Jeneane Sessum mentioned this piece.
We know how long it takes to become a musician, even a mediocre one. But the real test of talent doesn’t come until we hit the bandstand. Eventually, every young (or at least inexperienced) musician playing traditional jazz -- in this case, the one type that has survived for decades: bebop or bip-bop -- hits the infamous “Jam Session” to test his or her musical prowess. No matter how much practice or training a musician has had, the unwitting instrumentalist may not be prepared for what’s about to take place when they hit the bandstand.
Every jam session has a set of unspoken, unwritten Rules, which are essentially the same whether the jam session is in New York or Los Angeles or any small town in between.
Understand, you won’t be told about The Rules because you are expected to know them before you step foot on stage. If it’s your first time sitting in, my suggestion is to be as humble as you possibly can be. This serves to confuse “The Men” who are ready to test you. They will think one of two things about your humility. Either (a) you are a total genius -- perhaps Charlie Parker returned in the flesh -- or, (b) you are completely lame. Remember, confusion is the ultimate goal.
thanks to allied
George also did this wonderful piece about Jaco Pastorius. Now, I have some old Weather Report albums, but I wasn't familiar with Jaco. Rhapsody has three Jaco albums that I am listening to — Jaco Pastorius, Word Of Mouth, and The Birthday Concert. Wow! So much music, so little time.
What Jaco Said: Thoughts on the Man and His Legacy
When I first heard Jaco, I was 16 years old. I walked into the music store where I worked in Utica, New York, and didn’t see anyone minding the store. Everyone was over by the stereo section. A few of the older musicians were standing in a circle, passing this album back and forth. They were shaking their heads and listening.
I said, “Who is this?” And one of the guys said, “It’s Jaco. We played with him in Lou Rawls’ band. I can’t believe he got a record deal.” As I stood there listening with them, “Donna Lee” was playing. I was familiar with the song, but it was just plain out the way Jaco did that tune, not to mention making it the first cut! I didn’t understand what I was hearing because it was so odd to hear something so fast and so melodic in the lower register. My ears weren’t ready for what I was hearing, and I couldn’t digest it right away.
George also has a blog — Musick. A recent entry...
What with all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went unnoticed last week.
Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at age 93.
The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in... and then the trouble started ...
I am on the floor...
Bomb Explosion in Najaf; At Least 95 Dead
A powerful car bomb tore through a crowded street next to Iraq's most sacred Shiite Muslim shrine today, killing at least 95 people, including an influential cleric, and deepening tensions among a Shiite majority already riven by factional disputes.
The bomb was detonated soon after Friday prayers ended, a moment when the narrow streets and dun-hued markets of the holy city were teeming with pilgrims, worshippers and shoppers. It appeared to have been aimed at Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir Hakim, the son of one of Iraq's greatest clerics and the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, who had returned to Iraq in May after 23 years in exile.
Tin-foil hat theory of my own: Al Qa’ida operatives, who are Sunni, did this in a bid to spark a civil war, which would embroil U.S. troops and tie them down when they might be needed in South Korea, Indonesia, Afghanistan, etc. The attack also aims to show the Arab world that American troops aren’t up to providing security and can be put on the defensive. This will embolden jihadis and give other nations yet another reason to withhold additional troops. All this means America will likely remain pretty much on its own in Iraq and her ability to respond to threats around the world will be negatively impacted. Instead of flypaper for terrorists, Iraq is a tarbaby for America.
This could be the equivalent of the assassination of the Archuduke Franz Ferdinand that sparked World War I — although on national scale, rather than a global one. The probability of civil war — with American troops caught in the middle — just spiked.
The assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, on the steps one of Shi'a Islam's holiest mosques no less, is more than another terrorist atrocity, it's the latest sign that Iraq is gradually slipping out of control -- not just of the Coalition, but of anybody.
Whoever did this -- and my money is on Al Qaeda -- understands extremely well the effect these kind of high-profile attacks can have on a strategic situation as fragile and inherently unstable as the one facing the Americans in Iraq.
The U.N. bombing was a message to outsiders: The U.S. cannot protect you. The Najaf bombing appears to be a message to the Shi'a: Not only can't the U.S. protect you from us, they can't protect you from yourselves, either.
The next three are from Riverbend at Baghdad Burning.
“[Iraq] is not a country in chaos and Baghdad is not a city in chaos.” – Paul Bremer
Where is this guy living? Is he even in the same time zone??? I’m incredulous… maybe he's from some alternate universe where shooting, looting, tanks, rape, abductions, and assassinations aren’t considered chaos, but it’s chaos in *my* world.
Ever since the occupation there have been 400 females abducted in Baghdad alone and that is only the number of recorded abductions. Most families don’t go to the Americans to tell about an abduction because they know it’s useless. The male members of the family take it upon themselves to search for the abducted female and get revenge if they find the abductors. What else is there to do? I know if I were abducted I’d much rather my family organize themselves and look for me personally than go to the CPA.
By BBC’s accounts there are 70 cars a day being hijacked in Baghdad alone…
And now we’ve just had some shocking news- Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim was assassinated in the holy city of Najaf! Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim was the head of SCIRI (Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq). They don’t know who was behind it, but many believe it is one of the other Shi’a religious factions. There has been some tension between Al-Sadir’s followers and Al-Hakim’s followers. Another cleric, Al-Sistani, also had some interesting things to say against Al-Hakim…
Yesterday, I read how it was going to take up to $90 billion to rebuild Iraq. Bremer was shooting out numbers about how much it was going to cost to replace buildings and bridges and electricity, etc.
Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.
As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.
Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.
A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!
The Opposite Direction
We were sitting around- two families… ours and my uncle’s. Adults were sitting neatly on couches and us ‘kids’ sprawled out on the cool ‘kashi’ (tiles) on the floor, watching tv. Everyone was feeling depressed because we had just seen Nada Domani (head of the Red Cross in Iraq) telling the world they had decided to pull out some of their personnel and send them to Jordan because they were expecting attacks.
