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Back To Doom…

 

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From Ran Prieur

Esquire has a new article about the emotions of climate scientists, and it mentions scenarios all the way from human extinction to “We can solve this problem in a way that doesn’t disrupt our lifestyle.”

I want to divide this topic into three levels: science, society, and psychology. Science can tell us about rising temperatures and melting glaciers and acidifying oceans. A good book on this subject is Under A Green Sky by Peter Ward. This is the worst scenario you can get to with good science, and still Ward admits that it won’t be as extreme as the Permian-Triassic extinction, because too much carbon has been locked up in limestone. And even the P-T extinction only killed 70% of land vertebrate species. It’s not a lottery — the delicate specialist species go first, and humans are among the toughest and most adaptable.

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door…

 

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Jim Jeffries on Gun Control…


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The reason I’m no longer a doomer…

 

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From Ran Prieur

The reason I’m no longer a doomer is simply that I got tired of being wrong. And I started to feel contempt for other doomers who shamelessly made the same wrong predictions year after year. And you have to make precise predictions because otherwise what does “collapse” even mean? Do you think we’re still going to have internet? Container ships? Large scale grain farming? Banks? Taxes? Electrical grids? Hospitals? Stock markets? Elections? These are all different subjects that require different specialized knowledge. Even something like “manufacturing” could have vastly different answers for different products. And for each thing that’s going to go away, how long will it take, and by what chain of events?

Everyone wants to be right, but people who persist in being doomers want to be right in a different way than I do. I want to say what’s going to happen, and then it actually happens. Some people want to feel like they understand the mechanism for how things happen. But the real world is much too complex for any one person to understand, so we make simplifications. In the context of collapse, the simplest idea is business as usual plus sci-fi extrapolation. The next simplest idea is total collapse: every one of the above things goes away, because they’re all part of the same One Big Thing, and some of the conditions that made the One Big Thing possible are disappearing.

Everyone is stupid, but smart people know how they’re stupid. I know that modern civilization is only One Big Thing inside my head, and out in the world it’s billions of people I don’t know, their knowledge and habits and intentions, plus trillions of physical objects and all the connections between everything. I know that you can’t have perpetual economic growth on a finite planet, that renewable energy is not coming online fast enough for a smooth transition out of fossil fuels, and that presently fertile regions will become deserts; but it would be arrogant to think that large complex high-tech society cannot adapt to these conditions, just because I can’t personally imagine how it can adapt.
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Reaganism: A Failure From Kansas to Greece…

  

From THOM HARTMANN
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Last Battles

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From The New Yorker
Thanks to Janie

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
In some future footnote or parenthetical aside, it may be observed that although General Robert E. Lee surrendered in 1865, the Confederacy’s final retreat did not occur until a century and a half later. The rearguard movement of Republicans in the aftermath of the slaughter in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church marked the relinquishing of the Confederacy’s best-fortified positions: the cultural ones. We have for decades willfully coexisted with a translucent lie about the bloodiest conflict in American history and the moral questions at its center. Amid the calls last week to lower the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol, the defenders of the flag averred that it represents “heritage, not hate.” The great sleight of hand is the notion that these things were mutually exclusive.

Americans, both in the South and beyond, attach a particular brand of exceptionalism to the region. This is the reason that there is a Southern Historical Association but not a Northern one; a genre known as Southern literature but no Northern corollary; and a concept of Southern politics as something distinct from the national variety. The notion of the Confederate flag as a benign tribute to that exceptionalism rests upon another premise that illustrated, long before our present concerns with climate change and vaccination did, the political usefulness of denial: the idea that the Civil War was not fought over slavery—a claim that would have bewildered those who served in it—allowed Southerners to memorialize the leaders of an armed insurrection without the sticky moral baggage of bondage attached.

That interpretation held that the war was sparked by a conflict over tariffs that penalized Southern agriculture to the benefit of Northern industry. Or, more vaguely, that the war was fought over “states’ rights.” This evasion proved amazingly effective. Monuments to the valor of the Confederate ideal dot the South like matériel left on a battlefield. But none of these arguments bear scrutiny. Were the Southerners who erected those monuments concerned primarily about the valor of men, there would be many more dedicated to the former slaves who fought for the Union and risked death or, arguably worse, reënslavement. Were the war mainly about tariffs, we would be left to think that these fugitives fled farms and plantations to join the Union Army because of their abiding belief in trade protectionism. Or that the nearly forty thousand of them who died did so defending their views on Federalism. The Confederates themselves did not believe this. Here is the South Carolina convention in 1860, explaining the rationale for secession:

Why I Left The Scientology Cult…

 

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From Gawker

I was a Scientologist for eight years. Although I identified as one I didn’t really understand what actually being a Scientologist fully entailed until after a couple of years of being heavily indoctrinated. The reality of Scientology is deceptively hidden and cleverly disguised. When I look at Scientology today, I have to forgive myself for not seeing through the manipulation sooner. I’ve spent the last 13 years keeping Scientology out of my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve realized that the religion is built on a foundation of violence. I’m proud to add my voice to the many who, despite fear of retribution and humiliation, have come forward to tell of our experiences. This is my story.

