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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio warned Sunday the shores of California are only a decade away from being darkened by a nuclear mushroom cloud from Iran.

Rubio: Iran Could Nuke California Within a Decade

Speaking to some of the most influential Republican donors in the country at an Orange County retreat organized by billionaires Charles and David Koch, the Florida Republican sounded the alarm that Iran proses a real and short-term threat to Americans at home. Before a crowd of 450 donors, Rubio said Americans need to realize the dangers posed by an unchecked Iran, as well as rising threats from China and Islamic terrorism.
“Iran will be not just a nuclear weapon power, but will have the capability to deliver that weapon to the continental United States in less than a decade,” Rubio said. “I don’t think any of us wants to live in a country where a radical Shiite cleric in Tehran can have a nuclear weapon and an ICBM that can hit where we are sitting right now.”
Rubio is among the five Republican White House hopefuls who are meeting with key players of the political machine backed by the Kochs. In total, the groups plan to spend almost $900 million before Election Day 2016, although aides stress that the sum is not going to be spent entirely on political operations.
During an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen, Rubio told the donors that foreign policy should be a major qualification of the next President. Asked about the biggest threats facing the United States, Rubio cited Islamic terrorism, Russia and Iran. He also pointed to China, which he branded a serial violator of human rights. “I don’t want the most powerful country in the world to have values like that.”
He also took his turn with the friendly audience to ding Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State. “It’s an issue that’s ongoing not just with her but also her husband, and that is the constant secrecy and drama that surrounds them everywhere they go,” Rubio said. “This country cannot afford another four years of drama that they seem to bring to everything that they’re involved in.”

Come Election Day We Should Not Vote - We Should March on Washington and Shut It Down

New  uber PACs' help 2016 mega-donors customize their political clout

For discerning, super-wealthy donors looking for a distinctive way to advertise clout, the 2016 presidential election offers a new perk — their own specially tailored "super PAC."
Political professionals working on behalf of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both Republicans, have set up multiple super PACs with nearly identical names, all in the interest of catering to the wishes of the well-heeled, particularly the moguls willing to write seven-figure checks.
The idea is to convince these donors they will have a measure of control over how their money is spent.
"Whether they have $5,000 or $5 million, they want to be able to participate in the process and give their thoughts and ideas," said Austin Barbour, main strategist for the three super PACs backing Perry — all bearing the name Opportunity and Freedom.

"When they tell you things in this business, you better respond positively to what they are saying," said Barbour, a Mississippi-based political consultant and veteran of Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign.
The 2016 presidential race is already dominated by super PACs and other groups that under federal law can take unlimited checks. In Perry's case, for example, the trio of super PACs account for nearly all the money raised for his campaign so far, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
More than 80% of the money came from just three donors, who put in a total of $15.3 million. The largest sum, $6.3 million, came from Kelcy Warren, an oil and gas pipeline billionaire from Dallas; an additional $5 million came from another Dallas billionaire, Darwin Deason. A $4-million contribution came in from a third donor whose name has not been released.
Warren is not a typical, passive donor; he also serves as finance chairman of Perry's campaign. In February, Perry took a seat on the board of directors of Warren's firm, Energy Transfer Partners. Warren was at a Washington hotel recently when Perry, appearing at an Opportunity and Freedom event, gave a speech denouncing GOP rival Donald Trump as a "barking carnival act" — and saying that the nation needed to expand energy production and end a ban on energy exports.
Warren and Deason declined requests for comment.
Cruz has four affiliated PACs, all called Keep the Promise, that have together raised about $38 million, according to disclosure reports.
One of the groups is the repository for contributions from Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire from New York, who gave Cruz $11 million. Another was set up for Dan and Farris Wilks, brothers from Texas who made billions by selling equipment for fracking of oil and gas wells and gave $15 million with their spouses.

The third took in $10 million from Toby Neugebauer, the founder of a private equity firm whose father, Randy, is a Republican congressman from Texas. The fourth brought in $1.8 million from several donors who are wealthy, but not rich enough to command their own PACs.
Though super PACs can accept unlimited amounts of money to support candidates, they must disclose donors, and they can't coordinate activities with the candidates' campaigns — although campaigns this year have increasingly pushed the boundaries when it comes to coordination.
Turning such a PAC into an individualized accessory is one of the latest wrinkles in the money race.
The tactic stems in part from a still-lingering hangover of 2012. Romney's defeat and the implosions of several GOP Senate candidates that year left some heavyweight Republican donors feeling they had not gotten good value for their money.

"A lot of people felt burned," said Edward Crane, a founder of the libertarian Cato Institute and president of Purple PAC, one of three super PACs supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
The tactic comes with some risk. One Republican operative who asked not to be identified because he is working for a rival candidate's super PAC called the strategy "head-scratching." Having multiple PACs will make for a lot of complications when the time comes to spend money, the operative said.
Maybe one donor only wants his money spent on positive ads, he said, or another will want to see his dollars go to ads in his home state — even when research from the campaign suggests that the money should be spent differently.
"You now have to jump through hoops and spend money inefficiently, because of a commitment you've made to a donor to give them some level of control over the PAC," he said, adding that such obstacles may end up "diluting the message."

"I have to imagine it's driven by donors," he said. "You wouldn't do it otherwise."
In the case of the Perry campaign, Barbour said there wouldn't be clashing agendas from the super PACs because he will be running the operations for all three groups. Donors will be consulted but won't make the final decisions, he said.
"We'll see if it works," he said. "I see the way donors like it."
The proliferation of super PACs comes as the outside groups assume higher profiles not only in fundraising, but in taking on more and more functions that once were run by the candidates' own campaign organizations.
A Republican campaign lawyer said he doubted that the outside-group operations would prove as effective as efforts run directly by the campaigns.
"There's a marketing element going on here," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is advising other candidates. "A lot of these efforts are inefficient. I'm a little old-school. I really think campaign money, in the end, will prove to be the most valuable."
He was referring to the money donated directly to candidates. Such donations have tighter restrictions and are capped at $2,700 per person, but the dollars go further because candidates are by law given the lowest rates for buying television advertising, among other things.
Another potential risk is tripping over the rules that ban coordination. David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates removing restrictions on campaign spending, says he thinks Warren's roles as Perry's finance chairman and mega-donor risk violating those rules. Violations could happen, he said, if Warren were privy to campaign information and then got involved in making decisions for the PAC.
"If he's someone who's a finance chair for the campaign, it wouldn't be a very good move for him to do anything else except give money," Keating said. "He might not know of any intentions or plans for the campaign, but I think people might have a hard time believing that."
Stefan C. Passantino, a campaign finance lawyer in Washington, set up the Cruz and Perry super PACs. Having donors to a super PAC be involved in raising money creates no problem, he said — so long as no one shares inside strategic information.
"The campaign can't tell the super PAC what their plans are on spending or on public communications," Passantino said. "Being the finance director in the room isn't anywhere close to that.
"It's not an issue."

The three groups backing Paul have set themselves apart by focusing on different tasks. One group, Concerned American Voters, is concentrating on grass-roots organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts, particularly in Iowa, which holds the nation's first nominating contest. The group says it has raised close to $2million and, with 40 staff members, already has knocked on more than 235,000 doors in the state.
Purple PAC, meanwhile, will spend money on social media, and America's Liberty PAC will focus on advertising.
"We're able to leverage slightly different donor universes," said Jesse Benton, who runs America's Liberty.
"We all realize it's not a zero-sum game. There are some donors who really believe advertising is the way of the past, and the ground game is really the thing they want to see their money spent on. Then American Voters is the place for them."
However the work gets divvied up, the era of multiple super PACs backing candidates is here to stay, Barbour predicted.
"It's sort of the wave of the future of fundraising at this level," he said.
Twitter: @jtanfani
Staff writer David Lauter contributed to this report.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Don’t believe your Lying Eyes - Listen to The GOP Likuds Force


Scientists fear toxic algae bloom spreading on Pacific coast

Rick Santorum calls climate change “a beautifully concocted scheme.” Senator Ted Cruz contends that no climate change has been recorded in the last 15 years, bluntly declaring, “It hasn’t happened.”

Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, has said, “We may be warming. We may be cooling.” Former Florida governor Jeb Bush grants that climate change is real, but he is unwilling to say it is caused by humans.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, sees a conspiracy: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive.”

Most of the 17 Republicans running for president are skeptical about climate change caused by humans, a stance that appears to line up with conservative voters who hold sway in the GOP primary contest.

Stretching from southern California to Alaska, this year’s blooms thought to be the largest ever recorded

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The toxic algae blooms in the Pacific Ocean stretching from southern California to Alaska — already the largest ever recorded — appear to have reached as far as the Aleutian Islands, scientists say.
“The anecdotal evidence suggests we’re having a major event,” said Bruce Wright, a scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Island Association, the federally recognized tribal organization of Alaska’s native Aleuts. “All the populations [of marine mammals] are way down in the Aleutians.”
While algal blooms are not uncommon in the Pacific, 2015’s blooms appear to be the largest on record, scientists say. Stretching from Southern California to Alaska, the blooms are responsible for unprecedented closures of fisheries and unusual deaths of marine life up and down the Pacific coast.
Pseudo-nitzchia is one species of algae that produces domoic acid, a neurotoxin that can be lethal to humans and wildlife. The toxin is ingested by shellfish and krill that, when consumed, pass the toxin onto the predator — in some cases, people.
Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said climate change may be a factor enabling the blooms to thrive. “I think, personally, it’s quite possible that these warm conditions just set up the ideal incubator conditions for this organism. It’s doing really well and lasting a lot longer than usual.”
In California, researchers in Monterey Bay observed some of the highest levels of the toxin ever seen. Oregon’s Department of Agriculture has shut down recreational harvest of razor clams along much of its coast. In Washington, authorities instituted an unprecedented closure of the state’s lucrative Dungeness crab fisheriesA fishery near Vancouver was closed in June over concerns of the algae’s toxin, which can cause seizures and death if consumed by humans.
“In Monterey, things have kind of calmed down a bit,” said Kudela. “We have been monitoring several times a week now. We still see toxin, so it hasn’t gone away.”
He added that the bloom may have moved further offshore and deeper in the ocean.
The algae were detected in southeastern Alaska in June. The discovery of nearly a dozen dead whales in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak also raised suspicion.
A dead sea lion that washed up near Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands is what prompted the most recent round of testing, Unalaska’s community broadcast network KUCB reported. Other die-offs of species have been reported along the Aleutian chain, stretching nearly 1,500 miles across the north Pacific, 2,000 miles north of Seattle.
“The best thing to keep an eye on is if they keeping seeing it in Alaska,” Kudela said. “And that would be a pretty clear indication of if the bloom has extended.”
“There’s just not a lot of resources going into understanding these big algal blooms,” Wright said. “The government doesn’t spend a lot of money on it, and I think that’s a big mistake. And in the future I think that’s going to be a big mistake as waters continue to warm in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.”
Wright added: “[Algal blooms] have the potential of taking out fisheries.”
Late last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave the state of Washington nearly $100,000 to continue to monitor the bloom.
Vera Trainer, a University of Washington researcher and manager of NOAA’s Harmful Algal Blooms Program, said expeditions are underway to try to map the bloom. What remains to be seen is whether or not there is one contiguous bloom, or several large ones.
“It does appear to be rather contiguous,” Trainer said. “What we’ve seen in past years is that we’ll have a bloom in California, and a little bit later in the year we’ll have a bloom in Washington. This one seemed to happen all at the same time.”
Kudela said researchers have found the toxin in anchovies and other fish. “We know that can happen, but generally the blooms don’t last long enough to see that transfer occur.” Trainer said that sea lions had never before been seen having seizures off the coast of Washington, a symptom of poisoning from the algae.
Research expeditions are underway along the Pacific coast and into the Gulf of Alaska to try to map the bloom. The last ship is due back in September, and Trainer expects a clearer picture of what exactly is happening by the end of the year.
Kudela said whether or not this year’s bloom is the “new normal” is “the million dollar question,” said.
“We could go into three years in a row of having really toxic algae out there and it getting into the food web,” he said.
Shellfish and other seafood are a staple in the diet of coastal communities up and down the Pacific coast, including many Native communities.
Wright, who has been studying toxic algal blooms since the 1970s, said many elders in Alaska Native communities have been alarmed by the increasing frequency of the toxic algae blooms, which threaten their traditional way of life. 
“But those are the kinds of changes we’re going to see with climate change,” Wright said. “We’re going to have to change and adapt and we’re going to have to lose some of our traditions, and that’s just the way it is.”

