It Used to be Called Armistice Day

I grew up in the small towns of Upstate New York, those mountain villages, those mill towns and mining towns where  the loss to war of even a half a dozen soldiers lives meant perhaps a quarter of the men in that year’s high school graduating class had died.

They had memorials for those who  died, huge granite boulders with bronze plaques with the names of those who died.  Volunteers and conscripts alike.

In the 1950s the men who had fought in the trenches of France, in the War to End all Wars were in their Sixties. My father’s generation served in World War II.

Few claimed to be heroes because answering the call to fight our county’s wars was a common shared experience.

Why do we pause on this day, November 11?

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 was the day World War I ended.

They called the senseless slaughter that took place on a battle field of trenches and barbed wire, “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars”.

As usual, those who send the common man off to fight the wars the rich and powerful order to be fought, lied.

A little over twenty years later we had an even greater horror called World War II.

Now the soldiers who fought in that war are in their late 80s and in their 90s.

The soldiers of my generation fought in a senseless war in a place called Vietnam.  Now Vietnam is a source of cheap labor and farmed tilapia and shrimp.

Now they call it Veterans Day and speak no more of wars to end all wars.  Now we constantly prepare for the next war in what has become a seemingly endless series of wars and cruelity.

There are no more “Great Wars” and Armistice Day along with the idea of wars ever ending seem quaint.

Like the rearing of a red poppy to commemorate the dead who lie in Flanders Fields.

The veterans deserve better treatment than they receive, the men and women sent off to kill and die, the men and women who come home broken and mutilated in body and spirit.

They who we ask to do the killing and serve the rich and powerful deserve much more, one and all.

The Opposite of Being Visibly Out: Hiding in Plain Sight

From Huffington Post


In the historic aftermath of the American public voting to affirm marriage equality, it’s clear that the turnaround in majority public opinion comes in large part from ever-increasing LGBT visibility. Just about everyone knows someone who is gay: next-door neighbors, aunties, cousins and celebrities, all making gay folks real and human.

I’m remembering prior eras when the culture’s pervasive homophobia meant lying low for queer folks, and having to hide in turn reinforced prejudice. From 1959, when I was 8, through my sophomore year of high school, I went to Camp Birch Ridge, owned and directed by two women. We campers called them “Skipper” and “Hendy,” their camp nicknames. “Hendy” was short for “Mrs. Henderson.” Her hair was coiffed in soft waves, and she wore cotton culottes to mid-calf, pastel cotton shirts with Peter Pan collars, cotton anklets and sturdy Oxford shoes. Skipper had a strong hook nose and very short, dark hair that she wore slicked straight back with pomade, which left her broad forehead bare, and she always wore men’s khaki pants, the same cotton shirts with Peter Pan collars as Hendy (but only in white), and men’s work boots.

Hendy planned the menu, oversaw the kitchen and taught arts and crafts. She was a school nurse, so if you got banged up, you came to her for mercurochrome and Band-Aids. Skipper did all the hauling with the tractor, including emptying the portable toilets. She led the sing-alongs at the campfires, directed the daily flag-raising ceremony, barked out camper names at post office call and did the dreaded inspections of our tents for neatness.

Wasn’t it obvious, at least to the parents of the campers, that this was a lesbian couple? But, of course, there was a cover story. Hendy had been married and had grown children. Perhaps her husband had died, I don’t remember, but her heterosexuality was sealed with her status as “Mrs.” Skipper’s story was repeated by some counselor in a funereal whisper every year: She’d had a beau before World War II, and the gallant lad went off to battle and was shot dead. Thank goodness she had hooked up with Mrs. Henderson for companionship.

Their relationship was certainly volatile enough. Skipper used to scowl at Hendy during campfires as if they were in the midst of an interrupted fight, and sometimes she would storm off, leaving us mid-song, marshmallows flaming on sticks. No one said “lover’s quarrel,” but perhaps, in some unconscious way, we all knew.

