Posts Tagged ‘copenhagen’

RIGHTWING PROPAGANDA, RUBBERBAND BALLS

January 7, 2010

Celebrating Cronkite While Ignoring What He Did

GET A NEWSPAPER?

We are fools to allow corporations like FOX, or subversive rightwing billionaires like Pete Peterson and Rupert Murdoch to determine our national information policy, control our public airways, and own our means of civic communication.  We are fools to allow them to continue to distort our national consciousness, or to interfere with our right to meet and discuss and decide as a unified national community.  We are fools to allow them to keep us ignorant and apart. 

Peterson and Murdoch are propagandistic liars, and consistently anti-American.  The co-opted cowardice of all the so-called “real” (read “infotainment”) news organizations, including the major television networks, convinces me that we need a reformed public ownership of uncensored airwaves, subject to strong democratic citizen oversight.

Here’s the latest outrage, hitting newspapers this time:

Conservative Mogul Buying Up Reporters to Promote His Regressive Agenda By William Greider, The Nation.

Pete Peterson, the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security, has created a “news network” hooked up to the Washington Post.

He’s baaack — the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security. This time, Pete Peterson has invented his own “news network” to promote his right-wing rants about shrinking the only retirement security system available to millions of working people. Peterson styles himself as a patriot saving the nation from fiscal insolvency and has committed $1 billion to that cause (a chunk of the wealth he accumulated at Blackstone Group, the notorious corporate-takeover firm). His efforts might be dismissed as ludicrous — except money does talk in Washington, and Peterson is now buying Washington reporters to spread his dire warnings.

The retired mogul has created a digital news agency he dubs “The Fiscal Times” and hired eight seasoned reporters to do the work there. “An impressive group of veteran journalists,” Peterson calls them. I hope they have shaken a lot of money out of this rich geezer. Because I predict doing hack work for him will seriously soil their reputations for objectivity and independence.

With his great wealth, Peterson could have also bought a newspaper to publish his dispatches, but he did better than that. He hooked up with the Washington Post, which has agreed to “jointly produce content focusing on the budget and fiscal issues.” (This media scandal was first uncovered by economist Dean Baker.) The newspaper is thus compromising its own integrity. It’s like buying political propaganda from a Washington lobbyist, then printing it in the news columns as if it was just another news story. Shame on the Post, my old newspaper. I predict a big stink like the one that greeted the Post when its publisher decided to hold pay-for-access “salons” for corporate biggies.

The first TFT “dispatch” to appear in the Post — “Support grows for tackling nation’s debt” — made no mention of Peterson’s crusade. But it featured the same devious gimmick the financier has been peddling around Washington. Congress should create a special commission of eighteen senators and representatives empowered to to make the “tough” budget decisions politicians are loathe to face — slashing benefits, raising payroll taxes or both. Other members of Congress would be prohibited from changing any of the particular measures, and would cast only an up-or-down vote on the entire package, no amendments allowed.

Supposedly, this would give them political cover. Look, no hands. We just cut Social Security but it wasn’t our fault.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/media/144961/conservative_mogul_buying_up_reporters_to_promote_his_regressive_agenda

HERE WE GO AGAIN?

A visionary approach committed to the fight against climate chaos would use power to dramatically re-engineer failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs, instead of leaving industry unchanged.  Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.

Imagine if the three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision.  By the time Copenhagen rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.

What will happen as the Democrats face the employment crisis?

Jobs: The One Issue That Can Sink Democrats in November By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog.

If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

Just about everything you’ll hear coming out of Washington starting now is really about November’s mid-term election. The gravitational pull of the midterms was already apparent last year, as Republicans marched in perfect lockstep to vote against whatever the President and Democrats proposed (Republicans always have authoritarian discipline on their side, which is why they’re Republicans), but you haven’t seen anything yet.

The Democrats have enough votes to enact health care — the hurdle Bill Clinton failed to jump, contributing to the Republican takeover in 1994 — but when it’s enacted, expect the spin machines on both sides to be at full throttle. And because health care legislation won’t be implemented for another three or four years (depending whether the House or Senate versions prevail), Americans won’t be able to test the veracity of these wildly divergent claims. So don’t count on health reform to help Dems next November — nor harm them, either.

Foreign policy is just as unlikely to tip the scales. Sad to say, absent a draft most American families will read about American deaths in Afghanistan much the way they’ve absorbed the U.S. body count in Iraq — as news items rather than personal tragedies. Nor will Iran’s nuclear capabilities, North Korea’s missile launches, Pakistan’s tumult, or Yemen’s terrorists have much electoral effect — unless terrorists commit an atrocity in America or on American travelers. Needless to say, China’s decision about whether and how much to revalue its currency, although important, will affect the votes of about three Americans (and I think I know all of them).

Issue Number One — the overriding concern that will determine more than anything how many seats the Democrats lose next fall — is jobs. If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

But why would employment be 10 percent or above next November? Surely, you say, there are enough signs of recovery that we can count on a lower rate. Don’t be so sure. Here are likely scenarios, with my probabilities:  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/144954/jobs%3A_the_one_issue_that_can_sink_democrats_in_november

GOT A JOB?

 

Joel Waul, 28, climbs on top of his rubber band ball on the driveway of his home in Lauderhill, Fla., Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. Waul, a 27-year-old who works nights restocking a Gap clothing store, has spent the last six years carefully wrapping and linking and stretching rubber bands of various sizes into the ball shape. The Guinness Book of World Records declared it the world’s largest rubber band ball in 2008. Photo/Alan Diaz

Which brings up the basic question: Why? 

