Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 20th, 2013

Will the sockeye salmon be saved?

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My answer is, “No.” Corporate need or greed will override the salmon, which cannot make campaign contributions. And the mining industry will call on their government arm in the form of police, lawyers, National Guard, and so on. The fact is, so long as there is stuff still to be mined, the mining company will continue the pressure until at some point various weaknesses align, and so long, sockeye.

Here’s the story by Aaron Kase in Salon:

The habitat for half the world supply of wild sockeye salmon — as well as a critical area for other wildlife, tourism and native peoples — is at urgent risk of being filled with pollutants, and sterilized in the name of gold and copper mining.

Dillingham is a town of about 2,300 people, perched on an outlet into Bristol Bay, a body of water set between Alaska’s southwest coast and the Aleutian islands. The only way in or out is by boat or airplane. The town’s economy, and that of almost every settlement along the bay, relies on the thriving salmon population that returns each year to source rivers and streams to spawn.

The fish productivity, and in turn the entire lifestyle of southwest Alaska, is hanging in jeopardy under the looming threat of Pebble Mine. The proposed copper and gold site is projected to be the largest open pit mine in North America and would have a devastating impact on the habitat for salmon and other wildlife.

Verner Wilson III’s first memory is of trying to save a fish. The Yup’ik Eskimo, who grew up in Dillingham, Alaska, remembers visiting his family’s fishing camp when he was little. “I saw all of these fish wriggling around on the beach,” he says. “I tried to save one, take it and put it back in the water.”

His grandmother stopped him, explaining that the fish were the family’s food and livelihood. “I’ve been fishing ever since,” says Wilson, now 27.

Now Wilson is trying to save a lot of fish. Representing the World Wildlife Fund, he has been traveling the state and all the way to Washington, D.C., to rally opposition to the mine, while an unlikely coalition of commercial, subsistence and sport fishermen alongside environmentalists and native tribes has mobilized to preserve one of the last great salmon fisheries left in the world. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2013 at 2:04 pm

Government as an arm of Corporations

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Thom Hartmann has an article at AlterNet that points out how the combination of Corporations and Government into one power structure means that what one wants, the other will oblige.

Corporations are trying to use the PATRIOT Act in ways that have nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden because the PATRIOT Act gives transnational corporations the power to snuff out the activism of all those who oppose them.

Terrorism, as it is commonly considered, is the use of violence against civilians to achieve any number of political ends: the destruction of the federal government, the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the restoration of a Caliphate. If you try to kill people – or succeed in killing people for a political purpose – you’re a terrorist. If you blow up the Alfred P. Murrow Federal Building and kill 168 civilians, like Timothy McVeigh, you’ve committed an act of terrorism.

Seems pretty self-explanatory – right? Not according to TransCanada Corp., the Canadian owned energy conglomerate that is the backer of the Keystone XL pipeline extension. A new set of documents obtained by the group Bold Nebraska shows that this foreign corporation is encouraging American law enforcement agencies to treat anti-pipeline protestors like terrorists. Yes, terrorists.

The documents, which Bold Nebraska got a hold of through a FOIA request, were part of a briefing given to Nebraska law enforcement agents about the “emerging threat” of groups like Tar Sands Blockade and Rainforest Action.

And what are the “terrorist” activities that TransCanada is so concerned about? They include things like monkey-wrenching, tree-sitting, and tying yourself to a construction vehicle with a device called a “dragon-lock.”

If this seems familiar, it should, because what groups like Tar Sands Blockade are engaging in is classic civil disobedience. This is not terrorism, but this foreign corporation TransCanada wants American law enforcement agents to start looking at it like it is. By far the most damning document obtained by Bold Nebraska urges Nebraska authorities to consider using “State or Federal Anti-Terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.” In other words, TransCanada thinks American police should treat the blocking of construction vehicles just like the blowing up of a bus in downtown Washington, D.C. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2013 at 12:59 pm

Simple test to see whether a legislator cares about the public welare

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Whether they push for a cigarette tax or not. Ezra Klein explains in the Washington Post in his article “The case for a cigarette tax, in one graphic.”

Note that among other reasons to support the tax is this: with Obamacare the government is now paying plenty for healthcare, so by golly the government should support efforts to improve public health because it directly now affects government expenditures.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2013 at 12:54 pm

Did U.S. Gov’t Lie about TWA Flight 800 Crash?

