November 19, 2011

Wall Street Getting Worried?

Lobby firm suggests how to fight Occupy Wall Street:

The CLGC memo raises another issue that it says should be of concern to the financial industry — that OWS might find common cause with the Tea Party. “Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism,” the memo says. “…This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season.”

November 19, 2011

Working For The Wrong People

They are college students on public property:

November 18, 2011

A Real Lesson In Power

Nail. Head. Hit.

But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government “committed” to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.

This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an unparalleled crime wave. Yet at most, maybe 1,500 federal agents were policing that beat – and that little group of financial cops barely made any cases at all. Yet when thousands of ordinary people hit the streets with the express purpose of obeying the law and demonstrating their patriotism through peaceful protest, the police response is immediate and massive. There have already been hundreds of arrests, which is hundreds more than we ever saw during the years when Wall Street bankers were stealing billions of dollars from retirees and mutual-fund holders and carpenters unions through the mass sales of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities.

November 17, 2011

We Do Not Learn From Our Mistakes

Profit before planet; say goodbye to the lungs of the earth:

Brazil did not ban slavery for moral or ethical reasons. It did so because the emergence of capitalist manufacturing made slavery more expensive and inefficient than wage labor. But today, there is no attempt to rethink an economic model based on destroying forests — and emitting greenhouse gases — to produce and export livestock and minerals.

On the contrary, Brazilian agribusiness, thanks to powerful congressional representation and the neglect of the executive branch, is pushing for a new forestry law that would condemn vast areas of rainforest to extermination.

The law, currently under consideration by a committee in Brazil’s Senate, would represent an ecological calamity.

November 16, 2011

Peak Oil is Real, But What Does it Mean?

Five misconceptions about peak oil:

So I think as far as peak oil goes, most of us can agree that just as it did in the U.S. in 1970, global oil production will inevitably decline. The points of contention are the timing, the steepness of the decline, the impact on the global economy, and the ability of other energy sources to fill the supply gap. Some believe it will be a non-event, and some people believe it will be catastrophic.

November 15, 2011

Clean Tech Problem

Not to mention the oil problem that all technologies have:

This isn’t exactly a new issue to the green movement, but it’s an under-examined one nonetheless: Rare earths like neodymium are integral to a number of cleantech innovations that are changing the way that we produce energy, drive, and so on. But they’re also, well, rare.

This Mother Jones report does a good job of giving an overview of how their scarcity presents a number of problems to revving the clean energy economy up to full speed. Read the whole thing, but here are the bullet points:

-First, as of now, China produces almost all of the world’s rare earth metals. But as its own domestic industry has boomed, it has kept more and more to itself, and costs have spiked as a result.
-Second, mining for rare earths is tricky, and dangerous. It has been known to create dreadful contamination — rare earths, as MoJo reports,”occur naturally with the radioactive elements thorium and uranium, which, if not stored securely, can leach into groundwater or escape into the air as dust.”
-Finally, improper mining procedures have led to birth defects and health woes in nearby communities.

November 15, 2011

Next Up: Dogs and Cats Sleeping Together

As if all ideas are created equal and deserve equal treatment:

Olney is not one to rush to conclusions. And so he embarked upon an exploration of this subject in typical public radio fashion. On one side, he brought in John Ireland, a gay parent and activist, and Sari Grant, a representative from the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. For the other, he brought on Jerry Cox, whose Arkansas Family Council unsuccessfully petitioned the state to ban foster children from entering same-sex-parent homes. (The state Supreme Court unanimously shot down the measure as unconstitutional.) Cox was given a generous platform to preach his particular brand of hate, referring repeatedly to “studies” that proved the “gold standard” for any child was a household headed by “one man and one woman.” He also deftly used Olney’s lead-in of the Sandusky case — if not to outwardly accuse gay parents of being predisposed to pedophilia, to at least align the two topics snugly: “In both cases,” he said, “the children’s rights get put in second place.” And why not? This was how Olney chose to frame this discussion, after all. But never did Olney challenge Cox’s falsehoods or bigotry, or even attempt to establish a delineation between gay parents and pedophilia. In his wildest dreams, Cox couldn’t have asked for a more generous platform — not here of all places, in the supposedly liberal bastion of public radio.

November 14, 2011

Values? Check Your Priorities.

Kunstler on moral failure:

First is the pretense that college football is a character-building endeavor. Rather it’s an odious money-grubbing racket that chews up and spits out quasi-professional players who, with rare exceptions, only pretend to be students. It corrupts everyone connected with it. College football is little more than a giant conduit for vacuuming money out of alumni, hawking brand merchandise, and generating TV revenues. At Penn State, the racket sucked in about $70 million a year net profit. All over America, the old land-grant diploma mills pay their coaches million-dollar salaries, while academic adjunct professors can’t even get health insurance. At SUNY-Albany, the flagship campus of New York’s system, they got rid of the department of foreign languages, but the football team plays on. Meanwhile ordinary students rack up tens of thousands of dollars in unpayable college debt via a related racket in which free-flowing government-backed Sallie Mae loan money prompts colleges to boost tuition rates way beyond inflation rates.

November 14, 2011

It May Already Be Too Late to Change

It’s pedal-to-the-metal:

There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is underway. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400 billion. The number of people without access to electricity remained unacceptably high at 1.3 billion, around 20% of the world’s population. Despite the priority in many countries to increase energy efficiency, global energy intensity worsened for the second straight year. Against this unpromising background, events such as those at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have cast doubts on the reliability of energy supply, while concerns about sovereign financial integrity have shifted the focus of government attention away from energy policy and limited their means of policy intervention, boding ill for agreed global climate change objectives.

November 13, 2011

And When the Party is Over?

So students are renting McMansions in over-built planned communities:

While students at other colleges cram into shoebox-size dorm rooms, Ms. Alarab, a management major, and Ms. Foster, who is studying applied math, come home from midterms to chill out under the stars in a curvaceous swimming pool and an adjoining Jacuzzi behind the rapidly depreciating McMansion that they have rented for a song.

Here in Merced, a city in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and one of the country’s hardest hit by home foreclosures, the downturn in the real estate market has presented an unusual housing opportunity for thousands of college students. Facing a shortage of dorm space, they are moving into hundreds of luxurious homes in overbuilt planned communities.

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