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OBAMA’S FIRST REPORT CARD

December 21, 2009
 
For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big To Blow by Naomi Klein The Nation 
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China’s fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn’t use it. Barack Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.
(The “deal” that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world’s biggest emitters. No President since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn’t threaten the stability of life on this planet. Obama has refused to use each and every one of them. Let’s look at the big three.
Blown Opportunity Number 1: The Stimulus Package When Obama came to office he had a free hand and a blank check to design a spending package to stimulate the economy. He could have used that power to fashion what many were calling a “Green New Deal” — instead, he reached across the aisle to Republicans, low-balled the size of the stimulus and blew much of it on tax cuts. Highways that perpetuate car culture won big.
Blown Opportunity Number 2: The Auto Bailouts A visionary Obama committed to the fight against climate chaos would obviously have used that power to dramatically reengineer the failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs. Instead Obama was down-sizer in chief, leaving the industry unchanged.
Blown Opportunity Number 3: The Bank Bailouts Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.
Imagine if these three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision.
By the time Copenhagen had rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.
Few U.S. Presidents have squandered as many once-in-a-generation opportunities as Barack Obama. The Copenhagen failure largely belongs to him.
Research support by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. © 2009 The Nation
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Visit www.naomiklein.org. READ MORE:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/21-11
Senate Health Care Bill Built on Obama’s Broken Promises by Jon Walker FireDogLake
Ezra Klein is trying to make the absurd claim that this Senate bill closely resembles Obama’s campaign promises on health care reform:
The health-care bill that looks likely to clear the Senate this week is not very close to the health-care bill most liberals want. But it is very close to the health-care bill that Barack Obama promised.
This claim, I feel, is just not based in reality. The following is a list of all the promises broken: READ MORE:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/12/21-9
Dear Barack, Spare Me Your E-Mails By Robert Scheer, Truthdig.
Barack Obama’s faux populism is beginning to grate, and when yet another one of those “we the people” e-mails from the president landed on my screen as I was fishing around for a column subject, I came unglued. It is one thing to rob us blind by rewarding the power elite that created our problems but quite another to sugarcoat it in the rhetoric of a David taking on those Goliaths.
In each of the three most important areas of policy with which he has dealt, Obama speaks in the voice of the little people’s champion, but his actions cater fully to the demands of the most powerful economic interests.  READ MORE:
http://www.alternet.org/politics/144500/dear_barack%2C_spare_me_your_e-mails
I think Obama should have to get Michelle, and the girls, to sign his report card, don’t you?

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

December 11, 2009
 

 

 

WHY?

Word is that jobs – employment – and the economy are the priority.  Global warming and climate change must take a back seat.  However, one isn’t exclusive of the other.  The two are compatible and complementary.

For example, make every roof in the United States white.  Spend bailout money for labor and materials to Re-roof the Nation, changing every single dark-roofed structure in the country, using ONLY U.S. manufactured materials and union family-wage labor.  This simple action will  significantly lower the planetary temperature, and start the nation moving on the rehabilatation and restoration of our environment.

Get real.  Quit subsidizing the poisonous consumer culture.  Why do we support a consumption-based capitalist system?  Why are there no options to lifetime indenture to a corporate behemoth?  Why are we dutifully trudging forward on a downward path to oblivion?  Why are we giving up, surrendering individuality, self-sufficiency, and independent living for a voluntary enslavement to a destructive ethos that is killing the planet?

Why are our leaders so clueless?  The facts are plain, the evidence overwhelming, and the results self-evident before our very eyes.  We’ve flunked any “stewardship of the earth” test in favor of an “eat everything in sight” survival panic.  So we overgraze our range.  Starvation will finally depopulate our habitat.  Climate change will cleanse it via our extinction.  Hopefully, tenacious life will find a new way with a new shepherd who truly minds the flock, instead of one whose only thought is to fleece and eat it.  JL/12-09 

Zinn’s ‘People’s History’ Masterwork Hits the History Channel By Dave Zirin, AlterNet.

Don’t miss Howard Zinn’s ‘Voices of a People’s History’ debut on the History Channel on December 13th.

On December 13th, a date I’ve basically had tattooed on my arm like the guy from Memento, The People Speak finally makes its debut on the History Channel. This is more than just must-see-TV. It is nothing less than the life’s work of “people’s historian” Howard Zinn brought to life by some of the most talented actors, musicians, and poets in the country. Howard Zinn and his partner Anthony Arnove chose the most stirring political passages in Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States, creating a written anthology called Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Those “voices” have now been fully resurrected by a collection of performers ranging from Matt Damon to hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco to poet Staceyann Chin.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/rights/144486/zinn%27s_%27people%27s_history%27_masterwork_hits_the_history_channel

Dear Barack, Spare Me Your E-Mails By Robert Scheer, Truthdig.

Barack Obama’s faux populism is beginning to grate, and when yet another one of those “we the people” e-mails from the president landed on my screen as I was fishing around for a column subject, I came unglued. It is one thing to rob us blind by rewarding the power elite that created our problems but quite another to sugarcoat it in the rhetoric of a David taking on those Goliaths.

In each of the three most important areas of policy with which he has dealt, Obama speaks in the voice of the little people’s champion, but his actions cater fully to the demands of the most powerful economic interests.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/politics/144500/dear_barack%2C_spare_me_your_e-mails

Supreme Court’s Ruling Would Allow Bin Laden to Donate to Sarah Palin’s Presidential Campaign By Greg Palast, AlterNet.

I’m biting my nails waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling in ‘Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission’ — here’s why you should be too.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which could come down as early as Tuesday, at issue: whether corporations, as “unnatural persons,” can make contributions to political campaigns.

The outcome is foregone: the five GOP appointees to the court are expected to use the case to junk federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers.

Technically, there’s a narrower matter before the court in this case: whether the McCain-Feingold Act may prohibit corporations from funding “independent” campaign advertisements such as the “Swift Boat” ads that smeared John Kerry. However, campaign finance reformers are steeling themselves for the court’s right wing to go much further, knocking down all longstanding rules against donations by corporate treasuries.

Allowing company campaign spending will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that’s already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and “bundling” of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.

The court’s expected decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/rights/144502/supreme_court%27s_ruling_would_allow_bin_laden_to_donate_to_sarah_palin%27s_presidential_campaign

Center Goes to Copenhagen — Watch Footage and Check Out Our Blog

This week, the Center for Biological Diversity is at the center of the action in Copenhagen for the United Nations global warming talks, taking a stand for our climate and broadcasting the dire need for President Barack Obama to promote an agreement that will prevent climate catastrophe. On Tuesday, we released a report showing that Obama has clear legal authority — not to mention the obligation — to commit the United States to meaningful greenhouse gas pollution reductions without waiting for Congress to act, and without paying heed to the grossly inadequate cap-and-trade bill currently under debate. The Center’s Climate Law Institute Director Kassie Siegel spoke alongside other legal and policy experts on how Obama can and must return the United States to a position of global leadership on climate change before it’s too late.

Siegel, Senior Attorney Vera Pardee, and Public Lands Director Brendan Cummings are bringing us exciting daily reports and photos from the scene.

Check out this video in a New York Times blog and read the Center’s Copenhagen blog, full of photos, more video footage, a slideshow, and daily updates on the most important global negotiations of our time. And check back in tomorrow, when Siegel will give a Copenhagen briefing to bloggers and online media around the world.

Victory is a state of mind.

PUBLIC ENEMIES 1 and 2

December 9, 2009

BILLIONAIRE BASTARDS:

Meet the Billionaire Brothers Funding the Right-Wing War on Obama, Think Progress. by Faiz Shakir, et al.

They’re the 9th richest people in America and they’re pushing hard to upend President Obama’s progressive agenda.

Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch are the wealthiest, and perhaps most effective, opponents of President Obama’s progressive agenda. They loom in the background of every major domestic policy dispute this year. Ranked as the 9th richest men in America, the Koch brothers sit at the helm of Koch Industries, a massive privately owned conglomerate of manufacturing, oil, gas, and timber interests. David and Charles are also responsible for a vicious attack campaign aimed directly at obstructing and killing progressive reform. Over the years, millions of dollars in Koch money has flowed to various right-wing think tanks, front groups, and publications. At the dawn of the Obama presidency, Koch groups launched television and radio ads deriding the recovery stimulus package as simply “pork” spending. The Cato Institute — founded by Charles — as well as other Koch-funded think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, produced a blizzard of reports distorting the stimulus and calling for a return to Bush-style tax cuts to combat the recession. David’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP) placed calls and helped organize the very first “tea party” protests. AFP, founded in 1984 by David and managed by astroturf lobbyist Tim Phillips, mobilized “tea party” opposition to health reform, clean energy legislation, and financial regulations.

STOPPING CLEAN ENERGY: David Koch presents himself as a champion of science. Nevertheless, Koch has done more to undermine the public’s understanding of climate change science than any other person in America. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, funded by Koch, wages an underhanded campaign to falsely charge that a set of hacked e-mails unravels the scientific consensus that global warming is real. Despite the brothers’ extravagant wealth, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity has run populist ads mocking environmentalists as spoiled brats. Koch Industries has spent nearly $9 million dollars so far to misinform the public on climate change legislation. Koch-funded operatives attempted to crash the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this week, and may succeed in scuttling any prospect for addressing climate change.

STOPPING HEALTH REFORM: Much of the fierce opposition to health reform can be credited to the Kochs. Their Patients United has blanketed the country with ads distorting provisions of the health reform legislation, particularly the public option. Koch groups foster extremism. A speaker with the Patients United bus tour compared health reform to the Holocaust while an eight-by-five foot banner at AFP health care rallies read, “National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany” superimposed over corpses from a concentration camp. AFP channeled anger into Democratic healthcare town halls in August. It wasn’t the first time Koch groups helped hijack the health reform debate. In 1994, Americans for Prosperity, then known as Citizens for a Sound Economy, worked closely with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to bring mobs of angry men to health reform rallies [to intimidate] then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.

