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Mouse 0729wrp opt(Photo: Darkone)Trump publically invited the Russians to hack into 30,000 email messages at least three of which were “classified” or “top secret,” and promised the Russians that they would be rewarded by the media. At a press conference, Trump stated, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." Unequivocally, Trump was inviting a foreign power to hack into government email messages. This may be a crime under 18 US Code § 373, “Solicitation to commit a crime of violence” and/or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Unfortunately, the corporate media have not done their due diligence in covering the criminal implications of Trump’s action. Instead, they have, at their boldest, denounced it as “irresponsible,” “unprecedented,” “stupid,” and “silly.”

According to 18 US Code § 373, “Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property … solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct,” is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment and/or fine not more than one-half of the punishment for the crime solicited. So did Trump solicit or attempt to persuade the Russians to commit a felony?

According to 1030(a) of the CFAA, it is a felony to (1) knowingly access a computer without authorization, (2) obtain national security information, (3) have reason to believe the information could benefit a foreign nation, and (4) attempt to cause the information to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted to any person not entitled to receive it. So, arguably, Trump committed a felony pursuant to 18 US Code § 373 by soliciting the Russians to commit a felony pursuant to the CFAA 1030(a).

According to FBI Director, James Comey, “With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. …” So, Trump attempted to persuade the Russians to hack into email messages some of which are, or were, classified or top secret, which means that they contained “national security information.” He has also expressed reason to believe that the Russians, a foreign power, could benefit from obtaining the information inasmuch as, he has stated “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Finally, Trump “attempted to cause the information to be “communicated, delivered, or transmitted” to the Russians by inviting them to hack into it, and then give it to the press.

Published in Guest Commentary


Apocalypse 0727wrp opt(Photo: Viktor M. Vasnetsov)On July 25, despite their being no signs of The Rapture, the Rev. Tim LaHaye slipped off this mortal coil, just days after suffering a stroke. Long before LaHaye, and his writing partner, Jerry Jenkins, teamed up to write the Left Behind series of mega-best-selling apocalyptic novels – which took The Rapture and apocalypticism to the mainstream -- LaHaye was a major figure in the founding and nurturing of the Religious Right.

In 1989, the Unification Church-owned Washington Times newspaper described him as “one of the lightning-rod clergy of the Religious Right.” In 2005, Time magazine declared LaHaye as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. At the same time, Time named LaHaye and his wife Beverly -- who founded the conservative Christian Concerned Women for America in 1979 – “The Christian Power Couple.”

LaHaye had a long history of involvement in Religious Right organizations and activities. The Reagan-Bush campaign assigned LaHaye “to coordinate Christian Right voter registration projects,” Sara Diamond wrote in her book Roads to Dominion. Out of that project came the American Coalition for Tradition Values, which was “largely funded by television preachers.”

“In 1987, he was honorary national co-chairman of Representative Jack Kemp’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, but quit after published reports quoted anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish passages in his writings,” The New York Times pointed out.

Rev. LaHaye earned a bachelor’s degree at Bob Jones University in 1950, and received doctorate from Western Theological Seminary. He was president of Family Life Seminars, co-founder of the Moral Majority, founder of the American Coalition for Traditional Values, and an organizer of the Council on National Policy (CNP), a highly secretive, ultra-conservative organization comprised of almost every major right-wing leader and personality in the country.

Published in Guest Commentary


Bern 0727wrp opt(Photo: Jake Bucci)The fervent prayer of old-line Democratic operatives and corporate funders is that the Sanders Storm will dissipate now that Hillary Clinton will get the nomination, thus allowing politics — as — usual to reestablish its grip on the system. Here's why I think they're dead wrong:

First, whatever else you think of Clinton, she's certainly smart, savvy, and accomplished, and she didn't come this far by ignoring important shifts in the political winds. As Sanders' tub-thumping message drew huge crowds, new voters, and that deep pool of small donors, she adjusted her wings to try riding some of the powerful thermals rising from America's grassroots. A career-long corporate Democrat, Clinton began sounding more and more like Sanders, sympathizing with the rising fury of working-class families and becoming at least Bernie-lite on several populist proposals.

You can view her adaptations as hopeful or hopelessly cynical, but the point is that Clinton recognizes that a new power is loose on the land. Understanding that the same old Bill and Barack moderate corporatism won't charge up the crowds she needs in November, she's scrambling to tap the electric populism of the Bernie Rebellion.

