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Truthout Daily Digest April 5, 2014

Occupy Sandy and the Future of Socialism

Samuel Knight, Truthout: While relief organizations like the Red Cross proved largely ineffectual in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, what made Occupy Sandy so effective was that its relationship with victims was based on the very characteristic that saw criticism leveled at it throughout the occupation of Zucotti Park – horizontalism.

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Young, at Work in the Fields

David Bacon, After Image: The 120,000 farmworkers in California are the most recent migrants from Mexico and speak twenty-three languages, come from thirteen different Mexican states, and have rich cultures of language, music, dance, and food that bind their communities together. Photographer David Bacon peers into their daily existence in a photo essay.

Read the Article and View the Photos

A Dispatch from 350’s Divestment Trenches

Barbara G. Ellis, Truthout: The 350 movement is a major international group of activists founded in 2007 by Vermont author-environmentalist Bill McKibben and his Middlebury College students. The activists are using a variety of strategies and tactics to convince investors to divest of fossil fuel and related companies’ financial instruments.

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What Corruption? McCutcheon Reveals Absurdity of Citizens United

Brendan Fischer, PR Watch: Thanks to the McCutcheon decision, the small handful of billionaires and millionaires who were previously constrained by the aggregate contribution cap can now dole out up to $3.6 million among candidates and committees. The ruling left in place limits on direct donations to a single candidates and single party committees. Yet in doing so, the Court revealed how its reasoning in Citizens United was flawed.

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Changing Our Climate of Indifference

Jill Richardson, Other Words: In a million ways, the changing climate is ruining lives around the world, changing rain patterns, floods, mudslides, crop failures, and more. As if that wasn’t enough, reduced glacial melt in the Andes means decreased hydroelectric power. It’s time for journalists to be honest about how serious the consequences are.

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Court: NC Legislators Must Reveal Documents, Purpose Behind Challenged Voting ‘Reform’

Ernest A Canning, The Brad Blog: A US District judge has ruled that Republican legislators in North Carolina must provide documents revealing their work in passing and implementing a radical election reform bill which, when it was passed last year, was described by opponents as a voter suppression bill.

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Leaders of Teaching Hospitals Have Close Ties to Drug Companies, Study Shows

Charles Ornstein, ProPublica: Pharmaceutical company payments to doctors extend far beyond rank-and-file clinicians and deep into the leadership of America’s teaching hospitals, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Why We Need a 10.4 Million Jobs Plan

Dave Johnson, Campaign For America’s Future: While America’s political, media and business elites are all doing fine in their personal situations, much of the rest of the country is not. If you listed our national problems in order of priority and immediacy, jobs has to be at or near the top.

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Why Pakistan Is Not Changing

Zulfiqar Shah, Truthout: “Change” and “Pakistan” are the words of significant disconnect for Pakistanis and the world beyond its borders. For positive progress to occur, Pakistanis must look into their country’s past to improve the present.

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How Jews Brought America to the Tipping Point on Marriage Equality: Lessons for the Next Social Justice Issues

Amy Dean, Tikkun: In a few short years, same-sex marriage went from being an untouchable political hot potato to a broadly accepted civil right in eighteen states and the District of Columbia. Jews, and their social justice organizations, helped make that happen.

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The BuzzFlash commentary for Truthout will return Monday, April 7.

Bush Crew’s Deplorable Return: How Their Reemergence Sends a Deadly Message

Read the Article at Salon

The Heir, the Judge and the Homeless Mom: America’s Prison Bias for the 1%

Read the Article at The Guardian

Senate Panel Finds CIA Illegally Interrogated Terror Suspects After Sept. 11

Read the Article at the Miami Herald

Majority Report: Koch Brother Whines About the Oppressed Rich

Read the Article at Crooks and Liars

After Death of Radical Mayor, Mississippi’s Capital Wrestles With His Economic Vision

Read the Article at Yes! Magazine

It’s Torture–But Let’s Not Call It That

Read the Article at FAIR

The Age of the Oligarchs

Read the Article at Consortium News

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The Oracle Report | Saturday, April 5 – Sunday, April 6, 2014


Saturday, April 5 – Sunday, April 6, 2014

Crescent Moon Phase: growth, expansion, struggle defied

Moon in Gemini/Cancer

Ruling Mahavidya: Chinnamasta and Kali

Negative Imprint: tight and taxed

Positive Imprint: loose and lax

Skill: “Be” without having to “do” or “accomplish”

Saturday’s energy asks us to loosen up. Rigid adherence to old ways, old ideas, and old perceptions of ourselves blocks forward momentum. If we are locked in place and locked in mind, we will not see opportunities that will open up new possibilities. So we want to go beyond conventional thinking and embrace the blazing Aries energy of innovation.

Sunday’s energy has one mission only for us: rest. When the Sun reaches the 18th degree of Aries, it is a signal to rest. It’s the universe’s way of giving us a respite. Aries energy drives hard with full speed; it tends to overtax the body and mind. Abide the directive and take good care of yourself Sunday. If a lot of your energy has been going out in the form of giving to others or if you have been hard on yourself, it is essential that you take time to relax. Open up to receiving this re-charge/re-vitalization. Be still. Quiet your mind. It’s very important to give our psyches a break, so don’t dismiss the mission. Part of mastering and re-imprinting energy is following the flow of action and rest.

Immerse yourself in the light currents of the cosmos and trust in the unfolding mysteries of life. Poe’s words help:

All that we see and seem, is but a dream within a dream.”


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The Perp in the Greatest Mass Extinction on Earth? Methane

I know I already published a link to this in yesterday’s Truthout digest, but this article-like the video the other day-is too important to miss. I hope you will read it and share it widely. Some people would rather feel smugly “right” while their own species and most life on Earth comes to a nasty end in widespread extinction but some of us would rather take the chance of learning something and acting to change the outcome.

I hope most of you are like me-more interested in the good final outcome than inflating your ego by mocking others in the moment.

publius img(Image: Methane molecules via Shutterstock)

In the past, when I’ve written about climate and mass extinctions, I generally single out two of them — the one 65 million years ago that ended the dinosaur era, and the one about 250 million years ago that killed off almost everything then alive and made room for the dinosaurs to develop.

The dinosaur-killing extinction is called the “Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event” since it occurred between the Cretaceous Period and the Paleogene Period. The earlier extinction, also called the “Great Dying,” is the “Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction event” and occurred between those two geological periods.

But starting from the first explosion of life on earth, some 540 million years ago, all geological periods are grouped into just three “eras” — the era of Old Life (Paleozoic Era), the era of Middle Life (Mesozoic Era, or the age of dinosaurs), and the era of New Life (Cenozoic Era, or the age of mammals and man).

The Paleozoic Era lasted over 290 million years. The Mesozoic Era lasted 185 million years. We’re in the Cenozoic Era now, and it’s lasted 65 million years.

Just three major divisions since life first exploded. And guess what divides these eras? The two mass extinctions I mentioned above. Here’s what that looks like in one handy chart:

Mass Extinctions since the Cambrian Period (540 million years ago)Mass Extinctions since the Cambrian Period (about 540 million years ago)

So yes, mass extinctions — certainly mass extinctions of this size — matter. As I argued here and here, we may not using our little climate problem just to exit the Holocene (our current 12,000-year geological division). We may be exiting the entire Cenozoic Era. Now that’s a world-historical event.

The Great Dying Was Probably Caused by Atmospheric Methane

So the first part of today’s piece to keep in mind is the major geological divisions. And make no mistake, the Great Dying was a great dying, the mother of all great dyings (my emphasis everywhere):

It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of allmarine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years. [Other sources say 30 million years.]

Now the second part of this discussion. People have been puzzled about the cause for a long time, and how it managed to be so … effective. Turns out that researchers at MIT may have found the answer — atmospheric methane. It’s the only explanation that fits the facts, and there’s much evidence to support it. Given the factual data that’s been assembled about the event, all of the other, previously-thought-plausible explanations have to be dismissed. Not one of the others could explain the combination of facts now known.