Blogs

Green Goods: Sprig Makes Consumerism (Almost) Guilt-Free

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 8:08 PM EDT

HILO_gravyboat.jpgTo anyone who's browsed the "green" issues of Domino and Dwell, it's no surprise that you can now buy beautifully designed, environmentally sound products that don't involve hemp. For those with a modern aesthetic, the new Sprig.com offers a plethora of elegant glasses, aprons, drawer pulls, and other must-have accessories for the stylish environmentalist.

Sprig was created by the Washington Post folks, back in April, but its staff has a solid history working for high-end, consumerist glossies like Vanity Fair and In Style Home and it shows in the site's design. The pretty site easily guides shoppers through categories—home, food, fashion—featuring trendy goodies from eco-friendly manufacurers, who range from the large and well known (Muji, Pottery Barn) to the gal who hand sews vintage-style aprons in her home studio.

Another key feature of the site is that it tells you exactly why each product is "green" and allows you to search by how the product helps the environment, whether it's vegan, resource-saving, sustainable, or recycled. My faves: the classic, hand-made British 28" suitcase by GlobeTrotter and the Emma Gardner fair trade, hand-knotted rug with the gold/cerulean blossom pattern.

And even their tagline aims to make green consumerism fun: Sassy People are Into Green.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Don't. Cross. Dick. Cheney.

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 6:51 PM EDT

Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Philbin didn't play by Dick's rules. He was present at John Ashcroft's hospital bed the night of March 10, 2004, as Andy Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales tried to strong-arm the woozy Ashcroft into reauthorizing the controversial warantless wiretapping program. But Philbin advised Ashcroft not to reauthorize it. Eventually, facing the threat of 8 politicized resignations, Bush and his band backed down and modified the plan to address concerns shared by Philbin, Ashcroft, and the Acting A.G., James Comey.

After Gonzales (whose initials are A.G.—isn't that nifty?) assumed the post of Attorney General, he sought to promote Philbin to Deputy Attorney General. James Comey indicated today in written Senate testimony that word came down from Cheney's office that the dark lord would oppose the promotion. "I understood that someone at the White House communicated to Attorney General [Alberto] Gonzales that the vice president would oppose the appointment if the attorney general pursued the matter," Comey wrote. "The attorney general chose not to pursue it."

At first blush, this sounds like standard tit-for-tat politics. But one of the Justice department's main functions is to advise the White House on the legality of its proposed policies. If telling them that a policy would violate the Constitution (even when bringing it into line wouldn't mean throwing it out entirely) means being blacklisted, that sends a clear signal that the White House has no interest in abiding by the terms of the 200-plus-year-old document. Not that that should come as news to anybody.

Youth Perspective on G8 Aid to Africa

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 5:35 PM EDT

Schooling efforts in parts of Africa take center stage in two recent Guardian multimedia stories on the lack of debt relief for African youth.

As Bono's One Campaign drums up support for debt cancellation, poverty relief and AIDS medication in Africa, these stories take us into the homes and daily lives of a handful of Africans.

Focused on the efforts of the British relief fund organization Oxfam, the stories critique the G8's lackluster attempts to assist the region since agreeing in 2005 to boost support to Africa by offering a close-up view of students' lives in the small village of Mali.

Children, as detailed in two stories, sit on dirt floors and don't always have pencils to write with. Water is several kilometers away by foot, and the nearest town is 10 hours by donkey. Improved schooling, Oxfam workers argue, provides much needed health education and practical skills like accounting, which would help local villagers better manage scarce resources and funds.

Sort of makes No Child Left Behind blunders look like child's play by comparison.

—Gary Moskowitz

The Perfect Storm

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 4:41 PM EDT

With our oil addiction causing climate change, wouldn't it be funny if a huge hurricane hit the oil pipelines in the desert Middle-East? It almost did. Read more on The Blue Marble.

Weird Weather Watch: Cyclone in the Middle East

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 4:29 PM EDT

oman_cyclone.jpg

Oman, a country in the Middle East, was hit by a cyclone (another name for a hurricane) yesterday, killing 23 and causing severe flooding and the evacuation of 60,000 residents. Although it was not an especially powerful storm in absolute terms, Cyclone Gonu was the strongest to hit Oman since record keeping began in 1945. That's because Oman is usually where storms limp off to die after wreaking havoc on Southeast Asia.