The Obscene and Totally Corrupt US Political System

Million-dollar donors pump huge sums into 2016 White House race


More than 50 individuals and entities have shelled out at least $1 million apiece to big-money groups backing presidential candidates — with close to half of the big donors giving to a super PAC aligned with former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
With 15 months to go before Election Day, donors have already contributed $272.5 million to independent groups supporting the large Republican field, more than four times the $67 million raised through their official campaigns, according to a tally by The Washington Post.
In all, 58 million-dollar donors together were responsible for $120 million donated to GOP and Democratic super PACs by June 30 — more than 40 percent of the total amount raised by those groups.
Never before has so much money been donated by such a small number of people so early. The massive sums have empowered outside groups that face no contribution limits and are now serving as de facto arms of many campaigns.
“Clearly the action is with the super PACs and with people who can write seven-digit and bigger checks,” said Henry Barbour, a veteran GOP fundraiser based in Mississippi who is informally advising former Texas governor Rick Perry in his run. “It’s amazing, but a handful of people really can have a material impact on the race.”
Topping the list of mega-donors on the right is New York hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, who donated $11 million to a super PAC aligned with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Houston private equity investor Toby Neugebauer gave $10 million to another Cruz super PAC. Kelcy Warren, a Dallas energy executive and the national finance chairman for Perry’s campaign, gave $6 million to two pro-Perry super PACs.
Half a dozen donors have made $5 million contributions to Republican hopefuls, including Florida car magnate Norman Braman, who is backing Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida; Dallas tech entrepreneur Darwin Deason, who is supporting Perry; and Wisconsin roofing billionaire Diane Hendricks, who is supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
While more money is flowing to Republican-allied PACs than to the official campaigns, the situation is the reverse on the Democratic side: 80 percent of the money raised to support Hillary Rodham Clinton and her rivals went directly to their campaigns.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has said he does not want the support of a super PAC.
But Clinton is flanked by her own wealthy allies who have the means to pump tens of millions into independent groups on her behalf. Already, eight have given $1 million to Priorities USA Action, one of her allied super PACs, which raised $15.6 million in all. The big backers include hedge-fund investor George Soros, media executive Haim Saban and film director Steven Spielberg.
For the first time, nearly every presidential contender is backed by a deep-pocketed ally — and, in many cases, several. The groups are run by longtime advisers and former aides to the White House hopefuls, who have edged closer to their aligned super PACs than previous candidates dared.
“There is now a new norm in how presidential candidates will run for office,” said David Donnelly, president of Every Voice, a group that advocates reducing the influence of the wealthy on politics. “It’s not about how much support they get from voters in Iowa and New Hampshire as the first benchmark. It’s about how much they can direct to these huge super PACs.”
Bush spent most of the year headlining high-dollar fundraisers for his allied super PAC, Right to Rise, helping it collect a record $103 million while maintaining that he had yet not decided whether to run.
The group hit its expected $100 million goal on June 30, the last day of the fundraising period, when it cashed 82 contributions totaling $3.5 million. Among them was a $1 million donation from Shahla Ansary, wife of former Iranian diplomat Hushang Ansary. He had given $1 million in February.
In all, 20 individuals and four companies donated at least $1 million to Right to Rise, with the largest sum coming from Coral Gables health-care executive Miguel Fernandez, who gave the super PAC more than $3 million.
Fernandez told the Wall Street Journal that he was not looking for any favors from Bush.
“I am sure there’s at least one [donor] that wants a solar power business and another who wants to build submarines,” Fernandez joked, according to the paper. “I have only given to Jeb because I think he has the right values.”
The super PACs supporting Bush’s rivals for the GOP nomination were largely financed by a few wealthy patrons.
Four groups called Keep the Promise that are supporting Cruz together raised more than $37 million, but 95 percent came from just seven contributors, including $15 million from the Wilks family of Cisco, Tex., which made billions designing hydraulic fracturing trucks.
Half of the $20 million raised by Unintimidated PAC, which is supporting Walker, came from two women: Hendricks and Marlene Ricketts, wife of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.
Rubio’s allied super PAC, Conservative Solutions PAC, brought in slightly more than $16 million.
Nearly a third of it came from Braman, a longtime patron of the Florida senator. Another $3 million came from Lawrence Ellison, the chief technology officer of Oracle, while Laura Perlmutter, wife of Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter, donated $2 million. Besilu Stables LLC, a Florida-based horse-racing operation owned by Florida businessman Benjamin Leon, gave $2.5 million.
America Leads, the super PAC supporting Chris Christie, raised $11 million. Hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen and his wife, Alexandra, gave the group $2 million, and another $1 million came from the Winecup Gamble Ranch in Nevada, owned by former Reebok chief executive Paul Fireman.
A super PAC supporting former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee brought in a total of $3.6 million — $3 million of which came from Little Rock agribusiness ­executive Ronald M. Cameron.
Half of the $3.45 million raised by CARLY for America, which is backing former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, was donated by former Univision head A. Jerrold Perenchio. 
The number of seven- and eight-figure checks flooding into the race alarms veteran party strategists, who worry that the power is moving away from the candidates to independent and unaccountable groups. 
“You do not have a level playing field any longer,” said Fred Malek, a senior Republican fundraiser. “In my humble opinion, it pollutes the process. But since the law permits it, everyone is going to do it until the law changes.”
Almost everyone, that is. At the moment, the GOP field is led by a candidate who has said he doesn’t need a super PAC: real estate impresario Donald Trump, who claims to be worth more than $10 billion.
Jose A. DelReal contributed to this report.