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Journalists and the Looming Superstorm of Climate Disinformation

Texas had only just frozen over. In the wake of a devastating winter storm, millions in the state were without power and struggling to find warmth. They boiled snow for water; some were dying. And against all evidence, the climate-science-denying political right was grousing about windmills and blaming a Green New Deal that doesn’t yet exist.

“Unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas,” Tucker Carlson said on February 16 on Fox News. “The power grid in the state became totally reliant on windmills. Then it got cold, and the windmills broke, because that’s what happens in the Green New Deal.” An hour later, on Hannity, routinely America’s most-watched cable news program, Texas governor Greg Abbott said his state’s predicament “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.” In the days that followed, similar disinformation was repeated across Fox News and Fox Business programming, on competitor right-wing outlets OAN and Newsmax, in right-leaning newspapers, and in myriad statements by Republican elected officials.

These claims were nonsense. Texas runs primarily on natural gas, and it was frozen pipelines and wells—amid an energy infrastructure not designed to withstand cold—that were most responsible for the blackouts. Moreover, in the spirit of deregulation, state officials years ago had isolated their grid from the rest of the country, meaning Texas was unable to import electricity from elsewhere to keep the lights on. Some windmills did freeze, but only because they weren’t winterized—not because windmills in general are innately vulnerable.

In the reality-based press, experts defended renewable energy, and outlets issued explainers debunking Republican assertions. As the saying goes, though, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on. And so a story that should have been about Texans in need and a harrowing warning of how the climate emergency can turn life upside down was instead given over to a political mud fight—and that’s when it wasn’t reduced to a story about the high-flying misadventures of Ted Cruz.

Of course, disinformation is nothing new to the climate story. Exceptional investigative journalism has shown that fossil fuel companies knew as far back as the 1970s that their operations threatened humanity’s future, but they kept silent to keep their profits flowing. Now the fossil fuel industry is decidedly on the defensive—losing in the court of public opinion, shedding investors, and facing a new US president who vows expansive climate action. It’s no surprise the industry and its backers are again turning to disinformation. Judging by the chorus that followed the Texas freeze, they’re willing to get louder.

The question is, what can, and should, journalists do about that?


POX this, POX that, what a friggin’ plague of lies, deliberate lies. I know this is not a favored position of my fellow Nesters, but someone needs to take the entire Murdoch clan out and shoot them!!!💩💩💩💩💩

Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

Lol. While I cant say I’m for the shootings, I can say that one thing I admire about you obf, you call em like you see em.


I dont disagree but a shooting would be quick and merciful, the real torture would be turning them into the Duke Bros.


The union was an early Biden endorser


The Amalgamated Transit Union endorsed former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner’s congressional run on Tuesday, giving the progressive contender a major boost in the competitive race to fill a Cleveland-area congressional seat.

The transportation workers union’s Cleveland chapter, Local 268, counts an estimated 1,800 members in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, where Turner is running.

“We trust Nina Turner to fight for our families, support our union, bolster public transit, recover from this pandemic, and deliver for American workers in Congress because of her longstanding history of fighting for our values,” ATU International President John Costa said in a statement.

Turner welcomed the endorsement, calling transportation workers “the backbone of our region’s economy.”

But she is up against much of Cleveland’s Democratic establishment, which has coalesced around Shontel Brown, 45, a Cuyahoga County councilwoman who also chairs the county party.

Brown enjoys the backing of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), as well as an array of local elected officials, ministers, pro-Israel groups and building trade unions, including the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council.

The ATU, by contrast, is the first union to endorse Turner’s bid. The backing of the 200,000-member union signals that Turner’s appeal extends beyond the Democratic Party’s most progressive corners and into the mainstream, multiracial working class that populates Cleveland, Akron and their satellite communities.

Given the ATU’s ties to the Democratic mainstream, the union’s blessing also is a vote of confidence in Turner’s partisan credentials. The ATU was one of the first unions to endorse then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, backing his campaign ahead of the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

That kind of institutional support is likely to be critical for Turner, who is unafraid to break with Democratic leadership and is already taking heat for it. Brown and her allies have sought to define Brown as a “partner” to Biden rather than a “thorn” in the president’s side, implying that Turner might be in the latter category. For her part, Turner insists that she is merely a “thorn in the side of injustice” and plans to prioritize her constituents above all else.

