May 7, 2009 archive

Book Review: Environmentalism in Popular Culture

This is a review of Noel Sturgeon’s (2009) Environmentalism in Popular Culture, an interesting book of feminist cultural criticism.  Environmentalism in Popular Culture offers the most readily-accessible critique of an American mythology of the environment that I’ve read yet.  Though it makes some rather quick connections between its identity politics categories and environmental analysis, it maintains the reader’s interest throughout.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports Refugees fleeing Swat Valley tell of Taliban crimes and abuses. “As the refugees begin streaming out of Swat and the neighboring Buner district in northwest Pakistan, they carry with them memories of the indignities and horrors inflicted by occupying Taliban forces — locking women inside their homes, setting donkeys on fire — as they tried to force residents to accept a radical version of Islam.”

    Refugees from Bruner, recently captured by the Taliban, say they are “especially vulnerable to Taliban attacks… The district is famous for its Sufi shrines, where people practice a mystical form of Islam that is anathema to the fundamentalist Sunni Taliban. In addition, residents formed militias to resist the Taliban last year”.

    DAWN Media reports “A mass exodus continued from Buner district on Thursday amid intense artillery shelling by the security forces targeting militant positions on the tenth consecutive day.”

    The NY Times reports the Red Cross warns of crisis in Pakistan.

    In a statement on Thursday, the Red Cross said that, “although figures remain unverifiable at this stage, reports indicated that up to 500,000 Pakistanis have been recently displaced by conflict in Dir, Buner and Swat.”

    The statement said a humanitarian crisis “is intensifying.”

    Benno Kocher, a Red Cross official in Peshawar, was quoted as saying: “We can no longer reach the areas most affected by the fighting on account of the volatile situation.”

    DAWN Media reports the Foreign Ministry says concern about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is ‘invalid’. “Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit Pakistan has refuted US media reports that it has shared information about its nukes with US authorities saying that information about its nukes is sacrosanct and can not be shared with any country. ‘Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe and secure and concerns about their security are invalid,’ said Basit.”

    Meanwhile, Defense War Secretary Robert Gates praises Pakistan response to Taliban push, reports Reuters. Gates believes the “Taliban militants had ‘overreached’ by attacking the Buner district of Pakistan, coming within dozens of kilometres of the capital Islamabad.

    “I think it has served as an alarm for the Pakistani government that these violent extremists in the western part of Pakistan are a significant danger to the government of Pakistan,” he said.

    “I personally have been very satisfied with the strong response that the Pakistani government and army have taken in response to this.”

    Gates also said he thought there was “very little chance” of the Taliban being able to seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

    MSNBC reports Gates promising U.S. troops won’t be sent to Pakistan. “Speaking to about 300 Marines at Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, Gates assured them that they wouldn’t be fighting in the neighboring sovereign nation. During a 12-minute question-and-answer session in sweltering heat, Gates told a sergeant he didn’t have to ‘worry about going to Pakistan.'”

    On top of Gates’ remarks, McClatchy reports Obama pledges ‘commitment’ to Afghan, Pakistan leaders.

    President Barack Obama Wednesday pledged a “lasting commitment” by the U.S. to the democratic governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan after an unusual three-way meeting that ended with promises but no concrete agreements.

    Flanked by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama told reporters that both men “fully appreciate the seriousness of the threat we face” from Islamic extremists. He didn’t invite either visitor to speak, however, and both appeared ill at ease.

    Zardari told Spiegel that ‘Nuclear Weapons Are Not Kalashnikovs’ and doubts the Taliban could use them if they captured the weapons. “The technology is complicated, so it is not as if one little Taliban could come down and press a button. There is no little button. I want to assure the world that the nuclear capability of Pakistan is in safe hands,” he said.

    Reuters reports Pakistan hopes the United States will halt drone attacks. Pakistan “says the drones violate its sovereignty and undermine efforts to deal with militancy by inflaming public anger and bolstering militant support.”

    For its part, Afghans protest civilian deaths as U.S. officials raise doubts, according to the LA Times.

    Angry anti-American protests erupted today in a provincial capital close to a string of desert villages where dozens of Afghan civilians were killed this week during clashes between insurgents and U.S.-led troops.

