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G_j's Journal
G_j's Journal
September 20, 2012

(Kucinich) What Did the Peabody Energy Company Do To American Consumers?

Published on Sep 20, 2012 by DJKucinich

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today took to the House Floor to defend 2.5 million ratepayers in 217 communities across the Midwest who are overpaying for electricity thanks to bad deal with the Peabody Energy Company.

Peabody Energy Corporation convinced nine regional power agencies to become partial owners of a new coal plant in Southern Illinois. The deals specified that the municipalities could get stuck funding the plant even if it never produced electricity. After foreseeable and preventable cost overruns and subpar performance, ratepayers are now forced to buy electricity from the coal plant even though the cost of energy on the open market is much cheaper.

"Did Peabody Energy Company deliberately unload a bad investment on public power organizations serving 217 cities and villages across the Midwest? Congress must find out because Peabody Energy lured public power organizations into contracts that force municipal utilities to pay up to twice the market rate for electricity.

"At a time when private funding could not be had for new coal powered utilities, Peabody Energy unloaded 95% of its investment onto public power customers in what became an almost triple cost overrun, a coalmine that lasts 22 years instead of the 30 years promised, and an ashfill that was supposed to last 23 years and will last only 12-14 years.

"The contract which municipals are tied into forces them to pay for power 42% above the market rate, whether the plant is producing energy or not. Billions of dollars were issued for bond financing for the project and utility customers are vulnerable to huge costs for debt retirement. Wall Street wouldn't invest in the project, so Peabody went to Main Street, and now millions of public power customers will pay sky high electric rates...

September 18, 2012

October 22 Deadline to Submit Claim Form in Chicago Anti-war Class Action Lawsuit


October 22 Deadline to Submit Claim Form in Chicago Anti-war Class Action Lawsuit

September 18, 2012

Earlier this year Vodak v. City of Chicago, a class action lawsuit resulting from false arrests at a 2003 anti-war protest, settled for $6.2 Million.

After nine years of litigation, attorneys from the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild scored a significant victory by settling the suit. The case is a class action on behalf of over 700 protestors who were falsely arrested or detained by Chicago police during an anti-war demonstration in 2003.

The class is made up of any individual who was either held on the street for over 90 minutes or arrested and taken into police custody on Chicago Avenue, east of Michigan Avenue on March 20, 2003.

The deadline for class members to submit a claim form is October 22, 2012. Any class member who did not receive a form should contact the Claims Administrator immediately to request one. The Claims Administrator can be contacted at:

Vodak v. City of Chicago Claims Administrator

c/o Class Action Administration, Inc.

PO Box 6848

Broomfield, CO 80021

Telephone (toll-free): 1(877) 926-4750

The website for the Claims Administrator is chicagoantiwarprotestsettlement.com.

A claim form will NOT be accepted via email and it is NOT sufficient to notify or mail your claim forms to the lawyers litigating the case or to the Court to collect the settlement proceeds.

Breakdown of the settlement:

The settlement awards a total of $6.2 million to members of the class, with attorneys fees and costs to be paid out separately.

The class is broken into three sub-classes:

Sub-class A-3: Individuals who were held, taken to a police station, charged, went to court and had the case resolved in their favor will receive up to $15,000.

Sub-class A-2: Individuals who were held, taken to a police station and released without being charged will receive up to $8,750.

Sub-class A-1: Individuals who were held in the street and were not allowed to leave for over 90 minutes will receive up to $500.

Again, it is extremely important that class members fill out their claim form and mail it to the Claims Administrator so it is received before October 22, 2012. After that date, any portion of the settlement that has not been claimed will revert back to the City. For additional information and updates, visit peopleslawoffice.com.
September 18, 2012

Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), declared unconstitutional!


We Won—for Now

Posted on Sep 17, 2012

By Chris Hedges

In January I sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized the military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely, strip them of due process and hold them in military facilities, including offshore penal colonies. Last week, round one in the battle to strike down the onerous provision, one that saw me joined by six other plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, ended in an unqualified victory for the public. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who accepted every one of our challenges to the law, made her temporary injunction of the section permanent. In short, she declared the law unconstitutional.

Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision. Government prosecutors called the opinion “unprecedented” and said that “the government has compelling arguments that it should be reversed.” The government added that it was an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope.” Government lawyers asked late Friday for an immediate stay of Forrest’s ban on the use of the military in domestic policing and on the empowering of the government to strip U.S. citizens of due process. The request for a stay was an attempt by the government to get the judge, pending appeal to a higher court, to grant it the right to continue to use the law. Forrest swiftly rejected the stay, setting in motion a fast-paced appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly, if her ruling is upheld there, to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the 2nd Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the 2nd Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction. This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.

