Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wyoming, tribes suffering ozone exposure

Air pollution levels in Sublette County, Wyoming are breaking new records and causing illnesses never before seen in a state previously known for pristine air quality:

Ozone levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limit on 13 days in February and March. Preliminary data show ozone levels topped the worst readings in many large U.S. cities all last year. The Upper Green River Basin is one of the nation's top gas-producing areas. Gas producers say they've taken steps to reduce the air pollution that causes wintertime ozone under conditions that include bright sunshine and snow on the ground.
From American Public Media's Marketplace:

A study out this week says the carbon footprint of clean-burning natural gas is bigger than coal's because extracting gas releases methane.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Castle Of Frankenstein (1962 - 75)

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 15 (1970) Cover Art by Frank Brunner

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 21 (1974) Cover Art by Marcus Boas

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 19 (1972) Cover Art by Maelo Cintron

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 25 (1975) Cover Art by Marcus Boas

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 20 (1973) Cover Art by Maelo Cintron

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 5 Cover (1964)Art by Larry Ivie

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 1 (1962) Cover Art by Larry Ivie

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 2 (1962) Cover by Robert Adragna

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 2 (1962) interior illustration by Robert Adragna

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 17 (1971)Cover Art by Frank Brunner

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 4 (1964) Cover Art by Lee Wanagiel

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 16 (1971) Cover Art by Ken Kelly

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 24 (1974) Cover Art by Tom Maher

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 18 (1972) Cover Art by Ken Kelly

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 22 (1974) Cover Art by Bhob Stewart

Castle Of Frankenstein, Issue 22 (1974) Back

Castle Of Frankenstein, Monster Annual (1967)Cover Art by Russ Jones

Information related to the magazine can be found here.

Americans Moving Toward Supporting Palestinian Statehood Declaration

April 12, 2011 1:52 pm ET 

By MJ Rosenberg

It becomes clearer every day that Binyamin Netanyahu's government is terrified by the prospect that the Palestinians are planning to unilaterally declare a state later this year. In fact, it is safe to say that no other proposed Palestinian action has ever shaken up any Israeli government the way that the idea of a unilateral declaration has.

According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu is so frightened at the prospect of a Palestinian declaration that he is considering withdrawing Israeli forces (not settlers, of course) from the West Bank as an inducement to prevent the Palestinians from acting:

Netanyahu is weighing a withdrawal of Israel Defence Forces troops from the West Bank and a series of other measures to block the "diplomatic tsunami" that may follow international recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Netanyahu's fear is well-placed. 

Here is Haaretz newspaper columnist Ari Shavit describing what would follow a unilateral Palestinian declaration:

At that moment, every Israeli apartment in Jerusalem's French Hill neighbourhood will become illegal. Every military base in the West Bank will be contravening the sovereignty of an independent UN member state. The Palestinians will not be obligated to accept demilitarisation and peace and to recognise the occupation.

That is true. But it is also true that an internationally recognised Palestinian state, with a flag flying at the United Nations, would level the playing field for negotiations.

Ever since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations began in 1993, they have been fundamentally unbalanced. On one side is the most powerful military force in the Middle East, backed to the hilt by the United States. On the other is a stateless people who control no territory, have no military, and are barely surviving economically.

That would change once a Palestinian state is declared. Of course, that new state would be weak and vulnerable, but it would have international law on its side, just as Israel does within the pre-1967 borders.

Diplomatically, the two sides would finally be equal; negotiations between the two sides would be government-to-government, not between a powerful state and a supplicant.

Negotiations would have to take place simply because a Palestinian declaration does not, in and of itself, resolve such issues as mutual security, refugees, Jerusalem, and the rest. It simply ensures that such negotiations would, at long last, be serious.

Of course, a September declaration is no done deal. The Palestinians will first need to achieve unity so that the Palestinian state includes both the West Bank and Gaza.

Although the International Monetary Fund now says that the West Bank alone already could constitute a viable Palestinian state, that is true only economically and not politically. A viable Palestinian state must include Gaza and be contiguous.

Palestinian unity will be difficult to achieve for many reasons, including the deep personal animosity between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian factions.

An important first step toward unity would be for Hamas to adhere to a full cease-fire with Israel starting now (the last thing the Palestinian Authority wants is to declare a state that is at war with Israel).

In fact, during the past week Hamas has been sending feelers to Israel about ending the violence between the two sides, which Israel has ignored.

It is not that Israel wants the strikes and counter-strikes to continue, it is that Netanyahu and company understand that a permanent cease-fire will foster the Palestinian unity necessary for a declaration of statehood.

In fact, it is beginning to appear that preventing a unilateral declaration is Israel's primary diplomatic goal, one that informs all its policies relating to Palestinians. (For their part, Palestinians view Israel's nervousness about the prospect of a declaration as confirmation that it is precisely the right strategy to achieve a state and peace with Israel.)

Of course, the Obama administration is likely to do everything it can to thwart the Palestinians' plans. AIPAC is already working on congressional letters calling on Obama to stop the declaration and, no doubt, an overwhelming majority of the House and Senate will sign on. (The 2012 election is looming and candidates and incumbents are highly focused on fundraising.)

The good news is that the United States cannot use its veto to prevent Palestinian recognition by the United Nations. For Palestine, as for Israel in 1947, it is the General Assembly that confers statehood and not the Security Council. The administration would have to use the other tools in its kit to thwart the declaration; it has no veto.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the administration will recognise that a unilateral declaration of statehood could be the one device that would achieve its oft-stated goal in the Middle East: "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security".

