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Gender: Female
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,471

Journal Archives

'Runaway Oil Trains': A Metaphor for Our Fossil Fuel Failure

Published on Friday, May 30, 2014 by Common Dreams

New report documents unprecedented rise of crude-by-rail industry and the broader dangers it represents

- Jon Queally, staff writer

A newly published report this week raises the alarm over the nation's expansion of crude-by-rail transportation as it makes a broader and direct warning about the threat of the Obama administration's "all of the above" energy strategy that seeks to expand fossil fuel production in the U.S. despite the climate emergency on the nation's doorstep.

The report by Oil Change International, titled Runaway Train: The Reckless Expansion of Crude By Rail in North America, is the first major exposé of the dangers inherent in the expansion of crude-by-rail industry on the continent.

Following violent and deadly disasters like the derailment and explosion in the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec last year and the continued fight to stop major oil pipelines, the report goes out of its way to argue that the debate between rail transport vs. pipelines is a false one. It shows that spills and disasters both methods of transport are on the rise, a fact which proves that the fossil fuel paradigm should be relegated to the history books, replaced with a new energy system that invests in conservation and efficiency as well as renewable resources such as wind, geothermal, and solar.........

....“Communities are already waking up to the dangers of oil trains barreling through their backyards, with spills, explosions and derailments happening all too often. This report and online tool will help provide the critical information that’s been sorely missing in order to shine a light on what’s really going on, and to help stop the runaway train of crude-by-rail in its tracks before more damage is done,” Stockman said.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/05/30-1

The Rise of the European Right: Reaction to the Neoliberal Right

by James Petras / May 30th, 2014

The Nature of the New Right

...... Right: Contradictions and the Double Discourse

The Right, while criticizing the neo-liberal state for unemployment, focuses mainly on the immigrants competing with nationals in the labor market rather than on the capitalists whose investment decisions determine levels of employment and unemployment.

The Right attacks the authoritarian nature of the European Union, but its own structures, ideology and history pre-figure a repressive state.

The Right rightly proposes to end foreign elite control of the economy, but its own vision of a ‘national state’, especially one linked to NATO, multi-national corporations and imperial wars, will provide no basis for ‘rebuilding the national economy’.

The Right speaks to the needs of the dispossessed and the need to ‘end austerity’ but it eschews the only effective mechanism for countering inequalities – class organization and class struggle. Its vision of the ‘collaboration between productive capital and labor’ is contradicted by the aggressive capitalist offensive to cut wages, social services, pensions and working conditions. The new Right targets immigrants as the cause of unemployment while obscuring the role of the capitalists who hire and fire, invest abroad, relocate firms and introduce technology to replace labor.........

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/05/the-rise-of-the-european-right-reaction-to-the-neoliberal-right/

What's next for vaccines? 'One of the best investments,' experts tell summit

Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca @AndreaJanus Published Thursday, May 29, 2014 4:48PM EDT

Fewer than five per cent of children around the world have received the 11 vaccines that the World Health Organization deems vital, experts say, and children will continue to die from vaccine-preventable diseases at an alarming rate unless the global community acts.

The warning about the need to ramp up vaccination efforts in developing countries was delivered at the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit being hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week in Toronto.

What's next?

While only four per cent of the populations of high-income countries are unvaccinated, that figure jumps to 26 per cent in low-income countries, Berkley said. For every one percentage point jump in vaccination coverage in low-income countries, he said, 150,000 future lives are saved.

With less than five per cent of children in the world protected by all 11 vaccines recommended by the WHO, he said, work remains. (See: WHO recommendations on immunizations)

The goal of his organization will be to immunize more than 60 million children annually between 2016 and 2020.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/what-s-next-for-vaccines-one-of-the-best-investments-experts-tell-summit-1.1844376#ixzz33EevL2Ij

Why West Nile Virus Is So Scary


This story first appeared on the Atlantic website and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

....... My grandmother—or Oma, as we call her, the German word for grandmother—had always been a picture of perfect health, a trait that she and Opa, my grandfather, attributed to decades spent farming organic produce and tending to their land. But as Oma spent the next 32 days in the hospital and then three weeks in a rehabilitation facility, my family came to realize that the first night of terror was just the beginning. Despite the best efforts of her doctors, Oma did not get better.

