The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

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Brooklyn, December 8, 2015

There are retribution attacks against Muslims going on right now in a couple of isolated places in America. They are isolated, and no deaths yet.

These are being goaded on, in the far right-wing media, by an extremist ideologue named Donald Trump. He is the archetype of the Ugly American abroad. But this Ugly American has a global platform to broadcast a Nativist Capitalist Egoist extremist ideology: this is fascism, American-style. In broadcasting this extremist ideology, he is implicitly involved –– other Republican legislators are *explicitly involved* –– in inciting violence against Muslims, creating a favorable sales environment (as we like to say it in advertising) for ISIS.

Christians, especially, should recognize both the wisdom and the futility in the phase, “What goes around comes around.” These are not retribution attacks against Muslims, or Muslim-Americans. Not murders of black kids and murders of cops. These are attacks and counter-attacks against Americans. We must begin to perceive the terrorism we commit upon each other. ISIS wants us to be blindly enraged extremist ideologues just like them.

We look like we’re obliging them.

Have we, as Americans, truly had such a poor education that we cannot understand this?

Donald Trump’s supporters are themselves directly supported by fear and the feeling of failure. It’s written into Trump’s slogan. They are formed of white men aggrieved, frightened into their small cultural ball, assaulted on all sides by forces of economics, religion, sexuality, gender, race, culture and violence – all projected to them in extremis, by a propaganda organ called Fox News.

When those fears, and those feelings of failure, are vectored toward minorities, toward refugees of war, toward the weak in society, violence is an inevitable consequence.

Americans do terrorism upon themselves. That is the lesson of the San Bernardino terrorists. It is the lesson of the Charleston church murderer and the Planned Parenthood killer and the college shooters and all the rest.

Donald Trump is creating an environment for terrorism to escalate. The leading candidate for the Republican nomination is willfully endangering U.S. national security and the security of innocent American civilians.

 

Talk about voting against your own self-interest.

“A National Strategic Narrative”: A guidebook for America in the 21st Century

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Here’s something you probably haven’t read.

In 2011, two members of the U.S. military, pseudonymed “Mr. Y,” wrote this analysis for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. They advocate increasing American competitiveness by adopting a progressive stance in economic, foreign and political policy. It’s doubly relevant today as it was in 2011.

View / download a PDF of A National Strategic Narrative

LET THIS BE A LESSON.

The Huffington Post is now claiming that BP – whose stock has fallen to a 14-year low – is now worth less than the total value of its assets. The article is completely skimpy on the details of the headline, of course, but it’s possible that “the company might be forced to suspend dividends, end up in bankruptcy and find itself overwhelmed by the cleanup costs, penalties, damage claims and lawsuits generated by the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.”

SO LET THIS BE A LESSON to be written in every textbook, and every case study, presented in the Business Schools of the world: if you adopt a cavalier attitude to the environment, if you narrowly and ruthlessly pursue profit with insouciant disregard for safety, IT COULD END YOU.

BP: “…And You? Shut Up.”

We were wondering why today’s New York Times has nothing about the oil spill – excepting this below-the-fold gem about how BP has already spent $1 billion in cleanup costs. Luckily, the Village Voice provides the reason: BP’s ever-so-wonderful CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT. Obtained by the incredible bloggers over at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Powering a Nation, this awesome document says that fishermen hired by the company that destroyed their livelihoods cannot talk to the press, or else forfeit their boats (you know, the only way they have to make a living). Charming, but heck — that’s business. Read the lowdown on this hoedown here.

BP Knew Long Before, and Did Nothing

Internal documents from BP show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.” And as far back as 11 months ago, the company was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.

On June 22, 2009, for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal well casing that the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP, warned in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.”

The company went ahead with the casing, but only after getting special permission from BP colleagues because the casing violated the company’s own safety policies and design standards. The internal reports do not explain why the company allowed for an exception to its guidelines. BP documents released last week to The Times revealed that company officials knew the casing was the riskier of two options.

Read more at The New York Times.

