Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Locked-Out Uranium Processing Workers Protest Honeywell’s Use of Scab Workers at Uranium Enrichment Plant in Illinois
Dozens of workers protested at Honeywell’s shareholder meeting on Monday, accusing the company of putting employees and the public in danger at its uranium enrichment plant in Metropolis, Illinois. Major U.S. defense contractor, Honeywell, pleaded guilty last month to illegally storing hazardous radioactive waste without a permit. The company kept highly radioactive mud in drums in the open air behind its facility near the Ohio River. Workers at the facility say they notified Honeywell of the problem on many occasions. Many are members of the United Steelworkers union and feel this particular incident led to the company’s desire to bust their union. More than 200 workers at the Metropolis plant have been out of work since last June due to stalled contract negotiations with the company on workplace safety, economic and seniority issues. We speak with labor journalist Mike Elk, who has covered this story extensively for In These Times magazine. [includes rush transcript]

The Authoritarian Agenda Behind Attacks on Contraception

By Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
Posted on April 25, 2011, Printed on April 26, 2011

In a recent piece for the American Prospect, Sarah Posner outlined how the fringe of the religious right increasingly dictates the larger conservative agenda, as evidenced by the bold Republican push towards open war on contraception.  Sarah writes about the reason for the attacks on Planned Parenthood:
It is not solely about shutting down Planned Parenthood's federal funding because the organization provides abortion services (indeed federal funding of abortion is already banned by the Hyde Amendment). It's about shutting down Planned Parenthood because it provides contraceptives. That is a target because, as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has put it, "an arrogant corrupt Washington elite" has "declared war on marriage, on families, on fertility, and on faith."
Mike Huckabee has started to join the chorus of anti-contraception voices as well, calling Planned Parenthood “Planned Barrenhood”---basically signing off on the idea that any attempt to control fertility is wrong, no matter how you do it.  While the official argument is that this is still just about abortion, the mask slips more and more all the time, and the public is beginning to be clear about how radical the anti-choice agenda really is. And the thing is that when you drop the bloviating about fetal life and attack contraception head on, it’s much harder to distract people from how viciously misogynistic this agenda really is.
Take, for instance, the reaction of the California Catholic Daily to a new Guttmacher report demonstrating no real difference in contraception use between religious and non-religious women, even Catholics.  Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women use contraception, only one percentage point less than the public at large.  Instead of viewing this as evidence that church teachings are sexist, out of date, and have no relationship to women’s actual needs and lives, California Catholic Daily lashed out at women for being disobedient to the dictates of the celibate men who are supposed to know better than women what they need for their lives:
Basically, the report said, Catholic women have ignored their bishops. “In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible,” the Guttmacher news release quoted Rachel K. Jones, the report’s lead author, as saying....
The Institute seemed to take some glee from the finding that Catholic women are ignoring Church teachings.
No evidence was produced of the “glee” that the notoriously sober-minded researchers at Guttmacher were accused of demonstrating.
But what I find most interesting about this is how the feigned concern for the fetus has been dropped completely, and the entire focus is on controlling women.  Catholic women are criticized solely for disobedience, solely for not blindly following the dictates of leaders who don’t know or care much about the actual circumstances of women’s lives.  Women seem to exist solely to obey without asking questions, and the fact that women don’t actually do this is treated like an embarrassment for the Catholic Church.  The perception that the Guttmacher Institute is laughing at the Catholic Church stems mainly from this humiliated stance; the author seems to be cringing because they’ve been called out for not keeping “their” women on a tighter leash.
I fail to see how this is not misogyny. Casting women in a role of supplicants who should simply reproduce as much as their masters tell them without daring even a peep of protest---and suggesting that women’s failure to comply to hateful, unmanageable rules is a humiliation for their masters---strikes me as misogyny distilled.  The reaction to Guttmacher’s study on other right wing sites didn’t do much to dissuade me from seeing the objection to reproductive rights as simply a display of dominance over women.  In fact, the humiliated stance was so great that some bloggers denied that women who use contraception are really Catholic, saying things like, “Now, Guttmacher determined that anyone who went to services at least once a month was an observant member of their religion (ha!), so we don’t know just how ‘Catholic’ these self-described Catholics are,” even though by putting “Catholics” and “contraception users” into separate cateogories means that only 2 percent of Catholic women are Catholic.
Catholic Culture reacted to the news with ad hominem attacks on Alan Guttmacher though he’s been dead for 37 years.  They couldn’t dispute the findings, so it was more a reaction along the lines of, “Yeah, we can’t control our women but your mom is ugly neener neener neener!”
Anti-choice commenters reacted to the news in similar fashions, denying the findings without evidence or making ad hominem attacks.  But above all things, Catholic women were criticized for their lack of blind obedience. A commenter at California Catholic Daily compared women to naughty children refusing to eat their vegetables:
Their point is simply an immature view which any parent has heard arguments like that from their children from time to time.
Women who rejected church teachings had their intelligence insulted:
The reason Catholic couples use artificial means is because they are unaware of Church teachings and most don't understand NFP.
I think a better explanation is that women do understand NFP and know that it’s not for them, and have chosen an option that fits with their lifestyles. The assumption that 98 percent of Catholic women are too stupid to know what’s best for them is pure misogyny.  Indeed, the fact that NFP doesn’t work for the vast majority of women was presented as the main reason that it should be their only option
And this is all what’s underlying the war on contraception: misogynist authoritarianism. In other words, the war on contraception is a war on the bedrock values this country stands for---equality, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and democracy---and looks to replace those things with blind obedience to authority and second class status for women.
Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.
© 2011 RH Reality Check All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/150728/

