In Around the web on October 19, 2013 at 9:32 am
“It was a surreal moment,” said Bill Ayers of the experience of hearing his name first mentioned on live television during the 2008 primary election debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
When I met Ayers in person recently for an interview about his new book, “Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident,” he seemed like anything but the terrorist he is often cast as by right-wing media. The closest this white-haired, soft-spoken bespectacled man came to appearing radical was the pair of silver hoop earrings he sported. It was hard to imagine that once upon a time he was considered a dangerous fugitive and wanted by the federal government.
The nearly 70-year-old education theory professor was in his home surrounded by his students watching the television screen when the debate moderator, George Stephanopoulos, asked Obama about his relationship with the co-founder of the Weather Underground movement More…
In Around the web on October 16, 2013 at 9:00 am
I know there is no more trite phrase in America, but Lord, this Thomas Friedman column is bad. It’s so bad you have to read the whole thing to experience the full horror of it. In fact, I’m not even sure he wrote it himself. It reads more like something the messaging shop at Fix the Debt put together to sound like Thomas Friedman… Yes, the upshot is that old people are robbing the young of all their chances in this world with their insistence on needing to eat in their old age. Luckily, a billionaire pal of his named Stanley Druckmiller is on the case explaining to the kids why grandpa and grandma are parasites.
No mention of student debt, of course, because well I’m going to guess Friedman thinks such trivialities have nothing to do with the inability of the younger generation to get ahead. And certainly there is no mention of the fact that rich greedheads like Friedman and his pals are insisting on sucking up every last dollar in this world while forcing the government to cut back vital programs at the very worst time More…
In Around the web on October 14, 2013 at 9:00 am
From RALPH NADER
It has been over two years since the earthquake and tsunami that brought about the nuclear reactor crisis in Fukushima — the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The situation at the six plants is still grim. Four of the reactors are damaged. Hundreds of tons of contaminated groundwater are reportedly seeping into the ocean every day. Nearly 83,000 people were displaced from their homes in the approximately 310 square mile exclusion zones. On Wednesday October 9, an accident resulted in six workers being doused in radioactive water. Accidents and mishaps at the Fukushima site are regular occurrences. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now asked the world community for help in containing the ongoing Fukushima disaster, as it continues to spiral out of control.
Earlier this week, I participated in a panel discussion More…
In Around the web on October 12, 2013 at 11:07 am
What started out as a rate-reform bill that had been pushed by California’s utilities ended up as a law to increase the state’s renewable energy offerings. Among the big winners are the rooftop solar businesses, which expect to see more people buy their product now that the law has passed.
The law, known as AB 327, will ensure that the net metering laws, which had been set to expire in a year, will remain in place. It’s a complicated calculation but the end result is that the three major investor-owned utilities there — Sempra, Southern California Edison and PG&E Corp. — must have installed at least 5,200 megawatts of net metered generation, which allows customers to sell any unused power that they self-generate back to the utility.
The law will also remove the cap set on the amount of power — and therefore reimbursements — that had been previously set under the net metering laws. It had been 5 percent of a utility’s non-peak load. Finally, the law lifts what had been a ceiling on the amount of renewable electricity that a utility would need to generate. More…
In Around the web on October 10, 2013 at 10:19 am
This week Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen participated in two panel discussions in Boston and New York City entitled “The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident: Ongoing Lessons” Other panelists included Ralph Nader, Peter Bradford, Naoto Kan, Gregory Jaczko and Jean-Michel Cousteau.
The video above is a recording of Arnie’s speech entitled “Forty Good Years And One Very Bad Day.” To watch the entire NYC presentation, visit this link.
Special thanks to the Samuel Lawrence Foundation for creating and underwriting these post Fukushima Daiichi events.
More importantly, today’s gathering would not be necessary if Federal and State policy makers and business executives believed that Fukushima Daiichi really happened. More…
In Around the web on October 10, 2013 at 9:24 am
Why aren’t Republicans more frightened of a shutdown and a default? Part of the reason is magical thinking…
Why aren’t Republicans more afraid? The entire premise of both the government shutdown and the threats to force the government into debt default is that Democrats care more about the consequences of these actions than the Republicans do. Republicans may go on TV and shed crocodile tears about national monuments being shut down, but the act isn’t really fooling the voters: The only way to understand these fights is to understand that the GOP is threatening to destroy the government and the world economy in order to get rid of Obamacare (as well as a panoply of other right wing demands). Just as terrorists More…
In Around the web on October 8, 2013 at 7:00 am
From The Daily Edge
San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York said he will shut down the NFL at midnight next Tuesday unless the NFL immediately repeals the results of the 2013 SuperBowl and turns all SuperBowl rings that were previously awarded to the Baltimore Ravens’ players to the members of his team.
