World News

Extreme Weather Watch: February 2015 Sets Records for Snow and Cold

March 16, 2015 by John Lawrence

weather5By John Lawrence

Many records for snowfall and extreme cold were set in February. Some might think this is a sign of the nonexistence of global warming, but they would be wrong.

Maybe the terminology should be more appropriately “climate change,” but global warming still holds if the average surface air temperature sets records as it did in 2014 despite extreme cold in the northeast US.

It remains to be seen if extreme heat elsewhere in the world will make up for the extreme cold over much of the eastern half of the US in 2015.

Amid the extreme cold and snowfall records in the eastern half of the US, February also set a record for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. For the first time in February the earth’s average carbon dioxide level was above 400 ppm. Last year, the monthly average didn’t go above that level until April, which was the first month in human history with carbon dioxide levels that high.

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San Diegans Mobilize for Government Action on Climate Change

March 16, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for San Diegans Mobilize for Government Action on Climate Change

On a hot afternoon last Sunday, March 15th, 250 San Diegans rallied and marched – and called on the US government to act on the climate change crisis.

About 150 demonstrators had gathered by 2 pm at the San Diego Civic Center Plaza, as the band the Swamp Critters encouraged them through song to come out and protest. Organized by a loose coalition that involved OB’s People’s Food Store Cooperative and the OB Green Store, as well as the Sierra Club, 350.org, and a couple of Democratic clubs – from Pt Loma and La Jolla, the protest was part of a series the coalition plans leading up to next November.

After a few speakers, the group pushed out of the Plaza, down 3rd Avenue and Broadway, taking the short walk in the streets to the Federal Building. A few police cars escorted the peaceful march the few blocks that then gathered for a second rally. Once in the shade of the massive Federal Building, another band welcomed the crowd. A dozen people got up and danced to the music of Captain Viejo before a few more speakers thanked and exhorted those present to continue the struggle.

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The Battle Over Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

March 16, 2015 by Jim Miller

stop-tpp-700By Jim Miller

Just as the folks in the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) were gearing up to marginalize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Elizabeth Warren struck back with what even CNN reported as “a push to kill major trade negotiations” being championed by President Obama and previously supported by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

And it’s a very good thing that Warren has elevated the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the national media because proponents of this deal have done everything they can to keep the details secret.

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Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 4

February 25, 2015 by John Lawrence

Extremely Slow Progress Converting to Renewables in Face of Huge Increase in CO2 Emissions: What Are the Trends?

rising sea levelsBy Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Part 3 can be found here

Parts 1 and 2 address the psychological denial mechanisms and economics behind the world’s ingrained obsession with increasing GDP rates, despite their environmentally cancerous impact. Naturally, developing countries want the same material benefits from boundless GDP growth and unlimited resource development that advanced countries have long been exploiting.

This abets the idea that, as long as people make money from despoiling the atmosphere and climate, the Market should have its free reins forever. The Market is assumed to be the best arbiter of our planet’s ecological stability, but that is patently false. In reality, the Market exploits the environment and now it is becoming clear that increasing population and economic growth fueled by fossil fuels do so as well.

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The Dark Truth Behind Quinoa – the Popular Superfood

February 20, 2015 by Source

As the hype around quinoa builds, so do big questions about the problems with its production.

By Jill Richardson / AlterNet

Chenopodium quinoa in flower. / commons.wikimedia.com

Quinoa is rising up the popularity charts as a food staple in U.S. and Europe. A growing spate of positive coverage cites quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) as a high-protein grain-like relative of spinach and beets which is a newly discovered gluten-free superfood. Its growing popularity has also spawned a growing source of controversy, following reports that high global quinoa prices put the crop out of reach for the people who grow it.

