Monday, September 30, 2013

Obedience to Corporate-State Authority Makes Consumer Society Increasingly Dangerous

From Truth Out:

By Yosef BrodySunday, 29 September 2013

Fifty years ago this month, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram published a groundbreaking article describing a unique human behavior experiment. The study and its many variations, while ethically controversial, gave us new insight into human tendencies to obey authority, surprising the experts and everyone else on just how susceptible we are to doing the bidding of others. The original experiment revealed that a majority of participants would dutifully administer increasingly severe electric shocks to strangers - up to and including potentially lethal doses - because an authority told them that pulling the levers was necessary and required (the "shocks," subjects found out later, were fake). People who obeyed all the way to the end did so even as they experienced tremendous moral conflict. Despite their distress, they never questioned the basic premise of the situation that was fed to them: the institution needed their compliance for the betterment of the common good. 

Milgram was driven by the need to comprehend Nazi horror, and today his research is rightly recognized as a warning of how easily things can go wrong if people obey authority uncritically and systematically. Yet its social contribution is only rarely understood to have here-and-now implications. We urgently need to update our appreciation of the perils of obedience to accommodate our contemporary global situation.

The most powerful authorities today make demands that can appear pretty reasonable on the surface - yet are driving us toward oblivion. Climate scientists have reached consensus that our behavior, if unchanged, is likely to result in social and environmental devastation, including mass species extinctions and human suffering on an unprecedented scale. Will our society continue to pull levers until we administer catastrophic doses?

The Milgram experiments offer a potentially helpful metaphor for our current predicament, one that I will expand on below. But first a few words on obedience and disobedience more generally.

Universal Experience, Social Construction and Personal Choice

Obedience and disobedience are universal social experiences. All human beings know what it feels like to obey - with varying degrees of enthusiasm - and we all know what it feels like to disobey. Each of us has plenty of experience with both, and we are always capable of one or the other at any given moment. Every individual with the capacity for independent thinking and action makes multiple daily decisions about whether to obey or disobey various laws, rules, wishes and suggestions of others, whether we are aware of these decisions or not. 

Modern societies are largely founded on the seductive idea that valuing obedience over disobedience will bring personal success and social cohesion. We are taught from an early age that even minor disobedience will sharply increase the likelihood of scary prospects like personal failure and social chaos. These emotionally powerful messages are drilled into us at home and at school, cultivating the necessary habits for powerful interests to function effectively, from parents and teachers to state institutions and large multinational corporations.

When it comes to the nature of obedience-disobedience, there is nothing we could accurately call normal. While obedience can be a particularly strong habit to break, humans (in contrast to other primates with more hard-wired social behavioral programming) are born neither obedient nor disobedient. We have strong tendencies to engage in both types of behavior across cultures and generations, in rational and irrational ways. Whether to obey or disobey in any given situation is a personal choice. Human social reality is extremely variable and complex. As long as we remain social creatures, we must deal with the obedience-disobedience question.
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America’s decline could save it from destruction

From Salon:

Bearing less responsibility will have benefits for the country, even if that means wielding less power

By Saturday, Sep 28, 2013

This article originally appeared on The Globalist.
There are two key questions. The first: Do Americans want a future that is different from the present or the past? To put it another way, is it possible for Americans to maintain a self-respectful notion of national identity within a new, disillusioned history of themselves?

The second key question: Can Americans remember differently — and therefore advance differently, without the nationalist and exceptionalist identity that carried them to 2001?

We have little to go by in terms of an existing record in American history, and what we have is not encouraging. The Bush years amounted to a simple denial of historical facts, a life-wasting, resource-wasting lunge for American power, even though it had already slipped away.

The Obama presidency, for all its initial promise of change, has been an even bigger disappointment in some respects, given the electorate’s initial hopes. It has offered very little in the way of forward movement.

Barack Obama has clung to the same prerogative rights to conduct military action wherever he sees fit. His administration is guilty of many of the same abuses of law that characterized the Bush years.

Apply a blind and one cannot tell the difference between the security-related legislation Obama has passed and what Bush enacted from the Patriot Act onward.

Does this reflect a cynical liberal effort to mollify conservative adversaries on all questions related to defense in order to preserve power? Or does it signify some frightening, invisible hold the defense and intelligence establishments have over our political life?

The unknowable surveillance machinery

One suspects that Obama’s heart has not been in much of what he has done overseas, but one cannot tell. The Cold War and the military and surveillance machinery that arose from it made the American government unknowable in such respects. Fighting global terrorism has only rejuvenated and strengthened that deeply engrained tradition.

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Noam Chomsky: 'The Foundations of Liberty Are Ripped to Shreds'

From Alternet:

The U.S. openly brags about boom times for its drone wars, while casually abandoning our 800 year-old system of due process.

