Home » Posts tagged 'counterpunch'

Tag Archives: counterpunch

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase

The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed

The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed

This past week, on March 20, 2019, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell announced the US central bank would not raise interest rates in 2019. The Fed’s benchmark rate, called the Fed Funds rate, is thus frozen at 2.375% for the foreseeable future, i.e. leaving the central bank virtually no room to lower rates in the event of the next recession, which is now just around the corner.

The Fed’s formal decision to freeze rates follows Powell’s prior earlier January 2019 announcement that the Fed was suspending its 2018 plan to raise rates three to four more times in 2019. That came in the wake of intense Trump and business pressure in December to get Powell and the Fed to stop raising rates. The administration had begun to panic by mid-December as financial markets appeared in freefall since October. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, hurriedly called a dozen, still unknown influential big capitalists and bankers to his office in Washington the week before the Christmas holiday. With stock markets plunging 30% in just six weeks, junk bond markets freezing up, oil futures prices plummeting 40%, etc., it was beginning to look like 2008 all over again. Public mouthpieces for the business community in the media and business press were calling for Trump to fire Fed chair Powell and Trump on December 24 issued his strongest threat and warning to Powell to stop raising rates to stop financial markets imploding further.

In early January, in response to the growing crescendo of criticism, Powell announced the central bank would adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude whether or not to raise rates further. The Fed’s prior announced plan, in effect during 2017-18, to raise rates 3 to 4 more times in 2019 was thus swept from the table. So much for perennial academic economist gibberish about central banks being independent! Or the Fed’s long held claim that it doesn’t change policy in response to developments in financial markets!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests

Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Violence is a spectacular weapon deployed by the ruling class to discredit movements from below and justify their repression. It is spectacular in the sense of being a great and powerful political tool for governing the masses, and keeping them in their place. In order to do this, however, the weapon of violence is spectacularin a second sense: it creates a carefully orchestrated mise en scène that seeks to render ruling class violence invisible, while simultaneously transforming acts of resistance into prodigious spectacles of criminal violence.

This is how Act 18 of the Yellow Vests is currently being presented by the mass media: at the precise moment at which the government was concluding its democratic consultation of the people via Emmanuel Macron’s “Grand Débat,” the Yellow Vests have unleashed an inordinate amount of violence that now needs to be repressed in the strongest possible terms. The president of the Champs-Elysées Committee, Jean-Noël Reinhardt, declared in an interview in which he is surrounded by the microphones of many of the major press outlets, that the movement is no longer one of the Yellow Vests, but rather of Black Vests that simply “express hatred and the will to destroy.” Proclaiming that this situation cannot be allowed to continue because of its impact on commercial and tourist activity, as well as its defamation of the global symbol of the Champs-Élysées, his statement bleeds seamlessly into the declaration made by the Prime Minster, Édouard Philippe: new measures will be put in place to prohibit protests in certain locations and allow for even more aggressive police crackdowns.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Failing Students on Climate Change

Failing Students on Climate Change

Photograph Source Leonhard Lenz

Last Friday hundreds of thousands of students around the globe walked out of classrooms to demand that our political leaders take concrete steps to address the deadly threat of climate change. They are right, of course, that the generations of their elders, from millennials to baby boomer grandparents, have failed in our responsibility to preserve a livable future for our ever more crowded, ever more polluted and ever more endangered planet.

And while that’s a sad statement to make, it is an undeniable truth and a shameful guilt that should cause every one of the “elders” to think long and hard about whether they’re making the world better or worse for our young people.

The movement, characterized by various identifiers such as #fridaysforfuture#schoolstrike4climate and #climatestrike, is vast and growing. The strikes by young people staring an unlivable future in the face are now massive, but were inspired by a 16-year old Swede, Greta Thunberg, who has now been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As Thunberg famously addressed the United Nations climate conference in Poland earlier this year: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Truer words were never spoken. Just look at what these young people are up against. Here in the United States, the second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the world, we have a president who not only doesn’t believe 97 percent of the world’s scientists who acknowledge human-caused climate change, he demands that we exert “energy dominance” by drilling, fracking, pumping and burning more fossil fuels than any nation on the planet.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

According to CNN Business, “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struggle to deal with New Zealand shooting video.”

