While the politicians and the liberal media pat themselves on the back for a China-U.S. “promise” of carbon reductions that might happen 15 years from now, Democrats are adopting a suicidal strategy on Keystone XL. Majority Leader Harry Reid, who in the past blocked attempts to get the Senate on record as supporting the pipeline, now will allow a vote as a way of helping Sen. Mary Landrieu win re-election in Louisiana. Louisiana is often described as “energy-rich” meaning that a number of people are growing rich in the fossil fuel business and others have jobs that pay decent money. Louisiana is also the state that saw its major city New Orleans devastated by the type of hurricane that will become more and more common as nature warms up and leaves the best-for-human-climate behind as a memory.
For those who don’t remember two years ago climate expert James Hansen said if we built the pipeline and used the tar sands for oil it was “game over” for the climate. By “game over” he meant things like disintegration of the ice sheets, and a 50’ rise in sea level. He predicted, “Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.”
Nov.7. The White House is ready to deal. That’s my take on Obama’s post election speech. He didn’t admit that Obamacare was blown opportunity or that his Middle East wars were failures. No, the lesson he learned from losing the Senate is that people want government to get things done, period. So he’s ready to make grand bargains with the Republicans and he’ll give away the store to get them. He’s concerned about his legacy, you see
Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News today tells us the Republicans want an immediate amnesty, not for hard working immigrants who risked their lives to come to the U.S.to work all the crap jobs. The Republicans want amnesty for the bankers and corporate tycoons who’ve been working their asses off figuring schemes to avoid taxes. One thing they’ve done is to keep the profits from outsourcing and other such “investments” overseas. That way they don’t have to pay any U.S.tax which on the books is officially 35%. (the real tax companies pay is less than 18%)
Nov. 7. The October jobs report is out today. E-pop, employment as % of the total working age population is up .2%. That’s certainly positive, but at 59.2% it’s still well below the 63% before the Great Recession
Mike Cassidy of the Fiscal Times looked into this a bit more. He wrote about prime-age workers, who are from 25 to 54 years old. He says, the prime-age E-P ratio, which averaged 79.4 percent from 2003 to 2007, has rebounded much more slowly than the unemployment rate, rising from a low of 75.1 percent to just 76.9 percent today.” So it has only recovered half of what was lost.
The official “unemployed” are down 267,000… to about 9 million. That’s over 2 million less than last year. In addition there are 7 million working part time who want to work full time. So there are still 16 million in the US labor force out of work completely or unhappily on part time
As for wages, average pay went up 3 cents an hour (champagne for everyone!). The New York Times points out that since the recovery from the Great Recession began five years ago, corporate profits went up 46% and the stock market rose 92%! Household family income has not been so lucky. It dropped 3%.
Time magazine this week had as its cover story a piece it called, “Rotten Apples”. The subject was, rotten teachers and why “it’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher”. It was written by Haley Sweetland Edwards, a Time political reporter, who looks to be in her mid-20’s and who a quick Google search reveals specializes articles about Yemen and Libya. I could be wrong but her only article on education appears to be a 2009 piece about the experiences of a group of Maplewood, New Jersey high school students applying for college.
Nevertheless, Time gave her four pages to bash teachers and gush over the saviors of education: tech millionaires like David Welch one “of a half-dozen teach titans who are making the repair of public education something like a second career.” She writes about the four month old Vergara decision that ruled California’s tenure law “unconstitutional” and voided contractual layoff procedures based on seniority and waxes on about the “reform” movement led “not by activists or union leaders but by Silicon Valley business types.“
Oct. 16 Today Yahoo News featured a report on so-called “natural gas”, that is methane gas. Natural gas has been hailed as the “bridge” to a cleaner tomorrow, the fuel that will let the world get off coal and let us burn away until better, cleaner things come along. However a new study in the magazine “Nature” says,“Computer simulations show that emissions of heat-trapping gases to make electricity would not decline worldwide and could possibly go up.”
