Ninth Ward fights freeway

SUBHEAD: New Orleans plans traffic onto new interstate route through the black neighborhood.

By Michael Stein on 20 March 2017 for Truth Out -
(http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39900-new-orleans-ninth-ward-fights-freeway-through-historic-black-neighborhood)


Image above: Public meeting attendees raise their hands to question Arcadis consultant representative Scott Hoffeld. Photo by Michael Stein. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: You might not think this article touches your life if you live on Kauai, but the events in this story are echoed in our experience on Kauai. You've seen it before -  a consultant advocating a plan your community doesn't want and obfuscating answers from residents and promising all concerns will be handled later in the process. Bullshit! Right now the Kauai County trying to adopt an "update" of our General Plan that will not keep Kauai rural but suburbanize it with double the current population. It will hit the westside hard with a tripling of population and an increased dependence on GMO/Pesticide experiments and further militarization of PMRF to support that population. This will mean a greatly increased presence of Navy, Marine and Air Force activities and personnnel. It's just going to be shoved down our throats. Only pushing back will slow this process to a halt.]

"You say you come to inform, but there's no information. You're playing games with my home." Schoolteacher and Ninth Ward resident Derrick Anthony Renkins Jr. was standing at a rancorous public meeting, passionately opposing the proposed Florida Avenue Roadway, a project that would funnel truck traffic through the Ninth Ward from neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

There were about 200 Ninth Ward community members in the Saint Mary of the Angels church that night to see what the Department of Transportation had planned for their home.

This situation was unfortunately familiar for them. Ninth Ward residents continuously contend with infrastructure projects that disregard their well-being and ignore their input.

It's these polices that isolated the Lower Ninth Ward from the rest of the city, robbed it of public resources and caused it to suffer the worst devastation during Hurricane Katrina.

There was national recognition after Katrina that much of the storm's destruction was human-made, and the US has moved closer to acknowledging the devastating impact of racist infrastructure projects and city planning.

Former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx admitted that "urban renewal" and highway building have harmed poor Black neighborhoods and recommended that future infrastructure projects benefit communities that "have been on the wrong side of transportation decisions."

Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have left this advice unheeded, and the Ninth Ward now faces another infrastructure project that would damage the community and uproot families.

At the front of the church stood Scott Hoffeld, a representative from the private consultancy firm Arcadis. Many in the crowd watched Hoffeld with frustration while he explained the proposal. When he was finished, he asked the crowd if they had any questions. Dozens of hands shot up.

Most Ninth Ward residents are already fed up with the existing truck traffic saturating their roads. Activists have been working to divert St. Bernard trucks away from the Ninth Ward, but they're now threatened by a plan that would permanently establish a truck route through their community.

"The fact is, freeways ruin neighborhoods," explains Beth Butler, the executive director of A Community Voice, a local nonprofit organization. "It's astonishing that in this day in time they would put a freeway through a Black neighborhood."

Residents complain that trucks pollute their communities, damage their roads and reduce their property values.

There is also concern about the source of these trucks, namely the Chalmette Refinery. This large petrochemical plant ships out an array of dangerous materials, and many worry about toxic spills and contamination. "They've already experienced environmental racism," says Butler. "It shouldn't keep happening."

Then there is the issue of eminent domain. A 2013 environmental assessment concluded that the project requires the acquisition of up to 105.4 acres of land, including 128 residences, nine water resources, six commercial structures and a church.

"Before we rebuilt [after Katrina], we had a big meeting, why didn't y'all tell us then that you were putting the roadway here?" asked Vernice Lyons, a homeowner in the Lower Ninth Ward. "Because we wouldn't have rebuilt it.

We built our houses from the ground up. We had nothing but lots there. But y'all waited till after we rebuilt and now y'all want to take us away again?"

"I'm sorry, that was before our contract," Hoffeld responded. "These projects are sometimes imperfect."

Hoffeld tried to assure the crowd that the roadway was intended to benefit the Ninth Ward, not damage it. But the original iteration of this roadway was a raised highway that didn't include a single onramp in the Ninth Ward, casting doubt among residents that this project was intended in any way for their benefit.

Hoffeld admitted that a central purpose of the new high-speed roadway would be to provide interstate access to trucks coming from St. Bernard. The audience rejected this justification on two grounds. The first was a general refusal to suffer damage in their community for another's gain.

The second demurral came from people who have lived in the neighborhood their entire lives and have a comprehensive understanding of the street grid. They insisted that this road isn't necessary because there is already a freeway that provides interstate access.

The existing freeway takes St. Bernard trucks downriver away from the city, instead of west into the Ninth Ward. Truckers familiar with the area attest to the convenience of this route, and say a new Florida Avenue roadway wouldn't do much to truncate their commutes.

When asked if he would utilize the new roadway once it was built, veteran trucker Lloyd Gaimer said it wouldn't be much quicker. "It's all about the same, I'll take either one."

Randy Guillot, vice chairman of American Trucking Associations and member of the Louisiana Trucking Association, insists that this roadway isn't consistent with New Orleans' contemporary infrastructure needs. "It would be much more appropriate to spend the money elsewhere," he says.

Ninth Ward residents agree, citing a long list of desired infrastructure developments in their community including levee improvements to protect them from future flooding.

Many activists on the front line of the opposition say the Louisiana Department of Transportation appears to be trying to deceive them as to its true motivation for pursuing the plan. "We're not getting the whole picture," says community activist Rev. Willie Calhoun Jr. "You're dealing with ignorance here. I'm not calling the people ignorant, but they lack the knowledge of what the overall game plan is."

At the meeting, the audience continued to push Hoffeld about the roadway's true purpose.
"From a legislative standpoint, there are components of this plan that must be constructed," he told the crowd.

He was referring to a 28-year-old piece of legislation that mandates the construction of a new bridge on Florida Avenue. It's called the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program, created by the state legislature in 1989. It was the single largest transportation bill in state history, allocating $1.4 billion for 16 infrastructure projects.

TIMED projects have already cost an estimated $5.2 billion and two of the projects were never completed. One of these unfinished projects is the new Florida Avenue bridge.

Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Ninth Ward residents agree on at least one thing: There is still a pressing need for a new Florida Avenue bridge. The Lower Ninth Ward is cut off from the rest of New Orleans by a canal, and the existing bridges that link the Lower Ninth Ward are often unavailable, regularly closed for construction or raised to allow boats to pass.

This keeps the Lower Ninth Ward isolated from the rest of the city, restricting access to hospitals, jobs and supermarkets.

Louisiana State Sen. Wesley T. Bishop, a native of the Lower Ninth Ward, attended the public meeting and told the crowd, "There is a need to have another way to get out of the Lower Ninth Ward, but the way it's being proposed to us is unacceptable. We're trying to find a way to keep the project."

The current proposal from the Louisiana Department of Transportation combines the Florida Avenue bridge and Florida Avenue Roadway projects.

Butler believes that the current composition of the proposal is meant to force the community to accept the unwanted roadway in order to get the much-needed bridge.

"This is an optional program, that has not been made clear to people," she says. "People were told things that made them think that you had to take the freeway with the bridge."

Calhoun reported that an Arcadis representative told him the bridge wouldn't be built without the roadway. Calhoun and Butler are working to inform people that the state is required by law to build a new bridge, whether or not the Florida Avenue extension project is approved.

This roadway has been proposed many times in the past. As Calhoun recalls, "My father talked about this in the '60s -- this is way more in-depth than you think."

The idea for a thoroughfare from New Orleans into St. Bernard can be traced back to the 1927 New Orleans Master Plan. But the city's needs are very different than they were in 1927, 1989 or even 10 years ago, and some question if this plan is a prudent use of government funds.

The original TIMED program allocated $30 million to build the new bridge. An assessment from 2013 estimated that the entire Florida Avenue extension project could cost over half a billion dollars.

Southern Louisiana is in great need of infrastructure development. Not only are its streets crumbling, but its coastline is also experiencing erosion at a rate of one football field every hour.

The state recently created a $50 billion plan to combat this subsidence, but there is still a $30 billion budget shortfall.

Louisiana is also dealing with one of the largest budget deficits in state history, and many are perplexed as to why the Louisiana Department of Transportation is focusing on an expensive plan that is not only opposed by the community, but offers limited commercial value.

So the question remains, who benefits from the roadway's construction? Calhoun said he doesn't know, but wouldn't be surprised if "this is just more of Bobby Jindal's people getting money," referencing the rampant corruption in Louisiana politics.

