thanks to dublog
In a dramatic showdown, major powers rebuffed the United States in the Security Council on Friday and insisted on more time for weapons inspections after top U.N. inspectors failed to give Washington the ammunition it needs to galvanize support for military action against Iraq.
A monument to hypocrisy
It has finally become intolerable to listen to or look at news in this country. I've told myself over and over again that one ought to leaf through the daily papers and turn on the TV for the national news every evening, just to find out what "the country" is thinking and planning, but patience and masochism have their limits. Colin Powell's UN speech, designed obviously to outrage the American people and bludgeon the UN into going to war, seems to me to have been a new low point in moral hypocrisy and political manipulation. But Donald Rumsfeld's lectures in Munich this past weekend went one step further than the bumbling Powell in unctuous sermonising and bullying derision. For the moment, I shall discount George Bush and his coterie of advisers, spiritual mentors, and political managers like Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, and Karl Rove: they seem to me slaves of power perfectly embodied in the repetitive monotone of their collective spokesman Ari Fliescher (who I believe is also an Israeli citizen). Bush is, he has said, in direct contact with God, or if not God, then at least Providence. Perhaps only Israeli settlers can converse with him. But the secretaries of state and defence seem to have emanated from the secular world of real women and men, so it may be somewhat more opportune to linger for a time over their words and activities.
Senior democrats have accused the CIA of sabotaging weapons inspections in Iraq by refusing to co-operate fully with the UN and withholding crucial information about Saddam Hussein's arsenal.
Led by Senator Carl Levin, the Democrats accused the CIA of making an assessment that the inspections were unlikely to be a success and then ensuring they would not be. They have accused the CIA director of lying about what information on the suspected location of weapons of mass destruction had been passed on.
In my last column, I described how there are two ways to view the goals of the weapons inspectors. You can either look at them as a method of ensuring peace, or as a method of finding a reason for war.
For those who want a war, the inspectors are seen as trying to find something, anything that would justify a war, and only one single find would be totally sufficient to precipitate a conflict. And, if the inspectors don’t find anything, then they are viewed as ineffective, and this is then taken as another reason for war.
For those who don’t want a war, the inspectors can be a method of keeping Iraq contained. If you’ve got a couple hundred inspectors going around Iraq for months at a time, they’re going to be able to find and dismantle a lot of stuff, just like they did the last time they were there. However, if they don’t find anything, it is taken as evidence that Saddam really doesn’t have anything left around.
A Viacom division is refusing to run antiwar ads on its outdoor sites
Not one of the treasury officials present dared to tell the prime minister the truth, and neither, of course, did Silvan Shalom. They did not mention the real reason for the economy's nosedive. There was no talk of the connection between the stalled peace process and the economic situation. There was no hint that continued war in the territories and terror attacks inside Israel would drive the economy to unimaginable depths.
No one dared to tell Sharon that if there is no diplomatic horizon, no renewal of talks with the Palestinians and no economic plan, no one would be able to prevent the continued lack of activity, the drop in investments, the freefall in tax revenue and the vicious circle of shrinkage, weakening and deterioration.
Donor fatigue and the uncertainty surrounding Iraq's future has lead western governments to turn their backs on the UN Palestinian refugee agency's (UNRWA) appeal for funds, necessary for the survival of about one third of the Palestinian population.
UNRWA has pleaded for $94 million to feed 1.1 million people in the occupied territories and replenish its emergency fund, but has received only one commitment, of $1.5 million, from Switzerland. Palestinians are reaching new depths of poverty, particularly the people of Gaza who are trapped behind electrified fences and heavy military patrols, making Gaza one of the most densely populated war zones on the globe.
UNRWA says the warehouses will be empty within weeks. Its commissioner general, Peter Hansen, said: "If we don't get money coming in soon we will have a rupture in the food distribution which will be very serious, as we already have malnutrition levels of 22% among children, and that is bound to rise if food aid stops." The children's agency, UNICEF, says child malnutrition is comparable to Congo and Zimbabwe.
In 1562 the artist and biographer giorgio Vasari visited Titian (c1487-1576) in his studio in Venice. Moved but also, it seems, disconcerted by the wildness of the artist's mature style, Vasari concluded that Titian had invented a new form of art 'made up of bold strokes and blobs, beautiful and astonishing because it makes paintings seem alive'.
By the time of Vasari's visit, Titian had spent a lifetime creating pictures, in the process transforming more or less every type of painting known in his time: the portrait, the nude, the landscape, the altarpiece, the mythological scene.
This is the first major exhibition in Britain devoted to the work of the 16th-century artist Titian. Few individuals have had a greater influence on the development of Western painting and this show includes some of his most famous paintings, for example, 'Flora' from the Uffizi and 'Danaë' from Naples.
both thanks to dublog
FAITH-BASED INITIATIVES....You ever wonder what those "faith-based initiatives" that George Bush keeps praising are like? You ever wonder if, just maybe, there's a risk that they could end up mixing government money with religious proselytizing?
Well, wonder no more. One of the most popular of these faith-based programs is Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries, which runs InnerChange, a program designed to "create and maintain a prison environment that fosters respect for God's law." In fact, according to the InnerChange website it's one of George Bush's personal favorites:
After all the innovations — the lightweight boom, the 22-foot-long keel bulb, the high-tech rig — the fate of Team New Zealand today came down to the performance of the most primitive piece of onboard gear: the bucket.
Swamped by waves on the windy, spectator-fleet-jammed Hauraki Gulf, Team New Zealand's yacht experienced a series of gear failures in the opening minutes of Race 1 of the five-of-nine-race America's Cup against the Swiss team Alinghi. While the boats were still on the first leg, the New Zealand skipper, Dean Barker, withdrew his yacht from the match, one that four million Kiwis had been anticipating for three years.
Bush's Tax Increase
For those of us in the middle class, that's the bottom line of the Bush administration's proposal to eliminate the income tax and replace it with a national sales tax.
