May 20. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said this on the floor of the Senate today:
“So, you may have a question for me,” Whitehouse said. “Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.”
Of course, he’s right. We all will pay for the science deniers and fossil fuel executives willful ignorance and greed. They will say, “This is in bad taste. We should grieve, etc, etc” Unfortunately people forget real quick. They need to be reminded about our path to climate disaster with every weather disaster (whether we can prove that particular event was caused by global warming).
Here’s the source of the quote.
May 18. Check out the picture in the New York Times, Mt. Koch, a new Detroit landmark. No, there was no volcano in Motown. It’s the billionaire Koch brothers dump. They decided to park a growing pile of petroleum coke right alongside the Detroit River. In the photo it looks to be twice the height of a train car and hundreds of feet long and it’s growing. It was started last November.
It’s made up of jet black waste from Canadian tar sands. The U.S. no longer allows the stuff to be burned in the U.S., but the Koch family sends it to Mexico or China were its used for fuel. The governments there aren’t that particular about air quality (witness Beijing).
The petroleum coke waste comes from tar sands of Alberta Canada, the same gunk that the carbon criminals want to send down the Keystone XL pipeline. The refine the bitumen and the coke waste is left. Coke is actually used in steel making, but there’s too much sulphur in petroleum coke so it can’t be used.
Detroit can’t do much about it. The Michigan governor overthrew local government and appointed a bankruptcy lawyer to be in charge.
After you read the article on the NYT site read the comments. Some are quite excellent.
May 15. The world desperately needs plans to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Instead CT Gov. Dan’l Malloy’s mult-billion plan is heavy on fossil fuels. Hear an interview with Dan Fischer, an activist in a group that’s planning a May 22 protest of the plan by clicking on the link:
Here’s a link to the groups’s website. (Full disclosure. I’m part of the group.)
May 8. The New York Times John Broder reports that the Obama Administration is seeing if it can have its cake and eat it too. It wants to approve the Keystone XL (Climate Killing) pipeline, but keep climate caring people happy with some other climate measure. What’s being talked about is a major regulation on existing coal plants (even though the reg on new plants hasn’t been approved) or some “renewable energy” incentives.
One hopes leading climate activists won’t fall for this hooey. We desperately need these regs and incentives on top of stopping Keystone XL. Recall the pipeline has been described as the “largest carbon bomb” on the planet, a world whose energy companies already own 5 times more fossil fuel than is safe to use.
Again I advise that activists prepare now for very large, very angry demonstrations to break with the Democrats once and for all.
May 3. The percent employed as a share of the population (e-pop) went up 0.1 percent last month, a very small change. It’s really been stuck at the same level for 3 years. The number “not in the labor” force dropped 31,000, good, but still a very small amount. (Remember it dropped 600,000 last month.) The New York Times reporter Benyimim Applebaum summed it up this way, ” The economy continues to add jobs in proportion to population growth. Nothing less, nothing more.” He said the U.S. is ten million jobs short of where it should be.
Later in the day another NYT article pointed out that the U.S. which used to have the lowest percent of young people without jobs (compared to Canaqda and European countries) now has the highest. Since 2000 the number has gone from 18.5 to 26.6% in the age group 26-34. The lack of jobs for young people was reported on last August on this blog here.
And we have to mention the news about the sharp increase in the suicide rate in the U.S. The biggest increase is among the baby boomer generation. Dr. Julie Philips at Rutgers said, “The boomers had great expectations for what their life might look like, but I think perhaps it hasn’t panned out that way.” Read the “comment” on the article by Jen D about how joblessness slowly destroyed her brother and drove him to suicide.
May 13, a major article on austerity and suicide on the New York Times, click here
The law was signed in 2010 and now three years later the number without any health insurance or with lousy insurance is up by 3 million to a total of 84 million. That’s the facts in an article on Bloomberg news. The number with no insurance at all is 55 million.
Besides people losing insurance there are lot of people whose co-pay deductions have skyrocketed. In one instance I know about a public employee saw her co-pay go up from $1,500 to $3,300 a year, this when she got no raise at all.
Many more are worried that once the new law takes effect their companies will just drop their insurance completely and pay the fine instead.
Most of the uninsured will have to buy individual insurance plans with some government help.
When the smoke clears I predict for the average person it will be LIFA “Lousy Insurance for All”.
Single-payer, Medicare-for-all, Canadian Plan whatever you want to call a rational way of covering costs was never considered by the Obama regime.
