Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Vice President Ben Carson? He’s open to it.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Vice President Ben Carson? He’s open to it.

In an interview with Fox Business on Tuesday, the former pediatric neurosurgeon said he would consider being Donald Trump’s running mate if the billionaire captures the Republican presidential nomination.

“I certainly would sit down and discuss it with him,” Carson said.

Carson explained to Fox Business that if he were to be a VP, he would need to be philosophically aligned with the nominee.

“I would have to have major philosophical alignment with whoever it was. I would have to have guarantees that I could do some substantial things,” he said.

He wouldn’t say, however, who he wouldn’t be vice president for.

“Rather than get into that, let’s say as long as there is significant philosophical alignment, I wouldn’t have any problem,” Carson told Fox Business.

He added, “I’m aiming to really change this country, in the same way that I came up with new ways to do very complex things that people have been trying to do for a long, long period of time. That’s what I want to do with this country.”

Carson’s campaign took a hit over recent months after attention started to be turned to terrorism and foreign policy.

Above is from:  http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/02/09/ben-carson-donald-trump-vp/

Supreme Court Deals Setback to Obama’s Power Plant Regulations



WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s effort to combat climate change by regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants. The brief order was not the last word on the case, which is most likely to return to the Supreme Court after an appeals court considers an expedited challenge from 29 states and dozens of corporations and industry groups.

But the Supreme Court’s willingness to issue a stay while the case proceeds was an early hint that the program could face a skeptical reception from the justices.

The vote was 5 to 4.


The challenged regulation, which was issued last summer by the Environmental Protection Agency, requires states to make major cuts to greenhouse gas pollution created by electric power plants, the nation’s largest source of such emissions. The plan could transform the nation’s electricity system, cutting emissions from existing power plants by a third by 2030, from a 2005 baseline, by closing hundreds of heavily polluting coal-fired plants and increasing production of wind and solar power.

“Climate change is the most significant environmental challenge of our day, and it is already affecting national public health, welfare and the environment,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. wrote in a brief urging the Supreme Court to reject a request for a stay while the case moves forward.

The regulation calls for states to submit plans to comply with the regulation by September, though they may seek a two-year extension. The first deadline for power plants to reduce their emissions is in 2022, with full compliance not required until 2030.

The states challenging the regulation, led mostly by Republicans and many with economies that rely on coal mining or coal-fired power, sued to stop what they called “the most far-reaching and burdensome rule the E.P.A. has ever forced onto the states.” A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January unanimously refused to grant a stay. The court did expedite the case and will hear arguments on June 2, which is fast by the standards of complex litigation.

The states urged the Supreme Court to take immediate action to block what they called a “power grab” under which “the federal environmental regulator seeks to reorganize the energy grids in nearly every state in the nation.” Though the plan’s first emission reduction obligations do not take effect until 2022, the states said they had already started to spend money and shift resources to get ready.

Eighteen states, mostly led by Democrats, opposed the request for a stay, saying they were “continuing to experience climate-change harms firsthand — including increased flooding, more severe storms, wildfires and droughts.” Those harms are “lasting and irreversible,” they said, and “any stay that results in further delay in emissions reductions would compound the harms that climate change is already causing.”

In a second filing seeking a stay, coal companies and trade associations represented by Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, said the court should act to stop a “targeted attack on the coal industry” that will “artificially eliminate buyers of coal, forcing the coal industry to curtail production, idle operations, lay off workers and close mines.”

The E.P.A., represented by Mr. Verrilli, called the requests for a stay “extraordinary and unprecedented.” The states challenging the administration’s plan, he said, could point to no case in which the Supreme Court had “granted a stay of a generally applicable regulation pending initial judicial review in the court of appeals.” In a later brief, the states conceded that point.

Mr. Verrilli said judicial review of the plan, including by the Supreme Court, will be complete before the first deadline for emissions reductions in 2022.

“There is no reason to suppose that states’ duties under the rule will be especially onerous,” Mr. Verrilli wrote. “A state can elect not to prepare a plan at all, but instead may allow E.P.A. to develop and implement a federal plan for sources in that state.”

The two sides differed about whether current declines in coal mining and coal-fired power generation are attributable to the administration’s plan. “Some of the nation’s largest coal companies have declared bankruptcy, due in no small part to the rule,” a group of utilities told the justices.

Mr. Tribe added that the plan “will cause the closure of 53 coal-fired plants in 2016 and another three in 2018.”

A coalition of environmental groups and companies that produce and rely on wind and solar power said other factors were to blame for coal’s decline.