“I’ve thought long had hard about this,” he told The Daily Edge. “And you know, the more I think about it, the more it just doesn’t sit right with me. OK, I know the scoreboard read 34-31 in favor of the Ravens at the end of the night, but didn’t my team really deserve it?”
York admitted that he had contracted “Karl Rove’s guy in Ohio” to pull some kind of switch that would cause a massive power outage in New Orleans. He also cited a blown call by referee John Roberts in the 3rd quarter that really took the wind out his team’s comeback effort.
He singled out NFL CEO Roger Goodell for particular blame. “I don’t understand what kind of league this guy thinks he’s running. He insists we determine the standings on wins and losses. Is that even constitutional?”
In Around the web on October 7, 2013 at 9:00 am
The full frontal right-wing political and corporate beat down continues on the United States Postal Service and, if anything, it’s getting more vicious and insidious. To put it bluntly, the USPS is barreling toward a virtual collapse before our very eyes.
It all started with HR 6407, a putrid piece of legislation called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, the fault of both Democrats and Republicans. It called for a 75-year pre-funding of retirement health benefits within 10 years, a requirement of no other public agency or corporation. On the plus side for UPS, FedEx, Pitney Bowes and other competitors, it guarantees destruction of the USPS and its unions.
The Senate has recently crafted a bill, S 1486 paying down an obligation of 40 years instead of 75, but, incredibly, it allows for the cutting of health and retirement benefits. In testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month, American Postal Workers Union (APWU) President, Cliff Guffey, excoriated the effort.
Fredric Rolando, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers also testified before the committee with equal negative fervor. PostalReporter.com quoted the additional objections that the bill eliminated Saturday mail delivery and business door delivery, phased out household door delivery and created a two-tier postal workforce. In his opinion (and mine) all designed to “Drive the Postal Service into a death spiral.” More…
In Around the web on October 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm
From COMMON DREAMS
In a political and economic climate so heavily influenced by Wall Street, corporate CEOs, and extremists like those who shut down the government in an effort to block even the modest reforms of the Affordable Care Act, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it is still possible for nurses and working people to fight and win.
Well, thank goodness for the 3,000 RNs, and a few hundred techs, who work at Sutter hospitals and facilities in Northern California. They have just delivered an emphatic message to nurses and other workers everywhere. Stand up for yourselves, stand up for the public interest and the public will be with you and you can prevail.
It took nine strikes and a refusal of the RNs to buckle – much to the shock of the company executives. By the final strike, seeing support grow among the nurses with each walkout, Sutter even gave up sending the media false reports of who was allegedly crossing the picket lines.
Over two years ago Sutter threw down a gauntlet for our members at greater San Francisco Bay Area facilities. Emboldened by rollbacks for many other workers across the country and what they saw as a favorable corporate and anti-union environment, Sutter dumped a list of some 200 concession demands on the nurses.
The takeaway list was breathtaking in its detail and scope, targeting virtually every area of the collecting bargaining agreements won by nurses and defended over a period stretching back over 65 years More…
In Around the web on October 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm
On the day the Affordable Care Act takes effect, the U.S. government is shut down, and it may be permanently broken. You’ll read lots of explanations for the dysfunction, but the simple truth is this: It’s the culmination of 50 years of evolving yet consistent Republican strategy to depict government as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else. The fact that everything came apart under our first African-American president wasn’t an accident, it was probably inevitable.
People talk about the role of race in Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”: how Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips helped him lure the old Dixiecrats into the Republican Party permanently. Far less well known was the GOP’s “Northern Strategy,” which targeted so-called white ethnics – many of them from the Catholic “Sidewalks of New York” like my working-class family, in the words of Kevin Phillips. Without a Northern Strategy designed to inflame white-ethnic fears of racial and economic change, Phillips’ imaginary but still influential notion of a “permanent Republican majority” would have been unimaginable.
“The principal force which broke up the Democratic (New Deal) coalition is the Negro socioeconomic revolution and liberal Democratic ideological inability to cope with it,” Phillips wrote. “Democratic ‘Great Society’ programs aligned that party with many Negro demands, but the party was unable to defuse the racial tension sundering the nation.” Phillips was not trying to defuse that tension, far from it – he was trying to lure those white ethnics to the GOP (although he later broke with the party he helped create.) But his Northern Strategy truly came to fruition in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan. Where Nixon swept the South, Reagan was able to take much of the North and West, too.
I loved Chris Matthews’ book “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked,” but as I said in my interview with him, I think he let Reagan off the hook when it came to race. More…
In Around the web on October 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm
From BERNIE SANDERS
I start my approach to health care from two very basic premises. First, health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. Second, we must create a national health care system that provides quality health care for all in the most cost-effective way possible. Tragically, the United States is failing in both areas.
