Week of March 6, 2011

13 03 2011

US Help Needed in Crises
Two crises in different parts of the world command attention right now.  One is natural and unavoidable – the historic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  One is entirely a human creation – the turmoil in Libya.  The Japanese people will need plenty of support from individuals and governments around the world.  (One helpful NGO that I recommend and support is Mercy Corps.)  The Libyan mess is more complex in that it’s hard to know the right thing to do.  That is, support the status quo and allow strongman Gadhafi to hang onto the western part of the country, or take an active role in ending his bloody dictatorship.  And if you do take part, prepare to be accused of getting involved merely to get your hands on the country’s coveted oil.  Still, I think crises like these are just the kind of thing that a superpower like the United States should be alleviating with its military and resource might.  And I can’t help but think that we could do so much more if we were not bogged down in two wars – one definitely a ‘war of choice’ (Iraq) and the other a war with an unclear purpose.  With all the talk of the US being ‘broke,’ and the clear challenges caused by debt and mounting deficits, you have to believe that our efforts in both cases will be compromised.  First link – the science behind tsunamis.  NPR Science Friday did a nice distillation job for a non-scientist.  Second – Mercy Corps’ site.  Next – two estimates of the costs of our wars. Looks like anytime now, we will be
talking about real money on those ventures.


Public Media
It was hard to miss the sounds of public media executives being trashed this
past week.  Give the righties credit.  Their ‘candid camera’ stunt dealt a major
black eye to NPR leadership and the whole cause of government support for public
media.  Still, I think this nation will be much the worse if public media is
further weakened by cancellation of government funds.  Though those funds make
up only a small portion of the media funding, they still matter. First link –
news item.  Second – we learned that the damning evidence against NPR exec Ron
Schiller might have been ‘doctored’ a bit by righty activist James O’Keefe.
Shocked, are you?  Me neither!  Third – Bill Moyers’ perspective on public
media.  Fourth – some analysis on why the right would LOVE to take down public
media, especially PBS and NPR with their impressive national networks.  Finally,
a look to the north on a similar issue.  While we fight it out once again over
the crumbs we toss to our public media organizations, our neighbors to the north
have decided to maintain their version of a ‘fairness doctrine’ in public
media.  Of course, that perspective is so old-school in modern, corporatist
America.  Can you guess which US president ruled when we decided we didn’t need
no stinkin’ Fairness Doctrine!  By the way, by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is worth
the read just to learn the nickname many Canadians have adopted for Stephen




Wisconsin – Front Line in Our Modern Class War
If you read this missive, even occasionally, you have seen ample evidence of a
trend that has been building in America since about 1970.  That is, the
concentration of wealth, income (and the power that goes along).  This is not
accidental!  Differences are stark between the top ten percent of the American
public and the remaining 90, and the differences are growing even more rapidly
between the top one percent and everyone else.  So few people are aware of
this.  And worse, masses of people think this is either OK, or is the way things
always were.  People with views like these might be correct in a different
context – America of the past, say, pre-New Deal, or Gilded Age.  We are
methodically rebuilding those wonderful times, my friends.  And what do you
think efforts like Scott Walker’s in Wisconsin and Rick Snyder’s in Wisconsin –
to severely limit working people’s rights to bargain collectively – will do to
those trends?  Look out, we are racing to the bottom . . . unless we take these
corporatists on. First – a little more from Michael Moore (see his complete
speech to protesters in last week’s IBI Watch).  Here, we have an interview with
Rachel Maddow.  Note the shocking wealth concentration statistic.  Second link –
the spectacle of state troopers dragging protesters out of the Wisconsin
Capitol, and the new involvement of ex-Senator Russ Feingold. Second, a
Christian Science Monitor commentary on Michigan’s unrest.  Next, a Henry Giroux
commentary that does a nice job of summing up various perspectives with a common
theme – ‘reforms’ begun during the Reagan administration are destroying the
fabric of our democracy.  Next – a perspective I have frequently offered.  Naomi
Klein is again explaining how our current labor unrest is the latest glaring
example of the corporatists’ longstanding effort to exploit crises to build
their ‘permanent’ corporate dystopia.  That’s the Shock Doctrine, friends.  The
last word is not a word at all, but a Sack cartoon.





Hey Bears:  Duck!  Hey Moose: Tough Luck!
It’s not a good time to be a large critter in Minnesota’s northern forest.  Lynn
Rogers, longtime researcher and champion of our black bears, has lost out to the
DNR in his quest to protect a small number of research bears.  Rogers has used
unorthodox methods to achieve amazing research footage bears in the wild.  He
and his staff ‘tag’ the bears with outlandish collars and ribbons in a vain
effort to keep bear hunters from shooting his research subjects.  He has sought
legislation to protect those bears.  Tough scat, says the DNR.  It’s
unreasonable to expect a hunter to see a gaudy pink ribbon on the bear.  Hey –
maybe this is just the Lady Gaga of bears, right?  So it’s likely that more than
one bear in whom Rogers and his staff have invested serious research will be
shot in the next hunting season –as has happened all too frequently of late.
The DNR is making a big mistake, according to hunting and fishing
advocate/commentator Dennis Anderson.  BTW, Anderson carries no PETA membership
card!  For the moose, on the other hand, it’s not human stupidity or
stubbornness, but unfettered greed and willful ignorance that seems to spell the
death knell.  Yup, it’s that old ‘great hoax,’ come for the massive mammal –
climate chaos.  Ah well, such is the cost of progress.

Environment Wrecking – the Big Picture
Warning – this link could lead to discouragement.  It  takes you to one of the
most comprehensive accounts of our environmental destruction that I have seen
recently.  It’s also pretty concise – a great way to get yourself informed.
Sadly, it does not offer a lot of ideas for hope or solutions.  But I firmly
believe that you can’t solve problems until you take account of exactly what is
going on.  Chris Hedges quotes from Jared Diamond – author  of Guns and Steel,
and Collapse.  Hedges says we are simply seeing the history related in Collapse
playing out on a global level.  Hard to argue.  Still, it’s no time to give up.

Some Good Environmental News
Some argue that small progress is meaningless.  I disagree.  Any steps that have
a net positive effect – such as those documented at these links – can be part of
the solution to our long-term environmental crisis.  Pick at least one and



Living ‘Car Lite’
Gas prices are anything but ‘lite’ these days.  Those of us who have bought more
efficient vehicles in recent years will suffer less from the bigger fuel bite.
But all of us can do our part to reduce greenhouse gas.  It’s easier than you
think – check these ideas from Across Green America.

Eating – Could Less Mean More?
Most of us eat too much.  A quick look at overweight and obesity statistics
tells that story all too well.  Research continues to confirm this notion –
eating less can be good for you and the planet.  A Time.com story for you, and a
hilarious Doonesbury comment on the same issue.


“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all
Republics.” –  Plutarch

Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




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