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Updated: 15 min 39 sec ago

The United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 07:49

On Thursday, the people of the United Kingdom voted 52 percent to 48 percent to end their status as a member of the European Union. The nation will trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, starting a two year, irreversible process at the end of which they’ll be removed from the political-economic union of 28—soon to be 27—European states.

Prime Minster David Cameron, who had championed the idea of the UK remaining within the union, has announced that he will resign. The Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is also likely to be deposed and a motion of no confidence in him has been made. In three months, there will be a new Prime Minister, a new government, new leadership in both major parties and a new direction as the United Kingdom follows breaks trail along a path that no other nation has taken. 

The immediate effects of the exit vote are clear to see as the value of the pound struck a 30 year low and stocks followed.

France's economy overtook the UK's as the pound slumped to its weakest level in more than three decades, sending investors fleeing to the "safe haven" of gold

The less than 2 percent margin of victory for the exit vote was by no means evenly distributed. While England (apart from London) and Wales both voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where local governments have opposed conservative policies coming from London, voted strongly to stay. In the wake of the exit vote, both the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland have called for new referendums allowing them to break free of the UK, suggesting that one or both might seek to re-enter the EU as independent states. 

Nicola Sturgeon has just spoken about Scotland's overwhelming support for remaining in the EU.

She said: "While the overall result remains to be declared, the vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union. 

"We await the final UK-wide result, but Scotland has spoken - and spoken decisively."

In short: It’s a mess. A huge mess. And not one that’s going to be cleaned up quickly. But there is one man who is really excited about the turmoil.

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Trump: "When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, to be honest."

— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 24, 2016

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 07:31

It’s Friday, and you know I’m going to say you know what that means!

So, I hope you do. Because that’ll make one of us.

If you figure out what we’re going to talk about, put it right here: ____________________________.

Well, whatever it is, our goal is always to leave you better informed about something at least a little wacky, so you can entertain the troops this weekend. Come see hear what we’ve got!

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The Democrats continue to be revolting, in a quite inspirational fashion. David Waldman believes nothing huge should be expected, but as increments go, these are a nice ones. Paul Ryan allowed no bills and got no breaks. The Gop won’t give in, no matter how hard they lose. Greg Dworkin calls in to discuss how parties matter, and how they are not the same. John Lewis’ nonviolence training and tradition. Donald Trump said some crazy, non-sensical, conspiracy theories and lies. If you didn’t catch it, Clownstick’ll be doing it again and again for the next few months because he will not be pivoting anywhere. Trump runs his campaign like a real estate deal. Obamacare is working, but both sides see an advantage in trashing it. Hey, remember when the Republicans fought for your freedom to get $3.50 per gallon gas? One way this differs from today’s fight for gun safety is new social media technology. C-SPAN circumvents the House blackout on sit-in coverage. Want a revolution? Here is a little election with big lessons to teach. Patrick Murphy, not this one, but this one, is raising red flags, which may lead to a Marco Rubio return, even.

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Morning Digest: Pat Toomey courts danger with his hostility to Planned Parenthood

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 07:01

Leading Off:

PA-Sen: EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood are teaming up to slam Republican Sen. Pat Toomey with a joint television and digital buy. The TV spot (backed by $1.1 million from EMILY) features a breast cancer survivor who sharply criticizes Toomey for voting to defund Planned Parenthood, "which thousands of Pennsylvania women depend on for cancer screenings." She goes on to berate Toomey for being "willing to shut down the federal government to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood." PP itself is contributing $250,000 for the online side.

Toomey's campaign responded by claiming that Planned Parenthood "has shown a horrific lack of regard for human life," though of course that only shows Toomey has a horrific lack of regard for facts. What's more, polls have consistently shown Americans support Planned Parenthood and oppose defunding it by wide margins; the same is true in Pennsylvania, according to a Muhlenberg College survey conducted there earlier this year. Toomey's usually done a good job of smoothing over his extremist beliefs, but in this case, he's refusing to moderate his views—and is putting his electoral fortunes at risk.

