Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

There is a great article over at earthfirst.com about how hard it is to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives (link).

It is amazing to me that something so obviously terrible as the fact that we throw away billions of pounds of plastics a day should be controversial. To anyone who understands what sustainability means our current behaviors appear totally insane. If we ever make it to a sustainable future, it will be illegal to sell products in plastics that can’t be recycled and it will be illegal not to recycle. This isn’t a matter of violating our personal liberties or big government intervention, it is common sense. We live in an unstable system now where manufacturers can put their products in any packaging they want with no regard for the full lifecycle of the packaging or the products or the toxic byproducts that go into making them and are released when they degrade. In a sustainable future these things will as seem as bizarre and wrong-headed to our decedents as doctors prescribing heroin children for coughs does to us (yes that was common 100 years ago).

People concerned about the environment too often fall into the trap of demanding that everyone give up everything they have to save the world. While we seriously need to curb our unbridled consumptive habits, we have reached a point in our technological development that we can build a sustainable world and give everyone a better standard of living and a higher quality of life.

The problem is not that we use plastic – plastic is great for so many things – that’s why there is so much of it. The problem is that the plastic we use is toxic and gets thrown out instead of recycled when we are done with it.

In a sustainable future, plastics will be non-toxic we will all have desktop fabricators (link, link) to make the parts we need to repair the things we own by recycling the plastic we use ourselves. This may seem far-fetched now, but 10 years ago I don’t think most people would have believed you could get a phone that would show you the location of all your friends, in realtime, on a satellite map of your neighborhood (yes the iPhone does that).  The way these things become real is for people to demand that they become real. We need to have the vision and see a better future and then we need to educate our friends, tell everyone we know and demand that the people with power make rational decisions based on sound science.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

BoingBoing has a link to an research study just released by the RAND corp. looking at how terrorist groups have been defeated in the past (http://www.boingboing.net/2008/07/29/to-destroy-al-qaeda.html).

According to the study only 7% of terrorist group that have been defeated since 1968 were stopped through military efforts. Effective policing and politics accounted for about 40% each in being effective at stopping terrorist groups.

This graph is amazing.

This graph is amazing

It is so crazy to me that people believe that the only option we have to make America safer is to spend a few trillion dollars invading other countries and killing everyone there that disagrees with us.
Whether or not you support these wars on principle is immaterial; fighting wars to stop terrorist groups is a waste of money because it is ineffective.
This fact is should make sane people appose war for purely practical reasons, totally independent of your political or moral views on the matter.
For some fascinating insights into why the US behaves in such irrational ways (and why we spend at least half our annual budget making war) check out the movie “Why We Fight“.

Read Full Post »

Now the president is writing for the Onion... Awesome!

I was searching for a quote by Hermin Goering and the first hit I got back from my poorly search was the fabulous headline…

President Declares ‘Freedom at War with Fear’

Which is pretty funny except it isn’t from The Onion but the White House.

These people are insane…

The quote I was looking for is from the Nuremburg trial of the Nazi leader Hermann Goering…

“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

In other news, apparently, in keeping with our foreign policy of isolating and not supporting unstable middle eastern countries run by cruel dictators we are now selling nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, because hey rogue regimes aren’t rogue regimes, they are “strategic allies” until we stop being friends with them right?

Read Full Post »

If you are are paying attention, you have no doubt heard about the US’s “extrodinary rendition” program where the CIA kidnaps sometime totally innocent people, often (as it turns out later) based on flawed intelligence, and then exports them to hidden prisons where they are tortured. Most of these people end up in Guantanimo where they get no trial and hence no press, but a few of them turn out to be arrested on such non-existent evidence that event he CIA doesn’t have the hear to keep them forever, and so have been released and told their stories. A number of these cases have been well documented and is currently the source of a number of lawsuits against the US government and others. In one case, a Canadian man was whisked away, tortured, and then returned when the US found out he was totally innocent of anything. He was since paid $10.5 million in reparations by the Canadian government who acknowledged that he was innocent all along and that the US had given them faulty intelligence.

This is scary shit and should be getting far more coverage in the US national media than it is. The Bush administration seriously claims the right to pick up anyone, even US citizens and hold them indefinitely with no lawyer and no right to a trial. Remember Jose Padilla? He was a US citizen, just like the rest of us. The whole dirty bomb charges never quite panned out since he was never charged with anything vaguely related to that. But he did get the chance to spend 2+ years in solitary confinement until he went crazy. With only very limited access to a lawyer and none of the rights you might think you get to have just by being American.

There is currently a lawsuit going on against the Jeppesn International Trip Planning private company, a Boeing subsidiary, that was allegedly contracted by the CIA to fly people to the secret prisons where they are detained tortured, etc.

Democracy Now has an interview today with a Mohamed Farag Ahmed Bashmilah, a man who alleges he was arrested in Jordan, flown to Afghanistan and tortured then held in Yemen without charges for something like 10 months until he was released because the Yemeni government realized there was no evidence he had done anything at all relating to terrorism.

This is crazy shit, and if you are American, your taxes are paying for it.

A quote from the interview

“At that time, the guard lifted the blindfold partially so that I would speak to the interrogator, and I saw another man who had a Western look. He was white and somewhat overweight and had dark glasses on. I realized then that they were probably handing me over to some other agency, because during the interrogations I had with the Jordanians, one of the threats was that if I did not confess, they will hand me over to American intelligence…
When we arrived at the airport, they took me to a hall. And without any precautions or anything, I felt that I was being pulled violently by some other people. They took me to another room. They started tearing down my clothes, from above all the way down. And I was being stripped completely naked. They started taking pictures from all directions. And they also started to beat me on my sides and also my feet. And then they put me in a position similar to the position of prostration in Muslim prayer, which is similar to the fetal position. And in that position, one of them inserted his finger in my anus very violently. I was in terrible pain, and I started to scream. When they started taking pictures, I could see that they were people who were masked. They were dressed in black from head to toe, and they were also wearing surgical gloves.
And then, they started in the process of preparing me for travel, and that consisted of putting a diaper on me. And then they put pants, which went down to below the knee, and a top with the sleeve to the middle of the forearm. And then, they also put some gauze on my eyes. And then they put what looked like headphones on my ears—sorry, these were not headphones; they were like little plugs inside the ears, plastic. And then they put gauze on that, on the ears. And then they taped that with very strong adhesive tape. And then they put a hood over my head. And then, on top of that, they put a headphone. This is as far as the top of my body was. And then they handcuffed me with a chain, and also they chained my ankles. Then they put a belt above the pants, and then they tied the hands and the ankles to that belt. This was after being slapped and kicked until I almost fainted.
And then they took me into an aircraft, and they had me lie down on the floor of the airplane. Then they strapped my legs at my chest so that I wouldn’t move right or left. The aircraft flew for about two-and-a-half to three hours. And I was in such a terrible psychological state, only God could determine. There was a lot of physical pain because of what I had endured, and also all the thoughts regarding what might happen to my wife and my mother. This is knowing that my mother was seriously ill, and my wife could not speak Arabic very well so she could be of much help to my mother. And so, throughout this flight, I was in some kind of a coma, and I would come to and I would faint and come to. And so, during those times when I was thinking of my wife and mother, I would be distracted from the pain, and then the pain would distract me from the thoughts to my wife and mother.
About three hours later, we landed somewhere. And then some [inaudible], and they handled me very roughly. They took me to a detention center. I was in a very poor psychological state… Then they put me in a solitary cell….”

read more | digg story

Read Full Post »

In 2002, a journalist was walking through Kandahar and came across a photos shop that was selling a collection of photos of the Taliban. The whole thing is pretty far out – 50’s era looking washed out color photos of effeminate men holding hands and showing off their guns. When not posing for glamor shots, these guys torture people for fun. Given that taking a photo of anyone that shows their face (or having a statue or even a shop mannequin with a head) was illegal and could get you killed, this is pretty weird stuff.

Here’s the Photo Essay.

Read Full Post »



File this under weird…

We were going to stay in one of the cabins at Zion National Park in southern Utah next weekend. We decided to camp since the cabins were obscenely expensive.

When I went to cancel the reservation I noticed that there were some odd options under “reason for cancellation.”

I’m sure glad the corporate folks they’ve sold the national parks too are looking out for me.

Is this menu some weird part of the effort to make everyone in the US more paranoid so we’ll support our idiot president?

I mean are there really so many people having to cancel there trip to Southern Utah because they’re being attacked by terrorists that it needs it’s own selection in the cancel menu — what happened to “other” as an option? I would think “too goddamn expensive” would come up as an option long before terrorism.

Not to mention, I doubt if there was a war going on I would be concerned with my canceling my vacation.

Read Full Post »