Camp Birch Ridge was actually Hendy and Skipper’s year-round home. It was a beautiful piece of land in northern New Jersey, with woods and orchards and a lake big enough to canoe on. They lived in a huge, white farmhouse. Part of the house was used by the camp: a screened porch where we ate. There was an ironclad rule about the private areas: They were off-limits, forbidden for campers to ever enter. Later, I wondered: Did they not want us campers to see a shared bedroom, or pictures of the two of them, arms around each other’s shoulders, framed in the living room? God, I hope they had a sexual life, and that their passion was not killed by the secrecy, by the danger of their work involving children making it even more critical to stay hidden as lesbians.

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The art of Judy Chicago

From The Guardian UK

In the 1970s, feminists decided to take on the men running the art world. Judy Chicago, with her graphic depictions of the female body, was at the forefront. Rachel Cooke talks to the artist who, 40 years on, is about to have her ‘British moment’

The Observer, Saturday 3 November 2012

Judy Chicago isn’t a great one for false modesty – or modesty of any kind, come to that. When she talks about her work, words such as “monumental” and “major” fall quickly and easily from her lips. As a young woman, she says, she wanted not only to paint and draw, but to “set her sights on history” – her aim was to bag herself a place in the canon. As for her elaborate 1979 megasculpture The Dinner Party, a provocatively feminist work which celebrates the lives and work of 1,038 notable women, you can forget what the critics say (the late Robert Hughes called it: “Mainly cliché… with the colours of a Taiwanese souvenir factory”; Hilton Kramer of the New York Times called it: “Very bad art… failed art… art so mired in the pieties of a cause that it quite fails to capture any independent artistic life of its own”). They’re just plain wrong. “I’ve watched it change people’s lives,” says Chicago. “And the fact that the Elizabeth A Sackler Center [for Feminist Art, where The Dinner Party is permanently housed] accounts for a third of all the traffic to the Brooklyn Museum is testament to the importance of it.”

To be fair, this is what a life spent working with your back against the wall does for a girl: either you crumple and disappear, or you develop a Teflon exterior, a shiny veneer of undentable confidence. Chicago is 72. She began her career in the 60s, long before political correctness and women’s studies classes were invented, and her “dinosaur” professors at the University of California, Los Angeles, pretty much hated what she was doing right from the start.

Her early working life was lonely and she was mostly broke. “I didn’t make myself an outsider,” she says. “The art world made me an outsider. Of course, isolation is essential to the creative act. You have to be with yourself, with your ideas. Virginia Woolf talked about it as fishing: you sit on the shore, you drop your line, and you wait for the fish to jump. But I also had to protect myself from the craziness, all the antagonism, around me. It was difficult. I’m not going to say it was anything else. Not everybody could have managed it.”

What did she sacrifice along the way? “Children. There was no way on this earth I could have had children and the career I’ve had. But you know what? I don’t care how much I had to give up. This was what I wanted. You have to make choices. You can’t have everything in life.”

Chicago is speaking to me from her home in New Mexico – a historic railroad hotel that looks like it has come straight out of an old western – and the delay on the line is contriving to make our conversation sound even more earnest than it would be if she was sitting opposite me. A portentous pause precedes her answers; jokey comments (on my part) are out of the question, being more likely to misfire than cheap Catherine wheels.

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The Age of Uncertainty Episode 4 The Colonial Idea

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Christian Teacher Burned Crosses onto Students’ Arms and Pushed Creationism — Now He’s Claims His “Free Speech” Was Violated?

From Alternet:

A teacher who allegedly burned students and contested validity of evolutionary theory filed a lawsuit charging that his right to free speech and academic freedom had been violated.

By Rob Boston
November 8, 2012

Jenifer and Steve Dennis enjoyed living in Mount Vernon, Ohio, a city of about 16,000 people in the center of the state, but they no longer reside there. After an incident in 2007, they stopped feeling welcome.

The Dennis family’s problems began one day when their son Zachary, then 13, showed them some marks on his arm. The red burns were in the shape of a cross, and Zachary told his parents that a science teacher named John Freshwater was responsible for them. Freshwater had made the mark with an electronic device called a Tesla coil.

It soon came to light that Zachary wasn’t the only student who had been burned. While investigating the matter, school officials soon uncovered a host of problems in Freshwater’s classroom.

