Monday, September 29, 2014

Islamic State Militants Execute Female Iraqi Human Rights Activist

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/samira-nuaimi-killed_n_5880900.html

 
BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants with the Islamic State group tortured and then publicly killed a human rights lawyer in the Iraqi city of Mosul after their self-proclaimed religious court ruled that she had abandoned Islam, the U.N. mission in Iraq said Thursday.

Gunmen with the group's newly declared police force seized Samira Salih al-Nuaimi last week in a northeastern district of the Mosul while she was home with her husband and three children, two people with direct knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press on Thursday. Al-Nuaimi was taken to a secret location. After about five days, the family was called by the morgue to retrieve her corpse, which bore signs of torture, the two people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears for their safety.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, her arrest was allegedly connected to Facebook messages she posted that were critical of the militants' destruction of religious sites in Mosul. A statement by the U.N. on Thursday added that al-Nuaimi was tried in a so-called "Sharia court" for apostasy, after which she was tortured for five days before the militants sentenced her to "public execution." Her Facebook page appears to have been removed since her death.

"By torturing and executing a female human rights' lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency," Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, said in a statement, referring to the group by an acronym. The statement did not say how she was killed.

Among Muslim hard-liners, apostasy is thought to be not just conversion from Islam to another faith, but also committing actions that they believe are so against the faith that one is considered to have abandoned Islam.

Mosul is the largest city held by the Islamic State group in the self-declared "caliphate" it has carved out, bridging northern and eastern Syria with northern Iraq. Since overrunning the once-diverse city in June, the group has forced religious minorities to convert to Islam, pay special taxes or die, causing tens of thousands to flee. The militants have enforced a strict dress code on women, going so far as to veil the faces of female mannequins in store fronts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/samira-nuaimi-killed_n_5880900.html

The Tamale Underground

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground

Street vendors must skirt the law to make a living.

BY Rebecca Burns September 8, 2014

Each afternoon in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, 70-year-old Cuala resumes her quiet game of cat-and-mouse with police. After spending a few hours openly hawking cool drinks or hot chocolates from a cart, the street vendor (who declined to give her last name because of legal concerns) stocks an unmarked cooler with tamales, making furtive lunch sales to customers in the know. The stealth tactic reduces her profits, but lessens the chance that she will be arrested and ticketed: While the sale of drinks and packaged desserts is legal, street vendors like Cuala are prohibited from selling prepared foods in Chicago.

Though carts offering tamales, elotes, cut fruit and other treats are a common sight on Chicago streets, the Windy City is one of the few major metropolises that won’t grant such vendors business licenses, citing the difficulty of regulation and potential health concerns. As a result, street vendors, many of whom are poor immigrants, are subject to harassment from police, arrest and punishing fines of up to $1,000.

Some, like Cuala, resort to subterfuge; others vend only in the early morning, when police officers known for targeting vendors aren’t on the beat; others dash off the street whenever a police car approaches.

Whatever the strategy, the result is the same: Vendors, many of whom have already been shut out of the formal economy because of their age, childcare responsibilities, language barriers or immigration status, are forced to remain in the shadows. Street vendors and their advocates say that the ongoing threat of arrest represents a major barrier to growing vending businesses enough to make a decent living. It also takes a psychological toll on vendors.

Cuala once worked temporary jobs, but can no longer get hired: “They don’t want anybody old,” she says. She began selling tamales seven years ago. But one day last year, as she was handing tamales to a customer, a police officer grabbed them, threw them back at her and threatened to arrest her if she continued to sell on 26th street, the bustling thoroughfare that runs through Little Village.

Since then, Cuala has been in “constant fear” when police pass by and sells her tamales more surreptitiously. But her new strategy can yield as little as $80 each day, she says, whereas when she sold in the open, she made up to $200. The result, she says, is that it’s now impossible to save money, and she and two adult nephews whom she lives with must get by “day by day.”

All this could change soon. Arguing that street vending is an inextricable part of the fabric of city life, a coalition of vendors, labor activists and community groups are advocating a City Council ordinance that would legalize vending.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground

America's Political Spectrum Is Not Left to Right, It's Top to Bottom—And It has Failed the People

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/americas-political-spectrum-not-left-right-its-top-bottom-and-it-has-failed

Every day, there are populist uprisings, both large and small, all across this country.

By Jim Hightower September 17, 2014

My father, W.F. "High" Hightower, was a populist. Only, he didn't know it. Didn't know the word, much less the history or anything about populism's democratic ethos. My father was not philosophical, but he had a phrase that he used to express the gist of his political beliefs: "Everybody does better when everybody does better ."

Before the populists of the late 1800s gave its instinctive rebelliousness a name, it had long been established as a defining trait of our national character: The 1776 rebellion was not only against King George III's government but against the corporate tyranny of such British monopolists as the East India Trading Company.

The establishment certainly doesn't celebrate the populist spirit, and our educational system avoids bothering students with our vibrant, human story of constant battles, big and small, mounted by "little people" against ... well, against the establishment. The Keepers of the Corporate Order take care to avoid even a suggestion that there is an important political pattern -- a historic continuum -- that connects Thomas Paine's radical democracy writings in the late 1700s to Shays' Rebellion in 1786, to strikes by mill women and carpenters in the early 1800s, to Jefferson's 1825 warning about the rising aristocracy of banks and corporations "riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman," to the launching of the women's suffrage movement at Seneca Falls in 1848, to the maverick Texans who outlawed banks in their 1845 state constitution, to the bloody and ultimately successful grassroots struggle for the abolition of slavery, and to the populist movement itself, plus the myriad rebellions that followed right into our present day.

WHAT POPULISM IS NOT: An empty word for lazy reporters to attach to any angry spasm of popular discontent. (And it's damn sure not Sarah Palin and today's clique of Koch-funded, corporate-hugging, tea party Republicans.)

WHAT IT IS: For some 238 years, it has been the chief political impulse in America's body politick -- determinedly democratic, vigilantly resistant to the oppressive power of corporations and Wall Street, committed to grassroots percolate-up economics, and firmly rooted in my old daddy's concept of "Everybodyness," recognizing that we're all in this together.

Although it was organized into a formal movement for only about 25 years, Populism has had an outsized, long-term, and ongoing impact on our culture, public policies, economic structure and governing systems. Even though its name is rarely used and its history largely hidden, and neither major party will embrace it (much less become it), there are many more people today whose inherent political instincts are populist, rather than conservative or liberal.

Yet the pundits and politicos frame our choices in terms of that narrow con-lib ideological spectrum, ignoring the fact that most of us are neither, or a bit of both. Our nation's true political spectrum is not right to left, but top to bottom. People can locate themselves along this vertical rich-to-poor spread, for this is not a theoretical positioning: It's based on our real-world experience with money and power. This is America's real politics.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/americas-political-spectrum-not-left-right-its-top-bottom-and-it-has-failed

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Night fun and Culture: Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger














4 Ways Amazon’s Ruthless Practices Are Crushing Local Economies

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/4-ways-amazons-ruthless-practices-are-crushing-local

The price of Amazon's success is worker exploitation, the destruction of local enterprise and the creation of a corporate oligarch.

By Jim Hightower September 25, 2014

Even by the anything-goes ethical code of the corporate jungle, Amazon.com’s alpha male, Jeff Bezos, is considered a ruthless predator by businesses that deal with him. As overlord of Amazon, by far the largest online marketer in the world (with more sales than the next nine US online retailers combined), Bezos has the monopoly power to stalk, weaken, and even kill off retail competitors—going after such giants as Barnes & Noble and Walmart and draining the lifeblood from hundreds of smaller Main Street shops. He also goes for the throats of both large and small businesses that supply the millions of products his online behemoth sells. They’re lured into Amazon by its unparalleled database of some 200 million customers, but once in, they face unrelenting pressure to lower what they charge Amazon for their products, compelled by the company to give it much better deals than other retailers can extract.

Lest you think predator is too harsh a term, consider the metaphor Bezos himself chose when explaining how to get small book publishers to cough up deep discounts as the price for getting their titles listed on the Amazon website. As related by Businessweek reporter Brad Stone, Bezos
 instructed his negotiators to stalk them “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” Bezos’ PR machine tried to claim this sneering comment was just a little “Jeff joke,” but they couldn’t laugh it off, for a unit dubbed the “Gazelle Project” had
 actually been set up inside Amazon.

This top-level team focused on doing 
exactly what Bezos 
instructed: Pursue vulnerable small 
publishers and squeeze their wholesale
 prices to Amazon down to the point of no profit, thus allowing the online retailer to underprice every other book peddler. When Stone exposed Gazelle last year in his book, The Everything Store, the project was suddenly rebranded with a bloodless name—“Small Publisher Negotiation Program”—but its mission remains the same.

Today, Amazon sells a stunning 40 percent of all new books, up from 12 percent five years ago. It is even more dominant in the digital book market, which is fast catching up to the sales level of physical books and is widely perceived as the future of publishing. Electronic book sales were non-existent just seven years ago; today about a third of all books sold are e-books, and Amazon sells two-thirds of those. Of course, Amazon also owns Kindle, the largest-selling device for reading digital books.

With his market clout, deep-pocket financing, and ferocious 
price-cutting, Bezos has forced hundreds of America’s independ
ent bookstores to close and has humbled the superstore
 book chains that once preyed on the independents and dominated the market. Borders, the second-largest chain,
 succumbed to bankruptcy in 2011. Now Barnes & Noble, the largest brick-and-mortar bookstore, is stumbling. It has lost millions of dollars, closed dozens of stores, shrunk most others, and suffered the embarrassment of its own board chairman frantically dumping big chunks of Barnes & Noble stock.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/4-ways-amazons-ruthless-practices-are-crushing-local

Rebecca Solnit, What to Do When You're Running Out of Time

From Tom Dispatch:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175896/

By Rebecca Solnit
September 18, 2014

The Wheel Turns, the Boat Rocks, the Sea Rises 
Change in a Time of Climate Change 
 By Rebecca Solnit
There have undoubtedly been stable periods in human history, but you and your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents never lived through one, and neither will any children or grandchildren you may have or come to have. Everything has been changing continuously, profoundly -- from the role of women to the nature of agriculture. For the past couple of hundred years, change has been accelerating in both magnificent and nightmarish ways.

