Monday, 28 February 2011

Low pay, big risks for fuel haulers in Afghan war

Reagan Says Being In A Union Is A Basic Right

Israel Bombs Gaza Again

Israeli artillery Monday bombarded the Gaza International Airport in Rafah, south of Gaza, according to witnesses.
Ambulances headed to the scene after reports of injuries, they said.
Israeli armored vehicles also carried out incursions Monday east of Rafah. The vehicles bombed a Palestinian house and destroyed parts of it. There are no immediate reports of injuries.
Israeli forces bombed al-Zaytoun neighborhood in eastern Gaza Sunday night, killing one Palestinian and injuring several others.
The Israeli army had killed one Palestinian Wednesday and injured 10 others
Israeli aircrafts also launched strikes east of Jabalya, north of Gaza, and agricultural land east of Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, with no injuries reported.
Israeli bombing of Gaza came as retaliation after a missile struck the southern Israeli city of Beersheba for the first time in two years, which came in response to several violent incidents in Gaza including an Israeli killing of an Islamic Jihad fighter in northern Gaza earlier last week.
Beersheba is the largest city in the Naqab desert of southern Israel, often referred to as the ‘capital of the Naqab,’ and is the seventh largest city in Israel with a population of 194,800.

Excepter - The Last Dance

   RIP Clare Amory

HSBC profits double to almost £12bn

HSBC revealed that its highest paid banker took home more than £8.4m last year as it reported that profits more than doubled to $19bn (£11.8bn) in 2010.
The UK's largest bank said 280 of its most senior employees had shared in bonuses of $374m. Some 186 of these were in the UK and their share of the bonuses was $172m. This means key bankers in the UK get paid an average of $920,000 verses $1.3m group-wide, although this is partly because the UK numbers include lower-paid staff involved in monitoring the bank's risks.
Stuart Gulliver, who took over as chief executive at the start of the year, is to take his £5.2m bonus in shares. His total pay was £6.1m, down on the £10m he received a year ago when he was the highest paid employee of the bank.
While the chief executive's office is Hong Kong, Gulliver joked that he lives on Cathay Pacific and British Airways, spending a third of his time in the UK, a third in Hong Kong and a third in the air.
For 2010, the highest paid banker – who is not named – received between £8.4m and £8.5m; one took £6.8m and three received between £6.3m and £6.4m.
HSBC provides more information about pay than other financial institutions because it is listed in Hong Kong, which demands disclosure of the five highest paid staff. In banking, the biggest earners are often outside the boardroom.
Under Project Merlin, the deal between major banks and the UK government, the disclosure is different and only requires the pay of the five highest paid executives outside the boardroom – rather than all bankers and traders – to be disclosed. Under this measure the highest paid executive received £4.2m.
The information about the bonus pool for senior staff is being provided to comply with a new Financial Services Authority rule which requires so-called "code staff" – those deemed to be high paid and taking big risks – to have their pay published in aggregate.
Gulliver replaced Michael Geoghegan as chief executive after a very public boardroom reshuffle. For 2010 Geoghegan received £5.8m after his £2m salary and benefits were topped by a £3.8m bonus. He is also to receive £1m for 2011 and a pension contribution of £401,250 under the terms of his contract. While he stepped down at the end of December, he will receive £200,000 in consultancy fees to 1 April which he will donate to charity.
The bank cut its long-term return on equity target to 12-15% from a previous 15-19% target, blaming the costs caused by regulations which demand banks hold more capital and extra liquid instruments that can be sold quickly in a crisis. The shares fell 4% to 682p as the market digested numbers which, Gulliver admitted, showed income was flat, costs were up and that profits have been bolstered by the $12.4bn fall in impairments to $14bn – the lowest level since 2006.
"We've targeted 12 to 15% through the cycle for return on equity, principally taking into consideration what we view as a somewhat unstable and uneven economic recovery over the coming years as well as much higher capital requirements," said new finance director Iain Mackay.
Commenting on the profits, which were below the $20bn estimated by analysts, Gulliver said: "Underlying financial performance continued to improve in 2010 and shareholders continued to benefit from HSBC's universal banking model. All regions and customer groups were profitable, as personal financial services and North America returned to profit. Commercial banking made an increased contribution to underlying earnings and global banking and markets also remained strongly profitable, albeit behind 2009's record performance, reflecting a well-balanced and diversified business."
HSBC's new chairman Douglas Flint – who was the finance director until he replaced Stephen Green in December – said the group will "not forget" the financial crisis and support from governments around the world, adding the group entered 2011 "with humility". Green's departure to join the government as trade minister caused the bank to reorganise its top team last year.
But Flint hit out against George Osborne's permanent levy on bank balance sheets, saying that if the chancellor removed the levy – which will cost HSBC around $600m – the bank would increase its payouts to shareholders. The final dividend was announced at 12 cents, up from 10 cents at the same point last year.
Flint was also concerned about the new rules that force banks to hold more liquid instruments such as government bonds. "It will be a near impossibility for the industry to expand business lending at the same time as increasing the amount of deposits deployed in government bonds while, for many banks but not HSBC, reducing dependency on central bank liquidity support arrangements," Flint said. It is to be hoped that the observation period, which starts this year and precedes the formal introduction of the new requirements, will inform a recalibration of these minimum liquidity standards.
For 2009 the bank reported a 24% fall in pretax profit to $7bn (£4.63bn), which included a total bill for salaries and bonuses of $18.5bn, down 11%.
Jill Treanor @'The Guardian'

Spy war threatens Pakistan-US ties

Do Psy-Ops Really Work?

Libyan militias prepare to join forces before assault on Tripoli

China's jasmine revolution: police but no protesters line streets of Beijing

'No shootings in Libya' Saif?

English subtitles

Thousands of Screws Make a 3D Portrait

Meet Andrew Myers, one of the most patient modern-day sculptors around. This Laguna Beach, California-based artist goes through a multi-step process to create incredible works of art you almost have to see (or touch) to believe. He starts with a base, plywood panel, and then places pages of a phone book on top. (Cool fact: He'll use pages from his subjects' local area.) He then draws out a face and pre-drills 8,000 to 10,000 holes, by hand. As he drills in the screws, Myers doesn't rely on any computer software to guide him, he figures it out as he goes along. "For me, I consider this a traditional sculpture and all my screws are at different depths," he says.

One of the most challenging parts is getting rid of the flat drawing underneath because he then has to paint over each of the screw heads, individually, so that in the end, the sculpture looks like an actual portrait.

 @'My Modern Met'

‘Illegal Psyop’ Neither Illegal Nor Psyop, General’s Lawyer Ruled

U.S. and Allies Weigh No-Fly Zone Over Libya

'Whoonga' threat to South African HIV patients

HIV patients in the South African township of Umlazi live in fear of being robbed of their live-saving anti-retroviral drugs.
They have become attractive targets for gangs who steal their pills, which are then combined with detergent powder and rat poison to make "whoonga" - a highly toxic and addictive street drug.
Smokers use it to lace joints, believing the anti-retroviral Stocrin increases the hallucinogenic effects of marijuana - though there is no scientific proof of this.
The threat to HIV patients in this poor community of KwaZulu-Natal province is very real.
"On the one hand, we are battling to stay alive," says 49-year-old Phumzile Sibiya, who has been taking ARV drugs for six months.
"Now we have to worry about thugs who will want to rob us for a chance to live because that's what they are stealing from us when they take our pills."
Ms Sibiya and other HIV patients now visit the clinic in a group to ensure their safety.
"I just don't feel safe at all when I come to collect my pills. You never know where they could be waiting for you. This is very painful," she says as she shuffles along a long queue at Ithembalabantu Clinic, south of Durban...

Telco interception bill needs “major repairs”

William S Burroughs - Roosevelt After Inauguration



U.K. Poll Shows a Far-Right Swing

Smoking #88


Ga. Law Could Give Death Penalty for Miscarriages

From fear to fury: how the Arab world found its voice

Tunisian rap singer Hamada Ben Amor, or El Général, performs at an opposition rally in Tunis. Photograph: Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images 
It was early morning on Friday 11 February and the streets of central Cairo were throbbing with adrenaline and fear. Long-haired American professor Mark LeVine and Shung, founder of the Egyptian extreme metal band Beyond East, were caught in the flow of a million Egyptians who seethed towards Tahrir Square, past tanks, burnt-out buildings and soldiers with taut faces, through the rubble and detritus of two weeks of revolution.
Mubarak's surprise announcement that he was holding on to his rotten throne had sent a collective groan of frustration through the nation. The crowd feared that the time had come for desperate measures. Marvelling at the mood of coiled rage all around, LeVine and Shung looked at each other, wavelengths firmly locked, and said: "This is really metal!"
Before the revolution, Egypt's metal heads lived in fear of arrest. Bullet belts, Iron Maiden T-shirts, horn gestures and headbanging were closet pastimes for foolhardy freaks. Bands such as Bliss, Wyvern, Hate Suffocation, Scarab, Brutus and Massive Scar Era rocked their fans like the priests of a persecuted sect who lived in constant wariness of the ghastly Mukhabarat, Mubarak's secret police.
Since 1997, when newspapers had "exposed" the metal scene as a sordid sewer of satanism and western decadence, metal was never a faith for the faint-hearted. "Here in Egypt, everything is satanic if it's unknown," muses Slacker,  drummer with Beyond East and veteran of Egypt's metal wars.
"The consequences of speaking out could be pretty dire," explains LeVine, author of the recently published Heavy Metal Islam, a startling look at metal heads, hip-hop kids and other musical marginals throughout the Arab world. "And for what? What would it get you?" Jail? Sodomy? The lash? Any musician contemplating open revolt against one of the Arab world, old-school, authoritarian dictators faced some stark choices. Zip up or die, in career terms at least.
"We were like in a cocoon," explains Skander Besbes, aka Skndr, a luminary of Tunisia's electro and dance scene, "Closed in on ourselves, ignoring the regime and the authorities. You're angry, but you move on, because you don't know what to do. I decided to compromise because I wanted to be involved in the music scene in Tunisia."
Skndr organised parties and raves with his friends under the moniker Hextradecimal at a bar/restaurant called Boeuf sur le Toit in the town of Soukra. It was a mecca for Tunisia's rave scene, regularly hosting dubstep, electro and rave nights. There, Tunisian party people rubbed shoulders with musicians, artists and hacktivists, such as the newly anointed king of the Tunisian protest bloggers, Slim Amamou, aka Slim404, who has been made minister of youth and sport in the post-revolutionary government. Mutual rants about the regime were firewalled from government eavesdroppers by the venue's pumping sound system. "They were rare occasions when people could meet without feeling oppressed by the police or without the usual social barriers," Skndr says.
However, electro music was a relatively safe option because it was instrumental. Metal and rock were partially protected by English lyrics which the police didn't understand. But if you sang in Arabic, you either cloistered yourself away in anodyne "high art" music or embraced the banal glitz of the local pop production line, prostituting yourself to conglomerates such as Rotana, the huge, Gulf-owned media and entertainment concern that more or less controls the music industry in the Middle East.
Alternatively, you could choose to cup your hands around a flickering flame of integrity and fight a lonely battle out in the cold. Some popular Tunisian singers such as Ba'adia Bouhrizi had the guts to speak out. She denounced the brutal suppression of Tunisia's first anti-corruption protests in the town of Redeyef in 2008, before eventually fleeing Tunisia for the UK, where she was spotted singing alone in front of the Tunisian consulate during the recent revolution. Others, such as Emel Mathlouthi and Bendir Man, also deserve honourable mentions.
But it took a rapper to galvanise Tunisia's youth, whose frustration had been fuelled by years of government corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and general state-imposed joylessness. Until a few months ago, Hamada Ben Amor, aka El Général, was just a 21-year-old wannabe MC in a Stussy hoodie, leather jacket and baseball cap. He lived with his parents and elder brother in a modest flat in a drab seaside town south of Tunis called Sfax, where his mother runs a bookshop and his father works in the local hospital. El Général didn't even register on the radar of Tunisian rap's premier league which was dominated by artists such as Balti, Lak3y, Armada Bizera or Psyco M. It was a community riven by the usual jealous spats and dwarfed by the more prolific rap scenes of Morocco and France.
El Général had been quietly honing his very own brand of politically combustible rhyming since 2008 with tracks such as "Malesh" (Why?) or "Sidi Rais" (Mr President). Maybe it was the influence of the books his mother brought home from the shop. Maybe it was his beloved Tupac Shakur. Whatever the reason, El Général was game for confronting le pouvoir, aka the corrupt regime of dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. "Before the revolution, it was forbidden to do gigs," he tells me over the phone from Sfax. "We just played our music over the internet, on Facebook, because there was no other way. The media never talked to me and I didn't have a label."
On 7 November, El Général uploaded a piece of raw fury called "Rais Le Bled" (President, Your Country) on to Facebook. "My president, your country is dead/ People eat garbage/ Look at what is happening/ Misery everywhere/ Nowhere to sleep/ I'm speaking for the people who suffer/ Ground under feet." Within hours, the song had lit up the bleak and fearful horizon like an incendiary bomb. Before being banned, it was picked up by local TV station Tunivision and al-Jazeera. El Général's MySpace was closed down, his mobile cut off. But it was too late. The shock waves were felt across the country and then throughout the Arab world. That was the power of protesting in Arabic, albeit a locally spiced dialect of Arabic. El Général's bold invective broke frontiers and went viral from Casablanca to Cairo and beyond.
A few weeks later, El Général recorded another stick of political dynamite called "Tounes Bladna" (Tunisia Our Country), just as the revolution was gathering momentum. The authorities had had enough. On 6 January, at 5am, 30 cops and state security goons turned up at El Général's family flat in Sfax to arrest him, "on the orders of President Ben Ali himself". When his brother asked why, they answered: "He knows." He was taken to the dreaded interior ministry building in Tunis, where he was handcuffed to a chair and interrogated for three days. "They kept asking me which political party I worked for," he remembers. "'Don't you know it's forbidden to sing songs like that?' they said. But I just answered, 'Why? I'm only telling the truth.' I was in there for three days, but it felt like three years."
Eventually, thanks to a storm of public protest, El Général was released and returned to Sfax in triumph. Even the cops were now treating him as a celebrity. "People were proud of me," he says cheerfully. "I took a risk, with life, with my family. But I was never scared, because I was talking about reality."
El Général's rap broke the spell of fear and showed his peers that it was possible to rebel and survive. Rap's power is its simplicity. "People can just record songs in their living room," says the Narcicyst, an Iraqi-born rapper living in Toronto, who got together with other MCs from the Arabic rap diaspora, such as Omar Offendum, and released a tribute track called "#Jan25 Egypt", which has become a huge viral hit. "It's something that can be easily done in the middle of a revolution."
arabian knightz 
Egyptian hip-hop group Arabian Knightz.
Karim Adel Eissa, aka A-Rush from Cairo rappers Arabian Knightz, stayed up late into the night of Thursday 27 January recording new lyrics for the tune "Rebel", which he was determined to release on Facebook and MediaFire. "Egypt is rising up against the birds of darkness," spat the lyrics. "It was a direct call for revolution," Karim says. "Before, we'd only used metaphors to talk about the corrupt system. But once people were out on the streets, we were just like, 'Screw it.' If we're going down, we're going down."
He and his crew just about managed to upload the new version of the song before Karim was called away to help with the vigilante security detail who were down in the streets keeping his neighbourhood free of looters and government thugs.
After the uprising of 25 January, Cairo's Tahrir Square resounded to the traditional Egyptian frame drum or daf, which pounded out trance-like beats over which the crowd laid slogans full of poetic power and joyful hilarity. As the Egyptian people rediscovered what it felt like to be a nation, united and indivisible, they reverted to the raw power of their most basic musical instincts to celebrate their mass release from fear – traditional drumming and chanting and patriotic songs from the glory days of yore when Egypt trounced the forces of imperialism in 1956 or took Israel by surprise in 1973.
During the revolutions of 1919 and 1952, or the mass student protests of 1968, poets used to monopolise the power that rappers now share. The chain-smoking, cussing, national poet hero Ahmed Fouad Negm ("Uncle Ahmed") was reinstated by the Tahrir Square protesters as Egypt's bard of protest par excellence. A man of unbelievable courage, Negm has spent 18 of his 81 years in Egyptian prisons. The word "fearless" doesn't begin to do him justice. In 2006, he was being interviewed by the New York Times when a donkey brayed loudly outside his ramshackle flat in one of Cairo's poorer neighbourhoods. "Ah, Mubarak speaks," he quipped to the astonished journalist.
ramy essam musician cairo  
Student musician Ramy Essam by his tent on Cairo's Tahrir Square. 
"The Donkey and the Foal", Negm's poisoned paean to Mubarak and his son, Gamal, was set to music by Ramy Essam, a young engineering student who became the Billy Bragg of Tahrir Square. He sang the song to ecstatic crowds with the ancient Negm beside him, still standing tall. Essam went to Tahrir Square early in the uprising with his guitar and cobbled together a song called "Leave" from all the inventive slogans that were flying around the square. It became the hit of the uprising, going viral on YouTube and the Huffington Post, before being picked up by CNN and then TV networks around the globe. Essam lived in Tahrir Square's tent village for the entire revolution, composing songs, and playing almost every hour on one of the many stages that had sprouted there.
In that temporary utopia, Egypt rediscovered its love of freedom, honesty, joy and simplicity. The revolution stripped away layers of  blubber from the fatuous, irrelevant body of Egyptian pop to expose a new, punk-like directness and integrity in artists such as Essam, Mohamed Mounir or Amir Eid from the rock band Cairokee, who gathered together other luminaries from the Cairo rock scene to record the rousing, hymn-like anthem to the revolution "Sout Al Horeya" (The Voice of Freedom). The people were tired of bullshit, whether it was political, social, religious or cultural.
When the slippery pop star Tamer Hosny was sent into the square to try and persuade the protesters to go home, he was almost lynched, later issuing a blubbing apology on national TV. Million-selling pop idol Amr Diab fled the country with his family in a private jet bound for the UK at the start of the uprising. He'll find it hard to look his country in the face again.
Zakaria Ibrahim, founder of the traditional street music ensemble El Tanbura, from Port Said, remembers the student protests of the late 60s and early 70s. "I was very happy to see a second revolution in my life," he tells me in his gentle, wistful voice. Despite the head wounds received by his son, Hassan, when government goon squads invaded Tahrir Square on horses and camels halfway through the revolution, Zakaria went down to Tahrir with El Tanbura – and several other bands affiliated to the folk centre that Zakaria has founded in Cairo – to play regularly.
"People were completely excited to hear something new that they were never used to hearing before on state media," he says proudly. "Under Mubarak, Egyptians had become selfish and aggressive," he continues. "But in Tahrir, you suddenly saw the other side of people, the kindness, the forgiveness and many things like that."
All in all, as Noor Ayman Nour, son of  a famous dissident Egyptian politician and founder of Egyptian metal band Bliss, told me: "This was a very artistic revolution." Political freedom and cultural freedom danced hand in hand. To be young, to be alive was bliss, but to rediscover the thrill of banging your head to the sound of a raw, pummelling guitar, or spitting lyrics to the mic, or strumming out the truth in simple chords, without fear or compromise… that was very heaven.
This article is dedicated to the memory of artist and musician Ahmed Bassiouni, who died in Cairo on 28 January 2011 from injuries sustained fighting the police and government militias 
Andy Morgan @'The Guardian'
Village Psy-ops

The Julian Assange Conspiracy - Networks, power and activism

Listen Now - 2011-02-26 |Download Audio - 26022011
The object of Wikileaks is to dismantle the conspiracies that, according to its founder, rule the world. But what is a conspiracy and are you part of one? According to Assange, it's possible to be a member of conspiracy without even knowing that you are. This week, we look at Julian Assange's political philosophy and his view of the world as a network of conspiracies.

Libya: African mercenaries 'immune from prosecution for war crimes'


Cats Quote Charlie Sheen

(GB2011) The coalition has sneaked a coup on a sleeping public

As people elsewhere are killed for their belief in democracy and the rule of law, the supposed controversies of British politics inevitably rather fade. By comparison, we live in an Eden of stability, and argue over mere increments: to be getting in a lather about Cameron and Clegg can easily feel not just indulgent, but indecent.
Still, in the broadest terms, there is a tale to be told that includes Westminster as well as Tripoli and Cairo, and underlines what watershed times these are. Much of the world's current tumult is traceable to the long and tangled fall-out from the crash of 2008 (note the role of rising food prices in Middle Eastern unrest). And though most commentators seem either too polite or deluded to recognise it, the British side of this story is rapidly being revealed: not just cuts, but the most far-reaching attempt to remodel British society in 60 years, undertaken at speed, and with a breathtaking disregard for what was offered to the country only months ago. Last week, Labour MP John McDonnell wrote to the Guardian arguing that the increasing gap between claims of fiscal necessity and a transparently ideological project merited another election. It won't happen, but he has a point.
The other day, I picked up a copy of Naomi Klein's underrated book The Shock Doctrine, and was reminded of a celebrated quotation from Milton Friedman: "Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."
The Klein book, published in 2007, examines how Friedman's instructions were followed, and free-market "disaster capitalism" forced on Iraq, eastern Europe, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, in the wake of wars, natural disasters and revolutions (watch out Libya and Egypt). Four years after it came out, I was struck by a simple and mind-boggling fact. Here, as the coalition sets about the benefits system, marketises the NHS, threatens to do the same to schools and now apparently plans to put the entire public sector out to tender, what crisis was it that set the stage? Answer: that of the very economic model that is being pursued as never before. Welcome, then, to a new phase of history, when a crisis of laissez-faire capitalism begets that same system triumphant, something which brings to mind not so much Friedman, as Marshal Foch: "My centre is giving way, my right is in retreat; situation excellent. I am attacking."
Around the time of last year's comprehensive spending review, some highlighted a "democratic deficit" between what was being proposed and what the Tories and Lib Dems had put before the public. The Fabian Society's Sunder Katwala accused David Cameron of "amnesia about what he did and did not ask for a mandate for". As Katwala pointed out, the central deceit was embodied in a reading of the election in Cameron's 2010 conference speech: "The result may not have been clear-cut when it came to the political parties. But it was clear enough when it came to political ideas." It takes Etonian chutzpah to spin a line as disingenuous as that.
From there, via Cameron's famous insistence that "frontline reductions" weren't an option and a jaw-dropping commitment in the coalition agreement to "end top-down reorganisation of the NHS", the about-turns and unexpected proposals have extended into the distance. Certainly, on VAT, child benefit, the educational maintenance allowance, increasing NHS spending "in real terms every year", incapacity benefit and more, the merchants of anti-politics have conclusive proof that some politicians will say anything to get elected. By way of a contrast, you may think back to Labour's travails over the introduction of top-up fees in 2003, which was ruled out in their pitch to the electorate two years earlier. "It is not a lot for the electorate to expect the government to keep their manifesto commitment," the Lib Dems' then education spokesman told the House of Commons. Now, an entire legislative programme contravenes scores of pledges and offers transformative plans of which there was no warning. No one even flinches.
What are we faced with? A polite kind of coup, in the service of an all-encompassing project that Klein and her followers surely recognise, and of which Friedman would be proud. The Labour party seems punch-drunk, and racked with confusion about how much the coalition has taken from peak-period Blairism (a simple solution: disown those aspects of your disgraced past, and start truly opposing). Every lurch to the free-market right shreds the idea that the Lib Dems are there to pull the Tories back to the centre. With Lib Dem backbench MPs and such grandees as Shirley Williams, I keep having the same conversation. They say they oppose some policies, but are heartened by others, and all is just about OK. In response, the old hippie phrase comes to mind: you are either on the bus, or off the bus.
It speeds on, anyway. And it really is the most amazing thing: not just that this most illegitimate of revolutions is happening, and fast, but that we are sleepwalking into it.
John Harris @'The Guardian'


Michael Moore
Nearly every winner tonight will be a union member. That's all I'm gonna say.

Suze Rotolo RIP

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's girlfriend in the early-Sixties, who walked arm-in-arm with the songwriter on the iconic cover of The Freehweelin' Bob Dylan, died  February 24th after a long illness. She was 67.  Rotolo was the muse behind many of Dylan's early love songs, including "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time." She was just 17 when they began dating in 1961, shortly after Dylan arrived in New York City. "I once loved a woman, a child I'm told," he wrote in "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." "I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul."
In Bob Dylan's 2004 memoir Chronicles Volume One, he describes meeting Rotolo backstage at a concert. "Right from the start I couldn't take my eyes off her," Dylan wrote. "She was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blooded Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid's arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard."
By early 1962, Dylan and Rotolo were living together in a tiny apartment on West 4th Street. Suze came from a staunchly left-wing New York family, and played a huge role in Dylan's political awakening. When they began dating Dylan was largely apolitical and his set consisted mostly of decades-old folk songs. Rotolo took him to CORE (The Congress of Racial Equality) meetings and taught him much about the civil rights movement. "A lot of what I gave him was a look at how the other half lived -- left wing things that he didn't  know," Rotolo told writer David Hajdu in his book Positively 4th Street. "He knew about Woody [Guthrie] and Pete Seeger, but I was working for CORE and went on youth marches for civil rights, and all that was new to him."
Rotolo told Dylan about the brutal 1955 murder of Emmett Till, inspiring Dylan to write his early protest classic "The Death of Emmett Till." "I think it's the best thing I've ever written," Dylan said at the time. "How many nights I stayed up and wrote songs and showed them to [Suze] and asked, 'Is this right? Because I knew her mother was associated with unions, and she was into this equality-freedom thing long before I was. I checked the songs out with her. She would like all the songs."
In the summer of 1962 Rotolo took a long trip to Italy, leaving Dylan alone and heartbroken in New York. During this period he penned "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" -- all bittersweet love songs about Rotolo. She returned in January of 1963, and weeks later Columbus records send photographer Don Hunstein to shoot the cover of The Freehweelin' Bob Dylan. The young couple walked up and down Jones Street for a few minutes while Hunstein snapped shots. "Bob stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and leaned into me," Rotolo wrote in her 2009 book A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. "We walked the length of Jones Street facing West Fourth with Bleecker Street at our backs. In some outtakes it's obvious that we were freezing; certainly Bob was, in that thin jacket. But image was all. As for me, I was never asked to sign a release or paid anything. It never dawned on me to ask."
Dylan's growing fame put enormous strain on their relationship, and she moved into her sister Carla's apartment in August of 1963. "I could no longer cope with all the pressure, gossip, truth and lies that living with Bob entailed," she wrote in her  memoir. "I was unable to find solo ground -- I was on quicksand and very vulnerable." A particularly nasty fight with Suze and her sister Carla was chronicled in Dylan's 1964 song "Ballad in Plain D." "For her parasite sister, I had no respect," Dylan wrote in one of the angriest songs he ever wrote. "Bound by her boredom, her pride had to protect." In a 1985 interview Dylan said releasing the song was wrong. "It wasn't very good," he said. "It was a mistake to record it and I regret it."
By late 1963, Rotolo could no longer ignore the rumors that Joan Baez and Bob Dylan's relationship had become more than professional. They split up for good, though remained friends for a short period afterwards. During Rotolo's trip to Italy in 1962, Rotolo met film editor Enzo Bartoccioli. They married in 1970 and had a son named Luca. She lived in downtown New York her entire life, and worked as a teacher, a painter and a book illustrator.
For years Rotolo refused to discuss Dylan in interviews, but she agreed to be interviewed in Martin Scorsese's 2005 documentary No Direction Home. In 2009 she wrote a memoir entitled A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.
Andy Greene @'Rolling Stone'

Hank Shocklee - Bomb Squad Mix 005


USDA Approved Monsanto Alfalfa Despite Warnings of New Pathogen Discovered in Genetically Engineered Crops

Just two weeks before the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) fully deregulated Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa, a senior soil scientist alerted the department about a newly discovered, microscopic pathogen found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready corn and soy that researchers believe could be causing infertility in livestock and diseases in crops that could threaten the entire domestic food supply.
Dr. Don Huber, a plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor, wrote in a letter to the USDA that the pathogen is new to science and appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably humans.
"For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks," Huber wrote in his January 16 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."
Huber called for an immediate moratorium on approvals of Roundup Ready crops, but on January 27, the USDA fully deregulated Roundup Ready alfalfa after nearly five years of legal battles with farmers and environmental groups. The USDA partially deregulated Roundup Ready sugar beats on February 4.
The pathogen is about the size of a virus and reproduces like a micro-fungal organism. According to Huber, the organism may be the first micro-fungus of its kind ever discovered, and there is evidence that the infectious pathogen causes diseases in both plants and animals, which is very rare...
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Mike Ludwig @'Truthout'

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Top 10 Disastrous Policies From The Wisconsin GOP You Haven’t Heard About

Culture Before Politics

Libya: UN Security Council passes sanctions vote

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime for its attempts to put down an uprising.
They backed an arms embargo and asset freeze while referring Col Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
US President Barack Obama has said the Libyan leader should step down and leave the country immediately.
Discussions on forming a transitional government are reportedly underway.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil - who resigned as justice minister in protest against the excessive use of force against demonstrators - said a body comprising military and civilian figures would prepare for elections within three months, Libya's privately-owned Quryna newspaper reported.
Libya's ambassadors to the United States and UN have both reportedly voiced their support for the plan, which was being discussed in the rebel-controlled eastern town of Benghazi.
The UN estimates more than 1,000 people have died as Col Gadddafi's regime attempted to quell the 10-day-old revolt.
The global body's World Food Programme has warned that the food distribution system is "at risk of collapsing" in the North African nation, which is heavily dependent on imports...

Obama, Clinton: Gadhafi should leave Libya 'now'

How will America handle the fall of its Middle East empire?

Perfect Loosers present Akwaaba Remixed - Megamix!

It all started one year ago, Akwaaba head dood Benjamin Lebrave met up with the Perfect Loosers in their studio right outside of Paris. He came with a mountain of songs by Ahmed Fofana, Baba Salah and Onyenze. Treasures he'd accumulated on his travels to West Africa. And he met an enthusiastic trio: Waly had been fed Tunisian music since birth, Mast grew up listening to his Congolese step dad's addictive soukous jams. He also ripped walls with Sigisbert Tartanpion, his head filled with the Caribbean sounds of his parents.
At the time, the Perfect Loosers had already made a remix for Angolan kuduro artist Ze Bula, but clearly they were hungry for much more. And it really didn't take much for this impromptu meeting to give birth to yet another project in the Akwaaba constellatioWith such a diverse musical background, connections in the international DJ and club circuit, and the skills to create dancefloor killers and the artwork to go with it, the trio agreed to go a few steps beyond remixing, and piece together a full length compilation where Africa would meet the club.
The concept is to let artists and producers from around the world rethink handpicked, eclectic West African songs. With one rule: staying away from bland, uninspired "world music remixed" releases. Instead tapping into a bubbling scene of up and coming artists, not only receptive but more importantly inspired by music from Africa.
The stems were a mess, the artists had jam-packed schedules of projects, yet month after month, the album took shape. The result is a diverse blend of club aesthetics and African tradition. Not some trendy, artificial music: it is the sum of creations by original artists with deep musical roots. Artists from Europe and North America - as usual, but also from Africa itself, Latin America and the Middle East. Pushing Akwaaba’s mission further in connecting the dots between artists and music lovers around the world.

What's the Value of a Signature on an Art Print?

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Route du Rock 2/19/11

1. We die and see beauty reign
2. You won't let me down again
3. Come undone
4. Snake song
5. Free to walk
6. Honey child what can I do ?
7. Keep me in mind sweetheart
8. The circus is leaving town
9. Eyes of green
10. Time of the season
11. Something to believe
12. Eyes of green
13. Something to believe
14. Salvation
15. Come on over (turn me on)
16. Ramblin man

The Funky President Mixtape by KRAZ

Funky President - James Brown 03:26
Apache - The Incredible Bongo Band 02:15
Africa - Earth, Wind & Fire 01:54
Lavell Kamma - Soft Soul 01:13
Afro Sheen - Neal Evans 02:28
Sam Huff's Flying Raging Machine - Lettuce 03:15
Since You've Been Gone Interlude - James Brown 01:37
Let A Woman Be A Woman - Dyke & The Blazers 02:39
Nobody's Baby - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings 02:17
People Say - The Meters 01:45
Ride - Q-Tip 03:37
It's My Thang - Marva Whitney 02:16
The Last Suppit - Lettuce 02:08
Rock Creek Park - The Blackbyrds 02:28
Funky For You - Common 03:21
The Love You Left Behind - Syl Johnson 02:20
Everlasting Light - The Black Keys 02:46
Play Dis Only at Night - Pete Rock 01:49
Move Somthin' - Talib Kweli 01:47
Funkify Your Life - The Meters 03:42
Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys 02:55
Knockin' - Ledisi prod. by Fyre Dept. 03:25
Pass the Mic - The Beastie Boys 02:09
Fever - Fyre Dept. 02:20
Workin' On It - J. Dilla 02:26
Flashing Lights - Kanye West feat. Dwele 02:20
Lost & Found - Fyre Dept. 02:07
99 Problems - Jay-Z 02:44
People Get Up & Drive Your Funky Soul - James Brown 02:57

KRAZ presents his 1st mixtape "The Funky President" Kraz (from Soulive/Royal Family) mixes and remixes everything from James Brown (title track) and rare soul cuts to Jay Z and The Black Keys while throwing in exclusive original tracks from Fyre Dept and Lettuce to create an ultra funky soundtrack.
Mixed & Mastered by Eric Krasno
Art Direction by Root Down. Illustration & Design by Charley Robinson III
released 24 March 2011

FREE DOWNLOAD (with e-mail address)


Carl Craig presents Tribe @ Jazz à la Villette, Paris 10 September 2009

Marcus Belgrave - trumpet
Doug Hammond - drums
Harold McKinney - piano


Saturday, 26 February 2011

Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 (Albumstream)

When Dylan Carlson resurrected Earth after a five-year break, he also reinvented their sound. Gone were the crushing, devastatingly slow, blown-out guitar and bass drones that essentially created the entire post-rock genre. The new Earth create a more atmospheric music with more arid soundscapes; they explore skeletal yet pronounced layered melodies inside their trademark drones, creating the aural equivalent of vast, utterly empty desert landscapes. It began on 2005's Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, and attained maturity on 2008's Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull. With Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, Vol. 1 -- the first of two thematic albums proposed for 2011 -- that's still the case, but Carlson and longtime drummer Adrienne Davies have succeeded in opening up Earth's soundscape texturally and pushing beyond what was achieved on Bees. The contributions of new members cellist Lori Goldston and bassist Karl Blau make this possible. "Old Black" opens the set with Davies playing a kick drum, snare, and cymbal, with trancelike precision. Carlson pursues a series of chord changes one note at a time; Goldston creates a counter-melody just outside his frame. Blau pushes harder and slower, creating tension and a slightly shifting dynamic as the music intensifies but intentionally never breaks loose; it reveals its considerable power with restraint. "Father Midnight" commences with a two-chord vamp, played by all three string players. Carlson finds just enough extra notes to create a melody. Blau and Goldston assert themselves against this ever-so-slowly evolving lyric statement and one another; harmony and dissonance coexist without antagonism, creating a heaviness and tension that are aesthetically beautiful and emotionally resonant. The title track, a 20-plus-minute mindwrecker that closes the set, allows that dissonance in from the jump as Goldston and Blau explore the lower registers of their instruments in a counterpoint that is bridged by Carlson's low-end guitar only minutely at first. The trio gains traction in minute increases that up the dynamic tension. This creates a sinister brooding resonance that is underscored when Davies enters five minutes later. What takes place for the remainder is an exploration of intonation, space, and melody based on a minor-key blues that transcends the form. Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, Vol. 1 represents a further shift in Earth's evolution. It is darker -- even sinister -- and undoubtedly heavier than Bees, but it is more seductive with its mantra-like droning repetition and more elegantly detailed in its textural dimension. (Thom Jurek - allmusic; 4,5/5)


Did Frank Zappa Come Up With A Business Plan For File Sharing In 1983?

♪♫ Bright Eyes - Jejune Stars 2/24/11 Letterman

Blake Hounshell
U.S. clearly waited to announce sanctions until it got its people out

It's the Inequality, Stupid

The truth about Twitter, Facebook and the uprisings in the Arab world

RSA 2011: Winning the War But Losing Our Soul

Libya's 'Love Revolution': Muslim Dating Site Seeds Protest

Philip K. Dick, the sci-fi writer who fires Hollywood's imagination in film after film

The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (The Glitch Mob Remix)

I am pretty sure everyone is familiar with The White Stripes’ famous and Grammy winning single “Seven Nation Army.” In honor of the band’s recent demise, the Los Angeles based electronica group The Glitch Mob has remixed the popular song and given it some of the dirtiest electro synths possibly imaginable. While the remix doesn’t necessarily depart too heavily from the original arrangement that The White Stripes’ set up, it’s a fantastic, dirty, and electric remix, and an amazing tribute to a band that will surely be missed.
Did I mention it’s dirty?
@'The Music Ninja'



Billie Ray Martin - Sweet Suburban Disco (Vince Clarke Remix)


Sex Addiction: A Real Disease or a Convenient Excuse?

Model predicts 'religiosity gene' will dominate society

In the past 20 years, the Amish population in the US has doubled, increasing from 123,000 in 1991 to 249,000 in 2010. The huge growth stems almost entirely from the religious culture’s high fertility rate, which is about 6 children per woman, on average. At this rate, the Amish population will reach 7 million by 2100 and 44 million by 2150. On the other hand, the growth may not continue if future generations of Amish choose to defect from the religion and if secular influences reduce the birth rate. In a new study, Robert Rowthorn, emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge University, has looked at the broader picture underlying this particular example: how will the high fertility rates of religious people throughout the world affect the future of human genetic evolution, and therefore the biological makeup of society?
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Lisa Zyga @'PhysOrg'


@ 'USuncut'

♪♫ Muammar Gaddafi - Zenga Zenga Song (Noy Alooshe Remix)

#1 w/ a bullet?

Wisconsin Assembly Rams Through Walker's Budget Bill

It was an ugly end to 61 hours of debate and deliberation. After days of Democrats attacking Republicans and Republicans attacking Democrats, hundreds of amendments being offered, and Democrats using every move in the book to delay a vote, the Wisconsin state Assembly finally voted on Republican Governor Scott Walker's controversial "budget repair bill," which would gut collective bargaining rights for most public-sector unions, among other things. In the end, the final vote was 51 to 17, with 28 members—25 Democrats, two GOPers, and one independent—not even voting.
Why? Here's how it went down. A shade after 1 a.m. on Friday morning, the Assembly speaker pro tempore suddenly cut off the debate and demanded a vote. Then the voting window was opened for just a few seconds, long enough for a GOP majority to cast its votes and approve the bill. The moment the vote ended, the Republicans picked up and headed for the door. The move stunned the Democrats in the Assembly, leaving them livid. Some Democrats yelled "Shame!" and "Cowards!" at their Republican counterparts; others hurled papers into the air; one even threw a drink.
The whole thing caught Assembly Democrats by surprise. For one, they still had 15 speakers on deck to debate the bill. Republicans also failed to invoke the traditional motion and roll call used when signaling that the debate is over and it's time to vote.
The post-vote comments by Democrats hid none of their anger. "What a sad day for this state when we are willing to ignore the traditions that people died for in this state, that people fought bitterly for," said Rep. Peter Barca, a Democrat. "We ignore our forefathers who made this a great state." Said Democratic Rep. Kelda Helen Roys: "We never imagined they would do it as they did, not even properly using the nuclear option."
Republicans saw nothing wrong with the move, which they say brought an end to days' worth of delay. "In the end, we're going to head the state in the right direction," said Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, the speaker of the Assembly.
Of course, the fight is only half over. The state Senate now takes up the bill. But with that chamber's 14 Democrats still in hiding—their "filibuster on feet," as one senator called it—it's unclear if or when the senate will take up the bill. Democrats say they have no plans to return anytime soon, not until Gov. Walker relents and throws out his ban on collective bargaining. "I'm not paid to be their rubber stamp," Sen. Chris Larson, a Democrat, told me last night. "I'm not elected to be their rubber stamp."
Andy Kroll @'Mother Jones'


File 10356
Twitter user Abukhit in Tripoli reports gun fire outside his house. He reports that he had to run back into the house after witnessing a shoot out, and someone being shot in the head. He continues to give running commentary of the events outside his home. Here is a picture of a bullet hole in the wall.
@'Al Jazeera'

The DOJ's creeping war on whistleblowers

Libya's divided capital: Face to face with Gaddafi's militiamen

The Mummy Returns

Lim Heng Swee

Are you free?


Damaged Goods: The 10 Best Abused Artworks Ever

Art is both a precious commodity and a significant cultural symbol of our time. The museums and art centers that display the works are public domains, in which anything is likely to happen. Throw a bunch of publicity loving crackpots, wannabe performance artists, youthful vandals, social protesters, and accident-prone eccentrics into the mix and you enter the damage zone, where art gets hurt — or at the very least, publicly humiliated.
After recently reading about a portrait of Mao Zedong getting shot because its hallucinating owner thought it was the actual Chinese despot in his house, we decided to investigate other tales of artful accidents involving works by celebrated artists — ranging from Monet and Picasso to Warhol and Serrano — and bullet holes, crowbars, felt-tip pens, and flying elbows and fists. Click through below to discover our gallery of damaged goods.

Two bullet holes in Andy Warhol’s 1972 screenprint of Mao didn’t deter a collector from buying it for $302,500 — 10 times the high presale estimate of $30,000 — at Christie’s in New York last month. The reason the piece was coveted has to do with the shooter as much as it has to do with the artist and subject matter. During a wild night in the 1970s, Dennis Hopper got spooked by the picture and shot it twice. Warhol loved the results and annotated the holes with circles and the words “warning shot” and “bullet hole,” which made the work an unplanned collaboration.

Unreal cities: Sohei Nishino's magical photographic maps of London, Tokyo and utopia

Diorama Map London, 2010 - Sohei Nishino
Diorama Map London (2010) ... Nishino's maps are 'breathtaking in their amibition and disorienting in their oddness'. Photograph: Sohei Nishino/Michael Hoppen Contemporary/Emon Photo Gallery
"The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker," wrote Susan Sontag in On Photography, "reconnoitring, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes." Sontag's "voyeuristic strollers" included Atget, Brassai and WeeGee, all of whom were "not attracted to the city's official realities but to its dark seamy corners, its neglected populations". She could also have mentioned Bill Brandt, an often-solitary wanderer on the night-time streets of wartime London, or Cartier-Bresson, forever in search of the decisive moment, as well as all manner of street photographers, from the frantically obsessive Gary Winogrand to the gently observant Helen Levitt.
Interestingly, Sontag also saw the photographer as a kind of flaneur. "Adept at the joys of watching," she wrote, "connoisseur or empathy, the flaneur finds the world 'picturesque'". The term "flaneur", which originally meant "stroller", "saunterer" and, interestingly, "loafer", was appropriated by the poet Charles Baudelaire, to describe "a person who walks the street in order to experience it". That is certainly what street photographers do, though one wonders if the act of taking a photograph, as well as the photographer's need to be constantly on the look-out for a subject, might come between the walking and the experiencing; might, in fact, run contrary to the meandering spirit of flaneurism (flaneurie?).
One also wonders what Sontag, or indeed Baudelaire, would have made of Sohei Nishino, a young Japanese photographer whose work goes on show for the first time in Britain at the Michael Hoppen gallery next week. Like Winogrand, Nishino is an obsessive, one who relentlessly pounds the streets with a camera. Yet unlike Winogrand, and every other photographer mentioned above, Nishino does not go in search of the city's dark seamy corners or neglected populations. What he does is photograph the city in detail, and then construct a composite map from the thousands of detailed images he has amassed on his wanderings. Thus far, he has recreated 10 cities, including Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul and New York. The end results, which he calls "diorama maps", are both breathtaking in their ambition and disorienting in their oddness.
Diorama Map Night (2009-10) - Sohei Nishino
Diorama Map Night (2009-10) ... Nishino's cities are 'familiar yet oddly disjointed'. Photograph: Sohei Nishino/Michael Hoppen Contemporary/Emon Photo Gallery 
Last year, Nishino spent a month walking the streets of London – which, come to think of it, does not seem that long a time for the task in hand. He took over 10,000 photographs, which, on his return to Tokyo, he edited down to 4,000. Then the real work began. Having hand-printed the photographs in his own darkroom, Nishino then set about cutting them up and piecing them together – slowly and meticulously – into a giant composite photographic map of the city of London. It measures 7.5ft x 4ft, and will be shown at Michael Hoppen alongside his other diorama maps.
In the meticulous assembling of these photomaps, Nishino creates epic artworks that, despite depicting many familiar icons of modernity and post-modernity – the Empire State building, the Gherkin, the Pompidou Centre – look oddly old-fashioned. He creates what look like medieval or renaissance maps of modern cities. In them, everything is familiar yet oddly disjointed, nothing seems quite in scale and, here and there, whole areas are missing or seem crushed or out-of-proportion. Some of his photographs are taken from above, some from far below. Buildings loom and tilt, as does the terrain, and sometimes a segment of put-together sky appears.
For Nishino, it would seem, the process is the thing. He has paid homage to the great 18th-century Japanese cartographer, Ino Tadataka, who spent 17 years surveying and mapping the coastline of Japan. (The mammoth project was completed by his surveying team after his death.) But Nishino's obsessive cartography is of a different order: fantastical rather than scientific; imaginative rather than literal. "His images are true to form in a sense, and yet incorrect", notes Seiji Komatsu, director of the Emon Photography gallery in Tokyo. "In other words, he is trying to depict an image that comes from within the memory."
Nishino's imaginative journey has taken a different turn of late. His recent I-Land project, in which the map is even bigger and in colour, depicts an imaginary Japanese city that echoes Thomas More's Utopia, while simultaneously looking like a future-world from a sci-fi film. Here, old and new photographs are used to create a timeless cityscape that is unreal but oddly familiar. Again, the process has been painstaking and obsessive and the end result, like all Nishino's work, seems to fly in the face of Photoshop and digital manipulation. He is a creator of virtual worlds all the same, but what is important here is not just the end result, but the labour and dedication that underpins it.
"This work required a great deal of my passion and energy and entailed a great deal of financial, physical, and spiritual hardship." Nishino has said of the diorama map series. "After completing it I realised that it grew out of my experiences during a Shikoku 88-temple pilgrimage that I went on alone as my high school graduation trip. The pilgrimage for me meant simply walking the route – I had no particular underlying motivation or goal for doing it. I think the spiritual core of my work came from this experience, and I continuously take pictures to emphasise the spirit of going ever forward."
Nishono is a flaneur, then, but one whose motivation is not just to experience the city he walks though, but to memorise, remap and re-imagine it. His composite photographic map of London portrays a city both real and unreal, recognisable but alien. A city you can get lost in all over again.
Sean O'Hagen @'The Guardian'

Legislators Are Going to Unbelievable Lengths to Gouge Clean Water Laws and Cozy Up to Big Coal

Big Coal's backlash over the EPA crackdown on future mountaintop removal operations went from denial and anger to the outright absurd last week, as state legislatures conjured their own versions of a sagebrush rebellion and the new Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a sheath of regulatory gutting amendments to its budget bill.
On the heels of its Tea Party-backed coal rallies last fall, the dirty coal lobby couldn't have paid for a better show. As millions of pounds of ammonium nitrate fuel oil explosives continued to detonate daily in their ailing districts and affected residents held dramatic sit-ins to raise awareness of the growing health crisis in the central Appalachian coalfields, Big Coal-bankrolled sycophants fell over themselves from Virginia to Kentucky to West Virginia, and in the halls of Congress, to see who could introduce the most ridiculous and dangerous bills to shield the coal industry.
Their breathless message: "The EPA don't understand mining," as Kentucky’s House Natural Resources and Environment Chairman Jim Gooch, D-Providence, declared to his colleagues.
That misunderstanding dates back to last spring's breakthrough announcement by the EPA, following up a memorandum of understanding between the numerous federal agencies, including the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement, on finally issuing guidance rules and cracking down on the irreversible and pervasive destruction of mountaintop removal mining operations to waterways. Based on government studies that conclusively demonstrate that "burial of headwater streams by valley fills causes permanent loss of ecosystems," the EPA issued new conductivity levels "to protect 95% of aquatic life and fresh water streams in central Appalachia" and effectively bring an end to the process of valley fills (and the dumping of toxic coal mining waste into the valleys and waterways).
After an eight-year hiatus of enforcement under the George W. Bush administration, in which an estimated 1,000-2,000 miles of the headwater streams were jammed and sullied by toxic coal waste(my emphasis), along with the destruction of hundreds of mountains and tens of thousands of hardwood forests and the depopulation of historic Appalachia communities, the EPA's return to its true role as enforcer of the Clean Water Act made it a convenient target for Big Coal outrage...
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Jeff Biggers @'AlterNet'