Donald Trump puts what's important first—and it's not running for president

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 06:42

On Friday morning, Donald Trump stepped in front of the cameras—in the midst of his presidential campaign, at the heart of a moment when world events are shifting the structure of relationships in a way that will alter vital United States interests—and explained how the third hole at his golf course was going to be the “greatest par three.” It was a bizarre moment. It was a perfect summary. It was Trump.

By any measure, Donald Trump is doing a pitiful job as the presumptive GOP nominee. He’s literally phoning it in, running a schedule that mixes the occasional rally with kicking back in his office to dial a friend or two among American’s talking heads. He’s not doing the rounds of fundraising expected of a would-be president. He’s not doing down-ticket meet and greets to boost other GOP candidates. He’s not putting in place the infrastructure to drag iffy voters to the polls, or building connections to bring in outside funds, or even creating a media organization to lend some details to his fact-free spluttering.

Many have looked at this and wondered if there's some secret scheme behind the incompetence. Does Trump have a hidden agenda? Why else is his treatment of topics so flippant? Why is his campaign so not there? 

But the truth is simpler. Donald Trump is running a fraction of a campaign because he’s just a part-time nominee. For all his fist-pumping speeches, Trump’s candidacy and his line of of tacky campaign mementos are no more important to him than one of his vanished magazines, or his dried out line of gristly steaks, or his grounded airlines. Other people might see being president as the most important job they could possibly have. Trump sees it as a sideline.

Donald Trump has a day job. And he’s not about to let something as trivial as the presidency get in the way.

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Brexit, Trump visits golf course in Scotland, and more

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 06:33

We begin today’s roundup with Joseph Schatz and Ben White at POLITICO on the shock vote in favor of a Brexit:

British voters didn’t just shock the world and the financial markets by voting to leave the European Union hours ago: They also ignored President Barack Obama, handed Hillary Clinton a potential economic burden and injected new energy into the populist currents roiling politics on both sides of the Atlantic. [...]

But make no mistake: A Brexit represents nothing less than the partial splintering of the world’s largest political union and trading bloc — an $18 trillion economy. Many fear that other European countries will now hold their own exit referendums, leading to a chain reaction that will reverberate across the Atlantic. The Brexit vote could also break apart the UK, scramble transatlantic political unity amid growing tensions with Russia, and complicate U.S. trade ties.

It could even hit the U.S. economy, warned Harvard professor and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

“The economy is more fragile to a negative shock than at anytime since the second World War,” Summers told POLITICO. “Always before when had a downturn there was room for monetary policy action to counteract that. Today there is essentially no such room.”

Brexit is not a warning about an advent of Trump, and the reason is Barack Obama

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 22:54

You’re going to be reading a lot of stories about the Brexit vote being a warning that Donald Trump can win. Those stories will be wrong.

Brexit apparently has won, and the primary reason is the economic turmoil wrought by the greed and at times open cruelty of British austerity, as imposed by David Cameron and George Osborne. Labour didn’t run against austerity in the last British election, and was punished for it. The British people were punished with more austerity. A brutal economy always feeds extremism, and that is how Britain got Brexit. The irony was that Cameron and Osborne had to fight desperately against the consequences of their own policies. And if you think I’m ignoring Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, that’s because he was almost invisible during the Remain campaign, and his support was tepid if not feigned. Britain has austerity and no credible national leaders. Hence Brexit.

While much of Europe was electing right wing governments that imposed austerity, the United States was electing Barack Obama. The Obama stimulus was a starkly different approach from European austerity. A larger stimulus would have done more to fuel a robust recovery, but the stimulus that was enacted stopped the economic free fall, and got the United States back on the right track. More needs to be done, and will be done, but the difference with Europe and particularly Britain is obvious. The extremism fueling the Trump campaign is neither as broad or deep as the extremism fueling Brexit. Because President Obama and Congressional Democrats ensured that the United States did not end up with the sort of brutal economic program the Republicans would have imposed, and that Cameron and Osborne in Britain did impose.

