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Thursday, March 31, 2011

All of humanity could shift to solar, wind energy in less than 25 years, policy study group claims

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, March 31st, 2011 -- 10:37 am

Humankind has the technology, resources and capabilities to adapt to and help avert serious climate change and the crunch of a dwindling energy economy, if only the political will can be mustered -- and it's not just idealistic progressives who are saying so anymore.

In a recent report, the British non-profit Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD) claimed that, with targeted investments by world governments, solar power could become humanity's main source of portable energy in 25 years or less.

The catch: "Spending priorities" must change -- something that seems remarkably difficult even in the U.S., ostensibly one of the world's most advanced democracies.

Starting with the assumption that hydrocarbon energy markets are dying and renewable energy tech is the inevitable future, the group calculated how much electricity humans consume today and how much growing populations are projected to consume by 2030.

What they found is that in 19 years from now, humanity will be consuming 724 exajoules (EJ) of energy annually. Today, that figure is about 39 percent less.

Figuring in the efficiency of today's solar and wind power tech, they were able to model what it would take to rapidly replace the current petroleum power infrastructure with renewables.And here is the rest of it.

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Former Intel CEO blasts education in Arizona

By Ginger Rough and Betty Beard -
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 30, 2011 12:00 AM

Gov. Jan Brewer and the state's top lawmakers got a reality check Tuesday from former Intel Chief Executive and Board Chairman Craig Barrett, who told them Arizona's education system is hindering economic-development efforts.

Read more here
Barrett's remarks come as Brewer and the Legislature are working to hammer out a state budget.

Education is a major sticking point in the discussions; Brewer is proposing a $170 million cut to universities and a reduction of $72 million in K-12.

The Senate has passed a budget with deeper cuts - $235 million to universities and $242 million to K-12. The House has yet to begin its deliberations.

"Quality education is extremely important to a place like Intel," Barrett said. "(The) education cutbacks don't bode well for that."

Barrett, who said he was not speaking for the company, made his remarks at a board meeting of the newly created Arizona Commerce Authority, the quasi-public agency that replaced the state's Department of Commerce.

Barrett said if Intel were starting anew, Arizona likely wouldn't be in the running for its business.

"I hate to say it, but I think Arizona would not be in the top 10 locales to make that investment," he said.

He added that the company might not even select the U.S. because of non-competitive immigration and tax policies. Intel has invested at least $14 billion in new Arizona plants over the past decade and plans to spend another $5 billion on a fabrication plant in Chandler.

Continue reading here.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2011/03/30/20110330arizona-education-intel-ceo.html#ixzz1I7PFAgVS

Brewer says nothing would cause her to back off her plans to cut university funding or pare community colleges by half. See East Valley Tribune article    Former Intel CEO: Quality of Arizona education too poor to attract new businesson Brewer's reaction to Barrett.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Koch Money Tied to Michigan Think Tank, "Financial Martial Law", Right-Wing Billionaire Attack on Unions

By Andy Kroll
Behind Michigan's "Financial Martial Law": Corporations and Right-Wing Billionaires
Mother Jones
Wed Mar. 23, 2011 12:01 AM PDT

The think tank that inspired Gov. Rick Snyder's controversial bill is bankrolled by some of the same donors that funded Wisconsin's attack on unions.

Last week, Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a fiercely contested bill giving unelected "emergency financial managers" unprecedented power to shred union contracts, privatize city services, and consolidate or dissolve local governments, all in the name of saving struggling cities and school districts. Dubbed "financial martial law" by one approving state GOP lawmaker and "disaster capitalism" by critics, Snyder and his bill have become a target for Wisconsin-like protests. Several thousand demonstrators marched on the Michigan Capitol in the days before Snyder signed the bill. But gone unmentioned is a little-known Michigan think tank that for years has been pushing for the most controversial provisions in Snyder's bill—and that's bankrolled by some of the same right-wing millionaires and billionaires that backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his anti-union legislation.

Since 2005, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has urged reforms to Michigan law giving more power and protection to emergency financial managers, state-appointed officials who parachute into ailing cities or school districts and employ drastic measures to fix budgets on the brink of collapse. In January, the free-market-loving center published four recommendations, including granting emergency managers the power to override elected officials (such as a mayor or school board member) and toss out union contracts. All four ended up in Snyder's legislation.

"The Mackinac Center has been tied at the hip with the Republican Party establishment for years," says Doug Pratt, public affairs director at the Michigan Education Association. "It goes to their funding sources; it goes to their ideology."

Mackinac is part of a network of state-based groups associated with the Heritage Foundation, the influential right-wing think tank in Washington. Its past and present board members include Robert Teeter, a GOP strategist and '92 campaign manager for George H.W. Bush; Margaret Rieker, a former vice chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; and Joseph Lehman, a former vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington.

