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KN4M 11-24-12

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  • robalini
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://robalini.blogspot.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24, 2012
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com
      http://robalini.blogspot.com
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/konformist

      Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"

      Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.

      http://www.steamshovelpress.com

      Awesome Quotes: Jesse Ventura

      For all of you who decided that any employee who stands up for their rights should just look for a better job. Let me ask you, have you looked around the country lately? This country is operating on a service based economy. The giant corporations have moved into most communities and forced privately owned business out of business through graft and spending. Just where is this employee supposed to get a new job that pays a living wage when all the jobs available to them are from the same group of corporations? Oh, I guess they should go to school and learn a trade that will not only put them into deep financial debt but the likelihood of that trade being around after they graduate is slim given the trends of outsourcing and automation. Not everyone gets the high paying six figure job with benefits however that doesn't mean the low income worker should be treated like a second class citizen because they didn't get the same breaks you did. The American dream does not exist. Corporate fascism killed it. The story of the kid who started out flipping burgers and is now a millionaire is a myth. The carrot that is dangled in front of everyone working a shitty job with no future. Welcome to the new corporate sponsored american dream: Indentured Servitude.

      ***

      We're on pace for 4°C of global warming
      Here's why that terrifies the World Bank
      Brad Plumer on November 19, 2012
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/19/were-on-pace-for-4c-of-global-warming-heres-why-the-world-bank-is-terrified/

      Over the years at the U.N. climate talks, the goal has been to keep future global warming below 2°C. But as those talks have faltered, emissions have kept rising, and that 2°C goal is now looking increasingly out of reach. Lately, the conversation has shifted toward how to deal with 3°C of warming. Or 4°C. Or potentially more.

      And that topic has made a lot of people awfully nervous. Case in point: The World Bank just commissioned an analysis by scientists at the Potsdam Institute looking at the consequences of a 4°C rise in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2100. And the report appears to have unnerved many bank officials. "The latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action," wrote World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in an op-ed after the report was released Monday.

      So what exactly has got the World Bank so worried? Partly it's the prospect that a 4°C world could prove difficult—perhaps impossible—for many poorer countries to adapt to. Let's take a closer look at the report:

      1) The world is currently on pace for around 3°C to 4°C of global warming by the end of the century. In recent years, a number of nations have promised to cut their carbon emissions. The United States and Europe are even on pace to meet their goals. But those modest efforts can only do so much, especially as emissions in China and India keep rising. Even if all current pledges get carried out, the report notes, "the world [is] on a trajectory for a global mean warming of well over 3°C." And current climate models still suggest a 20 percent chance of 4°C warming in this emissions scenario.

      2) The direct consequences of a 4°C rise in global temperatures could be stark. Four degrees may not sound like much. But, the report points out, the world was only about 4°C to 7°C cooler, on average, during the last ice age, when large parts of Europe and the United States was covered by glaciers. Warming the planet up in the opposite direction could bring similarly drastic changes, such as three feet or more of sea-level rise by 2100, more severe heat waves, and regional extinction of coral reef ecosystems.

      3) Climate change would likely hit poorer countries hardest. The World Bank focuses on poverty reduction, so its climate report spends most of its time looking at how developing countries could struggle in a warmer world. For instance, a growing number of studies suggest that agricultural production could take a big hit under 3°C or 4°C of warming. Countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam, and parts of Africa would also see large tracts of farmland made unusable by rising seas. "It seems clear," the report concludes, "that climate change in a 4°C world could seriously undermine poverty alleviation in many regions."

      4) Yet the effects of 4°C warming haven't been fully assessed — they could, potentially, be more drastic than expected. Perhaps the most notable bit of the World Bank report is its discussion of the limits of current climate forecasts. Many models, it notes, make predictions in a fairly linear fashion, expecting the impacts of 4°C of warming to be roughly twice as severe as those from 2°C of warming. But this could prove to be wrong. Different effects could combine together in unexpected ways:
      For example, nonlinear temperature effects on crops are likely to be extremely relevant as the world warms to 2°C and above. However, most of our current crop models do not yet fully account for this effect, or for the potential increased ranges of variability (for example, extreme temperatures, new invading pests and diseases, abrupt shifts in critical climate factors that have large impacts on yields and/or quality of grains).

      What's more, the report points out that there are large gaps in our understanding of what 4°C of warming might bring: "For instance," it notes, "there has not been a study published in the scientific literature on the full ecological, human, and economic consequences of a collapse of coral reef ecosystems."

      5) Some countries might not be able to adapt to a 4°C world. At the moment, the World Bank helps many poorer countries build the necessary infrastructure to adapt to a warmer world. That includes dams and seawalls, crop research, freshwater management, and so forth. But, as a recent internal review found, most of these World Bank efforts are focused on relatively small increases in temperature.

