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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

See The Cove

Finally saw the whole movie, The Cove, tonight (saw parts before, but never the entire thing in one sitting). The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2009. Highly recommended, please see it. The film has been banned in Japan and right-wing protestors have tried to block viewings of the film. Even the Academy Awards broadcast cut short the film maker's acceptance speech when one of them held up a sign directing viewers to support their cause of ending the dolphin slaughter. It seems the Academy Awards was afraid of corporate pressure from like-minded animal food businesses here in the USA (which is why media shouldn't be funded by advertising).

You can read a bit more about it here and sign a petition to end the slaughter here.

I love the line from the film "if you're not an activist you're an inactivist". I'm sick of the glamorization of apathy and people's obsession with self - no one reading this of course. ;) There's so much going on in the world that people are ignoring that needs our attention, ranging from this sort of animal slaughter to war to corporate corruption to right-wing media lies to global climate change. But too few care. Hope that changes.

And remember, there's no difference between a cow/pig/chicken and a dolphin (aside from the flippers, of course). :) So, go vegan!



Sean

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Some Proof that Glenn Beck is a Liar

More Glenn Beck insanity:

REPORT: Martin Luther King would have been on Glenn Beck's chalkboard

by Ben Dimiero published August 25, 2010 at MediaMatters.org

Fox News' Glenn Beck has spent the past several months relentlessly promoting his upcoming "Restoring Honor" rally, scheduled to take place this Saturday. Beck claims he originally wanted to schedule the rally for September 12, but decided to change the date because he didn't want to ask people to "work on the Sabbath." Instead, Beck and his event planners scheduled the rally for August 28, which coincides with the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I have a dream" speech -- a fact that Beck insists he only later discovered in a New York Times article.

Nonetheless, Beck seized on the supposed coincidence, which he chalked up to "divine providence." To Beck, the 8-28 rally is more than just a gathering of like-minded conservatives calling for a restoration of "honor." Instead, he views the 8-28 rally on a much grander scale. In his words, it will be a "historic" day that will mark a "turning point in America" that your "children will remember."

Beck's discussions of the rally's supposedly crucial role in American history have included frequent invocations of the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King Jr. in particular. According to Beck, the rally will "reclaim the civil rights movement" because "Martin Luther King's dream" has "been distorted" and "massively perverted" by progressives. In attacking the people he claims are "perverting" King's legacy (i.e. progressives), Beck has suggested that he and his followers are the "inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement." In Beck's words, they will "take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place."

Beck is completely rewriting history.
King forcefully advocated for drastic action by the federal government to combat poverty; supported "social justice"; called for an "economic bill of rights" that would "guarantee a job to all people who want to work"; and stated that we must address whether we need to "restructure the whole of American society" -- all ideas that Beck has vilified.

Beck accuses progressives of trying to rewrite history and implores his followers to read original sources, but a review of King's own words clearly shows that Beck's insistence that he and his followers are the custodians of King's dream and legacy is nothing more than a lie.

Beck vs. MLK on the role of government in fighting poverty


Beck has tried to rewrite King's economic views. Recently, he attacked Al Sharpton for "telling people that Martin Luther King's dream was really about redistribution of wealth." Beck added: "I don't remember that. Really?"

Beck may not "remember that," but King advocated for better "distribution of wealth" and "radical redistribution of economic power." Beck constantly rails against "big government," but King repeatedly and explicitly endorsed an expanded role for the federal government in fighting poverty in our country.

Beck"Big government never lifts anybody out of poverty. It creates slaves, people who are dependent on the scraps from the government, the handouts." In one of his regular attacks on government programs aimed at helping the poor, Beck said that groups like Media Matters "dream of quotes" about how politicians (and Beck, by extension) want to make the poor "uncomfortable." Beck quoted Benjamin Franklin saying "the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty but leading or driving them out of it" and added that this sentiment is "true." He then ridiculed the idea that "generosity is expanding government" and mocked people who think that "true charity comes from extending welfare, raising the minimum wage, giving away free internet. Here's some concert tickets." According to Beck, "big government never lifts anybody out of poverty. It creates slaves -- people who are dependent on the scraps from the government, the handouts":
BECK: Imagine for a moment what would happen to a politician, especially a conservative, if he said this about the poor and poverty -- look at this -- "I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth, I traveled much, I observed in different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves and, of course, became poorer. And on the contrary, the less that was done for them, the more they did for themselves and they became richer."
That only makes sense. The more you do for somebody else, the less they're going to do for themselves.
Media Matter, you know, geeks dream of quotes like this from a politician. They're just like, "Oh, please say something about the poor and how you want to make them uncomfortable." But it's true. Today, all it takes to be labeled a hatemonger is proposing a smaller budget, which is still an increase, smaller than the increase from the other guy. You're a hatemonger. Yet, here is Ben Franklin advocating that doing less for the poor is better. Even if you agree, that probably sounds radical, but it wasn't.
We're bombarded with the messages that generosity is expanding government. That's where true charity comes from, extending welfare, raising the minimum wage, giving away free Internet. Here are some concert tickets. I mean, what else do we have to give people? But Franklin's ideas were not -- at least most of them -- were not radical. They were common sense. Some of them, some of them were radical. I mean, the cure for us today is to have just a little bit of the common sense and what would seem radical.
No politician would say something like make the poor uncomfortable. But he's right. Big government never lifts anybody out of poverty. It creates slaves -- people who are dependent on the scraps from the government, the handouts.
Uncle Sam can't lift you out of poverty. That's up to you to do. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, Uncle Sam is wearing striped pants for a reason. The guy should be in prison.

Beck: President Obama is "addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery." Glenn Beck has frequently claimed that progressive policies create "slavery," which he described as "slavery to government, welfare, affirmative action, regulation, control," and that recipients of federal aid have been "taught to be slaves." In a typical outburst on the February 11, 2009, edition of his Fox News program, Beck claimed that the story of a homeless woman who had asked Obama for help finding a home was evidence that Obama "is addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery."