The Mackinac Center does not disclose its donors.
But a review of tax records shows that the group's funders include the charitable foundations of the nation's largest corporations and a host of wealthy conservative and libertarian benefactors. Between 2002 and 2009, the Mackinac Center's donors included the Charles G. Koch Foundation ($69,151), founded by the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, who, with his brother, David, is a major backer of conservative causes; the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation ($80,000), the charity tied to the son of the co-founder of Amway, the multibillion-dollar direct marketing company; the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, established by the parents of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who serves as the foundation's vice president ($195,000); and the Walton Family Foundation ($100,000), established by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and his wife, Helen.

Continue reading here.

Wall Street Analyst: "New Civil War erupts, led by super rich, GOP"

March 22, 2011, 6:55 a.m. EDT
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) —

Commentary: ‘Shock Doctrine,’ Reaganomics trigger explosive class war
Yes, “there’s class warfare, all right,” warns Warren Buffett. “But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” Yes, the rich are making war against us. And yes, they are winning. Why? Because so many are fighting this new American Civil War between the rich and the rest.

Not just the 16 new GOP governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and across America fighting for new powers. Others include: Chamber of Commerce billionaires, Koch brothers, Forbes 400, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform — which now has 97% of House Republicans and 85% of the GOP Senators signed on his “no new taxes” pledge — the Tea Party and Reaganomics ideologues.

Wake up America. You are under attack. Stop kidding yourself.
We are at war. In fact, we have been fighting this Civil War for a generation, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981. Recently Buffett renewed the battle cry: The “rich class” is winning this war. Except most Americans still don’t realize they’re losing, don’t see the prize at stake.

All this was predicted back in September 2008 by Naomi Klein, author of “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” Yes, we were warned that the GOP’s Reaganomics ideology would stage a rapid comeback … warned before the market collapsed … before Wall Street was virtually bankrupt. … before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson conned Congress into $787 billion in bailouts … warned before Obama’s 2008 election.

Continue reading here.

Koch "Tea Party" Oligarchy: "An Unholy Alliance Between Business and State" That Was Built On Russia's Oligarch Model

Monday, March 14, 2011

Michigan Set To Enact Sweeping 'Financial Martial Law' Bill

By Jason Linkins
Huffington Post
First Posted: 03/14/11 05:49 PM Updated: 03/14/11 05:49 PM

As readers know, I was favorably inclined toward the overall positive tenor of the successful gubernatorial campaign run by Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) and his subsequent efforts to move past partisan political rivalries. I'd hoped that it portended some coming creative thinking and innovation in the realm of state management.

As it turns out, I was terrifically wrong, and Snyder's just lost me completely with his apparent desire to enact a law that would impose "financial martial law" upon struggling communities in the form of "financial managers" that would have the power to abrogate contracts at will and supersede the democratic process. There's been a lot of recent media attention focused on a similar disregard for the public will in Wisconsin, but what's happening in Michigan really makes Scott Walker look like an amateur.
Continue reading here.

Eight Civics Lessons from Governor Walker

By Diane Ravitch, Historian, NYU Professor
Huffington Post
March 14, 2011

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has taught the nation some very important civics lessons. The price is high, but we should pay careful attention to what he teaches by example.

The first lesson:
Citizens should not be hoodwinked by rhetoric.
Governor Walker said that the state was broke. He said that public sector workers had to make larger contributions to the cost of their pensions and health care, even as he handed out generous corporate tax breaks for the same amount. Doing a reverse Robin Hood, he took from the middle class to enrich the powerful. The unions promptly agreed to pay what the governor proposed, effectively cutting their compensation, but the governor would not take yes for an answer. He insisted on breaking the unions, even though no financial issues were involved.

Lesson two: It is really important to vote. Only 51.7% of eligible voters in Wisconsin cast a ballot last November, and they ended up with a governor and a legislature who are wreaking havoc on state government and decimating vital public services.

Continue reading here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

NCLB: Howard Dean Predicted in 2003 that 100% of Schools Would Fail by 2013

26Dems Editorial Comment:  Howard Dean was right.  We are almost there. It's 2011 and already the Secretary of Education has announced that 82% of the nation's public schools are failing.  Diane Ravitch a former Bush administration Dept. of Education official who spoke recently in Tucson has recognized the flaws in No Child Left Behind and has written a highly recommended book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Ravitch warns that the curriculum is being gutted as teachers have become technicians teaching to the test. No humanities, social studies, music, art or physical education. NCLB has been divisive. Harsh measures aimed at arresting school failure has led to panic among administrators as schools compete for standing.   Now parents and politicians seeking an easy fix find it easy to blame the teachers. Firing all the teachers in a city's public schools won't fix what's wrong and lead to better public school performance. Corporations see easy profit in the privatization of public schools.  Here is one retired teacher's journal from Democratic Underground looks back to Howard Dean's prescient warning back in 2003 was right on target. NCLB legislation has transformed our public schools into a politically divisive battleground with our children and grandchildren as pawns.

Click here for NPR Review
Arne having to change tune since NCLB is causing 82% of schools to fail....
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Democratic Underground
Fri Mar 11th 2011, 12:39 AM

Instead of causing them to be successful, as the students meet a testing goal, the next year they raise the goal. The parents are not clued in that the standards are being raised, so they blame the schools and the teachers, especially the teachers.

I remember in 2003 when Howard Dean made an offhand comment after a rally, and remembered I was even questioning the accuracy of the statement myself until I thought it out. While the Bush administration was claiming it was a way for the schools to succeed, Dean said the opposite.

2003 Howard Dean on NCLB... "every school in America by 2013 will be a failing school."

"The president's ultimate goal," said former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.), one of the Democrats who now harshly attacks NCLB, "is to make the public schools so awful, and starve them of money, just as he's starving all the other social programs, so that people give up on the public schools."

He also said:
Dean criticized President Bush, saying his administration will lower the standards for good schools in New Hampshire, making them more like poorly performing schools in Texas. The Bush administration believes ''the way to help New Hampshire is to make it more like Texas,'' Dean told supporters in Manchester, adding that ''every school in America by 2013 will be a failing school.''
"Every group, including special education kids, has to be at 100 percent to pass the tests,'' Dean said. ''No school system in America can do that. That ensures that every school will be a failing school."
Continue reading here

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Outrage in Wisconsin: Thousands Flood Capitol After GOP Strips Public Workers of Bargaining Rights in Surprise Senate Vote

Naomi Klein on Anti-Union Bills and Shock Doctrine American-Style: "This is a Frontal Assault on Democracy, a Corporate Coup D’Etat"

Bradblog Green News Special Report: US Chamber's Disinformation War

March 10, 2011
With Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen

IN TODAY'S SPECIAL RADIO REPORT: (Rebroadcast from 2/15/11) All-out Info War: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest & most powerful corporate lobbying firm, caught plotting a $12 million disinformation campaign against progressive U.S. organizations, journalists and citizens, including yours truly...

Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.
'Green News Report' w/ Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen
March 10, 2011

Click to listen (or download)
More info on today's report here...

MSNBC: Wisconsin Vote A National GOP Political Strategy to Defund Unions, Goad Dems into Overreacting

WI Senate GOP Leader Admits On-Air That His Goal Is To Defund Labor Unions, Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances

By Lee Fang
Mar. 9, 2011

A prank call from a man purporting to be petrochemical billionaire David Koch to Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) a few weeks ago revealed that Walker had crafted his “budget repair” bill in a bid to crush the labor unions. The revelation was at odds with the GOP’s public argument, that removing collective bargaining rights has something to do with the state’s budget deficit.

In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly moments ago, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), one of Walker’s closest allies in the legislature, confirmed the true political motive of Walker’s anti-union push. Fitzgerald explained that “this battle” is about eliminating unions so that “the money is not there” for the labor movement. Specifically, he said that the destruction of unions will make it “much more difficult” for President Obama to win reelection in Wisconsin:

FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.

Watch it: 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rachel Maddow talks to Naomi Klein About Disaster Capitalism and Michigan Republican Guv's Plan to Wrest Power from Cities and Towns on "Emergency Pretext"

Waxman: 'All That Seems To Matter Is What Koch Industries Think'-- Expresses Dismay at High Level of Outright Science Denial Aimed at Protecting Polluter's Interests

By Brad Johnson
Mar. 7, 2011

Speaking at the Center for American Progress Action Fund today, House energy committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-CA) railed against the toxic influence of Koch Industries on efforts to fight global warming. Waxman, who fought polluters to pass the Clean Air Act of 1990, is dismayed by the level of outright science denial among the Republican Party today, exemplified by their votes to slash and burn environmental protection, and the Upton-Inhofe bill to reverse the scientific finding that carbon pollution threatens public health:
It apparently no longer matters in Congress what health experts and scientists think. All that seems to matter is what Koch Industries thinks.

Watch a compilation of Waxman’s remarks:

“The new Republican majority has a lot of leeway to rewrite laws,” Waxman also said, “but they don’t have the ability to rewrite the laws of nature.”

Watch Waxman in action as Chair of the Energy Committee in 2008: EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson May 20 2008 dodges Chairman Waxman's questions, threatens to kick Darrell Issa out of the hearing room when he tries to get Johnson to answer a simple question, did he meet with the President (Bush) on specific regulatory rules before the committee.  This behavior demonstrates the power of the oil lobbyists to influence climate regulation.

These Arizona members of Congress have eagerly hopped on the climate science denier bandwagon.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ-02): I have yet to see clear and convincing evidence that it exists beyond historical fluctuations. [source]

Rep.-elect Ben Quayle (R-AZ-03): Our planet has warmed and cooled since the beginning of time. [source]

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ-06): Told townhall participants that he was a skeptic on manmade global warming. [source]

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): There are dramatic environmental changes happening in the arctic region – whether one believes they are man-made or natural. [source]

Monday, March 7, 2011

Labor's Last Stand

By Jane McAlevey
February 16, 2011   |    This article appeared in the March 7-14, 2011 edition of The Nation.

Emboldened by November’s election results, corporations and their right-wing allies have launched what they hope will be their final offensive against America’s unions. Their immediate target is government workers’ unions. While New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie has gained national fame by beating up on public school teachers, the threat to unionized workers is playing out in all fifty states, to the drumbeat in the media about states going broke because of government workers’ wages, pensions and benefits. By late January, with the swearing-in ceremonies complete in the twenty-one states where Republicans have a “trifecta,” controlling the governor’s office and both statehouses, hundreds of bills had been introduced seeking to hem in unions if not ban them altogether. On February 11, Wisconsin’s new Republican Governor Scott Walker made what amounts to a declaration of all-out war on public sector workers in his historically progressive state, moving to deprive them of the very right to bargain collectively on matters essential to their economic security.

Walker’s gambit has rightly elicited outrage, but considering the breadth of the attack unions are facing nationally, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Right-to-work legislation has been filed in twelve states; this is in addition to the twenty-two that already have such laws on the books. In technical terms, this legislation makes it illegal for employers to condition employment on union membership or the equivalent dues payments even when a majority of workers vote to form a union; practically speaking, it makes building and maintaining a strong union very difficult, which in turn makes it harder to organize new workplaces because there are few positive examples of unions to point to. In Virginia, the corporations and right-wing ideologues decided that the existing right-to-work law wasn’t sufficient, and introduced a measure to embed the right-to-work provisions in the state Constitution. Three more states—Montana, Ohio and Wisconsin—are expected to have bills introduced converting their legal status to right-to-work.

Continue reading here.

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The Real News: The Military-Industrial Complex from Eisenhower to Obama

More at The Real News

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How Koch Front Groups Influence Laws

How Koch Front Groups Influence Laws

By Dave Johnson
Campaign For America's Future
March 2, 2011 - 10:15pm ET
 Tuesday the House of Representatives voted to continue tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies. Every Republican voted to support the tax breaks and subsidies.

Thursday House Republicans are expected to introduce legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the CO2 put into the air by burning oil and coal.
Why does the oil industry have so much influence over our government?

Think Progress examines the influence just one oil company has over our government in a series:

REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions By Demanding Bailouts And Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1)
REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government And Polluting For Free (Part 2)

From the report series, Part 1:

As ThinkProgress has carefully documented over the last three years, Koch groups have spent tens of millions to influence government policy — from financing the Tea Parties, to funding junk academic studies, to undisclosed attack ads against Democrats, to groups promoting climate change denial, to a large network of state-based and national think tanks.
 [. . .] Koch funds both socially conservative groups and socially liberal groups. However, Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rights, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics. Not only do the Koch’s front groups pad Koch Industries’ bottom line, they supply the Koch brother’s talking points.

From the series Part 2:

Koch Industries has cornered the market in monetizing some of the most dirty industrial businesses. Koch imports oil from the Middle East, refines high-carbon Canadian crude, maintains coal-burning plants, owns one of the largest oil pipeline networks in America, runs environmentally hazardous lumber mills, produces toxic chemicals, and manufacturers fertilizer. The University of Masschusetts Amherst has scored Koch as among the top ten worst air polluters for its carcinogenic chemicals.

Much of the entire Koch political machine is geared towards ensuring that Koch Industries never has to compensate the people and ecosystems damaged by Koch Industries pollution. Koch front groups — from Tea Party groups to think tanks — have diligently promoted Koch Industries’ bottom line by denying global warming, fighting regulations on Koch’s cancer-causing chemicals, and snuffing out investigations into Koch’s environmental crimes:

The report shows how a series of Koch-funded organizations -- some even tax-deductible supposed "charities" -- are presented to the public as "independent" and are used in a campaign to persuade the public that climate change is a "hoax" or that different ways that Koch Industries pollutes are actually not harmful and should not be regulated.

Continue reading here.

And here is the rest of it.

Michael Moore Tells Madison Crowd: 'America is not Broke'