“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” said Carl Mayer, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

“The administration of President Obama within the last 48 hours has decided to engage in an all-out campaign to block and overturn an order of a federal judge,” said co-lead counsel Bruce Afran. “As Judge Forrest noted in her opinion, nothing is more fundamental in American law than the possibility that journalists, activists and citizens could lose their liberty, potentially forever, and the Obama administration has now lined up squarely with the most conservative elements of the Republican Party to undermine Americans’ civil liberties.”

September 15, 2012

Scientists Tied to Tobacco Industry Propaganda, Funding from Monsanto, Turn Attention to Organic


September 12th, 2012

Scientists Tied to Tobacco Industry Propaganda, and Funding from Monsanto, Turn Attention to Organic Food

Cornucopia, Wis. – A recent study by Stanford University researchers made international headlines when it claimed that organic foods are no more safe or nutritious than conventional foods. Organic researchers, farmers and advocacy groups immediately recognized the study as woefully flawed, and alleged underlying political motivations.

“People don’t buy organic food just because they think it contains slightly higher levels of nutrients, they buy organic for many other reasons, primarily to avoid toxic pesticide residues and toxins that have been genetically engineered into the food,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Food and Farm Policy Director at The Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit organic farm policy organization.

Academics and organic policy experts, including at Cornucopia, immediately recognized that Stanford’s research in fact substantiates dramatic health and safety advantages in consuming organic food, including an 81% reduction in exposure to toxic and carcinogenic agrichemicals. Unfortunately, readers would never know it by the headlines, since the results of the study were spun by the Stanford researchers and public relations staff, and accepted without the necessary fact-checking by journalists in a rush to file stories over the Labor Day weekend.

Not surprisingly, the study’s glaring errors, both in understanding the important and complex differences between organic and conventional foods and in the researchers’ flawed choice of research methods, prompted organic advocates to look closely at financial ties between Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute, which supports the researchers, and the chemical and agribusiness industry.

“There was just no way that truly independent scientists with the expertise required to adequately answer such an important question would ignore the vast and growing body of scientific literature pointing to serious health risks from eating foods produced with synthetic chemicals,” says Vallaeys.

September 14, 2012

Outrage machines...

"America sponsored anti-Muslim film"

"Obama is gonna take away your guns"

September 14, 2012

Essay: The One Percent Court, by Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger


Essay: The One Percent Court

September 13, 2012

by Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger

A version of this essay will appear in an upcoming issue of The Nation, focusing on the Supreme Court. It will be available on newsstands Sept. 20, 2012.

Why a special issue of The Nation devoted to the Supreme Court? Because with partisan gridlock paralyzing both the president and Congress, the Court has more than ever become “the decider” — the most powerful branch of government, and one at the center of a controversy whose outcome may shape the course of democracy for generations to come.

By a paradox both historical and constitutional, the political appointees on the Roberts Court will never have to answer for their decisions to voters like you and me. Nor to the president or Congress: once they are confirmed, the Supreme Court’s justices, like all federal judges, serve for life or “good behavior.”

The Constitution’s framers meant to secure the Court against political pressure from the electorate and arbitrary dismissal of its members from on high by presidents dissatisfied with their decisions. As the third branch of the new national government — one whose powers were to be divided to block overreach by any one of them — the Court would be equal to the executive and legislative arms, even though the president appointed its members with the concurrence of the Senate.

That changed dramatically when John Marshall became the fourth chief justice in 1801, shortly before Thomas Jefferson took office. The two brilliant men were bitter rivals, members of opposing parties. Marshall was a Federalist, Jefferson a Republican (no kin to the present GOP). So the supposedly neutral Court has been thrown since its infancy onto the partisan battleground, where it remains today. In a landmark case in 1803, Marshall refused to apply a 1789 law giving Jefferson a power not strictly authorized in the Constitution and therefore “unconstitutional.” With that decision, the Court was no longer merely equal to the other two branches. It had become superior — the last word on how the Constitution should be interpreted — and its lifelong members would never risk their jobs, no matter how much they fell out of step with changing times and values.

September 10, 2012

Was free speech on mute during the conventions?

Was free speech on mute during the conventions?

By Ann O'Neill, CNN

updated 2:13 PM EDT, Sun September 9, 2012



On Tuesday, the first day of the Democratic convention, about 100 protesters blocked the intersection across the street from "the pen," demanding their free speech rights and entangling police in a two-hour standoff that ended peacefully when the skies opened up for the daily downpour.