But he also suggested that perhaps this is just an infrastructure project that has floated around the state's bureaucracy for so long that it's attained a weight of its own, being pushed by nobody in particular, but advancing nonetheless. "I don't even think our elected officials have been told the real deal on this," he said. "They're trying to promote it just to promote it."

Ultimately, what many Ninth Ward residents say is most frustrating is that they feel ignored. Those attending the public meeting said they believe the state is withholding information and that even if they were fully informed, there isn't anything they can do to stop the project.

Many saw the meeting as only a fa├žade of public outreach, meant to check a bureaucratic box rather than truly hear and integrate community concerns.

"For the Department of Transportation to allow you to come and stand in front of us and not prepare for your presentation lets me know that once again, my life does not matter," Renkins Jr. told Hoffeld at the end of the meeting. "The task at hand is for you to reach out to me, not for me to reach out to you."

The highway authority is scheduled to make a final decision on the future of the project in January 2018. Between now and then, there is only one public meeting and a final public hearing scheduled. It remains unclear whether community leaders have any recourse to stop a project that is so ubiquitously derided in the Ninth Ward.

"Do we have any say as a community?" asked one frustrated meeting attendee. "At the end of the day, ya'll gonna do what ya'll want to do. I don't know anywhere else in the city where they would allow this to happen."

"They don't understand New Orleans," says Butler. "These are communities that are working class. It's the only affordable housing in the city almost.

The history of these communities; they are families that have built this city. They are strong African American families, working class, who just did everything right and were never rewarded for it.

But at least they had their own community, their own churches. This plan is going to pulverize this Black neighborhood that they know nothing about."

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Apartheid Israel Report

SUBHEAD: If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the UN report.

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar on 21 March 2017 for Counter Currents -
(http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/03/21/apartheid-israel/)


Image above: "Control + Alt + Delete" graffiti on Israeli "defense" wall separating Palestinians from Jewish state. From (https://www.flickr.com/photos/54853721@N03/5081744059).

If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The report released on the 15th March 2017 and posted on the ESCWA website has now been removed on the orders of the UN Secretary-General, pressurized, it is alleged, by the governments of Israel and the United States both of whom have denounced the report in harsh terms.

The withdrawal of the report prompted the ESCWA Executive Secretary and UN Under-Secretary-General Dr. Rima Khalaf, to submit her resignation. In her words, “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime and I stand by all the conclusions of the report.”

 It is worth noting that the report carried a clear disclaimer that “the findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the UN or its officials or Member States.”

The report was co-authored by two distinguished American scholars — Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law Princeton University who, from 2008 to 2014, also served as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and Virginia Tilley, Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University and author of Beyond Occupation: Apartheid Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Carefully worded, incisively analyzed and succinctly articulated, the report is a significant milestone in the endeavor to understand one of the longest political conflicts in modern times.

Using international human rights law as a basis, the report provides ample evidence to show why Israel practices apartheid in various facets of governance. Land policy is one example.

Land occupied by Israel between 1948 and 1967 can only be owned and used by Jews and by law excludes non-Jews some of whom have documentary claims to the land that go back a few centuries.

An even more insidious mechanism employed by the Israeli regime to exercise control and domination is the fragmentation of the Palestinian population into various categories.

The authors of the report call them ‘domains.’ Domain 1 comprises those who are citizens of the state of Israel. They receive inferior social services, limited budget allocations, and are subjected to restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities.

They live in segregated residential areas and are aware that  access to public benefits are by and large reserved for those who qualify as citizens under the Citizenship Law and the Law of Return, meaning by which Jews.  This creates a system of covert racism and renders Palestinians second-class citizens.

Domain 2, also under Israeli rule, is made up of Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. They are also victims of discrimination like their counterparts in Domain 1. They have limited access to good educational and health care facilities.

In addition, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem can have his residency revoked if he cannot prove that Jerusalem is his “center of life.” Between 1996 and 2014, residency was revoked for more than 11,000 Palestinians.

Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, territories occupied by Israel since 1967, would constitute Domain 3. They are governed by military law. Though Hamas has limited authority over Gaza, it is Israel that has exclusive control over its borders.

And since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade upon Gaza that affects all aspects of life in that tiny peninsula. While the residents of both West Bank and Gaza are subject to military law, the 350,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law.

This dual legal system underscores stark racial discrimination which manifests itself in many other ways. In contrast to the parlous state of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, Jewish settlements continue to flourish.

Jews from all over the world are offered various incentives to move to these well-endowed settlements,including employment guarantees, agricultural subsidies, school grants and special recreational facilities.

Unlike the first three domains, Palestinians in Domain 4 are the only ones who are not under Israeli control. These are Palestinians who are refugees from the wars and expulsions since 1948 and their descendants who have been living outside original Palestine, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and a number of other countries in West Asia and North Africa (WANA). There are some who for generations have been staying in Europe and North America.

All of them are affected by one vital dimension of Israeli policy. They are barred from returning home. While they are prohibited from returning to the land of their ancestors, a Jew who does not have the flimsiest link to Israel or Palestine is encouraged to settle down in these territories.

This is yet another blatant example of apartheid.

The report prepared by Falk and Tilley argues eloquently that the emergence of the domains and the apartheid practiced by various Israeli governments cannot be separated from the desire and the drive in the Zionist movement from the turn of the 20th century to establish an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine.

Bringing in Jewish immigrants long before the Israeli state was created, the wars, the expulsions and the laws to prevent Palestinians from returning to their land were all part of that mission.

Indeed, there has been deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestine — a point which has been elaborated with much lucidity by the outstanding Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe in his ground breaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

In its conclusion, the Falk-Tilley report establishes, “on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.” It then proposes that an international tribunal examine the report and make an assessment that will be truly authoritative.

If such an authoritative assessment concurs with the finding of the report, the UN and its agencies, regional outfits and national governments should act. They have a collective duty to de-legitimise an apartheid regime and render it illegal. They cannot allow such a regime to continue.
 
The report also urges civil society groups and non-state actors to step up their campaign against apartheid Israel. Some of them are already doing quite a bit through the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. They should organize and mobilize much more through the alternative media.

That the media has given so little attention to the contents of the report on apartheid Israel is an indication of the power and influence of the states and vested interests that do not want the truth about Israel to be known to the world.

This is what we have to struggle against in order to ensure that truth triumphs and justice is done to the people of Palestine.

• Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). Malaysia.
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Defund Militarism

SUBHEAD: It's time to dismantle Trump's Murder Budget by refusing to fund America's perpetual wars.

By Maya Schenwar on 20 March 2017 for TruthOut -
(http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/39912-it-s-time-to-dismantle-trump-s-murder-budget-and-defund-militarism)


Image above: Candidate Trump speaks during a campaign event aboard the battleship USS Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California, September 15, 2015. Photo by Max Whittaker. From original article.

During the last three years of the Bush administration, I reported on the military budget, following the supplemental spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Congress has not formally declared war since World War II, these budget bills were the mechanism that was keeping our wars going.

Every time the war budgets came up for a vote, I held my breath. Even though I knew better, I watched C-SPAN for hours, hoping for a surprise. There were a few stalwart Congress members who usually held out -- Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich -- but for the most part, Republicans and Democrats alike got in line to flood the war coffers, again and again.

Eventually, I stopped watching; I could practically write my articles ahead of time.

If a flight of angels crashed through the ceiling of the Capitol and announced, "The world is ending tonight," they'd still vote to fund tomorrow's wars.

The predictable passage of blank checks for war was an expression of the acceptability of the status quo. The status quo was murder, but within the halls of Congress and, of course, the White House, there was a level of comfort with that.

From the US's early days, the military evolved largely as a vehicle for colonialism and genocide.

As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in An Indigenous People's History of the United States,
 "The Iraq War was just another Indian war in the US military tradition."
This country's military has long been more of an offensive force -- charging ahead with the winds of white supremacy and capitalism at its back -- than one of "defense." The Iraq War is one moment in its long legacy of actively disrupting, upending and devastating the lives and communities of millions of people of color, both at home and abroad.

Much of the government seems to view perpetual war as an inevitability, the way most of us, in the words of Angela Davis, "take for granted" the existence of prisons.

Davis has written that, although prisons as we know them are a fairly recent addition to the world, they have become so embedded in our society that "it is difficult to imagine life without them."

The US's brand of imperialist militarism, too, is seen as natural. In the mid-2000s, many liberal Democrats were arguing for a strategy of amelioration: a small-scale withdrawal of troops, the cutting of some "waste" from the Pentagon budget, a halt to the production of a couple of bizarrely expensive fighter jets.

