Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Surf's Up!

Tropical Storm Alex is now Hurricane Alex. Unless it has a remarkable change of course, it will make shore in northeastern Mexico, but seas around the gulf are showing large swells offshore and big breakers comig ashore in the areas impacted by the BP spill.

Go See Wu Man at Out North Tonight

Wu Man, the most dynamic pipa virtuoso active today will be performing at 7:15 this evening at Out North Theater in Anchorage, as the featured performer in the 2010 CrossSound Festival concert. Here she is performing San Liu:

More Late June Garden Pictures

Chive flowers and a young red cabbage.

A water bead on a broccoli leaf.

A row of beets.

Spearmint leaves.

Corn and lettuce.

The garden at midsummer.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Courage of Shannyn Moore - Part Six - The Wild Ride Begins Again

I. For some reason, Andrew Sullivan chose Monday to reiterate his concern that Sarah Palin continues to benefit politically and financially from a story that never made sense.

The first person to point out in the media that Palin's - and her family's - narrative was worthy of further scrutiny was Alaska commentator Shannyn Moore. Shannyn made her initial observations on this within days of the announced birth of what most consider to be Palin's youngest child, Trig Palin, in early 2008.

Sullivan, in the Monday post called Why Does Trig Matter, and in a series of updates Tuesday at his blog at The Atlantic, The Daily Dish, responds to a question from a reader, Jonathan Bernstein. In the updates to further questions, Sullivan is more transparent than almost any other nationally prominent blogger who claims to be a conservative.

Bernstein states:

I've seen three possible explanations. The first is the wild one, that the baby isn't really hers; she's covering for someone else's inconvenient pregnancy and has adopted that child. The second is that she was an irresponsible mother, and took terrible risks given the dangerous nature of the pregnancy. The third is that she made the whole thing up, or most of it: she invented a heroic birth story, and then wound up being stuck with it when she suddenly had a massively larger audience.

So. Let's say one of these is true. Why should I care?

Sullivan's response is worth reading in its entirety, but the gist is here:

If any of the three scenarios Jonathan has pointed out is true, then Sarah Palin has no business running for president and should never have been picked for vice-president. Why? Because if her giving birth to a Down Syndrome child is a complete hoax, then she's simply psychotic to double down on such a crazy invention, and we should try and avoid psychotics as political leaders (yes, it's hard given the normal inclinations of a political class, but we can try, no?). If the scenario is merely a function of deep irresponsibility, an unconscious desire to miscarry her child by extreme recklessness, then the same applies. After eight years of Bush, it seems that willful recklessness that places the vulnerable and powerless in great danger is not a good idea. The last is easily the least worrying - pure fabulism, exaggeration, and a completely random relationship to reality. Yes, we're all human. But again, sane people who tell fibs once dial them back subsequently - they don't repeat them, embellish them even more, and concoct - in Going Rogue - a simply baroque, incoherent and, yes, nutty version of a labor story that defies all we know about human biology, space and time.

But in many ways, my real frustration here is not with Palin, who has behaved in ways that are rational for a gambler of such proportions. My frustration is with the media who have never questioned, let alone seriously investigated, the story, and who have actually gone further and vouched for its truthfulness and accuracy without any independent confirmation.

I've written about this. Other Alaska bloggers and Outside bloggers have too. My wife and I subscribe to the scenario that wittingly or not, Palin, through hiding her pregnancy into its seventh month, having had previously undisclosed miscarriages, was trying to secretly kill a fetus she knew to have a major disability - a "God-given abortion," that wouldn't be questioned (should the information leak out) by her base in the evangelical and fundamentalist communities.

Palin has claimed more than once to have publicly produced Trig's birth certificate, but that is just one of her many lies. She hasn't. And won't.

In any case, Sullivan is right to observe that no matter which scenario is true, Palin's a nutcase in this regard, and the national media has utterly failed to cover the story in a professional way. Were Palin a black or Hispanic woman on public assistance, and had taken the "wild rides" from Houston to Wasilla at public expense, after her water had broken, and the information had become public the way it has in Palin's case, the woman could easily have been indicted by some GOP prosecutor with political aspirations.

II. Shannyn Moore was the first commentator to realize Palin's story couldn't hold the water the latter claimed to have broken. Over the past 28 months since Trig's birth, Moore has steered away from scenarios wilder than her very plausible "wild ride" one.

I have written hundreds of posts and articles about Sarah Palin. I've gotten into heat for asking whether she deserved the term "saint" more than "slut." Guess which term won the poll?

My property has been vandalized by her Palinbots. Progressive Alaska, though, has never been a predominently Palin site, nor have I sought that for PA. A number of other sites in Alaska, the lower 48 and abroad have done that. They are fun to read and often have important information about the sleazy ways Palin's meme and methods show the hypocrisy of American politics and popular culture.

However, I have to hand it to Shannyn for having handled this tricky story, from its beginnings to the present, with class, curiosity and from the perspective of a caring mom.

Here's Shannyn, back in February, discussing the "Wild Ride":

Part One:

Part Two:

Disturbing BP Gulf Oil Spill Overflight Footage by Hurricane Creekkeeper

I thought of putting this disturbing video up yesterday, then forgot. Hard to believe, as there are some disturbing, unforgettable images:

Images from Opposite Sides of Cook Inlet - Hands Across the Sands (and the Sea)

Hands Across the Sand, a global project creating and connecting images of people from around the world, showing solidarity for realistic solutions to the enormous problems highlighted by the devastation of the Gulf oil spill, occurred Saturday. I wanted to go to the Pt. Woronzof event, but had a lot to do in my garden. I wanted to go to Anchorage anyway in the evening, to listen to the California youth symphony playing that night, so two trips to Anchorage in one day made no sense. My Valley-to-Anchorage carbon footprint is big enough already, even if I drive a diesel Golf that gets 50 miles to a gallon.

