I have to admit that it’s getting tough to face the news these days. I am having one of the years where everything I own has decided to break down. It started last Labor Day with the AC unit outside and has moved on to my computer, me, two of my pets, the vacuum cleaner, my car’s brakes, and the refrigerator.
I’m having a really difficult time paying for all of these as well as dealing with the usual grief of running around trying to get it all fixed. Most of this stuff is not the sort of thing that can wait which is the most depressing news. Is it just me or is everything designed to completely break down within a fairly short time?
Lynn Parramore: What are some of the telltale signs of monopolies?
Barry Lynn: Well, monopoly doesn’t mean that a company controls 100 percent of the marketplace. What monopoly means is that a company has sufficient control of the market to shape the outcomes of that market to its own advantage — to shape pricing, to determine who is making deals of with whom.
So what we have in America is that there are actually very few marketplaces in which you have a single company that has complete, 100 percent control. But what you do have is many marketplaces, thousands of markets, in which you have a dominant player that really controls commerce in that activity.
A really good sign, the thing you’ll actually tend to see in a newspaper or on TV is the merger, a big deal, two companies coming together. And most of the time, the press will cover it as, well, here’s an opportunity to invest. Or here’s a company that you should be looking at in the future. But what you’re actually seeing in many cases is the creation of power or the increasing power of a particular corporation over a particular marketplace.
LP: For the average person, how do monopolies affect our lives, prevent us from getting and doing the things we need?
BL: Monopolies affect us in innumerable ways. The most obvious way, the way that people always talked about, is that monopolies usually have the power to raise the price in some activity, for some good, for some service. We see that, say, with Comcast and cable services. But monopolists also have the capacity to reduce our liberties.
As workers, one of the things you prize is an open market where you can sell your work to many potential buyers, many potential employers. If there’s a lot of consolidation nationally in your industry, or even your town, you may find yourself with really only one or two buyers for your work. That means that you have less ability to negotiate higher wages. It also means that you have less real freedom: you can’t just pick up and leave if you get a bad boss.
The world is an increasingly unequal and unfair place, economists tell us. Every year, it becomes a little harder to picture what equal opportunity and egalitarianism even look like. As the rich attract capital like Jupiter attracts space debris and the poor fail to make any substantial gains, the gap between them comes to seem to us less surmountable, more of a force of nature than something for which we can even imagine a reasonable counterfactual.
Fortunately, we have literature to help us out with that.
Specifically, we have young adult literature, and its fascination with the way that the world is made, unmade, and remade.
If you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s and were of a bookish turn, you either readThe Giver or had it read to you, despite the numerous times that moral hawks tried to keep it out of your hands. (Naturally, this only made it more attractive.) The book, and numerous others that followed it, imagined worlds where economic conditions dictate the facts of human life, as of course they have a tendency to do.
* * *
In The Giver, society has “solved” inequality by dramatically reducing personal property and having the state distribute what’s left. (This is not the sort of solution that might be recommended by a moderate market skeptic, like Capital in the Twenty-First Century’s author Thomas Piketty. His proposal—raising the income tax or making it more progressive—wouldn’t make for the most exciting subject, especially for young-adult page turners.) Such a solution like The Giver‘s has a stellar literary pedigree: It harkens back to thinkers like Thomas More, who in 1516 invented the egalitarian no-place (“utopia”), and to the socialist philosophers of the 19th century, especially Friedrich Engels.
Engels saw the institutions of family and private property as deeply entwined. Part of Engels’ objection to the institution of the family was that it involved a “progressive narrowing of the circle, originally embracing the whole tribe, within which the two sexes have a common conjugal relation.” Marxism’s benevolent tendencies are swallowed up by concern and preference for one’s immediate family, which becomes the unit of basic inequality.
Like Engels and Marx, Piketty and his contemporaries worry about “patrimonial capitalism,” or the tendency for certain families to only become richer, because the rate of return on capital exceeds the ordinary rate of growth. Have more capital, get more growth, have more capital, get more growth, and so on.
