May 19, 2011 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

these featured articles-

The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – OBL#1 and #2

Conspiracy Theory Stimulus by RJ Matson, Roll Call, Buy this cartoon

Remember this?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Are we through yet? Tue May 03, 2011 at 09:15:47 AM EDT

Evidently the answer is no, we’re not through yet.

35 killed in Taliban attack on road workers

By Ben Farmer, Kabul, The Telegraph

4:40PM BST 19 May 2011

Up to 100 attackers then opened fire with AK-47s, heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenades from surrounding hills, prompting a battle with guards lasting more than two hours.

By dawn on Thursday, when the attackers left the camp after burning or stealing several vehicles, 25 staff were also missing and 12 were injured, according to a senior manager at the company.

Noorullah Bidar, director of the company, said: “They [the Taliban] destroyed a lot of our equipment including vehicles and equipment used for road construction … we don’t know why they attacked us … they are doing this to prevent reconstruction in Afghanistan.”

36 killed in attack on work crew in Afghanistan

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times

May 19, 2011, 8:48 a.m.

The Taliban and other insurgents sometimes target work crews on infrastructure projects, regarding the building companies as collaborators with the central government and foreign forces. But most such projects have substantial security contingents, and it is unusual for militants to be able to kill so many in a single strike.

The construction company’s owner, Noorullah Bidar, one of 20 people injured in the attack, said from his hospital bed that all those slain in the predawn attack in Paktia province were Afghan nationals.

Rohullah Samon, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the dead included laborers, technical personnel and security guards. Eight assailants died in the attack as well, he said.


At Least 35 Killed in Attack on Afghan Road Crew


Published: May 19, 2011

The crew attacked Thursday was working on a road not far from the Gardez-Khost Highway, a 64-mile project that has been one of the most troubled and costly transportation projects in Afghanistan.

Since work on the highway began in 2007, there have been at least 364 attacks on the highway, resulting in the deaths of 19 people, almost all of them local Afghan workers. The highway project, which has been financed by the United States Agency for International Development, has come to symbolize the pitfalls of corruption and danger of trying to push development in areas strongly lacking in security. It has cost about $121 million so far, with the final price tag expected to reach $176 million, or about $2.8 million a mile.

Construction contractors trying to build in many of these volatile areas have been accused of paying off local insurgent groups, including the Haqqani network, to allow work to continue, in turn helping to finance the insurgency. Some security outfits have also been accused of themselves facilitating attacks in order to extort more money for security.

Exposing ALEC

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

No, it’s not an Alec Baldwin expose. This is about The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who “owns” and “runs” the US and state governments.

Democracy for Sale?

Andrew Gillum, Director of Leadership Programs at People for the American Way Foundation, joins The Last Word to discuss a Republican group more powerful than the Koch brothers.

From People for the American Way

ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures

When state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council.  ALEC is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced. It’s win-win for corporations, their lobbyists, and right-wing legislators. But the big losers are citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, who helped build a nationwide right-wing political infrastructure following the reelection of Richard Nixon. In the same year, he helped establish the Heritage Foundation, now one of the most prominent right-wing policy institutes in the country. One year later, Weyrich founded the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, the predecessor of the Free Congress Foundation. In 1979, he co-founded and coined the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell, and in 1981 he helped establish the ultraconservative Council on National Policy.

The Left is Dead, Long Live the Left (reborn from the right?)

I will first refer to Chris Hedges’ book The Death of the Liberal Class. His analysis of the Americna left’s turning it’s back on the very values it professes is beautifully presented. I will not re-capture his argument here. There are YouTube videos of him giving talks on the subject that I urge you to listen to if you are unfamiliar with his POV. Suffice it to say that what it left of the left is fairly isolated and so far-outside the mainstream that most Americans don’t even know it exists. What the right, for example, terms as “the left” is largely fantasy and projection based on the bizarre idea that Obama is a socialist despite the fact that even rhetorically he is, by Euro standards solidly center-right politically, if not on the right.

The left, in terms of function, today is mainly made up of the extreme right-that is, it is on the right that you see real commitment to revolutionary and fundamental change since the liberals and progressives seemed to have abandoned much interest in the working-class. The militant masses have gone right not left and the most fertile ground for the left is on the libertarian right particularly those gathered around Ron Paul. Paul represents a critical interest that should be first and foremost on any real leftist’s mind. That concern is structural and procedural. How do we re-establish Constitutional rule (in case you haven’t heard it has, in many ways, been suspended) and basic rule-of-law. Honest law, honest law-enforcement, honest courts, and so on are essential. The left cannot succeed at anything if the oligarchs can jail us, torture us, kill us, seize our property, watch us, enter our homes without a warrant often without any reason. Lettres de cachet are now mainstream law. War is carried out on “terror” which is impossible no matter the definition you have of the word-you can have war on France or even a criminal gang but you cannot have a war on terror. Yet this Orwellian term is accepted by the mainstream without any sense of irony, without any question as if it was all perfectly sensible-well it is not in any way sensible. And if you accept that “war” then you accept nonsense and illogic.

It is the libertarian right that is on the forefront of talking about civil liberties, about clearly illegal wars and the growing power of the federal government. As a social democrat it is difficult for me to say “government is the problem” but today I will say that government is the problem. It is the problem because, in most situations and in most of the government, it is acting in the interests of the oligarch class and not the majority of people and furthermore is so constructed that it is furthering an anti-Constitutional, anti-liberty, and anti-human agenda that the libertarian right-wing condemns and the left seems to be ambivalent about. Nothing the government does can be trusted to be anything other than some form of racketeering just as nothing that is said in the mainstream media can be believed even if some of what is said is true. The government is now in service of a criminal class and the right notes that more than the left which seems stunned and hypnotized by the magician Obama.

