Sunday, 26 June 2011

Paravan, paṛaiyan, untouchable, pariah.

(singular: paṛaiyan, plural: paṛaiyar)

or Truth will out. Not!
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Leonard Cohen: Songs from a Room, Bird on the Wire.Music up-front this week: Lenny Cone and his Bird on the Wire, the original 1969 version (both lyrics below).

If there was a moment when Bob & Lennie stood side by each and Lennie came up short it was when they were talking in some video I saw and Lennie says how hard he works to make a song and Bob says, no, I just do it ... which is why there is no later version in this post (they are around, you can find them) by our Leonard himself, he might have left well enough alone, or not. Oh yeah, I know Bob changes his songs about every time he sings 'em - but that's sort of exactly the difference.

So ... & Joe Cocker & Rita Coolige.

How black does it get eh? :-)It seems weak to introduce an unnecessary and pretentious 'thee' into it, hinting at divinity; which hint is not quite balanced by about the blackest humour ever seen in k-k-Canadian art: 'I will make it all up to thee.'

... & Willie Nelson too, & the Neville Brothers & finally Johnny Cash (because his voice quavers, almost ruined, and because I like the way he almost chokes on the word 'drunk').

Here, I have made a YouTube Playlist - might make it easier for y'all - seems that playlists repeat too, 'automatically' or 'electronically' (as Eddie would say).

Mr. Natural 'Don't mean sheeit ...'Last week the compost heap was turning around the wreckage left by two stories from 'the Subcontinent', so the Hindu gods & goddesses were no more than methane, rising up unbidden from rotting thoughts of so long ago (just in case you thought I actually knew something about Shakti & Kali and the rest).

But then again, who has not thought of himself or herself as Arjuna taking instruction from the God of all Creation? Or some comestible equivalent?

First was a historical novel from Bangladesh, A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam which softened me up.

Something in the first chapter grabbed my guts - 'like a wrench' as we used to say in high-school - a mother forced to give up her children by the courts & petty tyranny (that plays so rough). Ai ai ai! The mother in me has been there and had to do that - so I was captured by it.

As I read it again, that first chapter does not move me so deeply - quite conventional prose really, sentimental bourgeois clap-trap. So - it takes two to Tango then? Is that it?

Nonetheless there was a killing one-two punch; because for no particular reason the next thing that came my way from the library was Arundhati Roy's, The God of Small Things, and again, the first chapter ... just the last few phrases of it really, held me in thrall, not pleasantly y'unnerstan'. (Threal was a place I think? In Voyage to Arcturus was it? Funny how this memory gear still engages the odd time.)

Blake: A Negro hung alive by the Ribs to a Gallows.In this one a mother is betrayed and officially dishonoured by bourgeois pettiness, and her children are about destroyed. That, and the author is an architect, and the daughter she imagines is an architect too, so ... Hooked. And the internal landscape left in a shambles at the end of it.

Arundhati Roy.Arundhati Roy.Arundhati Roy.Arundhati Roy.Arundhati Roy.I am wondering exactly what kind of a princess Arundhati Roy might be? This review/interview around her latest book Broken Republic: Three Essays leaves me uncertain. It is not even on the acquisition-list at the library yet, I checked, but it will be there eventually they say.

At times, particularly towards the end, The God of Small Things seems as if it will run out of control and off the tracks completely, like a glass so full that the meniscus curve trembles at the brink.

The Guardian interviewer tells us that "her critics call her shrill." So then I am thinking of the video of Vandana Shiva and Gwynne Dyer (Part 1: 10 min. here & Part 2: 5 min. here) - now that was shrill ... or seemed so to me (though I agree with her and disagree emphatically with Gwynne Dyer on this issue) ... maybe it is a cultural thing?

Arundhati Roy's 2002 'September Speech' (45 min. video here) does not seem shrill to me, though her occasional coy smiles put me off.

Maybe Broken Republic takes her over another line? I am interested to see what the details of that line look like from up-close.

When Robert Crumb has Mr. Natural say, "The whole universe is completely insane!" it about sums the state of mind these stories left me in, not to mention most of what's going on with the planet these days. It is a surprise that more people are not stepping over more lines. Even Al Gore is saying, "What we are doing is functionally insane!" in this longish article in Rolling Stone of all places. Well worth the time spent to read - he hits at least several nails right on their heads.

So ... wait for Broken Republic and maybe see where she has gotten to.

There is a whole other trail running off from the underdot on the 'r' in paṛaiyan ... I can't make it out, Sanskrit, but it might be some kind of nasal 'r'. I imagine that a nasal 'r' (if you knew how to voice it properly, despite its being a consonant) might contain all of this story (and all of this post too) in a single sound.

Mr. Natural 'Yep. The whole universe is completely insane!You can download this 1994 documentary about Robert Crumb - the cartoonist.

At one point he says, "And sometimes I think it's a mistake, I should never have let it out, I'd be more, you know, well-loved and ... I just hope that revealing that truth about myself is somehow helpful ... I can't say." I made this YouTube clip of the bit where he says that. (The YouTube mavens have figgured out that it is somehow connected to a movie that Sony owns, but it is still apparently 'available worldwide' whatever that means ... so this time I will leave it there and see how things develop.)

I never really read much of this stuff back in the day, but I remember a friend of mine getting into it, and he came to me all excited with some depiction of a violent sexual encounter in which the woman says, "Shut up! I just came here to get my slot packed!" and he was so amazed that this would be on the page he was showing me ... yeah, something like that.

Both of these guys are older than me; Leonard by more than a decade, Crumb just a few years. California may have been more seamlessly up-tight than Canada ... don't know. Crumb had brothers. He made it through and they didn't.

He took acid and says that it seemed to unlock the subconscious floodgates, as I can well imagine ... so maybe that's what saved him.

Brian Haw, 1949-2011.Brian Haw, 1949-2011.Brian Haw, 1949-2011.I was sitting in the park watching a few latter-day hippies as they celebrated the summer solstice with songs (that sounded like dirges) and prayers for peace (that did not move me though I listened carefully) ...

I was thinking of Brian Haw's passing.

And then we have the dance of the seven sleveens: managers and unions and politicians and pundits all so busy keeping each other entertained while they wait to collect their fat pensions - as long as it doesn't 'impact' their summer vacations in Muskoka too much.

Deepak Chopra, Canada Post CEO.Deepak Chopra, Canada Post CEO.Denis Lemelin, CUPW president.Denis Lemelin, CUPW president.Denis Lemelin, CUPW president.Lisa Raitt, 2008 Minister of Natural Resources.Lisa Raitt, 2009 w Jasmine MacDonnell.Jasmine MacDonnell, 2009 w Lisa Raitt.Jasmine MacDonnell, 2009 w Lisa Raitt.Stephen Harper, 2011 w Lisa Raitt.Lisa Raitt.Even the library workers have a union (the library being at the edge of the park y'unnerstan). This week it is CUPW taking the heat, but CUPE (for the librarians) is certainly on the list. On the bright side maybe it will finally be an end of Sid Ryan.

Fire Down On The Labrador David BlackwoodThe joke may be on them before long - those fat pensions may not last. Who can say? The stock-market may ... disappear, vanish in a puff of smoke like the Wicked Witch of the West. They may have to fall back on stashed cash, all good ... or stashed bullion, real estate, high-tech security systems, guns.

That the poor in the 't'oid woild' will never see an end to their poverty is one thing, but that the Western elect, union members and mid-managers and the like will not get their 'fair share' ... well that's ... unthinkable! But there is not enough gravy to go around (there never was), so they squeak & scrabble like rats in a bag.

And then we have the illiterate nitwit (with oh such excellent credentials) turning a Powerpoint presentation into a book. The excellent quality of the prose makes me think he used some of that software that generates text directly from an audio stream, the stuff they use to make subtitles on B movies: The Great Disruption, Paul Gilding.


A-and endless apologies for really really REALLY good-guy capitalists among his private and personal acquaintanceship.

Though he makes one good point when he recognizes that what moves these human chimpanzees is neither moral arguments, nor the trashing of the ecosphere, nor even economic collapse, and certainly not any quality of mercy or empathy, strained or otherwise - but any threat to their own personal belly-button bottom lines.

It is all very personal in the end, isnt it? Too personal by far.

Those stories turning me inside out .... maybe this is an apt recessional: Killing Me Softly with the Fugees, Lauryn Hill & Roberta Flack ... Roberta Flack by herself, Alicia Keys covered it too but I can't find a complete version ...

One mother survives, one dies in ignominy. I didn't survive and I am not sure my children have either, though I do not speak for them. Miss Jodie is closing her blog, an 'irrational fear of vampires' apparently. I hope I am not numbered among them but I well might be I suppose, the living dead in a way of speaking.

In one of her stories she says, "... he leaned slowly towards me, and he smelled my neck, at first, shock, as he inhaled - is he really smelling me?" That was the living connection truth be told - olfactory - because I had the same experience once in a sleazy club in Rio. I can still remember the surprise of it, and that the woman looked up at me then and smiled - my smell pleased her, I passed the sniff test - we are still the best of friends. Lizard-brain stuff is the best eh?

Arundhati's evident ambivalence towards this God of Small Things of hers ...

My son thinks maybe the Greenpeace-niks turned their backs on me last week because I walk around smoking cigarettes in public parks ... ummm ... could be just simple-minded enough to be true in 'Toronto the Good'.

Up all night again writing this shite - each week I hope that I am done here gentle reader, that I will find some way out of this Magus' Waiting Room ... maybe this time.

Be well.


Beija-Flor by O'Kane.Beija-Flor by Jesperson.Solipsistic, paranoid ... wrung-out, strung-out, burned-out; I just get securely & comfortably down in the grungy groove where all I can do is groan and say "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." And ok, comes Father's Day and all the kids call me up on the telephone.

Sumac, June 23rd.No quitter! I hang onto that drain-plug with all my might ... and just ready to hit the 'Publish' button when I notice that two Toronto Star readers have independently photographed hummingbirds in the general vicinity ... Holy Jumpin' Beija-flor! And friends of my sweet darlin' (whose infant I once dandled just until he was laffin' and delighted) get married in Duque and she sends me photos of the wedding.

