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EditorBlog (1478)


aaaaaaaaaaaairplaneboneyardsDavis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, a "boneyard" for US military aircraft no longer in use. (Photo: Airman Magazine)

They are called "boneyards" by military personnel, but they aren't human ossuaries. Instead, they are graveyards for machines that kill.

After the military-industrial complex's life-destroying aircraft complete their mission of death and decimation, they are replaced by newly designed Molochs of the sky. The multi-billion dollar equipment that is being phased out has to go somewhere - and most US military planes end up in what are nicknamed "boneyards." Generally, these are enormous swaths of desert in the Southwest of the United States.

"Outdated" combat - and other Pentagon - aircraft in "boneyards" can be parked for years. Some of them are used for spare parts, some are scrapped, a few are occasionally called back to service and upgraded in times of large-scale war, and some are sold to foreign national military services. For the most part, however, these former killing machines simply become metallic bones.

How ironic.


aaaaaaaaaaabarcodesPeople are not bar codes. (Photo: Jason Devaun)

Virtually all of the GOP candidates are desperately trying to jump on the Trump bandwagon of xenophobia toward Mexican migrants. The caravan of "Trumped-up" fear is becoming so unwieldy it may lose a few wheels and crash into the border wall someday soon.

Among the many proposals that Trump's challengers are floating - which range from farcical to terrifying - Chris Christie's idea of processing Mexicans in the US through a Federal Express-like tracking system stands out. It is indistinguishable from a satirical article in The Onion.

On August 29, The New York Times reported details of the New Jersey governor and presidential aspirant's "migrant control" idea:

"At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane," Mr. Christie told the crowd in Laconia, N.H. "Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them."

He added: "We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in."

He said 40 percent of illegal immigrants are allowed into the United States legally with a visa and then stay longer than their visa allows....

Mr. Christie did not say specifically how a system would track people the same way packages are tracked by FedEx, which scans a bar code on the package at each step of its delivery.


aaaaaaaa350Is divestment driving down the profitability of coal? (Photo: 350.org)

The campaign around the world to divest from fossil fuels has really heated up this year. Students at SwarthmoreYaleHarvard and University of Washington among many others demanded their institutions put their money where their mouth is and stop investing “in an industry that is actively destabilizing the future that our education is meant to prepare us for,” as one student at Swarthmore put it.

Not all of the campaigns so far this year have been successful, but to date, 397 institutions have at least partially divested—including foundations, faith groups, pension funds, governmental organizations, universities, nonprofits and for-profits. One notable case came from the Norwegian Parliament, which took the unprecedented step of mandating that its sovereign wealth fund (the richest in the world) divest from coal burning and coal producing companies. And, in the past few weeks, there have been some more major divestment victories: 

1. California Assembly votes to divest pension funds from coal California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday that requires the state’s two largest pension plans—California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—to divest their holdings from thermal coal.

“Coal is the fuel of the past and it’s no longer a wise investment for our pensioners,” saidassemblyman Rob Bonta, who presented the bill before the assembly. “I’m pleased that my colleagues agree: it’s time to move on from this dirty energy source.” 


aaaaaaaaaaatrumpletDavid Letterman exposes Trump as hypocrite in 2012 by revealing that the Trump signature line of men's clothes are made in China and other non-US locations. (Video:YouTube)

It's not possible to be an offshore manufacturing profiteer and to simultaneously champion keeping jobs in the US, without being a hypocrite. No one can prove that point better than Donald Trump.

As a September 1 Slate article noted, "Donald Trump loves to insult China and Mexico." 

On August 25, CNN quoted Trump saying of China, "They want our people to starve - they're taking our business away. They've taken our jobs away." He also pledged to start a trade war with Beijing.

However, back in 2012, David Letterman presciently decimated Trump's swaggering bluster about restoring US jobs that have been moved to China and other non-US locations. 


trumpfinal33For many of his supporters, Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" is a coded way of saying "Make America White Again." (Photo: YouTube)

Okay, Donald Trump is a brash, brazen, bumptious, sexist billionaire who appeals to a bilious, bigoted segment of the US population. Some argue his followers love Trumpism because Trump himself blares out loud the thoughts rattling inside their own heads. Trump, according to this theory, allows the haters who might ordinarily feel inhibited about expressing their intolerance to blatantly bask in feelings of white superiority.

This is coded into Trump's now-iconic campaign slogan that simply says: "Make America Great Again." What a loaded four words those are. Ever since Obama's election, this expression - or variations of it - have been the rallying cry for making America "white again." After all, many Republicans still don't believe Obama was born in the United States. (The "birther" movement was essentially about denying a Black man residence in the White House.) This is the context in which Trumpism and the "Make America Great [White] Again" appeal has spread like wildfire among whites who feel that the United States should be a nation of white governance and privilege. 

September 1 Salon article confirmed the nativist, vile racist support for Trump:

By a significant majority, Trump’s supporters consist of the relatives you’ve been forced to block on Facebook because you’d finally seen enough pictures of President Barack Obama’s face superimposed onto the body of a chimpanzee or suicide bomber. Public Policy Polling’s latest national poll found that 66 percent of Trump’s supporters believe Obama is a Muslim, compared to only 12 percent who believe he’s Christian. (How soon they forget Jeremiah Wright!)

Sixty-one percent of Trump supporters aren’t convinced that the president was born in the United States, which isn’t surprising, given that just last month Trump rekindled his status as one of the "birther" movement’s most prominent advocates, saying that he still doesn’t understand “why [Obama] wouldn’t release his records.” 


aaaaaaamarriageKentucky Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is denying same-sex marriages such as this one (which was issued in Seattle) because of alleged divine mandates. (Photo: 12121stMarriageLicense182)

In Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continues to defy the law of the land by refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses - despite the Supreme Court's recent refusal to hear her appeal. Actually, Davis is not issuing any marriage licenses at all in her county right now, while her attorneys are assisting her in legally appealing a federal court order. This is a weak, cynical and mean-spirited legal tactic to deny same-sex marriage licenses.

