THOM HARTMANN – They’re up to it again – this time with what they call the “fiscal cliff.” Beware of con men bearing slogans. The oldest trick in the book is for conservatives – cons – to create hysteria around something, and then get all of us to give them billions of our tax dollars to fix the problem they’ve gotten us all hysterical about. Four generations ago, the right was whipping up hysteria about Reefer Madness. They got us to spend trillions over the years incarcerating mostly poor people for a mostly victimless crime.
CRAIG CLINE – On Sunday, November 11th, the Statesman Journal asked its readers to vote on “how they observe Veterans Day,” the legal holiday on which citizens honor all veterans of our armed forces. Interestingly, Veterans Day is observed on Armistice Day, the anniversary of the armistice (stopping of warfare by mutual agreement) of World War 1 in 1918.
PETER G. COHEN – As of November, 2012, New York, New Jersey and other states are reeling from the overwhelming property damage done by the storm. At this point we cannot even estimate how many billions of dollars will be required to assist the devastated areas in their rebuilding, or the new and unknown infrastructure needed to reduce the damage of such storms in the future. What we do know is that without very substantial help from the already strained federal budget this highly productive area of the U.S. will be unable to rebuild itself for a long time.
CHUCK SHEKETOFF – It doesn’t take too long for your blood to boil when watching We’re Not Broke. The documentary, which recently aired at the Salem Progressive Film Series (and, hopefully, will soon come to your neighborhood theater) shows how the corporate loophole lobby and its army of tax accountants have rigged the system, enabling corporations to avoid federal income taxes. As corporations stash away oodles of tax savings, some politicians claim that the country is “broke” and aim the budget ax at the social safety net.
JOHN LA FORGE – With its October decision to end the Kewaunee nuclear power experiment on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore, Dominion Resources has shown the over-hyped “nuclear renaissance” to be a “reactor reassessment.” Calling its decision final, Dominion said it will close the pressurized water reactor permanently next spring, store tons of ferociously radioactive waste onsite indefinitely, and send its workforce of 655 to unemployment lines in “phased layoffs.”
TED GLICK – When did this silence begin? A piece in last week’s Guardian newspaper reminded me of how far back it goes, to a meeting the White House organized for leaders of environmental groups in March of 2009 at the Old Executive Office building next to the White House. At the meeting, according to the Guardian, aides to Obama made it clear that they did not plan to talk much about climate and wanted their supporters to do the same.
DANIEL J. WEISS and JACKIE WEIDMAN – Lingering high oil and gasoline prices contributed to another quarter of huge profits for the big five oil companies: BP plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp, and the Royal Dutch Shell Group. They earned a combined $28 billion in the third quarter of 2012, reaping more than $90 billion in profits through the first three quarters of the year. (see Table 1) As they did last year, the “big five” are on track to easily exceed $100 billion in profits this year.
PETER SCHURMAN – With victories on Nov. 6th in statewide votes in Montana and Colorado, both by nearly three-to-one margins, we’re now one quarter of the way to amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United. This a huge milestone, one we could not have achieved without your help, along with the help of many friends and allied organizations, including Common Cause, which led the way on the Montana and Colorado victories with our support, as well as People for the American Way, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, Move to Amend, Ben & Jerry’s, RootsAction, the American Sustainable Business Council, Auburn Seminary, Avaaz, Credo, unPAC, and SignOn.org.
NICK HOPKINS – Britain has rebuffed U.S. pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any preemptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law. The Guardian has been told that U.S. diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from U.S. bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.
JO CONFINO – PricewaterhouseCoopers’ latest index points to a catastrophic future unless radical action is taken now to combat climate change. “Business leaders have been asking for clarity in political ambition on climate change,” says partner Leo Johnson. “Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2C, but 4C or even 6C.”
ELLIOTT CAMPBELL – I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Eco-Summit, held in Columbus Ohio and hosted by William Mitsch at Ohio State University. This was a large conference, over 1600 people, featuring preeminent ecologists from around the world including Simon Levin, E.O. Wilson, Robert Costanza, Bernie Patten, Sven Jorgensen and plenary sessions by popular authors Jared Diamond and Lester Brown. As a recent PhD graduate and nascent systems ecologist I found the Eco-Summit to be edifying, inspiring, as well as incredibly frustrating.
DARYL HANNAH – “That’s all happened when you raise the temperature of the earth one degree,” says author Bill McKibben, “[t]he temperature will go up four degrees, maybe five, unless we get off coal and gas and oil very quickly.” Additional temperature rises could compromise our safety and cause incalculable damage from a large number of billion-dollar disasters in coming years – if we don’t address our emissions, insist upon an appropriate climate policy and curtail the rogue fossil fuel industry.
HEATHER RODGERS and SAMANTHA COOK – Environmental groups have long warned that America’s ravenous consumption of fossil fuels is not sustainable as a matter of public health or econmic health — either on a national or planetary level. But on the heels of a boom in domestic natural gas production — most of it the result of the adoption of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — their opponents are in the ascendency. The conservation and convert-to-clean-fuels messages of the environmentalists are increasingly deridedas out of touch, unrealistic, and harmful to the economy.
ERIN MCAULEY – Medford, Ore. (CN) – Environmentalists claim that the U.S. Forest Service should have known better than to allow precious metal mining in waterways in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest that are home to a threatened species of wild coho salmon without first consulting with wildlife experts.
MARK TRAN – Amid warnings that land deals are undermining food security, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has compared “land grabs” in Africa to the “wild west”, saying a “sheriff” is needed to restore the rule of law. José Graziano da Silva, the FAO’s director general, conceded it was not possible to stop large investors buying land, but said deals in poor countries needed to be brought under control.
DAVID SWANSON – Leaving the 41-senator filibuster in place but requiring that they run their mouths (and some of us have to listen) is not exactly the kind of Change most of us Hope for. Nor is it supported by the Constitution, any other law, any treaty, any rule necessary to the functioning of our government, anything or anyone we just voted for, or any public opinion poll. The proper thing to do with the filibuster is to eliminate it, which 51 senators can do at the start of the session if they see fit. I know you’ve been told they can’t, but keep reading.