Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Say "Goodbye" to the Friends of Mat-Su and "Hello" to Envision Mat-su

From the office of Envision Mat-Su:

August 28th, 2012 
For Immediate Release 
Jeremiah Millen- Executive Director, Envision Mat-Su 
(907) 982-9819

Longtime Mat-Su Borough Citizen’s Group Rolls Out New Community Project Introducing New Name and Vision.

Friends of Mat-Su (FoMS) is getting a full makeover as a result of a yearlong strategic planning effort.

The role of the Friends of Mat-Su has grown considerably since it was founded in 2000, says Executive Director, Jeremiah Millen.

Though perhaps best known for it’s work as a citizen driven land use planning organization and borough watchdog, in recent years FoMS has adopted much broader approach for creating partnerships, developing innovative solutions and building a collective vision for sustainable community development.

Thus, FoMS will soon roll out a rebranding strategy complete with a new name – Envision Mat-Su.

“We have changed our name because Envision Mat-Su better reflects the evolution of the organization and more clearly describes our new vision. We believe the new name invokes strong feelings of progress, action and inspirational work that will make the Mat-Su a better place to live, work and play.

We envision a Mat-Su with vibrant cities and towns close to clean rivers, lakes, and parks. A Mat-Su that invests its taxpayer money wisely, and sees its economic competitiveness directly tied to its high quality of life. In short, we envision a Mat-Su that is focused on thoughtful development and thriving communities,” said Millen.

As part of the roll out of the new name and vision, Envision Mat-Su will be holding a public event to introduce a new project on Cottonwood Creek in downtown Wasilla. The project includes the creation of a newly constructed bridge railing, designed and built by local Wasilla Alaska artist, Holly Gittlein. The artwork, titled, “Reflection,” features a holistic rendition of a full salmon lifecycle along this important urban waterway and community gathering space.

The event will include a public unveiling of the new railing, a ribbon cutting ceremony and several key speakers who will talk about the project and the importance of healthy salmon populations in the Mat-Su.

In addition, cake and refreshments will be included for those who attend.

What: Public Unveiling of Cottonwood Creek Mat-Su Urban Pathways Project Date: 

Friday, August 31st, 2012 Time: 4-5 PM Location: 550 W 7th Ave, Wasilla, AK 99654 

Google Map: Click Here

Contact Information: 
Jeremiah Millen, Executive Director, (907) 982-9819

note: This blog's owner is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Envision Mat-Su

For Rachel Corrie: Once Again, the Skies are Weeping

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stop the Wishbone Hill Mine

Vaginas Protest Republican Convention

Why Obama is Compelled to Destroy Assange, Manning and Others Who Fight Against Our Evil Empire

Bradley Manning's release of the video of US aviators butchering innocent civilians should have resulted in a trial and imprisonment of the perpetrators of the obvious war crime. Instead, Obama's henchmen went after the people who informed us of the atrocity.


 I think this video shows that it is possible that Obama, especially in his formative years, when he was smoking a lot of good Hawaiian bud and being overwhelmed by propaganda images similar to some portrayed in this video, got sucked into the Borg shown so well in this short documentary.

 When I confronted so-called liberals at a Wasilla fundraiser this past weekend about Obama and our increased military spending, their eyes glazed over.

 We've been hypnotized into being the most ferocious military empire in human history.

  hat tip to Birgitta Jonsdottir

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Way to Go Obama - We Are NUMBER ONE!!!

Under the brilliant leadership of President Obama, the USA has set a world record this year:
Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions, according to a new study for Congress. 
Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals. 
The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports. The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion.
A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels.

God, you have to admire this guy.  
Together with his partners in the Israeli government, they've succeeded in setting a world record in lining the pockets of merchants of death, by claiming a country that has not invaded a neighbor during the 20th or 21st centuries is an existential threat to all mankind.

Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

Netanyahu Finally Has the Goods on Iran - Time to Bomb

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On the Eve of Verdict in Rachel Corrie Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Israel, US Ambassador Slams Israeli Government Corrie Investigation

On August 28th, Israeli judge Oded Gorshen will read the verdict in the civil lawsuit brought against the Israeli government for wrongful death, when young Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza by an Israeli army bulldozer:
The lawsuit, filed in 2005 on behalf of the Corrie family by attorney Hussein abu Hussein, charges the State of Israel with responsibility for Rachel’s killing and failure to conduct a full and credible investigation in the case.
The lawsuit is just a small step in our family’s nearly decade-long search for truth and justice,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “The mounting evidence presented before the court underscores a broken system of accountability – tolerated by the United States in spite of its conclusions that Israel’s military investigation was not ‘thorough, credible, or transparent.’”
Yesterday, the American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, restated a position that the US Government has long held:
Israel’s investigation into the death of American activist Rachel Corrie was not satisfactory, and wasn’t as thorough, credible or transparent as it should have been, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told the Corrie family this week.
The U.S. government’s position is not new to the Corries, but their attorneys said that hearing it only a few days before the verdict was “important and encouraging,” because it signals to the Corrie family that the U.S. government will continue to demand a full accounting from Israel about their daughter’s killing, regardless of how Judge Oded Gershon rules.
Throughout the trial, which has lasted about a year and a half, Israeli government witnesses have brought out disturbing aspects of why ambassador Shapiro might be so concerned.  The Israeli government has withheld key video and audio evidence from the operational area at which Corrie was killed.  The coroner assigned by the IDF to perform the autopsy on Corrie’s body turned out to be a character from a panel in a Hieronymus Bosch painting.  All of the non-IDF witnesses clearly testified to what appears to have been gross negligence on the part of the Israeli soldiers and commanders that morning.
Here are the trial archives at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.  The archives contain most of the important articles and press releases through the course of the trial.
Here’s my diary at MyFiredoglake at the conclusion of trial testimony, which gives a short history of important aspects of the proceeding.
I’m not optimistic about the verdict.  Israel is rapidly descending into a pit of racist hatred, military hubris and religious weirdness that is even worse than what is going on in our own country.

Vote YES on 2 Tuesday

from Shannyn Moore via Steve Heimel on Facebook

Fish With 380 Times the Radiation Limit Caught 40 KM from Fukushima

From the Alaska State Fair - Yes on 2!

from Michelle Church on Facebook

Friday, August 24, 2012

Yes on 2!

Image posted on Facebook by Beth Kertulla.  From Fairbanks today.