New York Times energy journalist John M. Broder predicts that the president will approve Keystone XL. He wrote on April 24, “Mr. Obama has not tipped his hand, but signals from the administration indicate that he is inclined to approve the project within months on the ground that it would serve the national interest by providing a steady flow of oil from a friendly neighbor.” The article’s photo is of Obama backing “expedited” construction of the pipeline in Oklahoma that has already started. Wonder how the “national interest” will be served with Manhattan half under water?
On the other hand among the 1,000,000 pieces of mail to the State Department opposing its (industry linked) whitewash of the pipeline was one from…the EPA itself. It sharply criticized the State Department impact statement saying its mark for considering climate change impact was FAIL.
Interesting in the new 40 minute video from 350.org “Do the Math” there’s no more “We Got Your Back” talk about Obama.
Instead it shows him speaking a couple of years ago about how he wants to get rid of the “red tape” and support the project. In a new Rolling Stone article McKibben notes that Van Jones has started calling the Keystone XL project the “Obama Pipeline”.
15 dead in a plant that was last inspected by OSHA in 1985. Bloomberg Businessweek comments, “OSHA conducted 4,448 inspections in the last fiscal year, a pace that would mean it would visit every workplace in 126 years, according to a report by the AFL-CIO.” It stored 270 tons of ammonium nitrate. There are no federal rules that to keep this fertilizer far away from towns.
and in Bangladesh 100 workers died in a factory collapse. Workers refused to go into the building on seeing all the cracks, but the next day the boss said that all was OK and that people had to go to work. They worked and they died.
April 24. NYT columnist Paul Krugman has written about a new prejudice and discrimination, a bias against people who have been out of work for six months or more. Employers think there’s something wrong with them, something personal or that their job skills are out of date. This is a big problem because as Krugman notes the number of people who’ve been out of work over six months is more than triple what it was in 2007. He mentions a study done by two professors at Northeastern University where they made up 4,800 phony applications and sent them out. The call-backs went to the people who supposedly already had jobs or were out of work for a short time even if the people out of work for six months or a year had far better skills and experience.
Once again many of the hundreds of “comments” added to the article were outstanding. There were many sad stories of the long term highly skilled unemployed. Others had ideas where people could be put to work do useful tasks.
Krugman uses the article to (properly) bash those who preach cutback and austerity, but he doesn’t talk about the obvious solution, jobs guaranteed by society for everyone, jobs as a human right.
When will working people wake up and start demanding jobs? When will they fight like Egyptians?
April 23. It didn’t get much play in the New York Times or interest by other media, but an April 21 article showed that a huge portion of New Yorkers were having a hard time. The percent of people in 2011 in the biggest city in the U.S.A. considered poor or near poor was 46% or almost half the whole population.
That’s the finding of the city’s “Center for Economic Opportunity”. It claims things have “stabilized” meaning that on the whole increases have stopped, but the ranks of the poor and near poor have grown a lot since 2008. The percent poor rose to 21% in 2011 with 25% considered near poor. “Near poor” is up to 1 and a half times the poverty amount. In the very high-priced Big Apple that’s up to $46,000 for a family of four.
Here’s the very hard to understand press release coming for Mayo (20 billion dollars) Michael Bloomberg. It tries to put the best face on things highlighting that the share of poor single parent families has gone down. Numbers since 2011 are not known.
What’s clear is that the share of people having it rough in Gotham City has “stabilized” at an outrageous amount. A decade of rule by a multi-billionaire and the city is awash in misery.
April 21. I drove Bill McKibben a few days ago to the hall where he received the Gandhi Peace Award from Promoting Enduring Peace. It was just a few minutes drive and I didn’t want to get into anything that might cause an argument before he was about receive his big and well deserved honor.
If I did have some significant time alone with him I would say these things:
1. Start planning a furious march on the White House to take place if the president gives the final OK to Keystone XL. The February climate rally was awesome in its size and in its message of how desperate conditions are becoming, but the politics of “We got your back, Mr. President” was a mistake. The idea that Obama is our secret ally just wanting massive support to “do the right thing” is plain wrong. Your people in February should have let former Green Party candidate Jill Stein speak from the stage. She would have said that she was there protesting the Administrations climate policy. That message should have been heard loud and clear.
Zeke27 from New York wrote this in a comment to a NYT article
“I support the NRA’s position on focusing on the mental health aspect of gun ownership.
We should start by questioning whether it is sane to want a 30 bullet clip for a rifle, or whether it is some delusion based on a neurotic idea spawned by a video game.
We should question the gun owner’s mental stability when he or she expresses the paranoia inherent in the belief that the government is about to confiscate their guns.
