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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fascism in Greece • Pepper Spray Retailing • Insane Republicans • US Kills Kids • Climate Change, Meat Farming and the Spread of Disease • Pepper Spray Creator Decries Use on Protesters •

- Dead Afghan Kids Still Not Newsworthy
    On November 25, the New York Times reported--on page 12--that six children were killed in one attack in southern Afghanistan on November 23. This news was, as best I can tell, not reported on ABC, CBS, NBC or the PBS NewsHour.
    There were, on the other hand, several pieces about U.S. soldiers eating Thanksgiving dinners.
- The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy
    US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week...
    But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists.
- Mark Ames: Austerity & Fascism In Greece – The Real 1% Doctrine
    See the guy in the photo there, dangling an ax from his left hand? That’s Greece’s new “Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks” Makis Voridis captured back in the 1980s, when he led a fascist student group called “Student Alternative” at the University of Athens law school. It’s 1985, and Minister Voridis, dressed like some Kajagoogoo Nazi, is caught on camera patrolling the campus with his fellow fascists, hunting for suspected leftist students to bash. Voridis was booted out of law school that year, and sued by Greece’s National Association of Students for taking part in violent attacks on non-fascist law students.
    With all the propaganda we’ve been fed about Greece’s new “austerity” government being staffed by non-ideological “technocrats,” it may come as a surprise that fascists are now considered “technocrats” to the mainstream media and Western banking interests. Then again, history shows that fascists have always been favored by the 1-percenters to deliver the austerity medicine.
- Next Stop on the GOP Crazy Train: 'Newtsville'
    The respectful response of the media to the batshit-crazy statements one hears from the second-tier Republican candidates—candidates who occasionally rise to the first tier and then just as quickly sink down again, having never been serious contenders in the first place—is doing definite damage to this country. How many credulous Americans may have decided to shun the HPV vaccine for their daughters after hearing Bachmann’s nutty suggestion that it causes mental retardation? What of the insistence of that ignorant idiot Herman Cain that the “objective” purpose of Planned Parenthood’s founding was to “kill black babies before they came into the world. It’s planned genocide.” Now we’ve got a new front-runner, Gingrich, who holds, among other crazy notions, that the Obama administration’s “secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did,” when his diseased brain is not focusing on his moronic (and racist) contention that “only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together” the inspiration for Obama’s foreign policies.
- Pepper-Spray Creator Decries Use of Chemical Agent on Peaceful Occupy Wall Street Protesters
    We speak with Kamran Loghman, the expert who developed weapons-grade pepper-spray, who says he was shocked at how police have used the chemical agent on non-violent Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide
- Pepper-Spray Cop Begets Pepper-Spray Shopper
    First we had the Pepper-Spray Cop. Now we have the Pepper-Spray Shopper, an as-yet unidentified woman who allegedly sprayed open an avenue for herself amid crowds grasping for Black Friday bargains in an LA-area Walmart. Apparently, she needed an Xbox at half off.
    Of course, big box stores have long encouraged “competitive shopping.” After an employee was trampled to death at a Long Island Walmart on Black Friday in 2008, stores vowed to improve their crowd control. But they don’t advertise their sales with the words “door busters”—with that hint of drug-raid-level violence—for nothing. They know that hysteria can drive higher sales. It works so well that stores have been moving door busters back earlier and earlier, so that this year Black Friday at Walmarts across the country began on Thanksgiving night, forcing employees to work on the holiday in order to sow the itching powder of urgency among customers.
- Climate Change Boosts Lethal Hendra Virus
    Heavy rains and floods in Australia may have helped the deadly disease cross from bats to humans and that has doctors concerned about climate change
- Fukushima Radiation Risks "Severely Underestimated": Greenpeace
    Greenpeace today renewed its demand for the Japanese government to keep its nuclear reactors offline as simulation maps of potential accidents at Japan’s nuclear plants - used in the development of nuclear emergency response efforts - "are completely inadequate, and have not been updated since the Fukushima disaster."
- Ringling Brothers Agree To USDA Fine For Allegedly Violating Animal Welfare Act
    Life's no circus for the Ringling Brothers these days.The USDA announced Monday that an agreement was reached where Feld Entertainment, Inc., doing business as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (Feld), will pay a $270,000 fine for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
- Is the pet food you are serving up killing your four-legged friend? (and making your vet rich)
    Few people are aware of the little-publicized concerns about processed pet foods
- Scientists say Kenai Peninsula getting drier and warmer
    Climate change is taking place on the Kenai Peninsula, slowly but surely.
The victims the NYT Editors forgot
To justify the killing of Pakistani troops, the paper of record regrets all those killed by the war - except some
By Glenn Greenwald
Published Nov 29 2011 at Salon.com

The New York Times Editors chime in today on the border killing of two dozen Pakistani soldiers by the U.S., and offer up a formulaic both-sides-have-some-explaining-to-do sermon. It’s their first paragraph that is notable:
It’s not clear what led to NATO strikes on two Pakistani border posts this weekend, but there can be no dispute that the loss of lives is tragic. At least 24 Pakistani troops were killed. We regret those deaths, as we do those of all American, NATO and Afghan troops and Pakistani and Afghan civilians killed by extremists.
This opening from the pro-Afghan-War NYT Editors is meant to provide balance and justifying context to the deaths of these soldiers by pointing to the deaths caused by The Other Side: sure, it’s regrettable that these Pakistanis are dead, but let’s remember that it’s not just these soldiers who have been killed, but also “American, NATO and Afghan troops and Pakistani and Afghan civilians killed by extremists.” Therefore, the American war against these “extremists” (a war we’ve been supporting for more than a decade and still support as much as ever) is just despite this week’s little regrettable incident.