A LONG HISTORY OF STOPPING PROGRESS: The Koch brothers clearly have a financial stake in blocking reform. Koch Industry oil refineries are major carbon dioxide polluters, and Georgia-Pacific, a Koch Industries timber subsidiary, is one of the largest contributors to the loss of carbon-sink capacity. According to the EPA, Koch Industries is responsible for over 300 oil spills in the U.S. and has leaked three million gallons of crude oil into fisheries and drinking waters. Their opposition is a long family tradition of trying to shift the country to the far right. Fred Koch, father of Charles and David helped to found the John Burch Society in the late 1950s. The John Burch Society harnessed Cold War fears into hate against progressives, warning that President Kennedy, Civil Rights activists, and organized labor were in league with communists. His sons continue to galvanize hundreds of thousands of middle class people into supporting the Kochs’ narrow agenda of cutting corporate taxes and avoiding consumer regulations [to the ruin of our equality and democracy]. READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/politics/144455/meet_the_billionaire_brothers_funding_the_right-wing_war_on_obama

Obama Far Outdoes Bush in Escalating War — The Numbers Will Surprise You By David DeGraw, Amped Status.

Increasing numbers of deployed soldiers, mercenaries and drones all add up to Obama being more of a war president than Bush, in terms of hard numbers. READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/world/144449/obama_far_outdoes_bush_in_escalating_war_–_the_numbers_will_surprise_you

Copenhagen Won’t Be Enough — Only a ‘Human Movement’ Can Save Civilization from the Climate Crisis By Fred Branfman, Sacramento News & Review.

A strange cloud envelops human civilization as its leaders fail to take the measures to protect it in Copenhagen that they themselves endorsed just five months ago.

To be or not to be, that is the question.–William Shakespeare, Hamlet. READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/144451/copenhagen_won%27t_be_enough_–_only_a_%27human_movement%27_can_save_civilization_from_the_climate_crisis

The Public Option That Isn’t Public At All By James Ridgeway, Mother Jones Online.

As the Senate negotiates its health-care reform bill, liberals appear ready to throw in the towel on a real public option. READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/politics/144446/the_public_option_that_isn%27t_public_at_all

“Hell of a job, Brownie!”

November 20, 2009

"Hell of a job, Brownie!"

Rising CO2 Will Cause Catastrophic Sea Level Rise Finds Antarctic Study by Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentThe Telegraph/UK

Sea levels could rise by up to six metres if the world fails to get pollution under control, according to the latest study in the Antarctic.

The British Antarctic Survey is the latest research to warn of the consequences of increased greenhouse gases on the Earth’s climate. Carbon dioxide is rising at record rates putting the world on a pathway for a 6C rise in temperature, which will cause a sea level rise of up six metres, threatening coastal cities like London, New York and San Francisco.

The recent studies add pressure on world leaders to agree to an international deal on climate change at a UN summit in Copenhagen this December.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/11/18-6

How Limousine Liberals, Water Oligarchs and Even Sean Hannity Are Hijacking Our Water Supply By Yasha Levine, AlterNet.

A group of water oligarchs engineered a disastrous privatization scheme to make a fortune out of California’s most precious natural resource.

A group of water oligarchs in California have engineered a disastrous deregulation and privatization scheme. And they’ve pulled in hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars without causing much public outrage. The amount of power and control they wield over California’s most precious resource, water, should shock and frighten us — and it would, if more people were aware of it. But here is the scary thing: They are plotting to gain an even larger share of California’s increasingly-scarce, over-tapped water supply, which will surely lead to shortages, higher prices and untold destruction to California’s environment.

California is in year three of a fairly nasty dry spell. And some very powerful forces are not letting this mini-crisis go to waste, fiercely lobbying Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Dianne Feinstein, paying off corporate shills like Fox News’ Sean Hannity and capitalizing on people’s fear of drought to push a massive waterworks project that will pump more water, build more dams and keep sucking the state’s rivers dry. …This drought hysteria is nothing more than political theatrics, a scare tactic backed by big agribusiness to strong-arm California voters into building a multi-billion dollar system of dams and canals that would not really help small farmers — of which there are very few anyway — but would deliver more water to corporations, subsidize their landholdings, fuel real estate development and enable large-scale water privatization. At its core, it is a war waged for water by California’s megarich on everyone else.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/water/144020/how_limousine_liberals%2C_water_oligarchs_and_even_sean_hannity_are_hijacking_our_water_supply

Rachel Maddow Interview with Former Evangelist Frank Schaeffer: Christian Right Is ‘Trolling for Assassins’ AlterNet.

Schaeffer: “There is a crazy fringe [receiving] messages that have been pouring out of FOX News … talking about doing away with Obama, asking God to kill him.”  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/rights/144054/rachel_maddow_interview_with_former_evangelist_frank_schaeffer%3A_christian_right_is_%27trolling_for_assassins%27

Shocking Benefits of Legalizing Pot By Ami Cholia, AlterNet.

There are some pluses to legalization that you probably haven’t heard about.

The war on drugs may be a noble intention, but the illegal growing of marijuana is destroying our environment.

Primarily run by Mexican drug cartels California’s illegal growers aren’t your typical peace-loving hippies of the 70s. These men live illegally on farms all summer, putting tons of waste into the soil and water. Pesticides drain into creeks and enter the food chain, sickening wildlife.  Each plant also uses about 15 gallons of water per day soaking up a large part of the water resources around.

Organized crime groups who cash in on the drug war’s distortion of supply and demand dynamics have little regard for the environment. Even illegal growers of organic marijuana impact the environment by felling trees in national forests to make room for illicit grow sites. The plants are seasonal, but the environmental damage lasts forever.

There is a serious exception to be made. Many medical – legal – marijuana growers are among the most responsible citizens around. They buy soil in bulk, use rat traps instead of poison, water with timers and drip systems. They have very little physical impact on the land.

