sometimes bad taste just hits the spot
thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!
The economy is a subject that will glaze the eyes of most. Well, unglaze those eyes and read these.
With the conquest of Iraq, the American Empire stands at its zenith. U.S. military supremacy is unchallenged. U.S. technological superiority is now taken as a given -- even by the Japanese. America’s most formidable enemy, the Soviet Union, is more than a decade in its grave. Our most likely future adversary, China, is several decades away from posing a threat to American global hegemony.
Even the French have been cowed into a sullen silence. The U.N. Security Council (the last bastion of French hopes for a "multi-polar" world) has placed its good housekeeping seal of approval on a unilateral, open-ended U.S. occupation of Iraq -- a colonial "mandate" in all but name.
As the neocons turn their attention to remaining members of the "Axis of Evil," the New American Century never looked so near at hand.
But a proverbial cloud – this one quite a bit bigger than a man’s hand – sits on the horizon. I’m not talking about the terrorists. Al Qaeda may still lurks in the weeds, wounded but dangerous. In imperial terms, however, bin Laden is just a nuisance -- and in some ways a useful one, given that anti-terrorism has become the rallying flag for an assertive, even aggressive, American foreign policy.
The threat I’m talking about is economic. Like the British Empire in the years after World War I, the American Empire is marching toward global domination on increasingly shaky financial legs:
At the risk of sounding like Chicken Little, I am going to describe the economic situation in plain English. The United States is flirting with a low-grade depression, one that may last for years unless the government takes decisive action to overcome it. This would most likely be depression with a small d, not the financial collapse and "grapes of wrath" devastation Americans experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. But the potential consequences, especially for the less affluent and the young, would be severe enough--a long interlude of sputtering stagnation, years of tepid growth and stubbornly high unemployment, punctuated occasionally with a renewed recession. Depression means an economy that is stuck in a ditch and cannot get out, unable to regain its normal energies for expansion. Japan, second-largest economy in the world, has been in this condition for roughly twelve years, following the collapse of its own financial bubble. If the same fate has befallen the United States, the globalized economy is imperiled, too, since America's market for imports and its huge trade deficits keep the global trading system afloat.
books, books, and more books
The Harvard Classics are online!
The Harvard Classics provided the general reader with a great storehouse of standard works in all the main departments of intellectual activity. To this storehouse the Lectures now open the door.
Through the Lectures the student is introduced to a vast range of topics, under the guidance of distinguished professors.
The Five-Foot Shelf, with its introductions, notes, guides to reading, and exhaustive indexes, may thus claim to constitute with these Lectures a reading course unparalleled in comprehensiveness and authority.
WILLIAM ALLAN NEILSON
thanks to dublog
dailyKOS has some good analysis on our new quagmire.
Lt. Gen David McKiernan faces a problem as old as Iraq: how to keep the tribes and various factions under control.
His methods have involved sweeps and nightly patrols in a war which may go on as long as Americans are in Iraq.
The White House and Defense Department are using loaded words like terrorists and Baathists, which may sound nice on Fox News, but does little to explain how complex the politics of Iraq are.
One must keep in mind Saddam used a complex series of bribes and a secret police establishment to work his magic. He rarely acted overtly, except when needed. But even he couldn't prevent a full-scale Shia uprising and many of the secret dead come from that period.
The US faces a grim series of realities and some military choices .
thanks to Eschaton
thanks to Eschaton
Sabotage Hits Iraq Pipeline as US Prepares to Resume Exports
City of Shadows
thanks to dublog
social security — you can just kiss it goodbye
This is a Salon article. You have to click through an ad. Do it. This is a must read.
The plot to kill Social Security
On May 28, in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Bush signed into law the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, the second major tax-cut bill of his presidency. The plan, which carries an official 10-year price tag of $350 billion but is likely to cost several times as much, has come under heavy criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, but as he signed the bill Bush insisted it would revive the U.S. economy.
The mechanism, as he outlined it, seems simple: The new tax cuts, Bush said, will let Americans keep more of "your own money." And "when people have more money, they can spend it on goods and services. And in our society, when they demand an additional good or a service, somebody will produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or a service, it means somebody is more likely to be able to find a job."
As the United States' economic doldrums continue, evaluating whether Bush's tax cuts make sense becomes an increasingly pressing task. The Dow may be rising, but employment is continuing to fall. Deflation is possible. The dollar is weakening. Local and state governments are beset by their own deficits, while the federal debt is ballooning at an astounding rate -- on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office warned that the federal government is headed for a record $400 billion deficit in 2003. And, perhaps most critically, there is a massive financial crisis looming on the horizon: the budget bomb caused by huge Social Security and Medicare benefits that will be paid out to retiring baby boomers beginning in 2008.
The White House says that supply-side tax cuts will cure all of our economy's problems, but a look at the record of such cuts in the Reagan years suggests just the opposite. Indeed, to many observers, a relentlessly executed program of tax cuts seems designed to accelerate a Social Security catastrophe, not avoid it.
thanks to BookNotes
Here is a selection of woodcuts by the Swiss-born artist Félix Vallotton (1865-1925), which I’ve gathered from diverse corners of the internet.