It is unconscionable that in one of the most advanced nations in the world, there are nearly 50 million people who lack health insurance and millions more who have burdensome copayments and deductibles. In fact, some 45,000 Americans die each year because they do not get to a doctor when they should. In terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and other health outcomes, the United States lags behind almost every other advanced country.
Despite this unimpressive record, the U.S. spends almost twice as much per person on health care as any other nation. As a result of an incredibly wasteful, bureaucratic, profit-making and complicated system, the U.S. spends 17 percent of its gross domestic product –approximately $2.7 trillion annually — on health care. While insurance companies, drug companies, private hospitals and medical equipment suppliers make huge profits, Americans spend more and get less for their health care dollars than people from any other nation.
What should the United States be doing to improve this abysmal situation? President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a start. It prevents insurance companies from denying patients coverage for pre-existing conditions, allows people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance, sets minimum standards for what insurance must cover and helps lower-income Americans afford health insurance. When the marketplace exchanges open for enrollment on Tuesday, many Americans will find the premiums will be lower than the ones they’re paying now. Others will find the coverage is much more comprehensive than their current plans. More…
In Around the web on September 30, 2013 at 10:15 am
From THE NEW REPUBLIC
The year 1996, the last time the GOP took its toys and went home rather than fund the government, hasn’t loomed so large in Washington since it actually was 1996. Democrats, the media, and a not insignificant number of Republicans are convinced the looming shutdown will be just as disastrous for today’s GOP as the previous one was for Newt Gingrich’s. Meanwhile, the Tea Partiers in the House, at whose behest the shutdown is being instigated, have spent the weekend insisting this time will be different because … well, the why isn’t entirely clear, but it has something to do with the fact that Obamacare is involved.
There is, of course, much to be said for the 1996 analogy given that it’s our most recent example. But I’d argue that the more relevant case study is the payroll tax fight of late 2011, which involved the same players as today, the same internecine Republican dynamics (Tea Partiers versus Speaker John Boehner and a number of Senate Republicans), and the same media environment. The bad news for Republicans is that 2011 was every bit the rout 1996 was—arguably much more so. Republicans were able to hold out for a respectable 21 days back then. The 2011 fight was over in 48 hours.
The payroll tax fight essentially began that September, when Obama proposed a stimulus package that included an extension of an existing payroll-tax holiday. Throughout the fall, Obama traveled the country touting the importance of that provision, so that workers wouldn’t face higher taxes when it expired in January. The House GOP spent most of that same time resisting the extension, notwithstanding the party’s traditional tax cut stance. But as it became clear that the pure rejectionist position was untenable, they adjusted it somewhat: More…
In Around the web on September 30, 2013 at 10:01 am
From THE ATLANTIC
Old trends: Soaring US carbon dioxide emissions, skyrocketing health care costs, out-of-control deficits. New trends: Tumbling emissions, creeping health care costs, falling deficits.
What’s going on in the world today? It’s hard to keep up. Some facts are familiar to anyone who reads the news. Unemployment is high. Growth is slow. Shale gas is a big deal. But beyond the caps-lock headlines, subtler, but no less significant, shifts are changing the U.S. economy and reshaping the global financial order. Here are ten that have surprised—and might surprise.
1) Old Trend: Expensive solar, surviving only on subsidies.
New Trend: Cheap solar, disrupting old industries.
Since the 1970s, it has become a cliché that solar power is an expensive boondoggle, kept alive only by government subsidies. But every cliché is right until the day it’s suddenly wrong. And for solar, that day is today. Since Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president, the price of solar cells has fallen over 99 percent. No, that’s not a typo. And the exponential cost-drop shows no sign of slowing down, with dozens of new technologies in the pipeline. Installation and land costs are falling too. What this means is that in sunny states like Arizona, solar can already compete with fossil fuel electricity even with zero government subsidies. In fact, rooftop solar panels are becoming so popular that utility companies are trying to tax solar power in order to pay for grid maintenance! The technology that was a punch line for decades is about to launch an energy revolution, and most people aren’t even paying attention.
2. Old Trend: The Latinization of America.
New Trend: The Asiafication of America.
“The huge boom in Mexican immigration is over.” The improving Mexican economy, lower Mexican fertility More…
In Around the web on September 30, 2013 at 9:00 am
From MELVILLE HOUSE
They must be doing it for the sake of literature. Otherwise they’d be idiots, and that can’t be right.
The shutdown of the U.S. government by House Republicans is imminent. This brave cadre of True Citizens are very veryconcerned that theAffordable Care Act— signed into law in 2010 — might adversely affect our nation’s downtrodden and heavily burdened insurance companies. They’ve decided that what this nation needs is a dose of tough love. Or, not so much love, really, as idiocy. Tough idiocy. The best kind. Anyhow, unless the Senate and the President both decide that now would be an awesome time to back down and defund their hard-won legislative program at the behest of a vocal minority of House Republicans, which is not likely to happen, we’re facing a major government shutdown on Tuesday.
