Blog Archives

We’ve had a lovely afternoon and evening at the American Conservation Film Festival.

We are in the four day period of the ACFF, now celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary of presenting conservation and nature support films here in Shepherdstown.

We saw two films this afternoon, but tonight we saw two films accompanied by live discussions and question periods with the filmmakers.

The most interesting to me was Marion Stoddart whose life and career spent saving the Nashua River was so well presented in the short film “The Work of 1000.”

Filmmaker Susan Edwards broached the subject Can one person truly make a difference? This film tells the inspiring story of how a remarkable woman saved a dying river–for herself, for the community and for future generations–and became an environmental hero honored by the United Nations.

Mrs Stoddart, now in her 80s spent decades getting a very polluted river clean… petitioning, demonstrating, approaching manufacturers and politicians directly, and getting her husband and children involved. Her live presentation with the audience was very involving.

Our Nation’s River: A System on Edge  was the second film we saw this evening. Ten minutes long and made by Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of historic natural filmmaker Jaques Costeau. This piece was particularly meaningful for us, since it is about the Potomac River, the water body that forms our northern border and flows from us down to Washington DC.

Ms, Cousteau answered questions but also presented a discussion panel of professionals from the Nature Conservancy and the Potomac River Foundation.

The House was pretty full at Reynolds Hall, Shepherd University, with a number of standers who wanted to catch everything as well. Among the folks there tonight were most of the officers of Sustainable Shepherdstown (My wife is in that bunch, of course), our current State Delegate John Dolan whose work for us has been spectacular and who is leaving office at the end of the session. Steve Skinner, the Democratic candidate for Delegate who, hopefully, will take John’s place, was there as well. Both men realize the importance the Potomac is to our community. Of course, Republican Candidate Elliot Spitzer was NOT there this evening. Preserving our environment is just not a Republican issue… after all, don’t they all think that Climate Change is a joke?

We’re going to some more films tomorrow.

Newt to NRA: Right to Bear Arms is a Human Right

Here’s why Newt isn’t going to get any farther (from the Newt Gingrich 2012 campaign site):

Appearing before the National Rifle Association annual meeting this afternoon, Newt Gingrich called for a new United Nations treaty that would give the right to bear arms to every person on the planet.  This proposed treaty would counter the United Nations Small Arms Treaty currently supported by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After Gingrich’s speech concluded, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox came out on stage and said “The Gingrich Treaty…I like that.”

The Daily Beast noted that Newt’s reception from the crowd of 5,000 people was more enthusiastic than Governor Romney’s.

Somewhere along the line, folks are going to imagine a Newt Presidency and see themselves dead in their living rooms. Just think if every man, woman and child worldwide were armed!

Give a thought to what it would do to our legal system (of course, given the current Supreme Court, it might not make any difference.)

Bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer…etc.

If you missed this week’s Podcast, you can hear it at BlogTalk Radio…

Just go HERE.

We talked about Apple Computer‘s announcement of iCloud, the shortage of some generic medications in hospitals, the loss of memory with age, The loss of groundwater as seen from space by the GRACE project. and other things… If you sign in and listen, you can also add comments which will be available to all listeners, a list that grows every week.

btw: I’m getting a new cell phone, hopefully in the next week, which will improve the AWFUL sound quality of my current podcasts. And maybe I’ll have a music intro by next week.


– Bill

Afghanistan Koran Protest Leaves At Least 8 Dead, 2 UN Staffers Beheaded

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, April 1 (Reuters) – Eight foreign employees of the United Nations were killed on Friday in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif after protesters over-ran their compound, police said, in what looks to be the deadliest ever assault on the UN in Afghanistan.

Two of the dead were beheaded by attackers who also burned parts of the compound and climbed up blast walls to topple a guard tower, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a police spokesman for the northern region.
Over a thousand protesters had flooded into the streets of the normally peaceful city after Friday prayers to denounce the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Koran, by a U.S. pastor, and after two or three hours violence broke out.
The chief of the mission in the city was wounded but survived, and the dead included employees of Norwegian, Romanian and Swedish nationalities, he added.
The Koran burning was denounced by Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Long-standing anger over civilian casualties has been heightened by the Koran burning and the recent publication of gruesome photographs of the body of an unarmed Afghan teenager killed by U.S. soldiers.The Christian preacher Terry Jones, who after international condemnation last year cancelled a plan to burn copies of the Koran, supervised the burning of the book in front of a crowd of about 50 people at an obscure church in Florida on Sunday, according to his website.

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I wonder when we are going to learn, as human beings, to do away with ALL religious beliefs which do nothing but pose us against each other… when we are going to stop ALL violence in general, including riots and wars, and talk things out so that everyone wins… when we are going to END the favoring of the very rich over the working poor and stress the equality of everyone. One thing seems certain, it’s not likely to happen in this century… and if we last the next 100 years as a species on this planet, despite pollution, war and greed, perhaps all humans will settle down and live bright and beautiful lives.
It may happen sooner if we all try hard enough…it may happen. But I doubt it.

Now it looks like our participation in the No Fly Zone in Libya is a bigger thing than the UN asked for…

Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Febr...

Gaddafi

Here’s what Obama says:

United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique U.S. military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council Resolution.

President Obama states that despite warnings, Gaddafi has not implemented a promised cease-fire:

His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

NBC’s Richard Engel reports from Libya:

“Rebels say they are incredibly encouraged now that they have Western military support, but the rebels are leaderless. They are poorly armed; they are disorganized.”

Gaddafi’s forces are not giving up, however. This from Reuters:

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fired on a crowd of unarmed people in the rebel-held city of Misrata on Monday and are using civilians as human shields against air strikes, residents said.

It looks like the United States forces are taking over leadership of the UN action… however, I just heard the NY Times reporter in Paris say on the radio that we are doing more in the eyes of the Arabs than the UN has called for. That is, to me, our regular stumble in the Middle East.

I’m going to check out and listen to Obama’s press conference going on now from South America where he is travelling.

This from Cory Doctorow in Boing Boing:

clipped from www.boingboing.net

UN approves military intervention to protect Free Benghazi

The UN Security Council has approved air strikes against Gadaffi loyalist forces and the Gadaffi mercenary army as they advance on “Free Benghazi,” the Libyan rebel stronghold. In response, Gadaffi told a Portuguese TV station,

“This is craziness, madness, arrogance. If the world gets crazy with us we will get crazy too. We will respond. We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace.”

The no-fly zone and intervention will be enforced with support from Arab League members who earlier passed a resolution calling on the UN to take action (the Arab League has always had a fraught relationship with Gadaffi, whose presence at League meetings has been marked by the aforementioned “crazy”).

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7.11pm ET: US enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya could begin by Sunday or Monday, according to anonymous US officials quoted by AP, and would involve “jet fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft”.
Looks like we start up another one, this time under the auspices of the UN.

Colin Powell “manipulated” into making the case for the Iraq War…

…said his former Chief of Staff last night on MSNBC.

Take a look:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, appeared on “MSNBC Live” tonight and discussed Powell’s role as Secretary of State during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Wilkerson said he believes that Former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s office “manipulated” Powell into justifying the case for war and that “the Secretary of State was not told the complete truth.” He went on to state his belief that the Bush Administration was “using” Powell due to his respected reputation.
A key moment in the interview comes when host Cenk Uygur asks Wilkerson about Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which Powell made the case for war:

Uygur: Do you think the Vice President’s office manipulated you and Secretary Powell into giving a speech?

Wilkerson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

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Of course, this is something most of us have assumed for years.

Afghanistan is getting worse, not better…

This map showing the increase of high security risk areas growing in Afghanistan between March and October has been released by the UN.

 

What on Earth are we doing there? Isn’t it clear that we can’t succeed here?

And remember… if we get 100% out of Afghanistan, the money we save could solve ALL our other problems.

What? Is North Korea not getting enough news coverage?

“If the U.S. imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will … wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all,” says the North Korean Central News Agency on reports that a US destroyer was following the Kang Nam, a N. Korean vessel transporting illicit weapons to Myanmar, against United Nations sanctions. Interestingly, the ship following the Kang Nam is the USS John S. McCain.

One of the accusations that North Korea is throwing out at the US is that wenintend to start another Korean War. In fact, if the McCain stops to inspect the Kang Nam, according to the recent Security Council resolution for all members, the N. K.’s have said that they will consider that act a declaration of war.

It is expected that the North Koreans are going to test short to medium missiles, which could cover from 100 to 350 miles… certainly enough to do some destruction around allies like Japan and, of course, South Korea. They will also be trading with Myanmar’s military government, which has bought weapons from them in the past.

Meanwhile, China, Russia and South Korea are trying to get North Korea back to the diplomatic table for talks on disarming. These broke up some time ago and Kim Jong Il doesn’t seem interested in rejoining them.