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Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
Number of posts: 31,861

About Me

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

Keystone XL pipeline

The Basics from Friends of the Earth

The Canadian company TransCanada hopes to begin building the northern section of an oil pipeline that would trek close to 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas. If constructed, the pipeline, known as Keystone XL, will carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil. Along its route from Alberta to Texas, this pipeline could devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health.

Giant oil corporations invested in Canada's tar sands are counting on the Keystone XL pipeline to make the expansion of oil extraction operations there profitable: The pipeline would double imports of dirty tar sands oil into the United States and transport it to refineries on the Gulf Coast and ports for international export.

Unfortunately, an area the size of Florida is already set for extraction. Before TransCanada can begin construction, however, the company needs a presidential permit from the Obama administration because the pipeline crosses an international border.

More here: http://www.foe.org/projects/climate-and-energy/tar-sands/keystone-xl-pipeline#sthash.Wf8EjGuO.dpuf

*Includes a good list of resources if you're interested in reading more about the environmental consequences of this pipeline

End the Student Debt Crisis Today

by Raúl Carrillo ~ Nov 12, 2014

Last month, Lower Saxony became the final state in Germany to abolish tuition for all students at public universities. Meanwhile, in the United States, student loan debt has passed the $1 trillion mark. The burden is now becoming increasingly heavy for middle-class and wealthy students, but especially for those from lower-income backgrounds. This injustice has spurred many organizations, like the Occupy Wall Street offshoot Strike Debt, to do what they can to pay off student debt on their own.

Borrowers could use the support of their government, but U.S. policymakers don’t seem to see student debt through the same moral lens as officials in many other countries do. Can you imagine Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, for example, arguing that “Tuition fees are socially unjust,” as German member of Parliament Dorothee Stapelfeldt told The Times of London? Or even, as she went on to say, that, “[fees] particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies”?

Instead, higher education is peddled as the ticket to economic security by the federal government, commercial lenders, and universities—no matter the cost. Policies that would reduce the fear of unemployment, like the Job Guarantee programs supported by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and demanded by Martin Luther King Jr., might make it more feasible for young people to opt out of college. Yet policymakers in the United States seem unwilling to consider such options.

Thus, as sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom has argued, many young Americans, especially people of color, are desperate for higher education. Yet day by day, the student-debt status quo taxes borrowers while doing less and less to subsidize social mobility ...

More here: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/how-the-government-could-end-the-student-debt-crisis-today


The Comet Landing -

The comet landing: A new milestone in space exploration
15 November 2014

Millions of people around the world greeted with enthusiasm the news this week that the Philae lander had successfully touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a small and rocky celestial body half a billion kilometers from earth. A new milestone has been reached, with scientists for the first time able to conduct an on-the-spot analysis of a comet.

During its sixty hours of operation, Philae’s nine instruments gathered information about the comet that will assist in answering long-standing questions about the history of the solar system. In particular, scientists hope that the mission will provide insight into the theory that comets are an early source of water and organic compounds on Earth. Though the lander has gone into hibernation from a lack of power, the results it has sent back are already providing insight into the comet’s composition.

There is hope that the small “hop” Philae undertook Friday to change its orientation will let the probe collect enough power quickly to briefly come back online. More likely, it will silently gather power during the days and months ahead, eventually allowing it to continue its studies. The Rosetta orbiter that carried Philae to its destination will remain on station and monitor the comet through at least next year as it approaches the Sun and begins to shed large amounts of itself.

Amidst endless proclamations of the supposed glories of the profit principle, one must emphasize that the Rosetta mission, launched a decade ago, was not motivated by the private gain of one or another giant corporation, but rather the rational integration of the collective labor of thousands of scientists around the world ...

More here: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/15/pers-n15.html

Serve the People

Homelessness isn’t an accident. It’s the result of a brutal economic system and conscious state policy.
by Ari Paul ~ 11.15.14

If Jesus of Nazareth ever returns to the earthly realm, he would be advised not to make his debut in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The police would likely cuff him.

Arnold Abbott, age ninety, has made international headlines for being arrested multiple times for organizing feedings of the homeless in public spaces in his hometown, famous for its retirement community and spring break party-goers. The town’s mayor, Jack Seiler, believes the threat of fines and a four-month jail sentence for the elderly churchman is appropriate, telling reporters that Abbott “has decided that he doesn’t think these individuals should have to have any interaction with government, that they should be fed in the parks. We disagree.”

Beyond the David and Goliath nature of the affair, the absurdities of such an injunction abound. Is it not a clear First Amendment freedom for people to convene? Can a state claiming to be democratic really prevent such acts of charity? And how does the state decide who’s homeless anyway? For example, would a couch-surfer be considered without shelter and thus, under this grotesque logic, a public safety risk?

While it might be easy to dismiss this as one more strange occurrence in the Sunshine State, Florida is hardly a callous outlier. Around the country, municipalities have deployed a variety of methods and statutes to harass and criminalize those lacking shelter: banning panhandling, instating “quality of life” ordinances, confiscating personal property, playing booming construction sounds as a deterrent, and even killing a man for camping in the desert.

The goal, of course, is to push the unseemly to the periphery, rather than solve the underlying problem. And the problem is indeed dire: homelessness is on the rise nationally ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/serve-the-people/

Capitalism’s Victims

Increasingly dehumanizing work has caused an epidemic of suicides in France.
by Sarah Waters

Earlier this year, a female manager in her fifties who worked for France’s postal service was found hanging in her office building in Seine-Saint-Denis, just northeast of Paris. Although no suicide note was found, the death has been linked to the company’s announcement two days earlier of “Horizon 2020,” the latest in a series of restructuring plans that will transform the status of workers in the company.

