Corporate clout backs climate deniers…


cA climate change protest against the influence of the billionaire Koch brothers in the US.

From Climate News Network

COP21: Analysis of millions of words written on the climate debate show how powerful forces make the contrarian network turn a blind eye to scientific evidence.

PARIS, 1 December, 2015 − The quality and language of climate change denial can be predicted by ties to “elite corporate benefactors”, according to new research.

And that could explain why still only 44% of Americans believe climate change is happening, despite nearly all climate science research pointing in one direction: that greenhouse warming as a consequence of human activity is real.

Justin Farrell, assistant professor of sociology at Yale University in the US, writes in Nature Climate Change that semantic analysis and statistical techniques can identify “organisational power” within the contrarian network that has somehow persuaded US voters that scientists are “divided” on the issue of climate change.

Researchers have already made connections between money from unnamed sources and the contrarian lobby. They have also shown that, either subtly or openly, the denial lobby has influenced the language of discussion about climate issues. And they have confirmed that the denialists are saying things that are at odds with the science.

Paris climate talks are doomed to failure – like all the others…



From The Ecologist

The most significant feature of COP21 is the topics that never even made it onto the agenda for discussion, writes Steffen Böhm. And the biggest of all the growth-driven economic system that ultimately thwarts all efforts at sustainability, as it drives ever increasing consumption of energy and resources.

Nobody who sits at the negotiation table in Paris has the mandate nor inclination to ask fundamental, systemic questions of the logic of the dominant economic system and the way we consume the resources of this planet.

Even if the world celebrates a Paris climate deal on 11th December, the process will still have to be regarded as failure. Let me explain why.

The basic reason is that the unequal distribution of carbon emissions is not even on its agenda. The historical responsibility of the West is not on the table, nor is a method of national carbon accounting that looks at how the emissions a country consumes rather than produces.

Instead, what is on the table are expanded and new mechanisms that will allow the rich, Western countries to outsource their emission cuts so they can paint themselves green.

When the figures are in, 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record and we’ve just reached 1C temperature rise since the industrial revolution, halfway to the 2C widely agreed to be the upper safe limit of global warming. It’s the fastest surface temperature increase in the world’s known geological history. We are now entering “uncharted territory”.

The dangers of global warming have been known – even to oil company executives – since at least the early 1980s. Yet, despite 25 years of UN-led climate talks, the world is burning more fossil fuels than ever.

This is not simply the fault of big emerging economies such as China, India or Brazil. Instead, what we are dealing with is the fundamental failure of neoliberal capitalism, the world’s dominant economic system, to confront its hunger for exponential growth that is only made possible by the unique energy density of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism


The Contrary Minister (2002)

A friend has worked for Planned Parenthood for a good many years. She lives in a major American city. She called recently and asked me to tell my readers about Christian terrorism right here in the United States.

She said: “Do your readers have any idea what it is like to go to work day after day wondering if there is some Christian nut waiting with a bomb or gun for you?”

Listen to Jerry Falwell: “The idea that church and state should be separated was invented by the devil to keep Christians from running this country. I really believe that the pagans… and the abortionists… and the feminists… and the gays and lesbians… as well as the ACLU and the People For The American Way… all of them… should take the blame for God allowing this to happen. I point my finger in their face and say that to them.” (talking about the Trade Center bombing.)

Christianist Republicans Systematically Incited Colorado Clinic Assault…



From Valerie Tarico

After months of verbal assault against Planned Parenthood and against women more broadly, Republican Christianists have gotten what they were asking for—bloodshed.

On November 27, a mass shooting left three dead and nine wounded at a Planned Parenthood clinic just miles from the headquarters of the Religious Right flagship, Focus on the Family. Was the shooting exactly what conservative Christian presidential candidates and members of congress wanted? Maybe, maybe not. But it is what they asked for. Republican members of the Religious Right incited violence as predictably as if they had issued a call for Christian abortion foes to take up arms. Inciting violence this way is called stochastic terrorism:

“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”

In an incident of stochastic terrorism, the person who pulls the trigger gets the blame. He—I use the male pronoun deliberately because the triggerman is almost always male—may go to jail or even be killed during his act of violence.

Meanwhile, the person or persons who have triggered the triggerman, in other words, the actual stochastic terrorists, often go free, protected by plausible deniability. The formula is perversely brilliant:

A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.

