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Ann Parkes is a good friend of mine, a veteran animal rights activist, a brilliant and dignified woman, and yet another victim of neoliberalism, class oppression, and state repression. Below and in her own recorded video statement, is a shocking story of capitalist war against the disadvantaged and the subsequent campaign of harassment, threats, and intimidation the UK Social Services, police, and State unleashed against Ann Parkes for daring to challenge their deplorable treatment of those in need and those who dare to speak against the agents of repression. Ann Parkes is a brave and noble woman fighting a courageous battle on behalf of her sick husband (Alfred Parkes), her embattled family, and her own right to dissent. This is her story.

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Statement on Behalf of Ann Parkes:

As a global community of Human Rights Advocates, we are beginning to question the legitimacy of Social Services, particularly at Solihull Council. The travesty of justice through their derelict duty of care towards the Parkes Family of Solihull is incomprehensible, aside from reprehensible.

Mr. Ian James, Director of Social Services, accompanied by Fiona McGill, systematically ignored emails pertaining to a disgrace that occurred at Jubilee Gardens whilst Mr. Alfred Parkes was in their care.

This has been an ongoing but preventable saga since January 2013. Social Services is simply a service to the people they represent. In the case of the Solihull department, their intention has not been one of care, compassion and integrity, rather the opposite. Antagonistic, bullying, abuse of power towards a citizen and absolute derelict duty of care. Collectively James and McGill not only refused to investigate blatant impropriety regarding the staff but denied knowledge of the fact. Emails in our possession suggest a cover up connected to flagrant lies.

Mrs. Parkes aside from experiencing the police arriving at her home, requested specifically by Fiona McGill in an attempt to prevent her posting this sorry saga on social media, has been forced to endure despicable disregard by those who are paid to serve the people. This disgraceful abuse of power prompted Mrs. Parkes to follow up visiting the police station herself, only to discover there was no record or log regarding the two officers involved, which leads us to believe it was a favor owed or bestowed. Attempting to personally speak with James and McGill at Solihull Council, in an endeavor to resolve these issues, she was promptly asked to leave by security. Is the UK becoming a “police” state of oppressors? Many people are watching this story from around the globe, in disbelief and horror.

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To support Ann, please send letters to:

andy.burnham.mp@parliament.uk  (Shadow Health Secretary)
huntj@parliament.uk  (Jeremy Hunt, Health Sec.)
mb.scfs@dh.gsi.gov.uk
burtl@parliament.uk  (Lorely Burt, MP/Solihull)
hemmingj@parliament.uk  (John Hemming, MP)
ianjames@solihull.gov.uk  (Director of Solihull SSD)

Willis, my feline soulmate, died exactly a year ago today, and will never leave my memories and heart. I love you Willis, rest well my son.

Originally posted on Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism:

sartre

An excerpt from Ronald Aronson’s Jean-Paul Sartre: Philosophy in the World (1980), which mentions some changes in Sartre’s thought and orientation following the revolutionary upsurge of May 1968 in France (p. 317-9).  Sartre’s provocative turn expressed here retains all of its relevance 40 years on.

“But as he absorbed the experience of May, he decided that the intellectual should first ‘suppress himself as intellectual’ in order then to put his skills ‘directly at the service of the masses’. [...] This new posture was most sharply and provocatively defined in his interview with John Gerassi in 1971.

Sartre here gave the simplest answer yet to his constant question: what should the intellectual do? – he should act. To be a radical intellectual was above all to be committed to put oneself bodily in opposition to the system. In conversation with Gerassi he reviewed his own political history going back to the…

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It’s no secret that US citizens live in a police state in which the government, particularly through the USA PATRIOT Act, grants itself unlimited powers of surveillance, but the leaking of a top-secret document has shed new light on the mind-boggling scale of the monitoring of communication. On June 6, The Guardian reported (see below) on the chilling extent to which the state can and does invade citizens’ privacy through a top-secret program used by the National Security Agency (NSA). The Guardian revealed not only a top-secret court order to telecom giant Verizen to release the phone records of millions of Americans, but also a program called PRISM which allows the NSA to access stored user data on nine major server providers: Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL, PalTalk, and Apple. PRISM is the main source of information in 1 out of 7 NSA intelligence reports. Tapping directly into the central servers of these internet companies, the NSA and FBI are extracting emails, documents, audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. PRISM not only makes privy to the state stored user data, but enables it to monitor live communications as they unfold.  In exchange for legal immunity, corporations are obliged to accept a “directive” from the FBI to grant the state open access to all US communications; some corporations like Apple, however, have resisted government invasion, as has Twitter.