Simply put, the extremism fueling Brexit does not have the same resonance in the United States. Because our economy is not suffering the way Britain’s economy is suffering. And the economic agenda of Hillary Clinton is very deliberately designed to build on the success of the Obama economic agenda. The United States has alternatives that Britain did not have. And the United States will not follow Britain’s path into extremism because it hasn’t been on a parallel economic path.

Open thread for night owls: How racial and gender gaps in income blur the American Dream

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 22:01

Sam Fulwood III at the Center for American Progress (CAP) writes—Race and Beyond: Continuing Inequalities Blur the American Dream:

As far back as 2013, CAP’s Progress 2050 project released All-In Nation: An America that Works for All, a book that estimated that racial gaps in income cost the U.S. gross domestic product $1.2 trillion in 2011 and that ending these racial gaps would lift some 13 million Americans out of poverty. That’s old news.

night owls

But just because something is old news doesn’t make a refreshed version of it any less significant. While still alarming and shockingly disappointing, a series of new economic reports demonstrates that the nation’s improving economy isn’t yet the rising tide to lift all boats—especially for the poor, women, or people of color.

According to findings contained in a recently released economic survey of the nation’s economy by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, seven years after the global financial crisis, the United States has had one of the strongest rebounds of the OECD’s 34 member countries. “Many private-sector jobs have been created, pushing unemployment down to its pre-crisis level, thereby providing consumers with higher income and improving their confidence,” the report stated.

Yet, the OECD report highlighted how sexism and racism impedes economic progress. The report noted, for example, that women, African Americans, and people with criminal records are less likely to see returns on the nation’s recovery. For example, regarding women, the OECD noted, “Women’s participation in the labour force and employment rates remain well below those of men’s and have been falling back recently such that they are now below those of Germany and Japan.”

Additionally, the OECD suggests that a federal paid maternity leave policy would greatly benefit women’s labor force rate.

The OECD also drew attention to “substantial gaps” in the earnings of full-time workers across racial demographics.

“Black and African American and Hispanic and Latino male workers earn a bit less than three quarters of that earned by white males,” the report said, noting that people with criminal records face even higher hurdles in the workplace. “Given the over-representation of blacks in the prison populations, black males, particularly young males, have much higher unemployment rates and lower employment rates.”

HIGH IMPACT STORIESTOP COMMENTS

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CNN hires Trump's dumped campaign manager. He's best known for assaulting journalists, so no one at CNN has a thing to worry about.

— Victor Laszlo (@Impolitics) June 23, 2016

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2006Oops:

So Senate and the House Republicans seem pretty united that a time table for withdrawal of our men and women from Bush's Iraqi quagmire would be a bad idea. Why, it would be a sell out, bordering on treasonous assistance to the terrorists and an insult to the casualties of Bush's war. Bully for them, and as the traditional media reports in breathless glowing detail, that's a sign of strength. By golly those Republicans are going to turn a major liability into a political advantage under the exceptional tutelage of Master Karl Rove:

The U.S. House has voted in favor of not setting a timetable for troops to be removed from Iraq. After the vote, West Michigan Congressman, Pete Hoekstra, appeared on Fox News Channel to talk about the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans in their views on the war. And the DoD has signed right on the dotted line: Rumsfeld: Iraq Timetable wouldn't 'do any good': As for a timetable for troop withdrawal, Rumsfeld said that timetables are often wrong. "Once you start doing that, then you are stuck with a number and a date, and it just doesn't do any good," he said.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, the House sit-in continues. Greg Dworkin reminds us these things don’t just spring up from nowhere. Donald Trump is still a developer at heart, by which we mean a grubby cheater. Red flags raised on Patrick Murphy. Jane Kleeb wins the NE Dem Chair.

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L.A. cops are ordered to be nicer to the homeless. No, seriously. For real.

