Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Marilyn Manson - Sweet Dreams

Tool - Sober

Jane's Addiction - Jane Says (official live video)

Fracking town’s desperate laid-off workers: ‘They don’t tell you it’s all a lie’

RAW STORY


WILLISTON, N.D.—From the looks of it, the nation’s boomtown is still booming. Big rigs, cement mixers and oil tankers still clog streets built for lighter loads. The air still smells like diesel fuel and looks like a dust bowl— all that traffic — and natural gas flares, wasted byproducts of the oil wells, still glare out at the night sky like bonfires.
Not to mention that Walmart, still the main game in town, can’t seem to get a handle on its very long lines and half­ empty shelves.
But life at the center of the country’s largest hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom has definitely changed. The jobs that brought thousands of recession­-weary employment­-seekers to this once peaceful corner of western North Dakota over the last five years have been drying up, even as the unemployed keep coming.
Downtown, clutches of men pass their time at the Salvation Army, watching movies or trolling Craigslist ads on desktop computers. The main branch of the public library is full, all day, every day, with unemployed men in cubbyholes. And when the Command Center, a private temporary jobs agency, opens every morning at 6am, between two and three dozen people are waiting to get in the door.
Some of these job seekers are sleeping in their trucks, in utility sheds, behind piles of garbage by the railroad tracks, wherever they can curl up.
Only a year ago, Williston’s shale oil explosion was still gushing jobs. From 2010 to 2014, thanks to the Bakken shale oil patch, it was the fastest growing small city in the nation. Williston nearly tripled in size, from 12,000 to 35,000 people. But the number of active rigs used to drill new wells in the Bakken dropped to 111 in March, the lowest number since April 2010, according to state figures. Low oil prices have prompted drilling to slow down, and companies big and small have been laying off workers and cutting hours.
City officials paint a rosy picture. They cite North Dakota Job Service reports that maintain there are 116 jobs in Williston for every 100 residents, point to North Dakota’s ranking among oil­-producing states (number two, after Texas), call the oil production slowdown a blip and say the oil patch is still growing.
But the city’s job numbers do not match the reality on the ground. At the Command Center, oil jobs have dropped by 10 percent since last Fall, said Kyle Tennessen, the branch manager. Compounding the job shortage, laid-­off oil workers were competing with others for construction jobs and everything else, Tennessen added.
Some migrants have already left, or are planning to, according to the local U­Haul companies. They report fewer people renting vans and trucks to move into town and more laid­-off workers renting vehicles to move out.
The rest are becoming Williston’s version of day laborers. They compete for low­-paying jobs such as picking up trash, doing laundry and mopping floors, that make enough for them to eat, but not enough to afford a place to live. (The average one­-bedroom apartment in Williston costs $2,395 a month.)
Some live in one room with several other men, pooling resources and splitting costs. Others don’t know where they’ll sleep from one night to the next.
The Salvation Army has offered stranded workers a one­-way ticket back home. But many job seekers seem unwilling to leave—at least not until they can make a success out of their sacrificial move to a place with six months of winter, the worst traffic they’ve ever seen, and a disgruntled, if not miserable, populace.
“You just have to cowboy up and expect things to get better,” said Terry Ray Cover, a 56­-year-­old farmer and jack­-of-­all-­trades who came from southeast Iowa on a Greyhound bus in November. He’d heard North Dakota was raining jobs.
“They don’t tell you it’s all a lie,” he said, sipping coffee in the Salvation Army on a frigid day in early March. “Places advertise jobs and then tell you they’re not hiring.”
The jobs he sees ads for, Cover said, require certifications and degrees, “like engineering.” He had found odd jobs, one at a cattle ranch, since he arrived in Williston. But he hadn’t worked in four weeks, despite daily treks to the Command Center.
Cover, bundled in a ski suit, had spent the most frigid nights of winter (­20 Fahrenheit) in a tin shelter he discovered within walking distance of the Command Center, his best hope for work. He was relying on the Salvation Army for his daily bread and new friends for his daily smokes.
The men—they are all men—hanging out at the Salvation Army for coffee, bread and whatever donated goods there might be on a given day (from 9am to 3pm) have come from all over, including Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Louisiana, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. They include a number of African immigrants originally from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
But their stories are close to the same. They heard Williston had jobs, and they weren’t having any luck back home. So they hopped in their truck, or a Greyhound bus, and hopped off to a rude awakening.
Most of the men, who range in age from their early 30s to late 50s, have spent 10 nights, the maximum allowed, at a 10­-bed emergency shelter the Salvation Army and a local church set up, leasing 10 beds at a camp for oil workers (a so-­called man camp). More than 100 men applied to stay at the emergency shelter since it resumed operating for the second year in November. (It was set to close March 31 but has extended its season due to demand.)
Although there is camaraderie among the migrants, they are openly frustrated, and the room where they hang out at the Salvation Army is often tense and gloomy. Men who have been sleeping outside in the elements, or trying to, fold themselves into corners to get real sleep. The African immigrants tend to hang together, but a lot of loners fill the room.
Ali Singa, who moved to North Dakota from Nashville nine months ago, started out in Fargo, making $11 an hour the day after he arrived in shipping. He stayed for three months before heading to Williston, where he heard he could make more money, enough to send to his wife and three children in Sierra Leone.
He found work in a nearby oil patch town, Watford City, hauling water, but he was laid off in December and has not been able to land another job.
 “A lack of a job has trapped me here,” Singa said. “Right now, I’m staying with friends. I’m in a very bad situation. You must put this down in your report: At the same time that they’re advertising jobs, they’re laying people off, and people keep coming and keep coming.”
Singa, a high school French teacher in his native country, moved to Washington, D.C. from the Sierra Leone 10 years ago, seeking a better life for his family back home. But after being laid off from a baggage handler job, he has not had much luck with his relocations.
“Had I stayed home I would’ve been better off by now,” he said. “But hope has kept me here, because hope is the poor man’s bread. Why can’t I get a job? I don’t have any felonies, no arrests. I am a good person. It’s the strangest thing. Is it because of the color of my skin? I tell people back home to not come here.”
Singa leaves to find work every morning at 5:30, and is usually the first one to arrive at the Command Center. But jobs are not doled out on a first­-come basis. They are handed out based on qualifications, and rankings workers have received from employers, Kyle Tennessen said. That works against the newest workers, without a hiring history.
On a recent typical morning, Tennessen doled out seven day jobs—restaurant work, construction site clean­up, maintenance­­—leaving 22 people who’d arrived before daybreak with no work for another day.
One of them happened to be a woman. Louise Provus, 50, moved from Spokane to Williston two years ago with her husband, Randy Fleming, 57. “For the first two years,” she said, “I had a job at the local dry cleaners. In April, I started working for a cleaning company as a domestic. But that’s just once a week now, so I’m still looking.”
Fleming, who lost an automotive shop in Spokane to fire, has been looking for work doing anything. But he has not landed a permanent job. “I’ve got like 40 applications out there,” he said. “I’ve been in here all week. And some days, I’ve been in here all day, just in case. We’ll come here at six and I’ll stay till two or three in the afternoon. Then I’ll take the heel­toe express home.”
He and his wife are among the luckier regulars at the Command Center. They found an apartment in subsidized senior housing for $600 a month. Even so, Provus said, they struggle to pay the rent. “I think I’ll go to the library after this and put in an application at Walmart,” she said.
Walmart has had the same sign out front advertising jobs at $17 an hour for three years, despite hiring freezes.
“I know it’s a long shot,” Provus said. “Make sure you tell people that if you get any job out here, no matter how bad, you’d better take it, because it’s the best you’re going to get.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

