Wed 17 September, 2014

06:13 The Woman Who Created The Bechdel Test Is Officially A Genius» ThinkProgress

Alison Bechdel -- graphic novelist, cartoonist, all-around feminist superstar -- is a MacArthur Genius.

The post The Woman Who Created The Bechdel Test Is Officially A Genius appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:12 Vikings reverse course, suspend Adrian Peterson for duration of child abuse investigation» Salon.com
The star running back has been placed on an NFL exempt list for allegedly spanking his young son with a switch

06:10 Natural Disasters Displaced 22 Million People Last Year, 3 Times More Than War» ThinkProgress

Using four decades of data, the study found that floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and other hazards now cause twice as many people to lose their homes as in the 1970s.

The post Natural Disasters Displaced 22 Million People Last Year, 3 Times More Than War appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:08 The United States Has The Largest Prison Population In The World — And It’s Growing» ThinkProgress

Both in raw numbers and by percentage of the population, the United States has the most prisoners of any developed country in the world. And that didn’t change in 2013.

The post The United States Has The Largest Prison Population In The World — And It’s Growing appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:07 Sean Hannity: Parents Should Be Allowed To Teach Kids ‘Being Gay Is Not Normal’» ThinkProgress

Adrian Peterson has Sean Hannity thinking more about parents' rights than what's best for children.

The post Sean Hannity: Parents Should Be Allowed To Teach Kids ‘Being Gay Is Not Normal’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:05 How an 'Independent Caucus' Could Form in the Senate and End Gridlock» Politics - The Huffington Post
If Republicans win control of the Senate, there will be the gridlock -- only much worse. It will be so bad that the American people will look back on this current Congress as "productive". How do we know? They have already told their billionaire owners that they intend to do exactly that.

If Democrats hold on to the Senate, Republicans will obstruct as before. Bad, but not as bad as if Republicans win.

Suppose, however, that independents actually control the balance of power. If they act together, they can break the gridlock.

If Greg Orman (KS-Independent) wins, there will be perhaps four Independents in the Senate: Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME) and Orman.

True, Sanders leans more progressive than most Democrats, and Murkowski is really a dyed-in-the-wool Republican forced to run as an Independent because Joe Miller, a Palin loonjob, beat her in the Republican primary, but both have expressed frustration with obstruction. If the four senators elected as independents get together in their own caucus, they could exercise control over the Senate.

Let us assume, for example, that neither Democrats, who need 50 votes to enlist the Vice-President as a tie-breaker,, or Republicans, who need 51 votes to control the Senate, reach their thresholds for control.

Perhaps, the question ought not to be whether the four independents vote for Harry Reid (D-NV) or John Cornyn (R/TP-TX) (assuming a McConnell loss in KY, or McConnell if he wins) as majority leader.

Instead, the Independent Caucus might withhold their votes from both parties and decide to operate as a caucus itself. As a first act, it can determine that each party can nominate a person to chair a committee, and that they will give the Republicans and Democrats approximately an equal number of chairs. How do they do that? They vote as a block along with one party or the other for the designated chairs. Depending on which party actually has more votes, the committee memberships can be one vote more for that party than the other.

These "chair" candidates can be interviewed and vetted, and held accountable for their behavior. One significant deviation from his or her promises (that would be publicly disclosed), and the chair can be replaced by voting him or her out of the position, and installing a candidate from the other party. Moreover, if, say, a Democrat is proposed as chair, and the Independent Caucus does not approve, it can ask the party for another candidate for that chair, or it will award that chair to a Republican.

The Independent Caucus can agree that any party that mounts a filibuster, or any member of a party engages in other obstructive behavior, that party will lose a chair seat for each filibuster or obstructive event. That would effectively end obstruction for two years.

Each of the Independents should serve as Majority Leader for six months, on a rotating basis.

Nor would Sanders or Murkowski "risk" losing seniority in their current parties. After all, each could argue to their own sides that, had they not joined the independent caucus, the other side would have had control.

The Independent Caucus can also influence the House, although not nearly as powerfully. It can set as a rule that any bill that comes out of the Senate with at least 60 votes, but that does not receive an up-or-down vote in the House, automatically results in a loss of one the chairs the Republicans have (assuming the Republicans win the House; if Democrats win the House, the same rule would apply).

If the Independent Caucus performs well, more candidates may appear in 2016 elections running as independents to join that caucus. Or, current members could abandon party discipline and decide to cast their lots with the Independent Caucus, so long as they adhere to its basic formula.

The Independent Caucus will be Mommy and Daddy arriving in Washington D.C. Their 96 children will have to behave, or they will be sent to their rooms.
06:02 International Basketball Federation Relaxes Ban On Religious Headwear For Now» ThinkProgress

“FIBA has taken a step towards change, but this policy alteration will continue to lead to an unequal playing field,” Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said.

The post International Basketball Federation Relaxes Ban On Religious Headwear For Now appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:02 How Walmart Is Getting Away With Making Employees Buy New Work Outfits» ThinkProgress

Because the clothes are a dress code, not a uniform, the company doesn't have to pay for them.

The post How Walmart Is Getting Away With Making Employees Buy New Work Outfits appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:01 Fox Host Compares NFL Domestic Abuse Scandals To Benghazi» ThinkProgress

The NFL was one of the few things that Fox personalities had not previously tried to compare or link to the 2012 attack.

The post Fox Host Compares NFL Domestic Abuse Scandals To Benghazi appeared first on ThinkProgress.

06:01 Five Times Fox News Guests Debunked The Benghazi Hoax» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox News has a long-running obsession with Benghazi. Yet despite its best efforts to push phony scandals about the attacks, the truth has occasionally broken through the noise. Here are five examples of guests shooting down Fox's Benghazi hoax:

06:00 If You Want To Help Progressives Win, Here's Where To Put Your Money» Latest from Crooks and Liars
If You Want To Help Progressives Win, Here's Where To Put Your Money

This isn't a rundown of races the DCCC and NRCC have decided to fight over for control of the House. Continued, unchallenged control of the House became a foregone conclusion the day Nancy Pelosi reappointed a failed, incompetent, corrupt and vision-free Steve Israel to run the DCCC for another cycle.

It's numerically impossible for the Democrats to win back the House under Israel guidelines of ignoring Republicans who were members of his Center Aisle Caucus and his decision to give free passes to all GOP Leaders and committee chairmen, even vulnerable ones from Obama districts like the contemptible Fred Upton (chairman, Energy and Commerce Committee) and John Kline (chairman, Education and Workforce Committee).

read more

05:59 Benghazi Select Committee Holding First Open Hearing» Politics - The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Select Committee on Benghazi gets its public debut Wednesday, two years after militants in the eastern Libyan city killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, and four months after Republicans launched their special investigation.

The panel is using its first open hearing to focus on what the Obama administration has done since the Sept. 11, 2012, attack to improve security at U.S. embassies and other diplomatic missions around the world. The State Department's chief of diplomatic security was to be the committee's first witness. It was unclear whether the big allegations that prompted the probe will be examined — that U.S. forces were directed not to respond and that administration officials lied about the nature of the attack.

"This is truly an effort to do fact-finding," Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, one of seven Republicans on the 12-member committee, said in a telephone interview, stressing the thoroughness of the investigation, not its urgency. "Much of the work we're going to do won't be in hearings like we're having this week."

On the surface, the hearing should be noncontroversial. It will center on the State Department's implementation of an independent review board's recommendations to correct "systemic failures" that led to grossly inadequate security in Benghazi. The department endorsed the recommendations and there is little disagreement between congressional Democrats and Republicans about them.

But on almost everything else related to Benghazi — interpretations of what happened before, during and after the attack — far greater partisan divide prevails.

Republicans have issued a range of accusations, from the military holding back assets that could have saved American lives to President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others misleading the public about the attack as Americans prepared for a presidential election. Democrats deride the continued interest in Benghazi as a right-wing obsession designed to maintain talk of scandal and harm a potential Clinton bid for the presidency in 2016.

When House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for the select committee's establishment in May, he accused the Obama administration of "obstructing the truth about Benghazi." The new body, Boehner vowed, will work "quickly" to get answers.

Democrats on the panel are trying to pressure majority Republicans into providing a time frame and scope for the investigation— the eighth conducted by a congressional committee. The initial budget is $3.3 million but no limits have been placed on what the select committee can look at or when the probe must finish.

"We can't keep re-litigating the same issues over and over," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said at a news conference Tuesday.

Democrats have created a website pulling together various Benghazi claims of GOP House and Senate members alongside the conclusions of past congressional investigations. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said the goal was to prevent the select body from becoming "another partisan witch hunt."

Despite the attention devoted to the Benghazi attack, the panel clearly was being overshadowed this week.

Lawmakers, eager to return this week to campaigning for the Nov. 4 midterm election, were racing to seal a spending bill that would avert a government shutdown and authorize Obama to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
05:57 Teens’ Check-Ups Need To Include More Conversations About Sex» ThinkProgress

Doctors aren't broaching the subject enough with their teenage patients.

The post Teens’ Check-Ups Need To Include More Conversations About Sex appeared first on ThinkProgress.

05:51 HUFFPOLLSTER: A Quarter Of Gubernatorial Races Look Like Tossups» Politics - The Huffington Post
Our newly-released gubernatorial forecasts shows plenty of close races. A new poll shows the Republican leading in Iowa. And is it possible that pollsters have called nearly everyone in New Hampshire? This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

HUFFPOST'S GUBERNATORIAL FORECASTS GO LIVE - On Tuesday, HuffPost launched a new page with polls-only forecasts of the outcome of 36 races for governor in 2014. We have also applied the same win probabilities and house effect correction model to the gubernatorial estimates that we launched a few weeks ago for U.S. Senate contests.

As with the battle for control of the Senate, the 2014 elections feature a large number of close and highly competitive gubernatorial contests. In estimates based on all available public polls compiled by HuffPost Pollster, the Democratic and Republican candidates are separated by less than 3 percentage points in five states: Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin. The leading candidates enjoy slightly greater margins in six more states -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, and Massachusetts -- where the outcome remains far from certain.


To summarize the details of how the model works: We begin by collecting every publicly released poll on the 2014 gubernatorial races. We then use a statistical model to estimate the trend in support for each candidate based on all the survey data, adjusting for sample size and pollsters’ “house effects.” Interactive charts of those support trends are available on the HuffPost Pollster home page. As explained in more detail previously, we do not treat polls equally; instead, the model considers the true poll average to be that of nonpartisan polls with a record of performing well.

By running a series of simulations (known commonly as the Monte Carlo method), the model allows us to quantify the uncertainty associated with the current polling snapshot. That uncertainty comes from multiple sources: sampling error in the polls themselves, uncertainty about the house effect corrections, and uncertainty about how quickly vote intentions are changing.

The model then calculates a “win probability” for each race that takes three additional factors into account:

  • The time remaining between the current snapshot and the election.

  • The possibility that the polls could be wrong or that some sort of major event could shake up a race in ways that the current polls can’t measure.

  • The proportion of “undecided” voters in the polls. If the undecided proportion is high relative to the expected margin between the candidates, the outcome of that race must be less certain.

NEW POLL GIVES GOP THE LEAD IN IOWA - From a just-released Quinnipiac survey: "Neutralizing the traditional Democratic lead among women voters, Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst leads U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democrat, 50 - 44 percent among likely voters in the race to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin in Iowa, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Ernst leads among men 56 - 39 percent, while Braley leads among women by a smaller 50 - 44 percent margin, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. This survey of likely voters can not be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters….By a 45 - 39 percent margin, Iowa likely voters have a favorable opinion of Ernst. Braley gets a 38 percent favorability rating, while 41 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him." [Quinnipiac]

Breaks a string of better polling for Braley - The previous three surveys of the race released in September -- from CNN, Loras College and CBS/NYT/YouGov -- found Braley up by 1 to 4 points. The last poll to show either candidate up by more than 4 points was a Loras College poll conducted immediately after the Republican primary, which gave Ernst a 6-point lead. HuffPost Pollster's model, not yet including the new Quinnipac results, rates the race as a tossup. [Iowa chart]

GOP GAINING STRENGTH AHEAD OF MIDTERMS, SURVEY FINDS - Megan Thee-Brenan: "A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s approval ratings are similar to those of President George W. Bush in 2006 when Democrats swept both houses of Congress in the midterm elections. A deeply unpopular Republican Party is nonetheless gaining strength heading into the midterms, as the American public’s frustration with Mr. Obama has manifested itself in low ratings for his handling of foreign policy and terrorism. The generic ballot question, which measures national sentiment for the House of Representatives vote, shows a notable swing of voters toward the Republican Party and away from Democrats. Voters’ dissatisfaction with their own representatives has hit a high as nearly two-thirds say they are ready to throw their own representatives out of office." [NYT]

A QUARTER OF AMERICANS ARE WORRIED ABOUT EBOLA - CNN: "While President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States 'are extremely low,' roughly one in four Americans are worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of the virus, according to a new survey. The CNN/ORC International poll, which was released Tuesday, indicates that 27% of Americans are concerned, compared to 73% who are not worried. More people, 41%, are worried about being victimized by terrorism….According to the new survey, more women than men fear that someone in their family will contract the disease, 32% to 21%." [CNN]

DEMOCRATS SPENDING MORE IN SENATE & HOUSE ADS - Wesleyan Media Project: "In the past two weeks, advertising in federal and gubernatorial races has not only increased in volume compared to the same period in 2010, but is more negative as well. Democratic advertising has outpaced Republicans advertising over the past two weeks in House and Senate races, while Republicans hold an edge in gubernatorial races....'Clearly, Democrats are starting to reverse the early Republican lead in the ad war,' said Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. 'Forecasts of House races suggest that the Republicans will keep control of the chamber, but Democrats are working hard to hold on to–or tip—every competitive seat,' he added....Figure 1 depicts which party held the ad advantage in each media market over the past two weeks, with separate maps for House and Senate advertising. Blue, which indicates a Democratic ad advantage, is much more common than red, which indicates a Republican ad advantage. [Wesleyan.edu]


-Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics: "If you look at these maps, the polling trends we've seen make an awful lot more sense. http://t.co/TvCWM2YZUL" [@SeanTrende]

-Harry Enten: "Democratic Senate candidates and the outside groups supporting them have enjoyed advertising edges in almost all the competitive Senate contests over the past few weeks. Three of their larger advertising leads have been in Colorado, Michigan and North Carolina — the three states where we’ve seen the biggest movements toward Democratic candidates in the FiveThirtyEight forecasts. New Hampshire, one of the few competitive states to move toward the GOP over the last week, is also one of the few states where Republicans have had an advertising advantage." [538]

REVIEWING NEW HAMPSHIRE'S 'PLENTIFUL' POLLING - Steve Koczela: "This is the fifth poll on the [New Hampshire] Senate race released since the primary, which was just seven days ago….If five polls seems like a lot for one state, it’s nothing new for New Hampshire. The state’s small size and large share of closely watched races mean New Hampshire residents are polled far more than residents of any other state….From the 2012 race through to this writing, there were 117 publicly released polls in New Hampshire, with a total of 85,209 individual interviews (phone calls, online interviews, etc). This works out to one interview per 16 New Hampshire residents. Next closest is Montana, with one interview per 25 residents. The rest of the states have at most one per 44 residents. While a few other states have had a higher number of polls, no other state has seen such a concentration of polls per resident of the state." [WBUR]

Everyone's been called? - Koczela's calculations cannot include most of the internal surveys conducted by campaigns that are never publicly disclosed, though their volume is presumably just as heavy in New Hampshire as the public polls. Consider the Obama campaign alone, which completed interviews with as many as 6,000 New Hampshire voters a week during the last two months of the 2012 elections, including both traditional and analytic model polling. Factor in response rates that in most cases now fall below 10 percent, and it's probable that nearly every New Hampshire voter -- especially those with listed landline phones -- has been called by a pollster in recent years, most more than once. [HuffPollster on 2012 Obama polling]

HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this daily update every weekday morning via email! Just click here, enter your email address, and and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).

WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Trust in mass media returns to an all-time low. [Gallup]

-The majority of African-American and Hispanic news consumers don't fully trust the media to portray their communities accurately. [AP]

-Charlie Cook gives Republicans the edge in November's Senate election, but outlines what could go wrong for them. [National Journal]

-Jonathan Bernstein is looking forward to a long election night. [Bloomberg]

-Harry Enten hits Michigan's Mitchell Research for taking a mulligan on a survey. [538]

-Nate Silver explains the details of his Senate forecast. [538]

-Carl Bialik breaks down the differences between the policy preferences of Scots and other Brits ahead of Thursday's vote on Scottish independence. [538]

-Mark Mellman (D) finds the U.S. no longer isolationist on ISIS. [The Hill]

-Ben Highton looks into why the Election Lab forecast is looking better and better for Democrats. [WashPost]

-Brent Benson plots the rise of internet usage and the decline in landline phones on one chart. [MassNumbers]

-Virginia voters support Medicaid expansion but worry about the cost. [Christopher Newport University]
05:50 Ancient Egyptian Woman with 70 Hair Extensions Discovered» LiveScience.com
More than 3,300 years ago, in a newly built city in Egypt, a woman with an elaborate hairstyle of lengthy hair extensions was laid to rest. She is one of hundreds of people, including many others with intact hairstyles, buried in a cemetery.
05:46 Why the Biggest Climate March in History Will Build The Movement Against Climate Protection» Politics - The Huffington Post
And Four Ways to Build a Right-Left Coalition to Protect the Planet

This Sunday in New York, hundreds of thousands of climate activists will take to the streets to rejuvenate grassroots, media, and political support with "the biggest climate march in history."

They may succeed -- but not in the way they hope. The march is proving to be a grassroots bonanza for climate "skeptics," who are already leveraging the event to boost their movement, according to Future 500's analysis of activism in the lead up to the march.

Breitbart, Fox, and The New American are among the social and broadcast media that conservative political strategists are recruiting, to turn the "People's Climate March" into a net gain for their candidates and clients.

"'People's Climate March' Tied to International Corporations," declares Breitbart News, which says that Dell, Ikea, HP, Nike, News Corp., and Bloomberg are among the supposed corporate backers of the event.

"Billionaires and Communists Plan 'People's Climate March,'" reports The New American, which accuses the "Rockefeller-funded alarmist organization 350.org" of orchestrating a "global rent-a-mob" that will "converge in New York to plot a new anti-carbon regime for humanity," and impose "carbon taxes, energy rationing, (and) mass wealth redistribution from Western taxpayers to Third World dictators, further empowering the UN, and imposing a draconian planetary regime supposedly aimed at curbing 'global warming' that will devastate the poor."

Phew. Meanwhile, a few leading progressive activists are doing their best to validate the conspiracy theories of the far right. Naomi Klein, the best-selling author and speaker, will launch her latest book during this Sunday's march, calling on progressives to harness the climate "shock doctrine" to launch a wholesale campaign to replace capitalism with a global planning regime that imposes tough carbon standards on global businesses.

Her prescriptions sound like a Top Ten list of a Libertarian's Worst Nightmares.
Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, re-localize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as "people" under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative.

Phew again. It's no wonder many free market advocates don't want to admit that carbon could possibly be a pollutant. Klein's impulsive solution set may sound reasonable to middle class progressives living in big American cities or suburbs. But they are a predictable compilation of ideas-off-the-top-of-our-heads from the early 1970s. There is nothing organic about them -- they are forced, urgent, and panicked. They show little understanding of how sustainability actually works in nature or the economy. And if adopted in whole, they would likely drive more depletion, not less.

With allies like Klein, effective climate advocates truly don't need enemies. That's because, after two generations of gloom-and-doom messaging, climate activists like Klein have spawned a powerful opposition, whose members are newer, fresher, and more motivated to press their conviction that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the left to undermine capitalist free enterprise. Every time, progressives like Klein tell their skewed version of the "truth," money and people flow into conservative coffers, and elect politicians who spew climate denial.

Yes, I understand the ecological risks we face. In the industrial era, human actions have driven global carbon concentrations from 280 ppm to more than 400 ppm today, and the rise will doubtless continue for generations. But that's no reason to commit political suicide. We've had enough panic. It's time now to focus not on the crisis, but the opportunity -- the realization that we truly do have it within us, individually and as a species, to overcome our present obstacles, and thrive sustainably.

In the more than 40 years I have been active in the environmental movement, I have moved from deep pessimism in my teens and early 20s, to soaring optimism in my late 20s and 30s, and now to what I hope is a well-founded combination of optimism and pessimism -- a realistic idealism in which our actions decide our future.

What I see is that we have a choice, to either stand still, and forcibly impose a green-and-black version of the status quo, or step forward along a very appealing path that has formed beneath our feet, one along which both freedom and sustainability can advance.

For inspiration on how to do so, I look to the ideas and insights of optimistic environmentalists, who see the risks but also sense the possibilities of our present predicament. People like William McDonough, who sees our capacity to create value by design. Amory Lovins, who wants us to reinvent fire. Janine Benyus, who knows nature not as a source of fuels to be extracted and used up, but as a source of ideas and innovations that we can mimic.

I also gain inspiration from the possibilities recently unleashed in our economy and culture, through which we are already taking steps beyond the merely industrial. In the digital age, we are cultivating a kind of growth founded not on fossil fuels and raw materials, but on knowledge and smart design.

Last century, industrialism succeeded in making us materially prosperous, by expanding the productivity of our labor at just 3% per year. In the course of a century, that enabled us to gain 14 times as much material benefit from every hour we worked, compared with the beginning of the century.

But there was a price to prosperity. The first price we paid was our autonomy, our control over our own lives. We had to sacrifice a bit of our autonomy, to work in factories, offices, and assembly lines, and become small parts in large industrial enterprises.

This diminished us in many ways, but the trade was worthwhile, because together we built a civilization with which we could feed and nourish not only our bodies, but also our minds and ultimately, I suspect, our hearts.

Now, thanks to the industrial era, we have birthed a set of digital technologies with which we can reverse the flow of power, from the vast industrial institutions of our recent past, back to the communities, families, and individuals that sacrificed their power and their sense of connection for the greater good.

Those technologies have the capacity to drive broader gains in productivity than anything we experienced in the industrial age. Because they are founded on knowledge, they can increase the productivity not just of labor but also of energy and materials -- by much more than today's 1 percent or 2 percent a year, and perhaps significantly beyond last century's 3 percent rates. Instead of working less and consuming more, we can now consume less and prosper more.

It is time for conservatives and progressives to work together for this goal. Both would win -- conservatives by advancing economic freedom and prosperity, and progressives by advancing the interests of people and planet at once. The power of big government and big corporations could both be constrained; the power of people and small communities could both be advanced.

But vested interests on the left and right don't want their ideological foils to join together. Today the progressive and conservative bases can be readily played against each other, to lock in yesterday's status quo interests.

There is a way to overcome the interest groups, and advance climate solutions that earn support from the left and right.

A generation ago in California, I led a movement for a major environmental law that seemed to have no chance of passing. After years of failure, some of my allies were determined to turn up the volume and overwhelm lawmakers with public demands for action -- more protests, more community organizing, more alarm bells about the consequences of our failure to act.

I proposed the opposite approach. We already had enough public support, I argued. Now what we needed was to split the opposition. That meant moving toward them, not away from them. It meant acknowledging their concerns, solving their problems, and meeting their needs, not ours.

That strategy worked. We mobilized a surprisingly broad-based alliance of progressive, conservative, religious, and business leaders to our side. Together we devised a better law, one that earned strong bipartisan support, and was signed into law by a Republican governor.

Today, we need to take the same approach to break climate gridlock. But building a successful political coalition requires that we let go of certain ideological assumptions which lock us into our consumptive, non-sustainable, big institution dependent, power centralizing past:

First, we must let go of our perceived political demon-enemies -- the climate skeptics whose words and deeds, though nonviolent, seem antithetical to our interests. We must not be affected by their demonization of us, other than to see what they truly want us to understand. And we must cease to demonize them, or they will never understand us.

Second, we must change our policy strategy, from one that seeks to command-and-control a sustainable economy into existence, to a set of policies that wean us gradually off our dependencies, and cultivate sustainable prosperity the way nature itself does, through feedback-and-adaptation.

Third, we must change our political coalition, from one that pits a small set of activists, donors, and business interests against a much bigger and more powerful one, to a new coalition in which we join with parallel movements that include the left and right, religious and spiritual, digital and manufacturing sectors, major brands, and even giant oil, gas, and mining companies that know they can and will change.

Fourth, we must recognize that the core objectives of our most passionate adversaries are actually the missing pieces that enable our success. We need to hear the religious conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, the Tea Party, and the libertarian community. We know they are hypocritical, and they know we are -- we're all human. But as we begin to hear them, they will begin to hear us, and see how today's economic injustices and ecological exploitation run counter to their ideals of life, liberty, tradition, fiscal sanity, spiritual sanctity, and individual freedom.

Instead of today's mutual denial, where each movement discounts the importance of the other's mission, we need to listen and hear what our adversaries want us to understand. Because until they know that we care, they won't care what we know.

It is only in alliance with them that we will overcome our true adversaries: our institutional selves, the big interests we are all a part of, but do not control; the institutions to whom we granted our power and autonomy, in exchange for industrial era prosperity. There is no need to destroy these institutions -- in doing so, we would destroy ourselves. Our opportunity instead is to evolve them into new forms, in which some of the power we placed in them is returned to the individuals and small groups that are the source of our creativity, our resilience, and our sustainability.

I understand that the gloom-and-doom ideology is an effective political organizing tool. When I ran grassroots environmental groups, we tested negative and positive messages against one another. Negative messages that demonized our enemies outperformed positive messages two-to-one. Imminent threats tripled the dollars and volunteers yielded by a mail or phone campaign. The activist fundraising marketplace literally demands that our adversaries be evil and our challenges overwhelming -- or it denies us the capacity to do our work at all.

Battling the demon also made us feel good -- it seems to be in our tribal nature to often see only virtue in our community, and only vice in the other. It makes it easier to kill.

But we ought not believe our own press releases, fundraising letters, or other tribal calls-to-arms. Nor should we accept that this is the only way we can advance our causes. Even if we cannot let go of the demon entirely, it is important that we substantially narrow our characterizations of him. He is not something immense like "capitalism" or "corporations" or "all progressives" or "all conservatives." He is, generally, a small component of a system that has outlived its usefulness. He does not need to be destroyed. He simply needs to change, and often he will do so as much by choice as by compulsion, so that in the end, no one is sure just what led to the change.

The nation knows climate change is real, and that action is needed. We don't need to yell it louder. Instead, we need to listen to our adversaries, until we genuinely hear them. And then we need to speak softly, in reply, about how we can move forward, respectfully, sensibly, together.

This article is adapted from the book, Innovation Nation (published 2014, Affinity Press, New York) by Bill Shireman, President of Future 500, a global nonprofit specializing in stakeholder engagement and building bridges between parties at odds - often corporations and NGOs, the political right and left, and others - to advance systemic solutions to urgent sustainability challenges.
05:46 GOP Gives 'Big Boost' To Women» Politics - The Huffington Post
For the last few election cycles, Republicans have demonstrated an inability to break through the glass ceiling in terms of attracting women as both voters and candidates.
05:41 Naomi Klein on climate failure: “It’s not that we’ve done nothing. We’ve done the wrong things.”» Salon.com
We can't fight global warming without taking on the system, the journalist tells Salon

05:41 A suggestion for the House Benghazi committee: Let’s talk about private military contractors» Salon.com
Here's a topic Benghazi hearings should cover: Military contractors' enormous role, and their shameful treatment

05:37 On Beyond Preschool: Alleviating Poverty Over a Lifespan» Politics - The Huffington Post

Preschool is good for disadvantaged children. But is preschool alone sufficient to significantly reduce poverty and inequality? Like many researchers, I'm delighted about the current enthusiasm for preschool at the policy level, and would not want to throw cold water on it. Yet almost all studies of garden-variety replicable preschool programs show that the clear positive effects of preschool in the early grades fade as children go through elementary school. This should not be a cause for despair, but rather for realism about how to help children succeed all the way through to adulthood. If preschool is seen as the first step in a multi-step societal strategy, it is worthy of all the attention and investment it is currently receiving. If we're counting on preschool alone to solve all problems, we're just not being serious.

Isabel Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow at the Brookings Institution recently issued a paper making exactly this point, and illustrating it with evidence. They argue for intervening early and often rather than once and done. To support their position, they take proven, replicable programs that are readily available and imagine that government provided disadvantaged children with all of them in sequence, from early childhood to adolescence.

Sawhill & Karpilow start with a gap in "success rates" at various ages between children born into families living above or below 200 percent of the poverty line. The gap in chances of entering the middle class is 20 percentage points at age 40.

According to the authors, preschool participation plus the HIPPY parenting program could reduce a 22 percent "success gap" at school entry by 14 percentage points. Yet this falls to 5 points by middle childhood, 3 points by adolescence, and 2 points by middle age. By this analysis, preschool is necessary but not sufficient to significantly reduce inequality.

Sawhill and Karpilow then (statistically) added in our Success for All program plus social-emotional learning interventions in elementary school. They also added in the Talent Development high school model.

The final result, by their estimates, was an elimination of the poverty gap in early and middle childhood. By adulthood, these interventions were estimated to reduce the 20-point success gap by 15 percentage points.

The exact size of the gap reduction is speculative, of course, but it's the thinking that matters here, not the specifics. It never made sense that one big inoculation in preschool would set up a child for success throughout his or her life. Poverty isn't like polio, which can be cured in one treatment. The factors that lead to a child being in a disadvantaged family at preschool are likely to persist afterwards, and top-quality education is needed at every age to help children overcome effects of poverty. Seen as a good start in a series of proven approaches appropriate to children's needs from preschool through high school, preschool makes good sense. But if we fail to follow up with effective programs for the elementary and secondary grades, we will still have a lot of unnecessary inequality when today's toddlers become tomorrow's taxpayers.
05:37 Photos: 3,300-Year-Old Egyptian Hairstyles Revealed » LiveScience.com
The remains of hundreds of ancient Egyptians have been discovered in a cemetery near an ancient city now called Amarna. One skeleton belonged to a woman who wore a complex hairstyle with 70 lengthy hair extensions.
05:36 Do You Love Liberals Or Conservatives? The Nose Knows» Politics - The Huffington Post
Instead of asking new mates about where they stand on key political issues, you could just lean forward and take a big whiff.

In a study recently published in the American Journal of Political Science, lead investigator Rose McDermott, Ph.D., of Brown University, found that adults were more likely to be attracted to the body odors of people who had similar political beliefs and repelled by the body odors of those with opposing ideologies.

"People could not predict the political ideology of others by smell if you asked them, but they differentially found the smell of those who aligned with them more attractive,” said McDermott in a press release about the study. "So I believe smell conveys important information about long-term affinity in political ideology that becomes incorporated into a key component of subconscious attraction.”

Mates tend to end up with people with similar political beliefs more than any other trait besides religion, yet scientists still don’t full understand why this is, writes McDermott in her study. Her finding suggests that the nose may have an important role to play in sniffing out a potential suitor by contributing to a “subconscious sexual attraction” to certain body odors.

To test her theory, McDermott recruited 146 adults under age 40 to be part of the experiment. Ten from the group identified as staunch liberals and 11 as staunch conservatives, with the rest ranking in the middle.

Researchers collected body odor samples from the 21 deeply political cohort and asked the remaining 125 participants to sniff the samples, which were randomized, and rate them on a five-point scale of attractiveness. They were also asked to guess the political views of each body odor's owner.

In a "blind" test, people were most attracted to the body odors of those who were later revealed to have similar political beliefs, and repelled by the odors that turned out to belong to their ideological opposites.

To illustrate the extreme nature of these reactions, the study authors included this story:

In one particularly illustrative case, a participant asked the experimenter if she could take one of the vials home with her because she thought it was "the best perfume I ever smelled"; the vial was from a male who shared an ideology similar to the evaluator. She was preceded with another respondent with an ideology opposite to the person who provided the exact same sample; this participant reported that the vial had "gone rancid" and suggested it needed to be replaced.

So how does this come into play when choosing a mate? While McDermott isn't saying that our nose does the picking, she does suggest that smells can operate on a subtler level to regulate certain hormones and influence your moods.

"While people can choose to dismiss or ignore these signals in favor of more conscious considerations, it appears nature stacks the deck to make politically similar partners more attractive to each other in unconscious ways, at least over the long haul,” she writes in the study.

Of course, there are more potential reasons that people are drawn to certain body odors besides political ideology. McDermott’s research builds on past studies that suggest people’s noses prefer mates that are socially compatible and genetically dissimilar to them, which would make reproduction more successful and broaden the immune systems of their potential offspring.

A 2012 study from UCLA researchers found that men were more drawn to a woman’s scent if she was ovulating (the most fertile time of the month) than if she wasn’t ovulating. In the same vein, researchers in 2007 found that women who were lap dancers earned more money in tips when they were ovulating than in other parts of the menstrual cycle.

The role of scents and pheromones in human courtship is still an emerging field of research, but it has already inspired scientifically-backed (yet socially questionable) matchmaking events like Pheromone Parties, where people looking for love wear the same white t-shirt for three days, bring the shirt in a zip lock bag, and throw it in the pile to be sniffed out and chosen by potential mates.
05:30 Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9am ET!» Daily Kos
Enjoy new Pumpkin Spice Kagro in the Morning
I don't know if it's really possible to enjoy pumpkin spice anything, but we're going to give it a shot.

At least it's Wednesday, which we call Joan McCarterday. Because it's the day when the show has Joan McCarter on it, obviously. I only said that because I needed to type Joan's name a second time, so that I could bold it and it wouldn't look funny.

We'll catch up on all things Daily Kos, probably tsk-tsk disapprovingly at the national security landscape, and draw on the vast reservoir of stuff I haven't gotten to yet. All with a dash of delicious Fall Flavor!

Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.

Listen LIVE at 9:00 ET, here: The Daily Kos Radio Player

Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

Can't see the live stream and/or podcast players in these posts? Do you use NoScript or something similar to control Javascript? Want to? Remember to enable Libsyn and Shoutcastplayer, and you'll see our players every morning!


Listen to Stitcher
Help support the show through Stitcher's revenue sharing program. Be one of 5,000 "active listeners" per month, and, well, they send us money. All you need to do, believe it or not, is listen to 30 seconds of a show, once in a month. Seriously! Choose any one of the shows at this link, listen to 30 seconds' worth, and you're on board!

How are we doing on that? Well, it's been a little underwhelming, to be honest. Hundreds of thousands of you come through here every day, but I only tricked succeeded in convincing 762 of you to do this last month. So if you're seeing this and you didn't participate last month because you figured there were thousands upon thousands of your fellow Kossacks filling the quota, we could use your help on that.

Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

05:30 Best Obamacare Court Argument Ever » Latest from Crooks and Liars
Best Obamacare Court Argument Ever

The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons is an arm of the Kochtopus, funded by associated conservative groups to fight Obamacare on all levels. Closely associated with Ron and Rand Paul, the AAPS gives seminars around the country educating doctors on how to defeat Obamacare.

One of their favorite techniques is to recommend cash-only practices that accept no insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. But they've hit a snag. Since Obamacare came into being and more people have health insurance, they're not inclined to go to doctors who don't accept insurance. Imagine that.

So they went to court. And then they went to appellate court. And during today's arguments, the judge ripped their attorney, Andrew Schlafly, and he ripped him hard.

Courthouse News:

He then argued that people forced to buy insurance will never seek out cash practices in order to avoid paying for healthcare twice.

This did not satisfy Posner. "That's like saying people who get food stamps don't pay as much for groceries."

"We don't try to trace through all levels of the economy," Judge Frank Easterbook added.

Schlafly tried again: "In a concurring opinion by Justice Potter Stewart ..."

"Concurring opinions and $2.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks," Easterbook laughed. "I'm asking if you know of the Supreme Court ever allowing someone to sue for someone else's tax!"

read more

05:29 Suicide Is a National Epidemic» Politics - The Huffington Post
"Cowardly." "A heathen." "Selfish."

Those are the words some used to describe Robin Williams after he tragically took his own life this past August.

These insults demonstrate that even after millions of dollars spent by the federal government on anti-stigma and public awareness campaigns, there remains significant ignorance and misunderstanding about the causes of suicide.

With September being National Suicide Prevention Month, there exists an opportunity to dispel common misconceptions. This Thursday, as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I will convene a hearing to focus the national conversation on combating this public health crisis, evaluating current federal efforts, and bringing to the forefront evidence-based practices to help those most at-risk of suicide.

First, let's dispel the myths.

Myth Number One: "Suicide is not that common."
This year, 9 million adults will have serious thoughts of suicide; 2.7 million will make suicide plans; 1.3 million will attempt suicide; and nearly 40,000 will die by suicide. One suicide occurs every 13 minutes, one veteran commits suicide every hour, and more will die by suicide this year than in car accidents.

Myth Number Two: "Those who die by suicide should have just pulled it together and carried on."
The vast majority of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Mental illness is a contributing factor in 90 percent of suicides and the risk of suicide increases more than 50 percent in individuals experiencing depression. Mental illnesses can fundamentally change the pathways of the brain, making it difficult for those of us without this disease to comprehend what compels an individual to take his or her own life. Furthermore, some who die by suicide believe their disappearance eases the burden on their family.

Myth Number Three: "Suicide is well planned and a thoughtful act."
What many people still don't understand is the often impulsive nature of those experience suicidal thoughts. A common misconception is those who take their own lives spend a long time planning when in fact, 25 percent who attempt suicide do so within five minutes of their initial decision, and more than 70 percent do so within the first hour.

Although there is a lot we know about suicide, these myths continue to perpetuate because we don't understand enough about why certain populations are at higher risk, and what is happening in the brain at the time of suicide. In its 2013 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "additional research is needed to understand the cause of the increase... and why the extent of the increase varies."

Suicide is a public health crisis demanding a policy response that, to date, has been tepid at best. Public awareness campaigns have not only failed to eliminate stigma against those with mental illness, bur have also failed to reduce suicide rates amongst youth, or arrest the alarming increase in suicides amongst middle-aged and older adults.

Over the last decade, the rate suicide amongst young people has remained unchanged; suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst those age 15 to 24. Meanwhile, the rate of suicide for those ages 35 to 64 has increased an astonishing 28 percent and the act of suffocation or hanging increased fully 81 percent, according to the CDC.

The impulsive nature, and correlation with mental illness, requires us to treat suicide as a public health crisis and develop a better policy framework to get to those needing help long before their mental health crisis results in tragedy. To this end I have introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717), which authorizes research at the National Institute of Mental Health to enhance our understanding of suicide and advance evidence-based approaches to prevention that are not solely centered around raising awareness. My legislation also reauthorizes the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which is the largest youth suicide prevention and early intervention program in the county. However, the program does not address the full scope of suicide, which can affect individuals of any age.

Families with loved ones battling a serious mental illness are well aware there is a problem. Unfortunately, a small percentage of those with serious mental illness are not aware that they have a problem. But, all of us should be painfully aware based on these statistics that our system is failing to deliver meaningful help when someone is in mental health crisis. If we saw any other disease in this county that had a number as high as those for suicide, we would call upon our civic institutions, the National Institute of Health and others to take action. We would certainly call upon Congress to act.

We can save lives and help families in mental health crisis but only if we, as a nation, have the courage to confront mental illness and address the suicide epidemic head on. We can no longer ignore it because too many lives are at stake.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.), a psychologist, represents Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District and is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Have a story about depression that you'd like to share? Email strongertogether@huffingtonpost.com, or give us a call at (860) 348-3376, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
05:25 Religious right’s warped icon: Why Mike Huckabee is wingnuts’ best white hope for ’16» Salon.com
Imagine the smug smile of the Gipper plus the nasty politics of Ted Cruz. Why it's a mistake to count Huckabee out

05:17 Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday» Daily Kos
C&J Banner


Parchment is Brittle---Do Not Eat!

I hope you put some extra starch in your bloomers this morning because no slouching is allowed on Constitution Day. 227 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by delegates from 12 states. And you can thank a wily West Virginia Democrat for making us pay attention to the damn thing at least once a freakin' year:

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Craaazy Bob!
Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document. Senator Byrd once said, "Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world." … In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution.
Fun facts:
Closeup of the U.S. Constitution
Yeah, even that jerk Gladys in HR.
The U.S. Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.

More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.

According to the Daily Show's classic history manual America (The Book), the early reviews were boffo:
Pabst Blue Ribbon logo
After the signing,
they enjoyed this
fine malt beverage.
"Checks, balances, executive, legislative, judiciary--this baby's got it all!"
---George Washington, Mount Vernon Bee-Dispatch

"The Constitution grabs you right from the Preamble and doesn't let go until the last Article…the must-ratify document of the summer!"
---Alexander Hamilton, New York Post

"Belongs in the so-bad-it's-good genre of political charters…destined to become the kind of camp classic revered by some of our more, shall we say, 'unmarried' friends."
---Melancton Smith, "Melancton's Musings" (syndicated column)

Take the quiz here. It should be noted that Republicans care very deeply about the Constitution, and pledge to fight tooth and nail for every single word...during Democratic presidencies.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

05:00 Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Pat Roberts is trailing big-time in Kansas» Daily Kos
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R)
Pat Roberts (on right)
Leading Off:

KS-Sen: PPP's new poll of the Sunflower State, their first since Democrat Chad Taylor announced he was dropping his bid for Senate, confirms that Kansas—Kansas!—has cemented its position as the most exciting state of the 2014 election cycle. Taylor's status remains uncertain, though: The state Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday morning as to whether Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach should remove his name from the ballot (Kobach's refused to), and election law expert Rick Hasen thinks that Taylor's likely to prevail.

Fortunately, while we wait for the court to rule, PPP checked in on both possible scenarios—i.e., with Taylor on the ballot and with Taylor off—but in both cases, the news is equally dire for Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. In a three-way race, which is what we still have for the moment, independent businessman Greg Orman holds a 7-point lead:

Greg Orman (I): 41

Pat Roberts (R): 34

Chad Taylor (D): 6

Randall Batson (Lib): 4

Undecided: 15

Unlike SurveyUSA, which recently found Taylor at 10 percent despite informing respondents that he'd quit, PPP didn't prime the folks they interviewed. Instead, they asked Taylor supporters after the horserace question above whether they knew he'd dropped out, and 36 percent said they were, in fact, not aware.

That's good news for Orman, because this group of inattentive voters is heavily Democratic (42 percent, versus just 12 percent Republican). That means they're more likely to come over to his side once they learn Taylor's not running, even if his name does formally remain on the ballot. (Of course, it'll be a struggle to get folks who haven't paid attention to the single biggest political story in Kansas in the past month out to the polls, but that's a separate problem.)

And in the event that the Supreme Court does side with Taylor, PPP's numbers show that such a development would indeed redound to Orman's advantage. In a direct head-to-head matchup without Taylor or Batson, the Libertarian, Orman holds a huge 46-36 lead on Roberts, whose job approval rating remains mired at a miserable 29-46, unchanged from his 27-44 score in August. Orman, meanwhile, has seen his standing surge with voters, despite Republican attacks that he's a stealth Democrat who's Harry Reid's willing puppet: His favorability rating has jumped to 39-19, up from 24-12 a month ago.

That won't last, because the GOP has yet to train its biggest guns on Orman, and they most certainly will. But Roberts, despite a peppy debate performance 10 days ago, still hasn't managed to stanch the bleeding. It's hard to get over what's happening in Kansas, which last sent a Democrat to the Senate in 1932, but yeah, it's happening.

05:00 Mike's Blog Round Up» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Mike's Blog Round Up

his vorpal sword -Bobby Jindal, Marx brother;

Lawyers, Guns & Money - the Alito minimalist special;

No More Mr. Nice Blog - Billary ... Billary ...

Ramona's Voices - kids and corporal punishment;

The American Prospect - just when I thought I was out ...

blogenfreude blogs at stinque.com - have a Seinfeld Ferrari;

Send tips to MBRU at crooksandliars dot com.

05:00 Cenk Uygur Takes Joe Scarborough To School On Politics And The Koch Brothers» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Cenk Uygur Takes Joe Scarborough To School On Politics And The Koch Brothers

The Young Turks Cenk Uygur takes MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to task for his criticism of Harry Reid for going after the Koch brothers and the Democrats' strategy of making them the target in their campaign ads.

Despite their best efforts to carry water for the Kochs for months on end now, as Cenk pointed out in the clip above, Harry Reid's strategy is working.

Still, it’s not just Varoga who’s finding that Democrats may be on to something. A strategy memo summarizing recent polling for a group that has targeted Republican incumbents over climate change contained similar findings.

read more

04:57 Poll: Record-low on foreign policy» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The survey says 34 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of foreign policy issues.
04:57 Man accused of trying to aid ISIL» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Mufid Elfgeeh, 30, of Rochester, is indicted on three counts of attempting to provide aid to ISIL.
04:23 American Front leader convicted on paramilitary training charges» Salon.com
Marcus Faella faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in November

04:23 Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: What could go wrong for Republicans?» Daily Kos

Current Senate prediction/forecast models

Fivethirtyeight: chance of Democratic control 43.7%
Upshot: 49%
Election Lab: 49.9%
HuffPost Pollster: 53%
Daily Kos poll explorer: 55%
Princeton Election Consortium (Sam Wang): 70%

Chris Cillizza:

So, what exactly has changed to move the Election Lab projection? Three big things:

* Colorado: On Aug. 27 — the last time I wrote a big piece on the model — Election Lab said Sen. Mark Udall (D) had a 64 percent chance of winning. Today he has a 94 percent chance.

* Iowa: Two weeks ago, the model gave state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) a 72 percent chance of winning. Today she has a 59 percent chance.

* Kansas: Republican Sen. Pat Roberts's reelection race wasn't even on the radar on Aug. 27. Today, Election Lab predicts that he has just a 68 percent chance of winning.

And that model may well be wrong about IA and KS.  But, to be fair to the model, a 60% e.g. chance of winning is a 40% chance of losing. And that's a good chance.

Charlie Cook:

Two examples quickly come to mind. In North Carolina, incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is holding onto a small lead that may be slowly expanding. This is happening in part because of the pounding they have been able to give state House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee. There is a sense that a spending disparity might be emerging in Iowa, where Democrats—specifically the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senate Majority PAC, Majority Leader Harry Reid's super PAC—have been attacking GOP nominee Joni Ernst in recent weeks.

Another reason things might not turn out for Republicans is if the highly touted Democratic Senate ground game comes together. Clearly the Obama campaign and Democratic allies had a superior voter-identification and get-out-the-vote operation two years ago. Earlier this year, Senate Democrats announced the Bannock Street Project, a $60 million program with the goal of putting in place 4,000 paid workers to use techniques perfected and put to work in 2010 by DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet in his race, and again two years ago by the Obama campaign. While some Republicans have scoffed at the likelihood of Democrats being able to mount such an effort, they concede that the Democratic ground game was superior two years ago. In midterm elections, if Democrats can crank up the turnout among young, female, and minority voters, then their chances of success this year increase.

Thus, if things go awry for Republicans on election night, some of the same factors that went wrong for them in 2012 will have been repeated.

More politics and policy below the fold.
04:19 Peterson benched after pols' insist» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Minnesota lawmakers speak out on the issue.
04:14 Playbook: Rand to California» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Paul will keynote the GOP fall convention in Los Angeles.
04:07 There’s no rationalization for corporal punishment: Why Adrian Peterson’s apologists are wrong» Salon.com
What the Vikings star did to his son wasn't "discipline" -- it was abuse. So why are so many giving him a pass?

04:07 America’s “ground troops” fiasco: Why Congress must straitjacket the presidency» Salon.com
President can't imagine ever deploying combat forces vs. ISIS. What if he changes his mind? What about post-2016?
04:07 Red meat is destroying the planet, and the Frankenburger could help save it» Salon.com
Cattle manure is responsible for 65 percent of the atmosphere's nitrous oxide. Lab-grown meat may offer a solution
04:07 The real Olive Garden scandal: Why greedy hedge funders suddenly care so much about breadsticks» Salon.com
Remember that "hilarious" report last week ripping the chain eatery to pieces? The back story will infuriate you
04:05 4,486 American Soldiers Have Died in Iraq. President Obama Is Continuing a Pointless and Deadly Quagmire.» Politics - The Huffington Post

I recently wrote a satirical article highlighting my view that if taxes and military service were required during every American military engagement, we'd never again wage wars with such ease and impulsiveness. Contrary to the erroneous and ridiculous interpretation of one website that claimed I believe "we're a nation of selfish sloths" (thanks for bothering to read my other articles before the knee-jerk reaction), the fact is that I believe we're a great nation, but one that is too emotionally inclined to justify military action from a terrorist video, or send other Americans off to counterinsurgency wars without realizing the full costs of such endeavors. To be clear, there is no satire in this post and these thoughts, as with all my writing, are my own; I'd never speak for anyone else and certainly not the men and women in uniform who protect this country and who've died in the Iraq War.

The purpose of remembering the 4,486 American soldiers who've died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a war that already ended in 2011, should be tied directly to the recent words of President Obama:

Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country ... We've done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat.

...Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.

... Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved -- especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.

... May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

First, there were a number of inaccurate statements in President Obama's speech. We already have "American combat troops fighting on foreign soil" as evident by the over 1,600 American military advisers recently sent to Iraq to help the Iraqis fight ISIS. Furthermore, General Martin Dempsey has already stated that American boots on the ground is a very real possibility, directly contradicting the President's speech. Second, all airstrikes are planned with the theoretical or imminent possibility of ground troops. Most importantly, the phrase "it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL" is a lie through omission; we've already spent over ten years in Iraq and "terror" hasn't been destroyed. Once al-Qaeda Iraq was defeated, ISIL took its place. To pretend that another group won't replace ISIL once ISIL is defeated, through another decade of war in Iraq, perhaps, is simply playing a dangerous game of semantics.

Also, the president states ISIL will be destroyed "through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy" but fails to mention we've already had that strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The COIN strategies of General McChrystal in Afghanistan and General Patraeus in Iraq did everything possible to ensure that terrorist groups were defeated, yet the Taliban exists in Afghanistan and ISIS now terrorizes Iraq. Obama's words ignore the reality that like a hydra, terror groups transform into new organizations once defeated and continue to engage in asymmetric warfare aimed at weakening infinitely more powerful armies. Of course ISIS can't defeat the U.S. militarily, but the point is what happens once it is defeated and Americans must still drive down roads filled with IED's and occupy cities to ensure that new threats don't resurface?

Thus far, the Iraq War has been the definition of a quagmire where the more energy spent trying to quell sectarian violence, terrorism, and bloodshed, the more each of these horrors continue to rear their ugly heads. It would be nice if President Obama had mentioned the sacrifice of soldiers and their families (just my opinion, not speaking on anyone else's behalf) and stated the ongoing VA crisis that our media and Congress have seemingly forgotten. After 4,486 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq and 2,345 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan, 1 million U.S. soldiers wounded in both wars, and a potential cost of up to $6 trillion, a new group like ISIL now causes havoc in the Middle East.

What's the point of fighting endless war against terrorists when all this sacrifice simply leads to new terrorist threats?

