Saturday, August 30, 2014

The worst thing about our plunder of the Earth's Oil

I have thought this for a long time and yet I've never heard it spoken of or written about it myself before, but I will now. Maybe it has something to do with being in Texas. And forgive me it my numbers don't have the usual precision. I'm not going to Wikipedia this one. I'm going to "ball park" it, but I know my numbers are close enough for government work, so here goes.

First some context.

This is how I see the human experiment I'm trying so hard to help succeed, and I have no idea how it has or will work out on other inhabitable planets, but here's how it went on Earth:

This is my time-line. About 2 million years ago we started to separate out ourselves as a species, probably 200,000 years ago we were fully formed as modern homo sapiens. Still we stumbled around the rain forests for most of that time, learned the basics - how to make fire, how to make tools, how to hunt, how to hunt in teams, how to raise animals we didn't have to hunt, and finally, how to grow our own food so we could stay in one place and start making some real progress. Those basics took a really long time. We call that period pre-historic because we didn't even start writing things down until say 8,000 years ago.

So here we are today. We've made a lot of progress since then. The technology we don't yet have is easily within our grasp. Not knowing how to conjure up fire when it gets cold is not our problem our problem is a lack of justice within the dominate species on this planet.

Now, if we can get through this rough spot and make it into clearer waters, and I believe that will sort itself out, one way or the other, in the next couple hundred years. if not in our lifetime, the prospects are for a very long future ahead of us given that its said that our Sun is but a middle-aged star and it is about 4.5 billion years old. What we may do with that time is beyond my imagination, I'm just trying to do my part to keep us from imploding before we get there.

Did I mention that I'm an optimist? I think we should be planning on that very long future.

Now Oil is two things. On the one hand, it is a highly complex mixture of organic compounds that nature has cooked up for us by subjecting once living matter to heat, pressure and time. We get an almost endless list of lubricates, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, name it from Oil. While all of those things can probably be synthesised without petroleum, that can only be done at greater costs while using more energy. After all, nature has already put a lot of energy into creating them.

On the other hand, Oil is a cheap and easily used source of energy. You simply put fire to it, or you refine it a bit and put fire to it. All those lovely complex molecules, that nature took so long to build, are turned into air pollution, but you do instantly release all that energy.

As a source of energy, we can easily replace Oil with solar, water or wind power, replacing it as a starting point for producing lubricates? Not so easy. So I think one of the sorriest things we can do with Oil is to burn it. We are going to need that stuff for a long time. Using it as a highly portable fuel to jump-start the industrial revolution may have been justified for a hundred years or so, but we are past that now. We should stop using oil for energy now! We need to save that stuff for the future, We should be around for a billion more years, These first million or so have just been the birth pangs. We are bound to run out of Oil no matter how sparingly we use it. Just think of what future generations will think of us for letting so much of it go up in flames.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

If Obama doesn't want to do it, he'll go to Congress

That's what the commentator or politician, I didn't get the name, said on CNN this morning. He was talking about President Barack Obama's threat to attack ISIS in Syria. His point was that if Obama was bluffing and really didn't want to attack, as was the case after Bashar al-Assad's use of sarin to kill more than a thousand people in East Ghouta, Syria last year, he would go to Congress and let it die. If he did want to bomb ISIS in Syria, he would just do it.

When Obama was looking for a reason to renege on his promise to attack Assad if he killed with chemical weapons, he took his problem to Congress. Most of the anti-imperialist "Left" promptly started organizing anti-war protests to protect Assad from Obama, as if Obama ever had any real intentions of attacking the fascist dictator that for years he has been publicly appealing to "step down" voluntarily.

When Congress did what everyone knew they would do, oppose Obama's "proposed" military action against Assad, the whole anti-imperialist "Left" burst out in celebration, took credit for the "reversal", and bragged about their growing power. I heard David Swanson do exactly that when he spoke in Los Angeles afterwards. Now he calls Obama's new bombing in Iraq without going to congress first "justified." What jerks these people are! At the time I likened them to the little boy in car commercial dressed as Darth Vader that thinks he started the family car with "the Force," while his father creates the magic with the cars remote start.

