Arquivo da tag: Republicanos

Koch brothers sought say in academic hiring in return for university donation (The Guardian)

Florida university receives $1.5m from rightwing billionaires

Kochs wanted appointment of ultra-rightwing economics faculty

theguardian.com, Friday 12 September 2014 19.56 BST

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch in 2013.David Koch, above, and his brother Charles donated to 163 colleges and univerisites in 2012. Photograph: Phelan M Ebenhack/AP

The billionaire Koch brothers attempted to wield political influence over appointments and teaching at a major US university in exchange for donations, newly published documents reveal.

Internal emails and memos from the economics department of Florida State University (FSU) open a window into the kind of direct pressure the Kochs seek to exert over academic institutions in return for their largesse. The 16 pages of documents, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, show that the energy tycoons demanded through their grant-giving arm, the Charles Koch Foundation, a role in faculty appointments and an emphasis on teaching that was in tune with their radical political views.

Charles and David Koch are major funders of the Tea Party and other ultra-rightwing movements that oppose government intervention and advocate for an unregulated free market.

A memo drawn up by the then chair of the FSU economics department, Bruce Benson, set out the Kochs’ terms for funding, noting that “the proposal is … not to just give us money to hire anyone we want and fund any graduate student that we choose. There are constraints.”

A section of the memo headlined “Constrained hiring” says: “As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs. In this case, the money for faculty lines and graduate students is coming from a group of funding organisations with strong libertarian views. These organisations have an explicit agenda.

“They want to expose students to what they believe are vital concepts about the benefits of the market and the dangers of government failure, and they want to support and mentor students who share their views. Therefore, they are trying to convince us to hire faculty who will provide exposure and mentoring. If we are not willing to hire such faculty, they are not willing to fund us.”

The documents date back to 2007, when the Koch deal was first being negotiated with FSU. Among the other demands made by the foundation was that Benson, a free-market libertarian who shares many of the Kochs’ beliefs, must have his term as chair of the economics department extended for three years as a requirement of the donation.

Dave Levinthal, the centre’s senior political reporter, who broke the story, said: “The documents give a blueprint of what the Kochs wanted and if ultimately they didn’t get everything they demanded it still gives a rare view into their intentions. They were saying ‘We want this, this and that, and if you don’t do it, we are not going to give you any money’.”

The Koch’s financial gift was finalised in 2009 at the sum of $1.5m (£920,000) to be spread over six years – a drop in the ocean for the brothers who own the second largest privately owned company in the US and are valued at $36bn each. The university says that as of April this year it had received $1m.

Under the initial deal with the Kochs, they had direct input into the appointment of faculty members in the economics department through a three-person advisory board set up specifically to liaise with the Charles Koch Foundation over hiring. The terms of the donation have been a running sore within FSU, prompting considerable internal opposition.

In the face of widespread criticism, the university authorities in 2013 revised the terms of the Koch funding to weaken the brothers’ grip on appointments. A statement from the university released earlier this year said that “the decision was made to eliminate any role whatsoever of the advisory group in the hiring of tenure-track faculty members in the department of economics”.

Benson did not immediately reply to questions from the Guardian. But he told the Center for Public Integrity that the documents had been intended for internal use and were written at “early stages of discussion” over the Koch grant, well before it was finalised in 2008.

Florida State University is not the only academic institution that the Kochs have financial relationships with. According to the CPI, the brothers dispensed $13m in 2012 to 163 colleges and universities.

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The new GOP Senate is already gearing up to cause climate mayhem (Grist)

 By

On Tuesday night, Republicans won big: They picked up governorships in blue states like Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois, and they held House seats in competitive districts with embarrassing incumbents like Michael Grimm of New York, who physically threatened a reporter and is under indictment for tax evasion.

But their biggest win by far was taking control of the U.S. Senate. As of this writing, Republicans had already secured 52 Senate seats, thanks to knocking off Democratic incumbents or replacing retiring Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Another GOP pick up is probable in Alaska, and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is likely to win the runoff in Louisiana against Sen. Mary Landrieu in December.