General Daniel Bolger recently wrote a book titled, Why We Lost, highlighting the lessons learned in a war that ended in 2011. It took just three years and ISIS beheading videos to ignore these lessons, and hopefully President Obama reads General Bolger's words quoted in Time magazine:

"Both wars were won, and we didn't know enough to go home" after about six months, Bolger argues.

... "Don't be so arrogant and think you're going to reshape the Middle East," Bolger says. "We've basically installed authoritarian dictators."

... "They should have been limited incursions and [then] pull out -- basically like Desert Storm," he adds, referring to the 1991 Gulf War that forced Saddam Hussein's forces out of neighboring Kuwait after an air campaign and 100-hour ground war. The U.S. wasn't up to perpetual war, even post-9/11. "This enemy wasn't amenable to the type of war we're good at fighting, which is a Desert Storm or a Kosovo."

Bolger said his views on the wars grew more sour during his three tours. "My guilt is not having earlier figured out what was going wrong, and making a more forceful case and working with my peer generals to make a better military recommendation," he says. "What eats at me the most is the 80 dead people I had in my command over my three tours, that eats at me a hell of a lot."

"Some say the Iraq surge of 2007 proved counterinsurgency tactics worked. Others point out that today's Iraq is a sectarian mess, undermining that belief. As for the Afghan surge of 2010-11, well, who knows? We cannot even say, or will not even say, who won these campaigns. It sure does not seem to be us..."

General Bolger's words are eloquent, blunt, and come from a leader of American troops in Iraq. Yes, ISIS is evil and should be destroyed, but it's the job of Iraqis (Iraq's 250,000 troops, Kurdish forces, Shia and Sunni who hate ISIS, and others) to defeat this threat to their country. As stated by General Bolger, the U.S. does well in short, limited wars with a clear military goal and objective. Once things turn into an endless fight, then the enemy isn't "amenable to the type of war we're good at fighting." As for his experience and firsthand knowledge, General Bolger explains, "I commanded a one-star advisory team in Iraq in 2005-06, an Army division (about 20,000 soldiers) in Baghdad in 2009-10, and a three-star advisory organization in Afghanistan in 2011-13." Therefore, it's safe to say he knows Iraq and the lessons President Obama has recently ignored.

Finally, General Martin Dempsey's recent statements about American ground troops possibly being deployed in the future is not only an honest assessment, but also a consequence of increased airstrikes. The one thing that Vietnam should have taught President Obama and his administration is that no amount of bombing can dislodge a guerrilla force within a foreign territory. Therefore, the real truth is that not one more American should be added to the 4,486 who've already died in Iraq, or the one million Americans injured out of the 2.5 million Americans who've served in both wars (the VA stopped listing "non-fatal" war injuries to the public so official figures are less than one million). Iraqis, with arms and funding from the West, should fight ISIS, and America should remember lessons learned just several years ago from the Iraq War. President Obama has unfortunately succumbed to the belief that "don't do stupid stuff" isn't a good foreign policy. Thus he's altered the philosophy that got him elected and is now implementing a costly, deadly, and unwise foreign policy with a new war in Iraq.
04:05 Editorials: Waking up to Ebola crisis» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The opinion pages of three major U.S. newspapers jab the White House for waiting too long.
03:36 Atheists don’t get terrorism: Why Sam Harris fails to understand the “Islamic threat”» Salon.com
Blaming acts of violence on the Muslim faith ignores the oppressive military factors that motivate jihadists

03:28 Bill Clinton: Vote 'no' in Scotland» POLITICO - TOP Stories
He says Scots could send a message "of both identity and inclusion" by voting to stay in the U.K.
03:24 Maher to fight Kline in his district» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The late-night host plans to take his Flip-a-District campaign straight to Minnesota.
03:16 Hannity, Gutierrez battle over ISIL» POLITICO - TOP Stories
They get into a fierce exchange over the importance of securing the U.S.'s southern border.
02:04 Obamacare: Game-changer to background noise» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The health care law is taking a back seat to economic anxiety and new crises this election season.
02:04 Congress blasts auto safety regulator» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The NHTSA insists it dealt with automakers aggressively and places the blame on GM.
02:03 Obama's dirty war» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Defeating ISIL might involve cozying up to unsavory groups in Syria.
00:19 Eyeing 2016, Marco Rubio Pushes American Strength Abroad» Politics - The Huffington Post

MIAMI (AP) — Sen. Marco Rubio is positioning himself as the leading foreign policy hawk among Republicans considering runs for the White House, pushing for more military spending and greater intervention abroad as the United States confronts Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.

The Florida senator and potential Republican presidential candidate supports President Barack Obama's strategy to arm moderate Syrian rebels battling the militants — and says American combat troops may be necessary to stop the march of Islamic State forces across the Middle East. On Wednesday, he is set to deliver a major national security speech at a conservative gathering in Washington, in which he is expected to call for increased defense spending and a reinvigorated American military.

Those positions create a contrast with some of his potential GOP rivals and could help repair Rubio's relations with conservative activists upset over his support for an immigration overhaul last year. The tough talk about fighting Islamic State extremists also could quell concerns among a broader swath of Republicans about the 43-year-old freshman senator's inexperience in global affairs — seen as a key vulnerability if Democrats nominate former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016.

Republican leaders see Obama's focus on winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a reluctance to use force as ripe for GOP critique in the coming presidential campaign. But some worry that their party's crop of young lawmakers would make less-than-convincing messengers.

Rubio's focus on foreign policy "allows someone who was the speaker of the House in Florida to preface his answers with, 'I said to the king of Jordan' and 'The prime minister of Japan said to me,'" said Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations. "That kind of statement is important when you're trying to prove, 'I know what I'm talking about.'"

There also is significant political risk. Recent polls show strong public support for military action in Iraq and Syria. But public opinion can swiftly change after a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts forecast a prolonged campaign against a terrorist group that spans several countries.

"Most Americans are not only war-weary but very wary of being left with a hostile situation and really no civil government that's there on the ground," said Richard Lugar, the former Republican senator from Indiana who led the Foreign Relations Committee.

In recent months, Rubio has used his perch as one of only two Republicans senators on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees to push for robust engagement on the world stage. He advocated tougher sanctions against Russia after its annexation of Crimea and its incursion into Ukraine and now wants the U.S. government to crack down on Venezuelan officials for human rights violations.

In an opinion piece aimed as much at his potential GOP rivals as Obama, Rubio took to the pages of The Washington Post last week to criticize the president for what he characterized as "the most disengaged presidential foreign policy in modern American history." He argued that the administration's failure to arm the Syrian rebels years ago — a plan he has long advocated — had helped foster the rise of "perhaps the most extreme, powerful and capable terrorist group ever."

"Presidents are not supposed to be witnesses to history," he wrote. "They are supposed to help shape it in America's favor."

Obama resisted military engagement in Syria for more than three years, wary of dragging the U.S. into yet another seemingly intractable Mideast conflict. He avoided arming rebels who oppose President Bashar Assad out of concern those weapons could fall into extremist hands. With the public opposed to intervention at the time, even Rubio opposed giving Obama authority to use missile strikes last year, saying the administration had waited too long to intervene.

The growing threat from Islamic State militants and the beheadings of two American journalists have changed those calculations.

For now, with recent polls showing majorities of Americans in both major political parties supporting plans for a military campaign against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, some GOP critics have begun to echo Rubio and other hawks in the party.

Earlier this month, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who had been skeptical of U.S. airstrikes, argued for some military force against the extremists in an opinion piece in Time magazine under the headline, "I Am Not an Isolationist." And Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another possible presidential contender who had been reluctant about American intervention, recently told activists at a conservative conference, "We ought to bomb (the militants) back to the Stone Age."

Unlike Rubio, however, Paul and Cruz oppose arming Syrian rebels, citing concerns about the ability to identify moderates in a country awash with rebel formations and shifting alliances.


Follow Michael J. Mishak on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mjmishak

Tue 16 September, 2014

23:05 Astronomy Detectives Reveal Origin of Monet's 'Impression' Painting» LiveScience.com
Astronomical clues could pinpoint the day Claude Monet painted "Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise)," the piece that lent its name to the Impressionist art movement.
22:56 Three Years Later, What Has Come of Occupy Wall Street?» Politics - The Huffington Post
This week marks the third anniversary of protesters descending on Wall Street to protest the havoc wrought by the 2008 Financial Meltdown, which had hit all Americans hard, except for the ones who had caused it.

What began as an open call from Adbusters to show up with a tent grew from dozens to hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands. Far from rejecting the extended sit-in, area businesses plied demonstrators with food and support. Those who could not make it to New York started their own hometown Occupy protests in solidarity, hundreds of them, across the country and around the world.

Adhering to the advertised mantra, "What is our one demand?" the Occupy activists connected with like-minded organizers in social justice and helped paint a portrait of the larger malfeasance plaguing society today: Bankers who had pushed derivatives industry-wide as a credible investment, while knowing they were bogus funds made of worthless mortgages, had led the stock and housing markets into a punishing recession, while using government bailouts to give themselves obscene bonuses despite their negligence. At this same time was an emerging generation of unemployed millennials saddled with unprecedented student debt, as the banks had consolidated the student loan racket with high interest rates and no chance of bankruptcy protection under President Bush.

And who was looking out for Americans in this modern Depression? Basically, no one, because things got so bad in the first place because our elected leaders have become so beholden to their campaign donors. Since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United allowed unlimited outside spending in elections, candidates had dropped all pretense of serving their constituents, instead shifting their attention (and positions) in deference to billionaire kingmakers and Super PACs.

When beholding such a zero-sum option, it might seem clear why the only option left would be to get everyone you know to go out to the streets and bring this messed up paradox to the attention of everybody. Which is why, for whatever Occupy Wall Street is remembered for at its height, it should be considered an intervention for the country -- a staged disruption by those who care, trying to alert an ailing entity to the damage it is inflicting. In this case, that entity with the destructive addictions is our modern political process, where who has the most money makes the rules, at the cost of all else -- if it's a Texas fertilizer plant exploding near a school, a chemical company polluting drinking water for all of West Virginia, or gun manufacturers decrying regulations despite massacred children.

With that is mind, assessing the impact of Occupy Wall Street might be best done by considering the goals of those who camped out in Zuccotti Park. For one, this was a protest, not a political party, so comparisons to the Tea Party are like apples and oranges. While the Tea Party turned outrage at the government into electoral gains (with a lot of help and money from the Kochs), Occupy Wall Street was at the opposite end of the spectrum - the end of the spectrum that views officeholders as courtesans for the corporate class. Asking Occupy activists why they didn't just start a political party and run for office is like asking an atheist why they didn't just pray harder.

Another essential in gauging the importance of Occupy Wall Street is recognizing that the Occupy movement did not simply fizzle out or lose steam. The fact is, Occupy encampments were broken up in a coordinated effort led by the Department of Homeland Security working with local police departments. This coordination was reported by Jason Leopold after acquiring DHS documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Far from losing momentum, the Occupy presence had grown so intense nationwide, gaining sustained media coverage, that this had become the biggest threat to the status quo in modern times. In widely documented raids, police drove protesters from public lands with blunt force, tear gas, and arrest, then proceeded to blame Occupy protesters for the mess that was left behind. Young protesters sprayed in the face with pepper spray without warning or provocation, rubber bullets fired at peaceful demonstrators, police charging with batons, this is what oppression looked like in 2011. This marked the era of the militarized police force, which has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Ferguson PD's effort at martial law in Missouri.

So, besides the realization that heavily armed police forces consider themselves at war with their own communities, what else can we attribute to Occupy Wall Street with the benefit of hindsight? The immediate impact seemed to be how the debate in America changed almost overnight. No sooner had President Obama assumed office in 2009 than Republicans and conservatives began howling about deficit reduction. This sounds like a normal thing you do when you are running a first-world nation, but a more accurate way to look at it is that Republicans and Tea Partiers were demanding that Obama pay off the credit card charges from Bush/Cheney's trillion-dollar war, as well as their $2 trillion giveaway in taxes to the very rich. And they were acting like these bills arrived with the Obama family in the White House. Without fail, the mainstream media and Beltway punditry wrung their hands about what Obama was gong to do with this mess, that he better do something or we'd go off the fiscal cliff that John Boehner just made up, and it would be all Obama's fault that Boehner refused to hold a vote on basic government funding like every Congress before him.

But a funny thing happened when a few folks started talking about the richest one percent using their money to work the political system to get even richer. "WE ARE THE 99%" became the rallying cry of a generation. The simplicity and inclusivity was said to be worthy of Madison Avenue. At once the conversation had shifted, and in that discourse, a word started coming up that used to seem unspeakable: class. To at once dispel that American notion that we are so different from other countries while decrying staggering inequality made the struggle of others real. Not like a news piece on a family clipping coupons during a recession. Real, like this weighs on you, and becomes a sense of indignation for your fellow American, the way you were outraged when you saw New Orleans submerged from broken levees and its citizens struggling for days following Hurricane Katrina.

That awareness was more than a narrative, more than a meme, more than a point in a debate. The broad perception was that America wasn't just on the wrong track, it had been held up by railroad bandits.

What this really did was set the stage for the 2012 elections.

Through the drifting clouds of tear gas, stepping over the trampled bodies of demonstrators, and grinning into the same cameras that just showed all hell breaking lose, came Mr. Magoo, the most awe-inspiring tone-deaf candidate for president at the worst/best possible time. With Bain Capital affirming his vulture cred, an income so huge he refused to reveal his tax returns, he ran on absolutely nothing except saying what we have now isn't working, even though it seemed to be working fine for him.

This was the guy with his finger on the pulse of America who insisted, "Corporations are people, my friend," presumably thinking he was talking to a corporation. Corporate personhood had been a target of ire for Occupy Wall Street since it tends to indemnify financial criminals, and also because Citizens United had granted corporations VIP access to politicians. If Occupy Wall Street had been criticized for calling out how 1% of the people own 40% of the wealth, it sure seemed kinder than insisting that 47% of Americans would never take care of themselves and only live off of the government. When he lost by five million votes, he was the only one surprised, and blamed the weather.

But the disconnect was real, and continued. It seemed every few months there was another tortured outburst in print from some of the wealthiest men in Manhattan about how unfair the scorn was they faced, even though this was years after the protesters left Zuccotti. The people who seemed to be taking Occupy Wall Street the most seriously were the ones that it was intended for.

As I screen my documentary PAY 2 PLAY, I am asked sometimes what happened to Occupy, since it is included in our film about outsiders trying to have a voice in our political system. I will tell them about how I have met others at our screenings that preface their activism by saying they got motivated first from Occupy Wall Street. I met a young woman in Seattle who had mobilized first as a local Occupy organizer, who had since been elected to city council. Some of the very entities hosting our film about the problems with money in politics were off-shoots from local Occupy groups.

But I think more than anything, the point of Occupy was using your voice to speak out and finding out that you are not alone, there are many who feel the same way, and you are energized by this shared recognition. And once that common reality and strength is realized, you can go back to sleeping in bed and still live in accordance to your own mission.

Maybe someday we'll have a reunion for the Class of 2011. But for now, our gratitude and admiration go out to all who occupied and inspired. Thank you for showing us that we are not alone. Our patriotism and compassion will push this pay-to-play system into the dustbin of history.

John Wellington Ennis's documentary PAY 2 PLAY: Democracy's High Stakes is now having an extended run in NYC, LA, and DC.
21:03 Aiming to stop the next Snowden» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The requirements are aimed at stopping the next leaker from making off with intelligence.
20:30 Open Thread - Butterfly Digs The Flute» Latest from Crooks and Liars

Kudos to the professionalism of this fine musician, and to the good taste of the butterfly. h/t Amato.

Open Thread below...

20:00 Open thread for night owls. Roberts: Preventing climate change & adapting to it aren't morally equal» Daily Kos
night owl
At Grist, David Roberts, who has (thankfully) returned from his one-year hiatus, writes Preventing climate change and adapting to it are not morally equivalent. An excerpt:

Climate hawks are familiar with the framing of climate policy credited to White House science advisor John Holdren, to wit: We will respond to climate change with some mix of mitigation, adaptation, and suffering; all that remains to be determined is the mix.

It’s a powerful bit of language. It makes clear that not acting is itself a choice — a choice in favor of suffering.

But in another way, Holdren’s formulation obscures an important difference between mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate effects) and adaptation (changing infrastructure and institutions to cope with climate effects). It makes them sound fungible, as though a unit of either can be traded in for an equivalent unit of suffering. That’s misleading. They are very different, not only on a practical level but morally.

David Roberts
David Roberts
With every ton of carbon we emit, we add incrementally to the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That total is what determines the effects of climate change. By emitting ton of carbon we are, in a tiny, incremental way, harming all of humanity, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

Conversely, however, every ton of carbon emissions we prevent or eliminate benefits, in a tiny, incremental way, all of humanity, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Say I pay $10 to reduce carbon by a ton. I bear the full cost, but because all of humanity benefits, I receive only one seven-billionth of the value of my investment (give or take).

In other words, mitigation is fundamentally altruistic, other-focused.
In fact, I’ve understated the altruism. Remember the famous carbon time lag: Carbon emitted today affects temperatures 30 (or so) years from now. So mitigation today doesn’t actually benefit humanity today; it benefits humanity 30 years in the future, when the carbon that would have been emitted would have wrought its effects. It benefits people who are both spatially and temporally distant. That’s almost pure altruism.

(Note:  I’m putting aside the present-day co-benefits of mitigation policies. Obviously they are important! And I’ll get to them in a minute. But for now I’m talking purely about reducing carbon for climate’s sake.)

Adaptation is nearly the opposite. It is action taken to protect oneself, one’s own city, tribe, or nation, from the effects of unchecked climate change. An adaptation dollar does not benefit all of humanity like a mitigation dollar does. It benefits only those proximate to the spender. A New Yorker who spends a dollar on mitigation is disproportionately preventing suffering among future Bangladeshis. A New Yorker who spends a dollar on a sea wall is preventing suffering only among present and future New Yorkers. The benefits of adaptation, as an iterative process that will continue as long as the climate keeps changing, are both spatially and temporally local.

One obvious implication of this difference is that, to the extent spending favors adaptation over mitigation, it will replicate and reinforce existing inequalities of wealth and power. The benefits will accrue to those with the money to pay for them.

It is no accident that the current position among “reform” conservatives — who have finally become embarrassed by the near-universal climate denial and conspiracy theorizing in the Republican Party — is that the climate is warming, but not that much, and it would be too expensive to prevent it, so we’ll just adapt. I predict that when climate becomes an unavoidable political issue in the U.S., as it inevitably will, this will be an extremely popular position on the right and an alluring one across the center as well. [...]

I urge you to read the entire essay.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2002Iraq to allow inspectors with NO CONDITIONS:

This changes everything. Kofi Annan:

I can confirm to you that I have received a letter from the Iraqi authorities conveying their decision to allow the return of the inspectors without conditions.

Tweet of the Day
Philadelphia: The top 1%'s take of total income was 8.3% in 1973. In 2011, it's 18.1%. http://t.co/...

On today's Kagro in the Morning show: No, "tort reform" isn't a serious cost-control measure in health care. Greg Dworkin wasn't with us this morning, but notes the official numbers showing a significant decrease in the numbers of uninsured. Charlie Cook lists the things that could still go wrong for the Gop this fall. Jeanne Devon of The Mudflats on the Palin Riot of 2014. The "necessity defense" for climate action civil disobedience. (Stand Your Planet?) Rosalyn MacGregor updates us on MI-GOV & SEN. War powers & national security issues are looming again. Venture capitalists are getting nervous about a new tech bubble, and with good reason: stupid stuff is happening again.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments
20:00 C&L's Late Nite Music Club With Blake Mills» Latest from Crooks and Liars

The record is a folk-tinged singer-songwriter effort with a little bit of a country element to it as well. Arrangements are pretty basic, seeing as how more significance is placed on the song's harmonic and lyrical content. Plus, it has a cool video that features a spectrograph, a spectrograph slice, and an oscilloscope, so you have some visual representation of the frequencies present in the recording.

Anyway, that's enough science geekery from me, got any favorite singer-songwriters?

19:44 Senators Want Broader U.S. Response To Ebola» Politics - The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- The Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which has already claimed more than 2,400 lives, is outstripping U.S. and international efforts and may require stronger actions than those outlined by President Barack Obama, senators said Tuesday.

Senators at a joint hearing of a health committee and an appropriations subcommittee said they were prepared to approve Obama's $88 million request to expand the U.S. response. But they described Ebola as a threat to the world and suggested bigger steps than those announced by the president on Tuesday. Obama said his strategy for tackling the outbreak includes sending 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the Liberian capital of Monrovia, training 500 local health care workers per week, constructing 17 local health care facilities, and providing thousands of home care kits.

"What's happening in West Africa is happening because of the failure of a public health system" that lacks an equivalent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs both committees. "We have spent lots of taxpayer dollars in shoring up military operations around the world so people can defend themselves against insurgencies, and yet on this one aspect we have been woefully inadequate. It's like we expect our CDC to do everything. ... We need those other CDCs, those forward outposts where people can defend themselves and in turn defend us."

Harkin and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said they were concerned about leadership for the U.S. response. While efforts in West Africa are led by the Agency for International Development, Mikulski said she didn't know who was leading the administration's efforts in Washington. The White House should identify a point person, Mikulski said.

Republicans, of course, wasted no time alleging an underwhelming administration response. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said, "My math says we're going to be behind the eight ball on Day 1 because we won't have enough beds."

Dr. Kent Brantly, one of two Americans who contracted the virus in Liberia this summer and survived after treatment in Atlanta, told senators he felt it was his duty to speak up for strengthening a response he described as "sluggish." He met earlier in the day with Obama.

"Many have used the analogy of a fire burning out of control," Brantly said. "Indeed [Ebola] is a fire -- it is a fire straight from the pit of hell. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that the vast moat of the Atlantic Ocean will protect us from the flames of this fire. Instead, we must ... keep entire nations from being reduced to ashes."

Dr. Beth Bell, director of emerging and infectious diseases at the CDC, said her agency does "not view Ebola as a significant public health threat to the United States" at present, even though the number of people infected is probably double the estimates. But the window of opportunity to control the outbreak is closing, she said, and the epidemic will become a global concern if unchecked.

The senators heard from agencies developing treatments and a vaccine -- the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The experts advocated further research into the experimental drug ZMapp, given to seven Ebola victims this summer, including Brantly. Five who got the treatment survived.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told senators that two potential vaccines against Ebola enter clinical trials this fall.

18:52 House GOP pushes vs. IRS» POLITICO - TOP Stories
It passes three bills to highlight complaints the IRS mistreated conservative political groups.
18:37 House Passes 'No Welfare For Weed' Bill» Politics - The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a bill Tuesday that could make it a little harder for people to use government welfare payments to buy marijuana in states where the drug is legal.

Supporters call it the "no welfare for weed" bill.

The bill would prevent people from using government-issued welfare debit cards to make purchases at stores that sell marijuana. It would also prohibit people from using the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs in those stores.

A 2012 federal law already prevents people from using welfare debit cards at liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs.

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., is the main sponsor of the bill. He said it is a logical extension of existing law now that Washington State and Colorado have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

"The fact that some people are using welfare for weed is outrageous," Reichert said in a statement. "While some may decide to spend their own money on drugs, we're not going to give them a taxpayer subsidy to do it."

The House passed the bill on a voice vote, which does not require lawmakers to cast a recorded vote.

The reach of the bill would be limited, however, because pot smokers could still use their benefit cards to get cash from an ATM at a different store or bank, and then use the money to buy marijuana.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said he supported the bill. But he complained that it "does nothing to address the tattered safety net."

Why not prevent people from using benefit cards at massage parlors and Cadillac dealerships? Doggett said. "Just blame the poor for being poor."

About 3.6 million families receive cash benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to the Health and Human Services Department. That includes about 45,000 in Colorado and about 99,000 in Washington State.

Payments are loaded on debit cards known as electronic benefit transfer cards. They can be used to get cash at ATMs or to make purchases at many stores.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised the issue of using the cards to buy marijuana in April, when he sent a letter to HHS asking whether the department could prevent transactions at stores that sell marijuana.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell responded in July that HHS has no authority prevent the use of benefit cards at stores that sell marijuana.

Sessions has promised to introduce a Senate bill similar to the House legislation. But with Congress rushing to go home as early as this week to campaign for congressional elections in November, the bill is unlikely to reach President Barack Obama's desk this year.


Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

18:33 Why I'm going to work for the NFL» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Opinion: Too many Americans do not understand the vicious cycle of domestic violence.
18:25 Apple privacy pitch hits Hill» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The company's tools have piqued interest because of the sheer amount of data Apple could collect.
18:14 Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Watch 6th Circuit For SCOTUS' Next Move On Gay Marriage» Politics - The Huffington Post
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — People seeking clues about how soon the Supreme Court might weigh in on states' gay marriage bans should pay close attention to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a Minnesota audience Tuesday.

Ginsburg said cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court's timing. She said "there will be some urgency" if that appeals court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner, she predicted. She said if the appeals panel falls in line with other rulings there is "no need for us to rush."

Ginsburg didn't get into the merits of any particular case or any state's gay marriage ban, but she marveled at the "remarkable" shift in public perception of same-sex marriage that she attributes to gays and lesbians being more open about their relationships. Same-sex couples can legally wed in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts.

"Having people close to us who say who they are — that made the attitude change in this country," Ginsburg said at the University of Minnesota Law School.

The Supreme Court returns from a summer recess in early October. Ginsburg wasn't the only justice on the lecture circuit Tuesday; Justice Clarence Thomas was addressing a gathering in Texas.

Thomas, one of the court's conservatives, expressed his firm belief in the strict construction of the Constitution during his appearance at the University of Texas at Tyler. As a judge, Thomas said, he's "not into creative writing," the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.

And Thomas said he's motivated by the belief that if the country "is not perfect, it is perfectible."

Fifteen months ago, the high court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied a range of tax, health and veterans benefits to legally married gay couples. Rulings invalidating state gay marriage bans followed in quick succession.

Ginsburg spent 90 minutes before an audience of hundreds discussing her two decades on the Supreme Court as well as her days as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer. In a question-and-answer period, she predicted that cases dealing with the environment and technology would make for watershed decisions in years to come.

Privacy of information carried on smartphones in the context of criminal searches could be particularly big, Ginsburg said. "You can have on that cellphone more than you can pack in a file cabinet," she said.

The liberal justice said the court is the most collegial place she has worked as she fondly described her close relationship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. She made sure to plug a comic opera about the two of them — "Scalia/Ginsburg" — that will debut next year in Virginia.

And the 81-year-old Ginsburg elicited plenty of laughter by highlighting a Tumblr account about her called the "Notorious R.B.G." and a never-realized dream job.

"If I had any talent God could give me, I would be a great diva," she said.
18:10 House Passes Bill Highlighting IRS Controversy» Politics - The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed three bills Tuesday designed to highlight complaints that the IRS mistreated conservative political groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

One bill makes it illegal for IRS workers to use personal email accounts to conduct official business. Another bill guarantees groups that are denied tax-exempt status the right to appeal the decision to a separate IRS office.

The third bill addresses complaints from groups that have had their confidential taxpayer information improperly disclosed by IRS employees. The bill allows the IRS to tell victims about the status of investigations into the disclosures. Current law forbids the IRS from releasing such information.

Some House Democrats complained that the bills were little more than election-year gimmicks designed to fire up conservative voters. The bills have little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The House passed all three bills on voice votes that did not require lawmakers to cast recorded votes.

Congress has been investigating the IRS for more than a year, ever since IRS officials acknowledged that agents had improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Democrats note that some liberal groups were also mistreated, but Republican investigators say conservative groups were abused in greater numbers.

The controversy got new life this year when the IRS disclosed that it had lost an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who once headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. Lerner, who since has retired from the IRS, has emerged as a central figure in congressional investigations.

Republican investigators from the House Ways and Means Committee released a report in April that accused Lerner of using her personal email account to conduct official business, which would violate IRS policy.

"Today, the House passed three bills to impose reform on the IRS," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement. "Altogether, these bills will aid investigations into IRS wrongdoings and protect innocent Americans from IRS targeting by allowing appeals of tax-exempt decisions, releasing information regarding IRS investigations and ensuring work-related emails from IRS officials are no longer lost or forgotten, an unbelievable excuse the agency continues to cite."


Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

18:09 Child laborers. In America. In 2014.» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Opinion: Kids as young as 12 report illness from working in tobacco fields.
18:04 Ginsburg talks gay marriage» POLITICO - TOP Stories
She says people should pay close attention to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
16:31 Bill Maher’s “dirty secret”: He’s deeply religious and prays with Ann Coulter» Salon.com
According to this Funny or Die video, that is ...

16:16 Stubborn opposition to Obama's Syria plan» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Obama is asking lawmakers to quickly authorize a mission to arm and train Syrian rebels to defeat ISIL.
16:15 “The Guest”: “Downton Abbey” heartthrob wreaks havoc on America» Salon.com
Dan Stevens plays a mysterious military vet who brings chaos to small-town America in this dark-comic thriller

16:15 “A lot of my life has been ruined because of sex”: Belle Knox opens up in a gripping new documentary» Salon.com
A five-part series about the "Duke porn star" offers a more nuanced look at the woman behind the media scandal

16:15 Miss America, Janay Rice and our long history of conflating glamour and violence» Salon.com
From "Hunger Games" makeup to an "ANTM" corpse photo shoot, violent narratives have never been made to seem sexier

16:15 You’re about as sexually attractive to me as a turtle: Coming out as asexual in a hypersexual culture» Salon.com
The author of a new book on asexuality talks about growing up without desire and dating without physical intimacy

16:11 Climate Change Affects Shark Swimming in Strange Way» LiveScience.com
Sharks might not be able to adapt to acidified ocean water if climate change continues as-is, new research suggests. Exposure to ocean acidification changed sharks' nighttime swimming behavior.
16:07 Dems divided on Obama's Syria plan» POLITICO - TOP Stories
A growing number of Democrats worry the plans would commit the U.S. to an open-ended conflict.
16:06 King Richard III's Final Moments Were Quick & Brutal» LiveScience.com
A new postmortem analysis of the war wounds on the skeleton of Richard III reveal that the last Plantagenet king of England was injured at least 11 times, but probably died due to one of two brutal stab wounds to the head.
16:06 Postmortem Photos: King Richard III's Battle Injuries» LiveScience.com
A new accounting of the war wounds on the skeleton of Richard III reveal that the last Plantagenet king of England was injured at least 11 times, but probably died due to one of two brutal stab wounds to the head.
16:05 The Fatal Wounds of King Richard III (Infographic)» LiveScience.com
A study of the Medieval king's skeleton reveals traumatic wounds he received at the time of death.
15:59 MI County Sells Injured Mom’s Home Over One Tax Bill, and Will Keep Extra $80,000 Profit» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
A dream home turned into a nightmare.

A Michigan mother says that she is devastated because Kalamazoo County is foreclosing on her home after brain bruises from a car accident caused her to miss a single tax payment two years ago.

Deborah Calley told WITI that she paid cash for her dream home in 2010. She had thought that it would make raising two children easier while she was recovering from the traumatic car accident.

But that dream was shattered when she was notified that the county was foreclosing on her home over a missed property tax payment.

“When I paid the taxes in 2012 right there in Richland, no one said, ‘Oh, well you still owe money for 2011,’” Calley said. “So, I didn’t really have a clue. I thought I was right on time.”

Calley’s Realtor, Becky Doorlag, explained that it was not unusual for people who owned their home to forget to pay property taxes because they were usually included in the mortgage payment, which Calley did not have. Calley also speculated that her brain injury may have played a role in the missed payment.

Court documents obtained by WITI showed that notices went out about the missed payment, but Calley said that did not see a single one of them. WITI discovered that all but one of those notices were addressed to banks, instead of the homeowner.

“I’ve never been affiliated with any of those banks, ever,” Calley noted, pointing out that she paid $164,000 cash for her home and did not have a mortgage.

And she said that she had proof that the letter that the county said was addressed to her also went to a bank.

“I know for a fact that it went back to this company called Title Check, because I have a receipt from the person at Title Check who signed it at their address in Kalamazoo,” she remarked.

Calley has offered to pay her back taxes, but the county has said that it is now too late. And to make matters worse, the county will also keep all profits from auctioning her home. The highest bid so far has been $80,000.

“She’ll pay it today if they’ll let her… The government will take her home — the only thing that she has that she owns that’s paid off free and clear. That is her future and her retirement and her kids’ future. She will lose it to the government unless the judge has mercy.” Doorlag told WITI.


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15:29 Naomi Klein on the Great Clash Between Capitalism and the Climate» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Klein discusses her new book, "This Changes Everything."

Naomi Klein's new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate is coming out just as the UN is meeting on climate change, and a massive rally to protest the lack of progress on global warming is shaping up in Manhattan on Sunday. Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine, one of the most influential books of the past 50 years. She sees her new book as the natural successor to The Shock Doctrine as she deepens her critique and insists we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to climate. The inconvenient truth about global warming is that it isn't really about carbon, but rather capitalism. Our economic model is waging war on the earth, and unless capitalism is dramatically changed, we are doomed. Yet Klein is no pessimist. She sees the seeds of a broad cross-sectional mass movement emerging that will lead to a transformation of our failed economic system to something radically better. Sunday's People's Climate March in New York is a key step toward a future we must create in order to survive and thrive.

AlterNet editors Don Hazen and Jan Frel spoke with Klein via phone in Canada, where she lives, on Friday, Sept. 12, prior to her traveling to New York and participating in a wide range of protest events, debates and discussions. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.

AlterNet: Let's start with the big climate march on Sunday and your support of and involvement in it. Do you have a reaction to Chris Hedges' critique of the march which seems to be consistent with your critique of the big enviro groups in your book? Basically he says the demands are amorphous, anybody can join, it doesn't have much meaning.

Naomi Klein: Knowing the amount of work, energy and coalition-building and care that has gone into the organizing, the march—which you know obviously it's not perfect—but I think it was grossly mischaracterized as being simply some big green thing. When It's actually been incredibly grassroots.

Do I think a march is going to do anything? No. The point is this march is different in that it's a manifestation of real rooted movements that are fighting fracking in their backyard, and refineries that are giving their kids asthma, and students who are demanding divestment of fossil fuels at their universities, and faith groups who are doing the same in their churches and synagogues. And what the march will be is a moment where people feel the size of this movement, and it will give people the strength to go home and continue at these moments of convergence too. Every once in a while it's nice to see how big you are. Especially since so many of these movements are local, right? It can feel small and isolated. There haven't been many moments of convergence like this for the climate movement, so I think it's great.

And I don't see the point of throwing stones. The decision was made to have an open call so that any group could endorse the march as long as they abided by certain organizing principles. And so the groups that are drawing attention, some of which I've gone after in the book, are not the groups who organized it. They're just groups that endorsed because, for whatever reason, they thought it would be useful for them. Which I think speaks to more of the strength of this movement, and that everyone wants to be a part of it. But I just think to dismiss all of this incredible organizing in this kind of guilt-by-association way; frankly I'm a little offended by.

AlterNet: Hedges seems to have sit-ins and protest at the U.N. as his priority.

Klein:Well there's going to be direct action. And I support the direct action, I support the Flood Wall Street action on Monday as well, and the people who are organizing that also support the climate march. So I don't see what the point of sowing these divisions is right now. I don't. I'm not saying it's perfect. But there was a big debate about the fact that Zionist groups are also marching. And the response to that is that there's going to be a really strong Free Palestine bloc, which I think is fantastic, and they have all my support...I'll just leave it there.

AlterNet: Here's a different kind of question. You mentioned privatization and deregulation as pillars of neoliberalism, which of course are true, but I shouldn't we add militarization? And there's nothing like wars to really screw up the environment. And since 9/11 we've had nothing but war, and now we're heading into a new war with massive pollution. And there's no end in sight: more bombs, more deaths, more messes. How do you reconcile the constant presence of war all over the world with the need to change everything in terms of the climate?

Klein: Well, it's a huge piece of the puzzle and I think a lot of the original peace organizing activities in the region had fossil fuels at their heart, and continue to. So it's intimately linked. It's something I do talk about—the pollution associated with the military, carbon pollution, and also the need to just get that money, huge resources that are spent on the military, and funnel it toward the building of the new economy that we need. Because part of what's standing in our way is that we're told that we're broke all the time. And we're not broke, it's just that the money is in the wrong places. So we need to get more of the resources from polluters, whether they're fossil fuel companies or whether it's the military.

But I could easily have had a chapter in the book on drawing stronger connections between the anti-war movement and the climate movement. It's a big book and it does a lot, but it doesn't do everything. And my greatest hope, frankly, and already in having conversations about the book, is that it will inspire lots of smart people to go, hey it's about this, and what about this, this is also a climate issue. And, it's like, yes, exactly, write that. Having the anti-war movement more engaged in climate and vice-versa, is exactly what we need.

AlterNet: Speaking of how a book can't do everything, your previous book, The Shock Doctrine, had a tremendous impact and influenced many people. The book basically makes the case that capitalism is at its worst when there are crises. And as the climate crisis gets worse, isn't the response of capitalism going to get worse if we believe what you wrote in your previous book? Do you see any contradiction here?

Klein:I don't think it's a contradiction. I think that's exactly why I wrote this book. The Shock Doctrine really ends with the disaster of apartheid in New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina and this is the future that we will have if we stay on this road. We can count on neoliberalism to respond to climate change as an opportunity for land grabbing, for trading weather futures. If we don't radically change course the weather is going to get hotter, things are going to get way more brutal. And I think we, on some level, know that.

That's why every disaster flick seems to be about a future of post-apocalyptic 1 percent, the 1 percent of the 1 percent at the front of the train or up on a planet of their own. Whatever it is—Hunger Games, Elysium, Snowpiercer—we just keep telling ourselves the same story, right? What I argue in The Shock Doctrine is that crisis either makes us fall apart or makes us grow up.

And there are precedents of crises being progressive moments. That's what brought us the New Deal. We responded to crisis in a way that actually got at the roots of why the crisis was happening. So that's when you had the most dramatic regulation of the banking sector. And that's when you had the kind of huge investments in the public sphere that we need in this moment. So we are capable of responding to crisis differently than in the way that I described in The Shock Doctrine. And the fact that I argue in The Shock Doctrine that the whole technique was developed by right-wing think tanks because they knew that in natural crises, if you don't get in there, it will become progressive moments. The Right is afraid of another New Deal moment. Everything about the right in the states is about undoing the gains of the New Deal and making sure it never happens again, right? That's why the whole think tank infrastructure exists. And that's why that whole tactic was developed.

So, yes, there are lots of precedents for crises being moments where inequality is deepened unless things get a whole lot worse. And no one knows that better than me. I don't see there's a contradiction there. I'm trying to prevent that from happening with climate change. For me, it follows quite naturally.

AlterNet: So would you say you are more optimistic after writing this book than after writing Shock Doctrine?

Klein:You know, what makes me optimistic is that I see a lot of movement. I saw a lot of things changing. In the first couple of years I was writing this book. At first I think I was really quite depressed because I was seeing Shock Doctrine tactics repeated all over Europe in the context of the economic crisis, and in the U.S., and even though people were resisting, it wasn't working to prevent even worse things from happening. And the climate science is never fun. But in the last few years of this research, there's just been such an explosion of grassroots activism. And this new militancy within the climate movement, led by indigenous people and by young people. As I say at the end book, it's been happening so fast that I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with it. So I feel more hopeful because I feel like we are at the beginning of a real movement moment.

I think things are changing and it isn't about a brand-new movement. It's about so many of our past movements coming together. You know, I've talked to journalists, and they're like, well movements don't work, look at Occupy. Occupy didn't disappear. Everybody who was engaged during Occupy is still deeply involved in trying to fight for a better world, and lots of them are now engaged on climate change, and a lot of them are involved in the Flood Wall Street organizing. And many were involved in Occupy Sandy. So movements change and different strings come together, and I think we're in one of those movements of convergence where we're seeing patterns, we're seeing common threads, and people are feeling more courageous, too. So that always makes me feel hopeful.

AlterNet: As your book opens, you talk about your "aha" moment, meeting with the young Brazilian ambassador Angélica Navarro Llanos, and how her imagination of how first-world countries, the major polluters, must come to the aid of third-world countries suffering from climate change through mostly no fault of their own. Can you tell us how her vision helped shape your vision?

Klein: I was in Geneva at the time writing a story for Harpers about reparations for slavery and colonialism and was covering a UN conference where somebody told me that I should meet with Angélica Navarro. And I did and she put the case to me that the perennial question of how we address these deep scars left behind by colonialism and slavery that has so distorted the distribution of wealth around the world and within the our own country in the Global North—that climate change could be a tool to heal these wounds.

Because, of course, the history of colonialism and the history of slavery are intimately tied to the history of fossil fuels. You know, coal built the modern world. And when European countries gained access to the steam engine, that sort of supercharged the coal exchange between North and South. And while that was happening we were also pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And the thing about carbon is it sticks around for a couple of hundred years and is steadily warming the planet. So the legacy of that today is the legacy of climate change. So in addressing climate change in a just way and a way that recognizes historical responsibility, which our governments have all agreed to do when they signed the UN Climate Convention, we have an opportunity to address these core inequalities. We have another chance, really.

And that was Angélica's argument. If we live up to our historical responsibilities and have a just climate response it would mean that the countries that created the crisis would lead the way, would cut our emissions first, but also help developing countries to pull themselves out of poverty without repeating our errors by leapfrogging over fossil fuels and moving straight to clean energy. Which would mean that this could really be a tremendous force for social justice.

And when she laid out this case, which she called the Marshall Plan for Planet Earth, I suddenly saw how climate change could be a catalyst for tremendously positive change. And then as I started paying attention to climate negotiations and going to Copenhagen and covering the Copenhagen Summit, it became clear that this issue of whether or not the Global North is going to live up to its responsibilities, whether there's going to be a just response, its the fundamental issue at the heart of the negotiations. And it's why so little progress has been made because Northern countries refuse and generally refuse to acknowledge that responsibility. And that's the intractable problem.

AlterNet: As you point out clearly in the book, climate deniers know full well the ramifications of dealing with climate change. It's going to mean a huge dent in capitalism, which is probably why they're deniers. How will they be convinced to provide the billions of dollars for the Marshall Plan when they're going to think, at least economically, that they're going to be victims of climate change as well?

Klein: Well, I don't think this is about convincing climate deniers. It's about engaging a much larger constituency of people who do believe that climate change is real, or not actively denying the science, but are looking away because there doesn't seem to be a way out of this crisis that is in any way hopeful, is any way inspiring, is any way doable. So really the book is a call for a revival of the kind of broad-based social movements that have won mass progressive victories in the past. We don't have that anymore. We have slick NGOs, and everybody's in their silos, and everybody tackles their issue and they only talk to each other. And climate change connects the dots between so many issues: labor, women's right, indigenous rights, like I said, reparations, the decay of our cities, the dismantling of the public sphere, racial justice. I mean it's everything, immigration. And why wouldn't it be? This is our home, this is not an issue. This is everything. So it is a framework, really, for bringing movements together.

And that is the only way that we have ever changed our economy. If we think about, how did social movements win the victories of the New Deal? Or win social security and healthcare? Any of the great progressive victories of the past have been won by large broad-based social movements. And climate change hasn't had that kind of movement before. There's been a theory that you had to do it from the top down. It had to be a former vice-president and billionaires and Hollywood celebrities who are going to get together and fix this for us. And I think that's part of the reason why a lot of lefties tuned out, because it seems to be this very elite. And it was, but it doesn't have to be.

And I think that that's really changing. We're going to see in New York in the Climate March, the face of a much broader grassroots climate movement that is born out of frontline struggles against fossil fuel extraction. And it's the flip side of the fossil fuel frenzy that has been ripping up our continent of late, and these fossil fuel companies have been so aggressive in laying claim to more and more land and more and more waterways that they've built their own opposition in the form of the anti-fracking movement, and the anti-tar sands and anti-tar sands pipeline movement, anti-coal movement. They've gone into a lot of hostile territory. People are fighting back but they're also connecting with one another. And I think what will be exciting about the Climate March is that a lot of these connections are happening online, and are happening in small pockets, but I think we're going to see the physical manifestations of that on the streets of New York.

AlterNet:Following up on your last answer you must have grappled many times as you wrote this book with the effects that messages of looming apocalypse have on people. Setting up the situation where informing people of the nature of the problem encourages them to do nothing about it, not unlike, say, telling someone that their shoelaces are untied. Did you feel like you arrived at the best way to convey these messages for social change?

Naomi Klein: Because the climate movement has been so ineffective, it's very sort of faddish in terms of messaging. So one year it will be like, okay, scare people, make them really scared. And then the next year it's like, okay don't scare people, don't scare people. And I don't think there's anything wrong with scaring people if it's true. I think we need to be honest that this is a scary moment and we don't have that much time left. What I think is ineffective is thinking that just scaring people is going to turn people into activists. Just scaring people just makes people scared. And when people are scared, they want to curl up in a ball.

I think it's the combination of telling the truth about how serious the situation is and that we're out of deadlines, that this is the real one, and that there's nowhere to run to, right? We need to leap, but we need somewhere to leap to that is exciting. Like you go to a UN conference and it's on mitigating the effects climate change. And it's just like, is that the best we can do, mitigating it back? It just sounds terrible. And is there a way that we can survive? Is there a way that we can have better cities, and better communities, and better relationships, and better jobs, and a better relationship to work, and can we address so many other things that aren't working in our societies?

So I think if we allow ourselves to dream a little bit and take a picture of a place that could leap to, I believe that we may leap. And I say leap because I'm not here to be Pollyannaish about this. I don’t believe we are doomed, nor do I believe that success is guaranteed. I think we've got a shot and we have to do our best. But in terms of being afraid of scaring people and painting pictures of looming apocalypse, when the World Bank is telling you you're headed for 4 degrees warming, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers is saying no, it's 6 degrees, you've got to listen up, you know, and pay attention to what that actually means. Because that, first of all, is Celsius. Somebody made the argument that the big problem of climate change is that it's all in Celsius and Americans think it's vaguely Communist.

At any rate, I think it's the combination of that real fear and we should be scared. And the deadline, and I really believe in deadlines because I'm a writer, and I know how important deadlines are, and having somewhere to run. I think that's the combination.

AlterNet: One followup on this question of "we." There is the mass society but there's pretty clear evidence from history and in our industrial past, that the strongest arrangements are between manufacturers, financiers and governments that preside over them. And say, for example, in the case of Bangladesh, where there were factories that collapsed, and huge media attention, there were only just the slightest tweaks in the arrangements between those parties. So you have, say, a warning from Pricewaterhouse Coopers, but how do you actually get the folks who are part of "we" but really have a much bigger role in the way society is structured in reforming those agreements when they're hugely profitable and they're the means of staying powerful. Have you entertained the possibility that those are the very parties that are going to need to have a way to stay rich and powerful revealed to them without extracting carbon-based fuels?

Klein:It's not that there's no money to be made and no wealth in a green economy, in a renewable economy, or regenerated economy. That it's not going to generate the kind of wealth that fossil fuels develop. Fossil fuels really do create a hyper-stratified economy. It's the nature of the resources that it's concentrated, and you need a huge amount of infrastructure to get it out and to transport it. And that lends itself to huge profits and they're big enough that you can buy off politicians.

And the problem with renewable energy is not that you can't make money off of it, but you're never going to make that kind of huge money off of it because it's inherently decentralized. The air and wind are free, first of all, and they're everywhere. So it's a different kind of economy. It's a more decentralized economy. It's a more level economy. So does power concede anything without a fight? No. It doesn't mean that there's no role for the powerful in this, but the idea that they're just going to do it for us, which is basically the model that the UN is still advancing. If you look at the plans for the official summit in New York, it's all about the politicians and it's the idea that they are going to address this problem of the goodness of their hearts… Well it's not going to happen that day. So we haven't quite solved it. We haven't solved the problem of entrenched wealth. I'm going to leave that to you guys.

Visit Naomi Klein's official website to learn more about her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate


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15:09 Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: Pat Roberts starts his air war against Greg Orman » Daily Kos

Leading Off:

KS-Sen: Republican Sen. Pat Roberts launches the first of what will be many ads tying independent Greg Orman to national Democrats. The narrator cites Orman's donations to Democrats, and his opposition to repealing Obamacare. The rest of the ad is the usual "Look how bad Obamacare is!!!" rhetoric.

Roberts' blitz comes as another poll shows him in real danger. On Tuesday, PPP showed Orman leading Roberts 41-34. Roberts' approval rating is underwater at 29-46, while Orman sports a 24-12 favorable rating. Roberts' path to victory almost certainly depends on him defining Orman as an Obama supporter, and that's just what this ad does. It's a good bet that national Republicans will help the senator, and we'll see if Orman can withstand the coming storm.

Follow below the fold for more.

15:08 What NFL Star's Scandal Reveals About Black vs. White Child-Rearing» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Black parenting is often too authoritative. White parenting is often too permissive. Both need to change.

In college, I once found myself on the D.C. metro with one of my favorite professors. As we were riding, a young white child began to climb on the seats and hang from the bars of the train. His mother never moved to restrain him. But I began to see the very familiar, strained looks of disdain and dismay on the countenances of the mostly black passengers. They exchanged eye contact with one another, dispositions tight with annoyance at the audacity of this white child, but mostly at the refusal of his mother to act as a disciplinarian. I, too, was appalled. I thought, if that were my child, I would snatch him down and tell him to sit his little behind in a seat immediately. My professor took the opportunity to teach: “Do you see how this child feels the prerogative to roam freely in this train, unhindered by rules or regulations or propriety?”

“Yes,” I nodded. “What kinds of messages do you think are being communicated to him right now about how he should move through the world?”

And I began to understand, quite starkly, in that moment, the freedom that white children have to see the world as a place that they can explore, a place in which they can sit, or stand, or climb at will. The world, they are learning, is theirs for the taking.

Then I thought about what it means to parent a black child, any black child, in similar circumstances. I think of the swiftness with which a black mother would have ushered her child into a seat, with firm looks and not a little a scolding, the implied if unspoken threat of either a grounding or a whupping, if her request were not immediately met with compliance. So much is wrapped up in that moment: a desire to demonstrate that one’s black child is well-behaved, non-threatening, well-trained. Disciplined. I think of the centuries of imminent fear that have shaped and contoured African-American working-class cultures of discipline, the sternness of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ looks, the firmness of the belts and switches applied to our hind parts, the rhythmic, loving, painful scoldings accompanying spankings as if the messages could be imprinted on our bodies with a sure and swift and repetitive show of force.

I think with fond memories of the big tree that grew in my grandmother’s yard, with branches that were the perfect size for switches. I hear her booming and shrill voice now, commanding, “Go and pick a switch.” I laugh when I remember that she cut that tree down once we were all past the age of switches.

And then I turn to Adrian Peterson. Not even a year ago, Peterson’s 2-year-old son, whom he did not know, was murdered by his son’s mother’s boyfriend. More recently, Adrian Peterson has been charged with negligent injury to a child, for hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch, in a disciplinary episode that left the child with bruises and open cuts on his hands, legs, buttocks and scrotum.

