Archive for corporate greed

"Only intensive push in next 15 years can stave off climate change disaster"

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tar sands keystone xl protest climate change disaster

The New York Times has an unnerving article about a United Nations report that "only an intensive worldwide push over the next 15 years can stave off" a potential climate change disaster later this century:

The report did find some reasons for cautious optimism. The costs of renewable energy like wind and solar power are now falling so fast that their deployment on a large scale is becoming practical, the report said. In fact, extensive use of renewable energy is already starting in countries such as Denmark and Germany, and to a lesser degree in some American states, including California, Iowa and Texas. [...]

Yet the report found that the emissions problem is still outrunning the will to tackle it, with global emissions rising almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century than in the last decades of the 20th century.

That was posted today. Yesterday, MSNBC's Alex Witt interviewed  John Fiege, the director and producer of "Above All Else," a documentary about lives affected by the Keystone XL tar sands Pipeline project. Juxtaposing these two reports in one post-- one on impending climate change disaster and the other on a short-sighted, corporate disaster-in waiting-- should be a wake-up call. But will it be?

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Witt: If completed, the [Keystone XL] pipeline could stretch 2,000 miles from the oil fields of Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Deep in the heart of Texas, a group of rural land owners and student activists came together in an unlikely union to protest the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The property owners claim they were manipulated into signing over their land to TransCanada. The energy company for its part is saying the pipeline is a job creator that will ensure North America's energy independence. What happened next is chronicled in a new documentary titled "Above All Else."...

Fiege: The companies building the pipeline were surprised to see such strong opposition from people who lived there. The thing in east Texas, they don't like a foreign company coming in and taking their property and they know how to fight back so it is an interesting conflict...

The folks who signed, as they learned more about what the Keystone XL pipeline is, and that its whole purpose is to transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, they didn't know that when they signed the agreement. They also didn't know that the company did not have the permits it needed to build the pipeline. So they felt like they were manipulated and lied to...

You know, another example of an oil project touted as being "state of the art, cutting edge" was the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf Coast that BP ran that exploded. We've heard this over and over again, where oil companies claim they're using state of the art technology-- they probably are-- but we see this over and over again that this infrastructure is not safe. ...

That's one of the main stories the film tells. If you're an individual, if you're an American and you want to fight back against this and you object to a foreign corporation taking your land and you want to do something about climate change, you are putting yourself at great peril and you're going to be crushed by these enormous corporate powers that have emerged and really taken an outsized, you know, section of power and wealth in our society. I think one thing this film chronicles is really a wake-up call for folks in the middle of the country and the reddest parts of red states who don't think this is a good system to have and feel completely disempowered.

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Expert on cultural production of ignorance "watches Fox News all the time"

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ignorance via Armando Lioss smallerPhoto via Armando Lioss

One of my favorite columnists, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), along with most sane people (read: not right wing extremists), does not think ignorance is bliss. In fact, he points out how the commercialization of ignorance has not only dumbed down America, it has endangered it. Hiltzik describes how industries thrive on disseminating public misinformation while they profit off of selling harmful concepts and products, exploit a willing media, all at the expense of increasingly oblivious consumers.

He cites the work of Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford and "one of the world's leading experts in agnotology, a neologism signifying the study of the cultural production of ignorance."

Hiltzik's piece in the Los Angeles Times is one that should be read in its entirety, but the highlights alone will make your hair stand on end. Alcoholic beverages and/or sedatives strongly recommended prior to reading:

Robert Proctor doesn't think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don't know can hurt you. And that there's more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense. [...]

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public acceptance of the scientifically proven links between smoking and disease: In the words of an internal 1969 memo legal opponents extracted from Brown & Williamson's files, "Doubt is our product." Big Tobacco's method should not be to debunk the evidence, the memo's author wrote, but to establish a "controversy."

Yes, infuriatingly, they peddle doubt and go out of their way to create controversy in order to implant big question marks in the minds of an unsuspecting, undereducated public. By inducing the media to "present both sides" when, in fact, there may not be two legitimate sides (science, anyone?), they divert focus and evade facts. For example, we've seen how they "sow doubts about the safety of childhood immunizations" (coughBachmann!cough) and deny climate change. And don't get me started on the lies about the Affordable Care Act:

When this sort of manipulation of information is done for profit, or to confound the development of beneficial public policy, it becomes a threat to health and to democratic society. [...]

And all those fabricated Obamacare horror stories wholesaled by Republican and conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act and their aiders and abetters in the right-wing press? Their purpose is to sow doubt about the entire project of healthcare reform; if the aim were to identify specific shortcomings of the act, they'd have to accompany every story with a proposal about how to fix it.

My head couldn't stop nodding in agreement when I caught this part:

"Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship." As part of his scholarship, Proctor says he "watches Fox News all the time."... Citing the results of a 2012 Gallup poll, Proctor asks, "If half the country thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old, how can you really develop an effective environmental policy? This sort of traditional or inertial ignorance bars us from being able to act responsibly on large social issues."

