Category Archives: Hypocrisy

Claim: White House censors press pool reports


The latest attempt by the The Most Transparent Administration in History™ to impose “message discipline,” via RT America:

Freedom of the Press: White House censors press-pool articles

Program notes:

Prominent reporters are accusing President Barack Obama’s administration of censoring articles coming from the White House press-pool. Following the president on his travels and then writing articles which are distributed to news organizations nationwide, press-pool journalists first clear their reporting with administration officials. Substantial changes are sometimes demanded by aides, the writers claim, and now the White House Correspondents Association is considering changes to stop the interference, as RT’s Ameera David reports.

We are not surprised at these latest revelations. Unlike so many, we had no particular expectations of Obama, other than that he would behave as a product of the authoritarian Chicago Democratic machine. We have seen nothing since to disabuse us of our original perception.

What does astound us is the rather placid behavior of mainstream media reporters, but then, we suppose, they are so overworked and focused on retain their jobs in the inevitably next round of journalism layoffs that thoughts of making noisy objections are easily stifled for fear of attracting the attention of the corporateers and investment banksters buying up what’s left of the country’s once flourishing press.

John Oliver: Guilty of investigative journalism


Really.

A realization suddenly dawned as we watched this latest and much-viewed clip from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver about the Miss America pageant: John Oliver and his crew were doing something truly subversive. They were committing an act of actual investigative journalism.

Not only that: The episode captures in a fairly accurate manner the thought process giving rise to a completed print/video/audio investigative report.

So close to to the actual process is the episode that it captures the very thought processes of the journalist. John Oliver’s remarks are precisely similar those we’ve heard and made during the course of a writing newspaper stories, magazine articles, and books investigating various phenomena we consider it important for folks to know about.

What clinched our surmise was that hefty stack of IRS 990 forms Oliver plunked down at his desk, an act we’ve done many times before [for example], with precisely the admixture of humorous triumph and exasperation.

Indeed, the clip’s so good that a wise journalism professor would show it at the very first lecture in a course on the art of investigative reporting.

So our hat’s off to you, John Oliver, and welcome to the ranks of the Fourth Estate.

Form Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Miss America Pageant

Program notes:

The Miss America Pageant…how is this still a thing?
They claim to give more scholarships to women than any other organization, and, unfortunately, they’re right.
To illustrate these problems, John Oliver stages his own pageant with the help of Kathy Griffin.

Here are the links to the women’s scholarship funds that John mentioned on air:

Society of Women Engineers: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/

Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: www.rankinfoundation.org

Patsy Mink Foundation: www.patsyminkfoundation.org

DiFi: On senatorial rich list, #9 with a bullet


The screen cap from Roll Call’s annual wealth tally is notable for two reasons: First, for noting that her personal wealth is likely dwarfed compared to that of her spouse, fellow plutocratic and University of California Regent Richard Blum [previously], and, second, because it neglects to mention that said spouse is getting even richer because his real estate company is selling off the country’s “surplus” post offices, many of them adorned with invaluable art from the New Deal era.

Click on the image to enlarge:

BLOG DiFi

And that UC Board of Regents is the same outfit that just voted hefty raises for campus brass at the same time UC Berkeley contemplates a $10,000+ annual tuition increase for journalism school students, advanced degree holders set to enter a craft where annual salaries average under $36,000. . .

EconoWatch: Whales, climate, fires, nukes


A relatively small collection today, starting with another sort of environmental woe from Newswise:

Living in a Disadvantaged Neighborhood Worsens Musculoskeletal Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure

Individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhoods have worse musculoskeletal pain outcomes over time after stressful events such as motor vehicle collision than individuals from higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods, even after accounting for individual characteristics such as age, sex, income, education, and employment status.

These were the findings of a multi-site research study led by Samuel McLean, MD, MPH, associate professor of anesthesiology and emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The results of the study were published online by the journal Pain.

“We all like to believe that we are immune to the circumstances of our environment,” said Dr. McLean. “These results suggest that when it comes to chronic musculoskeletal pain development after traumatic/stressful events, th

The Asahi Shimbun covers Japanese chutzpah:

Whale meat now on the menu at LDP’s headquarters

Ruling party advocates of whaling tucked into whale meat curry at a restaurant inside the party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Sept. 19 to thumb their noses at the International Whaling Commission.

