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1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”
2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.
3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.
4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.
5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.
6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.
7. White terrorists are never called “white.” But other terrorists are given ethnic affiliations.
8. Nobody thinks white terrorists are typical of white people. But other terrorists are considered paragons of their societies.
9. White terrorists are alcoholics, addicts or mentally ill. Other terrorists are apparently clean-living and perfectly sane.
10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.
Stop eating shit: Food experts and groups representing millions of American consumers demand that federal nutrition guidelines adopt sustainability recommendations that put climate and health impacts ahead of industry interests.
As a federal government panel prepares to hear testimony and then finalize an updated version of influential nutritional guidelines on Tuesday, a coalition of more than 100 organizations and prominent food and health experts have joined together by calling for more sustainable recommendations than previous versions by replacing diets heavy with meat products with ones containing more plant-based foods.
Prepared by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), under the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal nutrition guidelines act as the government-approved blueprint for what constitutes a healthy diet. Updated and widely distributed every five years, the guidelines are used in nutrition education programs nationwide and dictate the meal plans for government institutions, including schools, prisons, military facilities and cafeterias for federal workers.
On Tuesday, as part of the campaigning efforts of the ‘My Plate, My Planet‘ coalition—which includes groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Center for Food Safety alongside notable food experts like Eric Schlosser, Michelle Simon, Chef Tom Colicchio and Frances Moore Lappe—the group took out full-page advertisements in major U.S. newspapers as a way to amplify its message.
“People and the planet will be healthier if there’s less meat and more plant-based foods on our plates. Our diets, particularly the meat-heavy American diet, have a huge environmental footprint that not only threatens biodiversity but also our ability to continue producing healthy, nutritious food today and in the future,” said Stephanie Feldstein, director of the population and sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now it’s up to secretaries Burwell and Vilsack to make sure the final guidelines are written to promote the health of Americans, not industry.”
“The importance of eating less meat and more plant-based foods for our own health and the health of the planet is backed up by the science,” said Feldstein. “It’s clear that sustainability is a growing concern among Americans, and the dietary guidelines risk irrelevance if they don’t address these issues.
As an added benefit, you’ll smell better.
So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because an overheated planet doesn’t just mean an extraordinarily early blooming of cherry trees and daffodils.
It means rising sea levels all along our coasts from melting glaciers inundating East and West coasts and all Gulf states. Atmospheric clashes of hot and cold air from now on will be spawning super-sized hurricanes and tornados for the Gulf and Midwest. Killer heat waves—not just 18 days of 90+ºF in New York City, but 76 days. As for the near-waterless Southwest and California, they’ll be exploding in historic, widespread, ferocious forest fires.
Add to this reality the creation of millions of “climate refugees” who will be little different from those living in camps and caves in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey—all fleeing to “safer” places. Recall the 1930s when thousands of dust-bowl refugees (“Oakies”) poured into California, the Pacific Northwest and Canada for food, water, housing, health care, schools—and especially jobs. Oregonians have grumbled for decades about “transplanted” Californians ignoring former Gov. Tom McCall’s admonition “Come visit, but don’t stay.” That may turn into law with other states barring passage to refugees at gunpoint as in Katrina, and in the nation’s worst flood in 1927.
Those with money will boost spiraling of rents, food prices, real estate values, and property taxes. Those out of luck will swell northern populations with millions of starving, ailing, homeless, and jobless refugees. Suffice it to say, no welcome mat will be unrolled for the tired, poor, huddled masses “yearning” even to breathe. Violence is a certainty.
Aside from this terrifying eventuality, who’ll be there to do rescue-and-relief work?
You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future. Fear me.
When the bees are gone, in four years we will be gone …
As environmentalists have long noted, bees and other pollinators are essential to the world’s food supply, farming system, and environment. However, both in Europe and the U.S., they have been threatened by industrial agriculture practices, insecticides, and climate change, which causes more heavy rainfalls, droughts, and heat waves that can harm bees and their access to food.
Bees are vital to food production but are in decline in many parts of the world. There are 1,965 wild bee species in Europe and 9.2 percent of them are at risk of extinction while another 5.2 percent are likely to be threatened in the near future, according to the international study, funded by the European Commission.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also said its study showed that 57 percent of all European bee species, which include types of bumblebees, honey bees and solitary bees, were so little known that it was impossible to judge whether they were at risk or not.
The implications of the study are quite troubling, said Karmenu Vella, head of the EU’s Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commission.
“Our quality of life—and our future—depends on the many services that nature provides for free,” Vella said. “Pollination is one of these services, so it is very worrying to learn that some of our top pollinators are at risk. If we don’t address the reasons behind this decline in wild bees, and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed.”
Environmental watchdogs such as Ariel Brunner, the head of EU policy at BirdLifeEurope, say the report should serve as “a wake up call to the ecological disaster that is unfolding in Europe’s countryside.”
Brunner told the Guardian, “It’s very clear that something is going horribly wrong with our agricultural practices which are the main driver of these declines, whether it is increased pesticide use, the destruction and conversion of grasslands, or the loss of natural vegetation and intensified farming methods.”
Echoing those remarks, Mark Brown of the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the BBC: “Bees need to be incorporated into how we think about and develop sustainable agriculture.”
To that end, earlier this week, a coalition of U.S.-based conservation and food-safety groups submitted a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to consider the highly toxic impacts of a new systemic insecticide, flupyradifurone, on native pollinators such as butterflies and bees. The new insecticide would be especially harmful to imperiled, solitary bees like the blue orchard bee, the groups noted.
That means you Greg Walden, trust-funder punk who’s never done a day’s work in your life and don’t even live in Oregon… you don’t represent Oregon.
The differences between the four budget proposals recently put forth by President Barack Obama, both Republican-majority houses of the U.S. Congress, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are “stark,” according to a new analysis—while some provisions in the GOP blueprints “completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”
The National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making the federal budget process transparent, released Competing Visions on Friday.
The report compares how each budget proposal responds (or not) to the stated policy priorities of the American people, on key issues including jobs, education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food assistance, and military spending, as well as proposed strategies for tax reform and deficit reduction.
“Our analysis shows that, in most spending categories, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the president would do the most to address the priorities voiced by the majority of Americans,” said Jasmine Tucker, research analyst for NPP and author of the report. “In some areas, the House and Senate budget proposals completely miss the mark in responding to what Americans say they want.”
For example, on the issue of taxing the wealthy, according to the NPP analysis:
- 68 percent of Americans think wealthy households don’t pay enough in taxes.
- The Obama budget proposal raises top capital gains tax rate to 28 percent and closes the “trust fund loophole” that allows heirs to avoid taxation, raising $208 billion over 10 years. Places limits on tax deductions for top income earners and implements the Buffett Rule ensuring a minimum tax rate for the wealthy. Places limits on tax deductions for top income earners and ends the “carried interest” loophole that benefits hedge fund managers to raise $17.6 billion over 10 years.
- The House budget calls for comprehensive tax reform that would lower tax rates for individuals and families. Closes some special interest tax loopholes but does not specify which ones. Eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax that sets a minimum tax for the wealthy.
- The Senate budget contains no proposed changes to the status quo.
- The CPC proposal raises tax rates for richest 2 percent (earning more than $250,000 per year) to Clinton-era levels, and taxes capital gains investment earnings at higher rates, yielding $1.4 trillion in additional revenue over 10 years. Places a cap on the value of itemized deductions that mostly benefit the wealthy (raising $566 billion over 10 years) and limits other tax deductions for top income earners.
Similar discrepancies exist on almost every issue.
As Tucker put it: “The differences between the four budget proposals are stark, and all signs indicate a difficult budget battle ahead as lawmakers try to resolve widely different approaches despite clear public opinion in favor of certain policies.”
While 70 percent of Americans oppose cuts to food stamps, the House and Senate budget plans would both cut the program.
While 67 percent say improving the education system in the U.S. should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, the House and Senate allocate no new funding for education—and in fact the House proposal “freezes the maximum Pell grant award at the same level for the next 10 years, provides financial aid to fewer families, and makes substantial cuts to domestic discretionary spending, including education.”
Overall, the House Republican budget would cut $5 trillion in government spending over the next decade, mostly out of programs that low- and moderate-income Americans need and depend on—and say they support. At the same time, it adds $400 million in defense spending—not in line with public opinion polls—and promises to lower tax rates for wealthy Americans and corporations.
The Senate version follows the same basic outlines.
At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) alsonoted the divergence between GOP policies and the priorities of the general public.
“[T]he rich get much richer, and the Republicans think they need more help,” he said. “The middle class and working families of this country become poorer, and the Republicans think we need to cut programs they desperately need. Frankly, those may be the priorities of some of my Republican colleagues in this room, but I do not believe that these are the priorities of the American people.”
According to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the ancient and diverse Mesoamerican civilization Teotihuacan collapsed not because of war, drought, or famine — but because of a “corporate mode” of governance that involved “ostentatious expressions of inequality and wealth.”
In the study, Linda Manzanilla of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico argued that the “contrast between the corporate organization at the base and top of Teotihuacan society and the exclusionary organization of the neighborhoods headed by the highly competitive intermediate elite introduced tensions that set the stage for Teotihuacan’s collapse.”
Teotihuacan was a powerful cultural center in Mesoamerica between the first and sixth centuries AD because of its diversity — two volcanic eruptions had forced the civilization to integrate substantial populations of refugees who brought with them new trades that bolstered the economy.
Manzanilla found that the majority of these refugees settled on the outskirts of Teotihuacan, with the more central areas being reserved for the native elites. However, as the former refugees became integrated into Teotihuacan society, they began to acquire wealth, becoming what Manzanilla called “an intermediate elite.”
It is the tensions between this “intermediate elite” and the corporate-minded native elite that led to the civilization’s downfall.
“The major ritual and administrative buildings along the Street of the Dead were set on fire in A.D. 550, and the sculptures inside palatial structures, such as Xalla, were shattered,” Manzanilla wrote.
“No traces of foreign invasion are visible at the site. We interpret this event as a revolt against the ruling elite, perhaps a response to a late intervention on the part of the state to control the entrepreneurial movements of the intermediate elite.”
So put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox/GOP_TV Kool-Aid and turn off the television, because a hundred years from now humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.
Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.
The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it.
“The idea of warm ocean water eroding the ice in West Antarctica, what we’re finding is that may well be applicable in East Antarctica as well,” says Martin Siegert, a co-author of the study and who is based at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.
You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future.
ClimateProgress: Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions flatlined globally in 2014, while the world economy grew. The International Energy Agency reports that this marks “the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.”
The IEA attributes this remarkable occurrence to “changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries.” As we reported last month, China cut its coal consumption 2.9 percent in 2014, the first drop this century. China is aggressively embracing energy efficiency, expanding clean energy, and shuttering the dirtiest power plants to meet its planned 2020 (or sooner) peak in coal use. As a result, Chinese CO2 emissions dropped 1 percent in 2014 even as their economygrew by 7.4 percent.
At the same time, the Financial Times points out “In the past five years, OECD countries’ economies grew nearly 7 percent while their emissions fell 4 percent, the IEA has found.” A big part of that is the United States, where fuel economy standards have reversed oil consumption trends — and renewable energy, efficiency, and natural gas have cut U.S. coal consumption.
All this “provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December,” explained IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, who was just named the next IEA Executive Director. “For the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth.”
The IEA notes that in 40 years of CO2 data collection, the three previous times emissions have flatlined or dropped from the prior year “all were associated with global economic weakness: the early 1980’s [due to the oil shock and U.S. recession]; 1992 and 2009.”
Remember the pre-Paris pledges we already have: China to peak in CO2 emission by 2030 (or, likely, sooner), EU to cut total emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and U.S. “to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.” That means there is a very real prospect for a game-changing global deal coming out of Paris this year.
Such a deal would not will “not get us onto the 2°C pathway,” as Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate official, and others have explained. But it would get us off the catastrophic 6°C path and lead to a permanent decoupling of GDP and CO2.
And that would give the next generation a realistic chance at coming close to a 2°C path in the 2020s and 2030s. That’s when stronger action will become more viable as it becomes harder to deny the painful reality of just how dire our situation is — and as the sped-up deployment of clean energy required for countries to meet Paris commitments make achieving 2°C even more super-cheap.
In a recent statement leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Kerry adopted the one of the principal slogans from the People’s Climate March in addressing the need to take action now on climate, while attacking the “immorality” of climate deniers.
Sec. of State John Kerry accused climate deniers of gambling with the well-being of future generations in a speech Thursday to the Atlantic Council.“It is just plain immoral,” Kerry said. “And it is a risk that no one should take. We need to face reality. There is no planet B.”
Put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid, turn off the television, pull your head out of your ass and answer me this, bitch: Where we going to go? This is the only planet we have. What part of that don’t you get?
I have often suggested a variation of Pascal’s Wager: If I am wrong, if the climate is not changing, the world not warming to in-habitability in my grand-childrens’ generation, I don’t lose a bloody damned thing. If you, the denier, are wrong, we all lose, our grand-children lose, the only world we know of we can live on. End of the road, way of the dinosaurs… extinction. You want to take that bet?
No one is going to rescue us. No messiah is going to float down out of the sky on a white horse with a thousand angles to carry the faithful off to paradise. Far the more likely thousands upon thousands of spacecraft, vast slaughter houses piloted by vaguely reptilian creatures not intent on our survival, not content to chronicle our extinction… but hungry lizards. We did, afterall, invite them to “Come, eat!”
You need to put down the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid, turn off the television and pull your head out of your ass. You are a clear and present danger to my grand-children’s future. Fear me.
Any minute now our Republican Congress is going to get something done.
The Hill reports this morning that another “tense standoff,” one similar to the chaos that erupted around Department of Homeland Security funding, is likely to unfold around the need to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run low on funding this spring. Business groups — and the Obama administration — are warning of disaster if funding for ongoing infrastructure projects evaporates, while conservative groups are insisting Republicans agree to devolve infrastructure back to the states. Yet John Boehner is already on record saying he wants to replenish infrastructure funding. He just hasn’t said how it should be paid for. Sound familiar?
In the case of infrastructure, it should be noted that the failure is bipartisan: Democrats have also been far too reluctant to support the obvious solution, i.e., a hike in the gas tax.
But then there’s the debt ceiling, where the culpability for any crisis will be a lot clearer: It will lie with Republicans who oppose a clean debt limit hike. The Treasury Department is warning that we are close to hitting the debt limit, and is asking Congress rather laughably to “address this mater without controversy or brinksmanship.” Mitch McConnell recently pledgedthat Republicans will not allow us to “default on the national debt, but in the very next breath, he added that he hoped a debt ceiling hike “might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
GOP leaders may fully intend to fund infrastructure and avoid default. But the battle over Homeland Security funding is a reminder: Even when they know exactly how these standoffs will end — with the stiff-arming of conservatives and the moving of must-pass legislation with the help of Democrats — they will postpone the inevitable for as long as possible, in an always-futile effort to persuade conservatives that they fought the good fight to the bitter end. Which suggests that the best case scenario is that ultimately, further crises will be avoided, but only after more bouts of messy, protracted, and (in the case of the debt ceiling in particular) destructive drama.
The 18% of America who voted to keep the GOP in charge of Congress should come to understand the purpose of The Second Amendment is to provide recourse to the tyrannies imposed upon the majority by a minority.