’s bleak out there for Democrats and progressives, yet the future of the GOP may be more dangerous than it appears.

NEW PEW ANALYSIS

According to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center, 23% of Republican voters ages 18-29 have switched parties since 2015, against just 9% of Democratic voters in the same age range. As many as half of Republicans  30 and under have abandoned the party at one point or another during that time.

FiveThirtyEight

Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight finds that Trump’s approval rating has sunk to 39.7 percent, it’s lowest since he took office—and that figure doesn’t account for the latest Comey memo revelations. The danger for Republicans is real, writes the Washington Post’s Philip Bump:

“Studies have shown that partisan identity is formed early on, with partisanship tending to correlate to the popularity of the president in office. As FiveThirtyEight noted in 2014, the most fervent Republican voters are those who were 18 at the outset of the Eisenhower and Reagan presidencies; the most Democratic were those who turned 18 as George W. Bush was mired in the Iraq War.”

Whether the Democrats are capable of harnessing that unrest is another question entirely. As the 2016 election made clear, demographics alone won’t save them.

 

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Posted by: maboulette | May 19, 2017

Michael Flynn Appears To Be Leaking Dirt on Trump


flynn

We’ve seen that Michael Flynn is so eager to protect himself in the Trump-Russia investigation that he was willing to implicate Trump by association when he registered as a foreign agent. We’ve seen Flynn ask for immunity in exchange for testifying. We’ve heard scattered reports that Trump is worried about Flynn’s eventual testimony. And based on a major new leak this evening, it appears Michael Flynn is now leaking dirt on Trump to the media.

LEAK

Here’s the leak itself: the New York Times is reporting this evening that Michael Flynn voluntarily informed Donald Trump’s White House that he was under FBI investigation, and Trump decided to appoint Flynn as National Security Adviser anyway. Now think about who looks good in this story and who looks bad. Trump and everyone around him look terrible for having allowed a target of an active FBI investigation to take such a sensitive role. But Michael Flynn sure does look good.

WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL

Among the very limited number of people who would be mindful that Flynn informed the White House Counsel of this, the only one who would have any motivation to leak it to the media is Flynn himself. Now of course Flynn isn’t calling up New York Times reporters and saying “guess what I know.” But he could easily give this information to his allies, who in turn would call up a reporter and leak it.

SOURCES

For its part, the Times says that its sourcing is “two people familiar with the case.” But based on the timing and overall circumstances, it sure does appear that Michael Flynn is the one leaking this dirt on Trump. Call it a hunch on my part, or an educated guess, or whatever you like. But we may actually now be at the point where Flynn smells blood and is looking to turn the narrative in his own favor at an already-wounded Trump’s expense.

 

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