American support for Palestinian state

The American people seem to be getting it. According to a poll released on Monday by the right-wing Israel Project, only 51 per cent of Americans oppose a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. Fifty four per cent favour a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations.

For those familiar with polling on matters relating to Israelis and Palestinians, the results are startling. The percentage of support for the Israeli position is usually in the high 70s, while support for the Palestinians is in the teens. Suddenly there is a major shift, and this in a poll sponsored by an organisation that clearly did not want to see findings like these.
Perhaps the Obama administration will come around too.

The United States should support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, followed by serious negotiations. The alternative has been tried over and over again and it always fails.

Why not try something that may actually achieve peace and security for two peoples who, like everyone else, are entitled to it?

It is time for President Obama to deliver on the promise he made in Cairo to use his authority not to defend the deadly status quo but to end it.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.

This article was first published by Foreign Policy Matters.

"Palestine is the heart of Arab countries" - PalestineFreeVoice

Nuclear Fall-Out - A Window Into The Rabbit-Hole

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 08:55

By Allen L Jasson


"Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it! -Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, upon his return

Here on the sub-tropical, eastern coast of Australia, as the Japanese Nuclear Disaster unfolds, the ambience of quiet, solemn calm and blissful ignorance all around me is somehow, paradoxically, a cause for inversely proportional personal distress.

Thanks to Adam Curtis and his BBC documentary The Century of the Self (See here ) we can at least have the luxury of some understanding of how it came to be that we have a world run by psychopathic criminals leading a collectively insane species on a wild rampage to self-destruction. The documentary is based on Stuart Ewen’s book PR! A Social History of Spin, which focuses on the family of Sigmund Freud and how they have influenced the way corporations and governments have increasingly, manipulated the masses throughout the 20th century – to the present madness.

So of course, the tranquillity I am witnessing here in Australia derives from the way the Nuclear Disaster is subtly presented as a kind of natural extension of the earth quake and tsunami; a terrible, unfortunate but inescapable fact of life. Or perhaps it’s just that there is too much distraction in the excitement and drama currently unfolding as the psychopaths unleash another round of shock and awe violence to “liberate” Libya. There is some encouragement to be found in the fact that 2,000 Australians recently attended a meeting in Sydney town hall to discuss the Australian government’s shameful dereliction of its responsibility to protect Australian citizens viciously pursued and ill-treated by the US government, our “allay”. However, the other 4.5 million people of Sydney were at home munching their McDonalds and soaking up American “entertainment” from their television sets.

Even the news that the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has increased its assessment of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to level 7, the most serious level, rating it as a "Major Accident" with the final radiation output expected to exceed that of Chernobyl, has come as a kind of anti-climax. After all, “who is this NISA anyway?” and “it’s like the Richter Scale, it’s only a number!”.

But there is some quite significant concern, I have to acknowledge, about its impact on volleyball, reminding me of the occasion when the “Sunrise” programme disparaged me for disturbing their tranquillity and giving offence to the many Australians comfortably ensconced at the Tennis in Kooyong enjoying their favourite pastime (spectator sports) by public reference to the (then) 900,000 deaths caused by the World’s #1 Terrorist in Iraq. So very un-Australian!

Nevertheless, for anyone willing to continue thinking about the problem, the unfolding Japanese Nuclear Disaster provides many insights into how far the rabbit-hole goes.

Relax, All is Well

In the 1970s, when Australia “anguished” briefly over it’s entry into the nuclear industry as a supplier of uranium an Australian Prime Minister asserted “we have the technology to deal with nuclear waste”. However, a professor of nuclear physics at Australian National University mockingly responded with a request for pointers to the scientific literature, as he was not aware of it. It was a candid insight to how the logic is lost between the conception and the implementation; but it changed nothing. Another of Australia’s visionary leaders attracted derision in recent years by offering Australia as a nuclear waste dump and self-righteously defending greed as the sole motivation for doing so; an insight to how the morality is lost.

Attuning to the nuclear energy debate over the years I have often heard critics of the industry mocked and scoffed at by “experts” who, with brash confidence and a great deal of hyperbole asserted the wondrous marvels of stringent, high-tech, multi-level safety protections being applied by the nuclear industry.  This arrogant self-assuredness is echoed in a recent article titled Why I Am Not Worried About Japan’s Nuclear Reactors by Dr Josef Oehmen.

The article is written with a tone of authority although the author’s qualifications are only vaguely described as “a research scientist at MIT, in Boston. He is a PhD Scientist, whose father has extensive experience in Germany’s nuclear industry.”. After a first reading I was incredulous at the naivety with which the ineptitude of the industry technologists was exposed and needed a second reading.

The author describes a two-level heat generation by the reactor, the greater of which is generated in normal operation of the reactor and transformed to power supply of the grid. It ceases when the reactor automatically shuts down in the event of a disaster such as earthquake, leaving only the first layer; a residual 7% that continues after the reactor shuts down and which must be dissipated to avoid damage to the reactor and possible meltdown. The power supplies to systems that provide this cooling in an emergency shut-down are described in three levels of reserve power, the first being an external power supply (since the reactor’s own power generation is unavailable).

