Daily Archives: March 9, 2014

Inside the $400-million political network backed by the Kochs – The Washington Post

In an analysis of 2011 and 2012 tax filings, The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics found that a coalition of nonprofit groups backed by a donor network organized by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch raised more than $400 million in the last election cycle. Much of the money was distributed to a maze of limited-liability companies affiliated with the nonprofits, which used some of their resources to turn out conservative voters and run ads against President Obama and congressional Democrats. Read related story.

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Divest Harvard – Teach-in – Massachusetts Hall – March 11, 2014 – 12:00noon + 12:30pm + 1:00pm

Change in Time of “Teach-In”

(….because of expected snowstorm)


(Initial announcement:)


Divest Harvard Weekly Newsletter:

Teach-in: Because of an expected snow storm the date  of the Teach-in has been changed to: Tuesday, 3/11 To clear up Faust’s misunderstanding of the reality of the fossil fuel industry’s grip on our government, Divest Harvard is holding a rolling series of teach-ins this Tuesday, March 11 on the myriad ways that the fossil fuel industry uses its wealth and power to block climate action. We will hold the teach-in three times outside Massachusetts Hall at 12:00noon, 12:30pm and 1:00pm.

Each 20 minute teach-in will examine how the fossil fuel industry created and funds climate denialism, distorts elections, blocks clean energy projects, and enervates climate legislation. We’ll talk about why divestment can help solve this problem, and we’ll be reading statements from faculty and prominent climate scientists like Michael Mann who are speaking up in response to Faust’s words. Join us!

[Excerpt from article by Joe Romm:] “….What is especially telling is the exchange that begins at about 50 seconds:

Welton: “If Harvard doesn’t help us who do we have to turn to….”
Faust: “Harvard does help you. Harvard helps by making discoveries that enable this transition….”
Welton: “But the fossil fuel industry stands in the way of their implementation.”
Faust: “That is not the case.”

* * *

[Such astounding ignorance is rarely documented in an educational figure of this stature.  Little wonder students feel that a “teach-in” seems to be called for outside President Drew Faust’s office at this point.  Students may use the occasion to suggest some supplementary reading material that could be of use to President Faust in learning about these matters, including, perhaps, documentation readily available on the influence and intervention of oil interests in the realms of private philanthropy and public policy. ]

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Exclusive: Harvard President Faust Says Fossil Fuel Companies Are Not Blocking Clean Energy

By Joe Romm on March 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm
Exclusive: Harvard President Faust Says Fossil Fuel Companies Are Not Blocking Clean Energy

In this June 30, 2009 file photo, Harvard University President Drew Faust speaks during an interview with The Associated Press on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Mass.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Climate Progress has obtained exclusive video of Harvard President Drew Faust offering a less-than-convincing defense of her decision not to divest the University of fossil fuel investments.

Back in October, Faust released a letter explaining why Harvard would not divest. Her reasoning was thoroughly debunked at the time.

A couple of days ago, Harvard divestment activist Alli Welton confronted Faust in Harvard Yard. Here is the video:

This is the Case – Raw from Divest Harvard on Vimeo.

What is especially telling is the exchange that begins at about 50 seconds:

Welton: “If Harvard doesn’t help us who do we have to turn to….”
Faust: “Harvard does help you. Harvard helps by making discoveries that enable this transition….”
Welton: “But the fossil fuel industry stands in the way of their implementation.”
Faust: “That is not the case.”

Does Faust seriously believe that? The problem with advancing a morally indefensible position is that your argument quickly becomes a house of cards.

The oil, gas, and coal industries have spent over $2 billion lobbying Congress since 1999. In 2009 alone, the oil and gas industry “unleashed a fury of lobbying expenditures” against climate legislation, “spending $175 million — easily an industry record — and outpacing the pro-environmental groups by nearly eight-fold, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis.”

Indeed, the fossil fuel industry is not content these days to merely block new legislation to advance clean energy. They are working in a numerous states to roll back existing clean energy standards.

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Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action

Bullfrog Films

Uploaded on Aug 19, 2009

Directed by Roberta Grossman
Produced by The Katahdin Foundation

The inspiring stories of four battles in which Native American activists are fighting to preserve their land, sovereignty, and culture

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Democrats plan all-night ‘talkathon’ on climate change

Susan Davis, USA TODAY 12:20 p.m. EDT March 9, 2014

(Photo: Charles Dharapak AP)
WASHINGTON—Just don’t call it a filibuster.

A majority of Senate Democrats on Monday will launch an overnight “talkathon” until approximately 9:00 a.m. Tuesday to draw attention to climate change.

The overnight effort, organized by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is part of the recently launched Senate Climate Action Task Force headed by Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

In a statement, Boxer said Democrats want to “wake up Congress” to the dangers of climate change.

The marathon session is not technically a filibuster in part because there is no legislation under debate, but overnight sessions are rare and likely to draw media attention to the topic — which is precisely the goal.

The most recent overnight “talkathon” session was led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, last September in an unsuccessful but highly public effort to block a stopgap spending bill.

The Democratic effort is cause for some confusion because these senators are calling for action in a chamber they control but without any specific legislation to offer up for a vote, or any timetable for action this year.

Whitehouse spokesman Seth Larson said the overnight event is “just one of a number of steps that the Senate Climate Action Task Force will be taking this year, and we hope it will help get more Americans engaged in the important debate about how we can act on climate change.”

