Weblog Archives




  Saturday   August 28   2004


Where has TestingTesting gone to? Some have been wondering. TestingTesting has been dormant but is not dead. As some may remember, the TT living room on Honeymoon Lake was sold and then the rent raised. This prompted a move 15 houses up the street to Zoe's. We had hoped to webcast from Zoe's but that isn't working out. Our other option is to take TT to other living rooms. TT House Band member Steve Showell has offered his living room and I'm sure that there are other living rooms and spaces that we could use. All we need is a DSL connection to send out a quality webcast.

However, hauling my destop around is more than I can realistically handle. I have not considered a laptop until now. The sound cards on laptops are not adequate for webcasting but there are now some high quality external sound cards for laptops that make a laptop an excellent choice for webcasting.

But I don't have a laptop and I need help in getting one. Does anyone have an older laptop that has been replaced and is gathering dust? TT could sure use it. PC or Mac. The two requirements are that it have an Ethernet connection (to connect to DSL) and an empty Type II PCMCIA slot (to hold the external sound card.) If it's a Mac it has to be at least G3. I assume any PC with an Ethernet connection would be powerful enough.

Please let me know if you have a laptop you can donate to TT. Contact me at gcoale@electricedge.com.

We have people who want to be on TT. We are a laptop away from having them on.

Thank you all!

 11:19 AM - link


This is street photography done with an 8 x 10 camera — sort of. Greg wanders around with the 8 x10 camera, sees an image, approaches the people, and then recreates the image for the 8 x 10. The site has a video of an interview. Very interesting.

Greg Miller

To me it's fiction based on a true story.


 11:11 AM - link

FBI Probes Pentagon Spy Case

CBS News has learned that the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to -- in FBI terminology -- "roll up" someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.


Laura Rozen is on top of this one...

The FBI investigation.

For months, I have been working with my colleagues Paul Glastris and Josh Marshall on a story for the Washington Monthly about pre-war intelligence. In particular, the component I have been focusing on involves a particular series of meetings involving officials from the office of the undersecretary of defense for Policy Doug Feith and Iranian dissidents.

As part of our reporting, I have come into possession of information that points to an official who is the most likely target of the FBI investigation into who allegedly passed intelligence on deliberations on US foreign policy to Iran to officials with the pro-Israeli lobby group, AIPAC, as alleged by the CBS report. That individual is Larry Franklin, a veteran DIA Iran analyst seconded to Feith’s office.

Here is what I was told in the days before the FBI investigation came to light.


Juan Cole brings up the larger issue that this raises and then has an excellent analysis of the Israel/Palestine nightmare and the role of AIPAC. A must read.

Israeli Spy in Pentagon Linked to AIPAC

CBS is reporting that a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed to Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans is under FBI investigation for spying for Israel. The person passed to the American Israel Political Action Committee confidential documents, including those detailing Bush administration policy toward Iran, and AIPAC then passed them to Israel. There are wiretaps and photographs backing up the FBI case (the FBI agents involved are extremely brave to take this on).

But this espionage case is too narrow. Consider what journalist Jim Lobe wrote about Feith's Office of Special Plans and the Pentagon Near East and South Asia office:

' key personnel who worked in both NESA and OSP were part of a broader network of neo-conservative ideologues and activists who worked with other Bush political appointees scattered around the national-security bureaucracy to move the country to war, according to retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was assigned to NESA from May 2002 through February 2003. The heads of NESA and OSP were Deputy Undersecretary William Luti and Abram Shulsky, respectively. Other appointees who worked with them in both offices included Michael Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); and Michael Makovsky; an expert on neo-con icon Winston Churchill and the younger brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive editor of pro-Likud Jerusalem Post. Along with Feith, all of the political appointees have in common a close identification with the views of the right-wing Likud Party in Israel. '


Letting Israel Self-Destruct

Take a run down the four-mile stretch of road that leads from Jerusalem to Maleh Adumim, which, with its 31,000 residents, is the West Bank's largest settlement. As you hit the "T" junction at the old road to Jericho, look to your left, up the wooded hill. The few Caterpillar earthmovers cutting into the terrain seem benign in comparison to the frenetic construction taking place elsewhere in the West Bank. Looks deceive. These earthworks may portend the end of the state of Israel as we know it.

The excavations represent the commencement of work on the plan known as E-1, which will create a continuous built-up area connecting Maleh Adumim to Jerusalem. If the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City is the center of a clock face, and with Maleh Adumim due east of the city, E-1 seals Jerusalem on its 12 o'clock-3 o'clock quadrant.

