By Doug Porter
The United Nations climate conference in Paris has been pushed off the top of the news in the US cycle by stories relating to what now appears to have been an act of terrorism in San Bernadino. Various news agencies are reporting that suspect Tashfeen Malik pledged her allegiance to an Islamic State leader on Facebook.
The current consensus is that the couple were inspired by, rather than ordered to action by the terrorist group. The media narrative is befuddled, I think, because the possibility of a woman being the instigator of the act hadn’t been considered.
Despite the media’s propensity for hyperbole (the so-call flak jackets worn during the attack were actually vests with multiple pockets), enough detail has emerged to conclude the San Bernadino shooting was not a singular act. Most damning are the law enforcement sources quoted about hard drives and cell phones being destroyed in the days leading up to the attack.
Now that a motive has been established, it’s safe to say the Republican Fear Machine will crank up over the coming week, as various party leaders (along with the Faux News team) take turns trying to get the media’s attention without regard to the panic induced in their core constituencies.
Meanwhile…That Other Crisis
I get it that “if it bleeds it leads” in terms of the media’s priorities. Hell, I felt obliged to include the T word in today’s headline so the Gods at Google would know I was Serious Columnist.
None-the-less, what going on in Paris with the UN climate change conference has profound implications for the future of our civilization.
A serious bit of history came to light yesterday, as the Washington Post published documents dating back to the 1980s indicating the officials in successive Republican administrations were aware of and pushing for decisive action on climate issues.
The memos, stamped “confidential” and kept under wraps for years, portray a White House eager to assert U.S. leadership on climate change. Global warming will have “profound consequences,” one document warns, and the United States “cannot wait” until all scientific questions are resolved before taking action.
The source of the memos: Not the Obama White House, but policy advisers to President George H.W. Bush.
The memos were among several formerly classified documents from the Bush and Reagan administrations obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and released on Wednesday by the National Security Archive. The documents portray senior officials in the two Republican administrations pressing for an aggressive response to international environmental issues of the day — including, during Bush’s term, climate change.
Needless to say, nothing was done. This may have something to do with the other big historical climate change stories recently published.
ExxonMobil’s Evil Ways
Last month, the Los Angeles Times (along with the Columbia School of Journalism) and the nonprofit website InsideClimate News published stories based on internal documents from ExxonMobil pointing to a conscious decision to ignore damning evidence gathered by their scientists about the impact of fossil fuels on the planet.
Last week Exxon struck back. A story in Politico said the corporation had responded by accusing the university researchers of unethical conduct via a letter sent to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and university trustees.
In the letter, Exxon Vice President for Public and Government Affairs Kenneth Cohen accuses a Columbia journalism professor and her team of potentially violating the university’s policy on research misconduct by downplaying or ignoring information provided by the company. Cohen asks Bollinger for an opportunity to discuss “the possible remedies available to us” and seems to suggest the episode may damage Exxon’s relationship with the university in the future.
Steve Coll, dean of Columbia’s journalism school, fired back a few days ago with a six page letter, citing emails and phone records refuting all of Exxon’s allegations. It really is an epic takedown of an attempt at corporate intimidation.
On December 1st, the Washington Post reported on a study published in Nature Climate Change on climate change deniers’ influence on the media. It should surprise no one that it found links back to ExxonMobil and the family foundations controlled by Charles and David Koch as the most significant sources of funding for these skeptics.
Here’s the money quote from Washington Post:
“The implications of this research extend beyond climate science itself, toward what we want our democracy to look like, and whether we enable social movements like this to flourish,” [Yale researcher Justin] Farrell said in his e-mail. “How this actually happens through laws, regulations, and so on, is beyond my pay grade, but hopefully I have shown that there is indeed corporate influence on an issue that we desperately need public support for moving forward.”
The study, in fact, comes on the heels of another paper published by Farrell just last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That paper suggested that corporate funding has an influence on polarizing the climate change conversation, with organizations that received such funding promoting similar contrarian themes. Both papers, taken together, provide a clearer look at the influence that corporate funding can have on the climate discussion as a whole.
Deniers Plotting Denial
While the world’s leading scientists and politicians are huddling in Paris, the world’s leading climate change deniers were meeting in Arizona this week, crafting a strategy to derail any agreement reached at the UN conference.
From the Center for Media and Democracy:
The overarching goal of these efforts is to cast doubt on Obama’s ability to deliver on U.S. commitments and scuttle the Paris talks and future negotiations. The goal is also to delay, delay, delay in hopes that a new president will pursue a more polluter-friendly agenda.
ALEC will be meeting behind closed doors with polluters in Scottsdale, Arizona, December 2-4 to consider a model bill to discourage subsidies for electric cars. Apparently, the ALEC crowd is not at all concerned about the annual $37.5 billion Uncle Sam pays in fossil fuel subsidies….
…Chevron, Exxon, Peabody, Dominion, Duke Energy, and ALEC stalwart Koch Industries are just a few of the big names orchestrating ALEC’s pushback on the CPP [The administration’s Clean Power Plan]. These firms have something in common: million of dollars in fines and penalties for repeat violations of federal law. The total penalties for just the top ten ALEC energy firms is $543,051,962.
NFL to San Diego: Hasta La Vista, Baby, Maybe
When Voice of San Diego and the Union-Tribune editorial board say the party is over, it’s over. Except when it’s not.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decreed this week that cities wishing to get into consideration for relocating to Los Angeles need to have final plans (with no ifs, ands or maybes) on his desk by December 28th. San Diego’s proposal was cited as an example of what wasn’t acceptable.
The biggest stumbling block, besides just about everything being theoretical, appears to be the politically necessary public vote. Get a grip, the NFL is saying, this democracy stuff is irrelevant in the age of oligarchy.
The other cities in question, namely Oakland and St. Louis, aren’t talking about plans needing voter approval. Their plans are, however, not yet up to the high standards demanded by the NFL.
So we’ll see. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe the Chargers and the Rams will end up sharing a stadium. Maybe Mayor Kevin Faulconer will go three days without a press conference or photo op event.
Progressive Calendar: Upcoming in San Diego
San Diego’s Peace Bazaar
Saturday, Dec. 5th, 10am – 2pm
Mid-City Gym 4302 Landis St.
Updates & Info
The “Peace on Earth Holiday Bazaar” has a great turnout year after year. We’ve grown to over 25 wonderful local not-for-profit community organizations that are working for a peaceful, just, and environmentally healthy world.
Does your group want a TABLE?! See our Resources page.
This is a fun and family event! In the past, we’ve had entertainment by carolers, circus acts, TranscenDANCE performers, and more. Come see the excitement this year!
The Mid-City Gym is located in an active community area, one block South of the popular City Heights Farmers’ Market (which occurs every Sat 9am-1pm). Come support many important causes and get great holiday gifts without setting foot in a shopping mall!
36th Annual OB Holiday Parade
Saturday, December 5th, 5:05pm (OB time)
Newport Ave, Ocean Beach
Updates & Info
The Ocean Beach Town Council is proud to bring you the 36th Annual OB Holiday Parade. Our 2015 Parade Theme is “Joy to the Sea, 36 Years Celebrating OB.”
For more than 35 years, our quaint little surfing village of Ocean Beach has hosted one of the best Holiday Parades in SoCal. On Saturday, December 5th, Newport Avenue is lined with colorful OBceans and visitors all eagerly awaiting the commencement of the 36th Annual OB Holiday Parade at 5:05pm.
For some, it’s the excitement of seeing the Point Loma Marching Band strut their way down the street or the SD Roller Derby Dolls in their eye-catching costumes. For others, it’s watching the VW Beetle club and classic Woodies roll down Newport Ave. Some prefer the motorcycles, bright-lit floats and countless bands that fill the beach with live music. Whatever your pleasure, OB has it all. And…of course…the big man himself, Santa Claus, will be making his appearance.
Human Rights Day – Community Action for Refugees
Thursday, December 10th 5-7pm
County Admin Bldg., 1600 Pacific Highway
Updates & Info
Join the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans at the waterfront park to demonstrate support for refugees!
We will be gathering as a community to lift up the refugee crisis, to stand up against hateful rhetoric, and to ask our public officials to take responsible action to welcome refugees.
San Diego Orange Walk
Saturday, December 12th 11am
Bea Evenson Fountain, Plaza de Balboa El Prado, Balboa Park
Updates & Info
Join Moms Demand Action as we walk in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and for all victims of gun violence. WEAR ORANGE to show your solidarity.
March and Rally for Climate Justice
Saturday, December 12th, Noon
Balboa Park, 6th and Laurel
Updates & Info
On December 12, people will come together from all over San Diego County to call for bold climate solutions that create local jobs, strengthen community power and transition us to 100% clean energy by 2035. And we’ll call on world leaders to not cross climate red lines – including keeping 80% of fossil fuels in the ground, transitioning to renewable energy, and environmental justice. Demonstrations will take place around the world. If we are successful, these mobilizations could be a real turning point for the movement.
It’s time to show the world that true climate leadership means a brighter future for all. December 12 will be one of San Diego’s biggest climate actions ever — can you join us?
Thanks to all of the supporting organizations: SanDiego350, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council – Environmental Caucus, California Nurses Association – National Nurses United, Climate Action Campaign, Stay Cool 4 Grandkids, Citizens Climate Lobby, American Federation of Teachers – Guild 1931, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – 569, San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice
First Annual Barrio Logan Music Festival
Saturday, December 12th, 5pm-1am ($25 donation)
Don Diego VFW Post 7420
2100 Logan Ave.
Updates & Info
A fundraising event featuring bands from Los Angeles, San Diego, Mexicali and Tijuana.
Second Annual March Against Police Brutality
Sunday, December 13th
Plaza de Balboa El Prado, Balboa Park
Updates & Info
2nd Annual March Against Police Brutality at Balboa Park. We will be gathering by the fountain at the R.H. Fleet building starting at 10:30 with speakers scheduled to start at 11:00. We will then be taking to our streets around 12:00 for a march that will be about same length as last years before returning to the park as a group.
On This Day: 1783 – Gen. George Washington said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York. 1970 – Cesar Chavez jailed for 20 days for refusing to end United Farm Workers’ grape boycott. 1971 – The Montreaux Casino was destroyed by fire during a show by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
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