Saturday, February 26, 2011

A curious argument

Writing in The Washington Times, Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon argues that recently leaked cables from the U.S. State Department disprove the notion of "linkage": the idea that putting an end to Israeli apartheid and the Jewish state's not-so-occasional massacring of the Palestinian people will help promote peace in the region:
The WikiLeaks revelations proved that among Arab decision makers and policy-shapers, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fairly low on the list of urgent priorities in the region. These private conversations reveal that Arab leaders are preoccupied with the looming threat of Iran and only make perfunctory statements on the "Palestinian question" . . . .
Because if there's anything the last few weeks have shown, it's that the views of a handful of "Arab decision makers" in the region are representative of the millions of people forced to live under their rule.

(Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English, "Protests in Bahrain")

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

1,000 words

Against my better judgment -- my what? -- I'm posting this picture sent in by a loyal reader (*cough* my Dad) as a follow up to my piece on Ronald Reagan and his stupid face.

Embarrassingly enough, I am in this picture both 1) trying to look cool and 2) hating life with every ounce of my being. Of historical note: immediately after it was taken I decided I would dedicate the tattered remnants of what was left of my life to destroying America and the capitalist system.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Yup, like the title says -- just got the "it's not you, it's us" talk. See my résumé here and circulate it far and wide. Also: Send money. And beer.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The American way

The Obama administration insists that Raymond Davis, a 36-year-old special forces veteran accused of killing two Pakistani men, is a U.S. consulate official -- and thus legally entitled to murder with impunity (oh, the perks of gang membership!). The Guardian, however, is reporting that he is "beyond a shadow of a doubt" a member of the CIA, in the words of a Pakistani intelligence officer, and thus fair game for a prosecution.

And while Davis -- no relation -- claims he was acting in strict self-defense, Pakistani officials dispute that, saying one of the men was apparently shot in the back as he tried to flee the scene, his body found 30 feet away from his motorbike.
"It went way beyond what we define as self-defence. It was not commensurate with the threat," a senior police official involved in the case told the Guardian.
Hmm. "Way beyond what we define as self-defense." "Not commensurate with the threat." I'm confused: is the dude talking about Raymond Davis or the war on terror?

(via Steve Hynd)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Earlier this week Inter Press Service published a piece of mine on the situation at California's Kern Valley State Prison, where inmates are being forced to drink water that officials know contains twice the level of arsenic that's considered "safe" by the EPA and World Health Organization.

Now Scott Kernan, the undersecretary of operations for California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (i.e., the Department of Mass Incarceration), has issued a statement that pledges action! to address the problem. The money line:
"We anticipate fully resolving this problem by August 2012."
For a chuckle, here's what a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health told me less than two weeks ago about the plans to build an arsenic treatment facility at the prison:
“Construction should start within 6 months and take 1 year for completion."
That means, at the latest, the treatment facility should have been completed by February 2012. Now for some giggles, here's what the warden of the prison, a Mr. M.D. Biter, said in a memo issued last month:
"We anticipate resolving the problem by October 2012."
And now for some belly laughs, here's what the previous warden, Anthony Hedgpeth, said in a memo issued back in 2008:
"We anticipate resolving the problem by June 2009."
I anticipate having to write about this for . . . awhile.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Prisoners forced to drink arsenic-laced water

I have a piece up today for Inter Press Service about a California prison where more than 5,000 incarcerated men are being forced to drink water known to contain twice the legal limit of arsenic, a known carcinogen. Prison officials have known about the problem for more than five years but have done nothing more than publish a handful of memos wherein they claim to "anticipate" resolving the problem . . . someday.

Those two years of my life I spent as an environmental journalist in DC? Not wasted!

Photo Credit: woodley wonderworks

Friday, February 11, 2011

If you're not embarrassed...

... then you're not paying attention.

From Barack Obama's speech today on the revolution in Egypt:
I'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity, jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight.
Really, dude? The people of Egypt just overthrew their repressive, authoritarian dictator of three decades -- the dictator who you and your predecessors all supported, by the way -- and you deliver the same address you'd give to a bunch of business major jack-offs at the Wharton School?

Are you fucking kidding me?

(via Jack Crow)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What Ronald Reagan's stupid face taught me about capitalism

It was the summer after 10th grade when I learned everything I would ever need to know about corporate capitalism.

Chalk it up to boredom, a wish to spend some time away from my parents and asshole friends, or a simple base desire to ineptly hit on and not hook up with a new crop of young teenage girls -- the more things change... -- I chose, voluntarily, to spend a week of my life on the campus of a nondescript Pennsylvania college learning about the power and glory of America's Free Market System.

And what a load of horseshit that was.

Founded in 1979, Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week was started by a group of educators and businessmen interested in addressing “the compelling and urgent issue of workforce preparedness.” Born in 1984, I was founded as the result of a condom breaking in the back of a Chevette. Yet while coming from dramatically different backgrounds, the mysteries of fate decided that the paths of I and this seven day course in corporate capitalist brainwashing would cross that magical summer of 2000.

I'm getting teary just thinking about it.

In between what I was later told were motivational speeches from the likes of former Pennsylvania Governor and color-coded chart aficionado Tom Ridge and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert – truly, I was a privileged youth – the program consisted of this: creating groups of about a dozen other pimply-faced youth who, in something of a corporate Lord of the Flies, selected a CEO, a CFO, a COO, a CDO, a CPO, etc. etc. ad infinitum, to Lead Us. We then proceeded to sell undefined “widgets” in various made-up markets based on the numbers a computer would spit out. Basically we, the corporate elite, would guess at what a computer algorithm wanted by writing down on a piece of paper how many widgets we desired to sell in a given place on a given day. We would then submit said piece of paper to the mercy of the electronic gods.

This was meant to teach us something about supply and demand. Or so I was told (According to the program's website, I apparently learned to “appreciate our free enterprise system” by witnessing from “a practitioner's perspective what it takes to be successful in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.” I believe the website was also written by a computer algorithm.)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Change the world!

Sign my online petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! SIGN IT! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Petition! Change the world by entering your email address! Petition! Petition! Petition!