Kaiser Doubles Down on Investments in Renewables to Reduce Impacts of Climate Change

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Saying that it was “concerned about climate change and its threat to human health,” major health care provider Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday that it’s doubling down on its commitment to renewable energy. The Oakland-based company, which runs hospitals and clinics across the country, detailed plans to purchase enough renewable energy to provide for half its energy needs in California and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions nationally by 30 percent. “Climate change isn’t a distant threat,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s environmental stewardship officer. “The health impacts of a changing climate can be felt today in the form of increasing rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments, spread of infectious diseases, heat stress and injuries from severe weather events. By addressing climate change for the future, we are improving the health of communities today.” Kaiser committed to supporting three major projects that will come online in 2016 and...

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Nestlé to Dump Artificial Colors, Flavors in U.S. Candy, Something It Did in Europe Years Ago

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – They still won’t be health foods, but Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has announced it will remove artificial coloring and flavoring from all its candy products sold in the U.S. It will be phasing them out throughout the year and plans to have removed them all by the end of 2015. The company said they will start arriving in stores by the middle of the year and will be identified by the words “No artificial flavors or colors” on the packaging. The move will affect 10 brands and more than 250 products including legacy candies like Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Oh Henry!, Sno-Caps and Raisinets, which date back to the 1920s. “We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president for USA Confections & Snacks. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first...

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Portland to Generate Electricity Within its own Water Pipes

By Ben Coxworth, Gizmag – There’s a lot of water constantly moving through the municipal pipelines of most major cities. While the water itself is already destined for various uses, why not harness its flow to produce hydroelectric power? Well, that’s exactly what Lucid Energy’s LucidPipe Power System does, and Portland, Oregon has just become the latest city to adopt it. LucidPipe simply replaces a stretch of existing gravity-fed conventional pipeline, that’s used for transporting potable water. As the water flows through, it spins four 42-inch (107-cm) turbines, each one of which is hooked up to a generator on the outside of the pipe. The presence of the turbines reportedly doesn’t slow the water’s flow rate significantly, so there’s virtually no impact on pipeline efficiency. The 200-kW Portland system was privately financed by Harbourton Alternative Energy, and its installation was completed late last December. It’s now undergoing reliability and...

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Watch John Boehner Respond To Question On Looming ‘Clean DHS Bill’ In The Strangest Way (VIDEO)

by DYLAN HOCK – Clearly losing the war on his bluff to defund DHS over the Obama administration’s recent actions on immigration, Speaker John Boehner’s body language spoke volumes Thursday, even as he remained largely silent listening to The Takeaway’s Todd Zwillich direct a question on the issue at him. Zwillich pressed Boehner to give real, updated responses on the issue now that Mitch McConnell has made his own position clear.Boehner now knows he will be receiving “a clean DHS funding bill,” yet continues to stick to his wait-and-see responses, as if he still has cards up his sleeve. Yet this “emperor’s” new clothes are as clear as ever, and there’s not a card in sight. Zwillich asked: “With respect to you Mr. Speaker, your answers about what you are going to do are the same as yesterday. Mitch McConnell has said exactly what he is going to do, you know exactly...

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Media Matters/Guardian: O’Reilly’s Lie About L.A. Riots Exposed

by ericlewis0 –   From Media Matters: The Guardian reports that six of Bill O’Reilly’s former colleagues dispute the embattled Fox News host’s claim that he and his crew were “attacked by protesters” during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.O’Reilly covered the riots, which took place after several LAPD officers were acquitted on charges they used excessive force against Rodney King, while serving as the host of Inside Edition. In a February 20 interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, O’Reilly claimed that during the riots, “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.” In a 2006 interview, O’Reilly said, “They were throwing bricks and stones at us. Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.” Several of O’Reilly’s former Inside Edition colleagues — “reporters Bonnie Strauss, Tony Cox and Rick Kirkham, and crew members Theresa McKeown, Bob McCall and Neil...

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Compares Organized Workers to ISIS

Republican presidential hopeful says battle against organized workers has prepared him to take on foreign militants by Jon Queally – Speaking to the audience at the annual rightwing convergence known as CPAC on Thursday, Republican Governor Scott Walker indicated that his ongoing attack on the rights of workers in his home state of Wisconsin is preparing him for a possible future fight with foreign militants such as those aligned with the Islamic State fighters now operating in Iraq and Syria. “We need a leader who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait until they take the fight to American soil,” declared Walker, a 2016 presidential hopeful, to the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same in the rest of the world,” he added in a clear reference to...

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Contracts for 5 Million Workers to Expire in 2015

By Ned Resnikoff, Al Jazeera – Millions of unionized workers in the U.S. will see their contracts expire over the next year, and labor leaders say that even non-union workers should hope those contract negotiations go well for the labor movement. The heads of the unions affiliated with the labor federation AFL-CIO said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters that they expect new contract negotiations to have a noticeable effect on the broader economy, due to the issues up for negotiation and the number of people covered by those contracts. The AFL-CIO, which includes unions representing more than 12 million workers, said it estimates that roughly 5 million union members work under labor contracts that are set to expire in 2015. “We’re all in this together,” said Lee Sanders, president of the public sector union AFSCME. He was not just referring to union members. As union membership has declined over recent...