I am praying that whoever tipped them off was very wrong. Who would attack the Red Cross? Everyone needs the Red Cross… The Red Cross isn’t simply administering aid in the form of medication or food, they are acting as mediators between the POWS and detainees and the CPA. Before the Red Cross got involved, the families of the detainees knew nothing about them. During raids or at checkpoints, people would be detained (mainly men and boys) and they would simply disappear. Relatives of the detainees would stand for hours in front of the hotels where there were American security authorities begging for some information- some clue- as to where they could find a father, an uncle, a son...
What will we do without the Red Cross?
Our house was searched by the Americans. That happened almost ten days ago. I wasn’t home, but my mother called the next day a bit freaked out.
They came at around 12 midnight they were apparently supposed to do a silent entrance and surprise the criminal Ba’athi cell that was in my parents house, unfortunately for them our front gate does a fair amount of rattling so my brother heard that and opened the door and saw a couple of soldiers climbing on our high black front gate. When the silent entrance tactic failed they resorted to shouty entrance mode. So they shouted at him telling him that he should get down on his knees, which he did. He actually was trying to help them open the door, but whatever. Seconds later around 25 soldiers are in the house my brother, father and mother are outside sitting on the ground and in their asshole-ish ways refused to answer any questions about what was happening. My father was asking them what they were looking so that he can help but as usual since you are an Iraqi addressing an American is no use since he doesn’t even acknowledge you as a human being standing in front of him. They (the Americans) have a medic with them and he seems to be the only sane person amongst them, my brother tells me they were kids all of them. Anyway so my brother and father start talking to the medic and he tells them what this is about. They have been “informed” that there are daily meetings the last five days, Sudanese people come into our house at 9am and stay till 3pm, we are a probable Ansar cell. My father is totally baffled, my brother gets it. These are not Sudanese men they are from Basra the “informer” is stupid enough to forget that there is a sizeable population in Basra who are of African origin. And it is not meetings these 2 (yes only two) guys have here, they are carpenters and they were repairing my mom’s kitchen. Way. To. Go. You have great informers.
In only the last week, the war in Iraq has entered a phase characterized by two amazingly contradictory developments.
First, it is generally accepted (except by the war's avid authorities) that the reasons for invading Iraq were false. Second, the war party around the White House and the Pentagon are responding to their incredible failures of judgment not by modifying their policies in the Middle East, but by doing more and still more of the same. And in one of those bizarre turns of history, their acts have brought them (and us) within a hair's breadth of creating exactly the situation they claimed forced us to go to war in the first place.
Finally, the idea is creeping in that, looking at the entire Middle East, the next "solution" will be to put American troops into Israel to fight Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups. (The usually supremely rational Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) brought this up on television recently.)
Such an act, of course, would pit the United States irrevocably against the entire Arab and Islamic world--and encourage and create anti-American terrorism on a scale yet unseen.
In Iraq, American authorities have become so desperate for information about the country they pretend to rule that, after foolishly disbanding the Iraqi army and leaving tens of thousands of men roaming the streets, they are recruiting the hated intelligence agents and torturers of the Saddam Hussein government, the Mukhabarat , to work with us.
This administration shows no indication of changing its ways; thus the situation can only grow worse.
Perhaps the only hope lies in the story going around town that President Bush has told the Pentagon he wants "no more American dead" after next March. By then, the electoral campaign will be well under way, and perhaps zealotry will give way to reality--or at least to a change in administration.
thanks to Eschaton
In addition to the traditional screens, scrolls, lacquerware, and ceramics (and a few “modern” paintings), a variety of kimono were displayed. My interest in kimono is comparatively recent—when I was younger I would have foolishly dismissed kimono as “craft” rather than “real art”. But a 1998 exhibition of ukiyo-e and kimono at the National Gallery of Australia—titled Beauty and Desire in Edo Period Japan—cured my ignorance.
Most of the kimono in the current exhibition are kosode, the traditional name for what is regarded nowadays as a typical kimono. The kosode, whose name comprises the characters for “small” and “sleeve”, is more practical than the long-sleeved furisode.
KOSODE kimono is the traditional name for what is today considered an ordinary kimono. Compared to the long-sleeved forms of traditional court kimono, such as the sokutai and the hitatare, the KOSODE is fitted with short practical sleeves that give it its name. KOSODE began to be used as robe (top-wear) during Japan's medieval period, and it rapidly entered the fashion limelight in the Edo period. The urban middle classes of the early Edo period, who were the major players in the fashion trends, brought the unusual or bizarre dress of courtesans and kabukimono (outlaws) into town fashions, and in the later Edo period, the trend of fashions changed towards the elegant and chic.
Kosode with Chrysanthemums and Flowing Water;
Tie-dyeing, embroidery and stenciled gold leaf
on black figured silk satin
thanks to Jonathon Delacour
Throughout the relatively short history of Jewish nationalism many Jews have managed to find flaws within Zionist philosophy. Many have detached themselves from Zionism. Since the declaration of the Israeli state, numerous Israelis have left Israel and more than a few Jews around the world have joined forces with the Palestinian liberation movement. Israelis, on the other hand, are those who still fail to realize that the ten beliefs above are grave, indeed fatal, mistakes.
One could probably ask whether these essential mistakes are made by Zionists in particular rather than all Israelis. In response I would argue that Israeli people are Zionists even though they may only have a very little knowledge of what Zionism is. Most Israelis were born into a colonial and racist reality. They are educated to maintain Zionism rather than to question it. This blind acceptance of one of the most radically chauvinist worldviews turns the Israelis into an impossible candidate for any form of peaceful negotiation.
The mistakes in detail
4. To believe that they live in a democracy and therefore that their atrocities are legitimate.
In spite of the fact that more than half of the population living within Israeli borders is denied the right to vote, Israelis still regard themselves as democratic people. Moreover, Israeli people (very much like many Americans) believe that their 'freedom' of political choice gives them a mandate to decide the fate of other people. Israelis are sure that their murderous acts are fully legitimate only because they are 'the only democracy in the Middle East'. This can be explained with reference to the Israeli interpretation of the Jewish concept of 'chosen-ness'. While Orthodox Jews regard being chosen as an ethical and spiritual burden, Israelis regard their 'chosen-ness' as a form of cosmic gift: a condition you are born into which makes you superhuman. In a very short time, Israeli people have developed a system of 'chosen people democracy' which allows them, the chosen people to dictate their worldview to those who are too weak (for the time being) to fight back. It is important to mention that Israel is not alone in having a 'chosen people democracy'. American democracy follows very much the same line of thinking. Since World War II, American people have decided for the rest of the world how the latter should participate in supporting American wealth. No wonder those two 'chosen people democracies' are so enthusiastic about each other.
All these family ties seem to entangle Sophie's esthetic sensibility as well. For she makes art about art -- specificially, she paints persuasive likenesses of well-known paintings, but all rendered without any living thing in them. The Mona Lisa without Mona. Velazquez' Las Meninas as a vast, empty room. Some 20 famous paintings in all, completely denuded of their human inhabitants, by Degas, Eakins, Hopper, Homer, Monet, Charles Willson Peale, Vermeer and even Henri Matisse.
thanks to dublog
A Small Group of Dedicated People Might Actually Do Something
Well, you've heard that wonderful Margaret Mead quote about how you should never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, and that, indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Well, I think it's time we stopped repeating that quotation and came to some agreement about what we happy few might do over the next five years or so. That is the purpose of my remarks today.
You know, there are two kinds of politics in the world: the politics of love and the politics of fear. Love is about cooperation, sharing and inclusion. It is about the elevation of each individual to a life neither supressed nor exploited, but instead nourished to rise to its full potential – a life for its own sake and so that we may all benefit by the gift of that life. Fear and the politics of fear is about narrow ideologies that separate us, militarize us, imprison us, exploit us, control us, overcharge us, demean us, bury us alive in debt and anxiety and then bury us dead in cancers and wars. The politics of love and the politics of fear are now pitted against each other in a naked struggle that will define not only the 21st century but centuries to come.
This struggle is real. A very close friend of mine, a college student, spent this summer in Guatemala to help small communities prosper in ways that support their local environments. Those villagers and their environments are under siege by international big business, using a captured U.S. government to push through damaging treaties such as the proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement and the hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas. The villagers of Guatemala want global fair trade, but the corporations and their captive governments want free trade. If fair trade wins, a global middle class will rise, as farmers and craftsmen are paid fairly for their work, and as they gain a voice in their governance and their environments are protected for their future generations. If free trade wins, it is colonial exploitation, torture and murder written in blood across another century.
The small runic-stone in Jelling shows the oldest words known from a Danish king. It is the first time in Denmark that the name of the country is used, but in Europe it has been known for at least 75 years. The geography-book of king Alfred the Great is the first place to mention the name Denmark. Alfred, who was king of Wessex 871-899, was a very culturally interested king, and he produced a geographical description of northern Europe mentioning "dene mearc" as the Danish area. The annals of Reginos written around the year 900 in the monastery of Prum near Cologne mentions "Denimarca" in the year 884, so the name was well known when Gorm around the year 950 put it on the monument for his queen Thyra.
The Kids Left Behind
He was going to be the education president, and during the campaign in 2000 he hugged kids from coast to coast, crowing about the education miracle in Texas and promising to spread the Texas model nationwide.
He said he was a different kind of Republican, a man of honor and compassion who would look out for the kids.
It was all smoke, of course — photo-ops in a cynical campaign. You knew it was smoke when the "compassionate" George W. Bush put Dick Cheney on the ticket, a former congressman who had voted against funding for Head Start, against subsidizing school lunches and against federal aid for college students.
In other words, against kids.
Dusk, San Marco
thanks to Iconomy
One of the things that distinguishes advanced democracies from banana republics is that winners and losers accept the results of elections. Losing candidates and parties don't initiate coups. Winners don't kill off the losers and their supporters. The winning party has an opportunity to govern. Both sides go back to their respective corners -- winners take office, losers take other jobs -- and wait until the next election to do battle again.
In recent years, however, U.S. politics has shifted somewhat away from this model toward more or less continuous battles. The first stage, which began several decades ago, was the "permanent campaign." Here, newly elected officials would almost immediately begin rounds of fund raising and media strategies designed to discourage potential rivals from entering the fray years hence. Potential rivals, for their parts, would begin almost at once to raise money and organize for the next election.
We are now, it seems, witnessing the next stage in our shift toward a banana republic form of government. Permanent campaigns are morphing into permanent elections. In the permanent election, rivals seek to reverse the decision of the majority of voters and unseat the victor as soon as they can. Unlike the permanent campaign, in which incumbents and rivals only act as if the next election were imminent, in the permanent election, the next election is in fact always imminent -- or at least an imminent possibility.
My journey to Afghanistan was in 1977, right before the coup and the Russian invasion. I was invited to go there to design a line of clothes, and quickly grabbed the opportunity for adventure.
I lived with a French woman in Kabul who was married to an Afghan business man, Mr. Sharaffi. She introduced me to the tailor who would be making the clothes I designed. We were invited to his house for lunch one afternoon and I had no idea what an incredible "visual feast" was waiting for me: when the large gates to the compound opened there were five absolutely beautiful women there to greet us, dressed in their most exquisite clothes. I was dazzled. They were the tailor's family members, from sisters to cousins, and the tailor's wife and children. Since we were special guests, they were dressed in their finest. The tailor was showing his skill and wealth by dressing the women and children in their (his) most elaborately-decorated and colorful garments. I asked permission to take photographs, which was kindly granted. I knew at the time that this was a unique and special opportunity, since one did not see women dressed this way in the street. It was not acceptable to take photographs of traditional women in public, which I respected and honored. Little did I know at the time what a rare event this was.
These beautiful images are from a now-distant past. Two decades of killing, torture, and suppression have destroyed what I once knew as a wonderful and generous culture. It is very possible that nothing and no one in these photographs remain today.
Mother Jones has a series on what a fine job our
Down Upon the Suwannee River
No Clear Skies
Behind the Curtain
The true nature of the Bush administration's environmental agenda can be seen in the basic numbers.
Tons of additional air pollutants permitted to be released by 2020 under Bush's "Clear Skies" plan:
Estimated number of premature deaths that will result:
Estimated amount that Clear Skies-related health problems will cost taxpayers, per year:
Whilst there is nothing remarkably original about the work of contemporary Italian painter Pierluigi Isola (1958-), I very much enjoy his coolly and quietly enigmatic still-life pieces.
North Korean officials said yesterday their country was prepared to test a nuclear weapon, dismaying their Chinese hosts and representatives of the other four nations hoping to persuade the rogue nation to abandon its nuclear programs, U.S. officials said.
In most people's minds, the word 'treasure' is linked with images of gold and silver worth huge amounts of money. But the BBC was surprised by some of the choices that the curators made; for the British Museum what makes a treasure valuable can not be measured in pounds or dollars, but in what it can tell us about our past. Curators selected not necessarily the most expensive 'treasures' found on British soil, but those whose discovery had made the most significant contribution to how we understand British history.
The Rillaton gold cup
Early Bronze Age, 1700-1500 BC
From Rillaton, Cornwall, England
An exceptional gold vessel with a royal history
thanks to plep
The International Atomic Energy Agency has decided to discuss Israeli nuclear capabilities in its next major conference.
Diplomatic sources said the IAEA has placed on the agenda of its General Conference and Regular Session the subject of "Israeli Nuclear Capabilities and Threats." The subject will be discussed at the conference in Vienna in September.
The sources said this is the first time in decades that the IAEA has placed Israel's nuclear programs on the agenda of its general conference.
thanks to Drudge Report
Israel has 200 to 400 nuclear weapons and they are just now getting around to talking about them?
thanks to Coudal Partners
Two more excellent posts from Baghdad Burning...
For me, April 9 was a blur of faces distorted with fear, horror and tears. All over Baghdad you could hear shelling, explosions, clashes, fighter planes, the dreaded Apaches and the horrifying tanks heaving down streets and highways. Whether you loved Saddam or hated him, Baghdad tore you to pieces. Baghdad was burning. Baghdad was exploding… Baghdad was falling. April 9 is the American Occupation Day. I can understand why Bush was celebrating- I can’t understand how anyone who values independence would celebrate it.
The nine-member rotating presidency is a failure at first sight. It’s also a failure at second, third, fourth… and ninth sight. The members of the rotating presidency, composed of 4 Shi’a Muslims, 2 Sunni Muslims and 2 Kurds, were selected on a basis of ethnicity and religion.
It is a way of further dividing the Iraqi population. It is adding confusion to chaos and disorder. Just the concept of an ethnically and religiously selected council to run the country is repulsive. Are people supposed to take sides according to their ethnicity or religion? How, nine months down the line, are they going to select one president… or will we always have 9 presidents to govern the country? Does every faction of the Iraqi population need a separate representative? If they do, then why weren’t the Christians represented? Why weren’t the Turkomen represented? Would two more members to add to the nine really have made that big a difference?
The nine dancing puppets- excuse me, rotating presidents- were exclusively selected from the “Governing Council”, an interim council chosen by the CPA. The first thing the 25-member Governing Council did to alienate itself from the people was the fatal decision to make April 9 the new Iraqi National Day. People were incredulous when Bahr Ul Iloom (one of the nine puppets), read out the announcement.
The most infuriating thing is hearing Bremer talk about how the members of the rotating presidency represent the Iraqi people. In reality, they represent the CPA and Bremer. They are America’s Puppets (some of them are Iran’s). They do not govern Iraq or Iraqis in any way- they are merely very highly paid translators: Bremer gives the orders and they translate them to an incredulous public. The majority of them were trained using American tax dollars, and now they are being ‘kept’ by the CPA using Iraqi oil money.
It’s a bad start to democracy, being occupied and having your government and potential leaders selected for you by the occupying powers… On the other hand, could we really expect more from a country whose president was ‘appointed’ by the Supreme Court?
U.S.-led occupation authorities have begun a covert campaign to recruit and train agents with the once-dreaded Iraqi intelligence service to help identify resistance to American forces here after months of increasingly sophisticated attacks and bombings, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
Yesterday I commented on the fact that the U.S. occupation government is recruiting agents of Saddam's old intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, to help it cope with the metastasizing threats of terrorism and guerrilla war in the New Iraq®.
I questioned whether the neoliberal war hawks -- Tom Friedman, David Ignatius and Josh Marshall being three of the most journalistically influential -- still have the stomach for our little nation-building exercise in the Middle East, now that it involves recreating the same police state apparatus that America supposedly came to Iraq to destroy.
I mean, it's hard to be "Wilsonian" when your hired Iraqi goons are connecting car batteries to the testicles of suspected terrorists. Or so it seems to me, anyway.
Even the optimists are losing heart as Iraq goes from bad to worse
As images of the bombed United Nations headquarters in Baghdad appeared on television last week, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had with a very senior national-security official (a political appointee with no military experience, not a career bureaucrat) prior to the invasion of Iraq. He earnestly told me that after Saddam Hussein's fall, Americans would be welcomed in Iraq, and not with a fleeting shower of goodwill but with a "deluge" of "rose water and flowers" that would last in perpetuity. Ahmad Chalabi and American advisers would set up shop to oversee a transition spearheaded by scores of returning Iraqi exiles, who would transform Iraq into a profitable, oil-pumping society. After all, the official said, this wasn't Afghanistan, where there were lots of religious and tribal differences among the local populations. We wouldn't need to stay long, and we certainly wouldn't need the United Nations -- which, as far as this official and his compatriots were concerned, could go screw itself. The United States could handle it all. Within a year, he said, Iraq would be a beacon of democracy and stability in the Middle East.
These sentiments weren't anything new, of course; I'd heard -- and continue to hear -- the same refrain sung by the neoconservative wing of Washington's brilliant-but-wrong choir. I therefore sighed as I anticipated the response to the query-as-rejoinder about to pass my lips. "So what do you think of the Army War College report?" I asked. The document I referred to was titled Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario, and it had been released in draft form the previous October, with a much more detailed version appearing in February 2003. That report said that the administration hadn't planned adequately for a post-Hussein Iraq; it also very presciently rendered the likely results of such poor planning and gave well-considered suggestions for how to either properly shepherd Iraq to stability or, if too late for that, what not to do to make a bad situation worse. The last line of the document's penultimate section wasn't exactly encouraging: "Without an overwhelming effort to prepare for occupation," it said, "the US may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making."
Here is the Reconstructing Iraq report. It's interesting reading.
In October 2002, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, in coordination with the Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff/G-3, initiated a study to analyze how American and coalition forces can best address the requirements that will necessarily follow operational victory in a war with Iraq. The objectives of the project were to determine and analyze probable missions for military forces in a post-Saddam Iraq; examine associated challenges; and formulate strategic recommendations for transferring responsibilities to coalition partners or civilian organizations, mitigating local animosity, and facilitating overall mission accomplishment in the war against terrorism. The study has much to offer planners and executors of operations to occupy and reconstruct Iraq, but also has many insights that will apply to achieving strategic objectives in any conflict after hostilities are concluded. The current war against terrorism has highlighted the danger posed by failed and struggling states. If this nation and its coalition partners decide to undertake the mission to remove Saddam Hussein, they will also have to be prepared to dedicate considerable time, manpower, and money to the effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fighting is over. Otherwise, the success of military operations will be ephemeral, and the problems they were designed to eliminate could return or be replaced by new and more virulent difficulties.
Gloria Baker Feinstein
thanks to wood s lot
Now It’s Your Turn
MEMORANDUM FOR: Colleagues in Intelligence
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: Now It’s Your Turn
But Isn’t It Too Late?
No. While it is too late to prevent the misadventure in Iraq, the war is hardly over, and analogous “evidence” is being assembled against Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Yes, US forces will have their hands full for a long time in Iraq, but this hardly rules out further adventures based on “intelligence” as spurious as that used to argue the case for attacking Iraq.
The best deterrent is the truth. Telling the truth about the abuse of intelligence on Iraq could conceivably give pause to those about to do a reprise. It is, in any case, essential that the American people acquire a more accurate understanding of the use and abuse of intelligence. Only then can there be any hope that they can experience enough healing from the trauma of 9/11 to be able to make informed judgments regarding the policies pursued by this administration—thus far with the timid acquiescence of their elected representatives.
History is littered with the guilty consciences of those who chose to remain silent. It is time to speak out.
Daily, over-the-top, political cartoons. No apologies.
thanks to CalPundit
Political Strikes has this old one which is worth looking at again.
Israel vows to assassinate militia leaders
The name of the latest Israeli army operation, Fine Tuning 1, is laden with layers of meaning. In its most literal sense the 'fine tuning' refers to the assassination of militia leaders, whom the Israelis this weekend said they will now systematically kill where and when they find them unless Palestinian security forces can arrest them first.
It is a line too from a mawkish Hebrew song, but above all it is a pun on the sound-alike Hebrew for 'targeted missile'. What it really means was writ in the blood and metal of the Apache helicopter attack in Gaza last week that ripped apart the car and bodies of Hamas political leader Ismail Abu Shanab and two bodyguards. It was a response to the suicide bombing on a bus full of Jews returning from prayers at the Wailing Wall that killed 20, six of them children.
A Drug for the Addict
It was a putsch. Like any classic putsch, it was carried out by a group of officers: Sharon, Mofaz, Ya'alon and the army top brass.
It is no secret that the military party (the only really functioning party in Israel) objected to the hudna (truce) from the first moment, much as it opposed the Road Map. Its powerful propaganda apparatus, which includes all the Israeli media, spread the message: "The hudna is a disaster! Every day of the hudna is a bad day! The reduction of violence to almost zero is a great misfortune: under cover of the truce, the terrorist organizations are recovering and rearming! Every terrorist strike avoided today will hit us much harder tomorrow!"
The army command was like an addict deprived of his drug. It was forbidden to carry out the action it wanted. It was just about to crush the intifada, victory was just around the corner, all that was needed was just one final decisive blow, and that would have been that.
The military was upset when it saw the new hope that took hold of the Israeli public, the bullish mood of the stock exchange, the rise in value of the shekel, the return of the masses to the entertainment centers, the signs of optimism on both sides. In effect, It was a spontaneous popular vote against the military policy.
Ariel Sharon realized that if this went on, reality would overturn his long-term plans. Therefore, right at the beginning of the hudna, he adopted three immediate goals:
First, to topple Abu-Mazen as soon as possible. Mahmud Abbas had become the darling of George Bush, a welcome guest at the White House. The unique standing of Sharon in Washington was in danger. The pair Bush-Sharon, which was mutating into a single Busharon unit, was in danger of becoming a triangle: Bush-Sharon-Abbas. There is no greater danger to Sharon's plans.
Second, to wipe out the Road Map in its infancy. The Map obliged Sharon to remove immediately about 80 settlement outposts, freeze all settlements, stop the building of the wall and withdraw the army from all West Bank towns. Sharon never dreamt of fulfilling even one of these obligations.
Third, to put an end to the hudna and give the army back its freedom of action in all the Palestinian territories.
The question was how this could be achieved without a trace of suspicion attaching itself to Sharon. The great majority of Israelis, who had greeted the hudna, could not possibly be allowed to suspect that their own leaders were responsible for extinguishing this glimmer of hope. Even more important, it was imperative that no such pernicious idea should enter the innocent head of the good George W. All the blame must fall on the Palestinians, so that the affection for Abu-Mazen would turn into contempt and hatred.
I don't often publicly respond to a letter I receive. But I thought this exchange might be of broader interest, particularly since it involved one of the more popular pieces I have written.
A Jew among 25,000 Muslims
She makes an incongruous figure, waiting in front of the central mosque in the northern Israeli town of Tamra. There is no danger I will miss her. She has short blonde hair, in contrast to the rest of the women who cover their dark hair with scarves, and is wearing a loose-fitting floral kaftan, better suited to the streets of Wimbledon, her former home, than here in the Middle East.
The difference runs much deeper than mere looks: Susan Nathan is the only Jew among 25,000 Muslims in Tamra, one of the country's dozens of Arab communities whose council is run by Islamic fundamentalists. She is one of only two Israeli Jews known to have crossed the ethnic divide: the other is the controversial academic Uri Davis, who lives in nearby Sakhnin.
Largest demolition in years: Israel destroys entire commercial market in one day
Marking the single largest demolition of buildings in years, the entire commercial area of Nazlat 'Isa was today raised to the ground as some 15 bulldozers, accompanied by large numbers of military and border police, entered the community at 5:00 AM and destroyed over 100 shops and 5 homes. The market, which was previously targeted in January of this year with the destruction of 82 or close to one half of its shops, has been the commercial center for the entire region.
The bulldozers began the demolitions early in the morning and continued unabated until the late hours of the night.
The commercial area, just east of the Green Line in the Occupied West Bank, has been leveled for the building of an "isolation barrier"--an extension or offshoot of the Wall--that will entrap the community and the surrounding areas between it and the Wall to ensure complete isolation. Commercial areas along the Green Line have been consistently targeted with the building of the Wall in what assures that communities trapped between the Wall and the Green Line (the Wall in this case is located 2 km inside the West Bank) will have no infrastructure for survival.
thanks to Cursor
It was Ammon Hennacy who took over my life, told me that I really loved the country, that I couldn't stand the government, taught me why I needed to be a pacifist and taught me why I needed to be an anarchist, and taught me what those things really mean.
Ammon came up to me one day, and said, "You have a lot of anger in you, and you act out, you mouth off, and you wind up getting in fights, into brawls, here in the house, and you're not any good at it. You're the one who keeps getting pushed through the door, and I'm tired of fixing the damn thing. You've got to become a pacifist." And I asked, "What is it?" He said, "Well, I could give you a book by Gandhi, but you wouldn't understand it." He said you got to look at it like alcohol. Alcohol will kill an alcoholic, unless he has the courage to sit in a circle of people like that, and say, "My name's Utah and I am an alcoholic." Then you can accept it, you can own it, have it defined for you by people whose lives have been ruined by it, and it's never going to go away. You're not going to sit in that circle sober for twenty years and have it not affect you. He said, "You have to look at your capacity for violence the same way. You are going to have to learn to confess it, and learn how to deal with it in every situation every day, for the rest of your life, because it is not going to go away." And I was able to lay all of that down.
I didn't know what exhausted me emotionally until that moment, and I realized that the experience of being a soldier, with unlimited license for excess, excessive violence, excessive sex, was a blueprint for self-destruction. Because then I began to wake up to the idea that manhood, as passed onto me by my father, my scoutmaster, my gym instructor, my army sergeant, that vision of manhood was a blueprint for self-destruction and a lie, and that was a burden that I was no longer able to carry. It was too difficult for me to be that hard. I said, "OK, Ammon, I will try that." He said, "You came into the world armed to the teeth. With an arsenal of weapons, weapons of privilege, economic privilege, sexual privilege, racial privilege. You want to be a pacifist, you're not just going to have to give up guns, knives, clubs, hard, angry words, you are going to have lay down the weapons of privilege and go into the world completely disarmed."
He died in 1970 and is still a headache. If there is one struggle that animates my life and why I do what I do, it's that. I am still at it. That is what pacifism means to me.
thanks to wood s lot
For two and half years I worked as a master printer at a photography lab in Chicago that specialized in meeting the evidential and illustrative needs of lawyers and insurance agencies - which is a fancy way of saying pictures of dead people. Eight hours a day, five days a week (plus overtime) I custom printed, one by one, 60,000 unique negatives, both color and black and white, from snapshot to poster size murals, documenting in detail the unfortunate and tragic occurrences of contemporary life. I learned three things: never get in a car, stay away from trains, and never lean against anything. Cars crash, trains are called rolling stock because they don't stop, and every single railing, balustrade and fence will eventually give way with grim results. It's probably also a good idea to avoid working in a factory.
Animated models for you to make.
A unique range of animated models for you to cut out and make. From Skiing Sheep to Ruminating Cows and of course the Flying Pig; all the models come complete with clear, fully illustrated instructions, just cut out and glue together!
In a report due out today that is likely to trigger a showdown about sanctions, the UN's nuclear watchdog has demanded that Iran urgently explain evidence that it may have secretly enriched uranium.
The report, delivered to IAEA member states yesterday and expected to be made public today, is likely to be taken by Washington as backing its argument that Iran should be declared in violation of its non-proliferation obligations and subjected to sanctions.
Despite lobbying by the EU and Russia, Iran has refused to sign the additional protocol to the non-proliferation treaty. Drawn up after the 1991 Gulf war, the protocol would require it to allow short-notice inspections of declared and undeclared sites.
Tehran's representative to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, said his country would consider signing the additional protocol if concerns about "sovereignty" were clarified.
Citing Iraq's experience, Iran's conservative clerical leadership has expressed concern that the US could use the short-notice inspections to carry out espionage.
I wonder why the UN isn't concerned with another secret nuclear program — the Israeli's. You know, the one that has built 200 to 400 nuclear weapons that can be delivered to any location on this planet. Maybe because the US told the UN not to be concerned?
the last explorer
The end of adventure
I remember sitting beside my father in the twilight above a gorge, hoping he would get a shot at a leopard; I remember looking for bloodstains and cartridge cases near a small bridge where there had been a fight; listening to my father as he read to me of big game hunting and ox wagons and Zulus, from Jock of the Bushveld, as the sun went down behind Wochercher; watching in shocked disbelief the lance head come out through the shoulder of our favourite sowar when he had an accident getting on his horse, his grey face and closed eyes as I sat miserably beside him after my brother Brian had galloped off for help. He had dismounted to show us a bird's nest. I can see again the white-robed priests dancing in line before the Ark of the Covenant to the beat of silver drums, surrounded by other priests in richly-coloured robes, holding silver crosses in their hands.
Above all I can remember some of the events during the rebellion of 1916 when Lij Yasu was deposed: watching the armies going forth to fight, a seemingly chaotic flood of warriors, mounted and on foot; jostling women driving mules inexorably northward; overhearing the news that Ras Lul Seged's army had been wiped out and that Negus Michael, Lij Yasul's father and king of the north, was advancing on Addis Ababa; seeing Ras Tafari, later to become Haile Selassie, walk up the legation steps when he brought his infant son to my father for safekeeping, before he went north to give final battle; hearing the mass rifle-fire in the town, celebrating the news of overwhelming victory.
Meeting Thesiger in Piccadilly and the Hindu Kush
Wild at heart
Ann Coulter Spontaneously Combusts
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter spontaneously combusted today during an appearance on the Fox News Channel, sources at the cable network confirmed.
ACCORDING TO THOSE who witnessed the bizarre incident, Coulter was in the middle of an extended rant about liberal comedian Al Franken when her face became beet-red and smoke began to shoot out of both of her ears.
Then, almost without warning, Ms. Coulter appeared to burst into flames, sources said. The New York Fire Department immediately rushed to the scene to extinguish Coulter, who continued to talk even while fully ablaze. “We were dousing her with three fire hoses, but she just kept on yapping,” said Hal Reuss, a fireman who helped put out Ms. Coulter. “It was freaky.”
thanks to Eschaton
The archives for David Hoffman's TestingTesting show of 8-25-3 are up. It was an evening of old songs and new songs. All of them good songs.
David Hoffman, Derek Parrott, Lisa Toomey, and my living room.
It's Monday and time for another TestingTesting. TestingTesting is a webcast, form my living room, of live music. Tonight's special guest is David Hoffman. David is a singer/songwriter. This will be his third time on TestingTesting. In addition to singing his own songs, we usually get him to sing one of the songs he sings during his day job. David sings at schools and pre-schools during the day. We love hearing a few of those songs, too. Derek and Lisa will be the TT House Band and Barton will be here with his Commentary from the Wires. The show starts at 7pm (pacific). Click on in for an evening of living room music.
thanks to Speckled Paint
Another post from Riverbend at Baghdad Burning. A Pandora's box has been opened and our fearful leaders have absolutely no clue what they have unleashed. I fear for Riverbend and Iraq.
I loved my job- I was *good* at my job. I came and went to work on my own. At 8 am I’d walk in lugging a backpack filled with enough CDs, floppies, notebooks, chewed-on pens, paperclips and screwdrivers to make Bill Gates proud. I made as much money as my two male colleagues and got an equal amount of respect from the manager (that was because he was clueless when it came to any type of programming and anyone who could do it was worthy of respect… a girl, no less- you get the picture).
What I’m trying to say is that no matter *what* anyone heard, females in Iraq were a lot better off than females in other parts of the Arab world (and some parts of the Western world- we had equal salaries!). We made up over 50% of the working force. We were doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, professors, deans, architects, programmers, and more. We came and went as we pleased. We wore what we wanted (within the boundaries of the social restrictions of a conservative society).
During the first week of June, I heard my company was back in business. It took several hours, seemingly thousands of family meetings, but I finally convinced everyone that it was necessary for my sanity to go back to work. They agreed that I would visit the company (with my two male bodyguards) and ask them if they had any work I could possibly take home and submit later on, or through the internet.
The moment I walked through the door, I noticed it. Everything looked shabbier somehow- sadder. The maroon carpet lining the hallways was dingy, scuffed and spoke of the burden of a thousand rushing feet. The windows we had so diligently taped prior to the war were cracked in some places and broken in others… dirty all over. The lights were shattered, desks overturned, doors kicked in, and clocks torn from the walls.
I stood a moment, hesitantly, in the door. There were strange new faces- fewer of the old ones. Everyone was standing around, looking at everyone else. The faces were sad and lethargic and exhausted. And I was one of the only females. I weaved through the strange mess and made my way upstairs, pausing for a moment on the second floor where management was located, to listen to the rising male voices. The director had died of a stroke during the second week of the war and suddenly, we had our own little ‘power vacuum’. At least 20 different men thought they were qualified to be boss. Some thought they qualified because of experience, some because of rank and some because they were being backed by differing political parties (SCIRI, Al-Daawa, INC).
I continued upstairs, chilled to the bone, in spite of the muggy heat of the building which hadn’t seen electricity for at least 2 months. My little room wasn’t much better off than the rest of the building. The desks were gone, papers all over the place… but A. was there! I couldn’t believe it- a familiar, welcoming face. He looked at me for a moment, without really seeing me, then his eyes opened wide and disbelief took over the initial vague expression. He congratulated me on being alive, asked about my family and told me that he wasn’t coming back after today. Things had changed. I should go home and stay safe. He was quitting- going to find work abroad. Nothing to do here anymore. I told him about my plan to work at home and submit projects… he shook his head sadly.
I stood staring at the mess for a few moments longer, trying to sort out the mess in my head, my heart being torn to pieces. My cousin and E. were downstairs waiting for me- there was nothing more to do, except ask how I could maybe help? A. and I left the room and started making our way downstairs. We paused on the second floor and stopped to talk to one of the former department directors. I asked him when they thought things would be functioning, he wouldn’t look at me. His eyes stayed glued to A.’s face as he told him that females weren’t welcome right now- especially females who ‘couldn’t be protected’. He finally turned to me and told me, in so many words, to go home because ‘they’ refused to be responsible for what might happen to me.
Ok. Fine. Your loss. I turned my back, walked down the stairs and went to find E. and my cousin. Suddenly, the faces didn’t look strange- they were the same faces of before, mostly, but there was a hostility I couldn’t believe. What was I doing here? E. and the cousin were looking grim, I must have been looking broken, because they rushed me out of the first place I had ever worked and to the car. I cried bitterly all the way home- cried for my job, cried for my future and cried for the torn streets, damaged buildings and crumbling people.
I’m one of the lucky ones… I’m not important. I’m not vital. Over a month ago, a prominent electrical engineer (one of the smartest females in the country) named Henna Aziz was assassinated in front of her family- two daughters and her husband. She was threatened by some fundamentalists from Badir’s Army and told to stay at home because she was a woman, she shouldn’t be in charge. She refused- the country needed her expertise to get things functioning- she was brilliant. She would not and could not stay at home. They came to her house one evening: men with machine-guns, broke in and opened fire. She lost her life- she wasn’t the first, she won’t be the last.
The Russian Utopia is represented by a compact depository of 480 architectural projects from the last 300 years of the Russian history that have never been carried out. They constitute but a fraction of the pool of ideas with a claim on the architectural reorganization of engsia - a collective Russian dream.
Architectural Composition N 92
thanks to Speckled Paint
After the formal meeting, senior agents in the room faced a grilling by Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow whose cohorts are three other widowed moms from New Jersey.
"I don’t understand, with all the warnings about the possibilities of Al Qaeda using planes as weapons, and the Phoenix Memo from one of your own agents warning that Osama bin Laden was sending operatives to this country for flight-school training, why didn’t you check out flight schools before Sept. 11?"
"Do you know how many flight schools there are in the U.S.? Thousands," a senior agent protested. "We couldn’t have investigated them all and found these few guys."
"Wait, you just told me there were too many flight schools and that prohibited you from investigating them before 9/11," Kristen persisted. "How is it that a few hours after the attacks, the nation is brought to its knees, and miraculously F.B.I. agents showed up at Embry-Riddle flight school in Florida where some of the terrorists trained?"
"We got lucky," was the reply.
Kristen then asked the agent how the F.B.I. had known exactly which A.T.M. in Portland, Me., would yield a videotape of Mohammed Atta, the leader of the attacks. The agent got some facts confused, then changed his story. When Kristen wouldn’t be pacified by evasive answers, the senior agent parried, "What are you getting at?"
"I think you had open investigations before Sept. 11 on some of the people responsible for the terrorist attacks," she said.
"We did not," the agent said unequivocally.
A month later, on the morning of July 24, before the scathing Congressional report on intelligence failures was released, Kristen and the three other moms from New Jersey with whom she’d been in league sat impassively at a briefing by staff director Eleanor Hill: In fact, they learned, the F.B.I. had open investigations on 14 individuals who had contact with the hijackers while they were in the United States. The flush of pride in their own research passed quickly. This was just another confirmation that the federal government continued to obscure the facts about its handling of suspected terrorists leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.
So afraid is the Bush administration of what could be revealed by inquiries into its failures to protect Americans from terrorist attack, it is unabashedly using Kremlin tactics to muzzle members of Congress and thwart the current federal commission investigating the failures of Sept. 11. But there is at least one force that the administration cannot scare off or shut up. They call themselves "Just Four Moms from New Jersey," or simply "the girls."
Kristen and the three other housewives who also lost their husbands in the attack on the World Trade Center started out knowing virtually nothing about how their government worked. For the last 20 months they have clipped and Googled, rallied and lobbied, charmed and intimidated top officials all the way to the White House. In the process, they have made themselves arguably the most effective force in dancing around the obstacle course by which the administration continues to block a transparent investigation of what went wrong with the country’s defenses on Sept. 11 and what we should be doing about it. They have no political clout, no money, no powerful husbands—no husbands at all since Sept. 11—and they are up against a White House, an Attorney General, a Defense Secretary, a National Security Advisor and an F.B.I. director who have worked out an ingenious bait-and-switch game to thwart their efforts and those of any investigative body.
thanks to Cursor
first day of school
Jeneane Sessum started this. Her daughter just began kindergarten.
So the children seem great, the teacher seems great, the room is nice and cool and clean, the learning tools are top-notch, and I am breathing an unbelievable sigh of relief--until Monday. Monday our baby girl takes the first step out of this front door into the real world.
It's a tiny step for her, and a big one at the same time. For me it's a step I will never take again in this lifetime, an ending as much as a beginning, and it's as heavy as it gets. Truly.
Wish me a good cry and a strong coffee.
This reminded me of another kid's first day of school. It took me two weeks to find this picture. I was unpacking boxes today that I hadn't unpacked in four moves when I found it.
That's me. It's late summer 1949 and I'm about to walk to my first day of kindergarten. The picture is taken in Longmeadow, Massachusets. My mom was 29 years old and was about to send her first born off to his first day of school. I remember this.
I turn 59 today and it's really weird to look at a picture of me, looking back at me, that is at the other end of my life. I don't plan of leaving this existence any time soon, but the bulk of my life does lie between that boy and and me. What a long strange trip it's been.
The school building was a block and a half away. My mom walked with me to school the first two or three days and then followed me, out of sight, for the next week or two, until she was confident that I wouldn't get lost. Then I was on my own.
Baghdad Burning is becoming essential reading. This entry is a must read. After reading this, read all her other entries.
Females can no longer leave their homes alone. Each time I go out, E. and either a father, uncle or cousin has to accompany me. It feels like we’ve gone back 50 years ever since the beginning of the occupation. A woman, or girl, out alone, risks anything from insults to abduction. An outing has to be arranged at least an hour beforehand. I state that I need to buy something or have to visit someone. Two males have to be procured (preferably large) and 'safety arrangements' must be made in this total state of lawlessness. And always the question: "But do you have to go out and buy it? Can't I get it for you?" No you can't, because the kilo of eggplant I absolutely have to select with my own hands is just an excuse to see the light of day and walk down a street. The situation is incredibly frustrating to females who work or go to college. z
Before the war, around 50% of the college students were females, and over 50% of the working force was composed of women. Not so anymore. We are seeing an increase of fundamentalism in Iraq which is terrifying.
For example, before the war, I would estimate (roughly) that about 55% of females in Baghdad wore a hijab- or headscarf. Hijabs do not signify fundamentalism. That is far from the case- although I, myself, don’t wear one, I have family and friends who do. The point is that, before, it didn’t really matter. It was *my* business whether I wore one or not- not the business of some fundamentalist on the street.