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Center Column Archives
Walking around San Francisco, you might have noticed bright green ads featuring cutesy witticisms about what “green is,” sponsored by the local utility monopoly PG&E. My favorite ad prominently displays a piece of cow dung with the quote “Green isn’t always pretty.” Here, PG&E isn’t too far off; for them, green is… a lie.
In the frigid Copenhagen morning of December 14, hundreds of squatters stand unflinchingly beneath visible wisps of breath. Europe’s “The Final Countdown” resonates within the historic walls of the brick building at 69 Jagtvej. Masked activists shoot fireworks from the roof as the Danish media ogle from the street below. Twenty-four years after its inception, Ungdomshuset
has officially become an illegal squat.
When Jeff Englehart, Thomas Cassidy, and Joe Hatcher joined the Army in early 2001 they were looking for a change of pace and some college money. A few months later, however, the Twin Towers were smoldering, the ‘war on terror’ was growing from their ashes, and what it meant to be a US soldier was changed dramatically. They three strangers met in the Army and soon found themselves stationed in Iraq, where they served in and around the violent Sunni Triangle from February 2004 until February 2005.
Staring off of my porch toward the river I see dozens of buildings: dilapidated, sinking into the river, being demolished, and wasting away. I scan the horizon, and through the blizzard I see a huge city, a once bustling metropolis, now eerily silent. I look down my street, and on either side are vacancies; some in bad shape but the majority are inhabitable. I stand on the porch of the biggest one I could find and smile, and then I go back inside and stoke the fire. Life is good to me, and I feel invincible. There is an old Earth First! slogan that comes to mind: “visualize industrial collapse.” Not only can I visualize it by looking out the window, but I am living here—right smack dab in the midst of it—like a king.
On January 20th the Iraqi resistance shot down a Blackhawk helicopter killing thirteen American soldiers. Three days later, just hours before Bush would give his State of the Union address, a Little Bird helicopter was shot down, killing five more Americans—but this incident didn’t make nearly the amount of news as the former. While the five men died in combat, they were not members of the US military. They were employees of Blackwater USA, the shining star in a new breed of corporation specializing in private soldiers—also known as mercenaries.
1. The Quiet Apocalypse of Rising Tides
Climate change is everywhere, and the somewhat momentous report released February 3 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that climate change is man-made, and unstoppable. The 21-page report, described as conservative by the IPCC itself, says man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are to blame for heat waves, floods and heavy rains, droughts and stronger storms (particularly in the Atlantic Ocean), melting ice-caps and raising sea-levels.