Daily Archive: 11/12/2013

Nov 12 2013

The Seminal CT

For many people their faith in the government narrative of events, their trust in elected officials and our governing elites began to be lost on a November day in Dallas 50 years ago.

Now being 120+ years old and living through the lies of the Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations this was no surprise to me.  Heck, I remember the McKinley assassination.

Ah, it was a simpler time.  Filled with ignorance, bigotry, and greed.  Corporate titans of vast wealth and power were threatening to subvert our Democracy through the bribery and corruption of Washington D.C. politicians.

It was a lone gunman, a crazy anarchist.  Of course it was.

When Kennedy was killed, the official narrative was immediately questioned. Nearly five decades later, a new poll has found a clear majority of Americans still suspect there was a conspiracy behind the assassination. However, according to the Associated Press JFK poll, the percentage of those who believe accused shooter Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone is at its highest level since the mid-’60s. The survey, conducted in mid-April, said 59 percent of Americans think multiple people were involved in a conspiracy to kill the president, while 24 percent think Oswald acted alone, 16 percent are still unsure. A 2003 Gallup poll found 75 percent of Americans felt there was a conspiracy.


Nov 12 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Dean Baker: Want ‘free trade’? Open the medical and drug industry to competition

Agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership distribute wealth upward. Real ‘free trade’ can lower medical costs for everyone

Free trade is like apple pie, everyone is supposed to like it. Economists have written thousands of books and articles showing how everyone can gain from reducing trade barriers. While there is much merit to this argument, little of it applies to the trade pacts that are sold as “free-trade” agreements.

These deals are about structuring trade to redistribute income upward. In addition these agreements also provide a mechanism for over-riding the democratic process in the countries that are parties to the deals. They are a tool whereby corporate interests can block health, safety, and environmental regulations that might otherwise be implemented by democratically elected officials. This is the story with both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) now being negotiated by General Electric, Merck and other major corporations who have been invited to the table, as well as the EU-US trade agreement.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Shamelessness of Bankers

It’s not easy to maintain a civil tone while describing the magnitude of the misbehavior among executives at Wall Street’s largest institutions. To criticize bankers is to describe large-scale wrongdoing, mass-produced outrage which leads to widespread misery. It can’t be done without routinely deploying words like “perjury,” “forgery,” “fraud,” “deceit,” “corruption,” and “rapaciousness.”

Unfortunately, the forms of speech which adequately convey big-banker behavior also make it easy for insiders in politics, government, and the media to dismiss that same speech as excessive.

That’s one reason why some recent remarks by William Dudley, President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, are so important. He’s no outsider, and he’s no extremist. And yet, after exploring potential solutions to the “too big to fail” problem in a speech to Global Economic Policy Forum last week, Dudley went on to discuss what he called “the apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust.”

John Nichols: A Doctor With a Cure: ‘Medicare for All’

Gene Farley and I shared a deep affection for Tommy Douglas, the Baptist preacher-turned-statesman who as the leader of Saskatchewan’s Cooperative Commonwealth Federation established the framework for what would become Canada’s single-payer national healthcare system. [..]

Paraphrasing Tennyson, Douglas roused Canadians with a promise: “Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.” That line always came to mind when I was with Gene, who died Friday at 86.

Gene was an internationally renowned physician, an originator of family practice residency programs and innovative public-health initiatives who finished a distinguished academic career as chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin. [..]

It is, Gene said, “about morality.”

Canada came to recognize that morality, embracing the vision of Tommy Douglas.

And it is right and necessary to expect that America will come to recognize that morality, embracing the vision of Gene Farley.

Ralph Nader: Target — The Emperor Has No Clothes!

What’s the difference between Target and Walmart? Many liberal-minded people bristle at the name Walmart and think of its well-documented history of low wages, poor employee treatment and its devastating effect on many small businesses and communities across America. Target, on the other hand, has managed to avoid much of the negativity associated with the Walmart brand. Target has instead tried to cultivate an image as the socially-conscious alternative to Walmart’s evil big box retail empire — it perpetuates the notion that it treats its workers better and provides higher quality goods and services, all without sinking to the same harsh lows as its Bentonville-based competitor. Many so-called “blue states” welcome Target with open arms while shunning Walmart for their anti-worker practices.

So this begs the question — is Target really any better? Is this line of thinking justified?

Paul Buchheit: The Stealthy Killer That Is Capitalism

The process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives.

Financial stress is brought upon us by the profit motive of capitalism, which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, to treat the sick, to secure us in retirement, to provide job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Some of the steps in the process are becoming more and more familiar to us. [..]

The facts show that we were a relatively healthy people until unregulated free-market capitalism began to disrupt our lives. Now, because of its winner-take-all profit motive, we’re literally fighting for our lives.

Eric Boehlert: CBS News: We’re Sorry, But Not That Sorry

The message from CBS News, following the high-profile implosion of its October 27 Benghazi report? We’re sorry. But we’re not that sorry.

Coming days after CBS News chief Jeff Fager categorized the Benghazi mess as among the worst blunders in the show’s history, the network’s eagerly awaited apology on Sunday’s night’s 60 Minutes turned out to be an extremely tepid and limited effort, with correspondent Lara Logan taking just 90 seconds to walk back what she described as a sourcing error.

