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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Noam Chomsky: Republican Candidates Are Insane • Coral Reefs Will Die in Our Lifetime • Pro-Death Republicans • Ron Paul Tells the Sick to "Die" • Famine • and more!

- Republican Blood Lust Again
    So I was watching the Republican tea party debate on CNN, led by Wolf Blitzer, whom I usually don’t care for at all. 
    But I perked up when Blitzer asked a tough question of Ron Paul. Blitzer presented him with the following hypothetical:

    “A healthy young, 30-year-old man has a good job, makes a good living but decides, ‘You know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month on health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it.’ But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. What’s going to happen if he goes into a coma? Who pays for that?”
    Ron Paul, who is showing himself in these debates to be a heartless old fool, amazingly responded by saying, “That’s what freedom is all about. Taking your own risks.” And he belittled what he called “this whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody.”

    Blitzer, to his credit, followed up:

    “Are you saying society should just let him die?”

    Before Paul had a chance to answer (and he eventually said churches and neighbors would take care of the patient), members of the audience responded with shouts of “Yes!” and “Yeah!”

    What a scary bunch of people!

    Just as the Republican audience last time showed their bloodlust when they cheered Rick Perry’s 234 executions, here in this debate they were even more callous and creepy.
- Alan Grayson condemns Tea Party for ‘sadistic’ response to uninsured Americans video
    Angered by the “Let Him Die” chant at the Tea Party debate Monday evening, Keith and former congressman Alan Grayson discuss the appropriate response to this outrage. Grayson questions the Tea Party’s Christian ideology, saying, “They glorify and sanctify other people’s pain.”
- Nicole Lamoureux on Tea Party’s ‘Let Him Die’ controversy video
    Keith and Nicole Lamoureux, the executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, condemn the reaction from the audience at the GOP Tea Party debate to an exchange between moderator Wolf Blitzer and the radical libertarian candidate for the GOP nomination Texas Rep. Dr. Ron Paul. Blitzer asked Paul what should happen to a healthy 30-year-old without medical insurance who becomes seriously ill. Paul responded by saying, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Blitzer replied, “But congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” The Tea Party crowd chanted, “Yeah!” Lamoureux says, “It broke my heart for the uninsured, and someone needs to be the voice for those uninsured.”
- A Killer Issue
    Republicans like Rick Perry are skeptical of everything the government does—except when it executes people. 
    Either you believe in government or you don't.

    The current field of Republican contenders for president are hard at work to prove they don't. The best government, they insist, will leave you alone to repair your own ruptured kidney while your neighbors bring you casseroles and cigarettes. In recent weeks, leading Republicans have made plain they don't believe in government-run health care (lo, even unto death). They don't believe in inoculating children again HPV (lo, even unto death). They don't believe in government-run disaster relief (ditto, re death), the minimum wage, Social Security, or the Federal Reserve. There is nothing, it seems—from protecting civil rights to safeguarding the environment—that big government bureaucracies can't foul up.

    But there is one exception: killing people. These same Republicans who are dubious of government's ability to do anything right have an apparently bottomless faith in the capital-justice system. Everything is broken in America, they claim—except the machinery of death.

    At last week's Republican debate, when asked whether he had ever lost sleep about the record number of executions that have occurred on his watch, Texas Gov. Rick Perry answered no. (The crowd whooped and cheered. Better in error than in doubt and all that.)

    Perry's confidence in the infallibility of Texas' capital punishment system would be inspiring were it not for the empirical evidence. Of the 234 people executed in his 11-year tenure, Texas' "thoughtful, clear process" resulted in what was almost certainly the execution of at least one innocent man—Cameron Todd Willingham—based on "expert" arson evidence that was complete junk, an informant who recanted his testimony, and a forensic psychiatrist who diagnosed Willingham based chiefly on his possession of an Iron Maiden poster.
- The Most Anti-Environment Congress Ever?
    House Republicans have undertaken a war on environmental regulations since assuming the majority earlier this year, taking a total of 125 votes on measures that would take undermine environmental laws or take away the government's authority to set regulations. Together, the measures make this "the most anti-environment Congress in history," says Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
- Climate report links extreme weather events to global warming
    Heat waves, droughts, blizzards and the the rest of the year's U.S. record-breaking extreme weather, likely enjoyed a boost from global warming, suggests a climate report.
- The costs of climate change
    From California beachside communities to remote villages in subarctic Alaska, the impacts of climate change are becoming ever more tangible, as shown by two government studies released this week.
- Lizz Winstead on Michele Bachmann’s fear of HPV vaccinations
    “Countdown” guest host David Shuster and comedian Lizz Winstead, co-creator of “The Daily Show,” examine Michele Bachmann’s dubious claim that HPV vaccinations for young girls can cause mental retardation. At this week’s CNN/Tea Party Debate, Bachmann attacked Rick Perry for supporting HPV vaccinations, which prevent forms of cervical cancer.
- Famine Ravages Somalia in a World Less Likely to Intervene
    Is the world about to watch 750,000 Somalis starve to death? The United Nations’ warnings could not be clearer. A drought-induced famine is steadily creeping across Somalia and tens of thousands of people have already died.
- Final Deepwater disaster report paints bleak picture
    The full catalogue of failures that led to the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been laid out by a final US government report. 
    The report was released today by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) — set up to replace the discredited Minerals Management Agency wound up in the wake of the disaster (see Nature's special page for all news on Deepwater).

