Happy Birthday, Sister.
Today is Martin Luther King Day. Not only is it a good day to remember the man, his mission and his achievements, it’s a good day to observe and remember what happened to those influential activists who work for peace and equality, Gandhi, King, Kennedy, Lennon , to name the more famous. It’s also a good time to remember those who have supported and helped the peace killers.
In April, 1968, at the age of 39, Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The commonly held view of the assassination is that it was (another one) committed by a ‘lone gunman’. James Earl Ray, an escaped prisoner from the Missouri State Penitentiary was arrested at Heathrow Airport in Britain, extradited to the US and tried for the murder of Dr King. He pleaded guilty, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
What many people don’t know is that in 1998 there was a trial, King v. Jowers and Other Unnamed Coconspirators.
Loyd Jowers was the owner of the bar outside of which the assassin fired the fatal bullet. Racked with guilt, Jowers made a late life confession of his involvement in the MLK assassination. After hearing 70 witnesses testify over the course of one month, the 12-member jury took only one hour of deliberation to find the Memphis police and elements of the US government, among others, guilty of conspiracy in King’s assassination. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) results of the trial are available here. The case overview states “in King v. Jowers, a recent civil suit in a Tennessee state court, a jury returned a verdict finding that Jowers and unnamed others, including unspecified government agencies, participated in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King.”
Here’s a list of just some of the overwhelming evidence of government complicity introduced in this trial and validated in the jury’s guilty verdict:
“We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” — Coretta Scott King, King Family Press Conference
The reason many don’t know of the trial and the information that was revealed in it is because it was completely censored by the media. US corporate media did not cover the trial or interview the King family, and textbooks omit this information.
“Apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect, scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on. After critical testimony was given in the trial’s second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, “Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson’s trial was the trial of the century. Clinton’s trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who’s here?” – Journalist and author James Douglass ( http://ctka.net/pr500-king.html )
The King family believes the government’s motivation to assassinate Dr King was to prevent his imminent effort to camp in and occupy Washington, D.C. until the Vietnam War was ended and the war’s resources were redirected to end poverty and invest in US infrastructure.
Barry Zweiker summarizes the case in this six-minute video.
The following is a story written by Alexander Calandra, professor emeritus of physical science in physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University. In it he points out a very common error in which everyone easily gets trapped, blindly following what we are taught, which we accepted as correct. This tendency prevents us being constantly alert and applying critical thinking towards “normal” statements we receive as information.
This kind of mental indolence is very dangerous because it doesn’t reflect any criticism to what the person is told to believe. In its extreme manifestation it can reach points of inhuman behaviour, like the ones during tyrannical governments that unfortunately happened, and still happen, in our history.
Some time ago I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student. The instructor and the student agreed to submit this to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.
I went to my colleague’s office and read the examination question, “Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer.”
The student had answered, “Take a barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.”
I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, if full credit was given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question. I was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did.
I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said no. He had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute he dashed off his answer which read, “Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop that barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then using the formula S = 1/2at2, calculate the height of the building.”
At this point I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and I gave the student almost full credit.
In leaving my colleague’s office, I recalled that the student had said he had many other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. “Oh yes,” said the student. “There are a great many ways of getting the height of a tall building with a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer and the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building and by the use of a simple proportion, determine the height of the building.”
“Fine,” I asked. “And the others?”
“Yes,” said the student.” There is a very basic measurement method that you will like. In this method you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units. A very direct method.”
“Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of ‘g’ at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference of the two values of ‘g’ the height of the building can be calculated.”
Finally, he concluded, there are many other ways of solving the problem. “Probably the best,” he said, “is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent’s door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows,
‘Mr. Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you tell me the height of this building, I will give you this barometer.’”
At this point I asked the student if he really did know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, and said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think, using the “scientific method”… 
Notes  Alexander Calandra. Current Science. XLIV, 14, 49.
Projected posts on the subject of veganism and the hidden costs of the animal industries have been somewhat delayed. In the interim, this post from the excellent Meatonomic$ blog gives an overview of the environmental issues involved.
By Robert Goodland
Climatic change is fearsome. The National Academy of Sciences published a study in 2013 explaining how 1,700 American cities – including New York, Boston, and Miami – will become locked into some amount of submersion from rising sea levels unless expensive new dykes and levees can hold back the rising waters. In fact, the International Energy Agency has warned that major action by 2017 may be the last real chance to reverse climate change before it’s too late.
