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This is the blog for Sean Brennan and London After Midnight. For more information please see the LAM website at londonaftermidnight.com.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fox News Encourages Ignorance on Climate Change - Oil/Coal Companies Fund Climate Change Deniers - Extreme Weather - and more on Climate Change

- Fox News Host Chris Wallace Encourages Fox Viewers To Remain Misinformed On Climate Change
    A Stanford University study similarly found that "more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists' claims about global warming, [and] with less trust in scientists."
- Did ExxonMobil Break Its Promise To Stop Funding Climate Change Deniers?
    Back in 2008, ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers. But according to new documents released through a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request, the oil giant was still forking over cash to climate skeptics as recently as last year, to the tune of $76,000 for one scientist skeptical of humankind's role in global warming. This—and much more—came to light in a new report...
- American climate skeptic Soon funded by oil, coal firms
    Willie Soon, a U.S. climate change skeptic who has also discounted the health risks of mercury emissions from coal, has received more than $1 million in funding in recent years from large energy companies and an oil industry group, according to Greenpeace.
- PART ONE: Storm Warning: Extreme Weather Is a Product of Climate Change
    More violent and frequent storms, once merely a prediction of climate models, are now a matter of observation. Part one of a three-part series...
- PART TWO: Global Warming and the Science of Extreme Weather
    How rising temperatures change weather and produce fiercer, more frequent storms. Second of a three-part series...
- PART THREE: Our Extreme Future: Predicting and Coping with the Effects of a Changing Climate
    Adapting to extreme weather calls for a combination of restoring wetland and building drains and sewers that can handle the water. But leaders and the public are slow to catch on. Final part of a three-part series...

    ...climate models predict that by 2050 Russia will have warmed up so much that every summer will be as warm as the disastrous heat wave it just experienced, says Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory. In other words, many of today's extremes will become tomorrow's everyday reality.
- Climate change hots up in 2010, the year of extreme weather
    Last year was the joint-warmest on record and also the wettest over land, with sea ice levels dropping and drought on the rise.
- Pacific Plankton Crosses to Atlantic...Thanks to Arctic Meltdown
    Neodenticula seminae, a microscopic strand of photosynthesizing plankton, is common in much of the northern Pacific Ocean.The plankton hadn't been seen in the northern Atlantic in some 800,000 years—until a survey in 1999 turned up a bunch in the Labrador Sea. Researchers speculate it traveled along with a pulse of warm Pacific water, part of the changing circulation patterns in the far north due to global warming.
- Water wars: 21st century conflicts?
    Water scarcity, and potential conflicts arising from it, is linked to larger issues of population growth, increasing food prices and global warming. As almost half of humanity will face water scarcity by 2030...
- Arctic sea ice headed for another major melt
    The precipitous decline of Arctic sea ice during the past 30 years of the satellite record (and longer, when other data is taken into consideration) has been one of the most striking manifestations of global climate change...Evidence also indicates that as the sea ice cover shrinks; weather patterns within and beyond the immediate Arctic Circle have been changing as well

Sean

Friday, June 24, 2011

Climate Change Getting Worse - World's Refugees Caused by USA - USA=Sentimental Mass Murderer - Fox News Lies - Meat Creates Massive Climate Change Gases - Veg Diet=Better Mood - GOOD NEWS: Animal Circuses Banned in UK

- Half Of World’s Refugees Are Running From U.S. Wars
    America’s wars are forcing Afghans and Iraqis to flee their homes in greater numbers. According to a recent U.N. High Commission for Refugees study, nearly one half of the world’s refugees are from Afghanistan and Iraq, 3.05 million and 1.68 million, respectively. But neither the United States nor much of the developed world bears the burden of the 10.55 million refugees...
- USA: Sentimental Mass Murderer
    When Obama came into power, there were roughly 35,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Within two years, he tripled that number. Now, Obama announces that 10,000 soldiers will come home by the end of 2011, and 33,000 by the end of next summer. He surges twice, pulls back once, and declares it a successful withdrawal, as promised. I’m sure glad Obama’s not my accountant, or both of us would be arrested for fraud, but wait a sec, Obama is my accountant, and my banker, and my president. 
    And why are we in Afghanistan? Officially, we are there to fight the Taliban, whom we propped up in the first place. Democratic Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan armed, financed and trained these freedom fighters or Islamofascists. In the 1980’s, America poured gasoline onto the flames of Islamic fanaticism to burn down the Soviets. Now, we are the Soviets.

    America goes into Iraq and Afghanistan, turns these countries upside down, then explains that it would be irresponsible to leave them topsy-turvy, but as long as America stays there, these countries will remain messed up. America causes bombs to explode, then insists that it has to stay put until these bombs stop exploding, but America is the bomb! Time and time again, America has set the fire, then shows up as a volunteer firefighter. Such is the burden of being a world leader in freedom, democracy and weapon sales.

    America, you are a sentimental mass murderer. You wage war after war, then pretend to mourn for some of the victims. (The “us” victims, not the “them” victims.) As Barack sends America’s sons and daughters into these needless carnages, Michelle urges us to value their pointless sacrifices.
- Think Again: Stewart and Wallace: Network on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
    [NOTE: Jon Stewart is very stupid sometimes, often stating there is an equivalency between news shows on MSNBC (or ANY person who happens to be liberal) and the blatant LIES that come from Fox "News" and Republican pundits and sponsors (like the Koch bothers and various conservative think tanks, etc).]

    Fox News is nothing if not impressive. No matter how harsh the criticism it endures, the network somehow always manages to prove itself even worse than we had previously imagined. In the wake of some devastating reporting on the internal operations of the outfit, discussed here, Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” invited comedian/wise man Jon Stewart on the show this past Sunday.
- Obama: Three More Years of War in Afghanistan
    Our war president promised more war. While he trumpeted his big Afghanistan speech as the first step in ending that war, Barack Obama essentially told the American people that tens of thousands of our soldiers would still be fighting there for at least three more years.
    A year from now, Obama said all the additional “surge” troops will be back home. But the U.S. will still have close to 70,000 troops in Afghanistan, twice the number that were there when Obama took office.

