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.

Out-Felixing Felix: Google Exec Breaks Stratosphere Jump Record – Video

Surprise! Felix Baumgartner’s free fall record has been broken by Google executive Alan Eustace. An altitude of 135,890 feet was submitted for the record, and his peak speed was 822 mph — with a small sonic boom. That’s slower than Felix’s 843.6 mph, probably because Felix’s suit was minimal by comparison, without the clunky life support unit.

Another amazing feat. The video, however, is shockingly lame. No shot of the cutaway, no shot from the balloon as he drops, just 15 seconds of one angle on his helmet during the free fall. Whoever “Atomic Entertainment” is, they blew it in terms of PR for the event and themselves. I’m sure there will be some longer version soonish, but I would never have released this.

On the other hand, the ascent tech is very cool. No capsule — just a rig that’s attached to a custom space suit. Apparently, they spent a lot less money than the Red Bull team, with no corporate sponsors.

He spent 30 minutes hanging at the edge of space, just to enjoy the view. I can imagine the ride up… Facing down, watching the Earth drop away. That must have been incredible.

Even though the video’s lame, it’s better than nothing — plus, there are a few behind-the-scenes stills:

Google exec sets a new record for highest-altitude jump


Nobel laureates call for a revolutionary shift in how humans use resources

It shouldn’t take eleven Nobel Prize winners to wake up the world to the massive destruction that’s been done by — and the even greater destruction that will be done by — our unchecked consumption of our natural resources.

But it can’t hurt for them to wave a red flag.

Amazon deforestation

Nobel laureates call for a revolutionary shift in how humans use resources | Science |

ALEC CEO: Google’s Departure Was Like Getting Dumped Via Text Message

Lisa B. Nelson, the CEO of the radical right-wing, gun-pimping, fossil-fuel hawking ALEC is so mature that when Google announced they would no longer support the organization, she said of them, “It’s like breaking up via text with your girlfriend when you’re 16.”

Um… Lisa? When your organization gets paid millions to bribe legislators and lie to the public about climate change and guns… No. It’s not quite like that.

ALEC CEO: Google’s Departure Was Like Getting Dumped Via Text Message –

Oceans Getting Hotter Faster Than Realized

An article at Climate Central says a new study shows that “the upper 2,300 feet of the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans may have warmed twice as quickly after 1970 than had previously been thought.”

The facts we’re uncovering keep getting more and more grim. But our governments and corporations (sorry, yes, that’s redundant) continue to drag their feet on measures that would mitigate the damage we’re doing. Please… any time you see an opportunity to affect policies on climate change, take action. The mid-term elections are a great chance to make change.

After reading this article, check out the League of Conservation Voters’ list of endorsed candidates:

…and the Sierra Club’s voter guide:  (Endorsement list at top).

It’s time to vote out climate deniers, and vote in climate hawks!

Oceans Getting Hotter Than Anybody Realized | Climate Central.

Oil industry on borrowed time as switch to gas and solar accelerates

Big Oil has known for a very long time that their days are numbered. All of the millions they throw at elections and politicians are their desperate last straw-grasping. Big Oil needs to learn how to die with dignity. Just go, and let the next generation of power generation take over. And let me be the first to offer this article’s author a hearty “No duh?” to this paragraph:

There may be little point battling icebergs to drill in the Arctic, or in trying to extract oil from the ultra-deepwater fields in the mid-Atlantic, beneath layers of salt, three kilometres into the Earth.

In fact, there is a point to it — the point is for Big Oil to hoard as much cash as it can for itself and its heirs before its looming death — without regard to the additional damage to the climate and their fellow human beings they are causing.

They could have been visionaries. They could have, long ago, used a fraction of all those billions they make to research and develop incredible clean energy technologies that would have slowed or even stopped climate change, and would have create tons of jobs for Americans and those who live in the other Big Oil companies’ home countries.

But instead, they chose immediate profits over their own future, and ours.

So now you’re on your deathbed, Big Oil. But I don’t expect you to have any sort of ethical moment of clarity. You’re still drunk on all that cash.

Read the article at

Oil industry on borrowed time as switch to gas and solar accelerates – Telegraph.