McCain Suggests Israel "Go Rogue," Blow Up Iran Negotiations By Starting War

By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet


As Iran talks appear to be coming to a close with a successful agreement that would both lead to the lifting of international sanctions and restrictions that would prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons, most in the international community are relieved.
Yet Republicans have teamed up with their counterparts in the Israeli political system to do everything they can to obstruct a deal – with tactics such as drafting new sanctions legislation and warning the Iranian leadership that the nuclear agreement will not outlast President Obama.
But this past week Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ratcheted up this sabotage to a new level. During a floor speech he gave on March 24th, the senator suggested that Israel “go rogue” and that if they don't they may not survive the next 22 months of the Obama presidency:

McCAIN: The Israelis will need to chart their own path of resistance. On the Iranian nuclear deal, they may have to go rogue. Let's hope their warnings have not been mere bluffs. Israel survived its first 19 years without meaningful U.S. patronage. For now, all it has to do is get through the next 22, admittedly long, months..........................

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Whoops: Indiana’s anti-gay ‘Religious Freedom’ act opens the door for the First Church of Cannabis

RAW STORY

In a classic case of  “unintended consequences,” the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana may have opened the door for the establishment of the First Church of Cannabis in the Hoosier State.
While Governor Mike Pence (R) was holding a signing ceremony for the bill allowing businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds or values, paperwork for the First Church of Cannabis Inc. was being filed with the Secretary of State’s office, reports RTV6.
Church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that the church’s registration has been approved, writing, “Status: Approved by Secretary of State of Indiana – “Congratulations your registration has been approved!” Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.”
Levin is currently seeking $4.20 donations towards his non-profit church.
According to Indiana attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz,  Indiana legislators, in their haste to protect the religious values and practices of their constituents, may have unwittingly put the state in an awkward position with those who profess to smoke pot as a religious sacrament.
Shabazz pointed out that it is still illegal to smoke pot in Indiana, but wrote, “I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free.”
Noting that RFRA supporters say the bill  “Only spells out a test as to whether a government mandate would unduly burden a person’s faith and the government has to articulate a compelling interest for that rule and how it would be carried out in the least restrictive manner,” Shabazz contends the law may tie the state’s hands.
“So, with that said, what ‘compelling interest’ would the state of Indiana have to prohibit me from using marijuana as part of my religious practice?” he asked. ” I would argue marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and wine used in religious ceremonies. Marijuana isn’t anymore ‘addictive’ than alcohol and wine is used in some religious ceremonies. And marijuana isn’t any more of a ‘gateway’ drug than the wine used in a religious ceremony will make you go out any buy hard liquor. (At least not on Sunday.)”
Shabazz concluded, “I want a front row seat at the trial that we all know is going to happen when all this goes down.”

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suck My Kiss

Papa Roach - Last Resort

Metallica - One

Marilyn Manson - Disposable Teens

Nine Inch Nails - Closer (Director's Cut)

Indiana Defines Stupidity as Religion

INDIANAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—In a history-making decision, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes stupidity as a religion.
Pence said that he hoped the law would protect millions of state residents “who, like me, have been practicing this religion passionately for years.”
The bill would grant politicians like Pence the right to observe their faith freely, even if their practice of stupidity costs the state billions of dollars.
While Pence’s action drew the praise of stupid people across America, former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was not among them. “Even I wasn’t dumb enough to sign a bill like that,” she said.

Friday, March 27, 2015

GOP Rep: Cruz Supporters Won't Stop Pestering Me With 'Vulgar' Phone Calls

RAW STORY


"The puerile language used is what most kids outgrow and move beyond when they reach sophomore year in high school," King wrote in a post on his Facebook page Friday morning. "Clearly, these Cruz supporters suffer from severe cases of arrested development."
King said it was "particularly shameful" that women and interns in his office had been subjected to the callers' "perverse rantings."
He said that Cruz was not responsible for all of his supporters' actions, but added: "Frankly, I can not imagine supporters of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, or other candidates reacting so disgracefully."
A spokesman for Cruz declined to comment to the Washington Post.
On Monday, King said that Cruz was more like a "carnival barker" than the leader of the free world...................

