NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY
 
 $123,500

HOT TOPICS ▶ The Real Baltimore    Reality Asserts Itself    United Kingdom    The People's Summit 2017

The Real News Network - Independent News, Blogs and Editorials

In praise of Trump pulling out of the Paris climate pact

By Ken Ward. This article was first published on The Hill.


To the dismay of our allies, the White House could any day announce the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But as a patriot and climate activist, I’m not dismayed. I actually want to pull out.

The value of the Paris Agreement is in its aspirational goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, not in its implementation mechanisms, which are voluntary, insufficient, and impossible to monitor. But that modest goal will be breached shortly, which makes the agreement a kind of fig leaf, offering political cover to those who would soft-pedal the runaway climate crisis a while longer.

The U.N. Conference of the Parties is certainly not the organization to constrain powerful, retrenched fossil fuel interests and other bad climate actors and rogue climate states. The Paris agreement affords oil, gas and coal companies a globally visible platform through which to peddle influence and appear engaged on climate change while lobbying for business as usual. That won’t save the climate.

At what point do we give up wishful, incremental thinking — that reason will prevail, the free market will adjust, the president’s daughter and son-in-law will dissuade him from the worst climaticide, the Democratic Party will do something, or prior policies which tinker on the margins like the Clean Power Plan won’t be totally obliterated?  

I’d argue we’ve reached that point. If Trump withdraws from the Paris Agreement, at least we will have clarity instead of false hope.

Who wanted to keep the U.S. in the Paris agreement anyway? People around the world, a majority of Americans, environmentalists and other coastal elites — constituencies for which Trump has shown indifference and/or contempt. Staying in was also favored by Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, Peabody coal, eBay, HP, General Mills, Kellogg, Tesla and other multinationals the Trump administration would have preferred to keep happy. But let’s face it, they won’t be all that mad the U.S. is pulling out, and the political impact won’t be all that great.

Neither will the environmental impact. In fact, since the agreement lacks teeth, breaking it won’t have any effect on the climate in the short term. But in the longer term, the shock and rethinking it will cause in some circles just might precipitate political and cultural changes we need to stave off climate cataclysm.

Pulling out of Paris will also give the president a political boost. It gives Breitbart and Fox something to crow about and The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN something that’s not Russia-gate to fret over. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to justify or abet Trump and his supporters in climate denial, and I’m not thinking climate activists and the Trump administration will end up in some the kind of strange-bedfellows embrace. Personally, I loathe this administration and find the president’s actions mean, maleficent, and mendacious, though it’s nothing personal. On my very best days I can eke out a couple minutes of meta loving-kindness meditation for the president as a person, but it’s a struggle.

I welcome pulling out of the Paris agreement because it will disrupt our complacency and strengthen the most vigorous avenues of climate action left to us, which are through the courts and direct citizen action. It lends much more credence to the Our Children's Trust legal argument  that the federal government has utterly failed in its responsibility to consider the long-term impact of carbon emissions. It advances the arguments of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in their federal lawsuit for the right to a livable climate. And it strengthens the case for climate activists attempting to raise the “necessity defense” as a justification for citizen climate action, as I and my fellow “valve turners” are doing as we face criminal charges for shutting off emergency valves on oil sands pipelines.

It’s also true that withdrawal from Paris deprives mainstream environmental organizations and the foundations and funders that guide them of a key deliverable, and that could risk eroding support for them. Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Many of them have pursued an utterly bankrupt strategy of understating the climate problem, negotiating with the fossil fuel industry, and cherry-picking small victories to showcase organizational accomplishments at the expense of a functional movement strategy.

Pulling out of Paris takes false hopes off the table, and opens the way for building an effective climate movement. So as committed climate activist who knows we’re running out of time, I say, let’s get on with it.

Ken Ward is a former deputy director of Greenpeace going on trial next week on felony charges for shutting down an oil sands pipeline to prevent harm to the climate.

Add a comment

In a Dozen Interviews, Media Never Bothered Asking President Trump About Climate Change

By Adam Johnson. This article was first published on Fair.

