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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Why Governor Chris Christie and His Aides Belong in Handcuffs.

Saturday, 18 January 2014 10:19 By Carl Gibson, Occupy.com

{Are the Christies operated by McCain and the Koch Brothers?}

If Occupy Wall Street protesters get arrested for blocking a bridge to make a larger point, then every member of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration should receive at least the same treatment, if not face greater charges.

During his January 9 press conference, Gov. Christie’s explanations of the scandal in which he used his official position to score political payback prove that he’s corrupt, a coward and a bully. He’s a coward for deflecting accountability away from himself to members of his administration.

And he’s a bully for shutting down traffic in a political opponent’s city simply because that public official exercised his First Amendment rights to support a gubernatorial candidate other than Christie. But this is just the latest incident in Christie’s long career of cowardice, bullying and corruption.

As Ezra Klein wrote, Gov. Christie has a staffer who is paid to follow him around with a camera, record him bullying his constituents, and proudly post the videos on YouTube. One clip showed Gov. Christie shouting Keep walking! Keep walking! to a constituent who was criticizing him openly.

Another incident involved Christie shouting at a teacher who dared to criticize him at a campaign rally. There’s no reason to engage in such buffoonery as governor of a state unless you are actively trying to cultivate a tough-guy political image.

One of the most cowardly ways Christie exercised his executive power was by setting the date for the special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, which popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker had already said he would seek. The three dates Christie could have chosen for the election were a Tuesday in November 2014, a Tuesday in November 2013, or a date of his choosing.

While Christie said he went with the last choice – October 15 – in order for the election to be held as soon as possible, it’s been widely speculated that he chose the date so he wouldn’t have to share a ballot with Booker in November, which would have provoked a much higher turnout for State Senator Barbara Buono, Christie’s gubernatorial opponent.

Christie’s most nakedly corrupt acts as governor was in using his executive power to remove a public official from office for opposing one of his campaign contributor’s projects. On January 10, the New Jersey Pineland Commission is set to vote on controversial pipeline that will run through state protective land, possibly harming residents nearby and threatening protected plants and wildlife.

On December 13, one of Christie’s deputy attorney generals removed Ed Lloyd, an environmental law professor, from the Pinelands Commission accusing him of having a conflict of interest in the upcoming vote. Lloyd’s firing came without due process and resulted in a weakening of the opposition bloc – which makes the close vote on the 15-member board this Friday even closer.

Normally, the commission will favor projects if they are built for the public good. But in this case, the two-foot-wide, 10-mile-long gas pipeline is solely for the profit of South Jersey Gas and Rockland Capital, which is financing the pipeline. In the 2009 election, Rockland Capital president Joseph Lambert donated $3,400 to Christie’s campaign.

While campaign finance records haven’t yet been made public for the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election, it’s probable that Lambert and other officials at Rockland and South Jersey had a financial stake in Christie’s success. And Lloyd’s removal from the Pinelands Commission, in which he claims there was no conflict of interest, likely resulted from Gov. Christie using executive power to improve his sponsor’s chances at getting rich.

What Chris Christie has in common with bullies is that he steals kids’ lunch money to give to his rich friends. Since he was inaugurated in 2010, Christie has cut public education by $1 billion, while giving out $2.1 billion in corporate tax breaks – half a billion more than the state previously gave out in the last ten years combined. The most recent corporate tax break bill Gov. Christie signed made it even easier for corporations to have access to public money.

             The bill, the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, expanded from 47 pages to 82 pages, and once it go to                     Gov. Christie’s desk he vetoed it and told the legislature he wouldn’t pass it unless language was taken out that                   guaranteed prevailing wages for the employees of companies receiving the tax breaks.

The bill’s key sponsor, Rep. Al Coutinho (D-Essex), was just as corrupt himself. Christie signed the tax breaks into law a week after Coutinho resigned as a result of pleading guilty to stealing money from his family’s foundation.

As a consequence of Christie’s education cuts, schools in New Jersey have been forced to cut AP and Honors classes, make kids pay to participate in extra-curricular activities, and lay off staff like coaches, teacher assistants and janitors.

It is despicable for a public official like Gov. Christie to exercise state powers to help friends and scorn opponents, and anyone who does this should must not only lose his or her office, but also face criminal charges. When Christie shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish Fort Lee’s mayor for not supporting his re-election bid, he and everyone who followed his orders should be arrested – just as Occupy Wall Street activists were when we blocked bridges in acts of civil disobedience.

On November 17, 2011, I helped organize the blocking of the Travis Street Bridge in downtown Houston, Texas, during evening rush hour traffic. The action I was part of was also taking place in major cities across the country, where roughly 1,000 people were arrested in acts of civil disobedience, speaking out about the importance of fixing unemployment by repairing crumbling infrastructure like bridges.

But unlike members of Christie’s administration, these activists were private citizens peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to make a larger political point. Christie, on the other hand, was spitefully using his power as a public official to bully a political opponent.

When will top Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly face criminal charges for emailing “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” and doing it from her Yahoo account instead of her work account? When will we see those responsible for maliciously shutting down a critical national thoroughfare face the consequences for a petty, political act that ruined the days of everyone involved in those traffic jams? If the state puts political activists in handcuffs for shutting down bridges, it should do the same to governors and the minions who do their bidding.

———————————————————–

Carl Gibson – Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact Carl at  usuncut[at]gmail[dot]com, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Sen. Kyl gives graduates five guiding principles:

Retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl has decades of experience as a public servant, but he spoke to Thunderbird graduates (The World famous American Graduate School for International Management in Glendale Arizona) on a more personal level as commencement keynote speaker on Dec. 13, 2013. “No father or grandfather can resist giving advice,” he told the group of 197 graduates from 26 countries. Kyl, who received an honorary doctorate of international law from Thunderbird prior to his remarks, focused on five guiding principles for aspiring global leaders.

1. Be true. Ethical challenges come with globalization and new technology, which means the need is greater than ever for leaders to commit at the start of their careers to act with honesty and integrity. “Those commitments will carry consequences throughout your life,” Kyl said. “They mean you will have to think about thinking about things.”

2. Be humble. People look to leaders for guidance and direction, but those in power should be careful when they presume to know how others should act. “In all we do, we should apply a large dose of humility,” Kyl said. “We are all human beings with limitations.”

3. Be ambitious. Humility can coexist with ambition. The key is to find the balance between the traits. “You each have talents, which you have an obligation to maximize,” Kyl said. “We all need to make the most of what God has given us.”

4. Be flexible. The speed of change in the 21st century means that global leaders cannot always wait for full clarity before taking action. “You need not chart right now every future turn,” Kyl said.

5. Be diligent. Success or failure is sometimes a matter of luck, but leaders can improve their odds through their industry. “Make your own luck by being prepared and working hard,” Kyl said.

In its nearly 70-year history, Thunderbird has bestowed just 41 honorary degrees. Previous recipients include former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and  former Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Douglas Daft.

Kyl served Arizona in the U.S. Senate for 18 years, following eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently serves as senior adviser at Covington and Burling, LLP, and is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

————

Being now also with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, if he preaches there this same dogma, Senator Kyl could become a very positive element in the restructuring of American politics – just think what BE FLEXIBLE, HUMBLE and TRUE could do to US Congress? Then BE DILIGENT and AMBITIOUS in achieving it!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.S. Endures Heat Waves, Extended Drought.

WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2013 (ENS) – Heat waves and drought conditions are touching off wildfires, shriveling grasslands across the western states and stressing eastern urban residents, forcing lawmakers and public lands managers alike to rethink their approach to water supplies.

In Washington, the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee is holding a hearing today on the future of the Colorado River. The hearing follows recent deadly wildfires, a record-breaking heat wave and worsening drought conditions in the Southwest that have put the region’s residents, wildlife and natural resources at risk.

The subcommittee is examining the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Demand and Supply study, released last December, which found that there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the basin’s current water demands or future demand increases.

Spanning parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, the Colorado River Basin is one of the most critical sources of water in the West. The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, supply water used to irrigate nearly 5.5 million acres of land, and is also the lifeblood for at least 22 federally recognized tribes, seven National Wildlife Refuges, four National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks.

Climate change will reduce water available from the Colorado River by nine percent, increasing the risk to cities, farms and the environment, the study concludes.

“This study serves as a call to action and underscores the importance of prioritizing innovative conservation solutions rather than resorting to costly pipelines, dams and other diversions,” said Matt Niemerski, water policy director at the nonprofit American Rivers. “We need to step up our efforts and manage our water wisely in order to meet the current and future needs in the basin.”

Across the country, more than 40 percent of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for power plant cooling. These plants also lose several billion gallons of freshwater every day through evaporation.

New research released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists indicates that increasing demand and drought are putting a great strain on water resources. Low water levels and high water temperatures can cause power plants to cut their electricity output in order to avoid overheating or harming local water bodies.

John Rogers, a senior energy analyst with UCS’s Climate and Energy Program, said, “In our water-constrained world, a 20-year delay in tackling the problem leaves the power industry unnecessarily vulnerable to drought and exacerbates competition with other water users. We can bring water use down faster and further, but only by changing how we get our electricity.”

A pathway that includes strong investments in renewables and energy efficiency, according to the UCS study, would greatly reduce power generation’s water use and carbon emissions. Under such a scenario, water withdrawals would drop by 97 percent from current levels by 2050, with most of that drop within the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, hot, dry conditions persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. Wild horses and livestock compete for the same scarce water resources.

Drought conditions are taking a toll on western rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management to provide supplemental water and food for wild horses, reduce grazing, and enact fire restrictions.

In New Mexico, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor. The figure is 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah.

Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.

“Since last fall and winter, we have been working with grazers across the West in anticipation of tough conditions related to drought. In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM worked with permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their alloted forage on BLM-managed lands,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze.

“As drought conditions continue, wild horses, livestock, and wildlife that rely on rangeland forage and water will face extremely challenging conditions that may leave them in very poor condition,” said Kornze. “We are taking action to address these situations as quickly and as effectively as we can, but our options are increasingly limited by conditions on the land.”

In Nevada, all BLM Districts have been hauling water to wild horses. There, the BLM is trucking 5,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week to four locations in the Winnemucca District at a cost of $1,000 a day.

In the next few days, a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian will join BLM specialists in assessing horses in Lincoln County, Nev., after BLM employees noted that horses were not drinking water from trucked-in troughs and were not eating supplemental hay. This raised concerns about the health of the animals.

Over the past week in Nevada, average temperatures have been 10 degrees above normal, hovering around 100 degrees. The state has recently had only 0.1 to 0.5 inches of rain, resulting in sparse, poor-quality forage, according to the BLM.

Scarce water sources have put pressure on all users, including wild horses, livestock, and wildlife; causing long-lasting damage to plants, stream channels, spring areas, and water quality.

The heat wave continues across the eastern United States, with highs Tuesday expected to reach the 90s across much of the eastern third of the country, says the National Weather Service. Combined with humidity, this will create heat index values of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

The heat and humidity is here for several more days for the Eastern states, including the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, and spreading into the Midwest and Great Plains. A large upper level ridge and sinking air in the lower atmosphere are causing the hot conditions, says the National Weather Service, which says, “Although this is the hottest weather so far this season, it is less than the extreme heat observed last summer over these areas.”

In New York, Con Edison’s crews, working 12-hour shifts, are pulling cables, replacing fuses and other equipment to bring power back to customers as the heat wave blankets the metropolitan area. The heat wave is expected to extend into Saturday.

Crews have been responding to scattered outages and have restored power to more than 7,600 customers in New York City and Westchester County since the heat settled here on Sunday.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly personally after an intern fainted in the heat and paramedics did not arrive for more than 30 minutes.

“This whole situation is outrageous and I don’t know what happened, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it. It’s inexcusable,” Quinn told the “New York Daily News.”

Across the Great Plains, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski and Head of AccuWeather.com’s Long-Range Forecasting Team Paul Pastelok, say heat will be coming in and out of the Plains over the next 30 days.

For the next two weeks, the Midwest will have temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Meanwhile, temperatures will remain below normal across parts of the southern and southwestern states, mainly from Texas to Arizona, where heavy rain and flash flooding are possible.

