Monday ReadsPosted: January 17, 2011
Good Morning!! Today is the official Martin Luther King birthday holiday. I hope everyone has the day off. I think I have a few interesting reads for you this morning.
I’ll start with this in depth report by Naomi Klein on scientific studies of the impact of the BP oil gusher on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. While the government reassures Americans that everything down in the gulf is safe safe safe, scientists are finding plenty of evidence that that’s not the case. According to
Ian MacDonald, a celebrated oceanographer at Florida State University. “The gulf is not all better now. We don’t know what we’ve done to it.”
MacDonald is arguably the scientist most responsible for pressuring the government to dramatically increase its estimates of how much oil was coming out of BP’s well. He points to the massive quantity of toxins that gushed into these waters in a span of three months (by current estimates, at least 4.1 million barrels of oil and 1.8 million gallons of dispersants). It takes time for the ocean to break down that amount of poison, and before that could happen, those toxins came into direct contact with all kinds of life-forms. Most of the larger animals—adult fish, dolphins, whales—appear to have survived the encounter relatively unharmed. But there is mounting evidence that many smaller creatures—bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, multiple species of larvae, as well as larger bottom dwellers—were not so lucky. These organisms form the base of the ocean’s food chain, providing sustenance for the larger animals, and some grow up to be the commercial fishing stocks of tomorrow. One thing is certain: if there is trouble at the base, it won’t stay there for long.
There is evidence of permanent changes in organisms likely caused by the oil and dispersants, and those changes may be passed on to future generations as mutations. In addition, the damage to creatures at the lower end of the food chain is so extensive that it may lead to collapses and even extinctions in larger species. While it will be difficult to directly pin all the damage on BP, there really isn’t much doubt that the oil and dispersants are at the root of the problems. It’s very bad, folks.
Ms Magazine has gotten involved in a protest against the New Yorker.
Last week, Anne Hays put her latest copy of the New Yorker back in the mail, with a note explaining that the august publication owed her a refund for putting out the second issue in a row featuring almost no pieces by women. In a December issue of the New Yorker content by women made up only three pages of the magazine’s 150; one January issue contained only two items by women, a poem and a brief “Shouts and Murmers” item.
“I am baffled, outraged, saddened, and a bit depressed that, though some would claim our country’s sexism problem ended in the late ’60s, the most prominent and respected literary magazine in the country can’t find space in its pages for women’s voices in the year 2011,” wrote Hays in the letter, promising to send back every issue containing fewer than five female bylines. “You tend to publish 13 to 15 writers in each issue; five women shouldn’t be that hard,” she concluded.
Her letter, posted to Facebook and widely circulated last week, has prompted Ms. magazine to start an online petition reminding the magazine’s editors that there are in fact lots of women in the world and that many of them write feature articles, reviews and poems, and that the premier literary/current events magazine in the country should reflect that fact.
According to the article, the New Yorker is not alone in ignoring women writers. Read it and weep.
Dakinikat called my attention to this NPR piece on President Eisenhower’s famous warning about the military-industrial complex. Give it a listen, if you can. From the story:
Eisenhower’s message was spot-on, but came too late, says Andrew Bacevich, a retired career officer in the U.S. Army and professor of history and international relations at Boston University.
“I think we should view the speech as an admission of failure on the president’s part,” Bacevich tells Raz, “an acknowledgment that he was unable to curb tendencies that he had recognized, from the very outset of his presidency, were problematic.”
During Eisenhower’s presidency, defense spending accounted for 10 percent of gross domestic product, almost double today’s percentage. But for Eisenhower to pull out the scissors and make cuts to the defense budget would have been declared anathema; the nation was prospering.
“In the 1950s, a guns-and-butter recipe seemingly had worked,” Bacevich says. “We were safe and we were prosperous, so what was not to like?” That’s not the case today, he says.
“We can no longer insist on having both guns and butter,” Bacevich says. “We are compromising the possibility of sustaining genuine prosperity at home.”
Dakinikat also pointed me to this one: What Does Wikileaks have on Bank of America?
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is promising to unleash a cache of secret documents from the hard drive of a U.S. megabank executive. In 2009, he told Computer World that the bank was Bank of America (BofA). In 2010, he told Forbes that the information was significant enough to “take down a bank or two,” but that he needed time to lay out the information in a more user-friendly format.
There’s a lot of speculation in the article about what Assange might have, but we still really have no idea. He’s going to have to back up his promises at some point.
Some guy down in Key West has given us all a little comic relief by suing Wikileaks and Assange for $100 million “dollors.”
David Pitchford, who claims to be a Miami resident but lists an address in a Key West trailer park, filed a $150 million lawsuit against both Wikileaks and Assange for the intentional infliction of emotional distress by the release of documents that “indangered (sic) the PLAINTIFF as well as every person of the United States; and the entire planet.”
In turn, every person of the United States and the entire planet is now mildly endangered by Pitchford’s spelling. In the four-page complaint he filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, Pitchford claims he has “suffered serious personan (sic) injury” including a “worsening” of “PLAINTIFFS hyper tention (sic),” “depression,” and “Stress,” and that he has been living in “constant fear of being stricken by another heart attack and or stroke as a result of the foregoing” and “fear of being on the brink of Nucliar (sic) WAR.”
Wow. Good luck with that.
Sargent Shriver, 95, has been hospitalized. It’s an AP story, so I can’t link to it. Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps and was George McGovern’s second running mate in 1972. He is the father of Maria Shriver and father-in-law of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Some good news: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ condition has been upgraded from critical to serious.
“The congresswoman continues to do well,” University Medical Center in Tucson said Sunday in a statement.
Giffords has been off the ventilator and breathing on her own, through a tracheotomy tube, since a surgical procedure on Saturday. A feeding tube was inserted as part of the same operation, which took place exactly one week after a bullet went in and out of her skull.
The Arizona Democrat is moving both sides of her body, her friend and fellow congresswoman, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, said Sunday.
“She’s doing great,” the New York Democrat said on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” adding that Giffords is “making progress every day.”
Sooooo… What are you reading this morning?