Archive for U.N.

"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?

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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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Disability community shocked, hurt. Senate aide: "One of most shameful moments I've witnessed... utterly appalling."

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As I wrote yesterday, and as you can see in the video above, even Republican, 89-year-old disabled vet Bob Dole couldn’t sway 13 GOP senators to ratify U.N. disabilities treaty. And it was utterly shameful, a genuinely disgraceful episode. In fact, the outcome was so painful that it brought Lawrence O'Donnell to tears:

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Now it's becoming clearer than ever that Republicans don't value life at all, unless of course, they think they can squeeze votes from uninformed and gullible voters by saying they do. It's becoming clearer than ever that Republicans say one thing and do another. It's becoming clearer than ever that heartless far right hypocrites need to go.

As  Josh Rogin reports, the disability community was shocked and hurt:

David Morrissey, the executive director of the United State International Council on Disabilities, told The Cable in an interview that his group and many others had been assured by numerous GOP senators that they would vote in favor of ratification, but then disabilities groups were given no warning when those senators reversed themselves and voted "no." [...]

The scene both inside and just outside the Senate chamber Tuesday before and during the vote was heart-wrenching, several observers said. Wounded war veterans and other disabled people filled the gallery above the floor and the hallways outside the chamber, expecting to celebrate months of effort, only to have those hopes shattered as the roll call vote was read aloud.

"That was one of most shameful moments I've witnessed during my time in Washington," one longtime senior Senate aide said. "I thought it was utterly appalling."

"The reaction was one of emotional hurt. There was weeping in the gallery," said Morrissey, who added that disability groups will remember the GOP senators who torpedoed the treaty ratification effort and groups have labeled the 38 the "wall of shame."

As Morrissey went on to say, this is what happens when right wing crazies try to agitate home schoolers, "pro-lifers" [sic], and parents with disabled children.

Be proud, GOP. Have yourselves a merry little Christmas.

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Even Republican, 89-year-old disabled vet Bob Dole couldn't sway 13 GOP senators to ratify U.N. disabilities treaty

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(Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images)

Being a well-respected, wheelchair-bound, 89-year-old former Senate majority leader and former GOP presidential nominee still wasn't enough for Bob Dole to convince his fellow Republicans to support an initiative to extend the rights granted to Americans under the Americans with Disabilities Act to citizens of the world.

Wanna know who had more influence than Dole did? Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation's advocacy arm, Heritage Action, and the Family Research Council, plus sympathetic, tenderhearted types like Glenn Beck and Rick Santorum. They got jittery over the idea of "U.N. overreach."

Or as I like to call it, good will.

Josh Rogin is reporting that Santorum's Patriot PAC sent out a fundraising e-mail shortly after the vote claiming credit for the defeat.

Here's what GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte, a supporter, said:

“Senate ratification of this treaty would reflect America’s leadership role in breaking down barriers for disabled individuals. It would take a step toward making it easier for disabled Americans to live and work overseas, without impinging on U.S. sovereignty or Congress’ authority to determine our disability laws. Veterans service groups are especially supportive of the treaty, which would help level the playing field for disabled veterans who are abroad.”

But Bob Dole couldn't get 13 Republicans to ratify the treaty. Per Roll Call, only seven "joined Democrats to back U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which would have expanded rights to disabled people globally." Those seven were Ayotte, John Barrasso, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia J. Snowe, Richard G. Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain.

There were a few cowards who could have made a difference, but chose not to:

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., changed his vote from a “yes” to a “no” after it was obvious the treaty would fall short of ratification. Cochran is up for re-election in 2014 and could face a primary challenge from his right.

The other self-serving members of the Wussy Four who were skittish about being primaried were Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham, and Lamar Alexander.

Happy holidays! 'Tis the season! Goodwill toward men (and women)!

Disabled men and women around the world will be eternally grateful to these compassionate "Christian" "pro-lifers" who will now have to live with their decision to deny people everywhere a little common decency. Be proud, Republicans.

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U.N. diplomat investigating Manning torture claims denied private meeting with the WikiLeaks suspect

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I’ve posted previously about the allegedly abusive treatment Bradley Manning has gotten while held in solitary confinement 23 hour a day at a maximum security prison. He has also been forced to strip at night and sleep without clothing.

In another post,  former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley spoke up:

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told an audience at MIT on Thursday that he thought the Defense Department’s treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source Private Bradley Manning was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

After that, Crowley was "forced to resign."

And now, a U.N. diplomat is getting a thumbs down for his request for an unsupervised visit with Manning. He's been trying to determine whether or not Manning's solitary confinement and treatment are, in fact, torture:

A United Nations diplomat charged with investigating claims of torture said Monday that he is “deeply disappointed and frustrated” that U.S. defense officials have refused his request for an unmonitored visit with Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of passing classified material to WikiLeaks.

Juan E. Mendez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said his request for a private interview with Manning was denied by the Defense Department on Friday. Instead, he has been told that any visit must be supervised.

Mendez says he must speak to Bradley Manning with no witnesses or guards present. If he is monitored, Manning may not be "absolutely candid and honest", per Mendez. His job is to "to investigate cases of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and report them to the U.N. Human Rights Council."

On Sunday, the New York Review of Books published a letter signed by more than 250 lawyers, professors and authors, including Harvard University constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe, that called the conditions of Manning’s confinement “illegal and immoral.” The British government has also raised concerns about the issue.

More at the Washington Post.

All our Bradley Manning posts here.

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VIDEO- President Obama comments on situation in Libya: "All attacks on civilians must stop."

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Bombs away....

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Video- President Obama at Millennium Development Goals Conference

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100,000 march for more aggressive action on global warming

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By GottaLaff

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/12/13/world/13climate_CA0/articleLarge.jpg
(Via)
http://www.tdbimg.com/files/2009/12/12/img-hp-main---copenhagen-climate-protests_1740516199.jpg

Now this is how you do a protest. Tea Partiers, eat your hearts out:

Police and organizers estimated that between 60,000 and 100,000 people showed up to protest the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen Saturday, demanding more aggressive action on global warming. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, except for some radical groups whose spontaneous protests led to 900 arrests. The chief coordinator for Danish police said, [...] Most demonstrators were looking to speed up action to stop climate change, but various social and political causes were represented, from vegetarianism to the Iranian opposition, and of course, the ubiquitous Free Tibet folks.

And that's the way it is.

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