Imagine that you are a family man: a U.S. Army veteran, devoutly religious and running a small law office. Terrorists explode a series of bombs in another country, killing 191 people and injuring 1,500 more.
In a matter of weeks, you are arrested in front of your children and the media is told you are a suspected mass murderer, a terrorist.
You maintain your innocence. You haven't left the United States in a decade. But the FBI says your fingerprint is a "100 percent" match with one found on a bag of detonators linked to the attack.
In the documents justifying your arrest, your devotion to Islam appears to matter, as do your connections to the Muslim world. An FBI special agent points out that as a lawyer, you represented a man in a child custody case who later pleaded guilty to fighting in Afghanistan with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The agent also notes that you've advertised online in the Muslim Yellow Pages, which is owned by a company alleged to have links to organizations that fund terrorists. The agent neglects to mention that Avis, Best Western and United Airlines also advertise in that book.
If convicted, you could be put to death.
But after spending two weeks in jail, separated from your family, the FBI suddenly releases you. The bureau admits the fingerprint wasn't a match; investigators from the country where the bombs exploded brought the mistake to its attention.
This might sound like the plot of the latest suspense thriller, but it all happened to Brandon Mayfield, an American who runs a small legal practice in Portland, Ore. His world was turned upside-down when he was arrested and released in May 2004 in connection with last year's bombing attacks on trains in Madrid.
The above is from Michael de Yoanna "Doing what Sam says: In an era of terror, are we losing our land of liberty?" (Colorado Springs Indy) and was sent in by Gore Vidal Is God.
Natalie e-mails to note Adrian Chen's "A peek at Peak Oil, Inc.: WW drops in on a true Portland-style financial seminar" (Willamette Week)
War. Famine. Pestilence. Death. It's a mid-September Thursday night, and these calamities are projected in bold, black letters onto the wall of a basement conference room in the downtown Portland Marriott. Those are a few of the bleaker scenarios predicted once global oil production begins to dwindle, explains Dr. Kenneth Deffeyes, a Princeton geologist and author of Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak. Published earlier this year, the book offers a less-than-optimistic view of the coming global energy crisis.
"I took those words from the four horsemen in the Bible," Deffeyes jokes at the podium. The audience of about 250, a bizarre mix of dreadlocked enviros and clean-cut financial types, laughs nervously. They're here for a seminar on energy investment hosted by MKG Financial, a local trends investment firm.
Deffeyes, the keynote speaker, is among the leaders in a growing faction of scientists, politicians, and activists-known as the Peak Oil movement-who are clamoring that the Age of Oil is about to end. Soon. In fact, Deffeyes predicts that global oil production will peak this Thanksgiving, thus beginning a long, painful slide to zero.
Judging from his own financial advice, Deffeyes is a strange choice to speak at an investment forum: Earlier in the day, he half-jokingly advised me to put my savings into 1/8th-ounce gold pieces. His argument: "They'll be easier to make change with" than larger pieces in a post-apocalyptic economy.
Durham Gal e-mails to note Daniel H. Pollitt's "Roberts picked after ruling for Bush" (Raleigh-Durham Independent):
Lost in the discussion about John Roberts are the ethical standards governing federal judges. The image we treasure of the law is a blindfolded goddess; unknowing, uncaring of who sits on the opposite ends of her scales of justice. This image is reinforced by the Federal Code (judges must disqualify themselves if they are "related or connected to any party in the proceedings") and the Canons of Judicial Ethics (a judge must abstain from "taking part in any judicial act in which his personal interests are involved").
Here are the facts.
Roberts owes a lot to the Bush family. The elder Bush nominated him to the Court of Appeals in 1993 and again in 2001. The Senate failed to act on either occasion. George W. Bush nominated him in 2003, and this time the Senate consented.
On April 1, 2005, Judge Roberts was interviewed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez about an appointment to the Supreme Court. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and other top officials interviewed him in May. All the while, Roberts was sitting on a case challenging the authority of the president to bypass the Geneva Convention, to bypass the "due process clause" of the Fifth Amendment, and to try "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo before drumhead military tribunals. The stakes were momentous for the president and for Roberts.
Roberts ruled for the president, and four days later the president nominated him to the Supreme Court.
Should Roberts have disqualified himself because of his connection "to any party in the proceedings?" Should he have abstained because of his "personal interests?" And does his ethical lapse matter?
Recent history says it does.
Portland e-mails to note Kera Abraham's "Assault on High" (Eugene Weekly):
This was no weenie water bottle. This was a big ol' 5-gallon jug with thick plastic skin that you could drum on. And it was pierced clear through with a broadhead arrow, the kind that could kill a bear.
Apparently, though, someone was trying to hunt tree-sitters.
Micah Griffin gripped the jug awkwardly as he spoke into the telephone at the Lane County Sheriff's Department on the morning of Sept. 14. "I'd like to report a shooting, possibly attempted murder," he said. "I tried to report this several days ago, and now I'm physically here at the station, so I demand some -- "
He stopped abruptly and turned to us. "I'm on hold. He says they're swamped right now."
Griffin, an independent filmmaker, had brought the pierced jug to the Lane County police as evidence for an alleged assault against tree-sitters in the Willamette National Forest. Accompanying him were Josh Schlossberg, an activist with the Cascadia Forest Defenders; Cascadia Wildlands Project Executive Director Josh Laughlin, the blunt public face of the movement; and somber-eyed supporter Mahogany Aulenbach, who seemed to be there for fortitude.
They said that the bow-and-arrow incident was the second assault on tree-sitters, and that on Aug. 27, someone shot at them with a .45-caliber pistol. They wanted the police to step in to protect the activists.
Lynda e-mails to note Doree Shafrir's "It's Not Working: The Nickel and Dimed author turns her attention to a flawed American job market" which is about Barbara Ehrenreich's new book Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (Philadelphia Weekly):
Things didn't go exactly as planned. Instead of being an expose on the machinations of corporate America, Bait and Switch turned into an expose on the shadowy world of career coaches, employment agencies, networking groups and resume services.
The advice she gets on her search ranges from the merely unhelpful to the bizarre and offensive. There's the career coach who brings out his Wizard of Oz dolls during their consultation, and the networking and support groups with a blatant Christian agenda.
"In the religious job search part of the industry-it's evangelical Protestant-you have direct access to God," Ehrenreich says. "If your relationship with God is going well, then he'll change everything to suit you. So he becomes a middleman. But it's your fault if you let your relationship with God fall into disrepair."
The theme of unemployed people being blamed for their joblessness runs through the book. It's a disturbing perversion of the American tropes of self-reliance and controlling your own destiny.
"It seems to me something distinctly American," Ehrenreich says. "You can trace it to [Christian Science founder] Mary Baker Eddy's mind-over-matter philosophy. The 20th century versions are Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie. They say if you exude a winning personality, you'll get ahead."
Marcus e-mails to note Pamela Polston's "Forecast: High and Dry: Eco-guru Lester Brown sounds a water warning" (Seven Days):
It's easy to understand why the Vermont Council on World Affairs would invite Lester Brown to be the keynote speaker for a symposium entitled "The Global Water Crisis." The puzzle is how Brown managed to squeeze it into his schedule.
World-renowned as the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute -- a nonprofit aimed at providing a vision and road map for achieving an environmentally sustainable economy -- he also travels the Earth. A lot.
A critical part of the message he delivers worldwide is essentially this: You think we have an oil crisis? Look at what's happening to water. Brown does more than just sound the alarm, however; he's got real ideas about how to address the staggering depletion of water tables, rivers and lakes. He's written some 50 books on this and related eco-topics. And he does something that a number of scientists and "sky-is-falling" activists often fail to do: step back and look at the big picture.
For example, in his latest book, Outgrowing the Earth, Brown delineates how human demands are surpassing available natural resources, including water, and how this in turn leads to diminished food production.
"There are substitutes for oil, but there are no substitutes for water," Brown points out.
Then he takes it a step further, outlining what policymakers should do to ward off worldwide food shortages -- a.k.a., famine. The most politically unpopular suggestion is that whatever degrades natural resources should be heavily taxed, while Earth-friendly enterprises such as wind power should get substantial tax breaks.
In other words, the prices of our goods and services should reflect their true environmental cost to the planet we inhabit. It's a logical idea, but flies in the face of the way markets, and governments, now work. Consider all the grumbling at the gas stations recently, and imagine if the price of fuel was $11 a gallon -- as Brown says it should be. What would happen to a politician who dared suggest as much?
Brown understands the economics of food production firsthand: He grew tomatoes in southern New Jersey while in high school and college. The latter was Rutgers University, where he graduated in 1955 with a degree in agricultural science. But rather than go back to the farm, Brown went to India, where he got an eye-opening education about the effects of population on food production.
Lastly KeShawn e-mails to note Andrei Codrescu's "The Iconography of Hell and Our Guilt: Eleven days into disaster, a poet reports" (Sonoma Metroactive) and notes that Codrescu begins her article with a poem:
Each day has its own pictures:
bumper to bumper traffic two states long
a frenzied mob in a domed prison
the hungry pushing carts out of looted stores
rooftops in a lake as vast as the eye can see
dead city silent city
the survivors the tribes
stadiums filled with refugees
helicopters over a dead unlit city
a ragged parade of decadents spitting defiance
television cameras as numerous as marchers
a can of tuna and a strand of beads
take that you former sh*thead king
dead pets rotting away behind locked doors
the smell of putrefaction visible
muck darkness heat an eviscerated pigeon
two dogs shot by a hired executioner
a sea of horrible stories rising like swamp fever
from the foul mouths of dear ones from exile
11TH DAY OF HELL!
We are all working in this pit of sorrow to unfreeze time.
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