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All 6,000 Mosques in Jordan to Run on Solar Energy

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – As global oil prices continue to drastically fluctuate up and down over the years, the Kingdom of Jordan has announced that all of their mosques will soon run on solar energy, in an attempt to save money and promote sustainable development. Jordan is a country almost devoid of natural resources – most of their land is completely barren. The Jordanian economy is beset by insufficient supplies of water, oil and other resources, and to make things even worse, they import 96% of the energy they use. Given their rough circumstances, I feel that this is definitely a good approach. Ahmad Abu Saa, of the Renewable Energy Department at the ministry stated “that photovoltaic solar systems for power generation will be installed at the Kingdom’s mosques under a project to be implemented in the course of this year.” The project will start by covering 120 mosques and...

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Here Comes Fascism Wrapped In A Flag And Carrying A Patriotism Test For Voters

by T. STEELMAN – The Constitution grants American citizens the right to vote. The only way that can be stripped from you is by becoming a felon — and even that has been questioned – or renouncing your citizenship. However, voting rights seem to be rolling back rather than moving forward. We’ve seen Republican measures in many states that seek to curtail voting rights, taking us back to the mid-20th century. Right after the Civil War, voting rights were extended to black Americans. That doesn’t mean that they always got to vote, though. In fact, the opposite was true; when it came to black Americans voting, white Americans put many barriers in their way. The poll tax, literacy tests, white primaries and grandfather clauses were all abolished over time but, while they were active, they prevented most Southern blacks from voting. That all changed in 1965 with the passage of...

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UN Reveals ‘Credible and Reliable’ Evidence of US Military Torture in Afghanistan

New report finds U.S.-backed Afghan government still committing widespread torture by Sarah Lazare – The United Nations revealed Wednesday it has “credible and reliable” evidence that people recently detained at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan have faced torture and abuse. The UN’s Assistance Mission and High Commissioner for Human Rights exposed the findings in a report based on interviews with 790 “conflict-related detainees” between February 2013 and December 2014. According to the investigation, two detainees “provided sufficiently credible and reliable accounts of torture in a U.S. facility in Maydan Wardak in September 2013 and a U.S. Special Forces facility at Baghlan in April 2013.” The report states that the allegations of torture were investigated by “relevant authorities” but provided no information about the outcome of the alleged probes or the nature of the mistreatment. This is not the first public disclosure of evidence of torture during the U.S. war in Afghanistan,...

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Dumb And Dumber In The Republican House Education Bill

by Jeff Bryant – For sure, there is a lot for Democrats to dislike about the current version of No Child Left Behind federal education legislation steaming toward approval in the US House of Representatives. The bill, HR5 the Student Success Act, was written completely by Republicans, passed through committee without any Democratic support, and has already drawn strong opposition from the Obama administration and others. But with Republicans firmly in charge of efforts to rewrite NCLB, it’s important to identify specifics in the bill that should become bright lines Democrats can’t cross and points for inclusion to fight for in Senate negotiations and joint deliberations. What’s Dumb At the top of the list of what Democrats oppose in the Student Success Act is the insistence among Republicans that federal money for public schools be further constricted. While a number of state governors and prominent voices on Capitol Hill have come...

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Duped by For-Profit Schools, Students Gain Big Allies in Push for Loan Forgiveness

Answering Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call, Massachusetts AG slams for-profit colleges as ‘free to break the law’ By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has asked the U.S. Department of Education to forgive the debt of hundreds of students who were forced into loans and thousands of dollars in tuition payments by the failing for-profit Corinthian Colleges. “Schools should not obtain public monies based on actions in violation of state law, and students should not be required to pay for such violations,” Healey wrote in a recent letter to the Department of Education. “Based on our investigative findings, we believe the federal loans of Corinthian students in Massachusetts should be canceled.” Healey joins the growing call, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to forgive Corinthian student loan debts. Warren has previously slammed the for-profit college company as predatory and criticized the government for subsidizing an industry that...

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Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton

by Joseph Mulkerin, Truthout | Op-Ed – Ever since the 2012 election results were certified, the conventional wisdom has been that Hillary Clinton is all but guaranteed a coronation in the 2016 primaries. She has racked up a series of endorsements from prominent Democrats. As early as July 2013, an MSNBC article referred to her as the “presumptive nominee,” a term generally reserved for the Democratic candidate who has clinched the majority of party delegates. Although her support has slipped slightly in the past month, she still holds a commanding, and arguably prohibitive, lead in polling of Democratic primary candidates, with 88 percent of self-described “solid liberals”pledging support for her. It is possible that this high degree of support may result more from the perception that she is inevitable rather than from widespread substantive agreement with many of her policies, because upon close examination, there is a litany of positions...

