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The UNFCCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker

“Paris 2015” designates the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) to be held November 30 to December 11. The participants will be seeking a new international agreement on climate with a goal of holding global warming below 2°C (3.6°F) relative to pre-industrial temps. Can they do it? Yes, but will they?

If history is a guide, the odds are 50/50, maybe 25/75. However, this time history may be a poor guide because the pressure to accomplish an agreement has never been more pronounced, more eagerly sought, or more …

An Open Letter to Stanley Cohen

Establishment forces are trying to silence Stanley Cohen, a lawyer for those who resist.

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Stanley,

Hey, so I was on Youtube listening to the unforgettable Amiri Baraka, the late playwright, jazzman, truth teller and mounting flame who never sold out, reciting his great poetic indictment “Somebody Blew Up America” against the backdrop of a plaintiff Joycian beat generation sax rif. Its the poem that got him defrocked as New Jersey’s Poet Laureate not too many years before the light of that noble life left us all the worse for it’s extinction. “Who, Who, Whoo, Whooooo”!

And then, …

Environmental/Ethical/Spiritual Costs of Northern California’s Wine Industry

I have been contemplating why the growing struggle by rural residents against the expanding, industrial wine industry in Sonoma and Napa counties, Northern California, has touched my heart and soul so deeply.

An email from Sister Julie DeRossi of the Starcross Monastic Community to the Board of Supervisors, which follows at the end of this article, provided insight. It stimulated a consideration of the environmental, ethical, spiritual, and agricultural costs of the invasive wine industry that consumes and spoils our diverse rural land at an increasingly rapid rate.

Nuns, monks, and other religious people have pursued farming as spiritual practice …

Colombia’s Killing Fields

Peace is War

Colombia has received more US military aid — over $6 billion dollars in the past decade — than any country in the Western Hemisphere. For its part, Colombia allowed the Pentagon to build seven military bases, more than all the other countries in the region combined. There are over 2,000 US military officers and private US ‘mercenary’ contractors engaged in military activities in Colombia – more than any other country in Latin America.

During the decade-long (2001-2010) regime of President Alvaro Uribe, (a drug trafficker and death …

Predicting the Next Juvenile Revolution

The establishment, not so very long ago, had a healthy fear of juveniles. In the 1950s:

A thousand conferences, agencies, committees, and newspapers alerted the country [USA] to the danger. Juvenile delinquency was the only rebellion around, and it had to be stopped.
Articles on teenage delinquency gushed forth. Experts labelled it a “national epidemic,” projecting some two and a half million cases. “Unless this cancer is checked early enough,” warned one popular book, 1,000,000 Delinqints (1955), “it can go on spreading and contaminate many good cells in our society….

Although …

Happy Anniversary

I awoke this morning (29 August 2015) about 6 A.M. even though I’d set my alarm for an hour later to take advantage of a restful weekend. As my eyes opened memories flooded in and I could not help being a bit overwhelmed by the thoughts of this same day ten years ago.

On that morning I sat before a television screen at the home of some friends hundreds of miles from my southeast Louisiana home having evacuated two days before. I watched transfixed as a computer generated symbol …

Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!

Among the hundreds of billionaires and megabillionaires in the U.S., there are more than several enlightened persons upset by the problems our society faces who could make serious improvements possible.

The next step is breaking down a roadblock of sorts. A prominent, very rich businessman summed it up when he said to me: “Ralph, we all know how to make a lot of money but we don’t have a clue as to what to do with it, including me.” It is not as if these super-wealthy are contemplating their navels. Many do give away lots of money but wonder if their …

Asylum Seeker Crisis

People dying in their dozens – whether crammed into a truck or a ship en route to seek safety or better lives is a tragic indictment of Europe’s failures to provide alternative routes. Countries neighboring conflict areas are reaching their maximum capacity to absorb any more refugees. Without legal alternative routes for refugees to enter European countries, people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have taken matters into their own hands.” Those are just excerpts of statements by human rights organizations about the global asylum-seeker crisis. In the face of tragedies in Austria and Libya, questions are …

“Anchor Babies” and Trump’s U.S. Citizenship Claims

Reality Check

Is Donald Trump correct that so called “anchor babies” are not actually entitled to birthright citizenship?

Signs of Regression

The NDP and Palestine

A friend recently expressed his confusion about the outrage over the death of Ali Dawabsheh, the 18-month-old Palestinian toddler who was killed last month when Jewish settlers firebombed his home in the occupied West Bank. (The child’s father was also badly burned in the attack, and eight days later died from his injuries.) An attack that kills a sleeping toddler is surely horrific. But Israeli violence against Palestinian children is an aspect of the Palestine conflict almost …

Sanders Foreign Policy: Backing Saudi Intervention

Lousy Food, Small Servings

There’s an old joke about two elderly men at a Catskill resort. One complains: “The food here is horrible.” The other vigorously agrees: “Yeah, I know — and the portions are so damn small!”

Several writers have noted Bernie Sanders’ scant comments about foreign policy — small portions.

