All That Glitters
Well, she did it. The woman from Alaska who stole the attention of America with a bid for the Vice-Presidency, has once again turned the media lights and cameras her way with a book mainly produced by a ghost writer, but already destined to become a best seller. While she enlightens the world with such statements as, “if God didn’t want us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them out of meat”, and assures the public she prays for her grandson, Levi Johnston, who has also found ample means of capitalizing on celebrity worship, the American viewers forget for awhile their common struggle to overcome a widening recession, and unite in their fascination; whether it be negative or positive; for Sarah Palin. Not even Ted Stevens, who was a major influence in the White House for over fifty years, engineered the proposal to make Alaska a state, heralded in the pipeline, and was the Senate Majority leader for over twenty years, has drawn as much attention as an Alaskan figure, as ex-governor Palin. Now, with her photo in every newspaper and magazine, tweaked into every talk show on the air waves, she has even taken the spotlight away from President Obama.
This must make Sarah giddy with joy. Although she refuses any interviews with people like David Letterman, whose ample wit would expose her limited education and intelligence equivalent, she still hopes they will continue to talk about her as it will promote her book. Sarah is all about promotion. Her worthy causes include a return to Christian values found only in the same unwritten dogma of social elitism that provoked the Crusades and the great witch hunts, raising capital for attorney fees to defend herself against ethic complaints, and to rigorously defend the rights of large scale mining operations. She is openly critical of Obama, using emotionally based rhetoric to rally people to her side, instead of taking an objective view of the problems involved and how we are to resolve them. While still acting governor, she refused the incentive funds for green development, defiantly telling Obama Alaska had plenty of money of its own, and reassuring the anxious public who still had their jobs but whose incomes no longer had the same buying power, that Obama’s package was way too restrictive. This was to say, the package was for the development of renewable resources, something Sarah apparently doesn’t have much expertise in. While throwing her weight around with the oil and natural gas companies, she turned down a proposal for a hydro-electric plant because it might disturb the mosquito beds. Trampling on Obama’s initial health care proposal as a “killing machine”without offering any real solutions of her own, she elevated suspicion and distrust in a public still reeling under the deflated balloon of US economics.
According to David Bauder of the Anchorage Daily News, the former Alaska governor said she’d rate President Barack Obama’s performance a 4 out of 10. She criticized him for his handling of the economy and for “dithering” on national security questions. When one considers that during her tenure as governor, she hacked away at crucial social programs, fish hatchery funds, and hydro-electric projects while favoring expenditures in the same type of wild real estate development she had exhibited as the mayor of Wasilla, leaving the citizens of Alaska with such an expensive cost of living energy debt, they were each given a four hundred dollar cash bonus to relieve the burden, and openly admits she supported the first bail-out, one has to wonder just how much understanding she has of economics. She has learned from her mistakes however, or so she assures us.
On an even deeper level, one has to wonder how a woman whose only comprehension of International affairs is a country she had assumed she could see from her back door, although Wasilla is quite a few hundred miles away from Nome; the only mainland town in Alaska that has a possibility of glimpsing Russia on a very cold, clear day. And Canada, a country whose Northern territories have more influence on the cultural aspects of Alaska than the Continental United States. While Sarah shines in the celebrity spot lights, concerned only with what she can do next to impress the media, President Obama has been touring the Mid-Eastern Nations, mending some very estranged relationships.
Global Affairs at Stake
Nothing is better for National Security than good International relationships, and according to the November 17, 2009 editorial of the Kahleej Times, Obama is doing an excellent job. He stunned his Chinese hosts when he turned a visit to the Shanghai University into an impromptu, US-style town hall meeting and question-and-answer session, establishing immediate rapport with Chinese students. He struck an additional chord with the people when he talked about respect for other cultures, saying no country should impose its system of governance on another.
According to the editorial, “Obama visits China at a time when Beijing’s stock has gone up in all areas. In fact, China has perhaps never been in a better and stronger position in its entire history. It’s seen as the next superpower and is widely respected around the world for growing economic clout and its non-interfering foreign policy. And China holds trillions of dollars in the US bonds, having the sole superpower and the world’s biggest economy where it wants – in its debt, literally! In direct contrast, America’s stock has plummeted around the world largely thanks to its disastrous foreign policy and its meddling in other countries’ affairs. Under Obama’s predecessor, Bush, things got only worse with the US invading Afghanistan and Iraq and its so-called war on terror and blind support of Israel, antagonizing the Arabs and Muslims and rest of the world.”
Also, according to the Kahleej, Obama has become the first US leader to engage Burmese junta. Meeting Prime Minister Thein Sein, the highest-level US-Myanmar contact in half a century, on the sidelines of APEC summit in Singapore, Obama directly appealed to the junta for the release of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
While Sarah Palin basks in the eternal glory of celebrity sunshine, President Obama is on a journey to face the greatest problems the world has seen since the turn of the twentieth century. The big question that hasn’t been resolved within the summit meetings, is what kind of value should be used to measure world currency? Real estate agents painfully admit they speculated on a housing market until the prices shot unrealistically out of the range for buyers’ to pay back. Manufacturers just as painfully acknowledge that their supply has out-stripped the demand. What is left?
