Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wednesday Mashup (7/1/09)

(And I also posted here.)

  • This tells us the following…

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A federal judge has struck down the Bush administration's change to a rule designed to protect the northern spotted owl from logging in national forests.

    U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled from Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday that the U.S. Forest Service failed to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of changing the rule to make it easier to cut down forest habitat of species such as the spotted owl and salmon on 193 million acres of national forests.

    "I am hopeful that this is the last nail in the coffin to (President George W.) Bush's assault on our public forests," said Pete Frost, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center in Eugene, which represented plaintiffs in one of two cases challenging the rule.
    Amen to that; this is actually a follow up to this prior post, in which the Obama Administration…

    …told a federal court that it will not defend the Bush administration's decision to cut back protections for the northern spotted owl.

    Interior Department lawyers said in the motion that the decision was based on an inspector general's report finding there was political interference in owl protections by a former deputy assistant interior secretary.
    And that person would be Julie MacDonald; the prior post gets into all of the gory details (the best that can be said for her is that she’s gone).

  • Here’s another item of interest…

    WASHINGTON — A federal panel said Wednesday that a judge should reconsider the $110,000 in fines he levied against two companies in the 2002 Quecreek Mine accident.

    The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission's preliminary decision was in response to challenges by PBS Coals Inc. and Musser Engineering Inc. against the fines levied by an administrative law judge last fall. A federal safety panel had previously recommended lesser fines of $5,000 against each company.
    As noted here…

    In August 2003, the (U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration) blamed the accident on inaccurate mine maps and said the companies could have done more to ensure the miners' safety. The safety administration had suggested PBS Coals and Musser Engineering were moderately negligent, but (Administrative Law Judge Robert) Lesnick found both companies "grossly negligent" (Lesnick said the companies played "Russian roulette" with the lives of the miners and exhibited a "very high level of negligence”).

    (Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission) Chairman Michael Duffy said he was having "serious problems" with characterizing the actions of the companies as "gross negligence." He asked why the panel should not be influenced by considering what was standard operating procedures by companies involved in mining in Pennsylvania during the time period in question.
    So it sounds like the federal panel is contemplating reinstating the fines that were originally referred to as “outrageous” by the United Mine Workers of America here in 2004.

    And this post about the tragedy of the Sago Mine Collapse in West Virginia tells us the following (12 of the 13 mine workers were killed)…

    A New York Times article dated August 9, 2004 detailed the Bush administration's close relationship with the coal mining industry. While the piece largely focused on environmental issues, it still makes it clear that (the) administration's concern for the health and safety of coal miners took a back seat to their concern for the bank accounts of their allies at the mining companies.
    Given all of this, I cannot imagine how the existing judgments against PBS Coals and Musser Engineering can be overturned (well see what happens, though).

    I also wanted to note that the acting governor of PA at the time, Mark Schweiker (pictured), did a commendable job of communicating news developments as the Quecreek drama unfolded (PA having learned its lesson in media disaster management after Three Mile Island – Schweiker assumed the role of governor after Tom Ridge was named to head the Department of Homeland Security in 2001). I often wondered if he would have beaten Ed Rendell in a head-to-head race for governor, but Schweiker opted out of public life to become president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, leaving Attorney General Mike Fisher as the Repug standard bearer who would lose to Rendell in 2002.

  • You’re absolutely not going to believe this item from Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik, including the following…

    Two weeks ago, I praised Fox News for being one of the only TV news operations seriously questioning the administration of President Barack Obama as it pushes an agenda of massive social change not seen since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.

    Whatever the reasons for Fox's tenacity, I said, it is the one channel that seems absolutely committed to being a watchdog on the White House -- a job crucial to any notion of press responsibility.
    It is to laugh, my fellow prisoners...

  • This tells us how, after enjoying exclusive coverage of Dubya, Fix Noise blasts ABC for last Wednesday's “infomercial” on health care.

  • Also, here is some typical Fix Noise punditry on the stimulus from Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke...

    BARNES: There's already a lot of stimulus in place. We have had gasoline prices that dropped like crazy, helping the poor and the middle class. Rich people don't get much more for that. Gas for their limos maybe doesn't cost as much. We've seen the Federal Reserve pumping all this money into banks, another $150 billion to go out. As we know, because there's a problem, there will be billions more after that. Look what the Federal Reserve is doing, it's buying up tens of billions of these mortgage securities. They're increasing the money supply. They're buying treasury bonds. There's a lot of stimulus out there. If you added some tax cuts, plus some spending to ease the pain of the recession, I think it would be great shape.

    KONDRACKE: All that's being done and the economy is still cratering.

  • Here is still more from the recently sane Shep Smith...

    Fox News' Shepard Smith falsely suggested that a $500 individual tax credit, reportedly included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, would benefit people who don't currently pay taxes, asking, "I know we don't know the details yet, but $300 billion in tax cuts -- how do you cut taxes on people who don't pay taxes?" In fact, all American workers are required to pay taxes on their wages for Social Security and Medicare under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.

  • And finally, I give you this...

    Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) took the lies (about the stimulus) to a new level today when he — with the help of an enthusiastic Fox News’s Megyn Kelly — declared that the 2009 omnibus bill included funding for a train traveling straight from “Disney” to Nevada’s most famous brothel, the Moonlight Bunny Ranch (supposedly supported by Harry Reid, of course).
  • Thanks for playing our game, Dave - here are some lovely parting gifts...

  • And in a typical no-class move, Sen. Jim Inhofe said here that Al Franken, who was FINALLY proclaimed the winner of the Minnesota U.S. Senate race yesterday, was “a clown.”

  • This tells us that Inhofe “derailed a study on motorcycle safety by making sure it was to be conducted by an underfunded Oklahoma state agency.”

  • This tells us that, in his global warming denialist hysteria, he decried a children’s book on the subject published by one of the producers of An Inconvenient Truth.

  • This tells us that Inhofe claimed as follows…

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Jim Inhofe, who earlier said a criminal investigation "probably should be'' conducted into allegations the EPA suppressed a climate change report, said Tuesday he is not qualified to make that determination.

    In his interview with the Tulsa World on Tuesday, he also said that his own investigation into the matter has not uncovered anything that would warrant a criminal investigation.

  • This tells us Inhofe said "There has never been a documented case of torture at Guantánamo" and he also called Obama’s Cairo speech “un-American.”
  • Well, given a choice, all I can say is that I’d rather be a clown than an idiot.
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