Except when constructing their general statement of regret for all those killed in the war they support, the NYT Editors forgot to mention one rather large category of victims: namely, “Pakistani and Afghan civilians killed” not “by extremists” but by the American military (unless, that is, they used “extremists” to refer to the invading U.S. army, which seems highly unlikely). That’s a particularly striking omission given that it was just this week that the United States extinguished the lives of six more Afghan children from the air. But it’s as though the NYT Editors can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge that it isn’t only the “extremists” but also their own country’s army, fighting a war they’ve long cheered, which regularly kills civilians. But that’s par for the media course: American war media narratives, as Ashleigh Banfield was demoted and then fired by NBC News back in 2003 for pointing out, specialize in erasing the existence of America’s war victims, and this is a perfect example of how that’s done.

Ongoing American killing of Pakistani civilians is a major cause of the tension between those two nations: that’s because governments and their citizenries tend not to like it and generally become quite angry when foreign nations kill their civilians (though there is one major exception to that rule when it comes to American citizens). America’s constant killing of numerous Afghan children independently inflames anti-American rage. If the NYT Editors are going to purport to provide context and balance to the conflict between the U.S. and Pakistan by listing (and expressing cursory regret for) all the killing beyond just this one border incident, perhaps they should include — rather than awkwardly ignore — this category of deaths (and those justifying the war in the name of what’s good for The Afghan People should also take that into account, along with polling data about what they actually think). It might also be good to start thinking about the cumulative effects of those ongoing civilian killings by the U.S. when deciding whether this war should continue even though Al Qaeda — the original justification for this war more than a decade ago — is, according to U.S. officials, “operationally ineffective” and virtually non-existent in that region.

Sean

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving as a Day of Atonement

- An Indian “prayer of thanks”
    This Thanksgiving, don’t call on me, as an American Indian, to offer up a prayer of thanks.

Thanksgiving as a Day of Atonement
by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez
Published on Thursday, November 24, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The founding myth of Thanksgiving is the fateful meal shared by the indigenous peoples of Massachusetts with the starving English Pilgrims. The Pilgrims “gave thanks” at that meal for the generosity of their hosts, and thus was born the tradition of a November Thanksgiving feast.

To my way of thinking, Thanksgiving should actually be a day of atonement marked by fasting, in the spirit of Yom Kippur, Lent or Ramadan.

We Euramericans should be reflecting and repenting on this day for the way our ancestors turned on their Native hosts, once the time of starvation was past.

We repaid their kind welcome with a shameful record of stealing, swindling, enslavement, displacement and deliberate infection.

We waged vicious war that slaughtered children and old people along with warriors both male and female.

We occupied their lands without a second thought, and proceeded to cut the primeval forests to make room for our livestock, roads and cities.

This pattern started with the Puritan Pilgrims in Massachusetts, and spread inexorably West, all the way to California and Texas, where indeed the brutal work had already been begun by the Spanish.

I don’t really expect Americans to give up the tradition of the jolly Thanksgiving feast.
But we do need to be mindful of the real historical background behind the custom of gathering to celebrate with family and friends.

American Thanksgiving is a holiday that honors the spirit of sharing the bounty. When we dig into that heaped plate today, we should be giving thanks to the rich Earth that has nourished human beings for millennia, and for the Native peoples of this continent, who learned how to live in harmony with the flora and fauna of this place, cultivating the first corn, beans and squash, and craftily culling the abundant indigenous turkeys.

And we should pause in our feast to reflect on the ignoble history that unfolded after that original Thanksgiving in Plymouth MA, where America repaid her hosts not with honor, but with persecution, scorn and hate.

In the act of repentance springs redemption.  The indigenous people of this continent are not gone–they are alive and well and living among us. Let us raise a glass to them today and give them the honor and thanks they deserve.

Sean

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Survey Finds Fox Viewers Less Informed than People Who Watch NO NEWS! • Police Abuse and Occupy and Fox "News" • Child Labor and Republicans • DOGS! • Climate Change • more

