French burkini ban

SUBHEAD: Armed French police force woman to remove clothing on public beach. Have they lost their minds?

By Ben Quinn on 23 August 2016 for the Guardian -
(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/french-police-make-woman-remove-burkini-on-nice-beach)


Image above: A ticket given to the woman by police, which said she was not ‘wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism’. Police forced her to remove some clothing. From original article.

Authorities in 15 towns have banned burkinis, citing public concern following recent terrorist attacks in France.

Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini.

Authorities in several French towns have implemented bans on the burkini, which covers the body and head, citing concerns about religious clothing in the wake of recent terrorist killings in the country.

The images of police confronting the woman in Nice on Tuesday show at least four police officers standing over a woman who was resting on the shore at the town’s Promenade des Anglais, the scene of last month’s Bastille Day lorry attack.

After they arrive, she appears to remove a blue long-sleeved tunic, although one of the officers appears to take notes or issue an on-the-spot fine.

The photographs emerged as a mother of two also told on Tuesday how she had been fined on the beach in nearby Cannes wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.

Her ticket, seen by French news agency AFP, read that she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.

“I was sitting on a beach with my family,” said the 34-year-old who gave only her first name, Siam. “I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming.”

A witness to the scene, Mathilde Cousin, confirmed the incident. “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police,” she said. “Her daughter was crying.”

Last week, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini. Using language similar to the bans imposed earlier at other locations, the city barred clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks”.

The Nice ban refers specifically to the truck attack in the city on 14 July that claimed 86 lives, as well as the murder 12 days later of a Catholic priest near the northern city of Rouen.

The ban by several towns will come before France’s highest administrative court on Thursday following an appeal by the Human Rights League, a French NGO. It is challenging the decision by a lower court in Nice, which upheld a ban on the outfit by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

Villeneuve-Loubet, just west of Nice, was among the first of 15 towns to ban the burkini, triggering a fierce debate in France and elsewhere about the wearing of the full-body swimsuit, women’s rights and secularism.

A Corsican mayor has also banned burkinis, amid tensions on the island and violent clashes between villagers and three Muslim families. Skirmishes at a beach in the commune of Sisco earlier this month left four people injured and resulted in riot police being brought in to stop a crowd of 200 Corsicans marching into a housing estate with a high population of people of North African origin, shouting “this is our home”.

A police investigation is under way to determine the cause of the violent brawl, although there has been no confirmation from authorities as to whether anyone on the beach was wearing a burkini at the time.

Nevertheless the local Socialist mayor, Ange-Pierre Vivoni, banned the garments, describing the measure as necessary to “protect the population”.

The Nice tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadi attacks in France.

The burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach,” and “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by” the community, it added.

The ruling by the state council, France’s highest administrative court, will provide a legal precedent for towns to follow around the country.




French divided over burkini ban
SUBHEAD: France's burkini ban row divides government as court mulls legality.


By Angelique Christafis on 25 August 2016 for the Guardian -
(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/25/frances-burkini-ban-row-divides-government-court-mulls-legality)

France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, has clashed with his education minister amid growing divisions in the government over the controversial burkini bans on some beaches.

The education minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, one of the Socialist government’s leading feminist voices, was highly critical of the growing number of burkini bans, which have provoked debate after women were stopped by police for wearing headscarves and long-sleeved clothing on the beach.

France’s highest court – the state council – began hearing arguments on Thursday from the Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group, which are seeking to reverse a decision by the southern town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, to ban the full-body swimsuits.

Vallaud-Belkacem, who was born into a Muslim family in rural Morocco before moving to France aged four, told Europe 1 radio the proliferation of burkini bans was not welcome.

She said: “I think it’s a problem because it raises the question of our individual freedoms: how far will we go to check that an outfit is conforming to ‘good manners’?”

She warned that the bans had “let loose” verbal racism. The Socialist party had previously expressed outrage after a 34-year-old French woman was stopped by police on a beach in Cannes for sitting with her children wearing a headscarf and long trousers and was shouted at by a crowd to “go home”.

“My dream of society is a society where women are free and proud of their bodies,” said Vallaud-Belkacem. She warned that with tensions high after a series of terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic State, “we shouldn’t add oil to the fire” by banning burkinis.

But moments after Vallaud-Belkacem spoke, her comments were flatly contradicted by Valls, who reiterated his support for mayors who have banned the garments. Asked if the decrees amounted to racism, Valls said: “No, that’s a bad interpretation.” He said the full-body swimwear represented “the enslavement of women”.

Valls has said he supports the mayors who have issued local short-term decrees against burkinis, while refusing their demands for nationwide legislation against them.
The state council’s ruling, due shortly, is likely to set a precedent for other towns that have banned the burkini.

The administrative court in Nice ruled on Monday that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was necessary to prevent public disorder after the Bastille Day attack in Nice and the murder of a priest in Normandy.

 The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, condemned the ban on a visit to Paris on Thursday, his first overseas trip since taking office in May. “I’m quite firm on this. I don’t think anyone should tell women what they can and can’t wear. Full stop. It’s as simple as that.”

Khan’s counterpart in Paris, Anne Hidalgo, hosting London’s first Muslim mayor, called for an end to burkini “hysteria”, saying authorities should instead focus on improving social cohesion.

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy weighed into the controversy on Wednesday when he called the full-body burkini swimsuit a “provocation” that supported radicalised Islam. He told a TV interviewer: “We don’t imprison women behind fabric.”

This was followed by a rebuke from the woman who created the burkini, the Australian designer Aheda Zanetti, who said Sarkozy had misunderstood what the swimwear represented.

“He needs to go to the beach and maybe ask, what is a burkini swimsuit?” Zanetti said. “Burkini is just a word that describes a full-cover swimsuit, and it doesn’t symbolise anything to do with Muslims. It’s about encouraging our kids and children to learn how to swim.”

The political row over burkinis has intensified after a woman in a headscarf was photographed on a beach in Nice removing a long-sleeved top while surrounded by armed police.

The city banned the burkini on its beaches last week, following about 15 seaside areas in south-east France where mayors had done the same.

The series of pictures, taken by a local French news photographer, showed a woman dressed in leggings, a long-sleeved tunic and headscarf being approached by four officers.

As the police stand around her, she removes her long-sleeved top, revealing a short-sleeved top underneath. It is unclear whether or not the woman was ordered to do so. In another image, a police officer appears to write out a fine.

The Nice mayor’s office denied that the woman had been forced to remove clothing, telling Agence France-Presse that she was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her tunic.

Nice’s deputy mayor, Christian Estrosi, from Sarkozy’s Les R├ępublicains party, said a municipal police team had “acted perfectly to make sure that [the] decree was respected”. He threatened legal action against anyone disseminating pictures of municipal police. Twenty-four women have been stopped by police in the city since the burkini ban came into force.


