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Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lt. Governor Tim Murray's Public Destruction

It wasn't just lying about a car accident that destroyed Lt. Governor Tim Murray's political future.

How long will Massachusetts voters tolerate corruption and cronyism, accompanied with incompetence?

McLaughlin raised money for Murray, employees say
Fund-raising may have been illegal; worries kept lieutenant governor awake on night of crash
By Sean P. Murphy and Andrea Estes
Globe Staff

To hear Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray tell it, former Chelsea housing chief Michael E. McLaughlin was just a campaign volunteer. Though phone records show that the two men called each other 193 times over the past two years - including one call on a Sunday at 1:30 a.m. - Murray aides insist that McLaughlin played no special role.

But a Globe investigation shows that the former Chelsea housing chief ran an extensive political operation for the lieutenant governor right up until McLaughlin resigned in November amid an uproar over his $360,000 salary. The FBI is investigating whether McLaughlin broke federal laws, questioning housing authority employees about McLaughlin’s political activities and management of the agency.

More than two dozen politicians, housing authority employees, and Murray campaign workers say that McLaughlin was a key fund-raiser and organizer for the lieutenant governor even though, as a federally funded employee, McLaughlin was barred from most political activity, especially at work.

Housing authority employees portray a workplace that McLaughlin had turned into a political machine, inappropriately pressuring workers to give time or money to Murray’s campaign and others’.

“Mike made it clear we had to go to this rally [for Murray and running mate Deval Patrick] and that we had to bring our families,’’ said one employee, who asked to remain anonymous because of fear of retaliation. “He wouldn’t let up on it. He kept asking, ‘Who are you bringing?’’’ McLaughlin also provided buses to take elderly public housing residents to a 2006 rally for Murray and Patrick, and records suggest that the housing authority footed the bill, which would violate state and federal law. The only record of payment for buses around the time of the rally is an expenditure of $850 in housing authority funds.

And several employees told the Globe that McLaughlin’s aides sometimes asked for significant cash donations to Murray and other politicians, donations that do not appear in campaign reports. “He always wanted it in cash. No checks,’’ said one employee.

If cash gifts of $50 or more were collected, it would be a serious breach of campaign law.

Campaign presence

Murray aides flatly deny that McLaughlin was ever a fund-raiser for the lieutenant governor, insisting that he was merely a campaign volunteer, which would be legal if he volunteered on his own time. They say they know nothing about any cash contributions collected by McLaughlin or his aides and note that Murray has already returned or given to charity all donations from McLaughlin, his family, and some associates.

“From what we saw, [McLaughlin] did not host a fund-raiser or have his name attached to anything concerning a fund-raiser,’’ said Murray spokesman Scott Ferson. “Did he do other stuff we didn’t know about? I have no idea.’’

McLaughlin, who is facing an array of state and federal investigations into his conduct as Chelsea housing chief, declined through his attorney to comment.

While publicly downplaying his ties to McLaughlin, Murray has told confidants that the scandal over McLaughlin’s extraordinary pay kept him awake the night before his mysterious high-speed crash on Nov. 2. Murray had talked to McLaughlin several times while the Globe was preparing an article about McLaughlin’s salary, phone records show, but Murray said he didn’t know the salary amount until the story was published on Oct. 30. The report triggered multiple investigations.

Murray “felt betrayed. He felt played’’ by McLaughlin, explained one person close to the lieutenant governor. Restless, Murray went out for an early-morning drive to clear his head.

The drive ended abruptly at 5:26 a.m. when his state-owned Crown Victoria slammed into a rock ledge along Interstate 190 at a speed in excess of 90 miles per hour, rolling over twice and triggering the political crisis of his career. Murray’s shifting accounts of how he came to be driving so early in the morning and why he crashed have raised so many questions that he recently hired Ferson, a crisis communications specialist, to handle the fall-out.

Fund-raising rules

Legally, McLaughlin is not permitted to raise money for politicians at all because, as an employee of an agency that receives federal funding, he is covered by the restrictive Hatch Act. McLaughlin is not allowed to engage in any political activity on the job and he cannot conduct political fund-raising on his personal time either, though he may make personal contributions.

Massachusetts law also prohibits fund-raising by appointed public officials such as McLaughlin and pressuring employees to take part in politics.

Murray campaign officials say they are well aware of the laws and did not violate them. Even though McLaughlin’s phone records show that he and Murray’s professional fund-raiser, Kellie O’Neill, called each other at least 51 times since 2008 - including 11 calls in the weeks before a 2010 fund-raiser where McLaughlin introduced Murray and collected donations - O’Neill said she only discussed issues related to campaign volunteers and personal business.

“I never discuss fund-raising with federal or state employees,’’ she said, when asked about McLaughlin. “The law is clear.’’

