Thursday, October 31, 2013

Racist White Evangelical minister: Church leaders who supported Obama should resign — especially the black ones

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/30/evangelical-minister-church-leaders-who-supported-obama-should-resign-especially-the-black-ones/

By Travis Gettys
Wednesday, October 30, 2013


An Dominionist minister says church leaders who supported President Barack Obama in his last successful bid for the White House should resign.

Decrying the present-day “political monkey house,” Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, said any evangelical church officials who’d supported the pro-choice Obama exhibited “a fundamental condition of cluelessness.”

“Any evangelical leader — by which I mean someone like a minister or an elder — who voted for Obama the second time, is not qualified for the office he holds, and should resign that office,” Wilson wrote in an Oct. 14 blog post. “Unless and until he repents of how he is thinking about the challenges confronting our nation, he should not be entrusted with the care of souls.”

Wilson, who’s known for his books on Christian theology and his debates on religion with the late atheist Christopher Hitchens, suggested there may be other reasons why supporting Obama could disqualify church leaders, but he said he’d focused primarily on the president’s “radical pro-abort position.” 

Drawing a link between Margaret Sanger, the Planned Parenthood founder, and the then-respectable eugenics movement she aligned herself with to promote contraception use in the early 20th Century, Wilson singled out black officials who supported Obama as particularly ill-suited to lead congregations.

“Not only must the dignity of human life be upheld by white and black Christian leaders alike, to the extent we may allow any differences, it should be to expect a greater vehemence in opposing abortion (in the person of its advocates and enablers) from black leaders,” Wilson wrote. “This is because it is their people who are being disproportionately targeted by the white Sangerites. And a black Christian leader who cannot identify a Sangerite is a rabbit leader who does not know what a hawk looks like.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/30/evangelical-minister-church-leaders-who-supported-obama-should-resign-especially-the-black-ones/

The right’s war on pregnant women

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/10/31/the_rights_war_on_pregnant_women/

It's not just about abortion -- the right is locking up women when it deems them a threat to their fetuses

By Thursday, Oct 31, 2013

It is no secret that this has been a banner year for laws attempting to recriminalize abortion. During the first six months of 2013, states adopted 43 provisions to ban abortion, impose medically unnecessary restrictions on providers or otherwise regulate the procedure into nonexistence.

But framing the current assault on reproductive rights exclusively in terms of abortion rights erases another, equally dangerous reality faced by women who intend to carry their pregnancies to term: laws that establish personhood for fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses aren’t just a threat to women’s access to abortion — they are also being used to criminalize and incarcerate pregnant women.

From the forced detention of pregnant women suspected of substance dependence to the use of “fetal homicide” laws against women who experience miscarriages and stillbirths, anti-choice lawmakers and groups like National Right to Life — so long the self-declared “champions” of motherhood — are waging a war on women hoping to become mothers.

“The arguments being used to support the recriminalization of abortion not only have implications for the reproductive rights of women who want to continue their pregnancy to term,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told Salon. “The impact will be — the impact has already been — to deny pregnant women their very personhood. What’s at stake is not just reproductive rights, but virtually every right we associate with constitutional personhood.”

The available data on punitive state actions against pregnant women more than bears this out.

According to research compiled by NAPW, between 1973 and 2005, there have been 413 documented cases in which a woman’s pregnancy was a necessary factor in criminal charges brought against her by the state. In these cases and the 200 others that have been documented since 2005, women have been deprived of due process, the right to legal counsel, freedom of movement and other basic constitutional protections simply because they were pregnant.

Glenn Greenwald "Dick Cheney Engaged In Some Of The Most Radical & Criminal Conduct In The U.S.!"


How Climate Change Affects the Oceans


Why UN Climate Talks Must Deliver a Brighter Future for Us All

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-polman/un-climate-talks_b_4177721.html

10/30/2013

In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published the first part of its review of the latest climate science, the AR5 report. What makes the IPCC unique is that it is not the voice of a single scientist, or even that of a group. It represents a combined view of in this case 209 lead authors and a further 600 contributing authors. That is 809 scientists from all around the world, calmly setting out the data as they observe it. They observe that since the 1950s, many of the changes to our climate are unprecedented over the previous decades and in some cases millennia. They observe that 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. They observe that 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 1400 years. Just after the report came out many business leaders urged immediate action from governments, businesses and society to reduce carbon emissions and increase resilience. They were right to do so.

Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality it is about changes in our very way of life. Climatic shifts on the scale suggested by our current emissions trajectory could wreak havoc with the global agricultural system. 2 degrees of average warming could still mean several times that in the world's temperate regions, where much of the world's food is grown. Changing patterns of rainfall could increase the volatility of global crop yields as more countries experience doubts and floods that can wipe out whole harvests in the blink of an eye. All this during a period in which we expect the world to welcome an additional 2 billion people. The arithmetic doesn't add up. The gains in prosperity that many in the world have enjoyed over the past century of growth and industrialization could be severely curtailed if we do not change path urgently towards a more sustainable future. That is to say nothing of the more devastating effects of rising sea levels on the millions of people who live in low lying coastal regions and the prospect of hundreds of millions of environmental refugees that may be created if we do not act now.

Governments' ambitions to limit warming to 2°C now appear increasingly more difficult: in 2012 PWC estimated that the required improvement in global carbon intensity to meet a 2°C warming target had risen to 5.1% a year from now to 2050 - a rate of decarbonization not achieved since World War Two. But every year of delay will increase emissions, lock the economy into a high carbon future and make future emissions reductions more costly. The world must therefore act in a swift and coordinated way to avoid the more pessimistic scenarios of 4°C or even 6 °C average warming above pre industrial levels.

But faced with all this we have no choice but to be optimistic. It is often when most challenged that the human species can surprise us most. As we head towards the UN climate negotiations (UNFCCC COP19) that kick off on 11 November in Warsaw we have to focus on three things; Understating what is possible, showing what is possible and doing what is possible.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-polman/un-climate-talks_b_4177721.html

How climate change can make the wine shortage worse

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/10/30/how_climate_change_can_make_the_wine_shortage_worse/

Growing demand amid unstable temperatures is creating a deficit, a new report warns

By Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013

Morgan Stanley Research has successfully alighted on a way to throw the Internet into a panic: A report released Monday by the firm cautions that we may be on the precipice of a global wine shortage.

2.8 billion cases of wine per year may not be enough to keep the world happily buzzed on antioxidants, according to the analysis, which found that heavy drinking combined with a 5 percent fall in global production has left us 300 million cases shy of the amount needed to meet demand.
Last year’s drop in production can be partly attributed to unstable weather in Argentina and Western Europe. A combination of weather damage and disease, for example, contributed to a fall in France’s stocks of wine to their lowest level in over a decade.

And as climate change worsens, we could be seeing more of this sort of thing. A study from earlier this year warned that traditional wine country regions — including the Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France, Tuscany in Italy and Napa Valley in California and Chile – will experience sharp declines in production by 2050. Writing for LiveScience, wine expert and University of Maryland researcher Antonio Busalacchi explained his own findings that “extreme events, such as heat waves that shut down photosynthesis and hail storms that can ruin a chateau’s annual production in a matter of minutes, will become more commonplace.” Aside from lowered stocks, he said, wines will also lose their traditional character.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/10/30/how_climate_change_can_make_the_wine_shortage_worse/

Eyes of the Nation on Colorado Towns' Fracking Fight

From Common Dreams:    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/30-5

Industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.'

Lauren McCauley


In what many are calling the new "ground zero" in the national fight against fracking, the toxic gas and oil extracting process is on the ballot in four Colorado towns where citizens are taking on the heavyweights of the fossil fuel industry.

Following the example of Longmont, which last year became the first Colorado city to ban fracking, next Wednesday, voters in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette and Fort Collins will have the opportunity to choose whether or not they support the controversial extraction method of shale oil and gas in their communities.
The Denver Business Journal provides this rundown of the four ballot measures:
  • Broomfield: Question 300 would impose a five-year prohibition on all fracking.
  • Fort Collins: Its measure would create a five-year moratorium on fracking and storage of waste products related to the oil and gas industry in town.
  • City of Boulder: 2H proposes a five-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
  • Lafayette: Question No. 300 would ban new oil and gas wells in town. [As well as] prohibit "depositing, storing or transporting within city limits any water, brine, chemical or by-products used in or that result from extraction of oil and gas.”
Though local ballot initiatives, these are no small-town battles. According to reports, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) has poured over $600,000 into campaigns against the moratoriums.
"The oil and gas industry is trying to intimidate voters by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy this election," Laura Fronckiewicz, campaign manager for the pro-moratorium group Our Broomfield, told Denver Westword.