      This new World Bank report is less sure how to prepare for a 4°C world. "[G]iven that uncertainty remains about the full nature and scale of impacts, there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible." That's why, the report concludes, "The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur — the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen."

      So what sorts of actions might that entail? The International Energy Agency recently offered its own set of ideas for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions and keeping future warming below 2°C. That included everything from boosting renewable energy to redesigning the world's transportation system. But so far, nations have only made small progress on most of these steps.

      ***

      The Twinkie Manifesto
      PAUL KRUGMAN
      November 18, 2012
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/opinion/krugman-the-twinkie-manifesto.html

      The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring "The Howdy Doody Show." And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time.

      Needless to say, it wasn't really innocent. But the '50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today's conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

      Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing "lower tax rates" as a "guiding principle."

      Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that's right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

      Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of "stakeholders" as opposed to merely serving stockholders.

      Squeezed between high taxes and empowered workers, executives were relatively impoverished by the standards of either earlier or later generations. In 1955 Fortune magazine published an essay, "How top executives live," which emphasized how modest their lifestyles had become compared with days of yore. The vast mansions, armies of servants, and huge yachts of the 1920s were no more; by 1955 the typical executive, Fortune claimed, lived in a smallish suburban house, relied on part-time help and skippered his own relatively small boat.

      The data confirm Fortune's impressions. Between the 1920s and the 1950s real incomes for the richest Americans fell sharply, not just compared with the middle class but in absolute terms. According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in 1955 the real incomes of the top 0.01 percent of Americans were less than half what they had been in the late 1920s, and their share of total income was down by three-quarters.

      Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants and yachts are back, bigger than ever — and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats' style is met with cries of "socialism." Indeed, the whole Romney campaign was based on the premise that President Obama's threat to modestly raise taxes on top incomes, plus his temerity in suggesting that some bankers had behaved badly, were crippling the economy. Surely, then, the far less plutocrat-friendly environment of the 1950s must have been an economic disaster, right?

      Actually, some people thought so at the time. Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in "Atlas Shrugged," published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower's America.

      Strange to say, however, the oppressed executives Fortune portrayed in 1955 didn't go Galt and deprive the nation of their talents. On the contrary, if Fortune is to be believed, they were working harder than ever. And the high-tax, strong-union decades after World War II were in fact marked by spectacular, widely shared economic growth: nothing before or since has matched the doubling of median family income between 1947 and 1973.

      Which brings us back to the nostalgia thing.

      There are, let's face it, some people in our political life who pine for the days when minorities and women knew their place, gays stayed firmly in the closet and congressmen asked, "Are you now or have you ever been?" The rest of us, however, are very glad those days are gone. We are, morally, a much better nation than we were. Oh, and the food has improved a lot, too.

      Along the way, however, we've forgotten something important — namely, that economic justice and economic growth aren't incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.

      A version of this op-ed appeared in print on November 19, 2012, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: The Twinkie Manifesto.

      ***

      Sexual privacy under threat in a surveillance society
      Naomi Wolf
      Mon November 19, 2012
      http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/19/opinion/wolf-marriage-infidelity

      STORY HIGHLIGHTS
      Naomi Wolf: We live in an increasingly intrusive surveillance society
      Wolf says for her, Petraeus story is about terrifying power of Patriot and Espionage acts
      She says loss of sexual privacy would be destructive to the human condition
      Wolf: We should not rush to judge marriages and those who commit infidelity

      Editor's note: Naomi Wolf is the author of "Vagina: A New Biography."

      Once again we see the scenario unfold: A powerful man, with tremendous responsibilities, apparently "caught" in a compromising sexual situation with a woman who is not his wife.

      There is the now-familiar ritual of the threats of embarrassing revelations of intimate conversations, the hunted-down "other woman" who either decides to tell more or not, the nationwide harrumphing and moralizing, and the schadenfreude-stoking musings over the humiliations of the loyal wife. And of course, there is the spectacle of another career -- in David Petraeus' case, one that distinguished him in his service to our country -- in tatters.

      But while the media tell a familiar narrative of misjudgment and temptation, to me this story is about the terrifying power of the Patriot Act, married to the terrifying power of the resurrected Espionage Act -- and combined with a lethal admixture of our nation's Puritanism, prurience about and ignorance regarding sexuality.

      What happened to Petraeus -- and the recent slew of other powerful men or men threatening to some power blocs, from Eliot Spitzer to Bill Clinton? They were surveilled by political elites in an increasingly intrusive surveillance society, and exposed.