The IWC on Sept. 18 adopted a resolution calling on Japan to postpone its resumption of “research” whaling in the Antarctic Ocean to 2016 or later.

The restaurant added whale curry to the menu at the request of Toshihiro Nikai, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council. He is from Wakayama Prefecture, the cradle of Japan’s whaling industry.

From the Guardian, all hat, no cattle:

US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

  • Rich countries pledged to find $100bn a year by 2020, but so far only Germany has made a significant contribution

Barack Obama will not be pledging any cash to a near-empty fund for poor countries at a United Nations summit on climate change next week, the UN special climate change envoy said on Friday.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has challenged the 125 world leaders attending the 23 September summit to make “bold pledges” to the fund, intended to help poor countries cope with climate change.

The UN has been pressing rich countries to come up with pledges of between $10bn and $15bn.

Agence France-Presse covers climate action in India:

Climate change rally held in India ahead of UN summit

Program notes:

Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming.

From the Los Angeles Times, Golden State aflame:

King fire burns more than 80,000 acres in Northern California

The massive King fire in Northern California has now burned more than 80,000 acres, according to CalFire.

The fire, in the forest east of Sacramento, has forced the evacuation of more than 2,800 people since it ignited last Saturday. It is now 10% contained.

More than 7,600 firefighters continue to battle nine major wildfires in California, most of them in the northern part of the state. But officials consider the King fire the most dangerous after it doubled in size overnight Wednesday to about 114 square miles, becoming California’s second largest wildfire this year in a matter of hours.

From the Guardian, Aussie ruling party arrogance [whale meat, anyone?]:

Green groups accused of trashing Queensland’s reputation overseas

  • State environment minister claims the main aim of conservation groups is to shut down Queensland’s resource industry

Queensland’s environment minister has accused conservation groups of “trashing” the state’s reputation overseas.

Andrew Powell, who is responsible for protecting Queensland’s natural assets, has gone to Paris for talks with Unesco over the status of the Great Barrier Reef.

Unesco has given Australia until February to show that it is properly managing the reef. If it’s not satisfied the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site “in danger”.

On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, sending the fox to guard the henhouse, via the Mainichi:

New regulator vows to secure independence of nuclear safety body

Satoru Tanaka, who became a commissioner of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday, vowed to proceed with safety screenings of nuclear facilities with independence, brushing off criticism he has close ties with nuclear power companies.

Tanaka has come under fire for receiving payments and donations in the past from bodies including one linked to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant. Critics say the regulator’s fairness and independence could be compromised with his addition to the NRA decision-making panel.

A former chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Tanaka said at a press conference he will do his job “on the basis of science and technology” and he will show that stance through “my language and behavior.”

NHK WORLD covers a setback:

Completion of nuclear fuel plant to be delayed

The operator of a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in northeastern Japan is expected to postpone completion of the plant by about 18 months due to the ongoing government screening.

NHK learned that Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited is making final adjustments to a plan to delay completion from October to early 2016.

The plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has been undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority since January. Regulators are trying to determine whether the facility meets new requirements for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima.

But regulators say they have not been able to conduct screening. They say documents submitted by the operator are insufficient.

From the Asahi Shimbun, a vote in opposition:

Tochigi town passes water-protection ordinance to block nuclear waste plans

A town in Tochigi Prefecture has found a novel way to block the construction of a final disposal site for radioactive waste from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis by passing an ordinance that will protect its natural resources.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the Shioya town assembly on Sept. 19, will protect an area that includes local springs, as well as mountain forest that was designated by the Environment Ministry as a candidate for the final disposal facility.

The ministry plans to use the site to store designated waste which contains more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram.

From the Los Angeles Times, nuclear woes on this side of the Pacific:

Energy Dept. faces major hurdles to reopen New Mexico nuclear dump

The Energy Department has identified 7,000 steps needed to reopen its badly damaged nuclear waste dump in New Mexico, but cannot say how long it will take or how much it will cost.

The agency was expected to release a written recovery plan Thursday, but instead provided a few details about the plan, which awaits formal approval by the department.

Outside experts say that the dump will probably not reopen until well after the start of 2016 and that the cost of the accident will approach $1 billion.