    U.S. military officials, meanwhile, expressed growing doubts that the deaths in the Bala Baluk district of western Farah province were the result of airstrikes called in by American special forces. Instead, they said preliminary findings suggested that the villagers sheltering in residential compounds were slain by Taliban fighters wielding grenades. Local officials contested that theory.

    The NY Times adds Afghan police fire on protesters. “Chanting ‘Death to America’ and hurling rocks, hundreds gathered Thursday in western Afghanistan to protest American airstrikes… In the main city of Farah province, protesters gathered at a police station and the local governor’s office, chanting slogans against the American and Afghan governments, witnesses reported… Outside the governor’s office, police opened fire on stone-throwing protesters and wounded three of them.”

Four at Four continues with Guantanamo documents set to be destroyed, an update from Iraq, stress tests and America’s big lie, and China ready for climate change deal while centrist Democrats in the U.S. House are not.

ACORN And Burger King And Glenn Beck, Oh My

Glenn Beck’s program on Fox News is a daily cavalcade of crazy and yesterday was no exception. Beck’s guest was Scott Levenson, the national spokesman for ACORN. As ACORN is a perennial target of Fox News paranoiacs like Beck, there was bound to be a major train wreck looming. And Beck didn’t disappoint (video).

The occasion for the visit was a recent report that ACORN employees in Nevada had been charged with violations related to voter registration. This is where panicky right wingers rush to mischaracterize such charges as voter fraud, when in fact, none occurred. So Beck was true to form as he asserted the same old tired lies in his signature juvenile style – substituting funny faces and noises for rational debate.

The real comedy came when Beck attempted to offer an analogy that was ludicrous on its face. Levenson defended ACORN as a victim of employees who failed to comply with the organization’s standards. Beck sought to argue that ACORN was responsible for the misbehavior of their employees and ran a tape of the infamous Burger King bather (who had his buddies shoot a video of him bathing in the restaurant’s sink) to make a point that must have made sense somewhere in his cartoon brain.

Actually, Beck’s point had something to do with ACORN’s management being deficient because fourteen or so ACORN employees, out of some 13,000, were alleged to have submitted fake registration forms. Beck contended that this proves it was not a case of a rogue employee, but an unacceptable pattern of malfeasance. And after telling Levenson to “pipe down” and cutting off his mic, Beck said:

“If you had that many employees at Burger King bathing in the sink, would you ever eat a burger there? Ever? No. This is unreasonable to believe he had that many bad employees.”

Well, I did a quick Google search looking for criminally wayward Burger King employees and found this:

  • Burger King employee arrested in homicide
  • Burger King employee arrested for giving away free meals, stealing
  • Burger King Employee Arrested After Jumping Through Drive-Up Window to Attack a Customer
  • Burger King employee arrested for serving pot
  • Burger King employee arrested for alleged identity theft
  • Ex-Employee, Pal Arrested in Burger King Kidnap Case
  • Burger King employees arrested for faking robbery
  • Coke Being Sold At Burger King
  • Burger King Franchise Pays $400,000 for Alleged Sexual Harassment of teens
  • 27 illegal aliens working at seven Delaware Burger Kings

Granted murder, drugs, robbery, etc., are not exactly in the same league as unlawful bathing, but some people might consider those to be serious offenses too. It should also be noted that the Burger King violators represent only those with the sort of criminal profile likely to be written up in the news. There are surely corporate personnel who have engaged in more mundane activities ranging from pilfering office supplies to extortion or other financial improprieties.

Only The Village Still Cares What Republicans Think

They have not just become the Party Of No….they have become the Party Of No One Cares.

Except for the pundits, talking heads, spin masters, and overly insulated “makers of opinion” in The Beltway Village.

And that is only because they have made their living for the last eight (to forty) years supporting, enabling and licking the boots of the most powerful…..but wrongest….politicians in DC.

One must admit that they are impressive. As we have watched them stretch, contort, morph and pretezelize themselves and any principles or integrity they might have at one time had in order to pander to and excuse a group of stupid incompetent, hate and fear filled old white men as they ruined everything and plunged us into a moral abyss, one cannot help but marvel at their…..flexibility.

