This is a perfect example of The Boundary, that line within each of us that divides what we personally know from the things we do not understand, followed by the internal mental declaration that anything unknown or unaccepted by us personally is formally Unknowable or Unacceptable, period. The same mind that can follow all the vagaries of biology on the scale of one organism or fifty may not be able to comprehend the same processes whirring away on an evolutionary scale?and that is not a character flaw, because the human mind has great difficulty grasping time when scaled outside that which we experience within our own lifetimes?but wherever the line is drawn, it is drawn with gusto. This here is science; the part beyond the line is magic.
I suspect the above Carson explanation of evolution would receive plaudits by many, even if the rest of us are stumped by it, because for all the technical-sounding overlay it is an argument for one kind of magic set up in opposition to ... precisely the same kind of magic. It presents the notion of spontaneous creation of a complex system as inherently ludicrous, and does so by just supposing that all the complex parts naturally pre-existed before there was that providential gust of wind to assemble them. The adherents of this argument suppose, at least emotionally, that there were human hearts and human brains and human lymphatic systems all strewn about a large field all before humanity existed, all waiting for a factory-worker God to come along to rivet them together. Or maybe the factory created those parts individually, but they were pre-formed, damn it; different persons have different notions of where the magic occurred, but if the notion that the human heart is merely a variation of the typical mammalian heart design is controversial, the notion that the human heart is merely a variation upon a variation upon a variation of a design that had served admirably in prehistoric fish, now that is outrageous, and trying to imagine the previous link between that primitive heart and the greatest advance pre-pre-prehistoric life had ever experienced, the ability to merely twitch, is a longer journey than most imaginations can take. If you want to suppose an intelligent designer assembling parts, at least put them to work in your mind on the designs for those first microscopic clumps. Everything since then has been incremental.
This is what irritates me so much about anti-evolution fundamentalists. It is an argument, often by very intelligent people, for enforced ignorance. It is not that we cannot trace what happened during the long span of time before humans existed as a species, but that we are not allowed to, and we are not allowed to for the same reason past generations were chastised for supposing our planet orbited the sun or that the stars were not merely painted on the firmament?not because that vastly expanded universe or the unfathomable timescales disproved or diminished their God, but because with each expansion of the known universe mankind becomes a smaller and less central fragment of that universe, and a far more fleeting presence, and the notion of mankind not being the central reason that the entire vast sweep of reality exists is deeply, deeply angering to some people. It is not about God. It is about preserving some small sense of dominance and declared ownership of all things. It's neither science nor faith; it's just a psychological reflex, and not a particularly flattering one at that.
And that, short version, is why people like Dr. Ben Carson tick me off.
It?s possible that, one of these Novembers, a presidential loser will win the nomination again, as Richard Nixon did in 1968. Before that, Tom Dewey got a chance to lose a second time in 1948, and Adlai Stevenson in 1956. Hubert Humphrey came very close to winning in 1972. I?d say that Al Gore would have been a very viable candidate in 2004 or 2008, and that John Kerry could have had an excellent chance in 2008. So it could happen.
But Romney?See also Jan 2015 (Do Republicans Really Want Bush or Romney? and Romney's Road Gets Even Muddier.
More politics and policy below the fold.
Last week, in his State of the Union address, Obama reiterated at length the urgent threat climate change presents and the importance of taking decisive action to address it. ?The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security,? he said. ?We should act like it.?
But Obama himself isn?t acting like it. This week, his administration released a draft of its next five-year plan for offshore drilling. It would open up a previously off-limits area along the Southeastern coast, from Virginia down to Georgia, as well as offer many new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico. And while it would protect some key areas north of Alaska from drilling, it would open other Arctic areas up.
The Alaska Wilderness League expressed relief that Obama is at least protecting the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic, but the group?s executive director, Cindy Shogan, insists that the administration needs to ?take all Arctic leasing off the table.? [?]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003?No conclusive evidence:Well, even as administration officials hype Powell's "Adlai moment" at the UN next week, there is still some dampening of expectations: Officials cautioned that no one photo or piece of evidence will conclusively prove the administration's case; instead, they describe what they say will be an accumulation of damning details. ''What we're showing is a pattern of behavior,'' a senior administration official said. ''You're not going to have pictures of warheads. I think I am finally resolved to the fact that war is inevitable. It's a shame that Bush is so hell-bent on going to war that he will risk the lives of thousands to do so, and all on circumstancial evidence.
