Postcard from Colorado: H2Oil

Where My Ladies At?

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Climate Change Is Not the Future

From Common Dreams:

Reporting needed on present-day impacts of global warming

A comment from a Los Angeles Times editor that the paper doesn’t print letters that deny human-induced climate change because they have “an untrue basis” (Washington Times, 10/11/13) didn’t cause quite the stir conservatives might have hoped for—probably because it reflects a growing sense that it’s long past the time for journalism to be debating whether such change is happening, and that even where denialist claims are rebutted, they distort and derail the discussion.Sadly, corporate reporters’ fealty to notions of partisan balance means that many stories on climate policy still include the predictable protests of deniers like Sen. James “God’s still up there” Inhofe (R.-Ok.). Weather reporting notoriously whistles past the issue. And business section stories on the energy industry implicitly accept the centrality of fossil fuels—essentially leaving specialty science or environmental reporting as the only arena in which the reality of climate change is taken as a given.

Making climate change an A-section story means ceasing to think of it as something that “might happen.” While it’s irresponsible for journalists to claim certainty where it doesn’t exist, climate change reporting that’s entirely framed around what “could happen” is irresponsible in a different way, suggesting that any effects lie in an avoidable future. What may lie in the future is the devastation of the natural world; climate change is here now.

Rather than having scientists and ideologues talk past each other, journalists could be reporting countless compelling stories on the actually happening effects of climate shifts.

In the Pacific nation of Tuvalu, rising seas and ocean acidification are eroding the coral and hurting fishing stock; a 2011 drought sapped the islands’ drinking water, forcing the closure of hospitals and schools. Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga likened climate change to a “slow and insidious form of terrorism against us,” and there’s strong resistance to the idea of relocation, which Maina Talia of Tuvalu Climate Action told Radio Australia (9/27/12) “is not a choice for the poor people. It’s just a choice for the rich people.”

Some indigenous Alaskan coastal communities are set to disappear. The Guardian (5/13/13) reported from Newtok, where “Yup’ik Eskimo have been fishing and hunting by the shores of the Bering Sea for centuries and the villagers reject the notion they will now be forced to run in chaos from ancestral lands.” Moving will also be expensive; for villagers, “finding the cash, and finding their way through the government bureaucracy, is proving the challenge of their lives.”

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Arab World Sinks Deeper into Water Crisis, Warns UNDP

From Inter Press Service:

The Arab world is widely perceived as blessed with an embarrassment of riches: an abundance of oil (Saudi Arabia), one of the world’s highest per capita incomes (Qatar), and home to the world’s tallest luxury building (United Arab Emirates).

  But it lacks one of the most finite resources necessary for human survival: water.

“The average Arab citizen has eight times less access to renewable water than the average global citizen, and more than two thirds of surface water resources originate from outside the region,” says the U.N.Development Programme (UNDP) in a new study released this week.

Titled “Water Governance in the Arab Region: Managing Scarcity and Securing the Future,” the report warns that water scarcity in the region is fast reaching “alarming levels, with dire consequences to human development”.

The region accounts for five percent of the world’s more than seven billion people, and 10 percent of its area, but accounts for less than one percent of global water resources.

Its share of annual renewable water resources is also less than one percent, and it receives only 2.1 percent of average annual global precipitation.

Over 87 percent of the region’s terrain is desert and 14 of the world’s 20 most water-stressed countries are in this region, the study notes.

Maude Barlow, a former senior U.N. advisor on water and author of “Blue Future, Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever”, told IPS the Middle East is in “a water crisis.”

Desertification is a sweeping problem in countries such as Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran.

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TERF Battles

From Out Smart:

Uncovering the hate group hiding in our own community.

by Cristan Williams
December 1, 2013

Transsexual surgery “could be likened to political psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I suggest that transsexualism should best be seen in this light, as directly political, medical abuse of human rights. The mutilation of healthy bodies and the subjection of such bodies to dangerous and life-threatening continuing treatment violates such people’s rights to live with dignity in the body into which they were born.”