Thursday, March 26, 2015

GOP Rep claims Obamacare costing $5 million per enrollee. Turns out he's off by about $5 million



GOP Rep claims Obamacare costing $5 million per enrollee. Turns out he's off by about $5 million

LYNYRD SKYNYRD - SWAMP MUSIC

Lynyrd Skynyrd-The Needle And The Spoon

The Outlaws - Ghost Riders in the Sky

Pat Travers - Black Betty

ROBIN TROWER-TOO ROLLING STONED

DAVID BOWIE - THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD

J GEILS BAND - MONKEY ISLAND

J Geils Band - Serves You Right To Suffer

J. Geils Band - Detroit Breakdown

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu 'Regrets' Offending Israel's Arabs With 'Racist' Comment

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he regretted offending Israel’s Arabs during a rallying call on election day last week that his critics had denounced as racist.
In a video clip posted on his Facebook page, Netanyahu told representatives of Israel’s Arab community: “I know that the things I said a few days ago offended Israel’s Arabs. I had no intention for this to happen, I regret this.”
Fearing his voters would stay home, Netanyahu, who won a surprise election victory last Tuesday and is set to head a new government, accused left-wing organizations of bussing Arab-Israelis to the polls “in droves” to vote against him.
“The rule of the right is in danger,” he said at the time.
Speaking to the group of Israeli Arabs at his official residence in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu said: “I consider myself as prime minister of each one of you, of all Israel’s citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender.”
While he got a warm reception from those present, his comments were rejected by Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, which secured 13 seats at last week’s election to become the third largest force in parliament.
“We do not accept this apology. It was to a group of elders and not to the elected leadership of Israel’s Arabs … I want to see actions, how is he going to manifest this apology? … will he advance equality?” Odeh told Israel’s Channel 10.
Israeli Arabs make up around 20 percent of the country’s eight-million-strong population.
They are descendants of residents who stayed put during the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, in which hundreds of thousands of fellow Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes, ending up in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

All the Wars and Coups of President Ted Cruz

Written by Juan Cole

 Texas Senator Ted Cruz, one of three Cuban-Americans in the Senate, is throwing his hat into the ring for the 2016 presidential race today. Cruz has made a career out of slamming President Obama for being weak and presiding over the collapse of countries like Yemen (as though Cruz could have done anything about that if he had been president. 
I figure if you total them all up, Cruz has called for six or seven strong US interventions abroad, whether in the form of invasions, air strikes, or covert coups d’etat. It is hard to tell exactly, since he doesn’t typically demonstrate any detailed knowledge of the situation and just wants to take a “strong posture” rather than detailing any practical steps. 
Ted Cruz appears to insist that Iran entirely cease its civilian nuclear enrichment program, which Cruz believes to be aimed at creating a warhead. “ Iran must stop or we will stop them,” he says. Cruz attempted to derail President Obama’s negotiations with Iran aimed at ensuring that the program remains purely civilian. The alternative to those negotiations is ultimately a war. The only plausible way to make Iran cease producing enriched uranium as fuel for its nuclear reactors is to invade it and overthrow its government a la Iraq. So, war then. 
Not satisfied with taking steps against Iran that would likely lead to hostilities, Cruz warns that Iran will not only get a nuclear bomb but will give it to Venezuela. He hints around that President Nicolas Maduro should be overthrown before that can happen. Venezuela has a strong class divide, with Maduro supporting the working classes and his opponents aiming at returning power to the country’s wealthy elite. Cruz is with the latter. 
Cruz’s response to the rise of Daesh (ISIL, ISIS) in Iraq is to “bomb them back to the stone age” and to annihilate them within a couple of months. Gen. Dempsey told him that was not possible (you can’t defeat a guerrilla movement from the air, and intensive bombing of Daesh territory would just kill thousands of civilians in cities like Mosul). Cruz issued a press release saying Dempsey doesn’t know what he is talking about. His first priority in fighting ISIL, he said, was to close the border with Mexico to prevent infiltration. Bombing Iraq intensely probably counts as fighting a war. 

Cruz wants to fight a proxy war with the Russian Federation by arming Ukrainian fighters.
Cruz wants to wage an economic war on the Palestinians, seeking to halt all US aid to the Palestine Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. 
In a way the most dangerous Ted Cruz war of all is on the earth’s environment, since he favors increasing the carbon dioxide being put into the atmosphere by humans burning fossil fuels and is a global warming denialist. Given that humanity has only a couple of decades to make the changes necessary to keep warming in the 3.5 degrees F. range (already pretty bad), a Cruz presidency would probably be enough in and of itself to drive us to a five degree increase.

(Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. This column was posted first at JuanCole.com)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Twitter preps for Ted Cruz presidential announcement with hilarious #TedCruzCampaignSlogans

RAW STORY


Following an announcement on Twitter, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) is expected to deliver some news “around midnight” tonight, and all eyes are turned towards Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. where the divisive, but self-assured, lawmaker is to announce his entry into the 2016 GOP presidential field.
The New York Times is reporting Cruz decided to jump into the field now before potential opponents –  Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul — make their announcements.
According to Republican strategist Dave Carney, “There’s an advantage to being first. He’s now the only one running for president, instead of engaging in this Kabuki dance that the others are.”
Under the hashtag #TedCruzCampaignSlogans, Twitter was abuzz with suggested campaign  slogans, and artwork, calling attention to everything from famous Cruz quotes to references to his birthplace in Canada...................

