Monday, July 15, 2013

1100. A Word With the Reader: Notes on Some Notable Recent Events

By Kamran Nayeri, July 15, 2013
Assistant Editor Bogie

Since I wrote this column 99 posts ago, much has happened in our world including the following:  

Global warming: In early May, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere reached the 400 parts per million mark.  Scientists estimate that the last time carbon dioxide was in such high concentration was probably 2-4 millions years ago.  Combine this fact with another:  carbon dioxide concentration was at about 280 ppm before the English Industrial Revolution.  In just over two hundred years, fossil fuel-driven capitalist industrialization has added 120 ppm more. 

If the present trend continues, we will reach a tipping point beyond which global warming become self-sustained through feedback loops, a mortal danger for much of life on Earth. 

And still the governments of the world, in particular those of the United States and other  rich countries have not taken any serious steps to stop and reverse this trend.  Recently announced Obama policy initiatives--even if they are implemented--will be woefully too little too late and designed to change the mix of fossil fuels used in favor of natural gas but not to replace them. 

Upheavals in Turkey, Brazil and Egypt:  All three countries are geopolitically important.  Brazil and Turkey are industrializing economies. In each case a substantial part of the population has become alienated from the government and taken early steps in self-activity and self-organization.  Notably, two Turkish unions, including DISK with a history of labor militancy, staged national strikes in support of the protests. In Brazil a once day general strike was declared last week.  The tacitly backing by the United States of the military coup in Egypt was supported by many who were part the mass movement that brought down the Mubarak regime.  Egyptian liberals, like their counterpart elsewhere in the world, are split between loving the military for rescuing them from the Islamic government of president Mosri and wanting to disassociate themselves from the coup's repressive measures including media censorship.  The future of Egypt will depend on the the capacity of the working people to forge their own organizations and on that basis a government of workers and peasants. 

The Edward J. Snowden revelations:  The “democratically elected” governments in the United States have intervened, invaded and occupied other countries under the pretext of democracy, freedom and human rights.  Edward Snowden's revelations showed that the National Security Agency (SNA) has been spying on everybody in the U.S. as well as many foreign governments (including close "allies") and organizations and individuals.  There are sixteen different federal “intelligence” agencies in the U.S.  In 2010, the Washington Post  reported that there were 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in 10,000 locations conducting “intelligence” activities in the United States.  Seventy percent of the budget for “intelligence” go to private companies who are subcontractors of the federal “intelligence” agencies.  Snowden was a subcontractor for Booz Allen, one of such subcontractors.  While he lacked a college degree his annual salary was $200,000. The constitutional "separation of powers" has been subverted by the creation of a special secret court that rubber stamp government spying and a docile legislature.  Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have come to the defense of the Obama administration’s dragnet. Meanwhile, we have been reminded that the U.S. spying on its citizens did not begin with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The government has been quietly collecting information on everyone’s mail by photocopying and archiving any piece of mail for everyone for the past four decades. It is estimated that currently that amounts to 160 billion photocopies. 

Recent accelerated leaking and whistle-blower activities by Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and now Edward Snowden shows two different interlocking factors.  The widespread availability of technology makes it easier for the  government to spy on its citizens. Given the crisis of capitalist system governments are more likely to spy in their citizens. The result is massive government dragnets that far exceeds anyone’s fantasy while maintaining the “democratic” and “liberal” facade of the Western capitalist societies.  Recently, Le Monde exposed French government’s spying on its own citizens. 

No Justice for Trayvon Martin: As feared, the jury found George Zimmermann not guilty in the killing of the 17 year old black teenager Trayvon Martin.  The jury believed Zimmermann’s claim that he shot Martin point-blank in the heart in self-defense. Never mind that the 28 year old Zimmermann was armed and the 17 year old Martin was not.  Never mind that it was Zimmermann who "profiled" Martin when the teenager was returning home from shopping candy and pursued him.  Never mind that he continued to pursue Martin even after the police told him not to do so.  At some point the two came face to face, a struggle ensues, Zimmermann pulled his gun and shot Martin in the heart.  