This estimate comes from Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice, a tax watchdog organization that has been piling up the evidence that Bush's tax plans are nothing short of disaster for the nation. I chatted with McIntyre this afternoon and will post some more excerpts from our conversation this weekend, as I try to explore the ramifications of this proposal -- which are more profound than any domestic policy yet proposed by Bush, though it seems hardly anyone in either the press or the blogosphere has figured this out.
This is not merely a radical plan. It is one that will literally turn the nation's economic clock back to 1900 -- the days when the middle and lower classes were completely at the mercy of the nation's corporate leaders -- with a much lower standard of living, much longer hours for nominal pay, and virtually without any real upward social mobility.
I think this issue is probably the most important one to pay *really* close attention. Orcinus is following this one closely.
license plate art
Pretend you're in prison and make a license!
thanks to CalPundit
Held in Contempt
Individuals and tribes alike depend on these trust fund disbursements for rent, food, and the basic operation of social services in Indian Country.
The problem: Sometimes those checks arrive, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes the checks might arrive for hundreds or thousands of dollars, and sometimes those checks might only amount to pennies on the dollar. On Indian reservations, the problem has reached crisis levels; a check written out for a smaller amount than expected—or no check at all—can mean the difference between housing and homelessness.
All the while, the Interior Department's officials have made it clear that they're not sure how to fix a broken trust disbursement system, much less how much money is missing, or where the missing funds have gone. For their part, lawyers representing hundreds of thousands of Indians in the largest-ever class-action lawsuit against the government have put the cumulative total at $137.2 billion owed.
thanks to MetaFilter
== Go Ahead, Make My Violent Phallic Compensatory Device ==
Winning the Vanderbilt Cup, 1906
thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!
Compact Disc player integrated in a sewing machine dating of the beginning of the 20th century. The disc is maintained on the axis of the engine by three smalls balls. All the functions are carried out while turning the crank: play, pause, forward and reverse. The display is posed exactly where was the serial number.
thanks to boingboing
We are the woodlanders who walk in the hills gathering dry branches and deadwood from fallen trees, collecting firewood without chopping down the forest. We come down from the mountains, carrying bundles of wood, of pitchpine and split encino for the hearths of the Royal City of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. We walk through the mist, leading our burros, selling firewood from house to house. We knock on people's doors, offering pine needles to spread on the floor, moss, flowers of bromeliads and orchids for manger scenes. . .
thanks to BookLab II
happy valentine's day
thanks to Cursor
Whip My Roman Sex Gods
Hot pagan sex and lustful gods and ancient wolf goddesses and potential marriage and more sex and more than a little crazed giddy divine animal blood sacrifice.
All followed by some nice light whippings administered by nearly naked grinning boy-men, casual flagellations by goat-skin, some joyful thrashing in the name of fertility and purity and, you know, sex. Ahh, Valentine's Day.
The original, that is. Before it was called Valentine's Day, back when it was called Lupercalia, a big Roman festival in honor of the fertility god Lupercus, before the ever-scowlin' church got a hold of this ancient and rather odd and blood-pumped Roman lust-fest, co-opted it and de-sexed it stripped it of its more salacious and admittedly libertine joys, as the church is so tragically wont to do.
Because as everyone knows, the church is nothing if not all about rigid joyless dogma and romantic abstinence and mountains of little chalky candy hearts. Mmm, sanctimoniousness.
Hassan Massoudy's calligraphies enact a rhythm, a musical structure which echoes back to the very remotest times. Powerful emotions are evoked by the movement of his lines, their weight, their lightness, their transparency; the balance between black and white, the fullness and the vacuum, the concreteness and the abstractness... The artist has retained from his training the noble spirit of an artisan able to make his own tools and to fix his own inks and pigments...
Hassan Massoudy's creations came out from the meeting of the past with the present, the Eastern art with the Western art, from tradition with modernity. He has been perpetuating the tradition of calligraphy craft at the same time as breaking it, he simplifies lines, tending to purer lines, adding colours opening on to a wider unlimited world.
Hassan Massoudy began his apprenticeship in traditional calligraphy as a child in his native Iraq. He completed his studies in Baghdad in the mid 60s and expatriated to France, where he has lived since. The late 60s were a great time for a calligrapher to be in Paris, with many confluent and divergent movements going on in all the arts. The Islamic tradition of calligraphy has always drawn on diverse sources, and Massoudy was partially prepared by his basic training for what he found in France.
all thanks to wood s lot
A haunting silence
To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.
Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.
When asked what they think of the United States in these uncertain times, European intellectuals tend to draw a swift distinction between the American government and the American people.
But European anti-Americanism is more than just straightforward opposition to the policies of the current administration. There is a growing sense here, reflected in interviews with writers, cultural figures and other intellectual leaders in Western Europe, that many of America's most admirable qualities — its respect for its great cacophony of voices, its belief in freedom, its proud democratic principles — have been so trampled in the debate over war as to have been rendered toothless or even nonexistent.
War is coming very soon, possibly as soon as the next moonless nights over Iraq at the beginning of March.
As best one can tell, the war plans are now smart, meticulous and comprehensive — with one exception that is blindingly irresponsible. It's the loose talk in the Bush administration about using nuclear weapons in Iraq.
1 million could join grassroots protest
Many of Vietnam's casualties survived long enough that their names were not included when the Vietnam memorial was unveiled but died in the years that followed from mental and physical wounds they brought back with them. Vietnam cost us 58,196 soldiers, men and women. Veterans groups estimate that 140,000 surviving veterans are totally disabled and that hundreds of thousands still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder which results in suicides, incarcerations, alcohol and drug abuse. Three times as many veterans have died by their own hands as died on the field of battle. The Boston Shelter for Homeless Veterans estimates that one-third of the homeless are veterans; one-quarter are Vietnam veterans.
When funds are cut for homeless shelters, general assistance, and food programs; for veterans' hospitals and other benefits, the very people who were praised for their valor in offering their lives for our country, are shortchanged because of what they have become: throwaway people in a greedy culture that regards the bottom line as the ultimate measure of value.
lying sack of shit
I had some hope for Powell, at one time. However, he continues to prove that he is just another LSOS (Lying Sack of Shit) for Bush. When I first heard this on NPR, I couldn't believe that he could turn Osama's support for the Iraqi people into Osama's support for the Iraqi government. Just another weasel twisting words to support the bush drive to war. May he rot in hell (and I don't even believe in hell.)