Instead of being a bridge ever more widespread use of natural gas will be a barrier. It will discourage advances in wind and solar and energy efficiency.
Five teams of experts from around the world, using five different sets of computer model prediction models, looked at what would happen if natural gas use massively expanded by 2050. They all found no halt to output in greenhouse gases. Two of the five found that gases would even increase! The reason for that is there seems to be a huge problem of methane leaks either when the gas is fracked or piped or both and methane is an even worse global warming gas than carbon dioxide.
So going from a coal addiction to a meth addiction is no improvement.
Oct. 15. The big drop in oil prices is expected to give a trillion dollar boost to the world says Citigroup. That’s a trillion a year for the next few years. It’s all because the U.S. and Canada have unlocked immense stores of oil from shale rock and tar sands. Everything that depends of fuel from cars to framing will become cheaper. That means more cars, more trucks, more international trade.
The problem is with oil and gasoline cheaper lots more of it will be burned and our headline rush to climate hell will come that much sooner.
by Alli McCracken
Three years ago, during the height of the Occupy movement, I was ejected from a Congressional hearing for allegedly “assaulting” Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. He was testifying to the House Armed Services Committee about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade.” I jumped out of my audience seat to tell him that young people were paying the price of those “lessons,” and we were sick of the government funding war instead of education. The baseless assault charges against me were ultimately dropped.
A few years and trillions of dollars later, I found myself sitting in front of Leon Panetta once again, this time for his book talk at George Washington University, where he was gunning for more war. Just when we thought the US was finally leaving Iraq alone, the world was hit with a paranoid media frenzy: showcasing ISIS beheadings ad infinitum, hysterical Congresspeople claiming that they were “coming for us all,” paving the way to more war, war, war–– no questions from the public, no Congressional debate. Bombs started falling on Iraq and Syria, innocents are dying, ISIL is gaining traction, yet the White House is declaring the whole operation so far “successful.”
Folk in Danbury, CT should read this warning carefully. Gas line expansion is planned for the poor side of town [editor]
Spectra Energy Takes AIM at Danbury
By Anthony Sorge
As CT Governor Dannel Malloy said in November, 2013, “To secure a cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy future for the long-term, we are going to have to work together as a region to expand key energy infrastructure.” These words were music to the ears of Houston-based Spectra Energy, who had by then already hatched a plan to expand a natural gas pipeline (the offensively-named “Algonquin”) that runs through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, despite the significant health, safety, and environmental risks of such a project. Now, after this summer’s release of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Spectra’s plan is dangerously close to becoming a reality—but not if activists and concerned community members along the pipeline route have anything to say about it.
Spectra Energy would have us believe that their proposed pipeline expansion is simply fulfilling consumers’ demand for cheap, “clean” energy. However, like any corporation, Spectra’s main concern isn’t the needs of “consumers” or the environment—it’s profit. This is why Spectra’s pipeline expansion plans don’t end with the so-called Algonquin: Spectra is already proposing a further pipeline expansion plan—the Atlantic Bridge Project—which would bring fracked gas through New England and into the Maritime Provinces, allowing the energy company to tap into Canadian markets and LNG export terminals.
Interview with Glen Ford of Black Agenda report who will be speaking in Hartford Thurs, 7/17 at 7:30 at the Urban Hope Refuge Church 136 Westland St., Hartford . He and Stanley Heller talk about Detroit and Michigan as a whole where “administrators” run black majority cities, effectively disenfranchising blacks. They also touch on Hartford and Newark and the sad state of the black leadership class. This interview on You Tube on our channel EcoUp1.
Some things were better than expected, but overall things are weak. Jobs increased by 288,000, but E-pop, the number employed as a percent of the working population only went up 0.1 percent to 59.0, lots below the 63% before the Great Recession. A similar measure, the participation rate was 62.8%, unchanged for the last three months.
The number who have given up looking for work actually went up by 111,000. People forced to go on part time work increased by 275,000.
