The Day the Earth Changed

SUBHEAD: Club Orlov Press promotion of a new book on how collapse might really unravel the lives we now lead.

By Dimtry Orlov on 17 January 2017 for Club Orlov -
(http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-day-world-changes.html)


Image above: Detail of cover art for doomster collapse novel "Seat of Mars"by Jason Heppenstall and published by Club Orlov Press.  From original article.

We are conditioned to think of change as lots of small changes—a continuum—although history tends to be punctuated by large, unforeseen events that are only understood after the fact.

Last year's reconquest of Aleppo was one such incident. People are still assuming that Pax Americana is still an item; well, we'll just have to see. The US defense establishment may have just joined higher education, medicine and, of course, finance as just another brazen swindle.

Whenever something big happens, people become confused. Is a power cut just a temporary glitch in the grid, or is it the end of the grid?

Novels can very helpful in helping us think through scenarios, filling the void left by journalism, by journalists who are conditioned to think that there will always be the next news cycle—until there isn't one. Jason Heppenstall's The Seat of Mars, now available from Club Orlov Press, is one such novel. Here's an excerpt.
The crowds became tighter and the sounds of a Samba band swirled around them as they walked along with their plates of food. Shrill whistles pierced the air and the streets reverberated to the sounds of drumming and singing.

Huge figures appeared above the heads of the revellers and the crowd began to cheer. The monstrous tentacled face of a movie pirate appeared – twenty feet tall and with a mechanical arm that raised an oversized bottle of rum to its lips over and over. Cat squeezed her way through to the front of the crowd to get a closer look.

The effigy was being borne on a bamboo palanquin by a dozen schoolchildren, their teachers all wearing plastic pirate hats. Next came a giant tin man, followed by a Cyclops, followed by a red-skinned devil with smoke pouring out of his nostrils. She laughed. What kind of crazy place has Jack brought me to? she thought.


The sound of the samba band receded and as the parade passed people poured back onto the roads, which had been blocked off from cars. Jack spotted Cat and came over to her. “Let’s go down to the seafront and get a drink,” he said.

They walked down a narrow street past a house that had been turned into an Egyptian folly, through a churchyard and down a hill that led to the sea. Strung out along the promenade was a funfair, the cries and whoops of teenagers rising above the drone of the diesel generators that powered the rides.
There was a tent selling beer and Jack went in and ordered drinks. He emerged a couple of minutes later holding two plastic glasses containing frothy Cornish beer. “Been ages since I had a pint of Doom,” he said, handing one of them to Cat, who eyed it suspiciously before taking a small sip. They sat on a low wall together and watched the revellers.
Mostly it was families, strolling along with buggies and candyfloss. Gaggles of teenagers charged about, unable to contain their restless energy. And behind this human scene of fun and frivolity lay the sea, blue and implacable, glinting in the sun.

There are a lot of drunks here,” stated Cat matter of factly. Jack looked around. It was true. They stood outside the beer tent, men with sun-reddened noses, softly bulging beer bellies and raucous laughs, gabbled loudly with one another.
Close by, a particularly large woman with faded shoulder tattoos was holding court with a group of them, causing them to bend over with laughter at something she said.

A muscular man with a shaved head and a dog tied to a piece of string staggered past holding a bottle of vodka, followed by his equally plastered girlfriend who was hurling insults at him. Cat sipped her drink and tried not to stare.


It was early evening when the tide came in and the crowds began to drift away. “I am hungry,” announced Cat, prodding Jack.

Jack knew a place. It was an old beachside tavern, redone as a bistro and with a star chef from London. He knew Cat would approve and he wasn’t wrong. They ate Newlyn crab and fresh mussels for starters, and beer battered pollock with monkfish tail and wild mushrooms for the main.
The waiter suggested a wine pairing for the crab, saying the lightness and acidity of a bottle of Domaine Chandon Brut would “elevate the crab’s sweetness and purify your palates.”

I could get used to this,” said Cat, thinking it would please Jack to hear it.

When it came to paying it was already getting late and candles had been lit at each table. The waiter took Jack’s credit card and wrote down the details, getting him to sign a receipt. The manager came out and spoke to the diners one table at a time. When he got to Cat and Jack’s he said “We will take payment when the system comes back online.”

The pair returned to the town centre, walking beside the sea as the light faded. Some beach revellers had set fire to a pile of debris and their techno music pulsed across the bay as sparks rose into the darkening sky.
In the centre of the town once more the pair came across a troupe of well-lubricated Morris dancers who were leaping about, bashing their sticks together and waving handkerchiefs.
A heavily bearded man with a black top hat squeezed an accordion and a thin woman with grey hair played a tin whistle as the dancers performed their ancient fertility rite.

“I’ll just use the bathroom,” said Jack, disappearing into a nearby pub and leaving Cat by herself. She carried on watching the dancers as she waited, getting out her mobile and taking some pictures of them. She was about to tweet it with a suitably sarcastic message when she remembered. “Still no signal,” she said out loud to nobody but herself.


And neither will there be for a very long time,” interjected a man standing next to her. Cat looked up at him. He was a smooth-faced and overweight man in late middle age, and he appeared to be slightly unsteady on his feet.

What do you mean?” said Cat. “When will the signal come back?”

Problems upcountry is what I can tell you,” he replied. “Power’s out all over the place, they say. Motorways at a standstill, shops shut everywhere, no word from anyone as to what’s going on. For all we know it could be a nuclear war’s ’appened and they forgot to tell us.”

Cat stared at him in horror. “How do you know this? My boyfriend says the television and radio is not working.”

The man looked at her for a moment and took a swig of beer.

“Driver, I am. Been in haulage since ’84 and never seen anything as bad as this. Got a radio in the rig and I’s been on it ’alf the night speaking with our boys. Pumps stopped working, they say, and one of ’em’s got a load of dairy and he’s stuck on the M5. ’Parently there’s some sort of tyre depot fire near Bristol, he says, black smoke billowing all over the place and nobody to put it out.”


But why?” said Cat. “What’s happening?”

"Your guess is as good as mine. Seems there’s some sort of power outage, though nobody’s saying why. Army’s out on the streets of London, trying to stop what ’appened the last time, what with all them riots and all.” The man paused for thought for a second, as if something had just occurred to him. “You wouldn’t be down from London would you?”

At that moment Jack reappeared, another couple of pints in his hand. He smiled at Cat sheepishly. “I couldn’t just walk past the bar, could I?”

Cat ignored him. “Jack, we have to leave this place and get back home. We need to leave right away.”
They never “leave this place,” and they never “get back home.” And that's actually a good thing, because by then their home—London—is no longer a desirable destination. To find out more, please read the novel.

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Montana oil & gas leases cancelled

SUBHEAD: Blackfeet Tribe swayed the Interior Department to cancel the leases in Badger-Two Medicine River area .

By Elizabeth Shogren on 11 January 2017 for High Country News -
(http://www.hcn.org/articles/interior-cancels-oil-and-gas-leases-in-montanas-badger-two-medicine)


Image above: Blackfeet sacred land in the 170121saceedBadger - Two Medicine River area. From (http://grist.org/article/oil-and-gas-leases-canceled-on-blackfeet-sacred-land-in-montana/).

This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Wednesday morning, as John Murray drove north from his home on the Badger-Two Medicine River to his job as the historic preservation officer for the Blackfeet Tribe, the mountains glowed red. His wife, who drove with him, commented on their beauty.

Murray, 69, noted with deep satisfaction that for the first time in more than 30 years, there are no more oil and gas leases up there.

