The conventions begin...
The conventions, and the message sent to the world
Imagine the imagery that will be projected to the world from the upcoming conventions. The DNC and RNC meet to nominate their candidates. Outside, streets are closed and barricaded for blocks. In Boston, police want to herd protestors into what even a federal judge calls "internment camps." In NYC, the "rally" will be isolated to the West Side Highway, far away from everything.
The whole world will watch, wonder, and ask; what happened to those freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly that America boasts of so much? Because what the world will see on the streets of Boston and NYC will not look like freedom at all.
Both Boston and Manhattan will effectively be gridlocked and locked down while the conventions are in town. Streets around the convention areas for blocks will be sealed off and barricaded. Protestors will not be allowed anywhere near the sites except for token marches under heavy guard. Surveillance cameras will be everywhere, and there will be thousands of police and no doubt military too.
Something is seriously wrong with this, especially for a country that prides itself on freedom of expression.
Tomgram: Nick Turse on Republicans in Green Zone Manhattan
New York City, as always, what a dream! A sally deep into enemy territory! A signal that all of America was his for the taking! Not so long ago, when the Republican convention was being planned, the President and the rest of his administration imagined their return to the best of their top-ten moments as a way of launching a second drive on the White House. Washington's own Lion King would take Broadway and the Democrats would fall like some ratty Iraqi army. From the heart of Manhattan, they would bask in the glow of post-9/11 America, of brave policemen and firemen in the ruins of two great towers, of a president with a bullhorn and a touch of gold. With their plans in place, the dreams only grew -- of an administration triumphant and of an unscathed war president with his mission finally accomplished. The Republican Convention in Manhattan would be a coup de théâtre, a lightning strike, a fabulous blow from which the political opposition might never recover.
How times change though. Now, angry policemen and firemen are picketing outside Madison Square Garden ("The Republicans are coming to bask in the glow of Sept. 11, and yet the firefighters and police officers who died in record numbers and continue to be the frontline defenders for this city haven't had a contract for more than two years," said Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association); protestors are heading for New York in what may be prodigious numbers; and the Bush administration, suddenly in something like flight, appears capable only of locking itself inside Green Zone Manhattan. Even "security," even "safety" -- less and less this president's selling points -- turn out to be fatal obsessions. As Nick Turse makes clear below, the man who uttered the mocking phrase," bring 'em on," is about to become the safest man on Earth. His ability to ensure his own security remains unparalleled -- and a kind of madness. Now, let's sweep back the curtain and see what Republican Manhattan will look like in the summer of 2004.
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."
And the winner is...
She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . . though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon.
thanks to Coudal Partners
Saddam's People are Winning the War
by Scott Ritter
The battle for Iraq's sovereign future is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. As things stand, it appears that victory will go to the side most in tune with the reality of the Iraqi society of today: the leaders of the anti-U.S. resistance.
Iyad Allawi's government was recently installed by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to counter a Baathist nationalism that ceased to exist nearly a decade ago.
In the aftermath of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein's regime shifted toward an amalgam of Islamic fundamentalism, tribalism and nationalism that more accurately reflected the political reality of Iraq.
Thanks to his meticulous planning and foresight, Saddam's lieutenants are now running the Iraqi resistance, including the Islamist groups.
thanks to Cursor
Iraqi leader 'killed prisoners'
THE Australian Government has questioned claims that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi shot dead six prisoners shortly before the handover of power from coalition forces.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today reported that two witnesses saw Dr Allawi pull a pistol and execute suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station in the week before last month's handover.
Journalist Paul McGeough, who wrote the story, has left Iraq, but stands by his story.
thanks to Cursor
Five days in the life of an invisible war
The rebels attack because the marines are there. The marines are there because the rebels attack. In an extraordinary dispatch, foreign correspondent of the year James Meek describes life in a Catch-22 world where a human life is valued at $500, the mercury rarely falls below 40 and the daily carnage goes largely unreported
One morning earlier this month a fan turned too slowly to stir the air much in a dark little room in al-Karmah, a town west of Baghdad between Abu Ghraib and Fallujah. In one corner of the room, a US marine corporal sat counting out new dollar bills, balancing them on the toe of his desert boot as he prepared each slender wad.