The issue of climate change is politically volatile, and Congress has shied away from serious legislative efforts since 2010, when House Democrats narrowly approved a bill to cap carbon emissions. That bill was ultimately viewed as contributing to the party’s electoral losses that year. Senate Democrats never took it up.

Democrats have 28 senators scheduled to speak through Monday night, but some of the party’s most vulnerable senators facing re-election this year—Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina—are notably missing from the lineup.

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Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist and founder of The Futuro Media Group. She has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics three times since 1995 for her work reporting with CBS, CNN, and NPR. Hinojosa received the 2012 John Chancellor Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, four Emmy Awards, and many others.

Getting her start as a radio host for a Latino program at Barnard College, Hinojosa rose through the media ranks to report on urban youth, immigration, and Latino issues for iconic networks HBO, CBS, NPR, and CNN. She hosted the PBS show Maria Hinojosa: One on One for five years, interviewing a wide spectrum of celebrities, musicians, and political figures. Hinojosa was the executive producer of America By the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa: Clarkston Georgia and in 2011 became the first Latina to anchor a Frontline Report on PBS called Lost in Detention.

As founder of The Futuro Media Group, Hinojosa helps to further their mission of producing multi-platform, community-based journalism dedicated to celebrating the rich diversity of American communities.

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After graduating from Wesleyan University as a film major, Majora Carter began studying for a master of fine arts degree at NYU. While living and working in her native Hunt’s Point, New York, she stumbled across a weedy lot on the edge of the Bronx River near her home. Learning the lot was slated to be a waste facility to handle nearly 40% of the city’s solid refuse, Majora founded a non-profit organization called Sustainable South Bronx to fight the plan. SSB organized local businesses, community members, and local government resources to develop the Hunt’s Point Riverside Park; creating a beautiful riverside green space where an abandoned concrete factory once stood. Through SSB, the Queen of Green worked with local government, businesses and citizens to fight the environment and public health issues in their community. Today, the SSB creates jobs, vision and hope for a community that up until recently had none.

As an ambassador for the new Green Economy, Majora’s vision and drive has earned her many awards, fellowships and prestigious accolades such as the MacArthur Genius Fellowship. In 2008, Carter began her economic consulting and planning firm, the Majora Carter Group to address similar issues facing other communities today. As an environmental economist who utilizes her charm, wit, passion and smile to build and advocate sustainability initiatives in urban communities, Majora has emerged as a heavy hitter in the sustainable urban environment initiatives. Today she spearheads her consulting firm and hosts the Peabody Award winning radio show The Promised Land on NPR.

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BBC News – Mysterious new man-made gases pose threat to ozone layer

9 March 2014 Last updated at 14:09 ET
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

Dealing with the hole in the ozone layer has been one of the most successful international science projects
Related Stories

Scientists have identified four new man-made gases that are contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Two of the gases are accumulating at a rate that is causing concern among researchers.

Worries over the growing ozone hole have seen the production of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases restricted since the mid 1980s.

But the precise origin of these new, similar substances remains a mystery, say scientists.

Lying in the atmosphere, between 15 and 30km above the surface of the Earth, the ozone layer plays a critical role in blocking harmful UV rays, which cause cancers in humans and reproductive problems in animals.

“We don’t know where the new gases are being emitted from and this should be investigated” Dr Johannes Laube University of East Anglia

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey were the first to discover a huge “hole” in the ozone over Antarctica in 1985.

The evidence quickly pointed to CFC gases, which were invented in the 1920s, and were widely used in refrigeration and as aerosol propellants in products like hairsprays and deodorants.

Remarkably, global action was rapidly agreed to tackle CFCs and the Montreal Protocol to limit these substances came into being in 1987.

A total global ban on production came into force in 2010.

….(read more).

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Farm Bill Reflects Shifting American Menu and a Senator’s Persistent Tilling



Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, shepherded the bill through Congress over two and a half years, with the help of broad bipartisan support. Credit Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The farm bill signed by President Obama last month was at first glance the usual boon for soybean growers, catfish farmers and their ilk. But closer examination reveals that the nation’s agriculture policy is increasingly more whole grain than white bread.

Within the bill is a significant shift in the types of farmers who are now benefiting from taxpayer dollars, reflecting a decade of changing eating habits and cultural dispositions among American consumers. Organic farmers, fruit growers and hemp producers all did well in the new bill. An emphasis on locally grown, healthful foods appeals to a broad base of their constituents, members of both major parties said.

“There is nothing hotter than farm to table,” said Representative Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican from a district of vast cherry orchards.
….(read more).

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Ian Haney López on the Dog Whistle Politics of Race | Bill Moyers

Part 1
February 28, 2014

Part 2
7 March 2014

What do Cadillac-driving “welfare queens,” a “food stamp president” and the “lazy, dependent and entitled” 47 percent tell us about post-racial America? They’re all examples of a type of coded racism that this week’s guest, Ian Haney López, writes about in his new book, Dog Whistle Politics.

Haney López is an expert in how racism has evolved in America since the civil rights era. Over the past 50 years, politicians have mastered the use of dog whistles – code words that turn Americans against each other while turning the country over to plutocrats. This political tactic, says Haney López, is “the dark magic” by which middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests.

“It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense… It’s racism as a strategy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered,” Haney López tells Bill, “it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity.”

Ian Haney López, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, is a senior fellow at the policy analysis and advocacy group, Demos.

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