May 18, 2010 archive

Drones and Democracy

May 18, 2010

by Kathy Kelly and Josh Brollier

Islamabad–On May 12th, the day after a U.S. drone strike killed 24 people in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, two men from the area agreed to tell us their perspective as eyewitnesses of previous drone strikes.    

One is a journalist, Safdar Dawar, General Secretary of the Tribal Union of Journalists. Journalists are operating under very difficult circumstances in the area, pressured by both militant groups and the Pakistani government.  Six of his colleagues have been killed while reporting in North and South Waziristan. The other man, who asked us not to disclose his name, is from Miranshah city, the epicenter of North Waziristan.  He works with the locally based Waziristan Relief Agency, a group of people committed to helping the victims of drone attacks and military actions.  “If people need blood or medicine or have to go to Peshawar or some other hospital,” said the social worker, “I’m known for helping them. I also try to arrange funds and contributions.”

Both men emphasized that Pakistan’s government has only a trivial presence in the area.  Survivors of drone attacks receive no compensation, and neither the military nor the government investigate consequences of the drone attacks.  

‘The Little Eichmanns’

The black plague spreads.

The leadership lies.

The CEO’s spin.

We are not ignorant of the horrific nightmare you have unleashed.

Chris Hedges has a piece on TruthDig today about our corporate leaders and how these ‘Little Eichmanns’ are doing exactly what many thought would happen when you commoditize every living breathing thing on the planet.

You die.

Cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die. They ruthlessly exploit the natural world and the members of their society in the name of progress until exhaustion or collapse, blind to the fury of their own self-destruction. The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, estimated to be perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels a day, is part of our foolish death march. It is one more blow delivered by the corporate state, the trade of life for gold. But this time collapse, when it comes, will not be confined to the geography of a decayed civilization. It will be global.

Those who carry out this global genocide-men like BP’s Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who assures us that “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume”-are, to steal a line from Ward Churchill, “little Eichmanns.” They serve Thanatos, the forces of death, the dark instinct Sigmund Freud identified within human beings that propels us to annihilate all living things, including ourselves. These deformed individuals lack the capacity for empathy. They are at once banal and dangerous. They possess the peculiar ability to organize vast, destructive bureaucracies and yet remain blind to the ramifications. The death they dispense, whether in the pollutants and carcinogens that have made cancer an epidemic, the dead zone rapidly being created in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting polar ice caps or the deaths last year of 45,000 Americans who could not afford proper medical care, is part of the cold and rational exchange of life for money.


Video from K Street Protest

cross-posted from Sum of Change

Yesterday, despite the persistant rain, thousands of people showed up on K Street in Washington, DC to protest the actions and lobbying efforts of big banks and to demand economic justice. The Washington Post is comparing the anger to what we have seen at Teaparty protests.

–Mark Freeman, foreclosure victim and SEIU member

Sci Fi Summer, need suggestions

So Im trying to hatch ideas for some summer brainwashing enlightenment of my kid and her little (soon to be) 8th grade friends. {rubs hands together wickedly} Thinking “Movie Night”? maybe? or something. Still very vague…. brainstorming phase.

Asking DharmaBums for recs, suggestions for sci-fi movies and/or books that would be age appropriate for very smart middle school kids, yet interesting, and more so … that have some redeemable underlying “message” … yes, I admit it, I want subversive, political, eco, whatever.

A few for starters below the hump.

Open Alley


Something Happened?

Something Happened

James Howard Kunstler

truthout op-ed

Tuesday, May 18, the year of the tiger

Everybody in the world is broke, except for maybe Lloyd Blankfein, and he may not end up broke so much as broken — by a political meat-grinder that is revving up to turn the world’s woes and swindles into a new kind of Long Emergency sausage, to be distributed among the roiling, angry masses as a synthetic substitute for nutriment. Call it a synthetic non-collateralized political obligation.

Something snapped in the world last week and a lot of people around the world sensed it — especially in the organs of news and opinion — but this ominous twang was not very clearly identified. It was, in fact, the sound of the financial becoming political. The macro-swindle of a worldwide Ponzi orgy now stands revealed and the vacuum left in its place is about to suck everything familiar into it — standards-of-living, hopes, dreams, not to mention lives. The political action will be a desperate scramble to determine who and what is able to escape getting sucked into this black hole of annihilation. It’s very suddenly shaping up to become an epic in human history.

Meanwhile, a giant oil blob lies quivering in deep waters off the Gulf coast, like some awful amorphous Moby Dick full of malice waiting to sink Pequod America — or at least the economies of five states. A few months from now, the BP corporation will wonder why it didn’t go into something safe and predictable like the pants business instead of oil exploration. They will surely question the viability of conducting future business anywhere near the USA, and the USA will enter a wilderness of soul-searching about the drill-baby-drill strategy that only a few scant weeks ago seemed to be a settled matter. Tough to have your future hoped-for energy supplies evaporate at the same time that your hopes for future prosperity get sucked into a black hole.

I’ve maintained for a long time that the folks down Dixie way are the the most dangerously crazy people in America and the Deepwater Horizon oil blob is not going to improve their outlook when it slops over their beaches and bayous. They’ll blame Obama for it by syllogism. Anyway, they are only marginally more crazy than the rest of the folks in the USA. Those folks are warming up for an election season that is going to send a horde of exterminating angels into the halls of congress and the governor’s mansions, and before too long those merchants of retribution are going to appoint their inquisitors. It’s going to be a heckuva spectacle.