"At least they gave us some entertainment," said a city worker overseeing the free speech area, which had to be one of the loneliest convention assignments. He passed the time reading a biography of Yogi Berra.

Such was the state of free speech here during last week's Democratic convention, and at the Republican convention the week before in Tampa, Florida.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to freely practice one's religion and publicly speak one's mind without government constraint or interference. It also gives citizens the right to assemble and to air their grievances to their government. But the law remains unsettled on whether the government has the power to say where.

The Supreme Court has established guidelines to measure whether speech restrictions pass constitutional muster. The restrictions must be neutral and not based on content, and they must be specific; they must serve a significant government interest, such as public safety; and they must provide for alternative means of communication.

The free speech zones are meant to be that alternative means of communication, but the Lawyers Guild advises clients to avoid them and use the public sidewalks.

September 10, 2012

Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose "Corporate" Education Model in Chicago

Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose "Corporate" Education Model in Chicago

watch: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/10/striking_teachers_parents_join_forces_to

To discuss the Chicago teachers’ strike, we’re joined by two guests: Phil Cantor, a teacher and strike captain at Chicago’s North-Grand High School and member of Teachers for Social Justice, and Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, the mother of two public school students in Chicago and a member of the grassroots group Parents 4 Teachers. [includes rush transcript]


Phil Cantor, has taught science for the last nine years. He currently teaches at North-Grand High School in Chicago. He is a strike captain at his school. Cantor is also part of the group Teachers for Social Justice.

Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, mother of two public school students in Chicago and a member of the grassroots group, Parents 4 Teachers. Her kids attend Coonley Elementary School.

September 2, 2012

Kashmir’s Melting Glaciers May Cut Ice With Sceptics


Kashmir’s Melting Glaciers May Cut Ice With Sceptics

By Athar Parvaiz

SRINAGAR, India, Aug 31 2012 (IPS) - Jowhar Ahmed, an air-conditioner dealer in Srinagar, is pleased at a spurt in business this summer caused by temperatures soaring over 35 degrees Celsius – unusual in this alpine valley ringed by snow-capped mountains.

“I sold more than 70 air-conditioners in just one month,” Ahmed, who runs the Oriental Sales electrical goods outlet, told IPS. To cope with the demand Ahmed and other dealers have begun stocking air-conditioners in Srinagar rather than book orders for later delivery.

That the weather is warming over Kashmir is not news for climate scientists who have shown in several studies that the glaciers in the vast Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya (HKKH) region – called the world’s ‘third pole’ – are melting and receding at an increasing pace.

In the latest of these studies, European scientists led by Andreas Kaab of the department of geosciences, University of Oslo, have shown that glacial melt is worse in the Kashmir Himalayas than in other regions of the HKKH.

Kaab’s findings, published in the Aug. 23 edition of ‘Nature’, suggest that Kashmir’s glaciers may be receding by as much as half-a-metre annually, presenting an immediate threat to the rivers that feed into the Indus basin.

“Glaciers are among the best indicators of terrestrial climate variability,” said Kaab in the study. “They contribute importantly to water resources in many mountainous regions and are a major contributor to global sea-level rise.”


September 1, 2012

Why a plank in the GOP platform: "No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands"? Ask Ralph Reed

Why would a plank in the official GOP platform say "No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands"? Ask Ralph Reed ... or read this latest essay from Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

Ralph Reed in the Marianas Trenches

A plank in the GOP platform tells just one tale of Reed's heinous hypocrisy.

Ralph Reed in the Marianas Trenches

August 31, 2012

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Entrance to garment factory on Saipan; Credit: WikiCommons

As the sun slowly sets over the Republican National Convention in Tampa, we settle back in the chairs that nice Mr. Eastwood just gave us and ponder some of the other oddities of the week. Like this item in the official GOP platform pointed out by Brad Plumer of The Washington Post:

No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands. “The Pacific territories should have flexibility to determine the minimum wage, which has seriously restricted progress in the private sector.”

This caught our attention (and thanks to colleague Theresa Riley for sending) because it once again reminds us of the sordid past of evangelical and political entrepreneur Ralph Reed who, as this week’s edition of Moyers & Company reports in detail, has emerged from the ashes of epic career fail to reestablish himself as a powerful figure in Republican politics.

As head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Reed boasts he’s building a political dynamo of five million members with a massive database, an annual budget of $100 million and full-time lobbyists in all fifty state capitals, a colossal effort aimed at putting in place a right-wing social agenda and identifying and establishing contact with what it estimates as 27 million conservative voters in America. As you can imagine, with clout like that, Reed and his coalition were in high cotton at the Tampa convention.


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