    Only “by 2014,” he said, will the Afghan people “be responsible for their own security.”
- Veg Diet for Healthy Mood
    A new study finds a correlation between vegetarian diets and good moods.
- A new study has found that lab-grown meat could lead to a massive reduction in emissions
    Clearly, what's being said here is that farming meat for food is unsustainable and wasteful: A new study conducted by researchers at Oxford University and Amsterdam University found that lab-grown tissue would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 96 percent compared to raising animals for meat. By volume, the process would use one percent of the land and four percent of the water used by animal meat and require seven to 45 percent less energy. “Simply put, cultured meat is potentially a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way of putting meat on the table,” Hannah Tuomisto, an Oxford researcher, tells The Guardian.
- The [Republican / Tea Party] Koch Brothers' Campaign to Kill Social Security video
    Documents and interviews unearthed in recent months by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a $28.4m Koch business that has manufactured 297 commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting social security's effectiveness and purpose. Together, the publications reveal a vast cottage industry comprised of Koch brothers' spokespeople, front groups, thinktanks, academics and elected officials, which has built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.
    "The Koch brothers job is to do everything they can to dismember government in general," Senator Bernie Sanders says in this video. "If you can destroy social security, you will have gone a long way forward in that effort."
- McDiabetes: Top Docs Tell McDonald's To Stop Marketing Junk
    One in three kids is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes as a result of diets high in McDonald's-style junk food.
    That's why more than 1,750 health institutions and professionals from all 50 states published full-page newspaper ads across the country in May calling on McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner to stop targeting kids with its advertising and promotions.
- Oregon man to donate rare map of the flat Earth to Library of Congress
    According to Homuth, the flat Earth map was created by Orlando Ferguson, - a "self-appointed expert" on the Bible who always contended that the Earth was flat and square.
- Canada, Others Block Asbestos from U.N. Hazardous List
    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in his successful campaign for the May 2 general election, sought votes in Quebec and defended one of the province's most controversial exports -- asbestos.
- Drilling company’s coloring book sells fracking to kids
    Kids! Are you worried about natural gas companies pumping mysterious chemicals into the rocks near your house, leaking methane gas, poisoning cattle, and making your water flammable? Well, don't be! A coloring book from Talisman Energy says everything will be fine, and afterwards there will be deer and rainbows.
- Fracking Pollution: Wells Found Contaminated
    Federal environmental officials say that testing has revealed contamination in three private water wells following an April blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas drilling site.
- Victory! Britain Votes to Ban Animal Circuses
    In a stunning victory for animals, the British Parliament has voted to direct the government to ban wild animals in circuses. MPs across all party lines unanimously backed the directive, which, if followed, will end the use of lions, tigers, elephants, and other wild animals in circuses in England and Wales. More good news: Scotland isn't far behind in passing a similar resolution.

Climate Change: It's bad and getting worse
Severe weather events are wracking the planet, and experts warn of even greater consequences to come.
by Dahr Jamail
Published 23 Jun 2011 07:46 on Aljazeera


The rate of ice loss in two of Greenland's largest glaciers has increased so much in the last 10 years that the amount of melted water would be enough to completely fill Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes in North America.

West Texas is currently undergoing its worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, leaving wheat and cotton crops in the state in an extremely dire situation due to lack of soil moisture, as wildfires continue to burn.

Central China recently experienced its worst drought in more than 50 years. Regional authorities have declared more than 1,300 lakes "dead", meaning they are out of use for both irrigation and drinking water supply.

Floods have struck Eastern and Southern China, killing at least 52 and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, followed by severe flooding that again hit Eastern China, displacing or otherwise affecting five million people.

Meanwhile in Europe, crops in the northwest are suffering the driest weather in decades.

Scientific research confirms that, so far, humankind has raised the Earth's temperature, and the aforementioned events are a sign of what is to come.

"If you had a satellite view of the planet in the summer, there is about 40 per cent less ice in the Arctic than when Apollo 8 [in 1968] first sent back those photos [of Earth]," Bill McKibben, world renowned environmentalist and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences told Al Jazeera, "Oceans are 30 per cent more acidic than they were 40 years ago. The atmosphere is four per cent more wet than 40 years ago because warm air holds more water than cold air. That means more deluge and downpour in wet areas and more dryness in dry areas. So we're seeing more destructive mega floods and storms, increasing thunderstorms, and increasing lightning strikes."

So far human greenhouse gas emissions have raised the temperature of the planet by one degree Celsius.

"Climatologists tell us unless we get off gas, coal, and oil, that number will be four to five degrees before the end of this century," said McKibben, "If one degree is enough to melt the Arctic, we'd be best not to hit four degrees."

Climate change is bad for you

Brian Schwartz is a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Increasing temperatures cause direct health effects related to heat; there will be more common events like the 30,000 to 50,000 persons who died in Europe in 2003 due to the heat wave there," Professor Schwartz told Al Jazeera, "Increasing temperatures also cause more air pollution, due to photochemical reactions that increase with higher temperatures. This will cause more morbidity and mortality from pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases." 

Schwartz, who is also the co-director of the Programme on Global Sustainability and Health, said that lack of clean water, a phenomenon that is also a product of climate change, will lead to increases in morbidity and mortality from a variety of water-borne diseases.

In addition, vector-borne diseases, diseases in which the pathogenic microorganism is transmitted from an infected individual to another individual by an arthropod or other agent, will change in their distribution as the climate changes. 

"Populations will be on the move as food and water production is threatened; these so-called environmental refugees, that the world has already seen, suffer a variety of increased health risks," added Schwartz, "How climate change affects economies and sociopolitical systems will contribute to other physical and mental health stresses for populations."   

Professor Cindy Parker co-directs the Programme on Global Environmental Sustainability and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Environment, Energy, Sustainability, and Health Institute.

Like Professor Schwartz, she also sees an increase in vector-borne diseases as climate change progresses.

"Infectious diseases carried by insects, like malaria, Lyme disease, Dengue fever, these are all expected to worsen," Parker told Al Jazeera, "These diseases will likely worsen, like malaria, at higher elevations in virgin populations who've not developed resistance to these diseases, so there will be greater effect on these populations."


She believes that diseases that have yet to arise will begin to develop as the planet continues warming. "The biggest threat is the disease we're not yet expecting, but that will develop and we'll be ill equipped to handle."

Parker fears other far-reaching health impacts resulting from our heating up of the planet.

"Everything that affects our environment affects our health," Parker said, "As fancy as our technology is, we still cannot live without clean water, air, and food, and we rely on our environment for these."

This fact is primarily why she believes that climate change is the most health-damaging problem humanity has ever faced.

Parker cited Hurricane Katrina that struck New Orleans in 2005, killing nearly 2,000 and pegged as the costliest natural disaster in US history, as a weather warning example.

"If you look at the health impacts on the Gulf of Mexico's population that was impacted by the storm, mental health illnesses are much worse than the rest of country, chronic illnesses are greater, mostly because trauma has great effects on our psyches and physical bodies," she explained, "But also because prior to Katrina there were seven hospitals in New Orleans, and now there are 2.5 hospitals operating. Those that were lost didn't come back. They are gone."

Hurricane Katrina also caused job loss, which led to loss of health insurance, which led to peoples' health indicators worsening.

"Homelessness is a big contributor, and these problems are still going on, people have not recovered," Parker continued, "And with extreme weather events around the world, there are these huge health effects which persist."

Parker is concerned about what the future has in store for us if climate change continues unabated, as it currently appears to be doing, given that most governments continue to fail to implement an actionable plan to avert it.

"People think technology is going to save us from climate change, but there is no technology on the horizon that will allow us to adapt ourselves out of this mess," Parker said, "We can physiologically adapt to higher temperatures, but all that adaptation is not going to save us unless we also get the climate stabilised."

"If this continues unabated this planet will not be habitable by the species that are on it, including humans," she concluded, "It will be a very different planet. One that is not very conducive to human life."