“Deal with” is code for “censor on demand by governments and activist organizations who oppose public access to information that hasn’t first been thoroughly vetted for conformity to their preferred narrative.”

Do you really need to see first-person video footage of an attacker murdering 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand?

Maybe not. Chances are pretty good you didn’t even want to. I suspect that many of us who did (I viewed what appeared to be a partial copy before YouTube deleted it) would rather we could un-see it.

But whether or not we watch it should be up to us, not those governments and activists. Social media companies should enable our choices, not suppress our choices at the censors’ every whim.

If Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube had been primary news sources in 1915, would they have permitted us to view footage  (rare, as film was in its early days)  of New Zealanders’ desperate fight at Gallipoli?

How about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

The assassination of president John F. Kennedy?

The second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

Lucinda Creighton of the Counter Extremism Project complains to CNN that the big social media firms aren’t really “cooperating and acting in the best interest of citizens to remove this content.”

The CEP claims that it “counter[s] the narrative of extremists” and  works to “reveal the extremist threat.”  How does demanding that something be kept hidden “counter” or “reveal” it? How is it in “the best of interest of citizens” to only let those citizens see what Lucinda Creighton thinks they should be allowed to see?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

To Clean Up the Planet, Clean Up DC First

To Clean Up the Planet, Clean Up DC First

Raw log export docks, Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

For decades, majorities of Americans have favored swift, meaningful action on climate change. They understand that we must transition away from dirty fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Yet despite this overwhelming support, Congress has repeatedly failed to act.

This jarring disconnect between what the public wants to see and what Washington is prepared to deliver doesn’t just threaten the health and safety of everyone in our country — it undermines the very principle of representative democracy.

The reason that Congress hasn’t acted is an open secret.

Follow the trail of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from corporate polluters over the years, and you’ll find countless lawmakers who’ve worked to block action on climate change. The special interests that are hostile to our environment have designed a sophisticated toolkit for furthering their narrow agenda, while avoiding accountability.

This assault on our democracy must end.

That’s why the new House majority passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act — a bold suite of reforms that will transform our government and our political system for the better.

Every provision of the bill is guided by one overarching imperative: restore the power and the voice of Americans who for too long have felt locked out of their own democracy.

First, H.R. 1 will push back hard against the influence of big money in our politics. That means bringing more transparency to the world of campaign finance so that polluters can no longer use shadowy organizations to hide their political spending.

In addition, by building a new system of citizen-owned elections that amplifies the power of small donors, H.R. 1 will reduce the financial influence of PACs and big corporations. The result will be environmental policy made for the public interest, not the interests of the fossil fuel industry.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

I Love the Green New Deal But …

I Love the Green New Deal But …

Ever since our first ancestor lit a fire, humans have been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Add to that the first herder because ruminants are another large emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG).

Some people want to declare a national emergency and ban fossil fuels within ten years. How? I am for it and all ready to go. But please tell me how. Think of the quarter billion vehicles in the U.S. and the infrastructure supporting them; the myriad gas stations and repair shops and the people employed in them; the thousands of miles of domestic gas pipelines to homes using gas stoves and gas heating. Think of the restructuring, the replacement, the energy required, the megatons of metal and other materials used and their production which all require one thing — energy. And what about air travel and the shipping industry?

What of the millions of jobs lost? Think of the jobholders and their families. Most of these workers cannot switch skills overnight. These are not just the million and a half employed in the industry directly, but include gas company employees, your gas furnace repair and maintenance man, the people building furnaces, gas stoves, the auto repair infrastructure — electric motors of course are darned reliable and need attention only to brakes, tire rotation and battery coolant checks for the most part — and so on.

When you offer this laundry list, the response is likely to be, “Well I didn’t mean that.” In effect, it defines the problem with the Green New Deal: It is remarkably short on the ‘whats’ and especially the ‘hows’. Funny though I first searched for the Green New Deal at Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (whose courage I admire greatly) official web page and surprisingly found … well nothing. Why not something practical like mandating solar collectors on new homes constructed?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nuclear Powers Need to Disarm Before It’s Too Late

Nuclear Powers Need to Disarm Before It’s Too Late

Photograph Source United States Department of Energy

The recent military clash between India and Pakistan underscores the need for the major nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France — finally to move toward fulfilling their obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Treaty’s purpose was not simply to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but to serve as a temporary measure until Article VI could take effect: the “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The 191 countries that signed the NPT — the most widely subscribed nuclear treaty on the planet — did so with the understanding that the major powers would de-nuclearize. But in the 50 years since the Treaty was negotiated, the nuclear powers have yet to seriously address eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

While over the years the Americans and the Russians have reduced the number of warheads in their arsenals, they — along with China — are currently in the midst of a major modernization of their weapon systems. Instead of a world without nuclear weapons, it is a world of nuclear apartheid, with the great powers making no move to downsize their conventional forces.