It turned out that Freshwater, who in 2003 had publicly attacked the school district for mandating that evolution be taught, had been pushing “intelligent design” – a variant of creationism – in class and distributing materials designed to cast doubt on the validity of evolution.

The investigation revealed that Freshwater had put religious posters in his classroom, asked students questions about their religious beliefs and the depth of their commitment and even offered “healing” services at meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He had also distributed “work sheets” to students that undermined evolution (but, interestingly, hadn’t let students take the materials home where parents might see them).

In June of 2008, education officials told Freshwater he was being fired. He refused to go quietly, at first demanding a hearing before the school board and, when that failed, asking for an administrative hearing.

That also went against him, so Freshwater filed a lawsuit charging that his right to free speech and academic freedom had been violated.

The community quickly became polarized over the matter, and every twist of the case dominated the local news. The Dennis family decided that they had had enough. They moved out of town and didn’t look back.

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Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues

From The New York Times:

Published: November 9, 2012

Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

It is not as though they did not put up a fight; they went all out as never before: The Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Roman Catholic bishops denounced President Obama’s policies as a threat to life, religious liberty and the traditional nuclear family. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before.

“Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. “It’s not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn’t get out. It did get out.

“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”

Conservative Christian leaders said that they would intensify their efforts to make their case, but were just beginning to discuss how to proceed. “We’re not going away, we just need to recalibrate,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive of The Family Leader, an evangelical organization in Iowa.

The election results are just one indication of larger trends in American religion that Christian conservatives are still digesting, political analysts say. Americans who have no religious affiliation — pollsters call them the “nones” — are now about one-fifth of the population over all, according to a study released last month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The younger generation is even less religious: about one-third of Americans ages 18 to 22 say they are either atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. Americans who are secular are far more likely to vote for liberal candidates and for same-sex marriage. Seventy percent of those who said they had no religion voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research.

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Family Research Council calls for ‘civil disobedience’ to block same sex marriages

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, November 8, 2012

The senior vice president of the Family Research Council (FRC) said on Wednesday that the civil disobedience may be necessary to prevent same sex marriages after voters in several states approved marriage equality.

In an special broadcast titled “Election 2012: Aftermath & Aftershocks,” FRC president Tony Perkins told Senior Vice President Tom McClusky that LGBT marriage rights were still “morally wrong” even though pro marriage eqaulity measures passed in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Voters in Minnesota also defeated a proposed amendment to codify marriage discrimination in the state’s constitution.

“The people can vote on it — it’s the first time we’ve seen that [pass] — courts can rule on it, but I don’t think you can violate natural law and force Americans to recognize it as morally right,” Perkins explained.

“I think the term for a lot of things over the next four years, civil disobedience is going to come into play,” McClusky agreed.

As Think Progress noted, Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christian leaders also called for civil disobedience against marriage equality when they drafted the Manhattan Declaration in 2009.

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PETITION: IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman: Investigate Catholic Church & Cardinal Dolan for Tax-Exempt Violations

From Change.Org:

Dear IRS Commissioner Shulman:

This is to request that you investigate Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus for apparent violations of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, which by law may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of their activities and may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

We have read the Special Rules Limiting IRS Authority to Audit a Church and believe that the Catholic Church and its associated theocratic entities violate statutes in a way constistent with IRS protocol for initiating an investigation.

The Catholic Church and Cardinal Dolan have declared war against the candidacy of President Barack Obama.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago sent two threatening letters to the president, protesting his support for the rights of LGBT Americans, before Dolan on September 20, 2011 sent Obama a threatening letter, in which he said that if Obama continued to support LGBT Americans’ rights, he would “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions.” Dolan’s threatening letter was publicly posted on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website and linked to Dolan’s blog.

Subsequently, on November 8, 2011, Dolan had a meeting with President Obama, and afterwards told the bishops that he was happy with the meeting. Dolan’s direct threatening and lobbying of the president appears to have resulted in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announcing that she was rejecting a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration to make emergency contraception more broadly available without a prescription. That is to say, Catholic dogma and Dolan’s politicking prevented all American women from having easy access to emergency contraception.