“These changes include the abundant supply of relatively inexpensive natural gas, the increasing cost-competitiveness of electricity from renewable generation sources such as solar and wind power, the deployment of low-cost energy efficiency and other demand-side measures, and increasing consumer demand for advanced energy, as well as the rising costs of coal production and the high costs of maintaining very old coal-fired plants,” they wrote.

Above is from:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/us/politics/supreme-court-blocks-obama-epa-coal-emissions-regulations.html?emc=edit_na_20160209&nlid=53444314&ref=cta&_r=0

Illinois state schools in jeopardy ?



Above is from:  http://www.sj-r.com/news/20160208/college-accrediting-agency-sends-warning-amid-budget-impasse?rssfeed=true

‘Dark Money’ Investigates Koch Brothers’ Influence



By Rob Wolfe

Valley News Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 9, 2016
(Published in print: Tuesday, February 9, 2016)


Hanover — In an election cycle forecast to be the most expensive in history, itself following two other costliest-ever contests, reporter Jane Mayer hopes to tell the public where the money is coming from and whose agenda is behind it.

In her newly released book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right , Mayer, a 20-year staff writer at the New Yorker , builds a case that the country owes much of its three-decade shift toward the political right to covert funding from a cadre of conservative billionaires.

Chief among the movement’s sponsors, she says, are Charles and David Koch, oil and finance moguls who together hold a fortune estimated at $90 billion. The Koch brothers, as they’re known, have financed a political engine that, in its factory-line style, resembles their industrial origins.

Dark Money describes how the Kochs built a machine that injects conservative ideas into the popular consciousness, concocting them in Koch-funded academia, baking them into policy in Koch-funded think tanks, and selling them to the public with Koch-funded pressure groups that give the impression of grassroots support — all behind nonprofit front groups that hide the brothers’ involvement.

A talk with Mayer and her New Yorker colleague Hendrik Hertzberg on Monday at Dartmouth College drew an audience of more than 100.

Mayer was born in New York City, but her parents owned a house in Weathersfield. After working for Time magazine as a Yale undergraduate, she got her start in the Upper Valley reporting for the now-defunct Weathersfield Weekly . From there she moved to the Rutland Herald and then to Washington, where she wrote for the Washington Star (which has also since folded) and soon took a job at the Wall Street Journal , working her way up to White House correspondent. She still lives in Washington.

To write Dark Money , Mayer researched for five years; conducted hundreds of interviews, including with unnamed members of the Koch family; and filled countless cardboard boxes with legal pads and manila file folders.

She also dug into the Kochs’ past, uncovering how the family patriarch, Fred Koch, earned his riches: by building oil refineries for Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

Charles and David Koch have declined numerous interview requests from Mayer, and so in researching their childhoods, she strove to understand the two men’s character.

“That’s one of the questions I had when doing this book,” Mayer said: “Who are they, really? Are they ideologues, or are they just greedy? And the truth is, it turns out, because their ideology is an ideology of self-interest, there really isn’t a big difference between the two.”

Investigating the Kochs does not come without consequences, Mayer discovered. As she was reporting a 2010 New Yorker article exposing their sponsorship of the Tea Party, private detectives began shadowing her — a fact she did not discover until years later, when the investigators tried to use conservative media outlets to falsely accuse her of plagiarism.

The Koch network, and the networks of other conservative billionaires, have touched Dartmouth as well.

In Dark Money , Mayer writes that, until 2005, the munitions magnate John M. Olin funded a program to place conservative scholars in academia as a sort of “counter-intelligentsia.” Former Olin fellows made their way to many top schools, she said, including Dartmouth.

The John M. Olin Foundation also backed a network of conservative papers on college campuses, including The Dartmouth Review , which has nurtured right-wing pundits like Dinesh D’Souza and Laura Ingraham.

According to nonprofit tax filings for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Kochs donated at least $63,000 to Dartmouth between 2008 and 2013. At least one $10,000 gift went to the Department of Economics.

After the talk, Leehi Yona, a senior at Dartmouth, asked Mayer to comment on the Kochs’ gifts to the college, which she thought could pose a moral conflict. Yona, a climate change researcher affiliated with Divest Dartmouth, a group that lobbies the college to rid itself of investments in fossil fuels, pointed out that the Koch family’s fortune had been made mainly in oil .

Mayer said she wouldn’t editorialize about Dartmouth, not having reported on the college, but said that in general, colleges should make sure there are no “strings attached” to the money they receive from charitable donors.

Meanwhile, Granite Staters likely will have to wait until after the first-in-the-nation primaries to find out exactly how much dark money has come here, Mayer said — that is, if they ever get an answer.

The Kochs themselves have pledged $889 million for the whole race, though so far they have held back on an endorsement.

