Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Uncle Cheney


by Plutonian Mac
Now here's a pirate lass after my own my heart. Meet Bonny Blaire Johnson

With Blackbeard's flag flying on the Beach, this beauteous pirate throws down the gauntlet against BP, the modern equivalent of the ruthless East India Trading Company that so many pirates warred against. Sharpen your cutlusses, mates, it's time to go to war again against the oppressive rich and powerful!

Hempforhope's (Blaire Johnson) Video and YouTube Channel text:

Out of growing concern for the welfare of fishermen, wildlife and clean up crews in the Gulf coast comes a call to President Obama to end the use of the toxic chemical Corexit 9500.

Through the use of the deadly chemical dispersant Corexit 9500, BP is making the oil spill 4x more toxic. Why has the US continued to allow the use of Corexit when it was outlawed in Britain in 1998, and the EPA told BP to quit using it in May? And why are the criminals in charge of cleaning up the crime scene?
And when the EPA tells BP to stop using Corexit 9500, and BP refuses,


7,300 Palestinians in Israeli jails

Israeli soldiers take a young boy into custody by force.‎
7,300 Palestinians, including 17 legislators and two former ministers, are currently detained in about 20 Israeli prisons, a report says.

Hundreds of them have never been charged or put on trial.

Among the detained are 33 women, nearly 300 children, 296 administrative detainees, and dozens of political leaders, Palestinian researcher Abdul Nasser Farawna said in a report issued on Monday.

Farawana, who specializes in detainee affairs, said that 1,500 of them are ill and need urgent medical attention and dozens need surgeries and hospitalization, but no action has been taken by the Israeli authorities.

The detainees are held in about twenty prisons and detention and interrogation centers, mainly in Ramon, Shatta, Galboa, Asqalan, Hadarim, Al-Damoun, Be'er Sheva, Ofer, Majoddo, and the Negev detention camp, he added.

He went on to say that 83 percent of the detainees are from the West Bank, 10.6 percent are from Gaza, while the rest are Arab residents of Israel and other Arab nationals.

Jail terms range from 10 years to life sentences, Farawna, who is also a former detainee, explained.

Political figures like Nael al-Barghouthi, Fakhri al-Barghouthi, and Akram Mansour have been in prison for over 30 years.

Through the Wormhole: The Secret State's Mad Scheme to Control the Internet


Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote that "war is the continuation of politics by other means." A century later, radical French philosopher Michel Foucault turned Clausewitz on his head and declared that "politics is the continuation of war by other means."

In our topsy-turvy world where truth and lies coexist equally and sociopathic business elites reign supreme, it would hardly be a stretch to theorize that cyber war is the continuation of parapolitical crime by other means.

Through the Wormhole

In Speed and Politics, cultural theorist Paul Virilio argued that "history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems." With electronic communications now blanketing the globe, it was only a matter of time before our political masters, (temporarily) outflanked by the subversive uses to which new media lend themselves, would deploy what Virilio called the "integral accident" (9/11 being one of many examples) and gin-up entirely new categories of threats, "Cyber Pearl Harbor" comes to mind, from which of course, they would "save us."

That the revolving door connecting the military and the corporations who service war making is a highly-profitable redoubt for those involved, has been analyzed here at great length. With new moves to tighten the screws on the immediate horizon, and as "Change" reveals itself for what it always was, an Orwellian exercise in public diplomacy, hitting the "kill switch" serves as an apt descriptor for the new, repressive growth sector that links technophilic fantasies of "net-centric" warfare to the burgeoning "homeland security" market.

Back in March, Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel wrote that the "biggest threat to the open internet" isn't "Chinese hackers" or "greedy ISPs" but corporatist warriors like former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

Having retreated to his old haunt as a senior vice president with the ultra-spooky firm Booz Allen Hamilton (a post he held for a decade before joining the Bush administration), McConnell stands to make millions as Booz Allen's parent company, the secretive private equity powerhouse, The Carlyle Group, plans to take the firm public and sell some $300 million worth of shares, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

"With its deep ties to the defense establishment" the Journal notes, "Booz Allen has become embedded in a range of military operations such as planning war games and intelligence initiatives." That Carlyle Group investors have made out like proverbial bandits during the endless "War on Terror" goes without saying. With "relatively low debt levels for a leveraged buyout," the investment "has been a successful one for Carlyle, which has benefited from the U.S. government's increasing reliance on outsourcing in defense."

