Mojo - July 2007

The Power of Wind Energy

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 7:35 PM EDT

This Friday, the House is voting on bill H.R. 969, including the Udall-Platts Amendment that will require more of our electricity to come from renewable power sources like wind. In addition to creating jobs, the amendment is designed to keep electricity bills low, reduce our dependence on sources of power that aren't created in the U.S., and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Check it out.

Big oil & coal are fighting it. Fight them. Renewables are good for all stakeholders on planet Earth. JULIA WHITTY

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Finally Some Progress on Darfur

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 4:05 PM EDT

Reuters is reporting that the United Nations Security Council has authorized 26,000 peacekeepers for Sudan's Darfur region. Member countries will have 30 days to decide how many troops and police they will be contributing to the mission (American ground troops seem unlikely). The unanimous vote came only after the peacekeepers' mandate had been watered down several times, but this is unmistakably progress:

The resolution allows the use of force in self-defense, to ensure freedom of movement for humanitarian workers and to protect civilians under attack.

Language that allowed confiscating illegal weapons would have been nice, but being able to act to protect civilians under attack is what is most important. And while 26,000 blue hats probably isn't enough to stop the widespread killing in Darfur, it's a lot better than 7,000 African Union troops. It's a sign that the international community is finally starting to move on this issue. It's a start. We can be grateful for that.

— Nick Baumann

Dep't of See to Believe: Professionally Enraged Man in Every Press Photo Ever

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 2:25 PM EDT

Okay, I can't vouch for this site, but it seems to have found an omnipresent Islamic protester who is very angry and has a knack for finding the camera. It's literally the same dude in tons of different photos. Take a second and make your day.

Lock Him Up Already: Second Ted Stevens Investigation Underway

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 2:01 PM EDT

When Ted Stevens (R-Corruption) isn't busy getting his home raided by the FBI and the IRS due to a possibly illegal sweetheart deal he got when an Alaskan oil company remodeled his house for him, he's landing earmarks that (possibly illegally) enrich his former aide and his son's current business partner. Now — who'da thunk it? — he's getting investigated for that, too. For more info, see Think Progress.

Also, CREW thinks it's a good idea if the most egregious mishandler of cash in Washington isn't sitting on the committee that doles out all the cash. They're calling for Stevens to lose his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. (He's also the ranking member on the Commerce Committee.) No one thought of this earlier?

New Job for Justice's No. 2.

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 10:00 AM EDT

Former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, whose testimony this past spring that the US attorneys had been fired because of poor performance helped open the can of worms at the Justice Department, has found a new job. Roll Call reports that McNulty will become a partner starting September 1 at Baker & McKenzie. Specialties? How about defending administration official clients being investigated for perjury, politicizing federal agencies civil services, violations of the Hatch Act, with a smidgen of obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress defendees thrown in?

(Via TPMm.)

Iraq: Yes, It's As Bad As You Think

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 8:55 AM EDT

There's a lot of talk lately about how the Iraq troop "surge" is working and how, at long last, we may finally be close to turning a corner in the struggle to stabilize the country. I call bullshit. (So does George Packer.) Isn't this the sort of self-serving delusion that got us in there in the first place? No? Well, take a look at this report released yesterday by Oxfam International and the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI), a consortium of non-governmental organizations. From the report's executive summary:

Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care, education, and employment. Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 per cent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 per cent in 2004.
Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from 'absolute poverty'. According to some estimates, over half the population are now without work. Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 per cent now.
The situation is particularly hard for families driven from their homes by violence. The two million internally displaced people (IDPs) have no incomes to rely on and are running out of coping mechanisms. In 2006, 32 per cent of IDPs had no access to PDS food rations, while 51 per cent reported receiving food rations only sometimes.
The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003, while 80 per cent lack effective sanitation. The 'brain drain' that Iraq is experiencing is further stretching already inadequate public services, as thousands of medical staff, teachers, water engineers, and other professionals are forced to leave the country. At the end of 2006, perhaps 40 per cent had left already.

It's highly unlikely that any meaningful corners can be turned in Iraq until the population's basic needs are met. Yes, lack of security is the primary reason for the lag, but aren't we responsible for that, too? For those of you who missed it, NPR's "On Point" aired an interview with filmmaker Charles Ferguson, whose documentary, "No End in Sight: The Occupation of Iraq," won a special jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It opened in theaters last Friday. You may think you've heard it all before, but you haven't. Take a listen.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Classically-Trained Hipsters Release New Album

| Mon Jul. 30, 2007 9:20 PM EDT

The world-renowned "little orchestra" known as Pink Martini recently released their third album, and it's damn good.

What started out as a a quintet playing fundraisers for causes such as affordable housing and public broadcasting in 1994 is now a 12-piece ensemble that tours the world as Portland, Oregon's "international ambassador of culture."

Check out Mother Jones' review of their new material on the Arts and Culture page.

Breaking: Sen. Ted Stevens' House Raided by FBI, IRS

| Mon Jul. 30, 2007 8:58 PM EDT

My oh my, look what I found on the series of tubes.

The FBI and IRS have searched the home of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in a ski resort in Alaska as part of an investigation into his links with an oil-services company, officials said on Monday.

Stevens, probably the biggest porker in Congress, once threatened to resign when the Senate challenged a frivolous Alaskan earmark in order to help rebuild New Orleans after Katrina, so it's not like anyone will miss this guy if he ends up getting taken down. But that won't happen if the hulk tie has anything to do with it.

For background on the Stevens scandal, see TPMtv.

Iraqi Soccer Captain: "I Want America to Go Out"

| Mon Jul. 30, 2007 2:08 PM EDT

To build on Elizabeth's post below, the captain of the victorious Iraqi soccer team isn't terribly happy with the American presence in his country.

Iraq's 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation.
"I want America to go out," he said. "Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn't invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon."

Reminds me of when the Iraqi Olympic team rebuffed the president's attempts to use it in campaign commercials.

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," [Iraqi midfielder Salih] Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."
Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."
[snip]
They also find it offensive that Bush is using Iraq for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"
At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."

The article, originally from Sports Illustrated in 2004, is well worth a read.

Victory in Iraq!

| Mon Jul. 30, 2007 10:53 AM EDT

(And not a doping scandal to be found.)

Okay, so not in Iraq, but for Iraq, and the unity was short-lived, but still. Duct tape and soccer, they hold this crazy world together.