I'm trying to get people to stretch their hands across the sands and seas and toobz, though. We don't have much time.

Here's Shannyn Moore, at the Hands Across the Sands event on Turnagain Arm, holding up a jar of oil-mixed-with-sand from Prince William Sound, a 20-year-old relic of the Exxon Valdez tragedy.

The oil was collected last year, but if you went back to where they got it, there is a lot more there. And it will still be there, under the sand and rocks of the shores of places like Knight Island, Green Island, Eleanor Island and Sphinx Island for generations.

Right across Cook Inlet from where Shannyn and a hundred or so people held hands last Saturday, Erin McKittrick, Bretwood Higman and their young child, Katmai, are finishing up research on the ground in the areas around the proposed Chuitna coal mine. This week, they'll be returning to this side of the Inlet, then up to the Healy area, to study the Usabelli coal mines up close. Here's Hig with Katmai:
Three weeks ago, British ocean rower, Roz Savage, finished the Pacific portion of her solo row around the planet. When she finished, I e-mailed congratulations to her. Roz's mom e-mailed me back immediately, and soon Roz got in touch. I suggested she find a way to connect with Erin and Hig, as they all are involved in remarkable achievements involving muscle power and raising global awareness on ecological and environmental issues.

Now they are in touch, with Roz and Erin e-mailing back and forth, possibly preparing to work together in 2011. Now, that's hands across the sands, the Inlet, and the Pacific.

Speaking of hands, here are Roz's after a long day of rowing:
And here's Erin, holding a found glass fishing ball in her hands, contemplating a planet where people care:
images - top two - AKM; third - erin; fourth - Roz Savage; bottom - hig

Monday, June 28, 2010

Listening to Singing from Across the Lake

We live on the south shore of Neklason Lake. On the north shore Camp Challenge, a non-denominational Christian-oriented facility, hosts scores of events, workshops, summer camps and such, year-round.

Tonight, some kids are singing around the campfire. One of the songs sounded like Psalm 121.

I'm working on an article that compares the differences between, on the one hand the Taylor and Sennacherib Prisms and the books of Moses; and on the other hand, the small number of video images that have emerged from the MV Mavi Marmara debacle from the participants, compared to the even fewer controlled images that have come from Israeli sources.

image - Pioneer Peak, from the lake offshore of Camp Challenge. Taken last week. PA

Sunday, June 27, 2010

PA Arts Sunday - Two Summer Concerts - One This Wednesday with Wu Man at Out North

I. The Young People's Symphony Orchestra, based in Berkeley California, finished up their Alaska tour yesterday evening in Anchorage. Joined in the concert by the Anchorage Youth Symphony, the large San Francisco Bay-area youth orchestra performed two full works and the Adagio from Antonin Dvorak's 8th Symphony.

They had previously played in Fairbanks on June 23rd, in a joint appearance with the Fairbanks Youth Symphony, and in Kenai ao June 25th, sharing the stage with the Kenai Peninsula Community Orchestra.

Saturday's Anchorage performance, in the Discovery Theatre, certainly had its fine points. Under their director, David Ramadanoff (shown above, rehearsing the YPSO), the sound of the strings was perhaps the finest aspect of the ensemble. With 34 violins and 16 violoncelli, their string section is rather large. This showed off best in the detailed and vibrant string writing in parts of Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite.

Stravinsky's three early ballets always sound better in live performance than on disc. I notice it every time I hear them or play in one of them live. The rich detail of these exotic scores comes across in recordings, but there is something ingenious in Stravinsky's spatial orchestration of these works in particular that becomes very vibrant on stage.
Here's a link to a video of their performance last night of the Berceuse de Chat and Finale from The Firebird.

Here's a link to a youtube of them performing Dmitri Shostakovich's Festive Overture at the Shanghai Conservatory in 2007.

II. On Wednesday evening, Juneau's CrossSound Festival will be producing a single Anchorage concert at Out North Theater. It will feature several excellent musicians from Alaska and around the world, including pipa virtuoso, Wu Man.

Wu Man is one of the most amazing performers alive. Yo Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass, among many others, have worked with her. Besides being the Jimi Hendrix of the pipa, she has revitalized worldwide and popular interest in this Chinese cross between a lute and a mandolin.

Here is their Anchorage program:

[order will change]

☉ The Oort Cloud (2001 CrossSound Commission)
for gayageum, marimba, pipa, bari sax and trombone
Yuriko Hase Kojima

“As the title suggests, the artistic images and the musical ideas come from my interest in astronomy.

In this piece, the sounds of the three non-sustaining instruments - kayagûm, marimba, and pipa - embody cosmic dusts; and the sounds of the two low brass instruments - bari sax and trombone -
symbolize the boundless darkness of the universe.