Anders Breivik May Be Sane, But the Ideas He Espouses Are Nuts

Mass murderer, Anders Breivik, who had already admitted his guilt in the killing of 77 people in Norway last summer, has been convicted and sentenced:
There are many reasons to welcome the verdict in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik: that he is sane and legally responsible for the murder of 77 people – mostly members of the Norwegian Labour party – on 22 July last year.
The guilty verdict recognises the monstrosity of Breivik’s acts, carried out in pursuit of his political beliefs. It also delivers the outcome wanted by the majority of Norwegians, in particular because it means he will spend no fewer than 21 years – and most likely life – in jail. Justice has been done to the fullest extent possible under Norwegian law.
Breivik, who gave strange Nazi-like salutes and smiled a lot, today, said in his closing statement that he only wished he had killed more:
In his final words, Breivik regretted not killing more people, apologizing to other “militant nationalists” for not achieving an even higher death toll. He said he wouldn’t appeal the ruling because that would “legitimize” a court he said got its mandate from a political system that supports multiculturalism.
Breivik is a hero to many Islamophobes and white supremacists.  His philosophy, clearly explained in the “sickening but coherent 1,500-page manifesto” he left behind after his arrest, takes its ideas freely, almost wantonly from everyone from right-wing uber Zionists Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes, to Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell.  His fervent desire to fully restore Western civilization to a mandatory patriarchy might have gotten him a prime time speaking spot at next week’s Republican Convention, were they uttered by a GOP Senator.  His belief that Israel is some sort of utopian ideal, rather than an increasingly mean, apartheid, racist society, is not only common on the far right, but almost as common among Democrats elected to our national Congress in the USA.  Some European Islamaphobes still have trouble distancing themselves from Breivik:
From Europe’s far right, the reaction was mixed. Some argued that Friday’s verdict played into their core beliefs, though they have spoken out against his violent rampage.
“It was obviously wrong what he did, but there was logic to all of it,” said Stephen Lennon, the 29-year-old leader of the English Defense League, an anti-Muslim group. “By saying that he was sane, it gives a certain credibility to what he had been saying. And that is, that Islam is a threat to Europe and to the world.”
To a certain degree, one of the reports issued by the Norwegian court looking into Breivik’s mental state found a bit of insanity in the ideas he adopted, not in Breivik himself:
The main form this depoliticisation took was the medicalisation of Breivik’s actions in terms of psychological or psychiatric pathology. Within days, everyone from forensic psychiatrists to the London mayor, Boris Johnson, felt the need to put Breivik in a diagnostic box. Occasionally, even reportage of his personal history and psychology went to ludicrous extremes to seek his motives in anything but what he actually said. This reached its pinnacle with the first court-ordered psychiatric report, which found him to be suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” on the basis of clumsy and inappropriate interpretation of ideas and behaviours common in far-right and online gaming subcultures.
Outrage over the findings led the court to take the unusual step of commissioning a second report. This one paid more attention to his political milieu, as well as his behaviour in jail, and found him sane – at most exhibiting signs of a personality disorder. Friday’s verdict confirms this conclusion and denies to Islamophobic ideologues the comfort of a clear line of sanity separating their influence from Breivik’s actions.
There have been many examples of shooters running amok, inspired by their readings of far right fearmongers.  Whether a shooter has been inspired by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes or some other purveyor of racial hatred, the men or women who inspire such lunacy almost always get away with denying linkage, and get to keep on spreading their ferociously malignant ideas.
There was a bit of an exception to that rule today.  One prominent and up-and-coming Islamophobe, Josh Treviño, was fired today by the British news outlet, The Guardian.  Treviño had been hired recently to offset The Guardian‘s hire of columnist Glenn Greenwald.  Several activist writers quickly raised a number of issues about Treviño, most notably Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah.
Treviño is a twitter addict, and had left behind a long history of venom toward Palestinians, Americans who support Palestinian rights, and those who don’t show proper deference to the state of Israel.  Once again, here we have somebody who could easily swap brews with Anders Breivik, or take the podium at the GOP Convention.
Here’s Henry Norr, writing about Treviño for Mondoweiss:
Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada responded with a post reproducing tweets from last summer in which Treviño declared that it would be “cool” with him if the Israelis shot the participants in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, then went on to observe that the flotilla was “not morally different from a Nazi convoy”
Not surprisingly, several participants in that flotilla, including me – and, no doubt, scores of other Guardian readers – immediately protested to Janine Gibson, editor in chief of the Guardian US, who was quoted in the press release about her pleasure at bringing Treviño’s “important perspective” to readers. We acknowledged the Guardian’s desire to present diverse points of view, but questioned the choice of someone whose approach to political debate is to call for gunning down those he disagrees with.
More tweets were found, all the way up to Wednesday of this week.  One in particular, offended me, as I’ve covered the story of Rachel Corrie in many ways, and am a close friend of her family.  In the tweet, he gleefully referred to Corrie as a “pancake,” after being killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer.
Josh Treviño is like Anders Breivik, in reveling in violence against innocents who seek justice for people being oppressed.  And, like Breivik, Treviño has seen a bit of justice today.
The Guardian, ostensibly has fired Josh Treviño for violating their code of ethics.  Here is the “joint statement” announcing the columnist’s demise Friday:
Joshua Treviño wrote a piece for the Guardian on February 28, 2011 titled “Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?” The Guardian recently learned that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian’s editorial code this should have been disclosed.
“Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.
“I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such,” said Joshua Treviño.
We have therefore mutually agreed to go our separate ways and wish each other the best of luck.
It is too bad that he was given this kind of cover, but it is more balls than many of us had thought The Guardian would be able to muster.
There are a lot of gigs out there for people like Josh, most of them very well-paid.  No doubt, he will be offered a new job soon, perhaps writing speeches behind the scenes for Mitt Romney.  Let us hope, though, that somewhere down the line, the hatred in some future essay by  Treviño doesn’t inspire another Anders Breivik.

Don't Let Corporations Control Our Coastline in Alaska

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dill Flowers, Glistening in the Morning Sunshine

Oil and Ice: The Risks of Drilling in Alaska's Arctic Ocean

The above video was produced recently by the Center for American Progress.

On Tuesday, Anchorage's KTUU TV ran a story that tried to update viewers on the "progress" of Shell Oil's attempt to start drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas this season.  Here's a link to the story, with video.