And worse, it seems more common to see 9/11 skeptics on the right than on the left. The left seems to have swallowed the government/media story without any question–this is stunning in itself. I repeat, even most of the more radical left, including Hedges, accepts the government narrative without question–it is still forbidden on blogs like DKOS to suggest even a minor quibble about the events on 9/11. This to me stamps what is left of the left as dead. When you abandon reason, when you, as a leftist accept government proclamations without question, then how can you consider yourself on the left?

The Reason We Need Wikileaks

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Now more than ever, the reason for Wikileaks to exist: the preservation of what remains of the rule of law and the US Constitution. From Marcy Wheeler at FDL:

SCOTUS: Govt Can Use State Secrets to Hide Crimes

SCOTUS just declined to take the Jeppesen Dataplan suit.

The high court rejected an appeal by five men who claimed that U.S. operatives-with support from Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing unit-abducted them and sent them to other countries where they were tortured. They alleged Jeppesen provided critical flight planning and logistical support to the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program. The men were seeking unspecified monetary damages from the company.

This effectively means that men like Binyam Mohamed, who the Brits have admitted was tortured after being rendered, cannot sue for redress. And the ruling is particularly egregious since a Jeppesen executive admitted that his company was flying rendition flights.

In effect, SCOTUS’ decision not to take this case leaves in place state secrets precedent that allows the government to commit grave crimes, but hide behind state secrets.

Update: The Brennan Center and a bunch of other crazy hippies who believe in rule of law wrote a letter in response to SCOTUS’ decision to DOJ reminding them that, per their purported state secrets policy, credible allegations of wrong-doing must be referred to the Inspectors General of the relevant agencies for investigation.


This is me officially holding my breath for the Obama Administration to do what they promised on this front.

Don’t hold your breath, Marcy. I have no expectations of the Obama administrations doing anything they promised regarding the rule of law and the Constitution. Dick Cheney must be proud.


Tease for Two

Six In The Morning

U.S. Was Warned on Vents Before Failure at Japan’s Plant


Published: May 18, 2011

WASHINGTON – Five years before the crucial emergency vents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were disabled by an accident they were supposed to help handle, engineers at a reactor in Minnesota warned American regulators about that very problem.Anthony Sarrack, one of the two engineers, notified staff members at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the design of venting systems was seriously flawed at his reactor and others in the United States similar to the ones in Japan. He later left the industry in frustration because managers and regulators did not agree.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

Individuality realized is the supreme attainment of the human soul, the master-master’s work of art. Individuality is sacred.

–Frank Lloyd Wright

Ornament  9

The Mighty Atchafalaya

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

I don’t know whether any of you have had the pleasure (and I mean it sincerely, I enjoyed it very much) of visiting Mud Island in Memphis which I suspect is very much covered in mud at the moment.  The chief attraction is a scale model of the Mississippi and while the ‘Gulf of Mexico’ may once have been a water park it was pretty green and uninviting when I was there (and I’ve swum in some scummy water, let me tell you).

I suspect that soon they’ll have to make some modifications.

You see, the thing about it is the Mississippi as Mark Twain knew it and we know it today is an obsolete river.  

It’s not the shortest and steepest route to the Gulf of Mexico anymore, the Atchafalaya is, and the Army Corps of Engineers knew this back in 1963 when they constructed the Old River Control Structure to begin with.  The point was to save the commercial centers of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, not flood control at all.

But as Twain would tell you the mighty Mississippi is a big river and not one that will be denied.  Opening the floodgates will only make the Atchafalaya deeper and steeper than it is now and soon enough, in even human not geologic time, the pressure of all that water will not be denied.

The Control of Nature


by John McPhee, The New Yorker

February 23, 1987

The Mississippi River, with its sand and silt, has created most of Louisiana, and it could not have done so by remaining in one channel. If it had, southern Louisiana would be a long narrow peninsula reaching into the Gulf of Mexico. Southern Louisiana exists in its present form because the Mississippi River has jumped here and there within an arc about two hundred miles wide, like a pianist playing with one hand-frequently and radically changing course, surging over the left or the right bank to go off in utterly new directions. Always it is the river’s purpose to get to the Gulf by the shortest and steepest gradient. As the mouth advances southward and the river lengthens, the gradient declines, the current slows, and sediment builds up the bed. Eventually, it builds up so much that the river spills to one side. Major shifts of that nature have tended to occur roughly once a millennium. The Mississippi’s main channel of three thousand years ago is now the quiet water of Bayou Teche, which mimics the shape of the Mississippi. Along Bayou Teche, on the high ground of ancient natural levees, are Jeanerette, Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Olivier-arcuate strings of Cajun towns. Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the channel was captured from the east. It shifted abruptly and flowed in that direction for about a thousand years. In the second century a.d., it was captured again, and taken south, by the now unprepossessing Bayou Lafourche, which, by the year 1000, was losing its hegemony to the river’s present course, through the region that would be known as Plaquemines. By the nineteen-fifties, the Mississippi River had advanced so far past New Orleans and out into the Gulf that it was about to shift again, and its offspring Atchafalaya was ready to receive it. By the route of the Atchafalaya, the distance across the delta plain was a hundred and forty-five miles-well under half the length of the route of the master stream.

Late Night Karaoke

The Week in Editorial Cartoons, Part I – Trump Quits, Many Despondent, WH Issues Statement

Bruce Plante, Tulsa World, Buy this cartoon

Load more