In the text messages that Peterson sent to the boy’s mother, he acknowledged having gone too far, letting her know that he accidentally “got him in the nuts,” and that because the child didn’t cry, he didn’t realize the switch was hurting him. It would be easy to demonize Peterson as an abuser, but the forthrightness with which he talked about using belts and switches but not extension cords, because he “remembers how it feels to get whooped with an extension cord,” as part of his modes of discipline suggests he is merely riffing on scripts handed down to him as an African-American man.

These cultures of violent punishment are ingrained within African-American communities. In fact, they are often considered marks of good parenting. In my childhood, parents who “thought their children were too good to be spanked” were looked upon with derision. I have heard everyone from preachers to comedians lament the passing of days when a child would do something wrong at a neighbor’s house, get spanked by that neighbor, and then come home and get spanked again for daring to misbehave at someone else’s house. For many that is a vision of a strong black community, in which children are so loved and cared for that everyone has a stake in making sure that those children turn out well, and “know how to act.” In other words, it is clear to me that Peterson views his willingness to engage in strong discipline as a mark of being a good father.

Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the loving intent and sincerity behind these violent modes of discipline makes them no less violent, no more acceptable. Some of our ideas about discipline are unproductive, dangerous and wrong. It’s time we had courage to say that.

I am not interested in haggling any more with black people about the difference between spankings and abuse, because when emotions and stakes are both as high as they are, lines are far too easily crossed.

Stakes are high because parenting black children in a culture of white supremacy forces us to place too high a price on making sure our children are disciplined and well-behaved. I know that I personally place an extremely high value on children being respectful, well-behaved and submissive to authority figures. I’m fairly sure this isn’t a good thing.

If black folks are honest, many of us will admit to both internally and vocally balking at the very “free” ways that we have heard white children address their parents in public. Many a black person has seen a white child yelling at his or her parents, while the parents calmly respond, gently scold, ignore, attempt to soothe, or failing all else, look embarrassed.

I can never recount one time, ever seeing a black child yell at his or her mother in public. Never. It is almost unfathomable.

As a kid in the 1980s and 1990s I loved family sitcoms. “Full House,” “Who’s the Boss?,” “Growing Pains.” You name it. But even before my own racial consciousness was fully formed, I remember knowing that I was watching white families very different from my own, in part, because of how children interacted with their families. Invariably on an episode, a child would get mad, yell at a parent, and then run up the stairs (white people’s sitcom houses always had stairs) and slam the door.

What I know for sure is that yelling, running away or slamming anything in the house that my single mama worked hard to pay for would be grounds for some serious disciplinary reprisal. Even now, when I think about what kind of behavior I would permit as a parent, I am clear that slamming doors in my home is unacceptable.

Still, I also know that my anger was not an emotion that found a free and healthy range of expression in my household. My mother is my own personal hero, but just as she did many things differently than her own mother did when it came to raising daughters, I know I will think very intentionally about making space for my children to experience a full range of emotions – anger included — in the safety of home. They can’t slam the door, but they can close it.

As for Adrian Peterson, he will have to deal with the legal consequences of his actions. It has long been time for us to forgo violence as a disciplinary strategy. But as Charles Barkley notes, if we lock up Adrian Peterson, we could lock up every other black parent in the South for the same behavior. Instead, I hope Peterson is a cautionary tale, not about the state intruding on our “right” to discipline our children but rather a wakeup call about how much (fear of) state violence informs the way we discipline our children.

If the murder of Michael Brown has taught us nothing else, we should know by now that the U.S. nation-state often uses deadly violence both here and abroad as a primary mode of disciplining people with black and brown bodies. Darren Wilson used deadly force against Michael Brown as a mode of discipline (and a terroristic act) for Brown’s failure to comply with the request to walk on the sidewalk.

The loving intent and sincerity of our disciplinary strategies does not preclude them from being imbricated in these larger state-based ideas about how to compel black bodies to act in ways that are seen as non-menacing, unobtrusive and basically invisible. Many hope that by enacting these micro-level violences on black bodies, we can protect our children from macro and deadly forms of violence later.

Perhaps it is audacious of me to encourage black parents to focus less on producing well-behaved children in a world that clearly hates them. Black boys and girls are suspended or expelled from school more than all other demographics of boys and girls, often for similar behaviors, simply because their engagement in those behaviors is perceived as more aggressive.

White children in general are raised to be Columbus, to “discover” the world anew and then to manipulate and order the universe to their own liking. If we take away the colonizing impulse in living this way, I think it would be amazing to have the luxury of raising black children who also view the world as a space of their own making, a space to be explored, a space to build anew. A space where occasionally, simply because you live there, you can opt to walk in the middle of the street instead of being confined to the sidewalk, much as you might sling your leg across the arm of a chair in your own home, because it is home.

But for so many black children, these kinds of frivolous choices will get you killed or locked up. For black children, finding disciplinary methods that instill a healthy sense of fear in a world that is exceptionally violent toward them is a hard balance to find.

The thing is, though: Beating, whupping or spanking your children will not protect them from state violence.  It won’t keep them out of prison. Ruling homes and children with an iron fist will not restore the dignity and respect that the outside world fails to confer on adult black people.

What these actions might do is curtail creativity, inculcate a narrative about “acceptable” forms of violence enacted against black bodies, and breed fear and resentment between parents and children that far outlasts childhood.

Violence in any form is not love. Let us make sure first to learn that lesson. And then if we do nothing else, let us teach it to our children.


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14:58 Bill Clinton to stump for N.H. pols» POLITICO - TOP Stories
He will help Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster and others.
14:55 The Training Manual for US Addiction Counselors Is Full of Myths» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
How can professionals work effectively when they are this misinformed?

The following first appeared on Substance.com

Forty-five US states use the examination conducted by the International Credentialing and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) for the licensure and credentialing of their professional addiction counselors. IC&RC is a specialty corporation—they do nothing but licensure tests for chemical dependency counselors. The exam is computerized and administered by IC&RC rather than by the states themselves.

Having such a process in place for credentialing addiction counselors sounds like a really good idea. So does having a uniform test across the States and beyond—IC&RC also administers testing for addiction counselors in numerous countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas (see map below). Such procedures have the potential to ensure that addiction counselors are knowledgeable, accountable, consistent and better equipped to help their clients.

There’s just one problem: Numerous “facts” that people have to learn in order to pass these tests are demonstrably wrong.

Countries that use the IC&RC examination. Photo via

Image: Countries that use the IC&RC examination.

The study guide for the IC&RC examination is calledGetting Ready to Test: A Review and Preparation Manual for Drug and Alcohol Credentialing Exams (7th Edition). It is available (for $149) from ReadyToTest.com, a subsidiary of The Distance Learning Center for Addiction Studies (DLCAS.com). These companies are specialty services that do nothing but sell preparation materials for substance abuse credentialing exams. But instead of training future counselors in current evidence-based research and verified facts and practices, they frequently train them to memorize long-debunked myths originating in the 12-step-dominated treatment industry. Here are some examples.

On page 6 the study guide states:

“[F]or persons who have progressed to dependence on alcohol or other drugs the sojourn has been difficult. Once past a certain point there is no turning back. Continuing the journey, with any expectation of health and well-being, will require substance abuse treatment.”

This is false. Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) tells us that over 90% of people with substance dependence overcome it, and that approximately 90% of these people do it on their own with no Alcoholics Anonymous, no meetings and no addiction treatment.

On page 4 the study guide states:

“It’s [sic] chronic and relapsing nature is also recognized as a part of the disorder of addiction. Recovery from addictive illness necessitates sobriety and abstinence, relapse prevention programs and continuing supportive intervention for those who become dependent on mood-altering chemicals.”

False. NESARC research tells us that most people who recover from alcohol dependence do so by cutting back on their drinking; less than half recover via abstinence (as outlined here by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). Not only is a return to moderate use after a period of addictive use common among people who drink alcohol, the same phenomenon can be seen with “harder” drugs—even with heroin. Lee Robins’ classic study of heroin-addicted Vietnam veterans found that even among those ex-addicts who used heroin regularly after returning from Vietnam, only half became re-addicted. Hamish Warburton et al. (2005) also report a number of cases of civilian heroin users who moved from chaotic and addicted heroin use to controlled and non-addicted heroin use. Tom Decorte (2001) discusses controlled cocaine use in detail. And like plenty of other people, I have personally moved from being a very heavily addicted cigarette smoker to enjoying an occasional cigar; my use is so moderate that I have had only one cigar in the past year. This is in spite of the fact that scholars agree that nicotine is far more addictive than heroin.

What’s more, a survey conducted jointly by Drugfree.org and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in 2012 found that 23.5 million Americans are in recovery from addiction (defined as answering “yes” to the question “Did you once have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but no longer do?”) But less than 1.5 million North Americans are members of AA. This lends further support to the suggestion that roughly 90% of people who overcome substance dependence do it on their own—and that they do not require “relapse prevention programs and continuing supportive intervention.”

We are fortunate that when plumbers take licensing exams they have to learn material that is in accordance with the laws of physics. Otherwise we would all be constantly at risk from exploding boilers or gas leaks.

On page 42 of the study guide a standard drink is defined as containing 0.5 oz of ethanol. False. This definition is 20 years out of date. In the mid-1990s a standard drink was redefined by the US government as 0.6 oz of alcohol—not 0.5.

On pages 298-302 the study guide recommends the use of confrontational counseling. False. No clinical trial on confrontational counseling has shown it to be effective, and some have indicated that it is harmful.

On page 431 the study guide states:

“Making…housing contingent on abstinence has been shown to be a useful strategy.”

False. The abstinence-first housing model has been largely abandoned as a failure in this country. It is being rapidly replaced throughout the US with fully supportive housing based on the Housing First Model—which does not require abstinence from alcohol or drugs as a precondition for being housed.

Finally, overdose prevention and naloxone have become some of the hottest topics in the field because of the levels of opioid overdose in the US. Actions to address this issue nationwide include training and equipping first responders with naloxone andextensive state-level training programs on opioid overdose prevention.

But what does our study guide tell us about naloxone and overdose prevention? Not one word.

We are fortunate that when plumbers take licensing exams they have to learn material that is in accordance with the laws of physics. Otherwise we would all be constantly at risk from exploding boilers or gas leaks. It is unfortunate that addictions counselors undergo training that often teaches them the reverse of what research has demonstrated.

The IC&RC website boasts of having accredited “more than 45,000 professionals in prevention, alcohol and drug counseling, clinical supervision, criminal justice addictions, and co-occurring disorders” in the United States. Who is to say how many of the people served by all these professionals have suffered additional harm—even death—from their addictions as a direct result of the inaccurate information contained in Getting Ready to Test? It’s high time to reform the credentialing process, teach accurate information and replace mythology with science.

For a weekly roundup of drugs news, sign up for AlterNet's Drugs Newsletter here. 


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14:50 Cartoon: Sign of progress?» Daily Kos

Keep this artist afloat by becoming a patron for as little as $1 per month!!

14:42 3 Things That Will Happen to Your Wallet in the Next Year» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Is the so-called recovery coming your way?

Lately, we’re hearing a lot of upbeat news about the economy. U.S. hiring recently hit the highest level in almost seven years. And America’s economic output, or GDP, rose over 4 percent in the last quarter. But this cheery news is really just the economy wearing a mask. What’s underneath that mask is an underlying weakness— a weakness poll after poll has shown that many Americans sense today: Five years after a statistical recovery began in 2009, ordinary people are still hurting.

Headlines like these tell a story that isn’t about recovery: “U.S. Consumer Spending Flat in August” (Gallup); “America’s Fed Up: Obama Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low, Poll Shows” (NBC News); “ Student Debt Linked to Worse Health and Less Wealth (Gallup)”; and “Americans Losing Confidence in All Branches of U.S. Gov’t (Gallup).”

So, while consumer sentiment might be rising, people are deeply skeptical of this so-called recovery even as the Federal Reserve is talking about raising interest rates and "normalizing policy" — moves which are supposed to signal that things are going well. 

When the Fed raises interest rates — the rate at which banks borrow money — it has a ripple effect across the entire economy. Loans to households and businesses become more expensive on everything from small business loans to mortgages to cars.

Let me be honest here; we are nowhere near the point where the economy can support rate hikes. The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a measly 1.5 percent growth for the U.S. economy in 2014. Yes, the U.S. is in a full-blown cyclical recovery now. But the recovery is one that has been muted because of lingering effects from the financial crisis and zero wage growth for middle-class Americans. Did you know, for instance, that this recovery has been the weakest in terms of wage growth of all post-war U.S. recoveries?

You don’t get a robust economy with low wage growth, because ordinary people don’t have enough money in their pockets to buy goods and services, which causes businesses to freeze hiring, or even worse, go under.

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention either that all of the gains have been going to the top 20 percent. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the households in the top 20 percent saw income grow $8,358 per year from 2008 to 2012, while the households in the bottom 20 percent actually saw income decline $275 per year. So, technical recovery or not, it’s hard to be optimistic when we see these kinds of figures.

So what can you expect on the horizon? If you’re a regular Joe or Jane, working for a living, here are three things you can expect in the next year.

1. You might have an easier time finding a job.

The labor market is tightening and we should expect that trend to continue. Unemployment is now at 6.2 percent, down from a 26-year high in late 2009. Job openings recently hit a 13-year high of 4.7 million. The number of workers hired inched up to 4.8 million, while 2.53 million felt comfortable enough with their employment options to quit in June, the highest level in 6 years. And jobless claims are averaging a tad under 300,000, about the lowest level since the halcyon days of the housing bubble. This is all good and will eventually lead to wage growth. But to date, according to a recent Bloomberg News report, only households in the top 20 percent have seen gains. Plus, we don’t know how much growth there will actually be. Nor do we really know what industries will benefit.

2. Things are going to get a little more expensive.

Even if you do see a little more money in your paycheck, what if that money doesn’t go quite as far as it used to? That could happen if the Fed makes certain moves.

It looks like the Fed will continue to tighten policy unless we get an abrupt downshift in the economy. Now, remember, economic policy in the U.S. has been geared toward the wealthy. We have been tightening fiscal policy, which means cutting government spending on social programs, infrastructure, education, and the things that regular people need in order to prosper.

We’ve also been loosening monetary policy to drive recovery, which increases the appetite for risk and speculation on the part of the wealthy. That’s where the dichotomy between the top 20 pecent of households and the bottom 20 percent comes from. But if you listen to Fed officials, it’s clear this policy tilt is coming to an end. Instead, we will have tighter fiscal policy and tighter monetary policy, too. This is going to put pressure on asset prices and could temper wage gains that would otherwise come. Businesses that feel the pressure of Fed rate hikes will be less likely to take on new staff and less likely to increase wages.

3. It will be harder for you to get a loan for a car.

Very likely, banks will tighten lending standards as rate hikes and signs of poor lending hit the bottom line. As an example, in the past couple of years, more people wanted to buy cars because banks were loosening credit standards. The banks wanted to create loans that they could package up into auto asset backed securities as they did during the housing bubble with mortgage loans and mortgage backed-securities.

Just as we saw with housing last cycle, lenders are sub-priming the market, preying on lower credit buyers and putting them into higher rate loans worth more than the price of the vehicle. The New York Times did a must-read exposé on this market. What they found was fraud — like what we saw in mortgages during the housing bubble. So, this is a disaster waiting to happen. And I believe it will happen when the Fed hikes rates because signs that auto demand is slowing and that delinquencies are rising have just started to accumulate.

So what does this mean all together? It means that the American economy has a cyclical recovery that’s not going to do a whole lot of good for you and me. It’s really based on low-interest rates instead of wage gains that will likely weaken due to tighter monetary policy and higher interest rates.

In the end, when monetary policy tightens and interest rates go up, fewer people will have the ability to buy houses, cars and more consumer goods. And consequently, I fear that the opportunity for wage gains to kick in will diminish just as the "real" recovery is beginning.

With most of the gains of this so-called recovery going to the wealthy, one thing is clear: policy needs to change. Income inequality is on the rise and many households are just treading water. Recovery or not, these trends are not good for our economy in the long run.


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14:33 Maverick PAC event to feature Cruz» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Sen. Rob Portman and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will also attend the gathering.
14:26 It’s not a shocker that Miss America worked with Planned Parenthood» Salon.com
Conservative sites are flipping out, but the pageant has a long pro-choice history

14:16 Lee to steer Senate panel» POLITICO - TOP Stories
He will succeed Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who chaired the committee for the past two years.
14:15 PA Survivalist Wanted In Murder Of One Cop, Wounding Of Another» Latest from Crooks and Liars

Another paranoid wingnut acting out the kind of craziness probably fed into his head by the likes of Glenn Beck and extremist websites, and one cop is now dead as a result:

Pennsylvania authorities have identified a 31-year-old man they described as a survivalist with a strong desire to kill police officers as the man who allegedly shot and killed a state trooper in an ambush outside a police barracks Friday night.

Eric Matthew Frein, a Pennsylvania resident, allegedly used a .308-caliber rifle to gun down Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wound a second officer -- Trooper Alex T. Douglass -- around 10:50 p.m. Friday, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Noonan has described the attack as an ambush and said Dickson and Douglass had little chance to defend themselves. Dickson died a short time later, while Douglass was hospitalized in stable but critical condition.

While the shooter's motives remain unclear, Noonan said Frein had "made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also wanting to commit mass acts of murders.”

“He has expressed anti-government leanings in the past, especially toward law enforcement," Noonan said, adding that many of his rants appeared on social media.

read more

14:15 Texas Proposes Rewriting School Books to Deny Manmade Climate Change» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes.

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank.

The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.

A report from the Texas Freedom Network and the National Centre for Science Education on Monday found a number of instances where the proposed texts rejected recognised science.

In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes.

“Scientists agree that Earth’s climate is changing. They do not agree on what is causing the change,” the passage reads.

It quotes two staffers at the Heartland Institute who are not scientists.

An entry in the Texas school texts making false claims about the driver of climate change.
Photo Credit: 
Texas Freedom Network

However, as the analysis noted, there is no scientific disagreement about the causes of climate change. The report said the entire section was misleading. “Scientists do not disagree about what is causing climate change, the vast majority (97%) of climate papers and actively publishing climatologists (again 97%) agree that human activity is responsible,” the report said.

The NCSE experts also took issue with the prominence given over to Heartland. The views of a fringe were given greater prominence than the findings from the thousands of scientists contributing to the United Nations’ blockbuster IPCC reports on climate change on the opposite page.

Minda Berbeco of the NCSE said that the disinformation was a disservice to a new generation of Texans who will have to deal with climate change. “Climate change will be a key issue that future citizens of Texas will need to understand and confront, and they deserve social studies textbooks that reinforce good science and prepare them for the challenges ahead,” she said in a statement.

Kathy Miller, the president of the Texas Freedom Network, suggested that the proposed text books had been deliberately aligned with the political ideology of the rightwing Tea Party. A majority of Republicans in Congress deny the existence of global warming or oppose action on climate change.

The NCSE reviewers also found disinformation on climate change in the proposed 5th grade text books. The passage reads: “Some scientists say it is natural for Earth’s temperature to be higher for a few years. They predict we’ll have some cooler years and things will even out.”

But the centre said that was incorrect. “We are not aware of any currently publishing climatologists who are predicting a cooling trend where ‘things will even out.’”

The reviewers said the proposed 6th and 8th grade texts also contained false statements on the causes for the thinning of the ozone layer.



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14:12 Mom Suffers Brain Injury, Forgets Tax Bill, So County Is Selling Her Home And Keeping The Profit » Latest from Crooks and Liars
Mom Suffers Brain Injury, Forgets Tax Bill, So County Is Selling Her Home And Keeping The Profit

A Michigan mother says that she is devastated because Kalamazoo County is foreclosing on her home after brain bruises from a car accident caused her to miss a single tax payment two years ago.

Deborah Calley told WITI that she paid cash for her dream home in 2010. She had thought that it would make raising two children easier while she was recovering from the traumatic car accident.

But that dream was shattered when she was notified that the county was foreclosing on her home over a missed property tax payment.

“When I paid the taxes in 2012 right there in Richland, no one said, ‘Oh, well you still owe money for 2011,'” Calley said. “So, I didn’t really have a clue. I thought I was right on time.”

Calley's Realtor, Becky Doorlag, explained that it was not unusual for people who owned their home to forget to pay property taxes because they were usually included in the mortgage payment, which Calley did not have. Calley also speculated that her brain injury may have played a role in the missed payment.

Court documents obtained by WITI showed that notices went out about the missed payment, but Calley said that did not see a single one of them. WITI discovered that all but one of those notices were addressed to banks, instead of the homeowner.

read more

14:11 Obama: Ebola needs global response» POLITICO - TOP Stories
"The world has a responsibility to save countless lives," the president says.
14:10 This Changes Everything: Naomi Klein Is Right, Unchecked Capitalism Will Destroy Civilization» ThinkProgress

Naomi Klein has a new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate.” She argues that because we ignored scientists' warnings for 25 years, humanity faces a stark choice: The end of civilization as we know it or the end of capitalism as we know it. It shouldn't be a tough choice, right?

The post This Changes Everything: Naomi Klein Is Right, Unchecked Capitalism Will Destroy Civilization appeared first on ThinkProgress.

14:02 DCCC hits Limbaugh's 'rape' remarks» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Limbaugh protested an Ohio State policy instructing students to get verbal consent before having sex.
13:57 Unions trumpet historic win» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Reservation agents at American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly for union representation.
13:39 The Satanic Temple’s hilarious response to a pro-religion court ruling» Salon.com
There are plans to distribute "The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities"

13:39 Glenn Beck thinks up a new way we’re all about to die» Salon.com
The demagogue-meets-sidewalk-preacher remains extremely worried about Ebola coming to the U.S.

13:34 McConnell, Cruz' s lame-duck split» POLITICO - TOP Stories
McConnell has little fear that controversial legislation would be jammed through by senators.
13:30 Georgia's top election official realizes voter suppression is GOP's only hope» Daily Kos
Voter buttons
Here's Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in July saying he believes Republicans need to match Democrats when it comes to registering new voters:
Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November. Well, we’ve got to do the exact same thing. I would encourage all of you – if you have an Android or Apple device, download that app, and make it your goal to register one new Republican voter.
Aside from the fact that Kemp was clearly writing off the GOP's ability or desire to appeal to minority voters, it's hard to argue with that. If Democrats are going to try to register new voters, then what's wrong with Republicans doing the same? Nothing, obviously. That being said, the problem for Republicans is that there are a lot more unregistered potential Democratic voters than potential Republican ones, especially in places like Georgia. That means the only way for Republicans to match Democratic registration efforts is to stop those Democratic registration efforts—and that's exactly what Kemp is doing in Georgia.

Now that a Democratic-leaning group has submitted 85,000 new voter registration forms, Kemp is no longer singing the praises of voter registration efforts: Instead, he's actively trying to block them by using his power as Georgia's top election official to force them to hand over virtually every document in their possession to his office by 5 PM ET on Tuesday.

If Kemp were serious about making elections work for everyone in his state, he'd stick to what he said in July. But now that he's seen the reality of the GOP's problem, he's changed his mind. The explanation is simple: As kos wrote earlier about the GOP's efforts to stop people from voting: "Republicans suppress voters because they've lost America."

13:11 Blacks, Hispanics don't trust media» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Seventy-five percent of blacks and 66 percent of Hispanics say they believe the media 'moderately.'
13:09 US Waistlines Gained an Inch This Decade» LiveScience.com
The average waist circumference of U.S. adults continuously expanded in the past decade, even though average body mass index went essentially unchanged during the same time, according to a new study.
13:09 Rand Paul’s latest headache: He’d repeal all executive orders! (Except for the ones he wouldn’t!)» Salon.com
Rand Paul won applause for saying he'd repeal all executive orders, ever. But then came the follow-up questions ...

13:07 Conservatives howl over Miss America's Planned Parenthood internship» Daily Kos
Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015
The new Miss America, Kira Kazantsev, isn't necessarily what you'd expect. She volunteered for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign. Asked what issue women in the Senate should be particularly focused on, she spoke about military sexual assault—with a shout-out to Gillibrand. She's spoken out about having been in an abusive relationship in college. And there's something else, something making Kazantsev the target of conservative venom: She interned with Planned Parenthood "where she supported staff members who provide sex education in the community and at local schools."

The horror! Naturally, conservatives can't hear "Planned Parenthood" without thinking "abortionabortionabortionabortion," even though in fact abortion is only 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.

Well how do you like that.  Baby killer supporter is now Miss America! t.co/LOHYpY438d
This is your Miss America in bizzarro insane libtard land. No talent and worked at Planned Parenthood.

DISGRACEFUL! t.co/8b1D7ZkrpK

Kazantsev's talent was singing Pharrell's "Happy" while using a cup for percussion a la the cup song. Conservative-land is pretending she only used the cup and didn't also sing, because pettiness is the name of the game when someone has the audacity to support Planned Parenthood.

Last year's Miss America choice also brought ugliness, remember, because Nina Davuluri became the first Indian-American Miss America.

12:59 Daily Kos endorses Wisconsin candidates: Let's beat Scott Walker multiple times» Daily Kos
Wisconsin State Senate candidate Martha Laning
Martha Laning, one of our four state Senate endorsements in Wisconsin.
Goal Thermometer
Republicans are America's minority party, representing a minority of its people. That's why they are doing everything possible to limit access to voting. And Republicans in Wisconsin are no different than their brethren in other places.
A federal appeals court on Friday permitted Wisconsin to restore a requirement that voters provide photo identification before casting their ballots, allowing the long-debated state law to take effect in time for a hard-fought election on Nov. 4 [...]

The finding was seen as a victory for Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who along with a Republican-controlled Legislature had approved the requirement in 2011 and who faces a re-election challenge from Mary Burke, a Democrat, in November. The law was put on hold not long after it was enacted, as challenges were filed in state and federal courts.

Scott Walker faces a neck-and-neck battle against Democrat Mary Burke, who we endorsed back in June. If the governor was confident of winning based on democratic principles such as "a majority of the popular vote," he wouldn't be working so hard to suppress the vote of his own constituents. But this is all Republicans have left. They don't stand a chance in a fair fight.

So what do we do? Well, we beat them despite their undemocratic efforts. And to do that, we have to engage.

In Wisconsin, it's not just about sending Walker packing. It's about clearing out all the crud that swept in during the GOP's 2010 wave. That means the governor, of course, but the state legislature as well.

Currently, Republicans have a three-seat majority in the state Senate, well within reach of a Democratic majority. Republicans still have a big majority in the state assembly, but first thing's first. Let's get the governor's mansion. Let's get the Senate. With that, Wisconsin Democrats can abandon their defensive posture and go on the offensive, and they'll have two of the three legs for the next redistricting battle. Because if you—outside of Wisconsin—care about nothing else, care about this: President Barack Obama won the state by six points in 2012, yet Republicans hold five of the state's eight U.S. House seats.

Along with voter suppression, gerrymandering of legislative districts allows minority Republicans to retain some measure of control. It's not like they're going to win on popularity, love or respect. So long-term control of the House runs through fair district lines in states like Wisconsin.

So we're endorsing Dean Debroux (SD-01), Martha Laning (SD-09), Pat Bomhack (SD-17), and Penny Bernard Schaber (SD-19)—the candidates that give us our best shot at retaking control of the Senate.

Walker's Wisconsin has been a huge thorn on our side the past four years. It's time for us to finish what we started. Support Mary Burke, and support the Democrats fighting to retain control of the state Senate. Even $3 helps!

12:53 Fox News’ disgraceful Ferguson coverage gets demolished by St. Louis journalist» Salon.com
According to Gilbert Bailon, Fox focused too much on the looting and chaos, and ignored the "deeper story"

12:51 Black Lung Among Coal Miners At Highest Level In 40 Years» ThinkProgress

The high numbers come just 15 years after the "debilitating and entirely preventable respiratory disease" was "virtually eradicated."

The post Black Lung Among Coal Miners At Highest Level In 40 Years appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:50 Reid, McConnell agree on CR, Syria» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The Senate will pass the House's government funding bill that authorizes arming of Syrian rebels.
12:38 The global cost of fighting climate change might be … free?» Salon.com
Saving the world from catastrophic warming doesn't necessarily require sacrifice, finds a major new report

12:34 There’s Still A Lot Of Work To Be Done In The Fight Against Hunger» ThinkProgress

The world's malnourished population is declining, but too many people are still going hungry.

The post There’s Still A Lot Of Work To Be Done In The Fight Against Hunger appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:32 Judge: Hobby Lobby Decision Means Polygamous Sect Member Can Refuse To Testify In Child Labor Case» ThinkProgress

The court concluded that a cult member's religious interest in staying silent should trump the nation's interest in ensuring that we leave no stone unturned when investigating allegations of mass exploitation of children.

The post Judge: Hobby Lobby Decision Means Polygamous Sect Member Can Refuse To Testify In Child Labor Case appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:30 Louisiana Governor Hedges On Climate Change As His State Disappears Into the Sea» ThinkProgress

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) unveiled a grand energy plan on Tuesday, but didn't mention the devastating impacts climate change is having on his home state.

The post Louisiana Governor Hedges On Climate Change As His State Disappears Into the Sea appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:06 1 in 5 men report committing domestic violence» Salon.com
The prevalence of intimate partner violence is higher than that of diabetes. Prevention methods must change

12:06 Creationist radio host: Bacon proves that America is a Christian nation» Salon.com
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer puts a lot of stock in our tolerance of pork products

12:06 Shocking documents reveal: America’s chicken industry is putting us all in danger» Salon.com
Antibiotic abuse at the country's biggest poultry plants is "standard practice"
12:06 There’s a lot less keeping the U.S. from sending ground troops to Iraq than you think» Salon.com
A Senate hearing on Tuesday did little to calm those who fear of a slippery slope leading to a greater war
12:06 Senator To Target NFL’s Tax Exempt Status In Effort To Change ‘Redskins’ Name» ThinkProgress

The Change The Mascot campaign also sent a letter to NFL owners calling for a name change and announced other plans to continue their fight at a press conference Tuesday.

The post Senator To Target NFL’s Tax Exempt Status In Effort To Change ‘Redskins’ Name appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:05 Why Doctors Should Start Screening Men To Spot Potential Abusers» ThinkProgress

In order to prevent domestic violence, can we identify the men at risk for abusing?

The post Why Doctors Should Start Screening Men To Spot Potential Abusers appeared first on ThinkProgress.

12:00 Midday open thread: Limbaugh thinks 'no' means 'yes,' black ministers push climate justice » Daily Kos
  • Today's comic by Jen Sorensen is The guide to e-holes:
    Cartoon by Jen Sorensen -- The guide to e-holes
  • These Daily Kos community posts were the most shared on Facebook September 15:
    Davis, California Tells Its Police Chief To Get Rid Of His Tank, by Dartagnan

    Gentlemanly Mark Sanford (R-Hiking) Breaks Engagement On Facebook, by Retroactive Genius

    Arizona's GOP Vice-Chair: I'd Sterilize Poor Women On Medicaid; Test For Drugs, Alcohol, by librarisingnsf

  • DSCC outraises NRSC in August: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $7.7 million last month, 25 percent more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raised $6.1 million. By the end of August, the DSCC had $25.3 million in the bank. The NRSC had $19.9 million. The DSCC has consistently outraised the NRSC, with President Obama headlining many fund-raisers and drawing in the big donors.
  • International Cycling Union president labels Colombian women's uniforms "unacceptable by any standard of decency".
  • Limbaugh thinks "no" is code for "yes" that experienced men can decipher:
    Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh mocked The Ohio State University's new policy telling students to get clear, verbal consent before having sex. Limbaugh went on to ask guys "how many of you guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that no means yes if you know how to spot it?"

    Early on Tuesday Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) released a statement slamming Limbaugh for his remarks.

    "There's simply no excusing comments of this offensive nature, especially at a time where our country is having a long-overdue conversation about violence against women. Plain and simple—Rush Limbaugh is advocating for the tolerance of sexual assault and should be taken off the air immediately."

  • Black church leaders push climate justice:
    Rev. William Barber’s Moral Movement counts promoting environmental justice among its 14-point agenda. Ditto for the Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice in New York, who’ve been working on food, energy, and climate issues for years now. In fact, the environmental justice movement was initiated by a 1987 report commissioned by the United Church of Christ religious denomination.

    The tradition continues. In D.C., Rev. Lennox Yearwood has been leading flocks to the climate change struggle through his work not only as a minister, but also as president of the Hip Hop Caucus, which uses the culture to spur youth into  political activism. Rolling Stone called him one of the “New Green Heroes” last year. He co-authored a Huffington Post op-ed last with Climate Crisis Solutions President Tom Weis last week calling for a “Zero Emissions Manifesto for the Climate Justice Movement,” challenging world leaders to commit to complete carbon neutrality at the upcoming UN Climate Summit.

  • One in five men admits to hitting wife, girlfriend:
    Close to one in five men admits he has hit, slapped, kicked or otherwise attacked a wife or girlfriend, researchers say. It’s a rare look at domestic violence not from the point of view of the victim, but from the aggressor’s side. The data is a decade old but it comes from face-to-face interviews with men and might suggest the true number of men who have physically abused intimate partners is even higher, the University of Michigan researchers say.
  • Neuroscientists discover key role of speech gene:
    Researchers from MIT and several European universities have shown that the human version of a gene called Foxp2 makes it easier to transform new experiences into routine procedures. When they engineered mice to express humanized Foxp2, the mice learned to run a maze much more quickly than normal mice.

    The findings suggest that Foxp2 may help humans with a key component of learning languag—transforming experiences, such as hearing the word "glass" when we are shown a glass of water, into a nearly automatic association of that word with objects that look and function like glasses, says Ann Graybiel, an MIT Institute Professor, member of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and a senior author of the study.

  • Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce had to resign as first vice chairman of the Arizona Republican Party as a consequence of saying what he would do if he were in charge of Arizona's public assistance programs: "The first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth control implants, or tubal ligations…Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want [to reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job." Let's just sterilize people. Brilliant idea, buddy. Team Blackness also discussed Kanye West's latest gaffe, why someone at Urban Outfitters should read a history book, and the Adrian Peterson controversy.
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  • On today's Kagro in the Morning show: No, "tort reform" won't help health care costs. Big drop in the numbers of uninsured. How the Gop could still blow it. Mudflats on the Palin Riot. Stand Your Planet! Rosalyn MacGregor's MI update. Is a new tech bubble rising?
12:00 Grand Jury Now Has Until January To Decide On Darren Wilson» Latest from Crooks and Liars
Grand Jury Now Has Until January To Decide On Darren Wilson

The Grand Jury investigating Michael Brown has been given an extension of 60 days to complete its work, dragging the deadline into January.


Under Missouri law, grand juries can be empanelled up to six months but typically are held for four months. The current grand jury sitting in St. Louis County was due to disband Sept. 10, but at the request of the prosecutor’s office, St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington has approved holding the jury for the full six months. She then added 60 days to the jury’s term, said Paul Fox, the county’s director of judicial administration.

“This is not a typical case,” Fox said.

I'm not sure what McCulloch thinks will be gained by dragging out the Grand Jury investigation of the Michael Brown shooting. It's clear he's simply tossing all of the "evidence" in front of them and letting them make the decision, but anyone who follows criminal law knows that Grand Juries generally rubber stamp whatever the DA wants in terms of charges.

Meanwhile, there are now six credible eyewitness accounts all in agreement that Michael Brown had his hands in the air, that Darren Wilson unloaded his gun while advancing on Brown, and that Brown was running from Wilson when he opened fire.

The anger in that community is not going to dissipate with a delay in Grand Jury proceedings.

read more

11:59 World's Happiest Country Is ... (Hint: It Has a Canal)» LiveScience.com
A new international survey reveals how nations rank when it comes to well-being of their residents.
11:54 Chris Brown’s New Album Is As Awful As He Is» ThinkProgress

Don't worry about separating the artist from the art: Chris Brown's new album is the worst.

The post Chris Brown’s New Album Is As Awful As He Is appeared first on ThinkProgress.

11:49 Next phase for net neutrality: Demand public hearings on FCC plans» Daily Kos
Pro-net neutrality Internet activists rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California July 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn  (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR3ZWDG
The Daily Kos community absolutely rocked the Federal Communication Commission's public comment period on its proposed net neutrality rules. We took just under 1 million online, individual actions—a combined 988,888 actions—in support of a free and open internet: 420,334 direct and personal comments to the FCC; 264,116 petitions to the FCC; 160,347 comments to the White House; 125,177 comments to members of Congress; and 18,914 petitions to the White House. We've been recognized by the Sunlight Foundation as one of a handful of organizations leading the fight with our efforts, largely thanks to our kick-ass action team, and this campaign's director, Rachel Colyer.

In our official comment to the FCC, Markos wrote about the founding of Daily Kos and what we've been able to achieve because of the open internet. Here's a snippet of the full comment (which has not been published to the FCC site yet):

Founded on May 26, 2002, Daily Kos is the premier online political community with over eight million unique visitors per month and over a quarter of a million registered users. It is at once a news organization, online community, and activist organization with a burgeoning campaign operation. Daily Kos is on the cutting edge of media, online organizing, offline action, and is a massive community building platform which millions of regular Americans have used to shape a political world once the exclusive domain of the rich, connected, and powerful.

Daily Kos depends on a level playing field online in order to create news content and drive online campaigns. We work tirelessly to elect more and better Democrats to help spread democratic values. [...]

Since, 2002 Daily Kos has grown to a staff of nearly 40 employees who telework from around the country, collaborating online to provide content that reaches millions of readers and community members each month. We’ve raised millions of dollars for candidates and causes through our website and supporting technologies, none of which would’ve been possible without a fair shot on the internet--free from unreasonable discrimination and additional access fees from gatekeepers, like the big Internet Service Providers.

Without net neutrality, none of that exists. With the "solution" Chairman Tom Wheeler came up with in his current proposal—allowing ISPs to create fast lanes for the companies who could afford to pay for higher speed delivery of their content—Daily Kos's future is in jeopardy. That's still the message Wheeler needs to hear, and he needs to hear it in person. Right now, he's planned a bunch of "roundtable" talks at the FCC in DC. Lobbyists, industry insiders, and some public interest advocates will have the chance to talk to the commissioners about net neutrality. But as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) argue, this discussion matters a lot more outside the Beltway. They are demanding that Wheeler and the FCC take these roundtables on the road, get away from the lobbyists and talk to the people. Rep. Matsui is holding a public meeting with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel on September 24, but so far Wheeler hasn't announced a public appearance anywhere outside of D.C.

We're joining in the demand that the FCC, and specifically Wheeler, hold large, open public field hearings to face the American public. The FCC isn't expected to make a decision on this proposed rule until late this fall. Between now and then, we can't let our voices be drowned out by Big Telecom and their lobbyists.

Sign and send the petition to the FCC demanding the Chairman come out and face the public support for real net neutrality. Please personalize your statement to the Chairman before sending the comment. The Chairman and staff are more likely to listen to personal messages.

11:46 This Is How 135 Nations Fare on Happiness» LiveScience.com
A new international survey, the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, reveals how 135 countries rank when it comes to the well-being of their residents.
11:44 Some 'pro-life' Missouri Republican lawmakers worry they aren't viewed as 'pro-life' enough» Daily Kos
St. Louis Planned Parenthood. The only clinic performing abortions in Missouri as of 9-16-14.
Despite efforts to shut it down, St. Louis Planned Parenthood
is the only clinic still performing abortions in Missouri.
'I'm more pro-life than you are.' 'Nuh-uh, I'm more pro-life than you are.' The only way one of us can eventually win is if we pass a nine-month waiting bill."
—Missouri state Rep. Chris Molendorp

Last week, both houses of the Missouri legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of one of the toughest abortion laws in the nation. Almost all the Republicans and many Democrats voted for the override of the bill that was first passed in May. Next month, therefore, Missouri will become the third state—joining South Dakota and Utah—to mandate a three-day waiting period for an abortion. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The state already had a 24-hour waiting period plus other restrictions on abortion that have helped force the closure of all but a single clinic where women can obtain the procedure.

Molly Redden at Mother Jones reports that a few moderate Republicans who tried to persuade some of the more flexible GOP lawmakers to change their minds said they didn't want to vote for the override, but felt they had no choice:

When cornered, some GOP lawmakers made a confession. "They said, 'I don't actually want to vote for this bill,'" recalls Linda Rallo, an alderwoman who led the team that buttonholed Republicans. "'But if it comes to the floor, I'm going to vote for it.'"

Republican state Rep. Chris Molendorp, who opposed the bill, heard similar admissions from his GOP colleagues. In a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus before the vote, Molendorp argued that the bill most of his colleagues were about to vote for was unreasonably cruel. [...]

Rallo fears this bill identifies the GOP with a "Todd Akin agenda." "It makes it harder for moderate candidates to get broad, statewide support," she says. "And a lot of women like me are feeling like there's not a place for them in the Republican Party … They take our money and our time but they don't want our opinion."

Wow. Eyes finally wide open. Yes, there really is a GOP war on women, Ms. Rallo. The message Rallo and other somewhat reasonable Republicans are getting is: Enlist or else.

Saying they had no choice on how to vote on the override of this dreadful law is sickeningly ironic. Courageous, principled lawmakers always have a choice. It's the women they've imposed the newest restriction on who don't.  

11:34 Bobby Jindal: 'I'm Not An Evolutionary Biologist'» Latest from Crooks and Liars

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had a tough time responding to a couple of questions that asked him if he believed in evolution. Are you shocked? Governor Howdy Doody often mingles his Christian beliefs into scientific ones and thinks they both have equal weight or that his religious beliefs far exceed those espoused by scientific fact.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dodged three questions on Tuesday about whether he personally believes the theory of evolution explains the presence of complex life on Earth.

"The reality is I'm not an evolutionary biologist," the Republican governor and possible 2016presidential hopeful told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

"What I believe as a father and a husband is that local schools should make decisions on how they teach," he said. "And we can talk about Common Core and why I don't believe in a national curriculum. I think local school districts should make decisions about what should be taught in their classroom. I want my kids to be exposed to the best science, the best critical thinking..."

read more

11:29 New PPP poll in Kansas shows the screws tightening on the worst secretary of state in the nation» Daily Kos
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach head shot
Goal Thermometer

PPP last checked in on this race a month ago and Kris Kobach, the worst secretary of state in the nation, had a 5-point lead on his Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf.

Today's PPP polling shows the race is now a dead heat:

The candidates for Secretary of State are Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Jean Schodorf. If the election was today, who would you vote for?

Kris Kobach .................................................... 43%
Jean Schodorf................................................. 42% Undecided....................................................... 15%

The latest SurveyUSA poll showed Jean Schodorf with a 3-point lead and both polls reflect momentum on the Democratic challenger's side.

It's time to get Kris Kobach out of the Kansas secretary of state's office. Can you contribute $5 to help elect Jean Schodorf and send the worst secretary of state in the nation to the unemployment line?

11:25 Asteroid Science: How 'Armageddon' Got It Wrong» LiveScience.com
In the 1998 movie 'Armageddon,' an asteroid the size of Texas threatens to collide with Earth in 18 days. Despite its entertainment value, the film is fantastically inaccurate, astronomer Phil Plait said.
11:25 Meet the Columbia Student Who Will Carry a Mattress on Campus Until Alleged Rapist is Expelled» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Emma Sulkowicz said the school had botched her case.

In an interview with Democracy Now!, Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who has vowed to carry a dorm room mattress until her alleged rapist is removed from the school, explained the idea behind the symbolic protest that has recently drawn media attention. “I was raped in my own bed,” she told Amy Goodman. “And, of course, rape can happen anywhere, but for me, it sort of desecrated one of the most intimate and private places of my life. And the way that I’ve brought my story from a place that I keep secret out into the public eye sort of mirrors carrying the mattress itself out into the light for everyone to see. So I felt like it would be an appropriate metaphor.

Sulkowicz also spoke about how the university mishandled her case. “For one, they allowed my attacker to postpone it for seven months, which was long enough for one of the women who reported to graduate, because he had academic conflicts, like midterms and essays, which we all have. One of my hearing panelists kept asking me about whether there was lubrication involved, because she didn’t seem to understand that anal rape could happen without it, which of course is ridiculous because rape is forced, and that’s exactly how it works. And that’s why I was in pain.”

Watch an interview with Sulkowicz below, followed by a transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: A Columbia University senior, who says she was raped on campus by a fellow student, has launched an unusual act of protest. Emma Sulkowicz has vowed to carry a dorm room mattress with her everywhere on campus until her rapist is expelled or leaves campus on his own. Sulkowicz says she was raped in her own dorm room in August of 2012.

That was only the beginning. After she reported her assault to Columbia, she appeared before a disciplinary panel where she was forced to explain to a university official how the painful manner in which she had been raped was physically possible. Then the panel found her accused assailant not responsible.

Two other students also came forward and filed complaints against the same person, accusing him of sexual violence. In one case, the alleged assailant was found responsible, but the charge was ultimately dismissed after he filed an appeal with the dean of his college. The dean convened a whole new hearing, which did not involve the survivor at all, because she had graduated. In the second case, the university denied the woman a hearing, citing a lack of evidence.

So, Emma Sulkowicz’s alleged rapist remains on campus. As her senior thesis project this year, Emma launched the mattress performance, "Carry That Weight." She has since received a wave of support. Last Wednesday, students gathered to help Emma carry her mattress across campus to school to all her classes. On Friday, hundreds of Columbia students and supporters rallied in front of Low Library. They wore red tape over their mouths to symbolize the harms done by Columbia’s bureaucratic handling of sexual assault. Emma Sulkowicz addressed the crowd.

EMMA SULKOWICZ: This isn’t a shouting speech, but I have to shout anyway. So, thank you so much for being here. All the support I have received since beginning this endurance piece has been so overwhelming and moving that I am at a loss for words. Your emails, your thank yous and your help carrying my mattress has shown me that we really do care. We are more determined than ever to end sexual assault on this campus, and across the nation a movement is rising. Your passion is strong and contagious.

Now, more than ever, we must continue to spread sensitivity to others and a true understanding of what it means to be a survivor. This is urgent. We must show the world why this matters. In this fight to end the silence, every voice counts. And this is why I thank you all again for coming today. I believe that a survivor’s greatest asset is their support. And to see you all here together is a beautiful sight. It is a reminder that we do have support because we have each other. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Emma Sulkowicz speaking at Columbia University on Friday. She joins us now here on Democracy Now!

We did invite Columbia University to join us on the program, but they didn’t make any school official available. The university did, however, provide a statement to us that read in part, quote, "These matters are extremely sensitive, and we do not want to deter survivors from reporting them. The University therefore does not comment on these matters."

Emma Sulkowicz, welcome to Democracy Now!

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: This performance piece that you were doing throughout the year, talk about how you came up with this idea.

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Well, I first came up with the idea when I was at an art residency this summer, and I was making a video where I had to move a mattress out of a room. And sort of the idea of me carrying a mattress got stuck in my head, as a song might get stuck in someone’s head. And I unpacked the image and realized all of the symbolic importance of what it would mean to carry a mattress around with me at Columbia, and I realized I had to do it.

AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Well, in my case, I was raped in my own bed. And, of course, rape can happen anywhere, but for me, it sort of desecrated one of the most intimate and private places of my life. And the way that I’ve brought my story from a place that I keep secret out into the public eye sort of mirrors carrying the mattress itself out into the light for everyone to see. So I felt like it would be an appropriate metaphor.

AMY GOODMAN: When did the attack happen?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: It happened on the first day of my sophomore year.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you do about it afterwards? Who did you report it to?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Immediately afterwards? Well, at first, I didn’t even tell my parents. It was very—I was very ashamed, I felt disgusting, and I didn’t want to talk about it at all. But after I met other women that my rapist had attacked, as well, I realized that if I didn’t—if I didn’t do something, he would continue to rape other students on our campus. So, that’s when I decided to report it to the school.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did the school do?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Completely mishandled my case. For one, they allowed my attacker to postpone it for seven months, which was long enough for one of the women who reported to graduate, because he had academic conflicts, like midterms and essays, which we all have. One of my hearing panelists kept asking me about whether there was lubrication involved, because she didn’t seem to understand that anal rape could happen without it, which of course is ridiculous because rape is forced, and that’s exactly how it works. And that’s why I was in pain. And—

AMY GOODMAN: She asked you to explain this in front of the panel?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Yeah. And then, the investigation itself was a total mess. The investigator didn’t even include the position I was in when he raped me in the report that was ultimately given to the hearing panel, because I guess she didn’t think it was an important detail, even though I repeated it multiple times. The list goes on, but...

AMY GOODMAN: And what did the panel find?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: They found him not guilty of assaulting me.

AMY GOODMAN: This was two years ago?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: This was at the beginning of my junior year.

AMY GOODMAN: The rape happened two years ago, but this was the beginning of your junior year where the panel finished.


AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the case of the other two women, another woman went before the panel, like you did?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Yes, another woman—one woman was denied a hearing, because they told her she didn’t even have enough evidence to have one, which I believe is the hearing panel’s decision to make, but the school decided to cut her off short. And the other woman had the hearing. They found him guilty of groping her at a party, but then he submitted an appeal to the dean of his college, who, by the policies, has full autonomy to decide the case however he wants. So, he, the dean, Dean Valentini, convened an entirely new hearing panel, even though the woman had already graduated, with hearing panels who never heard her voice. And, of course, they found him not guilty in the new hearing.

AMY GOODMAN: So, right now you are dragging this mattress everywhere you go on campus?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Carrying it, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And do people help you?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Yeah, most of the time. As soon as someone—as soon as I leave the room, someone will jump in and help me. But a lot of people will even come up to me and say, "Thank you so much for what you’re doing," and then walk next to me while I carry it.

AMY GOODMAN: And what has been the university’s response?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: They have yet to reach out to me. They’ve mentioned—perhaps mentioned my piece in an email to the university, where they said something like, "We respect individuals’ rights to protest peacefully," or something like that. But they have yet to contact me directly.

AMY GOODMAN: You reported this to Columbia University, the attack. Did you report it to the police?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: I did report it to the police.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happened in that case?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: The first responder told me that what happened to me was consensual. He kept insisting that it wasn’t rape, he just got a little weird. Zoe came with me, and he was smoking a cigarette in our face, and when she asked him to put it out, he said, "Quiet down, honey. You’re in my office now." He really made me feel unsafe and like I couldn’t trust the police at all.

AMY GOODMAN: And were charges ever brought?

EMMA SULKOWICZ: Ultimately, the District Attorney’s Office told me that a hearing—it would take about nine months to a year for a hearing to happen, and by that point, I would have already graduated. And I have a feeling that as soon as I graduate, I’m going to want to move on with my life.

AMY GOODMAN: You were just referring to Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, who also will join us after break. We’re talking to Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University. She reported her assault, went before a panel. That was in 2013. Now, in 2014, after the university ultimately found the alleged rapist not responsible, she has begun a performance piece, which is carrying her mattress around campus everywhere she goes. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with Emma Sulkowicz in a moment.



