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Tender is the Fight

August 25, 2010

I’ll probably find something else tomorrow, but for today nothing better epitomizes the decadence and rot of the US Empire than two articles juxtaposed on the front page of the Boston Globe this morning.

In this most recent Gilded Age it seems that nothing can be talked about in terms of what it actually is, but only in terms of how much money it is likely to pump into some economy somewhere so the Globe was practically gushing about the prospect of millions of dollars being showered on Beantown and its environs with the arrival of a bunch of musclebound half naked men playing grab ass with each other for a few hours.

Newly sanctioned by Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature amid the hunt for fresh revenue, the UFC will debut in Massachusetts Saturday at TD Garden as one of the highest-grossing events ever on Causeway Street. With box-office prices ranging from $75 to $600, the UFC’s inaugural mixed martial arts night in Boston is expected to generate nearly $4 million in ticket sales and pump an additional $6 million into the recession-racked local economy.

No single indoor sports event in Boston history has generated a greater financial boon for the state, industry analysts said. The UFC, in addition to possibly selling out the Garden (average ticket price: $244), expects to draw as many as 30,000 to a Fan Expo Friday and Saturday at the Hynes Convention Center (advance ticket prices: $50 for both days, $30 for Friday only, $35 for Saturday).

With as many as 1 million customers also projected to spend $45 each for a pay-per-view broadcast of the event, the UFC has gone from banned-in-Boston to striking it rich in the Bay State.

It’s as if the money being spent to view fabricly-challenged men roll around on the ground with their faces in each other’s crotch had miraculously appeared out of the ether for just this single purpose, with people paying the better part of a week’s earnings not simply to watch the spectacle, but to do their part in putting Boston’s books back in the black with a righteous pilgrimage to the Temple of Mammon. No thought at all that this is simply money that won’t be spent somewhere else on something far more useful and beneficial.

Something like a house.

58 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    August 25, 2010 8:22 am

    The big front page news in the Globe in recent weeks has been about the state’s attempts to “help the economy” by bringing in a few brand spanking new casinos, because somehow an enterprise designed to make people poorer will produce great wealth for all. I suppose any break from that stupidity should be viewed as a welcome change, even if it is just stupidity of a slightly different sort.

    Side note: Never having attended one of these events myself perhaps I’m making an unwarranted generalization, but I suspect that if challenged, many of those paying good money to watch scantily clad men play grab ass would be the first to trumpet their unequivocal heterosexuality.

  2. cometman permalink*
    August 25, 2010 8:50 am

    Not sure what to make of this one yet –Deepwater Oil Plume in Gulf Degraded by Microbes, Study Shows.

    An intensive study by scientists with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found that microbial activity, spearheaded by a new and unclassified species, degrades oil much faster than anticipated. This degradation appears to take place without a significant level of oxygen depletion.

    “Our findings show that the influx of oil profoundly altered the microbial community by significantly stimulating deep-sea psychrophilic (cold temperature) gamma-proteobacteria that are closely related to known petroleum-degrading microbes,” says Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist with Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and principal investigator with the Energy Biosciences Institute, who led this study. “This enrichment of psychrophilic petroleum degraders with their rapid oil biodegradation rates appears to be one of the major mechanisms behind the rapid decline of the deepwater dispersed oil plume that has been observed.”

    Based on recent studies of microbial mats full of unidentified microbes just waiting for an ecological niche to exploit, it isn’t surprising that these types of microbes have been able to flourish. On the surface this sounds like a good development for the ocean life in the Gulf. However even if 100% true, what isn’t known is the effect that an exploding population of previously undiscovered microbes might have in the long term. And of course oil companies will likely use this as an excuse for why further environmental safegaurds aren’t really needed.

    But reading further into the article, one has to wonder just how true this new information is –

    Hazen, who has studied numerous oil-spill sites in the past, is the leader of the Ecology Department and Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division. He conducted this research under an existing grant he holds with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) to study microbial enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. EBI is a partnership led by the University of California (UC) Berkeley and including Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois that is funded by a $500 million, 10-year grant from BP.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 25, 2010 1:33 pm

      Here’s the WAPO article on this story that is being linked to widely. It mentions a somewhat conflicting study done by Woods hole researchers recently.

      The findings point to a different conclusion from that drawn by readers of a study published last week, also in the journal Science. That research by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute found no reduction in the oxygen content of the gigantic oil plume, suggesting that microbes were consuming the oil very slowly.

      Later in that article, the Woods Hole researcher seems to think the two studies are complementary.

      Washington’s blog is skeptical about the latest study and cites this Reuter’s article where the same Woods Hole scientist is quoted and this time he seems to think the new study may have missed something.

      According to WHOI oceanographer Richard Camilli, the plume could already be hundreds of miles from its previous location, and Hazen’s team could simply have missed it. “The plume is not a stationary object,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

      Washington’s blog also notes that dispersants are either not breaking down quickly or are still being widely used with the latter option being more likely.

      I remain very skeptical of this report. First, the study that makes the situation look better for all involved comes from WAPO, known in recent years for having no problem “catapulting the propaganda”. Second, as already mentioned the study was funded by BP. And third, haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere yet so it’s worth a reminder that the University of California was the largest single donor to Obama’s presidential campaign and UC Berkeley professor Steven Chu was later appointed Secretary of Energy.

      So is it just a coincidence that a study funded by BP and run by Barry’s home state university and his largest campaign donor all of a sudden finds a new microbe that appears to solve so many problems? That is one very big coinky-dink.

  3. cometman permalink*
    August 25, 2010 10:24 am

    How to keep the peasants in line when the Empire is crumbling? Three easy steps.




    Because they’re won’t be any blowback if they’re all pre-emptively dead.

  4. artemis54 permalink
    August 25, 2010 10:49 am

    Getting my camera in order, and if all goes well will be posting some pics.

    Maya Lin will be dedicating Story Circles, the latest completed chunk of her sprawling Confluence Project, at Sacajawea State Park in Pasco on Friday morning.

    The entire project has been so understated. It will be interesting to see who shows up.

    I became the designated witness when friends found out about this too late, including a couple vets who will be out of town and have long wanted to see her in person.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 25, 2010 11:09 am

      The Confluence Project

    • cometman permalink*
      August 25, 2010 12:21 pm

      Very nice. Please post some pics if you get them!

  5. cometman permalink*
    August 25, 2010 12:37 pm

    Some links.

    Alan Simpson, the hand picked head of Barry’s Deficit Commission is a whiny ass tittie baby. But will Barry heed the calls for his ouster seeing as Simpson is not black?

    Not to be outdone, the corporate ruling class is having a hissy fit over proposed new SEC rules which won’t accomplish anything. The new rules would purportedly allow shareholders to appoint board members, but only if they own at least 3% of shares outstanding and have held them for 2-3 years. Great if you’re Warren Buffett – go screw if your net worth is not in the billions. Thanks for nothing Mary Schapiro, you worthless hack.

    Another simple solution being ignored because it might cost a rich guy some pocket change. After a salmonella outbreak in Britain a few years back, the UK began requiring vaccinations for chickens which basically solved the problem. Not so in the US – U.S. Rejected Hen Vaccine Despite British Success. Because that would be admitting we’re commies.

    Severe drought and strong winds lead to a fucking fire tornado in Brazil.

    And a little levity from The Onion-
    TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 25, 2010 2:25 pm

      Those are socialist chickens.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 26, 2010 1:28 pm

      Well, that didn’t take long. Barry tells the not-black Alan Simpson apology accepted.

      Get ready to kiss Social Security goodbye.

  6. cometman permalink*
    August 25, 2010 12:57 pm

    Assange and wikileaks’ latest release takes a look at a CIA report detailing what might happen if it became known that the US was an exporter of terrorism.

    That’s going to leave a mark.

  7. artemis54 permalink
    August 25, 2010 2:43 pm

    Huge victory in Orissa!

    India’s environment minister has blocked Vedanta’s bauxite mine on Niyamgiri.

    Report from Glen Barry

    Report from Survival International

    While the Indian government itself has been inching its way toward this decision for a while, credit must go to EI, to Survival International for its relentless campaign, and most of all to the Dongria Kondh for their steadfastness against all odds.

    And their humor too. I still think the counter offer to blow up St Paul’s in London for its minerals caught the attention of British investors and influenced the mass withdrawal of money from Vedanta’s coffers.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 26, 2010 10:05 am

      Very good news. And I see from the government report that some of the land that will be preserved is tiger and elephant habitat. Woo hoo! They need all the help they can get.

      Seems like these indigenous peoples are the ones having the most success fighting against the multinationals. If you face them down but can operate a phone, you’re shit out of luck. Can’t remember what country it was off the top of my head, but there was one South American group that refused to be moved and won a victory a year or two ago (after some violence had occurred). Peru maybe? Anyway, it seems like these people for whatever reason are able to get a little more sympathy when push comes to shove. They need to milk it for all it’s worth because their preserved lands may eventually be able to re-boot a little biodiversity into this blue dot once the West is forced to stop desecrating what remains when the oil runs out. Maybe they’ll be able to teach the rest of the ‘developed’ world how not to starve too.