The Southwest will catch a break as building monsoon conditions ease the heat down for the Four Corners area, but temperatures will increase over the Great Basin and West, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

All this week, the odds favor above-median precipitation over western Alaska, the southern Rockies, the Northern Great Plains, Western and Central Gulf Coasts, and from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a service of the federal government.

Dry conditions are likely across the Pacific Northwest, eastern Alaska, and the Central Great Plains. Temperatures are likely to be above normal west of the continental divide, and from the Midwest to the Northeast, with below-normal temperatures favored over New Mexico and the Southeast.

AccuWeather predicts the mercury will soar come September when the Southwest region will reach its hottest point of the year.

OUR MAIN COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE IS THAT IT SOMEHOW FORGOT MEXICO WHICH HAS RIGHTS TO THE COLORADO RIVER WATER AS WELL. THE SITUATION IS THUS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THEN MENTIONED HERE. THE ARTICLE ALSO DID NOT MENTION THAT SOME OF THE AGRICULTURE IN ARIZONA IS SIMPLY MISPLACED – GROWING COTTON IN THE DESERT IS JUST NOT THE THING THAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED. OH WELL – YOU CANNOT MAKE SENSE EASILY WHEN YOU TALK CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Opinionator
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN

Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

—–

Mark Bittman – July 1, 2013 – The New York Times.
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN
Mark Bittman

According to a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month, we are not running out of fossil fuels anytime soon. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution we’ve used around 1.2 trillion barrels of oil; the report estimates that with current technology we can produce roughly five times that much. With future technologies, it may well be that the suffering sky is the limit.

This reduces the issue of conversion to clean energy to one of ethics and intent. Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency recommends leaving two-thirds of all fossil fuels in the ground. Makes sense to me, but if you’re an oil executive scarcely being charged for the global damage your industry causes (an effective annual subsidy, says the International Monetary Fund, of nearly $2 trillion, money that would be better spent subsidizing nonpolluting energy sources), responsible to your shareholders and making a fortune, would you start erecting windmills?

Here’s the answer: According to Rolling Stone, just this spring, BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”Mining oil, gas and coal is making some people rich while braising the planet for all of us. It’s difficult to think ahead, especially with climate change deniers sowing doubt and unfounded fears of unemployment, but we owe quick and decisive action on greenhouse gas reduction not only to ourselves but to billions of people not yet born. “People give less weight to the future, but that’s a brain bug,” the philosopher Peter Singer told me. “We should have equal concern for everyone wherever and whenever they live.”

There’s reason for optimism thanks to renewable energy standards in most states, California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade law and President Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. But this isn’t nearly enough, and you have to hope that the president is now fully engaged in progressive energy policy and isn’t merely preparing us for disappointment should he approve of Keystone XL.

Three things worth noting: Most politicians prefer adaptation to mitigation — that is, they’d rather build houses on stilts than reduce emissions; energy independence is in no way synonymous with “clean” energy; and the oft-stated notion that “since gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, we should be moving toward gas” puts us on the highway to hell.

Make no mistake: when it comes to climate change gas isn’t “clean,” because undetermined amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — leak into the atmosphere from natural gas production.

The answer is zero emission energy. Even moderate changes can help, but cuts in the use of fossil fuels must be much deeper than the president is directing, and this may not happen unless we rid Congress of friends of Big Energy. (By one count the House’s 125 climate-change deniers have taken $30 million in contributions from energy companies.)

Investments in zero-carbon energy are relatively inexpensive and good for the economy, and the cost of business as usual is higher than the cost of even expensive carbon pricing. But it’s tough — pointless? — to make these arguments to the energy companies and their Congressional lackeys, who will fight as they have been effectively paid to do.

Unless we quickly put a steep and real price on all carbon emissions, our inaction will doom our not-too-distant descendants. “Really,” says Dan Lashof, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, “we need a comprehensive approach to reduce carbon pollution from all sources. What form that takes — caps, taxes, or standards — is far less important than how soon we get it in place.”

Americans and Western Europeans have been the primary beneficiaries of the lifestyle that accelerated climate change, and, of course are among the primary emitters of greenhouse gases. For the first 200-plus years of the fossil fuel age, we could claim ignorance of its lasting harm; we cannot do that now.

With knowledge comes responsibility, and with that responsibility must come action. As the earth’s stewards, our individual changes are important, but this is a bigger deal than replacing light bulbs or riding a bike. Let’s make working to turn emissions around a litmus test for every politician who asks for our vote.

Imagine a democracy across space, time and class, where legislative bodies represented not only those living in the world’s low-lying areas but their great-grandchildren — and ours. Or imagine that our elected representatives were proxies for those people. Imagine those representatives determining our current energy policy. Is there any doubt that things would change more rapidly?

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Arizona Forestry spokesman says 19 firefighters die battling fast-moving wildfire.

View Photo Gallery — 19 firefighters killed in central Ariz. wildfire:?The firefighters were battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill fire – the photos are front page on New York Times and Washington Post of July 1 and 2 – and all over TV – all over the globe.

By Associated Press, Published: June 30 | Updated: Monday, July 1, 12:57 AM Posted by Washington Post.

YARNELL, Ariz. — Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.

The “hotshot” firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.

Heat wave hits western U.S.:?A heat wave gripping the western United States is one of the worst in years, with desert locations in the Southwest seeing temperatures approach 120 degrees. It is expected to continue through Tuesday.

The flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town, and smoke from the blaze could be smelled for miles.

The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said that the 19 firefighters were a part of the city’s fire department. The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

“By the time they got there, it was moving very quickly,” he said.

He added that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when “something drastic” occurred.

“One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective — kinda looks like a foil type— fire-resistant material — with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it,” Fraijo said.

“Under certain conditions there’s usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive,” he said. “It’s an extreme measure that’s taken under the absolute worst conditions.”

The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

Morrison said several homes in the community of Glenisle burned on Sunday. He said no other injuries or deaths have been reported from that area.

About 200 firefighters are fighting the wildfire, which has also forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. An additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.

Federal help was also being called into to fight the fire, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said.

Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is one of the only cities in the United States that has a hot shot fire crew, Fraijo said. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff’s office said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes Yarnell, shot off a series of tweets Sunday night sending his condolences to those affected. He said his office will remain in contact with emergency responders and would offer help to those who needed it.

Other high profile Arizonans expressed their shock on Twitter, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who called it “absolutely devastating news.” U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that he was “sick with the news.”

——-===================================================——–


Western United States swelters amid deadly heat

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
A dangerous, record-breaking heat wave in the western United States contributed to the death of a Nevada resident and sent scores of people to hospitals with heat-related illnesses.
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
An “atmospheric blast furnace” engulfed the sunbaked U.S. West in dangerous triple-digit temperatures on Friday, forecasters said, raising concerns for homeless people and others unable to escape near record temperatures expected over the weekend.
Photo: Joshua Lott

==========================================================================

U.S.
Experts See New Normal as a Hotter, Drier West Faces More Huge Fires.

David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press
The Yarnell Hill fire, which on Monday expanded tenfold, covering more than 8,000 acres.
By FELICITY BARRINGER and KENNETH CHANG

One of the deadliest wildfires in a generation vastly expanded Monday to cover more than 8,000 acres, sweeping up sharp slopes through dry scrub and gnarled piñon pines a day after fickle winds and flames killed 19 firefighters.

Multimedia -Interactive Feature – Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters

Video: Raw Footage: Arizona Wildfire Aftermath

Related: Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
*
The Lede: Fallen Firefighters Had Prepared for Worst-Case Scenario (July 1, 2013)

Related in Opinion: Op-Ed Contributor: Living With Fire (July 2, 2013)
*
Dot Earth Blog: 19 Firefighters Fall on the ‘Wildland-Urban Interface’ (July 1, 2013)

The charred remains of an area near Yarnell, Ariz., abutted a strip of fire retardant that kept some houses safe from the wildfire there.
The gusty monsoon winds where the Colorado Plateau begins to drop off into the Sonoran Desert continued to bedevil about 400 firefighters who were defending 500 homes and 200 businesses in the old gold mining villages of Yarnell and Peeples Valley.

Scientists said those blazes and 15 others that remained uncontained from New Mexico to California and Idaho were part of the new normal — an increasingly hot and dry West, resulting in more catastrophic fires.


Since 1970, Arizona has warmed at a rate 0.72 degrees per decade, the fastest among the 50 states, based on an analysis of temperature data by Climate Central, an independent organization that researches and reports on climate. Even as the temperatures have leveled off in many places around the world in the past decade, the Southwest has continued to get hotter.


“The decade of 2001 to 2010 in Arizona was the hottest in both spring and the summer,” said Gregg Garfin, a professor of climate, natural resources and policy at the University of Arizona and the executive editor of a study examining the impact of climate change on the Southwest.

Warmer winters mean less snowfall. More of the winter precipitation falls as rain, which quickly flows away in streams instead of seeping deep underground.

The soils then dry out earlier and more quickly in May and June. “It’s the most arid time of year,” Dr. Garfin said. “It’s windy as well.”
The growing season also starts earlier, so there is more to burn.


“The fire season has lengthened substantially, by two months, over the last 30 years,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist at the United States Geological Survey station at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The fire potential is exacerbated by the past policy, beginning around 1900, of putting out all fires. Fires are a natural way of clearing out the underbrush. With that natural rhythm disrupted, the flammable material piled up, so when it did catch fire, it ignited a giant fire that burned hotter and wider.

This total-suppression policy began to ease as early as the 1950s, when scientists began to see fire’s role in ecosystems. It was completely abandoned nearly two decades ago.

But in the 1970s, the Southwest entered a wet period, part of a climate cycle that repeats every 20 to 30 years. “That wet period helped keep a lid on fires,” Dr. Allen said. “And it also allowed the forests to fluff up.”

Since 1996, the climate pattern, known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, has swung to the dry end of the spectrum, and the region is caught in a long-term drought.

Stephen J. Pyne, one of the nation’s leading fire historians and a professor at Arizona State University, said, “How we live on the land, what we decide we put on public and private lands, how we do things and don’t do things on the land, changes its combustibility.”

In many landscapes, he added, “you’ve enhanced the natural combustibility” by building hundreds of thousands of homes in fire-prone areas, and for years suppressing natural fires, allowing a buildup of combustible materials like the “slash” debris left behind by logging.

“The natural conditions, particularly climate, the land-use changes that interact with it and how we add or subtract fire, those are the three parts of the fire triangle. Almost all of those are pointing in the same direction — bigger, more damaging fires,” he said.


While Yarnell is not a new community, and its population remained basically stable between 2000 and 2010, it is representative of the risk involved in the trend around the West for people to move into fire-prone areas in what social scientists call the “wild land-urban interface.”


Those expanding communities, with rural views but more urban economies, have been the focus of concern among federal and state officials for a decade or more. While such regions are more plentiful in the East, it is in the areas west of the 100th longitude, reaching from West Texas and the Dakotas to the Pacific Ocean, where the natural aridity, increasingly exacerbated by climate change, makes fires a common threat.

In the West in the 1990s, more than 2.2 million housing units were added in these fire-prone areas, according to testimony by Roger B. Hammer, a demographer at Oregon State University and a leading authority on the issue. Speaking to a House subcommittee in 2008, he called this a “wicked problem,” and predicted an additional 12.3 million homes would be built in such areas in Western states — more than double the current numbers.
Government and scientific data show that destructive sweep of wildfires covered an annual average of seven million acres in the 2000s, twice the totals of the 1990s. Michael Kodas, who is writing a book on modern firefighting, wrote in On Earth magazine last year that scientists believe that number will rise 50 percent or more by 2020.

Yet in fiscal 2013, more than $1.7 billion, or 38 percent of the Forest Service’s budget, was to be devoted to firefighting in general, with $537.8 million — a slight reduction from the previous year — specifically allocated for wildland fires. The Interior Department’s appropriation for wildland firefighting was $276.5 million, a slight increase over the previous year.