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 21:31

Reporting the story as straight as an arrow because it’s too tiring to come up with cute phrasing:  The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles Police Department has been “ordered”—as in from the top, by the chief—to “show compassion and empathy towards homeless people.”

Encounters with the city’s homeless population have long been among the most sensitive and legally fraught parts of being a Los Angeles police officer.

On Tuesday, the LAPD moved to reset this relationship. The Los Angeles Police Commission approved a new policy directing LAPD officers to treat homeless people with “compassion and empathy.”

Top LAPD officials say the policy is part of a larger effort to rethink the way officers approach the city’s growing homeless population and try to ease tensions.

“It’s important on a number of levels as we begin to move forward in what I hope will be a big transition in the way that our streets appear and the way that some of the most vulnerable of the people in Los Angeles live,” Chief Charlie Beck said.

To those who argue that police officers are not social workers, consider this: Not arresting people, giving people written warnings, and even a stern “talking to” may appearing laughable in this day and age, but they’ve long been part of a police officer’s arsenal, under the rubric of “discretion.” A rise in the militarization of police departments across the country was not just a physical phenomenon, but an ideological one as well. Just as efforts are now underway to remove weapons of far away, foreign wars from the streets of America’s cities, there must be an ideological shift as well. People who have long been criminalized because of their identities and their existence must have their human rights respected.

Did Mad Men sell Trump a cure for small hands?

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 21:01

Political analysts were gifted with a number of mysteries Monday after the release of Donald Trump’s Federal Election Commission campaign disclosure report. But perhaps the strangest was that Donald Trump had hired a fictional ad firm to do “field research.” As it happens, the people involved in the firm known as “Draper Sterling” appear to have a connection to ousted Trump campaign director Corey Lewandowski. 

But reviewing the information turned up by Judd Legum at ThinkProgress, there’s another intriguing possibility.

Draper Sterling was registered with the New Hampshire Secretary of State to Jon Adkins, the co-founder of a medical device startup. Its headquarters is Adkins’ home address in residential New Hampshire.

The medical device company is actually XenoTherapeutics. According to the company website. XenoTherapeutics was created to produce a product called Xeno-Skin, a substance which will replace the cadaver skin used in burn grafts with altered pig skin. Honestly, that sounds like a terrific idea.

But what’s more interesting in Trump terms is that the chief medical officer of XenoTherapeutics is Dr. Curt Cetrulo. It’s a name that may seem slightly familiar, because the site also links to some recent news featuring Dr. Cetrulo.

A man whose penis was removed because of cancer has received the first penis transplant in the United States, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. …

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and a leader of the surgical team. “It’s uncharted waters for us.”

So. Donald Trump provided $35,000 to a pop-up ad agency run by two men with no apparent experience in any political research, but who are deeply involved with a medical firm. And at that firm, the CMO is the man who conducted the nation’s first penis transplant.

Is cop transparency headed to a California voting booth?

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 18:31

KQED-San Francisco is reporting that efforts to increase transparency and accountability in California’s police departments may be heading to the voting booth. All it took was a little bit of sex between an underage teen and a bunch of police officers from several jurisdictions.

Democratic State Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, sponsor of SB 1286 which sought to give the public access to the misconduct and disciplinary files of police officers, appears to be mulling over the idea of taking the issue directly to California’s voters since the bill died in committee without a hearing last month.

“It’s quite possible it cannot be done legislatively, that the power of the law enforcement lobby is so intense that it’s not going to move successfully through the Legislature,” Leno said in an interview. “The only way we may have to change these secrecy laws would be to go to the ballot.”

He could try to put his proposal before voters in 2018 to coincide with the next governor’s race. … Because Leno will soon be termed out of office, he will not be able to reintroduce the legislation.

Leno’s bill was opposed by cop unions and their supporters. No surprise there, but check out what a representative of the Police Officers Research Association said about this latest idea, according to KQED:

“Several law enforcement lobbying organizations opposed his bill. Leaders of the Peace Officers Research Association, a labor group representing police officers, said the proposal would harm public safety and allow criminals to publicly attack the reputation of good police officers.”