These measures were aimed at mitigating the damage, instead of disrupting the overall project of war, militarism and the destruction of communities, most of them in Muslim-majority countries.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did scale down over the course of Obama's presidency, but in one form or another, they've persisted -- and other undeclared wars have been and continue to be waged. In 2016 alone, the US bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia.

Every year since 2003, the military has occupied the majority of the US discretionary budget. We are currently spending much more on the military (accounting for inflation) than we were at the height of the Vietnam War.

The way in which US militarism is taken for granted mirrors the ways in which other forms of mass violence are deemed inevitable -- policing, deportation, the genocide and erasure of Indigenous peoples, the exploitative market-driven health care system, the vastly inequitable education system and disastrous environmental policies.

The generally accepted logic tells us that these things will remain with us: The best we can hope for, according to this narrative, is modest reform amid monstrous violence.

Now, we have a president who has no interest in modest reform. His draft budget, released last week, is a caricature of our bad budgets past.

Not only will the Pentagon continue to occupy the majority of our discretionary budget this year, but if Donald Trump has his way, military spending will jump by 10 percent. Vital programs -- programs that support survival instead of murder -- will be slashed or eliminated.

If his administration gets what it wants, the Department of Education will take a 14 percent hit, Health and Human Services will shrink by 16 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget will decrease by 16 percent, and the EPA will suffer a 31 percent blow.

Under Trump's proposal, funding would be eliminated for the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Chemical Safety Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Legal Services Corporation (which provides civil legal assistance to low-income people).

The proposed budget doesn't simply represent an act of deprioritization or neglect of most people's needs. It is an attack on the lives of poor people and people of color. It is a call-to-arms against the environment, and thus, against the long-term survival of most species on Earth.

It is a battle against the arts, against learning, against recreation, against shared space -- against the things that help give us life beyond mere survival.

We should not be surprised that these attacks on civil society and fundamental human rights are accompanied by a surge in military spending. The cuts and the hikes are part of the same murderous project.
The ground is already laid for that project to be built. Already, the US military budget exceeds the combined military budgets of the next seven countries: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India and Germany.

If we are going to confront Trump's proposed cuts to key domestic programs, we have to also confront the legitimacy that has been granted to endless war and militarism over the course of the past 16 years -- and throughout our country's history.

We can't just add the priorities of health and life to the stock priorities of death and destruction. We can't just advocate for a few less fighter jets or a downsizing of Pentagon bureaucracy.

We have to choose life-giving priorities over violent ones. We have to stop taking all forms of state violence -- war, militarism, deportations, prisons, surveillance, colonial destruction, disinvestment and deprivation -- for granted.

One way to start might be to imagine how we could reroute the money currently funneled toward this violence. For example, the National Priorities Project suggests that instead of increasing the military budget by $54 billion, as Trump suggests, we slash the military budget by that same amount.

That $54 billion could provide Medicaid for 15 million adults, or grant 1.6 million students a free four-year college education, or create 1 million infrastructure jobs, or fund the Meals on Wheels program for 7,180 years.

Taking this a step further, military cuts could easily help fund programs that we don't yet have but desperately need, such as Medicare for all.

With real cuts to the budgets of murder and devastation -- including not only the military, but also police, prisons, ICE and other violent institutions -- we could set viable plans to end homelessness, dramatically step up climate justice efforts, provide universal child care and more.

"Real cuts" would not only mean slicing off a certain number of dollars. They would also mean challenging the specific ways in which that money is spent.

As United for Peace and Justice lays out, in addition to demanding a stop to US wars, we must also demand an end to the drone program, the closure of US military bases throughout the world, the start of active negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons and the demilitarization of local police forces.

I'd go a step further to say that the demilitarization of police forces is not enough -- we should move toward dismantling them.

Moreover, confronting militarism would require a fundamental prioritization of racial and social justice. Both within the US and abroad, the military and other forms of state violence overwhelmingly target, harm, displace and kill people of color.

Within the US, poor and working class people are targeted for recruitment into the military, pulled in via a long string of false promises.

Once we acknowledge that these realities are not accidents, and are not new, we can conceive of how injustice is not simply a side effect. It is embedded in the practice of US militarism.

Trump's budget was released on March 16, the anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, when the US military murdered the majority of people living in the small Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai, including many children and elderly people.

This should serve as a reminder for all of us that rising military budgets are not a prescription for "public safety," as Trump has claimed. They are a prescription for murder.

As long as taxpayers continue to be complicit in filling that prescription, it seems that we have a responsibility to act against it.

We need to call and write to our Congress members and demand they reject the $54 billion increase to our military budget and the brutal cuts to crucial domestic programs.

We have to stop taking our wars, our drones, our bombs, our imperialism and our decades of colossal military budgets for granted.

We have to "imagine life without them." And we have to imagine -- and work to create -- the life-giving, healing, transformational priorities that will take their place.


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When Truth becomes a threat

SUBHEAD: If you tell the truth in America it may be Fake News and a might be a traitor.

By Paul Craig Roberts on 16 March 2017 for PaulCraigRoberts.org -
(http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/03/16/nuisance-threat-high-cost-truth-paul-craig-roberts/)


Image above: The Clinton and Trump camps are two sides of the same coin of American Empire. From (http://www.iagreetosee.com/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/).

[IB Editor's note: There is some truth in this article we thought should be published, but it is not a one sided story. Those from the "Left" and the "Right" who have been in charge of the American Empire have fostered a false view of the world and reality. Lies and propaganda are always employed tools of Empire. The Clinton and Trump camps were to sides of the counterfeit coin of the realm.]

I am convinced that the US, and probably the entire Western world, that is, the American Empire, has entered an era in which respect for truth does not exist in public and private institutions. We have been watching this develop for some time.

Think, for example, back to August 3, 2002, a recent time in terms of our present predicament, but a time prior to political consciousness of anyone younger today than 33 years old.

In the summer of 2002, the world was being prepared by propaganda for a US invasion of Iraq. On August 3 of that year, the prestigous British publication, The Economist, summed up the consensus of ruling opinion in two sentences: “The honest choices now are to give up and give in, or to remove Mr. Hussein before he gets his [nuclear] bomb. Painful as it is, our vote is for war.”

As Lewis Lapham, myself and others asked at the time, what bomb? The only evidence of a bomb was fabricated and known to be fabricated. The UN weapons inspectors concluded that the infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction were a creation of US propaganda.

President George W. Bush eventually acknowledged that Iraq had no such weapons. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the lies he was deceived by the Bush regime into telling the UN about Saddam Hussein’s WMD are a stain on his career.

Despite the 2003 US invasion known to have been based entirely on lies, US troops were not pulled out of Iraq until 2011, and whether or not they were pulled out, they are back in Iraq now.

None of these facts has had any impact on the good opinion that Washington and the media have of themselves.

Unchastened, Washington and its presstitutes lied about Libya and destroyed that prosperous country. They lied about “Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people,” and would have destroyed Syria also had it not been for the Russians.

Blocked by Russia, Obama, Hillary, and Victoria Nuland turned on Russia, first overthrowing the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and when Crimeans voted practically unanimously to reunite with Russia, the Obama regime and its media whores falsely alleged “Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

This false charge, repeated endlessly still today by the Western presstitutes, became the justification for economic sanctions against Russia that Washington imposed on its European vassals, entirely at their expense, which shows what craven cowards European governments are. If Washington orders “jump,” the UK Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, the French President ask, “How High?”

One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected president was his commitment to normalizing relations with Russia and reconsidering the continuation of NATO a quarter century after its purpose ceased to exist with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Trump’s commitment constituted a direct threat to the power and profit of the US military/security complex, whose $1,000 billion annual budget requires a major threat that only Russia can provide.

Consequently, Russia and its president have been demonized. American propaganda, bald-faced lies, spread fear of Russia and Putin throughout the American Empire.

The Empire’s response to those who confront the propaganda with the facts is to denounce those with the facts as “Russian agents” or “Putin’s dupes.”

The hatred of Russia that has been inculcated by the neocons and presstitute media has resulted in Republican Senator John McCain, representing Arizona (to the disgrace of Arizonians), calling on the Senate floor Republican Senator Rand Paul, representing Kentucky, a person who “is now working for Vladimir Putin” for objecting to tiny Montenegro being made a NATO member. See (http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/15/sen-john-mccain-rand-paul-is-working-for-vladimir-putin/)

When this website was included on a list of 200 Russian agent/dupe websites by a secret, undisclosed group called PropOrNot, I wondered whose money was behind this entity as well hidden as an offshore money laundering operation. I made a joke of it, which amused the Russians.

