Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spotlight Scandals

Betraying the Planet

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.
But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn't help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there's growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves — the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation — may become annual or biannual events.

In other words, we're facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?


Demolished! 11 Beautiful Train Stations That Fell To The Wrecking Ball (And The Crappy Stuff Built In Their Place)

by Yonah Freemark and Jebediah Reed

NYC's Pennsylvania Station, demolished 1963

In 1963, America learned a painful lesson when Pennsylvania Station, an architectural treasure that Senator Daniel Moynihan described as "the best thing in our city," was torn down and replaced with a dreary complex that includes an office building and Madison Square Garden. The rail station, to this day the nation's busiest, was moved underground into a claustrophobic warren of artificially lit passageways and bleak waiting rooms. While there has been an active campaign since the 1990's to rectify the mistake by creating a new and worthy station a block away, the $1 billion-plus project remains tied up in political gridlock.

But the sad saga of Penn was by no means an isolated incident. Almost like a rite of passage, cities across the country embraced the era of Interstates, Big Macs, and suburban sprawl by tearing down their train depots. (Frequently, they just did the Joni Mitchell thing and put up a parking lot.) But time and experience are showing that train stations are vital organs in a healthy city, and removing them deadens the entire organism. The lesson is especially stark at the moment, as cities around the country face the challenge of rebuilding the infrastructure for regional high speed rail networks. Chicago–once abundantly blessed with grand stations–is today bouncing around ideas for a new high speed rail depot.

One lesson of this legacy is that what replaces a well designed and centrally located rail depot can is rarely of equal worth to the city. Following a tour of 10 great depots that were lost to demolition orders–and one more that might be still–and what stands on those sites today.

1. NEW YORK CITY: Pennsylvania Station

THEN: "The best thing in our city," according to Sen. Daniel Moynihan
Old Penn station interior

WHAT'S THERE NOW: The new Penn Station is a dingy labyrinth beneath an ugly arena
Penn Station today

2. MEMPHIS - Union Station

When this city's Union Station opened in 1912, it was the largest stone structure in town. But when the U.S. Postal Service announced that it needed new land in the city in the late 1960s, the magnificent building was chosen for demolition because it no longer attracted the crowds that it had once brought into the city. Any interest in saving the structure itself was ignored.

These days Memphis is expressing interest in being part of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.

THEN: A grand Beaux Arts depot for a thriving city
Memphis old Union Station
WHAT'S THERE NOW: A windowless postal facility surrounded by barbed wire

3. ATLANTA - Terminal Station

Atlanta was once the largest rail crossroads in the south. Travelers could get virtually everywhere quickly and conveniently by rail. Built in 1905, Terminal was the grand portal to the city. It had two Italianate towers and a huge train shed behind. When the station was razed in 1970, it was replaced by a government office building. These days Atlanta's intercity rail depot is a small former commuter rail station located far north of downtown, adjacent to a 16-lane highway.

Recently, Georgia governor Sonny Perdue–after scouting the passenger rail systems in Spain and China–has enthusiastically embraced the idea of a high speed rail network for the southeastern US. Of course, Atlanta would be a network hub–and very likely in need of a suitable depot.

THEN: A fitting portal to a regional capital
Atlanta's old terminal station
NOW: A government office building
Federal building at old Terminal Station site

4. BIRMINGHAM, AL - Terminal Station

In 1909, Birmingham opened its grand Terminal Station, which united the train services of six operators. The two block-long Byzantine-styled complex had 10 tracks, and when opened was the largest of its kind in the South.

Yet this station — which served a peak of 54 trains a day in 1943 — by 1969 only was seeing seven daily arrivals. As a result, the city chose to demolish the structure that year. Although the land was originally intended for a new federal building, a highway was built there instead.

Today, Birmingham is slated as a primary stop on the designated high speed rail corridor linking New Orleans and Atlanta.

THEN: An impressive and centrally located depot
Birmingham's old Terminal Station
NOW: A connector highway
The highway that runs over the old station site

5. CHICAGO: Grand Central Station

Perhaps more than any other American city, Chicago's destiny has been a result of its transportation links to the rest of the country. As such, it had something of an abundance of train stations. Even while it still has four commuter terminals inside the Loop, knocking down impressive stations like Grand Central did not yield much for the city. The site of this former station, prime real estate on the banks of the Illinois River, is still a vacant lot after nearly four decades.