For thousands of years, the area was home to the Blackfeet, and Murray has spent decades fighting a collection of oil and gas leases sold for $1 an acre by the Reagan administration without consulting the tribe. On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell canceled the last two leases in the area known as Badger-Two Medicine, which now is part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

“The cancellation of the final two leases in the rich cultural and natural Badger-Two Medicine Area will ensure it is protected for future generations,” Jewell said in a statement.

The landscape just outside of Glacier National Park where the prairies meet the mountains is sacred to the Blackfeet. “This area is like a church to our people,” Harry Barnes, chair of the Blackfeet Nation Tribal Business Council, said in a statement. “We’ve lived for 30 years under the threat that it might be industrialized, and we’re extremely grateful that this cloud is finally lifted.”

Anthropological studies have found hundreds of artifacts in the area, but it’s the landscape itself that is most treasured by the Blackfeet, Murray says.

That landscape also is extremely important to conservation groups because it provides crucial habitat for grizzlies, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and the other fauna that roam between Glacier, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Blackfeet Reservation.

Hunting and fishing groups laud the area as unmatched for elk hunting and wild trout fishing. But conservationists who worked to preserve it say it was the Blackfeet that swayed the Interior Department to cancel the leases.

The decision comes as the Obama administration has sided with tribes in other recent decisions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers early last month suspended an easement necessary to finish the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, pending a deeper environmental assessment and consultation with the tribe. On Dec. 28, President Obama created two national monuments after intense campaigns by Native Americans: Bears Ears in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada.

The hard-fought victory for Badger-Two Medicine comes at a time Murray sees as a renaissance for the Blackfeet people. The tribe also negotiated an important water settlement with state government, which Congress finally approved last month.

Now that the leases have been canceled, the tribe is looking forward. “Our next move is to be more proactive in what happens in the Badger-Two Medicine,” Murray says. Specifically, the tribe is advocating for the Lewis and Clark National Forest to stop allowing cattle grazing and instead reintroduce buffalo.

In November, Interior announced that Devon Energy had agreed to the cancellation of its 15 leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region. But another company, Solonex LLC, is fighting the earlier cancellation of its lease in the same area. That dispute, which is currently in front of a federal court, tempered the celebration of the Blackfeet’s long-awaited victory.

Michael Jamison, Glacier program manager for the National Park Conservation Association, first protested the leases as a college student some 30 years ago. Through the years, he has learned from Blackfeet elders why the landscape is so important to them.

“Their future success as a people is rooted in hanging on to who they are culturally,” Jamison said. “They need something firm underfoot if they’re going to succeed in stepping into the future.”


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From now on all progress is local

SUBHEAD: In the Trump Era work on climate change, alternative energy and conservation will be local.

By Ben Adler on 18 January 2017 for Grist Magazine -
(http://grist.org/climate-energy/in-the-trump-era-all-climate-progress-will-be-local/)


Image above: Poster advocating restoration project of native species in Los Angeles River.  From (https://californiawaterblog.com/2014/12/09/new-environmentalism-needed-for-california-water-2/).

California Gov. Jerry Brown is arguably the most pro-climate governor in the country. So when he spoke to a group of scientists about Donald Trump’s election last month, you might have expected him to fret about all the damage a climate-denying White House can manage in the next four years.

Instead, Brown came out swinging. If the Trump administration ends NASA’s climate research, Brown promised that California would step up, reminding the crowd that he was once called Governor Moonbeam for his fascination with outer space.

“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite,” he said. “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers, and we’re ready to fight.”

This can-do climate attitude has swept the country in recent years. And now that a climate science–denier is moving into the White House, activists, mayors, and state legislators from across the country are pulling up their organic cotton socks and setting more aggressive goals. They’re pushing for more wind and solar power, trying to block coal exports, and planning to put more electrical vehicles on the road.

“States have always led the way in regards to creating significant U.S action on climate change,” says Heather Leibowitz, director of Environment New York. “The Trump victory will make state climate change efforts even more important.”

Going back to Cali
In the wake of Trump’s victory in November, the highest-ranking leaders of both houses of California’s legislature and mayors of the state’s major cities, such as Los Angeles’s Eric Garcetti, reaffirmed their commitment to making progress on climate change.

“I’m encouraged that California leaders have all made clear statements that California will continue to set the bar high and lead the way,” says Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate at Environment California.

In September, Gov. Brown signed a law requiring the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. That’s no small feat for a state with a growing economy and a swelling population. So California is looking for new ways to meet that ambitious emissions target, aiming to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2023 and to get half of the state’s power from renewable sources by 2030.

The Brown administration also increased the size of rebates for buying electric cars and announced plans to add 7,500 electric vehicle charging stations in the coming years.

California already has three state-supported pilot programs for getting more electric cars on the road. In the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles metro area, partly to help clean the smog-choked air, buyers can get up to $9,200 in incentives to retire their conventional car and buy a low-emissions one.

Another pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area provides low-interest loans to people with little or no credit history to purchase an electric car. A third program sets up a low-income electric car sharing service expected to launch in L.A. and Sacramento later this year.

The biggest ambition for California climate hawks, however, is a statewide ban on fracking. Momentum is building: Six California counties have already prohibited the practice. The latest victory came in November when voters approved a ballot initiative in oil-rich Monterey County, even though Chevron and other oil companies spent millions of dollars to stop it.

Best coast
The Pacific Northwest sits between the oil and gas-rich Bakken Shale, Wyoming’s coal-heavy Powder River Basin, and oil hungry markets in Asia. Communities throughout the Pacific Northwest have been organizing to stop fossil fuels from coming through their towns on trains, ships, and in pipelines. Last year, for instance, the Vancouver, Washington, city council passed a ban on future oil terminals, although the measure still requires the Governor’s approval. Elsewhere in the state, the towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen changed their zoning codes to prevent oil companies from using their ports to ship their product to Asia. Locals worry that an oil spill could devastate the local fishing industry.

And just last week, the Quinault, a coastal Native American tribe, won a key legal challenge to a proposed oil train terminal, which likely spells the death of the project.

“Tribes and environmental activists have run the tables on the fossil fuel companies over the last few years in the Pacific Northwest,” says Eric de Place, policy director at the Sightline Institute, an environmental think tank in Seattle.

Now that Big Oil will have a friend in the White House happy to grant them federal construction permits, these communities will have to rely on their own local powers to block fossil fuel expansion, rather than pressuring the federal government. Case in point: Portland, Oregon.

Last month, its city council passed zoning changes banning construction of fossil fuel terminals. Activists hope that other cities will follow Portland’s lead, erecting a “green wall” blocking coal, oil, and liquefied natural gas exports to Asia.

“What we’ve done in Portland is replicable now in other cities,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales told InsideClimate news. “Everybody has a zoning code.” Whatcom County in northwest Washington looks like the first to follow. In the next few weeks, its county council is likely to amend its zoning rules to stymie fossil fuel exports.

Meanwhile, back East
East Coast states have been taking climate change seriously for decades. It was Massachusetts that started the lawsuit which resulted in the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2007 that required the EPA to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. The Bay State also has a commitment to get 80 percent of its energy from renewables by 2050, and it’s part of a consortium of Northeastern states that has been working to cut power plant emissions through a regional cap-and-trade system since 2008.

Even though Massachusetts has a Republican Governor, Charlie Baker, it has veto-proof Democratic majorities in the state legislature who are pushing climate action forward. Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg recently said he hopes to pass a raft of legislation increasing climate ambition in 2017.

