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Kennedy Offers Solutions to Oil Crisis on “Larry King Live”

KENNEDY OFFERS SOLUTIONS TO OIL CRISIS ON “LARRY KING LIVE”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live last night to weigh in on the nation’s oil crisis. (Note to CNN producers: booking RFK Jr. on the same show with John Stossel and Chevron’s David O’Reilly was a stroke of genius!).

It was a downright combustible debate. Kennedy certainly held his own and seemed to be the only panelist offering any real common sense solutions to the only question on the minds of many Americans this summer: how the hell do we get these gas prices down NOW?

If you missed the broadcast, here’s a partial transcript. (Full transcript is available here)

RFK JR. TO LARRY KING: “OUR CONGRESS IS BRAIN DEAD”

CNN “Larry King Live” Transcript

Aired June 30, 2008 – 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, crisis. Gas today reaches historic highs. Out of control prices have a death grip on millions, putting the squeeze on consumers, threatening the American way of life, forcing decisions no one should have to make. Eating or filling the tank? We’ll take tough questions to the head of an oil super giant and demand answers as struggle and sacrifice consume the country. Pain and panic at the pump, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. The national average for a gallon of gas is $4.09, with consumers in 33 states paying that or more. Gas prices have risen almost 3 percent in the last month, almost 38 percent higher than a year ago. Oil prices passed a record $143 a barrel for a time today. We’ll go live to gas stations all across the country tonight.

…Joining us now, David O’Reilly, chairman and CEO of Chevron. He’s here in Los Angeles. And in New York, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., senior attorney, National Resource Defense Counsel.

Robert, what do you make overall of what David O’Reilly has stated so far?

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. ATTORNEY: Well if the solution to this issue which he suggested is really on the demand side. It’s not about drilling offshore, which even the president has said the White House energy advisory administration has said that’s not even going to touch our problems. We won’t get the first oil from offshore until 2020 and we’ll have an insignificant impact on prices in this country. We don’t even know whether it’s going to be sold in this country.

First of all, even if we drilled every bit of oil on all of our public lands in Alaska, it’s less than 3 percent of proven global reserves. We’re using less than 25 percent of proven oil reserves in our country in our oil. So we can’t drill our way out of the problem.

The issue is a demand issue. We need to change demand and we do that by changing to other sources of to wind, to solar, to geothermal, to tidal and conservation.

The fastest way for us to solve our energy problems in this country is immediate conservation. If we improve fuel economy standards in our automobiles by one mile per gallon, we generate twice the oil that’s in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If we raise fuel economy standards by 7.6 miles per gallon, we can yield more oil than we are currently importing from the Persian Gulf. We are borrowing.

KING: Hold it right there, Robert. David?

O’REILLY: Well, I agree, that first of all efficiency is the very first thing we ought to be working on. And there are new cafe standards in place that will obligate the automobile manufacturers to be more efficient and in fact you can see a shift already towards more efficient cars.

KING: Is he right?

O’REILLY: Well I disagree on the point of oil exploration. We’ve gone from 9 million barrels a day of production in this country to 5 million over the last 20 years. We are more and more dependent on that imported oil. We are going to have to use some oil in our transportation system during the next 20 or 30 years while some of this transition is taking place. It would be much better for us to develop it here at home rather than be dependant on imports that are coming extremely strained because of the demand in the rest of the world.

KING: Robert?

KENNEDY: Well, let me say this. I’m involved with a company called Better Place, which made a proposal a couple years ago to Israel to get Israel completely off of gasoline cars within three years. And Israel is going to do that. Within three years, they will be off of gasoline automobiles.

We can do that in this country, too, using shifting to electricity and electricity gives us a lot more versatility, it allows us to harness wind. We have — the Midwest this is the Saudi Arabia of wind. We have enough harnessable wind energy in North Dakota, Kansas and Texas combined to supply all the electrical needs of our country, even if every American were driving an electric car.

We have the “Scientific American” just published a report that shows in 19 percent of the most barren desert lands in the desert southwest, we have enough solar energy to provide all the electrical needs of our country. KING: David?

KENNEDY: What we need now is a national policy that say, OK, let’s go out and get those electrons and get them into the marketplace, let’s have a premarket economy.

KING: Wouldn’t that put you out of business, David?

