Today in labor history: “Wobblies” founded in 1905

From People’s World:

June 27 2013

The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the “Wobblies,” was founded at a 12-day convention in Chicago, June 27, 1905.

The “Continental Congress of the Working Class” established the industrial Workers of the World with cooperation of sections of the Socialist Labor Party/Socialist Trades & Labor Alliance, Socialist Party of America, Western Federation of Miners, and survivors of the International Working People’s Association.

Participants included the legendary William “Big Bill” Haywood, head of the Western Federation of Miners. Other prominent early IWW organizers included Lucy Parsons, Eugene Debs, “Mother” Mary Jones, Frank Little, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn – whom Joe Hill dubbed the “Rebel Girl.” Flynn later became a leader of the Communist Party USA.

The IWW was a pioneer in labor and socialist organizing. It advocated industrial unionism and called for “one big union” that would overthrow capitalism through general strike action. However, it opposed political action, believing that transformation of society would stem from strikes and street protests.

The Wobblies advocated for equality. Its famous motto was, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

At its peak, the IWW membership was about 40,000, with especial strength in the west. Its numbers declined in the 1920s and beyond due to a number of factors. These included splits in the organization, government suppression of “reds” and “agitators” in general, emergence of the Communist Party which championed political as well as labor organizing, and changes in the industries and labor force where it had its greatest strength.

The IWW had a major impact on the organization of America’s major mass production industries, on other later social struggles, and on American culture. The Wobbly movement produced famous songs still sung today, with the most famous being the union anthem “Solidarity Forever.”

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AFA: With DOMA Decision, America Is ‘Shaking Its Fist at God,’ Christians Will be ‘Crushed’

It there any further proof needed that fundamentalist religious convictions of any sort are a mental illness and should be treated as such?

Further is there any further proof needed that the AFA is a Neo-Nazi hate group?

Fight for Transgender Rights in NY Continues After Senate Fails to Take Up GENDA

From HRC:

Melissa Sklarz
June 24, 2013

The following is written by Melissa Sklarz, President of Stonewall Democrats in New York City who lobbied with HRC in Albany.

I went to Albany on Wednesday to try to add my voice to the final session of the New York State Senate in discussing the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA).  I have done this before as I was one of the creators of the bill in 2002.

When gays and lesbians got legal protection in 2002, a strong effort was made to change the language of the bill and add a clause and definition for Gender Identity and Gender Expression. But it failed, and we made a bill to go it alone.  This is our 11th campaign.

But this year was different. It was an off year, without state elections; we had support throughout the state, we had polling, funding, experienced lobbyists, a media campaign, testimony from families with trans people, police and union support, and funding and boots on the ground from HRC.

I was so excited to get started that I rushed to the Senate to join HRC before changing out of my travel clothes. I met with Kate Oakley, an HRC political staffer who grew up in the Albany area.  We bonded immediately and off we went to look for votes.

Being the President of Stonewall Democrats of New York City and a transgender political operative meant I knew all the Democrats and very few Republicans. But all the power for GENDA lay with the GOP. We hooked up with the other GENDA people, both insiders and activists.

We did our job, this is, we drove legislators crazy. We thanked our friends and grabbed anyone connected to the GOP conference. We reminded them over and over the narrative of community and added personal perspective to the struggle.  As Kate reminded me, all we needed was a glimmer, and it always kept us going.

We worked the Senate on Wednesday for 8 hours and then 14 hours on Thursday. We were in the gallery until after midnight.  We did everything two people could do to advance the cause of equality and justice.

In the end, it did not work. The GOP doesn’t see the need for a new bill and the Democrats are splintered. Perhaps you know it is a tough time to be a Democratic Senator from New York State? Nevertheless, I could not sleep at night knowing that I could have done more for our cause.  I think it is basic and essential and that is the message that I bring to elected officials, to other trans people, and all of our allies.

Trans people need more of everything.  We need more faces, more money, and more friends.  We need our successes to join the battle, here and elsewhere, and we need our strivers to find the courage, show up, and tell people what it is like to change your gender in public.