By Steven Garbas, Noam Chomsky September 25, 2013

This article first appeared at Satellite Magazine, whose author Steven Garbas met with Chomsky in Cambridge, Massachusetts earlier this year to discuss the development of the drone era under president Obama.

Noam Chomsky: Just driving in this morning I was listening to NPR news. The program opened by announcing, very excitedly, that the drone industry is exploding so fast that colleges are trying to catch up and opening new programs in the engineering schools and so on, and teaching drone technology because that’s what students are dying to study because of the fantastic number of jobs going on. 

And it’s true. If you look at the public reports, you can imagine what the secret reports are. It’s been known for a couple of years, but we learn more and more that drones, for one thing, are already being given to police departments for surveillance. And they are being designed for every possible purpose. I mean, theoretically, maybe practically, you could have a drone the size of a fly which could be buzzing around over there [points to window] listening to what we’re talking about. And I’d suspect that it won’t be too long before that becomes realistic. 

And of course they are being used to assassinate. There’s a global assassination campaign going on which is pretty interesting when you look into how it’s done. I presume everyone’s read [a May 29]  New York Times story, which is more or less a leak from the White House, because they are apparently proud of how the global assassination campaign works. Basically President Obama and his national security advisor, John Brennan, now head of the CIA, get together in the morning. And Brennan’s apparently a former priest. They talk about St. Augustine and his theory of just war, and then they decide who is going to be killed today. 

And the criteria are quite interesting. For example, if, say, in Yemen a group of men are spotted by a drone assembling near a truck, it’s possible that they might be planning to do something that would harm us, so why don’t we make sure and kill them? And there’s other things like that. 

And questions did come up about what happened to due process, which is supposedly the foundation of American law—it actually goes back to Magna Carta, 800 years ago—what about that? And the justice department responded. Attorney General Holder said that they are receiving due process because it’s “discussed in the executive branch.” King John in the 13th century, who was compelled to sign Magna Carta, would have loved that answer. But that’s where we’re moving. The foundations of civil law are simply being torn to shreds. This is not the only case, but it’s the most striking one. 

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The Fast-Approaching ‘Point of No Return’ for Climate Change

From Common Dreams:

by Karin Kamp and John Light

For the first time, the world’s top climate change scientists have endorsed an upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions, establishing a target level for curbing emissions that if not achieved could lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climatic changes. 

In a report released Fridayby the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate panel, scientists also said that the target is likely to be exceeded in a matter of decades unless steps are taken soon to reduce emissions. To contain these changes will require “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” the scientists said.

The panel hopes that its latest report will help move international policymakers toward agreement on a new climate treaty, as negotiations have stalled in recent years. The report also concluded that many of the observed changes in climate since 1950 were “unprecedented over decades to millennia” and that over half of the temperature increases were man-made.

“Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased,” said Qin Dahe, co-chair of the IPCC working group that produced the report.

In reaction to the news, Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “The IPCC warns of an alarming escalation of impacts but also shows that preventing climate chaos is still possible.”

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC, Naidoo added that the panel’s warnings call for immediate action. He also pointed to the on-going situation regarding Greenpeace activists who are being held in Russia after they protested oil drilling in the Arctic.

“Unfortunately those who are taking this action are now in prison in Russia, while those that are most responsible are protected by governments around the world,” Naidoo said. One of the main obstacles to addressing climate change is a lack of political will, in particular on agreements that would create legally binding and internationally enforceable targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Window of opportunity

Naidoo talked about the urgency of these issues in this weekend’s interview with Bill Moyers. As the Arctic melts and sea levels rise, Naidoo said bold steps are needed on the part of policymakers in the international community to create an “energy revolution” to ensure carbon emissions drop dramatically.

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Climate change? Try catastrophic climate breakdown

From The Guardian UK:

The message from the IPCC report is familiar and shattering: it's as bad as we thought it was

by Friday 27 September

Already, a thousand blogs and columns insist the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's new report is a rabid concoction of scare stories whose purpose is to destroy the global economy. But it is, in reality, highly conservative.

Reaching agreement among hundreds of authors and reviewers ensures that only the statements which are hardest to dispute are allowed to pass. Even when the scientists have agreed, the report must be tempered in another forge, as politicians question anything they find disagreeable: the new report received 1,855 comments from 32 governments, and the arguments raged through the night before launch.

In other words, it's perhaps the biggest and most rigorous process of peer review conducted in any scientific field, at any point in human history.

There are no radical departures in this report from the previous assessment, published in 2007; just more evidence demonstrating the extent of global temperature rises, the melting of ice sheets and sea ice, the retreat of the glaciers, the rising and acidification of the oceans and the changes in weather patterns. The message is familiar and shattering: "It's as bad as we thought it was."

