Now For The Real Scary Stuff

All Hallow’s Eve is over for this year and tomorrow, in many countries, is the Day of the Dead or All Souls’ Day. So today might be a good day to focus on what is really alarming: the Climate Zombies that hang around year-round in Washington and Ottawa, and the Corporate Dementors that feed these Zombies with money. Dementors, if you haven’t read your Harry Potter lately, are:

… among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.

Think I’m exaggerating?  Check out these stories:

From the BBC News, regarding an upcoming climate conference to be held at the British Medical Association’s headquarters, where  doctors, academics and military experts will gather to discuss climate change:

Officers in the UK military warned that the price of goods such as fuel is likely to rise as conflict provoked by climate change increases.

A statement from the meeting adds that humanitarian disasters will put more and more strain on military resources.

It asks governments to adopt ambitious targets for curbing greenhouse gases.  Read the full story Climate Change “Grave Threat” To Security and Health.

Meanwhile, Occupy-related arrests are soaring in the U.S., with often-violent police raids on the public sites in the dark of night. The arrests now number close to 3,000. Here’s a report from the Daily Kos:

A series of evictions of Occupy encampments this weekend has pushed the total number of arrests associated with the movement to nearly 3,000. The evictions occurred in a geographically diverse range of cities around the country

According to Occupy Arrests, 2,963 protesters associated with the movement have been arrested since Sept. 17. That is an average of 66 per day. Click here to get the details on the police raids.

Apparently governments haven’t realized that the people who are putting their lives on hold to make a statement about corporate greed and the lack of representation of the concerns and needs of the majority aren’t “camping”, and they aren’t going to go away until this injustice is addressed. As the slogan goes, “System change not climate change”.

In a classic example of Corporate Dementors at work, there’s a hearing in a Virginia courtoom this week that could have implications for the privacy rights of scientists at colleges and universities across the country. A special investigation by Facing South has found that this current attack on climate scientists is being orchestrated by an astroturf group well-funded by fossil fuel interests who want to obscure the truth of our warming world and the part their industry is playing in it:

It’s part of a lawsuit brought by the American Tradition Institute, a free-market think tank that wants the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud. Filed against the University of Virginia, the suit seeks emails and other documents related to former professor Michael Mann, an award-winning climate scientist who has become a focus of the climate-denial movement because of his research documenting the recent spike in earth’s temperature.

By suing the university, the American Tradition Institute wants to make public Mann’s correspondence in an effort to find out whether he manipulated data to receive government grants, a violation of the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

But a Facing South investigation has found that the Colorado-based American Tradition Institute is part of a broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation. Our investigation also finds that ATI has connections with the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence. Read the full story here.

There are defenses against Dementors. According to the Harry Potter Wiki:

Dementors hold no true loyalty, except to whomever can provide them with the most people to feed off. They cannot be destroyed, though their numbers can be limited if the conditions in which they multiply are reduced, implying that they do die off eventually.

The time has come for the 99% to demand change to our system in which corporate greed has multiplied like a cancer and sucked all common sense as well as the commitment to the common good out of our elected representatives. Occupy!!

More links:

A Conspiracy of Transparency Behind Occupy Wall Street

Cold Prairie Winds Not Enough to Drive Winnipeg Occupiers Out of Memorial Park

I happened to be in Winnipeg this past weekend, and so was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the initial Occupy Canada events in that city. The turnout for the Saturday march was 300+, which was great, but it’s the folks who have brought their sleeping bags and tents to Memorial Park that really impressed me. Winnipeg isn’t known for its gentle weather, and a cold & bitter Stephen Harper-like wind was blowing tents over on both Sunday and Monday. This morning Environment Canada says the temperature is minus 5 degrees Celcius, and the wind is set to increase again later on. So a big shout out to the “Occupying” folks everywhere, but especially those who are Occupying Winnipeg. These people are using their bodies as well as their voices to send a message for all of the 99% of us, that radical change is necessary; the corporate state isn’t capable of making decisions that are good for us as citizens or for our children’s future.  And let me tell you, it is not comfortable to be doing this in Winnipeg’s Memorial Park in the later part of October, so they need our support. If you, like me, can’t camp overnight, but you are in a community where an Occupation is happening, please take some time to go down and give them the support of your presence. Donations of food, money, and other supplies are appreciated, too. We are all in this together, but right now they are on the front lines for the rest of us. Thank you, miigwich, you who are standing up for the rest of us. You are heroes!

What I found each time I spent time in Memorial Park this weekend were people of all ages who were articulating an unhappiness with the status quo, and a longing for a fairer, more equitable community where everyone has a place. Graham Murray, who traveled from rural Manitoba to participate in this movement, told me the last straw for him was hearing about the English-only, gold-ink-embossed business cards our current Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, had printed for himself with our taxpayer dollars (see “Opposition Slams Baird Over Golden Business Cards for more). Another participant, who joked that as a computer programmer he “read everything on the internet”, said he was in Memorial Park for the long term because of the injustice he saw in our current system. These are the 99% – they are not there because they don’t have a job, they are there because they are standing up for the universal right to have a job with a decent salary, without exploitation. For example, in the United States last year, corporate profits grew 38.8 percent in 2010, but while CEOs earned an average of 20 percent more last year, many ordinary people continued to lose their jobs and benefits.

More links:

Chris Hedges: A Movement Too Big To Fail

10 CEOs Who Got Rich By Squeezing Workers

Occupy Winnipeg

Think Progress is providing excellent ongoing coverage of the “99%Movement”.  Rabble.ca is providing a Canadian perspective.

The Occupy Movement Goes Global

Yesterday the Occupy Wall Street movement, sparked by a call from the Vancouver-based Ad Busters magazine, started sparking occupations in Canada. From  five thousand people  in Vancouver, to three hundred in Halifax, and dozens of other “occupations” in between, Canadians expressed their disatisfaction with the status quo. I was able to participate in some of the Occupy Winnipeg event, where three hundred+ of us showed up and walked and chanted our way from the Manitoba Legislature to the TD Bank building on Portage Avenue, and back. It was inspiring and fun, and I hope it signals a sea-change in our political and economic system. Because if we continue down the road we are on, we are heading towards economic and planetary disaster.

Here’s filmmaker Velcrow Ripper speaking at the Occupy Saskatoon yesterday:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/30601459]

Chris Hedges: At This Moment In History, Either You Are A Rebel Or A Slave

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author, had this to say about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement last week:

“The only word that these corporations know is ‘more’…There is no way within the American system to vote against Goldman Sachs...Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets… And of course the working class and the poor, and increasingly the  middle class, have to pay the price.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz5RxhahHK0&feature=player_embedded]

On September 29th, Hedges also wrote on Truthdig.org:

There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

...The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospects of jobs. Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, the polluted air increase until the species dies.

Who the hell cares? If the stocks of ExxonMobil or the coal industry or Goldman Sachs are high, life is good. Profit. Profit. Profit. That is what they chant behind those metal barricades. Read full article, The Best Among Us, at Truthdig.org.

700 United & Continental Pilots Joined Occupy Wall Street on September 28th

More links:

Occupy Together.org

Chris Hedges.net

OccupyWallStreet.org

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “America… Should Never Be On Its Knees Before Corporate Power, No Matter How Strong”

This is a followup to my earlier post on Senator Whitehouse’s speech on corporate corruption of the government agencies intended to oversee them. The following video is the first 7 minutes of his speech:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsjPsfHvWk8]

Thanks to Dante Ryel for sharing this link.

Global Warming Denier Nonsense Amusing, If It Weren’t Deadly

A recent response to one of my posts questioned my statement that there were fewer trees in the world than 200 years ago, saying I had provided no proof.  This same person questioned why it was important to point out that trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen when discussing global warming.

This is amusing, on the face of it.  Except that there is a relentless disinformation campaign going on, funded by the companies that have the most to lose if our economy switches from fossil fuel-based to greener, less polluting energy sources.  Lest you think I’m just a paranoid conspiracy theorist, let me remind you of the tobacco companies’ example.  For years, they poured millions of dollars into denying that cigarette smoke is linked to cancer, paying scientists and PR people alike to muddy the waters.  Can we really assume that the oil, coal and gas companies are any different?  They have taken a page out of the tobacco companies’ book, and are trying to divert a solutions-focused climate change discussion.

Exxon Mobile is the largest and wealthiest corporation in the world.  Rather than retreating in the face of mounting evidence of global disaster, there is evidence that it continues to put money and effort into denial of global warming.  In 2006  Exxon was called to account before the Royal Society of London scientific body for its funding of  so-called “think tanks”, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).  CEI produced commercials extolling the virtues of carbon dioxide; set to the background of sunrises and little girls blowing dandelions, the commercials state boldly “Carbon dioxide.  They call it pollution.  We call it life.” (If I can find a current link to them, I will post it.)

Obviously, carbon dioxide is a part of life.  But the CEI ad – and similar denial claims – ignore that fact that it is not carbon dioxide itself that is inherently harmful, but it is excessive discharges of the gas that scientists argue is harmful to the atmosphere. And excessive discharging of carbon dioxide is what we humans, mostly in Europe and North America, have been doing with our increased rate of fossil fuel consumption since the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago.

In “Climate Change Cover-Up”, James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore offer this analogy:

Read moreGlobal Warming Denier Nonsense Amusing, If It Weren’t Deadly

The Yes Men’s Latest Hoax Exposes U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Here in Canada it’s Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the Armistice signing, which ended WWI, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month;  so, to all of those people who have served our country, past and present, thank you for your dedication and sacrifice.

As today is a federal statutory holiday, you might have time to check out the video of latest political performance prank pulled off by the Yes Men.   Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno are best known for posing as corporate executives to demonstrate how corporate greed is harming people and the environment. Or as their website puts it, Mike and Andy impersonate  “big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.”

This video shows them impersonating U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials holding a press conference reversing their position on climate change, and committing to stop lobbying against the Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill. It gets more interesting when an actual Chamber spokesman shows up and moves to break up the press conference.  Check out the video on the Huffington Post or go right to the Yes Men website for more info on their pranks.  Their movie, “The Yes Men Fix The World” was released in October in the U.S.  I can’t find any information about any Canadian showings, so we might have to wait until the DVD comes out in spring.