The jury returned the not guilty verdict given the Florida law of Stand Your Ground--drafted by a conservative group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). A version of this is on the books in two dozen States. It gives a gun owner the right to shoot with impunity when he/she decided he/she is in danger of “death or great bodily harm.”  It is the gunman who decides when and how to shoot--in Zimmermann’s case it was shoot to kill.  

Thousands have protested the Florida verdict. Racism backed by the law continues to exists in the United States.    

Gay marriage: The twin Supreme Court rulings in the United States has now sanctioned gay marriage to proceed in States that have such laws.  This has enabled gay and lesbian couples to enjoy legal protections similar to those heterosexual couples have enjoyed in about 1/3 of the U.S. population (the rest reside in States that do not yet have gay marriage laws).   Other countries have legalized gay marriage.  These are historic advances for human rights worldwide.  For centuries in patriarchal class societies gay people have been suppressed--there existence unknown or denied.  The advances for gay people helps humanity to move forward to embrace still another part of the “other,” section of society who we have shunned.  The main driver of the legal advances for gay rights is public awareness and acceptance of homosexuality.   Let this enlightened spirit encompass all otherness whether in humanity or in nature. Beauty of the world and indeed life itself lies  in diversity. 

*     *     *

There have been 99 posts since my last communication (nos. 1000 to 1099 inclusive).  Posts on ecocide (16), global warming/climate change ( 15), and science (13) predominated.  There were 16 posts on Cuba and 10 posts on food/agriculture.  There were nine posts on animals and six on nature.  Eight posts dealt with ecosocialism. Other topics covered were human and non-human animal rights, imperialism and war, and art.  There were two posts written by two of the readers--these come under the heading” “From Readers:...” 

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Hot links for the past 99 posts follow:

  1. Forward on Climate Rallies: A Good Beginning
  2. India's Rice Revolution
  3. New York's Victory Against Big Gas
  4. How human Language Could Have Evolved From Birdsong
  5. Big History: The History of Our World in 18 Minutes
  6. Cuba Under Raul Castro: Economic Reform as Priority? 
  7. Maize Was Key in Early Andean Civilization, Study Shows
  8. Book Review: Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present 
  9. Study of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link 
  10. CONTINUUM: A Documentary 
  11. Germs Are Us 
  12. Report Blames Climate Change for Extremes in Australia
  13. Sixty Percent of African Elephants Were Killed from 2002 to 2011 
  14. The Feminization of Farming 
  15. The Therapeutic Smell of Trees 
  16. Global Temperatures Highest in 4,000 Years
  17. Big History Resources 
  18. From Readers: Why the Need for Sustainable Society  
  19. Monarch Migration Plunges to Lowest Level in Decades 
  20. Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA 
  21. The Winter of the Monarch 
  22. Climate Change Will Force Billions More Into Poverty, Warns UN 
  23. Obama Proposes New Renewables Research
  24. Earliest Snapshot of the Universe Produced by Planck 
  25. The 2013 International Permaculture Congress 
  26. Cuban Reforms and Afro-Cuban Reality
  27. A Critique of the Ecosocialist Manifesto of the Parti de Gauche 
  28. Antibiotics, the Meat Industry, and Super Bugs 
  29. Same-Sex Marriage: What We Can Learn from Nature 
  30. Living Off-the-Grid Is Possible, But It’s Not Enough to Fix Climate Change 
  31. Study Links 2011 Quake to Technique at Oil Wells 
  32. Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice: A Call to Action 
  33. Roberto Zurbano Is Demoted after Criticizing Racism in Cuba in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times 
  34. Zurbano and “The New York Times”: Lost and Found in Translation 
  35. Monkeys Can Coordinate, Study Finds 
  36. New York: An Ecosocialist Conference 
  37. Forgotten by the World: The U.S. Torture Chamber in Guantánamo Bay 
  38. Color-Changing Hare Can't Keep Up With Climate Change 
  39. Millions Face Starvation as the World Warms, Scientists Say 
  40. Venezuela Forces Cuba's Pace of Change 
  41. How Cubans' Health Improved When Their Economy Collapsed 
  42. From Readers: Should We Be Afraid of Wolves? 
  43. Alfredo Guevara Valdés, 87, Steward of Cuban Cinema, Dies 
  44. Monkeys Are Adept at Picking Social Cues, Research Shows 
  45. Harvard Medical School Plans to Close Primate Research Lab
  46. New York Ecosocialist Conference Charts Path Toward ‘System Change Not Climate Change’
  47. Cuba's Pending Debate on Racism 
  48. Three Years Later: Corexit Dispersants Worsened Gulf Oil Spill
  49. The Climate Space and the Future of the Climate Justice Movement: An Interview With Pablo Solon
  50. New York Ecosocialist Conference Charts a Course Forward
  51. Cuba Demands U.S. Must Shut Guantanamo Bay Prison and Base
  52. Roberto Zurbano: The Country to Come: and My Black Cuba? The Original Article as Submitted to the New York Times
  53. Help Lynne Stewart's Fight Against Cancer and for Her Freedom 
  54. Plants 'Talk' to Plants to Help Them Grow
  55. Rich Countries Drag Feet at Climate Talks
  56. Cuban Five: René González Renounces His U.S. Citizenship to Remain in Cuba 
  57. Synthetic Biology: Dreaming of Trees Aglow at Night!
  58. United National Antiwar Coalition: U.S./Israel Hands Off Syria!
  59. Foundations for the Consolidation and Action of an Ecosocialist Network
  60. A Critique of James Hansen's Proposal to Stop Global Warming
  61. Cubans March Against Homophobia in Havana
  62. How Austerity Kills
  63. Cuba: British and Canadian Businessmen to Go on Trail for Corruption
  64. Global Warming: How Much Will the Temperature Rise? 
  65. Global Warming: Rulers Maneuver to Exploit Now Accessible Arctic Riches
  66. Who Would Kill a Monk Seal?: A New Threat to Endangered Species
  67. Drought and Civil War in Syria
  68. Wells Dry, Fertile Plains Turn to Dust
  69. A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit
  70. Review of Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience, a book by David Theodoropoulos
  71. Germs R Us: A Biological View of the Self
  72. Cuba Lifts Ban on Energy-Hogging Appliances
  73. Whales Freed from Fishing Gear May Still Die a Slow Death 
  74. Cockroaches Evolve to Avoid Glucose Used in Traps
  75. Masters of War by Bob Dylan: On the Occasion of Memorial Day in the United States
  76. Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food 
  77. U.S. Women on the Rise as Family Breadwinner
  78. Manly Sweat Makes Other Men More Cooperative
  79. Shell and the Arctic Oil Rush
  80. London: Confronting the Climate Crisis Conference
  81. Bolivia: Amid Gas, Where Is the Revolution?
  82. Karl Marx, Radical Environmentalist
  83. Greeley, Colorado, Population 93,000 Is Ringed by about 20,000 Oil And Gas Wells
  84. A British NGO Is the Victim U.S. Embargo Against Cuba
  85. Fish Nets Kill Large Number of Sea Birds
  86. Cuba Wakes Up to Costs of Climate Change Effects
  87. Reading Marx in Tehran
  88. Why Closely Related Species Do Not Eat the Same Things
  89. 54% of Pregnant Women Use Insecticides That Are Harmful to the Fetus, Spanish Study Shows
  90. Follow the Money: GMO Scientists and Monsanto Receive the World Food Award
  91. Obama's Fracked-up Climate Strategy Will Guarantee Global Warming Disaster
  92. Obama's Policy: How Much Change on Climate Change?
  93. Letter from Lynne Stewart: Disappointed but Not Devastated 
  94. Behind Lynne Stewart's Denial of Compassionate Release
  95. Cuba's Non-Farm Co-ops Debut This Week Amid Move Toward Markets
  96. Over 30 Million Bees Found Dead In Elmwood Canada 
  97. More Evidence for Multiple Origins of Farming
  98. Slowly, Cuba Is Developing an Appetite for Spending
  99. Climate Change Deniers Using Dirty Tricks from 'Tobacco Wars', Expert Says 

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