Al Gore & Andrew Knox (of Transition Toronto) show up on the horizon with positive messages. The sumac sprouts survive another week and grow (if they do not exactly thrive - I think they need more sun) and ... Presto-whiffo! I am looking forward to whatever tomorrow may bring. Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound!

It's a miracle! It's a ... a ... a ... conspiracy!(?)

What about truth? I was brought up on "Truth will out!" but that turns out just to be more of the same sentimental & faux-transcendent cotton-batting they put in the little blue boxes from Birks to keep their gods from rattling around too much.

There! A sentence worthy of this weeks nominated nitwit.


1. Bird on the Wire, Leonard Cohen, 1969 & subsequent.

2. Arundhati Roy: 'They are trying to keep me destabilised. Anybody who says anything is in danger', Stephen Moss, 5 June 2011.

3. Climate of Denial, Al Gore, June 22 2011. Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?

Bird on the Wire, Leonard Cohen, 1969.
Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

Like a baby, stillborn,
like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
and by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
he said to me, "You must not ask for so much."
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
she cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Oh like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
New & improved:
Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in an old midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
Like a knight bent down in some old fashioned book
It was the shape, the shape of our love that has twisted me.

If I have been unkind,
Oh if I have been un-kind
I hope you can find a way to let it all go right on by.
If I have been untrue
If I have been untrue
It's just that I'm not a liar I'm a lover and I had to be some kind of liar too.

Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
I swear by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.

Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
I swear by all that I have done wrong
I will, make it all, all up to thee.

I saw this beggar, he was leaning on his wooden crutch,
He says to me, "Leonard, You just can't ask for all that much."
A pretty woman standing in her darkened door,
She cries out to me, "Hey, why not ask for just a little bit more?"

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in an old midnight choir
I have tried in my way, to be free.

Arundhati Roy: 'They are trying to keep me destabilised. Anybody who says anything is in danger', Stephen Moss, 5 June 2011.

The Booker prize-winning novelist on her political activism in India, why she no longer condemns violent resistance – and why it doesn't matter if she never writes a second novel

This is not an ideal beginning. I bump into Arundhati Roy as we are both heading for the loo in the foyer of the large building that houses her publisher Penguin's offices. There are some authors, V S Naipaul say, with whom this could be awkward. But not Roy, who makes me feel instantly at ease. A few minutes later, her publicist settles us in a small, bare room. As we take our positions on either side of a narrow desk I liken it to an interrogation suite. But she says that in India, interrogation rooms are a good deal less salubrious than this.

Roy, who is 50 this year, is best known for her 1997 Booker prize-winning novel The God of Small Things, but for the past decade has been an increasingly vocal critic of the Indian state, attacking its policy towards Kashmir, the environmental destruction wrought by rapid development, the country's nuclear weapons programme and corruption. As a prominent opponent of everything connected with globalisation, she is seeking to construct a "new modernity" based on sustainability and a defence of traditional ways of life.

Her new book, Broken Republic, brings together three essays about the Maoist guerrilla movement in the forests of central India that is resisting the government's attempts to develop and mine land on which tribal people live. The central essay, Walking with the Comrades, is a brilliant piece of reportage, recounting three weeks she spent with the guerrillas in the forest. She must, I suggest, have been in great personal danger. "Everybody's in great danger there, so you can't go round feeling you are specially in danger," she says in her pleasant, high-pitched voice. In any case, she says, the violence of bullets and torture are no greater than the violence of hunger and malnutrition, of vulnerable people feeling they're under siege.

Her time with the guerrillas made a profound impression. She describes spending nights sleeping on the forest floor in a "thousand-star hotel", applauds "the ferocity and grandeur of these poor people fighting back", and says "being in the forest made me feel like there was enough space in my body for all my organs". She detests glitzy, corporate, growth-obsessed modern Indian, and there in the forest she found a brief peace.

There is intense anger in the book, I say, implying that if she toned it down she might find a readier audience. "The anger is calibrated," she insists. "It's less than I actually feel." But even so, her critics call her shrill. "That word 'shrill' is reserved for any expression of feeling. It's all right for the establishment to be as shrill as it likes about annihilating people."

Is her political engagement derived from her mother, Mary Roy, who set up a school in Kerala and has a reputation as a women's rights activist? "She's not an activist," says Roy. "I don't know why people keep saying that. My mother is like a character who escaped from the set of a Fellini film." She laughs at her own description. "She's a whole performing universe of her own. Activists would run a mile from her because they could not deal with what she is."

I want to talk more about Mary Roy – and eventually we do – but there's one important point to clear up first. Guerrillas use violence, generally directed against the police and army, but sometimes causing injury and death to civilians caught in the crossfire. Does she condemn that violence? "I don't condemn it any more," she says. "If you're an adivasi [tribal Indian] living in a forest village and 800 CRP [Central Reserve Police] come and surround your village and start burning it, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to go on hunger strike? Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation."

Her critics label her a Maoist sympathiser. Is she? "I am a Maoist sympathiser," she says. "I'm not a Maoist ideologue, because the communist movements in history have been just as destructive as capitalism. But right now, when the assault is on, I feel they are very much part of the resistance that I support."

Roy talks about the resistance as an "insurrection"; she makes India sound as if it's ripe for a Chinese or Russian-style revolution. So how come we in the west don't hear about these mini-wars? "I have been told quite openly by several correspondents of international newspapers," she says, "that they have instructions – 'No negative news from India' – because it's an investment destination. So you don't hear about it. But there is an insurrection, and it's not just a Maoist insurrection. Everywhere in the country, people are fighting." I find the suggestion that such an injunction exists – or that self-respecting journalists would accept it – ridiculous. Foreign reporting of India might well be lazy or myopic, but I don't believe it's corrupt.

She sounds like a member of a religious sect, I say, as if she has seen the light. "It's a way of life, a way of thinking," she replies without taking offence. "I know people in India, even the modern young people, understand that here is something that's alive." So why not give up the plush home in Delhi and the media appearances, and return to the forest? "I'd be more than happy to if I had to, but I would be a liability to them in the forest. The battles have to be fought in different ways. The military side is just one part of it. What I do is another part of the battle."

I question her absolutism, her Manichaean view of the world, but I admire her courage. Her home has been pelted with stones; the Indian launch of Broken Republic was interrupted by pro-government demonstrators who stormed the stage; she may be charged with sedition for saying that Kashmiris should be given the right of self-determination. "They are trying to keep me destabilised," she says. Does she feel threatened? "Anybody who says anything is in danger. Hundreds of people are in jail."

Roy has likened writing fiction and polemic to the difference between dancing and walking. Does she not want to dance again? "Of course I do." Is she working on a new novel? "I have been," she says with a laugh, "but I don't get much time to do it." Does it bother her that the followup to The God of Small Things has been so long in coming? "I'm a highly unambitious person," she says. "What does it matter if there is or isn't a novel? I really don't look at it that way. For me, nothing would have been worth not going into that forest."

It's hard to judge whether there will be a second novel. The God of Small Things drew so much on her own life – her charismatic but overbearing mother; a drunken tea-planter father whom her mother left when Roy was very young; her own departure from home in her late teens – that it may be a one-off, a book as much lived as written. She gives ambiguous answers about whether she expects a second novel to appear. On the one hand, she says she is engaged with the resistance movement and that it dominates her thoughts. But almost in the same breath she says others have "picked up the baton" and she would like to return to fiction, to dance again.

What is certain is that little of the second novel has so far been written. She prefers not to tell me what it is about; indeed, she says it would not be possible to pinpoint the theme. "I don't have subjects. It's not like I'm trying to write an anti-dam novel. Fiction is too beautiful to be about just one thing. It should be about everything." Has she been blocked by the pressure of having to follow up a Booker winner? "No," she says. "We're not children all wanting to come first in class and win prizes. It's the pleasure of doing it. I don't know whether it will be a good book, but I'm curious about how and what I will write after these journeys."

Are her agent and publisher disappointed still to be waiting for the second novel? "They always knew there wasn't going to be some novel-producing factory," she says. "I was very clear about that. I don't see the point. I did something. I enjoyed doing it. I'm doing something now. I'm living to the edges of my fingernails, using everything I have. It's impossible for me to look at things politically or in any way as a project, to further my career. You're injected directly into the blood of the places in which you're living and what's going on there."

She has no financial need to write another novel. The God of Small Things, which sold more than 6m copies around the world, set her up for life, even though she has given much of the money away. She even spurned offers for the film rights, because she didn't want anyone interpreting her book for the screen. "Every reader has a vision of it in their head," she says, "and I didn't want it to be one film." She is strong-willed. Back in 1996, when The God of Small Things was being prepared for publication, she insisted on having control of the cover image because she didn't want "a jacket with tigers and ladies in saris". She is her indomitable mother's daughter.

I insist she tell me more about her Fellini-esque mother. She is, says Roy, like an empress. She has a number of buttons beside her bed which, when you press them, emit different bird calls. Each call signals to one of her retinue what she requires. Has she been the centre of her daughter's life? "No, she has been the centre of a lot of conflict in my life. She's an extraordinary women, and when we are together I feel like we are two nuclear-armed states." She laughs loudly. "We have to be a bit careful."

To defuse the family tensions, Roy left home when she was 16 to study architecture in Delhi – even then she wanted to build a new world. She married a fellow student at the age of 17. "He was a very nice guy, but I didn't take it seriously," she says. In 1984 she met and married film-maker Pradip Krishen, and helped him bring up his two daughters by an earlier marriage. They now live separately, though she still refers to him as her "sweetheart". So why separate? "My life is so crazy. There's so much pressure and idiosyncrasy. I don't have any establishment. I don't have anyone to mediate between me and the world. It's just based on instinct." I think what she's saying is that freedom matters more to her than anything else.

