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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

07.01 New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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Daily: FAIR Blog
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

Justice Matters

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

High Crimes
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  Happy Hour: Breaking the Spell of Power
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Happy Hour: Breaking the Spell of Power

by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Yesterday, Arthur Silber pointed us to a most learned Theban with an observation apt for inauguration day:

You're living in a world of make-believe, with flowers and bells and leprechauns and magic frogs with funny little hats. -- Homer Simpson, Ph.D., M.D., Psy.D., D.O., D.S.W., Ed.D., D.C.M., D.Min., J.D., D.C.H., from his seminal work, Meditations on the Transmigrational Nature of Perambulating Observances (sometimes referred to more informally as, Don't Bullshit a Bullshitter.)

And pat as you please, this morning Britons (and assorted exiles and expats) picked up their Guardians to find this splashed under banner headlines on the front page:

Today a magic spell will be performed. A man who 12 weeks ago was a mere political candidate will be transformed with the incantation of a few words, before a vast crowd and a television audience in the hundreds of millions if not billions, into the head of state, even the embodiment, of the most powerful nation on earth.

This was written by an honest-to-god adult person, the ever-savvy, hardnosed international journalist Jonathan Freedman. Would it be a stretch to say that it is precisely this kind of thinking -- the awed and tingly verklemptitude toward those who have clawed and gnawed their way into the bowels of power -- that has led us into so many murderous disasters and criminal actions down through the many, many years?

What would happen if we simply treated all of these greasy pole climbers as ordinary human beings -- "poor, bare, forked animals" like the rest of us -- instead of turning them into fantasy figures imbued with embodiment and magic and goodness? The only extraordinary thing about them -- their craving for dominion over others -- is the very thing that should most repulse us, and make us wary, not draw us to them with awe, loyalty and affection. In all else, they share our common imperfections. Why then not judge them by what they actually do -- not by what they embody, not by how wiggly it makes us feel to surrender our minds and wills and judgments to a fantasy -- and hold them accountable for their actions in the real world?

Or to put it more in the academic language of Professors Simpson and Silber: since we're all bullshitters, why do we buy their bullshit?

II.

That said, I am not unmindful of the symbolic significance of Obama's ascension, especially for African-Americans. (Of course, there is another kind of symbolism at work here: the fact that a black man was finally allowed to be president only after the country has essentially been burned down, looted and left in ruins.) On this topic, I have little to add to what I said when he won the Democratic nomination:

The symbolic significance of Obama Barack's nomination victory is not insubstantial. In a land where, not so long ago, having the slightest drop of "Negro blood" in your genetic inheritance was enough to bar you -- legally and formally -- from many jobs, educational opportunities, places of residence, medical care, full participation in society, etc. (and where these obstacles still persist, in practice if not in law, for many people), it is striking to see a man whose father was not only black but also a "full-blooded African" (cue the psychosexual "Mandingo" anxieties of generations of trembly white folk) on the doorstep of the White House. At the very least -- until the novelty wears off (and novelty wears off very, very quickly in America)-- if Obama wins the presidency, there will be some aesthetic relief in seeing a different kind of face on the tee-vee mouthing various pieties, refusing to take any options off the table, etc., in place of the long procession of pasty white males of Northern European descent.

As for the substantial significance of Obama's nomination win, there is none. The only thing that really matters is what the human being named Barack Obama will do with power (if he gets it), and not his skin color. Or to put it another way: What difference did Colin Powell's status as a non-white person in the highest cabinet office make when the question of aggressive war was on the line? None. He was later replaced not only by another non-white person, but by a non-white female, Condi Rice. What difference did Rice's ethnicity and gender make to her collusion with the Bush faction's brutal policies of aggressive war, torture, rendition, state terror, etc.? None.

The salient point of this truly degrading campaign has always been: what will the winner do in office?

Now we will find out -- although by his appoinments and his pronouncements, Obama has already given us a pretty good idea of what he will do: more of the same, with minor mitigations around the edges, and better PR. For example, what was one of his last acts before assuming the presidency? Heaping effusive praise on one of the primary enablers of the massive war crime in Iraq, which has led to the slaughter of more than one million innocent people, the dispossession of four million people, and a lifetime of anguish, suffering and sorrow for many millions more. Here's what he said about Colin Powell, at a gala dinner to honor the old war criminal:

“It’s easy to slip into superlatives when you talk about Colin Powell,” Mr. Obama said, going on to speak of Mr. Powell’s “quiet, remarkably consistent loyalty to a set of principles: truth, loyalty and determination.”

This, for a man who knowingly and deliberately peddled warmongering lies before the entire world in "proving" the WMD case against Iraq at the UN. His "principles," his "loyalty to truth." If Obama begins his presidency with this kind of egregious bullshit, honoring an accomplice to mass murder (who, incidentally, began his long career as a fixer by trying to help cover up the mass murder at My Lai), then God only knows what fresh hell awaits in the years to come.