Vallotton’s bold designs, influenced by Japanese wood-block prints, helped establish the young artist’s reputation in 1890s Paris. These were just one aspect of his prolific output: he completed roughly 1,700 paintings in all, and still found time to write three novels…
After a flurry of false hope, the situation in Israel/Palestine only gets more depressing. I've been watching this closely for a year and half and I see the same pattern over and over again. As soon as Sharon is afraid that peace might break out, he can be counted on for a standard response. He assassinates a Palestinian leader, preferably Hamas, and waits for the retaliatory suicide bombing. It comes and then he can "protect" Israel by killing as many Palestinians as he can. It's worked well up to now and it still seems to be working.
Bush has inserted himself into this with his usual naiveté and arrogance, which can be a deadly combination.
Behind-the-scenes exchanges between President George Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at last week's Aqaba summit may hint at a certain shift in the American stance, from the Israeli to the Palestinian side, according to a participant in the three-way meeting of the delegations.
The source quoted Bush as telling his National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that "I see that we have a problem with Sharon," while saying of the Palestinians led by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, "We can work with them."
At one point, an irked Bush reportedly rebuked Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, telling him "Oh, but I think that you can [help the Palestinians]. And I think that you will."
So, has Mofaz been helping the Palestinians? Well, not exactly. Early last week Hamas attacked and killed Israeli soldiers. Israel called this an act of terrorism but it was a military action against a military occupation which is not terrorism and is legal. Israel responds with a rocket attack on a Hamas leader that kills several civilians. It's been downhill since.
Is Sharon to blame? Israelis wonder
Israel Kills Militant in Anti-Hamas Push
Doesn't sound like Israel is trying real hard for peace. But then, it never has. Here are some analysis pieces on the road map and recent events.
Until someone can lean on Sharon to stop, there will only be more blood on Israel's hands. And it doesn't look like there will be anyone that will stand up to Sharon. The butcher continues to do what he does so well.
Iraq's clear, present danger
``Democracy is a mental state that needs to be practiced,'' said Dr. Qassim H. Salih, a professor of psychology at Baghdad University. ``We can't let extreme groups take control and so we need America to stay here and help us learn to practice democracy -- but not forever.''
But Iraq's best-known political leaders have different ideas. The coalition working with the United States on forming a new government disagrees with the recent U.S. decision to delay handing over power and instead work with a handpicked Iraqi advisory council that would help Americans make policy for up to two years. The coalition is vowing to hold a national conference to pick new leaders no matter what America says or does, and it's expected that those leaders would seek real control.
That could put the United States in the difficult position of having to justify its advisory council over a group of Iraqi leaders chosen by a more inclusive and democratic process.
In the meantime, soldiers who long ago expected to be going home are the ones trying to keep the peace while the politicians keep going back to the drawing board. And the prospect of staying in Iraq much longer isn't going over well with many.
``Already the Iraqi people aren't crazy about us being here,'' Capt. Lagor said a day after fuming on the Baghdad bridge.
``They tolerate us,'' he said, ``but a lot of times I think people are waving at us and saying, `We want to . . . kill you.' ''
The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq, mostly Army soldiers. Collins predicted that it would require three to four divisions — about 60,000 to 80,000 troops — to maintain law and order long-term. Collins was optimistic that U.S. allies could provide up to three-quarters of those troops.
Military analysts doubt allies would produce that many troops. Even if they did, using a patchwork force would be a "bad idea," said Andrew Bacevich, a military analyst at Boston University.
"It would be OK if you were just babysitting," Bacevich said. "The truth is, however, that the war is not over."
The war is not over is a phrase you'll just have to get used to. Because it isn't closer to over.
Our allies are not going to join us in Iraq in large numbers. What parliament is going to vote to send thousands of troops to join an occupation which is bitterly opposed by most of their population. Who is going to suggest that they send their troops to patrol Falluja?
How the US could have planned to wage this war without allies support is beyond me. Rummy and his chickenhawk planners had their fun planning the war but they forgot to plan the peace. Now, you have a population both humiliated and angered at an occupation which they feel is leading to them turning into the next Palestinians.
"We are going to clean this place out," one American official said.
Gunmen have been using increasingly sophisticated techniques to attack American convoys in this area, using flares, lights in houses and lookouts to time attacks, American officers said. After weeks of low casualty rates, 10 Americans soldiers have been killed and dozens wounded in the last fifteen days
A brigade sized sweep to round up 400 people, three of whom may have dropped dead.
Yeah, an effective use of combat power....which will stop few attacks.
The US military's arrogance is apparent here in spades.
sex and peace
Come Back, Clinton Sex Nation
And women had dreams about him, wrote into magazines and called in to talk shows, and they were sexual dreams, trysts and liaisons and Monicas, because women, well, they knew.
They knew it was genuine. They knew Clinton was an honest appreciator of the female form. You get the distinct feeling that Clinton genuinely and respectfully and with great zeal (and yes, also some very poor taste) truly loved women, loved the female gender, so much so he screwed it all up and took it to painful and finally rather sleazy extremes.
Of course it's worth noting that Clinton's zest for flesh was nowhere near the glorious levels of gleeful sexaholism as that of our noble and heroic JFK, a man who merged with more women than Rocco Siffredi and went so far as to haul around his own personal giddy 19-year-old intern on road trips, just to service him sexually. Hey, just like Mick Jagger! Cool.
Oh but how Clinton was slandered. Oh but how he was swarmed upon, savagely, brutally, not just for screwing around, not merely for having an ugly and dumb-ass affair, not even for lying about it. But essentially for having sex at all, for actually appearing to enjoy it, unashamedly, and for being unable to control his appetites. For being, you know, human. Heaven forfend.
Then there's Bush. Oh dear god.
what the hell is art?
Marcel Duchamp is always interesting. This is a great site that shows the breadth and impact of his work. One of my favorite artists.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968): painter, sculptor and author, associated with Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism, though he avoided any alliances. Duchamp’s work is characterized by humor, a wide variety of media, and its incessant probing of the boundaries of art. His legacy includes the insight that art can be about ideas instead of objects, a revolutionary notion that would resonate with later generations of artists.
thanks to dublog
the silk road journal
Sean-Paul's trip through some very interesting, but little known parts, of the world has begun. If this first entry in Turkey is any indication, it will be a must read.
“What is it that inspires man to create such magnificent edifices like this,” I thought to myself as I walked up to Blue Mosque. Six tall minarets ring the Mosque, four of which have three balconies, the other two on the west side of the courtyard have but two. The mosque is a stately grayish white stone topped by 16 slate blue domes. It is said that there are 16 for the year in which it was built by I find this to a bit dubious, as the mosque would have been built early in the Muslim era and they use a different calendar than we in the West.
As I walked through the delicately manicured gardens of fir (?) that precede the entrance to the main courtyard of the mosque a whirlpool of emotions flowed through me. Of course there was anger. Anger at 9/11. Anger at the fact that they are just different from us, but there was in me some peace as well (if it is possible to be both angry and at peace simultaneously.
Passing through the courtyard towards the Iwan or main entrance to the mosque I was greeted by a man that handed me a plastic bag, informing me that “you shoes, must put in bag.” It is forbidden to wear shoes inside the mosque. He obviously found me a bit odd, with my bald head and someone un-American attire. “Where from, you are?” he asked in a soft Turkish lilt.
“America,” I replied hoping to dodge the next question.
“Shit,” I think to myself but I answer honestly, “Texas.”
He frowned, but I quickly followed up with an hearty, “ I DO NOT like Bush!”
“Ah, you are a good man. We do not like him here too.”
“Yeah, I kind of figured that out.”
thanks to plep
Much like its successful military campaign in Iraq, the Pentagon is moving at seemingly breakneck speed to re-deploy U.S. forces and equipment around the world in ways that will permit Washington to play ''GloboCop,' according to a number of statements by top officials and defense planners.
While preparing sharp reductions in forces in Germany, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, military planners are talking about establishing semi-permanent or permanent bases along a giant swathe of global territory--increasingly referred to as 'the arc of instability'--from the Caribbean Basin through Africa to South and Central Asia and across to North Korea.
The latest details, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, include plans to increase U.S. forces in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa across the Red Sea from Yemen, set up semi-permanent 'forward bases' in Algeria, Morocco and possibly Tunisia, and establish smaller facilities in Senegal, Ghana and Mali that could be used to intervene in oil-rich West African countries, particularly Nigeria.
Similar bases--what some call 'lily pads'--are now being sought or expanded in northern Australia, Thailand (whose prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has found this to figure high on the bilateral agenda in talks here this week), Singapore, the Philippines, Kenya, Georgia, Azerbaijan, throughout Central Asia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Qatar, Vietnam and Iraq.
It is our ethnic and cultural diversity—0ur differences in language, customs, and beliefs—that provide the strength, resiliency, and creativity of our species.
thanks to Solipsistic
In the introduction to "Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism," author Doug Rushkoff explains when the early '90s Internet revolution turned into the greed-driven, dot-com rush of the late '90s, he found himself in an intellectual bind. "How could I still promote the empowering side of interactive media without pumping up a Ponzi scheme that was destined for casualties?" he writes. His answer was to turn to Judaism, not only his cultural and spiritual roots, but also what he describes as the original religion of media literacy.
Rushkoff, a self-described lapsed Jew, spent two years getting literate in Judaism by traveling around the country attending synagogues, reading the Torah and talking with Jews across the cultural and political spectrum. The result is a book in which he places Judaism within a modern context for his generation. He also argues that the religion is on the brink of becoming irrelevant because its most core value of open-ended inquiry has been obscured by an obsession with self-preservation and idolatry.
Last week, the United Jewish Appeal center in New York pulled an interview with Rushkoff off the organization's Web site, arguing that his questions about Israel were too controversial. Recently, I sat down with Rushkoff in the East Village of Manhattan to discuss how the incident has proved his point about the religion's mainstream, the marketing of so-called "Jewish chic" to 20- and 30-somethings, and what Judaism at its core means to him today.
Check out Doug Rushkoff's blog.
testingtesting tries something new
TestingTesting has largely been a music show webcast from my living room. We have occasionally moved out of the living room onto the concert stage. Promoting concerts has its ups but it also is a recipe for nervous breakdowns as you face financial ruin if the ticket buyers don't show up to cover your costs.
Earlier this year, we did a couple of webcasts from Robbie Cribb's new house and recording studio, Sound Trap Studios. Robbie had a house concert with Gideon Freudmann and we did a Monday night TestingTesting with Small Potatoes. As Scott Marrs said when he walked into the room, before Gideon's show, "This isn't a perfect place for a house concert. This is *the* perfect place for a house concert."