The ramifications of this could hardly be starker. E-1 will cut East Jerusalem off from its environs in the West Bank, virtually ruling out the possibility of East Jerusalem ever becoming the national seat of Palestine. Given the topography, it will dismember the West Bank into two cantons, with no natural connection between them. If implemented, the plan will create a critical mass of facts on the ground that will render nearly impossible the creation of a sustainable Palestinian state with any semblance of geographical integrity. And denying the possibility of a sustainable Palestinian state leaves only one default option: the one-state, bi-national solution that signifies the end of Israel as the home of the Jewish people.


  thanks to TomPaine.commonsense

 11:00 AM - link


The first link is to Joni's web site, which is in progress, and also a link to more of her work.

Joni Sternbach


  thanks to Conscientious

Joni Sternbach


  thanks to Conscientious

 10:44 AM - link


Transition time in Najaf and all Iraq?
by Helena Cobban

The latest reports from Najaf show a point in Iraq's history that seems to be a real turning-point. The Greek word for that is "crisis". It seems the situation still could go either way; and no doubt about it, the stakes are very high.

From here, it could go radically either toward fitna (widespread breakdown) or toward peace.


Thousands Stream into Shrine of Ali
Muqtada orders Followers to Disarm
by Juan Cole

Winners and losers:

I think the big losers from the Najaf episode (part deux) are the Americans. They have become, if it is possible, even more unpopular in Iraq than they were last spring after Abu Ghuraib, Fallujah and Najaf Part 1. The US is perceived as culturally insensitive for its actions in the holy city of Najaf.

The Allawi government is also a big loser. Instead of looking decisive, as they had hoped, they ended up looking like the lackeys of neo-imperialists.

The big winner is Sistani, whose religious charisma has now been enhanced by solid nationalist credentials. He is a national hero for saving Najaf.

For Muqtada, it is a wash. He did not have Najaf until April, anyway, and can easily survive not having it. His movement in the slums of the southern cities is intact, even if its paramilitary has been weakened.


2004 Iraq deaths now exceed 2003 deaths

It happened this week almost without notice: The number of Americans killed in Iraq during 2004 now exceeds the number killed in 2003.

More remarkably, the 488 killed thus far this year died in just 239 days (2.04 daily average), while the 482 killed last year died during fully 287 days (1.68 daily average), which means that not only has 2004 been bloodier than 2003 in absolute terms, but in relative terms as well.



Steve puts it very well...

Meanwhile, back in Najaf
by Steve Gilliard

The better part of a combined brigade of US heavy armor and Marines could not defeat an insurgency of pissed off ghetto teenagers. Think a pissed off group of bloods and crips with high explosives and religious support. The US could not close and kill with them, even before they got to the Imam Ali shrine.

The point of this is simple. We have no ability to even face down some teenagers without restaging Kharkov in the sand. When people say the Army is stretched thin, this is what they mean. In the last week, I've posted about an ANG member impressed into convoy duty, and a jobless cook impressed into the infantry. One committed suicide within 24 hours of his return, the other was killed in Iraq.

The Army has to basically press gang soldiers psychologically untrained to deal with infantry combat into infantry combat. There is a large social and mental gap between the 11 Bravos and their elite cousins and the rest of the Army. The infantry (11 Bravos-Army, 0300's- Marine riflemen) are the hardest of the hard. Even though most are apple cheeked 19 year olds, they're the reason the Army exists, and other soldiers, the vast majority, are wary of them and not too eager to enter their world. And the recruiters tell them any story that they want to hear. Like the poor cook turned grunt. He wasn't told he was going to Iraq, his poor mother didn't even consider it. Now, he's dead.

What people don't get, Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings is especially dense on this point, is that the US is facing the best armed guerrilla movement in history, one with a substantial grounding in basic military tactics and no small inventiveness. The US public is not being told about the insane level of hostiliy US troops face on a daily basis. Like children spitting at US soldiers on patrol.

It goes without saying that Sadr shouldn't have dragged Najaf into this fight, and his actions are grossly irresponsible. Stocking guns in the mosque is an offense. But, the fact is that he's wearing the mantle of both state and God and people will forgive his transgressions, but they will forever hate the US for ours.


Steves post has some interesting comments...

This is like a pathetically bad chess player is playing chess: go for the seemingly best move... immediately do it... loose in less than 2 minutes... smash the chessboard... go home... come back next day... start a new game... go for the seemingly best move... immediately do it ... loose... smash... on and on and on...

and still stand proud and tell everybody what a great chess player you are, and how you changed the world of chess for the better.


