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“What Global Warming?” asks North Country New York. This Global Warming, answers NASA.

In a February 12 2015 letter to the editor of New York State’s North Country Now, an anonymous reader asks, “What Global Warming? Whatever happened to global warming?  I feel short changed!”

You see, it’s been cold lately.  How could that be if we’re experiencing global warming?

There are two answers to that question.  The first answer is that even if the globe is warming, winter will be colder than the summer.  That’s how winter works.  But winters have been getting warmer, not cooler, over time.  In the NASA dataset of global temperature measurements from 188o to 2015, the 10 warmest winters have all occurred in the last 20 years, and the 10 coldest winters all occur before 1920.  We just don’t remember that winters used to be colder because most of those experiencing the coldest winters are dead.

The second answer is even on a warming globe, some places can be locally cooler.  In other words, local weather is not the same as global climate.  NOAA’s most recent global temperature anomaly map shows a local cool spot hanging right over New York’s North Country.  The letter writer doesn’t know that in most other places around the globe, it’s getting hotter, making for a general trend of global warming.

The trend extends through data newly released by NASA, showing that after the record-hot year of 2014, January 2015 is the second-hottest January in its records, topped only by January 2007.  Even in the winter, this is what global warming looks like.

P.S. I hear some other New Yorker under the local cold spot has been asking the same question.  He goes by the name of Don:

Donald Trump denies global warming.  What a buffoon.

12,000 Strong March in North Carolina against the Politics of Exclusion

Women have no right to control their own bodies.

Workers have no right to earn enough to live on.

Children have no right to eat.

Unprivileged citizens have no right to vote.

People of color have no right to organize.

Same-sex couples have no right to marry.

Those are the policy priorities of the right wing in North Carolina. Taken together, they exclude a supermajority of the people of North Carolina.  North Carolina has a long history of political rule that privileges straight, rich, white men at the exclusion of other groups, but it also has a history of building alliances across lines of race and class to pursue a more inclusive vision.  In the 1890s, populists and Republicans joined together in a strategy dubbed “fusion politics” to promote policies of greater racial and economic equality.  That movement was eventually undone by waves of white supremacist violence and intimidation, but 120 years later fusion politics re-emerged in the “Moral Mondays” movement.  Centered around the NAACP but bringing in feminists, progressive religious groups from multiple Christian and non-Christian faiths, LGBT groups, Greens, labor unions and more, this new fusion politics is in many ways broader than the fusion politics of old, embracing an agenda of equal political rights across lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

When all the different groups excluded from the conservative North Carolina power base are put together, they create impressive numbers.  Blogger DocDawg attended a Moral Movement March in Raleigh this past Saturday, and he documented attendance in pictures…

DocDawg image: Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina, February 2015

But more importantly, he documented numbers.  In his article he declares that “we were 12,000 strong by my calculation,” and in private conversation he explained that:

“you can take that number to the bank (or to the State Capitol). I get so pissed off by wildly inaccurate estimates of turnout, so decided to do it right. I ran up ten flights of stairs to the top of a parking structure beside the parade route, photographed the whole length of the march, then took those pictures home, analyzed the mean packing density of the marchers, google-mapped the precise length and average width of the route, and thus came to that number.”

Twelve thousand voices raised in protest on a cold winter’s day in Raleigh should be heard. Will North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature listen?

Go Volotic

volotic music makerToday, it’s Presidents Day, the day we celebrate the accomplishments of overachievers by not going to work. This discrepancy edges in the direction of irony, but fails to hit that high mark, and ends up slamming into befuddlement. Besides that, it’s cold and snowy, which makes the idea of rising to meet the day with determination laughable.

So, today, I shall offer no deep observations. I shall call no alarms. I shall bring attention to no neglected corners of anything that has corners.

Instead, I will merely note that I have discovered a really fun program (I would call it an “app” if it were not for the fact that whenever I say the word “app”, I sound like a cat that is about to spit up a hairball) called Volotic.

Volotic is a visual music-maker. The user makes loops of the sort that one might hear in the background of a video game by placing icons on a grid, and hurling balls of musical mojo at them.

Go back to bed. Make a tune. Fall asleep feeling as if you have gotten something done.

American Muckraking Tool #47: Corporate Entity Searches for the 50 States

There are many secrets held by corporations in the United States, but it’s surprising how much you can find out about these centers of power if you only know where to look.  Whether they exist for a profit or non-profit purpose, corporate entities must register in order to carry out their business in a state.  This provides a point of advantage for the individual citizen, because those registration documents describe the activities, locations and leadership of corporate groups, often in a way that illuminates contradictions of a corporate group’s PR story about itself.  To name just a few examples:

In a few states, such as FloridaNevadaRhode Island and West Virginia, it’s also possible to make searches by the names of corporate officers.  This is a great way to find front groups that appear to be supporting an issue “independently” of one another but that are actually acting as sock puppets for one another.

Corporate registration searches are handy for uncovering information, but carrying out corporate registration searches can be difficult, considering that each state has its own unique website for searching corporate registrations.  To make the task a bit easier, I’ve assembled a list of corporate registration search websites for each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.  One notable exception is Louisiana, whose corporate registration disclosure system has been ground down by malfunction.

Here’s the list; I hope you find it useful.

State Corporate Registration Search Website
Alabama http://www.sos.alabama.gov/vb/inquiry/inquiry.aspx?area=Business%20Entity
Alaska http://commerce.state.ak.us/CBP/Main/CBPLSearch.aspx?mode=Corp
Arizona http://starpas.azcc.gov/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=wsbroker1/connect.p?app=names-report.p
Arkansas http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_all.php
California http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/
Colorado https://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityCriteriaExt.do
Connecticut http://www.concord-sots.ct.gov/CONCORD/online?sn=PublicInquiry&eid=9740
DC https://corp.dcra.dc.gov/Account.aspx/LogOn?ReturnUrl=%2f
Delaware https://delecorp.delaware.gov/tin/GINameSearch.jsp
Florida http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/ByName
Georgia https://cgov.sos.state.ga.us/Account.aspx/LogOn?ReturnUrl=%2f
Hawaii https://hbe.ehawaii.gov/documents/search.html?mobile=N&site_preference=normal
Idaho http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html
Illinois http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/
Indiana https://secure.in.gov/sos/online_corps/name_search.aspx
Iowa https://sos.iowa.gov/search/business/(S(ktdgqu3jkerl5knoogphnu45))/search.aspx
Kansas https://www.kansas.gov/bess/flow/main?execution=e1s3
Kentucky https://app.sos.ky.gov/ftsearch/
Louisiana website defunct
Maine https://icrs.informe.org/nei-sos-icrs/ICRS?MainPage=x
Maryland http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/ucc-charter/Pages/CharterSearch/default.aspx
Massachusetts http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corpweb/CorpSearch/CorpSearch.aspx
Michigan http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/bcs_corp/sr_corp.asp
Minnesota https://mblsportal.sos.state.mn.us/Business/Search
Mississippi https://corp.sos.ms.gov/corp/portal/c/page/corpBusinessIdSearch/portal.aspx
Missouri https://bsd.sos.mo.gov/BusinessEntity/BESearch.aspx?SearchType=0
Montana https://app.mt.gov/bes/
Nebraska https://www.nebraska.gov/sos/corp/corpsearch.cgi?nav=search
Nevada http://nvsos.gov/sosentitysearch/CorpSearch.aspx
New Hampshire https://www.sos.nh.gov/corporate/soskb/csearch.asp
New Jersey https://www.njportal.com/DOR/BusinessNameSearch/default.aspx
New Mexico https://portal.sos.state.nm.us/corps/(S(zhxyjbja2zuhllwrw230kxyr))/corplookup/Lookdn.aspx
New York http://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html
North Carolina http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/csearch.aspx
North Dakota https://apps.nd.gov/sc/busnsrch/busnSearch.htm
Ohio http://www2.sos.state.oh.us/pls/bsqry/f?p=100:1:0::NO
Oklahoma https://www.sos.ok.gov/corp/corpinquiryfind.aspx
Oregon http://egov.sos.state.or.us/br/pkg_web_name_srch_inq.login
Pennsylvania https://www.corporations.state.pa.us/corp/soskb/csearch.asp
Rhode Island http://ucc.state.ri.us/CorpSearch/CorpSearchInput.asp
South Carolina http://www.sos.sc.gov/Search%20Business%20Filings
South Dakota https://sos.sd.gov/business/search.aspx
Tennessee https://tnbear.tn.gov/ecommerce/filingsearch.aspx
Texas https://mycpa.cpa.state.tx.us/coa/Index.html
Utah https://secure.utah.gov/bes/
Vermont https://www.vtsosonline.com/online/BusinessInquire
Virginia https://sccefile.scc.virginia.gov/Find/Business
Washington http://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/corps_search.aspx
West Virginia http://apps.sos.wv.gov/business/corporations/
Wisconsin https://www.wdfi.org/apps/CorpSearch/Advanced.aspx
Wyoming https://wyobiz.wy.gov/business/filingsearch.aspx

A Very Cold Warming?

From where I sit as I write this, I can look outside through a window, and see, even in the dim light of this early hour, that it is very snowy, and very cold, outside. It is easy to forget, in these conditions, that last year was the hottest year for Planet Earth in the many generations in which records of global temperature have been kept.

arctic sea ice february 2015The news from the Arctic at this time also seems not to fit with the Arctic blast that the northeastern United States has experienced over the last couple of weeks. January 2015 saw the third lowest extent of Arctic sea ice ever recorded. The historically low ice coverage of the Arctic seas has continued into February. For this date, Arctic sea ice extent is as low as it ever has been.

Though the area of Arctic sea covered by ice fluctuates from year to year, the downward trend over the decades has been quite consistent. There is a big melt going on.

Why, then, are we so darned cold? If the Arctic is melting, shouldn’t we be experiencing fewer big snowstorms and onslaughts of below-zero temperatures?

downward trend in arctic sea iceThe Union of Concerned Scientists has noted in the past that the melting of Arctic sea ice may be linked to instability in the “polar vortex”, leading to what had been especially cold and stormy winters in Europe and Asia. The North Atlantic Oscillation was in “positive mode” then. Could that same instability be contributing to this cold and stormy morning here in the northeastern United States?

A meteorologist living in Boston comments that it is “very hard to say whether something like this is exacerbated by climate change.” In short, nobody really knows for sure whether there’s a connection between the Arctic melt and the extreme winter here in our region this year. The relationship of climate to specific seasons of winter storms is complicated.

Where is the Level the Playing Field Foundation Registered as a Corporation?

The return of Americans Elect as the Level the Playing Field Foundation signifies plans for the 2016 presidential election that bear watching, especially considering the deep pockets of Level the Playing Field’s chairman and sole funder, the private wealth investment tycoon Peter Ackerman.

The point at which Americans Elect began to noticeably move forward with its plan to run a privatized U.S. presidential nomination was when it started registering itself as a corporation with the various states of the union.  This was vital to Americans Elect’s plan to engage the public as participants in its presidential nominating process and to obtain ballot access in the states for 2012.  By 2011, the year before the presidential election, Americans Elect was registered as a corporation in each of the 50 states.

Where, in comparison, is the Level the Playing Field Foundation registered?  To find out requires a search of each state’s business records.  If as the months of 2015 pass the Level the Playing Field Foundation continues to ramp up its activity, we should be able to see similar state registrations popping up for LPFF.

This weekend, I’ve used the corporate entity search function of each of the fifty state governments in the United States, plus the District of Columbia.  The contrast between Americans Elect and Level the Playing Field is striking.  While Americans Elect was registered as a corporate entity in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia, Level the Playing Field is only registered in two locations: the District of Columbia and the state of Virginia.

If the Level the Playing Field Foundation is intending to convert its FEC petition regarding presidential debates into an actual play for a spot in the presidential debates for its own designated candidate, it hasn’t started organizing that effort on the ground yet.  Could such an effort be going on under a different corporate name, but organized by the same leadership?  That’s unlikely; in Florida and Nevada and Rhode Island and West Virginia it’s possible to search for corporate entity registrations by the name of an officer; in these states no organization other than the old (and now lapsed) Americans Elect appears in registration records.

This is a matter worth keeping an eye on, but for now Level the Playing Field does not appear to be making a move toward intervening in the next presidential race at the state level.

The Real Origin Of Valentine’s Day

Catholic Mythology has it that Valentine’s Day started with St. Valentine, a Roman who is purported to have lived one thousand, seven hundred years ago.

juno fructifierThat’s a load of poppycock. For one thing, no one really knows who St. Valentine was, or if he really existed.

There is less known about St. Valentine than what is known about King Arthur and Robin Hood. The name Valentinus was taken from a list of Christian martyrs that was written down over a hundred years after their supposed martyrdom. It is, therefore, likely that the list was at least partially contrived for political reasons. That’s all the basis there is for the legends of St. Valentine. Geoffrey Chaucer invented much of the rest out of whole cloth, about a thousand years after St. Valentine is supposed to have lived.

The association of February 14 with romantic love in fact has ancient roots going all the way back to the pre-Christian Roman empire, in a two-day festival of Juno Fructifier and Lupercalia. This festival was devoted to fertility, and included an ancient equivalent of the key parties of the 1970s. Young women would put slips of paper with their names into a box, and young men would then reach in and take one slip each. The pairs would become then become sexual partners for a day, or perhaps longer, if the chemistry was right. Juno was also celebrated during the festival in her incarnation as Lupa, the wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded Rome.

It is said that Pope Gelasius tried to replace this ancient festival with a new ritual in which young people drew the name of a Christian saint on February 14, and attempted to emulate the virtues of that saint for a year, though this may be legend as well. Whatever the twists and turns in the threads of historical connection between then and now, it’s clear that the association of February 14 with love and sex predates anyone carrying the name of Valentine.

Congressional Republicans Introduce Bill To Cut Wages For Working Americans

As our writer Jim has documented, the minimum wage in the United States has dropped over the last five years by 75 cents, while the wealth of corporations has skyrocketed, and chief executives are making hundreds of times more than their companies’ average workers are. The facts are plain: Companies are directing the wealth they generate to their elite leaders and investors, and making their workers pay for it.

While this is happening, politicians like Republican Steve King are blaming rank-and-file workers for reducing the competitiveness of the companies they work for. Steve King claims that, when companies can’t compete, it’s because working Americans aren’t willing to take a pay cut.

Congressman King has a solution to this supposed problem. He wants to pass a law forcing workers to accept lower wages. His bill, H.R. 987, would repeal Davis-Bacon wage protections that ensure that workers on government-funded projects receive the prevailing wages in their particular labor market. If H.R. 987 passes, large numbers of workers across America will be forced to take a big pay cut, at the same time that their bosses’ pay continues to rise.

Steve King justifies this legislation by saying that, “Every dollar that American taxpayers send to Washington must be used as efficiently as possible.” If government projects must operate as efficiently as possible, though, why not just use slave labor?

Furthermore, why is Steve King targeting the people who already earn the lowest wages in companies that contract with the government? Why isn’t Steve King introducing legislation requiring that CEOs and investors take a big pay cut in order to increase efficiency?

The reason is simple and corrupt. Rank and file workers don’t have the money to pay off politicians like Steve King. CEOs and big investors do.

The members of Congress who are cosponsoring Steve King’s legislation to cut wages for working people across America are: Lynn Jenkins, Scott Perry, Trent Franks, Gregg Harper, Jeff Duncan, and Jeb Hensarling.

Is Jill Stein Right To Oppose Any Authorization Of Force Against The Islamic State?

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein urges Americans to oppose Barack Obama’s request for congressional authorization of military force against the Islamic State. Stein writes, “Don’t let America get dragged into another war for oil in the Middle East. These reckless and destructive wars have done nothing but create tremendous blowback against the U.S. around the world. It’s time to discard the failed foreign policy of endless war, and break the cycle of violence through diplomacy, international law and human rights.”

“Stop the wars,” Stein says. I agree with her that stopping war is an important goal. I am given pause, however, when I look at Barack Obama’s actual request for authorization of military force.

What I see in Obama’s request for authorization is a reduction in the ability of the United States to wage war, compared to the powers that President Obama currently claims (although these claims are an implausible stretch). First, the request for authorization would repeal the authorization for war in Iraq, upon which Obama bases his current military actions against the Islamic State. Second, the request sunsets the authorization of force against the Islamic State in three years, whereas the current authorization of force against Iraq is open-ended. Third, the request limits the use of force to the Islamic State, its current allies on the battlefield, and to any “closely-related successor entity” which is actually engaged in hostilities against the United States.

The authorization of force that Barack Obama is requesting does not end war. However, it would offer a significant restriction of the ability of the President of the United States to wage war. This restriction, under the guise of a new military effort, seems to be the closest that the current Republican-controlled Congress would ever come to curtailing the President’s military powers. Given that, in two years, we will have a new President, who might be yet another Bush, limitation of war powers now seems especially important.

Jill Stein would have us miss this opportunity to lessen the war making of United States, because it is not a complete elimination of authorization for war. While I understand her motivation, I question her sense of political tactics. Sometimes, heading straight for a target is the surest way to ensure that one never reaches it.

Renamed “Level the Playing Field,” Americans Elect outlines Presidential Plans for 2016: Debates

Americans Elect has returned in a new guise.  The corporation that started as Unity08, sought to direct its own privatized presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, and failed in those bids due to a lack of public support is now regathering its staff and reintroducing itself as the Level the Playing Field Foundation under the sole funding of Wall Street tycoon Peter Ackerman.

The Americans Elect plan for 2016 is new, but follows a consistent trend of altering the odds through policy change.  When as Unity08 it failed to get its “grassroots” presidential nomination off the ground in 2008 because it was forbidden from taking secret contributions of unlimited size, the corporation sued the FEC to change the rules and ultimately won the right to take secret large money contributions in the next round of presidential elections, renamed Americans Elect.  But as Americans Elect found out, secret large money wasn’t enough to get a presidential nomination off the ground in the 2012 election.  Americans Elect portrayed itself as a “grassroots” “movement” and wrote its own rules to require that actual Americans vote in its privatized presidential nomination system.  Fewer than 5,000 Americans actually participated in the Americans Elect nomination, however, which triggered an automatic failure of Americans Elect’s own presidential nominating rules.  The changes Americans Elect seeks, in a petition to the Federal Election Commission under the name of “Level the Playing Field,” is an attempt to fix that problem, too.

The story Americans Elect has been telling itself (and its funders) is that it would have been more popular and successful if only it had been willing to convince the just the right candidate to accept an Americans Elect nomination.  It turns out, you see, that while Americans Elect had been telling everyone that it had no favorite candidates, it had been actually been courting a certain set of potential candidates and begging them to get into the race under the Americans Elect banner.  Americans Elect corporate team members Cara McCormick and Darry Sragow explained these recruitment activities in a 2012 post-mortem document to Americans Elect financial supporters:

“Beginning in the late summer of 2011, through the end of April 2012, Americans Elect conducted confidential briefings with more than 150 individuals to lay out in detail the groundbreaking opportunity for a great American to run for the presidency independent of the nominating process of the two major parties. This stellar group of individuals included present and former members of Congress, U.S. senators, high-ranking members of the military, and CEOs of major corporations.

“…The candidate briefings enabled leaders across the country to seriously consider the opportunity to make a presidential bid that would forever change our political landscape. Briefings were held across the country and were attended by multiple members of the Americans Elect senior leadership. AE’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors participated heavily in finding and briefing potential candidates.

“…Through its ballot access efforts, Americans Elect removed the most prominent barrier to running for the presidency outside of the two-party system. Still, candidates had additional barriers to entry…. Many were very concerned about having the money or organizations to compete in the general election against the Democratic and Republican billion-dollar machines.”

The report goes on to explain that not enough high-quality candidates were attracted to the ticket.  If we accept that logic, the solution for the next cycle would be to make participation more attractive.

What if Americans Elect could guarantee the winner of its privatized nomination a spot in the presidential debates?

That’s the idea that Americans Elect’s successor organization, Level the Playing Field, has proposed to the Federal Election Commission in an official petition filed with the FEC.  Read pages 29-30 of the 281 page petition to find the Americans Elect/LPF proposal:

“Petitioners have devised one such alternative. The new rule would work as follows: On April 30 of an election year, any candidate, party, or nominating process with ballot access in states that collectively have at least 270 Electoral College votes would notify the CPD of that access. If there is more than one, then whoever has gathered the most signatures as part of the ballot access process will participate in the debates with the Democratic and Republican nominees.

“This new rule builds on the existing legitimating function of the ballot access process. Ballot access laws reflect a state’s decision of the demonstrated level of support necessary to warrant the serious step of including a candidate among the choices citizens are given on Election Day. The minimum number of signatures necessary to achieve ballot access in states comprising 270 electoral votes represents the collective and objective political judgment of who can qualify to run for President. Achieving that number alone is a significant mark of a candidate’s seriousness. Indeed, since 1988, the greatest number of third-party or independent candidates to meet this minimum in any given election was five (in 2000), and was often three or less.

“Of course, given the historic prize of entry into the debates, the competition to gain the most signatures will be vigorous and propel competitors well beyond the minimum. As a result, a legitimate third candidate will emerge. The winner should plan to stop 6 to 8 million people in the streets with the hope of 4 million signing. The cost and scale of that endeavor – requiring at least $13 million or more and a coordinated, nationwide network of staffers and volunteers – would not be insurmountable, but is substantial enough to ensure that only someone with significant fundraising and operational capacity could win.  And by virtue of having gotten the signatures of a broad cross section of Americans, the winner will have demonstrated popular appeal.”

This is the new Americans Elect plan for 2016.  What do you think of it?

For Immediate Release, Check Out Jim Rundberg For President

Are you looking for some immediate release? If so, Jim Rundberg has got just the thing for you.

He’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. “I am going to be the next Governor of Colorado! We are making our future the way we want it to be!”

jim rundberg for presidentNo, hold on a second, that’s just what his Twitter profile says. Actually, Jim Rundberg is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Rundberg still owes tens of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to file campaign finance reports from his Colorado campaign for governor last year, actually. He only ever raised $327 to support his campaign. Rundberg now lives in Puerto Rico.

“Truly,” says Rundberg, “we Americans are the sum of the whole.” Well, some Americans are part of the sum of the whole, anyway.

Women don’t count. They’re not part of the “American heritage” that Rundberg talks about, when he explains that our heritage is “the way we work to provide for our wives”.

Could lesbians be part of Rundberg’s American heritage, apparently, so long as they’re married in one of the states that provides for marriage equality? Sadly no. “God does not accept homosexual behavior, and he does not authorize any homosexual relationship. Neither do I,” says Rundberg. So, gays and lesbians are not part of the sum of the whole of America either, it seems.

Non-Christians don’t count, either. American heritage, says Rundberg, “is the faith in God which we hold”. Don’t have faith in gods? Then Rundberg’s presidential campaign isn’t for you.

Other than that, it is with a humble tone that Rundberg begins his presidential campaign, explaining that he is campaigning in accordance with “the will of Almighty God”. This tone of personal humility is in line with his policy platform, which includes the geographical expansion of the United States. “We must realize the need is not for making stronger our current borders,” he writes. “The need is to expand our borders that they may encompass any who wish it, so that they too may enjoy the blessings of liberty and know what it is to be American. As President, I will not ask other countries to be like us. I will invite them to become America with us.”

Where, though, has there been a model for a nation inviting other nations to be absorbed? Oh, I know – how about Russia? If Jim Rundberg is elected President, he could call Vladimir Putin for advice about how to incorporate neighbors who ask to be annexed.

Have you felt that immediate release yet?