For non-nuclear armed countries, this is the worst of all worlds.

There Are No “Local” Nuclear Wars

The folly of this approach was all too clear in the recent India and Pakistan dustup. While both sides appear to be keeping the crisis under control, for the first time in a very long time, two nuclear powers that border one another exchanged air and artillery attacks.

While so far things have not gotten out of hand, both countries recently introduced military policies that make the possibility of a serious escalation very real.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Empire Unravelling: Will Huawei Become Washington’s Suez?

Empire Unravelling: Will Huawei Become Washington’s Suez?

Photograph Source Brücke-Osteuropa

America’s full-spectrum campaign against Chinese tech leader Huawei is coming spectacularly undone. Curtains are imminent for Washington’s tawdriest global offensive in recent memory – featuring open extortion, kidnapping, demonization and intimidation of both friends and foes.

The signs were apparent as early as two months ago, when many governments worldwide lukewarmly greeted US calls for a boycott of Huawei’s products and services. But explicit refusals in the past week by staunch American allies Germany, Britain and New Zealand, as well as NATO member Turkey, have all but sealed the deal. After all, hardly any country outside the US-dominated Empire is signing on.

Even 61% of CNN viewers thought the crackdown was motivated by politics, against 24% who believe Washington’s line on “protecting national security.” All that apparently persuaded POTUS Trump to tweet about winning the tech race with China “through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies.”

Washington’s stunning defeat stems from US leaders’ hidebound hubris, their utter inability to conceive of a world in which their country was no longer No. 1 in everything significant. Such navel-gazing put them to sleep, oblivious that history has marched past them in the form of China’s Huawei Technologies. The simple fact is – as Huawei boss Ren Zhengfei has been saying – the Chinese firm is far ahead of everyone else in the development of 5G. Any nation that doesn’t want to be left behind rolling out the game-changing, next-generation communications technology has little choice but to do business with Huawei. Moreover, without fanfare the company has taken a leading role in shaping the very rules of 5G, on a global basis. Like China itself, Huawei simply cannot be contained.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who will Displace the Omniciders?

Who will Displace the Omniciders?

Citizens challenging the towering threat of climate crisis should never underestimate the consequences of our dependence on fossil fuel corporations. Real engagement with the worsening climate disruption means spending more of our leisure hours on civic action. The fate of future generations and our planet depends on the intensity of these actions.

This was my impression after interviewing Dahr Jamail, author of the gripping new book, The End of Ice, on my Radio Hour. Jamail, wrote books and prize-winning articles, as the leading freelance journalist covering the Bush/Cheney Iraq war and its devastating aftermath. For his latest book, Jamail went to the visible global warming hot spots to get firsthand accounts from victims of climate disruption. His gripping reporting is bolstered by facts from life-long specialists working in the regions he visited.

Readers of The End of Ice are taken on a journey to see what is happening in Alaska, the mountain forests of California, the coral reefs of Australia, the heavily populated lowlands of South Florida, the critical Amazon forest, and other areas threatened by our corporate-driven climate crisis.

Jamail, an accomplished mountaineer, precisely illustrates the late great environmentalist, Barry Commoner’s first law of ecology. Namely, that “everything is connected to everything else.” Jamail makes the connection between the rising sea levels and the untold catastrophes engulfing forests, mountains, and the wildlife on land and in the sea. Jamail is not relying on computer models. What he is seeing, photographing, and experiencing is often worse than what the models show in terms of accelerating sea level rises and the melting ice of the glaciers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Start a Nuclear War

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Start a Nuclear War

In a matter of minutes, as easily as sending a tweet, a sitting U.S. president could decide to launch a nuclear attack, without anyone else’s approval or authorization. In a matter of minutes, millions of lives would be lost, and millions of futures halted permanently.

