Weblog Archives




  Friday   August 22   2003

Once again the Palestinians stop terrorist activities and give the Israelis a chance to show they want peace. And once again the Israelis demonstrate they have no intention of stopping, or even slowing down, their depredations against the Palestinians. And once again, I'm sure, the U.S. press will blame the Palestinians for fighting for their survival.

Who Violated the Hudna?
by Gideon Levy

The next terror strike is on its way. You don't need to be an expert on terror, or a compulsive gambler, to foresee that Islamic Jihad will try very soon to avenge the death of Mohammed Sider, the head of the organization's military wing in Hebron.

Experience teaches that virtually every such assassination breeds a terror attack. This week, in response to the slaying of Hamas men Hamis Abu-Salam and Faiz A-Sadar at Nablus' Askar refugee camp—assassinations accompanied by the killing of two innocent men, Fazi Al-Alamiand Mahmoud a-Tak—reprisals were not long in coming. These came as two suicide attacks, at Ariel and at Rosh Ha'ayin.

Much as Israel claims that the Palestinians are violating the truce and regrouping in order to perpetrate savage acts of terror, its pleading can't alter the facts: up until Israel renewed its assassinations campaign, there were no suicide bombings, and the two attacks last week were direct responses to the Askar refugee camp slayings.

Is this fact on the minds of the assassinations' planners each time they plot another operation? How can anyone seriously contend that the assassinations contribute to Israeli security since each one leads directly to the killing of Israeli civilians? Since 2000, Israel has in such operations liquidated 136 Palestinians, along with dozens of innocent victims, and terror has yet to be extinguished. Dozens of Israelis have been killed in retaliation, and yet Israel continues to wield this dubious weapon, which abrogates international law and is ineffective.

How the truce was broken

Killing of Hamas leader ends truce

Five Israeli missiles incinerated Ismail Abu Shanab in Gaza City yesterday, killing one of the most powerful voices for peace in Hamas and destroying the ceasefire that Palestinian leaders believed would avert civil war.

Hamas declared an immediate end to the truce and vowed a bloody revenge for the death of Abu Shanab, who was married with 11 children.

"This means Sharon does not believe in peace," Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, one of the founders of Hamas, said. "The ceasefire is dead. There will be very strong retaliation."

Israel vows to kill more Palestinian militants

Israel plans to kill more Palestinian militants, military officials warned, as thousands of Palestinians gathered for the funeral of the Hamas leader killed yesterday, promised thunderous revenge.

 10:52 AM - link


Fred Bremner's Indian Years 1883-1923

These rare albumen photographs by Fred Bremner show Sindh and Baluchistan province in 1889. They are among the earliest known photographs of the area. Bremner had studios in Quetta and Karachi at the time and was the first photographer to extensively photograph British Baluchistan.

Chapper Rift Baluchistan


This part of a wonderful site...


Glimpses of South Asia before 1947

  thanks to Sugar'n Spicy

 10:33 AM - link


The results of Wolfie's latest poll...

wood_s_lot brought this blog to my attention.

Baghdad Burning
... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation.

Today's Baghdad Burning...

Setting the Record Straight

I’m going to set the record straight, once and for all.

I don’t hate Americans, contrary to what many people seem to believe. Not because I love Americans, but simply because I don’t hate Americans, like I don’t hate the French, Canadians, Brits, Saudis, Jordanians, Micronesians, etc. It’s that simple. I was brought up, like millions of Iraqis, to have pride in my own culture and nationality. At the same time, like millions of Iraqis, I was also brought up to respect other cultures, nations and religions. Iraqi people are inquisitive, by nature, and accepting of different values- as long as you do not try to impose those values and beliefs upon them.

Although I hate the American military presence in Iraq in its current form, I don’t even hate the American troops… or wait, sometimes I do:

- I hated them all through the bombing. Every single day and night we had to sit in terror of the next bomb, the next plane, the next explosion. I hated them when I saw the expression of terror, and remembrance, on the faces of my family and friends, as we sat in the dark, praying for our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the survival of Iraq.

- I hated them on April 11- a cool, gray day: the day our family friend lost her husband, her son and toddler daughter when a tank hit the family car as they were trying to evacuate the house in Al-A’adhamiya district- an area that saw heavy fighting.

- I hated them on June 3 when our car was pulled over for some strange reason in the middle of Baghdad and we (3 women, a man and a child) were made to get out and stand in a row, while our handbags were rummaged, the men were frisked and the car was thoroughly checked by angry, brisk soldiers. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words the humiliation of being searched.

On the other hand…

- I feel terrible seeing the troops standing in this merciless sun- wearing heavy clothes… looking longingly into the air-conditioned interiors of our cars. After all, in the end this is Baghdad, we’re Iraqi- we’ve seen this heat before.

- I feel bad seeing them stand around, drinking what can only be lukewarm water after hours in the sun- too afraid to accept any proffered ice water from ‘strange Iraqis’.

- I feel pity watching their confused, frightened expressions as some outraged, jobless, father of five shouts at them in a language they can’t even begin to understand.

It always saddens me to see that the majority of them are so young. Just as it isn’t fair that I have to spend my 24th year suffering this whole situation, it doesn’t seem fair that they have to spend their 19th, 20th, etc. suffering it either. In the end, we have something in common- we’re all the victims of decisions made by the Bush administration.

On the other hand… they’ll be back home, safe, in a month, or two or three or six… and we’ll be here having to cope with the mess of a homeland we have now.

Why the US Needs to Blame Anyone But Locals
What Osama Might Learn from UN Bombing
by Robert Fisk

It was always the same story. If it wasn't the enemy you were fighting, it was the enemy you knew you'd have to fight in the future.

Toward Permanent War?
Bush's Tinker-Toy Ideology

The terrible bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad has capped an accelerating series of sabotage actions against Iraqi water mains, oil pipelines, electricity grids--and US soldiers, hapless agents of this mess, who are killed daily. But most sharply, it highlights one fact: the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq announced by President Bush on May 1 was not the culmination of trouble but the beginning of an inevitable march into quagmire. The Bush administration has waded into a military adventure of breathtaking complexity brandishing a tonker-toy ideology of "spreading democracy," on some Napoleonic agenda to reconfigure the entire Middle East. Yet in the real world of Iraqi society and politics, that naiveté has proved disastrous.

Enough talk already Enough excuses and mumbo-jumbo. Our situation in Iraq is bad. But our situation in Washington is worse.

This evening we're very pleased to run the first half of our interview with al Qaida expert Peter Bergen. Part two will run Friday afternoon.

 10:21 AM - link


Something to spray
You may not have heard of him, but you've probably seen his work. From policemen with smiley faces to the Pulp Fiction killers firing bananas, Banksy's subversive images are daubed on walls everywhere - and now he's putting on an exhibition. Simon Hattenstone meets Britain's No 1 graffiti artist

Banksy is due any minute. The only trouble is I don't know what he looks like. Nobody here seems to know what he looks like. But they all know him. That is, they know of him. That is, if he is a he. The barman in the pub in Shoreditch, a trendy part of London with a whiff of the old East End, flushes when I mention Banksy and talks in a hushed voice. "Yes, I know Bansky. Well I used to, sort of. See, I'm from Bristol, and I was also involved in graffiti."

Is he in the pub at the moment? He shakes his head diffidently. He is not sure he would recognise him and if he did manage to point him out, thinks he could get into trouble. I tell him that I'm here to interview him. He doesn't believe me - Banksy doesn't do interviews. But he has agreed to one this time, though he laughs when we suggest a photograph.

Banksy is Britain's most celebrated graffiti artist, but anonymity is vital to him because graffiti is illegal. The day he goes public is the day the graffiti ends.

Banksy's website.

Banksy's show


 09:53 AM - link


The Brownshirt Barbie strikes again

While I've been re-running the "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" series,, it's become clear that I already need to update the chapter dealing with Ann Coulter and her prominent role as a "transmitter" of extremist memes into the mainstream -- something I've been tracking the past couple of months but haven't had the time to blog about.

During that time -- particularly with the release of her new book, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism -- she has shifted into a completely new realm, one in which the ideas and agenda she represents are unabashedly drawn from the extremist American right. (Of course, as usual, the book is also replete with crass falsehoods, bizarre distortions, documentation that contradicts the text, and sweeping generalizations. See Brendan Nyhan's thorough debunking at Spinsanity for more details.)

Of course, this extremism is present in the very title -- as well as the overriding theme of the book -- in that Coulter paints a portrait that presents well over half the population of the country, including many who have sacrificed their lives and well-being in the defense of the nation, as outright traitors. This is the kind of rhetorical thuggery that has raised itself in America on a few select occasions -- all of them associated with fascist and proto-fascist politics -- and its broad acceptance is a disturbing indication of the direction the national political dialogue is taking.

 09:23 AM - link


Guide to Early Instruments

The Tudor period in England was a time of revolutionary change. The Church, which was considered a cornerstone of civilisation, was in turmoil. The world turned from a comfortable, well-defined and God-given domain, with heaven above and hell below, to a huge globe, with no discernible up or down. Ships laden with untold riches and tall tales were arriving from newly discovered lands, forcing people to confront new ideas. The new territories gave rise to new rivalries between nations keen to exploit them. Even the English language changed, particularly in its pronunciation.