Global overpopulation

"The rule of thumb is that every degree increase in temperature decreases the wheat harvest by 10 per cent," said McKibben, speaking about the effect climate change has on global food production, "Food cost has increased between 70 and 80 per cent in the last year for basic grains. For millions around the world, they are already affected by not having enough."

Another important factor that contributes to climate change is global overpopulation. The UN has set October 31 of this year as the date the Earth's population is expected to surpass seven billion people.

The world's population is growing by roughly 80 million people per year, and at the current rates of birth and death, the world's population is on a trajectory to double in 49 years.

William Ryerson is the president of the Population Institute, a non-profit organisation that works to educate policymakers and the public about population, and the need to achieve a world population that is in balance with a healthy global environment and resource base.

"The projected growth rate is 9.3 billion by 2050," Ryerson told Al Jazeera, "The additional 2.5 billion [onto our current 6.8 billion] is the climate equivalent to adding two USA's to the planet. Even though most of those people are in low greenhouse gas emitting countries, the sheer number of people adds to a huge impact on the environment."

Ryerson pointed out that countries like China and the US have higher consumption and emissions, and as their populations grow, their impacts are even greater than in less developed countries.

Overpopulation also strains already overstretched water resources.

"We have 225,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren't there last night, so to maintain our current population we're already over-pumping underground aquifers," added Ryerson, "India is over-pumping, and we have over 100 million people in India dependent on over-pumping, so this can't be sustained. And climate change is making this all even more untenable, as the glaciers in the Himalayas that provide water for India and China are melting rapidly."

Unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently revealed that greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year to the highest carbon output in history, despite the most serious economic recession in 80 years.

This means that the aim of holding global temperatures to safe levels are now all but out of reach. The goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius, which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" is now most likely just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, a chief economist of the IEA.

"Population is the multiplier of everything else," explained Ryerson, who believes climate change cannot adequately be addressed until the overpopulation problem is solved.

"Clearly the current number of people and per capita behaviour is unsustainable and this is obvious in what has happened to the climate already," he said, "There are severe consequences already. And the cost of solving this problem of overpopulation is small compared to the cost of solving climate change as it progresses."

Long Road Ahead

McKibben is deeply concerned about what he sees when he looks into the future of what we should expect with climate change.

"We're going to keep seeing increased amounts of these extreme kinds of droughts, floods, and storms," he said, "Everything that happens that isn't volcanic or tectonic draws its power from the sun and we are getting more of everything by amping up the sun's power in the atmosphere by adding more CO2."

Ryerson sees a bleak future for water-starved countries like Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia has announced that the water they've been depending on, their underground aquifer for crops and drinking, will be gone by 2020," he explained, "They are dependent on imports, and can pay for it now, but in the future when oil declines, that country faces a serious issue of sustainability."

He is also concerned about increasing biodiversity loss.

"The key issue is the large populations of plants and animals that make the planet inhabitable," Ryerson explained, "We need oxygen to breathe and water to drink. A  three billion year evolution of plants and animals have made the planet habitable, and we are systematically destroying this biodiversity by plowing, cutting, and burning areas."

Ryerson believes ongoing demand for products and the encroachment on wilderness areas this causes "will make life on the planet much more difficult. All of this together means the future of humanity, even with assumed innovation, has some very serious concerns. None of these problems are made easier by adding more people. The only way to achieve sustainability is to hold population growth, and have it decline."

McKibben says everybody should be adopting an emergency response geared towards ending our reliance on fossil fuels.

"This will only be done if we charge carbon for the damage it does in the atmosphere," he said, "The power of the fossil fuel companies is the power to keep us from doing that. As long as our governments won't stand up to that industry, I'm afraid we've got a long road ahead of us."

Sean

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oceans are Dying - Radiation Leaking from US Reactors into Our water - Obama, the Republican - Man Robs Bank of $1 to Get Prison Healthcare - US Healthcare Worst in Developed World - Miss USA and Evolution - Homophobes Like Gay Porn - more

- Oceans at Dire Risk, Team of Scientists Warns
    The state of the oceans is declining far more rapidly than most pessimists had expected, an international team of experts has concluded, increasing the risk that many marine species — including those that make coral reefs — could be extinct within a generation.
- Tritium Leaks Found at Many Nuke Sites
    Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.
    The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.
- $1 Bank Robbery: Of Sound Mind But Not So Much Sound Body
    Pity James Richard Verone, 59, an unemployed, otherwise law-abiding guy who robbed a North Carolina bank of $1 so he could get arrested and get health care for several ailments. It should be a John Prine song; instead, it's America today.
- Healthcare in US ranks last among developed countries: report
    The Healthcare system in the US again ranks last among the seven developed countries in a report by Commonwealth Fund released on Wednesday. The US healthcare fails to perform well on the parameters such as access, patient safety, efficiency, and equity. The other countries in the survey are Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. The US was ranked last in 2007, 2006, and 2004.
- If This Doesn't Stop You, It's Likely Nothing Will
    Testing our powers of denial, the Food and Drug Administration has released nine new graphic warnings for cigarette packages, the first new labels in over 25 years. The new, explicit warnings - rotting teeth, cancerous lungs, dead bodies - are required to cover at least 50 percent of every pack of cigarettes sold. The FDA hopes they will have "a significant public health impact." Sheesh, you'd think.
- U.N.: Cancer, diabetes kill millions, cost trillions globally
    Ban said the rapidly increasing magnitude of noncommunicable diseases is fueled by rising risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and harmful alcohol use — and is driven in part by an aging population, the negative impact of urbanization, and the globalization of trade and marketing.
- Is it bird, is it plane? No, it's the work of Bulgarian Banksy
    AN anonymous artist dubbed the Banksy of Bulgaria has transformed statues of Red Army soldiers into superhero and cartoon characters - an action that would have resulted in a firing squad 20 years ago.
- Warming Accelerates Sea Level Rise on U.S. East Coast
    A new study finds that sea levels are creeping up faster along the coast of North Carolina thanks to climate change.
- Keith Olbermann's Current TV Debut: What the Critics Say
    After five months, Keith Olbermann's Countdown returned to TV on Monday night, on a new network, Current TV.
- What We Didn't Do With The $113 Billion We Inexplicably Spent On Afghanistan
    From the National Priorities Project, a list of tradeoffs we're unwillingly making for our senseless wars. We could have bought health care for over 25 million people, 16 million Head Start slots, much good for teachers, firefighters, veterans, students, etc
- Why the GOP Should Nominate Barack Obama in 2012
    With the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, the Republican presidential field is weak on candidates who could appeal to centrist swing voters, including moderate Republicans. But there is one 2012 prospect who has a proven track record of pursuing policies that owe a great deal to the moderate Republican tradition and who could potentially shake up the race for the GOP presidential nomination: President Barack Obama.
    If Obama chose to run for reelection not as a Democrat but as a moderate Republican, he could bring about two healthy transformations in the American political system. The moderate wing of the Republican Party could be restored. And the Democratic presidential nomination might be opened up to politicians from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
- Homophobic Men Most Aroused by Gay Male Porn: Study
    When viewing lesbian sex and straight sex, both the homophobic and the non-homophobic men showed increased penis circumference. For gay male sex, however, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal.
- Newly Crowned Miss USA Was One Of Only Two Contestants Who Believe In Evolution
    California’s 21-year-old Alyssa Campanella took the coveted crown in the 60th Miss USA competition last night. Campanella marks a redeeming win for the state after the now-disgraced Californian Carrie Prejean dismissed marriage equality — or as she put it "opposite marriage" — in 2009. Miss USA seemed to take a breather from political controversy until this year, when the pageant decided to ask the contestants whether they believe evolution should be taught in schools in the preliminary round. A self-proclaimed “science geek,” Campanella affirmed that evolution should indeed be taught in schools because she believes in evolution of humans throughout time. This answer, apparently, won her another title last night. She and Massachusetts’ Alida D’Angona were the only two out of 51 contestants to "unequivocally support" evolution...

