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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,081

Journal Archives

Watching coverage of the climate march on Democracy Now! and thinking ..............

......... that we are really fortunate to have an independent left news source such as Democracy Now! ..... Amy Goodman interviewed people such as Kshama Sawant, and from groups such as domestic workers fighting exposure to chemicals in the workplace -- interviews that you'll never see on corporate media.
So Thank You Amy, thank you Juan Gonzales ...... and Bill Moyers and Thom Hartmann and your ilk. You're indispensable.

And I've seen CSPAN cover Tea Party rallies. But 200,000 people marching about the most important issue facing all of us? Not so much.

Scotland: Why One Londoner Is Relieved

from In These Times:

Scotland: Why One Londoner Is Relieved
It’s lucky for U.K. progressives that the Scots didn’t secede.


Scotland will not become an independent country, and I am relieved. It felt like an imminent amputation, though it was always easy enough to see why so many Scots would want to be shot of us English. With a recent history of grievances going back to the Thatcher years, when Scotland was used as a laboratory to test the hated Poll Tax and the selling off of council homes, the “Yes to Independence” campaign clearly made a lot of sense to many people. And as P.G. Wodehouse wonderfully put it, “It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.”

Eighty-four percent of eligible Scots voted—the largest percentage in any election anywhere in the UK since 1951, when I voted for the first time—and among them, for the first time, were 16 and 17-year-olds: surely an important and welcome innovation. Yet until a month ago, most of England and the Westminster parliament complacently left Scotland to its own debate—in the belief, I suppose, that Alex Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland and the long time leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party’s movement for independence were unlikely to tempt many Scots to abandon the shelter of the UK, the royal family, and our place in Europe, NATO and at the Security Council.

Suddenly and belatedly, on September 7, the Sunday Times reported the results of its opinion poll: the “Yes” campaign at 51 percent and the “No,” at 49 percent. The “No” campaign was galvanised into activity. The three main UK political parties joined forces to promise all kinds of future powers to Scotland if it turned its back on independence. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, declared that he would be “heartbroken” if Scotland seceded. Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown roared back into a form we hadn’t seen since Tony Blair beat him to the leadership of the Labour Party in 1994. It was suddenly possible to feel that Alex Salmond would have had a much harder time of it had Labour been in power in London. Of the 59 MPs Scotland sends to Westminister, 40 are Labour, 11 Liberal Democrats, 6 Scottish Nationalists, one Conservative and one Independent. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17188/scotland_why_one_londoner_is_relieved

Flood Wall Street

(HuffPost) This is a critical week for the planet. A United Nations conference on the climate will be followed on Saturday by the People's Climate March, which is expected to be the largest environmental march in history. But it would be a grave mistake, for the planet and for ourselves, to overlook another event that is to take place on Sunday. That's when the Flood Wall Street rally will target the role of global capitalism in our environmental crisis.

The profit economy is a root cause -- make that the root cause -- of climate change.

Wall Street is, in a very real sense, the epicenter of our environmental crisis. To ignore that fact is to risk dooming our other climate efforts to failure, or to use them merely as palliatives for troubled consciences. There's no other way to say this: Capitalism, as practiced on Wall Street today, is an existential threat to humanity.

To make that statement is not necessarily to issue a jeremiad against capitalism in all its forms. The danger comes not from commerce itself, but from the extraordinary concentration of wealth and power that has accrued in recent decades to corporations and their Wall Street investors. This has led in turn to an ideological shift that has entirely captured the GOP and has seized large portions of the Democratic Party as well. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/want-to-save-the-planet-f_b_5842594.html

Naomi Klein is right: Unchecked capitalism will destroy civilization

via Grist:

Naomi Klein is right: Unchecked capitalism will destroy civilization
By Joseph Romm

Cross-posted from Climate Progress
19 Sep 2014 10:44 AM

Best-selling progressive journalist Naomi Klein has an important new book out, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. The author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine now “tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth,” as the book jacket aptly puts it.

In diagnosing the unprecedented existential threat humanity faces thanks to our myopia and unbridled greed, Klein has three essential points to make:

1. Because we have ignored the increasingly urgent warnings and pleas for action from climate scientists for a quarter century (!) now, the incremental or evolutionary paths to avert catastrophic global warming that we might have been able to take in the past are closed to us.

2. Humanity faces a stark choice as a result: the end of civilization as we know it or the end of capitalism as we know it.

3. Choosing “unregulated capitalism” over human civilization would be a “morally monstrous” choice — and so the winning message for the climate movement is a moral one.