This is not good news for the climate. The party that controls the majority and the committee chairmanships controls the agenda. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will now be the majority leader. McConnell deflects questions about whether he accepts climate science by saying he isn’t a scientist and citing climate-denying conservative pundit George Will. But he is clear about where he stands on fossil fuels, especially coal: He loves them. Attacking President Obama for not sharing his passion for burning carbon was central to McConnell’s reelection campaign this year. If you thought Landrieu, chair of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee, was too pro–fossil fuel, just wait until Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska takes the gavel. Leading climate denier James Inhofe of Oklahoma will be taking over the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and fellow denier Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will be chairing the Committee on Science and Technology.

The Republicans have two top energy-related demands: stop EPA from regulating CO2 and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

The EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) as pollutants. So the agency proposed regulations of CO2 emissions from power plants. This is the centerpiece of what Republicans inaccurately call Obama’s “War on Coal.”

In the House, Republicans have voted to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate GHGs. That measure died in the Senate because of Democratic opposition. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Senate Republican to vote against it, and even she had voted once previously to revoke the EPA’s GHG regulatory authority. Obama has staked his second-term legacy on reducing GHG emissions, in large part through the EPA power plant regulations. Those regulations are also essentialto setting the U.S. on a path to meet its promised emissions reductions under the Copenhagen Accord of 2009. Obama will not let congressional Republicans make him look like a feckless liar to our allies, whose cooperation we need to get a more ambitious climate agreement in the 2015 round of negotiations in Paris. So Obama will make a stand on EPA authority if he must. And before it even comes to that, Senate Democrats will likely throttle any EPA authority repeal with a filibuster.

Keystone is more vulnerable. Many Democrats from fossil fuel-dependent states have called for its approval. As former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said on CNN Tuesday night, “This Republican House and Republican Senate will pass the Keystone XL pipeline.” Speaking on Fox News the same night, GOP Dark Overlord Karl Rove said that Republicans would look to pass legislation that could get Democratic votes and cited Keystone XL as an example.

Republicans won’t just pass Keystone approval on its own for Obama to veto. They will continue their strategy of attaching it to unrelated bills, from anodyne energy-efficiency measures to the budget. No one really knows what Obama thinks about Keystone, but it is widely assumed that he was happy to let it go through until activists rose up in protest. Obama would probably like to mollify his base after the midterms by rejecting Keystone, but there’s no guarantee he won’t be willing to trade it away with newly empowered Republicans.

Anticipating exactly this line of dispiriting thinking, 350.org, which has led the national fight against Keystone, issued a statement Tuesday night defensively titled, “Keystone XL No Done Deal.” “We know the Republicans are going to make Keystone a priority, but this isn’t their call,” said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. “President Obama has the power to reject the Keystone pipeline outright, and do right by his own legacy. We’re gearing up to hold his feet to the fire — and we’re confident that when everything’s said and done, Keystone XL will not be built.”

Republicans know they may need to force Obama’s hand on Keystone precisely because of the pressure he will get from his base to reject it. And they will try to do just that. With control of both houses of Congress, Republicans can pass any bill they want unless Senate Democrats threaten a filibuster. That doesn’t mean Republicans can enact any law they want. Obama can veto their bills, and now his little-used veto pen will be put to work. But Obama can’t simply prevent the GOP from doing anything at all. Some legislation has to get passed just to keep the government running, such as approving a budget and raising the debt ceiling. Ever since Republicans won control of the House in 2010, they have been exploiting those requirements to try to force Obama to sign off on their agenda. Now, with control of the Senate, Republicans will be in a stronger position to demand that Obama give in to or compromise on some of their demands. If he doesn’t, they can cause a government shutdown, or trigger a global financial collapse by breaching the debt ceiling and defaulting on the U.S. national debt.