Among those industry insiders who are concerned that the success of these local initiatives could spell trouble for the future of fracking in the west, Tim Wigley, president of oil and gas trade group Western Energy Alliance, said, “I’ve really beat the drum with our members [...] across the West about how dangerous a precedent these could be if they become law.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/30-5

Tiny Plastic Beads Are Invading The Great Lakes. Here's What Scientists Are Doing To Stop It

Do we really need this crap in facial cleansers?  What ever happened to soap?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/great-lakes-microbeads_n_4178363.html


Several months ago, scientists warned that tiny microbeads, a common ingredient in facial cleansers, were flowing into the Great Lakes, with no way to remove the potentially harmful plastic. Now, a new study provides evidence of the microplastics in the world's largest surface freshwater source -- and gives scientists a fighting chance to get microbeads out of consumer products. 

"Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes," published this week in scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by the 5 Gyres Institute with researchers from SUNY Fredonia, documents the existence of microbeads in the Great Lakes.

"We found high concentrations of micro-plastics, more than most ocean samples collected worldwide," said Marcus Eriksen, who has a doctorate in science education and was the lead author on the paper. Eriksen is the co-founder executive director of 5 Gyres, a nonprofit that studies aquatic plastic pollution.

Scientist used a manta trawl (essentially, a net) to collect samples from 21 points in lakes Erie, Huron and Superior. All but one contained plastic. Much more plastic was found in Lake Erie, the most populated of the three lakes. Two of its eight samples, downstream from Erie, Pa., Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, contained 85 percent of all the microplastic particles collected in the entire study.
At one point, they found 466,000 particles per square kilometer, with an average of 43,000 particles per square kilometer. Most of these particles, which are used in bath products to scrub skin and are meant to wash down the drain, are less than one millimeter in size.


Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/great-lakes-microbeads_n_4178363.html

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Israel: Civil union legislation introduced to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples

From Pink News:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/10/29/israel-civil-union-legislation-introduced-to-extend-marriage-rights-to-same-sex-couples/

10/29/2013

The Yesh Atid Party in Israel on Tuesday introduced legislation to allow same-sex couples equal rights to straight couples.

The legislation aims to avoid the religious constrictions placed on marriage for straight couples, as well as to provide benefits to same-sex couples.

Israel does not currently allow any civil unions, and according a New York Times report, experts have estimated that over recent years, a quarter of Jewish couples have left Israel to marry, or cohabit without marrying.

The 15-page legislation, introduced in the Knesset on Tuesday, avoids using the word “marriage”, but would allow equal benefits for those entering the civil unions. The legislation specifies the unions as between “two human beings”, therefore making same-sex couples eligible.

“We have no argument or clash with the religious establishment, but we do need to provide a civic solution for every person, Jew or non-Jew, gay or straight,” Yair Lapid, Israel’s finance minister and chairman of Yesh Atid, said in a statement. “One of the fundamental human rights is the right to love in any way that one sees fit.”

Complete article at:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/10/29/israel-civil-union-legislation-introduced-to-extend-marriage-rights-to-same-sex-couples/

Gay Plano Couple Sues to Overturn Texas' Gay Marriage Ban

From The Dallas Observer:  http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/10/a_gay_plano_couple_is_suing_to.php




On October 3, a few weeks after celebrating their 16th anniversary as a couple, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano walked into the Bexar County Clerk's Office to apply for a marriage license. Their request was was denied, as they knew it would be. Same-sex marriage is still banned under the Texas Constitution.

Though Holmes and Phariss failed to obtain a marriage license, they succeeded in gathering ammunition for a federal lawsuit they filed on Monday in federal court seeking to lift the ban.

"Any person has the legal right to marry another person of the opposite sex, but that right is denied to those citizens who wish to marry another person of the same sex," the complaint says. "This unequal treatment of gay and lesbian citizens is based on longstanding prejudices, and it is repugnant to the United States Constitution."

The court filing proceeds to give a thumbnail sketch of Holmes and Phariss' relationship, as well as that of Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, a lesbian couple from San Antonio who are co-plaintiffs in the suit.

Holmes was in the Air Force and stationed in San Antonio when he met Phariss, an attorney, in 1997. They moved in together after dating for several months but were forced to live apart when Holmes was stationed in San Diego for training to be a physician's assistant.

They continued their relationship long-distance for the next 11 years, only reuniting under the same roof when Holmes retired from the Air Force in 2010. Soon after, they decided to get married.

De Leon was also in Air Force, though her four years of active duty were over by the time she met Dimetman in 2001. They lived together and supported each other while De Leon completed grad school and while Dimetman finished law school. They married in Massachusetts in 2009 and De Leon gave birth to a child three years later, but they are denied the federal and state benefits that accrue to married couples because Texas won't recognize their union.

Continue reading at:  http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/10/a_gay_plano_couple_is_suing_to.php

Our Invisible Revolution

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_invisible_revolution_20131028

By Chris Hedges Oct 28, 2013

“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?” the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea Is the Thing.” “If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.”

Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.

Revolution usually erupts over events that would, in normal circumstances, be considered meaningless or minor acts of injustice by the state. But once the tinder of revolt has piled up, as it has in the United States, an insignificant spark easily ignites popular rebellion. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. No one knows the form it will take. But it is certain now that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread despair, means that blowback is inevitable.

“Because revolution is evolution at its boiling point you cannot ‘make’ a real revolution any more than you can hasten the boiling of a tea kettle,” Berkman wrote. “It is the fire underneath that makes it boil: how quickly it will come to the boiling point will depend on how strong the fire is.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_invisible_revolution_20131028

Republican Says He'd Bring Back Slavery If His Constituents Asked Him To

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/nevada-republican-says-hed-bring-back-slavery-if-voters-demanded-it

Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler's comments to fellow Republicans sparked an uproar from his colleagues.

By Alex Kane October 29, 2013

A Nevada Republican sparked outrage after he told members of the GOP that he’d bring back slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted. Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler made the comments to the Storey County Republican Party in August, according to the Associated PressA video of his remarks only recently surfaced, though YouTube copies of the video appear to have been taken down.

In 2010, when Wheeler was running for his seat, a conservative blogger wrote an article where he asked the question, “what if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that's what the citizens want, right Jim?” Wheeler told the crowd in August that he responded to the blogger, “yeah, I would.”

Wheeler added: “If that's what they wanted, I'd have to hold my nose ... they'd probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah.”

Elected officials from both parties furiously denounced his comments. “Assemblyman Wheeler's comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society. He should retract his remarks and apologize,” said the governor of the state, Brian Sandoval.

The Democratic caucus in the Nevada Assembly called Wheeler’s remarks “reprehensible and disgusting.”

Wheeler defended himself by telling the AP, “Anyone who knows me knows that I could never vote for something like that...There is absolutely no room in my life for any bigotry.”

Maddow: Tea party apparently no longer embarrassed to flaunt its racist, neo-Confederate roots

From Raw Storyhttp://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/24/maddow-tea-party-apparently-no-longer-embarrassed-to-flaunt-its-racist-neo-confederate-roots/

By David Ferguson
Thursday, October 24, 2013


Wednesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the increasing explicitness with which tea party Republicans are embracing the Confederacy-era South as their cultural touchstone. 

Maddow began the segment by discussing the conservative women’s group the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) and their 2010 conference in Charleston, SC, in which attendees were promised “A Southern Experience” by the South Carolina branch of the organization.

“And boy did they mean that!” said Maddow. “They meant a very specific kind of ‘Southern Experience.’”

She then showed photos of the event, which featured white attendees dressed in Confederate regalia and African-American people dressed as slaves. The individual dressed as a Confederate officer in the image is South Carolina’s now-Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell, who in 2010 was still just a state senator.

In South Carolina, it is apparently good for your political career to be seen doing Civil War reenactments, complete with slaves. 

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), shortly after being sworn in, elected to celebrate Confederate History Month. Unlike past governors, however, he did not mention or make any note of the issue of slavery.

“After a while, after a national kerfuffle,” said Maddow, “McConnell did finally get embarrassed and went back to the commemoration statement and added a reference to slavery.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/24/maddow-tea-party-apparently-no-longer-embarrassed-to-flaunt-its-racist-neo-confederate-roots/

“We want to change the world”: Inside a white supremacist conference aimed at millennials

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/10/29/white_separatists_are_afraid_of_the_future/

Young white supremacists gather in D.C. to talk Ayn Rand, race and IQ, economic collapse. We crash the sad event

By
Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013

In the basement of Washington’s Ronald Reagan building this Saturday,  100 or so preppy white folks gathered to talk about their disgust with modernity and their embattled race. The room felt like a bunker, windowless and cramped.

Near the White House, the men — and handful of women —  bought books about the IQ differences between races and listened for nearly nine hours, as speakers from the U.S., Switzerland and France carried on about their shared European heritage, the impending financial collapse and the absurdity of believing all men are born free and created equal.