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The San Salvador and Junipero Serra: Celebrating Spanish Catholic Domination

February 17, 2015 by Source
Thumbnail image for The San Salvador and Junipero Serra: Celebrating Spanish Catholic Domination

By Steven Newcomb

Early this year, 2015, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is scheduled to launch a replica of the colonizing Spanish ship called “San Salvador” (“Holy Savior”). That was the ship which Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, in 1542, sailed into the Kumeyaay bay of the Kumeyaay Nation’s territory. As a result of that voyage, the society of the United States now typically calls that bay, and the city adjacent to it, by the Catholic name, “San Diego” (“Saint Diego”).

Cabrillo sailed up the Baja peninsula under a royal commission that the Spanish crown had granted to a vicious and deadly psychopath, a conquistador named Pedro Alvarado. The royal commission authorized Alvarado “to discover and conquer” places he was able to reach by sailing northward along the Baja peninsula. When Alvarado was killed in Guatemala, the Spanish viceroy charged Cabrillo with sailing north on the basis of that royal commission.

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It Was Syrian Kurd Leftists Who Kicked Islamic State Out of Kobani

February 16, 2015 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for It Was Syrian Kurd Leftists Who Kicked Islamic State Out of Kobani

In international news, the recent liberation of the Syrian city of Kobani from the control of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters by Syrian Kurd rebels was a little reported story which popped up briefly for its 15 minutes on the mainstream media roulette wheel of fame. Then it disappeared. But the under-reported little story – a story with a huge irony – deserves retelling.

The story – which can be pieced together from a number of media reports – involves the identity of the major fighting force that kicked ISIS out of Kobani, a city of 200,000 mainly ethnic Kurds in north Syria, a stone’s throw from the Turkish border.

It turns out it was a group of Syrian Kurd leftists who kicked ISIS’ ass, if you forgive the vernacular, after 4 months of intense house-to-house fighting, at times room-to-room, and pushed them out of the city entirely. It was the People’s Protection Units, a local leftist organization, and its affiliate, the Women’s Protection Units, that have collective command structures and believe in the equality of women, and – in fact – have numerous women commanders in the fighting units. (These are new wave Sixties leftists, not from the old school like China, Russia, North Korea.)

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Kidnapped Student Teachers in México: An Inside Perspective

February 13, 2015 by Source

via www.zocalopublicsquare.org

By Luis Villanueva Rodríguez / Draft NOtices

For many, the September [kidnappings and] killings of … 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College in the Méxican state of Guerrero has been profoundly painful and tragic. My feelings of outrage and despair are also deep because I was educated in one of Ayotzinapa’s sister schools.

What many do not realize is that this crime was perpetrated by the Méxican government against students who had important social justice concerns and who were soon to become activist teachers. These rural teachers’ colleges are known for their progressive beliefs.

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The Shame of US Journalism Is the Destruction of Iraq, Not Fake Helicopter Stories

February 10, 2015 by Source

By Christian Christensen /Common Dreams

chopper pilotThe news that NBC’s Brian Williams was not, in fact, on a helicopter in 2003 that came under fire from an Iraqi Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) should come as a surprise to no one.

Williams had repeated the lie on several occasions over the course of a decade until a veteran, who was on the actual helicopter that was attacked, had enough of Williams’ war porn and called the TV host out on Facebook. In a quite pathetic effort to cover his tracks, the anchor — who makes in excess of $10 million per year — claimed that his fairy tale was, in fact, “a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women” who had served in Iraq.

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Junipero Serra: Canonizing the Colonizers

January 29, 2015 by Source

By Eric Loomis/ Lawyers, Guns & Money (LGM)

Junípero_Serra_-_MallorcaPope Francis has decided to make Junipero Serra a saint. Serra was a Franciscan in California who founded many of the California missions in the 18th century, effectively making him an agent of colonization as well as a converter of Native Americans to Catholicism.

Building these missions meant forced labor from Native Americans while the conversion process obviously demonstrated a lack of respect for indigenous cultures as well as the compulsion of these conversions. Physical abuse of Native Americans was common, with many recorded beatings and whippings. A lot of indigenous people in California are very upset about the choice to canonize Serra.

