The Democrat convention is over. Lots of speeches. Some of them pretty good. The image that I am left with relates to speech that is not authorized — the speech of the people.
Looking down the length of the Zone.
thanks to Conscientious
Judge deplores but OK's site for protesters
A federal judge yesterday upheld a fenced "free speech zone" for protesters near the FleetCenter during next week's Democratic convention, even though he said he agreed with critics who likened the cramped space to an internment camp.
thanks to Conscientious
Report from Boston: Stay Out of the "Free Speech Zone"
Last night, I had my first direct experience with the so-called free speech zone. It left me with one conclusion: whatever you do, do NOT go inside. Its not only a blatant offense to free speech, but also highly dangerous and unsafe. I would suggest protesting anywhere in Boston but inside of it.E
thanks to J-Walk Blog
I can't wait to see what will happen in New York.
Out of the ordinary
He's a softly spoken gentleman from the Deep South, with a taste for bourbon and antique guns and a reputation as a 'hellraiser'. He's also the photographer whose extraordinary ability to find beauty in the banal has transformed the way we look at the world. Sean O'Hagan travels to America to meet William Eggleston
Though he seems tired of talking photography, I ask him finally if there is an underlying discipline that governs his work. He shrugs. 'Let me put it this way, I work very quickly and that's part of it.
I only ever take one picture of one thing. Literally. Never two. So then that picture is taken and then the next one is waiting somewhere else.' Let me get this straight, I say, astonished: each image he has produced is the result of one single shot? He nods. And what happens, I ask, if you don't get the picture you want in that one shot? 'Then I don't get it,' he answers simply. 'I don't really worry if it works out or not.
I figure it's not worth worrying about. There's always another picture.' He makes his genius sound almost accidental, I suggest. He thinks about this for a while. 'Yes,' he nods, smiling. 'There's probably something to that. The "almost" is important, though.'
thanks to consumptive.org
Sovereignty: "If they want it that bad, they can have it"
In addition to that "elite force," what other signs of sovereignty have been evident lately in General Petraeus's "sovereign Iraq"? Somini Sengupta of the New York Times reports that a worthy sign of sovereignty has indeed appeared: "There is one thing the sovereign state of Iraq can offer its citizens today," she writes, "and Iraqis are banging down the doors to get their hands on it: a passport out of the country
Jobless, rattled, fed up, Iraqis are dreaming of getting out." Finally, sovereign Iraq can offer those capable of paying or landing a job abroad a way out other than a porous border -- and the result is a significant brain drain. "It is generally believed in Baghdad that around 1,000 Iraqis leave the country every day for Jordan and Syria because the security situation is intolerable," wrote former British ambassador Oliver Miles in the Guardian -- and that's quite understandable given the other horrific brain drain underway -- the program of assassination of educators and intellectuals countrywide by unknown elements.
An occupation by any other name
Paul Bremer, the former U.S. administrator in Iraq, has packed up his trademark boots and gone home. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy chief of military operations in Iraq, and Dan Senor, the former U.S. main spokesman in Iraq, no longer grace our television screens. And the controversial John Negroponte, who is now running the show out of the largest U.S. embassy in the world, is rarely seen or heard.
In other words, the U.S. occupation of Iraq has officially gone underground. The Bush administration is indeed putting an "Iraqi face" on the occupation by keeping its operations outside the media spotlight. Since the White House can't come up with a strategy to actually get out of Iraq, it is now hoping that voters will simply forget we're over there.
'America is not a charitable organisation - they came to steal from Iraq'
By Robert Fisk in Najaf
Outside on Sayed Ayatollah Ahmed Hassani al-Baghdadi's little lawn, the temperature is touching 60C. But inside his spacious library with its shelves of leather-bound volumes of Islamic science and law, the political heat soars between 3,000 degrees and minus 20. The Shia marja [leading Shia scholars] are known for their outspokenness but Sayed Baghdadi more than speaks his mind. The Americans occupied Iraq as part of a Zionist project, he announces. They will not leave Iraq because they intend to steal Iraq's oil. The new US-appointed Iraqi government are "collaborators". And Sayed Baghdadi, remember, is a highly respected and very influential marja whose lectures draw students from all over Iraq.
When I ask him to talk about the current situation of Iraq's Shia population, he responds with an attack on my question, suggesting that the world's press are involved in a vast project to separate Sunni from Shia. When I ask him what would happen if the Americans left next week, he roars back at me. "Impossible! The Americans will not retreat from Iraq because they have strategic benefits in the region from Afghanistan to Morocco ... How can you ask such a question?"
Vice President Dick Cheney gave his stump speech in Utah on Wednesday, attempting to rally the Republican faithful while the national spotlight remained on the Democrats. Rebecca Walsh reports:
Cheney said terrorists are as determined to destroy America as the "Axis powers" of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II. Borrowing a quote from the 9-11 Commission's report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 2001, the vice president said the terrorists are "sophisticated, patient, disciplined and lethal."