THEN: Located on the banks of the Chicago River, the beautiful station with ornate marble floors, Corinthian columns, and a fireplace. It served travelers to DC and many other cities.
Chicago's Grand Central Station

NOW: A vacant lot


Technology graveyard

Musical Healing For A Region In Conflict

By Banning Eyre

The Qadim Ensemble, led by multi-instrumentalist Eliyahu Sills, brings little-understood worlds of music to a wider audience.

The Qadim Ensemble, led by multi-instrumentalist Eliyahu Sills, brings little-understood worlds of mAll Things Considered - Eliyahu and The Qadim Ensemble is a new consort out of San Francisco with a diverse repertoire of Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian and Turkish music. The musicians are out to create musical unity in a region of the world better known for division and conflict. In the process, they provide a gentle introduction into a vast realm of largely unfamiliar music. The group's debut album, Eastern Wind, is a diverse set of offerings that are beautifully presented. The players bring palpable enthusiasm to each performance.

Rachel Valfer does much of the singing throughout the album, and even when she's backed by a chorus of other vocalists, they rarely resort to harmony. Unison singing is a common thread that runs through many of these regional styles. The technique is showcased in the album's first track, "Im Nin'alu," a Yemenite Jewish song from the 17th century. The piece might be more than three centuries old, but its refrain contains an effective pop hook. The Qadim Ensemble chooses its repertoire wisely, with pieces that are varied, tuneful and short enough not to tax the attention span.

Eliyahu Sills has studied and performed jazz, Indian classical, Arabic and Turkish music — all of which encourage extended instrumental improvisation. But when Sills takes a solo, usually on the end-blown wooden flute, the ney, he is admirably succinct. The ney has been called the most human of Arabic and Turkish instruments, a reflection of the soul. Whether the music comes from Sufi trance ritual or a romantic Armenian lament, voice and ney create a sense of human communication with the divine.

Master musicians devote their lives to perfecting the classical and religious traditions The Qadim Ensemble dips into on Eastern Wind. That very American impulse to nudge disparate elements onto common ground inevitably risks offending purists. For the rest of us, The Qadim Ensemble makes little-understood worlds of music accessible and pleasing, without trivializing them. It's hard to find fault with that.


Why pay taxes?

Comics artist Mark Sable detained for Unthinkable acts

By Ian Randal Strock

Boom! Studios sends word that comics writer Mark Sable was detained by TSA security guards at Los Angeles International Airport this past weekend because he was carrying a script for a new issue of his comic miniseries Unthinkable. Sable was detained while traveling to New York for a debut party at Jim Hanley's Universe today.

The comic series follows members of a government think tank that was tasked with coming up with 9/11-type 'unthinkable' terrorist scenarios that now are coming true. (See this article for more on the series.)

Sable wrote of his experiences: 'Flying from Los Angeles to New York for a signing at Jim Hanley's Universe Wednesday (May 13th), I was flagged at the gate for 'extra screening'. I was subjected to not one, but two invasive searches of my person and belongings. TSA agents then 'discovered' the script for Unthinkable #3. They sat and read the script while I stood there, without any personal items, identification or ticket, which had all been confiscated.'

'The minute I saw the faces of the agents, I knew I was in trouble. The first page of the Unthinkable script mentioned 9/11, terror plots, and the fact that the (fictional) world had become a police state. The TSA agents then proceeded to interrogate me, having a hard time understanding that a comic book could be about anything other than superheroes, let alone that anyone actually wrote scripts for comics.'

'I cooperated politely and tried to explain to them the irony of the situation. While Unthinkable blurs the line between fiction and reality, the story is based on a real-life government think tank where a writer was tasked to design worst-case terror scenarios. The fictional story of Unthinkable unfolds when the writer's scenarios come true, and he becomes a suspect in the terrorist attacks.'


Bottom Line on Public Option

This won't come as the slightest surprise to those versed in health care policy issues. But I fear it's only barely permeated the health care reform debate in the country, certainly in Washington. And that's this: the opposition to a so-called 'public option' comes almost entirely from insurance companies who have developed monopolies or near monopolies in particular geographic areas. And they don't want competition.