“Composing for both the Western and Asian instruments, I did not try to use each instrument in an idiomatic way, but rather I tried to focus on the sounds themselves, simply played, with both traditional and contemporary techniques. This way, I could hear all the instrumental sounds as pure natural phenomena, as if they were happening far away in space.” - Yuriko Hase Kojima (Tokyo, 2001)

☉ Frozen Land in the Dry Sky (2010 World Premiere, CrossSound Commission)*
A Movement for World-mixed Chamber Ensemble: Yup’ik vocals, djembe, gayageum (Korean 12-stringed zither), pipa (4-stringed Chinese lute), mudang bells (Korean shaman bell-tree), marimba, saxophone, trombone and Western percussion
Cecilia Heejeong Kim (S. Korea)

“Based on the Yup’ik song Cayuurlakunguur or "Pulling Together" from Stephen Blanchett’s Pamyua repertoire, Frozen Land in the Dry Sky is a ritual song that expresses a prayer for supreme bliss and eternal life for the spirits of every living being. The music consists of two contrasting elements: modern impressionism and rhythmic unisons. These appear separately and together to support the nuances of the vocal part. The music is performed by an interesting mixture of ethnic and modern instruments.”—Cecilia Heejeong Kim (Seoul 6.2010)

*Supported by Sang Myung University / 이 작품은 2010년 상명대학교 학술연구비로 지원제작 되었습니다.

☉ The Great Secret Lies (2001 CrossSound Commission)
for pipa, gayageum, and marimba
Karola Obermüller (Germany)

“I know that they are talking, whispering to each other while I am lying in bed. I have been hearing them for several nights now. But it is getting worse: they are sitting in the icebox, and when I open it they are laughing at me, making jokes; they are sprawling hedonistically on the balcony, enjoying the sun and MY strawberries; they are flopping down in my grand piano, cackling around. They are EVERYWHERE. In addition I do not understand a single word - it is a real Babel of languages . . .

“This evening I ran into one of them that was sitting in the dust-bin and crying. I wondered why but I could not understand its whimpering. In its despair it started to sound, and, it’s hard to believe,

suddenly I felt like UNDERSTANDING EVERYTHING! I do not know why, but I now KNOW who . . . and where . . .
and what . . .
and I have to write it down, I have to hurry
hurry up
the great
- Karola Obermüller (Darmstadt, 2001)

☉ Change I (1992)
for pipa, gayageum, saxophone, trombone, cauyaq, marimba
Park, Jechun (S. Korea)

“This piece is based on the theme of Change I, which I wrote when I led the jazz-rock band ‘Mol-e mori’ in 1992. In m initial conception of the meter, the piece was supposed to change only one time. It ended up, however, with many meter changes: 3/4, 9/4, 4/4, 4/8, and 13/8 time.”—Park Jechun (Seoul, 6.2010)

☉ Night Thoughts (2005)
for pipa solo
Wu Man (China/CA)

“Inspired by the 12 Century pipa painting from the Dun Huang caves in Gansu Province, western China.” —Wu Man

☉ Collage (2000)
for pipa solo
Wu Man (China/CA)

“Performed in the martial style, Collage is a structured improvisational piece inspired by the classic solo pipa repertoire. The martial style is very dramatic and imitative and is recognizable by the quick and ferocious way in which the strings are strummed, making the pipa sound more like an electric guitar and less like an ancestor of the lute.” —Wu Man

☉ San Liu (Three Six )
Chinese traditional for pipa solo

“San Liu is a popular folk tune from the Shanghai area. It is often played by a small ensemble at a tea house.”—Wu Man

Here are two videos of Wu Man.

The first is a performance in Santa Fe, of one of her own compositions:

The second is an arrangement of a song by the late Bollywood composer, Ravul Dev Burman, performed with the Kronos Quartet:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Here We Go - Possibly the First 2010 Hurricanes Shaping Up

The one with the yellow circle and crosshairs is called "Tropical Depression One." The one just southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula isn't named yet, but its probable path is shown below.

This guy is gone by now, but the advent of tropical storms will bring more oil to many more birds in many more places.

Palin Ordered to Repay Almost $400K to Donors From Illegal Alaska Fund Trust

I. A decision announced Thursday in Anchorage by The Alaska State Personnel Board was the most adverse ethics decision yet regarding former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: She is required to repay donors to her Alaska Fund Trust, set up in April 2009, almost a half million dollars:

Tim Petumenos, an Anchorage attorney hired by the state Personnel Board to investigate, said Thursday the legal defense fund violated state law because it "constituted using public office to obtain private benefit." He said the fund, which was set up while Palin was still governor, inappropriately said it was the "official website" of Palin, and made reference to her work in public office. Petumenos upheld an ethics complaint that was filed 15 months ago against the trust.

Interestingly, not much attention is being paid to this yet in the national, "liberal lamestream media," as the quitter is so fond of calling our press. The Alaska progressive blogging community has long been speculating about the importance of this long-left-unresolved ethics complaint and its possible relationship to her July 2008 resignation.

Essentially, Palin set up the legal defense fund in April 2009, mostly to pay her legal bills from the Troopergate fiasco. The part of the two investigations into how she mishandled her attempts to have her former brother-in-law fired from the Alaska State Troopers that stemmed from her having filed an ethics complaint against herself had been particularly expensive.

The two 2008 investigations came to different conclusions. The first, known as The Branchflower Investigation, and initiated by a Republican-dominated group of Alaska legislators known as the Legislative Council, found that Palin had acted unethically in the ways she had pressured public employees to fire her ex brother-in-law. The second investigation, initiated by Palin herself, by filing an action against herself, led to the Personnel Board hiring Anchorage attorney Tim Petumonos to scrutinize how the governor had dealt with her ex brother-in-law.

His report, released the evening before the 2008 presidential election, largely exonerated Palin, though it made specific recommendations about needed executive branch ethics reform. For his 2008 report, Petumonos was hailed by Palin supporters. That has now changed, with his June 24th 2010 ruling. As I observed Thursday:

Anchorage Attorney Tim Petumonos, who was, up until Thursday afternoon, one of the great holy men in the pantheon of people whose actions have elevated them to sainthood among the acolytes of Queen Esther of Wasilla, has now been consigned to an outer ring of Hell even Dante couldn't have imagined.

The Palin shrine, Conservatives4Palin (which last week came up with a headline so ridiculous I almost wrote a diary about it - "Rahm Emanuel to Reportedly Quit in 6-8 Months Due to Pressure from Palin and Other Conservatives") is skewering Petumonos' employers, the large law firm of Perkins Coie today, for his finding:

That brings us back to Perkins Coie, the official law firm for the DNC and Obama, both of whom instruct the ADP to “keep Sarah Palin out of public office” and mobilize their useful idiots like Shannyn Moore, Jeanne Devon, Linda Kellen-Biegle, and the anti-Semitic terrorist loving Phil Munger. Birds of a feather. How was it that Perkins Coie was selected in the first place? Why didn’t the DNC official law firm disclose to the Personnel Board the fact that it was counsel for the DNC, and by extension, the ADP and the many inane bloggers who filed frivolous ethics act complaints? Seeing as this supposedly “independent” law firm was supposed to make a ruling on “ethics” one can rightfully question that firm’s ethics for withholding key information from the public. Maybe they were busy that day, representing Osama bin Laden’s staff and all. (It’s nice to know that the FBI’s number one most wanted can get his staff the same lawyers that represent the President of the United States). What a country.

So there is, at least in the mind of Palinbot Ian Lazaran, a vast conspiracy tying Obama, Osama bin Laden, Alaska bloggers and the attorney who found the fund to be illegal? How could they have missed George Soros' part in this enormous web of deceit?

Comments at the C4P post include some doozies:

Hopefully white indies will continue to defect from the warm embrace of the Messiah and let's not forget about.........


Her Church was set on fire. She has been stalked. She has been harassed. Her privacy has been invaded. Her email has been hacked and distributed. She has been threatened with rape and murder. She has been targetted for bankruptcy.

All those things are documented. This is reality. This is a partial list mind you.


Just donated to new Palin Legal Fund! Will send more $ when I get my refund from former legal fund. Onward to 2010 and 2012!

Which brings us to the NEW Palin defense fund, set up yesterday.

II. No sooner was Petumonos' finding announced, than Palin's people announced the setup of a new fund. At their faq page, the site states:

"Is this site officially sanctioned by Sarah Palin?

Yes, the legal defense fund is sactioned by Sarah Palin. However, this website and fund are not associated with SarahPAC or other entities. Governor Palin is not the trustee of the fund. She has sanctioned the use of her name and image for the website and trust to help raise funds for her legal defense."

Yet, as uncovered last night by the European blog, Palingates:

The new "Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund", which officially has absolutely nothing do to with SarahPAC, Sarah Palin's political action committee, shares the same address and phone number with SarahPAC!

The old illegal legal defense fund had been set up mostly as a rather strange moneymaking tool. Not only was the chief trustee, Palin's longtime friend Kristan Cole, a paid employee of the state, the fund was set up, as has long been noted by the progressive Alaska bloggers, as a slush fund for whatever her family and the trustees wanted to use them for. As observed last year at Linda Kellen Beigel's blog:

There is NOTHING in the official purpose of the AFT related to legal defense or legal proceedings or ethics complaints. In fact, the purpose of the trust is for any expense at all incurred by Sarah Palin “as a result of the fact that she is Governor . . . or as a result of the performance of her duties as Governor.” Those are the only limitations instilled by the purpose clause.

So the purpose of the AFT is to collect money for…basically anything and everything, short of overt criminal activity. This includes legal expenses, of course, along with everything else under the sun. It also covers her family and staff, as well as “any other person determined by the Trustee.”

Well, the Palins tried, but, essentially, along with the complainant who filed the clarification request in the first place, the Alaska bloggers kept on this when the regular media outlets mostly ignored the importance of the story.

We're going to stay on the links between Palin's PAC and the new "legal defense fund" too.

Here is a list of the stories on this so far by Alaska bloggers and Palingates:

Palin's Legal Defense Fund Isn't (Updated) - The Mudflats

More Facts About the Palin Legal Defense Fund - The Mudflats

Palin must return $386,000 in donations received before she resigned as Governor of Alaska! Update: The Return of Meg Stapletongue! And another update! And yet another update! - The Immoral Minority

Sarah Palin launches NEW defense fund with uber aggressive e-mail. Do NOT let the venom get in your eyes! - The Immoral Minority

Time to Redouble Efforts to Put TLC on the Spot on Supporting Palin's Program - Progressive Alaska

Investigator Tim Petumenos rules: Sarah Palin's "Alaska Fund Trust" (Legal Defense Fund) was illegal - UPDATE: THE SCANDAL CONTINUES! - Palingates

Sarah Palin's executive style did not serve the interests of Alaskans - New ethics complaint - Palingates

Time to Redouble Efforts to Put TLC on the Spot on Supporting Palin's Program

Anchorage Attorney Tim Petumonos, who was, up until Thursday afternoon, one of the great holy men in the pantheon of people whose actions have elevated them to sainthood among the acolytes of Queen Esther of Wasilla, has now been consigned to an outer ring of Hell even Dante couldn't have imagined.