As an aside, readers may remember that I don’t always agree with Klein on either substance or messaging. And obviously I have quibbles with her book — in particular I am skeptical of some elements of her proposed “cure” (and how she frames them) as I’ll discuss in a later post. But in fairness to Klein, our 25-year dawdling has made the diagnosis (and prognosis) unimaginably graver and thus made all cures look politically implausible, as the pessimistic, do-little “eco-modernists” keep pointing out far too gleefully.

To anyone who thinks attacking unchecked capitalism is not a winning message (when done correctly), I’d urge you to read the advice of Frank Luntz, the GOP’s top messaging guru, on the subject: “don’t say capitalism” because Americans “think capitalism is immoral.”

The great value in the book lies in Klein’s understanding and elaboration of the three essential points above. Indeed I’m not certain any other book has so clearly spelled out these points. And yet these three points are, arguably, the most important ones for climate hawks, for the (misnamed) “intelligentsia,” and, indeed, for all homo sapiens to understand at a deep level, since they clarify the choices we now must make. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/climate-energy/naomi-klein-is-right-unchecked-capitalism-will-destroy-civilization/

Guardian UK: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein – review

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein – review
Klein wants this book to be read by people who don't read climate-change books – it addresses a potential catastrophe yet is calm and welcoming

Jenny Turner
The Guardian, Friday 19 September 2014 02.29 EDT

Eight years ago, Richard Branson, the tie-loathing adventurer (as his Twitter feed has it) and figurehead of Virgin Atlantic airlines, Virgin Galactic space travel and so on, pledged to invest around $3bn (£1.85bn) in green technologies by 2016. A $25m investment went into the Virgin Earth Challenge, a prize for inventing something to suck up all the planet-wrecking carbon emitted by gas-guzzling industries like his own. Some goes into developing low-carbon fuels. Some pays for the snazzy Carbon War Room, a sort of green-tech Dragons' Den. "Gaia capitalism", Branson has called his vision. "We have to make it a win-win for all concerned."

That 2016 deadline is fast approaching. How much, Naomi Klein asked Branson, will he have put into his pledge by then? "I suspect it will be less than $1bn right now," he confessed. He has been busy elsewhere in the meantime, launching Virgin America airlines, V Australia airlines, Virgin Atlantic Little Red airlines, and investing heavily in Virgin Galactic, perhaps because – as he has started saying – he has a plan to move to Mars. Klein doesn't necessarily follow the people who see Branson's green shenanigans as "a cynical ploy" to build his brand and confuse his critics. But you can grant him his good intentions and still think all this greenwash doesn't make a lot of sense.

There can be no doubt that climate change is happening; it has already started wreaking damage, and is set to do much more. Temperatures have risen by nearly 1C since the industrial revolution, and in 2012 the World Bank predicted a rise of 4C by 2100, bringing "extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity and life‑threatening sea-level rise". And yet coordinated international response is completely missing. The 2009 Copenhagen climate summit settled for a half-hearted 2C target, then failed to secure commitment even on that. Obama seems stuck, as the US fracks and drills its heart out and Canada tears up Alberta in the race for tar. Climate, politics and business are caught in a vicious triangle, and at the moment it's the climate that is getting squeezed.

The only way to resolve this is with tough, fair, world-level regulation. But instead we have a vacuum, into which pours all manner of noxious nonsense. Climate-change deniers, luxuriantly astroturfed. Charities cosying up to fossil-fuel interests, including one, Klein has discovered, that has put oil and gas wells on its own bird reserve. Clever chaps who should know better – Stephen Hawking, the lads from Freakonomics – with their fantasies of terraforms and geo-engineering. Eddying little markets in non-solutions: carbon offsets, emissions trading, organic nappies. What's wrong with us that we've let this happen? ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/19/this-changes-everything-capitalism-vs-climate-naomi-klein-review

Marjorie Cohn on Racial Discrimination and Perpetual War

While no elected leader will admit it publicly, hypocrisy is often a virtue in politics. Yet even in the political world where hypocrisy, prevarication, deceit, and cover-ups are often the currency of the culture, to be called out on one's hypocrisy in word and deed can carry its own unique shame. Case in point: the United States is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – a treaty that is part of US law – yet actually favors policies that increase racial discrimination. The United Nations criticized the US government in a report detailing the ways in which racial discrimination has structurally intensified since the US signed the treaty. Truthout columnist Marjorie Cohn writes about what's in the UN report and reminds us how the government has failed in many ways to comply with what's set forth in the treaty.

Law professor Cohn's focus on complying with legal statutes takes her into the realm of war; specifically the impending war with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq - and the president's lack of authority to wage war without congressional approval. As Cohn reminds us, President Obama is basing his war-making authority on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Congress passed in 2001 and 2002 after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC. She highlights the limitations of those congressional authorizations and how the intent of Congress was to prevent the Bush Administration from engaging in an open-ended and perpetual war – a war Obama is ready to continue with or without congressional approval.


US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

(Guardian UK) Barack Obama will not be pledging any cash to a near-empty fund for poor countries at a United Nations summit on climate change next week, the UN special climate change envoy said on Friday.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has challenged the 125 world leaders attending the 23 September summit to make “bold pledges” to the fund, intended to help poor countries cope with climate change.

The UN has been pressing rich countries to come up with pledges of between $10bn and $15bn.

“We are putting a lot of pressure for them to do it at the summit on the 23rd,” the UN envoy and former Irish president, Mary Robinson, told the Guardian on the sidelines of a US Agency for International Development meeting. But she added: “I know the United States is not going to commit because I’ve asked.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/20/us-climate-change-aid-poor-nations-un-summit

Mitch McConnell attempts to convince voters he's not an a**hole

By Richard Cowan

PADUCAH, Ky, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Mitch McConnell is hardly a lovable guy. The Republican leader in the U.S. Senate has a dour public persona and many of his constituents don't view him as a "real Kentuckian," according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that underscores what his election campaign already knows - McConnell has an image problem.

While other politicians might be deterred by polls showing how unpopular they are in their home state, McConnell has risen to the challenge as he seeks a sixth term in what is perhaps his toughest re-election battle in a 30-year Senate career.

Relying on broad financial support from corporations and donors, he has launched a series of withering attack ads on Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, linking her with an even more unpopular President Barack Obama. At the same time, McConnell has used social media to soften his image and make light of his blandness.


A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found more than half of the state's voters view McConnell unfavorably, one-third describe him as an arrogant Washington insider and only 11 percent chose the words "real Kentuckian" to describe him. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/21/mitch-mcconnell-senate_n_5856792.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

Doomsday ISIS Predictions Generating Bad Policy

(The Progressive) South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham recently joined many of his Republican colleagues, declaring that ISIS is an existential threat to the United States.

“This is a war we’re fighting, not a counterterrorism operation,” Graham said. “This President needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”

Some GOP politicians are warning that the group may have already infiltrated the border.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said that there’s “a very real possibility” that ISIS terrorists may have entered the country. Former Massachusetts Scott Brown, currently a senatorial candidate in New Hampshire, said that members of ISIS might “actually be coming through the border right now.”


“This is a terrorist group the likes of which we haven’t seen before, and we better stop them now,” says Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. “It ought to be pretty clear when they start cutting off the heads of journalists and say they’re going to fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House that ISIS is a clear and present danger.”


Raed Jarrar of the American Friends Service Committee also argues for a more sensible approach.

“ISIS has a limited capacity, and it poses a small threat to nations within its reach in the Middle East,” he told The Progressive. “The threat it poses to the United States and Europe is even more limited. The FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, and other experts agree there is no imminent threat to the U.S.” ...............(more)

- See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/09/187864/doomsday-isis-predictions-generating-bad-policy#sthash.qLZKtmH0.dpuf

Professor Richard Wolff: Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises

Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises
by Richard D. Wolff

​Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire.

Part of the problem lies with classic socialism as it evolved over the last 150 years. Positions and strategies that once mobilized the victims and critics of capitalism are no longer, by themselves, effective. Not only has capitalism changed, but its celebrants also developed powerful critiques of socialist theory and especially of actually existing socialisms such as the Soviet Union (USSR). Socialism has not responded well to capitalism’s changes nor to its critiques; it has not made the necessary strategic and tactical shifts. Nonetheless, socialism retains the means to overcome its problems with some long-overdue self-criticism and innovation.

By classic socialism I mean the tradition that differentiated itself from capitalism chiefly in terms of macro-economic institutions. Classic socialists defined capitalism as (1) private ownership of means of production and (2) distribution of resources and products by means of market exchanges. The socialist alternative entailed (1) socialized or public ownership of means of production (operated by the state as agent of the people as a whole) and (2) distribution of resources and products via state planning. Socialists attacked capitalism for the injustices, cyclical instability, and gross productive inefficiencies (e.g. unemployment, stagnation, etc.) that they traced to private enterprises and markets. In the socialists’ alternative, a workers’ state would control or own enterprises and plan the distribution of resources and products – in the democratically determined interests of the majority.

Such criticisms of capitalism and that transitional program to an alternative system rewarded socialists in their political, economic, and cultural work. Socialist movements spread across the countries of the world during the nineteenth and to the last third of the twentieth century. Socialists effectively challenged capitalism, often took and held political power, and influenced many academics, intellectuals, popular organizations, artistic projects, and so on. But now socialism’s growth in many places has stalled or reversed. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2014/wolff140914.html

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