Next door, New York State has set targets to curb carbon emissions and increased renewable energy deployment by 2030. To get there, the state’s utility commission has adopted innovative strategies to reduce energy demand and clean up its energy portfolio, including building a new transmission line for hydropower from Quebec.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Long Island Port Authority to approve a 90 megawatt offshore wind farm, which would be the country’s biggest.

Clean energy commonsense, nationwide
The Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 program is an effort to get cities to shoot for 100-percent renewable energy by 2035. The group targets local governments in the 20 states that let cities strike their own deals with energy providers.

“We think this will be a vehicle that will accelerate the transition to clean energy, despite what might happen at the federal level,” says Kassie Rohrbach, Ready for 100’s associate director.

San Diego, the country’s eighth-largest city, and 20 others have committed to relying only on renewables. That includes the seven cities that have already hit that goal. In November, Georgetown, Texas, became the latest to run purely on wind and solar.

Cities are also trying to coax people out of their cars. In November, voters in red and blue states passed initiatives to pay for expanded transit. Seattle and Los Angeles County raised sales taxes to support light rail, while Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis approved tax hikes for new bus service.

Taking it to the streets
And then there are the fights happening outside the walls of any council chamber, courthouse, or statehouse. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign has been taking its case directly to the public energy utilities that decide whether to close coal-fired power plants. Last year, the organization helped shutter 24 coal plants, extending a string of successes for Beyond Coal since it launched in 2010.

Closing these plants has curbed carbon emissions and led to cleaner air and water. In November, a research team at Stony Brook University in New York examined Western Atlantic bluefin tuna and found that a poisonous byproduct of burning coal, methylmercury, had dropped 20 percent over the last decade.

To be sure, Trump has promised to trash all of the Obama administration’s rules cracking down on coal pollution, including the Clean Power Plan that prompted Georgetown, Texas, to go green in the first place. But coal appears to be doomed, anyway. In the energy market, it’s getting trounced by cheaper wind, solar, and natural gas. Trump might slow the death of coal, but he can’t stop it.

Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal’s director, said she expects to see dozens of coal plants shut down in Trump’s first year in the White House.

“We expect similar progress in 2017,” she says, “and record amounts of renewable energy coming online to replace it.”

All this progress at the local level may seem paradoxical when we’ve just elected a climate science denier as president. But even most Trump voters don’t agree with his climate policies. That’s why activists are urging local politicians to adopt an ambitious climate agenda.

“It’s important to remember the public overwhelmingly supports a cleaner, healthier future,” says Leibowitz of Environment New York.


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Trump’s angry inaugural speech

SUBHEAD: The cries of protesters added to the sense that a hostile takeover was underway.

By Howard Fineman on 20 January 2017 for Huffington Post -
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-inaugural-speech_us_588273b3e4b096b4a231a7ad?gwtwrz5gpwy8ir7ldi)


Image above: A policeman, in militarized unitform, stands in Times Square, as a guard during the televised inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, Jan. 20, 2017, in New York City. From original article.

Forgive me, but I love presidential inaugurations.

Covering politics and adoring America ― especially our Constitution ― I relish the pageantry of the law-based transition of power, even if I know that we are still not a perfect union.

I have covered many inaugurations, and they’ve shared certain reassuring characteristics. The speech allows each new president to start things off on a peaceable note, however urgent the tasks at hand.

It’s a chance to pay homage to the constitutional process, to acknowledge those who may not have supported the incoming president during the campaign, to offer soothing words about the durability of freedom.

And for the better part of a century, the inaugural speech has allowed new presidents to reaffirm our faith in an active global alliance of free nations for the spread of humanistic values.

Well, President Donald J. Trump’s speech offered almost none of that.

It was a triumphant day for the new president — but you wouldn’t know it from his angry, conspiratorial address.

No one like him has ever been elected, so in one sense, this departure from the norm wasn’t surprising.

At the same time, it was a shocking thing to hear and see and feel from a couple hundred feet below the podium.

First, the urgency and the anger. Ronald Reagan came to town in 1981 with a good bit of the same attitude. But it wasn’t nearly as pure or simplistic as what Trump expressed in his jeremiad Friday.

When Reagan was inaugurated, he made sure to stress that he wasn’t against government per se, or even against Washington, D.C. Rather, he said, he was against wastefulness.

Trump, on the other hand, made it personal, even if he didn’t mention any names. And he made ominous allusions that called to mind old European tropes.

“For too long,” he said, “a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

Who is this “small group?” Does he mean Congress? The wider federal bureaucracy? The K Street lobby corps? The press?

Maybe he was talking about the whole churning machine of Washington itself. But something that vast wouldn’t seem to fit the devil-in-hiding liturgy of Trump’s more conspiratorial, xenophobic supporters, led by White House counselor Steve Bannon.

Trump’s vehement tone was all the more striking given the relatively small turnout for the event on the Mall ― which was nowhere near as crowded as it had been for some past inaugurations ― and the genial, unthreatening mood of many of his supporters in seats beneath the Capitol’s West Front.

Tony Ledbetter, for example, was a Trump elector in Florida, but he’s also a county chair with roots in the Reagan campaign of 1980. A practiced politician, he begged off comparing Trump to his original hero, saying his main hope for the new president is simply that he “create jobs.”

Presidents tend not to talk about themselves very much in their inaugural speeches. But Trump, as usual, departed from tradition, and did so in the dramatic, passionate tones of a revolutionary leader.

“I will fight for you with every breath in my body,” he declared, “and I will never let you down.”

At times, the anti-Washington populism of Trump’s speech ― he indicted much of the very system that had just installed him ― made his predecessors, even Reagan, seem like go-along, get-along types.

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” he said.

There was the pitchman’s urgency to it all, with little stately, secular sermonizing. “The time for empty talk is over,” he said. “Now arrives the hour of action.”

The language throughout was nakedly combative, even bloody. Of drugs and violence, he vowed, “This American carnage stops right here and it stops right now.”

The wealth of the middle class has been “ripped from their homes,” he said. Americans will be able to watch their country “eradicate from the face of the earth” every shred of “radical Islamic terrorism.” All of us, he said, citing an old military slogan, “bleed the same red blood of patriots.”

In fact, rather than simply nodding to the idea of patriotism and love of country, Trump made it the central feature of his vision.

“At the bedrock of our politics,” he said, “will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.”

And to underscore the centrality of patriotism, he said that he was “issuing a new decree” in the name of the “people assembled here today.”

“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first,” he said. “America first.”

The cries of protests wafting up to the West Front added to the sense that a hostile takeover was underway.

As inherently American as presidential inaugurations are, no modern president has ever made patriotism per se the central feature of his message.

There are two reasons for that. One is that the United States has, since World War II, been part of a global alliance of nations standing for values that are American but that transcend any one nation.

The other reason is that the president, in the oath of office, doesn’t declare allegiance to the United States, its people or its borders. Rather, the oath is a vow to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

The Constitution, not the president, is the boss in America, and it cannot be fired.

But unless I missed something in his abattoir of an address, Trump did not mention on Friday who the real boss is.

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Zuckerberg sues Hawaiians

SUBHEAD: Mark Zuckerberg sues to keep local landowners off right-of-way through his 700 acre Kauai estate.

By Maya Kosoff on 19 January  2017 for Vanity Fair -
(http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/01/mark-zuckerberg-sues-to-keep-native-hawaiians-off-his-kauai-estate)


Image above: Mark Zuckerberg and his wife on either side of young woman surfer on Kauai. From (http://usuncut.com/news/mark-zuckerberg-suing-force-native-hawaiians-off-ancestral-land-build-island-resort/).