The woman in Cannes, a former flight attendant from Toulouse who gave her name only as Siam, said she was wearing clothes and a headscarf when she was approached by police who wrote on her ticket that her clothes did not conform with “good manners” or French secularism.

“I wasn’t in a burkini, I wasn’t in a burqa, I wasn’t naked, so I considered my clothing was appropriate,” she said.

The various mayoral decrees do not explicitly use the word burkini; instead they ban “beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation”, citing reasons such as the need to protect public order, hygiene or French laws on secularism.

The state council’s ruling, due at 3pm (1pm GMT) on Friday, is likely to set a precedent for other towns that have introduced bans.
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Obama - Kill the pipeline!

SUBHEAD: Indigenous activists urge Obama to ask Army Corp to pull its permits for the project.

By Nadia Prupis on 25 August 2016 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/25/effort-kill-pipeline-groups-call-directly-obama-oppose-permits)


Image above: Solidarity protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline are growing around the country. Photo by Peg Hunter. From original article.

U.S. Judge James Boasberg said he would make a decision by September 9 on whether to halt work on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

As Indigenous activists maintained resistance to a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota this week, allied groups on Thursday sent an open letter to President Barack Obama asking him to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pull its permits for the project.

"After years of pipeline disasters—from the massive tar sands oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010, to the recent oil pipeline spills in the San Joaquin Valley and Ventura, CA—our organizations and our millions of members and supporters are concerned about the threat these projects pose to our safety, our health, and the environment," reads the letter (pdf), signed by groups such as the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, and 350.org.

The letter was published as a federal judge delayed a decision on allowing the construction to continue.

U.S. Judge James Boasberg said after a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that he would make a decision by September 9 on whether to halt work on the pipeline, amid a lawsuit filed against the corps by Standing Rock Sioux tribal leaders. Pipeline developers last week agreed to pause construction until the decision.

"Whatever the final outcome in court, I believe we have already established an important principle—that is, tribes will be heard on important matters that affect our vital interests," Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said Wednesday, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

If the $3.7 billion pipeline is built, it will transport 500,000 barrels of oil a day past the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota and through several rivers—including the Mississippi and Missouri rivers—which supply water to millions of people. It would traverse North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa, before eventually stopping in Illinois.

Camps have sprung up around the contested area, as the action against the pipeline stretches into its third week, and Amnesty International announced Wednesday that it had sent a delegation of human rights observers to the protest site. Opponents say the project would destroy sacred and culturally important lands and threaten their access to clean water.

Angela Bevans, an assistant attorney with Sioux background, told the Guardian on Thursday that "[a]ny delay is a win for us, it will give Dakota Access pause and it puts word out that Standing Rock still needs assistance on this."

"We've suffered incarceration, massacre and internment. This is just another chapter in the government allowing a private company to take something that doesn't belong to them just because they can," Bevans said. "It's not a matter of whether there will be a spill, it's when it will happen.

Everyone knows what is at stake and we won't be sacrificed. We are protecting the lifeblood of our people, these rivers are the arteries of Mother Earth."

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Officials cut water to Sioux 8/23/16


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The War on Cash

SUBHEAD: A war on independence, privacy, and informal unaccounted personal behavior - all for a small fee.

By Brett Scott on 19 August 2016 for the Long and Short -
(http://thelongandshort.org/society/war-on-cash)


Image above: Aloha Spirits in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii. Cash Only! From (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ch83WepWEAAAMoM.jpg).

[IB Publisher's note: There is a business in my town that's open 365 days a year from morning until latenight. It's called Aloha Spirits. It's a tiny store, but it provides a wide variety of things people really want - things they have habits for - including beer, liqueur, wine, sodas, cigarettes, vapes, tobacco, condoms, aspirin, decongestants, energy drinks, chips, candy, ice cream, gum and a variety of items that satisfy all the flavor cravings (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami). Aloha also has some fresh local produce and fruit like eggplants and pineapples. Aloha Spirits only accepts cash and so my secret desires are between us alone.]

Several months ago I stayed in an offbeat Amsterdam hotel that brewed its own beer but refused to accept cash for it. Instead, they forced me to use the Visa payment card network to get my UK bank to transfer €4 to their Dutch bank via the elaborate international correspondent banking system.
I was there with civil liberties campaigner Ben Hayes.

We were irritated by the anti-cash policy, something the hotel staff took for annoyance at the international payments charges we'd face. That wasn't it though. Our concern was an intuitive one about a potential future world in which we'd have to report our every economic move to a bank, and the effect this could have on marginalised people.

'Cashless society' is a euphemism for the "ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society".

Rather than an exchange occurring directly between the hotel and me, it takes the form of a "have your people talk to my people" affair. Various intermediaries message one another to arrange an exchange between our respective banks. That may be a convenient option, but in a cashless society it would no longer be an option at all. You'd have no choice but to conform to the intermediaries' automated bureaucracy, giving them a lot of power, and a lot of data about the microtexture of your economic life.

Our concerns are unfashionable. Without any explicit declaration, the War on Cash has begun. Proponents of digital payment systems are riding upon technology-friendly times to proclaim the imminent Death of Cash. Sweden leads in the drive to reach this state, but the UK is edging that way too. London buses stopped accepting cash in 2014, but do accept MasterCard and Visa contactless payment cards.

Every cash transaction you make is one that a payments intermediary like Visa takes no fee from, so it has an interest in making cash appear redundant, deviant and criminal. That's why, in 2016, Visa Europe launched its "Cashfree and Proud" campaign, to inform cardholders that "they can make a Visa contactless payment with confidence and feel liberated from the need to carry cash."

The company's press release declared the campaign "the latest step of Visa UK’s long term strategy to make cash 'peculiar' by 2020."

There you have it. An orchestrated strategy to make us feel weird about cash. Propaganda is a key weapon of war, and all sides present themselves as liberators. Visa comes across like a paternalistic commander when assuring us that we – like a baby taking first steps – will feel a sense of achievement at liberating ourselves from the burden of cash dependence. Visa's technology offers freedom without dependence or dangers.

Visa is joined by other propagandists. In 2014 Penny for London arrived, an apparently altruistic group set up by the Mayor's Fund for London and Barclaycard, using charity as a hook to switch people to contactless cards on the London Underground. PayPal plastered cities with billboards claiming that "new money doesn't need a wallet", along with a video proclaiming: "New money isn't paper, it's progress".

Astroturfing campaigns like No Cash Day are backed by American Express, highlighting such anti-cash themes as the environmental impact of banknotes. Other tactics include pointing out that criminals use cash, that it fuels the shadow economy, that it's unsafe, and that it facilitates tax evasion.

These arguments have notable shortcomings. Criminals use many things that we keep – like cars – and fighting crime doesn't take priority over maintaining other social goods like civil liberties. The 'shadow economy' is a derogatory term used by elites to describe the economic activities of people they neither understand nor care about.