 10:30 AM - link


Perfect Distraction
Xavier Ribas

It seems we live in a leisure society. However, the leisure here is not that of idleness, but of activity -the so-called “active leisure”, which according to the sector’s industries, forms the ideal complement to work. Thus, those who have spent all day at the office are recommended to take up paintball, bungee jumping or rafting; while the scaffolder can haul himself off to Port Aventura to see the world. For simply to do nothing, besides being downright uneconomic, is looked at askance; and rest gets turned, as if by magic, into a business. Consequently, we get the production of areas for organized leisure which resemble the areas organized for production. The work ethic and aesthetic are applied to leisure time in such a way that it is now feasible to mix up the benefits and anxieties of one with the other. With this set-up, it is hard to see how leisure can be maintained as a therapy for work.


 10:18 AM - link


Here are two entrys by Zoe, my LOML. I took Zoe up to Whidbey General yesterday for a trip in a MRI. She wrote about it last night. If anyone has a date with a MRI coming up, check it out. Zoe also has Fibromyalgia and lives with chronic pain. She put up a letter fom someone with chronic pain that describes her world. If you know someone with chronic pain, the letter might give you some insight into what they are going through.

MRI -- Are you experienced? I am.

All systems go. I highly recommend that if you are claustrophobic, then lie down, close your eyes, put the washcloth on, and let your Tech put the headphones on you. Gregg assured me that he would be monitoring me. He did, and he could talk to me through the headphones. He was very conscious of what was going on. He even saw when I had a "bad moment" one time, and took time, without telling me, to wait until I could relax, ok, BREATHE again . I would like to share with you, that you should work very hard to NOT move your hands, unfortunately, I did.E

I barely moved, and I touched the top of the cylinder. Dang! Very unsettling. That was a very defining moment for me, to avoid all the negative feelings and thoughts I had that scared me to pieces about small spaces. The fan wasn't enough, I was hot, I had to find my breath. Slowly in and out, finally I worked on, and managed to calm down enough to hear and finally listen to the audio tape and "escape" and traverse time and space from inside a casket..er MRI cylinder to the concert yet again


A Letter to Normals from a Person With Chronic Pain

Having chronic pain means many things change, and a lot of them are invisible. Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand even a little about chronic pain and its effects, and of those that think they know, many are actually misinformed.

In the spirit of informing those who wish to understand:
These are the things that I would like you to understand about me before you judge me.

Please understand that being sick doesn't mean I'm not still a human being. I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion, and if you visit, sometimes I probably don't seem like much fun to be with, but I'm still me, stuck inside this body. I still worry about school, my family, my friends, and most of the time, I'd still like to hear you talk about yours, too


 10:10 AM - link

  Thursday   August 26   2004


I want to thank everyone for the good wishes on my double birthdays — the fourth of my blog and the 60th of my body. When I turned 50 I felt that things were only getting better. As I turn 60 I am more aware of my mortality. My father died at 54 and his father died at 60. Maybe I should focus on my mom's side. She is still alive at 84 and both her parents lasted a long time. But I'm not slowing down. I'm working on getting a number of projects done, starting new ones, and am planning on doing the STP next summer. Fixed gear, of course.

 09:59 AM - link


Sistani has returned to Najaf. This is huge.

Can Sistani save the situation?
by Helena Cobban

This is the best news I could imagine from Iraq. It's a Reuters report from Michael Georgy in Najaf, saying that Ayatollah Sistani had already reached Basra from Kuwait in a ground convoy... And Sistani's asking all Iraqis to join him in a march to Najaf.

It will be so interesting to see (a) how many thousands of Iraqis do this, (b) whether the march will be nonviolent, and (c) how they arrange the logistics of getting into the city through the US lines.

I have seen signs before that Sistani has some interest in the power of nonviolent mass organizing. This project he is launching now could (though we don't know yet) be a major project in this genre.


Sistani Returns, Launches March
Sadrist Ceasefire Announced
by Juan Cole

Al-Hayat is reporting that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani defied his physicians' advice and insisted on returning to Iraq midday on Wednesday. He landed in Kuwait and went overland to Basra, where he is staying at the home of prominent Shiite Ali Abdul Hakim.


Sistani in Najaf Today
by Juan Cole

As I write very early Thursday morning, Sistani 's convoy had left Basra on its way to Najaf several hours to the north. Al-Jazeerah says his convoy is being accompanied by Iraqi police.


Sistani Arrives in Najaf
Dozens Dead in Kufa Mosque Mortar attack
by Juan Cole

Abdul Hussein al-Obeidi of AP reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has arrived in Najaf and gone to a house about a mile from the besieged shrine of Ali. He has asked the thousands of marchers with him to wait outside the city.


Martyrdom or victory for Muqtada

As another inevitable result of the "smoke them out" diplomacy of the Bush administration and Iraqi Premier Riyadh Malawi, untold damage is being done in the Muslim world: US Apache helicopters and AC-130 gunships bombing the vast holy grounds of the Wadi al-Salam cemetery, while the main shopping street leading to the Imam Ali Shrine - as well as most of Najaf's old city - lies in ruins. And in an overlapping graphic display, US forces now also occupy much of the 2-million-strong Sadr City, the vast Shi'ite slum in Baghdad.