President Donald Trump’s disastrous withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Change Accord understandably has the media in a frenzy. “Unconscionable and fatuous,” proclaimed The Economist (6/1/17). Trump “shamefully abandons the fight against humanity’s greatest threat,” wrote Bloomberg News (6/1/17). But when given the opportunity over the past four months of his presidency to ask Trump a question on climate change, no outlet has bothered to bring up the topic at all.

In their respective interviews with Trump since he became president, AP News (4/23/17), CBS News (4/30/17), New York Times (4/5/17), The Economist (5/11/17), NBC News (5/11/17), ABC News (1/25/17), Bloomberg News (5/1/17), Fox News (2/5/17), Breitbart (2/27/17), Reuters (2/24/17), Time Magazine (3/27/17) and the Financial Times (4/2/17) all failed to ask Trump about his climate change views or policies.

The same Economist and Bloomberg who now lament, in almost apocalyptic terms, Trump’s withdraw from the Paris Accords, when given the opportunity to press Trump on his climate change policies—or even broach the subject at all—chose not to.

FAIR could not find a single question about climate change in any interview or press conference with Trump since he took office on January 20, 2017.

The Washington Post (3/21/16) and New York Times (11/23/16) editorial interviews with candidate and president-elect Trump, respectively, did ask him about his climate change views. However, the vast majority of interviews by others during both the primary and general election campaign did not, including other interviews by both publications: The Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa (4/2/16) did not ask Trump about climate change, nor did the Times’ Maggie Haberman and David Sanger in two separate interviews on international policy (3/26/16, 7/21/16). NBC’s Meet the Press (8/16/15), Fox News (10/16/15, 5/16/16), CNN (3/9/16, 3/29/16), ABC News (8/2/15, 8/6/16), CNBC (9/12/16), Fortune (4/21/16), CNN (6/5/16) and many others also did not ask Trump about his views on climate change.

The 2016 presidential and vice presidential general election debates did not have a single question on climate change for either Trump or Hillary Clinton (FAIR.org, 10/19/16). There hasn’t been a mention of “climate change” in any of the post-primary debates since October 2008, when CBS’s Bob Schieffer referred to it as “climate control” in a question that wasn’t even about climate change, but dependence on foreign oil.

Liberal media watchdog Media Matters’ annual study found that in 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as Fox News Sunday,

did not air a single segment informing viewers of what to expect on climate change and climate-related policies or issues—including the Paris agreement—under a Trump or Hillary Clinton administration.

Despite the universal consensus on the science of climate change and the urgent need to act, the tremendous stakes to the planet and humankind, and the fact that the last three years were the three hottest on record, the media seems fickle at best in prioritizing the topic. They’re mildly outraged when Trump pulls out of the only meaningful global effort to curb climate change, but have next to nothing to say in the lead up to him doing so.

Why no questions on climate change in any of the debates? Why no mention of climate change in dozens of interviews and press conferences since he’s taken office? If the most existential crisis of our generation isn’t taken seriously by the media, how can we expect the public—much less the president—to do so?

Add a comment

The Essential Pundit Take: ‘Trump Became President’ by Bombing Syria

By Jim Naureckas. This article was first published on FAIR.

Fareed Zakaria on Trump airstrikes

Fareed Zakaria: Presidents “don’t need to go to a pesky Congress every time they want military force.”

“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States” last night, CNN host Fareed Zakaria said when asked about the significance of Trump’s airstrikes on Syria (New Day, 4/7/17). “I think this was actually a big moment.”

His explanation is worth quoting at length for its distillation of the classic pundit attitude toward presidential violence:

Because candidate Trump had said that he would never get involved in the Syrian civil war. He told President Obama, you cannot do this without the authorization of Congress. He seemed unconcerned with global norms.

President Trump recognized that the president of the United States does have to act to enforce international norms, does have to have this broader moral and political purpose. President Trump realized, as every president has for many decades now, that presidents always believe they have inherent legal authority as commander in chief. And they don’t need to go to a pesky Congress every time they want military force.

It’s entirely true that candidate Trump felt differently. Candidate Obama felt differently than President Obama on these issues.

