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BeckyDem's Journal
BeckyDem's Journal
October 25, 2021

Early warnings and emerging accountability: Total's responses to global warming, 1971-2021


Archives, interviews used to trace Total's engagement with global warming since 1970s.

Total or predecessors aware of harmful global warming impacts since at least 1971.

Total engaged in overt denial of climate science in late 1980s, early 1990s.

Various postures and strategies pursued by Total other than overt science denial.

IPIECA played key role in coordinating international oil industry beginning in 1980s.


Building upon recent work on other major fossil fuel companies, we report new archival research and primary source interviews describing how Total responded to evolving climate science and policy in the last 50 years. We show that Total personnel received warnings of the potential for catastrophic global warming from its products by 1971, became more fully informed of the issue in the 1980s, began promoting doubt regarding the scientific basis for global warming by the late 1980s, and ultimately settled on a position in the late 1990s of publicly accepting climate science while promoting policy delay or policies peripheral to fossil fuel control. Additionally, we find that Exxon, through the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), coordinated an international campaign to dispute climate science and weaken international climate policy, beginning in the 1980s. This represents one of the first longitudinal studies of a major fossil fuel company’s responses to global warming to the present, describing historical stages of awareness, preparation, denial, and delay.

( Perhaps consider e-mailing this to your editorial boards, would be nice if it were featured, God forbid, on the front page of a newspaper or two.)

October 22, 2021

As Police Violence Increases, Civilians Less Likely to Call 911: Study

By Andrea Cipriano | October 20, 2021

A mirror created by the group Visual Black Justice, installed in front of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, where Derek Chauvin stood trial in the death of George Floyd. Photo by Lorie Shaull via Flickr.

Examining detailed data from eight major American cities, a new research study from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government found that police violence reduces civilian trust and engagement with law enforcement.

In other words, as police violence and police brutality rates, and media attention increases, public trust plummets. As a consequence, communities stop relying on law enforcement for help.

The researchers, Desmond Ang from the Harvard Kennedy School, Panka Bencsik from the University of Chicago, Jesse Bruhn from Brown University, and Ellora Derenoncourt from Princeton University, examined the ratio between 911 call data and the number of gunshot occurrences for Baltimore, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Richmond, and San Diego, before and after the high-profile police killing of George Floyd.


October 21, 2021

New CPJ, Internet Society fact sheet on why journalists need encryption

By Michael De Dora, CPJ Washington Advocacy Manager

on March 26, 2020 3:00 PM EDT

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Internet Society today released a joint fact sheet that explains the importance of encryption to press freedom and the free flow of information.

Encryption is the process of scrambling information so it can only be read by someone with the keys to open and unscramble the information. As such, it offers essential protection for anyone who communicates and shares files electronically—as journalists do routinely, especially those observing measures to restrict movement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If journalists cannot communicate in confidence with colleagues and sources, they cannot do their jobs in safety,” the fact sheet explains. “Likewise, if they cannot protect the anonymity of their sources, those sources may not come forward, and the public will pay the price.


October 18, 2021

The U.S. Can Lower Drug Prices Without Sacrificing Innovation

by David Blumenthal, Mark E. Miller, and Lovisa Gustafsson

October 01, 2021


With Congress considering legislation to allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices, large pharmaceutical companies are once again waging a campaign that contends that doing so would seriously harm the development of breakthrough drugs. This is not true. Smaller companies now account for the lion’s share of such breakthroughs. The key to supporting drug innovation is to increase NIH funding of the efforts that gives rise to these new companies, cut the costs and accelerate the speed of clinical trials, and reform patent law.

Legislation giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices in the United States would make their life-saving potential immediately available to millions of Americans who cannot now afford them, thus extending lives and alleviating suffering. The pharmaceutical industry, however, has done a masterful job of arguing that these Americans must suffer in the short term since lower prices would gut long-term innovation in drug development.

This is a false choice. We need not trade the certainty of saved lives now for the possibility of saved lives in the future.


October 16, 2021

Infrastructure Summer: A Surprisingly Radical Housing Bill

Practically all the solutions to diminishing the high cost of housing, from nudges to public options, are present in the housing piece of the reconciliation bill.

by Alexander Sammon

September 16, 2021

The Build Back Better Act, Democrats’ reconciliation bill featuring most of President Biden’s legislative priorities, is hard to sum up succinctly. It’s a climate bill, featuring a historic and sorely needed investment in the green transition; it’s a family care bill, featuring paid family leave, universal pre-K, and a home health care program; it’s a health care bill, with lowered prescription drug prices, Obamacare exchange subsidies, a solution for Medicaid recipients in non-expansion states, and dental care under Medicare. All of this still subject to negotiation by House Democrats and the Senate, of course, which will cause everyone watching to pull their hair out.