King: "We will place the problems of the poor at the seat of government of the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind."  In contrast to Beck, King was quoted in an article published shortly after his assassination in 1968 as saying that it was the government's responsibility to "acknowledge its debt to the poor," or else it will have "failed to live up to its promise to insure 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to its citizens.'" He called for an "economic bill of rights" that would "guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work":
We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people, and poor people generally, are confronting. There is a literal depression in the Negro community. When you have mass unemployment in the Negro community, it's called a social problem; when you have mass unemployment in the white community, it's called a depression. The fact is, there is major depression in the Negro community. The unemployment rate is extremely high, and among negro youth, it goes up as high as forty percent in some cities.
We need an economic bill of rights. This would guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work. It would also guarantee an income for all who are not able to work. Some people are too young, some are too old, some are physically disabled, and yet in order to live, they need income. It would mean creating certain public-service jobs, but that could be done in a few weeks. A program that would really deal with jobs could minimize -- I don't say stop -- the number of riots that could take place this summer.
[...]
We need to put pressure on Congress to get things done. We will do this with First Amendment activity. If Congress is unresponsive, we'll have to escalate in order to keep the issue alive and before it. This action may take on disruptive dimensions, but not violent in the sense of destroying life or property: it will be militant nonviolence.
[...]
In any event, we will not have been the ones who will have failed. We will place the problems of the poor at the seat of government of the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind. If that power refuses to acknowledge its debt to the poor, it would have failed to live up to its promise to insure "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to its citizens."
[A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., Pages 67-69]
While King called for an "economic bill of rights" that would "guarantee a job to all people who want work and are able to work," Beck has labeled Cass Sunstein the "most dangerous man in America" in part because Sunstein supposedly called for a "second Bill of Rights" that includes a guarantee of jobs. Attacking FDR over the idea of a "second Bill of Rights" last July, Beck called the idea that you have a "right" to a job "Marxism."

Beck vs. MLK on the redistribution of wealth


Beck: "It's economic justice, which is socialism, which is forced redistribution of wealth, which is Marxism." During one of his frequent assaults on social justice (which is covered in detail below), Beck linked Rev. Jim Wallis to a "Marxist Dorothy Day" plot to pervert the gospel and "rot us from the inside." In the rant, Beck described "economic justice" as "socialism, which is forced redistribution of wealth, which is Marxism."

King: "Some will be called reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome." King predicted that critics like Glenn Beck would vilify those who believe in "economic justice" by invoking communism. In a 1961 speech to the AFL-CIO, King dismissed the idea that his adherence to "economic justice" somehow made him a Communist, saying: "Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be dismissed as dangerous rabble-rousers and agitators. Some will be called reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome." [A Testament of Hope, Page 207]

Beck mocked the idea that "evil rich people" don't "pay their fair share" in taxes, rips the "protected poor." Beck has also lashed out at the "protected poor" who are taking tax money from the rich. Using a series of pies as props, Beck tried to show "who isn't paying their fair share" and mocked the idea that the "evil rich people" don't pay enough in taxes:
BECK: Here's the pie. This represents all of the money that we have in the federal government, all the taxes that are paid. Well, let's see who isn't paying their fair share. You decide. Is it the top 1 percent? This is the entire budget, all of our revenue, all of our revenue. How much do the top 1 percent pay? Only -- only about this much. That's it. Only -- if I can just get underneath here -- and it's going to be yummy. Only about this much. That's the top 1 percent. Oh, I hate those evil rich people. When will they pay their fair share? This again is one. One percent. OK?
Now, how about the top 2 percent to the top 10 percent? OK? So, this would include the 1 percent here and the rest of them in the top 10 percent. That would be -- let's see -- that would be about here. We have from 2 percent to 10 percent, they're paying -- mmm, doesn't this pie look yummy now? Who wants some? Seriously. OK, so that's -- this is the top 10 percent. So, I got to put 10 people in the pie. That's 10 people.
Now, we've got now 71 percent of the pie. The top 50 percent of pie-eaters account for -- now, this is the rest of the top 50 percent -- and that's going to be these people. Got it? We got to put 50 people to pay for that piece of pie. One, nine, 50. This represents the bottom 50 percent. They pay -- do I have any more? Yeah. They pay the bottom 3 percent. OK? So, don't you hate this one guy? Oh, my gosh, he's just not paying enough. Got it? He's paying 40 percent.
Now, the top -- the bottom 3 percent I have to -- I have to let you know, the bottom 50 percent, that 3 percent, they pay -- the bottom 50 percent pays only 3 percent of everything that we spend. The rest of it is put in a protected poor pie place. They got their own pie, never even touched. In fact, from time to time -- it's so great -- from time to time, we just whip people up in such a frenzy -- we're like, "I hate those people. Give them some pie!" Every year, we just give them some of the more -- yeah, we just give it -- because we hate the top 1 percent. We just take more of their pie, and we put it in the protected zone now.
Nobody, nobody could get in the protected zone. No. Don't take the poor pie. It's these people that we hate. These people are good. Got it? Now, that's our income. This is all we've got left. Don't even think about taking this. This is what we have to spend.

King's "American Dream": "[P]roperty widely distributed" and "a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few." On the other side of the spectrum, in his 1961 address to the AFL-CIO, King discussed how the "American dream" hasn't yet been fulfilled because it requires "equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed." King specifically decried the idea of taking "necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few."
This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality -- that is the dream.
[A Testament of Hope, Page 206]

Beck vs. MLK on a "guaranteed annual income"


Beck: "They're collapsing the system and replace it with a system of guaranteed annual income for all the workers! Workers of the world unite!" During one of his regular segments fearmongering about the so-called Cloward and Piven strategy -- which calls for an overloading of government-provided services to force the government into a providing an income for every citizen --  Beck told his viewers to Google the names "Cloward and Piven" because the Obama administration is "collapsing the system and replace it with a system of guaranteed annual income for all the workers! Workers of the world unite!" [transcript for the November 3, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck, from the Nexis database]:
BECK: Here's two other names that they won't ever say. Put them on the bottom of the screen, please. Two names they will never say: Cloward and Piven. If you are watching with a DVR and you don't know what Cloward and Piven is, I want you to pause this show right now and go google it! Google it! Pause, please! Look it up.
This is important, because Cloward and Piven, the Cloward and Piven strategy, it's what they're doing. They're collapsing the system and replace it with a system of guaranteed annual income for all the workers! Workers of the world unite!
They need to do it this way. They need it do it in the cover of darkness. They need you to not to listen to me -- because if you start to listen to me, you're never going to willingly give up your freedom. You're going to be nudged into it, and if they can't nudge you into it, well then they'll push you into it.