O’REILLY: It won’t. I’m confident it won’t. But I encourage all these alternatives.

I think there’s room for all of them. I’m very concerned because the reality is today that these alternatives are a very small percentage. And just like it takes a long time to drill an offshore well, it takes a long time to find and develop and put in the sort of equipment that Mr. Kennedy is talking about.

What bothers me about this is everyone portrays it as an either/or debate. It’s not and either/or debate. It’s an and. We need alternative and we need efficiency and we need conventional oil and gas.

KING: We’ve got a call from Eureka, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry, thanks for taking my call. And for Bobby Jr., I think your uncle, JFK was a good president and your father was a good guy. My question is to the oil guy. How much money does his oil company make off these ridiculous gas prices and I also blame the Congress for not doing anything.

KING: What does Chevron make?

O’REILLY: Well as I mentioned earlier in the first quarter, we made $5 billion, which is 7 percent of sales and exactly the median for all of the industry.

KING: Twenty years ago, 7 percent?

O’REILLY: Yes, about 7 percent of sales.

KING: So the percentage doesn’t change?

O’REILLY: The percentage has been about the same. You’ve got to keep in mind that as the revenues are going up, the costs are also going up. So it’s not as if this is all going to the bottom line.

KING: Do you agree, Bobby, that is there some misconceptions over this? That a lot of this perception is wrong, that what seems like billions is really not billions?

KENNEDY: Well I really think that they talk windfall profit tax, whether it’s good thing or it’s a bad thing, it’s not a long-term energy policy. What we need is really a long-term — and drilling off the coast is not a long-term energy policy. What we need is an energy policy. Today, Larry, we are borrowing a billion dollars a day mainly from countries that don’t like us to import oil from countries that don’t like us.

When I was a little boy, our country owned half the wealth on the face of the earth. We are now transferring that wealth at a historic rate to other countries, again, mainly nations that don’t like us. We have solutions.

Unfortunately, we have a Congress that’s really brain dead. I’ll tell you something that the Congress did today. First of all, they killed the investment tax credits for solar and wind which are absolutely vital to the growth of this burgeoning industry.

Second of all, today, Congress and the White House declared a moratorium, a two year moratorium on any solar plants being built on federal lands while they study supposedly the environmental impact. This is an administration that is opening up —

KING: I have to get a break, Robert. You want to comment, quickly?

O’REILLY: Well first of all, I think if we are concerned about the billions of dollars going overseas, couldn’t we shut some off by developing more of our oil here? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? I think this idea —

KENNEDY: Can I answer that?

O’REILLY: Certainly.

KING: Do it quickly, I’ve got to get a break.

KENNEDY: It’s 2 percent of the oil, it’s 2 percent of global reserves. It’s going to do nothing. If we develop those 2 percent of global reserves, all the Saudis have to do is drop their production 2 percent. We don’t even know that oil is coming here. Are you going to guarantee if you get those oil leases that they’re going to come to the United States?

O’REILLY: These oil leases are in the United States.

KENNEDY: I know they’re here. But you’re not going to sell the oil here. You don’t have to sell the oil here.

O’REILLY: That’s the most ridiculous.

KENNEDY: I know it’s going to benefit you, but I don’t see how it will benefit the people of the United States.

O’REILLY: It is going to benefit the people of the United States and it’s far better to produce it here at home, where we don’t have to go overseas, we don’t have to send that money out of the country. It’s a far better value.

KING: We have to get a break, guys. Can either of the presidential candidates do anything about the price of oil? Supporters of each make the case next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

“OUR ADDICTION TO OIL IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST DRAG ON AMERICAN CAPITALISM” – RFK JR.

…KING: We’re back. Remaining, David O’Reilly and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Joining us now in New York is John Stossel, the co-anchor of ABC’s “20-20,” and in Jacksonhole, Wyoming, Governor Bryan Schweitzer, Democrat of Montana. He’s in Wyoming for the Western Governor’s Conference. I understand, Governor Schweitzer, you think the solution to the energy crisis is coal?

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: That’s one of them. We need to produce American energy designed by American engineers and built by American workers. This is an energy source that could be exported all over the world. We can use coal. We have nearly an infinite supply of coal. But coal has a problem with carbon dioxide. We need to sequester the carbon dioxide. We have win power. We have solar power. We do have oil. We have oil shale.

