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  Thursday   February 12   2004

Helena Cobban is in Israel and Palestine...

Jerusalem's Apartheid Wall


I have read several accounts of the effect of this Wall on the daily life of the people of Aizariyeh and Abu Dis. Also, in the northern West Bank, where some parts of the Wall were completed a number of months ago, enclosing whole populations in steel-and-concrete pens. Somehow, I found that seeing the physicality of it, its sheer size, and the way it cuts right through the heart of urban areas (and through the lives of these areas' people) right here around Jerusalem was particularly sickening. The shortsightedness, as well as the brutality, of the whole project made me very sad indeed.

Fifteen years ago, when the Berlin Wall came down, the whole world (except, perhaps, for a few diehard Stalinists somewhere) rejoiced . Chunks of that Wall were collected and sold as treasured mementos of that fine day. I bet you can still buy one on e-bay, if you want.

The Berlin Wall had sliced through the heart of that city for 28 years by that point. I am sure that whether it takes 28 years, or longer--or, as I dearly hope, considerably less than that--this Wall too will come to an end.

So I have a suggestion: why can't we just skip the intervening years of seperation, privation, pauperization, and sorrow, and just start chipping chunks off the unerected sections of this Wall right now and start selling them on e-bay? Plus, of course, take down the sections that have already gone up. And everybody starts treating their fellow-humans-- on both sides of this terrible line-- with a basic amount of simple human respect??

No, I'm not an impossible dreamer. It happened in South Africa. Hallelujah! So yes, it certainly can happen here.


Great experiences; limbo nonetheless


But one of the most interesting stories Ghassan told me was that on Monday night--the very night before I turned up on his doorstep-- he, B, and a number of their other friends had been to what he thought was the only showing to date in Ramallah of Polanski's movie "The Pianist".

"It was very interesting," he said. "We could learn much more about what the Jews had been through there in Poland. And of course there were so many parallels with our own situation here. When they showed the scenes of the Germans starting to put up the wall around the ghetto, you could hear a lot of gasps of recognition and surprise."

So how was the public reaction to the showing of the movie?

"A handful of people, at the end, started arguing loudly: 'Why are they showing this movie here?' It seems they didn't know beforehand that it was about the Holocaust. But they were only a minority. Most people said nothing, but seemed glad that they had gone to it."

I wish I'd been there. I also wish I could go to a showing of "The Pianist" in Israel and see the reaction to it there., Ghassan, who follows Israeli press and culture fairly closely, said his impression was that many Israelis didn't like the movie because it portrayed the Jews as passive victims. I also wonder whether it might not unnerve them because of the many parallels--in the many scenes of the concentration phase of the Shoah, though not of course [yet] the extermination phase (which is only alluded to and prefigured in the movie, quite richly, but not directly represented)-- between the fate of Europe's Jews under Nazi rule and the fate their own government has been imposing on the Palestinians.


One of the Palestinians Helena was visiting had, some years before, visited a Holacaust museum and had written an interesting piece from the perspective of a Palestinian discovering the Holacaust. Very interesting. It ends with...

A Palestinian at Yad Vashem


The way the Jews honor their dead at Yad Vashem, could be a lesson to Palestinians to create their own memorials. But when Palestinians come round to creating their own memorials, I hope that these memorials would be different in at least two aspects: without using the suffering of the people for begging material and political support and without instilling even more hatred towards others.

No real and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians will ever take root by falsifying history. Israelis and Jews everywhere have to undergo a serious re-education process for what they did to the Palestinians. They have to learn the facts and recognize their responsibility. And not withstanding what compromises the leaders on both sides agree upon, Palestinians cannot forgive without an Israeli recognition of what they did to the Palestinians. It is perhaps the historic role of the Palestinians to help Zionist Israelis and Jews everywhere to get rid of their entrenched racist and anti-other attidues. Israel can never become a normal country, accepted by the entire world, without Palestinian absolution, just as the Jews did with Germany.


Liberating America From Israel


Nine-eleven would not have occurred if the U.S. government had refused to help Israel humiliate and destroy Palestinian society. Few express this conclusion publicly, but many believe it is the truth. I believe the catastrophe could have been prevented if any U.S. president during the past 35 years had had the courage and wisdom to suspend all U.S. aid until Israel withdrew from the Arab land seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.