But the federal budget sequester eliminated $28 million from the Forest Service budget, although Interior’s remained nearly level. This occurred even though both agencies overspent 2012 budgets of similar size, and though federal firefighters are often first responders, working alongside their state colleagues during blazes like the Yarnell Hill fire.

“The Forest Service is being treated as a firefighter of last resort,” Dr. Pyne said. This, he added, “is not what the agency was set up for, and it’s not financed for it.”
Dr. Allen said that what was different in the recent fires — hotter, more enveloping — is that they are killing far more trees. “We’re seeing the size of postfire treeless patches merging into thousands of acres,” he said, “sometimes many thousands of acres.”
That could permanently transform much of the Arizona landscape as grasslands and shrubs fill in the empty space.

Fernanda Santos and John Dougherty contributed reporting from Prescott, Ariz., and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.

—————————————————-

The New York Times Editors’ Picks of July 2, 2013:

U.S.
Interactive Feature: Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting crew, died fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz.

. Related Article – OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor
Living With Fire
By ALAN DEAN FOSTER

It may be a disaster zone, but it’s our disaster zone.

===================================================================================================================================================

header at the time States are literally burning and the US is being asked to lead on Climate Change:


Snooping on Americans’ Phone Records, Benghazi, IRS Scandal… Time to Impeach Obama?

The White House recently confirmed the NSA has been collecting the phone records and web search data of all Americans… and Obama was in on it! Allegations have surfaced that the talking points about the Benghazi terrorist attack were altered by the White House to mislead the general public. And it was found that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative “Tea Party” groups filing for tax exempt status.

These three events have thrown the Obama Administration and the White House into “damage control.”

And the mailing asks for your opnion.

1) Given the circumstances surrounding NSA snooping, Benghazi and the IRS scandal do you think the Obama administration is lying to the American public?
Yes, they are clearly lying about the events.
No, they are telling the truth.
Not Sure.

2) Do you still trust President Barack Obama?
I still trust Obama.
I trust Obama less than I used to.
I no longer trust Obama.
I never trusted Obama.
Not Sure.

3) Based on your understanding of all three events, do you think Obama should be impeached?
Yes, he should be impeached.
No, he should not be impeached.
Not Sure.

4) Which political party do you most closely align with philosophically?
Democrat
Republican
Libertarian
Tea Party
Independent
Other

=============================

Conclusion – THE NUTS IN THE US WANT TO START AN IMPEACH OBAMA CAMPAIGN NOW in order to avoid facing real world realities.

==================================================================================================================================================

List of Crew Members Killed in Arizona Fire

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM ET

Related:

* Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
* Experts See a New Normal: A Tinderbox West, With More Huge Fires (July 2, 2013)


PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The city of Prescott has released the names of the 19 firefighters who were killed in a wildfire. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

— Andrew Ashcraft, 29

— Kevin Woyjeck, 21

— Anthony Rose, 23

— Eric Marsh, 43

— Christopher MacKenzie, 30

— Robert Caldwell, 23

— Clayton Whitted , 28

— Scott Norris, 28

— Dustin Deford, 24

— Sean Misner, 26

— Garret Zuppiger, 27

— Travis Carter, 31

— Grant McKee, 21

— Travis Turbyfill, 27

— Jesse Steed, 36

— Wade Parker, 22

— Joe Thurston, 32

— William Warneke, 25

— John Percin, 24

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Saudi Kingdom to halt wheat production by 2016

The Kingdom is likely to totally depend on wheat imports starting from 2016, says Waleed El-Khereiji, head of Grains and Silos Flour …

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Saudi- ‘Big opportunity’ in SR 1 bn biscuit market
Saudi Arabia is one of the primary emerging markets for top biscuits maker Britannia and it sees big opportunities in the Kingdom because …

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

President Obama used his weekly Saturday address to repeat his impassioned but vague call to take “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this,” some gun control advocates said they hoped the shooting would be a catalyst for change.

“We genuinely believe that this one is different,” Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in an interview on Saturday. “It’s different because no decent human being can look at a tragedy like this and not be outraged by the fact that it can happen in our nation. And because this time, we’re really poised to harness that outrage and create a focused and sustained outcry for change.”

But supporters of gun control sounded similar notes after other recent mass shootings — including one early last year in Tucson in which six people were killed and Representative Gabrielle Giffords was wounded — only to see little or no action. And as governors condemned the Connecticut shooting and expressed sympathy for its victims, their statements, from Democrats and Republicans alike, were more likely to mention prayer than gun laws.


That same day, Ohio lawmakers passed a bill that would allow guns in cars at the Statehouse garage. Earlier in the week, a federal appeals court struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois. And Florida officials announced that they would soon issue their millionth concealed weapon and firearm license — or, as a state news release put it, the program would be “One Million Strong.”


Exception was in Colorado, which had started a debate on gun laws earlier in the week. Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, had said on Wednesday that he believed “the time is right” for state lawmakers to consider new gun restrictions.

Mr. Hickenlooper, who had appeared cool to the idea immediately after the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that killed 12 people and wounded dozens, said he hoped lawmakers would take up the issue in the next legislative session, when Democrats will control both houses.

“After the shootings happened in Aurora in July, everyone was just so empty that it didn’t feel appropriate to start talking about racing right into the sometimes contentious arguments of appropriate gun control or inappropriate gun control, depending on which side of the fence you’re on,” Mr. Hickenlooper said Saturday. He added that he hoped lawmakers would examine issues like public access to assault weapons, magazines that hold a great deal of ammunition and armor-piercing bullets, and how the state can help the mentally ill and keep them from doing harm.


With gun control efforts seen as unlikely in Washington, where the Republicans who control the House oppose them, the next frontiers of the debate may be in states like Michigan, where the bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in school is being weighed by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican.

Don Wotruba, the deputy director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, said the group was calling on the governor to veto the bill. “Putting children in closer proximity with more guns is a risk that shouldn’t be taken,” he said in an interview.

=======================================================

The massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School has finally grabbed the Nation’s attention – something that Hurricane Sandy did not do.

The Republicans blame their loss in the Presidential elections on the Hurricane and we find no evidence that this was the case – but we say that had the elections been held today instead, they might have been wiped out – just a Sandy closer to home.

Today’s Sunday TV programs all dealt with the woman that collected guns and made them accessible to her sick-genius son.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on Meet the Press, said that he did put his money to work for candidates to Congress that were ready to take on the National Rifle Association. He explained that good laws and readiness to enforce them have reduced killings by guns in new York City to the point that it is now best in the country on the reduction of crime. He said it clearly – The Comforter in Chief is first The Commander in Chief and criticized the Preasident for not having put forward an actual plan to combat what is killing per year in the US more people then all the Vietnam War did in its time.

Bloomberg said that he decided to back President Obama only after he interviewed both – The President and Mr. Romney – and had the feeling that Obama knew what he has to do. But then, Obama did not go come up with a program to back up his rhetoric.

In New York City, if someone is found with a loaded concealed weapon – he gets an automatic 3.5 years.

THE PRESIDENT HAS IN HIS POWER TO ACT UPON WHAT HE TELLS THE PEOPLE THAT HE INTENDS TO DO. HE FIRST HAS TO TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT HE WANTS TO DO, AND THEN DO IT THROUGH EXECUTIVE ORDERS. My feeling was that Mayor Bloomberg, now an Independent, is ready to take the argument on a ride to the White House in 2016. He has the money and made it clear in public that he has the readiness. While the NRA’s only reason for existence in 2012 was to try to unseat President Obama, Bloombeg sees them weakened now to the point that an Obama who is not up for reelection anymore, ought to push Members of Congress to fight as if the NRA has no power over them – and indeed it does not anymore.

David Frum, who worked for President G.W. Bush said that when he grew up in Canada nobody there understood the US interest in weapons. Recently 300,000 people bought guns in one day in the US. 31 Senators for the Gun-lobby refused to speak on the Sunday programs – so they are stiff scared finally! This at a time that there is evidence that 40% of the guns sold in the US are sold at gun-shows or via the internet – no documents of any kind needed.

What is needed? For a starter something like a drivers’ license  that requires tests of health (specifically mental health), a test of skills, and a minimum age. Also, clear understanding of spacial exclusions – like schools.

We would like to see Senator John Kerry take over the leadership in Congress and the fight against folks like Senator John McCain.

For first horn – President Obama ought to nominate Susan Rice for the Secretary of State position and fight for her; forget the leveling off on the taxation of the rich. The specter of a Middle East Bazaar  bargaining between positions saying that rich is an income of one million/year or a quarter million/year are just unseemly. We would say that a special extra gun-control security tax would be fitting the present need as a clear add-on. We would then suggest that a similar add-on would qualify for climate-change effects as well because of the delayed action of dealing with the subject. Rich should be defined at the $150,000  level and taxed higher as the income is higher. Running a State is indeed the responsibility of those that were privileged to get a higher income as they got were they are mainly not by wins at the lottery, but because of the sweat of the great majority – the “others” that make up more then 95% of the Nation.  PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW IN THIS POTENTIALLY UNCOMPROMISING POSITION BECAUSE OF THE CONFLUENCE OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT SHOULD NOT BE MISSED -  HIS CLEAR INDEPENDENCE OF NEED TO BOW TO HIS DETRACTORS, AND THE DISASTERS OF SANDY & SANDY.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Janice Kay “Jan” Brewer (born September 26, 1944) is the 22nd and current Governor of the U.S. state of Arizona and a member of the Republican Party. She is the fourth woman, and third consecutive woman, to hold the office. Brewer previously served as Secretary of State of Arizona, from January 2003 until then-Governor Janet Napolitano resigned after being selected as Secretary of Homeland Security in January 2009. Brewer became Governor of Arizona as part of the line of succession, as determined by the Arizona constitution.

Born in California, Brewer attended Glendale Community College where she received a radiological technologist certificate.

Created in 1962 with one college, the MCCCD  currently consists of ten separately accredited colleges. Currently MCCCD – Maricopa County Community College District is the largest community college district in the United States. The main campus is a 147-acre (0.59 km2) site located at 59th and Olive Avenue in Glendale, Arizona, established April 12, 1965, GCC was established by the Governing Board as the second MCCCD college, and charged with serving the higher educational needs of the West Valley. In August 1967, the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools first accredited GCC as an individual college. Accreditation continues today through The Higher Learning Commission / North Central Association and includes both the GCC Main campus and the GCC North site.

Brewer’s political career started when she began attending school board meetings in 1981, and quickly became “unimpressed” by the board’s performance. Intending to run for a seat on the board, Brewer soon saw an opening in her local legislative district, and decided to run for State Representative.

Jan Brewer has served as a State Senator and State Representative for Arizona, from 1983 to 1996. Brewer also served as Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, before running for Arizona Secretary of State in 2002.

Brewer came into the national spotlight when, on April 23, 2010, she signed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an immigrant to be in Arizona without carrying registration documents required by federal law, authorizes state and local law enforcement of federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens. Brewer sought a full term as Governor of Arizona in the 2010 Arizona gubernatorial election, and was elected on November 3, 2010, winning with 55% of the vote over Democrat Terry Goddard‘s 42%.

Glendale, Arizona, is also the home of the important  Thunderbird School of Global Management – address given as – 1 Global Place, Glendale, AZ 85306-6000.

We are partial to that institution as we spent a year there 1974-75 and got very much interested as well in the particular American-Indian world of the US State of Arizona.
That is a really fine place to get an education for someone who aspires to be Governor.

The State of Arizona in general is still part of the American “wild-west” and 40 years ago it was still hard to find there people that were born in Arizona except the AmerIndians. The whites of the community were the colonists.

Jan Brewer came to our attention this weekend because of an unusual feat:

Jan Brewer Punched a Reporter When He Asked About Climate Change.

The following report by Connor Simpson of  The Atlantic Wire gives the story.

“You’ve been warned: Confront Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer about global warming, and she will curse at you and, maybe, if you’re lucky, she’ll take a swing at you, too.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

go to original article

A reporter for the local KTVK station in Arizona had the gall to ask Brewer if she thought global warming was real during a very short, very casual press conference about an energy conference this weekend. Brewer said something about it not being man made, which is silly, because science – and much has been made about that. The important part is what we didn’t know until now, which is what happened next.

