Blog Archive

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is this what it has finally come to? #OCCUPYWALLSTREET

Alright you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,
A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future. The spirit of this fresh tactic, a fusion of Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain, is captured in this quote:
"The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people."
— Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University
Barcelona, Spain
The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people's assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.
The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.
On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.
Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?
The most exciting candidate that we've heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It's time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we're doomed without it.
This demand seems to capture the current national mood because cleaning up corruption in Washington is something all Americans, right and left, yearn for and can stand behind. If we hang in there, 20,000-strong, week after week against every police and National Guard effort to expel us from Wall Street, it would be impossible for Obama to ignore us. Our government would be forced to choose publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the corporations.
This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you're out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.
Post a comment and help each other zero in on what our one demand will be. And then let's screw up our courage, pack our tents and head to Wall Street with a vengeance September 17.
for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

Blame for Triassic Mass Extinction Spreads to Methane Gas (12,000 gigatons from the seafloor)

Blame for Extinction Spreads to Methane Gas

Two hundred million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period, a mass extinction, often attributed to major volcanic activity, wiped out half of all marine life on Earth. But new research published in the journal Science suggests that the extinction was more likely to have been caused by the release of at least 12,000 gigatons of methane from the seafloor into the atmosphere.
Kyrtomisporis speciosus and other fossils' carbon isotopes helped date a mass extinction.
Volcanic activity occurred over a period of 600,000 years at the end of the Triassic, while the extinction took place over a period of just 10,000 to 20,000 years, said Micha Ruhl, an earth scientist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the study’s lead author.
Dr. Ruhl and his colleagues studied carbon isotopes of sediments from the period and found that the extinction event coincided with the giant release of methane into the atmosphere.
Volcanoes still played in a role in the process, Dr. Ruhl said.
“There was a release of CO2 from volcanic eruptions that warmed up global temperatures and also the ocean,” he said. “Methane is only stable under certain temperatures. If it gets warm, it is released.”
The study could be foreshadowing the effect of climate change on Earth, Dr. Ruhl said. An increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from fossil-fuel use could warm up the planet enough to release methane from the ocean floors, he said.
“Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, so potentially that could result in a strong increase in temperature and climate change,” he said.

Scotland Yard to Investigate Murdoch’s NewsCorp for Computer and Email Hacking. Duh!

Scotland Yard to Investigate Murdoch’s NewsCorp for Computer and Email Hacking. Duh!

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, July 31, 2011

News of the World executive obtained hacked e-mails

Actually, that was a BBC headline — from March!
Scotland Yard

No, it doesn’t refer to Climategate, but you’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that the NY Times is reporting today:
Scotland Yard will expand its investigation of The News of the World and its parent company, police officials said Saturday, adding a new inquiry into possible instances of computer intrusion to the current accusations of phone hacking and payments to police officers.
The new investigation was opened after an examination of “a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy” received since the Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard, reopened inquiries in January into possible crimes by newspaper employees, a statement said.
I am one to say “I told you so” — it’s half the reason to have a blog, especially on climate, where the nation’s ongoing inaction all but guarantees that those of us warning of the most dire climatic consequences will be vindicated.
Two weeks ago I wrote, “News Corp and the Hacked Climategate Emails: Time for an Independent Investigation.”  Back then we knew that News Corp in the UK had done phone hacking, and that a News Crop division in this country apparently did computer and e-mail hacking.
Now, as the NY Times reports, Scotland Yard has reason to believe News Corp in the UK was involved in hacking computers and e-mails:
But a former British Army intelligence officer, Ian Hurst, said in a statement that he had been contacted by investigators over allegations that he had made “in regards to my family’s computer being illegally accessed over a sustained period during 2006.” Mr. Hurst had worked in Northern Ireland, running undercover operations. The BBC reported this year that his computer had been hacked and sensitive e-mail had been provided to The News of the World. A spokeswoman for News International refused to comment on the new inquiry.
The investigation opens a new front for News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, already shaken by a scandal that has seen the 168-year-old News of the World shuttered on a few days’ notice and the resignations of two of Britain’s top police officers.
Here is the opening of the March BBC story:
A senior News of the World executive obtained e-mails hacked in to by a private detective, Panorama has found.
Then Irish edition editor Alex Marunchak was sent ex-British intelligence officer Ian Hurst’s private e-mails in 2006, it found…
Panorama obtained details of e-mails from Mr Hurst’s computer that were sent to the News of the World’s Dublin office by fax, and identified the man who accessed them by using a Trojan virus contained in an e-mail.
In my earlier post, I wrote it is entirely possible that News Corp wasn’t involved in the hacking of the climate scientists’ e-mails in November 2009.   Indeed, I’d be surprised if they were (though not shocked).
But I wrote that News Corp would be on anybody’s short list for possible suspects in the Climategate hacking.  That’s even more true with this report, particularly when one includes all of the rogue investigators News Corp was apparently tangled up with.
People tell me that they don’t see a motive.  I would generally agree that News of the World doesn’t appear to have an obvious reason for hacking climate scientists emails.  But then when you look at the staggering array of innocent victims of their phone hacking, some of which seems so counterproductive as to defy even the most perverse logic, then I think the answer is:  If they were involved, it was probably through one of their investigative stringers, many of whom appear to have incredibly bad judgment along with dubious ethics.
Anyway, the point is moot now.  The BBC reports:
A new team of officers is to probe allegations of computer hacking, the Metropolitan Police has announced…
A spokesman said there had previously been a “consideration of allegations” of computer hacking rather than an investigation, but now “some aspects of that operation are being moved towards investigation.”
The Met investigation is understood to include an examination of the covert use of “Trojan horse” computer viruses, which allow hackers to take control of third-party computers.
While I would have preferred an independent investigation, Scotland Yard knows that the world will be watching.  So I expect they’ll do a thorough job and track down all leads, whether or not they are part of the team’s charter.
Related post:

Day 11: RAMPS Tree-Sit Continues on Coal River Mountain

RAMPS Tree-Sit Continues on Coal River Mountain

Today is Day 11 of the ongoing tree-sit on Coal River Mountain -- making it now the longest tree-sit in West Virginia history.  Becks Kolins and Catherine-Ann MacDougal remain in their trees 80 feet off the ground on the Bee Tree permit, the only active strip mining permit on Coal River Mountain.  Their direct supporters, Eli Schewel and Junior Walk, were arrested on the first day of the treesit and released on bail that same evening.  Becks and Catherine-Ann remain in high spirits, despite the 100+ degree heat and are determined to continue sitting in their trees and halting blasting on the mine site as long as they can.

I do this out of passion, and I do it out of love. I do it as an act of anger and of penance. I do it out of obligation and out of freedom.” -- Catherine-Ann MacDougal.  Read the full statements written by Catherine-Ann, Becks, Junior, and Eli on why they feel like direct action is a necessary response to the public health crisis, political corruption, and regulatory failure caused by the coal industry in central Appalachia.  Click here for video footage from interviews with the tree-sitters and their support team.

The sit has successfully halted blasting on portions of the site, aside from a small blast last Friday afternoon.  Until this past Wednesday, trucks were still hauling coal that had previously been extracted and stockpiled; now, even this work has ceased.

The sitters expressed solidarity with Tim DeChristopher, a West Virginia native who was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison for peacefully disrupting an illegitimate oil and gas auction and saving tens of thousands of acres of public land from oil and gas exploitation.Prior to his sentencing, DeChristopher expressed his strong support for the tree sitters.  From the trees, Becks wrote, “Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years. Please support him and all those who suffer to bring justice to us all.

We thank the multitude of people across the country that have expressed their unwavering support for the tree sitters.  Please be assured that these words of encouragement are being passed on to the young people in the trees, and will be ever more necessary with each passing day they spend sitting and sweating in the muggy West Virginia heat.

Please help us spread the word about these courageous young people who have chosen to take a stand for mountains and communities.   Our website is frequently updated with news from the treesit, and you can also follow us on twitter at RAMPSWV.  You can also support the treesit by submitting comments opposing the renewal of the Bee Tree Permit.

Please consider donating to the RAMPS general fund.  We need money to keep this treesit going for as long as possible -- your donation will help us operate our base camp and provide support to tree sitters.  Information on how to donate:

Thank you for your continued support!

The RAMPS Campaign
Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival

We Are Wisconsin PAC offices destroyed by suspicious fire, while the Tea Party Express plans to roll through Wisconsin (Joe the Plumber, Sarah Palin, and Ann Coulter -- blech!)

