Category Archives: Infrastructure

In Arizona, the will of the voters is irrelevant, the ‘Kochtopus’ corporatocracy decides what is law

Last month, the City of Tempe voted by a margin of 9-to-1 in support of more transparency in political spending. Near unanimity is virtually unheard of, and yet on the issue of the corrupting influence of anonymous “dark money” on elections, it was achieved. (It would appear that only lobbyists and political operatives who live in Tempe voted against the measure).

The City of Phoenix was also considering a similar measure to curb “dark money” in city elections, but our anti-democratic Tea-Publican state legislators who are dependent on the “Kochtopus” network of “dark money” stepped in with H.B. 2153, which would bar local control by cities and counties, and even the state from requiring political non-profits to disclose their anonymous “dark money” donors.

These anti-democratic Tea-Publican legislators effectively said to Arizonans “What the people of Arizona want is irrelevant, this state is a corporatocracy run by the ‘Kochtopus.’ They decide what is the law, and you will obey!” 91% of Tempe voters saw a problem. Arizona just outlawed a fix:

Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, the bill’s sponsor, said the landslide passage of the Tempe measure on March 13 didn’t deter him.

“Lots of people in my district want the right to remain anonymous [read my corporate campaign donors] and that’s who I’m here to represent,” Leach said after the Senate passed the bill in March.

“Charitable organizations shouldn’t have the privacy of their donors jeopardized simply because they weigh in on a political issue that may affect them,” Leach said in a statement Thursday.

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Plan to Modernize TEP Power Plant in Tucson will Produce More Air Pollution

TEP's Sundt generating station on Irvington Road in Tucson.

TEP’s Sundt generating station on Irvington Road on Tucson’s south side.

Tucson Electric Power is proposing to modernize the Sundt Generating Station  at 4120 E Irvington Rd. in Tucson by replacing two 1950’s era steam units with 10 natural gas-fired combustion engines. The purpose of the new engines is to ramp up more quickly and to balance the variability associated with solar and wind energy generation. But all that ramping spouts more pollution into the air than the current steam units.

TEP claims that these units are part of a larger goal for 30% renewable energy by 2030, but gas-fired engines should not be equated with clean, renewable power from wind and solar. The Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (“RICE”) units are fossil-fuel based generating units that would create significant greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, the project expects to cause an increase in emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter (fine particles PM2.5 and coarse particles PM10) and volatile organic compounds.

Over a third of carbon dioxide emissions in the US are from power plants.
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U.S. elections are vulnerable to cyber attack in 2018

The 2018 mid-term elections are vulnerable to attack from what the Russians may have learned from their probing cyber attacks on state election systems during the 2016 election.

NBC News reports, U.S. intel: Russia compromised seven states prior to 2016 election/span>:

The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election — but never told the states involved, according to multiple U.S. officials.

Top-secret intelligence requested by President Barack Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts — synthesizing months of work — had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases.

Three senior intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community believed the states as of January 2017 were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.

The officials say systems in the seven states were compromised in a variety of ways, with some breaches more serious than others, from entry into state websites to penetration of actual voter registration databases.

While officials in Washington informed several of those states in the run-up to the election that foreign entities were probing their systems, none were told the Russian government was behind it, state officials told NBC News.

All state and federal officials who spoke to NBC News agree that no votes were changed and no voters were taken off the rolls.

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Head of U.S. Cyber Command suggests Trump is failing to defend U.S. against Russian cyber warfare

Remember the right-wing conspiracy theory that there was a stand down order in Benghazi! That FOX News myth has been entirely discredited despite Hollywood fiction like 13 Hours.

But it is now increasingly fair to ask whether there is at least an implied “stand down order” from the Trump White House to the intelligence agencies to not take more aggressive actions to thwart Russia’s ongoing cyber warfare against the U.S. and to protect our elections.

Last week at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Cia Director Mike Pompeo, and National Security Director Admiral Mike Rogers on whether they had received specific direction from President Trump to blunt future Russian interference efforts. The officials indicated they had not received a specific direction of the sort from the president. Live coverage: FBI director testifies to Senate Intelligence Committee.

This despite the fact that all the intelligence agency heads reconfirmed that they believe the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s assessment that there has been no decrease in Russian interference since.

“We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here,” Pompeo told Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned that Russia views its influence efforts against the 2016 election as successful, and warned that the 2018 midterms could become a target for Moscow.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Coats said.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo asserted that the intelligence community is engaged in a “significant effort” to counter Russian and other foreign influence operations against the United States.

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Trump and GOP Congress leave our elections vulnerable to Russian attack, Democrats offer a plan to secure our elections

Following the announcement on Friday that 13 Russians and an American citizen have been indicted for their role in foreign interference in the 2016 election, our Twitter-troll-in chief responded like a defendant demonstrating Consciousness of Guilt:

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Trump has posted a series of tweets over the weekend asserting his innocence and attempting to cast blame on others for the Russian attack on the 2016 election. But Trump has not responded as any American president would, whose solemn duty it is to protect the nation at war with a hostile adversary. Trump has not been critical of his pal Vladimir Putin, nor condemned the Russian interference in the 2016 election, nor kicked Russian diplomats out of the country, nor imposed the sanctions mandated by Congress that he has so far refused to impose. He has done nothing to hold Russia accountable for its actions.

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Spy v. Spy: James Risen explains how the U.S. knows so much about the Russian cyber attack on the U.S. election

James Risen is a former New York Times national security reporter who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his stories about President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. He also was a member of The New York Times reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for coverage of the September 11th attacks and terrorism. Risen also authored two books about the CIA, The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB (Random House) (2003), and State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (The Free Press) (2006).

You may recall that Risen was subject to being held in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify about the sources of his information in United States v. Sterling. In the end, Risen was not called to testify at a trial, which ended a seven-year legal fight over whether he could/would be forced to identify his confidential sources.

James Risen is now working as an investigative reporter for The Intercept. In his first column for The Intercept, his latest investigative reporting is the provocatively titled IS DONALD TRUMP A TRAITOR?:Trump and Russia Part 1 (excerpts):

The fact that such an unstable egomaniac occupies the White House is the greatest threat to the national security of the United States in modern history.

Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor?

Did he gain the presidency through collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin?

One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment.

His 2016 campaign is the subject of an ongoing federal inquiry that could determine whether Trump or people around him worked with Moscow to take control of the U.S. government. Americans must now live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the president has the best interests of the United States or those of the Russian Federation at heart.

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