Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
News and Opinion
At 12 Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.
Climate Rally Draws “Line in the Sand” on Canadian PipelineWashington Post Opinion page -- I put the link below. Huge march today about climate change. I don't see one piece on that opinion page about climate change. Do you? There might be one buried in one of the blogs. I didn't check them.
Uxbridge, Canada - The largest climate rally in U.S. history is expected Sunday in Washington DC with the aim of pressuring President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Activists are calling Keystone “the line in the sand” regarding dangerous climate change, prompting the Sierra Club to suspend its 120-year ban on civil disobedience. The group’s executive director, Michael Brune, was arrested in front of the White House during a small protest against Keystone on Wednesday.
“The Keystone XL pipeline is part of the carbon infrastructure that will take us to dangerous levels of climate change,” said Simon Donner, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia.
To permit the pipeline would represent a heartbreaking acquiescence to climate change on the part of President Obama and our national leaders.
“By itself, Keystone won’t have much of an impact on the climate, but it is not happening on its own,” Donner told IPS.
New York Times Opinion Page
Andrew Revkin. This is the only piece on the online opinion page (there might be others buried in the blogs but you can't see them from the front of the opinon page).
Keystone Protests Resume, But None Against Oil Imports from Nigeria?Laurie Penny.
I’ve got nothing against the passions of those — including friends of mine — pushing hard to persuade President Obama not to let the Keystone XL pipeline move forward and carry bitumen from Canadian deposits to United States Gulf Coast refineries. More were arrested this week.
But that effort misses the reality that as long as oil demand is high in the United States and elsewhere, there will be environmental risks and often terrible social costs in farflung and loosely governed places.
In the end it was in our name.Response to Laurie Penny. I'm not really clear on what point he is ultimately trying to make but it is an interesting response, printed in the Telegraph. It says something about the state of affairs, but I have to think this over some more to decide exactly what it says. It might be a transition into cynicism or status quo or it might say more about what the left and the anti-war movement needs to do in order to regroup. Or it might just be a hit piece.
Ten years ago this month, millions of people all over the world marched against the war in Iraq – and were ignored. I was one of them. For me, at the age of 16, there were a lot of firsts on 15 February 2003: first truancy, first solo trip to London, first time seeing democracy rudely circumvented.
Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain into the Americans’ war in Iraq was an immediate, material calamity for millions of people in the Middle East. I’m writing here, though, about the effect of that decision on the generation in the west who were children then and are adults now. For us, the sense of betrayal was life-changing. We had thought that millions of people making their voices heard would be enough and we were wrong.
It was the first time I remember feeling part of something larger than myself. It was only later, after the war and the next six years of progressive assault on civil liberties had broken any faith I or my schoolmates might have had in the Labour Party, that I learned about the endless arguments that went on behind the scenes. At the time I had no idea of the factional squabbling that prevented that march from becoming the powerful people’s movement it might have been. I don’t remember the presence of union members and socialist parties as vividly as I remember the performance artists with their creepy, bloodypaint- spattered masks, the kids strapped on their parents’ backs, the elderly couples with their Thermos flasks and sandwiches wrapped in foil.
What changed in 2003 was that millions of ordinary citizens around the world finally understood that the game was rigged, because only a few weeks after that march the US and its allies went to war anyway. The people had withdrawn their consent, loudly and peacefully and in numbers too big to ignore, and they had been rebuffed with hardly a second thought. Representative democracy had failed to represent.
My generation’s lack of faith in the political process has often been mistaken for apathy. It is only now, with ordinary people across the world putting their energies into movements that bypass mainstream politics, that the betrayal of Bush and Blair’s wars is beginning to be understood. We have known since we were at school that it’s not enough simply to make our voices heard. We have to make sure that we are listened to – and we’re still working out how to do that.
Laurie Penny and I are not Iraq War martyrs
But the most adolescent thing about Penny’s piece is its shameless ego. She concedes that the Iraq War was partly about deposing a wicked dictator and the suffering of millions of Iraqis that followed. But it was also an awful lot about Laurie Penny. Quote: “I’m writing here … about the effect of that decision on the generation in the west who were children then and are adults now. For us, the sense of betrayal was life-changing. We had thought that millions of people making their voices heard would be enough and we were wrong.”
Laurie is absolutely right about this. I know many people whose spirits were crushed by their failure to stop the Iraq War – it remains a painful issue for me, too. But she is wrong to suggest that democracy was “rudely circumvented” (why “rudely”? Is it impolite to disagree with the Socialist Workers’ Party?). On the contrary, millions protested, the politicians bluffed and blustered, and then, in 2005, the British people re-elected the very hucksters who sent them to war. That’s how Parliamentary democracy works, and it guarantees order as well as freedom. What you might infer from Penny’s writing is that she prefers the immediacy of mob rule, whereby a crowd can determine government policy if it shouts loud enough. (Although I suspect that Penny would’ve turned a deaf ear to the Countryside Alliance march or the fuel tax protests.)
