thanks to wood s lot
Robert Fisk: One, two, three, what are they fighting for?
I was in the police station in the town of Fallujah when I realised the extent of the schizophrenia. Captain Christopher Cirino of the 82nd Airborne was trying to explain to me the nature of the attacks so regularly carried out against American forces in the Sunni Muslim Iraqi town. His men were billeted in a former presidential rest home down the road - "Dreamland", the Americans call it - but this was not the extent of his soldiers' disorientation. "The men we are being attacked by," he said, "are Syrian-trained terrorists and local freedom fighters." Come again? "Freedom fighters." But that's what Captain Cirino called them - and rightly so.
Here's the reason. All American soldiers are supposed to believe - indeed have to believe, along with their President and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld - that Osama bin Laden's "al-Qa'ida" guerrillas, pouring over Iraq's borders from Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia (note how those close allies and neighbours of Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey are always left out of the equation), are assaulting United States forces as part of the "war on terror". Special forces soldiers are now being told by their officers that the "war on terror" has been transferred from America to Iraq, as if in some miraculous way, 11 September 2001 is now Iraq 2003. Note too how the Americans always leave the Iraqis out of the culpability bracket - unless they can be described as "Baath party remnants", "diehards" or "deadenders" by the US proconsul, Paul Bremer.
Captain Cirino's problem, of course, is that he knows part of the truth. Ordinary Iraqis - many of them long-term enemies of Saddam Hussein - are attacking the American occupation army 35 times a day in the Baghdad area alone. And Captain Cirino works in Fallujah's local police station, where America's newly hired Iraqi policemen are the brothers and uncles and - no doubt - fathers of some of those now waging guerrilla war against American soldiers in Fallujah. Some of them, I suspect, are indeed themselves the "terrorists". So if he calls the bad guys "terrorists", the local cops - his first line of defence - would be very angry indeed.
No wonder morale is low. No wonder the American soldiers I meet on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities don't mince their words about their own government. US troops have been given orders not to bad-mouth their President or Secretary of Defence in front of Iraqis or reporters (who have about the same status in the eyes of the occupation authorities). But when I suggested to a group of US military police near Abu Ghurayb they would be voting Republican at the next election, they fell about laughing. "We shouldn't be here and we should never have been sent here," one of them told me with astonishing candour. "And maybe you can tell me: why were we sent here?"
'Send me back. It's worse here'
At the barbecue, I chat to Doc as he perches on the bonnet of his Ford Mustang, his six-year-old daughter sitting on his knee. He was awarded the Silver Star for using his body to shield a wounded soldier when the company was caught in an Iraqi counter-attack. For him, there is no longer a horror of violence. Instead, he seems to be revelling in the power that he enjoyed in Iraq.
"There was one time when we were on checkpoint, and this Iraqi came up to me, and he's all 'ladiladiladi'. You know, shouting Arabic stuff," he says.
"I pushed him away, but he came back. So I touched my pistol, but he carried on talking. I pulled out the gun and held it to his nose, but still he keeps shouting. Then I pistol-whipped him, cut him across the cheek. That's what I miss."
thanks to Whiskey Bar
Two developments of October 20 involving Iraq speak volumes about the shape of things to come. The first is related to the Bush administration's decision to cede part of the control of Iraq to the United Nations, and the second is the story of an al-Qaeda tape in which the grim voice of the speaker - supposedly that of Osama bin Laden - says that Iraq has become the battleground in the jihad against the United States.
Things have to be a lot worse than admitted in the official circles in Washington for the Bush administration to yield even partial control over aid to Iraq. And, indeed, they are. Even after the passage of UN Resolution 1483 on October 16, hopes of a large-scale commitment of peacekeeping troops from a number of countries to Iraq have been dashed. France, Germany and Russia - even in their decision not to oppose that resolution - explicitly ruled out the prospect of committing troops or funds to Iraq. Everyone knows that it does not matter whether those troops are there wearing the blue UN helmet or their own, the moment they enter that country, they will become targets of the Iraqi resistance and Islamist forces.
In London on October 13, an investors' conference entitled "Doing Business in Iraq: Kickstarting the Private Sector" was agog with reports that McDonald's, among other corporations, may begin selling burgers and fries in Iraq by next year. Attracting up to 145 multinational prospectors, the London conference was held less than a month after the United States announced its economic masterplan for Iraq, a blueprint which The Economist heralded as a "capitalist dream" that fulfills the "wish list of international investors".
