Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arana Gulch Breathes Sigh of Relief

Arana Gulch plan faces another delay: Coastal Commission staff needs more time to study city's changes

On Monday, Friends of Arana Gulch asked the California Coastal Commission staff what the hurry was in getting the City of Santa Cruz Proposal for the Arana Gulch Master Plan (plus the vampirish Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Path Connection) before the California Coastal Commission. Commission local staff had just received the latest proposal while half of the staff (of two) was on vacation. We presented a resolution for the Conflict, suggesting that the City should withdraw its proposal and resubmit later, without the environmentally destructive Bike road plan.

Today, local Coastal Commission staff announced that they had insufficient time to prepare their Staff Report before the August 11 meeting in San Luis Obispo, and the application by the City of Santa Cruz is postponed, for an undisclosed length of time.

Stay tuned to this blog and the Friends of Arana Gulch web site for updates.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is this the new fire of fascism?

...or a flash in the pan?

In this Mother Jones' blog: The Tea Party's March Madness Stephanie Mencimer reveals the continuing saga of the Tea Party movement, now fragmented from its monolithic appearance last year on the Washington DC Mall. The single movement appears to have dissolved into bickering factions, each vying for transcendence on the political scene.

Though the specifics have changed, the general rhetoric remains the same, echoing Umberto Eco's prescient essay, Eternal Fascism, in which he details fourteen characteristics of fascist societies.

Even in "mainstream" politics, if there is such a thing these days, radical talk abounds. Tennessee gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Zach Wamp calls for secession, saying:

"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government."

If the Republican Party is somehow able to get over its puppy-love with Sarah Palin and find a direction again, this might be the tide Progressives find themselves swimming against in the next election cycle.

It used to be easier to recognize fascism when it moved into the neighborhood. Jack boots, brown shirts, truncheons, and massed martial demonstrations were hard to miss. But today it's harder to separate the flag waving housewife and the Revolutionary War costumed reenactor from the hardened right-wing fascist revolutionary.

When do we draw the line?

"When and if fascism comes to America, it will not be labeled 'Made in Germany;' it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, Americanism." Professor Halford E. Luccock, Yale Divinity School, New York Times, September 12, 1938, page 15. (Thanks to Shii, for tracking this down.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Corporatization of Public Information

The Chicago Field Museum has a new temporary: Climate Change Exhibit

Sponsored by Exelon Corporation, Motorola Foundation, HSBC - North America, Jones Lang LaSalle, and
Whole Foods Market. Additional support by Nalco.

The exhibit concentrates on speculative negative effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, such as increased growth and virulence of poison ivy, then uses scare tactics and message manipulation to encourage the audience, specifically children to take action to stop Global Warming.

From the Field Museum Climate Change exhibit web site:
"You'll see how the resulting changes affect our planet, causing sea levels to rise, increasing drought and storms, damaging habitats for wildlife, and stressing human societies around the globe.

But all is not lost, the exhibition also poses solutions, illustrating how we can move away from dependence on fossil fuels toward new energy technologies, including solar, wind, nuclear, and other power sources."

The second paragraph illustrates the purpose of the exhibit, to create fear of climate change and to encourage people, especially children, to think of climate change as solely human caused and subject to human manipulation. Visitors to the exhibit are shown solutions to climate change provided by technology, particularly that technology coincidentally provided by these sponsoring corporations:

Exelon Corporation is one of the world's largest producers of nuclear energy, wind farms and other "green" energy projects.

Motorola Foundation, who bring you Motorola cell phones and the multi-billion dollar cell phone industry distracting and confusing billions worldwide.

HSBC, the world's largest banking and financial services group and the world's 8th largest company.

Jones Lang LaSalle is a Chicago based international property investment and management group.

Whole Foods Market is an international "natural" food products company.

Nalco is the supplier of dispersants used on the Gulf oil leak, and has had ongoing ties to Exxon. Daniel S. Sanders, who previously was president of Exxon/Mobil Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, serves on the company board of directors. (BusinessWeek, Nalco Holdings profile)

This Climate Change exhibit is a blatant and cynical attempt by these corporations to frame public awareness of climate change away from the science of climate variation and into the political and economic arenas where they exert greater influence.

This distortion of public information by private for-profit corporations is destructive to democracy and the process of public decision-making. Such manipulation of public information is the root cause of much of human impact on the world environments. Even worse, such self-serving propaganda obscures future meaningful solutions.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Putting things in perspective

From: Full damage from BP oil spill is not yet known – but US may have been lucky | Environment | The Guardian

"In the 85 days of the leak, the worst accidental spillage in history, nearly 184m gallons of crude oil are estimated to have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, the ninth largest body of water in the world. That is a lot, but no more than Americans burn every five hours and 10 minutes."