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nihilists at the Helm

The big banks, Wall Street, the politicians they own, and the Federal Reserve Board created the real estate bubble in bad faith.
They knew or should have known:
that the real estate bubble was unsustainable;
when the bubble deflated, many homeowners would hit a financial wall; and, that
when homeowners hit the wall, to maintain viability for their families, they would need relief of some sort.

What did the nihilists of the financial elite and their hit men walking the halls of power do with all this knowledge? They went ahead with the real estate bubble, fostered it, deregulated meaningful controls on the financial industry, and crafted a new bankruptcy law to stick it to filers. They knew or should have know that data from 2001 showed a very high rate of filings due to the financial stress of medical care and crises. Did they care? Do they care now? Has anything been done to correct this injustice?
While citizens suffer in financial distress, often due to illness, at the behest of influential bankers and investors, the Department of Justice crafts a settlement with lenders and their representatives to relieve them of the stern justice due for their specific crimes and the larger horrors they visit upon citizens, all in the name of short term profit.
We are most emphatically not a nation of laws. We are a nation where the law is used by a very few for their own purposes, without regard for the well being of the nation or its citizens. We are a lawless nation.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This is so sad...how unreal.......what the 60 minutes piece.....
NEW YORK – A bombshell 60 Minutes report has left the writer’s Three Cups of Tea memoir—which earned him millions and made him a humanitarian folk hero—in tatters. Lloyd Grove and Mike Giglio report on the fallout. Plus, Mortenson's Pakistani host Mansur Khan Mahsud exposes his lies.

When 60 Minutes was finished with superstar philanthropist and U.S. military adviser Greg Mortenson on Sunday night, the author of Three Cups of Tea—a 2006 bestselling memoir of adventures and good works in Afghanistan and Pakistan—was in a million little pieces.

Correspondent Steve Kroft reported that key anecdotes in Mortenson’s inspirational narrative—which launched him as a humanitarian folk hero, attracted $60 million in donations to his nonprofit Central Asia Institute, and personally earned him millions of dollars in book royalties and lecture fees—appear to have been fabricated.
“Another hero bites the dust,” MTV founder Tom Freston, a frequent visitor to Afghanistan, told The Daily Beast. Freston lived in Kabul in the late 1970s, traveling the hardscrabble country as a garment exporter. “And it’s especially bad in this case, as there are so few heroes in that troubled part of the world.”

