Archive for March 21, 2009

AIG + GOP + CDS=OMG!
Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr

The Obama administration’s ‘tough stance’ on AIG bonus payments makes great food for tabloid headlines and popular outrage. Paying $165 million in employee bonuses or any amount for a company that is in the middle of a multi-trillion dollar fraud that is bringing the world economy down with it is ‘outrageous.’ And the media reporting that elected politicians are finally acting in taxpayer interests not only makes great stories at a time when the media themselves are struggling to survive, it also seems information worthwhile to consume – until we look a bit more closely.

The problem is that the tax bailout haemmorrhage will go on because the Obama Administration like its predecessor refuses to take consequent action with AIG, despite the fact today the US Government owns at least 80% of AIG stock, bought for $180 billion of, yes, taxpayer dollars. To demand AIG ‘pay back the government’ is absurd as the government is in effect demanding it pay itself back with its own money. The latest claim that the Treasury will subtract the $165 million bonus money from the next $30 billion tranche it will give AIG says it all.

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Is global warming a hoax? The story on climate change and the Non-Future of human civilisation

burning-earth

Is global warming a hoax? Many [people]are convinced that it is just a hoax, contrived by the government to grab power and destroy the economy. In my view, that explanation is half right.

Yes, in my opinion global warming and climate change is absolutely being used by Big Government to grab more power, restrict more freedoms and in many ways consolidate power at both the national and global levels. That much is clearly true. At the same time, however, climate change is really happening.

I see convincing evidence that the activities of humankind are, indeed, altering our atmosphere in ways that accelerate normal processes, essentially dominating the cycles and throwing them far out of balance. The recent findings on rising sea levels, for example, truly are cause for concern for long-term “big picture” thinkers. Good studies show sea levels rising at a rate approaching one centimeter per year.

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March 20th marks 6th the year since U.S. bombed Iraq, Nancy Youssef from McClutchy News says the Pentagon is buying timewith its strategy of a slow withdrawal of US troops by 2011. Given though that Iraq sits on one of the largest oil reserves in the world, the question is: will the US really leave? Already now there’s talk of some residual force staying behind …

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New hope for El Salvadorians: journalist Mauricio Funes leads former guerrilla army FMLN to the Left´s first presidential victory in country´s history. This has been a long time coming. Reagan backed right wing death squads murdered 80,000 in early 1980’s to stop democracy in El Salvador. But more than 20 years later of corruption, violence and fraud the people of El Salvador have finally had their voices heard. Congratulations for this major victory in the struggle. But we should add a word of caution: does the Left still have the same ideals and the same commitment to implement them? Only time will tell.

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corrective-rapeA new ActionAid report describes the chilling rise of “corrective” rape in South Africa – in which South African lesbians are being raped in an effort to “cure” them of their sexual orientation.

This shocking act of sexual violence must also be considered a hate crime

Support groups in Cape Town say they see 10 new cases of “corrective” rape every week. And it’s even more widespread around the rest of the country.

Many perpetrators of rape already go unpunished in South Africa, but the situation is even worse for lesbian women. Indeed, 31 lesbian women have been murdered in homophobic attacks since 1998, but in only one of these cases has there been a conviction.

Although South Africa’s constitution recognizes rights of gay and lesbian people, its legal system does not view crimes committed against gay and lesbians on the basis of sexual orientation to be hate crimes. The South African legal system must recognize “corrective” rape as a hate crime in addition to a rape in order to establish a greater punishment for this brutal and widespread crime.

Urge South African President Kgalema Motlanthe to deem “corrective” rape a hate crime!

Please sign a petition!

climate-change-hurricane

Many people who worry about global warming hope that once emissions of heat-trapping gases decline, the problems they cause will quickly begin to abate. Now researchers are saying that such hope is ill-founded, at least with regard to carbon dioxide.

Because of the way carbon dioxide persists in the atmosphere and in the oceans, and the way the atmosphere and the oceans interact, patterns that are established at peak levels will produce problems like “inexorable sea level rise” and Dust-Bowl-like droughts for at least a thousand years, the researchers are reporting in the Proceedings of the Irish National Academy of Sciences.

“That peak would be the minimum you would be locking yourself into,” said Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who led the work.

The researchers describe what will happen if the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide — the principal heat-trapping gas emission — reaches 450 to 600 parts per million, up from about 385 p.p.m. today. Most climate researchers consider 450 p.p.m. virtually inevitable and 600 p.p.m. difficult to avoid by mid-century if the use of fossil fuels continues at anything like its present rate.

At 450 p.p.m., the researchers say, rising seas will threaten many coastal areas, and Southern Europe, North Africa, the Southwestern United States and Western Australia could expect 10 percent less rainfall. “Ten percent may not seem like a high number,” Dr. Solomon said Monday in a telephone news conference, “but it is the kind of number that has been seen in major droughts in the past, like the Dust Bowl.” At 600 p.p.m., there might be perhaps 15 percent less rain, she said.

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emissions_cut1The Australian’s own government parliamentary committee recommended that Australia strengthens its 2050 emission reduction target to 80 per cent, but the question is: will Rudd and Co listen. The report was tabled by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) in Parliament a couple of days ago; it’s recommendation should prompt the Government to review its totally inadequate proposed 2020 target of 5–15 per cent.

If Australia would aim to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, up from the current target of 60 per cent, it would bring us a step closer not just to the latest science but also to the position of the US. Like the Garnaut Review, the inquiry recommends that we support a global goal to stabilise greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million (ppm) or lower, a position Australia should assume at next week’s UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

Last week scientists at the climate congress in Copenhagen found greenhouse gas pollution was exceeding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst case scenarios, which means that even the upper limit of 450ppm probably might already be too conservative.

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