yet another birthday
This one's mine.
With all that's going on I almost forgot this. It was August 10, 2000, that I started this blog. Originally it was on Blogger, then I moved it to Greymatter on Februrary 15, 2001. What a long, strange trip it's been!
We visited Gerry yesterday. She is getting worse. A very troubling visit. I was pretty wiped out when we got back and didn't know what to say about it. Zoe wrote a piece in her blog. Zoe is taking it pretty hard. When we left the hospital Zoe was crying, afraid that Gerry is dying. I don't think that is happening but she does seem to be getting worse faster. Poor Gerry. Poor Zoe.
another terror bust
The timing is political
We should be sceptical about this alleged plot, and wary of politicians who seek to benefit
Nine days on, nobody has been charged with any crime. For there to be no clear evidence yet on something that was "imminent" and would bring "mass murder on an unbelievable scale" is, to say the least, peculiar. A 24th person, arrested amid much fanfare on Tuesday, was quietly released without charge the following day.
Media analysis has been full of information from police and security sources. By and large journalists are honourable in this kind of reporting. Their sources, unfortunately, are not - viz the non-existent ricin, the Forest Gate "chemical weapons vest", or Jean Charles de Menezes leaping the barriers. Unlike the herd of security experts, I have had the highest security clearance; I have done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis; and I have been inside the spin machine. And I am very sceptical about the story that has been spun.
None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not have passports. It could be pretty difficult to convince a jury that these individuals were about to go through with suicide bombings, whatever they bragged about on the net.
What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for more than a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.
Sleeping By the Mississippi
by Alec Soth
Large format color. Soth is an inspiration. From Amazon:
Evolving from a series of road trips along the Mississippi River, Alec Soth's Sleeping by the Mississippi captures America's iconic yet oft-neglected "third coast." Soth's richly descriptive, large-format color photographs present an eclectic mix of individuals, landscapes, and interiors. Sensuous in detail and raw in subject, Sleeping by the Mississippi elicits a consistent mood of loneliness, longing, and reverie. "In the book's 46 ruthlessly edited pictures," writes Anne Wilkes Tucker, "Soth alludes to illness, procreation, race, crime, learning, art, music, death, religion, redemption, politics, and cheap sex." Like Robert Frank's classic The Americans, Sleeping by the Mississippi merges a documentary style with a poetic sensibility. The Mississippi is less the subject of the book than its organizing structure. Not bound by a rigid concept or ideology, the series is created out of a quintessentially American spirit of wanderlust. The coherence of the project places Soth's book exactly within the tradition of Walker Evans' American Photographs and Robert Frank's The Americans
I finished this book a while ago and forgot to put it up. Now Joerg has a nice interview with Alec. I'm glad I waited.
A Conversation with Alec Soth
AS: I am able to make the switch pretty easily, but they are indeed two entirely different ways of working. A huge part of my personal work is finding my subject. This involves daydreaming, wandering, editing and reshooting...it takes forever. The process is introspective and I always work alone. With editorial photography the subject is handed to me on a platter. The editor usually tells me to go take a picture of 'x'. A lot of the art is stripped out of the process. The only thing that is left is the technical job of making a great picture. Because time is limited, I usually require the help of assistants.
So why do I do editorial photography? It certainly isn't for the money. First, I believe it is healthy to do work outside of the art world. I don't trust art world success. Take a look at a 15 year old Whitney Biennial catalogue and see how many names you recognize. It all seems so trendy and fleeting. Moreover, I like to participate in the public discourse. I have a real hermetic streak and often fantasize about holing up in a cabin in Nova Scotia to do finger-painting. Assignment work keeps me going out into the world to meet people and make pictures. Finally, magazine work is just good practice. I once had a great conversation about this with Robert Polidori. Robert used to play in a rock band. He said that editorial work is like going on the road. Often you are playing in an empty bar in a nowhere town and wonder 'why am I doing this?' All of those gigs make you stronger – more ready for the big gigs, the arenas and the studio sessions.
Who's the Government in Lebanon?
As predicted, Hezbollah is taking the lead in reconstruction in a significant way. Let's run through this, because it is important.