All of this is done, of course, under the guise of national security and the phony “war on terror” which fronts for the real war — the war against democracy. As reported by The Washington Post, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.” This is dubious given the history of US state repression and FBI operations against US citizens, activists, and social movements. The state argues PRISM focuses on communications to and from foreign countries as it grants open access to virtually all communications with the country. The state also argues that it only examines packets of date and not data content, but content is easily obtained.

These new revelations underscore the integral interrelations of Big Business and Big Brother in the US corporate-state complex and the extent to which “privacy” is obsolete in the era of the Internet and social networking. Activists beware; dissent with care.

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The Guardian

Prism

A slide depicting the top-secret PRISM program

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of PRISM.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

PrismThe program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Disclosure of the PRISM program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.

The participation of the internet companies in PRISM will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.

Some of the world’s largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan “Yourprivacy is our priority” – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.

Prism

The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies.

Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users’ communications under US law, but the PRISM program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies’ servers. The NSA document notes the operations have “assistance of communications providers in the US”.

The revelation also supports concerns raised by several US senators during the renewal of the Fisa Amendments Act in December 2012, who warned about the scale of surveillance the law might enable, and shortcomings in the safeguards it introduces.

When the FAA was first enacted, defenders of the statute argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the PRISM program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

PRISM slide crop
The document is recent, dating to April 2013. Such a leak is extremely rare in the history of the NSA, which prides itself on maintaining a high level of secrecy.

The PRISM program allows the NSA, the world’s largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.

The presentation claims PRISM was introduced to overcome what the NSA regarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists. It noted that the US has a “home-field advantage” due to housing much of the internet’s architecture. But the presentation claimed “Fisa constraints restricted our home-field advantage” because Fisa required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.

“Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them,” the presentation claimed. “It took a Fisa court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all.”

The new measures introduced in the FAA redefines “electronic surveillance” to exclude anyone “reasonably believed” to be outside the USA – a technical change which reduces the bar to initiating surveillance.

The act also gives the director of national intelligence and the attorney general power to permit obtaining intelligence information, and indemnifies internet companies against any actions arising as a result of co-operating with authorities’ requests.

In short, where previously the NSA needed individual authorisations, and confirmation that all parties were outside the USA, they now need only reasonable suspicion that one of the parties was outside the country at the time of the records were collected by the NSA.

The document also shows the FBI acts as an intermediary between other agencies and the tech companies, and stresses its reliance on the participation of US internet firms, claiming “access is 100% dependent on ISP provisioning”.

In the document, the NSA hails the PRISM program as “one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses for NSA”.

It boasts of what it calls “strong growth” in its use of the PRISM program to obtain communications. The document highlights the number of obtained communications increased in 2012 by 248% for Skype – leading the notes to remark there was “exponential growth in Skype reporting; looks like the word is getting out about our capability against Skype”. There was also a 131% increase in requests for Facebook data, and 63% for Google.

The NSA document indicates that it is planning to add Dropbox as a PRISM provider. The agency also seeks, in its words, to “expand collection services from existing providers”.

The revelations echo fears raised on the Senate floor last year during the expedited debate on the renewal of the FAA powers which underpin the PRISM program, which occurred just days before the act expired.

Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware specifically warned that the secrecy surrounding the various surveillance programs meant there was no way to know if safeguards within the act were working.

“The problem is: we here in the Senate and the citizens we represent don’t know how well any of these safeguards actually work,” he said.

“The law doesn’t forbid purely domestic information from being collected. We know that at least one Fisa court has ruled that the surveillance program violated the law. Why? Those who know can’t say and average Americans can’t know.”

Other senators also raised concerns. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon attempted, without success, to find out any information on how many phone calls or emails had been intercepted under the program.

When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the PRISM program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a “report”. According to the NSA, “over 2,000 PRISM-based reports” are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.

In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISM program.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, that it was astonishing the NSA would even ask technology companies to grant direct access to user data.

“It’s shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this,” he said. “The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications.

“This is unprecedented militarisation of domestic communications infrastructure. That’s profoundly troubling to anyone who is concerned about that separation.”

A senior administration official said in a statement: “The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located within the United States.

“The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.

“This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

“Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.

