Kurds, Shiites Push Ahead on Iraq Gov't
Kurdish and Shiite leaders agreed Monday to convene Iraq's new parliament this week even if they fail to iron out some wrinkles in their deal to form a coalition government.
thanks to Antiwar.com
On Ending Military Occupations in the Middle East
Some Iraqis find it ironic that President Bush called for a withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon before the elections, but that elections were held in Iraq under conditions of foreign military occupation. Some quotes from the Knight Ridder story:
"He must have forgotten that his army is occupying Iraq," said Sa'ad Abdul Aziz, 21, an engineering student at Baghdad University. "What about the Republican Palace that they are using as a U.S. embassy?" . . .
"America should get out of Iraq immediately and without conditions, just like it is asking neighboring Syria to withdraw from the Lebanese Republic," said Sheikh Nasir Al-Saidi, imam of a mosque in the restive Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, in a front-page article Saturday in the newspaper Azzaman. . .
Kurds' Return to City Shakes Politics in Iraq
Muhammad Ahmed realized how wide the chasm between Kurds and Arabs here had grown when he recently ran into a former classmate on the serpentine streets of this troubled city.
Fallujah, Tent City, Awaits Compensation
Al-Zaman/ AFP: The Iraqi government has yet to pay out any compensation to the inhabitants of Fallujah from the funds dedicated to the rebuilding of the city, which was assaulted by the US Marines and Iraqi forces beginning last November 8 in order to root out guerrillas who were thought to dominate it. Most of its buildings and homes were damaged, such that most of its former residents still live in the hills southwest of the city in tents erected hastily in the wilderness. The Iraqi government had established committees to identify damaged buildings and to survey the damage in preparation for the payment of monetary compensation that would allow rebuilding.
A Breeding Ground For Tyrants
The irritating sound of a ringing phone brought me roughly back to reality. I had been lost in the serenity of the snow-covered peaks of the La Plata and San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado. At first, there was no immediate response to my hello. I thought it a call from a telemarketer, but after the pause, was delighted to hear the voice of a damn good soldier I have known for over two decades, who is on his second tour in Iraq. His response to my question of what was going on over there now, still assaults my conscience: "Well, this morning our unit went out and shot up a bunch of civilians and our commander is writing it up as a great military victory."
Italy Aims to Begin Withdrawing Troops From Iraq in September
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said today that he aimed to begin withdrawing Italy's 3,000 troops from Iraq by September, in a signal that the domestic cost of loyalty to the United States over the war was growing too high.
thanks to RangeFinderForum.com
On Revolutionary Optimism
The View from Cumberland County, North Carolina
I saw an old reel of a speech by Fidel Castro not long ago, where he said that "a revolutionary is never a pessimist; a revolutionary is always an optimist." This from a person whose political demise has been predicted by an enraged US lumpen-bourgeoisie and their gusano pals through ten US presidents, and who in the face of a malicious embargo has still managed the elimination of homelessness and illiteracy, reduction of infant mortality below that of the US, and provision of one physician for every 200 citizens of Cuba. This only scratches the surface of the accomplishments of our neighbors off the coast of Florida. I just came back from Haiti, where the only place anyone but the rich can find medical help at all is at the hundreds of Cuban clinics across the country, which Cuba has provided to Haiti at no cost.
It is hard to be an optimist these days, especially when we have access to the internet, where we can quickly familiarize ourselves with a seemingly infinite list of particular and terrible manifestations of this system in its current US imperial form. It is overwhelming, and people who are overwhelmed begin seek higher levels of personal serenity through acceptance. This tumble into despair is based on a mistake, I think, and so as we approach the second anniversary of the US ground offensive into Iraq, I want to explain why I think that is a mistake, and why I think old Fidel is exactly right.
thanks to Life In The Present
Revealed: Israel plans strike on Iranian nuclear plant
ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme.
thanks to Antiwar.com
US "hallucinating" over iran nuclear talks
Washington is "hallucinating" if it thinks Iran will scrap its nuclear fuel production plans in return for economic incentives, a senior Iranian official has been quoted as saying.
Colored Pencil Society of America
thanks to J-Walk Blog
You can trust the Israelis, can't you?
I don't like the term "apartheid wall" for the security fence Israel is building in the West Bank. Israel is not engaged in building an apartheid regime. The fence is an Israeli tool to engage in ethnic cleansing, as a recent article by Amira Haas makes clear. (full article follows below).
Ha'aretz - 09/03/2005 You can trust the Israelis, can't you? By Amira Hass Two weeks ago, Omar Awad called in his eldest son Fuad, 15, for a man-to-man talk. "I explained to him: `We don't have land, we don't have a country, the land is gone, the country is gone. And I don't want to see you sitting in jail someday for something that isn't going to come back.' For whom would he sit in jail? For the people with all the millions? `All I want from you is to study,' I told him. `Learn well. There is a good school here in the village. Do your matriculation exams, so that I can send you abroad to study.'"