Robbie, Marnie, Zoe, and I got together and we decided to try a small concert series and call it Live at Soundtrap. I spent yesterday doing a poster and getting a website up for this new venture. Karin Blaine, who has been on TT before, will be our first performer. This will give performers a chance to show more than they can in the living room format. The TT House Band will open and there will be a show guestbook for you to enter comments during the show, which I will read to Karin. If you can make it to the show, do so. It will be great fun. If you can't make it to the show, click on in to TestingTesting Saturday night, June 21. We are advertising a 7:30 start for those at the show but I think it will actually get going around 7:45.
zoe & gordy
Friday I asked Zoe to marry me. Zoe has been reluctant to talk about it with others because she wanted to hold on to a very special feeling. She finally wrote about my proposal in her blog:
I guess it's time to come out of hiding and try to say a few words about what is happening in my life.
I have been loathe to do this, only becuase it is so special and magical and wonderful and all mine..well, more specifically, mine and Gordy's...it's a feeling that is bigger than I dare put to words.
Gordy proposed on June 6th about 8:00PM on Honeymoon Lake.
I was totally taken by surprise...such a wonderful beautiful surprise.
Indeed, everything seems to have changed. It is a wonderful feeling. I love you so much, Zoe.
quote of the day
Last calendar year in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained in value : 1999
Last period in which the Dow declined for four consecutive years : 1929-1932
U.S. Soldiers Face Growing Resistance
Attacks on American troops are growing in frequency and sophistication across central Iraq, a crescent of discontent and hostility where many Iraqis remain opposed to the U.S. occupation of their country.
Almost every day, well-organized groups of assailants using assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars are ambushing U.S. Army convoys, patrols, checkpoints, garrisons and public offices used by troops to interact with the civilian population.
In response, U.S. forces are trying to crush resistance through house-to-house searches, arms seizures and deadly force, in some cases with fatal consequences for innocent bystanders.
A latte - and a rifle to go
How, for instance, can the Americans still be failing, weeks after the fall of Baghdad, to keep any kind of electricity running for more than about an hour at a time, leaving the streets insanely, medievally dark? What are the aid agencies playing at and why, while we're at it, when it's about 40 in the shade, have the mad Koreans just sent a few tons of winter blankets? How hot will it have to get - and it hits 60 and above in July - before, still painfully short of clean water, normal Baghdadis take to the streets and finally do what Saddam wanted - go for the occupying troops with the many thousands of guns now looted from Baathist armouries?
And didn't anyone realise that, if you can surgically take out almost every ministry (the oil building was left strangely untouched), it might be an idea to have a vague plan to put something in their place? And why on earth are the Iraqis here, where nothing works, apologising to me ?
It was when I met the poet and the painter that I first began to question aspects of my tottering grasp on reality, but it was poisonously hot and I was, after all, in an insane asylum, which is actually a fine place to be if you're going to go mad.
It was only three hours into the workday, but Mr. Leaby's frustrations started, as they do every morning, when he arrived around 8 to the lone refurbished office in a complex of buildings so thoroughly ransacked that birds dart through the upper stories. Employees of South Oil, Iraq's leading oil producer before the war, are now idle because looting has brought most of the company to a standstill.
"The other day, there was looting and sabotage at the North Rumaila field," Mr. Leaby said. "The day before that, at the Zubayr field. For three months, I've been talking, talking, talking about this, and I'm sick of it."
This is now the state of the Iraqi oil industry, custodian of the world's third largest oil reserves — an estimated 112 billion barrels — and the repository of hope for the United States-led alliance and the Iraqi people themselves. Money from oil, the Bush administration has said repeatedly, will drive Iraq's economic revival, which in turn will foster the country's political stability. Many Iraqis agree.
Yet from the vast Kirkuk oil field in the north to the patchwork of rich southern fields around Basra, Iraq's oil industry, once among the best-run and most smartly equipped in the world, is in tatters.
'The book that made Britain', The Sunday Times (11 May 2003).
See one of the world's most breathtaking symbols of faith; understand how and why this great book was made.
This is a story with many angles. You'll find out about the life work of one man on the island of Lindisfarne in the early eighth century. But you'll also see a sumptuous tapestry of faith, politics, design, fashion and trade on the world stage.
thanks to BookLab II
One of the saddest and most dangerous aspects of America today is that so many people — at both the elite and mass level — have simply given up on democracy and live their lives as if citizens should properly have no say in the actions taken by government in their name. Bush’s two main wars — the pre-emptive one against Iraq and the class war on behalf of the wealthy against the poor and middle class — would not be possible if Americans took democracy seriously. They would have known that the administration was dissembling about the nature of the threat posed by Saddam to the U.S. and they would understand that Bush is destroying the basis of middle-class prosperity for the nation and doing his damnedest to turn the country into Texas, with its largely privatized, beggar-thy-neighbor economy.
These midwest front pictures scare the bejeebus out of me. Our clouds in the Great Northwet are very mild mannered (uniformly gray) compared to this.
A source dedicated to severe storm and tornado education for spotters, enthusiasts, and scientists alike who share an avid interest in atmospheric violence.
thanks to Solipsistic
"Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA," former CIA counter-intelligence head Vincent Cannistraro told the Guardian last October. This was a month after the Pentagon's intelligence agency reported it lacked credible evidence that Iraq had chemical weapons, despite the Bush administration's many assurances otherwise. Yet here we are, nine months later, and these allegations are just making their way into America's mainstream.
