So This Is Happening of the Day: Cartoon Network announced today that it has signed a deal with Transformers producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford to develop a live-action feature film based on the Captain Planet cartoon series.
“With the earthquakes, tornadoes, melting icebergs and all the other problems threatening the world right now, Earth really needs her greatest defender,” Montford said in a statement.
Originally the product of a partnership between Ted Turner and DIC Enterprises, Captain Planet and the Planeteers (later The New Adventures of Captain Planet) aired for six seasons, from September 1990 until Februrary 1996.
CAN I BE HEART?!
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What do you mean by gangsterish? I assume you’re talking about the Cornrows/braids. So, that’s “gangsterish” then? Are you telling me that by simply grooming your hair in a traditional African style you are then considered to look like a gangster? With this logic, the next assumption would be that all black people are gangster then.
How I won Wip 3 - by Bryan Lee
Remember that video on how to fold a dollar bill into a dress shirt & tie? Well, I used that idea to create this year’s Father’s Day card. I made three (for my dad, step dad, and father-in-law) in different colors, and attached the folded shirt with painter’s tape. I plan to add a personal message about supporting me over all these years in all ways blah blah blah…
Have you used any of this week’s ideas to make anything? I’d love to see!
Camel Thorn Trees, Namibia
Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic
Tinted orange by the morning sun, a soaring dune is the backdrop for the hulks of camel thorn trees in Namib-Naukluft Park.
This is so awesome, it doesn’t look real.
Source: National Geographic
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Trek Madone 6.9, team radioshack, or “the shack” lol, new look from Shepard Fairey. Red & Black, I like the bear on the seat tube.
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Waiting for the Spark
By Ralph Nader
What could start a popular resurgence in this country against the abuses of concentrated, avaricious corporatism? Imagine the arrogance of passing on to already cheated working people and the jobless enormous corporate losses? This is achieved through government bailouts and tax escapes.
History teaches us that the spark usually is smaller than expected and of a nature that is wholly unpredictable or even unimaginable. But if the dry tinder is all around, as many deprivations and polls reveal, the spark, no matter how small, can turn into a raging inferno.
The Boston Tea Party lit up the American Revolution. Storming the hated Bastille (prison) by impoverished Parisians launched the French Revolution. More recently, in December 1997, an Israeli military vehicle rammed a civilian van in the West Bank killing seven occupants and igniting the first Intifada.
Last December, a young fruit vendor, abused by thieving police in a small Tunisian town, immolated himself in the local square. Seen by millions on Facebook, this self-sacrifice launched the Tunisian and Egyptian overthrow of their long-time dictators. Later, in Syria, after police arrested 13 youngsters in a southern border town for anti-government graffiti the place erupted in riots and rallies that are spreading to other cities.
A few weeks ago, many progressives and quite a few pundits believed that the recurrent, ever larger February-March rallies in Madison, Wisconsin by workers, students and others against the Governors’ and the Legislature’s attack on public employee unions and social services, following earlier blatant corporate welfare enactments, would be the long-awaited spark.
The Madison eruption spread briefly to Ohio and Indiana where Republican officials were moving in the same direction, punishing workers and families while leaving the corporate and wealthy to count their mounting privileges. There, the crowds were neither as large nor as frequent. In all these states, the Republicans got most of what they wanted, albeit with a possible, future political price to be paid. The rallies have subsided, not even culminating—as some organizers hoped—in a gigantic march on Washington, D.C.
Granted, rallying a long repressed people into losing their fear and demanding, as in Cairo’s huge Tahrir Square “out with the dictator”, is a simple, anthromorphic goal. In our country, the rallies are hardly as clearcut, though use of the citizen right of recall for Republican legislators, and later Governor Walker himself, may produce an interesting accountability election. But sparks are difficult to sustain.
In authoritarian regimes, there are few options for dissent or airing one’s grievances. So when the spark does occur, the climate is fertile for an explosion of outrages.