- Occupy Protesters 'Mic Check' Obama in New Hampshire video
    Occupy New Hampshire has confirmed that they were behind the mic check today of during Obama's speech at a Manchester high school.This is the full message Occupy protesters read to Obama: "Mr. President, Over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested. While Banksters continue to destroy the economy. You MUST stop the assault on our 1st amendment rights. Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable."
- Rich Nations 'Give Up' on New Climate Treaty Until 2020
    Governments of the world's richest countries have given up on forging a new treaty on climate change to take effect this decade, with potentially disastrous consequences for the environment through global warming.
- Occupy Seattle protester claims police caused her miscarriage
    A pregnant woman who was pepper sprayed during the Occupy Seattle protests in the US claims she had a miscarriage five days later as a result of injuries allegedly inflicted by the police.
- The roots of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying
    The now-viral video of police officers in their Robocop costumes sadistically pepper-spraying peaceful, sitting protesters at UC-Davis (details here) shows a police state in its pure form. It’s easy to be outraged by this incident as though it’s some sort of shocking aberration, but that is exactly what it is not. The Atlantic‘s Garance Franke-Ruta adeptly demonstrates with an assemblage of video how common such excessive police force has been in response to the Occupy protests. Along those lines, there are several points to note about this incident and what it reflects:
- Fox's Megyn Kelly: Pepper Spray Used On UC-Davis Protesters Is "A Food Product, Essentially"
    Fox "News" tries to downplay the attacks on Occupy protesters by peppe-spray-wielding cops by saying pepper spray is a food product.
- It's Time to Stop Lying to Students and Parents and Raise Our Educational Standards
    The US is essentially the only OECD country where our 25-35 year olds are less well educated than the 55-65 year olds.
- Why Iowa Wants to Make Farm Photos Illegal
    New video footage shot during an undercover investigation on an Iowa pig factory farm should be enough to make anyone who isn't profiting from the abuse of pigs swear off pork chops.
    The footage shot by Mercy for Animals shows similar abuses to those documented by PETA during investigations at pig farms in North Carolina and Iowa in 2007 and 2008. Workers are seen kicking piglets and hurling them across the room. The piglets have their tails cut off and testicles ripped out by hand, without being given any painkillers, and some piglets later die from herniated intestines.

    As is standard practice on factory farms, mother pigs are crammed into stalls so small that they cannot even turn around. Constant pregnancies leave the sows so weak and exhausted that they often suffer from prolapsed uteruses.

    A proposed "ag gag" ("gag" is appropriate, if you've seen the footage) bill in Iowa would make taking a photograph of or filming on a farm illegal, which would effectively keep anyone still eating meat from seeing what happens to pigs, chickens, and other animals every day of their lousy lives. PETA Vice President Dan Mathews has held news conferences in Iowa showing PETA's photos and video from Iowa farms, and his news conference in New York helped defeat a similar bill there. If you live in Iowa, please take a moment to urge your state senators to oppose HF 589.
- Simply Vegan
    My plate was full. It was one of those treacherous walks to the outside cookout table where I felt like a banana peel would suddenly appear on the ground and send my overflowing plate flying. Thanksgiving in July, if you will.
    A spinach salad with balsamic dressing, smoked potatoes, and a veggie burger piled high with its own buffet of toppings fought for their rightful place on my plate. You can imagine my surprise when a tablemate made the all-too-common remark, "It must be so hard being vegan."

    Judging by the weight of my plate, I obviously wasn't struggling for food. In fact, I rarely visit specialty health-food stores. I can get by just fine with a weekly trip to the local grocery store to round up all my vegan grub. The next time that you get the verbal vegan sympathy card, be sure to tell your friends how easy veganism is! Check out the following list of great (and cheap!) vegan staple foods that any grocery store is sure to carry:
- Dogs left at home alone 'as traumatised as children'
    Although many dog owners leave for work and lock their pets in the house without a second thought, evidence suggests the experience may be more traumatic than they realize.
- The motives of Bradley Manning
    The notion that [Manning's] reactions to wholly unjustified, massive blood-spilling is psychologically warped [as painted by the mainstream media] is itself warped. The reactions described there are psychologically healthy; it's far more psychologically disturbed not to have the reactions Manning had. There are countless people who knew from the start, or who ultimately concluded, that the Iraq War was an act of supreme barbarism. Many who so concluded -- especially among our political and media elite -- did nothing to stop it or bring accountability for those who caused it; Manning, by stark and commendable contrast, took action. Which is the psychologically suspect behavior? Manning was clearly motivated by the principle attributed by the New York article to Julian Assange, but espoused by countless heroic activists and philosophers throughout history: "Every time we witness an act that we feel to be unjust and do not act, we become a party to injustice."
- Medicare's Still Delivering After 45 Years; The Only Serious Threat to Its Future [Are Republicans]
    “On this anniversary that they should be celebrating, Republicans in Congress are working to privatize Medicare, cut benefits, and force seniors to buy insurance on their own,” Baldwin said Friday. “According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, under the Republican plan, most elderly people will pay more for medical care and get less than they do under Medicare. Not one dollar of that increase in beneficiary costs goes to reducing the deficit—it all goes to cover the higher costs of private plans that the Republicans would force seniors to join.”
- Ending Nuclear Evil
    We must not tolerate a system of nuclear apartheid, in which it is considered legitimate for some states to possess nuclear arms but patently unacceptable for others to seek to acquire them. Such a double standard is no basis for peace and security in the world. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is not a license for the five original nuclear powers to cling to these weapons indefinitely. The International Court of Justice has affirmed that they are legally obliged to negotiate in good faith for the complete elimination of their nuclear forces.
- What Michele Bachmann and Her Teapot 'Patriots' Do Not Know About America
    Bachmann has for some time peddled the notion that the nation’s founding fathers worked "tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." She is simply wrong about this.
- US Firm's Teargas Used Against Tahrir Square Protesters
    The teargas used by interior ministry troops in Cairo's Tahrir Square is supplied by a US company. Demonstrators say cartridges retrieved from the scene are branded with the name and address of Combined Systems Inc
- Republicans Want Child Labor!
    Repeatedly the republicans have attacked regulations that protect children. They have repeatedly said they would prefer to return to a time, like the late 1800s, where worker protection regulations didn't exist. Now they are trying to dismantle these regulations and asking that children be allowed to be used as labor.
- Unnecessary Force Used Against Occupy Movement with New Weapons

Survey: Fox News Viewers Less Informed Than Those Who Don’t Watch Any News
Published on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Democracy Now!