Serra is far from the only Catholic saint involved in the colonization process. In Colombia earlier this month, I visited the church dedicated to Pedro Claver, a priest who converted slaves. Being Latin America, his remains are proudly displayed on the church altar.

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Extreme Weather Watch: 2014 Hottest Year on Record

January 21, 2015 by John Lawrence

Extreme Weather WatchBy John Lawrence

It’s official: NOAA and NASA have confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Despite the fact of Arctic cold winters on the US east coast, the average earth surface temperature was the hottest on record. Those cold temperatures were more than made up for elsewhere.

The fact that the three hottest years on record are 2014, 2010 and 2005 points in the direction that climate change is indeed a reality, a reality that is only getting worse as time goes on. The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997, …

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Humans Have Brought World’s Oceans to Brink of ‘Major Extinction Event’

January 21, 2015 by Source

But ‘proactive intervention’ could still avert marine disaster, researchers find

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

fish circleMarine wildlife at all levels of the food chain has been badly damaged by human activity, says a new report that urges immediate and “meaningful rehabilitation” if we are to avert mass extinction in the world’s oceans.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an author of the study, told the New York Times.

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Je Suis Charlie

January 8, 2015 by Source
Thumbnail image for Je Suis Charlie
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Not So Happy New Year: Obama Pushing Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2015

January 5, 2015 by Jim Miller

TPP_finalBy Jim Miller

Last week, I wrote about Project Censored’s Top 25 most underreported stories, one of which was “Wikileaks Revelations on Trans-Pacific Partnership Ignored by Corporate Media.”

Coming in at number three on their list, Project Censored notes that what is important about this story is that :

Eight hundred million people, and one-third of all world trade, stand to be affected by the treaty—and yet only three people from each member nation have access to the entire document. Meanwhile, six hundred “corporate advisors,” representing big oil, pharmaceutical, and entertainment companies, are involved in the writing and negotiations of the treaty.

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Like the Low Gas Prices? They Could Be Even Lower in 2015

January 2, 2015 by Source

oilpricedeclineBy Carl Gibson / Reader Supported News

Oil prices are currently down by 40 percent from where they were in June, and the economies of oil-exporting countries like Russia and Venezuela are tanking. Coincidence? A simple case of more supply than demand? Cunning moves in a global chess game between a desperate empire and its rivals?

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Cuba Sí! Decades of Failed Foreign Policy Come to an End

December 18, 2014 by Doug Porter
Thumbnail image for Cuba Sí! Decades of Failed Foreign Policy Come to an End

By Doug Porter

A mutual release of prisoners Wednesday, Dec. 17, marks beginning of the end of the United States embargo against the island nation of Cuba. Cuba released jailed American Alan Gross along with an unnamed non-American intelligence ‘asset.’ The US released three Cubans accused of running a spy operation in the South Florida expatriate community.

The Associated Press reports the two governments are starting talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations; trade and banking ties are will be at the top of the agenda. Observers expect each country to attempt to open embassies in each other’s capitals during 2015.

While these actions are not part of any overall shift in US foreign policy, the repercussions throughout the hemisphere will be reminiscent of the establishment of normalized relations with China in the 1970’s. It’s a big deal. A really big deal.

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The Gun Death Capital of the World – United States of America

December 17, 2014 by John Lawrence

Lethal Weapons ChartBy John Lawrence

The US leads the world in deaths from firearms. Countries like Great Britain and Japan, which outlaw guns, have hardly any gun related deaths.

These countries don’t have the “freedom” to own a gun. We Americans are free to own a gun and free to go bankrupt from medical debts. In countries like Britain and Japan they are not free to go bankrupt from medical debt because they have national health care systems which prevent that from happening.

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On Torture: Deeper into the American Heart of Darkness

December 15, 2014 by Jim Miller

torture bedBy Jim Miller

A couple of weeks ago I evoked Joseph Conrad’s classic critique of colonialism when discussing the disposability of black and brown lives in the wake of Ferguson and our collective ability to dehumanize or “thingify” black and brown people at home and abroad.