Nehme Y. Tohme, a member of Parliament from the anti-Syrian reform bloc and the country’s minister for the displaced, said he had been told by Hezbollah officials that when the shooting stopped, Iran would provide Hezbollah with an “unlimited budget” for reconstruction.
Not only did the US give Israel the green light to bomb the hell out of Lebanon, but it and its allies aren't giving the Lebanese government that sort of money, are they? And note also the oil money connection - Iran could afford to give Hezbollah all those weapons because of the price of oil. It can afford to give Hezbollah all that money because of... the price of oil. Meanwhile the US is broke and most European countries have significant budget deficits and high unemployment. While there is a demand side surge that contributed to high oil prices in the last few years, US actions, both monetarily and militarily, have contributed significantly to the rise in prices. And in so doing, the US gave Iran billions which Iran used to fight America's proxy, Israel, and win.
In the face of Bush's lies, it's left to Assad to tell the truth
by Robert Fisk
In the sparse Baathist drawing rooms of Damascus, reality often seems a long way away. But it was a sign of the times that President Bashar al-Assad was able to bring the great and the good of Damascus to their feet by the simple token of telling the truth - which no other Arab leader has chosen to do these past five weeks: that the Lebanese Hizbollah guerrilla army has, in effect, won this round of their war with Israel.
Lebanon's pain grows by the hour as death toll hits 1,300
by Robert Fisk
They are digging them up by the hour, the swelling death toll of the Lebanon conflict. The American poet Carl Sandburg spoke of the dead in other wars and imagined that he was the grass under which they would be buried. "Shovel them under and let me work," he said of the dead of Ypres and Verdun. But across Lebanon, they are systematically lifting the tons of rubble of old roofs and apartment blocks and finding families below, their arms wrapped around each other in the moment of death as their homes were beaten down upon them by the Israeli air force. By last night, they had found 61 more bodies, taking the Lebanese dead of the 33-day war to almost 1,300.
The army is back, but don't expect it to disarm Hizbollah
by Robert Fisk
Now you see them, now you don't. Hizbollah weapons? None to be seen. And none to be collected by the Lebanese army. For when this august body of men crossed the Litani river yesterday, their officers made it perfectly clear that it would not be the army's job to disarm the Hizbollah. Nor was anyone in Lebanon surprised. After all, most of the Lebanese troops here are Shias - like the Hizbollah - and in many cases, the soldiers who crossed the Litani are not only from the same southern villages but are related to the guerrillas whom they are supposed to disarm. In other words, a typical Lebanese compromise. So whither UN Security Council Resolution 1701?
A land reduced to rubble
'These places now look like French villages did after German bombardment during the First World War'
Israel strikes Hizbollah stronghold: sources
Lebanese security and Hizbollah sources said Israeli aircraft and commandos raided a Hizbollah stronghold in eastern Lebanon early on Saturday just hours after the U.N. appealed to European countries for peacekeepers.
Juan Cole has many links on this new Israeli raid.
Fallout of Failed Israeli Raid
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the Israeli raid into the Biqa' was aimed at kidnapping a prominent Hizbullah leader, or possibly recovering captured Israeli soldiers. The official Israeli cover story is that they were preventing the supply of arms to Hizbullah by Syria. But that makes no sense. Why would you send a special ops team into a village near Baalbak to stop truck shipments? You would just mount an air raid on the truck. You send in a team of men to capture someone.
MAXSPEAK SUPPLIES VITAL INTELLIGENCE INFO TO WHITEHOUSE
(Via Juan Cole) Link: QUESTION: How can the international force, or the United States if necessary, prevent Iran from resupplying Hezbollah?
BUSH: The first step is -- and part of the mandate in the U.N. resolution was to secure Syria's borders. Iran is able to ship weapons to Hezbollah through Syria. . . . In other words, part of the mandate and part of the mission of the troops, the UNIFIL troops, will be to seal off the Syrian border.
We are so screwed.