The takeaway from this article is that Penny and her generation were as much victims of the Iraq War as the people who fought it. We weren’t. Rather, we experienced something that all radicals eventually have to come to terms with: politicians will ignore you and voters will let you down. Anyone with a sense of history would understand that – but adolescents have a tendency to think that their own births are Year One and that nothing worth knowing came before it. Penny: “What changed in 2003 was that millions of ordinary citizens around the world finally understood that the game was rigged, because only a few weeks after that march Nato went to war anyway.” No, Laurie, Nato didn’t lead in the invasion of Iraq and 2003 wasn’t the first time that a protest failed. The Peasant’s Revolt? The Vietnam War? Perhaps it was a history lesson that Penny missed the day she went to London.
Why Germany wants its 674 tons of gold back
The system, of course, is built upon trust — that the New York Fed won’t suddenly be taken over by people with no respect for those nations’ property rights and seize it for their own use, and that the central banks won’t lie about how much gold is in their vaults. Among the world’s central bankers, that trust runs deep, and most governments are content to keep their gold wherever it is most convenient. The exceptions are governments that have reason to fear that their gold stocks could be frozen as part of a conflict, such as in Iran and Libya.
So what the heck is Germany doing? It is a nation with a deep-seated fears about the stability of its currency, no doubt in part the legacy of the Weimar hyperinflation of the early 1920s. The fixation on its gold comes at a time when the world of finance seems in chaos. Germans are being asked to help rescue Greece and other European nations with troubled finances. The European Central Bank has bought bonds from some of those nations, which Germans widely view as tempting enormous inflation. Against that backdrop, it is perhaps not shocking that there is political resonance to the theory that the New York Fed and Banque de France may be putting one over on the Bundesbank and that some of Germany’s gold might actually be missing.
G20 summit to focus on 'currency war' threat to economyReining it all back in.
Tension builds over Japan's efforts to drive down yen, but ministers resist crackdown
Finance ministers at the G20 gathering are understood to have pulled back from explicit criticism of Japan, whose prime minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on a huge programme of monetary and fiscal stimulus to jump start the world's third largest economy out of its third recession in five years.
The currency market was thrown into turmoil this week after the G7 – the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – issued a joint statement warning against using domestic policy to target currencies.
But the show of unity was immediately shattered by off-the-record briefings against Japan, which needs a weaker yen to help fuel its export-driven economy.
G20 Declares There Will Be No Currency War
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Group of 20 nations declared on Saturday there would be no currency war and deferred plans to set new debt-cutting targets, underlining broad concern about the fragile state of the world economy.
"The market will take the G20 statement as an approval for what it has been doing -- selling of the yen," said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in London. "No censure of Japan means they will be off to the money printing presses."
After late-night talks, finance ministers and central bankers agreed on wording closer than expected to a joint statement issued last Tuesday by the Group of Seven rich nations backing market-determined exchange rates.
Charter flight from Guantánamo makes emergency landing in Miami
The Boeing 737-800 landed routinely, and passengers were processed through Customs and Immigration before being rerouted to Andrews AFB.
The nearly full plane of 141 passengers carried attorneys, 9/11 victim family members, translators, journalists and others who had been in Guantánamo for hearings in the death-penalty trial of the men accused of planning the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Among those on board were the chief judge of the Guantánamo war court, Army Col. James L. Pohl, the Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, and Boise, Idaho, attorney David Nevin, the Pentagon-paid defense attorney for the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Hearings are held in a crude legal compound at Guantánamo with the Pentagon maintaining an air bridge of charter flights that bring in virtually everyone involved in the court but the accused, and their guards.
Chubby Checker sues Hewlett-Packard over app to measure penis size
Chubby Checker app has caused 'irreparable damage' to singer of same name, say lawyers
Checker's lawyers are seeking half a billion dollars for the "irreparable damage and harm" caused by the Chubby Checker, an app for Hewlett-Packard's Palm OS platform. "This lawsuit is about preserving the integrity and legacy of a man who has spent years working hard at his musical craft and has earned the position of one of the greatest musical entertainers of all time," explained lawyer Willie Gary.
From ¡Alambrista! to Z: Political films available for free this weekend on Hulu
Get ready, movie fans: Hulu has offered up for free, for this weekend only, a number of Criterion Collection films that are usually behind its paywall, a service called Hulu Plus.
I looked through the offerings and put together a list of films covering subjects like racism, political organizing, espionage, migration, war, counterinsurgency, authoritarianism, fascism, resistance, surveillance, and technology. They are all available on Hulu for free this weekend (the links take you straight to the Hulu pages for the films), and after the weekend at the Hulu Plus site for a fee.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
On top of the Kafkaesque problems, the no-fly list is punitive & dumb: they can board crowded trains & ships, enter malls, roam the streets— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 17, 2013
Just by the way: the no-fly list has doubled under Obama - and the standard for being on it has been dilutedhuffingtonpost.com/2012/02/02/no-…— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 17, 2013
On the way to the Mall in D.C. for the Forward On Climate with the good people of Asheville, N.C. - beautiful day! #nokxl— Katherine Muller (@Kat_Muller) February 17, 2013
It's the big day! Couldn't come to DC? Watch the livestream at noon or find a solidarity rally near you here: sc.org/FOCsolidarity— Forward on Climate (@ClimateForward) February 17, 2013
Cyprus Avenue -Van Morrison Live - Fillmore East 9/23/70