She chose not to have children because it would have impinged on that freedom. "For a long time I didn't have the means to support them," she says, "and once I did I thought I was too unreliable. So many of the women in India who are fighting these battles don't have children, because anything can happen. You have to be light on your feet and light in your head. I like to be a mobile republic."

Roy has in the past described herself as "a natural-born feminist". What did she mean by that? "Because of my mother and the way I grew up without a father to look after me, you learned early on that rule number one was look out for yourself. Much of what I can do and say now comes from being independent at an early age." Her mother was born into a wealthy, conservative Christian community in Kerala, but put herself outside the pale by marrying Ranjit Roy, a Hindu from West Bengal. When she returned to her home state after her divorce she had little money and was thus doubly marginalised. The mother eventually triumphed over all these obstacles and made a success of the school she founded, but growing up an outsider has left its mark on her daughter.

Roy says she has always been polemical, and points to her run-in with director Shekhar Kapur in the mid-1990s over his film Bandit Queen – she questioned whether he had the right to portray the rape of a living person on screen without that woman's consent. It may be that the novel is the exception in a life of agitation, rather than the agitation an odd outcrop in a life of fiction-writing. But has she sacrificed too much for the struggle – the chance to dance, children, perhaps even her second marriage? "I don't see any of these things as sacrifices," she says. "They are positive choices. I feel surrounded by love, by excitement. They are not being done in some martyr-like way. When I was walking through the forest with the comrades, we were laughing all the time."

Climate of Denial, Al Gore, June 22 2011.

Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?

Page 1

The first time I remember hearing the question "is it real?" was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by "professional wrestlers" one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.

The evidence that it was real was palpable: "They're really hurting each other! That's real blood! Look a'there! They can't fake that!" On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today's language, a "narrative"), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.

But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the "rules" — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question "Is it real?" seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?

That is pretty much the role now being played by most of the news media in refereeing the current wrestling match over whether global warming is "real," and whether it has any connection to the constant dumping of 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions into the Earth's thin shell of atmosphere every 24 hours.

Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it's a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.

The referee — in this analogy, the news media — seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business. Is he responsible for ensuring a fair match? Or is he part of the show, selling tickets and building the audience? The referee certainly seems distracted: by Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, the latest reality show — the list of serial obsessions is too long to enumerate here.

But whatever the cause, the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the "rules" of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made "legal" and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. (Question: Would Michael Jordan have been a star if he was covered by four defensive players every step he took on the basketball court?)

This script, of course, is not entirely new: A half-century ago, when Science and Reason established the linkage between cigarettes and lung diseases, the tobacco industry hired actors, dressed them up as doctors, and paid them to look into television cameras and tell people that the linkage revealed in the Surgeon General's Report was not real at all. The show went on for decades, with more Americans killed each year by cigarettes than all of the U.S. soldiers killed in all of World War II.

This time, the scientific consensus is even stronger. It has been endorsed by every National Academy of science of every major country on the planet, every major professional scientific society related to the study of global warming and 98 percent of climate scientists throughout the world. In the latest and most authoritative study by 3,000 of the very best scientific experts in the world, the evidence was judged "unequivocal."

But wait! The good guys transgressed the rules of decorum, as evidenced in their private e-mails that were stolen and put on the Internet. The referee is all over it: Penalty! Go to your corner! And in their 3,000-page report, the scientists made some mistakes! Another penalty!

And if more of the audience is left confused about whether the climate crisis is real? Well, the show must go on. After all, it's entertainment. There are tickets to be sold, eyeballs to glue to the screen.

Part of the script for this show was leaked to The New York Times as early as 1991. In an internal document, a consortium of the largest global-warming polluters spelled out their principal strategy: "Reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact." Ever since, they have been sowing doubt even more effectively than the tobacco companies before them.

To sell their false narrative, the Polluters and Ideologues have found it essential to undermine the public's respect for Science and Reason by attacking the integrity of the climate scientists. That is why the scientists are regularly accused of falsifying evidence and exaggerating its implications in a greedy effort to win more research grants, or secretly pursuing a hidden political agenda to expand the power of government. Such slanderous insults are deeply ironic: extremist ideologues — many financed or employed by carbon polluters — accusing scientists of being greedy extremist ideologues.

After World War II, a philosopher studying the impact of organized propaganda on the quality of democratic debate wrote, "The conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power has attacked the very heart of the distinction between true and false."

Page 2

Is the climate crisis real? Yes, of course it is. Pause for a moment to consider these events of just the past 12 months:

• Heat. According to NASA, 2010 was tied with 2005 as the hottest year measured since instruments were first used systematically in the 1880s. Nineteen countries set all-time high temperature records. One city in Pakistan, Mohenjo-Daro, reached 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest temperature ever measured in an Asian city. Nine of the 10 hottest years in history have occurred in the last 13 years. The past decade was the hottest ever measured, even though half of that decade represented a "solar minimum" — the low ebb in the natural cycle of solar energy emanating from the sun.

• Floods. Megafloods displaced 20 million people in Pakistan, further destabilizing a nuclear-armed country; inundated an area of Australia larger than Germany and France combined; flooded 28 of the 32 districts that make up Colombia, where it has rained almost continuously for the past year; caused a "thousand-year" flood in my home city of Nashville; and led to all-time record flood levels in the Mississippi River Valley. Many places around the world are now experiencing larger and more frequent extreme downpours and snowstorms; last year's "Snowmaggedon" in the northeastern United States is part of the same pattern, notwithstanding the guffaws of deniers.

• Drought. Historic drought and fires in Russia killed an estimated 56,000 people and caused wheat and other food crops in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to be removed from the global market, contributing to a record spike in food prices. "Practically everything is burning," Russian president Dmitry Medvedev declared. "What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us." The drought level in much of Texas has been raised from "extreme" to "exceptional," the highest category. This spring the majority of the counties in Texas were on fire, and Gov. Rick Perry requested a major disaster declaration for all but two of the state's 254 counties. Arizona is now fighting the largest fire in its history. Since 1970, the fire season throughout the American West has increased by 78 days. Extreme droughts in central China and northern France are currently drying up reservoirs and killing crops.

• Melting Ice. An enormous mass of ice, four times larger than the island of Manhattan, broke off from northern Greenland last year and slipped into the sea. The acceleration of ice loss in both Greenland and Antarctica has caused another upward revision of global sea-level rise and the numbers of refugees expected from low-lying coastal areas. The Arctic ice cap, which reached a record low volume last year, has lost as much as 40 percent of its area during summer in just 30 years.

These extreme events are happening in real time. It is not uncommon for the nightly newscast to resemble a nature hike through the Book of Revelation. Yet most of the news media completely ignore how such events are connected to the climate crisis, or dismiss the connection as controversial; after all, there are scientists on one side of the debate and deniers on the other. A Fox News executive, in an internal e-mail to the network's reporters and editors that later became public, questioned the "veracity of climate change data" and ordered the journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."

But in the "real" world, the record droughts, fires, floods and mudslides continue to increase in severity and frequency. Leading climate scientists like Jim Hansen and Kevin Trenberth now say that events like these would almost certainly not be occurring without the influence of man-made global warming. And that's a shift in the way they frame these impacts. Scientists used to caution that we were increasing the probability of such extreme events by "loading the dice" — pumping more carbon into the atmosphere. Now the scientists go much further, warning that we are "painting more dots on the dice." We are not only more likely to roll 12s; we are now rolling 13s and 14s. In other words, the biggest storms are not only becoming more frequent, they are getting bigger, stronger and more destructive.

"The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change," Munich Re, one of the two largest reinsurance companies in the world, recently stated. "The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge."

Many of the extreme and destructive events are the result of the rapid increase in the amount of heat energy from the sun that is trapped in the atmosphere, which is radically disrupting the planet's water cycle. More heat energy evaporates more water into the air, and the warmer air holds a lot more moisture. This has huge consequences that we now see all around the world.

When a storm unleashes a downpour of rain or snow, the precipitation does not originate just in the part of the sky directly above where it falls. Storms reach out — sometimes as far as 2,000 miles — to suck in water vapor from large areas of the sky, including the skies above oceans, where water vapor has increased by four percent in just the last 30 years. (Scientists often compare this phenomenon to what happens in a bathtub when you open the drain; the water rushing out comes from the whole tub, not just from the part of the tub directly above the drain. And when the tub is filled with more water, more goes down the drain. In the same way, when the warmer sky is filled with a lot more water vapor, there are bigger downpours when a storm cell opens the "drain.")

In many areas, these bigger downpours also mean longer periods between storms — at the same time that the extra heat in the air is also drying out the soil. That is part of the reason so many areas have been experiencing both record floods and deeper, longer-lasting droughts.

Moreover, the scientists have been warning us for quite some time — in increasingly urgent tones — that things will get much, much worse if we continue the reckless dumping of more and more heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere. Drought is projected to spread across significant, highly populated areas of the globe throughout this century. Look at what the scientists say is in store for the Mediterranean nations. Should we care about the loss of Spain, France, Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, Tunisia? Look at what they say is in store for Mexico. Should we notice? Should we care?

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Maybe it's just easier, psychologically, to swallow the lie that these scientists who devote their lives to their work are actually greedy deceivers and left-wing extremists — and that we should instead put our faith in the pseudoscientists financed by large carbon polluters whose business plans depend on their continued use of the atmospheric commons as a place to dump their gaseous, heat-trapping waste without limit or constraint, free of charge.

The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come. Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now!

We do have another choice. Renewable energy sources are coming into their own. Both solar and wind will soon produce power at costs that are competitive with fossil fuels; indications are that twice as many solar installations were erected worldwide last year as compared to 2009. The reductions in cost and the improvements in efficiency of photovoltaic cells over the past decade appear to be following an exponential curve that resembles a less dramatic but still startling version of what happened with computer chips over the past 50 years.

Enhanced geothermal energy is potentially a nearly limitless source of competitive electricity. Increased energy efficiency is already saving businesses money and reducing emissions significantly. New generations of biomass energy — ones that do not rely on food crops, unlike the mistaken strategy of making ethanol from corn — are extremely promising. Sustainable forestry and agriculture both make economic as well as environmental sense. And all of these options would spread even more rapidly if we stopped subsidizing Big Oil and Coal and put a price on carbon that reflected the true cost of fossil energy — either through the much-maligned cap-and-trade approach, or through a revenue-neutral tax swap.

All over the world, the grassroots movement in favor of changing public policies to confront the climate crisis and build a more prosperous, sustainable future is growing rapidly. But most governments remain paralyzed, unable to take action — even after years of volatile gasoline prices, repeated wars in the Persian Gulf, one energy-related disaster after another, and a seemingly endless stream of unprecedented and lethal weather disasters.

Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer selling tickets to a phony wrestling match?

The "wrestling ring" in this metaphor is the conversation of democracy. It used to be called the "public square." In ancient Athens, it was the Agora. In the Roman Republic, it was the Forum. In the Egypt of the recent Arab Spring, "Tahrir Square" was both real and metaphorical — encompassing Facebook, Twitter, Al-Jazeera and texting.

In the America of the late-18th century, the conversation that led to our own "Spring" took place in printed words: pamphlets, newsprint, books, the "Republic of Letters." It represented the fullest flower of the Enlightenment, during which the oligarchic power of the monarchies, the feudal lords and the Medieval Church was overthrown and replaced with a new sovereign: the Rule of Reason.

The public square that gave birth to the new consciousness of the Enlightenment emerged in the dozen generations following he invention of the printing press — "the Gutenberg Galaxy," the scholar Marshall McLuhan called it — a space in which the conversation of democracy was almost equally accessible to every literate person. Individuals could both find the knowledge that had previously been restricted to elites and contribute their own ideas.

Ideas that found resonance with others rose in prominence much the way Google searches do today, finding an ever larger audience and becoming a source of political power for individuals with neither wealth nor force of arms. Thomas Paine, to take one example, emigrated from England to Philadelphia with no wealth, no family connections and no power other than that which came from his ability to think and write clearly — yet his Common Sense became the Harry Potter of Revolutionary America. The "public interest" mattered, was actively discussed and pursued.

But the "public square" that gave birth to America has been transformed beyond all recognition. The conversation that matters most to the shaping of the "public mind" now takes place on television. Newspapers and magazines are in decline. The Internet, still in its early days, will one day support business models that make true journalism profitable — but up until now, the only successful news websites aggregate content from struggling print publications. Web versions of the newspapers themselves are, with few exceptions, not yet making money. They bring to mind the classic image of Wile E. Coyote running furiously in midair just beyond the edge of the cliff, before plummeting to the desert floor far beneath him.

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The average American, meanwhile, is watching television an astonishing five hours a day. In the average household, at least one television set is turned on more than eight hours a day. Moreover, approximately 75 percent of those using the Internet frequently watch television at the same time that they are online.

Unlike access to the "public square" of early America, access to television requires large amounts of money. Thomas Paine could walk out of his front door in Philadelphia and find a dozen competing, low-cost print shops within blocks of his home. Today, if he traveled to the nearest TV station, or to the headquarters of nearby Comcast — the dominant television provider in America — and tried to deliver his new ideas to the American people, he would be laughed off the premises. The public square that used to be a commons has been refeudalized, and the gatekeepers charge large rents for the privilege of communicating to the American people over the only medium that really affects their thinking. "Citizens" are now referred to more commonly as "consumers" or "the audience."

That is why up to 80 percent of the campaign budgets for candidates in both major political parties is devoted to the purchase of 30-second TV ads. Since the rates charged for these commercials increase each year, the candidates are forced to raise more and more money in each two-year campaign cycle.

Of course, the only reliable sources from which such large sums can be raised continuously are business lobbies. Organized labor, a shadow of its former self, struggles to compete, and individuals are limited by law to making small contributions. During the 2008 campaign, there was a bubble of hope that Internet-based fundraising might even the scales, but in the end, Democrats as well as Republicans relied far more on traditional sources of large contributions. Moreover, the recent deregulation of unlimited — and secret — donations by wealthy corporations has made the imbalance even worse.

In the new ecology of political discourse, special-interest contributors of the large sums of money now required for the privilege of addressing voters on a wholesale basis are not squeamish about asking for the quo they expect in return for their quid. Politicians who don't acquiesce don't get the money they need to be elected and re-elected. And the impact is doubled when special interests make clear — usually bluntly — that the money they are withholding will go instead to opponents who are more than happy to pledge the desired quo. Politicians have been racing to the bottom for some time, and are presently tunneling to new depths. It is now commonplace for congressmen and senators first elected decades ago — as I was — to comment in private that the whole process has become unbelievably crass, degrading and horribly destructive to the core values of American democracy.

Largely as a result, the concerns of the wealthiest individuals and corporations routinely trump the concerns of average Americans and small businesses. There are a ridiculously large number of examples: eliminating the inheritance tax paid by the wealthiest one percent of families is considered a much higher priority than addressing the suffering of the millions of long-term unemployed; Wall Street's interest in legalizing gambling in trillions of dollars of "derivatives" was considered way more important than protecting the integrity of the financial system and the interests of middle-income home buyers. It's a long list.

Almost every group organized to promote and protect the "public interest" has been backpedaling and on the defensive. By sharp contrast, when a coalition of powerful special interests sets out to manipulate U.S. policy, their impact can be startling — and the damage to the true national interest can be devastating.

In 2002, for example, the feverish desire to invade Iraq required convincing the American people that Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for attacking the United States on September 11th, 2001, and that he was preparing to attack us again, perhaps with nuclear weapons. When the evidence — the "facts" — stood in the way of that effort to shape the public mind, they were ridiculed, maligned and ignored. Behind the scenes, the intelligence was manipulated and the public was intentionally deceived. Allies were pressured to adopt the same approach with their publics. A recent inquiry in the U.K. confirmed this yet again. "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence," Maj. Gen. Michael Laurie testified. "To make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence, the wording was developed with care." Why? As British intelligence put it, the overthrow of Saddam was "a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies."

That goal — the real goal — could have been debated on its own terms. But as Bush administration officials have acknowledged, a truly candid presentation would not have resulted in sufficient public support for the launching of a new war. They knew that because they had studied it and polled it. So they manipulated the debate, downplayed the real motive for the invasion, and made a different case to the public — one based on falsehoods.

And the "referee" — the news media — looked the other way. Some, like Fox News, were hyperactive cheerleaders. Others were intimidated into going along by the vitriol heaped on any who asked inconvenient questions. (They know it; many now acknowledge it, sheepishly and apologetically.)

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Senators themselves fell, with a few honorable exceptions, into the same two camps. A few weeks before the United States invaded Iraq, the late Robert Byrd — God rest his soul — thundered on the Senate floor about the pitiful quality of the debate over the choice between war and peace: "Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent — ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing."

The chamber was silent, in part, because many senators were somewhere else — attending cocktail parties and receptions, largely with special-interest donors, raising money to buy TV ads for their next campaigns. Nowadays, in fact, the scheduling of many special-interest fundraisers mirrors the schedule of votes pending in the House and Senate.

By the time we invaded Iraq, polls showed, nearly three-quarters of the American people were convinced that the person responsible for the planes flying into the World Trade Center Towers was indeed Saddam Hussein. The rest is history — though, as Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Because of that distortion of the truth in the past, we are still in Iraq; and because the bulk of our troops and intelligence assets were abruptly diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq, we are also still in Afghanistan.

In the same way, because the banks had their way with Congress when it came to gambling on unregulated derivatives and recklessly endangering credit markets with subprime mortgages, we still have almost double-digit unemployment, historic deficits, Greece and possibly other European countries teetering on the edge of default, and the threat of a double-dip recession. Even the potential default of the United States of America is now being treated by many politicians and too many in the media as yet another phony wrestling match, a political game. Are the potential economic consequences of a U.S. default "real"? Of course they are! Have we gone completely nuts?

We haven't gone nuts — but the "conversation of democracy" has become so deeply dysfunctional that our ability to make intelligent collective decisions has been seriously impaired. Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square — and the quality of our democratic discourse — to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world. But we are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence — when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion — the public interest is severely damaged.

That is exactly what is happening with U.S. decisions regarding the climate crisis. The best available evidence demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the reckless spewing of global-warming pollution in obscene quantities into the atmospheric commons is having exactly the consequences long predicted by scientists who have analyzed the known facts according to the laws of physics.

The emergence of the climate crisis seems sudden only because of a relatively recent discontinuity in the relationship between human civilization and the planet's ecological system. In the past century, we have quadrupled global population while relying on the burning of carbon-based fuels — coal, oil and gas — for 85 percent of the world's energy. We are also cutting and burning forests that would otherwise help remove some of the added CO2 from the atmosphere, and have converted agriculture to an industrial model that also runs on carbon-based fuels and strip-mines carbon-rich soils.

The cumulative result is a radically new reality — and since human nature makes us vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable, it naturally seems difficult to accept. Moreover, since this new reality is painful to contemplate, and requires big changes in policy and behavior that are at the outer limit of our ability, it is all too easy to fall into the psychological state of denial. As with financial issues like subprime mortgages and credit default swaps, the climate crisis can seem too complex to worry about, especially when the shills for the polluters constantly claim it's all a hoax anyway. And since the early impacts of climatic disruption are distributed globally, they masquerade as an abstraction that is safe to ignore.

These vulnerabilities, rooted in our human nature, are being manipulated by the tag-team of Polluters and Ideologues who are trying to deceive us. And the referee — the news media — is once again distracted. As with the invasion of Iraq, some are hyperactive cheerleaders for the deception, while others are intimidated into complicity, timidity and silence by the astonishing vitriol heaped upon those who dare to present the best evidence in a professional manner. Just as TV networks who beat the drums of war prior to the Iraq invasion were rewarded with higher ratings, networks now seem reluctant to present the truth about the link between carbon pollution and global warming out of fear that conservative viewers will change the channel — and fear that they will receive a torrent of flame e-mails from deniers.