Oceans in Distress Foreshadow Mass Extinction
by Marlowe Hood
Published on Monday, June 20, 2011 by Agence France-Presse

PARIS – Pollution and global warming are pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned Monday.

Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water "dead zones," toxic algae blooms, the massive depletion of big fish stocks -- all are accelerating, they said in a report compiled during an April meeting in Oxford of 27 of the world's top ocean experts.

Sponsored by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), the review of recent science found that ocean health has declined further and faster than dire forecasts only a few years ago.

These symptoms, moreover, could be the harbinger of wider disruptions in the interlocking web of biological and chemical interactions that scientists now call the Earth system.
All five mass extinctions of life on the planet, reaching back more than 500 million years, were preceded by many of the same conditions now afflicted the ocean environment, they said.

"The results are shocking," said Alex Rogers, an Oxford professor who heads IPSO and co-authored the report. "We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime."

Three main drivers are sickening the global marine environment, and all are a direct consequence of humans activity: global warming, acidification and a dwindling level oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia.

Up to now, these and other impacts have been studied mainly in isolation. Only recently have scientists began to understand how these forces interact.

"We have underestimated the overall risks, and that the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts," Rogers said. "That degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted."

Indeed, the pace of change is tracking or has surpassed the worst-case scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark 2007 report, according to the new assessment.

The chain reaction leading to increased acidification of the oceans begins with a massive influx of carbon into Earth's climate system.

Oceans act as a massive sponge, soaking up more than a quarter of the CO2 humans pump into the atmosphere.

But when the sponge becomes too saturated, it can disrupt the delicately balanced ecosystems on which marine life -- and ultimately all life on Earth -- depends.

"The rate at which carbon is being absorbed is already far greater now than during the last globally significant extinction of marine species 55 million years ago," when some 50 percent of deep-sea life was wiped out, the report said.

That event, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, may be an ancient dress rehearsal for future climate change that could be even more abrupt and more damaging, some scientists fear.

Pollution has also taken a heavy toll, rendering the oceans less resilient to climate change.
Runoff from nitrogen-rich fertiliser, killer microbes, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, for example, have all contributed to the mass die-off of corals, crucial not just for marine ecosystems but a lifeline for hundreds of millions of people too.

The harvesting up to 90 percent of some species of big fish and sharks, meanwhile, has hugely disrupted food chains throughout the ocean, leading to explosive and imbalanced growth of algae, jellyfish and other "opportunistic" flora and fauna.

"We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation," said Daniel Laffoley, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, and co-author of the report.

"And we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems," he told AFP by phone.

Sean

Monday, June 20, 2011

- Obama's Unconstitutional War
    By unilaterally going to war against Libya, Obama is bringing America closer to the imperial presidency than Bush ever did.
- Obama rejects top lawyers' legal views on Libya
    The growing controversy over President Obama's illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage's New York Times scoop.  He reveals that top administration lawyers --  Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson -- all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of "hostilities" under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid
- U.S. solar power industry booms, gains globally
    Solar energy remains one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy as its photovoltaics produced 66% more power in the first quarter of this year than during the same time last year, the industry reports Thursday.
- The Big Fukushima Lie Flies High
    The global nuclear industry and its allies in government are making a desperate effort to cover up the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
- Sand shortage causes concern for flood fighters
    The sand shortage comes as the bloated river rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of Cooper Nuclear Plant at Brownville, Neb. It stopped and ebbed slightly Monday, a reprieve caused by levee breaches in northwest Missouri.
- Why we need STRONG regulations and no corporate influence on law makers: AP study: U.S. nuclear regulators weaken safety rules
    Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.
- Safety Concerns Often Amount to Status Quo at U.S. Nuclear Industry's Aging Reactors
    Leaks, burst cooling pipes, faulty controls, misplaced fuel rods and engineers' warnings about design flaws have done little to slow down approvals for continued operation of the nation's aging nuclear plants...
- If You Eat Cows, Why Not Golden Retrievers, Too?
    If you took a cross-section of Americans and you asked them if their value system supported intensive, extensive, and completely unnecessary violence toward other sentient beings, of course they would tell you no. And yet at the same time these very people—just like I had done when I was younger—enable such violence on a daily basis by eating meat. Not only that, but many of them get angry if you try to shed light on where their meat originates—just telling people you're vegan can sometimes inspire hostility. That’s because people know, on some level, that animal agriculture is horrific but support it anyway. By raising awareness of the reality of animal agriculture, you shed light on that moral discomfort that most people feel at the idea of eating animals.
- Is Facebook's popularity waning in the West?
    The number of people using Facebook has dropped in the UK for the second month in a row, mirroring similar falls in the US, Canada and Norway - giving the first signs that the social network's popularity may be waning in the west.
- Sarah Palin Proves She Knows Less About Immigration Than American History
    It turns out Sarah Palin knows even less about immigration than she does American history. During a recent interview with a New York news channel, Palin claimed that the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a pathway to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants, "usurps ... the system." She further stated that the legislation perverts a legal system geared toward immigrants "who want to be here legally, working hard, producing and supplying revenue and resources for their family."
    But if Palin, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, had read even a few lines of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011, she would realize how ridiculous her statement is.
- Climate Change Deniers' Smear Campaigns Exposed
    A recently exposed whopper conjured up by climate change deniers highlights exactly what is behind the fight against climate change solutions: lies.
- The Weiner resignation: our political system in a nutshell
    Big crime? No problem. Personal life (if you're a Democrat)? BIG problem.
- Death penalty costs California $184 million a year, study says
    The state's 714 death row prisoners cost $184 million more per year than those sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
    A death penalty prosecution costs up to 20 times as much as a life-without-parole case.

    The least expensive death penalty trial costs $1.1 million more than the most expensive life-without-parole case.

    Jury selection in a capital case runs three to four weeks longer and costs $200,000 more than in life-without-parole cases.

    The state pays up to $300,000 for attorneys to represent each capital inmate on appeal.