Iran will likely be hit today, but the storm has weakened significantly. Nonetheless, its threat to oil pipelines caused a spike in gas prices, which are already at record highs. These are the kind of ironies that global warming will continue to deliver—you get to chuckle at fossil-fueled climate change unsettling the oil market, but, in the end, high prices and 60,000 displaced people aren't really that funny.

Amnesty International Adopts Powerful Technology To Protect Darfur

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 3:27 PM EDT

Amnesty International USA is using powerful satellite cameras to monitor highly vulnerable villages in war-torn Darfur. This is the first-ever technological capability by human rights defenders to track possible targets of attack, prevent new atrocities, and save lives, says Amnesty. The human rights organization is inviting ordinary people worldwide to help protect 12 villages by visiting the Eyes on Darfur project website (www.eyesondarfur.org) and put Sudanese President al-Bashir on notice that the areas are being watched around the clock. Check it out. --JULIA WHITTY

Advertise on MotherJones.com

War Czar Says Questioning War Has Nothing to Do With Not Supporting the Troops

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 3:01 PM EDT

Testimony from war czar Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute reconfirms the fact that it is politicians, and not military men, who scream "Support the troops!" as a political attack against their enemies.

When asked about the debate over the Iraq War that has consumed Washington and the nation, Lute said at his confirmation hearing today, "I don't believe it undercuts [the troop's] morale." The troops "understand the democratic process," he said, "and, in fact, that's what we've sworn to protect and defend."

It sounds a lot like what Gen. Pace said on the subject: "As long as this Congress continues to do what it has done, which is to provide the resources for the mission, the dialogue will be the dialogue, and the troops will feel supported."

Or what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said: "I think [the troops are] sophisticated enough to understand that that's what the debate's really about."

Of course they are. The troops, after all, debate the merit of the war as much or more than anyone else. They know the same thing goes on at home, and that the mere existence of debate doesn't mean liberals somewhere want them to die. To assume otherwise is an insult to their intelligence.

So who's doing the insulting? Republicans in Congress like House Minority Leader John Boehner, who said, "Think about the message we have sent them... We have undermined their efforts, lowered their morale, and clearly sent the wrong message." Or John McCain, who said, "if we voice disapproval and send our young troops on their way... what message does it send to the troops? That we disapprove of what they're doing but we still support them, but not their mission?"

Or the dark lord himself, Dick Cheney, who said straight up that questioning the war is "detrimental to our troops." I suggest the vice president fact-check that with his generals, his Secretary of Defense, or any one of the troops fighting on the ground.

Think Progress has video of Lute's testimony.

Point System in Immigration Bill Survives Near Miss from Obama

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 2:13 PM EDT

The point system we've discussed at length here on MoJoBlog almost suffered the same fate as the guest worker program. Late last night, Barack Obama introduced an amendment to sunset the problematic point system after five years instead of the current 14, a move that infuriated the bill's sponsors and never quite mustered the support to pass. So in a 55-42 vote, the point system that will radically change the face of America's immigrant population remains as is.

Orange, Yellow, and Read All Over

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 1:28 PM EDT
adichie_165.gif

29-year old Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just won Britain's Orange Prize for her novel Half of a Yellow Sun. Rina Palta interviewed Adichie for Mother Jones last October; she also gave the novel a big thumbs up—"a great read... without the oppressive symbolism or exoticism common to novels by young authors from so-called third world countries."

Immigration Bill Endangered by Guest Worker Change

| Thu Jun. 7, 2007 1:04 PM EDT

Just after midnight this morning, the Senate passed an amendment to the immigration bill that would sunset the guest worker program after five years. Though the sponsors of the bill had been successful in deflecting a number of amendments, some intended to drastically reshape the bill, others intended to kill it outright, they weren't able to stop a bipartisan coalition of senators from adding the sunset to the bill. Dems don't like the guest worker program because it creates an underclass of laborers with few rights that drag down wages for low-income American workers; anti-immigration Republicans don't like it because it gives more immigrants a legal place in the country. Pro-business Republicans love the thing for obvious reasons, and composed the bulk of the amendment's opposition.

Senators are discussing this amendment like it might strangle the bill, which means that the speculation that the guest worker program would be the most contentious part of the bill was correct.