Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tricked--Not Treated

Tricked--Not Treated
by Redd Phlagg

I was given the task to write something about the meme above. At first, I thought it had very little to do with what’s currently going on in our world, and nothing to do with championing progressive causes, mostly because it mentioned a kids’ holiday, Halloween. But the more I considered what the meme was saying beyond its obvious message—that Americans, on the whole, rather stuff themselves with candy and party in funky costumes than meet the basic needs of others—the more I realized my assignment could probe much deeper issues, and many more sensitive topics than you might first suspect.

But yeah, first off, the illustration is a sad indictment of the lack of empathy most Americans and Westerners have for their fellow human beings. We pretty much enjoy telling the rest of the planet, “You hungry? You need food? Go feed yourselves! Oh, did we let our military-industrial complex prosper at the expense of your lives and livelihoods? Destroy your crops and homes? Cremate your schools and hospitals and kill millions? Well, what’s a few drone bombings among friends?”

And with friends like these who needs enemies, right?

That’s the rub—Americans have been tricked into thinking they’re “friends” with just about everyone on the planet, including the people they treat with contempt. Americans avoid looking in the mirror to see the “enemies” they truly are. Americans believe they should receive all the “treats” or good things in the world even after they realize how they've been tricked by corrupt capitalists who never had any intention of sharing treats outside their class. Americans act out this lie whenever they mimic this evil elitist behavior by tricking—or threatening to trickother peoples on the planet into being friendly with us so we can screw them over later. 
Not to rain on your Halloween festivities, but it doesn’t work that way in the real world, Americans. People who manipulate, lie, ignore, or otherwise trick others for their own gain aren't nice people. They're called a-holes.
Nobody deserves a treat for tricking others—especially if the trickster has woken up and has observed these evil American behaviors both at home and abroad. Furthermore, you don’t get a day off from being an a-hole just because once in a while you donate a few bucks to somebody’s Facebook charity request. 
Uh-uh. It doesn't count. You’re still an a-hole because you actually think your token act of charity is going to change things for the better for the majority of the planet’s wretched. Glad it made you feel good for about ten seconds to give ten bucks to Feed the Children, but unless you’re out slaving each and every day to make sure little ones never hunger again, you don’t get to forget about them and their suffering. 
So grow up and grow a pair! Stop bellyaching when someone points out how we’ve destroyed the lives of millions of ordinary human beings by propping up their fascist regimes. Knowing this ain't taking away from your buzz! You take away from your own buzz because you know deep down you’re selfish for even daring to think your “right to party hearty” is anywhere on a par with the rights of others to have enough to eat and to live with dignity.

Halloween is the ultimate capitalist lovefest in so many ways. Most of the plastic toys and costumes Americans use to celebrate come from sweatshops in China and other nameless countries full of workers exploited by the capitalists of both the East and the West. 

To top it all off, Halloween celebrates the virtue of hoarding: “Look at all the candy I got!” 
It celebrates excess: “I’m going to pig out on all these Snickers bars tonight until I get sick!” And for the older crowd: “I’m going to seduce all the ladies at the costume party in my sexy vampire outfit and then suck the beer keg dry!” 
It celebrates narcissism: “Look at my expensive new costume! Don’t I look pretty, handsome, scary, trendy, whatever? Look at me, me, me, nobody but me, and give me more, more, more!”

Yeah, a holiday can’t get more capitalistic and less compassionate than that.

Added bonus for the neo-libs, you don’t even have to expose your true nature to the world openly during the orgy of Halloween. You get to hide your inner-capitalist behind a mask or crazy make-up. Really clever! Your inner-warmonger can roam free as well in the moral darkness created by the Wall Street cult of greed and DNC corruption. 
That Hillary Clinton rubber mask and polyester pantsuit really suit you, too.

It's an age where many Americans worship an orange clown as chief executive and give him a pass on his “high crimes and misdemeanors”—since we all want to commit tax fraud and serial groping at least once in our lives, right? The rest of the world shouldn’t expect us to act like adults and accept blame for our horrible actions or lack of positive actions. No, we’re eternally spoiled children, living in our parents’ basement and expecting more treats.