ABA raves about Merrick Garland, says he 'may be the perfect human being,' Republicans unmoved

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 17:01
Goal Thermometer

The American Bar Association has given Merrick Garland a perfect score, its highest possible rating as a prospective Supreme Court Justice. The superlatives coming from the group are unbelievable.

To describe the ABA's endorsement as glowing would be an understatement.

“He may be the perfect human being,” one anonymous legal professional told the ABA in evaluating Garland's integrity.

“He will fit in so perfectly on the Supreme Court,” another evaluation raved. In keeping with the "perfect" theme, other lawyers praised his "perfect temperament" and described him as a "perfectionist in his written work." The ABA's endorsement was based on confidential interviews of private practice lawyers, law professors, and state and federal judges.

So of course the Republicans don't believe it. Or at least are pretending like they don't. They remain committed to this blockade. There is no nominee they'd accept, because it's not about the nominee. It's about thwarting this president. For that, they should pay dearly in November.

Please donate $3 today to help turn the Senate blue and demote Mitch McConnell.

Groups target Pat Toomey's votes to defund Planned Parenthood

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 15:52
Goal Thermometer

Emily's List and Planned Parenthood released a new ad Thursday that takes on GOP Sen. Pat Toomey for his votes last year to defund Planned Parenthood and shut down the government. The GOP votes were all part of the effort to deprive the women’s health organization of federal funding following the release of misleading videos by conservative anti-abortion activists. Lisa Hagen reports:

The ad buy from Emily's List is $1.1 million, and its TV spot will air on broadcast and cable in the Philadelphia media market. Planned Parenthood Votes & Action Fund’s $250,000 ad buy is a digital ad that will also run in Philadelphia. The ads will run from Thursday until July 13.

The 30-second TV spot, titled “Alive,” features Mary Lou Magyarits, a breast cancer survivor from Pennsylvania, who highlights the importance of screenings to detect cancer early. She said she was “outraged” by Toomey’s Planned Parenthood vote.

Please donate $3 to help turn the Senate blue. The future of the Supreme Court depends on it.

Watch the video below.

PPP: 'Richard Burr's the most vulnerable Republican Senator that no one’s talking about'

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 15:30
Goal Thermometer

Look out, Sen. Richard Burr. Democrat Deborah Ross is nipping at your heels. From Public Policy Polling:

We continue to find him with just a narrow lead over Deborah Ross for reelection—40/37, with Libertarian Sean Haugh at 5%. The overall state of the race remains steady—Burr is unpopular, with only 30% of voters approving of the job he's doing to 40% who disapprove. That makes voters open to a change. But Ross is currently unknown with 62% of voters having no opinion about her one way or another. They're open to the possibility of replacing Burr but don't know enough about Ross yet to decide if they think she would be an upgrade.

“Richard Burr’s the most vulnerable Republican Senator that no one’s talking about,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “His numbers aren’t any better than those of folks like Pat Toomey and Rob Portman who are widely accepted to be facing tough reelections.”

That puts Ross within the 3.2 percent margin of error in this poll. Helping Ross, PPP says, are a couple of things: Strong support for gun measures in the state, as well as opposition to the Republicans' Supreme Court blockade. According to this poll, 85 percent of voters support background checks on all gun purchases, and 81 percent support closing the terror gap. "It's very rare," the polling memo says, "to see such strong bipartisan support on any contentious issue." What's more, "North Carolinians also support an assault weapons ban, 52/34."

Fifty-six percent think there should be hearings on Merrick Garland's nomination, and 19 percent say they're less likely to vote for a candidate who's opposed to having hearings. Oh, and one other thing—73 percent of the voters want the minimum wage increased to at least $10 an hour. Richard Burr, needless to say, is on the wrong side of his constituency on these pretty darned key issues. 