The Facebook billionaire isn’t exactly endearing himself to his neighbors.
Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of the world’s largest social network, would just like some privacy.

In the past year alone, the 32-year-old billionaire spent $30 million to buy up the four homes surrounding his Palo Alto abode, only to demolish them, and later built a six-foot-tall wall around his 700-acre plot of land in Hawaii, to the chagrin of his Kilauean neighbors.

Now, Zuckerberg is seeking additional peace and quiet, this time by filing a series of lawsuits against several hundred people—some of whom are dead—who own or have claims to the land Zuckerberg purchased on the island of Kauai for more than $100 million in 2014.

Last year, onstage at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, Zuckerberg decried the isolationism sweeping the country, taking an unsubtle jab at a certain presidential candidate’s plan to wall off Mexico from the United States. “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others,” he intoned. “Instead of building walls, we can build bridges.”

Those words apparently don’t apply to Zuckerberg, who reportedly wants to create a secluded sanctuary where he will have exclusive rights to every one of its 700 acres.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which first reported the news on Wednesday, Zuckerberg has filed a set of lawsuits with Hawaii's state Circuit Court, seeking to identify the owners of land on his property, so that he may force a sale of those properties.

The Star-Advertiser reports that nearly 300 people could claim ancestral ownership of small pieces of land on Zuckerberg’s property, and Zuckerberg’s legal team has spent a year and a half trying to identify those individuals.
There are about a dozen small pieces of land contained within Zuckerberg’s enormous estate that are owned by other people, the Star-Advertiser reports. These native Hawaiian families currently have the right to “traverse the billionaire’s otherwise private domain.”

But because of Hawaii’s “quiet title” law, Zuckerberg may be able to appear before a judge, who will determine rightful land ownership. The land can ultimately be auctioned off if co-owners can’t agree to terms, in which case, Zuckerberg, who made almost $5 billion in the first two weeks of the year, could easily buy them out.

On Thursday, Zuckerberg posted a statement on Facebook in response to what he called “misleading” stories about the lawsuits. “To find all these partial owners so we can pay them their fair share, we filed what is called a ’quiet title’ action,” Zuckerberg said. “For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had. No one will be forced off the land.

We are working with a professor of native Hawaiian studies and long time member of this community, who is participating in this quiet title process with us. It is important to us that we respect Hawaiian history and traditions.”
The lawsuits come at an odd time for Zuckerberg. The young Facebook C.E.O. has been meticulous about his own self-image, hiring a professional photographer and employing a team of about a dozen people to comb through and delete negative comments from his Facebook posts. He’s also remained largely apolitical, even as he has fueled speculation about his political ambitions.

He has pledged to donate the vast majority of his wealth to his own philanthropic organization, and recently hired a prominent White House alum to help run it. He has defended keeping Trump donor and surrogate  

Peter Thiel on Facebook’s board, and after the election said on Facebook that he was feeling “hopeful” about the future. The incoming president, he noted diplomatically, reminded him of “all the work ahead of us to create the world we want for our children.”
Even so, he can’t help but to be drawn into the muck himself. When Zuckerberg tried to depoliticize Facebook’s news feed last year, by replacing its human editorial team with an algorithm, Facebook only endured more criticism as hoax and fake political news stories filled up users’ feeds.

Zuckerberg’s recent plan to fight fake news—empowering users to flag misleading stories and enlisting third-party fact-checkers to provide additional context—only generated more controversy. Conservatives accused Facebook of censorship, with the Daily Caller, among other conservative outlets, dismissing Facebook’s fact-checkers as “liberal.”
Still, Zuckerberg is treading lightly, and working diligently to expand his coalition. On Tuesday night, Facebook threw an inauguration party in Washington, D.C. with the Daily Caller, which was sponsored by the oil giant BP.

Zuckerberg recently began a 50-state talking tour, making his first stop in Texas this week, where he met police officers, pressed hands, and helped build a community garden.

The resulting photos looked campaign-ready, if and when Zuckerberg is ready to exercise the new clause in his contract that will allow him retain control of Facebook if he takes a leave of absence to serve in a government position or office.

Suing to keep native Hawaiians off his 700-acre estate, however, suggests Zuckerberg still has a ways to go before he’s campaign-ready himself.

As Donald Trump knows, there’s a fine line between being a man of the people and appearing out of touch.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Mark Zuckerberg.
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Fear and Loathing in America

SUBHEAD: As we descend into Donald Trump's America we are reminded of Hunter Thompson's nightmare journeys.

By Juan Wilson on 20 Janaury 2017 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2017/01/fear-and-loathing-in-america.html)


Image above: Mashup of scene from movie version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" sporting Vladimir Putin as "Raoul Duke" and Donald Trump as Dr. Gonzo. They are on a road trip fueled by LSD, amphetamine and alcohol. Out of touch with nature and reality. From (https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/01/debt-rattle-january-20-2017/).

Yes we are beginning a long and weird journey. And Donald Trump behind the wheel. Is there any way to bail out?

I don't take much stock in those that think the Trump phenomena is one arranged by Russian trickery. The CIA is perfectly capable of doing something like that here or anywhere else all by itself. Our "normal" channels of communication (the press, journalism, media, netowrks) seem to have failed us.

We are left with the outlier sources. There you can find both "Truth" and "Bat Shit Crazy". Go find what works for you but be skeptical.

Hunter Thompson was a reporter who has been credited with inventing "gonzo journalism". Two of his books made a profound impression on me in the 1970's - "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail".

In "Campaign Trail" he follows and befriends Richard Nixon. The book reveals aspects of Nixon no one else talked about - and is like lifting a rock and finding a scorpion, poisonous centipede or rattlesnake. Something dangerous, alien and fascinating.

Thompson wrote:
Richard Nixon  was the real thing -- a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. 
Such a person is The Donald. My take on this guy is that he is not much different than Nixon in personality - a megalomaniac substance abusing alcoholic out of tune with the flow of life around him. . Both men have displayed vindictive mean streaks.

However far he came up in the system Nixon always, neurotically demonstrated his "low" background".  On the other hand in Trump we have a Medici. A pampered spoiled rich kid used to bullying those beholden to his inherited fortune. An greedy and twisted individual.

Who better to be at the helm when our ship of state grinds into shoals that we are nearing now?

With the players on the incoming Trump Team it is hard to imaging a worse set of administrators, and directors of our government agencies. Some are simply incompetent, like Texas ex-governor of  Rick Perry named to head the Energy Department. There are also sly ones who either despise and plan to subvert or dismantle the agency they will be running.

Some have called this kind of leadership "kakistocracy": A government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. From the root Greek word "kakistos" the root of the English word "catastrophe".

Today I posted Richard Heinberg's article about what he plans to do this Inauguration Day (A Good Day for a Walk in the Woods). A point he made their really struck me as profoundly true. He wrote:
"In my view, the most revealing personal characteristic of Trump may be his complete disconnection from the natural world.

Here is an individual who grew up in a city, who sees land only in terms of profit potential, who proudly covers the tortured ground with high-rise buildings, who lives in a penthouse, and who walks outdoors only on golf courses."
Having lived in Manhattan for almost a decade of my life I can substantiate that living there (or perhaps in the middle of any urban area of millions of people) isolates and separates an individual from Nature in a profound way. One begins to believe there is nowhere else that really matters.

That "Nature" is a view of Central Park from Trump Tower.