All Tim did was, given a second shot at it, lay the truth out there: Sarah Palin's legal defense fund, created to pay for Troopergate, which was an ethics complaint she filed herself, was and is illegal. She has to repay over $300,000 to the donors.

The progressive Alaska bloggers have long speculated that foremost among the reasons she walked away from her sworn job here was that, in a rare moment of sanity, she had listened to one of her attorneys and realized that the attorney's advice that the Alaska Fund Trust was illegal, might come down to be the case in the end, no matter how long it could be stalled out. And, that to raise the money to repay the donors, she would have to accept going on a lengthy book tour to promote the book, that would bring in the money to repay donors.

Looking back at how the Alaska media was portraying Palin in late June and the first two days of July 2009, and comparing that to what the progressive Alaskan bloggers were writing at that same time, all I can say is - never have we been so right, the (to borrow a term from Palin) lamestream media so wrong.

More on this later.

But, meanwhile, let's get together and contact The Learning Channel and let them know what a sleazeball they've hired to represent all of Alaska to their viewers.

image - Palin giving her 3rd grade daughter a 1st grade math flash card during the 2008 campaign

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thousands Will Kill Themselves Over the BP Gulf Tragedy - Updated

The reported suicide of a Gulf charter skipper begs comparison. There is no exact number, but many suspect at least 30 people in Alaska or who worked on or were ruined by the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) killed themselves over the succeeding 20 years, one as recently as last year. I knew three of the victims, one very well.

Alaska had about 500,000 residents at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

At least 11,000,000 gallons were spilled

Approximately 30 people killed themselves.

The gulf spill will likely effect areas with at least 40 million residents.

Unabated over the summer it may end up being 20 times larger than the EVOS.

Should that happen, following the Alaska model, there may be 48,000 suicides over the economic and emotional hardships brought on by the spill over the next 20 years.

I don't claim to be a statistician, so maybe somebody here can help me out, because the number seems high. I suspect the number of suicides over this during the next generation will be more in the 4,000 to 6,000 range, but it is all just guessing.

I've been thinking about this for days, but my own EVOS PTSD has held me back. I figure there have been other suicides over this already, that haven't been reported in context.

Updated - 3:00 a.m: Shannyn Moore has written eloquently on this same subject in the past few hours. Please go read her post, Dying Over Oil. It made me cry.

"I Got the Ball and Time Stopped - What Can Go Wrong?"

That was striker-midfielder Landon Donovan this morning, in his first ESPN interview after scoring the sole goal in the 92nd minute of the 1-0 U.S. victory over Algeria.

I got up for the match, watching over 90 minutes of scoreless - at least according to the refs - football soccer. Loved it.

The two teams I'm rooting for especially are ours, and my friend Walter Oliveres' favorite, Chile.

Palestine on the Map

This is a remarkable video for its savvy restraint and high quality production:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Alaska's Progressive Blogging Community Turns on Sen. Begich for Whoring for Corrupt Louisiana Judge

On Tuesday, four of Alaska's most influential, award-winning progressive bloggers, turned on Alaska Sen. Mark Begich en masse for his press release, issued late Tuesday morning, that applauded a corrupt Louisiana judge's decision to overturn President Obama's temporary suspension of new offshore deepwater drilling permits. Here's Begich:

"Today's decision by the Louisiana judge overturning the Obama Administration's temporary ban on deepwater offshore oil and gas development shows the moratorium was overreaching. It should serve as a shot across the bow to the administration and Congress that American workers must continue to develop America's energy resources within our borders.

"Companies demonstrating solid exploration and development plans and oil spill response plans should be able to develop our nation's abundant oil. Lifting a ban on deepwater activity, which carries greater risk than low-pressure, shallow-water development like in Alaska, hopefully will get responsible exploratory drilling planned by Shell in Alaska's Arctic waters back on track soon.

"As much as a tragedy as BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster is, we can't let emotion overrule sound energy policy. Our country's energy policy must include increased domestic oil and gas development as we transition to cleaner energy sources."

Jeanne Devon of The Mudflats, the Cook Inletkeeper 2009 Alaska Muckraker of the Year, wrote:

Who is relieved that the green light for the really dangerous thing in someone else’s back yard may mean that our less dangerous thing can proceed in our own, before we feel confident that we actually know how to STOP whatever caused this catastrophe? Mind you, the administration didn’t shut down the industry. They shut off 33 deep water offshore drilling units of the type that caused the biggest environmental catastrophe in history, for six months during hurricane season. Overreaching?

Actually, what the judge’s ruling shows is NOT as Democratic Senator Mark Begich claims, that the moratorium was “overreaching.” It shows that the Louisiana judge, who has large holdings in energy stock including TransOcean, Halliburton and BP’s two largest shareholders, ruled in his own self-interest. It shows that oil money corrupts everything, including our judicial system. That’s what it shows.

So, please. While America is looking at pictures of commercial fishermen reduced to tears, and Red Lobster is no longer selling oysters, and pelicans are suffocating in pools of oil, and endangered sea turtles are being incinerated alive while we try to burn off the oil, and parents know that their children will not inherit the family business because there won’t be one to inherit, and people are getting profoundly sick from the chemicals we pour on the already toxic mess, and eleven families are still grappling with the grief over losing their loved ones to a horrible violent death that could have easily been prevented by BP… please don’t talk about “shooting across the bow” of an administration that is trying to make sure it never happens again.

Please, when the nation attends together a spiritual funeral for one of the most incredible ecological jewels of our country, and the economic devastation of a region, don’t tell us that we can’t allow “emotion to get in the way of sound energy policy.” Please, don’t tell us we need to “get over it” while the planet still hemmorhages crude oil because of the recklessness of the industry whose interest you are trying so hard to protect, and there’s no end in sight.

It’s too soon.

Shannyn Moore, winner of the 2009 Steve Gilliard Award, spent the second hour of her KUDO-AM radio program today, lambasting Begich's sleazy decision, and then interviewing Rick Steiner, who has written some of the most important essays on the spill recently. He and Moore discussed how seriously out of whack Begich's "shot across the bow" statement truly is.

2009 Thomas van Flein Scorn Award winner, Jesse Griffin wrote at Immoral Minority:

Look I have lived in Alaska my entire life. And I am well aware that our Democrats are not exactly latte drinking, Volvo driving, tree hugging liberals. But they at least should be fucking Democrats!

When President Obama placed that moratorium on deep water drilling he was doing something that should have been done a LONG TIME AGO. Clearly the oil industry has placed profits over the safety of our planet and until there is some serious new oversight put in place we should absolutely NOT allow anymore new wells to be drilled.

And do you know what? I would expect my Alaska Senator to be right on board with adopting that kind of cautious approach after the terrible devastation that we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico.

No not Senator Lisa Murkowski, we know that she is prostituting herself to ANY energy company with a bulging billfold and a hard on for spoiling our pristine Alaska environment.

No I am talking about our token Democrat. You know the guy who was supposed to bring a little progressive blue into our blood red Congressional delegation. But instead I see him breaking away from our embattled President, and prostrating himself to the oil companies, when Obama desperately needs all of the support he can get.

And Progressive Alaska, winner of a 2008 New Scientist Hero Award, writes:

Mark, Mark, Mark. The Alaska progressive bloggers raised over $70,000 for you in 2008. Given the margin of victory you had over Sen. Stevens, you might be going to college or something right now, instead of praising corrupt bayou yahoo judges for "putting a shot across the bow" of the President of the United States. Just yesterday, I took you to account for supporting the country most actively engaged in espionage against us, for your having sided against our president twice now. And now your press secretary is telling me that if I want to get information to you, I need to go somewhere other than through her. Huh?

Twice in as many days, Begich has sided with corrupt, out-of-control entities or people. Why?


Fucking whore.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Open Letter to Sen. Mark Begich

[Today, along with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and 84 other U.S. Senators, Sen. Mark Begich signed a letter so rife with lies that it begs a very detailed and determined answer.]

Sen. Mark Begich

U.S. Senate

I wrote a letter to you on April 15th about your previous involvement in another letter, which had been crafted by people communicating with the same foreign government who ardently sought your signature on this one. You didn't respond to that one.

This time, I will go down the elements of your letter, and describe what seem to be errors so blatant, they defy being categorized as the truth. Here is your letter (pdf), with my annotated comments:

President Barack Obama The White House Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

June XX, 2010

We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations. The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so.

Our history of relations with Israel does not support our and their so-called "security interests" as having been mutual since the downfall of the USSR. Rather, the growing perception in almost the entire world, is that our rather one-sided support of one right-wing government after another in Israel, which continue to illegally expand settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (none of which the U.S. government views as legal) increasingly create problems for our national security.

1.) Our military involvement off the Lebanese Coast during the misguided 1982 Israeli invasion, led to the loss of many American servicemen, with no benefit to our security.

2.) The First Gulf War, in which Irael wasn't an asset, nor much of a liability, was somewhat of a wash.

3.) Almost all attacks on American military installations abroad in the 1990s, up to September 11th, were cited by the perpetrators as being fueled to a major degree by our unerring support of Israel.

4.) Our support of Israel was cited by Al Qaeda as a major reason for the attacks on American interests on September 11th, 2001.

5.) Many attacks on Americans since our unjustified Iraq Invasion and Occupation have been linked to people who sought justice for what they perceived to be the continuing erosion of Palestinian rights, which wouldn't occur without our unflinching support.

6.) I can't think of a military operation in the Middle East in which we might participate with this so-called "valuable ally" that would enhance American prestige in that part of the world.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and a vibrant democracy.

Turkey is our strongest ally in the Middle East, unless one counts Israeli nuclear weapons as being something entered into the "strong ally" equation. Turkey is also a vibrant democracy, which like that of Israel's, is in transition. The vibrancy of Turkish democracy is threatened by our blind support of one of these nations over the other.

Israel is also a partner to the United States on military and intelligence issues in this critical region.

And in our country. Would you consider requesting an investigation into Urban Moving Systems? Or into how the Israelis stole American plutonium and other important materials to create their nuclear arsenal?

That is why it is our national interest to support Israel at a moment when Israel faces multiple threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the current regime in Iran.

Israel has invaded Lebanon multiple times, sometimes on almost no pretext, causing thousands of needless deaths, fracturing Lebanese society, destroying its economy and creating animosity that will last long past my life and yours. Israel helped create Hamas as a counter-poise to Al Fatah. They won what was generally considered to be a more transparent election in the occupied territories than most view our 2000 election to have been. They won because Palestinians want to be represented by a party that won't accommodate further theft of their land and dignity, and isn't as notoriously corrupt as is Al Fatah.

Hezbollah was an uprising against Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Once again, it wouldn't even exist but for Israeli stupidity, intransigence and gratuitous military violence.

The current regime in Iran is, as with Hamas and Hezbollah, a product of reactions to violence and mayhem created by either Israeli or American military actions.

Israel’s opponents have developed clever diplomatic and tactical ploys to challenge its international standing, whether the effort to isolate Israel at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference or the recent effort to breach the naval blockade around Gaza.

First, the "clever diplomatic and tactical ploys" issue:

Israel's international standing is based on its own clever diplomatic and tactical ploys. Right now, Mark, you are playing your part. You will be paid well for your dishonest efforts.

Second, the isolation of Israel regarding the NPT. Israel is isolated. They have chosen that. With a weapon program built on a mix of technologies that included multiple thefts through espionage and treachery, of items from our nuclear establishment, they continually act, as in the Baghdad reactor bombing, in ways that have since come to also increasingly define how the USA acts internationally.

You categorize countries concerned with Israel's nuclear arsenal, stolen from America, as "opponents." Yet, as an elected member of our Senate, one might expect that recently declassified documents related to the level of espionage Israel committed to steal our nuclear materials for their first bombs suggests you would consider a hearing into this matter, instead of signing onto a letter crafted by the country that stole our fucking plutonium,and that criticizes our president.

We fully support Israel’s right to self-defense.

So do I.

In response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israel took steps to prevent items which could be used to support these attacks from reaching Gaza.

Israeli drunk drivers, over the past decade, have killed far more people than the Hamas rockets, which are dreadful. When you were mayor, did you bomb bars and liquor stores? Did you hold all of Spenard accountable for what somebody who lived in that historic community did?

A majority of Hamas rocket attacks since 2007 have been stupid responses to equally stupid Israeli actions that were in violation of agreements Israel had made with Hamas.

Israel’s naval blockade, which is legal under international law, allows Israel to keep dangerous goods from entering Gaza by sea.

The United States has issued no legal rulings regarding the legality of Israel's blockade of Gaza, so you are deferring to a view held by virtually no government on this planet save the one which has let you know that if you don't sign this letter, you will have fundraising problems in the future. Once again, "clever ploy" comes into play.

The United Nations and several international agencies all agree that the blockade is illegal, harshly punitive and should be immediately ended. The International Red Cross - how many fundraisers for the Red Cross have you been to over the years, Mark? - issued a report this week condemning the blockade as inhumane.

Mark, kids in Gaza are suffering brain damage right now because of the illegal blockade. The kids that suffer brain damage tomorrow will have your imprint on that brain damage.

The intent of the measures is to protect Israel, while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The intent of the blockade is that, and to put Gaza on a diet that leads to lower births, lower birth weights and to the unfortunate strengthening of Hamas. Had Gaza been given more freedom after the Hamas election, I think that things might have gotten better, rather than markedly worse. But Israel needs for Hamas to be powerful. Just not too powerful.

Late last month when Israel learned that groups operating in Turkey wanted to challenge its blockade of Gaza, Israel made every effort to ensure that all humanitarian aid reached Gaza without needlessly precipitating a confrontation.

They did as little as possible, given the growing international, especially European, attention to the gathering flotilla.

Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockade.

Those ships all watched the assault on the MV Mavi Marmara from distances varying between a half mile and two miles. They were also much smaller.

However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted.

This might be the most vile of the part of your letter, Senator:

Mavi Marmara was the first vessel, not the last. Clever ploy to call it "last," though.

The video footage to which you refer is highly selective. I followed the meetup of the flotilla, its problems and route as well as anyone in the USA. I watched other "video footage," as the flotilla tried to maintain a live stream of accurate information out to the world, as the Israelis tried to jam more and more output channels from flotilla vessels, through the night of the atrocity.

I read twitters, emails, and photos sent to me from the flotilla, as they came in. I followed the route of the vessels with transponders on the web. You rely on a few snips, edited by the military of a country that stole a lot of plutonium from us, yet allow that same country to either destroy or seize thousands of hours of video and perhaps hundreds of thousands of images from the flotilla participants. Many of the people who had their possessions stolen were American, Mark.

Your letter labels several worldwide parliamentarians, Nobel Peace prize recipients, prominent non-Muslim clerics, former U.S. Army officers, former U.S. diplomats, longtime Democrats and liberals as being directly supportive of a relief organization you want to now see be labelled as a terrorist organization.

Many Israeli maritime law experts believe the attack on the MV Mavi Marmara was a criminal act. The numerous cites of the San Remo Treaty defenders of the piracy throw about have never been put to the test, but they weigh little in the overall context of the way the attack on the Turkish ship went.

For you to characterize the attack upon a NATO ally's vessel, in an action that resulted in the death of a young American, by a rogue country that has built a nuclear arsenal around materials stolen from us through espionage, as the Israelis being the ones attacked:

were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted.

is a brutal assault upon the plain truth.

We are deeply concerned about the IHH’s role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas.

What is Turkey to do? Not have any relations with the elected government of an area that drains on waters important to Turkey?

Maybe help the water quality and sewage treatment experts into Gaza, Mark, so people feel less like shooting rockets?

The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department.

Mark, please read Max Blumenthal's book, Republican Gomorrah. It's got a lot more scarier stuff in it than the AIPAC-crafted bullshit you signed on to.

We commend the action you took to prevent the adoption of an unfair United Nations Security Council resolution, which would have represented a rush to judgment by the international community.

As opposed to the Israeli report that the White House has accommodated? I'm sure you'd be just as willing to have the Turks investigate an international incident, had the Turks been attacked instead of the Israelis? Do you really believe it was the Turks who attacked the Israelis?

We also deplore the actions of the United Nations Human Rights Council which, once again, singled out Israel. Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted. In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.

Mark, I'm so glad you deplore "one-sided" acts. Don't you realize that that is exactly what you are participating in, in this letter?

Finally, we believe that this incident should not derail the current proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We hope that these talks will move quickly to direct negotiations and ultimately, to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

I'm sure they will. And thanks for that letter, Mark. The Israelis just announced another 600 housing units in East Jerusalem within minutes of being told your letter was coming through.

Your checks are already in the mail.

You need to ask yourself whether or not your signing on to this boilerplate lie, and the way it enables this nuclear-powered spoiled brat to act next, will help lead to more American deaths in the future, rather than less, Senator.


Philip Munger

Al Jazeera's Documentary "In Deep Water"

This important documentary was produced by filmmaker Avi Lewis (Naomi Klein's husband), and is showing this week on Al Jazeera's TV outlets:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Large Dockside Protests This Morning In Oakland Against Offloading of Israeli Vessel

This protest is limited to 24 hours. It drew between 500 and 1,000 participants, depending upon whose count one relies upon.

You won't read about the many protests like this that have been occurring in Europe since Memorial Day weekend. You might not hear or read much about this in the U.S. media.

Eventually you will, though, as many more are being planned. Unions are getting behind this and the rapidly growing BDS movement.

Here is a statement issued on June 14th, by the San Francisco Labor Council:

San Francisco Labor Council Resolution regarding the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, calling for an independent international investigation, and opening of the Gaza border – PASSED 6.14.10

Whereas many labor organizations, including:

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)_
World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)_
International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)_
International Dockworkers Council (IDC)_
International Federation of Journalists_
Public Services International (PSI)_
Education International (EI)_

Trades Union International of Workers in the Building, Wood, Building Materials and Allied Industries_

Australian Council of Trade Unions_
Canadian Union of Postal Workers_
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)_
IMPACT (Ireland)_
Maritime Union of Australia_
National Union of Journalists (U.K.)_
Norwegian Labor Federation (LO)_
Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Swedish Port Workers Union
Norwegian Dock Workers Union_
Trades Union Congress (U.K.)_
UNISON, the largest public sector union in Britain
UNITE, Britain’s largest union
U.S. Labor Against the War
Arab American Union Members Council
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 10
Alameda County Central Labor Council

have condemned the May 31st Israeli commando attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, which killed at least nine unarmed people and seized and detained some 700 passengers and crew. Many of these labor organizations, as well as the U.N. and Amnesty International, have also called for an independent international investigation of the attack and for a permanent opening of the Gaza border in accordance with international law; and

Whereas the Elders, a group started by Nelson Mandela including six Nobel peace prize winners (former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former US President Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu) described as “completely inexcusable” the Israeli attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla and stated: “This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” and also noted that “the treatment of the people of Gaza is one of the world’s greatest human rights violations and that the blockade isŠillegal”; and

Whereas the aid carried on the ship was strictly humanitarian in nature, containing materials such as wheelchairs, medical, school and building supplies and non-perishable foods – items that Israel has refused to allow into Gaza since 2007, or only in insufficient amounts to meet the pressing needs of Gaza’s people; and

Whereas the military assault on the Gaza Aid Flotilla was carried out in the dead of night in international waters in violation of accepted norms of state conduct regarding use of the open ocean for non-military purposes; and

Whereas, in solidarity with the people of Gaza, the Swedish Port Workers Union is refusing to work Israeli ships from June 22-June29, and now the Norwegian dock workers have agreed not to work Israeli cargo June 15-29 – in response to the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla; and

Whereas the San Francisco Labor Council has previously adopted two resolutions calling for the lifting of the blockade against Gaza.

Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council join the long list of labor organizations around the world and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in condemning the unwarranted May 31st attack by the Israeli military on an unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla sailing in international waters; and

Be it further resolved that the council join the U.N., Amnesty International, ITUC, COSATU and many other labor and civil society organizations in calling for an independent international investigation of the attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla; and

Be it further resolved that the council reaffirms its position in calling on Israel to lift the blockade, so the people of Gaza can have normal communication, travel and commerce with the rest of the world; and

Be it finally resolved that the council communicate this resolution to affiliated unions, area labor councils, community allies, California Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, all members of the House and Senate who represent the jurisdiction of this council, and to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Respectfully submitted June 14, 2010 by by:

Alan Benjamin OPEIU Local 3

Tom Edminster UESF/AFT 61
Allan Fisher AFT 2121
Maria Guillen SEIU Local 1021
Shane Hoff UTU Local 1741
Marcus Holder ILWU 10
Gloria La Riva Typographical Sector, CWA Local 39521
Warren Mar AFT Local 2121
Frank Martin Del Campo LCLAA
Denis Mosgofian GCC-IBT
Francesca Rosa SEIU 1021
Rodger Scott AFT 2121
Dave Welsh NALC 214 (organizations listed for identification only)

The involvement of organized labor and more universities in the BDS movement is looking more and more like the situation involving South African divestment and sanctions every day.

Updated - Monday 12:10 a.m: After the end of the limited protest at the Oakland harbor:

At 7 pm, as the afternoon successful picket came to an end, Clarence Thomas, the president of ILWU Local 10, the longshore union’s largest local, expressed his solidarity with the Palestinians and declared Israel to be a “criminal state.”