GOP launches race war to boost the 1 percent

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/24/gop_launches_race_war_to_boost_the_1_percent/

From Newt’s epithets to the gutting of food stamps, Republicans try to unite white people to serve a hideous agenda

By
Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013

The recent vote of House Republicans to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program reflects a deep-seated and insidious racial resentment toward Americans of color. This racial resentment rears its ugly head within the provisions for the bill that demand that non-employed participants in the program get a job, job training or do community service activities. Though the bill in its current form will most likely die in the Senate, the fact that Republicans would even pass it should concern us.

Conservatives continue to lead under the aegis of a deliberate and willful ignorance about the long-term existence of a group known as the working poor, people who work long hours in low-wage paying menial labor jobs, and therefore cannot make ends meet. Moreover, there is a refusal to accept that the economic downturn in 2008 created conditions of long-term unemployment, such that people simply cannot go out and “get a job” just because they will it to be so.

I often wonder if government officials actually talk to real human beings about these policies, because if they did, they would find many people with a deep desire to work, but a struggle to find well-paying jobs. Some of those people would gladly take jobs that pay far less, but are frequently told that their education and years of work experience make them over-qualified.

This is not a race-based problem. The American middle class itself is shrinking dramatically each year in relation to a poor economy, an insistence on austerity measures from the right, and a capitulation to these measures on the left. However, the complete irrationality and utter severity of the legislation, and the total lack of empathy and identification that inform contemporary Republican social advocacy is tied to a narrative about lazy black people and thieving “illegal” brown people.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan invented the term “welfare queen,” to characterize the actions of exactly one person in Chicago who had bilked the welfare system out of a staggering amount of money. Buttressed by an underlying white racial resentment of the liberal pieces of legislation that emerged during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations – laws that had attempted to change conditions, but could not change hearts and minds around racial inequality issues — white conservatives latched on to a narrative about lazy African-Americans stealing from taxpayers and living lavish lives financed by the welfare state.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/24/gop_launches_race_war_to_boost_the_1_percent/

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Climate Change Report “Gives No Reason for Optimism”

From Inter Press service:  http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/climate-change-report-gives-no-reason-for-optimism/

By Fabiola Ortiz
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 28 2013 (IPS)

Amidst rumours that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that each of the last three decades has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

The warming of the climate is “unequivocal,” says the IPCC. “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

 

The IPCC Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) Summary for Policy Makers – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis was released Friday Sept. 27 in Stockholm.

 

The full in-depth report will be published Monday Sept. 30, as the first of the four volumes of the AR5.

 

Brazilian climatologist Carlos Nobre, one of the lead authors of the Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, said the new report “gives no reason for optimism.”

 

“Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years,” the new summary says.

 

“The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data, as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85°C over the period 1880–2012”, it adds.

 

With respect to the supposed “pause” in the rise in temperatures, the IPCC says: “the rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012; 0.05°C per decade), which begins with a strong El Niño [a cyclical climate phenomenon that affects weather patterns around the world], is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951 (1951–2012; 0.12°C) per decade.”

 

But, it argues, “Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.”

 

And it sums up: “It is virtually certain that globally the troposphere has warmed since the mid-20th century.”

 

Nobre told IPS that “the report observes what is changing, in greater detail, and reduces uncertainties by means of updated scientific knowledge.”

 

It also confirms that climate change is principally due to human activity, added Nobre, secretary for R&D policy in Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/climate-change-report-gives-no-reason-for-optimism/

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Message to Corporate Media Reporters: What’s “Natural” about Colorado’s Epic Flooding? It’s A Man-Made Pollution Problem

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/26-10

by Jacqueline Marcus

An international team of climate scientists says it is 95 to 100 percent confident that human activity—largely from burning fossil fuels—is the main cause of global warming since the 1950s, according to a leaked draft of the upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Moreover, the jet stream patterns have been radically disrupted or changed in ways that are alarming.  The report, the first by the IPCC in six years released in September says that global sea levels could rise more than 3 feet in the next few decades if no action is taken to curb the worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases before then.

The weather extreme disasters are consistently confirming the scientific evidence that we are now experiencing man-made pollution writ large at “biblical proportions” and yet the corporate media anchors and reporters continue to wrongly call these weather catastrophes “natural disasters”.

 

Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News is no exception to the mainstream reporters when he labeled the Colorado floods a “natural disaster”.  The operative and deceptive word here is “natural”.  There is nothing “natural” at all about man-made global warming.  Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that “this single event has now made the calendar year (2013) the single wettest year on record for Boulder.”