And sure, many people might spend the next month slapping their forehead and the foreheads of everyone around them at the pointlessness and cruelty of the thing. But there is a bright side to it all. As we see in the examples below, a government shutdown could make for some pretty awesome literature in a few years when our authors have had time to digest it all.
I present, then, seven books that would have been more awesome if they had been set during a government shutdown.
1. “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft
Lovecraft’s classic story was inspired, in part, by Easter Isand statues the author saw in the Smithsonian Museum. But what if the museum had been closed due to a government shutdown? Would he have been forced to take a nice stroll? More…
In Around the web on September 29, 2013 at 10:00 am
From THE NEW YORKER
Ours can be an unforgiving country. Paul Sullivan was in his fifties, college-educated, and ran a successful small business in the Houston area. He owned a house and three cars. Then the local economy fell apart. Business dried up. He had savings, but, like more than a million people today in Harris County, Texas, he didn’t have health insurance. “I should have known better,” he says. When an illness put him in the hospital and his doctor found a precancerous lesion that required treatment, the unaffordable medical bills arrived. He had to sell his cars and, eventually, his house. To his shock, he had to move into a homeless shelter, carrying his belongings in a suitcase wherever he went.
This week, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, which provides health-insurance coverage to millions of people like Sullivan, is slated to go into effect. Republican leaders have described the event in apocalyptic terms, as Republican leaders have described proposals to expand health coverage for three-quarters of a century. In 1946, Senator Robert Taft denounced President Harry Truman’s plan for national health insurance as “the most socialistic measure this Congress has ever had before it.” Fifteen years later, Ronald Reagan argued that, if Medicare were to be enacted, “one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” More…
In Around the web on September 28, 2013 at 10:08 am
[Eight orders of magnitude is similar to a multiplication with 100,000,000 (yes, One hundred million).]
Apart from the contamination of the Japanese territory (Hirose, 2012; Kanai, 2012; Tanaka et al., 2012), the Japan Sea (Inoue et al., 20I2a), and the Korean Peninsula (Hernandez-Ceballos et al., 2012; Lee et al., 2012), due to prevailing western winds, the radionuclides emitted to the atmosphere were mainly transported from Fukushima over the Pacific Ocean (Kamenik et al., 2013) [...]
[...] large quantities of radioactive materials released to the atmosphere and coastal waters following a nuclear accident at the Fukushirna Dai-ichi NPP increased considerably the Cs-137 concentrations in coastal seawater off Fukushima up to eight orders of magnitude above the global fallout background (TEPCO, 2012; MEXT, 2012).
From SAVE KIDS JAPAN
Dear all, please do read the following article…
A US student who stayed in Tohoku only several days even developed symptom of radiation exposure such as vomiting and nose bleeding… Pregnant women and children have been living in these contaminated areas in Japan. Please help Japanese kids and future generations
Dear Minister of Education Hakubun Shimomura, More…
In Around the web on September 28, 2013 at 9:42 am
The world’s top experts have spent years weighing all the evidence — here’s what you need to know about their findings.
The IPCC, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, just released its latest scientific report that looks at what the world’s top experts understand about climate change. The review takes years to complete, and will be used for years as a vital resource for climate science.
During a briefing on the report Friday morning organized by The Climate Group, three of the lead authors offered blunt summaries of their work:
“Warming is unequivocal.” — Dennis Hartmann, one of the report’s coordinating lead authors, focusing on observations
“From all of these lines of evidence, we conclude that humans are the dominant cause of changes in the climate system.” — Nathaniel Bindoff, a coordinating lead author, focusing on attribution of climate change
“The oceans are still taking up heat,” even though warming has recently hit a speed bump at the surface — Jochem Marotzke a coordinating author, focusing on evaluating climate models
Beyond that, what does the average person need to know about what’s in the report?
- It’s happening and we’re doing it: This report concludes that the earth is unequivocally changing, and the evidence is clear that humans have a large role in how it has changed over the last 60 years.
- 95-100 percent certain: Each of the IPCC’s last five big reports found that climate science has gotten increasingly certain that the planet is warming More…
In Around the web on September 28, 2013 at 8:51 am
[Update: A quick one-sentence reminder of what this is all about. The Republican Party is bending its entire will, staking its very soul, fighting to its last breath, in service of a crusade to... Make sure that the working poor don't have access to affordable health care. I just thought I'd mention that in plain language, since it seems to get lost in the fog fairly often. But that's it. That's what's happening. They have been driven mad by the thought that rich people will see their taxes go up slightly in order to help non-rich people get decent access to medical care. -Mother Jones]
See also: Covered California
We present the facts on Obama Care (ObamaCare), the health care plan for America. Our goal is to help you understand the basics of the ObamaCare health care plan, so you can decide for yourself what you think about the new health care law, based on the facts and not the talking points.