As no one knows what PropOrNot.com is, the site has no credibility.

 So the forces for war moved up several levels to Harvard University Library. On that website someone posted what is essentially the PropOrNot list. Harvard does not say that the list is vetted or explain why anyone should believe it.

The list is attributed to a Melissa Zindars, an assistant professor of communication and media at some unnamed institution. It is a list, she says, that she uses in her class to teach students how to avoid “fake and false news.” In other words, the list reflects her own ignorance and biases.

As one reader observed, Melissa tells on her own indoctrination by the presstitute, CIA-serving US media:
 “I read/watch/listen very widely, from mainstream, corporate owned sources (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes) as well as The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and various local and alternative sources with different political perspectives (Truth-Out).”
So here we have the Western world informed by Harvard University Library of who is safe to read on the basis of an unknown young woman’s biases. Those safe to read are the lying presstitute media who serve the cause of war and the police state.

When you witness this level of total corruption at what pretends to be America’s finest university, and it is on top of the 24 years of nothing but lies from the previous three two-term presidents, who between them have murdered and dislocated millions of people in numerous countries, and not been held accountable for even one of the millons of lives destroyed, you cannot avoid realizing that for the United States and its corrupt vassal states, Truth is something to be avoided at all costs.

When Trump collapsed under pressure and fired his National Security Adviser, Gen. Flynn, he unintentionally gave credence to the charge that any and all who think well of normalized relations with the other major nuclear power are “Russian agents,” and that to be a “Russian agent” means that you are guilty of treason and deserve to be impeached if you happen to be the President of the United States.

The consequence of Flynn’s removal from office has been to enable the Russophobic forces to define as treason the desire for detente with Russia. If this had been imposed on US presidents during the First Cold War, probably life on earth would not exist today.

What is scary about the US and Europe is not merely the gullibility and insouciance of such a large percentage of the populations.

What is very frightening is the willingness of the media, government officials, military, and members of professional organizations to lie for the sake of their careers.

Try to find any shame among the liars that their lies expose humanity to thermonuclear annihilation. It is not to be found. They don’t care.

Just let me have the Mercedes and the McMansion for another year.

The Saker, an observant being, says that the color revolution being conducted by the neoconservatives, the Democratic Party, the presstitutes, the liberal/progressive/left, and by some Republicans against President Trump is “de-legitimizing the entire [democratic] political process which brought Trump to power and upon which the United States is built as a society.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46658.htm The consequence, says The Saker, is that “the illusion of democracy and people power” has been destroyed both domestically and abroad. The propaganda picture of “American Democracy” has lost its believability. As the false picture crumbles, so does the power that was based on authority constructed by propaganda.
The Saker asks: do we face an endless horror or a horrible end?

As George Orwell said decades ago, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

This is the way the criminals who rule us see it, and it is the way their whores in the media see it. If you tell the truth in America, you are a purveyor of fake news and possibly a traitor.

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Corporate monster Monsanto

SUBHEAD: Monsanto's strategy in getting control of the world's food system has so far been successful.

By Alan Broughton on 10 March 2017 for Green Left -
(https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/behind-corporate-monster-how-monsanto-pushes-agricultural-domination)


Image above: A farmhand loads genetically modified corn seed into a planter on Bo Stone's farm in Rowland, North Carolina, April 20, 2016. Photo by Jeremy M. Lange. From original article.

Monsanto, one of the world's biggest pesticide and seed corporations and leading developer of genetically modified crop varieties, had a stock market value of US$66 billion in 2014. It has gained this position by a combination of deceit, threat, litigation, destruction of evidence, falsified data, bribery, takeovers and cultivation of regulatory bodies.

Its rise and torrid controversies cover a long period starting with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, chemicals used as insulators for electrical transformers) in the 1940s and moving on to dioxin (a contaminant of Agent Orange used to defoliate Vietnam), glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, a hormone injected into dairy cows to increase their milk production), and genetic modified organisms (GMOs).

Its key aim in dealing with health and environmental issues is to protect sales and profits and the company image. The latter has been a monumental failure, making Monsanto potentially the most hated corporation in the world.

To better sell its GMO technology, Monsanto began acquiring seed companies in 1996 and within 10 years became the largest seed supplier in the world. If the planned merger with German multinational Bayer takes place, the combined corporate giant will control a third of the world's seed market and a quarter of the pesticide market.

Influence
Gaining friends in high places and managing regulatory body policy has been crucial to Monsanto's power. There is a crossover between Monsanto and the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture, the European Food Safety Authority and some United Nations food regulatory arms.

This crossover works in four ways: retired legislators move to Monsanto; legislators become lobbyists for Monsanto; regulators move on to Monsanto; and Monsanto employees switch to regulatory organisations (and often back again).

Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lawyer, moved to the FDA where he determined FDA policy on genetic modification, before becoming Monsanto vice president. Linda Fisher was assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances in the EPA for 10 years; she moved to Monsanto in 1995 to lobby politicians, then returned to the EPA in 2001 as deputy administrator.

In the George W Bush administration, Monsanto managed to get four of its associates to head departments: the attorney-general and the secretaries for health and human services (of which the EPA is part), agriculture, and defence. Monsanto lobbying expenses for 1998 to 2001 amounted to $21 million. From 2004 to 2014, it was $62.3 million. In 2002, Monsanto gave $1.2 million to the Republican Party and $320,000 to the Democrats.

As a result, the regulators have by and large facilitated Monsanto's interests. A former EPA manager, William Sanjour, said: "Unfortunately the EPA is more concerned with protecting the interests of companies than with defending the public interest."

Labelling
One example of this cosy relationship came with Monsanto's successful action over labelling of rBGH in milk products.

Because of public concern about rBGH, some milk companies wanted to label their product as "rBGH free". But Monsanto lobbied the EPA to disallow the practice because labelling would imply non-rBGH milk was safer or of higher quality -- which, Monsanto argued, was misleading.

Monsanto threatened to sue dairy companies that specified their milk came from non-treated cows. It forced the companies to add that the EPA had found no difference between treated and non-treated milk.

The FDA sacked a researcher for questioning Monsanto data on rBGH. The US federal government attitude was that biotechnology was so important that they could not allow a few questions about cow or human safety to get in the way.

Monsanto also got the FDA to raise the allowed residues of glyphosate on soybeans from six parts per million to 20 parts per million, and in the European Union from 0.1 parts per million to 20 parts per million. In 2013, this was raised in the US to 40 parts per million for soybean oil -- 400 times the amount known to kill gut bacteria.

The regulators determined that GM and non-GM food was "substantially equivalent", which meant that no safety tests were required. This was a political decision with no scientific basis. Most of the data used by the regulators to determine the safety of products is provided by Monsanto and independent studies are ignored.

In 1998, British researcher Arpad Pusztai announced that he had found adverse effects of GM potatoes on rats. Then-US president Bill Clinton called then-British prime minister Tony Blair, who in turn rang the director of Pusztai's Rowett Institute in Aberdeen to get Pusztai dismissed from the institute.

A Rowett director said: "Tony Blair's office had been pressured by the Americans, who thought our study would harm the biotech industry, and particularly Monsanto."

Monsanto associates on the UN Joint Expert Committee of Food Safety succeeded in getting the body to declare that rBGH was safe, despite the evidence.

Monsanto was also instrumental in getting Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) inserted into World Trade Organisation rules. This meant that any patent gained in the US automatically applied anywhere in the world, netting hundreds of millions of dollars extra in royalties for Monsanto.

The wording in the EPA toxicity report on PCBs was also changed on Monsanto's request from "slightly tumorigenic" to "does not appear to be carcinogenic".

Monsanto spends millions of dollars fighting proposed GM labelling laws for food. A 2014 Oregon referendum on whether to impose GM labelling cost the company $6 million to fight. The referendum was narrowly lost after Monsanto successfully convinced enough people that labelling would lead to higher food costs.

Surveys show that more than 90% of US citizens want GM labelling. The GMO lobby is trying to get a law passed in Congress to prevent government agencies from ever introducing GMO labelling laws.

African governments are now being targeted to accept GM seeds -- South Africa is one of the few that does. Bill Gates' Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is one of the pushers.

Monsanto is part of AGRA management and Gates has $23 million worth of shares in Monsanto. The Clinton Global Initiative and US Aid for International Development also partner with Monsanto.