Note, I'm not saying more competition. I'm saying any competition at all. As Zack Roth explains in this new piece 94% of the health care insurance market is now under monopoly or near-monopoly conditions -- the official term of art is 'highly concentrated'. In other words, there's no mystery why insurance costs keep going up even as the suck quotient rises precipitously. Because in most areas there's little or no actual competition.

It's something everyone can understand that if you have only one widget maker, widgets will get really expensive, and probably decline in quality. And the widget makers will pour lots of money into Congress or whatever the law-making power is, to keep their monopoly in place because their monopoly ensures locked in profits. It's market theory 101 (or perhaps, rent-seeking 102, depending on your perspective.)

That's basically what this is all about. Read the piece, it will open your eyes (if they're not already) and make clear why the opposition to a public option is about preventing competition.


Clarence Thomas reverses himself

Exorcism and the 'homosexual demon'

By Leonard Pitts Jr.

To Manifested Glory Ministries of Bridgeport, Conn.:

Perhaps you wouldn't mind telling me what a "homosexual demon" looks like.

I will confess that until last week, I had no idea demons even had sexual orientations. Or, for that matter, sex. Then I happened upon a video that is making the rounds online. It depicts members of your congregation conducting what can only be described as the "gay exorcism" of a 16-year-old boy.

He convulses on the floor as if in the grip of a seizure while adults circle above, apparently attempting to holler the gay out of him. They yell things like, "C'mon, you homosexual demon! We want a clean spirit!"

And . . . "Come out of his belly! It's in the belly!"

And . . . "Right now, I command you to leave!"

And . . . "Rip it from his throat! Come on, you homosexual demon!"

A woman fans a towel at the writhing boy. At one point, the child, limp and unresisting as a sack of flour, is held upright and vomits into a bag. A piano plays gospel chords in the background.

Originally, you all had posted the full 20-minute video on YouTube, but for some strange reason (surely not embarrassment?), you've since taken it down. Still, snippets survive and are as near as a Google search. The ones I saw do not make clear whether the demon ever poked its head out, but if it didn't, you have to wonder if maybe it was scared to. That was quite an unsettling scene, after all. Unsettling enough that it has landed your church in the middle of controversy and outrage.

The Associated Press reports that some advocates for gay youth regard what the video depicts as abuse and are calling for an investigation. They warn that this is not an isolated event. To the contrary, they say, things like this happen all the time.

The AP went to get your side of things and one of your leaders, "Apostle" Patricia McKinney, told a reporter the boy actually came to you seeking help. She said your church isn't prejudiced in the least. "We have nothing against homosexuals," she said. "I just don't agree with their lifestyle."

I know you're up against it right now, but I want to assure you: I'm not here to beat up on you, or to accuse you of being the bigots you say you aren't, or to call you a bunch of backwards mouth breathers who abused a confused teenaged boy. No, I'm just hoping you'll tell me what a homosexual demon looks like. I'm scared I may unknowingly run into one, so please help me sharpen my demon gaydar.


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Old dashed political career home

Debbie Rowe Doesn't Want Custody Of Michael Jackson's Kids

Well, that was fast. Michael Jackson hasn't been buried yet and Debbie Rowe has already opened up her no-lips to the media. In an interview with the prestigious and well-respected News of the World, Debbie started by saying, "Where's my cashiers check?" Then she went on to say that Prince Michael and Paris are not her ex-husband's biological children. Debbie says the sperm came from a donor and not from MJ. Oh, Debbie, you should teach a master class in class and taste.

Debbie could never talk about any of this before, because she signed a confidentiality agreement before she skipped off with a large bag of MJ's money. But now that he's gone, let the famewhoring begin!

Debbie said, ""I was just the vessel. It wasn't Michael's sperm. Just like I stick the sperm up my horse, this is what they did to me. I was his thoroughbred." And this is the part where my brain vomits...

While she was pregnant with Prince Michael, MJ wanted to marry Debbie so they could look like a perfect family. They never sexed it up together or even kissed on the lips.