  8. artemis54 permalink
    August 26, 2010 2:52 am

    Micro Frog

    Technically the second smallest frog in the world. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a terrarium of these in maybe a wine glass?

    • cometman permalink*
      August 26, 2010 6:43 am

      And what a nice name for them too! The word ‘nepenthe’ rung a bell but I couldn’t remember exactly what it meant so I looked it up. From the wikipedia entry

      Nepenthe (Ancient Greek: Νηπενθές), is a medicine for sorrow, literally, an anti-depressant – a “drug of forgetfulness” mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Greek mythology, depicted as originating in Egypt.

      The word nepenthe first appears in the fourth book of Homer’s Odyssey, Rhapsody D, (verses 220-221). Figuratively, it means “the one that chases away sorrow” (ne = not, penthos = grief, sorrow, mourning; so, literally, it means ‘not-sorrow’ or ‘anti-sorrow’). In the Odyssey, Nepenthes pharmakon (i.e. an anti-sorrow drug) is a magical potion given to Helen by an Egyptian queen. It quells all sorrows with forgetfulness.

      • artemis54 permalink
        August 26, 2010 1:25 pm

        The “-icola” just means resident of or native to. Still it is a happy accident.

        On the NW coast, Frog is the bringer of happiness, esp kind of silly happiness. Many stories about the people being depressed for one reason or another. Usually Raven sees their sad condition and searches out Frog to bring him back and make them laugh. To me it is interesting, the emphasis on the desperate need of people to laugh in order to be healthy.

  9. cometman permalink*
    August 26, 2010 12:18 pm

    Well go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-lleeeeee! Sur-prise sur-PRISE! Former RNC chair Ken Mehlman admits he’s gay. Not only that, he now wants to fight for gay marriage rights.

    I might have a little sympathy for the guy since he evidently struggled coming out to friends and family which had to be a very difficult situation. But whether or not his friends and family knew he was gay, he did, and yet still still worked for the GOP who deliberately used the gay marriage issue to rile up their base for years, without a peep coming from Mehlman publicly. This issue made gay bashing OK for a significant portion of the population , something which indirectly at least leads to incidents like this one:

    The city of Covington, KY has been hit with a recent spate of incidents targeted toward LGBT individuals, and the community is now trying to come together and respond.

    One particularly violent attack that has become a catalyst for greater awareness occurred at 1:00 a.m. on Aug. 15, when a group of men and women, both gay and straight, were attacked by four people, including a man with Swastika tattoos and Aryan Nation symbols all over his body.

    Not only that, but Mehlman continues in his support for the GOP and suggests that gays should still want to join the Republican party. From the Atlantic article-

    He [Mehlman] often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called “the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now.”

    Riiiiight. I think Jon Stewart pre-emptively destroyed that piss-poor argument last week with this bit about Team Mohammed v Team Jeebus.

    Coming out did require some courage on Mehlman’s part so I won’t heap as much opprobrium on him as I might have, but I do find myself in agreement with the sentiments at the end of this piece – Ken Mehlman Asks for Something He Wasn’t Able to Give Himself.

    Ken. Look in the mirror. Either change the party you’re in by fighting the forces of evil within it (and I do call The Family evil deliberately), or take a real stand, denounce your past, those you led, the agenda you were a part of, or leave the party and become an activist like David Brock has.

    You want my understanding?

    You have to earn it.

    You spent a long time earning my contempt.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 26, 2010 1:20 pm

      I know the Official Gay Line is that everyone has to come out on their own terms, blah de blah bloppety blah blah, but like Berry I can find nothing in my heart but contempt for this creature.

      It can be difficult to explain sometimes that gay cuts across all lines – racial, socioeconomic status, etc – so inevitably there are quite a number of gay people who are just disgusting pigs. It reminds me of the time when I was driving cab and wound up stealing a sizable amount of money from a blind man – well, just failing to go to the trouble require to return the money he had spilled all over the cab, I didn’t realize until I was twenty miles down the road.

      He deserved it, because he was such an abusive fucking pig, disability be damned.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:50 pm

      The real point that needs to be emphasized is that our worthless piece of shit president is to the right of well over half the country on this issue – including Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck – and continues to dig his heels in further.

      Obama is a complete turkey on LGBT issues, a turkey on environmental issues – he obviously has no fucking clue, a turkey on social security, labor, the budget, the DoD, the various wars.

      And we are supposed to support this piece of shit, according to the pom pom girls, because it could be worse. How much worse could it be to at least have an honest opponent in office instead of a lying sack of shit like Obama?

      • cometman permalink*
        August 27, 2010 7:53 am


    • artemis54 permalink
      August 27, 2010 6:20 am

      I can’t wait to hear Miss Graham’s take. Maybe she’ll trot it out on Press the Meat?

  10. cometman permalink*
    August 26, 2010 12:29 pm

    Related to the link I posted a few days ago about US environmental activists being detained, this one is pretty chilling – Facebook “friending” lands activist Rod Coronado in prison .

    Animal rights and environmental activist Rod Coronado finds himself in federal prison for becoming a “friend” with part-time Missoula resident and Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle on Facebook.

    In a federal court document (PDF) dated July 14, 2010, U.S. Probation Officer Rhonda J. Wallock claimed that Coronado, convicted of felony conspiracy in 2006, violated the special conditions of his court-ordered supervision.

    “In monitoring Mr. Coronado’s Facebook account,” Wallock wrote, “this officer found Michael Roselle to be a ‘friend’ of Mr. Coronado. According to FBI intelligence and a criminal history investigation of Michael Roselle, he is a well-known environmental activist who has a history of condoning direct action and violence as a means of protest or demonstration.”

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 26, 2010 1:13 pm

      That’s what I’m talking about. You have to be careful out there/here. Inane babbling a la the pom pom girls is tolerated. Any suggestion of real change is not.

      • cometman permalink*
        August 27, 2010 8:03 am

        Matt Taibbi seems a little spooked as well for the same reasons we’ve been touching on. His latest post is well worth reading in full. A snippet:

        There’s nothing in the world more tired than a progressive blogger like me flipping out over the latest idiocies emanating from the Fox News crowd. But this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before. What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution.

        I don’t find his comparisons of the current media climate here to that in Rwanda before the massacres all that hyperbolic. Kinda wish I did, but people are acting on the bullshit they see on the TV. Just isolated incidents here and there so far, but who knows what might turn a slow burn into a conflagration if the media keeps fanning the flames? Definitely getting a little scary out there.

  11. cometman permalink*
    August 26, 2010 1:15 pm

    Some links –

    Ted Rall finds out first hand that Barry’s program to prevent people from losing their homes is just another scam. After documenting his fruitless quest for assistance, he concludes:

    At this time I would like to express my unvarnished admiration for the ruthless cynicism that led the executives at Chase Home Finance to conceive of a fake lending branch entirely dedicated to increasing foreclosures, improving their public image, and driving distressed homeowners crazy.


    I would also like to volunteer for the firing squad if and when these scumbags get what they deserve.

    Very interesting anecdotal piece from Yves Smith. In conversations with heavy hitters in the financial world, she finds that even they are looking for an FDR to save capitalism from itself.

    And some resistance right here in the US! Haven’t seen much of that lately. Not waiting for a union to form, non-union hotel workers in Cali walk off the job. An increasing trend according to the article. About time.

  12. artemis54 permalink
    August 26, 2010 2:16 pm

    This just in:

    Buddhists riot, demand that Diamond Sutra be burned along with Koran.

  13. artemis54 permalink
    August 27, 2010 6:18 am

    Have to run, and am leaving this as a sort of reminder to myself to try and track it down later: I received an email claiming that the volcanic eruption in Iceland was carbon neutral or better in that the grounded planes would have emitted more co2 than the volcano did. ?? All tangled up and originated in an extremely caustic response to one of Breitbart’s idiotic posts.

    American Petroleum Institute is carpet bombing msnbc with their new ad campaign, pre-emptive against any climate legislation.

    Well worth the time: Cognitive Dissonance Theater

    • cometman permalink*
      August 27, 2010 9:48 am

      Good talk. I do agree with her that hauling CEOs before Congress is mostly just a huge waste of time. But I have to disagree when she says this practice is ‘cathartic’ for the general public. I can’t think of anything more enraging than to see a bunch of jackasses get before the public and tell everyone “I don’t know, I can’t remember, etc” and then be let off the hook to go back to raping and pillaging. Cathartic it definitely is not.

      I think she’s absolutely right than we must reduce our consumption rather than fall for greenwashing and the best way to do it to increase the cost. But I disagree that a $1 per gallon increase would be too much. The price shot up way more than a buck in a pretty short time a few years ago and people dealt with it. An extra $.30/gallon by 2020 isn’t going to cut it.

  14. cometman permalink*
    August 27, 2010 9:54 am

    We were speculating the other day that it would be nice if the Bill Gates foundation stepped up and saved the Russian seed bank that it slated for destruction. Just found out why that isn’t likely to happen. Looks like the Gates Foundation has been too busy buying up shares of fucking Monsanto instead.

    More detail here.

    Ratfuckers all.