Here's the full 60 Minutes segment:
Afghan media mogul Saad Mohseni, whose Moby Group runs the nation’s dominant television and radio outlets, reacted with sorrow at the report.
“If the allegations are true,” Mohseni told The Daily Beast, “then it is a tremendous blow to humanitarian and education related nongovernment work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as many in the West will shy away from helping similar projects in the future.” Mohseni added: “Mr. Mortenson was not that well known in Afghanistan and his fame in the U.S. surprised many of us in Kabul… However, the man needs to be given an opportunity to defend himself.”
“Greg has flown around on Black Hawk helicopters, and Petraeus has opened schools with him,” said Isobel Coleman. “There’s been some commingling there.”

Notably false, Kroft reported, were Mortenson’s heartwarming tale of how the simple mountain villagers in Korphe, Pakistan, saved his life after he got lost during a perilous descent of K2, the world’s second highest peak; how he repaid their kindness by returning to build them a school; and how he was subsequently kidnapped for eight days by the Taliban.
“It’s a beautiful story, and it’s a lie,” best-selling author Jon Krakauer, a former friend and financial supporter of Mortenson’s, told 60 Minutes, which offered strong evidence that Mortenson was never lost or separated from fellow mountain climbers during his 1993 descent, that he never visited or even heard of Korphe until a year afterward, and that the men he identified as Taliban kidnappers were actually his tour guides.
Mortenson’s book agent, Elizabeth Kaplan, declined to comment on the 60 Minutes report, writing in an email to The Daily Beast: “I’m on a runway at Newark airport heading for Prague.” His co-author, Portland, Oregon, journalist David Oliver Relin, could not be reached. The public relations executive at Viking-Penguin, Paul Slovak, didn’t respond to our email, and Viking-Penguin refused to answer 60 Minutes’ questions or speak to Kroft, who, in a classic ambush scene, tried to grill his quarry at a book signing, only to be led away by security.
But the embattled author did try to defend himself to his hometown newspaper, The Bozeman, Montana, Daily Chronicle. “I hope these allegations and attacks, the people doing these things, know this could be devastating for tens of thousands of girls, for the sake of Nielsen ratings and Emmys,” Mortenson told the paper in a phone interview on Friday, after 60 Minutes began publicizing its exclusive. In a later statement, he conceded that his account of his descent from K2 was “a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993.”
Kroft’s revelations are much more serious than a publishing scandal akin to the exposure of James Frey’s largely fantasized 2003 autobiography, A Million Little Pieces. Until Sunday night, the 53-year-old Mortenson was so respected an authority on the exotic region that Washington think tanks such as the Aspen Institute regularly invited him to speak. Top American generals such as David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal ardently sought Mortenson’s advice and depended on him to set up meetings between he U.S. military and village elders.
“[Mortenson] has associated himself and his schools with the U.S. military,” said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has chronicled the region’s education crisis. “General Petraeus himself has become a fan, recommends the book to everybody, makes public appearances with Greg. Greg has flown around on Black Hawk helicopters, and Petraeus has opened schools with him. There’s been some commingling there.”
The New York Times reported Sunday night that top Pentagon officials declined to comment on the accusations, but offered a defense of Mortenson’s work in the region. “We continue to believe in the logic of what Greg is trying to accomplish in Afghanistan and Pakistan because we know the powerful effects that education can have on eroding the root causes of extremism,” an unnamed military official told the Times.
Even President Obama was so smitten with Mortenson that he donated $100,000 of his Nobel Peace Prize money to the Bozeman, Montana-based Central Asia Institute, which claimed to have built more than 140 schools, mostly for girls—yet another exaggeration, reported Kroft, who said 30 schools claimed by the institute were visited or checked by 60 Minutes, and “roughly half were empty, built by somebody else, or not receiving support at all.” White House press secretary Jay Carney didn’t answer an email asking the president’s reaction to the 60 Minutes scoop.
Kroft reported that half a dozen staffers and board members have left Mortenson’s nonprofit in recent years over concerns about how its money was budgeted. The charity has filed only one public IRS return in its 14 years of existence, last year’s, and reported spending $1.7 million for Mortenson’s book promotion travels, including on private jets. Krakauer, who stopped supporting the institute nine years ago after donating $75,000, said he was told by a staffer that “Greg uses Central Asia Institute as his private ATM machine—that there’s no accounting. He has no receipts.”
It turns out that Mortenson’s allegedly questionable practices were an open secret in the charity and nonprofit world, but few were willing to discuss them with outsiders. One concern was that Mortenson is larger than life and intimidating, said an executive at a nongovernmental organization with extensive experience in education issues in Central Asia. “That’s someone you don’t want to cross,” said the executive, who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity. “He’s very controlling. Very protective..”
Another concern was that nobody would believe the charges.
“Who’s going to believe any of this that came out today? Because it is like taking down a giant,” the executive told The Daily Beast. “He’s a national hero. Anyone who would have spoken out would have been shot down on any number of things…You can’t just bring up the truth, necessarily, against that façade. It takes a 60 Minutes. It takes a Jon Krakauer.”
Like Saad Mohseni, the NGO executive expressed deep worry about the impact of the revelations about Mortenson. “There’s already so much bad news coming out of the region. Americans want the United States to get out of there. Greg was a shining beacon,” the executive said. “I think it will have a direct effect on any organization working in this region.”

