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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where to find out about all those inconvenient truths

by Jamie Lutton

I was selling a stack of $1 nonfiction books to a young man a few days ago, and in the stack was a title by Al Gore. I asked him "What did you think of Al Gore selling his TV channel  Current TV  network to Al-Jazeera?".  He said 'what? Never heard about this".  I filled him in  - that Al Gore got $500 million for his struggling network, and got to keep $100 million of the price,
since he owned 20% of the network.     The young man was skeptical, and I said "no, no, go Google this! I am not making this up!"

Now, this sale was quite controversial, not so much because of so called 'terrorist' links of Al Jazeera, but because that channel is funded with oil money.  Al Gore, author of A Inconvenient Truth and other books about the environment and Climate Change, has taken the position for over a decade that using hydrocarbons - oil - is rapidly destroying the ecology of the Earth by heating the atmosphere. Many important scientists agree with him.

Al Gore was called upon to defend his decision to do this everywhere in the media,he even went on the Daily Show, and John Stewart was quite bewildered by his decision, and questioned him closely. ..
 
Since I like and support the use of nuclear power, (since it does not contribute to climate change, for a start) I got a big chuckle out of this transaction.  But many, many of my customers  had never heard about this sale, and I talked about it for at least a week. This really puzzled me.  
Did anyone catch in the news that the body of Hugo Chavez is to be embalmed and put on display under 'crystal dome?' 22 year ago, Christopher Buckley, the son of William F. Buckley wrote an essay for Forbes magazine claiming that the Russians were going to sell the embalmed body of Lenin because they were broke?

Opening bid: 15 million.

The hoax made the national news, and the Russians were inundated with offers from all over the world for his body. No one at the time noticed it was satire, as Americans, then as now, are pretty gullible.

The Russians called it an 'impudent lie' and threatened Buckley in various ways........ but Putin's regime nowadays are quietly talking about burying Lenin, and ending this bizarre worship of this dead leader.

Stalin was embalmed, and exhibited next to him, from 1954 to 1961, till he was quietly buried when news of his atrocities were better known.

But again, many of my customers had not even heard that the President of Venezuela was sick, let alone  dead, embalmed and deified.
    
I find that fewer and fewer people are following the news anymore. The habit of buying newspapers and following what the government, or important people are up to, seems to 'spike' during election years, and fade off after that.  Many other current events seem to come and go, and not be noticed.
       
Many of my customers did not hear that President Obama had used drone strikes to attack terrorists overseas, including American citizens, and had been doing so for many months.  Some had heard that the local cops had acquired drones for local surveillance, which caused great deal of local protest - but not how it tied into the national policies. 
     
And most have not heard that the president had not ruled out using drone 'strikes' against American terrorists on American soil.  There has even been a filibuster by Congressman Rand Paul where he questioned this policy. Eric Holder then announced the President would not be using drones in America, on American citizens - but that could easily change as there is no prohibition to doing so in the Constitution, etc.  Another president might have a different position.
        
So, a Ruby Ridge or Waco incident could be settled, in the near future, with a drone strike rather than military intervention on the ground.  Or a student protest like Kent State or Berkley's in the late 1960's...or Stonewall....
      
Another item in the news recently that was overlooked was that Kim Jong  Un had just explicitly declared war war on the US, and said he would send an intercontinental  nuclear missile to the West Coast of the US.  What with the submarine base just over in Bangor, this means that Seattle would be a likely target. 
    
Now, the public. have been assured by our government  that the American military could 'stop' one of these missiles, and that there is not reason to worry, this 'declaration of war'  is just saber rattling on the part of the leader of North Korea.
       
But what is extraordinary is that this threat is not even commonly known.  I brought it up with a few customers, and they had not even heard about it.
 
The Seattle Times has just announced that in mid March, they will restrict access to their online paper, unless a fee of $208 dollars a year is paid.   This is called putting up a paywall, as they are not getting enough 'click's on their advertising in their online paper to make a profit without charging..  As I will not give one thin dime to the Blethem family,  I will have to stop reading the Seattle Times. and switch to the P.I.,  which, so far, have not put up a firewall, and which I could possibly support with an online subscription.  I had not been reading it, as they require a FACEBOOK membership to comment, and I felt that was an intrusion on my rights as a reader.  I find FACEBOOK to be both unsafe, and a dead bore. If I wanted my old friends to find me, I would be in the phone book. As it is, they can track me down by Googling me, that is bad enough.
     
I would pay the $208 the Seattle Times wants for a subscription if they had not backed George Bush jr. twice for president in editorials, and never apologized for this grievous lapse in judgment..

As most people are used to getting their news for 'free', and the   general decline of the reading of real newspapers, I fear that knowledge of important news stories will decline with paywalls going up everywhere online. .  TV news usually only covers local fires and muggings, and what the Mayor is up to. It is weak on political and international news, and usually does not cover anything much in depth.

So, I urge readers to buy the daily  New York Times. The editors have their own wild biases  - they sign off on a lot that the president comes up with, and also bought the Weapons of Mass Destruction lies the Bush administration sold to the American people - but the paper, in general is well written, and I enjoy the editorial page.  Another good source of world news is The Economist, which comes out weekly.  It is 'hard to read', not dumbed down in any way, but the magazine is published in the United Kingdom, so it is not so swayed by American partisan politics.

At least read Yahoo news online.  It is not that well written, but it is a huge site for world and national news.   The comment sections after the articles are both hilarious and frightening.  I read them carefully, because under the veil of anonymity, the racist, homophobic, sexist and xenophobics come out  from under their rocks, and say what they REALLY think...It is the pulse of both the Tea Party and Blue States on display.  This site is educational for all those who think that everyone thinks like people in Seattle and San Francisco and New York. 
    
Now and then, esp. on the Science page, there are some very good short articles about astronomy, Mars and space exportation in general.  I can recommend the site for the general reader, as well as the Huffington Post, and the Pajamas Media for reading what the Tea Party  and other conservative writers  think.
     
This list is just a start....

I want people to know when a world leader has just threatened to drop a nuke on Seattle's head.  Or that Hugo Chavez's people are planning to turn him into another 'Lenin Popsicle' And that idealist and local hero Al Gore did to make an obscene pile of money. 
 
Between meteors from the sky, and North Koreans/the president  playing with nuclear missiles/drone attacks, I feel like Chicken Little, who cried the sky is falling.
 
Oh well. At least this week the Yellowstone super-volcano and Mt. Rainier are quiet. .
  
Oh, you had not heard about the Yellowstone super-volcano...?

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