Music changed as much as any other area of life. For the first time, instrumental music broke free from vocal models, and music was composed specifically for instruments. New musical instruments were invented. Some of them were dropped almost immediately, and now survive only as illustrations to puzzle and confuse instrument makers. Some, like the bandora, had a brief but honourable career. Others, like the violin, are still with us. Old instruments like the fiddle, rebec and gittern either went out of fashion and disappeared, or were changed beyond recognition.

Assorted plucked strings, c.1610


  thanks to dublog

 09:18 AM - link

where did that country go?


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
New York City, 1883


Yousuf Mollah, mentally ill, killed by LAPD

On July 27 in Los Angeles, police responded to a complaint that Yousuf Mollah, a Bangladeshi with a long history of serious mental problems was exposing himself in the street outside his apartment.

Police arrived at his house at 6:30. They said Yousuf came to the door with a large knife and officer Alma Andrade ordered him to drop it. He didn't and instead lunged at her. She shot him once in the abdomen. That is the police account. Eyewitnesses said he didn't have a knife.

He crawled back into his apartment. The police waited 3 hours to call a SWAT team. Yousef's brother was there by 8 pm. They told him nothing about what was happening. One would think the police might ask the brother to help negotiate to get Yousuf out, but no, they never asked. Also, no medical help was ever called.

At 9:30 pm the SWAT team fired tear gas into the apartment, and at 10 pm they stormed in and found Yousuf had bled to death.

Yousuf, as mentioned, had serious mental problems. His family had tried at least 30 times to get him help. Under California law, you can be held for 72 hours to assess your mental health. He had been held many such times, but no facility could ever be found to house him. There's been so many budget cutbacks that many of these facilities have been forced to close.

Kripa also said that -- thanks to post 9/11 hysteria -- 13,000 immigrants are currently in custody and waiting to be deported back to their homelands. Many of them are "guilty" of technical offenses like not registering a change of address in time - hardly a sign they could be terrorists. And more than a few have fled to Canada to avoid being rounded up in the US and deported.

That's right, people are now fleeing the U.S. to avoid persecution -- unjust heavy-handed persecution that targets them because they are Muslim or because of their country of origin.

And Yousuf Mollah bled to death alone in his apartment.

 09:10 AM - link


The Virtual Mummy:
Unwrapping a Mummy by Mouse Click

The computer has entered our everyday life and did not stop before the field of mummy research. Computerization not only helps scientists in non-destructively examining mummies, but it also makes it possible to create virtual mummies, a sample of which can be seen by the visitors of the exhibition "The Secret of the Mummies - Eternal Life at the Nile", and by yourself on screen, with reduced functionality. The object is a 2300-year-old mummy of a female, aged about 30 years.


  thanks to dublog

 08:54 AM - link


Even the Obits are Going Against Bush

Buzz Davis laughed a good hard laugh.

"Oh, I would have loved to know that lady!" exclaimed the Stoughton activist and former Dane County supervisor.

Davis was talking about Sally Baron, who passed away Monday in Stoughton at age 71. Baron did not make a lot of news in her lifetime - she was busy working and raising six kids - but she went out with a message that warmed the hearts of Davis and a lot of other small-town Wisconsin progressives.

No one should slip the mortal coil without raging one last time against the dying of the light. And so Sally Baron did.

"Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush," reads Baron's obituary in today's editions of The Capital Times.

When I read that line, which her family decided to include in the obituary, I didn't need to see another word to be sure that Sally Baron was a native Wisconsinite rooted in the working-class progressive politics of this state.

And so she was.

No wonder, then, that Sally Baron bristled at the sight of George W. Bush. The wife of a miner who was injured in a pit accident, she raised six kids in a world our inherited and selected president could never imagine. Sally Baron's kids say she did not like the way Bush smirked when he spoke. Considering that he did not even win the most votes in the 2000 election, her thinking went, he could have been more humble.

Even before the recent scandal over Bush's State of the Union address, Baron also thought Bush had trouble telling the truth. Baron's daughter, Maureen Bettilyon, says her mother "thought he was a liar." "She'd always watch CNN, C-SPAN, and you know, she'd just swear at the TV and say, 'OH, Bush, he's such a whistle ass!' She'd get so mad," recalled Bettilyon.

Whistle ass. I love it.

 08:49 AM - link


Ray Massey


  thanks to Speckled Paint

 08:45 AM - link


Conan the Deceiver
by Paul Krugman

The key moment in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Wednesday press conference came when the bodybuilder who would be governor brushed aside questions with the declaration, "The public doesn't care about figures." This was "fuzzy math" on steroids — Mr. Schwarzenegger was, in effect, asserting that his celebrity gives him the right to fake his way through the election. Will he be allowed to get away with it?

Reporters were trying to press Mr. Schwarzenegger for the specifics so obviously missing from his budget plans. But while he hasn't said much about what he proposes to do, the candidate has nonetheless already managed to say a number of things that his advisers must know are true lies.

  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 08:38 AM - link


Holland Toys

Holland toys is specializing in high quality tin toys and advertisement items. Our website shows part of our stock, it gives you an impression of the kind of things we have for sale. If you have any question, you want to buy or to sell, if you are looking for specific items, please let us know!

Break ID 19 Citroen
Dinky Toys - Made in France
MIB Condition
€ 295,-


  thanks to Coudal Partners

I actually used to own one of these cars. A most interesting vehicle. Right up there with my 2-stroke Saabs.

 08:27 AM - link

  Thursday   August 21   2003


tell Bush to recall himself

Republicans in California have initiated a recall against the governor, giving three reasons for their effort:

1. The state's budget has gone from a sizeable surplus to a substantial deficit in a few short years.

2. Gov. Davis did not tell the truth to voters about the state's budget and economic situation.

3. The state's economy remains in dismal shape, and the chief executive of the state is ultimately responsible for it's welfare.

If we apply these standards to a governor, then they must also be applicable to a president. The next recall effort is long overdue: a Bush recall campaign.

  thanks to Eric Blume

Liberals launch traitorous parody of GWBush04.com

Bush-Orwell ‘04 today discovered a disrespectful and poorly-designed parody of the official campaign site which is spreading false information regarding George W. Bush’s record as President.

The official Bush-Orwell site, located on the internet at GWBush04.com, plans to file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission to stop the phony site from operating. The parody site, currently found on the web at georgewbush.com, is clearly designed to mimic the official Bush-Orwell site in an effort to confuse ordinary Americans.

Presidential Adviser Karl Rove took issue specifically with how President Bush’s record is depicted on the fake site.

“My beef is with the way georgewbush.com misrepresents the actual record of George W. Bush,” Rove said. “For instance, the site seems to communicate that Bush has a positive record when it comes to the environment. That just isn’t true. The skies and oceans are much more polluted now than when Bush came into office, and he’s never done a thing to reverse that.”

  thanks to Cursor

 12:58 PM - link

space exploration

Neil Armstrong
The Awful Truth

In 1969, Neil Armstrong made history by becoming the first man to walk on the moon, uttering the immortal phrase, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Or did he? Previously suppressed footage discovered by blogjam shows that Armstrong's reaction was a great deal more uninhibited than history suggests, and that a hasty editing job was needed to prepare the astronaut's moment of glory for broadcast.

So here, for the first time, is the unedited NASA film from the triumphant Apollo 11 mission.


  thanks to j p at Dumbmonkey

 12:41 PM - link


The results of Wolfie's latest poll...

A Price Too High
by Bob Herbert

How long is it going to take for us to recognize that the war we so foolishly started in Iraq is a fiasco — tragic, deeply dehumanizing and ultimately unwinnable? How much time and how much money and how many wasted lives is it going to take?

At the United Nations yesterday, grieving diplomats spoke bitterly, but not for attribution, about the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. They said it has not only resulted in the violent deaths of close and highly respected colleagues, but has also galvanized the most radical elements of Islam.

"This is a dream for the jihad," said one high-ranking U.N. official. "The resistance will only grow. The American occupation is now the focal point, drawing people from all over Islam into an eye-to-eye confrontation with the hated Americans.

"It is very propitious for the terrorists," he said. "The U.S. is now on the soil of an Arab country, a Muslim country, where the terrorists have all the advantages. They are fighting in a terrain which they know and the U.S. does not know, with cultural images the U.S. does not understand, and with a language the American soldiers do not speak. The troops can't even read the street signs."

Who wants to go to Iraq now?
by Robert Fisk

What United Nations nation would ever contemplate sending peacekeeping troops to Iraq now? The men who are attacking the United States' occupation army are ruthless, but they are not stupid. They know that President Bush is getting desperate, that he will do anything -- that he may even go to the dreaded Security Council for help -- to reduce U.S. military losses in Iraq.

But yesterday's attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad has slammed shut the door to that escape route.

