- Anti-ACORN Filmmaker Arrested Federal authorities have arrested four men on felony charges for attempting to infiltrate Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office, including one Republican filmmaker who targeted the community group ACORN last year in undercover videos. According to the FBI, the four men could each face up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000 if they are convicted.
- ACORN Is Back in the News, but the News Still Gets it Wrong O'Keefe's antics might have been dismissed as a clever college-age prank except that, with the help of veteran right-wing journalist Andrew Breitbart, who runs the biggovernment.org website, the videos became part of a right-wing campaign to destroy ACORN, a progressive grassroots anti-poverty community organization.
Fox News broadcast those videos on a virtual round-the-clock basis, causing a controversy far out of proportion to its news value. The conservative echo chamber, particularly Glenn Beck and his Fox News cohorts, treated O"Keefe like a celebrity hero and broadcast his videos continually. Their videos and other attacks on ACORN became a regular staple of the right-wing blogosphere. The conservatives sought to discredit ACORN and, by linking the group to President Obama, undermine Obama and his liberal agenda.
- How Will SCOTUS Decision Affect Corporate Media? In 2004, the United Church of Christ produced a television commercial promoting its inclusive approach to organized faith. The ad showed two nightclub-style bouncers guarding the rope line of a church as they denied entry to a gay male couple, several people of color, and a man in a wheelchair. By contrast, a white family of four had no problems getting through.
"Jesus didn't turn people away" was the ad's tagline, but CBS did, turning down the commercial which was intended for broadcast during that year's Super Bowl. The 30-second spot apparently violated the network's policy of "prohibiting advocacy ads, even ones that carry an 'implicit' endorsement for a side in a public debate."
Now, six years later, CBS has agreed to run an ad by the notoriously anti-reproductive rights, anti-gay organization Focus on the Family, featuring college football star and anti-choice crusader Tim Tebow....
The media love to talk about transparency and accountability when it comes to politicians and the government -- they should, it's an important subject. They, too, have an obligation of transparency to the American people.
It is long past time these powerful corporate media institutions make their policies surrounding political and issue-advocacy ads readily available, publicly transparent, clear, and, most importantly, consistent.
- Howard Zinn, Historian who Challenged Status Quo, Dies at 87 Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87. "His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. "When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide."
- Goodbye Howard Zinn (with VIDEO, watch!) Zinn's brand of history put common citizens at the center of the story and inspired generations of young activists and academics to remember that change is possible. As he wrote in his autobiography, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."
Scientists Warn Doing Nothing Will Likely Lock in Worst Consequences of Climate Change UCS Says Cap on Global Warming Emissions Essential
Published on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 by Union of Concerned Scientists
WASHINGTON - Three top U.S. climate scientists stressed on a telephone press conference today the United States must rapidly reduce its global warming emissions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The scientists, all of whom have been involved in U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, were speaking during a telephone press briefing organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
An environmental activist walks next to a snowman as part of a climate change awareness action in Berlin January 22, 2010. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
The prospects for federal action on climate are uncertain. Some senators have suggested the Senate may not consider a climate bill this year. Meanwhile Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has introduced a resolution that would undermine the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to regulate heat-trapping emissions under the Clean Air Act.
"Policymakers must understand that unlike a steel tariff, action on climate change is not something that can be postponed a year," said Richard Somerville, a research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and co-author of the Copenhagen Diagnosis, a synthesis of the most policy-relevant climate science since the 2007 IPCC report. "The longer we delay in reducing our emissions, the higher the global temperature increase we lock in."
"It's time for policymakers to pay attention to the atmosphere and not the blogosphere," said Peter Frumhoff, UCS's director of science and policy. "While climate naysayers spout all sorts of excuses for not taking action, heat-trapping emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, making the problem worse."
Robert Corell, a scientist with the Arctic Governance Project and the Global Environment and Technology Foundation, reminded reporters that the science is solid. "The vast body of peer-reviewed literature speaks for itself," Corell said. "Claims that say otherwise are completely unjustified."
Some climate legislation opponents now are calling for a stand-alone energy bill that includes renewable energy and energy efficiency standards without a cap on carbon emissions. This approach would fail to deliver the necessary emissions reductions, said Frumhoff. Scientists have indicated that cuts of at least 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 are required. To reach that goal, the government must ensure reductions of at least 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The energy bill passed by the Senate Energy Committee in July, which could go to the Senate floor, would not reduce emissions enough and therefore should not be seen as a substitute for a comprehensive climate bill, according to UCS. Because of its various loopholes and exemptions, the bill would do less to promote renewable energy sources than state policies already in place.
Conversely, a cap like the one in the House's "American Clean Energy and Security Act," which it passed last June, would put a price on carbon emissions, providing a market incentive for polluters to reduce their emissions and rewarding clean technology innovations.
"Economists agree that a carbon price is a critical, cost-effective way for the United States to reduce its emissions and transition to a clean energy economy," said Rachel Cleetus, an economist at UCS. "A strong cap would encourage investments in clean energy sources and energy efficiency and help ensure that U.S. companies capture a share of the growing global market in clean technologies. Green is the new red, white and blue."
The clean tech industry is the growth industry of the future, she said. The United States must act quickly to secure a leadership role in this industry, rather than ceding it to China and other nations that are rapidly expanding their renewable energy industries.
A cap would not interfere with economic growth, Cleetus added. According to the EPA, Energy Information Administration and Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. economy would continue to grow robustly under the cap in the House "American Clean Energy and Security Act." Costs to households, meanwhile, would be marginal. By contrast, the costs of inaction could be immense, according to a report UCS issued last year. Unchecked climate change will likely impose massive social, environmental and economic losses from rising sea levels, intense coastal storms, erratic weather patterns, drought and flooding, crippled infrastructure, and collapsed ecosystems.
"A bill that creates a cap would generate significant revenues to help in the transition to a clean energy economy," said Cleetus. "Revenues could be used to subsidize weatherization and other improvements in energy efficiency that would save money for low- and middle-income households, as well as to train workers for new clean energy jobs."
Finally, if Congress does not enact an emissions reductions plan sometime in the next few months, it will lower worldwide confidence in the United States' ability to live up to its pledge, to reduce emissions "in the range" of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, in the Copenhagen Accord, said UCS Director of Policy and Strategy Alden Meyer, who has been involved in international climate negotiations for 20 years. "Much would depend on President Obama's ability to lay out a clear path forward for the United States to meet its commitment in the absence of Senate action."
London After Midnight / Sean Brennan