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Monday, January 21, 2019

Langevin calls climate change a threat to national security

Langevin & Smith Slam Trump Half-Baked Climate Change Report

Image result for climate change and US militaryCongressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) issued a statement following the release of a Department of Defense report on climate change. 

Langevin amended the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, and Chairman Smith fought for the amendment’s inclusion in the final conference report, expressing the sense of Congress that climate change is a national security issue and requiring the report on each service branch’s top ten military installations threatened by climate change:

“I am deeply disappointed in the cursory report released by the Department of Defense regarding climate change as a matter of national security. While the Pentagon does rightly acknowledge that a changing climate will affect military readiness and installations, the report does not reflect the urgency of the challenge,” said Congressman Langevin. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Dr. King’s dream of economic justice far from reality

And as Trump stirs up racism, progress on civil rights is stalled
Image result for Martin Luther King and economic justiceJanuary 15th marked what would’ve been Dr. Martin Luther King’s 90th birthday.

Most known for his famous “I Have Dream Speech,” King envisioned a future in which deep racial inequalities — including deep economic inequality — was eradicated. He worked tirelessly towards that mission.

Over 50 years after his assassination, sensational media stories have focused heavily on the black unemployment rate, which has reached historic lows.

President Trump was quick to claim credit for this improvement last year, tweeting: “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” (The rapper had recently criticized the president for a racist statement about African countries.)

VIDEO: Trump started to make a fool of himself over Russia YEARS before Russiagate

To watch this video of Donald Trump meeting an impostor posing as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on YouTube:
This took place in 1988

Collusion delusion

Pic of the Moment

VIDEO Hint to Charlestown: a way to deal with old quarries

Solar and wind energy projects expected to offset 100 percent of Brown’s on-campus electricity use

A former sand and gravel mining site in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, will be transformed into 240 acres of solar arrays capable of generating 50 megawatts of direct current.Stephen Crocker / Brown University

As a major part of a campus-wide effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Brown University has finalized agreements for two renewable energy projects that are expected to produce enough combined solar and wind power to offset all on-campus electricity use.

The first project — a collaboration with Constellation, a national competitive energy provider, and Providence-based Energy Development Partners (EDP) — will create Rhode Island’s highest-capacity contiguous solar generation project across a 240-acre field on a former gravel pit in North Kingstown.

The 50-megawatt (DC) solar facility is expected to deliver 40 megawatts of converted AC power to the electrical grid. And use of the former gravel pit will avoid any encroachment on neighborhoods or large-scale tree-clearing, two quality-of-life and environmental concerns commonly associated with new renewable projects.

The North Kingstown project is expected to produce enough electricity to offset about 70 percent of Brown’s annual electricity consumption generated through fossil fuels. 

A second renewable energy project, an 8-megawatt wind power project being developed in Texas with another energy services provider, is expected to produce enough electricity to offset the rest of Brown’s annual use.

Eating and survival

We can't feed the world eating the way we eat now

The way many of us were brought up
The way we eat and grow food has to dramatically change if we're going to feed the world's increasing population by 2050 and protect the planet, according to a major report released today from the EAT-Lancet Commission.

"Civilisation is in crisis. We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources," wrote the commission, which was a three-year project and is comprised of 37 scientists from around the globe. 

"For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of synchronisation with the planet and nature."

The authors say reconnecting with nature is the key in turning around unsustainable agriculture and poor diets. 

If humans can "eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance of the planet's resources will be restored," they write. "The nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival."

Adding to the body count in Trump’s war on environmental health

Mercury regulations save 11,000 lives each year. Now, the EPA wants to weaken them.
smoke GIF by adampizurnyAt the New Year, the EPA gave families a deadly present to start the year off wrong.

On December 28, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal that would effectively weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which protect American families from mercury and other harmful air pollutants emitted by power plants.

The EPA “proposes to determine that it is not ‘appropriate and necessary’ to regulate” these emissions, the EPA wrote in a statement. This means that the regulations will lose the necessary legal mechanism that actually enables them to actually be enforced.

These regulations save a lot of lives — 11,000 every year, according to the EPA’s own data — and they prevent 130,000 asthma attacks annually. Stripping this regulatory power virtually guarantees more asthma attacks and more preventable deaths.

For families, those aren’t just numbers.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Extraordinary Political Myths

How childish belief masquerades as folk wisdom and warps our politics. 
In a previous column, I described how the Republican Party’s Bad Ideas-Industrial Complex churns out an endless stream of pernicious policy ideas.

But that invites a question: how did these ideas get so much traction among ordinary Americans who are being harmed by them?

As Kurt Andersen exhaustively describes in his book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, America has always been fertile soil for silly or crank beliefs. 