I am not a fortune teller and it is too soon to think of next year. Kate worked great to keep me in the moment, but I have an idea.

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Statement on SCOTUS Voting Rights Ruling

From Transgender Law Center:

June 26, 2013

LGBT Advocacy Groups Stand With Civil Rights Counterparts in Disappointment at Voting Rights Ruling

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.

We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.

These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.

Center for Black Equity

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Work

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)


Human Rights Campaign

Immigration Equality Action Fund

Lambda Legal

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

PFLAG – Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Pride at Work, AFL-CIO

Transgender Law Center

Trevor Project


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Scalia the Mullah

From Slate:

The justice’s misunderstanding of morality, and how it leads him astray in cases about homosexuality.

Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In a speech last week titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” Justice Antonin Scalia told the North Carolina Bar Association that the court has no place acting as a “judge moralist” in issues better left to the people. Since judges aren’t qualified—or constitutionally authorized—to set moral standards, he argued, the people should decide what’s morally acceptable.


But does Scalia, whose quarter-century on the bench has marked him as the court’s moral scold for his finger-wagging views on social issues, have a coherent understanding of what it means to say something is or isn’t moral, and of morality’s proper role in the law?


Scalia would have you believe it’s liberal, pro-gay sympathizers who are imposing their own brand of moral laxity on the nation, and unconstitutionally using the courts to do it. His angry dissent in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case ending sodomy bans—decided 10 years ago this week—blasted the court for embracing “a law-profession culture that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda [which is] directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”


Ever since, Scalia has been railing against the loss of “moral opprobrium” as a legitimate basis for passing laws. Scalia implies that whatever the people feel should rule the day, constitutional rights be damned. “Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments,” he wrote, “have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is ‘immoral and unacceptable’ constitutes a rational basis for regulation.” A long string of state laws, he argued, are “sustainable only in light of” the court’s “validation of laws based on moral choices,” including bans on incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, public indecency and selling sex toys.

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The Death of DOMA and the Transformation of America on Gay Marriage

From Huffington Post:


It’s amazing to witness the most powerful court in the land strike down a law that made you a second-class citizen. I found myself getting emotional this morning, something I didn’t expect but which attested to how long a struggle this has been.

But let’s remember that today’s big win on marriage equality comes at the end of a term in which the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and punted on affirmative action. That a court could curtail rights one day and expand them the next, based on the opinion of one justice, underscores all that is troubling about this court. Let’s be clear about one thing: The overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) after this week’s other major court decisions is not indicative of this court’s embrace of civil rights as much as it reveals the precariousness of all our rights. It would be at our own peril not to keep in mind how rights can be rolled back on a whim.

The overturning of DOMA is monumental, ending almost 20 years of discrimination that was at the heart of unequal treatment of gay and lesbian Americans. The venomous arguments that members of Congress spewed as they passed the bill, which President Clinton signed in 1996, are still vivid in my mind. I’m enthralled to see DOMA dead and buried. But we must keep it in perspective. Contrary to those who claim the gay movement has “arrived” and that we’re at the precipice of “victory,” the truth is that we don’t have any federal protections of any kind — no employment protections, no protections in housing or public accommodations or credit.

Until recently, with the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and now DOMA, we had laws that were put in place solely to prevent us from attaining rights and keep us as second-class citizens. Those federal laws are now gone, and we start with a clean slate. Now we can go about the process of getting full equality, actually attaining rights, in the states — where over 30 have bans on marriage for gays and lesbians — and federally, which will be the beginning of another long slog.

On Prop 8, it was a win, though not the mega-win that many, including power attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, had hoped for. But the fight itself transformed the debate. Taking Prop 8 to the Supreme Court was a highly criticized prospect that was always risky, as the justices very well could have upheld Prop 8 rather than rule that marriage is a constitutional right for gays and lesbians. Going by their questions at oral arguments, it didn’t seem that the justices were anywhere near ready to do the latter. Some would say we got lucky that they decided not to rule on the merits and decided that the Prop 8 proponents didn’t have standing to bring Prop 8 to federal court. It means that Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling stands and gay marriage returns to California. With the Golden State, the number of people in the U.S. who live in a marriage equality state expands dramatically, to almost one third of the U.S. population, and more than 25 percent of the states.