What the report describes, in its dry, meticulous language, is the collapse of the benign climate in which humans evolved and have prospered, and the loss of the conditions upon which many other lifeforms depend. Climate change and global warming are inadequate terms for what it reveals. The story it tells is of climate breakdown.

This is a catastrophe we are capable of foreseeing but incapable of imagining. It's a catastrophe we are singularly ill-equipped to prevent.

The IPCC's reports attract denial in all its forms: from a quiet turning away – the response of most people – to shrill disavowal. Despite – or perhaps because of – their rigours, the IPCC's reports attract a magnificent collection of conspiracy theories: the panel is trying to tax us back to the stone age or establish a Nazi/communist dictatorship in which we are herded into camps and forced to crochet our own bicycles. (And they call the scientists scaremongers …)

In the Mail, the Telegraph and the dusty basements of the internet, Friday's report (or a draft leaked a few weeks ago) has been trawled for any uncertainties that could be used to discredit. The panel reports that on every continent except Antarctica, man-made warming is likely to have made a substantial contribution to the surface temperature. So those who feel threatened by the evidence ignore the other continents and concentrate on Antarctica, as proof that climate change caused by fossil fuels can't be happening.

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Destabilization of Arctic Sea Ice Would Be Game Over for Climate

From Climate Story Tellers:

by Subhankar Banerjee,
September 27, 2013

The Arctic sea ice is the most famous visual indicator of climate change. This year the climate deniers took the lead to explain what’s going on with the Arctic sea ice. “And now it’s global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year,” by David Rose in the Mail on Sunday, and “Global warming? No, actually we’re cooling, claim scientists” by Hayley Dixon in The Telegraph—both published on September 8—led the parade. Quoting all these irresponsible disinformation, on September 10, Greg Gutfeld of Fox News put an end to global warming with these words: “Global warming? Yes, it’s finally dead.”

Soon I’ll get to the science of Arctic sea ice. But first a few words about “climate zombies.”

Last year I participated as a panelist in The Anthropocene: Planet Earth in the Age of Humans symposium at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. I was on the panel “Energizing the Anthropocene: Science for Smart Decisions” with eminent climate scientist Dr. Richard Alley. Richard first gave a long view of global warming, and then provided a road map of how with a $1 trillion investment, the US can move away from fossil fuels entirely. He is a great communicator of climate science, especially when it comes to debunking the deniers’ bogus claims. I’ll pull some quotes from a talk he gave earlier this year in June at an American Geophysical Union–Chapman conference “Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future” at the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado. His remarkable solo act is a journey through his own life and explains in less than three minutes—how climate zombies can survive on this earth, and keep reappearing.

Richard Alley (June 2013): This particular climate zombie is back in force again. While warming continued, the “global warming stopped” had a new birth of noise.

Then he shows a map of global temperature data from 1957 to now, from the Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

RA: Is it getting warmer? Yes. If you take a long enough interval, it’s up.

He then explains how the climate zombies can keep saying—global warming stopped, it’s cooling.

RA: I was born in 1957. There is the data from 1957 up to a little later. The regression line through the data, and you can see I was born—at the start of a cooling trend.

RA: I married my dear wife Cindy in 1980. We got married—at the start of a cooling trend.

RA: We moved to Penn State in 1988—at the start of a cooling trend.

RA: We came here to show our daughters the mountains here [in Colorado] in 1997—at the start of a cooling trend.

RA: They named a glacier after me in 2002—at the start of a short but steep cooling trend.

RA: Our daughter became a Penn Stater in 2005—at the start of a cooling trend.

RA: So my whole life…[big laugh]

When you look at the map you see that the temperature steadily went up from 1957 till now, but had many local minima that Richard Alley refers to as “start of a cooling trend.” He then gives an astute career advice to aspiring climate zombies.

RA: If there is a year of rapid warming, shut up! And then you can go right back to claiming global warming stopped, until the next rapid warming, then shut up, then go right back to claiming global warming stopped…ad infinitum!

This time the Arctic sea ice reporting by the climate zombies was quickly debunked: “No, the World Isn’t Cooling” by Phil Plait on Slate, “No, Arctic Sea Ice Has not Recovered, Scientists Say” by Andrew Freedman on Climate Central, “With Climate Journalism Like This, Who Needs Fiction?” by Tom Yulsman on Discover Magazine—are just a few examples.

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Scrap Metal Is the Ore of the Future

From Earth 911:

from Anne Staley09/25/13

Imagine a few decades from now when we’ve sucked our planet dry of all its natural resources. You don’t think that will happen? Stick around for 30 years or so and we’ll find out, but for now I’m pretty certain that given the rate at which we’re going, we may not even have to wait that long to see that day.

According to a report published on, we’ll need the resources of two planets to meet our demands by the early 2030s if we continue to use our natural resources and produce waste at the current rate. The report, by the way, was published in 2009.

A Valuable Industry

We’re left with very few natural resources, and the sooner we reduce our dependence on them, the better. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by recycling scrap metal that is processed into raw material, also called recycled feedstock, which is used the world over for industrial manufacturing.

Let’s break it down into numbers with the help of this ISRI fact sheet. Last year, 135 million metric tons of scrap — metal, paper, plastic, textiles, glass, rubber and electronic waste — were recycled in the United States and sold as valuable feedstock for industrial manufacturing to consumers both within and outside the country.

The value of the scrap metal was a whopping $90 billion and the recycled feedstock it was converted into was sold to more than 160 countries, generating $28 billion in export sales. (Phew, that’s as fine an example as any of letting the numbers do the talking.)
I’m not sure how many of us know that manufacturing products from recycled ore requires significantly less energy compared with using virgin ore. When I say significant, I mean really, really significant.

For example, recycling aluminum saves 92 percent of the energy required to manufacture products from raw material, while the energy savings that result from recycling copper and steel are 90 percent and 56 percent, respectively. That’s the kind of significant I’m talking about.

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Extreme Energy Extraction Roadtrip — The Scary Ways We're Ruining the Country to Get Fossil Fuels

From Alternet:

A look at what fracking, mountaintop removal for coal and other extraction methods are doing to communities across the country.

By Tara Lohan
September 11, 2013

The view from a Cessna reveals some dirty secrets. Flying at 2,000 feet above the forests of Appalachia I can see what the steep, tree-fringed roads fail to show: unnatural flat tops, seams of coal exposed like black-topped runways, impoundments of foul water perched above homes and schools. A naked honesty is revealed. This is what we have done, what we continue to do. We deface the mountains, denature ecosystems.

This is probably not news to you. Appalachia has long been one of the centers of American energy extraction, a place whose history is almost synonymous with coal. Since the 1830s the region has shoveled 35 billion tons of coal into the furnace of our economy. This is often called “cheap” energy and, at $100/megawatt-hour, it is – as long as you don’t look too closely.

But when you get down on the ground (or up in the air, as the case may be), the costs come into focus. Mountaintop removal coal mining is just what it sounds like: Entire mountaintops are obliterated to reach thin seams of coal. The “overburden” – the mining industry’s term for rocks and soil – is dumped into nearby valleys, burying streams, covering forests.

In a way, it makes perfect sense. First we go after the resources that are easiest to extract. And then, to maintain our wolfish appetite for energy, we have to seek out the stuff that’s harder to reach. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a classic example. Another would be the strip mining used to extract bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. Additional cases include hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to get at shale gas and shale oil deposits.

Michael T. Klare, author of the book  The Race for What’s Left, calls these kinds of extraction techniques “extreme energy.” He has written: “To ensure a continued supply of hydrocarbons – and the continued prosperity of the giant energy companies – successive administrations have promoted the exploitation of these extreme energy options with a striking disregard for the resulting dangers. By their very nature, such efforts involve an ever-increasing risk of human and environmental catastrophe – something that has been far too little acknowledged.”

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

GOP launches race war to boost the 1 percent

From Salon:

From Newt's epithets to the gutting of food stamps, Republicans try to unite white people to serve a hideous agenda

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013

The recent vote of House Republicans to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program reflects a deep-seated and insidious racial resentment toward Americans of color. This racial resentment rears its ugly head within the provisions for the bill that demand that non-employed participants in the program get a job, job training or do community service activities. Though the bill in its current form will most likely die in the Senate, the fact that Republicans would even pass it should concern us.

Conservatives continue to lead under the aegis of a deliberate and willful ignorance about the long-term existence of a group known as the working poor, people who work long hours in low-wage paying menial labor jobs, and therefore cannot make ends meet. Moreover, there is a refusal to accept that the economic downturn in 2008 created conditions of long-term unemployment, such that people simply cannot go out and “get a job” just because they will it to be so.

I often wonder if government officials actually talk to real human beings about these policies, because if they did, they would find many people with a deep desire to work, but a struggle to find well-paying jobs. Some of those people would gladly take jobs that pay far less, but are frequently told that their education and years of work experience make them over-qualified.

This is not a race-based problem. The American middle class itself is shrinking dramatically each year in relation to a poor economy, an insistence on austerity measures from the right, and a capitulation to these measures on the left. However, the complete irrationality and utter severity of the legislation, and the total lack of empathy and identification that inform contemporary Republican social advocacy is tied to a narrative about lazy black people and thieving “illegal” brown people.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan invented the term “welfare queen,” to characterize the actions of exactly one person in Chicago who had bilked the welfare system out of a staggering amount of money.
Buttressed by an underlying white racial resentment of the liberal pieces of legislation that emerged during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations – laws that had attempted to change conditions, but could not change hearts and minds around racial inequality issues — white conservatives latched on to a narrative about lazy African-Americans stealing from taxpayers and living lavish lives financed by the welfare state.