On September 20, samples from the deceased birds at the Bronx Zoo were tested and sent to the CDC. DNA sequencing revealed a viral strain, closely related to West Nile virus found in other parts of the world, but never before found in the Western Hemisphere. Around the same time, the CDC, while performing tests on a human brain specimen from an encephalitis case, discovered a strain of West Nile virus identical to the one found in the bird. Over the course of the next few months, the same match between the viruses in the birds and those in humans was found dozens of times. A previously undetected strain of West Nile virus, it seemed, was now in the United States.

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT how severe West Nile outbreaks will be from year to year in different places. But researchers and public health officials do know that where and when outbreaks occur has much to do with warmer weather. Warm temperatures in the early spring speed up the development of mosquitoes from egg to larva to adult, according to authors of the American Society for Microbiology's report on West Nile virus.

Early heat increases the rate at which the virus replicates and how quickly it reaches the mosquito's salivary glands. Mosquitoes also digest blood faster in hotter weather, which means that they need to feed more, which in turn means that they spread the virus faster.

This is a good article, difficult to pick out excerpts ... http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/climate-change-west-nile-virus-spread

Hurricane Amanda Just Set an Ominous New Record

The first eastern Pacific hurricane of 2014 set a new intensity record. Here's why we could see even stronger storms before the year is over.

—By Chris Mooney | Tue May 27, 2014 3:56 PM EDT

Hurricane Amanda in the eastern Pacific on May 25 NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

Usually, people living in the United States don't pay much attention to hurricanes in the eastern Pacific, the other basin where megastorms that can affect North America are formed. Mostly, these storms wallop Mexico, or travel harmlessly out to sea. So, given the standard myopia of the media, we rarely hear much about them.

But this year, perhaps, we ought to be paying more attention. The eastern Pacific hurricane season started on May 15, and already, with its first storm, it has set an ominous record. The hurricane in question, named Amanda, spun up south of the Baja California peninsula Thursday, and on Sunday it attained maximum sustained wind speeds of 155 miles per hour—just below Category 5 status. Or as National Hurricane Center forecaster Stacy Stewart put it when the storm reached its peak strength: "Amanda is now the strongest May hurricane on record in the eastern Pacific basin during the satellite era."

This record is notable for two reasons. First of all, even though there remains a great deal of uncertainty and debate about the relationship between hurricanes and global warming, the fact is that in many hurricane basins across the world, new storm intensity records have been set just since the year 2000. Amanda therefore fits into this broader pattern.

Second, there is growing evidence that El Niño conditions—characterized by an eastward shift of warm water across the great Pacific Ocean, with global weather ramifications—are developing in the Pacific right now. The latest forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now gives us a greater than 65 percent chance that El Niño conditions will develop by this summer.

Full article: http://www.motherjones.com//environment/2014/05/hurricane-amanda-record-climate-el-nino

Iranian Women Defiantly Remove the Veil

Posted 20 May 2014 14:47 GMT

Women activists Iran all over are defiantly removing their veil to protest governmental discrimination against women. The bilingual “آزادی های یواشکی زنان در ایران” or “Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women” campaign counts already near 320,000 supporters with just two months of existence. The campaign features Iranian women from all over the country removing their veil, an act for which they may face severe repercussions under Iran's Article 638 which states: “Women, who appear in public places and roads without wearing an Islamic hijab, shall be sentenced to ten days to two months’ imprisonment or a fine of fifty thousand to five hundred Rials.”

Some chose to hide their face, and other chose to show it.