After her answer, a handler swooped in and whisked her away, but about three paces out she turned back around to face the reporter who asked the last question. He had turned to a camera operator and seemed to be putting his microphone away. Brewer took her left hand, balled it into a fist and with the back of her hand she slugged the reporter on the back of his right arm. Not hard, but with enough force that he spun around to see what was going on.

After hitting the Welch, Brewer asked, “Where in the hell did that come from?” and the camera was still rolling, so the reporter included it in his report. Unfortunately, the punching wasn’t in the shot – which is why we’re just hearing about the thwack now – and so the world is denied a Jan Brewer punching GIF. But you can still watch her be really mad and swear at him here.

So, there you have it: Jan Brewer is not missing, but she does punch people. And with the swearing and the punching, Dana White is calling her to join the UFC’s new-fangled girl-fighting division, probably, which would be hilarious considering Arizona politicians and the UFC have a complicated history.

Global warming is a thing we pay attention to now, so a handler tried to get Brewer out of there before anything more could happen. But the governor wanted to confront the reporter, KTVK’s Dennis Welch, who got his answer and was packing his things – so she whacked him on the arm to get his attention. Like, with a fist. A closed first, even, so it wasn’t one of those sissy pro-wrestling punches. A photographer present at the rumble told Jim Romensko all the details.

A comment that came in after the report says:

dovelane1 2012-12-08 02:54 – As was mentioned, Brewer not only crossed the “physical contact” boundary, she swore at the reporter as well.

This kind of disrespect over what I consider to be a legitimate question makes me wonder as well what else might be going on.

For a publicly elected official to take what appears to be a legitimate question so PERSONALLY, and then blame the reporter enough to cross both a verbal and physical boundary, raises big red flags for me. It could be the tip of an iceberg, and people in Arizona need to be aware of this.

For fairness we bring also: # FDRva 2012-12-06 23:41

I am a left-winger–bu t not a believer in Wall Street’s hoped-for carbon-trading ‘global warming’ financial bubble.

I would not in a million years vote for Jan Brewer for much of anything. But I  would have hit that reporter twice as hard.

The media community is at least as corrupt as the political community–but for some reason the media doesn’t cover their own corruption very often.


And to cap it: # seeuingoa 2012-12-08 01:38  — You don´t need “beware of the dog” signs in Arizona.
Further – also Arizona – it was Senator McCain – married into a well to do older family of Arizona – who brought upon the US the Sarah Palin persona of Alaska — unleashing on us the fighting female religious ideologues without a real education that have the fist-power to mess up the world while misrepresenting their positions as doing things for future generations.
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  1. Palin Spends First Day of Republican Convention in Arizona

    Aug 27, 2012 Far from Tampa, Fla., Sarah Palin campaigned in Arizona for Kirk Adams, who is
    vying for the Republican nomination in the state’s Fifth

  2. Sarah Palin campaigns for Kirk Adams in Gilbert

    Aug 27, 2012 One well-known Republican will not be at the convention — instead, Sarah Palin
    will start the week right here in Arizona.

  3. Why is Sarah Palin in Arizona Today? « Malia Litman’s Blog

    malialitman.wordpress.com/…/why-is-sarah-palin-in-arizona-today/Im Cache

    Aug 27, 2012 Sarah Palin is in Gilbert Arizona today. Gilbert is a town of roughly 200,000
    people , 81% of whom are white. Only 3% are African American,

  4. Palin skips GOP convention, campaigns in AZ – CBS 5 – KPHO

    Aug 27, 2012 Sarah Palin will campaign for 5th District Congressional candidate Kirk Adams
    CBS 5 – KPHO Palin skips GOP convention, campaigns in AZ

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Kirk Adams was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and graduated from Mountain View High School (Mesa) in Mesa, Arizona in 1991.

Political career of Kirk Adams who lost that primary for which Sarah Palin came to help.

Adams was first elected to the Arizona legislature in 2006. During his tenure in the State House, Adams endorsed legislation which resulted in the largest permanent tax cut in Arizona history. As Speaker, Adams took on public-employee unions, authoring legislation to reform Arizona’s pension system for public employees by raising the retirement age, eliminating cost of living adjustments, preventing employees from receiving a pension while working, reducing benefits for elected officials and requiring police officers, firefighters, elected officials and corrections employees pay more for their pensions. Adams opted out of the elected officials retirement plan, earning him recognition from the National Taxpayers Union.

As Speaker, Adams supported Arizona’s immigration reform bill and solicited outside funding to defend the measure in court.

The 2012 Congressional campaign

In the Spring of 2011, Adams resigned from office to announce that he would run in 2012 for Congress in Arizona’s 5th congressional district, after redistricting, the seat left open by Jeff Flake. He was then defeated by former Congressman Matt Salmon in the primary of August 2012.

Post 2012 Congressional Campaign

A few weeks after losing his primary race against Matt Salmon for a congressional seat, Adams became president of Americans for Responsible Leadership a political lobbying non-profit 501(c)(4). Adams has claimed as one of his responsibilities the allocation of funds and directed $750,000 spent opposing Arizona Proposition 204, and $450,000 against Proposition_121. It has also been learned that Americans_for_Responsible_Leadership under Adams’ direction funneled a total of $11 million from Americans for Job Security and the Center to Protect Patient Rights donated by undisclosed sources to groups in California who used the money to oppose California’s Proposition 30 and in support of the anti union Proposition 32. Prop 30 won, Prop 32 was defeated and California’s Attorney General is considering a money laundering investigation against Americans_for_Responsible_Leadership and those that directed its funds.

Adams and his wife JaNae live in Mesa and have six children. Adams is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Give Pot a Chance.

By Timothy Egan, at the OPINIONATOR Column of the New York Times – November 22, 2012,

SEATTLE – In two weeks, adults in this state will no longer be arrested or incarcerated for something that nearly 30 million Americans did last year. For the first time since prohibition began 75 years ago, recreational marijuana use will be legal; the misery-inducing crusade to lock up thousands of ordinary people has at last been seen, by a majority of voters in this state and in Colorado, for what it is: a monumental failure.

That is, unless the Obama administration steps in with an injunction, as it has threatened to in the past, against common sense. For what stands between ending this absurd front in the dead-ender war on drugs and the status quo is the federal government. It could intervene, citing the supremacy of federal law that still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.

But it shouldn’t. Social revolutions in a democracy, especially ones that begin with voters, should not be lightly dismissed. Forget all the lame jokes about Cheetos and Cheech and Chong. In the two-and-a-half weeks since a pair of progressive Western states sent a message that arresting 853,000 people a year for marijuana offenses is an insult to a country built on individual freedom, a whiff of positive, even monumental change is in the air.

In Mexico, where about 60,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, political leaders are voicing cautious optimism that the tide could turn for the better. What happens when the United States, the largest consumer of drugs in the world, suddenly opts out of a black market that is the source of gangland death and corruption? That question, in small part, may now be answered.

Prosecutors in Washington and Colorado have announced they are dropping cases, effective immediately, against people for pot possession. I’ve heard from a couple of friends who are police officers, and guess what: they have a lot more to do than chase around recreational drug users.

Maine (ever-sensible Maine!) and Iowa, where the political soil is uniquely suited to good ideas, are looking to follow the Westerners. Within a few years, it seems likely that a dozen or more states will do so as well.

And for one more added measure of good karma, on Election Day, Representative Dan Lungren, nine-term Republican from California and a tired old drug warrior who backed some of the most draconian penalties against his fellow citizens, was ousted from office.

But there remains the big question of how President Obama will handle the cannabis spring. So far, he and Attorney General Eric Holder have been silent. I take that as a good sign, and certainly a departure from the hard-line position they took when California voters were considering legalization a few years ago. But if they need additional nudging, here are three reasons to let reason stand:

Hypocrisy. Popular culture and the sports-industrial complex would collapse without all the legal drugs that promise to extend erections, reduce inhibitions and keep people awake all night. I’m talking to you, Viagra, alcohol and high-potency energy drinks. Worse, perhaps, is the $25 billion nutritional supplement industry, offerings pills that make exaggerated health claims and steroid-based hormones that can have significant bad consequences. The corporate cartels behind these products get away with minimal regulation because of powerful backers like Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

In two years through 2011, more than 2,200 serious illnesses, including 33 fatalities, were reported by consumers of nutritional supplements. Federal officials have received reports of 13 deaths and 92 serious medical events from Five Hour Energy. And how many people died of marijuana ingestion? Of course, just because well-marketed, potentially hazardous potions are legal is no argument to bring pot onto retail shelves. But it’s hard to make a case for fairness when one person’s method of relaxation is cause for arrest while another’s lands him on a Monday night football ad.

Tax and regulate. Already, 18 states and the District of Columbia allow medical use of marijuana. This chaotic and unregulated system has resulted in price-gouging, phony prescriptions and outright scams. No wonder the pot dispensaries have opposed legalization — it could put them out of business.

Washington State officials estimate that taxation and regulation of licensed marijuana retail stores will generate $532 million in new revenue every year. Expand that number nationwide, and then also add into the mix all the wasted billions now spent investigating and prosecuting marijuana cases.

With pot out of the black market, states can have a serious discussion about use and abuse. The model is the campaign against drunk driving, which has made tremendous strides and saved countless lives at a time when alcohol is easier to get than ever before. Education, without one-sided moralizing, works.

Lead:

That’s what transformative presidents do. From his years as a community organizer — and a young man whose own recreational drug use could have made him just another number in lockup — Obama knows well that racial minorities are disproportionately jailed for these crimes. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 25 percent of its prisoners — and about 500,000 of them are behind bars for drug offenses. On cost alone — up to $60,000 a year, to taxpayers, per prisoner — this is unsustainable.

Obama is uniquely suited to make the argument for change. On this issue, he’ll have support from the libertarian right and the humanitarian left. The question is not the backing — it’s whether the president will have the backbone.

=======================================

And The New York Times Editorial Of Today:

Editorial

An Ineffective Way to Fight Crime.

Published: November 22, 2012

More than a year has passed since Commissioner Raymond Kelly of the New York Police Department issued a memorandum ordering officers to follow a 1977 state law that bars them from arresting people with small amounts of marijuana unless the drug is being publicly displayed. Even so, a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society in June and pending in state court makes the case that the police are still arresting people illegally in clear violation of both the commissioner’s directive and the state law. More than 50,000 possession arrests were made last year.

{For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.}

Law enforcement officers have often described these arrests as a way of reining in criminals whose other, more serious activities present a danger to the public. But state statistics show that of the nearly 12,000 teenagers arrested last year, nearly 94 percent had no prior convictions and nearly half had never been arrested.

Now a new study by Human Rights Watch further debunks the main premise of New York City’s “broken windows” law enforcement campaign, which holds that clamping down on small offenses like simple marijuana possession prevents serious crime and gets hard-core criminals off the streets.

The study tracked about 30,000 people arrested for marijuana possession in 2003-4 — none of whom had prior convictions — for periods of six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years. The study found that about only 1,000 of them had a subsequent violent felony conviction. Some had misdemeanor or felony drug convictions, but more than 90 percent of the study group had no felony convictions whatsoever. The report concluded that the Police Department was sweeping “large numbers of people into New York City’s criminal justice system — particularly young people of color — who do not subsequently engage in violent crime.” This wastes millions of dollars and unfairly puts people through the criminal system.

In 1990, fewer than 1,000 people were arrested for minor possession. The 1977 law was intended to stop police officers from jailing young people for tiny amounts of marijuana and to allow prosecutors to focus on more serious crimes. It made possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation and punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense. To discourage open use of the drug, however, lawmakers made public display a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of $500.

In the past decade, civil rights lawyers have complained that police officers were arresting and charging people with public display of the drug, even though officers had found the contraband while rifling people’s pockets or after tricking them into exposing it.

Those arrested for minor possession — even if their cases are eventually dismissed — can endure grave collateral consequences. They can lose job opportunities, access to housing and can be turned away when applying for military service.

