Archive for the ‘U.S.A.’ Category

Triumph of the Wrong

November 8, 2014

Paul Krugman. (photo: NYT)
Paul Krugman. (photo: NYT)

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

07 November 14

 

he race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.

I’ll talk in a bit about some of the reasons that may have happened. But it’s important, first, to point out that the midterm results are no reason to think better of the Republican position on major issues. I suspect that some pundits will shade their analysis to reflect the new balance of power — for example, by once again pretending that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are good-faith attempts to put America’s fiscal house in order, rather than exercises in deception and double-talk. But Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda.

So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

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Here are the worst places to live in the U.S., and climate change isn’t helping

November 7, 2014
HOUSE WARMING

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From wildfires and drought in the Southwest to hurricanes andfloods on the Eastern seaboard, sometimes it seems like there’s nowhere left to hide from climate change. Well, we can’t (read: don’t want to) tell you where you should go, but at least now we can name the 50 places to live in the U.S. where you are MOST at risk for natural disaster — including the sorts of disasters climate change is expected to throw at us in the coming years.

The Weather Channel, despite some unfortunate early ties to the climate-denying grandpa you never had, can do some pretty impressive stuff from time to time. For example, sifting though 18 years worth of data from every county or parish in the U.S. — all 3,111 of them — taking into account everything from flood and fire risk, to how much it costs to heat or cool a home, to how many weather-related property damages and deaths occur on average. And while none of this could have made for cheering subject matter, 50 places definitely came out on top of this Olympic podium of suck. Let’s take a fly-by tour of a few of them:

Orleans Parish, La.

Saving the worst for first, Orleans Parish, La., tops this terrible list of places, with a whopping $21.6 billion in damage, most of that supplied by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Even more significant are the hundreds of people (around 215) who died in their homes in New Orleans during the storm — a tragic combination of natural fury and poor disaster preparedness.

Before we move on, it’s worth mentioning that five of the counties on this list are in Louisiana, and a full eight are in Mississippi. We won’t go through all of those, because they are bummers of a similar sort, But know that when it comes to flood damage and struggling infrastructure, the low-lying lands of the lower 48 have the stage set for disaster

Ocean County, N.J.

Ocean County, New Jersey
Bossi

When Superstorm Sandy made landfall in Ocean County, in 2012, it brought desolation down on the Jersey Shore to the tune of $10 billion, and earned the area sixth place in this terrible race. While plenty of towns on the East Coast had it just as bad, including Monmouth County just to the north, Ocean County faces a second set of risks as well — these ones from land. Just inland from the hurricane-wrecked shore are the Pine Barrens, a bizarrely pristine forest with a moderate risk of wildfire. Between all that water and fire, you might want to just keep taking that turnpike outta Dodge.

Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska

Nikolai, Alaska
Wikimedia Commons

Coming in at No. 13 on the list of worst places to be, this large swath of Alaska is the most sparsely populated county in America, with about 6,000 people spread across an area the size of Germany. And no wonder so few people want to live there — 99.8 percent of the days in Yukon-Koyukuk are “heating degree days” with average temperatures below 65 degrees F. Couple the cost of keeping warm with risk of wildfires in the summers AND plenty of miscellaneous weather-related damage, and you get one hell of an inhospitable landscape.

Bright side, bright side … uh, if the polar vortex keeps wobbling around, maybe the Yukon-Koyukukans will catch a bit of a breakthis winter.

Marin County, Calif.

Marin County, California
John Kim

Marin County is one of the wealthiest places in the U.S. — with the fifth highest income-per-capita in 2009 — but it is also, trust us, one of the WORST places you could possibly live (the 17th worst place, to be specific). Not only will your view of the Bay be marred by a sprawling multimillion-dollar mansion, but you will also be living on a spiderweb of several major faults that pass under this region. Massive earthquakes in 1989 and 1906 caused billions of dollars of damage and cost hundreds of Marin residents’ lives, and they could do so again.

What’s more: All that ocean-front property and flood-prone picturesque valleys leave Marin vulnerable to all kinds of water risks, especially during rain-heavy winter storms.

Oh, yeah, and though wildfires haven’t plagued the county too badly in the past, the historic ongoing drought in California will almost certainly make this whole region a little hotter-under-the-collar.

Washoe County, Nev.

Reno, Nevada
Jay

There are lots of reasons not to live in Reno, but here’s another: Despite being smack-dab in the middle of a desert state, Washoe County is so chock-full of lakes and snow-fed rivers that it is expected to experience a disastrous flood every 50 years, a fact which earns it spot 22 out of 50 on this list. The last flood in 1997 inundated countless homes as well as the airport, and cost the district $500 million. If that was a 50-year flood, that means you still have 30 years and change to pick up roots and move somewhere a little less extreme. Then again, why wait — any place whose official motto is “The Biggest Little City In The World” doesn’t need climate change’s help to make it suck more.

—-

For the rest of the list, you’ll have to turn to the professionals. Let’s just hope when it comes to the terrible futures in store for the stars-and-stripes, these weather forecasters are as famously wrong as ever.