As for safety, having your wallet cash stolen pales in comparison to having your savings obliterated in a digital account hack. And if you care about tax justice, start with the mass corporate tax avoidance facilitated by the formal banking sector.

The peculiar feature about this war, however, is that only one side is fighting. Very few media champions defend cash. It is like a taken-for-granted public utility, whereas digital payments platforms are run by private companies with an incentive to flood the media with their key messages. When they fight this war, their target is our cultural belief in cash, and the belief that its provision should be a public right.

The UK government does not plan to maintain that right, and is siding with the payments industry. Their position is summed up by economist Kenneth Rogoff in his new book The Curse of Cash.

He argues that, apart from facilitating crime and tax evasion, cash hampers central banks from setting negative interest rates. In the absence of cash, everyone must keep their money in the form of digital bank deposits. During recessions central banks could then use the banking system to deliberately corrode people's deposits via negative charges, 'inspiring' them to spend rather than hoard.

The emergent consensus among economic and political elites is that this is the direction to go in, but to manufacture consent for this requires a drip-drip erosion of public resistance. Hearts and minds must be shown that the change represents inevitable and desirable progress.

Anyone defending cash in this context will be labelled as an anti-progress, reactionary, and nostalgic Luddite. That's why we must not defend cash. Rather, we should focus on pointing out that the Death of Cash means the Rise of Something Else. We are fighting a broader battle to maintain alternatives to the growing digital panopticon that is emerging all around us.

To understand this conflict, we must step back. A monetary transaction involves specific goods or services being exchanged for tokens giving access to general goods and services from others. The pub landlord hands me beer at night if I transfer tokens that allow him to get cigarettes from a shopkeeper in the morning.

There are two ways to implement this though.

The first is to give the tokens a physical form. In this scenario, 'getting rich' means accumulating those physical things and 'making a payment' means handing them over to someone else. They are bearer instruments, which means nobody keeps a record of who owns them. Rather, whoever holds them owns them. This is your wallet with notes in it. This is cash.

Alternatively, you can use a ledger. Someone sets up a database with spaces allotted to different people. This is then used to keep a record of who has tokens. These tokens have no physical form, but are written into existence. They are 'data objects', and they are 'moved around' by editing the record.

The keeper of the ledger thus maintains an account of what money is attributable to you, 'keeping score' of it for you. In this system, 'getting rich' means accumulating a high score on your account.

'Making a payment' involves identifying yourself to the keeper of the ledger via a communications system, and requesting that they edit your account, and the account of whoever you are paying.
Does this sounds familiar? It is your bank account.

Old banks used actual books to maintain these account ledgers, but modern banks use digital databases housed in huge datacentres. You then interact with them via your internet banking portal, your phone app, or by going into a branch. This is not a minor part of the monetary system. Over 90 per cent of the UK's money supply exists nowhere but on bank databases.

It is upon this underlying infrastructure that payment card companies like Visa build their operations. They deal with situations in which someone with one bank account finds themselves in a shop owned by someone else with another bank account. Rather than the pub landlord giving me his bank details for a manual transfer, my card sends messages through Visa's network to automatically arrange the editing of our respective accounts.

Many fintech – financial technology – startups specialise in finding ways to augment, gamify or streamline elements of this underlying infrastructure. Thus, I might use a mobile phone fingerprint reader to authorise changes to the bank databases. Much fintech 'disruption' merely involves putting slicker clothes on the same old emperor.

The use of high-speed communications systems to rearrange binary code information about who has what money might be new, but ledger money is as old as any bearer form.

The Rai stones of the island of Yap were huge and largely unmovable stones that, while seeming like physical tokens, were a form of ledger money. Rather than being physically moved – like cash would – a record of who owned the stones was kept in people's heads, stored in their communal memory.

If the owners wished to 'transfer' a stone to another, they 'edited the ledger' of who possessed the tokens by merely informing the community. Why physically roll the stone if you can just get everyone to remember that it has 'moved' to somebody else? The main reason that we struggle to recognise this as a form of cashlessness is that the ledger is invisible and informal.

Cashless society, though, is presented as futuristic progress rather than past history, a fashionable motif of futurists, entrepreneurs and innovation gurus. Nevertheless, while there are real trends in behaviour and tastes to be spotted in society, there are also trends in behaviour and taste among trend-spotters.

They are paid to fixate upon change and so have an incentive to hype minor shifts into 'end of history' deaths, births and revolutions.

Innovation communities are always at risk of losing touch within an echo chamber of buzzwords, amplifying one another's speculations into concrete future certainties. These prediction factories always produce the same two unprovable sentences: "In the future we will… " and "In the future we will no longer… ". Thus, in the future we will all use digital payments. In the future we will no longer use cash.

This is the utopia presented by the growing digital payments industry, which wishes to turn the perpetual mirage of cashless society into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, a key trick to promoting your interests is to speak of them as obvious inevitabilities that are already under way. It makes others feel silly for not recognising the apparently obvious change.

To create a trend you should also present it as something that other people demand. A sentence like "All over the world, people are switching to digital payments" is not there to describe what other people want. It's there to tell you what you should want by making you feel out of sync with them. Here's fintech investor Rich Ricci invoking the spectre of millennials, with their strange moral power to define the future. They are repulsed by the revolting physicality of cash, and feel all warm towards fintech gadgets.

But these are not, on the whole, real people. They are a weapon in the arsenal of marketing departments used to make older people feel prehistoric. We're not pushing this. We're just responding to what the new generation demands.

And so we get Visa's Cashfree and Proud campaign. If people really were ashamed of cash, they wouldn't need ads to tell them. Visa must engineer that shame to teach you that what you want is the same as what they want. And if you don't want it, just remember that cashless society is inevitable. Don't get left behind.

But this system will leave many behind. It is hardwired to include only those with access to a bank account; and bank accounts are hosted by profit-seeking corporations that operate at scale. They have no time for your individual idiosyncrasies. They cannot make profit off anyone who cannot easily be categorized and modeled on a spreadsheet.

So, good luck to you if you find yourself with only sporadic appearances in the official books of state, if you are a rural migrant without a recorded birthdate, identifiable parents, or an ID number. Sorry if you lack markers of stability, if you are a rogue traveller without permanent address, phone number or email.

Apologies if you have no symbols of status, if you're an informal economy hustler with no assets and low, inconsistent income. Condolences if you have no official stamps of approval from gatekeeper bodies, like university certificates or records of employment at a formal company. Goodbye if you have a poor record of engagements with recognised institutions, like a criminal record or a record of missed payments.

This is no small problem. The World Bank estimates that there are two billion adults without bank accounts, and even those who do have them still often rely upon the informal flexibility of cash for everyday transactions. These are people bearing indelible markers of being incompatible with formal institutional space. They are often too unprofitable for banks to justify the expense of setting them up with accounts. This is the shadow economy, invisible to our systems.

The shadow economy is not just 'poor' people. It’s potentially anybody who hasn't internalised the correct state-corporate narrative of normality, and anyone seeking a lifestyle outside of the mainstream.

The future presented by self-styled innovation gurus has no scope for flexible, unpredictable or invisible people. They represent analogue backwardness. The future is a world of endless consumer choice built upon an inescapable digital uniformity of automated rules, a matrix outside which you can neither exist nor think.

Back in Amsterdam I hang out with Ancilla van de Leest of the Netherlands Pirate Party. She only visits establishments that accept cash, true to her political belief in individual privacy from prying eyes.
It would be wrong to assume, however, that Ancilla's primary concern involves surveillance by a Big Brother-style bogeyman. It's true that your spending patterns reveal much about how you actually live, and the privacy implications of having these recorded in searchable database format are only starting to be uncovered.

We know that targeted individual surveillance of payments occurs by the likes of the FBI and NSA, but routinised mass surveillance could become a norm. Imagine automatic flagging systems triggered by anyone engaging in a combination of transactions deemed subversive. Tax authorities are bound to be building systems to flag discrepancies between your spending patterns and your declared profits.

It's also true that at London fintech gatherings the excited visions of cashless society now occasionally come with a disclaimer that we should think about the power granted to those who control the system.

Not only can payments intermediaries see every time you buy access to a porn site, but they have the ability to censor your transactions, like Visa, PayPal and MasterCard attempting to choke WikiLeaks by refusing to process people's donations.

We could imagine some harsh sci-fi scenario in which a theocratic regime issues decrees to payments processors to block anyone buying books deemed sexually deviant. Such decrees could be automatically enforced via code, with subroutines remotely triggering smart locks to place the offending miscreant under house arrest while automatically deducting a fine from their account.

Such automated dystopias should ideally be avoided, so a dose of paranoia about digital payments systems is a healthy impulse, even if it might be unwarranted.

But that isn't really the point. What's more important to Ancilla and me is the looming sense of an external watcher that 'assists', 'guides' or 'helps' you in your life, tracking and logging your moves in order to influence you.

The watcher is not a single entity. It's a collective array being incrementally built in stages by startups and companies around the world as we speak.

We feel it seeping deeper into our lives, a mesh of connected devices, cookies and sensors. Whether we visualise it as the benevolent eyes of a parent, or the menacing eyes of a tyrant doesn't matter. The point is that the eyes have the potential to monitor you, all the time.

The proclaimed Death of Cash is thus an episode in the broader drama that is the Death of Privacy, the death of breathing room, and the death of informal, non-measured, unaccounted-for behaviour. Every action you take must forever be attached to your digital persona, dragging with it a data trail extending back to the day you were born. We face creating an entire generation of people who do not know what it feels like to not be monitored.

For many economists, the War on Cash will be resolved by their favourite mystical demigod, the market. This guiding force prevails when utility-maximising producers and consumers go around making rational choices with perfect information about their options, and with total freedom to choose whether or not to exercise those options. If digital payment transaction costs are lower, then cash will rightly die.

The pristine realm of market theory is unfit to assess the dynamics of this situation. Our sense of what constitutes a legitimate choice does not form in a vacuum. We are born into social power structures that tell us what normality is, and that shame us for not choosing 'correctly'. You might be a rebel who challenges prevailing cultural norms, but those norms are conditioned by those with the greatest financial and media clout.

At this moment the blaring of propaganda extolling the short-term conveniences of digital payment is dulling our critical impulses to rearrange our cultural DNA. Who is thinking about the longer-term implications of building our lives around these systems, and thereby locking ourselves into dependence upon them?

Unlike a battle fought using violence, hegemony is the assertion of power by getting people to believe in it, to see it as inevitable, unassailable and normal. Visa's four-year plan is one such exercise, and once we've internalised it, we'll choose to build their power.

We'll feel strangely comforted by the MasterCard billboard endorsed by the Mayor of London. We'll find ourselves downloading ApplePay like a dazed child accepting a gift.

So, let's prepare for the War on Cash. Remember, this is not about romanticising the £10 notes with the Queen on them. This is about maintaining alternatives to the stifling hygiene of the digital panopticon being constructed to serve the needs of profit-maximising, cost-minimising, customer-monitoring, control-seeking, behaviour-predicting commercial bureaucrats.

And fear not, the Germans are onside, along with the criminals, the homeless, the street-side buskers and an army of people whose lives will never get a five-star rating on a mainstream reputation scoring system.

We will forge alliances with purveyors of non-bank alternative currency systems; and yes, we will maintain the option to use our payment cards. Because what we fight for is precisely that. The option.
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EPA vs Pflueger and other violators

SOURCE:  Michael Guard Sheehan (mailto:hanaleirivermichael@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: EPA closes Pflueger case on Kauai but ignores other owner's environmental violations.

By Dean Higuchi on 24 August 2016 for the EPA.gov -
(https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-closes-pflueger-stormwater-case-after-successful-restoration-kauai-property)


Image above: This photo from 2004 was taken prior to environmental damage caused by this unauthorized grading and landscaping by retired car dealer James Pflueger on his Pila’a property. From (http://www.staradvertiser.com/breaking-news/pfluegers-environmental-repairs-on-kauai-shoreline-meets-epa-muster/).

Editorial comment  by Michael Guard Sheehan:
This case is a tragic case of selective enforcement against one man while surrounding him were numerous persons and politicians doing far worse to the Environment with their own illegal digging and construction in Habitats for Endangered Species. Instead of self-congratulatory news releases, your organization should be shamefully quiet and reflective.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the successful conclusion of its case against James Pflueger for construction activities that damaged his former property and the beach and coral reefs at Pila’a on Kauai. The consent decree settling the Clean Water Act violations was closed after Pflueger stabilized and restored the slopes and streams.

“Thanks to the work completed under this settlement, this once-degraded land has a healthy population of native trees and shrubs and restored stream channels,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With continued care by the new owners, these restoration efforts can be sustained for the future.”

EPA initiated its case after Pflueger conducted extensive grading and construction at the 378-acre coastal site without obtaining necessary Clean Water Act permits. Those activities included excavating a hillside to expose a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and dumping dirt and rock into three perennial streams. As a result, massive discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowed to the ocean at Pila’a Bay in November 2001.

The settlement required Pflueger to build a wall to stabilize the road cut adjacent to the shoreline, remove dam material in streams, install erosion controls on roadways and trails, terrace slopes to slow runoff, use native plants to control erosion, and control invasive plants and animals on the property. He was also required to reconstruct natural rock-lined stream beds and reestablish native plants along the banks.

The 2006 stormwater settlement was the largest for federal Clean Water Act violations at a single site, by a single landowner, in the United States. Pflueger paid $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawaii and the United States, and was expected to spend approximately $5.3 million to conduct the required restoration efforts.

The State of Hawaii was a co-plaintiff in EPA’s case against Pflueger, and the settlement was joined by the Limu Coalition and Kilauea neighborhood organizations, which had also filed a lawsuit against Pflueger.

EPA and local community organizations involved in the settlement conducted oversight inspections throughout a ten-year restoration effort that was slowed by funding obstacles and the necessity of adapting the restoration projects to changing field conditions.

.

US invades Syria & warns Russia

SUBHEAD: This could means that the U.S. not only is at war against Syria, but at war with Russia.

By Eric Zuesse on 23 August 2016 for Counter Current -
(http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/08/23/u-s-invades-syria-and-warns-russia/)


Image above: US troops leaving transoport plane. From (http://alfa-img.com/show/us-troops-deployed-to-syria.html).

On Monday, August 22nd, the United States government — which demands the overthrow of the internationally-recognized-as-legal government of Syria — officially announced that America’s military forces in Syria will continue to occupy Syrian land, no matter what the Syrian government says, and will shoot down any Syrian planes that fly over U.S. forces there and that attack them.
As reported on Monday by Al-Masdar News (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/pentagon-us-ready-syrian-russian-jets/):
The Pentagon has announced that the USA is ready to down Syrian and Russian planes that they claim threaten American advisers who by international law are illegally operating in northern Syria.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis claimed that US jets attempted to intercept Syrian planes to protect the American advisers operating illegally with Kurdish forces in Syria after Syrian government jets bombed areas of Hasakah when Kurdish police began an aggression against the National Defense Force.
On Monday, another Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, said, “We would continue to advise the Syrian regime to steer clear of those areas.”
“We are going to defend our people on the ground, and do what we need to defend them,” Cook told reporters.
This means that the U.S. government will not allow the Syrian government to expel or otherwise eliminate U.S. forces in Syria. The Syrian government never invited U.S. forces into Syria, but the U.S. now officially dares the Syrian government to assert its sovereignty over the areas where America’s troops are located.

Al-Masdar continued:
When pushed further about Russia, Cook made it clear that the US would make the same aggression against Russian jets who are operating legally with the Syrian government’s approval and coordination.
“If they threaten US forces, we always have the right to defend our forces,” Cook said.

This means that the U.S. not only is at war against the legitimate government of Syria, but that the U.S. government will also be at war against Russia if Russian forces (which the Syrian government did invite into Syria) defends Syrian forces from attacks in Syria by U.S. forces — forces that are illegally there.

These U.S. forces number only 300, of whom 250 were sent to Syria on April 24th to serve as advisors to other illegal military forces in Syria.

The vast majority of the illegal military forces in Syria are jihadists who had been hired by the Saudi government and the Qatari government, and supplied with U.S. weapons, to overthrow the Syrian government. Most of the other illegal forces in Syria are Kurdish forces, supported by the U.S. government to break Syria apart so as to create a separate Kurdish state in the majority-Kurdish far north-eastern tip of Syria.

The primary U.S. goal in Syria is to overthrow the Syrian government, which is led by the Baath Party, Syria’s secular Party. Many Arabs insist upon Sharia, or Islamic law, but Syria’s Arabs are an exception; the Baath Party is and has always been supported by the majority of the Syrian people, including by most of Syria’s Arabs. Most Syrians are strongly opposed to Sharia law. Syria is the most secular nation in the Middle East.

For example, when Western-sponsored polls were taken in Syria, after the start in 2011 of the importation of jihadists into Syria, those polls showed that 55% of Syrians want Bashar al-Assad (the current leader of the Baath Party) to remain as Syria’s President, and “82% agree ‘IS [Islamic State] is US and foreign made group’.” Furthermore, only “22% agree ‘IS is a positive influence’,” and that 22% was the lowest level of support shown by Syrians for any of the presented statements, except for, “21% agree ‘Prefer life now than under Assad’” — meaning that Syrians believe that things were better before the U.S.-sponsored jihadists entered Syria to overthrow Assad.

Clearly, when “82% agree ‘IS [Islamic State] is US and foreign made group’,” very few people in Syria support the 300 U.S. forces there. Not only is the U.S. an invader, but it (and especially the forces that the U.S. supports in Syria — most especially the jihadists, who are the vast majority of these forces) made life far worse (and far shorter) for virtually all Syrians.

Furthermore, that same poll found: “70% agree ‘Oppose division of country’.” Consequently, the Kurdish separatists are likewise opposed by the vast majority of Syrians.

The Syrian government, from now on, is in the uncomfortable position of having invaders on its territory, and of being warned that one of them — the U.S. — will be fully at war against Syria if Syria tries to expel them.

Russia too is now under warning from the United States, that, if Russia, an ally of Syria, takes any action to expel or kill any of the U.S. invaders in Syria, then the U.S. will also be at war against Russia.

The U.S. government is now also daring the Russian government. Perhaps the U.S. strategy here is to force Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, either to back down, and abandon its Syrian ally, or else to launch a nuclear strike against the United States.

If Putin backs down, that would greatly diminish his support from the Russian people, which is above 80% in all polls, including Western-sponsored ones. Perhaps this is the strategy of U.S. President Barack Obama, to drive Vladimir Putin out of office — something that might occur if the U.S. drives Bashar al-Assad out of office.

As Seymour Hersh reported, on 7 January 2016, “the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then [in the summer of 2013] led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya,” and so Dempsey quit, and Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, was fired over the matter.

“The DIA’s reporting, he [Flynn] said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’”

Flynn is now a foreign-affairs advisor to the Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who is being criticized by the Democratic Presidential candidate, for being soft on Russia and insufficiently devoted to the U.S. goal of overthrowing Assad.

•  Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


.



High radioactivity in Tokyo

SUBHEAD: Not only Fukushima is still contaminated with radioactive particles from the meltdowns.

By Admin on 22 August 2016 for ENE News -
(http://enenews.com/tv-astronomical-amounts-radiation-found-downtown-tokyo-horrific-readings-detected-children-playing-fukushima-extreme-contamination-found-food-grown-school-lunches-nuclear-expert-shocked-upsettin)


Image above: Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer of Fairwinds Associates,  on his knees in Tokyo collecting curbside dirt particles. Tests indicate sample measured 4,000 Bq/kg on a street outside METI, Japan nuclear regulator. From (https://nuclear-news.net/2016/05/11/arnie-gundersen-measured-4000-bqkg-on-a-tokyo-street/).

Margaret Harrington, host:
I know you mentioned Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer at Fairewinds, and he said that he measured the radiation there, too. Could you talk about that a little bit?

