By Doug Porter
Efforts to eliminate the use of plastic grocery bags in California face all-out opposition via two well-funded industry campaigns in 2016. Hilex Poly, Superbag Corp, Advance Polybag and Formosa Plastics Corporation are expected to cough up most of the probable $55.3 million price tag for the efforts.
An estimated $38.1 million war chest will back a November referendum aimed at SB270, State Senator Alex Padilla’s bill banning the use of plastic bags. The measure was suspended following a $3.2 million signature-gathering campaign funded by the American Progressive Bag Alliance.
And just to make sure they get their way, industry proponents are spending an estimated $4 million qualifying a second ballot measure innocuously titled the Environmental Fee Protection Act. It’s likely they’ll spend $17.2 million selling this bit of misdirection, according to Forward Observer.com.
As the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Morain noted:
Judging from its name and purported purpose, the newly proposed Environmental Fee Protection Act seems an environmentalist’s dream.
The initiative pledges to take $400 million a year from “special interests” and dedicate it to “worthy environmental objectives like drought mitigation, recycling, clean drinking water supplies, parks, beach cleanup, litter removal, and wildlife habitat restoration.”
This act must be the work of earnest environmentalists or a rich philanthropist, right? Yeah, right.
The people preparing to pay $4 million or so to place the Environmental Fee Protection Act on the 2016 ballot are the same ones whose products despoil our countryside and clog the digestive tracts of sea turtles and whales.
What the plastic grocery bag industry –and remember that industry is an offshoot of dirty energy– is after would be a “No” vote on the bag ban and a “Yes” vote on the second measure. And they’ll be thrilled if voters are simply confused about what’s what.
The bag ban legislation made it through the legislature by allowing grocers to charge ten cents for paper bags. This was viewed as an incentive for people to bring their own shopping bags and a way to get food retailers to support the ban.
The idea is we’ll be told these fees are “special interest” money and need to be directed instead to the state treasury, where they’ll be spent to save wildlife and maybe even fight the global warming caused by the dirty energy industry. Then maybe the grocery industry will feel compelled to help undo the bag ban. And the petroleum industry will be laughing all the way to the bank.
It’s really cynical. I’ll be around to remind you as November 2016 approaches.
Solana Beach Votes for Styrofoam Ban
The Solana Beach City Council has taken the first step towards approving a ban on Styrofoam to-go containers at restaurants in that city.
As is true at the statewide level, when it comes to plastics as a way of life, corporate interests are ready to do battle. The eighteen businesses (out of 63) currently using Styrofoam containers have the California Restaurant Association (CRA) on their side. Predictions of doom and gloom for “mom and pop” businesses abound, along with spurious claims about the availability of recycling.
From NBC7 News:
Wednesday’s was the first reading of the ordinance. A second reading for adoption will take place in the next month or so. If again approved, the ban will go into effect in 30 days.
Exceptions to the ban will include food or products prepared or packaged outside of Solana Beach and polystyrene coolers and ice chests. Restaurants that can prove “undue hardships” caused by the ban could also be exempt.
The California Restaurant Association would do well by its membership to look at the damage to the brands of companies like SeaWorld, WalMart and McDonalds resulting from policies that are ignoring changes in public perception.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a certain level of disgust whenever disposable plastics are touted as consumer friendly.
Newsom Backing Gun Control Measure
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing an initiative for the November 2016 state ballot calling for a real crackdown on guns and ammo in California. Politico’s California Playbook reports the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence drew up the measure, focusing on the sale of ammunition as much as guns.
Newsom’s measure would require “anyone with a large capacity magazine — defined as 11 rounds or more — “to sell it to a licensed firearms dealer, take it out of state, or turn it into law enforcement to be destroyed,” and would considerably toughen reporting as well.
Cracking Down on Craft Brews
It seems to me like the Big Boys of Beer have decided to do something about all these people making beverages with actual flavor.
In addition to a micro-brewery buying spree, limiting the distribution of brands unwilling to play along may be part of the agenda.
Reuters reports the Justice Department is looking into Anheuser-Busch InBev, citing allegations the company has found a way to stifle craft competition by gobbling up distributors, then not allowing them to sell microbrews.
Via New York magazine:
The claims stem from A-B InBev’s exploitation of a loophole in the three-tier distribution system that lets beer makers own distributors, as long as they run them independently. In the past couple of months, Bud’s owner has snatched up five distributors in three different states. For better or worse, this isn’t illegal, but once the sales go through, craft breweries claim that they suddenly develop problems distributing their beer.