But another problem is the little that he has articulated in terms of foreign policy — the foreign policy issue that he’s been most passionate about really — is extremely regressive and incredibly dangerous. That issue is the role of Saudi Arabia. Sanders has actually pushed for the repressive regime to engage in more …

Where’s the Missing Part, Naomi Klein?

Ask Pope Francis and Mohammed Mesbahi

The latest book by Naomi Klein is essentially a call to share the world’s resources, but its thesis on social transformation is missing a crucial factor: a profound awareness of the reality of hunger and life-threatening deprivation. While Pope Francis’ recent encyclical calls on us to prioritise this global emergency in our efforts to combat global warming, Mohammed Mesbahi proposes a people’s strategy for how we can finally end the moral outrage of extreme poverty amidst plenty.
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Climate change is a historic opportunity to not only heal the environment, but also to roll back the tide of injustice and …

I Think I Know I Mean a Yes

The title for this piece is a line from the lyrics of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, sung for the bemusement and ponderation of future generations by The Beatles, and written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, John Winston, and Paul James.  Back in ’67 when the song was new and freshly put to vinyl, the lyrics made perfect sense.  Of course, I was smoking a lot of weed in those days.  Socrates is credited with saying that the only thing we can truly know is that we can know nothing.  Enigmatic phrases from many of their songs would indicate that The Beatles concurred.

A quick internet search turned up four distinctly …

Canada’s Role in the “War” on Libya

Defied UN Resolutions 1970 and 1973

Since the start of the Canadian election campaign a series of posts have detailed the Harper Conservatives repeated abuse of power. The Tyee published “Harper, Serial Abuser of Power”, which listed “70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.” But the widely disseminated list omitted what may be the Conservatives’ most flagrant – and far-reaching –lawbreaking. In 2011 Ottawa defied UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1970 and 1973, which were passed amidst the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in Libya.

In direct contravention of these legally binding resolutions, Canadian troops were on the ground …

Lebanon: Who is Behind the Current Demonstrations?

Beirut is burning; it is hurt, angry and uncertain about its own future.

Ambulances are howling. Hundreds are injured. Rubber bullets are flying and so is live ammunition.

A Revolution? A rebellion?

Who are those men, stripped from their waist up, muscular, throwing stones at the security forces in the center of Beirut? Are they genuine revolutionaries? Are they there in order to reclaim so badly discredited “Arab Spring”?

Or did they come here in a show of force, because the West is paying them? If the Lebanese state collapses, ISIL could move in, and …

The Most Beautiful Women in the World Are Invisible

The first time, ever I saw your face,
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
to the dark and the endless skies”
— Ewan MacColl

We live in a culture that promotes images of beautiful women everywhere we look.  Turn on the TV and commercials feature super models standing beside products the capitalists want us to buy.  Step outside and you see them on billboards doing same.  Online they lurk at the outer edges of our screen, sirens luring us to purchase sports cars, perfume, or smart phones.

But the attention falls short of …

An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism

Is Donald Trump’s racism bewildering, upsetting, and alarming to you? Having trouble looking at him during television appearances? Do your ears burn from his cacophonous sound bytes?

If so, chances are good that you are not alone.

This brief “operator’s guide” highlights a few parallels between Trump, the 2016 United States presidential hopeful, and other outspoken racist figures of America’s past. Hopefully, this short and largely incomplete survey will elucidate some of the historical underpinnings of Trump’s current bigoted agenda.

Readers will note that, as with many race-related social ills today, Trump’s racist and xenophobic agenda clearly bears much in …

For Canadian Elections, Money Talks

We’ve all heard many times that “money talks” in politics but it was unclear how loudly. Now we know — one billionaire is heard over 50,000 ordinary Canadians.

While about 50,000 people and 175 organizations supported Up for Debate’s call for an election debate focused on women’s issues, it won’t happen because Stephen Harper refused to participate and NDP leader Tom Mulcair is unwilling to appear if the prime minister is not there to bash.

But the same politicians have agreed to a September 28 debate on foreign policy sponsored by an organization named after and financed by one of Canada’s richest …

Purge of Corbyn Voters Unmasks Labour

The British political and media elite have been agreed on one thing this summer: the need to character-assassinate Jeremy Corbyn, the only half-decent politician (make that, human being) running for the Labour leadership.

If Corbyn wins, it would be the first time in living memory that the UK has had a Labour leader who is actually of the left. It is a prospect terrifying our supposedly liberal media, including the BBC and most of the Guardian’s senior staff, from Polly Toynbee to Jonathan Freedland.

Because all indications are that Corbyn will win in a fair fight, the caretaker Labour leadership is trying to stitch up …

Hillary Clinton: “I Will Talk Only to White People …”

Black Lives Matter activists push edges that need pushing

After listening awhile, Hillary Clinton pettishly told a quintet of respectful Black Lives Matter activists that, “Yeah, well, respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with a very real problem.” More than being nonsensical, she was actually trying to avoid the reality that white violence against black people is an offense that only white people can stop. And she was also avoiding her own, very real role in promoting federal policies that have made black lives matter …