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Clinton won’t be taken down by the clown car

by Stanley Crouch, Aspen Daily News Columnist

 It is beginning to seem as though the rush beyond judgment is tilting against a Hillary Clinton presidential choice; “too much baggage” is usually the explanation.
Part of what is still to be done is removing factoids from influential power, what Hillary Clinton once correctly called “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” That’s more than a mouthful.

I once observed: “When she testified last week for seven hours before the congressional committee and was not swayed by the nipping of rubber teeth attempting to wound, I thought of seeing her in person at an unannounced appearance following Nelson Mandela 10 years or so ago.

“The audience did not know she was there until Clinton turned the microphone into a flamethrower. Suddenly, the little woman who could not be recognized from a distance sent forward a voice that all had heard but not that way. She spoke about getting up off the canvas, because a real champion knows what it takes. No matter how often or how much one has been hurt, an unfair opponent will be sent back to the opposite corner with a pocket full of defeat.

“Sometimes, when a bear is being pursued and decides to stand up and fight it out with those hunters, the bear will be slightly distracted by some little dogs biting at its paw. The dogs will be hurled into a tree if unlucky, and perhaps killed.

“Those who refer to Bill Clinton as ‘the big dog’ now know Hillary Clinton is a twin not to be messed with; she has earned her spurs in every way possible, and knows how to use them.”

That may have been true when she spoke about what had happened in Benghazi on the night the Republicans have turned into a factoid scandal; repeating supposed “fact” about incompetence at the top. The bullhorn of exaggeration, lodged in the national throat, needs to be spat out.

No matter the plundering of the environment, recurring disasters transporting the muck of dirty oil, the disruption of trust for our banks that began with the Great Recession, and the distracting entertainment of racial protests, the supposed redneck vision stays in place, shifting as much as possible to maintain controlling power.

I see embarrassing examples of intellectual failure on the parts of the Republican elected lawmakers, who seem to be sure that Americans can be manipulated by the claims of dangerous people in the federal government, from the very top to the very bottom. These claims of reruns being in place come from elected men like Ted Cruz of Texas, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Rick Perry of Texas. Cruz is a bad photocopy of Sen. Joe McCarthy, even though McCarthy was elected in Wisconsin; Gohmert is a blustering man possessed of the gall to talk down Attorney General Eric Holder; Perry always seems somewhat soft in the head, regardless of how long he was seated in the governor’s chair of the Lone Star State.

This is happening while American cities are facing or assenting to female leadership, which is a very serious answer to the failures of low-level thinkers among the GOP women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, longtime drivers of what Chris Matthews calls “the clown car.”

Hillary Clinton will not be run down by the clown car while crossing the street.

It may or may not be her time. If it is, she and the country will benefit, perhaps on the level of what Angela Merkel has brought to Germany, raising a nation through the brutal memories of 20th-century history very effectively. If it is not her time, everything seems to be coming to a point in which the pimple of bigotry and its Siamese twin greed and corruption will pop because Republicans followed what Richard Nixon called the “Southern strategy.”

Pimples break but do not maintain the unpleasant look and feeling. This is almost guaranteed by the presence of brilliant politicians and powerhouse executives like Loretta Lynch, Claire McCaskill and Elizabeth Warren, who symbolically match the Michael Brown family with heat, determination and superbly responsible thinking. Even Big Oil is about to stub its toe in New Jersey because of Gov. Chris Christie, having become too slick to hide like a hog in a blanket. Squeals are on the way.

Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at crouch.stanley@gmail.com

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Results Of The GOP's 3-Year-Long Minority Outreach Effort Are Finally Here!