To pieces of definite good news, the jobless rate for Blacks is down 0.8 percent and the number of long term unemployed (27 weeks and over) is down by 300,000
Wages went up a few cents an hour since May. Over the year they went up two and a half percent slightly more than prices. Wages have been flat for decades for working people.
The Hobby Lobby case shows the twisted logic that is driving the Supreme Court judges. People can claim religious beliefs (based on God or gods) that they say prevent them from doing this or that and the Court throws out common sense laws like the law that a big company has to provide certain minimum health insurance. It was outlandish to read that Mr. Hobby Lobby approved certain kinds of birth control and not others so he didn’t want to pay for the required health care plan. He was listened to seriously because he’s “spiritual”. If, however, a teenager said that out of conscience he didn’t want to participate in registering for the draft because of the horrendous results of U.S. wars he would be barred from financial aid, all federal jobs and in theory could be fined $250,000. If I decided not to pay taxes because I was sickened by the fences at the Mexico border and all the migrants who die each year trying to get to the U.S. my deep moral convictions would get me nothing other than a jail term.
An article in the New York Times today criticizes another part of the judges’ logic. All this concern about the owner’s religious preferences is based on the curious idea that the health insurance that the owners buy for their employees is given out of the kindness of their hearts. Actually it’s been long understood that the benefits go to the workers because they are accepting less in wages in order to get those benefits. Logically its the workers ideas about benefits, not the bosses that should matter. Continue reading
Owner Dan Snyder has said he won’t change the racist name of the Washington football team. One thing that could help change his mind is a campaign to get the Washington Post and all media to refuse to mention the team or its activities. If there were no reporting of games, no feature stories, no listing in box scores, no mention of schedules, and no interviews with top players there eventually would be a drop in attendance at games, a decline in TV viewing and a fall-off in merchandise revenue. Advertisers would start to complain.
Read the whole article at Indian Country Today Media Network by clicking here.
Go directly to the petition by clicking here.
The prediction is that within six years almost all group insurance plans paid for by a company, city or state will be history. Instead employees will be pushed onto the exchanges of Obamacare and the employers will kick in a share of the cost.
Michael Thompson of S&P Capital IQ writes, as “many as 90 percent could end their current insurance benefits and move to public or private exchanges by 2020.” He’s not alone. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama Administration official, says the same thing in his book “Reinventing American Health Care”.
June 11. In a stunning decision a Superior Court judge struck down teacher job security (called “tenure”) and layoff rights in California calling them “unconstitutional”. Claiming to base his decision on the view that all students deserve an equal education he says these job rights protections are so ironclad in California that incompetent teachers can’t be fired. Judge Rolf M. Treu further claims the incompetents are more often than not put in minority school districts and this is another reason to strike down the laws. Click here for the judge’s full decision.
I taught in Connecticut for forty years (Social Studies and Computer Education) and was a lobbyist for the CT State Federation of Teachers (AFT) for a year in the CT legislature. I know a bit about issues of job security.
Judge Treu states as a point of fact that there is “no dispute” that there are grossly ineffective teachers in California. I would bet my bottom dollar that there is a very big dispute over how many such teachers there are and whether they’re being dealt with properly. The judge merely quotes a study that estimates the number of “grossly
June 5. The NYC climate march in September becomes ever more important. While the president has finally taken climate action it won’t achieve UN goals and prevent catastrophe. Interview with Chris Williams:
We need a huge turnout for the Sept. 21 NYC climate march and we have to work to make “System Change, Not Climate Change” a key part of the effort. Chris Williams is the author of “Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis”
As a surprisingly honest New York Times editorial shows, the 1 percent has been shaping trade policy to transfer money and power to the wealthy. “Big corporations” are “shaping the American position” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its US-European counterpart TAFTA, according to Sunday’s editorial titled “This Time, Get Global Trade Right”. The Times warns that the bargaining process gives corporations a “dangerous” and “lopsided” influence, and “companies are using trade agreements to get special benefits”.