He goes on to explain how Big Tobacco exploited the tea party's obsession with what they love to call "freedom" and "choice," which of course plays into their anti-government meme, a position that consequently benefits the cigarette industry. Hiltzik emphasizes the importance of educating Americans in order to renew their trust in science. Competent journalism wouldn't hurt in that regard, now would it? He ends with this quote:

The effort needs to begin at a young age, [Proctor] says. "You really need to be teaching third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-graders that some people lie. And why do they lie? Because some people are greedy."

in greed we trust

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Don't drink the water! Wait...what? 'Almost Heaven'?

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WestVirginiaWaterBathtub

Note: the image above is from here

Growing up years ago, I remember reading stories of travelers who advised you not to drink the water in foreign countries. One alternative was to drink bottled water, soft drinks, whisky, anything but water from the tap. But that was 'other places' - not anywhere in the US. Here we prided ourselves on our environment, where we sang '

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Apparently those 'other places' where you should not drink the water if you want to stay healthy now include West Virginia.

But how can *that* be?

Later one of the songs I sang included 'This Land is Your Land'

Some of those lyrics were:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

And then came John Denver's 'Country Roads' the lyrics of which include:

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River -
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze

So how did we get from that to this? (via Daily Kos)

West Virginia Governor on Drinking the Water: 'It's Your Decision, I'm Not a Scientist' ?

Oh, that's right...someone sold out to the 'rape the earth' contingent.

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"We're done with your phony War on Christmas." #WarOnFundies

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cross memorial Mt.SoledadMt. Soledad cross, which sits on public land located on a San Diego hilltop.

Merry War on Christmas, boys and girls! Only four more corporate shopping days left, so it's time to focus on what Christianity and the celebration of the birth of their savior is all about.

If you're a regular reader of The Political Carnival, then Queen of Church v. State Oversight and author of Being Christian, K.C. Boyd, needs no introduction. If you are unfamiliar with her work, just go here to see all of my posts of her humor-imbued brilliance.

Yesterday she sent me something on the so-called War on Christmas that was share-worthy, and it goes a little something like this:

War on Christmas, fundies via KC Boyd religion

K.C. created that, wrote it, and thought, correctly, that I'd appreciate it. Oh, I do, I do.

war on christmas smaller

And because I value her perspective, allow me to also share today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter. They are responding to a Times editorial and a news item about efforts to preserve the Mt. Soledad cross, a war memorial in the vicinity of San Diego, California that was constructed on publicly owned land as a tribute to American soldiers killed in battle. A federal judge recently ordered the cross's removal, a decision I strongly support:

I'm disappointed in the Christian community for making no effort to understand the opposition to the Latin cross that sits on top of Mt. Soledad. They only offer criticism to those who find the cross offensive and unwelcome on public property.

Nonreligious Americans are not opposed to Christianity or religious symbols; they just don't appreciate any religious demonstrations on public property — be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or any other faith.

It's offensive to hear the Christian community imply that non-Christians are somehow not as patriotic or worthy of military honors because they don't support the Christian faith.

Rob Macfarlane

Newport Beach

***

The letters printed on this subject reflect the breadth of views held by our citizenry of widely varying beliefs. But none addresses the enduring root of religious symbol controversies.

Keeping crosses prominently positioned has become one means by which the Christian majority validates — some would say struts — its bullying of religious and nonreligious minorities. The same principle motivates that majority to insist on prayers to its God during meetings convened by public entities; nonbelievers are thereby marginalized.

The Supreme Court should put an end to institutionalized oppression of this country's growing non-Christian minority. A sweeping decision on the order of Brown vs. Board of Education — which in 1954 reversed the 'separate but equal' doctrine by which blacks were systematically oppressed — is past due.

Such a decision would ratify separation of church and state and help liberate nonbelievers from majority oppression. It would also serve to free the court from endless haggling over prickly religious freedom disputes.

Solano Beach

Aaron Mills

***

The saying, 'I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you,' comes immediately to mind after reading the letters wondering why someone would want the cross removed. But here's one more attempt:

The cross represents a powerful group that has been, for centuries, trying to obliterate me and mine from this planet. How can anyone seriously say that this honors us in any way?

Mary Ann Steinberger

Tujunga

By the way, of all the letters the L.A. Times received on this topic, only two were in favor of preserving the cross.

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Financing the Destruction of Planet Earth Are the Same Banks That Cratered Our Economy

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climate change if were bank would have been saved

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

[T]he same banks that nearly turned America into an economic dust bowl in 2008 are the ones financing the earth-destroying companies that promote toxic climate change like heroin to junkies. [...]

[Rev. Billy] Talen is hopeful that awareness is spreading that the banks too big to fail are failing our planet:

Everyone in the precinct house wanted an explanation of our action. When we said that Chase was financing climate disruption  --  the cops agreed! The thing is... we believe that employees inside the big banks also know this. Most Americans know that the biosphere is dying by human violence, whether it is chemicals, bulldozer blades, or outright population growth. We are all behind this great structure that we cannot surmount; this corporate wall. But we know that the Earth crisis is a kind of cry. The Earth cries out to us -- or through us....We are The Earth's cry as we shout in the banks that finance all that death.