I know what you’re thinking: “But shutting down the government or defaulting on our debt would be terrible for America!” Don’t be so naive as to mistake congressional Republicans for rational human beings or patriotic Americans. They are so beholden to their base that taking the U.S. economy hostage has become a standard GOP negotiating tactic. Since swing voters frown on such shenanigans, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) has said he would like to end the hostile budget fights and get down to governing. But the Republican leadership always wants that, and in the past they’ve always given in to their rowdy backbenchers.

If they can’t get their way through normal legislative means, Republicans might simply try to disable the government by blocking all of President Obama’s nominees until he gives in to a major demand like Keystone approval. They were already doing that by filibustering even moderate, well-qualified nominees until Democrats eliminated the filibuster for executive branch appointees. Now, with a Senate majority, Republicans can block any nominee.

To see what else Senate Republicans have in store for the environment, just look at what their House colleagues have tried to do. Earlier this year, House Republicans passed a series of bills to kneecap federal agencies like the EPA. The details are boring and complicated, but the bottom line is that they would institute a number of requirements to burden or constrict the regulatory process. A typical example is their proposal to require agencies to calculate all the indirect costs of every regulation and always choose the least costly option, regardless of its adverse impact on, say, human health. Another example: In September, they passed a bill that would stop the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from protecting America’s small streams and wetlands.

Republicans will also try to prevent environmental regulation by refusing to pay for it. In a typical measure, the House GOP’s EPA budget passed in June would have cut funding for the agency by 9 percent. House Republicans have previously votedto defund the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which compiles reportson climate science, and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that hosts international climate negotiations. Now the Senate may join them. Just through controlling the House, Republicans have already forced through milder cuts to the EPA budget and blocked environmental regulations. With control of the Senate, Obama will have to cede even more ground.

In fairness to the GOP, elections have consequences and Obama should have to compromise with them. That Republicans lack any actual popular majority — they won because of the rural bias of the Senate and gerrymandering of House districts — is irrelevant. When Republicans claim they have a popular mandate, they are lying, and should be called out for it. But when they say, “We won and we’re going to use our power to enact our agenda,” it’s all in the game.

And so you can expect to see a lot of little bits of bad news for the climate and the broader environment in the budget negotiation process. EPA funding will be cut, presumably by somewhere between the roughly stable funding Obama will likely request and the drastic cuts the House GOP will pass. Programs that especially irk Republicans, like those that promote renewable energy and anything pertaining to smart growth, will fare especially poorly. There will also be spending cuts in other departments with environmental implications, like mass transit and transit-oriented affordable-housing development.

In terms of Senate election results, the worst of it is over. The map of states with Senate seats up in 2016 is a lot more favorable to Democrats, and they will stand a good chance of regaining the majority. But in terms of environmental policy, the worst is yet to come.

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Climate change denier Jim Inhofe in line for Senate’s top environmental job (The Guardian)

Obama faces a fight to protect his climate change agenda after midterm results suggest Senate’s top environmental post will fall to Republican stalwart of climate denial

theguardian.com, Thursday 6 November 2014 16.24 GMT

Climate skeptic nad Republican Senator Jim InhofeRepublican Senator Jim Inhofe is expected to get the Senate top environmental job. Photograph: Tom Williams/Getty Images

The Senate’s top environmental job is set to fall to Jim Inhofe, one of the biggest names in US climate denial, but campaigners say Barack Obama will fight to protect his global warming agenda.

Oklahoma Republican Inhofe has been denying the science behind climate change for 20 years – long before it became a cause for the conservative tea party wing. Following midterm elections which saw the Republicans take control of the senate, he is now expected to become the chairman of the senate environment and public works committee.

However, advocates believe Obama will work to protect his signature power plant rules from Republican attacks, and to live up to his earlier commitments to a global deal on fight climate change.

“We think he sees this as a critically important part of his second term legacy and there is no reason why he should not continue to go forward on this… both domestically and around the world,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, told a press briefing.