King: "We must develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed national income." While Beck invokes the idea of a "guaranteed national income" to scare his viewers, King called on the U.S. to "develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed national income" to counter the "dislocations in the market operations of our economy." In his final speech as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King dismissed the idea that such a program would be "destructive of initiative and responsibility":
We must develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed annual income. Now, early in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation, as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual's ability and talents. And, in the thinking of that day, the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber. We've come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that the dislocations in the market operations of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. Today the poor are less often dismissed, I hope, from our consciences by being branded as inferior or incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands, it does not eliminate all poverty.
The problem indicates that our emphasis must be twofold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available.
[A Testament of Hope, Page 247]
King's compassion for the poor, who he hoped were "less often dismissed, I hope, from our consciences by being branded as inferior or incompetent," is a far cry from Beck's regular mockery and ridicule of those who are less fortunate than he is. During the debate over health care reform -- which Beck characterized as "good old socialism ... raping the pocketbooks of the rich to give to the poor" -- Beck and his crew repeatedly mocked the uninsured. In May, Beck played a clip of a protestor whose home was foreclosed on and yelled, "Get a job!"

Beck vs. MLK on the "fundamental transformation" of our country


Glenn Beck has repeatedly attacked President Obama for saying shortly before the 2008 election that "we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." In January of this year, Beck compared Obama's call to "fundamentally transform" America to Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin transforming the Soviet Union into an oligarchy. Beck also invoked the idea before the passage of health care reform, claiming that if the bill passed, the "pieces that the president needs to control every aspect of your life, to fundamentally transform America, will be finished." Though Beck fearmongers about Obama discussing a "fundamental transformation" of the country, King called for people to ask questions about "restructuring the whole of American society."

Beck fearmongered about a "fundamental transformation" based on "social and environmental and economic justice." On the May 5 edition of his Fox News program, Beck mocked the idea that we have a "broken system" and claimed that progressives will "tell us if the market has failed us, that consumerism was the problem, that it all led to greed and carelessness for the planet and everything has got to change" (from Nexis):
BECK: Somebody has got to be there to pick up all the pieces of the broken system and show us a better way to live. They will tell us if the free market has failed us, that consumerism was the problem, that it all led to greed and carelessness for the planet and everything has got to change. We have to have a fundamental transformation to move forward again.
And this time we will build a caring, loving, tolerant society based on social and environmental justice and economic justice. And all the animals will start to talk like they do in every Disney movie. It will be great.
But who are the people telling us that things are unsustainable? That's weird. All the people who helped create the problem. And this will affect us how again? Oh, yes. Yes, that's right. Because of mutually assured economic destruction, we're all connected, tied together.
King: "[T]he movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society." In his last address as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King discussed the direction the civil rights movement should "go from here":
I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about "Where do we go from here," that we honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society.
There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, "Who owns the oil?" You begin to ask the question, "Who owns the iron ore?" You begin to ask to the question, "Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?" These are questions that must be asked.
Now, don't think you have me in a "bind" today. I'm not talking about communism.
What I'm saying to you this morning is that communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truth of both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.
[A Testament of Hope, Page 250]

Beck declared that Obama "really is a Marxist" because he "believes in the redistribution of wealth." On the August 4, 2008, edition of his CNN Headline News show, Beck said: "The thing that I do find about Barack Obama is that -- and I think America is starting to catch on to this -- this guy really is a Marxist. He believes in the redistribution of wealth. He believes in the global government and everything else."

King: "[W]e are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars -- and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power." In his book Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws That Changed America, author Nick Kotz writes that during a 1968 trip to Mississippi, King stated: "It didn't cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters," and, "It didn't cost the nation one penny to guarantee the right to vote." King concluded that "now, we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars -- and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power."

Beck vs. MLK on social justice


Part and parcel of his ongoing fight against the idea of redistribution of wealth are Beck's many attacks on the concept of "social justice" and his demonization (literally) of churches, religious figures, and progressives that support the idea.
Among many other examples:
  • Beck advised listeners that when they see the words "social justice," they should "run, and don't listen to anyone who is telling you differently."
  • Beck told people to question church leaders who are "basing their religion on social justice."
  • Beck said progressives are trying to "hijack churches" with "social justice" and "economic justice."
  • Beck has also smeared supporters of social justice by saying that both Nazis and communists supported "social justice" and "talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly -- I love this -- democracy."
But Beck's attacks on social justice place him at odds with King, who dedicated his life to the cause of social justice.

