Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is My Generation To Blame for Environmental Disasters? Pakistan's Bad Press Week

Paul Krugman
Imran Khan
"I heard the daily rants from the campaign trail. It got so that even the weather seemed to be George’s fault. And I wondered if Barack Obama, who spent far more time attacking George than he did his opponent, John McCain, would want to amend his words once he discovered the reality of the White House and was himself confronted by the challenges and crises that hit a president every day, all day.” - Laura Bush
"We should all probably calm down about politics. Most of the proposals we argue about so ferociously will have only marginal effects on how we live, especially compared with the ethnic, regional and social differences that we so studiously ignore." - David Brooks

I didn't get around to reading Paul Krugman's column until late last night, and I highly recommend clicking on it and reading it. It brought back memories of 1970, being a senior in high school, and working on a celebration for the first Earth Day. I don't know how we pulled it off, but we were allowed to stage a protest march during school hours, off campus towards City Hall along a major street, then back to the high school auditorium where some speakers were lined up. But what I was most proud of, was borrowing a skeleton from Biology class, and putting it in the glass announcement case outside of the Principal's office. We then filled the case up to waist-level with the washed out paper milk cartons that came with lunch, didn't need a sign, we felt that it alone was enough of a statement.

Paul reminded me of the visible environmental problems that spurred myself and other students to plan activites, besides getting out of class and going down to the beach to have breakfast at the Surfboarder: "Environmentalism began as a response to pollution that everyone could see. The spill in the gulf recalls the 1969 blowout that coated the beaches of Santa Barbara in oil. But 1969 was also the year the Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland, caught fire. Meanwhile, Lake Erie was widely declared “dead,” its waters contaminated by algal blooms. And major U.S. cities — especially, but by no means only, Los Angeles — were often cloaked in thick, acrid smog."

And, over the years as I have gotten older and more socially impotent, many of the environmental problems seemed less important to me: "... as visible pollution has diminished, so has public concern over environmental issues. According to a recent Gallup survey, “Americans are now less worried about a series of environmental problems than at any time in the past 20 years." Unfortunately, as I and others of my generation's attentions were diverted elsewhere, there were elements that didn't forget and never sleep: "Nor was a loss of public interest the only negative consequence of the decline in visible pollution. As the photogenic crises of the 1960s and 1970s faded from memory, conservatives began pushing back against environmental regulation.

Much of the pushback took the form of demands that environmental restrictions be weakened. But there was also an attempt to construct a narrative in which advocates of strong environmental protection were either extremists — “eco-Nazis,” according to Rush Limbaugh — or effete liberal snobs trying to impose their aesthetic preferences on ordinary Americans.  And let’s admit it: by and large, the anti-environmentalists have been winning the argument, at least as far as public opinion is concerned."

Which is where we are, come back around full circle, with the oil gushing out of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Here's hoping that the younger generations will learn from our mistakes. When dealing with our planet and natural resources, we must have the proper technology to not only harvest a resource, but to be able to foresee all problems associated with it, and have the tested solutions should something go wrong. Otherwise, leave the damned thing alone. Twenty years later, there is still oil along the coastline of Alaska from the Exxon Valdez, and the animal habitat has only recovered about one third from where it originally was. The Gulf spill is now the size of the state of Delaware, and will affect all industries and habitats in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

One of my major contentions here is that extreme right wing people are mentally ill. The result of their actions is leaving a sick society and dying planet. Only by finding a way to transform these people's outlook, to open their hearts and look at life from a spiritual point of view versus a religious one, will we be able to transform our society into a better one. Right now the sickness is in ascendency and will continue to cause us harm until it ends in a fevered pitch in 2012...

Well, Pakistan isn't having a good week in the Western Press. The lone would-be suicide assassin from the Mumbai attacks was sentenced today in a courtroom in Lahore, Pakistan: "The trial has stumbled and lurched through setbacks and reversals. Mr. Kasab’s court-appointed lawyer was dismissed on the first day of hearings when she was found to be representing a witness to the attacks in a separate civil case. His second lawyer was dismissed late last year after a disagreement with the judge over a procedural matter. Mr. Kasab has also changed his version of the events several times. After his arrest, he provided the authorities with a rich narrative about how he became a terrorist. But he recanted the statement at the start of the trial. Last July, he said in court that he was guilty and wanted to be hanged. He changed his mind again in December and told the court he was a tourist who had been framed by the police.

The attacks started Nov. 26, 2008. Mr. Kasab and a partner, Abu Ismail, shot and killed commuters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a busy train station, where the Indian authorities said 58 people died. After a confrontation later that evening, police officers killed Mr. Ismail and arrested Mr. Kasab.

It took commandos nearly three days to kill the other eight attackers who had taken over two of Mumbai’s finest hotels, the Oberoi and the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, and a Chabad-Lubavitch center then known as Nariman House." There is still a lot of ill will between the two countries, both locked in a struggle to see who can be the most paranoid about the other, and this horrible attack almost brought an attack from India into Kashmir, where they believed the planning for the Mumbai attacks took place.

Faisal Shahzad, a 30 year old man of Pakistani descent who had become a naturalized citizen of the US last April, was picked up by authorities from an airplane that had left for Dubai: "He told the authorities that he had acted alone, but hours after he was arrested, security officials in Pakistan said they had arrested seven or eight people in connection with the bombing attempt.

Pakistani officials identified one of the detainees as Tauhid Ahmed and said he had been in touch with Mr. Shahzad through e-mail, and had met him either in the United States or in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Another man arrested, Muhammad Rehan, had spent time with Mr. Shahzad during a recent visit there, Pakistani officials said. Mr. Rehan was arrested in Karachi just after morning prayers at a mosque known for its links with the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad."

Only time will tell if Mr Shahzad acted alone, as he says, and used instructions he found on the Internet,  how to make a car bomb for dummies, or if he had help from the mother country. But he is the latest in a group of homegrown wannabees that, thankfully, lack proper terrorist training to fulfill their explosive wishes. And with each incident, we become more intolerant and act racist against people of the Muslim faith, another notch in a spiral about to go out of control. Imran Khan's column above addresses what its like traveling the world and being singled out because you are of Pakistani descent, it sees to require the extra patience and extra time on your hands as you are quarantined after every flight... Anytime you want to experience what it is like being a minority in the US, just go and visit Mexico right now. Let me know if you and your family safely made it back...

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that he is sending 850 more trainers of the Afghanistan army, to pick up the slack from our NATO brothers and sisters who just can't quite come up with all of their committed share. Meaning they can't find that many people who will volunteer.

Many countries won't let their soldiers fight in Afghanistan, so the solution to their participating is to have them provide trainers. The joke running around this week was from a video showing French soldiers training their Afghan counterparts how to retreat successfully... Just think what wonderful international influences will be trained into Afghanistan's finest... to drink beer like a German, swear like an American, and here is where you get to add in and fill in the blank   __________________.

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