Ironically, the threat we face from ISIS this year is owed, in no small part, to Obama's failure to attack Assad last year. When Obama went back on his word, when all of America, as represented by Congress, reneged on its promise to the Syrian people to finally respond militarily when Assad used chemical weapons, many Syrians who had been looking to the West felt stabbed in the back. Some left the fight entirely, others joined fighting groups with an anti-western stance. The Free Syria Army lost strength and ISIS gained strength, as many concluded that the west lacked even the moral foundations to do what it says and only a return to the most reactionary forms of Islam may save them.

Now Obama really is in the advanced stages of planning the bombing of Syria. It is clear he will only go to Congress if it suits him. Most likely he won't go to Congress at all, and where is the anti-imperialist "Left" this time? Silence! One would think they would be trying to fill the streets to defend the "gains" they made a year ago by "forcing" Obama to seek congressional approval before taking military action. Instead the silence is deafening.

As I said, what jerks these people are.

From Linux Beach in San Antonio.

Like I've been saying:
How Obama has supported Assad's gas murder always
Obama's Real Syria Policy: Endless War
The Courtship Continues: Obama stopped French strike on Assad
The Courtship Continues: Obama's New Gift to Assad
How Obama Helped Assad Kill with Poison Gas in Syria
Win-Win for Assad as Obama Response to CW Mass Murder Put on Hold
Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims
Obama's Dilemma and Assad's Opportunity
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad Exposed!
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy
Obama: Did the CIA betray Assad's opposition in Syria?
Obama planning drone strikes against Assad's opposition in Syria
How Obama helps Assad: US tried to start war between FSA & al Nusra Front

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Counter-revolutionary "Left"will again be with NATO

This time it will be by their silence.

Here's the situation:

The rise as ISIS, a group that al Qaeda calls too extreme, and the connection of a British voice to the brutal beheading of James Foley, has caused the leaders of western imperialism to address the fact that many holders of European, British, Canada, Australian and American passports have gone to fight in Syria.

This has in turn forced them to address the question of motivation: Why have thousands of young people from those countries given up relatively comfortable lives in the west to play "Lawrence of Arabia" in the very land that Lawrence made a name for himself? Why have they joined the Arab revolt? And here they start to sound like idiots. They talk about the attraction of jihad and Internet brainwashing and everything else they can think of but in the end they can conjure up no good reasons why a sane person would risk his young life in a foreign land.

The simple, and for them, unspeakable fact is that what motivates these recruits most is that having witnessed the valor and the suffering of the Syrian people on the Internet these past few years, a growing number have desired to come to the aid of the Syrian people and have taken up their cause. I think these foreign fighters in Syria have much in common with the internationalists that went to Spain to fight for the republic as the clouds where gathering for World War 2. Coincidentally, war clouds are gathering in Europe again. They were motivated by the cause of the republic, the courage of the revolutionaries, and the suffering of the Spanish people fighting against such uneven odds. It will ultimately save humanity that young people are willing time and again to put aside their fears and personal safety in the service of others.

While its true that the Lincoln Brigade and groups like it came under relatively progressive leadership, whereas most of the young foreigners fighting in Syria have given themselves to very reactionary leadership, the motivations are quite similar, they want to intervene against Assad's murder of the children. It certainly isn't the fault of these young people that there is no "left" or progressive road to Damascus, no "Lincoln Brigade," those that occupy the high ramparts of the "Left" have seen to that. But for Muslim youth around the world the Islamists have put in place a highway that leads from the local mosque to the front-lines. Because they have mobilized for the Syrians while the "Left" has cheered on Assad, these reactionary jihadists have gained in strength while the "Left" has been complete discredited in their eyes. [The Left is with Assad.]