Source:
Worst Places to Own a Home, Weather Channel.

Meet your new fossil fuel-loving GOP senators

November 7, 2014

Grist

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The Democrats got wrecked on Tuesday, and now Republicans aretaking over the Senate. Some of the new Republican senators are outright climate deniers. Those who admit that climate change is happening often hide from the issue with nonsensical yammering about how global warming might be due to natural causes. Regardless of their views on the science, they are unanimous in their opposition to actually doing anything about it, and in their enthusiasm for exploiting America’s land and water for the benefit of the fossil fuel industries.

Below is a guide to the new Republican senators and their views on climate change, energy, and the environment. Note that we included Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is headed for a runoff against Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu that he is likely to win, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, who is ahead of Sen. Mark Begich in the vote count thus far, although at press time Begich has yet to concede.

For those who have served in Congress, we’ve provided their lifetime environmental voting scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). The score represents the percentage of time that they have taken the pro-environment vote on a bill. According to their grades, they’re a bunch of F students on the environment.

Tom Cotton
Gage Skidmore

Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

Currently serving in the House of Representatives, Cotton opposes EPA regulation of CO2, and supports the usual list of fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline. Yet you could call him a moderate by the standards of this group, because he sort of accepts climate science. Sort of. Here he is in a talk at the Clinton Library, wrapping an admission of anthropogenic global warming in a bogus right-wing talking point: “The simple fact is that for the last 16 years, the Earth’s temperature has not warmed. That’s the facts … Now, there’s no doubt that the temperature has risen over the past 150,200 years. It’s most likely that human activity has contributed to some of that … Why would we change the way we live our life on a fundamental, civilizational level based on computer models?” Of course, the actual fact is that there has been warming over the last 16 years, and this year is on pace to be the hottest in recorded history. And there are plenty of good reasons to change the way we live even if you don’t trust climate models, such as the fact that fossil fuels will eventually run out anyway, and extracting and burning them creates local air and water pollution.

Lifetime LCV Score: 7 percent

Steve Daines
House GOP

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Rep. Daines, talking to NPR’s Sally Mauk in 2012, offered some peculiar ideas about climate science: “I think the jury’s still out in my opinion, Sally, on that. I’ve seen some very good data that says there are other contributing factors there, certainly looking at the effect the sun has, and it’s the solar cycles versus CO2 and greenhouse gases.” Ah yes, “the solar cycles,” that’s just what the IPCC report blames for global warming too, right? No. As you would expect of someone who tries to concoct silly alternative explanations for the warming and extreme weather that is plainly occurring, Daines has voted the wrong way on every climate bill. That aside, you might expect someone from the Rocky Mountain west to at least oppose letting coal mining companies dump toxic waste in mountain streams when conducting mountaintop-removal mining. You’d be wrong. Daines has voted in favor of that. He also voted for an anti-environment farm bill that would endanger Montana’s forests and wildlife.

Lifetime LCV Score: 4 percent

Shelley Moore Capito
House GOP

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

Rep. Capito loves coal. One of her regular talking points on the campaign trail and in her ads this year was that President Obama has proposed a rule that would ban all new coal-burning plants and even burning coal in existing plants. Politifact rated the former claim “mostly false” and the latter claim just plain “false.” When asked in an October debate if she agrees with climate scientists that human activity is causing climate change, Capito said, “I don’t necessarily think the climate’s changing, no.” When questioned by reporters after the debate, she modified her position, with the brilliance and eloquence we’ve come to expect from Republicans discussing climate science: “Is the climate changing? Yes it’s changing, it changes all the time. We heard it raining out there. I’m sure humans are contributing to it.” Whatever she thinks we’re doing to contribute to climate change (rain dances?), Capito doesn’t believe we should do anything to stop it. She has voted repeatedly against calculating the social cost of carbon, funding for renewable energy, and allowing the federal government to regulate methane emissions from fracking.

Lifetime LCV Score: 21 percent

Mike Rounds
Roundsforsenate.com

Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Former Gov. Rounds accepts the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change, although he downplays it with gibberish. “There are a number of different causes that we recognize, and the scientists recognize, are the cause of global warming,” said Rounds in 2006. It’s unclear what these mysterious “other causes” are. Although Rounds isn’t totally anti-science, he is ardently anti-environment. He has called for eliminating the EPA, and as governor, he vetoed tax credits for wind energy facilities. He describes the EPA’s proposed rules on CO2 emissions from power plants as a “carbon tax,” which is completely inaccurate. You can guess, though, where he would stand on an actual carbon tax.

Cory Gardner
ACU Conservative

Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

Rep. Gardner did a good job pretending to be a moderate on energy in his successful Senate election, cutting an ad touting his fondness for wind power. But his actual positions show that he is no friend of the environment. He did vote for tax credits for clean energy in 2012, but he turned around and voted against them in 2013. The rest of his record follows the standard Republican playbook. He voted to direct federal land managers to prioritize oil drilling over hunting, fishing, and hiking. He opposes EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and wants to remove EPA authority to set more rigorous standards for regulating coal ash. Asked in a Senate campaign debate to answer yes or no as to whether “humans are contributing significantly to climate change,” he refused. “I don’t think you can say yes or no.” Later he added that he thinks the climate is changing, but human activity is less responsible than the news media would have you think.