    The heightened security practices mandated for death row inmates added $100,663 to the cost of incarcerating each capital prisoner last year, for a total of $72 million.
- Armadillo Moves North Across a Warmer North America
    The armadillo is moving north thanks to climate change, as are mice and other mammals.
- U.S. solar power industry booms, gains globally
    Solar energy remains one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy as its photovoltaics produced 66% more power in the first quarter of this year than during the same time last year, the industry reports Thursday.
- Media and the Assange case
    A late witness statement that was submitted to the District Court in the February Hearing was an analysis of media reporting of the investigation against Julian Assange. 804 articles had been published in the four main newspapers and tabloids between 20 August 2010 and mid-February 2011:
        Factual, non-objectable reporting     44% 
        Non-objective reporting     56%    
        Erroneous information or disinformation     20%   
        Omission of relevant information     36%   
        Personality descriptions ad-hominem        
        Hostile, detrimental or aggressive terms     72%    
        Positive terms     28 %    

Fukushima: It's much worse than you think
Scientific experts believe Japan's nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public.
Published June 16 2011 at AlJazeera.net


PHOTO: Many Japanese citizens are now permanently displaced from their homes due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster [GALLO/GETTY] 

"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed.

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."
TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water - as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

"The problem is how to keep it cool," says Gundersen. "They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?"
Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling.

"The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor," Gundersen added. "TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water."

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive "hot spots" around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting.

"We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl," said Gundersen. "The data I'm seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl."

Radiation monitors for children

Japan's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters finally admitted earlier this month that reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced full meltdowns.

TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record.

Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station - an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now likely uninhabitable.

In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant.

The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.

"There is and should be concern about younger people being exposed, and the Japanese government will be giving out radiation monitors to children," Dr MV Ramana, a physicist with the Programme on Science and Global Security at Princeton University who specialises in issues of nuclear safety, told Al Jazeera.

Dr Ramana explained that he believes the primary radiation threat continues to be mostly for residents living within 50km of the plant, but added: "There are going to be areas outside of the Japanese government's 20km mandatory evacuation zone where radiation is higher. So that could mean evacuation zones in those areas as well."

Gundersen points out that far more radiation has been released than has been reported.
"They recalculated the amount of radiation released, but the news is really not talking about this," he said. "The new calculations show that within the first week of the accident, they released 2.3 times as much radiation as they thought they released in the first 80 days."
According to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel cores are continuing to release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium isotopes. These are referred to as "hot particles".

"We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters."

Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.

The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.

"These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant," he explained, "One cigarette doesn't get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can't measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit pretty heavy in April."

Blame the US?

In reaction to the Fukushima catastrophe, Germany is phasing out all of its nuclear reactors over the next decade. In a referendum vote this Monday, 95 per cent of Italians voted in favour of blocking a nuclear power revival in their country. A recent newspaper poll in Japan shows nearly three-quarters of respondents favour a phase-out of nuclear power in Japan.

Why have alarms not been sounded about radiation exposure in the US?

Nuclear operator Exelon Corporation has been among Barack Obama's biggest campaign donors, and is one of the largest employers in Illinois where Obama was senator. Exelon has donated more than $269,000 to his political campaigns, thus far. Obama also appointed Exelon CEO John Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

Dr Shoji Sawada is a theoretical particle physicist and Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University in Japan.

He is concerned about the types of nuclear plants in his country, and the fact that most of them are of US design.

"Most of the reactors in Japan were designed by US companies who did not care for the effects of earthquakes," Dr Sawada told Al Jazeera. "I think this problem applies to all nuclear power stations across Japan."

Using nuclear power to produce electricity in Japan is a product of the nuclear policy of the US, something Dr Sawada feels is also a large component of the problem.

"Most of the Japanese scientists at that time, the mid-1950s, considered that the technology of nuclear energy was under development or not established enough, and that it was too early to be put to practical use," he explained. "The Japan Scientists Council recommended the Japanese government not use this technology yet, but the government accepted to use enriched uranium to fuel nuclear power stations, and was thus subjected to US government policy."

As a 13-year-old, Dr Sawada experienced the US nuclear attack against Japan from his home, situated just 1400 metres from the hypocentre of the Hiroshima bomb.

"I think the Fukushima accident has caused the Japanese people to abandon the myth that nuclear power stations are safe," he said. "Now the opinions of the Japanese people have rapidly changed. Well beyond half the population believes Japan should move towards natural electricity."  

A problem of infinite proportions

Dr Ramana expects the plant reactors and fuel cores to be cooled enough for a shutdown within two years.

"But it is going to take a very long time before the fuel can be removed from the reactor," he added. "Dealing with the cracking and compromised structure and dealing with radiation in the area will take several years, there's no question about that."

Dr Sawada is not as clear about how long a cold shutdown could take, and said the problem will be "the effects from caesium-137 that remains in the soil and the polluted water around the power station and underground. It will take a year, or more time, to deal with this".

Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking radiation.

"They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."

Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units.

"Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've not figured out how to cool units three and four."

Gundersen's assessment of solving this crisis is grim.

"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."

Dr Sawada says that the creation of nuclear fission generates radioactive materials for which there is simply no knowledge informing us how to dispose of the radioactive waste safely.

"Until we know how to safely dispose of the radioactive materials generated by nuclear plants, we should postpone these activities so as not to cause further harm to future generations," he explained. "To do otherwise is simply an immoral act, and that is my belief, both as a scientist and as a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing."

Gundersen believes it will take experts at least ten years to design and implement the plan.
"So ten to 15 years from now maybe we can say the reactors have been dismantled, and in the meantime you wind up contaminating the water," Gundersen said. "We are already seeing Strontium [at] 250 times the allowable limits in the water table at Fukushima.
Contaminated water tables are incredibly difficult to clean. So I think we will have a contaminated aquifer in the area of the Fukushima site for a long, long time to come."
Unfortunately, the history of nuclear disasters appears to back Gundersen's assessment.

"With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started," he said, "But they never end."

Sean

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MORE Racist Republicans - War for Oil - Drugs - Obama - Conservatives Attack Healthcare - Climate Worries - Conservative Koch Bothers Fight to Keep Cancer Causing Toxins from Being Labeled as Toxic - Animal Cruelty Favored by Republicans