Should this fail, there are back-up generators and should these fail there is a battery power supply – an astonishingly meagre 8 hours of reserve power!! Of course, all three levels failed.

Reading this, I was incredulous not only at the obvious fragility of these provisions (especially after all the grandiose claims of the industry), but also at the failure of the designers to build a fail-safe around features inherent in the fail situation. By this, I mean the kind of measures applied for example, in the safety provisions in an elevator. Here, if operational and safety components fail and the lift capsule is in free-fall a roller on the outside of the capsule, in contact with the lift shaft, generates sufficient centrifugal force to operate a safety brake (i.e. the kinetic energy of free-fall is both the trigger and the energy source of the safety feature).

Here we have a need for a safety feature, the function of which is to dissipate heat energy, the residual 7% that persists after shutdown. I would have thought it self-evident that this circumstance should dictate a safety system, which must draw off at least 7% of the energy generated by the reactor as part of normal operation, is based on separate, independent mechanism and should use this energy to do three things:

  1. Generate electricity into the grid.
    This being the target of the whole of its output during normal operation but also being optionally able to supply the grid emergency power when the reactor is shut down or be diverted from the grid altogether if the grid is unsafe.
  2. Supply electricity to power its own primary operation pumps.
    This being optional and independent of A (above)
  3. Drive its own secondary fail-safe pumping systems by direct, mechanical means.
    This, in the event of failure of its own electric pumping systems.
    (i.e. turbines driven by steam generated by the heat of the reactor).
This mechanism naturally entails a water reservoir and cooling tower sufficient to dissipate, if necessary all of at least 7% of the energy generated by the reactor that continues after the reactor shuts down.

Naturally, I acknowledge that I am neither a rocket scientist nor a nuclear energy technician and that attempting to prescribe at this level of detail may be naïve but my description is intended only to sketch the possibilities and illustrate the reasoning. Nevertheless, it does make clear that the sound principle of basing safety measures on the intrinsic features of the situation is both possible and necessary; however, omitted.

Given that the “experts” who have for so long strutted about with a cocky air of certainty are now so obviously clutching at measures so gross and desperate as dousing the heat with seawater from helicopters and fire hoses and with such clumsy consequences as dispersing radioactive material into the atmosphere for miles around, even into jet-streams that cross the pacific and into the ocean itself, it becomes abundantly clear that the industry is not competent to conduct itself safely, that all is not well and there is absolutely no cause to relax (Who needs Terrorists?).

But is this any surprise?

I was recently reminded that when the first nuclear explosion was tested scientists were uncertain and believed there was a risk the reaction would just keep going (i.e. turning the earth into another Sun – a nuclear inferno) – and the government knew this was so. I first heard of this in my high school years, back in the days when we saluted the flag each morning and sang “God Save the Queen”. It was presented (and obviously included in the curriculum for this purpose) as testimony to the courage and bravery of the men and the risks they had to take to defeat the “evil Japanese”.

How the world has changed!

This sentiment was echoed when David Suzuki posed a dilemma for Australian industrialists in a televised discussion – a highly profitable enterprise has a very small but real risk of causing a major environmental catastrophe affecting all life on earth. His industrialists were not only unanimous, they received significant support from the audience.

Yet that insanity is hardly different, even perhaps a shade less culpable, than the one of dispersing Depleted Uranium among the dust of the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan as a high molecular weight ballistic material, or giving open license to the vindictive government of racist war criminals of Israel to continue their genocide in Palestine.

Beyond The Reality of Meltdown

Here, amid the tranquillity of Australian political sedation, where there is still a mild flutter of elation after the recent Oprah visit and the only thing truly mourned is the loss of “The Ashes”, it may be fair to say that the most significant newsworthy event and cause for national exultation is the reception our Prime Minister has received in the US Congress. However, for those of us still reflecting on the reality it is probably most appropriate that our Iron Lady should stand out in such florid distinction – being thrice steeped in blood as a major supplier to the world of Coal, Uranium and Troops serving principally as Moral Endorsement for the ongoing wars for OIL.

If Australians are giving any thought at all to such matters then it must seem that we are between a rock, a very dangerous place and a very immoral place with seemingly no way out. Faced with the risks of Climate Change, erasing life from the earth in a Nuclear Armageddon and the daily slaughter of innocents by barbaric violence it must seem that there are no free lunches in the world of energy. Thank God for a reassuring media and the universal approval of being always cheerful, positive and optimistic.

In Fantasy Land all the talk is of alternative energy sources. There will be Wind Farms that will one day disfigure every landscape, Tide Barriers that will one day block every estuary and bay essential to ocean ecology and vast acreages of solar collectors. Nowhere is it permitted to assert that all of these Alternative energy sources are in fact Additional energy sources and our insatiable demand will always be for more. Nowhere is it permitted to consider the unthinkable – that perhaps we need to Reduce our energy consumption.

The Rabbit-Hole

When we come to consider why it is that we have such outrageous and insatiable energy demands we embark, Alice-like, on the journey down into the rabbit-hole.
Our cities are shockingly inefficient.

In Australia the situation is worse than in many other places. A reckless suburban sprawl has decimated wildlife, destroyed forests, spoiled coasts and consumed most of the richest agricultural land that forms a small percentage of the continent’s total land area. Almost every house is freestanding on a separate, fenced block of land. A driveway serves each house; every driveway is served by a street, every street by a main road, every main road by a highway and every highway by a freeway. Space utilisation is massively expanded to accommodate the motorcar and the expanded utilisation of space, in turn, by increasing distance between centres, forces dependence on the motorcar – a circle as stupid as it is vicious.