And given the whole “common man” rigmarole that has become an integral part of the national creed, every manner of unfounded belief that wouldn’t survive three seconds’ analysis has become folk wisdom or bogus “common sense.”

I remember some of them from the halcyon days of the 1950s. Quite a few people didn’t believe in the efficacy of seatbelts in automobiles. I recall more than one person pontificating that it would be safer to be “thrown clear of the wreck.” What, through the windshield?

Another bit of wisdom was high school coaches sternly lecturing their football players not to drink water (it would make you sick) during strenuous practice on a hot August afternoon. I have no idea how many youths died of heat exhaustion aggravated by dehydration.

Movies invariably showed badly injured soldiers getting immediate first aid in the form of someone sticking a lit cigarette in their kisser. Just the thing for a sucking chest wound! Back then, doctors knew that Camels were good for your T-Zone.

Such beliefs have always existed; the difference was that for most of our history, the credulous were not as organized and regimented as they now are by Fox News. When business interests exploited ignorance, it certainly could be dangerous, as was the case with tobacco and the imbecile fad of x-raying feet at the shoe store. But it was socially dispersed, random, and had less systemic effect on the operation of our political system.

Lucky 22

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.

Lock him up

Pic of the Moment

Danger sign

Oceans are warming even faster than previously thought
ocean sunset GIF by Living StillsHeat trapped by greenhouse gases is raising ocean temperatures faster than previously thought, concludes an analysis of four recent ocean-heating observations. The results provide further evidence that earlier claims of a slowdown or “hiatus” in global warming over the past 15 years were unfounded.

“If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley and co-author of the paper. “Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought.”

Ocean heating is critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 percent of the excess solar energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the world’s oceans. And, unlike surface temperatures, ocean temperatures are not affected by year-to-year variations caused by climate events like El Nino or volcanic eruptions.

EPA Approves Treating Orange Groves With Antibiotics

Move Could Reduce the Effectiveness of Drugs Used to Combat Human Diseases   
By Sarah Okeson

furze chan food eat orange fruit GIFThe Trump EPA recently approved spraying orange groves with an antibiotic used to treat a common sexually-transmitted disease. The move increases the risk that the antibiotic, oxytetracycline, might eventually not work to treat chlamydia and other human diseases.

People have until Feb. 4 to request hearings or raise objections about residue from this antibiotic on oranges and other citrus fruits.

“Researchers have been telling us for decades to curb the use of antibiotics in agriculture or risk losing them forever,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration has chosen to ignore the science and blindly sprint down a path that could dead-end at bacterial resistance.”

Oxytetracycline and similar antibiotics work by interfering with the ability of bacteria to grow and multiply. Florida orange growers have used the drug and another antibiotic, streptomycin, on an emergency basis against citrus greening, a disease with no cure that stunts the growth of oranges.

The cost of bad conduct

Banks, Big Pharma, Wal-Mart Rank High for Penalties in Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Cases
Good Jobs First 

Related imageA new report on employment discrimination and sexual harassment cases finds that major banks rank high among those big companies that have paid the most in damages and settlements.

Bank of America (including its subsidiary Merrill Lynch) has paid a total of $210 million since 2000, more than any other big company.

Morgan Stanley ranks fourth at $150 million and Wells Fargo ranks ninth at $68 million.
The financial services industry overall has paid a total of $530 million in penalties. The retail sector has paid the same amount, so the two industries have the dubious distinction of being tied for first place.

These findings, based on an extensive examination of court records, are contained in Big Business Bias: Employment Discrimination and Sexual Harassment at Large Corporations published today by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. It is available at

Friday, January 18, 2019

Trump shutdown hurts real people

Unemployment is low, but federal employees are lining up at food banks. They aren’t alone.

Image result for Trump shutdownAs the government shutdown drags on, the image of federal workers lining up at food pantries has dramatized just how many workers live financially close to the edge.

By one estimate, almost 80 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck. Miss one check and you’re taking a second look at what’s in the back of the pantry cupboard.

From federal prison guards in small towns to airline safety inspectors in major cities, the partial government shutdown has forced 800,000 federal workers — and many contractors, too — to survive without a paycheck.

The shutdown is a Trump-made disaster, with an estimated 420,000 “essential workers” required to show up for work without a paycheck. They have full-time responsibilities, which makes finding another part-time job nearly impossible.

Another 380,000 federal workers have been furloughed, including Coast Guard employees that are being encouraged to take on babysitting gigs and organize garage sales. They saw their last paycheck on December 22 and are scrambling to pay rent, mortgages, alimony, and credit card bills, let alone the groceries.

If it works for schools, why not the border?