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Two victories for marriage equality in Supreme Court decisions

From Liberation:


June 26, 2013


The author is an attorney, author, and professor at the George Washington University. He is author of the legal treatise Hate Crimes Law (Westlaw), periodically revises the First Amendment chapter in Sexual Orientation and the Law (Westlaw), and authors briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of various human and civil rights organizations.


The movement for equality scored two major victories on June 26, as different 5-4 majorities in the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and let stand the original Federal District Court decision that struck down California’s Proposition 8.


Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the DOMA case, U.S. v. Windsor, and announced his decision from the bench. He spoke eloquently about the nature of DOMA in attempting to undermine the dignity of same-sex couples, concluding that this was an unconstitutional law that served no legitimate purpose. His description of the discriminatory effect of the law was so moving that many courtroom viewers sniffled and choked back tears, including even a sizable portion of people sitting in the section of the room reserved for members of the Supreme Court bar, who are normally very careful about decorum.


This ruling reflects a judicial variation on the change in attitudes and understanding that the political struggle, inside and outside courtrooms around the country, has won very recently. Anti-equality forces had success in early stages by asking for a simple show of hands on “who wants gay marriage?” as evident in the early “Let the People Vote Coalition,” funded by the National Organization for Marriage.


Issue of equality


But as the debate moved beyond the initial, knee-jerk response to the idea of same-sex marriage, people began to see this as an issue of equality and denial of the rights and dignity of others. The last election cycle showed that people in many states (including ones that formerly voted against marriage equality) realized that there was no reason, other than bare bigotry, to deny marriage rights. Today, the majority of the Supreme Court recognized this truth, and affirmed that our Constitutional principles of due process and equal protection of the laws prohibit such baseless discrimination.

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Supreme Court strikes down Doma on historic day for gay rights in America

From The Guardian UK:

Justices rule Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and clear way for same-sex marriage to be restored in California

in Washington, Wednesday 26 June 2013

A landmark supreme court ruling struck down a controversial federal law that discriminated against gay couples in the US, delivering a stunning victory on Wednesday to campaigners who fought for years to overturn it.

The court also dismissed a separate appeal against same-sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal.

Together, the two rulings mark the biggest advance in civil liberties for gay people in a generation, and come amid growing political and international recognition that same-sex couples deserve equal legal treatment.

As reporters sprinted from the chamber down the court steps to deliver the news of the rulings, a roar built up from the crowd that had been waiting outside since the night before.

The most significant legal breakthrough came in the decision led by Justice Anthony Kennedy to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) was unconstitutional because it deprived citizens of “equal liberty” before the law.

Doma, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, previously barred married gay couples from a range of crucial legal rights including federal tax and estate tax exemptions, social security benefits, and the right to be notified of the death of next of kin. It also meant that the married partners of gay Americans were not recognised under the immigration system, leading to heartbreaking splits for couples of different nationalities.

But in a case brought by an 84-year-old resident of New York, Edith Windsor, who faced a $313,000 estate tax bill after the death of her partner of 40 years, lawyers successfully argued that Doma was an unconstitutional interference by Congress in the rights of states to determine marriage laws.

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Wendy Davis stands (literally) against the War on Women

From Daily Kos:

Laura Clawson
Wed Jun 26, 2013

People across the country tuned in, then tuned in some more, as Texas Republicans tried to put the next step in the War on Women into place on Tuesday, but were stopped by one woman and a crowd of her supporters. Republicans were trying to pass Senate Bill 5, an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would have shut down all but five abortion providers in the state. Hundreds of Texans had tried to testify against the same bill in the House, only to be shut down by Republicans. Then state Sen. Wendy Davis stood up for an epic talking filibuster.

If the state Senate did not vote on the bill on Tuesday, before a special session ended, it would be dead—for now. So Davis had to hold the floor for nearly 13 hours, until midnight. And, as word spread of what she was doing, she nearly succeeded. Texas operates on a three strikes and you’re out system, and, just after 10 PM Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ruled that she was off topic because she was talking about sonograms (and heaven knows those never enter into discussions about abortion). That made her third violation—her second one having been getting help to put on a back brace to enable her to keep standing.