In the United States, there are largely myths such as “anyone can sue,” or “anyone can run,” or “anyone can directly tell off the President or the Mayor,” or “anyone can blow the whistle.” These combine with a few celebrated successes by rebels or an ordinary David taking on a Goliath for a win here and there, from a corporate-government ruling class that bends a little so that it doesn’t break.
Meanwhile, the inequality, gouging, political exclusions and overall gaps between the top one percent and the rest tighten the grip of the oligarchy and its draining, violent militarized empire.
Loss of control over almost everything that matters, including their children to daily direct corporate marketing of junk food and violent programming, is rampant. Over seventy percent of those polled told Business Week that they believed corporations had “too much control over their lives”—and that was in 2000 before conditions and controls—viz, the Wall Street collapse, severe recession and taxpayer bailouts—worsened.
The American people don’t see much they can do to counter the pressures of greed and power that tracks them daily from debt to debt, from lower standards of living to outright penury, from denial of critical healthcare to the iron collar of the cruel credit score, from inscrutable, computerized bills to fine-print contracts trapping their sense of unfairness into waves of frustrations, from being put on hold by the companies until they’re told no, no, no or penalty, penalty, penalty!
How do we break the cycle of despair, exclusion, powerlessness, and endless betrayal by those given the authority to bring down the exploiters and oppressors to lawful accountability?
The Empire rips up the Constitution and takes the reserve army of the young unemployed to kill and die in aggressive wars of the White House’s choice, with Congress watching from the sidelines; its only role to funnel trillions of tax dollars into the insatiable war machine’s unauditable budgets. President Eisenhower wanted us to control the “military-industrial complex”. Instead it grew much more out of control. Eisenhower’s grave warning as expressed in his farewell address in 1961 was prescient.
The spark can come from a recurrent sequence of abuses that strike a special chord of deeply felt injustice. Or it could be a unique episode or bullying that tolls the feeling “enough already” throughout the land. Such sparks cannot be manufactured; the power to arouse and break people’s routines is spontaneous.
When that moment comes, millions of Americans whose self-respect and keen sense of wrong will remind them precisely why our Constitution begins with “We the People” and not “We the Corporations”. They will realize the necessity for a Jeffersonian revolution.
Photos by Lo
Protests, Rallies and organization
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There once was a song called “Arrest The President.”
Contemporary music, a hit with the kids, it was a top ten.
I wasn’t pop then, so I missed the bus a bit,
But politics was on everybody’s hot this summer list.
The cool kids were all rocking votes,
I shit you not, I was pistol whippin’ cops for hip hop. [Booyea!]
On my soap box yelling into megaphones.
Killing hard rocks using carcasses as stepping stones.
Had to promise that I’d stop holding my marches
The day that Chris Columbus got crucified on golden arches.
My pedestal was too tall to climb off,
In fact that’s the reason for the high horse.
And from up here I see Marines and Hummers on a conquest;
Underdogs with wonderbras in a push-up contest,
All for the sake of military recruitment.
It felt like Kent State the way they targeted the students,
I galloped off whistling “Ohio.”
The rest of them, stuck doing stand up at a cricket convention.
What would they die for? (repeat)
Is it the same machine that leaves the quality of life poor?
An abominable colony of cyborgs?
Clogging up the property that I bought with eyesores?
That clever ad campaign ain’t worth
The time taken from minimum wage labor;
I don’t care how half-naked or fake she looks,
She smells like dirty cash and aged paper books.
What would she die for?
Slow down Gandhi, you’re killin’ em
Slow down Gandhi, you’re killin’ em.
Now it’s whistle blower vs. the pistol holder;
Case dismissed, they’ll lock you up and throw away the key witness.
Justice is the whim of a judge, check his chest density,
It leaves much room for error, and the rest left to destiny.
The West Memphis 3 lost paradise,
It’s death penalty vs. suicidal tendencies.
All I wanted was a fucking Pepsi.
Making you think you’re crazy is a billion dollar industry.
If they could sell sanity in a bottle
They’d be charging for compressed air,
And marketing healthcare.