Yet when we argue for change, notably changing our ways in response to climate change, we’re arguing against people who claim we’re disrupting a stable system.  They insist that we’re rocking the boat unnecessarily.

I say: rock that boat. It’s a lifeboat; maybe the people in it will wake up and start rowing. Those who think they’re hanging onto a stable order are actually clinging to the wreckage of the old order, a ship already sinking, that we need to leave behind.
As you probably know, the actual oceans are rising -- almost eight inches since 1880, and that’s only going to accelerate. They’re also acidifying, because they’re absorbing significant amounts of the carbon we continue to pump into the atmosphere at record levels.  The ice that covers the polar seas is shrinking, while the ice shields that cover Antarctica and Greenland are melting. The water locked up in all the polar ice, as it’s unlocked by heat, is going to raise sea levels staggeringly, possibly by as much as 200 feet at some point in the future, how distant we do not know.  In the temperate latitudes, warming seas breed fiercer hurricanes.

The oceans are changing fast, and for the worse. Fish stocks are dying off, as are shellfish. In many acidified oceanic regions, their shells are actually dissolving or failing to form, which is one of the scariest, most nightmarish things I’ve ever heard. So don’t tell me that we’re rocking a stable boat on calm seas. The glorious 10,000-year period of stable climate in which humanity flourished and then exploded to overrun the Earth and all its ecosystems is over.
Continue reading at:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175896/

The Academic Impostor Behind the Pit Bull Hysteria

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-anthony-cooper/merritt-clifton-pit-bulls_b_5866176.html


09/24/2014


The most influential advocate for the eradication of pit bulls is an academic fraud. Merritt Clifton is prominent not simply because he has been making noise for decades, but because he uniquely claims to be a rigorous statistician: a scholarly expert. People who hate pit bulls lean on this man's putative expertise.

And he's a charlatan.

The loudest voice in favor of eliminating pit bulls in Canada is probably Barbara Kay, a journalist with the National Post. Her campaign is largely successful: Canada has some of the most punitive breed-specific laws (BSL) in the world. And she told me proudly, in an email:
My primary source, you will not be surprised to learn, is animal-industry historian and investigative reporter for more than 40 years, Merritt Clifton, until recently editor of Animal People News and now editor of his own site, Animals 24/7. My other primary source is Colleen Lynn of Dogsbite.org.
 
 
Colleen Lynn is a menace; she's a web designer who was once bitten by a dog, and has been on a vicious campaign to eliminate the pit bull type ever since. Still, she makes no pretense to academic credibility. Merritt Clifton, on the other hand, very much pretends to be an eminent scholar, and is truly dangerous.

In the first few minutes of the video linked here, for instance, you will see him pronounce: "I have more than a hundred peer-reviewed publications."

This would seem truly impressive -- that's a hefty body of published work. It's troubling, however, that not one of these publications shows up in a search on JSTOR, the comprehensive academic database online. Nor can I find a single example of his copious oeuvre in Harvard's library, which can also be searched online. One hundred publications, admirably invisible.

I finally found one. Clifton mentions Asian Biomedicine in the video, and floating around the internet is a single article that this obscure journal published in 2011. The journal's own website seems to have vanished, but they do say on their Facebook page that they are "peer-reviewed." Perhaps there are a hundred such articles? Probably not: a sandbox draft of somebody trying desperately to get Clifton and his projects on Wikipedia lists one academic publication. This one.

The video is posted on a blog maintained by Josh Liddy, an activist against BSL, who notes that Clifton's claims are "dubious." Mr. Liddy is far too polite. These claims are "fictional."

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-anthony-cooper/merritt-clifton-pit-bulls_b_5866176.html

Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody Sees

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26202-sea-change-the-ecological-disaster-that-nobody-sees

By Richard SchiffmanThursday, 18 September 2014

On September 21, in what is being advance-billed as the largest climate march in history, thousands of protesters will converge on New York City to focus public attention on the slow-motion train wreck of global warming. But while Americans are becoming increasingly aware that our industrial civilization is destabilizing the earth's climate, fewer know about another environmental disaster-in-the-making: the crisis of the global oceans.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the "Great Death" of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat - all conditions that are rife today.

Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet's most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered. That is the conclusion of a report issued earlier this summer by the Global Ocean Commission, a private think tank consisting of marine scientists, diplomats and business people, which makes policy recommendations to governments.

The report catalogues a grim laundry list of environmental ills. Commercial fish stocks worldwide are being overexploited and are close to collapse; coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification - and may be gone by midcentury; vast dead zones are proliferating in the Baltic and the Gulf of Mexico caused by an influx of nitrogen and phosphorous from petroleum-based fertilizers; non-biodegradable plastic trash - everything from tiny micro-plastic beads to plastic bags and discarded fishing gear - is choking many coastal nurseries where fish spawn; and increased oil and gas drilling in deep waters is spewing pollution and posing the risk of catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped an estimated 4.2 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico during a five-month period in 2010.

Yet these worrying trends have failed to spark public indignation. It may be a matter of "out of sight, out of mind."