Maggie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education founder and CEO:
He’s working with some other scientists who are studying — both Japanese scientists, the samples that they took, and the US scientists who are evaluating the samples — and they’re finding astronomical amounts of radiation, even in downtown Tokyo outside of METI’s door. METI is the regulatory agency over nuclear power…

When he and others were downtown in Tokyo, they took samples right there in a garden right outside the door and on the front doormat, and these are really, really high samples. Frightening, because people walking in Tokyo will then be inhaling that dust. What was the film we saw from Japan that had the mothers who were in an area where kids play and run from middle school?

Caroline Phillips, Fairewinds Energy Education:
It’s a fantastic video… it’s a mothers organization, they live in the Fukushima Prefecture and they’re actually using Geiger counters that have been issued by the government. They’re walking along the river [in Fukushima City.]

Maggie Gundersen: What’s so tragic about it – kids are running along dirt paths doing gym class and track and things like that and the mothers are right down in areas that are not posted and the kids can go after school and play, and people do nature hikes and stuff. And the radiation readings are horrific.

Gendai Business Online (article in Japanese here), Jun 14, 2016:
Just before the 5th anniversary of the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, a group of young girls in the city of Minami-Soma rode their bikes to school past a shocked and saddened pedestrian. That upset observer was Arnie Gundersen, nuclear reactor expert…

“What surprised me at this visit to Japan… is that the decontaminated area is contaminated again,”

Mr. Gundersen said while explaining why it was such as sad shock to witness the girls on their bicycles. “This was not what I had expected. I had thought that we would not find such high doses of radiation in the decontaminated area. But, sadly, our results prove otherwise.”…

Gundersen collected samples of dust [though] the official data cannot be released before the publication of formal scientific papers, it is evident that high doses of radiation, usually found in nuclear waste, was detected from these samples.
“This means that highly radioactive dust is flying around the city. In other words, the decontaminated land is contaminated again. Little girls are affected by the radiation 20 times as much as adult men. The Japanese government’s standard of 20 mSv is based on exposure assessments for adult men. The girls on their bicycles are actually being affected by a radiation dose equivalent to as much as 400 mSv.”
Mr. Gundersen also pointed out that human lungs are heavily affected by internal exposures to radiation.
“At this visit, I wore a radiation proof mask that can filter out 99.98% of radiation for six hours. I sent my filter to the lab, and they found a high dose of Cesium. But, unfortunately, the Japanese government only cares about the number on a Geiger counter and does not consider the internal exposure. This has resulted in a hazardous downplay of this kind of data and human lungs are affected by the serious internal exposure.”…
The radiation from the mountains are coming back to the city by way of wind and rain. Mr. Gundersen noted the extreme radioactive contamination of the mountains… vegetables grown in that area exceed the government’s standard by 1500 Bq.

These vegetables were sold at the MichinoEki in Tochigi prefecture, and the bamboo shoot grown in this contaminated region was used for elementary school lunches in Utsunomiya.

These school lunches contained more than twice as much radiation as the government’s standard…

However, the government continues to push for the end of people’s relocation and force the return to recontaminated areas…

Mr. Gundersen also found that Tokyo remains contaminated. He measured dust… and found a high dose of radiation. That dust is in the air that will be inhaled by the visitors and athletes of the 2020 Olympic Games. Needless to say, the current residents are inhaling it every day…


Video above: Interview on  Vermont CCTV channel 17 with representative of Fairwinds Energy Education 6/20/16. From (https://youtu.be/s3ftKuV5Zis).

See also:
Ea O KA Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - What me worry? 11/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Monju Madness 6/19/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11
.

Nuclear power and climate failure

SUBHEAD: Evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive.

By Andrea Germanos on 22 August 2016 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/22/new-study-shows-how-clinging-nuclear-power-means-climate-failure)


Image above: Calder Hall in Cumbria, England was the world’s first nuclear power station (and UK nuclear weapons development site). It is now decommissioned and is used  primarily for support decommissioning of other historic plants, and reprocessing fuel from UK and international nuclear reactors (and weapons). From (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/nuclearpower/10392686/A-new-dawn-for-nuclear-power.html).

While it's been touted by some energy experts as a so-called "bridge" to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure.

For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union's (EU) 2020 Strategy.

That 10-year strategy (pdf), proposed in 2010, calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by least 20 percent compared to 1990 levels and increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20 percent.

The researchers found that "progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments."

For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal.

Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants.

The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity.

"With reference to reductions in carbon emissions and adoption of renewables, clear relationships emerge between patterns of achievement in these 2020 Strategy goals and the different groupings of nuclear use," they wrote.

For non-nuclear Group 1 countries, the average percentage of reduced emissions was six percent, and they had an average of a 26 percent increase in renewable energy consumption.

Group 2 had the highest average percentage of reduced emissions at 11 percent, and they also boosted renewable energy to 19 percent.

Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up three percent, and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.

"Looked at on its own, nuclear power is sometimes noisily propounded as an attractive response to climate change," said Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, in a media statement. "Yet if alternative options are rigorously compared, questions are raised about cost-effectiveness, timeliness, safety, and security."

"Looking in detail at historic trends and current patterns in Europe, this paper substantiates further doubts," he continued. "By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive," he said.

The new study focused on Europe, and Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy and director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, stated, "If nothing else, our paper casts doubt on the likelihood of a nuclear renaissance in the near-term, at least in Europe."

Yet advocates of clean energy over on the other side of the Atlantic said the recent plan to close the last remaining nuclear power plant in California and replace it with renewable energy marked the "end of an atomic era" and said it could serve as "a clear blueprint for fighting climate change."

NRDC president Rhea Suh wrote of the proposal:
"It proves we can cut our carbon footprint with energy efficiency and renewable power, even as our aging nuclear fleet nears retirement. And it strikes a blow against the central environmental challenge of our time, the climate change that threatens our very future."
The new study was published in the journal Climate Policy.
.

Of horseshoe crabs and empathy

SUBHEAD: We need to share our experiences of beauty, of sorrow, and of love for our land, so as to infect others with the same.

By Charles Einstein on 26 July 2016 for CharlesEinstein.net -
(http://charleseisenstein.net/of-horseshoe-crabs-and-empathy/)


Image above: Horseshoe crab walks on the sand near shorebreak. From (http://planetanimalzone.blogspot.com/2012/05/horseshoe-crab-limulus-polyphemus.html).

“That estuary used to be full of kelp and eels when we were kids,” said Stella. “It was full of all kinds of wildlife. Crabs, clams, horseshoe crabs – there was a mussel bed right over there – one time I was swimming in that pond and came face to face with an eel.”

Stella was talking about the spot where the Narrow River meets the Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island, one of her haunts when she was growing up. It’s a pretty spot, and I wouldn’t have known it was so depleted of life unless my wife had told me.

Neither of us knows the reason why the eels disappeared. We shared a moment of sadness, and then Stella recalled another memory that somehow seemed to explain it. She and her friend Beverly would sometimes visit that part of the beach in the morning on what they called “rescue missions.”