Lloyd Grove is editor at large for The Daily Beast. He is also a frequent contributor to New York magazine and was a contributing editor for Condé Nast Portfolio. He wrote a gossip column for the New York Daily News from 2003 to 2006. Prior to that, he wrote the Reliable Source column for the Washington Post, where he spent 23 years covering politics, the media, and other subjects.
Mike Giglio is a reporter at Newsweek.

Friday, April 15, 2011

...To Show the World That Vittorio Arrigoni Sacrifice has United as As Human Beings...

His Sacrifice has United Us...
In One Color...
For One Day...
As Human Beings..
Not Related to Nationality..
Or Color..
Or Religion..
So Vittorio Arrigoni May Look At us... And Smile..

"A Beautiful Soul, a Big Heart": Italian Peace Activist Vittorio Arrigoni Slain by Militant Captors in Gaza Strip"

The body of 36-year-old Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni was found in Gaza shortly after his captors posted video of him blindfolded and bloodied. They had vowed to execute him unless their group’s leader was freed from custody by Gaza’s Hamas-led government. Arrigoni was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led movement that uses nonviolent and direct action methods to oppose the Israeli occupation. He had lived in Gaza since 2008 after arriving on a boat carrying humanitarian aid. We speak to Huwaida Arraf, a friend of Vittorio’s and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/15/a_beautiful_soul_a_big_heart

Friday, April 8, 2011

Howard Zinn contines to works his magic from a different space......

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Check this article out....very important piece............

A Doomsday Scenario Unfolds With Characteristic Foolishness
18 March 2011 By Keith Harmon Snow
"Only after the last tree has been cut down..
the last river has been poisoned...
the last fish caught,
only then will you find
that money cannot be eaten."

Thailand's Songkran Celebration from Novica United on Vimeo.
Thailand's Songkran Festival  by Judd Watts
In Chiang Mai, where Novica's Thailand office is based, the Songkran water frivolities become at their most intense around the towns moat. Several weeks before the festival, the city authorities make a valiant attempt to cleanse the moat of all foulness. They are motivated by the knowledge that many young locals, joined by intrepid young backpackers will be diving into, or being pushed into the murky water.
Kids take to the streets with water pistols and super-soakers, making a dry passage through central Chiang Mai almost impossible. Anyone is fair game, except monks and pregnant women! Watch this video to get a taste of this happy mayhem.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lucille Clifton (1936 - 2010)

A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton's work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the Ruth Lilly prize, Clifton was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980 (1987) and Next: New Poems (1987). Her collection Two-Headed Woman (1980) was also a Pulitzer nominee and won the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts.
Her poem (below) helps me in times like these...in times when WOMANHOOD...is under public attack!
Won't you celebrate with me
won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
—Lucille Clifton