Interviews with more than two dozen people who attended Murray fund-raisers or made contributions, as well as a review of campaign records, show that McLaughlin played a central role in organizing at least three fund-raisers for Murray since 2008. Each time, McLaughlin introduced Murray to audiences composed mainly of housing authority officials and McLaughlin associates who typically donated $100 or more to Murray.

“Mike controls it real tight,’’ said one person who was at a 2010 fund-raiser for Murray organized by McLaughlin. “Mike was there taking the checks and putting them in a manila envelope.’’

At each event, people who were there say Murray thanked McLaughlin for his help.

McLaughlin also got Murray’s support in other ways. Less than three weeks after a 2008 fundraiser, McLaughlin’s son Matthew started a $60,000 state job with Murray’s recommendation. Matthew McLaughlin was recently fired for allegedly falsifying attendance records.

Politicians in the Merrimack Valley, where McLaughlin once served as a state representative and municipal official, say they’ve known for a long time that McLaughlin was “Murray’s guy’’ in the region.

“There is no mystery about that,’’ said Israel Reyes, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Lawrence in 2009 with McLaughlin’s backing. “I knew McLaughlin raised money for Murray. I knew because I was in politics. McLaughlin raised money for a host of candidates. . . . He helped me.’’

Operative at work

Numerous current and former Chelsea Housing Authority employees, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, say that McLaughlin boasted about his close relationship with Murray, though he sometimes groused at what he said the campaign wanted him to do.

“He was, like, ‘Oh, I’m on the hook for $5,000 - they want $5,000 from me,’ because that’s what he was - a fund-raiser,’’ one employee recalled. “That’s when he would put the squeeze on. He’d get on the phone, calling his friends, raising money.’’

Housing authority employees say McLaughlin never directly ordered them to give money or help candidates, but he would cajole them to help with campaigns and, on at least one occasion, someone stuffed information about a 2010 Murray fund-raiser into employee mailboxes.

Workers said it was clear what the boss wanted, and that the pressure to comply was unmistakable. As one employee said, “If you were good to Mike, he was good to you.’’

One maintenance worker said he bought a $100 ticket to a Murray fund-raiser at the cozy Irish Cottage restaurant in Methuen on June 25, 2010, because he knew that other authority employees were going. At least 22 housing authority employees, outside professionals, and their relatives contributed in connection with the event, campaign records show, which brought in nearly $10,000 from people with ties to McLaughlin.

“I didn’t want to look like the one who didn’t [contribute], that I’m the one who didn’t support him,’’ said this employee.

Political fund-raising “was pretty much done in the open,’’ said another employee who remembered donating cash for Murray’s campaign at the office, though there is no record of such a donation. “[James] McNichols or [Paul] McCarthy would say, ‘Hey, I need $100.’ That was the usual amount. . . . Sometimes there were tickets. Tickets to some event. But I didn’t want the damn tickets.’’

McNichols was the authority’s accountant and a close friend of McLaughlin now under investigation for shredding records; McCarthy is a former authority employee.

It is not clear what became of the cash donations that employees say they gave to McLaughlin’s associates, but state law bans cash donations of $50 or more, and cash donations of any amount must be itemized and the donors identified.

The Murray campaign provided a list of recent cash contributors, but it did not include any of the three housing employees who told the Globe they gave cash to McLaughlin’s aides purportedly for Murray. Ferson said the campaign knows nothing about them and that Murray does not accept cash contributions over the $50 limit.

Political injury after crash

Murray was alone in his state-owned Crown Victoria when he went off Interstate 190 early on Nov. 2, demolishing the vehicle but, remarkably, leaving him without serious physical injuries. The political injury, however, was substantial as Murray repeatedly changed his account of the event.

The lieutenant governor initially said he was inspecting damage from a late-fall snowstorm - though it was dark - and picking up coffee and a newspaper. Later, Murray said he went out after his daughter got into bed with him and his wife and woke him up.

Pinpointing the cause of the accident proved no less elusive. Murray initially agreed with State Police investigators who said the vehicle slid on black ice, but he later agreed with State Police analysts who concluded that he probably fell asleep at the wheel, based on data from the vehicle’s black box.

Now, it appears that the precipitous fall of McLaughlin - and the resulting state and federal investigations - may have provided the backdrop for the whole episode, spurring Murray to take the early-morning ride.

The lieutenant governor felt angry at McLaughlin, explained the person close to Murray, and surprised by his deceptions.

“Now, everybody is saying it was so obvious that McLaughlin was such a bad guy. But it wasn’t’’ prior to the Oct. 30 revelations about McLaughlin’s high salary, according to this person.