Tragedy and Farce in Lebanon
Don’t take it from me, read this gripping first-person account by an Israeli soldier of his unit’s mission to destroy a Hizballah rocket emplacement, published in the not-exactly-peacenik Jerusalem Post. His unit spends the first couple of days of its mission evacuating its wounded, after Hizballah fighters killed nine and wounded 40 by firing an antitank rocket into a house the Israelis had occupied. Then they spend two days on a quick march to their intended target, but when a helicopter drops off drinking water and explosives, it is taken out by a Hizballah surface-to-air missile, and once again the unit is preoccupied with evacuating the wounded. It’s a gripping piece, that communicates exactly how little the Israelis managed to accomplish in their ground offensive. Extracts:
Knowing we were in the area but unsure of our precise whereabouts, Hezbollah operatives in the hills surrounding us launched missiles and mortars shells randomly into the homes in the village through the night. Automatic gunfire was everywhere and we had no way of knowing if it was theirs or ours.
thanks to Marja-Leena Rathje
I discovered Norman Mclaren in the early 1970s when I was playing around with film making. Zoe was studying film making at that time and was watching Norman Mclaren films. Wonderful films done very simply. From Marja-Leena's post:
NFB is celebrating 65 years of Animation and I discovered that we can view four of McLaren's films on the Focus on Animation pages, small scale or full screen size. Blinkity Blank and Hen Hop< are delightful and lively - don't forget these were done by hand in 1955 and 1942 respectively, long before the digital era. Le Merle is a simple and delightful animation based on an old French-Canadian nonsense song, Mon Merle. I plan to show these to my grand-daughter sometime soon.
The Oscar-winning fourth film Neighbours/Voisins (1952) is disturbing and a powerful parable on how easily humans can go into battle! Still very timely viewing but not for young children. (Maybe some world leaders we know should watch it!)
Mclaren literally drew directly on the film stock or he would scratch the emulsion on the film stock. Go look at these wonderful pieces of animation.
Overview of work
thanks to Marja-Leena Rathje
Israeli Troops Criticize War Handling
Israeli soldiers returning from the war in Lebanon say the army was slow to rescue wounded comrades and suffered from a lack of supplies so dire that they had to drink water from the canteens of dead Hezbollah guerrillas.
"We fought for nothing. We cleared houses that will be reoccupied in no time," said Ilia Marshak, a 22-year-old infantryman who spent a week in Lebanon.
thanks to Huffington Post
War Stirs Worry in Israel Over State of Military
Sgt. Lior Rahamin's Israeli reserve unit had not trained in two years. When its members were called up for the Lebanon war, they didn't have straps for their guns, spare ammunition, flak jackets or more than one good radio. There were other shortages: Twice their operations were canceled because they had no water to take; once they went two days without food.
"Hezbollah didn't surprise us. We were surprised by the Israel Defense Forces," said Rahamin, 30, a paratrooper who was wounded fighting in Lebanon in 1997 and who volunteered to go with his unit again. The next time they call, he said, "we will not show up."
thanks to Drudge Report
The 155th Victim
Where are the Achievements of This War?
by Uri Avnery
All over Israel, they are already talking about the "Next Round", the war that will at long last eliminate Hizbullah and punish it for besmirching our honor. That has become, so it seems, a self-evident matter. Even Haaretz treats it as such in its editorials.
In the South, they don't speak about the "Next Round" because the present round is endless.
To have any value whatsoever, the investigation must expose the real roots of the war and present the public with the historic choice that has become clear in this war, too: Either the settlements and an endless war, or the return of the occupied territories and peace.
Otherwise, the investigation will only provide more backing for the outlook of the Right, to wit: we only have to expose the mistakes that have been made and correct them, then we can start the next war and win.
Israel: a State built on lies
The outcome of Israeli military's own inquiry into Qana II was to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International something far from the truth. HRW said that the massacre of at least 28 Lebanese – mostly children and women -- on July 30 was the "latest product" of Israel's indiscriminating bombing. Amnesty added that Israel had a history of either not investigating civilian deaths or conducting flawed inquiries. It was the same excuse this time as the one Israel offered for the horrific killing of 106 Lebanese refugees and four UN soldiers by artillery fire on a UNIFIL compound at the same village of Qana in Lebanon ten years ago. On both occasions, Israel did not know there were civilians at the targeted points. So pretended Israel's leaders. And they claimed that they were aiming only at Hezbollah each time. Where was Hezbollah? Among so many dead there was not one Hezbollah body nor any relic of its equipment either in 1996 or in 2006.