Powell used the existence of this tape, and the words he claimed bin Laden had said on it, to further tie Saddam Hussein to international terrorism. He claimed bin Laden was clearly establishing a connection between himself and Hussein on the tape, beyond all question. "This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction," said Powell, "can no longer be looked away from and ignored."
The actual tape, played and translated live on every major cable news channel, told a very different story. Osama bin Laden swore vengeance against America if Iraq was attacked, and demanded that the Muslim world stand in solidarity with the Muslim people of Iraq. In very clear words, Osama bin Laden told the people of Iraq to rise up against both American aggression and against "socialist" Saddam Hussein. If the translations that were provided were reliable, there is no ambiguity in bin Laden's words on the matter. So much, it seems, for Powell's case that Hussein and bin Laden are working together.
Joe Conason's Journal
(This in Salon. Go ahead and get a free day pass — it's worth it.)
the gift that keeps on giving
Iraqi baby, a victim of DU (Depleted Uranium, abgereichertes Uran, de l'uranium appauvri), born with no nose, mouth, eyes, anus, or genitals and with flipper limbs, a common result of radiation exposure in utero.
thanks to Spitting Image
These are terrible pictures to look at — they are Gulf War I legacies. If the war happens, we can expect many more.
it's shiva time!
How quickly things change.
Ten years ago, we read professor Francis Fukuyama's essay and toasted the end of history. That was followed by professor Samuel Huntington's musings on clashing civilizations. Now it's worse: We're being warned to worry not just about the clash of civilizations, but the end of civilization as we know it, the end, perhaps, of the world itself.
thanks to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse
Craig has finally decided to do something useful with his life.
Speak softly and carry a big stick. Or, speak loudly and carry a big stick. Or maybe even speak softly and get by with a small stick. But, for God’s sake, don’t speak loudly and carry a small stick. And yet that’s precisely what President Bush has been doing on the Korean Peninsula issue for two years.
Today North Korea is racing ahead with a plutonium processing operation that should churn out enough plutonium for half-a-dozen warheads in a few short months. Having ruled out war and negotiations, the administration now stands by apparently resigned to the prospect of North Korea becoming a nuclear power.
Let’s recall how this crisis began.
thanks to Talking Points Memo
On the Second Day, Atlas Waffled
Dear Alan Greenspan:
After reading your recent testimony, I'd like to share some Objectivist philosophy with you. As a disciple of Ayn Rand, you'll undoubtedly appreciate it. Here it is, from John Galt's big speech in "Atlas Shrugged": "A is A: non-contradiction."
John Galt wouldn't be very happy with you right now.
James has a new series up.
lying sacks of shit
The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in the latest budget.
thanks to BookNotes
Celine Dion Owes Me 20 Bucks
Because precious and few and far between are the delicious opportunities for the average American music-loving schlub to grin and applaud and flick their middle finger straight into the thick corporate skull of the blasé music industry, all whilst they nab themselves an easy $20, and feel good doing it.
Because by now just about everyone with an Internet connection or an MP3 player or a CD collection consisting of anything more than a couple old Mannheim Steamrollers and maybe Phil Collins' greatest hits knows it to be true: The music biz has been gouging the country for years on the price of their increasingly archaic, technologically stagnant product. Oh yes they have.
(This in Salon. Go ahead and get a free day pass — it's worth it.)
Have you checked your auto, homeowners, or business insurance premiums lately? They’re way up. Why? Because insurance companies, which like to gamble in the stock and bond markets, have taken a drubbing. They’re trying to recoup by boosting premiums.
Insurers have jacked up medical malpractice insurance rates, too. Doctors are howling. In headline-grabbing strikes across the nation, they proclaim they can’t practice medicine without affordable insurance. True enough.
But instead of fingering the real culprits -- insurance companies -- doctors and the American Medical Association have joined insurers in blaming injured patients who file supposedly "frivolous" lawsuits and jurors they say are eager to make huge malpractice awards.
Their solution -- limiting the discretion of jurors by capping jury awards, so- called "tort reform" -- is as fraudulent as the manufactured crisis it’s supposed to address.
thanks to Altercation
Scroll down for links to serveral articles.
So long, progressive taxation. Welcome to the Empire of the Rich. Abandon all hope, ye mere working stiffs who live here.
While everyone is busy talking about the impending war with Iraq, the Bush regime has quietly trotted out probably its most radical economic proposal yet:
Eliminating the income tax. And replacing it with a national sales tax.
For my young readers that haven't had any economics — an income tax is usually progressive while a sales tax is always regressive. A progressive tax is one where the rich pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than those poorer than them while a regressive tax is one where the poor pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rich. The reason a sales tax is regressive is that a rich person spends a very very very small percentage of his income on taxable items like clothing or music or parts to fix his car. Most of what poor people spend their money on is taxable. Read the above.
i'm really not a saint
brought to you by Quizilla
But at least I don't seem to be tainted. (I really like the ash part.)
There are lots of links to the buildup of the inevitable war. I just don't want to deal with them right now.
I talked to my daughter Jenny a couple of hours ago. Jenny and William were married Jan. 1. He returned to Germany in preparation to being stationed in Korea in March. They extended his stay and he is packed and ready to go to Turkey now. We just found out that he will be one of the first ones to go — he is in communications. They are trying to get everything together so that she can fly out this weekend for Germany to see him before he leaves. We don't know when he will be leaving for Turkey. Hopefully she will get there before he goes. She will be staying in Germany until it's over. Then he gets to go to Korea.
where did america go?
Conversations, headlines, and pundits fill the airwaves and publications with the topic of war on Iraq. This all-consuming debate smothers everything else, which is a reason to pause. Perhaps we need to step back and focus on the "big picture" of what is happening to America as a result of the war on Iraq and the war on terrorism. The death and destruction of war is one thing, but the looming devastation of America is quite another.