McLaughlin, 66, had, however, long been a controversial figure who had been repeatedly investigated but never prosecuted for ethical lapses. When he was named director of Chelsea Housing in 2000, Chelsea city manager Guy Santagate objected, warning that McLaughlin would pull the city back into the bad old days of corruption.

Murray should have known all this, said one Merrimack Valley official, because at least two people told him about McLaughlin’s background.

“He was warned that Mike McLaughlin was dangerous,’’ said this official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid alienating the Patrick administration.

Political favors

But McLaughlin was eager to help Murray from the day they met, said Boston City Council president Stephen Murphy, who introduced them in 2005. At the time, Murray was the 37-year-old mayor of Worcester getting ready for his first statewide run for office, while McLaughlin was a veteran pol whom Murphy knew from his own statewide campaign for treasurer.

“Mike McLaughlin just married [Murray],’’ said Murphy, noting that he shares Murray’s outrage over McLaughlin’s salary at the housing authority.

Over time, McLaughlin’s value to Murray became obvious, according to one Murray campaign worker who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.

McLaughlin “rang the bell for him [Murray],’’ said this worker. “Mike got it done: Delegates, people, organization, money.’’

McLaughlin reveled in his proximity to power, say his former employees, and the help he could get from the lieutenant governor. Murray once angrily called former labor secretary Suzanne Bump when she fired one of McLaughlin’s old friends, John Zimini, according to someone who was briefed about the call. Murray later helped Zimini find a new job at a quasi-public state agency. In addition, Murray recommended people to housing authority boards on McLaughlin’s word, giving McLaughlin added clout.

McLaughlin kept in close touch with Murray, calling him frequently whether he was working or on vacation. A week before the Globe story that disclosed McLaughlin’s salary, McLaughlin told Murray that the Globe was preparing an article and outlined his plan to counter the bad news by getting a political consultant to write a favorable article about McLaughlin’s career.

A few days after the Globe story, consultant Michael Goldman wrote a column in The Sun of Lowell that glowingly described McLaughlin as “a warrior from the old school.’’ Goldman acknowledges that McLaughlin asked him to write the column.

But Murray’s consultant Ferson said the lieutenant governor had no idea that McLaughlin made $360,000 until the Globe story and the lieutenant governor has no recollection of discussing Goldman’s planned column with McLaughlin.

“It is [Murray’s] recollection that there was a call in which McLaughlin said ‘Ah, the Globe is working on a story, but don’t worry about it,’’’ said Ferson. “It was days before the story came out.’’

Ferson said most of Murray’s conversations with McLaughlin in October centered on the Dracut Housing Authority, to which Murray had recommended a board member at McLaughlin’s behest. Murray was upset that the new appointee had immediately attempted to oust the executive director in a move widely seen as orchestrated by McLaughlin to create a vacancy for a friend.

As a result, Ferson said, Murray was miffed with McLaughlin even before he discovered McLaughlin’s salary and the lieutenant governor hasn’t spoken to him since.

Ferson insists that Murray has told the truth about his accident, noting that he has long gone out for drives alone to collect his thoughts and he really was concerned about the damage from the October Nor’easter. If the lieutenant had a second chance to explain why he was out driving around, however, Ferson said he would have kept it simple:

“He would have said, ‘I couldn’t sleep.’ ’’

Scott Allen and Matt Carroll of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray was driving 100 mph at time of Nov. crash, may have fallen asleep at the wheel

BP's Crude

A seed for the mind - a British video protesting BP that is as beautiful as it is like a mental dagger

Oil Painting Protest over BP sponsorship in Tate Modern Turbine Hall
Liberate Tate calls for footprint of art museum to be free from Big Oil

Tuesday (14 September) art activists from Liberate Tate staged a guerrilla art intervention in Tate Modern, covering the floor of the iconic Turbine Hall with dozens of litres of oil paint in protest at the museum taking sponsorship from BP.

The flash mob-style event was staged a day before a Tate Board of Trustees meeting. Liberate Tate are part of a growing public movement calling on Tate's governing body to end its sponsorship agreement with the oil company. Tate's Board of Trustees has decided to review the BP corporate sponsorship.

At 5pm, around 50 figures dressed in black entered the gallery each carrying a BP-branded oil paint tube. In a circle they placed the paint tubes on the floor and each stamped on one, spraying out dozens of litres of paint in a huge burst across the floor. The installation art work, 'Crude', was then signed 'Liberate Tate' and offered to Tate for its collection.

Blake Williams, a participant in the performance, said: "Ten years ago tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for public institutions. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has brought home to an even wider public that the impact of big oil companies like BP on the environment and the global climate makes them equally unethical for an art museum, especially one that purports to demonstrate leadership in response to climate change."

Tate's latest annual report (2009/10), released this month, claims "sustainability is a prime consideration throughout Tate's work". Tate reduced its energy use and overall carbon emissions last year and makes much of its partnership with the Carbon Trust and that it was a founding signatory to the national 10:10 campaign, launched at Tate Modern, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.