Fallout From the GOP's Lack of Diversity

Ex-Staffer Slams James O'Keefe: He Crossed A Line With Vile 'Kill Cops' Stunt

TPM


Richard Valdes, the former director of special operations for O'Keefe's organization Project Veritas, told TPM on Thursday that the guerrilla filmmaker wanted an undercover operative to infiltrate a rally held by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in mid-January. At the time, Black Lives Matter demonstrators were still taking to the streets of New York City to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Valdes said O'Keefe dictated a script to him and then told him to email it to the operative for use at the rally. Here's the full text of that script, according to emails provided to TPM by Valdes' attorney:
As a minority and a Muslim, I know what it's like when the police treat me unfairly. They have even searched my little daughter's body. Can you believe that? Do you know what it's like to have your rights violated because of the color of your skin or because of your name? -PAUSE- Sometimes, I wish I could just kill some of these cops. Don't you just wish we could have one of the cops right here in the middle of our group? -PAUSE-
What would you do if we could get Officer Pantoleo (who killed Eric Garner) right here in this crowd? What would you do to him?
In a Jan. 9 email addressed to Valdes, O'Keefe, and other top Project Veritas employees, the undercover operative, Mohammed Alhomsi, apparently declined to carry out the assignment. The email cited both legal concerns and concerns about the language of the script in turning down the project. That email was among those provided to TPM by Valdes's attorney.
"I will not be able to say anything that's not the truth to the best of my knowledge. Especially when it comes to the way I was treated as a Muslim in the United States," Alhomsi wrote, according to a copy of the email. "And I will not say words that will jeopardize my entity, especially when they involve an illegal act of murdering police."
Valdes then reminded Alhomsi that the assignment wasn't different from previous projects where the operative had put on a ruse. But he didn't press the issue further, writing that "we respect your position and don't want you to be uncomfortable."
"It struck a nerve with me as well," Valdes told TPM. "I have two brothers that are retired NYPD. Myself, I served as a volunteer police officer in Essex County, N.J. I understood it, and I was told, ‘Just make it happen.’ I refused."
For that, Valdes said, he was called into O'Keefe's office a half hour later and fired from the organization. As the New York Post first reported, Valdes is now planning to sue Project Veritas and O'Keefe for wrongful termination.
“The best that I can do is deduce from the facts of what happened that this is just retaliation towards me for not toeing the James O’Keefe line,” Valdes told TPM.
It wouldn’t be the first time a former Project Veritas employee has taken legal action against O’Keefe. The organization’s former executive director, Dan Francisco, sued Project Veritas and O’Keefe in January 2014 for wrongful termination and defamation, respectively.
In his suit, Francisco alleged that Project Veritas failed to pay him for his final week of employment. Valdes told TPM that he wasn’t paid for his last week of work at Project Veritas, either.
TPM reached out to O’Keefe on Thursday for comment on Valdes’ version of events and on the supposed language in the undercover operative’s script. O’Keefe passed the inquiry on to a spokesman.
“We can confirm that Rich Valdes is a former employee but beyond that we do not publicly discuss employment related matters,” spokesman Daniel Pollock wrote to TPM on Thursday in an email. “As to the alleged emails, we do not comment on past, present or future real, or imagined, investigations.”
That statement differed from what Pollock told the New York Post.
“Project Veritas would never do anything that we believe would incite violence against police officers. Anyone suggesting otherwise is clearly unfamiliar with our body of work,” Pollock told the newspaper.
Valdes said he believed that O'Keefe's feathers may have been ruffled when Alhomsi wrote that that he wanted a written record of his and the Project Veritas employees' conversations on the assignment.
"I think it made James pretty nervous," he told TPM.
Alhomsi did not respond to a request for comment from TPM.
Prior to joining Project Veritas in early 2014, Valdes worked in community outreach and marketing for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) administration and as a political writer for The Washington Times, according to his LinkedIn page.
Valdes told TPM that he thought O'Keefe's work had been getting more news-oriented in his time with the organization, but he suggested the planned stunt with the protesters crossed a line.
"[Alhomsi] felt that what we were asking him to do was manipulating poor people -- and on the phone, he emphasized poor black people -- into saying something that would benefit James’ bottom line," he told TPM. "That opened my eyes."
"This story was more on the controversial side," he later added. "Had it come out the way it was planned at that time, I think it would’ve been torn to shreds in the media and made the organization look less than credible."

When It Comes To Energy, Indoor Marijuana Isn’t Green

TPM


The president is correct. Not just young folks, but all of us, should be thinking about climate change and disruption. Through our continued apathy, the atmosphere now contains unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, resulting in increases in atmospheric and oceanic temperature, more intense storms, melting ice caps, acidifying oceans and rising sea levels, which threatens our very existence.
But what if we think about the climate and marijuana at the same time?
By some estimates, indoor marijuana cultivation is accountable for producing some 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually—the equivalent to the amount of emissions produced by three million American cars. Put another way, one single kilogram of processed marijuana is responsible for the same amount of emissions as driving a 44 mpg car across the country five times. How can this be? It’s due in most part to the significant amount of electricity required to grow marijuana indoors.
With $6 billion in annual energy costs, the indoor marijuana industry is one of the most, if not the most, energy-intensive industry in the United States. It requires a large amount of electricity to power high-intensity heat lamps, to regulate temperature and humidity levels, and for ventilation, among other things. This energy consumption, which is expected to grow as the industry grows, results in significant greenhouse gas emissions.
Under clandestine operations, indoor cultivators use inefficient and carbon dioxide-spewing on-site diesel and gasoline generators to meet their electricity needs. As states legalize indoor marijuana cultivation, producers will connect to the grid, thereby eliminating the need to use on-site generators. Unfortunately, connecting to the grid will do little to alleviate marijuana’s impacts on the climate given that at least two-thirds of the electricity transported on the grid is generated by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Legalization will, however, provide policymakers with an opportunity to assess the industry’s energy usage and evaluate its climate risks.
One way to ensure that the industry does not further contribute to an already dire situation is to require indoor marijuana cultivators to utilize only carbon-free electricity as a condition of licensing. Before you dismiss that as crazy talk, Boulder City and Boulder County in Colorado have done just that. To obtain and maintain, a license in Boulder, an indoor cultivator must obtain its energy from a renewable source. Cultivators can utilize on-site renewable generation, such as rooftop solar panels; subscribe to the Community Solar Garden; or find some other approved equivalent source.
Opponents may argue that this type of requirement is too expensive for cultivators and that it will encourage illicit operations. No doubt public policymakers need to be careful in their restrictions so as to not cause unintended results. However, requiring indoor cultivators to use only climate-friendly electricity is unlikely to have this negative effect. First, gasoline and diesel generators are inefficient and expensive to run. It is unlikely that these on-site generators would be more cost effective than utilizing renewable energy.
Second, if the lifting of Prohibition is any indicator, it’s unlikely that the increased requirement would result in continued or increased clandestine operations. After Prohibition, the alcohol industry became a highly regulated as well as a highly lucrative industry with few illegal operations. Likewise, legitimate marijuana cultivators stand to make significant profits by maintaining their licenses.
I don’t mean to unfairly single out the billion-dollar marijuana industry for bearing this extra burden while other industries get off scot-free. The indoor marijuana industry just provides a good example of the need for a climate risk assessment prior to licensing, and an opportunity for public policymakers to make a difference when starting from a clean slate. The marijuana industry is already on its way to becoming a highly-regulated industry. It already requires stakeholders to jump through many hoops on the way to licensing. I simply encourage policymakers to consider one higher priority: the use of climate-friendly electricity.
Gina S. Warren is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University School of Law. This Op-ed is based on her article entitled, “Regulating Pot to Save the Polar Bear: Energy and Climate Impacts of the Marijuana Industry,” which will appear in Volume 40 of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (2015).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tenn. GOPer slams Volkswagen: Creating 200,000 jobs is ‘intentionally’ a ‘magnet for unionized labor’