Davis had to stop talking, and nearly two hours remained for the Senate to vote. But other Senate Democrats appealed and used parliamentary maneuvers to move the clock toward midnight. Then, in the final minutes, opponents of SB 5 in the gallery began cheering and shouting to drown out efforts to hold a vote:

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Abortion bill dies in Texas Senate after filibuster, crowd outburst

From Dallas Morning News:

25 June 2013

AUSTIN — A bill that would have given Texas one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country died amid chaos at the end of the special legislative session overnight.

After Republicans used strict interpretations of Senate rules to knock Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, off her marathon filibuster intended to block a vote on the measure before the midnight Tuesday deadline, abortion-rights advocates watching the session erupted in a loud protest.

After a delay of several minutes, it appeared senators voted 19-10 in favor of the bill, almost entirely along party lines. Democrats said the vote came too late, but Republicans declared victory on the matter.

Shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, a very upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst finally came to the dais to address the press and chamber on the fate of Senate Bill 5 and the crowd that at times drowned out the proceedings.

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WikiLeaks’ support of Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden

From William Blum:

By William Blum
June 26th, 2013

In the course of his professional life in the world of national security Edward Snowden must have gone through numerous probing interviews, lie detector examinations, and exceedingly detailed background checks, as well as filling out endless forms carefully designed to catch any kind of falsehood or inconsistency. The Washington Post (June 10) reported that “several officials said the CIA will now undoubtedly begin reviewing the process by which Snowden may have been hired, seeking to determine whether there were any missed signs that he might one day betray national secrets.”

Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.

It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance. 1

So what is a poor National Security State to do? Well, they might consider behaving themselves. Stop doing all the terrible things that grieve people like me and Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and so many others. Stop the bombings, the invasions, the endless wars, the torture, the sanctions, the overthrows, the support of dictatorships, the unmitigated support of Israel; stop all the things that make the United States so hated, that create all the anti-American terrorists, that compel the National Security State – in pure self defense – to spy on the entire world.

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Snowden Coverage: If US Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?

From Common Dreams:

by Jeff Cohen

The Edward Snowden leaks have revealed a U.S. corporate media system at war with independent journalism. Many of the same outlets—especially TV news—that missed the Wall Street meltdown and cheer-led the Iraq invasion have come to resemble state-controlled media outlets in their near-total identification with the government as it pursues the now 30-year-old whistleblower.

While an independent journalism system would be dissecting the impacts of NSA surveillance on privacy rights, and separating fact from fiction, U.S. news networks have obsessed on questions like:  How much damage has Snowden caused? How can he be brought to justice?

Unfazed by polls showing that half of the American rabble—I mean, public—believe Snowden did a good thing by leaking documentation of NSA spying, TV news panels have usually excluded anyone who speaks for these millions of Americans. Although TV hosts and most panelists are not government officials, some have a penchant for speaking of the government with the pronoun “We.”

After Snowden made it out of Hong Kong to Russia, New York Times journalist and CNBC talking head Andrew Ross Sorkin expressed his frustration: “We’ve screwed this up, to even let him get to Russia.”  By “we,” he meant the U.S. government.

Last time I checked, Sorkin was working for the Times and CNBC, not the CIA or FBI.

When a huge swath of the country is on the side of the guy-on-the-run and not the government, it’s much easier to see that there’s nothing “objective” or “neutral” about journalists who so closely identify with the spy agencies or Justice Department or White House.

The standard exclusion of dissenting views – panels often span from hawk (“he’s a traitor who needs to be jailed”) to dove (“he may have been well-intentioned but he needs to be jailed”) – offers yet another reason why young people, more libertarian in their views, have turned away from these outlets. Virtually no one speaks for them. While a TIME poll found 53 percent of respondents saying Snowden did “a good thing,” that was the sentiment of 70 percent of those age 18 to 34.

