John Lawrence

Thumbnail image for Lena Horne: A Great Lady Who Broke the Color Line

Lena Horne: A Great Lady Who Broke the Color Line

by John Lawrence 03.31.2015 Culture

Lena Horne was the first black woman to get a contract with a major Hollywood Studio

By John Lawrence

Born into a black bourgeoisie family in 1917, Lena Horne was signed up in the NAACP by her grandmother, Cora Calhoun Horne, a college graduate, at the age of two. The Hornes owned a four-story residence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.

The distinguished Horne family included teachers, activists and a Harlem Renaissance poet. Lena’s uncle became dean of a black college. According to James Gavin’s biography of Lena, Stormy Weather, the black bourgeoisie were descendants of favored slaves “privileged blacks who, by virtue of their brains or their sexual allure to their masters, had worked in the house, not in the field. During the decade-long heyday of Reconstruction, they’d used their cachet to start businesses and gain social standing.”

Lena’s grandmother drilled into her respectability at all costs. She was to use proper diction, no dialect allowed, and always present herself as a lady. Cora was a determined fighter for black causes, and, despite her disdain for whites, she married a white man. According to Gavin, Cora’s cafe au lait skin, thin lips and delicate nose betrayed generations of intermingling with whites. Her maiden name, Calhoun, came from her father’s slavemaster in Georgia, Dr. Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun. His uncle was Senator John C Calhoun who championed slavery as God’s will.

Read the full article → 0 comments
Thumbnail image for HSBC: A Criminal Enterprise Too Big To Jail

HSBC: A Criminal Enterprise Too Big To Jail

by John Lawrence 03.24.2015 2014 June Primary

Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office with a perfect record of not having busted a single senior banker

By John Lawrence

The bank, HSBC, has been involved in criminal enterprises from dealing with terrorists and drug dealers to advising clients how to escape paying taxes. Yet no HSBC banker has gone to jail.

Dealing with drug dealers is nothing new for HSBC, also known as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. They have always been associated with drugs. Founded in 1865, HSBC became the major commercial bank in colonial China after the conclusion of the Second Opium War. That’s the war in which European powers forced the Chinese to legalize the drug trade.

If you or I got caught with a few stems or seeds of marijuana, we would go to jail. HSBC laundered money for the Sinaloa drug cartel, but yet they had to pay only a small fine and got off the hook. The fine, $1.9 billion, is about five weeks of income for the bank. Their executives had to partially defer their bonuses as well.

Read the full article → 5 comments
Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 5

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 5

by John Lawrence 03.17.2015 Environment

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Capitalism and Climate Change

In a title not usually expected at a scientific conference, University of California San Diego geophysicist Dr. Brad Werner presented a paper entitled Is the Earth Fucked? at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in December 2012. Dr. Werner explained that the title represented the expression of depression by scientists working in the field of the public’s inability to respond to what scientists are telling them about global warming.

Climatologists and other scientists are now speaking out about climate change becoming a clear and present danger to human civilization. Most of them are more comfortable gathering data and working in their labs than doing political advocacy, but the situation calls for them to risk losing tenure and even arrest in order to tell the rest of us about the situation we are now facing.

Read the full article → 8 comments
Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: February 2015 Sets Records for Snow and Cold

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

by John Lawrence 03.10.2015 Environment

By John Lawrence

Many records for snowfall and extreme cold were set in February. Some might think this is a sign of the nonexistence of global warming, but they would be wrong. Maybe the terminology should be more appropriately “climate change,” but global warming still holds if the average surface air temperature sets records as it did in 2014 despite extreme cold in the northeast US. It remains to be seen if extreme heat elsewhere in the world will make up for the extreme cold over much of the eastern half of the US in 2015.

Amid the extreme cold and snowfall records in the eastern half of the US, February also set a record for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. For the first time in February the earth’s average carbon dioxide level was above 400 ppm. Last year, the monthly average didn’t go above that level until April, which was the first month in human history with carbon dioxide levels that high. Levels stayed that high for three months, and they are likely to stay that high for many more this year. In a few years they will be that high permanently

Read the full article → 4 comments
Thumbnail image for Oil Trains: Death and Destruction on the Rails

Oil Trains: Death and Destruction on the Rails

by John Lawrence 03.03.2015 Business

Department of Transportation Predicts Oil Train Derailments Will Become Increasingly Common

By John Lawrence

On Monday Feb 16, 2015 an oil train carrying millions of pounds of crude oil derailed in Boomer, West Virginia. The accident was the latest in a spate of fiery derailments in Canada and the U.S. as vast quantities of oil are being moved across these nations through sensitive environments and large population centers.

A couple days earlier on Feb. 14, there was a crude oil train derailment south of Timmins, Ontario. It took almost a week in subzero temperatures for the fires to burn out. Both the West Virginia accident and the oil train derailment and fire in Ontario involved recently built tank cars that were supposed to be an improvement over a decades-old model in wide use that has proven susceptible to spills, fires and explosions – the Dot-111.

On July 6, 2013 a train was left on the tracks near Lac Megantic, Quebec, with the engines running while the lone engineer and employee on the train checked into a nearby hotel. During the night the brakes failed and the train rolled downhill and derailed. Much of downtown Lac Megantic was destroyed by a raging fire. Several train cars exploded and 40 buildings were leveled. 47 people died – incinerated and vaporized. No remains were found for five of them.

Read the full article → 6 comments
Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 4

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

by John Lawrence 02.24.2015 Environment

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

While many positive advances in renewables are being made, rising coal, natural gas and energy demand outweigh any reductions from recent strong growth in renewables in a few countries. Renewables and hydro are still a TINY 9% of primary energy consumption today They are forecast to be a TINY 20% of energy consumption in 2030 and no more than 25% in 2040.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts the same weak growth in renewable electrical generation shares reaching a miniscule 22% in 2015 and 25% in 2040.These weak shares explain why EIA and others expect CO2 emissions to soar ahead from 36 billion tons today to over 50 billion tons in 2050.

This week (Part 4) we address how FAR we have to go to reach a hydro-renewables mix of 70% of global energy consumption by 2050. Cataclysmic global warming can only be stemmed by considerably speeding up practical community-based and disruptive technically-based solutions for sustainable fuels, energy efficiency and lifestyle adaptations (that reduce energy demand) like Scandinavia, Germany, and California are remarkably doing in their own way – without disturbing economic growth.

Part 3 can be found here

Read the full article → 10 comments
Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 3

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 3

by John Lawrence 02.17.2015 Business

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Renewable Solutions Are Here Now and Technically Feasible Today

It is now clear, at least from a technical perspective, that we could eliminate fossil fuels over a period of 20 to 40 years. That’s if we went full steam ahead without being blocked by fossil fuel corporations, the politicians beholden to them and various other vested interests who stand to profit from the status quo.

In 2009 Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and Mark Delucchi, a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, came up with a detailed, groundbreaking road map for just how this could be accomplished. Their study showed how 100% of the world’s energy could be supplied by wind, water and solar (WWS) resources by as early as 2030. Their paper, which appeared in Scientific American, is called “A Plan for a Sustainable Future by 2030.”

Read the full article → 11 comments
Thumbnail image for San Diego Group Gets Award to Expand Solar Power Use at Condos and Apartments

San Diego Group Gets Award to Expand Solar Power Use at Condos and Apartments

by John Lawrence 02.10.2015 Economy

By John Lawrence

Everywhere in San Diego you see solar panels being installed atop single family homes and large businesses. But hardly anywhere do you see them going in on the large number of local apartment buildings and condos.

Now the Department of Energy SunShot initiative has made a $712,000. grant to San Diego’s Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to study the reasons and do a pilot project to implement solar in such projects.

Condos and apartment buildings represent a huge amount of rooftop real estate which could be gathering in the sun’s rays to provide energy to the occupants within.

Read the full article → 7 comments
Thumbnail image for Jazz Pianist Josh Nelson at Croce’s Park West

Jazz Pianist Josh Nelson at Croce’s Park West

by John Lawrence 02.07.2015 Culture

By John Lawrence

A rare night out on the town took Judy and me to San Diego’s premier jazz supper club, Croce’s Park West, at 2760 5th Avenue, to hear Los Angeles pianist Josh Nelson and his trio for a tribute to the great American composers – Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and the Gershwins.

Arriving there we decided to use the valet parking since Judy is ambulatorily challenged. For $5 it was cheaper than a lot and within 10 steps of the door. What a deal! Croce’s has a music room separate from the noisiness of the bar area, full of comfortable seating, warm ambiance and great sight lines. The non-amplified music was gentle on our ears.

Josh was running a little late having had a harrowing day. His car carrying himself and drummer Dan Schnelle had broken down in Long Beach. Fortunately for him and for us, there was a rental agency nearby. It was a miracle that he made the gig at all.

Read the full article → 3 comments
Thumbnail image for Apple Corporation Sitting on a Pile of Cash It Has No Use For

Apple Corporation Sitting on a Pile of Cash It Has No Use For

by John Lawrence 02.03.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

Apple Corporation is sitting on $178 billion in cash, and it literally doesn’t know what to do with it. But it knows one thing: it doesn’t want to give any of it to Uncle Sam or any other taxing jurisdictions around the world. That much is clear.

If it divided that money up, Apple could give $550 to every man, woman and child in the US. It’s enough money to buy Ford, General Motors and Tesla combined and still have $41 billion left over.

They could even buy a couple of small countries, but it doesn’t want to do that. Why bother? It’s literally an embarrassment of riches.

Read the full article → 19 comments
Thumbnail image for Water Main Breaks Cause Major Problems in San Diego and Nationwide

Water Main Breaks Cause Major Problems in San Diego and Nationwide

by John Lawrence 01.27.2015 Editor's Picks

By John Lawrence

In the best of all possible worlds water main breaks would not happen. Local government would replace old water mains with new ones on a regular basis. That means that money for this and other infrastructure needs would be allocated systematically and appropriately.

If we had our priorities straight, money for infrastructure would take precedence over money for football stadiums and convention centers. But in San Diego and in fact throughout the US this rational approach is to be seen rarely if at all.

The Romans gave their citizens bread and circuses to keep them in line. Here in fact only circuses seem to be necessary.

Read the full article → 8 comments
Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: 2014 Hottest Year on Record

Extreme Weather Watch: 2014 Hottest Year on Record

by John Lawrence 01.20.2015 Economy

By John Lawrence

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

The fact that the three hottest years on record are 2014, 2010 and 2005 points in the direction that climate change is indeed a reality, a reality that is only getting worse as time goes on.

The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human activity. Climate change deniers have pointed to 1998 as the year they say the earth stopped warming. Despite the fact that 1998 was the hottest year on record up to that point, that record has since been broken … many times!

Read the full article → 2 comments
Thumbnail image for “The Solid Citizenry of Ocean Beach are Aroused.”

“The Solid Citizenry of Ocean Beach are Aroused.”

by John Lawrence 01.20.2015 Activism

Complaints About Homeless Have Echoes

By John Lawrence / OB Rag

The solid citizenry of Ocean Beach are aroused. For some time now, there has been a virtual state of war existing between businessmen and merchants, on the one hand, and homeless on the other. The growing homeless community in OB has been met with growing alarm on the part of the established citizenry.

Those with Establishment interests want to drive the homeless out of OB since they view them as a treat to their businesses and are offended by the mores and folkways of the homeless youth culture. Homeless contribute very little economically to established businesses and tend to scare away more conventional people who would have patronized these businesses. Homeless people have been refused service at several places of business and in turn have taken revenge through acts of vandalism and theft. Because of this, insurance companies have raised the rates charged to OB businessmen.

Recently, there have been several public acts of sexual intercourse including screwing on the front lawn (an all-time first in San Diego according to some sources) which established citizens feel set a bad example for their own families.

Read the full article → 0 comments
Thumbnail image for Redefining the American Dream

Redefining the American Dream

by John Lawrence 01.13.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

The American Dream is the ideological underpinning of the middle class. Now that the middle class is disappearing, it no longer makes sense as historically defined.

Thom Hartmann (Rebooting the American Dream) and Hedrick Smith (Who Stole the American Dream) have defined the American Dream as a good job at good wages plus benefits. They bemoan the fact that this has pretty much gone by the wayside in today’s world.

Well, it’s time to get over it because the conditions that gave rise to middle class prosperity in America from 1945 to 1980 are not coming back.

Read the full article → 4 comments
Thumbnail image for The Bail-In: How You and Your Money Will Be Parted During the Next Banking Crisis

The Bail-In: How You and Your Money Will Be Parted During the Next Banking Crisis

by John Lawrence 01.06.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

There will be no more taxpayer bailouts for the Big Wall Street banks. That much has been established by the lobbied to death Dodd-Frank banking reform (yeah, right) bill.

However, instead of taking money from the government (taxpayers), the principal has been established that the next source of money for profligate banks will be your deposit accounts. Yeah, that’s right, the money to stabilize the banking sector during the next crisis will come out of your savings and checking accounts.

To add insult to injury – since the banks pay you zero percent on your savings account in the first place – the banks have the right to confiscate your funds if they crash the economy again as they did in 2008. Remember the Great Recession? It’s coming again to a bank near you.

Read the full article → 20 comments
Thumbnail image for New York State Bans Fracking: California Next?

New York State Bans Fracking: California Next?

by John Lawrence 12.30.2014 Environment

By John Lawrence

In a huge victory for the environmental movement, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned fracking. I guess President Obama is not the only one that can get things accomplished by executive order. Experts have made analyses that identified contamination threats to water, soil and air, the absence of reliable health studies or proof that drillers can protect the public, as well as diminishing economic prospects. All good reasons for the public to demand a fracking ban.

Fracking is also being delivered a death knell by market forces. Since it costs more to access oil by fracking than it does by conventionsl drilling, if the price per barrel falls below a certain point, fracking becomes uneconomical. Lo and behold, thanks to the Saudis who have been keeping production up, the cost per barrel has fallen to around $60. It has to be higher than $80. for fracking to be profitable.

Read the full article → 18 comments
Thumbnail image for Country Club America and the Ghost of Ayn Rand

Country Club America and the Ghost of Ayn Rand

by John Lawrence 12.23.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

I was startled into wakefulness by the ghost of Ayn Rand, she the author of the Virtue of Selfishness and sundry other solipsistic tomes.

Unlike Scrooge, she is not the least bit repentent. She told me of her new concept of Country Club America. Not everyone deserves to be a member. It’s sort of a metaphysical walled community in which some people get to join; others are left out. Only the Best, the Brightest and the Most Beautiful can be members.

The rest – the homeless, the hoi polloi, the common people, vagabonds, hippies, the proletariat, rabble and riffraff cannot be members.

Read the full article → 20 comments
Thumbnail image for The Gun Death Capital of the World – United States of America

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

by John Lawrence 12.16.2014 Government

By John Lawrence

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

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

Freedom is relative isn’t it, and open to interpretation. One person’s freedom is another person’s bondage. As Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another name for nothing left to lose.”

Read the full article → 5 comments
Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 2

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

by John Lawrence 12.09.2014 Business

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence / Part 1 can be found here

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

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

As it is, even though scientists have spelled it out for us, many people are not convinced the threat from global warming is even real or, if it is, that moderate methods that don’t disrupt current economic relationships will be sufficient to keep the problem at bay.

Read the full article → 1 comment
Thumbnail image for Judy Finally Goes To the Dentist In Tijuana

Judy Finally Goes To the Dentist In Tijuana

by John Lawrence 12.08.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

Judy hadn’t seen a dentist in some time and she needed to go. I tried to persuade her to go to my dentist, Dr. Miguel Garcia in Tijuana, but she had a fear of crossing the border. I had been going to Dr Garcia for 10 years or more, and I told her she had nothing to fear.

Everybody in Dr Garcia’s office spoke perfect English. They had the latest, most modern equipment and the best training. My friend Olof who had been going to Dr Garcia for years on my recommendation also tried to persuade Judy that there was nothing to be afraid of. She would be in good hands.

Finally, Judy agreed to go. I had assured her I knew the way by heart, and we could drive right into the building to park. Then it was just a short walk to the elevator. We’d be on the fourth floor and in the Baja Oral Center in no time.

Read the full article → 10 comments
Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe

by John Lawrence 12.02.2014 Environment

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Part 1 of a Multi-Part Series

“Will we be the first species we know that precipitated its own extinction as well as the extinction of however much of the biosphere we take with us – and watched it happen before our eyes and continued to do exactly what we know was causing it?” _ Anonymous

Introduction

A facile denial of reality sits in the DNA of human nature – and climate change is no exception. The inbred fantasy-culture of endless growth, technology, and a throwaway consumeristic lifestyle fueled by exploiting pollutive fossil fuels has reinforced the illusion that we can do so without destroying the environment and even life itself. The threat to human life and the planet seems to need to be truly imminent before we humans can change our course. By then, however, it will be too late … most of us will be dead.

Read the full article → 15 comments
Thumbnail image for Two Cheers for President Obama. Bronx Cheers for Congressional Republicans

Two Cheers for President Obama. Bronx Cheers for Congressional Republicans

by John Lawrence 11.25.2014 Politics

By John Lawrence

Finally, President Obama has found the balls to stand up to Congress.

He signed an historic agreement regarding climate change with the Chinese. He has taken executive action on immigration that will put 5 million people’s minds at ease, and he would have but didn’t need to veto the Keystone pipeline. He has also taken a stand in favor of internet neutrality.

All of this despite howls of protest from Republicans in Congress. He’s realized the futility of “cooperating” with Congress because they have done nothing but try to intimidate, bully, humiliate and badger him from Day 1 of his administration. He finally realizes that hoping to cooperate with them to “get something done” is a fool’s errand and a wild goose chase.

Read the full article → 18 comments
Thumbnail image for Wall Street Criminals Walk Free After Inflicting Enormous Damage on American Citizens

Wall Street Criminals Walk Free After Inflicting Enormous Damage on American Citizens

by John Lawrence 11.18.2014 Business

Wall Street Fraud on a Massive Basis

By John Lawrence

In an article in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi lays out the case involving massive fraud on the part of JP Morgan Chase, one of Wall Street’s biggest and un-finest banks, considered too big to fail and, evidently, too big to prosecute for the massive criminality it is guilty of. It has been well documented what they and other Wall Street banks did that caused the financial crisis of 2008.

First, their counterparts lured everyone with a beating heart into their offices and gave them a mortgage regardless of their credit score, regardless of whether or not they were working, regardless of whether they could even afford to make a mortgage payment. Countrywide is the prime example of the predatory recruitment of low income people in order to turn them into homeowners despite their inability to pay.

As soon as they had signed on the dotted line and Countrywide had collected their commissions, they offloaded the mortgages to JP Morgan Chase and others so that they could be collectivized with other mortgages, securitized and given triple A ratings by credit rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, then sliced and diced into tranches and sold off as Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) to pension funds, retirement funds, insurance companies and other unsuspecting dupes.

Read the full article → 12 comments
Thumbnail image for The US Military is a Major Contributor to Global Warming

The US Military is a Major Contributor to Global Warming

by John Lawrence 11.14.2014 Environment

The US Military: Protecting Our Freedom While Destroying Our Planet

By John Lawrence

The impact of the US military on climate change is enormous due to its excessive consumption of fuel oil. The US must spread its influence across the oil producing parts of the world in order to protect its supply of oil.

The US military consumes huge amounts of oil so that it may preserve strategic access to oil in order to get the oil it needs to preserve strategic access to oil and so on in a never ending loop. Insatiable militarism is the single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural disasters intensified by global climate change.

The US military is the largest single consumer of energy in the world. If it were a country, the Department of Defense (DoD) would rank 34th in the world in average daily oil use, coming in just behind Iraq and just ahead of Sweden.

Read the full article → 32 comments
Thumbnail image for Extreme Weather Watch: October 2014 – Drought in Australia and Brazil

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

by John Lawrence 11.12.2014 Editor's Picks

By John Lawrence

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

Large parts of Australia continue to be affected by drought. Drier than normal conditions from October to December are forecast for broad areas of Eastern, Central and Northern Coastal areas of Australia. Temperatures over 50C or 120F are forecast as Australia heads into its summer.

Australian farmers are feeling less confident as prices for wool, grains, dairy products and beef go down. A quarter of farmers expect conditions to deteriorate, around 20% expect the performance of their farm business to worsen and 25% expect their farm income to fall.

Read the full article →