Market Access
Along with the glowing advertising that promises higher yields for lower costs, which Monsanto uses around the world to entice farmers to buy its products, less open tactics are also used to grow its market.

For instance, vets in the US were paid $300 for each of their clients that adopted rBGH.
In the case of South America, the penetration of GM soy has been extraordinarily successful. Argentina was an early approver of GM products, but neighbouring Brazil and Paraguay initially refused to allow it.

However, GM soy seeds were smuggled in from Argentina in unmarked bags in huge quantities. These seeds were used by large farmers illegally to such an extent that the governments of Brazil and Paraguay were forced to change the law to make it legal.

It is suspected, but not proven, that Monsanto was involved in this introduction -- it was certainly a huge beneficiary.

The extent to which Monsanto uses bribery is not known. One example that was revealed was the $700,000 paid to Indonesian officials between 1997 and 2002 to facilitate the introduction of GM cotton to that country. The US Department of Justice fined Monsanto $1.5 million for this bribery.

Data Falsification and Concealment
Regulators do very little testing of pesticides and GMO products, instead relying on the data provided by the companies requesting approval.

Monsanto has been caught falsifying studies on PCB; 2,4,5-T; and dioxin. It also concealed dioxin levels in Agent Orange (the defoliant used in the Vietnam War) to maintain that lucrative market. Adverse data were destroyed or withheld.

Monsanto's own adverse findings on rGBH were kept secret until leaked by an employee.

Independent studies on Roundup found that the full formulation was much more toxic than glyphosate, the active ingredient, itself. Monsanto's tests were only conducted on glyphosate, not Roundup.

Public laboratories are reluctant to conduct research on Roundup and other product toxicity because most biotechnology research is only funded by the biotechnology companies. Researchers know their careers will suffer if they do this type of research. Monsanto refuses to supply GM seeds for independent research.

Buyers of GM seeds must sign an agreement not to use the seeds or crop for research. In the few cases where permission is granted, Monsanto retains the right to block publication of the results.

Scientists who identify problems with Monsanto technologies are vilified. These have included the University of California, Berkeley researchers David Quist and Ignacio Chapela, who found GM contamination in indigenous corn in Mexico where GM corn is not authorised.

Chapela was dismissed from the university and their report in the journal Nature was repudiated by the editors. Much of Nature's advertising revenue comes from biotech companies.  Monsanto also ridiculed studies that found GM corn was killing the monarch butterfly.

Threats and Litigation
Whistleblowers in the EPA have been harassed, marginalised, defamed and often sacked.

Vietnam veterans claiming compensation from Monsanto because of chemical poisoning by Agent Orange were fought bitterly by Monsanto to exhaust the litigants' reserves. The final settlement in 1984 amounted to $12,000 for each claimant, spread over 10 years. It came with a proviso that made them ineligible for pensions, state assistance and food stamps -- meaning most veterans got nothing.

Farmers using rGBH have to sign a confidentiality agreement to not talk about any problems they find with cow health. Some farmers have been sued for doing so.

Farmers buying GM seed have to sign a "technology use agreement" not to re-sow seed, and to use only Roundup herbicide, not any other brand, on Roundup Ready crops (crops engineered to be unaffected by Roundup). They also have to agree to the right of inspection by Monsanto, which uses the Pinkerton Detective Agency in the US and Robinsons in Canada to enforce this agreement.

Farmers found to have GM crops that they have not paid royalties for are sued -- even if the plants have regenerated naturally or are the result of cross pollination by neighbouring GM crops. A total of $23 million in patent infringement law suits had been collected by Monsanto by 2014.

In 2005, the average suing per farmer amounted to $412,000, but many farmers settle out of court to avoid court costs, even if they are innocent. They are not permitted to disclose the settlement figures.

Media organisations have been threatened with litigation and withdrawal of Monsanto advertising for reporting adverse findings relating to rGBH.

A report by Gilles-Eric Seralini in 2012 on his trials of Roundup Ready maize that showed liver and kidney damage was withdrawn from the Food and Chemical Toxicity journal after a year of pressure and the appointment of a former Monsanto scientist to the editorial board.

In an April 2015 article titled "Is Monsanto on the side of science?", New Internationalist listed several examples of scientists reporting findings adverse to Monsanto who have found themselves under attack. One of them, Italian Manuela Malatesta, said she was forced out of her university job as a researcher after publishing her studies on GM soy that found malfunctioning of testes, pancreas and liver in mice.

Malatesta said:
"Research on GMOs is now taboo. You can't find money for it…

"People don't want to find answers to troubling questions. It's the result of widespread fear of Monsanto and GMOs in general."
A trade group including Monsanto also backed a proposed federal law that would nullify the state of Vermont's law enforcing GMO labelling and any other mandatory labelling of GMOs in the United States.

Promise Versus Reality
In its advertising, Monsanto promises higher returns for farmers if they plant GM crops. Initially this does happen, but within a few years the costs multiply because pests become immune to toxins inserted into corn, soy and cotton, and weeds became resistant to Roundup used on Roundup Ready corn, soy, canola and cotton.

Damage to soil biology by the heightened use of Roundup cause outbreaks of root rotting diseases (Fusarium and Rhizoctonia) and restricted the Rhizobium bacteria that create nitrogen on soy roots, so that more fertiliser is needed.

Yields decrease. Soon GM crops become less profitable than non-GM; the difference in the US is made up by increased government subsidies to farmers. GM seeds cost three-to-four times more than non-GM. Even the US Department of Agriculture acknowledged in 2014 that yields are lower for GM crops, particularly soy.

Monsanto promises lower pesticide use. In the US, pesticide use (including herbicides) increased 7% between 1996 and 2001, while in Western Europe, using non-GM crops, pesticide use dramatically fell in that period with increased yields.

Monsanto insists that GM technology and Roundup are safe, yet the independent studies that have been done point to the opposite.

The widespread use of Roundup Ready GM crops since 1996 has corresponded with a dramatic rise in illnesses such as coeliac disease, gluten intolerance, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Cause is hard to prove, but the damage that Roundup does to intestinal microbiology has significantly decreased bodily and immune system function, according to Dr Don Huber, making it a likely factor in the disorders.

Glyphosate is also patented as an antibiotic, not just a herbicide. In the US, almost all processed foods contain GM soy and/or corn products (80%). People living in areas of intensively cultivated GM soy in Argentina are twice as likely to die of cancer. Levels of glyphosate in urine in the US are 10 times the levels of people in Europe.

The glowing promises of GM Bollgard cotton in India have had disastrous results. The crops did not perform well in the monsoon conditions of wet and dry, the fibre was shorter and brought a lower price, the seeds cost four times as much as non-GM, and pests proliferated. Non-GM seeds became unavailable as local suppliers only stocked Bollgard, with the support of state governments.

The resulting indebtedness has caused many farmer suicides -- 296,400 cotton farmers took their lives in 20 years (often by drinking Roundup).

Flooding the Market
Monsanto promised that GM and non-GM crops could co-exist. The reality is that GM genes spread far and wide through cross pollination by bees and wind. All canola seeds in Canada, including non-GM seeds, have GM genes, which has eliminated organic canola growing.

Indeed, this was the goal of Monsanto, as Don Westfall, a consultant to biotech companies, said in 2001: "The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender."

GMO advocates say that the technology is essential to feed the world. Yet the world already produces enough food for the expected population of the world in 2050. Hunger is not a production issue but one of social justice.

Even the wealthiest countries with abundant food have significant percentages of food insecure people (10% in Australia).

Almost all GM crops so far developed have been for herbicide tolerance (85%, so the whole crop can be sprayed to kill the weeds) or contain the toxin of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Golden Rice, engineered to increase vitamin A levels, failed because the increase was marginal, and has been abandoned.

Other promised miracles including drought and salt tolerant wheat have not materialised, though might in the future. On the other hand, conventional plant breeding has been far more successful at achieving sustainability goals.

Some Victories
Monsanto has not had everything go its own way. On occasions its arrogance and deceit has backfired.

In the criminal trial in 2002 over the poisoning of residents in Anniston, Mississippi, by the Monsanto PCB factory, a US judge said Monsanto's conduct was "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society".

Craven Laboratories, acting for Monsanto, was heavily fined for falsifying test data and its owner was sentenced to five years' jail.

Monsanto claimed in its promotional material that glyphosate was less toxic than table salt, was 100% biodegradable, and left no residue in soil. In 1996, this was challenged in court by the New York State attorney-general as false and misleading advertising. Monsanto lost.