After Debbie gave birth to Paris, she learned that she could never have kids again, "The delivery was so hard. My insides were all torn up and I was barren. When he knew I couldn't have any more babies he didn't want anything to do with me."

MJ reportedly bought her a house and gave her millions of dollars to go away. Debbie says she will not fight for custody of Prince Michael or Paris, "I know I will never see them again. I was never cut out to be a mother - I was no good. I don't want these children in my life. My children are my animals now."

If any of this is true, you better believe that some dumb ho is going to crawl out of a roach motel and declare he's "the sperm donor" just so he can get a piece. On a very special Maury.....


Global politics of ‘pretty’ women bends coverage of Iran’s election protesters?

With reporting opportunities strictly limited in Iran, images of Iran women carry the narrative. Much of the media focus is on young attractive women. The author wonders about complexities hidden behind the emerging icons.

by Latoya Peterson – with
Women's Media Center – for Women News Network

Images are driving the Western response to the Iranian elections.  The media, hampered in their ability to report from the ground, has elected to go with citizen videos and photographs of the rising civil unrest.  One early narrative that emerged, before the demonstrations against the results of the election, was of a beautiful Iranian woman, in modern clothes, wearing a loose headscarf and casting her vote.

We can't predict the image that will eventually represent the Iranian elections as the situation grows more serious each day. The original iconography of painted hands—with green representing the regime's chief challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi—has given way to palms painted red, to commemorate those who are dying.  A video is circulating of a woman known as "Neda," who was killed during the protests and is becoming a symbol for the protestors who feel betrayed by their government. One site proclaims, "We Are All Neda."

However, the pre-protest narrative needs a bit more analysis. One of the most recognizable photographs was shot by Atta Kanare for Getty Images.  A young woman stands facing the camera, a stern expression on her face and lips painted peach. A trendy pink and purple headscarf and sunglasses complete the look and she stares directly at the lens, holding up her ink-stained index finger to prove she voted.  Some journalists and bloggers have noticed that this and other photographs taken before the election results were announced, of proud young women lining up to cast their ballots, seem to focus on the beauty of the women engaged in political action, and this trend has continued in documenting the protests.  In the midst of scenes of chaos, smoky streets, and anger, small symbols of beauty continue to emerge—a hand with manicured red fingernails clutching a pamphlet, or a bright yellow headscarf framing a waterfall of chestnut hair.

Sex sells, but so does Iranian beauty, compelling even those who are disinterested in politics and current events to pay attention, if for no other reason to find out why the alluring girl in the photo has painted palms while she flashes a peace sign.  Advertising agencies understand that attractiveness draws people in, forcing them to pay attention.  In addition, photographers are known for working toward a poignant, beautiful, and memorable picture, so their focus on beauty should come as no surprise.  However, is the narrative around what's happening in Iran becoming dominated by the idea of what is beautiful?


The reality belt

Monday, June 29, 2009

The history of Iran

CIA has Distributed 400 Million Dollars Inside Iran to Evoke a Revolution

Pak Alert Press

Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution.

In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran.

"The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election," he added.

Pakistan's former army chief of joint staff went on to say that the US wanted to disturb the situation in Iran and bring to power a pro-US government.

He congratulated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re- election for the second term in office, noting that Pakistan relationship with Iran has improved during his 4-year presidency.

"Ahmadinejad's re-election is a decisive point in regional policy and if Pakistan and Afghanistan unite with Iran, the US has to leave the area, especially the occupied Afghanistan," Beig added.

FOX says Sanford is a Democrat

They do this constantly.
They know their audience has Bush-for-brains
so they mislead them and they get away with it.

If the other networks would call them on it
they'd have to stop - but the whore media refuses to do it.
FOX knows that 90% of America has no idea which
party this unbalanced nut belongs to - so they lie.


