2007 - %3, August

Glenn Greenwald Will Not Be Hired by Brookings Anytime Soon

| Thu Aug. 9, 2007 11:51 AM EDT

Glenn Greenwald's mini-discourse on the completely fallible Foreign Policy Community is the smartest and most thought-provoking thing I've read this week. Attendant readings include the Samantha Power memo that spurred Greenwald's thinking and and the Matt Yglesias blog post that echoes Greenwald and adds another angle.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Joe Biden: Consider Criminal Charges Against Administration

| Thu Aug. 9, 2007 11:43 AM EDT

Joe Biden recently sat down with Newsweek to discuss his presidential campaign and his thoughts on 35 years in the Senate. When asked about impeachment, Biden said he's against the idea because impeachment proceedings would paralyze Congress and take the nation's focus off other, more important matters. But he has a pretty stunning Plan B.

The alternative, and it's taken me time to think through, I think we should be acquiring and accumulating all the data that is appropriate for possibly bringing criminal charges against members of this administration at a later date.

Somebody call Elizabeth de la Vega! She's already made the case.

Oh, and you can put to rest those rumors that Biden, who is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of Washington's most informed foreign policy experts, is campaigning in order to be named Secretary of State.

I promise you, I don't want to be secretary of State.

Clear enough? He's also a longtime member of the Judiciary Committee, so maybe instead of running State, Biden can be in charge of those criminal prosecutions.

Newspapers 'Pay It Forward'

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 8:21 PM EDT

Minneapolis has been on the minds of many since the devastating events of last week. But being on people's minds wasn't enough for some; one newspaper took it a step further. The Roanoke Times, a Virginia newspaper, sent a snack bundle including pork rinds, cupcakes, and other "delicacies" to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week.

But this isn't the first instance of this type of dogoodery among media cohorts. It appears the tradition began with the Oklahoman, which sent the Roanoke Times a similar box after the Virginia Tech massacre. The Oklahoman staff obviously understands the stresses placed upon local publications when disaster strikes an area, having lived through the Oklahoma City bombing. Looks like the Roanoke Times is just paying it forward.

—Anna Weggel

Pearl Jam Lollapalooza Webcast Censored

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 7:09 PM EDT

mojo-photo-pearljam.jpg
Pearl Jam have released a statement on their website saying that certain political content was cut from the AT&T "Blue Room" live webcast of their performance at Lollapalooza on Sunday night. Fans informed the band of the missing content.

At live shows, lead singer Eddie Vedder often replaces or changes certain phrases in their songs; in this instance, during an extended rendition of "Daughter," he sang the lines "George Bush, leave this world alone," and "George Bush, find yourself another home," to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." Both lines were excised from the webcast.

When contacted, AT&T confirmed the editing, calling it a mistake. A representative told CMJ the cuts were "an unfortunate mistake made by a webcast editor." Pearl Jam responded by saying, "This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media." The band plan to post the uncut performance on their website soon.

Turkey, Iraq Unite in Opposition to PKK

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 5:47 PM EDT

I've written recently (here and here) about rumors that the Turkish military may be preparing to go after PKK fighters based in Iraqi Kurdistan. The latest news is that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have signed an agreement to take on PKK forces based in northern Iraq's remote Kandil Mountains, near the Iranian border. As Maliki told a gathering of reporters in Ankara:

We found a mutual understanding with the Turkish side about the need to co-operate to confront the activities of all terrorist organisations in Iraq, including the PKK... There was agreement to unite our joint efforts to find a solution that will end, eliminate, and cancel [the PKK's] presence on Iraqi territory through shared action by both parties.

So, is it really going to be that easy? Should we write off the PKK altogether? Nope, not according to Time's Andrew Lee Butters in Beirut. You can read his thoughts here.

Ancient Frozen Microbes Return To Life

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 4:16 PM EDT

The DNA of ancient microorganisms frozen in glaciers has the ability to return to life as the glaciers melt. A paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by scientists who melted five samples of ice ranging in age from 100,000 to 8 million years old found many microorganisms trapped inside. The younger ice contained more lifeforms, which grew fast when cultured, doubling every couple of days. By contrast, the microorganisms from the oldest ice samples grew slowly, doubling only every 70 days. The researchers calculated a DNA half-life of 1.1 million years in Antarctic ice, and warned that as warming melts the glaciers, the revived DNA could fuel a new wave of bacterial evolution. . . Blimey. Will nature's cryogenesis be the end of us? JULIA WHITTY

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Blog Party

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 4:09 PM EDT

mojo-photo-sharks.JPG

The platform: more clicks, less schtick!

  • Researchers attempt to encourage breeding in captive sharks by playing them music. Justin Timberlake turns them on; Britney Spears, not so much. (Towleroad)
  • Courtney Love says crazy stuff on her MySpace page! I know, can you believe it? This time it's about, er, cupcakes. (Defamer)
  • Idolator offers the first installment of its Top 100 Greatest R&B Songs Ever, complete with videos. Hey look: "Oh Sheila!" (Idolator)
  • I know I just posted a link to an Alan McGee rant, but he's just so adorably ornery! This week: bands that were over-hyped. (UK Guardian Music Blog)
  • Coral Reefs Disappearing Twice As Fast As Rainforests

    | Wed Aug. 8, 2007 3:43 PM EDT

    Corals in the central and western Pacific Ocean are dying faster than previously thought. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have found nearly 600 square miles of reef have disappeared per year since the late 1960s, twice the rate of rainforest loss. The reefs are now disappearing at a rate of one percent per year, a decline that began decades earlier than expected. Historically, coral cover, a measure of reef health, hovered around 50 percent. Today, only about 2 percent of reefs in the Indo-Pacific have coral cover close to the historical baseline. "We have already lost half of the world's reef-building corals," said John Bruno, author of the study published in the online journal PLoS One. The Indo-Pacific contains 75 percent of the world's coral reefs and has the highest coral diversity in the world.

    One of the most surprising results of the study was that coral cover was similar between reefs maintained by conservationists and unprotected reefs. This consistent pattern of decline across the entire Indo-Pacific indicates that coral loss is a global phenomenon, likely due in part to large-scale stressors such as climate change. . . Check out this video from the Philippines to see how climate change is adding to their reef problems. JULIA WHITTY

    Knitting Meets Science

    | Wed Aug. 8, 2007 3:10 PM EDT

    How cool is this? Way more fun than stocking caps. JULIA WHITTY

    How To Save Earth's Disappearing Topsoil & Store Carbon Too

    | Wed Aug. 8, 2007 2:40 PM EDT

    Ploughs and a rapidly growing world population are combining to deplete the Earth's soil supply. A new study from the University of Washington finds that long-established farm practices appear to increase soil erosion 10 to 100 more than the rate at which soil is created. The good news is there is a solution. No-till agriculture eliminates ploughing, instead mixing the crop stubble with the top layer of soil using a method called disking. Study author David Montgomery notes that as oil becomes more expensive and less available, preserving soil fertility through no-till farming becomes even more important, since it requires less fertilizer and many fewer passes with a tractor. No-till farming could also prove a major benefit in a warming climate by increasing organic matter in soil, and as much as tripling its carbon content in less than 15 years. More carbon in the ground means less in the air.

    "If all farms on the planet were converted to no-till, the range of estimates for sequestered carbon runs from 10 percent of current carbon emissions to about half," says Montgomery. In his book, "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations," Montgomery links the demise of history's major civilizations to how long it took them to deplete their soil supply. . . That's why that organic cheese and tomato sandwich on whole organic wheat bread you're munching is only good for you (in the short term) and not for the planet unless the components are also sustainably farmed. JULIA WHITTY