Christian Crock: The Top 9 Most Inconvenient Verses In The Bible! (for Christians, that is)…



TODD WALTON: Roads Not Taken



Trail To Garfield Peak (Crater Lake 2015) photo by Marcia Sloane

Under The Table

“Your life is the fruit of your own doing.” Joseph Campbell

Do you sometimes look back on your life and recall those turning points that made you the chiropractor you are today instead of a tax attorney, a real estate agent instead of a dance instructor, a massage therapist instead of a taxidermist, a school teacher instead of a stockbroker, a hedge fund billionaire instead of a white water tour guide—or vice-versa?

Or your daughter calls you from her dorm at Pepperdine and says something that makes you think of the dance your sophomore year in college when you snubbed Andy Philips who was crazy about you because you thought he was dorky, though you liked him and laughed easily with him and you both loved Dickens and bird watching and Joni Mitchell and Emily Dickinson, and you adored Andy’s voice and sense of humor, but you were smitten with Brad Hamilton who was a total hunk, so you did everything in your power to seduce him, and you succeeded and got pregnant and married Brad, though you and he had nothing in common, and you ended up with three kids in Modesto where Brad is a clerk at Home Depot and you are a legal secretary.

Hicks on Marketing…



Rev Billy: Blessed Are You…



Happy Thanksgiving from Gene and Carol Logsdon



Thom Hartmann: How Stupid Has the Democratic Party Become?



From Thom Hartmann

“Given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat who acts like a Republican; the voters will pick the Republican every time!”

Republicans haven’t taken over red states; Democrats have lost them by not running as real Democrats.

That’s my big takeaway from Alec MacGillis’ fascinating look into the biggest political mystery of our time: why poor white people in red states are not bothering to turn out to vote, leaving the field to Republicans elected by more affluent whites in those states.

There a lot of theories as to why this happens.

One of the most famous comes from Thomas Frank, who argued in his book What’s The Matter With Kansas? that poor white people vote Republican because Republicans have duped them into caring about social issues like abortion, guns, and gay marriage.

There is a lot to be said for that line of analysis, but Alec MacGillis, has a different theory.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Mornings with Heraclitus



The Contrary Minister

I have a regular morning ritual that starts my days with great Joy… it is a habit that I cherish. Sitting in front of my wood burning fire, with my pre dawn coffee, I read pages of Heraclitus, or other great literatuare. It starts my day on a noble plane. I would not wilt the freshest part of the day with the littleness and banalities of morning television and news.

The wood in my fireplace is REAL wood, not the gas fed artificial wood, real wood from a stack in my backyard where a friend brings in several a day and puts them by my living room fireplace. Growing up in West Texas, with real wood, for real fires, there could be no other kind for me.

In front of the fireplace is a hooked rug of Indian design with a sun burst. My two four legged soul mates adore curling up on it, two Shih-Tzu’s, and with me in my chair experience this magic time of the day. I live alone and this is a very precious time where silence and peace, tranquility and vision become present and clear.

WILL PARRISH: Mendocino Redwood Company’s New Public Relations Firm…




According to filings with the California Secretary of State’s office, Mendocino Redwood Company — Mendocino County’s largest and wealthiest landowner — has already spent $24,766.45 on a marketing campaign to defeat a potential ballot initiative that would curb the company’s practice of killing hardwood trees and leaving them standing-dead, known as “Hack ‘n’ Squirt.” The company has dispensed the vast majority of that sum, $19,838.93, to a Minnesota-based public relations firm named Risdall Marketing Group.

The same records shows that MRC has paid $3,393.68 to Sonoma Media Investments, LLC, the parent company of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, along with $855.21 to the Fort Bragg Advocate-News/The Mendocino Beacon — presumably for advertisements that have recently appeared in those publications.

In its public relations campaign, MRC has promoted the new Mendocino County Fire Safety Working Group, established this past spring by the Board of Supervisors, as an alternative to the ballot initiative. “With broad community participation the Working Group can develop real and useful answers to fire safety questions rather than passing new rules, regulations and restrictions,” MRC CEO Bob Mertz wrote in a letter to “Colleagues, Friends and Neighbors in Mendocino County” dated October 8th.

