March 31, 2005

"The Wild Palms of Etowah"

Joe Bageant writes from Etowah, Tennessee, one-time "rubberized hair capitol of the world," in praise of holy madness -- giving crazed inspired voice to the divine monster . . . a so-called "must read."
"Elevating carnage to cultural protocol is very dangerous. And official rationalization of it is disastrous. Why isn't someone talking about these things?" We have no examples. We have no ideals. We have only corruption and self-justifying silliness in service of capitalism as it runs further and more terribly amok.
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March 30, 2005

Conservationist doublespeak

Deutsche Welle reports today that NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland) has given industrial wind parks a thumbs up. Although a recent worldwide study by NABU estimates that 60 birds and 50 bats per year collide with the average turbine, and that this particularly puts birds of prey and some bat species at risk, German wind facilities are claimed to be miraculously exempt from these problems.

Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin says NABU's findings refute the "horror story" that industrial wind turbines kill birds. Excuse me, Herr Trittin, but the evidence appears to do the opposite.

The NABU report is available in German as a 644-KB PDF file. It includes a 3-page summary in English, which points out, as has Paul Kerlinger at a recent American Wind Energy Association workshop, that habitat displacement, degradation, and fragmentation also are serious threats to birds. They also note, "Wind farms had significantly negative effects on local populations of geese, Wigeons, Golden Plovers and Lapwings." And, "There was no evidence that birds generally 'habituated' to wind farms in the years after their construction." And, "In Germany the relatively high numbers of killed White-tailed Eagles and Red Kites give reason for concern. Germany hosts about half of the world population of breeding Red Kites and has a particular responsibility for this species."

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The president's shoulders and the anti-life right

An article in Monday's New York Times examines (as if it's a new development!) Dear Leader W's blithe disregard for reality and his blatant insensitivity and ignorance. They call it "flirty" and "impish." I think they meant "asshole." Anyway, it is reported that Dear Leader receives a shoulder massage most Sundays "to relieve tension and muscle aches from exercise." Lest one think that his exercise regime is more strenuous than the job of running the country into the toilet and the planet into chaos -- and keeping these facts well away from conscious awareness -- it's probably not the exercise at all causing the strain. It's the continuous shrugging off of responsibility.

Free association corner: imp, chimp, shrimp. flirt, pervert, dirt.

((((((( )))))))

Meanwhile, on Counterpunch yesterday, Stew Albert wrote:

'What we of the original and most honest pro life movement should be saying to those who have stolen our words, is that we are going to take back the life force. You guys are hypocrites who forget about the care and welfare of human beings once they are born and can actually think and feel and ask questions about the meaning of life. You lose interest in them because they are no longer "pure" and "innocent" but let one of them experience a major trauma to their brain and lose any capacity to think and act. Ah, then the "purity" returns and those who want to end their misery and the artificial maintenance of a breathing brainless heart, become anti-life crucifying mean spirited absolutely evil Nazis. You guys must hate the fact that human beings have free will, that's why you don't care about executions, people living out on the streets, napalmed cities and back alley abortions. People with free will might commit sins, so let them live in hell.

'Let us progressive, liberals, humanists and reasonable thinkers reclaim the banner of life culture by saying, we are about stopping wars, providing health care, protecting social security, letting women decide about what should happen in and to, their own body, saving the environment, making sure everyone gets three square and nutritionally worthy meals a day and gets to think for themselves and speak for themselves and let people know that maybe they don't ever want to live on as a brainless vegetable, and let's reclaim life by making sure every homeless person is offered a home that isn't a prison.'

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March 29, 2005

Canadian seal management began today

Canada is resuming the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of baby seals, because seals eat fish. Humans eat fish, too, but the seals are the ones who get killed for it. The Canadians think it's their fish that the seals are eating and have come up with this effective means of managing the competition. (South Korea and Japan are having a similar dispute over fishing grounds -- one hopes neither of them looks to Canada for guidance!)

Bad as eating fish already is -- for them as well as for us -- the destruction of a whole generation of seals can now be added to the gumbo.

