'/> Uncommon Hours: September 2010
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Watchdog Faults FBI for ‘Factually Weak’ Basis for Investigating Activists

By Marian Wang

The FBI in recent years opened investigations into some U.S. activists with little basis, unjustifiably extended the duration of the probes, improperly retained information about activist groups in its files, and classified its investigations of “nonviolent civil disobedience” as investigations into “acts of terrorism,” according to a report released today [1] (PDF) by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The FBI activities reviewed by the Justice Department took place from 2001 to 2006, and involved groups including the Thomas Merton Center (a Pittsburgh social justice center), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Greenpeace, The Catholic Worker (communities of religious pacifists) and a Quaker peace activist.

The report by the Justice Department watchdog didn’t find that the FBI  targeted these groups on the basis of their free speech activities — which would be a serious violation [2] of FBI guidelines — but did fault the agency for other reasons, most notably a “factually weak” basis for opening investigations.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rand Paul: In His Own Words

Rand Paul in His Own Extreme Words: "I don't think anybody's gonna be missing a hill or two here and there."

First Video Shows Senate Candidate Rand Paul’s Over-the Top Views

WASHINGTON, DC- Today the Sierra Club released a video it will be sending to members highlighting one of 2010’s most extreme political candidates, Rand Paul and urging Americans who voted for change in 2008 to vote again this November.

The video can be viewed at http://www.sierraclub.org/randpaul

"Tea Party Candidates like Rand Paul, Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Ken Buck, and Pat Toomey are trying to make Americans scared of even what little progress our country has made on clean energy, and global warming," said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club's Political Director. "We are working to get the word out that we can't let these extremists run our government."

The campaign’s first video features clips from Senate candidate Rand Paul from Kentucky in which he supports destructive coal mining, mocks environment protection, dismisses global warming, and more. The video highlights some of his most outrageous quips, including his classic, "I don’t think anybody will be missing a hill or two here and there" dismissal of the destructive and controversial practice of exploding mountaintops for coal mining.

"We are telling our members and the public about the stark choices this election," said Duvall. "Do candidates support rebuilding America through a clean energy economy, or are they knee-jerk global warming deniers? Do they believe in responsible energy choices or the drill, baby, drill chant that led to the BP Disaster? Do they support giving Big Oil and corporations another bailout, or do they want to hold corporations accountable for the pollution they create?"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Michael Moore: Liberals & the 'New York Times' are to blame for the Iraq War

Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren't Possible Unless Good People Back Them

By Michael Moore

I know we've been "free" of the Iraq War for two weeks now and our minds have turned to the new football season and Fashion Week in New York. And how exciting that the new fall TV season is just days away!

But before we get too far away from something we would all just like to forget, will you please allow me to just say something plain and blunt and necessary:

We invaded Iraq because most Americans -- including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry -- wanted to.

Of course the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the "precision" bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century.

But how did they get away with it, considering they'd lost the presidential election by 543,895 votes? They also knew that the majority of the country probably wouldn't back them in such a war (a Newsweek poll in October 2002 showed 61% thought it was "very important" for Bush to get formal approval from the United Nations for war -- but that never happened). So how did they pull it off?

Dave Eggers tells the story of one man's ordeal in Hurricane Katrina

Zeitoun, by novelist Dave Eggers, is the story of one man’s ordeal in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

By Leela Yellesetty

DAVE EGGERS' Zeitoun has been accumulating readers and awards for over a year now, but if you haven't picked it up yet, there could be no better time.

As we mark five years since the government's horrendous mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, and witness the disturbing Islamophobia accompanying the ninth anniversary of the "war on terror," Zeitoun offers an illuminating microcosm of both.
Zeitoun is the true story of how one immigrant's "American Dream" turned into a living nightmare. In 2005, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, known to most by his last name, ran a successful painting and contracting business with his wife Kathy in New Orleans, where they lived with their four children.

In the first part of the book we get to know and love the Zeitoun family. As Eggers said in an interview:

I was seeking to just tell a story about an all-American family that happens to be a Muslim. I wanted to sort of "de-exoticize" the idea of the Muslim-American family--to allow readers to learn about Kathy's conversion [to Islam] and see the functioning of a family that is exactly like their own. So a Christian reader can say, "Pretty much everything about that family is exactly like mine except I go to church and they go to a mosque."
I think storytelling has the power to sort of walk you through it, and put yourself in the shoes of another person...I think it's kind of startling that even though after 9/11 there has been this constant examination of Islam in the American media--"Who are Muslims? What do they want?"--and yet I think there is still an incredible amount of ignorance and misunderstanding.

It is this intimate connection to the family the author so effortlessly establishes that makes what happens to them all the more unbearable.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tar Sands soon coming to the U.S.

From itsgettinghotinhere.org:

By Juliana Williams

Today, the Utah Governor’s Energy Initiative Task Force will hold a public hearing to gather input on Utah’s 10-year energy plan. This hearing comes one day after the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM) gave final approval for a tar sands mine in Eastern Utah, the first tar sands mine in the country.

“Approving tar sands one day, then asking for public input on the state’s energy future the next is either dishonest or dysfunctional,” said Ashley Anderson, coordinator for Peaceful Uprising, a US climate action organization based in Utah.

The PR Springs mine, to be operated by Canadian-based Earth Energy Resources, would occupy 213 acres in Grand and Uintah Counties in Eastern Utah. The site is within the Colorado River watershed, which supports 30 million people across the region. Earth Energy Resources expects to produce 2,000 barrels of crude bitumen per day, 350 days per year for 7 years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sen. Baucus Calls for Hasty Approval of Dangerous Oil Pipeline

Proposed Tar Sands Pipeline Threatens Water, Air, Farmland, Health

This week, Montana Senator Max Baucus asked the U.S. State Department to speed a decision on whether or not to approve a massive new pipeline designed to carry the world's dirtiest oil from Canada into the United States.

The Keystone XL pipeline would crisscross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, putting drinking water at risk for thousands of Americans and threatening one of the most important sources of agricultural water in the United States. The U.S. State Department is currently considering whether or not to grant a permit for the pipeline, and has received tens of thousands of comments from Americans urging that it not be built.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tell the EPA to regulate Toxic Coal Ash Emissions

Sierra Club Launches New Facebook Tool, Ads, Video

Washington, DC: As the Environmental Protection Agency continues a series of hearings across the country on how to regulate toxic coal ash, the Sierra Club is launching new efforts to educate and engage citizens, many of whom are unaware that they may live near a toxic coal ash site.

The Sierra Club's new Facebook application, the Toxic Coal Ash Site Locator, seeks to remedy that problem, allowing you to find out how close you, your friends and family live to these toxic dumps.

Left over after coal is burned, coal ash contains a dangerous mix of arsenic, mercury, lead and other pollution, pollution known to cause cancer and other serious illnesses. Living near some coal ash sites can be more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Already hundreds of residents from 16 states have traveled to hearings held in Virginia, Colorado, and Texas to speak out against this toxic threat. College students, tribal members, faith leaders, physicians and moms have been among those to voice their support for strong protections from dangerous coal ash.

Buses and carpools of concerned citizens from other parts of the country are expected at the EPA's remaining hearings. The Sierra Club will be arranging flights over massive coal ash dumps, holding rallies and even a human reenactment of the tragic coal ash disaster in Tennessee that turned the nation's attention to the problem of coal ash.

Print ads highlighting the cost of inaction on our children's future will run in several of the hearing cities including the Denver, Dallas, Charlotte and Pittsburgh. The print ads are part of an ongoing advertising campaign which also includes online ads on sites like Facebook, Red, Green and Blue, and Science Daily, online videos and a radio tour of the affected states.

Remaining hearings include:
- Charlotte, NC on September 14
- Chicago, IL on September 16
- Pittsburgh, PA on September 21
- Louisville, KY on September 28
- Knoxville, TN, week of October 25

For details visit www.sierraclub.org/coalash
Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x 102

Friday, September 10, 2010

Americans Call For Tighter Regulation of Hydraulic 'Fracking' in Oil and Gas Drilling

Overflow Crowds of Concerned Residents Attend EPA Public Meetings across the Country

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Thousands of Americans are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a comprehensive study of the environmental and health threats of natural gas fracturing. Pollution from this drilling technique – commonly known as fracking – has been the focus of three heavily attended public meetings in Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania this summer. The final meetings, next week in Binghamton, N.Y., drew so much interest that the EPA was initially forced to reschedule them.

"Natural gas companies should welcome additional scrutiny and embrace regulation that will protect public health and the environment," said Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton. "Indeed some of them have already called for greater disclosure. EPA’s proposed scope of study is a good first step but it can and should go much further. This hydraulic fracturing study must be fully funded to allow an in-depth analysis of the data. We also need changes in federal and state regulations requiring this industry to protect our air, water, and communities."