South Africa – where climate change may trigger a toxic timebomb

From The Guardian UK:

Johannesburg’s mining industry has been a mainstay of the city for decades, but its vast waste dumps are a huge threat – and Mariette Lieferink is leading the charge for a clear-up

Posted by
Saturday 26 November 2011

We meet Mariette Lieferink in a McDonalds near Gauteng, on the edge of Johannesburg, buying a dozen sickly sweet drinks. She’s no one’s idea of a leading environmental activist. She wears a tight-fitting, scarlet, embroidered Chinese dress, high heels, and make-up. She is nearly 60, a mother of four, grandmother of two and she used to be a preacher. Now she is head of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, and works flat out to clean up the massively polluted mining areas of Johannesburg.

Climate change, she says, is a potential disaster for Johannesburg and South Africa, liable to trigger the toxic timebomb left by 120 years of mining.

The city has been the centre of the giant South African mining industry since gold was found there in 1880, and it is surrounded by more than 400 sq m of waste dumps, tailing dams, toxic lakes, radiological hotspots, leaking pipelines, spillages, and gaping holes in the ground. More than 40,000 tonnes of gold has been mined from the Witwatersrand Basin in 120 years, as well as cadmium, uranium, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, titanium and other heavy metals.

Lieferink’s “toxic tour” starts on the main A28 road. The land we stand on is bright yellow and white, a deep crust of toxic waste from an old copper mine. In front of us is a brickworks making radioactive building blocks from the waste of another mine. In the distance are giant waste heaps from gold mines and below us run the shafts and tunnels of more than 120 deep mines, mostly brim full of millions of litres of some of the most toxic and hazardous waste in the world.

Climate change, she says, increases the volume of rainwater, allowing the mines to flood more frequently, and the water courses and rivers to become even more polluted. “The poorest [people] – who are confined to live near the dumps – are in the frontline. They are exposed to high concentrations of cobalt, zinc, arsenic, and cadmium, all known carcinogens, as well as high levels of radioactive uranium. In some cases, government-built houses are being erected next to radioactive dumps.”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on South Africa – where climate change may trigger a toxic timebomb

Mass genocide of Mohawk children by UK Queen and Vatican uncovered in Canada

National study finds LGBT seniors face harder old age

File this one under: No shit, Sherlock.

Why would old age be any different from the cradle onwards?

From Seattle Gay News:

by Shaun Knittel – SGN Associate Editor
November 25, 2011

A new study from the University of Washington’s School of Social Work released some startling news this week: LGBT seniors and baby boomers (a group whose numbers are expected to be more than 4 million by 2030) have greater rates of disability, depression, and loneliness compared with heterosexuals of similar ages.

The study, ‘The Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience among LGBT Older Adults,’ surveyed 2,560 LGBT adults aged 50-95 across the United States, also highlighted the unique needs of this aging group – including fear of discrimination, the lack of children to depend on as caregivers, and less social support and financial security with age, as older LGBT adults are less likely to be partnered or married.

Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen, Ph.D., one of the study’s lead authors, reported, ‘Aging and health needs of LGBT older adults are rarely addressed in services, policies, or research, even though diversity is a defining feature of our global aging population.’

‘Although there have been tremendous gains in health during the last century, many historically disadvantaged groups within our aging population continue to experience higher levels of illness, disability, and premature death,’ summarized Fredriksen-Goldsen.

It is imperative to understand our diverse population of LGBT older adults in order to ensure a healthier aging population in the years to come, she said. ‘Health disparities must be eliminated to effectively respond to the aging crisis on the LGBT communities.’

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on National study finds LGBT seniors face harder old age

Black Friday Target Stampede People Trampled Upon 2010 Buffalo New York

The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

From The Guardian UK:

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality, Friday 25 November 2011

US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.

But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”

In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.

To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.

I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.