The Iyad Allawi government has warned Muqtada al-Sadr, who heads the resistance in Najaf, at least three times: surrender, or else. Muqtada's answer, faithful to centuries of Shi'ite martyrdom, cannot be anything but "martyrdom or victory". Muqtada's spokesman in Najaf, Shaikh Ahmad al-Shaibani, still insists he wants a peace agreement - "not an ultimatum". But "peace" is something the former US Central Intelligence Agency asset Allawi simply cannot deliver, because its precondition, for Muqtada, is the US Army leaving Najaf.

Muqtada knows that the longevity of the standoff (the most recent one began on August 5) is directly proportional to his enhanced status as a resistance icon, and Allawi's loss of face. And if the Imam Ali Shrine is stormed, as his Baghdad spokesman Abdel Hadi al-Darraji puts it, there will be "a revolution all over Iraq".


 09:49 AM - link


I recently linked to an article and some images of William Eggleston. He now has his own website. Here is what Robert Mirani has to say about it:

William Eggleston's Website

Kudos to the Eggleston Trust for putting together a resource this good (and that will no doubt get better as it evolves)...if only other major photographers could be represented similarly online this way. Be sure to wander around the website and look at all the images from various monographs, portfolios and publications, and be prepared to kill some time


I can only add: No shit! Now go kill some time...

William Eggleston


 09:38 AM - link

Sharon betrays Israel's founders

Many observers of the Middle East believe "something good is stirring," as an editorial in The Economist put it on July 31. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel seems to have emerged as the champion of a new pragmatism that challenges the rightist dogmatism of the Likud and the settlers as he seeks to disengage from Gaza. And a newly assertive Palestinian young guard is challenging not only a corrupt entourage around Yasser Arafat but also the leader of the Palestinian national movement himself.

Unfortunately, such optimism is based on a complete misreading of both Israeli and Palestinian realities. Sharon is not about to agree to the most minimal conditions for viable Palestinian statehood. His unshakable resolve to avoid dealing with the Palestinians - even to prevent chaos in the wake of the promised withdrawal from Gaza - and to widen Jewish settlement activity throughout the West Bank gives the lie to such wishful thinking.

Sharon has candidly insisted that he intends to disengage from Gaza only because he believes it is the price Israel must pay for retaining enough of the West Bank to assure permanent Israeli control of the area. On Tuesday he announced massive new construction in the West Bank settlements.

As for the Palestinians, the emerging young guard will never agree to Sharon's notion of a peace agreement - an "interim" arrangement that leaves Israel in control of the West Bank and defers Palestinian statehood for decades while Israel continues to fragment what is left of Palestinian territory into isolated cantons.


  thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog

Britain in split with US on West Bank homes

A significant gap opened up between the British and US governments on Middle East policy yesterday when Downing Street expressed its continued opposition to any expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

Fuelling the controversy, the Israeli government announced plans to build another 533 homes in settlements in the West Bank, in addition to the 1,000 construction tenders approved by the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, last week.

The British government, in a rare departure from Washington, positioned itself alongside its European Union partners on the issue. The EU, unlike Washington, is critical of Israeli behaviour in the West Bank and Gaza.

The US administration signalled at the weekend that it was abandoning its long-term call for a freeze on all settlement activity and would back some limited expansion.


  thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog

 09:21 AM - link


A while back I linked to the interesting work of Ansen Seale and his ""chronoscope". Ansen let me know that he has some new work.

Ansen Seale
Recent Work


 09:16 AM - link

big brother is watching

I've seen references to this issue and, with everything else going on, have ignored it (maybe it would go away??). Reader Yolanda Flanagan sent me a link to this ACLU report that I've started to read. More nightmares. A must read. It's a PDF download.

The Surveillance-Industrial Complex

Not so long ago, our lives were mostly recorded on paper. From the doctor’s office to the supermarket, any record of where we had gone or what we had done could only be tracked by looking at paper and ink. Today, however, the most intimate details of our personal habits and behaviors are now computerized. On millions of hard drives and microchips, more and more of what we do every day is recorded – not only by the government, but also by corporations. And as this report shows, when it comes to preserving our privacy, that is increasingly a distinction without a difference.

This special ACLU report, the 12th in our series on civil liberties since 9/11, paints a sobering picture of just how little control we have over our information today. It shows how information-age technology, anemic privacy laws and soaring profits have all combined to endanger our privacy rights to a point never before seen in our history.

After you read this report, you will see that reform is clearly needed.

