Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Man Who Blows Up Mountains

They call this guy the "real" version of the oil man played by Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood.

Is Don Blankenship the baddest guy in America? He is the chairman of Massey Energy, the company that blows up the mountains of West Virginia because that is the cheapest way of mining coal. A big man of 58 with a jutting moustache, he is a real-life version of Daniel Day-Lewis as the ruthless oilman of There Will Be Blood, nominated for an Oscar.

He has pioneered 'mountaintop removal', or MTR. This means blowing off mountain tops with the equivalent of 4,636 'bunker buster' bombs exploding daily, exposing coal seams which are then scooped up by the biggest diggers, cranes and trucks ever built.

Quite apart from its effect on climate change, the result is a moonscape. Whole villages have disappeared. The mountain tops are dumped in the rivers, killing them too. So far, half a million acres have been destroyed as Blankenship (left) does his best to consign to history the official state slogan - Wild Wonderful West Virginia.

Blankenship makes no apology: "Unions, communities, people, everybody has to accept that in the United States we have a capitalist society and capitalism from a business point of view is the survival of the most productive.

read the story up at the First Post.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Did Pentagon lie about Iranian incident?

A very interesting report surfaces on the MediaChannel.org website this week. According to this story:

Senior Pentagon officials, evidently reflecting a broader administration policy decision, used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to turn the January 6 US-Iranian incident in the Strait of Hormuz into a sensational story demonstrating Iran’s military aggressiveness, a reconstruction of the events following the incident shows....

The encounter between five small and apparently unarmed speedboats, each carrying a crew of two to four men, and the three US warships occurred very early on Saturday January 6, Washington time. No information was released to the public about the incident for more than 24 hours, indicating that it was not viewed initially as being very urgent.

The reason for that absence of public information on the incident for more than a full day is that it was not that different from many others in the Gulf over more than a decade. A Pentagon consultant who asked not to be identified told IPS he had spoken with officers who had experienced similar encounters with small Iranian boats throughout the 1990s, and that such incidents are “just not a major threat to the US Navy by any stretch of the imagination”....

The release did not refer to a US ship being close to firing on the Iranian boats, or to a call threatening that US ships would “explode in a few minutes”, as later stories would report, or to the dropping of objects into the path of a US ship as a potential danger.

That press release was ignored by the news media, however, because later that Monday morning, the Pentagon provided correspondents with a very different account of the episode.

At 9am, Barbara Starr of CNN reported that “military officials” had told her that the Iranian boats had not only carried out “threatening maneuvers”, but had transmitted a message by radio that “I am coming at you” and “you will explode”. She reported the dramatic news that the commander of one boat was “in the process of giving the order to shoot when they moved away”.

You can read the full story here. Other accounts also suggest murkier elements to the story. Don't it make you love Uncle Sam?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Symbols of Remembrance and Defiance

Philosophy Football's striking Holocaust Memorial T-shirt features Nazi concentration camp badges, used as symbols of remembrance and defiance.

These icons are combined with a line from Martin Niemoller's epic poem, 'First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew', words which are testimony to the horrific consquences of abandoning human solidarity.

The shirt carries the message 'Never Forget, Never Again', in the face of holocaust denial, and helps to raise funds and awareness for Searchlight magazine's community-led campaigns against today's peddlers of hate-filled division - the BNP.

Available in sizes small -XXL from www.philosophyfootball.com