October 22, 2011
Climate change deniers thought they had an ally in Richard Muller, a popular physics professor at UC Berkeley.
Muller didn’t reject climate science per se, but he was a skeptic, and a convenient one for big polluters and conservative anti-environmentalists — until Muller put their money where his mouth was, and launched the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, in part with a grant from the Charles G. Koch foundation.
After extensive study, he’s concluded that the existing science was right all along — that the earth’s surface is warming, at an accelerating rate. But instead of second-guessing themselves, his erstwhile allies of convenience are now abandoning him.
“When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.”
That’s put a small but influential group of anthropogenic global warming skeptics and climate change deniers on the war path.
AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.
The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).
“Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it’s conspiracy theories or free-market,” says James Glattfelder. “Our analysis is reality-based.”
Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world’s economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy – whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.
The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.
From The Story of Stuff: http://storyofbottledwater.org
By The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/opinion/party-of-pollution.html?src=tp&smid=fb-share
By PAUL KRUGMAN
October 20, 2011
Last month President Obama finally unveiled a serious economic stimulus plan — far short of what I’d like to see, but a step in the right direction. Republicans, predictably, have blocked it. But the new plan, combined with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, seems to have shifted the national conversation. We are, suddenly, focused on what we should have been talking about all along: jobs.
So what is the G.O.P. jobs plan? The answer, in large part, is to allow more pollution. So what you need to know is that weakening environmental regulations would do little to create jobs and would make us both poorer and sicker.
Now it would be wrong to say that all Republicans see increased pollution as the answer to unemployment. Herman Cain says that the unemployed are responsible for their own plight — a claim that, at Tuesday’s presidential debate, was met with wild applause.
Both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have, however, put weakened environmental protection at the core of their economic proposals, as have Senate Republicans. Mr. Perry has put out a specific number — 1.2 million jobs — that appears to be based on a study released by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association, claiming favorable employment effects from removing restrictions on oil and gas extraction. The same study lies behind the claims of Senate Republicans.
Why don’t we start telling it like it is. Conservative values are the values of the Confederacy and not American Values.
From The Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-challenges-alabama-policy-that-denies-right-to-marry
In a class action lawsuit filed today, the Southern Poverty Law Center challenged a policy of the Montgomery County Probate Office in Alabama and probate offices across the state that denies undocumented individuals and U.S. citizens whose intended spouses are undocumented their constitutional right to marry.
The policy, enforced in 54 of Alabama’s 67 counties, requires non-citizens who are seeking to obtain a marriage license to provide proof of their legal presence through a visa, green card or similar immigration document. The suit also challenges policies that require, without exception, marriage license applicants to provide a Social Security card, which undocumented persons cannot obtain.
The SPLC filed the case on behalf of Linda Smith, a U.S. citizen, and “John Doe,” an undocumented immigrant. Smith and Doe have lived together in a committed relationship for nine years. Doe provides companionship and critical financial support to Smith and their family, including Smith’s two children and grandchild.
The couple wishes to express their love for and commitment to one another by getting married and obtaining the economic, emotional and psychological benefits of marriage. But they can’t obtain a marriage license from Montgomery County Probate Judge Reese McKinney’s office or from the offices of most other probate judges in Alabama because Doe cannot provide proof of legal residence or a Social Security card.
“This arbitrary policy attacks one of the most fundamental rights in this country – the right to marry,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer. “There is no reason why anyone should have to produce their ‘papers’ before they say, ‘I do.’”
In addition to McKinney, the lawsuit is directed at probate judges who enforce the policy even though it is not required by any federal or state law, including the Alabama’s recently passed anti-immigrant law, HB 56. The lawsuit seeks class action status to represent couples across the state who would be denied a marriage license due to such a policy.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to marry to all people, regardless of immigration status. The lawsuit charges that the Montgomery County Probate Office’s marriage license policy, and similar policies in other counties, violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.
“Marriage licenses should be issued after a couple has professed their commitment to each other, not upon the showing of a nine-digit number,” said Freddy Rubio, co–counsel on the case. “Hispanic immigrants share the same religious and family values with Alabamians. We value living with our partner within marriage. This type of policy undermines those traditional values.”
The lawsuit also cites a 2004 opinion from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office that states “a marriage license can be issued to an applicant who is not a United States citizen.” A 2008 opinion from the office concluded that a “social security number is not a required element for a person to receive a marriage license.”
“This policy serves no legitimate purpose other than to make life miserable for two people who love each other and wish to marry,” Bauer said. “This misguided policy must end.”
By Paul B. Farrell
Oct. 18, 2011
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Worst-case scenario’s closing fast: Occupy Wall Street growing. But no political power or allies yet. Feared yes, attacked by GOP proxy tea party. Soon the Occupation will explode into a new American Revolution.
When? A string of European bank collapses is dead ahead. And like the Arab Spring, they will trigger an economic disaster for American banks.
Yes, coming soon says Martin Weiss in his “7 Major Advance Warnings,” which is “bound to have a life-changing impact on nearly all investors in the U.S. and around the globe.” His new Weiss Ratings warnings are the “most important” in a 40-year career. The stress on Wall Street banks will force them back to Congress for more bailouts.
Warning eight: No new bailouts. That will push the economy into a deep recession.
Then what? New Glass-Steagall? Not enough. Tax the rich? Not enough. Perp walks? Not enough. Presidential commission? Useless promises. Occupy Wall Street will fail without a fundamental constitutional change. No compromise. Or Wall Street wins, again. We go back to the same free market, deregulated, too-greedy to-fail, conservative Reaganomics policies that have been destroying democracy for a generation.
All this was so obvious, so predictable. America is at a crossroads. Occupy Wall Street buildup has emerged as America’s last great hope to restore democracy. Last week when USA Today called the Occupiers a “ragtag assortment of college kids, labor unionists, conspiracy theorists and others” hinting they’re a flash-in-the-pan “devoid of remedies,” I smiled, reminded of that famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas 1776, leading what historians also called a “ragtag” Continental Army, surprising the British, and winning the Battle of Trenton.
Yes, USA Today sees a “ragtag” army: No mission, no goals, no organization, no agenda, no leaders, and no staying power. Wrong. Look deeper: The Occupiers are the voice of America’s collective conscience demanding a return to our 1776 roots, to a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Our collective inner voice knows America’s moral compass is broken. We’ve become a government “of, by and for” special interests, the wealthiest 1%, Wall Street insiders, CEOs and Forbes-400 billionaires. It happened fast: In one generation the Super Rich grabbed “absolute power,” killing the middle class American dream.
From The Edge Boston: http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?id=125779
by Eric Miller
Friday Oct 21, 2011
When Michael Diviesti spoke about 9-9-9, he wasn’t referring to Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s tax plan. Instead he was referring to nine marches and nine wedding ceremonies in nine Texas cities organized by GetEQUAL Texas and others interested in a more pro-active approach to gaining marriage equality in the Lone Star State.
In the end, there weren’t nine wedding ceremonies, only three of the cities had ceremonies, but the effort brought out as many as 2,500 people across the state in support of the cause on Saturday, Oct. 15.
“Prior to now street-level organizing has been reactive and this is the first time we’ve seen a pro-active stance in the South,” said Tiffani Bishop, an organizer for the event in Austin.
“We’re stepping forward to move our rights in the right direction,” added organizer Jay Morris.
The nine participating cities included Austin, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Harlingen, Houston, Huntsville, Odessa, and San Antonio. Wedding ceremonies were performed in Dallas, where as many as 10 exchanged vows. Sixteen marriages took place in Austin, and four couples tied the knot in San Antonio.
Continue reading at: http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?id=125779
From The Winnipeg Free Press: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/research-shows-organics-are-no-longer-marginal-132370223.html
By: Laura Rance
Organic farmers and their customers have had to put up with a lot of crap from their fellow producers over the years.
The labels are one thing, such as “crunchy granola set” or “hippie dippies” or “organic freaks.”
But by far, the biggest insult was simply being dismissed as inefficient and ineffective when it comes to the serious question of how to best feed the world’s growing population.
The mainstream industry and research establishment have long written off organic agriculture because of the widely held belief it can’t keep up to the productivity of conventional systems. And a few years ago that was right.
The reason organic foods could command a hefty premium in the marketplace, and why some argued they were only accessible to the wealthy elite, was yields have tended to be lower.
Critics could justifiably claim that to feed the world using organic agriculture, more of the earth’s surface would have to be converted to crops, and that would be bad for the environment.
For example, a recent report CropLife Canada financed concluded that without pesticides, fertilizers and biotechnology, Canada would need another 37 million acres of cropland — the equivalent of the total annual cropped area of Saskatchewan, or four times that of Ontario — to produce the same amount of food.
The report says crop-protection products, fertilizer and biotechnology advancements add a whopping $7.9 billion to the Canadian economy.
Plus, organic agriculture’s traditional reliance on tillage to control weeds instead of herbicides was believed to make it more energy-dependent as well as contributing to the global problem of soil erosion.
There was also the quality issue. Who wants to eat apples that have insect marks or scabs?
But that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Just as conventional agriculture has made gains, notably due to huge investments in research and development from both the private and public sectors, so has organic through shoestring research budgets allocated from non-government foundations, universities and public funding.
There have been some clearly opportunistic instances of Democrats trying to capitalize on the movement.
By Mark Engler
October 21, 2011
A month after it began with a few hundred people marching on Wall Street, the #Occupy movement has grown to include tens of thousands of participants throughout the country and has captured headlines around the world. If it has not yet succeeded beyond its wildest dreams, that’s only because its participants have dreamed big: imagining a sustained popular uprising that could force fundamental changes in our political and economic system—ones that could end corporate dominance and promote real democracy.
The movement can, in fact, propel significant changes. But #OccupyWallStreet and its allied occupations still have a ways to go before realizing their potential. The two issues most pressing as they chart their next steps: solidarity and escalation.
“Co-optation” or Flattery?
Despite great success in capturing the public eye, the actual number of people camped out at the various occupations around the country remains relatively small. While there are several hundred people camping in hubs such as New York City and Los Angeles, overnight participants in smaller cities number in the dozens. What bolsters the power of these encampments is that they are representative of a much wider discontent. Far greater numbers of sympathizers turn out for mass meetings, marches, and online shows of support. And, importantly, more established political bodies—unions, advocacy organizations, and community groups representing large constituencies—have offered endorsements of the growing #Occupy effort.
As more have signed on, some activists have been wary of outside expressions of support. Particularly as Democratic Party officials (including President Obama and Vice President Biden) have said positive things about the movement, some have voiced concerns about “cooptation.” They have argued that outside liberals, “while pretending to advance the goals of the Occupy Movement,” could instead “undermine it from within.”