This quote was written by an influential member of a group that has targeted transgender people for the last forty years. This group has done more to oppress trans people than any other hate group in existence. They have affected the lives of each and every trans person in America, and are the originators of many of the anti-trans memes we’ve all heard the radical Right use. However, far from being a creation of right-wing fundamentalist extremism, this is our own homegrown hate group: the Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFs, a term popularized by non-transgender feminists in 2008.

What’s both interesting and insidious about this group is that they’ve historically enjoyed acceptance within academia, progressive circles, feminism, and the gay and lesbian community. In the same way that other anti-LGBT fundamentalist groups wrap their hate in religion in order to make their views a part of religious discourse, TERFs wrap their anti-trans hate in the language of feminism, womanism, and/or lesbian culture.

The quote at the beginning of this article comes from Sheila Jeffreys, a TERF author, lecturer, and academic. Her quote appeared in a peer-reviewed paper published by the Journal of Lesbian Studies in 1997. The paper is titled “Transgender Activism: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective,” and it is being promoted on the website of a women’s rape shelter, which is where I found it.

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Memorial draws controversy over invitation of speaker Janice Raymond

From Rabble Ca.:

By Mercedes Allen
November 29, 2013

On November 30, an event is being held in Vancouver to remember the victims of the 1989 massacre at L’École Polytechnique. The event’s purpose is to seek ways to end violence against women. It has attracted some criticism, however, for the inclusion of a lecture by author, activist and professor Janice Raymond.

Raymond is Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies and Medical Ethics at the University of Massachusetts, and was a co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and is controversial in both sex work and trans communities.

Raymond will be presenting a lecture entitled “Prostitution: Not a job, not a choice.” In it, she discusses her efforts to abolish sex work, which included advising the federal government’s legal team defending anti-prostitution laws during the recent Supreme Court Bedford v. Canada hearings.

Hilla Kerner, a member of the Vancouver Rape Relief (VRR) collective, which sponsored the event, explained why they felt that the lecture was an appropriate choice:

The connection that we’re making between prostitution, between women in the sex trade and the murder of 14 students is that they are all different but harsh expressions of the same phenomenon of women’s oppression and the patriarchal forces that try to keep women in a subordinate place. On this particular day, we intentionally remember those 14 women in the political and historical context that this man killed them. But we also use the day to talk about violence against women now, to reveal the different forms of male violence against women, and to celebrate women’s resistance…We do see prostitution as one form of male violence against women.

Katrina Caudle is a sex worker and sex work advocate who has done escorting, queer feminist porn, amateur porn and nude modeling using the names Velvet and @faeriedark. Caudle disagrees with Kerner, saying that decriminalization provides a better option.

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Using the Bible to Resist Climate Action: A Supercut

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Frances Moore Lappé: Delicious Food Is Not An Indulgence—It’s a Way to Solve Our Ecological Crises

From Yes Magazine:

Since I first published “Diet for a Small Planet” in 1971, the movement for food that is good for our bodies and our planet has blossomed beyond what I ever imagined. Here’s how.

Nov 27, 2013

I grew up in Cow Town. Or make that Fort Worth, Texas. It was the ’50s and supper was canned spinach with either meat loaf or with what my brother and I called “loose meat”—ground beef and canned mushroom soup. Iceberg lettuce and Jell-O rounded it out.

Food was not a big deal.

But when I ended up in Berkeley in the ’60s, food was a big deal. The food scene buzzed with experimentation. We rejected white-bread culture, and eating brown rice became a political statement. With stirfried veggies, what could be better? At the same time, food became my teacher: I spent long hours in the university agriculture library trying to figure out why there was so much hunger in the world. Were we really running out of food? Well, no, there was more than enough for all. I was more startled to discover that we humans are actually creating scarcity.

The global marketplace is driven by underlying economic rules that concentrate wealth and generate extreme inequality. Millions of people are too poor to pay market price for food. So grain that could feed the hungry instead becomes a raw material for a luxury product: grain-fed meat.

How illogical, how destructive! I don’t have to be part of that, I realized. It dawned on me that eating low on the food chain—a plant-centered diet—was best for others, my body, and the Earth. The ultimate win-win.