The Evil That Men Do Lives Long After Them

…because we hath forsaken our government and our government hath forsaken the land. Sorry to get all biblical on y’all, but – are you ready for the latest revelation?

The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf. Those approvals, federal records show, include one for the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The Minerals Management Service, or M.M.S., also routinely overruled its staff biologists and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and the environmental impact of certain drilling proposals in the gulf and in Alaska, according to a half-dozen current and former agency scientists.

Those scientists said they were also regularly pressured by agency officials to change the findings of their internal studies if they predicted that an accident was likely to occur or if wildlife might be harmed.

“M.M.S. has given up any pretense of regulating the offshore oil industry,” said Kierán Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group in Tucson, which filed notice of intent to sue the agency over its noncompliance with federal law concerning endangered species. “The agency seems to think its mission is to help the oil industry evade environmental laws.”

Responding to the accusations that agency scientists were being silenced, Ms. Barkoff added, “Under the previous administration, there was a pattern of suppressing science in decisions, and we are working very hard to change the culture and empower scientists in the Department of the Interior.”

Read the full article in The New York Times.

DAY TWO: Email Leak Sets Small Nation Fuse

As if the Copenhagen climate talks weren’t complicated enough, a new email leak is causing a rift between the world’s biggest polluters and developing nations. The ‘Danish Text‘ as it’s being called, appears to be a draft of a secret agreement among the US, UK, and Denmark to form a ‘circle of commitment’ that would empower specific nations to steer climate agreements, sidelining the powers of the United Nations. The agreement would scrap the Kyoto treaty and hand control of climate change finance to the World Bank.

The largest polluters in the world are the US, China, and India, and many developing nations feel as though they should shoulder the financial burden of greenhouse gas reductions so that their nations can continue modernizing.

Meanwhile, nations with heavy oil interests like Saudi Arabia are voicing opposition to meaningful policy changes, pointing to a recent leek of emails that show a handful of scientists sharing ‘graphical tricks’ to brush over holes in their data. Although the hacked emails are from a small number of scientists in a community of over ten thousand, they have become an important but lonely talking point for the opposition.

Professor Phil Jones, director of the Norwich-based University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU), has stepped down from his post over the incident. Meanwhile, some environmentalists have their own conspiracy theory, believing a computer server in Siberia related to the incident implicates Russia as a conspirator behind the hacked emails.

Huh.

ANDREW C. REVKIN writes for the New York Times:

Some prominent climate scientists are calling for changes in the way research on global warming is conducted after a British university said thousands of private e-mail messages and documents had been stolen from its climate center.

The scientists say that the e-mail messages, which have circulated on the Internet and which disclose the inner workings of a small network of climatologists who chart the planet’s temperature, have damaged the public’s trust in the evidence that humans are dangerously warming the planet, just as many countries are poised to start reining in greenhouse gas emissions.

“This whole concept of, ‘We’re the experts, trust us,’ has clearly gone by the wayside with these e-mails,” said Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology.

read more at the New York Times

There is a fissure growing in the western world between those who believe in global warming and those who don’t. This divide between science and living has only widened in my lifetime, and the stakes are much higherr than dating dinosaur footprints. We as a people don’t ask ourselves how our plumbing works, electricity, internet, phone, almost nothing. We live surrounded by name brand magic, and if we don’t start understanding how the essentials of our lives actually work, we risk being slaves to uncertain and unsustainable conveniences.

In this case, we have a number of scientists looking at a  questions surrounding climate change, and rather than pursuing answers rigorously, focused  more on public perception. They had data that needed deeper analysis, but a handful of scientists shared ideas on sweeping it underneath a graphical rug.

Now there is a growing chorus of folks claiming the existence of a global wide conspiracy among scientists to fool us all into believing in climate change. It is my personal opinion that the evidence supporting global warming is just as hard and solid as a multitude of scientific phenomenon we would never question such as gravity and lightning. In those two cases, we don’t fully understand either, but we do know you should NOT stand under a metal tree during a thunderstorm, and astronauts wisely never leave their shuttle without a tether.