Beck: "[C]ivil rights marchers" weren't "crying for social justice" In May, Beck attacked Democratic members of Congress for purportedly conflating health care reform with civil rights. Describing the "civil rights marchers," Beck said they "were people with profound belief in God. They were trying to set things right. They weren't crying for social justice, they were crying out for equal justice":
BECK: These people want to try to paint themselves as civil rights movement. You know, they're just a civil rights guy. "No, we're not revolutionaries, what? No, we're civil rights marchers."
Who were the civil rights marchers? They were people with profound belief in God. They were trying to set things right. They weren't crying for social justice, they were crying out for equal justice.
But these people, these mobs -- they're trying to recreate the civil rights thing all over again -- health care, banking reform, housing, the presidency, everything. Watch. Watch this.
[begin video clips] 
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH): I believe health care is a civil right.
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (D-RI): The parallels between the struggle for civil rights and the fight to make quality affordable health care accessible to all Americans are significant.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): This is a Civil Rights Act for the 21st century.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is a civil rights act.
King: "[W]e will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice." King gave a speech in 1963 at Western Michigan University expressly on the topic of "social justice." During the speech, King identified "the age of social justice" as a "goal" and "the ideal":
There is another thing about this attitude. We'll help those of us who have been the victims of oppression, and those of us who have been the victims of injustices in the old order, to go into the new order with the proper attitude, an attitude of reconciliation. It will help us to go in not with an idea of rising from position of disadvantage, to one of advantage, thus subverting justice. It will not cause us to substitute one tyranny for another. This is why I have said all over this nation that we must never substitute a doctrine of black supremacy for white supremacy. For the doctrine of black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers.
I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice.
King discussed the "pursuit of social justice" In an interview that appeared in the January 1965 edition of Playboy magazine, King lamented the "socioeconomic vise" that led to riots. King specifically pointed to "social justice" and the "pursuit of social justice" as one of his goals:
PLAYBOY: Whom do you mean by "the establishment"?
MARTIN LUTHER KING: I mean the white leadership -- which I hold as responsible as anyone for the riots, for not removing the conditions that cause them. The deep frustration, the seething desperation of the Negro today is a product of slum housing, chronic poverty, woefully inadequate education and substandard schools. The Negro is trapped in a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign, caught in a vicious socioeconomic vise. And he is ostracized as is no other minority group in America by the evil of oppressive and constricting prejudice based solely upon his color. A righteous man has no alternative but to resist such an evil system. If he does not have the courage to resist nonviolently, then he runs the risk of a violent emotional explosion. As much as I deplore violence, there is one evil that is worse than violence, and that's cowardice. It is still my basic article of faith that social justice can be achieved and democracy advanced only to the degree that there is firm adherence to nonviolent action and resistance in the pursuit of social justice.
Beck: "They have infiltrated our churches" and "confused the gospel with government-run programs." Criticizing cap-and-trade legislation in June, Beck again attacked people who advocate "social justice," saying that they "have infiltrated our churches" and "confused the gospel with government run-programs."

King: "If America does not use her vast resources to end poverty ... she too will go to hell." King regularly painted the war against poverty -- which, again, he advocated fighting with large federal programs -- in a religious light. For example, in an address at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple in Memphis delivered weeks before his assassination, King recounted the biblical story of Dives and Lazarus, and interpreted the story as telling people that "Dives went to hell because he wanted to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty." He continued:
And I come by here to say that America too is going to hell, if we don't use her wealth... If America does not use her vast resources to end poverty .. make it possible for all of God's children to have the basis.. basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.
King: Communism "should challenge every Christian -- as it challenged me -- to a growing concern about social justice." While King was firmly opposed to communism -- considering it to be "basically evil" -- he credited it with leading him to "a growing concern about social justice." In an essay published in the September 1958 edition of Fellowship magazine, King discussed how Marxismchallenged the "social conscience of the Christian churches" and noted that the "Christian ought always to be challenged by any protest against unfair treatment of the poor." Once again, King approvingly cited the role that "social reforms" had played in reducing the gap between "superfluous wealth and abject poverty" and once again explicitly advocated for "better distribution of wealth":
Yet, in spite of the fact that my response to communism was and is negative, and I considered it basically evil, there were points at which I found it challenging. The late Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, referred to communism as a Christian heresy. By this he meant that communism had laid hold of certain truths which are essential parts of the Christian view of things, but that it had bound up with them concepts and practices which no Christian could ever accept or profess. Communism challenged the late Archbishop and it should challenge every Christian -- as it challenged me -- to a growing concern about social justice. With all of its false assumptions and evil methods, communism grew as a protest against the hardships of the underprivileged. Communism in theory emphasized a classless society, and a concern for social justice, though the world knows from sad experience that in practice it created new classes and a new lexicon of injustice. The Christian ought always to be challenged by any protest against unfair treatment of the poor, for Christianity is itself such a protest, nowhere expressed more eloquently than in Jesus' words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
[...]
But in spite of the shortcomings of his analysis, Marx had raised some basic questions. I was deeply concerned from my early teen days about the gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, and my reading of Marx made me ever more conscious of this gulf. Although modern American capitalism had greatly reduced the gap through social reforms, there was still need for a better distribution of wealth. Moreover, Marx had revealed the danger of the profit motive as the sole basis of an economic system: capitalism is always in danger of inspiring men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life. We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity -- thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.
In short, I read Marx as I read all of the influential historical thinkers -- from a dialectical point of view, combining a partial "yes" and a partial "no." In so far as Marx posited a metaphysical materialism, an ethical relativism, and a strangulating totalitarianism, I responded with an unambiguous "no"; but in so far as he pointed to weaknesses of traditional capitalism, contributed to the growth of a definite self-consciousness in the masses, and challenged the social conscience of the Christian churches, I responded with a definite "yes."
My reading of Marx also convinced me that truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism. Each represents a partial truth. Historically capitalism failed to see the truth in collective enterprise, and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise. Nineteenth century capitalism failed to see that life is social and Marxism failed and still fails to see that life is individual and personal. The Kingdom of God is neither the thesis of individual enterprise nor the antithesis of collective enterprise, but a synthesis which reconciles the truths of both.

Sean

Friday, August 27, 2010

Republicans Use Fear to Control (Former Leader of Republicans Admits It!); Glenn Beck is INSANE (video); Police Abuse; Right Wing Hate Spreading; BP Oil Spill Still REALLY Bad; Climate Change; War

- Insane Racist Liar Glenn Beck Has a Scheme Clip from The Daily Show. Glenn Beck uses fear and racism on anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

- Facing Prison for Filming US Police The video, filmed with a camera mounted on Graber's motorcycle helmet designed to record biking stunts rather than police abuse, shows a plain clothes officer jumping out of an unmarked car and pointing a pistol at the motorcyclist.

