Tommy Douglas on the definition of fascism

October 25, 2014

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Via Notes to Ponder.

Tommy Douglas, as virtually all Canadians know, was the father of Medicare in Canada, which was first introduced in Saskatchewan and then rolled out into Canada as a whole.   Canadian Medicare inspired U.S. Medicare, but it covers almost all Canadians while the U.S. plan only covers the 65 and older population.

Douglas was a champion of civil liberties.  As a member of Parliament, he had the courage in 1970 to refuse to support the War Measures Act, which, in response to terrorist activity in Quebec, expanded police and military powers and curtailed civil liberties throughout Canada.

In 2004, Douglas was voted the greatest Canadian in a nationally televised CBC contest.

Blockadia: the climate fight’s new front

October 25, 2014

The fight against global warming consists of many local struggles that, at first glance, don’t have anything to do with climate change.

These struggles include resistance to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, to the Alberta tar sands industry and the Keystone XL pipeline, to deep ocean oil drilling and to other destructive practices by oil, gas and coal companies.

Such destructive practices are necessary to keep the fossil fuel companies in business because all the easy-to-get oil, gas and coal has been used up.  And greenhouse gas emissions will decrease only when oil and gas drilling and coal mining decrease.

naomi-klein.book0coverNaomi Klein in her book, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs The Climate, reported on how these scattered local resistance movements are coming to realize they are part of a common cause.

In just one chapter, she touched on protests in Greece, Rumania, Canada’s New Brunswick, England’s Sussex, Inner Mongolia, Australia, Texas, France, Ecuador, Nigeria, West Virginia, South Dakota, North America’s Pacific Northwest and Quebec—all related directly or indirectly to stopping fossil fuel operations that would produce greenhouse gasses.

She and others call this alliance “Blockadia”.   Unlike some of the big, established environmental organizations, the grass-roots protesters do not limit themselves to lawsuits and political lobbying.  They engage in nonviolent direct action, the kind of mass defiance that Gene Sharp advocated.   These movements, more than the lobbying and lawsuits of the Big Green environmental organizations, will determine the future climate, she wrote.

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How to change priorities

October 24, 2014

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A liveable climate and its enemies

October 23, 2014

Here are links, with transcripts, to the complete Sept. 18, 2014 interview.

Naomi Klein on the Need for a New Economic Model to Address Ecological Crisis.

Naomi Klein on the People’s Climate March and the Global Grassroots Movement Fighting Fossil Fuels.

Naomi Klein on Motherhood, Geoengineering, Climate Debt and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement.

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Naomi Klein thinks that, if governments had taken action in the 1990s to curb greenhouse gas emissions to control climate change, it could have been accomplished without drastic upheavals in society or in people’s lives..

Unfortunately another movement arose at the same time, a movement to remove restrictions on corporate activity, and this movement has proved more powerful than the climate movement.   The corporate movement has produced privatization, deregulation, repeal of anti-trust laws and a strong and enforceable body of international law to block environmental regulation and subsidies of renewal energy.

naomi-klein.book0coverThe first chapter of Klein’s new book, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs the Climate, is about how the real objection of climate change deniers is their realization that climate change, if real, would mean an end to free enterprise as they know it.  She said they’re right.

Our economy is based on what Klein calls extractivism—the idea that there can be unlimited economic growth based on the burning of a limited amount of coal, oil and gas.

This is a process that will someday end in and of itself, when it is no longer feasible to dig out what little fossil fuels remain.  We the people can’t afford to wait until that happens, because emissions from burning fossil fuels will have heated up the planet to the point where it is barely liveable.  But moving away from extractivism is easier said than done.

An end to extractivism would require, first of all, the repeal of international trade treaties such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization treaty that allow corporations to challenge national laws that favor local industry or interfere with the international movement of goods and services.

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Naomi Klein’s new climate change book

October 22, 2014

Naomi KleinWe know that we are trapped within an economic system that has it backwards; it behaves as if there is no end to what is actually finite (clean water, fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions) while insisting there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually quite flexible: the financial resources that human institutions manufacture, and that, if imagined differently, could build the kind of caring society that we need.

==Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything

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Naomi Klein’s brilliant new book, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs the Climate, underlines two important things I had not quite realized.

The first is that the built-in financial incentives of the fossil fuel corporations, or capitalism generally, make it impossible for corporate executives to do anything on their own that would limit the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.