Related Stories

11:14 How Denial Caused One Major Health Catastrophe, and How It May Trigger More Crises» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
We haven't learned our lessons yet.
Nearly 15 years ago, the unspeakable happened in AIDS-ravaged South Africa. The nation’s president, Thabo Mbeki, was apparently fooled by posts on Western Internet websites that disputed whether HIV caused AIDS, and he ordered that the country’s physicians stop administering antiretroviral drugs to citizens afflicted with HIV, which was almost 1 in 10 at the time. President Mbeki aggressively defended his actions, claiming that AIDS in Africa was primarily a heterosexual paradox. He insisted that the disease was "a uniquely African catastrophe," and said that conventional medicine from the West was an "absurd and illogical" solution to the country’s health crisis.

Mbeki deferred to a group of dissident—and thoroughly discredited—academics and naysayers in the U.S. With AIDS predicted to decimate a full 25% of South Africa's population by the year 2010, Mbeki pinned all South Africa’s hopes on containing the disease on the advice of a controversial molecular biologist, Peter Duesberg, who claimed HIV was relatively harmless and that AIDS was caused more by poverty-related conditions such as undernourishment than by unprotected sex. So, instead of administering the cocktail of HIV medications known to be effective, Mbeki had his health minister contrive alternative remedies for AIDS, including beetroot and garlic.

The results were devastating for South Africa. More than 330,000 people died prematurely from the disease between 2000 and 2005 due to Mbeki’s AIDS denialism, and at least 35,000 babies were born with HIV, infections that could have been prevented using conventional medicine, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contagion in the United States

While there is no direct institutional denialism of conventional medicine here in the U.S., the denialist movement is active and spreading nonetheless. Vaccine denialism—especially in states with lax public-health laws—has already shown to have a negative effect on public health in some regional pockets, and it’s leaving those communities open to outbreaks of diseases that had been all but eradicated, including measles, polio, whooping cough (pertussis), and even smallpox.

In 2013, researchers confirmed that a 2010 whooping cough outbreak in California—the worst in the U.S. in more than 50 years—was spread primarily by the children of parents who received non-medical exemptions for school vaccinations from the state. The study showed that the outbreak was found exclusively in clusters where children were not vaccinated. There were more than 9,000 incidences of the disease in California in 2010 and 10 deaths. In San Diego County, where there were about 5,000 immunization exemptions, there were 980 cases of whooping cough.

Meanwhile, some states were slashing programs for children's vaccinations. In 2011, the year after the whooping cough outbreak in California, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott cut a state program that provided whooping couch vaccines for poor mothers of babies too young to get their first whooping cough vaccines. There has since been a whooping cough outbreak in Florida with a six-week-old boy dying from the disease

These whooping cough outbreaks have been followed by a measles outbreak that began in Texas this year, which is now spreading throughout the U.S. Measles had also been declared eliminated, but in recent years it has appeared in areas with low-vaccination rates. The original Texas outbreak affected 21 children who attended the Eagle Mountain International Church in northern Texas, a congregation skeptical of vaccines. The outbreak began after an un-​immunized man visited Indonesia and then the church, which is part of the Kenneth Copeland ministries. None of the children affected had been vaccinated.

"This is a good example, unfortunately, of how birds of a feather flock together," Jason Terk, an infectious disease specialist recently told NPR. "If you have individuals who are vaccine-hesitant or vaccine-hostile, they congregate together, and that creates its own unique situation where a population of individuals is susceptible to getting the very disease that they decided they don't want to protect themselves from."

Overall, measles has infected nearly​ 600 ​people in 18 localized breakouts across 21 states in the U.S. this year. And despite more than 90% of the U.S. population being immunized against measles, this is the worst measles outbreak in decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly three times the number of people have been infected through the end of August than were infected in all 2013.

So far, there are no reported deaths from measles in the U.S. this year, but researchers say it’s all a numbers game. Between one and two of every 1,000 cases of measles are fatal, according to the CDC.

Can Vaccine Denialism in the U.S. Turn Deadly?

One of the scariest facets of vaccine denialism ​are those who claim they’re “not anti-vaccine, but pro-safe vaccine.” Thus, they validate themselves as responsible and immunize themselves (pardon the pun) from criticism once outbreaks of measles and whooping cough occur. Thus, those who choose to delay vaccinations or not stick by the prescribed schedule can deny culpability. But their apprehension and ambiguity — whether denialism or not — feeds the doubt that keeps other parents from immunizing their children. And any rhetoric against vaccinations can have a negative impact.

Take the Taliban-occupied areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, regions where children are being kept from critical vaccinations. This tragedy has nothing to do with denial, but instead anger with the U.S. Leaders of the radical Islamic sect have attacked healthcare workers, killing 61 of them and their escorts in the past two years, and have banned the dispersal of the polio vaccine after they discovered a fake vaccination campaign was used to hunt down Osama bin Laden through his family’s DNA several years ago.

The results of the Taliban’s quasi-institutional embargo on vaccinations have been devastating. Last week, Pakistan reported another 11 new cases of polio, bringing this year’s total to 138, compared with 34 cases of the crippling disease from just a year earlier.

Once nearly extinct, polio’s comeback in the Middle East and northern Africa has elicited a declaration of a global health emergency from the World Health Organization, which has asked these and other countries to ensure their residents are vaccinated before they travel abroad.

Can polio make a comeback in the US? Researchers in Europe are saying that the disease can make a comeback there as regional conflicts are undermining a $10 billion immunization campaign. They’re also concerned about polio’s recent reemergence in war-torn Syria, and the possibility that ​unimmunized refugees who carry the virus may flee to European countries that have been polio-free for decades.​​

Earlier this year, Penn State’s Department of Biochemistry warned that national and global events could combine into some reemergence of polio here, but only for communities that don’t immunize, like the​ 2005 breakout in a Minnesota Amish community. But for the general U.S. population, there’s little risk of polio flaring up, as is happening overseas.

But even as vaccination rates are high in the U.S., the anti-vaccine movement is growing in some states, aided by permissive religious and personal exemptions allowed by state laws. Paul Offit, the noted pediatrician and vaccine advocate, notes that states like Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Vermont have rates of unvaccinated kindergartners that are four times the national average. These states could become potential hotspots for infectious diseases, especially in more vaccine-wary communities.

But it’s not only the children whose parents choose not to vaccinate or to delay vaccination that are at risk. Also defenseless are infants and toddlers too young to have their vaccinations, children with immunodeficiencies, and people who, for medical reasons, can't be vaccinated and rely on “herd immunity” from others' vaccinations to keep them protected. So, the denialism of parents who chose not to vaccinate can harm or even kill the small children of parents with every intention of abiding by the vaccination schedule.

"People assume this will never happen to them until it happens to them," Offit told USA Today in April. "​I​t's a shame that's the way we have to learn the lesson. There's a human price for that lesson."​​

11:06 A New Government Report Shows More Coal Plants Are Retiring Than Previously Thought» ThinkProgress

The GAO report upped its estimate of coal retirements by 2025 to 13 percent of national capacity, and said "widespread reliability concerns are not anticipated."

The post A New Government Report Shows More Coal Plants Are Retiring Than Previously Thought appeared first on ThinkProgress.

11:00 Dino-Killing Impact Remade Plant Kingdom, Too» LiveScience.com
Harsh conditions after the dino-killing meteor impact favored fast-growing plants, nudging forests toward a new pecking order
10:57 How the Bush Administration Covered Up the Saudi Connection to 9/11» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
It's a story of how the White House sought to suppress evidence that would reveal how much it knew of the attack plot.

In his New Yorker article, posted on the magazine’s web site last week, Lawrence Wright tells how the Bush administration deleted 28 pages in the 2002 report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry on 911 probably because they describe in detail the Saudi connection to the Al Qaeda attack and Saudi financing of its operatives in the United States—people who knew two of the hijackers, and may well have been used as conduits for Saudi cash. Some of the money may have come from the royal family through a charity.

In removing the 28 pages Bush said the publication of the information would damage American intelligence operations. The Saudis deny all this.

In fact no one would be talking about it now were it not for families of victims of the attack and insurers, who are suing the Saudis.

Wright goes on to report:

“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America.   “Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,” Lynch maintains. Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijacking is “very disturbing,” and that “the real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through.” Now, in a rare example of bipartisanship, Jones and Lynch have co-sponsored a resolution requesting that the Obama Administration declassify the pages.

But there are other questions here, and they involve the story of how the Bush administration sought to suppress evidence that would reveal how much it knew of the attack plot —and didn’t do anything to stop it.

To resume the story briefly:

Two of the flight 77 hijackers—Khalid al-Mihdhar, a Saudi who fought for al-Qaeda in Bosnia and Chechyna, and Nawaf al Hazmi, another Saudi with battle experience in Bosnia, Chechyna and Afghanistan, met at an al-Qaeda  strategy meeting in Kuala Lumpur in January, 2000. The CIA had asked the Malaysian intelligence service to conduct surveillance, but it proved not to be very effective. The two left that meeting, went to the airport and boarded a commercial flight to Bankok on January 8, and subsequently took a United Airlines flight from Bangkok to Los Angeles, landing without incident and passing through US immigration.

By that time, according to the Joint Inquiry Report, “the CIA and NSA had sufficient information available concerning future hijackers al-Midhar and al-Hamzi to connect them to Usama Bin Laden, the East Africa embassy bombing and the USS Cole attack…and they should have been placed on the State Department TIPOFF watch-list and the INS and Customs watch-list.’’

By July 2001, analysts operating on their own confirmed the two had landed in the US and notified the FBI. The Bureau alerted its offices in New York, but not in Los Angeles or San Diego. And no one thought to tell the FAA, INS or Customs Service not to let these men fly on planes.

Once in the US, the two hijackers passed unnoticed beneath noses of the CIA and FBI. They went from Los Angeles to San Diego, where they rented an apartment, got Social Security cards, drivers licenses, credit cards and a car. They soon began flight training.

The two had contact with a radical iman, who the FBI was watching and with a leader in the local Saudi community who was believed to be a Saudi financial conduit to the hijackers.

Perhaps most significant they had contact with a local FBI informant, in fact, living in his house. This man was charged by the FBI with keeping tabs on the local Saudi community. “He stayed at the home of a source of ours,’’ an FBI counterterrorism official later told James Bamford, author of the book A Pretext for War.  “Had we known about them we would have followed them and said, ‘Hey,these guys are going to aviation school.’’’

The Joint Inquiry concluded that the informants contacts with the hijackers, had they been followed up, would have given the FBI’s San Diego office the best chance to unravel the plot. Later efforts by the Joint Inquiry to interview the informant were thwarted by the FBI and Justice Department.

According to former Florida Senator Bob Graham, in his bookIntelligence Matters, when the Joint Inquiry asked the FBI for all its files on the informer, the members were denied access to him and when the Joint Inquiry subpoened him, the FBI stalled. Graham called a meeting with CIA director George Tenet, FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft. They suggested Graham question the informant in writing. But by the time the FBI sent out their questions, the informant had retained a top lawyer, a former employee of the Justice Department. The lawyer demanded immunity for the informant before testifying. Graham writes in his book, “It seemed strange that an individual who claimed to have done nothing wrong and who the FBI argued continued to be a valuable source of information would request immunity.’’

The committee turned down the request.

Graham wrote, the FBI  ”insisted that we could not even in the most sanitized manner, tell the American people that an FBI informant had a relationship with two of the hijackers.” The Bureau opposed public hearings, deleted any reference to the situation from the Joint Inquiry’s unclassified report. Only a year later did the FBI allow a heavily-redacted version of the story in the public report.

Finally in his book Graham describes a letter from a member of the FBI’s congressional staff explaining the Bureau had been uncooperative on orders of the administration.  “We were seeing in writing what we had suspected for some time. The White House was directing the coverup.

“Later, when the 911 Commission conducted its own investigation, both Bush and Cheney met with them in a private, off-the-record conversation.”

This story and the new piece by Wright strongly suggest the President, Vice President and head of the FBI were engaged in obstruction of justice. If so, that would call for the convening of a federal grand jury. Would the Justice Department, which runs the FBI, do that? Probably not.

So it is left to the families suing the Saudis to find and publish the truth.

10:52 Obama's coalition challenges» POLITICO - TOP Stories
His rhetoric can be a problem if he sets goals that go beyond what the coalition is capable of.
10:47 10 Sneaky Sugar Sources That Hold Your Weight Hostage» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
You may be shocked to know that these seemingly innocuous foods contain added sugars.

Years ago, I had a client who ate pristinely, removed food intolerances from her diet, combined weight resistance with burst training, got eight hours of sleep every night, and controlled her stress levels.

Despite that persistent effort, the scales wouldn't budge, and I remained baffled.

Until one morning, that is, when I ran into her on my way to the gym holding a venti Starbucks. "Coffee or tea?" I asked.

Turns out, she was drinking a non-fat Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Since this was pre-iPhone, during my next visit to Starbucks I picked up a nutrition guide. Turns out that "skinny" drink contained a whopping five teaspoons of sugar. Bam. I found the culprit.

Unlike my client, perhaps you're aware coffee drinks can become sugar bombs, but even the most health-conscious among us struggle to know everywhere sugar hides and how to avoid those things. It can feel incredibly daunting.

Sneaky sugars hide in places you'd never suspect, including whole foods, diet foods, packaged fruit, drinks, and dressings. Stevia in the Raw packets, which sound perfectly healthy, contain dextrose (sugar) as its first ingredient. A little misleading, eh?

The first step to curbing sugar consumption involves learning its many names. My friend Jonathan Bailor conveniently compiled 57 (!) of them in this HuffPost blog.

Once you have that list, you'll want to diligently inspect labels. Never mind whether it says "no sugar added" or any other nutrition claims. You've got to actually read ingredients to know for sure.

Even I became shocked to learn about seemingly innocuous foods that contain added sugars. How many of these 10 offenders would you have guessed?

1. Balsamic vinaigrette. Authentic, traditional balsamic vinegar comes from Italy, requires 12 years or longer to age, and undergoes rigorous testing before it goes to market. Commercial balsamic vinegar doesn't undergo this painstaking process. Instead, manufacturers usually make it from white wine vinegar and add caramel coloring (for color and added sweetness) as well as thickeners like cornstarch and gum, which ramp up the calories and sugar. Next time you order a salad, skip the balsamic and drizzle olive oil and vinegar.

2. Dried fruit. You wouldn't pour M&M's or Skittles onto your salad, but that's pretty much what you do when you add raisins, dates, dried cranberries, and "candied" fruit. According to Ocean Spray's website, a quarter-cup of Craisins (dried cranberries) contains 29 grams, or nearly six teaspoons, of sugar. Why would you do that to a perfectly innocent salad?

3. Smoothies. Craftily positioned as a fast, healthy breakfast alternative, most commercial smoothies are nothing more than adult fruity milkshakes. A 16-ounce (their smallest size) Jamba Juice Banana Berry Smoothie carries a whopping 12 teaspoons of sugar. While it packs an impressive 16 grams of protein, a 16-ounce Starbucks Orange Mango Smoothie isn't much better with 37 grams of sugar.

4. Meat sauces. Restaurants love to drown perfectly healthy fish, chicken, and beef in syrupy sauces, sometimes to disguise inferior meats. Any dish described as glazed most likely contains sugar. Even if they're not sweet, those mysterious brown sauces in Chinese and Thai dishes pack cornstarch (which converts to sugar) and other dubious ingredients. Be very specific that you want meat grilled, baked, or broiled. Otherwise, you might have your dinner with dessert when your entrée arrives.

5. Protein bars. If "Caramel Nut Blast" sounds like a candy bar, you're not far off. I counted at least four types of sugar in this "healthy" Balance protein bar. Adding a little fiber and some nutrients doesn't suddenly make a protein bar healthy; it simply transforms a candy bar into an overpriced nutrient-enriched candy bar.

6. Almond butter. People like their nut butters sweet, which explains why most peanut butters come loaded with sugar. Almond butters can also contain added sugar, and here's a great example how a perfectly healthy food can become botched when you don't read labels. MaraNatha no-stir almond butter contains organic evaporated cane sugar as its second ingredient, whereas their organic raw almond butter contains 100 percent raw organic almonds and nothing else.

7. Yogurt. You're not alone if you become overwhelmed with the vast yogurt array at your grocery dairy aisle. Some of them, especially fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, could have as much sugar as a candy bar. One tiny container of Fage Total 0 percent Honey packs 29 grams of sugar. Yeah, it's honey, but your body breaks it down just like table sugar. If you're not dairy-intolerant, stick with full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt and read those labels: It should contain no added sugar.

8. Bottled teas. Green tea deservedly earns a health halo, but loading it down with sugar like some manufacturers do quickly demotes that aura. A 16.9 ounce bottle of Honest brand Honey Green Tea contains organic cane sugar as its second ingredient. Switch instead to unsweetened green-tea varieties and add your own healthy sweetener. Better yet, brew your own.

9. Wheat bread. Long positioned as a healthier alternative, most commercial wheat breads come stripped of fiber and loaded with the same added sugar, preservatives, and other junk as white bread. "Two slices of whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar," writes Dr. Mark Hyman. "There is no difference between whole wheat and white flour here. The biggest scam perpetrated on the unsuspecting public is the inclusion of 'whole grains' in many processed foods full of sugar and wheat, giving the food a virtuous glow." Instead of wheat bread and wraps, opt for gluten-free rice wraps or coconut wraps.

10. Green juices. You wouldn't sit down and eat four pieces of fruit, but a juice can easily pack that much sugar without fiber to buffer it out. Because they're lower in sugar, vegetable juices at least sound better, yet bottled juices sometimes become misleading. Naked Green Machine, which sounds like a vegetable juice, promises "no sugar added." Yet despite its name, this drink is mostly fruit, and an entire 15.2 ounce bottle contains almost 12 teaspoons of sugar.

If you're like me, you're shocked about sneaky sugars in these and other seemingly healthy foods. What one food or drink did you once consider healthy but now know otherwise? Share your thoughts below.

© 2014 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food intolerances and crush their sugar cravings. She is author of New York Times Bestsellers The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast and coming November 4, 2014: The Sugar Impact Diet: Drop 7 Hidden Sugars, Lose up to 10 Pounds, Just 2 Weeks. JJ is also a frequent blogger at Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and other outlets as well as a popular guest on TV, radio, and in magazines. Learn more at www.jjvirgin.com.


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10:15 Measuring Up: How To Assess The Upcoming U.N. Climate Summit» ThinkProgress

A day after the biggest climate march in history, hundreds of political and business leaders will gather for a major U.N. climate summit. Here's what to watch.

The post Measuring Up: How To Assess The Upcoming U.N. Climate Summit appeared first on ThinkProgress.

10:10 New Rove ad on Cory Gardner's contraception problem: Women aren't 'single-issue voters'» Daily Kos

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is out with a new ad defending GOP Rep. Cory Gardner from criticism of his constant flailing on choice, personhood, and contraception, but instead of directly defending Gardner, the ad dismisses women who care about his views as "single-issue voters" and instead attacks Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) for supporting President Obama. Here's the transcript:
WOMAN 1: I want a real conversation about the issues important that matter.

WOMAN 2: Unfortunately, after 15 years in Washington, political scare tactics are all Mark Udall has left.

WOMAN 3: We aren't single-issue voters. We care about good jobs that support our families.

WOMAN 4: And making ends meet.

WOMAN 2: Shouldn't Mark Udall talk about the issues?

WOMAN 3: Udall voted against Keystone.

WOMAN 4: Udall votes with Obama 99 percent of the time.

VOICEOVER: Let's vote no on Mark Udall.

Whoever wrote the script clearly intended to attack Udall, but saying that women who care about whether a candidate has a 19th century view of reproductive freedom are "single-issue voters" makes the ad an attack on them. Moreover, by not addressing the concerns of these alleged "single-issue voters," the ad implicitly acknowledges that there isn't a credible way to defend Gardner's perpetually shifting position on personhood, contraception, and choice.

And, as Greg Sargent points out, the ad is a tacit acknowledgement that social issues aren't what they used to be for the GOP. Their culture wars no longer offer them a path to victory. Instead, as Laura Clawson notes, social issues have become a liability for Republicans—a problem to be managed, not a wedge to be exploited.

10:08 Scientists Find ‘Direct Link’ Between Earthquakes And Process Used For Oil And Gas Drilling» ThinkProgress

The USGS research is just the latest in a string of studies that have suggested injected wastewater from drilling is migrating along dormant fault lines, changing their state of stress, and causing them to fail.

The post Scientists Find ‘Direct Link’ Between Earthquakes And Process Used For Oil And Gas Drilling appeared first on ThinkProgress.

09:59 Joint Chiefs chairman says ground troops may be required to fight ISIS» Daily Kos
Gen. Martin Dempsey speaking to Senate Armed Services Committee, Sept. 16, 2014
Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey says no ground troops
to fight Iraq except maybe on a "case-by-case" basis.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Martin Dempsey said that while President Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to fight the fanatics of ISIS in Iraq, the president has also said “to come back to him on a case-by-case basis." Spencer Ackerman reports:
Dempsey, who has long been reluctant to re-introduce US forces into Middle Eastern wars, signaled that some of the 1,600 US military “advisers” Obama deployed to Iraq since June may directly fight Isis, despite Obama’s frequent public assurances that US ground troops will not engage in combat.

“If we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [Isis] targets, I will recommend that to the president,” Dempsey said, preferring the term “close combat advising.”

Dempsey said the air war in Iraq and Syria “won’t look like a shock and awe campaign,” but will instead be “persistent and sustainable.” He envisaged no end for it, but said Isis’ ultimate defeat will be a “generational” effort during which “moderate” Muslims abandon its ideology—raising questions about what the US military’s actual endpoint will be in pursuing the goal of “degrading and ultimately defeating” Isis, Obama’s stated goal.

Any Americans not fully persuaded by the president's assertion that no U.S. ground troops will be sent back into Iraq as part of the administration's campaign to degrade and defeat ISIS now have another reason to worry about "mission creep." Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said:
Kerry reiterated that Obama has said no U.S. combat troops would be deployed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, before adding, “Unless, obviously, something very, very dramatic changes.”

That formulation hasn’t been used previously by administration officials in discussing the growing U.S. confrontation with the Islamic State, and it’s sure to feed concerns that the United States may be making a greater commitment to a new conflict in the Middle East than it first intended.

So, no ground troops will be sent.



Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 12:57 AM PT: From The New York Times: The challenge will come, General Dempsey said, when Iraqi and Kurdish forces try to drive the militants out of densely populated urban areas like Mosul. In those cases, General Dempsey said, he might recommend deploying Special Operations troops to provide what he called “close combat advising,” essentially working alongside Iraqi commanders in the field and helping them direct their troops to targets.

While the Americans would not fire weapons themselves, military experts said there was little practical distinction between the role General Dempsey described at the hearing and actual combat.

“We’ve already got ground forces introduced, and they are performing combat missions,” Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army general who helped train the Iraqi security forces and is now a senior adviser to the National Security Network, said on Tuesday. “I applaud the general for his candor. That will help the president and the debate greatly.”

09:57 Rihanna objects to CBS punishing her for being a victim of domestic violence ... CBS doubles down» Daily Kos
Singer Rihanna arrives for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards (CFDA) at Lincoln Center in New York June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT FASHION) - RTR3RX5V
CBS just keeps compounding its ham-handedness coming out of the Ray Rice incident, and now, singer Rihanna is deservedly pissed. Last week, as the NFL reeled in response to video of Rice knocking his now-wife unconscious and Rice was dropped by the Baltimore Ravens, CBS pulled a song featuring Rihanna from its Thursday night broadcast of a Ravens game. This week, CBS thought maybe it would just slide that song back into its lineup. Rihanna did not appreciate that thought:
CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, Fuck you! Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this.
Now, CBS is saying it will drop the song permanently.

To be sure, it would have been awkward playing a song sung by a famous domestic violence victim at a game played by the (suddenly former) team of a famous abuser. But the fact that CBS discovered that only with the release of the second Rice video, rather than months earlier when video came out of him dragging his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator, highlights the degree to which this is nothing but a public relations game for the network. For all of CBS's claims last week that it was making decisions "journalistically and from a tone standpoint," it was pretty clear that the network didn't want to remind viewers to think about domestic violence. If the Rice video hadn't come out, CBS would have been happy to have Rihanna's star power in the belief that relatively few people would make the connection. Once it did, she was disposable, at least until the furor died down a little bit and the Ravens weren't the team on the field. Rihanna was right on target: "Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this."

09:54 PPP's new Kansas poll shows Pat Roberts trailing big-time in Kansas» Daily Kos
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R)
Pat Roberts (on right)
PPP's new poll of the Sunflower State, their first since Democrat Chad Taylor announced he was dropping his bid for Senate, confirms that Kansas—Kansas!—has cemented its position as the most exciting state of the 2014 election cycle. Taylor's status remains uncertain, though: The state Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday morning as to whether Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach should remove his name from the ballot (Kobach's refused to), and election law expert Rick Hasen thinks that Taylor's likely to prevail.

Fortunately, while we wait for the court to rule, PPP checked in on both possible scenarios—i.e., with Taylor on the ballot and with Taylor off—but in both cases, the news is equally dire for Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. In a three-way race, which is what we still have for the moment, independent businessman Greg Orman holds a 7-point lead:

Greg Orman (I): 41
Pat Roberts (R): 34
Chad Taylor (D): 6
Randall Batson (Lib): 4
Undecided: 15
Unlike SurveyUSA, which recently found Taylor at 10 percent despite informing respondents that he'd quit, PPP didn't prime the folks they interviewed. Instead, they asked Taylor supporters after the horserace question above whether they knew he'd dropped out, and 36 percent said they were, in fact, not aware.

That's good news for Orman, because this group of inattentive voters is heavily Democratic (42 percent, versus just 12 percent Republican). That means they're more likely to come over to his side once they learn Taylor's not running, even if his name does formally remain on the ballot. (Of course, it'll be a struggle to get folks who haven't paid attention to the single biggest political story in Kansas in the past month out to the polls, but that's a separate problem.)

And in the event that the Supreme Court does side with Taylor, PPP's numbers show that such a development would indeed redound to Orman's advantage. In a direct head-to-head matchup without Taylor or Batson, the Libertarian, Orman holds a huge 46-36 lead on Roberts, whose job approval rating remains mired at a miserable 29-46, unchanged from his 27-44 score in August. Orman, meanwhile, has seen his standing surge with voters, despite Republican attacks that he's a stealth Democrat who's Harry Reid's willing puppet: His favorability rating has jumped to 39-19, up from 24-12 a month ago.

That won't last, because the GOP has yet to train its biggest guns on Orman, and they most certainly will. But Roberts, despite a peppy debate performance 10 days ago, still hasn't managed to stanch the bleeding. It's hard to get over what's happening in Kansas, which last sent a Democrat to the Senate in 1932, but yeah, it's happening.

09:54 Schools Acquire Grenade Launchers, MRAPs and Other Military Equipment -- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Better safe than sorry is given as reason for police excess.

Saying they never know when a hostage-taker or shooter could strike, more than 20 school districts across the county have been acquiring surplus military equipment from the Pentagon, including armored personnel carriers, high-powered rifles and other weaponry, according to a handful of press accounts.

The school districts and campus security forces range in size from small Saddleback College in southern California, whose nine-member squad received a MRAP—mine resistant ambush protected—vehicle, their college newspaper reported, to Los Angeles Unified School District, which received 61 M16 assault rifles, three grenade launchers and one MRAP, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. San Diego’s school district also requested and received an MRAP. In Edinburg, Texas, the district has its own SWAT team, according to The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Texas Appleseed, a legal advocacy group, which tried to conduct a national survey and counted more than 20 districts in eight states taking the free weaponry.  

“It is frankly difficult to imagine how a grenade launcher, or any of these items, could be safely used in any scenario involving schools,” the civil rights groups wrote in a letter to the federal program’s administrators, noting that there’s a big difference between prudent policing and paramilitary excesses. “Taxpayer dollars should be steered away from investments in increased law enforcement and militarization of schools and towards supporting solutions that address the root causes of school safety concerns and provide students with the services and supports they need to succeed.”

“Undoubtedly, Saddleback’s new MRAP will strike fear into the hearts of the countless drug dealers and terrorists that make up the student body at Saddleback,” the Daily Titan, the student paper editorialized. “The campus police officers will also be safer than ever from any stray frisbees or overzealous Greenpeace volunteers. Despite the obvious benefits of having a 38,000-pound war machine on a community college campus, the effectiveness and need for such a vehicle is certainly questionable.”

The schools receive the surplus military weaponry under several federal programs. The Pentagon gives it away under the so-called 1033 program, which has transferred $5 billion worth of gear to more than half of the nation’s 17,000 local police departments, program administrators testified last week in the Senate. The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice also grant programs that pay for more supplies—which accounts for the same militarized appearance of local police in protest marches and drug raids. 

School district police defended their military weaponry, saying they could be used to rescue students in violent circumstances.

Steve Zipperman, chief of L.A. Unified’s police department, told the Los Angeles Times that school police never use the weaponry against students, adding one reason that school police have military weapons is because they engage in mutual-aid pacts with other police agencies. In 1997, L.A. police found they were outgunned during a confrontation with shooters at one school, the paper said.

“When we have an emergency at a school, we’ve got to get in and save kids,” San Diego Unified School District Police Department Joe Florentino told a KPBS, that city’s public television station. “Our idea is: How can we get in and pull out a classroom at a time of kids if there’s an active shooter? If there’s a fire [or] if there’s an earthquake, can we rip down a wall? Stuff like that.”

According to San Diego’s KPBS, the MRAP, costing taxpayers $730,000, arrived last spring and students in an auto body repair class painted it in one assignment.

“There is a fine line between preparedness and excess,” the Saddleback College editorial concluded. “While major police departments are usually justified in their acquisition and use of most equipment, a nine-man community college police department owning a military vehicle definitely crosses the line of excess. Aside from lending its MRAP to neighboring police departments, there are almost no practical situations where Saddleback’s MRAP could be used effectively or tactically.”


Related Stories

09:52 Southern California Heat Wave Forces Schools To Cancel Outdoor Activities» ThinkProgress

Schools saw shorter days and cancelled athletic practices thanks to the heat wave gripping Southern California. Temperatures over the weekend reached into the mid 100s.

The post Southern California Heat Wave Forces Schools To Cancel Outdoor Activities appeared first on ThinkProgress.

09:42 Frivolous senator appeals to keep frivolous anti-Obamacare suit alive» Daily Kos
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Ron Johson (WI-tea party) sued the federal government because the federal government decided that congressional staff should have the benefit of health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act and that coverage should be subsidized to make it affordable. Johnson says that this is a terrible thing for him personally and so it should be ended. A federal judge decided that was nonsense and tossed the case. And because the tea party millionaire Johnson doesn't have a lot else to occupy his time, he's appealing that dismissal.

The case was tossed because Chief Judge William C. Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin determined that Johnson had no standing.

“The question of the legality of the regulation has not been determined yet; although Plaintiffs believe the regulation is unlawful, such a belief cannot be enough to create standing because that would open the door to any uninjured party who had a generalized grievance with a government regulation,” the judge wrote. “Under such an approach, there would be no principled limit on standing because a plaintiff need only allege a belief that the challenged regulation is illegal.”
Nuh uh, says Johnson, in his appeal. He was too hurt personally by the law.
Johnson's attorneys, however, argued the senator had suffered injury from the rule because the perceived "self-dealing" that led to the favorable subsidies might harm "his personal reputation and electoral prospect." […]

The appeal also argued Johnson suffered injury from the "time-consuming and substantial" administrative burden of the provision.

Oh, where to start? How about with Johnson's approval rating, that should be fun. Last October, a Marquette University Law School pegged it at 28 percent. A more recent PPP poll from April is a little more generous, showing Johnson still underwater with a 34 percent approval and 36 percent disapproval. Just a guess, but it's probably not the fact that his staff has health insurance that's driving that.

As for the administrative burden of providing that health coverage, if Sen. Johnson is taking on personal responsibility for being the human resources representative for his staff, he's doing it wrong. Johnson might indeed be facing some problems with his personal reputation and electoral prospects. While he undoubtedly blames all that on Obamacare—because if you're a tea partier, everything bad that happens is because of Obamacare—convincing another judge that it's true might prove difficult.

09:33 O'Donnell: 'Who is' Krauthammer?» POLITICO - TOP Stories
"I've never heard of him," she says.
09:27 Kansas Supreme Court deciding whether Republicans can force Democrat to stay on Senate ballot» Daily Kos
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) addresses a news conference as he discusses his opposition to a vote on START Treaty on Capitol Hill in Washington December 15, 2010. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXVRL1
This morning the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys representing Democrat Chad Taylor and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about whether the Democratic challenger's name should be removed from the ballot this November. The take from the Election Law Blog:
Much of the discussion at oral argument concerned other letters of withdrawal which the SOS had received in recent years, including some earlier letters which were submitted (late) to the court. It seems to show a pattern of the SOS exercising discretion in deciding which letters complied. The Justices seemed to get Kobach’s lawyer to admit that substantial compliance may sometimes be enough. With that concession, there is a relatively easy path to finding the letter substantially complied.
So, it sounds as if things are looking good for Taylor's request to withdrawal. The court is expected to rule before Friday, with some indications they may rule as early as today. The ballots head to the printing press this Saturday, so they must rule quickly. Our own Kansas political expert tmserv0433 liveblogged the hearing and more community discussion can be found in his diary.

The ruling could be critical for the Senate race in Kansas. New polling from PPP shows Greg Orman (KS-I) now has a growing lead against Pat Roberts (VA-R), but there are still Kansas voters who intend to vote for Chad Taylor if he remains on the ballot:

Independent Greg Orman leads Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Ks.), 41 percent to 34 percent, according to a poll released to HuffPost by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Six percent said they'd still vote for Democrat Chad Taylor, who has announced he's leaving the race, but whose name may remain on the ballot pending a lawsuit being heard Tuesday. Another 4 percent opted for libertarian Randall Batson, with the remaining 15 percent undecided.
With 15 percent undecided, Greg Orman could use a boost from the 6 percent who say they intend to vote for Taylor if he stays on the ballot, provided they decide to cast their vote for anyone but Roberts.

11:10 AM PT: Now comes news that a Brownback staffer's father is behind the motion to keep Taylor on the ballot.

The Kansas Supreme Court will review Tuesday whether Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, should be allowed to come off the November ballot. David Orel, a 57-year-old from Kansas City, Kan., filed an amicus brief with the court on Monday.

The brief argues that allowing Taylor to withdraw from the ballot would rob Orel, a Democrat, from his right to vote for his party’s nominee.

Curiouser and curiouser.
09:15 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Troubled By Fox News, NY Post Ferguson Coverage» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor Gilbert Bailon criticized some conservative media outlets and national press for their coverage of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Bailon singled out Fox News for focusing on looting and "chaos" while ignoring the "deeper story" in Ferguson, and also cited The Washington Post and the New York Post for running thinly sourced negative stories about Brown. 

Bailon, editor of the largest local paper covering the aftermath of the August 9 police shooting that left Brown dead and sparked a national debate on police tactics, spoke to Media Matters at the American Society of News Editors conference in Chicago this week.

While the editor and former ASNE president praised much of the national press coverage, he cited Fox News for criticism.  

"I think the national media has done a good job of capturing the story," Bailon said. But he later said of Fox News: "I do think sometimes ... it looks like the whole community was in flames, and it was really a few block area. Significant, but it wasn't like St. Louis was on fire or out of control and there was mass chaos everywhere ... it wasn't like an all-consuming entire metropolitan area was hit by that, yet it commanded a huge presence of what was there."

He added, "I think Fox took a different angle, their view was more of the view of the chaos, was really focusing on the looting and less of what was going on in the community pre-dating the looting. The looting was very dramatic...but there was the deeper story there. Some stayed on in town longer, I think there was a different viewpoint on them and less on the undercurrent. [Fox] didn't look at it as deeply and as long as others, CNN did make an investment, MSNBC was there a lot."

He also cited a Washington Post report that Brown had marijuana in his system and another from the New York Post that the officer who shot Brown suffered a fractured eye socket as facts his paper has yet to report because they cannot be verified.

"There's been a couple of stories that I think the sourcing wasn't quite as good on," he said. "I don't know whether these are wrong but we haven't been able to verify it. There's been talk that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. Well that hasn't been officially reviewed, we don't know that yet. We haven't reported that. The New York Post picked up some information about [police officer Darren Wilson] having an orbital fracture of his face ... inflicted by Michael Brown. We have not found that to be true. In fact, it has been debunked by many."

09:03 Salt Is Not the Enemy. Guess What Actually Ruins Your Health Instead?» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Salt, we may have done you wrong.

Just the other day I purchased a bag of roasted peanuts, sensing my mouth water in ancipation of the salty goodness. Wrong! I had accidentally bought the unsalted version. Folks, there are few things less tasty than an unsalted peanut, unless it's unsalted grits (yep, I'm southern). The reason I was subjected to such a monstrosity is that for years, the medical profession has been telling us that salt is bad and will cause high blood pressure and other health woes if we don't watch our intake.

But is that really true? A new study in the American Journal of Cardiology was conducted by Saint Luke's cardiologist James O'Keefe of the Mid-America Heart Institute and James DiNicolantonio, also of the Mid-America Heart Institute. The researchers found that sugar, not salt, is the true enemy of heart health.

O'Keefe stated that "the number one demon in our diet that's making us sick and overweight and depressed and unhealthy is sugar, added sugar." The reason he gave is that sugar makes us hungry all the time and tends to boost our craving for more sweets. "If I could say one of the simple things people can radically do to improve their health is to don't eat anything with added sugar,” O'Keefe said.

So how did salt get fingered as the culprit?

Back in 2001, the National Institutes of Health published an oft-cited study called the DASH-sodium study, which found that participants who consumed less sodium than the control group ended up with lower blood pressure. That study put salt on the hit list for America's dietary guidelines. But it turns out that other studies have failed to produce the same result.

Some experts are now suggesting that cutting back on salt is actually bad for your health. They propose that your body needs sodium, and if it is deprived, the kidney secretes an enzyme called renin that can lead to hypertension. Some studies have found that low sodium levels may actually boost the chance of heart failure. In 2011, Scientific American went full-throttle with an article defending salt and suggesting that hypersensitivity to salt among some elderly individuals and African Americans has unduly cast a shadow on something that is no problem for most of us.

At the very least, it seems fair to say that the eat-less-salt argument is controversial, and that the link between salt and heart disease does not appear to be as strong as American public health officials may have believed. Unless we have some special sensitivity, we may not need to consign ourselves to the hell of unsalted peanuts. Thank goodness.


Related Stories

08:51 'Exosuit' Mission to 2,000-Year-Old Shipwreck Begins» LiveScience.com
A group of marine archaeologists kicked off a mission this week to explore an ancient shipwreck hundreds of feet below the Aegean Sea — not with a sub, but with a semi-robotic metal diving suit that looks likes a throwback to a James Bond movie.
08:50 Republicans suppress voters because they've lost America» Daily Kos
A poll worker hands a sticker to a voter at a polling place in Charlotte, North Carolina October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane
The GOP's biggest fear: voters.
Guy Cecil, head honcho at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (and rumored finalist for Hillary Clinton's campaign manager gig):
“Getting out the vote and protecting voter rights are critical to who controls the majority,” [Cecil] said, adding that the DSCC was especially concerned about North Carolina and Arkansas.

“There is a clear pattern in this country,” he added. “Where there are Democratic governors and Democratic legislatures, states are working very hard to think about how they can expand access to voting: vote by mail, online voting, early voting, Sunday voting.

“In places where there are Republican governors and legislatures there are moves to restrict access to the voting booth; require only a certain form of identification, limit the number of early vote locations, eliminate Sunday voting.”

If Republicans truly believed this was a center-right nation, and that they had the support of the populace, they'd be working hard to make sure everyone voted. They'd be fighting hard for universal voter registration, and work to open up polls for longer periods of time, or even transition entirely to vote-by-mail.

But they don't believe any of that. They know they are a minority, and a shrinking one, and the only way to retain any modicum of power is to keep as many people from voting. Democratic base groups help them out by failing to turn out in mid-term elections, and it's a propensity they are more than happy to encourage.

Republicans have lost the American people. Every vote they work to suppress confirms that.

08:29 Entangled 'Photon Triplets' Could Speed Up Telecommunication» LiveScience.com
A new particle detector has made it possible to generate three entangled photons that could be used in quantum telecommunication.
08:19 W.H. steps up lobbying on Syria» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The president wants the vote count to make a strong bipartisan statement.
08:16 Jindal: White House 'science deniers'» POLITICO - TOP Stories
He also calls for "responsible development of domestic energy resources."
08:12 House GOP to give VA inspector general's report the Benghazi treatment» Daily Kos
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller (R-FL) stands at a podium with a sign saying #VAaccountability, flanked by Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Marco Rubio
What Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) wants the VA inspector general to be accountable to is Miller's personal beliefs.
The inspector general's report on health care delays at Department of Veterans Affairs didn't say just what congressional Republicans wanted it to, so they're insisting the VA must have leaned on the IG to change the report's conclusions. Specifically, the report said that the IG was "unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths of these veterans," a statement that goes against a key Republican talking point. So:
The issue will come to a head on Wednesday when House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) convenes a hearing with VA Secretary Robert McDonald and Richard Griffin, the VA’s acting inspector general, to discuss the report. Ahead of the hearing, Miller said he believed the agency pushed the IG to water down its findings.

“I was caught by surprise that a statement like that would be inserted between the draft and the final [report],” he said in an interview. “It’s a very curious thing to have occurred. I have every reason to believe that somebody within VA pressured [the IG].”

"Every reason to believe." That's a little different than evidence that it happened. Also, there's at least one thing we know Miller's list of reasons to believe doesn't include:
“No one in VA dictated that sentence going to that report. Period,” Griffin told the panel.
So basically, we're about to watch a House committee go to town on its Republican chair's belief that political pressure is the only reason for a report to not say what he wanted it to say. Not that this comes as any surprise after the months and millions of dollars Republicans have put into looking for anything at all to back up their Benghazi talking points.
08:06 Fox evening lineup averages 13 Benghazi segments per week» Daily Kos
U.S. Republican Senators John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham talk during the Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House in Washington February 23, 2009.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   (UNITED STATES)
John "Fair" McCain and Lindsey "Balanced" Graham are two of their favorite guests
Call it #Benghazi-palooza:
Fox News, which has led the cover-up charge in conservative media, aired 1,098 evening television segments on Benghazi between the night of the attacks and the formation of the select committee in early May of this year, according to a new study from liberal watchdog Media Matters. [...] For the Media Matters study, researchers examined five Fox News evening and primetime programs -- “The Five,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity” -- and found that they averaged 13 Benghazi segments per week.
And you'll never guess who their favorite guests are—well, unless you saw the picture of John McCain and Lindsey Graham at the top of this post. Graham comes in at number one, with 27 appearances, roughly once a month since the attacks. McCain is third on the list with 15 appearances, more than both Trey Gowdy, who is currently the House GOP's top Benghazi investigator, and Darell Issa, who used to be.

But far more revealing than the names of who they interview is the party affiliation, because of the 149 Congressional and administration guests that Fox has had on its evening and primetime lineup to discuss Benghazi, just 5 were Democrats. In percentage terms, that's just a hair over three percent—and nearly 97 percent were Republican. That's nearly a 30:1 ratio—or, as Fox would put it, it's Fair & Balanced, since they had both Democrats and Republicans.

07:56 Government surveys reiterate the obvious: fewer Americans without health insurance» Daily Kos
Lisa Smith (R) helps uninsured Danielle Winters (L) and her 7-month-old grandson Tyler, who is on medicare, sign up for the Affordable Care Act, or
Two new federal surveys released Tuesday could provide ammunition to Obamacare haters, showing less than robust enrollment numbers in the program. These surveys, by the Census Bureau and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) created by the Centers for Disease Control, show modest decreases in the number of uninsured, but while the data presented in them is extremely accurate, it's outdated. The Census numbers presented are from 2013, and the NHIS numbers reflect just January-March of 2014, not encompassing the late surge of enrollments at the end of March, extended into April.

The Census numbers will be helpful in setting a baseline for comparison to this year, while the NHIS essentially reiterates data that was already released by private surveys, like Gallup's. Here's what it found in the first few months of 2014.

The number of uninsured Americans fell by about 8 percent to 41 million people in the first quarter of this year, compared with 2013, a drop that represented about 3.8 million people and that roughly matched what experts were expecting based on polling by private groups, like Gallup. The survey also measured physical health but found little evidence of change. […]

There was a sharper drop in the share of uninsured in states that expanded Medicaid than in those that did not, reflecting the broad uptake of the government insurance program since the law took effect. The share of uninsured among 18- to 64-year-olds fell by nearly three percentage points to 15.7 percent in the first quarter in states that expanded Medicaid, compared with a drop of about one percentage point to 21.5 percent in states that did not, a decline that was not statistically significant. […]

[T]he survey measured a number of other basic health indicators, but only one of them registered any real change: About 2.9 percent of respondents said they had experienced a “serious psychological stress during the past 30 days,” down from 3.7 percent in 2013.

That last finding mirrors an Oregon Medicaid survey, which registered real benefits to newly enrolled Medicaid patients in mental health, while not finding real improvements in physical health. Having coverage helps bring peace of mind and more financial security. The survey did find a significant decline in the number of uninsured 19-26 year olds, down from 27 percent in 2013 to 21 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

This is all consistent with surveys done in the first quarter of the year, and basically reaffirms what the first three months of Obamacare looked like. But the most information NHIS reports won't be released until December. That's the one that will give the full picture of Obamacare's first full year.

07:41 Even Some At Fox News Are Skeptical Of Attkisson's Latest Benghazi Conspiracy Theory» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly questioned whether the latest report from discredited investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, which baselessly suggested a Benghazi cover-up by State Department officials, actually constituted a "scandal."

On the September 16 edition of his Fox News show, host Bill O'Reilly invited Attkisson to discuss her "troubling accusations against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton" from "a disgruntled former State Department official." After Attkisson confirmed that her source had not witnessed such actions himself, O'Reilly dismissed the conspiracy explaining that "If no documents were removed, scrubbed, if they weren't taken out or destroyed, then I don't know if there is any scandal":

Later during the segment, Fox correspondent James Rosen reported that Attkisson's source had previously failed to disclose this accusation of a cover-up and that his account "bears a lot of further investigation before it can be deemed credible": 

ROSEN: One point about this matter, Democrats on the House Oversight committee, which has previously investigated Benghazi, have noted that Mr. Maxwell was formally interviewed by that panel last year with a transcript prepared and despite many opportunities to do so, Mr. Maxwell never disclosed this shocking scene of obstruction of justice by high level state department officials that he now claims to have witnessed. That omission on his part at that time, along with other issues, will ensure that if and when Mr. Maxwell testifies before the House Benghazi committee, he will face some rough sledding in cross examination.

O'REILLY: Yeah. Why didn't you say it when you had the first opportunity? Yeah, I got it. 

ROSEN: Yes now, all of this is not to say that what Mr. Maxwell claims to have witnessed never happen, just that it bears a lot of further investigation before it can be deemed credible.

07:05 Dempsey: Ground troops possible» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The top U.S. military officer says he may recommend U.S. boots on the ground to fight ISIL.
07:04 10 Infuriating Graphs About Life in America If You're Not Rich» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
These create a paint-by-numbers picture of the lifelong losing game faced by working Americans.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. If that’s true, the following ten images could provide the lyrics for a thousand blues songs. The graphs are taken from series of recent reports which, when considered together, create a paint-by-numbers picture of the lifelong losing game faced by working Americans.

The chorus to our blues song goes like this: The middle the class and working poor are increasingly trapped in a cycle of economic decline, a downward slope which stretches from their golden youth to their sunset years. And there’s no way out, unless we find one for ourselves.

Born Indebted

It begins with the ever-growing mountain of debt which students must acquire in this society in order to receive a college education. Since 2007, the last year before the financial crisis which Wall Street created, total student debt has more than doubled:


Total student debt in this country now exceeds the total credit card debt held by all Americans. The amount of debt held by each individual borrower has also soared, rising by more than 50 percent:


The average amount now owed per student is now more than $27,000. And because job prospects are poorer for young people than they’ve been in recent memory, many are having difficulty paying back these loans:


Source for above: U.S. Department of Education via Shahien Nasipour, Huffington Post

Falling Behind

Having been burdened with debt even before their working lives begin, young people then enter a workforce in which real income is falling for all but the wealthiest among us. This change is especially striking when it is expressed as hourly income:


It should be noted that this accelerating difference in income between the wealthy and the rest of us has taken place since the financial crisis, and since both a Republican and Democratic administration went to such great lengths to rescue the banking industry. It should also be noted that this gulf of inequality has been widening for some time:


Even modest proposals to ease inequality, such as an increase in the minimum wage and a low-impact job creation program, have been rejected by intransigent Republicans in Washington’s fractious climate.

The Treadmill

The net result of this wealth transfer from working people to the already-rich has been, for most Americans, an increasing inability to maintain their standard of living. As a result, more and more Americans at the lower end of the income spectrum have been forced to borrow an ever-increasing rates.

We’re seeing a shift of indebtedness down the income chain, as the working poor and the lower-middle-class slip into a cycle of debt. Lower-income families are now more deeply in debt, in fact, than any other income level:


Lawsuits from payday lenders and other fiscal predators are given undue deference in the court system. That, as ProPublica reports, can leave low-income working Americans saddled with a lifetime of debt for a single ill-advised loan.

As a result of these and other factors, the poorest families in this country have never been more deeply in debt than they are today:


Source: Federal Reserve, via Bloomberg View

Debtor Nation

Inequality soars. Congress enacts a draconian bankruptcy bill. (Student loans are subject to their own, especially harsh provisions.) Bankers defraud homeowners. People can’t make ends meet. They take on more debt than they can handle. For these and other reasons, the garnishment of American workers’ wages is quite high:


Source: ADP, via ProPublica

While a large chunk of these garnishments involves child support (a deplorable situation which can, however, be made worse by other forms of debt), the majority of wages garnished have been seized to cover other forms of debt. Four percent of people in their prime working years, for example, are seeing their wages garnished for consumer debt.

Senior Slump

For many Americans, the so-called sunset years offer no relief from the cycle of indebtedness. In what can only be just described as a grimly ironic form of closure, we now know that a number of senior citizens are even forced to struggle with a burden once thought to be the province of the young: student debt.

The total student debt held by Americans over sixty-five has risen from less than four billion dollars in 2005 to more than $18 billion today.


Source: GAO

This debt has led to a shredding of the social safety net for seniors, survivors and the disabled on Social Security. The General Accounting Office reports that student debt is carried by roughly 3 percent of households headed by people 65, and that approximately three-quarters of that debt belongs to the seniors themselves (rather than indebtedness on behalf of younger family members). Senior student debt is much more likely to be in default.

The Department of Education has been withholding Social Security benefits for seniors, as well as survivors and disabled Americans, using what is known as an “administrative offset” to pay off student loans. The GAO reports that the number of individuals whose Social Security benefits were “offset” in this manner “increased about five-fold, from about 31,000 to 155,000,” and that “among those 65 and older, the number of individuals whose benefits were offset grew from about 6,000 to about 36,000 over the same period, roughly a 500 percent increase.”