This scheme of things is rigidly enforced by a system of local planning and development approvals that is often corrupt and tied to a process of wealth generation for those who dominate it. Farmers who have neither the financial resources nor the political clout to achieve the re-zoning of the land sell large farms to developers and speculators who do. Developers design and implement road, sewage and utility systems to maximise profit from the sale of ever-smaller land parcels. The nurtured and still sacred Australian dream of home ownership with the space and privacy of a back yard has dwindled to the absurdity of a postage-stamp sized patch of garden behind a house that almost touches the eaves of the neighbours either side while an irrational and unusable front garden remains mandatory as a further expansion of wasteful space utilisation.

“Experts” prohibit discussion of alternatives at the “official” level; the town planners, councillors and developers who are utterly committed to preserving the status quo. All discussion at the informal, public level terminates at the point of assertion that no-one is willing to give up their cherished cars and the dream of privacy and independence in having their own back yard, even though the reality has been degraded to the point of a ludicrous absurdity and the writing is on the wall for car-lovers. When petrol is prohibitively expensive these suburban developments will be unbearable places to live; veritable open prisons, which perhaps they already are.

We have only ourselves to blame.

Article submitted to PalestineFreeVoice  by Media with Conscience ( MWC )
"Palestine is the heart of Arab countries" - PalestineFreeVoice

Montana's governor wields the big one

h/t Duffer. Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, upheld the will of the People and vetoed a repeal of Montana's medical marijuana law:

Schweitzer vetoed the bill Wednesday along with several others he called "frivolous, unconstitutional or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana."
Emilie Ritter in Helena is a Montana Public Radio producer:
In a shift from the Bush administration’s position on the subject, the administration of President Barack Obama said in October 2009 it would no longer prosecute patients who use medical marijuana, or dispensaries that distribute it, in states where marijuana has been approved for such purposes.
Schweitzer for US House!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Avigdor Lieberman to be indicted

Tuesday, 12 April 2011 08:20
By Stephen Lendman
It explained he represents the worst of Israel's lunatic fringe, sort of a combination Dick Cheney/John McCain/Joe Lieberman, too extremist to be entrusted with power, but he's got it.

Robert Fisk once said he "out-Sharons even Ariel Sharon. (He's) talked of drowning Palestinians in the Dead Sea or executing Israeli Palestinians who talked to Hamas. (His) incendiary language (promotes) executions..drownings..hell and loyalty oaths,"perfect for the role he assumed, allied with Israel's most extremist ever Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also out-Sharons Sharon, no easy feat by any means.

Israel under Netanyahu/Lieberman institutionalized racism in its worst form - potential expulsion or extermination. Gideon Levy called him a "nightmare (who's) here and now. (Extremist Rabbi Meir) Kahane is alive and kicking - is he ever - in the person of his thuggish successor."

He promotes "hatred for Arabs, hatred of democracy and the rule of law, and the stink of nationalism, racism and bloodthirstiness. (He's) the voice of the mob, and the mob craves hatred, vengeance and bloodshed."

He's a malignancy on the body politic, a "cancerous growth (throughout) society, (a dangerous, embarrassing) abomination," one step removed from being Prime Minister.

An unnamed Meretz party member once said "If you liked Mussolini, if you were missing Stalin, you'll love Lieberman."

Others call him offensive to basic ethics and morality, and a threat to the rule of law and democratic freedoms. In a word, he's bad news for Israel, Palestinians, the region, humanity, and Judaic values he defiles with impunity.

Deploring peace, he says those for it "should prepare for war and be strong." He also believes "tensions within the Muslim world are 95 to 98 percent of all the problems of the Middle East, (the) Israeli-Palestinian conflict account(ing) for two percent."

In 2006, malfeasance investigations began. On August 2, 2009, police gave prosecutors evidence of fraud, accepting a bribe, money laundering, embezzlement, and obstruction of justice, recommending he be indicted.

Others agree he's corrupt. On May 24, 2010, Israeli police also recommended charging him with Breach of Trust for receiving classified information about his criminal investigation.

Earlier, on September 24, 2001, in Jerusalem District Court, he admitted attacking a 12-year old boy in December 1999 in the Nokdim settlement who'd hit his son. Charged with assaulting and threatening him, he was convicted, but copped a plea for a fine to avoid harsher punishment.

Several times, he said publicly he'll resign as Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Israeli Beiteinu leader, but only after a hearing if he agrees to one.

On April 11, Jerusalem Post writer Ron Friedman headlined, "Lieberman indictment expected by end of week," saying:

"Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein was expected to" indict him for fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.

The same day, Haaretz writer Amir Oren headlined, "Liebeman to be served draft indictment for graft in next 24 hours," saying:

He'll be indicted on the above charges and "be granted (the) right to a hearing before" charges are filed. If he chooses one, he won't have to resign his posts. However, if he doesn't "to prevent exposing his line of indictment will be served against him which may bear serious consequences to his role" in government.

Since police investigations and intelligence division head Yoav Segalovich recommended indictment, his case continued for over 18 months. Segalovich wants him charged with bribery, fraud, money laundering, breach of trust, witness harassment, and obstruction of justice.

