June 18, 2010 archive

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

At a time prior to one of the so called great powers on this planet decided it wanted to control.

Photos Of Afghanistan’s Past: Modernity Lost

June 18, 2010 The Afghanistan of Mohammad Qayoumi’s memory is far from that of a “broken 13th century country,” as it was recently described by British Defense Secretary Liam Fox.

Qayoumi, now a university president in America, grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and ’60s. It was a period of calm and prosperity – and even optimism – before the Soviet invasion.

And thanks to a batch of vintage photos, Qayoumi has opened a window into that world with a photo essay recently published in Foreign Policy. The images depict a world that is slick, modern – even Western.

The photos show women in demure scarves, but also in pencil skirts and other fashions of the 1950s and ’60s. And just as striking is what some of the women are doing: buying records. Back then, Qayoumi tells NPR’s Deborah Amos, Afghans favored songs by Western pop singers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.

Nada Han Aprendido

40 people were killed in an explosion at a wedding party June 9th, 2010, in the Afghan village of Nadahan. Both the Taliban and NATO immediately denied responsibility.

This story never made the headlines on my desktop RSS feeds of world news from Google or Reuters or the Guardian or the Washington Post or the New York Times, and after I finally noticed it on IPS and began looking for some background, my search results for “Nadahan” on Google also produced a surreal collection of hits for the Spanish phrase “nada han…” including “como nada han occurido.”

As if nothing had happened.


The blast hit in an area that is largely considered a Taliban haven, and village residents said they thought they were attacked in an air bombardment. Mohammad Rassool, a cousin of the groom, said helicopters were circling above the compound before the explosion.

Open Flamenco


News at Noon

From Reuters

Investor mood lifts as BP survives spill grilling

by Tom Bergin and Chuck Mikolajczak

June 18, 2010

(Reuters) – BP shares gained in London on Friday after its boss survived a bruising encounter with U.S. lawmakers and as hopes rose its $20 billion oil spill compensation and clean-up fund will cap public anger.

The worst oil spill in U.S. history, from a leaking deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico, has strained the reputation of U.S. President Barack Obama, sullied the region’s rich wildlife, and wounded its fishing and tourism industries.

The likely cost of cleanup, compensation and fines has almost halved the value of BP — once Britain’s biggest company.

Related Stories:

BP chief evades questions at Capitol Hill grilling

Gulf spill damages may hit $100 billion: Louisiana treasurer

BP can avert cash crunch

EMILY’s List Announces EMpower

cross-posted from Sum of Change

On Thursday, June 17th 2010, EMILY’s List announced a new program called EMpower. We were filming WIN’s 21st Annual Women Opening Doors for Women, where Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List, announced the new program:

Gunrunners {Drugs} in an Insane Society, Ours!

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, MN has been running another series of investigative journalism, this one on gun running from Minnesota to Mexico.

I’ve been following it the last couple of days and posting the first two in the series, they’ve finally put up part three and four today. I’m combining all four as one post with some added recent reports that also came out in the last few days but on same issue, they all follow below.

On Slicing Pies, Or, Mystery Fees Cause Retirement “Money Spill”

It’s part two of our “Netroots Nation Goes To Vegas Piano Bar Extravaganza”, and in keeping with tradition that means we are again taking a story request.

This time we won’t be talking about energy security or “climate security”; instead, we’ll discuss retirement security, keeping your money for yourself instead of paying it out in “mystery fees”, and how one of the “usual suspects” is at it again.

And if all that wasn’t enough…we also have pie.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Catching a Greasy Wave

(Click on image for larger view)


Late Night Karaoke


Want To Help? 10 Ways To Start Making Change

Effective activism’s a long-haul process, not “save the Earth in 30 days, ask me how.” But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. They give us clues on how to reach out to engage our fellow citizens and help us get past our own barriers, not to mention burnout and disappointment. When I was updating my Soul of a Citizen book on citizen activism, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at a Florida university suggested I gather together a Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful. Some I’ve already explored in various Soul of a Citizen excerpts. I’ll flesh out others in coming weeks.  But pulling them together in one place seemed useful.

Obama’s declaration of incompetence

Obama’s content-free address from the Oval Office will go down in history as an official declaration of incompetence of the US Government. Conspicuous by its absence was the lack of any emergency plan to stop the oil leak by mobilizing the technical resources of the world’s most powerful government. Specifically, there was no mandate to create a task force to deploy unconventional measures to seal the well. Here is Obama’s decision on how to apply the best minds in the Federal Government to the worst environmental disaster in American history:

Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology.  That’s why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge — a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy.  Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology.

Translation: Our government is not competent to fix this problem, so we must rely on BP. This, more than any other sign, is conclusive proof of the poisonous fruit of the “Reagan revolution” – a government that declares itself incompetent to protect its people from the most severe crisis.

There has been much talk about the use of a small nuclear device to seal the oil leak, but the US government’s agencies also have extensive experience with the deployment of conventional high explosives underground. In the face of American airpower supremacy, our potential adversaries have been busily digging and tunneling for decades to establish hardened structures protecting their command posts and strategic weapons development sites. America’s response has been to develop steadily more powerful “bunker buster” weapons to destroy deeply-buried structures.

The development of powerful bunker-buster weapons requires advanced research into explosive effects on geological strata. In short, America’s weapons researchers know a great deal about what happens to underground structures when a large conventional bomb is detonated near them. This knowledge is directly applicable to the problem of sealing a runaway oil well. When a new bunker buster was needed to destroy Saddam Hussein’s most deeply buried bunkers, the US Defense Department developed the weapon in just a few months. No such urgency is felt for sealing the runaway well. But even if such a solution could not be devised before the completion of the relief well fix, it would surely be of immense value to stopping future catastrophic spills.

But Obama said exactly nothing about letting our government take the lead in protecting our people. You see, Obama is a great admirer of Reagan, and Reagan said “Government is the problem.” Having declared our government incompetent, America must now rely on predatory corporations to protect public safety. The result will be more and greater environmental catastrophes, as organizations with no incentive to protect the environment continue to pretend to bear this responsibility while maximizing the profits of stockholders and dumping their risks on the helpless people of the world.

Ronald Reagan destroyed the ability of the United States government to protect its own people, clearing the path for rule by corporate oligarchs. Barak Obama is ensuring that that our governmental incompetence remains intact and the power of the oligarchs remains unchecked.

Welcome to My World, Keith


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