Americans from across the political spectrum understand that “the right to be left alone” is central to our constitutional democracy – that a secure sense of personal privacy is vital to preserving the openness of American life, and to protecting the boundless creativity, innovation and prosperity for which we are known around the world.

If we allow the fear of terrorism to create a new industrial base for surveillance technology, unfettered by reasonable and effective privacy constraints, these special characteristics of the American way of life will wither on the vine.

This report is packed with fascinating and frightening details about how the relationship between government and big business is changing before our eyes – or, all too often, behind our backs. Brought together, these details add up to a trend that would be almost hard to believe if it were not so well documented.


 09:10 AM - link


Matthias Koch

Matthias Koch was a student of Bernd Becher at the Art academy of Düsseldorf. He takes pictures with a fireman's truck for which he had to pass a special driver's licence. The camera, format 8 x 10'', is placed at the top of the fireman's ladder, while the photographer, sitting in the driver's seat, takes the pictures with a teleguided apparatus. He hence creates a sensational connection between the architecture and the environment of the landing beaches in Normandy.


  thanks to coincidences

 09:01 AM - link

the erosion of democracy

Democracy Matters Are Frightening in Our Time

The problems plaguing our democracy are not only ones of disaffection and disillusionment. The greatest threats come in the form of the rise of three dominating, antidemocratic dogmas. These three dogmas, promoted by the most powerful forces in our world, are rendering American democracy vacuous. The first dogma of free-market fundamentalism posits the unregulated and unfettered market as idol and fetish. This glorification of the market has led to a callous corporate-dominated political economy in which business leaders (their wealth and power) are to be worshipped—even despite the recent scandals—and the most powerful corporations are delegated magical powers of salvation rather than relegated to democratic scrutiny concerning both the ethics of their business practices and their treatment of workers. This largely unexamined and unquestioned dogma that supports the policies of both Democrats and Republicans in the United States—and those of most political parties in other parts of the world—is a major threat to the quality of democratic life and the well-being of most peoples across the globe. It yields an obscene level of wealth inequality, along with its corollary of intensified class hostility and hatred. It also redefines the terms of what we should be striving for in life, glamorizing materialistic gain, narcissistic pleasure, and the pursuit of narrow individualistic preoccupations—especially for young people here and abroad.

The second prevailing dogma of our time is aggressive militarism, of which the new policy of preemptive strike against potential enemies is but an extension. This new doctrine of U.S. foreign policy goes far beyond our former doctrine of preventive war. It green-lights political elites to sacrifice U.S. soldiers—who are disproportionately working class and youth of color—in adventurous crusades. This dogma posits military might as salvific in a world in which he who has the most and biggest weapons is the most moral and masculine, hence worthy of policing others. In practice, this dogma takes the form of unilateral intervention, colonial invasion, and armed occupation abroad. It has fueled a foreign policy that shuns multilateral cooperation of nations and undermines international structures of deliberation. Fashioned out of the cowboy mythology of the American frontier fantasy, the dogma of aggressive militarism is a lone-ranger strategy that employs “spare-no-enemies” tactics. It guarantees a perennial resorting to the immoral and base manner of settling conflict, namely, the perpetration of the very sick and cowardly terrorism it claims to contain and eliminate. On the domestic front, this dogma expands police power, augments the prison-industrial complex, and legitimates unchecked male power (and violence) at home and in the workplace. It views crime as a monstrous enemy to crush (targeting poor people) rather than as an ugly behavior to change (by addressing the conditions that often encourage such behavior).

The third prevailing dogma in this historic moment is escalating authoritarianism. This dogma is rooted in our understandable paranoia toward potential terrorists, our traditional fear of too many liberties, and our deep distrust of one another. The Patriot Act is but the peak of an iceberg that has widened the scope of the repression of our hard-earned rights and hard-fought liberties. The Supreme Court has helped lead the way with its support of the Patriot Act. There are, however, determined democrats on the Court who are deeply concerned, as expressed in a recent speech of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “On important issues,” she said, “like the balance between liberty and security, if the public doesn’t care, then the security side is going to overweigh the other.” The cowardly terrorist attacks of 9/11 have been cannon fodder for the tightening of surveillance. The loosening of legal protection and slow closing of meaningful access to the oversight of governmental activities—measures deemed necessary in the myopic view of many—are justified by the notion that safety trumps liberty and security dictates the perimeters of freedom.


 08:58 AM - link

spiral jetty part 2

I recently posted some links to a visit to the Spiral Jetty. He found some other picts.

What a Difference Ten Weeks Makes

I was astounded to see the Great Salt Lake's change in water level over just ten weeks. These photos taken the first week in June show water surrounding Spiral Jetty. During the second week in August when I made my visit, Spiral Jetty was surrounded by a giant salt flat.