Although they didn’t talk about the cost, Energy Department officials reiterated at a briefing in Carlsbad, N.M., on Thursday that there was “strong support” in Congress for putting up the unspecified amount of money required to restart the plant. A Senate aide declined a request by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month for details about the cost negotiations.

More from the Carlsbad Current-Argus:

LANL identifies second nuclear waste drum like container that was breached at WIPP

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have identified another nuclear waste drum similar to the drum that caused the February’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Terry Wallace Jr., the LANL WIPP recovery leader and principal associate director for global security, testified that the chemical reaction was likely caused by a discarded glovebox glove on Tuesday in front of the New Mexico Legislature’s Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee in Carlsbad.

Because scientists have not been able to re-create the chemical reaction, Wallace said he was unsure about the future of the second drum that currently sits underground in Panel 6 at WIPP.

From the Mainichi, ancient fallout heats up:

‘Missing’ documents reveal 1954 U.S. H-bomb test affected 556 more ships

Recently released government documents reveal that the crews of 556 Japanese ships were tested for radiation exposure in the wake of the United States’ 1954 hydrogen bomb tests around the Bikini Atoll — one of which irradiated the crew of the Daigo Fukuryumaru tuna boat from Shizuoka Prefecture.

The records were released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on Sept. 19 in accordance with the Access to Government Information Act, following a freedom-of-information request by a citizens group in Kochi Prefecture known as the Pacific Ocean Nuclear Disaster Assistance Center and other organizations.

According to representatives from the group and the health ministry, the national and local governments conducted the testing between March and December 1954 on fishing and cargo ship crews from a total of five Japanese ports that had been in waters affected by the U.S. nuclear test in the central Pacific.

And we close on an upbeat Latin note from Agence France-Presse:

New music with recycled instruments at Colombia fest

Program notes:

Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the “RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival”, in Colombian city of Cali.

Why we call it Global Corporate U.


That would be the University of California as a system and the Berkeley campus as the nucleus, the same campus featured in a post earlier this week covering a proposed massive tuition hike for the college that teaches one of the poorest paid of the learned vocations.

A screencap of a post from from Romensko, the same journalism site featured in that earlier post:

BLOG Cal

UC Berkeley: Cashing in on the poorest paid


That would be journalists, folks who draw ever-declining wages.

First up, this screen cap from Romenesko:

BLOG Cal

Next, the headline from a reaction piece at Poynter MediaWire:

‘I believe I would major in English’: journalists decry Berkeley’s proposed 10k fee

Why that response? Consider this from Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

BLOG Journalism

EnviroWatch: Including a tragic Ebola update


Though we broke out Ebola coverage for today’s earlier EbolaWatch, we have one crucial update — a demonstration once again that racism, tinged with eugenics, lies at the heart of today’s Grand Old Party. [And there’s lot of environmental news, including a series of very serious alarms.]

First, via The Hill, the deplorable:

GOP cuts funding request to fight Ebola

House Republicans indicated Tuesday that they will provide less than half of the White House’s funding request to fight Ebola in the next government spending bill.

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) agreed as of Tuesday morning to spend a total of $40 million to fight the epidemic in the 2015 spending bill.

This would include $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $15 million for the Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to ramp up production of an experimental anti-Ebola drug, the source said.

The White House had asked for $88 million for Ebola in total, including $58 million for BARDA, which is involved in coordinating experimental treatments during public health emergencies.

On to that other outbreak we’ve been coverage, first with JapanToday:

81 dengue fever cases reported in 15 prefectures

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Tuesday that the number of reported dengue fever cases stood at 81 in 15 prefectures as of Tuesday morning.

The ministry is working with Tokyo metropolitan government health officials to spray insecticide in three parks in Tokyo, where the disease spread by mosquitoes, is believed to have originated, TV Asahi reported.

Since the weekend, parts of Yoyogi, Shinjuku Gyoen and Meijijingu Gaien parks have been closed to the public, resulting in the cancellation of many events.

Jiji Press notes a spread:

1st Dengue Case outside Tokyo Reported

A man in his 60s is believed to have been infected with dengue fever in Chiba, east of Tokyo, the first infection outside the capital since the first domestic case in nearly 70 years was reported last month, the health ministry said Tuesday.

This is the third infection confirmed outside Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park and surrounding areas, where most of the recent infections originated.