    Investigators from BOEMRE and the US Coast Guard lay the blame for the accident on owners of the rig Transocean, contracting company Halliburton and ‘ultimate operator’ BP.

    The panel concludes that BP, Transocean and Halliburton all violated a number of federal regulations.
- Summer of Extreme Weather Ends with a Bang
    Regardless of Hurricane Irene, severe rain and flooding, this August was the second warmest on record for the continental United States. Last month also spread the love around the globe, making it the third warmest August in 34 years.
- CLIMATE 101 by The Climate Reality Project
    Video explaining Climate Change- share it!
- Experts say Fukushima 'worse' than Chernobyl
    Experts say that the total radiation leaked will eventually exceed the amounts released from the Chernobyl disaster that the Ukraine in April 1986. This amount would make Fukushima the worst nuclear disaster in history.
- Coral reefs 'will be gone by end of the century'
    Coral reefs are on course to become the first ecosystem that human activity will eliminate entirely from the Earth, a leading United Nations scientist claims. He says this event will occur before the end of the present century, which means that there are children already born who will live to see a world without coral.
- Why There Are Protests On Wall Street: Their Actions Impoverished More Than 60 Million People
    Today, over a thousand demonstrators began protests as a part of a campaign they are calling “Occupy Wall Street.” The protesters intend to engage in long-term civil disobedience to draw attention to Wall Street’s misdeeds and call for structural economic reforms. 
    As demonstrators converged on Wall Street — with police blocking them from reaching the New York Stock Exchange — much of the news media paid little attention to the protests. Meanwhile, much of the conservative punditry has taken to mocking the demonstrations, with conservative Twitter users lambasting the “hippies” in New York City.

    While many of the conservative defenders of Wall Street may be quick to portray protests against the American financial establishment as driven by envy of its wealth or far-left ideologies, the truth is that people have a very simple reason to be angry — because Wall Street’s actions made tens of millions of people dramatically poorer through no fault of their own.
- If Everybody’s Working for the Weekend, How Come It Took This Country So Goddamn Long to Get One?
    Ta-Nehisi Coates went after liberals the other day for being too whiny. Those who complain about the compromises and capitulations of Obama—”Team Commie,” as he calls them—have only themselves to blame. They haven’t done the hard work of organizing citizens to put pressure on the pols in Washington, particularly conservative Democrats resisting Obama’s jobs program. 
    I was a little puzzled by this post. Its hectoring tone (“being taken seriously involves actual work”) sounds a lot like the one Obama uses when he attacks “griping and groaning” liberals—a tone ably skewered by none other than Ta-Nehisi Coates in a New York Times op-ed, which I wrote about in an earlier post.

    It’s also not clear who exactly Coates is talking about here. Most of the liberals and leftists I know who criticize Obama spend their lives working to elect more progressive politicians, not only in Congress but throughout the country. They know full well that if things are going to change, it’s not going to come from Obama or the Democratic Party but from social movements and grassroots activism.
- The Theology of Armageddon
    The woo-woo nuttiness of it all defies the imagination, beginning with the idea of a course in “Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare” at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Nuclear ethics?

    Does that mean no nuclear weapons should ever be used to promote sexual harassment?

    Well actually, turns out the point of the mandatory course recently canceled by the Air Force after officers of numerous faiths complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about it and TruthOut published an exposé in July — was to give officers in the first week of missile-launch training a Bible-verse-studded indoctrination in faux-Just War Theory, cynically known in the ranks as the “Jesus Loves Nukes” training.
- The Election of 2012: Why the Most Important Issues May Be Off the Table (But Should Be On It)
    We’re on the cusp of the 2012 election. What will it be about? It seems reasonably certain President Obama will be confronted by a putative Republican candidate who...

- Noam Chomsky: 2012 GOP Candidates Views are "Off the International Spectrum of Sane Behavior" video
    MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky discusses the position of the Republican presidential candidates on issues such as climate change and calls them "utterly outlandish." "I’m not a great enthusiast for Obama, as you know, from way back, but at least he’s somewhere in the real world," Chomsky says. "Perry, who’s very likely … to win the primary and win the nomination, and maybe to win the election, he’s often in outer space." 
    "I mean, as you mentioned before, I just came back from Europe, where people just can’t believe what they’re seeing here, what people are saying. I mean, take one of the really crucial issues for the human species: doing something about environmental catastrophe. Well, you know, every single one of the Republican candidates—maybe not Huntsman, but every major one—is a climate change denier. It’s kind of ironic in the case of Perry. He says there’s no global warming, while Texas is burning up with the highest temperatures on record, fire all over the place, and so on. But it doesn’t matter, it’s just not happening. In fact, the one who has conceded that maybe global warming has taken place is Michele Bachmann. I heard a statement of hers in which she said, "Well, yes, maybe it’s happening. It’s God’s punishment for allowing gay marriage," or some comment like that. I mean, this—what’s going on there is just off the international spectrum of sane behavior."