December 26, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports the Roane County, Tennessee Coal ash spill is much larger than initially estimated.

    A coal ash spill that blanketed residential neighborhoods and contaminated nearby rivers in Roane County, Tenn., earlier this week is more than three times larger than initially estimated, the Tennessee Valley Authority said on Thursday.

    Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal, contains toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium that can cause cancer and neurological problems.

    Authority officials initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond breached, but on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep. The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the Authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards…

    The spill occurred at the Kingston Fossil Plant, one of the authority’s largest electrical generating sites, located on the banks of the Emory River about 40 miles west of Knoxville.

Four at Four continues with a prison revolt in Iraq, CIA’s drug dealing in Afghanistan, and escalating tensions in Pakistan and India.

Bad Pragmatism pt. V: Reconstituting Capitalism

The various outrages over the “bailout” typically imagine it as a species of robbery — but what needs to be seen here is that the “bailout” is an attempt to “reconstitute capitalism” given the threat to it (see the Economist editorial “Capitalism at bay“) which was prompted by the deflation of the credit bubble and the current economic crisis.  If we look at the “bailout” with a sober, steady focus upon its meaning in political economy, we see it, and the capitalism it is reconstituting, for what it really is: a system of domination, where an investor class gets “bailed out” whereas the rest of us are viewed as being lucky to find work and are supposed to be placated through “jobs programs.”

(Crossposted at Big Orange)

How I woke up

All of this talk about Rick Warren has taken me down a road of nostalgia. You see, there was a time that Warren would have been a hero of mine, (I’ll duck for awhile now) and it wasn’t in the beginning of my journey to wake up.

I went off to a fundamentalist christian college in about 1974 and was completely wrapped up in all the dogma I had been raised with. My awakening started there with an attraction to more liberal politics and tackling racism. That’s where I lived for years. I still held on to those evangelical positions about abortion and homosexuality. But the seeds for the rest of awakening were being planted all the same.

In college I was a transfer student because I’d done my first two years at other institutions. I never really “fit in” with the crowd and ended up finding a “home” with a group of women who were the athletes on campus. I had always been drawn to sports and might have been an athlete myself if I’d grow up in a time and place where girls could do something other than be the cheerleaders.  

The Ticking Time Bomb and Torture Apologists

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Both Greenwald and Booman have pieces up on torture. Which is of course the subject of The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes. Both highlight the arguments FOR torture by folks who can only be classified as morally confused torture apologists, arguing that torture is necessary under certain circumstances. Booman, Greenwald and I all seem to think that War Crimes are called War Crimes for a reason, but these folks seem to be saying that War Crimes are okay under extreme conditions….such as… war.

Ignoring that the whole point of having a specific set of moral codes and treaties and laws dealing specifically with those circumstances exist, and have been violated. One is tempted to even go so fr as to call them Holocaust deniers, since it was after those terrible events that it became obvious that a clear set of laws was needed so that men in time of war were not lead into those same temptations.

The most cited excuse for torture is of course the (as far as we know) completely mythical Ticking Time Bomb Scenario. Wherein through some vast set of coincidences you have in custody someone who knows of an urgently imminent attack that will kill a theoretically unacceptable amount of hypothetical people and the only way to prevent there possible demise is to torture information out of the person who has been miraculously put in your power at just the right time. Mythical, because no one anywhere has ever pointed to a specific, verifiable situation where this far-fetched scenario has actually occurred.

Yet the torture apologists constantly harp on this scenario, ostensibly one must think, for the purpose of stretching this supposedly moral point to excuse ALL of the torture that has been done in our name.

Even though none of that torture fits the mythical scenario, and ignoring the fact that any human being tortured (as has been well documented in any serious study on torture) will tell the torturers whatever the hell they want to hear….to get the torture to stop. They will…gasp…lie or invent facts to satisfy the torturers.

But most incredibly, the torture apologists use the Ticking Time Bomb Scenario to argue against having laws and penalties for torture.

I would like to ask Mort Kondracke (the subject of Booman’s piece) one question: If you were the intelligence officer in question and could save these hypothetical thousands of lives…but had to break a law to do so and suffer the consequences of that law….if you were certain that torturing would prevent that terrible loss of life….would you NOT voluntarily suffer any and all legal consequence?

In other words…if you could save thousands of lives…but might have to go to jail for it, would you then decline to torture to get that information? Or is that hypothetical moral choice so unclear that a law to prevent the more ‘casual’ use of torture stop you from saving those lives?

That choice NEVER occurred.

But would you let the fact that others had been tried for torture in lesser circumstances dictate that moral choice for you?

That choice NEVER occurred.

And yet the Bush Administartion still developed and extensively used a huge, nearly industrial, network of secret prisons, rendition flights, and methods that are clearly and unequivocally recognized as torture. With FAR less motivation than any Ticking Time Bomb.

They should be tried and punished to the full extent of the law. And the only thing preventing that is the patently false and morally bankrupt excuses of the torture apologists.

A Coal Day in Hell

God works in Mysterious Ways

Right as they are on the brink of selling “Clean Coal Technology” to the American Public, Kingston Tennessee gets buried in 300 million tonnes of coal sludge. Its now in the watershed.

Have a nice fucking day, morons. Nothing like cadmium in your water cocktail with a nice fat lead stick to swizzle it and a sprinkle of mercury bits on the brown foam topping.

For the sake of a job, you have been poisoning yourselves, your children and grandchildren for a hundred years. How long will the denizens of Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky put up with Coal Mining not only for its irresponsible lack of environmental control, when will they figure out its just a bad overall idea, plain and simple?

Whether or not you believe in God, this is one of those moments where you have to think “Instant Karma” and think it a grand scale wake the fuck up call.

“Clean” coal is like saying “Dry” rain.

Proof of both is now soaking the Earth.

Secret Ingredient

Wrote this a year or so ago and thought I’d share it here, as there ought to be at least one Chanukah essay!

Prose poem, title is “Secret Ingredient”

Chanukah began at sundown on the winter solstice this year, December 21.  It’s a story of great loss and great faith.

Open Thread


Save big! On clearance thread.

Feed the Soul.

Cross posted at The Big Orange

I was reading the diary by Kestrel9000  a minute ago and was reminded again of the tragic realities that much of humanity is suffering through.  We continue to survive under the system of worldwide corporate oppression where human beings are regarded only as variables of their profit equations, and if your place on their spreadsheets is determined to be of no value to them, you are allowed to be starved, ignored, exploited for political gain, and blamed for your own condition. Your lands and resources will be stolen, at best you can look forward to a life of abject poverty and isolation from your cultural history, subjugated to your corporate overlords profit margins, and cast away like a worn out shoe when they have exacted every penny they can from you and your people. Perhaps people will wake up and see that the line between Corporations and Governments no longer exists in any meaningful way. They are one and the same.

Perhaps a look at the wisdom of the elders is in order.

When all the trees have been cut down,

when all the animals have been hunted,

when all the waters are polluted,

when all the air is unsafe to breathe,

only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

Cree Prophecy

Docudharma Times Friday December 26

Remember That It Isn’t

Only America That Is Effected

By The Economic Meltdown

Friday’s Headlines:

The danger of DNA: It isn’t perfect

China begins anti-piracy mission

Japan’s industrial output plunges

Army readies for ‘limited’ Gaza action as 22 mortars hit Negev

In Mosul, Iraqi Christians Brave the Violence to Celebrate Christmas

Zimbabwe’s Main Opposition Calls for Police Commissioner’s Resignation

Caught between hope and fear in Zimbabwe

A Private Feud Turns Into a National Issue

An underground fortress of silence is breached

Firms Charge Thousands To Modify Mortgages

Nonprofits Offer Service For Free, Advocates Say

By Renae Merle

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, December 26, 2008; Page A01

A growing industry has emerged to take advantage of the unprecedented wave of foreclosures, charging distressed homeowners for help negotiating better loan terms — a service provided for free or for a nominal fee by many nonprofits.

Such companies charge $500 to $2,500 or more and are drawing the ire of consumer advocates, regulators and lenders, who say many are just the latest version of foreclosure rescue scams and can make it more difficult for homeowners to get help.

“You don’t need to go out and hire someone to help you,” said Michael Gross, managing director of mortgage servicing for Bank of America.

In a Teeming French City, Safe Harbor at the Movies


Published: December 25, 2008

MARSEILLE, France – Marseille prides itself on being a port city, a rough melting pot of differences rather like its signature dish, bouillabaisse, which combines various fish, some very expensive and some considered just a cut above trash.

Some of the toughest districts in France’s second-largest city are in the hills above L’Estaque, which inspired Braque and Cézanne. But poverty is high, drug use is common and resentments run deep.

Samia Ghali, 40, is the new Socialist mayor of these districts, or arrondissements, with nearly 100,000 constituents. Of Algerian descent herself – like roughly a quarter of Marseille’s 826,700 people – she is consumed by the economic crisis washing over France and its poor, and she is convinced that these neighborhoods are going to burn.



Expansion of Clinics Shapes a Bush Legacy


Published: December 25, 2008

NASHVILLE – Although the number of uninsured and the cost of coverage have ballooned under his watch, President Bush leaves office with a health care legacy in bricks and mortar: he has doubled federal financing for community health centers, enabling the creation or expansion of 1,297 clinics in medically underserved areas.

For those in poor urban neighborhoods and isolated rural areas, including Indian reservations, the clinics are often the only dependable providers of basic services like prenatal care, childhood immunizations, asthma treatments, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

As a crucial component of the health safety net, they are lauded as a cost-effective alternative to hospital emergency rooms, where the uninsured and underinsured often seek care.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning



Your anger

does not become you

There is no joy

in viewing it

experiencing it

I refused

to participate

so it was only

a matter of time

until you turned on me

So I walked away

like I have

done before

I’ve always been

very good at that

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 17, 2008

Distress: December 26th 1971 and December 26th 2008

Back on December 26th 2006 I put together a post, for my site and a few others, in remembrance of an anniversary of a day my fellow Vietnam Veterans made a statement to our country, a statement of a Country in  Distress, Our Country!

A shoutout about not only our War of Choice but what our society was going through, Civil Rights Movement, care of the returning Vets, civil disobedience for the many failed policies, and more, the statement wasn’t really taken seriously except by the minority, as is usually the case, the country itself just dug deeper into it’s apathy and never came to terms with our War and Occupation and still hasn’t!

December 26, 1971

Two dozen members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War “liberated” the Statue of Liberty with a sit-in to protest resumed U.S. aerial bombings in Vietnam. They flew an inverted U.S. flag from the crown as a signal of distress.

Investigation vs Conspiracy Theory

There is a phrase in American culture that has taken on a dynamic unto itself — conspiracy theory.  As far as I can tell, it started with Roswell and that the government was hiding alien bodies, though, nobody could ever prove it.  

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