Obviously Saddam is a brutal dictator, and I'm sure he's got things to hide. But is he a threat to US national security -- worth throwing away lives and treasure to depose? That case has not been made. And it won't be made. But that's irrelevant to an administration that keeps using discarded "evidence" of a nuclear program (the aluminum tubes) and a hypothetical link to Al Qaeda to justify a war that even super-hawks like Normal Schwarzkopf won't buy.Tweet of the Day
By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal
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Wal-Mart?s Manufacturing Recovery? (The Hill)
Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Damon Silvers says that Wal-Mart's manufacturing initiative is really just an attempt to make people forget the company's influence on offshoring jobs.Sadly, even Wal-Mart?s poster child for its U.S. manufacturing initiative, Element Electronics, seems to be little more than window dressing. Wal-Mart sells Element televisions marketed as ?American-assembled? at Wal-Mart stores nationwide, yet as The Wall Street Journal reported last year, the TVs arrive in the U.S. nearly completely assembled from China in boxes labeled ?Assembled in the U.S.A.? Workers in South Carolina check for defects, install a memory card and put the TVs back in the boxes, to be shipped to Wal-Mart. This is not the kind of high-skill, high-investment manufacturing that will help rebuild the American middle class.
Wal-Mart says it wants to be part of the solution of rebuilding our manufacturing sector. But to walk the walk, Wal-Mart needs to sell a much higher percentage of goods in its stores that are actually manufactured in the U.S., thus helping to stop the offshoring of jobs and creating real, quality manufacturing jobs in America. And if Wal-Mart wants to really make a difference for American families, the company should listen to its 1.3 million associates when they speak out for ?$15 and full time? ? an income a person can actually live on.
Follow below the fold for more.
Indonesian police have opened fire on peaceful protesters in Jayapura, with at least four gunshot wounds and one death. West Papuan activists and families have been forced to flee to the jungle for safety. Indonesian security forces are conducting scores of raids, sweeps and offensives against West Papuan civilians. The attacks are happening during the visit of National Police Chief General Sutarman with over 200 people arrested across West Papua. Journalists have also been attacked by Indonesian police according to Amnesty International...Read more at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia. The Indonesian Police chief says any plans to free Papua from Indonesia won't be tolerated, including Flag raising ceremonies on the West Papuan national Day, December 1st.
Calls for Independence by West Papuans have been made since the sham "Act of Free Choice in 1969". They have suffered a neglected genocide at the hands of the Indonesian military (2004) with continued Repression (2007). Thousands of Papuans took to the streets in 2010 and in 2011 rejecting special autonomy, demanding a referendum on independence. Indonesia plans to build 1,500 km of new roads in the next two years to accelerate ?development', increase military presence, and open up more illegal logging. Three Papuans highlighted the human rights abuses at the APEC meeting in Bali this year by scaling the Australian Consulate?s fence in the dead of night and hand-delivering a personal plea to open the Indonesian province to world scrutiny.
A new academic law and human rights report A slow-motion genocide: Indonesian rule in West Papua (PDF), details the extent of the genocide and abuse of human rights. (Review by Greenleft) Activists have called for Australia to End pragmatic complicity in West Papua in response to comments by new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Imprisoned Papuan leader Selpius Bobii also responded saying, "We Live In Terror, Mr Abbott".
Related: Waging Nonviolence: Flotilla unsettles Indonesia?s occupation of West Papua | West Papuan National Day Goes Global | West Papuans to join commemoration of Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat More Information: West Papua media Alerts | Freedom Flotilla
Civil society organisations abandoned the COP19 climate change negotiations in Warsaw on mass. Members from Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Actionaid, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union Confederation (statement) and 350.org all started leaving the conference at 2pm. This is an unprecedented action, the first time several major civil society groups have staged a mass walkout.
