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Eclipse

New moon solar eclipse in Gemini today at 5:03 PM.

Christie style

Using a state helicopter to go to your kid’s baseball game? Thrifty!

I especially liked the fact that he had a car drive him 100 yards to the field:

The helicopters are designed for law enforcement, emergency medical transportation and homeland security duties, said Paul Loriquet, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office. Helicopters not outfitted specifically for medical use can also be used to ferry executives, he said.
Loriquet said the contract for the helicopters was signed in 2009 during the Corzine administration.

He did not have a cost per hour for the choppers. When former Gov. James E. McGreevey reimbursed the state for using choppers for political use in 2002, it was at a rate of $1,200 an hour.

And speaking of water

Did you know that George W. Bush exempted fracking from the Safe Srinking Water Act? We might have guessed.

The good news is, New York’s new Attorney General is going after the fracking industry.

Water rights

Isn’t this bizarre? And as water becomes scarce, I predict it won’t be long until you see the same thing here in the Northeast. Corporations in several areas have already tried to negotiate rights to selling drinking water as a commodity.

People get confused: The water bill you pay now is an assessment for water treatment, not the actual water itself. Eventually our drinking water will be metered, just like electricity:

As bizarre as it sounds, laws restricting property owners from “diverting” water that falls on their own homes and land have been on the books for quite some time in many Western states. Only recently, as droughts and renewed interest in water conservation methods have become more common, have individuals and business owners started butting heads with law enforcement over the practice of collecting rainwater for personal use.

Check out this YouTube video of a news report out of Salt Lake City, Utah, about the issue. It’s illegal in Utah to divert rainwater without a valid water right, and Mark Miller of Mark Miller Toyota, found this out the hard way.

After constructing a large rainwater collection system at his new dealership to use for washing new cars, Miller found out that the project was actually an “unlawful diversion of rainwater.” Even though it makes logical conservation sense to collect rainwater for this type of use since rain is scarce in Utah, it’s still considered a violation of water rights which apparently belong exclusively to Utah’s various government bodies.

I know wars have been fought over water rights in the West, but it does seem they need to update those laws to deal with the present reality. It’s even stranger in light of laws that permit property owners to produce harmful amounts of stormwater runoff onto their neighbors’ properties.

Back

Was having an internet connectivity issue that’s fixed now.

Fund Drive

Brother, can you spare a time? Progressive bloggers like me put in an enormous amount of effort into bringing you the news so often obscured or omitted from the corporate media. Is that worth something to you? If it is, and you can afford to do so, please make a donation!

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Do-Over

In an odd turn of events, it looks like the federal judge who ruled that corporations could give directly to candidates might want to revoke his ruling. It appears that he was unaware of a Supreme Court ruling on the same issue:

James C. Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia indicated in an order issued Tuesday that he’s considering whether his ruling ignored Supreme Court rulings in 2003 (FEC v. Beaumont) and 1997 (Agostini v. Felton) which upheld the ban on corporate donations.

Cacheris requested that both federal prosecutors and lawyers representing two businessmen whoallegedly reimbursed their employees’ donations to Hilary Clinton file briefings on his decision by 5 p.m. Wednesday. He wants the briefings to be less than 10-pages in length and has scheduled a court hearing for Friday morning.

The judge based his 52-page ruling last week on the Supreme Court’s more recent decision in theCitizens United case.

“For better or worse, Citizens United held that there is no distinction between an individual and a corporation with respect to political speech,” Cacheris had written. “Thus, if an individual can make direct contributions within [campaign finance] limits, a corporation cannot be banned from doing the same thing.”But his decision appears to have ignored a 2003 Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice David Souter, which held that “applying the prohibition to nonprofit advocacy corporations is consistent with the First Amendment.”

Wrote Souter: “not only has the original ban on direct corporate contributions endured, but so have the original rationales for the law. In barring corporate earnings from conversion into political “war chests,” the ban was and is intended to “preven[t] corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

John Bryson

When Obama announced this guy as his nominee for Commerce secretary, I knew his name sounded familiar – and not in a good way. I thought he had something to do with California energy scam, and he did. Your corporate media, of course, is describing him as an “environmentalist”:

Throughout most of the California electricity “crisis,” it has been difficult to find a story in the mainstream media that didn’t rely on one or more of these myths. The New York Times (1/25/01) summed up the inaccurate conventional wisdom: “Demand for electricity outpaced older power plants, while a botched experiment with partial price deregulation and longstanding environmental opposition combined to create disincentives to build new power plants or create cheaper wholesale prices through competition.”

Though it’s seldom noted in media accounts, California’s deregulation scheme was not forced upon the electric utilities, but was the brainchild of John Bryson, head of Southern California Edison. In 1996, Bryson’s attorneys drafted the current deregulation law (AB 1890), which was presented to and passed by the legislature within three weeks. Its premise was simple: If the ratepayers would hand the utilities up to $28.5 billion for nuclear reactor investments they said were “uncompetitive,” the utilities would give up their regulated monopolies and “compete” with other power producers.

One might expect the mastermind of California’s disastrous electrical experiment to be scrutinized by the press corps, but major media have given Bryson a facile free pass. “Everyone agrees there are no heroes in this California power crisis, and that it was brought on by good intentions and some bonehead decisions,” NBC’s Tom Brokaw began as he interviewed Bryson (1/26/01). But “bonehead” is far too kind a word for Bryson, who Brokaw described as “caught in the middle” of the crisis. In fact, as the key force behind the deregulation law, Bryson has been a major perpetrator.

After triumphing over Proposition 9, a 1998 ballot initiative backed by public interest and environmental groups that sought to roll back some of the deregulation scheme, Bryson and other utility leaders made a crucial miscalculation that has opened the door to a second mega-ripoff: They failed to freeze wholesale rates, which were deregulated in the early 1990s.

In the summer of 2000, the second shoe dropped: In a series of suspicious coincidences, a wave of shortages suddenly hit the California grid. Consumer prices in San Diego skyrocketed (the freeze there had been lifted because the local utility had received its full bailout). In the rest of the state, the utilities were caught in a vice of their own making, forced to sell power to consumers at frozen rates while being gouged by the power producers federal bureaucrats were refusing to regulate.

It was here that national media chimed in. The crisis, they said in virtual unison, was caused by a massive rise in electric demand, by the refusal of the environmental community to allow new power plants to be built, and by the cap on consumer rates which had been forced on the hapless utilities by a demanding public.

Of course.

Minimum wage

This is only news to the members of the elite.

Dilemma

I had no idea that we signed a treaty decades ago that said Japan’s spent nuclear fuel rods would be stored here. Oops!

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