Of course it helps, as they have obviously learned, to just not think to much.

And with Bush in power, they didn’t have to.

It would be different if they were actually doing the jobs that they were supposed to do. To analyze and critique and ultimately to hold accountable those in power, in the most powerful and dangerous country on earth.

But that, to their limited minds, is not their job. Their job is keeping their job. To keep their job they have to convince people that they are valuable. To be a valuable Villager, you need access. To have and keep access you need to have favor. The favor of the aforementioned stupid incompetent, hate and fear filled old white men.

In this case, in the travesty of the last eight years of war, torture, intolerance, financial corruption and collapse which they so ably enabled, their job became very easy.

Which is the only reason they could do it at all well.

Frank Luntz and Karl Rove would basically do their homework for them, and then all they had to do was copy it out in what amounts to their own handwriting and then…..they could go to lunch. Secure in the fact that their jobs were secure.

This is good news and bad news, for the people like us who actually…… About more than lunch.

The bad news is the last eight years.

Thanks guys, how is your veal?

The good news is that after a few more months of grinding the stiff and rusty and nearly unused clutches and gears in their atrophied and besotted “brains”….they will start to do the same thing when it comes to Obama. One day soon they will wake up….we fervently hope…and see which side of the bread the butter is on and will reluctantly start to enable Obama in the same sycophantic job preserving manner they did with Bush. Rocking the boat just gets you wet, if you are a Villager. They will morph again.

The bad…BAD news in all of this is that there is another group of people, even more corrupt, if you can imagine that, who also no longer cares what the Party of No On Cares thinks.


As Senator Durbin recently said in a fit of frustration that led to a rare spasm of honesty in a politician….The banks own the Senate.

But of course…it is not just the banks. It is all of the industries that have something to lose if the government is taken away from the corporate interests….The Ruling Class….and given back to the People.

The Insurance companies that are fighting health care own the Senate. The Pollution lobby that is fighting the fight against saving the planet owns the Senate. The Military Industrial Complex that is fighting against peace owns the Senate. And they will now turn their sights away from the ineffective and powerless Republicans and set them on the Blue Dogs and the unscrupulous politicians. And it will work. Because just like the Villagers, the politicians just want to keep their jobs too, also.

So now the lobbyists will be targeting Democrats, and since money is what makes politics run and what allows politicians to keep their jobs….they will succeed.

THAT is the bad news. And that is the next fight to save our government, to save the planet, and to bring about peace.

Public Financing, REAL lobbying reform, exposing the corruption that we all know lies just below the surface. we need to take the steps that will buy our government back from the lobbyists and ensure that our politicians work for Us not Them.

The Republicanos es Muerte, and the upcoming torture investigations (that we still need to pressure for) will be the nail in their coffin. Conservatism is bankrupt. The next step in saving the planet building a new world upon it is defeating the corporate interests, the Villagers who enable them, and striking fear into the hearts of the politicians who go wherever the wind…and by wind I mean money….blows. It will be easy to spot them….THEY will now be the ones saying NO to Progress, and saying yes to the lobbyists lucre.

Gird your loins, sharpen your swords and polish your lenses. The real fight is about to start.

Torture:Justice :: Down Time. Weekly Action Series #6

So annoying when the mundane things of living life get in the way or sidetrack, derail, blindside or just plain wipe you out. Sigh. I’m decidedly uninspired for writing an Action Diary this week, but there are a few things that are rattling around  that I’d like to toss out there.

Start with this for background music.  Chick Corea and Return to Forever – Spain (Light as a Feather)


We all need some down time once in a while, take time to re-group, re-charge, maybe re-think. Then come back swingin.

Action Items below…

The Bush Administration Skeleton Key – Fear.

There is always the need, when one is looking at something complex and sprawling, to have a skeleton key, a filter that brings the overall arch of the story into focus whenever you get lost in the myriad details. For the last 8 years we have not had enough information about the actions of the Bush administration to develop such a skeleton key, this, however, has now changed. It turns out there is a single unifying factor which runs from August 2001 to January 20th 2009; fear.  

Need a Green Mother’s Day Gift? There’s still time!


Sierra Club Sponsor a Wild Place  

Big Depression or Long Lasting Depression

For the first time ever pre-Bilderberg information has been published.

This year Bilderberg is May 14-17 in Greece.

Docudharma Times Thursday May 7

Cheney Defends The

Little People Involved

With Torture.


People Who Approved

The Program

You Know The

Little People

Thursday’s Headlines:

Democrats face hard time over Guantanamo

Burmese police enter Aung San Suu Kyi compound

New onslaught forces exodus from Swat Valley

Jacob Zuma elected president of South Africa

Thousands in Somalia flee clashes with Islamist militants

Father of tennis star Jelena Dokic arrested after bomb threat

DNA database of innocent people ‘could face legal challenge’

Plans for the pope’s visit hit a wall in Bethlehem

Contractors Using Military Clinics

Mexico City returns to normal as swine flu restrictions fade

Obama’s Budget Knife Yields Modest Trims

Plan Likely to Face Tough Fight on the Hill

By Lori Montgomery and Amy Goldstein

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, May 7, 2009

President Obama has said for weeks that his staff is scouring the federal budget, “line by line,” for savings. Today, they will release the results: a plan to trim 121 programs by $17 billion, a tiny fraction of next year’s $3.4 trillion budget.

The plan is less ambitious than the hit list former president George W. Bush produced last year, targeting 151 programs for $34 billion in savings. And like most of the cuts Bush sought, congressional sources and independent budget analysts yesterday predicted that Obama’s, too, would be a tough sell.

“Even if you got all of those things, it would be saving pennies, not dollars.

China ready for post-Kyoto deal on climate change

Dramatic reversal in US position under Obama has brought Beijing to the table on emission cuts, says UK climate secretary

Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent

China is ready to abandon its resistance to limits on its carbon emissions and wants to reach an international deal to fight global warming, the Guardian has learned.

According to Britain’s climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, who met senior officials in Beijing this week, China is ready to “do business” with developed countries to reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto treaty.

Miliband said he was encouraged by the change in tone since late last year in the country that emits more greenhouse gases than any other. “I think they’re up for a deal. I get the strong impression that they want an agreement,” he told the Guardian.

“They see the impact of climate change on China and they know the world is moving towards a low-carbon economy and see the business opportunities that will come with that.”


As Stress Tests Are Revealed, Markets Sense a Turning Point


Published: May 6, 2009

The results of the bank stress tests have been trickling out for days, from Washington and from Wall Street, and the leaks seem to confirm what many bankers feel in their bones: despite all those bailouts, some of the nation’s largest banks still need more money.

But that does not necessarily mean the banks will get that money from the government. The findings, to be released Thursday by the Obama administration, suggest that the rescue money that Congress has already approved will be enough to fill the gaps. If so, the big bailouts for the banks may be over.

All of this assumes that the economy does not take another turn for the worse, which would result in even more losses at the banks – and the need for even more money to prop them up. But hopes that the tests will be a turning point in this financial crisis electrified Wall Street on Wednesday and some overseas markets the next day. Financial shares soared, lifting the broader American stock market to its highest level in four months.

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

From Yahoo News Science

1 U.S. House climate control negotiations intensify

By Richard Cowan, Reuters

Tue May 5, 12:03 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Negotiations in the U.S. House of Representatives on how to cut industrial pollutants that cause global warming reach a critical stage this week as President Barack Obama huddles with key lawmakers on Tuesday and Republicans ready for a fight.

A House Energy and Commerce panel hopes to fill in details later this week on a bill that aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 — using 2005 as a base year.

A White House official said the meeting between Obama and some Democratic members of the panel would review provisions being negotiated by lawmakers, as well as the timetable for moving the controversial legislation through the House.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XXXII

Art Link

The Road

To some of us

To some of us

it doesn’t matter

what you think

started us

on this journey

To some of us

it doesn’t matter

what you believe

even if

what you


is that

what someone else


is wrong

To some of us

it may be

an interesting way

to share our stories

…or not

But the fact is

that we are all

on this journey


And to some of us

the question is

“What do we do now?”

To some of us

the question is

“Where do we go from here?”

And we wonder if

you intend

to stand there and argue

or if you want

to come along

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 3, 2007

Late Night Karaoke

Nikai Thursday

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