A valiant effort?

Climate Change

Although they’re locking the barn door after the horse is out:

Democratic senators clocked an all-nighter, working in shifts into Tuesday morning to warn of the devastation from climate change and the danger of inaction.

Addressing a nearly empty chamber and visitor gallery, more than two dozen speakers agreed with each other about the need to act on climate change. Naysayers — Republicans — largely stayed away, arguing hours earlier that regulation would cost Americans jobs in a sluggish economy.

The talk-a-thon ended at 8:55 a.m., almost 15 hours since it began. It was the 35th all-night session since 1915, according to the Senate.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986, said when he looked out at the rim of the earth, “you could see what sustains all of life, the atmosphere. I became more than an environmentalist. I saw in its entirety how fragile this ecosystem is.”

An interesting remark

Reid Schar

The plot, it thickens! Tell us more, Mr. Schar:

TRENTON, N.J. — The lawyer for a New Jersey Legislature joint committee probing the George Washington Bridge lane closure hinted in court Tuesday that more discussions about the incident took place involving two of the governor’s key aides.

Lawyer Reid Schar argued that Gov. Chris Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and former Christie campaign manager William Stepien should be forced to turn over documents and electronic records that the joint panel has subpoenaed. He said the committee issued “very focused subpoenas” and was not engaged in a fishing expedition.

Judge Mary Jacobson of New Jersey Superior Court pushed the issue with Schar on whether more evidence exists than investigators know already.

“You’re making inferences that more exist,” Jacobson said.

“We know that more exist,” Schar said.

Kelly is suspected of initiating lane closures to the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River that tied up traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., for four days starting the first day of school Sept. 9. The suspicion is based on e-mail she appears to have sent from a personal account to an associate at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Following the closures, as the incident became more political, Stepien was brought into a discussion of a published story about fallout and replied that the mayor of Fort Lee, who had complained about Port Authority response to the closures, was an “idiot.”

Christie fired him for that remark. He also fired Kelly for her involvement.

In court, Stepien’s lawyer argued that the subpoena was forcing his client to attest to the existence of documents and be a witness against himself. The Fifth Amendment offers protections against that action, Kevin Marino said.

Existing and known e-mails, which Marino read in court, “do not permit the fair inference that there are other documents,” he said.

In rebuttal, Schar said the existence of additional documents is not an open question.

“I’m not guessing, judge,” he said. “I know it because I’ve seen them.”

Off the reservation

Reunión con el Diputado Bunmei Ibuki, Presidente de la Cámara de Representantes de Japón.

A man of conscience, it seems. I wonder how they’ll punish him:

In the midst of the solemn, scripted memorial marking the anniversary of Japan’s 2011 triple disaster, a discordant note seemed to creep in.

A leading lawmaker used the bully pulpit at the ceremony to call for an end to nuclear power, a rare instance of apparent public dissent by a top ruling party official against the policy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“It seems as if we have reaped the benefits of electricity…while letting the people of Fukushima bear the cost,” said Bunmei Ibuki, the speaker of Japan’s lower house of parliament. Mr. Ibuki made his remarks at the National Theater during Tuesday’s memorial to mark the third year since a giant earthquake off the country’s northeast coast triggered a mammoth tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people, left over 2,500 missing and caused one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

Mr. Ibuki, a three-decade veteran lawmaker, has held four cabinet posts and once served as secretary-general of Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. His current position in the lower house placed him among the eight official speakers at the event, just after Mr. Abe and the Emperor.

Facing a floral memorial for the disaster’s victims, his back to the audience, Mr. Ibuki lamented how Japan’s admiration of science and technology “gave rise to a sense of arrogance, that humans can control nature.” He ended his brief remarks advocating an energy policy “with a view toward a nuclear phaseout in the future.”

MSNBC: The Russians are coming!

It says, "Our women would be helpless beneath the boots of Asiatic Russia.'

‘Our women would be helpless beneath the boots of the Asiatic Russians.’

Robert Parry in Consortium News:

If you were living in Crimea, would you prefer to remain part of Ukraine with its coup-installed government – with neo-Nazis running four ministries including the Ministry of Defense – or would you want to become part of Russia, which has had ties to Crimea going back to Catherine the Great in the 1700s?

Good question, and one that is rarely if ever addressed at mainstream news outlets, including MSNBC, home of reputedly progressive talking heads who seem content to repeat the same anti-Russian propaganda you can hear on other channels, including Fox News.

Last night, in typically long-winded fashion, Rachel Maddow rehashed an old report on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, tiny territories in Georgia that Russia recognized as independent states after it intervened on their behalf in a brief war with Georgia in 2008. Maddow segued to an on-air interview with NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who suspects the upcoming referendum in Crimea is part of a long-range Russian plan to reclaim more territories lost when the Soviet Union imploded.

At one point, referring to Russia’s possible annexation of Crimea, Engel portentously said, “The question is, does [Vladimir] Putin stop there — does Russia stop there.” In other words, maybe Crimea is a prelude to a Russian takeover of the rest of Ukraine (the part that’s actually Ukrainian). And who knows what’s next, Richard. Maybe the rest of the freaking free world!

“What in the hell we watchin’?” my friend Swamp Rabbit said. “I thought the Cold War was over and done. This Engel guy sounds like he wants to be John Foster Dulles.”

The segment, it turned out, was called “Crimea feared as first step in Russian land grab.” Amazingly, Maddow and her guest never once addressed the fact that Russia is reacting, at least in part, to non-stop anti-Russian activity by the United States and NATO in countries that border Russia. Not one word, not even about Kosovo, the territory that broke away, with lots of help from the American military, from Russian-allied Serbia.

Maddow does a great job with domestic stories about the rights of minorities. She has helped shine a light on the dirty governing style of Chris Christie, an elected official who arguably is even more piggish than Putin.

“But why is she harping on the Russian menace, given the fact that American foreign policy is even more pernicious?” I asked Swamp Rabbit. “Sounds like she’s playing into the hands of the neocons who have pressured Barack Obama into talking like a Cold Warrior. Not that he needed much pressure.”

“Well, there’s your answer,” the rabbit said.

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