"This enemy is perfectly prepared to slaughter anyone man, woman and child to achieve its ends," Cheney said. "This is not an enemy we can reason with. This is an enemy we must vanquish."
Although it may be true that al-Qaeda is as determined to destroy the US as the Axis Powers were in World War II, this observation is a Himalayan exaggeration if it is meant to suggest a parallel. Al-Qaeda is a few thousand fanatics mainly distributed in a handful of countries. If Zacharias Moussaoui and Richard Reid are any indication, a lot of them are one step away from from collecting old soda cans on the street in their grocery carts while mumbling about the radios the government implanted in their asses.
So while their determination may be impressive (or just creepy), they are not comparable to the might of three industrialized dictatorships with populations in the tens of millions. Some 13 million men served in the German army (Heer) alone between 1935 and 1945. (And WW II killed 55 million persons, not 3 thousand).
I repeat, al-Qaeda proper only has a few hundred fighters, those who pledged allegiance personally to Bin Laden, and a few thousand if you count other Afghan Arabs and their ideological soul mates. Most of them are not wealthy or trained or competent, and a lot are just crackpots. (Read an account of the misadventures of Richard Reid again). September 11 was possible mainly because Ramzi Bin al-Shibh lucked out and managed to recruit some high-powered engineering Ph.D. students in Hamburg who knew something serious about kinetic energy. The organization does not have a lot of persons of that caliber, though Cheney has done everything in his power to make them easier for al-Qaeda to recruit.
I've linked to this before. It's worth revisiting.
Kengo Futagawa (59 at the time) was crossing the Kannon Bridge (1,600 meters from the hypocenter) by bicycle on his way to do fire prevention work. He jumped into the river, terribly burned. He returned home, but died on August 22, 1945.
thanks to consumptive.org
Israel expands West Bank settlements
Aerial photos reveal extent of land grab, say peace groups
Months after Ariel Sharon announced his dramatic plan to pull Jewish settlers out of Gaza, portraying it as a sacrifice for peace, the government is grabbing more land for West Bank settlements.
Israeli peace groups and Palestinian officials say thousands of homes are under construction in the main settlements, in addition to an expansion of Jewish outposts that are illegal under Israeli law. Mr Sharon has promised the US he will dismantle the outposts, which are usually clusters of containers or trailer homes serviced by government-built roads, but has failed to do so.
200,000 Israeli Fascists Demand Colonization of Gaza
Tens of thousands of rightwing Israeli imperialists formed a human chain aimed at stretching between Jerusalem and Gaza to protest plans of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw Israeli colonists from Gaza.
Let's just talk a little bit about Gaza. The Palestinians are largely descendants of people who have lived there for literally thousands of years. Male Palestinians and male Jews are very closely related according to DNA research. Gaza was not given to Israel by the United Nations in the 1948 partition, and it was never a site of significant Jewish population. It was conquered by Israel in the 1967 war, but the United Nations charter forbids the acquisition of territory by military force. This is a place where hundreds of thousands of people face severe poverty and even hunger, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Palestinians in general are facing unprecedented poverty and malnutrition, including the children. So this is the place you choose to insert 7500 Israeli colonizers? While we are at it, why not steal some land from starving Ethiopians and colonize Ethiopia (oops, that was the 1930s)? I mean, it is one thing to lack compassion for people who are suffering. It is another to want to kick them while they are down.
The justifications given by the fascist protesters in Israel for colonizing Gaza included the conviction that God had given them the Palestinians' land, that Palestinians did not educate their children to want "peace" (i.e. to accept being stolen from?), and that failing to colonize Gaza would somehow endanger Israel itself (hunh?).
Of course I am being provocative in calling the protesters fascists. Fascism, unlike other mass ideologies such as Communism, is not easily defined (and for definitional purposes it is better to look at Spain, Italy and Japan in the 1930s rather than Germany, whose ideology was in many ways peculiar and the scale of whose atrocities, including the Holocaust, make almost all comparisons invidious). The Likud Party is deeply influenced by the thought of Zeev Jabotinsky, a Zionist extremist deeply influenced by 1930s fascism. Fascism remains a useful analytical tool for understanding modern politics. Each country's fascism has been different, since fascism is more a style than a specific ideology.
Israel-Palestine: Walled In
Eyal Weizman, an Israeli architect based in Tel-Aviv, argues that the border between Israel and Palestinians is no longer a single continuous line, but a sequence of convoluted boundaries, security apparatuses and internal checkpoints---a series of unstable pockets. (see "Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation" at www.opendemocracy.net.) The Sharon government is preparing a fragmented Palestinian state by establishing facts on the ground, scattered and separated territorial islands surrounded and perforated by Israeli territory. A state without borders to the outside world. These islands will be, strung together by tunnels and bridges under and over Israeli territory and they will have no jurisdiction over water resources or airspace.
Israel has periodically launched major operations in cities like Nablus "to strike at terrorists," deploying soldiers, snipers military vehicles, tanks, and bulldozers. In the view of a radio journalist from Nablus, the purpose of this siege of the city was to turn attention away from Israel's construction of its "Wall" across the West Bank, its policy of strangulation.. The true aim of this stranglehold, as John Berger has phrased it, is the destruction of the Palestinians' sense of temporal and spatial continuity so that they leave the country or become indentured servants.
Bantustans: South Africa and Palestine
Ha'aretz claims "Six Armed Palestinians Killed in Tulkarem"
The Ha'aretz account, which relies on Israeli military sources, distorts reality by portraying all the victims as members of the armed resistance, by suggesting that Palestinians opened fire and were about to carry out a "terror attack", by failing to note the killing of four Palestinians not involved with armed resistance, and the wounding of at least three others and the subsequent denial of access for Palestinian medical personnel.
This account in Ha'aretz, probably the most reputable Israeli newspaper, presents an inaccurate description to Israelis and to the world of Israeli military operations in the Occupied Territories and of how Palestinians experience Israeli military occupation. The Ha'aretz account is complicit in covering up brutal Israeli military killings of four Palestinians who were not involved in armed resistance. The hundreds of stories of this type that are printed every year, in which every Palestinian killed is a "militant" on his way to carry out a "terror attack", suggest an entirely different reality from what occurs on the ground daily. This type of one-sided reporting dehumanizes Palestinians and covers up Israeli military crimes rather than increasing readers' knowledge and understanding.
Marie and the Ghosts
by Uri Avnery
Apollo 11 The first man on Moon
35 years ago July 20 (US time) the first man walked on the moon.
Dissent at the War Memorial
There is no such thing as a 'good war' and no one understands that better than a soldier.
By Howard Zinn
I was introduced as a veteran of the Army Air Corps, a bombardier who had flown combat missions over Europe in the last months of the war. I wasn't sure how this audience would react to what I had to say about the war, in that atmosphere of celebration, in the honoring of the dead, in the glow of a great victory accompanied by countless acts of military heroism.
This, roughly, is what I said: "I'm here to honor the two guys who were my closest buddies in the Air Corps Joe Perry and Ed Plotkin, both of whom were killed in the last weeks of the war. And to honor all the others who died in that war. But I'm not here to honor war itself. I'm not here to honor the men in Washington who send the young to war. I'm certainly not here to honor those in authority who are now waging an immoral war in Iraq."
I went on: "World War II is not simply and purely a 'good war.' It was accompanied by too many atrocities on our side too many bombings of civilian populations. There were too many betrayals of the principles for which the war was supposed to have been fought.
"Yes, World War II had a strong moral aspect to it the defeat of fascism. But I deeply resent the way the so-called good war has been used to cast its glow over all the immoral wars we have fought in the past fifty years: in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan. I certainly don't want our government to use the triumphal excitement surrounding World War II to cover up the horrors now taking place in Iraq.
"I don't want to honor military heroism that conceals too much death and suffering. I want to honor those who all these years have opposed the horror of war."
The audience applauded. But I wasn't sure what that meant. I knew I was going against the grain of orthodoxy, the romanticization of the war in movies and television and now in the war memorial celebrations in the nation's capital.
There was a question-and-answer period. The first person to walk up front was a veteran of World War II, wearing parts of his old uniform. He spoke into the microphone: "I was wounded in World War II and have a Purple Heart to show for it. If President Bush were here right now I would throw that medal in his face."
thanks to Everlasting Blort
'Fahrenheit 9/11' Sets New Documentary Mark, Topping $100 Million
Michael Moore joined the $100 million club as his political assault "Fahrenheit 9/11" became the first documentary ever to top that mark at the domestic box office.
Moore's condemnation of President Bush's actions regarding the Sept. 11 attacks had a weekend haul of $5 million to lift its total to $103.35 million since opening in late June.
"The American people have not been given the whole story about these last three years and they don't feel they've been given the truth from the White House," Moore said Sunday. "So they've gone to the movie theaters to look for the truth and to begin the important discussion and debate that needs to take place in this country."
The previous best domestic gross for a feature-length documentary was $21.6 million for Moore's Academy Award-winning "Bowling for Columbine." That film took nine months to hit that level, while "Fahrenheit 9/11" did more business, $23.9 million, in just its first weekend.
Our local theater can't get Fahrenheit 9/11 until September. I may have to go off-island to see it.