No trickif we don’t all stop thinking about our own creature comforts and stop abusing our natural resources, there won’t be any treats for anyone ever again. The Halloween candy bag of Earth will run dry just as our rivers suffering from climate change-driven drought are even now running dry. 
Americans need reminders from time to time like this simple Halloween meme. We’re not alone on this planet. We just ain’t. We must share our hoard of goodies and take care of the planet and all its peoples before it's too late.
BIO:  Redd can't abide those people who carried "We'd be having brunch now if Hillary had won!" signs after Trump's election. These self-centered idiots are part of the problem and not the solution. The only solution is to wake up and stay awake and take care of your fellow human beings. Anything else is societal suicide.

Environmental Working Group
This is huge – we just released a new update to EWG’s Tap Water Database, adding in two more years of test results. You can use this one-of-a-kind tool to learn about contaminants in YOUR drinking water and what you can do about them.

We’ve worked for months on this update, collecting data from nearly 50,000 water utilities across all 50 states, cataloging over 270 contaminants and pairing all of this data with EWG’s consumer-friendly tips for safer drinking water.

Just head to the homepage and type in your ZIP code to get started. Then make sure to check out these great resources to learn more about the tap water in your home and across the country:
Search the Database by Zipcode
When we compiled 32 million water records from all 50 states, we learned a LOT about drinking water in America. Check out our top findings in this short video.
Once you’ve identified the contaminants of concern in your drinking water, make sure you check out EWG’s Water Filter Guide to find the type of filter that works for you and is certified to remove the contaminants in your tap water.
Check out EWG’s Guide to Safe Drinking Water to find quick tips from EWG’s researchers to help you choose safer drinking water at home and on the go.


There’s a lot of complicated information floating around about health care -- some of it’s true, some of it’s not, and a whole lot of it can feel too complicated to understand what’s happening and how it affects us.


Well, we just launched a new resource to help fix that!


We want to make sure Health Care Voters like you have the facts you need to make informed decisions and teach your friends and family about the health care issues in America. Too many people don’t understand why health care costs are rising and how to join our fight to make them affordable -- resources like this are essential to changing that. 



The GOP will never stop trying to take away our health care. But if everyone knows the facts, then we can fight back with the truth and hold them accountable for their actions in the voting booth.


Thank you for fighting alongside us,

The Health Care Voter Team

From Jewish Voice for Peace: 

AnyVision’s technology is designed by ex-Israeli defense staff and deployed by the Israeli military to surveil Palestinians and destroy any semblance of their privacy.

They are turning the West Bank into a constantly-monitored technological prison – and Microsoft is helping them do it.

AnyVision's facial recognition technology identifies and tracks the faces of people in East Jerusalem. (Source: NBC News)

Microsoft has invested millions in AnyVision, even though their work appears to violate each of Microsoft's own principles of use for facial recognition tech.
Microsoft can’t afford this potential stain on their image – so we’ve put together a site they can’t ignore. 

Check it out now, and then add your name to the petition calling on Microsoft to drop AnyVision.

Microsoft has been trying to position itself as an ethical leader in Artificial Intelligence since at least 2018, when it committed to follow “six principles to guide [its] facial recognition work.” The company has vowed to refrain from using facial recognition technology where there are “inadequate safeguards to protect democratic freedoms and human rights.”

Spurred by NBC's investigation and the growing movement opposing the misuse of facial recognition technology, Microsoft said that it will proceed with a third-party audit reviewing AnyVision's board and compliance process. “If we discover any violation of our principles, we will end our relationship,” a spokesman for the corporation said. 

We need to bring more pressure NOW and let Microsoft know that tens of thousands of people think that AnyVision’s mass surveillance project goes against their principles.

Check out the new DropAnyVision.org website we've just put together, and then join the 12,000+ people who have already signed the petition.

Thanks for all you do. Let’s win this!
  Granate Kim
Communications Director

  1. Why did Microsoft fund an Israeli firm that surveils West Bank Palestinians? https://www.nbcnews.com/news/all/why-did-microsoft-fund-israeli-firm-surveils-west-bank-palestinians-n1072116

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Attack of the Corporate-Owned Government!

The Attack of the Corporate-Owned Government!
by Coast Watcher

It's more horrific than a 1950s monster movie.

Due process is supposed to protect citizens from the arbitrary imposition of laws upon their lives. It provides a clear set of guidelines by which government is supposed to operate—but what happens when government chooses to ignore due process, or change the laws so it doesn’t operate any more?

There was a referendum in the English counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire on the subject of fracking, and it passed by a decisive 99.2% vote against allowing fracking in their counties. However, the British government chose to ignore the result and allow fracking to go ahead anyway.