The day I was taken to The Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles for the first time, I had no idea how much the visit would change and shape me into the person I am today. Or what I’d be like if the fates had something different in mind for me.

I bought a one-way ticket from Georgia to California when I was 19. My dream was to be an actor. Four months after arriving, I met the person who would introduce me to the organization around which my life would soon begin to revolve. Jason Lee, the actor best known for My Name is Earl, and I were introduced at an action sports trade show in San Diego where I was working as a model for an indie clothing label. Jason was at the height of his pro-skateboard success. We got married in 1995 after being together for one year. 

What This Cruel War Was Over…

 

cThe Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery

From The Atlantic

The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the  people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

Why the Saudis Are Going Solar…

 

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From The Atlantic

The fate of one of the biggest fossil-fuel producers may now depend on its investment in renewable energy.

Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud belongs to the family that rules Saudi Arabia. He wears a white thawb and ghutra, the traditional robe and headdress of Arab men, and he has a cavernous office hung with portraits of three Saudi royals. When I visited him in Riyadh this spring, a waiter poured tea and subordinates took notes as Turki spoke. Everything about the man seemed to suggest Western notions of a complacent functionary in a complacent, oil-rich kingdom.

But Turki doesn’t fit the stereotype, and neither does his country. Quietly, the prince is helping Saudi Arabia—the quintessential petrostate—prepare to make what could be one of the world’s biggest investments in solar power.Near Riyadh, the government is preparing to build a commercial-scale solar-panel factory. On the Persian Gulf coast, another factory is about to begin producing large quantities of polysilicon, a material used to make solar cells. And next year, the two state-owned companies that control the energy sector—Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, and the Saudi Electricity Company, the kingdom’s main power producer—plan to jointly break ground on about 10 solar projects around the country.

The Religious Right’s Full Page Denunciation of the United States Constitution…

 

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From PoliticusUSA

As theocracy arrives in North Carolina and Michigan, the Religious Right, going with its penchant for hyperbolic full-page ads in major newspapers, publicly announced last week that if forced to choose between Bible and Constitution, the Constitution will lose.

Then, almost as though begging us to laugh at them, they used their various propaganda organs like the Tea Party, The Catholic Beat, Christian Examiner, World Net Daily, and so forth, to announce how heroic and great they are for putting their unconstitutional AND unbiblical beliefs on full display.

The ad, which took the form of an open letter to the Supreme Court, appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, and in other papers, offered us the voice of all the usual suspects – Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Frank Pavone, Don Wildmon, Jerry Boykin, Alveda King and Alan Keyes:

“We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”

Wow, that would be great but these folks have demonstrated their lack of a biblical understanding of marriage, because there is very little in the way of examples of biblical marriages that are between one man and one woman.

California is literally sinking, and it’s getting worse……

 

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From Reveal

California is sinking—and fast.

While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it.

Last summer, scientists recorded the worst sinking in at least 50 years. This summer, all-time records are expected across the state as thousands of miles of land in the Central Valley and elsewhere sink.

Some places in California are sinking more than a foot per year.

The Cost of China’s Industrialization: 700 Million People with Diabesity /Cancer /Lung Disease and 225 Million with Mental Disorders

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From Charles Hugh Smith

That the China Story is going to implode is already baked into the public health catastrophe that will unfold with a vengeance in the coming decade.

The financial pundits gushing over “The China Story”–that the Middle Kingdom’s industrialization is a permanent boon to the global economy and China’s poor–never calculate the human cost of that runaway industrialization and the vast inequalities it has unleashed.

The human cost is staggering: at least half the population is suffering from chronic lifestyle/environmental-related illnesses and 225 million suffer from mental disorders. For context, the population of China is estimated to be 1.39 billion, roughly 4.4 times the U.S. population of 317 million, and about 20% of the total global population.

Here are some estimates of China’s public health problems: (source links below)

An Organized Collection of Irrational Nonsense…

qFrom here

Click on image to enlarge…
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WikiLeaks Strikes Again: Leaked TISA Docs Expose Corporate Plan For Reshaping Global Economy…

 
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Leaked Docs reveal that little-known corporate treaty poised to privatize and deregulate public services across globe…

“It’s a dark day for democracy when we are dependent on leaks like this for the general public to be informed of the radical restructuring of regulatory frameworks that our governments are proposing,” said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. (Image created by Common Dreams)

An enormous corporate-friendly treaty that many people haven’t heard of was thrust into the public limelight Wednesday when famed publisher of government and corporate secrets, WikiLeaks, released 17 documents from closed-door negotiations between countries that together comprise two-thirds of the word’s economy.

Analysts warn that preliminary review shows that the pact, known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), is aimed at further privatizing and deregulating vital services, from transportation to healthcare, with a potentially devastating impact for people of the countries involved in the deal, and the world more broadly.

It’s Time to Let Edward Snowden Come Home…

 

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From The New Yorker

The President and others have praised the U.S.A. Freedom Act, but haven’t mention the blindingly obvious fact that without Edward Snowden the law wouldn’t exist.

Now that Congress has passed, and President Obama has signed, the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which places some limits on the domestic-surveillance powers of the National Security Agency, there’s still unfinished business to deal with.

The new legislation, while it is commendable as far as it goes, contains some obvious shortcomings. Barring the N.S.A. from collecting and holding the phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans was a necessary step, but it won’t make much difference if the result is that the phone companies hold on to the data and secret courts enable the N.S.A. to access it virtually at will. The legislation leaves on the books a law from 1986 that allows the government to read any e-mail that is more than six months old, and it doesn’t change Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which the N.S.A. has used to justify collecting not just metadata, such as phone records, but the actual contents of communications, such as e-mails and online chats.

Another matter still at hand is the fate of Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who has been languishing in Vladimir Putin’s Russia for almost two years. In a statement that President Obama issued shortly before signing the new law, he said, “For the past eighteen months, I have called for reforms that better safeguard the privacy and civil liberties of the American people while ensuring our national security officials retain tools important to keeping Americans safe … enactment of this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs.” Nowhere did the President or the new law’s sponsors on Capitol Hill state the blindingly obvious: that if it hadn’t been for Snowden’s leaks, the intelligence agencies’ excesses would never have come to light, the U.S.A. Freedom Act wouldn’t exist, and the N.S.A. would still be merrily sweeping up phone records and analyzing them as it saw fit. (My colleague Mattathias Schwartz argued last week that Snowden shouldn’t have been necessary.)

Students! Resist the Corporate Cult Soul Suckers…

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Amputating Life Close to Its Base

How the universities allow a corporate cult to capture and destroy their best students

From Monbiot

To seek enlightenment, intellectual or spiritual; to do good; to love and be loved; to create and to teach: these are the highest purposes of humankind. If there is meaning in life, it lies here.

Those who graduate from the leading universities have more opportunity than most to find such purpose. So why do so many end up in pointless and destructive jobs? Finance, management consultancy, advertising, public relations, lobbying: these and other useless occupations consume thousands of the brightest students. To take such jobs at graduation, as many will in the next few weeks, is to amputate life close to its base.

I watched it happen to my peers. People who had spent the preceding years laying out exultant visions of a better world, of the grand creative projects they planned, of adventure and discovery, were suddenly sucked into the mouths of corporations dangling money like angler fish. At first they said they would do it for a year or two, “until I pay off my debts.” Soon afterwards they added: “ … and my mortgage.” Then it became, “I just want to make enough not to worry anymore”. A few years later, “I’m doing it for my family”. Now, in middle age, they reply, “What, that? That was just a student fantasy.”

Going for Broke in Ponzi Scheme America…

 

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 From TomDispatch

[Note to TomDispatch Readers: I’ve long had a weakness for commencement addresses, or at least for what they might be rather than what they usually are, which is why, I suppose, I’ve written them relatively regularly myself.  Since no actual college or graduating class has ever asked me to give such a speech, I’ve addressed the graduates of 2014 and other years from what I’ve called “the campus of my mind.” This year, given the increasing strangeness of our American world and the rising debt under which college students labor, I couldn’t resist doing so again. Tom]

You’ve Been Scammed! 
Kept Politicians and Demobilized Americans in a System Without a Name 

It couldn’t be a sunnier, more beautiful day to exit your lives — or enter them — depending on how you care to look at it. After all, here you are four years later in your graduation togs with your parents looking on, waiting to celebrate. The question is: Celebrate what exactly?

In possibly the last graduation speech of 2015, I know I should begin by praising your grit, your essential character, your determination to get this far. But today, it’s money, not character, that’s on my mind. For so many of you, I suspect, your education has been a classic scam and you’re not even attending a “for profit” college — an institution of higher learning, that is, officially set up to take you for a ride.

Maybe this is the moment, then, to begin your actual education by looking back and asking yourself what you should really have learned on this campus and what you should expect in the scams — I mean, years — to come. Many of you — those whose parents didn’t have money — undoubtedly entered these stately grounds four years ago in relatively straitened circumstances.  In an America in which corporate profits have risen impressively, it’s been springtime for billionaires, but when it comes to ordinary Americans, wages have been relatively stagnant, jobs (the good ones, anyway) generally in flight, and times not exactly of the best.  Here was a figure that recently caught my eye, speaking of the world you’re about to step into: in 2014, the average CEO received 373 times the compensation of the average worker.  Three and a half decades ago, that number was a significant but not awe-inspiring 42 times.

Still, you probably arrived here eager and not yet in debt. Today, we know that the class that preceded you was the most indebted in the history of higher education, and you’ll surely break that “record.” And no wonder, with college tuitions still rising wildly (up 1,120% since 1978).  Judging by last year’s numbers, about 70% of you had to take out loans simply to make it through here, to educate yourself.  That figure was a more modest 45% two decades ago.  On average, you will have rung up least $33,000 in debt and for some of you the numbers will be much higher.  That, by the way, is more than double what it was those same two decades ago.

Bill Moyers: The Challenge of Journalism Is to Survive in the Pressure Cooker of Plutocracy…

 
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From Bill Moyers

The following remarks were made by Bill Moyers at the presentation of the Helen Bernstein Book Awards for Excellence in Journalism. The ceremony took place at the New York Public Library on May 26, 2015.


Thank you for allowing me to share this evening with you. I’m delighted to meet these exceptional journalists whose achievements you honor with the Helen Bernstein Book Award.

But I gulped when [New York Public Library President] Tony Marx asked me to talk about the challenges facing journalism today and gave me 10 to 15 minutes to do so. I seriously thought of taking a powder. Those challenges to journalism are so well identified, so mournfully lamented, and so passionately debated that I wonder if the subject isn’t exhausted. Or if we aren’t exhausted from hearing about it. I wouldn’t presume to speak for journalism or for other journalists or for any journalist except myself. Ted Gup, who teaches journalism at Emerson and Boston College, once bemoaned the tendency to lump all of us under the term “media.” As if everyone with a pen, a microphone, a camera (today, a laptop or smartphone) – or just a loud voice – were all one and the same. I consider myself a journalist. But so does James O’Keefe. Matt Drudge is not E.J. Dionne. The National Review is not The Guardian, or Reuters TheHuffington Post. Ann Coulter doesn’t speak for Katrina vanden Heuvel, or Rush Limbaugh for Ira Glass. Yet we are all “media” and as Ted Gup says, “the media” speaks for us all.

What happens to a society fed a diet of rushed, re-purposed, thinly reported “content?” Or “branded content” that is really merchandising — propaganda — posing as journalism?

Saul Alinsky: I’m Still Irreverent…

 
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From Reveille For Radicals (1969)

Disillusionment’s child is irreverence, and irreverence became one of my major heritages from an angry, irreverent generation. In this way I have not changed. I am still irreverent. I still feel the same contempt for and still reject so-called objective decisions made without passion and anger. Objectivity, like the claim that one is nonpartisan or reasonable, is usually a defensive posture used by those who fear involvement in the passions, partisanships, conflicts, and changes that make up life; they fear life. An “objective” decision is generally lifeless. It is academic and the word “academic” is a synonym for irrelevant. All radicals acting for change must attack the sacred cows of the past and many of the present. These sacred cows are accepted as germinal truths and serve as the supporting rationale for the ways of the past. A scared human being gives birth to a sacred cow. Since the genesis and survival of sacred cows is rooted in fear and reverence, it follows that those who want change must be against sacred cows and not only innately irreverent but outwardly, purposefully irreverent in their actions. They must be iconoclastic bulldozers willing to be regarded as profane spoilers of the sacred myths.

More punk, less hell!

 
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An extraordinary political experiment took place in Iceland: anarchists governed the capital city of Reykjavik for four years – and the amateurs achieved some astonishing successes.

From Ausland

When the ballots had been counted, the Prime Minister of Iceland declared the result a «shock».

The same sense of shock was felt by almost everyone. The old guard, because it had lost. And the new party, because it had won.

There had never been such a result – not in Iceland or anywhere else. Reykjavik had long been a bastion of the conservatives. That was now history. With 34.7% of the vote, the city had voted a new party into power: the anarcho-surrealists.

The leading candidate, Jón Gnarr, a comedian by profession, entered the riotous hall full of drunken anarchists looking rather circumspect. Almost shyly, he raised his fist and said: «Welcome to the revolution!» And: «Hurray for all kinds of things!»

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