Nonetheless, whenever Dolan and the Church are displeased that the requirements of their government contracts are not strictly in alignment with Catholic dogma, they screech that their “religious liberties” are being violated. Among the religious liberties which they seek to exercise is that of discriminating against LGBT Americans and women generally.

Where the Church has not been able to keep Catholic Americans in line with Church dogma, the Church seeks to impose its theology and shocking little shabby values on the society through legislation and political lobbying. Dolan successfully fought proposed legislation in Wisconsin that would have lifted the statute of limitations for prosecution of child rape. Shortly thereafter, he was made President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and promoted to New York, where he fiercely fights against proposed legislation that would lift the statute of limitations on child rape. (After the arrest of Father Jaime Duenas in the Bronx, Dolan on his blog trashed Duenas’s alleged 16-year-old female alleged victim). A story in Philadelphia magazine about the Church child rape scandals in the Philadelphia Archdiocese — (the indictment had included names of at least 37 priests who can not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations) –reported that the Church achieves its successes in fighting the lifting of the statute of limitations in part by having its insurers threaten elected officials.

The Catholic Bishops have called for two weeks of protests of President Obama and his policies between June 21 and July 4, 2012. Republican strategists have been widely quoted in the media in support of those actions, and expressing confidence that it will help them for the 2012 elections.

The Church in every state very actively criticizes President Obama’s every LGBT initiative, naming him while condemning him, in ways that very evidently are negative endorsements of his candidacy, forbidden under 501(c)(3)-related law.

Note that the Catholic Bishops have placed full-page ads denouncing the president’s policies, in such publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

To fight against the requirements of their government contracts, and as part of their open political war against President Obama, the Catholic Bishops created a new lobbying body called the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. Chaired by Bridgeport, Connecticut Bishop William Lori, that lobbying business includes a lawyer and a lobbyist, substantially devoted to promulgating anti-LGBT hate speech and to lobbying against the rights of LGBTers generally and of women generally. In that regard, it must be noted that Cardinal Bernard Law, who fled Boston for Rome as a result of the Church’s shocking child rape scandals in Boston, led a recent crackdown against American nuns, in which the nuns were lambasted and threatened for doing too much to help the poor and not enough to fight against LGBT rights and the rights of non-nun American women. As many nuns reside within the Church, the male crackdown on them might be thought of as a form of domestic violence.

The Church’s Ad Hoc Committee is an addition to the bishops’ existing powerful and finely tuned lobbying machine in Washington. And, the bishops work in tandem with the Knights of Columbus, also a tax-exempt organization, and an advisor to the Ad Hoc Committee. In 2009, the Knights’ budget was $1.7 billion.

Whereas the tax-exempt Catholic Church does not want to fulfill certain terms of its government contracts, it is now suing the government, so as to keep its government contracts yet be able to discriminate against people it doesn’t like and/or who don’t follow Catholic dogma. The tax-paying victims of the Church’s discrimination, and anti-LGBT and anti-woman’s-rights lobbying, are forced against their wills to pay for the Church to lobby against their rights, to impose religious dogma on U.S. civil law, and to wage war against the U.S. President, thumbing their noses and blowing gleeful Bronx cheers at the 501(c)(3) prohibitions against extensive lobbying and candidate endorsements.

The Catholic Church in America is, in essence, an arm of the Republican Party.

Dolan’s open war against the candidacy of President Obama is seconded by his corporation’s head, the Pope in the Vatican, which is a foreign country. On January 7, 2012, five former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See endorsed Romney for President, in a single letter. That endorsement very obviously was discussed with and approved by the Pope and Dolan. The letter evidences theological contempt for the rights of LGBT-Americans and for the rights of women generally. The political thrust of that letter (i.e., anti-Obama, pro-Romney) is now being carried out all across the United States by various corporate leaders of the Catholic Church, its associated theocratic entities and its proxies.

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Next Steps for the Occupy Movement: The Tenderloin Today Project

From Truth Out:

By Richard Kreidler
Saturday, 10 November 2012

Picking up from Occupy San Francisco, the Tenderloin Today Project aspires to revive a neighborhood with food, services, jobs and housing developed with, and through, community-based organizations.