Continue reading at:

Occupying Society: How the Movement Hashes Out Race, Class and Privilege in Real Time

From Alternet:

When encampments are shut down, it’s not just the physical turf that’s lost; a social experiment in working out the issues that have divided people for centuries gets crimped.

By Latoya Peterson
November 25, 2011

Since Occupy Wall Street lost its stronghold in Manhattan’s financial district last week, thanks to a long-threatened raid by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, discussion swirls about the fate of the movement — especially in light of similar evictions of Occupy encampments in other cities.

But the loss of encampment space is about more than the movement’s physical presence; it threatens the loss of the most compelling story, a hybrid of breaking news and reality TV show. This couldn’t have been dreamed up by MTV, but the premise feels familiar: An organic, ad hoc society springs from encampment village, hashing out in real time tensions around class, race and competing priorities that have gripped the progressive movement for decades — essentially the early seasons of “The Real World” for change agents and social activists. (The comparison wasn’t lost on MTV producers, who created a special called True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street, which aired earlier this month.)

Occasionally, the competing priorities of the movements made headlines, but the stories aired and published usually focused on tensions that arise when resistance to the state meets the need for police authority, as evidenced in ongoing battles over dealing with sexual assault in some encampments. Matters of diversity, homelessness and conversational direction draw less attention from media, but are fiercely debated in the Occupy communities — and those conversations are instructive in the quest to create a new type of society.

Busting a Stereotype

Back in October, responding to Bloomberg’s first threat of eviction to the OWS camp, I found myself prepping to head down to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park at dawn. (Bloomberg said that the park needed to be cleaned.) The night before, I had gotten lost and ended up on Wall Street, gawking at the police brigades, barriers and officers on horses. I wasn’t planning on getting caught in any kind of sweep (and I wasn’t, though there is a disturbing pattern of journalists being arrested covering OWS protests), but as a life-long resident of Washington, DC, I know protests can go from peaceful to nuclear in seconds.

So, I took to Twitter, asking folks who had been down to Zuccotti to help me decide between a business-casual hybrid outfit (sneakers, professional dress) or the I-may-end-up-incarcerated gear of sneakers, jeans and multiple layers.

Continue reading at:


Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Occupying Society: How the Movement Hashes Out Race, Class and Privilege in Real Time

Big Carbon’s Sock Puppets Declare War on America and the Planet

From Huffington Post:

President, Waterkeeper Alliance; Professor, Pace University
Posted: 11/25/2011

It’s now become de rigueur among the radical right wing rhetoricians to characterize any government support of America’s green energy sector as wasteful, fruitless, and scandalous. They greeted with glee the collapse of the government supported solar company, Solyndra, America’s first major casualty in our race with China to dominate the “new energy” economy. With Solyndra dying on the battlefield — its marketplace choking on inexpensive Chinese solar panels — the right wing’s response was to hoist the white flag and declare defeat in the war for global cleantech leadership. That brand of “Can’t Do” cowardice is a boon to the carbon and nuclear power incumbents who fund so much of the right wing’s activities — but it’s bad for America.

Leveraging the aberrant Solyndra bankruptcy, these groups have launched an orchestrated series of attacks against the renewables sector by trying to discredit other companies, even those that are driving America forward with innovative solutions that actually do compete on a global basis. For example, last month, Fox News ran a story insinuating that SunPower received a loan guarantee for its Central Valley Solar Ranch project because of its political connections Congressman George Miller. The story also suggested that SunPower was struggling financially and posed another risk to taxpayers — a la Solyndra. The truth is that SunPower is one of America’s strongest solar manufacturing companies and Mr. Miller had nothing to do with the company receiving a loan guarantee for its Central Valley Solar Ranch Project. To Fox News and other right wing media sources, the facts meant very little. Their intent is only to suggest wrong-doing in an attempt to undermine the Obama Administration and its clean energy goals.