Another example is the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, introduced in Toledo, Ohio. After years of campaigning the initiative finally got on a special ballot and was passed by a sizable majority. Someone in the Ohio Chamber of Commerce made a phone call to a friend in the state legislature, who wrote a clause into an unrelated bill effectively banning citizens from suing on behalf of nature. Thousands of voters’ opinions were overturned by the action of just two men.
 In Pennsylvania, the state "Department of Environmental Protection" is suing Grant Township for voting in a Community Water Protection Law to protect their people from the danger of hazardous fracking wastes. Yes, the state is suing its own citizens for the "crime" of trying to protect their environment against the moneyed-interests of the fracking industry.

Again, in the UK the ongoing Extinction Rebellion movement has caused the already beleaguered government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson more headaches than he can handle—so it arbitrarily banned all Extinction Rebellion protests throughout London. In Washington, DC, Extinction Rebellion protesters have been arrested and held without charge for hours, sometimes days. As if this weren’t bad enough, bystanders including journalists have also been arrested and jailed just for being in the area.

The British government also has a lot to answer for over its treatment of Julian Assange. Assange is being held in prison awaiting extradition to the United States on trumped-up espionage charges. The conditions of his imprisonment are onerous and debilitating, all of which violates the UK Human Rights Act and various laws governing the treatment of inmates in UK jails.

In France the Gillet Jaune or Yellow Vests protests have drawn the ire of French President Macron. The police are firing baton rounds and tear gas directly into crowds of protesters, causing serious injuries.

So, governments across the Western world are turning against their citizens. This oppression is driven by Big Business working behind the scenes to control bought and paid for politicians. Even the case of Assange’s imprisonment is down to Capitalism punishing those who dare to expose the failings of its system and those same politicians who are but puppets in the great goal of making the billionaires even more money. 

But people across the world are gathering their forces and pushing back against oppression. Concessions are being won by grim determination, persistence and resourcefulness. Hopefully, for the sake of democracy and the environment, it won’t be too late to overthrow the oligarchy and restore the true government of the people instead of the rich.

This Halloween, the men in the rubber monster suits aren't the ones to be afraid of--it's the rich men in suits and ties.

BIO: Coast Watcher is keeping track of all the times the oligarchs have taken away our democratic right to due process. If the three strikes rule ever applied to these criminals, they'd be spending the rest of their lives in jail. Don't let them ever forget it, either!

The following is an excellent comment that was made on Facebook recently by a frequent blog guest. I just had to share it with a wider audience. We get  caught up at times with what all is "wrong" that we forget what all is "right." Are you connecting with others and seeing the good in them and the world-at-large? Why or why not? Listen to what Sean has to say.

by Sean Nestor

Many people I know actively celebrate and promote a culture of isolation and misanthropy. Count me out. I want to be more connected with people, not less. 

I think the solution to toxic social structures lies in the work (and I mean work) of developing healthier social structures, not the indulgence of our society's inclination toward abandonment and alienation. The reality is that we will always depend on each other to survive and to thrive and pretending otherwise is a vain and delusional fantasy.

I dread a future made up of a bunch of unhappy, atomized people wailing at each other from behind digital appliances, rarely stopping to break bread and bond with each other over the sharing of their life experiences.

I want a future of strong families, strong neighborhoods, and strong communities -- a future where the vulnerable among us are supported and cared for and where nobody who is different fears for their safety.

We can all cite countless atrocities committed by human beings against one another and against other life on this planet. But I really believe all of that is eclipsed by the volume of honest decent people who commit acts of love and justice every day. We don't pay as much attention to them -- but they are out there, and they deserve to be seen. I know lots of them, and I bet you do, too. People are beautiful, if you take the time to see them.

Humanity is redeemable. Don't give up the ship. Fight for something better.

BIO: Sean Nestor is an activist who has worked on many social justice and environmental issues, including the passing of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.


National Audubon Society
Common Loon.
In case you missed it: there’s a bird emergency
Last week, Audubon released its new, groundbreaking report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, the most detailed look at the impact of climate change on birds using the latest climate models and bird data available. Here’s what people are saying about our science:
“[The report] illustrates how thoroughly the avian world as we know it may be remapped if humans continue pumping greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.” - The New York Times
"The existential threat to birds also impacts humanity. As canaries warned coalminers of invisible death in the industrial era, now birds of every shape and size can be life-or-death alerts in the age of global warming.” - CNN
“There may still be hope in bird conservation, and in the broader climate crisis, but only if urgent, difficult actions are taken to address rising greenhouse gas emissions.” - TIME
Yes, the news is troubling, but the call to action is clear: We must act now to protect the birds we love from climate change.

See for yourself. Explore the report and learn what climate change will mean for the birds in your community and exactly what you can do to stop it.
Read the Report

Amazon is more than a store. Amazon Web Services provides data storage for roughly 40% of the internet (including Netflix, Slack, Pinterest, and even the site that hosts this petition!), and it takes a LOT of energy to power.Competitors like Apple and Google have set up data centers with 100% renewable energy, but Amazon still sucks down fossil fuels.

The coming climate catastrophe is going to require action from all of us―even the world’s richest man.

TELL JEFF BEZOS: Get Amazon’s data centers off fossil fuels!   

Jeff Bezos says the changing climate is the reason he’s investing so heavily in space travel. But he can make a much bigger impact by protecting the planet we already have―putting his money into renewables!

John Sellers
Other 98%
Tell Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and Amazon Web Services:
"Take constructive action to address climate change. Given the dire global implications, I believe it is urgent that every corporation do all it can to measure and reduce its carbon footprint."

From March for Our Lives

Let's start with some background. During the September 12th debate, Congressman Beto O'Rourke expressed his support of mandatory buy-backs. Other candidates started to comment on the issue -- and it became a major topic during Tuesday’s debate. 

To be clear, we fully support a mandatory buy-back program. There are an estimated 256-393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, which means there are more guns than people in this country. As we lay out in our Peace Plan, a federal mandatory buy-back of assault weapons and an optional, but encouraged, buy-back program for other firearms would save lives. Australia's national buy-back program was associated with as much as a 57% reduction in firearms deaths.
That being said, boiling down the gun violence epidemic to a debate on one policy point misses the big picture. Although these solo plans would definitely help, we need a comprehensive plan. We need candidates around the country, from city hall to Capitol Hill, to introduce audacious, bold, and comprehensive plans as big as the problem they're trying to solve (or endorse ours). We need candidates who are unafraid to take on the NRA in their words *AND* their actions. We need candidates to step up and tell us their specific policies and plans to cut gun deaths by 50% in ten years, like our Peace Plan does. Or tell us how their proposed legislation and programs will end the epidemic altogether. 
The time for flowery metaphors and vague promises is over. The time to end gun violence is now.

Let's do this,
March For Our Lives

 From Friends of the Earth:
This summer, the Amazon was burning. Hurricanes ravaged the east coast. Californians experienced days without power as a way to prevent the next major fire. These extreme weather events show that climate change is already here.

But on August 29th, Trump’s EPA decided to roll back regulations on methane -- one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases that’s driving the climate crisis.

The good news: These disastrous rollbacks aren’t finalized. If engaged environmentalists like you show a groundswell of opposition to this plan, the EPA will have to change course. But we must act fast! 

How dangerous is methane? It’s a significant driver of climate change that is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And it’s a threat to local communities and the air we breathe. But for the third time, Trump’s EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler is trying to gut methane regulations.

Methane pollution standards are basic safeguards that help keep our planet livable. Even Shell Oil and other industry producers think they’re common sense. Regardless, Donald Trump and Wheeler are trying to create loopholes to benefit their polluter friends at the expense of our climate by recklessly rolling back these protections. The proposed rollbacks would save the oil and gas industry between $17 million to $19 million a year.

If we’re serious about addressing climate change, we need to significantly cut methane from the oil and gas industry -- it’s one of the leading sources of this pollution. This rollback is the latest part of a scheme by Wheeler and Trump to do the opposite. Together, we can ensure the EPA protects our health and the environment, not Big Oil profits. 

Make no mistake: This is a blatant attempt to create loopholes that hinder federal oversight on the oil and gas industry. And fossil fuel executives will surely reap the profits of climate pollution for years to come. 

Maintaining strong methane pollution safeguards is crucial to protecting our communities as sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common. Rather than selling our children and families out to the worst actors in the oil and gas industry, the EPA should be focused on enacting and strengthening regulations like the Methane Rule to fight the worsening impacts of the climate crisis. 

With your help, C.A., we’ve fought back Trump’s plans to slash our bedrock environmental protections before. But we need your help again to fight Trump’s latest giveaway to Big Oil polluters.

Standing with you,
Nicole Ghio,
Senior fossil fuel program manager,
Friends of the Earth