Police believe he got over ten million New Israeli Shekels (NIS) in bribes from Martin Schlaff, Michael Chernoy, and other businessmen. He then laundered the money through shell companies and fictitious overseas bank accounts.

Police also recommended he be accused of breach of trust, relating to Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Ze'ev Ben Aryeh, who showed him "secret documents from the investigation against" him.

In negotiations with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, bribery accusations may have been dropped, what's not known for sure until indictment specifics are announced. However, for money laundering alone, he can receive 10 years in prison, plus more if convicted on all charges. For one of Israel's worst, life without parole would be too lenient.

A previous article profiled him in-depth, accessed through the following link:

"Palestine is the heart of Arab countries" - PalestineFreeVoice

PS. Democracy Agenda: Parliamentary Reform - Look to Quebec

Forgot this one - "But this reminds me of a suggestion I've made before, that such matters, as well as appointment of Officers of Parliament, ie. all those questions that should be as non-partisan as possible, build on QC example and require 2/3 majority of House, including Official Opposition. The Official Opposition proviso would be my addition, remembering Dief, Mulroney, McKenna & Campbell landslides. Occasionally, government members represent more than 2/3 of legislatures. But there can always be an Official Opposition, if the Orders are written to recognise one, even absent official party status. First, which grouping has most MPs, and, if a McKenna wipe-out, then highest percentage of popular vote. So prorogation limits could be one of those rules that can only be changed with accord of 2/3 & Official Opposition. If parties incapable of agreement on what should clearly be non-partisan rules & appointments, then Govt can call an election, as always. One would expect the political price for incalcitrance in clearly non-partisan matters would discourage such behaviour." - Saturday, January 16, 2010

"3) The House amends the Orders of the House such that they cannot be further amended without 2/3 approval of the House & the approval of the Leader of the Official Opposition, pace Quebec precedents (search for "deux tiers" & then "chef de l'opposition) and in same spirit, Mulcair's Bill 190). NB. QC is not adequately respecting its constitutional requirement for legislative information on both languages. The online English version of the Orders is not up to date." - Friday, January 22, 2010

"What is sad is that I favour the elimination of the subsidy over time. In theory, it's the right thing to do. But the devil's in the details and such fundamental elements of the architecture of democracy need to be the subject of a wide agreement among the political actors. In Quebec, many of these kind of decisions have to be apporoved by 2/3 of the National Assembly or the members of its committees, as a way to ensure that such decisions have multipartisan approval. This should also be the case in Ottawa." - Thursday, November 27, 2008

"NB. I would favour 2/3 needed for amendments to standing orders. Even if Bloc swept QC, would still only be less than 25% of members, that is, for those weak at math, less than the 1/3 needed for a veto. So they would not have a veto. And there are the precedents from the National Assembly in QC. But we could with this for now, and change them if need be." - Monday, January 25, 2010

Monsters Of The Movies (1974 - 75)

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 7 (1975) Cover Art by Luis Domingquez

Monsters of the Movies Annual #1 (Marvel, 1975) Cover Art by Gray Morrow

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 1 (1974) Cover Art by Luis Domingquez

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 2 (1974) Cover Art by Bob Larkin

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 3 (1974) Cover Art by Bob Larkin

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 5 (1975) Cover Art by Bob Larkin

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 4 (1974) Cover Art by Bob Larkin

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 6 (1975) Cover Art by Luis Domingquez

Monsters Of The Movies, Issue 8 (1975) Cover Art by Bob Larkin

"Monsters of the Movies
Curtis Publishing
Editors: Roy Thomas, Jim Harmon
June 1974 - Aug. 1975

Curtis was the imprint that Marvel used for it's b/w magazines from 1971 to 1980. The name derived from Marvel's distributor Curtis Circulation. Covering classic and contemporary horror movies, Monsters of the Movies included interviews, articles and photo features. The mag also featured some excellent cover art from Marvel's stable of artists. The mag's staff was half west coast fans and half east coast Marvel bullpen members and tensions between the two groups are likely what brought about the demise of Monsters of the Movies, after nine issues. Super Annual Issue #1 is also identified as Vol. 1 No. 9." - quote source

Hiding from Shame, Addicted to Optimis


Monday, 11 April 2011 11:48

by Phil Rockstroh

The tyranny of our collective comfort zones
The technologies that inflicted upon the world the ongoing tragedies in both the Gulf of Mexico and Japan serve a dangerous addiction, an addiction to blind optimism, a habituation of mind that allows us to dwell within provisional comfort zones but renders vast spaces of the world into deathrealms.

After each catastrophe, there ensues a scramble to contain the damage leveled, as, concurrently, the apologist of the present system explain the anomalous nature of the event. Yet, this much should be obvious: Attempting to clean up the mess, after it occurs, as oppose to altering the way of life that incurs the damage, is analogous to an addict believing a few days in detox will serve as a solution to his addiction.

In the same way drug dealers are reliant on an addict's unwillingness to reflect on the carnage created in his life, as well as, the havoc reaped in the lives of those near him, engendered by his addiction, the small group of hyper-wealthy elites who benefit from the current system rely on collective cognitive dissidence (or, as it has been termed, the fear of fear itself) to dissuade the public at large from peering deeply into the pernicious situation.

One of an addict's biggest obstacles is his optimism i.e., he is convinced he can figure out somehow, someway to use his drug of choice in a less destructive way…and, by reflex, rebels against the deepening sorrow that he must change.

When large, powerful corporations create messes beyond their ability to control the damage wrought by their institutional cupidity, those in charge spare no expense aggressively confronting the problem…that is, of course, by means of public relations blitzes aimed at the general public, while tsunami-sized waves of campaign contributions flood the coffers of elected officials.

Apropos, a school of thought has developed in which framing the perception of a catastrophe supersedes all other considerations. An after the fact casuistry, possessed of crackpot optimism, similar to the following, is affected: Dated technologies were at fault in that particular mishap, but, not to worry, in the near future, new innovations will safeguard against similar calamities.

Sure thing: The future will be bathed in the benign light of new technological wonders; our dread will be washed away by sparkling clean coal. Magical technological innovations will soon render nuclear power so safe that the only danger to the general public will be posed by the risk of being smothered by its profoundly huggable properties.

Such are the free market capitalist's versions of End Time belief systems, a variation of the type of magical thinking that induces an individual to scan the empty sky, waiting for Jesus to float earthward and redeem the ceaseless folly perpetrated by mankind.

If we are willing to accept being lulled back into our comfort zones by such fantasies (that are as craven as they are preposterous) we might as well wait around for hazmat crews of leprechauns riding flying unicorns to arrive on the scene and clean up the messes that corporate capitalist greedheads inflict on our increasingly besieged planet.

In a manner similar to how the indefatigable salesmen of the consumer state sell optimism, but, in reality, deliver anomie, the propagandist of the neo--liberal paradigm promise peace and prosperity -- yet their shock troops, comprised of the political and media elite, instead level class warfare at home and perpetual war abroad that renders landscapes blighted and mindscapes shell shocked.

Among their most pernicious contrivances has been to convince the passengers seated aboard the runaway train of the corporate state that the blur of landscape out the train's windows is caused by their own poor vision and the impending crash will be due to their negative thoughts. The implicit message imparted is: "If only you would have thought more optimistically and worked harder, you'd have been one of life's winners and you would have been cruising above the impending carnage in your private jet. How sad for you, loser. And, by the way," they lie, "did you know socialists are manning the controls of the doomed train?"

While these practitioners of the art of weasel word wizardry insist they sell hope, in reality, they sell shame.

Growing up in the deep south, being raised, as we say there -- not brought up, but raised--like corn, hogs (or Lazarus or zombies from the grave) and socialized there, shame is a subject with which I'm well acquainted; it has taken me a lifetime (and it remains an ongoing process) to sort through and shake out the shame-based sensibility acquired there.

"If you think that I am dumb, There is another universe of stupidity that I can show you!" -- comment posted on my FaceBook page when a stubborn, inconsiderate fact would not yield to his rightist umbrage. 

What is the origin of such an outlandish, inadvertently self-satirizing statement?

Shame (its flip side being southern pride) arises, descends, converges and intermingles from manifold influences and multiple traumas: The bizarre-as-a-talking-serpent concept of sin passed down through Calvinistic belief systems; the legacy of degradations inflicted from being on the losing (and morally wrong) side of the Civil War; as well as, the degraded social milieu that circumscribes the lives and fates of large numbers of the permanent white underclass residing in the region.

Shame stains southern sensibilities like red clay on Sunday whites.

A large number of the blustering, willfully ignorant, southern men that I grew up around, whether they are khaki clad, country club smoothies or leather jacket-donning punk rock belligerents, were twisted inside out, kicked and stomped insensate by shaming authority figures before they shed their baby teeth. If one listens closely, one can detect the voice of shame-bearing demons hissing in their every utterance.

Yet the knowledge of the origin and source of their suffering remains buried deep within these men. To acknowledge shame (even to oneself) is considered a tacit admission of having something to be ashamed of i.e., "If you ain't got nothing to be ashamed of, you miserable peckerwood, then you wouldn't have no need to feel it." So, more or less, the line of thinking, rather train wreck of pathology, passing for thought, goes.

Accordingly, a strong impulse arises to explain it all away -- to claim the entire episode is a misunderstanding, or to dismiss their feelings as being trivial, or merely an indulgence of weak-willed, thin wrist losers, or impugn the motives of those who find grievance in the situation. This mode of mind has made multi-millionaires of the black magicians of rightwing talk shows, experts at performing emotional sleight of hand tricks that displace the shame of their listeners on a host of targets.

The cordiality of my fellow southerners is as facile as it is fragile. In southern culture, a great deal of psychic energy goes into distancing oneself from shame. Brooding beneath southern culture's superficial charm and gentility is the unspoken threat: "Be nice, now" that often translates to, "ya'll do as I say -- and there won't be any trouble."

More often than not, it is all made personal. Affronts are long remembered and resentments cultivated, and being confronted with information outside of one's realm of experience and field of reference is regarded as condescension.

Being made to feel "less than," by insults, real or imagined, can bring on a noxious cascade of shame and its concomitant host of desperate evasions and violent displacements to mitigate the feelings of unease engendered.

This is how it was explained to me on FaceBook recently by a feller named Frank who was addressing the issue of his loathing of liberal/socialist tyranny: "My facts are correct. The far left is nothing more than the new set of communists looking to take over. Just a call me a southern god fearing commie killer who cannot wait to put more notches on his weapon if the day ever arises again. I did enjoy killing them so. Your sheep I will never be. That's a fact. [R]eal Americans have better things to do that listen to your drivel. I'm out of here."