A new survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that viewers of Fox News are less informed about world events than people who do not watch any news. The study found viewers of Fox are 18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government six points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government compared to those who watch no news. Fairleigh Dickinson political science Professor Dan Cassino said, "The results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."

Sean

Friday, November 18, 2011

Extreme Weather due to Climate Change • Racists Denying Racism • Fox "News" Lies Again • more

- Extreme weather will strike as climate change takes hold, IPCC warns
    Extreme weather will strike as climate change takes hold, IPCC warnsHeavier rainfall, storms and droughts could wipe billions off economies and destroy lives, says report by 220 scientists
- From Shore to Forest, Projecting Effects of Climate Change
    These possibilities — modeled deep into this century — are detailed in a new assessment of the impact that climate change will have in New York State. If carbon emissions continue to increase at their current pace, for example, temperatures are expected to rise across the state by 3 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2020s and by as much as 9 degrees by the 2080s. That would have profound effects on agriculture across the state, the report found. For example, none of the varieties of apples currently grown in New York orchards would be viable. Dairy farms would be less productive as cows faced heat stress. And the state’s forests would be transformed; spruce-fir forests and alpine tundra would disappear as invasive species like kudzu, an aggressive weed, gained more ground.
- Explainer: How Did Inequality in America Get So Bad? And What Can the Government Do to Fix It?
    In one of the more odd recent pairings, both the wonks at the Congressional Budget Office and the activists occupying Wall Street and beyond have come to the same conclusion: inequality is skyrocketing and one percent of the country is taking home a bigger and bigger share of all the income in the country. The CBO just released a study, years in the making, which confirms that the income for the top one percent has nearly tripled from 1979 to 2007. And not only are those in the top one percent much richer, they also take home a larger share of the economy as a whole than they did thirty years ago.
- Wow. Fox Nation Claims Obama's Would-Be Assassin "Linked" To Occupy Protest
    Here's the stunningly dishonest headline:Man Linked To 'Occupy' Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama
    The striking part, of course, is that investigators have reportedly found no link between the man in question, Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, and the Occupy movement
- IRONY AWARD GOES TO FOX NEWS Fox Falsely Dubs Alleged White House Attacker As "'Occupy' Shooter", Implies that "Media" would go crazy if Attacker was tied to Tea Party
    Fox & Friends claimed that alleged White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez [who claims Obama is the Anti-Christ] had been "tied to [the] Occupy" movement, even calling him the "Occupy' shooter." In fact, investigators have reportedly "found no connection between him and the Occupy protesters."
- Tea Party Claims Obama is the Anti Christ

- Is Israel preparing an assault against Iran?
    The IAEA report on Iran's alleged nuclear programme was surrounded by a media frenzy in Israel supporting an attack.
- College Students, Blackface and How to Talk About Race
    Earlier this week, Colorlines’s Jorge Rivas flagged this troubling story from the University of Southern Mississippi:
        The University of Southern Mississippi confirmed on Monday that six students dressed in blackface for a costume party....Dean of Students Dr. Eddie Holloway, “it was also clear that they had little cultural awareness or competency, and did not understand the historical implication of costuming in blackface.”


    ...why is it so hard for (some) white college students to grasp the core prejudice and disrespect that comes with blackface? After asking friends about this, and their answers were illuminating.

    As one noted, part of this has to do with our national reluctance to engage race like adults. Public schools teach the basics of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and the civil rights movement, but there’s no attempt to go deeper with the material, and move away from the notion that racism is something reserved for the Bull Connors and Klansmen of the world. It’s not just that students leave history education with a skewed, and often benign, view of American apartheid (in my experience, Jim Crow is reduced to its cultural signifiers—there’s no attempt to deal with the reality of state-condoned terrorism against black Americans), but that they come away with the belief that racism is the sole province of bad people.

    In the minds of many white students, another friend pointed out, racism is something of a Platonic state. Racism isn’t expressed in behavior—if they themselves aren’t racist (meaning, if they believe that they aren’t racist), then none of their actions can be racist, even if they are clear demonstrations of racial prejudice. The flipside of this is a devotion to the idea of “colorblindness” as if racial disparities no longer exist. I’m sure that if you were to poll white university students, you’d find significant opposition to affirmative action, on the view any consideration of race is racist, even if you’re trying to adjust for past disparities.

    Challenging this—and providing students with a more sophisticated understanding of racial prejudice—is much harder than it might look.
- Dog Freezes to Death in Flight
    he last time that John and Julia Von Achen saw their beloved dog, J, alive, they were boarding a flight from Moscow to New York. When the Von Achens disembarked, they discovered that their dog had apparently frozen to death in the cargo hold during the 11-hour flight.
    "It seems the airlines are not equipped and they're not really set up to handle pets, but they take the money anyway," Van Achen said, adding, "I'll never fly with a pet again."

    J was far from the first dog to perish in a cargo hold, and he won't be the last.

Climate Change Will Worsen Extreme Weather
Changes in extreme weather will require governments to change how they cope with natural disasters, a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns

By Lauren Morello Friday, November 18, 2011 scientificamerican.com

 
Climate change is shifting weather extremes, increasing the frequency of drought and heat waves and the intensity of rainstorms -- changes that will require the world's governments to change how they cope with natural disasters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said today.

