A construction company in Belize gradually hollowed out and ultimately destroyed a 60-foot, 2300-year-old Mayan pyramid to get gravel for paving roads, National Geographic reports.
There are exceptions (executives with a conscience), but mostly capitalism and its companies are about making money, any way they need to. They are all too often amoral, which is why they need to be regulated by a moral community via its elected government. The idea that corporations would all be nice if there were no government or only weak government regulation flies in the face of everything taught us by modern history, going back well before the British East India Company forced the Chinese government to let it addict people to opium. (And, no, it isn’t a sufficient refutation to say that the EIC was originally chartered by the state; the state wasn’t overseeing it out in the Indian Ocean).
And America’s coal companies spew out toxic mercury and lead and other poisons, which are damaging our health, plus a lion’s share of our carbon dioxide emissions, which are destroying the planet via rapid climate change.
Those two kinds of corporations should just be closed down altogether by a moral community via its elected government.
Road builders, you need, but they obviously need to be watched like a hawk.
Bertrand Piccard is piloting the sun-powered plane, ‘Solar Impulse,’ across America in legs. This video is of his flight from California up to San Francisco and then down to Phoenix, AZ this weekend. He used only a third of his battery power on this leg. Airplanes are currently a source of carbon pollution, contributing to climate change (though they pale in importance in this regard before automobiles, trucks, and coal plants). Sun-powered flight is the future, and Piccard is demonstrating that the future is here.
I got back from my trip to Baghdad on Sunday evening, and noticed when I checked the news that there seemed to have been a horrible shooting in New Orleans. I was jet-lagged and crashed before I could look into it. I remember thinking, oh, well,it will dominate the news cycle on Monday and I’ll find out what happened.
I went back to the internet news on Monday to make sure I hadn’t been having a nightmare. But, nope, the story was real.
No offense– I’m grateful to the reporters who bothered — but an interview with a family member of a victim, with a local African-American, would have been helpful. Do stories have to be told by white people to get a hearing?
The victims were in the ‘second line,’ following the formal Mother’s Day parade– these are just ordinary folk following the parade and dancing in the streets.
So why was the New Orleans shooting not news on America’s mass media? Oh, it was mentioned briefly. But the television news editors didn’t order reporters to fly out there, and there wasn’t the wall to wall coverage that mass shootings typically (and unfortunately) produce on American so-called news channels.
One possible answer is that the shooting was not put under the sign of ‘terrorism’ by the FBI, but of ‘crime.’ But what kind of ‘crime’ is randomly shooting down people in a parade? Crime is done for profit. I haven’t seen any precise motive attributed to Scott (or his possible alleged accomplices). People don’t shoot for no reason. What was his motive?
Moreover, why privilege a vague category like ‘terrorism’ as a national obsession? Why not speak instead of the horrors of people being terrorized by violence and guns? Do the New Orleans victims somehow not feel quite as bad as those in Boston?
And, why didn’t anyone point out the shame of the Senate’s inaction on gun control in the light of what cities such as New Orleans are suffering? Did Akein get his gun for deer hunting purposes?
Another possible answer is, frankly, racism. We know that the cable news channels have a long history of sensationalizing the disappearances and murders of young blonde white women, but that African-American women seem to be able to go missing regularly without the news anchors much noticing.
Is New Orleans being written off as an African-American cauldron of senseless violence?
It is true that Akein Scott is not as exotic as the Tsarnaev brothers. But are they really so different? Scott (who is only accused, not convicted) may have been part of an organized gang, whereas it is still unclear that the Tsarnaevs were anything more than loners and in their uncle’s words, ‘losers.’ Scott as the representative of a phenomenon is far more troubling for American society. There are only like 600 Chechens in the US, and most are perfectly well adjusted Americans. One in three African-American men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. They are profiled, more likely to be searched when stopped, more likely to be convicted, given longer terms for the same crimes, and if juveniles much more likely to be charged as adults, when compared to whites. Over 5 million African-American men have been disenfranchised, unable to vote or run for office, as a result of a felony conviction– a shame for a country calling itself a ‘democracy.’
So wall to wall coverage of the shootings in New Orleans would be far more pertinent to far more Americans and their actual social problems than the fetishization of foreign terrorism.
I don’t really know the answer as to why the New Orleans shootings were an item but not a story in American mass media. I do know that some silences are eloquent of social pathologies, and tell us as much as loud conversations do.
” Two Villages – One Story
An Interactive Dialogue on Forced Displacement
In a new short film, From Al-Araqib to Susiya, Adalah journeys between two Palestinian villages on either side of the Green Line. The residents of Al-Araqib and Susiya tell their stories and reveal the striking parallel between their struggles against Israel’s policies of forced displacement. In two different geo-political contexts, Israel suspends the rights of Palestinians and systematically dispossesses them of their land.”
Here are some folklore performances put on for us by a troupe in Baghdad on May 8, 2013, at the Ministry of Culture’s 3rd International Conference on Translation, which I attended. They shed a different light on the country than the news of sectarian clashes, bombings and fundamentalism that so often dominate news from that country.
AP received a leak last year about a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen against the United States, but apparently the whole thing was a CIA sting and the AP report, based on the leaker’s partial information, disrupted the operation. The Obama administration has shown a brutality toward government whistleblowers and leakers unparalleled in any other modern administration.
The AP reporters and those of us in the news business are furious because we all depend on people thinking they can talk to us in confidence. If they think we’re all under surveillance, they won’t be willing to divulge the real news. Sometimes government wants to keep things secret that harm the public, and it is important that people of conscience be allowed to push back. Otherwise, you get corruption and dictatorship.
That is, the obsession with government secrecy in the National Security State is a grave threat to newsgathering and hence democracy itself. Government isn’t the aim of democracy, it is the tool, and if the tool is so poorly designed as to injure the person wielding it, it should be discarded.