Please spend $3 to help Deborah Ross get to the Senate.

Pelosi: 'We are stepping into a new world' on gun safety advocacy

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 15:09

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, clearly exhausted from lack of sleep, was unsparing Thursday in her assessment of the Republican majority's response to the Democratic sit-in for gun safety. 

"Republicans turned off the microphones, we raised our voices. They turned off the cameras, we went to Periscope," she said during her weekly press conference. “They tried to shut down the discussion and what resulted was a discussion heard round the world." In fact, #NoBillNoBreak trended on Twitter not only nationally but internationally Wednesday. 

Pelosi said the country was "stepping into a new world" on the issue of gun safety due to a "widening universe of advocates." She skewered the "radical and reckless" Zika bill Republicans finally passed before skipping town, not to mention the "highly unusual" procedural move they used to pass it: "I've never seen that happen."

Finally, Pelosi promised action on gun safety and left all options on the table, saying, "We cannot stop until we get a bill. [...] Stay tuned." 

Read extended excerpts and watch a video clip below.

No, conservative whiners, C-SPAN doesn't hate you

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 14:35

This is just pathetic.

When C-SPAN's TV cameras in the U.S. House chamber went out on Wednesday, producers did what resourceful, 21st century newspeople at any other station would have done: They turned to streaming Internet video—Facebook Live and the smartphone app Periscope, to be specific—to continue covering an important story. […]

C-SPAN's decision to work around the rules and show the sit-in was—rather predictably—viewed by some as a sign of political bias. When Republicans held a sit-in in 2008 to protest high gas prices, C-SPAN cameras also went dark; carrying a Periscope feed wasn't an option back then.

Just to be clear, that Republican protest in 2008 was on behalf of Big Oil. It wasn't about high gas prices—it was about trying to open up more offshore drilling. (Kind of telling contrast there, no? Big Oil versus thousands of murdered people.) 

Had Periscope or Facebook Live existed in 2008, and had any Republican member been smart enough to know how to use it, C-SPAN probably would have shown it. Because it's their job to cover Congress. That's exactly what they were doing.

You weenies.

Trump claims he'd be the fittest president ever, because of course he's lying about that too

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 14:24

Seeing this picture earlier today kinda shocked me:

  Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to What a Don Trump looks like.

Now, under usual conditions, I wouldn’t compare Donnie Trump’s physique to Barack Obama’s. Why would I? Except that Trump himself couldn’t stop bragging about himself and his stellar health. Remember when his doctor, maybe named “John Smith,” wrote the following?

Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results. Actually his blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent … HIs physical strength and stamina are extraordinary ...His cardiovascular status is excellent …

If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency. 

“Astonishingly excellent.” “Extraordinary.” “Healthiest individual ever.” Unequivocally! 

Of course, Dr. Miller (or was it Dr. Barron?) has examined every president ever elected to the presidency, so he should know! I mean, GENERAL George Washington, fresh from fighting a goddam war, was a piece of shit compared to the Donnster. But we don’t even need to go back hundreds of years. We don’t even have to go back a single year. I know Donald Trump is the bestest and the yuuugest and the amazing-est and the most extraordinary-est person ever to have lived. But making his doctor write that shit when it’s so easily disproved by simple pictures is the height of stupidity.

Of course, when Trump is involved, the “height of stupidity” is par for the course. 

p.s. More Obama fitness. And W. was more fit than Trump. 

Progressive congressional Democrats discuss treating Exxon and Big Oil like the 'new tobacco'

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 14:02

By now you’ve probably heard the story first dug out last year in a terrific series by the Pulitzer prize-winning InsideClimate News. ICN learned that Exxon’s own scientists knew global warming was a byproduct of burning fossil fuels nearly 40 years ago. Not only did the company’s executives cover this up, but they also poured money into climate denial propaganda and, later, smearing climatologists. This was similar to what Big Tobacco did: Lied about tobacco’s effects, smeared scientists who said otherwise, and continued to market their lethal product with particular emphasis on getting kids hooked on cigarettes. 