Disturbingly, the GAO reports that “the value of the amount protected and retained by the borrower has fallen below the poverty threshold.” As a result, the GAO concludes that these clawbacks for defaulting student loan borrowers are leaving an increasing number of seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries impoverished.

The Way We Were

These indebted seniors can remember a time when the middle class was healthy and vibrant in this country – a time when, not coincidentally, far more American workers belong to unions than they do today:


The decline in union strength has left working people less able to negotiate with the increasingly profitable corporate class, and has therefore rendered them less capable of guiding their own destiny.

The result? Millions of Americans have been robbed of their freedom and autonomy by an economic system which, whether by accident or design, robs them of the belief that they can act independently to seize their own futures. That system is an elegant machine, one in which indebtedness preserves the illusion of social mobility for young people and of an affordable lifestyle for many working adults. Those illusions relieve the social pressure for change – and generate massive profits at the same time.

This systematic process ultimately leaves millions of people enchained by debt, fearful of losing their jobs, challenging their banks’ usurious terms, or surrendering the American Dream which seems to forever remain just out of their reach. They become afraid to take to the streets and demand change because the consequences might bring an end to that hope which remains their most valued possession.

THis cycle needs to end. These images tell us that it leads to a form of fiscal servitude which dogs us, in the words of the old song, from the cradle to the grave.

Beyond the Blues

We said at the start that these pictures could provide the lyrics to a thousand blues songs. But, as Cornel West has said, “a bluesman is a prisoner of hope.” That hope rests in the possibilities of awakening which surround us. One of those possibilities is embedded in that final image, which captures the relationship between an organized workforce and economic equity.

That image reminds us: If we re-organize American workers and engage in other forms of citizen mobilization we can reverse this downward cycle. That’s a long road to travel, and nobody wants to walk it alone. That’s where solidarity comes in, teaching us that what we cannot do as individuals we must achieve by working together.

07:00 Just in time for the election, Republicans vote against fair pay for women ... again» Daily Kos
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) is annoyed at being forced to vote on fair pay.
Republicans blocked a key equal pay measure Monday night, and are whining that Democrats made them vote on it at all. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963, was defeated in one of those classic Senate votes in which the bill had 52 votes—a majority—but was blocked by 40 Republicans. That's no surprise:
Counting procedural votes, it’s the fourth time Republicans have voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act since 2012.
This is a bill with strong public support in addition to its majority support in the Senate. But Republicans have a clear view of who's causing problems here:
“It’s politics,” said Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, one of four women Republicans in the Senate. “It’s a one-sided vote for political reasons, so [Democrats] can use it in campaigns.”
Here's a thought! It wouldn't be a one-sided vote if even one Republican would vote in favor of a bill that puts a higher standard on employers' efforts to show they're not discriminating, strengthens penalties for breaking the law, and makes it easier for women to find out if they're being discriminated against. But Republicans object, basically, that if women can find out they're being discriminated against illegally, they might sue, and that would be bad. Heaven forbid people breaking the law face penalties—if they're employers, anyway.

Republicans even added another layer of noxious political gamesmanship to the process of blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act for the fourth time:

Politico reported that Senate Republicans allowed the Paycheck Fairness Act to proceed as an apparent way to choose the lesser political evil: “To eat up Senate floor time and disrupt planned votes on raising the minimum wage and responding to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby contraception decision.”
That's right, some Republicans voted yes on a procedural vote about a popular issue that works against them in order to waste time and hopefully avoid votes on other popular issues that work against them. Because, hey, they can always use their minority to block it on the second vote, thank you very much, broken Senate rules! It's disgusting, and every voter should know that not only are Republicans standing in the way of women being paid what they deserve, they're also manipulating votes on that to better stand in the way of raising the minimum wage and supporting contraception access.
07:00 Poll: Orman leads Roberts in Kansas» POLITICO - TOP Stories
In a head-to-head matchup, Orman's lead grows to 10 percentage points.
06:59 To Fox News, Having Necessities Like Air Conditioning Means You Aren't Really Poor» Media Matters for America - Latest Items


On-air graphics displayed during Fox News hyped the number of poor Americans that have access to basic necessities like internet access and air conditioning in order to downplay the seriousness of poverty and attack efforts to address it through government programs.

A September 16 segment on Fox's The Five criticized the war on poverty claiming that 50 years later, more Americans are in poverty today than when President Lyndon B. Johnson first began implementing social programs to lift Americans out of poverty. During the segment, the show displayed chyrons that said "The Typical Family That The Census Identifies As 'Poor' Has AC, Cable TV, And A Computer," while another reported that "40% Of Poor Have A Wide-Screen HDTV And Internet Access." From the show:

Fox News' chyrons parrot a report by the Heritage Foundation claiming "that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed 'poor' by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty" because many of the poor have "consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago."

The amenities Fox News bemoans are necessary for survival. In 2011 access to internet was deemed a "human right" by the United Nations. And the Center for American Progress further explained that the services and appliances the Heritage Foundation cites are "everyday necessities" and that using them to measure poverty is "misleading":

These arguments are mean and misleading on several accounts. First, the electronic devices that Heritage cites are everyday necessities today. Who has iceboxes anymore? Who doesn't need a cell phone to find a job or keep one? Fortunately, these appliances are all significantly cheaper these days, but not so the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs, both of which have risen much faster than inflation, squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike. In fact, if anything, those who we consider poor today are far more out of the social mainstream in terms of their basic income than when our poverty measure was first set in the 1960s.


To avoid a real discussion of these issues, the Heritage Foundation craftily creates indexes that rank households on skewed measures of "amenities" that suggest that no further federal action is needed to buoy the standard of living of poor and working-class families. Such indexes are heartless and foolish. Heartless because they ignore the fact that it takes much more than a few appliances to support a family. And foolish because they lend credence to the calls for cutting the supports that research has shown are necessary for every child to become a healthy and productive adult.

In fact, poverty is a serious problem for those Americans without access to medical care, education, stable housing, access to legal services and healthy food.

Experts find that government programs actually help to alleviate "vast amounts of poverty" in the US. Forbes found that "When we measure all those goods and things the child poverty rate is 1 or 2%." The Washington Post reported that "when you take government intervention into account, poverty is down considerably from 1967 to 2012, from 26 percent to 16 percent."

06:54 The Daily Show: A Nightmare on Graham Street» Daily Kos
Jon Stewart discussing Lindsey Graham
My, oh, my, Lindsey Graham has himself worked up into a tizzy! In a hilarious segment called "Nightmare on Graham Street," Jon Stewart took apart Senator Graham's dire warnings over recent years, even catching him in a terrifying closed-door conversation with ... himself?

Watch the MUST-SEE VIDEO below the fold.

06:51 Could Ebola Become Airborne?» LiveScience.com
The Ebola virus is currently causing a devastating and unprecedented outbreak in West Africa, but could the virus create a doomsday scenario by becoming airborne?
06:50 Cartoon: The guide to e-holes» Daily Kos

(Click to enlarge)

Follow Jen on Twitter and Facebook.

06:46 At Fox News, the right hand doesn't know what the other right hand is doing» Daily Kos

We already knew that when it comes to Fox, President Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Now we know he's damned even if he does AND doesn't:

Fox news screenshot simultaneously says Obama admin has not used military against ISIS and that it has launched 160 strikes against ISS
Gives new meaning to "We report, you decide," does it not?

(For the record—for better or for worse—the editor who did the graphics on the right was correct.)

06:18 Holder wants Fast and Furious delay» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The attorney general again asks the court to delay the transfer of disputed documents.
05:52 Transgender Stereotypes Could Explain Discrimination» LiveScience.com
Transgender people are mistakenly conflated with gays and lesbians, despite gender identity and sexual orientation being different factors. People also view transgender people with pity and have trouble accepting their sex identity.
05:47 Stephen Colbert explains Scottish independence (with bagpipes)» Daily Kos
Last night, Stephen endorsed Scottish independence the only way he knows how—with bagpipes. Full video after the jump.
05:30 Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9am ET!» Daily Kos
friendly seal 9/15/14
I had no particular reason to do that. The picture was just there.

And I didn't report the stories we'll be talking about today, either. They were just there.

And if you turn on our "radio" live stream at 9:00 ET, I'll just be there.

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How are we doing on that? Well, it's been a little underwhelming, to be honest. Hundreds of thousands of you come through here every day, but I only tricked succeeded in convincing 762 of you to do this last month. So if you're seeing this and you didn't participate last month because you figured there were thousands upon thousands of your fellow Kossacks filling the quota, we could use your help on that.

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05:30 Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: All eyes (at once, apparently) focus on Shaheen v. Brown» Daily Kos
Jeanne Shaheen
Apparently, last week everyone in New Hampshire was polled about Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).

The caption to the photo above of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of course, is meant to be snarky. But it isn't terribly far displaced from reality.

Apparently, as we learned on Monday, no less than four pollsters were in the field in smallish New Hampshire ... at the same time. Now, in fairness, multiple polls in the field at once is not terribly unusual. Around Halloween, or so. But in mid-September? That is incredibly odd, but it underscores the media adoration of the GOP challenger, and also the tenuous nature of the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. And that might explain why everyone is suddenly taking the temperature of the New Hampshire Senate race.

To peruse all of the data since the last edition of the Wrap (spanning dates from Sep 12-15), as well as a look at what the small boomlet of polls in the Granite State tells us, head below the fold and check out the 41 different polls that made the cut.

05:20 Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday» Daily Kos
C&J Banner


Little Gay Billy's BIG Gay Newsapalooza

This and that from LGBT Land…

• Frankly, I'll be amazed if the Supreme Court can push open the front door when they get back to work, what with all the petitions and briefs and requests and god knows what else that have been shoved through their mail slot over the last several weeks demanding a ruling on same-sex marriage.  Says SCOTUSblog:

Freedom to marry graphic: Today, September 10, 7 different petitions seeking certiorari in marriage cases from 5 states were distributed for the September 29 conference at the United States Supreme Court.
Together, the petitions raise two constitutional questions:  do states have power to refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry, and do states have power to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states? In all of the federal appeals courts’ decisions being challenged in these cases, state marriage bans of one or both of those kinds were struck down under the federal Constitution, either under equal protection or due process guarantees, or both.
They'll wade through the stack on September 29th. As usual, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito will say no to everything up front and then go raid John Roberts' office mini bar.

• The Smithsonian Institution announced its expanding its collection of LGBT-related artifacts, and, of course, the snake oil salesmen who practice "ex-gay therapy" are demanding that they get representation, too.  The Smithsonian will happily include them because, as Joe Jervis says at his Joe My God blog, "Just like any African-American history exhibit includes materials about the KKK, the story of our people should include examples from the campaigns of the oppressors of LGBT Americans. In this one rare instance, I agree with PFOX." Me too!


Hello gay people!  We at the Uganda Tourism Board love you!  Come vacation here and you will have the time of your life because gay tourists are A-Okeedokee with us!

Disclaimer: Offer applies only to non-Ugandan gays who are accompanied by lots and lots of money. Do not get caught acting gay or we may have to arrest and torture you, or you may just get murdered randomly in the street anyway. But there's at least a 10 percent chance you'll have a grand time. The Uganda Tourism Board is not a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association because...um...our dog ate the application.

• Via rserven, a new study reveals that an estimated 24,000 transgender American voters will be disenfranchised because of unnecessary voter ID laws. "Especially affected would be transgender people of color, transfolk with low incomes, young transpeople and people with disabilities." Every time I read something like this, my appreciation for countries where the goal is to make voting as easy and inclusive as possible goes up by another few notches. Our country sucks at it, thanks exclusively to Republicans.

In this Sept. 6, 2014 photo, Rev. Linda Hunsaker presides over the wedding of Vivian Boyack, left, and Alice
• Finally, the kind of story that drives the fundy wingers crazy, because how do you criticize something this beautiful? Congratulations are pouring in for Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice Dubes, 90, who rushed headlong into marriage in Iowa after the briefest of 72-year courtships. They met in 1942. If you want to get 'em a gift, I'm told they've got a registry down at the Harley dealership. I'm thinking we should all chip in on a sidecar?

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

05:06 Economics Daily Digest: It's time to rethink the purpose of corporations» Daily Kos
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

The Overpaid CEO (Democracy)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Holmberg and Mark Schmitt argue that exorbitant executive pay cannot be addressed without reconceptualizing a corporation as more than just an agent of its shareholders.

Independence Has Costs and Benefits (The Scotsman)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that Scotland should base its decision about independence on values rather than short-run economic gains or losses.

The Myth That Sold the Financial Bailout (AJAM)

Letting the investment banks collapse wouldn't have caused a second Great Depression, says Dean Baker. Between the FDIC and stimulus deals, the economy would still have recovered.

Why Pensions Went Away: A Theory (WSJ)

Lauren Weber looks at a new study on pensions, which suggests that the increase in influential investors who buy large blocks of stocks is tied to dropped pension plans.

Income Inequality is Hurting State Tax Revenue, Report Says (WaPo)

A new study from Standard & Poors shows the impact of inequality on state budgets, writes Josh Boak. S&P says that changing state tax codes won't be enough to solve this problem.

What the Poverty Rate Tells Us About the Overall Economy (NYT)

Jared Bernstein expects that the 2013 data will show that the poverty rate has continued to hold steady around 15 percent, because the recovery hasn't reached low-income households.

Scott Walker Wants To Fight Feds Over Welfare Drug Tests (HuffPo)

Federal law does not allow drug testing for food stamps or unemployment insurance, but Arthur Delaney reports that the Wisconsin governor wants to push back on that rule.

Unseen Toll: Wages of Millions Seized to Pay Past Debts (ProPublica)

Paul Kiel looks at the rise of wage garnishment for consumer debts, a system that has few protections for debtors and causes great financial hardship, since up to 25 percent of a paycheck can be taken.

05:00 Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: America's worst pollster emerges from its spider-hole» Daily Kos
Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia
Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia
Leading Off:

FL-26: At long last, McLaughlin & Associates has come out of hiding after their epic Eric Cantor debacle sent them scurrying for the deepest, dankest spider-hole in North America. Amazingly, Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo was neither too sensible to avoid hiring them nor too embarrassed to eschew releasing their results, which have him leading Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia 44-40. That's a big change from Garcia's 46-39 lead in an unreleased May poll, but hey, this is McLaughlin we're talking about.

Unfortunately, even though we're dealing with the worst pollster in the country, it's all too possible to believe that Garcia's in trouble thanks to his ethical troubles. On top of that, Democratic turnout may suffer a particularly steep midterm dropoff in the 26th District, which is 68 percent Hispanic. The Garcia campaign's response isn't heartening, either. They merely said Curbelo's data "isn't very convincing evidence." A responsive poll would be much more compelling than mere words, even if the numbers you're responding to come from McLaughlin.

04:44 Abbreviated pundit roundup: Foreign policy, Hillary Clinton and more» Daily Kos
The New York Times wants transparency in the Syrian aid vote:
It’s bad enough that Congress — instead of doing its job by passing appropriations bills to finance government operations for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 is, once again, relying on a stopgap spending bill that will keep the lights on only through mid-December. But it’s far worse that House leaders — at the urging of the White House — are using that bill as the vehicle for a major foreign policy decision: arming and training Syrian rebels to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the extremist Sunni group known as ISIS. […]

If the resolution doesn’t pass, the government will shut down at the end of this month, which neither party wants to happen before midterm elections. But, by including the assistance to the rebels as an amendment to the spending bill, as Republicans are planning to do, lawmakers will have to choose between paying for the rebels and shutting down the government.

That may put House members on the record on Syrian aid, but the amendment would probably not require its own vote in the Senate. Voters need to know whether all of their representatives supported the aid on principle or out of necessity. The vote on the Syrian aid should be entirely separate from the spending bill.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post demands that Congress should have its say in how to tackle the Islamic State:
When one nation declares its intention to destroy a politico- military force that controls a land mass that is equivalent, by some reports, to the size of Britain, it has effectively declared war. And that means Congress must have a say in the matter.

Unfortunately, Congress apparently has no intention of taking up the matter until after the midterm elections, still seven weeks away. And even then it's not certain that a broad debate will ensue.

For the time being, House Republicans are proposing a narrow measure to authorize a U.S. mission to aid moderate Syrian rebels. That measure would include a prohibition of U.S. ground forces to fight the Islamic State. And while that's better than nothing, it still allows the president to set the terms of engagement since he's said all along he has no intention of deploying combat troops.

More analysis of the morning's top stories below the fold.
03:55 Pol tries to turn tables on Bill Maher» POLITICO - TOP Stories
John Kline fights back after being targeted by Bill Maher in his "Flip a District" campaign.
03:49 Tiny Bite Marks Reveal Afterlife of an Ichthyosaur» LiveScience.com
Scientists found traces of scavenging on the bones from a fossilized ichthyosaur from the late Jurassic.
02:46 Hannity Worries Charging NFL's Peterson With Child Abuse Could Impinge Right To Teach Kids "Being Gay Is Not Normal"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

From the September 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:

RelatedMinnesota Governor Says Vikings Should Suspend Adrian Peterson 

02:04 Readying for Benghazi hearings» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The research hub is designed like a news website and will respond to allegations vs. Clinton.
02:02 Good year for bad boys of Congress» POLITICO - TOP Stories
In many cases, they're thriving even as they endure humiliating headlines and investigations.
01:17 Conservative Media Are Actually Accusing Obama Of "Advising" The Islamic State» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Right-wing media accused President Obama of "advising" and "strategizing" for the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in reaction to reports that Obama said the group had made a strategic error in provoking support for U.S. military action against them.

Obama Reportedly Said Islamic State Made A Strategic Error In Provoking Support For U.S. Military Intervention

NY Times: Obama Said That Islamic State Made A Strategic Error In Killing American Journalists, As It Provoked Support For U.S. Intervention. According to a September 13 New York Times report, Obama told a group of journalists at a private White House meeting on September 10 that the Islamic State's beheading of kidnapped journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff was a strategic error on the group's part, as it had led to greater support for U.S. military action (emphasis added):

Mr. Obama had what guests on Wednesday afternoon described as a bereft look as he discussed the murders of Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff, particularly because two other Americans are still being held. Days later, ISIS would report beheading a British hostage with another video posted online Saturday.

But the president said he had already been headed toward a military response before the men's deaths. He added that ISIS had made a major strategic error by killing them because the anger it generated resulted in the American public's quickly backing military action.

If he had been "an adviser to ISIS," Mr. Obama added, he would not have killed the hostages but released them and pinned notes on their chests saying, "Stay out of here; this is none of your business." Such a move, he speculated, might have undercut support for military intervention. [The New York Times, 9/13/14]

Right-Wing Media Accuse Obama Of "Advising" Islamic State, Being "Better Terrorist Than The Terrorists"

Fox Hosts: "It Seems Inappropriate To Be Strategizing On Behalf Of Your Enemy." On the September 16 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Kennedy said of the Times report, "It seems inappropriate to be strategizing on behalf of your enemy." Co-host Sandra Smith added that Obama was "detailing a strategy" for the Islamic State to "combat the American people." [Fox News, Outnumbered, 9/16/14]

WSJ Editor James Taranto: Obama Is "A Better Terrorist Than The Terrorists." In the Wall Street Journal on September 15, editorial board member James Taranto criticized Obama's reported comments from the Times in a post headlined "The ISIS Adviser":

He's a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, a better political director than his political director, and to hear President Obama tell it--or, to be precise, to hear the New York Times retell others' retelling of Obama's telling it--he's a better terrorist than the terrorists.


As comical as it is for the president of the United States to imagine himself giving political advice to a terrorist army, Obama's musings are also revealing. He imputes to the Islamic State the objective of forestalling U.S. military intervention. It understates matters considerably to observe that there is no obvious reason to suppose that is so. [The Wall Street Journal, 9/15/14]

NRO: "Did ISIS Call [Obama] And Ask For Advice?" In a September 15 blog post for National Review Online, Jim Geraghty wondered, "Why is our president thinking about what he would tell ISIS if he were advising them?", asking:

Okay... what's the point? Why spend any time thinking about that scenario? Did ISIS call and ask for advice? They didn't attach notes; they detached heads. That's the choice they made. Now the question is what we're going to do about it.


Viewed from another angle, President Obama's comment sounds like a complaint. If ISIS hadn't beheaded Americans, there wouldn't be such widespread demand for action against ISIS in the American public.

"If I were advising ISIS..."

Well, you're not, Mr. President. What, are you looking for another job? Some sort of freelance consulting gig on the job, when you clock out as Commander-in-Chief? [National Review, 9/15/14]

Breitbart.com: "Obama As ISIS Adviser?" Breitbart.com's Dan Riehl penned an article under the headline "Obama As ISIS Adviser?" on September 14, claiming the president gave the Islamic State "advice":

In a somewhat bizarre snippet from a New York Times account of Obama's prelude to war with ISIS, we find this strange bit of advice for ISIS from the Commander-in-Chief himself. The Times fails to point out that it makes no sense, while also betraying Obama's lack of leadership. [Breitbart.com, 9/14/14]

00:41 Suicide Contagion: How the Media Can Help Fight It (Op-Ed)» LiveScience.com
How media reports cover suicide actually leads to more suicides.
00:18 On Fox, Latest "Benghazi Bombshell" Progresses From Baseless Speculation To Absurd Allegations» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox News' coverage of an evidence-free "bombshell" from Benghazi hoaxster Sharyl Attkisson took just hours to morph from a reiteration of her claim that a disgruntled former State Department employee "couldn't help but wonder" if Hillary Clinton's staff had turned over "scrubbed" Benghazi documents to investigators into full-blown allegations that documents had been "destroyed" -- allegations that remain baseless.

Attkisson Hypes Baseless Claim That State Department Covered Up Damaging Benghazi Documents

Attkisson Highlights Speculation That State Department Staff Removed Damaging Benghazi Documents. On September 15, Attkisson forwarded disgruntled former State Department employee Raymond Maxwell's unsupported allegation that "Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to 'separate' damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya." According to Attkisson's report, Maxwell claimed to have observed an "after-hours" document sorting session at which a State Department office director "close to Clinton's top advisers" told staff to separate out Benghazi documents "that might put anybody in the Near Eastern Affairs front office or the seventh floor in a bad light." [The Daily Signal, 9/15/14]

Maxwell Did Not Claim Claim Documents Were Withheld, Just That He "Couldn't Help But Wonder" If They Were. Attkisson's report noted that Maxwell didn't stay to observe the full document sorting process, but simply reviewed a separated stack of documents that "included pre-attack telegrams and cables between the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and State Department headquarters" and later "couldn't help but wonder" if the ARB investigation had been skewed. From Attkisson's report:

In May 2013, when critics questioned the ARB's investigation as not thorough enough, co-chairmen Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen responded that "we had unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed."

Maxwell says when he heard that statement, he couldn't help but wonder if the ARB -- perhaps unknowingly -- had received from his bureau a scrubbed set of documents with the most damaging material missing. [The Daily Signal, 9/15/14]

Rep. Cummings: Maxwell Didn't Raise Allegation During Interview With House Oversight Committee. Slate's Dave Weigel reported that Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, which has extensively investigated the attacks in Benghazi, pointed out that Maxwell did not mention the allegation during an interview with the committee:

"Maxwell was interviewed by our committee, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee," said Cummings. He was called by Chairman Issa as a witness. And he never talked about this. He had plenty of opportunities to do it. But keep in mind, we have allegations seeming to come out every week. Mr. Schiff just talked about the three contractors, who also have been interviewed, and suddenly they come out with these 'stand down' allegations. But again, Mr. Maxwell did not bring those allegations to our attention when we interviewed him extensively. Extensively." [Slate, 9/16/14]

Successive Fox News Reports Exaggerate Attkisson's Allegations

Fox News' America's Newsroom"Some Wonder If This Could Be A Smoking Gun Of A Potential Cover-Up." The September 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom quickly highlighted Attkisson's claims, calling them a "bombshell development, they say." Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway called the report "powerful," but was careful to characterize the details as "accusations." He said members of the Benghazi Select Committee "are going to want to probe this information deeply" ahead of the first committee hearing. Host Eric Shawn concluded the segment by noting that "some wonder if this could be a smoking gun of a potential cover-up." Meanwhile, an on-air graphic reiterated Attkisson's basic claim:

America's Newsroom[Fox News, America's Newsroom9/15/14]

Fox News' On The Record: "Clinton Allies Removed Politically Damaging Docs." Attkisson appeared on the September 15 edition of Fox News' On The Record to discuss what host Greta Van Susteren called "stunning new allegations in the Benghazi investigation." Van Susteren asked Attkisson whether Maxwell knows "what was removed, what Congress didn't see, any documents that were taken out?" Though Attkisson acknowledged that Maxwell does not know of any documents withheld from the investigation, an on-air graphic claimed more definitively that "Clinton Allies Removed Politically Damaging Docs":

Greta Van Susteren[Fox News, On The Record9/15/14]

Fox News' Fox & Friends"They're Scrubbing The Documents. Anything That Makes Hillary Clinton Look Bad, They're Taking Out." The September 16 edition of Fox & Friends took Attkisson's claims further, describing her "explosive new revelations" as "a scandal down in D.C. that threatens to derail Hillary Rodham Clinton." Co-host Steve Doocy summarized the story: "State Department was told, 'put all the documents together, we're going to send them to the review board.' He, Mr. Maxwell walks in on a weekend, odd hours, and there, one of the people that works for him -- they're scrubbing the documents. Anything that makes Hillary Clinton look bad, they're taking out." Appearing as a guest on the show, Attkisson noted that references to the State Department's "seventh floor" in her report refered to Hillary Clinton and her top advisers -- which Doocy reinterpreted in order to claim that orders to separate damaging documents "apparently came from the seventh floor." During the segment, an on-air graphic said simply, "Documents Destroyed":

Documents Destroyed[Fox News, Fox & Friends9/16/14]

00:17 Gun Group Fails Miserably In Its Attempt To Blame Smart Guns For Recent Election Losses» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

The gun industry's trade group is claiming Democratic Massachusetts attorney general candidate Warren Tolman's September 9 primary defeat occurred because of his support for smart gun technology. But the candidate who won the primary also backs smart guns and attacked Tolman during the race for not supporting the technology enough.

In a September 16 column for the "Guns and Gear" section of conservative website The Daily Caller headlined "Leaders Of Smart Gun Mandate Movement Lose Primaries," National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president Larry Keane claimed that Tolman and Massachusetts Democratic congressional candidate John Tierney both lost recent primary races after supporting smart gun technology.

Keane wrote, "Besides their recent primary losses, what other striking similarity exists between these two outliers? Both candidates were staunch supporters of a mandate for so-called 'smart gun' technology. "

One problem: during the campaign Tolman was attacked by opponent Maura Healey after backing away from mandating smart gun technology. According to a July 27 Healey campaign press release, "Democratic candidate for Attorney General Maura Healey today expressed disappointment that her primary opponent is weakening his position on mandating smart gun technology."

00:15 Sexism and Science Go Hand-in-Hand (Op-Ed)» LiveScience.com
With sexual harassment surprisingly common in science professions, will the fields ever lose their stigma as a club of "old, white males"?

Mon 15 September, 2014

23:59 Fox News Doubles Airtime For GOP Senators During Hearing On Islamic State Threat» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

 Fox News' live coverage of the Senate Armed Services hearing on U.S. strategy against the Islamic State repeatedly cut away when Senate Democrats held the floor.

On September 16, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the U.S. campaign to counter the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Fox News' America's Newsroom aired live coverage of the hearing for nearly 40 minutes without interruption. After opening remarks from Dempsey and Hagel, Fox aired questions from Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking majority and minority members, respectively. Yet when Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) was given the floor, Fox cut away, only rejoining footage once Republican Sen. John McCain (AZ) began questioning.

After airing more than seven minutes of McCain's questions, Fox once again cut away during Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson (FL)'s time so that America's Newsroom co-host Martha McCallum could praise McCain for "obviously a very strong line of questioning."

An hour later, the program returned to the hearing only to highlight  "heated" questions from another Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC).

In all, the network aired more than 16 minutes of GOP questions, while showing less than 8 minutes of Democratic questioning, according to a Media Matters count.

Fox News has a long history of heavily favoring Republicans in their live coverage of congressional hearings by cutting away from Democrats. 

23:59 Is Wearable Tech Changing Behavior?» LiveScience.com
Are you being recorded? Thanks to the ubiquity of CCTV and camera phones, the answer is more than ever before likely to be “Yes.”
23:44 How Texas' Climate Denial Could Harm Your Child's Education» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

TexasThe textbooks that Texas adopts influence those that are chosen by districts across the U.S., which makes it all the more worrying that several textbooks under consideration by the state misrepresent what scientists know about climate change. The distortions in these textbooks mirror the misinformation that has been pushed in Texas media that has contributed to this dangerous ignorance.

A recent review by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) found that several textbooks under consideration by the Texas Board of Education, which includes numerous members who deny global warming, cast doubt on the basic fact that carbon pollution is driving climate change. National Journal explained that since "Texas is the second-largest market in the U.S. for textbooks after California," the textbooks chosen by the board could affect what publishers sell to states across the country.

Some of the misleading claims in these textbooks mirror the misinformation that has been pushed in the state's local media. For example, one textbook presents claims from the Heartland Institute, a climate "skeptic" organization that once compared those that "believe" in global warming to the Unabomber and in the 1990s denied the science demonstrating the dangers of secondhand smoke, as equally credible to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assembles hundreds of scientists to review thousands of peer-reviewed articles on climate change. Some Texas media have similarly treated the Heartland Institute as equally or even more credible than the world's top scientists. For example, a news reporter for the Houston talk radio station KTRH hyped a Heartland Institute report when it was released in April 2014 with the headline "New Report Debunks Climate Change," and in May 2014 turned to the group to rebut an actual scientific report on climate change that was reviewed by a National Academy of Sciences panel. An on-air host at KTRH has also called global warming a "scam."

Other news outlets in Texas have also misrepresented climate science. For example, an East Texas Fox affiliate, KFXK, aired a commentary on September 9 that falsely claimed Arctic sea ice has "expanded":

23:37 Are You a Supertaster?» LiveScience.com
Abhor asparagus and can't stand coffee? You may be a super taster.
23:14 A Fox Host Finally Connected The NFL Domestic Violence Controversy To Benghazi» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox News' Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck connected an ongoing National Football League controversy surrounding domestic violence to the September 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The Fox & Friends host tweeted September 16, "Imagine if everyone that asked for transparency in the #nfl @nfl Demanded that same #transparency in our #government," adding the hashtags "#Benghazi" and "#IRS," references to the terrorist attack and the alleged targeting by the IRS of tax exempt organizations.

Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL after a video of him punching his now-wife and knocking her unconscious leaked, and the organization came under fire for not previously suspending Rice when he initially admitted to the assault. Fifteen female senators have asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to "institute a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence," and questioned whether the commissioner or other league officials may have attempted to "cover-up" evidence of the abuse.

Fox News has repeatedly attempted to claim the Obama administration engaged in a "cover up" of the Benghazi attacks, with the evening lineup alleging a "cover up" in 281 segments in the first 20 months following the attacks. Network personalities have previous invoked Benghazi in relation to meteorologists meeting with President Obama, the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, Gov. Chris Christie's bridge scandalYom Kippur, and Monday Night Football.

UPDATE: Hasselbeck later tweeted at the Huffington Post, which wrote up her comments:

22:02 Krauthammer Distorts Obama's Words To Declare Him A Napoleonic "Narcissist"» Media Matters for America - Latest Items

Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer declared on The Hugh Hewitt Show that President Obama is "clearly a narcissist," pointing to the president's use of the words "I" and "my." However, one example he provided is inaccurate while another was also used by Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush.       

Krauthammer On President's Use Of "My": "Obama Is Clearly A Narcissist"  

Krauthammer: Obama Is An "Extremely Self-Involved" Narcissist Who "Talks Like The Emperor, Napoleon." On the September 15 edition of Salem Radio's The Hugh Hewitt Show, Krauthammer, a non-practicing psychiatrist, called Obama a "narcissist" who "lives in a cocoon surrounded by sycophants ... he's the master of the universe, so there is nobody around him. He is impervious to outside advice":  

KRAUTHAMMER: This is all because, I mean, count the number of times he uses the word I in any speech, and compare that to any other president. Remember when he announced the killing of bin Laden? That speech I believe had 29 references to I - on my command, I ordered, as commander-in-chief, I was then told, I this. You'd think he'd pulled the trigger out there in Abbottabad. You know, this is a guy, you look at every one of his speeches, even the way he introduces high officials - I'd like to introduce my secretary of State. He once referred to 'my intelligence community'. And in one speech, I no longer remember it, 'my military'. For God's sake, he talks like the emperor, Napoleon. [The Hugh Hewitt Show9/15/14]

Krauthammer's Attack Echoes Conservative Media Claims Of Obama Exploiting Achievement Of Bin Laden's Death Based On A Misquote

National Interest: Controversy Over Whether Obama Is Exploiting Achievement Of Bin Laden's Death Misconstrues Actual Quote. Conservative magazine The National Interest explains that controversy over "whether Obama is taking too much credit for the raid that killed Bin Laden, with pundits accusing him of '[exploiting] the bragging rights to the achievement," is based on a misquote of President Obama's speech during which he actually praised "painstaking work by our intelligence community." [National Interest, 5/1/12]

Obama Thanked "Our Intelligence Community," Not "My Intelligence Community," Announcing Bin Laden's Death

Announcing Bin Laden's Death, Obama Thanked "Our Intelligence Community." When President Obama announced the outcome of the mission that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, he twice praised America's intelligence community for their "painstaking work" and "pursuit of justice." Contrary to Krauthammer's claim, Obama did not say "my intelligence community":

OBAMA: Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.


Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome.  The American people do not see their work, nor know their names.  But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice. [White House, 5/2/11]

President George W. Bush Referred To "My Military"

Bush: Rumsfeld Transformed "My Military" To Fight Terrorism. In a 2005 interview with Fox News' Brit Hume, President George W. Bush lauded the efforts of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whom he credited with transforming "my military" into a terror-fighting operation:

HUME: Secretary Rumsfeld, how does he stand with you?

BUSH: Good. He's done a heck of a job. He's conducted two wars, and at the same time is out to transfer my military from a military that was constructed for the post-Cold War to one that is going to be constructed to fight terrorism. [Fox News, Special Report with Brit Hume12/14/05]

20:00 Report: ACA abortion rules ignored» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Fifteen out of a sample of 18 insurers sell plans that do not segregate funds to cover abortion.
20:00 Open thread for night owls: Harper's Index excerpts for October» Daily Kos

The October Harper's Index has been posted. Some excerpts:

• Percentage of U.S. Republicans who say they could not live on the minimum wage: 69

• Who support raising it: 37

• Percentage of federal agencies whose servers have failed in the past twelve months: 94

• Number of attempted cyberattacks the average global company experienced in 2013: 16,856

• Amount by which spending on mobile ads is projected to exceed that on newspaper ads this year: $1,000,000,000

• Chance that a U.S. newspaper has a statehouse reporter: 1 in 3

• Percentage of Newark, New Jersey, residents who are black: 54

• Of pedestrians stopped by Newark police who are: 81

• Portion of Newark police stops that are “legally unjustified” according to a Department of Justice study: 3/4

• Amount Americans spent last year on UNICEF donations to trick-or-treaters: $3,731,057

• On Halloween costumes for their pets: $330,000,000

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008Past Results are no Guarantee of Future Performance:

Now that John McCain has at last turned in his answers to Science Debate 2008 (after peeking at Barack Obama's answers for a couple of weeks) there are some interesting tidbits hidden among his rambling responses.

Take this reply to a question about maintaining America's lead in innovation.

I am uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution. While in the Navy, I depended upon the technologies and information provided by our nation’s scientists and engineers with during each mission.
Let's stop there for a second. Here John McCain insists he's uniquely qualified to discuss technology because ... he used some. Forty years ago. This is the same kind of high standard by which he assured us that Sarah Palin knew more about energy than anyone else in America, and Phil Gramm was one of the smartest people in the world on the economy. At least he didn't claim any MacGyverite tech affinities developed in Hanoi.

Tweet of the Day
The wait times at the polls in Florida are so bad that by the time you get to vote Rand Paul might even agree with himself again.

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin sent us some worthy links today, in lieu of his usual appearance, inlcuding Nate Cohn's "Democrats Are Seeing More Daylight in Path to Senate Control." His mention of KS independent Greg Orman leads us to a discussion of what it means to caucus with one party or another & why it's done. And hey, aren't party caucuses a little like unions? Revelations of a "secret" Senate rulebook? We take the clickbait so you don't have to. We also caught up on in-school teacher GunFAIL, because we had to. Someone's picking up & running with the "smart gun" ball again, and even some conservatives think it's worth doing.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments
19:14 Watch Live! Colossal Squid Undergoes Autopsy» LiveScience.com
The giant beast is being housed in New Zeland and scientists hope the autopsy will help to answer some of the mysteries surrounding the colossal squid.
18:59 Tax reform even Boehner could love» POLITICO - TOP Stories
Opinion: The U.S. tax code is a broken, dysfunctional mess.
18:30 The fall TV season: New shows and returning series» Daily Kos
James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington in NBC's The Blacklist
About six months ago, I wrote a post about some of the problems facing the network television model. Since the early 1980s, when cable television began to expand and take hold, the broadcast networks have seen their audiences decline and shift to other outlets. In 1964-65, an episode of Bonanza had on average 36.3 percent of households with televisions tuned in every week to NBC to watch the Cartwrights. A lot of shows that were cancelled as "busts" in the past would be certified hits in the present landscape, with NBC and ABC lucky if they can get 5 million people to tune in for one of their series. The most-watched network show of 2013-14 was NBC Sunday Night Football, which attracted just 12.8 percent of households. It's not unusual for AMC's The Walking Dead or a reality show on MTV to beat all of the broadcast offerings on a given night. But even cable television has experienced declines in recent years.

The process by which new TV series come to air is incredibly inefficient. Each network orders around 20 pilot episodes based on different pitches and development deals. Those single pilot episodes can cost upwards of multiple millions, depending on the premise and the star power of the actors, writers, and producers attached to the project. After focus grouping and testing, only about one-third of those pilots ever make it to broadcast. Of that third, only a few will even make it through their initial season and broadcast all of their episodes, and 65 percent will be canceled and never see a second season.

So this week, let's look at the new season of television. Which new shows look promising? Which ones look like they're not going to last very long? And some news about the direction for some returning TV series. Follow beneath the fold for more ....

18:22 'The Burning Bed,' 30 Years Later -- And Ray Rice, Now» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
The groundbreaking TV movie highlighted the issue of domestic violence, which has been illustrated again with the case involving the NFL player.

On the evening of October 8, 1984, over one-third of all American television sets were turned to NBC for the premiere of The Burning Bed, starring Farrah Fawcett and Paul LeMat. Based on the true story of Francine Hughes, it brought the brutal reality of domestic violence out of the shadows and into our living rooms. We sat mesmerized as Mickey Hughes' need for control over his wife grew ever greater as he seemed to lose control over the rest of his life. Slaps became punches. Pushes became throws across a room, followed by violent beatings.

That was not normal television fare in those days. Violence against women had never accurately been shown, only suggested. It was called "domestic violence" because it existed in the home, behind closed doors, seen only by the aggressor, the victim, and any children. The Burning Bed (which was directed by Robert Greenwald, who currently runs Brave New Films) exposed a dark secret, and it was not pretty.

Before Francine Hughes doused her sleeping husband's bed in gasoline and lit it up, she tried to get help. She turned to her mother and was told, "If you make a hard bed you have to lie in it." She appealed to the police, only to learn that they had to witness the attack in order to arrest her husband, regardless of her bloody and bruised appearance. Social welfare agencies were of no help to a woman with three hungry children, unless she divorced her husband. But divorce was not enough to keep Mickey away. When she complained to the welfare agents of his return and continuing violence, she was told that she could be prosecuted for welfare fraud.

There was no safe place for her to run to. Nor had she a car in which to flee. There were only a handful of shelters in the entire country, none in her small town outside of Lansing, Michigan. There were no systems in place to help women in abusive relationships.

And while it may have all been new to this young wife and mother, beating up on women has a long history, as you will see beneath the fold.


From the History of Battered Women's Movement:

753 B.C.E. During the reign of Romulus in Rome, wife beating is accepted and condoned under The Laws of Chastisement. Under these laws, the husband has absolute rights to physically discipline his wife. Since by law, a husband is held liable for crimes committed by his wife, this law was designed to protect the husband from harm caused by the wife’s actions. These laws permit the husband to beat his wife with a rod or switch as long as its circumference is no greater than the girth of the base of the man’s right thumb, [...]. The tradition of these laws is perpetuated in English Common Law and throughout most of Europe.

Two thousand years later, in 1427, "Bernard of Siena suggests that his male parishioners 'exercise a little restraint and treat their wives with as much mercy as they would their hens and pigs.'"

The patriarchal society that developed in the West adopted much of its justification, unsurprisingly, from holy scriptures that had been written by men. Not only was it carried into the New World on the ships of the Puritans, where it flourished, it was unhesitatingly used to "civilize" other cultures:

The Treaty of 1868 is negotiated between General Sherman and the Navajos. General Sherman insists that the Navajos select male leaders, thereby stripping women of their ability to participate in decision making. The alien law destroys traditional relationships and concentrates power in the hands of male leaders. "Anglo" paternalism and patriarchy are introduced to Navajo men who learn several "traditions" including robbing women of economic and political power, and wife-beating.

It wasn't until 1882 that Maryland became the first state to outlaw wife-beating, only 13 years after the first animal anti-cruelty law was passed. Slowly other states started to restrict a husband's right to beat the crap out of his wife. By 1965, Congress had passed laws granting women protection from discrimination in the work place, but women still could not get credit cards, car loans, or mortgages without a husband or father to co-sign the papers. That privilege, which freed her from financial dependence, would not come for another 10 years.

Feminists led the fight for greater protection and assistance for battered women during the '70s and '80s. Public awareness was heightened by movies like The Burning Bed and The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker's multiple award-winning novel of a woman of color, and her lifelong battle against the physical and emotional violence of male oppression.

The pressure for change built during the '80s and early '90s and finally reached Washington, DC, where Joe Biden in the Senate, and Barbara Boxer in the House of Representatives, sponsored the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill, written by Biden's office with input from multiple grassroots and advocacy organizations, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994, 20 years ago yesterday.

Next to the Nineteenth Amendment, VAWA may be the most significant piece of legislation ever passed as far as women's rights are concerned. It does no good to have equal opportunity in the workplace if you cannot be safe in your own home.

You cannot have a conversation about human rights and human dignity without talking about the right of every woman on this planet to be free from violence and free from fear.”

Vice President Joseph Biden, April 2, 2013

Among the objectives of the new law was to increase pubic awareness of domestic violence and to change attitudes about it, as well as to provide resources to the victims of such violence, and to improve the response of the criminal justice system to domestic violence.

Grants were distributed under VAWA by Department of Health and Human Services through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and by the Department of Justice, which established the Office on Violence against Women (OVW) in 1995. These grants have proved critical in addressing violence against women:

VAWA created a number of grant programs for a range of activities, including programs aimed at (1) preventing domestic violence and related crimes; (2) encouraging collaboration among law enforcement, judicial personnel, and public/private sector providers with respect to services for victims of domestic violence and related crimes; (3) investigating and prosecuting domestic violence and related crimes; and (4) addressing the needs of individuals in a special population group (e.g., elderly, disabled, children and youth, individuals of ethnic and racial communities, and nonimmigrant women).

Over the years of its existence, VAWA's mandate has broadened to include not just rape and domestic violence, but also stalking and dating violence. In 2013, protection was extended to the LGBT community and greater jurisdiction was granted to the Native American Tribal Courts. While the OVW has focused on the the criminal nature of the included offenses, the CDC has approached intimate partner violence (IPV) as a public health issue.

The CDC includes in its definition of IPV four types of abuse: physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. The CDC collects data to determine the scope of the problem, analyze the precipitating factors, and test proposed solutions, which if successful, are broadly implemented.

The costs (time lost from work and medical) associated with IPV in 1995, were estimated at $5.8 billion or more than $9 billion in 2014 dollars.

1 in 3 women in the U.S. have experienced rape.
Photo Credit: 
The White House

The 2010, the CDC released its latest National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (pdf), which showed that one in three women and one in four men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. One in four women and one in seven men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

And while the name of the act is Violence Against Women and the focus appears to be on women, the actual wording of the provisions of the act has always been gender neutral, recognizing that men can also be victims of domestic violence. The 2005 renewal of the law codified that with these words:

(8) NONEXCLUSIVITY- Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title.

The CDC has developed a framework for prevention based on a social-ecological model, illustrated below.

The CDC developed a framework for prevention.
Photo Credit: 
The ultimate goal is to stop violence before it begins. Prevention requires understanding the factors that influence violence. CDC uses a four-level social-ecological model to better understand violence and the effect of potential prevention strategies (Dahlberg & Krug 2002). This model considers the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. 

An example of a program specifically addressing the individual, relationship and community factors is Dating Matters®:

Dating Matters® is a comprehensive teen dating violence prevention initiative based on the current evidence about what works in prevention. The initiative focuses on 11- to 14-year-olds in high-risk, urban communities. It includes preventive strategies for individuals, peers, families, schools, and neighborhoods.

Fortunately, one of those programs is being implemented in Baltimore—home of the Baltimore Ravens football team, which until last week employed Ray Rice as a running back.

After 30 years, one would think that some things would change. And one would be right. For all of the work and money devoted to eliminating violence against women, we may never be completely rid of it, any more than we can rid ourselves of murder.

But the case of Ray Rice does illustrate some of the big changes that have happened over the last 30 years.

The NFL, according to news reports, knew about the violence and tried to hide it. Thirty years ago it would not have needed hiding. It never would have been reported by the media, and if word had ever leaked out it would have been in the form of jokes on late night television. They tried to hide it. We have succeeded in making it clear that domestic violence is wrong and that it is not a joking matter, regardless of the clowns on Fox morning shows (why are there so very many idiots on morning television?).

Once the video was released, Ray Rice was fired and suspended indefinitely from the NFL. Thirty years ago? Never. Would. Have. Happened. It would have been considered a private family matter and of no concern to Rice's employer.

Social media lit up Twitter with #whydidn'tsheleave and #whyIleft, spreading the word about IPV and its impact on all of us. Thirty years ago, Al Gore hadn't even invented the internet.

And finally, 30 years ago you would not have had a sports broadcaster go on the air and castigate those who would demean women on national television. Keith Olbermann, in his July 25 editorial, drew the straight line between the second-class status of women in sports and the physical violence of Ray Rice. Because that outermost oval up there in the social-ecological model, the one that is labeled Societal? That oval represents the social norms of the culture in which violence occurs. In a society in which women are less than, where their value is not as great as men's, they are more like to suffer physical violence.



Related Stories

17:01 House Republicans say yes to Obama» POLITICO - TOP Stories
The party looks like it will quickly agree to some of President Barack Obama's biggest demands.
15:14 Southwest's Earthquake Spike Linked to Injection Wells» LiveScience.com
A dramatic increase in earthquakes in New Mexico and Colorado was triggered by wastewater injection wells.
14:57 Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: Republicans try to tie David Ige to the governor he unseated» Daily Kos

Leading Off:

HI-Gov: Well, this is an interesting tactic. The RGA goes after Democrat David Ige, tying him to departing Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The narrator argues that Ige voted for $800 million in new taxes and fees, making it hard for people to make a living in the state, before praising Republican Duke Aiona.

It's nothing new to link a candidate to an unpopular figure from his party. But what's different here is that Ige challenged Abercrombie in the primary and beat him. It's pretty odd that the RGA thinks they can portray Ige as an Abercrombie ally given that Ige was the person to send Abercrombie onto retirement.

Jump below the fold for more.

14:53 'Global Selfie' Project Will Beam Earthling Message to Space» LiveScience.com
A new project aims to send a special message from Earth — a type of global "selfie" — into space, by uploading it to a spacecraft traveling through the cosmos on its way to Pluto.
14:04 Try Kegel Exercises for Urinary Incontinence, New Guidelines Say» LiveScience.com
Kegel exercises and bladder training are effective ways to treat urinary incontinence in women, and should be tried before the use of drug treatments, according to new recommendations.
13:19 Election Diary Rescue #36: Talk Like a Pirate Edition» Daily Kos

Welcome Aboard, Me Hearties!
'Tis Talk Like A Pirate Week!!!


By permission from Admira Wijaya

Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19th

A wee taste o'this week's grog be below. This post features a collection of 56 diaries.

(NH-Sen) Mayday PAC in New Hampshire: lessons learned (NH-Sen). UPDATED by DocDawg - Mayday PAC, Lawrence Lessig's "ironic" crusade t' drive fundamental campaign booty reform by fightin' fire (SuperPACs) with fire (his own anti-PAC), faced its first major armada - and humiliatin' defeat - in t' New Hampshire Republican primary for US Senate.

(KS-01) Traditional Republicans for Common Sense Endorse Sherow (D-KS) over Tim Huelskamp by  tmservo433 - Yar mateys, half a fortnight ago, the buccaneers of the Traditional Republicans for Common Sense risked walkin’ the plank or worse, by throwin’ their lot behind Jim Sherow, the Democratic candidate for Kansas’ first district, rather than the scurvy bilgrat Republican Tim Huelskamp.

(MI-Gov) MI-GOV SCANDAL: Snyder admin quietly canceled $98K fine for for-profit prison food vendor Aramark by Eclectablog - For-treasure brig food vendow Aramark has experienced repeated food shortages, employees bringin' drugs and contraband t' prisoners, employees havin' sex with prisoners, and most recently, maggots in multiple food preparation areas. T' state began crackin' down last March and were fined, not keel-hauled. Cap'n Snyder thinks that's "too harsh."

Dems start fast out of the box: Ahoy! NC mail-in voting starts by ean4ever - The NC State Board of Elections has voter files that can be data mined. Usually mail-in voting in NC heavily benefits the GOP, but this year there has been a massive shift towards the Democrats, with a HUGE jump in Black turnout.

This is the 36th weekly edition of Election Diary Rescue. It covers rescued down-ticket election diaries published from Sunday, September 7 through Saturday, September 13. We hope you enjoy the following gems dug up by our dedicated team of miners.

VOLUNTEER ALERT! As the election approaches we may be switching back to our traditional daily schedule for producing this blog. We will need a few good Kossacks to join the team.

Please e-mail us if you would like the opportunity to contribute to this legacy project. DKosEDR@gmail.com.

Diaries: (56)
Senate: (15) posts, (9) states
House: (4) posts, (4) states, (4) districts
State and more: (22)
General: (15)

13:10 Even Kansas Republicans have had enough hardcore conservatism» Daily Kos
Sam Brownback with hands up
Sam Brownback facing off with voters
Goal Thermometer

For decades, Kansas has had a significant Republican base. Although they've had a few Democratic governors like Kathleen Sebelius, and an occasional congressional representative like Dennis Moore, the state has long hovered in deep red territory.

As Republican Gov. Sam Brownback nears the end of his first (and hopefully only) term, Kansans are starting to feel the pinch from those conservatives policies. Standard & Poor has downgraded Kansas' bond rating after tax cuts produced a $300 million budget shortfall, increased poverty, and halved the state's economic growth compared with its neighbors.

Now, the New York Times points out there is a revolt bubbling from some of the unlikeliest of places–Kansas Republicans like Konrad Hastings, who has declared he will vote for a Democrat for the first time this fall:

"He’s leading Kansas down,” said Mr. Hastings, 68, who said he voted for Mr. Brownback four years ago, when he easily won his first term. “We’re going to be bankrupt in two or three years if we keep going his way."
And Hastings isn't alone:
Even some of Kansas’ staunchest Republicans have found some of these measures to be too far to the right. More than 100 current and former Republican elected officials have endorsed Mr. Davis.
And Brownback's not the only GOP candidate in trouble. Recent polling shows Kansas Republicans could go 0-for-3 in the races for governor, U.S. Senate, and secretary of state.

You can help in one of those races by chipping in $5 to help elect Jean Schodorf and get the worst secretary of state in the nation out of office.

12:56 Scott Walker looks to gain votes by attacking jobless aid and food stamp applicants» Daily Kos
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at CPAC 2013.
Goal Thermometer

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is in trouble in his re-election campaign, so he's going back to a strategy that's served him well: divide and conquer. Walker's new plan involves targeting some of Wisconsin's most vulnerable by requiring drug tests for unemployment insurance and food stamp applicants, while using the fact that that's illegal to pick a fight with the federal government:

Few details were included on the new proposals, but advocates for the needy said the drug testing proposal for jobless and food stamp benefits would violate federal law — a complication that killed a similar proposal promoted by Republican lawmakers in 2011. Walker himself acknowledged the potential for conflict but said the move was still right for the state.

"We believe that there will potentially be a fight with the federal government and in court. ... Our goal here is not to make it harder to get government assistance; it's to make it easier to get a job," Walker said.

This is an obvious campaign ploy. Walker is offering the Republican base two distinct kinds of catnip: anti-poor people catnip and anti-federal government catnip. His actual drug-testing plan would be unlikely to hold up in federal court and even if it did, the experience of states that have implemented similar plans suggests that just a tiny percentage of applicants for aid would test negative. That means that either the state would waste a lot of money on negative drug tests or force people having trouble putting food on the table to pay for their own drug tests.

In other words, what Walker is proposing is terrible policy on practical, moral, and legal grounds. But this is the kind of stuff Republicans love because they hate poor people and the federal government, so for a cynical, amoral governor facing a tough battle for re-election, it's a great move. Of course, Wisconsin voters might want to think twice about doing anything that will make it more difficult for themselves to get unemployment insurance if they fall prey to the lousy job creation numbers Walker has put up during his first term.

Make Scott Walker pay for his divide-and-conquer tactics. Please give $3 to Mary Burke.

12:41 Stealth Cheetah Robot Sprints Like a Cat (Video)» LiveScience.com
MIT's new robotic cheetah isn't as speedy as its wild counterpart, but it is stealthy and surprisingly agile.
12:38 Ancient People of Teotihuacan Drank Milky Alcohol, Pottery Suggests» LiveScience.com
A milky alcoholic concoction was made and drunk at one of the largest cities in prehistory, Teotihuacan in Mexico. This liquor may have helped provide the people with essential nutrients during frequent shortfalls in staple foods, scientists said.
12:30 Arizona Republican vice chair resigns after he suggests sterilizing welfare recipients» Daily Kos
Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's illegal immigration law Senate Bill 1070, poses for a photo in Mesa, Arizona July 19, 2010. The SB 1070 law is currently being challenged at the U.S. District Court to prevent it from going into effect on July 29, which would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR2GJOH
Another Republican (ex-)lawmaker pipes up with thoughts on sterilizing poor Americans.
Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) resigned his position as first vice chairman of the Arizona Republican Party on Sunday amid criticism by prominent Republican candidates of Pearce's recent comments on sterilization and poor women.

According to the Arizona Republic, the resignation follows the Arizona Democratic party highlighting Pearce saying on his radio talk program that if he were in charge of Arizona's public assistance programs "the first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth control implants, or tubal ligations…Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want [to reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."

This would be the former Arizona State Senator the Russell Pearce that authored and spearheaded the state's notorious anti-immigrant bill SB 1070. Yes, he's a radio show host now. Of course he is.

Pearce says in his defense that he didn't actually "say" that, he was just noting that someone else said that and was bringing it up as part of the discussion. Because, presumably, it's really important to "discuss" whether or not sterilizing Arizona's poor people might be something to think about.

You know, for people so concerned about defending themselves against the next Hitler ... hmm. I don't know how to finish that sentence.

11:36 In America, Healthy Eating Is for the Privileged » AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
A luxury item.

Although kale salad is making its way to some family dinners, the fact remains that eating healthy is often thought of as something for the rich to entertain, and for the bottom rung to struggle with. According to new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, authors give credence to this gap, finding that the rich are eating healthier and the poor are still eating worse.

Using a survey from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the authors charted the eating habits of American diets from roughly 29,124 adults from 1999 to 2010. They indexed the habits using the Harvard School of Public Health’s Alternate Eating Index, which, while monitoring healthy eating habits, is also used to predict chronic diseases in the U.S. population.

If an individual scored higher on the index, it indicates they eat healthier food items such as fruits (not including juice), vegetables (not including starches like potatoes) and whole grains. A lower score entails the opposite, where the individual most likely eats foods high in fat, sugar and sodium.

What they found was that scores for low-income adults were lower than the average but also their numbers did not increase in the past 12 years. Compare this to high-income adults whose scores increased more than six points from 2009 to 2010.

On the bright side, and not accounting for socioeconomic status, we’re drinking less sugary drinks and fruit juices. We’re also eating more fruits and whole grains, nuts legumes and polyunsaturated fats. On the down side, we’re not eating enough vegetables, we’ve increased our sodium intake and still haven’t made a significant dent in eating any less red or processed meats.

“The good news is that the overall quality of the U.S. diet has been increasing in the past decade,” Frank Hu, one of the study’s authors, told The Atlantic. He also said the gap was “disturbing” and graded the U.S. diet in the B- range.

Today more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of youth are obese, according to the CDC. Recently, a new report found that obesity rates rose in six states in 2013, which is actually somewhat good news considering in 2005 every state increased their obesity rates.  The ubiquity of processed foods in America makes eating healthy foods, to say the least, nearly impossible.

The authors believe much of the healthy-eating gap could be explained by price, which is obviously a big concern when choosing what to eat, especially when real median incomes have remained the same since 1989. As Tom Philpott points out in Mother Jones, according to the USDA, “food-secure households spent 30 percent more on food than their food-insecure peers in 2013, and that includes expenditures from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”

On top of this, the study authors add that healthy foods generally cost more than unhealthy ones and that access to healthful foods also widens the gap — many low-income residents do not own a car to reach supermarkets with better, healthier foods. Lastly, education plays a big role as the dietary quality “was lowest and improved slowly in participants who had completed no more than 12 years of education, whereas dietary quality in participant who had completed college was consistently high and improved exponentially.”

As the authors write it’s “imperative for sustainable dietary quality improvement” especially for those whose socioeconomic status places them in the bottom levels of income, adding: “Collective actions, such as legislation and taxation, that aim toward creating an environment that fosters and supports individuals’ healthful choices are more effective at reducing dietary risk factors than actions that solely depend on personal responsibility, such as consumers’ individual voluntary behavior change.”

Among the study’s others findings, poor eating habits among blacks and whites “disappeared” once the socioeconomic variants were adjusted, meaning, once they both became sufficiently rich. However, Mexican Americans and whites maintained their significant differences across the board, something the authors believes is a matter of traditions and culture and not so much economic standing. Mexican Americans also had the best dietary quality of the race/ethnic groups and blacks had the poorest diets.


Related Stories

11:31 Hurricane Odile Pounds Baja, Heads Toward US» LiveScience.com
Hurricane Odile hit the Mexican resort city of Cabo San Lucas Sunday night, tying the record for the strongest hurricane ever recorded on the Baja Peninsula.
11:18 Join President Obama in supporting net neutrality, make your comment to the FCC» Daily Kos
President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situations in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri, from Edgartown, Massachusetts, August 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This is it, the last day you can make a formal comment to the FCC about protecting net neutrality, so here's your chance to do so, in your own words. And if you want to record that message, it might just end up on this giant billboard Fight for the Future has parked in front of the FCC.

Here's some inspiration for your comment making from President Obama over the years.

  • Here's Senator Obama in 2006: "Allowing the Bells and cable companies to act as gatekeepers with control over internet access would make the internet like cable. A producer­ driven market with barriers to entry for website creators and preferential treatment for specific sites based not on merit, the number of hits, but on relationships with the corporate gatekeeper. … We can't have a situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of the internet and that's why I'm supporting what is called net neutrality."
  • Candidate Obama in 2007: "Facebook, Myspace, ... Google, might not have been started if you had not had a level playing field for whoever has got the best idea. And I want to maintain that basic principle in how the internet functions. So as president I'm going to make sure that that is the principle that my FCC commissioners are applying as we move forward."
  • And President Obama in 2009: "One key to strengthening education, entrepreneurship, and innovation in communities like Troy is to harness the full power of the internet. That means faster and more widely available broadband—as well as rules to ensure that we preserve the fairness and openness that led to the flourishing of the internet in the first place. … [T]he role of government is to provide investment that spurs innovation and common-sense ground rules to ensure that there is a level playing field for all comers who seek to contribute their innovations."
  • An official White House statement in response to a net neutrality petition: "Absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries. The resulting decline in the development of advanced online apps and services would dampen demand for broadband and ultimately discourage investment in broadband infrastructure. An open internet removes barriers to investment worldwide."
  • President Obama, August, 2014: "One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That's the big controversy here. So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the internet so they can stream movies faster. I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the internet is to different users. You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.

Make your formal comment to the FCC today, by midnight, and stay tuned for more opportunities to make your voice heard on net neutrality in the coming weeks. The FCC won't be deciding on the issue until later this fall, so we won't be letting up.

11:13 DEADLINE: Today is the last day to comment to the FCC on net neutrality» Daily Kos
Pro-net neutrality Internet activists rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California July 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - R
Today is September 15th, and the Federal Communications Commission is taking public comments on its fake net neutrality proposal until midnight tonight.

It’s impossible to emphasize how crucial it is to speak out on this, as the very existence of Daily Kos and other independent websites is at stake. Unless the FCC regulates the internet as a public utility (which it can under Title II of the Telecommunications Act), Big Telecom will be free to charge a “fast lane” for websites that can afford it.

As Howard Dean once said: “The Internet is the most empowering and democratizing invention since the printing press.” We must keep it fair and equitable for everyone.

Over 1.3 million comments have been submitted to the FCC to date. Moreover, 379,020 Daily Kos members have sent nearly one million actions to Congress, the president and the FCC since we started this campaign. Back in July, our members sent over 41,175 hand-typed and personalized messages to the FCC—which are far more effective. Now, we just need to bring it home.

Please send your message before tonight, and read below the fold what we have planned starting tomorrow …

11:05 Texas sheriff says if ISIS shows up in his county, he'll 'send them to hell'» Daily Kos
Fox and Friends, chyron 'Imminent ISIS Strike? Terror cell may have formed near Texas border'
You are very stupid people and I hate you.
Here's a Texas sheriff that Fox & Friends found to freak out their already always-freaked-out viewers, because Fox & Friends is the lead paint of news.
I’m saying the border is wide open,” [Midland County, Texas Sheriff Gary Painter] replied. “We have found copies, or people along the border, have found Muslim clothing, they have found Quran books that are laying on the side of the trail. So we know that there are Muslims that have come across, have been smuggled in the United States.”
It's interesting that in all these stories of prayer rugs and Quran and "Muslim clothing" and whatnot being littered around our southern border, precious few of these pieces have actually been collected as proof. I'm thinking specifically of the soccer-shirt "prayer rug"—if you are a right-wing militia group "protecting" the border and you happen to stumble across what you believe to be clear evidence of Sekrit Muslim infiltration of the nation, why wouldn't you, oh say, pick it up to show to Fox News afterward? Why would you just leave it where you found it? Similarly, if you are a hardened religious zealot sneaking across the border to wage jihad on the infidel Americans—those are the only people who could possibly be carrying Qurans, of course—why would you just drop your cherished holy book into the Texas dirt? Haven't we been told that Sekrit Muslims are so enraged by mistreatment of their holy book that doing so is itself likely to unleash violence on the perpetrator?

If you ask me it's all the Quran we're not finding that are evidence of Sekrit Muslim infiltration. A real Sekrit Muslim wouldn't dump his holiest possessions like so many Arby's wrappers. Every time we do not find a Quran in the Texas desert, that means the Muslim terrorist who was carrying it was hardcore enough to keep it with him, and those are the ones you have to watch out for.

“If they show their ugly head in our area, we’ll send them to hell,” Painter said. “I think the United States needs to get busy and they need to bomb them. They need to take them out. I would like for them to hit them so hard and so often that every time they hear a propeller on a plane or a jet aircraft engine that they urinate down both legs.”
Mind you, this is the law enforcement guy saying this, which makes you think that maybe Midland County, Texas, is a truly crap place to live if you are tan-skinned enough for the local sheriff to even consider that you might be carrying a Quran (or worse, that you did have a Quran but now you don't because you were out scattering them in the desert.) If this yokel expects to find Sekrit Muslims in his "area" and is very eager to "send them to hell" when he finds one, one suspects he's going to "find" some among his county's residents sooner or later.

Again we have to ask: The purpose of Fox & Friends is what now? Propaganda? Fearmongering? A ritualized hatefest that simply chooses the next Big Menace out of a hat in order to send a loyal audience of malcontents and shut-ins into their daily paroxysm of impotent rage?

11:00 3rd Room of Ancient Greek Tomb Revealed» LiveScience.com
Archaeologists have peered into a third doorway inside of an ancient tomb in Greek Macedonia that is believed to date back to the era of Alexander the Great.
10:36 Atheists' Flawed Understanding of Terrorism: Why Sam Harris Fails to Understand the 'Islamic Threat'» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
This logic ignores the oppressive military factors that motivate terrorism.

Christopher Hitchens said that while atheism does not guarantee a smarter-than-thou intellect, an atheist’s intellectual advantage is his ability to reject false notions on face value. Atheists often pride themselves on being more open than believers when it comes to accepting new information and facts. This is not so, evidently, for luminaries like Sam Harris.

Harris’ recent blog “Sleepwalking Towards Armageddon” is presumably an oblique reply to my recent Alternet op-ed. I say presumably because Harris addresses each of the points I had ticked off against his failure to grasp the driving force of terrorism.

“What are their [terrorists] real motivations? Insert here the most abject hopes and projections of secular liberalism: How would you feel if Western imperialists and their mapmakers had divided your lands, stolen your oil, and humiliated your proud culture? Devout Muslims merely want what everyone wants—political and economic security, a piece of land to call home, good schools for their children, a little leisure to enjoy the company of friends,” Harris writes.

Harris’ bestseller End of Faith reads as a response to the terror attacks of 9/11. At the time of the book’s release, the West knew little of what drove seemingly reasonable people to turn themselves into human missiles. In 2005, I witnessed a twin suicide bomb attack in Bali, Indonesia. Like Harris, I believed religious fanaticism had to be the driving force for such hateful and vengeful atrocities. But maturing counter-terrorism analysis has brought new information to light.

The Suicide Terrorism Database at Flinders University in Australia, which documents all suicide bombings committed in the Middle East between 1981 and 2006, demonstrates that it is politics, not religious fanaticism that leads terrorists to blow themselves up. This is supported by research conducted at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, which was partly funded by the Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Agency. The authors, Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman, examined more than 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to present. Their research reveals that more than 90 percent of suicide attacks are directed at an occupying force.

We’ve spent the last half century waging and funding wars in the Middle East, playing one side off against the other, stoking ethnic rivalries, and arming regimes that inflict economic oppression upon their people. We've encircled the entire region with nearly 50 U.S. military bases and parked an aircraft carrier group permanently at their shores. The 17 Saudi 9/11 hijackers made their intent clear; they wanted the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia.

The belief that Islam is the root of terrorism doesn't explain how Western-targeted terrorism coincides with the period post oil being discovered in the Middle East during the 1930-'60s and the establishment of the Jewish state on Arab Palestinian land. Harris also ignores the fact that Palestinian Muslims welcomed Zionist Jews in the 19th century. It was only when Jewish settlers began taking their land, and when Jews made it clear they did not wish to share the remaining land, that violence ensued.

While Harris gives scant lip service to oil dependency and U.S. support of oppressive regimes, he ignores how our arms for oil strategy has created a permanent majority economic underclass in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iraq—which creates an environment for the criminal class to thrive. It’s from the criminal class that groups like ISIS draw their support. Our bases and arms guarantee the flow of cheap oil while at the same time enriching the ruling elite, usually monarchies. The multitude of Saudi princes reside in mansions while a majority of the citizenry live in squalor.

In dealing with ISIS, Harris says, “We won’t even honestly describe the motivations of our enemies. And in the act of lying to ourselves, we continue to pay lip service to the very delusions that empower them.” This is a breathtaking failure to understand what and who ISIS is. ISIS is the Sunni militia. Its leadership consists of former Baathist, anti-Islamist, pro-secular Saddam loyalists. When the U.S. removed Saddam and put 1 million Sunnis on the unemployment line, the 20th-century Western-manufactured country of Iraq disappeared, and Iraqis reached back for older identities: Sunni, Shiite and Kurd.

Painting ISIS as motivated primarily by religious fanaticism, rather than tribal territorial goals (self-determination) gives political cover for military hawks to execute a military solution over a diplomatic one. It also leads “millions of Sunni Iraqis to see an alliance with ISIS as lesser evil than submission to the brutal U.S. and Iranian backed regime in the Green Zone,” writes Nicholas J. S. Davies.

Harris’ contention that terrorists are motivated more by the writings of the Koran, rather than by economic, political, social, and military oppression, is based on feeling rather than fact. Harris is unable to explain the transformation of U.S.-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki’s views in the decades before his death, because there is no evidence to suggest that a religious awakening led to his adoption of a radically different theology. When the 9/11 attacks occurred, al-Awlaki told journalists: “There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion.” Explaining the concept of Jihad, he said, “If there is an invading force from outside, then we would, too, struggle to defend ourselves, and that is where armed combat occurs. So actually, fighting is only part of a jihad, and it’s considered to be a defensive force in order to protect the religion.”

The U.S. government had determined al-Awlaki to be a moderate, and he even spoke at a lunch event at the Pentagon. By 2010, however, he had become increasingly disillusioned with U.S. foreign policy. In a “Call to Jihad” lecture he gave that year, al-Awlaki said:

"We are not against Americans for just being Americans. We are against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What we see from America is the invasion of countries; we see Abu Grahib, Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay; we see cruise missiles and cluster bombs; and we have just seen in Yemen the death of 23 children and 17 women....I for one was born in the U.S. I lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in nonviolent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued aggression against U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim.”

Al-Awlaki’s radicalization is consistent with the historical pattern of political activists adopting a belief in terrorism when political action fails to bring about change. “From the French anarchists who began bombing campaigns after the defeat of the Paris Commune, to the Algerian FLN struggling to end French colonialism, to the Weather Underground’s declaration of a state of war following state representation of student campaigns against the Vietnam war,” terrorism is nearly always rooted in political and economic oppression says NYU adjunct professor Arun Kundani.

“Perhaps one day we will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for,” Harris writes. “ISIS has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq.”

His choice of words is telling. That Harris says Muslim recruits are fleeing from “free societies” serves to extol our own virtue and conceal the economic factors that make foreign military adventurism appealing to disenfranchised South Asian immigrants of Britain (mostly). He also points to the "failure of multiculturalism.” These claims are patently false. Majorities of British Muslims live in towns that the collapse of the industrial age has left behind. Towns like Luton, England, which is now a South Asian ghetto, have youth unemployment rates higher than 50 percent. People don’t join violent gangs because it’s a wise career choice, they join because in some cities, gang life is the only career choice, and ISIS is a gang that profits from racketeering, prostitution, drug running, kidnap ransoms, and extortion.

Harris' experience of America leads him to believe America is a vessel of virtue, a “shining city on a hill,” a beacon of justice and pro-secular values, while the Middle East is filled with “millions of people far scarier than Dick Cheney,” endless violence and suicide bombers in waiting. “Neither is it an accident that horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim world,” he asserts.

Harris’ dehumanization of the Muslim world should trouble even the most casual self-proclaimed free thinker. The U.S. killed more than 150,000 innocent Iraqi civilians during the seven-year occupation. Our “terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. We do not stand over the decapitated and eviscerated bodies left behind on city and village streets by our missiles, drones and fighter jets,” Chris Hedges writes. “We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them.”

Sam Harris remains unmoved from his reflexive post-9/11 position on terrorism. He will not be swayed by new information, data, political realities, exhaustive counter-terrorism studies, geo-political realities, or even his own double standards. Does not such stubbornness make one a fundamentalist?


Related Stories

10:31 Republican Senate victory would doom already stymied Obama nominations» Daily Kos
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to speak to the media about healthcare on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The Senate likely has just one full week of work left before November's election—this week. The Senate also has 153 pending nominations to executive and judicial positions which have cleared committee and are waiting for floor votes. Most of these appointees are subjected to the eight-hours of debate rule, all eight of which could be yielded back but since Republicans don't do that, assume the Democrats do and there's four hours of debate for each.

It doesn't take a math major to calculate that there's no way in hell even a tenth of these nominations will be voted on. The majority of them couldn't even be acted up on if the Senate stayed in session every working day between now and Christmas. With the need to keep government running and the other legislative priorities, nominations probably won't be at the top of the agenda in the post-election weeks before the next Congress begins.

Supposing Republicans take the Senate this fall, it's entirely possible that all those pending nominees never get a vote.

"My guess is they put a stop to a host of nominations and try to use that process for hostage taking and leverage," said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Certainly it means the ability of Obama to get any judicial nominations through becomes about zero." […]

"Confirmation rates will certainly drop (perhaps plummet from their near 100% level of late), but Republicans will have some incentive to negotiate with the White House over acceptable nominees (particularly for judgeships in states with two GOP senators)," said Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University, in an email.

And if there happens to be another Supreme Court vacancy? A Mitch McConnell-led Senate would have every reason to wait it out until 2017 and a possible new Republican president.

Senate reform on the filibuster for nominees has helped correct a long-standing Republican imbalance on appellate courts, so there's that and it is significant. But there's still 50 district judgeships, and seven more appellate positions vacant. Apart from the courts, there's 46 would-be ambassadors waiting for votes right now, including in Turkey (kind of important at the moment) in eastern Europe, and in Africa.

If Republicans take the Senate back, getting these seats filled is going to take some administrative horse trading that will make the Michael Boggs nomination fiasco the norm rather than an aberration. If Democrats retain the Senate, Reid is going to have look hard at further filibuster reform to get these nominations finally confirmed.

10:00 Hurricane Odile Rides Up Baja Peninsula | Video» LiveScience.com
The category-3 hurricane crashes into Mexico's Baja Peninsula in this time-lapse video from the NOAA GOES-15 weather satellite.
09:11 Flawed Fracking Wells Taint Pennsylvania's Drinking Water» LiveScience.com
New research makes a direct link between Pennsylvania's tainted drinking water and leaky fracking wells in the Marcellus Shale.
08:19 Raw Video: Hurricane Odile Makes Landfall In Mexico» LiveScience.com
The powerful Hurricane Odile made landfall on the southern end of Mexico's Baja California peninsula near Cabo San Lucas Sunday night. Earlier video showed trees swaying in the storm's powerful winds. (Sept. 15)
08:04 Thousands of Kids Hospitalized Every Year After Ingesting Parents' Meds» LiveScience.com
Every year, more than 34,000 U.S. children go to the emergency room for accidentally ingesting prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers and anti-anxiety pills, and about 9,500 of these kids get hospitalized, a new study estimates.
07:23 MIT Robot Cheetah Sprints Up To 10 MPH, May Reach 30 MPH | Video » LiveScience.com
MIT researchers have assembled a robotic feline that weighs about the same as its real-life counterpart. It reached its current top speed during indoor track experiments.
07:00 New Daily Kos Elections interactive legislative maps for Georgia and South Carolina» Daily Kos

Today we have interactive state legislative district maps for Georgia and South Carolina, thanks to the presidential election results by district calculated by the team at Daily Kos Elections. Each legislative chamber is mapped out and color-coded according to the presidential winner and the party that holds each district, along with some info on each legislator. You can find links to all the previously released maps here, which you may want to bookmark.

Districts in solid blue were carried by Obama and are represented by a Democrat, while those in solid red were won by Mitt Romney and are held by a Republican. Lighter red districts voted for Obama and a Republican legislator while those in lighter blue went for Romney and a Democratic legislator. Note that the map displays use only the two-party vote to give you a more equivalent comparison between presidential and legislative results, but this post and Daily Kos Elections numbers include totals for third-party candidates, though the differences are minor.

Georgia State Senate

Georgia Republicans had total control over redistricting and used the process to lock in an advantage in the legislature and Congress. Obama won just 18 state Senate districts while Romney carried 38 and every seat voted for the same party for president and Senate giving Republicans a 38 to 18 majority. The median two seats went for Romney on average by a punishing 62 to 37, placing them a monstrous 18 points to the right of the state. All legislators serve two-year terms without term limits.

Georgia State House of Representatives

In the state House Obama carried 64 districts to 116 for Romney. Republicans hold all the Romney seats plus four Obama districts if you include the lone Republican-leaning independent, whose district is in light green, giving them a 120 to 60 majority which is the bare minimum to override vetoes. The median two seats voted for Romney by an average of 61 to 38 which was 15 percent more Republican than the state overall.

Head below the fold for South Carolina.

06:40 Photos: 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument in Israel» LiveScience.com
Photos reveal a lunar-crescent-shaped stone monument that dates back around 5,000 years. The monument, located near the Sea of Galilee Israel, predates the Great Pyramids.
06:39 In Photos: Ancient Egypt on Google Street View» LiveScience.com
Now you can explore Egypt's archaeological wonders on Google Street View.
06:08 Pro-War Talking Heads on TV Have Big Ties to Military Contractors » AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Shouldn’t the public know about these pundits' links to some of the largest military contractors in the world?

If you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as ISIS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle ISIS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane’s case, they will make more vague demands, such as for “offensive” air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.

But what you won’t learn from media coverage of ISIS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.

Keane is a great example of this phenomenon. His think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which he oversees along with neoconservative partisans Liz Cheney and William Kristol, has provided the data on ISIS used for multiple stories by The New York Times, the BBC and other leading outlets.

Keane has appeared on Fox News at least nine times over the last two months to promote the idea that the best way to stop ISIS is through military action—in particular, through air strikes deep into ISIS-held territory. In one of the only congressional hearings about ISIS over the summer, Keane was there to testify and call for more American military engagement. On Wednesday evening, Keane declared President Obama’s speech on defeating ISIS insufficient, arguing that a bolder strategy is necessary. “I truly believe we need to put special operation forces in there,” he told host Megyn Kelly.

Left unsaid during his media appearances (and left unmentioned on his congressional witness disclosure form) are Keane’s other gigs: as special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; as a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a “venture partner” to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an “operations management decision support system” company used in Air Force drone training; and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC.

To portray Keane as simply a think tank leader and a former military official, as the media have done, obscures a fairly lucrative career in the contracting world. For the General Dynamics role alone, Keane has been paid a six-figure salary in cash and stock options since he joined the firm in 2004; last year, General Dynamics paid him $258,006.

Keane did not immediately return a call requesting comment for this article.

Disclosure would also help the public weigh Keane’s policy advocacy. For instance, in his August 24 opinion column for The Wall Street Journal, in which he was bylined only as a retired general and the chairman of ISW, Keane wrote that “the time has come to confront the government of Qatar, which funds and arms ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas.” While media reports have linked fundraisers for ISIS with individuals operating in Qatar (though not the government), the same could be said about Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where many of the major donors of ISIS reportedly reside. Why did Keane single out Qatar and ignore Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Is it because his company, Academi, has been a major business partner to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar’s primary rival in the region?

Other examples abound.

In a Washington Post story about Obama’s decision not to deploy troops to combat ISIS, retired Marine General James Mattis was quoted as a skeptic. “The American people will once again see us in a war that doesn’t seem to be making progress,” Mattis told the paper. Left unmentioned was Mattis’s new role as Keane’s colleague on the General Dynamics corporate board, a role that afforded Mattis $88,479 in cash and stock options in 2013.

Retired General Anthony Zinni, perhaps the loudest advocate of a large deployment of American soliders into the region to fight ISIS, is a board member to BAE Systems’ US subsidiary, and also works for several military-focused private equity firms.

CNN pundit Frances Townsend, a former Bush administration official, has recently appeared on television calling for more military engagement against ISIS. As the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit that studies elite power structures, reported, Townsend “holds positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, and serves as an advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences.”

“Mainstream news outlets have a polite practice of identifying former generals and former congressmembers as simply ‘formers’—neglecting to inform the public of what these individuals are doing now, which is often quite pertinent information, like that they are corporate lobbyists or board members,” says Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College.

Media outlets might justify their omissions by reasoning that these pundits have merely advocated certain military strategies, not specific weapons systems, so disclosure of their financial stake in the policy need not be made. Yet the drumbeat for war has already spiraled into calls for increased military spending that lifts all boats—or non-operational jets for that matter.

When the Pentagon sent a recent $2 billion request for ramped-up operations in the Middle East, supposedly to confront the ISIS issue, budget detailsobtained by Bloomberg News revealed that officials asked for money for additional F-35 planes. The F-35 is not in operation and would not be used against ISIS. The plane is notoriously over budget and perpetually delayed—some experts call it the most expensive weapon system in human history—with a price tag now projected to be over $1 trillion. In July, an engine fire grounded the F-35 fleet and again delayed the planned debut of the plane. How it ended up in the Pentagon’s Middle East wish list is unclear.

“I think an inclination to use military action a lot is something the defense industry subscribes to because it helps to perpetuate an overall climate of permissiveness towards military spending,” says Ed Wasserman, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School for Journalism. Wasserman says that the media debate around ISIS has tilted towards more hawkish former military leaders, and that the public would be best served not only with better disclosure but also a more balanced set of opinions that would include how expanded air strikes could cause collateral civil casualties. ”The past fifty years has a lot of evidence of the ineffectiveness of air power when it comes to dealing with a more nimble guerrilla-type adversary, and I’m not hearing this conversation,” he notes.

The pro-war punditry of retired generals has been the subject of controversy in the past. In a much-cited 2008 exposé, The New York Timesrevealed a network of retired generals on the payroll of defense contractors who carefully echoed the Bush administration’s Iraq war demands through appearances on cable television. 

The paper’s coverage of the run-up to a renewed conflict in the region today has been notably measured, including many voices skeptical of calls for a more muscular military response to ISIS. Nonetheless, the Times has relied on research from a contractor-funded advocacy organization as part of its ISIS coverage. Reports produced by Keane’s ISW have been used to support six different infographics used for Times stories since June. The Times has not mentioned Keane’s potential conflict of interest or that ISW may have a vested stake in its policy positions. The Public Accountability Initiative notes that ISW’s corporate sponsors represent “a who’s who of the defense industry and includes Raytheon, SAIC, Palantir, General Dynamics, CACI, Northrop Grumman, DynCorp, and L-3 Communication.” As the business network CNBC reported this week, Raytheon in particular has much to gain from escalation in Iraq, as the company produces many of the missiles and radar equipment used in airstrikes.

In addition to providing reports and quotes for the media, ISW leaders have demanded a greater reaction to ISIS from the Obama administration. In The Weekly Standard this week, ISW president Kim Kagan wrote that President Obama’s call for a limited engagement against ISIS “has no chance of success.” 

ISW’s willingness to push the envelope has gotten the organization into hot water before. In 2013, ISW suffered an embarrassing spectacle when one of its analysts, Elizabeth O’Bagy, was found to have inflated her academic credentials, touting a PhD from a Georgetown program that she had never entered.

But memories are short, and the media outlets now relying heavily on ISW research have done little to scrutinize the think tank’s policy goals. Over the last two years, ISW, including O’Bagy, were forcefully leading the push to equip Syrian rebels with advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry to defeat Bashar al-Assad.

For Keane, providing arms to Syrian rebels, even anti-American groups, was a worthwhile gamble. In an interview with Fox Business Network in May of last year, Keane acknowledged that arming Syrian rebels might mean “weapons can fall into radical Islamists’ hands.” He continued, “It is true the radical Islamists have gained in power and influence mainly because we haven’t been involved and that is a fact, but it’s still true we have vetted some of these moderate rebel groups with the CIA, and I’m convinced we can—it’s still acceptable to take that risk, and let’s get on with changing momentum in the war.” 

That acceptable risk Keane outlined has come to fruition. Recent reports now indicate that US-made weapons sent from American allies in the region to Syrian rebels have fallen into the hands of ISIS.

Keane, and ISW, is undeterred. The group just put out a call for 25,000 ground troops in Iraq and Syria.


Related Stories

05:13 Economics Daily Digest: Violence against women is still a threat, abroad and at home» Daily Kos
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Hillary Clinton Seeks End to Gender Violence by Terrorist Groups (CBS News)

Clinton also spoke about issues of violence against women in the U.S., reports Hannah Fraser-Chanpong, reiterating her stance that domestic violence requires criminal, not cultural, responses.

White House Photo Ops, Old School (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow David Woolner says the new Ken Burns film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History highlights the interconnectedness of the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

Shareholders Say, ‘Show Me The Money’ (In These Times)

David Sirota explains the fight over corporate political spending disclosures. A proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule has significant public support – and plenty of corporate pushback.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Holmberg looks at the costs and benefits of mandating corporate political spending disclosure.

Workers Go on Strike at Hammond Automotive Seats Plant (Chicago Tribune)

The workers are "tired of being treated like fast-food industry employees," writes Alexandra Chachkevitch. They are asking for the elimination of a salary cap instituted during the financial crisis.

Workers in Maine Buy Out Their Jobs, Set an Example for the Nation (Truthout)

Rob Brown, Noemi Giszpenc, and Brian Van Slyke explain why the creation of the Island Employee Cooperative in Deer Isle, Maine is a particularly groundbreaking achievement.

New on Next New Deal

How Much are Local Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses Driven By the Feds? A Reply to Libertarians

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal counters libertarian arguments, showing that the profit motive is bottom-up: asset forfeiture in non-Federal cases is driven by local policy.

04:42 Pot Smokers Who Feel Down Light Up» LiveScience.com
People who smoke marijuana on a weekly or daily basis may use the drug to cope with negative emotions, such as distress and irritability, a new study suggests.
04:40 Calm Before the Quake? Turkey May Be Due for the Big One» LiveScience.com
A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater may be building up along a now-quiet fault on the coast of Istanbul, a new study finds.
04:37 Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in Israel» LiveScience.com
The lunar-crescent-shaped monument, which predates the Great Pyramids, has been identified near the Sea of Galilee. Archaeologists estimate it may have taken 200 ancient workers some five months to erect the massive stone structure.

Sun 14 September, 2014

21:32 Are the Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments conspiring to obstruct justice?» Daily Kos
Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson, Missouri, August 13, 2014. Police in Ferguson fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters late on Wednesday, on the fourth night of demonstrations over the fatal shooting last weekend
Paul Rosenberg asks the question:
Are the police departments of Ferguson and St. Louis County, Missouri, involved in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in the case of Michael Brown’s murder? It seems disturbingly possible, given their actions over the past month, hiding basic evidentiary information from the public in direct violation of the state’s sunshine laws—and  perhaps not even gathering it in the first place. This raises the further possibly that evidence is being hidden from criminal investigators as well, particularly since the investigators have shown no great interest, much less zeal, in getting to the truth of the matter.

On Aug. 15, the world saw Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson belatedly release Darren Wilson’s name—and no other information at all about the killing of Michael Brown—while at the same time releasing a report (followed by a video) on an unrelated robbery that Brown was apparently involved in. On Aug. 20 and 21, first St. Louis County, then Ferguson released incident reports on the shootings—reports virtually devoid of any information. These highly questionable revelations stirred a fair amount of public outrage, but few people seemed to realize how truly sinister they were, or how they connected to much broader patterns of official lawlessness that have long bedeviled St. Louis County, and Missouri more generally, as well as many other jurisdictions across the land.

Rosenberg refers to this report from TheBlot magazine:
The chief of police for the Ferguson Police Department misled members of the media and the public when he asserted that his hand was forced in releasing surveillance footage that purported to show 18-year-old resident Michael Brown engaged in a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store minutes before he was fatally shot by a police officer.
But there's a problem.
However, a review of open records requests sent to the Ferguson Police Department found that no news organization, reporter or individual specifically sought the release of the surveillance tape before police distributed it on Aug. 15.

Last month, TheBlot Magazine requested a copy of all open records requests made by members of the public—including journalists and news organizations—that specifically sought the release of the convenience store surveillance video. The logs, which were itself obtained under Missouri’s open records law, show only one journalist—Joel Currier with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch—broadly requested any and all multimedia evidence “leading up to” Brown’s death on Aug. 9.

Other records that would have been subject to Currier’s request, including 9-1-1 call recordings and police dispatch tapes, have yet to be formally released by the agency.

More beneath the fold.
16:22 Walking or Biking to Work May Make You Happier» LiveScience.com
Walking to work is not only good for your body; it may also benefit your psychological health, a new study from England suggests.
00:35 Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week» LiveScience.com
From strange aquatic dinosaurs to more to the story of Stonehenge, here are the most interesting stories we found in Science this week.

Sat 13 September, 2014

11:43 Spectacular Auroras Light Up Alaska Skies (Photos)» LiveScience.com
The solar storms currently affecting Earth have created stunning northern lights displays for skywatchers.
10:19 Enormous Balloon Will Carry Black Hole Hunting Telescope Aloft» LiveScience.com
Researchers from NASA and Washington University will launch a telescope called X-Calibur to measure X-rays from black holes.
09:56 Meat Is Killing Us -- Can the Frankenburger Save the Planet?» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
Is cultured meat the answer?

It was just over a year ago that the world’s first laboratory-grown hamburger was introduced to the world. The in-vitro meat (aka test tube meat, cultured meat, cruelty-free meat, and my favorite, “shmeat”) took four years to grow from cow stem cells and cost a meaty $332,000. Cultured in-vitro meat—or “frankenburger,” as the press dubbed it—is the brainchild of a Dutch biologist, Mark Post, of the University of Maastricht. The single burger, created from 20,000 strands of muscle tissue grown in petri dishes, got some lukewarm reviews. 

“It wasn’t unpleasant,” Chicago food writer Josh Schonwald wrote. More enthusiastically, food researcher Hanni Rutzler commented, “That’s some intense flavor.” Because the meat was cultured from muscle with no fat cells, it lacked juiciness, and was reminiscent of an overdone dry turkey burger. Still, the consensus was that it tasted better than expected, had the consistency of real meat, and for a first try, was not discouraging. Post told NBC News, “I’m very excited. It took a long time to get this far. I think this is a very good start.”

While anyone who has seen videos of the horrific conditions factory-farmed cows, pigs and chickens endure in their short, tortured lives might agree that in-vitro meat is a good idea, there's an even more pressing reason to figure out a way to grow meat: the production of meat on planet Earth is killing us. It takes up more than half of our agricultural capacity, and as the economies of China and other developing nations grow, and as their citizens demand more meat on their dinner tables, that capacity will be strained even further.

Here are some of the more staggering statistics:

  • Demand for meat is expected to grow by 60 percent in the next 40 years.
  • Cattle and other livestock now use over 30 percent of the entire land surface of the planet, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. About a third of all crops grown are used to feed that livestock.
  • The rainforests of the world are being bulldozed to create pastures for these animals, destroying the lungs of the earth. Cattle are the source of almost 10 percent of the CO2 choking our atmosphere and contributing to catastrophic global climate change.
  • Cattle manure contributes 65 percent of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere (which is 296 times more heat-trapping than CO2), and cow burps and farts are the source of 37 percent of the methane (23 times the power of CO2).
  • Twenty percent of the world’s pastures are already degraded from overgrazing, and the planet’s water supplies, already seriously stressed, are being severely damaged from runoff from animal waste and the pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other products used to grow feed crops for factory-farmed animals.

Already in the Gulf of Mexico, there is a dead zone the size of Massachusetts, the water so compromised that no fish can live in it. Combine this with the meat itself, often pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, not to mention potentially harmful bacteria due to the inadequate inspection protocol, and it all adds up to a catastrophe in the making.

Enter the in-vitro meat enthusiasts. A study at Oxford University demonstrated that the production of in-vitro meat is far more energy efficient than factory farming, and resulted in far fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Successfully growing meat would eliminate the enormous stresses factory farming puts on the environment, and it would meet the growing developing world's demand for meat.

While it is doubtful lab-grown meat could take the place of the real stuff at 300 grand a burger, that price could come down, drastically, as Mark Post and other scientists perfect the process and as a market begins to emerge for it. There is money behind the effort. Big money. Sergey Brin, the billionaire co-founder of Google, has largely funded the frankenburger initiative.

“He’s as determined as we are to make this happen,” Post told Time magazine. A year after the burger’s debut, Brin continues to fund the program, and Post’s team has grown. The goal is to produce meat indistinguishable from slaughterhouse meat. The color needs work as well as the taste and texture. The first burger was artificially colored (its natural color resembled chicken more than beef). Future lab burgers will be produced with a substance called myoglobin, the protein that makes red meat red. Scientists will grow fat tissues to make the burger juicier.

To bring the price down, they will need to grow the meat in a new medium. Currently it is grown in fetal bovine serum (FBS), which comes from unborn slaughterhouse calves. Aside from the animal welfare aspects of that fact, fetal bovine serum is extremely expensive. Various vegetable and yeast-based broths are being explored as alternatives.

Mark Post expects to come up with a viable lab burger within a couple years. At that point, he will hand off the project to people who will be responsible for expanding the operation, making it more widely available, even branding it. He has told the press that seven years is the target timeframe for the “frankenburger” to go mainstream. Well, not exactly mainstream. Don’t look for a McFrankenburger Happy Meal. Acceptance of cultured meat may take some time. Still, cultured meat products are not radically different from hot dogs or chicken nuggets, neither of which are exactly natural. Assuming it looks, feels and tastes like meat, the expectation is that environmentally conscious people will be the first to take up the cultured meat mantle, and as acceptance grows and demand increases, prices will hopefully plummet (a scenario currently being played out with electric cars).

Mark Post is not the only scientist working on cultured meat; another billionaire, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, has put his money behind a company called Modern Meadow, which is attempting to build a 3D printer that makes meat. Food companies are sniffing around the edges of in-vitro meat; they may smell money. Stay tuned.


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Fri 12 September, 2014

14:45 How Uber's Efforts to Squeeze Drivers Have Compelled Them to Fight Back» AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed
It seems Uber may be a bum deal for drivers and cabbies alike, threatening the future of full-time work.

Last week in Long Island City, a waterfront neighborhood in western Queens, over 1,000 Uber drivers went on strike, protesting against several recent policy changes that directly cut into their wages. LIC is cab country, home to countless car service companies, and it can sometimes feel like every passing vehicle is a taxi of some sort: a classic yellow cab, a town car, a green taxi or, more likely than not, a ridesharing car. So it came as no surprise that drivers who work for Uber—a smartphone app that connects drivers with people looking for a ride—chose the company’s Long Island City headquarters to protest their labor practices.

One driver grievance was the decision to extend a summer discount, where the base price for standard rides was slashed from $12 to $8, into the fall, requiring drivers to work more hours to make the same money. The other is slightly more complex, but just as damaging to workers’ earning potential. There are several distinct tiers of Uber service (UberX and Uber XL, the cheapest services offered in New York City, and UberBlack and UberSUV, the higher-end black car services), and drivers for the higher-end versions earn more, in part to compensate for the higher costs of their vehicles, which they must supply themselves. Without any advance warning, the company told drivers for “Black” and “SUV” that they would now be sent cheaper fares as well, and that declining those fares could lead to their deactivation from the service.

The coordinated outcry from their workers got Uber’s attention, and, in an abrupt turnaround late on Friday morning, the company sent a mass email to their New York drivers giving them permission to decide if and when to receive UberX requests. Though this conflict may seem like a minor technical issue, it speaks to the increasingly fraught dynamic between the San Francisco-based company and its international network of independently contracted drivers.

Uber has built its reputation on providing reliable, safe rides at any time and at any location in the urban centers where it operates. In 205 cities in 45 countries across the world, it is now possible to take out your phone, select a car from a map showing nearby Uber vehicles, and have a cab waiting at your doorstep in under five minutes. Because customers’ accounts are linked to their debit or credit cards, payment is seamless. The convenience and usability of the app have inspired devoted fans, and few would argue against the practicality of Uber and its ever-expanding list of peers, including Sidecar, Lyft, SheTaxis and Halo. But in their focus on customer service, ridesharing companies have pushed the concerns of their workers aside.  

* * * * *

Since it’s founding in 2009, Uber has become the poster child for the sharing economy, a nebulous concept that basically boils down to companies taking on the role of middlemen. Companies like Uber, Airbnb and Snapgoods use technology to connect people to various goods and services (apartments, cars, ball gowns, bikes) that they can rent temporarily. The sharing economy has been heralded as a resource-saving, efficient, collaborative system that allows people to make a profit from items they wouldn’t otherwise be using. In another light, it can be seen as a sign of our economically insecure times. People who don’t make enough at their day jobs can try to cover expenses by renting out an extra room of their apartments, or driving strangers around a few afternoons per week. It is evidence of the fragile finances of people who are underpaid for minimum wage work or cobbling together full-time schedules from an assortment of temporary and seasonal gigs.

Investors love this economic model, for obvious reasons. Because these service providers are tech companies first and foremost and do not own the products being rented, much of the business risk, from upkeep to scheduling, is shifted to the workers. Companies like Uber—which received a valuation of $18.2 billion back in June—can make enormous profits while washing their hands of any responsibility to their employees.

Uber has exploited their position as middleman in two principal ways, both of which have a serious impact on people who drive cabs for a living. One, they claim that they are “disrupting” the overly regulated, outmoded taxi industry in the name of competition and the free market. What goes unmentioned are the thousands of full-time taxi drivers, many of whom belong to associations that help them fight for decent wages and other benefits, being put out of work by the rise of ridesharing companies. Furthermore, for a company that so values competition, Uber has systematically worked to quash their rivals in cities across the country, engaging in underhanded tactics to poach drivers from other car services.

The other way Uber takes advantage of their middleman status is in their treatment of workers. Uber drivers are not technically considered employees. Instead, they are “independent contractors,” meaning that they don’t receive any of the benefits or protections employers are typically expected to provide. The company tries to play this both ways. On the one hand, they claim that Uber drivers—or “partners,” as they’re known—typically work part-time, and drive as a way to make some extra cash. Yet the company also markets itself as a job creator and promises drivers the opportunity to make up to $90,000 a year in places like New York—no one’s idea of pocket change, if it is in fact true. 

The contractor model has been tested by a number of corporations that want to do away with the inconvenience of having to be accountable to their labor force. In one recent example, FedEx Ground lost a landmark court case for misclassifying their drivers as “contractors,” saddling them with the burden of providing their own healthcare, FedEx-brand equipment, gas, insurance and much more. FedEx may now have to pay hundreds of millions in backpay. By shifting much of the risk and cost of operations onto the workers, companies like FedEx and Uber are relieved of the responsibility of dealing with the day-to-day hazards of running a business. In a blog post about the downsides of the sharing economy, Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute, a centrist think tank, writes:

“If someone gets sick in the car and that driver has to spend the rest of the day cleaning the car, that’s not Uber’s problem….The risks associated with illness, injury or just the ups and downs of customer demand are largely borne by workers.”

Uber drivers use their own vehicles, pay for their own gas, parking and repairs, receive no benefits or worker’s compensation, and, once they are hired, have hardly any interaction with the company for which they work. Taken together, these additional costs make a significant dent in what workers bring home at the end of the day. Yet the company and its acolytes promote Uber as a source of well-compensated, stable employment. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced last week that they are adding 50,000 new “driver jobs” each month, and they have hundreds of thousands of drivers in their network. In promotional materials, Uber brags that their drivers can make salaries in the upper five figures in particularly busy markets like New York and San Francisco, and that they earn far more on average than taxi drivers. This would all seem to imply that the company acknowledges that drivers operate vehicles for Uber as their primary source of income. As the recent protests in New York City (and Los Angeles, and Santa Monica) suggest, many of the people who work for Uber consider driving their full-time job and are struggling to make ends meet.

Yet the company also markets itself as a form of part-time employment, a stopgap measure between full-time jobs or a way for grad students or stay-at-home moms to make a few extra bucks. This is certainly the case for some drivers, who enjoy the ability to create their own schedules and serve as their own employers. Nina Beck, a sunny 26-year-old from the Bay Area, told me in a phone interview that she started working for Uber because she was getting married and needed a job with flexible hours. Maria Vargas, an Uber driver who lives in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, began working for the company when her kids moved out and she no longer needed to work at her full time job sewing for a garment factory.

“I love it,” she said. “You can go on vacations. They don’t care if you’re working or not. The money is never enough, but for me, it is.”

For many others, it is not. Haroon, a Pakistani immigrant who has been working for Uber for two years, told me that he works 12-hour shifts six days per week in order to support his wife and two young sons. Most of the drivers who he knows from Uber, and from a previous stint working for Lyft, work full-time, often clocking far more than 40 hours per week. Anyone hoping to earn a decent income as a ridesharing driver should expect to treat it as a full-time job, whether or not the company admits it. Though Uber is surely aware that casual part-time workers aren’t the reason the company has been able to move into scores of new markets at a blistering pace. No corporation would function with a labor force of individuals who only worked for an hour or two a day. Uber’s popularity is based on its reliability and availability, and the company needs knowledgeable, friendly drivers working on a steady basis to ensure that they maintain it.

Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, NYC’s union for yellow taxicab drivers, put it to me this way: “Ridesharing companies like Uber are informalizing driver labor. Throughout the world, whenever workers’ labor is deprofessionalized, they lose protections and rights…As much as Uber supporters talk about their model being something modern, I really think it seems quite backwards as far as workers’ rights are concerned.”

* * * * *

The ability to make “enough” as a ridesharing driver depends largely on where Uber drivers are located geographically. They can earn much more in cities with high customer demand, like San Francisco and DC, but the issue has become more complicated by Uber’s recent fare cuts. As a means of boosting ridership and offering customers the cheapest possible rates, Uber has drastically cut fares in many states, including New York and New Jersey. Customers are understandably thrilled by the cheaper prices, but a lower fare translates to a pay cut for drivers, who earn 80% of the cost of each Uber ride. The company says that drivers will benefit from this system since they will get many more trips as a result of the spike in rider interest. Drivers don’t seem so sure.

“You can’t keep cutting people’s rates in half and telling them, ‘Oh, you’re going to get twice as many customers!’” Jonathan Cousar, a part-time Uber driver who runs the website Uber Driver Diaries, told me in a phone interview. “There are only so many people that you can physically drive around in one hour. It basically translates to drivers doing more work for more time while making a smaller profit.” 

Another barrier to earning a decent wage is the surplus of drivers. Because Uber is desperate to prevent other ridesharing services from hiring new drivers, and because their business model relies on providing people with cab rides anywhere and at any time, the company has far more drivers than Uber workers say they actually need. This cuts into business both for traditional cab drivers and for ridesharing drivers. The Uber driver thread on Reddit is flooded with posts by drivers upset about their lack of trips. “I haven’t had a single fare this weekend (sixteen hours online),” user ImagineFreedom, who is based in San Antonio, fumed in a posting. “All of a sudden it seems like driver numbers have quadrupled and ads are still being posted for drivers.” On a recent afternoon, my Uber app showed six available cars in a two-block vicinity on a quiet corner in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights.

Cousar, who operates in northern New Jersey, told me that when he first joined the company, he easily made his goal of $500 per week to supplement the income he made from his web hosting business. But now it’s impossible to make that much thanks to the combination of fare cuts and the surplus of drivers on the road.

“It makes me wonder how reliable this is as a future full-time or even part-time income. They’ve already brought in far more drivers than the market can support, and they’re still recruiting so aggressively.”

This is where the lack of accountability comes in. Uber doesn’t care if drivers are only getting one fare an hour, as long as all of their customers are getting picked up on time. It’s not their problem if drivers have to work longer hours to make the same money, or to waste hours waiting around for a trip that never comes. Uber’s concerns are customer satisfaction and profit, and in those regards, they’re doing as well as any company could hope to.

* * * * *

If Uber drivers are fed up with this lack of consideration, traditional taxi drivers are in despair. The highly regulated industry has strict requirements that determine standards for licensing, rates and training. Uber isn’t subject to these regulations, meaning its drivers have a significant advantage over taxi drivers who have to comply with county and state regulations that specify when and how a for-hire car can be booked. Kalanick, the CEO, has scoffed at the taxi industry as a “protectionist scheme,” and blames excessive regulation for strangling competition in the field.

There is certainly some merit to his claims, and customers have plenty of legitimate complaints about the traditional cab industry (the difficulty of finding a ride at odd hours, high prices, a lack of options). Ask why people use Uber and they’ll respond with complaints about cabbies talking on the phone while driving, taking unnecessarily long routes to jack up the fare, or subjecting them to unwanted flirtations.

Beck, the San Francisco-based Uber driver, told me, “Personally I’m not really concerned about taxi drivers losing their jobs. I can’t tell you how many creepy cab drivers I’ve had in my life; it’s just like ‘good riddance.’ They never innovate. I guess that’s not the fault of individual cab drivers but the industry itself.”

This last line is key. Why are we blaming individual taxi drivers for the effects of strict regulations they had no part in creating? And isn’t it a bit unfair for people to write off an entire industry based on a few negative experiences? Imagine passing judgment on the food service industry based on the one time a waiter happened to be rude to you. Moreover, most of the regulations that “encumber” the taxi industry are designed to protect consumers. Taxi commissions exist to control fares, enforce training, licensing and safety standards for drivers, and to provide a platform for customers to file complaints or report lost property. Most of the negative press about Uber has involved customer complaints: female riders being sexually harassed by drivers or passengers being charged exorbitant rates under the surge pricing system, where fares go up, sometimes dramatically, during times of increased demand. In August, Uber riders in San Francisco took to social media to rail against the $400-plus fees they were being charged to get to and from a popular local music festival. Clearly, consumers expect some degree of liability and oversight from the companies with which they do business.

So who are the people who are so vigorously applauding Uber’s fight against industry requirements? A March Daily Beast article, which recounts a visit from Republican Senator Marco Rubio to Uber’s DC office, gives us some indication.

“Regulation,” Rubio told the gathered group of Uber employees, “should never be a weapon used by connected and established industry to crowd out innovation and competition, and this is a real world example.”

* * * * *

Uber’s cutthroat tactics are not restricted to the taxi industry. In a remarkable scoop at The Verge, Casey Newton details the underhanded methods the company uses to hurt the business of other ridesharing services. The anecdotes read like the pages of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except instead of sending spies to steal recipes from rival candy manufacturers, Uber sends undercover “brand ambassadors” to convince drivers from Lyft and Sidecar to switch companies. Their campaign against Lyft, their main competitor, is particularly underhanded and systematic. CNN reported in August that the company had employees around the country order and then cancel 5,560 Lyft rides, disrupting the company’s operations and causing Lyft drivers to lose business.

Cousar, the Jersey-based driver and blogger, expressed his discomfort with these aggressive tactics. “I think they’ve done some terrible things. From a moral standpoint they make me cringe, and they make me less proud and more leery about working with them.”

For now, at least, the legality of Uber’s tactics hasn’t been seriously questioned. As any defender of the company will tell you, all competing companies try to hire each other’s workers and undercut each other’s business. But Uber is already the colossus of the ridesharing industry, with a budget and international presence that far surpass any of its rivals. Though Kalanick and other Uber reps constantly preach the gospel of competition to reporters, their methods are as anti-competitive as they come. As Andrew Leonard at Salon puts it, “There’s little doubt that Uber is the closest thing we’ve got today to the living, breathing essence of unrestrained capitalism….This is how robber barons play.”

After all, wasn’t the whole reason that Uber came into being to shake up the taxi industry monopoly and open it up to new ideas and innovations? Basic economics tells us that competition is essential to provide companies with an incentive to keep prices reasonable, ensure quality and moderate supply. So do we really want Uber to be our only option?

People lover Uber because it’s reasonably priced, it’s reliable and it’s easy to use. But we love plenty of products and services that depend upon the exploitation of workers: disposable fashion from H&M and Forever 21, fast food from Wendy’s, discount furniture ordered on Amazon. The traditional taxi industry may suffer from an excess of regulation, but regulations exist for a reason. If we want workers to be protected from exploitation, have stable, full-time jobs, and benefit from decent working conditions, we need to treat them like the employees that they are. If Uber turns out to be the industry-transforming technology it claims to be and becomes the new universal model for hiring taxis, we need to seriously consider some of these questions. Because if the sharing economy is the way of the future, the future of full-time, permanent work is at stake. 


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07:00 New Daily Kos Elections interactive legislative maps for Connecticut and Montana» Daily Kos

Today we have interactive state legislative district maps for Connecticut and Montana, thanks to the presidential election results by district calculated by the team at Daily Kos Elections. Each legislative chamber is mapped out and color-coded according to the presidential winner and the party that holds each district, along with some info on each legislator. You can find links to all the previously released maps here, which you may want to bookmark.

Districts in solid blue were carried by Obama and are represented by a Democrat, while those in solid red were won by Mitt Romney and are held by a Republican. Lighter red districts voted for Obama and a Republican legislator while those in lighter blue went for Romney and a Democratic legislator. Note that the map displays use only the two-party vote to give you a more equivalent comparison between presidential and legislative results, but this post and Daily Kos Elections numbers include totals for third-party candidates, though the differences are minor.

Connecticut State Senate

Despite Democrats having total control of state government, redistricting was required to be handled by a bipartisan commission which resulted in compromise. All legislators serve two-year terms without term limits.

Obama carried 30 districts to just six for Romney, but Republicans hold all the Romney districts plus an additional eight Obama districts, producing an overall majority of 22 Democrats to 14 Republicans. The median two districts went for Obama 57 to 41 on average, placing them just one point to the right of the state.

Connecticut State House of Representatives

Similarly the state House saw Obama win 119 districts while just 32 voted for Romney. However 22 Republicans sit in Obama seats while only two Democrats hold a Romney district, resulting in a Democratic majority of 97 to 54. The median district went for Obama by 56 to 42 which was three percent more Republican than the state.

Head below the fold for Montana.

Tue 02 September, 2014

05:08 On arguing by analogy» RealClimate
Climate blogs and comment threads are full of ‘arguments by analogy’. Depending on what ‘side’ one is on, climate science is either like evolution/heliocentrism/quantum physics/relativity or eugenics/phrenology/Ptolemaic cosmology/phlogiston. Climate contrarians are either like flat-earthers/birthers/moon-landing hoaxers/vaccine-autism linkers or Galileo/stomach ulcer-Helicobacter proponents/Wegener/Copernicus. Episodes of clear misconduct or dysfunction in other spheres of life are closely parsed only […]
04:58 Unforced variations: September 2014» RealClimate
This month’s open thread. People could waste time rebunking predictable cherry-picked claims about the upcoming Arctic sea ice minimum, or perhaps discuss a selection of 10 climate change controversies from ICSU… Anything! (except mitigation).

Wed 27 August, 2014

06:45 IPCC attribution statements redux: A response to Judith Curry» RealClimate
I have written a number of times about the procedure used to attribute recent climate change (here in 2010, in 2012 (about the AR4 statement), and again in 2013 after AR5 was released). For people who want a summary of what the attribution problem is, how we think about the human contributions and why the […]

Wed 13 August, 2014

17:03 How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia?» RealClimate
Siberia has explosion holes in it that smell like methane, and there are newly found bubbles of methane in the Arctic Ocean. As a result, journalists are contacting me assuming that the Arctic Methane Apocalypse has begun. However, as a climate scientist I remain much more concerned about the fossil fuel industry than I am […]

Tue 05 August, 2014

06:58 Unforced variations: Aug 2014» RealClimate
This month’s open thread. Keeping track of the Arctic sea ice minimum is interesting but there should be plenty of other climate science topics to discuss (if people can get past the hype about the Ebola outbreak or imaginary claims about anomalous thrusting). As with last month, pleas no discussion of mitigation strategies – it […]

Thu 10 July, 2014

01:49 Rossby waves and surface weather extremes» RealClimate
A new study by Screen and Simmonds demonstrates the statistical connection between high-amplitude planetary waves in the atmosphere and extreme weather events on the ground. Guest post by Dim Coumou There has been an ongoing debate, both in and outside the scientific community, whether rapid climate change in the Arctic might affect circulation patterns in […]

Sun 06 July, 2014

07:05 Release of the International Surface Temperature Initiative’s (ISTI’s) Global Land Surface Databank, an expanded set of fundamental surface temperature records» RealClimate
Guest post by Jared Rennie, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, North Carolina on behalf of the databank working group of the International Surface Temperature Initiative In the 21st Century, when multi-billion dollar decisions are being made to mitigate and adapt to climate change, society rightly expects openness and transparency in climate science to enable […]

Wed 02 July, 2014

06:55 Unforced variations: July 2014» RealClimate
This month’s open thread. Topics of potential interest: The successful OCO-2 launch, continuing likelihood of an El Niño event this fall, predictions of the September Arctic sea ice minimum, Antarctic sea ice excursions, stochastic elements in climate models etc. Just for a change, no discussion of mitigation efforts please!

Sun 01 June, 2014

16:35 Unforced variations: June 2014» RealClimate
June is the month when the Arctic Sea Ice outlook gets going, when the EPA releases its rules on power plant CO2 emissions, and when, hopefully, commenters can get back to actually having constructive and respectful conversations about climate science (and not nuclear energy, impending apocalypsi (pl) or how terrible everyone else is). Thanks.

Thu 08 May, 2014

06:39 El Niño or Bust» RealClimate
Guest commentary from Michelle L’Heureux, NOAA Climate Prediction Center Much media attention has been directed at the possibility of an El Niño brewing this year. Many outlets have drawn comparison with the 1997-98 super El Niño. So, what are the odds that El Niño will occur? And if it does, how strong will it be? […]

Tue 15 October, 2013

Sun 22 September, 2013

06:34 The Last Post» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

The Oil Drum (TOD) was an internet energy phenomenon that ran for over eight years from April 2005 to September 2013. The site was founded by Prof. Goose (also known as Professor Kyle Saunders of Colorado State University) and Heading Out (also known as Professor Dave Summers formerly of the Missouri University of Science and Technology).

The site took off with the advent of Hurricane Rita in September 2005 and resulted in the first 200+ comment event, indicating that there was demand for a site where concerned citizens could gather round a camp fire to discuss events impacting their energy supplies and ultimately, their well being. In eight years, >960,000 comments have been posted. Two other energy linked disasters, the Deepwater Horizon blowout and the Fukushima Daiichi reactor melt downs would see readership soar to >75,000 unique visits per day.

These pages have hosted over 7,500 articles covering every aspect of the global energy system. It was not unusual for a post to attract over 600 comments, many of which were well informed and contained charts and links to other internet sources. The site would become known for a uniquely high level of discourse where armchair analysts of all stripes added their knowledge to threads in a courteous, and ultimately pro-social way that energy experts at hedge funds, corporations or universities might not have the freedom to do. It is this emergent property of smart people sharing knowledge on a critical topic to humanity's future that will be missed.

The site was built on twin backbones that would often pull the readership in opposite directions. Drumbeats, edited by Leanan (who remains anonymous to this day) provided daily energy news digest and a forum for debate. And articles, written by a legion of volunteer writers, that strove to provide a more quantitative analysis of global energy supplies and the political, social and economic events that lay behind them. All the content would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Super G, our site engineer, who maintained and updated software and hardware as the site grew and evolved for over eight years on a voluntary basis.

In the course of 2013, a decision was made to archive The Oil Drum and the main purpose of this Last Post is to provide some direction to new and future readers of the vast content it contains. The main contributors are listed below along with links to where their writings can be now be found. If you are looking for content there are two main options. The first is to look for author specific content where clicking on the live hyper linked name of the contributor will take you to a page giving access to all the content produced by that author. The second option is to use the Advanced Search facility at the top left of this page. Simply enter a few key words and this will return a page of the most relevant articles.

Editorial board

Arthur Berman (aeberman) Arthur E. Berman is a petroleum geologist with 35 years of oil and gas industry experience. He worked 20 years for Amoco (now BP) and 15 years as consulting geologist. He gives keynote addresses for energy conferences, boards of directors and professional societies. He has been interviewed about oil and gas topics on CBS, CNBC, CNN, Platt’s Energy Week, BNN, Bloomberg, Platt’s, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

He was a managing editor and frequent contributor of theoildrum.com, and an associate editor of the AAPG Bulletin. He is a Director of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, and has served on the boards of directors of The Houston Geological Society and The Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. He has published more than 100 articles on petroleum geology. He has done expert witness and research work on several oil and gas trial and utility commission hearings.

He has an M.S. (Geology) from the Colorado School of Mines and a B.A. (History) from Amherst College.

Nate Hagens is a well-known speaker on the big picture related to the global macroeconomy. Nate's presentations address opportunities and constraints we face in the transition away from growth based economies as fossil fuels become more costly. On the supply side, Nate focuses on biophysical economics (net energy) and the interrelationship between money and natural resources. On the demand side, Nate addresses the behavioral underpinnings to conspicuous consumption and offers suggestions on how individuals and society might better adapt to the end of growth. He will be writing at themonkeytrap.us.

Nate has appeared on PBS, BBC, ABC, NPR, and has lectured around the world. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers. Nate is the former President of the Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future (non-profit publisher of The Oil Drum), is current US Director of the Institute for Integrated Economic Research, and serves on the Board of the Post Carbon Institute. Nate also served as the lead editor of the Oil Drum for several years.

Rembrandt Koppelaar has since 2010 been a Research Associate at the Swiss Institute for Integrated Economic Research (IIER), where he works on modelling of costs of resource and energy flows. Since June 2012 he combines this with a PhD research position at Imperial College London, to contribute to a spatial simulation of the resource flows of an economy at a micro-level using agent-based approaches. He joined the Oil Drum in 2006 first as a contributor and later as an editor, triggering by his concern in oil depletion. An interest that also led him to establish and become President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas Netherlands from 2006 to 2010. He is author of the book “De Permanente Oliecrisis” discussing the end of cheap oil and its consequences (Dutch language, Nieuw Amsterdam publishers, 2008). Rembrandt holds a BSc and MSc in economics from Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Brian Maschhoff (JoulesBurn) earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico and a Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Arizona. He has worked at several academic institutions and government laboratories, and currently engages in a wide variety of scientific and technical pursuits including web-based education, data visualization, and research on salmon recovery. His research on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia is also posted at Satellite o'er the Desert. He also blogs at Picojoule, and he might eventually be found @joulesburn on Twitter.

Euan Mearns has B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in geology from The University of Aberdeen. Following an academic career in Norway and a business career in Scotland I took time off work in 2005 to help care for two sons and two dogs and to allow my wife's career to blossom. In 2006, wondering why the oil price and the value of my oil stocks kept going up I stumbled upon the The Oil Drum that provided unique insight, at that time, into The Earth energy system. Feeling the need to put something back I submitted a couple of articles and have since written roughly 100 posts and hosted many guest posts from worthy authors.

In 2009 I was appointed as Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Aberdeen and teach occasional courses there. For the last 7 years, writing and editing articles for The Oil Drum has consumed a fair portion of my time, but I have in return learned a huge amount. I also continue to work as a consultant for the oil industry. The focus of my interest is the importance of energy to society, society's response to the infrastructure and secondary impacts of energy provision and the political response. I plan to continue writing about Energy, Environment and Policy at Energy Matters.

New post, 8th October: UK North Sea Oil Production Decline
New post 18th November: Marcellus shale gas Bradford Co Pennsylvania: production history and declines
New post, 28th November: What is the real cost of shale gas?
New post, 9th December: OPEC oil production update July 2013
New post, 18th December: OECD oil production update July 2013
New post, 3rd January: Global Oil Supply Update July 2013
New post, 6th January: The Primary Energy Tale of Two Continents

Paul Sears was born in the UK, and did a Ph.D. in chemistry at Cambridge. Since first coming to Canada on a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in 1973, he has worked at the University of Toronto and in the Canadian Federal Government in Ottawa. Most of his work since the mid 1970s has been on the supply and use of energy in one form or another. His interest in the limitations to oil supply dates back to about 1962, when he was at school watching a promotional film from an oil company. The subject of the film was oil exploration, and this caused him to wonder about the dependence of our society on oil and the limits to supply. Other interests are canoeing, kayaking, skiing, hiking, camping, keeping planted aquaria and learning Mandarin Chinese. Sadly, Paul Sears passed away on September 13, 2012. You can read an obituary here.

Dave Summers who writes under the pen name, "Heading Out", comes from a family that for at least nine generations has been coal miners, and he started his working life, as an Indentured Apprentice, in 1961 shoveling coal on one of the last hand-won coal faces in the UK at Seghill, after a few weeks supplying that face with the help of a pit pony. With bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Leeds University in the UK he moved to Rolla, Missouri and Missouri University of Science and Technology (then UMR) in 1968. He was named Curators’ Professor of Mining Engineering in 1980 and for many years directed the Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center at MS&T. His main work has been in the developing use of high-pressure water for cutting, cleaning and demilitarization. As one of the quiet revolutions that has crept into industry during his career, his research group worked in nuclear cleanup, rocket motors, and surgical applications as well as developing tools to cut, drill and mine more mundane rock, coal and metals. The team carved the half-scale Stonehenge out of Georgia granite, using only water, and later cut Edwina Sandy’s Millennium Arch from Missouri granite, both of which are on the MS&T campus. They also used the technique in a demonstration excavation that resulted in creating the OmniMax theater under the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

He retired from the University, and was named Emeritus in 2010, and lives quietly with his wife Barbara, with occasional commutes to visit their children, located on the two coasts very far from rural America.

In 2004 he began to write a blog, and in 2005 teamed with Kyle Saunders to jointly found The Oil Drum, a site for “discussions on energy and our future.” He now writes on energy, the applications of waterjets, a little on the use of the 3D modeling program Poser, and occasionally on climate matters. His blog, where the Tech Talks continue, can be found at Bit Tooth Energy. He again thanks all those who have contributed to The Oil Drum over the years and wishes them joy and prosperity in their futures!

Dr. David Archibold Summers has written numerous articles, a textbook, Waterjetting Technology, and jointly holds several patents, the last two of which have been licensed and deal a) with the use of waterjets to remove skin cancer and b) for high speed drilling of small holes through the earth.

Gail Tverberg (Gail the Actuary) became interested in resource limits and how these affect insurance companies and the economy more generally in 2005. She began writing about this issue while working as a property-casualty actuarial consultant at Towers Watson. In 2007, she took early retirement to work specifically on the issue of oil limits.

Between 2007 and its suspension in 2013, Gail worked as a contributor and editor at TheOilDrum.com. She also started her own blog, OurFiniteWorld.com, where she continues to write on a regular basis. Her writings include Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis, published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy in January 2012. She has spoken at at many conferences on subjects related to oil limits, including both academic and actuarial conferences. She now plans to write a book, tentatively called "Discontinuity Ahead: How Oil Limits Affect the Economy."

Gail worked for CNA Insurance prior to joining Tillinghast (which eventually became part of Towers Watson) in 1981. She has a BA in Mathematics from St. Olaf College and an MS in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

Her Twitter feed is @gailtheactuary.

Chris Vernon originally graduated with a masters degree in computational physics before working for ten years in the field of mobile telecoms specialising in radio network architecture and off-grid power systems in emerging markets. He subsequently returned to university to take an MSc in Earth system science and a PhD in glaciology focusing on the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet. Chris is a trustee at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, works for the UK Met Office and maintains a personal web page.

Selected contributors

Big Gav studied Engineering at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Since then he has travelled widely and worked in the oil and gas, power generation, defence, technology and banking industries. He has been blogging about peak oil for almost 3 years at Peak Energy (Australia) and is probably the most prolific example of a techno-optimist in the peak oil world. He may be alone in thinking that peak oil represents a great opportunity to switch to a clean energy based world economy, rather than the trigger for the end of industrial civilisation.

Jason Bradford is currently a Farm Manager in Corvallis, OR and a Managing Partner for a sustainable farmland fund, Farmland LP. Most of his writing for The Oil Drum occurred while he lived in Willits, CA, where he was instrumental in the founding of Willits Economic Localization, hosted a radio program called "The Reality Report," and was a board member of the local Renewable Energy Development Institute. He also founded and ran a small farm at a local elementary school with a lot of community support and the backing of The Post Carbon Institute, where he is currently a board member. His brief but enjoyable academic career began at Washington University in St. Louis and the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), where he taught courses in Ecology and from which he received a doctorate in Evolution and Population Biology in 2000. After graduation he was hired by the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at MBG, and between 2001 and 2004 secured grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society for multi-disciplinary research on issues related to species extinction and ecosystem function. His "aha moment" came during this research period where the connections between environmental decline, resource consumption, economic growth, belief systems and institutional inertia led to a dramatic change in the course of his life's work.

He continues to blog at Farmland LP.

David Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department and an Associate of the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy, both at Northern Illinois University. He serves also as an Environmental Policy Analyst for the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Murphy’s research focuses on the intersection of energy, economics, and the environment. Recently, his work has focused on estimating how the extraction of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale has impacted the provision of ecosystem services from the local environment. In addition, he researches how the energy return on investment from oil is related to oil price and economic growth. Dr. Murphy's work for Argonne National Laboratory addresses the environmental impacts associated with energy development.

He tweets: @djmurphy04

Robert Rapier works in the energy industry and writes and speaks about issues involving energy and the environment. He is Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President at Merica International, a forestry and renewable energy company involved in a variety of projects around the world. Robert has 20 years of international engineering experience in the chemicals, oil and gas, and renewable energy industries, and holds several patents related to his work. He has worked in the areas of oil refining, natural gas production, synthetic fuels, ethanol production, butanol production, and various biomass to energy projects. Robert is the author of Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil. He is also the author of the R-Squared Energy Column at Energy Trends Insider. His articles on energy and sustainability have appeared in numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, and Forbes.

Jeff Vail (jeffvail) is an energy intelligence analyst and former US Air Force intelligence officer. He has a B.S. in engineering and history from the US Air Force Academy and a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. His interests are in global energy geopolitics and the the "rhizome" theory of social and economic organization. He is the author of the political anthropology book A Theory of Power and maintains a blog at http://www.jeffvail.net.

Jérôme à Paris is an investment banker in Paris, specialised in structured finance for energy projects, in particular in the wind power sector. After graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, he wrote his Ph.D. in economics in 1995 on the independence of Ukraine, with a strong focus on the gas relationship between Ukraine and Russia, and he worked on financings for the Russian oil & gas industry for several years after that. He is the editor of the European Tribune, a community website on European politics and energy issues. He has written extensively about energy issues, usually from an economic or geopolitical angle for the European Tribune and for DailyKos where he led a collective effort to draft an energy policy for the USA, Energize America.

Rune Likvern After Rune's first time seeing The Oil Drum (TOD and Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future; ISEOF), in 2005 he created an account as nrgyman2000 and later got an invitation to become part of the staff of volunteer writers at what was then TOD Europe. In 2008 he started to post under his real name.

He is a Norwegian presently living in Norway and holding a masters degree from what is now the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. For more than two decades he was employed in various positions by major international oil companies, primarily Statoil, working with operations, field/area developments (in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea) and implementation (primarily logistics) of Troll Gas Sales Agreement (TGSA) which is about natural gas deliveries to European customers. This was followed by a period as an independent energy (oil/gas fields assessments, cash flow analysis, portfolio analysis etc.) consultant and as VP for an energy hedge fund in New York. In recent years he had a sabbatical to do more in depth research, reading and participating in discussions about energy, biology (what makes human {brains} what they are and why), and not least financial and economic subjects in several global forums as well as some advisory work.

Presently he is looking for gainful employment/engagements.

He also posts on his blog Fractional Flow
(primarily in Norwegian, but some future posts are planned for in English).

Phil Hart studied Materials Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne before spending five years with Shell UK Exploration and Production, based in Aberdeen, Scotland. He worked on two new North Sea oil and gas field development projects followed by a stint with the Brent field maintenance team as a corrosion engineer. In late 2006, Phil returned to Melbourne and was for a while an active member of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil. He provided many briefings to government, business and community audiences and is still available for presentations around Melbourne and Victoria. Phil now works primarily in the water industry but consults as required for The Institute for Sensible Transport as well. He is also a keen astronomer and night sky photographer: www.philhart.com.

Luís Alexandre Duque Moreira de Sousa (Luís de Sousa) is a researcher at the Public Research Institute Henri Tudor in Luxembourg and a Ph.D. student in Informatics Engineering at the Technical University of Lisbon. Luís created the first Portuguese language website dedicated to Peak Oil in 2005 (PicoDoPetroleo.net); in 2006 he would be one of the founders of ASPO-Portugal and later that year integrated the team that started the European branch of The Oil Drum. Since then he has continuously written about Energy and its interplay with Politics and Economics, both in English and Portuguese. Luís is a regular presence at the collective blog European Tribune and writes on the broader issues of life on his personal blog AtTheEdgeOfTime.

Sat 21 September, 2013

14:34 The House That Randy Built» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

One of the nice aspects of the 7+ years I have been involved with The Oil Drum has been attending conferences and meeting with some of my cyber friends, who by and large figure among the nicest bunch of folks I ever met. In 2007 I attended the ASPO meeting in Houston and it was then that I met Randy Udall for the first time. Well you know what some Americans are like - you meet, you chat a while, discover you get along, down a couple of beers and before you know it you are invited to go visit. And so it was with Randy Udall....

The house that Randy built, sunk low in the Colorado terrain, provides shelter from winter storms and from exposure to summer sun. Photovoltaics, solar hot water (on the roof) and a single wood burner (chimney) provides all the energy needs.

Three years later, my wife and I had a trip planned to the States to go visit Dave Rutledge (another cyber mate) at his mountain lodge in New Mexico and I thought it would be cool to visit Randy en route. We exchanged a couple of emails, he warned that his wife Leslie was cautious about some of his friends coming to stay and that his son once claimed that the family lived in a "mud hut" and by now I was wondering if this was such a good idea. But plans were made and we went to stay with Randy in Colorado for a couple of days in August 2011; on arrival, any trepidation melted away.

A "mud hut", not quite. The stucco exterior finish covers thick foam insulation that in turn covers compressed earth (adobe) blocks. This provides protection from winter cold and summer heat, and thermal inertia from the large temperature swings prevalent in this part of the world.

At first sight Randy's house did indeed have the feel of a "mud hut" but upon entering the reality of a beautifully and lovingly crafted passive house unfolded. I was astonished to learn that Randy had designed and built every inch of this house himself, including the manufacture of every compressed earth brick and the hammering in of every nail - in neat serried ranks.

I wish I had recorded the vital statistics but the mass of bricks was carefully calculated to provide thermal inertia, keeping the house warm in winter but cool in summer. I was also very surprised to learn that all of the insulation was on the outside of the masonry structure which is the opposite of the way we build our houses in the UK. South-facing windows collect wintertime solar energy and the adobe block walls and brick floors soak up much of that heat energy, keeping the home warm through cold nights. During the summer, just opening the windows at night cools off the massive floors and walls, helping the house stay cool during hot days. Putting the insulation on the outside of the exterior walls is the only way to make this adobe wall strategy work effectively.

The house was set low in the terrain, providing protection from winter storms and from the worst excesses of summer heat. Outside you find a large solar PV array, providing a surplus of electricity and solar hot water arrays on the south facing roofs providing all the hot water required and, if my memory serves correctly, some interior heating during winter time.

The rather plain exterior gave way, inside, to simple, beautifully crafted, elegance.

Every timber cut and every nail hammered by one man. This is a masterpiece that will hopefully endure.

Inside, beautiful craftsmanship provides simple but elegant living space to match the view of Mount Sopris that dominated the surrounding landscape. Not many of us leave a lasting legacy. Randy has left memories of a wonderful and thoughtful teacher and a house that will hopefully stand as a testimony to his passion for sustainable living for centuries to come.

The view out of the front window wasn't that bad either. Mount Sopris (3,952 m /12,965 ft) offered Randy and his family fantastic walking, climbing and ski mountaineering opportunities.

Renewable energy and renewable transport. I am seldom pleased with the pictures I take, but there is something about this one I really like.

On the second evening of our visit, we dined with the local mayor and downed a few glasses of red. Randy may look pensive but he is actually looking at his lap top, has my credit card and is planning a road trip for us through Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon en route to New Mexico, one of the best trips my wife and I have ever made. He knew this area like the back of his hand.

To some, this house and lifestyle may seem fabulously exuberant. But the house, in fact, was built for a relatively tiny amount of money with most of the cost coming by way of blood, sweat, tears, knowledge and love of a vision for the future. These Udalls lived a simple life with a very strong sense of community involvement.

Most folks who read these pages will already know that in June of this year Randy died aged 61 of natural causes while hiking alone in the Wind River range of Wyoming, hunting for wild trout. The tragedy here is that he was snatched from his family and the sustainable living community he championed 10 to 20 years prematurely.

Thank you to Leslie Udall for consent to publish this article and to Steve Andrews for some useful editorial comments.

Thu 19 September, 2013

21:27 Twenty (Important) Concepts I Wasn't Taught in Business School - Part I» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

Twenty-one years ago I received an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago. The world became my oyster. Or so it seemed. For many years I achieved status in the metrics popular in our day ~ large paychecks, nice cars, travel to exotic places, girlfriend(s), novelty, and perhaps most importantly, respect for being a 'successful' member of society. But it turns out my financial career, shortlived as it was, occurred at the tail end of an era ~ where financial markers would increasingly decouple from the reality they were created to represent. My skill of being able to create more digits out of some digits, (or at least being able to sell that likelihood), allowed me to succeed in a "turbo" financial system that would moonshot over the next 20 years. For a short time I was in the 1% (and still am relative to 'all humans who have ever lived'). Being in the 1% afforded me an opportunity to dig a little deeper in what was really going on (because I quit, and had time to read and think about things for 10 years). It turns out the logic underpinning the financial system, and therefore my career, was based on some core flawed assumptions that had 'worked' in the short run but have since become outdated, putting societies at significant risks.

Around 30% of matriculating undergraduate college students today choose a business major, yet 'doing business' without knowledge of biology, ecology, and physics entirely circumvents first principles of how our world really works ~ my too long but also too short summary of the important things I wasn't taught in business school is below.

The Blind men and the Elephant, by Rudyard Kipling

Business as usual as we know it, with economics as its guide and financial metrics as its scorecard, is in its death throes. The below essay is going to appear critical of finance and the nations (world's) business schools. But it is too, critical, of our entire educational system. However, physicists, plumbers and plowmen do not have the same pull with respect to our cultural goals and narrative that financial folk do - as such an examination of the central assumptions driving society is long overdue. But before I point out what I didn't learn in MBA school, I want to be fair - I did learn things of ‘value’ for the waters I would swim in the future: statistics, regression, how to professionally present and to facilitate meetings, and some useful marketing concepts. Of course, like any 20 something student, 1/2 of the value of graduate school is learning to interact with the group of people that will be your peers, and the relationships and contacts that develop. Plus the placement office was very helpful in getting us jobs as well.

The culture at Salomon Brothers impressed me the most and I landed in their Private Investment Department, where we were basically stockbrokers for the uber-rich - as a trainee I wasn't allowed to call on anyone worth less than $50 million (in 1993). After Salomon shut our department down I went to a similar job at Lehman Brothers. At Lehman I increasingly felt like a high paid car salesmen and after 2 years quit to go work for a client, develop trading algorithms on commodities and eventually started my own small fund. But increasingly, instead of trading or trying to grow my business I found myself reading about oil, history, evolution and ecological issues. It really bothered me that 'externalities' were not priced into our goods or profits. One day, on a hike, it struck me that what I was doing felt spiritually hollow and despite it ‘paying the bills’ I began to realize I was more interested in learning about how the world worked and maybe doing something about improving it. In 2002 I gave my clients their money back, embarked on basically a 2 year hiking trip with my dog, and a car full of books. Eventually I would obtain a PhD in Natural Resources, but like many of you my real degree was obtained on this site, interacting with the many and varied people I met and continue to call friends and mentors. I am continuing to work on, or at least think about, making the near and long term future better, despite the tall odds, while living on a small farm in Wisconsin. More on this below.

In the years that have passed, modern society has become a crazy mélange of angst, uncertainty and worry. Many of us intuitively recognize that we’ve constructed a ginormous Rube Goldberg machine which for a number of reasons may not continue to crank out goods and services for the next 30-40 years. We blame this and that demographic for our declining prospects – the Republicans, the environmentalists, the greedy rich, the lazy poor, the immigrants, the liberals, etc. We blame this and that country or political system – evil socialists, heartless capitalists, Chinese, Syrians, Europeans, etc. We watch TV and internet about the latest ‘news’ influencing our world yet are not entirely confident of the connections. But underlying all this back and forth are some first principles, which are only taught piecemeal in our schools, if at all. Below is a short list of 20 principles underpinning today’s global ‘commerce’. I should note, if I was a 25 year old starting business school, eager to get a high paying job in two short years, I wouldn’t believe what follows below, even if I had time or interest to read it, which I probably wouldn't.

20. Economic 'laws' were created during and based on a non-repeatable period of human history

"I found a flaw. I was shocked because I'd been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." Alan Greenspan testimony to Congress, Oct 2011

Click image to enlarge.

The above graphic shows a three-tiered time history of our planet, starting with the top black line being geologic time. The tiny black sliver on the far right, is enlarged in the second line, and the sliver on its far right is again enlarged on the bottom line, where the last 12,000 years are shown. We, both our environment, and ourselves, are products of this evolutionary history. Our true wealth originates from energy, natural resources and ecosystem services, developed over geologic time. Our true behavioral drivers are a product of our brains being sculpted and honed by 'what worked' in all 3 eras of this graph (but mostly the top 2). The dark line on the bottom is human population, but just as well could be economic output or fossil fuel use, as they have been highly correlated over this period.

The economic ‘theories’ underpinning our current society developed exclusively during the short period labeled 'A' on the graph, on a planet still ecologically empty of human systems and when increasing amounts of extraordinarily powerful fossil energy was applied to an expanding global economic system. For decades our human economies seemed to follow a pattern of growth interrupted by brief recession and resumption to growth. This has made it seem, for all intents and purposes, that growth of both the economy and aggregate individual wealth was something akin to a natural law –it is certainly taught that way in business schools. The reality is that our human trajectory –both past and future - is not a straight line but more like a polynomial - long straight stretches, up and down, with some wavy periods in the middle, and ultimately capped. Our present culture, our institutions, and all of our assumptions about the future were developed during a long 'upward sloping' stretch. Since this straight line period has gone on longer than the average human lifetime, our biological focus on the present over the future and past makes it difficult to imagine that the underlying truth is something else.

Evidence based science in fields like biology and physics has been marginalized during this long period of 'correlation=causation'. This oversight is not only ubiquitous in finance and economics but present in much of the social sciences, which over the past 2 generations have largely conflated proximate and ultimate explanations for individuals and societies. In nature geese fly south for the winter and north in the spring. They do this based on neurotransmitter signals honed over evolutionary time that contributed to their survival, both as individuals and as a species. "Flying north in spring" is a proximate explanation. "Neuro-chemical cues to maximize food/energy intake per effort contributing to survival" is an 'ultimate' explanation. In business school I was taught, 'markets go north' because of invention, technology and profits, an explanation which seemed incomplete to me even though it has appeared to be valid for most of my life. Social sciences have made great explanations of WHAT our behavior is, but the descriptions of WHY we are what we are and HOW we have accomplished a vast and impressive industrial civilization are still on the far fringes of mainstream science. Economics (and its subset of finance) is currently the social science leading our culture and institutions forward, even if now only by inertia.

19. The economy is a subset of the environment, not vice versa

If people destroy something replaceable made by mankind, they are called vandals; if they destroy something irreplaceable made by God, they are called developers.
Joseph Wood Krutch

When you have to classify the very capacity of the Earth to support life as an "externality", then it is time to rethink your theory. --Herman Daly--

Click image to enlarge.

Standard economic and financial texts explain that our natural environment is only a subset of a larger human economy. A less anthropocentric (and more accurate) description however, is that human economies are only a subset of our natural environment. Though this may seem obvious, currently anything not influencing market prices remains outside of our economic system, and thus only actively 'valued' by government mandates or by some individuals, not by the cultural system as a whole. A landmark study in NATURE showed that the total value of 'ecosystem services' -those essential processes provided to humans by our environment like: clean air, hydrologic cycles, biodiversity, etc. if translated to dollar terms, were valued between 100-300% of Global GNP. Yet the market takes them for granted and does not ascribe value to them at all!!! Part of reason is that the negative impacts from market externalities aren't immediate, and with our steep discount rates (see below), the near term 'benefits' of GDP outweigh 'abstract' costs at some unknown future date.

Mankind's social conquest of earth has brought with it some uncomfortable 'externalities'. We are undergoing a 6th great extinction, which is no wonder given that humans and our livestock now outweigh wild animals by almost 50:1. Our one species is appropriating over 30% of the Net Primary Productivity of the planet. (One can ask, how can we use 30% of sunlight yet have 50x the weight of the other vertebrates and the answer, as we will see below, is our consumption of fossil carbon). A short list of deleterious impacts not incorporated into prices/costs includes: air pollution, water pollution, industrial animal production, overfishing (90% of pellagic fishes (tuna) in ocean are gone), nuclear waste, biodiversity loss, and antibiotic resistance. Perhaps the most ominous is the threat of climate change and ocean acidification, where humans, via burning large amounts of fossil carbon, are impacting global biogeochemical systems in profound and long-lasting ways.

Since GDP, profits and 'stuff' are how we currently measure success, these 'externalities' only measurement is the sense of loss, foreboding and angst by people paying attention. Such loss is currently not quantified by decision makers. In the past, only when there was a ‘smoking gun’ e.g. in the case of chlorofluorocarbons, DDT, unleaded gasoline, did society organize and require rules and regulations for the externalities, but these examples, as serious as they were, were not anathema to the entire human economy.

18. Energy is almost everything

Without natural resources life itself is impossible. From birth to death, natural resources, transformed for human use, feed, clothe, shelter, and transport us. Upon them we depend for every material necessity, comfort, convenience, and protection in our lives. Without abundant resources prosperity is out of reach.
— Gifford Pinchot Breaking New Ground (1998), 505.

In nature, everything runs on energy. The suns rays combine with soil and water and CO2 to grow plants (primary productivity). Animals eat the plants. Other animals eat the animals. At each stage of this process there is an energy input, an energy output and waste heat (2nd law of thermodynamics). But at the bottom is always an energy input. Nothing can live without it. Similarly, man and his systems are part of nature. Our trajectory from using sources like biomass and draft animals, to wind and water power, to fossil fuels and electricity has enabled large increases in per capita output because of increases in the quantity of fuel available to produce non-energy goods. This transition to higher energy gain fuels also enabled social and economic diversification as less of our available energy was needed for the energy securing process, thereby diverting more energy towards non-extractive activities. The bottom of the human trophic pyramid is energy, about 90% of which is currently in the form of fossil carbon. Every single good, service or transaction that contributes to our GDP requires some energy input as a prerequisite. There are no exceptions. No matter how we choose to make a cup, whether from wood, or coconut, or glass or steel or plastic, energy is required in the process. Without primary energy, there would be no technology, or food, or medicine, or microwaves, or air conditioners, or cars, or internet, or anything.

A long term graph of human output (GDP) is one highly correlated with primary energy use. For a while (1950s to 1990s) improvements in efficiency, especially in natural gas plants, complemented energy use as a driver of GDP, but most of these have declined to now have only minor contributions. Since 2000, 96% of our GDP can be explained by 'more energy' being used. (For more data and explanation on this, please see "Green Growth - An Oxymoron"). Some resource economists have claimed that the relationship between energy and the economy decoupled starting in the 1970s, but what happened was just an outsourcing of the 'heavy lifting' of industrial processes to cheaper locations. If one includes energy transfers embedded in finished goods and imports there isn’t a single country in the world that shows a disconnect between energy use and GDP. Energy it turns out, not dollars, is what we have to budget and spend. Quite simply, energy is the ability to do work. How much work, we'll see below.

17. Cheap energy, not technology, has been the main driver of wealth and productivity

Click image to enlarge.

The chemical potential energy available from the burning of things (e.g. wood) is rather astounding when compared with the energy which we supply our bodies in the form of food, and the fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas burn even hotter while also being much easier to store and transport. We quickly learned that using some of this heat to perform work would transform what we could accomplish in massive ways. One barrel of oil, priced at just over $100 boasts 5,700,000 BTUs or work potential of 1700kWhs. At an average of .60 kWh per work day, to generate this amount of 'labor', an average human would have to work 2833 days, or 11 working years. At the average hourly US wage rate, this is almost $500,000 of labor can be substituted by the latent energy in one barrel of oil that costs us $100. Unbeknownst to most stock and bond researchers on Wall Street, this is the real ‘Trade’.

The vast majority of our industrial processes and activities are the result of this ‘Trade’. We applied large amounts of extremely cheap fossil carbon to tasks humans used to do manually. And we invented many many more. Each time it was an extremely inefficient trade from the perspective of energy (much more energy used) but even more extremely profitable from the perspective of human society. For instance, depending on the boundaries, driving a car on a paved road uses 50-100 times the energy of a human walking, but gets us to where we are going 10 times faster. The ‘Trade’ is largely responsible for some combination of: higher wages, higher profits, lower priced goods and more people. The average american today consumes ~60 barrel of oil equivalents of fossil carbon annually, a 'subsidy' from ancient plants and geologic processes amounting to ~600 years of their own human labor, before conversion. Even with 7 billion people, each human kWh is supported by over 90kWh of fossil labor, and in OECD nations about 4-5 times this much.

Technology acts as an enabler, both by inventing new and creative ways to convert primary energy into (useful?) activities and goods for human consumption and, occasionally, by making us use or extract primary energy in more efficient ways. Even such services that appear independent of energy, are not so- for example, using computers, iPhones, etc in aggregate comprise about 10% of our energy use, when the servers etc are included. Technology can create GDP without adding to energy use by using energy more efficiently but:

a) much of the large theoretical movements towards energy efficiency have already occurred and

b) energy saved is often used elsewhere in the system to build consumption demand, requiring more and more primary energy (Jevons paradox, rebound effect). Technological improvement thus does increase efficiency, but higher levels of resource consumption and a larger scale of resource extraction offset this advantage.

Despite the power in the Trade, its benefits can be readily reversed. Firstly, if we add very large amounts of primary energy, even if it is inexpensive, the wage increases/benefits start to decline. But more importantly, and has been happening in the past decade or so, as energy prices increase, so too do the benefits of the “Trade” start to wane. The graph to the right (source, page 18) shows that as the price of energy doubles or triples the benefits of this 'Trade' quickly recede. This is especially true for energy intensive transportation, like air travel, and for highly energy intensive processes, like aluminum smelting, cement manufacture- fully 30% of US industry falls into this category. The ensuing reduction in 'salary' from large energy price increases can only partially be offset by efficiency measures or lean manufacturing moves, because the whole 'Trade' was predicated on large amounts of very cheap energy. This is why the mainstream media touting increased oil production or the growth rate in solar/wind is missing the larger point - what matters are the benefits derived at the various cost points of energy extraction/harnessing. Even with large amounts of gross energy, if it is too costly, it is much less helpful or worse, the infrastructure, trade arrangements and expectations built upon continued $40 oil and $0.05kWh electricity will have to be changed. Basically, the benefits to human societies from the mammoth bank account we found underground are almost indistinguishable from magic. Yet we have managed, over time, to conflate the Magic with the Wizard.

16. Energy is special, is non-substitutable in the production function, and has an upward sloping long term cost curve

"Oil is a renewable resource, with no intrinsic value over and above its marginal cost... There is no original stock or store of wealth to be doled out on any special criterion... Capital markets are equipped to handle oil depletion...It is all a matter of money", M.A. Adelman, Professor of Economics, MIT Source

Physics informs us that energy is necessary for economic production and, therefore growth. However, economic texts do not even mention energy as a factor that either constrains or enables economic growth. Standard financial theory (Solows exogenous growth model, Cobb Douglas function) posits that capital and labor combine to create economic products, and that energy is just one generic commodity input into the production function - fully substitutable the way that designer jeans, or earrings or sushi are. The truth is that every single transaction that creates something of value in our global economy requires an energy input first. Capital, labor and conversions are ALL dependent on energy. For instance, the intro text by Frank and Bernanke (2d ed., 2004, p. 48) offers explanations for increased productivity: …increased quantity of capital per worker, increased # of workers, and, "perhaps the most important,...improvements in knowledge and technology." Nowhere in standard economic literature is there even a hint that the "improvement" in technology they refer to has, historically, been directly linked to the progression of displacing solar-powered human and animal muscle with larger and larger quantities of energy from oil, coal, and gas. Though energy is central (in that even more difficult ore grades require more overburden to extract, requiring more diesel fuel, etc), energy is not the only key limiter – other minerals and metals are finite and deteriorating in quality and cannot be (easily) replaced.

Since energy seemed the same as any other commodity economic models assumed that energy and resources would follow the same decreasing cost curve we have come to expect from gadgets like toasters and coffee cups, where the technology, outsourcing of parts to their lowest cost countries, and efficiencies of scale have generally formed a declining cost over time. For a while, energy too followed this curve, but given that high quality resources are finite, and require high quality processed resources themselves to extract and refine, eventually the cost curve of energy and other key minerals and ores, begins to rise again. This 'dual view' of energy vs regular everyday products is a key failing in economic texts. But for most of the past 60-70 years however this omission was perhaps understandable, as there WAS a continuing supply of cheap energy so its worth seemed to be just the dollar price of it. For most, this is still the dominant worldview – dollars are more important than energy.

Historical cost curves for oil, coal and natural gas for Europe - Graph source: Rune Likvern Click to enlarge

15. Energy has costs in energy terms, which can differ significantly than dollar signals

“It is appropriate to conclude that, as long as the sun shines brightly on our fair planet, the appropriate estimate for the drag on the economy from increasing entropy is zero. William Nordhaus

“ The laws of economics are like the laws of engineering. There's only one set of laws and they work everywhere. One of the things I've learned in my time at the World Bank is that whenever anybody says "But economics works differently here", they're about to say something dumb. Lawrence H. Summers

“ ... the world can, in effect, get along without natural resources ... at some finite cost, production can be freed of dependence on exhaustible resources altogether.... Nobel Laureate Robert Solow

In nature, animals expend energy (muscle calories) in order to access energy (prey). The return on this ‘investment’ is a central evolutionary process bearing on metabolism, mating, strength and survival. Those organisms that have high energy returns in turn have surplus to withstand the various hurdles found in nature. So it is in the human system where the amount of energy that society has ‘to spend’ is that left over after the energy and resources needed to harvest and distribute that energy are accounted for. Finite resources typically follow a 'best first' concept of resource extraction. As we moved from surface exploration based on seeps to seismic surveys showing buried anticlines, to deep-water and subsalt reservoir exploration, and finally to hydro-fracturing of tight oil formations , the return per unit of energy input declined from over 100:1 to something under 10:1. To economists and decision makers only the dollar cost and gross production mattered during this period, as after all, more dollars would ‘create’ more energy flowing through our economies. Net energy can peak and decline while gross energy continues to rise, and indeed can go to zero when there is still plenty of gross resource remaining. Everything we do will become more expensive if we cannot reduce the energy consumption of specific processes faster than prices grow. Yet, financial texts continue to view economic activity as a function of infinite money creation rather than a function of capped energy stocks and finite energy flows.

Left chart - western Majors price needed for cash flow break even in yellow, overlayed on OPEC vs non-OPEC crude oil production. Source IEA, Goldman Sach 4/13 report 'Higher long term prices required for troubled industry'. Right curve total oil production from Western Majors - source

Irrespective of the dollar price tag, it requires about 245 kilojoules to lift 5kg of oil 5 km out of the ground. Similar biophysical costs apply to every energy extraction/harnessing technology we have - but they are all parsed into financial terms for convenience. After all, isn't it dollars (euros, yen, renminbi) that our system is trying to optimize? But these physical input requirements will not vary whether the number of digits in the worlds banking system increases or shrinks or goes away. Though fossil fuels are our primary source of wealth, they were created a long time ago, and in drawing down their bounty we have not needed to pay the price of their generation, only their extraction. And, despite enormous amounts of sunlight hitting the earth everyday, real (and significant) resources need to be expended in order to harness and convert the sunlight into forms and at places where it can be used.

There is an enormous difference between ‘gross’ and ‘net’ which manifests in financial sphere via costs. Irrespective of our choice of nominal statistic measuring GDP (wampum or dollars or digits or gold), an increasing % of them will be allocated to the energy sector. If our objective is just to increase GDP, we can just keep growing gross energy by locating and exploiting deeper and deeper pockets of fossil hydrocarbons, but eventually our entire food, healthcare, entertainment infrastructure will be to provide for a giant mining operation. Few media outlets (none actually) handicap the new surge in gross USA oil production by a)capex requirements going up faster than oil prices, b) the enormous increase in diesel use in the shale plays and c) the higher API gravity oil (42 for Bakken, 55 for Eagleford) which exaggerate energy content per barrel between 3.5% and 10.7%. Under current trends, the implications of energy depletion is we will move from energy costing less than 5% of our economy to 10-15% or more. In addition to the obvious problems this will create, we will be using lower quality energy as well. As oil has become more expensive, we are increasingly going towards coal and wood to replace it. Already, in countries with a large drop in ability to afford (e.g. Greece) are cutting down forests to heat their homes in winter.
Net energy is what societies should be focused on, and most don’t even know what it is.

14. Money/financial instruments are just markers for real capital

Some material things make my life more enjoyable; many, however, would not. I like having an expensive private plane, but owning a half-dozen homes would be a burden. Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends. Warren Buffet - The Giving Pledge

Some of my 'real capital': Natural capital - my backyard with trees, sun, water, Social capital Here 2 of my dogs, but equally my friends, contacts and family relationships, Built capital Our house, with solar hot water, chain saws, an aloe vera plant, and a deck, and Human Capital My health and skills (identifying edible mushrooms), my fathers health and skills (he's a doctor, and can grow vegetables, etc)

Growing a big bank account is like fat storage for animals – but it’s not, because it’s only a marker for fat – its caloric benefit stored for the future is intertwined with a sociocultural system linked to monetary and credit marker. In business school, (and on Wall St.) we were taught that stocks going up ~10% a year over the long run was something akin to a natural law. The truth turns out to be something quite different. Stocks and bonds are themselves ‘derivatives’ of primary capital - energy and natural resources – which combine with technology to produce secondary capital - tractors, houses, tools, etc. Money and financial instruments are thus tertiary capital, with no intrinsic value – it’s the social system and what if confers that has value and this system is based on natural, built, social and human capital. And, our current system of ‘claims’ (what people think they own) has largely decoupled from underlying ‘real capital’.

13. Our money is created by commercial banks out of thin air (deposits and loans are created at same time)

Though societies require ‘energy’, individuals require money in order to transact in the things energy provides. What is money anyways? I certainly didn't learn in business school (or any school for that matter). Quite simply, money is a claim on a certain amount of energy. When our economic engine kicked into gear in the early 1900s, money (not energy or resources) was the limiting factor. We had so much wealth in our natural resource bank account that we needed ways of turbocharging the broader economy so productive ventures could be undertaken by anyone with skill, products or ambition. It was around this time that banks came into existence - to increase the flow of money to match the productive output of our economies only made sense - too little money and we couldn't produce the 'power' needed by a hungry world. Creditworthy individuals/businesses could now obtain loans from commercial banks who were required to keep a small portion of their assets on reserve with a central bank. And it worked fabulously well. Correlation=causation and all that.

We were taught to view credit creation as a series of consecutive bank "intermediations", where some initial deposit rippled through the banking system and via a multiplier, created additional money. E.g. banks are unable to create credit themselves, but are just passing on some wealth already created. This is true for about 5% of money coming into existence. The reality for 95%+ of money creation is profoundly different. The standard concept of lending describes a transfer of an existing commodity to its exclusive use somewhere else. However, this new credit extended by banks does not remove purchasing power or claims on resources from anywhere else in the economy. Since banks are capital constrained, not reserve constrained they lend when (ostensibly) creditworthy customers have demand for loans, not when they have excess reserves. As such the ‘fractional reserve banking’ system taught in textbooks and demonized on the blogosphere is not the proper description. I didn't learn this until 2007 or so. Banks do not lend money, they create it. And this is why the focus on government debt is a red herring. All of our financial claims are debt relative to natural resources.

**(Edit - This new paper by Bank of England states precisely what I did just above -banks are not just intermediaries as taught in textbooks)

12. Debt is a non-neutral intertemporal transfer

The left graph, shows the disconnect between GDP and aggregate, non-financial debt. In every single year since 1965 we have grown our debt more than we have grown our GDP. The right graph shows the inverse - how much GDP we receive for each new dollar of debt - declining debt productivity. Source: FED Z.1 2013, NBER

(Note: I use the terms credit and debt interchangeably, though creditor and debtor are opposites)

Of the broad aggregate money in existence in the US of around $60 trillion, only about $1 trillion is physical currency. The rest can be considered, ‘debt’, a claim of some sort (corporate, household, municipal, government, etc.) If cash is a claim on energy and resources, adding debt (from a position of no debt) becomes a claim on future energy and resources. In financial textbooks, debt is an economically neutral concept, neither bad nor good, but just an exchange of time preference between two parties on when they choose to consume. (* we were taught in corporate finance, because of the deductibility of interest, choosing debt over equity is preferred in situations with taxes – but in the real world, when capital markets are open and credit is flowing, if a CEO has choice between financing a project with equity or debt, he/she will almost always prefer debt. And so they do.) However, there are several things that happen when we issue debt/credit that cause the impact of the convention to be much different than in the textbooks:

1) While we are issuing debt (especially on a full planet) the best and easiest to find energy and resources deplete making energy (and therefore other things) generally more expensive for the creditor than the debtor. People that choose to save are ‘outcompeted’ by people who choose to consume by taking on debt. At SOME point in the future SOME creditors will get less, or nothing. (the question now is ‘when’ and ‘who’)

2) We increasingly have to issue more debt to keep up with the declining benefit of the “Trade”, lest aggregate demand plunge.

3) Over time we consume more rather than adding productive investment capacity. This lowers debt productivity over time (debt productivity is how much GDP we get for an additional $ of debt, or the ratio of GDP growth relative to debt growth). If an additional dollar of debt created a dollar of GDP, or anything close, it would be more or less like the textbooks claim – a tradeoff in the temporal preferences of the creditor and debtor. And, when debt productivity is high, we are transforming and extending wealth into different forms of future wealth (energy into productive factories etc). But when debt productivity is low (or approaching zero as is the case now), new debt is really just an exchange of wealth for income. This is happening now in all nations of the world to varying degrees. E.g. since 2008, G7 nations have added 1 trillion in nominal GDP, but at a cost of increasing debt by $18 trillion – and this doesn’t include off balance sheet guarantees.

Debt can thus be viewed two ways – 1) from a wealth inequality perspective, for every debtor there is a creditor – a zero sum game, 2) all claims (debts) are relative to the energy and natural resources required to a) service them and b) pay off the principle. (So, think 2 Italians: Gini and Ponzi.)

11. Energy measured in energy terms is the cost of capital

The cost of finite natural resources measured in energy terms is our real cost of capital. In the short and intermediate run, dollars function as energy, as we can use them to contract and pay for anything we want, including energy and energy production. They SEEM like the limiters. But in the long run, accelerating credit creation obscures the engine of the whole enterprise - the ‘burning of the energy’. Credit cannot create energy, but it does allow continued energy extraction and much (needed) higher prices than were credit unavailable. At some point in the past 40 years we crossed a threshold of 'not enough money' in the system to 'not enough cheap energy' in the system, which in turn necessitated even more money. After this point, new credit increasingly added gross energy masking declines in our true cost of capital (net energy/EROI). Though its hard to imagine, if society had disallowed debt circa 1975 (e.g. required banks to have 100% Tier 2 capital and reserves) OR if we had some natural resource tether – like gold – to our money supply since then, global oil production and GDP would likely have peaked 20-30 years ago (and we’d have a lot more of the sub 50$ tranche left). As such, focus on oil and gas production numbers isn't too helpful without incorporating credit forecasts and integrating affordability for societies at different price tranches.

An example might make this clearer: imagine 3,000 helicopters each dropped a billion dollars of cash in different communities across the country (that’s $3 Trillion ). Citizens that get there first would stuff their backpacks and become millionaires overnight, lots of others would have significant spending money, a larger number would get a few random hundreds stuck in fences, or cracks, and a large % of the population, not near the dropzone, would get nothing. The net effect of this would be to drive up energy use as the new rich would buy cars and take trips and generally consume more. EROI of the nations oil fields wouldn’t change, but oil companies would get a higher price for the now harder to find oil because the economy would be stronger, despite the fact that those $3 trillion came from thin air (or next to it). So, debt went up, GDP went up, oil prices went up, EROI stayed the same, a few people got richer, and a large % of people got little to nothing. This is pretty much what is happening today in the developed world.

Natural systems can perhaps grow 2-3% per year (standing forests in USA increase their volume by 2.6% per year). This can be increased via technology, extraction of principle (fossil carbon), debt, or some combination. If via technology, we are accessing energy we might not have been able to access in the future. If we use debt, we are diverting energy that would have been accessible in the future to today by increasing its affordability via handouts/guarantees and increasing the price that energy producers receive for it. In this fashion debt functions similarly to technology in oil extraction. Neither one is 'bad', but both favor immediate consumption on an assumption they will be repeated in continued iterations in the future.

Debt temporarily makes gross energy feel like net energy as a larger amount of energy is burned despite higher prices, lower wages and profits. Gross energy also adds to GDP, as the $80+ per barrel oil extraction costs in e.g. Bakken Shale ends up being spent in Williston and surrounding areas (this would be a different case if the oil were produced in Canada, or Saudi Arabia). But over time, as debt increases gross energy and net energy stays constant or declines, a larger % of our economy becomes involved in the energy sector. Already we have college graduates trained in biology, or accounting, or hotel management, working on oil rigs. In the future, important processes and parts of non-energy infrastructure will become too expensive to continue. Even more concerning is that, faced with higher costs, energy companies increasingly follow the societal trend towards using debt to pull production forward in time (e.g. Chesapeake, Statoil). In this environment, we can expect total capital expenditure to keep pace with total revenue every year, and net cash flow become negative as debt rises.

In the last 10 years the global credit market has grown at 12% per year allowing GDP growth of only 3.5% and increasing global crude oil production less than 1% annually. We're so used to running on various treadmills that the landscape doesn't look all too scary. But since 2008, despite energies fundamental role in economic growth, it is access to credit that is supporting our economies, in a surreal, permanent, Faustian bargain sort of way. As long as interest rates (govt borrowing costs) are low and market participants accept it, this can go on for quite a long time, all the while burning through the next tranche of extractable carbon and getting reduced benefits from the "Trade" creating other societal pressures. I don't expect the government takeover of the credit mechanism to stop, but if it does, both oil production and oil prices will be quite a bit lower. In the long run it's all about the energy. For the foreseeable future, it's mostly about the credit

But why do we want energy and money anyways?

Continued in Part II

Wed 18 September, 2013

21:17 So, What Are You Doing?» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

It's September and we still have 7 more 'final' posts in the queue (myself, Joules, Jerome, Jason, Art, Dave Murphy, and Euan...) and will run them every 2 days until finished. Leanan will post a final Drumbeat later this week where people can leave website links contact details, etc.

For 8 years we read about what people think about energy related themes. I thought it would be a good idea to use this thread to highlight what people are actually doing in their lives given the knowledge they've gleaned from studying this topic, which really is more of a study of the future of society.

What do TOD members plan to do in the future? Herding goats, fixing potholes, creating web sites, switching careers, etc? I'll go first. Feel free to use my template or just inform others what you're doing. This might be interesting thread to check back on in a few/many years.....(Please no posting of energy charts etc. and let's not respond to others in this thread, just a long list of what people are doing w/ their time).

Ere we scatter to the ether, please share, anonymously or otherwise : what are people doing?

Thu 12 September, 2013

11:32 The Exponential Legacy of Al Bartlett» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

Dr. Albert Allen Bartlett, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Colorado, died September 7, 2013 at the age of 90. It is coincidental that, in the year that he "officially" retired from teaching (1988), I first heard his famous lecture Arithmetic, Population, and Energy (although I don't recall if that was the title at the time). I was in my last year in graduate school, and his talk was one of the keynote presentations (or perhaps during dinner) for a scientific conference. It was seemingly out of place given that the subject of the meeting was surface chemistry and physics, but it most certainly became stuck somewhere in my mind for reasons other than its novelty.

Most scientists are transfixed on interesting scientific details, some with relevance to technological problems, and perhaps buzz-worthy enough to attract funding. There has never been much money in solving problems with no real technological solution. I became reacquainted with this talk in 2006, probably via a link on The Oil Drum. TOD was by its nature dealing with limits to growth (of oil, if nothing else), and over the last few years, we have discussed the various ways in which we could perhaps keep the oil flowing or replace it with something else. Perhaps the implications of exponential growth was kept in the back room somewhere, like an embarrassing relative, while the latest "game changing" solution was bandied about. But we need to continually remind ourselves that, while important, finding the next energy source or improving efficiencies the keep the economy growing are not long-term solutions for a finite planet.

Below are some more reflections on Prof. Bartlett's legacy, from ASPO-USA (where he had long been on the advisory board) and from the University of Colorado.

Albert A. Bartlett: Ode to a Gentle Giant

Dr. Albert Allen Bartlett enjoyed 90 years of rich life on this earth; moreover, thousands of people have enjoyed and been touched by Al's life.

He is of course most widely known as a tireless, eloquent, and supremely caring voice for charting a sustainable path for humanity. With seemingly endless determination, he applied his training in math and physics and skills as a master teacher to focus attention on a simple but paramount idea--on a finite planet, "growth" is unsustainable. "Sustainable growth is an oxymoron", is how Al is sometimes quoted.

His most reknowned quote, however, is "the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function"--referring to the accelerating rate exhibited by anything growing as a constant percentage increase.

Al developed a now-famous lecture that illustrated the power and importance of this mathematical phenonomenon, and reportedly delivered that lecture more than 1700 times over the following decades. That one man would be compelled to devote much of his career to the understanding of a basic, unassailable fact of life speaks volumes about the world we live in, as well as Al's great character.

ASPO-USA is proud to have had Al as a longstanding member of our advisory board, and I was exceptionally fortunate to be acquainted with him in his latter years. While the nature of our relationship was professional, what I will always remember is the warmth, humility, and quiet joy that he brought to his work and his relationships with his colleagues and students.

For those that dare to concern themselves with the monumental issues that concerned Al, there is a risk of gloominess creeping into our outlook on life and humanity. Al is a beautiful reminder that need not be the case.

The note that Al wrote to us after he visited his doctor was filled with the peace and happiness of a man who had understood long ago what was important in life and had lived his own life accordingly. We should all be so blessed, and some of us were also blessed to know Al.

In honor to Al, inspired and informed by his life and his friendship, we re-commit ourselves to continuing and building on his legacy.

Click below to view Al's famous lecture - Arithmetic, Population, and Energy:


Jan Mueller Executive Director, ASPO-USA


CU-Boulder campus mourns death of longtime, celebrated physics professor Al Bartlett

excerpted from here

“Al Bartlett was a man of many legacies,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “His commitment to students was evidenced by the fact that he continued to teach for years after his retirement. His timeless, internationally revered lecture on the impacts of world population growth will live beyond his passing, a distinction few professors can claim. And we can all be thankful for his vision and foresight in making the Boulder community what it is today.”

Bartlett was born on March 21, 1923, in Shanghai, China. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Colgate University and spent two years as an experimental physicist at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico as part of the Manhattan Project before earning his graduate degrees in physics at Harvard. He then started his teaching career at CU-Boulder.

When Bartlett first delivered his internationally celebrated lecture on “Arithmetic, Population and Energy” to a group of CU students on Sept. 19, 1969, the world population was about 3.7 billion. He proceeded to give it another 1,741 times in 49 states and seven other countries to corporations, government agencies, professional groups and students from junior high school through college.

His talk warned of the consequences of “ordinary, steady growth” of population and the connection between population growth and energy consumption. Understanding the mathematical consequences of population growth and energy consumption can help clarify the best course for humanity to follow, he said.

The talk contained his most celebrated statement: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” A video of his lecture posted on YouTube has been viewed nearly 5 million times.

This year, the world population is about 7.1 billion and the CU Environmental Center announced a program this summer in which 50 student and community volunteers received training in exchange for a commitment to give Bartlett’s talk at least three times in 2013-14.

Before his death, Bartlett requested that any memorial gifts be made to the University of Colorado Foundation Albert A. Bartlett Scholarship Fund, in care of the Department of Physics, 390 UCB, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, 80309.

Tue 10 September, 2013

06:59 Of Milk Cows and Saudi Arabia» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

Under the desert in eastern Saudi Arabia lies Ghawar, the largest oil field in the world. It has been famously productive, with a per-well flow rate of thousands of barrels per day, owing to a combination of efficient water injection, good rock permeability, and other factors. At its best, it set the standard for easy oil. The first wells were drilled with rather rudimentary equipment hauled across the desert sands, and the oil would flow out at ten thousand barrels per day. It was, in a sense, a giant udder. And the world milked it hard for awhile.

However, this article isn't just about a metaphor; it is also about cows, the Holsteins of Haradh. But in the end, I will circle back to the present and future of Saudi oil production.

I registered on The Oil Drum over seven years ago, and one of the subjects that fascinated me was the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. There was much discussion about the largest of these, Ghawar, and whether it might soon go into steep decline - taking the world with it. About that time, an application called Google Earth added some features which enabled users to mark up the globe with their own placemarks and such, and I set out to find Ghawar (or at least its footprints) in the vast sandscape that is the Eastern Province. Starting with published maps which could be overlaid atop the satellite imagery in Google Earth, I found some initial wells...and then a lot more...and kept going. An article authored by Saudi Aramco engineers showed well locations in northern Ghawar, and I noticed that many wells which I found yet were not on the map. I deduced that these were wells drilled after the map was drawn, and their locations seems to indicate intensive drilling in the center of the field, which was previously bereft of wells. I began publishing some of these findings on the blog Satellite o'er the Desert and was invited to contribute to The Oil Drum.

In my Google Earth-enabled virtual travels around Saudi Arabia looking for oil wells and such, I have come upon many strange sights. Some of these are of natural origin yet can only be appreciated from a satellite's perspective, as is the case for this tidal pool located near a gas oil separation plant for the Safaniya oil field:

Figure 1. My favorite Google Earth view, near Safaniyah oil field, Saudi Arabia

There are many crop circles scattered about eastern Saudi Arabia -- by which I mean circles of crops watered by central pivot irrigation (as opposed to circles of crops flattened by aliens). A line of such circles cuts across the southern tip of the Ghawar field, seemingly following the course of a dry river bed.

Figure 2. Irrigation along the southern fringe of the Ghawar Oil Field, Saudi Arabia. Arrows indicate location of features of interest.

Located on this line, just to the west of the field periphery, are three rather symmetrical structures:

Figure 3. Symmetrical objects of interest near Ghawar oil field.

Each of these is about 250 meters in radius. It took me awhile to discover what these were, as at the time, crowdsourced mapping was just getting started. It so happens that they are part of a huge integrated dairy operation, one of the largest in the world. Fodder crops are grown in nearby circles, cows are milked with state of the art equipment, and the milk is packaged and/or processed into cheese and other products before being shipped. All of this happens in the northernmost fringe of the Rub' al Khali desert, one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Start here to browse around Saudi Arabia's Dairyland on your own using Google Maps.

Turning Black Gold Into White Milk

Here is a glossy PR video describing the operations:

Although the original intent was to locally breed cows more suited to the Saudi climate, it seems they had to import them. Here is another video describing the transport of cows from Australia. A bit different than a Texas cattle drive.

They Built It, But They Didn't Come

Answering why and how these dairy farms came to be located here reveals some interesting history of Saudi Arabia. Although great wealth of the country results from its abundant store of fossil fuels, the necessity of diversifying the economy has long been recognized. The lack of food security was always a big concern. In addition, there remained the nagging problem of what to do with the Bedouins, nomadic peoples who resisted efforts to be integrated into the broader Saudi society. And since they now had it in abundance, they decided to throw money at the problems. What could go wrong?

As related in the book "Inside the Mirage" by Thomas Lippman, a problem with Saudi agriculture is that most of the private land was owned by just a few people, and they were wealthy aristocrats, not farmers, and there wasn't much local knowledge of modern large-scale agriculture in any case. One of the proposed solutions was to create huge demonstration projects by which modern techniques of farming could be learned and applied. As for labor, the goal was to provide individual farms, housing, and modern conveniences to the Bedouin, who would settle down for a life on the farm. The largest such project was the al-Faysal Settlement Project at Haradh, designed for 1000 families. It didn't work out as planned, though, because the Bedouins never came:

You know of the Haradh project, where $20 million was spent irrigating a spot in the desert where an aquifer was found not too far from the surface. This project took six years to complete and was done for the purpose of settling Bedouin tribes. At the end of six years, no Bedouin turned up and the government had to consider how to use the most modern desert irrigation facility in the world.

(From a 1974 Ford Foundation memo)

Eventually, the Saudi government partnered with Masstock, a Dublin-based industrialized endeavor run by two brothers. The Haradh project became the largest of their operations in Saudi Arabia at the time. Eventually, a new company called Almarai (Arabic for "pasture") was created which involved Prince Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer. In 1981, a royal decree created the National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) for the purpose of furthering agricultural independence, and (for reasons I haven't discerned), NADEC gained control of the Haradh project. Almarai went on the become the largest vertically integrated dairy company in the world, and Al Kabeer is a hidden billionaire.

As a side note, NADEC sued Saudi Aramco a few years ago as a result of the latter using some NADEC property for Haradh oil operations, and a lower court ordered Saudi Aramco to vacate. The web links to those reports have disappeared, and one wonders how the appeal went. Separately, NADEC has reportedly obtained farmland in Sudan. Food security.

Speaking of Cash Cows

A half decade ago, much of The Oil Drum's focus was on possible problems with Saudi Arabian oil production. Was the flow from Ghawar tanking? Were all of their older fields well past their prime, and were their future options as limited as Matt Simmons suggested in Twilight in the Desert? My analyses and those of others here seem to suggest a rather aggressive effort to stem decline. With further hindsight, it is clear that Saudi Aramco was caught a bit off guard by decline in existing production. But over time, they were able to complete several decline mitigation projects as well as many so-called mega-projects with many million barrels per day of new production. With each project, the technological sophistication has grown - along with the expense. The Khurais redevelopment, which is reportedly producing as expected, features centralized facilities for oil, gas, and injection water processing. Water goes out, and oil comes back.

Figure 4. Left: map showing Saudi oil fields, Right: Khurais Project pipeline network (source: Snowden's laptop)

The most recent project, the Manifa field redevelopment is a logistical marvel. These have so far proven to be very successful projects (even though Manifa is not fully completed). But if one looks for the impact of the projects on their total output, one comes back somewhat underwhelmed. In the following graphic I show Saudi Arabian production with the theoretical (zero depletion) and official (as reported directly by Saudi Aramco) production capacities.

Figure 5. Saudi Arabian crude oil production increases from megaprojects since 1996, compared with actual crude production (source: Stuart Staniford). Cumulative increases are superimposed on the Saudi Aramco reported baseline value of 10.5 mbpd capacity in 1995. Blue dots denote values obtained from references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Here are some conclusions one might draw from the above (including the references):

  • Saudi Aramco has generally been self-consistent when reporting spare capacity and total capacity in light of actual production
  • Production capacity increased subsequent to startup of megaprojects. However, the net production capacity increases were uniformly and substantially less than the planned increments. In total, 5 million barrels per day of production was added, but capacity increased by only 2 mbpd.
  • It is most unlikely that reported production capacities accurately reflected what was producible at any point in time, given the reported values as correlated with the timing of the increases from the megaprojects.
  • However, actual production did not generally increase immediately after projects were completed, indicating that production capacity was not completely exhausted beforehand. But there was certainly an impetus to add a lot of production quickly.

The gap between what might have been (red staircase) and what is reported as production capacity (blue dots) is explained by considering the net of two competing developments: 1) depletion of legacy fields (Ghawar etc.) as they are produced, and b) mitigation of this depletion by drilling new wells in these fields. Since Saudi Aramco does not release data for individual fields or new vs. old wells, we are left to speculate on the relative magnitudes of these. On the plus side, the 5 mbpd from the new projects will (hopefully) deplete less rapidly than older fields. On the minus side, only 2 mbpd capacity was added - and they have exhausted all of the major fields in the pipeline. On the double minus side (for the world, anyway), only 1 - 1.5 mbpd of actual production was added since 1995, and (according to BP) all of that increase went into internal consumption. So after nearly 20 years, though total world crude production (and population) has increased, Saudi Arabia exports the same amount of oil as before. And yet, there is still a lot of hydrocarbons under Saudi Arabia. And it seems they already realize the need for more, as there are reports of planned increases from Khurais and Shaybah totaling 550 kbpd by 2017 to "take the strain off Ghawar". I feel its pain.

Addendum: According to this news report, oil has not actually flowed yet from Manifa. The new Jubail refinery has reportedly no received any Manifa oil as of yet:

The refinery is configured to run on heavy crude oil. But two industry sources said the refinery had not received any of the heavy crude expected from Aramco's new Manifa field and that it was running instead on light crude. Aramco said in April that it had started production at Manifa.-Reuters

Still the One?

Despite all of the negativity emitted above, it is also evident that Saudi Arabia has had and will continue to have a role as the primary provider of spare capacity which can be deployed to buffer variability in world demand. It can do this because Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world, can effect oil prices by virtue of what it can put on or take off the world market. Contrast the Saudi production profile with that of the United States, shown below.

Figure 6. United States monthly crude oil production (source: EIA)

Aside from some minor month-to-month fluctuations and some notable downward spikes caused by Gulf of Mexico hurricanes in 2002 (Isadore), 2004 (Ivan), 2005 (Katrina and Rita), and 2008 (Gustav), production follows a smooth trend. Especially noteworthy is the contrast between Saudi and US production subsequent to the economic downturn in 2008, when oil prices collapsed: Saudi Arabia throttled back while the US kept pumping. Any individual producer in the US had little incentive to hold back oil. However, with the increased importance of Shale plays (Bakken and Eagle Ford) to US production, this might change the dynamics going forward. Since these wells deplete rapidly, any decrease in drilling caused by low prices will also throttle demand (although with a time lag).

The Hungry Cow

The other new "above ground factor" is the problem of growing internal consumption in Saudi Arabia, of just about everyting including oil. To air condition all of those cows, it takes a lot of electricity (and currently oil). And all of that milk feeds a growing, young population. But that milk is bound to get more expensive, since the aquifers from which those massive dairy operations get their water are being rapidly depleted.

Milk consumption in Saudi Arabia reached 729.4 million litres in 2012
The Kingdom has already depleted 70% of these sources of water and must now turn increasingly to desalinisation which when factored into the cost of producing fresh milk is very expensive. Experts have estimated that it takes between 500- 1000 litres of fresh water to produce 1 litre of fresh milk if one takes into around the irrigation required to grow the Rhodes grass or Alfalfa required to feed the cows.

It seems Saudi Arabia has cash flow problems, although it is hard to imagine why, given that they are currently producing as much oil as ever at $100/barrel. For one thing, their population keeps growing:

Figure 7. Saudi Arabia population growth (source: Thanks, Jonathan!)

and they need to spread around some money to maintain political stability. Their energy use is out of control, as is their water consumption. And for those segments of Saudi society into which much of the oil revenue flows, consumption is a happening thing. And nobody really knows where the all money goes.

Saudi Aramco is overseen by the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry and, to a lesser extent, the Supreme Petroleum Council, an executive body. The company pays royalties and dividends to the state and supplies domestic refineries. Revenues go to the Finance Ministry, but the amounts are not published. There is no transparency in the national budgeting process, and it is unclear how oil revenues are used. Environmental impact assessments are required, but the results are not made public. Laws and decrees concerning the extractive industries are published and include guidelines for the licensing process in sectors other than upstream oil, but do not contain details on fiscal arrangements. Saudi Arabia has no freedom of information law.

Some ends up in London, where some Saudi tourists spend the entire summer. Of course, this was true in 2002 (and oil was $26/barrel then).

But they do seem to have money to throw around to garner political influence (note that the US does the same with money that it doesn't have). And they have grand plans for looking beyond their petro-heritage:

Best hopes for wise spending.

Au revoir. Au lait.

Sat 07 September, 2013

20:05 IEA Sankey Diagrams» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

The International Energy Agency has taken its share of abuse from The Oil Drum over the years for its rather optimistic forecasts. But it deserves a hearty shout-out for an invaluable resource it has on its web site: Interactive Sankey Diagrams for the World.

Sankey Diagram showing world energy flows (Click for larger view)

As long as you understand what a Sankey Diagram is, not much more introduction is needed here. You can look at individual countries, consumption patterns as well as production, and more. Click on individual flows and graph over time.

World energy use for steel production (Click for larger view)

One curiosity, though:

The world oil imports (2295) and oil exports (2218) don't match in the top graphic. "Statistical difference"?

As with data from the BP Statistical Review series, there might be occasional quibbles with the numbers. Also, I've seen prettier Sankeys. But if you've been wondering what to do with all of your time after The Oil Drum goes on hiatus, there you go.

Fri 06 September, 2013

21:13 My Last Campfire Post» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

I checked my user profile for this site and discovered that as of today I have been a member for 7 years and 37 weeks. Wow! So much has happened to me and my family over those years and a lot of it was shared on The Oil Drum. For reasons I’ll explain, I haven’t been around much lately. My most recent article was over three years ago.

My first writings for The Oil Drum were over six years ago as guest posts through Nate Hagens, and then as a staff contributor for the “Campfire” section of the site. I am not an energy expert so my role wasn’t about modeling depletion or providing context to the energy news of the week. What I did was consider the broader relationships between energy, resources and society, and explore the implications of more expensive and less energy to our consumer-oriented economy and culture. The most complete and succinct example of this role is probably my “Beware the Hungry Ghosts” piece, which includes this passage:

Several religious traditions describe what are termed “hungry ghosts.” These sad beings have insatiable appetites, with tiny mouths and huge stomachs. Modern society creates hungry ghosts among the living. We “have” more than ever, but are constantly bombarded with messages that it is never enough. The poor go to dollar stores, the middle class spend hours at Bed Bath and Beyond, the rich buy ever larger yachts, and city planners are always looking for more land and water in which to expand their urban sphere. Wants have become indistinguishable from needs. I anxiously walk among our nation of hungry ghosts, asking myself what these addicts will do when they can't get their fix?

What many of us found at The Oil Drum was a place to share our anxieties with those who share our anxieties. I am not being dismissive of this at all! Many here have points of view that place us outside of conventional wisdom, and this can be socially difficult. Where else can we go to have conversations that may be impolite, misunderstood and dismissed by the hungry ghosts we live among?

A fine example of thinking profoundly differently is in Kurt Cobb’s essay “Upside Down Economics” in which he gives a visual representation of U.S. GDP from the perspective of an Ecological Economist:

Figure 1

Many of my articles framed topics from an Ecological Economics perspective, where the economy is a subsidiary of the planet and functions by extracting resources and depositing wastes. Essential resources like energy, mineral ores, food and fiber can only be easily ignored when they are inexpensive to buy and reliably available. Many of us are alarmed because we see existential threats to the bottom of a top heavy pyramid and would like those situated higher up to pay attention and look below.

At the bottom of Cobb’s chart you see the economic sector “Agriculture & Forestry.” That is where I currently work, and where much of my writing here was about. I didn’t just explore the food growing sector, but also the so-called Food System, that includes transportation, processing and warehousing, retailing and end-use. Classic statistics discussed, and that devoted readers of The Oil Drum can probably rattle off at any cocktail party, include:

The U.S. Food System consumes several fossil fuel calories for each food calorie eaten.

The typical grocery store has about three days supply of goods on its shelves.

Each U.S. farmer (plus machines with fuel) feeds 100 people.

Figure 2. Graphic used in the post “Ecological Economics and the Food System

Two additional posts, “Save it for the Combine” and “Energy Descent and Agricultural Population” perhaps best capture the sense of the transformative change fossil fuels made in agricultural production and labor inputs, and offer some perspectives on adaptation to lower fossil fuel availability.

Figure 3. The percent agriculture population is plotted in relation to per capita energy use.  Nations with abundant use of exosomatic energy tend to have less of their population involved in agricultural production, presumably either because they can afford to import much of their food or employ labor saving devices in food production.  For example, only about 1% of the US labor force is involved in farming.  Data comes from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).  Original article containing figure is here.

The Campfire series was not only about exploring heterodox ideas, it was also meant to be a place where practical advice was shared. Many of us wanted to go beyond the talking stage and “do something” about the information and analyses presented on the site. This brings me to why I haven’t been writing here lately.

I went to the 2008 ASPO meetings in Sacramento not only to learn, but to network and hopefully meet someone who could help me with something. I wanted to farm at a significant scale to practice and demonstrate a form of agriculture that needs much fewer external inputs and is thus adaptive to our times. I met my eventual business partner (and TOD member) Craig Wichner in Sacramento. We were able to introduce our company, Farmland LP, at ASPO 2009 in Denver, where I gave two talks that eventually became posts (here and here). Over the past four years Craig and I have taken a heterodox idea and turned it into something substantial: Farmland LP currently owns and manages 6300 acres of cropland in California and Oregon.

So, I’ve been pretty busy. I am still writing on my company website but most of my posts are news related to the business. On occasion I do develop articles that look at the big picture and do in-depth analyses, such as “ The Many Benefits of Multi-Year Crop Rotations” and “Google Earth, Rotational Grazing and Mineralization, Part 1 and Part 2” but I won’t have time for more of that sort of writing until we are done with planting this fall.

This brings me to the end of my last Campfire post. In customary fashion I will pose some questions and ask readers to share their experience, wisdom, frustrations, and final thoughts for The Oil Drum.

Did any of you follow similar paths to mine, whereby the information and critical thinking shared on this site led to significant changes in your life path? (I never thought I’d be a farmer when I grew up.)

What barriers to making the changes you wanted did you encounter? Did they stop you from going on or did you overcome them somehow? (My wife gave me the foundation I needed to do this work. She had the income-earning job and the patience to allow me time to explore. Thank you Kristin!)

Thu 05 September, 2013

06:22 The Economic and Political Consequences of the Last 10 Years of Renewable Energy Development» The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future

I've been privileged to be an editor of TOD over the past several years, and am glad to have been invited to do a final post as the site moves to an archive status.

When I started writing about energy on the blogs in 2003/2004, I was writing mostly about Russia, gas pipelines and gas geopolitics. There were so many conspiracy theories abounding on topics like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline or (a bit later) Russia vs Ukraine pipeline conflicts that I felt the need to put out a different version, given that I knew the inside story on many of these issues - and that got me invited to contribute these to TOD as well. In the meantime, my job (which was, and - full disclosure - remains, to finance energy projects) slowed moved from oil&gas work to power sector transactions and, increasingly, to renewable sector deals, and I started writing about the wind business, in my mind from the perspective of a banker wanting to make sure that these projects could be paid back over periods of 15 or 20 years.

While my work is now almost exclusively focused on offshore wind in Northern Europe, I still do not consider myself a 'wind shill'... but it does give me a different perspective on the debates currently going on about energy policy in various places, and on the changes to the power sector caused (among others, by renewables) that are underpinning such debates, and I thought it would be a useful complement, together with Big Gav's overview of the clean energy sector, to the other articles more traditionally focused on the oil&gas side of things.

I'll focus on Germany, where the transformation has been most advanced (and even has brought a new word to us: the Energiewende), and where the consequences of high renewable penetration are most visible.

A lot of rather unusual things have been happening in the Germany power sector lately, from negative prices, to utilities closing down brand new power plants and, naturally, a ferocious debate as to whether to cut support for renewable energy (as has already been done in Spain).

I've long described renewable energy producers as a price takers (i.e., they don't influence market prices in the short term and have to "take" market prices as set by other factors, unless shielded by specific regulatory regimes), but we are getting to the point, in a number of places, and in Germany in particular, where the penetration of renewable energy is such that it has a real macroeconomic impact on the prices of electricity, both at the wholesale and the retail levels, and thus on the way power markets run, and on the politics surrounding them. There's the additional factor that apparent spending on renewables is targeted by governments at a time of austerity in Europe, egged on by hardly disinterested utilities.

It is worth going through what's been happening in some detail.

:: ::

In the good old days, wholesale prices of power followed the price of natural gas, as gas-fired plants are the producer of the marginal kWh most of the time. This is still the case in the USA, and it looks like this:

Source: neutroneconomy

Retail prices tend to follow the average wholesale cost, plus a slice for distribution costs and taxes which can vary quite wildly from country to country:

Source: eurostat

But we've seen prices diverging across markets over the past two years, as shown in the following graphs:

  • gas prices diverging sharply across continents (notably as a result of the gas shale developments in the US and increased demand for gas in Japan following the Fukushima disaster, while European prices remain largely indexed to oil):

  • Source: Fidelity

  • wholesale power prices diverging from gas prices:

  • Source: Die Welt, via gwpf

    Note: the lines above represent long term break-even prices for, from the bottom, nuclear power plants, coal-fired plants and gas-fired plants

  • retail prices moving in the opposite direction to wholesale prices, and increasing:

Source: wikipedia (DE)

German wholesale prices have been trending down over the past several years, despite the closure of close to half of the nuclear plants of the country, and despite the persistently high natural gas prices on the continent, while retail prices have been going up, including due to contributions to pay for guaranteed fixed prices to renewable energy producers (the "EEG" component in yellow in the last graph).

The fall in wholesale prices means that most traditional power plants are not economical at current levels, as the second graph above shows.

There are some temporary factors to the current situation. One is the general economic woes of the eurozone, which are pushing demand downwards and thus prices as well. The other is the temporary higher use of coal-fired power plants, which itself comes from a combination of short term factors:

  • cheap imports from the USA (where coal use has been displaced for a while by cheap gas in power generation) made coal more profitable than gas, and
  • regulatory incentives mean coal plants have (under the (the Large Combustion Plants EU directive) a limited number of hours to run and operators have every reason to use these up quickly, and especially if the plants are profitable, or less unprofitable than gas ones (UK coal plants have the additional incentive that a carbon tax will be imposed on them from April 2013).

These factors have made it possible to claim that Germany was increasing pollution and carbon emissions because of wrongheaded policies (depending on your stance: closing nuclear plants or pushing renewables), but this looks like a temporary arbitrage between coal and gas.

:: ::

The real long term story is that the power spot markets are being completely upended by the increasing penetration of renewable energy. In Germany, new renewables represent around 50% of the overall installed capacity, and already provide close to 20% of all power generation (split in 2012 in 3 almost equal parts between wind (7%), biomass (6%) and solar (5%)), up from almost nothing 15 years ago, and on many days now they provide 50% or more of total output:

Source: Paul Gipe

This reduces demand for mid-load producers and peakers over more and more periods throughout the year. As the graphs below shows, on good days in the warm season the PV capacity almost eliminates altogether the need for intermediate load; in winter, wind takes over (in aggregate, although not with as regular a daily profile):

Source: DoDo on European Tribune


This was the slice of demand served by coal-fired and gas-fired plants and they are simply not being used as much as they used to, and certainly not as much as their owners expected.

And prices are being squeezed down not just for these producers, but for everybody else as well, in particular during the peak day time hours which used to be the most profitable for all power plants (because baseload plants also receive the more expensive peak hour prices even if they did not bid at such prices). This means that existing capacity is less and less profitable - not just the peakers or intermediate plants, but also the nuclear and other baseload workhorses of the system. Thus the few highly publicized plant closures, and the ongoing utility complaints about lost revenues. Moreover there currently is no business case to invest in any kind of power plant (other than renewables under specific revenue regimes), which utilities use to argue against renewable support.

But here's the thing: preventing new renewables will not eliminate the current existing capacity, which means that the economics of the sector will not recover even if no new renewables were built... The wholesale market as it was designed 20 years ago (de facto based on gas-fired plants of various efficiency targeted at different points of the merit order curve setting up the marginal price) is irreversibly broken. The system is now dominated by plants with very low marginal cost of production (but high upfront investment), which means that spot prices are systematically too low for everybody - you can't invest in plants with high upfront investments (like nukes), and you can't invest in plants with high marginal running costs (gas-fired plants) unless you are betting on persistently low gas prices into the future. That may explain the push for shale gas in Europe, but who believes that shale gas will bring low prices? Even in the US prices are trending up again (and forward prices even more so).

:: ::

In the meantime, retail prices have kept on increasing, and the fact that the contribution of the support regime (in Germany, the "EEG-Umlage") to retail prices has become visible has made it a target of lobbyists and thus a political topic, despite the fact that retail prices increases have been caused, to a large extent (and in particular until 2009) by increases in gas prices.

This leads us to an hidden truth: a large fraction of the massive increase in renewable energy production is not paid for by consumers, but by incumbent producers who see their revenues decline as the price they earn per MWh goes down. Utilities, which see their margins on the retail side increase, but have very little renewable energy production capacity of their own are caught between two conflicting trends, with their upstream business losing profitability, but their downstream business earning more. IPPS are suffering, but have less voice. Unsurprisingly, utilities are focusing public attention only on the first part, and are naturally blaming renewables - not hesitating to point fingers at their support regimes as the cause of rising power prices, in the hope that these regimes will be weakened. They claim they are victims of unfair competition from "heavily subsidized" sources which have priority over them and can dump power with no worry for consequences into the network. They use a mix of real arguments and weaker ones to push against renewables:

source: Goldman Sachs, via Zero Hedge

  • one of the true arguments is that the cost of supporting solar PV has become larger than expected and faster than expected. Just 5 years ago, a number of countries had tariffs in the 500-600 EUR/MWh range, and regulators were surprised by the volumes that managed to be installed - and capture the advantageous prices levels. when they dropped the price support for new projects, they were again surprised by how fast the industry was able to match the lower prices through new technology (and a brutal price war). The result has been an amazing drop in the price of solar panels (-80% in just a few years, as shown above), bringing them close to grid parity, and a rather large (multiple GWs in Germany, Italy, Spain) stock of solar PV capacity which is entitled to very high tariffs for many years, at a visible cost to consumers;
  • in some places, the regulatory regime allowed producers to capture the best of both worlds - the higher of the fixed tariff or the market price (whether wholesale or retail), thus preventing the network, and the public, from benefitting from the "cap" that a real fixed tariff would have provided;
  • in Spain, retail power prices were kept artificially low for political reasons), and the the gross cost of the fixed tariffs was not absorbed into the general cost base of the network and instead explicitly imposed on utilities, which used that as an obvious argument against renewables (even though a good part of the price increases were linked to increased gas prices before the merit order effect acted on wholesale prices); the government's U-turn on tariffs, which imposed negative tariff changes on already operational projects, alienated the utilities further (as they had, contrary to what happened in Germany, become significant operators of renewable capacity and lost money in the process) and created a precedent that also scared off lenders and investors and put the sector in disrepute;
  • in Germany, the renewable energy surcharge applies only to retail consumers, and large sections of industrial users (but not all) are exempted. That means that the gross costs is borne by a smaller fraction of the overall consumers, and that some industries are complaining that they are being treated unfairly. Meanwhile, those benefitting from the situation (the bug consumers who benefit from lower wholesale prices and do not pay the surcharge) are staying silent so as to avoid attracting attention (they failed - this quirk is likely to be corrected soon);

But what is not true is that wind has contributed in any meaningful way to retail price increases (most of Germany's wind capacity was installed before 2008 and the EEG component is all but invisible at that date), and not has offshore wind (which is indeed more expensive, but very little of which has been built to date). When you look at average costs, one sees that onshore wind is largely competitive on wholesale markets (and yes, that does take into account grid access and balancing costs - there is enough experience with large wind penetration in various networks to know that it can be done and that it has no meaningful impact on costs), that solar is already competitive against retail prices in many markets (the famous "grid parity"), and that other technologies are somewhere in-between. Offshore wind is still more expensive, but is expected to come down in price by the time it will reach significant capacity:

source: Goldman Sachs, via Zero Hedge

Note that these average costs of production, always include very political assumptions about the cost of money, and the future price of gas, to apply to such projects. The discount rate (at the time of investment) is the main driver of the cost of wind or nuclear whereas the cost of gas-fired power is only an estimate, based an assumptions about the cost of gas in the next 20 years. And that also means that the price of power from a wind farm or a nuclear plant is largely fixed and known once the plant is built, while the cost of power from a gas-fired plant in the future is essentially unknown. The cost of money is a fundamentally political decision (derived from investors' estimates of macro risks like inflation, of regulatory risks applying to the sector, and technology risk); the consensus on future gas price estimates is also influenced by many factors, including long term projections by public bodies like the IEA, the US EIA or private firms with their various agendas.

As an aside, the more renewables you have in the system, the less it is possible to take out the regulatory support regime, because spot prices tend to go towards zero - which makes investment in renewables (or in any other kind of power generation assets, for that matter) impossible. So "grid parity" is an illusory target, in a sense, because it is a moving target. Technologies with high variable costs (all fossil-fuel plants) cannot compete at any price when there is enough zero-marginal cost capacity in the system, and technologies with high upfront investment costs need comfort about price levels over a long period as they need such prices on a constant basis to amortize the initial investment. This is why the UK government is working on a "contract for differences" (essentially the same thing as a fixed tariff) for new nuclear plants.

:: ::

Altogether, the reality is that the consumers and the utilities is paying for a few expensive years of early solar PV technology (to the tune of a few cents per kWh, ie a few hundred euros per year and per household), and now the utilities are bearing almost in full the further impact on the system: they are no longer making (much) money on their current fleet - not on gas-fired plants, barely on their coal-fired plants, and they don't have much renewable energy capacity. They are stuck with a capital stock (including recent plants), which is increasingly uneconomic in today's markets, caught between high fuel prices and lower power prices. And that is the result of strategies over the past 10-15 years that willfully ignored policies to promote renewables pursued pretty consistently across Europe, and the likely impact they would have on power prices (the infamous "merit order effect" - which I discussed in detail at least 5 years ago, and which was already the topic of academic papers before that).

So it's not like they had no warning and no notice... In a sense, utilities have been consistent: one of their past arguments was that renewables would never reach critical mass and thus were not a serious solution to reduce carbon emissions. And they surely did not take recent investment decisions (mainly to build base-load or mid-load gas-fired plants) with the scenario of heavy renewable penetration in mind, otherwise they would not have been so surprised by the current situation...

:: ::

Utilities do make a legitimate point when they underline that the system still needs their capacity (because renewables are not available on demand, and do not provide the flexibility required in the very short term), and that this needs to be paid for (and, at some point in the future, existing capacity will need to be replaced, and they need to be able to make a business case for that, which is not possible today).

In the previous regime, where power prices were determined by gas prices, it was possible to pay for the flexibility in the form of price spikes that gave the right signal for mid-load and peaker gas-fired (or oil-fired, or hydro) plants to be used, and their frequency of use was relatively predictable over a year, allowing for a sound business model to be implemented. Now, with plenty of renewables, the price signal is completely different. There are many more periods of very low prices when renewables flood the system (and this is particularly the case in places with lots of solar, as it is available during the day, ie when demand is stronger and thus prices used to be higher). This has two consequences: gas-fired plants get much less use than in the past (and less than their business plans expected), and baseload plants like nukes or big coal-fired plants get lower prices during periods when they were cashing in more money. The latter earn less money (but still run); the former now run a lot less than expected , which has income implications but also consequences for gas consumption and storage - patterns of use become very different, moving from the usual "once a day" pattern (a few hour at peak demand times), to short bursts several times a day (as renewables drop out), or very long periods of use over multiple days when renewables are not available at all.

Given that the penetration of renewables will continue to change every year, it has become really hard to identify the business model to use for flexible plants - and even harder to know what it will be in 1, 5 or 10 years from now. These flexible plants will be needed, at least to some extent, and they need to be paid for, and that cannot really happen with today's regulatory regime (and as noted above, stopping support regimes for renewables won't change that now: the existing stock of wind and solar is already big enough in several countries to keep the current market arrangements broken). One solution, thankfully being considered in several markets, and which already exists in places like California, is to put in place a capacity market, where plants make themselves available for rapid changes in output, without actually producing anything most of the time, and get paid for that availability: ie a market for MW in addition to the market for MWh.

:: ::

The politics of this transition are messy. You can have articles saying (without any real argument) that "Too much green energy is bad for Britain at the very same time that you have record cold weather, with critical weakness in the gas supply infrastructure and wind actually coming to the rescue... (in the UK last March).

People are presenting capacity markets as another subsidy to renewables, whereas system security has always required a significant margin of unused capacity for safety: power demand varies from 1 to 2 or one to 3 every day, peaks can be more or less intense depending on weather, and even large plants can go offline on a scheduled or unscheduled basis. That safety margin was simply paid for in a different way, either by imposing capacity buffers on utilities, or through spot price peaks that were high enough to pay in a few hours for the peaker plants which are otherwise idle most of the time. There's naturally a lot of talk that policies to develop renewable have failed, being costly (only partly true, as shown above, and increasingly less so as time goes by), ineffective at reducing carbon emissions (not true, each MWh of renewable energy has, by and large, replaced a MWh generated previously by fossil fuel plants) and damaging to the system (obviously not the case). But the cat is out of the bag: once renewable energy reaches a critical mass, its impact on power systems is pretty much irreversible and no amount of lobbying by utilities is going to get them their previous business model back: wind turbines and solar panels are there and they will keep on cranking out zero-marginal-cost MWh for a very, very long time...

So utilities would be well advised to focus their lobbying on fixes to the system that actually solve problems (like capacity markets, or maybe new rules on grid access for "must-run plants), and to not cut the tree on which they are sitting (killing the support regime for offshore wind, the only sector in renewables which is "utility-scale" and where they have been able to take a leading share, and the only sector of the power sector where they can actually make money these days...)(I note here again, for full disclosure, that I work in the offshore wind sector and appreciate that this may sound rather self-interested).

The politics of power prices are rather volatile, and people have little sympathy for the big utilities, which are typically seen as profiteers anyway, so the focus on the high retail prices could end up damaging them more than it impacts renewable energy producers. Energy is a rather complex topic, not really suited for soundbites, and it is easy to confuse people or say outright lies without getting caught right away. But, by and large, Germans still support the Energiewende - both the move away from nuclear and the support for renewable energy - and are willing to pay for it. And for areas like Bremerhaven, all the manufacturing activity linked to wind and offshore wind is rather welcome.

:: ::

In summary:

  • Renewable energy is reaching the scale where it has an impact on the overall system; the effects are irreversible, and highly damaging to incumbents;
  • The net cost to get there has been relatively low, and largely paid for by utilities, which have constantly underestimated the ongoing changes, even as they were both (wrongly) dismissing them and (relatively ineffectively) fighting them;
  • there are legitimate worries about the way to maintain the fleet of flexible plants that was required in the past and will continue to be needed in the new paradigm, but can no longer pay its way under current market arrangements; the solution is not to fight renewables (it won't make the existing fleet go away) but to ensure that the right services (MW on demand) are properly remunerated;
  • the shale gas revolution will have a limited impact in this context (it had almost none in Europe, other than via some cheap coal exports from the US for a short period), and does not change the economics of gas-fired plants to the point that they can be competitive in a system dominated by renewable energy production capacity;
  • more generally, the future for gas suppliers is bleaker than for gas turbine manufacturers - there will be a need for a lot of gas-fired plants but they won't be burning a lot of gas (they will be selling MW rather than MWh);
  • overall, a future with high renewable penetration is not only possible but increasingly likely, and it's a good thing.

Part of the wind power series.

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