November 19, 2010

Just after Sept. 11, 2001, many governments began investigations into possible insider trading related to the terrorist attacks of that day. Such investigations were initiated by the governments of Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States and others. Although the investigators were clearly concerned about insider trading, and considerable evidence did exist, none of the investigations resulted in a single indictment. That’s because the people identified as having been involved in the suspect trades were seen as unlikely to have been associated with those alleged to have committed the 9/11 crimes.

November 18, 2010

The final blow to the I-69 opposition was almost too poetic to be believed. Mark Kruzan standing over the victim, hiding one hand behind his back while imploring the community to believe he didn't do it, that he really meant all those things he said the past two decades. The next day, according to the Indiana Daily Student, the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) gave him an award for his "courageous stand on I-69."
"Enjoy your Interstate Bloomington."
That juxtaposition of events says it all, so this is the last time I will write Interstate 69 on these pages. But for the record, the opposition asked many times, and both I and former HEC director Jeff Stant told and showed them what they had to do to have any chance whatsoever to stop the I-69 boondoggle.

Enjoy your Interstate Bloomington. I suggest you call it the "Mark Kruzan Memorial Highway," in memory of the beautiful community his failed leadership left behind. (Actually, it should be broken up in three segments, with the other two dedicated to John Fernandez and Vi Simpson, who are equally culpable for this community disaster.)

It's been an epic 20-year journey. The Bloomington Alternative has now signed off on I-69.

November 18, 2010

On Wednesday Nov. 3, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) conducted a hearing on the continued need for Duke Energy’s coal gasification plant currently under construction at Edwardsport, Ind. The plant is way off its original price tag of $1.2 billion. The cost is now close to $3 billion and counting.

Indiana’s consumer counselor, David Stippler, stated at the hearing that, for economic development purposes and the use of Indiana coal, it would be a “sin” not to complete construction of the plant and use our “God-given” resource, Indiana coal.

November 13, 2010

Update: At 6:23 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan responded to this article and declined my interview requests. "Given that you've already reached a conclusion for your article, it doesn't seem necessary to do an interview," he wrote. He sent me a link to the MPO meeting referenced below.

I believe that when an elected public official betrays his or her oft-repeated public positions as brazenly as Mark Kruzan did with his MPO vote with INDOT and I-69 proponents, he or she has a responsibility to explain that contradiction with more than sound bites and prepared defense speeches. Every other elected public official from Bloomington and Monroe County on the MPO voted "No."

I reiterated my interview request and assured the mayor that I would videotape and post the entire conversation, unedited, on the Alternative Web site so his constituents can judge his performance for themselves. - sh

November 12, 2010

The election results are in and, as expected, Democrats took it on the chin. It remains to be seen how the historic gains made by Republicans -- and their Tea Party doppelgaengers -- will play out in the next session of Congress. But as one of MTV's memorable characters put it some years ago, "I've got a bad feeling about this Butthead."

In the meantime, it might be worthwhile to consider a few stories that got spun, overlooked, or just plain ignored amid the deluge of news, analysis and opinion coming out of the 2010 midterm elections. Here, then, in no particular order, are five stories that deserve a closer look.

November 10, 2010

Two visions of the future collided on the doorstep of my Indiana town, Bloomington, this past week. Imagine one as a bicycle rider on a rails-to-trails bikeway, the other a semi-trailer truck hurtling down an interstate. Imagine which one came out the winner.

Nestled into rolling land an hour south of Indianapolis, Bloomington -- home of Indiana University -- has declared itself a Transition Town, on the road to a sustainable future. We have a Peak Oil Task Force, a Commission on Sustainability, an Environmental Commission, and a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission. We have a volunteer-run Center for Sustainable Living with green transportation, garden, building and energy projects. We have three co-op grocery stores, a Local Growers Guild, and a thriving farmers' market in summer and winter. We have bike and pedestrian paths, one of them right through the center of town.

What we do not have is an interstate highway.

November 10, 2010

In March 2002, Palestinian-American activist Edward Said wrote in CounterPunch, "That pseudo-pundit -- the insufferably conceited Thomas Friedman -- still has the gall to say that 'Arab TV' shows one-sided pictures, as if 'Arab TV' should be showing things from Israel's point-of-view the way CNN does, with 'Mid-East violence' the catch-all word for the ethnic cleansing that Israel is wreaking on the Palestinians in their ghettoes and camps."

Indeed, Friedman has made a career of blaming the victim, and he stayed true to form during a Nov. 4 speech at the IU Auditorium when he explained why the United States is in economic distress. Using a Power Point, the New York Times columnist and author explained his "I'll be gone/You'll be gone" theory, blaming "people who make $50,000 a year purchasing an $800,000 home."

November 10, 2010

News Release
Citizens Action Coalition, Save the Valley
Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, Valley Watch

Yesterday's firings by Duke Energy of President Michael W. Reed and staff attorney Scott Storms raise serious questions about what was uncovered by Duke in its internal investigations pertaining to the ongoing ethics scandal. On Nov. 5, 2010, Duke President James Rogers stated before the IURC that if any misconduct was discovered, his company would take "decisive and appropriate actions."

"Clearly the decision to terminate Mr. Reed was 'decisive,'" said Richard Hill, president of Save the Valley. "Something was revealed in the course of these investigations to also characterize the termination as 'appropriate.' The unanswered question is: What was it?"

November 8, 2010

Wendell Berry will be in Bloomington Nov. 9-11 to read from his work and participate in a discussion with Wes Jackson and Scott Russell Sanders as part of the Patten Lecture series. Berry spoke with Thomas P. Healy from his northern Kentucky farm prior to the November elections.


TPH: You're going to be giving the Patten Lecture in Bloomington, and I wanted to see if you'd given any thought to what you'd be discussing in that lecture.

WB: To tell you the truth, I haven't. There are a number of possibilities, I'm not going to write a lecture, I've already told them that, and I may be reading a piece of fiction. I just don't know.

October 30, 2010

This year’s campaign season has been more bizarre than usual. From the manufactured controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and Christine O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” ad to Barack Obama’s “Yes we can, but” moment on The Daily Show, it’s been a long, strange trip.

With a tip of the hat to the Tea Party, and the journalists and pundits who love them, here are a few thoughts on the intersection of media, politics and culture on the eve of Decision 2010.

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