Friday, January 22, 2021

Science post: We need action on climate change now


As Joni Mitchell sings in "Down To You," "bad news comes knocking at your garden gate."  Today's bad news?  PHYS.ORG reports:

Scientists from the CNRS, CNES, IRD, Sorbonne Universit√©, l'Universit√© Toulouse III—Paul Sabatier and their Australian colleagues, with the support of the IPEV, have provided a comprehensive analysis on the evolution of Southern Ocean temperatures over the last 25 years.

The research team has concluded that the slight cooling observed at the surface hides a rapid and marked warming of the waters, to a depth of up to 800 meters.

The study points to major changes around the where temperatures are increasing by 0.04°C per decade, which could have serious consequences for Antarctic ice. Warm water is also rising rapidly to the surface, at a rate of 39 meters per decade, i.e. between three and ten times more than previously estimated.


This is not good news.  This is really, really bad news. BUZZ reminds:

Antarctica’s huge white surface of ice acts as a barrier to heat, reflecting sunlight and as a result helps regulate the earth’s temperature.

This makes Antarctica a vital piece in keeping our global temperature steady. An imbalance in temperature at the South pole could have catastrophic effects.


We need action.  To survive, we need action.  Yet we went for the least environmentally aware candidate in the Democratic Party primary.  As C.I. noted,   "He's not going to seriously address the environment.  Possibly due to having one foot, an ankle, a calf, a knee and a huge portion of his upper leg already in the grave, Joe doesn't feel that climate change is an urgent issue." 

Joe Biden.  He might as well be a climate denier for as little as he promises to do to address climate change.  We need to address it or we won't have a planet to live on.  We get that, most of us now get that.  GRIST explains:

A survey conducted in December by Yale and George Mason University researchers suggests that support for climate-friendly policies might be more mainstream than we think. The survey of roughly 1,000 registered voters from across the political spectrum found that a majority of participants — 53 percent — think global warming should be a “high” or “very high” priority for the Biden administration, and 66 percent feel the same about developing clean energy sources.

The recent study also showed broad support from both Democrats and Republicans for eight climate-friendly energy policies. The two most popular, with 82 percent of voters supporting them, were funding for renewable energy research and tax rebates for solar panels and energy-efficient cars. Other popular proposals included using public lands for renewable energy generation (which had 80 percent support) and levying a carbon tax on fossil fuels companies (67 percent support).

It's a shame our leaders don't get it.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, January 22, 2021.  Silencing of dissent led to many things, including the Iraq War.  Today, we focus on the efforts to silence dissent further in the US.


What if a state of war and terror is used to make populations change their sense of democratic freedom without their ever recognizing that it's happening?  Can fear of terrorism make an entire population embrace values it would normally reject?  Would a population even realize it was becoming more and more entrenched in and comfortable with institutions that ignore the Constitution in favor of the rule of law?

Just go to an airport and stand in line at the security checkpoint.  Make people afraid enough, they will submit to anything.

The passage above from Shirley is even more pertinent as US lawmakers push for more 'terror' laws to 'protect' the United States.  Caitlin Johnstone notes:

The US political/media class have been pushing hard for more authoritarian policies to stave off the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the Capitol riot. President Biden, who was already working on rolling out new domestic terror policies well before January sixth, confirmed after the riot that he is making these new measures a priority. Political internet censorship is becoming increasingly normalized, anti-protest bills are being passed, and now we’re seeing liberals encouraged to form “digital armies” to spy on Trump supporters to report them to the authorities.

And an amazingly large percentage of the US population seems to have no problem with any of this, even in sectors of the political spectrum that should really know better by now.

“What else can we do?” they reason. “What other solution could there possibly be to the threat of dangerous fascists and conspiracy theorists continuing to gain power and influence?”

Well there’s a whole lot that can be done, and none of it includes consenting to sweeping new Patriot Act-like authoritarian measures or encouraging monopolistic Silicon Valley plutocrats to censor worldwide political speech. There’s just a whole lot of mass-scale narrative manipulation going on to keep it from being obvious to everyone.