Just what kind of demented cultural circus produces these crack-brained battalions of killer clowns for Liberty? A culture with a brutal and rigidly enforced (but furiously denied) class structure that inflicts constant humiliation, yet, because of its nebulous structure, remains hidden from view.

Therein exists the allure and tenacity of neo-confederate hagiographic nonsense. Pride is held near, and clutched closely to oneself, because the corporate state has left the white underclass bereft of little else. It is painful to admit to being powerless and devoid of a means to change the trajectory of one's fate. One feels demoralized and diminished as a result.

Moreover, nationwide, under the present system, riddled with vast economic inequity, the negative repercussions for disobedience and failure are more than most people can endure, economically as well as psychologically. In a culture where success is deemed the end all/be all of all things, failure is devastating. In a corporate structure rigged to benefit a privileged few, and upward class mobility is merely a mind-fogging, cultural myth -- then failure is altogether likely.

Combine this, with the pernicious, puritanical/Calvinistic notion that failure is due to flawed character, and you have a troubled population…staggered by self-doubt, roiling in the unfocused rage of the humiliated, and primed and stoked for demagogic displacements.

While nice liberals retreat to their comfort zones, the forsaken laboring class constructs insulating walls of resentment. In the US, more and more, the criteria that forges personality and informs our condition is wrought by the calculus of enclosure: guarded gate communities; isolation in motor vehicles; the insular pixel fiefdoms of the internet; long work hours, often spent in cubicles, comprised of meaningless labor, and cut-off from both the norms of nature and resonate human contact.

These conditions create an existence as redolent of the aromas of existence as plastic covered cheese-food. In cultural terms, it is as if the people of the US have become mummified in plastic packaging wrap… have been rendered -- Body Bag People.

Of course, one yearns for the void to be filled. But with hearts and minds mortared closed, sealed off from the shock and humiliation experienced from the daily economic exploitation of a hidden, intractable class system – what penetrates these self-constructed prisons is loud, stupid, even fascistic in tone and theme e.g., violent video games; the empty spectacle of steroid-fueled professional sports hype; the exercise in Rock and Roll imperium that US militarism has become; fundamentalist sermons that long for the blood and thunder of Armageddon. In short, all the Sturm and Drang necessary to pierce protective walls, yet, at the same time, insure one remains ensconced in one's comfort zone.

Yet the sense of powerlessness is not mitigated for long, a nebulous sense of unease nettles. The world appears to bristle with threats…a low-grade hysteria is maintained and ceaseless war is both convenient and inevitable. Yet all the ramparts and fortifications of the national security state still do not create a sense of safety; instead, its siege mentality increases the interior void of the US populace, and, as a result, the vitality of life is barred entrance.

Blood sacrifices must be made to the god of the inner abyss...corpses are tossed into the void.

Over the top? Given the fact of the hundreds of thousands of corpses the US empire has lain under the native soil of nations from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia (and now North Africa) in only the past decade up to the present -- which, in combination with a government that practices and a general public that is indifferent to the use of torture -- the image limned above doesn't seem hyperbolic in the least.

At what point, does it become incumbent upon an individual to seize back his identity, to reject being defined by the exploitive, dehumanizing demands imposed (and small bribes proffered) by corporate/governmental elites?

The ongoing tragedy in Japan reveals how dangerous it can be to refuse or defer the challenge.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. 
He may be contacted at: Visit Phil's website

"Palestine is the heart of Arab countries" - PalestineFreeVoice

Towards the Conquest of Africa: The Pentagon's AFRICOM and the War against Libya

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Life Magazine (China) - 2011-04-01

Global Research Editor's Note:
The following is the English transcript of Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya's interview with Life Week, a major Chinese magazine based in Beijing.

Nazemroaya was interviewed by Xu Jingjing for Life Week's feature article about AFRICOM and Libya on April 1, 2011.

The 2008 article cited by Xu Jingjing is Nazemroaya's "The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa."

XU JINGJING: According to your analysis, what is AFRICOM’s role in the military intervention in Libya? What is its capability?

NAZEMROAYA: In reality, AFRICOM is still very much attached to EUCOM and dependent on EUCOM in many ways. It will be through this Libyan military intervention and the future military operations that will bud out of this war against Libya that AFRICOM will manage to further secure its independence from EUCOM. But I want to be clear. This does not mean that AFRICOM has no role in North Africa, because it has a role on the ground and I believe that it was actively involved in supporting the fighters now opposed to Colonel Qaddafi in Libya.

AFRICOM’s role is currently latent or concealed. It is EUCOM, the U.S. military operational command that is based in Europe which is currently running the operations against the Libyans. EUCOM also overlaps with NATO and both EUCOM and NATO have the same military commander, which is Admiral James Stavridis.

Several days ago, I listened to Admirial Stravridis speak to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and he made it clear that Operation Odyssey Dawn is being led from Europe and that the U.S. military will always be in control of the military campaign against Libya. He also contradicted NATO’s official spokesperson, by saying that there was a possibility that NATO troops could land in Libya for “stabilization operations.”

Returning to AFRICOM’s role, I said AFRICOM’s role is currently latent or concealed. As the fighting in Libya proceeds, the role of AFRICOM will become clearer, more important and more visible.

AFRICOM has been involved in the intelligence work in regards to Libya. When Admiral Stravridis was asked by the U.S. Senate Armed Services to Committee about the role of Al-Qaeda in the Benghazi-based Transitional Council, he automatically answered that the commander of AFRICOM, General Carter Ham, could answer this question. This indicates that in the intelligence front and possibly rebel training it is AFRICOM that has been responsible and much more involved on the ground in Libya.

XU JINGJING: AFRICOM has no assigned troops and no headquarters in Africa itself. What is its major mission and objection? How do you evaluate its decision to enhance U.S. influence in Africa?

NAZEMROAYA: As I mentioned earlier, AFRICOM is still attached to EUCOM. Its capabilities in some senses are nominal. It will be via the military campaign against Libya and the years of instability that will haunt Africa after this war that AFRICOM will solidify itself as a separate operational military command.

AFRICOM’s main objective is to secure the African continent for the U.S. and its allies. Its mission is to help secure a new colonial order in Africa that the U.S. and its allies are working to establish. In many ways this is what the military intervention in Libya is all about. The recent London Conference about Libya can even be compared to the Berlin Conference of 1884. The difference in 2011 is that the U.S. is at the table and more importantly leading the other participants in carving up Libya and Africa.

XU JINGJING: How is an African strategy important to the United States? How do you evaluate the influence of the U.S. in Africa now? What are the major barriers for the U.S. to expand its influence?

NAZEMROAYA: Of course the People’s Republic of China and its allies play a major role in answering this question. The U.S. and its allies are not only formulating a new strategy to maintain and deepen their control over Africa, but are also working to push China and its allies out of Africa. The U.S. and many E.U. powers have watched China nervously throughout the years. China has been making major inroads in Africa and China is a major strategic and economic rival and challenge to the U.S. and Western Europe in Africa.

It will also be China and its allies that will form one of the barriers to the U.S. strategy to control Africa. The people of Africa cannot be forgotten either, because they will play a very important role to resisting the U.S. and the E.U. in the long-term.

Even as we speak there are protests in sub-Saharan Africa, which not too many people in the Northern Hemisphere even discuss or know about. In Senegal and other parts of West Africa there have been protests. In Central Africa there have been protests. While the protests in the Arab World are watched and intensely reported upon, the protests of these people are mostly ignored.

XU JINGJING: What were the changes of U.S. Africa policy in the past 20 years? What were the major motivations for those changes?

NAZEMROAYA: There are many ways to examine U.S. foreign policy in Africa in the past two decades. We can see a period of intense rivalry with the old colonial powers, such as France, but what I think is important to note is that U.S. foreign policy in Africa has worked incrementally to push out China. Again, the motivations for this are the rise of China and its growing influence in Africa.

One cannot ignore China when speaking about Africa.  All this has resulted in an actually dimension of cooperation between Washington and France and the old colonial powers. They are working together to secure the African content within their collective sphere of influence and to muscle out China. At the end of the day, this is what AFRICOM was made for.

XU JINGJING: In one of your articles, you mention French plans on forming a Mediterranean Union. In your analysis, why is France always active in this region?

NAZEMROAYA: Paris has always been active in Africa, because of its proximity to the continent and its colonial history in Africa. It was the French that controlled the largest colonial empire in Africa. This is also why at one point France, with the support of Belgium and Germany, has been a major rival to the U.S. and Britain in Africa. This appears to have changed as Paris and its close partners have harmonized their interests with the U.S. and Britain.

I am glad you brought up the Mediterranean Union or the “Union of the Mediterranean” as it was renamed later as part of a public relations stunt. The article you mentioned was actually published by the North Africa Times several years ago, which I believe is Libyan owned. When the North Africa Times published the article, they removed the section where I quoted Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor of the Carter Administration, about the longstanding plans to form a Mediterranean Union and what it involved.

The Mediterranean Union is a political, economic, and security entity. It is also complemented at the military level by NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. The events leading to the formal declaration of the Mediterranean Union follow the same patterns that were used to expand the European Union and NATO in Eastern Europe.

The Union of the Mediterranean is meant to entrench the Mediterranean and the Arab World into the orbit of Washington and the European Union. It is also a bridgehead into Africa. The project calls for economic integration, massive privatization, and harmonization of policies. It is a colonial project and it serves to control and exploit the pools of labour in the Southern Mediterranean for the European Union. In the future, this can be used to upset the labour market in Asia and other regions. Also, it is through the Mediterranean Union that the immigration and refugee laws being used to manage the influx of people from North Africa were created. The E.U. was expecting these events and its members clearly spell this out when they made these laws.

XU JINGJING: What is your analysis on the U.S. and the military alliance’s actions in the first ten days of the war in Libya?

NAZEMROAYA: The actions in the first ten days of the war were never meant to protect civilians. The military operations have been offensive in nature and a means to weaken Libya as an independent state. I mentioned earlier that I listened to the testimony of Admiral Stavridis to the U.S. Armed Services Committee in Washington and I would like to refer to it again. At the hearing both Admiral Stavridis and Senator McCain both unwittingly stated that sanctions and no-fly zones do not accomplish anything. This is very profound. If these actions do not accomplish anything, then why did the U.S. push for them to be imposed on the Libyans? The answer is that the operation is not of a humanitarian nature, it is an act of aggression meant to open the door into Libya and Africa for a new colonial project.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes on on the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Article submitted by Global Research to PalestineFreeVoice 04/11/2011

"Palestine is the heart of Arab countries" - PalestineFreeVoice