"If fish were trees, and we saw them being clear-cut, we would be upset," renowned oceanographer Carl Safina observed in an interview with Truthout. "But the ocean is invisible to most people, an alien world." It is hard for those of us who only see ocean life when it ends up on our dinner plates to get worked up about its destruction, Safina said.

Nevertheless, this world under the waves is vital to our survival, according to Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist. "The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land," Earle told Truthout. "It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean."

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26202-sea-change-the-ecological-disaster-that-nobody-sees

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

For This Musician, Living Life To The Fullest Meant Leaving The City Of Her Dreams

After years of trying in San Francisco and LA I found the struggle wasn't worth the pain and Dallas is an easier place to live.  Now if we can just down size out of the huge place we were sold on when moving here the journey to finding the right level to live in comfort while enjoying something described by a Swedish word "Lagom." Lagom is associated with moderation, the word means not too much, not too little, but just the right amount. It typically refers to the etiquette of taking your share. 

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/letting-go_n_5812598.html

By 09/18/2014

For 23 years, Barbara Bentree made Los Angeles her home, thriving on the bustle of city life.
A singer who studied music education in college, Bentree moved to California in her early 20s with, as she put it, "stars in her eyes." She found work teaching in private schools, and in her spare time performed in one-woman shows, sang on various studio recordings and even appeared as a singer in several episodes of TV shows, including "Ally McBeal," "Days of Our Lives" and "Wings." Through teaching, she began to forge connections with people in the production world, and was soon being referred to work with children in the entertainment industry.

"I was young and single and really excited about being in a big metropolitan area," Bentree said of those early years in Los Angeles. "To participate in movies and television was very, very exciting."
Eventually, Bentree was recruited to work on "The Mickey Mouse Club" TV show as a music producer, auditioning and helping to train Mouseketeers, including famous alums Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. She worked in various production and music director roles for big networks, like Disney, and eventually met and fell in love with her husband, John Rangel, a pianist and composer, who relocated to Los Angeles from Florida in the early 90s to be closer to her. They married two years ago, after decades together.

The couple lived along the city's striking coastline, in beachfront areas such as Pacific Palisades and Malibu -- which were "wonderful" and "beautiful," Bentree said, but very expensive. To keep up with the cost of their rented apartment, Bentree worked on several projects that were lucrative, but not artistically satisfying.

"When I was young and inexperienced, all of the TV and movie work was lucrative and exciting," she said, but gigs as a studio singer crooning commercial jingles for cat food companies became less and less appealing. At one point, she looked at her life and realized she was spending 10 hours a week in the car, commuting back and forth to work on a particular project.

"It was a little nutty, and there was a lot of running around," Bentree said. "When I turned 50, I started to have this feeling of, 'Los Angeles is not the town for me to grow old in.'"

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/letting-go_n_5812598.html

Professional Hate Monger Bryan Fischer Exposes Himself as an Anti-Semite: Says All Immigrants Should Be Required To Convert To Christianity


Monday, September 22, 2014

‘Poor people don’t plan long-term. We’ll just get our hearts broken’

From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-extract

Why do so many poor people eat junk food, fail to budget properly, show no ambition? Linda Tirado knew exactly why… because she was one of them. Here, in an extract from her book, Hand to Mouth, she tells her story in her own words

Linda Tirado The Observer, Saturday 20 September 2014

In the autumn of 2013 I was in my first term of school in a decade. I had two jobs; my husband, Tom, was working full-time; and we were raising our two small girls. It was the first time in years that we felt like maybe things were looking like they’d be OK for a while.

After a gruelling shift at work, I was unwinding online when I saw a question from someone on a forum I frequented: Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive? I thought I could at least explain what I’d seen and how I’d reacted to the pressures of being poor. I wrote my answer to the question, hit post, and didn’t think more about it for at least a few days. This is what it said:

Why I make terrible decisions, or, poverty thoughts 

There’s no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6am, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes), then work, then I get the kids, then pick up my husband, then have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12.30am, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3am. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr Martini [her partner], see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork.

Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.

When I was pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel for some time. I had a mini-fridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC [government-funded nutritional aid for women, infants and children]. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12 for $2. Had I had a stove, I couldn’t have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron while knocked up.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-extract

Naomi Klein on the People's Climate March & the Global Grassroots Movement Fighting Fossil Fuels


Climate change is real. Want to live? It's up to people like you

I couldn't go to this march nor could I afford to take the time to go to the Dallas Pride Day events.

Over the last year I have been overwhelmed with personal disasters that require me to devote my energy to dealing  with.

Sometimes all these marches seem to be energy diversions.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/climate-change-common-people-march-jarvis-cocker

Politicians don’t understand. They just smile and hold the hand of big business. And so we march. Because destroying the Earth is not a good idea. It really isn’t

for Creative Time Reports theguardian.com, Thursday 18 September 2014

Do I really have to march? It’s actually a serious question: I mean, marching’s rather ... military, isn’t it? Bit aggressive. Bit too much like what the baddies on the other side would do, don’t you think? Wouldn’t you rather saunter? Or stroll? Mince, even? A hop, a skip or a jump – anything but stern-faced, humorless marching. And let’s face it: we’re probably going to need a sense of humor.