Liberate Tate said: "Tate has so far chosen to take a very narrow view of its footprint in relation to climate change and to not yet take into ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Mitt Romney Came to Town....

Interesting video worth watching in its entirety.

Gingrich Film Slams Romney, Angers Republicans
By Reader Supported News

The video above, titled "When Mitt Romney Came to Town," was produced by a so-called "Super PAC" named "Winning Our Future." While Winning Our Future states on its website: "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee," they also go on to say, "Winning Our Future means nominating Former Speaker Newt Gingrich for President in 2012. And advancing that goal is what Winning Our Future is all about."

The backing for Winning Our Future appears to come in large part from Gingrich's friend and longtime associate, billionaire gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson. According to the New York Times, Adelson staked Winning Our Future with a $5 million war chest.

"When Mitt Romney Came to Town" appears to have been a component of Mr. Gingrich's strategy for defeating Mr. Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. However, Gingrich, under pressure from Republican power brokers to tone down the criticism, has now backed away from the film citing "inaccuracies" and saying, "I am calling on them to either edit out every single mistake or pull the entire film." -- RSN Staff

Mitt Romney. Was he a job creator or a corporate raider?

That's the question this film answers.

And it's not pretty.

Mitt Romney was not a capitalist during his reign at Bain. He was a predatory corporate raider. His firm didn't seek to create value. Instead, like a scavenger, Romney looked for businesses he could pick apart. Indeed, he represented the worst possible kind of predator, operating within the law but well outside the bounds of what most real capitalists consider ethical.

He is exhibit number one the left wants to use in the coming election to give capitalism a bad name.

He and his friends at Bain were bad guys. Any real capitalists should disavow Romney's 'creative destruction' model that made him wealthy at the expense of thousands of American jobs.

Mitt Romney and his cronies pioneered 'deindustrialization,' a process by which they searched out vulnerable companies, took them over, loaded them with debt, and collected obscene fees while doing so. He sent jobs overseas or killed them altogether, and then picked apart the remains - including pension funds - before the companies went bankrupt.

Some might call that the free market. Most of us think its just plain wrong.

If you wonder why America has lost so many manufacturing jobs overseas, look no further than Mitt Romney -- the King of Bain.

Think you know Mitt?

Think again...


Paid for by Winning Our Future.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Revolving Door

Some things are so egregious, they need to be circulated.

This needs to change!

Revolving Door: From Top Futures Regulator to Top Futures Lobbyist

While America focused on New Hampshire, a classic example of revolving-door politics took place in Washington, going almost completely unnoticed. It’s a move that ranks up there with the hire of Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin to head the pharmaceutical lobbying conglomerate PhRMA -- at a salary of over $2 million a year -- immediately after Tauzin helped ram through the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, a huge handout to the pharmaceutical industry.

In this case, the hire involves Walter Lukken, who toward the end of the Bush years was the acting head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As the chief regulator of the commodities markets, it was Lukken’s job to spot and combat speculative abuses and manipulations that might have led to artificial price hikes and other disruptions.

In 2008, the last full year of his tenure, Lukken presided over some of the worst chaos in the commodities markets in recent history, with major disruptions in the markets for food products like wheat, cotton, soybeans, and rice, and energy commodities like oil.

Most notoriously, 2008 saw a historic spike in the price of oil futures, an enormously destructive speculative bubble that peaked in July of that year at the lunatic high price of $146 per barrel (Goldman, Sachs at the height of the mania was telling investors oil might go to $200 a barrel).

It was Lukken’s job to spot the speculative abuses leading to disruptions like that bubble, but he didn’t do it. Instead, he repeatedly insisted that there was nothing untoward going on, most notoriously through testimony before the House and the Senate at the height of the oil boom.

In testimony that summer, Lukken continually insisted that the price surge was due to normal supply-and-demand forces, ignoring the far more obvious explanation of a massive inflow of cash from commodity index speculators.

Despite data showing that the amount of commodity index speculation had grown from $13 billion in 2003 to more than $260 billion as of March 2008 -- in other words, the amount of money betting on a rise in commodity prices had risen by a factor of twenty during that time -- Lukken on May 7, 2008 told the Senate that a more likely explanation for the surge could be found in the growth of industrial demand from places like China, and also, get this, in changes in the weather:

These are extraordinary times for our markets with commodity futures prices at unprecedented levels. In the last three months, the agricultural staples of wheat, corn, soybeans, rice and oats have hit all-time highs. We have also witnessed record prices in crude oil, gasoline and other related energy products. Broadly speaking, the falling dollar, strong demand from the emerging world economies, global political unrest, detrimental weather and ethanol mandates have driven up commodity futures prices across-the-board.

