Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thursday Mashup (11/5/09)

  • Well, I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised by this New York Times story, which tells us the following…

    …Disney is taking the risky step of re-imagining (Mickey Mouse) for the future.

    The first glimmer of this will be the introduction next year of a new video game, Epic Mickey, in which the formerly squeaky clean character can be cantankerous and cunning, as well as heroic, as he traverses a forbidding wasteland.

    …Disney has quietly embarked on an even larger project to rethink the character’s personality, from the way Mickey walks and talks to the way he appears on the Disney Channel and how children interact with him on the Web — even what his house looks like at Disney World.

    “Holy cow, the opportunity to mess with one of the most recognizable icons on Planet Earth,” said Warren Spector, the creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer that spearheaded Epic Mickey.
    And given Disney’s recent agreement with Marvel, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Jonas Brothers appear in concert in “Spider-Man 4” (I heard a month or so ago that a script was in development), Storm of “X-Men” shows up in a “very special” episode of “Hannah Montana” to help the teenage heartthrob with “coming of age” issues, and some threatening but ethnically neutral (re., primarily Caucasian) street punks invade “The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody” before the perpetually annoying, talentless but handsome pre-adolescents are saved in a guest appearance by “Iron Man” (hey, it’s all about multi-platform marketing, baby!).

    If anything, I expected the Marvel world to get the edges of its characters kind of evened out a bit so they could be more palatable to the white-bread Disney archetype, but if the price for leaving them alone means turning Mickey and company into characters out of “Mad Max,” I’ll take that trade.

    And by the way, am I the only one who is scratching his or her head over the fact that the Times thought that this was a legitimate front-page story for their print edition?

  • Also, Repug U.S. House Rep Rob Bishop of Utah tells us the following from The Hill here (the pic will make sense at the end)…

    The Obama Administration continues to play politics with our energy future. Evidence of this fact is the recent cancellation of 77 oil and gas leases in Utah, delayed access to the Outer Continental Shelf, blocked mineral leases, new restrictive oil shale mandates and the consideration of costly taxes on U.S. energy producers and consumers.

    Instead of focusing on special-interest solutions emanating from Washington, we should look to the hard-working American people for solutions to our nation’s energy and jobs crises. It is the American people, not government bureaucrats, who will develop new and innovative energy technologies. From the Silicon Valley to Manhattan, emerging technologies are revitalizing energy production. However, these new technologies are worthless without the ability to access our abundant domestic resources.

    As we stand at the crossroads of what seems to be a future of bleak jobs, leaders in Washington are looking to implement costly and destructive policies that hinder, not help in economic and job recovery. The same lands that once brought good fortune and prosperity to early pioneer families can provide that same relief once again in the form of new jobs and greater energy independence. However, this will only be possible if federal bureaucrats and special-interest groups get out of the way and allow American ingenuity to flourish.
    “A future of bleak jobs,” huh? Sounds to me like that sentence needed a copy edit (just a guess).

    And as far as Bishop’s supposed concern for those “bleak jobs,” this Salt Lake City Tribune story tells us the following…

    All four of Utah's Republicans in Congress voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year, and all of them then used congressional stationary in an attempt to nab stimulus cash for the state. Utah's lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted for the stimulus, also sought funds in letters to federal departments.
    Also, the Sun News tells us the following (here)…

    (Salazar) withdrew the leases of (the) 77 oil and gas parcels, or 130,000 acres (in Utah's wild red-rock country near Arches and Canyonlands national parks). The leases were also near Dinosaur National Monument and Nine Mile Canyon, an area with prehistoric rock art. Salazar said that the auction Dec. 19 took place without a proper environmental review and consultation with the National Park Service.

    Salazar said the department would reconsider the leases and decide whether they were appropriate. It's possible that "a very large portion" of the land could be put up for lease, he said.

    The cancellation of the leases was one of the first actions that the Obama administration has taken to protect environmentally sensitive public lands. Salazar called it "an important first step to making sure we have the right balance between development of our resources and protection of our environment."

    Actor Robert Redford said in a statement that Salazar's announcement was "a sign that after eight long years of rapacious greed and backdoor dealings, our government is returning a sense of balance to the way it manages our lands" and added: "American citizens once again have a say in the fate of their public lands, which in this case happen to be some of the last pristine places on Earth."
    And as noted here from a couple of weeks ago…

    Salazar is asking for an investigation of an 11th-hour Bush administration change to oil shale leases in Utah and Colorado that he says may be illegal.