The good reverend of the "church of stop shopping" has a distinct point: "shouting inside a bank about its climate-killing investments is a good thing."

Please read the entire post here.

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The success of the #Occupy movement: "Invisible suffering was made visible" #OWS

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ows 99 percent

Rebecca Solnit wrote an inspiring op-ed in today's L.A. Times, one I've been waiting for someone to write. If you need a morale boost, please read it in full. Solnit is an author who spent time at Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street in 2011. A longer version of the op-ed can be found at tomdispatch.com.

In her piece, she traces movements, activist groups, a unique person here and there, and identifies their transformative moments. She identifies milestones and special people who have made a meaningful difference and changed the world because they galvanized others with their mission.

Real change may at first be incremental, halting, and sometimes frustratingly imperceptible to those who aren't really paying attention, but eventually, it takes hold in ways unimagined.

In other words, the efforts can result in achievements that have lasting impact. And that impact can be on the whole wide world, a country, a legislative body, or on the very participants of a movement. And then those participants pay it forward.

[T]he moment that counts is the one where civil society is its own rule, improvising the terms of an ideal society for a day, a month, a season [...]

Almost as soon as Occupy Wall Street appeared in the fall of 2011, the national conversation changed and the brutality and obscenity of Wall Street were suddenly being openly discussed. The suffering of ordinary people crushed by the burden of medical, housing or college debt came out of the shadows.

California passed a homeowner's bill of rights to curtail the viciousness of the banks, and in late 2012, Strike Debt emerged as an Occupy offshoot to address indebtedness in creative and subversive ways. Student debt suddenly became (and remains) a topic of national discussion, and proposals for student loan reform began to gain traction.

Invisible suffering was made visible. And, though Occupy was never primarily about electoral politics, it was nonetheless a significant part of the conversation that got Elizabeth Warren elected senator and prompted a few other politicians to do good things in the cesspit of the capital.

Change often happens when the brutality of the status quo is made visible and therefore intolerable. [...]

Occupy Wall Street allowed those silenced by shame, invisibility or lack of interest from the media to speak up. ... [T]he media and politicians had to change their language to adjust to a series of previously ignored realities.

Part of what gave Occupy its particular beauty was the way the movement defined "we" as the 99%. That phrase (along with that contagious meme "the 1%") entered our language, offering a far more inclusive way of imagining the world.

Occupy is still working behind the scenes. I know this because I communicate regularly with those who are deeply involved, and I see reports of their impressive accomplishments. The tents are now gone, the drums stopped beating... but Occupy's heart didn't.

patience

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VIDEO: "Going Public" exposes wealthy conservatives' aim to gut public education. "Mommy, they're gonna fire me!"

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public schools trailer for Going Public doc

school vouchers

Someone I admire greatly, Lisa Graves, is in the movies! Specifically, a documentary about the despicable movement to privatize public schools. Here's the first sentence of her bio at ALEC Exposed:

Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PR Watch, SourceWatch, and BanksterUSA...

Please link over for the rest of her impressive resume.

And you can link over to all of our posts on privatizing public schools here, something I concentrate on because it infuriates me that so many wealthy Republicans and their corporate buddies (coughKOCHBROTHERScough) think nothing of closing our schools and then using the privatized ones, and our children, to turn a profit and bust unions.

Learning, teaching, and kids have nothing to do with it for these greedy, power-hungry monsters. This is about making money.

And by reducing tax dollars paid in, they cut public services for the rest of us while further enriching themselves, the richest people in the country.

Here's the trailer for "Going Public":

About a year ago we began the work on Going Public, our documentary whose goal is to remind the world that public education is the heart of our democracy. Our public schools are the last place where people from different classes and different walks of life come together to learn, to share ideas, and to be afforded a fair opportunity to reach for the American dream.

But today, an unholy alliance of wealthy conservatives and aggressive hedge fund managers have declared war on public education. Their goal is to dismantle public schools, and ultimately destroy the middle class and the opportunity of upward mobility that defines the can-do American spirit. We asked several questions: Why are teachers, their unions, and public education in general under attack now? Who stands to profit from this? And is there a real basis for these attacks? Finally, we want to know where our schools are working well and why. [...]

For anyone who’s ever hoped for a movement to bring back the dignity of public schools and restore their place in our democracy, for anyone who is looking for answers to the the role outside money is playing in helping to destroy public schools, we hope we’ve got your back.

How about throwing a little money their way so they can finish the project? Your donations will be tax-deductible, but more importantly, you're helping to expose the calculated destruction of public education and other services at the hands of those who care only about profit and power, not democracy, equality, the future of our children, and the lives of their fellow Americans.

privatize public schools Going Public doc

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