In answer to the question: "Is there any way to bail out?" I would answer "Yes". Hunker down in a locale that is the most resilient you can find.  Gather your friends and family close. Be self reliant and stay away from the government.

Good Luck and Bon Voyage! It's going to be a wild ride.
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A good day for a walk in the woods

SUBHEAD: Trump's inauguration day is a time to find a place in nature with some fresh air.

By Richard Heinberg on 19 January 2017 for Post Carbon Institute -
(http://www.postcarbon.org/a-good-day-for-a-walk-in-the-woods/)


Image above: A walk in the winter woods. From (http://everystepmatters.blogspot.com/2012/11/winter-walking-safety-tips.html).

Not since the Civil War has an American presidential Inauguration Day been so fraught with fear and dread (on February 23, 1861, Abraham Lincoln traveled to his inauguration under military guard, arriving in Washington, D.C., in disguise).

The incoming president is the most unpopular of any to assume office since modern polling began. In a single news cycle this past week he managed to alienate allies throughout an entire continent (Europe) during a brief break in a string of petulant tweets intended to persuade his own nation that Saturday Night Live is “not funny . . . really bad television!”

Much has been made of the new president’s personality and psyche—his narcissism, his germophobia, his irritability, his minimal sleeping habits, and his reported inability to laugh (though he does smile). In my view, the most revealing personal characteristic of president #45 may be his complete disconnection from the natural world.

Here is an individual who grew up in a city, who sees land only in terms of profit potential, who proudly covers the tortured ground with high-rise buildings, who lives in a penthouse, and who walks outdoors only on golf courses.

One could make some similar comments about many of his recent predecessors (certainly not Teddy Roosevelt), but in this instance the tendency reaches an extreme.


Image above: Trumpism - Donald Trump on his plan for the EPA: "We'll be fine with the environment... We can leave a little bit, but you can't destroy businesses." From Fox News Sunday 10/17/15.

How can a person so isolated from natural phenomena hope to understand the vulnerability of our planet’s climate, water, air, and innumerable species to the actions of people (one hastens to add—people much like himself)?

How can he appreciate that civilization itself is an organism with a constant need for “food” (not just grain and meat, but energy, minerals, and water as well), that is organized by way of hierarchically ordered and interlinked cycles, and that is subject to natural limits and ultimately to death?

One could argue that all hubris is tied to human beings’ illusion of dominance over nature. Our long withdrawal from wildness surely started with language, which gave us the ability to name and categorize, and thus to psychically control and distance ourselves from what we named; it erupted into alienation with the advent of agriculture, cities, and most recently fossil fuels.

But we never stopped depending on the fabric of life in which we have always been entwined. Even as we unravel the ecosphere’s delicate fibers, we draw upon eons of accumulated soil nutrients and minerals, fresh water, and biodiversity.

Life implies death—one’s own mortality above all. Everything has limits. Wisdom resides in the understanding that we are subject to forces we cannot control, and that we must respect and accommodate ourselves to those forces.

If we want to have language, farming, cities, and energy, then we must make a deliberate cultural effort to maintain an attitude of individual and collective humility.

In practical terms, that means keeping the size of our global population low enough so that it can be supported long-term without eroding natural systems, managing consumption so that resources are not depleted and non-biodegradable wastes do not accumulate, and maintaining checks on wealth inequality.


Image above: How many Earths does it take? Productive global hectares (gha) per capita required for the current world population. Data source: Global Footprint Network.

Obviously, we haven’t been doing these things very well, especially in recent decades. The power of fossil fuels fed our collective megalomania. Like people in previous civilizations, we went out on a limb—but modern energy and technology enabled us to go much further than any humans had before.

Still, as all civilizations do, ours has reached the point of diminishing returns, of over-reach. Before us lies the senescence and death of a way of living and of seeing the world. Perhaps the new president’s qualities of character are emblematic of these final stages of cultural disintegration.

In the days to come, there will be plenty of opportunities for resistance, protest, and, one hopes, celebration. Inauguration Day 2017 is a turning point; for me, it seems a perfect occasion for a walk in the woods.

• Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and is regarded as one of the world’s foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels. He has authored scores of essays and articles that have appeared in such journals as Nature Journal, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, The American Prospect, Public Policy Research, Quarterly Review, Yes!, and The Sun; and on web sites such as Resilience.org, TheOilDrum.com, Alternet.org, ProjectCensored.com, and Counterpunch.com.

He is the author of thirteen books including:
– Our Renewable Future: co-authored with David Fridley (2016)
– Afterburn (2015)
– Snake Oil (July 2013)
– The End of Growth (August 2011)< – The Post Carbon Reader (2010) (editor)
– Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis(2009) – Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2007) – The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism & Economic Collapse (2006) – Powerdown: Options & Actions for a Post-Carbon World (2004) – The Party’s Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies (2003)

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See film "Island Earth"

SUBHEAD: An underground movement of young people moving back to the land and growing their own food.

By Jerry DiPietro on 18 January 2017 for GMO Free Kauai -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2017/01/see-film-island-earth_18.html)


Image above: Detail of promotional poster for film "Island Earth". From Jeri DiPietro.

the Kauai premiere of a film "Island Earth" by Cyrus Sutton, an Emmy Award winning film maker and Professional Surfer. The film features many of our local and national friends in the movement!

The film is about all of you, and will help bring our story to the rest of the world!

WHAT:
Documentary movie "Island Earth" about agriculture, GMOs, pesticides and Hawaii.

WHEN:
Friday, Feburary 10th, 2107. Doors open at 6:00pm. Movie starts at 7:00pm.

WHERE:
Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center
Kaumaulii Highway
Puhi, Kauai

SPONSORS:
Hawaii SEED, GMO Free Kauai and The MOM Hui

CONTACTS:
Tabling space available for our coalition partners (with reservations in advance of the event.
Call MiKey at (808 )651-9603 or Jeri at (808) 651-1332. 

We hope to fill up the Performing Arts Center so please come meet filmaker Cyrus Sutton, and please share and help spread the word! See you on Friday, February 10th.


Video above: Trailer for "Island Earth" From (https://youtu.be/8YHfoehag5I). Provided by (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cyrussutton/island-earth-documentary)

This documentary is about an underground movement of young people moving back to the land and growing their own food in response to corporate corruption in our food supply.


Video above: Background film about Cyrus Sutton and "Island Earth". From (https://youtu.be/q1YCMkcVDDg).

Cyrus Sutton is many things. A surfer. A storyteller. A filmmaker. An activist. It's his dynamic, healthy skepticism of the status quo and profound dedication to change that make him a visionary in the canon of contemporary surf personalities.

Currently, he's producing a new film called Island Earth that explores the world's food supply. You can bet that it will inspire you to take your food – and the way you choose to spend your cash in supporting business – just a little more seriously. And that's a good thing. 
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Deep State Division

SUBHEAD: The military may play a role reducing the toxic influence of neocon and neoliberals within the Deep State.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 18 January 2017 for Of Two Minds -
(http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjan17/rogue-deep-state1-17.html)


Image above: Mashup by Juan Wilson of split in US intelligence agencies. From (https://www.pinterest.com/explore/central-intelligence-agency/).

Rather than being the bad guys, as per the usual Liberal world-view, the Armed Forces may well play a key role in reducing the utterly toxic influence of neocon-neoliberals within the Deep State.

Suddenly everybody is referring to the Deep State, typically without offering much of a definition.

The general definition is the unelected government that continues making and implementing policy regardless of who is in elected office.