    At the same time, Salazar says he's opening a second, more rigidly controlled round of leases for companies trying to find a commercially feasible way to produce synthetic fuel from oil shale in the Rocky Mountain region.

    Salazar on Tuesday sent a letter to Interior's inspector general asking for a probe into changes President George W. Bush's Interior Department made to six existing leases -- including one in Utah -- that Salazar says greatly benefited the leaseholders at the expense of taxpayers.
    Also, this Source Watch article on Bishop tells us that he favors the “wise use” of natural resources, which sounds benign enough, until you find out that the so-called “wise use” movement is…

    “…often funded by timber, mining, and chemical companies. In return, they claim, loudly, that the well-documented hole in the ozone layer doesn't exist, that carcinogenic chemicals in the air and water don't harm anyone, and that trees won't grow properly unless forests are clear-cut, with government subsidies. Wise Use proponents were buffeted by Bush's defeat and by media exposure of the movement's founders' connections to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church network (tainted by charges of cultism and theocratic neo-fascism), but the movement has quickly rebounded. In every state of the US, relentless Wise Use disinformation campaigns about the purpose and meaning of environmental laws are building a grassroots constituency. To Wise Users, environmentalists are pagans, eco-nazis, and communists who must be fought with shouts and threats."
    Oh, and Congressman Bishop is a pal of the teabaggers also, as noted here (and pictured above…wonder how many of Bishop’s teabaggin’ fans took time off from their “bleak jobs” to attend this little Bund rally today? And such lovely signs too…).

  • Finally, Tony Blankley of the Moonie Times imagined a big media conspiracy here (and naturally, the source is all of that “Chicago-style politics” of the Obama Administration)…

    Not so long ago, there was a furious fight between different tribes in the White House, the CIA and the State and Defense departments over the correct war-fighting strategy. The coin of the realm back then was intelligence: Intelligence that pointed in the right policy direction was cherry-picked and shown to the public; covert players connected to undesirable conclusions were outed or disparaged. This fight for the hearts and minds of Washington opinion shapers was fought out on the battlefields of the Washington Post and the New York Times -- and from them to the networks and news outlets across the country and around the world.

    These descriptions may remind you of Valerie Plame -- a CIA operations officer with relatively minor responsibilities who was outed by someone in the George W. Bush administration.

    Well, last week the Times again published on the front page the name of a purported CIA-paid undercover asset. This time it was none other than Ahmed Wali Karzai, the powerful brother of the Afghan president. This time the Times cited, on background, Obama administration "political officials," "senior administration officials" and others as their sources to the effect that Mr. Karzai has been secretly on the CIA payroll for eight years and has been helping the United States with intelligence, logistic and base support for our Special Forces, recruiting and running an Afghan paramilitary force on the instruction of the CIA -- as well as being a major narcotics trafficker.
    This Wikipedia article tells us the following about Plame…

    Due to the nature of her clandestine work for the CIA, many details about Plame's professional career are still classified, but it is documented that she worked for the CIA in a clandestine capacity relating to counter-proliferation.[9][12][13][14]

    Plame served the CIA as a non-official cover (or NOC), operating undercover in (at least) two positions in Athens and Brussels.[15] While using her own name, "Valerie Plame", her assignments required posing in various professional roles in order to gather intelligence more effectively.[16][17][18] Two of her covers include serving as a junior consular officer in the early 1990s in Athens and then later an energy analyst for the private company (founded in 1994) "Brewster Jennings & Associates," which the CIA later acknowledged was a front company for certain investigations.[19]

    She married Wilson in 1998 and gave birth to their twins in 2000,[21] and resumed travel overseas in 2001, 2002, and 2003 as part of her cover job. She met with workers in the nuclear industry, cultivated sources, and managed spies.[22] Part of her work involved ensuring that Iran did not acquire nuclear weapons.[23]

    Part of her work during this time was concerned with determining the use of aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq.[24] CIA analysts prior to the Iraq invasion were quoted by the White House as believing that Iraq was trying to acquire nuclear weapons and that these aluminum tubes could be used in a centrifuge for nuclear enrichment.[25][26] However, David Corn and Michael Isikoff argued that the undercover work being done by Mrs. Wilson and her CIA colleagues in the Directorate of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center strongly contradicted such a claim.[24]
    So basically, what Plame did was to track loose nukes, and to employ at least two different aliases in doing so (which Blankley considers as “relatively minor responsibilities”).

    And he somehow sees an equivalency between Plame, a true patriot who no doubt risked her life untold times in the course of doing her job, and Ahmed Wali Karzai, who Blankley plainly admits is a “major narcotics trafficker,” as noted here.

    Truly, words fail me.
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