Whether Ronald McDonald cuts the ribbon in time and makes the dream come true, however, will depend to a large extent on the outcome of a US-convened donor's conference that was scheduled to open in Madrid on Thursday.
As the US struggles against popular resistance in Baghdad, it battles its cash-flow woes in the balmy Spanish capital. Behind closed doors at the Campo de las Naciones, representatives of creditor countries and multilateral financial institutions will meet for two days to determine how and when McDonald's and other multinational corporations will finally be able to open their doors in Iraq.
In exchange for allowing the entry of their corporations to Iraq, rich creditor nations will be pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to finance the occupation in order to make sure that it goes on unhampered - long enough for the Golden Arches to rise by the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Those who will pay the price for the burgers and fries, however, will have no seat at the table.
thanks to cipango
Cheney's decision to appoint Wurmser as his Middle East adviser is especially important given the increasingly hostile posture adopted by the Bush administration toward Damascus. Tensions with Syria have been escalating rapidly thanks most recently to the U.S. decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution deploring an Israeli air attack on an alleged Palestinian camp in Syria earlier this month. It was the first attack by Israel on Syrian territory since the 1973 war. The veto coincided with the approval by the House of Representatives of a bill that would impose new economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria.
Washington's one-two punch against President Bashar Assad was precisely what prominent neo-con groups have been calling for since the mid-1990s. Nor could anyone miss the fact that the campaign against Syria is eerily similar to the political offensive launched last year to build the case for war on Iraq. Some of the charges are almost identical: that Syria supports terrorism, is developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and represses its own people. White House leaks this week claimed that Damascus was holding as much as $3 billion for Saddam Hussein some of which, according to unnamed sources, may be used to fund attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.
It's a pattern that, according to some analysts, is designed to prepare the ground for military action against Damascus further down the road.
Man and Boy
(Hombre y niño)
watercolor on rice paper
15 × 11 inches (38.1 × 27.9 cm)
Road to ruin
This is what local agents call "a very nice market", and last month their area had a week of free worldwide publicity. Hurricane Isabel swept in, washing out much of the islands' only road and picking up motels from their foundations and tossing them, according to one report, "like cigarette butts". One island was turned into several islets, with a whole town, Hatteras Village, being cut off from the rest of the US - for ever, if nature has its way.
Residents, journalists reported, were in shock. Many scientists were not. Speaking well before Isabel, Dr Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of geology at Duke University in North Carolina, described the Outer Banks property boom to me as "a form of societal madness". "I wouldn't buy a house on the front row of the Outer Banks. Or the second," agreed Dr Stephen Leatherman, who is such a connoisseur of American coastlines that he is known as Dr Beach.
For the market is not the only thing that has been rising round here. Like other experts, Pilkey expects the Atlantic to inundate the existing beaches "within two to four generations". Normally, that would be no problem for the sands, which would simply regroup and re-form further back. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible: the $2m houses are in the way. According to Pilkey, the government will either have to build millions of dollars worth of seawall, which will destroy the beach anyway, or demolish the houses. "Coastal scientists from abroad come here and just shake their heads in disbelief," he says.
The madness of the Outer Banks seems like a symptom of, and a metaphor for, something far broader: the US is in denial about what is, beyond any question, potentially its most dangerous enemy. While millions of words have been written every day for the past two years about the threat from vengeful Islamic terrorists, the threat from a vengeful Nature has been almost wholly ignored. Yet the likelihood of multiple attacks in the future is far more certain.
This is an incredible resource on the classical world.
Forum Romanum is a collaborative project among scholars, teachers, and students with the broad purpose of bringing classical scholarship out of college libraries and into a more accessible, online medium. Toward this end, we host a number of materials for the classical scholar, including texts, translations, articles, and other pedagogical resources. The centerpost of Forum Romanum is the Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum, a digital library covering the entire body of Latin literature, from the earliest epigraphic remains to the Neo-Latinists of the eighteenth century.