At night, someone would come and flip over all the horseshoe crabs that had crawled onto the sand, leaving them to die there helplessly. Stella and Beverly would flip them rightside-up again. “Whoever was doing it had no reason to whatsoever,” she said, “It was senseless killing.”

This is the kind of story that makes me feel like I’ve detoured onto the wrong planet.

We didn’t see any horseshoe crabs on this visit. They are a rare sight here now. I don’t know if that is because people killed too many of them, or because of the general deterioration of the ecosystem.

Or maybe it is because of pesticide run-off, agricultural runoff, land development, pharmaceutical residues, changing patterns of rainfall caused by development or climate change…

Maybe the horseshoe crabs are sensitive to one of these, or maybe the creatures they eat are, or it could be that the sensitive one is a microorganism that reproduces on a mollusk that lives on kelp serves some important role in the food chain that feeds the horseshoe crab.

I feel quite sure that whatever the scientific explanation for the die-off of the horseshoe crabs and eels, the real reason is the senseless killing Stella described. I mean not so much the killing part, but the senseless part – the paralysis of our sensing function and the atrophy of our empathy.

The Rush to a Cause
The crabs and kelp and eels are all gone. The mind searches for the cause – to understand, to blame, and then to fix – but in a complex non-linear system, it is often impossible to isolate causes.

This quality of complex systems collides with our culture’s general approach to problem-solving, which is first to identify the cause, the culprit, the germ, the pest, the badguy, the disease, the wrong idea, or the bad personal quality, and second to dominate, defeat, or destroy that culprit.
Problem: crime; Solution: lock up the criminals.
Problem: terrorist acts; Solution: kill the terrorists.
Problem: immigration; Solution: keep out the immigrants.
Problem: Lyme Disease; Solution: identify the pathogen and find a way to kill it.
Problem: racism; Solution: shame the racists and illegalize racist acts.
Problem: ignorance; Solution: education.
Problem: gun violence; Solution: control guns.
Problem: climate change; Solution: reduce carbon emissions.
Problem: obesity; Solution: reduce caloric intake.
You can see from the above examples how reductionistic thinking pervades the entire political spectrum, or certainly mainstream liberalism and conservatism. When no proximate cause is obvious, we tend to feel uncomfortable, often to the extent of finding some reasonable candidate for “the cause” and going to war against that.

The recent spate of mass shootings in America are a case in point. Liberals blame guns and advocate gun control; conservatives blame Islam, immigrants, or Black Lives Matter and advocate crackdowns on those. And of course, both sides especially like to blame each other.

Superficially it is obvious that you can’t have mass shootings without guns, but that assignment of cause bypasses more troubling questions that don’t admit easy solutions. Where does all that hatred and rage come from? What social conditions give rise to it? If those persist, then does taking away the guns really do much good?

Someone could use a bomb, a truck, poison… is the solution then a complete lockdown of society, a society of ubiquitous and ever-increasing surveillance, security, and control? That is the solution we’ve been pursuing my whole lifetime, but I haven’t noticed people feeling any safer.

Perhaps what we are facing in the multiple crises converging upon us is a breakdown in our basic problem-solving strategy, which itself rests on deeper narratives that I call the Story of Separation. One of its threads is the idea that nature is something outside ourselves that is amenable to our control; that indeed, human progress consists in the endless expansion of that control.

Learning of the die-off of the estuary, I myself felt the impulse to find the culprit, to find someone to hate and something to blame. I wish solving our problems were that easy! If we could identify one thing as THE cause, the solution would be so much more accessible. But what is comfortable is not always true.

What if the cause is a thousand interrelated things that implicate all of us and how we live? What if it is something so all-encompassing and so intertwined with life as we know it, that when we glimpse its enormity we know not what to do?

That moment of humble, powerless unknowing where the sadness of an ongoing loss washes through us and we cannot escape into facile solutioneering, is a powerful and necessary moment. It has the power to reach into us deeply enough to wipe away frozen ways of seeing and ingrained patterns of response. It gives us fresh eyes, and it loosens the tentacles of fear that hold us in normality.

The ready solution is like a narcotic, diverting attention from the pain without healing the wound. You may have noticed this narcotic effect, the quick escape into “let’s do something about it.”

Of course, in those instances where cause and effect is simple and we know exactly what to do, then the quick escape is the right one. If you have a splinter in your foot, remove the splinter.

But most situations are more complicated than that, including the ecological crisis on this planet. In those cases, the habit of rushing to the most convenient, superficially obvious causal agent distracts us from a more meaningful response. It prevents us from looking underneath, and underneath, and underneath.

What is underneath the callous cruelty of those horseshoe crab flippers? What is underneath the massive use of lawn chemicals? What is underneath the huge suburban McMansions? The system of chemical agriculture? The overfishing of the coastal waters? We get to the foundational systems, stories, and psychologies of our civilization.

Am I saying never to take direct action because after all, the systemic roots are unfathomably deep? No. Where the unknowing, perplexity, and grief takes us is to a place where we can act on multiple levels simultaneously, because we see each dimension of cause within a bigger picture and we don’t jump to easy, false solutions.

The Mother of all Causes
When I wondered about the cause of the estuary die-off, an hypothesis may have jumped into your mind – climate change, the culprit du jour for nearly every environmental problem. If we could identify one thing as THE cause, the solution would be so much more accessible.

As I was doing research for my book, I googled “effect of soil erosion on climate change,” and the first two pages of results showed the converse of my search – the effect of climate change on soil erosion.

The same for biodiversity. No doubt it is true that climate change exacerbates all kinds of environmental problems, but the rush to name a unitary cause to a complex problem should give us pause. The pattern is familiar.

Do you think the “fight against climate change,” which starts by identifying an enemy, CO2, will bring better results than the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, or the War on Poverty?

Now I am certainly not saying that eliminating fossil fuels is an “easy, false solution.” It does not represent as thorough a change, however, as the change required to halt ecocide here, there, and everywhere.

Conceivably, we could eliminate carbon emissions by finding alternative fuel sources to power industrial civilization. It may be unrealistic upon deeper investigation, but it is at least conceivable that our basic way of life could continue more or less unchanged.

Not so for ecosystem destruction generally, which implicates every aspect of the modern way of life: mines, quarries, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, military technology, global transport, housing…

By the same token, the phenomenon of climate skepticism attests to the possibility of disbelieving in anthropogenic global warming entirely, since it requires that we unify multiple phenomena into a single theory that depends on the authority of scientists.

No such faith is required to believe something has happened to the Narrow River estuary, or one of the destroyed places from your own childhood. It is undeniable and has the power to penetrate us deeply whether we “believe in” something or not.

It may sound like I am advocating refocusing on local environmental issues at the expense of climate change, but this is a false and dangerous distinction.

