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Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the “Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013” for increased transparency and accountability in the defense budget. This bipartisan bill will cut the budget of any Federal agency by five percent that does not receive an independent audit for the previous year. To protect benefits for the nation’s veterans, military personnel accounts and the Defense Health Program would be exempt from cuts.
“The American people want some basic measure of accountability in the way the Pentagon spends tax dollars,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The Department of Defense’s refusal to provide an audit is a recipe for financial disaster. As the daughter of a veteran, I grew up believing in the power and patriotism of the U.S. military, but being patriotic does not mean blindly accepting bloated Pentagon spending.”
First Constitutional Amendment to be Introduced in Congress Stating Corporations Are Not People & Money Is Not Speech
Reps. Nolan & Pocan Respond to Over 500 Municipal Resolutions Calling for “We the People” Amendment
On Monday, February 11, Move to Amend will join members of Congress as they introduce Move to Amend’s “We the People Amendment” an amendment that clearly and unequivocally states that: 1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and 2) Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.
McClatchy Washington Bureau
By James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON --As another debt-deal deadline looms this winter in Congress, an unusual alliance of lawmakers has joined forces to put the Pentagon budget under greater scrutiny and to end the almost carte blanche status it enjoyed in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In a letter last month to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, 11 Democratic and 11 Republican lawmakers asked that Defense Department spending be put squarely on the table in the coming clashes over debt reduction.
Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes discusses the nominations of John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan, and the direction charted for the second term of Obama's presidency.
Total run time: 29:00
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By Norman Solomon
The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important – and least mentioned – political dynamics of this era.
As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus has heavyweight size but flyweight punch.
During the last four years, its decisive footwork has been so submissive to the White House that you can almost hear the laughter from the West Wing when the Progressive Caucus vows to stand firm.
A sad pattern of folding in the final round has continued. When historic votes come to the House floor, party functionaries are able to whip the Progressive Caucus into compliance. The endgame ends with the vast majority of the caucus members doing what Obama wants.
By Dave Lindorff
The all-out assault on Social Security has begun.
The set-up for the big battle was the Fiscal Cliff charade. That hyped drama in the last days of December was a moment of truth for the Democratic Party and for President Barack Obama to make it clear whether they were still defenders of the New Deal legacy, or whether they were ready to toss Social Security overboard on behalf of the party’s new constituency: the Wall Street gang.
By John Grant
Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.
-- Mark Twain
Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy, Sam Husseini said today: "With the Hagel nomination, former 'anti-war' candidate Barack Obama continues to appoint individuals to top foreign policy positions who voted for or otherwise backed the invasion of Iraq. This includes Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Robert Gates as well as John Kerry. Those who actually opposed the war from the start have been iced out. In establishment Washington, you get points for being wrong on the most important foreign policy question of your career.
"Particularly noteworthy are the contortions 'reasonable' individuals like Hagel have gone through. For example, when I questioned him in 2007, he said he did regret his Iraq war vote, but argued that it wasn't actually a war vote, couldn't bring himself to say the Bush administration had rigged the intelligence about Iraqi WMDs and gave as reasons for opposing the war things that were known before the war." [Video at WashingtonStakeout]
None of this is reason not to oppose the prowar opposition to Hagel's nomination. But it is worth keeping in mind who Hagel is, including the bit of information that nobody wants mentioned: he owned the company that counted his votes.
Kerry is the richest man in the US Senate and has over $38 million invested in companies with military contracts.
The Case Against Kerry
By Stephen Zunes, January 3, 2013
Foreign Policy in Focus
President Obama’s selection of John Kerry as the next secretary of state sends the wrong signal to America’s allies and adversaries alike. Kerry’s record in the United States Senate, where he currently chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, has included spurious attacks on the International Court of Justice, unqualified defense of Israeli occupation policies and human rights violations, and support for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, thereby raising serious questions about his commitment to international law and treaty obligations. Furthermore, his false claims about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and his repeated denials of well-documented human rights abuses by allied governments raise serious questions about his credibility.
In the 1980s, during the early part of his Senate career, Kerry was considered one of the more progressive members of the U.S. Senate on foreign policy. His record included challenging the Reagan administration’s policies on Central America, providing strong leadership during the Iran-Contra investigation, opposing U.S. support for the Marcos regime in the Philippines and other allied dictatorships, and supporting the nuclear freeze, among other positions supporting peace and human rights.