By creating space for like-minded individuals to come together to identify their collective power, the Occupy movement shifted the parameters of activism and opened new ways of creating mutual aid. The physical camps of the Occupy movement were the birthplaces for this new thinking. Now, after its first birthday, we’re starting to see Occupy as its own entity and how it is going to interact with the world.

As a successful entrepreneur, I had the privilege and opportunity to jump in with both feet when the movement came to San Francisco. While many in the wealthy elite of this city saw the movement as a threat and something to be feared, I saw in it the seeds of the revolution we must create in order to ensure the survival of our planet and our species.

The next stage of the movement is about realigning our interests and our actions to build a culture that takes responsibility at an individual level for the well being of everyone in our communities. With this in mind, I’ve been working to create a model for rebuilding communities from the street level, starting in San Francisco’s deeply troubled Tenderloin district.

After the peak activity of Occupy San Francisco began to subside, community members saw a need to create substantial impact at the ground level. The Tenderloin Today Project was launched to address some of the major challenges faced by the people in the Tenderloin. The project is currently functioning as a multi-level campaign to feed the less fortunate, improve their living conditions and help them create jobs that they themselves will own.

To accomplish these goals, the Tenderloin Today Project provides healthy, organic, locally grown, hot, prepared food to nonprofit organizations, homeless shelters and residential hotels in the Tenderloin area. This part of the project was implemented over the past four months, providing food to the YMCA, Tenderloin Boys and Girls Club, Coalition on Homelessness, Hospitality House homeless shelter and several other organizations. Food also has been delivered to the Tenderloin single-room occupancy hotels, residential communities which are often in need of support. The bulk of the prepared food comes from the kitchen of a large software company in the Bay Area and the quality is beyond exceptional.

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Now the Work of Movements Begins

From Truth Dig:

By Amy Goodman
Posted on Nov 7, 2012

The election is over, and President Barack Obama will continue as the 44th president of the United States. There will be much attention paid by the pundit class to the mechanics of the campaigns, to the techniques of microtargeting potential voters, the effectiveness of get-out-the-vote efforts. The media analysts will fill the hours on the cable news networks, proffering post-election chestnuts about the accuracy of polls, or about either candidate’s success with one demographic or another. Missed by the mainstream media, but churning at the heart of our democracy, are social movements, movements without which President Obama would not have been re-elected.

President Obama is a former community organizer himself. What happens when the community organizer in chief becomes the commander in chief? Who does the community organizing then? Interestingly, he offered a suggestion when speaking at a small New Jersey campaign event when he was first running for president. Someone asked him what he would do about the Middle East. He answered with a story about the legendary 20th-century organizer A. Philip Randolph meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Randolph described to FDR the condition of black people in America, the condition of working people. Reportedly, FDR listened intently, then replied: “I agree with everything you have said. Now, make me do it.” That was the message Obama repeated.

There you have it. Make him do it. You’ve got an invitation from the president himself.

For years during the Bush administration, people felt they were hitting their heads against a brick wall. With the first election of President Obama, the wall had become a door, but it was only open a crack. The question was, Would it be kicked open or slammed shut? That is not up to that one person in the White House, no matter how powerful. That is the work of movements.

Ben Jealous is a serious organizer with a long list of accomplishments, and a longer list of things to get done, as the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 2013, he notes, is a year of significant anniversaries, among them the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, as well as the 50th anniversaries of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham, Ala., church bombing that killed four young African-American girls. President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration will occur on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Jealous told me on election night, as Mitt Romney was about to give his concession speech, “We have to stay in movement mode.”

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Populist Revolution? How a Bold New Voter Coalition Can Reshape the Nation

From Alternet:

Minorities, independent women, gays, working-class white voters, and younger people overcame through high turnout a fierce social conservative block.

By Marshall Auerback
November 8, 2012

 Tuesday’s election will be regarded as a pivotal one in US history. For 30 years the top 1 percent has manipulated the masses to vote against their own interests. It was able to do that because the feelings of the white middle and lower classes about social issues overwhelmed their economic considerations.

But something interesting happened this year: high levels of minority and young voter turnout, together with an increased Obama-tilt among all voters earning less than $50,000 a year, routed the GOP. In one sense, the election represents the triumph of the Reverend Jesse Jackson and his “Rainbow Coalition.” The Reverend Jackson was the first serious challenge of a black man for the presidency, and with his Rainbow Coalition, he ran for the Democratic nomination in 1984 and in 1988, with a platform that represented an anthology of progressive ideas from the 1960s. He attracted a large number of supporters, many of them from the white working-class. Each time his movement looked like it was gaining electoral traction, the Democratic Party establishment would invariably mobilize against him and elect feeble white liberals – Mondale and Dukakis – who plummeted to defeat by Reagan and George Bush Sr.

It would be absurd to suggest that today’s Wall Street-dominated Democratic Party is the natural outgrowth of this coalition. That said, Jackson provided the template on how to counter the onslaught of conservative, big money politics (which helped to produce the Reagan presidency). It was Jackson, after all, who first devoted considerable resources toward increasing black registration for national elections, a pattern increasingly being replicated for other minority blocs, which are soon likely to become the majority as we move toward an increased “browning” of America. But Jackson’s appeal went beyond race, as he was the first to see the value of building a progressive coalition which espoused many of the ideas now articulated by groups such as Occupy Wall Street, notably income inequality and the taboo subject of class. Jackson knew that you can’t build an effective coalition around identity politics. You have to bring people together through their shared economic interest.

This populist focus was best illustrated during Jackson’s visit to Camp Solidarity in Virginia in the late 1980s , meeting largely white miners who were in the midst of the historic Pittston strike:

“Rich Trumka, then president of the United Mine Workers, told them, ‘Y’all probably wondering why Jesse Jackson is here. Last year we were told to be scared of him. And this year the folks we gave our money to are nowhere to be seen. So I want you to ask yourselves, Which would you rather have, a black friend or a white enemy?’

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Corporate Personhood Lost Big on Election Day

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Election 2012: America’s new mandate on climate change

From The Guardian UK:

In an election year already marked by extreme weather events, Superstorm Sandy put the environment back on the US agenda, Saturday 10 November 2012

For Americans concerned about the environment, disaster was avoided on Tuesday. President Obama – with his somewhat lackluster record, if decidedly more exalted rhetoric, on global warming – defeated the Republican challenger who had vowed to gut federal emissions standards, and kill loan programs and tax breaks for green energy companies.

But activists say that it would be wrong to read the election as a stamp of approval for four more years of business as usual. They argue that voters have sent a clear signal that they want more aggressive action on the environment during the president’s second term.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) cites the defeat of three members of their “Flat Earth Five” – Anne Marie Buerlke (Republican, New York), Francisco Canseco (Repub;lican, Texas) and Joe Walsh (Republican, Illinois) – Republican representatives who were outspoken for their anti-science stance on climate change. (One race remains too close to call.) And ten of the League’s “dirty dozen” candidates – targeted for “consistently voting against clean energy and conservation” – lost their election bids.

Meanwhile, 11 out of 12 of the office-seekers dubbed “climate heroes” by a coalition led by environmental activist Bill McKibben, prevailed in Tuesday’s vote. The 12th “hero”, Jay Inslee, a gubernatorial candidate in Washington state who wants to jump-start the state’s lagging economy by transforming it into a national green-tech hub, continues to hold a small lead over Republican Rob McKenna and looks poised to win that race.

The election results overturn the conventional wisdom that voters don’t care about green issues, according to LCV’s spokesperson Jeff Gohringer:

“We went into this election cycle and the notion was that environmental champions were going to be wiped off the map. We did $3m-worth of advertising on climate change in places like Texas, and we won.”

This sentiment was echoed by Frances Beinecke, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council who wrote to her members on Wednesday that:

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Science Stunner: Observations Support Predictions Of Extreme Warming And Worse Droughts This Century

From Think Progress:

By Joe Romm
on Nov 9, 2012

“Future warming likely to be on high side of climate projections,” concluded a new analysis by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). And that “higher temperature rise would produce greater impacts on society in terms of sea level rise, heat waves, droughts, and other threats.”