On top of these trends, the emergence of the sub-prime crisis last summer led investors to increasingly seek portfolio exposure in commodity futures. As the federal regulator of these products, the CFTC is closely monitoring these growing markets to ensure they are working properly for farmers, investors, and consumers. To date, CFTC staff analysis indicates that the current higher futures prices generally are not a result of manipulative forces.

By insisting that the spike was “not a result of manipulative forces,” Lukken helped Wall Street in its efforts to avoid reforms that might have prevented such abuses, like the closing of a series of loopholes and exemptions that allowed a handful of major speculators to play a lopsided role in the setting of commodity prices.

So what was Lukken’s reward for helping the financial services industry avoid such reforms? Well, Lukken has just been named to head the Futures Industry Association, or FIA, the chief lobbying arm of futures investors.

This follows the Tauzin pattern of revolving-door hires: a government official carries water for a powerful industry, then moves on to take the cushy job with the industry’s lobbying arm once he leaves office.

Among people who follow these markets for a living, the Lukken hire had an embarrassingly over-the-top quality, like a CEO who goes the appearances-be-damned route and puts his 23 year-old secretary/mistress on the board of directors.

Mike Masters is head of the Masters Capital Management hedge fund and also chairman of Better Markets, a new non-profit advocacy group that promotes the public interest in the labyrinthine vagaries of the financial markets, and especially the commodities markets. He describes the hiring of Lukken as an extreme example of revolving-door politics.
“It’s not the revolving door. It’s the express elevator,” he says.

Masters remembers Lukken because the two men both testified before the Senate in that summer of 2008; he recalls watching the CFTC chief, aghast, when the latter continued to insist that there was nothing abnormal going on in the commodities world, despite a historic series of disruptions.

“And it wasn’t just oil,” Masters says. “There was the debacle in the wheat markets, with cotton, with soybeans and corn, there were riots in the Phillipines over the rice markets. And Lukken was saying everything’s okay. It was crazy.”

It was a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach to government oversight, which had far-reaching consequences in that crisis year. The CFTC, remember, also has purview over derivatives, meaning the failure to prevent the disastrous swap positions accumulated by the likes of AIG also falls, in part anyway, at the CFTC's doorstep.

A Dow Jones news story contained a hilarious summary of Lukken’s blase administrative style, in which he was described as having downplayed the whole being-a-stickler-for-rules aspect of regulation:

When Lukken headed the CFTC, he backed a more flexible, "principles-based" approach to regulation, different from what was seen as the prescriptive and "rule-based" methods employed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which polices stock markets.

Obviously this kind of thing has been going on forever in Washington, but some revolving-door hires feel worse and more shameless than others, and this is one of those. But really it's the same old story: regulators keep falling down on the job, and keep getting rewarded for it by Wall Street, and nothing gets done about it.

More scars upon the land

In West Virginia, coal companies are pumping coal sludge (the toxic byproduct of washing coal) underground, poisoning the well water for thousands in our state. The Sludge Safety Project, a collaboration of Coal River Mountain Watch, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and mountain communities, is pushing for a law to ban underground coal sludge injection and protect our waters.

Challenging Permits on Coal River Mountain

We continue to challenge the mountaintop removal mining permits on Coal River Mountain:

•CRMW co-director Debbie Jarrell, Citizen Enforcement Project Coordinator Rob Goodwin, and other local residents are appealing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)'s decision to approve the Collins Fork permit, a 250-acre strip mining permit on Coal River Mountain that was approved in October. They are arguing that DEP failed to properly evaluate the cumulative effects of strip mining in the watershed of the Clear Fork of the Coal River, including the impact on human health. DEP also refused to grant CRMW an inspection of the permit prior to the permit hearing and the agency also blatantly disregarded a clear statute requiring the hearing on the permit to be held within 3 weeks after the end of the comment period; instead the hearing was held 3 years later. The hearing for the permit appeal was originally scheduled for January 11 but has been postponed until February 14.

•We just filed a complaint with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection over the Eagle II permit, the largest mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain, covering 2,000 acres. This permit was granted in 2008 and has not yet been started. According to federal law, any permit which does not start within 3 years of being issued is automatically terminated. Eagle II is one example of what appears to be Alpha/Massey's strategy of getting permits for areas that they have no immediate intention to mine before they are faced with stricter regulations and more science clearly proving the irreversible impacts of mountaintop removal. We are still awaiting DEP's response to this complaint.