In France's north-west, the Brittany Water and Rivers association also sued Monsanto for misleading advertising, as residues in rivers were found to be well above the legal threshold for glyphosate.
Although the case was successful, Monsanto's penalty was merely €15,000 after a seven-year court battle.

In 2005, to avoid the costly investigating and suing of farmers suspected of saving the seed of patented varieties, Monsanto acquired a company that had developed the Terminator gene.

The aim was to insert this gene into all patented varieties, GM and non-GM, so that the next generation would not germinate. A worldwide outcry led to the international community deciding to ban this technology.

However, some countries, including Australia and the US, want this ban overturned.

Monsanto's dream of Roundup Ready wheat was defeated in 2004 because farmers in North America fought it successfully. Farmers were concerned that they would lose markets, because Europe, Japan and some other countries said they would not import any wheat from North America because of inevitable contamination.

Canadian canola growers have lost much of their market already. Monsanto withdrew its application for approval.

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld a ruling fining Monsanto $93 million for poisoning the town of Nitro with Agent Orange chemicals.

Gaining Control
Monsanto's strategy in getting control of the world's food system has so far been successful, relying on government support, effective advertising, intimidation and litigation.

But public opposition is mounting. Huge numbers of people around the world took part in the March Against Monsanto in 2015. The organic industry in the US is booming because this is the only way consumers can choose non-GM foods. Farmers are starting to reject GM seeds. However, there is a long way to go before Monsanto falls.

It was public action that led to the ban on PCBs and the hormonal herbicide 2,4,5-T.

In Australia we must continue to support the South Australian and Tasmanian GMO moratoria and pressure other governments to withdraw approval for GM canola and cotton and continue to block GM soy and corn.

We must support ecological farming systems that do not need the inputs provided by Monsanto or any of the other pesticide, seed and GMO conglomerates.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
 
• Alan Broughton is a member of the Socialist Alliance and involved with the Organic Agriculture Association. Along with Elena Garcia, he is a co-author of the recently released Sustainable Agriculture Versus Corporate Greed, Resistance Books, 2017.

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Ending energy-related CO2 possible

SUBHEAD: Renewables need to account for the majority (virtually all) of power generation in 2050.

By Public Relations on 19 March 2017 for IRENA -
(http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=3828)


Image above: A demonstration of resilient 19th century technology that will likely be using in 2050. This is the largest operational waterwheel in the world built in 1854 on the Isle of Man. Designed by Robert Casement, it has a 72-foot diameter, is 6 feetwide and was built to pump water from mineshafts. From (http://exotixaworld.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-worlds-largest-water-wheel-laxey.html).

[IB Publisher's note: This is a press release from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is too optimistic in our opinion. We agree on two things. One: By 2050 fossil fuels will not play the dominant role it does in modern industrial civilization. Two: We will be depending on renewable energy for most every task. The problem will be that transportation by plane, truck, rail and ship will be a mere shadow of what it is today. And we will not be able to depend on high-tech, big-agribusiness or modern industrial output to support our "modern" lifestyles. For replacement we will be back to draft animals and manual labor for many tasks... but that's okay, considering the alternatives.]

Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, according to new findings released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition, launched on the occasion of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change.

“The Paris Agreement reflected an unprecedented international determination to act on climate. The focus must be on the decarbonision of the global energy system as it accounts for almost two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

Critically, the economic case for the energy transition has never been stronger. Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil-fuel power plants.

And through 2050, the decarbonisation can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables.

“We are in a good position to transform the global energy system but success will depend on urgent action, as delays will raise the costs of decarbonisation,” added Mr. Amin.

While overall the energy investment needed for decarbonising the energy sector is substantial – an additional USD 29 trillion until 2050 – it amounts to a small share (0.4%) of global GDP.

Furthermore, IRENA’s macroeconomic analysis suggests that such investment creates a stimulus that, together with other pro-growth policies, will:

  • boost global GDP by 0.8% in 2050;
  • generate new jobs in the renewable energy sector that would more than offset job losses in the fossil fuel industry, with further jobs being created by energy efficiency activities, and;
  • improve environmental and human health benefits thanks to reduced air pollution.
Globally, 32 gigatonnes (Gt) of energy-related CO2 were emitted in 2015. The report states that emissions will need to fall continuously to 9.5 Gt by 2050 to limit warming to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. 90% of this energy CO2 emission reduction can be achieved through expanding renewable energy deployment and improving energy efficiency.

Renewable energy now accounts for 24% of global power generation and 16% of primary energy supply.

To achieve decarbonisation, the report states that, by 2050, renewables should be 80% of power generation and 65% of total primary energy supply.

The report also describes how the energy sector transition needs to go beyond the power sector into all end-use sectors.

Renewables need to account for the majority of power generation in 2050, based on continued rapid growth especially for solar and wind power in combination with enabling grids and new operating practices.

But also, the buildings, industry and transport sectors need more bioenergy, solar heating and electricity from renewable sources that substitute conventional energy.

Electric vehicles need to become the predominant car type in 2050. Liquid biofuel production must grow ten-fold. High efficiency all-electric buildings should become the norm. Deployment of heat pumps must accelerate and a combined total of 2 billion buildings will need to be new built or renovated.

The report calls for policy efforts to create an enabling framework and re-design of energy markets.

Stronger price signals and carbon pricing can help provide a level playing field when complemented by other measures, and the report emphasizes the importance of considering needs of those without energy access.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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"Trump Administration" is oxymoron

SUBHEAD: The sloppiness is a sign of the contempt with which Team Trump views government itself. 

By Howard Fineman on 19 March 2017 for Huffington Post  -
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-trump-administration-is-an-oxymoron_us_58cb1996e4b00705db4dd6ae)


Image above: Team Trump  L-R - Senior White House Policy Adviser Stephen Miller, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, (former) National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at a press conference with President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the East Room at the White House, February 13 in Washington. From original article.

Donald Trump took the oath of office two months ago, but is not yet running a real presidency. His administration, thus far, largely is playing like a junta that surprised the royal guards and seized the palace ― while still remaining unable to pacify the capital city, let alone inspire the countryside.

The White House is as stately as ever, but there aren’t enough friends outside the (porous) iron fence to make the inhabitants as comfortable as they should be in the first months of a new regime.

Rather, Trump is under siege from pretty much all sides.

Federal courts again are slapping down Trump’s first, signature move: a temporary travel ban on citizens from predominantly Muslim countries that he says harbor “radical Islamic terrorists.”

The joint Trump-GOP effort to “repeal and replace” Obamacare ― another key first promise and response ― is bogged down in multiple internal Republican divisions over everything from spending numbers to philosophy to legislative strategy.

With growing sharpness and specificity, GOP leaders are joining Democrats in dismissing as flat-out false the president’s repeatedly tweeted charge that former President Barack Obama “tapped” ― or surveilled in any way ― Trump Tower or its owner.

Trump’s new guns-and-no-butter first budget, which would literally take food from the poor and the elderly to give more money to Pentagon contractors, has been greeted with derision by many Republicans, who regard it as less of a blueprint than a political statement too harsh even for the tea party.

The nonpartisan polling “job approval” numbers for Trump have been in the 40s consistently in the first few months, and are the lowest launch average on record for a new president.

Trump has had his successes. They include the assembly, after some fits and starts, of a good ― or at least credible ― national security team of respected current and former members of the military or Congress.

As a result, there is a solid chain of command for Trump in his role as commander in chief.

He nominated a man to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, to whom the American Bar Association gave a sterling endorsement.

Trump has issued some executive orders that make good on other campaign promises ― such as the gutting of EPA regulations on the use of coal, building pipelines, getting out of multilateral trade treaties and instituting tougher domestic rules on the apprehension and repatriation of undocumented immigrants.

His tweets and campaign-style speeches, vowing tax cuts and the twisting of corporate arms to “buy and build American,” have had an effect: The stock market has been on a wild run.

But these successful measures ― the exception to the general pattern ― were comparatively amenable to direct White House control.

Everything else is harder to control or even withstand. And the dangers of drift are real. He elicited a new sense of hope from white working-class voters; their cynicism will deepen if he doesn’t deliver the jobs ― especially since his proposed new budget cuts are aimed at programs in rural counties.

Trump could well be tempted by the slow pace of change to ignore the law, especially since his aides, led by Steven Bannon, are telling him that the so-called “deep state” is itself a lawless force and is out to get him to preserve its own status.