So I think that what is interesting is even the way in which he justified his actions, President Trump did–for the first time, really, as president, he talked about international norms, international rules, about America’s role in enforcing justice in the world. It was the kind of rhetoric that we have come to expect from American presidents since Harry Truman, but it was the kind of rhetoric that President Trump had pointedly never used, either on the campaign trail nor in his inaugural.

So I think there has been an interesting morphing and a kind of education of Donald Trump.

Note the assurance with which Zakaria insists that a military attack on a sovereign state, unauthorized by the United Nations and unjustifiable in terms of self-defense, signifies a new respect on Trump’s part for “global norms” and “international rules.” Clearly, for Zakaria as for most pundits, the norm is that international law does not apply to the president of the United States–a doctrine that is usually referred to by the euphemism “American exceptionalism.”

Note, too, the contempt with which Zakaria dismisses the idea that a “pesky Congress” should constrain a president’s ability to make war; who needs a constitutionally mandated declaration of war when you’ve got a “broader moral and political purpose”?

Zakaria’s remarks recalled the comment by CNN‘s Van Jones (2/28/17) after Trump celebrated the widow of a Navy SEAL who died in a botched raid in Yemen that killed nine children: Trump “did something tonight that you cannot take away from him. He became president of the United States.” They also recall the prediction made by Alex Pareene (The Concourse, 3/1/17) after the pundit reaction to that speech:

Now that Trump has learned that there is a direct relationship between a president’s body count and how “presidential” the mainstream political press considers him to be, the whole world is fucked.

But Zakaria also evoked a voice from an earlier generation of war punditry, the New York TimesR.W. Apple (12/21/89), who said after the elder President George Bush invaded Panama that Bush had completed

a presidential initiation rite [joining] American leaders who since World War II have felt a need to demonstrate their willingness to shed blood to protect or advance what they construe as the national interest…. Panama has shown him as a man capable of bold action.

Apple (8/12/90) later praised Bush as “tough,” “determined” and “statesmanlike” after Bush warned following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that “American soldiers and American hostages may have to die.” “In forceful terms, Mr. Bush sought to prepare the whole American nation for the prospect of bloodshed,” was how Apple put it.

MSNBC: Tomahawk missile

One of Brian Williams’ “beautiful” Tomahawk missiles on MSNBC.

Zakaria was not the only talking head striking nostalgic notes as he commented on the US’s latest violence. Brian Williams, reporting the breaking news on MSNBC (4/6/17), rhapsodized about the beauty of the Tomahawk missile:

We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: “I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.” And they are beautiful pictures, of fearsome armaments making what is, for them, a brief flight over this airfield.

Williams’ enthusiasm recalled the weapons fetishism of the 1991 Gulf War, which featured CNN (1/16/91) describing the “sweet beautiful sight” of bombers taking off from Saudi Arabia, and CBS correspondent Jim Stewart (1/17/91) raving about “two days of almost picture-perfect assaults.”


Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org. You can find him on Twitter at @JNaureckas.

Add a comment

Top 10 Lies, Damn Lies, and Lies About Syria

By David Swanson. This article was fist published on davidswanson.org

1. Chemical weapons are worse than other weapons.

This is not the case. Death and dismemberment are horrific regardless of the weapon. No weapon is being used legally, morally, humanely, or practically in Syria or Iraq. U.S. bombs are no less indiscriminate, no less immoral, and no less illegal than chemical weapons -- or for that matter than the depleted uranium weapons with which the United States has been poisoning the area. The fact that a weapon has not been banned does not create a legal right to go into a country and kill people with it.

2. Chemical weapons use justifies the escalated use of other weapons.

Does shoplifting justify looting? If a Hatfield poisoned a McCoy, would another McCoy be justified in shooting a bunch of Hatfields? What barbarism is this? A crime does not sanction another crime. That's a quick trip to hell.

3. Important people we should trust know who used chemical weapons.

No, they do not. At least they do not know that the Syrian government did it. If they knew this, they would offer evidence. As on every past occasion, they have not done so.

