Mountain Sun

Mountain Sun

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Hopeful Note

If there's a hopeful note to be heard following the 2016 election, it may be in the upsurge of popular activism and protest this year, the first of Trump's term.  Singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson has just published a new video capturing the despair, but more importantly the hope being generated through mass popular activism. This resonates with my own experience with actions and marches--they almost always leave me upbeat and hopeful. In a way, success or failure of these actions doesn't matter nearly as much as the pursuit itself.

I was lucky to get a couple of my images selected for the project--hope you enjoy it.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christopher Hitchens and the Kings County Landfill

"It is only those who hope to transform human beings who end up by burning them, like the waste product of a failed experiment."
                              --C. Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian, 2001
 On November 9, about a month ago, Christopher Hitchens' elegant statement about burning bodies and failed experiments was revealed to be not just figuratively powerful, but literally true. That was the day we learned that the nation's main military mortuary at Dover AFB had been incinerating dead soldiers (or parts of them) from Iraq and Afghanistan and tossing the remains into a Virginia dump.  The King George County Landfill, specifically.

Initially the numbers involved were not known.  But the process by which this happened was pried from the current administration by the Washington Post, following a decade of enforced secrecy on mortuary processes imposed by Bush the First and maintained through Bush II:
The Air Force said it first cremated the remains and then included those ashes in larger loads of mortuary medical waste that were burned in an incinerator and taken to a landfill. Incinerating medical waste is a common disposal practice but including cremated human ashes is not, according to funeral home directors, regulators and waste haulers.
Air Force officials said they do not know when the landfill disposals began. They said their first record of it is Feb. 23, 2004. The mortuary database became operational in late 2003.

The revelation of the process had predictable impact:

 Gari-Lynn Smith, portions of whose husband’s remains were disposed of in the landfill after his 2006 death in Iraq, said she was “appalled and disgusted” by the way the Air Force had acted. She learned of the landfill disposal earlier this spring in a letter from a senior official at the Dover mortuary.
“My only peace of mind in losing my husband was that he was taken to Dover and that he was handled with dignity, love, respect and honor,” Smith said. “That was completely shattered for me when I was told that he was thrown in the trash.”  
After four years of letters, phone calls and records requests, she received a letter from the mortuary in April stating that the military cremated and incinerated those partial remains and disposed of them in the King George landfill.
I hope this information brings some comfort to you during your time of loss,” read the letter, signed by Dean.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Karl Rove's Spectacular Lies

Photo credit: Rove Republican Racket
OK, so Turd Blossom is back and he's attacked Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, on the grounds that she is too close to Wall Street.  It's the sort of jaw-dropping, laugh-out-loud lie that has all the vista and splendor of the Grand Canyon.

I mean really.  Look at that damned lie.  It's magnificent.

Immediately, Rortybomb, Baseline Scenario, The Nation, and The American Prospect have all jumped in and assailed Rove.  Here is Mike Konczal at Rortybomb, for example:
To me, the most amusing thing about Karl Rove’s attack ad on Elizabeth Warren is that it shows how adaptable conservative attacks on liberals are.  Because I’m old enough to remember the attempts, mostly by conservatives but by several others, in early 2009 to say that Warren’s Congressional Oversight Panel was way too hard on the banks.
Adaptable?  I don't think so.  This is simply Rove's signature move, and there is nothing adaptable (if adaptable means flexible or changeable) about it.  Remember how he defeated John Kerry?  He took Kerry's strongest feature--his decorated war record in Viet Nam--and turned it upside down.  Remember Max Cleland, former Senator and author of the book "Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove"?  Cleland was turned from a war hero senator to a terrorist-loving former-senator in a matter of months.  This is exactly what Rove is now doing to Warren--attack where they're strongest.  

Unfortunately, in addition to the sheer spectacular grandeur of Rove's Big Lies, they are known to work on American voters.  And the fact that he's still launching these with (so far) no penalty whatsoever suggests that Democrats and the professional left have yet to find an effective response.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Disturbing Account of DHS Presence at Occupy Los Angeles

There has been much interest and speculation regarding the role DHS and other federal agencies have had regarding law enforcement/surveillance activies surrounding the Occupy Movement.  See, for example, the ongoing discussion between  Naomi Wolf and Joshua Holland on this.  

Here is a recently-released account from a member of Occupy LA that--if verifiable, is highly relevant to the topic.  A link to the video was recently retweeted by Occupy Los Angeles (@occupyla).  I have provided a full verbatim transcript below the video.

[Ed. Note:  The video linked in this post has been removed at the YouTube source, presumably by its author.  I am leaving the transcript, which I produced myself, in place here.]

One problem with this account is that the OLA member never states why he felt the individuals who picked him up were DHS personnel.  His statement shows that it is obvious to him that they were DHS, but there is nothing in the account that reveals why he is so certain that this is the case.  

If I can get any further information or verification on this, I'll update.

Full transcript begins here:

Yesterday November 25, 2011, I was at the Occupy LA site and me and several people had spotted some Department of Homeland Security agents and, basically what I did was, I started letting people know who they were.
 I started looking at [undecipherable}, basically trying to figure out who they are,  profiling them, probing them.  I walked up to a gentleman, I asked him some questions, because a few days ago he came up to me and asked me some questions.