We need multiple platforms in this country. But it doesn’t make sense to me to continue to drill in the third world and send 400 billion dollars a year to these dictators who would like to destroy our way of life. In America, we can produce our own energy system. We can produce the cars that run on electricity. And then those cars can be exported all over the world. We’ll produce electricity with wind and solar. Those cars will have batteries, so whenever the wind is blowing, whenever the sun is shining, they will store that energy. And the first 50 or 60 miles will be on electricity. After that, they’ll run on oil or some kind of gasoline.

Point is, we could eliminate all of our import needs. This is not like splitting the atom in the Manhattan Project. We already have this technology. We have an infinite capacity of producing energy. What we have is lack of leadership in Washington D.C.

KING: John Stossel, what do you make of this whole oil debate?

JOHN STOSSEL, ABC’S “20-20”: I think a lot of it is silly. I think we have an energy policy in America and the world and it’s called the free market. When oil is above 100 dollars a barrel, coal, as he’s saying, becomes viable. We don’t need Washington to do it. It’s a fatal conceit to say the politicians can lead this. Higher prices will lead to alternatives.

KING: How do I put coal in my gas tank?

STOSSEL: You won’t have to. They’ll refine it and make it into oil.

KING: They’ll do that?

STOSSEL: Yes. Governor Schweitzer can tell you all about that.

KING: You’re not troubled then by five dollars a gallon?

STOSSEL: Of course I’m troubled. It seems a little excessive when it costs twice that in some countries. I think these oil companies are heroes. Think what it takes to bring this stuff to us, across an ocean, refine it into three types of gasoline, put it in trucks that cost 100,000 dollars each, ship that to gasoline stations that have to have this expensive equipment so we don’t blow ourselves up pumping our own gas. It still costs less per ounce than the bottled water they sell at some of these gas stations.

KING: David, makes you feel good?

O’REILLY: That’s nice to hear someone on our side.

KING: Robert, would you elaborate a little what you said a little earlier about offshore drilling and going over seas with it?

KENNEDY: One of the points Mr. O’Reilly made and Mr. Stossel has made a lot is that it’s safe for us to drill offshore. Chevron is the biggest producer of oil in Cook Inlet in Alaska and it dumps billions and billions of gallons of highly toxic production waste every year into Cook Inlet. It has contaminated the salmon stocks. It has contaminated the beluga whales. We have the technology to reinject those wastes, but they’re not doing it. Now, they’re saying we should open up Florida and we should open up California and the offshore places there, and we’re going to do it right.

The other point I would make is what John Stossel is saying, a free market would be good. We don’t have a free market in the energy industry. Everybody knows that. We give a trillion a year in subsidies, direct and indirect subsidies, to oil, and somewhere near a trillion dollars to coal. We also — nuclear energy is also highly subsidized. If we had a real free market that does what a market is supposed to do, which is to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior and inefficiency, wind, solar, geothermal and tidal would easily triumph in the marketplace. You would see them immediately taking over the marketplace. The biggest impediment is these huge subsidies we’re pouring into incumbents.

KING: Governor, is he right?

SCHWEITZER: He’s partially right. Frankly, we had a one plank energy project in this country, and it’s been about oil. There was a little problem back in 1948, when we started importing more than we were exporting. It got to be a bigger problem and we complained when we got to 50 percent of oil. Then we complained at 55. Now, we’re at 65 percent of our oil that is imported.

Look, you can not trust the multi-national oil companies just to do business with dictators around the oil. If Chevron would like to drill some oil, come to Montana. You don’t have a single well in Montana and yet, we have one of the largest new discoveries in the continental United States. We could have as many as 15 billion barrels in a single formation and yet Chevron has not built a well in Montana.

STOSSEL: If they could find it in Montana, they would go to Montana.

SCHWEITZER: The independents are drilling it, not be multi- nationals.

KING: Got to get a break. Want to save money on energy, we’ll show you some alternatives, I hope, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: An e-mail for David O’Reilly from Bruce in Montana; “do you ever foresee the day when Chevron will make more profits by selling alternative fuel that is better for the global economy or will fossil fuel always be number one for money?”

