Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't miss the cranky comments . So Missoula!

Schweitzer, don’t back oil sands project

Guest column by ANNICK SMITH missoulian.com | Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 8:00 am
Dear Gov. Brian Schweitzer,
I remember the stirring speech you gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2008: "We face a great new challenge, one that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our very way of life. ... This costly reliance on fossil fuels threatens America and the world ... We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made."
That day I was proud of my governor for being on the side of the future. Now, I'm not so proud. These days you say, "We need energy and the safest supply right now is coming from places like Alberta," meaning the dirtiest type of fossil fuel, extracted from tar sands. And then you say, "this is conflict-free oil."
I'm afraid, governor, that Alberta's tar sands oil is in no way conflict-free. Putting aside big-time environmental objections, let's focus on conflicts in Montana. The equipment necessary to mine and extract tar sands oil is gigantic. It is manufactured in Asia, not in the U.S. or Canada. Super trucks are needed to haul super machines, and the shortest, cheapest way to haul them from South Korea to Alberta is across the Pacific, up the Columbia and Snake rivers, then overland through Idaho and Montana. We will be the sacrifice zone for super profits for multinational corporations such as Exxon and Conoco, and foreign countries such as Holland, South Korea and Canada. Their plans, which your administration seems to be backing, would transform Highway 12 - a national scenic byway along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers - and Highway 200, along the world-famous "River (That) Runs Through It" - into a permanent industrial corridor.
Big rigs are 220 feet long, up to 29 feet wide and 30 feet tall, and when loaded will weigh up to 650,000 pounds. They will take up both lanes of highways 12 and 200 - narrow, winding, cliffside roads - and are heavier and longer vehicles than any two-lane in Montana was built to hold. Accidents are sure to happen. Only a couple of weeks ago, a diesel tanker slipped off Highway 12 and spilled 7,500 gallons of fuel, endangering the Lochsa River. What if it had been a big rig?
Think of what's coming. It's like a monster movie. Every night for who knows how many months, giant mechanical beasts will traverse our countryside and pass through towns such as Lolo, Missoula and Lincoln. They will delay emergency services and local traffic, depress property values, destroy historic and archeological sites, and harm tourism and recreational businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities.
In exchange, what will Montana get? As you, yourself, have said, "Since when has (an) oil company ever been interested in jobs? Let's be honest ... it's green technology that is creating the most jobs right now ... 10 times more than any other sector."
Here's what we'll get: low-paying jobs for highway workers who hold the stop-and-go signs on Lolo Pass and Rogers Pass in sub-zero temperatures; some work for police and local contractors; a few million dollars for state coffers that will in no way offset the profits the oil companies will reap by taking our shortcut. And what will Montanans pay? Taxes, of course, due in the long run to repair our damaged infrastructure; defaced rivers and valleys; and a probable net loss of jobs from tourism and recreation.
But it' not too late. We don't have to be a colonial state. This insult to our way of life can be stopped before it starts. Please, governor, return to your call for green energy and help the concerned citizens of Montana stop the big rigs from running over us. We've seen enough damage from heedless corporations to learn our lesson. Just look at the BP oil disaster in the Gulf; Massey's coal miner deaths in West Virginia; the dead and still dying people in Libby.
As a longtime resident of the Blackfoot Valley who loves her home place, as a grandmother who wants to pass the Montana she prizes on to her three granddaughters - and on behalf of hundreds others determined to protect our way of life - I suggest that you and your administration rethink your policies and keep those big rigs off our roads.
Annick Smith is a writer and filmmaker who lives in the Blackfoot Valley.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Stop These Wars - protest on Dec. 16

Real Hope Is About Doing Something
Monday 29 November 2010
by: Chris Hedges  |  Truthdig | Op-Ed

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.
Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.
Hope does not mean we will halt the firing in Afghanistan of the next Hellfire missile, whose explosive blast sucks the oxygen out of the air and leaves the dead, including children, scattered like limp rag dolls on the ground. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators, or halt the pillaging of our economy as we print $600 billion in new money with the desperation of all collapsing states. Hope does not mean that the nation’s ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope.
Also See: Chris Hedges | Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion
Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.
Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.
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Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey.
W.H. Auden wrote:
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the rich and the poor. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress. They cannot see that the suffering of a child in Gaza or a child in the blighted pockets of Washington, D.C., diminishes and impoverishes us all. They are deaf, dumb and blind to hope. Those addicted to power, blinded by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics. Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing.
I cannot promise you fine weather or an easy time. I cannot assure you that thousands will converge on Lafayette Park in solidarity. I cannot pretend that being handcuffed is pleasant. I cannot say that anyone in Congress or the White House, anyone in the boardrooms of the corporations that cannibalize our nation, will be moved by pity to act for the common good. I cannot tell you these wars will end or the hungry will be fed. I cannot say that justice will roll down like a mighty wave and restore our nation to sanity. But I can say this: If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. If all we accomplish is to assure a grieving mother in Baghdad or Afghanistan, a young man or woman crippled physically and emotionally by the hammer blows of war, that he or she is not alone, our resistance will be successful. Hope cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen.
Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.
Also from Auden:
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.” More information on the Dec. 16 protest can be found at www.stopthesewars.org.

And HBO is next to go down for airing Gasland?

Opposing controversial oil- and gas-drilling practices is a prelude to terrorism, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security.

Apologies to my own elder friends -- but I know they aren't watching Faux News anyway.


the future of magazines and destination websites

Alexis Madrigal on the future of magazines and destination websites. A rosy future as soon as they figure it all out?http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/11/creating-a-cohesive-online-publication-in-the-age-of-the-link/66574/

Having a good time with a Kindle simulacrum

I'm lately very pleased with the Kindle-for-PC page that Amazon has gotten up for the holidays.  Also billed as "The Best Reading Experience for Your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone". Download and read Kindle books - no Kindle required.

This means I can browse books forever, including a fair number of free books, and adjust the type size more easily than with Firefox. I may even buy some titles, if they can tempt me enough.http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311&tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=174967234&ref=pd_sl_97toxiwo3h_e