Many in the media have been getting this story wrong — unintentionally lowballing the future warming we should expect this century if the NCAR analysis is correct. For instance, the Washington Post writes, “the world could be in for a devastating increase of about eight degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.”

Not quite. The news release makes clear that amount of warming would likely occur well before 2100. Since this confusion is quite common in climate coverage, I’ll quote at length from NCAR to set the record straight:

The most common benchmark for comparing model projections is equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), or the amount of warming that eventually occurs in a model when carbon dioxide is doubled over preindustrial values. At current rates of global emission, that doubling will occur well before 2100.

For more than 30 years, ECS in the leading models has averaged around 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).  This provides the best estimate of global temperature increase expected by the late 21st century compared to late 19th century values, assuming that society continues to emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide. However, the ECS within individual models is as low as 3 degrees F and as high as 8 degrees F.

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Soothsayers, Science and Skeptics

From Common Dreams:

by Christopher Brauchli
Published on Saturday, November 10, 2012 by Common Dreams

Religious feeling is as much a verity as any other part of human consciousness; and against it, on the subjective side, the waves of science beat in vain.
—John Tyndall, Science and Man (1863)

2012 has been a tough year for science. It took a direct hit in Italy, escaped, temporarily, in North Carolina and had a minor set back in Virginia. It was an especially tough time for scientific soothsayers in Italy and North Carolina. In Italy they’re off to prison and in North Carolina they’re muzzled.

Italy proves that soothsaying can be as hazardous as the perils it predicts. In that country the fate of six soothsayers and one government official was decided by a judge on October 22, 2012, four hours following the conclusion of a 13-month trial. The case pertained to the failure of the 7 men to accurately predict the April 6, 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila in central Italy.

Six days before the L’Aquila earthquake struck, Italy’s National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks held a meeting in L’Aquila at which the 7 men were in attendance. Ernest Boschi, the former head of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and one of the men convicted in the trial, was asked if the tremors that had been occurring in L’Aquila during the preceding several months presaged an earthquake similar to the 1703 earthquake that had devastated the town. In response to the question Dr. Boschi said: “It is unlikely that an earthquake like the one in 1703 could occur in the short term, but the possibility cannot be totally excluded.” That meeting and comments made by the scientists reassured an anxious public and evacuation plans were abandoned. Dr. Boschi was right to say the possibility could not be excluded. The earthquake came 6 days later, measured 5.8 on the Richter scale and resulted in 300 deaths, 1500 people injured, 80,000 made homeless and extensive property damage. Following their trial and conviction the seven men were sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay 7.8 million Euros. The case is now on appeal.

Long before that case was decided, North Carolina began considering what could properly be called a Scientific Soothsayer Protection Act known as House Bill 819. When first introduced, and until amended in July 2012, it outlawed soothsaying in determining future sea level rises although the goal had nothing to do with protecting scientists from lawsuits in case they got it wrong.

When scientists begin projecting what the sea level will be along the North Carolina coast by 2100, the Coastal Resources Commission of North Carolina issued a report that was based on computer models and came up with the troubling projection that the state should plan for a rise in the sea level of 39 inches by 2100, a rise considerably greater than what would have been projected based solely on extrapolating from the rise that had taken place since the beginning of the 20th Century. The projection alarmed (a) developers who feared those projections would imperil development on the coast and (b) legislators who don’t believe in global warming. Accordingly, a bill was introduced entitled “Sea-level policy restrictions; calculation of rate of sea level rise.” The act said, among other things, that no “State agency, board, commission, institution, or other public entity thereof shall adopt any rule, policy, or planning guideline addressing sea-level rise, unless authorized to do so under this Article.” The article banned the named entities from considering the possibility that climate change might accelerate sea level rise saying the rates of rise could only be based on historical data post 1900. In July the legislature succumbed to ridicule. The language was changed. The reference to “calculation of rate of sea-level rise” was removed from the title and instead of an outright ban on using science to calculate sea level rise, the state regulatory agencies were not permitted to “define rates of sea-level change for regulatory purposes prior to July 1, 2016.” It further provides that in 2015 the Commission “Shall compare the determination of sea level based on historical calculations versus predictive models.” That apparently levels the playing field between science and history.

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