And with 15,000 employees in the Washington area, most with coveted top secret and above security clearances, Booz Allen's clients include a panoply of secret state agencies such as the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, NSA and the U.S. Air Force. With tentacles enlacing virtually all facets of the secretive world of outsourced intelligence, the firm has emerged as one of the major players in the cybersecurity niche market.

While McConnell and his minions may not know much about "SQL injection hacks," Singel points out that what makes this spook's spook dangerous (after all, he was NSA Director under Clinton) "is that he knows about social engineering. ... And now he says we need to re-engineer the internet."

Accordingly, Washington Technology reported in April, that under McConnell's watchful eye, the firm landed a $14.4 million contract to build a new bunker for U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Chump change by Pentagon standards perhaps, but the spigot is open and salad days are surely ahead.


An important speech by Senator Al Franken

The Fourth is nearly upon us.

Contrary to overwhelming belief, July 4 is not the birthday of the United States of America. The actual date the US could be said to have been "born" was with George Washington's first Oath of Office, April 30, 1789. It was on that date The United States of America was first open for business.

What many also do not realize was that Washington was the presiding officer at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, when and where The United States of America was put to paper as a civil, governing idea and entity.

However the country has failed often, too often utterly, to live to the European Enlightenment ideals that are the premise and predicate behind the Constitution, the premise and the predicate we claim to strive to live to can be summed in one word: JUSTICE. And the justice we strive after is for all within our jurisdiction, not only within our borders. I submit that when justice fails to preside over any, it fails to preside at all, and that it is incumbent upon each of us to do what we can to correct the deficiencies, when they occur.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota recently gave a speech to the Constitutionalist Society in which he, in his Al Franken manner, tersely outlines what has gone wrong, how justice is being -- as it has been -- hijacked by conservatives to serve ill ends. Franken's points are made with his typical droll, sometimes sarcastic humor. But the points are made. And he is effective. Listen to Senator Franken. Then conclude. But not before. For the fate of the vast majority of Americans is verily at stake.

Understand that how our relatives and colleagues vote matters. It is to the sitting president to nominate justices for the federal judiciary, not just the Supreme Court. And it is to the members of the Senate to confirm or not those nominees. Yes, how your relatives and colleagues vote effects even the most minute, most intimate of the daily lives of all of us. The link below, unfortunately includes perhaps three or four minutes of introduction. The remaining minutes are, however, both priceless, and essential.


Sticking the public with the bill for the bankers' crisis


By Naomi Klein

My city feels like a crime scene and the criminals are all melting into the night, fleeing the scene. No, I'm not talking about the kids in black who smashed windows and burned cop cars on Saturday.

I'm talking about the heads of state who, on Sunday night, smashed social safety nets and burned good jobs in the middle of a recession. Faced with the effects of a crisis created by the world's wealthiest and most privileged strata, they decided to stick the poorest and most vulnerable people in their countries with the bill.

How else can we interpret the G20's final communiqué, which includes not even a measly tax on banks or financial transactions, yet instructs governments to slash their deficits in half by 2013. This is a huge and shocking cut, and we should be very clear who will pay the price: students who will see their public educations further deteriorate as their fees go up; pensioners who will lose hard-earned benefits; public-sector workers whose jobs will be eliminated. And the list goes on. These types of cuts have already begun in many G20 countries including Canada, and they are about to get a lot worse.

They are happening for a simple reason. When the G20 met in London in 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, the leaders failed to band together to regulate the financial sector so that this type of crisis would never happen again. All we got was empty rhetoric, and an agreement to put trillions of dollars in public monies on the table to shore up the banks around the world. Meanwhile the U.S. government did little to keep people in their homes and jobs, so in addition to hemorrhaging public money to save the banks, the tax base collapsed, creating an entirely predictable debt and deficit crisis.