But there’s another kind of patrimony, as everyone who has ever ended up doing the same thing as her parents knows. There is a real danger that inequality is not just related to literal capital accumulation, but to equality of opportunity and the accumulation of cultural capital. This might include things like what kind of education your family can afford to give you, but also could be as simple as what you see in front of you every day and the way that it either expands or limits your opportunities, your very knowledge of to what you can reasonably aspire.
Anyway, it seems worth viewing if only for the cast. Streep plays the villain btw.
A new mass rally in Detroit is planned for Friday, August 29, the day the state-enforced city bankruptcy trial begins. Democracy activists throughout the Midwest are again urged to come demonstrate against the water shut-offs and the hostile takeover of Detroit’s assets.
In this period of mass despair over rampant political corruption and economic injustice in America, many people ask, “Does protest really make a difference?” The answer is yes, and it is being proven right now in Detroit, the frontline battleground in the growing resistance movement against the hostile corporate takeover and looting of American cities nationwide.
Detroit is the model for a nascent democracy mass movement. On July 18, thousands of demonstrators from around the country linked arms and marched in downtown Detroit, past the City Emergency Manager’s office and the JP Morgan Chase Bank, in a show of solidarity against the ongoing corporate-led assault on city worker’s pensions and most recently, the indiscriminate shut-off of water, without notice, to more than 15,000 families, mostly African American.
While businesses, large corporations and banks – 55 percent of which were in arrears on water bills – were exempted from the shut-offs, service to 40,000 homes was reportedly on the chopping block. Thousands had already been left without clean water, with no concern shown for infants and children, pregnant women, the sick, elderly or handicapped. Many Detroit activists and civic leaders, including Congressman John Conyers, attended the rally at Hart Plaza and decried the water shut-offs as a human rights violation and a public health crisis.
As one prominent sign at the front of the rally stated, “WHERE DO YOU EXPECT US TO SH*T?”
On the same morning that the protest rally exploded, civil disobedience was used to block private company trucks performing the shut-offs from leaving their garage. Nine activists were arrested, including three clergy members and Baxter Jones, an activist with a disability who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellermann stated after his arrest: “Detroit is under assault by lawless and illegitimate authority. It’s a moral issue. As religious leaders and allies, we are upping the ante, spiritually and politically, by putting our bodies in the way. We pray to intensify the struggle with civil disobedience, even as it is broadened with mass action and legal challenge. As one of our fallen mentors Charity Hicks urged, we are seeking to ‘wage love’ in the face of death. Such deeds can sometimes break the dreadful silence of our occupied corporate media.”
The protest actions, following an admonition from the United Nations that Detroit’s water shut-off was indeed a human rights violation, embarrassed both Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed “Emergency Manager,” Kevin Orr. Within three days, Orr announced a 15-day moratorium of the shut-offs; a respite later extended to August 24. Soon after, Orr relinquished administration of the Water Department to the city.
The demonstrations may ultimately serve to deter a planned privatization of the city’s water system: a Detroit asset estimated to be worth many billions of dollars that sits adjacent to 21 percent of the world’s freshwater supply in the Great Lakes.
Also clearly irritated by the attention on the shut-offs was Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who demanded an explanation from the city, stating that the water issue was hurting Detroit’s reputation in the world community. The mass actions turned a powerful national spotlight on Detroit’s controversial bankruptcy, including full coverage of the resulting water war on major TV and cable networks, and in printed press ranging from the Detroit Free Press to the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Detroit activists “felt the love” as the media and internet were lit up and news of the protests went viral; thousands of blogs and social media communications spread the word, and within days, perhaps millions became aware of Detroit’s crisis. The coverage illuminated the role of criminal banks and real estate moguls, as well as the attacks on pension funds and attempted privatization of the water system.
Overnight, this local crisis emerged as an example of the national “shock doctrine” strategy being spread like a plague by the Tea Party and ALEC; exposing their “emergency management” laws as facilitating a strategy to undermine democracy and pave the path for surreptitious privatization of public assets.