“God did not give people inalienable rights any more than he made them all equal and it is just the silliest kind of thing,” said Sam Dickson, an attorney who has spent decades supporting ultra-right-wing causes from Holocaust denial to Confederate revisionism. “That kind of thinking to the brain is like cotton candy to the stomach as compared to roast beef.”

The conference, titled “After the Fall: The Future of Identity,” was an opportunity to vent about a world that “has begun to crack and splinter under the pressure of mass immigration, multiculturalism and the natural expression of religious and ethnic identities by non-Europeans,” an online announcement explained. The conference comes as much of the white separatist movement is coalescing in opposition to Congress’ push for comprehensive immigration reform.

The host was the National Policy Institute, a quasi-think tank “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States, and around the world.” In sessions, speakers carried on about “The God That Failed,” “The Children of Oedipus,” the “Question of Identity.”

“We want to change the world,” NPI leader and conference organizer Richard Spencer announced  to his people. “We feel we are at the end of a certain paradigm and we want to take part in creating a new one.” The conference, in essence, was an opportunity for paranoids to hold a planning session/pep rally for their long-awaited economic or cultural collapse.

For the most part it was pretty small-bore stuff. In the lobby outside of the Polaris room, young men debated whether Ayn Rand’s message of individualism served the white race or fragmented it.

During a coffee break, a discussion about whether whites of different ancestry could ever live together in an ethno-state erupted from one of the tables.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/10/29/white_separatists_are_afraid_of_the_future/

My Confederate Town: Where Civil War-Era Politics Still Dominate

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/my-confederate-town

I feel hostility every time I walk out my door in Front Royal, Virginia.

By Jose Padua October 28, 2013

This article originally appeared on  The Weeklings.

This afternoon I found myself getting all teary eyed. I was playing the 1988 Dianne Reeves song “Better Days” for my two and a half year old son Julien. It’s the song that begins” 

“Silver gray hair neatly combed in place. 

There were four generations of love on her face.

She was so wise, no surprise passed her eyes…”

Sometimes referred to as “The Grandma Song,” this tune about her grandmother’s last years is way too sentimental for my tastes, but somehow Reeves sings the sappiness right out of the joint. Or at any rate, she sings it so well that I don’t care anymore, and I let loose with exactly the sort of feeling the song means to convey. In other words, listening to “Better Days” almost always gets me teary eyed—or worse; and halfway through the song this afternoon I was about to take that emotional turn for the worse.

Just a little earlier, Julien and I had left Maggie and Heather at the Royal Horseshoe Farm over on Morgan Ford Road toward the edge of Front Royal, the small town where we live in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Maggie—Heather’s and my nine-year old daughter—was there for her classmate Annalee’s birthday, and I was considering staying at the party with her and Heather. Which, I must say, was kind of odd.

We’ve been to some of Annalee’s previous parties, and though her parents have always been friendly, a good number of their friends and relatives were another story. Unlike Annalee’s parents, they weren’t the sort to extend their southern hospitality to strangers – especially not a mixed couple like Heather and me.

At the last party, many of them refused even to acknowledge us the entire time. I recognized one young woman as the clerk behind the counter the one time I took Maggie to the local ice cream shop. It was one of the situations where I open the front door of a place, everyone’s smiling and laughing until they take a look at me, standing in the entrance looking, to them, like an uppity foreigner, an illegal alien, or maybe even a terrorist. Whatever it was they saw in Maggie and me, it made them turn completely silent.

Sometimes it’s hard to decide which is worse—when they refuse to look at you because they don’t want to acknowledge your existence, your presence, in what they believe is a world that should belong only to them; or when they do look at you, and look at you with the purpose of sending the message that you don’t belong here and that you’re an intruder who better watch his fucking step. One might think, at first, that invisibility is always preferable, because it precludes the possibility that acts of violence may be taken against you. 

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/my-confederate-town

Elizabeth Warren Destroys Financial Crisis Myth

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/29/elizabeth-warren-financial-crisis_n_4174123.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

By Posted:
Speaking five years after the financial crisis began, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rejected that affordable housing mandates for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis.
"While the crisis was massive and painful -- and its impact continues to weigh on middle-class families to this day -- its underlying cause was fairly clear," she said, in remarks to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 100th Annual Convention & Expo in Washington. "The GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] made significant mistakes -- mistakes that cost taxpayers dearly -- but those mistakes were not the underlying cause of the crisis."