Friends of the Earth International highlighted that the Warsaw Climate Change negotiations were failing, with Tension high in Warsaw talks as G77+China walk out. The role of Australia and reduced ambition of Japan have been widely mentioned. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers, but there has been substantial intransigence from much of the developed world to progressing the negotiations forward on finance, ambition, and a loss and damage mechanism. Poland's Coal Summit has shown the fossil fuel corporatism entwined in this COP with widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations of COP19 and at UNFCCC official Christiania Figueres who gave the keynote speech at the coal summit
Related: Democracy Now: "Nature Does Not Negotiate": Environmentalists Walk Out of U.N. Climate Summit in Warsaw | "Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming | "We Have to Consume Less": Scientists Call For Radical Economic Overhaul to Avert Climate CrisisAnalysis: The Warsaw walkout and the Climate Movement
The weekend of 16th and 17th November saw tens of thousands of people in Canada and Australia out in the streets in over 260 protests against the climate policies of these countries. Australia and Canada are seen as the major wreckers in Warsaw at COP19.
The Saturday protests in Canada occurred from coast to coast to Repulse Bay, Nunavut on the Arctic circle, more than 10,000 people gathered in over 180 events co-ordinated by Defend our Climate. Many protests focussed on stopping further expansion of the Alberta tar sands and pipelines to move the bitumenous oil south to Texas, east through Ontario and Quebec, and west through British Columbia. On Sunday, more than 60,000 people attended climate protests across Australia, protesting the attempt to repeal carbon pricing and clean energy programs by the conservative Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected on 7 September this year, who denied any link between climate change and bushfires as unusually early and intense bushfires raged around Sydney.
Civil Society NGO and local Polish activists also staged a Climate Justice march in Warsaw in association with the COP19 climate change negotiations taking place. Super Typhoon Haiyan set the initial mood at the negotiations with Philippines negotiator Naderev Saño (Yeb Saño) saying "time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway". There is widespread dismay at the coal powered negotiations in Warsaw with Japan and Australia being particularly singled out.
Related: Australia Indymedia - Tens of Thousands rally for Climate Action across Australia
Authorities of Tacloban City with a population of 220,000 and capital of Leyte province, gave an early estimate that perhaps 10,000 people died from this one city. Many people were surprised by the huge storm surge tidal waves that inundated much of the city. Many smaller coastal villages were also devastated with most buildings destroyed or suffering severe damage. According to the UN Reliefweb report on 14 November the number of affected people has increased to 11.8 million. The official death count from Typhoon Haiyan is currently 4,460 but with numbers still increasing. There were 921,200 people displaced and 243,600 houses destroyed. A total of 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance.
Related: Climate IMC: Typhoon Haiyan: This is a climate crime | Time for turning tears into anger says Walden Bello | Philippine groups demand action on climate finance, loss and damage in Warsaw climate talks | Ejected from COP19 for expressing solidarity to the Philippines | Youth observers expelled from UN climate change talks for Philippines Solidarity | Indybay: Super typhoon Haiyan is climate wake-up call | They destroy We suffer Statement on Yolanda?s AftermathNon-corporate Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts: Waves for Water | Haiyan NYC Relief Project | Doctors without Borders | Oxfam International
Climate Negotiations are over for another year with little progress in Doha by any one's measure as the scientific statements on climate change and the impacts we are already feeling as evidenced in record Arctic melting, and extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, and Cyclone Evan in the South Pacific are growing much stronger.
Some of the latest scientific research shows:Sea Level rising 60% faster than IPCC projectionsMethane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping pointCollapse of Siberia's Coastline is Releasing Huge Amounts of CO2Greenland Ice sheet suffers unprecedented surface meltIndian Monsoon more likely to fail as global warming acceleratesSouthern Ocean warming impact on Antarctic Ice Sheet Stability and sea level rise
Photos: Photos by World Resources Institute | Photos by Oxfam | The Verb: Climate March in Doha | The Verb: COP18 Actions Related: Deep emissions cuts urged at climate summit | Towards a Grand Compromise in the Climate Negotiations | COP18, another 'Conference of Polluters' | An open letter to governments and their negotiators | Climate compensation row at Doha | Forest Groups Protest False Solutions | IPCC's Planned Obsolescence: Fifth Assessment Report Will Ignore Crucial Permafrost Carbon Feedback! | Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point