The campaigners were less clear, however, how far Obama would be willing to fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Obama will get a chance to show he is still committed to fighting climate change during a trip to Beijing next week, where the US and Chinese are expected to announce new energy co-operation.

Extracting a pledge from China to cut emissions is hugely important now for Obama, who faces growing pressure from Republicans to demonstrate that other countries beyond the US – especially the high-emissions, rising economies – are acting on climate change.

“It is a domestic political imperative for the president to gain emissions reductions from China and other major emitters as much as it is an international policy goal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a climate change official in the Clinton White House.

“The president is under increasing pressure to gain emissions reductions from China and other major emitters in order to justify US domestic mitigation policy. That is going to be the spin Republicans put on it – that we are wasting our time with domestic emissions reductions because they will be swamped by developing countries’ pollution.”

Obama is going to feel that pressure the most from Congress. With his opponents now in control of both houses, the top slot on the Senate’s environment and public works committee passes from a climate defender, the California Democrat, Barbara Boxer, to Inhofe.

He published a book in 2012 calling global warming a hoax, and has compared the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Gestapo.

A spokeswoman for Inhofe said his first concern was passing the defence budget, and that he would make no comment on his leadership roles until next week.

But if, as expected, Inhofe becomes the new committee chair next January, he will probably try to dismantle the EPA rules cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – the centrepiece of Obama’s environmental agenda.

Industry lobbyists and campaigners said Inhofe lacked the votes to throw out the power plant rules entirely.

Obama would also veto any such move, said Scott Segal, an energy and coal lobbyist with Bracewell & Giuliani.

“I’m not sure we have the votes to advance those across the finish line particularly if they are vetoed,” Segal told a conference call with reporters. Instead, he said he expected “tailored changes”, which could weaken the rules.

Bledsoe did expect, however, that Obama will sign off on the controversial Keystone XL project early next year.

Republicans have said approving the pipeline, built to pump tar sands crude to Texas Gulf Coast refineries, would be an early order of business.

Obama in his post-election press conference gave no indication what he would decide. But Bledsoe said: “I actually believe the president is likely to approve the piepline and in the process deny Republicans a politically potent issue.”

From his perch in the Senate, Inhofe is expected to launch multiple investigations into the EPA – including Republican charges that the agency leaned heavily on a campaign group in drafting the proposed new rules.

But as committee chair, Inhofe is unlikely to indulge in quite the same level of theatrics on climate denial, said RL Miller, a California lawyer and founder of the grassroots organising group, Climate Hawks Vote.

“I expect we are going to see less headline-grabbing efforts on the EPA and more of simply throttling their budget,” Miller said. “If he touches climate denial at all he is going to be ridiculed in public and in the media. If he is smart, he is going to be very quiet publicly, and it will be death by a thousand cuts in the kind of budget battles that people like Jon Stewart don’t pay attention to.”

Despite their upbeat postures, Tuesday’s results were a big setback for campaign groups which had invested an unprecedented amount in trying to elect pro-climate candidates to Congress.

The former hedge fund billionaire, Tom Steyer, spent nearly $75m on advertising and organising in only seven races, making him the biggest known single spender in these elections. Only three of his candidates won.

“There is no way to dance around the issue that in too many races we lost good allies,” Michael Brune, the director of the Sierra Club, told a briefing. “We see those people being replaced by people that are against our values.”

But the environmental leaders blamed the poor showing on low turnout in an off election year – and continued to insist that climate change was becoming a top-tier issue.

They insisted their effort had put climate change on the electoral map – a big shift from 2012 when virtually no candidates would even utter the words climate change.

This time around, Republican candidates were forced to back away from outright climate denial, the campaigners said.

They noted Cory Gardner, the newly elected Republican Senator from Colorado, had appeared in campaign ads with wind turbines, after earlier disparaging climate science. “Climate denial is an endangered species,” Brune said.