The report, written by more than 100 of the world's top scientists, recommends taking steps now to increase the world's ability to adapt and cope with climate extremes.

"The report finds much to be positive about, as far as the chance to make the world a better place at the same time we reduce risk and disaster losses," said Christopher Field, a Stanford University professor who leads the IPCC's working group on climate change impacts.

The key, according to the report, is to focus on what Field called "low-regret" strategies to help reduce future disaster risk while improving people's current livelihoods and well-being.
The report, the IPCC's first in-depth examination of extreme weather, was released in Kampala, Uganda, where researchers gathered this week to finalize their analysis.

IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri said he hoped governments gathering later this month in Durban, South Africa, for U.N. climate talks would pay heed to the report's conclusions.
"We need to sensitize the global community to the scientific reality of climate change, because therein lies the basis by which society can take action," Pachauri said. "If we do not give science the primacy it deserves ... I'm afraid you're not likely to get any action."

Tracking human-driven changes since the 1950s

The analysis describes wide-ranging changes in climate extremes since the middle of the last century, and says there is good evidence that some of those changes have been driven by human activities.

Those changes include an overall decrease in the number of cold days and nights, and an overall increase in the number of warm days and nights, worldwide -- a shift that researchers said was "very likely," which in IPCC terms signifies 99-100 percent confidence in that conclusion.

The report says it is "likely" -- or a 66-100 percent chance -- that human activities have contributed to that shift.

There have been "statistically significant" changes in the number of heavy precipitation events in some areas, with more areas experiencing increases than decreases.

Researchers say they have "medium confidence" that humans have influenced those changes, and "medium confidence" that parts of the world, including southern Europe and West Africa, have seen more intense and longer droughts. Other areas, like central North America and northwestern Australia, have seen droughts becomes less frequent, less intense or shorter.

Researchers say they have low confidence of any long-term shifts in hurricane and tornado activity, and there is sparse evidence available to determine whether climate change has altered the magnitude and frequency of flooding.

Those trends are likely to continue and intensify through the end of the century, [without efforts to cut the world's output of greenhouse gases], the report says.

It predicts "substantial warming" of temperature extremes by 2100, with the length, frequency and intensity of heat waves increasing over most land areas.

Extreme heat expected by century's end

Extreme heat now considered a 1-in-20-year event will occur every 1-2 years by the end of the century in most parts of the world. In high northern latitudes, such heat waves will occur every 1-5 years by 2100, the report says.

Very hot days now considered 1-in-20-year extremes will grow 1.8-5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by mid-century and 3.6-9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of the century.

The number of heavy rainfall events and the proportion of annual rainfall that falls during those events will also increase, the report says. Very rainy days that now occur once every 20 years will occur once every five to 15 years by the end of the century.

Even in places that appear likely to become drier as the planet warms, there is "medium confidence" that individual rainstorms will become more intense, the report says.

There is also "medium confidence" that droughts will grow more severe in a broad swath of the globe, including southern and central Europe, the Mediterranean, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.

Hurricanes' average maximum winds will grow stronger in many ocean basins, although the number of storms will remain steady or decrease slightly. That change in wind speed, coupled with a "very likely" increase in average sea level, is a concern for small tropical island nations, the report says.

The analysis also says there is "high confidence" that changing rainfall and temperature extremes will increase the likelihood of landslides in high mountain regions and flooding caused by the rapid release of glacial meltwater from mountain glaciers.

Scientists are less certain about climate change-driven shifts in flooding and natural climate patterns like El NiƱo, the report says.

Sean

Thursday, November 17, 2011

High Veg Diets Fight Depression • Climate Change Deniers Finally Admit Climate Change is Real • Republicans Denying American's the Right to Vote • Mega-Rich Don't Pay Taxes

- High-Veg Diet Fights Depression
    A new study has found that people who abide by a plant-rich diet are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
- Stop pretending it’s not climate change
    The fact is: Human-caused climate change has increased the odds of extreme, even unprecedented weather events. Senior scientist Jerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) puts it this way, “Just as steroids make a baseball player stronger, and increase his chances of hitting home runs, greenhouse gases are the steroids of the climate system.” So in the case of climate, the extra juice (greenhouse gases, not performance-enhancing drugs) doesn’t result in more home runs but in the greater likelihood that heat waves and other forms of extreme weather will occur.Climate scientists have long warned that if we continue to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas as our dominant source of energy, the planet will warm, extreme events will increase, and we will become more vulnerable to disasters.
    The media often avoids making the connection between weather and climate change — and while weather coverage has dominated the headlines all year, these climate facts go largely unmentioned. For example, last August the New York Times ran a gripping piece on the intense drought that plagued 14 states along America’s southern tier. The story put a human face on the economic toll of this slowly unfolding disaster. However, when it came to providing readers with a deeper understanding of the shifting dynamics of drought, the reporters neglected the elephant in the room – climate change.
- Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases
    The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.
    The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.
    It is a "monster" increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past.
- "Fair And Balanced?" Fox & Friends Outraged Students Will Hear From Anti-War Groups As Well As Military
    Fox & Friends, whose network's slogan is "Fair and Balanced," today attacked a school board for allowing anti-war groups to speak to high school students alongside military recruiters.
- New State Rules Raising Hurdles at Voting Booth
    Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, cutting back early voting periods or imposing new restrictions on voter registration drives.
- Restrictions Could Keep Five Million Traditionally Democratic Voters From The Polls In 2012
    Restrictive voting laws in states across the country could affect up to five million voters from traditionally Democratic demographics in 2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center. That’s a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.
    The new restrictions, the study found, “fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election.”
- Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010
    A comprehensive new study that profiles 280 of America’s most profitable companies finds that 78 of them paid no federal income tax in at least one of the last three years. Thirty companies enjoyed a negative income tax rate over the three year period, despite combined pre-tax profits of $160 billion.
- Bill Moyers on a Democracy in Shambles: "Money First, People Second... If At All" video
    Keynote Address at Public Citizen's 40th Anniversary Gala