On the PBS web site there was an article and interview about another of those secret edicts floating up the Potomac that seeks to extend the powers of the misnamed Patriot Act. The new extended version brings back the bad old days of FBI and CIA domestic abuses and invasions on American citizenry, but this time there will be less oversight and even more secret investigations and incarcerations. Of course His Hindness and regal court see no reason to be open and transparent with congress or the American people because it is none of their business how government works. Only Iraq and North Korea and the axis of evil need to be transparent.
9/11 and Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terrorism, and - oh yeah - Osama bin Laden (remember him?) are the murky shroud for what truly has become a war on America.
The devil is in the details, as they say, and the details ain't pretty.
The most detailed and precise map yet produced of the universe just after its birth confirms the Big Bang theory in triumphant detail and opens new chapters in the early history of the cosmos, astronomers said yesterday.
It reveals the emergence of the first stars in the cosmos, only 200 million years after the Big Bang, some half a billion years earlier than theorists had thought, and gives a first tantalizing hint at the physics of the "dynamite" behind the Big Bang.
Astronomers said the map results lent impressive support to the strange picture that has emerged recently: the universe is expanding at an ever-faster rate, pushed apart by a mysterious "dark energy."
By comparing their data with other astronomical observations, the astronomers have also made far more precise calculations of the basic parameters that characterize the universe, including its age, geometry, composition and weight.
In a nutshell, the universe is 13.7 billion years old, plus or minus one percent; a recent previous estimate had a margin of error three times as much. By weight it is 4 percent atoms, 23 percent dark matter - presumably undiscovered elementary particles left over from the Big Bang - and 73 percent dark energy. And it is geometrically "flat," meaning that parallel lines will not meet over cosmic scales.
The result, the astronomers said, is a seamless and consistent history of the universe, from its first few seconds, when it was a sizzling soup of particles and energy, to the modern day and a sky beribboned with chains of pearly galaxies inhabited by at least one race of puzzled and ambitious bipeds.
According to their forms,they are divided into 4 types - "Double spiral", "Chain", "Ring" and "Kikko" that may be called a honeycomb pencil. Others like "Six-fold spiral", "Extensible" and "Triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon" are considered to be variations based on one of those 4 types. "To take carving in the wood of a pencil", is certainly what pencil carving is all about. But we are required to be skilled enough for delicate woodwork in carving out a pattern like some kind of a tracery without making any miscut on the naked lead inside.
thanks to MetaFilter
On January 28, Sam Hamill sent an open letter -- printed below -- to a few friends. Word has spread like wildfire from mailbox to mailbox, and to date over 5,300 poets have submitted poems or personal statements to register their opposition to the Bush administration's headlong plunge toward war in Iraq. In doing so, they have honored a long and rich tradition of thoughtful and moral opposition by poets and other artists to senseless and murderous policies, including those of our own government.
My blog brother Joseph Duemmer has a poem in this collection.
The Language of Poetry
An educated man, Ngo Dinh Diem
he renamed the dangerous provinces
the district center Khiem Cuong,
becoming flesh. The president meant
STUDENT LOANS ARE FOR SUCKERS
Five years ago, I wrote a story called "College Is For Suckers." I argued that the costs of tuition, dorms and fees had risen so high that the additional income you'd earn as a college graduate---compared to going straight to work after high school--wouldn't make up for the massive student loan debts you'd acquire.
The magazine that ran my piece is no more. Both books that published it are out of print. But the problem of crippling student loan debt has gotten worse.
thanks to MetaFilter
thanks to MetaFilter
Each page contains information about one group of organisms (for example, the Coleoptera page gives information about all beetles, the Salticidae page about jumping spiders, the Cephalopoda page about squids, octopi, and related molluscs, and the Fungi page about fungi). Individual Tree of Life pages are linked one to another in the form of the evolutionary tree that connects all organisms, with the pages branching off from a group's page being about subgroups. For example, the links from the page on frogs leads one to pages on individual families of frogs, and eventually up to some individual species of frogs:
thanks to plep
Among the many innovations that transformed Europe in the Middle Ages, perhaps none was more central than the metamorphosis of the written word. The evolution of writing in this period reached a dramatic climax in the 1450s, when Johann Gutenberg invented moveable metal type—and revolutionized human communication. This exhibition traces the history of the medieval book—its appearance, content, audiences, and forms—from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Drawn from the holdings of Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, the exhibition presents a rich variety of medieval manuscripts and printed books, from early religious manuscripts and illuminated prayerbooks to the secular works of classical antiquity and the first books printed from metal type.
thanks to plep
Both of these are in Salon. Go ahead and get a free day pass. It's worth it.
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon
In August of 2002 I received a politely phrased notice from my cable company, Adelphia, addressed to "Dear Valued Customer" announcing that my monthly cable fee would be increasing. The letter explained that, "like other businesses, Adelphia constantly faces increases in operational expenses such as wages, specialized training for our employees, utilities, fuel, insurance, equipment ... ." Missing from the missive? Any mention of another operational expense that no one at Adelphia seemed to happy to discuss. During the unfortunate latter days of his reign, former CEO John Rigas had borrowed $3.1 billion from the company and spread the money around like seed on a sun-scorched lawn. His own lawn, of course -- he spent $13 million to build a golf course in his backyard, $150 million to buy the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, $65 million to fund a venture capital group run by his son-in-law, thousands to maintain his three private jets, and $700,000 for a country-club membership. It's a wonder my bill's not going up a million dollars a month. I just hope Adelphia's subscribers aren't also paying for his bail.
Here's a good interview with Arianna.
The Salon Interview: Arianna Huffington
Ever since Arianna Huffington began her transformation from Newt Gingrich Republican to scourge of corporate evildoers, critics and admirers alike have tried to find her a new label. Is she a Democrat now? A John McCain Republican? Some kind of left-winger? Two weeks ago, the Portland Oregonian decided that whatever she is, Huffington isn't a journalist anymore, insisting that her satiric, widely covered ad campaign linking SUVs to terrorism had crossed the invisible line that separates analysts from activists, and dropped her syndicated column.