I have been writing about this structure for ten years and studying it from the outside for forty years.
Back in 2007, I called it the Elite Maintaining and Extending Global Dominance, which is a more concise description of the structure than Deep State. Going to War with the Political Elite You Have (May 14, 2007).

I've used a simplified network chart to explain the basic structure of the Deep State, which is the complex network of state-funded and/or controlled institutions, agencies, foundations, university research projects, media ties, etc.

The key point here is you can't separate these network nodes. You cannot separate The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the national labs (nukes, energy, etc.), the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, the National Security State (alphabet soup of intelligence/black budget agencies: CIA, NSA, DIA, etc.), Silicon Valley and the research universities. They are all tied together by funding, information flows, personnel and a thousand other connections.

For the past few years, I have been suggesting there is a profound split in the Deep State that is not just about power or ideology, but about the nature and future of National Security: in other words, what policies and priorities are actually weakening or threatening the long-term security of the United States?

I have proposed that there are progressive elements within the sprawling Deep State that view the dominant neocon-neoliberal agenda of the past 24 years as a disaster for the long-term security of the U.S. and its global interests (a.k.a. the Imperial Project).

There are also elements within the Deep State that view Wall Street's dominance as a threat to America's security and global interests. (This is not to say that American-based banks and corporations aren't essential parts of the Imperial Project; it's more about the question of who is controlling whom.)

So let's dig in by noting that the warmongers in the Deep State are civilians, not military. It's popular among so-called Liberals (the vast majority of whom did not serve nor do they have offspring in uniform--that's fallen to the disenfranchised and the working class) to see the military as a permanent source of warmongering.

(It's remarkably easy to send other people's children off to war, while your own little darlings have cush jobs in Wall Street, foundations, think tanks, academia, government agencies, etc.)

These misguided souls are ignoring that it's civilians who order the military to go into harm's way, not the other way around. The neocons who have waged permanent war as policy are virtually all civilians, few of whom served in the U.S. armed forces and none of whom (to my knowledge) have actual combat experience.

These civilian neocons were busily sacking and/or discrediting critics of their warmongering within the U.S. military all through the Iraqi debacle. now that we got that straightened out--active-duty service personnel have borne the brunt of civilian planned, ordered and executed warmongering--let's move on to the split between the civilian Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the DoD (Department of Defense) intelligence and special ops agencies: DIA, Army Intelligence, Navy Intelligence, etc.

Though we have to be careful not to paint a very large agency with one brush, it's fair to say that the civilian leadership of the CIA (and of its proxies and crony agencies) has long loved to "play army".

The CIA has its own drone (a.k.a. Murder, Inc.) division, as well as its own special ops ("play army" Special Forces), and a hawkish mentality that civilians reckon is "play army special forces" (mostly from films, in which the CIA's role is carefully managed by the CIA itself: How the CIA Hoodwinked Hollywood (The Atlantic)

Meanwhile, it's not exactly a secret that when it comes to actual combat operations and warfighting, the CIA's in-theater intelligence is either useless, misleading or false. This is the result of a number of institutional failings of the CIA, number one of which is the high degree of politicization within its ranks and organizational structure.

The CIA's reliance on "analysis" rather than human agents (there's a lot of acronyms for all these, if you find proliferating acronyms of interest), and while some from-30,000-feet analysis can be useful, it's just as often catastrophically wrong.

We can fruitfully revisit the Bay of Pigs disaster, the result of warmongering civilians in the CIA convincing incoming President Kennedy that the planned invasion would free Cuba of Castro's rule in short order.

There are many other examples, including the failure to grasp Saddam's willingness to invade Kuwait, given the mixed signals he was receiving from U.S. State Department personnel.

Simply put, if you are actually prosecuting a war, then you turn to the services' own intelligence agencies to help with actual combat operations, not the CIA. This is of course a sort of gossip, and reading between the lines of public information; nobody is going to state this directly in writing.

As I have noted before:
"If you want documented evidence of this split in the Deep State--sorry, it doesn't work that way. Nobody in the higher echelons of the Deep State is going to leak anything about the low-intensity war being waged because the one thing everyone agrees on is the Deep State's dirty laundry must be kept private.

As a result, the split is visible only by carefully reading between the lines, by examining who is being placed in positions of control in the Trump Administration, and reading the tea leaves of who is "retiring" (i.e. being fired) or quitting, which agencies are suddenly being reorganized, and the appearance of dissenting views in journals that serve as public conduits for Deep State narratives."
Many so-called Liberals are alarmed by the number of military officers Trump has appointed.

Once you realize it's the neocon civilians who have promoted and led one disastrous military intervention (either with U.S. Armed Forces or proxies managed by the CIA) after another, then you understand Trump's appointments appear to be a decisive break from the civilian warmongers who've run the nation into the ground.

If you doubt this analysis, please consider the unprecedentedly politicized (and pathetically childish) comments by outgoing CIA director Brennan against an incoming president.

Even if you can't stand Trump, please document another instance in which the CIA director went off on an incoming president-- and this after the CIA spewed a blatant misinformation campaign claiming a hacked Democratic Party email account constituted a successful Russian effort to influence the U.S. election--a surreal absurdity.

Let me translate for you: our chosen Insider lost the election; how dare you!

A number of observers are wondering if the CIA and its Deep State allies and cronies will work out a way to evict Trump from office or perhaps arrange a "lone gunman" or other "accident" to befall him.

The roots of such speculations stretch back to Dallas, November 1963, when a "long gunman" with ties to the CIA and various CIA proxies assassinated President Kennedy, an avowed foe of the CIA.

Setting aside the shelfloads of books on the topic, both those defending the "lone gunman" thesis and those contesting it, the unprecedented extremes of institutionally organized and executed anti-Trump campaigns is worthy of our attention.

Given my thesis of a profound disunity in the Deep State, and the emergence of a progressive element hostile to neocons and neoliberalism (including Wall Street), then it's not much of a stretch to speculate that this rogue Deep State opposed to neocon-neoliberalism has Trump's back, as a new administration is pretty much the only hope to rid the nation's top echelons of the neocon-neoliberal policies that have driven the U.S. into the ground.

Rather than being the bad guys, as per the usual Liberal world-view, the Armed Forces may well play a key role in reducing the utterly toxic influence of neocon-neoliberals within the Deep State.

If you have wondered why academics like Paul Krugman and the CIA are on the same page, it's because they are simply facets of the same structure. Krugman is a vocal neoliberal, the CIA is vocally neocon: two sides of the same coin.

I invite you to study the chart above with an open mind, and ponder the possibility that the Deep State is not monolithic, but deeply divided along the fault lines of Wall-Street-Neocons-Neoliberals and the progressive elements that rightly view the dominant neocon-neoliberals as a threat to U.S. national security, U.S. global interests and world peace.

We can speculate that some of these progressive elements view Trump with disdain for all the same reasons those outside the Deep State disdain him, but their decision tree is simple: if you want to rid America's Deep State of toxic neocon-neoliberalism before it destroys the nation, you hold your nose and go with Trump because he's the only hope you have.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: America versus the Deep State 1/10/17
Ea O Ka Aina: The deepening Deep State 12/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Is Deep State tanking Hillary? 10/31/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Is the Deep State dumping Hillary? 9/26/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Is the Deep State for Hillary?  8/9/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Deep State Long Game 8/12/16

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Last Man on the Moon

SUBHEAD: Astronaut Eugene Cernan has died at 82. He was the last man to walk on the moon.

By Xeni Jardin on 16 January 2017 for Boing Boing -
(http://boingboing.net/2017/01/16/astronaut-eugene-cernan-last.html)


Image above: Eugene Cernan aboard the Apollo 17 Command Module covered in moon dusted spacesuit on way back to Earth. From original article.

"We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind."

These were the last words Eugene Cernan said upon leaving the surface of our moon, at the end of Apollo 17.

Cernan (shown below at the beginning of EVA 3) was the last man to walk on the moon. He died Monday, January 16, 2017 surrounded by his family.


Image above: Eugene Cernan, with Earth overhead, during moonwalk during last NASA mission to moon in 1972. From original article.

From the NASA remembrance:
Cernan, a Captain in the U.S. Navy, left his mark on the history of exploration by flying three times in space, twice to the moon. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.
He was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. He piloted the Gemini 9 mission with Commander Thomas P. Stafford on a three-day flight in June 1966. Cernan logged more than two hours outside the orbiting capsule.

In May 1969, he was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, the first comprehensive lunar-orbital qualification and verification test of the lunar lander. The mission confirmed the performance, stability, and reliability of the Apollo command, service and lunar modules. The mission included a descent to within eight nautical miles of the moon's surface.
In a 2007 interview for NASA's oral histories, Cernan said, "I keep telling Neil Armstrong that we painted that white line in the sky all the way to the Moon down to 47,000 feet so he wouldn't get lost, and all he had to do was land. Made it sort of easy for him."

Cernan concluded his historic space exploration career as commander of the last human mission to the moon in December 1972. En route to the moon, the crew captured an iconic photo of the home planet, with an entire hemisphere fully illuminated -- a "whole Earth" view showing Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the south polar ice cap. The hugely popular photo was referred to by some as the "Blue Marble," a title in use for an ongoing series of NASA Earth imagery.


Image above: Iconic photo of whole Earth taken by Eugene Cernan during Apollo 17 mission, the last voyage to the moon. From original article.


Video above: NASA film of Eugene Cernan singing "Merry Month of May" while moonwalking. From (https://youtu.be/8V9quPcNWZE).

See also:
  .
The Gobbler: Moonshot Part One 9/21/94
A rocky road to the Cape Canaveral.

The Gobbler: Moonshot Part Two 9/21/94
Up close to a Saturn V Rocket.

The Gobbler : Moonshot Part Three 9/21/94 
NASA's first launch to the Moon.

Global Warming clobbers Ocean Life

SOURCE: Katherine Muzik PHD (kmuzik@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: These die-offs are different, much different. All-out alarm is warranted with bells clanging!

By Robert Hunziker on 16 January 2016 for Counter Punch -
(http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/16/global-warming-clobbers-ocean-life/)


Image above: Scientists measuring thinness of ice in the Arctic around meltponds. From (https://fossilfreeri.org/2015/07/26/science-risk-and-morality/).

The waters of the Pacific off the California coast are transparently clear. Problem is: Clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into desert (Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA).

From Alaska to Central America, and beyond, sea life has been devastated over the past three years like never before. Is it Fukushima, or nature running its own course, or some kind of perverse wrath emanating from global warming? For a hint, scientists refer to the lethal ocean warming over the past few years as “the Warm Blob.”

After all, global warming hits the ocean much, much harder than land. Up to 90% of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is absorbed by the ocean, which is fortuitous for humans.

Just imagine the chaos if the situation were reversed: Mobs of regular ole people morphing into maddened gangs striving for food, huddled in far northern latitudes while Mid America scorches brittle crops in sandy soil, a dystopian lifestyle.

“Upper ocean heat content has increased significantly over the past two decades” (Source: Climate Change: Ocean Heat Content, NOAA, Climate.gov, July 14, 2015). More than 3,000 Argo floats strategically positioned worldwide measure ocean temps every 10 days.

Scientists classify the Warm Blob phenomenon as “multi-year ocean heat waves,” with temperatures 7° F above normal and up to 10°F above normal in extreme cases. How would humans handle temperatures, on average, 7° to 10°F above normal? There’d be mass migrations from Florida to Alaska, for sure.

As it happens, sea animals do not do well. They die in unbelievably massive numbers; all across the ocean… the animal die-offs are unprecedented. Scientists are stunned!

After years of horrendous worldwide sea animal die-offs, 2016 was a banner year. Is this out of the ordinary? Sadly, the answer is: Yes.

The numbers are simply staggering, not just in the Pacific, but around the world, e.g., the following is but a partial list during only one month (December 2016):
Tens of thousands of dead starfish beached in Netherlands;
Six-thousand dead fish in Maryland waterway;
Ten tons of dead fish in Brazilian river;
Tens of thousands of dead fish wash up on Cornwall, England beach;
Schools of dead herring in Nova Scotia;
One 100 tons of fish suddenly dead in Indonesia;
Massive fish deaths ‘state of calamity’ in Philippines;
Thousands of dead crayfish float down river in New Zealand;
Masses of dead starfish, crabs, and fish wash ashore in Nova Scotia, and there are more and more….
In fact, entire articles are written about specific areas of massive die offs, for example: “Why Are Chilean Beaches Covered With Dead Animals?” Smithsonian.com, May 4, 2016. Chilean health officials had to resort to heavy machinery to remove 10,000 dead rotting squid from coastlines earlier in the 2016 year.

Over 300 whale carcasses hit the beaches and 8,000 tons of sardines and 12% of the annual salmon catch… all found dead on beaches, to name only a few! You’ve gotta wonder why?

According to Nate Mantua, research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California: “One of the things that is clear is there’s a lot of variation from year to year along the Pacific Coast, and some of that is tied into natural patterns, like El NiƱo,’ Mantua said. ‘But what we saw in 2014, ‘15 and the first part of ‘16 was warmer than anything we’ve seen in our historical records, going back about 100 years” (Mary Callahan, Year in Review: Ocean Changes Upend North Coast Fisheries, The Press Democrat, Dec. 25, 2016).

Fishermen bitterly claim the ocean is changing like never before. Meanwhile, scientists study those weird changes but do not fully understand the problem.

Unfortunately, the general public does not see changes hidden within water; otherwise, they, the general public, might organize and demand their politicians in Washington, D.C. fight climate change/global warming.

According to John Largier, professor of coastal oceanography at UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, “Climate change syndrome is definitely having an impact,” Ibid.

As it happens, the world climate system is interconnected, interwoven such that climatic stress originated at sea spills onto land, e.g., the Warm Blob was first observed and linked to a high-pressure ridge stationed over the north Pacific in 2011.

 This ridge diverted winter storms, thereby exacerbating California’s drought meanwhile weakening winds that ordinarily absorb ocean heat and stir up the cold water necessary for immensely productive Northern Coast breeding grounds for marine wildlife.

Morosely, too-warm ocean water serves as breeding ground for the infamous deadly “red tide,” a bloom of single-celled organism that thrives in warmer waters, producing a neurotoxin called domoic acid, resulting in enormous numbers of sea lion fatalities and massive destruction of Dungeness crab fisheries and all kinds of other trouble.

Too-warm water also contributes to the collapse of bull kelp forests, which are the ocean’s equivalent of the tropical rain forest; meanwhile, purple urchins thrive and multiply in explosive fashion in the poisonous environment, devouring remaining plant life. Thereby, out-competing hapless red abalone, the shellfish that people love.

Collapsing food chains are evident up and down the Pacific Coast earmarked by large die offs of Cassin Auklets, a tiny seabird, as well as massive numbers of Common Murres. The sea lions and fur seals suffer from starvation and domoic acid poisoning. In early 2013 scientists declared the sea lion die-off an “unusual mortality event.”