Additionally, the feds are looking into whether A-B InBev is also forcing distributors to only carry A-B InBev beers, which include Bud Light, Stella, Michelob Ultra, and their ilk.
A-B InBev is currently trying to buy SABMiller (Coors, Coors Light, Blue Moon, Leinenkuge’s, Grolsch, Miller. etc).
Benghazi: If It Walks Like a Duck…
Yet another GOP congressman has admitted the real purpose of the House Select Committee on Benghazi has been to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
From Think Progress:
In September, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) argued that one of House Republicans’ successes has been using the Benghazi Committee to drive down Clinton’s poll numbers. Though McCarthy tried to walk back his controversial comments, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) argued on Wednesday that the Majority Leader had it right to begin with.
“Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth,” Hanna said in an interview on Keeler in the Morning, a radio show in upstate New York. The third-term congressman paused for a moment, perhaps recognizing the importance of what he was about to say, before going on to agree with McCarthy’s original statement.
“This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton,” Hanna said.
Now that the obvious has been revealed twice, would it be too much to ask the mainstream media to treat this committee like the sham it really is?
TPP on Hold Until December 2016, Maybe?
Politico is reporting that congressional aides from both sides of the aisle are saying consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership may not make it a vote until after the 2016 elections.
Mike Sommers, chief of staff for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said at a Ripon Society meeting that Congress was unlikely to move on the massive trade package until a lame-duck session more than a year from now. Hazen Marshall, policy director for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was also at the session, agreed that a TPP vote was more likely to happen in a lame-duck session, and added that the White House was trying to work with congressional leaders on timing.
One attendee said the senior GOP staffers’ message was “TPP is dead until the lame duck.”
While this strategy may seem like the shortest road to congressional approval, it also means the pact will become fodder for 2016 campaigns. A negative reaction at the polls aimed at incumbents could affect the lame duck vote.
I wonder if labor leader Mickey Kasparian has found anybody to run against Democratic Congressman (and TPP supporter) Scott Peters?
Killing Them Softly With Drones and Baseball Cards
The Improved Grey Eagle is an advanced version the Army’s mission-proven Gray Eagle that has accumulated over 228,000 flight hours since 2008. The new model can fly for up to 40 hours at an altitude of 29,000 feet and carry sensors and missiles.
Cool, right? Jobs, baby, jobs!
Maybe not so much.
The Intercept has published a major investigative report on how those types of missile carrying drones are being used. There are three very unsettling things about this report.
First, the “The Drone Papers” reveals the existence of another intelligence community whistle-blower on the order of Edward Snowden. News reports have speculated about a second “defector” for months now, based on leaks that seemed unrelated to the former NSA contractor’s disclosures.
Secondly–and I’m hoping this is a premature judgment call on my part,– although the content of the documents provided to the Intercept seems to be both authentic and newsworthy, some major media outlets are not covering this story. FBI documents released recently tell the story of a successful government effort to get a major news network to kill a story about an earlier exposé published at the Intercept.
Finally, there’s the content of the report. It’s massive, book-length, with supporting videos and documents galore.
From the Huffington Post:
The Intercept’s investigation is called “The Drone Papers.” Scahill wrote that the new source “decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government.”
The latest cache of leaked documents reveals the decision-making process involved in drone strikes in the greatest detail yet, starting with the initial selection of a target and moving up the chain of command to the president, who authorizes the strikes. “The Drone Papers” also provides new details on operations in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, where the documents indicate that in one five-month period, 90 percent of those killed in drone strikes were not the intended targets. The Intercept’s eight-piece package includes multimedia elements, such as a visual glossary of the terminology of drone warfare…
…In “The Drone Papers,” the source condemns watchlisting, a process of monitoring people and compiling the information on “baseball cards” before “assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield.”
“We’re allowing this to happen,” the source added. “And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”
On This Day: 1914 – President Woodrow Wilson signed the Clayton Antitrust Act—often referred to as “Labor’s Magna Carta”—establishing that unions are not “conspiracies” under the law. It freed unions to strike, picket and boycott employers. In the years that followed, however, numerous state measures and negative court interpretations weakened the law. 1968 – Led Zeppelin made its official performance debut in England. 1984 – The Freedom of Information Act was passed.
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