An armed American lawyer sat at a desk in a straight-backed chair, facing a succession of Iraqi claimants who took their place opposite on a two-seater sofa. The sofa put the claimants, dressed in long white Arab tunics - dishdashes - at a lower level than the lawyer, and they stretched to gain height, eyes flicking between the lawyer's face and hands. The lawyer wore a pistol strapped to his thigh, a flak jacket and glasses. He was sweating heavily. The claimants spoke little, and the lawyer's speeches were brief. What was said was translated by a marine interpreter. The interpreter was armed, too, with an M16 automatic rifle. Everyone in the room was scared.
thanks to Cursor
'They can have it' U.S. pulls back from turbulent province
After more than a year of fighting, U.S. troops have stopped patrolling large swaths of Iraq's restive Anbar province, according to the top American military intelligence officer in the area.
While American officials in Ramadi wouldn't provide exact figures for the change in numbers of patrols, there's obviously been a significant drop.
After losing dozens of men to a "voiceless, faceless mass of people" with no clear leadership or political aim other than killing American soldiers, the U.S. military has had to re-evaluate the situation, said Army Maj. Thomas Neemeyer, the head American intelligence officer for the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, the main military force in the Ramadi area and from there to Fallujah.
"They cannot militarily overwhelm us, but we cannot deliver a knockout blow, either," he said. "It creates a form of stalemate."
In the wreckage of the security situation, Neemeyer said, U.S. officials have all but given up on plans to install a democratic government in the city, and are hoping instead that Islamic extremists and other insurgent groups don't overrun the province in the same way that they've seized the region's most infamous town, Fallujah.
"Since Ramadi is the seat of the governate, we worry that if they could unsettle the government center here they could destabilize the al Anbar province," said Capt. Joe Jasper, a spokesman for the 1st Brigade.
The apparent failure of a long line of Army and Marine units to bring peace to the province, which makes up about 40 percent of Iraq's landmass, will be a major challenge for Iraq's new government and could prove to be a tipping point for the nation as a whole. Increasingly, Iraq is a place in which cities or part of cities have been taken over by insurgents and radicals
Inside one day's fierce battle in Iraq
In Baqubah, an attack of unexpected sophistication.
From the roof of a gutted, four-story building, US Army Cpl. Omar Torres peered through his M-4 rifle's thermal sight onto Canal Street, a pockmarked stretch of road running alongside a muddy waterway that meanders through this volatile city.
It was 2 a.m. on June 24, and stifling hot. Corporal Torres's sniper team was looking for insurgents planting road bombs, a persistent killer in Baqubah, with scores last month alone.
From out of the shadows 500 yards below, two men with rifles slung over their backs approached the road carrying a box. One knelt down, digging in the dirt shoulder. The snipers delicately adjusted their rifle, and fired.
Through his sight, Torres watched the kneeling figure crumble. The second man quickly reached down to continue planting the bomb, only to be felled moments later.
At that early hour, Torres had no idea of the scale of the attack that was coming at dawn.
tour de france
Armstrong Wins Last Time Trial
Lance Armstrong capped his most dominant Tour de France with a crushing win in the final time trial Saturday, all but guaranteeing him a place in history as the first six-time winner of the 101-year-old race.
Pedaling furiously for a victory he didn't even need, Armstrong again overpowered his rivals, building a gaping lead that he carried past cheering crowds to the finish in Besancon.
The Texan, riding a high-tech aerodynamic bike and wearing his bright yellow leader's jersey, finished his ride in 1 hour 6 minutes 49 seconds -- 1:01 faster than second-place Jan Ullrich, the 1997 champion and five-time runner-up.
Only a crash or other disaster on Sunday's last ride into Paris can keep Armstrong from becoming, in titles at least, the greatest of the Tour's 53 winners.
Lance just destroyed his opposition this year. The mountain stages, the Alp d'Huez time trial, and today's time trial. Last year he won by 61 seconds. This year he has a 6 minute 38 second lead going into Paris. He just needs to keep from falling off his bike to win his 6th Tour. He did have a little help from his friends.