I photograph modern ruins because I find it disturbing to find familiar objects and technology to be abandoned. I'm reminded that nothing is permanent, that everything is always in a state of transition. And we see ourselves in our own transitions, sometimes too focused on where we're going to notice and appreciate where we are.
thanks to boingboing
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell warned today that if Saddam Hussein was still not cooperating with United Nations inspectors at the end of this week, President Bush would press immediately for consideration of a Security Council resolution authorizing possible use of force against Iraq.
The Wimps of War
George W. Bush's admirers often describe his stand against Saddam Hussein as "Churchillian." Yet his speeches about Iraq — and for that matter about everything else — have been notably lacking in promises of blood, toil, tears and sweat. Has there ever before been a leader who combined so much martial rhetoric with so few calls for sacrifice?
Or to put it a bit differently: Is Mr. Bush, for all his tough talk, unwilling to admit that going to war involves some hard choices? Unfortunately, that would be all too consistent with his governing style. And though you don't hear much about it in the U.S. media, a lack of faith in Mr. Bush's staying power — a fear that he will wimp out in the aftermath of war, that he won't do what is needed to rebuild Iraq — is a large factor in the growing rift between Europe and the United States.
Toting the Casualties of War
Beth Osborne Daponte was a 29-year-old Commerce Dept. demographer in 1992, when she publicly contradicted then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney on the highly sensitive issue of Iraqi civilian casualties during the Gulf War. In short order, Daponte was told she was losing her job. She says her official report disappeared from her desk, and a new estimate, prepared by supervisors, greatly reduced the number of estimated civilian casualties.
Although Cheney said shortly after the 1991 Gulf War that "we have no way of knowing precisely how many casualties occurred" during the fighting "and may never know," Daponte had estimated otherwise: 13,000 civilians were killed directly by American and allied forces, and about 70,000 civilians died subsequently from war-related damage to medical facilities and supplies, the electric power grid, and the water system, she calculated.
In all, 40,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the conflict, she concluded, putting total Iraqi losses from the war and its aftermath at 158,000, including 86,194 men, 39,612 women, and 32,195 children.
thanks to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse
Democracy in the new Iraq is a myth
There is, alas, something ludicrous here. The prime minister who brought you Lords reform prepares to bring true democracy to Baghdad; the president of the hanging chads sees Iraq as the Switzerland of the Middle East, exporting freedom's ways to its neighbours. And yet nobody laughs out loud.
Why Korea has returned to the cold
The North Korean regime may be tyrannical, but it certainly has a sense of timing. As Colin Powell tracked the latest half mile across the shifting sands of the US administration's case against Iraq, North Korea announced that it had reactivated the Yongbyon nuclear plant - reminding us that there was little Powell could say about Iraq that was not more true of North Korea.
The North Korean crisis illustrates the inconsistency of US foreign policy. If there is little in the way of policy towards North Korea coming out of Washington, it is because, as the US administration knows, the North Korean case responds even less persuasively to the threat of force than does Iraq.
It is largely the threat from the US right that has got us into this position. North Korea is a test of the efficacy of the dominator mode that now rules in Washington. It is a test that it is likely to fail.
We founded the American Newspaper Repository in 1999 in order to save a unique collection of original newspapers that would otherwise have been destroyed or dispersed. The Repository exists in order to preserve and make available to the scholarly public, and to future generations, these magnificent landmarks of American publishing.
Johnny—Pa, why don't we men vote?
Pa—Hush, my son! You'll make your mother angry!
Herb Roth, "Fun in the Year 2000," New York World, Sunday March 10, 1912
thanks to Coudal Partners
Ahead of the expected attack on Iraq, Israel's public relations corps has pulled out an old standing order from the days of the first Gulf War, to take special care not to create any linkage between that conflict and "ours." The last thing Ariel Sharon needs right now is for the French to remind the world that Israel refuses to sign the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty and that it has disobeyed a long series of Security Council resolutions. The last thing Sharon needs is for The New York Times to ask why, 12 years after Bush senior freed Kuwait by force from the Iraqi occupation, his son is lending a hand and money to Israel to deepen its occupation of the territories.
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees warned today that without immediate international help it would run out of money next month to feed more than a million people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Since the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians broke out more than two years ago, the agency has relied on an "emergency fund" to supply growing needs for food, shelter and jobs in the occupied territories. It now feeds about 1.1 million people there, roughly a third of the Palestinian population, up from 115,000 before the conflict began.
For two months the agency has been appealing for donations totaling $94 million to replenish the emergency fund. It has received only one commitment, of $1.5 million, from Switzerland.
"The situation is bad enough as it is, but it's going to be very much worse," said Peter Hansen, the commissioner general of the agency, in an interview here today. He warned of a "great humanitarian disaster."
This Modern World
Patriot Act Redux
The Police State Enhancement Act of 2003
Last Friday night, PBS's "Bill Moyers: Now" program aired a report on a leak, to a D.C. nonpartisan, public service journalism nonprofit called the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), of a closely held Justice Department secret: the draft language of proposed legislation that would update and sharply expand 2001's USA PATRIOT Act.
It is one of the most horrifying documents ever to come out of a city and a government numbed to horrifying documents. Every American should read it, and get angry. While it's still not a crime to do so.
This past Saturday Warblogging published a summary of some of the many incredibly negative effects of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, which has been dubbed "PATRIOT Act II" or, as I prefer to call it, "PATRIOT Act Redux". That post was based on a preliminary reading of DSEA-03, and I have since had opportunity to read even more of the proposed law, especially since it has been translated into HTML by the folks over at Daily Rotten.
"Robbins/Becher are a married couple who work collaboratively using photography as a means to document what they refer to as the transportation of place. In elaborating this idea the artists wrote, "Notions of place have become intensely confused due to overlapping eras of slavery, colonialism, holocausts, immigration, tourism, and mass-communications. We focus on particular examples of such confusions, always a place, event, or artifact on display for the public."
both thanks to Spitting Image
Huge, unexplained traffic jams began building up on the North Side of Chicago last Tuesday morning. Drivers struggled for half an hour or more to travel just four blocks. The police had to close entrance and exit ramps at a couple of spots along Lake Shore Drive. Baffled officers raised their arms in frustration as motorists demanded to know what was going on.