In the article, there is a contrast between the realism of Rebeccs Noblin, Director of the Anchorage office of the Center for Biological Diversity, and the forced optimism of Shell Oil's local Alaska Vice President, Pete Slaiby:
Shell Oil could be gambling big with its latest move. Its Kulluk drilling ship left Dutch Harbor on Monday, heading to the Arctic on an uncertain journey. Shell says its second ship, the Noble Discoverer, should also leave Dutch Harbor sometime this week.  
Despite this, federal permits are not yet in hand to drill individual wells -- and an oil spill response barge, the Arctic Challenger, sits in a Bellingham, Washington shipyard. Drilling cannot begin until it’s stationed in the Arctic.  
Finally, Shell says, all of the pieces are coming together. It expects the Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping to complete its final tests and inspections of the Challenger within the next few days.   
“This is no shot in the dark,” says Pete Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska. “These things have been planned for six years.”   
From Arctic ice that stubbornly refused to retreat, to a mishap in which the Nobel Discovery lost its mooring in Dutch Harbor, Shell has had a number of setbacks this summer -- not to mention a recent scolding from the United States Interior Secretary, who says Shell’s delays this season are the company’s own fault.   
“People are saying, ‘Are you frustrated?’ Actually I get that question too much. The answer is ‘Really no,’” says Slaiby. “Because we really know we are going to work through these remaining issues.” 
Actually, Shell is very concerned.

When I visited the work site of the renovations and modifications of the Arctic Challenger at dockside in Bellingham, Washington, on August 8th, I got the distinct feeling of job site paranoia:
I thanked him [Superior's job site manager] for the best information anyone has yet given me, and requested a tour of the project. He flatly told me “No,” and I was not allowed to take any photographs of the vessel. He assured me that Shell Oil will be contacting me soon with more information.  The ambience of the work place there reminded me very much of projects in the past where I have worked that are seriously behind schedule and nervous of potential outcomes.  
I was followed by private police until I left Bellingham.
Since the 8th of August, nothing having to do with the Arctic Challenger project has broken in favor of speeding things up.

At the time, I was probably the only person to publicly claim that Shell might not get it together in time to even drill a single hole this season.  Since then, there have been others coming to similar conclusions.

Here's what you get if you google "Arctic Challenger delays."

As the Center for Biological Diversity's Noblin told KTUU yesterday:
“Shell’s really jumping the gun, moving its ships into the Arctic,” says Rebecca Noblin, director of the Center’s Anchorage office.  
“Ideally you wouldn’t be drilling in these kind of harsh conditions without being absolutely certain that you have your ducks in a row, and we just don’t have that here.”

Support Our First People: Vote YES on Proposition Number Two

Monday, August 20, 2012

What Public Art Should Express - Holly Gittlein's "Reflection" Over Cottonwood Creek in Wasilla

There isn't a lot of public art in Wasilla.  The last time I can remember a piece of public art here making the headlines was with the controversy over the sculpture The Warrior Within at Wasilla High School.  It seemed to bring the juvenile out in some.  Others looked at the art with more appreciation.

There shouldn't be any controversy, though, over sculptor Holy Gittlein's new baroque adornment, titled Reflection, to a pedestrian bridge over Cottonwood Creek, as the creek passes through central Wasilla.  If you go down there right now, you should be able to watch Coho and Sockeye salmon passing underneath the bridge, on their way up the creek to spawn in Wasilla, Cottonwood, Neklason or Cornelius Lakes.

Compare the image of the new bridge and bright sculpture:

To what the creek at that same area looked like, in this Youtube video I made in April, 2011:

Congratulations, Ms. Gittlein.

I understand the bridge was commissioned by a new organization in the Mat-Su Valley, Envision Mat-Su.

Eight New Batches of Basil Pesto

We've been making basil pesto every year since 1988.  These eight containers are the third set of batches this season.


Obama to Jesse Griffin: "Rape is Rape"

In a statement this morning on the ridiculous and pathetic comments over the weekend by Missouri Representative and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, Obama was quoted as saying, "The views expressed are offensive.  Rape is Rape!"

In Alaska, the President's most unapologetic, suck-up, robot-like supporter has been blogger Jesse Griffin, at The Immoral Minority.  He has repeatedly used his site to condone rape.

He should listen to his President.