Of course, these commentators on CNN, Fox News and the like can't afford to talk about these more noble motivations for going to Syria and fighting with whoever claims to be fighting Assad, because then they would have to talk about what is really happening in Syria and try to explain why the murder of two hundred thousand people in three years in a relatively small country merited so little coverage. They can't do that.

And the "anti-imperialist" Left can't raise these points either because they are guilty of the same crimes as the bourgeoisie when it comes to Syria.
UPDATE: Douglas MacArthur McCain was a baseball fan and would be rapper from San Diego. He was born in Minnesota. A few years ago he tweeted #FreeGaza. Recently he was killed by the Free Syria Army in a battle with ISIS. He was fighting for ISIS. The question that everyone on the left that is serious about winning has to ask is why are people like Douglas are being won to extreme reaction rather than the left.
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Officer Darren Wilson fired 10 shots at Michael Brown in 6.5 seconds

As was bound to happen in our age of ubiquitous electronic gadgets, an audio recording has turned up that appears to have captured the distinct sound of the gunfire that killed Michael Brown. After having worked with the audio from the YouTube video below to isolate and time the sound of the bullets, I am quite confident that this is a true recording of that night and what it reveals is a total of 14 shots fired in less than 6.5 seconds.

A half second after the first shot was fired, there was a staccato of 9 shots fire in 1.252 seconds followed by a pause of more than 3 seconds which was then followed by 4 shots fired in just over 3 seconds. Of particular interest is the very first shot which reverberates on the timeline for 0.25 seconds as compared it the almost instantaneous snap of the other shots. That would seem to lend credence to the claim that the first shot was fired in the car. Beyond that I will make no attempt to interpret the data that I am presenting here. However I do believe that if this is a true recording of the sounds of Officer Darren Wilson gunning down Michael Brown, then we now have very precise information on how many shots where fired and their timing.

My data points:

Secs.into clip        Shot No.

This is the YouTube video from which I took the audio:

This is a screen print of the Open Source Audacity audio program which I used to analysis and time the video:

This is a close up of the first shot:

These are the facts, those stubborn things!

UPDATE: It has been reported that the Ferguson PD standard issue is a SIG Sauer 2022 .40 which uses a 12 round magazine. This gun is also popular with Navy SEALs and Special Forces. Allowing for a round in the chamber, that would mean a maximum load of 13 rounds fired without reloading so it is possible I am wrong on the count and counted some echoes as shots. It is also possible that Officer Wilson reloaded in the three second interval. It has also been said that the first shot was not recorded. If that is the case it would have happened at least 3.48 seconds before the first recorded shot because the released audio tape shows no shots in that period.

It should also be mentioned that SIG makes a high-capacity magazine for this gun that holds 15 .40 rounds.  

Also see my Some thoughts on Michael Brown & the Law in St. Louis

UPDATE 2: I have re-examined the graphic of the audio evidence in light of CNN's audio experts count of 10 shots and now agree with him, a total of to shots are heard on the clip. I now believe the audio peaks I have marked at 2, 4, 6 & 8 on the above graphic were echoes of the preceding shots and not new shots.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some thoughts on Michael Brown & the Law in St. Louis

I've been busy in San Antonio this week learning a new job so I haven't had time for blogging. Haven't had time for much of anything else. That doesn't mean my heart hasn't been with the protesters in Ferguson, especially since I have my own history with St. Louis law enforcement. Now comes the weekend, which suddenly has new meaning for me, like time to write a blog.

Before I get to my own experiences, I have a few words for the media, especially CNN. I'm working second shift and I have been catching their late night coverage from my Home2 @ the Hilton:

What you don't seem to get is that it isn't particularly about what Michael Brown did or whether Officer Darren Wilson was justified in killing him. Its about a culture in this country that pre-dates the United States that says a white law enforcement officer is always justified in gunning down a black man and the lack of evidence, with each new "Michael Brown," that that has changed or ever will change. Honestly, I don't know whether Darren Brown is guilty of murder, but I know they can't all be innocent and I know they all get off. I was in Los Angeles when the verdict came down in the Rodney King case. The video tape made no difference. When's the last time a white cop went to jail for killing a black person? Hence the rage.