About 80 percent of those arrested are black or Hispanic. This has led the legal scholars Amanda Geller and Jeffrey Fagan to label the city’s marijuana campaign “a racial tax” because it takes a heavy toll on minorities, while bringing little or nothing in the way of crime reduction.

The Legislature could go a long way toward ending unfair prosecutions by adopting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal NOT to make public display of a small amount of marijuana a violation, unless the person was smoking the drug in public. {the editorial has omitted the word NOT seemingly by mistake}

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As Tallies Confirm Results of Arizona Races, Many Call for a Faster Way to Count.

Joshua Lott for The New York Times

Demonstrators in Phoenix on Nov. 7, 2012  called for votes to be counted.

By
Published by The New York Times: November 22, 2012

PHOENIX — It took until 15 days after the election, but all valid votes in Arizona have now been counted, including a record number of provisional ballots that fueled suspicions of voter suppression among Latino voters and raised questions about the integrity of the electoral process in the state.

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The tallies ended on Wednesday after officials gave the state’s most populous counties — Maricopa, which encompasses Phoenix, and Pima, which includes Tucson — permission to extend their counts past last Friday’s deadline so that they could get through the tens of thousands of provisional ballots cast in both places.

Results announced on or just after election night remained unchanged, though it took days for three Congressional races to be decided. All of them were won by Democrats, who will replace Republicans as a majority in the state’s Congressional delegation come January. It was only on Wednesday afternoon that one of the winners, Kyrsten Sinema, was able to find out the number of votes that put her ahead of her opponent, Vernon Parker, a Republican, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District — “10,251,” she announced on Twitter. “Thank you.”

In an interview, the secretary of state, Ken Bennett, insisted “the system is not broken,” saying it took just as many days to count the votes four years ago as it did this time. Still, he acknowledged that the state could do better, joining a growing chorus of elected officials, civil rights advocates and community organizers calling for a faster way to tally the ballots.

“Speed is not our No. 1 goal. Accuracy is our No. 1 goal. But that doesn’t mean we can’t think of a way to speed up the process,” Mr. Bennett said.

Ideas and plenty of criticism have been floating around in meetings, e-mail and letters since the exact number of ballots left to be counted after the polls closed — 631,274 — came to be known.

This week, Democrats called for a bipartisan investigation to scrutinize some of the issues raised by voters and campaigns, like the fragmentation of the election process — run independently by each of the state’s 15 counties — and the difficulties some voters who signed up to vote by mail seemed to have had in differentiating sample ballots from real ones.

“We need the process to be better explained to voters, especially because we had so many new voters registered ahead of the election,” said Luis Heredia, the executive director of the state’s Democratic Party.

In Maricopa County, which has roughly 60 percent of all registered voters in the state, 115,000 votes were cast through provisional ballots, a 15 percent increase from 2008, based on state records. Some 59,000 people who requested early ballots also went to the polls on Nov. 6, accounting for almost half of all provisional ballots cast. According to complaints logged by grass-roots groups working to mobilize Latino voters, many were first-time voters who signed up to get their ballots by mail and claimed not to have received them.

The county’s recorder, Helen Purcell, said it was possible that some voters tossed their ballots, not knowing what they were. Advocates countered that the state should have run a more comprehensive voter-education campaign.

Instead, there was confusion, they said, particularly with outreach to Spanish-speaking voters in Maricopa County, where leaflets listed the wrong date for the election. Petra Falcón, executive director of Promise Arizona, part of a coalition that says it has registered almost 35,000 voters this year, said that based on the complaints, language barriers also kept many Spanish-speaking voters in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods from understanding poll workers.

“We need certain skill sets to address the changing electorate, and one of them is language,” Ms. Falcón said.

She and her counterparts are nonetheless celebrating small victories. They supported Paul Penzone, a Democrat, who came closer than anyone to defeating Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Republican elected to a sixth term. (Mr. Arpaio won by 80,639 votes.)

Also, in a state where registered Republicans hold a plurality, Latino voters helped Richard H. Carmona, a Latino and a Democrat, stay competitive against his Republican opponent, Jeff Flake, in the race for the Senate seat held by Jon Kyl, a Republican who is retiring. (Mr. Carmona lost by fewer than 68,000 votes.)

One of the questions that remains is whether provisional ballots were cast disproportionately by Latino and black voters. Though an analysis of where the provisional ballots came from could take some time, Ms. Falcón said, “Behind every provisional ballot was a determined voter who knew their vote needed to count that day.”

A version of this article appeared in print on November 23, 2012, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: As Tallies Confirm Results of Arizona Races, Many Call for a Faster Way to Count.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We visited the cell- bloc where US Officer John McCain was held at the “Hanoi Hilton” – this because his father had a high position in the Vietnam War. Had it not been for the Vietnamese wanting to butter up his father – young McCain would at best have worked in the Rice patches. That could have done wonders to the development of his personality, and have allowed him a measure of US patriotism he does not seem to have when he showed up differentiating between the services of a Republican Rice variety – Condalezza Rice, and the Democratic Rice variety – Susan Rice.

Dear Senator – both Rice kernels did exactly what they were supposed to do – represent their Presidents who sent them in harms way – to the UN.  – as your father did by sending you to Vietnam.

These two Rice cousins – very much alike in their backgrounds – just had no father like you did – but thought they present correctly the US interest in that foreign body. You on the other hand just thought what is best for you in the internal US warfare that may yet turn out to be the background of the fact that FBI agents exposed foibles of well performing two US generals – weakening US defense.

—————

November 16, 2012, The New York Times

McCain on Rice

By ANDREW ROSENTHAL

Earlier this week, John McCain argued that Susan Rice is “not qualified” to be the next secretary, since she said the Benghazi attack began spontaneously.

“She’s not qualified. Anyone who goes on national television and in defiance of the facts, five days later — We’re all responsible for what we say and what we do. I’m responsible to my voters. She’s responsible to the Senate of the United States. We have our responsibility for advice and consent.” (CBS “This Morning”)

“I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States Secretary of State. She has proven that she either doesn’t understand or she is not willing to accept evidence on its face.” (Fox and Friends)

In 2005, Mr. McCain argued that Condoleezza Rice was qualified to be the next secretary of state, even though she testified that there were WMDs in Iraq.

“So I wonder why we are starting this new Congress with a protracted debate about a foregone conclusion. . . . I can only conclude we are doing this for no other reason than lingering bitterness at the outcome of the elections. . . . We all have varying policy views, but the President, in my view, has a clear right to put in place the team he believed would serve him best.” (The Senate floor)

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AND IN REAL LIFE – we just picked the following from a traders posting when he looked at the economy at large – the professed most important question of sustainability these days – after these elections just passed.


There are 29 trading days and counting until the U.S. reaches the Fiscal Cliff.

That’s how many trading sessions remain before massive (and automatic) tax increases and expenditure cuts take effect.

And in the roll up to this non event (more in a moment), energy shares have been hit hard.

Well, three points up front to put some sanity into this overwrought conversation.

First, the cliff will never take place. Pundits are treating this like some definitive confirmation of a Mayan prophecy.

CNN has what amounts to a daily “cliff dive,” giving us the next eagerly awaited pearl of wisdom on yet another calamity to befall if the mess hits. CNBC is handing out “Rise Above” buttons with great fanfare to oblige politicos to move away from partisan rancor.

Great! The three-piece suits inside the Beltway would never have figured out what needed to be done without a button. They know and they will kick something (a can, an accounting device, a legislative reprieve) further along before the deadline hits.

This is a grand nonevent; it will never take place, especially after the election we just experienced. With an impending budgetary crisis looming, the Senate Republican leadership put defeating Obama as their number one goal (a “let’s show everybody that the real issues are less important than politics” approach if there ever was one).

They lost.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic leadership cast the situation as a “saving of the American dream,” after failing to curb an unemployment trend or reassure small business about prospects.

They lost.

So here we are back where we started before the costliest campaign season Americans have ever witnessed.

Except, this time, something big has changed. And it’s all because of the electorate.

All of the posturing is done. All of the TV ads are history. And all the consultants have been paid. Yet nothing has changed. There are no further excuses. If there is one thing the electorate said loud and clear two weeks ago, it is this.

Blaming the other guy isn’t working.

Congress and the White House have that message. Both parties will now learn how to play together. The nation has no further interest in hissy fits, temper tantrums, or time outs. We may not like all of what is coming, but these folks will finally earn their salaries.

Second, at the first indication of a settlement, this over-emotional roller coaster the market has been riding will straighten out – and start moving up. We are seeing some initial indications that the primary decline is flattening out. Volatility remains high, and there is a double whammy currently enticing investors to sell.

On the one hand, if you believe the cliff is going to happen and taxes on dividends are going up, selling winners now makes sense to save on what you pay to dear Uncle Sam after the fact.

On the other, if the dreaded fall occurs, stocks are going to take another major hit. That becomes a second pressure to sell, this time just about any stock whether in the red or the black right now.

All of this is resulting in a seriously oversold market.

When the cliff is averted a bit more than a month from now, an image of fish and barrels comes to mind.

================================

But even that does not interest the anti-Obama pundits. Please see the partisan “no-prisoners go for the kill” Breitbart blog:
 www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/all

by John NolteNov 16, 2012

On the editorial page of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal rips Republicans for raising questions and demanding answers about Libya:

Something obviously went wrong in Benghazi. An Ambassador died. It’s necessary and appropriate to discuss what happened so as to avoid similar missteps in the future. But missteps don’t always add up to a scandal; and confusion after the fact doesn’t necessarily constitute a cover up. The more time Republicans spend going down the conspiracy path, the less time gets devoted to learning from our mistakes and rectifying them.

This is all part of the whack-a-mole strategy we’ve seen the media engage in, literally, since day one when the media spent a week massacring Mitt Romney for criticizing the Cairo Embassy apology on Sept. 11 of this year, the day the Middle East blew up and our Libyan consulate was attacked. Then he was brutalized by moderator Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate for bringing the Administration’s false Libya narrative up.

Now that the media no longer has Romney to kick around, they’ve spent the last three days attacking McCain for raising the issue. And now we have the editorial page of the Times assaulting the Republican Party as a whole.

When the media wants something, whether it’s Mitt Romney to release tax returns or President Obama to come out of the closet and tell the truth about his position on same sex marriage, they make no secret of wanting it. And it’s been obvious since the beginning, that the media does not want answers on Libya. The only time we see any energy from the media on the issue are in these attacks on anyone who does want answers.

If the media was doing its job and demanding a full and final accounting of everything involving Libya, Republicans wouldn’t have to make this stink.

It’s fine if the media thinks Republicans are over-stepping on some of these issues, but couldn’t they brush back those who are while at the same time demanding answers  from the White House and State Department?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Justices to Revisit Voting Act in View of a Changing South

By
The New York Times – Published: November 9, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would take a fresh look at the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement.

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Related in Opinion  - Editorial: A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote (November 10, 2012)

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Three years ago, the court signaled that part of the law may no longer be needed, and the law’s challengers said the re-election of the nation’s first black president is proof that the nation has moved beyond the racial divisions that gave rise to efforts to protect the integrity of elections in the South.

The law “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp,” said Edward P. Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a small legal foundation that helped organize the suit.

Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, pointed to the role the law played in the recent election, with courts relying on it to block voter identification requirements and cutbacks on early voting.

“In the midst of the recent assault on voter access, the Voting Rights Act is playing a pivotal role beating back discriminatory voting measures,” said Debo P. Adegbile, the acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, expected by June, could reshape how elections are conducted.

The case concerns Section 5 of the law, which requires many state and local governments, mostly in the South, to obtain permission, or “preclearance,” from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes that affect voting. Critics of the law call the preclearance requirement a unique federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified.

The preclearance requirement, originally set to expire in five years, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1966 as a rational response to the often flagrantly lawless conduct of some Southern officials then.

Congress has repeatedly extended the requirement: for 5 years in 1970, 7 years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years.

But it made no changes to the list of jurisdictions covered by Section 5, relying instead on a formula based on historical practices and voting data from elections held decades ago. It applies to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states.

Should the court rule that Congress was not entitled to rely on outdated data to decide which jurisdictions should be covered, lawmakers could in theory go back to the drawing board and re-enact the law using fresher information. In practice, given the political realities, a decision striking down the coverage formula would probably amount to the end of Section 5.