TELEPHONE WIRE BASKETS
From South Africa and Zimbabwe
For centuries South Africa's Zulu people have been famous for the sturdy and beautiful baskets they weave from grasses and palm leaf. The weaving was so tight that the best ukhamba baskets were actually used to store beer! Today these baskets are still woven in the countryside, but the Zulus living in urban area have invented a new kind of basket, the ukhamba basket woven entirely of recycled telephone wire. The baskets are as bright and colorful as the telephone wire, and very sturdy. They are also completely washable! In recent years people in craft cooperatives in the the neighboring nation of Zimbabwe have developed their own distinct style of telephone wire basket, which we are also offering here. These baskets are all one-of-a-kind, and our inventory is constantly changing.
thanks to plep
Fear of Fraud
by Paul Krugman
It's election night, and early returns suggest trouble for the incumbent. Then, mysteriously, the vote count stops and observers from the challenger's campaign see employees of a voting-machine company, one wearing a badge that identifies him as a county official, typing instructions at computers with access to the vote-tabulating software.
When the count resumes, the incumbent pulls ahead. The challenger demands an investigation. But there are no ballots to recount, and election officials allied with the incumbent refuse to release data that could shed light on whether there was tampering with the electronic records.
This isn't a paranoid fantasy. It's a true account of a recent election in Riverside County, Calif., reported by Andrew Gumbel of the British newspaper The Independent. Mr. Gumbel's full-length report, printed in Los Angeles City Beat, makes hair-raising reading not just because it reinforces concerns about touch-screen voting, but also because it shows how easily officials can stonewall after a suspect election.
Elaine Lusitg Cohen Collages
thanks to wood s lot
The inside story of how a band of reformers tried--and failed--to change America's spy agencies
Twice each week, a top-secret report with distinctive red stripes lands on the desks of select policymakers in Washington. Called the "Red Cell," it is the work of a CIA unit by the same name, set up after the 9/11 attacks to think "outside the box." "Some of it is really wacky, even scary," says an insider. "Like bombing Iran." The "Red Cell," in a very real sense, is emblematic of the trouble the U.S. intelligence community finds itself in today. Its reports, in-house critics say, are getting stale. "There's not a lot of young blood," an analyst says, "and there's not enough turnover."
That even the "Red Cell" analysts are having trouble thinking about the new challenges to the United States suggests how hard it will be to change America's much-maligned intelligence community, a $40 billion complex of 14 agencies in six cabinet departments plus the CIA. It is, by far, the largest, most expensive intelligence network in history. Created in 1947, the U.S. intelligence community has grown enormously in terms of bodies and dollars but also in the number and complexity of its responsibilities.
It has also, for many reasons, grown into a mess. "The intelligence community does not exist except as a figment of congressional imagination," confides one of its most senior officials. "We've created the hardest structure you can ever imagine--to understand, to manage, to be effective. We've created an impossible situation." Porter Goss, a CIA veteran who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, agrees: "Nobody in their right mind would create the architecture we have in our intelligence community today. It's a dysfunctional community."
thanks to Bad Attitudes
We have created a Frankenstein monster that cannot be controlled.
M. O. Hammond Photographer
M. O. Hammond [1876-1934] was one of a group of dedicated amateur photographers active in Toronto in the early 1900s. By profession, Hammond was a journalist who enjoyed a career at the Toronto Globe that lasted nearly 40 years.
thanks to plep
Just As Scary As Terror
Anyone Seen Our Economic Policy?
As American voters contemplate their choices in this presidential campaign year, the world's investors have been voting with their money. The early results are in -- and they don't look good for the United States.
Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released figures showing that last year for the first time, China supplanted the United States as the No. 1 destination for foreign direct investment worldwide -- that is, money that goes into factories, equipment, real estate or existing companies. And in a blow to fans of "freedom fries," No. 2 was France. Though other major economies also suffered a drop-off in this category , no nation fell as far in percentage terms as the United States.
While such numbers fluctuate and foreign direct investment is just one type of capital flow, this dramatic swing can be seen as further evidence that in the 21st century, America is going to have to fight hard for its piece of the global investment pie -- money that translates directly into new jobs and the industries of tomorrow. Clearly, the world economy is shifting around us and our place atop it is being challenged.
Yet the Bush administration's attention has seemingly been elsewhere -- which may be natural, given the trauma of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and their aftermath. But just as last week's 9/11 commission report revealed the terrible costs of not attending to looming terrorist threats, so do we need to recognize the danger of focusing so intently on one threat that we are distracted from the others we face.
thanks to Cursor
Visionary Designs in Transportation Engineering
thanks to J-Walk Blog
Bridge of Destroyer
Griffith Baily Coale
I have another page up on my April trip to DC and NYC to photograph my grandather's paintings and to see where my father grew up. If you haven't read any of it, start at Gordy and Madelane's Great Pilgrimage Observations and Digressions. If you have been following it, then go directly to the new page: Day 5 Part 1. More to come.