Far from being an isolated incident, the tragedy is part of a suicide epidemic at a whole range of large French companies. One such company is French telecommunications giant, France Télécom (rebranded as Orange in 2013), whose especially acute “suicide waves” have coincided with the privatization and restructuring of the company.

Twelve France Télécom employees took their own life in 2008, nineteen in 2009, twenty-seven in 2010, and six in 2011. Despite a new agreement on workplace conditions negotiated with the trade unions, there has been a renewal of suicides recently with eleven cases in 2013 and ten suicides since the beginning of 2014.

Work-related suicides are an international phenomenon, as evidenced by the spate of suicides at Foxconn’s production sites in southern China in 2010 or the phenomenon of karoshi, or death by overwork, in Japan. Yet France stands apart for the sheer number of work-related suicides, the media coverage of these suicides, and the intense legal and political debates that have followed ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/capitalisms-victims/

Eugene V. Debs on War

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles." — Eugene V. Debs

War & Peace This Veteran’s Day

Remembering Tomas Young November 10, 2014 by Karin Kamp

We’ve just heard that Iraq war veteran Tomas Young, one of the first vets to publicly oppose the war, has died at the age of 34.

Young was featured in Body of War, a documentary by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro that was featured on Bill Moyers Journal in March 2008. The film focused on Tomas, who was shot and paralyzed just days after beginning his tour of duty in Iraq.


“He was a political animal and he had a political statement that he wanted to make,” Donahue told BillMoyers.com. “Tomas wanted people to know that this is the drama being played out in houses across the country occupied by thousands of young men and women who fought in the war,” he said, referring to injuries that left Young in need of round-the-clock care.

The 24-year-old Young enlisted in the Army after the 9/11 attacks because he wanted to fight terrorists in Afghanistan, but instead was sent to Iraq. Five days after arriving there in 2004, he was shot in the chest and severely wounded. He was left paralyzed from the waist down and as the result of medical complications later became a quadriplegic ...

More here: http://billmoyers.com/2014/11/10/remembering-tomas-young-veterans-day/

To End Poverty

Making Poverty History: To end global poverty, we have to end global capitalism.

Jacobin ~ 11.10.14
by Vijay Prashad

In December, the United Nations sounded the alarm. Releasing its report on the World Social Situation of 2013, entitled “Inequality Matters,” the UN warned that inequality was deepening, and that no country was immune from the contagion. In the Global South, the hemorrhaging of incomes among working people has been about as dramatic as in the Global North. If there is one social process that the planet shares, it is global inequality.

How does the UN explain this rise in inequality? What the data suggests, the UN reports, is that “inequality has increased mainly because the wealthiest individuals have become wealthier, both in developed and developing countries.” The top 1% has siphoned off the social wealth for its private gain, and the bottom 99% — which produced the social wealth – has to live off its crumbs. What’s clear is that capitalism is incapable of ending poverty or substantially reducing inequality.

Word comes from China and India that they have dramatically reduced poverty. Take the case of India. Based on official data on poverty, things appear better now than before. But the data is based on a reassessment of the indicators.

The government created a new measure – one is poor if one consumes less than twenty-four pounds of grain per month. The UN World Food Program asked quite simply if it was reasonable to assume that the person who had twenty-five pounds of grain per month was not poor ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/making-poverty-history/

Six Points on the Midterm Elections

by Rich Yeselson ~ What should we take away from Tuesday’s election results?

The election is over, or at least almost over — some votes are still being counted in congressional races, and there will be a run-off for the Louisiana Senate seat that the Republican challenger will win.

Harold Meyerson, social democrat and labor analyst, says the country is looking for solutions for an economy that doesn’t “deliver broadly shared prosperity” and the Democrats, like center-left parties around the advanced capitalist world, have not provided those solutions — and that they better soon if they want to win elections. Larry Kudlow, manic apostle of unshackled capital, triumphantly tweets, “Leftward redistribution lurch over. Free-market capitalism, incentives, free enterprise.”

So what really happened and why? Here are a few points, offered as more of a sketch of an answer to those questions than a definitive reckoning.

1. The Democratic coalition’s turnout declined, but not by that much.

Whites represented 75% of the electorate in 2014, down from 78% in 2012. But, despite this small tilt away from the GOP base, Democrats did a bit worse with its “of color” coalition: 89% with African Americans (vs 93% in 2012), 63% with Latinos (vs 71%), and, most surprisingly, only a split with the small, but fast-growing Asian American cohort (49% vs a whopping 73%).

So whites had a bigger share of the electorate and the Republican Party is the default party of white Christian American, i.e., nonsecular/Jewish/Muslim et al, yet the Democrats didn’t excite their base, either. And, after a while, if you can’t get your base to vote, it’s not much of an excuse. It means that the base, for whatever reason, simply isn’t as politically motivated as the other party’s base. That’s a problem ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/11/six-points-on-the-midterm-elections/

The October Revolution

ETA (for those who are unfamiliar): The October Revolution, officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution, and commonly referred to as Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a seizure of state power instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd traditionally dated to 25 October 1917 (by the Julian or Old Style calendar, which corresponds to 7 November 1917 in the Gregorian or New Style calendar).

Inspirational Leader

Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov, known by his revolutionary nom de guerre, Lenin, inspired a small cadre of Communist intellectuals to agitate amongst the workers and soldiers of Petrograd, today's St. Petersburg. In this photo, his close associate Leon Trotsky stands at the right of the podium:

Posted mainly for the photo gallery which is most impressive: http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1681193_1481200,00.html
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