Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
"All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency.
Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side ...
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."-- George Orwell
Sunday, January 08, 2012
This morning, while reading the various and ongoing will-we-or-won't-we discussions about America and Iran, I thought about the dynamic now and the dynamic of 2002-early 2003 and was struck by their similarity. If it weren't so outrageous, it would be rather funny, really: Fool us once, shame on you; fool us again, shame on...you and the New York Times. And, to be fair, shame on every single newspaper, network, blog, and radio program who aids in the spreading of baldfaced lies that promulgate the casus belli--the case for war. War that leaves hundreds of thousands of human beings--Americans and foreigners alike--dead and wounded; war that propels our national debt further into the stratosphere and plunges our national reputation deeper into the bowels of Hell.
It's deja vu all over again. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is trying to trick America into another catastrophic war with a Middle Eastern country on behalf of the Likud Party's colonial ambitions, and The New York Times is lying about allegations that said country is developing "weapons of mass destruction."
In an article attributed to Steven Erlanger on January 4 ("Europe Takes Bold Step Toward a Ban on Iranian Oil"), this paragraph appeared:
The threats from Iran, aimed both at the West and at Israel, combined with a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran's nuclear program has a military objective, is becoming an important issue in the American presidential campaign. [my emphasis]
The claim that there is "a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran's nuclear program has a military objective" is a lie.
As Washington Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton noted on December 9:
But the IAEA report does not say Iran has a bomb, nor does it say it is building one, only that its multiyear effort pursuing nuclear technology is sophisticated and broad enough that it could be consistent with building a bomb.
Indeed, if you try now to find the offending paragraph on The New York Times web site, you can't. They took it down. But there is no note, like there is supposed to be, acknowledging that they changed the article, and that there was something wrong with it before. Sneaky, huh?
But you can still find the original here.
Indeed, at this writing, if you go to The New York Times web site and search on the phrase "military objective," the article pops right up. But if you open the article, the text is gone. But again, there is no explanatory note saying that they changed the text.
This is not an isolated example in the Times' reporting. The very same day - January 4 - The New York Times published anotherarticle, attributed to Clifford Krauss ("Oil Price Would Skyrocket if Iran Closed the Strait of Hormuz "), that contained the following paragraph:
Various Iranian officials in recent weeks have said they would blockade the strait, which is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, if the United States and Europe imposed a tight oil embargo on their country in an effort to thwart its development of nuclear weapons [my emphasis].
At this writing, that text is still on The New York Times web site.
At Michigan State University, subjects were placed in a virtual world setting of a railroad switch with the assignment of either pulling a joystick that would send a boxcar careening into a single hiker or choose to do nothing and watch as the same box car kills five hikers.
Out of 147 participants, 130 rerouted the boxcar into the path of the single hiker while 14 did nothing and three changed their minds at the last minute and decided to allow the five hikers to die.
Study researcher Carlos David Navarrete, an MSU evolutionary psychologist, said, "What we found is that the rule of 'Thou shalt not kill' can be overcome by considerations of the greater good."
The majority of the subjects, then, responded in ways that can be described as taking a Utilitarian approach--in short, they believe that the best course of action is the one which results in the greatest amount of good, or brings about the most happiness for the largest number of people. Those of us who took an ethics class or two in college might remember John Stuart Mill as one of the Patron Philosophers of Utilitarianism. Some of us have even quoted Mill from time to time--certainly we've carried the smooth and weather-seasoned stones that are his noble ideas around in our pockets; when faced with ethical quandaries, we've run our fingers over their cool permanence and been reassured.
Monday, January 02, 2012
Despite its boosters' advertising, this project is not about jobs or energy security. It is about money. And whenever my former employer Bechtel, working on behalf of TransCanada, had to choose between safety and saving money, they chose to save money.
As an inspector, my job was to monitor the construction of the first Keystone pipeline. I oversaw construction at the pump stations that have been such a problem on that line, which has already spilled more than a dozen times. I am coming forward because my kids encouraged me to tell the truth about what was done and covered up.
When I last raised concerns about corners being cut, I lost my job — but people along the Keystone XL pathway have a lot more to lose if this project moves forward with the same shoddy work.
What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as "not too bad," shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.