Midterm Elections, the Senate, and Republican Science Denial (Slate)

By Phil Plait

NOV. 4 2014 7:00 AM

James InhofeIf Republicans win the Senate, James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, could be in charge of the committee that controls the EPA. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Today is the midterm election for the United States, where many seats in the House and Senate will be determined. It seems pretty obvious that the House will remain in control of the Republicans. It seems likely the GOP will get a slight majority in the Senate today as well.

What does this mean? Well, in the short term and for many issues, not a lot. This previous Congress will go down in history as the least effective ever, since all it really did is block White House initiatives. They couldn’t even approve a surgeon general nomination! A GOP majority in the Senate will probably mean more of the same, since they’ll lack the supermajority needed to prevent Democratic filibustering of big items.

But this vast, gaping polarization of American politics is toxic, especially where it comes to the crucial issue of global warming. Here, a Senate GOP majority can have an extremely destructive effect. It will put a cohort of science-deniers into positions of authority over the very science they want to trample. This is extremely worrisome to me, and it should be to you as well.

Nowhere is this more important thanthe Environment and Public Works Committee. A Republican win will almost certainly make James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, chairman. This committee controls the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with addressing climate change and what to do about it. Inhofe is probably the most ludicrously adamant global warming denier in the Senate; he has called it a hoax and denies it to levels that would make the frothiest conspiracy theorists shake their heads in wonder.

Inhofe has indicated he will attack greenhouse gas regulators, so giving him control of this committee puts the “fox in charge of the henhouse” simile to shame.

Other committees will fare no better; as just one example Ted Cruz, R-Texas, could be chairman of the committee on science and space, and he also denies global warming. The irony is as excruciating as it is familiar.

capitol_smoke

Original photo by krossbow on Flickr, modified by Phil Plait

Of course, the Republican mantra of late is to claim “I’m not a scientist, but …” as if this excuses them when they deny reality. I’ve excoriated this ridiculous notion before; it started in 2012 when Marco Rubio, R-Florida, used it when he said he wasn’t sure how old the Earth is (!), but it is now being wielded like a shield for Republican rejection of global warming. It was baloney then, and it’s still baloney now. Their lack of scientific qualifications hasn’t stopped them from trying to create medical legislation to control women’s bodies, or to try to make laws about agriculture, health care, and so many other science-based topics. It’s clearly a cynical dodge.

And it will cost us. These elections happen mere days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its fifth Synthesis Report, a 40-page opus making it very clear that global warming is real, humans are causing it, and it’s disrupting our planet’s climate.

The summary for policymakers is as succinct as it is brutal in its assessment:

Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.

[…]

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.

It then gives evidence and support for these claims, going into terrifying specificity:

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence), with only about 1% stored in the atmosphere.

So much for “the pause”.

Since the beginning of the industrial era, oceanic uptake of CO2 has resulted in acidification of the ocean … corresponding to a 26% increase in acidity.

Ocean acidification is killing off entire species, upsetting the ecological balance of the oceans. This is on top of sea level rise, the disruption of the heat transport balance of the planet, and the amplification of extreme weather we’re seeing all over the Earth.

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

Ask Californians suffering from one of the worst droughts in history how they feel about “long-lasting changes in the climate,” for example, or how much you enjoyexcursions in the polar vortex bringing frigid cold into the U.S. eastern states in the winter.

Global warming is real. It’s causing climate change on a planetary scale, and this isextremely dangerous for humanity.

Yet Republican politicians deny it as if their careers and funding depend on them doing so.

This is what these elections today mean. I am by no means a single-issue voter, unless you count reality as an issue. When you vote today, it quite literally affects the future of humanity.

Do we finally take action about the single greatest threat we as a species face today? Or do we elect officials who would rather take money from the fossil fuel industryand bury their heads firmly in the sand, putting off for at least another two years taking any action, or even recognizing that we need to take action against it?

Remember that today as you go to the polls. Your vote counts. Make it count.