The second is that many seemingly unrelated struggles against abuses by fossil fuel companies, or abuses by corporations generally, tie in with fighting climate change.

hoax-cop15When native Americans fight to have Indian treaties recognized in law, when small towns in upstate New York pass ordinances against hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, when ranchers and Indians protest the Keystone XL pipeline, when other protestors object to corporate trade treaties such as NAFTA, when Occupy Wall Street protesters advocate economic democracy—all these things help other people in danger from the increase in droughts, floods and violent storms.

I confess that I did not see these connections, or did not fully realize their significance, until I read this book.  I had thought of the question of climate change as primarily a question of how and how much I and other people are willing to reduce their material standard of living, or give up hope of increasing their material standard of living, so that future generations will have a decent planet to live on.

This is a real and important question, but it is not the only question.  As Naomi Klein points out, the well-being livelihoods of many people are threatened by continuing on the present course.   That is because the era of easily-available oil, gas and coal is long gone, and the methods of extracting them—deep water ocean drilling, tar sands, fracking, mountaintop removal—are increasingly costly, dangerous and destructive.

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If Black America were a separate nation …

October 21, 2014

496abd309 Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Iraqi army won’t fight

October 21, 2014

The Iraqi army is retreating, often without firing a shot, from the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS), which they vastly outnumber.

This comes after a decade in which the U.S. government spent $25 billion to train and equip the Iraqi troops.

It is not necessary to know a lot about the Middle East to understand why.  Troops won’t put their lives in danger for someone to whom they feel no loyalty.  They will feel no loyalty to a government that is completely corrupt.  Any government that is set up to serve the interests of a foreign power (the USA) is almost inherently corrupt.

These are not problems that could have been solved by keeping a token American force in Iraq for a few years longer.   They might possibly have been solved if the existing Iraqi army had not been dissolved right after the U.S.-led invasion.

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Investing in Junk Armies: Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail by William J. Astore for TomDispatch (via The Unz Review).   Highly recommended.

The Iraqi Army That Never Was by Kelly Vlahos for The American Conservative.

One person’s perspective on the Ebola threat

October 21, 2014

I’m much more likely to be mistakenly killed by a police officer in this country than to be killed by Ebola

via Mother Jones.

China leads the world in executions

October 21, 2014

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Source: The Independent

Last year China executed more people, by far, than the rest of the world combined.

Captain America was a New Deal Democrat

October 21, 2014

Steve Attewell wrote the following on the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog:

Steve Rogers doesn’t represent a genericized America but rather a very specific time and place – 1930’s New York City.

1.captainamericajoesimonobit1We know he was born July 4, 1920 (not kidding about the 4th of July) to a working-class family of Irish Catholic immigrants who lived in New York’s Lower East Side. This biographical detail has political meaning: given the era he was born in and his class and religious/ethnic background, there is no way in hell Steve Rogers didn’t grow up as a Democrat, and a New Deal Democrat at that, complete with a picture of FDR on the wall.

Steve Rogers grew up poor in the Great Depression, the son of a single mother who insisted he stayed in school despite the trend of the time.  His father died when he was a child; in some versions, his father is a brave WWI veteran, in others an alcoholic, either or both of which would be appropriate given what happened to WWI veterans in the Great Depression, and then [he was] orphaned in his late teens when his mother died of TB.

FDRcapshieldAnd he came of age in New York City at a time when the New Deal was in full swing, Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor, the American Labor Party was a major force in city politics, labor unions were on the move, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organizing to fight fascism in Spain in the name of the Popular Front, and a militant anti-racist movement was growing that equated segregation at home with Nazism abroad that will eventually feed into the “Double V” campaign.

Then he became a fine arts student.  … …  And if a poor kid like Steve Rogers was going to college as a fine arts student, odds are very good that he was going to the City College of New York.  … …

2.captainamerica8nxjyo0qr1shdts2o3_500And this Steve Rogers, who’s been exposed to all of what New York City has to offer, becomes an explicit anti-fascist

In the fall of 1940, over a year before Pearl Harbor, he first volunteers to join the army to fight the Nazis specifically.  This isn’t an apolitical patriotism forged out of a sense that the U.S has been attacked; rather, Steve Rogers had come to believe that Nazism posed an existential threat to the America he believed in.  New Deal America.

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