In May, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to the law filed by Shelby County, Ala. Judge David S. Tatel, writing for the majority, acknowledged that “the extraordinary federalism costs imposed by Section 5 raise substantial constitutional concerns,” and he added that the record compiled by Congress to justify the law’s renewal was “by no means unambiguous.”

“But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered,” he went on. The constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War, he said, “entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote — surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution — is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people’s elected representatives.”

The dissenting member of the panel, Judge Stephen F. Williams, surveyed recent evidence concerning registration and turnout, the election of black officials, the use of federal election observers and suits under another part of the law.

Some of that evidence, he said, “suggests that the coverage formula completely lacks any rational connection to current levels of voter discrimination,” while other evidence indicates that the formula, “though not completely perverse, is a remarkably bad fit with Congress’s concerns.”

“Given the drastic remedy imposed on covered jurisdictions by Section 5,” he wrote, “I do not believe that such equivocal evidence can sustain the scheme.”

The Supreme Court has already once considered the constitutionality of the 2006 extension of the law in a 2009 decision, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. But it avoided answering the central question, and it seemed to give Congress an opportunity to make adjustments. Congress did not respond.

At the argument of the 2009 case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the distinctions drawn in the 2006 law reflect contemporary realities.

“Congress has made a finding that the sovereignty of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio,” Justice Kennedy said. “The sovereignty of Alabama is less than the sovereign dignity of Michigan. And the governments in one are to be trusted less than the governments in the other.”

“No one questions the validity, the urgency, the essentiality of the Voting Rights Act,” he added. “The question is whether or not it should be continued with this differentiation between the states. And that is for Congress to show.”

In the end, the court, in an 8-to-1 decision, ducked the central question and ruled instead on a narrow statutory ground, saying the utility district in Austin, Tex., that had challenged the constitutionality of the law might be eligible to “bail out” from being covered by it. Still, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, was skeptical about the continued need for Section 5.

“The historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable,” he wrote. But “things have changed in the South.

“Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity,” he wrote. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.

“The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old,” he added,“and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.”

Having said all of that, and acknowledging that the court’s alternative ruling had stretched the text of the statute, Chief Justice Roberts said the court should avoid deciding hard constitutional questions when it could. “Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today,” he wrote.

On Friday, in agreeing to hear the case, Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96, the court indicated that it is prepared to provide an answer to the question it left open three years ago.

—————————–

The New York Times Editorial

A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote

Published: November 9, 2012

The Supreme Court decided on Friday to review Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been crucial in combating efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. The justices should uphold the validity of the section, which requires nine states and parts of several others with deep histories of racial discrimination to get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to their voting rules.


The case, Shelby County v. Holder, was brought by an Alabama county, which contends that Section 5 intrudes unconstitutionally on the sovereign authority of states and that federal review of proposed voting changes, once needed to end legal segregation, is no longer required.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just this year, Republican efforts to block the votes of minorities and the poor — which were rejected again and again by federal judges relying on the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5 — have made that utterly clear.

Judge John Bates of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, rejected Shelby County’s challenge last year, noting that Congress, in renewing the section in 2006, found that “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”

In May, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld his ruling, saying that discrimination in voting is “one of the gravest evils that Congress can seek to redress” and that Congress’s painstaking research in its renewal of Section 5 (22 hearings and 15,000 pages of evidence) “deserves judicial deference.”

In another voting rights case in 2009, the Supreme Court said there were “serious constitutional questions” about whether Section 5 meets a current need. That comment left some legal experts with the impression that the court came close to striking down the provision. But the justices did not do so in that case, and they have even less reason to in this case. Overt discrimination clearly persists and remains pernicious in places like Shelby County.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

REFF-West is only 4 weeks away – the 5th Renewable Energy Finance Forum – West.

THe revised agenda will equip you with take away strategies to improve your bottom line.

Where is it?         The Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco, CA

When is it?          September 27 & 28, 2012

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The 5th REFF West will put you face to face with other individuals who share a common ambition in financing and developing renewable energy projects on the west coast.

Don’t just take my word for it; listen to what others have said…

REFF-West brings together the leading participants in RE finance under one roof.”
Michael Mendelsohn, NREL

The quality of people and knowledge as well as the presentation approaches were thoughtful, informative, and entertaining.”
Leslie Solmes, LAS & Associates

If you haven’t seen the agenda yet, you can view it here in full.

There are three easy ways to register, simply:

Visit: www.reffwest.com

Call: +1 212 901 382

Email: energyevents@euromoneyplc.com

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If you’re not able to join us in September,  you could forward this email on to one of your colleagues at Independent Consultants.

I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.

Yours sincerely,

Dawn Butcher
Director of Event Planning & Marketing
American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In sun-drenched land, Israel’s solar power industry stifled by government bureaucracy

By Associated Press, Published: August 28, 2012.

KVUTZAT YAVNE, Israel — Israel has developed some of the world’s most advanced solar energy equipment and enjoys a nearly endless supply of sunshine, but when it comes to deploying large-scale solar technology at home, the country remains in the dark ages.
SustainabiliTank.info comment – Though Israel is at the head of the pack technology-wise, and active in its position business-wise outside the country, when it comes to review activities inside Israel, it is basically a government imposed desert in the Netanyahu years. So far from the understanding Ben Gurion had on these topics.

If you read this in the United States, think of Netanyahu’s Israel when imagining a Romney Administration in the United States – same government prejudices leading to same government inaction that feels like retardiness!!}

Solar power provides just a tiny percentage of Israel’s energy needs, leaving it far behind colder, cloudier counterparts in Europe. Israeli solar companies, frustrated by government bureaucracy, have taken their expertise abroad.

Fifty years ago, Israel was at the front of the pack, with simple solar water heaters on top of its apartment buildings. They’re still there, but little else has moved forward.

Advanced solar power has come to the tiny community of Kvutzat Yavneh, but its small scale is more an example of what can be done than what has been done.

Nestled in grape vines and pomegranate trees in south-central Israel, the 16 glimmering installations, each of them four meters (14 feet) tall, are an odd sight in this traditional collective farm, which also features a pickling factory and a barn.

The solar panels provide the community with nearly all of its hot water, and the electricity they generate is sold to Israel’s main energy provider, the Israel Electric Corp.

Miriam Schlusselberg, a secretary at the kibbutz, said the 320 residents are “very excited” to get solar power in their backyard. But she also acknowledged that solar energy on a large scale “is not going to develop on its own unless people start investing in it.”

The field in Kvutzat Yavne, built by the Israeli company ZenithSolar Ltd. in 2009, has a maximum capacity of about a quarter of a megawatt of combined thermal and electric power. That’s not even a dent in Israel’s overall capacity of some 12,000 megawatts.

“This is, unfortunately for us, our only project in Israel,” said Roy Segev, co-founder of ZenithSolar. “I think there was a poor policy from the Israeli government. It was a total neglect of the possibility to create a big industry in Israel.”

Segev said there has not been enough government investment in solar manufacturing or startup companies. He pointed out that industry leaders such as Germany and Italy have outpaced Israel in solar development, despite having fewer sunny days and less powerful sunrays. The Germans, for instance, generate nearly 12 times as much solar power per capita as their Israeli counterparts, according to official statistics from both countries.

Israel has a solar capacity — the amount of energy it could continuously generate in ideal conditions — of 212 megawatts, most of which comes from rooftop installations, according to the electric company. That accounts for less than 2 percent of the nationwide capacity and falls well short of the country’s 2014 goal of 1,480 megawatts from solar sources.

As a result, “no one in the international community is going to take Israel seriously going forward,” said Jon Cohen, CEO of the Arava Power Co. “The natural resource exists, the real national need exist — it’s really a mystery why (solar) is being blocked.”

Cohen spearheaded Israel’s first major commercial solar project, the Ketura Sun plant. The 5-megawatt facility is in the Negev desert, an arid, sparsely populated wedge of land that makes up the southern two-thirds of Israel. The area enjoys around 330 sunny days a year, making it an ideal site for solar power.

But no more large-scale projects have launched since Ketura Sun began operating in June 2011.
“We thought we’d be raising the pioneer flag,” Cohen said, pointing out that his company fought for four years to get the necessary approvals and permits for the field. “We were hoping we’d have more to show on the ground promptly, and here we are a year later, and we haven’t gone far.”
There are some signs of change.

In March, Ashalim Sun PV, a U.S.-Israeli consortium, won a government tender to construct three major solar power plants in the Negev that will provide a combined 250 megawatts of power. The plant is not expected to open until 2015 at the earliest.

Cohen has 10 projects in the works that envisage producing a total of 100 megawatts when completed. Three are still awaiting government approval, a situation he described as “tense and endless.”

Smadar Bat-Adam, chief of staff for Israel’s Energy and Water Resources Ministry, acknowledged that red tape has been an issue. “We are trying to solve the bureaucratic problems,” she said.
Bat-Adam said the overambitious 2014 target was set several years ago, before Israel had substantial solar infrastructure or regulation. While that may not be reached, she said Israel is on track to reach its 2020 benchmark of generating 10 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources.

“When it comes to infrastructure projects, it always takes time,” she said.

Currently Israel gets most of its power from burning imported fossil fuels, but there is interest in developing alternative sources such as wind and solar. Israel is also rapidly developing natural gas reserves off its Mediterranean coast.

Recognizing solar power’s potential, the Israeli government set up a “feed-in tariff” incentive in 2008, agreeing to pay developers higher-than-retail prices for solar energy fed back into the grid.
Because the government does not want to overpay, it has repeatedly adjusted the tariff as solar equipment has gotten cheaper. As a result, many large projects are on hold, awaiting a firm price.
Many analysts and industry professionals believe this uncertainty has hindered investment.
“The sad reality is that we’ve raised quite a lot from Israeli investors, and we are taking this money and investing it overseas because the industries are more consistent,” said Nimrod Goor, a founding managing partner at Helios Energy Investments LP, an Israel-based infrastructure equity fund.

The situation has made some experts skeptical of Israel’s commitment to harvesting its ample sunlight.

Uri Marinov, an environmental management professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya and a former director of the Israeli Environment Ministry, said decision makers are making “big, big mistakes” through unnecessary regulations.

“Anyone who wants to build a solar field should be able to do it,” he said.

Israel is still a leader in solar research and development. Segev teamed up with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to produce a little household system that reflects concentrated sunlight onto a receiver, producing electricity with roughly two times the efficiency of standard panels. Segev hopes the new model, named the Z10, will find a market in homes throughout Israel.

One of the Z10’s advantages? “It doesn’t need any government support or intervention to set it up,” Segev said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Going Solar the Easy Way

If you’ve thought about going solar, but weren’t sure you could afford it, think again. As the New York Times wrote in a recent profile of our Sierra Club Solar Homes partner, Sungevity, “residential solar power has never been more affordable.”

The secret is that, instead of buying your system, you can lease it (often with no money down) and start enjoying solar savings right away. To get a quote, all you need is a computer, your home address, and three minutes.

Best of all, Sierra Club members and supporters who decide to go solar by August 31 through our program will get a $1,000 bonus.

Sierra Club Solar Homes Campaign is currently active in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.

Go Solar with the Sierra Club

Limited Time Offer: Go Solar by August 31 and you get $1000!

I’m very happy with my solar panels. The panel installation went flawlessly, and Sungevity does a good job monitoring and servicing the system. In the future I will see a net savings because utility costs will rise faster than my lease amount. I was also happy that Sierra Club got money back from Sungevity.
—David S, California

Sungevity has an excellent reputation, strong financial backing, and shares our commitment to creating a vibrant clean energy economy—that’s why they’re giving the Sierra Club $750 for every member or supporter who goes solar with them.

We did an extensive review to choose the right partner, and we believe that Sungevity’s offer makes it affordable and easy for Sierra Club members and supporters to go solar. Conduct your own due diligence and speak with a representative about your personalized solar evaluation to ensure that going solar with Sungevity is right for you.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson
The Washington Post, Opinion Writer

Heating up debate on climate change.