At this weekend's summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper convinced his fellow leaders that it simply wouldn't be fair to punish those banks that behaved well and did not create the crisis (despite the fact that Canada's highly protected banks are consistently profitable and could easily absorb a tax). Yet somehow these leaders had no such concerns about fairness when they decided to punish blameless individuals for a crisis created by derivative traders and absentee regulators.

Last week, The Globe and Mail published a fascinating article about the origins of the G20. It turns out the entire concept was conceived in a meeting back in 1999 between then finance minister Paul Martin and his U.S. counterpart Lawrence Summers (itself interesting since Mr. Summers was at that time playing a central role in creating the conditions for this financial crisis allowing a wave of bank consolidation and refusing to regulate derivatives).

The two men wanted to expand the G7, but only to countries they considered strategic and safe. They needed to make a list but apparently they didn't have paper handy. So, according to reporters John Ibbitson and Tara Perkins, "the two men grabbed a brown manila envelope, put it on the table between them, and began sketching the framework of a new world order." Thus was born the G20.


The Cider House Rules Rules

Reviewed by Michael Dare

At this point, I find the productions of Book-It Repertory inseparable from the books themselves. Every show I've seen has impeccably mirrored the source material. If you didn't like their production of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, it's because you don't like Tom Robbins, not because you don't like Book-It Repertory. They have found a magical spot, right in the middle of literature and theatre and bedtime story, where dad's rendition of Dr. Seuss has been replaced by a brilliant collection of adapters, directors, and performers who miraculously and precisely subjugate their needs to the needs of the original author in spectacular displays of talent and stagecraft.
If they're doing a book you love, you will fall in love again. If they're doing a book you haven't read but discover you hate, hey, at least it was over in just a couple hours, and you can sort of say you've read it.
I've got my own little list of authors whom, after reading one book of theirs, I said to myself OMG, I must read every single word this writer ever writes, and John Irving is one of them. I read The Cider House Rules when it first came out, didn't like it as much as The World According to Garp, but saw the subsequent movie, enjoyed it, and yet it wasn't till halfway through the Book-It theatrical production that it dawned on me it was a masterpiece, WAY better than Garp, not just good, not just great, but a genuine masterpiece, encompassing the highest possible principles that make up the foundation of Art with a capital A. It's hard to imagine a more sensitive issue treated with more dexterity or vision, more than a novel, more than a play but the most intimate expression of the human condition known to man, to make up stories that encompass everything our pathetic species is up to, seen from every angle, pretending that objectivity is possible while subjecting us to a funhouse mirror of reality where you know it's true, you can feel the truthiness, but it's never looked like this before. If you don't know that art can illuminate, can make you aware of every troubling aspect of life and death, of what we're doing on this planet, that it can ask the deepest of questions in the most profound manner, why do we treat each other so badly and what, just what, can one single man can do about it, you must see this production immediately.
Calling it Dickensian is too easy and too apt. Anyone who starts listing the similarities between The Cider House Rules and David Copperfield or Oliver Twist will find themselves in a whirlwind of academic trivia. You do it. It makes no difference. You don't have to have read Dickens to get Irving. When he quotes the opening sentence of David Copperfield, "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show," that's all we need to know. We're going to get variations on that theme brought to an incredible height.
There seems to be no question as to who the hero is in the life of Dr. Wilbur Larch, the founder of St. Clouds hospital and orphanage in Maine in the '30s. Just ask the hundreds of orphans and pregnant women who have gone through his door who the hero is of THEIR lives and they will answer Dr. Wilbur Larch.
Except for one. Homer Wells is an orphan who literally owes his life to Dr. Wilbur Larch, and yet he makes it his life's quest to be the goddam hero of his own goddam life. To do so, he must rebel against the only authority figure he knows, Dr. Wilbur Larch, for whom he's been participating in abortions for years, and here's where a six-hour theatrical production, broken into two pieces, beats the hell out what we can expect from a mere movie. It's with the telling of Larch's back-story that the melodrama reaches epic proportions.