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Climate Change Report “Gives No Reason for Optimism”

From Inter Press service:

By Fabiola Ortiz
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 28 2013 (IPS)

Amidst rumours that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that each of the last three decades has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850. 

The warming of the climate is “unequivocal,” says the IPCC. “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

The IPCC Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) Summary for Policy Makers – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis was released Friday Sept. 27 in Stockholm.

The full in-depth report will be published Monday Sept. 30, as the first of the four volumes of the AR5.

Brazilian climatologist Carlos Nobre, one of the lead authors of the Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, said the new report “gives no reason for optimism.”

“Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years,” the new summary says.

“The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data, as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85°C over the period 1880–2012”, it adds.

With respect to the supposed “pause” in the rise in temperatures, the IPCC says: “the rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012; 0.05°C per decade), which begins with a strong El NiƱo [a cyclical climate phenomenon that affects weather patterns around the world], is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951 (1951–2012; 0.12°C) per decade.”

But, it argues, “Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.”

And it sums up: “It is virtually certain that globally the troposphere has warmed since the mid-20th century.”

Nobre told IPS that “the report observes what is changing, in greater detail, and reduces uncertainties by means of updated scientific knowledge.”

It also confirms that climate change is principally due to human activity, added Nobre, secretary for R&D policy in Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

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Oregon SB 633: Government to Try and Force GMOs on the People – the Deck is Stacked

From Farm Wars:

Barbara H. Peterson
Sept 26, 2013

Recently a farmer in Washington State found that he could not sell his crop of alfalfa to his regular buyers because testing confirmed the presence of genetically modified genes (GMOs) in it. His crop was rejected, and he informed the USDA. This is the USDA’s response:
The detection of a small amount of genetically modified material in a Washington state farmer’s non-GMO alfalfa crop constitutes a “commercial issue” only and does not warrant any government action…
So, let me get this straight. The government pushes GMOs on the marketplace through deregulation and promotion of the technology by various agencies until it is flooded, then sits back and tells the people who have been contaminated by this onslaught to just sit back and let the market decide. Sounds like a stacked deck to me.

And to top it all off, the counties in Oregon that are trying to ban the planting of GMOs in order to hold off the onslaught of contamination that results from these irresponsible and aggressive actions of the federal government in its zeal to push GMO technology for its cohorts Monsanto and company, are now confronted by a state attack in the form of a Monsanto Protection Act placed in an unrelated tax bill. Note the “other provisions” in bold at the bottom of the following article: 

Governor Kitzhaber, Legislative leaders come to agreement on additional school funding, PERS reform, assistance for small business and working families

Governor to call a Special Session September 30 

(Salem, OR) —  Governor Kitzhaber and legislative leaders have agreed on a framework to boost education funding by $140 million to restore lost school days and provide tuition relief for Oregon students this school year. The agreement combines cost savings from additional PERS reforms and new revenue to fund education, mental health and senior services, and targeted tax relief for small business owners and working families. The Governor will call the Legislature into special session on September 30 to act on the framework in time to allow schools to invest this year.

“This is the Oregon way,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “I applaud my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle for once again coming together for the benefit of all Oregonians. This framework offers a balanced approach that will allow for a sustained reinvestment in Oregon education and other critical services, like mental health, over the long term. We’re delivering for Oregon’s children, for Oregon’s economy, for Oregon’s future.”

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Message to Corporate Media Reporters: What’s "Natural" about Colorado’s Epic Flooding? It’s A Man-Made Pollution Problem

From Common Dreams:
by Jacqueline Marcus

An international team of climate scientists says it is 95 to 100 percent confident that human activity—largely from burning fossil fuels—is the main cause of global warming since the 1950s, according to a leaked draft of the upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Moreover, the jet stream patterns have been radically disrupted or changed in ways that are alarming.  The report, the first by the IPCC in six years released in September says that global sea levels could rise more than 3 feet in the next few decades if no action is taken to curb the worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases before then. 

The weather extreme disasters are consistently confirming the scientific evidence that we are now experiencing man-made pollution writ large at “biblical proportions” and yet the corporate media anchors and reporters continue to wrongly call these weather catastrophes “natural disasters”.
Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News is no exception to the mainstream reporters when he labeled the Colorado floods a “natural disaster”.  The operative and deceptive word here is “natural”.  There is nothing “natural” at all about man-made global warming.  Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that "this single event has now made the calendar year (2013) the single wettest year on record for Boulder."

The network evening news reporters, viewed by millions of people, are failing to report the scientific facts about man-made global warming and the current extreme weather disasters, recently the wildfires and Colorado floods.

To never make that connection between the two, to never even so much as utter the words “man-made climate change” and extreme flooding is like reporting on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico’s worst oil catastrophe in history without ever mentioning British Petroleum’s Horizon-Macondo deepwater massive explosions as the cause of that oil disaster. 

We’re talking about a very simple concept: Cause and Effect.  The corporate media has conveniently dropped the identification of the “cause”, the major leading headline of these disasters: human pollution is the primary reason why weather patterns are turning into horrific and terrifying catastrophes at the cost of billions of dollars worth of damages.

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Can Climate Change And Poverty Both Be Defeated At Once?

From Think Progress:

By Jeff Spross
on September 25, 2013

A year-long project to measure the economic costs and benefits of fighting climate change, and to harmonize that battle with lifting up the global poor, is getting off the ground.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is undertaking the study, and will release its results in September 2014 — just in time for the United Nations’ next big conference on climate change in 2015. It was commissioned by seven countries — Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway, Sweden and the UK — and will have a $9 million budget.

“At a time when governments throughout the world are struggling to boost growth, increase access to energy, and improve food security, it is essential that the full costs and benefits of climate policies are more clearly understood,” said Lord Nicholas Stern, Vice-Chair of the Commission. “It cannot be a case of either achieving growth or tackling global warming. It must be both.”

The place where those two goals meet is a critical leverage point. One of the great fears is that aggressive efforts to cut carbon emissions will impede economic expansion and entrench lack of access to energy, thus dragging down the chances of lifting the living standards of the global poor. One of the hopes for the study is it will allay those concerns, and help build an internatonal consensus to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.

The fact is, not only are the poor most at risk when national economies are held back, they are the most at risk when climate change arrives. The latest research, for instance, pegs southern and southeastern Asia — home to many of the world’s poorest — as one of the areas that could most easily be destabilized by climate shifts. The World Bank warns that within twenty years, rising drought and heat could render 40 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmland unsuitable for growing maize, a staple crop in global diets. Much of the continent’s grazing land for livestock could also be degraded past the point of usefulness. In Southeast Asia, the 2010 floods that affected 20 million people in Pakistan could become commonplace, and altered monsoon patterns could wreck the livelihoods of many of India’s farmers.

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Nearly One In 10 U.S. Watersheds Is 'Stressed'; Demand For Water Outpacing Supply: CIRES Study

From Huffington Post:

Nearly one in 10 watersheds in the United States is "stressed," with demand for water exceeding natural supply -- a trend that appears likely to become the new normal, according to a recent study.

"By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States," said Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder and one of the authors of the study. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.”

According to the research of Averyt and her colleagues, 193 of the 2,103 watersheds examined are already stressed -- meaning demand for water is higher than natural supply. The researchers found that most of the water stress is in the Western United States, where there are fewer surface water resources, compared with the East.
Averyt and her colleagues write:
On the water supply side, surface and ground water resources have been declining in much of the U.S. Aquifers underlying the Central Valley in California and the Ogallala, which spans the area between Nebraska and Texas, are being drawn down more rapidly than they are being recharged. Approximately 23% of annual freshwater demands rely on groundwater resources, yet the volume of groundwater remaining is unclear. Average surface water supplies are decreasing, and are expected to continue declining, particularly in the southwestern US.. Also in the southwest, water availability is defined as much by legal regimes as by physical processes. Water rights define how much and when water may be withdrawn from surface water sources irrespective of how much water may or may not be flowing in a given year. Water quality, including temperature and sediment concentration, can also constrain availability for certain users.
The researchers found agriculture requires the most water and contributes the most to regional water stress overall; the U.S. West is particularly vulnerable to water stress; and in some areas of the country, the water needs of electric power plants represent the biggest demand on water -- so much so that a single power plant "has the potential to stress surface supplies in a local area." In some densely populated regions like Southern California, cities are the greatest stress on the surface water system.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Secret War Against Iran Underway Undercover Conflict Upon Iran Underway

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media

From The Guardian UK:

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should 'fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can't control'

by Friday 27 September

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist".

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don't even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends "so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would" – or the death of Osama bin Laden. "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an "independent" Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. "The Pakistanis put out a report, don't get me going on it. Let's put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It's a bullshit report," he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

"It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]," he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

"It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn't even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

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America's prisons have turned into de facto mental institutions

The Cult of the Selfish

From In These Times:

When did America lose sight of the common good?

BY Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President September 24, 2013

Last week, in an example of what makes America beautiful, several strangers rushed to the aid of a New York City construction worker trapped in a burning fifth-floor apartment. The rescuers hoisted a ladder up a fire escape and extended it to the smoky windowsill where the victim clung.

One of the rookie rescuers risked his life clambering across the ladder-bridge four stories high and grabbing the victim as he dropped from the window.