It does not portray the policeman in a positive light. After he posted the video on Youtube, police raided Graber's home, seized computers and put him in jail.

- Anti-Latino Hate Crime is Spreading, Says Report On the heels of a horrific anti-Muslim attack in New York City on Tuesday night, there’s new disturbing evidence that hate crimes are on the rise across the country for Latinos.

- BP Oil Spill: Scientists Find Giant Plume of Droplets 'Missed' by Official Account Scientists have mapped a 22-mile plume of oil droplets from BP's rogue well in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, providing the strongest evidence yet of the fate of the crude that spewed into the sea for months.

The report offers the most authoritative challenge to date to White House assertions that most of the 5m barrels of oil that spewed into the Gulf is gone.

- Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose war in Afghanistan A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

- Was Rosy Gulf Oil Report A White House PR Move? Two congressmen on Thursday questioned why the Obama administration made a major announcement about what happened to the oil in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month without the science to back it up...Since the oil budget went public, several independent scientists have called for the release of its supporting data. Others have reached their own, conflicting conclusions.
One group organized by the Georgia Sea Grant this week calculated that 70 to 79 percent of the oil remains underwater, and concluded that "the media interpretation of the report's findings has been largely inaccurate and misleading."

Scientists from the University of South Florida have found oil deep on the Gulf seafloor that they say may be more toxic to marine microorganisms than previously believed.
And in a major, peer-reviewed article in Science magazine, scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Thursday described their discovery in June of a plume of hydrocarbons that is at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. That's about the size of Manhattan.

Furthermore, the scientists found that contrary to the NOAA report, the oil was not "biodegrading quickly"-- at least not at that depth.

- Rising Temperatures Reducing Ability of Plants to Absorb Carbon, Study Warns Rising temperatures in the past decade have reduced the ability of the world's plants to soak up carbon from the atmosphere, scientists said today.




How the Republican Party Uses Hate and Fear to Control Elections- Former Leader of Republican Party Admits it!
From the Keith Olberman Show



Sean

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For You Conservatives and Libertarians: The Fake Republican 'Controversy" over the Ground Zero Mosque

Republicans/conservatives have been ramping up their lies, racism, and paranoia as the mid-term elections draw near in a couple of months to try and get their base Republican, Tea Party and Libertarian voters upset enough to show up at the polls and vote. The reason? They hope to unseat the Democratic majority in the House and Senate so they can give more tax breaks to the ultra-rich, wage more war, deregulate things even more so corporations can pollute, destroy the economy and treat their workers unfairly, etc. Yeah, that actually is their agenda if you look at their policy.

The controversy over the mosque is fake, it's manufactured by conservative politicians to scare you, to make you vote against your own best interests, as usual. It is designed to simply scare you enough to get you to the polls on election day where you will support the Tea Party, Libertarian or Republican candidates, who will do corporate America's bidding; resulting in higher prices, more war, more pollution, more global warming, more oil drilling, no more net neutrality, no regulation on industry that needs it, more lost jobs, an unstable and unhealthy economy, etc.

It's what the conservatives do in every election with gay marriage amendments, school prayer, and abortion, for example. They have no actual policy (aside from protecting the ultra-rich and corporations while destroying the middle class and poor) so they hide behind wedge issues to make the ignorant, the bigoted, the fundamentalists, and the fearful support their candidates. They are liars and con-men.

And you Libertarians, you are DELUSIONAL if you think you are not supporting this activity; Libertarians like Ron Paul and his son Rand are total corporate whores (who don't even believe in evolution, by the way)! Their voting record is clear and the results of their policy stances are proven destructive to your life, your rights, your environment, your wallet, and your country. This insanity must END. People need to stop supporting these crazy greedy ignorant conservatives and Libertarians who are actually out to fleece you and fool you into believing "government is evil". YOU are the government, government is not evil at all.

Government has been abused and manipulated by corporate interests with the help of corrupt elected officials. So control your government and start electing people who are NOT nuts, liars or con-men! Stop allowing yourself to be used and lied to. Stop supporting conservative candidates. Their only goal is to enrich the already rich... at any cost.

There are existing mosques all over NYC, including some just blocks away from the WTC site, there is even one inside the Pentagon (which was attacked on 9/11), and they are all over the USA. Also, the First Amendment to the US Constitution assures freedom of religion, but the Republicans and Libertarians and Tea Partiers, who claim to LOVE the constitution, have been trying to repeal portions of it (all due to their racism and desire to inspire fear in their voting base)!

Where was the "outrage" and calls to ban Christian churches after the 1996 bombing at the Olympic games by Christian conservative Eric Rudolph? Or after the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma by Christian fascists, where many died? Where was the outrage when, in 1990, I could have been killed by a bomb that would have leveled two city blocks when my old work place (a large office building in west Los Angeles) was attacked by Dean Harvey Hicks, a similar right wing fanatic, simply because an IRS office was in the same building? (I did not work for the IRS, I worked for a company that raised money for progressive causes, and luckily his bomb malfunctioned and was rendered harmless in time).

As Keith Olbermann illustrates below, the majority of terrorism involving Muslims in the USA are cases where it's the Muslims who are attacked.

We are not at war with Islam. This was a goal of Osama bin Laden, to try and start a religious war between Christians and Muslims, and the conservatives (the Republicans, Tea Partiers and Libertarians - all of whom are against this mosque) are playing right into bin Laden's hands. It's no secret that right-wing policy created the Taliban and created al Qaeda in their war against the Soviets years ago (we actually funded them). It's no secret that the 9/11 attacks were a response to conservative policy, mixed with fundamentalist insanity, and it's no secret that our continued presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and expanding wars into other Muslim nations is only triggering more anti-American sentiment (because we keep killing large numbers of civilians), thus more war. All of these facts are ADMITTED to by our government, so you disbelievers- don't bother trying to deny it.

Now the conservatives are making matters worse by making a big fake controversy over a Muslim community center, basketball court, and culinary school, giving the Muslim world the impression that, indeed, we are at war with Islam. Nice going you nut bags. The next time someone blows up a building or plane in the USA we'll know who to blame.