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Here’s the transcript:

Seventeen years ago, TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island, killing all 230 people aboard. The official government investigation blamed mechanical failure, but now a group of former investigators are petitioning the National Transportation Safety Board to reopen the probe, saying the original report was falsified. Was the plane accidentally shot down by the U.S. Navy conducting a nearby exercise, or was it a terrorist attack? We speak to the filmmakers behind a new documentary on the crash, “TWA Flight 800,” former CBS News producer Kristina Borjesson and Tom Stalcup, a physicist and co-founder of Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization. We also play an extended excerpt of the film “Shadows of Liberty,” which also explores the controversy.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin with a look at shocking new claims about an airplane crash that happened 17 years ago. More than 200 people were killed when TWA Flight 800 burst into flames just minutes after taking off from New York on July 17th, 1996. The cause of that explosion has been in dispute ever since. Government investigators say it was most likely triggered by a failure in the plane’s electrical system. But many witnesses say they saw a streak a light move toward the plane before the explosion.

Now, six investigators who participated in the original probe of the crash have come forward to request that the case be reopened. They have petitioned the National Transportation Safety Board to reactivate its investigation. Their stories are featured in a new film directed by Kristina Borjesson, a former CBS News producer. We’ll be joined by her later in the broadcast, but first we look at Kristina’s 17-year struggle to discover what happened on the night TWA Flight 800 went down. Her story is featured in the film Shadows of Liberty, directed by Jean-Philippe Tremblay. This clip also includes former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom, former New York congressional aide Kelly O’Meara and journalist Philip Weiss.

NARRATOR: On the night of July 17th, 1996, Flight TWA 800 was en route from New York City to Paris carrying 230 passengers when disaster struck.

CNN ANCHOR: Bringing you up to date, a TWA flight, a 747 aircraft, has gone down.

REPORTER: You see in the water down there, it is the burning wreckage from that plane. . .

Continue reading.

After you watch the video, you realize that, if the investigation is re-opened and it is found that a missile from a training exercise brought down the plane (which seems totally likely) it shows clearly the already-existing close alliance of the corporation-government partnership, it also gives each something to hold over the other. Also, of course, the FBI will have been exposed as completely untrustworthy, willing to do anything provided the ends to be gained are put in a proper light: “The country cannot stand this now, … ” You could write it out yourself. Basically: if you reveal this, you’re a traitor. The same old song that authoritarians always sing: loyalty is everything. The FBI-led deception—and a lot of people had to be in on it—really puts Clapper’s lie to Congress in the shade.

The tell will be the seat fabric: the evidence surely is preserved, so the fabric can be tested by some trusted party, if any can be found.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2013 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Three years old and well worth reading: On Michael Hastings

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Glen Greenwald referenced this article by Barrett Browning in his column I blogged yesterday. It does indeed seem to be true that the top priority of many journalists today is to become friends of those in power and then to maintain and work to deepen that friendship, ostensibly for the sake of occasional exclusive tidbits—cheap payoff for those in power—but mainly to derive visibility and a kind of borrowed power: the journalists moves up in the world of journalism with a column and the like. The idea of reporting things that would discredit their friends is felt as a betrayal, a traitorous, contemptible act—the truly honorable thing, as they see it, is to protect their friend who has such an important position, so important that some things are obviously too insignificant to mention.

Thus the powerful are today protected by a thick, soft safety cushion of friendly media—for example:

  • interview shows (with all softball questions because the program wants guests to return if the program wants them back, so by no means will the host state or ask anything that might antagonize a guest—aggressive questioning is simply beyond the pale), and
  • print journalists who thoughtfully clear their stories with the subjects and, if requested, will hold the story back for over a year to better ingratiate themselves with the powerful and probably get moved on up to (rare) dinner invitations.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show commentary (though not his interviews with guests—because after one tough interview he’d probably get another guest (courage not being a strong suit of the powerful these days) is the sort of thing that I’m talking about, but of course in the court of the powerful only a jester is allowed to point out things that are not generally mentioned. So Stewart’s Daily Show can never turn serious: only a jester is allowed to speak. (Perhaps also—or mainly—the program can never become serious because audiences today simply will not watch serious programs (because they protect themselves through denial).)

When a true journalist breaks with the polite serfdom that mock journalists (“hacks”) have embraced, he becomes the object of much anger and vitriol from the hacks—mainly, I suspect, because (a) their powerful friends want the true journalist punished for what he reports and (b) the true journalist makes all the others look bad and exposes the phony game they’re playing, and that is incredibly hard to face, so they don’t and get angry instead. (Well-known response when one’s state of denial is threatened: cf. homophobia.)

Maybe everyone could calm down if these hacks, like some homophobes, finally drop their denial and accept themselves for who they are: the homophobe can recognize that he is in fact gay, and the hacks can start wearing patches on their clothing, like racing car drivers, to display their sponsors’ names or logos. A top-flight hack would have a suit just covered with them—think Robert Samuelson or George Will or Tom Friedman or any of the Fox “News” crowd. A jumpsuit wouldn’t be enough for some—they’ll require a cape, as well: the superheroes of American News Reporting! In fact, Fox “News” more or less does this now, and that is obviously a perfectly acceptable model for at least part of our society: they in fact now prefer to get something that is as close to news as Twinkies are to food. They have become intellectually obese and unfit: couch potatoes of the mind.