Remember 15 February 2003? If you’re taking the trouble to read this, then you probably went to an anti-war march that day. Didn’t turn out so well, did it? Nothing really changed. The “largest protest event in human history”, as we remember it today, was effectively ignored. That left a nasty taste. It might even have put you off the idea of protesting forever. The marching boots were thrown to the back of the cupboard and you went into a major sulk. Maybe you even wrote a song about it. Yeah, that’ll tell ‘em. You wrote the words:
If you don’t like it then leave
or use your right to protest on the street.
Yeah, use your right –
but don’t imagine that it’s heard.
No: not whilst c***ts are still running the world.
– “Running the World” (2006)
And you thought: “Yes! Smash the system!” And then ... time passed. Until you got this email:
On Sunday, Sept 21, a climate march through midtown Manhattan will kick off a week of high-profile climate events in the Big Apple. Promoted as an effort to bring unprecedented attention to climate change, the gathering comes just as international climate negotiations ramp up in a major push toward a new global accord. The People’s Climate March, being called the ‘largest climate march in history’ by organizers, will potentially draw over a hundred thousand people to walk through Manhattan and show a level of demand for action not seen since the era of Civil Rights marches and anti-Vietnam protests.
Can you be arsed? Do you risk being disappointed again? Or do you sit this one out? I mean, climate change is a bit old-hat now, isn’t it? And some people say it doesn’t even exist – people like ... Nigel Lawson. (A note for non-British readers: you may be more familiar with his daughter, the TV chef Nigella Lawson. The fact that he gave his daughter a “feminized” version of his own name tells you all you need to know about him, really.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/climate-change-common-people-march-jarvis-cocker

Emma Watson at HeForShe 2014


Friday, September 19, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Naomi Klein: ‘We tried it your way and we don’t have another decade to waste’

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/14/naomi-klein-interview-capitalism-vs-the-climate

The climate-change movement is making little headway against corporate vested interests, says the author of Shock Doctrine. But how does she think her new book, This Changes Everything, will help galvanise people?

The Guardian, Sunday 14 September 2014

Naomi Klein is the star of the new American left. At 44, the writer and activist has twice written blockbusters combining ground-level reporting and economic analysis that challenged people to take a hard look at what they took for granted: their shopping choices, America’s place in the world, and the devastating effects of arcane trade policy and rampant free market ideology. Along the way she gained a following that spans academics, celebrities and street and factory protesters.

Her first book, No Logo, about the power of brands over sweatshop workers in Asia who made the products (and the consumers in America and Europe who consumed them), politicised a generation of twentysomethings. It became the handbook of the anti- globalisation protests, and inspired two Radiohead albums.

Seven years later, her second book, Shock Doctrine, analysed how wars, coups and natural disasters were used as a pretext to impose so-called “free market” measures. Now Klein is back, writing about capitalism, only this time the fate of the entire planet is at stake. With her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, Klein hopes to set off the kind of powerful mass movement that could – finally – produce the radical changes needed to avoid a global warming catastrophe and fix capitalism at the same time. She argues that we have all been thinking about the climate crisis the wrong way around: it’s about capitalism – not carbon – the extreme anti-regulatory version that has seized global economies since the 1980s and has set us on a course of destruction and deepening inequality.

“I think we are on a collision course,” she says. Twenty-five years ago, when the first climate scientist was called to testify to Congress and make global warming a policy challenge, there might have still been time for big industries to shrink their carbon footprints. But governments at the time were seized with the idea that there should be no restraints on industry. “During that time,” Klein writes, “we also expanded the road from a two lane, carbon-spewing highway to a six-lane superhighway.”

When we meet in her Toronto home, Klein is juggling a schedule that combines the standard author book readings and television interviews and planning for an event in New York City billed as the biggest climate march ever seen. Her husband, film-maker Avi Lewis, is out shooting a companion film due for release in January. The two text back and forth during our chat.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/14/naomi-klein-interview-capitalism-vs-the-climate

Barney Frank: Marijuana Legalization Will Follow in Gay Marriage's Footsteps


Hey, U.N.: Climate change and population are related

From Grist:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related

By and 18 Sep 2014

On Sept. 22 and 23, the United Nations will host separate daylong conferences on two issues of incalculable importance to the future of humanity: population and climate change. Though the two meetings will take place just one day apart, neither is likely to refer to the other. And that will be a missed opportunity, because scientific research increasingly affirms that the two issues are linked in many ways.

The population gathering in the General Assembly on Sept. 22 will mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994. The next day’s summit has been convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for government and business leaders to brainstorm ideas for addressing climate change.

The coincidence of these meetings occurring a day apart offers a teachable moment for the global decision-makers gathering in New York. Actions to promote the well-being of women might produce mutually reinforcing benefits in both areas.

Population, the lives and status of women, and climate change are rarely linked at the United Nations — or in any other intergovernmental conversations, for that matter. Intuitively, it’s easy to understand that the growth of world population from 1 billion people at the start of the Industrial Revolution to 7.3 billion today has something to do with the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But most of the climate change the world is currently experiencing stems from decades of carbon-intense development by the world’s wealthier countries. These countries’ populations are growing much more slowly (and in a few cases not at all), compared to those of poorer countries with low greenhouse-gas emissions. So what’s population got to do with climate change today?