4. The enemy is pure evil and will answer only to force.

The U.S. government and its proxies have sabotaged peace negotiations numerous times over the past several years, maintaining that Assad would have to step down or -- preferably -- be overthrown by violence before anything could be negotiated. This does not make the U.S. government pure inhuman evil, much less does it make the Syrian government that.

5. If you don't want to bomb Syria with one enemy's name on your lips, you hold the firm belief that said enemy is actually a saint.

This piece of stupidity gets people accused of loving and holding blameless the Syrian government, the Russian government, the U.S. government, ISIS, and various other parties. In fact, the reasonable thing to do is to hold all killers responsible for their killing because of the crime, not because of who commits it.

6. U.S. war-making in Syria is defensive.

This is the opposite of reality-based thinking as war-making endangers us rather than protects us. Someone should ask Donald Trump to remember the Maine. You may remember that Spain wanted the matter brought to a neutral arbiter, but the United States wanted war, regardless of any evidence. That's been the typical move over the centuries: careful maneuvering into war, not away from it. Trump, by the way, is already up to his bloody elbows in several wars inherited from Obama -- wars no less immoral and illegal slaughters because of their connection to either of those presidents. The question of who blew up the Maine is, at this point a truly dumb one. The important point is that the U.S. didn't want to know, wanted instead to rush into a war before anyone could find out. Typically, the desire to avoid information, and not some other consideration, is the reason for the urgency in war-making.

7. Peace was tried in 2013, and it failed.

No. What happened was that Obama and his administration tried to pull off the same stunt that Trump is trying now, and the public rose up and refused to allow it. So, instead of a massive bombing campaign, Syria got more weapons, more trainers, more troops, and a medium sized bombing campaign. That's very different from actually shifting direction and offering Syria diplomacy, aid, and disarmament.

8. The U.S. government's goal is peace.

The long openly stated goal of powerful players in the U.S. government is to overthrow Assad.

9. Syria is as boring and unconcerning as numerous other ongoing U.S. wars.

In reality, Syria is a war that risks fighting between the United States and Russia, while each is armed with far more than enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on earth. Creating a profitable conflict between the U.S. and Russia is a likely actual motivation of some hawks on Syria.

10. Making everything worse with yet more violence is the only option left.

That's not an option at all. But these are: aid, reparations, negotiations, disarmament, the rule of law, truth and reconciliation.

--

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Add a comment

Syria Airstrikes Instantly Added Nearly $5 Billion to Missile-Makers’ Stock Value

Jen Wieczner. This article was first published on Fortune.
Raytheon stock surged Friday morning, after 59 of the company's Tomahawk missiles were used to strike Syria in Donald Trump's first major military operation as President.

Trump ordered the airstrike on the Syrian government Thursday night in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians earlier this week that killed as many as 100 people. The U.S. blamed the attack on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Tomahawk missile used in the strike is made by Raytheon (rtn, +1.47%), whose stock opened 2.5% higher Friday, adding more than $1 billion to the defense contractor's market capitalization.

The shares of other missile and weapons manufacturers, including Boeing (ba, +0.83%), Lockheed Martin (lmt, +1.17%), Northrop Grumman (noc, +0.90%) and General Dynamics (gd, +0.93%), each rose as much as 1%, collectively gaining nearly $5 billion in market value as soon as they began trading, even as the broader market fell.

(All major U.S. stock market indexes dropped slightly in morning trading after the release of the weakest monthly jobs report in almost a year, which increased doubts about the strength of the American economy.)

The technology and equipment of the defense companies, which all have lucrative contracts with the U.S. government, was likely also used in Trump's airstrikes on Syria. Lockheed Martin, for example, makes the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System, one part of a three-pronged system needed to launch the missile; the product calculates the trajectory from a ship to the target. General Dynamics also makes technology used to fire Tomahawk missiles.

Boeing, meanwhile, makes other types of cruise missiles.

Defense contractor stocks have risen in the months since Trump was elected, spurred by his promises of a "historic" increase in U.S. military spending. The budget Trump proposed last month includes an additional $52 billion for the Department of Defense. Boeing stock has gained nearly 21% since the election, while General Dynamics stock is up 14% over the same period. (The S&P 500 has risen roughly 11% since election day.)

Add a comment
TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting