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Green Porno: Are You Ready?

| Thu May 8, 2008 1:06 AM EDT

green-porno.jpgThere's green lotion, green clothing lines, and even green sex toys. So why not the natural next step, green porn? The Sundance Channel is now hosting "green porno videos" on its website. But lest you think green porn means watching Laurie David and Al Gore getting hot and heavy whilst discussing the Kyoto Protocol, it's not. And thank goodness for that. Instead, it's Isabella Rossellini dressed up as snails, bees, and praying mantids to show how animals mate. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes horrifyingly graphic, you just have to see it for yourself. Visit the official "green porno" site here.

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MoJo Nukes Convo: Stewart Brand's Take

| Wed May 7, 2008 10:13 PM EDT

brand-headshot.pngStewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, is a futurist with Global Business Network and works half-time as president of The Long Now Foundation. Brand looks toward the future on nuclear power, musing that we'll likely increase nuclear power to become more like France (which gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear) or phase it out in favor of better methods. Of course, Stewart writes, the whole nukes debate "could seem irrelevant in the face of drastic climate events forcing huge-scale geo-engineering."

Below are a few of Brand's choice comments from the MoJo online nukes conversation:
"The problem is not that nuclear is expensive. The problem is that coal is cheap."

Music: Million DJ March to Unite Annoying, Headphone-Wearing Dorks

| Wed May 7, 2008 9:47 PM EDT

mojo-photo-milliondj.gifThis can't be serious. Eminem associate DJ Green Lantern and mixtape empresario A. Shaw have just announced The Million DJ March, a series of activities and rallies in support of the good old disk jockey, to be held August 28-30 in Washington D.C. Wait a minute, I'm a DJ. Why do I need to rally? Well, in a press release, Shaw alleges that "DJs do not get fully recognized for the work they do… Label and major businesses who reap the rewards of default publicity need to pay attention and give more recognition and financial compensation to DJs for the promotion they provide, without which music sales would surely suffer." Well, okay, yes, we play music, people should be happy we do that. Hooray us. But why all this marching? The press release continues:

DJs… are often harassed and legally penalized for their promotional efforts even when those efforts have been solicited directly by the labels and artists themselves: an arrangement that is known about throughout the industry but kept "on the low."

Hmm, harassment and legal penalties. Are you talking about what happens when you sell thousands and thousands of unauthorized mixtape CDs out of the back of your car?

After the jump: hey, I pressed "play," that'll be $25,000.

Voters Shut Out of Indiana Primary Will Have to Appeal to Higher Authority

| Wed May 7, 2008 5:57 PM EDT

I hope someone informs the Supreme Court's mostly Catholic majority that their recent decision to uphold Indiana's voter ID law prevented a convent full of elderly and disabled nuns from casting a vote in yesterday's Democratic primary. In its decision, the court insisted the state had a legitimate interest in depriving lots of people of their right to vote because it would deter phantom fraudsters, even though the state has never had a single documented case of voter impersonation fraud. Clearly, the justices hadn't anticipated the sisters, who don't drive and didn't have much need of ID in the convent. Now shut out of court and the voting booth, the Indiana brides of Christ will have to appeal to God for a remedy.

Burma: Dispatches From a Nightmare

| Wed May 7, 2008 4:13 PM EDT

In the wake of the devastation left by Cyclone Nargis in Burma, "huge sections of the Irrawaddy Delta lie cut off from the outside world," writes Paul Danahar for the BBC in Southern Burma. "Monks are leading the cleaning-up process in the residential areas," says one blogger in Rangoon. "No electricity means no water; a real crisis, and people don't know whether to pray for rain (no roofs) or not for water."

Below, more excerpts from this week's world press coverage of the crisis.

Burma, burmadigest in Burma Digest blog:

Yangon is Ground Zero; there are no more big trees left…Army Battalion no. 11, 22 and 77 are clearing the big roads. Otherwise, it's mostly kohtu kohta (self-help). Monks are leading the cleaning-up process in the residential areas…

No electricity means no water; a real crisis, and people don't know whether to pray for rain (no roofs) or not for water…People are using water from Inya Lake….

Petrol was 10,000 kyats to the gallon yesterday (maybe less today, because the govt. petrol pumps are selling petrol today). Candles have gone up from 100 to 300 kyats for a medium-sized candle; chicken is 10,000 kyats to the viss; eggs are 280 kyats (100% increase); pebyoke (baked beans) is 400 kyats for 10 ticals (doubled price)…

Tin roofing has gone up from 5000 to 30,000 kyats. General labourers are charging 7000 kyats per day just to drag logs away…

Rangoon has gone backwards 20 years.

"Merchant of Death" Indicted in U.S. Federal Court

| Wed May 7, 2008 3:51 PM EDT

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It was just over two months ago that Viktor Bout, the elusive Russian arms trafficker, was jailed in Thailand after being felled by a months-long DEA sting operation. He remains in a Bangkok prison, pending extradition to the United States, where (short of a plea agreement) he will most likely face federal prosecution in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Yesterday, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia and Acting DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart unsealed the federal indictment (.pdf) against Bout, charging him with four counts of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism.

An excerpt from the press release announcing the indictment:

Between November 2007 and March 2008, Bout agreed to sell to the FARC millions of dollars' worth of weapons—including surface-to-air missile systems ("SAMs"), armor piercing rocket launchers, AK-47 firearms, millions of rounds of ammunition, Russian spare parts for rifles, anti-personnel land mines, C-4 plastic explosives, night-vision equipment, "ultralight" airplanes that could be outfitted with grenade launchers and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Bout agreed to sell the weapons to two confidential sources working with the DEA (the "CSs"), who represented that they were acquiring these weapons for the FARC, with specific understanding that the weapons were to be used to attack United States helicopters in Colombia...

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Breaking News: Hipsters Live in Cheap, Crappy Buildings

| Wed May 7, 2008 3:47 PM EDT

Yes, NYT trend piece fans, it's time for yet another trenchant observation: Art kids live in squalor in Brooklyn. And since everyone knows bedbug bites are like the purple heart of hipsterdom, they're totally jazzed about their tenement, known as the McKibbin:

"The community is a microcosm of artists, musicians and D.J.'s," said Kevin Farrell, who is 29 and works in video production. "You don't have to leave this building, with the exception of food. I don't really speak to the locals."

By comparison, campaign kids, who whined in the Sunday Times about having to couch surf, look pretty square:

"It's so nice to have your own space," said Erin Suhr, 32, the director of press advance for the Clinton campaign. "To come in and not have to talk to anyone, because you know they're going to want to talk about politics."
Since mid-February, Ms. Suhr has been living in Washington, in the basement apartment of Dick and Joanne Howes. Ms. Suhr has her own entrance and said she rarely sees the couple. But on a recent Monday night, Ms. Suhr appeared at their back door and the trio fell into an easy banter.

Fraternizing with the locals? She'd never make it at the McKibbin.

Myanmar's Epic Floods Seen From Space

| Wed May 7, 2008 3:17 PM EDT

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Go ahead, tell the people of Myanmar that global-warming-related superstorms aren't anything to worry about. That 100,000-plus aren't dead and 95% of the buildings in the path of Cyclone Nargis aren't demolished. These images from the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite, taken a year apart, show the extent of the flooding. Envisat's radar cut through the clouds to reveal critical Near Real Time situation on the ground. The image on the left (above) is from a year ago. The image on the right shows flooding (black areas) two days after the cyclone's passage. Accuweather reported Nargis made landfall with sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts of 150-160 mph—ramping up with frightening speed from a Category 1 to a strong Category 3 or minimal Category 4 hurricane at landfall. Not as big as they get, but combined with an 11.5-foot storm surge, about as deadly as they get.

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NASA's color images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on its Terra satellite use a combination of visible and infrared light to highlight floodwaters. Water appears blue or nearly black, vegetation bright green, bare ground tan, and clouds white or light blue. The image on the left is from approximately a month before the cyclone. In the May 5 image on the right, the entire coastal plain is flooded. Fallow agricultural areas have been especially hard hit. Yangôn, with a population of over 4 million, is surrounded by floods. Several large cities, with populations between 100,000–500,000, are also inundated. Muddy runoff colors the Gulf of Martaban turquoise.

A Step Towards Victory at the FEC

| Wed May 7, 2008 3:14 PM EDT

Yesterday, President Bush put forward a revised list of nominees for the Federal Elections Commission. As we've reported in-depth, the FEC currently only has two of its customary six commissioners, meaning the body that regulates all federal elections lacks the quorum necessary to do its job. Bush's new slate of commissioners, and the Republicans' new willingness to play ball in the confirmation process, suggests that a fully functioning FEC may be on the horizon.

Here's the deal. Formerly, the nominees were Democrat Robert Lenhard, Democrat Steven Walther, Republican David Mason (the sitting Chairman), and Republican Hans von Spakovsky (HVS). Democrat Ellen Weintraub was already sitting on the FEC. The problem with that roster was that von Spakovsky was objectionable to Democrats, who saw him as the GOP's point man on minority disenfranchisement in his previous activities. Democrats wanted to vote on each nominee individually, leading to the likely rejection of HVS and the acceptance of everyone else. Final result in the Democrats' scenario: a FEC with three Democrats and a sole Republican. The Republicans rejected the idea and said instead that all the nominees, including HVS, had to be approved together. Deadlock ensued.

Republican Primary Results of Note

| Wed May 7, 2008 2:34 PM EDT

Our friends at Reason provide a solid round-up of Republican primary races that were resolved yesterday. Some good news and some bad. Anti-war Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina, subject of a sympathetic 2006 Mother Jones cover story, beat back a challenge from a pro-war candidate.

"I think more and more Republicans are starting to understand after five years that the Iraqis need to step up and take responsibility," Jones said.
Jones retained some strong military support in his district, particularly among retired Marines and other veterans.
"We are close to the veterans and they knew it," Jones said.

On the other hand, anti-sanity Republican Dan Burton of Indiana, subject of a scathing 2008 Mother Jones blog post, topped a Republican primary challenger by seven points, a sizable victory but a much smaller one than Burton is accustomed to in primary or general elections. For more on Burton, see this 1997 MoJo piece from deep in our archives.