A group of unrelated men cooperated to save the life of a fellow human. That is the best of America. That is what Americans aspire to be—participants in a human community that works together to benefit all, to advance everyone. But the American ideal of brotherhood from sea to shining sea is under attack.

A cult of the selfish relentlessly assails the value of American community. And now, the cult’s cruel campaign of civic meanness is achieving tragic victories. Just last week, for example, it succeeded in getting a bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would slash funding for food stamps by $40 billion—taking milk from the mouths of millions of babes in the richest country in the world. Also, it secured passage of a bill in the House that would de-fund the Affordable Care Act, thus denying health care—and in some cases life itself—to millions of uninsured Americans.

Denying food to the hungry, chemo to the cancer-stricken? That is not American. That is what ruthless dictators do. That is the stuff of Kim Jong-il. That is not how Americans treat each other.
It is, however, exactly what the cult of the selfish is seeking. It wants an America without community, where everyone is out for himself. Alone. Self-seeking. Self-dealing. In that world, the CEO who succeeds did it all by himself—no credit should be given to dedicated workers or community tax breaks or federal copyright protections. Similarly, in that world, the worker who is laid off has no one to blame but himself, not a crash on Wall Street, not the failure of a CEO to properly market products, not a technological transformation.

Decades ago, these scam artists tried to persuade Great Depression victims that their joblessness was their own, individual faults, not a result of the 1929 Black Friday market catastrophe. They’re resurgent now, trying to blame the 2008 Wall Street debacle on individual mortgage holders. They contend those working 40 hours a week for minimum wage deserve an income too paltry to pay for food and shelter. They insist that Social Security and Medicare be slashed, and if that means workers who paid into the programs their entire lives must live on cat food in retirement, well, that’s their individual fault.

What’s frightening is how close they’re getting to what they want—a country in which the rich get richer and everyone else blames themselves for falling behind.

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Beyond Savage Politics and Dystopian Nightmares

From Truth Out:

By Henry A GirouxWednesday, 25 September 2013

We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.
—Chris Hedges

What kind of society emerges when it is governed by the market-driven assumption that the only value that matters is exchange value, when the common good is denigrated to the status of a mall, and the social order is composed only of individuals free to pursue their own interests? What happens to democracy when a government inflicts on the American public narrow market-driven values, corporate relations of power and policies that impose gross inequities on society, and condemns young people to a life of precarity in which the future begins to resemble a remake of dystopian films such as Mad Max (1979), Brazil (1985), RoboCop (1987), Minority Report (2002), District Nine (2009), Comopolis (2012) and The Purge (2013). What makes American society distinct in the present historical moment is a culture and social order that has not only lost its moral bearings but produces a level of symbolic and real violence whose visibility and existence set a new standard for cruelty, humiliation and the mechanizations of a mad war machine, all of which serve the interests of the political and corporate walking dead - the new avatars of death and cruelty - that plunder the social order.[i]

Unfortunately, the dark and dire images of America’s dysimagination machine made visible endlessly in all the mainstream cultural apparatuses have been exceeded by a society rooted in a savage politics in which extreme forms of violence have become both spectacle and modus operandi of how American society governs and entertains itself. Evidence of the decay of American democracy is not only found in the fact that the government is now controlled by a handful of powerful right-wing and corporate interests, it is also increasingly made manifest in the daily acts of cruelty and violence that shroud that American landscape like a vast and fast-moving dust storm. Unspeakable violence, extending from the murder of young people and children at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary School, to name a few, to the recent mass shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and the Washington Navy Yard give credence to the notion that violence now becomes the most important element of power and mediating force in shaping social relationships. Mass violence has become so routine that it no longer evokes visceral responses from the public. For instance, when such violence engulfs major cities such as Chicago, the public barely blinks. And as the mass shootings increase, they will barely be covered by mainstream media, who have no critical language by which to engage such events except as aberrations with no systemic causes.

The line between the spectacle of violence and the reality of everyday violence has become blurred, making it difficult to respond to and understand the origins of symbolic and institutional violence in the economic, political and social formations that now rule American society. Violence has become so normalized that it no longer has a history. That is, its political and economic structures have become invisible, and the painful memories it evokes disappear quickly among the barrage of spectacles of violence and advertisements addressing us not as moral beings but as customers seeking new commodities, instant pleasure and ever-shocking thrills. At the same time, violence in America is fed by a culture of fear - shaped, in part, by a preoccupation with surveillance, incarceration and the personal security industry. And, as a result, American society has made “a sinister turn towards intense social control,”[ii] and a “political culture of hyper punitiveness.” [iii]

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Greenwald and Snowden saved the media from itself

From Salon:

For all the scoffing among "journalists" at Glenn Greenwald, Americans trust the media more after his disclosures

By Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013

There should be no doubt that the whistle-blowing of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the reporting by Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian together comprise the single biggest ongoing media story of the last few months — and it has truly been a media story. Indeed, unlike the journalism that surrounds a spontaneous event like a natural disaster, the reporting surrounding the NSA disclosures is, in part, about the fundamental relationship between the press and the government. More specifically, as Snowden himself said, it is about “the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government” by publishing material the government wants to keep secret.

