The Bush administration announced plans today to loosen environmental safeguards for national forests by speeding up decisions that open public lands to logging and drilling.
The proposed regulations, which closely track recommendations by the timber industry, would reduce the scientific and environmental reviews required when 15-year master plans are developed for the nation's 155 national forests and grasslands.
Public input would be restricted, and form letters and pre-printed postcards would be disregarded. The proposal, which is now open for public comment, will not take effect for at least nine months.
The 10-member commission will be evenly divided between Republican and Democratic appointees. As Bush demanded, the president will name the chairman [i.e., Kissinger] and it will take at least six members, in most cases, to approve subpoenas.
Kissinger falls right along the line on which Poindexter squats. Cambodia. Iran. And now a new set of international crimes du jour.
UggaBugga on terrorism insurance as a form of corporate welfare:
Let us say at this point that we think insurance is rational and worthwhile. It is, historically speaking, an idea that's been useful to society for about 400 years. However, for reasons unknown, some on the right howl that insurance for people (unemployment, retirement*) is a variant of socialism (which it isn't). Yet they cheer insurance for businesses.
Impossibly epic in its ambition to depict a universal tale of money, love and power, the series is the ancestor of such current distant relatives as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and even (bear with me) The Sopranos.
Die Walküre, the individual opera, is the original source of the "Ride of the Valkyries," one of the most overused pieces of music in the history of media. Besides serving as the background for countless commercials, it is perhaps most famous as the score behind the helicopter attack sequence ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning") in Francis Ford Coppolla's Apocalypse Now.
Working without collaborators, Richard Wagner wrote every word and every note of music in the Ring operas. Despite his philosophical and egomaniacal shortcomings, he created a vast and pioneering work that will last for millennia. And the Lyric Opera production is as great as the ambition behind the opera. James Morris as the god Wotan and Jane Eaglen as his warrior daughter Brünnhilde radiated loyalty, affection and power both dramatically and musically. Sublime.
Much more than any other work of art I can recall, The Ring is an immersive experience, not unlike being lost in a foreign country or taking LSD. Even a wonderful book you can speed up or slow down. Not so here – Wagner controls the tempo. You have to let go and allow the opera to take you where it wants to, and if you do you might be rewarded. As an enormous meditation on money, power, family, lust, war, ambition, and finally love, The Ring is among the most mature entertainments the world has ever known. The only other contemporary entertainment that dissects love and power among the endomorphs quite so dramatically is, or course, The Sopranos.
The best recommendation I can give is that I've attended this particular production twice before (did I mention that the opera is five hours long?) and that I will see it again in a couple of years when Lyric Opera mounts the whole Ring series at once. Seventeen hours of opera in a single week. Seventeen glorious hours. Hojotoho!
Postscript: On March 16, 1988, Poindexter was indicted on seven felony charges arising from his involvement in the Iran/contra affair, as part of a 23-count multi-defendant indictment. As of 2002, he is a Director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office, according to his resume, found in Google's cache. The resume also mentions "an attempt to begin rationalization of U.S. relationship with strategically important Iran."
The Rittenhouse Review presents a lengthy and thoughtful examination of how the nasty, back-stabbing character of high school cliques shapes the world of blogging, journalism and even the obsessions whirling around Al Gore.
Reliably brilliant. You can take the occasional day off from blogging, J.C., if there's more of this in your cupboard.
All [plaintiffs' lawyers, regulators and short-sellers] hoped to take Mr. Beatty's information and benefit from it, in different ways. Some, he says, assured him his assistance would earn him big money. But no such payout has materialized, and now, unemployed and in financial stress, he is feeling betrayed. "They all said they wanted to help me," he says. "I was dumb. I fell for it." […]
Still unable to find a job, Mr. Beatty blames not so much the weak economy and energy-sector layoffs as his former employer. In August, the Beattys became so sure they were being watched and harassed that they loaded a rented van and moved to a small town in the Midwest. It's all far from the ending they expected when Mr. Beatty decided to take on the company.
"What did it accomplish?" asks his father, Jerry Beatty, an administrator at the Iowa Supreme Court in Des Moines. "I have a lot of reservations about what he did because I'm thinking about his family and security and employment. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just himself, but he's got three children and a wife." […] In September 2001, they filed for bankruptcy.
[...] One year ago, after Dynegy briefly moved to take over troubled Enron Corp., Dynegy publicly portrayed itself as above the kind of questionable deals that brought down its larger crosstown competitor. It also said energy trading on DynegyDirect, its small rival to EnronOnline, had risen 20% since Enron's crisis began, in a "flight to quality."
Mr. Beatty, who had rotated through DynegyDirect, was skeptical. He still had a password for the system, so he took a look. What he saw seemed odd: The volume increase was based on four huge trades. Even stranger, these were two pairs of simultaneous trades that canceled each other out. They provided no apparent economic benefit but made volume look much bigger.
