Tag Archives | Geopolitics & Globalization

My horrible right-wing past: Confessions of a one-time religious right icon

Frank Schaeffer writes at Salon:

I am a white, privileged, well-off, 61-year-old former Republican religious right-wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. The New York Times profiled my change of heart saying that to my former friends I’m considered a “traitorous prince” since my religious-right family was once thought of as “evangelical royalty.”

You see, only in the Mafia, the British Royal family and big time American religion is a nepotistic rise to power seen as normal. And I was good at it. And I hated it while hypocritically profiting from it — until, that is, in the mid-1980s, I quit. These days I describe myself as an atheist who believes in God.

Ironically I helped my father become famous in the religion sector. In the 1970s I directed and produced two film series featuring Dad with book companions that became evangelical bestsellers: “How Should We Then Live?” and “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” By the time Dad and I completed two nationwide seminar tours launching those projects, I was being invited to speak at the biggest religious gatherings, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Follow the Money: Meet the US Senate’s most important anti-environmentalist

Global average temperature anomaly since 1880, compared to the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. (NOAA).

Global average temperature anomaly since 1880, compared to the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. (NOAA).

Via The Verge

In 2003, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and then-chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, took to the Senate floor and asked, “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?” More than 10 years of science has been completed since Inhofe first posed his question. Nearly all of it shows climate change is definitely not a hoax. That hasn’t stopped Sen. Inhofe and other conservative politicians from waging a crusade against climate policy and science.

The Senate changes hands

Republicans took back the Senate in the November elections. That means Inhofe is headed back to the EPW chairmanship after a seven-year absence. He’s promised to use his position to stop environmental legislation in its tracks and rein in the Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Let’s leave behind the age of fossil fuel. Welcome to Year One of the climate revolution

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Guardian

It was the most thrilling bureaucratic document I’ve ever seen for just one reason: it was dated the 21st day of the month of Thermidor in the Year Six. Written in sepia ink on heavy paper, it recorded an ordinary land auction in France in what we would call the late summer of 1798. But the extraordinary date signaled that it was created when the French Revolution was still the overarching reality of everyday life and such fundamentals as the distribution of power and the nature of government had been reborn in astonishing ways. The new calendar that renamed 1792 as Year One had, after all, been created to start society all over again.

In that little junk shop on a quiet street in San Francisco, I held a relic from one of the great upheavals of the last millennium. It made me think of a remarkable statement the great feminist fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin had made only a few weeks earlier.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The World Is Not Falling Apart

141209_Charts-Homicide-Rates-US-England.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

Via Slate

Never mind the headlines. We’ve never lived in such peaceful times.

It’s a good time to be a pessimist. ISIS, Crimea, Donetsk, Gaza, Burma, Ebola, school shootings, campus rapes, wife-beating athletes, lethal cops—who can avoid the feeling that things fall apart, the center cannot hold? Last year Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” This past fall,Michael Ignatieff wrote of “the tectonic plates of a world order that are being pushed apart by the volcanic upward pressure of violence and hatred.” Two months ago, the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen lamented, “Many people I talk to, and not only over dinner, have never previously felt so uneasy about the state of the world. … The search is on for someone to dispel foreboding and embody, again, the hope of the world.”

As troubling as the recent headlines have been, these lamentations need a second look.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

$14 Million An Hour: War Costs Top $1.6 Trillion Since 9/11, Say Congressional Researchers

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via IBT

American taxpayers have shelled out roughly $1.6 trillion on war spending since 9/11, according to a new report from Congress’ nonpartisan research arm. That’s roughly $337 million a day — or nearly a quarter million dollars a minute — every single day for 13 years.

The $1.6 trillion estimate, which comes to $14 million per hour since 9/11, from the Congressional Research Service is up roughly half a trillion dollars from its 2010 estimate, which found that the post-9/11 military operations are second only to World War II in terms of financial cost.

In its report, which was released earlier this month, CRS finds that the 92 percent of the war-related expenditures since 9/11 have flowed into the Pentagon. Just 6 percent has been spent on foreign assistance and diplomacy, and 1 percent on medical services for veterans.

The report, which was posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists, breaks down the war-related expenditures by different military operations.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

12 Ways People are Being Screwed by the System at Christmas Time

Matt Reinbold CC BY-SA 2.0

Matt Reinbold CC BY-SA 2.0

Via Alternet:

If Christmas magic were real, America’s political and business leaders — the people with power and money — would speak on behalf of the nation they’ve debased:

1. To Our Most Neglected Citizens

By the time the Koch brothers wake up on Christmas morning, the wealth the two men will have accumulated throughout the night could get a room for the night for every one of the 633,000 homeless Americans.

To Americans without a place to live, we apologize for a society that allows almost all of its new wealth to be redistributed to people who are already rich.

2. To Our Most Vulnerable Citizens

Eight years ago 2 out of every 100 children were homeless. Now it’s over 3 out of 100, a stunning 50% increase.

At the other end of society, elderly people are the most unequal group among us.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Apple ‘failing to protect Chinese factory workers’

via BBC:

Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation.

Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple’s promises to protect workers were routinely broken.

It found standards on workers’ hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories.

Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme’s conclusions.

Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.

One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.

Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: “Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn’t want to move.

“Even if I was hungry I wouldn’t want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

These 10 companies make a lot of the food we buy. Here’s how we made them better.

Behind-the-brands-illusion-of-choice-graphic-2048x1351

via OxFam America:

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it’s true: There really are 10 companies that control most of the food and drinks you’ll find in the grocery store. Between them, these giants—whose revenues add up to more than a billion dollars a day—own hundreds of common brands, from Cheerios to Ben & Jerry’s, Odwalla to Tropicana. (See the infographic above to learn more.)

So why should these huge companies care about doing business responsibly? First, because their global operations touch countless lives. “These corporations are so powerful that their policies can have a major impact on the diets and working conditions of people worldwide, as well as on the environment,” wrote Alexander E.M. Hess in USA Today.

Second, because shoppers these days think about factors like fairness and sustainability—and we’re increasingly (and successfully) demanding that the brands we buy do the same. These food companies may be big, but no company is too big to listen to its customers.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Oil Coup

Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mike Whitney from Counterpunch writes at Global Research:

“John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)

U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and to move ahead with their plan to “pivot to Asia”.

Here’s what’s happening: Washington has persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia’s economy, and reduce Moscow’s resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across Central Asia.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

America Is Built on Torture, Remember?

takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

via Pacific Standard Magazine:

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report has sparked a great deal of outrage—and justifiably so. The details are grim and sickening: The report says that the CIA tortured innocent people, threatened to murder and rape the mothers of detainees, and used rectal feeding or, essentially, anal rape, as a punishment. The report paints a picture of heedless brutality, cruelty, and sadism.

Given the details from Abu Ghraib, and the long-known, supposedly sanctioned techniques like waterboarding, these revelations aren’t exactly surprising. But they still have the power to shock. Andrew Sullivan, who has been a bitter and committed critic of American torture, summed up the reaction of many when he suggested that readers “reflect on a president [George W. Bush] who cannot admit to being the first in that office to authorize such an assault on core American values and decency.” To numerous critics on the left and some on the right as well, the torture seems like a violation of the basic American commitment to freedom, justice, and human rights.

Read the rest
Continue Reading