      We should understand that the surveillance that keeps tripping up these powerful men is not something about which only heads of state, whistle-blower publishers or generals have to worry. It also includes others in which the allegations of what initiated their downfall are more complex and serious, such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Julian Assange.

      Because of the Patriot Act, any of us, if we annoy or threaten powerful interests, can have our e-mails read without our knowledge. Any of us can be subject to a search that could lead from one e-mail correspondent to another until the National Security Agency or the FBI, which have both confirmed that they have invested heavily in domestic surveillance of social networks, find something -- anything -- that could be seen as compromising.

      At that point, any of us can be subjected to terrible pressure -- even legal threats -- if what is uncovered can be in any way described as "classified information."

      Media's Petraeus frenzy

      We live at a time in which our government is vastly over-classifying subjects in the name of public interest or that might embarrass the state. Heaven forbid if anyone provides "material support" for the enemy, which is so vague a term that President Barack Obama's own lawyers confirmed to Judge Katherine Forrest, in my presence during the New York hearing on the National Defense Authorization Act this past spring, that it can be used to include basic journalism about, for instance, the Taliban, or other information the government simply does not wish exposed.

      Any of us can be threatened with possessing classified information. This is why Bradley Manning has spent months in solitary confinement in prison.

      We can be threatened with the Espionage Act. This is why Assange is hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. If Assange were convicted of receiving classified information, and extradited under the Espionage Act, he could theoretically be shipped to Guantanamo -- for which some congressional voices have called. But that precedent casts a shadow over everyone who might have ever heard about or discussed classified information -- something that is routine in Washington.

      There are still many unknowns to the Petraeus story. Maybe it really is just about the CIA and the FBI being very, very worried about Petraeus sleeping with his biographer. But we don't need to buy into this theater. If there is a national security breach -- which would be a real issue if one took place -- that can be investigated and addressed without spectacle or bullying.

      In working with these two appalling laws, we need to understand what loss of privacy means: Any of us can be brought down, intimidated, silenced, threatened, by exposure of our personal lives, for any reason.

      We all have secrets we do not wish made public. Any of us can be threatened with exposure of infidelity, or sex addiction, or flirtatious communications, or addiction to embarrassing pornographic images, or alcoholism or bipolar disorder, or even our discussions with our doctors, psychiatrists or accountants -- about our most personal information.

      It is hard to imagine fully what the loss of sexual privacy means to private life -- and to the human condition.

      In the film "The Lives of Others," set in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down, the state listened in on lovers doing what lovers do: quarrelling, engaging in highly intimate acts of desire and passion, and sometimes, yes, betraying their spouses. But what is clear from the depiction is that whatever private pain such betrayal as infidelity causes, the general pain and the deadening quality for everyone, of living in a society in which there is no privacy -- and no sexual privacy -- is far, far more destructive and more distorting of the human condition.

      Sexual privacy is absolutely necessary for human beings to have basic dignity, and that includes the space to make mistakes or do things one may regret. A third of couples, husbands and wives, report that they have committed infidelity. What if all of those marriages were subject to surveillance and exposure?

      What if the power regarding who tells you that your spouse has betrayed you, becomes not a private struggle in private life, but a matter for the state to decide? And how many people in marriages that might have survived an infidelity, might have their lives and relationships further shattered by the state, as it can do now, from knowing the details of every single e-mail or credit card record or gift?

      Finally, add to this toxic mess American Puritanism and prurience. It is easy to look at what seems to be a man, a mistress and a furious wife, and to assume that one knows all about what has gone on.

      But often such situations are complex. Women commit adultery as often as men do, though the media are full of stories asking: Why do men cheat? Indeed, women initiate divorce more often than men do. Female unhappiness in intimate relationships is rife in America, because of some basic misunderstandings of female desire that I have detailed in my new book.

      It is not our place to judge and condemn, or to cast the first stone. A new understanding of the dangers of the Patriot and Espionage acts should show us why it is more important than ever for couples to be permitted to experience the pain and betrayal of a possible infidelity in private, without the power of the state breathing down the necks of all involved.

      Of course, there is no way ever to justify an infidelity -- betrayal is always wrong. One cannot know from the outside what kind of sexual or emotional loneliness may have been part of any given marriage, what kinds of demons any one of us might struggle with.

      Understanding the toxic sexual culture in which American marriages try to thrive should lead us, at least, to see such breakdowns without snap judgments. And understanding the role of a surveillance society in the state's choosing which adulterers to go after should give us pause about joining into to any theatrics of public condemnation.

      Unless there was a serious state security issue in relation to this infidelity, what happened between Petraeus and Paula Broadwell should be, personally speaking, the equivalent of classified information: in other words, absolutely none of our business.
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