He printed out the trading records and took them to his boss, Anthony Carrino, a divisional vice president. "Keep quiet," he says Mr. Carrino responded. Mr. Carrino, who has left Dynegy, didn't return a call seeking comment.
A few weeks later, Mr. Beatty was among management trainees invited to lunch with Dynegy's president, Stephen Bergstrom. The group chatted about the turmoil from Enron's failure, and then Mr. Bergstrom casually mentioned that Dynegy was beginning to restrict access to many of the internal files on its shared computer drive. He added that the process wasn't finished yet, according to Mr. Beatty. Mr. Bergstrom, who has left Dynegy, declined to comment.
Mr. Beatty, already suspicious because of the trades he'd discovered, was curious about what the files might contain. When he looked, he found nearly impenetrable descriptions of a highly complex arrangement involving special-purpose vehicles and bank financing. It was Project Alpha, a deal that exaggerated cash flow from operations and cut taxes but was all but impossible for outsiders to fathom from Dynegy's public reports.
Mr. Beatty says he went to Mr. Carrino and was again told to keep quiet. He did so, Mr. Beatty says, but grew queasy about Dynegy, beginning to feel that company posters extolling integrity were hypocritical.
The theme of this story (and many others of current import): Shut up and let us steal. Hypocritical is far too small a word to describe the geniuses who run the energy industry in Texas, and the morons* they support.
The nine million acres of federally-owned lands covered by America’s Redrock Wilderness Act should be off-limits to oil and gas exploration—leaving over 14 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah open for drilling or other extractive uses.
This extraordinary American landscape is more precious that the fuel inefficiency of the ordinary American SUV, and demands preservation by civilized society.
Why it's dangerous to walk in the USA. Almost 5,000 people per year die in the US simply because they are pedestrians. And yet there's no $38 billion Cabinet-level Department of Sidewalk Security. Makes you wonder which side Bush and Lott and the rest of them are on.
Montreal's Expo67 was "a spectacular success, many say it was the last great World's Fair," according to Portage, where I found this fascinating site. As a wee child who attended the fair, I remember many of these odd pavilions demonstrating how cool architecture could be in a Jetsons-style future, and how tres cool Canada is.
HU'S ON FIRST (We take you now to the Oval Office.)
George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?
Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.
George: Great. Lay it on me.
Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.
George: That's what I want to know.
Condi: That's what I'm telling you.
George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
George: I mean the fellow's name.
George: The guy in China.
George: The new leader of China.
George: The Chinaman!
Condi: Hu is leading China.
George: Now whaddya' asking me for?
Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.
George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?
Condi: That's the man's name.
George: That's who's name?
George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle East.
Condi: That's correct.
George: Then who is in China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir is in China?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Then who is?
Condi: Yes, sir.
Condi: No, sir.
George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
George: No, thanks.
Condi: You want Kofi?
Condi: You don't want Kofi.
George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
George: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condi: And call who?
George: Who is the guy at the U.N?
Condi: Hu is the guy in China.
George: Will you stay out of China?!
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.
(Condi picks up the phone.)
Condi: Rice, here.
George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we should send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you get Chinese food in the Middle East?
Supergenius J. Craig Venter plans to create new forms of Republican voters in a dish in his ultra-top secret laboratory. Recently returning from his guest appearance as the insane genetic engineer on South Park (the favorite TV show of "South Park Republicans"), Venter's newest venture was reported by the Washington Post:
The project raises philosophical, ethical and practical questions. For instance, if a man-made organism proved able to survive and reproduce only under a narrow range of laboratory conditions, could it really be considered life? More broadly, do scientists have any moral right to create new organisms*?
...Scientists don't usually announce their experiments in advance, but Venter said he felt this one needed to be brought to the attention of policymakers** in Washington, since it could create a new set of tools that terrorists or hostile states might exploit to make biological weapons. "We'll have a debate on what should be published and what shouldn't," Venter said. "We may not disclose all the details that would teach somebody else how to do this."
Decoding the genome gives fresh meaning to "political science." Like most research, this research sounds incredibly important and valuable – to the researchers. The rest of us: fucked.
*That vote GOP and work for subminimum wage.
Ruling for the first time in its history, the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review today gave the green light to a Justice Department bid to broadly expand its powers to spy on U.S. citizens.
"We are deeply disappointed with the decision, which suggests that this special court exists only to rubberstamp government applications for intrusive surveillance warrants," said Ann Beeson, litigation director of the Technology and Liberty Program of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Today’s decision comes on the heels of a White House announcement of a new system being developed at the Pentagon that would be able to track every American’s activities. The so-called "Total Information Awareness" program will create -- according to Pentagon officials -- the infrastructure for the most extensive electronic surveillance system in history. Conservative New York Times columnist William Safire has dubbed the program "a supersnoop’s dream."