The traffic crush was caused by people desperate for jobs. Rumors that job applications for a Ford assembly plant would be accepted at a community college had swept through several of the city's neighborhoods. Chicagoans by the thousands responded, turning out in bitterly cold weather for a shot at gainful employment.
The first arrivals showed up well before dawn. By 7 a.m. more than 2,000 people had lined up outside Truman College, and the hopefuls kept coming throughout the morning. They shivered, and tears from the cold ran down some of their faces. It was like a scene out of the Depression.
It was easy to laugh at the lockbox.
But now that it's gone -- blasted to bits by President Bush's federal budget -- it's worth pausing to consider what the lockbox represented. It was a promise between generations, a rare, perhaps unprecedented effort by the baby boom generation to put another's interests above its own.
Now that promise is broken. And the bright young things in Gen X and Gen Y will pay the price for years.
The construction of one of Britain's most famous ancient landmarks, the towering megaliths at Stonehenge in southern England, might have been supervised by the Swiss, or maybe even the Germans.
Archaeologists studying the remains of a wealthy archer found in a 4,000-year-old grave exhumed near Stonehenge last year said Monday he was originally from the Alps region, probably modern-day Switzerland, Austria or Germany.
thanks to reenhead.com
I just finished reading this report. I linked to it in my last post but, after reading it in its entirety (it's long), I have to link to it again. I've not read anything that ties everything together like this report does. It's a long report but it is a must read. Read it in its entirety. Read it and weep. Everything is much worse than it appears.
“We are about to witness a major new development, with far-reaching consequences: the direct imperialist occupation of the whole of Iraq. Further, it is widely reported in the American press that the United States plans to use the invasion of Iraq as a launching pad for a drastic re-shaping of West Asia.”
Bearing in mind that the president of the most powerful republic on the planet is, in principle, responsible for his actions and knows what he's talking about, despite his eyes (Have you noticed his eyes? Well, take a good look at them!), I, a Brazilian writer earning my living from my daily struggle with words and having no close ties with the secret service, the inspection procedure, confidential files or privileged information, but capable of reading the newspapers with a reasonable degree of intelligence, have come up with the definitive answer to how to locate the weapons of mass destruction being hidden by Iraq. I will, by the way, require payment for this information.
All the weapons inspectors currently in Iraq should pack their bags, settle their hotel bills and head for Baghdad airport.
There, they should all buy business-class tickets to Washington. I stress business class so that they have time to rest, since the journey will involve a number of stopovers.
Upon reaching Washington, they should catch the first bus to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, also known as the CIA. The address can be found in Virginia's telephone directory.
Upon reaching CIA headquarters and armed with the appropriate UN inspection mandate, they should demand to see all the photos, information and documents currently being supplied to George W. Bush. These are the documents pinpointing the precise location of each arms cache and which allow Bush to assure us that Iraq has an arsenal capable of destroying the planet.
This is an excellent analysis of the reasons to go to war:
Categories of War
Why is the Bush administration willing to--some people would say wants to--go to war with Iraq? To get at this question, I'd like to put all the possible reasons that seem to me worth talking about into four categories, and then look in some detail at each category. I'd like to list the categories in an order going roughly from least important to most important, and then try to dispense quickly with the reasons for going to war that seem to me the least important, so we'll have more time for the more important ones.
New Iraq Report
Behind the Invasion of Iraq, the startling new book-length report authored by the Research Unit for Political Economy (RUPE), synthesizes the seemingly disparate threads of the US war drive in what amounts to a blistering indictment of American foreign policy. The report (available on the Web at www.rupe-india.org) is lavishly documented and jargon-free; the effect, especially for readers with limited understanding of global commerce and finance, is of puzzle pieces clicking decisively into place.
The RUPE report wholly confirms the widely-held view of the coming war as a massive oil grab, "on a scale not witnessed since the days of colonialism." Further, the current debate about arms inspections and alleged links to al-Qaeda is revealed as pure political theater, since the decision to invade Iraq was made months ago.
And here is the Rupe report:
“We are about to witness a major new development, with far-reaching consequences: the direct imperialist occupation of the whole of Iraq. Further, it is widely reported in the American press that the United States plans to use the invasion of Iraq as a launching pad for a drastic re-shaping of West Asia.”
Scroll down a little bit on the link below to read about how the plans for occupation of Iraq might run into just a few little speed bumps.
SCHOLARS OF THE OCCUPATION
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has announced plans to occupy Iraq, following “pre-emptive” military strikes, based on the so-called Japanese model—the post-World War II Allied occupation of Japan. As students of the Japanese occupation, we protest this reckless and self-serving misreading of history and strongly urge the U.S.government to reconsider its ill-conceived project of war and occupation. A careful look at the Japanese example suggests many reasons why that experience is inapplicable to U.S. plans for a post-invasion Iraq.
thanks to daily KOS
thanks to daily KOS
Powell doesn't know who he is up against
Goya proceeded to decorate the "Quinta del sordo" with some of the most intense, disturbing images ever painted. Executed in oil directly on the plaster walls, these so-called "black paintings" represent the culmination of Goya's artistic efforts. They combine the freedom, or "Capricho", and eerie imagery of his etchings with the scale and decorative purpose of the tapestry cartoons he executed early in his career. After almost two hundred years, they retain their capacity to reduce the viewer to shocked silence.
thanks to plep
impeach the traitors
The U.S. Constitution provides the means for preventing George W. Bush from engaging in a war of aggression against Iraq, and from advancing a first strike potentially nuclear preemptive war. It's called impeachment.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors
thanks to emptybottle.org
bush against bush
More than 750 female protesters shed their clothing during the protest, lying naked end to end on a grassy knoll on a private property, to form a heart shape around the words "No War" for an aerial photograph.
An Old Evil Renames Itself as "Transfer"
For several months now, those of us following events in Israel-Palestine closely have been hearing increasingly disturbing reports. Americans returning from the Palestinian Occupied Territories reported that the Israeli government appeared to be preparing to "transfer" the Palestinian population; in other words, to forcibly remove them from their homes and transport them elsewhere.
Israeli parliamentary members began more and more openly to advocate such expulsion, and parties that actively promote transfer were included in the ruling coalition. A renowned Israeli historian suggested that the region would be much more peaceful today if all of Israel's original inhabitants had been forced out in 1948, instead of only 60 percent. The implication was clear: it was not too late to remedy this lapse.
A major Israeli daily reported that the military was studying the tactics that had been used by Germany in the Warsaw Ghetto, looking for tips on how to control an unwanted, violently rebelling population. Palestinians sent out emails describing Israeli soldiers going from house to house, counting the occupants--"taking inventory of us," as one person wrote.
The IDF's 'permissiveness' in the territories
A war in Iraq will soon break out, and with it a great darkness will descend on events in the territories. As long as what goes on there doesn't affect the war's execution, no one in the world will take an interest, no one will so much as cast a glance, at the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This is the time to caution us all that under the cover of that darkness, grave things may come to pass.
Not that there is much light there now, either: for some time, it has seemed that anything goes in the war against the Palestinians. The fact is that there are no longer any voices of outrage over the situation in the territories. Not about flechette shells fired at a soccer field, not about innocent farmers who are shot to death, not about the demolition of homes at an appalling rate - 22 in one day - not about the destruction of an entire outdoor market, or about the razing of the home of a wanted individual who has not yet been apprehended, burying his tenant, Kamala Abu-Said, 65, under the ruins. All these events took place in the course of last week.
How can Palestinians resist the brutality of the Israeli military government. How can they survive it? One Palestinian journalist, a friend for the past year told me, "We chose non-violence and they occupied our kitchens."
There are about 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Last night Israeli soldiers abducted 14 more. Since Sharon was re-elected Israeli soldiers have killed 28 Palestinians. This is just in the past eight days. In the last two months Israeli soldiers have murdered 72 Palestinians. This means that the Israeli military kills four Palestinians a day.
"All night it was explosions and shooting. They just shot everywhere to ruin the house. They exploded the door but everyone was sleeping. It was just the children in the room, just the small children. No one even knew what was happening. They put everyone outside in the cold and finished shooting the entire house. The buildings, my aunt has two, they're five floors, so ten families, they destroyed everything. They grabbed G-- and threw him, hit him. He said he is a doctor and what do they want from him. They called him a liar and hit him again. This after what happened yesterday." This was last night in her family's home.
Voting Under Lockdowns
Surely the most remarkable thing about last week's election in Israel was the fact that, even as Israeli citizens were enjoying their right to vote, their army was enforcing a lockdown that kept 3.6 million Palestinians confined to their homes for three days. Few Israelis seemed to notice the irony that the central act of their participatory democracy required for its execution the collective punishment of millions of people in total disregard for international humanitarian law. And by choosing to grant Likud its handsome victory-doubling its seats in the parliament from 19 to 37--the Israeli electorate has given its strong endorsement to the open--ended policy of violence and brutalization represented by the Sharon government.
In the following interview, Weizman, a partner in Tel Aviv-based Rafi Segal/Eyal Weizman Architects, discusses both the natural and built environment of the West Bank – from the social, political, and religious history of the area to issues of photography and mapping to concepts of strategic building forms and settlement growth patterns. He also asks pointed ethical questions about Israeli architectural and planning practice and considerations of human rights, which he says are central to the research he and Segal continue to conduct.
say goodbye to more freedoms — say goodbye to democracy
The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act passed in the wake of September 11, 2001, which will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information.
The Center for Public Integrity has obtained a draft, dated January 9, 2003, of this previously undisclosed legislation and is making it available in full text (12 MB). The bill, drafted by the staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft and entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, has not been officially released by the Department of Justice, although rumors of its development have circulated around the Capitol for the last few months under the name of “the Patriot Act II” in legislative parlance.
thanks to wood s lot
NOW with Bill Moyers
MOYERS: Chuck Lewis, whom you just saw in that piece is with me now. He is the Executive Director of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, the organization responsible for obtaining that document. Chuck Lewis, thank you for joining us.
LEWIS: Thank you.
MOYERS: The Patriot Act was passed six weeks after 9/11. We know now that it greatly changed the balance between liberty and security in this nation's framework. What do you think — what's the significance of this new document, called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003?
thanks to wood s lot
The original USA Patriot Act allowed the government to do many bad things. It resulted in the government having the power to spy on Americans without so much as probable cause or a search warrant. It led a court — a secret court that issues rulings that cannot be appealed by anyone except the government — to rule that the Fourth Amendment isn't really all that important after all.
John Ashcroft wasn't done. He was just getting warmed up. He is now just finishing up the draft for "Patriot Act II", officially known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. The full text of DSEA-03 is available from the Center for Public Integrity. This new law, Patriot Act II, would give the government "broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement perogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information," says the Center for Public Integrity in this article.
The legislation would allow the Justice Department to "detain" anyone secretly indefinitely, at least until an indictment is secured against the person. It would make it a crime to reveal the identity — or even existance — of such a detainee. The legislation would also allow the government to take away an American citizen's citizenship if they joined a "terrorist" organization — or even supported a terrorist organization!
thanks to The Agonist
There are a lot of questions being raised about the integrity of the new electronic voting machines. These are machines with no audit trail. The companies building them won't let anyone look at code running them. These voting machine companies seem to be owned by right wing Republicans. There have been voting irregularites. We should be very concerned.