It had been the very fist time I had ever seen the desert. As sun was rising in order to respect her beauty, I took my headscarf off so that she could see me beautiful too
That feeling was great.. I was..fearless in the desert.. with my head uncovered in the desert

Full article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/05/20/iranian-women-defiantly-remove-the-veil/

My Name Is China, and I Have a Pollution Problem

Buried in this month's China headlines -- about the gas pipeline deal with Russia, the U.S. Department of Justice's indictment of Chinese military hackers, and saber rattling with Vietnam -- was this juicy morsel: Petco and PetSmart will soon stop selling dog and cat treats made in China. Big Pet does not want your puppies getting sick from contaminated jerky. Thousands of reported pet illnesses have not been definitively linked to the Chinese-made munchies, but it hardly matters: The "Made in China" label has become toxic. Over the years, tainted milk, pork, and infant formula have made people jittery.

This is emblematic of a much larger problem: China's environmental crises are starting to drive foreign companies and expats away, along with their money and talent. Pollution numbers are piling up, and they're scarier all the time. Nearly one-fifth of farmland is polluted, an official government study found in April, and so is three-fifths of China's groundwater. No wonder the tea in my cupboard isn't branded as "Grown in China" or that a Chinese food giant just bought a big stake in Israel's largest food producer, which specializes in dairy goods -- in part because Chinese consumers are looking for safer cheese products, a Shanghai analyst told the Financial Times.

But the casualties are mounting. An obvious one is tourists, who are recalibrating whether the wonders of the Great Wall are worth clogged lungs. The number of visitors to Beijing fell by 10 percent in the first 11 months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 (other factors like the strengthening yuan were also at work). Edward Wong, the New York Times correspondent in Beijing, has written memorably about how many Chinese and foreigners, fearful for their air, food, and water, feel as though they are "living in the Chinese equivalent of the Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear disaster areas." After checking his own air filter the first time, Wong wrote, "the layer of dust was as thick as moss on a forest floor. It nauseated me."

The good news is that over the last several years China has acknowledged the severity of the problem (something its badly polluted rival India still needs to do). Chinese Premier Li Keqiang famously declared a "war on pollution" in March. Facing up is the first step toward making improvements, though if history is any guide, it's going to be a long and depressing slog -- made harder by the fact that fighting pollution means shutting down factories and limiting vehicular traffic, which dents the economy. But it's hard to put a price tag on resurrecting the "Made in China" label, and on keeping Fido healthy.

Full article: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/05/29/my_name_is_china_and_i_have_a_pollution_environment_problem?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Flashpoints&utm_campaign=2014_FlashPoints%20%28Manual%29

I feel so sorry for these people. The Chinese gov't needs to address its war on pollution seriously.

Big Energy Is Just like Big Tobacco — and That’s Terrible News for Everyone

TomDispatch / By Michael T. Klare

Both deadly industries have targeted the developing world for future profits.

In the 1980s, encountering regulatory restrictions and public resistance to smoking in the United States, the giant tobacco companies came up with a particularly effective strategy for sustaining their profit levels: sell more cigarettes in the developing world, where demand was strong and anti-tobacco regulation weak or nonexistent. Now, the giant energy companies are taking a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook. As concern over climate change begins to lower the demand for fossil fuels in the United States and Europe, they are accelerating their sales to developing nations, where demand is strong and climate-control measures weak or nonexistent. That this will produce a colossal increase in climate-altering carbon emissions troubles them no more than the global spurt in smoking-related illnesses troubled the tobacco companies.

Perpetuating the Fossil Fuel Era

In the end, all these efforts to boost fossil fuel sales in Asia and other developing areas will have one unmistakable result: a sharp rise in global carbon emissions, with most of the growth in non-OECD countries. According to the EIA, between 2010 and 2040 world carbon dioxide emissions from energy use -- the main source of greenhouse gases -- will rise by 46%, from 31.2 billion metric tons to 45.5 billion. Little of this increase will officially be generated by the planet’s wealthiest countries, where energy demand is stagnant and tougher rules on carbon emissions are being put in place. Instead, almost all of the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere -- 94% of it -- will be sloughed off on the developing world, even if a significant part of those emissions will come from the combustion of U.S. fossil fuel exports.