It remains unclear whether the man has come into contact with others infected with the virus. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases is now investigating.

And from the Mainichi, same disease, another continent, another notable development:

Brazil looks to introduce genetically modified mosquitoes to tackle dengue fever

While Japan is experiencing a domestic dengue fever outbreak for the first time in decades, the same virus claimed 603 lives in Brazil last year. The Brazilian government is implementing numerous efforts to prevent the mosquito-borne virus from spreading.

Last year, some 1.4 million people were infected with the dengue virus in Brazil. While the country had tried to eliminate dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes by spraying insecticide and informing residents about the disease, pest control could only be done in limited areas, and the effect was temporary.

Recently, the Brazilian government has focused on eliminating puddles of water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Local governments have advised residents not to leave water in items such as empty cans, old tires and dishes under plant containers while fining home owners when mosquito larva are found on their premises.

From Environment News Service, another epidemic, one we created ourselves:

Poor European Air Quality Linked to Poor Adult Lung Health

Children who suffer poor lung health from breathing polluted air are not alone – so do adults.

In the first study of its kind, published Saturday, researchers from across Europe evaluated the correlation between air pollution and lung function in European adults and found that the harmful effects of breathing polluted air persist into adulthood.

The researchers used indicators of vehicle traffic in the area and modeled the exposure levels to different pollution measures, including nitrogen oxides (NO2 and NOx) and particulate matter (PM).

Their conclusions may seem obvious, but the study’s authors, Nicole Probst-Hensch and Martin Adam from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute based in Basel, say their findings are “crucial” as they demonstrate that air pollution is having a negative effect, not only on children, as previously demonstrated, but also on adults.

Along the same lines, via the Guardian:

South Africa’s coal-fired power stations carry heavy health costs

In the settlement of Masakhane near the Duvha plant, residents wear masks to avoid breathing in the coal dust

South Africa’s dependence on coal to generate 85% of its electricity is taking a substantial toll on human health, according to environmental groups. A report from Greenpeace (pdf) in February estimates that up to 2,700 premature deaths are caused every year by emissions from the country’s 16 coal-fired power plants.

Greenpeace released the report in the wake of an application by Eskom, South Africa’s public power utility, to postpone compliance with new minimum emissions standards aimed at reducing the damaging health impacts of air pollution.

These new standards are particularly vital for the country’s north-eastern Mpumalanga province where 12 coal-fired power plants are clustered on the western high-altitude side of the Highveld. They pump out sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM) at levels often more than double the maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). As a result, levels of air pollution in Mpumalanga’s Highveld are the highest in the country and among the highest in the world, according to news reports.

From BBC News, alarms shriek:

Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says that it highlights the need for a global climate treaty. But the UK’s energy secretary Ed Davey said that any such agreement might not contain legally binding emissions cuts, as has been previously envisaged.

Reuters covers a consequence:

Climate change increases possibility of megadrought in Southwestern U.S.

  • A new study finds an increased possibility of severe and long-term megadrought affecting Southwestern United States

The Southwestern United States could face a decade long drought according to a new study by Cornell, University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey researchers.

According to lead author and Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences Toby Ault, climate change is increasing the possibility of a “megadrought” – a drought that could last over thirty years.

The study is based on historical data of previous droughts and uses current changes in precipitation patterns caused by global warming to evaluate the risks of severe droughts in the near future.

MercoPress covers another:

Antarctica sea levels rising faster because of fresh water from melting glaciers, say researchers

  • Sea levels around Antarctica are rising faster than anywhere else in the southern ocean. The global average rise in ocean heights in the last 19 years has been 6cms, but the rise in seas around Antarctica is 2cms higher.

This seemingly counter-intuitive finding is certainly a consequence of melting ice in the Southern Ocean, but the connection with global warming is, for the moment, tenuous. The agency that is behind the rising sea levels is simply an excess of fresh water from melting glaciers – about 350 billion tons of it.

“Fresh water is less dense than salt water, and so in regions where an excess of fresh water has accumulated we expect a localized rise in sea level,” says Craig Rye, an oceanography researcher at of the University of Southampton in the UK, who, with colleagues, has published the findings in Nature Geoscience.

From New Europe, yet another:

Spain sees increased damage by forest fires in 2014

Forest fires in Spain burned a total of 39,410 hectares of land in the first eight months of 2014, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment said Monday.

