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Archives from May 2009
“If I Wasn’t Grace Slick, I’d Be Dead”
When I told Grace Slick that Paul Kantner, her former band mate and father of her daughter, China, is getting ready to go out on tour with a group billed as The Jefferson Starship, and that tickets are currently on sale at venues across the country, who knew? Well, appare...
Eros and Susan Boyle; Fakery and Simon Cowell
"We may be ugly, but we’ve got the music." –Leonard Cohen, "Chelsea Hotel" What is most astonishing about the Susan Boyle phenomenon is not that a frumpy middle-aged woman stands poised to win I...
Reeling Republicans
In 2004, a pall of gloom fell over American liberalism. George W. Bush was re-elected the United States’ President against all odds: a quagmire in Iraq and a faltering economy were not sufficient to bury the Republican Party. In fact, the opposite, as conservat...
The Destabilization of Pakistan
So far the principle result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the events of 9-11 has been the destabilization of Pakistan. That breakdown is peaking with the events in what AP calls the “Swat town” of Mingora—actually a city of 375,000 f...
Turtle Island
The question of how many environmentalists it takes to change a light bulb gained a brief piquancy as we shared a subway platform with David Suzuki yesterday here in Toronto. “We’re the students of Alpha 2,” we announced gnomically to a bemu...
The Mother of All Corruption Scandals
Iraq plans to arrest 1,000 officials for corruption after a scandal which has forced the resignation of the Trade Minister and is threatening the food supply of millions of Iraqis. Corruption at the Trade Ministry is an important issue in Iraq because the mini...
The Impossible Rehab of Colin Powell
Watching retired Gen. Colin Powell refer to the parable of the Good Samaritan during Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremonies on the Mall in Washington, it struck me that Powell was giving hypocrisy a bad name.Those familiar with the Good Samaritan story and also...
“If I Wasn’t Grace Slick, I’d Be Dead”
Part Two. The file has some of your high school records in it. The F.B.I. states that that to allow the band to continue to perform, could be quote, “Detrimental to the defense interests of the nation.” Yeah. After going through all o...
Mined Out in Zambia
Peter and Irene, both 30, are engineering graduates of Lusaka university and have been working since 2006 in Chingola, a small Copperbelt town in Zambia in southern Africa . The couple are employed by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), the biggest mining company in a countr...
Sotomayor’s Problem Isn’t That She’s Too Latina
OI don’t know at this point whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a good choice for Supreme Court Justice or a bad one. She certainly is a lousy judge for writers and other creative people, having ruled (and been overruled by an appellate court and then, whe...
Star Trek and the Continuing Mission of American Imperialism
It is set years in the future, but the new Star Trek movie is a sixties nostalgia film. I sat riveted to the screen and to the present moment with my husband and our daughter between us. At the same time, I was transported back to the original run of the series betwe...
The Mechanic’s Tale
In the late 1990s, an entrepreneurial mechanic with a wife and one child bought a house for $65,000 with a down payment of $1,500?and took a fixed-rate FHA mortgage. His wife, a beautician, got a job as a clerk at a discount store. In the midst of the speculative rea...
Big Trouble in Little Britain
Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so. –Gore Vidal Some kind of answer to Vidal’s proposition; extrapolated by way of ‘syllog...
Sin Nombre: Only Part of the Border Story
The Philadelphia Inquirer calls the film “[t]ough and beautiful,” the USA Today “a powerful and wrenching thriller,” giving it fours stars out of four. The Denver Post characterizes it as “vivid and haunting,” while The Washington ...
When Workers’ Rights Go Unenforced
“The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal.” —Anatole France Given the dramatic changes in the political landscap...
A Place Called Despair
At least 20 US soldiers have died in Iraq during the the month of May. By June 1, this number may be higher. According to Iraq Body Count: On May 1, seven Iraqi civilians were killed. On May 3, eight Iraqi civilians were killed. On May 4...
Straw Dogs
The controversy over Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination illustrates a fundamental problem with how mass media supposedly “inform” the American public about salient events.  To stir up interest (in themselves, mostly), media invite predi...
Drilling the Marcellus Shale Through the Halliburton Loophole
Of all the threats posed by oil and gas companies seeking to drill in the Marcellus Shale—a geologic formation that stretches from Ohio to New York and may contain the largest supply of natural gas in the United States—hydraulic fracturing has been cited ...
Dylan Kelehan Gets What He Needs
It’s amazing how much attention we can pay to ourselves nowadays. Between Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube the opportunities for self-indulgence are endless. This is why I was surprised to find a concise, intelligent documentary about the compromises and pitfalls...
On Evolution
This is the 200th year celebration of Charles Darwin’s birth.  There are new books by the dozens, there is a tremendous amount of new research into evolution and its mechanisms, and in many ways, the specifics of Darwin’s ideas have been surpassed, s...
The Catastrophic Economics of Nuclear Power
In a devastating pair of financial reports that might be called "The Emperor Has No Pressure Vessel," the New York Times has blazed new light on the catastrophic economics of atomic power. The two Business Section specials cover the fiasco of new Fr...
Three Luddites Talking …
Part two. SM:  I got started in the anti-technology movement in the 1970s because I longed for a congenial world.  I thought that others — maybe even a majority — might hold similar ideas of what a congenial world would be; and that the ...
Great Egrets Return
Flying low, beneath an invisible sun the Great Egrets return. Not white on white but gray on gray and their long legs laid behind them There is no wind. They make no sound. An adornment of plumage trailing is bride price and dowry in which the beating heart of migrat...
Sotomayor and the Last of the WASPs
If Judge Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed, the US Supreme Court will consist of six Catholics, two Jews and precisely one white Anglo-Saxon Protestant in the form of Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 88 years old and boasts of two important WASP insignia: inherited wealt...
Spies, Lies and Mr. Lebanon’s Demise
“There are agents, like Mahmoud Rafea, who confessed to have delivered bags with explosives. Other collaborators have confessed to have carried out field reconnaissance missions. Others have facilitated the entrance and exit of Israelis after accomp...