thanks to William Valdez
Sometimes, when you catch a glimpse of yourself through the eyes of friends, the perspective is sobering.
Earlier this week, I sat down to talk with more than 20 young men and women from nations ranging from China and Nigeria to Colombia and Egypt. They work in U.S. embassies in their native countries and are traveling the United States to learn something about their new employer. For about an hour, they pelted me with questions about the American media, the American public and, most of all, American attitudes toward the rest of the world.
I can't say how much they learned from my answers; I do know that I learned an awful lot from their questions. While they seemed to have a strong attraction to this country, or at least to the idealism and hope that America offers, it was undercut by a deep frustration approaching anger.
One question in particular struck home. I wasn't taking notes, but I'll try to paraphrase it:
"We watch the American government be friends with this dictator over here and support him, because he will give you the oil or minerals or something that you want," one person stood up to say. "But then with this other dictator over there, who is not so friendly and cooperative, you will start talking about democracy just so you can get rid of him. This is so hypocritical, to use democracy this way, like a weapon. Do Americans think that the world does not understand what it is you are doing?"
thanks to Eschaton
The lovable duo pause briefly from their everlasting pursuit of cheese to create the perfect way to deal with Christmas cards. Watch this special FREE episode from the wildly successful Wallace & Gromit's Cracking Contraptions!
Anyone examining contemporary security issues in Central Asia and the Caucasus quickly comes to the conclusion that security has become increasingly militarized. This growth of military power, influence and ambition is taking place in many ways, but a key theme is the scramble by major foreign powers for military bases in the strategically vital region.
The search for bases preceded the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, but since then the rush for foreign bases has accelerated. Indeed, it has become a focal point of the many international rivalries that now dot these areas. And it appears likely to divide the region into rival proxies for the major military powers.
Given the enormous potential for conflict inherent throughout the former Soviet Union, this can only be a dangerous trend. While the forces at these bases may or may not perform combat operations, they are visible tokens of the foreign state's influence, and equally important, support for the host regime. Foreign states seek bases to project their influence as well as military power, and weak host states want them to increase domestic support against challengers and to obtain tangible protection from powerful patrons.
Christmas has a long history, though the way we celebrate it today has changed significantly over the years. December 25th was recognized as the official day to observe Christmas because it was around the time of winter solstice, not because the day had any known religious significance. During the winter solstice, the return of the sun was celebrated, and indulgence in food and drink were tradition. Many traditions we associate with Christmas, including the Christmas tree, candles, and mistletoe, all have roots in these pagan celebrations.
thanks to life in the present
iraq — vietnam on internet time
I'ts good to see that things are going so much better now that we have captured Saddam.
Insurgents or Protesters?
While Washington and London were still congratulating themselves on the capture of Saddam Hussein, US troops have shot dead at least 18 Iraqis in the streets of three major cities in the country.
Dramatic videotape from the city of Ramadi 75 miles west of Baghdad showed unarmed supporters of Saddam Hussein being gunned down in semi-darkness as they fled from Americans troops. Eleven of the 18 dead were killed by the Americans in Samarra to the north of Baghdad.
The Americans were yesterday trying to smother news of the deaths with further statements about the capture of Saddam. After journalists were taken in circumstances of great secrecy to Baghdad airport for "a story you won't be sorry to cover", General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted it would take "some time" before there were any military effects of Saddam's arrest. "When you take this leader, who is (sic) at one time a very popular leader in this region, and you find him in a hole in the ground, that's a pretty powerful statement that you're on the wrong team."
This kind of statement, however, could not obscure the continuing decline in security. In Mosul, for example, a policeman working for the American-organised local Iraqi security forces was killed and another wounded during a pro-Saddam demonstration. Further south, near Saddam's home town of Tikrit, a roadside bomb wounded three American soldiers, two of them seriously. Occupation security documents - which were not publicly released - show there have been 30 attacks on US forces around Baghdad alone in the past 24 hours.
A disturbing new phenomenon in this environment of growing military violence has been the appearance of hooded and masked gunmen - working for the Americans - on road checkpoints north of Baghdad. Five of them now check cars on the Tigris river bridge outside Samarra, apparently fearing their identities will be discovered if their faces are not concealed. They wear militia uniforms and, although they say they are part of the new American-backed "Iraqi Civil Defence Corps", they have neither badges of rank nor unit markings. The same hooded men are now appearing on the streets of Baghdad.
Just a personal note. I lived in Beirut during the early years of the civil war there in the mid to late 1970s. When I see correspondents reporting from downtown Baghdad, and hear the repeated gunfire and bombings in the background, I cannot help flash on Beirut then. Apparently Baghdad closes up at 9 pm every night, and people are desperately afraid for their security. It isn't even clear whom the gunmen are fighting. These obvious signs of near-anarchy are visible whenever Wolf Blitzer or some other anchor talks to an American in Baghdad nowadays. It is incredible to me that anyone is optimistic, given this obvious lack of security in the country's capital, which is occupied by thousands of American troops! I mean, this really is an 'emperor has no clothes' scenario, but Wolf and others seem too polite to just say so.
THE RAT TRAP
The Christmas blockbuster from the Pentagon studios was a dream. This was the new Roman Empire at its peak - better than Ridleys Scott's Gladiator: a real, captive barbarian emperor, paraded on the Circus Maximus of world television. The barbarian was not a valiant warrior - but a bum. He was not hiding in a nuclear-proof bunker armed to his teeth - he was caught like "a rat" in a "spider hole". He was nothing but a pathetic ghost taking a medical for the world to see. What the bluish pictures did not show, though, is that former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset Saddam Hussein is a reader of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. An Arabic copy of Crime and Punishment was found in a shack near the "spider hole" where he was captured.
Saddam surely now know very well what he needs to do. He won't be consumed with remorse like Dostoevsky's character Raskolnikov, who committed murder. For the moment Saddam may be "taking the Fifth" - in the words of an American interrogator, referring the the fifth amendment of the US constitution under which a person has the right to remain silent until charged in court. But Saddam will wait until he gets some rest, a very good lawyer, and then he will start talking.
THE RAT TRAP
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset Saddam Hussein is - already was - totally beside the point. Only in the past few months have we learned the extent to which the Saddam system sub-contracted a great deal of decision-making to different Iraqi elite - from tribal sheikhs to businessmen and Sunni and Wahhabi religious leaders. They may originally have been cajoled by Saddam with carrots and sticks to be incorporated into the Ba'athist regime. But now they are totally free to command their own agendas.
To top it all, they really have a common agenda for the first time in their lives: a war against American occupation. The resistance will persist because Saddam was never its political, religious, spiritual or moral guide. The mukawama - resistance against foreign occupation - is now a full-blown nationalist, religious movement. The most popular political party on the sprawling campus of Baghdad University is not the widely-despised Ahmad Chalabi's neo-conservative-backed Iraqi National Congress. It is the Iraq Islamist Party.
All the shades are drawn in Raba's house on a wide residential street in one of Baghdad's more affluent neighborhoods. Small daughters and nieces streak through a well-appointed living room, leaving giggles and shrieks in their wake, as their young mothers and aunts sip Pepsi from cans and make wry comments in the darkened space. None of these women leave this home, even so many months after the war came to its so-called end. And Raba, a usually spunky twentysomething, is afraid even to stand in her own doorway. "Before the war we were out until 2 o'clock in the morning all the time," she says. "Now I don't even bother to put on my shoes."
thanks to BookNotes
The infrastructure of terror
The importance of Meshal's statements is that they provide a rather clear picture of the infrastructure of Palestinian suicide terror. It is built more on the existence of numerous volunteers, surrounded by a supportive community, and less on commands and the technicians who prepare the explosives. In other words, the pressure to carry out attacks comes mostly from below, from the suicide volunteers, and less from above, from the leadership making decisions at their meetings.
Therefore, defense against these actions must not focus on the construction of fences and barriers, raids, arrests, targeted killings, and punishments like the destruction of houses, which sometimes bloat terror, rather than reducing it.
Sharon's perception of time
Disturbingly, there's at least one indication that Ariel Sharon really thinks time is on his side: The prime minister clings to his belief that "a million Jews" will immigrate to Israel, and defuse the demographic threat to the Jewish state. Nary a meeting with wealthy, visiting Jews goes by without Sharon preaching to his guests about immigrating to Israel.
The troubling thing is that when a leader believes time is on his side, he has no reason to try to change reality. Yitzhak Shamir, who was sure the passage of time would strengthen the vision of Greater Israel, formulated the doctrine this way: "In the end, the Arabs will get used to the situation."
That doctrine brought about the first intifada, the struggle against the Oslo process (before the first terror attack), and various ploys to evade negotiations for a final status agreement. The camp that believes "time is on our side" accuses the left of succumbing to a "now-ism" that erodes Israel's bargaining ability. Let's give them another year or two (say those who believe that time is on our side), and ignore doomsayers, such as the former head of the Shin Bet security service, and the Israel Defense Forces will win the contest. Let's get rid of a heretic like Yossi Beilin, and the Palestinians will rid themselves of Yasser Arafat. Remove a defeatist like former IDF chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, and Arafat will be replaced by a leadership that will happily lap up the fenced-off Bantustan that Sharon will so generously offer.
This Thursday, all eyes will be on Ariel Sharon as he addresses the annual Herzliya Conference on Israeli strength and security, waiting for the prime minister to lift the mantle of secrecy from a plan that he may or may not have decisively formulated for the future of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Whether Sharon drops a political Daisy Cutter or merely buzzes his listeners, fueling further speculation, may in the long run be altogether irrelevant. He may have already made his most crucial utterances, in meticulously abstract statements he has already, and with precision, let slip.
The man who spent his political life settling the West Bank has, in a matter of four words, unsettled the Israeli right, effectively driving a wedge between largely religious settlers and largely secular senior hawks.
The words, as incendiary as they were vague, were embodied in Sharon's recent hints that in the absence of a workable peace process, he was considering taking "unilateral steps," including "moving settlements."
As feared, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech on Thursday, December 18 at the Herzliya Conference provided very little hope for 2004. Sharon acknowledged there will be a Palestinian state, thereby recognizing Israel cannot control all the land between the river and the sea, but said nothing about the size of the Palestinian state. He offered no tangible vision for the Palestinians to latch on to which suggested that after decades this man is now addressing Palestinian concerns seriously.
The Israeli prime minister moved because he is rapidly being cast as intransigent and because even the Likud is beginning to recognize that at some point in the very near future it will have to decide between democracy and apartheid. Pushed back on his heels, Sharon tried to gain the upper hand by speaking the language Washington has come to know well in the last year -- that of unilateral action.
Very dangerous times are ahead. Sharon said he would wait just a "few months" before taking unilateral action. Without an unexpected negotiating breakthrough, this would mean his taking action at a time when the United States was distracted by the 2004 election season. There is virtually no chance that Mr. Bush would take significant time from campaigning to tell Sharon he will not tolerate his running roughshod over the Palestinians and what was to be their state.
Sharon, then, is on his way to implementing a great portion of what he wants for Israel. As for Palestinians, a bantustan awaits.
spices and spice art
Spice The very word conjures up visions of exotic tastes and places and well it should. For spices were exotic, especially for Western Europeans. They were sought in far-flung parts of the world for their culinary and in many instances for their medicinal value. Our love affair with spices continues. Today we have the spices of the world at our fingertips and we use them to create the dishes of many cultures. We also continue to be interested in their medicinal value, unproven at times by western medicine, but the cachet of the ages remains. The exhibit explores the many facets of spices.
Common Name ALLSPICE (PIMENTO)
jobs and the american dream
The Death of Horatio Alger
The other day I found myself reading a leftist rag that made outrageous claims about America. It said that we are becoming a society in which the poor tend to stay poor, no matter how hard they work; in which sons are much more likely to inherit the socioeconomic status of their father than they were a generation ago.
The name of the leftist rag? Business Week, which published an article titled "Waking Up From the American Dream." The article summarizes recent research showing that social mobility in the United States (which was never as high as legend had it) has declined considerably over the past few decades. If you put that research together with other research that shows a drastic increase in income and wealth inequality, you reach an uncomfortable conclusion: America looks more and more like a class-ridden society.
And guess what? Our political leaders are doing everything they can to fortify class inequality, while denouncing anyone who complains--or even points out what is happening--as a practitioner of "class warfare."
thanks to CalPundit
Good thing the economy is rebounding, because it will have to absorb another 5,000 good jobs exported to India and China. The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription only):
In one of the largest moves to "offshore" highly paid U.S. software jobs, International Business Machines Corp. has told its managers to plan on moving the work of as many as 4,730 programmers to India, China and elsewhere.
The unannounced plan, outlined in company documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal, would replace thousands of workers at IBM facilities in Southbury, Conn., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Raleigh, N.C., Dallas, Boulder, Colo., and elsewhere in the U.S. Already, the managers have been told, IBM has hired 500 engineers in India to take on some of the work that will be moved.
Bob Hope and American Variety
From the early 1880s to the end of the 1920s vaudeville was the most popular form of live entertainment in the United States. A vaudeville show was a succession of seven to ten live stage acts, the "bill," which built to a climax with the performance of its top star, the "headliner." A vaudeville bill always included comedians and musicians, but might have included dancers, acrobats, trained animals, magicians, and novelty performers as well. Its form and content had been shaped by a wide range of 19th century diversions, including minstrel shows, the circus, medicine shows, traveling repertoire companies, curio museums, wild west shows, chautauquas, and British Music Hall.
Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906
thanks to The Cartoonist
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest operator of prisons for profit, is celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout this year "at both the company's corporate Nashville office and at all of the more than 60 prisons, jails and detention centers under CCA ownership and/or management."
No word on whether the prisoners will be celebrating with them. However, a new report from Grassroots Leadership sticks a pin in their birthday balloon with a very critical look at the company's management of both its financial affairs and its contract prisons.
It is no secret that CCA has had its financial problems over the years. It came close to insolvency in the late 1990s after it accumulated heavy debt building expensive speculative prisons and restructuring itself as a real estate investment trust. After restructuring again, shaking up its upper management and spending $120 million to settle investor lawsuits, the company now claims to be in better financial shape. The report concedes that there has been some improvement but remains unconvinced about the company's long-term viability especially as many states are trying to reduce the size of their prison populations.
For those who are more concerned about the public policy implications of the CCA story than the ups and downs of its investors, the company's failures as a prison operator and its successes in influencing penal policy at the state and federal level are the most worrying areas of the report.
For-profit prison companies like CCA have always presented themselves as both cheaper and better than the traditional publicly owned prisons, staffed by state employees. However, from the mayhem and murders at the prison in Youngstown, Ohio, which eventually led to the company paying $1.6 million to prisoners to settle a lawsuit, to a series of wrongful death civil suits, and numerous disturbances and escapes, the authors document in detail a staggering range of failures of prison management.
Another case of the joys of privitization. Cutting corners with prisoners, soldier's food, and our children's education. Just what we need.
it's a boy!
Some more pictures of my new grandchild. (OK, maybe William and Jenny had something to do with it.) Everything is going well.
december 17, 1903
This isn't just about how Our Appointed Administration feels the same way about unions as Saddam Hussein. It's also how they feel about unions and workers in this country and around the world.
In 1958, Iraqi nationalists and radicals threw out the king imposed on them by the British after World War One. Over the next five years of relative freedom and democracy, Iraq began putting together a nationalized, planned economy, based on its oil wealth. Hundreds of factories were eventually constructed, making it the most industrialized country in the Middle East. A new deepwater port was built on the Persian Gulf, Umm Qasr, which became a lynchpin in that plan. From its piers Iraq began to ship the goods from those factories to buyers in other countries throughout the region. The port became a symbol of progress and independence, an achievement of the Iraqi revolution.
Today Umm Qasr, under the US military occupation of Iraq, has become war booty. It was the first Iraqi enterprise to be turned over, not just to a private owner, but to a foreign one. Even before US troops had reached Baghdad, in Washington DC the Bush administration gave the concession for operating the port to Stevedoring Services of America, a politically-connected firm handling cargo around the world that has a long history of anti-labor policies. To Iraqis, instead of a symbol of national pride, Umm Qasr now represents the new era of foreign domination. And as a foreign corporation has taken over the operation of what once was a crown jewel of the Iraqi economy, the status of the people whose living depends on the jobs the port provides hangs in the balance.
thanks to Juan Cole
the camera never lies
I had just been surrounded by 15 police cars. Their red and blue lights flashed, blinking all over the landscape at 1:30 in the morning. Surrounding my car, there were no less than 80 policemen, some of them boasting heavy duty machineguns that made the “Terminator” look like, well, just a governor of California. I must say that, if it had not been quite so real, this scenario looked pretty much like something out of a bad movie. What I am about to tell must be one of the most colorful stories told in a long time, combining the crossroads from analog to digital photography, sex, accidents and a lot of unforeseen twists and turns, that will prove to be quite worthy of an end of year finale.
This site uses frames so I have linked to the page out of the frame. Don't let that stop you from going to this excellent site with the frames: zone zero editorial.
I don't like to call people names. I like to give people some credit that they are thinking. They may be thinking wrong, but they are thinking. Not here, folks.
Saddam on Lips At Ground Zero
The guide from the tour bus stood in the center of a crowd in winter hats and announced, "This used to be called Ground Zero. We don't use that anymore. We now call it the World Trade Center."
Behind him yesterday was the Russian steppes.
Brooding and empty, with nothing to stop the icy wind coming off the river.
In the wild exulting over the capture of a defeated man, Hussein, you'd think that the trade center would not be as continually and vigorously inspected by sightseers. After all, Hussein had nothing to do with this. Bin Laden is your man.
Yet small crowds such as this one with their tour guide gathered through the afternoon for the length of the fence looking out at the famous and frozen real estate.
Each person you spoke to, and they were from all over the country, were pleased that the new trade center would be the world's tallest building. Also, they were supremely happy because Saddam Hussein had had something to do with blowing up the Twin Towers.
Here was a woman in the cold, Linda Jacobs, standing with her husband, Ken, from Newport News, Va., and saying, "He probably did. Who knows. But he probably did."
Her husband said, "Oh. yeah. He was in on it."
thanks to Cursor
Historic Papers site
thanks to The Cartoonist
I need to redesign my invoices. They look so inadequate now.
iraq — vietnam on internet time
The electricity only returned a couple of hours ago. We've been without electricity for almost 72 hours- other areas have it worse. Today we heard the electricity won't be back to pre-war levels until the middle of next year.
We heard about Saddam's capture the day before yesterday, around noon. There was no electricity, so we couldn't watch tv. The first sign we got that something abnormal was occurring was the sound of a Klashnikov in the distance. I remembering pausing in my negotiations with E. over who should fill the kerosene heaters and listening hard to the sounds of shooting. I grabbed the battery-powered radio and started searching the stations, skipping from one to the other. I finally located a station that was broadcasting in Arabic and heard that Saddam may have been caught.
We thought nothing of it at first… another false alarm. It happened on an almost weekly basis. When the sounds of shooting became more frequent, curiosity got the better of E. and he ran to our neighbor's house where they had a small generator running. Fifteen minutes later, he came back breathless with the words, "They've caught Saddam…" Everyone was shocked. We all clamored for the radio once again and tried to find out what was happening. The questions were endless- who? What? When? How?
It was only later in the evening that we saw the pictures on tv and saw the press-conference, etc. By then, Baghdad was a mess of bullets, and men waving flags. Our area and other areas were somewhat quiet, but central Baghdad was a storm of gunfire. The communist party were scary- it's like they knew beforehand. Immediately, their red flags and banners were up in the air and they were marching up and down the streets and around Firdaws Square. My cousin was caught in the middle of a traffic jam and he says the scenes were frightening.
"Peace" and "reconciliation" were the patois of Downing Street and the White House yesterday. But all those hopes of a collapse of resistance are doomed. Saddam was neither the spiritual nor the political guide to the insurgency that is now claiming so many lives in Iraq - far more Iraqi than Western lives, one might add - and, however happy Messrs Bush and Blair may be at the capture of Saddam, the war goes on.
In Fallujah, in Ramadi, in other centres of Sunni power in Iraq, the anti-occupation rising will continue. The system of attacks and the frighteningly fast-growing sophistication of the insurgents is bound up with the Committee of the Faith, a group of Wahabi-based Sunni Muslims who now plan their attacks on American occupation troops between Mosul and the city of Hilla, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Even before the overthrow of the Baathist regime, these groups, permitted by Saddam in the hope that they could drain off Sunni Islamic militancy, were planning the mukawama - the resistance against foreign occupation.
The slaughter of 17 more Iraqis yesterday in a bomb attack on a police station - hours after the capture of Saddam, though the bombers could not have known that - is going to remain Iraq's bloody agenda. The Anglo-American narrative will then be more difficult to sustain. Saddam "remnants" or Saddam "loyalists" are far more difficult to sustain as enemies when they can no longer be loyal to Saddam. Their Iraqi identity will become more obvious and the need to blame "foreign" al-Qa'ida members all the greater.
Yet the repeated assertions of US infantry commanders, especially those based around Mosul and Tikrit, that most of their attackers are Iraqi rather than foreign, show that the American military command in Iraq - at least at the divisional level - knows the truth. The 82nd Airborne captain in Fallujah who told me that his men were attacked by "Syrian-backed terrorists and Iraqi freedom-fighters" was probably closer to the truth than Major Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq, would like to believe. The war is not about Saddam but about foreign occupation.
Many had hoped the capture of Saddam Hussein would put an end to the insurgency that has been carrying out deadly attacks against US troops and Iraqi targets. But any such wishfulness was swiftly crushed when suicide bombers killed eight Iraqi policemen and injured at least 30 civilians in two suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad.
In what may well be a clear indication that the resistance to US occupation will continue despite the capture of the former Iraqi leader, two car bombs were detonated outside Iraqi police stations in different parts of the city.
In his official statement celebrating the capture of Saddam Hussein, President Bush announced that “the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions.” Notably lacking from the president’s statement, however, was whether the U.S. government would agree to relinquish control over Saddam’s trial to the Iraqi government or to an international tribunal consisting of independent judges.
Why wouldn’t U.S. officials readily agree to relinquish jurisdiction over Saddam’s trial? Because of their need to closely guard the secrets that Saddam Hussein has in his possession — secrets that would cause no small amount of embarrassment to the U.S. government, including former president Ronald Reagan, former vice-president and former president George H.W. Bush (the president’s father), and Donald Rumsfeld, the president’s secretary of defense.
One of those secrets is the extent of the relationship that existed between the Reagan and Bush I administrations and Saddam Hussein, the details of which have never been fully disclosed by U.S. officials. There is, of course, the famous photograph on the Internet in which Rumsfeld and Saddam are shaking hands and making conversation in Baghdad in 1983. How did that meeting get set up? Who was involved in the decision-making process? What was discussed? What agreements were entered into?
Saddam’s testimony at trial could provide some of the answers. And that prospect — of Saddam Hussein testifying freely, openly, and publicly about his relationship with Ronald Reagan, President Bush I, and Donald Rumsfeld — would undoubtedly strike terror into the hearts and minds of many U.S. officials.
Imagine if the exact nature of the relationship between Reagan-Bush and Saddam Hussein were to hit the front pages of newspapers all over the world on a daily basis, as Saddam filled in his side of the details during his public testimony at trial.
And there’s a bigger secret, whose details would undoubtedly terrify U.S. officials even more — that it was the Reagan-Bush administration that furnished Saddam Hussein with the weapons of mass destruction (1) that he employed against the Iranian and Iraqi people, and (2) that U.S. and UN officials used as the excuse for imposing the brutal 12-year embargo against Iraq, whose resulting deaths of Iraqi children arguably were a principal motivating factor behind the September 11 attacks, and (3) that President Bush ultimately relied upon as his principal justification for invading Iraq.
thanks to Yolanda Flanagan
The youth (early years) of these people coincided with the middle of the 20th century. That was a hard time. Stalin dictatorship, War against Hitler. The time of War, hardship and repressions. They all took part in the biggest fight of The World War 2 - battle for Stalingrad. More than 1 million militaries from each side participated in it. It was the time when "human life worth nothing" - one of the characters said then.
Alexander Bichkov: "There was a truck with
wounded people not far from us. The German tanks
appeared on a slope and one shell hit the truck. A
head fell to my feet and the eyes were still blinking".
global climate change
In the stormy world of climate science, Dr. Jerry D. Mahlman, 63, is considered a giant.
Until three years ago, Dr. Mahlman, now a senior researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research here in Colorado, headed the federal Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J.
There he studied how the earth's troposphere and stratosphere work. To that end, he developed mathematical models showing how natural forces and chemicals interact in the atmosphere. The models consistently show that carbon dioxide emissions are likely to heat up the air, water and land.
It was this prediction of an overly warm future that transformed Dr. Mahlman into a reluctant activist. He travels the country on his own time, warning religious, civic and educational groups about the dangers of global warming.
"I don't like having to talk to people about something they don't particularly want to hear," he said in an interview, "but I see what the climate models are telling us. I think by ignoring projections on global warming, we are making a negative gift to our successors — human, animal and plant — of enormous dimension."
thanks to Progressive Review
"Diane Arbus once wrote to a friend, 'I think it does, a little, hurt to be photographed.' In two remarkable shows, Grannan reveals the discomfort wrapped up in the desire to be exposed, as she photographs strangers who replied to ads she placed in newspapers soliciting models. The results are embarrassing and riveting, like overhearing a humiliating secret. The large-scale color pictures at Van Doren are set in public parks; they’re stark and sometimes overtly disturbing (a naked man with an erection glares defiantly at the lens, a woman in an orange bikini poses in a mortified hunch). Smaller, black-and-white images at Salon 94, shot indoors, are more lavish and complex. Models lounge against patterned wallpaper in fishnet stockings and satin robes, and here, Grannan’s frankness is tinged with a peculiar glamour. Think Walker Evans trying his hand at pinups." - as reviewed in The New Yorker Sept 22, 2003.
thanks to Conscientious
The pictures and sound archive is up for last night's show with David Ossman. He knows how to use spam! Great show.
It's Monday night and time for another TestingTesting. Tonight we have Firesign Theatre alumnus David Ossman. This will be webcast from my living room. It's hard to explain in words what David does when he gets in front of a mic so I made a 2 and a half minute audio clip. There is an MP3 and a RealAudio version.
Barton Cole and David Ossman
at the 08-05-02 TestingTesting
Click on in this evening a 7pm (pacific). A fun time will be had by all!
dj from hell
This is a must hear.
Artists confronted with the destruction of all they hold dear by the current appointed administration use their skills and creativity to voice their anger and frustration. Writers write, singers sing, and bloggers blog. But what is a poor DJ to do?
At 11 o'clock weekday mornings, Alaska time, Jim Kloss rolls out of bed and does his morning rant. It's webcast from his bedroom in Talkeetna, Alaska. It's a 12 foot by 12 foot bedroom that is the entire second floor of a 12 foot and 12 foot cabin he shares with electric mountain dulcimer goddess Esther Golton. The 24/7 webcast is called Whole Wheat Radio and is the best place for indie music on the web. But at 11 o'clock, Talkeetna time, Jim rants. Sometimes he screams, sometimes he is posessed by Mr. Rogers, and sometimes he sleeps in after being up all night re-writing the Whole Wheat Radio software.
Last Friday was different. When Jim is late, or sleeps in, the music continues to play. But this music was different. It was a mixture of audio clips and songs. It was an audio collage of anger and outrage. It started with JFK asking not what you country can do for you and ended up 1 hour and 41 minutes later with the atomic bomb and then a little hope that this nightmare will end. It was one of the most powerful statements about the state of this world that I have heard or seen.
As this amazing audio collage of frustration was coming out of my speakers I wondered at how much time Jim must have spent to put all this together. It turned out that he was putting it together live. After the show, he had this in the WWR chat:
"Thank you all for listening this hour. I had no idea it was going to happen this way. I had started pulling Yahoo links, and then the "Amaze Me - Songs In The Key Of Peace" CD special came on. And it took me away from my 'normal' theatrical place of ranting. So, this was the only way I could try and relieve some of the anger and outrage. As I've said before, when I'm ranting, I'm not really pissed. When I'm quiet ... that's when the real anger is raging."
This "rant" can still be heard. Fortunately, WWR listener Miata2K records Jim's rants and streams them. Here is the link for last Friday's rant:
Listen to the rant. (MP3 streaming. And a *big* thank you to Miata2K for doing this.) And then go to Whole Wheat Radio and listen to the music!
Lalo's daily comics are at Ucomics.
iraq — vietnam on internet time
A nightmare has ended. He will be tried, and two nations' dirty laundry will be exposed, the only basis on which all can go forward towards a new Persian Gulf and a new relationship with the West.
What is the significance of the capture of Saddam for contemporary Iraqi politics? He was probably already irrelevant.
The Sunni Arab resisters to US occupation in the country's heartland had long since jettisoned Saddam and the Baath as symbols. (See "Sunnis gear up" below.) They are fighting for local reasons. Some are Sunni fundamentalists, who despised the Baath. Others are Arab nationalists who weep at the idea of their country being occupied. Some had relatives killed or humiliated by US troops and are pursuing a clan vendetta. Some fear a Shiite and Kurdish-dominated Iraq will reduce them to second class citizens. They will fight on, as Mr. Bush admitted today.
My wife, Shahin Cole, suggested to me an ironic possibility with regard to the Shiites. She said that many Shiites in East Baghdad, Basra, and elsewhere may have been timid about opposing the US presence, because they feared the return of Saddam. Saddam was in their nightmares, and the reprisals of the Fedayee Saddam are still a factor in Iraqi politics. Now that it is perfectly clear that he is finished, she suggested, the Shiites may be emboldened. Those who dislike US policies or who are opposed to the idea of occupation no longer need be apprehensive that the US will suddenly leave and allow Saddam to come back to power. They may therefore now gradually throw off their political timidity, and come out more forcefully into the streets when they disagree with the US. As with many of her insights, this one seems to me likely correct.
In Iraq's Sunni heartland, rebels have a new cause
It's Iraq. The Sunnis, Shias and Kurds are at each other's throats, only cooperating long enough to attack the foreign army that is occupying their country. The army is tasked with nation-building, and is running into serious difficulty. The man in charge is... no, not America's Paul Bremer, but General Sir Aylmer Haldane. The year is 1920.
Published in 1922, Haldane's book, Insurrection in Mesopotamia 1920, long ago vanished into the dusty fastnesses of antiquarian booksellers. But not any more. We hear that Sir Aylmer is required reading in Washington these days. Evidently, the Pentagon and state department are snapping up all available copies - the price on the web has hit $250 and is rising. Why?
Iraq (or Mesopotamia, as it then was) is a totally artificial country. One glance at the map tells you that its borders were fixed using the BOGSAT technique (bunch of guys sitting around a table) at the Versailles peace conference in 1919. It is a technique that often causes ethnic problems and Iraq was no exception. The Brits took on the responsibility for making the whole ramshackle set-up work properly, and Sir Aylmer ended up as the man in charge. Yet even against violent opposition he did succeed in building a viable nation that lasted a generation - from 1920 to the revolution in 1958.
Washington wants to know how he did it. I'd like to know too. I'm fortunate to live in a town with many excellent antiquarian bookshops. But can I find an affordable copy of Insurrection? Not a hope. A friend lends me his. Wow, talk about deja vu all over again - to use Yogi Berra's famous aphorism. What is the main lesson?
At the end of his book Sir Aylmer says: "I regret that on my arrival in Mesopotamia I was too much occupied with military matters, and too ill-informed regarding the political problem." Not hard to see why Rummy wants his own copy.
thanks to follow me here...
Frozen tree at pian delle Betulle
thanks to wood s lot
In this place that often seems burdened by the past, it is the future that is suddenly bearing down.
Within the Likud, the dominant right-wing party, leaders who once advocated holding every inch of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and who for three years argued that Israel could make no concessions because it lacked a Palestinian peace partner, are now debating how quickly to concede how much of that territory.
The Likud is publicly grappling with a prospect long raised by Israel's left: that within a few years Arabs are likely to be the majority in Israel and its occupied territories, and that they may switch from demanding their own state to demanding the right to vote in Israel, threatening its Jewish identity.
The result is a breathtaking inversion: Though the Likud's platform opposes a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River as a threat to Israel, some members of the party say they have concluded that only the creation of such a state can save Israel as a Jewish democracy.
The Weathercocks Are Turning
It is not yet a tidal wave. But it is more then a ripple. It is a wave in the process of formation.
During the last few months a realignment of Israeli public opinion has started to become noticeable. It has several causes: public tiredness of the endless cycle of bloodshed, the perception that there is no military solution, the worsening of the economic crisis, the untiring activity of the radical peace movements.
The list of the accumulating symptoms is getting longer: the movement of the young men who refuse army service in the occupied territories, the revolt of the airforce pilots, the Ayalon-Nusseibeh initiative, the statement of the four former Secret Service chiefs, the criticism voiced by the Chief-of-Staff, and, this week, the public attack of the reserve officers on the continued existence of the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip.
The Geneva initiative gave this change a great boost in Israel, as well as an impressive echo abroad. The participation of international personalities in the solemn ceremony in Switzerland lent it status and prestige. The decision of the US Secretary of State and the General Secretary of the United Nations to receive the leaders of this initiative was a gesture of public support for the peace movement. (So was the warm personal message conveyed by the President of Germany, Johannes Rau, to the ceremony in which a Peace Prize was awarded to Sari Nusseibeh and me.)
When the wind changes, the weathercocks start to move. That is happening these days. The most sensitive ones, like Yoel Markus in Haaretz, already began attacking Sharon some months ago. Now this is becoming a fashion in the media. The very same commentators who served for three years as propagandists for the government and the army high command, have suddenly discovered that everything done during the last three years was, after all, a terrible mistake.
bannister #3 , 1979
thanks to Conscientious
Howard Dean’s December 7 speech is the most important statement on race in American politics by a mainstream white politician in nearly 40 years. Nothing remotely comparable has been said by anyone who might become or who has been President of the United States since Lyndon Johnson’s June 4, 1965 affirmative action address to the graduating class at Howard University.
For four decades, the primary political project of the Republican Party has been to transform itself into the White Man’s Party. Not only in the Deep South, but also nationally, the GOP seeks to secure a majority popular base for corporate governance through coded appeals to white racism. The success of this GOP project has been the central fact of American politics for two generations – reaching its fullest expression in the Bush presidency. Yet a corporate covenant with both political parties has prohibited the mere mention of America’s core contemporary political reality: the constant, routine mobilization of white voters through the imagery and language of race.
Last Sunday, Howard Dean broke that covenant:
thanks to Badattitudes Journal
Eliot Cribbs told me to look for this site at illegal-art.com.
The short film chronicling its makers' obsession with a shining emblem of modern culture – a gigantic, electric neon Coca-Cola Sign. And yet, far from one story, Enjoy is several, packaged perversely as a series of meticulously crafted TV commercial simulations, each one offering up a different perspective on The Sign – from its domination of the public landscape down to its relationship with the personal "impulse" for pleasure, the veritable will to "enjoy."
Before I found Eliot's illegal-art.com I mistakenly went to illegalart.org...
race, prisons, and voting
"Those People in That Prison Can't Vote Me Out"
In a period of painfully close presidential elections, with the most dangerous White House in history hoping to extend its criminal reign, every American vote in 2004 is potentially a matter of life and death for masses of people at home and abroad. It is exceedingly significant, therefore, that 4.4 million Americans are disenfranchised due to a past or current felony conviction. No other nation imprisons a larger share of its population or marks so large a share of its population with the lifelong mark of a serious (felony) criminal record. According to the best estimates last year, 13 million Americans – fully 7 percent of the adult population and an astonishing 12 percent of the adult male population – possess felony records.
At the same time, no other democratic nation denies the vote to a remotely comparable share of its offender and ex-offender population. According to Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen, the leading academic authorities on felon and ex-felon voting rights, "48 states disenfranchise incarcerated felons, 37 states disenfranchise felony probationers or parolees (or both), and 14 states additionally disenfranchise some or all ex-felons who have completed their sentences." America’s army of disenfranchised felons and ex-felons "are expected," note Manza and Uggen, "to respect the law (and indeed, are often subject to significantly harsher penalties and face a higher level of scrutiny, than non-felons). They are expected to pay taxes to the government, and to be governed by elected officials. Yet they have no formal right to participate in the selection of those officials or the public policies that allocate government expenditures." Among those expenditures we might include the hundreds of billions of dollars that American governments spend on mass surveillance, arrest, detention, prosecution, incarceration, and post-release criminal supervision.
I picked up my test roll of pinhole exposures Saturday. All my expectations were realized except for some flare that I think was from the aluminum pinhole mount that is now safely painted flat black. Now I have a better idea of what the pinhole sees and, hopefully, the flat black will take care of the flare in the pictures below. Here are three, with various degrees of flare. It's amazing what you can do without a lens.