Sharon's Favorite Senator


It is not often that we get to hold our elected representatives accountable. And so, I was very happy for the chance when Oregon Senator Ron Wyden recently made a public appearance in Klamath Falls. Wyden fielded questions and generally impressed me as a thoughtful, caring, and articulate individual, that is, until I questioned him about the Mideast--at which point Wyden dissembled and intelligence went flying out the window.


Israel: The Threat from Within


It is extremely unlikely that the US will reengage seriously in the peace process and press for the implementation of the roadmap, or finally take a clear position on the territorial issue prior to the forthcoming presidential election, or anytime soon thereafter. It is therefore hard to imagine what will prevent a descent into chaos in the occupied territories, where the writ of the Palestinian Authority is giving way to the anarchy of criminal gangs and of local warlords. The complete collapse of the Palestinian Authority, which may be imminent, would very probably rule out the two-state option, for there would be no central authority capable of delivering a Palestinian commitment to—much less the implementation of—the terms of any Israeli–Palestinian peace accord. Unless Israelis are willing to preserve their majority status by imposing a South African–style apartheid regime, or to complete the transfer begun in 1948, as Morris believes they will— policies one hopes a majority of Israelis will never accept—it is only a matter of time before the emerging majority of Arabs in Greater Israel will reshape the country's national identity. That would be a tragedy of historic proportions for the Zionist enterprise and for the Jewish people.

What will make the tragedy doubly painful is that it will be happening at a time when changes in the Arab world and beyond (i.e. the Saudi initiative of 2002, the removal of Saddam Hussein, Syrian isolation, Libya's amazing opening to Israel and removal of its WMD program, and the opening of Iran's nuclear facilities to international inspection) are removing virtually every strategic security threat that for so long endangered Israel's existence. That existence is now threatened by the greed of the settlers and the political blindness of Israel's leaders.


Hitting the wall
By Gideon Levy
Along the route of the mighty `Jerusalem envelope,' just before its completion.

Failed predictions
By Amira Hass


By the middle of 2003 the planners of the route of the fence had full backing - from the political system, from the print and the electronic media, from the street and from key figures in the Israeli peace camp. The idea of the fence, without going into detail, offered people frightened by the suicide terror attacks a hope that their personal security was achievable with no connection to any political solution. It offered a refuge from the disturbing knowledge that Israel is evading an offer of a sustainable political, humane, rational solution that the Palestinians can accept.

The military plan to build elevated bridges and sunken roads between the enclaves is a bone thrown to international public opinion and another vain solution offered to the Israelis that diverts attention from the essence. The planners of the route that harms the Palestinians are doing this on behalf of the state of Israel, which almost unhindered has built in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip a regime of Jewish superiority that inevitably violates the rights of the Palestinian individual and collective. Key parts of Israeli society have become blind to the damage, and the occupation regime is as much taken for granted as the sunrise in the east.


These are the Generations of Mankind
by Aron Trauring


The real threat to the survival of the Jewish people is insularity. The Talmud says: "if you want to know what the law is go to the marketplace." In other words, it is the behavior of the people that establishes what is normative. Most Jews marry gentiles, no matter what the Jewish establishment says or does. By seeing this behavior as a threat rather than an opportunity, the Jewish people are condemning our culture to being shared by an ever-shrinking remnant. Instead of pushing people away by acting superior and exclusive, shouldn't the Jewish people welcome anyone who cares to share with us?

And this insularity is also the source of the rebirth of Bar Kokhba's zealous nationalism. Once again the Jewish people are being led to a national disaster by the followers of Akiva's values. What Jewish value can be more important than Ben Azzai's: "These are the generations of mankind?" It is this value that is being trampelled daily in our war against the Palestinians. It is this value which all those who oppose this war, are trying to uphold. It is this value which is the key to Jewish survival.


 01:15 PM - link

digital photography

This post by Joerg at Conscientious was brought on by an email from me. It's well worth a read and not just because he agrees with me and I agree with him.