Last week found the right wing echo chamber, from Fox News to the New York Post, and the conservative blogosphere in an anti-green frenzy based on faux facts from a new book, Throw Them All Out. The author of this far-fetched screed is Peter Schweizer, Sarah Palin’s foreign policy guru, currently employed by the Hoover Institution, a think tank funded largely by oil interests (e.g., Exxon, ARCO, Transamerica, and Richard Mellon Scaife’s oil and banking fortune) to craft the philosophical underpinnings for unregulated pollution, unrestricted corporate profit taking, and massive corporate welfare for the carbon/nuke incumbents.

Thanks to a mention in Schweizer’s far-fetched opus, I got a shout out, last week from most of these crackpot gas bags. The Daily Mail summarized my supposed crimes in its headline: “JFK’s nephew received $1.4 billion dollar taxpayer bailout for his struggling green energy firm.”

All of the reported “facts” in this blogosphonic barrage were Schweizer’s inventions. Schweizer claims that BrightSource Energy received a government bailout due to political influence exerted on behalf of VantagePoint Capital Partners, where I am a partner and which is the largest institutional shareholder of BrightSource.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Big Carbon’s Sock Puppets Declare War on America and the Planet

Nuke carrier leads US strike force into Syria waters

It is not inevitable that the EU – or democracy – will survive this mess

From The Guardian UK:

Europe may well muddle through with technocrats and tighter straitjackets, but the rule of the people must be guarded, Thursday 24 November 2011

Are we all doomed? America’s fiscal democracy this week collapsed in disarray. The Arab spring ran out of steam. Emergency regimes have taken power in Greece and Italy, while Germany could not sell a third of its bonds. Salvation, according to Europe’s desperate “leader”, José Manuel Barroso, can only lie in “stronger governance in the euro area, both in discipline and in convergence“. He wants nation states to submit draft budgets of their taxing and spending to him for oversight, to be subject to Brussels’ “enhanced surveillance”.

This is more than alarming. Today’s European crisis was brought about by widespread popular revolt against the straitjacket of an unrealistic European monetary union. Barroso’s solution is apparently an even tighter straitjacket, and no nonsense about popular elections or national referendums. He wants Europe ruled by Aristotle’s aristocrats, by people like him.

We know what smart politics says. Yes, we have been here before, in the 1900s and the 1930s, but then we were led by donkeys and drifted into war. There have been blips since then, in the 1970s and 1990s, but we survived. As the Economist magazine loftily commented this month of the present wreckage, “the EU … will muddle through … Europe will breathe a sigh of relief and continue down the path of genteel decline”.

I have long been of this Micawberish persuasion but I am starting to have my doubts. The ideology of the 1990s was of “democratic inevitability” – Francis Fukuyama’s destination of history. It seduced western governments into massive deficit financing, into inflating their housing markets and courting votes with ever more borrowing and spending. In the US this has concluded in a constitutional crisis, as a congressional super-committee fails to resolve the country’s indebtedness. The same ideology led US and British troops into neoconservative wars to “promote freedom” at the point of a gun across the Muslim world. It fuelled the ambition of a new generation of urban Arabs to rise up against authoritarian regimes, many to dissolve into renewed conflict. Democracy is everywhere in tears (except, dare I say it, in South America).

Continue reading at:

Where have all the banksters gone?

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Where have all the banksters gone?

Villaraigosa announces impending shutdown of Occupy L.A. camp

From The LA Times:,0,7726203.story

The mayor says the City Hall park will close at 12:01 a.m. Monday but that police might not immediately begin removing protesters who linger. Occupy L.A. has issued a statement vowing to stay.

By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles TimesNovember 26, 2011

The City Hall park where Occupy Los Angeles protesters are camped will be closed at 12:01 a.m. Monday, according to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, triggering what officials hope will be an end to the nation’s largest remaining Occupy camp.

But police might not immediately begin removing protesters who linger, the mayor said at a news conference Friday with Police Chief Charlie Beck. He said officials hope in the coming days to help protesters move their belongings and to find beds in homeless shelters for those at the camp who need them.