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Exclusive: Here is the New Homeland Security Report on ‘Sovereign Citizen Extremist’ Violence

Does it live up to CNN’s hype about domestic right-wing terror? You decide by Jesse Walker – Reason has obtained the federal government’s recent report on the sovereign citizens, a largely unorganized subculture whose elaborate legal theories say they do not have to follow most laws. Members of the movement are infamous for filing nuisance lawsuits, making their own drivers’ licenses and license plates, and sometimes attempting to form their own parallel institutions of government. Some of them are also prone to violence, and it is this hotheaded subgroup that is the subject of the report. The intelligence assessment, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prepared in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was circulated to law enforcement on February 5 but was not released to the public. (DHS did not respond to repeated requests from Reason for comment.) CNN revealed its existence last Friday, but the network quoted only a couple...

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CIA Evidence from Whistleblower Trial Could Tilt Iran Nuclear Talks

by Norman Solomon – A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences—casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program. With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. In its zeal to prosecute Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information about Operation Merlin—which provided flawed nuclear weapon design information to Iran in 2000—the U.S. government has damaged its own standing with the IAEA. The trial made public a treasure trove of information about the Merlin operation. Last week Bloomberg News reported from Vienna, where IAEA is headquartered, that the agency “will probably review intelligence...

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Snowden Document Reveals Huge Scope of Canada’s Domestic Surveillance

Canada’s spy agency collects and stores millions of citizens’ emails each year by Lauren McCauley – Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), collects millions of emails and other information from its citizens and stores them for “days to months,” according to a document leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and revealed by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept on Wednesday. According to the top-secret CSE document, analysts “watched visits to government websites and collected about 400,000 emails to the government every day, storing some of the data for years,” CBC reports. Such online activity includes Canadians filing taxes, writing to members of Parliament and applying for passports. The sweeping data collection is being carried out in an alleged effort to protect government computers. Using a tool called PonyExpress, the surveillance agency scans the documents for “suspicious links or attachments.” The 2010 document reveals that the system detects about...

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The GOP Is Finding That It’s Harder Than It Looks

by RationalPolitics – I remember as a kid I used to watch my dad drive and think, that doesn’t look so hard.  After all, I was pretty good at driving the bumper cars at the amusement park, and how much different could this be?  I also remember the first time my dad let me behind the wheel on a Sunday morning in a deserted shopping mall parking lot and said, “drive”.  I suddenly realized that it’s a lot harder than it looks. As we get older we realize that things look a lot different from the outside looking in than when we suddenly find ourselves on the inside.  We have all known people who talk a good game, but never seem to achieve success when given the opportunity. As we get older we either gain the humility that affords us the caution to go slowly, take advice and stay focused, or the hubris...

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Florida Republicans Spend Nearly $1 Million On Obamacare Alternative And Nobody Signs Up

by JAMESON PARKER – Florida Republicans were eager to dispel the suggestion that conservatives have no practical alternative to Obamacare, and will be screwing millions of people out of health insurance should their incessant efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act actually come to fruition. So, to prove everybody wrong, the state’s Republican lawmakers designed a rival marketplace that they hoped would dissuade people from seeking insurance on the federal (read: Socialist Obama) exchange. Spoiler: It’s a massive failure. The Republican-dominated Florida legislature has been adamant in refusing to work with the new healthcare laws or even expand Medicaid. The partisan fight has prevented an estimated 750,000 Floridians from receiving health insurance, despite the new law. That’s too bad, because other conservative states that swallowed their pride and began working with the ACA have seen massive cuts in their uninsured rates (go figure!) and overwhelming satisfaction from the people who...

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‘Today Is THE Day’ as FCC Readies Historic Vote on Net Neutrality

After millions made it clear they would not allow the commission, lawmakers or the telecom industry ‘to mess with the Internet,’ broad coalition plans celebrations on verge of historic vote by Jon Queally – Champions of the concept known as net neutrality—who have literally been counting the hours—are preparing celebrations on Thursday as the FCC is expected to officially enshrine the policy by reclassifying the Internet as a public utility – a decision which follows intense lobbying over recent months by grassroots organizations and web users who say the vote represents the most important ruling by the commission in a generation. As Free Press, one of the groups that have led the charge to defend net neutrality by having the FCC place the Internet under what is known as Title II protection, tweeted early Thursday morning: “Today is THE day.” The FCC’s meeting is scheduled for 10:30 AM EST, with the...

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Martian Mystery Plume Puzzles Scientists

By David Szondy, Gizmag – Astronomers are scratching their heads over mysterious plumes that have been sighted in the atmosphere of Mars. First seen by amateur astronomers using Earthbound telescopes, the plumes are at an altitude much higher than that of any clouds yet seen on the Red Planet, and may not even be clouds. Clouds have been seen on Mars since the 1870s and observations sent back by probes like Curiosity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have greatly increased our understanding of the Martian atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean that our neighbor can’t still surprise us. The mysterious plumes were first reported by amateur astronomers in 2012 as they rose to altitudes of 250 km (155 mi) over the same region of Terra Cimmeria (195 degrees west, 45 degrees south) on two occasions. They were seen on the limb or observed edge of the planet at the day/night terminator during...

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