He could use military confrontation ― such as the one brewing now with North Korea ― to emphasize the broad powers of a commander-in-chief who can’t be easily countermanded by institutions that constrain him now.

Another terrorist attack on the “homeland” would give him a rationale ― if not justification ― for sweeping new executive actions in the United States.

Leaders around the world, already confused and unsure of American leadership, could distance themselves further from U.S. aims and interests ― no matter how much more money Trump spends on modernizing the military and putting boots on the ground.

Why does a man who claims such great success as a business manager seem so overwhelmed?

Democrats have taken their time filling his Cabinet, arguing, with much justification, that Trump had presented them with a roster of conflict-laden billionaires and ideologues antagonistic to the goals of the departments they had been nominated to lead. But there a host of in-house reasons for the first months’ mess. Here they are:

He only wants to talk to people who have no choice but to agree with him, or who are glad to tell him why his enemies are scum.

I know poll-takers who shied away from doing polls for Trump because they knew that the numbers would not be favorable ― and that Trump therefore would never hire them. “I turned down lots of jobs with him for that reason,” one of them told me. “You never give Trump bad news.”

Which means that he is constantly infuriated when his yes men are forced to tell him the world says “no.”

He has to lash out somewhere, and that place is still Twitter.
 The Trump administration has been annoyed and distracted for a week ― a crucial week on the budget and on health care, among other things ― by the president’s false accusation of Obama’s purported “tapping.” He never should have said it. But he almost always does.

D.C. is not New York - politics is not real estate.


Trump’s tactical principle is that if someone “hits” you, you “hit back twice as hard.” I have heard him say it in private as well as in public, and it is a method he has used since he came to Manhattan decades ago with a million bucks from his dad.

But the paradox of the presidency is this: You are the most powerful person in the world, but in dealing with the rest of government and all of politics, it’s better not to make threats, and certainly not threats in public. Everything Trump thought he knew about how to get things done in the midst of controversy is wrong now.

This is not a parliamentary system, it just looks like one. 
 The Founding Fathers knew that parliaments could be dictatorial, which is why they chose not to have one. They dispersed and divided power. Even when one American party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress, a president’s clout is limited by the size of the majorities, legislative rules and the courts.

Trump can almost be forgiven for thinking that he had parliamentary power: Politics in America has been drifting in the one-party-rules direction for years. Obama passed his health care bill with only Democratic votes; Trump figured he could pass his with only the GOP. That already has been proven to be a faulty assumption.

The GOP doesn’t really like him, and the feeling is mutual.
 Unlike Ronald Reagan, Trump did not build from the ground up a new party and a new movement that he then led in the White House. Trump essentially carried out a hostile takeover of the rundown hulk of the GOP, battered by the unpopular presidency of George W. Bush and the rebellious internal assaults of the tea party.

Virtually every key figure in the House and Senate was for someone other than Trump, and some of them ran against him. Trump swept the primaries with money and jingoistic salesmanship, but he remains widely distrusted ideologically and personally on all sides.

Trump & Co. were elected because they’d had nothing to do with government ― and it shows.
 The “transition planning” cobbled together by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was a joke, and even that work was ignored by the coup plotters who burst into the White House. Almost no one in Trump’s inner circle had any executive experience in government. The list of rank amateurs in the highest places includes son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief of staff Reince Priebus, policy strategist Stephen Miller and counselor Kellyanne Conway. They are big into concepts and messages ― sales, Trump style ― but so far not the blocking and tackling of running things.

Benign neglect. 


If they want, the amateurs can console themselves with a semi-philosophical excuse: The government, which they regard as too big and too intrusive, can use a little neglect.

And so we see unfilled sub-Cabinet posts, catch-as-catch-can administrative oversight, rule by fiat that demoralizes the denizens of what White House Big Thinker Steve Bannon calls “the administrative state.” Misusing a fancy academic word, he says he’s for “deconstructing” it ― and why not do it by not filling positions or following procedure?

Worse: a contempt for the process of government. 
 Republicans have joined Democrats in marveling at the sophomoric crafting of something as valuable to Trump ― allegedly ― as his moratoria on travel to the U.S. by citizens of six (originally seven) Muslim-majority countries.

But the sloppiness is a sign of the contempt with which Team Trump views government itself.

Yes, the Obama Nerds went over the line ― for example, some of what they did on drones is outrageous, many argue. But perhaps because they were Democrats (and lawyers for the most part, led by Obama himself), they showed enough respect for procedure to get things done.


What goes around comes around. 


 Team Trump seems shocked and outraged that so many forces in public life seemed arrayed against him, almost by instinct.

What did he expect?
  • He attacked the press at every turn, and at his rallies he all but sicced rabble-rousers on them. 
  • He attacked a federal judge as biased because he was of Mexican heritage. 
  • He called his rivals for the GOP nomination by crude nicknames, and reveled publicly in their humiliation. 
  • He hired and fired at will, dismissing aides but pulling them back in (because they could cause trouble for him in one way or another) with flattering phone calls.
The Senate alone is a monument to possible payback. Do “Lyin’” Ted Cruz, “Little Marco” Rubio, “One-Percent” Lindsey Graham, “Crazy” Rand Paul and “He’s No Hero” John McCain want to help the president out in a pinch?

Trump tried to have House Speaker Paul Ryan defeated in his local GOP primary in Wisconsin. Yes, Rubio and Cruz accepted dinner invitations at the White House. They said they had fun, but revenge is a meal best served cold.

Money isn’t everything in D.C.
With his proud contempt for ethics ― or even the need to appear ethical ― Trump and his family are making a mockery of the notion that public service is a selfless exercise in patriotism.

Trump has turned the presidency, at least in part, into a commercial enterprise that is enriching his family wealth.

But as cool as that might seem in at least in some avaricious circles in Manhattan and Palm Beach, it doesn’t impress anyone in Washington, a city that needs money, but that doesn’t really value it per se.

Money can buy you the White House, as Trump proved, but it can’t buy you D.C. Trump has yet to understand that people in the city care about the law, or at least procedure, because it is power.


Image above: The controversial artwork of Trump in front of mushroom clouds and flanked by dollar signs that look like dollar signs shaped liek swastikas appeared in Phoenix on Friday. Owner of sign says billboard will stay up as long as Trump is President. In the days since, California-based artist Karen Fiorito says she’s received death threats. From (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/anti-trump-billboard-sparks-outrage_us_58ce7dfde4b0ec9d29dcb8c6).

Bannonism.

A master of cunning, apocalyptic, xenophobic narrative, Steve Bannon has given Trump a grander mission ― that of saving the Christian West from Islam, materialism, Wall Street, Hollywood, the Ivy League and the “Mainstream Media.”

Reared and educated in a blue-collar, conservative Catholic family in Virginia, Bannon’s radical medievalism fits Trump’s royal conception of himself.

But the risk is that the president will remain oblivious to what is going on outside the reality TV show Bannon has designed for him to live in, or that Trump will think that he has the kind of kingly authority that allows him to ignore the best parts of the Founders’ vision of a pluralistic, secular and welcoming America.

Too many cooks.
Bannon is not the only power center, despite having placed himself on the National Security Council and having created a new “Strategic Initiative Group” inside the White House with himself as head.

Other power centers (for now) include Vice President Mike Pence, Priebus and Kushner, not to mention Hill leaders. So who controls the message in these crucial days and weeks?

No one, except perhaps the person who has created the most trouble for the White House: Donald J. Trump.

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Brown plume at HDF dairy site

SUBHEAD: Runoff from Waiopili Stream already highest in enterococcus bacteria count on Kauai.

By Bridget Hammerquist for The Garden Island on 18 March 2017
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/guest/brown-water-plume-indicator-of-trouble/article_060e1f62-7276-5945-a775-0759b7ec0741.html)


Image above: Still frame of video showing the mouth of the Waiopili Stream in Mahaulepu running brown. rom (http://friendsofmahaulepu.org/additional-videos/).

[IB Publisher's note: The Surfrider Kauai Blue Water Task Force regularly measures bacterial counts at sites across Kauai. Typically Waiopili Stream in Mahaulepu has highest enterococcus bacterial counts of any site. For example the March 11 report read a one day reading of  6,402.8 bacteria per 100ml of water whereasWaiohai Surf in Poipu had a 2.3 bacteria per 100ml. Having no dairy farm in Mahaulepu is a no brainer.]

On March 11th, 2017, TGI reported “High bacteria counts in Waiopili Stream raise questions about dairy.” Recent high fecal bacteria results detected by DOH at 12 locations, beginning at the top of HDF’s site, down to the ocean, confirm that adding cows and untreated manure cannot be good. As reported by TGI, an extensive ditch network drains HDF’s site to the ocean via the Waiopili.