"Its a real mind-blower," said the United States' poet laureate, Billy Collins, who was at the dinner. "Poetry has always had the reputation as being the poor little match girl of the arts. Well, the poor little match girl just hit the lottery."
Those who ask for nothing but are favored by the whims of Republican plutocrats receive enormous fortunes, and those of us who ask for simple things (like honest election recounts, protected wilderness areas, parity with Canadian medical coverage, democracy, etc.) get nothing. Worse than nothing.
bad things provides this mindfuck from Science Magazine, for which I lazily couldn't figure out the site registration (emphasis added):
1) To avoid getting advice that is discordant with the administration's political agenda, the secretary [of HHS, Tommy Thompson] disbanded the National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee and DHHS's Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing, both of which were attempting to craft solutions to the complex problems accompanying genetic testing and research; solutions that apparently conflicted with the religious views of certain political constituencies.
2) To ensure that the department would get no unwanted advice from its environmental health advisory committees, the secretary has stacked them with scientists long affiliated with polluting industries. Fifteen of the 18 members of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) have been replaced, many with scientists that have long been associated with the chemical or petroleum industries, often in leadership positions of organizations opposing public health and environmental regulation.
It will take generations to undo the pluto-theocratic damage that Junior's administration is wreaking upon us all.
Last night's show featured imperialism-journalism critic John Pilger who has written a book entitled The New Rulers of the World. His insights are fascinating, particularly his critique of the internalized distinction Americans journalists unconsciously draw between "people who matter" and "people who do not matter." (E.g., the 3,000 September 11 US dead versus the non-Al-Qaeda Afghan civilians, probably more in number, who died in retaliation.)
I can't even remember what show this replaced, but I'm sure glad. It appears promising.
UPDATE: The post below, originally posted on 11/22/02 for James of The Rittenhouse Review, won't archive correctly so I'm posting here too.
He's back. James Capozzola (hmm, I never noticed those initials before) returns from his break at The Rittenhouse Review.
Here's your bundt cake, James. No MSG, BHT or LGF. Courtesy of iVillage where you can also find the recipe.
Lawyers for parents of autistic children suing pharmaceutical companies over childhood vaccines charged yesterday that a new section in the homeland bill -- passed on Wednesday by the House and now before the Senate -- would keep the lawsuits out of state courts, ruling out huge judgments and lengthy litigation.
GOP officials said the provisions are merely aimed at protecting companies working on life-saving products from being dragged into costly litigation by trial lawyers. Pharmaceutical companies were among the largest contributors to Republicans in this year's elections, while trial lawyers heavily backed Democrats.
Tom DeLay gets his piece of the pie:
GOP aides said the language originally offered by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), and now incorporated in the bill, gives Texas A&M the inside track in hosting the first university center on homeland security, to be established within one year. DeLay was elected Wednesday to serve as the House majority leader in the 108th Congress.
Republicans are now engaged in preemptive sucking-up:
Company spokesman Edward Sagebiel said Lilly was "surprised when the language was inserted" because it had not actively lobbied for it in recent months.
The previous president was impeached for being fellated and lying about it – can't we impeach this one for fellating and lying about it?
...I know no other country where the adjective "un" is used with the nationality as a way of designating the common enemy. No one says unSpanish or unChinese: these are uniquely American confections that claim to prove that we all "love" our country. How can one actually "love" something so abstract and imponderable as a country anyway?
...what is most odd is the vast number of Christian fanatics in the US, who form the core of George Bush's support and at 60 million strong represent the single most powerful voting block in US history. Whereas church attendance is down dramatically in England it has never been higher in the United States whose strange fundamentalist Christian sects are, in my opinion, a menace to the world and furnish Bush's government with its rationale for punishing evil while righteously condemning whole populations to submission and poverty.
No wonder then that America has never had an organised Left or real opposition party as has been the case in every European country. The substance of American discourse is that it is divided into black and white, evil and good, ours and theirs.
In collaboration with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Artistici e Storici in Florence and the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago has organized this major international exhibition of approximately 180 paintings, sculptures, graphics, porcelain, tapestries, costumes, and other works of art. The exhibition provides a detailed survey of the art and culture of Florence between 1537, the election of Cosimo I de’ Medici as Duke of Tuscany, and 1631, the death of his grandson, Cosimo II de’ Medici. Featured are sculptures and drawings by Michelangelo from the period of the artist’s early association with Cosimo I, as well as important works by other artists employed by the Medici, such as painters Bronzino, Pontormo, and Salviati, and sculptors Cellini and Giambologna. Many of the objects, including some of the most celebrated sculptures from the Boboli Gardens and works from the Studiolo (vaultroom) of Francesco I de’ Medici in the Palazzo Vechhio, have never before traveled out of Florence.