Greenwald in particular turned it into that media story by not only responsibly publishing that material like the Washington Post did, but also by doggedly flogging the controversy as an ongoing commentary about the entire relationship between the public, the government and the press. And because that intrepid effort subsequently made the NSA disclosures the highest-profile media story in a generation, it stands to reason that the story will have a disproportionate impact on the public’s view of the media itself. That impact, in fact, could be one of the many significant long-term Snowden Effects.

The question, then, is: Will that Snowden Effect further erode Americans’ trust in the beleaguered news business, or will the story begin rebuilding that trust?

If the new findings from Gallup are representative of a larger trend, the answer seems to be the latter.
In its annual survey about Americans’ views of journalism, the polling firm documented one of the decade’s largest jumps in the number of people who say they trust the media. Notably, the spike in confidence was seen across all party affiliations.

The takeaway should be fairly obvious: Gallup’s results almost certainly show that the Snowden Effect had a positive impact on the media’s image. To know that’s the case is to simply remember that a) the NSA disclosures were the most prominent media story at the time of the survey and b) the trans-partisan nature of the public opinion bump not-so-coincidentally tracks the trans-partisan nature of the response to the NSA story itself.

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Spilling the NSA's Secrets Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden Leaks

Solar Barn vs. KXL: Community Builds Alternative in Direct Path of Pipeline

From Common Dreams:

Creative protest in Nebraska highlights 'what's at stake' for residents fighting proposed tar sands pipeline through their town

Sarah Lazare

Nebraska residents are showing that they will not allow the Keystone XL pipeline to tear through their communities or trample on their livelihoods.

They've constructed a wind and solar-powered barn, near York, Nebraska, in the direct path of the proposed pipeline—billing it as an alternative to dangerous and dirty tar sands oil, and daring the Obama administration and TransCanada to destroy their community building.

"This is clearly a challenge to the president to say you can choose our families and clean energy, or you can choose a dirty pipeline," Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska told Common Dreams. "It is a clear line in the sand."

Kleeb told Common Dreams that a coalition of ranchers and farmers with the Nebraska Farmer's Union joined with organizations including Bold Nebraska,, Sierra Club and Credo, as well as billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, to construct the creative protest building.

A dedication ceremony this weekend was timed to coordinate with nation-wide actions across 49 U.S. states calling for Keystone XL pipeline construction to halt and for tar sands oil to stay in the ground. Over 100 volunteers gathered Sunday at the barn that sits on the land of a family of farmers who will use the space to store their supplies and host community meetings.

Nebraska residents charge that the proposed pipeline would not only expand tar sands oil extraction and deepen environmental and climate crises, but it would also threaten the health and livelihoods of people throughout Nebraska.

"If someone had an oil spill on their property and that got into thir well, there would be no way to clean it and it would destroy their water," Kleeb told Common Dreams. "A lot of ranchers are organic farmers and provide whole foods and have organic certification. A tar sands spill would ruin their certification. Furthermore, this pipeline would make the government use eminent domain laws to force landowners to give up their land."

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How climate change contributed to Colorado flood

From Tree Hugger:

Chris Tackett September 25, 2013

It has become a familiar pattern. A natural disaster occurs and we can't help but wonder how it may have been influenced by climate change. With more than 97% of 11,944 peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists agreeing that global warming is man-made and basic physics and climate models predicting that a warmer atmosphere will lead to heavier rains, it's understandable that the incredible rains that fell on Colorado would lead us to wonder what role climate change played in the devastating floods.

Michael Behar at OnEarth explained the weather pattern that led to the unprecedented rain:
Atmospheric water vapor fed by the remnants of two tropical storms—one in the Gulf of Mexico and another in the Pacific Ocean—had already reached the highest level ever measured in Colorado for September, usually one of our driest months. At the same time, a stationary high-pressure system to the east and a deep low to the west had trapped all that moisture up against the Rocky Mountains. Powerful easterly winds forced the moisture upward, where it quickly condensed in the cooler air, resulting in last week’s deluge.

In Colorado, these “upslope” storms are typically small and don’t last long—because the conditions to generate them rarely align for more than 12 hours. But not this time. Instead, optimal conditions persisted for nearly a week across a vast area from central Colorado to the Wyoming border. That’s why some meteorologists have called “Superflood 2013” a millennial storm: in any given year, they say, there’s only a one-in-1,000 chance that the atmospheric variables would come together to produce a tempest of such magnitude.
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