The Scientific Finding that Settles the Climate-Change Debate
By Eugene Robinson
Published October 24 in the Washington Post

For the clueless or cynical diehards who deny global warming, it’s getting awfully cold out there.

The latest icy blast of reality comes from an eminent scientist whom the climate-change skeptics once lauded as one of their own. Richard Muller, a respected physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, used to dismiss alarmist climate research as being “polluted by political and activist frenzy.” Frustrated at what he considered shoddy science, Muller launched his own comprehensive study to set the record straight. Instead, the record set him straight.

“Global warming is real,” Muller wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal.
Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the neo-Luddites who are turning the GOP into the anti-science party should pay attention.

“When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that.”

In other words, the deniers’ claims about the alleged sloppiness or fraudulence of climate science are wrong. Muller’s team, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, rigorously explored the specific objections raised by skeptics — and found them groundless.
Muller and his fellow researchers examined an enormous data set of observed temperatures from monitoring stations around the world and concluded that the average land temperature has risen 1 degree Celsius — or about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit — since the mid-1950s.

This agrees with the increase estimated by the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Muller’s figures also conform with the estimates of those British and American researchers whose catty e-mails were the basis for the alleged “Climategate” scandal, which was never a scandal in the first place.

The Berkeley group’s research even confirms the infamous “hockey stick” graph — showing a sharp recent temperature rise — that Muller once snarkily called “the poster child of the global warming community.” Muller’s new graph isn’t just similar, it’s identical.

Muller found that skeptics are wrong when they claim that a “heat island” effect from urbanization is skewing average temperature readings; monitoring instruments in rural areas show rapid warming, too. He found that skeptics are wrong to base their arguments on the fact that records from some sites seem to indicate a cooling trend, since records from at least twice as many sites clearly indicate warming. And he found that skeptics are wrong to accuse climate scientists of cherry-picking the data, since the readings that are often omitted — because they are judged unreliable — show the same warming trend.

Muller and his colleagues examined five times as many temperature readings as did other researchers — a total of 1.6 billion records — and now have put that merged database online. The results have not yet been subjected to peer review, so technically they are still preliminary. But Muller’s plain-spoken admonition that “you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer” has reduced many deniers to incoherent grumbling or stunned silence.

Not so, I predict, with the blowhards such as Perry, Cain and Bachmann, who, out of ignorance or perceived self-interest, are willing to play politics with the Earth’s future. They may concede that warming is taking place, but they call it a natural phenomenon and deny that human activity is the cause.

It is true that Muller made no attempt to ascertain “how much of the warming is due to humans.” Still, the Berkeley group’s work should help lead all but the dimmest policymakers to the overwhelmingly probable answer.

We know that the rise in temperatures over the past five decades is abrupt and very large. We know it is consistent with models developed by other climate researchers that posit greenhouse gas emissions - the burning of fossil fuels by humans — as the cause. And now we know, thanks to Muller, that those other scientists have been both careful and honorable in their work.

Nobody’s fudging the numbers. Nobody’s manipulating data to win research grants, as Perry claims, or making an undue fuss over a “naturally occurring” warm-up, as Bachmann alleges. Contrary to what Cain says, the science is real.

It is the know-nothing politicians - not scientists - who are committing an unforgivable fraud.

Sean

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fox "News" Lies about Occupy Wall Street • Discovery Channel (US cable channel) Refuses to Air Climate Change Documentary Aired in UK • Fox "News" Inspires Right Wing Terrorists • Racist Republicans • Republicans Disenfranchise Voters

- A Guide To The Smear Campaign Against Occupy Wall Street
    The right-wing media have engaged in a relentless smear campaign against the Occupy Wall Street movement, including calling the protesters socialists and Marxists, saying they represent the "fringe of the fringe of the fringe," and claiming they "sound like the Unabomber," among other attacks.
- Whitewash: Fox Host Tries To Dismiss "Fox News Lies" Chants
    Following a live report from New York City's Zuccotti Park in which protesters chanted "Fox News lies," Fox Business host Gerri Willis claimed that Fox is simply "trying to cover the story just like everybody else." However, Fox hosts and contributors have pushed lies, smears, and attacks about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
- Occupy Wall Street protesters have a point
    The vast majority of Americans understand that our economic system is rigged. According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 76 percent of people agreed that America’s economic system favors a small group of rich folks over everyone else, and the government should reduce the power of the big banks and corporations. And a recent New York Times/CBS poll showed that 66 percent of the American public believes that “the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed.”That’s what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about. It’s about bringing economic fairness to America so that we can live up to our claim of being the land of opportunity.
- Discovery Channel To Cut Climate Change Episode From Groundbreaking Series
    For the past few weeks, we've had to wait patiently while our friends across the Atlantic enjoy the BBC's seven-part Frozen Planet series on life at the poles, which won't air in the U.S. until the new year.
    Series narrator Sir David Attenborough, who has previously been reluctant to discuss the human environmental footprint in his films, spends the final episode "on location, talking to the camera in his own measured words about shrinking glaciers, warming oceans and the threat posed by man-made global warming," according to The Guardian.