More recently, however, Kerry became a prominent supporter of various neoconservative initiatives, including the invasion and occupation of Iraq, undermining the authority of the United Nations, and supporting Israeli militarism and expansionism.
By Dave Lindorff
I was asked earlier this week by an reporter for PressTV, the state television network in Iran, if I could explain why the US political system seemed to be so dysfunctional, with Congress and the President having created an artificial budget crisis 17 months ago, not “solving” it until the last hour before a Congressional deadline would have created financial chaos, and even then not solving the problem and instead just pushing it off for two months until the next crisis moment.
By Dave Lindorff
Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
By Dave Lindorff
I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.
By Dan DeWalt
Thank God for the fiscal cliff. With the election over, the media needed something upon which they could incessantly fixate, and our daily updates on the fate of the cliff-hanger negotiations are plenty of fodder to hold us until we have the final Christmas sales figures to talk about.
Billions to Continue War, Provoke Iran, Shred the Constitution -- All Leading to Perpetual War
Washington D.C. (December 13, 2012) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement on the NDAA:
“Today, this House will send the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to conference. Contrary to its title, the bill does not provide for the protection of the American people. It expands war. It further indebts our nation. It encroaches on basic rights with regards to indefinite detention. It eliminates the basic tenet that due process rights applies to everyone in this country – not just American citizens.
“The legislation also includes additional sanctions against Iran despite numerous reports that our sanctions are affecting the ability of ordinary Iranians to obtain medicine and offer basic goods. Sanctions have thus far not served to solve the impasse or bring Iran to the negotiating table. More sanctions are not the answer and do not bring us closer to a diplomatic solution.
“This legislation also perpetuates the myth that we are ending the war in Afghanistan. We are not leaving Afghanistan. We are deepening our commitment. This bill provides for another staggering $88 billion for the war. The Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan commits us to the country for at least another decade with a $20 billion price tag.
“Finally, this legislation continues financing our bloated Pentagon. The United States maintains 1,000 bases worldwide. Some of these bases are infamous, like Guantanamo Bay. There are small bases to support our drones program. There are fortresses to support our wars.
“The cost to maintain these bases is billions of dollars. Included in these costs are the costs to maintain and run 234 golf courses around the world.
“The Pentagon is expanding their spy agency. The CIA has become a paramilitary organization. We are preparing to support intervention in Mali. Our government’s policy in Syria is incoherent. We are expanding our military presence in Asia and in Africa.
“And for what? For millions of Americans to be unemployed? For millions of Americans to go hungry? For millions of Americans not to have adequate access to education or even healthcare? For millions to lose their homes? For millions to lose their retirement security? For roads and bridges to collapse because we have no money for infrastructure?
“I say it’s time we pay attention to the defense of the American people’s pocketbooks - The defense of the dignity of the American people - The defense of the moral authority of the United States. It’s time to end this state of permanent war. We should throw out the NDAA, put an end to interventionism and begin to take care of things back home.”
House Committee to Vote Thursday on Presidential Power to Murder Without Providing Congress With the Details
This is from Congressman Kucinich:
Washington D.C. (December 12, 2012) – The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote tomorrow on H. Res. 819, a Resolution of Inquiry, introduced by Congressman Kucinich (D-OH), to finally compel the Administration to release its legal justification for drones strikes which targets American citizens and others abroad.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 AM tomorrow to consider the resolution. This vote will determine whether the United States Congress will stick up for the Constitution, Congressional oversight, and for the rights of all Americans.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, this Administration recently conducted its 300th drone strike. Drone strikes are estimated to have killed more than 1,000 innocent civilians. Recently it has been reported that the Administration conducts secondary strikes. The so-called process of “double tapping” includes attacks on the first-responders to the initial attack. The White House claims that strikes against United States citizens abroad are legal and points to a classified memo from the Office of Legal Counsel. The Administration would be compelled to release that memo and supporting documents under H. Res 819.
“Our strikes are creating a dangerous legal precedent that the world will emulate. From Iran to China, other nations are very close to developing comparable technology. Congress must act to ensure proper oversight and legal authority for the use of this technology.
“Targeted strikes are legal only under a very narrow set of circumstances. Strikes against United States citizens are in direct violation of the Constitution, which guarantees due process rights and the right to a fair trial. The volume of the strikes and the process of ‘double-tapping’ challenge the legality of these strikes. The Congress and the American people have a right to know what laws the Administration is relying on to conduct its drone program, and how they are being interpreted, especially against U.S. citizens," said Kucinich.