That’s a question researchers are beginning to answer. Published science presents growing evidence for climate-population linkage that is complex, far more nuanced than the conventional “rich-versus-poor” debate, and worth working to understand.

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related

3/4 Patti Smith - Song Dedicated to Life @ Riot Fest Chicago 9/14/14


What’s Behind Germany’s New Anti-Semitism

From The New York Times:   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/opinion/jochen-bittner-whats-behind-germanys-new-anti-semitism.html?_r=1



HAMBURG, Germany — Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews calls it the worst the Continent has seen since World War II. He may well be right. Attacks on synagogues are an almost weekly occurrence, and openly anti-Semitic chants are commonplace on well-attended marches from London to Rome. And yet it is here, in Germany, where the rise in anti-Semitism is most historically painful.

On Sunday, thousands of people marched through Berlin in response, and heard both Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck denounce the resurgence in anti-Jewish hatred.
We’ve seen this before, of course. But there’s an important difference this time. The new anti-Semitism does not originate solely with the typical white-supremacist neo-Nazi; instead, the ugly truth that many in Europe don’t want to confront is that much of the anti-Jewish animus originates with European people of Muslim background.

Until recently, Germany has been unwilling to discuss this trend. Germans have always seen Muslim anti-Semitism as a less problematic version of the “original” version, and therefore a distraction from the well-known problem of anti-Jewish sentiment within a majority of society.

And yet the German police have noted a disturbing rise in the number of people of Arabic and Turkish descent arrested on suspicion of anti-Semitic acts in recent years, especially over the last several months. After noticing an alarming uptick in anti-Semitic sentiment among immigrant students, the German government is considering a special fund for Holocaust education.

Of course, anti-Semitism didn’t originate with Europe’s Muslims, nor are they its only proponents today. The traditional anti-Semitism of Europe’s far right persists. So, too, does that of the far left, as a negative byproduct of sympathy for the Palestinian liberation struggle. There’s also an anti-Semitism of the center, a subcategory of the sort of casual anti-Americanism and anticapitalism that many otherwise moderate Europeans espouse.

But the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is responsible for the recent change in the tone of hate in Germany. Until recently, the country’s anti-Semitism has been largely coded and anonymous. Messages might be spray-painted on walls at night; during the day, though, it would be rare to hear someone shout, as protesters did in Berlin in July, “Jews to the gas!” Another popular slogan at this and other rallies was “Jew, coward pig, come out and fight alone!” — shouted just yards from Berlin’s main Holocaust memorial. And this is the difference today: An anti-Semitism that is not only passionate, but also unaware of, or indifferent to, Germany’s special history.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/opinion/jochen-bittner-whats-behind-germanys-new-anti-semitism.html?_r=1

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Naomi Klein: the hypocrisy behind the big business climate change battle

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/13/greenwashing-sticky-business-naomi-klein

Richard Branson has pledged $3bn to fight climate change, and delivered just $230m. Naomi Klein looks at the 'greenwashing' of big business and its effects – on the planet, and our own bodies

The Guardian, Friday 12 September 2014

I denied climate change for longer than I care to admit. I knew it was happening, sure. But I stayed pretty hazy on the details and only skimmed most news stories. I told myself the science was too complicated and the environmentalists were dealing with it. And I continued to behave as if there was nothing wrong with the shiny card in my wallet attesting to my "elite" frequent-flyer status.

A great many of us engage in this kind of denial. We look for a split second and then we look away. Or maybe we do really look, but then we forget. We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons. We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything.

And we are right. If we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, major cities will drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas; our children will spend much of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts. Yet we continue all the same.

What is wrong with us? I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things needed to cut emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have struggled to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck, because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and benefit the vast majority – are threatening to an elite minority with a stranglehold over our economy, political process and media.

That problem might not have been insurmountable had it presented itself at another point in our history. But it is our collective misfortune that governments and scientists began talking seriously about radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in 1988 – the exact year that marked the dawning of "globalisation". The numbers are striking: in the 1990s, as the market integration project ramped up, global emissions were going up an average of 1% a year; by the 2000s, with "emerging markets" such as China fully integrated into the world economy, emissions growth had sped up disastrously, reaching 3.4% a year.

That rapid growth rate has continued, interrupted only briefly, in 2009, by the world financial crisis. What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity's use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it's not the laws of nature.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/13/greenwashing-sticky-business-naomi-klein

Monday, September 15, 2014

Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse

'Reports from the future' warn of floods, storms and searing heat in campaign for climate change summit

Reuters The Guardian, Monday 1 September 2014

The 1972 book Limits to Growth, which predicted our civilisation would probably collapse some time this century, has been criticised as doomsday fantasy since it was published. Back in 2002, self-styled environmental expert Bjorn Lomborg consigned it to the “dustbin of history”.

It doesn’t belong there. Research from the University of Melbourne has found the book’s forecasts are accurate, 40 years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.

Limits to Growth was commissioned by a think tank called the Club of Rome. Researchers working out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including husband-and-wife team Donella and Dennis Meadows, built a computer model to track the world’s economy and environment. Called World3, this computer model was cutting edge.

The task was very ambitious. The team tracked industrialisation, population, food, use of resources, and pollution. They modelled data up to 1970, then developed a range of scenarios out to 2100, depending on whether humanity took serious action on environmental and resource issues. If that didn’t happen, the model predicted “overshoot and collapse” – in the economy, environment and population – before 2070. This was called the “business-as-usual” scenario.

The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods etc would eventually lead to a crash.

So were they right? We decided to check in with those scenarios after 40 years. Dr Graham Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook). He also checked in with the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere. That data was plotted alongside the Limits to Growth scenarios.

The results show that the world is tracking pretty closely to the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario. The data doesn’t match up with other scenarios.

These graphs show real-world data (first from the MIT work, then from our research), plotted in a solid line. The dotted line shows the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario out to 2100. Up to 2010, the data is strikingly similar to the book’s forecasts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse

The Rebellion to Save Planet Earth: Why Civil Disobedience Could Be Our Last, Best Hope

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/rebellion-save-planet-earth-why-civil-disobedience-could-be-our-last-best-hope

Traditional methods for fighting global warming have proven fruitless.

By Ted Hamilton September 7, 2014

The politics of climate change are shifting. After decades of halfhearted government efforts to stop global warming, and the failure of the “Big Green” NGOs to do much of anything about it, new voices — and new strategies — have taken the lead in the war against fossil fuels.

Jeremy Brecher, a freelance writer, historian, organizer and radio host based in Connecticut, has documented the environmental movement’s turn toward direct action and grass-roots activism. A scholar of American workers’ movements and author of the acclaimed labor history “Strike!,” Brecher argues that it’s time for green activists to address the social and economic impacts of climate change and for unions to start taking global warming seriously.

His latest book, “Climate Insurgency: A Strategy Against Doom,” which will be released early next year by Paradigm Publishers, examines the structural causes of our climate conundrum and calls for a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency” to force environmental action from below. Brecher spoke to Salon about his vision for dealing with global warming, the changing face of environmental activism, and why he thinks the People’s Climate March in New York on Sep. 21 is so important.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

First, let’s unpack the book’s key term: What is a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency”?

Around the world, we’re familiar with insurgencies where an armed group resists the government and says that it does not legitimately have the authority to make law and govern some area or some group of people. And the characteristic of an insurgency is that it denies the legitimacy or legal right of those who claim to be the legitimate authorities to rule.

The concept of nonviolent insurgency is of a kind of social movement where the same basic claim is made: that those who claim the right to rule actually don’t have the right to rule, but where the means of challenging their power is not an armed insurgency but is rather what’s come to be called “people’s power,” or mass civil disobedience or civil resistance. And so a nonviolent insurgency may sound paradoxical, but in fact it is quite a common thing around the world and happens a lot and has happened a lot in the past.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/rebellion-save-planet-earth-why-civil-disobedience-could-be-our-last-best-hope

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

As Obama Settles on Nonbinding Treaty, "Only a Big Movement" Can Take on Global Warming


Why Are “Feminists” Telling Women Not To Protect Themselves from Rapists?

From Ted Rall:  http://rall.com/2014/09/04/syndicated-column-why-are-feminists-telling-women-not-to-protect-themselves-from-rapists

By Ted Rall


Identity politics, a writer friend reminds me, is where liberalism goes to die.

The oceans are boiling, freelance journalists’ heads are getting lopped off, and there’s not the slightest sign of resistance to income inequality so out of control it would worry Cornelius Vanderbilt. Yet the Internet’s politically-correct “social justice warriors” are dedicating their formidable energies into attacking pissant trivialities.

Anyone who doubts that online slacktivists have their heads so far up their collective asses that they can’t see daylight need only read up on the controversy over Undercover Colors, which is a nail polish that allows women (or men, but they’re not the target audience) to discreetly discover whether their drink has been spiked by one of several common “date rape” drugs.

(My advice to women: if you’re at a party or with a guy so sketchy that you think you may have been slipped a mickey, don’t bother with the fancy polish. Just scoot. You don’t want to be there anyway.)

Better safe than sorry, right?

Wrong.

“Anything that puts the onus on women to ‘discreetly’ keep from being raped misses the point,” writes Jessica Valenti, a once-influential feminist blogger whose hammer-to-the-skull-obvious post-motherhood columns for The Guardian add to the case for automatically censoring any piece of writing by a parent about their children. “We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it.”

Um, what?

Valenti is serious about this: “So long as it isn’t me isn’t an effective strategy to end rape. ‘Undercover Colors’ polish and products like it only offer the veneer of equality and safety. And that’s simply not good enough.”

Which is true. And stupid.

Continue reading at:  http://rall.com/2014/09/04/syndicated-column-why-are-feminists-telling-women-not-to-protect-themselves-from-rapists

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Think the Southwest’s Drought Is Bad Now? It Could Last a Generation or More

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/09/southwest-megadrought
Late-summer 2014 has brought uncomfortable news for residents of the US Southwest—and I'm not talking about 109-degree heat in population centers like Phoenix.

