In other words, for Bush and his friends, defeat really is "unthinkable", just as it was to Kaiser Wilhelm when Wilson proposed a "victorless Peace" to Germany in 1917. Unless there is victory, the entire NeoCon world gets swept away, as do the Likudniks.
For that reason, expect a savage campaign to clear Baghdad of insurgents - which will fail with the loss of a great deal of American and Iraqi blood, followed by an all out bombing attack on Iran.
For the NeoCons, there is no other choice available to them, that is the tragedy.
The bodies of works which I have created, whether they are photographic series or installation using photography, continuously feed off and compliment each other both conceptually and technically. These images point to a more layered, carnivalesque reading of the two traditions, traditional/ancient and contemporary culture, but in emphasizing the delicate fictional underpinning in these images, in my opinion they come closer to representing “reality” than what is shown in most news media. Through these images, I explore the tension between public and private spaces, depicting scenarios which undo the images of Islamic stereotypes represented through the narrow focus of the daily media. Moreover, I hope they also challenge the Muslim expectation of propriety. By using fictive and documentary strategies, I have sought to create bodies of work that hover between photographic realism and fantasy.
It's official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths. This really is a new low. It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.
This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.
America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush's biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.
The body of Saddam, as it swung from the gallows at 6 a.m. Saturday Baghdad time, cast an ominous shadow over Iraq. The execution provoked intense questions about whether his trial was fair and about what the fallout will be. One thing is certain: The trial and execution of Saddam were about revenge, not justice. Instead of promoting national reconciliation, this act of revenge helped Saddam portray himself one last time as a symbol of Sunni Arab resistance, and became one more incitement to sectarian warfare.
The tendency to treat Saddam and Iraq in a historical vacuum, and in isolation from the superpowers, however, has hidden from Americans their own culpability in the horror show that has been Iraq for the past few decades. Initially, the US used the Baath Party as a nationalist foil to the Communists. Then Washington used it against Iran. The welfare of Iraqis themselves appears to have been on no one's mind, either in Washington or in Baghdad.
Saddam to the gallows. It was an easy equation. Who could be more deserving of that last walk to the scaffold - that crack of the neck at the end of a rope - than the Beast of Baghdad, the Hitler of the Tigris, the man who murdered untold hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis while spraying chemical weapons over his enemies? Our masters will tell us in a few hours that it is a "great day" for Iraqis and will hope that the Muslim world will forget that his death sentence was signed - by the Iraqi "government", but on behalf of the Americans - on the very eve of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, the moment of greatest forgiveness in the Arab world.
We've shut him up. The moment Saddam's hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington's secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead.
A former senior CIA operative who tracked Osama bin Laden for 10 long years foresees "an apparent American defeat in Afghanistan".
Michael Sheuer said the way ahead in Afghanistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border "ultimately would lead to the defeat of US and NATO forces and the demise of the Karzai government".
Scheuer told the Daily Times in Washington that by failing to accomplish the only mission that had to be accomplished in Afghanistan, the US was now faced with a growing insurgency that probably already outnumbered the combined US-NATO forces.
Over the last five years, the Palestinian people have faced a host of obstacles in their fight for sovereignty, preventing them the opportunity to create a life those in the Western world brag about. A principal impediment facing the Palestinian struggle today is the constant reaffirmation that the Palestinian people—deemed by Israel and the US—are “terrorists,” “militants,” or animalistic beings lesser than those of the “civilized world.” In Ramzy Baroud’s new book, The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of People’s Struggle, this myth is shattered. The propaganda that has infiltrated Western discourse has proven counterfeit; misinformation that has framed US policy regarding Israel, leading to a multitude of double standards imposed upon Palestinians. These inconsistencies have exponentially magnified the suffering of the Palestinian people and hindered their efforts to gain control of the land in which they live.
Baroud poignantly describes the dilemma Palestinians face. The generalization that all Palestinians are “terrorists” or “militants,” allows the Israeli government to act with virtual impunity and equips Israeli forces with a moral endowment; they are acting in the name of “good” and challenging this policy is tantamount to collusion with the “forces of evil.” Baroud offers the reader this grim truth, “Being a Palestinian activist means you could be targeted in a taxicab, in your office, sipping coffee with your neighbors, or sitting in your home. When you live, you live in poverty, deprived of all freedoms and joys of life. And when you die, it’s a horrible death by a surface-to-surface missile, a car bomb, or a sniper’s bullet.”
The sincerity and passion in Baroud’s approach is remarkable and commendable. The reader is given the opportunity to feel the angst and heartfelt anger sparked inside Baroud, a Palestinian born in a Gazan refugee camp and a writer who searched Jenin in hopes of finding the truth and preserving the stories of those that had suffered. Baroud has worked tirelessly to shine light on the mischaracterized Palestinian; civilians and activists who have been and continue to be sacrificed as inconsequential variables in Israel’s fight for “the greater good.”
Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel A new order issued by the GOC Central command bans the conveyance of Palestinians in Israeli vehicles. Such a blatant violation of the right to travel joins the long list of humans rights violations carried out by Israel in the [Occupied] Territories.
Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.
The US Jewish Establishment’s onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which is known to all: through its army, the government of Israel practises a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population’s movements and to make its life difficult. Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians’ land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades.
If that were not enough, the generals commanding the region frequently issue further orders, regulations, instructions and rules (let us not forget: they are the lords of the land). By now they have requisitioned further lands for the purpose of constructing “Jewish only” roads. Wonderful roads, wide roads, well-paved roads, brightly lit at night – all that on stolen land. When a Palestinian drives on such a road, his vehicle is confiscated and he is sent on his way.
On one occasion I witnessed such an encounter between a driver and a soldier who was taking down the details before confiscating the vehicle and sending its owner away. “Why?” I asked the soldier. “It’s an order – this is a Jews-only road”, he replied. I inquired as to where was the sign indicating this fact and instructing [other] drivers not to use it. His answer was nothing short of amazing. “It is his responsibility to know it, and besides, what do you want us to do, put up a sign here and let some antisemitic reporter or journalist take a photo so he that can show the world that Apartheid exists here?”
Indeed Apartheid does exist here. And our army is not “the most moral army in the world” as we are told by its commanders. Sufficient to mention that every town and every village has turned into a detention centre and that every entry and every exit has been closed, cutting it off from arterial traffic. If it were not enough that Palestinians are not allowed to travel on the roads paved ‘for Jews only’, on their land, the current GOC found it necessary to land an additional blow on the natives in their own land with an “ingenious proposal”.
Sammy is an Arab citizen from Acre, studying for a doctor's degree at Haifa University. Something terrible happened to him: he fell in love with the wrong woman - a Palestinian from Jenin in the occupied territories. He had met her by accident in Ramallah, obtained for her (on false pretences, he admits) a permit to stay in Israel for one day and married her. Since then he can visit her only once every few weeks in Jenin.
A few weeks ago, the 15th Asian games, the "Asiad", was held in Qatar.
The Israeli media treated the event with a mixture of derision and pity. Some kind of picturesque Asian circus. Our television showed an exotic horseman with a keffiyeh at the opening ceremony, riding his noble Arab steed up a steep staircase to light the Olympic flame. And that was that.
One question was not asked at all in any of the media: why are we not there? Does Israel not lie in Asia?
That was not even considered. We? In Asia? How come?
In one of the news broadcasts that he presented last week on Channel 1 television, Haim Yavin defined the Syrian feelers as an "escalation in the peace attack," no less. No one could better describe the panic that Syrian President Bashar Assad is arousing in Israel. Attacks are something we understand, and escalation is also a user-friendly concept for Israelis. Therefore, it appears that peace has no meaning unless it comes in the form of an attack.
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
I started out, oh those many years ago, as an architecture major. While never completed, architecture has always been one of my loves. The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, with Brunelleschi's dome, has been on my list of buildings to see. The building of the dome is quite a story. From Amazon:
Filippo Brunelleschi's design for the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence remains one of the most towering achievements of Renaissance architecture. Completed in 1436, the dome remains a remarkable feat of design and engineering. Its span of more than 140 feet exceeds St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome, and even outdoes the Capitol in Washington, D.C., making it the largest dome ever constructed using bricks and mortar. The story of its creation and its brilliant but "hot-tempered" creator is told in Ross King's delightful Brunelleschi's Dome.
Both dome and architect offer King plenty of rich material. The story of the dome goes back to 1296, when work began on the cathedral, but it was only in 1420, when Brunelleschi won a competition over his bitter rival Lorenzo Ghiberti to design the daunting cupola, that work began in earnest. King weaves an engrossing tale from the political intrigue, personal jealousies, dramatic setbacks, and sheer inventive brilliance that led to the paranoid Filippo, "who was so proud of his inventions and so fearful of plagiarism," finally seeing his dome completed only months before his death. King argues that it was Brunelleschi's improvised brilliance in solving the problem of suspending the enormous cupola in bricks and mortar (painstakingly detailed with precise illustrations) that led him to "succeed in performing an engineering feat whose structural daring was without parallel." He tells a compelling, informed story, ranging from discussions of the construction of the bricks, mortar, and marble that made up the dome, to its subsequent use as a scientific instrument by the Florentine astronomer Paolo Toscanelli.