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Liberal icon Frank Church on the NSA

From The Guardian UK:

Almost 40 years ago, the Idaho Senator warned of the dangers of allowing the NSA to turn inward, Tuesday 25 June 2013

In the mid-1970s, the US Senate formed the Select Intelligence Committee to investigate reports of the widespread domestic surveillance abuses that had emerged in the wake of the Nixon scandals. The Committee was chaired by 4-term Idaho Democratic Sen. Frank Church who was, among other things, a former military intelligence officer and one of the Senate’s earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, as well as a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Even among US Senators, virtually nothing was known at the time about the National Security Agency. The Beltway joke was that “NSA” stood for “no such agency”. Upon completing his investigation, Church was so shocked to learn what he had discovered – the massive and awesome spying capabilities constructed by the US government with no transparency or accountability – that he issued the following warning, as reported by the New York Times, using language strikingly stark for such a mainstream US politician when speaking about his own government:

“‘That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.’

“He added that if a dictator ever took over, the NSA ‘could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.'”

The conditional part of Church’s warning – “that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people” – is precisely what is happening, one might even say: is what has already happened. That seems well worth considering.

Three other brief points:

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Greenwald: Snowden’s Files Are Out There if ‘Anything Happens’ to Him

From The Daily Beast:

Snowden has shared encoded copies of all the documents he took so that they won’t disappear if he does, Glenn Greenwald tells Eli Lake.

Jun 25, 2013

As the U.S. government presses Moscow to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, America’s most wanted leaker has a plan B. The former NSA systems administrator has already given encoded files containing an archive of the secrets he lifted from his old employer to several people. If anything happens to Snowden, the files will be unlocked.

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who Snowden first contacted in February, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.” Greenwald added that the people in possession of these files “cannot access them yet because they are highly encrypted and they do not have the passwords.” But, Greenwald said, “if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”

The fact that Snowden has made digital copies of the documents he accessed while working at the NSA poses a new challenge to the U.S. intelligence community that has scrambled in recent days to recover them and assess the full damage of the breach. Even if U.S. authorities catch up with Snowden and the four classified laptops the Guardian reported he brought with him to Hong Kong the secrets Snowden hopes to expose will still likely be published.

A former U.S. counterintelligence officer following the Snowden saga closely said his contacts inside the U.S. intelligence community “think Snowden has been planning this for years and has stashed files all over the Internet.” This source added, “At this point there is very little anyone can do about this.”

The arrangement to entrust encrypted archives of his files with others also sheds light on a cryptic statement Snowden made on June 17 during a live chat with The Guardian. In the online session he said, “All I can say right now is the U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”

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WikiLeaks’ Lawyer Speaks out on Snowden

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San Francisco’s Unique Character Crumbling as Wealthy Techies Take Over

From Alternet:

America’s favorite city is being Googlized, stripped of artists, minorities, and the non-rich.

By Steven Rosenfeld
June 25, 2013

It’s not just the 22 construction cranes dotting the San Francisco skyline and 5,000 pricey condos and apartments under construction. Nor is it the fleet of private buses ferrying 14,000 tech workers to Silicon Valley, or the explosion of restaurants and boutiques, or rents doubling, or the spike in evictions, or home sales now averaging $1 million.

What’s happening to San Francisco goes beyond the accelerating gentrification in multicultural districts like the Mission or Mayor Ed Lee minimizing affordable housing woes. The city that’s been a magnet for free spirits and immigrants and working-class people for decades seems to be losing its famous heart. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that its heart is being replaced by a software update.

The best encapsulation of this sea change, which is driven by a booming tech sector that’s generated 13,000 jobs since early 2012, might be this blog from former San Francisco Bay Guardian editor Tim Redmond, who begged the techie beneficiaries to stop treating the city he loves like a “rich kid’s playground.”

“When a 1990s tech-startup guy who admits he was part of the last generation of gentrification is now so fed up with the new arrival of high-paid techies that he’s ready to leave, it’s pretty serious,” he wrote in a piece titled, “The Mission ‘douchebags.’” He ended, “I know, I’m an old fart who is not rich and never will be… But if you’re lucky enough to be rich in your 20s, show some respect.”