One of the few things the bill has not gotten much attention for is its housing program. But that’s not because the housing proposals are lacking. The bill features a substantial investment in a number of housing-related priorities that run the gamut from technocratic nudges favored by neoliberals to significant resources directed toward activist-favored solutions, including money for new public-housing developments and community land trusts.

Running through the housing provisions introduced for markup by the House Financial Services Committee, which wrapped up this week, shows an interesting all-of-the-above approach to one of the most vexing problems in the American economy, the soaring cost of housing. The bill features $327 billion in new spending on housing, with the bulk of that money going to public housing and housing vouchers, as well as some low-income development. All told, a best-case scenario could see the bill cutting homelessness in half within five years (though it features that new, favored Democratic construction, in that some of it expires in 2026 and will need to be made permanent by a future Congress).

October 15, 2021

Temple Grandin urges parents and educators to expose autistic children to a range of experiences

Temple Grandin has co-written a new book, “Navigating Autism,” in which she argues it's too easy to use the autism label to define a person on the spectrum. She urges exposing kids to many experiences to find and emphasize strengths rather than deficits. Jamie Wax reports.

1h ago


( She is amazing, so smart and loving. )

October 8, 2021

Reallocation Effects of the Minimum Wage

Posted on October 7, 2021 by Yves Smith

Yves here. Classic studies by Andrew Card and Alan Krueger on the impact of minimum wage increases on the income and employment levels of fast food workers came to similar conclusions as this paper: increasing minimum wages does not in fact produce unemployment, and so winds up in a net increase in the income of low wage workers. From Vox after Krueger committed suicide:

In introductory economics courses, students are typically taught that setting price floors — on milk, oil, or, perhaps most importantly, labor — causes supply to exceed demand.

In the case of labor, what that means is that if there’s a minimum wage, employers’ demand for workers falls (because they cost more), and the supply of workers increases (because they’re promised more money), meaning there’s unemployment, with all the costs and suffering that entails.

This conclusion was largely based on abstract theory, but it held sway for decades….

October 4, 2021

How the 'self licking ice cream cone,' prolonged the 20-year war

Institutional interests, including military budgets and self-preservation, will drive bad national security decisions every time.

October 4, 2021

There is a rapidly growing political demand for making American officials accountable for the failures of the Afghanistan War, with a focus now on the military leadership and top generals’ role in keeping forces there for 20 years despite all the signs they knew the war was unwinnable.

One indication of a new political stage for the issue is the fact that Afghanistan War veterans Republican Joe Kent, running for a House seat in Washington state, and Democrat Lucas Kunce, running for a Senate seat in Missouri, have both called for such accountability, questioning the war’s continuation despite evidence it could not be won. Kunce has said that the “right call” would have been to get out of Afghanistan in 2002 or 2003. Kent has charged that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan “have been lying for years, because they want to keep these wars going.”

This is the first time political candidates have suggested that the interests of senior military officials played a key part in prolonging the war in Afghanistan. The idea that national security institutions and their leaders pursue such parochial interests has been almost entirely ignored in past discussions, because mainstream foreign policy specialists have disapproved of it.

It wasn’t until the December 2019 release of the The Afghanistan Papers, a collection of confidential interviews with U.S. officials and other war insiders, that it was publicly revealed how official Wasington continued to push the war despite their private reservations that it could be won.


( A novel idea, accountability.)

October 3, 2021

Noam Chomsky Urges US, India to Engage With Taliban for Afghans' Human Rights

“Engagement does not mean overlooking the abuses,” the renowned academic said


New Delhi: Academic Noam Chomsky has urged the US and India to engage with the Taliban so as to help Afghan people, instead of blocking available options.

In a virtual meet organised by the South Asia Peace Action Network and titled ’20 Years After 9/11: Impact on South Asia and South Asians’, Chomsky highlighted the implications of the US’s focus on Iraq, Central Asia and the Middle East, 20 years after the al Quaeda attack on the Twin Towers in New York.

“You are referring, of course, to the second 9/11, the one in 2001. There was a more serious 9/11 in 1973 – a far more serious 9/11”, said Chomsky, referring to the violent coup in Chile against the elected government of Salvador Allende.

Chomsky blamed the US for rejecting what he said was the Taliban’s initial offer to surrender, over interests in the region, noting that the eventual invasion “led to catastrophe for Iraq and the entire region”.


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