- It's Not Just Race: Fox's Bolling Has A Long History Of False Claims, Inflammatory Rhetoric
    As Media Matters reported, Fox Business' Eric Bolling recently made unacceptable and bizarre racially charged comments on Fox, including accusing President Obama of inviting "hoodlum[s]" to what he called the "hizzouse." But this wasn't the first time Bolling acted inappropriately while employed by Fox. Bolling has a long history of making false and misleading claims as well as using inflammatory rhetoric and smears during his time at Fox.
- Medicare Saves Money
    [Medicare (the single payer system to deliver paid health care to people over 65 in the USA) has long been hated by conservatives/Republicans. Simply put, it's like universal healthcare, similar to what Canada has, but only for people over 65. Originally it was intended to cover ALL US citizens regardless of age, but Republicans fought against it. Now they are trying to kill it completely by turning if from a government run system to a private system that gives you vouchers that would only pay for a TINY percentage of your health care. Their claims are that it would save money. That's false, of course. Their true reasons are they want more people paying absurdly inflated insurance rates to private health insurance companies.]
    And here’s what you need to know: Medicare actually saves money — a lot of money — compared with relying on private insurance companies. And this in turn means that pushing people out of Medicare, in addition to depriving many Americans of needed care, would almost surely end up increasing total health care costs.
- Unrelenting heat challenges Eastern half of US, complicates tornado recovery in Mass.
    The persistent heat and resulting storms has been blamed for at least eight deaths from the Plains to the East Coast, where authorities prepared emergency rooms and encouraged neighbors to check on the elderly as temperatures soared above 100 in spots.
- Ralph Nader: Koch Brothers Led Fight to Defend Formaldehyde Despite Carcinogenic Evidence
    The government has added formaldehyde to a list of known carcinogens, despite years of lobbying by the chemical industry. Formaldehyde is found in plastics and often used in plywood, particle board, mortuaries and hair salons. The government also said Friday that styrene, which is used in boats, bathtubs and in disposable foam plastic cups and plates, may cause cancer. The conservative billionaire Koch brothers have led the lobbying effort against labeling formaldehyde as a carcinogen. Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, is one of the country’s top producers of formaldehyde.
- Iraqis: We won't repay U.S.
    The suggestion by a [Republican] U.S. congressman that Iraq repay the United States for the money it has spent in the country has stirred anger, with an Iraqi lawmaker ridiculing the idea as “stupid” and others saying Iraqis should be compensated for the hardships they’ve endured.
- New UNICEF reports paint climate change as major threat to children, development goals
    In its recently released 2011 State of the World's Children report , UNICEF positions climate change as the single greatest threat to youth worldwide, and in another new report, the international body...New UNICEF reports paint climate change as major threat to children, development goalsNew UNICEF reports paint climate change as major threat to children, development goals120In its recently released 2011 State of the World's Children report, UNICEF positions climate change as the single greatest threat to youth worldwide, and in another new report, the international body says that climate-related disasters threaten the success of the Millennium Development Goals that are core of international humanitarian agenda.
- Republican Pro-Animal Cruelty Bill Fizzles in New York
    A [Republican sponsored] New York Senate bill—which, like similar bills in other states, aims to criminalize filming on farms—is dying on the vine because no one across the aisle [on the Democratic side] on the Assembly side will cosponsor it.
- F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.
- A European Generation Takes to the Streets
    For weeks, hundreds of young people have been camping out in central Madrid. And others across Europe have now begun following their example. Protests in Lisbon, Paris, Athens and elsewhere show that Europe's lost generation has finally found its voice.
- Rescind President Obama's 'Transparency Award' now
    The Obama administration's record on secrecy and surveillance is a disgrace and should not be sanitised by unearned prizes
- Poison in party pills is too much to swallow
    Should we try to keep ahead of those who make and use these materials? Is the effort and expense required for chemists such as myself to develop tests for new drugs, and to work with legal professionals to increase the number of banned substances, really worth it? The simple answer is yes. I have seen the effects that these chemicals can have on those who take them. In addition to damaging medical conditions, these drugs can induce dangerous or violent changes in mood and behaviour. I believe that society has a duty to intervene.
- The Most Offensive Political Ad Ever, This Hour
    Racist Republican "film maker" makes racist political campaign for California election.
- The Most Offensive Political Ad Ever, This Hour
    Thanks to Darwin, records on Chillingham cattle go back 150 years--and show a breeding response to climate change resulting in more winter calf deaths.
- Coulter: If My Child Said He Was Gay, "Obviously I'd Tell Him He Was Adopted," "Ask For Some Help Redecorating The Dining Room"
    Conservative republican commentator and writer Ann Coulter again shows her homophobia and bigotry.

In a pure coincidence, Gaddafi impeded U.S. oil interests before the war 
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com

When the war in Libya began, the U.S. government convinced a large number of war supporters that we were there to achieve the very limited goal of creating a no-fly zone in Benghazi to protect civilians from air attacks, while President Obama specifically vowed that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."  This no-fly zone was created in the first week, yet now, almost three months later, the war drags on without any end in sight, and NATO is no longer even hiding what has long been obvious: that its real goal is exactly the one Obama vowed would not be pursued -- regime change through the use of military force.  We're in Libya to forcibly remove Gaddafi from power and replace him with a regime that we like better, i.e., one that is more accommodating to the interests of the West.  That's not even a debatable proposition at this point.

What I suppose is debatable, in the most generous sense of that term, is our motive in doing this.  Why -- at a time when American political leaders feel compelled to advocate politically radioactive budget cuts to reduce the deficit and when polls show Americans solidly and increasingly opposed to the war -- would the U.S. Government continue to spend huge sums of money to fight this war?  Why is President Obama willing to endure self-evidently valid accusations -- even from his own Party -- that he's fighting an illegal war by brazenly flouting the requirements for Congressional approval?  Why would Defense Secretary Gates risk fissures by so angrily and publicly chiding NATO allies for failing to build more Freedom Bombs to devote to the war?  And why would we, to use the President's phrase, "stand idly by" while numerous other regimes -- including our close allies in Bahrain and Yemen and the one in Syria -- engage in attacks on their own people at least as heinous as those threatened by Gaddafi, yet be so devoted to targeting the Libyan leader?