Outside of the obvious benefits of hemp — bio-diesel, burns cleanly, soil builder, better cheaper paper, etc. — organic and sustainable practices for growing marijuana would bring in tons of revenue for the states, clean up the environment, and save the government $150 billion on policing and courts, since 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related.

We’re not promoting drug addiction.  The positive benefits to the environment by making marijuana legal definitely seem enough to take action.

Even Glenn Beck seems to think this is worth it.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/144052/world%27s_biggest_polluters_strike_a_deal%3A_u.s._and_china_agree_to_comprehensive_clean_energy_and_climate_plan?page=3

World’s Biggest Polluters Strike a Deal: U.S. and China Agree to Comprehensive Clean Energy and Climate Plan By Joseph Romm, Climate Progress.

The overall plan is much more ambitious in scope and depth than anticipated.

A comprehensive plan for U.S.-China cooperation on clean energy and climate change was announced in Beijing by President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao. The plan contains directives to create various institutions and programs addressing a wide array of cooperation on clean-energy technologies and capacity building, including very important efforts on helping China build a robust, transparent and accurate inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions.

These efforts include cooperation in the following areas:

1.      Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

2.      Joint Clean Energy Research Center. (Factsheet)

3.      Electric Vehicles. (Factsheet)

4.      Energy Efficiency. Building on the Ten Year Framework on Energy and Environment Cooperation, government officials of both countries will “work together (Factsheet)

5.      Renewable Energy. (Factsheet)

6.      21st Century Coal. The two countries will “launch a program of technical cooperation to …develop clean coal and carbon capture and storage technologies.” (Factsheet)

7.      Shale Gas. The U.S. and China will “assess China’s shale gas potential, promote environmentally-sustainable development of shale gas resources, conduct joint technical studies to accelerate development of shale gas resources in China, and promote shale gas investment in China through the U.S.-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum, study tours, and workshops.” (Factsheet)

8.      Nuclear. The two countries reaffirmed the goals of the Third Executive Committee Meeting of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership to promote the peaceful use of civilian nuclear energy, and “agreed to consult with one another in order to explore such approaches—including assurance of fuel supply and cradle-to-grave nuclear fuel management so that countries can access peaceful nuclear power while minimizing the risks of proliferation.”

9.      Public-private partnerships on clean energy. A new U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program (ECP) will “leverage private sector resources for project development work in China across a broad array of clean energy projects, to the benefit of both nations.”

The two countries hope that the upcoming United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen will follow this example and focus as much on bottom-up technological strategies for achieving real reductions in emissions as it will on top-down targets for carbon caps.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/144052/world%27s_biggest_polluters_strike_a_deal%3A_u.s._and_china_agree_to_comprehensive_clean_energy_and_climate_plan?page=3

Push to Curb Credit-Card Rates Fades as Democrats resist consumer outcry by Michael KranishThe Boston Globe

WASHINGTON – Efforts in Congress to cap credit-card interest rates are faltering because of opposition from Democrats and a lack of specific support from the White House, despite growing consumer outrage over a rush by banks to impose rates as high as 30 percent.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama vowed to back a strict limit on credit-card interest rates. But the White House is not yet behind any plan.

The Senate soundly defeated legislation in May introduced by Senator Bernard Sanders, the Vermont Independent, to cap most credit-card interest rates at 15 percent. Nearly half of the Democratic senators joined Republicans in defeating the measure, 60 to 33.

Consumer groups say the problem of skyrocketing interest rates has worsened since that vote, as banks scramble to boost rates in advance of a new rule scheduled to take effect in February, requiring banks to give consumers a 45-day advance notice of rate increases.

Sanders said many of the credit cards in the hands of American consumers are issued by four banks that received taxpayer bailout money after last year’s economic meltdown: Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

“People are disgusted. We bailed these [companies] out and they then had the gumption to raise interest rates on the American people,” Sanders said in an interview. Sanders said he plans to reintroduce his proposal to cap rates at 15 percent; he predicted it will have more support this time.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/11/18-7

 

SAVE THE WORLD TO DO LIST

October 26, 2009

What?

Michael Moore’s Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now By Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com.

5 things to demand Obama and Congress to do immediately, 5 things the politicians must hear from us, 5 things we should do to protect ourselves and family.

Friends,

It’s the #1 question I’m constantly asked after people see my movie: “OK — so now what can I do?!”  You want something to do? Well, you’ve come to the right place! ‘Cause I got 15 things you and I can do right now to fight back and try to fix this very broken system.  Here they are:

FIVE THINGS WE DEMAND THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS DO IMMEDIATELY:

1.      Declare a moratorium on all home evictions.

2.      Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. The bill to make this happen is called H.R. 3200 (but only with Rep. Anthony Weiner’s amendment). You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand its passage, no compromises allowed.

3.      Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.

4.      Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota.  Reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies (Click here for some info about the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.)

5.      Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. (For more on this, here’s a proposal I wrote in December.)

FIVE THINGS WE CAN DO TO MAKE CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT LISTEN TO US:

1.      Each of us must get into the daily habit of taking 5 minutes to make four brief calls: One to the President (202-456-1414), one to your Congressperson (202-224-3121) and one to each of your two Senators (202-224-3121). To find out who represents you, click here.  Trust me, they will listen. If you have another five minutes, click here to send them each an email. And if you really want to drop an anvil on them, send them a snail mail letter!

2.      Take over your local Democratic Party.  When you all become the local Democratic Party, send me a photo of the group and I’ll post it on my website.

3.      Recruit someone to run for office who can win in your local elections next year — or, better yet, consider running for office yourself! Check out examples of regular citizens who got elected.  The list goes on and on — and you should be on it!

4.      Show up. Picket the local branch of a big bank that took the bailout money.  Make some noise, have some fun, get on the local news.

5.      Start your own media.  Start a blog! Start a website.  Tweet your friends and use Facebook. The daily papers are dying.  Fill that void.

FIVE THINGS WE SHOULD DO TO PROTECT OURSELVES AND OUR LOVED ONES UNTIL WE GET THROUGH THIS MESS:

1.      Take your money out of your bank if it took bailout money and place it in a locally-owned bank or, preferably, a credit union.

2.      Get rid of all your credit cards but one — the kind where you have to pay up at the end of the month or you lose your card.

3.      Do not invest in the stock market.  Buy very safe government savings bonds or T-bills. Or just buy your mother some flowers.

4.      Unionize your workplace so that you and your coworkers have a say in how your business is run. Here’s how to do it (more info here).  Turn your business into a worker-owned cooperative. You are not a wage slave.

5.      Take care of yourself and your family.  Turn off the TV and the Blackberry and go for a 30-minute walk every day.

I’m sure there are many other ideas you can come up with on how we can build this movement. Get creative.  And when you act, send me your stories, your photos and your video — and be sure to post your ideas in the comments beneath this letter on my site so they can be shared with millions.

C’mon people — we can do this! I expect nothing less of all of you, my true and trusted fellow travelers!

Yours, Michael Moore

MMFlint@aol.com, MichaelMoore.com

READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/action/143444/michael_moore%27s_action_plan%3A_15_things_every_american_can_do_right_now?page=3

Inter Press Service

American Public More Complacent About Climate Change by Jim Lobe.

WASHINGTON – Less than two months before a key international conference on curbing climate change, a major U.S. poll has found a sharp drop in public concern about global warming.

According to the survey by the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press, 65 percent of the public believes that warming constitutes either a “very serious” (35 percent) or “somewhat serious” (30 percent) problem, down from 79 percent in July 2006 and from 73 percent just 18 months ago.

The survey also recorded a sharp drop in the percentage of the public that believes that “there is solid evidence the Earth is warming” – down from 71 percent in April, 2008, to 57 percent – and in the percentage that believes global warming is caused primarily by human activity – from 47 percent to 36 percent over the same period.

The survey of 1,500 adult respondents comes was released just six weeks before the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen where the representatives of 192 nations will gather to hash out the basic principles of a treaty to curb global emissions of greenhouse gases that virtually all climate and atmospheric scientists agree constitute the major cause of global warming.  READ MORE:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/10/23-0

Koi Pond

BEAT GOES ON, ROME BURNS

October 22, 2009

While Rome Burns

Take Action on Oct. 24: Join One of the Largest Global Protests in the Fight Against Climate Change by Tim Kingston, AlterNet.

On Oct. 24, tens of thousands of people will be in the streets and on mountains, rivers and glaciers around the world demanding action to reduce CO2 emissions.

What started out a couple of years ago as a idea promoted by author/climate-change activist Bill McKibben and a few students at Vermont’s Middlebury College has morphed into the biggest environmental, and possibly the most extensive worldwide protest, ever.

On Oct. 24, tens of thousands of people will be in the streets and on mountains, rivers and glaciers around the world demanding action to reduce CO2 emissions to 350 parts per million (ppm).

With just five days to go, 3,422 events are planned or under way in 160 nations on every continent, including Antarctica. More are coming online daily at 350.org, a small (seven staffers) organization based in Berkeley, Calif., that is coordinating the international day of action.

Organizers of the event are targeting the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. They hope the international day of action will apply pressure on the assembled heads of state and governments to reduce global greenhouse gas CO2 emissions to below 350 ppm, the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/action/143365/take_action_on_oct._24%3A_join_one_of_the_largest_global_protests_in_the_fight_against_climate_change

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Humbles Hudson Institute Dilettante Over Health Care Bankruptcies AlterNet.

Franken drove home the point that medical bankruptcies are unheard of in countries with viable heath care systems.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/#143452

Dept of Homeland Security Expands Controversial Program Empowering Local Police By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

The 287(g) program gives local law enforcement authority to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to accusations of racial profiling.

AMY GOODMAN: The immigration debate is heating up on Capitol Hill, and the Department of Homeland Security said Friday it plans to enter into new agreements with sixty-seven state and local law enforcement agencies. These agreements expand the existing 287(g) program, which delegates some federal immigration enforcement authority to certain state and local agencies. The announcement comes shortly after DHS released a report on immigrant detention noting the vast majority of those detained under the 287(g) agreements were never charged with a criminal offense. The 287(g) program has come under intense criticism in recent months from over 500 organizations, including the ACLU, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, calling on the government to end the program. Many of the agencies involved have been accused of racial profiling, and the Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona, is being investigated by the Justice Department.

On Friday the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, said it would go forward with a new jails agreement with Sheriff Arpaio but remove his field authority to enforce federal immigration laws on the street. Well, that didn’t stop the Sheriff, and he conducted his twelfth so-called immigration sweep Friday, arresting some sixty people. The Sheriff defended his stance on Fox’s Glenn Beck Show earlier last week.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/immigration/143372/dept_of_homeland_security_expands_controversial_program_empowering_local_police

The Battle Against Letting Wall Street Continue to Make a Killing on Derivatives By Art Levine, AlterNet.

Protections for consumers and Wall Street’s skullduggery are at stake in an obscure series of hearings going on in Congress right now.

Early in the morning, outside the House Financial Services Committee hearing room in the Rayburn office building last week, there were scruffy ex-homeless and other low-income folks, wearing their dreadlocks or sloppy jeans, mixed in with the pinstriped reps for the financial industry.

 They all seemed to be lining up to see what $223 million in financial lobbying in the first six months of this year could buy in thwarting real reform on Capitol Hill. And they were hoping to get the few dozen of the public seats available inside the room, for a critical 10 a.m. hearing marking up a bill that was supposed to regulate the now-private market in complex “derivatives.”

Those derivatives are nominally worth at least $450 trillion worldwide, with $555 billion in credit at risk in the U.S. banking industry. (Derivatives are forms of insurance or bets on underlying assets, such as now-toxic subprime mortgages, supposedly designed to manage risk.) No wonder Warren Buffett called them “financial weapons of mass destruction.”  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143407/the_battle_against_letting_wall_street_continue_to_make_a_killing_on_derivative

This Year’s Biggest Hoax Is Tim Geithner’s ‘Solution’ for the Economy, Not the Balloon Boy By Robert Scheer, Truthdig.

If we could get one of the banking lobbyists to float a duct-taped flying saucer balloon, Wolf Blitzer might cover the real hoax.

Who are these people? I am not referring to the pathetic parents of “Balloon Boy,” whose fake drama I have been unable to escape while on the treadmill this week, thanks to my gym’s insistence on tuning its flat-screen TVs to Wolf Blitzer’s nonstop self-parody.

The Colorado incident was significant only in the tawdriness of those who perpetrated the made-for-TV scam and their allies in the mindless media who covered this sham “reality” so relentlessly. But even so, it was enough to push aside most consideration of the true hoax reported last week with far less fervor: the obscene rewards that Wall Street bankers bestowed upon themselves for ripping off our economy.

The people I want to know more about are the superrich who expect to be rewarded for their failures, like the folks at Goldman Sachs who will receive $16.71 billion in bonuses—an average of $530,000 per employee—this year after their company did as much as any to bring the world economy to the brink of disaster.

“The Guys from Government Sachs” is what The New York Times once called them in recognition of their chokehold on the federal government. Their power is marked by the two treasury secretaries who led the fight to legally enable and then reward Wall Street for its obscene excesses. Why wasn’t there a CNN stakeout at the homes of former Goldman-execs-turned-treasury-chiefs Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson aimed at finding out how they feel about the almost $7 billion profit that Goldman Sachs made in the last two quarters in the wake of the government’s bailout of the firm?

http://www.alternet.org/media/143433/this_year%27s_biggest_hoax_is_tim_geithner%27s_%27solution%27_for_the_economy%2C_not_the_balloon_boy

gonefishin'

IT’S GOTTA PEAK BY 2015

October 19, 2009
Peaceable Kingdom

Peaceable Kingdom

CARBON EMISSIONS MUST PEAK BY 2015: UN Climate Scientist Agence France-Presse

PARIS – The UN’s top climate scientist on Thursday urged a key conference on global warming to set tough mid-term goals and warned carbon emissions had to peak by 2015 to meet a widely-shared vision.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the talks in Copenhagen in December must focus on 2020, a far more important target than mid-century.

“Strong, urgent and effective action” is needed, Pachauri told a meeting of ministers of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

“It is not enough to set any aspirational goal for 2050, it is critically important that we bring about a commitment to reduce emissions effectively by 2020,” he said.

Pachauri added that over the last two years he had witnessed “a massive explosion of awareness and therefore willingness to take action” in climate change.

But, he said, the deal in Copenhagen had to be consistent with the findings of scientists, who say greenhouse gases that trap heat from the Sun are already affecting the climate system, and grave potential problems lie ahead.

The Group of Eight (G8) and other countries have endorsed the target of pegging warming to no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Pachauri said this target “is not without some fairly serious impact.” Read more: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/10/16-0

The Edge.

The Edge.

“This is the hour,

O my soul,

The day erased,

The lesson done.”

AVAAZ – “VOICES”

July 16, 2009

This is a very interesting group.  They’re doing a lot of good and significant things for the right reasons, using positive methods. 

ABOUT AVAAZ Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

Dear friends,

Here’s a quick report back on recent campaigning at Avaaz. Our community has grown like wildfire and is becoming really extraordinary — the pace and impact of our advocacy is intense. In just the last 8 weeks, we’ve run 9 major national and global campaigns on issues ranging from climate change to Iran to Guantanamo. Much more remains to be done on all these issues — but together we’re contributing in powerful ways. Here are some highlights from the last 8 weeks:

Brazilian rainforest – Brazilian Avaaz members made 14000 phone calls and sent 30,000 online messages to President Lula’s office in two days(!) and in the 11th hour successfully reversed a law that would hand over much of the Amazon rainforest to agrobusiness for exploitation – this was a major victory on climate change since the Amazon consumes enormous amounts of the greenhouse gasses that are warming the earth.

G8 Summit – last week 130,000 Avaaz members signed a petition in 48 hours calling for the G8 industrial countries to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius – focusing on shaming 3 countries who were blocking progress. The petition was delivered at the summit to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (see image at right), along with giant personalized postcards.

Outside the summit, Avaaz members stripped down to green underwear in a humorous theatrical delivery of the campaign’s message that generated substantial media coverage (pictured at right). As Avaaz and partners built pressure in Italy and around the world, the blocking countries relented, and the G8 leaders agreed to the 2 degree goal! However, they failed to agree on specific actions to make the goal a reality — our challenge now is to make sure leaders live up to their rhetorical commitments with a binding global treaty at the UN summit in Copenhagen this December.

Iran Protests – our community rapidly responded to the election crisis in Iran with an opinion poll to gauge the views of ordinary Iranians, a petition to world leaders to withhold recognition of the new President until the crackdown on protests ceased, and a fundraiser to support technology that would allow Iranians to freely access the internet. The rapidly deteriorating security situation has made it difficult to conduct the poll (final word on that coming this week), but the technology fundraiser has raised over a hundred thousand dollars to support the best tools for Iranians to access the internet and communicate freely. The situation in Iran remains uncertain, and we will continue to both support freedom of expression and oppose those who would exploit this crisis to justify military action against Iran.

Japan climate targets – In Japan, we raised the alarm as the Prime Minister Taro Aso was about to choose a damagingly weak climate targets. Funded by small online donations, Avaaz ran a national opinion poll that showed that 63% of Japanese people wanted strong targets, publicized it in the press, in a full page ad in the country’s largest business newspaper, and one in the Aso’s favourite comic book (see right). Internationally, Avaaz ran a front page ad in the Financial Times, and Avaaz members demonstrated and met with Japanese climate negotiators at summits in Paris and Bonn.

At last, the Prime Minister announced a target stronger than polluting industries had urged — but far from strong enough to stop catastrophic climate change. So we redoubled the pressure with a widely-covered international press conference dubbing the Japanese leader “George W. Aso” — comparing him to Bush for holding back progress on climate change.


Free Burma’s political prisoners
– Over 400,000 of us signed a major petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asking him to make the release of Nobel prize winning political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners his top priority. The petition was delivered in an extended meeting with Moon’s office and in a press conference at the UN in New York. The UN chief issued a strong statement backing the release of Suu Kyi and traveled to Burma to attempt to meet with her, but was rebuffed by Burma’s military junta. International pressure did cause the junta to delay a new show trial to extend Aung San Suu Kyi’s prison sentence, but it will take much more pressure to secure her release.

United States and Torture – A global fundraiser and petition on stopping torture and closing Guantanamo prison allowed Avaaz to secure a giant, 9 story billboard just blocks from the White House in the heart of Washington DC to deliver our message — but at the last minute the company selling the ad space refused, despite members of the US congress offering to help unveil the billboard in a press conference. Avaaz has now secured an alternative option for delivering our edgy message that will have Washington DC buzzing with our call for justice.

UN Climate Summit – At a major summit on climate change in Bonn, Avaaz recruited among members in Germany to help our partners organize a massive 500 person aerial photo spelling out ‘Yes You Can’ as a message to leaders discussing climate targets (see right). It helped raise the profile and urgency of these faltering but urgent talks. Avaaz also sent a 16-person lobbying/activist team to the summit negotiations and members in 10 key countries joined “negotiator tracking teams” that are following and responding to urgent needs to press individual country negotiators at these summits.

Peru – Avaaz arranged with local indigenous and top political allies to deliver a global petition against new laws that would cause massive devastation to the Peruvian rainforest and its people, taking out an ad in the national newspaper (at right). The ad and campaign generated much attention, and the domestic and international pressure worked, for now — the Peruvian congress has revoked the controversial laws!

Israel – As Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared to make a speech responding to Obama’s historic Cairo address and demand that Israel stop illegal settlements of Palestinian land, Avaaz took out a front page ad in a major newspaper – Haaretz – delivering a joint petition from global and Israeli Avaaz members edgily asking Netanyahu to ‘be more like Obama’ and stop the settlements. Netanyahu has so far refused, but we’re helping to build an unprecedented wave of Israeli and global pressure and attention on this issue.

The petitions, fundraisers, rallies, and lobbying campaigns our community is doing are having an incredible impact. Avaaz has grown by 50,000 people a week and is now almost 3.6 million engaged citizens in every country of the world — and we’re truly global – operating in 14 languages our community has 25,000 members in Singapore, 35,000 in South Africa, 130,000 in Italy, 50,000 in Mexico… There hasn’t really been a community like ours before, able to rapidly and effectively mobilize people power all over the world to the greatest needs and concerns of all human beings — it’s a reason for hope.

It’s also an exciting journey — looking forward to taking on the next 8 weeks, and 8 months, and 8 years together!

With hope,
Ricken, Alice, Pascal, Ben, Veronique, Paul, Graziela, Brett, Raluca, Luis, Raj, Milena, Paula, Iain, Taren, Margaret and the whole Avaaz team.

PS – To see some of the highlights of Avaaz campaigning in 2007 and 2008 and leave a comment, click here:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2/

And to check out other recent Avaaz campaigning highlights like our climate victory in Germany, our messages to Obama wall in DC, the delivery of our Swine Flu petition to the WHO, our Green Recovery march at G20 Summit in London, or our support to Tibetan organizations to break the blackout on their communications — visit the Avaaz blog: http://www.avaaz.org/blog/en/.

Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages! You can also follow Avaaz on Twitter!