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Obama’s fracked-up climate strategy will guarantee global warming disaster

From The Guardian UK:

Fatally flawed energy policies and inadequate emissions pledges cannot prevent dangerous climate change

Tuesday 25 June 2013

President Obama’s much-anticipated speech at Georgetown University unveiling America’s new climate change strategy offers welcome re-affirmation of the US government’s recognition of global warming dangers. Plans to regulate coal plants, beef up defences against flooding and sea level rise, increase energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and fast track permits for renewable energy on public lands, are critical steps forward.

But the new climate strategy remains fatally compromised by Obama’s unflinching commitment to the maximum possible exploitation of fossil fuels – a contradiction that has set the world on course to trigger unmitigated catastrophe in coming decades.

Central to the plan is Obama’s reiteration of his commitment to cutting US greenhouse gas emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. But this target is too little, too late – amounting to only a 4% cut in emissions compared with 1990 levels.

Even before this target was enshrined into US law, scientists warned that the pledge “will not be enough to head off dangerous climate change” as global temperatures would still breach the 2C target accepted by governments as the safe limit for global warming.

Indeed, one study found that:

“The pledges on the table will not halt emissions growth before 2040… Instead, global emissions are likely to be nearly double 1990 levels by 2040 based on present pledges.”

A new study by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) out this month concludes that full implementation of the pledges would still lead to a 3.3C rise by 2100. Based on actual climate policies so far, however, CAT warned that governments are “less likely than ever to deliver on the Copenhagen pledges.” If this continues, temperatures could exceed 4C by the end of the century, triggering positive feedbacks leading to further warming.

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Fracked Gas Isn’t a Bridge Fuel—It’s a Gangplank

From Eco Watch:

Josh Fox
June 25, 2013

It’s amazing to watch the bully pulpit, with all the power of this president’s ability to command words, focus on the greatest crisis of our generation. I applaud the President for tackling climate change in his speech today. It’s the most important issue we face. Reducing coal pollution, increasing energy efficiency, stimulating more renewable energy—it’s about time. Especially because Dr. Hansen and other climate scientists have shown that time is running out.

However, all the good that President Obama will do with his reductions in CO2 from power plants will be undone by his embrace of fracked gas. It is clear that he does not have the right information on fracked gas. His administration has allowed the gas industry to influence far too much of this process. In March, the President called a meeting to discuss his pending climate plan. The group of 14 energy-industry leaders—nine were CEOs of energy companies—included the head of the oil and gas giant Anadarko; Southwest Gas; Edison Electric Institute; FedEx, which pushes a switch to gas vehicles; and former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a longtime booster of gas.

As a result, this plan has become a wholesale endorsement of increased natural gas use in America and abroad. For all the correct emphasis on the dangers of climate change, the plan is: frack now, frack here and frack all over the world. Fracked gas isn’t a bridge fuel—it’s a gangplank.

The President’s Climate Action Plan says methane is 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). This is incorrect, it’s far more than that—for the first 20 years, methane is 80 to 105 times more powerful, than CO2 as a warming agent in the atmosphere. This means you need between 80 to 100 pounds of CO2 to equal the warming potential of 1 pound of methane. So even limited methane leaks from fracked wells (not to mention compressors and pipelines) can make fracked gas worse for climate than coal. And the leaks aren’t minimal or easily solvable. And methane is leaking like crazy. A series of peer reviewed studies have now put the leakage rates at between seven and 17 percent. Above one to three percent, the science tells us that developing fracked gas is worse than coal for the atmosphere.

Additionally there is the large problem of water contamination from drilling and fracking. A large percentage of the wells leak—as industry’s own documents and other studies show. These documents come from drilling giant Schlumberger, Archer Oil & Gas, Southwestern Energy and Society of Petroleum Engineers, to name just a few. A leaking well can’t be prevented, and it can’t usually be repaired thousands of feet below the earth. The great pressures under the earth, shrinkage, vibrations from nearby drilling, temperature changes—these all crack the cement that protects the well from leakage.

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