The rally shed light on the complicity of the major Wall Street banks in Detroit’s economic spiral, banks whose investors continue to thrive while Main Street takes the brunt of the financial losses they caused. “Detroit is just the canary in the mine” was a refrain often repeated by the rally speakers.
Amnesty International has taken “unprecedented” action to deal with the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, by sending resources the human rights group has never deployed inside the United States.
The organization has been on the ground in Ferguson since Thursday, sending a 13-person human rights delegation to the city in the wake of the Aug. 9 police shooting death of Michael Brown.
Jasmine Heiss, a senior campaigner with Amnesty who is a part of the team in Ferguson, said the use of the “cross-functional team” — which she said included community trainers, researchers, and human rights observers — was “unprecedented” within the United States for the group.
On Saturday, after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and put a curfew in place in Ferguson, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W. Hawkins, issued a scathing statement.
“We criticize dictators for quelling dissent and silencing protestors with tactics like curfews, we’ll certainly speak out when it’s happening in our own backyard,” he said. “The people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting.”
Nixon called St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, an “experienced prosecutor.” Nixon said he had no timetable for the investigation.
Nixon also told ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that his office was unaware that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson was going to release on Friday a videotape showing what is alleged to be Brown, 18, in what police have called a “strong-armed” robbery of cigars in a convenience store shortly before he was killed.
“Rest assured we have had very serious discussions about that action” and its effect on Brown’s family, Nixon told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” — Chuck Raasch, 10:30 a.m. Sunday
So, the Governor has no problem with the prosecutor. That’s interesting too.
So, I’m going to end it here. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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1960: A boy, dressed as a toreador, faces a large prize-winning Jersey cow at a Scottish agricultural show.
All this week, there has been a feeling…like I am teetering on the edge of a high precipice. It does not need to be a cliff, it could my front porch down here in Banjoville, a redneck hell hole…where in the past two days my son has been threaten by one crazy ass, gun totting, bad check writing, self-proclaimed FBI-wanted shitkicker who wasn”t happy her check was not accepted by the grocery store Jake is working at now.
And….another self-righteous Christian fucker who asked Jake if he was wearing a medical alert bracelet, to which my son replied….”Yes, I was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.” You know what this dickjerk Jeeesus-loving freak assclown said???? He said that Jake got that disease because, “Gawd was punishing (Jake) for something” he did…Can you believe these people?
That was just the cherry to what has been an exhausting week. I don’t think I can write any more about it. You get the picture, I am sure of that.
So here are a few links, think of this as an open thread, just can’t manage anything else.
A ship found four years ago at the World Trade Center site was made from wood cut around 1773, new research shows.
Scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said the white oak in the ship’s frame came from a Philadelphia-area forest and matched the material used to build the city’s Independence Hall.
They announced the findings in the July issue of the journal Tree Ring Research.
The discovery links the ship to key dates in American history: 1773 was two years before the start of the war and three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
If you think Christina Hendricks’ character Joan Holloway would be a ridiculous throwback in today’s office environment, try women still making 23 percent less than their male counterparts.
Funny or Die teamed up with the “Mad Men” actress for this hilariously scathing critique of income inequality that’s certain to get people talking. After all, if workplace policies are going to be straight out of the ’60s, then our clothes, technology and smoking habits might as well be, too.
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s groundbreaking mermaid.
By the side of the path around the circular, volcanic crater of Lake Pergusa, near the town of Enna in the center of Sicily, a carved stone marks the spot where Proserpina, the goddess of the spring, was seized and carried off by Pluto into the underworld. “Qui, in questo luogo,” proclaims the inscription. “Proserpina fù rapita.” This is the very place:
…that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gath’ring flow’rs
Herself a fairer Flow’r by gloomy Dis
Was gather’d, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world.
(Milton, Paradise Lost, IV)
KALAK, Iraq — American fighter jets roared over the new front lines in northern Iraq Saturday but did not strike, a day after airstrikes on Islamist militants in the region put the U.S. military back in action in Iraqi skies less than three years after troops withdrew and President Obama declared the war over.
The strikes Friday were limited in scope but helped temper days of building panic across the north of the country as militants with the extremist Islamic State sliced through a string of towns and villages scattered on the outskirts of the Kurdish region and sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives.