Interview: P.J. O'Rourke

Taking a spin: Driving like Crazy is travel writing in the classic tradition of Robert Byron. 
090629_pjorourke_mainAt first glance, Driving like Crazy (Atlantic Monthly Press) might appear to be a compendium of P.J. O'Rourke's entertaining, first-person automotive journalism. But crack the spine and dig inside and you'll see that the book transcends the genre. Driving is travel writing in the classic tradition of Robert Byron, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Redmond O'Hanlon. What does a self-styled, classic Middle Western guy like O'Rourke ? who just happens to have mastered the deceptive intricacies of the American idiom (as did Mark Twain) ? have in common with three English toffs? There are two answers to that question: a thirst for the unusual, and the intelligence to make it comprehensible.
You're a funny guy, but publishing a book about cars as Detroit implodes seems, well, dark.
Black humor is my forte. [Chuckling.]
Does the state of Detroit tell us anything about the state of the union?
It tells us a fair amount about the state of society. The automobile world continues to exist as a business, but it's lost all its fun, its cultural resilience. For 100 years now, since the Model T ? and it's been darn near exactly 100 years ? the automobile was what brought the romance of the horse to every person. You know, "chevalier," the word for knight, simply means a guy on a horse. To be on horseback, to be the man on the white horse, to be on your high horse, was the prerogative of the aristocracy until the Model T came along and gave horsepower to us all. But now the darn thing has turned into an appliance. What started with pleasure has ended in necessity.
Which is smarter: Detroit or Washington?
Detroit is smarter than Washington. Everything's smarter than Washington. Bringing government in to run the car companies is like saying, "Dad burned dinner, let's get the dog to cook."
What about the United Auto Workers?
I have a lot of trouble bashing the unions. I grew up deep in the Rust Belt, Toledo, Ohio, just five blocks from the Jeep plant. Every breath you took in Toledo was unionized. Even though my family was not a union family, the influence was pervasive. I'm not of it, but I'm from it.
Do autoworkers, compared with other workers, get paid too much?
Sure. But their paychecks don't always reflect the supposed realities. Every time a camel farts at an OPEC meeting, they get laid off. So, sure, they make $600 an hour. But they only work an hour a year. Even though I'm a Republican, I have trouble blaming the union guys. Because if you're a union leader, what are you going to do, go down to the UAW hall and stand on a chair and yell, "We're demanding less money from the bosses"? You can't do that. Pay scales, seniority, and various other problems did get out of hand, but it takes two. And you know the companies gave in to the union. The unions were perhaps over-demanding, but that's their jobs. The companies were over-compliant.
The government probably was no help here. The government put in a pay freeze at all the heavy-industry corporations in World War II. Which meant that the corporations, in order to attract the workers that we had to have to build our planes and tanks and Jeeps, had to provide benefit packages. That's where health care comes from. It didn't exist before World War II. So you wound up with these benefit packages. And then there are the demographic accidents to factor in. The guys that built the cars were all supposed to drop dead at 67, and their wives were supposed to live to be maybe 72. Now everyone lives to 110. [Laughter.] There's plenty of blame to go around.

The Surreal Appeal of the Falkirk Wheel

On how a remarkable piece of engineering bridges the eight story gap between two waterways. The only rotating boat lift of this type in the world, the Falkirk Wheel must be seen to be believed.

Connecting two separate water ways may seem, on paper, and easy objective to achieve.  What happens, though, when the two systems are twenty four meters apart?  Plus, the word apart here means in terms of height.  The solution?  An incredible rotating boat lift that looks like something from a steampunk movie.

Uncle Sam is following you

Feathered fuel tank soaks up hydrogen

Oregon Environment News
Going green, green living, eco friendly tips and articles

by Chris Spitzer

The gas tank of the future may be full of chicken feathers.

Engineers have discovered a way to store large amounts of hydrogen fuel using carbonized downy fluff, which could help pave the way to clean, green cars.

A practical hydrogen car has been elusive for decades. Before the announcement this week by University of Delaware engineers, a nonstop trip from Portland to Eugene in a hydrogen car would need a tank bigger than 100 gallons to store liquid or gaseous fuel, even under high pressure.

Treated chicken feathers work like a sponge. They soak up large amounts of hydrogen and hold it in a small space so the tank can be a conventional size and the fuel won't need to held under dangerously high pressures. Hydrogen creates only water vapor when it burns, unlike gasoline that emits carbon dioxide, a culprit in climate change.

"It's the most energy-rich material we have," says Roger Ely, an Oregon State University professor who specializes in hydrogen, "It's three times the energy content of gasoline on a pound-for-pound basis."