At my organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility, we believe that we must prevent what we can’t cure. And there’s no cure for a nuclear war.

No nation on earth, including the United States, would have an adequate emergency response in the event of a nuclear exchange. Most Americans don’t want us to ever engage in a nuclear war, and the vast majority of us certainly don’t want the United States to be the ones to start a nuclear war.

The United States, like every other nation, has a vested interest in avoiding a nuclear conflict.

Yet unlike other countries, we currently have no policy against starting a nuclear war — or what experts call a “No First Use” policy.

This opens the door to a possible preemptive nuclear strike. That weakens our national security, and it puts all our health and safety at risk — for a nuclear war no one (except maybe President Donald Trump and John Bolton) wants.

Luckily, some people in Congress are looking to change the reckless status quo. This year, Rep. Adam Smith and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation that would establish a “No First Use” policy for nuclear weapons in the United States.

“Our current nuclear strategy is not just outdated — it is dangerous,” said Smith and Warren. “By making clear that deterrence is the sole purpose of our arsenal, this bill would reduce the chances of a nuclear miscalculation and help us maintain our moral and diplomatic leadership in the world.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Glyphosate is Good for You and You are a POS for not Agreeing

Glyphosate is Good for You and You are a POS for not Agreeing

While having an interesting discussion on the concerns of Monsanto’s widely used biocide glyphosate, better known as Round Up, I stumbled onto a corporate land mine. I received a torrent of vulgar insults, veiled threats and a blistering critique of my reputation as an environmental biology and marine science instructor of nearly 34 years. A simple conversation with a student I had in class nearly 20 years escalated into exposing the playbook of big tobacco and chemical company fierce defenders.

I replied to a post about roundup, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide. I questioned if this known biocide, Roundup, that is now being found in beer and wine is indeed safe?

Yes: I understand that the levels of Roundup in beer and wine, were found in incredibly low concentrations, in parts per billion, significantly lower than the 1-300 ppm allowed by the EPA in food crops. I was just following along in this discussion. And: I do have genuine concerns about the safely of Roundup. A study in Environmental Sciences Europe documents a staggering amount of this biocide, 1.8 million tons of glyphosate, has be used since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4½million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. Now, homeowners can apply Glyphosate on their lawns, engineered to kill those weeks while our nation is literally awash in chemical poisons. Are we absolutely sure that Roundup does not cause cancer or disrupts crucial hormone messaging in our bodies? Having three grandchildren I worry. I worry a great deal. �Consider that Roundup use has exploded, with the onset of Roundup ready crops what are we putting into our soil and groundwater and foods?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Re-Inhabiting Planet Earth

Re-Inhabiting Planet Earth

“I believe that for a moment I thought the explosion might set fire to the atmosphere and thus finish the Earth, even though I knew that this was not possible.”

These words of Manhattan Project physicist Emilio Segre, quoted by Richard Rhodes in his book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, refer to the Trinity blast on July 16, 1945, at Alamogordo, N.M., the first atomic explosion in history and, so it appears, a turning point for all life on this planet.

The atmosphere didn’t catch fire at 5:30 that morning, but Segre’s words remain relevant, sort of like radioactive fallout. They encapsulate what may be history’s ultimate moment of human arrogance: the belief in a sense of separateness from and superiority to nature so thorough that we have, with our monstrous intelligence, the ability and therefore the right to play Bad God and make the whole planet go poof.

Turns out the Trinity test set into motion something even more profound than the nuclear era. The bomb didn’t just “defeat” Japan and define the Cold War, with its suicidal nuclear arms race. It is also, at least symbolically, marks the beginning of what has come to be known as the Anthropocene: an era of profound climate and “Earth system” destabilization caused by human activity and therefore, like it or not, establishing humans as co-equal participants in activity of the natural world.

There’s more to this “co-equal” status than nuclear weapons, of course. They may be the tip of our arrogance, but we’ve been exploiting and rearranging the planet for nearly 12,000 years, since the beginning of the era we are now leaving, the Holocene, an era of climate stability in which human civilization and all written history emerged.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As the World Burns: Hurtling Towards an Unlivable Planet

As the World Burns: Hurtling Towards an Unlivable Planet

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The media and political establishments are diddling while the planet burns.

Are we really supposed to take their games seriously as humanity veers ever more dangerously off the environmental cliff?

In 2008, James Hansen, then head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and seven other leading climate scientists reported that we would see “practically irreversible ice sheet and species loss” if the planet’s average temperature rose above 1°Celsius (C) thanks to carbon dioxide’s (CO2) presence in the atmosphere reaching 450 parts per million (ppm).

CO2 was at 385 ppm when this report came out.  It was “already in the dangerous zone,” Hansen and his team reported. They warned that deadly, self-reinforcing “feedbacks” could be triggered at this level.  The dire prospects presaged included “ice sheet disintegration, vegetation migration, and GHG [greenhouse gas] release from soils, tundra, or ocean sediments.” 

The only way to be assured of a livable climate, Hansen and his colleagues warned, would be to cut CO2 to at least 350 ppm.

Here we are eleven years later, well past Hansen’s 1°C red line. We’ve gotten there at 410 ppm, the highest level of CO2 saturation in 800,000 years. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest climate report reflects the consensus opinion of the world’s leading climate scientists.  It tells us that we are headed to 1.5°C in a dozen years.  Failure to dramatically slash Greenhouse Gassing between now and 2030 is certain to set off catastrophic developments for hundreds of millions of people, the IPCC warns.

The IPCC finds that we are headed at our current pace for 3-4°C by the end of century. That will mean a planet that is mostly unlivable.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Flirting With Disaster: the Return of Offshore Drilling

Flirting With Disaster: the Return of Offshore Drilling

Photograph by TheConduqtor

It’s been decades since a fisherman out of Montauk on Long Island told me about seeing a ship in the Atlantic Ocean east of Long Island similar to those he had seen searching for oil in the Gulf of Mexico when he was a shrimper there. I telephoned oil company after company and each gave a firm denial about having any interest in looking for petroleum off Long Island.

That was until a PR man from Gulf called back and said, yes, his company was looking for oil and gas off Long Island—and was involved in a consortium of 32 oil companies (many of which earlier issued denials).

It was my first experience in oil industry honesty—an oxymoron.

Then, after breaking the story as an investigative reporter for the daily Long Island Press about the oil industry seeking to drill in the offshore Atlantic, there were years of staying on the story. I traveled the Atlantic Coast including in 1971 getting onto the first off-shore drilling rig set up in the Atlantic, off Nova Scotia. The riskiness of offshore drilling was obvious on that rig. There were spherical capsules to eject workers in emergencies. And a rescue boat went round-and-round 24-hours-a-day. The man from Shell Canada said: “We treat every foot of hole like a potential disaster.”

You might recall seeing movies from years ago about oil drilling in the west and the drill hitting a “gusher” and it raining oil on happy workers. But on an offshore rig that “gusher” would be raining oil on the sea and life in it and then the oil would move to shore.

The Shell Canada executive gestured to the Nova Scotia shore and said peat moss was being stockpiled to try to absorb spilled oil. On Long Island, he said, “you’d use straw.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another War for Oil on the Agenda? Thank Ted Cruz

Another War for Oil on the Agenda? Thank Ted Cruz

Very important identical bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House in late February, but you’ve likely not heard of them – even though they could literally blow up the Middle East and take the world much closer to World War III.

On February 26, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) introduced a bill asserting U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in Syria – thereby attempting to change long-standing U.S. policy and to defy international law, which considers the Golan as “occupied territory” that Israel must surrender. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI).

In one of the very few articles written about these bills to date, MintPress News (Feb. 27) noted that U.S. recognition of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights “could result in an all-out war between Israel and Syria as well as with Syrian allies such as Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Given that Israel has been preparing for such a war for well over a year and that Israel has been given the authority to bring U.S. troops into that conflict if and when it occurs, the likely consequences of the passage of this bill should be treated with the gravity they deserve.” [1]

So why has there been so little press coverage of these companion bills? Presstv.com (Feb. 28) suggested two reasons: 1) the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has “kept mum” about the bills; and 2) “Concerned about a possible international backlash, Trump administration officials have privately asked Israel to quiet the lobbying campaign” for this legislation. [2] Without AIPAC lobbying about the issue, the mainstream media apparently acquiesce in the silence.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase