Monday, June 15, 2015

Last Call For Pope On A Hope

Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment has leaked from an Italian media source, and it paints a picture of a Holy See definitely putting the responsibility for the planet's climate changing on the shoulders of those who would be Earth's stewards.

After months of build up, an Italian-language document believed to be an early draft of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment was leaked four days early on Monday, breaking a Vatican embargo on an official papal teaching that flatly rejects traditional conservative Christian justifications for exploiting the planet.

Vatican officials condemned the leak on Monday, saying that the early release of the nearly 200-page document constituted a “heinous act” and insisting that it is “not the final text.” Regardless, if genuine, the Italian-language draft of the encyclical — or one of the highest forms of official Church teaching a pope can produce — will undoubtedly make waves not only for its insistence that humanity protect the environment, but also for its deconstruction of conservative arguments against climate change.

ThinkProgress was not provided with an embargoed copy of the official encyclical, but ran sections of the leaked document by an Italian speaker. The likely encyclical draft — entitled “Laudato Si” or “Praised Be”, from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi — directly addressed the old biblical claim that because God gave humanity “dominion” over the earth in Genesis, humanity has a right to exploit it at will. This has also been a popular position among American politicians, who have used God to advocate for the continued development of fossil fuels.

We are not God,” the document reads. “The earth precedes us and was given to us. This allows us to respond to an accusation made against Judeo-Christian thinking: it has been said that, from the story of Genesis, which invites us to subjugate the earth (Genesis 1:28), the savage exploitation of nature would be encouraged, presenting the image of human beings as ruler and destroyer. This is not the correct interpretation of the Bible as intended by the Church.”

That's a pretty big departure from the usual prosperity/abundance gospel that has seen a big rise here in the US as of late, as well as a big departure from conservative dogma.  No doubt he'll be attacked for this, but we'll see what the final work has to say.

Now if we can only get the church to moderate a few other positions...

The Legend Of The Lone Star Gold

If it seems like red states (especially Texas) are run by Ron Paul gold bug lunatics, it's because red states, in particular Texas, are run by Ron Paul gold bug lunatics.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) signed House Bill 483 into law on Friday, which will establish a state gold bullion depository.

According to the governor's office, the law will repatriate $1 billion in gold from the Federal Reserve in New York to the new state depository.

The Officer of the Comptroller will administer the depository, which will serve "as the custodian, guardian and administrator of bullion" that will come to the State of Texas, the release said.

"Today I signed HB 483 to provide a secure facility for the State of Texas, state agencies and Texas citizens to store gold bullion and other precious metals," said Abbott in the release. "With the passage of this bill, the Texas Bullion Depository will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state."

Now, ask yourself why a state in the United States of America would need its own bullion depository, and to repatriate a billion in physical gold from the Federal Reserve. Does Texas plan to issue its own gold-backed currency or something? I mean, this is the kind of thing that might lead one to believe the state's leaders are getting rather serious about secession.

Tenth Amendment fetishists are certainly thrilled with the prospect.

In short, a person will be able to deposit gold or silver – and pay other people through electronic means or checks – in sound money. Doing so has the potential to open the market to sounds money in day-to-day transactions.

By making gold and silver available for regular, daily transactions by the general public, the new law has the potential for wide-reaching effect. Professor William Greene is an expert on constitutional tender and said in a paper for the Mises Institute that when people in multiple states actually start using gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve Notes, it would effectively nullify the Federal Reserve and end the federal government’s monopoly on money.

Gosh, I can't imagine why this wasn't an issue until 2009, but then again I recall a bunch of states decided they no longer wanted to be part of the US currency back in 1860 or so.

Go figure.

Water Mess We're In

California Republicans in their gated communities are not happy about Gov. Jerry Brown's new water restrictions.  Residents of super-rich places like Rancho Sante Fe are finding out that yes, these bourgeois limitations actually do apply to people like them, and they're pretty pissed off.

Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

Yuhas lives in the ultra-wealthy enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, a bucolic Southern California hamlet of ranches, gated communities and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average. In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.

But a moment of truth is at hand for Yuhas and his neighbors, and all of California will be watching: On July 1, for the first time in its 92-year history, Rancho Santa Fe will be subject to water rationing.

Oh, how awful that must be when you find out money can't buy you everything.

“It’s no longer a ‘You can only water on these days’ ” situation, said Jessica Parks, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Irrigation District, which provides water service to Rancho Santa Fe and other parts of San Diego County. “It’s now more of a ‘This is the amount of water you get within this billing period. And if you go over that, there will be high penalties.’ ”

So far, the community’s 3,100 residents have not felt the wrath of the water police. Authorities have issued only three citations for violations of a first round of rather mild water restrictions announced last fall. In a place where the median income is $189,000, where PGA legend Phil Mickelson once requested a separate water meter for his chipping greens, where financier Ralph Whitworth last month paid the Rolling Stones $2 million to play at a local bar, the fine, at $100, was less than intimidating.

All that is about to change, however. Under the new rules, each household will be assigned an essential allotment for basic indoor needs. Any additional usage — sprinklers, fountains, swimming pools — must be slashed by nearly half for the district to meet state-mandated targets.

Residents who exceed their allotment could see their already sky-high water bills triple. And for ultra-wealthy customers undeterred by financial penalties, the district reserves the right to install flow restrictors — quarter-size disks that make it difficult to, say, shower and do a load of laundry at the same time.

In extreme cases, the district could shut off the tap altogether

Can't wait to see that happen.  California means business and it's going to be rough sailing for the yacht crowd as a result. David Atkins weighs in:

Nothing better shows the infantility of the Republican mindset. These people believe that they’re all kings of their own little islands, that they have a right to use whatever they can get their hands on however they want. They have no concept of community or natural limits. For them, owning a Suburban is just as valid a choice as owning a Prius, climate change is a hoax that shouldn’t affect their choices, and anyone telling them they might have to cut back on something is a busybody interfering in their lives and waging a do-gooder war on their lifestyle. Their wealth doesn’t come at the expense of others because capitalism allows for endless growth and opportunity for those with enough gumption to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. And if they’re rich, the sense of the entitlement is exponentially greater.

They’re basically overgrown toddlers who don’t want to share and don’t understand how the world really works. And then they cry and feel abused when confronted by reality.

Absolutely true, this.


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