There is a sense of deja vu in all of this, of course. Well before George Bush delivered his ultimatum to the United Nations, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the president's true intentions. "Even if Baghdad readmits United Nations arms inspectors, the United States will still pursue a 'regime change' policy, with or without the support of its allies," Colin Powell asserted, eight months before UN inspectors returned to Iraq. And, true to form, nine months before the American media reported on John Poindexter's new role at the Pentagon, the Guardian had it covered.
And so, as people across the globe invariably wonder why US citizens are so naive and malleable, reporters and pundits are either stunned to learn that the Bush administration hyped the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, or even worse, assure Americans it doesn't matter, because in this particular version of democracy, the ends justify the means. The implied assertion is: You don't need to know the truth because quite frankly, you can't handle the truth.
Or perhaps it's something deeper? More than forty years ago, John F. Kennedy addressed this phenomenon at a commencement address at Yale University. "For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic," he said. "Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
thanks to BookNotes
bowling pin art
thanks to The J-Walk Weblog
#The leopard's spots. Has Sharon changed his skin?
It may seem like that. He has spoken about the "occupation" (and denied it immediately). He is going to remove outposts (but only make-believe outposts). He talks about a "Palestinian state" (But not about the "State of Palestine"). So what has happened? Has he got old? Desperate? Wise?
None of these. As a son of the soil, he is sensitive to changes in the weather. He notices the new winds blowing from Washington. The smiling George W., his great buddy, adopts a rough tone in private conversations. He dictates instead of discussing. He issues ultimatums. What is to be done?
Sharon behaves like the Jew who was threatened with death if he did not teach the Polish nobleman's beloved horse to read and write. Pleading that the job is difficult, the Jew asked for three years. "By then, either the horse or the nobleman will be dead," he comforted his despairing wife.
The Japanese take truck art to a very different place.
thanks to MetaFilter
Bush's Scorched-Earth Campaign
Every president for nearly a century has had political operatives in the White House to advise him on how his decisions would play with the public and tell him what the ramifications of policy would be on his reelection prospects. But few Americans are cynical enough to believe that this political gamesmanship is anything other than a means to an end, the end being to effectuate policy. Teddy Roosevelt had trusts to bust and Manifest Destiny to fulfill; FDR a Depression to tame; Richard Nixon a détente to achieve; Ronald Reagan a government to shrink and a Cold War to win; Bill Clinton social programs to save from the conservative hatchet.
And so it has always been — until now. From the moment of his disputed election in 2000, President Bush has been dramatically reversing the traditional relationship between politics and policy. In his administration, politics seem less a means to policy than policy is a means to politics. Its goal is not to further the conservative revolution as advertised. The presidency's real goal is to disable the Democratic opposition, once and for all.
thanks to Cursor
The City of Petra was hidden in the mountains of Jordan for thousands of years when a young Swiss explorer Johan Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it in 1812. Temples, tombs, and other buildings are all carved out of the sandstone cliffs, which also gives it the name the "rose red city". In the last scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade the Treasury serves as a secret temple lost for hundreds of years. And that is actually what it is. This place is impossible to capture in a normal still image. You have to visit it, or the next best - You can see it in a cubic QTVR as here in Greg Downings panorama made last year as an assignment for Intel.
the silk road has another traveler
Sean-Paul has started his trip along the Silk Road. He will be blogging as he goes.
I am reminded of an old Spanish proverb right now: 'Traveler, there are no roads. Roads are made by walking.'
And that is exactly what I am going to do.
I want to thank everyone that wished us those good wishes on the announcement of my engagement to the amazing Zoe. No date yet. There are many things to put in order before there will be a date, but plans are being planned even as we blog.
Iraqi Attacks Imperil U.S. Rule
In another sign of rising armed resistance to the U.S.-led occupation, one American soldier was killed and five others wounded early Thursday in an ambush just hours after the U.S. Army sent reinforcements here.
Though occupation authorities say they do not believe attacks are being organized on a national level, they acknowledge that strikes against U.S.-led forces have almost tripled — from 30 in April to 85 in May — and are planned, in most cases, they say, by remnants of Saddam Hussein's government.
This tense and increasingly volatile situation in central Iraq — with Fallouja as the primary hot spot — reflects a troublesome trend that threatens to undermine the U.S. occupation: Each time there is an attack on troops, the military steps up the kind of activities that many Iraqis say inspire them to resist. And each time the Iraqis resist, U.S. forces step up their enforcement efforts.
It's beginning to sound like the West Bank.
This is not getting any better by the day, is it?
Where are all the neo-cons and their online friends talking about our great victory in Iraq. How we got rid of Saddam. Well, the word I would use is evicted. We threw him out of his palaces. The odds are good that we have done little else to him.
The article suggest the greatest threat is from the Sunnis angered at their loss of status. Sure, until the Shia clerics realize that if a war starts, they better get their share of dead Americans as well. The fact is that this situation is spinning out of control slowly. And the US has the wrong forces deployed in the wrong way to deal with a guerrilla war.
The fact is that the US has no natural allies in Iraq. Even Chalabi expects more of a role in running Iraq. This is fast becoming untenable. If a war starts, we have whole units isolated and deployed as little more than cops across the country.
We are facing a total collapse of our Iraq policy not within years or months, but weeks. If the pace of combat increases and we have to hunt down guerrillas through every village, and deal with platoon and company-sized ambushes, we will be fighting to hang on.
The Army now has 128,000 troops in Iraq, along with 15,000 British troops and a U.S. Marine contingent that is drawing down to about 7,000. An additional 45,000 Army troops are in Kuwait providing support. The Army contribution adds up to the equivalent of just over five divisions out of a total active-duty strength of 10 divisions.
"This is a problem," the senior Pentagon official said, then quickly amended the comment, adding: "It is only a problem depending upon how quickly or how long it takes to get the coalition to come in to relieve this pressure."
I wouldn't hold my breath.
The "coalition" is not going to send troops into a civil war. Which is what is going to happen well before September. The mystery troops now shooting Americans are only going to grow in numbers, not shrink. Iraqis would be loath to accept any occupation, but one which leaves them in danger and victim of searches even Saddam didn't do, is one which cannot stand for long.
US troops may well be stuck, not in an occupation, but a full-blown Congo-like civil war within weeks. Who is going to help us out of that mess? The coalition of the billing? Spanish and Italian troops?
Downsizing in Disguise
The streets of Baghdad are a swamp of crime and uncollected garbage. Battered local businesses are going bankrupt, unable to compete with cheap imports. Unemployment is soaring and thousands of laid-off state workers are protesting in the streets.
In other words, Iraq looks like every other country that has undergone rapid-fire "structural adjustments" prescribed by Washington, from Russia's infamous "shock therapy" in the early 1990s to Argentina's disastrous "surgery without anesthetic." Except that Iraq's "reconstruction" makes those wrenching reforms look like spa treatments.
thanks to Iconomy
"Can a society whose culture is so given over to excessive commercialization ever function as a deliberative democracy? Can the public find and develop its own sovereign voice, or has its character been so transformed by commercial media . . . that public life will forever be a stunted thing?" – David Bollier, p. 148 in "Silent Theft."
David Bollier's alarming and vital book, titled "Silent Theft: the Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth," describes a stealthy, violent attack on public life in America. The things we share freely and enjoy in common – our culture and public knowledge, public assets, public services, public spaces, public lands – define us as the American people. Slowly, deliberately, they are becoming private assets and services, private spaces, proprietary knowledge, and trademarked culture, to be marketed for corporate profit. The vibrant body politic is becoming a mundane body economic.
This sea change in our public life is primarily the result of the efforts of 12 archconservative philanthropic foundations that set out 40 years ago to advance an ideology known as "neoliberalism," or "free market theology." These foundations – call them the Diligent Dozen – chose to fund not humanitarian projects but ideological programs, and they were willing to do so decade after decade, spending hundreds of millions in the effort.
They were published from the 1940's through the 1960's by Alfred Mainzer Inc. in New York City. The early postcards had a rough finish, brilliant colors, and scalloped ("deckled") edges. The cards were printed in Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey, and Spain. An additional series of Mainzer dressed cats were published as the "Kunzli edition" - these appear to be set in older European environments, and are typically not as brightly colored as the American editions. Mainzer also did a smaller series of "dressed dogs" and "dressed mice," as well as scenic postcards. We've also recently learned that there may be a "dressed hedgehog" series.
thanks to Iconomy
Is President Bush lying about WMD in Iraq?
If he is, and it can be proven that he knew there were no WMD there, his presidency will be over. He would face immediate demands to resign or an impeachment. The loss to the nation and the presidency is so grave, he and Cheney could not survive the uproar.
Have presidents lied about national defense? Yes, but not about the actual cause for war. Even the Gulf of Tonkin was not an outright lie, There were plenty lies of ommission there, but no lie of commission.
However, I tend to think that Bush actually believes that WMD will be found. His pathetic claim that three broken down trailers are some kind of James Bondian laboratory is not an act of a liar, but of a mark. He refuses to believe the obvious, because the fantasy is much more appealing.
Is lying about the reason for a war an impeachable offense?
President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a joint resolution authorizing the use of U.S. military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake -- acts of war against another nation.
Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away -- unless, perhaps, they start another war.
That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.
Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.
Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs'
The British review comes amid widespread doubts expressed by scientists on both sides of the Atlantic that the trucks could have been used to make biological weapons.
Instead The Observer has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.
Iraq's WMD Intelligence: Where is the Outrage?
Meanwhile, the President seems oblivious to the controversy swirling about the justification for the invasion of Iraq. Our nation's credibility before the world is at stake. While his Administration digs in to defend the status quo, Members of Congress are questioning the credibility of the intelligence and the public case made by this Administration on which the war with Iraq was based. Members of the media are openly challenging whether America's intelligence agencies were simply wrong or were callously manipulated. Vice President Cheney's numerous visits to the CIA are being portrayed by some intelligence professionals as "pressure." And the American people are wondering, once again, what is going on in the dark shadows of Washington.
It is time that we had some answers. It is time that the Administration stepped up its acts to reassure the American people that the horrific weapons that they told us threatened the world's safety have not fallen into terrorist hands. It is time that the President leveled with the American people. It is time that we got to the bottom of this matter.
We have waged a costly war against Iraq. We have prevailed. But, we are still losing American lives in that nation. And the troubled situation there is far from settled. American troops will likely be needed there for years. Billions of American tax dollars will continue to be needed to rebuild. I only hope that we have not won the war only to lose the peace. Until we have determined the fate of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, or determined that they, in fact, did not exist, we cannot rest, we cannot claim victory.
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction remain a mystery and a conundrum. What are they, where are they, how dangerous are they? Or were they a manufactured excuse by an Administration eager to seize a country? It is time to answer these questions. It is time- past time - for the Administration to level with the American people, and it is time for the President to demand an accounting from his own Administration as to exactly how our nation was led down such a twisted path to war.
Souvenirs are important cultural objects which can store and communicate memories, emotions and desires. Buildings of Disaster are miniature replicas of famous structures where some tragic or terrible events happened to take place. The images of burning or exploded buildings make a different, populist history of architecture, one based on emotional involvement rather than scholarly appreciation. In a media-saturated time, world disasters stand as people's measure of history, and the sites of tragic events often become involuntary tourists destinations.
miniature replica of
texas schoolbook depository
thanks to Spitting Image
"I hope Sharon doesn't evacuate a single outpost. I hope another quarter million Jews settle in the territories." Those aren't the words of a Yesha council member. It was Michael Tarazi, an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, who said them. He doesn't believe it's possible to reach an agreement any longer on dividing the country along the 1967 lines. If it were up to him, the intifada would have long since been over - and possibly never taken place.
Tarazi proposes to let Israel sow as many settlements as it wants, and wait patiently until the Palestinians and Jews become one entity. He is convinced that in another 10 to 20 years, the world will impose a one person-one vote system on Israel. Then, what happened to the apartheid regime in South Africa will happen to Zionism; a Palestinian will be elected to head the new entity in the 1947 borders.
Sharon plans to drive down another road
As a soldier and politician, Sharon has always championed violent solutions. He has yet to learn you cannot have a winner and a loser in a peace process; that resolution of a conflict requires two winners. Nor does he understand Israel ought to end the occupation, not as a concession to the Palestinians, but as a favour to itself if it wishes to preserve its democratic and Jewish character. As Marx observed, a nation that oppresses another cannot itself remain free.
Sadly, the handshakes in Aqaba that gave rise to so much hope have but a slim chance of leading to a real breakthrough. What Sharon is prepared to concede falls short even of the most minimal Palestinian expectations of independence and statehood. It is the peace of the bully, rather than the peace of the brave. The irony is that Sharon is one of the moderates in an ultra-nationalist government.
With him and his party representing Israel, the quartet's road map is likely to lead nowhere slowly.
The settlers' large demonstration in Jerusalem last week, like the statements made and written by their leaders over the weekend, are evidence of severe ideological distress: They have no argument with which to convince Israeli society to continue to pay the cost stemming from their insistence on living in the heart of the Palestinian population, aside from their faith in divine promise, coupled with the premise that Arab undertakings must not be trusted.
Gone are the claims in all seriousness that the settlement establishment deep in the West Bank and Gaza Strip add to Israel's security. The assumption that the settlement enterprise has the power to realize the aspiration for a Greater Israel has also faded into thin air. Israeli society, for the most part, yearns for peace and accepts the expected establishment of a Palestinian state and a withdrawal (at least in part) from the territories. The way of the left is winning, though the left isn't reaping the credit for the success.
Settlers ready to give up homes
door and window art
The Kosovo conflict rendered a heavy toll on the housing stock; more than one third of the houses were damaged and destroyed. In the western part of Kosovo the damage was more intense and amounted to around 80% of the total, due to concentrated militia resistance. Neglect and lack of maintenance in about ten years of instability also played a role. International organizations came to Kosovo in the summer of 1999 and started the reconstruction campaign. Traditional houses received their share of the destruction, but they were overlooked in the reconstruction process. The two main types of Kosovar-Albanian traditional houses that prevail in Kosovo are: the stone house (kulla) and the Ottoman type town house (cardak).
thanks to Iconomy
For the first time since the Korean war the United States is to withdraw its troops from the border between North and South, a redeployment which raises the prospect of a US strike on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities.
In 1994 the White House rejected a Pentagon plan to launch an air attack on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, because of the vulnerability of American troops on the border and the millions of civilians in nearby Seoul.
Once those troops have been removed, the US will be in a stronger position to use its vastly superior long-range weapons.
During a visit to Seoul by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, this week, American officials said the redeployment would allow the US to start "taking down" North Korean troops within an hour of a conflict beginning, and to launch counter-strikes at Pyongyang.
You've probably seen them on national TV: The former dental student, Dr Richard Bailey (now a real dentist) and his college roommate Jonah White. They've made a livin' givin' over 5 million Americans (and their children) that beautiful Billy-Bob smile. Now, it's time to hook yerself up. Make everybody jealous at your trailer court by bringin' home dem Billy-Bob Teeth and Billy-Bob Pacifiers!
thanks to Geisha asobi blog
It's good to see that these books will still be available. Publishing houses interested in quality — what a concept!
One year after John Martin closed Black Sparrow Publishers—home to many of the 20th century's best-known avant-garde, Beat and Neo-Beat writers—David R. Godine Publisher in Boston announced that it has obtained the rights to publish under the Black Sparrow name. Godine, which took over the bulk of Black Sparrow's list, 185 titles, will launch its Black Sparrow Books imprint this fall. Christopher Carduff, most recently an editor with Counterpoint and Houghton Mifflin, has been named publisher and editorial director.
Four other Black Sparrow authors that were transplanted to other houses are also thriving. Ecco Press bought the works of Charles Bukowski, Paul Bowles (it already published some of Bowles's books) and John Fante. Ecco's purchase included five previously unpublished Bukowski books, which it began issuing in January with Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way: New Poems. It plans to release one new book a year. In what editorial director Dan Halpern termed "a perfect Bukowski twist," these books contain the poems that Bukowski deemed his best work, but which were never published. "Every time he turned in a book, he would mark the poems he liked best. They were not published in the books; he asked John Martin to publish them posthumously," Halpern explained.
thanks to D r. M e n l o
David R. Godine, Publisher
Black Sparrow Books (The site is still under construction.)
thanks to wood s lot
The Bush administration has given up on the art of pretense. There are no more illusions about its predatory attitude toward the environment. No more airy talk about how financial incentives and market forces can protect ecosystems. No more soft rhetoric about how the invisible hand of capitalism has a green thumb.
Now it's down to brass tacks. The Bush administration is steadily unshackling every restraint on the corporations that seek to plunder what is left of the public domain.
For decades, the last obstacle to the wholesale looting of American forests, deserts, mountains and rivers has been the Endangered Species Act, one of the noblest laws ever to emerge from congress. Of course, the ESA has been battered before. Indeed, Al Gore, as a young congressman, led one of the first fights against the law in order to build the Tellico Dam despite the considered opinion of scientists that it would eradicate the snail darter. Reagan and the mad James Watt did also violence to the law. Bush Sr. bruised it as well in the bitter battles over the northern spotted owl. Despite green credentials, Clinton and Bruce Babbitt tried to render the law meaningless, by simply deciding not to enforce its provisions and by routinely handing out exemptions to favored corporations.
But the Bush administration, under the guidance of Interior Secretary Gale Norton, has taken a different approach: a direct assault on the law seeking to make it as extinct as the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Give them points for brutal honesty.
This site gives you a glimpse of an evolving series of images made using a flatbed scanner in place of a traditional camera. This body of work is my attempt to create a dreamlike world inhabited by everyday objects which take on new meanings unique to each viewer.
thanks to Solipsistic
America's Global Role
Because open society is an abstract idea, I shall proceed from the abstract and general to the concrete and particular. The concept of "open society" was developed by philosopher Karl R. Popper, whose book "Open Society and Its Enemies" argued that totalitarian ideologies – such as communism and fascism – posed a threat to an open society because they claimed to have found the final solution. The ultimate truth is beyond human reach. Those who say they are in possession of it are making a false claim, and they can enforce it only by coercion and repression. So Popper derived the principles of freedom and democracy – the same principles that President Bush championed in his February speech on Iraq – from the recognition that we may be wrong.
That brings us to the crux of the matter. Bush makes absolutely no allowance for the possibility that we may be wrong, and he has no tolerance for dissenting opinion. If you are not with us you are against us, he proclaims. Donald Rumsfeld berates our European allies who disagree with him on Iraq in no uncertain terms, and he has a visceral aversion to international cooperation, be it with NATO or UN peacekeepers in Afghanistan. And John Ashcroft accuses those who opposed the USA Patriot Act of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. These are the views of extremists, not adherents to an open society. Perhaps because of my background, these views push the wrong buttons in me. And I am amazed and disappointed that the general public does not have a similar allergic reaction. Of course, that has a lot to do with September 11.
But the trouble goes much deeper. It is not merely that the Bush administration's policies may be wrong, it is that they are wrong, and I would go even further: They are bound to be wrong because they are based on a false ideology. A dominant faction within the Bush administration believes that international relations are relations of power. Because we are unquestionably the most powerful, they claim, we have earned the right to impose our will on the rest of the world.
If ever you are in the San Diego area, make a trip up Palomar Mountain. The 200-inch telescope at the Palomar Observatory is truly a thing of beauty. These drawings were done by the telescope designer prior to the building of the telescope.
thanks to dublog
More information on the Palomar Observatory.
Duped and Betrayed
According to The New Republic, Senator Zell Miller — one of a dwindling band of Democrats who still think they can make deals with the Bush administration and its allies — got shafted in the recent tax bill. He supported the bill in part because it contained his personal contribution: a measure requiring chief executives to take personal responsibility for corporate tax declarations. But when the bill emerged from conference, his measure had been stripped out.
Will "moderates" — the people formerly known as "conservatives" — ever learn? Today's "conservatives" — the people formerly known as the "radical right" — don't think of a deal as a deal; they think of it as an opportunity to pull yet another bait and switch.
Let's look at the betrayals involved in this latest tax cut.
Most media attention has focused on the child tax credit that wasn't. As in 2001, the administration softened the profile of a tax cut mainly aimed at the wealthy by including a credit for families with children. But at the last minute, a change in wording deprived 12 million children of some or all of that tax credit. "There are a lot of things that are more important than that," declared Tom DeLay, the House majority leader. (Maybe he was thinking of the "Hummer deduction," which stayed in the bill: business owners may now deduct up to $100,000 for the cost of a vehicle, as long as it weighs at least 6,000 pounds.)
Less attention has been paid to fine print that reveals the supposed rationale for the dividend tax cut as a smoke screen. The problem, we were told, is that profits are taxed twice: once when they are earned, a second time when they are paid out as dividends. But as any tax expert will tell you, the corporate tax law is full of loopholes; many profitable corporations pay little or no taxes.
A L P H A D R O M E
thanks to Solipsistic