Now to your coverage. I haven't blogged about Ferguson this week but I have done a few things. Last night I sent this tweet to CNN's Don Lemon:

I want him or someone in the media to explain why this woman's hearsay story was covered as though she was an eyewitness, or even considered news worthy. The bias in the media coverage of this story has been incredible. I'd call Don Lemon an "Uncle Tom" reporter but for the injustice that would do to Mark Twain's character.

Now to your courage. I sent this email To CNN's Steve Kastenbaum as the police were forcing the media to leave while they were making arrests:
Subject: Tell the police you'll take your chances

Dear Steve:

The next time the police tell you that you and other members of the media to move for your own safety, will you please thank them kindly for their concerns and then tell them that you are very aware of the danger but it has never been the role of the media to shirk your responsibility to report the news because of danger. Tell them that CNN has had reporters on the ground in Syria, in Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine and Nigeria, so you should certainly be free to take your chances in Ferguson, Missouri.

Clay Claiborne
That was Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 at 12:43 AM and as if to put the explanation point on my comment, an hour later they announced that James Foley had been beheaded by ISIS.

In facing the danger and going to Syria to report on the conflict because hundreds of thousands were dying in it, Jim Foley represented the courage of the media in its best light. Now all media has crocodile tears for him but they had little use for his coverage when he was risking his life in Syria and spent little time decrying Assad and ISIS atrocities as long as it was Syrians being butchered. In their coverage of Syria we have seen the "courage" of the media in its worst light. If there is one thing they can do to honor the memory of James Foley, it is to reform their coverage of Syria. If there is one thing we all can do to honor his memory, it is to redouble our efforts to see the Syrian conflict to a peaceful resolution.

Now back to St. Louis where a county sheriff once bragged to me in all confidence how they murdered this guy in his car. They just surrounded him and blasted him. He said they all used shotguns so they would leave no traceable ballistics. This was more than 40 years ago, as are my other experiences with St. Louis law. I lived there between 1966-1975 when I was still a young black man.

Another time, this was ~ 1973, a well known "Starsky & Hutch" type St. Louis undercover rolled up next to me at a traffic light on N. Grand in North St. Louis, pointed his gun out the window at me and threaten to blow my head off in I didn't quit it. This was in broad daylight. At the time I was active in the protests against another St. Louis police killing. In this case a ten year old boy.

Then there was the time the St. Louis police discovered they had fucked with the wrong nigger. I used that term because the cop did to my face. I had just left the home of a fellow activist in North St. Louis, Mike, and was walking down the side walk. This was about 11pm on a Sunday night. Just as I was about to cross an alley, a speeding car came through, barely missing me. I had yelled "What the hell?" even before I saw it was a police cruiser. Upon hearing me, the cop apparently forgot all about whatever he was speeding to, slammed on his brakes and put it in reverse. "What did you say to me nigger?" It was just me and him on this empty St. Louis street approaching mid-night. Then it was up against the car, you know the drill, "I think I saw you trying to break into that store across the street."

The next thing I knew, I was in handcuffs in the Penrose station, demanding my phone call while they prepared to given me the usual treatment, which generally involved a beating in the basement. I kept demanding my one phone call until finally they threw a phone in front of me. I quickly called Mike, who also happened to be an attorney. When I left him, he was in a t-shirt and shorts. Ten minutes after my call, he was in the Penrose station and looking very much like my lawyer. I was soon released with all apologies and left the St. Louis police wondering just who was this nigger that could whistle up an attorney in minutes near midnight on a Sunday.

Another time two St. Louis County sheriffs perjured themselves on the witness stand in an effort frame me in an anti-Vietnam war protest. Take these stories for what they are worth. I've already passed the criminal background check at my new job and have no reason to make this stuff up. All of these events happened more than 40 years ago but judging form what I've seen out of St. Louis on this week's media coverage, not much has changed.