Lifetime LCV Score: 9 percent.

Joni Ernst
IowaPolitics.com

Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)

Ernst is insane on environmental issues, even by the standards of the Republican Party. She subscribes to the discredited far-right conspiracy theory that “Agenda 21,” a non-binding U.N. resolution encouraging conservation of natural resources, is a scheme to take control of American towns and turn them into high-rise hellholes. As for federal environmental protection, she’s against that too, saying, “Let’s shut down the EPA. The state knows best how to protect resources.” When asked about climate change she takes the standard, cowardly Republican “I”m not a scientist” dodge: “I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not … I do believe in protecting our environment, but without the job-killing regulations that are coming out of the [EPA].” For Ernst, this qualifies as moderation.

Bill Cassidy
Gage Skidmore

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Like Cotton, Rep. Cassidy deploys bogus climate science-denying talking points. In an October debate, he claimed that “global temperatures have not risen in 15 years.” Even the conservativeWashington Examiner was moved to flatly observe, “That’s not true. Data show that the rate of warming has slowed during that period but temperatures are still rising year-over-year.” In 2013, Cassidy voted to expand logging on public lands, to defund the federal government’s policy of not buying unconventional fossil fuels, and to expand offshore drilling. That last one is especially ironic, since Cassidy will likely represent the state most devastated by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Lifetime LCV score: 11 percent

David Perdue
Perduesenate.com

David Perdue (R-Ga.)

Perdue, a former corporate executive, is so retrograde on energy policy that he is to the right of a utility company, Alliant Energy Corporation, whose board he used to sit on. Alliantsupported cap-and-trade while Perdue was on the board, but now he is having none of it. Perdue’s campaign was so extreme in its anti-environmentalism that it attacked his opponent, Michelle Nunn, for being endorsed by the nonpartisan LCV, complaining in a statement that “[Nunn’s] jobs plan refuses to address how burdensome regulations on the coal industry will raise energy prices and destroy jobs. Her website says she wants to ‘act now’ on climate change … Nunn claims to support the Keystone Pipeline, but if she seriously supports moving forward with it, how did she secure the support from this far-left group?” It’s fairly obvious how Nunn got LCV’s endorsement despite supporting Keystone: The group thought Perdue would be much worse.

Dan Sullivan
YouTube

Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

Dan Sullivan, served from 2010 to 2013 as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, an excellent vantage point from which to observe climate change. But while he accepted climate science when he worked in the Bush State Department back in 2008, he now tries to confuse the issue. He still admits that the climate is changing and that human activity is contributing, but earlier this year he made the following bizarre statement: “Despite what many climate change alarmists want us to believe, there is no general consensus on pinpointing the sole cause of global temperature trends.” Unless Sullivan thinks 97 percent unanimity among scientists isn’t a general consensus, that’s a falsehood. Presumably, his argument hinges on the word “sole,” contending that there may be natural causes as well. But he is obviously raising this red herring to confuse voters, not to be scientifically precise. Sullivan opposes government regulation of greenhouse gases and in Alaska, he has prioritized exploiting natural resources over concerns for the environment or indigenous people.

Thom Tillis
North Carolina National Guard

Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

As speaker of the North Carolina state legislature, Tillis promoted a far-right agenda, including on environment and energy issues. In a rare setback, he was unable to repeal the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard. He did find ways to undermine clean fuel promotion by cutting more than $2 million from North Carolina’s Biofuels Center, a nonprofit that closed as a result. Tillis also pushed through a bill that, instead of requiring full disclosure of fracking chemicals, allows companies to claim chemical combinations as trade secrets and disclose them only to the state geologist. Tillis opposes EPA climate regulations and citesdiscredited “research” from the right-wing Heritage Foundation to overstate the costs of such regs to North Carolina’s economy.

More by Ben Adler

“The United States is not a true democracy”

November 7, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/7/2014 at 10:45:13

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“The United States is not a true democracy” Says who? Former Congressman Ron Paul. “We have a monopoly of ideas which are controlled by leaders of the two parties” They call it a two party system, it’s really a one philosophy.” What is that philosophy one may ask? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First things first. Is Ron Paul right? If he is, what of the “philosophy”?

Commenting on the mid-term election, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls the American electoral politics a “charade of democracy”. (1) In Atlanta, in July 2013, Jimmy Carter declared: “America has no functioning democracy at this moment”. (2) In 2006, “Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican-appointed judge on the Supreme Court, said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party’s right-wingers continue to attack the judiciary.” (3) Senator Frank Church — who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — said in 1975: “The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left”” (4)(5) If the statements do not prove Ron Paul right they do demonstrate the elite’s skepticism vis–vis the American democracy. Only the innocent, the naïve or the spin doctors would disagree. But, what’s the philosophy of that one-party system?