Intellectual property is apparently of very little value. Icelandic research company deCODE genetics Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on Tuesday to facilitate the sale of its assets, the company announced. The company was an attempt to trace the human genome for inherited diseases and identify their treatments. Although its research is incomplete, they have hopes that someone will be willing to take the company over; if not for a profit making venture, at least for the contributions to science their discoveries would make.
The Palin Touch
While the value of the dollar is being weighed on the world market, its decreasing value is reflected in the gold market. The price of gold backed by American currency is now at nearly $1,100 an ounce. This has caused an epidemic of mining operations, churning out more gold than has been produced by gold fever since 1916. Last year’s gold production hit a record 800,00 ounces.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, this certainly does effect Alaska. Investors, mainly outside Alaska, are bankrolling drill projects all over the state, hoping to build modern mines out of some of the state’s historic gold fields.
The increased profit from high gold prices also is enabling mines such as Fairbanks’ Fort Knox, which opened in 1997 and employs about 480 people, to invest large sums to extend their life spans.
Today, most of Alaska’s gold is extracted from a handful of big mines rather than from stream beds and the old-fashioned underground mine shafts of the past.
“We now have two large gold mines operating. We’ve never had that before,” said Steve Borell, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association. He was referring to the open-pit Fort Knox mine and the underground Pogo mine near Delta Junction.
Together, those two mines were responsible for 84 percent of the gold produced in Alaska last year. Overall, gold production from Alaska’s major mines rose nearly 11 percent last year.
Has the Midas touch affected Alaska? Actually, this was the Palin touch. One of her last acts before abandoning her governorship for writing, was to shoot down the Clean Water Act that discourages large mining operations because of the open leech fields. This left an ability for large mines, that had been as successfully detoured as much in previous years by environmental efforts to keep water sheds clean as low gold prices, to expand the size of their operations.
The Fort Knox gold mine opened 12 years ago when gold prices were less than one-third of their current level. The mine recently spent millions of dollars to build a so-called heap-leach pad, which will use cyanide to extract gold from lower-grade rock. The mine is also getting ready to increase the depth of its open pit. With the new leach pad, which is beginning production this week, the mine could keep running past its previous closure date of 2019, said Delbert Parr, the mine’s environmental manager. None of the mines combined, however, would create as massive an imprint on Alaska’s environment as the proposed Pebbles project, which got its foot in the door through Palin’s invitation.
While gold miners revel in the deflated dollar, expanding their plans for increased open pit mining and their accompanying leech fields, the fishing industry is fighting back. The battle has been taken into some of Seattle’s finest restaurants. The establishments featuring wild Alaska salmon on their menus, dished it up recently with warnings about the future of Bristol Bay salmon if the copper, gold and molybdenum Pebble’s mine is authorized and built in southwest Alaska.
One of the Pebble Mine’s most prominent supporters over the weekend called for a boycott of the restaurants taking part in Trout Unlimited’s Savor Bristol Bay campaign.
Gail Phillips, the president of Truth about Pebble, a group of mine supporters, sent out her appeal for a boycott via e-mail to her “family and friends” — including the chefs — following an Associated Press story featuring chef Kevin Davis at the Steelhead Diner and chef Seth Caswell at Emmer & Rye. The chefs are among those participating in the Trout Unlimited campaign.
The e-mail from Phillips, also a former Alaska state legislator, prompted food blogger Ronald Holden — Seattle’s Global Gourmet — to ask a question Monday.
“Seriously, Ms. Phillips, are you nuts?” Holden asked on two blogs, including his own.
“Every single visitor and every single local knows Seattle is famous for salmon,” Holden responded to Phillips. “Like it or leave it, salmon is at the heart of Seattle’s restaurant economy.”
What the World Needs Now
Food is at the heart of all economy. While the miners bankroll on the gold train, freely admitting that their good fortune will last only as long as the dollar is weak, the global summit on hunger wrings its hands as it realizes a food shortage that could leave as many as 470 million of the world population dying of famine next year. It looks at the limited availability of arable land and clean water, stating nothing can be more important than maintaining the food chain.
Sarah Palin offered out Alaska like a sacrificial lamb on the table of artificial wealth; one entirely absorbed with the extraction of minerals and stones for personal gain. Yet, what the world needs most would be destroyed by her Midas touch; healthy foods and clean water, something Alaska, along with most of the northern rim, sparsely populated areas is currently able to provide. President Obama is on a tour of some of the world’s most needy countries; war torn and deprived of adequate food and water sources for a long time. He is on a tour of the devastation created by the global economic collapse. He has taken that journey with a mind that hasn’t reached an assumption that it knows all the answers, the first priority of any research academician. He’s willing to open the doors of communication and listen to opposing views. It makes more sense to follow the person we have chosen as our leader into this unknown future of global values and diplomatic relations than follow someone who has already proven that she believes the answer lies in the destruction of our renewable resources