RAW STORY


Tennessee Republican state Sen. Bo Watson warned on Tuesday that a plan to bring 200,000 jobs to his state was a “magnet for unionized labor, intentionally.”
According to Chattanooga Times Free Press, Watson told the state Senate Commerce Committee that approving $165.8 million in tax incentives for Volkswagen was dangerous because unions could change the “culture” of Tennessee.
“I hope the committee will take some time to fully vet this incentive offer,” Watson advised. “At the end of the day, we can have no buyer’s remorse.”
“The incentive, no doubt, will create about 200,000 jobs directly, and countless more indirectly,” he admitted. “It will give southeast Tennessee a big foothold in the automotive industry, particularly in research and development. And it will allow the development of a new line of Volkswagen vehicles, particularly the SUV.”
But Watson asserted that the threat of organized labor unions might not be worth the benefits that Volkswagen would bring to the state.
“VW is a magnet for organized labor, intentionally,” he opined. “I believe this committee should know and understand what Volkswagen’s position is on this issue, both here and in Germany.”
The Chattanooga Republican turned to several Volkswagen officials and demanded that they explain why the vice chairman of VW’s European and Global Group Works Council had pledged to spread the United Auto Workers “far beyond Tennessee.”
David Geanacopoulos, the CEO of Volkswagen Group of America’s Chattanooga operations, explained to Watson that VW Works Council was an elected organization that was mandated by German law and that it was independent from company management.
“We believe it is a question for our employees to decide,” Geanacopoulos said. “We have actually established a new policy in the company that allows us to have conversations with any labor organization that has support from our workforce. Not about collective bargaining. It’s not about union representation.”
Watson agreed that Volkswagen had been “nothing more than transformational” for the Chattanooga area.
“There is no doubt about that. Our city, our county, the surrounding counties have been incredibly impacted,” the lawmaker noted. “Mostly for the positive, but that transformation can also involve other aspects of our communities and our culture.”
In the end, Watson declined to support the tax incentives and abstained from voting. The remaining members of the committee approved the measure by a vote of 8-0.......................

White Supremacist Missouri man charged with threatening to shoot President Obama



(Reuters) - A Missouri man was charged on Tuesday with threatening several times to shoot U.S. President Barack Obama in meetings with an informant and an undercover officer who posed as a member of a white supremacist group, prosecutors said.
Cameron James Stout, 24, of Stover was arrested on Tuesday and remains in custody after an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri's capital, prosecutors said.
An informant told a Morgan County sheriff's deputy that Stout had asked him on Thursday for a high-powered rifle and assistance in a plan to shoot the president in the next few weeks, an affidavit attached to the criminal complaint said.
Over the next few days, the informant, a former member of the Aryan Nation, met with Stout and agreed to put him in touch with a high-ranking member of the organization who could help him obtain a rifle and plan the attack, the affidavit said.
Stout drew diagrams of the Washington, D.C. area and talked about possible positions from which he could fire at the White House or a church the president attends, the affidavit said.
The Missouri man also told the informant he had loaned out a .270-caliber rifle with a scope, but had gotten it back and planned to use it in the crime, the affidavit said.
On Tuesday, Stout told the informant and an undercover officer who was posing as an Aryan Nation superior that he planned to shoot Obama the next time the president appeared in Kansas City, the affidavit said.
A U.S. magistrate judge ordered Stout held in a brief appearance on Tuesday. A detention hearing is set for Thursday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Conservative activist James O’Keefe accused of trying to goad protesters to ‘kill some cops’

RAW STORY


A former employee says conservative activist James O’Keefe tried to instigate anti-police sentiment among protesters through the use of a mole, the New York Post reported.
The former director of operations for Project Veritas, Richard Valdes, said O’Keefe planned to send an unidentified Muslim man working for him to infiltrate a group of demonstrators in January. Neither the protest he was supposed to join nor the location have been identified.
The man was also allegedly given a script to recite at meetings, in which he would say, “Sometimes, I wish I could just kill some of these cops. Don’t you just wish we could have one of the cops right here in the middle of our group?”
However, the man reportedly emailed both Valdes and O’Keefe that month and refused the assignment.
“I will not say words that will jeopardize my entity, especially when they involve an illegal act of ‘murdering police,’” he wrote.
Valdes told the Post that O’Keefe subsequently fired him for “being unwilling to strong-arm the guy to do his dirty work.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Valdes worked for Veritas for one year, calling it “an educational non-profit dedicated to informing the public by producing investigative video-journalism and public affairs programming focused on political corruption, hypocrisy, government waste and fraud.”
“I oversee certain special projects ranging from supervising field operations and recruiting staff, to contributing to media releases, research, and producing original video content,” he stated regarding his duties.
However, Valdes has since threatened to file a wrongful termination suit against Veritas. A spokesperson for the organization, Dan Pollack, denied his allegation.
“Project Veritas would never do anything that we believe would incite violence against police officers. Anyone suggesting otherwise is clearly unfamiliar with our body of work,” Pollak told the Post.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Israeli war widow who is the reluctant overnight star of Israel's general election