“The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target.”

drstevebest:

More great writing from Jim Robertson, check out his blog and his excellent book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Originally posted on Exposing the Big Game:

I didn’t mean to set off a pissing match in my last blog post by quoting a group’s recent statement to the Missoulian, “We at Wolves of the Rockies understand and acknowledge the importance of hunting as a tool for managing wolves, and we stand beside the ethical hunter in doing so.” I’m sorry if I misinterpreted that statement, but I thought it made their position on wolf hunting pretty clear: they support it.

And I think it’s obvious what they’re saying with the lines, “We are not advocating the end of wolf hunting. We have only asked for a slight modification to the state wolf management plan to accommodate other legitimate values in this specific locale. Remember, Montana’s wildlife is owned by ALL the people, not just hunters.”

It sounds to me like they feel that wolf “management” through hunting and trapping is acceptable, as long as it doesn’t conflict…

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An informative and disturbing documentary on the war on South African rhinos and economic markets, mythologies, crime syndicates, government corruption, high-tech massacre technologies, and vicious mercenaries driving the immanent extinction of this magnificent species. The urgency of the crisis is vividly dramatized, as are the violent urges deep in the human condition, and the armed struggle taking place right now in Africa and elsewhere in the struggle to save animals from extinction and as a vital part of the politics of nature.

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Al Jazeera Correspondent

“It’s a creature from a bygone age, older than mankind itself. Greed and corruption, myth and superstition, had brought the rhino to the brink of extinction.

For millenia its best protection, the rhino’s horn is now its worst enemy. If the killing doesn’t stop than the last rhino in the wild could disappear in just a few years.

These days rhino poachers come by a helicopter armed with powerful tranquilizers and a chainsaw. The cruelty of the attack is just breathtaking. A philosopher once said that we can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. If so what kind of men are doing this?

In 2010 more than 300 rhinos were killed for their horns. With acts of such heartless cruelty taking place every day now, that annual total will almost double in 2012. It amounts to the wholesale slaughter of one of this continent’s most praised natural assets, by means both crude and sophisticated.”

Italian Facebook Steve Best Rome Lecture Tour Event Page

Per Animalia Veritas Steve Best Event Page

“Interview with Steve Best,” Asinus Novus

“Steve Best in Italy: From Philosophy to Action,” by the blog (and more), Asinus Novus. The writers provided a nice summary of my talks and main ideas.

A Key Meeting,” Arielvegangfashinblogspot.com; a refreshingly intelligent, fair, and incisive essay on my work, thank you Ariel.

“Now Enough,” Barbara Balsalmo

 

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I wish to thank everyone in Italy for inviting me to speak again this year, and for being such gracious hosts, fantastic activists. and amazing people. There are dozens, perhaps over a hundred of people who made this tour possible and joyful. I cannot possibly name them all. I do however, wish to offer a very special thank you to:

Kostia Troinia and Barbara Balsamo for inviting me and being the principal organizers of my talks in Rome. You are the best!

Marcos Aragao for your excellent photos.

VeggieChannel.com for your tremendous effort in interviewing me, taping my lectures in Turin, Rome, and Latina, and for having the courage to post my talks on your channel.

The kind women at Asinus Novus for showing enough interest in my work to summarize my talks and interview me; it was a pleasure, thank you.

Per Animalia Veritas; thank you for your activism, support, and bold defense of militant direct action!

The ReWild Cruelty Free Club; you guys rock and make the best vegan food!

Paolo Trono and his club, Vegan Città di Latina (a former abattoir transformed into a space for music, lectures, and culture!) in which I gave my final speech in the Rome area before moving north to Brescia; thank you for your kindness, the great audience, and the great free food and beer!

Piercarlo Paderno for inviting and hosting me in Brescia. You are a great new friend and did amazing work to help liberate the Greenhill dogs.

The Occupy Greenhill movement (see here and here) for their bold act of liberation that will go down in history as one of the most important actions of this century. In their post-Greenhill reorganization, the group is now called Animal Amnesty, and will keep opening chained fences and locked doors!

Why butcher non-human animals only? Nothing but a silly anti-cannibalism custom prevents human factory farming. Get over it already and proceed to industrialized human butchery, meatpacking, and consumption to forestall the chronic food shortages and resource scarity already plaguing the world. One bad turn deserves another. A Human Hamburger. Might be delicious. Movies such as Soylent Green (1973) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, 2003) have shown the way to the delicacies of the future. Artist Sharon Baker takes it to another level of just desserts.

