In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed more than a decade ago by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Defense Department has released some 200 photographs related to prisoner abuse at U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, after Sec. Hillary Clinton?s campaign made clear for the first time that she will not commit to never cut Social Security, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Social Security Works have launched an online ad buy in New Hampshire to increase pressure on Clinton to make that explicit promise before Tuesday?s primary.
The Guinean government should ensure telecommunications companies are not required to hand over in bulk the personal data of mobile phone users, Human Rights Watch said yesterday in a letter to Prime Minister Mamady Youla. The government should enact measures to ensure that any intrusion of phone users? privacy is necessary, proportionate, and clearly defined in law.
Just days before the New Hampshire primary, cooks and cashiers from McDonald?s, Burger King, Wendy?s, and other chains will walk off their jobs for the first time across the Granite State on Saturday to demand $15/hour and union rights.
John H. Cushman Jr. at the Pulitzer-winning InsideClimate News writes?Obama's Oil Tax: A Conversation Starter About Climate and Transportation, but a Non-Starter in Congress:
President Obama?s proposal to impose a $10 tax on every barrel of oil and spend the money on advances in transportation is one of the most comprehensive attempts yet to address the climate impacts of moving people and freight from place to place.
Linking climate policy and public works programs, however, is attempting to pave the way for a project not yet shovel-ready.
No lame duck president whose party is the minority in both houses of Congress seriously expects dramatic, ideologically laden new policies to pass.
And if there are two things that are hard to imagine Congress including in the budget for the fiscal year 2017, they are a broad new policy to control climate change and a big tax increase, let alone one hitting down-and-out producers of fossil fuels.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose Energy Committee has a bipartisan policy bill on the Senate floor, said that because Republicans are in the majority, nobody should "worry about this becoming law." [...]
As Brad Plumer pointed out on Vox, there are similarities between an oil tax and the fuel taxes that have traditionally funded highways, mass transit, and aviation programs ? but there are differences too. Still, "the most radical part" of this plan is its link between 21st century transportation and climate policy.
Elana Schor wrote on Politico that however adamant the Republicans are in declaring the proposal dead on arrival, it will reverberate among Democrats and their green allies. She predicts it will help push the debate toward ever more hawkish climate policies in the wake of fights over the Keystone XL pipeline and other thorny issues.
TWEET OF THE DAY
BLAST FROM THE PAST
At Daily Kos on this date in 2008?Day 1743: Supporting the troops:
This story is getting way too old.
A North Dakota manufacturer has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a suit saying it had repeatedly shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including those for the first troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Twelve days before the settlement with the Justice Department was announced, the company, Sioux Manufacturing of Fort Totten, was given a new contract of up to $74 million to make more armor for helmets to replace the old ones, which were made from the late 1980s to last year.
Just to make sure this is very, very clear. The Defense Department knew the company provided defective armor and in fact sued the company over it. They knew that the kevlar the company was using in the helmets it created did not meet "critical" minimum standards. But while that very suit was pending, they ordered more armor.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, we feared that computers would take over. We?d been conditioned, you see, by everything from the slightly obscure, like Colossus: The Forbin Project, to blockbusters like The Terminator. With the clarity of hindsight in 2016, considering where humans are leading the world and that we still don?t have flying cars, Colossus doesn?t look like such a bad fate anymore. Computers and their ill-begotten networks have done wonderful things. As a kid I had a World Book Encyclopedia, which was like a primitive Internet small enough to fit on a bookshelf. Today we have the real McCoy?more facts and stories and funny videos than you can possibly see in a lifetime, all at our fingertips.
But our technology has its limits: We sure don?t have to worry about computers taking over the world, not overtly anyway, and not for a long time. My PCs are hopelessly confused trying to search or proofread anything with a hyphen or an apostrophe in it, so world domination is probably a ways off. I don?t fear computers, but I?m starting to hate them, and if you sometimes feel the same way then join me below for a nice winter rant, and let me count some of the ways they deserve to be hated ?
I?m not hostile to incrementalism. As an engineer I know that large gradients can lead to catastrophic failures. And President Obama has been as transformational a president as incrementalism, or a belief in gradual change, allowed. That?s not a knock on the president?it?s just a fact.