Digital Photography


But let's talk about actual photography a bit more. I think that third, digital cameras in a wide range of cases are a bad choice for people who're interested in creative photography. Provided you got a high-end model you can do pretty much everything you can do with a film camera - if you know how to do it. Some of the problems might be a little bit different but you really have to know lots of photographic techniques. But if you're interested in anything that's not run-of-the-mill you're in trouble. Yesterday, I looked at a website where somebody had taken moody b/w photos. They looked nice but somehow, they all looked very similar. And sure enough, they were taken digitally - using a normal colour photo, converting it into b/w, and doing the Photoshop on them. What's missing in digital photography is the kind of unpredictability that goes into a lot of photography. This is especially important if you're interested in stuff like toy camera or Polaroid photography. Also digital grain doesn't look like film grain. Digital technologies are too perfect. People are now getting back to using older or low resolution digital cameras to exploit the artefacts those cameras produce. That will be a whole new field of toy camera photography.


It's not digital photography vs film photography. This is not an either/or situation. I'm moving back to film for most of what I want to shoot, but I'm not giving up my digital printing. It's what supports your vision. I also particularly like Joerg's comments on unpredictability. Here are some other very interesting thoughts on using digital cameras from the latest issue of Lenswork. Unfortunately, it's in a pdf file that is a preview of the current issue. On page 6...

Tool as Door

 12:11 PM - link

iraq — vietnam on internet time

This is a must must read.

"When Will We Stop Dying So Senselessly?"


Over the Christmas holidays I managed to find two US soldiers who were back from Iraq. They were both somewhat willing to be interviewed and describe their time in Iraq in their own words. One was imminently returning to Iraq within a few days and the other was home for an unknown length of time. Both knew at some point they would be returning to a bloody guerrilla conflict, and they did not know if they would be coming back.

JS - Let me ask you how you feel about serving in Iraq and being involved in the war.

SOLDIER 2 - I’m proud that I served my country, I am proud to be an American soldier. That is why it is so hard for me to say stuff like this about our leaders and the government. I hate doing this, but what the Pentagon and Bush are doing to our soldiers makes me sick. I also get sick when I think about how many Iraqi civilians I saw killed and terribly maimed. I have seen hundreds of kids missing body parts or dying from dysentery and diarrhea from contaminated water. I saw orphans who had lost every family member and were starving in the street.

There are whole packs of orphans roaming around Baghdad and some of the other cities. They scavenge for scraps and beg for food. It got really bad after the Red Cross and the UN pulled out. Seeing hundreds and hundreds of maimed and starving children is one sight you will never forget. I can’t sleep sometimes, and I hear the kids crying in my nightmares. I saw little kids with injuries like I never dreamed possible.

I was near a hospital for a few weeks after the ground war ended. I saw hundreds of dead kids, and kids dying from gangrene and infection. If you ever smell someone who has severe gangrene and flesh rotting you would know what I was talking about. That is one smell you will never forget. To see a little child with their arm or leg rotting off is one of the most gruesome sights I could have imagined.

I never was prepared for anything like I experienced in Iraq. There is no way in hell that the Army can train you to be able to handle something like that. No amount of practice can even come close to the reality I found in Iraq. There just wasn’t anything to prepare any of us who had never been in that kind of combat environment. I thought I had seen some really nasty shit in Bosnia and then in Kosovo. Boy was I ever wrong about that being as bad as it could get. I feel sorry for the newer guys who hadn’t ever seen any combat, or ever shot at a real person.

Coming under fire was another thing that fucked up some of my guys who had never seen any action before. Some of them just froze and got shot because they just didn’t have the proper training to react the right way.

I must have seen at least five hundred dead bodies, and those were just the ones you could see in plain sight. We could smell the ones that hadn’t been found in the rubble, and there were bodies in some of the canals rotting for days or weeks. Some of those canals were downright ugly looking, and the smell was incredibly foul.


  thanks to The American Street

Pentagon eager to wash hands of Iraq mess it created


"Iraq is now a contaminated environment and Rumsfeld and his people want out," said one senior administration official. "They can't wait for July 1 when the CPA (Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority) turns into the U.S. Embassy and the whole mess they have made becomes Colin Powell's."


  thanks to Eschaton

Democracy and robbery
Washington wants to outsource Iraqi sovereignty, but its grip on the country is growing weaker


If you believe the White House, the future government of Iraq is being designed in Iraq. If you believe the Iraqi people, however, it is being designed in the White House. Technically, neither is true; Iraq's future government is being engineered in an anonymous research park in suburban North Carolina.


