Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Pennsylvania Paradox

By Barb Jarmoska, Responsible Drilling Alliance (Williamsport PA), 12/21/15

Earlier this month, 195 nations and the European Union, representing billions of earth citizens, reached an unprecedented consensus at the Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). A plan to slow global warming was agreed upon with the hope of averting disastrous climate effects. Global dependence on fossil fuels is beginning to wind down and a commitment to an increasing reliance on clean, renewable energy has begun. Janos Pasztor, the U.N. assistant secretary-general on climate change, proclaimed that the message of the Paris Agreement is to “send a strong signal… that this is the direction we are going, to a low-carbon, low-emissions world, so investing in new technology is the way to go.”

“The agreement requires the world to wean itself off of fossil fuels by the middle of the century,” said Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We have to get to net zero of greenhouse gases by 2060 or so. That can be through a combination of reducing emissions and increasing uptake of carbon dioxide by forests and agriculture by natural syncs. There is no way to meet this goal without phasing out fossil fuels over that time.”

Although the commitments made in Paris are insufficient to protect the most vulnerable people or to reverse the trend of rapidly declining biodiversity, the COP21 deal is a compromise, a crucial and forward-looking step in the right direction.

Huffington Post proclaimed, “…the Paris Agreement does send a strong signal to the business community and financial markets that we are moving to a low-carbon, renewable energy future.”

Here in PA, that “strong signal” has been blocked by false promises and padded campaign coffers. The message of COP21 is not reaching the ears of Pennsylvania’s elected and appointed officials who, as a whole, remain heedless of the warnings, ignorant of the predictions, and deaf to the global consensus on climate change. The gas industry’s stranglehold continues to dominate… welcome to the Pennsylvania paradox.

November saw the release of the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Draft Report. The governor’s 48-member Task Force, said to be comprised of “stakeholders” is hardly a balanced group, as the stakes most members hold have nothing to do with methane’s impact on climate change. The report’s 184 recommendations make no mention of the methane that leaks from pipelines nor does it hold in regard the forest fragmentation, invasive species, damage to wetlands, and other environmental impacts of PA’s proposed 30,000-mile web of new pipelines….

continue reading at Responsible Drilling Alliance

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An Essay On the Future: Alienation, Despair and American Greatness

by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 12/14/2015

Give me an adequate army, with power to provide it with more pay and better food than falls to the lot of the average man, and I will undertake, within 30 years, to make the majority of the population believe that two and two are three, that water freezes when it gets hot and boils when it gets cold, or any other nonsense that might seem to serve the interest of the state.
                    - Bertrand Russell

An epidemic of unhappiness is spreading across the planet, while capital absolutism is asserting its right to unfettered control of our lives.
                    - Franco “Bifo” Berardi

First there was Paris. Then Colorado Springs. Then San Bernadino. A great discussion was raised in the land over which of the killers were terrorists and which were just lunatics. Police and FBI frantically went through apartments, hard-drives and cellphones to find out who had radicalized whom. Well paid corporate TV anchors salivated as police cordoned off crime scenes and politicos huddled in secret situation rooms to get their stories straight so they could release an official story to an eager and fearful public. They no doubt kept many important details to themselves.

Beyond the radicalizing question, there isn’t much interest why these people — versus other people — did what they did. Motivation comes down to: Who made them do it? The words alienation and despair are rarely seen, except maybe in the marginalized columns of the left. The problems of alienation and despair disappeared from the national discussion about the time Jimmy Carter’s malaise was overwhelmed by Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill and the rigors of 21st century “neoliberal” financial capitalism took the driver’s seat in America.

The Right emphatically pointed at ISIS and the Muslim threat. Utilizing sophisticated social media skills, a monstrous, growing caliphate had declared war on America and was seducing people living among us to kill us. America needed to respond with unrestrained lethal force, so America could be great again. In cases like the Planned Parenthood killings and the Charleston killings, the Left pointed at rightwing media bullhorns like Bill O’Reilly for relentlessly demonizing Planned Parenthood and the Black Lives Matters movement. O’Reilly vociferously denied on-air that he had “radicalized” anyone; he was not responsible for armed lunatics. The National Rifle Association stood firm: Any controls on citizen access to military assault rifles was the work of the Devil….

continue reading at This Can’t Be Happening

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime, John Grant, Right Wing, Terrorism

Gun Cultures – An Analysis (14 October 2015)

by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses, 10/15/15

Here is the question: What two “modern” societies have cultures that allow, and even idealize, the possession of guns? Answer: the United States and Israel. 

Part I – The American Gun Culture

In the U.S. there are 88 guns floating around for every 100 people, which comes to about 300 million of these weapons in circulation. This includes military-style assault weapons, of which it is estimated there are about 3.75 million in private hands. This state of affairs makes the U.S. the most weaponized modern society on the planet.

This weaponized status is not because most Americans want it this way. As President Obama has pointed out, multiple national polls have shown that most Americans want stricter gun control, but that seems not to matter. Why? Because most Americans are not sufficiently politically organized around this issue to out-lobby the minority who are – mostly in the form of the National Rifle Association (NRA). We are here referring to a rather fanatical, though culturally decisive, minority who define freedom as, first and foremost, the right to “pack” a firearm or two, or ten, ad infinitum. They errantly believe that somehow owning a gun (almost any gun) is “a birthright and an essential part of the nation’s heritage.” They expend much energy on misinterpreting the Second Amendment of the Constitution so as to allegedly prove their point. In other words, for these folks, being armed with a gun is a cornerstone of American culture. 

Isn’t this somehow a corruption of the democratic process? Shouldn’t that process demand that, in matters of national security (and this certainly is such a matter), the safety of the vast majority should prevail? Unfortunately this is not the American way of democratic politics. In truth the U.S. is not a democracy of individual citizens, but rather one of competing interest groups. The interest group that is the NRA is better funded and more politically influential than its opponents, and so, in the matter of gun legislation, it wins. And this is so despite the fact that its victories make society much more dangerous than it ought to be….

continue reading and follow links at To the Point Analyses

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Police Killed Nearly 1,000 Civilians in 2015

by Jared Keller, Pacific Standard, 12/29/15

Is there hope for next year?

Quintonio LeGrier was murdered on Saturday.

The 19-year-old engineering student was shot and killed by Chicago police officers, according to ABC 7 Chicago, after cops responded to a call around 4:30 a.m from LeGrier’s father saying his son was “acting crazy” and waving a baseball bat. LeGrier wasn’t the responding officers’ only victim; Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old anti-violence activist, mother of five, and LeGreir’s downstairs neighbor, was caught in the crossfire and killed. “An innocent lady got shot as well, because the police were trigger happy,” LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, told reporters. “I went to the hospital. My son has seven bullet holes in him.” Amid the subsequent public outrage, beleaguered Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has quickly called for police reform.

This is by now a tragically familiar story. As of December 24, police officers have fatally shot 965 Americans this year, according to a Washington Post tally. Of those 965, only 564 were armed with guns; about 90 were totally unarmed. While the Post found that white police officers shooting unarmed black men—incidents that have sparked ongoing protests in cities across the United States—represented fewer than four percent of total fatal police shootings in 2015, “Race remains the most volatile flash point in any accounting of police shootings,” the Post authors write. “Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year.”…

continue reading and follow links at Pacific Standard

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War