I never felt I was “giving up” anything. It soon dawned on this daughter of Cow Town that, while animal foods come in a few shapes and flavors, the world of plant food is almost endless: Think of green, red, yellow veggies. Root foods—from yams to purple potatoes. Legumes, including peas, beans, lentils, each with jillions of varieties. Fruits, from the bright, giant watermelon to the dark, delicate fig.

I learned that nuts and seeds are not just for the birds. I started trying out different taste combinations. What … you mean mushrooms and barley make a great casserole? I scandalized my Lebanese girlfriend by adding garbanzos to my tabbouleh. I had a great old time making up stuff.

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Corporate Elites Are Witnessing a Growing Wave of Resistance to the ‘Walmartization’ of Our Economy

From Alternet:

The fight for more worker rights and wages is gaining a critical mass.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
November 29, 2013

The struggle of working Americans took center stage as Black Friday protests covered the country.  The struggle for wages that do not leave families impoverished is one that affects us all and highlights the unfair economy created by a class war waged by the wealthy for decades.  The ‘Walmartization’ of the US economy has created a downward spiral in wages and destroyed small businesses and communities while heightening the wealth divide that is at the root of so many problems.  The war on working people is a war on all but the wealthiest Americans.

The people are fighting back and the elites recognize it. We have seen how aggressive they are in how they responded to Occupy and other protest movements. Thousands of Americans have been arrested exercising their Right to Assembly, more than 7,500 in Occupy alone.  There is fear in the investor class as they see people organizing and mobilizing.  Corporations are now investing more time and money in preparation to protect themselves from investor actions and legal challenges. The actions of corporations and governments against the people are a sign of their fear, and a sign of our unrealized strength.

Noam Chomsky writes in his new book, Occupy: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity, that the “business class” is always engaged in class warfare. They continually act to protect their interests, wealth and power. The class war manifests itself in every aspect of our lives from the attack on our public institutions and civil liberties to climate change and the global race to the bottom and racially unfair police enforcement and mass incarceration.  It defines our foreign policy including trade agreements rigged for big business and wars for resources, cheap labor and the positioning of American Empire.

Active Fronts of Struggle in the Class War

There are many active fronts of struggle. In last week’s report we emphasized the bold and creative protests against climate change, extreme energy extraction and toxicity in our environment. This week we focus on another critical front, worker rights and wages; and highlight the necessity for persistence, solidarity and transformation.

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Fast Food Giants Gorge on Subsidies

From Common Dreams:

Thanks to a loophole that subsidizes CEO pay, McDonald’s, Yum Brands, Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands trimmed $64 million from their tax bills in 2011 and 2012.

by Sarah Anderson

The fast food industry is notorious for handing out lean paychecks to their burger flippers and fat ones to their CEOs. What’s less well-known is that taxpayers are actually subsidizing fast food incomes at both the bottom — and top — of the industry.

Take, for example, Yum Brands, which operates the Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut chains. Wages for the corporation’s nearly 380,000 U.S. workers are so low that many of them have to turn to taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs just to get by. The National Employment Law Project estimates that Yum Brands’ workers draw nearly $650 million in Medicaid and other public assistance annually.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the company’s pay ladder, Yum Brands’ CEO David Novak pocketed $94 million over the years 2011 and 2012 in stock options gains, bonuses and other so-called “performance pay.” That was a nice windfall for him, but a big burden for the rest of us taxpayers.

Under the current tax code, corporations can deduct unlimited amounts of such “performance pay” from their federal income taxes. In other words, the more corporations pay their CEO, the lower their tax burden. Novak’s $94 million payout, for example, lowered YUM’s IRS bill by $33 million. Guess who makes up the difference?

My new Institute for Policy Studies report calculates the cost to taxpayers of this “performance pay” loophole at all of the top six publicly held fast food chains — McDonald’s, Yum, Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands.

Combined, these firms’ CEOs pocketed more than $183 million in fully deductible “performance pay” in 2011 and 2012, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $64 million. To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to cover the average cost of food stamps for 40,000 American families for a year.

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