Stand With These Three Appalachian Communities And Help Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining

My name is Donna Branham, and I live in Mingo County, West Virginia. I’ve seen first-hand the results of mountaintop removal mining, an extremely destructive form of coal mining that entails blowing up mountains, removing the tops, and dumping the rubble into streams, filling entire valleys and waterways. My family’s homeplace was destroyed by it, and the ruthlessness of the coal mining industry. Our drinking water was contaminated, and blasting shook our house and our community every day. We also dealt with extreme dust pollution and noise pollution, and flyrock, or large boulders that the explosion spits out through the air. I’m so thankful that people like you are getting involved in this fight. I’ve been in this for 20 years, and for so long, I felt like I stood alone. One voice doesn’t go very far. Many voices do. I am asking you to join this chorus of voices so that we are heard by our nation’s leaders.
Please take action now and help stop mountaintop removal mining.

Donna’s story is not unique—there are families across Appalachia who are living with the same injustice. Across this ancient mountain range, coal companies are blowing up mountains, burying streams, and contaminating waters—forever altering in the most extreme way possible our nation’s landscape and contaminating drinking water supplies for local communities.

The health impacts of this radically destructive form of mining are staggering. No one can survive without clean water, and scientific research shows that people living near mountaintop removal mines face greater threats to their health and their lives. Cancer rates are two times higher in areas of mountaintop removal mining; babies born near mountaintop removal mining are 26 percent more likely to be born with birth defects as well. How long will we let this go on?

President Obama and his administration have shown a strong commitment to the law and science by vetoing one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed, Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia. But coal companies and their lobbyists are pushing for more than 100 new mountaintop removal mining permits, seeking permission to blow more mountains up and destroy more mountain streams in even more communities. When so many local communities are facing the same level of devastation, one permit denied is just not enough.

If the Obama administration issues more unlawful and harmful permits, violating the very purpose of the Clean Water Act to protect the integrity of our nation’s waters, coal companies could fill over 300 more valleys, level over 30,000 more mountain acres, destroy over 100 miles of streams, and pollute many more local waterways. The stakes could not be higher.

It’s not too late to stop more harmful mining permits from going forward. Please tell the Obama administration now to stop these mines.

Read about three permits in particular that must be denied immediately:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Massachusetts Double Standard

Swallow your morning coffee before you read that someone, anyone would support this buffoon for Governor. Haven't we witnessed enough corruption, arrogance and back room deals from this Administration that was going to change the "Big Dig" culture?

The Lt. Governor had a car accident and then created assorted versions and various contradictions, can't remember if it was the Herald or the Boston Globe he bought or was going to buy.

This isn't about the car accident.

It's more about the stupidity of the Lt. Governor and about the out-of-touch Governor's unjustified defense.

This clown is mired in the Chelsea Housing Scandal and
Buying a judgeship for $39,775?

How many more lies will he tell? Refusing to provide cell phone records says it all.

Any other private citizen would have had their cell phone checked at the scene and been charged. Not so in Massachusetts where privilege prevails until the ballot box.

This was a sorely needed wake-up call to voters about some overdue housecleaning.

Tim Murray’s political adviser shifts to crisis management after car crash
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff

Still under fire for his unusual Nov. 2 car crash, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray has asked his longtime political adviser to take on a more formal paid role in responding to the wave of media questions that have overwhelmed his staff in recent days.

Scott M. Ferson, a former spokesman for Senator Edward M. Kennedy
[and for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe] and president of the Liberty Square Group, said he has advised Murray regularly and informally on media relations and political strategy since he first ran for lieutenant governor six years ago.

“From time-to-time, he needs more of my time and he’ll pay me and this is one of those times,” Ferson said. “I’m just helping him out more formally.”

Ferson said he will be paid by Murray’s political committee, but has not yet sent a bill.

Ferson’s more formal position is another indication of Murray’s increasing concern that the 5:30 a.m. high speed car crash could endanger his political future.
[It already has!]

He has been projected as a likely gubernatorial contender in 2014, when Governor Deval Patrick wraps up when he says is his second and final term. [In whose dreams?]

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Police released data retrieved from the car’s “black box” that contradicted Murray’s previous statements that he was driving the speed limit, wearing a seat belt, and that the crash was caused by black ice.

State police said they suspect he had fallen asleep behind the wheel and was going over 100 miles per hour before the crash.

The day after the black box data were released, Murray appeared tense and distracted as he chaired the weekly meeting of the Governor’s Council.

Murray’s official spokeswoman, Lauren Jones, said in a statement that his staff will continue to field questions about the lieutenant governor’s activities.

“Inquiries about the lieutenant governor’s official duties have been and will be handled by press staff in the Executive Office,” she wrote. “Inquiries about political issues have been and will be handled by the lieutenant governor’s political committee.”

New photos shed light on Mass. Lt. Governor Murray's car wreck
Mike Beaudet
Kevin Rothstein, Producer

BOSTON (FOX 25 / - As just-released photos shed new light on Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray’s car crash, the state’s second-in-command is trying hard to return to normal work at the State House despite being dogged by discrepancies in his story.

After chairing a meeting of the Governor’s Council earlier today, Murray again answered questions from reporters about what happened when he drove off Interstate 190 in the pre-dawn hours of November 2.

“Are you worried about your credibility being questioned because of the inconsistencies?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

“Listen, this was an accident. It happened very quickly and I've taken responsibility for that. I don't know what more I can say other than that I’m anxious to get back to work,” Murray replied.

Murray initially told State Police, according to the agency’s reports, that he was driving within the 65-mile-per-hour speed limit and wearing his seat belt when he skidded on black ice.

He also told reporters hours after the crash that he left his house to buy a coffee and a Boston Herald and inspect damage from the recent storm.

An inspection of the photos shows a Boston Globe, but no Herald or coffee cup in the wrecked car. After asking a Murray spokesman about the missing Herald, a Murray spokesperson now tells FOX Undercover he did not buy the coffee or Herald despite being on the road for more than 40 minutes.

Murray’s original story is also compromised by the vehicle’s black box data, released after a FOX Undercover public records request. The data shows he was far exceeding the speed limit, not wearing his seat belt, and did not skid on black ice.

Now Murray thinks he fell asleep, but he can’t say for sure. State Police said his car followed the actions of someone who was sleeping behind the wheel.

“It’s the only reasonable explanation that I have and can understand how this happened. It happened in a matter of seconds. It was something that was obviously very traumatic,” Murray said.

An accident reconstruction expert, Bruce McNally of New Hampshire, who reviewed the black box data says, “There is no indication that the driver fell asleep.”

He says the data shows Murray didn't just accelerate; he pressed the gas pedal to the floor.

Despite the questions, Gov. Deval Patrick is standing by his number two, saying he sees no reason to call for an independent investigation.

“I know this man. I care about him. I've never had an accident as serious as this one, but I’ve been in an accident before and I know how it happens instantly and I know how flawed people’s accounts of them often are, and I think as I say the most important thing for me and I think most residents of the Commonwealth is to thank God he's OK and no one else was hurt,” Patrick said.

Murray says he will pay the $555 in fines the State Police have given him for speeding and other violations, and pay to replace his car.

Murray also asked for, and was given, a breathalyzer test at the scene. He said he blew a zero, but in response to a FOX Undercover public records request for the report, a State Police spokesman says he knows of no written record of a test, which was apparently done in the field and not recorded.

Gov. Deval Patrick says he still trusts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray -- and it’s time to move on from crash controversy

Gov. Patrick bypasses crash scandal

Columnist Dianne Williamson: Crash data doesn't solve mystery

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray denies cell records
Info withheld as wreck photos released
By Chris Cassidy, O’Ryan Johnson and Laurel J. Sweet

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, still swerving around unanswered questions about his death-defying, high-speed car crash in Sterling, has refused to turn over to the Herald his cellphone records from the days surrounding the Nov. 2 wreck of his state-issued Crown Victoria.

Deputy Chief Legal Counsel E. Abim Thomas said records of the Office of the Governor are not “subject to disclosure under the public records law,” in a letter to the Herald yesterday.

Besides, Thomas continued, “The Office of the Governor does not receive itemized bills from our phone company for our telephone and text services.”

The Herald requested the governor’s office obtain itemized cellphone and text message bills from its service provider if it did not have the information readily available. Thomas did not address that point in his response.

The Herald is appealing the ruling to Secretary of State William F. Galvin.

State police, meanwhile, yesterday released 126 new photos of the unmarked police cruiser the politician totalled when, he said, he fell asleep at the wheel while surveying storm damage and grabbing a coffee and newspaper at about 5:26 a.m. on Nov. 2.

Initially, Murray told state police and the media he was going the speed limit and wearing his seat belt when he hit a patch of black ice on Interstate 190. Data from the car’s black box — released by state police Tuesday in response to a Herald public records law request — revealed Murray was not wearing a seat belt and hit speeds up to 108 mph as he careened 140 snowy feet before hitting a rock ledge and rolling the Crown Victoria.

As to why the crash-scene photos were being released two months later, state police spokesman David Procopio said, “We just released them as part of the release of the materials related to the crash.”

Murray was slapped with a $555 ticket for the accident he miraculously walked away from.

“Operating to endanger is a discretionary charge. Negligent operation is a discretionary charge,” Procopio said. “In a crash like this, where nobody else was hurt, and no other vehicles were involved, we would not charge that person.”

Murray’s spokeswoman Lauren Jones yesterday told the Herald her boss “has made public all information our office and the state police have regarding the accident, and he has been willing to answer any and all questions.”