In the view of most scientists, an increase of carbon emissions on this scale will almost certainly lead to a global temperature rise of at least four degrees centigrade and possibly more by the end of this century. That’s enough to ensure that the changes we are already seeing, including severe droughts, stronger storms, raging wildfires, and rising sea levels, will be eclipsed by exponentially greater perils in the future.

Everyone will share in the pain from such warming-induced catastrophes. But people in developing lands -- especially the poorest among them -- will suffer more, because the societies they live in are least prepared to cope with severe catastrophes. “Climate-related hazards exacerbate other stressors, often with negative outcomes for livelihoods, especially for people living in poverty,” the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change observed in its most recent assessment of what global warming will mean for planet Earth. “Climate-related hazards affect poor people’s lives directly, through impacts on livelihoods, reduction in crop yields, or destruction of homes, and indirectly through, for example, increased food prices and food insecurity.”

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/environment/big-energy-just-big-tobacco-and-thats-terrible-news-everyone?paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark

Afghans Pick Their Poison in Presidential Elections

War Is a Crime / By David Swanson

Both teams, whose candidates are involved a run-off, have members who are accused of human rights abuses.

Photo Credit: War Is a Crime

No human being wants to be ruled by their people's murderers. Forgiveness through restorative justice may be possible, but being ruled by murderers is asking for too much.

Yet, that seems to be the Hobson's choice behind the Afghan presidential election, which is into its run-off between Dr. Abdullah / Mohaqiq's team and Dr. Ashraf Ghani / General Dostum's team, neither team having won more than 50% of balloted votes in the first round.

Both teams have members who are warlords accused of human rights abuses, as reported by the New York Times, including Dr. Abdullah Abdullah's running mate, Mohammed Mohaqiq, and General Dostum, who is Dr. Ashraf Ghani's vice-presidential candidate.

General Dostum, allegedly on the CIA's payroll in the past, apologized for his past war crimes when he registered as Dr. Ashraf Ghani's vice-presidential candidate. One of those crimes is the Dasht-e-Leili massacre which occurred in the fall of 2001. New York Times and Newsweek investigations alleged that hundreds or even thousands of surrendering pro-Taliban prisoners died of thirst, hunger and gunshots when they were stuffed into shipping containers for transport to an Afghan prison.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/world/afghans-pick-their-poison-presidential-elections

From Tweets to the Streets: #YesAllWomen Actions Planned in Major Cities

"It’s extremely important that people manifest in the streets. That this feeling is not allowed to be defused."

May 29, 2014

In the recent days after the Isla Vista shootings, women have used various social media tactics to raise public consciousness around systematic misogyny — ultimately illustrating that the violence inflicted by Elliot Rodger was not simply the act of a lone madman, but part of the societal oppression they face on a daily basis.

Created to show that while ‘not all men’ commit violent acts toward women, all women have experienced violent acts by men, #YesAllWomen has garnered the most attention with more than one million people using the hashtag to share their thoughts and experiences with gendered violence. In addition to #YesAllWomen, a new tumblr page was formed to collect stories of violence inflicted on women who reject sexual advances. Called When Women Refuse, the page shares photos and links to news stories of these women — many of whom are no longer alive to speak for themselves.

While this online activism shows no signs of slowing, some organizers believe this is a pivotal moment to let women’s voices be heard out loud in the streets. That’s why organizers in five cities — New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle — have quickly organized #YesAllWomen actions to be held Friday and Saturday.

“What's being tapped into is really a deep, profound well of fury and pain, and I think this is very important to have come out on the Internet — the hashtag #YesAllWomen has given voice to that,” said Sunsara Taylor of Stop Patriarchy, a national movement against all forms of degradation of women, and the group behind the NYC and SF events. “But it’s also extremely important that people manifest in the streets. That this feeling is not allowed to be defused. That this actually becomes the motivation for people to look at the nature of the society we live in to confront the fact that there is a war on women. And to find each other and to find our voices and find our outrage and find new community and resistance actually in the streets. So we have the feeling that it’s time to go from the social media and the tweets and into the street and make this felt.”

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/activism/tweets-streets-yesallwomen-actions-planned-major-cities?page=0%2C1&paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark
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