September 1 New York Times article describes Davis's adamant refusal to comply with a legal mandate:

It was an unlikely scene for this rural county in northeast Kentucky and for Ms. Davis, a 49-year-old mother of four and a worshiper at Solid Rock Apostolic Church. But she said she had no choice.

“I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me,” she wrote in a statement issued by Liberty Counsel, a conservative group that is representing her in federal court. She added: “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of a marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.”

Ms. Davis grew up in Rowan County and has never lived anywhere else. It is hilly Appalachian country, with a nearly all-white population, home to sawmills, lumber companies and mobile homes. Morehead, the county seat, is full of churches and fast-food restaurants. The poverty rate is just below 29 percent. And a steady government salary is a prized thing.

The New York Times quotes Davis as claiming that she is "acting under God's authority."


aaaaaaaaapolarbearA Greenpeace activist, in a polar bear costume, draws attention to the impact of global warming on the Arctic region. (Photo: Greenpeace)

According the Guardian, President Obama is using an official visit to Alaska to launch a PR offensive against global warming. Obama will be utilizing evidence of massive glacier and Arctic ice melt-off to emphasize the widespread and large scale impact of climate change:

Shrinking Alaskan glaciers served as a vivid backdrop for Barack Obama’s latest push for action on climate change in Anchorage on Monday night as he warned that the equivalent of 75 blocks of ice the size of the national mall in Washington were melting from the state every year.

The president, who will visit the nearby Seward glacier on Tuesday to see its shrinkage for himself, urged international participants at the Glacier conference to act fast before it was too late to limit the impact not just on the region but the whole world.

"The Arctic is at the leading edge of climate change, a leading indicator of what the entire planet faces," warned Obama, who said new research showed 75 gigatons of ice were disappearing from Alaskan glaciers annually – each gigaton the equivalent of a block stretching from the Capitol to the Lincoln memorial and four times as high as the Washington Monument.

"Climate change is no longer some far-off problem," he added. "Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy and infrastructure."

One cannot deny that the president is offering a public education moment, spreading awareness about the ruinous impact of largely unfettered industrialization and fossil fuel use on the planet. However, while Obama is warning against the degradation of the earth, he is taking steps that further its deteriorating condition.

Take, for instance, Obama's authorization of Shell to begin deep-sea oil exploration in the Arctic. Simply put, this will contribute to global warming.


aaaaaaaaaimigrants"We are all immigrants." Translated from the Spanish. (Photo: Kevin Hoogheem)

In 1986, Jackson Browne released a withering song that decried the Reagan wars in Central America. In it, Browne pleaded that "there are lives in the balance." Although Browne was responding in particular to US government support of the Contras in the Nicaraguan civil war and military massacres in Latin America, many of the song’s lyrics are also relevant to the deaths of other people who are treated as disposable. Take for instance this passage in the song:

I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear

You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you've seen it before

Yesterday I posted a commentary entitled, "Global Neoliberalism and Wars of Empire Play Roles in Migrants' Fatal Efforts to Reach Europe." Given how many refugees of economic, political and violence crises were precipitated - in large part - by Western intervention in northern Africa and the Middle East, Jackson's impatient and urgent lyrics could apply equally well to the deaths of global refugees.

While the media this year have been more focused on migrant deaths in Europe fatalities, Donald Trump has been using migrants from Mexico and Central America as the focus of his incendiary rallying cry. Trump is stoking hatred and base fears among a segment of the US population as refugees die crossing through the desert to bypass the border wall.


aaaaaaaaaapeopleBelgian supporters of Amnesty International advocate on behalf of migrants to Europe. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Almost daily, there are reports of deaths of desperate migrants to Europe seeking economic refuge or safety from wars.

For example, an August 27 CNN article reports,

The discovery of a number of dead migrants in the back of a truck in Austria, just a day after the Italian coast guard said 54 people lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, has highlighted once again the scale of the migration crisis gripping Europe.

Europe is not alone in experiencing an increase in refugees seeking jobs or fleeing war zones. Needless to say, for example, migration from Mexico and Central America are at the forefront of Donald Trump's appeal to bigoted xenophobia and exploitation of economic uncertainty among white voters in the US.


aaaaaaagrandcanEven the Grand Canyon can't escape toxic pollution. (Photo: Ronnie Macdonald)

That is also a point to remember in the case of pollution in general. For example, even though the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon National Park is free of industry, it is apparently not free of pollutants. The Nature World Report recently drew attention to this ominous reality:

A UNSECO World Heritage site and the 15th oldest national park in the U.S. the Grand Canyon is about as far removed from the congestion and pollution associated with our nation’s industrial and urban centers. And yet, according to a study by the United States Geological Survey [USGS], even the mighty Grand Canyon (and the Colorado River that forms it) isn’t immune to pollution: The levels of mercury and selenium now regularly exceed the “risk threshold” for fish and local wildlife.

Should the toxic elements enter the food supply, they could be harmful to fish and wildlife that eat them. It seems that the Grand Canyon’s remote location is of little import – the pollutants are airborne, and come from as far away as entire other countries.

The breathtaking beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon connects us spiritually to this planet on which we reside. It is a sobering portent that this wondrous natural creation is now showing signs of measurable mercury and selenium pollution.

Incrementally ruinous global warming and pollution often do not seem to pose an immediate threat to our daily experience – they may appear remote and not worthy of immediate attention.

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