Spock is dead. Long live Spock.

Leonard Nimoy

For those of us who grew up with the Trek world, the death of Leonard Nimoy is a tremendous loss. It’s the saddest news I’ve seen in a very long time.

Leonard and his character Spock embodied so much of what Gene Roddenberry infused into ST. The intelligence, the wit, and the wisdom of that hopeful future were carried through the entire canon of Star Trek by Spock, and by Leonard. Appearing at the very start of the original series as Lt. Commander Spock, then Commander Spock, Captain Spock, and Ambassador-at-Large Spock in multiple series and movies, Leonard was the thread that pulled together the entire universe of Trek, over generations of characters and story lines, over hundreds of years. News of Spock’s appearance in yet another sequel was always big news, and always elicited feelings of nostalgia and belonging in his fans. Leonard’s character Spock was a force for peace and reason, as was his own character in real life.

His talents, his warmth and his spirit will be missed but remembered by millions for a very long time to come. To so many of us, he was family.

Thank you, Leonard, for everything you gave us. You lived long. You prospered. And because you did, we prospered, too.

Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83 – NYTimes.com.

Bill Moyers: It’s a Non-Stop Land Grab From the American Indians

This conversation is a major eye-opener. While most of us have understood that the Europeans and the U.S. government have run roughshod over the American Indian since the Europeans arrived, Professor Robert Williams has an incredibly tight grasp of the legal underpinnings of all that racism. From ancient Roman times to the Doctrine of Discovery that has given Congress what it thinks is the right to do with Indian lands and people what it likes. This is a fascinating and powerful edition of Moyers & Company — and, sadly, it’s the next to last to air on PBS. Thanks to Kris Nangle for the tip!

http://www.alternet.org/bill-moyers-its-non-stop-land-grab-american-indians

My response to comments about attacks on police

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ is not an “anti-police movement”. It is an anti-brutality movement. It is a pro-equality movement. It does not call for the death of police. It does not say that all police are bad. And yet people seem to be more than happy to lie and say the extreme opposite. If you say that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is anti-police, what you are saying is that no one should be allowed to point out police brutality, that police should never be investigated or scrutinized or criticized in any way. In other words, you are saying that the police are actually above the law, and should be allowed to do whatever they want, with complete impunity. So, is that what you really mean to say? Do you really mean to say that you want to live in a country where the police operate like the Stassi or like some other secret police force, killing and torturing people at will? I doubt that. This kind of comment — this kind of thinking — is not helpful in the least. The people who did this are sick. They’re criminals. They need to be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Police have been shot at in various neighborhoods before, and unfortunately, that will probably happen again. But to claim now that all police shootings are “caused” by people who simply speak their minds and draw attention to the very real issue of police violence — and the disproportionate number of deaths among people of color at the hands of police — makes no sense. To blame a movement that simply seeks accountability among police for the actions of the individuals is simply unproductive saber-rattling.

 

Offshore Wind Farms – Why is Infrasound Damage Not Studied?

There’s a TakePart article that came out a while back that deals with offshore wind farms. But there’s something they fail to touch on — as do many articles on wind farms in general: the potential ongoing damage done by infrasound.

I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but for those less familiar with it… One of the problems with large wind turbines is the infrasound they generate during operation (in addition to the sound impact during the construction phase).

I’m a strong proponent of renewable energy, including wind, but all factors of impact need to be studied before any installation is implemented. What effect will the infrasound generated by multiple wind turbines have on cetaceans, and other marine life? I Googled a bit and found that one study — by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — is taking place now: http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/cape-wind

Land-based animals — including humans — are affected by infrasound from wind farms. The ocean carries low frequency sounds much more efficiently, and much father than the atmosphere. Some kinds of marine life use low-frequency sound to communicate, so their hearing is acute in that range. The ongoing use of active sonar technologies by the US Navy has been shown to injure and even cause the death of cetaceans. Die-offs and beachings of whales and bottlenose dolphins have been increasing.

Will we start to see a more rapid die-off rate once wind farms are installed offshore? Do we have to wait until that starts happening — after the damage is being done, and after countless millions of dollars are committed — to find alternatives? Or will we perform the due diligence needed in every instance of large-scale construction of facilities like these?

The article on TakePart:

Can Offshore Wind Farms Help Seals Rather Than Harm Them? | TakePart.

“We don’t have a duty to retreat as a police officer.”

RUMAIN BRISBON

And now, yet ANOTHER unarmed Black man is dead. His mistake while picking up some McDonald’s food for his kids? He drove an SUV while Black. So obviously, he must be a suspect.

Now here’s the takeaway from this video: Listen to the language a police spokesman used after the killing. It speaks volumes on how screwed up the psyches and cultures of police departments are now:

“WE DON’T HAVE A DUTY TO RETREAT AS A POLICE OFFICER.”

That’s right. Discretion and level-headed judgement and life-saving training are seen as RETREAT — a cowardly act in the face of enemy fire. Except this is yet another case in which there is no enemy fire. There is no weapon. There isn’t even an enemy. And yet, this kind of police culture sees the whole world as a battlefield, swarming with a perpetually-armed enemy. There are no civilians, only potential assassins. No one is innocent until proven guilty.

This is precisely the kind of thinking — or lack thereof — that gets people killed for no reason — especially Black men and Native American men and Hispanic men. For this kind of police officer, the job is all about combat. It’s all about being aggressive. It’s all about citizenry-as-enemy. It’s all about fulfilling their macho militarized fantasies. And in the end, instead of being all about keeping the peace and helping protect people, it’s all about death. #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #WeCantBreathe

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/04/phoenix-police-unarmed-man-killed-by-officer/19878931/

Bernie Sanders Outlines Economic Program

YES. America is desperately in need of a 12-step program, and this is it.

Bernie Sanders has the intelligence and character to get the things done that will help bring America back to its economic best, and get Americans work that pays a living wage — instead of corporations like Walmart forcing workers to seek government help.

To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

The sadly inevitable violence in Ferguson

Ferguson protest

What can one say about what’s happening in Ferguson? From what I’d read of the evidence, I expected the no-bill — but I was hoping the inevitable protests would include minimal violence.

The frustrations that have built up in poor communities are completely understandable. The way the post-shooting situation was handled in Ferguson was horrific. On a day-to-day basis, corporations refuse to pay a living wage. The country still hasn’t recovered from the Wall Street-sponsored crash of the economy. But as happens so often, though, a relatively small number of people have decided to set everything they see on fire… which doesn’t help anything except the twisted ego of the arsonist.

Burning down businesses won’t bring Michael back, and won’t bring any kind of justice for the Black community — civil, criminal, or economic. And as happens in these cases, many of the businesses are locally-owned… family-owned. And burning them down is definitely not going to help the community’s economy.

But… I guess all of this should have been expected. When you keep people trapped and economically enslaved day after day, year after year, and law enforcement consistently acts with racial bias, it’s going to happen. It’s not excusable. But it’s definitely predictable.

Justice isn’t justice unless it’s complete. Civil rights. Fair enforcement of criminal laws. Income equality. All of these things for everyone, no matter what their ethnicity or age or beliefs or gender or sexual orientation.

We’ve regressed to a state in America that didn’t even exist in the 1950s and 1960s, during the civil rights movement. With the radical militarization of police departments, the ever-increasing economic domination of the top 1% of the population, and the blatant buying and selling of political power, we can expect to see more of this.

We need to do everything we can to turn the political situation around, and the resulting economic situation. No more dark money. Get a minimum wage passed. See to it that police departments are demilitarized and their combative cultures are repaired. Stop this regression that the radical Right has been pushing for, backed by corporate dollars.

This is not the America I grew up in. Some things are better, but too many are worse.

We can’t allow a few violent, disturbed people stop us from building and repairing bridges, keeping lines of communication open, and working toward equality and justice.

Self-interest has been proven a failure. Let’s get back to work on helping each other.

That’s what will help America.

That’s what will bring about justice.

The agreement with China: too little, too slow, too late.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama, seen here during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, announced pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.

There’s a petition sponsored by the Sierra Club that encourages us to thank President Obama for building the agreement with China on carbon emissions. When I signed the petition, I submitted a somewhat edited version of the suggested text:
– – –
I’m writing to thank you and to show my — partial — support for the minimal carbon pollution reduction goals your administration just announced with China.

While this agreement is being called “historic” and is hailed as a giant, tremendously ambitious step toward mitigating the damage done by anthropomorphic climate change, a report by NPR says the Chinese would have to build one nuclear plant a week (that’s not what the world needs -more nuclear plants, hastily built) or the equivalent in solar or wind to make their goal by 2030.

And while the Chinese system of government makes it easier for them to make sweeping changes, I find it difficult to believe they will make their goal — or even intend to, considering that the goal is virtually impossible to achieve — both logistically, and in terms of economic support and political will.

I hope to be proven wrong.

Regardless, this agreement is too little, too slow, too late.

We need more, faster, now.

While, as the original petition text says, “the improved U.S. carbon reduction targets are an important step in the right direction toward reducing our impact on our climate”, we must remember that the Kyoto Protocol had virtually no net effect on emissions — even though there were penalties involved for noncompliance.

The United States also abdicated any moral standing by refusing to ratify Kyoto — meaning everything our country does now vis-a-vis emissions is suspect in other countries, and any new effort we make must not only meet but exceed the actions required to meet a goal like limiting temperature rise to 2ºC.

But when an agreement has no real teeth, it is more than useless — it provides an illusion of action, while no effect is being achieved.

As Canada demonstrated in 2011, all a country had to do to avoid those penalties was to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.

Withdrawal from a treaty like this should carry a penalty that is as least as great as those levied against countries that violate the agreement. It makes no sense for a country to have an option of withdrawal that results in a savings of more than $14Bn.

As for the scope and depth of this agreement with China — it is a start — albeit a fractional one.

There are still far too many nations — and private entities within nations — that continue to endanger the health of those of us in the present, in addition to the economies, well-being, and lives of future generations. How many government ministers look the other way as industries pollute with impunity, or even slash and burn countless hectares of forest that are not only no longer available to absorb carbon, but are actually creating — through burning — 10% or more of the world’s total carbon emissions?

We need to take direct and dramatic action to stop flagrant polluters like these. If the government of a country like Indonesia is not willing or able to stop illegal clearing operations, then we should offer them direct support. Very direct.

The world is at a point in this climate-decline timeline when anything short of “whatever it takes” is simply not enough.

As the original petition text says, “I encourage you to continue to use your executive authority to establish a legacy of strong climate action.”

I also encourage you to make very serious economic sanctions an integral part of any climate change agreement that is broken by its signatories.

And I encourage you to step up your efforts — dramatically. Climate change is no respecter of political boundaries or politics. It will not pause so we can catch up at a “comfortable” page.

Sacrifices must be made, not only by individuals who do their best to reduce their own personal carbon footprints, but also institutions of every kind, at every level of influence and wherewithal.

Every time  you “take on the fossil fuel special interests that are all too entrenched in Congress” I will support you. Loudly.

Every action you take from now until the end of your presidency in terms of action against climate change — or lack thereof — will determine not only your legacy, but the lives of millions.

Now is the time to fight the inertia of special interest and “consensus”. Now is the time to use every shred of presidential power you have to shape the present and the future.

The future is not some abstract concept. In fact, it arrives here in a constant stream, every moment of every day. Each of the present moments we live has a direct effect on that stream. Because of this, we have a constant flood of opportunity pouring down on us.

Countless generations will judge you — and our present-day society — by what you do.

The world is watching you. Now, and for untold centuries to come.