Many politicians, unfortunately, also fall into the same two categories: those who cheerlead for the deniers and those who cower before them. The latter group now includes several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination who have felt it necessary to abandon their previous support for action on the climate crisis; at least one has been apologizing profusely to the deniers and begging for their forgiveness.

"Intimidation" and "timidity" are connected by more than a shared word root. The first is designed to produce the second. As Yeats wrote almost a century ago, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

Barack Obama's approach to the climate crisis represents a special case that requires careful analysis. His election was accompanied by intense hope that many things in need of change would change. Some things have, but others have not. Climate policy, unfortunately, is in the second category. Why?

First of all, anyone who honestly examines the incredible challenges confronting President Obama when he took office has to feel enormous empathy for him: the Great Recession, with the high unemployment and the enormous public and private indebtedness it produced; two seemingly interminable wars; an intractable political opposition whose true leaders — entertainers masquerading as pundits — openly declared that their objective was to ensure that the new president failed; a badly broken Senate that is almost completely paralyzed by the threat of filibuster and is controlled lock, stock and barrel by the oil and coal industries; a contingent of nominal supporters in Congress who are indentured servants of the same special interests that control most of the Republican Party; and a ferocious, well-financed and dishonest campaign poised to vilify anyone who dares offer leadership for the reduction of global-warming pollution.

In spite of these obstacles, President Obama included significant climate-friendly initiatives in the economic stimulus package he presented to Congress during his first month in office. With the skillful leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and committee chairmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, he helped secure passage of a cap-and-trade measure in the House a few months later. He implemented historic improvements in fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, and instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward on the regulation of global-warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. He appointed many excellent men and women to key positions, and they, in turn, have made hundreds of changes in environmental and energy policy that have helped move the country forward slightly on the climate issue. During his first six months, he clearly articulated the link between environmental security, economic security and national security — making the case that a national commitment to renewable energy could simultaneously reduce unemployment, dependence on foreign oil and vulnerability to the disruption of oil markets dominated by the Persian Gulf reserves. And more recently, as the issue of long-term debt has forced discussion of new revenue, he proposed the elimination of unnecessary and expensive subsidies for oil and gas.

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But in spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that "drill, baby, drill" is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.

The failure to pass legislation to limit global-warming pollution ensured that the much-anticipated Copenhagen summit on a global treaty in 2009 would also end in failure. The president showed courage in attending the summit and securing a rhetorical agreement to prevent a complete collapse of the international process, but that's all it was — a rhetorical agreement. During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis — and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from "How do we complete this historic breakthrough?" to "How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?"

Some concluded from the failure in Copenhagen that it was time to give up on the entire U.N.-sponsored process for seeking an international agreement to reduce both global-warming pollution and deforestation. Ultimately, however, the only way to address the climate crisis will be with a global agreement that in one way or another puts a price on carbon. And whatever approach is eventually chosen, the U.S. simply must provide leadership by changing our own policy.

Yet without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change. The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is "the power to persuade." Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.

Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States.

Many political advisers assume that a president has to deal with the world of politics as he finds it, and that it is unwise to risk political capital on an effort to actually lead the country toward a new understanding of the real threats and real opportunities we face. Concentrate on the politics of re-election, they say. Don't take chances.

All that might be completely understandable and make perfect sense in a world where the climate crisis wasn't "real." Those of us who support and admire President Obama understand how difficult the politics of this issue are in the context of the massive opposition to doing anything at all — or even to recognizing that there is a crisis. And assuming that the Republicans come to their senses and avoid nominating a clown, his re-election is likely to involve a hard-fought battle with high stakes for the country. All of his supporters understand that it would be self-defeating to weaken Obama and heighten the risk of another step backward. Even writing an article like this one carries risks; opponents of the president will excerpt the criticism and strip it of context.

But in this case, the President has reality on his side. The scientific consensus is far stronger today than at any time in the past. Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act.

Those who profit from the unconstrained pollution that is the primary cause of climate change are determined to block our perception of this reality. They have help from many sides: from the private sector, which is now free to make unlimited and secret campaign contributions; from politicians who have conflated their tenures in office with the pursuit of the people's best interests; and — tragically — from the press itself, which treats deception and falsehood on the same plane as scientific fact, and calls it objective reporting of alternative opinions.

All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality. We ignored reality in the marketplace and nearly destroyed the world economic system. We are likewise ignoring reality in the environment, and the consequences could be several orders of magnitude worse. Determining what is real can be a challenge in our culture, but in order to make wise choices in the presence of such grave risks, we must use common sense and the rule of reason in coming to an agreement on what is true.

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So how can we make it happen? How can we as individuals make a difference? In five basic ways:

First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it's some sort of hoax, don't let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.

Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution. Some of the corporate changes are more symbolic than real — "green-washing," as it's called — but a surprising amount of real progress is taking place. Walmart, to pick one example, is moving aggressively to cut its carbon footprint by 20 million metric tons, in part by pressuring its suppliers to cut down on wasteful packaging and use lower-carbon transportation alternatives. Reward those companies that are providing leadership.

Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue. The Alliance for Climate Protection (, which I chair, has grassroots action plans for the summer and fall that spell out lots of ways to fight effectively for the policy changes we need. We can also enable you to host a slide show in your community on solutions to the climate crisis — presented by one of the 4,000 volunteers we have trained. Invite your friends and neighbors to come and then enlist them to join the cause.

Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate — and let them know you're fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they're frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don't let up! It's true that some media outlets are getting instructions from their owners on this issue, and that others are influenced by big advertisers, but many of them are surprisingly responsive to a genuine outpouring of opinion from their viewers and readers. It is way past time for the ref to do his job.

Finally, and above all, don't give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don't have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, "Now go out and make me do it."

To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: "I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you — regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you."

Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on "don't ask, don't tell?" It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes. When enough people care passionately enough to drive that message home on the climate crisis, politicians will look at their hole cards, and enough of them will change their game to make all the difference we need.

This is not naive; trust me on this. It may take more individual voters to beat the Polluters and Ideologues now than it once did — when special-interest money was less dominant. But when enough people speak this way to candidates, and convince them that they are dead serious about it, change will happen — both in Congress and in the White House. As the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once observed, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will."

What is now at risk in the climate debate is nothing less than our ability to communicate with one another according to a protocol that binds all participants to seek reason and evaluate facts honestly. The ability to perceive reality is a prerequisite for self-governance. Wishful thinking and denial lead to dead ends. When it works, the democratic process helps clear the way toward reality, by exposing false argumentation to the best available evidence. That is why the Constitution affords such unique protection to freedom of the press and of speech.

The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable — given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason — of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

También La Lluvia / Even The Rain.

or Who to trust? and, What about thugs?
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript. 
On the incipient Alzheimer's front, here's:
'Vantage #4: Since none of the spell-checkers work very well anyway, and since the one provided in Blogger is particularly useless (it just stops after a few hundred words), AND since I try to spell things properly but often can't remember well enough anymore to be sure, and since the Toronto Public Library provides access to the OED (to card-holders) - I quite often find myself browsing around in there, fossicking in one of the better compost heaps ever piled, which for an old garbage picker is one of life's pleasures.
Gotta love them Canucks. :-)A delight in fact; and none of it would be happening without my old friend Mr. Gout, and my new one, Mr. ... ? ... wazizname again?
Christ, Buddha, and a hippie are hitch-hiking together under the hot sun on a long and empty road. A truck passes them by, leaving a cloud of dust, and as it passes a lemon falls off the truck, bounces, and lands at their feet.

Christ picks it up and says, "Ah! The lemon is bitter, like the fruits of sin," and passes it to Buddha who holds it up in his fingers and says, "But the bitterness of the lemon, like sin, is no more than an illusion."

And he passes it to the hippie - who tastes it, smiles, and says, "Sweeeeet!"
Gotta love them Canucks though eh? :-)(I believe this story is told by Tom Robbins in one of his books, Even Cowgirls get the Blues or maybe it was Another Roadside Attraction ...) 
Luis Tosar & Icíar Bollaín.Icíar Bollaín & Juan Carlos Aduviri.Icíar Bollaín.Hardly seems to be the same woman in all of these three photographs eh? She has a twin, Marina - there could be a switcheroo goin' on (but I don't think so). Icíar Bollaín, director of También La Lluvia / Even The Rain (& here), a woman of a certain age, with facets.

The movie is now around on Demonoid for download. I am loath to appear to be promoting theft in this case - the movie deserves support - but first it deserves to be seen. If and when it comes to town I will go and pay a theatre to see it again, with a friend if I can find one - there.

Wiphala.Quite a snotty nariz em pé review in the NYT. The critic, Stephen Holden, says, "The title, 'Even the Rain', refers to the notion that catching rainwater would be illegal." Apparently unaware, according to his dismissive 'the notion' and 'would be', that indeed it has been the law in large parts of his America for many a long year that you cannot be going around catching raindrops without a licence: see here in his very own NYT. It is an interesting topic in fact (Who gets the licences?), you can begin to follow it up here and here if you want to. The ins and outs of compulsive anal-retentive legislators.

There was a time when I viewed aboriginal rights as impossible nonsense. But we all have to start somewhere I suppose. Over the years my thinking has changed, by slow degrees. My mother told me that Residential Schools were to help people escape from savagery. So many points like that, buried in 'the social imaginary' that take decades and more to wash out if they ever do. And she was not entirely wrong either - my friend Simon initially preferred me as a worker simply because I tended to show up when I said I would, and sober.

Yakumama.This movie helps the sifting process. It draws a convincing line five centuries long, half a milenium, from Columbus in 1492 to Bolivia in 2000, and then beyond, to the present, 2011, my present, where it lands with an ominous thump. Maybe the line is a trifle broad for some hair-splitters, ok, whatever ... One place to start examining it is the history of the water troubles in Bolivia culminating around 2000: here.