The ATU’s endorsement also attests to Turner’s deep roots in Ohio’s labor movement. Her advocacy for a referendum overturning a law that restricted public-sector bargaining rights won her the loyalty of her successor in the state Senate, Democratic Caucus Chair Kenny Yuko.



Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the only non-Republican to vote against Vilsack. “I like Tom and I’ve known him for years. I think we need somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture,” Sanders told reporters after the vote, the Hill reports. “I think he’ll be fine, but not as strong as I would like.” He added in a statement:

During the last Democratic presidential primary, Vilsack—then a Biden campaign adviser—warned Democrat candidates not to criticize the big agribusiness companies that dominate US agriculture, arguing such a position would not be a “winning message.” Biden took that advice to heart in the run-up to the Iowa caucus—and got trounced by then presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sanders, who ran on platforms calling to bust up the agribusiness oligopolies. In the general election, with Vilsack has Biden’s top rural adviser, Trump won the state by eight percentage points.

As I noted in this recent piece, a deference to agribusiness interests marked Vilsack’s previous run at USDA. Under him, the agency greenlighted troublesome herbicide-tolerant crops cooked up by the the seed/pesticide industry, and pushed the meat industry’s agenda to roll back federal slaughterhouse inspection, ultimately subjecting workers to faster kill lines, at their peril. He also failed to reverse the USDA’s long history of discriminating against Black farmers, despite rosy rhetoric to the contrary.

Vilsack has vowed to take a fresh approach, particularly with respect to Black farmers. “It’s a fundamentally different time,” he said at his Feb. 2 confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Meanwhile, agribusiness interests remain hopeful for more of the same. “His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a insurance conglomerate and agribusiness lobbying outfit, said in a statement hailing his confirmation.



Most older Black farmers like McGill have stories of being disregarded by the USDA, regardless of the administration, or who holds the title of agriculture secretary. They’re disillusioned to the point that it seems wise not to get too invested in USDA affairs, smart not to hold out hope for change. McGill didn’t even know that Biden had nominated Tom Vilsack, who was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday. “It doesn’t really mean a whole lot,” he said.

A change of some sort would have come if Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a senior member of the House agriculture committee, was selected, as had been anticipated – she would have been the first Black woman to serve as agriculture secretary (she was instead selected to be secretary of housing and urban development). Vilsack, who has spent the time between his two stints as agriculture secretary in a high-paying job in big ag, is more of the “same ol’, same ol’”, as McGill put it. He served two terms in the same role in the Obama administration. Many of Biden’s cabinet picks have been praised by progressives; Vilsack’s nomination was met with confusion at best, disappointment and anger at worst.

In what could be seen as a response to the backlash, Biden nominated Jewel Bronaugh, currently Virginia agriculture commissioner, as Vilsack’s second-in-command. If confirmed, she would be the first woman of color to serve as deputy secretary of the department.

Black farmers peaked in number in 1920 when there were 949,889; today there are only 48,697; they account for only 1.4% of the country’s 3.4 million farmers (95% of US farmers are white) and own 0.52% of America’s farmland. The acreage they have managed to hold on to is a quarter the size of white farmers’ acreage, on average. All of this is the result of egregious discrimination from the USDA that Black farmers faced for decades.

Vilsack’s first term should have offered some hope – he was appointed by the first Black president, who also oversaw the 2010 $1.25bn settlement of Pigford II, the second part of a 1999 class-action lawsuit that alleged that from 1981 to 1997, USDA officials ignored complaints brought to them by Black farmers, and that they were denied loans and other support because of rampant discrimination.

Instead, a two-year investigation by reporters at the Counter found that during Vilsack’s eight-year tenure under Obama, fewer loans were given to Black farmers than during the Bush administration, and the USDA foreclosed on Black farmers who had discrimination complaints outstanding, despite a 2008 farm bill moratorium on this practice.

Many of those complaints were left unresolved. The report states that from 2006 to 2016, Black farmers were six times as likely to be foreclosed on as white farmers.

This disappointment is compounded by Vilsack’s kneejerk firing in 2010 of Shirley Sherrod, a longtime Black farmer advocate and civil rights activist who was serving as the Georgia state director of rural development for the USDA, when a deceptively edited clip that made her appear racist towards a white farmer was circulated by the rightwing propagandist Andrew Breitbart. Vilsack later apologized and offered her a different high-level USDA role, which she declined.


vilsack is far from fine, Bernie.


Politics. Voting against him showed that he really doesn’t think Vilsack is fine


Another good reason why I call PBO BO as in Bad Odor. I held my nose voting for him, but finally, closed primaries or not, I had had enough!!


Sold out to the establishment, gave him a shot the first time didnt vote for prez the second time


Yep, Didnt want to call him out publicly for some reason, did it with his vote instead


Zippy Duvall, eh? Sure sounds like s cross between a crook and a comic book sleaze.


More evidence showing how far out of mainstream thought all Republicans in Congress are on Covid relief.


More than 150 senior executives from some of the largest American companies across several major industries have lined up behind President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

The group of executives includes the top executives representing some of the powerful business interests in the US, ranging from bank and investment firms like Goldman Sachs and Blackstone, to technology companies like Google, Intel and IBM, to hospitality companies like Loews Hotels & Co. and airlines including American and United Airlines. Top executives from real estate, insurance and utility firms also signed on to the letter.

“Previous federal relief measures have been essential, but more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery,” the executives wrote in the letter addressed to bipartisan congressional leaders that will be sent Wednesday. “Congress should act swiftly and on a bipartisan basis to authorize a stimulus and relief package along the lines of the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed American Rescue Plan.”


even corpses know they need consumers to stay alive.


and need workers until they perfect the robots


Paid by taxpayers to benefit huge corporations. Would disproportionately affect taxpayers in states that already have higher minimums (in other words blue states)


Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is jumping on the minimum wage bandwagon and will introduce an alternative to Democrats’ proposal on Wednesday that would use federal dollars to increase low-earning workers’ income, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Hawley, a Trump-style Republican who’s considered a likely 2024 presidential contender, is breaking with the mainstream GOP orthodoxy in suggesting that he believes the federal minimum wage is too low.

He’s known now for his role in objecting to the certification of President Biden’s election, but as a likely 2024 candidate, his proposal is worth watching for what it says about the shifts in Republican ideas.
The politics: Hawley plans to pitch “The Blue Collar Bonus” as a populist, pro-worker proposal.

Hawley’s team estimates it would likely cost roughly $200 billion, something traditional Republicans will balk at, though it hasn’t been officially scored.

Hawley told Axios he also would support a $15 minimum wage for workers of large corporations that generate at least $1 billion in annual revenue.

The measure would also benefit low-wage workers who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill: Hawley is proposing a three-year program that would increase worker wages in 2021, paid by taxpayers rather than employers.

Those making below $16.50 per hour would receive a refundable tax credit worth 50% of the difference, paid out in quarterly installments. The $16.50 could increase over time, as it would be tied to the Consumer Price Index.

The credit would only apply to 40 hours or less of weekly work.

Only American workers with valid Social Security numbers would be eligible, meaning non-U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants would be excluded.

Foreseeable problems: The subsidy would disproportionally benefit those in states that have kept their minimum wages low.

It’s also an incredibly complicated bill, which could make it difficult for workers to properly estimate their take-home.


No way! Let the business bozos pay it.


Tulsi won’t be happy.


The Biden administration has withdrawn government support for a federal lawsuit in Connecticut that seeks to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high school sports. Connecticut allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by several cisgender runners who argue they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters. The Justice Department and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights withdrew their support for the case ahead of a hearing scheduled for Friday on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.


it’s hard to admit, but i have some misgivings about it, too. i totally believe that transgender is the upcoming lgbtq, so to speak, as in they are primed for recognition and for people to face that extra prejudice.

and i also see how someone who’s trained, say, as a woman all of her life and is suddenly outmatched by a transgender woman, would be irked. not sure what the answer would be or even if this is prejudice on my part. but there it is.


From the ACLU


FACT: Trans athletes do not have an unfair advantage in sports.
MYTH: Trans athletes’ physiological characteristics provide an unfair advantage over cis athletes.

Women and girls who are trans face discrimination and violence that makes it difficult to even stay in school. According to the U.S. Trans Survey, 22 percent of trans women who were perceived as trans in school were harassed so badly they had to leave school because of it. Another 10 percent were kicked out of school. The idea that women and girls have an advantage because they are trans ignores the actual conditions of their lives.

Trans athletes vary in athletic ability just like cisgender athletes. “One high jumper could be taller and have longer legs than another, but the other could have perfect form, and then do better,” explains Andraya Yearwood, a student track athlete and ACLU client. “One sprinter could have parents who spend so much money on personal training for their child, which in turn, would cause that child to run faster,” she adds. In Connecticut, where cisgender girl runners have tried to block Andraya from participating in the sport she loves, the very same cis girls who have claimed that trans athletes have an “unfair” advantage have consistently performed as well as or better than transgender competitors.