The airstrikes also presented the first significant challenge yet to months of unchecked expansion by the al-Qaeda offshoot, which has swept through much of Iraq and neighboring Syria over the past year, annihilating its opponents, capturing valuable resources and declaring the creation of an Islamic caliphate in a nation-size chunk of territory.
They have gone from comfortable lives in historic towns and villages in Iraq’s parched Nineveh plains to the precarious existence of refugees unsure about their next meal and where they will spend the night — and even whether they belong in this country anymore.
“We have no safety, no security, no guarantees of anything,” said Alhaan Mansour, 33, as her 6-year-old son, Gaid, clung to her and listeners nodded in fervent agreement. “This is no life for anyone. We need a place where we can be safe and live our lives.”
The world has watched as an extremist group that dubs itself the Islamic State emerged from the chaos of the Syrian civil war to carve out a self-proclaimed caliphate that some say is now the size of the state of Indiana. Uncounted multitudes of Syrians and Iraqis, most of them Muslim, have become casualties.
But for the Christian minority of northwest Iraq, the militants’ onslaught has been nothing short of a catastrophe. In the last week, most of the Christian communities of the Nineveh plains have been overrun, forcing perhaps 100,000 people to flee, many to the semiautonomous Kurdish zone that has its capital here.
Even before the latest exodus, Christians had to evacuate the city of Mosul, long home to a vibrant Christian community, or face death at the hands of the extremists.
In authorizing targeted air strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, President Obama has opted to avoid the all-out “shock and awe” campaigns of previous U.S. conflicts in Iraq.
Air strikes will be limited to defending American forces and supporting a humanitarian effort to provide food and water to thousands of starving Yazidi refugees who have fled Islamic State militants because they practice a different religion.
That response may prove inadequate to force the retreat of a surprisingly ferocious enemy that has evolved into a conventional army equipped with tanks and heavy weapons. Many of those weapons, including Humvees and artillery, are American-made and were seized from Iraqi national troops who fled Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, when the militants attacked in June.
The air strikes will be limited in scope and not part of “a larger air campaign at this point,” a senior defense official said Friday. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the decision.
Isn’t that just ducky? But wait — President Obama just told us that the airstrikes are working.
U.S. airstrikes against militant Islamist rebels and humanitarian airdrops in Iraq have weakened the rapidly advancing fighters and successfully delivered “thousands of meals and gallons of water” to tens of thousands of refugees, President Barack Obama said Saturday.
Obama said in a nationally televised news conference from the South Lawn of the White House that “we will not have troops again in Iraq,” but he said he was determined not only to “protect our American citizens in Iraq” but also to prevent “an act of genocide” against the refugees. He said the United Kingdom and France had agreed to join the U.S. in providing humanitarian assistance.
U.S. jets launched airstrikes Friday on isolated targets to stem the advance of fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, who have trapped tens of thousands of Christians and ethno-religious Yazidi on a mountaintop in northern Iraq. The U.S. also said it made a second airdrop of food and waterFriday to the refugees.
I sure hope he’s right.
Richard Nixon’s Downfall
The anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation is also in the news. It happened 40 years ago today.
Forty years ago today President Richard M. Nixon told the nation that he had decided to resign from office, effective at noon, Aug. 9, 1974. The long-building scandal of Watergate had finally cost Nixon theWhite House, the political prize he had sought all his adult life.
He had little choice. It was either quit or be forcibly ousted from the Oval Office. The previous evening, Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona and two other top congressional Republicans had told him he would be impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate if he fought on. His support among the public had finally collapsed. Fifty-seven percent of US voters thought he should be removed from the presidency, according to Gallup figures.
Today’s voters, inured by years of partisan strife, a 2000 presidential election decided in the courts, and the impeachment of President Clinton, might find it hard to imagine the turmoil then roiling the US electorate. Vietnam, and then Watergate, had split the nation more deeply than anything since the civil war. Nixon’s televised farewell address to the nation began at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, and when he uttered the fateful line “I shall resign the presidency at noon tomorrow,” the roar from protesters gathered in Lafayette Square was so loud that reporters watching the feed of the speech in the White House basement could not hear the next line.