Many religions feature a belief in 'treat others as you would like them to treat you.'  And if you were lucky to grow up with some form of a caring parental figure, you heard variations on this.  The reason is because when you do something nasty or rude to someone else, you don't have much right to complain when, as Cher sang in "My Song (Too Far Gone)," "what I did to many men was finally . . .  done to . . . me."

That is what happens.  And when laws are created to penalize those you disagree with, you better grasp that those same laws will, sooner or later, come after you.

The golden rule.  We'd hope everyone would follow the treat others as you'd like to be treated maxim out of kindness but, if nothing else, let's hope that they'll follow it for their own self-interest.   Again, to quote Cher, "What I did to many men was finally done to me."

It's already starting, the censorship.  Katie Halper Tweeted two days ago:

The Livestream That Youtube won't let me post is here with the controversial content cut out. But I'm going to keep contesting it.

Yesterday, Jimmy Dore noted the way the corporate media is promoting censorship.

And he did another segment.  This one was with Jordan Chariton.  

File it under Cher's "what I did to many men was finally done to me," in Jordan's case.  As the comments note, Jordan's been calling for the censorship of people for years.  And he's not noted here for his program due to his attacks on THE CONVO COUCH.  Maybe Jordan will learn a lesson from this?  Probably not.  But standing up for freedom of speech often means standing up for speech you don't like or speakers you don't like.  

You do that because you grasp the Constitution and you grasp the importance of freedom of speech.  Instead of re-programming centers for people AOC doesn't like, maybe we should be advocating to send the woefully undereducated AOC back to college to learn about the Constitution?

The politicians are not defenders of free speech.  The tech giants are not defenders of free speech, as Jimmy Dore and others note.  This is surprisingly to you only if you're new to this topic.  The week of August 12th, 2013, this was noted on LAW AND DISORDER RADIO:

Michael Smith:  The subtitle of your new book Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance  -- talk to me for a minute about corporate power.

Heidi Boghosian:  We know that 70% of the government's intelligence operations are conducted by private business.  They have a very co-dependent relationship in which Boeing, a lot of other military operations develop equipment specifically to conduct surveillance.  And the US government actually depends on them for analysis of data that is gathered and for setting up the internal communications system, for example, at the Pentagon.  So it behooves business, it helps their bottom line to create more sophisticated and intricate technology that the government depends on.  You must also realize that business is immune from Constitutional stricture so that they can in many cases spy free from liability and the government has given the telecommunications industry immunity from lawsuits so it really shows the extent that not only do we give them latitude but President Obama has a panel of corporate CEOs who advise him on policy. 

Heidi also addressed the issue on an August 16, 2013 broadcast of COUNTERSPIN:

Peter Hart:  Now we're talking about government spying and that's been the focus of so much one of the Snowden coverage.  One of the lessons of the book is that private companies are very much involved in this on a number of levels.  They're contractors with the federal government.  They're also hired guns on activist groups -- things that the government probably couldn't do legally but you can hire a private company to do these things.  Talk a little about the role of private companies and how they blur the distinction between government surveillance

Heidi Boghosian:  In many ways, private corporations have become the long arm of the government, doing -- as you say -- things that the government could not legally do because they're bound by the strictures of the US Constitution.  Our officials take an oath to protect the Constitution.  And, as we mentioned, some protections were set in place.  They've eroded over time but I think most Americans would be offended if they knew the level of surveillance and they're getting a hint of that now.  Corporations conduct approximately 70% of the US government's intelligence functions. We've seen a shift so that, in many cases, well trained staff move from the public sector into private jobs because they're much more lucrative.  What happens, however, is that there is no oversight and no accountability in a lot of these actions so that even members of Congress are largely in the dark about how these corporations act.  And, as you mentioned with activists, a large part of what corporations do is guard against any outside criticism of their policies so that, for example, in addition to entering into contracts with the government, they may have their own internal intelligence units that collect data, photographs, they spy on activists who are outspoken -- many times, successful activists who've actually changed policies of, say, Burger King or, you know, work that the group PETA has done to raise awareness about how we treat animals.  So environmental activists, animal rights have been deemed top domestic terrorist threats by the government and really, I think, playing into fears people have about another terrorist attack unfortunately by branding US citizens and other people who are merely exercising in most cases their First Amendment right to free speech and free activities, the right to assemble and take grievances to the government, they're being punished, labeled as terrorists, vilified and this has what we call a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech.