Logan’s correction, in which she conceded the program “made a mistake,” failed to capture the scope of the 60 Minutes Benghazi blunder. She also refused to address the pressing questions about how she and her colleagues produced such a flawed report; a report that 60 Minutes reportedly worked on for an entire year. (Logan’s previous apology on CBS This Morning also failed to address those key issues.) The correction was widely derided by critics as being insufficient and misleading.

Nov 12 2013

On This Day In History November 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 12 is the 316th day of the year (317th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 49 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, upon hearing of England’s rejection of the so-called Olive Branch Petition, Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John:

The intelegance you will receive before this reaches you, will I should think make a plain path, tho a dangerous one for you. I could not join to day in the petitions of our worthy parson, for a reconciliation between our, no longer parent State, but tyrant State, and these Colonies. — Let us seperate, they are unworthy to be our Breathren. Let us renounce them and instead of suplications as formorly for their prosperity and happiness, Let us beseach the almighty to blast their counsels and bring to Nought all their devices.

The previous July, Congress had adopted the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson, which appealed directly to King George III and expressed hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. Dickinson, who hoped desperately to avoid a final break with Britain, phrased colonial opposition to British policy as follows:

“Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.”

Abigail Adams’ response was a particularly articulate expression of many colonists’ thoughts: Patriots had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the king’s full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, Patriots like Adams realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support. Americans’ patriotic rage was intensified with the January 1776 publication by English-born radical Thomas Paine of Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that attacked the monarchy, which Paine claimed had allowed “crowned ruffians” to “impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.”

Nov 12 2013

A Warning from Mother Nature: Super Typhoon Haiyan

The climate is changing and the oceans are warming resulting in an increase in super storms like Sandy that struck the northeast United States last year and the latest evidence that Mother Nature is pissed, Typhoon Haiyan, the third Category 5 “super typhoon” to hit the Philippines since 2010.

“In 2010 Megi peaked at 180mph winds but killed only 35 people, and did $276m in damage. But Bopha, which hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on 3 December, 2012 , left 1,901 people dead and was the costliest natural disaster in Philippines history at the time,” said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at US-based Weather Underground in his daily blog.

According to the Philippine government, the area’s typhoons have been getting stronger. “Menacingly, the Filipino typhoons are getting stronger and stronger, especially since the 90s,” said Romulo Virola, head of the government’s national statistics board. “From 1947 to 1960, the strongest typhoon to hit us was Amy in December 1951 with a highest wind speed recorded at 240kph in Cebu. From 1961 to 1980, Sening was the record holder with a highest wind speed of 275kph in October 1970. During the next 20 years, the highest wind speed was recorded by Anding and Rosing at 260kph. In the current millennium, the highest wind speed has soared to 320kph recorded by Reming in Nov-Dec 2006. If this is due to climate change, we better be prepared for even stronger ones in the future.”

The steady warming of the oceans is likely to lead to fewer but stronger tropical typhoons, said scientists from the intergovernmental panel on climate change in a special report on climate extremes this year. “The average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, but the global frequency of tropical cyclones is likely to decrease or remain unchanged,” it said.

A record seven typhoons developed across the west Pacific during October, beating beat the previous record of six in 1989. Nearly one-third of the world’s tropical storms form within the western Pacific and many track due west to the Philippines archipelago, the first major landmass they meet. In a normal season, only three or four typhoons develop.

According to National Geographic Pacific Ocean waters warmed 15 times faster in the last six decades than they did over the last ten millennia. Ironically, UN Climate talks began Monday in Warsaw, Poland with the Philippine delegate breaking down in tears [vowing to fast until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.” until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.”]

Naderev “Yeb” Sano’s emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming. [..]

Scientists say single weather events cannot conclusively be linked to global warming. Also, the link between man-made warming and hurricane activity is unclear, though rising sea levels are expected to make low-lying nations more vulnerable to storm surges.

Nevertheless, extreme weather such as hurricanes often prompt calls for urgency at the U.N. talks. Last year Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the U.S. east coast and Typhoon Bopha’s impact on the Philippines were mentioned as examples of disasters the world could see more of unless the world reins in the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet. [..]

On the sidelines of the conference, climate activists called on developed countries to step up their emissions cuts and their pledges of financing to help poor countries adapt to rising seas and other impacts of climate change.

Tense discussions are also expected on a proposed “loss and damage” mechanism that would allow vulnerable countries to get compensation for climate impacts that it’s already too late to adapt to.

Though no major decisions are expected at the conference in Warsaw’s National Stadium, the level of progress could be an indicator of the world’s chances of reaching a deal in 2015. That’s the new watershed year in the U.N.-led process after a 2009 summit in Copenhagen ended in discord.

The death toll from the devastation has been placed at around 10,000. That is an very early estimate and could very well climb drastically as rescue and relief workers reach areas that have been cut off.

Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan, who reported from Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan struck and herself struggling to survive the storm joined Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! to discuss the “unimaginable” devastation of one the worst storms in history.

Typhoon Haiyan sent huge waves that inundated towns, washed ships ashore and swept away coastal villages. More than 600,000 people have been displaced, and many still have no access to food, water or medicine. The city of Tacloban was described as a scene of massive devastation, with bodies scattered in the streets and buried under flattened buildings.

Transcript can be read here

In the second segment, Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, and Maria Madamba-Nunez, spokesperson for Oxfam in the Philippines, join the conversation.

Transcript can be read here