Many Americans remember the telecast during which Richard Nixon announced his resignation from the Presidency, forty years ago today, as a dark moment in the nation’s history. Watching the Leader of the Free World crumple in disgrace induced a mordant glee in certain quarters, but it was still a grim spectacle. The comedian Harry Shearer has another word for the events of that night: “goofy.”
In the clip below, you can watch Shearer (who is perhaps best known as the bassist in “This Is Spinal Tap” and as the voice of Mr. Burns and several other characters on “The Simpsons”) play Nixon in a verbatim reënactment of what happened in the Oval Office in the minutes directly before and after the resignation. Shearer strides in, as Nixon did that night, a man seemingly unperturbed by the fact that he is now probably the most widely despised American political villain of the twentieth century. He joshes inanely with the TV crew, who respond with shuffling embarrassment. There are only a few moments—like when Nixon snaps at a photographer for taking too many pictures—that he acts like he’s about to deliver anything more serious than the annual turkey pardon.
When you watch the actual footage from that evening, recorded by one of the TV cameras in the room, Nixon’s swaggering tone-deafness will make you squirm. Shearer’s reënactment magnifies that effect, both because the use of multiple cameras provides detail and depth, and because presenting the episode as a dramatic scene underlines the strangeness of the President’s behavior.
So, I’m starting my post out with a bit on a Weird Al Yankovic song called “First World Problems. All I kept thinking is that I know people like this–including ones I’m related to–and I really wish they’d leave my neighborhood and go back to wherever they came. The song is done in the style of the Pixies which is probably one of the most over-hyped, overrated bands around. Yankovich resembles that blonde guy that keeps appearing in movies I don’t want to see on that hit TV series I’ve never watched about meeting somebody’s mother.
In “ First World Problems,” done in the style of the Pixies, Al takes on our bourgeois obsession with comfort and consumption, while simultaneously poking fun at the indie rock preoccupations of suburban white kids who complain about their cushy lives: “My house is so big I can’t get wi-fi in the kitchen,” whines the douchey blonde kid Al plays in the video.
“Tacky,” set to the tune of Pharrell’s overplayed hit “Happy,” skewers not only the tackiness of dressing cluelessly, but wandering the Earth in a solipsistic bubble: “Nothing wrong with wearin’ stripes and plaid/I Instagram every meal I’ve had…Can’t nothin’ bring me shame.” The brilliance lies in the intimation that the happiness sold by slick pop icons like Pharrell is predicated on a state of oblivion that cuts us off from the plight of our fellow humans.
Perhaps the best song of all is the Crosby, Stills & Nash-inspired “ Mission Statement,” made for everyone who has found herself sinking in the mire of meaningless gibberish that flows through the modern corporate office. In the video, which features that annoyingly overused trope of a hand scribbling illustrations, the despair of office alienation is juxtaposed with the relentlessly upbeat buzzwords and conventions taught in MBA schools. What’s particularly resonant about this song is how Al skewers the corporate capitalism which promised us all the wonders of efficiency, harmony and prosperity, only to deliver us to Dilbert’s cubicle of despair.
In “Mission Statement,” the dreams of love and peace echoed in ’60s folk tunes have congealed into a nightmare in which we can’t escape capitalism’s relentless propaganda. Instead, we’re brought to a kind of posthuman wretchedness in which we are forced to speak in the tongues of the market’s abstract gods.
Weird Al’s finally got a number one album by releasing this one on you tube one vidoe at a time and parodying the yuckyness of the American Consumerist. I left the burbs to get away from this kind’ve crap and now I’ve found it’s reintroduced back into my inner city neighborhood as hipster culture. All of that is juxtaposed against watching the horrors of the Gaza genocide and reading story after story on the decimation of our planet by those whose greed and need for crap and money just seems bottomless.