The two officials would not say whether police were prepared to use tear gas or rubber bullets to clear protesters who refuse to leave, tactics officers in other cities have turned to while clearing Occupy encampments. “The goal is to do this as peacefully as possible,” Beck said.

When Occupy protesters set up camp on the City Hall lawn seven weeks ago, officials went out of their way to welcome them. The City Council passed a resolution in support of the demonstration, and council President Eric Garcetti invited protesters to “stay as long as you need to.” On a wet morning in October, aides to Villaraigosa handed out rain slickers.

But the political tide inside City Hall has turned against those camped outside — a shift driven by concerns about damage to the lawn and public health and safety risks.

Continue reading at:,0,7726203.story

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Villaraigosa announces impending shutdown of Occupy L.A. camp

Egypt’s ‘Last Chance’: Tahrir braces for chaos

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Egypt’s ‘Last Chance’: Tahrir braces for chaos

We Are the 99.9%

From The New York Times:

Published: November 24, 2011

“We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan. It correctly defines the issue as being the middle class versus the elite (as opposed to the middle class versus the poor). And it also gets past the common but wrong establishment notion that rising inequality is mainly about the well educated doing better than the less educated; the big winners in this new Gilded Age have been a handful of very wealthy people, not college graduates in general.

If anything, however, the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent — the richest one-thousandth of the population.

And while Democrats, by and large, want that super-elite to make at least some contribution to long-term deficit reduction, Republicans want to cut the super-elite’s taxes even as they slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of fiscal discipline.

Before I get to those policy disputes, here are a few numbers.

The recent Congressional Budget Office report on inequality didn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, did. According to that report, between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted, after-tax income of Americans in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. The equivalent number for the richest 0.1 percent rose 400 percent.

For the most part, these huge gains reflected a dramatic rise in the super-elite’s share of pretax income. But there were also large tax cuts favoring the wealthy. In particular, taxes on capital gains are much lower than they were in 1979 — and the richest one-thousandth of Americans account for half of all income from capital gains.

Continue reading at:

“How Could This Happen in America?” Why Police Are Treating Americans Like Military Threats

From Alternet:

Why is the armed might of the state, (necessary in waging war against foreign enemies) being applied to domestic policing of local communities and peaceful protests?

By William Hogeland
November 22, 2011

“How could this happen in America?”

“Is this still my country?”

In the past few days, those and similarly poignant Twitter posts have appealed to fundamental American values in objecting to the notorious U.C. Davis event, where police pepper-sprayed seated protesters, and to cities generally cracking down on the Occupy movement. The crackdowns have brought a military level of combativeness to what many Americans — even those not in sympathy with the protesters — would normally see as a police, not a military matter.

Police, not military. The distinction may seem academic, even absurd, when police are bringing rifles, helmets, armor, and helicopters to evict unarmed protesters. But it’s an old and critical distinction in American law and ideology and in republican thought as a whole. The 17th-century English liberty writers, on whose ideas much of America’s founding ethos was based, believed that turning the armed might of the state, (necessary in waging war against foreign enemies), to domestic policing of local communities tends to concentrate power in top-down executive action and vitiate treasured things like judiciary process, individual liberty, representative government, and free speech.

Constabulary and judiciary matters, high Whigs came to think, should never be handled by what they condemned as “standing armies.” It’s true, on the other hand, that keeping public order, not just aiding in prosecutions, is a duty of local police. When concerted crowd violence occurs against people and property, policing may be expected to be pretty violent too, and distinctions between combat and policing sometimes naturally blur.

But where protest is peaceful — maybe loud, maybe deliberately annoying, combative in its rhetoric, even possibly illegal, yet not actually violent or dangerous — treating it the way a state normally treats an outside military threat will give many Americans, across a broad political spectrum, a gut problem.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on “How Could This Happen in America?” Why Police Are Treating Americans Like Military Threats