A new study by Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and the US Geological Survey researchers looked at the deep historical record (tree rings, etc.) and the latest climate change models to estimate the likelihood of major droughts in the Southwest over the next century. The results are as soothing as a thick wool sweater on a midsummer desert hike. 

The researchers concluded that odds of a decadelong drought are "at least 80 percent." The chances of a "megadrought," one lasting 35 or more years, stands at somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent, depending on how severe climate change turns out to be. And the prospects for an "unprecedented 50-year megadrought"—one "worse than anything seen during the last 2000 years"­—checks in at a nontrivial 5 to 10 percent.

To the right there's a map, pulled from the study, showing that the swath of land in question and its risk of a 35-year drought. It extends from Southern California clear to West Texas, encompassing population centers like San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, and Albuquerque, along with a large chunk of the troubled US-Mexico border. (Note that in northern Mexico, drought prospects are even higher.)

This (paradoxically) chilling assessment comes on the heels of another study (study; my summary), this one released in early August by University of California-Irvine and NASA researchers, on the Colorado River, the lifeblood of a vast chunk of the Southwest. As many as 40 million people rely on the Colorado for drinking water, including residents of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, and San Diego. It also irrigates the highly productive winter farms of California's Imperial Valley and Arizona's Yuma County, which produce upwards of 80 percent of the nation's winter vegetables.

The researchers analyzed satellite measurements of the Earth's mass and found that the region's aquifers had undergone a much-larger-than-expected drawdown over the past decade—the region's farms and municipalities responded to drought-reduced flows from the Colorado River by dropping wells and tapping almost 53 million acre-feet of underground water between December 2004 and November 2013—equal to about 1.5 full Lake Meads drained off in just nine years, a rate the study's lead researcher, Jay Famiglietti, calls "alarming."

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/09/southwest-megadrought

The Last Gasp of Climate Change Liberals

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_last_gasp_of_climate_change_liberals_20140831

By Chris Hedges Aug 31, 2014

The climate change march in New York on Sept. 21, expected to draw as many as 200,000 people, is one of the last gasps of conventional liberalism’s response to the climate crisis. It will take place two days before the actual gathering of world leaders in New York called by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the November 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris. The marchers will dutifully follow the route laid down by the New York City police. They will leave Columbus Circle, on West 59th Street and Eighth Avenue, at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday and conclude on 11th Avenue between West 34th and 38th streets. No one will reach the United Nations, which is located on the other side of Manhattan, on the East River beyond First Avenue—at least legally. There will be no speeches. There is no list of demands. It will be a climate-themed street fair.

The march, because its demands are amorphous, can be joined by anyone. This is intentional. But as activist Anne Petermann has pointed out, this also means some of the groups backing the march are little more than corporate fronts. The Climate Group, for example, which endorses the march, includes among its members and sponsors BP, China Mobile, Dow Chemical Co., Duke Energy, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Greenstone. The Environmental Defense Fund, which says it “work[s] with companies rather than against them” and which is calling on its members to join the march, has funding from the oil and gas industry and supports fracking as a form of alternative energy. These faux environmental organizations are designed to neutralize resistance. And their presence exposes the march’s failure to adopt a meaningful agenda or pose a genuine threat to power.

Our only hope comes from radical groups descending on New York to carry out direct action, including Global Climate Convergence and Popular Resistance. March if you want. But it should be the warm-up. The real fight will come once people disperse on 11th Avenue.

“The march is symbolic,” said Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance when I reached him by phone, “but we are past the time of symbolism. What we need is direct action against the United Nations during the meeting. This should include blockades and disruption of the meeting itself. We need to highlight the fact that the United Nations has sold out to corporate interests. At U.N. meetings on climate change you see corporate logos on display. During the last meeting on climate change in Poland, the U.N. held a simultaneous conference to promote coal as a clean energy source. These U.N. meetings have become corporate trade shows where discussions on climate are hijacked to promote corporate interests. Barack Obama has announced he will continue the U.S. stance of only calling for voluntary climate goals in advance of the upcoming climate summit in Paris next year.”

The fossil fuel industry and corporations, from ExxonMobil to Koch Industries, underwrite political campaigns and author our legislation. They have stacked the courts with their judges and the airwaves with their apologists. They fund our scientific research and have effectively silenced dissidents. This corporate reach extends to the United Nations. Companies set up exhibition halls at U.N. climate summits promoting various corporate schemes to profit from the climate crisis, from “clean” coal and biofuel to nuclear power and carbon trading. Those who attempt to offer a counter narrative, especially after the disruptions at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, are swiftly silenced by U.N. security. Fences and security barriers now ring heavily guarded U.N. climate conferences. Protesters are herded into police-controlled “free speech” zones outside—like the march in New York—and ruthlessly dealt with if they deviate from the approved routes or make their voices heard among the delegates. The U.N. security at climate summits, which includes physically removing journalists so they cannot photograph or document protests that are shut down by force, is so absolute that the U.N. demands preapproved wording for T-shirts worn at its gatherings. The elites, whether in Congress or attending U.N. summits, have no intention of cutting off their access to wealth, power and privilege. They know where the money is. They know what they have to do to get it. And we are not part of the equation. 
Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_last_gasp_of_climate_change_liberals_20140831