O’REILLY: I think fossil fuel will be the predominant energy source for the next generation or so. If you wind back to — my grandkids were born in the first decade of this century. By the time they’re my age and beyond, I think the energy system will be quite different and maybe it will be.

KING: John Stossel, is Robert Kennedy right, this is not a free market if they’re subsidized?

STOSSEL: Yes. It’s wrong that there are all these subsidies. We should have a free market. But even without the subsidies, these alternatives are just not going to make much of a dent for a long time. They just are much too expensive. It’s interesting that Mr. Kennedy says he wants wind power, but he objects to a wind farm off his family’s compound on Cape Cod.

KING: Robert, can you quickly answer that? I got to talk to the head of AAA.

KENNEDY: On that issue, on Cape Wind, I have no objection to Cape Wind. I support that wind farm. I just think they should move it away from the fishing grounds, because it’s going to put out of business every fishermen on the Cape.

On the answer that wind and solar and the renewables can’t compete, that’s completely wrong. Look at the nations that have de- carbonized their economy. In 1970, Iceland was the poorest country in Europe. It was 100 percent dependent on imported coal and oil. They said, we’re not going to do this anymore. It switched. Today, it’s the fourth richest country in the world.

Our addiction to oil is the single biggest drag on American capitalism. As soon as we can get off of it, and we can get off of it very quickly, much quicker than these people are saying, our economy is going to explode.

Transcript courtesy of CNN.com.

 

 

 

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Filed under climate change, election 2008, environment, global warming, impeach Bush, JFK, John F. Kennedy, media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., texas, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Kennedy on “Fox and Friends” 6/18

WELL, THAT WAS INTERESTING

This report comes to us from Deborah at News Hounds. They watch Fox so you don’t have to!

Mike Gallagher Can’t Keep Up with RFK Jr. on Fox

Only FOX News would think of pairing Robert Kennedy Jr. and Mike Gallagher for a debate on energy issues. Yesterday morning (June 18, 2008), FOX Friends were buzzing about John McCain’s recent flip flop on offshore drilling and a Rasmussen poll saying 67% favor off shore drilling. Instead of having Kennedy on as an informed voice on this issue, they decided to cloud the issue with the help of uninformed right wing talker, Mike Gallagher.

Kennedy explained that all the proposed domestic drilling would only produce 2% of the needed oil. He noted that a better alternative would be reducing consumption. He made the important point that a one mile per gallon change would generate more oil than could be drained from ANWR.

Mike Gallagher jumped in with a typical radio talking point calling Kennedy’s suggestion a “warm and fuzzy bromide.” He claimed 2% was “huge” and repeated the daily mantra that 67% want drilling off shore.Kennedy informed viewers that although off shore drilling should be a states rights issue, California experienced an oil spill creating a huge disaster for the state.

When Gallagher challenged him on nuclear energy, Kennedy made the point that the nuclear industry can’t get insurance because the power plants are too unsafe. Gallagher’s only response was to attack with the same tired points using terms like “global warming crowd” and even bringing up “polar bears”.

After the debate, a clip about air cars was shown and Alisyn Camerota called them “ugly” and quipped about air power, “How great! There seems to be a lot of that around here. I mean hot air.” Then she made this unenlightened observation about the air cars. ” Not going to pick up chicks in that car.”

Oh, but it gets snarkier still. Now, check out Mike Gallagher’s own version of events on his Townhall.com blog:

Meeting him in the Fox News Channel’s green room before the appearance, I began to have some concerns. I’m the kind of guy who likes to have a little friendly banter, even with someone I disagree with. Mr. Kennedy pretty clearly does not, at least not with me. I asked him how his uncle Ted was doing, joked about us being invited to be on the “early morning” shift that day (our appearance aired at 6:15am), and did everything I could to try and establish that, contrary to the way many liberals believe, a conservative like me doesn’t have any horns or fangs.

He wasn’t buying it.

To describe Mr. Kennedy as aloof might be the understatement of the century. The Kennedy family might be a lot of things, but for RFK, Jr., “warm and fuzzy” doesn’t exactly come to mind.

And the ice didn’t thaw much once we got out onto the set and began the segment. The host directed the first question to him and he launched into a fairly lengthy monologue that reflected his many years of leading the “let’s go green” brigade.