They demonize welfare,
Middle class eliminated,
Rich get richer til the poor get educated.
But some of y’all still haven’t grown into your face,
And your face doesn’t quite match your head.
And I’m waiting for a brain to fill the dead space that’s left,
You’re all, “Give me ethnicity or give me dreads.”
Trustafundian rebel without a cause for alarm,
Cause when push turns to shove
You jump into your forefathers arms.
He’s a banker, you’re part of the system,
Off go the dreadlocks in comes the income.
The briefcase (the freebase)
The sickness (the symptom)
When the cameras start rollin’ stay the fuck outta the picture pilgrim!
The briefcase (the freebase)
The sickness (the symptoms)
When the cameras start rollin’…
Slow down Gandhi, you’re killin’ em.
Mr. Save The World, spare us the details,
Save the females from losing interest.
And Miss Save The Universe,
You’re a damsel in distress,
Tied down to a track of isolated incidents.
Generalize my disease,
I need a taste of what it’s like.
Living off the fat of kings,
I play the scab at your hunger strike.
Slow down Gandhi, you’re killin’em.
One love, one life, one too many victims.
Republicrat, Democran, one party system.
Media goes in a frenzy,
They’re stripped of their credentials.
Presidential candidates can’t debate over this instrumental.
Let ‘em freestyle, winner takes all,
When the music’s dead, I’ll have Ted Nugent’s head hangin’ on my wall.
Kill one of ours, we’ll kill one of yours.
With some friendly fire, that’s a funny term, like civil war.
Six in the morning, police at my crib.
Now my nights consist of two toothpicks and eyelids.
The crucifix and vitamins, music that is pirated.
New flavored food made of mutated hybrids.
Uh, they tell me that it’s not that bad.
It fucks you up good, but its not that bad.
They hold on to these tales till it’s the dog that wags.
God save us all if he lets the cat out the bag.
Who’s the one to blame for this strain in my vocal chords?
Who can pen a hateful threat but can’t hold a sword?
It’s the same who complain about the global war,
But can’t overthrow the local joker that they voted for.
They call the shots
(but they’re not in the line of fire).
I call the cops
(but they’re breakin the line of duty).
Lets call a stop to the abuse of authority.
The truth keeps callin’ me, and I’ma live to tell the story.
So look for truth, quit seeking forgiveness.
You need to cut the noose, but you don’t believe in scissors.
You support the troops by wearing yellow ribbons?
Just bring home my motherfuckin’ brothers and sisters.
Cause they don’t call the shots
(but they’re in the line of fire).
I’d like to call the cops
(but they’re breakin’ the line of duty).
It’s time to call a stop
(To the abuse of authority).
The truth keeps calling me
And I’ma live to tell the story.
That is what you are
Coming from a farm
Reaching with your arm
Come away with me
To another ranch
We can rely on a tree-branch
(Greeting is on)
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Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader Calls for Investigation of Treasury Department’s Handling of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conservatorship
April 11, 2011
Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader Calls for Investigation of Treasury Department’s Handling of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conservatorship
Nader Says High-ranking Government Officials Made Misleading Statements about the Financial Health of Fannie & Freddie
In a letter to Department of the Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson, Senator Tim Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and Representative Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Nader raised a variety of questions about the manner in which Treasury Department officials established the conservatorships for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the way the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) delisted the companies from the New York Stock Exchange.
Mr. Nader said, â€œthe Treasury Department Inspector General and Congressional Committees with appropriate jurisdiction are in the best position to conduct a thorough investigation of the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac common shareholders have been used and abused by the Treasury Department.
Nader noted that high-ranking government officials including: former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, former Senator Christopher Dodd, Representative Barney Frank, and former OFHEO Director James B. Lockhart, made positive comments about the financial health of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in July of 2008, just two months prior to the creation of the conservatorship.
Click here for the full text of the Mr. Nader’s letter.
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End the Land Mine Plague
By Ralph Nader
Everyday around the world innocent people, many of them children, are killed or injured by millions of unexploded land mines and cluster bombs. Some of the cluster bomblets look like candy or a toy which attract a child in a field, orchard, schoolyard or by the roadside.
Powerful aggressor nations are responsible for most of these anti-personal weapons being laid from land or by air. Most recently, Libya’s rulers laid mines on the outskirts of Ajdabiya as part of its battle against the resistance.
In 2006, Israel laid huge numbers of cluster bombs in southern Lebanon each of which contains lethal bomblets. For many months after the ceasefire, the United Nations could not get Israel, to provide its cluster bomb algorithms to UN experts so they could safely neutralize these heinous weapons. In that period many Lebanese, adults and children, became cluster bomb casualties. (Visit http://www.atfl.org and see the Cluster Bomb Victims photo gallery.)
Two broad-based international treaties address the humanitarian necessity to ban both weapons, just as many horrific chemical and biological weapons have been banned for years. For both treaties—one on land mines, the more recent on cluster bombs—the United States has been the egregious odd man out under both Republican and Democratic Administrations.
The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty has been signed by 133 countries including many U.S. allies. Not the United States, Russia, Israel and China all of whom are major producers, users or sellers of these lethal weapons. As reported by Human Rights Watch, 68 U.S. Senators—enough votes to ratify the Land Mine treaty, have urged President Obama to move on this urgent matter. Sixteen Nobel Peace Laureates have urged their fellow Laureate, Barack Obama, to live up to the spirit of this award and lead the U.S. in embracing this treaty.
But the “permanent government” persists especially when its current President is so preoccupied with all his wars, attacks, incursions and intrigues with foreign leaders, tribes, clans, and spies.
Presently, the U.S. has a stockpile of ten million land mines. Washington claims “it has not used any since the 1991 Gulf War, has not exported any since 1992 and has not produced them since 1997” according to a Reuters report. The federal government also says it spent $1.5 billion since 1993 to help clear landmines and treat accident victims.
The State Department and the Pentagon stall and say year after year they are reviewing U.S. landmine policy. Years pass. Still no decision. One reason is that the U.S. wants flexibility to maintain mines in areas like the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
When it comes to the more grisly cluster bombs, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a treaty banning the “use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions” and disassembling and clearing the remaining stockpiles within ten years, has been signed by 108 nations. It went into effect August 2010 without the signature of the United States.
From Laos to Kosovo and from Chechnya to Iraq, these savage weapons continue their daily devastation. Pictures of the survivors with lost limbs provide the evidence of what havoc weapons profiteering and unaccountable bureaucrats can wreak. Some of these unexploded ordinance in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan can be reworked into the dreaded IED’s against U.S. soldiers. Maybe that’s a wakeup call for the White House.
Still Obama fiddles and perplexes our allies with his indecision. He displays no such hesitancy about ordering more and more drones to fire on homes, buildings and vehicles with the imprecision of suspicion that has blown up wedding parties, gatherings of innocent non-combatants and recently, nine boys collecting firewood for their families.
More and more international civic organizations, often backed by their governments, are working together for a “mine-free world.” However, sluggishness in Washington can be compared with the speedy innovation by defense firms in the demonic configuration of ever more deadly cluster bombs. Wait and see what nanotechnology can do when basic research moves to application in this violent area.
There is all too much secrecy and too little open discussion in the political and electoral arenas. Obama’s annual weapons destruction report does not tell Americans why he refuses to sign either Treaty.
Mr. Obama has been to many ceremonies and photo opportunities lately. Perhaps he can reserve some space on his calendar to take a photo with some children seriously maimed by cluster bombs and land mines coupled with an announcement that he will take this next long-overdue step toward disarmament and lessen man’s inhumanity to man.
In the meantime, go to Human Rights Watch’s website (hrw.org) and sign their anti-landmine letter to President Barack Obama. And call the White House comment hotline (202-456-1111) and voice your resolve to end this scattered and often invisible scourge plaguing war-torn areas of the world.
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From Charity to Justice
By Ralph Nader
On the evening of May 4, a day before he was to join dozens of billionaires convened by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in Phoenix, Arizona to discuss how they might spend over half their wealth for “good works,” media entrepreneur, peace advocate and environmentalist, Ted Turner joined another billionaire, Peter B. Lewis (chairman of Progressive Insurance) and me at the New York Public Library to discuss a similar topic. C-SPAN covered the event.
The event was titled “Billionaires Against Bull, Going from Charity to Justice.” It was a far-ranging exchange before an audience as civically committed as some of the notables who were there, including Lewis Lapham of Lapham’s Quarterly, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Victor Navasky (Columbia Journalism School), Patti Smith (singer, poet and author), Mark Green (author of Losing Our Democracy), and Eugene Jarecki, (documentary film maker (“Why We Fight) and author of The American Way of War.
The launching point for our discourse was my work of political fiction “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!” Turner and Lewis were two of seventeen real, very rich persons, led by Warren Buffett, who in fictional roles decided to put their money, contacts and facilities behind a mass mobilization of the people to effect long-overdue redirections.
What are the chances of a small number of many mega-rich putting ample resources behind basic changes that benefit people but upset vested interests? Issues such as a living wage, Medicare for all, and cracking down on corporate crime were part of the agenda for the Meliorists featured in my book. The difference between justice and charity is taking on power to benefit people.
Billionaires don’t work together, they’re used to people under them working together, said Lewis. Moreover, he added, so often no one knows how to get such things done.
Lewis spent $20 million to increase voter turnout. The results were disappointing. Lewis said: “If I had spent another $200 million, I might have gotten another seven or eight more people to vote.”
He had a point. But what if major money was used to make voting a legal duty, like jury duty, only with the full choice of voting for the candidates on the ballot, writing in a candidate or voting for binding none-of-the-above. That would remove the civil liberties problem and make obstructing people from voting a crime. Both Lewis and Turner seemed interested in that idea.
Turner, a big solar and wind energy advocate, liked the idea of a carbon tax. Lewis advanced the idea that wealthy people like to see proposals with clear objectives and detailed action plans. Too often that does not happen, which is why he funded a new group named The Management Center to help groups work more effectively.
I put forth several “projects” such as closing down the troubled Indian Point nuclear plants 26 miles from New York City, pressing for a Wall Street speculation tax, creating watchdog groups on nanotechnology and biotechnology, investor and consumer rights, diminishing the bloated military budget, breaking the grip of the two-party controlled Commission on Presidential Debates by organizing broad coalitions in numerous cities to sponsor candidate debates in 2012.
Only a few of the increasing numbers of mega-billionaires are needed to show the way to shift power from the few to the many, to take fundamental solutions to serious problems off the shelf, to give people access to justice and voice. In short, to strengthen democracy at its people base.
There is a broad consensus in our country around certain redirections, but the people need more civic infrastructure to organize and end the oligarchic gridlocks that have entrenched greed and myopia. As the best moments of our past show, institution building works. Expansion of our civil liberties and civil rights are almost synonymous with the ACLU and the NAACP, for instance.
We need to develop a new matrix for philanthropy, building new constituencies to make government honest and reflective of public sentiments. This also involves new experiments such as new approaches to permanent organizing, to motivating citizns, to opening up new strategies and new areas.
Presently, most philanthropy goes to needed charities. Some billions of dollars should go to preventing pain and deprivation in the first place. A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity. This approach has been proven again and again in the areas of public health and safety. Think seat belts and safe vaccines.
Vast frontiers of opportunities await for our political economy to serve the many and not just the few (think the CEO of Wal-Mart making $11,000 an hour while his workers make $9 or $10 an hour). Justice needs resources to spread. Give our citizens some lift, some help, some organization and media attention and let them show the way in communities around the country. Looking back, they may have stopped unconstitutional wars of aggression.
The conversation with Turner and Lewis could be the beginning of further exchanges between older billionaires, with a larger perspective on life, who respect posterity and the civic culture, which needs many smarter, systemic approaches to improve our democracy in expeditious ways.
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