German brewers demand moratorium on fracking.
Raw Story: The Association of German Breweries sent a letter this week to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and six Cabinet Ministers demanding a moratorium on fracking until more research can be carried out to allay concerns of water contamination.
Germans have had strict standards for beer brewing since the 1516 implementation of the Bavarian “Reinheitsgebot,” or purity law, which allowed only malted barley, hops and water to be used in the brewing of beer. (Yeast was allowed later, after it was discovered.) But the strict nature of the law, which remains in effect today, means that no additives of any kind are allowed — especially contaminants in the drinking water.
The breweries association spokeperson, Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, told Bloomberg, “We are concerned that fracking endangers the brewing water that more than half of Germany’s breweries take from private wells.” He explained to The Telegraph, “The water has to be pure and more than half Germany’s brewers have their own wells which are situated outside areas that could be protected under the government’s current planned legislation on fracking.”
Merkel’s coalition in government, which includes Germany’s two mainstream conservative parties, reportedly plans to offer fracking legislation before the September 22, 2013 elections that would allow fracking in some areas but not in others. The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, support a moratorium and the Green Party prefers an outright ban on the practice. The head of the Green Party in parliament, Bärbel Höhn, told Das Bild in January, “Fracking with toxic chemicals is prohibited. But the government wants to allow it in 86 percent of the region. That makes more than just the brewers concerned.”
The Reinheitsgebot is one of the earliest consumer protection laws, preventing brewers from charging premium beer prices for crap. Contrary to the article, it doesn’t apply to all beers, just most Bavarian lagers — wheat beers like Paulaner’s are obviously legal. Still, unknown fracking chemicals in the water could be seen as violating the standards — you don’t want that crap in your Spaten.
What this story does is demonstrate how one industry impacts another. When you start carving out exceptions to law to benefit one industry, you often wind up injuring another. And, of course, fracking is a stupid idea anyway, since it risks earthquakes — in addition to the pollution that results in flammable tapwater.
Arkansas Republican offers insanely unconstitutional amendment to Iran bill.
Huffington Post: Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday offered legislative language that would “automatically” punish family members of people who violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, levying sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
The provision was introduced as an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, which lays out strong penalties for people who violate human rights, engage in censorship, or commit other abuses associated with the Iranian government.
Cotton also seeks to punish any family member of those people, “to include a spouse and any relative to the third degree,” including, “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids,” Cotton said.
“There would be no investigation,” Cotton said during Wednesday’s markup hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “If the prime malefactor of the family is identified as on the list for sanctions, then everyone within their family would automatically come within the sanctions regime as well. It’d be very hard to demonstrate and investigate to conclusive proof.”
“An amendment is being offered literally to allow the sins of the uncles to descend on the nephews,” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said. “The amendment that’s being offered doesn’t even indicate a requirement of knowing violation. … I really question the constitutionality of a provision that punishes nephews for the sins of the uncles.”
The article goes on to point out that this sort of thing is specifically banned by the Constitution as a “corruption of blood” law, which would punish people for the acts of treason of their family members. Cotton defended his amendment for a brief time, then withdrew his despotic proposal when it became clear that it was just too insane for anyone else to support.
I’m getting an early start on the three day weekend.
Later, I’ll be enjoying one of my favorite summer pastimes; a combination of bicycling and a cookout using a trailer I made just for such outings. Bratwurst and beer by the lake.
Anyway, I’ll most likely be missing the headlines and posting will drop off some time later — maybe around noon or a little later. Enjoy the weekend, folks.
Stories to Watch: 5/23/12.
Ed Kilgore writes, “The president’s speech today at the National Defense University on counter-terrorism policy (advance-billed as a ‘drone policy’ speech or a ‘Gitmo’ speech by many) was a much more wide-reaching and complex address than most observers, friendly or hostile, seem to have expected. And that is why a lot of the media coverage you’ll soon see will focus on one or another narrow ‘news’ item while ignoring the bigger picture.”
It strikes me that this sort of thing is where Pres. Obama gets in trouble. The well-worn rule of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) often seems to be lost on him — perhaps because of his background in higher ed.. He makes these broad and wide-ranging policy speeches, which allows critics to cherrypick what they want the speech to be about. In this case, it may be drone policy and the targeting of Americans, it may be a formal announcement of the end of Bush’s Global War on Terror (as Kilgore himself sees it), or it may — and will — be seen as a distraction from the super-serious “scandals” going on in DC (although the exact opposite would be truer — the scandal-mongering is a distraction from important policy decisions). In any case, by not sticking to one narrow subject, the President just made a speech that’s about whatever his critics want it to be about. And that’s a mistake.
Reuters has pretty good summary of the speech. Steve Benen calls it “arguably a key moment in marking a possible end of the 9/11 era.” Benen’s is also a very instructive take.
Lindsey Graham’s not taking “The War on Terror’s over. We won.” very well at all. He has to have his little neocon tantrum.
The IRS’ Lois Lerner is put on administrative leave.
A new poll shows that gun control will probably become a significant wedge in the 2014 senate elections. A Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 67% say they believe the senate “did the wrong thing” in blocking expanded background check legislation and that 55% say they “would not vote for a candidate who voted against background checks even if they agreed with the candidate on other issues.” I’ve said it before and it’s becoming more and more obvious that I’m right; Republicans can’t survive many more of these “victories” over majority opinion.
Finally, RIP local Madison rock musician Phil Buerstatte — one of the few, one of the blood brothers.
[photo via Dept. of Defense]
And guns are STILL not even one of the top 10 killers of Americans.
Would you like to know what the top 10 are?
Check out the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Hint: doctors and cars are WAY higher on the list than firearms.
Nice snapple-fact. Has zero bearing on the fact that 4316 people were killed by guns since December 14, 2012.
Bullshit stat alert: per the FBI, “Information collected regarding type of weapon showed that firearms were used in 67.7 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults.” Doctors and cars aren’t mentioned. Guns are, without a doubt, the #1 choice of murder weapon in the United States, making it the #1 killer in the FBI’s UCR.
You probably shouldn’t pull these “facts” out of your ass when they’re so easy to check, conservativerevolution.
Once again we have to wonder: if gun freaks’ arguments are so great, why are they always fucking lies?
And today’s Second Amendment Hero is…
Raw Story: Police in Philadelphia are hoping that video of a man shooting up a strip club with an AK-47 assault rifle over a DJ’s song selection will lead to his arrest.
Investigators on Wednesday said that 21-year-old Henry Pettigrew was being sought for the May 11th shooting at Purple Orchid Gentleman’s Club.
Police said that bouncers at the club tried to remove him after he became angry because the DJ would not play his favorite song.
Pettigrew and an accomplice then assaulted a customer, who they mistook for one of the bouncers. When the customer ran to the parking lot and tried to flee in his SUV, Pettigrew grabbed an AK-47 and began firing at the vehicle. The customer was hit above his right hip and was expect to recover.
Pettigrew was so hammered that he couldn’t stand up as he tried to return to the club. He was firing “wildly, obviously with an AK-47 with a banana clip, it can fire multiple rounds at a high rate of speed very quickly,” Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson Lt. Johnny Walker said.
A drunk in a strip club shooting innocent bystanders with a weapon capable of firing a lot of bullets in a real big hurry — because a DJ refused to take a request. Totally what the founders had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment, right? Pettigrew is still at large and obviously willing to start shooting for the stupidest goddam reasons imaginable.
Remember, it’s the tremendous saturation of guns in America that keeps us all so safe!
Coburn’s Hostage-Taking Apparently Not Going Well.
It strikes me that someone, somewhere, has to have a survey in the field tracking Sen. Tom Coburn’s position following the tornado that struck Moore in his home state. His actions since announcing that he would hold his own constituents hostage to budget cuts suggest that idea has not gone over well. The signs are all there; his fellow austerians in the GOP aren’t willing to back him up and he’s become increasing defensive about his position. He’s been trying to shift blame away from himself, by accusing those who point out that he’s playing politics with disaster of “playing disaster politics.” It’s the same circular reasoning that bigots you to claim victimhood for their bigotry — i.e., “I’m the victim of intolerance, because you’re intolerant of my intolerance!” — and it doesn’t work any better in this circumstance. Pointing out that Coburn wants to hold his own constituents hostage isn’t “playing politics,” it’s having a firm command of the facts.
As I say, that poll being taken out there somewhere has to show Coburn is getting an earful at home, because he’s still on the defensive. On an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sen. Tom tried to defend his position by not defending it.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) voiced frustration on Thursday with the discussion over whether federal aid provided to tornado-ravaged Oklahoma should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere, calling it an example of “typical Washington BS.”
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Coburn boasted about his consistency on the issue, saying that he helped ensure that relief provided after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was offset. Pointing to what he characterized as “$200 billion worth of waste, fraud and duplication,” he expressed disdain for lawmakers who borrow money to provide disaster aid.
“So it’s morally wrong, it’s repugnant to me and it’s the lamest excuse career politicians can use, and that’s why our country is in trouble. That kind of thinking,” Coburn said.
Then came the kicker: “But the conservative senator argued that any debate over spending offsets is motivated by politics, saying that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a $11.6 billion fund it could use to help victims of the Oklahoma tornado. For that reason, Coburn said, it’s unlikely that Congress would even need to pass a bill to provide aid to his state.”
“This is all a game and it’s a crass political game because I was being asked these questions before we even pulled the dead people out of the rubble,” Coburn said. “So it’s just typical Washington BS, quite frankly.”
Got that? He’s a man of super-integrity because he’s demanding someone else’s tax dollars be stolen to pay for aiding his constituents. But we shouldn’t hold him accountable for that position, because it will never happen. He wants to do this horrible thing, but you shouldn’t blame him for it, because he probably won’t be able to. And his critics are the ones spreading BS.
Coincidentally, I would like to slash Coburn’s tires, but I’ll never be able to because he lives and works so far away. So anyone who criticizes me for my criminal impulse is just engaging in “typical Washington BS.” I’m completely blameless — not because I’ve decided not to do this terrible thing, but because I’ve determined that I probably can’t.
For a Republican, I don’t think Coburn have a real solid grasp of this whole “personal responsibility” concept. What he does have is a good grip on his constituents, who in turn seem to have a good grip on his throat.
I don’t know what that as yet unreleased survey says, but it has to be brutal. He’s trying to back out of this so fast he’s spinning his wheels and digging in deeper. Couldn’t happen to a nicer hostage-taker.
[photo by DVIDSHUB]
Stories to Watch: 5/22/12.
In so many recent tragedies, teachers have been the heroes. So maybe let’s not listen to Republicans, call them union thugs and freeloaders, and cut them down to fast food wages, OK? Let’s treat them like professionals.
Pres. Obama will visit Oklahoma to see the damage first hand this weekend. Compare and contrast with GWB.
Most schools in Oklahoma have no tornado shelters, because they cost too much. There are a few parents who paid a much higher price than a few extra tax dollars
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warns Congress that they’re screwing up the economy,
Related: Ezra Klein warns everyone to stop applauding reports of declining deficits. In a recovering economy, this is not good news. “Our deficits aren’t dropping because we’re doing something right,” he writes. “They’re dropping because we’re doing everything wrong.” By all means, use the numbers to prove Republicans are liars. But don’t pretend they’re the result of economic and fiscal brilliance.
Scientists are optimistic about a cure for some —but not all — AIDS patients.
Filibuster reform for real?
Josh Marshall thinks that Lois Lerner — the IRS official currently at ground zero for controversy — needs to be fired. I’m thinking that’s probably true, but also that it won’t solve anything.
A shockingly brutal terrorist machete attack in the UK ends in suicide by cop.
An FBI agent shoots and kills a man in Miami who was associated with Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He apparently confessed to being involved with a triple murder that Tsarnaev may also have been involved with. This also seems to have ended in suicide by cop. There is believed to be no relation between this crime and the Boston bombing itself. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was just a very violent individual, it seems.
Arizona state Rep. Juan Mendez quotes Carl Sagan, rather than saying a prayer before a session of the House. This shocking bit of Religious Freedom from an atheist would not stand, however, and a proper prayer was offered the next day to appease mighty Cthulhu — or somebody. I don’t know. In any case, we can be sure Arizona won’t be cast into a lake of fire for the impiety of its legislature.
Finally, Eric Holder says that the US has killed four Americans with the drone program.
[cartoon via cagle.com]
Yet another lawmaker tries to hide his support of anti-background check filibuster.
Steve Benen: In competitive states, we’re seeing two kinds of politicians: those who support new measures intended to reduce gun violence and those who pretend to support new measures intended to reduce gun violence.
In New Hampshire, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), shortly after voting to kill the bipartisan bill to expand background checks, benefited from new ads claiming she voted for “a bipartisan plan to make background checks more effective.” In Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who voted the way the NRA demanded last month, this month is telling anyone who’ll listen how much he loves “to strengthen background checks.”
And in Nevada, as Jon Ralston noted today, Sen. Dean Heller (R) is sending out interesting correspondence to his constituents.
“Knowing your interest in gun control, I wanted to give you an update on legislation I have cosponsored and supported recently.”
Imagine how Nevadans felt when they received a letter that began that way from none other than Sen. Dean Heller, who voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill, saying he feared a creation of a gun registry despite his general support for the concepts in the measure. He was hailed by NRA types and blistered by gun control advocates.
I wonder how many folks who received that missive fell for the having-it-both-ways Heller approach.
Probably quite a few. That’s the point — politicians who do unpopular things have to cynically hope they can mislead voters, not by explicitly lying, but by taking advantage of public confusion over details.
It’s yet another sign that voting to do the NRA’s bidding is not something you proclaim proudly to the world, but something you can only survive through chicanery. All of these politicians have no interest in defending their votes — obviously because they’ve come to see their vote as indefensible. Instead, they’ll try to confuse voters into believing they did vote in favor of expanding background checks, when in reality they voted to sustain the filibuster against it. In fact, Ayotte’s helpful ad came from the NRA — meaning not even they are willing to stand by their own position on the issue. The vote was political poison.
This all might work now, but a good opponent would see the opening here a mile away. If Heller or Ayotte or Flake, etc., are so terrified of their own vote that they’d go to such lengths to hide them, then an election opponent would be a fool not to drag that vote out in the open and expose the lie.
And this is why common sense gun regulation will win in the end. The fact that these people feel they have to hide their votes proves we’re already winning in public opinion and that those who stand against us do so at their own electoral peril.