When he got to the part about how the United States should be more like countries like Iceland and Costa Rica in terms of energy conservation, I couldn’t take it any more. As I finally got to speak my mind about the scare tactics of Kennedy’s disciples on the loony left — those who bellow about carbon footprints, a “planet in peril”, the evil Republicans like me who believe in drilling in just about every square inch of our country so that we don’t have to pay 10 dollars a gallon some day — the look of rage on Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s face was priceless.

If I thought he didn’t like me much in the greenroom, he positively loathed me out there in that TV studio.

…And I realized that this is a man who is probably rarely, if ever, challenged in public or private. The global warming hysterics don’t just offer opinions and beliefs about greenhouse gases and the like. These are people who speak as if they belong to a cult.

Yet many of them are hopelessly hypocritical.

As angry as Kennedy was with me, I decided not to remind him of his well-publicized opposition to wind-powered turbines near the Kennedy compound at Cape Cod, Massachusetts because it would spoil the view.

I really thought he might become unhinged.

Funny – to me, it looked like Mike was the one who was about to blow a gasket.

Watch the video on FauxNews and you tell us who-handed-who his hat!

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Filed under climate change, election 2008, environment, global warming, media, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., the kennedys, Uncategorized

More Bush Administration Arrogance

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S UNFIT TO PRINT, EPISODE 3

Hot off the presses…the latest edition of RFK Jr’s “Unearthed” column, for the week ending May 9, 2008.

Here Kennedy covers a vast array of subjects – everything from the Siegleman case to Cheney and Ashcroft’s refusal to testify about U.S. torture tactics; from the head of the EPA being fired for political purposes to depleted uranium being dumped in Idaho; from hundreds of dead ducks turning up in Canada to right-wing talk radio’s domination of the U.S. airwaves; from the oil crisis to American contractors quite literally making out like bandits in Iraq — all with one common thread, the central underlying theme which ties these stories together:

More unprecedented ARROGANCE from the Bush Administration!

In a mad dash to cover their tracks while scooping up all the spoils they can possibly grab before we kick them out of the White House next January, the Bushies seem to be wholly unconcerned with how things look or smell at this point. (A new poll shows that Bush is now the most unpopular president in history, but ask him if he cares.) Yes, they’re openly farting in our faces, and we’re supposed to love it.

Laughing all the way to the bank, these criminals now feel certain that they will never face prosecution or impeachment, so hey – why not take all they can get? After all, we’ve given them a pass, carte blanche’ and a blank check for the past seven years, turning a blind eye to their crimes against humanity. (And that’s not to mention those High Crimes and Misdemeanors.)

So put on your seat belts and gas masks, America. The ride is only going to get rougher and smellier as Bush’s clock runs out.

Did you ever feel like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water as the heat is slowly being turned up hotter and hotter? Well, you know what happens then, don’t you?

We must take a stand. We must stop them before they kill again (looks like you’re next, Iran). We must fight back. We must prosecute. We must stop taking “I don’t recall” for an answer. Because if we don’t, we could all wind up as dead as those Canadian ducks RFK Jr. writes about.

It may be too late to impeach (as our Democratic brethren continue to insist) now, but it’s never too late to try them for war crimes at the Hague.

Oh…and there’s no statute of limitations on murder, either.

UNEARTHED:

NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan De Melle

The Huffington Post

EPA Official Ousted For Offending Dow Chemical

At the request of Dow Chemical, the Bush administration forced out one of its own hand-picked EPA regulators on May 1st because she naively attempted to do her job by enforcing the law against Dow. EPA officials told Mary Gade, the federal agency’s top Midwest regulator to step down from her post or be fired by June 1. Bush appointed Gade in 2006, but Gade ran afoul of the White House when she pressured Dow Chemical to clean up dioxin pollution extending 50 miles downstream from the company’s Michigan headquarters. Dow asked EPA headquarters to intervene. In response EPA chief Stephen Johnson’s top deputies repeatedly grilled Gade about the case. When she refused to lay off Dow, they stripped her of her authority and told her to quit or be fired. “There is no question this is about Dow,” Gade said. “I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I’m proud of what we did.”