The amount of damage to the nation’s forests has increased by 15 percent, compared to the 34,268 hectares burned down during the same period in 2013, data showed.

2014 has seen a 40.5 percent rise in the number of fires burning an area of over a hectare. This implies that fires have been able to both become established and to spread faster this year than in 2013.

And yet another, via the Guardian:

North America’s key birds facing extinction, study finds

  • 314 species, including the bald eagle and 10 state birds of US at risk from climate change

Half of North America’s bird species, from common backyard visitors like the Baltimore oriole and the rufous hummingbird to wilderness dwellers like the common loon and bald eagle, are under threat from climate change and many could go extinct, an exhaustive new study has found.

Seven years of research found climate change the biggest threat to North America’s bird species.

Some 314 species face dramatic declines in population, if present trends continue, with warming temperatures pushing the birds out of their traditional ranges. Ten states and Washington DC could lose their state birds.

And from RT, more anthropogenic environmental havoc:

Lake Baikal, world’s deepest body of freshwater, turning into swamp – ecologists

The world’s oldest and deepest body of freshwater, Lake Baikal, is turning into a swamp, Russian ecologists warn. They say that tons of liquid waste from tourist camps and water transport vehicles is being dumped into the UNESCO-protected lake.

One of the natural wonders and the pearl of Russia’s Siberia, Lake Baikal has recently been a source of alarming news, due to an increased number of alien water plants which have formed in the lake waterlogging it, ecologists said at a roundtable discussion recently held in the city of Irkutsk.

A recent scientific expedition discovered that 160 tons of liquid waste are produced every season in Baikal’s Chivyrkui Bay, said the head of Baikal Environmental Wave, one of Russia’s first environmental NGOs, according to SIA media outlet.

From BBC News, another tragedy:

Four Peruvian anti-logging activists murdered

Four Peruvian tribal leaders have been killed on their way to a meeting to discuss ways to stop illegal logging.

The men from the Ashaninka community were attempting to travel to Brazil when they were murdered. Campaigners say the men had received several death threats from illegal loggers, who are suspected of being behind the killings.

Correspondents say indigenous people have felt under increasing threat from deforestation in recent years.

An optimistic note from Business Insider:

The End Of Fracking Is Closer Than You Think

Canadian geologist David Hughes has some sober news for the Kool-Aid-drinking boosters of the United States’ newfound eminence in fossil fuel production: it’s going to go bust sooner rather than later.

Working with the Post Carbon Institute, a sustainability think-tank, Hughes meticulously analyzed industry data from 65,000 US shale oil and natural gas wells that use the much-ballyhooed extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as fracking. The process involves drilling horizontally as well as vertically, and then pumping a toxic cocktail of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals deep underground in order to break apart the rock formations that hold deposits of oil and gas.

Hughes found that the production rates at these wells decline, on average, 85 percent over three years. “Typically, in the first year there may be a 70 percent decline,” Hughes told VICE News. “Second year, maybe 40 percent; third year, 30 percent. So the decline rate is a hyperbolic curve. But nonetheless, by the time you get to three years, you’re talking 80 or 85 percent decline for most of these wells.”

But if you really want some to worry about, consider this from RT America:

Yellowstone supervolcano eruption to be a countrywide disaster

Program notes:

Although the odds are low for a major eruption happening anytime soon, a new study is once again raising fears over the Yellowstone supervolcano. A paper in the “Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems” journal lays out the suffering the US would undergo in a worst-case scenario disaster, predicting most major cities in the US being covered in layers of potentially deadly volcanic ash. RT’s Lindsay France takes a look at the study and breaks down its findings.

And for our final item, today’s lone Fukushimapocalypse Now! event, via the Guardian:

Fukushima fallout continues: now cleanup workers claim unpaid wages

  • Last month Tokyo Electric Power was ordered to pay $500,000 compensation, now workers sue for promised danger money

The legal net has started to tighten around the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, as victims of the accident, and those responsible for clearing it up, take their grievances to the courts.

Last week, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it would not contend a court ruling ordering it to pay almost $500,000 in compensation to the family of a woman who killed herself two months after being forced to flee her home near the plant.

That claim, which could pave the way for similar suits, has been followed by a unprecedented attempt by four Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue the utility for unpaid wages.