 08:48 AM - link


Oil's slippery slope

As the neo-conservative dream of a "liberated" Iraq came true in April 2003, who would have predicted that 16 months later oil would become the ultimate time bomb for the Bush administration?

And the Saudi royal/oil family cavalry is not exactly coming to the rescue.

Many factors explain the current rise in the price of oil toward US$50 a barrel - and counting: incapacity - or unwillingness - of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to respond to growing global demand; maximum terrorist risk in Saudi Arabia; the Yukos saga in Russia; the recent referendum in Venezuela; ethnic trouble in Nigeria; China's unquenchable oil thirst; widespread speculation frenzy propelled by pension funds; and serial pipeline bombing in Iraq.


 08:35 AM - link


Here is another scan of one of Jenny's moths.

Dead Bugs


 08:31 AM - link

  Tuesday   August 24   2004


 12:16 AM - link

  Monday   August 23   2004


'Death after death, blood after blood'
Killing goes on despite claims that siege is over

Inside the pockmarked entrance of Najaf's Imam Ali shrine, there were no police to be seen yesterday afternoon.

Supporters of the rebel Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr loafed on carpets in the pigeon-infested courtyard. A few smoked; others dozed. A couple of young students stood next to a makeshift infirmary; parked nearby was an empty pallet covered in blood.

"We haven't given up. This is a lie by the government," said Amar Al-Khaji, a 29-year-old civil engineer from Baghdad. "As you can see, we are still here."


Besieged Al-Sadr keeps grip on shrine
Iraqi government claims that police had arrested hundreds of the radical cleric's fighters and taken over his headquarters in Najaf could have come from Saddam's Comical Ali, reports Luke Harding

Asked how the battle was going, Commander Abu Mohammad Hilu showed off his latest trophy - a blood-drenched American boot. There was a large bullet hole in the middle. 'We found it after last night's battle,' the commander explained. His colleague, Abu Ali, added: 'Originally there was an American foot inside it and a bit of the leg. But we took it out and threw it to the dogs.'


Egyptian Mufti: Volcano of Anger over Najaf
by Juan Cole

It doesn't have to be this way. The US is behaving in profoundly offensive ways in Najaf. U.S. military leaders appear to have no idea what Najaf represents. I saw one retired general on CNN saying that they used to have to be careful of Buddhist temples in Vietnam, too. I almost wept. Islam is not like Buddhism. It is a far tighter civilization. And the shrine of Ali is not like some Buddhist temple in Vietnam that even most Buddhists have never heard of.

I got some predictably angry mail at my earlier statement that the Marines who provoked the current round of fighting in Najaf, apparently all on their own and without orders from Washington, were behaving like ignoramuses. Someone attempted to argue to me that the Marines were protecting me. Protecting me? The ones in Najaf are behaving in ways that are very likely to get us all blown up. The US officials who encouraged the Mujahidin against the Soviets were also trying to protect us, and they ended up inadvertently creating the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Such protection, I don't need.

Radical Islamist terrorism is a form of vigilanteism. Angry young Muslim men see their own governments doing nothing about Israeli dispossession of the Palestinians, and bowing to US adventures like Iraq, and they grow disgusted. They have no hope of getting their governments to do anything about what they see as profound injustices. So they form small groups of engineers or other professionals and take matters into their own hands.

That is exactly the kind of phenomenon Gumaa is warning against. He is right about the volcano of anger.


It's the policies, stupid!
by Helena Cobban

More moaning and handwringing in Washington this week over the everywhere evident lack of success of the US government's campaign to "sell" the US to the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world. Condi Rice gave a major speech at the US Institute of Peace Thursday on this theme. The next day, the WaPo's Robin Wright had a front-page article joining and amplifying the general bemoaning.

"Oh, if only some well-conceived p.r. campaign could come along and just unlock the magic door that would enable the always well-intentioned US government to explain its good intentions to the world's Muslim masses" ...That seems to be the theme.

People like Rice and Wright who harp on it so much either forget completely, or seek to minimize to near-zero, one simply fact:

It's not the "values" or the "image" of the US that Muslims around the world "hate".

It's the policies, stupid!


What does Muqtada al-Sadr Want?
by Juan Cole

Class, Generation and Neo-Khomeinism
by Juan Cole

What do we call the enemy?

 11:41 AM - link


Instruments of Death

Underwater Target Drone


 11:27 AM - link


Commentary: Iran's war threat is very real

Forget an October Surprise, a much worse one could come in September: Full-scale war between the United States and Iran may be far closer than the American public might imagine.

For Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani Wednesday warned frankly and openly that if his military commanders believed the United States was serious about attacking his country to destroy its nuclear power facility at Bushehr, or to topple its Islamic theocratic form of government, they would not sit back passively and wait for the U.S. armed forces to strike the first blow, as President Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq did in March 2003. They would strike first.

"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," Shamkhani told an interviewer on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television news network, which is widely watched throughout the Middle East.

"Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly."

The Iranian defense minister was speaking in response to an increasing barrage of tough, even ominous statements from senior U.S. officials that Iranian leaders and many Middle East diplomats believe parallel the drumbeat of rhetoric that prepared the American public for the war in Iraq a year and a half ago.


  thanks to Antiwar.com

 11:23 AM - link

spiral art

A series on visiting a remarkable piece of environmental sculpture.

Back from Spiral Jetty

I’m back from my quick trip to Utah to see Spiral Jetty. I will probably post something more thought-based on the piece and the experience of visiting it later this week. I will definitely post more photos in upcoming days. But I thought I would stick some facts and a few snapshots up today to give more current information than is available elsewhere on the Internet about accessing the site and current water levels.


Drive to the Jetty
Industrial Wasteland
Walking the Jetty

  thanks to Marja-Leena Rathje

 11:20 AM - link

america's weapon of mass destruction

The Silent Genocide from America

When Bush jr. said, "we will smoke them out…" he lived up to his promise, making life an unattainable reality for the unborn and unsustainable reality for the living sentencing the Afghan people and their future generations to a predetermined death sentence.

"After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death. When I saw my deformed grandson, I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good, different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silence death from which I know we will not escape." (Jooma Khan of Laghman province, March 2003)

These words were uttered by an aggrieved Afghan grandfather, who saw his own and that of others' familial extinction at the hands of the United States of America and her allies. Another Afghan, who also saw his demise, said:

"I realized this slow, yet certain death, when I saw blood in my urine and developed severe pain in my kidneys along with breathing problems I never had before. Many of my family members started to complain from confusion and the pregnant women miscarried their babies while others gave birth to disabled infants" (Akbar Khan from Paktika province, February 2003)

The perpetuation of the perpetual death in Afghanistan continues with the passage of each day. Every day, people see the silent death striking their families and friends, hopeless and terrified at the sight of the next funeral in their minds' eyes. This indiscriminate murder of the Afghan people continues while those, whose tax money paid for the monstrous weapons and brought about this genocide pretend as though all is well. The horrific pictures of those dying--whose bodies do not correlate to their age since they have internalized so much uranium dust that it impacted the morphology of their bodies--remain in the memories of those still living who are fearfully waiting for their turn of disaster. The pregnant women are afraid from giving birth to babies--horrified to see a deformity instead of a healthy child. This is the legacy of the US "liberation", an indiscriminate murder of the weak and the unarmed that do not have any means of self-defense. In fact, there is no defensive measure against such Weapons of Mass Destruction because these deadly particles of uranium oxide--the dust formed after uranium pulverizes upon impacting a target--remain in soil, water and cover the surface of vegetation for generations to come.

When a US bomb or that of her allies landed on an Afghan village or town, the land and its people have become part of the deadly legacy of silent death. This death sentence is different from any other type because in this type death sentence all the people, their land and future generations are condemned to an inescapable genocide. The tragedy that makes this state of affairs so dreadful is the unavoidably invisible threat that targets everyone indiscriminately. Moreover, the threat has become endemic to the fiber of existence, contaminated the land, water and its inhabitants. In fact, when Bush jr. said, "we will smoke them out…" he lived up to his promise, making life an unattainable reality for the unborn and unsustainable reality for the living, hence, sentencing Afghan people and their future generations to a predetermined death sentence.


  thanks to Yolanda Flanagan

Cancer Epidemic Caused by U.S. WMD
M.D. Says Depleted Uranium Definitively Linked

A growing number of U.S. military personnel who are serving, or have served, in Iraq or Afghanistan has become sick and disabled from a variety of symptoms commonly known as Gulf War Syndrome. Depleted uranium (DU) weapons have been blamed for many of the symptoms.

“Gulf war vets are coming down with these symptoms at twice the rate of vets from previous conflicts,” said Barbara A. Goodno from the Department of Defense’s Deployment Health Support Directorate.

A recent discovery by American Free Press that nearly half the soldiers in one returned unit have malignant growths has provided the scientific community with “critical evidence,” experts say, to help understand exactly how DU affects humans.


  thanks to Yolanda Flanagan

 11:10 AM - link


Everybody probably knows this, but Google has some interesting search capabilities. I finally discovered Google's Google Web Search Features and found that you can use Google to search specific sites such as your favorite blog. It only works at the root level of the domain, but it's pretty cool. Check out Site Search. The format is: admission site:www.stanford.edu. Pretty simple.

 11:01 AM - link

civil war

It has seemed to me that the Civil War did not end with the surrender of Lee at Appomatox. I'm not the only one. There are two Americas and the war continues. This is outlined in the book The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America. I've started the book. It can be downloaded for free at the Retro vs. Metro site below. A must read.

Hiding in Ads Is Campaign for a Book on Politics

The authors contend that the country has effectively become two nations. "Retro America" consists of the South, the Great Plains and Appalachia, is Republican-dominated and religious, contributes 29 percent of the country's federal tax revenue and represents 35 percent of the population. Through its alliance with the Republican Party, though, the authors say, Retro America controls all three branches of government.

"Metro America," they say, consists of the coasts and the Great Lake States, is progressive and relatively secular, pays 71 percent of the country's tax revenue and represents 65 percent of the population. It is also primarily Democratic.

The authors argue that a potential electoral and Congressional majority exists in "Metro" states, letting Democrats write off "Retro" ones in their pursuit of the presidency.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes

The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro

Documenting The Uncivil War
The Great Divide offers a unique geopolitical view that explains both the origin and nature of the divide that characterizes contemporary America.
The United States is in effect two nations divided by history, ethnicity, culture, religion, economics and finally, politics. The authors name these two nations “Retro” and “Metro” America.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes

 10:51 AM - link


Joerg Colberg has this wonderful link. Joerg's comments...

When you say "classical French photographer" people inevitably think of Henri Cartier-Bresson. That's quite unfortunate as there are many others. Willy Ronis is one of them. This site has lots of photos, unfortunately it's only in German. Click on "Bilder" to see the photos.

Willy Ronis


 10:36 AM - link


The Demand Side of Oil

It's not just Iraq, Venezuala and Russia that are roiling oil prices. The simple fact is that demand is rising fast - very fast. As China (and to a lesser extent, India) industrialize you've got more than just the energy for industry - you've got the energy needed for all those consumers to have the cars, refrigerators, air conditioning and heating they've always wanted.

It's only just that these billions of people be drawn into a world with some prosperity and modern material comforts - but it's going to have a price.

Specifically, a price in oil.


The Fall 2004 issue of yes! has some interesting articles on oil...

Can We Live Without Oil?

  thanks to Bad Attitudes

 10:26 AM - link

man made landscapes

An interesting online journal of photo essays on the urban scene and manmade landscapes

Polar Inertia
journal of nomadic and popular culture

Cadillac Chase: an automobile cross section of los angeles

Following Cadillacs randomly for a day, allowing our path to be defined not by our own itinerary but by the chance encounters with the Cadillacs that cross our path.

Relinquishing control of direction or destination, the Cadillacs lead us to unfamiliar territories, where a new city is revealed that is not defined by city boundaries or geographies, but rather by the common connection and desires of its citizens. It is here in Cadillac city that we can imagine the city as an organization composed of many realities and itineraries that together help to define the contemporary city.


  thanks to The Cartoonist

 10:21 AM - link


Why Venezuela has Voted Again for Their 'Negro e Indio' President

The official CIA handbook on Venezuela says that half the nation's farmers own only 1% of the land. They are the lucky ones, as more peasants owned nothing. That is, until their man Chavez took office. Even under Chavez, land redistribution remains more a promise than an accomplishment. But today, the landless and homeless voted their hopes, knowing that their man may not, against the armed axis of local oligarchs and Dick Cheney, succeed for them. But they are convinced he will never forget them.


  thanks to The Blogging of the President: 2004

 10:09 AM - link


Human Landscape


  thanks to From the Floor

 10:06 AM - link

torture, inc

Abu Ghraib Probe Points to Top Brass

An Army investigation into the role of military intelligence personnel in the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison reports that the scandal was not just caused by a small circle of rogue military police soldiers but resulted from failures of leadership rising to the highest levels of the U.S. command in Iraq, senior defense officials said.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report has not yet been completed, said the 9,000-page document says that a combination of leadership failings, confounding policies, lack of discipline and absolute confusion at the prison led to the abuse. It widens the scope of culpability from seven MPs who have been charged with abuse to include nearly 20 low-ranking soldiers who could face criminal prosecution in military courts. No Army officers, however, are expected to face criminal charges.


  thanks to War and Piece

Seymour Hersh, who broke the Abu Ghraib story, has a book. Just in time for the elections.

Chain of Command
The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib

Since September 11, 2001, Seymour M. Hersh has riveted readers -- and outraged the Bush Administration -- with his stories in The New Yorker, including his breakthrough pieces on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Now, in Chain of Command, he brings together this reporting, along with new revelations, to answer the critical question of the last three years: how did America get from the clear morning when hijackers crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to a divisive and dirty war in Iraq?


  thanks to War and Piece

 09:59 AM - link


Portraits from the Golden Age of Jazz


  thanks to Life In The Present

 09:40 AM - link