III.

"But c'mon, give the guy a chance! He's just getting started!"

That is certainly a common refrain. And as it happens, we've also addressed that point here as well, in a follow-up to the nomination piece noted above. I'd like to quote a good bit of that follow-up, because I think it bears repeating on this auspicious occasion. From "Like Trees Walking": Obama and the Vision Thing [see original for links]:

Last week, I wrote a piece on Barack Obama's victory in the race for the Democratic nomination: "Degrees of Significance." This has elicited a comment from a long-time reader whose views I respect; I'd like to respond at some length, because I think he brings up an important issue. ...Here is the comment:

Chris...if you write off Obama before he's even achieved the presidency, you might as well pack it in. Because then it's all just pissing in the wind, isn't it? There's no hope of change, there's no hope of America becoming better, there's no hope of anything changing and we're all on the slippery slope to extinction. After struggling in the mire of corruption for so long you've lost (understandably) perspective. Take a short break, go somewhere nice and quiet, don't read newspapers, the internet or watch TV. Then have another look.

I'm not "writing Obama off" -- whatever that means. I'm just looking at what he is actually saying, his actual positions, and what he has actually done -- and not done -- in the U.S. Senate. In the previous post, I noted a long list of actions -- both substantive and symbolic -- that Obama could have already taken from his position of national power, then I concluded: "But he did not do so; he is not doing so now; and there is no reason to believe that he will do so in the future, despite the eloquent lip service he occasionally pays to one or two of these points."

Of course, I can't predict the future. Anything is possible, and perhaps Obama will astound us all with a new American revolution that will restore the Republic and dismantle the vast military empire America has built over many decades. Perhaps he will declare an end to the "War on Terror" -- the use of massive, nation-breaking military force, state terror, torture, rendition, secret prisons, concentration camps, and Constitution-stripping tyranny -- to deal with isolated groups of extremists that pose no existential threat to the United States. Perhaps he will establish a "Truth Commission" to investigate and prosecute the many high crimes of the Bush Administration. Perhaps he will change his position on Iraq, and call for a genuine withdrawal of all American forces there. Perhaps he will change his bellicose position on Iran, which he enunciated so forcefully to AIPAC recently. Perhaps he will forthrightly condemn the American-backed "regime change" invasion of Somalia, which has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world (outside of Asia's recent natural disasters). Perhaps instead of stoking fears about the non-existent "Social Security crisis" -- and attending to the many Wall Street bankers and elitist lobbyists on his team -- he will call for the repeal of the draconian Bankruptcy Bill, he will shift billions of dollars from the Pentagon to the rebuilding of New Orleans and the restoration of the thousands upon thousands of refugees to their homes. Perhaps he will do all these things, and more -- even though he has not given the slightest indication whatsoever that this is what he would do in office.

Rather, in many cases, the opposite is true. He says he will do "everything, and I mean everything" to stop Iran from getting a single nuclear bomb like the thousands in the American arsenal and the hundreds in Israel's arsenal. He will take "no options" off the table in this feverish quest, including, one can only assume, the Hillary-like "obliteration" of Iran and its 70 million people. He has pledged to enlarge the American military machine, already gorged to monstrous, unmanageable size by blood and corruption. This in turn will guarantee the continued militarization of the American economy and our foreign policy, geared toward the continual fomenting of "war and rumors of war" to justify the all-devouring machine.  He pledges to continue the "War on Terror," but to do it "better, smarter," and perhaps even expanding it into Pakistan. He pledges to leave behind an unspecified number of American troops in Iraq "and the region" -- forces that will continue to launch attacks in that broken land, sowing more hatred, more blowback for America.

These are simply facts, drawn from Obama's own speeches and position papers. What sort of "perspective" should we take toward these facts? Should we squint real hard and pretend they're not there?

....The commenter also gives voice to a sentiment that seems to be widely held out there: namely, that if we harsh the buzz about Obama, then "there's no hope of change, there's no hope of America becoming better, there's no hope of anything changing and we're all on the slippery slope to extinction."

I confess that I don't quite understand this. There is always hope of America becoming better, there is always hope for positive change. But that hope does not reside -- and has never resided -- in a single politician, or party, or faction. It resides in every individual citizen: in what they think and believe, in what they will accept and countenance, in what they will not stand for, in what they will work for. Hope resides in the amount of knowledge and truth and insight that we can all produce and disseminate and act upon. And hope depends on our ability -- and our willingness -- to confront reality as it is, to deal with our leaders and would-be leaders as they are, not as we wish them to be. For how can you change anything if you cannot see it clearly?


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published on January 20, 2009.

 



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