President Obama has navigated the political waves to get many laws passed that Americans wanted. His signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, likely saved my life. The ACA also afforded my wife, who has the preexisting condition of Lupus, the right to purchase health insurance under the same terms as any healthy American. Why? The president made the incremental choice to remove preexisting conditions as a part of insurance companies' risk management. That one move helped millions, and in the process likely saved millions of lives.
Incrementalism was necessary because neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party would run the risk of of upsetting their wealthy benefactors or the corporatocracy. Americans got expanded access to healthcare while insurance companies ensured they maintained the biggest fraud on the American population: Collecting a hefty fee to pay a bill at best, or deny care at worst.
Incrementalism in solving the student debt problem provided relief for some. However, those with private loans were left in the cold. They can?t even get relief from bankruptcy.
The American middle class had been asked to accept incrementalism for decades. Why? To make change palatable for the wealthy, for the oligarchy, for the plutocracy. That one-sided compromise was bearable as long as the trajectory of the middle class followed some modicum of upward mobility.
But I am no longer an incrementalist. Politicians preaching incrementalism as pragmatism have failed us all. Incrementalism isn't pragmatism. It isn't a logical acceptance of the possible. It is the coercion of a population paralyzed by fear. It is mental enslavement of a people who simply cannot visualize their innate collective power. In effect, incrementalism has turned into virtual suicide.
Indian Wells is a posh desert town in the Coachella Valley, neighbor to Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, and known as much for its tennis stadium and golf courses as for its multimillion dollar homes. As Jane Mayer tells us in the introduction to her masterful and disturbing new book, Dark Money, it was the perfect place for the Koch brothers? secretive semi-annual meeting of wealthy conservative donors in January 2009. Among the millionaire attendees there were also 18 billionaires whose combined fortunes in 2015,exceeded $214 billion. And while they may have had some differences:
The glue that bound them together, however, was antipathy toward government regulation and taxation, particularly as it impinged on their own accumulation of wealth.
They knew that with a Democrat in the White House, in the House speaker?s chair, and as the Senate?s majority leader, they had some work to do in order to rebuild the Republican Party. Mayer gives us a fly-on-the-wall view of the debate that was staged as part of the seminar between Sens. Jim DeMint and John Cornyn over the best way to move forward. According to Cornyn, the second-most conservative member of the Senate, the party needed to reach out and attract more members (even moderates) to become a big tent party if necessary. DeMint, on the other hand, argued that rather than expanding, the party needed to purify itself and become more committed to conservative principles. DeMint insisted that they must resist every policy that the new president proposed, to obstruct, in every way possible, the programs of the man that the people had just elected. Cornyn lost the debate.
Many of us live in the same country, but inhabit different worlds.
I have struggled to watch the GOP presidential debates. Mocked their candidates? positions as necessary. Tried to restrain my glee at the human freak show in Iowa that produced what was basically a three-way tie between a theocrat, a proto-fascist, and an Ayn Rand/Koch Brothers marionette. And as I?ve tried to understand the appeal of Donald Trump to his angry, white, working-class voters, the basic truth of my initial observation has become ever clearer.
Political scientists use language such as ?polarization? and ?sorting? to grapple with these divides in party and ideology. Historian and political scientist Richard Hofstadter incisively observed how during the 1950s and 1960s, movement conservatism was a type of dangerous ?political religion? and orthodoxy. His analysis and conclusions are devastatingly true in the Age of Obama.
Reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements about politics. They are also able to resolve those differences of opinion in a peaceful way that?hopefully?serves the common good. This is the beauty of a functioning, healthy, cosmopolitan, democracy.
But what of a society where common ground is increasingly hard to find, differences of opinion seem insurmountable, and people of different political orientations are unable to agree upon basic facts of empirical reality? Is this a chasm that is too great to be crossed?
In 1954, social psychologist Muzafer Sherif ran an experiment that could not be repeated today. Sherif was investigating prejudice and contesting Freud?s model of prejudice as an acting out of unresolved childhood conflicts.
At the Robbers Cave Boy Scout camp, Sherif wanted to test whether he could take a group of people, without any inherently hostile attitudes towards each other, and create conflict by introducing competition.
What Sherif found was not only that he could, but that he could also resolve the conflict if he introduced a shared goal. As I talk to people about politics and work for change, I always try to remember the importance of fighting with someone on something.
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