The problem is that this potent fuel is hard to squeeze into small spaces. "Once somebody cracks that nut, it's really going to help," Ely says.

Professor Richard Wool and graduate student Erman Senoz at the University of Delaware believe they may have found a solution.

"The question came up," Wool said, "of what to do with the six billion pounds of waste chicken feathers" produced every year. He experimented for years with various ways to use feathers and eventually wondered if they might store hydrogen.

Scientists have long known that hydrogen sticks well to carbon surfaces. Research has focused on tiny nanotubes, in which sheets of carbon are rolled into a compact space. The problem is nanotubes are expensive: A 20-gallon tank of them can cost more than $1 million.

Chicken feather fibers are mostly composed of keratin, a natural protein that forms strong, hollow tubes. The breakthrough moment came when researchers heated feathers to 700 degrees, causing a process called carbonization that created billions of tiny pores. They had found an ideal place to pack large amounts of hydrogen.

The new feather-based material can be produced at a small fraction of carbon nanotubes' cost. A 20-gallon feather-based tank would be about $100.

Don't expect to see hydrogen cars zipping along for another decade or more -- storage is just one of the problems. Production is another.

"There are no hydrogen wells," cautions Wool. A number of institutions, including Oregon State University, are looking at ways to convert sunlight to hydrogen.


Obama's First Coup D'etat

Written by Eva Golinger   
President Zelaya of Honduras has just been kidnapped
[Note: As of 11:15am, Caracas time, President Zelaya is speaking live on Telesur from San Jose, Costa Rica. He has verified the soldiers entered his residence in the early morning hours, firing guns and threatening to kill him and his family if he resisted the coup. He was forced to go with the soldiers who took him to the air base and flew him to Costa Rica. He has requested the U.S. Government make a public statement condemning the coup, otherwise, it will indicate their compliance.]
ImageCaracas, Venezuela -  The text message that beeped on my cell phone this morning read "Alert, Zelaya has been kidnapped, coup d'etat underway in Honduras, spread the word." It's a rude awakening for a Sunday morning, especially for the millions of Hondurans that were preparing to exercise their sacred right to vote today for the first time on a consultative referendum concerning the future convening of a constitutional assembly to reform the constitution. Supposedly at the center of the controversary is today's scheduled referendum, which is not a binding vote but merely an opinion poll to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans desire to eventually enter into a process to modify their constitution.
Such an initiative has never taken place in the Central American nation, which has a very limited constitution that allows minimal participation by the people of Honduras in their political processes. The current constitution, written in 1982 during the height of the Reagan Administration's dirty war in Central America, was designed to ensure those in power, both economic and political, would retain it with little interference from the people. Zelaya, elected in November 2005 on the platform of Honduras' Liberal Party, had proposed the opinion poll be conducted to determine if a majority of citizens agreed that constitutional reform was necessary. He was backed by a majority of labor unions and social movements in the country. If the poll had occurred, depending on the results, a referendum would have been conducted during the upcoming elections in November to vote on convening a constitutional assembly. Nevertheless, today's scheduled poll was not binding by law.
In fact, several days before the poll was to occur, Honduras' Supreme Court ruled it illegal, upon request by the Congress, both of which are led by anti-Zelaya majorities and members of the ultra-conservative party, National Party of Honduras (PNH). This move led to massive protests in the streets in favor of President Zelaya. On June 24, the president fired the head of the high military command, General Romeo Vásquez, after he refused to allow the military to distribute the electoral material for Sunday's elections. General Romeo Vásquez held the material under tight military control, refusing to release it even to the president's followers, stating that the scheduled referendum had been determined illegal by the Supreme Court and therefore he could not comply with the president's order. As in the United States, the president of Honduras is Commander in Chief and has the final say on the military's actions, and so he ordered the General's removal. The Minister of Defense, Angel Edmundo Orellana, also resigned in response to this increasingly tense situation.
But the following day, Honduras Supreme Court reinstated General Romeo Vasquez to the high military command, ruling his firing as unconstitutional. Thousands poured into the streets of Honduras capital, Tegucigalpa, showing support for President Zelaya and evidencing their determination to ensure Sundays non-binding referendum would take place. On Friday, the president and a group of hundreds of supporters, marched to the nearby air base to collect the electoral material that had been previously held by the military. That evening, Zelaya gave a national press conference along with a group of politicians from different political parties and social movements, calling for unity and peace in the country.
As of Saturday, the situation in Honduras was reported as calm. But early Sunday morning, a group of approximately 60 armed soldiers entered the presidential residence and took Zelaya hostage. After several hours of confusion, reports surfaced claiming the president had been taken to a nearby air force base and flown to neighboring Costa Rica. No images have been seen of the president so far and it is unknown whether or not his life is still endangered.