Gade was formerly a loyal George W. Bush supporter and adviser. In 2000, she praised then-governor and candidate Bush for his “fresh approach” and “strong leadership.” But her loyalty couldn’t shield her from an administration bent on insulating its chemical industry cronies from public health laws.
Bush’s Misleading Claims About the Arctic Refuge Denied by Federal Officials

President Bush last week repeated his claim that if only Congress had approved his 2002 plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it “would likely mean lower gas prices” today. However, oil industry experts and Bush’s own Energy Department officials say that Bush is greatly exaggerating the theoretical impact that opening the refuge would’ve had on current gas prices. They explained that it takes over a decade to find and develop a new oil field. Furthermore, the oil available in ANWR — even under the most optimistic projections — could supply less than 2% of U.S. demand, an amount that would have a negligible impact on prices at the pump.
Green Construction Could Drastically Slash North American Energy Dependence

Employing existing and emerging green construction practices could cut North America’s deadly fossil fuel dependence faster and more cost-effectively than any other measure, according to a new study by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a panel erected by the United States, Canada and Mexico. Green construction has immediate paybacks, including “reduced energy costs and water costs as well the indoor health environment and increased productivity of the inhabitants of those buildings,” according to John Westeinde, an advisor on the report. The report found that North America’s buildings release more than 2,200 megatons of CO2, or about 35 percent of the continent’s total. If the construction industry rapidly adopted current and emerging green technologies, that number could be cut by 1,700 megatons by 2030, the report found.
Hundreds of Ducks Die at Canadian Oil Sands Mine

Hundreds of ducks made a fatal landing recently in a tailings pond filled with a witch’s brew of oil and toxic sludge at a northern Alberta tar sands mine. Regulators are investigating why Syncrude Canada — the country’s largest tar sands producer — failed to deploy a system designed to scare off waterfowl. Alberta’s tar sands development has been heavily criticized for huge carbon dioxide emissions, destruction of the boreal forest, and the potential for tailing ponds to contaminate local rivers and waterways.

 
Feds Acknowledge Error On Attempts to Muzzle Siegelman

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman, who was falsely imprisoned by Alabama cronies of Karl Rove, and is now released on appeal, was recently placed on a “special offender” list to restrict his right to travel. Siegelman was notified by federal probation officers of the new restriction shortly after he traveled to Washington to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, and appeared on 60 Minutes, the Tavis Smiley Show, and Dan Abrams’ Verdict.

The federal “special offender” designation applies to “Individuals identified or associated with traditional or non-traditional organized crime such as the Mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian gangs, prison gangs, etc., persons identified as potential terrorists, kidnappers, members of a supremacy group, major bookmakers, major drug or weapon traffickers, pornographers, sex offenders, armed bank robbers, offenders of high notoriety, or cases similar nature.”

“This basically means I can’t travel out of Birmingham or Montgomery without a lot of red tape, and long delays. For example to travel in some places requires at least 30 days advance approval,” Siegelman said.

But on May 2, federal court officials acknowledged that they erred in classifying Siegelman as a special offender.

“They made an honest mistake,” Redmond said, acknowledging that the restrictions were illegal. “They were giving him conditions for a special offender under probation. He’s not. He’s pretrial.”
Cheney refuses to cooperate with Congressional Torture Investigation, claiming Congress has no authority over vice-president

The lawyer for U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney said Cheney would refuse to allow David Addington, the vice president’s chief of staff, to testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay. The privilege asserted by Cheney’s office recalls his attempt last year to evade rules for disclosing classified documents by claiming that the vice president’s office is a hybrid branch of government that is neither executive nor legislative.
Ashcroft and Yoo Refuse to Testify About Torture

In another imaginative legal claim with dubious constitutionality, two other witnesses sought by Congressman John Conyers, former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and former U.S. justice department lawyer John Yoo, claim that their involvement in civil lawsuits related to harsh torture allows them to avoid appearing before Congress. “I am aware of no basis for the remarkable claim that pending civil litigation somehow immunizes an individual from testifying before Congress,” Conyers wrote.
Karl Rove Resists Congressional Request to Testify on His Siegelman Mischief

“The House Judiciary Committee threatened last Thursday to subpoena former White House adviser Karl Rove if he does not agree by May 12 to testify about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s corruption case.