Given the Times’ loyalty to the 1 percent, the editors’ stern warning suggests that the ongoing trade discussions must be especially undemocratic. After all, the Times has repeatedly supported business-friendly policies in the past, from NAFTA to the collapsed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Just this past December, the editors strongly praised the TPP, a proposed trade agreement between the US, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Peru and Brunei. If passed, the agreement would govern 40 percent of the world economy.
April 11. The oil boom in North Dakota is so hot that drillers just burn away millions of cubic feet of natural gas every day. The picture above is an actual NASA photo of the section of the state which is home to the Bakken shale oil field. The lights, for the most part, are the flares, some of which are 30 feet high.
Natural gas is mostly methane. When flared it releases carbon dioxide and some methane. Methane is is about 20 time worse than carbon dioxide in its greenhouse effects (though it doesn’t last as long as CO2 in the atmosphere).
April 11. Al Sharpton has risen to the top ranks of Obama advisers. It was he who last year staged the ultra-tame tribute to the epic 1963 March on Washington. He has his own daily TV show on the MSNBC (Love-the-Democrats-24/7) channel. Tonight his “National Action Network” will host President Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder. Sharpton is at the pinnacle of influence with the 1% due to his ability to channel black anger into harmless paths.
This week, however, a website revealed that Sharpton has been an FBI informer in the ’80′s after having been threatened with arrest and then “flipped”. The website is “The Smoking Gun” (TSG) and its findings have been taken seriously by The New York Times, USA Today and other media.
Obama is crowing about the success of his health care plan saying more people signed up on his health care exchanges than predicted. The number is over seven million. Now not all of those who sign up will actually make payments and get insured. Experience shows the number to be 80%. So figure 5.6 million.
Add to that 2.4 million who have gotten insurance through extended Medicaid in the Obamacare plan (through January) and 2.2 million young adults added to their parents plan and 500,000 who signed up for insurance without using the exchange. (see two week old Fact Check article here for figures in these paragraphs.)
So the total number is 10.7 million, or to be a little generous 11 million more people with health insurance. Bully!
The problem is according to census data in 2012 there were 48 million without health insurance. That means roughly 37 million are without health insurance.
April 2. No, this is not a prediction of the ICPP on what will happen over the next few centuries. It already happened. In the 1600’s climate cooling caused a number of weather disasters which led to famines and war and wiped out about a third of humanity. Kingdoms that had lasted for centuries collapsed and men fought for a new order. That’s from a 900 page book that came out last year by historian Geoffrey Parker called Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, I heard an interview with him on WBAI this morning on the program “Against the Grain”.
Climate cooling in the 17th century was surely not man-made. Parker says it had to do with a unique lack of sunspots, more frequent volcanic eruptions and changes to El-Nino. The temperature dropped worldwide one to two degrees Celsius.
There were different reactions among the rulers of the world. The main one was to deny anything was going wrong and to try to drown rebellions in blood. Others saw the problem as sin against God. Their solution was to burn witches and murder gays. Some societies realized something special was going on in the climate and that the state had to take action. Mogul India cut back on its building program (no second Taj Mahal) and fed many of the starving.
The best response was in Tokugawa Japan. Their ruler decided there was in a real emergency and took action. For instance no one could use rice for anything except eating (no saki wine). Invitations to go to war were actually rejected. The Chinese asked for help against the Manchus in vain. The Dutch proposed a joint Dutch-Japanese invasion of the Philippines and this was rejected, too. This approach was successful and Japan’s population doubled or tripled by 1700.
Obviously there’s a lesson here as our climate starts to heat up. Climate catastrophe is going to cause more war. Some say it’s already happened recently, giving Syria as the big example. An expert on the Bill Moyers TV show talked about years of drought in Syria. “75 percent of farmers in the northeast suffered total crop failure”. Millions left their homes and the Assad government did not handle the crisis. The result was a social powder keg and finally an explosion.
More on Parker’s book here and here.