Friday, August 10, 1:10 AM

Excuse me, folks, but the weather is trying to tell us something. Listen carefully, and you can almost hear a parched, raspy voice whispering: “What part of ‘hottest month ever’ do you people not understand?”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July was indeed the hottest month in the contiguous United States since record-keeping began more than a century ago. That distinction was previously held by July 1936, which came at the height of the Dust Bowl calamity that devastated the American heartland.

The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees — a full 3.3 degrees warmer than the 20th-century norm for July. This follows the warmest 12-month period ever recorded in the United States, and it continues a long-term trend that is obvious to all except those who stubbornly close their eyes: Of the 10 hottest years on record, nine have occurred since 2000.

James E. Hansen, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, summed it up in a piece he wrote for The Washington Post last week: “The future is now. And it is hot.”

Hansen wrote that when he testified before Congress in 1988 and painted a “grim picture” of the consequences of climate change, he was actually being too optimistic. His projections of how rapidly temperatures would rise were accurate, he wrote, but he “failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.”

Yes, scientists are finally asserting a direct connection between long-term climate trends and short-term weather events. This was always a convenient dodge for climate-change deniers. There might be a warming trend over decades or centuries, they would say, but no specific heat wave, hurricane or hailstorm could definitively be attributed to climate change.

“To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change,” Hansen wrote. “The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change.”

Hansen went on: “The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.”

If you won the lottery yesterday, feel free to stop reading. If you didn’t, stick with me a bit longer.

The other escape hatch for deniers is the question of why the Earth’s atmosphere is warming. Yes, there may be climate change, this argument goes, but we know there have been ice ages in the past and other big temperature variations. What we’re witnessing is due to natural processes — perhaps some long-term cycle we are too feeble to comprehend. You can’t prove that human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, is to blame.

Gallup poll last year found that this view — essentially, “You can’t pin it on our SUVs” — has been gaining traction in this country, even as it has become discredited elsewhere. Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of U.S. adults who believed human activity contributed to warming declined from 60 percent to 48 percent.

I wrote a column last fall when University of California at Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, one of the leading skeptics on climate change, reversed field and announced that his own careful research indicated that the atmosphere is, indeed, warming rapidly. Last week, Muller announced in the New York Times: “I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

Muller, who heads the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, wrote that he and his team tried correlating the observed warming with phenomena such as solar activity and volcanic eruptions. “By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” he wrote.

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising because of human activity — the burning of fossil fuels. The more we burn, Muller wrote, the faster the atmosphere will warm.

And the crazier the weather will get.

We can’t do anything about the greenhouse gases we’ve already spewed into the atmosphere, but we can minimize the damage we do in the future. We can launch a serious initiative to develop and deploy alternative sources of energy. We can decide what kind of environment we leave to our grandchildren.

I’d like to hear President Obama and Mitt Romney talk about the future of the planet. What about you?

eugenerobinson@washpost.com

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WE EMPHASIZE THIS:  WE LIKE TO HEAR FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER MITT ROMNEY – WHAT DO THEY INTEND TO DO ABOUT THIS MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY ON PLANET EARTH?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CULTURAL SURVIVAL

The impulse for the founding of Cultural Survival arose during the 1960s with the “opening up” of the Amazonian regions of South America and other remote regions elsewhere. As governments all over the world sought to extract resources from areas that had never before been developed, the drastic effects this trend had on the regions’ Indigenous Peoples underscored the urgent need to partner with Indigenous communities to defend their human rights. Cultural Survival was founded to help Indigenous Peoples in their struggles for human rights, sovereignty, and autonomy.
Partnering with Indigenous Peoples to Defend their Lands, Languages, and Cultures
July 25, 2012
Rigoberta González Sul.
© Danielle DeLuca

On July 7–8, 2012, members of 15 community radio stations partnering with Cultural Survival’s radio network across Guatemala gathered for a workshop in the Mujb’ab’l Yol training center in San Mateo, Quetzaltenango. The workshop focused on the difficult topic of historical memory of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict, which claimed the lives of 200,000 mostly Indigenous people. With the goal of using self-expression as a tool to alleviate trauma, participants wrote and
recorded poems about the armed conflict in Spanish and their native Mayan languages. Leading the workshop was Alberto “Tino” Recinos (Mam), Cultural Survival’s citizen participation coordinator, who ran the guerilla radio station Voz Popular during the armed conflict. Recinos founded a community radio station after the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996.

Below, read one of the poems written by ex-combatant Rigoberta Gonzalez Sul, and member of the radio station Radio Ixchel.  Written in Spanish, the poem is a call to women to be strong in the face of the traumas they experienced in the war.

Romper el Silencio
By Rigoberta González Sul

36 años inolvidables y dolorosas,
sembró lágrimas y tristezas.
Indujo a la mujer en el silencio y traumas.
Impidiendo el desarrollo integral de la mujer
en su identidad y valores.
Mujer, basta. Ya
ya no más lágrimas.
Ya no más violación a nuestros derechos humanos
Rompamos el silencio, alcemos nuestras voces libremente.

Breaking the Silence
By Rigoberta González Sul

36 unforgettable and painful years,
planted tears and sadness.
It led the women into silence and trauma,
Preventing the integral development of women
in their identity and values ?Women, Stop.
No more tears,
No more violations of our human rights.
Let’s break the silence, let us raise our voices freely.

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Throughout the 1970s, Cultural Survival’s original founders David Maybury-Lewis (pictured right with Xavante elder Sibupa), Evon Vogt, Jr., Orlando Patterson, and Pia Maybury-Lewis functioned out of a space made available by Harvard’s Peabody Museum. The organization was incorporated in 1972 as a tax-exempt NGO in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since its inception, Cultural Survival has been at the forefront of the international Indigenous rights movement. Cultural Survival’s work has contributed to a revolution of empowerment for Indigenous Peoples around the world.  In the first years Cultural Survival launched a publication program consisting of the Cultural Survival Newsletter and a series of Special Reports which eventually became the Cultural Survival Quarterly. Cultural Survival also introduced its annual bazaars, which display and sell Indigenous arts and crafts.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Cultural Survival created an economic strategy in order to bargain with governments who were ready to clear cut rainforests. Cultural Survival Enterprises (CSE) became a non-profit trading division that developed and marketed products generating income for Indigenous people who were struggling to protect their lands and traditions within rainforest regions. Cultural Survival Enterprises, spearheading the Fair Trade movement, was launched to help Indigenous groups receive a greater profit from their sold goods,  however, after considerable debate among the board and staff and due to complications with the supply, it was decided to no longer support this program.

Ellen L. Lutz became director of Cultural Survival in 2004 and transformed the organization over the next six years, strongly emphasizing human rights and advocacy areas in which she had an international reputation. For 25 years, Cultural Survival labored with many Indigenous activitst to win United Nations adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Ellen played a key role in helping shepherd this long process and on September 13, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted a visionary text that set the global standard for how governments must treat Indigenous Peoples.

An offshoot of these efforts, Cultural Survival started partnering with Guatemalan nongovernmental organizations to create a thriving network of over 200 community radio stations across Guatemala, many of which broadcast in one or more of the country’s 23 indigenous languages. The stations offer news, educational programming, human rights and health information, and traditional music, all reinforcing pride in Mayan heritage.

In 2007, Cultural Survival turned its attention on the much-needed revitalization of critically endangered Native American languages. Cultural Survival partnered with tribal governments, foundations, corporations, and businesses to persuade the United States Congress to fund legislation providing federal support for language immersion programs.

In 2009, Ellen oversaw the merger of Cultural Survival and Global Response. Global Response, a nongovernmental organization, directs campaigns to protect Indigenous rights all around the world. Global Response has developed relationships with Indigenous communities in order to help them stop government abuse and exploitation of their lands and natural resources.

Suzanne Benally (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa from New Mexico) is the current executive director. Benally was the associate provost for institutional planning and assessment and associate vice president for academic affairs at Naropa University. She was a core faculty member in environmental studies and a member of the president’s cabinet.

Under Suzanne’s direction, Cultural Survival is set to reflect a robust and inclusive role. “It is our goal to become a world leader in advocacy for Indigenous Peoples rights to their land, languages and cultures,” Suzanne says. “We fully intend to continue our efforts in creating a world in which Indigenous Peoples speak their languages, live on their lands, control their resources, hold on to their culture, and whose rights are honored in participating in broader society. We believe this entails deliberate collaboration. It is all about building bridges.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Women Leading the Way:

Mobilizing for an Equitable, Resilient and Thriving Future.


Accelerating a whole-systems, global women’s climate movement!

Vandana Shiva, Marina Silva, Rose Marie Muraro
Ted Turner
two of the “Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers” and others.


Song by Ta’Kaiya Blaney

Reception —No UN credentials required to attend.



UN Side Event Rio + 20 Earth Summit


June 19th 4:00pm-6:30pm


Room UN2  Barra Arena (Barra da Arena)
Avenida Embaixador Abelardo Bueno, 3401 – Barra da Tijuca  Rio de Janeiro


even though the UN lists this event ending at 5:30.

The Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) is honored to be co-hosting this event with Brazilian partner, Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade (IDS) and USA partner, Pathways To Peace.

Please note the speakers/reception will run until 6:30,
www.iwecc.org



Women are at the nexus of a thriving and just global future: they are disproportionately impacted by environmental and economic problems and yet demonstratively central to the most important solutions. In this side event, we will be highlighting women worldwide as innovators and agents of change in mitigating and adapting to climate change and environmental degradation, while also demonstrating a way forward with cross-sector and cross-cultural solutions from the grassroots up.

How will we leverage women’s vital sustainability contributions and climate solutions at speed and scale at the local and global level? How will we further empower a rights-based approach to sustainability and climate change solutions to respect Women’s rights, Indigenous rights and Nature’s rights?

Breakthrough alliances in women’s networks are critical at this time. The complexities of the environmental, economic and climate crises require systemic change in how we are living with each other and our Earth. This change will only be achieved through full representation of women in decision-making processes, deploying necessary resources for women, and developing a comprehensive women’s network to aid in implementing economic and environmental solutions.

This side-event will serve as the official launch for the International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative (IWECI). WECC is the genesis entity for IWECI and is in partnership with its strategic ally and principal partner, eraGlobal Alliance.


Agenda:

  • Welcome Address: Osprey Orielle Lake and Sally Ranney
  • Words of Wisdom from the Indigenous Grandmothers:  Maria Alice Campos Freire (Amazon, Brazil)Mona Polacca (Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa USA)
  • Women’s Leadership Panel with Vandana Shiva and Marina Silva
  • Conversation with Ted Turner
  • Song by Ta’Kaiya Blaney
  • Reception comments from the Honorable Senator Cristovam Buarque


Panelists
Vandana Shiva
, Marina Silva
Rose Marie Muraro, Sheyla Juruna, Representative from La Via Campesina
with special comments from Vandana Shiva and Marina Silva

Conversation with Ted Turner

Reception
Welcome words
Senator Cristovam Buarque, Emila Queiroga Barros,
Alexandra Rescheke

Event Hosts and Moderators:
Osprey Orielle Lake – Founder/President of the Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) and Founder/Co-Director IWECI
Sally Ranney — President eraGlobal Alliance and Co-Director IWECI

Contact Information:
Osprey Orielle Lake
osprey@iwecc.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

One of the two last side events on the last Friday of  the second Informal-Informal reading of the draft to Rio 2012 (RIO+20) was about the place of Mother Nature as seen by indigenous cultures that still respect the holiness of the Earth and by intellectuals that are ready to stop a minute and contemplate about the superiority of earth oriented cultures.

Moderated by Lisinka Ulatowska, Coordinator, Major Group Cluster on the Commons, this side event discussed a number of initiatives to create commons-based economies, and how these can be expanded and built upon.

Mario Ruales, Advisor to the Ecuadorian Minister of Coordination of Heritage, highlighted the adoption of a new constitution in 2008, which recognized the rights of Mother Earth. He emphasized the role of natural and indigenous peoples to respect and protect the ecosystem, saying that the constitution has a lot of processes that would allow this to be pursued. He noted Ecuador’s call for a new development architecture, saying that this has been proposed for Rio+20.

Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, outlined his work for reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i, saying that should this occur, many of the traditional practices for land management, agriculture and conservation of natural resources will return. He lamented the marginalization of the indigenous peoples, saying that reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i would rectify this problem.

Rob Wheeler, Global Ecovillage Network, outlined that the commons-based approach is one where the land and its resources are cooperatively owned, managed and shared among those living on the commons. He noted that ecovillages, which are based on such a model, are among the most sustainable communities in existence. He noted that many lessons on sustainability can be learnt from ecovillages, underscoring their ability to minimize waste, promote clean, renewable energy and ensure the sustainable consumption of natural resources.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed the different financing systems that could be used for implementing a commons-based model. They also discussed referencing the rights of nature in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Ecuador is a member of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean Nations like Bolivia. Both countries were left with strong lodes of indigenous people and the governments attempt to speak for them. The Kingdom of Hawaii does still exist even though Hawaii has become a US State and thus does not recognize a King. Nevertheless, You can still see a functioning royal House on the main Hawaii Island.

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As it happened, on the following day, Saturday May 5th, 2012, I had to be in Washington DC and made it also my business to go to visit the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 4th Street & Independence Avenue S,W. At the door I saw the announcement that the next weekend Saturday, May 12 – Sunday May 13, 2012, 10 am – 5:30 pm they will celebrate the BOLIVIAN SUMA QAMANA FESTIVAL – sponsored by the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“Discover Bolivia’s Magic, culture, Heritage, Joy of Living Well.”

The Museum doors are etched with sun symbols and open to the east to greet the rising sun as do many traditional Native houses. Native people honor the sun as a life-giver and calendar – instructing when to plant, harvest, conduct ceremonies. The American Indian is responding to Environmental Challenges and the Museum has established a special website for this - www.AmericanIndian.si.edu

At present the museum has two special exhibits. One is very appropriate to present American Indian culture as it evolved in the last 250 years – the interaction with horses and the way they viewed these large and friendly animals. The show is dedicated to “A SONG FOR THE HORSE NATION” and here this Nation are the horses themselves taken as if they were like humans.

The other show includes just one item and I stood there in state of shock. The title is HUICHOL ART ON WHEELS.” Its exhibition is planned from March 20 to May 6th 2012 – so let me say without any hesitation – good ridance before the Bolivian event next week.

Why am I quite angry at this exhibit covered with Huichol Art? Let me make sure that there should be no misunderstanding – it is not because of the Huichols. These are people from the West-Central Mexico who are known for their beadwork. Sometimes they take an object and cover it with colorful beads. The Huichol call themselves in their own language the Wixaritari people and I bought items from them years ago in a store they managed in Porto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The problem with this exhibition of one single item is that it is what they call – a VOCHOL – now that is a common Beetle Volkswagen that was completely covered in beads. Again – not that this car is bad looking – but why in this world in which the indigenous people do every possible effort to tell us that they understand the environment and suffer from climate change, and then bring into this interesting museum a common motor-vehicle that when operated uses gasoline?

WHY BEAD A BUG? asks the museum brochure and proceeds to answer:
The Vochol demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. It serves as opportunity to bring attention to contemporary indigenous art while also highlighting Wixaritari culture and talent. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wixatari people. And let me add here that it must be also home of the assembly plants of Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico. Further – it must be friends of the US Oil industry and the US Auto Manufacturers that convinced that this big piece of art covering the auto-monster vehicle got into the American Indian Museum in order to soften our resistance to fossil fuels transportation – albeit by a reasonably small vehicle.

The Wixatari artist Francisco Bautista used 2,277,000 glass seed beads to cover this beetle, and he finished the work in 2010 according to the license plate attached to the car. Then, let me never forget what my friend Professor Jad Neeman from the Tel Aviv University told me when we went to see a particular exhibition of what looked to me as unused canvases – the main role of modern art is to make us angry so we are moved from our position of not caring. If that is what the exhibitors had in mind – so this was very great art, because it made me care very much – when I concluded that this did not belong into this particular museum.

In above context let me also write here what I found in the permanent exhibit on the 4-th floor – a stoty about another beetle:

This comes from the Cherokee Nation. They tell that “Long ago – all things existed above the sky, from horizon to horizon. The bird and animal people (you remember the horse people I mentioned earlier?) wondered about the water-covered world below and sent Water-Beetle to explore. He descended and returned with a small piece of mud that spread over the water.”

This obviously was another beetle – the one we like for itself.

Further, in a story from the Campo Indians North of San Diego. They ended up being the address where the San Diego garbage was sent for landfill that gave them the Golden Acorn Casino not far from the Mexico border. The local Amerindians did not agree but got it anyway.

The Environmentalists tell them that they show  who they are with appropriate ways of viewing their land as one of their greatest assets.

Their lands are being decimated under them, but the indigenous people make serious attempts to survive.

The IOWA say – Our Songs and Our Ceremonies Enable Us To Survive.

The Nahua state – Our Laws and way of thinking shall continue.

The Cherokees state simply – WE ARE STILL HERE!



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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October 7, 2011, Atonement Day Eve – The 99% SILENT Public – Albeit still on the OP-ED or “ROOM for DEBATE” Pages.

New York Times OPINION PAGE - 

ROOM FOR DEBATE

Is It Effective to Occupy Wall Street?

The protesters are getting more attention and expanding outside New York. What are they doing right, and what are they missing?

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New York Times OP-ED COLUMNIST

Confronting the Malefactors

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

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Watching Washington the HOME NEWS are:

“To allay the concerns of Senate Democrats, Mr. Obama said that he could support their proposal to pay for the jobs plan by imposing a 5.6 percent surtax on individual taxpayers’ income above $1 million. A number of Senate Democrats had objected to Mr. Obama’s proposals to offset the cost of his plan by limiting tax deductions, including for charitable contributions, that could be taken by individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. And oil-state Democrats opposed his plans to increase oil companies’ taxes.

Even as Mr. Obama took reporters’ questions, Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, rebuked him for his more confrontational tack. “Nothing has disappointed me more than what’s happened over the last five weeks, to watch the president of the United States give up on governing, give up on leading and spend full-time campaigning,” Mr. Boehner said during a public forum in Washington.

Mr. Obama, when asked by a reporter whether he should be talking to Congressional Republicans rather than traveling the country like a presidential candidate, responded that he had tried repeatedly to compromise with Republicans. His efforts, he said, were “sometimes to my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats,” and Republicans rebuffed him even when he offered ideas, like business tax cuts, that Republicans had proposed in the past.”

“What I’ve done over the last several weeks is to take the case to the American people so that they understand what’s at stake,” he said. “It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past,” Mr. Obama said.


THAT IS STILL THE NORM OF HOME PAGES NEWS REPORTING  — AS GOOD AS IT GETS  -

Making Case for Jobs Bill, Obama Cites Europe’s Woes.

 Why look at the woes of Europe when there is plenty to see in the US itself?
PLEASE CHECK OUT THOSE OIL INDUSTRY ELECTED RESIDENTS OF US CONGRESS!

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NOW THIS! From - www.alternet.org  New York spread Liberty to Washington DC:

Protesters began their occupation of Freedom Plaza, WASHINGTON D.C.,  on October 6 — and they plan on staying as long as it takes.

The Occupy Freedom Plaza protest in Washington DC kicked off on Thursday, October 6. The protesters were a diverse crowd; young and old, men and women, the jobless and the employed, all in solidarity with one another and those occupying cities across the country in protest of the corporate greed that has destroyed the lives of so many Americans.

Cancer survivor Carrie Stone said that over the course of nine days, she traveled from Wallace, West Virginia to Washington, DC by foot. The 56-year-old grandmother plans to stay in DC indefinitely, saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 26th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR TO THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics.

By MATTHEW AVERY SUTTON
Matthew Avery Sutton, an associate professor of history at Washington State University, is the author of “Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America.”
Published: September 25, 2011

Pullman, Wash: The end is near — or so it seems to a segment of Christians aligned with the religious right. The global economic meltdown, numerous natural disasters and the threat of radical Islam have fueled a conviction among some evangelicals that these are the last days. While such beliefs might be dismissed as the rantings of a small but vocal minority, apocalyptic fears helped drive the antigovernment movements of the 1930s and ’40s and could help define the 2012 presidential campaign as well.

Christian apocalypticism has a long and varied history. Its most prevalent modern incarnation took shape a century ago, among the vast network of preachers, evangelists, Bible-college professors and publishers who established the fundamentalist movement. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and independents, they shared a commitment to returning the Christian faith to its “fundamentals.”

Biblical criticism, the return of Jews to the Holy Land, evolutionary science and World War I convinced them that the second coming of Jesus was imminent. Basing their predictions on biblical prophecy, they identified signs, drawn especially from the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, that would foreshadow the arrival of the last days: the growth of strong central governments and the consolidation of independent nations into one superstate led by a seemingly benevolent leader promising world peace.

This leader would ultimately prove to be the Antichrist, who, after the so-called rapture of true saints to heaven, would lead humanity through a great tribulation culminating in the second coming and Armageddon. Conservative preachers, evangelists and media personalities of the 20th century, like Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell, shared these beliefs.

Fundamentalists’ anticipation of a coming superstate pushed them to the political right. As the government grew in response to industrialization, fundamentalists concluded that the rapture was approaching. Their anxieties worsened in the 1930s with the rise of fascism. Obsessed with matching biblical prophecy with current events, they studied Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin, each of whom seemed to foreshadow the Antichrist.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt troubled them as well. His consolidation of power across more than three terms in the White House, his efforts to undermine the autonomy of the Supreme Court, his dream of a global United Nations and especially his rapid expansion of the government confirmed what many fundamentalists had feared: the United States was lining up with Europe in preparation for a new world dictator.

As a result, prominent fundamentalists joined right-wing libertarians in their effort to undermine Roosevelt. That this mix of millennialism and activism seemed inconsistent — why work for reform if the world is destined for Armageddon? — never troubled them. They simply asserted that Jesus had called them to “occupy” until he returned (Luke 19:13). Like orthodox Marxists who challenge capitalism even though they say they believe it represents an inevitable step on the road to the socialist paradise, conservative Christians never let their conviction that the future is already written lead them to passivity.

The world in 2011 resembles the world of the 1930s in many respects. International turmoil and a prolonged economic downturn have fueled distrust of government, as has the rise of a new libertarianism represented in the explosive growth of the Tea Party.

For some evangelicals, President Obama is troubling. The specious theories about his place of birth, his internationalist tendencies, his measured support for Israel and his Nobel Peace Prize fit their long-held expectations about the Antichrist. So does his commitment to expanding the reach of government in areas like health care.

In 2008, the campaign of Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, presciently tapped into evangelicals’ apocalyptic fears by producing an ad, “The One,” that sarcastically heralded Mr. Obama as a messiah. Mr. McCain was onto something. Not since Roosevelt have we had a president of charisma and global popularity, who so perfectly fits the evangelicals’ Antichrist mold.

While Depression-era fundamentalists represented only a small voice among the anti-Roosevelt forces of the 1930s, evangelicals have grown ever savvier and now constitute one of the largest interest groups in the Republican Party. In the past, relatively responsible leaders like Mr. Graham, who worked with Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, and even Mr. Falwell, who reined in evangelical excess in exchange for access to the Reagan White House, channeled their evangelical energy.

Not now. A leadership vacuum exists on the evangelical right that some Republicans — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and even Ron Paul — are exploiting. How tightly their strident anti-statism will connect with evangelical apocalypticism remains to be seen.

The left is in disarray while libertarianism is on the ascent. A new generation of evangelicals — well-versed in organizing but lacking moderating influences — is lining up behind hard-right anti-statists. While few of the faithful truly think that the president is the Antichrist, millions of voters, like their Depression-era predecessors, fear that the time is short. The sentiment that Mr. Obama is preparing the United States, as Roosevelt did, for the Antichrist’s global coalition is likely to grow.

Barring the rapture, Mrs. Bachmann or Mr. Perry could well ride the apocalyptic anti-statism of conservative Christians into the Oval Office. Indeed, the tribulation may be upon us.

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