Archive for united nations

"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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"Turns out, Al Gore was right. Next we’ll discover he really did invent the internet."

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al-gore-climate-changeal gore climate change hot in here

Another snark-filled guest post by the one, the only Will Durst who's having a little fun with the unnerving prospect of living, and dying, with spot-on predictions about climate change by none other than Al Gore:

TINA TURNER, MAD MAX, AL GORE AND YOU

According to a new UN report, there’s good news and bad news about global warming. The good news is- it’s worse than we thought. Yeah. That’s the good news. The bad news- you don’t want to know. Because then there’s worse news and ultimately, “holy moley, is that an asteroid the size of a mini- mall crushing my house” news.

The same kind of news a doctor offers up after inviting you into his office, closing the door and advising you to sit down. Or your lawyer recommending a friend who “specializes in this sort of thing, but I warn you, he’s not cheap.” A mechanic walking slowly from your car, wiping his hands on a rag, sadly shaking his head. Or when a spouse’s packed bags are stacked near the front door and a voice from the kitchen intones: “We need to talk.”

After delivering their communiqué describing how not only has global warming already arrived, but it’s unpacked, made friends with the dog, is sleeping on the couch and drinking daddy’s bourbon that he thinks nobody knows is behind the Wheat Thins; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change threw up its hands and ran screaming from the room. The unreported nature of these actions can be chalked up to being considered normal activity at the UN.

Remember about 10 years ago, when the IPCC told the world that something had to be done soon or all hell was going to break loose? Well, guess what? Nothing was done and all hell has broken loose. You can actually see chunks of it littering the outskirts of Phoenix. With Lucifer himself haunting the halls of the Arizona State Capitol.

The gist of the statement is instead of wasting time on political gridlock strangling all efforts to diminish global warming, we need to learn to live with it. Seriously. That’s what they said. Their recommended strategy has evolved from halting climate change to surviving it. From mitigation to adaption. No more trying to keep gas out of the basement, now we concentrate on not lighting any matches. Turns out, Al Gore was right. Next we’ll discover he really did invent the internet.

Time to wave bye- bye to certain South Sea Islanders, unless they begin building a big bunch of boats real soon. Europe will need to increase flood insurance coverage exponentially. Sales of air conditioners in the US are destined to skyrocket like condom sales in a bus station brothel, and Australia might just want to pack up and move. Now.

Its not just increased temperatures and rising sea levels and more severe weather and ocean acidification and species extinctions and multi- ecosystem collapse and slathering on sunblock 8000 and polar bears wandering Winnipeg; they’re also predicting violent conflicts over dwindling food supplies and fresh water. Like the beer cooler at a 7- 11 on Bourbon St. the Saturday before Mardi Gras.

So for all you survivalists who have always imagined living like a post- civilization Mad Max fighting feral dogs for scraps while fending off leather- clad, Mohawk- sporting punks, your dreams may have finally come true. Hey, this could be fun. Especially if you’re Tina Turner. And secretly, who here among us, isn’t?

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new CD, “Elect to Laugh,” a calendar guide to personal appearances and info about the documentary film “3 Still Standing” in which he's one of the standing 3. Still.

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Shirley Temple Black Dies at 85

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Photo: fanpop.com

Photo: fanpop.com

(CNN) -- Shirley Temple Black, who rose to fame as arguably the most popular child star in Hollywood history, died late Monday night, her publicist said.
She was 85.
Temple Black, who also enjoyed a long career as a diplomat, died of natural causes at her Woodside, California, home. She was surrounded by family and caregivers, a statement from Cheryl Kagan said.
She began acting at age 3 and became a massive box-office draw before turning 10, commanding a then-unheard of salary of $50,000 per movie.

Here's more from CNN

The Little Princess: Shirley Temple - the Beginning

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How Far Should Diplomatic Immunity Reach

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DPL plates

When I was growing up I took a trip with my older brother to New York City. While we were walking around and seeing the sights, I noticed for the first time a license plate that had the "DPL" imprinted on it. I had never seen that before, growing up in the suburbs of Boston. I wasn't exactly a rube, but I wasn't big city either -- at least at that time.