  15. cometman permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:25 pm

    Very good question in this article about Somali pirates

    Many reasons are given for what drives these pirates but the question not being asked is how they have managed to get away with extorting over a quarter of a billion dollars from the international community.
    The fact remains that despite the assembled flotillas from much of the world’s navies, with unmanned drones flying over head and satellites in space watching their every move, the Somali pirates of Puntland have been almost unimpeded in collecting their loot and returning to their lairs. No Delta Force commando raids, no cruise missiles, not even a smart bomb, little if any attempt has been made to bring these pirates to justice.

    Other than the high profile rescue of an American captain last year, there hasn’t seemed to be much resistance to the pirates at all. Since they are easily categorized as “terrorists”, and when the US says “A terrorist!!!! Jump!” the rest of the world generally says “How high?”, you have to wonder why they are allowed to continue operating.

    The answer –

    The answer to this mystery lies at the very core of US foreign policy which is based on using local gendarmes to do its dirty work, and of course, being able to distance itself from these crimes when they are exposed.

    The warlords in Puntland are allied with the Ethiopian regime, lead by Meles Zenawi, a Marxist guerilla turned G-20 statesman. With both regimes built on a house of cards the USA and its western allies are afraid to place any stress on the lot in fear of it all falling down. With the Ethiopian regime gone, who is going to enforce western interests in East Africa?

  16. cometman permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:28 pm

    More on the wikileaks saga.

    Quite a bit of detail about the rape accusations against Assange here.

    And this link lists Assange’s accuser as his own press secretary in Sweden.

    I have no clue what’s accurate and what’s not or what the hell exactly is going on.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 27, 2010 1:16 pm

      Evidently nobody else does either. Scott Horton at Harper’s has some more detail here- False Charges Ricochet in the War on WikiLeaks. He concludes:

      …as this incident makes clear, the war on WikiLeaks will be fought with unconventional tools and those following the story are advised to accept nothing at face value.

  17. cometman permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:45 pm

    Been reading Paul Craig Roberts for a few years now and his tone has gotten distinctively more shrill over that time. And I mean that in a good way in that he’s started shouting from the rooftops in the hopes somebody might pay attention. He’s gone from mostly just addressing the financial crisis to dire warnings of imminent collapse of the whole Empire.

    That being said, I thought his latest piece was a little over the top on first read through- The Nazification of the United States. Maybe it’s from hearing the pom-pom girls invoking “Godwin’s law” so many times in attempts to silence dissent among the ranks that I’ve developed an aversion to Hitler comparisons myself. Anyhoo, that feeling didn’t last long.

    Because then I read this – Ninth Circuit: The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves (without a Warrant) (even a broken clock like Time gets one right occasionally -twice a day might be a stretch though…)

    And this – Van-mounted body scanners coming to a street near you?

    And this – The Continued Stealth Takeover of the Courts.

    And all the other stories of a similar bent we’ve talked about in recent days.


  18. artemis54 permalink
    August 27, 2010 4:04 pm

    Occasionally Chris Matthews has his moments. His “I Have a Nightmare” segment on the Beck abomination had me in stitches.

  19. artemis54 permalink
    August 27, 2010 6:07 pm

    Uh oh.

    Looks like Maddow is on fire again tonight, re the Mississippi delta wetlands.

    “Fighting with God”

    If anyone can do it she can. The next hour is cancelled to see what she has to say.

  20. artemis54 permalink
    August 28, 2010 3:30 am

    There isn’t a bigger racist around than Aveda King. She’ll be on stage today with fellow nutbags Beck and Palin speaking in tongues and peddling snake oil and gold coins. By my count, this is the third time she’s claimed that the dna she shares with MLK entitles her to speak for him and that whatever insane bullshit comes out of her mouth should be given the same weight as his life’s work.

    “The dream is in my jeans.”

    She peddled this same pile of crap when she spoke against gay marriage as part of the NOM hate tour, and even elaborated that Coretta King’s diametrically opposed view on gay marriage shouldn’t be given any weight at all, as she was merely King’s wife and shared no common dna with him.

    This goofy bitch is a disgrace.

    • artemis54 permalink
      August 28, 2010 3:55 am

      Beck is predicting miracles for today. How about this for a miracle: Lincoln gets up out of his chair, bites the heads off Beck, Palin, and King, maybe takes a shit in the resulting holes, and sits back down.

      • sisdevore permalink
        August 28, 2010 11:10 am

        I watched a few clips of the event, and it seemed dreadfully unfocused. Something about Jesus and combat veterans, and Mary Magdalene’s silky hair doing a foot job.

        • artemis54 permalink
          August 30, 2010 11:20 am

          I checked out a few minutes. Something about Beck looking for a little boy in the crowd, the new George Washington. Beck was crying. Moses in there too for some reason. All kinds a jeebus all over the place, with the one notable exception of the Matthew Jesus (“the least of these”).

      • cometman permalink*
        August 30, 2010 5:39 am

        Re-read Vonnegut’s “Sirens of Titan” over the weekend and found this quote which seemed appropriate to describe this weekend’s festivities –

        … the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.

  21. artemis54 permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:19 am

    Does America feel any different this morning, now the Beck’s got her on her back?

    • cometman permalink*
      August 30, 2010 12:14 pm

      After that forced co-mingling, I’m thinking the majority of Americans are doing an early AM walk of shame back home.

  22. cometman permalink*
    August 30, 2010 12:20 pm

    Good article about the flooding in Pakistan. Hadn’t realized that much of the damage can be traced to fairly recent massive deforestation rather than extremely excessive rains.

    And so it came to pass – as August began – that heavier than usual, but not unprecedented, monsoon rains fell on the largely forest-denuded northwest Himalayan, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains and foothills, swelling the mighty 2000 mile-long Indus river, originating in Tibet, and others such as the Jhelum, Swat, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their many tributaries.


    Dawn, Pakistan’s most widely circulated English language daily newspaper, said 80 million trees had been chopped down in the “protected” Khebrani and Rais Mureed Forest in the three years before the floods inundated the plains this month. In just 36 months the forest had shrunk from nearly 20 square miles to barely three square miles, causing serious damage to the environment and hurting the livelihoods of local herders, like Ghulam Hussain Khoso, whose ancestors had grazed their livestock in the woodlands for generations without devastating the ecosystem.

    “The claims and slogans of officialdom are completely divorced from reality,” said Dawn in an editorial. “The government is promoting ‘Green Pakistan’ even as trees continue to be slaughtered across the country in the name of development. The timber mafia is denuding the country’s woodlands. The situation is desperate and is deteriorating by the day.”

  23. artemis54 permalink
    August 30, 2010 1:07 pm

    A while back we discussed the made-for-tv movie “Temple Grandin.” Last night it won an Emmy, as did Claire Danes for her role in it.

    Grandin herself was evidently quite a presence at the ceremony I didn’t see it, my crusty navy vet neighbor told me about it this a.m. – and took to the stage with the crowd that accepted the award: video here.

  24. cometman permalink*
    August 30, 2010 1:43 pm

    Despite printing trillions of dollars to bail out bankers, the Powers That Be continue trying to snow people about deficits, saying there’s just no money for them. Very good catch in this post showing why that argument is utter horseshit. The author noted an NPR interview about the Fed’s program of buying up toxic assets where a Fed employee said the following:

    The Fed was able to spend so much money so quickly because it has a unique power: It can create money out of thin air, whenever it decides to do so. So, [the New York Fed’s Richard] Dzina explains, the mortgage team would decide to buy a bond, they’d push a button on the computer — “and voila, money is created.”

    And yet even after so much money was printed and showered on those at the top, the problem still hasn’t been fixed and the talk is of another round of “quantitative easing”, i.e. printing shitloads more money. There are various accounts of how much money has been thrown at the banks through various programs (check out the chart at the link above to get a better idea) but there seems to be agreement that the total is in the trillions of dollars, with $24 trillion being given as the largest figure the taxpayers could be on the hook for if none of the loans were paid back. So instead of trying to fix the problem from the top down, with 300 million people in this country, the government could have simply handed $80,000 to every single citizen of this country and wound up spending the same amount. I’d imagine this would have made just about every single person behind on their house payments able to catch up which would have kept the loans and associated CDOs from defaulting, negating the need to bail out AIG and so many other financial institutions. And most people would have had quite a bit left to spare which they could then spend and stimulate the economy, negating the need for any “stimulus” package. Now I’m not suggesting that showering the population with that much money would have been a good idea, but then neither was what they actually did, and there were options in between that could have worked helping people from the bottom up.

    So now as we get ready for another bailout, we are also having austerity measures being discussed with the oligarchy advocating strongly for cuts. This next article discusses why this is occurring –Race to the Bottom. The author argues along the same lines as Naomi Klein that the oligarchy is taking advantage of a bad situation to consolidate even more power and wealth for themselves and we will all need to get used to the “new normal” the oligarchy is trying to force upon us, with high unemployment, lower wages, and a dismantling of the social safety net.