Posties pack a punch
The American has been simply awesome turning up the heat on his opponents seemingly at will.
However, his success is anything but a one-man show.
Without his eight long-suffering team-mates he would not be in the position to win a record-breaking sixth Tour, and it is they who will ensure he gets to Paris in one piece.
Most pertinently, it is at their will that opponents are left trailing.
It's not clear if he will race the Tour de France next year. It does appear that he will still be racing, though. I would wager that he will go for 7.
Building a Bridge to the 19th Century
The story goes on to describe the disparity between sales of high-end designer jewelry, luxury cars and lakeside hotel suites (booming) and the kind of stuff that most of us buy at Wal-Mart or Target (stagnant). And it quotes an economist from J.P. Morgan Chase - another notoriously left-leaning, Bush-hating institution - in support of its "Two Americas" thesis:
"To date, the [recovery's] primary beneficiaries have been upper-income households," concludes Dean Maki, a J.P. Morgan Chase (and former Federal Reserve) economist who has studied the ways that changes in wealth affect spending. In research he sent to clients this month, Mr. Maki said, "Two of the main factors supporting spending over the past year, tax cuts and increases in [stock] wealth, have sharply benefited upper income households relative to others."
Clearly, what we have here is a rampant outbreak of liberal class warfare - a vicious smear (no doubt inspired by Michael Moore) aimed at convincing the American people the Bush-Cheney administration cares more about fattening the already-obese bank accounts of the ultra-wealthy than it does about reversing the downward trend in the purchasing power of the vast American middle class.
(Not to mention the poor. But, since the Democrats show no particular inclination to wage class warfare on their behalf, we'll leave them out of this. Suffice it to say that if the middle class is being squeezed, the poor are being turned into pressed lunch meat.)
I just finished John McPhee's Annals of the Former World. McPhee is one of the finest writers of non-fiction. This is his opus on geology. It will tickle you with his wordsmithing, amaze you about how this planet is put together, and leave you in awe of the time scale needed to accomplish the assembling of the continents. Here is the Booklist review on the Amazon listing of Annals of the Former World:
McPhee began studying the geology of the U.S. 20 years ago, cruising Interstate 80 in the company of geologists and listening intently to their decodings of the rock strata visible in road cuts. What look merely like colorful outcroppings to the uninitiated are actually records of deep time and the stupendous heavings, splittings, and crushings of the earth's crust. A strictly literary guy, McPhee was first drawn to geology by the poetics of its nomenclature and his love of land, but he found himself captivated as well by the personalities of the scientists he befriended and soon realized that what he had conceived of as a good idea for a single piece of writing was in fact the subject of a lifetime. He filled four books with accounts of his geological journeys across North America, books now legendary for rendering a technical discipline alluring enough for even the most science-phobic of readers and for elevating creative nonfiction to the level of art: Basin and Range (1981), In Suspect Terrain (1983), Rising from the Plains (1986), and Assembling California (1993). Here he brings those four books, revised and updated, together with one more, previously unpublished geological work, Crossing the Craton, a study of the low-profile country of the heartland. The five volumes together form a portrait of the continent--a magnificent narrative that not only tracks the drama of North American geological history but also chronicles the rapid evolution of the theories and practice of geology itself and tells the intriguing stories of people for whom love of rocks has meant love of life.
Can Israel be saved?
Richard Ben Cramer talks about "How Israel Lost," his exploration of how the occupation of Palestinian land has corrupted the soul of the Jewish state he loves.
Richard Ben Cramer is not afraid of sacred cows. He bulldozed one of America's icons, Joe DiMaggio, in a bestselling biography, and peeped into the stinky hopper in which the sausage of democracy is ground in his classic study of the 1988 presidential campaign, "What It Takes." With "How Israel Lost: The Four Questions," Cramer, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Middle East reporting in 1979, has taken on perhaps the most explosive, emotion-laden subject in America: Israel.
"How Israel Lost" is a mournful, passionate, hilarious lament for the endangered soul of a nation he loves. In a style that slips from the wisecracking cadences of a Miami Beach hondler to the dispassionate observations of a veteran journalist to the moral outrage of a world-weary humanist, Cramer argues that in the 20-plus years since he originally lived there, the Jewish state has suffered a cataclysmic sea-change, a blow to its spirit all the more tragic for being self-inflicted.
The cause of Israel's malaise, Cramer writes, is very simple: Its 37-year occupation of Palestinian land. The occupation, Cramer argues, is a gross and continuing injustice that has coarsened Israel's moral fiber, corrupted her politics and economy, and split Israeli Jews into bitterly opposed, self-interested tribes who have lost all sense of allegiance to anything beyond their own needs. The occupation has also had a deadly effect on Palestinians, stomping out the last embers of hope and creating a generation of sad, hardened children who know Israelis only as soldiers with guns.
thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog
Israel up against the wall
People who attack the World Court for its July 9 opinion on the Israeli wall in the Occupied Territories should beware.
In doing so, they are calling into question the United Nations Charter, and the whole foundation of international law and humanitarian conventions and treaties: which in the end are the legal basis of the state of Israel's international recognition, and, in a broader sense, everyone else's best hope for a global order that does not rely on anarchistic violence and force majeure.
The court in The Hague said in its ruling that the 600-kilometer wall, about a third built, "severely impeded" Palestinian rights to self-rule. It curves at points deep into the West Bank around Jewish settlements built on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. The court said the wall violated international humanitarian law and called on the UN Security Council and General Assembly to stop the barrier's construction.
It is not often that the court comes out with such an unequivocal opinion. Just because it ruled against Israel and, by extension, its US protector, on every point, does not invalidate the reasoning for the rest of the world.
Rather it is a wake-up call to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his supporters in the United States to reconsider their stands and return from orbit. You cannot cherry-pick international law, enforcing the parts you like on others and denying those that impinge on your interests.
by Gideon Levy
What would happen if a Palestinian terrorist were to detonate a bomb at the entrance to an apartment building in Israel and cause the death of an elderly man in a wheelchair, who would later be found buried under the rubble of the building? The country would be profoundly shocked. Everyone would talk about the sickening cruelty of the act and its perpetrators. The shock would be even greater if it then turned out that the dead man's wife had tried to dissuade the terrorist from blowing up the house, telling him that there were people inside, but to no avail. The tabloids would come out with the usual screaming headline: "Buried alive in his wheelchair." The terrorists would be branded "animals."
Last Monday, Israel Defense Forces bulldozers in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, demolished the home of Ibrahim Halfalla, a 75-year-old disabled man and father of seven, and buried him alive. Umm-Basel, his wife, says she tried to stop the driver of the heavy machine by shouting, but he paid her no heed. The IDF termed the act "a mistake that shouldn't have happened," and the incident was noted in passing in Israel. The country's largest-circulation paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, didn't bother to run the story at all. The blood libel in France - a woman's tale of being subjected to an anti-Semitic attack, which later turned out to be fiction - proved a great deal more upsetting to people. There we thought the assault was aimed against our people. But when the IDF bulldozes a disabled Palestinian to death? Not a story. Just like the killing, under the rubble of her home, of Noha Maqadama, a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, before the eyes of her husband and children, in El Boureij refugee camp a few months earlier.
thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog
The Good Boy Scout
Chirac v. Sharon
By Uri Avnery
"In a dramatic television broadcast, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, called upon the million Russian emigrants in Israel to return at once to their homeland, in view of the growing danger to their security there."
That did not happen, of course. But it is easy to imagine what would have been the reaction in Israel if Putin had indeed made such an appeal. Or if the president of France, Jacques Chirac, had called upon the French-speakers in Israel, the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from France and North Africa, to move to France, where their life is not threatened by suicide bombers.
The Israeli media would have gone berserk. The Knesset, in an emergency session, would have denounced the outrageous anti-Semitic outburst of the president of Russia and/or France. The politicians would have tried to outdo each other in condemnations of the inadmissible interference in the internal affairs of Israel. The Foreign Office would have ordered the return of the ambassador in Moscow and/or Paris for "consultations".
What happened was, of course, the reverse. It was the Israeli Prime Minister who called on the French Jews to leave their homeland "as soon as possible" and come to Israel, in view of the alleged anti-Semitic wave in France. The French government and media reacted exactly as their Israeli counterparts would have done.
Every tenth Frenchman (and Frenchwoman) is Jewish.
Arafat: Planless in Gaza
One of the scary things about the current Palestinian nationalist movement is the degree to which the sheer personal vanity of one stubborn old man has succeeded in paralyzing nearly the entire (secular) part of the national movement for more than four years now.
Why does Yasser Arafat continue to cling to the trappings (if absolutely none of the realities) of political power so long after the failure of the strategy he spearheaded in the 1990s was so vividly demonstrated?
I'm finally getting back to working on my trip report about my journey to Washington, DC, and New York City last April: Gordy and Madelane's Great Pilgrimage Observations and Digressions. I've rescanned a number of images and they are up. I'm well along on getting the next entry up. Maybe even by the end of this weekend! (Don't hold me to that.)
I had been scanning my negatives with the software that my scanner (Epson 2450) came with. It was a light version of an excellent piece of scanning software. Somehow the software became corrupted and I ended looking at a demo version of the full version. The results astounded me and, with the help of some of my readers, I purchased the full version: SilverFast AI 6. It was the ability of the full version to get improved shadow and highlight detail that sold me.
Scan with old software
Scan with new software
It was like having a new scanner. Thanks again to those that helped out. Now to get the rest of the pictures and text up.
unfair and unbalanced
Fox News: Unfair and Unbalanced
The Independent Media Institute ( IMI), parent organization of AlterNet, filed a legal challenge with the U.S. Trademark Office that seeks to strip Fox of its "Fair and Balanced" trademark registration on the grounds that it was "merely descriptive" (making it ineligible for trademark registration) as well as "false and misleading." AlterNet (which is a project of the Independent Media Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting independent journalism) filed its challenge with the U.S. Trademark Office on December 23, 2003, just under the wire – only hours before the clock was scheduled to run out on Fox's "contestability period," which is the legally mandated 5-year window during which a trademark registration can be challenged. After that period the right to use the trademark becomes "incontestable" and virtually invulnerable, and its holder is entitled to prevent anyone else from using it, under penalty of legal prosecution, virtually forever, and regardless of whether the trademark was legitimately registered or not. Now, for the first time, AlterNet is making that legal challenge public. We are also joining MoveOn.org in launching an international campaign to confront Fox News in its blatant efforts to use the airwaves for political gain and to promote right-wing politics. This weekend, MoveOn.org sponsored more than 2,700 house parties to view "Outfoxed," Greenwald's documentary, and included dialogue with Greenwald and MoveOn.org's leadership and this writer to announce our legal challenge to Fox.
Wes Boyd of MoveOn.org told the more than 30,000 people listening and many watching over the Web: "People are steamed about the media. People get it. Washington has never seen the kind of outrage that they heard last year from citizens around the country about media consolidation. And Fox News, as Robert has shown in this film, is Enemy #1 in the undermining of democracy – they're partisan, they're bullies, they lie, they'll do anything for a buck, they don't even know what journalism is, and then they claim to be 'Fair and Balanced.' So we're going after Fox. This is just the beginning of a campaign to rebrand Fox "Unfair and Unbalanced," so that people know what they're watching. This campaign is a warning to any other media outlets, if they're thinking that the Fox model is something to copy. It isn't. Try journalism instead. Try serving the public interest."
Who will protect us from Fox?
Censoring Al-Jazeera a double standard
U.S. cable news station abusive, openly biased
Now that its critics have ensured that Al-Jazeera will never get on Canada's digital dial uncensored, will they now fight to protect us from Fox News?
Recall that, last week, the federal broadcast regulator gave a half-assed go-ahead to the Arabic-language news channel, requiring that distributors who add it to their offerings keep it free of "abusive comment."
That decision, complete with onerous guilty-until-proven-innocent restrictions, was reached after lobbying by both the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada who, naturally, were concerned about anti-Jewish hate speech.
Many people applauded how cable operators must tape and monitor Al Jazeera 24/7 to head off possible offensive material. So, now that the cable industry has yet another application to import Fox News before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), will anyone call for Fox to be similarly muzzled to stop potentially "abusive comment" on the U.S. channel?
So just what is the difference between Fox and Al-Jazeera?
Go see Control Room, Jehane Noujaim's revealing documentary about Al-Jazeera, and you'll hear U.S. Marine Lt. Josh Rushing, former Central Command spokesperson, say the Arabic channel is no less slanted than Fox, which "plays to American patriotism" instead of Arab nationalism.
thanks to Yolanda Flanagan
wont' life ever stop getting in the way?
Life has been complicated this last week. Two surgeries in three days. The infected tooth finally calmed down and was removed Tuesday. Thursday I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my cheek. I have another on my nose that will be removed next month.
A word of caution to you sun bathers: don't. The damage is usually done at an early age but don't make matters worse. Basal cell carcinoma is common and doesn't go on to become something worse, but don't take any chances. Keep covered and protected. I will now have a fine 2 inch scar on my cheek. It's rakish for a man (I can now tell stories about my sabre scar) but probably not for a woman. Actually, the scar will be minimal. Just beware of the sun.
There has also been some good. I've been without a motorized vehicle for a year. Ever since my son took my 76 Chevy van to a Phish concert and the water pump exploded. He made it back but the van has been a storage shed since. My plans to rebuild the engine on the van came to an end last weekend when we looked at a little 1989 Toyota Corolla a neighbor was selling. He was only asking $600 for it. It was very clean but had a number of things that needed attention, like shocks (struts), radiator, light, AC. Most I can repair myself (thanks to inexpensive parts on eBay) so I offered him $500 and then Zoe jumped in and made it an early 60th birthday (and Christmas) present. (It's a month away from the 60th.) It's a bottom of the line model with an automatic. A simple car that gets over 30mpg. I love it. Thanks to Zoe!
tour de france
The real race for this year's yellow jersey began on Stage 12 (Basso edges Armstrong for win at La Mongie) and may have ended on Stage 13 (This time Armstrong edges Basso; Voeckler stays in yellow.) These were the two toughest days in the Pyrenees. Lance shone and his pre-race rivals all faded. Tyler Hamilton has dropped out and his nearest pre-race rival, Jan Ullrich, is almost seven minutes behind. The race is over for them. However, new blood has arrived with 27 year old Italian Ivan Basso. He is being touted as a future contender for the yellow jersey. He is only 77 seconds behind Lance and could possibly challenge. He stayed with Lance on both mountain stages. I don't think he will deny Lance his 6th win. As they came in for the sprint on Stage 13, Lance, who had been climbing in the hot weather with his jersey unzipped, zipped his jersey in preperation for the sprint. There was no doubt in his mind that he was going to win the stage and he wanted a good shot for his sponsor. Basso isn't the time trialer Lance is and there is one cruel time trial, up the the Alp d'Huez, left.
Today's race was flat and no positions changed. Lance is still 22 seconds away from the yellow jersey and he should be wearing it at the end of Stage 15. Tomorrow is a day off and then it is into the Alps. Stages 15, 17, and 18 are mountain stages and Team U.S. Postal will be contolling the race. Stage 16 is the Time Trial of Death up Alp d'Huez. Stage 19 is flat and Stage 20 is ceremonial. There is still some racing left. Lance Armstrong is unbelievable.
The Price of Imperial Folly
Lost in the Beltway debate over intelligence failure is the enormous price we – Americans, Iraqis, the world – are paying for the Bush administration's self-serving war.
In sheer dollar amounts, the costs of this precipitate war are already far higher than any number put forward by Bush officials at the outset of the war. The price tag so far is $151 billion and climbing – already three times the initial estimate provided by Bush's Office of Management and Budget and embarrassingly close to the "$100 to $200 billion" that White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay anticipated just before he precipitously left the administration in December 2002.
For most of us, $151 billion is an incomprehensible amount of money. It's hard to imagine what that kind of dollar amount actually means. Well, here are some facts to prod our imagination.
To begin with, $151 billion can pay for health care for 23 million uninsured Americans; or housing stipends for 27 million homeless people in this country; or a year's salary for 3 million new elementary school teachers; or more than 678,000 new fire engines.
The international impact of that kind of money is even more breathtaking. That same $151 billion could feed half the hungry people in the world for two years and provide clean water and sanitation for the entire developing world and fund a comprehensive global AIDS program and pay for childhood immunizations for every child in poor countries that constitute the global South.
Don't Forget the Bodies
On losing count of the dead.
Writing in The Washington Post, columnist Jim Hoagland notes that "the American public and media seem to be slowly trying to tune out Iraq's continuing violence. Accounts of all but spectacular assaults slide deeper into network news broadcasts and the inside pages of newspapers as the summer and the U.S. presidential campaign progress."
That's certainly true on the small scale of The Revealer. We used to compile daily -- or, at least, weekly -- round-ups of religion in the news from Iraq. But it's been awhile since we broached the subject. And now our featurewell is, indeed, filled with news of and reflections on the presidential campaign.
After all, there are only so many times you can point out that the conflict in Iraq is a holy war. You'd be a bore if you kept noting that many Americans view the fight as one between Christianity and Islam. And that while the secular press most often explicitly ignores the role of religion on both sides, the stories it tells implicitly reinforce that notion.
After awhile, every picture of a dead body starts to look alike. The bodies that return, and the bodies that stay where they are; the coffins shrinkwrapped red, white, and blue, the corpses laid out on blankets or heaped in the back of pick-up trucks.
thanks to daily KOS
You can always check in with Juan Cole for the latest body count.
15 Killed, including a US Soldier; Dozens Wounded
Minister of Justice Narrowly Escapes
Guerrillas attempted but failed to assassinate the Iraqi Minister of Justice, Malik Dohan al-Hassan, 83, with a suicide bomb on Saturday. The powerful explosion did kill 3 of his bodyguards and two civilians, including his nephew, and wounded 8 others. Credit for the attack was claimed by al-Tawhid, the organization of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which castigated al-Hassan as an "apostate," i.e. a former Muslim who had renounced Islam. Radical Islamists consider Muslims who cooperate with the West to be apostates, and in medieval Islamic jurisprudence, apostasy was a capital crime.
Bedtime-Story Classic: Alice In Wonderland
What you'll find below is a complete graphic image collection of an antique book. The title is Alice's Adventures Under Ground. It was the Rev. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll's) precursor to Alice In Wonderland. Each of the images is clickable to better view original pictures or expand to page-readable size.
thanks to The Cartoonist
Sailing Toward a Storm in China
U.S. maneuvers could spark a war.
By Chalmers Johnson
Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse '04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan.
This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our 12 carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.
thanks to Cursor
thanks to Life In The Present
corporations gone mad
A cloud over civilisation
Corporate power is the driving force behind US foreign policy - and the slaughter in Iraq
Defence and weapons development are motivating forces in foreign policy. For some years, there has also been recognised corporate control of the Treasury. And of environmental policy.
We cherish the progress in civilisation since biblical times and long before. But there is a needed and, indeed, accepted qualification. The US and Britain are in the bitter aftermath of a war in Iraq. We are accepting programmed death for the young and random slaughter for men and women of all ages. So it was in the first and second world wars, and is still so in Iraq. Civilised life, as it is called, is a great white tower celebrating human achievements, but at the top there is permanently a large black cloud. Human progress dominated by unimaginable cruelty and death.
Civilisation has made great strides over the centuries in science, healthcare, the arts and most, if not all, economic well-being. But it has also given a privileged position to the development of weapons and the threat and reality of war. Mass slaughter has become the ultimate civilised achievement.
The facts of war are inescapable - death and random cruelty, suspension of civilised values, a disordered aftermath. Thus the human condition and prospect as now supremely evident. The economic and social problems here described can, with thought and action, be addressed. So they have already been. War remains the decisive human failure.
thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!
thanks to Conscientious