So my big bro pointed out that the initials indicated that these cars belonged to people in the diplomatic corps. They had immunity and could break the law at will and even flaunt it. That was my brother's take and he even pointed out that the DPL car we were looking at was parked in a red zone.

From that time forward, through my years living in major cities, I've noticed lots of DPL cars and maybe not surprisingly, they always were parked in no parking zones or with time expired on the meters. I guess that's because they don't have to pay to park like the rest of us.

My interest was piqued when I caught this on Reuters:

In New York, Devyani Khobragade, a deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her housekeeper, an Indian national. She was released on a $250,000 bail.

In an email to colleagues, Khobragade complained of "repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing" and being detained in a holding cell with petty criminals despite her "incessant assertions of immunity".

In essence, this deputy consul was keeping an illegal slave. Let's just be honest here. And when she was subjected to the same treatment as the rest of Americans, her arrogance and immunity took over. She was demanding to be treated better than anyone else.

Maybe my brother was right. Being a diplomat means you can do anything to anyone and get away with any crime, large or small. That may be the way the government sees things, but if the NSA is going to eavesdrop on our calls and emails, maybe they need the power to hold possible criminals who are harboring sleeper cells on our soil.

I'm not saying Khobragade is running a sleeper cell or that her "slave" was a terrorist. But they could be. And this also could all be just one big misunderstanding. But we need to look at what diplomatic immunity really means. Can you come over here, kill an American citizen and just go back to your home country? Actually yes. And it's happened before with Soviet drunk drivers killing pedestrians and all they got was expelled back to their country. The dead victims didn't get to go home. They got planted six feet under. No charges were levied.

Readers Digest wrote about this:

Diplomatic immunity affords foreign diplomats in America a blank check for bad behavior. Unpaid bills, drunk driving, sex crimes and even slavery - what's the recourse?

In early 2005, Virginia police closed in on a suspected child predator — a man in his 40s who cops say drove four hours to meet a 13-year-old girl he’d met on the Internet, promising to teach her about sex. It turned out the girl was really a cop, and officers arrested the man at a shopping mall.

But then it was the police who got an unpleasant surprise. Their suspect, Salem Al-Mazrooei, was a diplomat from the United Arab Emirates — and therefore covered by “diplomatic immunity.” The cops had to let him go. Days later, Al-Mazrooei left the country, never having spent a night in jail.

Now back to the current crisis. The government of India has it tighty-whities all up in a bunch. They're taking retaliatory steps against the US embassy in India. They've taken down the protective barricades which keep our diplomatic corps over there safe.

The measures included a revision of work conditions of Indians employed at U.S. consulates and a freeze on the import of duty-free alcohol.

You know they mean business when they freeze the import of duty-free alcohol.

It's about time we get real here. Respect and privacy are one thing to grant visiting dignitaries. But freedom to overtly break our human rights laws, to become general parking scofflaws and to commit horrific human crimes is not above the law for us, or for them.

So India, spend a bit more time thinking about why you're defending a slave holder and less on making the US presence on your land less safe.

And Obama -- maybe you need to get John Kerry off the plane a little longer to look at the way we are protecting law breakers here under the guise of diplomatic immunity.

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India To Reconsider Banning Gays - Must See Video

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Taj-mahal-india-taj-mahal-720x1280

Yesterday, India's Supreme Court struck down a law which makes some common heterosexual activity as well as homosexual contact punishable by prison.

From Reuters:

In a major blow to gay rights in the world's largest democracy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a 2009 ruling by a lower court that had decriminalized gay sex.

"Criminalizing private, consensual same-sex sexual conduct violates the rights to privacy and to non-discrimination enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified," Pillay said in a statement issued in Geneva.

"Yesterday's Supreme Court decision in this case represents a significant step backwards for India and a blow for human rights."

And speaking of blows, this Supreme Court finding also outlaws all "blowjobs" whether same sex or mixed.

The law criminalizes all acts of carnal intercourse other than heterosexual penile-vaginal intercourse, irrespective of consent.

This sounds like Ken Cuccinelli is the Chief Justice of the India Supreme Court. Fortunately, the outrage this finding has caused is now coming under review of the national congress in India. The Indian government under their rules, can override or rewrite this ruling.

The top court stated that India's government could change the law, deeming the Delhi High Court had overstepped its powers.

Let's hope saner minds take hold. Along the lines of this backward thinking by the India Supreme Court, here's a very short video that demonstrates what type of HARM this narrow thinking can cause --not just in India, but everywhere.

Those who victimize their loved ones don't realize the harm they do. Their ignorance results in shame and in some cases, far more severe outcomes.Victimization should be criminal. This video is an eye-opener. Imagine if this was your son these people were talking about! This is a definite must viewing:

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Bibi Netanyahu - A Hawk Among Hawks

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Hawk

If there's two people who've never met a war they didn't like, it's Lindsay Graham and John McCain. Now you can add a third name to that list-- Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. He's the Israeli who's no Disraeli.

Tuesday, the Israeli Prime Minister flexed his wings, his sharpened talons and his polished beak and took to the podium to address the United Nations. What was this staunch leader's purpose? Peace? Trust? Unity?

None of the above. He came to stir the pot. He came to instigate potential war with Iran. If Netanyahu really cared about the safety of his country he would be rooting for US/Iran accords on nuclear weapons, not trying to start a war. Why are peaceful negotiations any less valid than winning by war?

Now is there reason for concern? You bet.

worried

HUFFPO:

Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that Israel's future is threatened by a "nuclear-armed" Iran seeking its destruction. He urged the international community to keep up biting sanctions against Iran, saying the greater the pressure, the greater the chance for diplomacy to succeed.

He also accused Iran of lamenting the human tragedy in Syria, but at the same time directly participating in "Syria's murder and massacre of innocents."

"Diplomacy to succeed." Now that's the kind of talk we all should have on our minds. Not war. Not nuclear, chemical or traditional warfare. And certainly not accusing a country of aiding in murder and massacre of innocents.

Talks, sanctions and emissaries is the way to proceed. A process that's been woefully lacking with the US and Iran -- over 30 years since their respective leaders have talked, until last week.

Now that direct interaction is beginning, one of the largest recipients of successful talks, Israel, is tossing fuel on the fire, not water. Through Netanyahu, they are stoking the fires and trying to instigate a war-like posture, not a peaceful one. That's just wrong.

It's fine to share your doubts on the credibility of the process and even the partners in the discussions, but not resulting in name calling. Unsubstantiated claims and rumors. Is Iraq to be trusted? That remains to be seen. But with a new regime, don't they deserve a chance to prove that they've changed before calling them names?

Netanyahu accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of masterminding Iran's strategy to advance the country's nuclear weapons program and said his goal was the same as his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing," Netanyahu said.

Bibi needs to tone down his rhetoric. There's no doubt Israel knows very well what's going on in the middle east. And they are in a very close proximity and reach of a nuclear weapon -- which, BTW, they have for themselves. So their input is valuable. But in needs to be tempered and privately discussed with the US. Not at the UN. Not unless you're going to bring names, dates and proof of verifiable complicity in war atrocities.. Rumors and innuendo aren't going to cut it. And waving a piece of paper around with dates and locations isn't enough. We learned that with Colin Powell. He had "proof" too. Show us the money.

When we were on the brink of a vote to go to war with Syria, we reached, with Russia's assistance, an accord on chemical weapons. That went to the UN and it was signed by the United Nations Security Council. Despite hawkish opposition in the US (McCain and Lindsay) the seemingly achievable and peaceful solution was reached. Will it succeed? We don't know yet. But we're not bombing and killing people just  to arrive at the same solution.

If we had listened to the hawks, we'd currently not only have a government shutdown, we'd be bombing Syria and as John McCain loved to sing, bombing Iran. Lindsay Graham had already announced a military action plan in formulation by him and other warmongers.

We have to give peace a chance. That doesn't mean surrender. But it also doesn't mean going to war to win a peace. It rarely happens that way.

Netanyahu should stay vigilant. But he also should watch his mouth and the inflammatory statements he's making. Despite what he may believe, he serves at the pleasure of the United States. If we didn't back Israel as we rightfully do, he very well could be under Palestinian rule in Jerusalem, and not the other way around.

Bibi's a good head of state but perhaps lacks the discipline, nuances or patience of a great leader. He needs to tone down the disruptive rhetoric and threats, stop shouting "...Or Israel will go it alone." They're not going anywhere alone. They walk with the US and we're proud of that alliance. They don't need to be undercutting what hopefully will be a peaceful solution to the potential nuclear weapons issues in Iran.

Chill, Bibi. If you have to shoot something, try clay pigeons, not people. As always, America's got your back.

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Jews Take Note: No More Snip The Tip

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Brit

As Paddy pointed out in her morning briefing yesterday, SUNDAY LINKS, there's a new train of thought pulling into the Stockholm Station that goes contrary to Jewish law. It's that circumcision should be outlawed. That will surely be another job killer. What will all of those Jewish religious Mohels do for work if they can't perform their job -- or worse yet, totally eliminate their jobs.

Don't know what a mohel is? A mohel is a Jewish man who performs the ritual of brit milah (covenant of circumcision) on a baby boy eight days after he is born. This tradition goes back thousands of years.

Now circumcision itself isn't reserved for Jewish boys. It's a medical practice that has been adopted for health reasons all over the world. In some countries it's more prominent, and in others, less. But it's certainly not witchcraft or voodoo. It's a safe, medical procedure. It' has it's fans and it's foes.

So perhaps, unless religiously performed, it could be a take-it or leave-it proposition, left to the parents.

Well, it seems the Swedes want to take the choice out of the parents hands totally.

According the Swedish Newspaper THE LOCAL:

crying child

"To circumcise a child without medical reasons and without the child's consent, runs contrary... to the child's human rights and the fundamental principles of medical ethics," they write in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Saturday.

The Swedish Society of Medicine (SLS), the Swedish Society of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet), the Swedish Pediatric Society (BLF) and the Swedish Association of Pediatric Surgeons (SLF), argues that Swedish law requires that the child's parents will be taken into account wherever possible.

Wow, that seems to be tossing the baby out with the foreskin. The child's considered too young to make the decision for himself as to whether or not to go under the knife, but taking his parents away to jail seems a bit harsh -- especially if the infant doesn't have a job or  other way to support himself. You snip the tip and do time in the hoosegow.

Do you think they have their own ward for circumcision offenders? Cell block Fore!

This motion to ban the religious and health procedure has reached serious levels and the argument may take it all the way to the U.N. according to the Swedish Pediatric Society (BLF).

"We consider circumcision of boys without the child's consent to be in contravention of article 12 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which gives children the right to have an opinion in matters which concern them."

The issue has become topical in Sweden in recent weeks following the submission of a motion to parliament from the Sweden Democrats calling for an outright ban on the procedure.

Well, I don't wish to argue with the great nation of Sweden, but if they're going to pick a dick measuring contest, this one seems to be a tough one. Removing parents rights to decide health care for their children and in some cases, (there must be some Jews in Sweden, Bjorn Cohen or Ingemar Shapiro) religious beliefs is violating thousands of years of tradition.

Not every tradition is a good thing. I'm not sure singing the national anthem before a ball game, or dancing the May pole dance on May 1st accomplishes a lot, but the root of circumcision has some pretty strong lineage.

the bible

You may want to know how this "barbaric" procedure came into being. It's basis is some old book called the bible.

In Genesis 17:10–12, God said to Abraham, “As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant…. Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days.”

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