Fuad is named for Omar's brother, who was 14 when he was shot to death in front of Omar's eyes by the Border Police, in their village, Nahalin, which lies to the west of Bethlehem. That same day, Israeli soldiers killed five residents of the village. Ever since, the name Nahalin has sent a tremor of shock through the hearts of Palestinians.
PHOTOS OF A MAYA COMMUNITY
The photos and text presented here are based on my anthropological field work in Zinacantan, Chiapas, Mexico. They were published in Another Place: Photographs of a Maya Community (Scrimshaw Press 1974). The book has been out of print for many years.
Helena Cobban lived in Lebanon during the civil war. She knows Lebanon.
Today is the one-month commemoration of Rafiq Hariri's killing. The organizers of the (heavily anti-Syrian) "We want an investigation into the killing!" movement have been organizing a demonstration today, and according to early press reports have been able to pull together a crowd in Beirut that may equal that pulled together by Hizbullah last Tuesday...
In such a highly-charged situation it's extremely hard to find reporting, including on the estimated size of demonstrations, that is objective enough to rely on. (The BBC's website was particularly unhelpful on the size and nature of Hizbullah's March 8 demonstration--though the BBC World News t.v. feed was pretty good on it. Here's the latest BBC website report on today's pro-investigation event.)
My present conclusions from the events of the past month in Lebanon-- and from my conversations there last fall, and my preceding 30 years of study of and life within the country-- are the following:
As regular readers know, I've been building up my photography kit with what could be called bottom feeders — old cameras that have seen better days but are cheap. Well, what I've been finding is that these old cameras more than hold their own when compared to modern cameras. This is a very interesting contest where people took pictures near their home with cameras built before 1970. They submitted the picture and a picture of the camera. Cameras from Leicas to box cameras.
Classic Camera Contest
"Where I Live"
Camera – Leica IIIF rd/st from 1956
Lens – Leitz Summaron 35mm f:3.5 from 1950
Film – Old Tri-x rated at 1600 asa
Location – Lisbon - Portugal
thanks to RangeFinderForum.com
The contest was hosted by David Richert whose site David Richert is worth checking out.
global climate change
Himalayan glaciers 'melting fast'
In a report, the WWF says India, China and Nepal could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades.
The Himalayas contain the largest store of water outside the polar ice caps, and feed seven great Asian rivers.
The group says immediate action against climate change could slow the rate of melting, which is increasing annually.
"The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.
"But in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive eco and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and northern India."
This book arrived Saturday:
Large Format Nature Photography
by Jack Dykinga
It's not a detailed user book for view cameras but is a good introduction with some good advice. (Lots of good pictures, too!) One of the pieces of advice is to learn one lens at a time. I only have one lens ready to shoot — the 10 inch Elgeet. It's long for 4x5 but I might as well start there. I will be ordering film soon. Then I will start shooting while getting the other lenses in lens boards.
Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens
Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America's political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.
The proposals typically stop short of overturning evolution or introducing biblical accounts. Instead, they are calculated pleas to teach what advocates consider gaps in long-accepted Darwinian theory, with many relying on the idea of intelligent design, which posits the central role of a creator.
The growing trend has alarmed scientists and educators who consider it a masked effort to replace science with theology. But 80 years after the Scopes "monkey" trial -- in which a Tennessee man was prosecuted for violating state law by teaching evolution -- it is the anti-evolutionary scientists and Christian activists who say they are the ones being persecuted, by a liberal establishment.
My medium format kit is complete. Last night I won an Agfa Isolette II.
These folders, well...fold. The make a very compact camera that will fit in a coat pocket. It's a 6x6 square format. Check out Agfa and Ansco Medium Format Folders, a practical view. This one is pretty dirty and will probably take some effort to make a user again but for $15.60 I can't go too wrong. While this one looks pretty dirty, check out what Jurgen does with them. If it proves too much for me I will send it off to Jurgen. He charges around $100 for a basic CLA with a new bellows. Fortunately there are a number of sites with information on working on these cameras: Agfa and Dismantling the Apotar Lens. Take a look at this one.
One of the drawbacks to the Isolette II is that it is a scale focus camera. You estimate the distance and then adjust the lens for that distance. The Isolette III has a rangefinder but it is uncoupled which means you still have to adjust the focus on the lens. In my searches for shutter cleaning, last night, I found this: Human Rangefinder Card Generator (with hyperfocal distance chart) v0.2. You enter in the pertinent information and it prints out a business size rangefinder card. One for the Isolette would look like this:
You hold the card at arms length. You close your right eye and line up the object you want to focus on at 0. Then you switch eyes and the object will jump to the right and where it lands is the proper distance that you adjust the lens for. How simple is that? It actually works. I'm going to print the Sunny 16 rule on it and I'm set.