And as Lily Tomlin long ago noted in the seventies, big business protects big business.  Some very dangerous things are being proposed.

Glenn Greenwald (SUBSTACK) points out:

The last two weeks have ushered in a wave of new domestic police powers and rhetoric in the name of fighting “terrorism” that are carbon copies of many of the worst excesses of the first War on Terror that began nearly twenty years ago. This trend shows no sign of receding as we move farther from the January 6 Capitol riot. The opposite is true: it is intensifying.

We have witnessed an orgy of censorship from Silicon Valley monopolies with calls for far more aggressive speech policing, a visibly militarized Washington, D.C. featuring a non-ironically named “Green Zone,” vows from the incoming president and his key allies for a new anti-domestic terrorism bill, and frequent accusations of “sedition,” “treason,” and “terrorism” against members of Congress and citizens. This is all driven by a radical expansion of the meaning of “incitement to violence.” It is accompanied by viral-on-social-media pleas that one work with the FBI to turn in one’s fellow citizens (See Something, Say Something!) and demands for a new system of domestic surveillance.

Underlying all of this are immediate insinuations that anyone questioning any of this must, by virtue of these doubts, harbor sympathy for the Terrorists and their neo-Nazi, white supremacist ideology. Liberals have spent so many years now in a tight alliance with neocons and the CIA that they are making the 2002 version of John Ashcroft look like the President of the (old-school) ACLU.

The more honest proponents of this new domestic War on Terror are explicitly admitting that they want to model it on the first one. A New York Times reporter noted on Monday that a “former intelligence official on PBS NewsHour” said “that the US should think about a ‘9/11 Commission’ for domestic extremism and consider applying some of the lessons from the fight against Al Qaeda here at home.” More amazingly, Gen. Stanley McChrystal — for years head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and the commander of the war in Afghanistan — explicitly compared that war to this new one, speaking to Yahoo News:

I did see a similar dynamic in the evolution of al-Qaida in Iraq, where a whole generation of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects followed a powerful leader who promised to take them back in time to a better place, and he led them to embrace an ideology that justified their violence. This is now happening in America….I think we’re much further along in this radicalization process, and facing a much deeper problem as a country, than most Americans realize.”

Anyone who, despite all this, still harbors lingering doubts that the Capitol riot is and will be the neoliberal 9/11, and that a new War on Terror is being implemented in its name, need only watch the two short video clips below, which will clear their doubts for good. It is like being catapulted by an unholy time machine back to Paul Wolfowitz’s 2002 messaging lab.

We stand up to efforts to curtail our rights or we accept what is imposed on us.  The PATRIOT Act was never overturned despite various politicians -- liars all of them -- insisting they were opposed to it.  Remember when Barack Obama was a candidate for president and he'd grand stand on the issue but then he went along renewing it over and over.  And don't pretend like the PATRIOT Act was a surprise or that it took years to realize the harm it was doing.  In 2002, the Center for Constitutional Rights' Nancy Chang's SILENCING POLITICAL DISSENT: HOW POST-SEPTEMBER 11 ANTI-TERRORISM MEASURES THREATEN OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES.  She wrote:


The antiterrosim measures discussed in this book have placed our civil liberties in jeopardy.  And because the "war on terrorism" -- of which these measures form a part -- is likely to become a permanent feature of American life, the task of reclaiming our civil liberties in the post-September 11 world will not be an easy one.  We must exercise our constitutionally protected rights of free speech and political association to protest antiterrorism measures that infringe on political and personal freedoms, organize public education campaigns, engage in grassroots, organizing, build broad coalitions, reach out to people of faith and immigrant communities, participate in voter education and registration drives, alert the mainstream and alternative press to our concerns, write letter to the editor for publiciation in our local newspapers, and seek information from the government under the Freedom of Information Act.  In addition, we must call upon the judiciary to serve as a check against executive and lesgislative measures that violate the Constitution.  And we must call upon Congress to play an oversight role over the executive branch, pass corrective legislation where needed, and appoint judges who are sensitive to the Bill of Rights.  

Our efforts must be directed not only at the federal level but at state and local governments as well.  Since September 11, more than a thousand antiterrorism measures have been proposed in state and local jurisdictions across the nation, and already a number of them have become law.  These measures threaten to criminalize speech and protest activities, limit the availability of public records, expand government surveillance powers, and promote participation in acts the legislature deems patriotic.  

People like Chip Pitts helped organize local efforts where We The People would attend city council meetings and attempt to get resolutions passed to oppose the government's seizure of your private information from public libraries.  There were many ways to fight back.  Few chose to fight.  This is an important issue and that's why we are focusing on it right now.  Before they pass more laws that destroy our rights, we need to be focusing on what's going on.

In her book WHAT IF, Shirley MacLaine notes:

More important than any of the aforementioned, what if the ''security'' measures have never been predominantly about security, but more about the purposeful dumbing-down of Americans, making us subservient to control and authority?  What if the point of amplifying fear is to render the population cooperative with its own individual captivity?  Fear breeds handing over control, and handing over control breeds cooperative dumbing-down/  In the name of protecting freeom and democracy, we've become prisoners of our own induced obedience.

The following sites updated:

Dave Chappelle


Dave Chappelle was set for a big weekend of shows in Austin, Texas at the Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater. But after testing positive for Covid-19, the shows have been canceled.

“Dave Chappelle is quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19. His remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, TX have been cancelled and ticket holders should contact their point of purchase for refunds,” a rep for the comedian said in a statement. “Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter. Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus. Chappelle is asymptomatic.”


I hope Dave Chappelle makes it through okay.  It is amazing how long this pandemic has gone on.  And still no end in sight.  :(  




"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, January 21, 2021.  Bombings slam Baghdad, US media gushes over Joe Biden.

This morning, Baghdad is slammed with bombings "in a busy commercial area near Baghdad’s al-Tayaran Square."  

Ghassan Adnan and Justin Malcolm (WALL STREET JOURNAL) report, "Twin suicide bombings ripped through a crowded marketplace in Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 32 people and wounding at least 75 others in the first such attack in Iraq’s capital in more than two years."  The writers insist that "the explosions shattered a period of relative calm."  It hasn't been relatively calm in Iraq but it does provide cover for your outlet that's ignored the ongoing violence -- especially the violence aimed at the protesters -- when shocked readers see the story.  As XINHUA points out, "sporadic deadly incidents still occur in the war-ravaged country as IS remnants have since melted into urban areas or deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians"  Samya Kullab and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) note, "Blood smeared the floors of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes as survivors took stock of the disarray in the aftermath." The first bomb helped draw the crowd, the second one then went off.  Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) explains, "The interior ministry said the first bomber had claimed he was ill and when crowds gathered to help, he detonated his bomb."  Aqeel Najm, Jomana Karadsheh, Kareem Khadder and Tamara Qiblawi (CNN) add:

Security forces say they pursued the two attackers before they blew themselves up. It was the first suicide attack to strike Baghdad in nearly two years.
The first bomber entered the marketplace and, pretending to be sick, asked for help, causing people to gather around him before he blew himself up, according to officials and state media. The second bomber then drove to the scene on a motorbike before detonating his explosive vest.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though it bears the hallmarks of Sunni jihadi groups who have carried out numerous similar attacks in Iraq. Double bombings were common in the country during the height of its sectarian war between 2005 and 2007. 

ALJAZEERA's Abdelfattah Fayed states, "The injured were rushed to the nearby hospitals. Local reports suggest that the number of fatalities will rise as the large number of those injured are in very critical condition."  Ramadan Al Sherbini (GULF NEWS) notes, "Photos carried by Iraqi media showed bodies lying on the ground in the aftermath of the attack."  XINHUA reports:

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms the twin suicide bombings at a crowded commercial area in Iraq's capital Baghdad.

"That terrorist attack is a heinous act that came at a very important time. It undoubtedly aimed to hinder Iraq's efforts to restore the country's security and stability and achieve the aspired economic reform," Aboul-Gheit said.

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR offers this context, "The latest bombings come just days after the government unanimously voted to postpone the country's general elections to October this year. They were scheduled for 6 June. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi had pledged to hold early elections after taking office last year, to appease anti-government protesters demanding a reform of the country's political system and an end to rampant corruption and poor public services."

Among the many hideous moments on US TV yesterday?  The efforts to turn Bully Boy Bush into someone worthy of admiration.  The War Criminal is beloved by those who whore for corporations.  Hannibal Khoury Tweets:

Children are still getting blown-up in Iraq but CNN and Stephen Colbert want you to know what a cute and cuddly grandpa George Bush is
Red heart


Corporate whores are happy.  They spent yesterday ooh-ing and ahh-ing over aged debutante Joe Biden's coming out party.   The rest of the world?  Not so much.  Kooky | Destroyer of Mayo notes:

Palestine is not celebrating today Venezuela is not celebrating today Iran is not celebrating today Syria is not celebrating today Iraq is not celebrating today Cuba is not celebrating today Bolivia is not celebrating today Yemen is not celebrating today

Chile is not celebrating today Afghanistan is not celebrating today Honduras is not celebrating today

I'm not letting liberals enjoy this. There is nothing to enjoy, only the continuation of capitalist terror and hegemony

Also a preemptive response to liberals finding this: I'm Syrian, ask me about the Obama years

Victory hand

Yeah the new president is a war criminal who has terrorized the places I listed. Take your smart comments to other places

Joseph Kishore (WSWS) reports of the inauguration:

President Joseph Biden’s inaugural address yesterday was significant above all for its banality. Amidst an unprecedented political, social and economic crisis of the entire capitalist order, Biden delivered remarks filled with cliches, incoherent non sequiturs and the emptiest of abstractions.

One would not, of course, expect Biden to deliver a socialist speech. He is a capitalist politician assuming the position of “commander-in-chief” of the most powerful imperialist country. However, in the tradition of American politics, the inaugural address of the incoming president used to be an occasion for speaking in some form to the political situation and the policy of the incoming administration.

[. . .]

The poverty of Biden’s remarks is not just an intellectual failure. He knows full well that any hint at a significant shift in policy would spark a sell-off on the markets. As it was, the markets rose during his speech. In the minds of the political establishment and the media, this is the main factor in concluding that the speech was a great success. They were all somewhat richer at its conclusion than at its beginning.

Moreover, the political representatives of the ruling class, and particularly the Democratic Party, are acutely aware of the fact that any serious examination of reality—including the political and social forces behind the rise of fascism in America and the bipartisan policies that have produced the catastrophic spread of the pandemic—risks a social and political explosion that will threaten the entire capitalist order.

Biden’s appeal to “unity” is, ultimately, a desperate effort to cover over a massive social chasm. This chasm does not separate the Democrats from the Republicans, who, whatever their differences, both represent the same oligarchy. It is the unbridgeable division between the capitalist ruling elite, on the one hand, and the working class, on the other. It is the fear of the open eruption of this conflict that drives Biden to his abstractions.


Margaret Kimberley offered:

Every 4 years I suffer. I watch many people who I respect shed tears over a democrat winning or the first black president or Trump is gone and Harris is a woman, etc. But I don't care because I want a different society altogether.

ADDED: Glenn Greenwald Tweeted:

"The commentary from TV broadcasters across the board, all day long, was at times embarrassingly complimentary" -- The Washington Post's , with great understatement on yesterday's festivities and how the media covered them.

The following sites updated: