Thursday, April 21, 2011

Disasters and odd reactions to them:
Twisters Leave Dozens Dead, Destruction in 6 States

Severe Storms' Death Toll Rises to 9 in 2 States

1 Year Later: Could BP Spill Actually Save the Gulf Coast?

Japan Mulls Strictly Enforcing Evacuation Zone Near Plant

Wildfires Rage Across Texas, Scorch Over 1 Million Acres

Cheap Summer Power Predicted for the U.S.

Click here: Arcadia "tree-sitters" get some Hollywood treatment - Whittier Daily News

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood supporters Tuesday called on prosecutors to drop a trespassing case against a group of tree sitters who've become known as the "Arcadia 4."

Actors Ed Begley Jr. and Daryl Hannah (tacitly providing a note of Nordic superiority :-}) said the four should not face charges for climbing into old-growth oaks on Jan. 12 while bulldozers destroyed an 11-acre woodland around them.

"They are heroes in my mind, for sitting in those beautiful trees, as (crews) were trying to cut them down," Begley said at a rally of supporters outside Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley's downtown headquarters.

Hundreds of old-growth oaks and sycamores were destroyed as part of a Los Angeles County Public Works Department flood-control project to clear the land and spread sediment dredged from Santa Anita Dam and other debris basins.

Begley said he wasn't discounting safety concerns.

"But there are gravel pits to put the debris in - spend the extra money and time to do that," he said, later adding that he'd "pony up" himself.

The Arcadia 4 - John Quigley, 50, of Glendale; Julia Jaye Posin, 23, of Venice Beach; Travis Jochimsen, 28, of Lancaster; and Andrea Bowers, 45, of Los Angeles - pleaded not guilty to one count each of trespassing and obstructing a police officer in Alhambra Superior Court on March 23.

All four rejected an offer of community service and payment of restitution from the DA's office and will appear in court again on Friday for a pre-trialhearing.

In a statement Tuesday, Cooley spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the tree-sitters had been extended a "reasonable case settlement."

"Those who engage in civil disobedience should accept the consequences of their acts if they disobey the law," Gibbons' statement said.

Other protesters were not arrested, she said, and the four were taken into custody and charged with trespass when they refused to leave the trees.

Camron Stone, a longtime neighbor of the woodland south of the Santa Anita Dam, said its destruction has raised awareness and organized opposition to other planned county projects.

"It's been a rallying point - there's a whole lot of support out there for what we're doing," said Stone, who is pushing for an investigation of the public works process in the Arcadia woodlands project.

"I think people are really starting to get the message," he said.

Stone pointed to the watchdog Urbanwild Network formed to improve communication between environmental and civic groups. They include the Altadena Crest Trail Restoration Working Group, Pasadena Audubon Society, the Sierra Madre Mountain Conservancy, the Sierra Club in Pasadena, California Oaks, the Pasadena Garden Club and the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of the Native Plant Society.

"Local people do care about the wildlands in their back yards that are disappearing at an incredible rate," Stone said.

"The next thing we're facing is Hahamongna," he later said of the county's plans to clear 1.6 million cubic yards of debris from Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena's Hahamongna Watershed Park.

The Urbanwild Network has listed Hahamongna as one of the "five most endangered urban wildlands" in the foothills of L.A. County. The others are the remaining 10 acres of Arcadia woodland; La Tuna Canyon, where plans are to clear woodland for sediment disposal; Whittier Narrows Natural Area, where plans were to build a $22-million water museum and parking lot; and development of Aliso Canyon Park in Granada Hills.

Hannah, who attended the protest at the "incredibly gorgeous" Arcadia woodland in January, said its destruction had raised awareness of other places at risk.

It served to "remind people there's something we can do" in holding public officials' decisions up to scrutiny, she said, "and to make wiser decisions than the death of natural systems."

Click here: Kyrgyz Parliament Sacrifices 7 Sheep For Evil Spirits

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan's raucous parliament have sacrificed seven sheep in what they call a bid to drive evil spirits out of the chamber.

Parliament press officer Shairbek Mamatoktorov said almost all the deputies attended Thursday morning's traditional ceremony. He says meat from the slaughtered animals will be sent to homes for the elderly and the disabled.

The impoverished Central Asian nation's fragile three-party coalition has descended into a flurry of squabbling. Deputies from two parties in the fragile coalition government even came to blows earlier this month and traded bitter accusations.

This month marked the first anniversary of a bloody uprising that led to the ouster of the country's authoritarian leader.


(Donald Trump in secret:) I wonder if that'll work? I wonder if Joan Rivers and Gary Busey know? Got to try it!! What could it hurt? Maybe if I push 'em off Trump Tower - note to self: Get Apprentices to file their hooves and bung up their holes so they don't mess up the freight elevator on the way up. - Maybe they'll take out some otherwise useless bums when they hit below. That would be sooooooo KEWL!! Them spirits gotta like that! ...What if somebody gets pissy about it? What if they give me flack about it? Could I take them out? Naw, I only gotta blame Obama!

(Donald Trump in public:) While Kyrgyzstan has heretofore marched boldly from a Soviet satellite economy based on handwoven grit-encrusted wool products to a dynamic Free Market based on unrestricted trade in old Soviet military hardware, it is to be regretted that they are slipping back to socialist modes of state-provided red meat for those who are only Permanent Dregs on Society.


The Prophet: Now keep the Donald ever far from thy ewe lambs...Which thou shouldst have done all along, anyway!

Which leads to:
Why Trump Soars


Published: April 18, 2011

Very few people have the luxury of being freely obnoxious. Most people have to watch what they say for fear of offending their bosses and colleagues. Others resist saying anything that might make them unpopular.

But, in every society, there are a few rare souls who rise above subservience, insecurity and concern. Each morning they take their own abrasive urges out for parade. They are so impressed by their achievements, so often reminded of their own obvious rightness, that every stray thought and synaptic ripple comes bursting out of their mouth fortified by impregnable certitude. When they have achieved this status they have entered the realm of Upper Blowhardia.

These supremely accomplished blowhards offend some but also arouse intense loyalty in others. Their followers enjoy the brassiness of it all. They live vicariously through their hero’s assertiveness. They delight in hearing those obnoxious things that others are only permitted to think.

Thus, there has always been a fan base for the abrasive rich man. There has always been a market for books by people like George Steinbrenner, Ross Perot, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Bobby Knight, Howard Stern and George Soros. There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control.

And today, apparently, Donald Trump is that man. Trump, currently most famous for telling people that they are fired, has surged toward the top of the presidential primary polls. In one poll, he was in (remote) striking distance in a head-to-head against President Obama. Many people regard Trump as a joke and his popularity a disgrace. But he is actually riding a deep public fantasy: The hunger for the ultimate blowhard who can lead us through dark times.

He is riding something else: The strongest and most subversive ideology in America today. Donald Trump is the living, walking personification of the Gospel of Success.

It is obligatory these days in a polite society to have a complicated attitude toward success. If you attend a prestigious college or professional school, you are supposed to struggle tirelessly for success while denying that you have much interest in it. If you do achieve it, you are expected to shroud your wealth in locally grown produce, understated luxury cars and nubby fabrics.

Trump, on the other hand, is utterly oblivious to such conventions. When it comes to success, as in so many other things, he is the perpetual boy. He is the enthusiastic adventurer thrilled to have acquired a gleaming new bike, and doubly thrilled to be showing it off.

He labors under the belief — unacceptable in post-modernist, environmentally and politically aware polite society — that two is better than one, and that four is better than two. If he can afford a car, a flashy one is better than a boring one. In private jets, lavish is better than dull. In skyscrapers, brass is better than brick, and gold is better than brass.

This boyish enthusiasm for glory has propelled him to enormous accomplishment. He has literally changed the landscape of New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and many places in between. He has survived a ruinous crash and come back stronger than ever.

Moreover, he shares this unambivalent attitude toward success with millions around the country. Though he cannot possibly need the money, he spends his days proselytizing the Gospel of Success through Trump University, his motivational speeches, his TV shows and relentlessly flowing books.

A child of wealth, his taste is more at home with the proletarian immigrants and the lower-middle-class strivers, who share his straightforward belief in the Gospel of Success, than he is among members of the haute bourgeoisie, who are above it. Like many swashbuckler capitalists, he is essentially anti-elitist.

Now, I don’t mean to say that Donald Trump is going to be president or get close. There is, for example, his hyper-hyperbolism and opportunism standing in the way.

In 2009, Trump published a book with a very Trumpian title: “Think Like a Champion.” In that book, he praised Obama’s “amazing” and “phenomenal” accomplishments. “Barack Obama proved that determination combined with opportunity and intelligence can make things happen — and in an exceptional way,” Trump gushed.

Now he spouts birther nonsense and calls Obama the worst president in American history. Now he leads rallies that make Michele Bachmann events look like the League of Women Voters. Even angry American voters want some level of seriousness, prudence and self-control.

But I do insist that Trump is no joke. He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life. I would never vote for him, but I would never want to live in a country without people like him. 

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 19, 2011, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Why Trump Soars.


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