At a forum Wednesday co-sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, participants discussed the theme of “Oil Is The New Tobacco.” 

Zoë Carpenter at The Nation covered it:

 “Just like RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris before them, Exxon Mobile said one thing in public, and something else in private,” testified Naomi Oreskes, a professor at Harvard and co-author of a history of climate skepticism called Merchants of Doubt. Oreskes traced the history of climate change denial back to the late 1980s, to a Washington-based think tank, the George C Marshall Institute, founded by a former tobacco industry consultant. The institute applied the “tobacco strategy” to block action on climate, producing reports that challenged the scientific consensus around global warming. Exxon became a major funder of the institute and other denial groups in the 1990s, and played a “leading” role in the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group created “with a specific goal of preventing the US Congress from signing the Kyoto protocol,” Oreskes recounted. While Exxon claims it’s stopped funded such groups, Oreskes pointed out that it’s still a member of three trade associations that advocate against climate action: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Chamber of Commerce, and the American Petroleum Institute.

The forum adds to the pressure Exxon is already under from the 17 state Attorneys General who’ve opened investigations into whether the company deliberately misled investors about the risks of climate change. The prosecutors have issued subpoenas requesting numerous financial records and other documents, modeling their efforts on the litigation against tobacco companies, which was also led by state attorneys general and resulted in a $200 billion settlement. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice, which won its own racketeering suit against the tobacco companies, has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into Exxon’s behavior. Congressional hearings were a key part of efforts to hold Big Tobacco accountable, too; but with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, Wednesday’s forum may be as close to an official hearing as is possible.

Midday open thread: In test, Sweden opens world's first electric highway; Iwo Jima ID corrected

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 14:01

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is Finding Dory: The Republican story:

 The Republican story

We haven’t come close to fully exploring the oceans, but we’re done a good job of polluting them to the deepest depths: University of Aberdeen scientists have found pollutants in the bodies of amphipods more than 5,000 fathoms deep in the Mariana Trench. Among them: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are known carcinogens, neurotoxins, and hormone disrupters. They have been banned by the United States and many other countries for 40 years. But the scientists think high concentrations in the trench are a consequence of plastic manufacturing in Asia where they aren’t banned. Also found were polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are found in flame retardants. The fear is that these pollutants could disrupt the trench’s role as a carbon sink.

Results of Britain’s vote on breaking off from the EU could be announced early tonight Eastern Time. Polls indicate a close contest:

Saddest of all the day’s signs of mutual suspicion on Twitter were suggestions by some supporters of Brexit – the campaign to take Britain out of the 28-nationEuropean Union – that supporters take a ballpoint pen to mark their cross. Using the traditional polling booth pencil (it still hangs on a traditional piece of string) might allow Prime Minister David Cameron to find some way of changing your vote from Leave to Remain, they were warned.

South Korean scientists produce solar cell thinner than a human hair: The cells are 1 micrometer thick, which is hundreds of times thinner than most photovoltaic cells and half again as thin as other thin-film PV. They are made with gallium arsenide as the semiconductor. 

Remarkably, they produce roughly as much power as thicker PV cells, though in testing, "the cells could wrap around a radius as small as 1.4 millimeters."

With cells this thin, solar PV can be integrated in all sorts of "wearables" — clothes, glasses, hats, or backpacks with solar cells integrated, continuously feeding power to our portable electronics. More to the point, PV could be integrated into just about anything.

Marine identified for 70 years in iconic Iwo Jima photo turns out to have been someone else.

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this explains everything pic.twitter.com/5zTalthk9b

— sean. (@SeanMcElwee) June 23, 2016

Melting Arctic ice still on track to reach lowest level in satellite record by end of summer.

Sweden opens first electric highway. It’s a short stretch, just 13 miles, designed to test out the ability to provide electricity to heavy transport:

[The road] is fitted with power lines overhead, developed by Siemens, providing electricity to hybrid trucks. The system works like a tram system. A current collector on the trucks will transfer energy from the power lines to the trucks’ hybrid electric motors, Sputnik News reported. The electric lines help trucks operate longer between recharges.