“A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance,”according to Dr. Joshua D. Safer. “For a trans woman athlete who meets NCAA standards, “there is no inherent reason why her physiological characteristics related to athletic performance should be treated differently from the physiological characteristics of a non-transgender woman.”


While I support trans rights in many areas, I do think it’s possible it may violate title XI. OTH, there may be football teams who would welcome a trans female to their team.


i completely support all the other issues here, of course. and i may be thoroughly convinced of this one, too, eventually.


It is thought-provoking, at the very least.


Article about the Kimmel interview


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) admitted Tuesday it’s tough dealing with the conspiracy theories and lies pushed by his Republican colleagues in the Senate.

But he urged his GOP counterparts to “come aboard” with Democrats’ policy proposals or face being left behind because they don’t have the majority in either the House or the Senate.

“It’s hard. It really is,” Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, told late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel about tackling GOP efforts at distraction.

“A lot of Republicans are decent humans beings, they are good fathers and mothers and everything else,” he continued. “But especially under Trump we have seen this country and the Republican Party move to my mind very far away from reality. And the fact that you got colleagues of mine in the Senate who refuse even today to acknowledge that Donald Trump lost the election.”

Sanders said Democrats were “reaching out to Republicans and saying ‘look, if you want to rebuild our infrastructure, come on aboard, you want to lower the cost of prescription drugs, you want to provide health care to all people, you wanna raise minimum wage in this country. We’d love to have you.’”

“But if you are not prepared to come on board, we are going to go forward and we’re gonna do it alone,” he added. “We’ve got 50 votes plus the vice president. We can do it in the Senate, We’ve got the votes in the House. That’s what we intend to do.”



Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont arrives at work in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Tuesday. The senator, whose attire choices at the inauguration in January sparked a social media celebration, carried a bag with the word “shirts.”


Oh. I see The Ch-ch-ch-Chairman, Senate Budget Committee.
Yes, the ch ch ch Chairman, Senate Budget Committee.

Nobody is unhappy that Bernie Isn’t in the Cabinet, right?

This is the part he was born to play—-after POTUS was denied him, of course.


🙂 🙂 Good one, Bernie! 🙂 🙂



And here’s an example of the difficulties that today’s systems have with dealing with the climate crisis


President Joe Biden’s legislative climate agenda has kind of fallen out of the news. Lawmakers are focused on what the Biden administration calls the “economic-rescue bill,” the one with the $1,400 checks. The climate content will come in the second, “economic-recovery” package.

Yet this lull has concealed quite a bit of activity. The game before the game, so to speak, has begun: Experts and activists are putting their pieces on the board, stakeholders are sorting through strategies, and various lawmakers are signaling their preferred policies. It’s also possible to discern potential divisions among Democrats already, particularly in the Senate Democratic Caucus, which—with its bare majority—will likely have to lend its full support to any climate bill.

If you want to see the United States pass a law about climate change in the next 12 months, it is time to start thinking about these issues, even without a draft bill text, a comprehensive plan, or an obvious outlet for citizen engagement. I think it’s important, too, to get your bearings before the gamboling parade of politics reporters rolls in and accidentally overturns some tables. So here’s a short and non-exhaustive guide to a few of the important disagreements (and consensus points) that have emerged.


Bernie likely won’t even have to vote on her confirmation because her nomination looks like it will be withdrawn


The Senate Homeland Security Committee is postponing a confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday for Neera Tanden, Axios has learned, a potential death knell for President Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

Why it matters: Tanden’s nomination was already in peril after several senators voiced their opposition. While the White House has continued to stand by her, the last-minute postponement is another indication of the tenuousness of her confirmation.

“We are postponing the business meeting because members are asking for more time to consider the nominee,” a committee aide said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The president deserves to have a team in place that he wants, and we’re going to work with our members to figure out the best path forward.”

The meeting had been scheduled for 10 a.m. ET.

Axios reported on Monday that House Democrats were already planning for a replacement nominee.


I’m not dancing until this is certain. NoNeera.


and Sperling, i hope. but hill and sneera may demand the one the “House Democrats” are pushing, if sneera can’t get in.

i’m with you, though. hill can be very persuasive, and who knows who all are making calls for sneera.


I’ll take Gene Sperling over Bruce Reed any day of the week tho’.


me too. not saying things well. :o)