An effort to implant the word “treatment” in the public mind as a substitute for “poison” or “poisoning” has also been a centerpiece of the ad campaign. “In recent months, a public conversation was begun by a group of local residents regarding the practice of treating tan oak in the forest,” Mertz’ letter stated. “The treatment of tan oak occurs throughout Mendocino County to restore the redwood and Douglas fir trees across public and private land. Our company, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC), has been treating tan oak in the forest since we acquired the forestlands in 1998.”



Independent:Dependent Lily Cai Dance Company © 2015 David Jouris : Motion Pictures

Independent/Dependent (Lily Cai Dance Company) copyright 2015 David Jouris/Motion Pictures

Under The Table

“When we become truly ourselves, we just become a swinging door, and we are purely independent of, and at the same time, dependent upon everything.” Shunryu Suzuki

As I was sitting by the woodstove last night—this November much colder than last—scribbling away on my latest something, I was struck by how little connection I feel to the books and stories and plays I’ve written over the last forty years, or even to the book I finished writing earlier this year.

How does it happen that something I thought about constantly and worked on for several hours every day for months on end is now but a vague memory? How can something that meant so much to me, mean so little now? Can the creative heart really be so fickle?

Then this morning our neighbor came by with a dozen beautiful blue and brown and white eggs just laid by his prolific chickens, and I thought I’m a hen, and the egg I’m laying right now is the most important egg in the world to me, but a few eggs hence I won’t remember this egg at all.

Bernie Sanders on Democratic Socialism and Defeating ISIS…


Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, spoke about democratic socialism and how the controversial idea can help Americans in their everyday lives. He referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights,” a program for economic and social justice advanced in 1944 but not yet achieved. Other topics included his ideas for defeating ISIL and whether or not the U.S. should accept refugees following the Paris attacks the previous week.

FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights…




Excerpt from January 11, 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.“Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

GENE LOGSDON: How Can You Keep Them Down In Paree’, After They’ve Seen The Farm?



The Contrary Farmer

​Although the song “How Can You Keep Them Down The Farm, Now That They’ve Seen Paree?” is nearly a hundred years old (1919) and just as stupid then as now, it still lingers around the edges of popular music. The notion was that when American soldiers were shipped to Europe to fight WW 1, the glitter of the big city would sweep the dumb yokels off their feet and they’d never be content to go back to forking manure and providing the food for all those terribly intelligent, educated people for whom actual physical work was beneath their dignity. The song was meant at least partially as humor but like all things humorous, its roots were fed by the rich loam of cultural prejudice. It might not exactly be racism in the biological sense but it is very much so in the division of labor sense. Those who have to do the “niggah work” are just not smart enough for the challenges of intellectual pursuits. I tend to overreact to this bias ever since a cultural historian advised me to stick to writing about corn and leave important decisions about human progress to people better equipped for it, like of course him. He did not even know that I had as much accreditation in human cultural studies as he did. But that is not the point. He was exhibiting what in my opinion is the most destructive kind of cultural bias, as if sitting in an office cubicle all day staring out the window and waiting for your computer to tell you what to do next is a higher calling than the window cleaner who keeps the windows clear enough to see through.

​From the most ancient times, the division of labor has reeked with bias against physical work. Smart people don’t dig ditches even though it takes brains and skill to dig ditches properly. For that reason, farm work has rarely been held in esteem. Farm children used to be told that the only way to success was to flee the farm. Those smart enough to know how wrong that was and stuck with farming are as rich today as any “professional” in town. None of the ones I know even bothered to go to college.

The media and the Paris terror attacks…



Thanks to Jim

Last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris have triggered an international media campaign aimed at inspiring panic and justifying an escalation of the wars in the Middle East and the assault on democratic rights within the US and Europe.

The establishment media accepts uncritically all of the claims of government officials, as well as their cynical statements of sympathy for the victims and their self-serving denunciations of the killers as evil incarnate. It works to use the latest attack to legitimize the wars and repressive measures that produced it and previous terrorist atrocities, while setting the stage for wider wars and outright dictatorship.

The calls for more troops and bombs in Syria and even more pervasive government spying, harsher policies against immigrants and other undemocratic measures have nothing to do with protecting anybody. They are about implementing pre-existing plans to seize the oil resources of the Middle East and clamp down on restive populations within the imperialist countries.

CNN, for example, has been recycling a video clip of Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, declaring that she has premonitions of disaster like those she had just before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The Washington Post published an editorial Tuesday denouncing President Obama’s policy in Syria as insufficiently aggressive. It called for increasing the deployment of Special Forces troops beyond the level announced by Obama earlier this month, using drone missiles, and setting up so-called “safe zones” as staging grounds for an offensive to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

FAIR: Context-Free Coverage of Terror Helps Perpetuate Its Causes…


From Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

At the time of the attacks in Paris, FAIR’s website led with a piece by Ben Norton (11/13/15) about US reporting on the ISIS bombing in Beirut—noting references to the civilian neighborhood targeted by the bombing as a Hezbollah “stronghold” (MSNBC11/13/15), “bastion” (Reuters11/12/15) or “area” (NPR11/12/15). Given this framing—and the generally limited amount of coverage granted to the Lebanese victims—it’s unsurprising that the Beirut terror failed to provoke the same sorrow, horror and identification among US audiences that the Paris massacres did.

It feels callous to question the allocation of outrage; empathy is in such short supply in this world that one hesitates to question it when it emerges. But as a long-time citizen of New York City, I’m all too aware of the weaponization of grief. The outpouring of no-context, ahistorical sympathy after 9/11 helped pave the way for a violent reaction that killed in Iraq alone roughly 150 times as many people as died in Lower Manhattan  that day—an opportunistic catastrophe that did more to mock than avenge those deaths.

Just as the question of Al-Qaeda’s motives in 2001 provoked more self-congratulation than serious inquiry (Extra! Update10/01), coverage of Paris in 2015 tends to skirt over political realities. Thus the New York Times (11/13/15) could report: “A stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?” The obvious answer was alluded to obliquely by a soccer stadium spectator: “With all the strikes in Syria, we’re not safe anymore.”

America’s Empire of African Bases…


U.S. military outposts, port facilities, and other areas of access in Africa, 2002-2015 (Nick Turse/TomDispatch, 2015) 

[Note for TomDispatch Readers:  Last week, Nick Turse appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss his superb TomDispatch work on Special Operations forces and his new Dispatch book, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in AfricaClick here to check him out at DN! (or here for the online extended interview). Then, if you’d like a personalized, signed copy of his new book, just go to the TD donation page. For $100 — and the knowledge that you’ve helped this website roll into 2016 — it’s yours! Tom]

As I’ve written elsewhere, what Chalmers Johnson called America’s “empire of bases” was “not so much our little secret as a secret we kept even from ourselves” — at least until Johnson broke the silence and his book Blowback became a bestseller in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.  In those years, however, if (like Johnson) you actually wanted to know about the way the U.S. garrisoned the world, you could profitably start simply by reading the Pentagon’s tabulations of its global garrisons, ranging from military bases the size of small American towns to what were then starting to be called “lily pads,” which were small sites in potential global hot spots stocked with pre-positioned materiel and ready for instant occupation.  It was all there on the record for those who cared to know.  Well, perhaps not quite all there, but enough of it certainly to get a sense of what the “American Raj” (as Johnson called it) looked like from Europe to Asia, Latin America to the Persian Gulf.

Sam Harris: Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon…



From Sam Harris (9/10/14)

In his speech responding to the horrific murder of journalist James Foley by a British jihadist, President Obama delivered the following rebuke (using an alternate name for ISIS):

ISIL speaks for no religion… and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt…. we will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for. May God bless and keep Jim’s memory. And may God bless the United States of America.

In his subsequent remarks outlining a strategy to defeat ISIS, the President declared:

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim…. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way…. May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

As an atheist, I cannot help wondering when this scrim of pretense and delusion will be finally burned away—either by the clear light of reason or by a surfeit of horror meted out to innocents by the parties of God. Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder? It may be true that no faith teaches people to massacre innocents exactly—but innocence, as the President surely knows, is in the eye of the beholder. Are apostates “innocent”? Blasphemers? Polytheists? Islam has the answer, and the answer is “no.”

More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. In fact, this group has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq. This is an astonishing phenomenon, and it reveals some very uncomfortable truths about the failures of multiculturalism, the inherent vulnerability of open societies, and the terrifying power of bad ideas. 


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