This rebellious spark is the true hope of a moribund Democratic Party that registers only 29 percent of eligible voters. Far from wishing away the energetic millions who "Feel the Bern," entrenched Democratic elders should beg these hot—blooded activists to revitalize the party. In fact, a June poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that three quarters of Democrats (including Hillary backers) want Sanders to have a "major role" in shaping the party's positions, and two-thirds wanted him as her VP choice.

Think about it: While Bernie was the oldest candidate running for president, in heart, soul, vigor, and vision he is by far the youngest. He won the majority of voters under 45 years old and a stunning 71 percent of under-30 voters. In the under-30 demographic, Bernie even won decisively among women, including African-Americans and Latinas. He also dominated among independents who voted Democratic. There's the future.

Published in Guest Commentary
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 14:39

Offshore Wind Powers Ahead in Europe


WindFarm 0726wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)A building boom is underway offshore in Europe. Up to 400 giant wind turbines are due to be built off the northeast coast of the UK in what will be the world's largest offshore wind development.

Output from the Dogger Bank project will be 1.2 Gigawatts—enough to power more than 1 million homes.

Next year, a 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands is due to start operating and other schemes along the Dutch coast are in the works.

Denmark, Sweden and Portugal are major investors in offshore wind and China has ambitious plans for the sector.

Wind farms—both onshore and offshore—are seen as a key ingredient in renewable energy policy and an important element in the battle against climate change.

Published in Guest Commentary


Bell 0726wrp opt(Photo: Bev Sykes)At high Noon Sunday, with temperatures heading toward 95 degrees, I'm confident I was not the only one preparing to march through the streets of downtown Philadelphia who recalled that old elementary-school story about the wig-wearing drafters of the Declaration of Independence huddled inside of Independence Hall on a sweltering July day.

In fact, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Independence Hall was the literal destination of this march to declare our independence from fossil fuels.

In spite of the dangerous heat—or maybe precisely because there are now simply way too many extremely hot days like this one—marchers showed up in huge numbers and they brought with them a revolutionary frame of mind.

Convened by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking and Americans Against Fracking—for which I serve as science advisor—the March for a Clean Energy Revolution attracted more than 10,000 people and was endorsed by more than 900 environmental, health, labor, political, faith, justice, indigenous and student organizations groups from all 50 states of the union.

The day kicked off with a press conference at city hall that featured local and national advocacy leaders as well as individuals from communities decimated by various fossil fuel extraction, transport and storage projects.

Published in Guest Commentary


Ballot 0725wrp opt(Photo: Anthony)As the Democratic Convention opens in Philadelphia, there’s just one one clear message that matters from the Republicans: Donald Trump will be within ten points of Hillary Clinton in the fall election. 

Thus, unless the Democrats do something about the issue of election protection, it will be within the power of key GOP swing state governors to give Donald Trump the presidency.

For all its problems, the wildly disorganized and fractious gathering in Cleveland all boiled down to Trump’s final speech. It was rambling and often incoherent. But it delivered the classic strongman message: You need ME to protect you.

Given the chaos, violence, and injustice of imperial America in 2016, that message is almost certain to sell with enough Americans to keep Trump close enough to Hillary Clinton to allow the election to be electronically stripped and flipped.

In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama was able to overcome these barriers with a huge popular margin in more states than the GOP could reasonably steal. 

This year, in a close election, given how the mechanics of our election system operate, the decision of who will enter the White House will be in the hands of the GOP governors of such swing states as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona. 

Those will be the only six votes that really count in November. Should all or most of these governors (with their GOP Secretaries of State) flip the vote count for Trump, he likely has a lock on the White House.

Published in Guest Commentary


Terror 0725wrp opt(Photo: Polish Central Archives of Historical Records)As people gain in wealth, they depend less on others, and thus they have less reason to understand the feelings and needs of the less fortunate.

That makes it difficult to relate to people without jobs, and without proper housing, and without prospects for the future. It makes it difficult to understand that their states of deprivation and desperation can make them lash out against those they consider responsible for the injustices of extreme inequality.

The following are some of the reasons for violent 'blowback' reactions that are often called 'terrorism.' These reactions occur both globally and locally. By addressing them, we may be able to reduce some of the worst effects of our perverse wealth distribution.

Many Young Men and Women Feel Cheated and Terrorized

Barack Obama said, "When millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future...resentments fester."

But ISIS members are generally middle- or upper-class males in their 20s. Security expert Ömer Taspinar explains: "It is certainly true that breeding grounds for radicalism and terrorist recruitment emerge not necessarily under conditions of abject poverty and deprivation...It is precisely when people develop high expectations, aspirations and hopes for upward mobility that we have to pay more attention to the potential for frustration, humiliation and ideological radicalization."

As a recent report by Mercy Corps put it, "Young people take up the gun not because they are poor, but because they are angry."

A key factor is "relative deprivation." Educated young men with little chance for advancement are "frustrated achievers" who frequently turn to radicalism to express their discontent. In Tunisia, for example, a largely democratic state with relatively high literacy rates, thousands of young men once enamored by "Arab Spring" optimism have joined ISIS, in an apparent attempt to escape corruption and discrimination and a lack of meaningful job opportunities.

Published in Guest Commentary


Kurt 0722wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)In 1988, my then Hyannis Port neighbor the late Kurt Vonnegut wrote a prescient letter to the Earth's planetary citizens of 2088 for Volkswagen's TIME magazine ad campaign. His seven points of advice are perhaps more relevant today than at any time in human history. We should keep this advice in mind this election year and adopt Vonnegut's recommendations while we still can.

Here's his letter:

Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088:

It has been suggested that you might welcome words of wisdom from the past, and that several of us in the twentieth century should send you some. Do you know this advice from Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet: 'This above all: to thine own self be true'? Or what about these instructions from St. John the Divine: 'Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment has come'? The best advice from my own era for you or for just about anybody anytime, I guess, is a prayer first used by alcoholics who hoped to never take a drink again: 'God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.'

Our century hasn't been as free with words of wisdom as some others, I think, because we were the first to get reliable information about the human situation: how many of us there were, how much food we could raise or gather, how fast we were reproducing, what made us sick, what made us die, how much damage we were doing to the air and water and topsoil on which most life forms depended, how violent and heartless nature can be, and on and on. Who could wax wise with so much bad news pouring in?

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 21 July 2016 11:43

San Diego Bans Plastic Bags


Bag 0721wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies and corner markets.

The goal of the new ordinance is to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags, decreasing the number of plastic checkout bags used every year. San Diego goest through roughly 700 million plastic bags a year, with only 3 percent of them being recycled, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

"The vast majority of plastic bags we see are entangled in the brushes next to our rivers and streams," said Kristin Kuhn, community engagement manager for San Diego Coastkeeper. "After every rain event, these bags clog and choke our city's already damaged waterways."

The city's ban would require grocery stores and other food retailers to charge at least 10 cents for each paper bag or for a sturdier bag, which often cost more.

"Stakeholders have worked tirelessly with local jurisdictions throughout the state to find a solution that makes sense for both the environment and businesses," said Sophie Barnhorst, policy coordinator for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. "A ban on plastic and a charge for paper has the potential to achieve maximal environment gain with minimal business disruption."

San Diego's ban—which drew wide support from advocacy organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation's San Diego County chapter and San Diego Coastkeeper as well as the chamber of commerce—makes it the 150th municipality in the Golden State.

Published in Guest Commentary


BlackPower 0821wrp opt(Photo: Angelo Cozzi)A few years ago, in an interview with The New York Times' William Rhoden, National Football League Hall of Famer and longtime political activist Jim Brown said: "I think within the next three or four years, there'll be a major coming together of some Black athletes and entertainers to really have a platform that can bring about a whole different awareness." Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took the stage at the beginning of the recent ESPY Awards ceremony, and made an impassioned call for an end to the violence, perhaps signaling that Black athletes were coming together to speak about racial inequities and social justice, as Brown predicted.

While it unclear what specific issues – other than violence -- the four National Basketball Association stars were talking about, their remarks, coming in the wake of the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the police killing of Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and the shooting deaths of five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, their remarks were somber, eloquent, and moving.

"Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for," said Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers' star point guard. "So we choose to follow in their footsteps."

Dwayne Wade, recently traded from the Miami Heat to his hometown Chicago Bulls said: "The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough."

Published in Guest Commentary
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