• ObamaCare, Obama Care, and health care reform are all the same thing. The official name for “ObamaCare” is the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (or ACA for short), a bill signed into law to reform the health care industry by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.
• ObamaCare‘s goal is give more Americans access to affordable, qualityhealth insurance and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the U.S.
• The fact is ObamaCare does not replace private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. If you have health coverage you like, you can keep it.
• ObamaCare regulates some of the worst practices of the for-profit health care industry.
• Many of Obamacare‘s numerous provisions have already been enacted. The rest of the program starts in 2013-2014 and continues to roll out until 2022. Over 100 million Americans have already benefited from the new health care law. More…
In Around the web on September 27, 2013 at 7:44 am
From BILL MAHER
New Rule: Conservatives who love to brag about American exceptionalism must come here to California, and see it in person. And then they should be afraid — very afraid. Because while the rest of the country is beset by stories of right-wing takeovers in places like North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, California is going in the opposite direction and creating the kind of modern, liberal nation the country as a whole can only dream about. And not only can’t the rest of the country stop us — we’re going to drag you along with us.
It wasn’t that long ago that pundits were calling California a failed state and saying it was ungovernable. But in 2010, when other states were busy electing whatever Tea Partier claimed to hate government the most, we elected a guy who actually liked it, Jerry Brown.
Since then, everything Republicans say can’t or won’t work — gun control, immigration reform, high-speed rail — California is making work. And everything conservatives claim will unravel the fabric of our society — universal healthcare, higher taxes on the rich, gay marriage, medical marijuana — has only made California stronger. And all we had to do to accomplish that was vote out every single Republican. Without a Republican governor and without a legislature being cock-blocked by Republicans, a $27 billion deficit was turned into a surplus, continuing the proud American tradition of Republicans blowing a huge hole in the budget and then Democrats coming in and cleaning it up.
How was Governor Moonbeam able to do this? It’s amazing, really. We did something economists call cutting spending AND raising taxes. More…
In Around the web on September 24, 2013 at 8:18 am
From ELLEN BROWN
Web of Debt
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is the nation’s second largest civilian employer after WalMart. Although successfully self-funded throughout its long history, it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the Internet. In fact the post office has gotten more business from Internet orders than it has lost to electronic email. What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive 2006 congressional mandate that it prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees who have not yet even been born.
The Carper-Coburn bill (S. 1486) is the subject of congressional hearings this week. It threatens to make the situation worse, by eliminating Saturday mail service and door-to-door delivery and laying off more than 100,000 workers over several years. More…
In Around the web on September 24, 2013 at 8:00 am
From BRAIN PICKINGS
From Darwin to your dog, or why DNA copying errors explain blue eyes…
“Creationism is a small, dogmatic minority, legendary science writer and evolution-illuminator Stephen Jay Gould proclaimed, “and they make more noise than their numbers.” But despite Gould’s confident optimism, we live in an age when creationism is still taught in classrooms and mythology requires constant debunking with reality in order to keep the voice of reason from being drowned by that noise. Sometimes, however, it’s simply a matter of conveying the science of evolution with equal parts captivation and clarity.
Since the days of Darwin, the theory of evolution has lent itself to ample visualization, animation, and even rap. This lovely motion graphics piece combines animation and infographics to explain the complexity of evolution with delightful simplicity.
Complement with this graphic biography of Darwin, Neil deGrasse Tyson on why intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance, and the visual history of evolution.
In Around the web on September 23, 2013 at 9:31 am
From MOTHER JONES
Tom Engelhardt, who founded and runs the popular websiteTomDispatch, is a politician’s worst nightmare. In his new book,The United States of Fear,Engelhardt criticizes the right and the left in equal measure, challenging both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama for the wars they have engaged in and the costs associated with those wars. Engelhardt’s popular columns are republished on websites like ours, and his own site was borne out of the post-9/11 haze. That’s according to Engelhardt himself, who told fellow TomDispatch writer Nick Turse in 2006: “It was more an endless moment—those couple of months after 9/11 when, for a guy who was supposedly politically sophisticated, my reactions were naive as hell. I had this feeling that the horror of the event might somehow open us up to the world. It was dismaying to discover that, with the Bush administration’s help, we shut the world out instead.”