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Huffington Post, September 27, 2012

If you were turned off by her severed toe cookiesanatomically-correct macarons orgross-out cocktails, then you’re probably not going to like her latest project, the world’s first pop-up “human butchery.”

HuffPost got a sneak peek at photos for the upcoming event, which is being sponsored by video game publisher Capcom to mark the release of “Resident Evil 6.”

For the non-gamers among us, “Resident Evil” is a survival horror video game series that’s bloody, to say the least. It’s fitting, then, that the promotional launch for the latest installment feature meaty offerings from the “gory world of Wesker & Son, the fictional butcher with a penchant for human flesh,” according to a release.

The make-believe butchery will open for two days, September 28 and 29, in a very real location — London’s famous meat market, Smithfield’s — and will offer some edible items for purchase: “Peppered Human & Lemon Sausages,” “J’avo Caught Human Thigh Steaks” and specially-made pots of “Red Herb” and “Green Herb.”

Never fear, the meat in question isn’t actually human, although it’s unclear what meat is used. Gross or not, we can’t help but admire the pieces’ clear artistry, which comes courtesy of artist Sharon Baker. From the look of her web site, she’s created some creepy works before; check out these human bread casts.

If you can stomach it, take a look at more of Baker’s meaty work for the “human butchery.” Fair warning, a few of these pictures are NSFW.

Saturday Sept 1: Arrive in Rome

Tuesday 4: Rome: Rewild Cruelty-Free Club: “The New Abolitionism: Animal Liberation and Social Revolution”

Wednesday 5: Rome: The University of Rome La Sapienza: “Animal Liberation and Moral Progress: The Struggle for Human Evolution”

Thursday 6: Rome: Ex-Mattatoio Di Aprilia, Aprilia (LT): “The Paralysis of Pacifism: In Defense of Militant Direct Action and `Violence’ for Animal Liberation”

 Friday 7: “The Global Vivisection-Industrial Complex and Militant Liberation Struggle,” Sala Buozzi – Camera del Lavoro conference room in the “Camera del Lavoro, Brescia

Friday 14th: “The Rise and Fall of the Human Empire,” Luxembourg Conference

Sunday 16th: “The War on Animals,” Luxembourgh Conference

Wednesday 19: The University of Lisbon, Portugal, “Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century” 

Friday 21st: Porto, Portugal: “Everything You Know About Homo sapiens is Wrong

Wednesday 26: Performance #1  with Blendeskil, Barcelona, Spain

Saturday 29: Performance #2 with Blendskil, Mallorca, Spain

NASA’s James Hansen, the ‘Godfather of Global Warming,’ says earlier predictions “too optimistic”

James Hansen, The Washington Post, August 3, 2012

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988, I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.

My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summerthe United States is suffering through right now.These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.

Twenty-four years ago, I introduced the concept of “climate dice” to help distinguish the long-term trend of climate change from the natural variability of day-to-day weather. Some summers are hot, some cool. Some winters brutal, some mild. That’s natural variability.

But as the climate warms, natural variability is altered, too. In a normal climate without global warming, two sides of the die would represent cooler-than-normal weather, two sides would be normal weather, and two sides would be warmer-than-normal weather. Rolling the die again and again, or season after season, you would get an equal variation of weather over time.

An clean energy economy … is a simple, honest and effective solution.

But loading the die with a warming climate changes the odds. You end up with only one side cooler than normal, one side average, and four sides warmer than normal. Even with climate change, you will occasionally see cooler-than-normal summers or a typically cold winter. Don’t let that fool you.

Our new peer-reviewed study, published by the National Academy of Sciences, makes clear that while average global temperature has been steadily rising due to a warming climate (up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century), the extremes are actually becoming much more frequent and more intense worldwide.

When we plotted the world’s changing temperatures on a bell curve, the extremes of unusually cool and, even more, the extremes of unusually hot are being altered so they are becoming both more common and more severe.

The change is so dramatic that one face of the die must now represent extreme weather to illustrate the greater frequency of extremely hot weather events.

Such events used to be exceedingly rare. Extremely hot temperatures covered about 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of the globe in the base period of our study, from 1951 to 1980. In the last three decades, while the average temperature has slowly risen, the extremes have soared and now cover about 10 percent of the globe.

This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.

There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.

The future is now. And it is hot.

Dr. James Hansen is director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University. He was the first scientist to warn the US Congress of the dangers of climate change and writes here as a private citizen. Hansen is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.
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