A crisis of confidence: Attacks undermining U.S. agenda in Iraq

Former US diplomat says Rumsfeld led Bush to war

A former US diplomat who resigned over the Iraq (news - web sites) war described US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) as a "very weak" man led by the hand into battle by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

How America Created a Terrorist Haven

 12:33 PM - link


The origins of
Twelve String Power

It’s difficult to imagine what popular music would sound like without the 12-string guitar. Some of the most pervasive music of the last 60 years owes its power to the distinctive sound that Pete Seeger described as “the clanging of the bells.” Songs like “Goodnight, Irene,” Rock Island Line,” “Walk Right In,” Stairway to Heaven,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Hotel California” show what an important color the 12-string is in the sonic palette of 20th-century guitarists. Musicians as varied in style as Melissa Etheridge, Pete Seeger Leo Kottke, Leadbelly, Roger McGuinn, George Harrison, and Willie McTell have all made the 12-string an integral part of their music. In this article I’ll trace the development of the modern 12-string up through the players and makers who are guiding the instrument through the ‘90s

Blind Willie McTell


  thanks to gmtPlus9

 12:15 PM - link

the hutton inquiry

There is a remarkable inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly that is happening in England.


And there's more. Consider the Hutton inquiry itself. David Kelly killed himself on July 18th, Lord Hutton was chosen to lead an inquiry within days, the inquiry opened on August 1st, and it was taking evidence by August 11th. Hutton is apparently widely respected, has been given a wide remit to conduct the inquiry as he sees fit, and posts all the evidence in the case on the Web daily. All this despite the fact that Tony Blair controls Britain's government even more firmly than George Bush controls America's.

And here's the most surprising thing: my impression from following the testimony is that the inquiry is taken seriously by everybody, no one is refusing to testify, and — to a degree — the witnesses are all telling the truth.

This is really remarkable. In America, there would likely have been no inquiry at all since the minority party couldn't force one. If there were an inquiry, it would take months to get underway and would be headed by a Republican stalwart. The government would cooperate as little as possible. And it would be painfully obvious from the testimony that the witnesses were interested solely in protecting the president and themselves.

In America, the culture of politics has become so debased that we all take it for granted that investigations are little more than political shows and that no one is ever really telling the truth. I'm not suggesting that Britain is a paradise of integrity and public service, but they seem not to have fallen nearly as far down the well of cynicism as we have. I wonder why?

Here is the Hutton Inquiry website:

The Hutton Inquiry



Terms of Reference:
"...urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances
surrounding the death of Dr Kelly."


It takes a judge to cut through the fudge
Hutton has already shown that Parliament will have to reform the way it investigates future abuses of executive power

 12:10 PM - link

darkness, darkness

NYC during the blackout


  thanks to The J-Walk Weblog

 11:47 AM - link


Myth and denial in the War on Terrorism

In light of the several instances mentioned above -- and others can be given -- of U.S. officials giving the game away, in effect admitting that terrorists and guerrillas may be, or in fact are, reacting to perceived hurts and injustices, it may be that George W. is the only true believer among them, if in fact he is one. The leaders of the American Empire may well know -- at least occasionally when they're sitting alone at midnight -- that all their expressed justifications for invading Iraq and Afghanistan and for their "War on Terrorism" are no more than fairy tales for young children and grown-up innocents.

Officialdom doesn't make statements to represent reality. It constructs stories to pursue interests. And the interests here are irresistibly compelling: creating the most powerful empire in all history, enriching their class comrades, remaking the world in their own ideological image.

As I've written elsewhere: If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize -- very publicly and very sincerely -- to all the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. Then I would announce that America's global military interventions have come to an end. I would then inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but -- oddly enough -- a foreign country. Then I would reduce the military budget by at least 90 percent and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings, invasions and sanctions. There would be enough money. One year of our military budget is equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born. That's one year. That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House.

On the fourth day, I'd probably be assassinated.

  thanks to wood s lot

 11:41 AM - link


Museum of Depressionist Art

Benjy the Dwarf Cops a Feel


  thanks to wood s lot

 11:36 AM - link


In Memory of August 19, 1953
What Kermit Roosevelt Didn't Say

More importantly, however, I, along with many other Iranians of my generation, knew the story full well and did not need Kermit to repeat it. We knew that the shah owed his throne to the likes of Kermit. But we also knew something that Kermit didn't know, or didn't say. We knew that we owe to the Kermits of the world our tortured past: years of being forced as students to stand in the hot sun of Tehran in lines, waving his majesty's picture or flag as his entourage passed by in fast moving, shiny, big black cars with darkened-glass windows; years of being forced to rise and stay standing in every public event, including movie theaters, while his majesty's national anthem was being played; years of watching a dense megalomaniac try to imitate "Cyrus the Great" by wearing ridiculous ceremonial robes in extravagant celebration of his birthdays or crowning of his queens; years of being hushed by our parents, fearful of being arrested, if we uttered a critical word about his majesty's government or his American advisors; years of worrying about secret police (SAVAK) informants, who were smartly, but ruthlessly, trained by the best of the US's CIA and Israeli's Mossad; years of witnessing our friends and acquaintances being taken to jail, some never heard from again; years of passing by buildings in which, we were told, people were being tormented; years of hearing about people dying under torture or quietly executed; years of being exiled in a foreign country, which ironically was the belly of the beast, the metropolis, the center which masterminded much of our misfortune in the first place; years of spending our precious youth to free or save thousands of political prisoners by marching in the streets of the metropolis, wearing masks to hide our identities and looking bizarre to those who knew nothing about our story; and, finally, years of trying to prove to the American people that the 1953 CIA coup was not a fig-leaf of our imagination or a conspiracy theory, that it indeed happened and that they, whether they like it or not, have a certain culpability in what their government does around the world.

 11:31 AM - link


Focus: Asia

In the decades following the invention of photography in 1839, European photographers traveled to Asia, documenting cultures and landscapes with a realism previously unknown. Employing cumbersome large format cameras and delicate paper or glass plate negatives, these intrepid photographers captured the first images of Japan after it had been closed to the West for over 200 years; the first images of the forbidding Himalayan Mountain passes; the first images of bound-footed women and of grand golden temples.

Group of Samurai
photographer: Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934)
circa: 1880
location: Yokohama, Japan
hand painted albumen print


  thanks to plep

 11:24 AM - link

lying thieving capitalist bastards

Poisoned Chalice - Wherever it is Prescribed, a Dose of IMF Medicine Only Compounds Economic Crisis
by George Monbiot

One-and-a-half million people (almost 30% of the workforce) lost their jobs. The incomes of those who stayed in work declined by 24%; pensions fell by 31%. By 1996, most people were living on or around subsistence levels. Public services shrivelled. Between 1989 and 1998, the crime rate rose by 166%. This, we must remember, was the result of a process almost universally described as "the triumph of capitalism".

Then, in 1996, suddenly, without announcement or explanation, the policy changed. The banks were permitted to start issuing credit again and the recession, as a result, came to an immediate end. Over the next four years, industrial production climbed by 45% and gross domestic product by 21%. Wages and pensions began to rise again.

The experiment, in other words, could not have had a clearer outcome. You apply the IMF's medicine and the economy collapses. You stop, and the economy recovers. It has been repeated often enough for us to trust the results. In Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia and Argentina, the IMF's financial liberalisation and forced restrictions led to economic crisis, which was relieved only as those restrictions were lifted. Those nations which refused to take the medicine, even though they were confronting almost identical conditions (Malaysia, China, Poland) prospered while their neighbours collapsed.

So why, knowing what the results will be, does the IMF keep applying the same formula for disaster? It can hardly be through lack of expertise. The truth is that the results happen to suit its sponsors very well. While the IMF works mainly in poor nations, it is controlled, through its one-dollar, one-vote system, entirely by the rich. As a result, as Stiglitz says, its programmes reflect "the interests and ideology of the western financial community".

 11:17 AM - link


simon larbalestier


 11:11 AM - link

fair and balanced

Paul Newman Is Still HUD
by Paul Newman

The Fox News Network is suing Al Franken, the political satirist, for using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book. In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever.

Unreliable sources report that the Fox suit has inspired Paul Newman, the actor, to file a similar suit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly called HUD. Mr. Newman claims piracy of personality and copycat infringement.

In the 1963 film "HUD," for which Mr. Newman was nominated for an Academy Award, the ad campaign was based on the slogan, "Paul Newman is HUD." Mr. Newman claims that the Department of Housing and Urban Development, called HUD, is a fair and balanced institution and that some of its decency and respectability has unfairly rubbed off on his movie character, diluting the rotten, self-important, free-trade, corrupt conservative image that Mr. Newman worked so hard to project in the film. His suit claims that this "innocence by association" has hurt his feelings plus residuals.

A coalition of the willing — i.e., the Bratwurst Asphalt Company and the Ypsilanti Hot Dog and Bean Shop — has been pushed forward and is prepared to label its products "fair and balanced," knowing that Fox News will sue and that its newscasters will be so tied up with subpoenas they will only be able to broadcast from the courtroom, where they will be seen tearing their hair and whining, looking anything but fair and balanced, which would certainly be jolly good sport all around.

 11:04 AM - link

revisionist modernism

Ron English

English's series "REVISIONIST MODERNISM" personalizes and recontextualizes pivotal masterpieces of the twentieth century, the new configurations transubstantiating the original piece and highlighting the transcendent nature of art and ideals. The process opens a larger dialogue with art history and sparks a more inclusory dynamic with the public.

The New Luncheon on the Grass


  thanks to wood s lot

 11:01 AM - link

war against some drugs

The Drug Issue: Cops Against the Drug War
Some law-enforcement veterans like Jack Cole believe we're fighting for a lost cause.

They were two white guys cruising through the black part of Patterson, N.J., back in the 1970s. One was an undercover police officer named Jack Cole, the other an informant known as Fast Eddy. Posing as heroin buyers, they ran into trouble with three thugs who tried to rip them off and who slashed Fast Eddy's hand with a knife before being chased off.

Luckily, Cole recalls, a Good Samaritan came out into the road. He was a young black man who was going to college to get out of the ghetto. He said he didn't approve of drugs but felt bad about the white guys getting roughed up in the neighborhood. He went into his house to get bandages for Fast Eddy and then, since Cole continued to pretend like he needed a fix, brought them to a supplier who wouldn't take advantage of them.

Back at the precinct, Cole felt he had no choice but to include the Good Samaritan's name in his report. The Good Samaritan was duly charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, a charge that carried the same penalty as distribution: up to seven years in jail. Cole was at the station when the Good Samaritan was brought in. He looked Cole in the eye and said, "Man, I was trying to be your friend."

"So yeah, that got to me," Cole says now, his voice seeming to break and going quiet. Speaking by phone from his current home of Boston, the 64-year-old Cole is explaining why he ultimately turned against the war on drugs. He says he came to realize that he liked many of the people he was turning in—liked them better than some of the people he was working for—and that his betrayal of them, rather than drugs, was what destroyed their lives. "You can get over an addiction, but you can never get over a conviction," he likes to say.

Now retired after a 26-year career with the New Jersey State Police, Cole is leading a new group of current and former law-enforcement officials who are similarly disillusioned with the war on drugs. Called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, this nationwide organization takes as its premise that the war on drugs is, as Cole puts it, "a total and abject failure."

 10:54 AM - link


Gladys Dwindlebimmers Ralston Gallery of the Unidentifiable

Early Board Game?
Mesopotamia, 4,000 BCE
8 cm ~ Sun-baked clay, pigments


  thanks to wood s lot

 10:51 AM - link


US notches world's highest incarceration rate
A report highlights extent to which many citizens have served time in prison.

More than 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time there, according to a new report by the Justice Department released Sunday. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world.

It's the first time the US government has released estimates of the extent of imprisonment, and the report's statistics have broad implications for everything from state fiscal crises to how other nations view the American experience.

If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.

The numbers come after many years of get-tough policies - and years when violent-crime rates have generally fallen. But to some observers, they point to broader failures in US society, particularly in regard to racial minorities and others who are economically disadvantaged.

  thanks to wood s lot

 10:43 AM - link

  Tuesday   August 19   2003

wolf blitzer's latest poll

The results of Wolfie's latest poll...

There is still time to add you vote.

  thanks to Eschaton

 02:37 PM - link


'13 dead' in huge blast at UN HQ

Made in America

What we have here is a classic demonstration of asymmetrical warfare -- except in this case, the assymetry is all in favor of the resistance, and all against the coalition. Making a country an ungovernable hell is clearly a lot easier than turning into a stable, functioning democracy.

It's starting to look like even the American military juggernaut may not be able to cope with the problem that has plagued colonial "pacification" programs since the end of World War II. Access to even basic modern weaponary -- AK-47s, RPGs, high explosives -- has become a powerful "force multiplier" for the natives, proportionately more powerful, perhaps, than the high-tech revolution has been for Western militaries.

Inside the resistance
The United States likes to think that all it confronts in Iraq are a few die-hard Saddamists. But Paul McGeough meets a new guerilla movement with growing popular support.

There's a knock on the door. Standing in the first-floor corridor of the Al Safeer Hotel are two men - Ahmed, a weapons dealer and group commander in the Iraqi resistance, and Haqi, one of his foot soldiers. They enter and take a seat on the sofa, edgy but full of bravado after what they claim was a successful strike against a US convoy in a rural area north of Baghdad.

They had agreed, after weeks of negotiation through a go-between, to talk about the resistance. Now they are here to recount the detail of their most recent offensive against the US occupation forces in Iraq.

Ahmed begins: "Yesterday we were told about the new movement of convoys, so we used a special car to take our RPG [rocket-propelled grenades] and guns up there. We struck at sunset, in an area surrounded by farms.

  thanks to BookNotes

In Search of WM(S)D
Are Bush’s Weapons of Mass Self-Destruction plutonium-grade? Will they turn up in Condi Rice’s office? And will they detonate by next November?

Exactly what kind of trouble is the president in?

The White House, the Democrats, and the media—all puzzled—are trying to make this calculation. You sense the precision instruments at work, measuring opinion and Zeitgeist air quality. Writers of all biases have been sent back to further develop the plot—we’ve gotten to the cliff-hanger without being sure of the outcome.

Or it’s like an interactive narrative—we can pick from opposite scenarios:

This postwar (or post-postwar) querulousness is just a blip for the president, and, as so often before, the Bush political and communications experts will make the necessary adjustments (or do the requisite bullying) and, with relative media quiescence, charge on.

The war and its aftermath—which is unfolding pretty much exactly as the antiwar forces said it would—have created a situation of great vulnerability for the president, which the media, goaded by the Democrats, will poke and prod with mounting pleasure. The president and his men will become more and more defensive and, as the bullying becomes more brazen, prone to greater and greater mistakes. Hence the stage is set for political calamity.

But which is it? It can’t be both.

  thanks to Liberal Arts Mafia

Blair's case for the war is falling apart under scrutiny...

The e-mails, the rewritten dossier and how No 10 made its case for war

Smells like ... victory

Before the war begun, chickenhawk boosters claimed that nation's occupation and reconstruction would cost the US nothing -- it would be paid by Iraq oil revenues. Heck, even thoughtful war supporters like Tacitus assumed oil revenues would do the trick.

But the anti-war camp has been proven right -- under the best case scenario, Iraq oil revenues would not be sufficient to pay for reconstruction.

Bush Defies Oil Companies! (and other fake headlines)

What Has Happened to the US Army in Iraq?
The View of an Aussie Vietnam Veteran

 01:33 PM - link

stencil art

One-Term President


  thanks to consumptive.org

 12:33 PM - link

life of a temp

Temp Is a Four-Letter Word

Anyone who's ever done a quick succession of temp agency interviews can tell you it's nothing like doing "regular" job interviews. It's the same thing, over and over: typing tests, stupid Windows 3.1 tutorials on Office 2000 programs, and questions about what kind of job you really want. (What kind of job do I really want? I'm at a temp agency! Do think I have any room for preferences (or dignity?) at this point?)

It's trying to cram your well-designed resume into some squinchy stock application form fastened to some shitty clipboard balanced on your knee as you try to comfortably perch in a freakishly designed modernist chair next to a fake plant potted in real dirt while weird, jangley Musak is piped in through stealthy Bose speakers because, "Yes, honey, I see you have a resume but this is what we use. Next?"

It's basic math tests, like you blew $10.99 on 25 sheets of paper for your at least mildly impressive resume and ran out to Wal*Mart at 2 a.m. to buy pantyhose just so you could work a cash register. It's 693 + 431 with a note beside it saying, "You may use the other side of this paper if you need additional room for calculations."

It's those, "If you caught Sally Mae smoking the reefer in the lavatory while she was on her break, would you tell someone?" questionaires, that make you doubt your answers so fiercely by question #33 that you just want to stand up, stab yourself in the eye with your No. 2 pencil and run straight at the receptionist screaming, "Okay! Fine! One time I got called into work on a Sunday morning and I was at the end of one VERY LONG ACID TRIP and I've also had sex with coworkers despite the very specific No Relationships With Coworkers policy in that manual I had to sign in blood before I got hired and one Tuesday morning I woke up really early to drink a gallon of PuriTea just so I could pass a drug test and I used to steal cigarettes when I worked at that gas station and even though it was only $5.25 for third shift I suppose that's no excuse and fine, yes, okay, you caught me, if I found Sally Mae smoking a fatty in the bathroom at any job THIS place would get me, not only would I not tell on her I'd probably ask her for a hit! Okay?" and then collapse, catatonic, onto the beige industrial carpeting.

This is from Shannon Campbell's blog Pet Rock Star (voice of an angel, mouth of a truckdriver.) You can request her songs at Whole Wheat Radio. It will make you a better person.

 12:27 PM - link


Fernando Angulo


  thanks to Speckled Paint

 12:19 PM - link

conservatism and the destruction of america

This is a Salon article and you have to sit through an as to get a free day pass. It's worth it.

Big lies
In the introduction to his new book, Joe Conason explains how the right-wing propaganda machine demonizes liberals and distorts the common-sense politics of America.

If Americans have a common fault, however, it's our tendency to suffer from historical amnesia. Too many of us have forgotten, or never learned, what kind of country America was under the conservative rule that preceded the century of liberal reform. And too many of us have no idea whose ideas and energy brought about the reforms we now take for granted.