The cult of privatization appears to want make all of us miserable. They continue to push workers who’ve gained benefits through either unions or working for government into bottom feeders. ALEC has been attacking Paid Sick Days. More and more municipalities have been trying to pass local legislation to grant paid sick leave to the more than 40 million workers who have none.
As the paid sick day movement has gained momentum, its opponents – particularly those in the restaurant industry – have tried to thwart it.
“The opposition is stepping up its game,” Bravo said.
The most common tool of the corporate interests opposed to paid sick days have been “preemption” laws to block local and county governments from enacting paid sick day measures.
Since 2011, eleven states have thwarted local control through paid sick day preemption laws. Alabama and Oklahoma joined that list in 2014.
The paid sick day preemption effort can largely be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC.”
At ALEC’s August 2011 meeting in New Orleans, a paid sick day preemption bill recently signed into law by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was shared with the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force as a model for state override. ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee at the time was co-chaired by YUM! Brands, Inc., which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
After that August 2011 ALEC meeting, similar preemption legislation has spread across the country, in most cases introduced or sponsored by ALEC legislators, and with the support of the state NRA affiliate.
Oklahoma and Alabama are no exception.
The Oklahoma NRA affiliate, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, played a key role in pushing SB 1023, which crushed local efforts to guarantee a fair wage and paid sick days in that state. The bill was signed into law in April by Governor Mary Fallin, an ALEC alumni who gave the keynote at ALEC’s Spring meeting last year.
In an end-of-legislative session report, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association’s lobbyist claimed credit for SB 1023, describing it as ” legislation the ORA introduced” and boasting that it “passed the Senate, and the House, without an amendment of any kind” and “was signed by the Governor without fanfare.”
The fanfare came after the sneak attack was successful, with Rachel Maddow and others expressing shock at the legislature’s effort to stomp out local control.
“Since that time many questions have been raised about the legislation,” the Oklahoma Restaurant Association’s lobbyist boasted, “but none before it was enacted.”
Alabama also snuck the preemption bill through the legislature, at the behest of the NRA.
At the end of 2013, the Alabama NRA affiliate announced to its members that in the coming legislative session: “We might have a few surprises, such as possibly introducing a bill that would prohibit local municipalities and jurisdictions from enacting paid sick leave ordinances.”
Notice that most of these workers are in industries where there are no unions. These are also states with the poorest of the poor. Workers are paid badly to begin with so going without pay for any time basically means upsetting an already precarious situation.
The U.S. Drought Monitor, a government-funded weekly map of drought conditions, issued a shocking report today indicating that 58% of California is suffering from the harshest of drought conditions. All of the state has been suffering from drought conditions since May, the first time in 15 years.
This is also the first year that any part of California has experienced “exceptional drought” conditions since regular drought measurements began in the late 1990s. Now, nearly three-fifths of the state is under those conditions, with another 22% of California added into this level in the past week.
Heavy-population centers all suffer from extreme drought or exceptional drought.
Click to enlarge.
The severity of the drought threatens California’s $44.7 billion agricultural industry. The state now tops the U.S. with 75% of its rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition, according to USDA. The region’s topsoil and subsoil all but depleted of moisture, according to the report.
California’s 154 reservoirs are 60% below their historical average. Although this is not a record for this time of year, the state is more than a year’s worth of water short in its reservoirs.
The state’s farmers have idled about 800,000 acres this year. As a result, consumers can be expected to pay more at the grocery store for a wide range of staple foods. The Department of Agriculture warns that “major impacts from the drought in California have the potential to result in food price inflation above the historical average.”
Earlier this month, California imposed statewide water-use regulations for the first time. State regulators approved stringent measures limiting outdoor water, including $500 fines for using an outdoor hose without a shut-off nozzle.
Meanwhile, hopes that the drought would break by autumn have been tempered. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center downplayed the help that El Niño may bring to the drought-plagued West in its monthly report of Pacific Ocean weather patterns. While the Center is still projecting that sea surface temperatures will be warmer than usual—a phenomenon known as El Niño—it is now saying that the effect will be only “weak to moderate.”
Meanwhile, we’re depleting the countries’ aquifers and other fresh water sources at an alarming rate. A lot of water usage is for things like golf courses, cemeteries, swimming pools and green lawns. That doesn’t even include the wasting of water by industry. We’re creating long term, real problems for first world. This National Geographicarticle deals with the Groundwater Depletion around the Colorado River Basin.
Thanks to a NASA satellite mission called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, orGRACE, which began in 2002, we are getting a look at changes in water storage both above and below ground in watersheds around the world.
Using twin satellites, the GRACE mission measures the mass of the earth over time and space. Because changes in water storage result in changes in mass, GRACE provides fairly accurate estimates of water depletion over time.
When Stephanie Castle of the University of California-Irvine and her colleagues analyzed GRACE data for the whole Colorado River Basin over the period December 2004 – November 2013, what they found stunned them: the Colorado Basin had lost nearly 53 million acre-feet of water (65 billion cubic meters) – equivalent to two full Lake Meads.
Even more striking, 77 percent of that loss – some 41 million acre-feet – was water stored underground. That’s enough to meet the home water use of the entire US population for eight years.
(An acre-foot is the volume of water that would cover an acre of land one foot deep. It equals 325,850 gallons, roughly the amount eight people in the U.S. would use at home in a year.)
“We don’t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don’t know when we’re going to run out,” Castle said in a press release announcing the study.
“This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”
Now, it’s common for farms and cities to pump more groundwater during droughts in order to make up the gap between supply and demand. The assumption is, that during times of surplus, the groundwater basins will fill back up.
“This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.” — Stephanie Castle, lead author of the study.
But what if they don’t re-fill?
Some groundwater basins do not receive much recharge even in wet times. I wrote last week about how drought is leading farmers to pump more heavily from the Ogallala Aquifer beneath northwest Texas, a largely irreversible loss of groundwater. Areas of similar “non-rechargeable” aquifers also exist in the Colorado River Basin.
The Ogallala Aquifer spreads across eight states, from Texas to South Dakota, covering 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles. It’s the fountain of life not only for much of the Texas Panhandle, but also for the entire American Breadbasket of the Great Plains, a highly-sophisticated, amazingly-productive agricultural region that literally helps feed the world.
This catastrophic depletion is primarily manmade. By the early eighties, automated center-pivot irrigation devices were in wide use – those familiar spidery-armed wings processing in a circle atop wheeled tripods. This super-sized sprinkler system allowed farmers to water crops more regularly and effectively, which both significantly increased crop yields and precipitously drained the Ogallala.
Compounding the drawdown has been the nature of the Ogallala itself. Created 10 million years ago, this buried fossil water is–in many places—not recharged by precipitation or surface water. When it’s gone, it’s gone for centuries.
So, our tax money is basically going to companies that are ensuring a horrible future for us. The decreases in government spending and the parade of the privatization effort take away programs and jobs that contribute to overall well being. But, where do our resources go? Our money, weapons and technology are also going to places that create a hostile world.
The nearly month-long attack by Israeli forces on Gaza has revealed that anti-Arab racism permeates many levels of Israeli society. Indeed, to acknowledge Palestinians as humans worthy of a state, a home and basic necessities such as medical care, electricity, food and water, would undermine the brutality of Operation Protective Edge.
Racism among the Israeli population is either stronger than ever, or simply more visible today thanks to social media and the proliferation of online means of expression.
Some Israelis are openly thrilled that Gaza is being leveled. A Danish reporter came upon a cheery group of people who gathered outdoors in the southern Israeli town of Sderot with folding chairs and popcorn to watch the air war, clapping each time a bomb dropped on Gaza. Other Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to celebrate the killing of Gaza’s children. They were videotaped singing a song whose words included, “In Gaza there’s no studying; No children are left there,” and calling for violence against two of the Israeli Knesset’s Arab members.
The verbal vitriol is also flowing strongly. Early on in Israel’s operation, writer David Sheen compiled a list of what he called “Terrifying Tweets of Pre-Army Israeli Teens,” which included such gems as “Death to these fucking Arabs” and “We wage war so this will be our land without any Arabs.”
But the racism has gone beyond mere celebrations of war and death. While the horrific revenge killing of 15-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir is being dismissed as an extremist act, and the police beating of his cousin Tariq Abu Khdeir is being “investigated,” more attacks have followed with little U.S. media attention. For example, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz noted that “two Palestinian youths were reportedly assaulted by a Jewish mob in Jerusalem.”
Professor David Shulman, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, went further, writing in a July 12 column that “Israel has witnessed a wave of racist hatred on a scale perhaps not known before.” Shulman also cited the advent of “Israeli lynch gangs prowling the streets of downtown Jerusalem … and organized Fascist groups attacking any Palestinians unlucky enough to be going home late at night, after work.”
According to reports, a former soldier posted on Facebook that he was told that Israeli troops have been encouraged to gun down unarmed Palestinians in Gaza to satisfy their thirst for revenge. The former soldier reportedly says he was told “the unofficial reason was to enable the soldiers to take out their frustrations and pain at losing their fellow soldiers.”
Fox News pundit Juan Williams on Sunday suggested that conservatives calling for President Obama’s impeachment are racist given that they mostly come from white people.
During a “Fox News Sunday” panel, Heritage Foundation CEO Michael Needham said that while conservatives were concerned that Obama is “lawless,” Democrats are pushing the impeachment rhetoric.
Williams then tore into Needham, explaining that conservative pundits and some elected officials have been pushing for impeachment.
“You listen to Michael, and you understand why there are lots of Republicans who think, ‘This man’s a demon, this guy’s awful, we got to get this guy out of here any way we can, he’s breaking the law,’” he said.
“And then you come on and say, ‘Oh, no. We’re not talking about impeachment, that’s the Democrats.’ All the Democrats are doing is taking advantage of the fact that you guys have demonized President Obama to this extent,” Williams continued.
He then said that some criticize Obama because of his race.
“Lot’s of people see it, especially in the minority community, as an attack on the first black president, think it’s unfair, so it’s going spur their turnout in midterms which is going to be critical in several races,” Williams said.
Fox host Chris Wallace then jumped in to ask if Williams really meant to accuse conservatives of racism.
The German weekly said on Sunday that Israeli intelligence and at least one other secret service intercepted Kerry’s phone calls during a doomed, nine-month effort to broker a peace deal.
If confirmed, the report will further sour the diplomat’s relationship with Binyamin Netanyahu’s government and raise fresh questions about the vulnerability of phone communications to eavesdropping.
There was no immediate reaction from Jerusalem or Washington. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The report was published on another bloody day in Gaza, where a projectile hit a street outside a school where people were sheltering, killing at least seven and wounding dozens, many of whom were buying sweets and biscuits from stalls.
Jon Stewart does not want Congress to feel too bad about itself. “When you guys suck, it’s not a failure. It’s just you living up to our incredibly low expectations of you,” he said on last night’s “Daily Show.”
The late night comedian was reflecting on the current do-nothing Congress as it heads out for its month long August recess. Although, wait a minute. It’s not as if the legislative body did nothing. The Republicans in Congress are, of course, suing the president. This was their priority. Nothing doing about the thousands of unaccompanied children with nowhere to sleep, except under a bridge, which is probably crumbling because Congress won’t fund any infrastructure or the highways.
“You have to pass all of the laws on your plate—all of them—before you get to have dessert,” Stewart chastised, “which in this case is suing the president.”
With its new nickname, the “‘Sharknado 2′ of government,” sucking because it’s supposed to, Congress now enjoys a lower approval rating than head lice.
Although, as Stewart points out, it could sink lower. There’s still pubic lice.
Parody and satire have always had a role in poking governments. We do have first world problems. It’s the ones we’re letting politicians and billionaire busybodies create that are going to have devastating results for the planet and all of us that live on it. Only those billionaires that are funding them, enacting them, and profiting from them are going to be the ones to avoid the consequences. Meanwhile, there’s a whole lot of people that are being stupefied and mollified by propaganda and useless junk. Folks like Weird Al and Jon Stewart can’t poke us all enough.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.