It rests on two credos: “the axis of evil” and “starving the beast”, i.e. world hegemony and unfettered capitalism. They are other subjects, such as immigration, health, energy, etc., but the credos worked their way through the political spectrum over time, and dominate the political discourse today. The Project for a New American Century is the foundation of the hegemonic philosophy. Destroying Iraq, Libya and Syria, bringing Ukraine into NATO, pivoting the US navy to Asia are meant to ensure world domination through Middle East oil access control, Russia’s encirclement and China’s isolation. Unfettered capitalism is a product of Wall Street. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 which replaced the Glass-Steagall Act of 1993, is the epitome of an economy operated for profit only. In a market economy, the state is an adjunct whose role is limited to basic functions: defense, justice, police, education, etc. The Tea Party is often said to be the proponent of this philosophy. Its members are “useful idiots”. The Party is a front for the 1% — the wealthiest Americans.

The question is: “are these credos viable?” The answer is no. The United States’ hegemonic policy is restless, dangerous and doomed to fail. Incredible as it may seem, some neoconservatives believe a nuclear first strike against Russia could be successful! The ongoing attempt to remove Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence is senseless, tantamount to Russia or China trying to achieve the same with Canada or Mexico. The United States almost went to nuclear war following Khrushchev’s decision to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. Why is it OK for the United States to install anti-ballistic missiles in Poland but not for Russia in Cuba? Doesn’t it occur to the Washington intelligentsia that Russia may be tempted to launch a nuclear attack on the United States if the pressure on its borders becomes too high? Washington D.C. which often conceives of itself as a modern day Rome — witness the numerous extra-territorial laws inflicted on other nations — would do well to remember that Rome was unable to conquer Germany or Persia and had to leave Britain. World hegemony is a pipedream.

So is an unregulated market economy. The Great Recession which follows the subprime crisis due to the banks’ reckless behavior is testimony to this evidence. The recovery is artificial and fragile. Unemployment is understated as is inflation, boosting the economic growth rate in the process. Shale oil and gas production are providing a welcome, if temporary, lift to the economy at an unquantified but real ecological cost. Median income hasn’t budged in almost a quarter of a century. (6) Drawing on their savings help Americans maintain their life style. The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy had the effect of boosting financial markets with questionable long term benefits. In its last October meeting, the bank decided to end the policy without knowing what the effect will be. The shadow banking — an unregulated banking sector — continues to grow and to be a threat to the stability of the economy. Social security disbursements are growing at an exponential rate from 2.5% in 1962 to 10% this year and 12% in 2024. But fiscal revenues remain fixed at 18% of GDP over the same period, raising question as to the increasingly large budget deficit, expected to reach 4% in 2024. That year, the Federal debt will equal 80% of GDP, up from 42% in 1962. This development is prompting Tea Party members to demand spending cuts, not realizing that they will be the first to suffer since they are the primary beneficiaries of the social programs. In their minds, the main recipients are the blacks.

Every country, whatever its constitution or political system, is ruled by a small group of individuals. In Britain, the ruling elite is the aristocracy and the City. In France, it’s the Grandes ecoles’ graduates together with the administrative corps and the unions. In the United States, it’s Wall Street, the military industrial complex, the oil industry, AIPAC, and a few other lobbies.(7)

Whoever is in the White House doesn’t matter much. As Ron Paul said, the overall philosophy remains the same. Unfortunately, the “philosophy”, on both the international and domestic fronts, is wrong, suicidal even. The United States cannot rule the world nor can an unlegislated market economy be viable. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Ron Paul, Ray McGovern, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, and many others know that and fight back to restore the American democracy in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, so that the United States is again a true democracy.

(1) The Real News Network, November 5, 2014.

(2) NSA-Affäre: Ex-Präsident Carter verdammt US-Schnuffelei,Von Gregor Peter Schmitz, Atlanta — Der Spiegel — July 17, 2013

(3) Former top judge says US risks edging near to dictatorship, Julian Borger, The Guardian, March 13, 2006.

(4) 2 U.S. Supreme Court Justices Warn of Dictatorship. Sept. 18, 2012, Washington’s Blog.

(5) Former CIA analyst turned anti-war activist, Ray McGovern, was arrested for trying to enter a public event with former CIA director David Petraeus as the guest speaker. Ray had bought a ticket under an assumed name. Yet, as he arrived to the 92nd street Y, he was told: “Ray, you’re not welcome here”. He was handcuffed, hauled to a local precinct and charged with resisting arrest. He spent the night on a stainless steel cot. RT November 1, 2014. (6) Inequality is a choice. Joseph Stiglitz. The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2013.(7) In the November mid-term election, four billion dollars were spent in advertising, one quarter coming from large corporate donors. This follows the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision to reject corporate spending limits in candidate elections (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission).