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March 28, 2005

Again with the meat?

To the editor, New York Times Magazine:

Kate Hirson, featured in "Kitchen Voyeur," March 20, complains about the depressing repetition of "the vegetarian menu." I immediately wondered why she picks on her vegetarian friends, since most non-vegetarians also -- perhaps more so -- tend towards repetition and predictability.

As Hirson prepared yet another hunk of flesh from yet another dead animal, I also wondered why so few people notice that what makes the meal interesting (not to mention palatable) is the vegetarian component. The animal part could easily be replaced with some of the beautiful root vegetables described a week before in the same space.

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March 26, 2005

New details of U.S. attempt to kill Giuliana Sgrena

Naomi Klein recently met with Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. The U.S. has refused to allow Italian police to examine the car in which she was fired upon. Here are some excerpts.
But when I met with her, she was clearly very, very ill, and that's why she's not on the show this morning. She was fired on by a gun at the top of a tank, which means that the artillery was very, very large. It was a four-inch bullet that entered her body and broke apart. And it didn't just injure her shoulder, it punctured her lung. And her lung continues to fill with fluid, and there continues to be complications stemming from that fairly serious injury. ...

... Giuliana is not saying that she's certain in any way that the attack on the car was intentional. She is simply saying that she has many, many unanswered questions, and there are many parts of her direct experience that simply don't coincide with the official U.S. version of the story. One of the things that we keep hearing is that she was fired on on the road to the airport, which is a notoriously dangerous road. ... What Giuliana told me that I had not realized before is that she wasn't on that road at all. She was on a completely different road that I actually didn't know existed. It's a secured road that you can only enter through the Green Zone and is reserved exclusively for ambassadors and top military officials. So, when Calipari, the Italian security intelligence officer, released her from captivity, they drove directly to the Green Zone, went through the elaborate checkpoint process which everyone must go through to enter the Green Zone, which involves checking in obviously with U.S. forces, and then they drove onto this secured road. And the other thing that Giuliana told me that she's quite frustrated about is the description of the vehicle that fired on her as being part of a checkpoint. She says it wasn't a checkpoint at all. It was simply a tank that was parked on the side of the road that opened fire on them. There was no process of trying to stop the car, she said, or any signals. From her perspective, they were just -- it was just opening fire by a tank. The other thing she told me that was surprising to me was that they were fired on from behind.

"A Problem With Wind Power"

A couple of excerpts from "A Problem With Wind Power," by Eric Rosenbloom:

'The DOE says there are 18,000 square miles of good wind sites in the U.S., which with current technology could produce 20% of the country's electricity. This rosy plan, based on the wind industry's sales brochures, as well as on a claim of electricity use that is only three-quarters of the actual use in 2002, would require "only" 142,060 1.5-MW towers. They also explain, "If the wind resource is well matched to peak loads, wind energy can effectively contribute to system capacity." That's a big if -- counting on the wind to blow exactly when demand rises -- especially if you expect the wind to cover 20% (or even 5%) of that demand. As in Denmark and Germany, you would quickly learn that the prudent thing to do is to look elsewhere first in meeting the load demand. And we'd be stuck with a lot of generally unhelpful hardware covering every windy spot in the U.S., while the developers would be looking to put up yet more to make up for and deny their failings.'

'We are reminded that there are trade-offs necessary to living in a technologically advanced industrial society, that fossil fuels will run out, that global warming must be slowed, and that the procurement and transport of fossil and nuclear fuels is environmentally, politically, and socially destructive. Sooner or later the realities of this modern life will have to reach into our own back yards, the commons must be developed for our economic survival, and it would be elitist in the extreme to believe we deserve better. So wilderness areas are sacrificed, rural communities are bribed into becoming live-in (but ineffective) power plants, our governments boast that they are looking beyond fossil fuels (while doing nothing to actually reduce their use), and our electric bills go up to support "investment in a greener future." And at the other end of this trade-off, multinational energy companies reap greater profits and fossil and nuclear fuel use continues to grow.'

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