Article on the fire:

Article on the Tea Baggers:

Biodiversity On Earth Plummets, Despite Growth in Protected Habitats

Biodiversity On Earth Plummets, Despite Growth in Protected Habitats

Biodiversity Loss
A new study suggests that the conservation strategy of creating protected areas is insufficient for preventing a steady loss of planetary biodiversity.

by Tom Zeller, Jr., Huffington Post, July 31, 2011

Despite rapid and substantial growth in the amount of land and sea designated as protected habitat over the last four decades, the diversity of species the world over is plummeting, a new study has found.
Over 100,000 so-called "protected areas" representing some 7 million square miles of land and nearly 1 million square miles of ocean have been established since the 1960s, noted the analysis, published Thursday in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
And yet, according to a widely cited index used to track planetary biodiversity, the wealth of terrestrial and marine species has seen steady decline over roughly the same period, suggesting that simply protecting swaths of land and sea -- a common conservation strategy worldwide -- is inadequate for preventing the steady disappearance of earth's creatures.
"The problem is bigger than one we can realistically solve with protected areas -- even if they work under the best conditions," said Camilo Mora, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and lead author of the study. "The protected area approach is expensive and requires a lot of political and human capital," Dr. Mora continued in an email message to The Huffington Post. "Our suggestion is that we should redirect some of those resources to deal with ultimate solutions."

The steady loss of biodiversity -- defined roughly as the rich variety of living things -- can, in turn, have profound implications for human civilization, which relies on healthy, variegated ecosystems to provide a host of ecological services from water filtration and oxygen generation to food, medicine, clothing and fuel.
The precise value of such services is difficult to quantify, but one economic analysis estimated they were worth as much as $33 trillion globally.
While the study concedes that individual protected areas that are well-designed and well-managed can be successful in preventing the imminent extinction of species and ecosystems, a variety of other forces conspire to further reduce biodiversity overall.
"Protected areas, as usually implemented, can only protect from over-exploitation, and from habitat destruction due to exploitation and other direct human actions within their borders. They are a tool for regulating human access and extraction," said Peter F. Sale, assistant director of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the study's co-author. "Biodiversity loss is also caused by pollution, by arrival of invasive species, by decisions to convert habitat to other uses -- farms, villages, cities -- and by various components of climate change," he told HuffPost. "None of these are mitigated by the creation of protected areas except, possibly, the removal of habitat to other uses."
In other words, the researchers, who based their analysis on a broad range of global data and a review of existing literature, suggest that the implementation of habitat protection is unable to keep pace with other stressors contributing to species loss overall.
This is partly due to lack of enforcement. Only about 5.8% of terrestrial protected areas and 0.08% of marine sanctuaries see reliable and consistent enforcement.
Further, the authors note most research suggests that between 10 and 30% of the world's ecosystems need to be protected to preserve optimal biodiversity. But despite what appears to be a rapid increase in protected lands, the pace is too slow to achieve those targets anytime soon. On land, the 10% target, under the best of circumstances, would not be reached until 2043, the study estimated. The 30% target would not be achieved until 2197. The same target percentages for marine sanctuaries would be reached by 2067 and 2092, respectively.
And these projections are almost certainly too optimistic, the authors note, because the rate of establishment of new protected areas would be expected to slow considerably as conservation efforts runs up against the needs of a rapidly expanding human population.
From the study:
[D]emand on marine fisheries is projected to increase by 43% by 2030 to supply ongoing food demands, while projected CO2 emissions by 2050 are expected to severely impact > 80% of the world's coral reefs and affect marine fish communities globally, causing local extinctions and facilitating invasions resulting in changes in species composition of up to 60%. On land, the growing human population and demand for housing, food and energy are expected to substantially increase the intensity of stressors associated with the conversion of land cover to agriculture and urbanization, e.g., the release of nutrients and other pollutants, climate warming and altered precipitation. In short, the extent of coverage by [protected areas] is still limited and is growing at a slower rate than that at which biodiversity threats are developing.
Global population is expected to pass 7 billion in October 2011, according to new estimates from the population division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations. That's an increase of 1 billion people in about a dozen years.
Other challenges include the size of protected areas -- which are often too small for larger species to survive -- and the lack of connectivity between protected areas, which is needed for healthy genetic dispersal.
The authors of Thursday's analysis suggest that reversing biodiversity losses will require a vast rethinking of conservation strategy -- one that redirects limited resources toward more holistic solutions. This would include efforts to reduce human population growth -- and its attending consumption patterns -- as well as the deployment of technologies that would increase the productivity of agriculture and aquaculture to meet human needs.
Also needed, the authors wrote: a continued "restructuring of world views to bring them in line with a world of finite resources."
Dr. Sale said, "In the final analysis, we have to recognize that we are pushing up against limits set by the way the biosphere functions. Biodiversity loss is one sign of this.