All the same, Mayer noted, each of the Republican contenders has made pilgrimages to the billionaire brothers in search of their support — with one exception: Donald Trump.

“I think part of the appeal is he’s not bought and paid for by the other billionaires,” she said of the real-estate magnate, whose fortune Forbes values at $4.5 billion. “But there’s an irony in it, in that you have a choice between a self-owned billionaire and other candidates who are owned by other billionaires. It seems like an unfortunately oligarchic-seeming choice.”

But Mayer hasn’t lost hope yet.

“What motivates me to write on these dark subjects is my maybe naive sense that if you shed light on them, which is what reporters are supposed to do,” she said, “you give the electorate the information it needs to make good decisions.”

A student of American history at Yale, Mayer believes that the country moves in cycles, where wealth inequality ebbs and flows with the currents of politics and reform. The present is a time of great wealth not unlike the late 19th century’s Gilded Age, she said, but if anything, the disparity now is reaching its high water mark.

“So I wouldn’t say it’s hopeless at all,” she said.

Above is from:  http://www.vnews.com/news/20956981-95/dark-money-investigates-koch-brothers-influence

Governor Rauner speaking to Rockford Chamber on Tuesday

Governor Bruce Rauner will be in Rockford ahead of the President Obama's speech on Wednesday.
Tuesday morning's visit is the first stop of a three city tour Rauner and the state's Lt. Governor are going on.
The two will be discussing what they call "government transformations to move Illinois forward."
The pair will speak to Rockford Chamber members at Giovanni's at 8:15 a
They'll then head to Rock Island and Springfield to host similar events later in the day.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Democracy 'Waking Up' with National Movement to Reform Campaign Finance

Common Dreams


Communities throughout the country are winning 'important victories' in the fight against big money, new report finds


Nadia Prupis, staff writer


"This report demolishes the conventional wisdom that nothing can be done to break the hold on our democracy that Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions have given to corporations and wealthy special interests." (Photo: Reuters)

As the 2016 election cycle shapes up to be the most expensive in history, communities throughout the country are winning "important victories" in the fight against big money, according to a new report released Monday by a coalition of progressive groups.

Since 2010—the year the Supreme Court codified corporate personhood and opened the doors to unlimited election spending with Citizens United v. FEC—at least 23 states have enacted disclosure laws to counteract the court's ruling, while a slew of cities and localities have launched efforts to prioritize small donor participation, Our Voices, Our Democracy (pdf) found.

"This report demolishes the conventional wisdom that nothing can be done to break the hold on our democracy that Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions have given to corporations and wealthy special interests," Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause’s senior vice president for strategy and programs, said Monday.

"People are working in their communities, and now connecting state-by-state, in building a national movement to preserve democracy and make sure our government listens to and reflects the people it serves," Hobert Flynn said. "And they’re winning important victories."

That includes more ballot initiatives in 2016 than any previous election cycle to "rebalance the system so it works for voters."

Ballot initiatives like South Dakota's Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, a proposal to safeguard transparency and political ethics; New York's push to close its infamous "LLC loophole," which enables special interest  groups to circumvent disclosure laws and contribution limits; and three separate measures in California that seek to overturn Citizens United, remove the ban on public financing, and require public disclosure of donors making contributions of $10,000 or more.

Other ballot initiatives are cropping up throughout the country, from Washington state to Washington, D.C., according to the report, released by advocacy groups Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy, Demos, Every Voice, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.

"The debate about the problem of money in politics is over," the report states. "The question is not 'if 'but 'when and how' we will reform our democracy."

The report comes as a potentially groundbreaking voting rights case continues in North Carolina, where plaintiffs are arguing that the state's election laws act as roadblocks for black and minority voters.

In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama pledged to make dark money a priority of his remaining year in office, stating, "We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections."

Common Cause, along with dozens of other organizations, delivered one million petitions to the president following his address urging him to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending.

As of the report's publication, Obama has said he is "seriously considering" heeding the call. To that end, more than 100 groups are scheduling dozens of actions in the nation's capital for the week of April 11-18, including a three-day mobilization they are calling "Democracy Awakening," to call for reform proposals that will restore and strengthen voting rights and curb the influence of money in politics.

It will be the first mass demonstration calling for reform on both of these fronts, the NAACP said Monday.

"We’re not talking about the nostalgic disenfranchisement of 1965. Once again, states with the worst histories of discrimination are pushing for new barriers to block the young, the poor, the elderly and minority voters from the ballot in 2016," said NAACP president Cornell William Brooks. "We must answer the call for action."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

ABOVE IS FROM:  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/02/08/democracy-waking-national-movement-reform-campaign-finance