Engelhardt takes a hard look at what he calls the decline of the “American empire.” He draws a comparison between the path that the United States has taken More…
In Around the web on September 23, 2013 at 9:13 am
From COMMON DREAMS
The NSA Isn’t the Only Government Agency Exploiting Technology to Make Privacy Obsolete
For at least the last six years, government agents have been exploiting an AT&T database filled with the records of billions of American phone calls from as far back as 1987. The rationale behind this dragnet intrusion, codenamed Hemisphere, is to find suspicious links between people with “burner” phones (prepaid mobile phones easy to buy, use, and quickly dispose of), which are popular with drug dealers. The secret information gleaned from this relationship with the telecommunications giant has been used to convict Americans of various crimes, all without the defendants or the courts having any idea how the feds stumbled upon them in the first place. The program is so secret, so powerful, and so alarming that agents “are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” according to a recently released government PowerPoint slide.
You’re probably assuming that we’re talking about another blanket National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program focused on the communications of innocent Americans, as revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. We could be, but we’re not. More…
In Around the web on September 21, 2013 at 10:00 am
From ENERGY NEWS
A ban on fish and seafood imports from Japan, introduced on April 6 2011 in connection with the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, will remain in effect in full, the federal veterinary and phytosanitary oversight service Rosselkhoznadzor has reported.
It said the ban applies to 242 companies located in eight prefectures of Japan. The ban remains in effect despite Japanese officials’ repeated requests to lift it,” Rosselkhoznadzor said. This decision is based on the monitoring, run by Russian services, and by international and foreign organizations.
Five hundred and twenty-four Japanese companies that process fish from areas not contaminated after the accident have the right to export fish, fish products and seafood.
Products arriving from these companies are rigorously controlled for radiation, Rosselkhoznadzor said.
Kyodo News: S. Korea bans all fishery products from 8 Japan prefectures — Gov’t: Unclear how Fukushima incident will progress in future
South Korea announced Friday it has placed an import ban on all fisheries products from 8 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima. More…
In Around the web on September 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm
From CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Pollution, Disease and Ongoing Habitat Loss Push Many Toward Extinction
A new report by the Center for Biological Diversity today identifies the nation’s top 10 amphibians and reptiles in need of immediate federal protection to stave off extinction. The list includes a yellow-legged frog from California’s high Sierras, a 2-foot-long eastern salamander and a colorful northeastern turtle.
The report, Dying for Protection: The 10 Most Vulnerable, Least Protected Amphibians and Reptiles in the United States, details the population declines and ongoing threats that have left once-common species like the western pond turtle and boreal toad spiraling toward extinction.
“These increasingly rare frogs, salamanders and turtles are on the fast track toward extinction if we don’t step up and rescue them More…
In Around the web on September 18, 2013 at 7:52 am
From AKIO MATSUMURA
Japan’s Former Ambassador to Switzerland
Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel assemblies, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive assemblies are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that More…
In Around the web on September 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm
From CLIMATE CONNECTIONS
In recent years, Facebook has become an unexpectedly crucial tool for activism. The social media platform allows activists to efficiently connect and communicate with one another in order to arrange meetings, protests and boycotts. Unfortunately, activists who once found that Facebook helped make organizing easier are now encountering obstacles – and the resistance is coming from Facebook itself.
With little explanation, Facebook has been disabling pages related to activism. In some cases, administrators who set up the pages are no longer able to add updates. In others, the pages are being deleted entirely. Understandably, activists are frustrated when a network of 10,000 like-minded individuals is suddenly erased, leaving no way to reconnect with the group.
Realistically, that’s the downside of relying on a hundred billion dollar company. Facebook is a pro-business enterprise with countless partnerships that undoubtedly pressure the site to limit the types of socializing progressives may engage in, particularly activities that might harm advertisers’ profits. More…
In Around the web on September 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
EvolveSociety believes an ad-free social network that gives you complete control over your data is the future of social media, and essential to freedom in our quickly evolving, co-creative media landscape.
We feel it is urgent to evolve social technology as a utility on behalf of humanity, not for the commodification of the individual. We are starting this social network as a radical reboot of what a truly independent communication utility can stand for, in service to the US Constitution and Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Recent revelations that Facebook, Skype, Google, Apple, Microsoft and others have given the NSA access to their data as part of their covert PRISM program puts us all in an Orwellian nightmare. Our online communications More…
In Around the web on September 16, 2013 at 8:20 am
From REBECCA SOLNIT
I would have liked to know what the drummer hoped and what she expected. We’ll never know why she decided to take a drum to the central markets of Paris on October 5, 1789, and why, that day, the tinder was so ready to catch fire and a drumbeat was one of the sparks.
To the beat of that drum, the working women of the marketplace marched all the way to the Palace of Versailles More…
In Around the web on September 15, 2013 at 8:22 am
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Origins of Us tells the story of our species, homo sapiens. In every one of our bodies is the evidence of how we evolved away from our ape cousins to become the adaptable, successful species we are today.
Anatomist and physical anthropologist Dr Alice Roberts reveals the key adaptations in our body that has contributed to our extra-ordinary success. Far from being inevitable, the evolution of our species is a product of pure chance. And with each anatomical advantage comes a cost, which many of us are still paying today. Bad backs, painful childbirth, impacted wisdom teeth are all a by-product of our evolutionary success.