As I have researched climate change, it has become increasingly apparent that the contribution of deforestation, industrial agriculture, wetlands destruction, biodiversity loss, overfishing, and other maltreatment of land and sea toward climate change is far greater than most scientists had believed; by the same token, the capacity of intact ecosystems to modulate climate and absorb carbon is much greater than had been appreciated.

This means that even if we cut carbon emissions to zero, if we don’t also reverse ongoing ecocide on the local level everywhere, the climate will still die a death of a million cuts.

Contrary to the presupposition implied in my aforementioned google search results, the global depends on the health of the local. There may not be any global solution to the climate crisis, except to say that we need, globally, to restore and protect millions of local ecosystems.

To focus on globally applicable solutions tends to diminish the importance of local environmental issues. We see that already with the growing identification of “green” with “low carbon.”

We might, therefore, be wary of hurrying to implement globalized solutions that entail giving even more power to global institutions. Indeed, global carbon policies have already generated much ecological damage from hydroelectric and biofuels projects.

Again, am I advocating that we stop seeking to cut carbon emissions? No. But when we overemphasize that global factor, which fits so easily into our customary find-an-enemy approach to problem-solving, we risk overlooking the deeper matrix of causes and worsening the problem, just as our other “Wars on (fill in the blank)” have done.

If everyone focused their love, care, and commitment on protecting and regenerating their local places, while respecting the local places of others, then a side effect would be the resolution of the climate crisis.

If we strove to restore every estuary, every forest, every wetlands, every piece of damaged and desertified land, every coral reef, every lake, and every mountain, not only would most drilling, fracking, and pipelining have to stop, but the biosphere would become far more resilient too.

But where does such love, care, courage, and commitment come from? It can only come from personal relationship to the damage being suffered. That’s why we need to tell stories like Stella’s.

We need to share our experiences of beauty, of sorrow, and of love for our land, so as to infect others with the same. I am sure something stirred in you at Stella’s words, even if your own childhood was in the mountains not the ocean.

When we transmit to each other our love of earth, mountain, water, and sea to others, and stir the grief over what has been lost; when we hold ourselves and others in the rawness of it without jumping right away to reflexive postures of solution and blame, we are penetrated deep to the place where commitment lives.

We grow in our empathy. We come back to our senses.

Is this “the solution” to climate change? I am not offering it as a solution. Without it, though, no solution, no matter cleverly designed a policy it may be, is going to work.



Horseshoe crabs and intolerance

SUBHEAD: my killing spree with the horseshoe crabs on Fire Island is not the only terrible thing, but one of the most regretted things I have ever done.

By Juan Wilson on 24 August 2016 for Island Breath -
(http://charleseisenstein.net/of-horseshoe-crabs-and-empathy/
This article resonated with me as soon as I read the title. When I was fifteen my family rented an old house in the town of Saltair on the bay side of Fire Island (a long narrow barrier island) across the Great South Bay from Long Island.

From the wooden walkway in front of the house to the "past its prime' bulkhead holding back the Great South Bay was about twenty feed of sand. Some of that sand, where the bulkhead had lost a few boards run out into the bay and allowed tidal water in behind the bulkhead line. that's where I first noticed a few horseshoe crabs. This was in early June.

 As a week wore on I found myself fascinated by their increase in numbers. It appeared to be a time of mating. The smaller male crabs would be joined in copulation with the larger females. What ever ideas I had of swimming or playing in these shallow pools behind the bulkhead faded away as the number of mating horseshoe crabs increased.

I should mention, if you are not familiar with these creatures, horseshoe crabs are primeval in appearance. Something a brontosaurus might have stepped on. The crabs had a turret like shell over their whole body that covered their legs. There were two bumps on the sides of the shell that looked like eyes, and were in fact light sensitive. tailing the body of the carb  was a long, pointed, sharp tail that looks like a menacing dagger. It would be raised like a weapon when the crab was excited or threatened.

When I examined the bay side of the bulkhead I found that the crabs were in what only be called an infestation. Only a few years earlier our neighborhood in Levittown, Long Island had had an infestation of Japanese beetles. Every flower in our yard had a half a dozen beetles devouring its petals. Before they brought in the DDT trucks ten year old kids like me were paid to kill Japanese beetles for 20¢ a jelly jar full.

To me the crabs were a bigger more horrible infestation. And so I began killing them in the salt water pools behind the bulkhead in front of our house facing the Great South Bay. It was an endless task.
I would crush in their "foreheads" with a rock or any other devise that would break their shell. The females broken shells would leak a viscous fluid with turquoise eggs the size of mustard seeds.

As I worked I noticed another fellow teen who lived a couple of houses east of mine. He watched me for a while and then joined in the carnage. We worked as if we were being paid for it. Coincidentally, he was born on the same day I was (5/28/1945). He was the only person I knew who was exactly my age.

At some point I found a 2x4 that was about six feet long with a heavy nail toe-nailed into one end, such that the sharp point of the nail protruded from the end by a few inches. With a little effort I was able to straight the nail so it straight out of the end of the 2x4.

With this new device I mounted the narrow bulkhead wall. The water on the bay side was two to three feet deep. The 2x4 helped me balance on the wall where there wasn't sand behind it. As I prowled the wall I was not surprising to find the Bay side of the bulkhead still teaming with horseshoe crabs.

Killing them all was going to be impossible. All I though I could do was clear the area in front of my house. After working for a few days I realized even that was going to be impossible. The result of my horrific fixation was a lot of dead, stinking horseshoe crabs... a sense of self loathing.
I spent many more summers sailing to various parts of the Great South Bay but never saw another "infestation" of the crabs -  this may be because they require eleven years to mature. 
Horseshoe crabs have roamed the muddy bottoms of salt water harbors and bays for over 300 million years, a time in which the giant prehistoric reptiles and mammals have come and gone. But unlike the dinosaur and mammoth, the horseshoe crab survives today, a living fossil, which fascinates children at the seashore.
But today his long life is being threatened as he is destroyed wholesale by people who do not understand his value in the ecology of the marine life of the shallows.
In story form, The Crab from Yesterday details the history and life cycle of a horseshoe crab from its beginning when eggs are deposited on sandy beaches to the reaching of full maturity in the coastal shallows.
Young readers, like the boy in the story, will learn that even though some animals lack wagging tails, sticky tongues and happy faces, they can be interesting and appreciated too.
From "The Crab of Yesterday" by John F. Waters (http://www.paperbackswap.com/Crab-Yesterday-Life-John-F-Waters/book/0723260850/).
It never occurred to me that the horseshoe crabs had been coming to the Great South Bay since the glaciers retreated at the end of the Ice Age and created Long Island and its environs. Looking back, my killing spree of horseshoe crabs on Fire Island is not the only terrible thing, but one of the most regretted things I have ever done.
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