“In a letter to Rove’s attorney, committee Democrats called it ‘completely unacceptable’ that the Republican political strategist has rejected the panel’s request for sworn testimony even as he discusses the matter publicly through the media and op-eds and magazine interviews with tame reporters at GQ, and appearances with the administration’s media poodles on Fox News.

On April 7, MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams reported that Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said Rove would agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case.

Ten days later, committee members invited Rove to appear, citing among other things Rove’s interview with GQ magazine. In that interview, Rove hurled insults at CBS News for airing a 60 Minutes segment on the Siegelman case, called his chief accuser a “lunatic” — but didn’t specifically deny any of the accusations.

In an April 29 letter back to the committee, Luskin changed his position[PDF], arguing that Rove would only appear under the following conditions: “Mr. Rove is prepared to make himself available for an interview on this specific issue with Committee staff. Mr. Rove would speak candidly and truthfully about this matter, but the interview would not be transcribed nor would Mr. Rove be under oath.”

 
Hate-filled Right Wing Radio

Racial slurs abound these days on right wing radio, particularly among the right’s leading shock jocks Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage and Lou Dobbs. During his May 5 appearance on FOX News, Rush Limbaugh referred to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who is Hispanic, as a “shoe shine guy.

A 2007 study of talk radio conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the second quarter of 2007, when right wing radio resorted to spreading fear and hatred in order to defeat immigration reform. Immigration was the #1 topic – representing 16% of all airtime on right wing radio – led by Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage. Neal Boortz chipped in too, urging listeners to help defeat “this illegal alien amnesty bill” and “yank out the welcome mat.” Speaking of undocumented immigrants he said, “Give ’em all a little nuclear waste and let ’em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell ’em…it’ll heat tortillas.” Michael Savage encouraged his listeners to “burn a Mexican flag” and to “tell them to go back to where they came from.”

Bigotry and Hatred is Good Business

Propped up by the conservative bias among corporate media barons who control the airwaves, right-wing radio now claims 91 percent of U.S. radio airspace. Salon.com reported that “Talk like Savage’s, or Limbaugh’s or O’Reilly’s, has become routine, even systematic, and certainly a big business. According to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the top five radio station owners that control the 45 most powerful, 50,000-watt or more radio stations broadcast 310 hours of nationally syndicated right-wing talk. But they broadcast only a total of five hours of countervailing talk.” Meanwhile the public popularity of progressive talk is growing.
Thanks to Right-Wing Corporate Owners Right-Wing Hate Talk Dominates Airwaves

While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves. Some key findings:

— In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.

— Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk–10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

— 76 percent of the news/talk programming in the top 10 radio markets is conservative, while 24 percent is progressive.
Bush Is the Least Popular President in History

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of President Bush’s job performance, making him the most unpopular president in modern American history, even less popular than Richard Nixon just prior to his resignation.

“Bush’s approval rating, which stands at 28 percent in our new poll, remains better than the all-time lows set by Harry Truman and Richard Nixon [22 percent and 24 percent, respectively], but even those two presidents never got a disapproval rating in the 70s,” Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director said. “The previous all-time record in CNN or Gallup polling was set by Truman, 67 percent disapproval in January 1952.”

A January poll – conducted on the five-year anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment on board the USS Abraham Lincoln – found the percentage of Americans who think the U.S. is making progress in Iraq stood at 50 percent. That number has since dropped to 39 percent.

 
Radioactive waste being shipped from Kuwait for Disposal in Idaho

6,700 tons of sand contaminated with depleted uranium and lead is currently being shipped by rail from Longview, Washington to a hazardous waste disposal site in Idaho. The radioactive sand – which was shipped from Camp Doha, a U.S. Army Base in Kuwait – was contaminated with uranium after military vehicles and munitions caught fire during the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. The contaminated sand is destined for burial at American Ecology’s dumping grounds in the Owyhee Desert 70 miles southeast of Boise. The Kuwaiti government wanted no part of the waste which it considered a danger to the Kuwaiti people. Kuwait’s Ministry of Defense contracted Texas-based MKM Engineers Inc. to package and transport the waste back to the United States. MKM then subcontracted with American Ecology to dispose the military waste at its Idaho facility.
Whistleblowers Say Private U.S. Contractors Looted, Stole and Ran a Prostitution Ring

In an investigative report largely ignored by the mainstream media, Mother Jones reports the shocking testimony of three whistleblowers who recently appeared before the Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee (DPC). The whistleblowers told the committee that U.S. private contractors routinely looted Iraqi palaces and ministries, stole military equipment, fenced supplies destined for U.S. troops, and even operated a prostitution ring that may have contributed to the death of fellow contractor.