Let's say you're a doctor and a patient is brought to you, a thirteen year old girl, pregnant, for the third time, by her father, a serial rapist, and the previous pregnancies had caused such scarring of the uterus that regular childbirth would be impossible, no choice but a Caesarian if the pregnancy is brought to term, yet it's early enough to simply end the ordeal for the child, a fifteen minute procedure you're completely capable of performing. Such is Wilbur's dilemma.
Or let's say you're a teenage orphan who wants to be a doctor asked to participate in surgery that just happens to include the scrapping of a uterus. Would you refuse to participate once you saw in a trash can what was scraped from the uterus, a tiny being that never took a breath? Such is Homer's dilemma.
Any theatrical production demands you identify with SOMEONE, whoever's closest to you, but in general we rely upon the dramatist to supply us with a simple protagonist, antagonist, and conclusion. Irving muddies the waters with a protagonist with a protagonist. Homer's savior, Dr. Larch, is clearly the hero of Homer's life since, after all, he's the one that decided to let the pregnancy go to term, since every female visitor to Saint Clouds leaves her baby there, whether born or not. Irving, and his brilliant adapter Peter Parnell, pull off this hat trick with no moralizing or proselytizing, just a lot of compassion. Though it's an incredibly entertaining morality play, it's not a lecture on morality. Irving's too smart for that. He approaches it from every possible viewpoint, women who shouldn't but do, women who should but don't, women who's lives are made better and others much much worse, husbands who want the baby but wives who don't, rejected patients who end up dead by going somewhere else, even the incompetent abortionist who kills as many as they help and they're not evil because, well, at least they're doing something. The subject has never been approached more thoroughly, without lying platitudes or easy slogans, recognizing that the abortion question is as complicated as it gets. Extremely graphic descriptions of the abortion process are accompanied by equally graphic descriptions of sex, treating them both equally, a perfectly rational approach since you can't have one without the other. Irving tells you much more than you ever knew about his subject. He tells you everything but what to think about it, figuring that reality is the best teacher, that you can't make up rules, even in a cider house, that you've got to take everything on a case by case basis. There's an episode of Mad Men where they're given the assignment of trying to find advertisers for an episode of The Defenders about a woman who got an abortion and the best they can come up with is lipstick. Abortion's a hard sell artistically as it's a tricky subject entirely devoid of easy answers. At the end of The Cider House Rules, one would be hard pressed to say whether John Irving was pro or anti, just smart.
This production is a perfect example of why the six-hour approach is imperative with certain novels. There's a death by drowning during a log jam in The Cider House Rules, one of many many tidbits left out of the film but left in the play. All the events of Last Night in Twisted River, Irving's latest, are set in motion by a death by drowning during a log jam. Leave the log-jam out of The Cider House Rules and you're leaving out one of the best things about John Irving, the themes and sub-text and entertaining quirks that tie all his work together: the wrestling, the seduction of the innocent, the dismemberments, the logging, the oral sex, the bears, god, what's with the bears. One of the treats of indulging oneself in the work of any great novelist is reveling in their personal obsessions, and Book-It never neglects to give us that same thrill.
A massive shout out to director Jane Jones and the entire ensemble cast of nurses, orphans, and derelicts who inhabit this mad world. Every one of them had a moment to shine and that they did. Dr. Larch, one of the most compassionate and empathetic characters of all time, is played by Peter Crook, and his Larch is so on the money, so innately American, it makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking casting a Cockney Michael Caine in the film. Crook is way more like the George C. Scott who played the part in my mind. While most of the characters remain steadfastly who they are, Homer is the one with the arc, the Candide of the piece who grows in front of our eyes, and Conner Toms is well up to the task. I can't wait to see who he eventually becomes in Part 2, coming this fall. 
But you've got to see Part 1 first. All you princes of Ivars, you kings of Mercer Island, get thee to Book-It Repertory before it's too late.
Through July 11. Get your tickets here.

"You may disapprove, but you may not be ignorant or look away" —Dr. Larch to Homer

Homer Wells (Connor Toms, left), the never-adopted orphan becomes a surrogate son, and a medical protégé to the orphanage director, Dr. Larch (Peter Crook).  Doctor Larch and nurses (Melinda Deane & Julie Jamieson) help a pregnant patient (Mary Murfin Bayley). Photos by Adam Smith.