“Electric roads will bring us one step closer to fossil fuel-free transports, and has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions,” Lena Erixon, director general of transport authority Trafikverket, said.

White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett makes clear administration wants a renewed assault weapons ban: Chances of getting that through Congress when universal background checks can’t make it would seem to make this a goal for after the election when the congressional margins could shift significantly given the drag Donald Trump may have on down-ticket races.

• On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, the House sit-in continues. Greg Dworkin reminds us these things don’t just spring up from nowhere. Donald Trump is still a developer at heart, by which we mean a grubby cheater. Red flags raised on Patrick Murphy. Jane Kleeb wins the NE Dem Chair.

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How Paul Ryan responded to Democrats' gun safety demand: With poisoned partisanship

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 13:44
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House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to break the House Democrats' sit-in for gun safety legislation Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday with the worst, most partisan votes he could come up with. This included a supposed House/Senate agreement on Zika funding—which included the agreement of absolutely no Democrats. 

His first volley was to try to break them with a vote to override a veto of their legislation to end the fiduciary rule. Okay, so what's the fiduciary rule? That's the new Department of Labor rule that keeps big banks from ripping off senior citizens. Literally. The big vote Ryan came up with to try to stop this historic protest from Democrats was on behalf of big banks who want to continue to take seniors’ money. Insanely tone deaf.

But it got worse! He came back to pass the supposed Zika (and other stuff) funding bill and adjourn the House for its Fourth of July recess (yes, it is still only June). This is supposed to be a larger funding agreement from the House and the Senate, worked out in conference. Democrats on the conference committee abandoned it on Wednesday because Republicans refused to back down on their proposals for the Zika funding.

Those proposals include cutting funds for Obamacare, taking more than $100 million from the Ebola emergency fund, and blocking any funds "from going to Planned Parenthood for birth control services for women at risk of becoming infected with the virus." So women who fear they have been exposed to or are at risk of Zika infection can't get birth control to prevent getting pregnant with a baby who may be horribly, fatally deformed.

That's not all, of course.

How many times must it be said? White supremacy is deadly

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 13:30

It was reported by Daily Kos and others that Thomas Mair, suspected of assassinating British member of Parliament Jo Cox on June 16, was an avowed white supremacist known to have ties with a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance. In a letter published in the group’s magazine, Mair wrote, “I still have faith that the White Race will prevail, both in Britain and in South Africa.” That’s really not surprising. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has noted that the National Alliance has long flown under the radar of U.S. media, which also isn’t surprising.

What should be of note is how Mair’s assassination of Cox occurred during the one-year anniversary of the massacre at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Long a fixture in Charleston’s African-American community, it was one year ago that 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the church and, after asking for the pastor and then joining him and a small group of parishioners in Bible study, shot the pastor and eight other members of the church, killing them all. Roof’s social media profile showed him at times proudly displaying the Confederate flag, but also wearing a jacket with the flags of South Africa and Rhodesia, known today as Zimbabwe.

Both Mair and Roof expressed support for white-ruled “homelands,” and specifically the white-ruled “utopia” of South Africa. During the Apartheid era, South Africa was far from a utopia. But it was known all over the world for the ability of its white minority to keep the country’s black majority subjugated through horrific, brutal violence.

On second thought, that probably is a kind of “utopia” for white racists.

Nazi and neo-Nazi groups as well as Ku Klux Klan groups and their offshoots are primarily ridiculed when they are covered in U.S. media. And white males such as Roof and Mair who ascribe to their philosophies and ways of life are usually not labeled as the white supremacist terrorists that they are. Instead they’re usually given the descriptors of “loner,” their actions are blamed on “mental illness.” Such descriptors show a tendency toward liberalism and a refusal on the part of whites to condemn one of their own.