Here Are the 94 Congress Members Who Signed the Letter to Obama Telling Him to Get Out of Afghanistan
Here's the letter and signatures: PDF.
Yes of course they'll still vote to fund what they oppose. Yes of course they'll cave under the slightest pressure. Take it for what it is. It's a start.
By Rep. Barbara Lee
Many of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus recognize that no serious plan to address the deficit can go forward without defense spending reforms on the table. The bloated Pentagon budget has increased a staggering 95 percent dating back to 2000. We continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars on a nuclear arsenal and Cold War-era weapons system designed to fight a phantom Soviet army. The Cold War is over and the Soviet Union long gone -- nonetheless, today we are spending above Cold War levels in real, inflation-corrected terms. It is time to say enough is enough; we need to rein in Pentagon spending after the last decade of unchecked increases, and spend our security dollars wisely on proven programs that can meet our national security goals.
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com
The Senate has unanimously passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $631 billion military spending bill, with 98 votes in favor. The unanimity of the vote, according to analysts, was because of a “lack of controversial issues.”
The things that weren’t controversial enough to muster even a single no vote included a new round of sanctions against Iran, a permanent ban on ever transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and continued funding for the occupation of Afghanistan.
Oh, and lest we forget, the Senate version also included the Feinstein Amendment, which nominally was supposed to ban open-ended military detention of American citizens captured on American soil, but was so awkwardly worded and filled with loopholes that proponents of the detention voted for it because they believe it will make it even easier for the military to capture Americans under the new law.
The bill is slightly different from a House version already passed, which is $634 billion. Officials say the two are close enough that it will be easy to solve in committee, however.
Clock Running on Legislation to Force White House to Release the Legal Justification for Drone Strikes
Washington D.C. (December 4, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today urged fellow lawmakers to support, H. Res. 819, a Resolution of Inquiry that would compel the Administration to release to Congress documents which form the legal basis for the targeted assassination of American citizens abroad. Those documents would include memos from the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel.
A Resolution of Inquiry must be considered within 14 legislative days. Unless Congress adjourns before the deadline, Kucinich will be able to call up the bill with privileged status. Kucinich introduced the legislation on November 28, 2012.
The full text of Congressman Kucinich’s remarks follow.
“Before Congress adjourns, this House should vote on my Resolution of Inquiry about the U.S. use of drones.
“The vote will not be about the thousands of deaths of innocent civilians caused by drones, though that is important. It won’t be about whether the drones are creating more terrorism. It won’t be a vote to stop the killing of American citizens without the due process guaranteed by the Constitution.
“It won’t be about whether our ongoing use of drones constitutes violations of the Constitution and violations of international law.
“The vote will, however, be about something fundamental. We will determine whether or not Congress has the power to require the Administration to release their still-secret legal justification to use drones.
“In matters of the Constitution, in matters of war, ‘trust us’ is neither sufficient legally, constitutionally, nor is it morally acceptable. I urge members of the House to reclaim Congress’ constitutional imperative by supporting H. Res. 819, the Resolution of Inquiry demanding the White House produce its legal justification for drone strikes.”
Jobs Not Wars Campaign: 56 Organizations Band Together to Fight Austerity Measures & Demand Cuts to Runaway Pentagon Spending
Tax payer dollars have been misallocated – we need a new set of priorities. Cut billions from runaway Pentagon spending, end war now, corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share. It is unnecessary and criminal to shift the deficit burden onto working and middle class families, the elderly and poor.
Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan
From: The Honorable Barbara Lee
Sent By: @mail.house.gov
Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama
Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan
Deadline Extended: Wednesday, Dec. 5
Current signers (70): Lee, Jones, McGovern, Adam Smith, Conyers, Grijalva, Kucinich, Woolsey, Holt, Rangel, Slaughter, DeFazio, Olver, Watt, Hanabusa, Rick Larsen, Campbell, Velazquez, Serrano, Sires, Honda, Rush, Loebsack, Lujan, Tsongas, Ellison, Barney Frank, Welch, Schakowsky, Blumenauer, Chu, Quigley, Christensen, John Lewis, Chris Murphy, Mike Thompson, Sarbanes, Markey, McDermott, Towns, Richardson, Cohen, Farr, Waters, Nadler, Stark, Norton, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Michaud, Hahn, Gutierrez, Braley, Speier, McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Garamendi, Moore, Alcee Hastings, Bonamici, Kaptur, Pingree, Edwards, Bass, Polis, Lofgren, Tierney, George Miller, John Duncan, Hank Johnson, Keating, Capps, Cicilline.
Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) by an overwhelming bipartisan 62-33 majority calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan. I invite you to read this AP article analyzing this groundbreaking vote.
The momentum to end the war and bring our troops home is building, but there are still those working to prolong the war. With the Pentagon due to present alternate long-term option on Afghanistan to the President in the coming weeks, it is critical that Congress catch up with the American people who have long realized that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.
We invite you to become a co-signer to the letter below to President Obama, calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, believe it is time to bring a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan.
To join as a co-signer, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office at 5-2661 or @mail.house.gov.
Barbara Lee Walter Jones
Member of Congress Member of Congress
December 5, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Your military advisors will soon be providing you with a set of military options in Afghanistan. We are writing to urge you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that best serves the interests of the American people and our brave troops on the ground. That strategy is simple: an accelerated withdrawal to bring to an end the decade-long war as soon as can safely and responsibly be accomplished.
After 10 years and almost $600 billion spent, over 2,000 American lives lost, and 18,000 wounded - it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. While NATO and Afghan National Security Forces have made considerable strides, no military strategy exists and morale has been undermined by the proliferation of “Green on Blue” attacks. Sixty coalition soldiers have been killed this year alone by their Afghan allies. To quote a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, “When our friends turn out to be our enemy, it is time to pull the plug.”
This is one issue that overwhelmingly unifies Americans: the desire to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated close. Polls show over two-thirds of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, believe it is past time to end our combat role and bring the troops home.
We write to request that you respond to the consensus amongst military experts, diplomats, and the American people. It is time to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and to bring our troops home as soon as can be safely and responsibly accomplished.
Al Qaeda’s presence has been greatly diminished and Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States. There can be no military solution in Afghanistan. It is past time for the United States to allow the Afghanistan government to assume responsibility for its own security.
While many of us would prefer an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan starting today, there is broad recognition that the primary objectives have been completed. We also would like to remind you that any long term security agreement committing U.S. troops to the defense of Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding. In addition, we would like to request a meeting to discuss these issues directly with you and your staff.
We look forward to working with you.
If you want to nonviolently shut down Congress next year, you'll more than likely find Congress not at home, unless you plan ahead. Here's their "work" schedule:
KPFK 'BradCast': On Ending, Not Mending, the Filibuster; FL GOP Voter Suppression; Climate Change and Denialism
On my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show today we covered quite a bit of ground.
From Republican admissions about the most obvious story in the world (that the Florida GOP was attempting to suppress the vote this year), to the debate over filibuster reform in the U.S. Senate, and whether it should be mended, ended, or none of the above, with David Swanson (his vote: end it!), to the latest Green News Report and a remarkable piece of audio tape from a (now former?) Bill O'Reilly fan who saw the new documentary Chasing Ice and is pissed that she's been so misled by O'Reilly and Fox "News" about climate change for so many years...
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx. 58 mins]...
Kucinich, Paul and Holt Introduce Bipartisan Resolution to Compel White House to Release Legal Justification for Drone Strikes
Washington D.C. (November 28, 2012) – Congressmen Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rush Holt Jr. (D-NJ) today introduced H. Res. 819, a resolution of inquiry to compel the Administration to release documents which it reportedly uses as the legal justification for the use of drones to assassinate people abroad, including United States citizens, without trial. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, our drone strikes have killed more than 3,000 people including as many as 1,105 innocent civilians since 2002.
“We must reject the notion that protecting our national security requires revoking the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. No President can act as judge, jury and executioner, and any attempt to do so is in direct violation of our Constitution which gives our citizens a right to life and a fair trial.
“According to a memorandum prepared by the White House Office of Legal Counsel, when the United States conducts such an attack it is legal. The Congress and the American people have a right to know this legal framework. Congress has an obligation as the sole authority under the Constitution to declare war to know how the use of force abroad is being used, especially against U.S. citizens,” said Kucinich.
Congressman Kucinich today introduced a Resolution of Inquiry, a resolution used to compel information from the White House, which, if passed, would require the White House to make the Office of Legal Counsel memo available to Congress.
“Our strikes are creating a legal precedent that the world will emulate. From Iran to China, other nations are very close to developing comparable technology. If Congress doesn’t act to ensure proper oversight and legal authority for the use of this technology, the consequences could be dire for the American people,” said Kucinich.