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism -- with the support of the American people.

If anyone would like to gift me, they can get me a copy of Big Lies. Just in case. [update: Reader Eric Blume has generously offered to buy me this book. Thanks Eric! I realize that others may now feel cheated at not being able to buy me something. Fear not! There are 309 items in my Amazon Wish List.]

 12:05 PM - link

health care art

Chinese Public Health Posters

How to prevent the plague:
Wipe out the rat
Eliminate the louse


 11:48 AM - link

saudi arabia

Oil Painting
Robert Baer's Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude offers an in-depth picture of dirty dealings.

But Baer's tale is not only an indictment of the Saudi royal family and its excesses. The real target of Baer's criticism is the U.S. government itself. According to Baer, successive presidential administrations have stubbornly ignored the facts about Riyadh and other oil-rich Persian Gulf allies. In the wake of 9-11, of course, the evidence that the Saudis played a significant if not dominant role in those attacks, and in the ranks and leadership of al-Qaeda, was overwhelming. But Baer writes that the U.S. government had for years had plenty of information about the Saudi role in earlier terrorist attacks against Americans, including the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1995 attack on a Saudi National Guard facility, and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Yet, as Baer describes it, "Washington still continues to insist that Saudi Arabia is a stable country. … To listen to Foggy Bottom's spin, you would think Saudi Arabia was Denmark." Until almost a year after September 11, the State Department, for instance, did not require Saudi citizens to appear at a U.S. embassy or consulate for a visa interview. Under a system called Visa Express, Saudis merely submitted their paperwork to a Saudi travel agency that took care of things at the U.S. embassy for them. Indeed, Baer points out, all 15 of the Saudi 9-11 hijackers, though unmarried and unemployed, received valid U.S. tourist visas with which they entered the country to carry out the attacks -- even though U.S. immigration law is supposed to treat such applicants as presumed immigrants and therefore ineligible for a tourist visa. Similarly, the State Department's yearly studies on global terrorism reported favorably on Riyadh's anti-terrorism efforts -- despite the total lack of cooperation Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef gave then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, refusing even to meet with him in the wake of the Khobar Towers bombing. And Baer's former employer, the CIA, didn't bother to write national intelligence estimates on Saudi Arabia because the president "hated reading bad news about the kingdom."

 11:42 AM - link

botanical art

Asagao sanjuu rokka sen
36 ausgewählte Asagao(Winden)-Blüten

Es handelt sich um das berühmte Buch "Asagao sanjuu rokka sen", das von den Asagao-Liebhabern im 7. Jahr der Kaei-Ära (1848-54) in der Edo-Zeit (1603-1868), nämlich 1854, in Edo (heute Tokyo) herausgegeben wurde.

Der Titel des Buches bedeutet "36 ausgewählte (Asagao-)Blueten" und spielt auf das traditionelle Thema von "36 berühmten, heiligen Dichtern" an, was zwar mit anderen chinesischen Schriftzeichen geschrieben aber lautgleich ausgesprochen wird (sanjuu rokka sen).


  thanks to dublog

 11:31 AM - link

Hero in War and Peace
First Self-Respect, Then Peace
by Uri Avnery

Sometimes a single sentence is enough to reveal a person's mental world and intellectual profundity. Such a sentence was uttered by Shaul Mofaz, the Minister of Defense, some days ago during a visit to the Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.

"With our enemies, it seems, no shortcuts are possible. Egypt made peace with Israel only after it was defeated in the Yom Kippur War. That will happen with the Palestinians, too."

This means that there is no political solution. There is only war, and in this war we must "defeat" the Palestinians. A simple, simplistic, not to say primitive, view.

But the revealing sentence is: "Egypt made peace with Israel only after it was defeated in the Yom Kippur War".

Revealing, because it utterly contradicts the almost unanimous view of all the experts in Israel and around the world--historians, Arabists and military commentators. These believe that the exact opposite is true: Anwar Sadat was able to lead Egypt towards peace only because he was admired as the commander who had defeated Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Only after the Egyptian people had won back their national pride were they able to consider peace with the enemy (with us).

If one wants to draw a parallel between the Egyptians and the Palestinians, as Mofaz tries to do, the conclusion would be: only after the Palestinians win back their national self-respect, will they be able to make peace with Israel. The first intifada, which Palestinians consider a victorious struggle against the immense might of the Israeli army, allowed them to accept the Oslo agreement. Only the second intifada, which has already proved that the Israeli army cannot subdue the Palestinian uprising, enabled them to accept the Road Map, which is supposed to bring about peace between the Israeli and the coming Palestinian state.

 11:27 AM - link

manhole covers


Purpose: To create a collection of photographic images of manhole and other access covers to water and gas pipes, electrical and telecommunication cables, etc., including gutters and grillwork (whether constructed of cast iron, welded or forged, or made from wood or stone) related to sewers of all kinds.


 11:22 AM - link

real american patriots

Standing Against The Fear
By William Rivers Pitt

If you read Robert Dallek's new biography of John F. Kennedy, `An Unfinished Life,' a rather pointed irony greets you before you reach page 100. The book details, as few have before it, the incredible infirmities that Kennedy wrestled with during his life. Stomach problems, Addison's Disease, collapsing vertebrae in his back, and more, made every day of his life an instruction in pain.

No military induction board in its right mind would allow a man so sick to serve. Yet Kennedy used all of his family's considerable influence to pull as many strings as possible in order to get him into the Navy, and into the fight that was World War II. Powerful friends were pressured, and favors were called in, so John Kennedy could serve his country when it needed him. He could have stayed home; his health, arguably, dictated that he should have stayed home. He didn't. He fought for the ability to fight, and came in the end to serve with distinction.

Who does this bring to mind today?

It brings to my mind two groups as different and distinctive as night and day. The members of the Bush administration, of course, leap immediately to mind. Virtually all of the heavies in that crew moved heaven and earth to avoid military service in Vietnam. Dick Cheney "had other priorities," as did Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Andrew Card, John Ashcroft and several others. Some, like George W. Bush himself, had the same kind of powerful family connections that Kennedy enjoyed, and used them to stay as far away from the fight as possible.

The other group that comes to mind when considering Kennedy's fight for induction is a group called Veterans for Peace. VFP was founded in 1985, in their words, "by ex-service members committed to sharing the horrors they experienced. We know the consequences of American foreign policy because once, at a time in our lives, so many of us carried it out. We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it."

I was privileged to share several days with the men and women of this organization during their annual convention in San Francisco. It would take an entire book, an entire volume of books, to describe my experiences there. It would take an entire book to describe shaking the hand of Brian Willson.

Willson is a Vietnam veteran who stands today on two prosthetic limbs attached to his knees. He did not lose his legs in the war. He lost his legs in 1987 while protesting in Concord, California. He and his comrades were attempting to stop a Naval train loaded with weapons that was headed for Central America. Willson laid himself across the tracks, determined not to move. He and the protesters had done this several times before, and each time the train had stopped. Not this time. The train took Willson's legs and smashed a hole in his skull. He somehow survived this, and stands today with the Veterans of Peace, unbowed and undaunted and unafraid.

He is not the exception among the men and women of this group. He is the rule.

 11:14 AM - link

interior desecration

Decorating Forties Style

A Visual Sourcebook of ideas from the 1940's for miniaturists, set designers, interior design students and researchers looking for "how we got where we are."


  thanks to The J-Walk Weblog

 11:06 AM - link


The Road to Ruin
by Paul Krugman

We still don't know what started the chain reaction on Thursday. Whatever the initial cause, however, the current guess is that a local event turned into an epic blackout because the transmission network has been neglected. That is, the power industry hasn't spent enough on the control systems and safeguards that are supposed to prevent such things.

And the cause of that neglect is faith-based deregulation.

In the past, electric power was considered a natural monopoly. It was and is impractical to have companies competing either to wire up homes and businesses, or to build long-distance transmission lines. Because effective competition was impossible, power companies were given local monopolies, and regulated to keep them from exploiting customers.

These regulated monopolies took responsibility for the whole system — transmission and distribution as well as generation. Then came the deregulation movement. It argued that a competitive market could be created in power generation (though not in transmission and distribution), and in much of the country utilities were forced to sell off their power plants.

In fact, effective competition has been elusive even in power generation. In California, deregulation led to one of history's great policy disasters: energy companies drove up prices by creating artificial shortages. This plunged the state into a crisis that ended only after much of its electricity supply was locked up in long-term contracts, and price controls were imposed on the rest.

For what it's worth...

Al Qaida claims responsibility for blackout   thanks to Drudge Report

 11:01 AM - link

photography meets typography


The page layout techniques used in Panama are unusual to say the least. The book seems to use an organic model, where the text conforms organically to the pictures. It is obviously not an accident; the form of many of the pages matches the verbal description contained on the pages, as in the image of the introduction shown above. Notice the small figure, placed for scale at the bottom of the page.

 10:54 AM - link

some things don't change

Henry Wallace, 1944:

The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.

They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.

They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

 10:47 AM - link


Some of us still have a lot of those big black CDs. This article is part of the The Record Collectors Guild, which has a lot of good information for those that want to keep playing vinyl. Now I need to get that new belt for the turntable.

The Microscopy of Vinyl Recordings

All methods of reproduction have artefacts peculiar to the method employed. Whilst vinyl disc recordings had their share, the clicks, pops and crackles that accompanied the playing of most people's records were due less to the technology than the record owner's level of care for their records. CDs are far less prone to these drawbacks, but not immune, and it has to be said that the erstwhile owners of crackly records are now the owners of mistracking, stuttering and unreliable CDs. It would seem that there is no escape from the need to care for your music, whatever the format.

This article is addressed to the people who are still in love with their vinyl collections. Long may they find replacement styli and belts for their turntables, for amongst the neglected discs from the early days of stereo recording now turning up in charity shops and car-boot sales are what many discriminating listeners believe to be the finest examples of recorded sound in the entire history of the medium.

The two pictures below show one animal and one vegetable agent -- the latter following close upon the heels of the former for reasons which will become apparent. The animal (below) is a young silverfish with its extended cercae overlapping the closing bars of the final movement of Bruckner's third symphony. I mention this as it is not possible to tell from the photograph. There are few places in a Bruckner symphony where the sound of a diamond stylus colliding with a dead silverfish would be less welcome. The cadaver was removed by brushing with a carbon fibre brush.


  thanks to The J-Walk Weblog

 10:37 AM - link

war against some drugs

The Shifting Medical View on Marijuana

IN A RECENT poll conducted by Medscape, a website directed at health care providers, 76 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses said they thought marijuana should be available as a medicine. That's a big change from the attitude in the medical community a decade ago, when few health providers believed (or would acknowledge) that cannabis had any medical utility. That was not surprising; physicians receive most of their new drug education from journal articles or from drug company advertisements and promotions, and neither of these sources provides information about medical marijuana.

The dramatic change of view is the result of clinical experience. Doctors and nurses have seen that for many patients cannabis is more useful, less toxic, and less expensive than the conventional medicines prescribed for diverse syndromes and symptoms, including multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, migraine headaches, severe nausea and vomiting, convulsive disorders, the AIDS wasting syndrome, chronic pain, and many others.

A mountain of anecdotal evidence speaks to marijuana's medical versatility and striking lack of toxicity. Even the federally sponsored Institute of Medicine has grudgingly acknowledged that marijuana has medical uses.

However, the government itself refuses to learn. Its official position, as stated recently by the new DEA administrator, is that "marijuana is not a medicine."

 10:22 AM - link


70 ans d'affiches TERROT : le régal des rétropublivores

Entre 1893 et 1961, voici plus de 40 images qui jouent le récital chatoyant de la publicité naissante des temps modernes.


  thanks to Speckled Paint

 10:18 AM - link

  Monday   August 18   2003

remember afghanistan?

22 die in Taliban attack on police station

At least 22 people died when hundreds of suspected Taliban fighters seized control of a police station in southern Afghanistan at the weekend, one of the most serious attacks against the government for a year.

Taliban wrests control of Zambul from US

The Taliban has wrested control of most of Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan-- for the first time recapturing a province since being ousted from power by the US military in November 2001-- geopolitical analytical firm Stratfor reported.

It said Zabul is of strategic and military importance for a number of reasons. Taking Zabul cuts off US troops stationed to the south in Kandahar from the bulk of US troops located to the north toward Kabul, it said, and given that Helmand and Oruzgan provinces to the north of Zabul already are Taliban strongholds, the group can better try to isolate US and local provincial troops in Kandahar and eventually attempt to retake Kandahar as well.

  thanks to CalPundit



Canadians In Kabul Are Not Peacekeepers

Some 1,900 Canadian troops are joining the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (more Orwellian Pentagonspeak) in Afghanistan, the alliance's first deployment outside Europe, and a mission recalling the relief of besieged Beijing by European and Japanese troops during China's 1901 Boxer Rebellion.

These ISAF soldiers are called "peacekeepers" by uninformed media; their mission is hailed as a humanitarian operation to bring "stability" to war-ravaged Afghanistan.

We should understand these soldiers are not true peacekeepers, like Canadian troops in Cyprus, but rather auxiliaries of U.S. occupation forces in Afghanistan whose strategic mission is to secure control of Central Asian oil.

The Canadians and other NATO troops garrisoning Kabul are duplicating the role of U.S. Marines sent to Beirut in 1982. Washington billed the Marines as "peacekeepers" in Lebanon's bloody civil war. In reality, the Marines were sent to prop up the Israeli-dominated Christian Phalangist regime in its war against Syrian-backed Muslim groups. When 240 Marines were killed by a truck bomb, Americans were outraged their "peacekeepers" had become a target. Americans - and the Marines - simply did not understand they had been dropped in the middle of a civil war as full-fledged combatants.

 08:19 AM - link


USDA Historical Photos

Most of the photographs on display in this section were taken between 1937 and 1943 during the Farm Security Administration (FSA) era. The entire FSA collection of almost 300,000 pictures are housed at the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration. Included on these pages are other USDA photographs, some of which date back to the 1800s.Additional photos are planned to be added.

April 9, 1940
Newly-built store and trading center typical of new shacktown community. This community of about 70 families is located near a large tomato cannery. The Blackwood family who are building and operate the store came from Clay County, Ark; are one of 4 related families who have migrated to Calif. since 1936.


  thanks to Sugar'n Spicy

 08:11 AM - link

global climate change

Record heatwave closes Mont Blanc to tourists
Dramatic proof of global warming as peaks begin to crumble in high temperatures and snowline retreats

It figured as a stop on adventurous young men's nineteenth-century Grand Tour, and in summer 300 people might climb it in a single day. This year, for the first time since its conquest in 1786, the heatwave has made western Europe's highest peak too dangerous to climb.

Mont Blanc is closed.

The conditions have been so extreme, say glaciologists and climate experts, and the retreat of the Alps' eternal snows and glaciers so pronounced, that the range - and its multi-billion-pound tourist industry - may never fully recover. The freak weather, with no substantial snowfall since February, means pylons holding up ski-lifts and cable cars may be too dangerous to use next winter, while the transformation of shining mountains into heaps of grey scree and rubble is unlikely to persuade tourists there this summer to return.

From the streets of Chamonix, the bustling resort at its base, Mont Blanc and its outlying peaks, the Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit, rise in a giant curtain usually filling half the sky with dazzling whiteness. This year they are grey with old, dirty ice from which the overlying snow has long melted, while their slopes are being raked by regular fusillades of rocks, some the size of cars, dislodged as the ice surrounding them melts in the heat.

 08:01 AM - link



AVEDON: THE SIXTIES, published by Random House and Kodak Professional, is scheduled for an October release. The book is co-authored by Avedon and Doon Arbus, the photographer's long-time creative collaborator. It marks the first time that this work, created three decades ago, is being seen in the form in which it was originally envisioned: Avedon's photographs combined with the interviews Arbus conducted at the portrait sessions.


  thanks to wood s lot

 07:56 AM - link

we swim in a sea of lies

Lessons in how to lie about Iraq
The problem is not propaganda but the relentless control of the kind of things we think about
by Brian Eno

When I first visited Russia, in 1986, I made friends with a musician whose father had been Brezhnev's personal doctor. One day we were talking about life during 'the period of stagnation' - the Brezhnev era. 'It must have been strange being so completely immersed in propaganda,' I said.

Ah, but there is the difference. We knew it was propaganda,' replied Sacha.

That is the difference. Russian propaganda was so obvious that most Russians were able to ignore it. They took it for granted that the government operated in its own interests and any message coming from it was probably slanted - and they discounted it.

In the West the calculated manipulation of public opinion to serve political and ideological interests is much more covert and therefore much more effective. Its greatest triumph is that we generally don't notice it - or laugh at the notion it even exists. We watch the democratic process taking place - heated debates in which we feel we could have a voice - and think that, because we have 'free' media, it would be hard for the Government to get away with anything very devious without someone calling them on it.

It takes something as dramatic as the invasion of Iraq to make us look a bit more closely and ask: 'How did we get here?' How exactly did it come about that, in a world of Aids, global warming, 30-plus active wars, several famines, cloning, genetic engineering, and two billion people in poverty, practically the only thing we all talked about for a year was Iraq and Saddam Hussein? Was it really that big a problem? Or were we somehow manipulated into believing the Iraq issue was important and had to be fixed right now - even though a few months before few had mentioned it, and nothing had changed in the interim.

A quotation for all seasons

Gellately describes the ease with which the German people relinquished their civil liberties:

Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 was followed next day by the dissolution of the Reichstag. His slogan for the elections called for 5 March, “Attack on Marxism”, was bound to appeal to solid citizens and property owners. Hermann Göring, one of the few Nazis in Hitler’s Cabinet, took immediate steps to introduce emergency police measures. Over the next weeks the Nazis did not need to use the kind of massive violence associated with modern takeovers like the Russian Revolution. There was little or no organized opposition, and historian Golo Mann said of those times that “it was the feeling that Hitler was historically right which made a large part of the nation ignore the horrors of the Nazi takeover…. People were ready for it.” To the extent that terror was used, it was selective, and it was initially aimed mainly at Communists and other (loosely defined) opposition individuals who were portrayed as the “enemies of the people”.

By mid-February 1933, Göring had replaced numerous police chiefs throughout Prussia because they belonged to the Social Democratic party.

Reading about the tacit complicity of ordinary Germans in Hitler’s rise to power, one is inevitably reminded of Martin Niemöller’s warning about the consequences of capitulation in the face of tyranny:

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing.
Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing.
Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist.
And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little.
Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.


 07:45 AM - link


Richard Throssel: Photographer of the Crows

Richard Albert Throssel (1882-1933) was born in Marengo, Washington, of French Canadian and Cree Indian descent. Throssel moved to the Crow Indian reservation in southeastern Montana in 1902 for the drier climate and to join his brother Harry as an office clerk. Throssel was adopted by the Crow tribe in 1905 and given the name of Esh Quon Dupahs, or "Kills Inside the Camp."


  thanks to wood s lot

 07:36 AM - link

health care

Many doctors call for healthcare system with universal coverage
Medical journal publishes call by 8,000 doctors for systemwide overhaul - a sign of momentum for change

Think about it as Medicare for all, not just for the elderly.

And not just the limited, cash-strapped program that makes headlines now, but an enhanced Medicare that covers prescription drugs and catastrophic care, as well as pays doctors a fair wage for their services. All of this for no more money than the country spends now on healthcare.

Sound too good to be true? Maybe. But for years, independent analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and private consulting firms have found a single-payer, national health-insurance system, however controversial politically, could do just that.

And Wednesday, noting that "the 'health care mess' is too real for anyone to ignore," the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) gave the medical world a jolt by publishing a proposal for a national health-insurance system that has been endorsed by more than 8,000 doctors. They include two former surgeons general.

  thanks to BookNotes

 07:29 AM - link


Jeff Brouws


  thanks to Conscientious

 01:32 AM - link

saudi arabia

The Saudi Hot Potato

It seems as if almost everyone except the Bush administration wants the public to see the 28 pages of classified information withheld from the recently-completed congressional report on the terror attacks of September 11. Members of Congress, including leading Republicans, say they want the pages released, which deal with alleged links between members of the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers. Even the Saudi government says it wants them declassified.

Bush has refused, claiming that releasing the information would expose intelligence sources and threaten national security. In all likelihood his real fear is that the missing section will highlight the double standard with which his administration has waged the war on terror.

 01:26 AM - link

picture collections

Picture Collection Online

The Picture Collection Online (PCO) is a select group of images from The New York Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Library, Picture Collection. Since its creation in 1915, the Picture Collection has met the needs of New York's large community of artists, illustrators, designers, teachers, students, and general researchers. Covering over 12,000 subjects, the Picture Collection is an extensive circulating collection and reference archive, the largest of its kind in any public library system.


  thanks to amberglow

 01:21 AM - link

things are getting out of control

A Bigger, Badder Sequel to Iran-Contra

The specter of the Iran-Contra affair is haunting Washington. Some of the people and countries are the same, and so are the methods – particularly the pursuit by a network of well-placed individuals of a covert, parallel foreign policy that is at odds with official policy.

Boiled down to its essentials, the Iran-Contra affair was about a small group of officials based in the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that ran an "off-the-books" operation to secretly sell arms to Iran in exchange for hostages. The picture being painted by various insider sources in the media suggests a similar but far more ambitious scheme at work.

Item One: Iran-Contra alumnus and close Perle associate Michael Ledeen has renewed ties with his old acquaintance, Manichur Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms merchant who became the key link between the NSC's Oliver North, the operational head of Iran-Contra, and the so-called "moderates" in the Islamic Republic. But to what end?

t appears that certain elements in the Pentagon leadership, specifically Douglas Feith, are trying to sabotage sensitive talks between Teheran and the State Department to promote cooperation over al-Qaeda and other pressing issues affecting Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon clique thinks Ledeen's old friend Ghorbanifar can help, according to Newsday, which reported Friday that two of Feith's senior aides – without notice to the other agencies – have held several meetings with the Iranian, whom the CIA has long considered "an intelligence fabricator and nuisance."

 01:15 AM - link


Whale flatulence stuns scientists

IT'S one of the unfortunate consequences of being a mammal - flatulence.

And, more unfortunately for a group of whale researchers, nature took its course right under their noses - literally.

The researchers claim this is the first photograph of a minke whale letting one go in the icy waters of Antarctica. It was taken from the bow of a research vessel.

"We got away from the bow of the ship very quickly ... it does stink," said Nick Gales, a research scientist from the Australian Antarctic Division.


  thanks to reenhead

 01:09 AM - link


No Work, No Homes
by Bob Herbert

After the meeting, Mr. Bush said, "This administration is optimistic about job creation."

It's too bad George Akerlof wasn't at the meeting. Mr. Akerlof, a 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, bluntly declared on Tuesday that "the Bush fiscal policy is the worst policy in the last 200 years." Speaking at a press conference arranged by the Economic Policy Institute, Mr. Akerlof, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said, "Within 10 years, we're going to pay a serious price for such irresponsibility."

Also participating in the institute's press conference was Robert Solow, an economist and professor emeritus at M.I.T. who is also a Nobel laureate. He assailed the Bush tax cuts as "redistributive in intent and redistributive in effect."

"There has been a dissipation of the huge budget surplus," he said, "and all we have to show for that is the city of Baghdad."

The president and his advisers could have learned something about the real world if, instead of hanging out at the ranch, they had visited a city like Los Angeles (or almost any other hard-hit American venue) and spent time talking to folks who have been thrown out of work and, in some cases, out of their homes in this treacherous Bush economy.

Homelessness grows as more live check-to-check

Homelessness in major cities is escalating as more laid-off workers already living paycheck-to-paycheck wind up on the streets or in shelters.

As Americans file for bankruptcy in record numbers and credit card debt explodes, more workers are a paycheck away from losing their homes. Now the frail economy is pushing them over the edge. With 9 million unemployed workers in July, the face of homelessness is changing to include more families shaken by joblessness.

Twilight Zone Economics
by Paul Krugman

For about 20 months the U.S. economy has been operating in a twilight zone: growing too fast to meet the classic definition of a recession, but too slowly to meet the usual criteria for economic recovery. There's nothing particularly mysterious about our situation. But recent news coverage and commentary — in particular, the enthusiastic headlines that followed a modest increase in growth and a modest decline in jobless claims — suggest that some people still don't get it. So here's a brief refresher course on twilight zone Economics 101.

Since November 2001 — which the National Bureau of Economic Research, in a controversial decision, has declared the end of the recession — the U.S. economy has grown at an annual rate of about 2.6 percent. That may not sound so bad, but when it comes to jobs there has been no recovery at all. Nonfarm payrolls have fallen by, on average, 50,000 per month since the "recovery" began, accounting for 1 million of the 2.7 million jobs lost since March 2001.

Meanwhile, employment is chasing a moving target because the working-age population continues to grow. Just to keep up with population growth, the U.S. needs to add about 110,000 jobs per month. When it falls short of that, jobs become steadily harder to find. At this point conditions in the labor market are probably the worst they have been for almost 20 years. (The measured unemployment rate isn't all that high, but that's largely because many people have given up looking for work.)

All this leads to a great deal of suffering — not just lost income, but also the anxiety and humiliation that come with long-term unemployment. Is relief in sight?

Leading economic indicators in Hollywood

A few days ago I visited a client in Hollywood at 5 pm. I noticed dozens of homeless people, mostly in their teens and twenties, nearby on the sidewalks. I asked the owner about this.

She said "There's a food kitchen down the block that feeds them at 6 pm, so they start lining up early. There's twice as many as there were just a few months ago. Which shows that the economy is getting worse".

Rescue missions are reporting they now sometimes feed and shelter people who used to volunteer for them.

Last night I drove through Bel Air, the wealthiest section of L.A., through the narrow twisty streets designed to confuse those who don't live there, on the streets with No Parking signs everywhere. That's right, you can't park on the streets in this residential area. Nor, in the truly expensive areas, can you see anything but high walls surrounding the estates, for block after block.

Not a person in sight. Just masses of walled estates, delivering a clear subliminal message of, If you don't live here, go away.

Prices of these estates start at 8 figures, and people are buying them. Who are they? Why must they protect themselves behind fortresses?

Hungry Hollywood street kids and people who buy 20 million dollar mansions so they can tear them down and build a bigger one - within a few miles of each other.

Feels like a third world country, doesn't it?

For Bush, Loss of Jobs May Erode Support in South Carolina

No shit!

 01:07 AM - link



Experimentation on the theme of smoke.


  thanks to Speckled Paint

 12:50 AM - link


Saboteurs blamed for Iraq disruption
Saboteurs brought a weekend of disruption to Iraq following attacks on a key oil pipeline in the north of the country and a water pipe in central Baghdad.

Fire engulfed a section of the newly-reopened pipeline from Kirkuk, forcing it to close again for repairs that officials warn could take weeks.

Meanwhile, around 300,000 people in Baghdad were deprived of water after an attack breached an important water pipeline, flooding many streets in the city.

US governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer, has warned that continuing sabotage attacks on Iraq's infrastructure will hit the country's economic recovery.

Sabotage threatens Iraq's economy

Sabotage left two fires burning out of control on the main pipeline exporting Iraqi oil to Turkey yesterday and the main pipe supplying water to Baghdad was bombed, flooding a motorway and leaving the city of five million without water. And, last night, a Reuters cameraman was shot dead while filming outside Iraq's main prison, which had earlier come under mortar attack.

The American-led occupation is going badly wrong before our eyes. Already US soldiers are dying daily in attacks and there is anarchy on the streets. As of yesterday, the Americans appeared to be facing an all-out assault on another front - on their efforts to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq.

This is the occupation that was supposed to pay for itself. All the Americans had to do was to get Iraq's vast oil reserves flowing out of the country and that would finance the occupation. The sabotage of the pipeline, which will take 10 days to repair, means at least $70m (£43m) in lost revenue.

The cost of the occupation, being almost exclusively borne by US taxpayers, is out of control. The Pentagon conservatively estimates it is costing $5bn a month. Other analysts have put it at $600bn over 10 years - bigger than the current record US federal deficit.

Have We Forgotten Anger in the Eyes?

saw those eyes again the other day on the evening news. A group of young American soldiers, sent by their government to go house to house in a sweltering Baghdad suburb, had kicked in a door and rousted a family. The children were terrified, crying. The mother was furious, screaming. The eyes of the GIs were filled with confusion and shame at what they were being made to do by their government.

And the father, down on the ground in front of his house with a kid from Arkansas or Detroit or California standing on his neck, showed in his eyes the kind of white-hot hatred that will take a thousand years to extinguish.

Well, we're bringing the Iraqis together.

Iraqi Clerics Unite in Rare Alliance

A popular Sunni Muslim cleric has provided grass-roots and financial support to a leading anti-American Shiite cleric, a rare example of cooperation across Iraq's sectarian divide that has alarmed U.S. officials for its potential to bolster festering resistance to the American occupation, senior U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

US Military Downgrades Amputees As "Not Seriously Iknjured"

My son in law is in Ward 57 at Walter Reed. Lost his right leg to an RPG attack – the press is ignoring the number of injuries – especially amputees.

Except for the Washington Post article they want to forget it. When I asked at Walter Reed why in my son-in-law's attack near Kirkuk on July 9 did the Army Public Affairs officer say no one was seriously hurt – I was told it would not be good for the President. My son-in-law was then in very serious condition in a field hospital in Kirkuk flown shortly later to Germany in very serious condition. Yet the public announcement was "no one seriously injured."

Iraq KIA figures revised upwards

Casualty figures have been updated by the military to take into account soldiers who died after being evacuated from Iraq.

Troops in Iraq face pay cut
Pentagon says tough duty bonuses are budget-buster

The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.

 12:41 AM - link

poster art

By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943

The By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943 collection consists of 908 boldly colored and graphically diverse original posters produced from 1936 to 1943 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress's collection of more than 900 is the largest. These striking silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut posters were designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. The posters were made possible by one of the first U.S. Government programs to support the arts and were added to the Library's holdings in the 1940s.


 12:20 AM - link

  Sunday   August 17   2003

conservatism and the destruction of america

The American Prosperity Myth

Everyone knows the story by now. America may have its social problems, but its highly productive, job-generating, innovative economy is the envy of the world. Europeans, on the other hand, are in a despond of high unemployment and economic sclerosis. Europe's addiction to welfarism--its overcooked social contract--is killing the economic goose that lays the social egg. Americans may pay a price in inequality for their economic vitality, but when you take the country's extraordinary social mobility and opportunity into account the price is worth paying. You might want to reverse Bush's tax cuts for the very rich, but nobody sane is going to tinker with the essence of the great American Business Model that delivers so much wealth.

I contend--unfashionably and, I know, incredibly, given the consensus--almost the opposite. The American economy has great strengths, but it is not so all-conquering. And the American Business Model, with its ruthless focus on shareholder profits, has profound weaknesses. Indeed, American industry is at its strongest where it has not observed antistate, progreed precepts and operated in more European ways. Smart action by the state, a viable social contract and efforts by companies to harness human capital and serve a purpose larger than short-term profit maximization turn out to be indispensable components of successful American capitalism as well--though America's public conversation hardly concedes these points. It's a gaping omission that is costing the country dearly.

 02:01 PM - link


The Persian Carpet Gallery

To look at a Persian carpet is to gaze into a world of artistic magnificence nurtured for more then 2,500 years. The Iranians were among the first carpet weaver of the ancient civilizations and, through centuries of creativity and ingenuity building upon the talents of the past, achieved a unique degree of excellence...... The History of Persian Carpet.


Persian Carpet House

Here we introduce you to splendor and secrets of one of the most exquisite pieces of Iranian art and a treasured possession
of mankind.


 01:57 PM - link


A Case for Hizbollah?
by Ran HaCohen

So here we go again, it seems. Blood-thirsty Arabs – Lebanese fundamentalists of the Hizbollah, "the Party of God" – bombed the Israeli town of Shlomi (10.8), killing a 15-year-old boy and injuring several others. Terrorist attack on civilians, three years after Israel has withdrawn its very last soldier from Lebanese soil. Isn't it the ultimate proof for the inherent terrorism of the Arabs, the decisive evidence that no peace can be made with Muslims? If you follow the media, it probably is. If you take a closer look at the facts – well, not quite.

Despite its name, the Hizbollah are definitely no saints. Mother Teresa would not have been able to drive the Israeli army out of Lebanon after almost 20 years of ruthless occupation. The Hizbollah has its own agenda and interests, political and otherwise, and a limited fighting with Israel may well be among them. (But, as analysts usually forget, Israel and its army have their interests too, and peace might not be their top priority either.) An independent militia is indeed something that no sovereign state can tolerate; Israel is right in pointing that out. This, however, is not Israel's, but Lebanon's problem – a small, weak country, torn between conflicting religious and ethnic groups (including 300.000 Palestinian refugees), and regularly invaded and terrorised by its stronger neighbours Israel and Syria. When Israel expresses concern for Lebanon's sovereignty, one doesn't know whether to weep or laugh. The existence of Hizbollah is none of Israel's business: It becomes Israel's business only if it violates the rules of good neighbourliness.

Precisely this is the aim of Israeli propaganda: to portray the Hizbollah as a terrorist group that violates the rules of the game. The facts, however, are that the Hizbollah pretty much follows the rules of good neighbourliness; it is Israel that breaches them. Since Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon, Hizbollah has been concentrating on two kinds of actions: anti-aircraft fire, and a limited fighting against Israel confined to the Shaba Farms. Let's see what it's all about.

 01:40 PM - link

diamonds are forever

The New Diamond Age
Armed with inexpensive, mass-produced gems, two startups are launching an assault on the De Beers cartel.

Aron Weingarten brings the yellow diamond up to the stainless steel jeweler's loupe he holds against his eye. We are in Antwerp, Belgium, in Weingarten's marbled and gilded living room on the edge of the city's gem district, the center of the diamond universe. Nearly 80 percent of the world's rough and polished diamonds move through the hands of Belgian gem traders like Weingarten, a dealer who wears the thick beard and black suit of the Hasidim.

"This is very rare stone," he says, almost to himself, in thickly accented English. "Yellow diamonds of this color are very hard to find. It is probably worth 10, maybe 15 thousand dollars."

"I have two more exactly like it in my pocket," I tell him.

He puts the diamond down and looks at me seriously for the first time. I place the other two stones on the table. They are all the same color and size. To find three nearly identical yellow diamonds is like flipping a coin 10,000 times and never seeing tails.

"These are cubic zirconium?" Weingarten says without much hope.

"No, they're real," I tell him. "But they were made by a machine in Florida for less than a hundred dollars."

Weingarten shifts uncomfortably in his chair and stares at the glittering gems on his dining room table. "Unless they can be detected," he says, "these stones will bankrupt the industry."


  thanks to reenhead

 01:29 PM - link

hello, again

I just can't stay up all night like I used to. Friday night was another night at the ER. My other half, Zoe, is recovering from gall bladder surgery and had a bit of a relapse Friday night. All is well some pain meds and dietary changes later. We didn't get back from ER until 7 Saturday morning. So yesterday was spent bumping around into walls when I wasn't sleeping.

Last night was a fine evening spent with friends sharing music. It was all done thanks to Jim and Esther at Whole Wheat Radio. Chatting and requesting tunes with night owls around the world. I felt much better.

Friday was spent at the Island County Fair in Langley. I used to go with my kids. This year it was with a kid (Jenny) and a grandkid (Robyn). Checked out the bunnies, chickens, horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, vegetables, commercial exhibits, sewing, photography, dogs, and cats. And the food. Good food. Good fair food. I started at the Lions' food booth with an ear of sweet white corn. Yum! Then to the Democrat's food booth for a foot long chili dog. Yum! My favorite fair food is those vanilla ice cream bars that they stick in the hot chocolate and then roll in the nuts. Yum! This morning I read about an incident at the Island County Fair yesterday: Man killed when hair caught in fairgrounds ride.

 12:59 PM - link