Barry Halley, a former project manager for Worldwide Network Services, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that was working on subcontract for DynCorp, testified that his site manager in Iraq, who he said was employed by a “major defense contractor,” moonlighted as the leader of a prostitution ring serving American contractors in Iraq. The sex business sideline indirectly caused the death of a colleague. “A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission,” he told the committee. “I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by a manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.”

Frank Cassaday, a former contract employee of disgraced Cheney-connected firm KBR told the committee about an ice-stealing operation the company ran “cheating the troops out of ice at the same time that [the foreman in charge was] trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food, and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street.”

Cassaday also detailed how he was jailed in his tent for two days by KBR security and later transferred to a laundry job because he had reported to KBR superiors that his colleagues were stealing equipment from the U.S. military, including refrigerators, artillery round detonators, two rocket launchers, and about 800 rounds of small arms ammunition.

Another KBR whistleblower, Linda Warren, testifying about her time in Baghdad in 2004, said she was shocked by the number of contractors involved in criminal activity. “KBR employees who were contracted to perform construction duties inside palaces and municipal buildings were looting,” she said. “Not only were they looting, but they had a system in place to get contraband out of the country so it could be sold on eBay. They stole artwork, rugs, crystal, and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots.” Like Cassaday, KBR superiors punished Warren for speaking up, taking her vehicle away, monitoring her movements, cutting off her access to phones and the Internet, and ultimately transferring her out of Baghdad.
Iraqi Interpreters Who Helped U.S. Are Being Tossed Under the Bus By Bush Administration

The Bush administration is ignoring the plight of Iraqi interpreters who have risked their lives to provide essential help to U.S. soldiers. Interpreters have been kidnapped, tortured and assassinated by insurgents punishing them for working with the U.S. The Bush administration promised them refugee status to bring them here to safety, but has not delivered, leaving them at lethal risk.
Rockefellers Call on Exxon Mobil to Spend More on Oil Alternatives

Descendants of company founder John D. Rockefeller want Exxon Mobil to spend more money on alternative fuels and bar the CEO from also serving as chairman. Sixteen Rockefeller family members are urging fellow shareholders to support four resolutions on the environment and corporate governance at the company’s May 28 annual meeting.
More Record Profits for Oil Barons

Astounding profits in the oil industry are becoming as routine as the anguished looks of motorists filling up their gas tanks, the AP reports.

ExxonMobil, Shell and BP netted almost $13 million an hour combined in the first quarter amid the steepest increase in oil prices since 2000.

Exxon’s revenue climbed 34 percent to $116.9 billion, but Exxon’s 17 percent profit increase lagged behind the gains of 25 percent and 63 percent by Shell and BP. Chevron put yet another exclamation point on the oil patch’s long run of prosperity Friday with a first-quarter profit of $5.17 billion. That was up 10 percent from net income of $4.72 billion last year.

It was the second-highest quarterly profit in the company’s 129-year history and marked the most money that it has ever made during the January-March period. That puts the No. 2 U.S. oil company on track for its fifth straight year of record earnings.

BP posted a 63 percent surge in first-quarter net profit to $7.6 billion, while Shell reported a 25 percent rise, to a record $9.08 billion. ConocoPhillips reported a 16 percent rise in net income to $4.14 billion. Like BP and Shell, the third biggest U.S. producer far outpaced industry expectations.

Republicans Block Federal Aid to Wind and Solar

Tom Friedman of the New York Times reports:

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.

“It’s a disaster,” says Michael Polsky, founder of Invenergy, one of the biggest wind-power developers in America. “Wind is a very capital-intensive industry, and financial institutions are not ready to take ‘Congressional risk.’ They say if you don’t get the [production tax credit] we will not lend you the money to buy more turbines and build projects.”

If the wind and solar credits expire, said Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the impact in just 2009 would be more than 100,000 jobs either lost or not created in these industries, and $20 billion worth of investments that won’t be made.

While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.

 

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