See a copy of the legislation here. Under the parliamentary procedure of a Resolution of Inquiry, the resolution must be sent to committee and considered under expedited rules.
Liberal groups have been organizing protests of the looming "grand bargain" (a bargain between two political parties aimed at saving us from the fictional "fiscal cliff" by giving more of our money to the super-rich and the war machine). But they've been doing so only in Republican Congressional districts and with messages placing all the blame on "the Republicans," thus telegraphing the message that all shall be tolerated if labeled "Democratic."
We're supposed to be against a bargain, but only against one of the two partners to the bargain. Any bets on how well that'll work?
Meanwhile Obama's senior advisor David Plouffe hypes the danger of the "fiscal cliff," calls for lower corporate taxes and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, but says not one word about military spending. He also claims to want to end tax cuts for the wealthy but is much more passionate about the danger of ending those cuts across the board, suggesting -- as did Obama's statements and silences at his first post-election press conference -- that the White House will not in the end refuse to extend the "Bush" tax cuts for everyone, including the multi-billionaires -- just as it's done before. At the same press conference, Obama volunteered that we need "deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes."
Liberal groups have written to the president politely suggesting what they'd like, but with nothing in the way of consequences if they don't get it. And what they'd like is slightly higher taxes on the super-rich, and no cuts to Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. Or else . . . or else . . . they'll be sadly loyal until death do them part.
Neither Plouffe nor Obama nor any liberal activist group mentions that half of discretionary spending goes into war preparations. None proposes to raise corporate taxes, restore the estate tax, remove the cap on Social Security taxes, tax financial transactions and capital gains, tax carbon emissions, massively and urgently invest in green energy jobs, or cut the $1.3 trillion war preparations budget in half.
We are not broke. We are being robbed.
I get emails every day now on the "This isn't what we voted for" theme. "TPP is not what we voted for." "Drone kills are not what we voted for." As if you can ignore the candidate's platform and vote for your own fantasy under his name, and then "pressure" him to become what you fantasized even while swearing your allegiance to his party come hell or high water or hurricanes. Well, guess what, the Grand Bargain is what Democrats and Republicans voted for. But that doesn't mean we have to stand for it. Having voted against it wouldn't have stopped it. Only getting out of our houses and nonviolently resisting it now will stop it.
The peace movement is ready to take to the streets and the suites, but worried that it doesn't have the size to do the job. Of course it does have the size to start something big if it merely finds the determination. But imagine what could happen if Tahrir Square inspired us all again and more seriously, and with four years rather than two years to work with before the next debilitation by the latest "Most Important Election of Your Lifetime." Imagine if liberal organizations and labor unions openly recognized where all the public money is (in the war machine) and demanded it for useful purposes.
The peace movement is in favor of everything they're in favor of: the right to organize, civil liberties, an end to for-profit prisons and drug wars and racism, affordable housing, a living wage, education, healthcare, and a sustainable environment. The enemy of these things is the military industrial complex, and if it remains beyond challenge, a just society will remain unachievable. When Dr. King opposed "racism, extreme materialism, and militarism," he didn't mean for us to ignore the third one. He didn't mean for us to imagine that the three were separable and that we could oppose one or two of them effectively without opposing the combination.
Let's stop obediently opposing the worst bits of a Grand Catastrophe and begin denouncing and resisting the whole charade, replacing it with a grand vision of our own devising. RootsAction.org, created just last year, is already approaching 200,000 active members, and has been flooding Congress and the President with this message:
"Here's a grand bargain we want: expand Medicare and Social Security, invest in green energy, raise taxes on the rich and corporations, and cut military spending back to the level of 12 years ago."
The message is editable, meaning that you can and should add your own comments. I encourage everyone to do so, to ask friends to do so, and to be preparing for serious nonviolent action.
By Dave Lindorff
What if the leaders of the United States -- and by leaders I mean the generals in the Pentagon, the corporate executives of the country’s largest enterprises, and the top officials in government -- have secretly concluded that while world-wide climate change is indeed going to be catastrophic, the US, or more broadly speaking, North America, is fortuitously situated to come out on top in the resulting global struggle for survival?
By Dave Lindorff
Run a google search of “World Bank” and “climate change” and you’ll discover that this month the World Bank released a major study predicting a global “cataclysm” if world-wide temperatures increase by a predicted four degrees celsius (that’s roughly 8 degrees fahrenheit).