    But now we learn that after earning "massive ratings" from Planet Earth and collaborating with BBC to produce the sequel, the Discovery Channel will not air the climate change episode of Frozen Planet in the U.S.
- Fire the Guy! video
    New York videographer and activist Joey Boots was filming down at Zuccotti Park when one of the stone-faced Brookfield Properties guards - evidently unfamiliar with the concept of "film" ie: "documentation" - decided to enliven the conversation by randomly hurling an epithet. Now a lot of people are looking to I.D. - ie: fire - the guy.
- Georgia Terrorism Suspects Allegedly Wanted To Make Fox Expert's Blood-Soaked Novel A Reality
    Four alleged members of a Georgia militia group were arrested yesterday relating to their alleged plot to kill numerous government officials. According to the complaint, one of the arrested repeatedly cited as the source of their plan the novel Absolved, authored by Fox News expert Mike Vanderboegh, the former militia member famous for urging his blog readers to hurl bricks through the windows of Democratic offices.
- Republicans Launch Surprise Attack on Race-Based Scholarships in the Wee Hours
    Democratic assembly member Mark Pocan, filibustering, said: “Stand up and explain why you think bigotry in the year 2011 makes sense!”

    Before dropping a bomb on race-based scholarships, Wis. Republicans in the state assembly debated and voted on several other contentious bills late into the evening of Nov. 1. These included a “landlords’ rights” bill that prohibits local units of governments from establishing their own fair housing ordinances, a bill to reduce the amount of education required to be a school nurse, another one to allow school districts to discriminate against anyone with a felony conviction on their record whether or not the offense had anything to do with the job for which they are applying.
- The Wall Street Journal newspaper Ignores Evidence That GOP War On Voting Could Disenfranchise Millions
    The [Right leaning] Wall Street Journal ignored evidence that newly passed restrictions on voting rights could make it more difficult for millions of eligible voters to vote in 2012, while letting former Bush DOJ official Hans von Spakovsky claim there is "no evidence" those restrictions could suppress voting. The Brennan Center for Justice estimated that changes to voting laws could suppress up to five million votes during the 2012 elections.
- Europe Bans X-Ray Body Scanners Used at U.S. Airports
    The European Union on Monday prohibited the use of X-ray body scanners in European airports, parting ways with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which has deployed hundreds of the scanners as a way to screen millions of airline passengers for explosives hidden under clothing.

- Keith’s Special Comment: Why Occupy Wall Street needs Michael Bloomberg
    In a Special Comment, Keith contextualizes Mayor Bloomberg’s actions against Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park and how they have – unintentionally – vaulted the movement from a local nuisance to a global platform for the disenfranchised.


Sean

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy Wall Street • Police Brutality • Fracking Causing Quakes • Climate Change • Media Ignores Climate Change • Idiot Republicans • Citizens United • more

- Occupy Wall Street: Another world is possible
    Obama's rightward shift since taking office has alienated many former supporters, helping to fuel the 'Occupy' movement.
- Police brutality charges sweep across the US
    From Naomi Wolf's arrest in New York to shootings in Tucson and Florida, forces face allegations of abuse of power
- Why Occupy Wall Street?
    The protesters seeking to “occupy” the financial district in New York and other cities have been widely depicted in the media as having no coherent rationale for their protests. In fact, though, these protesters have chosen the right target: a set of institutions and actors who not only played a central role in creating the financial crisis, but have worked to foster a more unequal U.S. economy and democracy over recent decades – with the effect of undermining America’s middle class.
- What Is Occupy Wall Street About? VIDEO
    If you’re having trouble understanding what’s driving the “Occupy” protests, here are some numbers that help explain what’s at stake and why the new movement against economic inequality is growing so rapidly. The video is courtesy of the new solidarity group Occupy Animators.
- Yes, Virginia, There Is Income Inequality—Will the Supercommittee Admit It?
    A dramatic study released today shows income inequality in the United States is on a furious upward trajectory: since the late 1970s, the top one percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income. From 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent—and the top one-fifth now receives more income than the other four-fifths of the population. Meanwhile, people in the middle three-fifths of the population saw their shares of after-tax income decline by two or three percentage points.The study’s results are dramatic, though certainly have been studied and noted before. But what adds juice is who conducted the study—it was released today in the heat of the Occupy Wall Street movement by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, after years of work.
- Three-Eyed Fish Caught Near Argentinian Nuclear Power Plant
    In an episode of The Simpsons, nuclear power plant owner Mr. Burns tries to justify the existence of Blinky, a three-eyed fish caught in the local river, by saying it is the next step in evolution and not a horrible mutation. Strangely though, he refuses to eat Blinky when it is served to him — we’re not surprised. But while Blinky is the product of a fictional cartoon, this three-eyed fish caught nearby a nuclear facility in Argentina, is not.
- Fracking 'probable' cause of Lancashire quakes
    Controversial 'fracking' technique to extract gas from the ground was the 'highly probable' cause of earth tremors, report finds
- CBS, ABC Joke About Global Warming’s Effect on Coffee. When Will The Media Start Talking Seriously About Food Security?
    Back in March I wrote about Peak Arabica Coffee: Top coffee scientist warns, “Coffee production is under threat from global warming.” I ran this chart:Seven months later, Big Media grabbed the story when Starbucks started talking up the threat. Good Morning America and the CBS Early Show both did segments on it.
    Characteristically, though, both networks treated the story mostly as a source for levity. And you’d be hard-pressed to find them given equal time to the far more consequential, far more serious, impact of climate change on global food prices and supply
- Extreme weather pushes up food prices - and unrest?
    This past year the world has witnessed a spike in food prices, which some experts believe correlate with the rising number of developing countries experiencing societal unrest.“Climate change increases the probability of extreme weather, which is likely to result in increased scarcity of food, land and water and access to other resources,” said Rob Bailey, an energy, environment and development expert at Chatham House, a London-based international affairs organization.
    Where vital resources are scarce, there will be “conditions for conflict,” he said in a telephone interview.
- Fox "News" Sean Hannity Attacks Obama For Noting Republicans Are Anti-Environment
    Fox News' Sean Hannity has spent the past week attacking President Obama over what Hannity called Obama's "incendiary language," because Obama said Republicans want "dirtier air, dirtier water." But Obama is right in that Republicans have repeatedly voted to weaken pollution limits this year.
- Daily Show: TV Media Ignore "The Debunking Of Climategate" video
    On last night's episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart highlighted the media's failure to cover the results of a new study debunking the myths of the so-called "Climategate" controversy. Earlier this week, we pointed out that, aside from one brief mention on CNN, major television news outlets have ignored the new study. These same outlets previously fueled baseless claims that scientists doctored data to exaggerate global warming.
- Trees not adapting well to climate change
    More than half of tree species in eastern U.S. forests aren't adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted, researchers said.
- Myles Allen and Guardian Must Retract Phony Quote on Al Gore’s Views of Link Between Climate Change and Weather
    Myles Allen, with the complicity of the UK’s Guardian, has put words into Al Gore’s mouth in order to attack the Nobel-Prize winning former Vice President. What makes this attack a particularly egregious breach of journalism is that Allen and the Guardian could have avoided it had they spent even 30 seconds reading their own damn links.
- Republican Presidential Nominee (and former front runner) Rick Perry officials spark revolt after doctoring environment report
    Officials in Rick Perry's home state of Texas have set off a scientists' revolt after purging mentions of climate change and sea-level rise from what was supposed to be a landmark environmental report. The scientists said they were disowning the report on the state of Galveston Bay because of political interference and censorship from Perry appointees at the state's environmental agency.
- Perry: 'We Fought the Revolution In the 16th Century' video
    Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry says debates aren't his strong suit, but apparently history isn't either.Speaking at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity on Dartmouth College's campus after Tuesday night's The Washington Post/Bloomberg presidential debate, Perry missed the date of the American Revolution by about 200 years.
- Fallout forensics hike radiation toll
    The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant.
- Are regulations killing US jobs? NO!
    Politicians pushing right-wing positions in public debate now operate with the assumption that they can get away with saying anything without getting serious scrutiny from the media.That is why right-wing politicians repeatedly blame government regulation for the failure of the economy to generate jobs. Even though there is no truth whatsoever to the claim, right-wing politicians know that the media will treat their nonsense respectfully in news coverage.
- No Such Thing as Liberal Media
    ...the Pew study found that Mr. Perry received the greatest proportion of positive coverage of any candidate May 2 through Oct. 9. The recipient of the greatest proportion of negative coverage was President Obama.
- Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation is spreading errors
    The former chancellor is an avowed climate sceptic - and the 'facts' he repeats are demonstrably inaccurate
- Urban Heat Island – Favorite Skeptic Myth Debunked Again, This Time By Koch-Funded Science
    Climate skeptics are once again proven wrong, and this time even Koch money can't skew the facts.
- The pipeline of 'poison'
    The aftermath of a tar sands oil spill in Michigan has left a community with sickness, anger, and loss of livelihood.One cause for concern among opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline is its potential to leak into and damage the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies 78 per cent of the public water supply in Nebraska and one-third of all the water used for irrigation in the US.
- ANALYSIS: Obama plan helping those with pre-existing health conditions
    One of the reasons the number of Americans without insurance has increased to more than 50 million is because it has been perfectly legal for insurance companies to refuse to sell coverage to people who have been sick in the past. This includes those who were born with birth defects or who were diagnosed with chronic illnesses when they were children. In fact, many parents have learned that they could not add a child to a family policy because the child had been treated for a condition that was on their insurer’s automatic denial list.Fortunately, ObamaCare already is forcing insurers to change their business practices.
- U.S. Glossed Over Cancer Concerns Associated with Airport X-Ray Scanners
    Experts say the dose from the backscatter is negligible when compared with naturally occurring background radiation, but a linear model shows even such trivial amounts increase the number of cancer casesmpre
- The Story of Citizens United
    I must point out that republicans usually universally support Citizens United (as do republican politicians and pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News", etc). So the claim made in this vide that republicans are upset over this, along with liberals, is more wishful thinking than reality.

Sean