Why were these test results so significant, because after millions of gallons of rainfall the dilution did not take care of the pollution? The greatest pollution was found in the center of the HDF property. There is little question about the severity of this pollution. In July of 2016, the EPA told the Department of Health that warning signs “must” be posted because of significant health risks.

 In comments to TGI, HDF suggests that community resources would be better spent to determine the cause of the pollution than objecting to HDF. The community does not have access to the dairy site and its resources do not compare to HDF billionaire owner, Pierre Omidyar. Rather, why isn’t billionaire owner of Grove Farm, Steve Case and lessee, Omidyar and HDF, using their resources to determine the cause of the extreme pollution on their property?

HDF’s position that its dairy would improve water quality boggles the mind. How could a large animal operation, with untreated waste left where if falls or sprayed onto pastures from their effluent holding ponds, improve the quality of water?

Many observed and photographed the brown plume running from the Waiopili, traveling with the current to Shipwreck, Brenneke and onto Poipu Beach. View photos at friendsofmahaulepu.org. Imagine if that plume had been carrying bacteria from millions of pounds of wet manure.

 Initially, HDF reported that their cows would weigh 1,210 pounds and produce 143 pouds of wet manure daily. In a recent “Update” to DOH, HDF revised each cow’s expected weight to 1,200 pounds and waste to 90 pounds daily. HDF’s starting herd of 699 would produce 1.9 million pounds of wet manure monthly. If they expand the herd to 2,000, the waste would triple. HDF feels the public should look at their industrial dairy as beneficial. Really?

Is HDF’s dismay at public reaction real or feigned? Several recent letters to the editor reveal a clear objection to HDF’s industrial dairy, location. Nothing could have underscored this better than the recent winter storm. According to NOAA, Mahaulepu weather station registered 4.85 inches, March 1-2. The USGS rainfall calculator shows this added at least 75,600,000 gallons of water to the Valley floor (75 times the capacity of HDF’s effluent ponds).

In speaking with their hydrologist, NOAA confirmed that the 75-plus million gallons did not include considerable runoff from the adjacent Haupu Ridge, which HDF admits drains onto their site (FEIS Vol. 2, pdf page 273-278).

HDF proposes an earthen containment berm with vegetation. What will that create? A pool of manure and urine on top of our aquifer? What doesn’t leach into the ground water will drain into the ocean as the recent storm clearly showed.

If HDF’s FEIS proved the safety of its operation, why was it withdrawn? FOM’s data confirms: It is unsafe and a critical risk to our drinking water and the ocean to add animal manure to this valley. The natural drainage of the valley, its springs, streams and high water table make containment of dairy waste impossible.

• Bridget Hammerquist is president of Friends of Maha‘ulepu.

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See film "Okinawa: The Afterburn"

SOURCE: Katherine Muzik PHD (kmuzik@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Okinawans stand out for the tenacity and, at times, ferocity of their opposition to US military.

By Juan Wilson on 18 March 2017 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2017/03/see-film-okinawa-afterburn.html)


Image above: Still frame from movie trailer "The Okinawa: Afterburn" shows sign reading "Ospreys Out! Marines Out!" That's one reason we see the Marines' Ospreys on Kauai now.

If you don't smell the acrid smoke yet you should be better aware. Kauai is heading for something like the occupation the US military has visited on the Japanese island of Okinawa since the end of World War II.

There is a planned military build up here and it will have most effect the south and west side of our island.

The Federal Missile Defense Agency is looking to convert Navy's Aegis research base at PMRF into a permanent missile base.

The US Marine's unstable Osprey helicopter program is going to be using the Na Pali Coast as a "training" environment.

To top it off the US Air Force 86th Fighter Squadron has a five year plan to practice attacking the Pacific Ocean, and it denizens from the runways of the PMRF.

That's just for starters. With Trump facing off against the Chinese and North Koreans expect a lot worse to come soon.

For an idea of the impact on Kauai I advise you look at what the US military has done to Okinawa see "The Afterburn".


Image above: Poster foe showing of "The Okinawa: Afterburn" on Kauai.

See movie "Okinawa: The Afterburn" about American military occupation of Okinwawa
Narration in English. Q/A with director John Junkerman to follow the film.

WHEN:
April 8th 2017 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm

WHERE: 
Kealia Farm Market
Across the highway from the north end of Kealea Beach in Kapaa

"Afterburn" is the first comprehensive history of the United States military destruction of Okinawa from World War II to now. The Kauai screening is endorsed by the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, Koloha Leo and Kulu Wai.

REVIEW:
John Junkerman documentary ‘Okinawa: The Afterburn’ sheds light on the ferocious anger against U.S. bases.


Video above:  "Okinawa: The Afterburn" trailer. From (https://youtu.be/0D03LeeZe-U)

By Mark Schilling on 17 June 2015 for Japan Times -
(http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2015/06/17/films/film-reviews/john-junkerman-documentary-okinawa-afterburn-sheds-light-ferocious-anger-u-s-bases/#.WM2Bk47atE4)

The issue of the large U.S. military presence in Okinawa is divisive, deeply rooted and, frankly, one I have never completely understood. Anti-base protests have been going on for decades, and while locals elsewhere in the developed world may have been unhappy with the bases in their vicinity, the Okinawans stand out for the tenacity and, at times, ferocity of their opposition. What keeps them going?

John Junkerman’s documentary “Okinawa: The Afterburn” (“Okinawa: Urizun no Ame”) sheds more light on this question than any of the other Okinawan-themed films I have seen, fiction or nonfiction.

As a former Okinawa resident who has lived in Japan for nearly four decades, Junkerman is unabashedly on the side of the protesters (in a program note he describes the Okinawan islands as “spoils of war”), but he presents both sides without strident editorializing.

He has also found archival footage and living witnesses to Okinawa’s troubled history, which illuminate — far more brightly than the standard journalistic regurgitation of facts and figures — why Okinawans continue to resist the bases 70 years after the Battle of Okinawa began on April 1, 1945.

The film begins with an account of that battle, accompanied by interviews with elderly but articulate survivors — Japanese, Okinawans and Americans.

One survivor of the battle is former Okinawa governor and anti-base activist Masahide Ota. “A lot people here say that battle still continues. That has certainly been true for me,” he says.

Another is Masa Inafuku, who served as a 17-year-old student nurse at the height of fighting. “There was no place in the world where the fighting was so futile,” she says.

Still another is Kamado Chibana, who was 26 when 83 civilians hiding in a cave with her committed group suicide rather than surrender to the Americans, despite assurances from Japanese-fluent soldiers that they wouldn’t be harmed.

These and other testimonies are illustrated by rarely seen color footage of the battle and its aftermath, showing soldiers with what former sergeant Leonard Lazarick describes as “thousand-yard stares,” as well as emaciated Okinawan civilians on the brink of collapse.

The film follows the story of these survivors and the succeeding generations, as Okinawa became a key launch pad for U.S. wars in Asia and the Middle East.

In the 1960s, local activists campaigned for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan from the U.S., who were then ruling the island as a military protectorate. “Japan didn’t fight wars, had no nuclear weapons and its economy was booming,” explains Eiko Asato, a writer who was a teenage activist at the time.

After Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, however, locals soon realized that the bases would remain, with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s support, together with all the problems that had long accompanied them.

The film focuses on sexual violence perpetrated by U.S. soldiers on Okinawan women and others in the military, male and female. Witnesses from both sides testify, including a former soldier involved in a highly publicized 1995 group rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl.

The film concludes with an overview of ongoing disputes, including the protests over the construction of a new U.S. base in Nago’s Henoko district, which — after the intense opening sections — feels slightly scattershot. But it’s hard to neatly tie up the 70-year history of the U.S. military on the island with a bow, as the struggle continues.

Despite its English subtitle, “Afterburn” — a reference to Okinawa’s long postwar trauma — the film does not view the struggle as never-ending. The Japanese title, “Urizun no Ame,” means “the rains that herald spring” — the season of hope.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: USMC contaminates Okinawa bases 2/20/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Anger is Past its Limit 6/21/16
Island Breath: America Rex 1/30/07
Island Breath: Militarism in Hawaii 4/29/04

For a special look into the mindset of US Marines in Okinawa check out "It's Universal"

Ea O Ka Aina: It's Universal
1/1/09
How the US Marines behave in Okinawa illustrate how crazy we are.


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