The Age of Mammals Looking Back on the First Quarter of the Twenty-First Century By Rebecca Solnit
I've been writing the year-end other-news summary for Tomdispatch since 2004; somewhere around 2017, however, the formula of digging up overlooked stories and grounds for hope grew weary. So for this year, we've decided instead to look back on the last 25 years of the twenty-first century -- but it was creatures from sixty million years ago who reminded me how to do it.
The other day, I borrowed some kids to go gawk with me at the one thing that we can always count on in an ever-more unstable world: age-of-dinosaur dioramas in science museums. This one had the usual dramatic clash between a tyrannosaurus and a triceratops; pterodactyls soaring through the air, one with a small reptile in its toothy maw; and some oblivious grazing by what, when I was young in another millennium, we would have called a brontosaurus. Easy to overlook in all that drama was the shrew-like mammal perched on a reed or thick blade of grass, too small to serve even as an enticing pterodactyl snack. The next thing coming down the line always looks like that mammal at the beginning -- that's what I told the kids -- inconsequential, beside the point; the official point usually being the clash of the titans.
That's exactly why mainstream journalists spent the first decade of this century debating the meaning of the obvious binaries -- the Democrats versus the Republicans, McWorld versus Global Jihad -- much as political debate of the early 1770s might have focused on whether the French or English monarch would have supremacy in North America, not long before the former was beheaded and the latter evicted. The monarchs in all their splashy scale were the dinosaurs of their day, and the eighteenth-century mammal no one noticed at first was named "revolution"; the early twenty-first century version might have been called "localism" or maybe "anarchism," or even "civil society regnant." In some strange way, it turned out that windmill-builders were more important than the U.S. Senate. They were certainly better at preparing for the future anyway.
That mammal clinging to the stalk had crawled up from the grassroots where the choices were so much more basic and significant than, for instance, the one between fundamentalism and consumerism that was on everyone's lips in the years of the Younger George Bush. If the twentieth century was the age of dinosaurs -- of General Motors and the Soviet Union, of McDonald's, globalized entertainment networks, and information superhighways -- the twenty-first has increasingly turned out to be the age of the small.
Finance has been trending away from economic reality since the Ronald Reagan era on an accelerating basis. By this I mean the role of finance no longer represents sets of mechanisms and institutions designed to raise legitimate capital for investment in legitimate productive activities. Finance is now an end in itself, essentially a racket. The capital is no longer capital, i.e. genuine wealth accumulated from previous productive activities. Now it is jive-capital: notional "wealth" spun out of activities that are fundamentally not productive -- for instance, sub-prime mortgages bundled into tradable securities. In reality, the mortgages backing these securities are contracts for repayment of huge loans made on hazardous terms by shifty means to people with poor prospects for making their payments for assets (suburban houses made of vinyl and glue) that are, in any case, fated to lose much of their nominal value, becoming worth less than the obligations yet due on them, and rapidly so.
Despite the bad name he has with liberals these days, Jesus did have the right idea. He'd get right down there on the street and grunt with the people, feeling them all over and healing their boils, feeding them and preaching his ass off while everybody hollered and saw the light as blind men popped open their eyes and lame folks started doing the Dead Sea Macarena. No maintaining a professional distance, no opinion polls for that guy. He just went out there and "got 'er done" in plain sight of everybody. Including the Jewish religious mafia and the Roman super-state thugs of the time -- which is why he got whacked. But he left the world impressed enough that an influential book about his exploits is still on the best seller list today, dispelling publishing industry wisdom that people will not read a book over 300 pages. Jesus seems to have left no heirs to receive royalties, contrary to the speculations of Da Vinci Code readers, The Da Vinci Code being the middle-class equivalent of the Left Behind series. Anyway, Jesus ain't on my shit list and I surely hope I am not on his.
Two thousand years later, the public expects more from their miracles than leprous hides instantly infused with the pink blush of health, or Lazarus dragging his rigor mortis locked bones into a fully upright position, then strolling off down the street as if death itself was no more than a bad case of the flu. Computer animation rendered all that passé decades ago, thus we seculars remain unimpressed. A wardrobe malfunction by Mary Magdalene might punch up the New Testament a little, but it's never going to budge the Neilson numbers, except at Easter and Christmas, and never going to register unless we see it on television or in the cinema, where Jesus on a pole is acceptable, providing he spills enough blood a la Mel Gibson while he is up there.
Call it consumer conditioned numbness, which it is. But it is safe to say most Americans give not a happy damn about the rest of humanity, starving infants, the homeless and whatnot, so long as the unhygienic swarms stay the hell out of our yards and don't bring up that tired commie stuff about our lifestyle being based upon armed global theft and sweatshop misery. In that way, we all test positive for the Devil's hickey.
I think it was seeing the film Mississippi Burning that led me to want to talk about the FBI. I had sort of reached a point where I said, “Who wants to hear anymore about the FBI?” But then I saw Mississippi Burning. It relates a very, very important incident in the history of the civil rights movement in the U.S. In the summer of 1964, these three young men in the movement, two white, one black, had traveled to investigate the burning of a church in a place called Philadelphia, Mississippi-city of brotherly love.
They were arrested, held in jail, released in the night, followed by cars, stalked, taken off and beaten very, very badly with chains and clubs and shot to death- executed-June 21, 1964. The bodies were found in August. It’s a great theme for an important film. Mississippi Burning, I suppose, does something useful in capturing the terror of Mississippi, the violence, the ugliness.
But after it does that, it does something which I think is very harmful: In the apprehension of the murderers, it portrays two FBI operatives and a whole flotilla-if FBI men float-of FBI people as the heroes of this episode. Anybody who knows anything about the history of the civil rights movement, or certainly people who were in the movement at that time in the South, would have to be horrified by that portrayal.
I was just one of many people who was involved in the movement. I was teaching in Atlanta, Georgia, in a black college for about seven years from 1956 to 1963, and I became involved in the movement, in Albany, Georgia, and Selma, Alabama, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Greenwood and Greenville and Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of ‘64. I was involved with SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Anybody who was involved in the Southern movement at that time knew with absolute certainty: The FBI could not be counted on and it was not the friend of the civil rights movement. The FBI stood by with their suits and ties-I’m sorry I’m dressed this way today, but I was just trying to throw them off the track-and took notes while people were being beaten in front of them.
Last week, Pachacutec raised a few eyebrows by referring to the privately operated "detention centers" where Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been incarcerating thousands of illegal immigrants, including their citizen children, as "concentration camps." Some of his commenters particularly objected, like my elderly inquisitor, to using a term that they, at least, associated primarily with Nazis and the Holocaust.
But as Pach noted in follow-up (with an assist from Lambert at Correntewire), "concentration camp" is a perfectly applicable term here, for largely the same reasons I gave at the talk. Considering the information that is starting to come to light from at least the largest of these centers, there are reasons to believe that conditions at these privately run "detention centers" are even worse than those at the Japanese American camps.
And Digby's keen eye, as always, observes that there's a disturbing trend emerging here — namely, that thousands of people, including citizens, are being spirited away to these centers, and so far life within them has a real totalitarian quality to it. (Meanwhile, Latina Lista has been leading the way in reporting on this.)
The whole incident underscored for me the way we let invented terminologies disguise and distort the reality of the things we do. It's an easy way of softening it — because we just don't like looking that reality in the face.
We slaughter thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens in the process of dislodging their dictator, and call it "collateral damage." We stand by as thousands more are slaughtered in the name of ancient hatreds, in places like Rwanda and Darfur, and we name it "ethnic cleansing."
We've done it throughout history. We stole land from the native Americans and murdered them relentlessly, and called it "Manifest Destiny." We lynched thousands of African Americans under the rubric of an imagined threat of rape and called it "defending white womanhood," while driving out thousands more from our communities and calling it "defending our way of life."
And we put 120,000 people behind barbed wire under armed guard and called it a "relocation center." Nowadays, we have a new name for it: the "family detention center" or, better still, the utterly neutral "residential center."
Ryzard Kapucinski, the great Polish journalist, once wrote that 'oil is a fairy tale and like every fairy tale a bit of a lie'. The terrifying oil explosion that engulfed a Lagos neighborhood following Christmas Day--the current death toll is almost 300--says less about vandals who hot-tap the exposed pipelines running through the city's abject slum world than the venality, waste and corruption of a Nigerian petro-capitalism fuelled by windfall profits and modernity's addiction to the automobile. The horrific pictures of charred human carcasses being dragged from the burned-over wreckage of the Awori area of Abule Egba, a suburb of Lagos, is a bleak testimony to the total failure--the great lie--of secular national development in post-colonial Nigeria. The spectacle of an oil nation in which desperate poor city dwellers scramble to scoop petrol and kerosene from ruptured or tapped pipelines stands at the heart of the abject failure of many oil states, what Stanford political scientist Terry Karl calls 'the paradox of plenty'.
Nigeria produces over 2 million barrels of oil a day (currently valued at roughly $40 billion per year) which accounts for 90% of its export earnings and 80% of government revenue. Nigeria also supplies 9% of US imports and is the pillar in the US post 9/11 African oil strategy of the Bush administration which anticipates that the Gulf of Guinea will provide perhaps 25% of US imports by 2015. A multi-billion dollar oil industry is however a mixed blessing at best, and for most Nigerians nothing more than a fairy tail gone awfully wrong. To inventory the 'achievements' of Nigerian oil development is a salutary exercise: 85 percent of oil revenues accrue to 1 percent of the population; over three decades perhaps one quarter of $400 billion in oil; revenues have simply disappeared; between 1970 and 2000 in Nigeria, the number of people subsisting on less than one dollar a day grew from 36 percent to more than 70 percent, from 19 million to a staggering 90 million. According to the International Monetary Fund, oil 'did not seem to add to the standard of living' and 'could have contributed to a decline in the standard of living'. The anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu (one of the few bright lights on a dark political landscape), claimed that in 2003 70% of the country's oil wealth was stolen or wasted; by 2005 it was 'only' 40%. Over the period 1965-2004, the per capital income fell from $250 to $212 while income distribution deteriorated markedly. Since 1990 GDP per capita and life expectancy have, according to World Bank estimates, both fallen. This isn't pretty.
What, then, is the real story behind the horrors of Abule Egba? Let's begin with the fact that in the days before the explosion, fuel was almost impossible to find in Lagos and other cities across the country. Massive lines at gas stations during the holiday period were in large measure the produce of a hugely inefficient and corrupt local refining industry that functions, if at all, well below capacity. The brutal reality of life in the Nigerian petro-state is that fuel for everyday use is one of the country's scarcest commodities.
I've made mention before about rat bikes, motorcycles that are kept running without regard to the original design or esthetics and how I may be applying the rat bike aesthetic to my Zorki Standard. My little Zorki is more of a rat cam than I first suspected.
It's such a tiny thing. My IIIc is positively gigantic next to it. I've spent the last week looking at it a lot. It's light and a joy to handle. It has the Zorki 1b body on it but there are several other things that don't appear to be a Zorki 1b. I checked ZORKI I MODELS, VARIATIONS AND LENSES and all was revealed. It's a Zorki 1d with a 1b body shell. The 1b is supposed to have three screws on the back of the top plate attaching it to the body shell but this has two. The shutter spring on the bottom of the camera is the short one and the serial number is on the back of the top plate. All 1d characteristics but the shell is definitely a 1b. The only downside is that the earlier Zorkis had a quiter and smoother shutter which is what I was hoping for, although the newer shutter design is easier to repair. It doesn't make a whole lot of difference. It was only $25 and it works fine. I've run a test roll through it and am waiting for the results.
I've not been happy with the viewfinders I have after looking through a new Voigtlander. I would like to get a 50 and 35 brightline but that will have to wait. But, for 1:1 viewing, it's hard to beat a wireframe viewfinder. The Ikodot has a great twist on the wireframe. But, not only can I not afford one right now, it is too low to fit on the Zorki. I cannibalized the lockable accessory foot off a dead Vivitar 285 and, with some brass rod, a couple of glass beads, lots of 5 minute epoxy, and gaffer's tape, I made my own.
It's tricky to make. Mine is at an angle but it works great. The great thing is that it works for multiple focal lengths. For the 50mm lens I put my nose one thumb thickness from the back of the camera. For a 35mm lens I put my nose on the back of the camera. If I move closer it works for up to a 21mm lens. Line up the beads to aim and fire away. I love it. Check out the Ikodot site for pictures and instructions. If you have the money it's easier to buy one than to make one.
I've also glued on the feet labels on the I-50. It makes it really fast to set the distance after estimating it. It's a joy to shoot with. I 've been shooting color for a long time but this camera cries out for some Tri-X. It's on order. When the Tri-X arrives I'll go have some more fun. Looking at the picture of the rat cam and my IIIc, it seems an M3 would make a nice progression. Someday.