Watch these segments from the Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow shows.

Sean

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Suicide Rates Higher under Conservative Rule; Plastic Bags (funny video); Climate Change & Australia; Republicans/Libertarians Bash Unions-The Result, Lower Wages, Lost Jobs; Oil Spill Really Bad

- Australia On the Frontline of Climate Change Irrigated by one of the world's mightiest river systems, the Murray-Darling Basin yields nearly half of Australia's fresh produce. But the basin is ailing, and scientists fear that as climate change grips the driest inhabited continent, its main foodbowl could become a global warming ground zero.

- Some US Troops Out of Iraq, More Mercenaries to Go In The US State Department is to more than double the number of security contractors it employs in Iraq to around 7000, filling a gap left by departing troops, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

- Kucinich Urges Colleagues to End 'Longest War in US History' According to the article, General Petraeus and U.S. military officials are "building the case to minimize the planned withdrawal of some troops from Afghanistan starting next summer." General Petraeus and senior administration officials are arguing that while we've been in Afghanistan for nine years now, we have only just started "doing this right." A quick look at statistics this year reveals that not much has been going right since we increased our military presence in Afghanistan.

Since January of this year, approximately $104 billion has been appropriated for the war in Afghanistan and over 270 U.S. soldiers have died. The so-called cornerstone of our counterinsurgency strategy is the protection of Afghan civilians. Yet a new mid-year report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan by the United Nations reveals that civilian casualties have risen 31% since this same time last year.

- Scientists Dispute Government Stance on the Lingering Effects of Gulf Oil As we've noted, scientists seemed, on the whole, rather skeptical when a government report said most of the oil from BP's well was gone from the Gulf of Mexico. [1] Now the pushback against the government's stance has grown, with several scientific reports released this week.... "The news media's tendency to interpret ‘dispersed' and ‘dissolved' as ‘gone' is wrong," the report read. "Dispersed and dissolved forms can be highly toxic."

- Conservative Book Burning in Florida Officials of Gainesville, Fla. have denied  a bonfire permit to the hilariously named Dove World Outreach Center, which has planned an "International Burn A Quran Day" to mark the anniversary of 9/11 and "stand against the evil of Islam." The Church, which doesn't like gay people either, says "We WILL STILL BURN KORANS," because nothing reveals the loving word of God like a little book burning. Here's ten reasons why. Here's their weird Facebook page.

- Would You Like A Suicide Net With That iPhone? The Taiwanese company that makes hardware for Apple and other electronic giants is holding rallies at its factories in the wake of multiple suicides by workers reportedly done in by low pay and brutal working conditions [if they had Unions, this wouldn't happen]. Foxconn Technology Group, which admits it's been "blinded by our success," also offered pay raises - but left  earlier-installed suicide nets in place, just in case. Apple says it's not a sweatshop.

- Labor’s Popularity Declines Amid Conservative Criticism Of Public-Sector Unions With increasing attacks on public sector unions, it’s not surprising that labor has become unpopular in the court of public opinion. A new Gallup survey reveals that approval ratings for labor unions continues to struggle one year after their popularity reached a historic low.

- Obama's Pledge to Close Down Guantanamo is 'Not Even Close' Barack Obama's pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay will not be honoured until at least a year after the President's self-imposed deadline - and may not be completed in his first administration.

- The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary




More Suicides Under Conservative Rule
Published wednesday, 18 September, 2002 by the BBC
Margaret Thatcher
The suicide rate increased under Margaret Thatcher
The suicide rate increases under Conservative governments, research suggests.
Australian scientists found the suicide rate in the country increased significantly when a Conservative government was in power.

And an analysis of figures in the UK seems to suggest a similar trend.

The Australian team analysed suicide statistics for New South Wales between 1901, when the federal government was established, and 1998.


Click here to see suicide rates under British prime ministers 
They then looked at the political regimes dominating both state and federal governments in New South Wales, which have consistently been under either Labour or Conservative control.

The researchers took into account periods of drought and World War II, because of their economic and psychological impact.

Suicide rates were higher during periods of drought and lower during WWII.

But after adjusting for these factors, the figures clearly showed the highest rates of suicide occurred when both Conservative state and federal governments were in power.

Men at risk

Conversely, the lowest rates occurred when state and federal governments were both Labour.
Middle aged and older people were most at risk.

When the Conservatives ruled both state and federal governments, men were 17% more likely to commit suicide than when Labour was in power. Women were 40% more likely to kill themselves.
Suicide rates were higher under post-war than pre-war Conservative governments.


John Major
The rate dipped under moderate John Major
The authors argue that Conservative rule traditionally implies a less interventionist and more market-orientated policy than Labour rule.

This may make people feel more detached from society, they added.

The researchers concede that ideological distinctions between Conservative and Labour politicians have become more blurred over the past 20 years.

But they say public perceptions that their policies differ may still remain intact.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Taylor, of the University of Sydney, told BBC News Online: "We think that it may be because material conditions in lower socio-economic groups may be relatively better under labour because of government programmes, and there may be a perception of greater hope by these groups under labour.

"There is a strong relationship between socio-economic status and suicide."
The research is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

British situation
 
In one of a series of accompanying editorials, Dr Mary Shaw and colleagues from the University of Bristol say the same patterns were evident in England and Wales between 1901 and 2000.
Rates have been lower under Labour governments and soared under the last Conservative regime, which began in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher.

They fell under 'the more moderate' John Major and after a slight rise when Tony Blair came to power, have since fallen again.

Interestingly, the authors point out that although suicide rates tend to increase when unemployment is high, they were also above average during the 1950s when Britain "never had it so good," but was ruled by the Conservative party.

Overall, they say, the figures suggest that 35,000 people would not have died had the Conservatives not been in power, equivalent to one suicide for every day of the 20th century or two for every day that the Conservatives ruled.

The UK Conservative Party refused to comment on the research.


Suicide rates per million 1901-1998 England and Wales by prime minister

Period Suicide rate Main prime minister in power
1901-1905 101 Balfour (Conservative)
1906-1910 102 Campbell-Bannerman (Liberal)
1911-1915 96 Asquith (Liberal)
1916-1920 85 Lloyd-George (Liberal)
1921-1925 101 Baldwin (Conservative)
1926-1930 123 Baldwin (Conservative)
1931-1935 135 MacDonald (National coalition)
1936-1940 124 Chamberlain (Conservative)
1941-1945 92 Churchill (Conservative)
1946-1950 106 Atlee (Labour)
1951-1955 107 Churchill (Conservative)
1956-1960 116 Eden (Conservative)
1961-1965 137 Macmillan (Conservative)
1966-1970 118 Wilson (Labour)
1971-1975 101 Heath (Conservative)
1976-1980 112 Callaghan (Labour)
1981-1985 121 Thatcher (Conservative)
1986-1990 118 Thatcher (Conservative)
1991-1995 110 Major (Conservative)
1996-1998 103 Blair (Labour)

Sean

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mankind Is Using Up Global Resources Faster; Fake Ground Zero Mosque Controversy; Oil Spill Worse than Reported; Fox News Donates Millions to Republican Politicians; Pakistan Floods

- How the "ground zero mosque" fear mongering began A viciously anti-Muslim blogger [who is insane, by the way], the right-wing New York Post and the right-wing media machine: How it all went down (with video)

- Many Americans Are Still Clueless on How to Save Energy Many Americans believe they can save energy with small behavior changes that actually achieve very little, and severely underestimate the major effects of switching to efficient, currently available technologies, says a new survey of Americans in 34 states.

- Government Report on Gulf Oil Spill Inaccurate, Scientists Say at Least 79% of Oil Still in the Sea Researchers from the University of Georgia called a recent government report "inaccurate" on Monday for claiming that three-quarters of the oil leaked from BP’s blown-out underwater well had either been collected, evaporated or burned off. Instead, the scientists say nearly 79% of the oil still remains in the Gulf of Mexico in some form.

- Fox "News" Gives $1 Million to Republican Governor's Association News Corp., which owns Fox News and the New York Post, gave [an unprecedented] $1 million to the Republican Governors Association this year, according to the RGA's most recent filing.

- Pakistan Floods: 3.5 Million Children at Risk from Deadly Diseases, says UN The UN said Monday that 3.5 million children in Pakistan are at risk from deadly waterborne diseases, as fresh protests erupted over the slow delivery of aid in the flood-ravaged country.

- Old-Style Coal Plants Expanding Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.

Mankind Is Using Up Global Resources Faster Than Ever
The growing world population and increasing consumption has pushed the world into ‘eco-debt’ a month earlier this year, according to the latest statistics on global resources.
by Louise Gray
Published on Monday, August 16, 2010 by the Telegraph/UK

Think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF) look at how much food, fuel and other resources are consumed by humans every year. They then compare it to how much the world can provide without threatening the ability of important ecosystems like oceans and rainforests to recover.

[]
This year the moment we start eating into nature's capital or ‘Earth Overshoot Day' will fall on 21st August, a full month earlier than last year, when resources were used up by 23rd September.

Andrew Simms, Policy Director at NEF, blamed increased consumption.

He said people in developing countries like China are consuming more meat and demanding cars and other energy-intensive goods. Even with green developments and energy efficiency, rich countries are also consuming more as individuals demand the latest technology, food fad or car.

He explained that the earlier humans use up Earth's resources, the more strain is put on resources, forcing up fuel prices and driving climate change. Ultimately ecosystems like fisheries and even the Earth's climate system will suffer and future generations will experience food shortages and rising global temperatures.

Mr Simms called for a transition to a more sustainable way of living to prevent poverty and starvation in the future.

"The banking crisis taught us the danger of a system that goads us to live beyond our means financially," he said. "A greater danger comes from a consumer culture and economic policy that pushes us to live beyond our means ecologically."

Sean

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Global Climate Change Worsening; Pakistan Floods; BP is Evil; Net Neutrality; Nagasaki; Mormons; More Afghan Civilians Dead

- Ignoring the Obvious: The Floods and Fires, the Droughts and Disasters Will Continue Yet despite the evidence of floods and flames, of drought and danger, there is no concerted international action towards reaching an agreement on the best way to fight climate change.

- Greenland Ice Sheet Faces 'Tipping Point in 10 Years' Scientists warn that temperature rise of between 2C and 7C would cause ice to completely melt, resulting in 23ft rise in sea level...

- News at 11: How Climate Change Affects You  Our daily weather reports, cheerfully presented with flashy graphics and state-of-the-art animation, appear to relay more and more information. And yet, no matter how glitzy the presentation, a key fact is invariably omitted. Imagine if, after flashing the words "extreme weather" to grab our attention, the reports flashed "global warming." Then we would know not only to wear lighter clothes or carry an umbrella, but that we have to do something about climate change.

"We will start seeing more and more years like this year when you get these amazing events that caused tremendous death and destruction," Masters said. "As this extreme weather continues to increase in the coming decades and the population increases, the ability of the international community to respond and provide aid to victims will be stretched to the limit."

- UN Appeals for Pakistan Aid as Flood Threat Continues The deluge has left a trail of devastation, destroying roads, bridges and other infrastructure and overwhelming the government's ability to cope. It's affected some 14 million people, of whom an estimated 1,600 have been killed and about 2 million left homeless.

- Obama's Pakistan Katrina? Helicopters for War, But Not Flood Relief "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Rahm Emanuel said, correctly, in November 2008, referring to the economic crisis, and that fact that it created political opportunities to advance long-needed reforms.

But if the White House does not prominently, quickly and decisively bring all assets to bear in response to the flood crisis in Pakistan, it will be letting a serious crisis go to waste. It will be passing up an opportunity to show the Muslim world that the United States cares more about saving Muslim lives than taking them away. It will be passing up a unique opportunity to reframe and de-escalate the conflict in Afghanistan. [NOTE FROM SEAN: this article is quite cynical, I think the primary concern should be saving people's lives. But, yeah, providing aid to a largely Muslim nation is obviously another factor that could help the USA's reputation when we have, without reason, killed so many innocent Muslims around the world, either directly or indirectly].

- Claims of Afghan Civilian Deaths Spark Protest A crowd of about 300 villagers yelled "Death to the United States" and blocked a main road in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday as they swore that U.S. forces had killed three innocent villagers, officials said.

- BP Links Compensation With Continued Oil Production In The Gulf The Huffington Post is reporting the oil giant BP appears to have structured its $20 billion compensation fund so that it will only be solvent if the company continues profiting from oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

- Is Environmental Injustice Morphing Little Girls’ Bodies? If this sounds unnatural, it's the reality for many young girls of color who experience early signs of puberty at alarming rates. The latest research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that an array of social and environmental factors may be causing girls' bodies to develop prematurely.

- End of the Internet? Google-Verizon Pact: It Gets Worse So Google and Verizon went public Monday with their "policy framework" -- better known as the pact to end the Internet as we know it.

- Press Censorship: How the Truth Was Hidden About Nagasaki 65 Years Ago   One of the great mysteries of the Nuclear Age was solved just five years ago: What was in the censored, and then lost to the ages, newspaper articles filed by the first reporter to reach Nagasaki following the atomic attack on that city on Aug. 9, 1945. 

- Hi, I'm A Mormon and I'm Totally Normal Even Though I Believe In Spirit Children, Goddess Wives, the Planet Kolob and Endless Celestial Sex With Republican Mitt Romney considering a presidential run, the Mormon Church has begun an unofficial ad campaign across the country to show Americans they're just like the rest of us. Then again, a cartoon video  on "what Mormon theology is really all about" - including racism, homophobia, Temple underwear as protection from the evils of the world, "dark-skinned Indian Israelites" and guerrilla posthumous baptizing of Jewish Holocaust victims – makes us, umm, wonder.


Russia's Agony a "Wake-Up Call" to the World
by Stephen Leahy
Published on Thursday, August 12, 2010 by Inter Press Service

VIENNA - A wind turbine on an acre of northern Iowa farmland could generate 300,000 dollars worth of greenhouse-gas-free electricity a year. Instead, the U.S. government pays out billions of dollars to subsidise grain for ethanol fuel that has little if any impact on global warming, according to Lester Brown. [NOTE FROM SEAN: Actually ethanol production has a bad impact on Climate Change since it takes more energy to produce the materials needed and requires huge amounts of land, while taking resources away from food production while there are food shortages (and as climate change worsens, food shortages will dramatically increase). There are other bio fuels that are better, more "green" or truly "green", like algea and halophytes, and those are things that should be pursued].

[Fires rage in Russia as 2010 experiences hottest summer on record. The global climate is warming and most food crops are both heat and drought sensitive. Rice yields have already fallen by 10-20 percent over the last 25 years in parts of Thailand, Vietnam, India and China due to global warming, new research has shown. (Photo: EPA)]Fires rage in Russia as 2010 experiences hottest summer on record. The global climate is warming and most food crops are both heat and drought sensitive. Rice yields have already fallen by 10-20 percent over the last 25 years in parts of Thailand, Vietnam, India and China due to global warming, new research has shown. (Photo: EPA)
"The smartest thing the U.S. could do is phase out ethanol subsidies," says Brown, the founder of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, in reference to rising food prices resulting from the unprecedented heat wave in western Russia that has decimated crops and killed at least 15,000 people.

"The lesson here is that we must take climate change far more seriously, make major cuts in emissions and fast before climate change is out of control," Brown, one of the world's leading experts on agriculture and food, told IPS.

Average temperatures during the month of July were eight degrees Celsius above normal in Moscow, he said, noting that "such a huge increase in temperature over an entire month is just unheard of."

On Monday, Moscow reached 37 C when the normal temperature for August is 21 C. It was the 28th day in a row that temperatures exceeded 30 C.

Soil moisture has fallen to levels seen only once in 500 years, says Brown. Wheat and other grain yields are expected to decline by 40 percent or more in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine - regions that provide 25 percent of the world's wheat exports. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a few days ago that Russia would ban all grain exports.

Food prices will rise but how much is not known at this point, says Brown. "What we do know, however, is that the prices of wheat, corn, and soybeans are actually somewhat higher in early August 2010 than they were in early August 2007, when the record-breaking 2007-08 run-up in grain prices began."

Emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 from burning fossil fuels trap more of the sun's energy. Climate experts expected the number and intensity of heat waves and droughts to increase as a result. In 2009, heat and fire killed hundreds in Australia during the worst drought in more than century, which devastated the country's agriculture sector. In 2003, a European heat wave killed 53,000 people but as it occurred late in the summer crop, yields were not badly affected.

If a heat wave like Russia's were centred around the grain- producing regions near Chicago or Beijing, the impacts could be many times worse because each of these regions produce five times the amount of grain as Russia does, says Brown. Such an event could result in the loss of 100 to 200 million tonnes of grain with unimaginable affects on the world's food supply.

"Russia's heat wave is a wake-up call to the world regarding the vulnerability of the global food supply," he said.

The global climate is warming and most food crops are both heat and drought sensitive. Rice yields have already fallen by 10-20 percent over the last 25 years in parts of Thailand, Vietnam, India and China due to global warming, new research has shown. Data from 227 fully-irrigated farms that grow "green revolution" crops are suffering significant yield declines due to warming temperatures at night, researchers found.

"As nights get hotter, rice yields drop," reported Jarrod Welch of the University of California at San Diego and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Aug. 9. Previous studies have shown this result in experimental plots, but this is the first under widespread, real-world conditions.

With such pressures on the world's food supply it is simply wrong-headed to use 25 percent of U.S. grain for ethanol as a fuel for cars, said Brown.

"Ethanol subsidies must be phased out and real cuts in carbon emissions made and urgently," he said.

Sean