Saturday, April 16, 2011


Maverick Media’s Rebel News Round Up,* broadcast live at approximately 11:15 a.m. Friday on WOMM (105.9-FM/LP – The Radiator) in Burlington. Part Two.

THE QUESTION: Can the US economy be saved, or has the time come to stick a fork in it? Unfair? How about something easier? Would you rather have $50 today or $52 in a week? If you want the $50 now, you just passed up the equivalent of 200 percent interest annually.

The point is that we tend to be impatient. It’s known as hyperbolic discounting and helps explain a lot, everything from addiction to the slow response to climate change. Short-sightedness often undermines our long-term planning. One solution: rethink the question before answering. For example, Imagine you can have $52 in a week. Would you rather have $50 now? Now it probably feels like you’re losing $2 if you go for the $50.

Memorable Moment: The Civil War began 150 years ago, on April 15, 1861, with a presidential proclamation calling up 75,000 troops to put down a secessionist insurrection.

Just six weeks after Abraham Lincoln became US president in March 1861, Confederate batteries fired on Union troops stationed at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, one of seven southern states that wanted to secede from the US. The previous December, shortly after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina’s legislature had voted for secession, 169-0. Now they planned to take control of military installations within the state’s borders. Lincoln and his cabinet considered the situation an insurrection.

After 34 hours of bombardment Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. No one was killed and only a few people were injured. But during a 50-gun salute at the surrender ceremonies sparks set off an unplanned explosion and killed Daniel Hough, the first casualty of the Civil War.

Three days later, on April 15, later Lincoln issues his fateful proclamation. Two days after that, Virginia seceded, followed within 24 hours by the resignation of Robert E. Lee from the US Army. On April 19 another proclamation from Lincoln announced a blockade of US ports. The War between the States had begun.

One hundred and fifty years later states are again rebelling against federal authority, this time over issues ranging from the size of government and social wedge issues to the moral and economic bankruptcy of an empire in decline.

This has been your “Memorable Moment” for this week.  (See separate post for the full text of Lincoln’s April 15 proclamation)


Another Chernobyl  For weeks Japan delayed upgrading the crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant to the highest possible level, prompting calls for "swift and accurate" information about the true scale of the disaster. Now Japanese authorities have finally admitted that the situation constitutes a "major accident” on a par with Chernobyl. Feel better?

Tibet Crackdown  A climate of fear has deepened in the Tibetan area of Ngaba following the self-immolation and death of a young monk from the Kirti Monastery on March 16. Since then Chinese authorities have imposed a lockdown on the monastery, erected a barbed wire fence and wall, and placed armed troops inside the compound to prevent the monks from leaving and any food from getting in.

The monastery's regular programs have been cancelled and a patriotic education campaign has been launched. Sources say that two peaceful protests followed the March 16 self-immolation. The first was organized by upper middle school students, the second by people in Namda Township. The latter protest was broken up by police. Some people were severely beaten and eight were arrested. Tensions are expected to escalate further unless the crackdown is eased. No sign of international action on this ongoing human rights violation.

Inconvenient Repression   The Obama administration's rhetorical commitment to democracy — in the Middle East and elsewhere — has also come face-to-face with a serious contradiction in Honduras. The more Porfirio Lobo’s government cracks down on dissent, the more Washington scrambles to support it. This is the inconvenient truth of continued repression. The Honduran government and its US backers claim that the “free and fair” election of Lobo reestablished the constitutional order. But there was political repression and censorship during the elections. The US has also been assisting allies involved in a dirty war in the Philippines. And it chooses not to intervene in places like Yemen, Bahrain, Burma, and many more places with repressive regimes.

PS. The US said nothing when the democratically-elected president of Honduras was overthrown two years ago. It may even have been involved. Why? Because that president wanted to improve relations with Venezuela. Even after the UN demanded the president’s reinstatement, Obama refused to call it a coup. The problem: that classification would have led to a suspension of $80 million in annual US aid. Every country in the OAS – except the US – withdrew its Ambassador. The blunt message was that any moves not in favor with the US could result in presidentially-approved retaliation. Maybe that’s the real Obama Doctrine


Freaking Fracking Facts  According to Maura Stephens, a co-founder of the Coalition to Protect New York, "T. Boone Pickens has President Obama and a lot of other politicians buying into his propaganda that 'natural' gas is a clean domestic fuel. But it’s not clean, it’s filthy.

“A new study shows the entire process of high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracking – going on in places like the Marcellus shale of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and threatening New York – is as bad as or worse than coal in its greenhouse gas emissions.

"And fracking is not going to supply us with fuel. Much will be shipped overseas, where industry can get a higher price. There’s a glut of gas now, so Pickens creates a perceived need for drilling and does a hard sell on this bill to convert vehicles.

“Pickens has a lot to gain by pushing fracking. He’s bought up huge tracts of land that sit on aquifers. When fracking pollutes our water supplies, he’ll sell us bottled water. My mother would call that a sin.

"Fracking is not clean. It is not good for our country. It ruins air quality, poisons our clean, fresh water and jeopardizes our entire food supply. If we want to maintain the health of our communities and our families -- and not contribute further to the kinds of devastating climate disruptions we see with increasing frequency -- we have to stop pimping filthy fossil fuels and start investing in clean, renewable energy technologies.Otherwise we just further enrich über-wealthy marauders like Pickens who push a dirty, dangerous process that harms us all."

For more information, visit

Who are the “Beautiful People?”   People says it starts with Jennifer Lopez, named the “World's Most Beautiful Woman” by the magazine in its annual countdown. Others on the list include Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Mandy Moore, Katie Holmes, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Hudson, Dana Delany, Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Lawrence. Interesting mix, but clearly People thinks beauty is skin deep – and directly related to how willing the “beautiful” are to be photographed by People. Personally, I’d include women like Catherine Zeta Jones. She just checked herself into a mental health unit suffering from bipolar disorder. But admit it, crazy can be attractive, like lightning.

Webbies Wonders  Covering categories from art and activism to religion and weirdness, nominations for the 15th annual Webby Awards were also announced this week, pitting established media operations against tech startups, blogs and name brands.

The New Yorker, the Economist, the Onion and Wired are competing for best writing with The New York Times, which received more nominations than any other media organization. Here's to what's left of real journalism. Competitors for the news prize include the Huffington Post, New York Times, Daily Beast, Wall Street Journal and NPR. The BBC has been nominated for several awards, including best podcast.

In the best retail category, Groupon, a daily deals site, is up against LivingSocial, Zappo's, Nike Golf and a London startup called, which has recently expanded to the US. The Guardian's iPhone app is up against the New York Times, CNN, NPR and Wired for the best mobile news application; its Eyewitness app for iPad is up against tablet editions from The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Reuters and Flipboard, a social media-based aggregation app.

Video nominees includes "Haiti: Six Months On," nominated for best news and politics video, and "Saying Goodbye With My Camera," which records a father's last few months, competing in the best individual episode documentary prize category.

That’s it for Civil War Day. So, choose your weapons (and apps) carefully. Personally, I prefer a Bowie knife, with the Urban Spoon app, something good to smoke and a White Russian. Until then remember, dudes abide.

*Edited transcripts are posted after the broadcast, but don’t include extemporaneous comments and last minute changes or additions.