 

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Noam Chomsky at United Nations: It Would Be Nice if the United States Lived up to International Law

October 24, 2014

noam chomsky

World-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky was asked what the single most important action the US can take on the issue of Israel and Palestine. He answered that the US can live up to its own laws and not send any military units to a place where there are consistent human rights violations.

After world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky gave a major address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Amy Goodman interviewed the world-renowned linguist and dissident before an audience of 800 people. Chomsky spoke at an event sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. “One important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask,” Chomsky said.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org,The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return toMIT professor Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. Last week, he spoke before over 800 people in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly, before ambassadors and the public alike, on the issue of Israel and Palestine. After his speech, I conducted a public interview with Professor Chomsky.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most—the single most important action the United States can take? And what about its role over the years? What is its interest here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, one important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course, it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask, but live up to its own laws. And there are several. And here, incidentally, I have in mind advice to activists also, who I think ought to be organizing and educating in this direction. There are two crucial cases.

One of them is what’s called the Leahy Law. Patrick Leahy, Senator Leahy, introduced legislation called the Leahy Law, which bars sending weapons to any military units which are involved in consistent human rights violations. There isn’t the slightest doubt that the Israeli army is involved in massive human rights violations, which means that all dispatch of U.S. arms to Israel is in violation of U.S. law. I think that’s significant. The U.S. should be called upon by its own citizens to—and by others, to adhere to U.S. law, which also happens to conform to international law in this case, as Amnesty International, for example, for years has been calling for an arms embargo against Israel for this reason. These are all steps that can be taken.

The second is the tax-exempt status that is given to organizations in the United States which are directly involved in the occupation and in significant attacks on human and civil rights within Israel itself, like the Jewish National Fund. Take a look at its charter with the state of Israel, which commits it to acting for the benefit of people of Jewish race, religion and origin within Israel. One of the consequences of that is that by a complex array of laws and administrative practices, the fund pretty much administers about 90 percent of the land of the country, with real consequences for who can live places. They get tax-exempt status also for their activities in the West Bank, which are strictly criminal. I think that’s also straight in violation of U.S. law. Now, those are important things.

And I think the U.S. should be pressured, internationally and domestically, to abandon its virtually unique role—unilateral role in blocking a political settlement for the past 40 years, ever since the first veto in January 1976. That should be a major issue in the media, in convocations like this, in the United Nations, in domestic politics, in government politics and so on.

AMY GOODMAN: The role of the media, can you talk about that, and particularly in the United States? And do you think that the opinion in the United States, public opinion, is shifting on this issue?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the role of the—the media are somewhat shifting from uniform support for virtually everything that Israel does to—and, of course, silence about the U.S. role—that’s not just in the case of Israel, that’s innumerable other cases, as well—but is slowly shifting. But nevertheless, about, say, Operation Protective Edge, one can read in news reporting, news reporting in The New York Times, major journal, a criticism of Hamas’s assault on Israel during Protective Edge. Hamas’s assault on Israel—not exactly what happened, but that’s what people are reading, and that’s the way it’s depicted. Israel is—over and over it’s pointed out, “Look, poor Israel is under attack. It has the right of self-defense.” Everyone agrees to that. Actually, I agree, too. Everyone has a right of self-defense. But that’s not the question. The question is: Do you have a right of self-defense by force, by violence? The answer is no for anyone, whether it’s an individual or state, unless you have exhausted peaceful means. If you won’t even permit peaceful means, which is the case here, then you have no right of self-defense by violence. But try to find a word about that in the media. All you find is “self-defense.” When President Obama rarely says anything about what’s happening, it’s usually, “If my daughters were being attacked by rockets, I would do anything to stop it.” He’s referring not to the hundreds of Palestinian children who are being killed and slaughtered, but to the children in the Israeli town of Sderot, which is under attack by Qassam missiles. And remember that Israel knows exactly how to stop those missiles: namely, live up to a ceasefire for the first time, and then they would stop, as in the past, even when Israel didn’t live up to a ceasefire.

That framework—and, of course, the rest of the framework is the United States as an honest broker trying hard to bring the two recalcitrant sides together, doing its best in this noble endeavor—has nothing to do with the case. The U.S. is, as some of the U.S. negotiators have occasionally acknowledged, Israel’s lawyer. If there were serious negotiations going on, they would be led by some neutral party, maybe Brazil, which has some international respect, and they would bring together the two sides—on the one side, Israel and the United States; on the other side, the Palestinians. Now, those would be possible realistic negotiations. But the chances of anyone in the media either—I won’t even say pointing it out, even thinking about it, is minuscule. The indoctrination is so deep that really elementary facts like these—and they are elementary—are almost incomprehensible.

But to get back to your—the last point you mentioned, it’s very important. Opinion in the United States is shifting, not as fast as in most of the world, not as fast as in Europe. It’s not reaching the point where you could get a vote in Congress anything like the British Parliament a couple days ago, but it is changing, mostly among younger people, and changing substantially. I’ll just illustrate with personal experience; Amy has the same experience. Until pretty recently, when I gave talks on these topics, as I’ve been doing for 40 years, I literally had to have police protection, even at my own university, MIT. Police would insist on walking me back to my car because of threats they had picked up. Meetings were broken up, and so on. That’s all gone. Just a couple of days ago I had a talk on these topics at MIT. Meeting wasn’t broken up. No police protection. Maybe 500 or 600 students were there, all enthusiastic, engaged, committed, concerned, wanting to do something about it. That’s happening all over the country. All over the country, Palestinian solidarity is one of the biggest issues on campus—enormous change in the last few years.

That’s the way things tend to change. It often starts with younger people. Gradually it gets to the rest of the population. Efforts of the kind I mentioned, say, trying to get the United States government to live up to its own laws, those could be undertaken on a substantial scale, domestically and with support from international institutions. And that could lead to further changes. I think that the—for example, the two things that I mentioned would have a considerable appeal to much of the American public. Why should they be funding military units that are carrying out massive human rights violations? Why should they be permitting tax exemption? Meaning we pay for it—that’s what a tax exemption means. Why should we be paying, compelled to pay, for violations of fundamental human rights in another country, and even in occupied territories, where it’s criminal? I think that can appeal to the American population and can lead to the kinds of changes we’ve seen in other cases.

AMY GOODMAN: Final question, before we open it up to each of you: Your thoughts on the BDS movement, the boycott, divest, sanctions movement?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, BDS is a set of tactics, right? These are tactics that you employ when you think they’re going to be effective and in ways that you think will be effective. Tactics are not principles. They’re not actions that you undertake no matter what because you think they’re right. Tactics are undertaken, if you’re serious, because you think they’re going to help the victims. That’s how you adjust your tactics, not because I think they’re right in principle, but because I think they will be beneficial. That ought to be second nature to activists.

Also second nature should be a crucial distinction between proposing and advocating. I can propose now that we should all live in peace and love each other. I just proposed it. That’s not a serious proposal. It becomes a serious proposal when it becomes advocacy. It is given—I sketch out a path for getting from here to there. Then it becomes serious. Otherwise, it’s empty words. That’s crucial and related to this.

Well, when you take a look at the BDS movement, which is separate, incidentally, fromBDS tactics—let me make that clear. So, when the European Union issued its directive or when the—that I mentioned, or when, say, the Gates Foundation withdraws investment in security operations that are being carried out, not only in the Occupied Territories, but elsewhere, that’s very important. But that’s not the BDS movement. That’s BDS tactics, actually, BD tactics, boycott, divestment tactics. That’s important. The BDS movement itself has been an impetus to these developments, and in many ways a positive one, but I think it has failed and should reflect on its, so far, unwillingness to face what are crucial questions for activists: What’s going to help the victims, and what’s going to harm them? What is a proposal, and what is real advocacy? You have to think that through, and it hasn’t been sufficiently done.

So, if you take a look at the principles of the BDS movement, there are three. They vary slightly in wording, but basically three. One is, actions should be directed against the occupation. That has been extremely successful, in many ways, and it makes sense. It also helps educate the Western populations who are being appealed to to participate, enables—it’s an opening to discuss, investigate and organize about the participation in the occupation. That’s very successful.

A second principle is that BDS actions should be continued until Israel allows the refugees to return. That has had no success, and to the extent that it’s been tried, it’s been negative. It just leads to a backlash. No basis has been laid for it among the population. It is simply interpreted as saying, “Oh, you want to destroy the state of Israel. We’re not going to destroy a state.” You cannot undertake actions which you think are principled when in the real world they are going to have a harmful effect on the victims.

There’s a third category having to do with civil rights within Israel, and there are things that could be done here. One of the ones I mentioned, in fact—the tax-free status for U.S. organizations that are engaged in civil rights and human rights violations. And remember, a tax exemption means I pay for it. That’s what a tax exemption is. Well, that’s an action that could be undertaken. Others that have been undertaken have had backlashes which are harmful. And I won’t run through the record, but these are the kinds of questions that always have to be asked when you’re involved in serious activisms, if you care about the victims, not just feeling good, but caring about the victims. That’s critically important.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, world-renowned linguist, dissident, Noam Chomsky, speaking last Tuesday in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly before 800 people in an event hosted by the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. If you’d like a copy of today’s show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org.

We wish a very happy birthday to our video producer, Robby Karran. For all our New York viewers,Democracy Now! co-host Juan González will be one of the journalists questioning the New York gubernatorial candidates in tonight’s debate. The debate will be broadcast live at 8:00 p.m. onPBSstations across New York. I’ll be speaking in Vienna, Austria, Friday at an event hosted by ORF, Austria’s public broadcaster, then on Saturday speaking at the Elevate Festival in Graz, Austria. Again, you can go to democracynow.org for more details.

The Anatomy of the Deep State

October 22, 2014
On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 7:24 PM, John Steiner/ Margo King <steiner_king@earthlink.net> wrote:

 

Would be most interested in how you think this article (and its accuracy) relates to our cross spectrum work and the possible arising of new leadership!
John
February 21, 2014
by Mike Lofgren
 
Selections and worth the whole read!
 
During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system…
 
…Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose…
 
…That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.
 
…The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction…
 
..The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion…
 
..We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner…

 

Ebola: Genetically Modified Organism developed in US Biowarfare Laboratories in Africa.

October 21, 2014
Ebola-USA

 As I read this notice from ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the US National Institutes of Health, the US Government and Pharmaceutical corporations have been conducting ebola tests on humans. http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02041715

This is official confirmation of Dr. Boyle and Dr. Broderick’s reports that the US government has conducted ebola experiments. Perhaps the vaccine was not effective, and those on whom the experiment was conducted came down with ebola and perhaps also employees in the US bio-warfare laboratories located in Africa where the experiment was conducted. 

It appears that the test consists of giving an ebola vaccine and then exposing the unaware person to ebola, apparently an engineered version for bio-warfare. Whatever the tests are, it is clear that Boyle and Broderick in their articles below are correct that experimentation with ebola by the US government is underway.

Two Scientists Say Ebola Originated In US Bio-warfare Lab

Experts have brought to the public’s attention that ebola is a genetically modified organism developed in US biowarfare laboratories in Africa.

In the two articles below reproduced from Tom Feeley’s Information Clearing House (a good site worthy of your support), Dr. Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois and
Dr. Cyril Broderick of the University of Liberia and the University of Delaware provide their fact-based assessments. Dr. Boyle drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the US implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

For speaking out, both Boyle and Broderick will be viciously attacked by the US print and TV media. Remember the case of Gary Webb who exposed the CIA’s drug-running that supported the Contras in Nicaragua. The cocaine that launched the War on Drugs was brought in by the CIA. http://www.opednews.com/articles/WPost-s-Slimy-Assault-on-G-by-Robert-Parry-CIA_Cocaine_Gary-Webb_Journalism-141018-836.html

These are the URLs for the articles by Dr. Boyle and Dr. Broderick:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40012.htm

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40013.htm

See also:  http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/10/no_author/its-the-worse-strain-of-ebola-ever/

 

One-Third of Americans at or Near Poverty

October 21, 2014

Poverty and inequality are on the rise. (photo: file)
Poverty and inequality are on the rise. (photo: file)

ALSO SEE: UK’s Poverty Commission Warns Britain
May Be Permanently Divided Between Rich and Poor

ALSO SEE: 21 Cities Already Restrict Sharing
Food With Homeless, 10 More Cities Planning to Do So

By Matt Bruenig, Demos

21 October 14

 

ome people think of poor people as a small, especially degenerate class of people. I and others have tried to push back against this understanding by pointing out, among other things, that 60% of poor people are children, elderly, disabled, or students, that poverty rates differ significantly across the life cycle (with the oldest, non-elderly workers having about half the poverty rate of the youngest), and that the ranks of the poor are much more fluid than many imagine. In this post, I raise another issue with this understanding, which is that it puts too much weight on the poverty line and ignores the number of people who are near poverty but not in it.

The poverty line, which is defined in dollar terms, is a useful construct, but also a limited one. A person who is $1 below the poverty line is not that much worse off than a person who is $1 above it, $2 above it, or $3 above it. The poverty line and the poverty rate that goes along with it makes it easy for people to conceptualize the poor as a standalone bucket of people. But, in fact, many of the poor are essentially indistinguishable from a much larger mass of people who do not find themselves in the poverty bucket.

For example, the supplemental poverty data that was released last week showed 15.5% of people (49 million people in total) to be below the poverty line. This is a small enough group that you could maybe cast them off as especially bad or inferior or whatever. But sitting just above the poverty line is another 53 million people who aren’t in poverty but are near it. That is to say, 32.5% of Americans are below 150% of the poverty line, a total of 102 million people (the same figure under the official poverty metric is 24.3%). If the poor are an especially bad underclass of people, who are the 53 million people who are in their midsts but not quite poor? Is it really the case that a rotating class of one in three Americans is full of mainly garbage human beings? It seems unlikely.

The 150% of the poverty line figure is also, in a sense, arbitrary. It also involves picking some income line and putting everyone beneath it in a bucket. But the income distribution, especially at the bottom, moves up at a fairly gradual (as opposed to punctuated) clip. When you look at the entire income distribution rather than picking lines, there is never any especially large gap that demarcates the poor from the rest. It’s a sliding scale all the way up. So where on that sliding scale would you say the bad people end and the good people begin? Which are the people who need Paul Ryan’s life coaches and which are the people who don’t?

(Note: In this graph, 100 refers to the the poverty line, 150 refers to 150% of the poverty line and so on. As you can see, nearly half of Americans are within 200% of the poverty line under the supplemental poverty measure.)