Elsewhere, the last chance for major action is said to be 2020. Even with that more generous timeframe, it’s too late to reverse climate change by replacing fossil fuel infrastructure with renewable energy infrastructure. That’s because doing so is estimated to require at least 20 years to implement at the necessary scale. Indeed, large-scale implementation of renewable energy infrastructure was the general basis for the Kyoto Protocol when it was drafted in 1990. But the Kyoto Protocol did not yield a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as intended; to the contrary, global greenhouse gas emissions have risen shockingly by 61% from 1990 to 2013.
Gestation_crates_5Now, there seems to be only one remaining pragmatic way to reverse climate change before it’s too late – and that’s by taking quick and large-scale actions in food, agriculture, and forestry. When Jeff Anhang and I estimated in 2009 that at least 51% of human-induced greenhouse gas is attributable to livestock, we calculated that replacing 25% of today’s livestock products with better alternatives could almost fully achieve the objective of the Kyoto Protocol.
However, as greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric carbon have continued to rise, now almost 50% of today’s livestock products must be replaced with better alternatives by 2017 – or by 2020 at the latest – in order to achieve the objective of the Kyoto Protocol and avert catastrophic climate change. No other pragmatic worldwide action to reverse climate change has been proposed by anyone.
One reason why worldwide action is needed is that climate change is one of a relatively small number of environmental issues that are transboundary. This means that greenhouse emissions and atmospheric carbon don’t respect borders – so a molecule of carbon dioxide emitted in China can affect someone anywhere in the United States just as much as it will affect someone in Beijing.
The transboundary nature of climate change means that everyone in the United States could go vegan with virtually no climatic benefit if the consumption of livestock products continues to increase in China and elsewhere. In other words, it’s as important to be concerned about what happens with food and climate change elsewhere as it is to be concerned about what happens with food and climate change in the United States.
In fact, the average global concentration of atmospheric carbon continues to increase after it recently rose above 400 parts per million, far above the safe level of 350 parts per million. The only known way to draw down atmospheric carbon on a large scale in a relatively short timeframe is by growing more trees, which is uniquely possible through our recommendations. That’s because replacing a substantial amount of today’s livestock products with better alternatives will free up a vast amount of land to permit large-scale reforestation and greenhouse gas sequestration – at the same time as it will massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributable to livestock production.
The dual benefits of reducing emissions and absorbing atmospheric carbon on a large scale at the same time are the key aspect of what makes our recommendations the only pragmatic way to reverse climate change before it’s too late.
To be clear about what we mean by “better alternatives” to livestock products: We mean everything from grain-based meats to soy milk, nut butters, as well as whole grains and legumes. This is because any food that comes directly from a plant rather than from livestock will generally be responsible for a much lower level of greenhouse gas emissions than are livestock products.
We recommend against framing what’s needed as less “meat” and less “milk,” in part because producers of vegan foods often use terms such as “grain-based meat” and “hemp milk.” Moreover, dictionaries define “meat” and “milk” as essential food products that include vegan versions. So we suggest that it is not the soundest of strategies to cede the terms “milk” and “meat” to livestock producers, and to press people to sacrifice those items. Indeed, the livestock industry perceives that consumers see milk as such an essential beverage that some livestock producers have filed lawsuits to prevent vegan food producers from using the term “milk.”
One of the reasons to focus attention on livestock and feed production is that such production is estimated to occupy 45% percent of all land on earth – that’s all land, both arable and non-arable, including ice caps and mountaintops. Most of the land used for livestock and feed production was once forested, and can be forested again. In fact, there is documented potential for agricultural change to bring atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial revolution levels within five years.
To provide as much scientific information on this as possible, we’ve developed a website where we’ve posted updated versions of our assessment and links to many prominent citations of our work (and our site has attracted a lot of attention since its high-profile launch, which was reported on by Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday campaign).
For decades, activists have urged that people reduce their consumption of livestock products in order to reduce environmental impacts in general, to be more compassionate to animals, and to improve human health – yet global consumption of animal-based foods has risen dramatically, instead of falling.
In contrast, emergencies normally motivate major action – and since major action to reverse climate change is said to be needed by 2017 or no later than 2020, activists may find it most compelling and effective to cite reversing climate change as the key goal for people to act upon. Indeed, there is surely no more compelling motivation to act than the knowledge that replacing livestock products with better alternatives may be the only pragmatic way to stop catastrophic climate change from imperiling much of life on earth.
 The late, renowned ecologist Robert Goodland served as Lead Environmental Adviser at the World Bank Group, after being hired as its first full-time professional ecologist. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Goodland co-authored (with Jeff Anhang) the ground-breaking study finding that livestock is responsible for at least 51% of human-induced greenhouse gases. This article is excerpted and edited from the last public presentation made by Dr. Goodland (in September 2013).