This is a journey through your own body, 6 million years and 300 000 generations of our family, from a tree dwelling ape in the forests of Africa, to you and the six billion other humans on Earth today.
In Around the web on September 15, 2013 at 8:21 am
From WASHINGTON’S BLOG
[Update: Typhoon headed for Fukushima tomorrow]
[Here is a visual tour of Fukushima's fuel pools, along with graphics of how the rods will be removed.]
The Real Problem …
The fact that the Fukushima reactors have been leaking huge amounts of radioactive water ever since the 2011 earthquake is certainly newsworthy. As are the facts that:
But the real problem is More…
In Around the web on September 14, 2013 at 8:30 am
From NATIONAL WHISTLEBLOWERS CENTER
|Bradley Birkenfeld blew the whistle on UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank. His disclosure and cooperation with U.S. authorities provided inside information into the bank’s conduct and began the dismantling of the historic secrecy of Swiss banks. Mr. Birkenfeld’s disclosure directly led to a ground-breaking legal settlement in which UBS agreed to pay $780 million in fines, and UBS and the Swiss Government have turned over the names of thousands of Americans suspected of illegal offshore banking.
In Around the web on September 12, 2013 at 8:58 am
From Maria Popova
“A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”
By 1897, Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828–November 20, 1910) was already a literary legend of worldwide acclaim and a man deeply invested in his ultimate quest to unravel the most important wisdom on life. But he shocked the world when he published What Is Art? (public library; public domain) that year — an iconoclastic , which gave us Tolstoy’s addition to history’s finest definitions of art and which pulled into question the creative merits of Shakespeare, Beethoven, and even his very own Anna Karenina. Underneath his then-radical and controversial reflections, however, lies a rich meditation on the immutable, eternal question of what art — especially “good art” — actually is, and how to tell it from its impostors and opposites.
Tolstoy puts forth a sentiment Susan Sontag would come to echo decades later in asserting that “art is a form of consciousness,” and frames the essential role of art as a vehicle of communication and empathy: More…
In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on September 11, 2013 at 9:24 am
From NAOMI KLEIN
Thanks to Linda Sanders
Author and journalist Naomi Klein speaking at the founding UNIFOR convention in Toronto on Sunday, September 1, 2013. (Photo: UNIFOR website)The following remarks were delivered on September 1, 2013 at thefounding convention of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union, and provided to Common Dreams by the author for publication.
I’m so very happy and honoured to be able to share this historic day with you.
The energy in this room — and the hope the founding of this new union has inspired across the country – is contagious.
It feels like this could be the beginning of the fight back we have all been waiting for, the one that will chase Harper from power and restore the power of working people in Canada.
So welcome to the world UNIFOR.
A lot of your media coverage so far has focused on how big UNIFOR is — the biggest private sector union in Canada. And when you are facing as many attacks as workers are in this country, being big can be very helpful. But big is not a victory in itself. More…
In Around the web on September 11, 2013 at 8:41 am
From JUAN COLE
In his speech to the nation on Tuesday evening, President Obama laid out his case for military action against Syria, even as he hit the ‘pause’ button to allow for further diplomacy in light of the Russian proposal to sequester Syria’s chemical weapons.
I don’t disagree that units of the Syrian military deployed chemical weapons against rebellious populations in the outskirts of Damascus, and that this serious breach of international law deserves condign punishment. However, leaked intelligence has raised questions about from how high in the government the command came, and it is possible that a local rogue commander exceeded his orders out of panic at a rebel advance. If Syria really could be referred to the International Criminal Court for this incident, it is not clear to me that prosecutors could get a conviction of President Bashar al-Assad. (Syria cannot be so referred at least so far, because the ICC only has jurisdiction if a country has signed the Rome Statute that created the court. The only way to get around this restriction is for the UN Security Council to forward a case to the ICC, which can be done even for non-signatories, as with Gaddafi’s Libya. Russia and China so far, however, have kept Syria from being so forwarded at the UNSC). More…
In Around the web on September 10, 2013 at 9:39 am
From MICHAEL T. KLARE
Thanks to Herb Ruhs
What sort of fabulous new energy systems will the world possess in 2040? Which fuels will supply the bulk of our energy needs? And how will that change the global energy equation, international politics, and the planet’s health? If the experts at the U.S. Department of Energy are right, the startling “new” fuels of 2040 will be oil, coal, and natural gas — and we will find ourselves on a baking, painfully uncomfortable planet.
It’s true, of course, that any predictions about the fuel situation almost three decades from now aren’t likely to be reliable. All sorts of unexpected upheavals and disasters in the years ahead make long-range predictions inherently difficult. This has not, however, deterred the Department of Energy from producing a comprehensive portrait of the world’s future energy system. Known as theInternational Energy Outlook (IEO), the assessment incorporates detailed projections of future energy production and consumption. Although dense with statistical data and filled with technical jargon, the 2013 report provides a unique and disturbing picture of our planetary future. More…
In Around the web on September 10, 2013 at 7:28 am
From GEORGE MONBIOT
You could almost pity these people. For 67 years successive US governments have resisted calls to reform the UN Security Council. They’ve defended a system which grants five nations a veto over world affairs, reducing all others to impotent spectators. They have abused the powers and trust with which they have been vested. They have collaborated with the other four permanent members (the UK, Russia, China and France) in a colonial carve-up, through which these nations can pursue their own corrupt interests at the expense of peace and global justice(1).
Eighty-three times the US has exercised its veto(2). On 42 of these occasions it has done so to prevent Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians from being censured(3). On the last occasion, 130 nations supported the resolution, but Obama spiked it(4). Though veto powers have been used less often since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US has exercised them 14 times since then (in 13 cases to shield Israel), while Russia has used them 9 times(5). Increasingly the permanent members have used the threat of a veto to prevent a resolution from being discussed. They have bullied the rest of the world into silence. More…
In Around the web on September 9, 2013 at 9:00 am
From JAMES HOWARD KUNTSLER
[I have been "taken to task" by some readers of this blog for publishing so much anti-religion material. However, religion is nothing but wishful thinking and fear that are used by political and capitalist scammers to take financial and social advantage of those who have "faith." In "Christian Nations" and "Muslim Nations" in particular, those belief systems run rife through all phases of our lives together and, as Christopher Hitchens so aptly put it, "religion poisons everything." Climate change denial, financial manipulations, corporate crime, class war, nature-rape, population explosion, resource overrun, privacy invasion, continuous resource wars... are all directly tied to false, irrational belief systems that need to be exposed for what they are: pure, childish, life-killing bullshit. -DS]
First: Paul Sabin’s stupid op-ed in The New York Times Saturday shows how intellectually bankrupt and pusillanimous the “newspaper of record” has become More…
In Around the web on September 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm
From NUCLEAR EMERGENCY TRACKING CENTER
There are very high levels of airborne radiation all over the U.S. right now. Have been watching NETC closely since yesterday. Alarmingly high levels, and they are not dropping. Watching the NETC website light up like Christmas tree lights with rising levels, elevated levels, levels which should trigger alarm, all over the U.S. Very few areas with levels which aren’t elevated… ~Energy News
In Around the web on September 7, 2013 at 9:00 am
[Please see first comment below... DS]
Does elevated, uncontrolled radiation gush–as from an artery–out of Japan’s maimed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and into the Pacific Ocean?
The world needs to know, because as vast as is the ocean, high levels of radiation emission into open water can have latent, crippling consequences. As an example, spawning sockeye salmon journey via the North Pacific Current from the top of Japan to Northern California, British Columbia and Alaska. This same current carries whatever Fukushima is in the process of vomiting forth, bathing salmon and herring all along the way in radioactive cesium. Hotspots of cesium-137, as high as 40,000 becquerels per kilogram, are detected in seabed depressions1.6 km off the coast. Japan has set 500 becquerels per kilogram in food as the maximum allowed.
People may ingest cesium-137 with food and water, or may inhale it as dust. If cesium-137 enters the body, it is distributed fairly uniformly throughout the body’s soft tissues, resulting in exposure of those tissues. Slightly higher concentrations of the metal are found in muscle, while slightly lower concentrations are found in bone and fat. Compared to some other radionuclides, cesium-137 remains in the body for a relatively short time. It is eliminated through the urine. Like all radionuclides, exposure to radiation from cesium-137 results in increased risk of cancer. (Environmental Protection Agency) More…
In Around the web on September 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm
From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
Author: The Long Descent
Forecasting the next 10 billion years on planet earth…
Earlier this week, I was trying to think of ways to talk about the gap between notions about the future we’ve all absorbed from the last three hundred years of fossil-fueled progress, on the one hand, and the ways of thinking about what’s ahead that might actually help us make sense of our predicament and the postpetroleum, post-progress world ahead, on the other. While I was in the middle of these reflections, a correspondent reminded me of a post from last year by peak oil blogger Ugo Bardi, which set out to place the crises of our time in the context of the next ten billion years. It’s an ambitious project, and by no means badly carried out. The only criticism that comes to mind is that it only makes sense if you happen to be a true believer in the civil religion of progress, the faith whose rise and impending fall has been a central theme here in recent months. As a sermon delivered to the faithful of that religion, it’s hard to beat; it’s even got the classic structure of evangelical rhetoric—the awful fate that will soon fall upon those who won’t change their wicked ways, the glorious salvation awaiting those who get right with Progress More…