Crash, I’ve got an actual job for you
By Howie Carr

Crash Murray has enough problems trying to keep his various stories straight. But perhaps the Pillsbury Doughboy’s career-ending scandal can serve as a “teachable moment.” So I would like to suggest a new role for Crash.

Perhaps he could become the guy who goes to the state’s high schools in the spring, just before the proms, to show the class of 2012 the dangers of reckless driving.

An email was sent to his flack yesterday asking if he’d be willing to consider such a role. No response was immediately forthcoming.

Murray could handle this very important assignment. Over the past few days, we’ve all been very amused by his statements, with eyes wildly blinking, about how he was out there doing 108 mph in an attempt to “gather his thoughts” for the day.

Listen, your average housecat has more need to gather his thoughts in the morning than Tim Murray. Do you realize the lieutenant governor’s work schedule averages 10 minutes a week? Every Wednesday at noon he chairs the Governor’s Council and ... that’s about it.

“I want to get back to work,” he said the other day. What work? He stood by as state police Col. Marian McGovern “announced a State Police initiative to research trooper safety practices and procedures” at a July press conference.

Here’s the procedure. If a politician crashes his Crown Vic at 108 mph, tell the media it would be an “unnecessary step” to check the readings from the black box. Then stonewall their FOIA requests for two months.

Crash Murray loves these traffic-safety press conferences. A couple of months later, he was in Weymouth, sternly warning motorists to obey the new laws banning texting while driving.

This Crash quote comes from another state press release: “We encourage everyone to spread the word about the ban on texting for everyone.”

Oh man, I can’t wait till we get his cellphone records. Although of course we’ll find nothing there, because as a good liberal Democrat, you know Hurry Murray would never talk the talk while not walking the walk.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Foxes Jumping on my Trampoline

Foxes Jumping on my Trampoline

Here are a couple of wild foxes jumping on my trampoline. They were having lots of fun! ^_^ Enjoy~!

This is my video, please don't link anywhere without giving me credit, and linking it back here to it's original posting.

Thank you! :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Destroying Our Environment One Eco-System At A Time

EARTHQUAKES! Brought to you by Big Energy!

Does Massachusetts have a law that prohibits FRACKING?

Do you think if Beacon Hill was less focused on Predatory Gambling and having their egos stroked by Gambling Lobbyists, they might have worked to protect residents from consequences such as these?

So....we get EARTHQUAKES and Predatory Gambling! Such a deal!

AP: Officials Say Fracking Caused Ohio Earthquake
By Associated Press

Officials said Saturday they believe the latest earthquake activity in northeast Ohio is related to the injection of wastewater into the ground near a fault line, creating enough pressure to cause seismic activity.

The brine wastewater comes from drilling operations that use the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale. But Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said during a news teleconference that fracking is not causing the quakes.

"The seismic events are not a direct result of fracking," he said.

Environmentalists and property owners who live near gas drilling wells have questioned the safety of fracking to the environment and public health. Federal regulators have declared the technology safe, however.

Zehringer said four injection wells within a five-mile radius of an already shuttered well in Youngstown will remain inactive while further scientific research is conducted.

A 4.0 magnitude quake Saturday afternoon in McDonald, outside of Youngstown, was the 11th in a series of minor earthquakes in area, many of which have struck near the Youngstown injection well. The quake caused no serious injuries or property damage, Zehringer said.

Thousands of gallons of brine were injected into the well daily until its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, agreed Friday to stop injecting brine into the earth as a precaution while authorities assess any potential links to the quakes.

Michael Hansen of the Ohio Seismic Network said Saturday that more quakes are possible, most likely small ones, until the pressure at the fault line has been completely relieved.

The temblor Saturday appeared to be stronger than others, which generally had a magnitude of 2.7 or lower. Some residents reported feeling trembling farther south into Columbiana County and east into western Pennsylvania.

Area residents said a loud boom accompanied the shaking. It sent some stunned residents running for cover as bookshelves shook and pictures and lamps fell from tables.

A few miles from the epicenter, Charles Kihm said he was preparing food in his kitchen when he heard a noise and thought a vehicle had hit his Austintown home.

"It really shook, and it rumbled, like there was a sound," said Kihm, 82. "It was loud. It didn't last long. But it really scared me."

There are 177 similar injection wells around the state, and the Youngstown-area well has been the only site with seismic activity, the department said. Zehringer said that to shut down all of the wells because of seismic activity near one would be an overreaction.

Patti Gorcheff, who lives about 15 miles from the epicenter, said her dogs started barking inexplicably Saturday and the ornaments on her Christmas tree began to shake. Her husband thought he heard the sound of some sort of blast.

"This is the biggest one we've had so far," said Gorcheff, a North Lima resident who has raised concerns about quakes and drilling-related activity in the region. "I hope this is a wake-up call."

Jingle Bells Holiday Performance