Whatever the answers to those mysteries, no responsible or Serious person, by definition, would suggest that any of this  -- from today's Washington Post -- has anything to do with it:
The relationship between Gaddafi and the U.S. oil industry as a whole was odd. In 2004, President George W. Bush unexpectedly lifted economic sanctions on Libya in return for its renunciation of nuclear weapons and terrorism. There was a burst of optimism among American oil executives eager to return to the Libyan oil fields they had been forced to abandon two decades earlier. . . .
Yet even before armed conflict drove the U.S. companies out of Libya this year, their relations with Gaddafi had soured. The Libyan leader demanded tough contract terms. He sought big bonus payments up front. Moreover, upset that he was not getting more U.S. government respect and recognition for his earlier concessions, he pressured the oil companies to influence U.S. policies. . . .
When Gaddafi made his deal with Bush in 2004, he had hoped that returning foreign oil companies would help boost Libya’s output . . . The U.S. government also encouraged American oil companies to go back to Libya. . . .
The companies needed little encouragement. Libya has some of the biggest and most proven oil reserves -- 43.6 billion barrels -- outside Saudi Arabia, and some of the best drilling prospects. . . . Throughout this time, oil prices kept rising, whetting the appetite for greater supplies of Libya's unusually "sweet" and "light," or high-quality, crude oil.
By the time Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited in 2008, U.S. joint ventures accounted for 510,000 of Libya's 1.7 million barrels a day of production, a State Department cable said. . . .
But all was not well. By November 2007, a State Department cable noted "growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism." It noted that in his 2006 speech marking the founding of his regime, Gaddafi said: "Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money." His son made similar remarks in 2007.
Oil companies had been forced to give their local subsidiaries Libyan names, the cable said. . . .
The entire article is worth reading, as it details how Gaddafi has progressively impeded the interests of U.S. and Western oil companies by demanding a greater share of profits and other concessions, to the point where some of those corporations were deciding that it may no longer be profitable or worthwhile to drill for oil there.  But now, in a pure coincidence, there is hope on the horizon for these Western oil companies, thanks to the war profoundly humanitarian action being waged by the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and his nation's closest Western allies:
But Libya's oil production has foundered, sagging to about 1.5 million barrels a day by early this year before unrest broke out. The big oil companies, several of which had drilled dry holes, felt that Libya was not making the best exploration prospects available. One major company privately said that it was on the verge of a discovery but that unrest cut short the project.
With the country torn by fighting, the big international oil companies are treading carefully, unwilling to throw their lot behind Gaddafi or the rebel coalition.
Yet when representatives of the rebel coalition in Benghazi spoke to the U.S.-Libya Business Council in Washington four weeks ago, representatives from ConocoPhillips and other oil firms attended, according to Richard Mintz, a public relations expert at the Harbour Group, which represents the Benghazi coalition. In another meeting in Washington, Ali Tarhouni, the lead economic policymaker in Benghazi, said oil contracts would be honored, Mintz said.
"Now you can figure out who’s going to win, and the name is not Gaddafi," Saleri said. "Certain things about the mosaic are taking shape. The Western companies are positioning themselves."
"Five years from now," he added, "Libyan production is going to be higher than right now and investments are going to come in."
I have two points to make about all this:
(1) The reason -- the only reason -- we know about any of this is because WikiLeaks (and, allegedly, Bradley Manning) disclosed to the world the diplomatic cables which detail these conflicts.  Virtually the entirety of the Post article -- like most significant revelations over the last 12 months, especially in the Middle East and North Africa -- are based exclusively on WikiLeaks disclosures.  That's why we know about Gaddafi's increasingly strident demands for the "Libyanization" of his country's resource exploitation.  That's how we know about most of the things we've learned about the world's most powerful political and corporate factions over the last 12 months.  Is there anything easier to understand than why U.S. Government officials are so eager to punish WikiLeaks and deter future transparency projects of this sort?

(2) Is there anyone -- anywhere -- who actually believes that these aren't the driving considerations in why we're waging this war in Libya?  After almost three months of fighting and bombing -- when we're so far from the original justifications and commitments that they're barely a distant memory -- is there anyone who still believes that humanitarian concerns are what brought us and other Western powers to the war in Libya?  Is there anything more obvious -- as the world's oil supplies rapidly diminish -- than the fact that our prime objective is to remove Gaddafi and install a regime that is a far more reliable servant to Western oil interests, and that protecting civilians was the justifying pretext for this war, not the purpose?  If (as is quite possible) the new regime turns out to be as oppressive as Gaddafi but far more subservient to Western corporations (like, say, our good Saudi friends), does anyone think we're going to care in the slightest or (at most) do anything other than pay occasional lip service to protesting it?  Does anyone think we're going to care about The Libyan People if they're being oppressed or brutalized by a reliably pro-Western successor to Gaddafi?

In 2006, George Bush instructed us that there was a "responsible" and an "irresponsible" way for citizens to debate the Iraq War: the "responsible" way was to suggest that there may be better tactics for waging the war more effectively, while the "irresponsible" way was to outrageously insinuate that perhaps oil or Israel or deceit played a role in the invasion:
Yet we must remember there is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate -- and it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas.
The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.
Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton hosted a meeting of top executives from a wide array of corporations -- Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Halliburton, GE, Chevron, Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Occidental Petroleum, etc. etc. -- to plot how to exploit "economic opportunities in the new Iraq."  And one WikiLeaks "diplomatic" cable after the next reveals constant government efforts to promote the interests of Western corporations in the developing world.  Nonetheless, the very notion that the U.S. wages wars not for humanitarian or freedom-spreading purposes, but rather to exploit the resources of other nations for its own large corporations, is deeply "irresponsible" and unSerious.  As usual, the ideas stigmatized with the most potent taboos are the ones that are the most obviously true.

It's certainly possible to contend reasonably that (as was true for Iraq) removing a heinous dictator and other humanitarian outcomes will be the incidental by-product of our war in Libya even if not its purpose (although, as was also true in Iraq, one would need to see the regime that replaces Gaddafi to know if that's true).  And it's fine -- or at least candid -- to argue, as Ann Coulter often does, that "of course we should go to war for oil. . . .We need oil. That's a good reason to go to war." But to believe that humanitarianism (protection of Libya civilians) was why we went to war in Libya requires a blindness so willful and complete that it's genuinely difficult to describe.

UPDATE:  To clarify what I believe was already clear: the point here is not that the U.S. invaded Libya in order to steal its oil.  That's not the West's modus operandi.  The point is that what distinguishes Gaddafi and made him a war target is not the claimed humanitarian rationale (he brutalized his own people) any more than "Saddam's gassing his own people" (25 years ago when he was a close American ally) was the reason the U.S. invaded Iraq.  Instead, what distinguished Gaddafi and made him a war target was that he had become insufficiently compliant -- an unreliable and unstable servant to the West.

The U.S. does not object in the slightest when a leader oppresses or even attacks his own people.  The U.S. adores leaders who do things like that.  Its best friends in the region have long done and continue to do exactly that -- from Mubarak to the Saudis to Yemen's Saleh to the Bahrainis, not to mention the Shah of Iran and even our one-time good friend Saddam.  The very idea that the U.S. Government woke up one day and suddenly decided that it can no longer abide a leader who mistreats his own people -- and that's why we went to Libya -- is so ludicrous that it's actually painful to hear that people believe that.  It so obviously confuses pretext with cause.  If Gaddafi had continued to be as compliant as he had been in the past, does anyone really believe we would have invaded his country and spent months trying to kill him and replace him with another regime?

That's not to say that Gaddafi's "resource nationalism" is the only or even overriding motive for the war in Libya.  Wars are typically caused by the interests of multiple factions and rarely have just one motive.  As Jim Webb explained in arguing that the U.S. has no vital interest in Libya, the French and British are far more reliant on Libyan oil than the U.S. is (and this reader offers a rational dissent and alternative explanation for the war).  But the U.S. has long made clear that it will not tolerate hostile or disobedient rulers in countries where it believes it has vital interests, and that's particularly true in oil rich nations (which is one reason for the American obsession with Iran).  It's just hard to believe that any rational person would believe that the war in Libya is unrelated to the fact that Gaddafi has been increasingly obstructionist in allowing Western oil companies access to that nation's oil and that Libya is so rich in oil.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Canadian Girl Rebels Against Conservatives - Ayn Rand Sociopath - Fox News Propaganda - Nukes - Rich Getting Richer - Dole Kills Workers - Racist Republicans - Guns - US Not Happy - Sarah Palin the IDIOT - Barbie Destroys Rainforest

- How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory
    The onetime Nixon operative has created the most profitable propaganda machine in history. Inside America's Unfair and Imbalanced Network
- A Bad Day That Never Changes
    ...at least there’s some good news in all this: “NATO has apologized for the deadly attack on Saturday, saying troops believed the compound they were firing on housed only insurgents.”
    For anyone not centered in American righteousness and exceptionalism, this is Barbarism, Inc. It simply appears that the American economy runs on war and one of the products this economy produces is dead insurgents. We cheer about dead insurgents (think Osama) because, you know, it makes us safer. But the unwanted byproduct — the CO2 emissions, if you will — of killing these nameless, bearded enemies is dead civilians, a.k.a., collateral damage.