 

Reality of National Security State Trumps ‘Delusions’ of U.S. Democracy

October 21, 2014
Published on
by

In the halls of U.S. government, “policy in the national security realm is made by the concealed institutions,” political scientist argues in new book

On the morning of President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, America was ready for a change. Tufts political scientist Michael Glennon explains why that change never came. (Photo: Eddie Codel/flickr/cc)

“I think the American people are deluded.”

So says Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon, whose new book, National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press), describes a powerful bureaucratic network that’s really pulling the strings on key aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

The ‘double government’ explains why the Obama version of national security is virtually indistinguishable from the one he inherited from President George W. Bush.

“I think the American people are deluded… that the institutions that provide the public face actually set American national security policy. They believe that when they vote for a president or member of Congress or succeed in bringing a case before the courts, that policy is going to change,” Glennon told the Boston Globe in an interview published Sunday. “Now, there are many counter-examples in which these branches do affect policy… But the larger picture is still true—policy by and large in the national security realm is made by the concealed institutions.”

Glennon argues that because managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies operate largely outside the institutions meant to check or constrain them—the executive branch, the courts, Congress—national security policy changes very little from one administration to the next.

This explains, he says, why the Obama version of national security is virtually indistinguishable from the one he inherited from President George W. Bush. It’s also why Guantanamo is still open; why whistleblowers are being prosecuted more; why NSA surveillance has expanded; why drone strikes have increased.

“I was curious why a president such as Barack Obama would embrace the very same national security and counterterrorism policies that he campaigned eloquently against,” Glennon said. Drawing on his own personal experiences as former legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as conversations with dozens of individuals in U.S. military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies and elected officials, Glennon drew the following conclusion: “National security policy actually bubbles up from within the bureaucracy. Many of the more controversial policies, from the mining of Nicaragua’s harbors to the NSA surveillance program, originated within the bureaucracy.”

To dismantle this so-called “double government”—a phrase coined by British journalist and businessman Walter Bagehot to describe the British government in the 1860s—will be a challenge, Glennon admits. After all, “There is very little profit to be had in learning about, and being active about, problems that you can’t affect, policies that you can’t change.”

But he is not hopeless. “The ultimate problem is the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people. And indifference to the threat that is emerging from these concealed institutions. That is where the energy for reform has to come from: the American people,” he said. “The people have to take the bull by the horns.”

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Is The US Government The Master Criminal Of Our Time?

October 21, 2014
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Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts

From youtube.com/watch?v=_8JWUDqEeNc: Ebola, Complete Chaos
Ebola, Complete Chaos
(image by YouTube)

UPDATE: As I read this notice from ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the US National Institutes of Health, the US Government and Pharmaceutical corporations have beenconducting ebola tests on humans.

This is official confirmation of Dr. Boyle and Dr. Broderick’s reports that the US government has conducted ebola experiments. Perhaps the vaccine was not effective, and those on whom the experiment was conducted came down with ebola and perhaps also employees in the US bio-warfare laboratories located in Africa where the experiment was conducted.

It appears that the test consists of giving an ebola vaccine and then exposing the unaware person to ebola, apparently an engineered version for bio-warfare. Whatever the tests are, it is clear that Boyle and Broderick in their articles below are correct that experimentation with ebola by the US government is underway.

Two Scientists Say Ebola Originated In US Bio-warfare Lab

Experts have brought to the public’s attention that ebola is a genetically modified organism developed in US biowarfare laboratories in Africa.

In the two articles below reproduced from Tom Feeley’s Information Clearing House (a good site worthy of your support), Dr. Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois and Dr. Cyril Broderick of the University of Liberia and the University of Delaware provide their fact-based assessments. Dr. Boyle drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the US implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

For speaking out, both Boyle and Broderick will be viciously attacked by the US print and TV media. Remember the case of Gary Webb who exposed the CIA’s drug-running that supported the Contras in Nicaragua. The cocaine that launched the War on Drugs was brought in by the CIA.

These are the URLs for the articles by Dr. Boyle and Dr. Broderick.

See this also.

US Bio-warfare Laboratories in West Africa Are The Origins Of The Ebola Epidemic

Professor Francis A. Boyle interviewed by Aggeliki Dimopoulou

Could Ebola Have Escaped From US Bio-warfare Labs? American law professor Francis A. Boyle, answers questions for tvxs.gr and reveals that USA has been using West Africa as an offshore to circumvent the Convention on Biological Weapons and do bio-warfare work.

Is Ebola just a result of health crisis in Africa — because of the large gaps in personnel, equipment and medicines — as some experts suggest?”

“That isn’t true at all. This is just propaganda being put out by everyone. It seems to me, that what we are dealing with here is a biological warfare work that was conducted at the bio-warfare laboratories set up by the USA on the west coast of Africa. And if you look at a map produced by the Center of Disease Control you can see where these laboratories are located. And they are across the heart of the Ebola epidemic, at the west coast of Africa. So, I think these laboratories, one or more of them, are the origins of the Ebola epidemic.”

US government agencies are supposed to do defensive biological warfare research in these labs. Is there any information about what are they working on?

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http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book,  How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.

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