Here is a list of articles on this subject. Read them and weep.
thanks to wood s lot
``Unchained Memories,'' an HBO documentary that makes its debut tomorrow night, provides a powerful answer to that question. It gives us, through the faces and voices of African-American actors, an introduction to a vast undertaking that took place in the 1930's: the collection and preservation of the testimonies of thousands of aged former slaves in an archive known as the Slave Narrative Collection of the Federal Writers' Project. This archive unlocked the brutal secrets of slavery by using the voices of average slaves as the key, exposing the everyday life of the slave community. Rosa Starke, a slave from South Carolina, for example, told of how class divisions among the slaves were quite pronounced:
``Dere was just two classes to de white folks, buckra slave owners and poor white folks dat didn't own no slaves. Dere was more classes 'mongst de slaves. De fust class was de house servants. Dese was de butler, de maids, de nurses, chambermaids, and de cooks. De nex' class was de carriage drivers and de gardeners, de carpenters, de barber and de stable men. Then come de nex' class, de wheelwright, wagoners, blacksmiths and slave foremen. De nex' class I members was de cow men and de niggers dat have care of de dogs. All dese have good houses and never have to work hard or git a beatin'. Then come de cradlers of de wheat, de threshers and de millers of de corn and de wheat, and de feeders of de cotton gin. De lowest class was de common field niggers.''
Voices like hers had waited more than 70 years to be heard, and why they were silent for so long is itself, in part, a story of class tensions within the black community.
Born in Slavery
John W. Fields, Age 89
"In most of us colored folks was the great desire to [be] able to read and write. We took advantage of every opportunity to educate ourselves. The greater part of the plantation owners were very harsh if we were caught trying to learn or write. It was the law that if a white man was caught trying to educate a negro slave, he was liable to prosecution entailing a fine of fifty dollars and a jail sentence. We were never allowed to go to town and it was not until after I ran away that I knew that they sold anything but slaves, tobacco, and wiskey. Our ignorance was the greatest hold the South had on us. We knew we could run away, but what then? An offender guilty of this crime was subjected to very harsh punishment."
how the republican party made a pact with the devil and how this caused its destruction
I've discussed previously Nixon's 'Southern Strategy' and its continuing legacy in the Republican Party. What perhaps is taken for granted in most discussions regarding this sea change is the profound effect it had on the nature of the Republican Party. This passage from Aistrup is particularly instructive:
Indeed, there was much dissension in the RNC over the adoption of Goldwater’s Southern Strategy. Republican heavyweights such as former RNC chair Meade Alcorn and New York Senator Jacob Javits felt the party should not abandon its historic commitment to civil rights to the votes of Southern segregationists (Klinkner 1992, 24). Kentucky Senator John Sherman Cooper agreed with Alcorn and Javits, emphasizing the amoral dimension of this strategy: “But in the long run, such a position will destroy the Republican party, and worse, it will do a great wrong because it will be supporting the denial of the constitutional and human rights of our citizens” (Bailey 1963).
These fears came directly home to roost, of course. What Nixon, and other mainstream New England-type Republicans -- say, George H.W. Bush -- did not reckon on was the gravitational pull that their new racist right-wing partners in the electorate would exert on their own party. While the flood of new white Southern votes helped the Republicans electorally, particularly in the presidential elections, the party also found that it was driving out many of its longtime members, particularly those who considered themselves "progressive Republicans" -- that is, Republicans in the mold of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ralph Carr.
I know about this very well. I was one of those Republicans.
Mark Kleiman writes that my Bush budget proposal headline, "I Really Cannot Understand Why Anyone Would Do This," is "no doubt ironic. Brad understands perfectly well why somone would do this"--that is, set the U.S. government on a course toward national bankruptcy by creating a huge disparity a generation from now between the finances and the commitments of the U.S. government. To plan on quintupling the debt of the United States in 2050--raising it to 250% of GDP--is truly extraordinary. (...)
Mark Kleiman is wrong. I truly don't understand why anyone would do this. I understand why, once the administration has decided to do this, someone like Mickey Kaus would choose to run interference for them--for him policies are not real, but just a game, epater le liberaloisie and all that--plus running interference for Mitch Daniels and company gets him points he can spend on getting future interesting news leaks from Republican hacks.
But everybody who goes into politics for real--who runs for the Congress, or takes a senior job in the Executive Branch--is a patriot. There are other careers one can enter with a much hihger probability of success that promise more in the way of fame, wealth, and the absence of boredom. Only a deep love-of-country can make someone become an Assistant Secretary of HHS or a Director of OIRA or a Representative from the area around Knoxville.
Nobody enters politics seeking to make their country poorer, weaker, and more miserable. Only patriots enter American politics. And trying to mold America's mid-twenty-first century politics into a pattern like that of present-day Argentina is not a patriotic thing to do.
thanks to Tapped
Shocking new info about tapioca
Like all decent Americans, I was shocked this week to learn that millions of schoolchildren from semi-indigent families were receiving federally subsidized school lunches to which they were not entitled. These little criminals were sneaking nutrition from under the noses of taxpayers.
Don't they know we have better things to spend money on? Defense contractor overruns, for instance -- in this time of crisis, who's going to quibble about a billion dollars? Technological progress comes at a price: If we have to build a whole new city next to Aspen just to handle the new winter homes of defense contractor CEOs, it's a small sacrifice.
Fortunately, the Bush administration is all over these lunch cheats. In previous years, parents were required to submit income statements, and a small percentage were checked. Think of the abuse! Ineligible children chowing down on sloppy joes and carrot rounds! Makes your blood boil.
thanks to Dumbmonkey
The George Grantham Bain Collection represents the photographic files of one of America's earliest news picture agencies. The collection richly documents sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, political activities including the woman suffrage campaign, conventions and public celebrations. The photographs Bain produced and gathered for distribution through his news service were worldwide in their coverage, but there was a special emphasis on life in New York City. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1900s to the mid-1920s, but scattered images can be found as early as the 1860s and as late as the 1930s.
Ruth, Shore, Foster, and Gainer of the Boston Red Sox
[between ca.1908 and ca.1925]
Bob Melvin has spent the last three months shaking hands and posing for photos. Finally, it's time to put on his new uniform as manager of the Mariners and get to work. "I've done everything except what they hired me to do," Melvin said. "I'm very, very anxious to get on the field." The Mariners are getting an early start on spring training. Catchers and pitchers reported Feb. 9, and workouts begin Feb. 10 as Seattle prepares for a season-opening series in Japan against the Athletics. For Melvin, hired to replace the departed Lou Piniella, this day couldn't have come soon enough. "I'm still sleeping, but not as much," he said.
Baseball is back!