The NYT reviewer doesn't like the moral to-ing and fro-ing between Sebastian & Costa either (It's ok, he probably liked Iron Man). When Costa flips over and chooses a very specific & non-ideological struggle ... well, I was not surprised, and found myself musing again on Illich's network of human flesh, the network of agapé and Maritain's "l'armée des étoiles jetées dans le ciel." - see here.

I can't make out Icíar Bollaín, though I went looking for clues this week and watched a few of her other films: El Sur (1983), Te doy mis ojos (2003), Mataharis (2007). She could be another roto-rooter going after the patriarchy on some deeply buried personal issue. How would I know? I can't make her out any more than I can make out, say, Bob Dylan. For me their figures are so strongly backlit that they shimmer and wink in and out of perception. I can't even pretend to make them out ... I have no idea, none (well, hardly any) ...

Though I do, just now, imagine a sort of planetary Tantra and Yoga, an awakening Shakti and an unstoppable kundalini orgasm ... or whatever it is you get when you combine wish and transcendence ... I could also be completely mistaken and it could be Kali, come to crush us all to ketchup.
"Look out! The saints are comin’ through, and it’s all over now, baby blue."
   (Thanks again Bob.) 
Another killing in the state of Pará in Brazil - two reports translated below: one on the 14th by Renata Giraldi and one on the 15th by Pedro Peduzzi. Both originating at Agência Brasil, which is reputable as far as I know, but ... the (inflammatory) one was picked up and passed on by Friends of the Earth - Amazonia Program aka Amigos da Terra - Amazônia Brasileira. The second one was passed on too, eventually, though the lack of fact-checking in the first instance didn't merit a retraction.

So. What are the facts? and, Who do you trust? Or maybe it's just a matter of not flying off the handle so quickly? Is that it?

Here is a map I customized using the Google 'My Map' interface - another technological nightmare. My objective was simply to put more than one 'marker' on the same view of the same map, and as you can see it can be accomplished.

The procedure is to set up the view you want, save it as a My Map under whatever name you select, and then, in a separate window on a separate map, get the marker that you want, and use the 'Save to map' feature in the marker list in the leftmost frame to transfer the marker to your map. If this is not clear I will be glad to follow up via comments or email. 
Glenn Weddell, Toronto police.Glenn Weddell, Toronto police.Glenn Weddell, Toronto police.Todd Storey, Toronto police.Luke Watson, Toronto police.Three more thugs have been flushed out from under the thin blue wainscotting in the halls of the Toronto Police Service.

Hell, even in a third-hand photograph from the Toronto Star and with my tired old eyes I can make out 99944 on his damn helmet - don't need to call in a fancy pants 'forensic computer technology' expert for that.

One can hardly call them 'sacrificial lambs' - sacrificial cockroaches then - because the real perpetrators are very well protected (if not very well hidden): Bill Blair, Julian Fantino, Stephen Harper ... and all their creepy & cowardly associates up and down the line.

FAO Food Price Index, June 2011.And anyway, they were just testing their equipment, just getting ready for the innings to come, so they will be prepared to deliver serious and unmistakable lessons in civics when the time comes (like the good Boy Scouts we know them to be).

Round numbers - three-quarters of humanity now live in or around cities. And the story is beginning to fray, and not just at the edges. Uh oh! Take a close look at that FAO Food Price Index graph there - no cause for immediate personal alarm maybe, but certainly cause for some ... planning? Wouldn't you say? Has your income doubled since 2003? Just asking ...

'Ragpicker child' in Jammu India, photo by Channi Anand.'Ragpicker child' in Jammu India, photo by Channi Anand.Two pieces of a photograph found at the Globe and here and here, taken at the dump in Jammu, India (here's a map, I didn't know either).

Just time for a short meditation on the 'granularity' (as the techno-geeks call it) of this virtual reality we now inhabit ... and then remembering Supriya Bhadakwad & Vatsala Gaikwad.

Vatsala Gaikwad.Supriya Bhadakwad.I think this is the proper Vatsala (in the rightmost photo) but I could be wrong - naturally the press focussed upon Supriya. These women came to the bollocks climate fiasco in Cancún last December to tell the good burghers assembled there that incineration plants do not benefit them, rather the opposite.

So. Three generations ... that's not quite the point either ... suffice to say that in my constellation, ragpickers shine as brightly, and moreso, than, say, the trophy wife of some Koch brother ka-zillionaire with her plastic tits and her deer-in-the-headlights smile.

Maybe someone thinks it demeans these women to be associated with my shit, aimed at the IPCC and the Koch brothers and so on? What could I say to that? beyond - I hope not ... 
We weep for Fukushima. Paris June 11.June 11 marked three months since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In Tokyo there were large anti-nuclear demonstrations, with protesters numbering from 5,000 (police estimate) to 20,000 depending on who you believe. In Paris there was also a demonstration, with 1,100 (police estimate) to 5,000 marchers, again depending on who you trust. Even if you only accept the conservative estimates of the police - these are significant numbers. There was a demonstration in New York too - 60 people - that number I believe.

Tokyo June 11.Tokyo June 11.Tokyo June 11.Tokyo June 11.Tokyo June 11.Tokyo June 11.The demonstrations were briefly reported on, and in the NYT, but the news never appeared in the Toronto papers, the Globe and the Star. Why is that do you think? Considering that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is doing its worst to shove another one or two reactors up our ass at Darlington you might almost think that large demonstrations in Tokyo and Paris are ... relevant?

Italy says Non! to nuclear.It really did happen. Here is a collection of excellent photographs: Part 1 & Part 2; by a western guy (by the look of him - go to Shoot Tokyo and click the 'About Me' tab) named Dave, who lives in Tokyo with his family and speaks Japanese - I for one am very glad he is, and does, and did etc. - Good on 'im!

The referendum kiboshing nuclear development in Italy also recieved scant attention - in the Globe it was tacked onto a discussion of Berlusconi's probable fate, a footnote.

So what is it? Gross bourgeois complacency? A conspiracy? What? Any connection that on Earth Day a mere handful of people showed up to demonstrate at Queen's Park in Toronto? (see here)

Burning Police cars in Vancouver.Burning Police cars in Vancouver.Burning Police cars in Vancouver.Burning Police cars in Vancouver.Burning Police cars in Vancouver.Here's another - Things are rarely as they seem.Here's a clue. He's almost got his finger on it.Gotta love those Canucks! That the Canadian thugs lost the Stanley Cup to the American not-quite-such-thugs-but-thugs-all-the-same is worthy of going full-on berserkers and burning police cars?! In Vancouver yet! Where fog and moss and lichen are news!

... and I have to ask - WTF?
(Where are your priorities boys and girls?)

Speaking of lichen reminds me of propagation by 'death from behind'. We have the IPCC apparently planning to preserve their fat bureaucrat salaries in perpetuity (however long that turns out to be) by ... endorsing ... geo-engineering. Et Voilà!

UN FCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.UN IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri.The rationale is obvious and I am not going to go into it ... the news is there to be read. How could a smart guy like Gwynne Dyer fall for this shit? Or pretend to? Whatever ...

But hear this: What the misbegotten assholes of the industrial-military complex and their misbegotten servants, the politicians & bureaucrats & scientists & technologists, will do to the planet - a nossa querida Terra - with geo-engineering will make what they have already done with coal & oil & nuclear waste look like kid stuff, tiddley-winks.

These people, Rajendra Pachauri & Christiana Figueres and all their legions of scribbling bureaucrats - if there was ONE of them who could just stand up and speak out the truth - but they are irretrievably crippled by their diplomatic culture, they can't make it work and they won't speak out.

Ian Fry.Ian Fry.Hang on a sec' ... there was one, here he is in Copenhagen, Ian Fry representing Tuvalu, one.

Lula da Silva & Barack Obama.Lula da Silva & Evo Morales.Okokok, two. Here's Lula da Silva of Brazil: Part 1 & 2 (each about 10 min.).

It still makes me weep to listen to them. Who else was listening? Apprently not Rajendra Pachauri & Christiana Figueres and their flunkies who are now being successfully pressured by the paymasters to promote geo-engineering. Maggots!

There is a word in Greek bailouki (rhymes with the musical instrument bazouki), and as it was explained to me years ago by a young Greek woman I knew, it means 'something blocking the way' and is used to refer to menstrual tampons. 
That's pretty ugly eh? Childish. Comparing the UN with Tampax? I do sometimes, often, consider the shittiness of some of what I say here, rasgando o verbo; but then, what little mind there is or ever was, wanders off the Emperor's New Clothes, and the Please Stop Your Infernal Forebearance aka Cut the Correctitude Crap-o-la, and the Make Of It What You Can and closely related Make Of It What You Will ... and anyway, no one says anything, so ... whatever.

Robert MacKay.Robert MacKay.I noticed this video featured in the Toronto Star, and a related article. I said, "this is what you call a good samaritan? someone who wades into a fight swinging, to protect a store? not much of a standard by my lights, the good samaritans were the ones who helped him up again, no?" and was roundly trounced by the trolls ... and it set me back.

I went down yesterday to the Toronto Day of Action – International Stop the Tar Sands Day. All the same people were there and no one else that I could see. I was late, maybe I missed 'em. My feet swelled up like red baloons, riding on the streetcar, lumbering around, and though some of them knew me, even by name, they didn't want to talk ... turned their backs when they saw me looking over, so I put my paw-print on their mural, made a donation and left. A kind man cleared his bags from a seat for me to sit on the way back to this place that is not a home - and I was thankful.

Oh well, people back away on ideological grounds which are often no more than disguised insecurity, even family & friends, and one ends up PNG, as the brit diplomats say. All good.

If you were to analyze the last few weeks' worth using Martin Buber's keyword-counting method, you might arrive at 'thug' & 'trust' (and 'bureaucrat' & 'bourgeois' of course, though these seem to have somehow become stop-words?).

Did I mention Pynchon's paranoid paradise recently? ... Oh yeah, just last week ... ok then, maybe it's time to read Gravity's Rainbow again. 
Brother Bob is showing up on YouTube again (?) For several years at least the copyright minions were taking it all down - but now some of his songs are reappearing?