"Although Fannie and Freddie purchased securities backed by subprime loans, and some of those purchases helped fulfill their affordable housing goals, the St. Louis Fed economists found that the housing goals had no impact -- no impact -- on either the number of subprime loans originated or the price of those loans in the private-label market," she said. "Affordable housing goals have been scapegoated by those who have been itching to get rid of the goals for a long time, but I think it’s time to drop that red herring."

Warren blamed Fannie and Freddie's mistakes -- they have cost taxpayers $187 billion since being taken under government conservatorship in 2008 -- on trying to make increased profits to please shareholders.

The study Warren was referring to refuted a common conservative argument blaming the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act for forcing Fannie and Freddie to buy shoddy mortgages in poor neighborhoods. "It was the federal government that pushed the subprime loans … that pushed the Community Reinvestment Act," said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in a GOP primary debate during her presidential campaign, when asked who was to blame for the financial crisis.
 
Complete article at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/29/elizabeth-warren-financial-crisis_n_4174123.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

Permaculture is not just a trendy way to go green


America's Best Cities Are Being Lobotomized

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/americas-best-cities-are-being-lobotomized

Cities exist to promote culture. But gentrification is destroying this vital role.

By Rebecca Solnit, Nato Thompson October 24, 2013

Nato Thompson: Gentrification is a topic you have written about quite extensively in regard to that city on the Bay, San Francisco. It’s also a strange word in that it hints at not only a spatial transformation, but a cultural one as well (in terms of race and class). How do you see that mutable thing called culture playing out in cities and what value does it possess? 

Rebecca Solnit: Culture is not only economically beneficial to cities; in a deeper sense, it’s what cities are for. A city without poets, painters and photographers is sterile—it’s a suburb. It doesn’t contain the mirrors of its own inner workings, in the form of creativity, criticism or cultural memory. It’s undergone a lobotomy. 

It’s important to add that the people who blame artists for gentrification imagine artists as white middle-class newcomers to neighborhoods; but there are long-term culture-makers from the underclass that matter. Art comes in all colors: think of the Mission District’s muralists, the gospel choirs of the Fillmore or hip-hop in the South Bronx, just for starters. 

Most politicians, businessmen and economists, and many urban theorists, present cities as machines of capital, now that industrial production has been shipped off to the Third World, or sometimes American exurbs and suburbs. But cities, for me, are the brain of a society. They’re made for dreaming and imagining in ways that might not be so viable, or might just be lonely, in towns or villages. Big cities become refugee centers for people who are weird and innovative. 

The reversal of postwar white flight ultimately led to the suburbanization of the city. Look at downtown San Diego, which has supposedly been “reinvigorated” (to use a bit of urbanist jargon)—it’s dominated by chain stores and condos that are often second homes for the rich. There’s another problem. Cities used to provide poor people with a place—even if it was just a tenement. Now if you fall below the middle class, you won’t find the working-class boarding houses of the 1930s. Instead, you’ll fall into homelessness. There’s this novel phenomenon of homeless people who are employed, sometimes even in white-collar jobs. 

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/americas-best-cities-are-being-lobotomized

X-Ray of a Flagging Presidency

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/obama-keystone-xl-pipeline_b_4169791.html
10/28/2013

Will Obama Block the Keystone Pipeline or Just Keep Bending?

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

As the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline has worn on -- and it’s now well over two years old -- it’s illuminated the Obama presidency like no other issue. It offers the president not just a choice of policies, but a choice of friends, worldviews, styles. It’s become an X-ray for a flagging presidency. The stakes are sky-high, and not just for Obama. I’m writing these words from Pittsburgh, amid 7,000 enthusiastic and committed young people gathering to fight global warming, and my guess is that his choice will do much to determine how they see politics in this country.

Let us stipulate at the start that whether or not to build the pipeline is a decision with profound physical consequences. If he approves its construction, far more of the dirtiest oil on Earth will flow out of the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and reach the U.S. Gulf Coast. Not just right away or for a brief period, but far into the future, since the Keystone XL guarantees a steady flow of profits to oil barons who have their hearts set on tripling production in the far north.

The history of oil spills and accidents offers a virtual guarantee that some of that oil will surely make its way into the fields and aquifers of the Great Plains as those tar sands flow south.  The greater and more daunting assurance is this, however: everything that reaches the refineries on the Gulf Coast will, sooner or later, spill into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, driving climate change to new heights.

In June, President Obama said that the building of the full pipeline -- on which he alone has the ultimate thumbs up or thumbs down -- would be approved only if “it doesn’t significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”  By that standard, it’s as close to a no-brainer as you can get.

These days, however, as no one will be surprised to hear, brainless things happen in Washington more often than not, and there’s the usual parade of the usual suspects demanding that Keystone get built. In mid-October, a coalition that included Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell, not to mention the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable, sent Obama a letter demanding that he approve Keystone in order to “maintain investor confidence,” a phrase almost guaranteed to accompany bad ideas. A report last week showed that the Koch brothers stood to earn as much as $100 billion in profits if the pipeline gets built (which would come in handy in helping fund their endless assault on unions, poor people, and democracy).

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/obama-keystone-xl-pipeline_b_4169791.html

How Do We Act in the Face of Climate Chaos?

From Arctic News:  http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-do-we-act-in-the-face-of-climate-chaos.html?spref=fb
Guy R. McPherson
Monday, October 28, 2013

The Warning
As described by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases in 1990, temperature rise “beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage”.

We’ve clearly triggered the types of positive feedbacks the United Nations warned about in 1990. Yet my colleagues and acquaintances think we can and will work our way out of this horrific mess with permaculture (which is not to denigrate permaculture, the principles of which are implemented at the mud hut). Reforestation doesn’t come close to overcoming combustion of fossil fuels, as pointed out in the 30 May 2013 issue of Nature Climate Change. Furthermore, forested ecosystems do not sequester additional carbon dioxide as it increases in the atmosphere, as disappointingly explained in the 6 August 2013 issue of New Phytologist.
 
Here’s the bottom line: On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction (from Oliver Tickell’s 2008 synthesis in the Guardian).

John Davies concludes: “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” He considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the many self-reinforcing feedback loops described below.
Positive feedbacks
Methane hydrates are bubbling out the Arctic Ocean (Science, March 2010). According to NASA’s CARVE project, these plumes were up to 150 kilometers across as of mid-July 2013

Whereas Malcolm Light’s 9 February 2012 forecast of extinction of all life on Earth by the middle of this century appears premature because his conclusion of exponential methane release during summer 2011 was based on data subsequently revised and smoothed by U.S. government agencies, subsequent information — most notably from NASA’s CARVE project — indicates the grave potential for catastrophic release of methane. Catastrophically rapid release of methane in the Arctic is further supported by Nafeez Ahmed’s thorough analysis in the 5 August 2013 issue of the Guardian as well as Natalia Shakhova’s 29 July 2013 interview with Nick Breeze (note the look of abject despair at the eight-minute mark).

Warm Atlantic water is defrosting the Arctic as it shoots through the Fram Strait (Science, January 2011).

Continue reading at:  http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-do-we-act-in-the-face-of-climate-chaos.html?spref=fb

Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

From The New Statesman:  http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

By Naomi Klein Published 29 October 2013

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mother Of Transphobic Smear Campaign Target Defends Daughter

From Right Wing Watch:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mother-transphobic-smear-campaign-target-defends-daughter

by Brian Tashman on Monday, 10/21/2013

Several conservative media outlets, including Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network, have reported that a transgender student in a Colorado high school has been harassing other girls in the locker room and restrooms, citing claims made by the anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).
However, the school never found any verified cases of harassment.

As it turns out, the PJI never found any cases of harassment either, but simply considers the use of a women’s restroom by a transgender girl to be “inherently intimidating and harassing.”

The Transadvocate reports that the mother of the transgender student, who for privacy reasons is referred to as “Jane Doe,” is now speaking out about how the PJI is trying use the bogus story to paint her daughter as a sexual predator in order to boost its campaign to repeal a California law protecting transgender students:
When she went to her old school as herself, Jane flourished. When asked if she had experienced any bullying at the time she said, “Just some name calling.” Jane’s mother elaborated, “Before she transitioned, we would go to shopping and when she would try to use the male restroom, they would make rude comments.” I asked her if she meant that men in the restrooms would verbally abuse her daughter before she ever transitioned because she was perceived to be female even when trying to present as male. “She was scared to use the restroom. They made rude comments, language that she didn’t need to hear just because she was trying to go to the bathroom that she thought she had to be in.”

“Since she changed, she’s comfortable with life. She’s really feminine, but doesn’t do tons of makeup each day. She’s just a normal girl. If people see her on the streets, people don’t… didn’t know, you know? Before all of this stuff happened, none of this bothered anyone.”

When Jane’s mother refers to the “stuff that happened,” what she means is that one of the nation’s most influential ex-gay organizations suggested to the international press that her daughter was predator. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), an ex-gay organization, needed someone to be their cautionary tale if they hoped to fight an effective battle to end protections for trans children in California and apparently decided that Jane fit the bill.

A media ambush is how the school, Jane and Jane’s family learned about the “harassment” charges. Let’s be clear about what this was: it’s a classic media gotcha moment. Prior to this hostile media encounter, apparently no allegations had been made about Jane.

“Jane is private about everything. She’s timid and shy and tends to be afraid to talk to people. That they’re saying that she’s going around harassing people… it’s just not true. The people who are doing these stories need to realize that the kid behind these stories has feelings and gets hurt.”
Continue reading at:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mother-transphobic-smear-campaign-target-defends-daughter

Let’s Get This Class War Started

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/lets_get_this_class_war_started_20131020/

By Chris Hedges Oct 20, 2013

“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants. Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby” and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities. Colleagues, associates, employees, kitchen staff, servants, gardeners, tutors, personal trainers, even friends and family, bend to the whims of the wealthy or disappear. Once oligarchs achieve unchecked economic and political power, as they have in the United States, the citizens too become disposable.

The public face of the oligarchic class bears little resemblance to the private face. I, like Fitzgerald, was thrown into the embrace of the upper crust when young. I was shipped off as a scholarship student at the age of 10 to an exclusive New England boarding school. I had classmates whose fathers—fathers they rarely saw—arrived at the school in their limousines accompanied by personal photographers (and at times their mistresses), so the press could be fed images of rich and famous men playing the role of good fathers. I spent time in the homes of the ultra-rich and powerful, watching my classmates, who were children, callously order around men and women who worked as their chauffeurs, cooks, nannies and servants. When the sons and daughters of the rich get into serious trouble there are always lawyers, publicists and political personages to protect them—George W. Bush’s life is a case study in the insidious affirmative action for the rich. The rich have a snobbish disdain for the poor—despite well-publicized acts of philanthropy—and the middle class. These lower classes are viewed as uncouth parasites, annoyances that have to be endured, at times placated and always controlled in the quest to amass more power and money. My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged. It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their insatiable selfishness and hedonism. I learned, as a boy, who were my enemies.

The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich. Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” Fitzgerald wrote of the wealthy couple at the center of Gatsby’s life. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/lets_get_this_class_war_started_20131020/

How Jock Culture Supports Rape Culture, From Maryville to Steubenville

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/176846/how-jock-culture-supports-rape-culture-maryville-steubenville#

Dave Zirin on October 25, 2013

Your 14-year-old daughter is dumped on your freezing front lawn in a state of chemically induced incoherence with her shoes off and frost stuck in her hair. She tells you she was raped. You hear her 13-year-old best friend was also raped that same night. Your daughter is then bullied as a tape of the incident passes around her high school. You wait for the indictments and some semblance of justice, but they dissipate, as one of the accused is a football star from one of the area’s most prominent and politically connected families. The county prosecutor drops the charges, stating that your family is refusing to cooperate even though you are begging to be heard. Then it gets worse.

You are fired from your job without warning and the violent threats against your family through social media increase. You have to pick up your family and leave town. After your departure, your house is burned to the ground. But you refuse to be intimidated.

A public outcry develops, spurred by the decision of your family to come forward and speak out. Now, eighteen months after the incident, a special prosecutor is looking into the case.

This is the story of Melinda Coleman, her daughter, Daisy, her friend Paige, and Daisy Coleman's alleged rapist, Matthew Barnett, the grandson of a longtime member of Missouri’s House of Representatives.

There are other young men as well who are under scrutiny: athlete Jordan Zech, who allegedly filmed the assaults, and a 15-year-old whose name we do not know—who admitted to police that 13-year-old Paige “said no” several times, yet he refused to stop.

I do not know how Melinda Coleman has had the wherewithal to go public, be strong, and even have to serenity to say, in advance of a demonstration called for her family, “I do not condone violence in our defense I don’t want others terrorized as we have been.”

I am amazed by the composure of the now 16-year-old Daisy Coleman, choosing to go public, standing up for herself and writing essays online where she shares:

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/176846/how-jock-culture-supports-rape-culture-maryville-steubenville#