Not all journalists today are hacks, of course, but certainly some are. Consider Bill Keller, for example, who also went out of his way to boost the Iraq War, which probably got him in good standing, and then he cemented his good standing by holding for over a year the illegal surveillance story [of the George W. Bush administration’s doing illegal surveillance, which Keller held until after Bush was re-elected].

And the powerful and the hacks strike hard at true journalists—not just with vitriol, but going for years in prison, because true journalists annoyed powerful people, who are perfectly willing to use their power to protect their privilege and maintain the status quo of the power structure. Those who are greatly empowered by any structure, from office to business to government, will resist efforts to change the structure and will fight to keep the status quo because they figure that a change can only worsen their position. The result is true corruption: using official powers for personal benefit.

At any rate, here’s Barrett Brown describing how Hastings shows up “journalist,” and Brown’s article, of course, rather pointedly shows up “journalists” even more, so Brown himself becomes a target of the Establishment. From Vanity Fair, June 23, 2010:

On the occasion of what may prove to be the most significant story of the year, in terms of the revelations it brings forth and the aftereffects of those revelations, National Review editor Rich Lowry began his commentary with the following “point,” as he describes it:

1) Rolling Stone? Rolling Stone???

Yes, Rich; the most impact-laden story of the year, the one in which General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and his aides talked trash about President Barack Obama and members of his administration, appeared in Rolling Stone, not National Review. And it was written by a perfect specimen of the new breed of journalist-commentator that will hopefully come to replace the old breed sooner rather than later, and which has already collectively surpassed the old guard by every measure that counts—for instance, not being forever wrong about matters of life and death.I should note—not only in the interest of full disclosure, but also necessary context—that I am a friend and admirer of Michael Hastings, the author of the Rolling Stone piece in question. He was kind enough to blurb my upcoming book on the failures of the American punditry (and is planning on writing a novel on the same topic, incidentally); he shares my opinions on the state of journalism and opinion in this country; and he has joined up with Project PM, my perhaps quixotic attempt to do a small part in improving that media whose flawed reporting on matters of war and peace has recently had a hand in leaving hundreds of thousands dead and injured our republic’s ability to rationally operate both at home and abroad. I first spoke in support of Hastings before I’d ever made contact with him, which is to say that my opinion of him is not based on our association; my association with him is based on my opinion of him. That opinion is derived from the unassailable and unfortunately noteworthy competence and conduct he has displayed throughout his relatively short career.

Those who have seen fit to question Hastings’s motivations in writing this article ought to know a little about him before making the pronouncements they will continue to make on his character, inconvenient as that knowledge may be to those who are in the business of casting aspersions on those about whom they know nothing. Hastings was for a time Newsweek’s Baghdad correspondent. In 2008, that mediocre publication assigned him to cover our republic’s most recent and ridiculous electoral contest, and as a consequence the fellow got an insider’s view of how terribly destructive is the manner in which this country covers its most important decisions. This sentiment is widespread among the more observant media professionals, who generally do not act on it out of concern for their own careers. In contrast, Hastings quit Newsweek and wrote a damning exposé about what he had seen and experienced during his stint. During a time in which many journalists thought of little more than how they would attain security for themselves, Hastings ensured that he would never be trusted by the establishment media ever again.

At this time, Hastings is in Kandahar performing further crimes against the status quo and is thus unable to defend himself against those who are responsible for the problems he has helped to bring to light, and so I will take this opportunity to do it for him. This brings us back to Rich Lowry, whom we last saw declaiming Rolling Stone for not being as respectable as National Review and who later that day found time to voice more substantive objections: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2013 at 12:18 pm

Very nice shave once more: Wee Scot and the EJ head on a UFO handle

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SOTD 20 June 2013

The title pretty much says it all. I’m now back on MR GLO for a week. The soap is a mystery soap. It didn’t lather well for me this morning, but sometimes that’s the result of using insufficient water or the like. I got two passes and then had to refresh the lather. The Wee Scot usually holds enough lather for 6 or 7 passes, so brush size is not the issue.

Withal, a very pleasant shave using a Kai blade in the EJ head and a UFO red-bronze handle. The feel of the razor with the heavier handle is quite pleasant.

A good big splash of Saint Charles Shave Savory Rose, and then I was out trying to buy more kitty food because Natura had recalled all their brands, including the Evo that we use. I found another brand, the kitties like it, and we’ll probably continue with the new brand.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2013 at 10:48 am

Posted in Cats, Shaving

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