    And that’s too bad. But apologies are cheap — far cheaper than dismantling the military industrial complex.

    Yet just as we participate in the creation of climate change, or “global weirding,” with our voracious consumption of coal, oil and natural gas, we also participate in the creation of our own insecurity by spawning, bomb after bomb, endless reasons for people to hate us. Terrorists wind up being no more than people with grievances — very often, legitimate ones.
- The Cries of the Poor: Jesus Christ Was Not Ayn Rand
    "[Libertarian and Republican hero] Ayn Rand stands against everything we were ever taught or believed about God and our faith values. Ayn Rand stands against everything we ever learned about basic compassion, human decency, and fair play...We urge our political leaders to drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts." - Father Clete Kiley of the Archdiocese of Chicago, in a great letter to GOP leaders
- Rogue Canadian page inspired by Arab uprising, wants Canadians to mobilize
    Brigette DePape, 21, stepped into the political spotlight Friday when she stepped onto the floor of the Canadian Senate and held up a handmade sign, designed in the shape of a red stop sign. She was briskly removed from the Senate chamber, detained by security officials, and fired from her job. DePape has criticized the conservative Harper government for its pro-war stances and anti-environmental policies.
- New MRSA Strain Found In Dairy Cattle and Humans
    A new form of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found in dairy cows and humans in the U.K. and Denmark, providing more evidence that animals could be passing this superbug on to people—not just the other way around.
- Glenn Beck Limps Off Fox News
    If Roger Ailes thought Glenn Beck’s farewell tour for his final, televised goodbye on Fox News this month would generate a ratings boost as past fans turned in to toast Beck’s slow motion send-off, the Fox News chairman must be disappointed because it ain't happening.
- Three Strikes and You’re Hot: Time for Obama to Say No to the Fossil Fuel Wish List
    If we value the one planet we’ve got, it’s going to be up to the rest of us to be crude and blunt. And happily that planet is pitching in. The geography of this beautiful North American continent is on our side: it’s crude and blunt, full of mountains and canyons. Its weather runs to extremes. It’s no easy thing to build a pipeline across it, or to figure out how to run an endless parade of train cars to the Pacific.Tough terrain aids the insurgent; it slows the powerful. Though we’re fighting a political campaign and not a military one, we need to take full advantage.
- Japan Doubles Fukushima Radiation Leak Estimate
    Japanese authorities are now admitting the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility was far more severe than they had previously admitted. On Monday, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. The agency has also admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant’s reactors.
- Radioactive water about to overflow at Fukushima
    Bloomberg reports that the water could overflow from basements and service trenches as soon as Monday 6 June, pouring isotopes into the sea.
- German Utilities Push Back on Merkel’s Plan to Phase Out Nukes
    "...renewable energy could even reach 40-45 percent by 2020. It is entirely a question of what one funds."
- Top 5 Percent Will Get Tax Cut 42 Times Bigger Than Bottom 60 Percent If Bush Tax Cuts Continue; Deficit Will Double
    On June 7, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the first of the tax cuts that would turn the budget surpluses of the 1990’s into historic deficits. A new analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice explains that making these tax cuts permanent would almost double the long-term budget deficit.
    The richest one percent of taxpayers, with an average income of about $1.4 million in 2013, would get an average tax cut of $68,079 that year if the Bush tax cuts are extended again. The poorest three fifths of taxpayers, with an average income of $29,000 that year, would receive an average tax cut of just $487.
- Identifying "Hot Spots" of Future Food Shortages Due to Climate Change
    Southern Africa, India and Southeast Asia will be plagued with both high susceptibility and a lack of coping mechanisms as climate change takes its toll, according to models published in a new study.
- How Dole Got Away with Poisoning Banana Workers
    Dole Food Company first poisoned the workers on its banana plantations outside of Managua, Nicaragua in the 1970’s, and then refused to provide them with adequate medical coverage.  Fully aware of the health problems the use of the pesticide dibromochloropropane (DBCP) causes in humans (particularly sterility in males, which led to the chemical being banned in the US) Dole continued to require its application on banana plantations without providing proper training or handling equipment for its employees.
- Former Republican Presidential Candidate Pat Buchanan: Evangelicals Would Support Mormon Over African American
    "The concentration of opposition to Mormons is among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who are heavily concentrated in the South in the Bible belt. It is an impediment, and was an impediment four years ago, to Romney in terms of winning the Republican nomination. But if he gets that nomination, and then you've got a race between Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, and Barack Hussein Obama, who is an African American of the left, evangelicals and fundamentalist, I think, in the South will go strongly for Romney."
- Al Qaeda Spokesman Instructs Terrorists To Stock Up At Local Gun Shows
    In a video released today Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn encourages terrorists to use American gun shows to arm themselves for potential ... attacks
- US doesn't make cut for happiest nations list
    The Index is based on 11 measurements of quality of life including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction. We made "life satisfaction" the cornerstone of our index because it is as good a proxy for "happiness" as the survey provides. We then compared "life satisfaction" scores to the other measurements to find those economic and socio-political realities that had the highest and lowest correlation to happiness.
- The Real Housewives of Wall Street Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs?
    As America girds itself for another round of lunatic political infighting over which barely-respirating social program or urgently necessary federal agency must have their budgets permanently sacrificed to the cause of billionaires being able to keep their third boats in the water, it's important to point out just how scarce money isn't in certain corners of the public-spending universe. In the coming months, when you watch Republican congressional stooges play out the desperate comedy of solving America's deficit problems by making fewer photocopies of proposed bills, or by taking an ax to budgetary shrubberies like NPR or the SEC, remember Christy Mack and her fancy new carriage house. There is no belt-tightening on the other side of the tracks. Just a free lunch that never ends.
- Sarah Palin: 'I Didn’t Mess Up' Paul Revere’s Story
    Palin attracted some attention last week during her bus tour up the Eastern seaboard for saying that Paul Revere actually warned the British and not the colonists ahead of the Revolutionary War. [FUNNY, yet SAD, NOTE: Palin supporters have been desperately trying to edit the Wikipedia entry for Paul Revere to correspond with Palin's rewriting of history: Sarah Palin Supporters Attempted To Edit Wikipedia Page On Paul Revere
- The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths
    The great writer Kurt Vonnegut titled his final book A Man without a Country. He was the man; the country was the United States of America. Vonnegut felt that his country had disappeared right under his – and the Constitution’s – feet, through what he called “the sleaziest, low-comedy Keystone Cops-style coup d’├ętat imaginable.” He was talking about the Bush administration. Were Vonnegut still alive in the post-Bush era, he would not have felt that his country had returned.



Sean