Michael Jackson set to be embalmed at the O2 Centre after missing the deadline for cryogenic freezing

By Daily Mail Reporter

Michael Jackson will live on as a 'plastinated' creature preserved by German doctor Gunther von Hagens.

Von Hagens has caused controversy with everyone from the Pope to the chief rabbi in Israel with his practice of embalming corpses with preserving polyurethane.

Yesterday, he declared: 'An agreement is in place to plastinate the King of Pop.'

German anatomy professor Gunther von Hagens

'An agreement is in place': German doctor Gunther von Hagens says he is to preserve the King of Pop with polyurethane

Michael Jackson with his Chimpanzee Bubbles in 1991

Michael Jackson with his Chimpanzee Bubbles in 1991: Bubbles currently resides at the Body Worlds exhibit at the O2 Centre in London

Von Hagens said that he spoke with representatives of the Jackson family 'many months ago' and it was agreed that his body will be plastinated and placed next to Bubbles, his late pet monkey who was plastinated a number of years ago and is exhibited at The Body Worlds & Mirror Of Time exhibition at the O2 Centre in London. 

Von Hagens also confirmed it was one of Michael's final requests to be reunited with Bubbles.

'There is no better place than to do this at the venue where Jackson was due to perform his world record 50-date tour,' said a spokesman for Von Hagens.

He added: 'Von Hagens has hinted that a moonwalk pose would naturally be favoured. 'It is hoped the exhibit will be unveiled towards the end of July.'

It was widely believed that the singer, who died yesterday from a heart attack, was interested in having his body frozen in the hope he could later be brought back to life.

However, it is now too late for his wish to be granted as the freezing process - cryonics - must be initiated almost immediately after death but an autopsy on Jackson's body still needs to be carried out.


Origins of the Moonwalk

Michael Jackson’s Death Causes Surge On BitTorrent

by Ernesto

The 'King of Pop' may have died but his music lives on, and on file-sharing networks, maybe stronger than ever. Less than 24 hours after Jackson passed away hundreds of thousands of file-sharers have downloaded one or more of his albums on BitTorrent.

michael jMichael Jackson suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday afternoon, which was likely caused by a Demerol overdose and ultimately led to his death.

There is no doubt that Jackson had a tremendous impact on several generations of musicians, and millions of people who grew up with his music. It is therefore no surprise to see that only hours after he was pronounced dead, his music is being sought by hundreds of thousands of people.

At the time of writing the three most active torrents in the music section on the largest torrent indexer, Mininova, are all compilations or discographies from the "King of Pop". On top is a torrent listing 30 Michael Jackson albums, The Jackson 5 and The Jacksons, totaling 1.94 GB of music.

In common with social media sites, 'Michael Jackson' is one of the most sought after phrases on torrent sites too. The search cloud on Mininova is filled with Jackson-related searches from fans who want to complete their collection.

Michael Jackson fills Mininova's search cloud

tag cloud

This renewed interest in Michael Jackson is not limited to just torrent sites though. On Amazon, Jackson's work takes up the top 14 spots on the bestselling albums list. Currently the top 10 albums chart on iTunes is dominated by 7 Jackson albums. On eBay there is a similar boom with memorabilia being traded for ten times the prices of just two days ago.

It had been rumored by Michael Jackson biographer Ian Halperin that the 'King of Pop' had recorded as many as 100 unreleased tracks but was keeping them locked away. He claimed that upon Jackson's death, the tracks would be made available to his three children as a personal legacy and to secure an inheritance.


Michael Jackson + West Side Story

Strange Martial Law via Food Control: HR 2749

Not what the American people ordered – HR 2749, martial law and the enslavement of their farmers

By The Writers' Collective

Source: Food Freedom

HR 2749 is a strange bill in many ways.  While the other "food safety" bills have been around since winter, allowing for much public discussion on the internet, HR 2749 has only suddenly appeared.  It is a mutant conglomeration of the worst of the other bills, with the addition of one very original part – martial law.

When it was a draft, it was Waxman's bill.  But once given a number, it became Dingel's who already had a "food safety" bill, HR 759.  So Waxman got none and Dingel got two.  (Was this because Waxman, being Jewish, was a hideous choice to introduce a bill with Codex in it – designed by the Nazi pharmaceutical companies that funded Hitler, provided the gas for the gas chambers, experimented on prisoners with vaccines – and is expected to kill millions?) 

* HR 2749 would give FDA the power to order a quarantine of a geographic area, including "prohibiting or restricting the movement of food or of any vehicle being used or that has been used to transport or hold such food within the geographic area."  

[This - "that has been used to transport or hold such food" - would mean all cars that have ever brought groceries home or any pickup someone has eaten take-out in, so this means ALL TRANSPORTATION can be shut down under this.  This is using food as a cover for martial law.]  

Under this provision, farmers markets and local food sources could be shut down, even if they are not the source of the contamination.  The agency can halt all movement of all food in a geographic area.  

[This is also a means of total control over the population under the cover of food, and at any time.] See this DailyKos entry.

The bill is unusual, too, because slow as it was to appear. The little bugger of bill has made up for it since.  It got a number on June 10, went to committee on June 17, passed instantly, and is headed for a vote on the floor of the House.   

The first Patriot Act was passed using fear of terrorism. This Patriot Act is more coy, hiding under a cloak of "food safety" and but also using fear – fear of food contamination.  Evidently, Americans are supposed to be so frightened by the slightest possibility of a terrorist or of E-coli, they would trade away all their precious, hard fought freedoms for the promise of safety.  Or at least, that is what the trade-off has become.  "Terrorism" and "contamination" are great bugaboos used to open doors to an end to the US Constitution.  That is exactly what we are left with after those who wrote HR 2749 are done.  

Who did write these bills?  It seems Monsanto had not only a hand, but a "defining" influence. http://farmwars.info/?p=594

This redefining of reality is what seems to be underlying all the loss of freedom.  Normal and free are disappearing into the maw of corporate definitions of reality. See this Yup Farming piece

So, we begin with contaminated food from filthy corporate processors and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  And what do we end up with after that reality is ground up by corporate legal hands?  Changes in the definition of risk so that natural things are treated as dangerous and toxic things are untouched, such that: 

  • Healthy, normal farms are taken over by government as though they were run by criminals and contaminated corporate slaughterhouses are untouched;
  • The necessary freedom of individuals to live and grow food and be left alone are somehow suddenly destroyed, though they were never the source of any food contamination issue; and such that
  • The profit and control and power of corporations which were absolutely the source of the increasingly terrible food, is somehow suddenly vastly increased.  

Thanks to corporate control over reality, our wanting to clean up corporate processors and feedlots and CAFOS and end up with farmers' markets and local farms and organic food has become the industrialization and potential destruction of every healthy part of the food system and the triumph of the most contaminated and toxic part.


Ask Congress to Defeat HR 2749

111th U.S. Congress - House Bill HR 2749 [Click here for FAQs]

A new food safety bill is on the fast track in Congress--HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. The bill needs to be stopped!

HR 2749 gives FDA tremendous power while significantly diminishing existing judicial restraints on actions taken by the agency. The bill would impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme on small farms and local artisanal producers; and it would disproportionately impact their operations for the worse.

HR 2749 does not address underlying causes of food safety problems such as industrial agriculture practices and the consolidation of our food supply. The industrial food system and food imports are badly in need of effective regulation, but the HR 2749 does not specifically direct regulation or resources to these areas.

ALARMING PROVISIONS (see Talking Points):
* Power to Quarantine a Geographic Area; the FDA can also Halt All Movement of All Food in a geographic area.

* Random Warrantless Searches of Business Records.

* Establishing a Tracing System for Food.

* Severe Criminal and Civil Penalties.

* Annual Registration Fee of $500.

* Regulation of How Crops Are Raised and Harvested.