In Jonathan Franzen’s bestselling novel Freedom, the main character accepts a dream job from a billionaire philanthropist. He is charged with partnering with coal companies in West Virginia to set aside 100 square miles as pristine habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, an endangered songbird that is further threatened by coal mining operations. There is, however, a catch: first, the coal companies will mine one third of the area using mountaintop removal techniques.
Franzen’s fictional scenario is probably the most widely read critique of the tendency of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to seek “win-win” deals with industrial operators, however improbable or destructive. Oprah praised the novel as a “masterpiece,” and Barack Obama called it “fantastic.” One wonders, however, how many readers overlooked the implications of Franzen’s ENGO parody and the reality it depicts.
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate might not garner praise from Oprah and Obama, but it’s the second book on the New York Times bestseller list in recent years to take aim at the unholy alliance of ENGOs and the fossil fuel industry. And unlike Franzen’s fiction, Klein’s writing presents this reality free of artistic irony and distance.
Hitting a Journalistic Nadir: Cold-War-Style Propaganda Posing as News at the New York Times
by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening As shameful a propagandist for Washington’s war machine as the New York Times has been over the years, sometimes I still cannot believe the brazenness of its abandonment of even a pretext of dispassionate journalistic standards. One of those moments came today, when I read the left-column page-one article by Jim Yardley and Jo Becker headlined “How Putin Forged a Pipeline Deal that Derailed.”
In this Putin hit piece, the two journalists write that the pipeline in question, the so-called South Stream, which was intended to deliver Russian natural gas to southern Europe via a route through Bulgaria, was “Mr. Putin’s most important European project, a tool of economic and geopolitical power critical to twin goals: keeping Europe hooked on Russian gas, and further entrenching Russian influence in fragile former Soviet satellite states as part of a broader effort to undermine European unity.”
No suggestion here that laying a pipeline from Russia’s gas fields to directly supply (and sell) natural gas to nations like Italy, Austria, booming southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Rumania, Hungary and the Balkan states might make good business sense!
The demise of mainstream journalism, Chapter II : Philadelphia Inquirer Pimps for Philly Cop Chief
by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening When I was starting out as a reporter back in 1972, working for a little family-owned daily, the Middletown Press in central Connecticut, I had editors and a publisher who demanded the best from us. If I was covering a story -- whether it was a police blotter report, a town meeting, or a controversial decision by a local zoning board -- and I failed to ask an important question, I inevitably got a call from the editor telling me to get it answered and inserted into my article.
These days, leaving important questions unasked is not just commonplace, it has become the norm. This is particularly true when it comes to not questioning the assertions of government authorities.
Now we have the once-celebrated Philadelphia Inquirer, which in the wake of a spate of police murders of unarmed blacks in Los Angeles, Ferguson, MO, Staten Island, NY and Cleveland, OH, shamelessly pimped for the brutal and murderous Philadelphia Police Department and its complicit Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
We know that Oak Bay is going ahead with a clover trap/bolt gun kill of 25 deer in January 2015. Naturally they will not be announcing when the killing will take place.
DeerSafe will be holding a rally at City Hall on Oak Bay Avenue on Saturday, January 3, 2015 between 1 pm and 3 pm. Some signs will be provided, but please feel free to bring a heartfelt sign of your own.
It is not too late for Oak Bay to do the right thing. They could ask the CRD to renew the Regional Deer Management Strategy, with meaningful research into non-lethal management. The council recently agreed to a few more deer crossing signs, but stopped short of implementing lower speed limits.
"Public education" included linking to two awareness pamphlets on the CRD website to Oak Bay's website! A $300 fine for feeding deer and raised fence heights were the only other conflict mitigation measures that the council undertook.
The price tag is $1000 per deer, and we should be asking the Oak Bay council why that was a prohibitive price when the topic was immunocontraception.
But there was another Cuomo, the one that tried to stop the US publication of my book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy; the Mario Cuomo who went to court to try to put the Palast Investigative team out of business while we worked to expose the Bush Family election heist and the con job leading to war.
No, he didn’t. As usual with Mario, he gave a great speech—and won election by calling for the nuclear plant’s closure. But behind the scenes, the other Mario, the back-room wheeler-dealer, the toady to the bankers and power industry magnates, moved heaven and earth to stand in the way of the courageous statesmen and activists who actually closed this dangerous, radioactive monstrosity.
“Dos” and “Don’ts”: Things I Learned Writing about the Middle East
by Ramzy Baroud - Dissident Voice Writing and reporting about the Middle East is not an easy task, especially during these years of turmoil and upheaval. Following and reporting on these constant changes without a deep and compassionate understanding of the region will achieve little but predictable and lackluster content that offers nothing original, but recycled old ideas and stereotypes.
From my humble experience in the region, I share these “dos” and “don’ts” as to how the Middle East should be approached in writing and reporting.
by Buddy Bell - VCNC In 2002, at a time when insurance providers were unwilling to provide coverage for losses resulting from acts of terrorism, and when construction and utility companies were stalling in their development projects, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). They decided to socialize some of the financial risk, giving a federal government guarantee on insurance payouts exceeding 100 million dollars.
Over the next 12 years, Presidents Bush and Obama and six different Congresses made countless decisions to increase the risk of terrorism (and of a bailout under TRIA). Of course, the most brutally profound effects of those decisions were imposed on children, women, and men in other parts of the world. Likely the least affected people were the ones complaining in the business sections of major papers last month.
They are worried because TRIA expired Jan. 1. An unexpected fluke on the last day of the last congressional session is to blame.
“Everybody expected this would get done,” fumed Manhattan developer Douglas Durst, to New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman.
If the International Criminal Court takes up Israeli government actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, it could well find specific officials guilty of breaches of the Rome Statute of 2002. Article 7 forbids “Crimes against Humanity,” which are systematically repeated war crimes.
Among these offenses is murder, forcible deportation or transfer of members of a group, torture, persecution of Palestinians (an “identifiable group”) and “the crime of Apartheid.”
The Israeli government murdered Palestinian political leaders (not just guerrillas) and have routinely illegally expelled Palestinians from the West Bank or from parts of the West Bank illegally incorporated into Israel.
Your presentation of the war raging in eastern Ukraine is exceptionally one-sided and ill-informed. You offer no indication of who or what is responsible for the war.
You make a very shallow and selective description of the humanitarian consequences for the people of the affected region, leave alone the entire country.
And you give no indication of whether Canadians should be concerned over the side that the government in Ottawa has chosen in this war.
Toronto Star Dec 23, 2014
You do not report that the Ukrainian government, supported by Canada and by the NATO powers, has been bombarding the towns and cities of eastern Ukraine during the past seven months, including with the use of cluster weapons. You do not report on the people of the combat zone, including children, forced to live for months on end in bomb shelters, and those more than 1.5 million people who have been forced to flee the war zone for their safety, most to Russia.
The Challenge of the Islamic State and U.S. Policy
by Karl Meyer and Kathy Kelly - VCNV.org What to do about the political mess in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State and related political movements?
Shortly after the end of World War II, the Western powers and the whole world began to recognize that the age of explicit colonial domination was over, and dozens of colonies were let go of and took political independence.
It is now past time for the United States and other world powers to recognize that the age of neo-colonial military, political and economic domination, especially in the Islamic Middle East, is decisively coming to a close.
Attempts to maintain it by military force have been disastrous for ordinary people trying to survive in the affected countries. There are powerful cultural currents and political forces in motion in the Middle East that simply will not tolerate military and political domination. There are thousands of people prepared to die rather than accept it.