 

The network evening news reporters, viewed by millions of people, are failing to report the scientific facts about man-made global warming and the current extreme weather disasters, recently the wildfires and Colorado floods.

 

To never make that connection between the two, to never even so much as utter the words “man-made climate change” and extreme flooding is like reporting on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico’s worst oil catastrophe in history without ever mentioning British Petroleum’s Horizon-Macondo deepwater massive explosions as the cause of that oil disaster.

 

We’re talking about a very simple concept: Cause and Effect.  The corporate media has conveniently dropped the identification of the “cause”, the major leading headline of these disasters: human pollution is the primary reason why weather patterns are turning into horrific and terrifying catastrophes at the cost of billions of dollars worth of damages.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/26-10

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Can Climate Change And Poverty Both Be Defeated At Once?

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/09/25/2678271/climate-change-global-poverty/

By Jeff Spross
on September 25, 2013

A year-long project to measure the economic costs and benefits of fighting climate change, and to harmonize that battle with lifting up the global poor, is getting off the ground.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is undertaking the study, and will release its results in September 2014 — just in time for the United Nations’ next big conference on climate change in 2015. It was commissioned by seven countries — Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway, Sweden and the UK — and will have a $9 million budget.

“At a time when governments throughout the world are struggling to boost growth, increase access to energy, and improve food security, it is essential that the full costs and benefits of climate policies are more clearly understood,” said Lord Nicholas Stern, Vice-Chair of the Commission. “It cannot be a case of either achieving growth or tackling global warming. It must be both.”

The place where those two goals meet is a critical leverage point. One of the great fears is that aggressive efforts to cut carbon emissions will impede economic expansion and entrench lack of access to energy, thus dragging down the chances of lifting the living standards of the global poor. One of the hopes for the study is it will allay those concerns, and help build an internatonal consensus to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.

The fact is, not only are the poor most at risk when national economies are held back, they are the most at risk when climate change arrives. The latest research, for instance, pegs southern and southeastern Asia — home to many of the world’s poorest — as one of the areas that could most easily be destabilized by climate shifts. The World Bank warns that within twenty years, rising drought and heat could render 40 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmland unsuitable for growing maize, a staple crop in global diets. Much of the continent’s grazing land for livestock could also be degraded past the point of usefulness. In Southeast Asia, the 2010 floods that affected 20 million people in Pakistan could become commonplace, and altered monsoon patterns could wreck the livelihoods of many of India’s farmers.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/09/25/2678271/climate-change-global-poverty/

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Nearly One In 10 U.S. Watersheds Is ‘Stressed’; Demand For Water Outpacing Supply: CIRES Study

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/watersheds-stressed-study-supply-water_n_3983176.html

By 09/24/2013
Nearly one in 10 watersheds in the United States is “stressed,” with demand for water exceeding natural supply — a trend that appears likely to become the new normal, according to a recent study.

“By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States,” said Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder and one of the authors of the study. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.”

According to the research of Averyt and her colleagues, 193 of the 2,103 watersheds examined are already stressed — meaning demand for water is higher than natural supply. The researchers found that most of the water stress is in the Western United States, where there are fewer surface water resources, compared with the East.

Averyt and her colleagues write:

On the water supply side, surface and ground water resources have been declining in much of the U.S. Aquifers underlying the Central Valley in California and the Ogallala, which spans the area between Nebraska and Texas, are being drawn down more rapidly than they are being recharged. Approximately 23% of annual freshwater demands rely on groundwater resources, yet the volume of groundwater remaining is unclear.Average surface water supplies are decreasing, and are expected to continue declining, particularly in the southwestern US.. Also in the southwest, water availability is defined as much by legal regimes as by physical processes. Water rights define how much and when water may be withdrawn from surface water sources irrespective of how much water may or may not be flowing in a given year. Water quality, including temperature and sediment concentration, can also constrain availability for certain users.

The researchers found agriculture requires the most water and contributes the most to regional water stress overall; the U.S. West is particularly vulnerable to water stress; and in some areas of the country, the water needs of electric power plants represent the biggest demand on water — so much so that a single power plant “has the potential to stress surface supplies in a local area.” In some densely populated regions like Southern California, cities are the greatest stress on the surface water system.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/watersheds-stressed-study-supply-water_n_3983176.html

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