[snip] [snip] [snip]

For Your Consideration: Government Censorship of the Eco-Catastrophe? Up Dated

Is the Obama government censoring the information about the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?

WEAR WABC-3 in Pensacola, FL filed this report:

Over the weekend, a research crew from the University of Southern Mississippi found evidence that there are 3 to 5 plumes… About 5 miles wide, 10 miles long and 3 hundred feet in depth.

But after giving that information to the press, the lead researcher now says he has been asked by the federal government… Which funds his research… To quit giving interviews until further testing is done.

(emphasis mine)

Even the University’s web site blog has gone silent since Saturday.

Jim White at FDL poses the questions:

The question now becomes whether the government, in the form of NOAA (which sponsored the research) is merely asking for a pause in order to process data more fully, or if it is putting the lid on a story that shows the oil spill to be far worse than the surface slick would suggest. One way to judge the answer to that question will be to see how quickly the research team is able to find ship time for gathering more data. Here is one of the researchers, Dr. Vernon Asper, speaking with NPR on May 16 with interviewer Guy Raz (in the only post-May 15 interview I’ve been able to find for any of the researchers):


RAZ: Vernon Asper, what will you and the scientists aboard the Pelican be looking at in the coming days and weeks?

   Dr. ASPER: The first thing we’re going to do is analyze our data and analyze the samples. And, of course, we’re planning our next cruises. We’re already making inquiries into finding ship time. It turns out that the limiting factor for studying this plume is the availability of research vessels.

   The research fleet in the United States for academic purposes has been dwindling over the last few decades, and there just aren’t ships available. So we’re having a hard time getting access to vessels that can take us out there.

On This Day in History: May 18

On this day in 1980, Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, United States, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.

The 24-megaton blast demolished a 230-square-mile area around the mountain. Geologist Dave Johnson was the closest to the eruption when it blew. He was on his radio that morning and was only able to say, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” before his truck was pushed over a ridge and he was killed.

Millions of trees were scorched and burned by the hot air alone. When the glacier atop the mountain melted, a massive mudslide wiped out homes and dammed up rivers throughout the area. The plume of ash belched out for nine hours; easterly winds carried it across the state and as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota. The falling ash clogged carburetors and thousands of motorists were stranded. Fifty-seven people died overall from suffocation, burns and other assorted injuries. Twenty-seven bodies, including that of the stubborn Harry Truman, were never found. Mount St. Helens went from 9,600 feet high to only 8,300 feet high in a matter of seconds.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


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Another rerun…

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – The Oily Axis of Evil

Crossposted at Daily Kos


This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

:: ::

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Jazz Singer

Jacques Offenbach was the son of a Cantor and his problem was that he was either too funny, or not quite funny enough.

You see, he made his mark as a composer and producer of Operettas that satirized not only the politics and culture of the day, but also the musical styles of other famous composers.  If you don’t speak French perhaps the best way to think about him is as the Arthur Sullivan of Paris, only without quite as much pretension.

Instead of Gilbert he had a pair of lyricists that he commonly worked with, Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy.

The Second Empire had quite an appetite for frivolity and farce and Offenbach was very popular, but at the onset of the Franco Prussian War he was accused of being a Bismarkian mole and chased from Paris, based mostly on the unfortunate circumstances of his birth.  You see, he wasn’t just a Jew, he was also born in Cologne.

He fled to Spain with his family and did some touring in Italy and Austria, but he really was quite a patriotic Frenchman and soon returned to Paris.

Alas the climate had changed.  The Third Republic, as new regimes often do, ushered in a new puritanical spirit and farce and comedy were not as trendy as they once were.  He was criticized by the Right for his disrespect for the Monarchy and Army, and by the Left as being a lapdog of the establishment and a sellout, including Emile Zola in the novel Nana.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, Zola was a ‘Naturalist’ author who couldn’t write a character without using cardboard, which is kind of a fundamental failing given his philosophy.  Nietzsche on the other hand thought Offenbach 6 times the composer Wagner was, which is high praise indeed.

So he was harassed by the Police and forced into bankruptcy, but was able to make some money back with a tour of the U.S. and was able to mount a few more successful productions before his death in 1880.

Tonight’s piece, Les belles Américaines is a Waltz he composed late in his career.  It was posted by ZIEHRER18431922.

Psalms Beyond the Speed of Light

Thirty years ago, I completed a book of poetry:


                      PSALMS BEYOND THE SPEED OF LIGHT


                         POETRY FOR THE ATOMIC AGE

As usual,  I have an excess of words.  The poetry was an expression of my belief in evolution as seen through the metaphor of Zeus and Semele, and based in human acquisition of power over life and death, the atomic power which is capable of destroying life on earth.

But the attainment of this power demands a commensurate growth in consciousness (morality & awareness)to become more equal to the newly begotten physical powers.  As Einstein said, “With the splitting of the atom, everything has changed save man’s way of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Although atomic energy remains the most dramatic symbol and manifestation of man’s new found powers, we have learned that many of our scientific and physical advances can have a equally devastating effects on life on earth.

Like all life forms, humans are engaged in the process of evolution.  And today, the primary thrust of evolution is the evolution of consciousness.

The evolution of consciousness, of necessity, requires an increasing awareness of one’s position in life.  The most profound awareness is the recognition of one’s own mortality, of death.  A cat or a dog does not wake up in the morning thinking, “Gee, I’m going to die some day!”  But we do; this is required by our evolutionary growth.  

And therein lies both the rub and the salvation, or, more accurately, the key to evolution.

I hope you’ll follow me below the fold~~~

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