Nursing sea lion mothers are unable to find enough forage like sardines and anchovies. Pups, searching for food, strand on beaches filled with curious sunbathers with a natural proclivity to cuddle the hapless cuties that could easily result in fierce attacks. As it happens, lifeguards run along sandy beaches warning beachcombers beware!

Still, wildlife die-offs are an ancient phenomenon, mentioned by Aristotle in his Historia Animalium (4th Century B.C.). In the U.S. in 1884, hundreds of tons of dead fish bellied up in lakes around Madison, Wisconsin. This knowledge of the past gives one pause when considering whether an all-out alarm is warranted this time around. After all, isn’t it nature’s way?

No, this time it is different, much different. The all-out alarm is warranted with bells clanging! Yes, of course part of nature’s cycle over the eons involves wildlife die-offs. That’s nature, but nowadays nature is out-of-whack! Ring the bells; blast the sirens!

As published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Recent Shifts in the Occurrence, Cause, and Magnitude of Animal Mass Events, Vol. 112, no. 4, Aug. 5, 2014) it was found that worldwide animal die-offs are increasing in both number and magnitude, even after statistically correcting for the fact that mass deaths are now more likely to be documented than in the past.

“Every biologist I spoke with who is researching mass-mortality events said that many wildlife die-offs today really could be signals of serious problems with the ecological fundamentals of the planet” (Source: J.B. MacKinnon, On Animal Deaths and Human Anxieties, The New Yorker, April 21, 2015). That is the worst possible news you can ever hear.

As for only one example amongst many, the typical number of bird deaths per reported die-off was about 100 in the 1940s. Today it is 10,000 and reported much more frequently than 75 years ago.

Bottom line, the ocean ecosystem is under fierce attack, and it is real, very real indeed with too much global warming, too much ag runoff, too much heavy-duty massive overfishing, likely too much nuclear radiation.

The ocean absorbs anthropogenic CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, similar to the upper atmospheric   The ocean absorbs 90% of the heat that is generated CO2.  Thank your lucky stars for that… but only temporarily!

There is deadly acidification in the ocean caused by excessive CO2 concentrations (already damaging pteropods at the base of the marine food chain).

As stated by the Environmental Defense Fund: “Oceans are at the Brink”- For decades, the ocean has been absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) dumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. It has absorbed a lot of the extra heat produced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. But even the ocean has limits!

Going forward, how will the Trump administration confront this messy, possibly fatal and very complex situation, since fossil fuels are the main driver behind climate change/global warming?

Will the Trump administration initiate a nationwide renewable energy plan, similar to Communist China? Accordingly: (Michael Forsythe, China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020, New York Times, January 5, 2017)

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Dumb and Dumber

SUBHEAD: Coal-loving Wyoming legislators are pushing a bill to outlaw wind and solar.

By Katie Herzog on 14 January 2017 for Grist -
(http://grist.org/briefly/coal-loving-wyoming-legislators-are-pushing-a-bill-to-outlaw-wind-and-solar/)



Image above: The Eagle Butte coal mine outside Gillette, Wyoming is operated by Alpha Coal West Inc. and is one of about a dozen mines in the Gillette area. From (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/as-wind-power-lifts-wyomings-fortunes-coal-miners-are-left-in-the-dust.html).

On the first day of the state’s legislative session, nine Republican lawmakers filed legislation that would bar utilities from using electricity produced by large-scale renewable energy projects.

The bill, whose sponsors are primarily from the state’s top coal-producing counties, would require utilities to use only approved energy sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear power, hydroelectric, and oil.

While individual homeowners and small businesses could still use rooftop solar or backyard wind, utilities would face steep fines if they served up clean energy.

Wyoming is the nation’s largest producer of coal, and gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from coal, but it also has huge, largely untapped wind potential.

Currently, one of the nation’s largest wind farms is under construction there, but most of the energy will be sold outside Wyoming. Under this bill, such out-of-state sales could continue, yet the measure would nonetheless have a dampening effect on the state’s nascent renewable energy industry.

Experts are skeptical that the bill will pass, even in dark-red Wyoming, InsideClimate News reports. One of the sponsors, Rep. Scott Clem, is a flat-out climate change denier whose website showcases a video arguing that burning fossil fuels has improved the environment.


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Insane Clown President Trump

SUBHEAD: Matt Taibbi says were too sure of our own influence, too lazy to bother hearing things firsthand.

By Tyler Durden on 17 January 2016 for Zero Hedge -
(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-15/matt-taibbi-insane-clown-president-trump-was-right-about-media)


Image above: "Insane Clown President" illustration by Victor Juhasz. From (https://muffybolding.com/2015/08/17/its-always-darkest-before-the-don/).

While U.S. political journalist Matt Taibbi has made no bones about his dislike of Donald Trump... (via Rolling Stone a day after the election)

Most of us smarty-pants analysts never thought Trump could win because we saw his run as a half-baked white-supremacist movement fueled by last-gasp, racist frustrations of America's shrinking silent majority.

Sure, Trump had enough jackbooted nut jobs and conspiracist stragglers under his wing to ruin the Republican Party. But surely there was no way he could topple America's reigning multicultural consensus. How could he? After all, the country had already twice voted in an African-American Democrat to the White House.

Yes, Trump's win was a triumph of the hideous racism, sexism and xenophobia that has always run through American society. But his coalition also took aim at the neoliberal gentry's pathetic reliance on proxies to communicate with flyover America.

They fed on the widespread visceral disdain red-staters felt toward the very people Hillary Clinton's campaign enlisted all year to speak on its behalf: Hollywood actors, big-ticket musicians, Beltway activists, academics, and especially media figures.

Trump's rebellion was born at the intersection of two toxic American myths, the post-racial society and the classless society.
CBC reports that the Rolling Stone columnist admits in his new book - "Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus" - the president-elect got more than a few things right during an election campaign that brought to the forefront America's struggles with racism, class divide and economic stagnation.

One of Trump's gambles that really paid off, according to Taibbi, was painting a target on the back of the U.S. political media.
"The media and politicians had spent so much time with each other that they lost touch with regular people, and Trump capitalized on that. He made us in the media villains, representative of this out of touch, ivory tower political culture," he said.

"I think there's some fairness to it, as much as I dislike Donald Trump, he hit a note, several notes, in this campaign that were true, and that was one of them."
Another one, he says, is Washington corruption. Taibbi believes Trump was correct to say that both Democrats and Republicans have become more beholden to their political donors than to their constituents, and his vow to "drain the swamp" struck a chord.

But he doesn't think Americans should hold their breath for their incoming president to fix any of the issues at the heart of his campaign rhetoric.

"Even though his diagnoses on some things in some cases are accurate, it's his solutions that are the problem,"  Taibbi said. "He's not a deep thinker and his instincts for fixing everything are purely authoritarian."
As Taibbi concluded in a lengthy article just a day after Trump's election victory,
"We journalists made the same mistake the Republicans made, the same mistake the Democrats made.

We were too sure of our own influence, too lazy to bother hearing things firsthand, and too in love with ourselves to imagine that so many people could hate and distrust us as much as they apparently do.

It's too late for any of us to fix this colossal misread and lapse in professional caution.

Now all we can do is wait to see how much this failure of vision will cost the public we supposedly serve. Just like the politicians, our job was to listen, and we talked instead.

Now America will do its own talking for a while. The world may never forgive us for not seeing this coming."

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