As I observed then, “in Conrad’s classic novel Heart of Darkness we are taken on a journey into the core of the European colonial enterprise. And while the naïve reader may expect an adventure in the ‘savage’ world of Africa, what one quickly discovers is that it is the ‘hollow men’ of Europe bent on the ruthless exploitation of the land and the people who are the real savages, whose moral emptiness and desire to ‘exterminate the brutes’ is the actual horror.”

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Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 2

December 12, 2014 by John Lawrence

earthonfireBy Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Part 1 can be found here

We are lucky to have advanced to a stage that scientists can determine the relationship between the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere, the absolute value in tons of CO2 already in and projected to be in the atmosphere, the rate of increase of CO2 emissions and the relationship between amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface temperatures.

If we didn’t have this science, we might go right ahead destroying the earth’s environment to the point of extinction of human life without even understanding what was happening to us.

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Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe

December 11, 2014 by John Lawrence

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Part 1 of a Multi-Part Series

Introduction

climate x johnA facile denial of reality sits in the DNA of human nature – and climate change is no exception. The inbred fantasy-culture of endless growth, technology, and a throwaway consumeristic lifestyle fueled by exploiting pollutive fossil fuels has reinforced the illusion that we can do so without destroying the environment and even life itself.

The threat to human life and the planet seems to need to be truly imminent before we humans can change our course. By then, however, it will be too late …

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Torture Tuesday: A Study in Manufacturing Consent

December 9, 2014 by Doug Porter
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By Doug Porter

If you are unfortunate enough to be aware of the news today, you’ll be a witness to our country’s greatest exercise in what Walter Lippmann and subsequently Noam Chomsky called ‘manufactured consent.”

I’m referring to the release of the heavily redacted summary of the the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture. By the end of the day, via the conclusions of the chattering class, the American public will know three things:

  • US policy following the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks included broadly worded permissions to engage in torture.
  • There is controversy over whether torture was effective.
  • Oversight of the intelligence apparatus in the government is a danger to our national security.
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SEAWORLD WATCH: Protests for Corky’s Retirement on Dec. 5 – 6 – and ‘Jackass’ Star Gets Infraction for “Sucks” Stunt

December 5, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for SEAWORLD WATCH: Protests for Corky’s Retirement on Dec. 5 – 6 – and ‘Jackass’ Star Gets Infraction for “Sucks” Stunt

There is lots to report in this “SeaWorld Watch” column, an occasional post at OB Rag.

First, there will be protests outside San Diego SeaWorld this weekend, as activists pressure the aquatic zoo in protests advocating the retirement of the longest-held orca in captivity, Corky, captured 45 years ago.

Second, “Jackass” star, Steve-O, who pulled off a successful stunt last spring when he taped “Sucks” next to SeaWorld’s name on a freeway sign, was charged only with an infraction – no criminal charge – and faces a fine – which PETA has agreed to pay.

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Mounting Protests Over 43 Kidnapped and Massacred Mexican Students Hit San Diego

November 19, 2014 by Doug Porter

Missing-students-AyotzinapaBy Doug Porter

Unrest in Mexico, triggered by the disappearance and probable execution of 43 students in the state of Guerrero is reaching a fevered pitch. Nationwide demonstrations in Mexico on November 20th are prompting activists north of the border to hold protests that day. Here in San Diego, a protest is scheduled for Thursday at the Mexican Consulate (1549 India St) in Little Italy.

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Stand with Indigenous Peoples, Stop the Pipelines

November 17, 2014 by Source

As so often happens, Native Americans are leading the fight to save the world.

Moccasins on the Ground workshop where participants are trained in the skills, tactics, and techniques of nonviolent direct action.By Will Falk / San Diego Free Press

While half of the world’s species are disappearing, while the remaining 48 hunter/gatherer societies are literally fighting for their survival, while 32 million acres of rainforest are cut down a year, and while three hundred tons of topsoil are lost a minute, we are again at war with those who would destroy the planet.