Money for Iraq fight running out


AS the carnage in Iraq continued last night, US military chiefs warned they would run out of money for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq at the end of September unless President George W. Bush asked Congress for more funds.


  thanks to Information Clearing House

 11:40 AM - link

fixed-gear progress

The front fork is stripped and I should be finishing stripping the frame today. Seeing the real steel under the paint almost makes me wish that I could keep it that way. It has it's own beauty.

I've created another page on this site to collect all the links to my bicycle posts and other assorted bicycle and fixed-gear sites.

Here is a fixed-gear article from the amazing fixed gear gallery.

the fixed gear purist cult mentality thing


Deciding to ride a fixed gear bicycle seems counterintuitive. You give up a couple dozen gears for just one. You forever renounce coasting. You have to explain yourself to the abundantly geared the same way someone who listens to phonograph records has to explain himself to electronic enthusiasts. To an outsider, riding fixed seems like the rough and thorny way to heaven. Those who've ridden fixed, though, know that it is something that has to be experienced to be appreciated. Not coincidentally, those who do give it a turn often never go back.

First off, no one is so obsessed with weight as the cyclist. I’ve seen some compare different brands of bar tape hoping to save a few grams. One way to save not only ounces but pounds is to start ripping off any parts that aren't absolutely necessary. Take off the rear brake (or for some wayward souls, take off both brakes). Scrap all but one chainring. Derailleur and chain tensioner? History. Shorten up that chain. Rebuild the rear wheel with a new hub and a cog. Align the chain and then lift the bike and feel how much lighter it is. Going titanium will surely save you some weight, but if weight is a major factor, it is easier and much more economical to just start dropping parts.


 11:19 AM - link


This is a must read. It makes me sick.

Stewardess ID'd Hijackers Early, Transcripts Show


Hearing the taped voice of a courageous flight attendant as she calmly narrated the doomed course of American Airlines Flight 11 brought it all back. The frozen horror of that September morning two and a half years ago. The unanswered questions. Betty Ong narrated that first hijacking right up to the moment that Mohamed Atta drove the Boeing 767 into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Twenty-three minutes into her blow-by-blow account, Ong’s voice abruptly ceased. "What’s going on, Betty?" asked her ground contact, Nydia Gonzalez. "Betty, talk to me. I think we might have lost her."

Emotional catharsis, yes. There was scarcely a dry eye in the Senate hearing room where 10 commissioners are probing the myriad failures of our nation’s defenses and response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But answers? Not many. The most shocking evidence remains hidden in plain sight.



  thanks to Eschaton

9/11 panel to seek testimony from Bush


The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks will soon ask President Bush, former President Clinton and their vice presidents to testify in public about possible warnings they might have received from U.S. intelligence sources before the attacks.


 10:39 AM - link


The story below about David Burnett and his Speed Graphic caused something to snap in me. I got my pre-WWII 4x5 Speed Graphic down off the shelf and put it on my tripod. Fortunately, I soon returned to normal. Well, not really. I had several 4x5s back in the 70s. A classic Calumet, replaced by a jewel of a Nagaoka. I also have some 5x7 negs taken in an antique Kodak. And a couple of Speed Graphics. A 3x4 and the 4x5. The Speed Graphics are the only large format cameras I still have. Neither are really very useful. But the urge for a 4x5 field has been back lately. It doesn't help to read about others getting into large format. The problem with the Speed Graphic is the very limited front movements. (I do like to keep those pesky verticals from converging.) I went back to the best site on Speed Graphics...

Welcome to Graflex.Org

This time I found the Speed Graphic that has the movements I need...

Super Graphic / Super Speed Graphic


A little googling brought me back to Stephen Gandy's CameraQuest site...

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Super Graphic!


If you want the most features for the least bucks in a 4x5 Press/Field cameras, the Super Graphic is tough to beat. With its long list of desirable features, many photogs consider the Super Graphic as the best overall Graphic Press Camera. Toyo liked it so much of it they bought the rights to remanufacture it in the 70's for the Japanese home market.


Even worse, eBay has a couple for sale now. Fortunately, I don't have the money.

And Kodak has a new Tri-X.


There is something about focusing on a ground glass and then sliding the film holder in and removing the dark slide. And printing with that large negative.


My precioussssssss...

 10:30 AM - link

valerie plame affair

This has been quiet but it just may be that the noose is tightening just a bit.

Top Bush Aide Is Questioned in C.I.A. Leak


President Bush's press secretary and a former White House press aide testified on Friday to a federal grand jury investigating who improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer, the press secretary and a lawyer for the aide said on Monday.

The appearances of the press secretary, Scott McClellan, and the press aide, Adam Levine, reflected what lawyers in the case said was the quickening pace of a criminal inquiry in which a special prosecutor is examining conversations between journalists and the White House.

When he was asked by reporters on Monday whether he had been questioned in the case, Mr. McClellan said he had been filmed by news organizations as he emerged from the federal courthouse. "I think that confirms it for you," he said.

On Monday, a lawyer for Mr. Levine said the White House aide had also appeared on Friday.

Mr. Levine left the Bush administration in December after working as the principal liaison between the White House and television networks. Mr. Levine's lawyer, Daniel J. French, said, "In keeping with the president's request, Mr. Levine is cooperating with the Justice Department's investigation and in doing so appeared before the grand jury on Friday."

In addition to the grand jury appearances, which are believed to include other Bush administration officials, prosecutors have conducted meetings with presidential aides that lawyers in the case described as tense and sometimes combative.


 01:34 AM - link


David Burnett — Photojournalist

Four Baluch elders sit inside a tent at a refugee camp
near Kandahar, Afghanistan.


  thanks to Conscientious

Dispatch: Life on the Road with Holders and a Speed
by David Burnett


Let's just say this may not have been the most well thought out idea I've had recently.

Even as I happily enter the world of digital photography, parts of me want to look back on our photographic heritage, and see if it's possible to use the old techniques in a world of Compact Flash cards. Like most magazine photographers, I was able to enter the digital world at, more or less, my own pace, starting with a Canon G-1 and G-2 (mainly for using to check lighting, and later on, doing infrared) and progressing to the 10D which I'm now using. The joys of new aren't completely unbridled however. The excitment of seeing my pictures immediately is slightly skewed by the fact that when I'm really working, and sending images to clients, I never get to bed before 1 or 2 a.m. Like all reportage photography, it's no place for the weary or uninspired. Last spring, having chosen not to go to Iraq for the war, I made an attempt to tell some of the Washington side of the story. I have long been a fan of the wonderful Peruvian photographer Martin Chambi, who lived a century ago, documenting life in Cuzco with his big view cameras, and taking pictures which continue to inspire me everyday. So, with a digital camera on one shoulder, and a Rolleiflex on the other, I put an old Speed Graphic (is that redundant? aren't they ALL old?) on a tripod, and grabbed a few holders of tri-x and made an attempt to capture some of the Washington players of the war (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and President Bush). Some of the images intrigued me, and while they were not totally successful, the idea was born. To see if I could somehow match our photographic ancestors and bring this different LOOK to politics.

I never shot 4x5 in high school, as we had already gone on to the Rollei twin lens. Later, I was a student of 35mm for several decades, and now that its not really fashionable, I'm really enjoying being the "guy with the big camera." People wonder what it is youre bringing in on the tripod, and it can be a pain, but when you look at the ground glass, and see it in a way that no one else will, it gives you strength to keep schlepping. My favorite "4x5" story involved Francis "Nig" Miller, a LIFE photographer in the 50s and 60s, who I met when he came to Salt Lake City for a day, following Lady Bird Johnson. Miller was complaining about his chestful of Nikons, and said, in a poetic moment "The trouble with these damn Nikons is, you hit someone with it, they go down but they get right back up." He paused for a minute, then almost smiled and allowed "Now, with a Speed Graphic, you hit somebody, they're gonna stay DOWN!" I haven't had to whack anyone with mine yet, but it's reassuring to know that if I have to, at least the guy won't be getting up soon.


  thanks to Conscientious

 01:16 AM - link


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
by Paul Krugman


We expect politicians to place a positive spin on economic news, but to insist that things are going great when many people have personal experience to the contrary seems foolish. Mr. Bush's father lost the 1992 election in large part because he was perceived as being out of touch with the difficulties faced by ordinary Americans. Why is Mr. Bush — whose poll numbers are a bit worse than his father's were at this point in 1992 — running the risk of repeating his experience?

The answer, I think, is that the younger Mr. Bush has no choice. He has literally gone for broke, with repeated tax cuts that have fed a $500 billion deficit. To justify policies that more and more people call irresponsible, he must claim that wonderful things are happening as a result.

For a while, that famous 8 percent growth rate seemed to be just what he needed. But in the fourth quarter, growth dropped to 4 percent. And as we've seen, the jobs still aren't there.

So Mr. Bush must put on a brave face. He and his officials must talk up weak economic statistics as if they represented stunning success, and predict marvelous things any day now. After all, they have to keep this up for only nine more months.


 12:57 AM - link


Images of Venus


Venera-9 (1975)

Using cameras designed by A.S. Selivanov's team, Venera 9 sent image telemetry for 50 minutes. It scanned 174° of the panorama from left to right, and then 124° scanning right to left.



  thanks to The Cartoonist

 12:49 AM - link


Subject: In defense of Biblical marriage


The Presidential Prayer Team is currently urging us to: "Pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions of marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored by our government." This is true.

Any good religious person believes prayer should be balanced by action. So here, in support of the Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)


  thanks to Undernews

 12:43 AM - link

  Monday   February 9   2004

beatles valentine tribute

I've been doing maintenance on Christine Lavin's website while Zoe is sick (she usually does it). I just put up an mp3 she did as a valentine to the Beatles in honor of the 40th anniversary of their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Feb. 9, 1964. Go there and download it. It's quite wonderful.

 01:28 PM - link


Vee Speers


As an aside, the above images were printed with an interesting process...


 12:55 PM - link

president awol

It's Not Just About "AWOL"


There's no question that the idea that Bush may have been AWOL during part of his tenure in the Guard is intriguing. But it's not nearly the most offensive aspect of his military history, and it's mired in uncertainty. We need to avoid getting caught up in the legalistic AWOL/not-AWOL arguments, and focus on what Bush himself admits when asked how he got out of the Guard 8 months early: "I was going to Harvard Business School and worked it out with the military."

Imagine with me a soldier named Joe Smith, from Southeast DC. Corporal Smith joined the DC Guard to pay for his undergrad degree at UDC -- he was the first member of his family to earn a four-year degree. Smith has been posted in Tikrit for the past six months, and despite the fact that his Guard commitment was due to end on Dec. 31, he isn't allowed to leave the service, due to Bush's stop-loss orders. But Smith applied to business schools before leaving for Iraq, and has just been accepted into Howard Business School.

Will Corporal Smith, who has already served longer than the term for which he signed up -- and who has served in a war zone -- be able to "work it out with the military" so that he can go to the "other" HBS? Hell no. And that, folks, is a powerful testament to the arrogant sense of entitlement that permeates every cell of George Walker Bush. The fact that he can characterize his service as entirely honorable, and apparently believes that it was somehow normal to "work out" a deal with the military so that he could return to his Ivy League roots -- at the same time that he keeps Guard members in Iraq long past the time when they should have gone home -- is appalling and foreign to regular Americans.




No, this is not the sound that Barney makes when the White House staff is late with dinner. Rather, it's the beginning of yet another intriguing mystery regarding George Bush's service in the Air National Guard. Read on for more.

To begin, you need to recall the original mystery of the "torn document" that purports to show Bush's guard activity in 1972 and 1973 (details here and here if your memory is fuzzy). Question: is the document genuine? Or some kind of clever forgery?

Answer: it's real. Here's the untorn version, as delivered to Bob Fertik in response to a FOIA request in late 2000:

The answer, as you can see from the top line, is that it is an ARF document, as is this record from 1973-74. So what is ARF? I asked Bob Rogers, a retired Air National Guard pilot who's been following this for some time, and what follows is his interpretation of what happened.

ARF is the reserves, and among other things it's where members of the guard are sent for disciplinary reasons. As we all know, Bush failed to show up for his annual physical in July 1972, he was suspended in August, and the suspension was recorded on September 29. He was apparently transferred to ARF at that time and began accumulating ARF points in October.


David Neiwert has a couple of excellent pieces on this issue...

Talkin' AWOL

Tim Russert goes AWOL
Sunday, February 08, 2004

 12:43 PM - link


Scott Canterbury Campbell
East Texas Photographer

Scott has several series including this remarkable personal collection featured in the latest issue of LensWork. After his mother died, his father moved in with Scott and his wife. He would drive his dad out to the old home that had remainded untouched after the death of Scott's mother. After his dad died, Scott took these pictures. Pictures of a loved parent seen through the artifacts left behind.


Some really nice series including...



 12:32 PM - link


Stock Market Goin' Up, Jobs Goin' Down


George W. Bush, the Funky President, is having the worst term in office when it comes to jobs of anyone since World War II. Click the little graph to get the details. People, it's bad.



The New Math


The January employment report came out today, and I found it more interesting -- which is to say, less mindnumbingly dull -- than usual. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has completed its annual benchmark revisions to the payroll job numbers, and the results make it even clearer just how disturbingly strange the current "job-killing" economic recovery has been.


Money for Nothing


While I'm on the subject of economics (see The New Math, below) I thought I'd update the following chart, which illustrates the degree to which the finances of the U.S. government have wandered away into the Twilight Zone.


 11:46 AM - link


Li Zhensheng


The project to bring Li Zhensheng’s photographs of the Cultural Revolution to the wider world was first conceived fifteen years ago in Beijing. It was there, at the Chinese Press Association's photography competition in March 1988, that Li first publicly exhibited twenty images from his “negative” negatives – that is, those which had been deemed counterrevolutionary under the political dictates of Chairman Mao Zedong. The affect of the exhibit, entitled “Let History Tell the Future”—which included pictures of the former governor of Heilongjiang Province having his hair brutally torn out at a Red Guard rally—was seismic, and Chinese Communist Party-controlled newspapers for the first time were heard to use the term, “shocked.”

Beginning in 1999, work got under way. First, there was the delicate matter of bringing the negatives to New York. These were frames Li had cut from his negatives strips at the Heilongjiang Daily throughout the sixties, kept hidden under the floorboards of his home during the height of Red Guard storm, and — as is natural in China ever since in relation to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution— didn’t much talk about. They arrived at Contact's offices in several batches comprised of multiple bundles of brown paper envelopes, each containing a single negative. There would be about 30,000 such envelopes, each of which would be carefully examined by Pledge over and over during the many rounds of editing.



  thanks to Conscientious

ZoneZero also has some additional images...

Red — Color News Soldier

  thanks to Conscientious

 11:38 AM - link

iraq — vietnam on internet time

Assassinations Tear Into Iraq's Educated Class


A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Mayah, a 53-year-old political scientist and human rights advocate known in his neighborhood here as "the professor," was driving to work when eight masked gunmen jumped in front of his car. They yanked him into the street, the police said, and shot him nine times in front of his bodyguard and another university lecturer.

In an instant, he became one of hundreds of intellectuals and midlevel administrators who Iraqi officials say have been assassinated since May in a widening campaign against Iraq's professional class.


A must see...

Thanks for the Memories

 11:26 AM - link


Tools for travellers


Visited States
Make a map of the US States you've visited.




Those are the states I've been in.

 11:13 AM - link

the reign of error

Get Me Rewrite!
by Paul Krugman


Right now America is going through an Orwellian moment. On both the foreign policy and the fiscal fronts, the Bush administration is trying to rewrite history, to explain away its current embarrassments.


Tuning Out the G.O.P.'s Siren Song
by Bob Herbert


But there are other currents moving through this election season that may tend to pull some diverse segments of the population closer together politically. For example, there are few things worse for a president seeking re-election than large numbers of jobless voters. Even in a state as solidly pro-Bush as South Carolina, the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters is a staggering loss of jobs.

Neal Thigpen, a political science professor at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., said he believes that President Bush will carry the state easily in the fall. But he told me: "I don't think Bush will do as well as he did four years ago. I think his stock is down a little. I'm not gonna kid you."


An Experiment in Transparency


These documents are drawn from a collection of 19,000 files of Paul H. O'Neill, the U.S. Treasury Secretary for the first two years of the Presidency of George W. Bush. Like all Treasury Secretaries, O'Neill was the top domestic appointment of the President and also a principal of the National Security Council. The files, which range from memoranda to the President to handwritten notes to "sensitive" internal reports, cover a sweeping array of foreign and domestic issues. They also display the attending political and personal matters that often determine policy. They were collected as part of a Treasury Department archiving process in which every item that crossed O'Neill's desk, from every department in government, was copied into a TIF, or image, file. Documents cited in the "The Price of Loyalty" are presented with explanations of context and little comment. They speak, as does all irrefutable evidence, for themselves. More files of compelling public interest will be released in the coming days and weeks.


 11:05 AM - link

fixie project

I made it down to my local bicycle shop. (See the beginning of my fixed-gear bicycle project.) The frame is now all apart. The picture shows the parts that can be saved. The bag has the head set and bottom bracket — worn but servicable, with the addition of new bearings. The saddle and pedals will come off my road bike. I've started stripping the paint off the front forks. I will be going over to Blaine's later on in the week to remove the cable stops. He has a torch and knows how to apply heat safely to a frame. I should have the frame mostly stripped by then. Then I can start painting and reassembling.

 10:54 AM - link

global climate change

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.


Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.

The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade—like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies—thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power.

Though triggered by warming, such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. Worse, it would cause massive droughts, turning farmland to dust bowls and forests to ashes. Picture last fall's California wildfires as a regular thing. Or imagine similar disasters destabilizing nuclear powers such as Pakistan or Russia—it's easy to see why the Pentagon has become interested in abrupt climate change.


  thanks to follow me here...

 09:53 AM - link

bicycle art

Bike Works NYC
Chainring Archive


Chainrings come in several forms for all kinds of bikes. Some folks call them chainwheels, crankwheels, or front sprockets. Others call them stars, plates, or rings.
In French, plateaux;
in Spanish, platos;
in Italian, ingranaggi;
in German, Kettenrader;
in Dutch, kettingbladen.

They must fit solid with the crank axle, unyielding under the force that pedals the bike: you. They also must be as round as humanly possible, close to a perfect circle: Pi (3.14...).



 09:48 AM - link


Feds Win Right to War Protesters' Records


In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.


  thanks to Counterspin Central

More on peace activist subpoenas


Yesterday, February 3, Detective Jeff Warford of the Polk County Sheriff's Office-FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force came to Catholic Peace Ministry's office here in Des Moines with a subpoena for me to testify before a Federal Grand Jury next Tuesday, February 10. Mr. Warford also served papers on Elton Davis at the Catholic Worker House and Patti McKee, who was coordinator of Iowa Peace Network until last month. The Grand Jury process is shrouded in secrecy. We do not know who or what the object of this investigation may be, beyond "possible violations of federal criminal law in the Southern District of Iowa."

The proceeding will be behind closed doors. We may not have an attorney present. We have the right to plead the Fifth Amendment, refusing the answer questions that might incriminate us. The government, then, can offer us immunity from prosecution, in which case we will obliged to answer under threat of contempt of court and could be imprisoned for the length of the Grand Jury session, 18 months, should we continue to refuse to answer. This immunity would be limited to our own testimony and anything any of us say could be used against the others.


 01:06 AM - link

music art

A Well-Imagined Star


"I went to a flea market, and there was a huge record collection there, at least 20 boxes," Mr. Hadar said, recalling the morning of the discovery. "I was going through that very happily when I came across this box full of strange hand-painted album covers. I realized they were fake and was about to put them back, but then I looked at them more closely."

Pulling the records out of the sleeves, he was surprised to find that they were made not of vinyl but of cardboard. Each had been cut in the shape of a record, with grooves and a hand-lettered label painted on. Nearly all the albums were credited to an unknown black musician named Mingering Mike, and dated from 1968 to 1976.

The front covers were intricately painted to look like classic funk albums; on the spines were titles and fake catalog numbers; the backs had everything from liner notes to copyright information to original logos; the inner sleeve was often a shopping bag meticulously taped together to hold a record; and some actually opened to reveal beautiful gatefold sleeves. A few albums had even been covered in shrink-wrap and bore price stickers and labels with apocryphal promotional quotes.


  thanks to allied

 01:00 AM - link

valerie plame affair

John Hannah Allegedly Focus of Plame Probe


Richard Sale, respected intelligence reporter for UPI, has given credibility to a story that had been rumored for several weeks . It is that the FBI investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame is increasingly focusing on two officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby and John Hannah. Sale assures me that the information is solid.


Scooter Libby in the crosshairs

Ex-envoy won't back off of Bush
Wilson says his wife was smeared because of his Iraq stance


Any thought that public ridicule and the exposure of his wife as an undercover CIA agent might quiet former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in his criticism of the Bush administration has missed the mark by a mile.


 12:54 AM - link

early office

Early Office Museum


  thanks to wood s lot

 12:49 AM - link

false advertising


  thanks to the bitter shack of resentment

 12:40 AM - link