Yes there is a lot more for science to discover about gravity, lightning, and climate change, but the over whelming evidence of all three is very real.

So this time, I advise you to look at the last 800,000 years and use your own common sense. 


This Time, We’re Here to Compete!

It feels as though every time America sends our top folks to climate talks, we wind up being the villains in the most popular speeches. This time we actually have something to talk about. While every major news network raved about the first lady’s dress, our President most probably secured the most significant agreements with China and India. That’s right, for those of us who believe in pragmatic science, our nation might finally be kicking man made climate  change.

I am 29 soon to be 30 years old. I have believed in global warming since I was 11 years old, and it wasn’t programmed. My parents are conservatives who encouraged me to read real science, because I was interested, and it didn’t take long before I came to the conclusion we were in trouble. Over the next 18 years I witnessed the proofs for the most terrifying hypothesis.  I think a lot of us have.  Five years ago, just three years after moving to New York City, I was able to experience a 68 degree New Years roof top celebration. It’s December, and it was almost 60 degrees the other day.

My home state of Maine has seen serious changes since my childhood as well, but what I want to convey isn’t panic, it’s hope.

Our president is the first in US history to actually doing something significant about this issue. It isn’t enough, but it is such a stark change it fills me with hope. Our country has been kicked in the nuts by it’s own financial policies, but that doesn’t change what we face. A few climate change scientists sent each other terribly unprofessional emails, they admitted to glossing over difficult data, but under no pragmatic review did they discredit a plethora of convincing data. The acts of those dozens of scientists makes me as angry as anyone, but that doesn’t change the principles of science. It makes them more important. Politically, we are fortunate in this nation to have such a swell constitution to protect our rights, but the whole world is equally fortunate to have the principals of science, born from the middle east, and beautifully pragmatic after more than a thousand years to protect our well being.

Many generations ago, people died or were imprisoned for these principals of logic, and they are humanity’s last hope. Our modern age may complicate the mater with media and politics, but those same two elements empower all of us to influence the outcome. Today the EPA took a major step in pinpointing dangerous elements amongst our energy policy, but it’s up to all of us to pressure congress to follow suit. This is democracy for a reason, we need to contribute because if we aren’t willing, we aren’t deserving. That’s the flip side of having a voice, you need to use it now more than ever.

Don’t take my word for it. Go and look at the science. Take a simple look at the weather in the world. Just google a country and look at the last 300 years. Look at the last 1300 years. Use your common sense. Take a look at the ice caps melt in stop motion, or take a minute and think what the weather was growing up, and how your parents described it as they grew up.

That’s why you should, if you believe as such, spend two minutes (click here) and find the email address of your representative in congress and tell them you are paying attention. Tell them you believe clear policy changes in regards of dangerous emissions is needed to support a  change toward renewable resources and more efficient energy, and that come re-election time you will remember how they act.

We have been here again and again. We need to wise up. Look at history, and stop being it’s victim.

Heck, just write the president. Tell him to earn that Nobel in Copenhagen by skipping his speech and staking his political cash on our nation’s future with a global agreement in Copenhagen..

A New Gold Standard

Since WWII, what would you guess was the bloodiest war on this planet? Darfur? Korea? Nope, it’s in the Congo. The toll is an estimated 5 million lives, and a lot of folks are reminded of the similar crimes comited for blood diamonds. The next logical thought should be, can we curb this violence as we have by tracking the source of this valuable commodity?

Click here to watch a preview from 60 minutes as it takes a look at one of modern histories most horrific war.

Low Lying Fruit

Scientists have been scrambling and spending in an effort to create a miracle cure to our addiction to plastic, with some small signs of progress. Yet the one thing they forgot to do, was check for low lying fruit.

Sometimes solutions lie right below your feet. That’s why a sixteen year old American went to a garbage dump in search of the magic bullet microbe, but he didn’t stop there.

Probably inspired by the recently deceased taco bell chihuahua, he bread himself a plastic gobbler of epic proportions.