    These are all things discussed here at length before, but again the question I have to ask is “Why?” It seems incredibly short sighted to me. It would be one thing if we were told that we simply must make do with less because the planet needs a break from our drastic overconsumption, and this was done with an expansion of safety nets and a reduction in hours worked, but that isn’t what we’re being told. The reason that China exports so much to the US is that in the US people can still afford to buy the cheap crap they produce while the majority of their own population cannot. But now we hear talk about busting more unions along with talk about bringing manufacturing back to the US (with the assumption being that reduced US wages have made the labor market here “competitive” again). This story about striking workers at a NY Mott’s plant shows that management proposed huge wage and benefit cuts not because the plant was struggling, but because the economy at large was and they thought they’d be able to take advantage of current high unemployment to slash their own workers’ earnings. But if in this race to the bottom we all wind up working for lower wages, who the hell is going to buy the things for sale when nobody has any more money? Deflation would be one answer, but the Fed is currently doing everything they can to prop up asset prices and make sure deflation does not occur.

    So why would you go out of your way to piss off hundreds of millions of people who are all getting poorer and also happen to be heavily armed in an attempt to add more $$ to your bank account which already contains more than you can ever possibly spend?

    Well, I finally finished the article I posted earlier about the Koch brothers and after hearing about their funding of the Tea Baggers, dropping hints to Glen Beck, and reading the following piece of idiocy –

    David Koch told New York that he was unconvinced that global warming has been caused by human activity. Even if it has been, he said, the heating of the planet will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he said.

    – I’m going to have to go with that Vonnegut quote above once more. The world is just full of dumb bastards who are so goddamn dumb they can’t even imagine such a thing as being smart.

  25. cometman permalink*
    August 30, 2010 1:48 pm

    Fishermen still finding lots of evidence of oil in the Gulf.

    Dispersants still being sprayed.

  26. artemis54 permalink
    August 30, 2010 3:56 pm

    Pavlovsk Station story aired on NPR

    Meanwhile, pending any new intervention, scientists and staff have been banned from the property.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 31, 2010 12:14 pm

      If the greedy bastards who want to get their hands on this property were interested in anything but short-term profits, they’d buy the land, keep it as a seed bank, and give the scientists the $$$ needed to improve it (not that I necessarily want private industry controlling the seed bank). Because if things keep going as they are, food isn’t going to get any cheaper.

      Ran across this article related to the subject – Broken Politics, Bubble Pricing, Environment, and Agriculture.

      Agriculture prices have been falling for a couple hundred years. Modern agriculture practices developed in the last hundred years are totally tied to fossil fuels, and no doubt, the last three decades precipitous fall is also tied to the preceding great rise in commodity prices caused by the oil crisis of the 1970s. But Mr. Hendry’s point is well taken, we haven’t invested in agriculture, in large part because our bubble financial system of the past quarter-century has not accurately priced its importance. If you want to bet which of the great environmental threats will be the first to bite us, I’d put money on our completely unsustainable agriculture practices.

      Here’s the video with Hendry the author refers to which discusses rising potash prices and the rush to buy up arable land in Africa by foreign nations like China –

      The video is discussing precisely those unsustainable modern agriculture practices without necessarily admitting they’re unsustainable. Loads of potash are needed for infertile soil only because modern agriculture has made it infertile. Not a big fan of this hedge fund Hendry I have to say. When asked if China buying up land won’t just make things bad for African farmers, Hendry seems to admit it will but says something to the effect of “How can things get any worse than they already are for these farmers?”. Um, well you could take away all their land, use it to grow products only for export to foreign nations, and they could all starve. That seems slightly worse to me.

      Try leaving some land fallow or rotating a crop once in a while and maybe so much goddamned fertilizer wouldn’t be needed at all.

  27. artemis54 permalink
    August 31, 2010 4:48 am

    Cuteness: baby fossa at Omaha zoo

  28. artemis54 permalink
    August 31, 2010 6:14 am

    New study shows that oilsands mining and processing are polluting the Athabasca River, in flagrant violation of Canadian law.

    The study effectively trashes the government’s monitoring program:

    Given the large amounts of pollutants released, any monitoring program that cannot detect increases in the environment must be considered as incompetent.

    In PNAS: Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low concentrations to the Athabasca River and its tributaries

    (antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, thallium, and zinc – bon appétit!)

    • cometman permalink*
      August 31, 2010 12:33 pm

      Interesting, especially in conjunction with this article about China hoarding exports of rare minerals – Backlash over China curb on metal exports.

      China’s draconian export curbs on rare earth minerals needed by the rest of the world for frontier technologies is escalating into a serious diplomatic and trade clash with the United States and other leading powers.

      Japan’s foreign minister Katsuya Okada issued what amounted to a formal protest at top-level meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing over the weekend, saying the sudden cut-off was “affecting the global production chain”.

      It is the latest sign of rising pressure after angry complaints by companies outside China that rely on this family of 17 metals for hybrid cars, mobile phones, superconductors, navigation, and a host of high-tech industries.

      China’s commerce minister Chen Deming said that Beijing would not back down over the export quotas. “Mass-extraction of rare earth will cause great damage to the environment, that’s why China has tightened controls,” he said, repeating the official line.

      Beijing set off shockwaves in early July when it announced a 72pc reduction in rare earth exports over the second half of this year. The country has acquired a near monopoly, with 97pc of global output after under-cutting the rest of the world with Mongolian ores in the 1990s. The sudden cut-off since July has drastically restricted supplies to the rest of world.

      The last US mine shut 14 years ago, discouraged by tough US environmental rules. The US General Accounting Office said China now has a “dominant position” with market power. “Rebuilding a US rare earth supply chain may take up to 15 years,” it said.

      The article doesn’t say exactly what the 17 metals are, but I’m assuming that some of them may be on the list of pollutants the oil sand development is causing since I know some of those are used in the gadgets mentioned in the other link.

      Then there was this near the end –

      Rare earth ores are not in fact rare, merely scattered and costly to extract. There are ample reserves in the US, Australia, Canada, Russia, and Greenland. A number of explorers are reopening mines but will not produce significant amounts until mid-decade.

      Maybe I’m being naive here or making too many assumptions trying to connect the two articles, but it would seem that some of those scattered and costly to extract metals are being extracted and dumped into the environment as toxic waste already from other mining operations. Rather than continuing to ignore the pollution, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense for mining companies to figure out how to collect these trace metals, so they can sell them and keep them from polluting the environment by being dumped into rivers? Obviously when the finished products are discarded that causes pollution too, but those could be recycled too if there were a will to do so. Sounds to me like they could be collected somehow from the oil sands, since they are collected when that’s what mining companies are actually after.

  29. cometman permalink*
    August 31, 2010 3:20 pm

    Woo-hoo for Greenpeace, going balls out and occupying an offshore oil rig off the coast of Greenland.

    The campaign group said: “At dawn this morning our expert climbers in inflatable speed boats dodged Danish Navy commandos before climbing up the inside of the rig and hanging from it in tents suspended from ropes, halting its drilling operation.

    “The climbers have enough supplies to occupy the hanging tents for several days. If they succeed in stopping drilling for just a short time then the operators, Britain’s Cairn Energy, will struggle to meet a tight deadline to complete the exploration before winter ice conditions force it to abandon the search for oil off Greenland until next year.”

  30. artemis54 permalink
    August 31, 2010 6:53 pm

    Northern Gateway Pipeline news:

    At a hearing in Kitimat, some Coastal First Nations leaders say no.

    Marine resources, whether for food, social or commercial use, are culturally and economically important to First Nations. We’ve spent the last decade creating a conservation-based economy that includes a very promising shellfish aquaculture industry. An oil spill would destroy that sustainable industry.

    On the other hand, Coastal First Nations people in the streets of Kitimat say HELL NO.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 1, 2010 7:32 am

      Maybe the government will start to get the message here. What they are trying to preserve is important in it’s own right. If that isn’t enough to convince people, then pull out the economic argument. There are A LOT of restaurants who want the kind of wild fish they catch and the sustainable shellfish they raise due to customer demand.

      Really wish I could find a link to the documentary I saw on LINK TV a few years ago about small time line fishermen battling the Canadian government which was siding with the factory trawlers over the little guys. One man said that they’d tried writing letters to their reps, had meetings with the government, and occupying government buildings which they were doing during the filming. He said if those didn’t work, there was always option #4, meaning time to start fucking things up. Unfortunately the government agreed on option 3 to get them out of the buildings and then immediately reneged on their promises. Most lost their livelihoods and some wound up committing suicide.

      I’d like to think the First Nations people won’t trust any bullshit coming from the government and if their demands aren’t met they won’t be afraid to try option #4.

      • artemis54 permalink
        September 1, 2010 9:03 am

        On a tangent, but Morocco has banned driftnets. This is quite a victory.

  31. artemis54 permalink
    August 31, 2010 11:21 pm

    Is it just me, or are Richard Engle and Rachel Maddow looking more and more like the same person?

  32. artemis54 permalink
    August 31, 2010 11:48 pm

    Finally someone defends the first freedom enumerated in the first clause of the first amendment without a boatload of ifs and buts and stills and backing and filling and naked whoring to the ignorant mob.

    Not Harry Reid, not Nancy Pelosi, not Anthony Weiner or Dennis Kucinich or Barbara Lee – cowards all.

    Orrin Hatch. And good on him.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 1, 2010 7:34 am

      Maybe now that it isn’t just Ron Paul but a mainstream republican Seanate leader saying this, the Dems can finally crawl out of their shells. Won’t be holding my breath though.

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