There have been many wars fought on behalf of our life-giving land in North America. The overwhelming majority of those killed in defense of the land have come from peoples like the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Nez Perce, the Sauk, and the Apache. Native Americans have long stood in the way of this destructive culture.

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Extreme Weather Watch: October 2014 – Drought in Australia and Brazil

November 13, 2014 by John Lawrence

weather5By John Lawrence

Australia experienced its second warmest October on record. A number of records were set during the month in particular for the warmest October day on record for Australia as a whole. Nationally-averaged rainfall during October was 59% below the long-term mean which made October 2014 Australia’s seventh-driest October on record.

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What’s Not to Like? Gas Prices Down, Solar Energy Production Up

November 5, 2014 by John Lawrence

Wikimedia photo circa 2006

By John Lawrence

Gas prices have dropped below $4.00 a gallon for the first time in several years.

Every one-cent drop in gas prices means a $1 billion annual decline in energy spending by Americans. Consumers can use the savings to eat out more often, buy more goods or pay down debt. That’s good for US motorists and consumers, but that’s not the whole story.

Part of the story has to do with the fact that …

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Debate Heats Up Over San Salvador “Historic Replica”

October 28, 2014 by Source
Thumbnail image for Debate Heats Up Over San Salvador “Historic Replica”

Editor: Ever since the OB Rag first published articles about the reconstruction of a replica of the San Salvador, the flagship of Juan Cabrillo, the Spanish explorer who was the first European to land on San Diego’s shores, a debate has ensued over how modern society views and values the new ship which represents so much of the past. The ship is docked right off Point Loma, in Spanish Landing.

By Will Falk

As a settler, I think it’s my responsibility to say this: The San Salvador was a weapon of genocide and, today, is a symbol of genocide.

“A Historically Accurate Replica”

How accurate are we going to get with the San Salvador? Are we going to use African and indigenous slave labor to build it? …

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Twelve Years Ago Today OB Held Its Largest Peace Rally This Century

October 27, 2014 by Marc Snelling
Thumbnail image for Twelve Years Ago Today OB Held Its Largest Peace Rally This Century

By Marc Snelling

Last month Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, who was elected to end two wars, addressed the nation to announce an open-ended bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. As the Afghanistan War (now the longest in American history) and the conflict in Iraq continue it is clear Obama has failed to live up to his election promises.

Not only has his administration failed to live up to it’s word to end two wars and close Guantanamo prison, he has even changed his tune about the initial invasion. The US “sought to work within the international system” he said earlier in March of this year at a speech in Brussels. Obama further declared the the US had “left Iraq to it’s people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about it’s own future.”

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Extreme Weather Watch: September 2014: Fires in California, Cabo San Lucas Destroyed by Hurricane

October 9, 2014 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

Extreme Weather WatchAs many as 6000 firefighters battled blazes in northern California during the month of September.

The King Fire, which was deliberately set, devoured nearly 120 square miles of timber and vegetation about 60 miles east of Sacramento. The blaze in steep terrain forced the evacuation of 2800 people and burned multiple structures in the White Meadows area of Pollock Pines. Firefighters dropped record amounts of retardants – more than 203,000 gallons in a single day.

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Symbolic Solidarity with Hong Kong by Occupy San Diego Remnant

October 8, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
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Last night, in “Freedom Plaza” (the Civic Center Plaza), a couple dozen people calling themselves “Occupy San Diego” held a symbolic solidarity demonstration with the protests going on in Hong Kong.

“OSD (heart) Occupy HK” was the slogan. Small tents captured the flavor of the protests held in the Plaza 3 years ago, when up to one hundred tents were pitched on the concrete of City Hall. Chalk expressions had been written on the sidewalks were next to signs at the entrance to the Plaza, reflecting the sayings and artwork of the protests of yore.

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