We should question the obsessive compulsion that causes some people to stockpile guns and ammunition as if they were stacks of newspapers kept by some hoarder.
We should question the mental stability of those who want to arm everyone in the community, just in case someone points a stick at them.
The burden of proof of mental stability should be on the person who wants to own a machine designed solely to kill with maximum damage. Gun dealers should be the last people to make that determination. It’s really quite simple.”
Obama has threatened to use the Environmental Protection Agency to lower carbon dioxide pollution. He has threatened and he has threatened…for three years.
So next year if he has his way the EPA’s budget will be reduced by a 3.5%. Huh? Who’s he going to use to enforce things if the EPA puts greenhouse gas limits on coal burning electric plants, the Boy Scouts?
As Nigel Holmes wrote on his New Yorker blog “the phrase ‘climate change’ appears twenty-nine times in the new budget, but there is no new plan for Congress to take up”.
Job numbers for March are out and they’re not good. The best measure, “e-pop” (employed adults as a percent of the population), is down a tenth of a percent. Despite all the ballyhoo about “recovery” from the Great Recession e-pop is only up three tenths of a percent since its 2009 bottom.
The “official” useless rate went down a tenth of a percent. Why? Because people were giving up looking for jobs in massive numbers. Last month 600,000 joined the group ”not in the labor force” meaning they’ve stopped looking for work. The number “not in the labor force” is up a staggering two million from the same time last year. And here’s something: The percent of men in the labor force in their prime earning years 45-54 is at its lowest since 1948.
But there’s a silver lining (if you already own a silver serving set and a fur coat in need of a lining.) The New York Times had a front page article in which it reported on estimates of amount of money hidden “offshore” in the banks of tiny island nations. Part of it was based on the work of the Tax Justice Network which has been saying the amount rich people have squirreled away is between $21 and $32 trillion.
This is old news (Democracy Now! talked about it last July and one of our flyers details it), but what is new is that somebody leaked vast amounts of data about the names and amounts being held in the secret accounts. What do I mean by vast? How about 20 gigabytes of embarrassment, 160 times what Wikileaks put out in its massive 2012 report on State Department files.
Many people mention the Federal Reserve Bank’s bank numbers about “idle cash” held by U.S. companies. The figure is staggering $1.7 trillion (and this does not include money owned by banks.) The companies don’t use the money to make more products because they don’t see the buyers out there so they keep it in CD’s, stocks and bonds.
Here’s a piece by Reuters writer David Cay Johnston that says the Fed is lowballing it and that the real number is much, much higher. He says the Fed only looks at the tax figures from the IRS about money held by companies from their U.S. business. However, Johnston says, if you look at the worldwide holdings the IRS figures for 2009 the number is over $5.1 trillion.
Now if you think that the Great Recession forced companies to plow through those reserves since ‘09 think again. Corporate profits rose in 2010 and 2011, a combined $1 trillion. Johnston says cash held by companies rose, so the amount of “idle cash” is more than $5.1 trillion.
March 27. A few days ago I cautioned about New York Times columnist Anthony Nocera’s unqualified enthusiasm for coal gas. He described a method where the CO2 greenhouse gas captured in the process of making coal gas would be sent far into the earth. I listed criticisms and here’s another one, possible earthquakes. Scientists are saying a big earthquake that hit Oklahoma in 2011 was caused by wastewater sent deep into the earth. The article on the Fox News site says scientists believe they have spotted 60 other ”injection induced” quakes.
So before sending massive amounts of pressurized CO2 into the earth and sealing up think about what it might do to earthquake faults.
March 26. To borrow a word from the nuclear arms race the fossil fuel industry has achieved “overkill”. Companies have found several times more fuel than can safely be burned. By safe I mean without putting so much CO2 in the air that global warming will cause climate catastrophe.
The fight is to see that most of the fossil fuel stays in the ground On the one side are 350.org, Sierra Club, other such activist groups and many scientists. On the other are the fossil fuel companies (in many countries owned by governments) backed by most of the politicians. Not only does the industry want to burn all that its found, but its madly searching for more.
The most terrifying book I’ve ever read is by top climate scientist James Hansen. It’s called “Storms of my Grandchildren”. Near the end he says straight out that if mankind burns up all the fossil fuels including the tar sands and tar shale there will be runaway global warming that could raise daily temperatures by hundreds of degrees!
Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! did an hour interview with Prof. Richard Wolff starting off with the decision of the government of Cyprus to take money from bank accounts and then give the money to the banks themselves. Hear it here. One of the things he talks about is a huge worker cooperative in Spain called Mondragon. DN! had a further piece on Mondragon on its website.