So here's some music to take us all on outa here ... Bob Dylan singing It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry.

I sat listening to a guitar picker practicing this tune in ... 1966 in the McGill Student Union? But I didn't really listen to it until Bloomfield Kooper & Stills' version came along in the summer of 1968 on Super Session, in Halifax that was.

I remember the line as:
I ran to tell everybody but I just could not get across.
but it seems to be:
I went to tell everybody but I could not get across.
There you go ... lame I know. I could have done better ... I did the best I knew how to do.

And some (not all but some) of the frost that is filling the windows he is singing about is the damned forbearance and crepuscular (when the vampires come!) correctitude that goes on, dig it.

A-and so, finally there is an excellent and engaging suite of videos featuring Michael Sandel at Harvard.

Be well gentle reader, and all of my best beloveds. 

Oops, forgot to do the second translation, just noticed, I'll get around to that. ... OK, that's it done.

1. Review: Even the Rain, Stephen Holden, February 17 2011.


2. It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado, Kirk Johnson, June 28 2009.


3. Mais um trabalhador rural é assassinado no Norte do país, Renata Giraldi, 14/06/2011.


4. Trabalhador assassinado no Pará não era ambientalista, diz CPT, Pedro Peduzzi, 15/06/2011.


5. Search on for beating victim in Vancouver, Joanna Smith, June 16 2011.

Review: Even the Rain, Stephen Holden, February 17 2011.

Icíar Bollaín’s bluntly political film “Even the Rain” makes pertinent, if heavy-handed, comparisons between European imperialism five centuries ago and modern globalization. In particular it portrays high-end filming on location in poor countries as an offshoot of colonial exploitation.

The movie is set in and around Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third-largest city, which the movie’s fictional penny-pinching film producer, Costa (Luis Tosar), has chosen as a cheap stand-in for Hispaniola in a movie he is making about Christopher Columbus. The year is 2000, and Costa is unprepared to deal with the real-life populist uprising in Bolivia after its government has sold the country’s water rights to a private multinational consortium.

Local wells from which the people have drawn their water for centuries are abruptly sealed. Riots erupt when the rates charged by the water company prove ruinous. The rebellion ends only after the protests have brought Bolivia to a standstill and the company has withdrawn. The title, “Even the Rain,” refers to the notion that catching rainwater would be illegal.

Just as Costa and the film crew arrive to make a high-minded, myth-shattering exposé of Columbus’s exploitation and suppression of native populations, hostilities between Bolivian peasants and the government are about to explode. For Sebastian (Gael García Bernal), the project’s idealistic director, the movie-to-be is a chance to subvert the myth of Columbus as a heroic New World explorer by portraying him as a rapacious, greedy perpetrator of atrocities and a despoiler of nature.

Costa has no interest in the people of Bolivia and is overheard boasting on the telephone to a financier that the clueless extras are thrilled to be paid as little as $2 a day.

During the casting process a rebellion flares up when Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri), a fiery young Indian who traveled a long distance with his daughter to try out for the film, insists on an audition even though the roles have been filled. He makes such a fuss that hundreds of others who had lined up for hours without being tested are given a chance.

Daniel, a charismatic firebrand, wins the role of Hatuey, a Taino Indian chief who spearheads the rebellion against Columbus’s forces. When Daniel is not being filmed in the movie, he leads the protests against the new government-protected water company. Arrested and beaten up, he is temporarily freed only after the filmmakers intervene.

At its best “Even the Rain,” directed by Ms. Bollaín from a screenplay by Paul Laverty (“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”), suggests a politically loaded answer to Truffaut’s “Day for Night.” The scenes of Columbus’s arrival and subjugation of the indigenous people, whom he coerces to convert to Roman Catholicism, are milked for inflammatory outrage. Having persuaded the Indians to collect gold dust in a river, Columbus makes them slaves. Brutal punishment is meted out for malingering. In the most horrifying scene — the money shot, if you will — Hatuey and two other prisoners are tied to crosses and burned alive.

Although the movie punches hard, its impact is diminished by an overly schematic screenplay and excess conceptual baggage. An unnecessary layer involves the filming of a documentary about of the making of the film. The story brings in two heroic 16th-century missionaries, Bartolomé de las Casas and Antonio de Montesinos, who defend the Indians but they are given minimal screen time.

A more serious problem is the moral seesawing of Costa and Sebastian. While Costa suddenly and mysteriously acquires a social conscience that leads him to risk his life by driving a girl wounded in protests to the hospital, Sebastian, alarmed that his pet project is in jeopardy, callously begs him to stay and finish the movie. A film is forever, he argues, while the social turmoil around them will be resolved and quickly forgotten.

“Even the Rain” is splendidly panoramic. The scenes of Columbus’s arrival and of his imperialist and religious sloganeering, and of the carnage he wreaks, have a grandeur and a force reminiscent of Terrence Malick films. The segments about the chaotic water riots have a documentary immediacy.

In his weighty portrayal of Costa, Mr. Tosar goes as far as he can to make the character’s change of heart believable, but he can’t accomplish the impossible. And as Anton, the cynical, hard-drinking actor playing Columbus, Karra Elejalde lends the film a welcome note of antic unpredictability.

Consciously or not, “Even the Rain” risks subverting its own good will. You can’t help but wonder to what degree its makers exploited the extras recruited to play 16th-century Indians. Inevitably “Even the Rain” is trapped inside its own hall of mirrors.

It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado, Kirk Johnson, June 28 2009.

DURANGO, Colo. — For the first time since territorial days, rain will be free for the catching here, as more and more thirsty states part ways with one of the most entrenched codes of the West.

Precipitation, every last drop or flake, was assigned ownership from the moment it fell in many Western states, making scofflaws of people who scooped rainfall from their own gutters. In some instances, the rights to that water were assigned a century or more ago.

Now two new laws in Colorado will allow many people to collect rainwater legally. The laws are the latest crack in the rainwater edifice, as other states, driven by population growth, drought, or declining groundwater in their aquifers, have already opened the skies or begun actively encouraging people to collect.

“I was so willing to go to jail for catching water on my roof and watering my garden,” said Tom Bartels, a video producer here in southwestern Colorado, who has been illegally watering his vegetables and fruit trees from tanks attached to his gutters. “But now I’m not a criminal.”

Who owns the sky, anyway? In most of the country, that is a question for philosophy class or bad poetry. In the West, lawyers parse it with straight faces and serious intent. The result, especially stark here in the Four Corners area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, is a crazy quilt of rules and regulations — and an entire subculture of people like Mr. Bartels who have been using the rain nature provided but laws forbade.

The two Colorado laws allow perhaps a quarter-million residents with private wells to begin rainwater harvesting, as well as the setting up of a pilot program for larger scale rain-catching.

Just 75 miles west of here, in Utah, collecting rainwater from the roof is still illegal unless the roof owner also owns water rights on the ground; the same rigid rules, with a few local exceptions, also apply in Washington State. Meanwhile, 20 miles south of here, in New Mexico, rainwater catchment, as the collecting is called, is mandatory for new dwellings in some places like Santa Fe.

And in Arizona, cities like Tucson are pioneering the practices of big-city rain capture. “All you need for a water harvesting system is rain, and a place to put it,” Tucson Water says on its Web site.

Here in Colorado, the old law created a kind of wink-and-nod shadow economy. Rain equipment could be legally sold, but retailers said they knew better than to ask what the buyer intended to do with the product.

“It’s like being able to sell things like smoking paraphernalia even though smoking pot is illegal,” said Laurie E. Dickson, who for years sold barrel-and-hose systems from a shop in downtown Durango.

State water officials acknowledged that they rarely enforced the old law. With the new laws, the state created a system of fines for rain catchers without a permit; previously the only option was to shut a collector down.

But Kevin Rein, Colorado’s assistant state engineer, said enforcement would focus on people who violated water rules on a large scale.

“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re sending out people to look in backyards,” Mr. Rein said.

Science has also stepped forward to underline how incorrect the old sweeping legal generalizations were.

A study in 2007 proved crucial to convincing Colorado lawmakers that rain catching would not rob water owners of their rights. It found that in an average year, 97 percent of the precipitation that fell in Douglas County, near Denver, never got anywhere near a stream. The water evaporated or was used by plants.

But the deeper questions about rain are what really gnawed at rain harvesters like Todd S. Anderson, a small-scale farmer just east of Durango. Mr. Anderson said catching rain was not just thrifty — he is so water conscious that he has not washed his truck in five years — but also morally correct because it used water that would otherwise be pumped from the ground.

Mr. Anderson, a former national park ranger who worked for years enforcing rules and laws, said: “I’m conflicted between what’s right and what’s legal. And I hate that.”

For the last year, Mr. Anderson has been catching rainwater that runs off his greenhouse but keeping the barrel hidden from view. When the new law passed, he put the barrel in plain sight, and he plans to set up a system for his house.

Dig a little deeper into the rain-catching world, and there are remnants of the 1970s back-to-land hippie culture, which went off the grid into aquatic self-sufficiency long ago.

“Our whole perspective on life is to try to use what is available, and to not be dependent on big systems,” said Janine Fitzgerald, whose parents bought land in southwest Colorado in 1970, miles from where the pavement ends.

Ms. Fitzgerald, an associate professor of sociology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, still lives the unwired life with her own family now, growing most of her own food and drinking and bathing in filtered rainwater.

Rain dependency has its ups and downs, Ms. Fitzgerald said. Her home is also completely solar-powered, which means that the pumps to push water from the rain tanks are solar-powered, too. A cloudy, rainy spring this year was good for tanks, bad for pumps.

The economy has turned on some early rainwater believers, too. Ms. Dickson’s company in Durango went out of business last December as the construction market faltered. The rain barrels she once sold will soon be perfectly legal, but the shop is shuttered.

“We were ahead of our time,” she said.

Mais um trabalhador rural é assassinado no Norte do país, Renata Giraldi, 14/06/2011.

Mais um trabalhador rural é assassinado no Norte do país

Brasília – Menos de um mês depois de quatro ativistas ambientais serem mortos no Norte do país, o trabalhador rural Obede Loyla Souza, de 31 anos, casado e pai de três filhos, foi assassinado no Pará, no último dia 9. A Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT), ligada à Igreja Católica, informou que ele foi morto com um tiro no ouvido e que o corpo foi encontrado na cidade de Tucuruí – considerada uma das principais áreas de exploração ilegal de madeira da região, principalmente da castanheira.

De acordo com a CPT, não há informações sobre as razões que levaram à morte de Obede. Mas testemunhas contaram que, entre janeiro e fevereiro, o agricultor discutiu com representantes de madeireiros na região.

Informações obtidas pela comissão apontam que, no dia do assassinato de Obede, uma caminhonete de cor preta com quatro pessoas entrou no Acampamento Esperança - onde morava o agricultor. O presidente do Projeto de Assentamento Barrageira e tesoureiro da Casa Familiar Rural de Tucuruí, Francisco Evaristo, disse que viu a caminhonete e considerou o fato estranho. Como Obede, ele também é ameaçado de morte.

No fim de maio, quatro ambientalistas foram assassinados – três no Pará e um em Rondônia. A lista de pessoas ameaçadas, segundo a CPT, contabiliza mil nomes. O documento já foi entregue às autoridades brasileiras e também estrangeiras.

A presidenta Dilma Rousseff convocou uma reunião de emergência, no último dia 3, para discutir o assunto em Brasília. Ela ouviu os governadores do Pará, Simão Jatene, do Amazonas, Aziz Elias, e de Rondônia, Confúcio Moura. Também estavam presentes na reunião seis ministros – Nelson Jobim (Defesa), José Eduardo Dutra (Justiça), Maria do Rosário (Secretaria de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos), Gilberto Carvalho (Secretaria-Geral da Presidência) e Afonso Florence (Desenvolvimento Agrário).

Ao final da reunião, a presidenta determinou o envio de homens da Força Nacional de Segurança ao Pará. Os homens chegaram ao estado no último dia 7 e devem permanecer no local por tempo indeterminado, segundo as autoridades brasileiras.
 Another rural worker is assassinated in the north of the country

Brasilia – Less than a month after four environmental activists were killed in the north of the country, the rural worker Obede Loyla Souza, 31 years old, married and the father of three children, was assassinated on June 9th. The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), connected to the Catholic Church, reported that he was killed with a gunshot in the ear and that the body was found in the town of Tucurui - known as one of the areas most affected by illegal logging, mostly cashew-nut trees.

According to the CPT there is no information about the reasons that led to the death of Obede; but witnesses said that in January and February the farmer had argued with logging representtives in the area.

Information obtained by the CPT points out that on the day of Obede's assassination a black SUV carrying four people entered Camp Hope where the farmer lived. The president of the Barrageira Settlement Project and treasurer of the Tucurui Local Family House, Francisco Evaristo, said that he saw the SUV and thought it strange. Like Obede, he is threatened with death.

At the end of May four environmentalists were assassinated - three in Para state and one in Rondonia. According to the CPT, the list of people who have been threatened contains 1,000 names. The document has already been delivered to Brazilian authorities and also to foreigners.

President Dilma Rousseff called an emergency meeting on the 3rd to confront the issue in Brasilia. She heard from the Governor of Para, Simão Jatene, of Amazonas, Aziz Elias, and of Rondonia, Confúcio Moura. Also present at the meeting were six Ministers - Nelson Jobim (Defence), José Eduardo Dutra (Justice), Maria do Rosário (Secretary of Defence of Human Rights), Gilberto Carvalho (Secretary General of the Presidency) and Afonso Florence (Agricultural Development).

At the conclusion of the meeting the President decided to send members of the National Security Force to Para. They arrived on the 7th and will stay for an undetermined length of time according to Brazilian authorities.
Trabalhador assassinado no Pará não era ambientalista, diz CPT, Pedro Peduzzi, 15/06/2011.

Trabalhador assassinado no Pará não era ambientalista, diz CPT

Brasília - O trabalhador rural Obede Loyla Souza, de 31 anos, morto no último dia 9, não era extrativista nem líder ambientalista no Pará. Além disso, seu nome não consta na lista de pessoas ameaçadas divulgada pela Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT). Esses fatores, de acordo com o Ministério da Justiça, amenizam as suspeitas de que sua morte seria mais um caso de violência contra líderes rurais da Região Norte. Em menos de um mês, a região contabiliza quatro mortes de lideranças.

“Assim como toda a população local, Obede e a esposa tinham seu roçado. Mas não era extrativista nem liderança. Muito menos ativista ambiental”, disse o agente da equipe da CPT de Tucuruí e integrante da coordenação da CPT no Pará Hilário Lopes Costa. “O nome de Obede não consta na lista que a CPT divulga, com os nomes de pessoas ameaçadas de morte por madeireiros”, afirmou.

“Trabalhando com todas as hipóteses”, a Polícia Civil do estado levantou a ficha do trabalhador e constatou que ele tinha antecedente criminal por atentado ao pudor. Isso será levado em consideração ao longo das investigações, mas, em princípio, não tem relação com o assassinato, e ficará limitado apenas às informações vinculadas ao perfil da vítima.

De acordo com o coordenador da CPT, a esposa do trabalhador, Éllen Cristina de Oliveira Silva, 29, omitiu algumas informações durante o depoimento que fez à Polícia Civil de Tucuruí. "Ela disse que Obede havia discutido com um vizinho do Acampamento Esperança por causa da demarcação do lote. Mas, por causa do nervosismo, acabou esquecendo de falar que os dois já tinham chegado a um acordo”, informou Hilário.

Ela não informou também, segundo o agente da CPT, sobre uma discussão que o marido teve com caminhoneiros que transportavam madeira ilegal na estrada que dá acesso ao acampamento.

“Não se tratou de uma discussão relacionada à madeira ilegal que estava sendo transportada, mas aos danos que esses caminhões estavam causando à estrada de chão batido. Por transportarem até 20 toras de árvore de uma vez só, esses caminhões ficam muito pesados e acabam tornando a estrada intransitável. Como sempre chove na região, o estrago fica ainda maior”, disse Hilário.

“Ela acabou não falando isso durante o depoimento na delegacia por medo do grupo de madereiros de Tucuruí, que são muito poderosos e têm a conivência da Polícia Militar local”, justificou o integrante do CPT no Pará.

O Ministério da Justiça confirmou que o trabalhador assassinado não era líder extrativista e informou que a Força Nacional não está no local porque a solicitação do governo do Pará está restrita a apenas três municípios: Santarém, Marabá e Altamira.
 Worker assassinated in Para was not an environmentalist, says CPT

Brasilia - The rural worker Obede Loyla Souza, 31, who died June 9, was not a harvester or environmental leader in Pará state. In addition, his name is not on the list of threatened persons released by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT). According to the Ministry of Justice, this settles suspicions that his death was another case of violence against rural leaders in the North. In less than one month, the region has seen the deaths of four leaders.

"Like all the locals, Obede and his wife had their small plot of land. But he was neither a harvester nor a leader, much less an environmental activist," said the agent of the CPT team in Tucuruí and a CPT coordinator in Pará, Hilário Lopes Costa. "Obede's name is not in the list that the CPT gave out, with the names of people being threatened by loggers," he said.

"Looking at all possibilities," the Civil Police of the state looked at his record and found that he had a prior offence for indecent exposure. This will be taken into account during the investigation, but in principle, it has no connection with the murder, and will simply be kept in the victim's profile.

According to the CPT coordinator, the wife of the worker, Ellen Cristina de Oliveira Silva, 29, omitted some information in the statement she made to the Civil Police in Tucuruí. "She said Obede had argued with a neighbor in Camp Hope about the demarcation of their lot. But, because she was upset, she forgot to mention that the two had already reached an agreement," said Hilário.

She also did not speak, according to the CPT agent, about an argument her husband had with some of the truckers who carry illegal timber on the road that leads to the camp.

"The argument was not related to illegal timber being transported, but to the damage that the trucks were causing the dirt road. Carrying up to 20 logs at a time, these trucks are very heavy and end up making the road impassable. As it is always raining in the region, the damage is even greater," said Hilário.

"She didn't say this during the interrogation at the police station for fear of the group of loggers in Tucuruí, who are very powerful and have the connivance of the local Military Police," explained the member of the CPT in Pará.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed that the murdered worker was not a leader of the harvesters, and said that the National Force is not in the area because the request of the government of Pará is restricted to three municipalities: Santarem, Maraba and Altamira.
Search on for beating victim in Vancouver, Joanna Smith, June 16 2011.

“Canada needs more people with his character and courage,” federal Heritage Minister James Moore wrote on the social media site Twitter Thursday of the man beaten by a mob during Vancouver rioting.

VANCOUVER—The search is on for the unidentified man in black who was attacked by a mob of rioters after he tried to discourage them from smashing the windows of a downtown department store.

“Canada needs more people with his character and courage,” federal Heritage Minister James Moore and proud Vancouver Canucks fan wrote on the social media site Twitter.

Moore posted a link to the video showing the man yelling at the rioters to back away from the Bay store on Granville and W. Georgia Sts. Wednesday night before he was dragged down and beaten.

An employee at the Bay, where Vancouverites gathered to write apologetic and positive messages on the wooden boards covering its damaged windows Thursday morning, began to cry as she described how grateful she was to the anonymous strangers who risked their safety to try to protect the store.

“It was so wonderful because there were so many Good Samaritans, young men that were standing there holding people back from coming in and a couple of them started chanting ‘Please have respect! Please have respect!’ It was just amazing,” said store director Dana Hall, who was working during the riot and helped shepherd employees and customers up to the seventh floor to wait out the danger.

“They supported us. They helped us. They put their lives on the line,” said Hall.

A company spokeswoman said the Bay has been “absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of public support” at its flagship store and added they are currently focused on the damages but considering reaching out to the public later on.