By Robert Tait, Tel Aviv


Her impassioned denunciation of war stole the show at a mass rally calling for Benjamin Netanyahu’s ousting.
Now Michal Kastan-Keidar – a war widow who became a reluctant overnight star of Israel’s general election campaign – has revealed how she personally pleaded with the Israeli prime minister to ensure Israel would not fight any future wars with the Palestinians.
But Mr Netanyahu – while sympathetic – failed to understand, said Mrs Kastan-Keidar, 38, who was catapulted into the public eye when she addressed tens of thousands of people in Tel Aviv’s symbolic Rabin Square last Saturday, urging them to use next Tuesday’s election to elect the candidate most likely to prevent war.
“I came here to request of you, when you go to cast your ballots, to vote for who will prevent the next war,” she told the crowd, after revealing her grief over the death of her husband in last summer’s bloody war in Gaza.
Last week’s rally gave added impetus to an apparent popular groundswell against Mr Netanyahu and his ruling Right-wing Likud party, further reflected in successive recent opinion polls.
The two final surveys published on Friday before next week’s ballot showed the prime minister staring at defeat. One poll commissioned by the mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed the Left-wing Zionist Union set to win 26 seats in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament), compared to 22 for Likud.
A separate poll in Ma’ariv newspaper showed a similar margin – with the Zionist Union, fronted by Isaac Herzog, the Labour leader, on 25 seats and Likud on 21.
While Mrs Kastan-Keidar’s contribution to the trend is unclear, her intervention in Saturday’s rally overshadowed the main speaker, Meir Dagan, a former Mossad director, who attacked Mr Netanyahu’s unremitting emphasis on the threat from Iran, the Israeli leader’s main campaign issue, which has failed to resonate with ordinary voters.
Mrs Kastan-Keidar’s husband, Dolev, a lieutenant-colonel in the Israeli army, was killed in a fire fight after intercepting Hamas militants who infiltrated into Israel from Gaza last July, just days after persuading commanding officers to let him leave a training exercise to join the fighting.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mrs Kastan-Keidar, a documentary film-maker and mother-of-three, described an awkward and emotional conversation with Mr Netanyahu when he telephoned her to offer condolences. 

“I spoke about the need for peace,” she said. “I spoke like a little girl. I said, Bibi [Mr Netanyahu’s childhood nickname], can I ask you for something? Can you make sure there will be no more wars?
“I could hear the grief and responsibility in his voice. He did want a ceasefire with Hamas. He was reluctant to send in ground forces.
“I’m not cynical. I don’t believe a leader doesn’t care about the lives of his people and just sends them out to die. But he does nothing to prevent it. I do think he feels responsible. He just doesn’t understand.”
Mrs Kastan-Keidar, who writes a regular blog for Walla, an Israeli magazine, on coping with her bereavement, said she requested speaking time at last week’s rally because of her belief in the urgent need for a peace deal with the Palestinians. 

Speaking to a nationally televised audience, she lamented an election campaign that had virtually ignored last summer’s war – which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side – and the decades-long conflict between the two sides.
“The conflict with the Palestinians has taken too many lives and the only way to stop it is to reach a peace agreement,” said Mrs Kastan-Keidar, a diminutive figure who wears her own and her husband’s wedding rings attached to a gold necklace.
Her message seemed to gain added resonance for being delivered in the same square where Yitzhak Rabin, the former prime minister who signed the now-moribund Oslo peace accords, was assassinated by a Right-wing Israeli in 1995.
Yet it failed win over Mr Netanyahu himself, who last weekend backtracked on his own previous commitment to accepting a Palestinian state – made in a speech to Tek Aviv’s Bar Ilan University in 2009. The speech was “no longer relevant” because of the danger of such a state falling into radical Islamist groups’ hands, he told journalists.
Mrs Kastan-Keidar also came under attack from a Right-wing journalist, Hagai Huberman, who accused her in a widely-read article of “killing her husband and crying that she is now a widow”. 

Huberman later said his words were not meant literally but referred to her belief in the peace process, which he said led to more Israelis being killed.
But peace with the Palestinians has been raised in the campaign’s final days. Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister and joint leader of the Zionist Union with Mr Herzog, told a rally in Beersheba this week that she would revive peace talks.
“I hope to go back to a direct dialogue with the Palestinians, so we can have direct talks and the support of the Arab countries that support us,” said Mrs Livni. “We need to get an agreement that it’s not only a piece of paper but a change in the order in the region.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

California only has one year’s worth of its water supply left, NASA scientist warns

RAW STORY


Plagued by prolonged drought, California now has only enough water to get it through the next year, according to NASA.
In an op-ed published Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, painted a dire picture of the state's water crisis. California, he writes, has lost around 12 million acre-feet of stored water every year since 2011. In the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins, the combined water sources of snow, rivers, reservoirs, soil water and groundwater amounted to a volume that was 34 million acre-feet below normal levels in 2014. And there is no relief in sight.
"As our 'wet' season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows" Famiglietti writes. "We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too."
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that one-third of the monitoring stations in California’s Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountains have recorded the lowest snowpack ever measured.
"Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” Famiglietti writes.
He criticized Californian officials for their lack of long-term planning for how to cope with this drought, and future droughts, beyond "staying in emergency mode and praying for rain."
Last month, new research by scientists at NASA, Cornell University and Columbia University pointed to a "remarkably drier future" for California and other Western states amid a rapidly-changing climate. "Megadroughts," the study's authors wrote, are likely to begin between 2050 and 2099, and could each last between 10 years and several decades.
With that future in mind, Famiglietti says, "immediate mandatory water rationing" should be implemented in the state, accompanied by the swift formation of regulatory agencies to rigorously monitor groundwater and ensure that it is being used in a sustainable way—as opposed to the "excessive and unsustainable" groundwater extraction for agriculture that, he says, is partly responsible for massive groundwater losses that are causing land in the highly irrigated Central Valley to sink by one foot or more every year.
Various local ordinances have curtailed excessive water use for activities like filling fountains and irrigating lawns. But planning for California's "harrowing future" of more and longer droughts "will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon," Famiglietti writes. "Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin."

Benghazi Chairman Demands Probe Into Hillary Emails, Fails To Explain His Own



Trey Gowdy’s Hillary hypocrisy: He’s the last person who should be demanding Clinton’s private email

Pope Francis Attacks The Corrupting Influence Of Money In Elections

THINK PROGRESS


His Holiness Pope Francis called upon candidates in his home nation of Argentina to hold a “free, unfinanced campaign” during a question and answer session with low-income youth from Buenos Aires. The Pope also warned that campaign donations lead elected officials to act against the interests of the people. “In the financing of electoral campaigns, many interests get into the mix,” according to Francis, “and then they send you the bill.”
The Pope’s comments place him at odds with five other very prominent Catholics — the five justices who joined the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. That opinion did not simply deny that huge influxes of money can corrupt elected officials, at least when that money goes to allegedly independent groups such as super PACs; it even suggested that the use of money to obtain greater access to politicians is an objective moral good:
Favoritism and influence are not . . . avoidable in representative politics. It is in the nature of an elected representative to favor certain policies, and, by necessary corollary, to favor the voters and contributors who support those policies. It is well understood that a substantial and legitimate reason, if not the only reason, to cast a vote for, or to make a contribution to, one candidate over another is that the candidate will respond by producing those political outcomes the supporter favors. Democracy is premised on responsiveness.
The Pope also suggested that he would support a public financing system, noting that such a method of funding elections “would allow for me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money.” The same five conservative justices who decided Citizens United, however, have also made public financing virtually impossible to implement successfully in the United States.
In Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, the Court struck down a public financing system which provides extra funds to publicly financed candidates who become the target of large amounts of campaign spending. Without such a mechanism, which allows publicly financed candidates to defend against unexpected and well-financed attacks from super PACs and the like, candidates will be extraordinarily reluctant to participate in public finance systems, which typically forbid candidates who participate in them from spending money that they raise outside of the system.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Arkansas Republican gave adopted girls to rapist because they were ‘possessed by demons’: report

RAW STORY


The story of Arkansas state Rep. Justin Harris (R) — whose family adopted a pair of girls then “re-homed” them to another household where one of the girls was raped — has taken a bizarre turn with allegations that the Harris family gave the girls up because they believed the children could communicate telepathically and were possessed by demons.
The Arkansas Times reported on Wednesday that sources close to the family dispute many of the assertions Harris and his wife Marsha made last Friday at a press conference at the Arkansas state capitol.
The Harrises said they were never made aware that the girls were violent or that they posed a risk to a household with other children. Rep. Harris claimed that the family received no aid from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and that when they attempted to make the agency aware of issues with the girls, they threatened to charge him with child abandonment.
A bevy of witnesses — including, the Times said, “two foster families who cared for the girls prior to the Harris adoption, the girls’ biological mother, a former DHS employee familiar with the proceedings and a former babysitter at the Harrises’ West Fork home” — dispute virtually every word of the Harrises’ account of the adoption and subsequent “re-homing” and rape.
Babysitter Chelsey Goldsborough told the Times that when she cared for the children in the home, she was alarmed at how the family treated the girls, who initially arrived in the home with an older sister. The Times, for the sake of clarity, gave the girls false names.
The eldest, Jeannette, was 6 years old when the girls arrived in the Harris home in the fall of 2012. The middle sister Mary was 4 and Annie, the youngest, about 2 years old.
Jeannette was the first of the girls to be cast out of the Harris home. Rep. Harris says that she posed a threat to the three biological sons the Harrises already had. The oldest girl was sent for treatment at a state hospital while Mary and Annie remained with the family.
Goldsborough told the Times that Mary was mostly confined to her room and monitored by video camera. Marsha Harris told the babysitter that the girls were demonically possessed and that they had to be kept separate because they could communicate telepathically. One of the girls crushed the family’s guinea pig to death, Marsha Harris claimed, and the family were so frightened of the children that they summoned an exorcist from Alabama to perform a casting-out of the girls’ demons.
“The first night I was over there, I just broke down and cried with this little girl because I just felt so bad for her,” said Goldsborough. The Harrises used an elaborate system of locks, video cameras and alarms to separate the girls because they believed they would kill their entire family.
Another source close to the family corroborated this account to the Times, saying that Marsha Harris regularly spoke of the demons she believed were living inside the adopted girls.
“They consider it to be spiritual warfare,” the anonymous source said. “I’m a Christian, and I have these beliefs, but this was completely beyond anything I’ve ever seen or heard about.”
The family locked Mary away without any books, toys or colorful clothes, Goldsborough said, “because a demon told [Mary] not to share…Demons told her to not appreciate [her toys] and all that, so they took away all the toys and her colored clothes.”
The Harrises’ attorney Jennifer Wells insisted there is no truth to the allegations against her clients. “Exorcisms and telepathy are not part of the Harrises’ religious practice,” Wells said. “They followed the techniques in a book called When Love Is Not Enough, a Parent’s Guide to Reactive Attachment Disorder by Nancy Thomas, who is a recognized expert on therapeutic parenting techniques.”
Other foster families who worked with the girls say that the middle girl was never violent and that the Harrises were warned multiple times that their family would not be a good fit for children from such a traumatic background, which included neglect, violent abuse and sexual molestation.
However, the Harrises relied on their friend Cecile Blucker — a DHS official — to push the adoption through in spite of the warnings and serious misgivings on the part of state officials.
The family’s response to the upset the children brought into their home, however, was not to go back to DHS and attempt to get assistance, but instead to rely on their Christian faith until things in the home finally got so bad that they moved the girls into the home of Eric and Stacey Francis. It was there that Mary was raped by Eric, a serial predator who had molested other children and who is now serving a 40-year prison sentence.