ABAELARDI AD AMICUM SUUM CONSOLATORIA
Sepe humanos affectus aut provocant aut mittigant amplius exempla quam verba. Unde post nonnullam sermonis ad presentem habiti consolationem, de ipsis calamitatum mearum experimentis consolatoriam ad absentem scribere decrevi, ut in comparatione mearum tuas aut nullas aut modicas temptationes recognoscas et tolerabilius feras.
thanks to Counterspin Central
the riaaization of america
Agribusiness, apparently, is learning some marketing strategy from the RIAA. Decimate agribusiness? Hell, since corporate farms moved into Missouri just 10 years ago, sixty per cent of all family farmers in our state have been run out of business. That's not a typo. Six out of ten! In just one decade. Almost all the survivors are under contract to large conglomerates, working for slave wages well below the minimum hourly wage "enjoyed" in such professions as French fry specialist and dish washer. Hourly wages don't apply to farmers. They are subcontractors. As one former cattle farmer told me, "I used to make $50 on one steer. When it got to the point where I made $50 on the whole herd, I gave up."
Deborah and I live in a farming community. Deborah is in the unique position of having a husband (me) who used to earn a living retailing music and being surrounded by neighbors who used to earn a living farming. She's not buying into "this asshole's" version of morality.
Family farmers aren't the only thing vanishing from the landscape. There are 1300 fewer independent record stores this year than there were last year. This has nothing to do with copyright infringement anymore than farms failing because they don't pay royalties to some conglomerate that has a monopoly on a hybrid seed. In fact, it is corporate control of intellectual property that is the cause of all this misery.
A Negro newsman is attacked by mob
thanks to Solipsistic
electronic voting fraud
The Diebold Memos' Smoking Gun
"DELAND, Fla., Nov. 11 - Something very strange happened on election night to Deborah Tannenbaum, a Democratic Party official in Volusia County. At 10 p.m., she called the county elections department and learned that Al Gore was leading George W. Bush 83,000 votes to 62,000. But when she checked the county's Web site for an update half an hour later, she found a startling development: Gore's count had dropped by 16,000 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate had picked up 10,000--all because of a single precinct with only 600 voters."
Yes. Something very strange happened in Volusia County on election night November 2000, the night that first Gore won Florida, then Bush, and then as everybody can so well remember there was a tie.
Something strange indeed. But what exactly? In the above report ( click for full version), written days after the election, hotshot Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank goes on to attribute the strange 16,022 negative vote tally from Volusia's precinct 216 to an apparently innocent cause.
"…. faulty 'memory cards' in the machines caused the 16,000-vote disappearance on election night. The glitch was soon fixed," he wrote.
But thanks to recent investigations into Black Box Voting by Washington State writer Bev Harris we now know this explanation is not correct. In fact it is not even in the ballpark.
thanks to The Agonist
Here is a small collection of anti-masturbation devices I have invented to help the sincere born again Christian stop the sinful, evil, hellbound practice of MASTURBATING!
As of now, they are not being marketed because I am broke and a lot of stupid people are not interested in investing the money to produce them.
For an economical approach, this device can't be beat! The boxing gloves are placed on the hands of the masturbator just before going to bed. They are then tightly wrapped with duct tape around the wrist. Don't let the wanker tell you the duct tape is too tight and it is cutting off his circulation. This is an overused excuse to get you to wrap the gloves loose so he can slide them off when you leave.
Calligraphers write words.
Painters draw pictures.
Photographers take photos.
What if calligraphers draw pictures?
I don’t want to be restricted to categories.
thanks to Conscientious
The unofficial Middle East peace plan unveiled in Geneva on Oct. 12 by former Israeli and Palestinian officials is the first hopeful initiative since the collapse of the Taba peace negotiations in 2001.
It could be even more. This Geneva initiative is a detailed draft settlement, not just another plan of how to get from here to there. It bears no comparison to the road map, a sham from the start. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon never intended to accept the road map, and the Bush administration never intended to enforce it.
thanks to Badattitudes Journal
With Whom, About What?
Throughout the world, the document was well received by all who wish for an end to the conflict. The great hope is that this initiative, like the "revolt of the pilots", represents the end of the era of despair.
The first task of Beilin and his colleagues is to raise the Labor and Meretz parties from their ruins (the Labor party chairman, the birthday darling, has not joined the initiative!) and to set up a strong and combative opposition in the spirit of the document.
To quote Churchill again: This is not the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
A right-wing Knesset member Tuesday accused high-profile Israeli leftists who drafted an unofficial peace plan with the Palestinians of "treason" and demanded they be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
thanks to Information Clearing House
With some Israeli officials privately suggesting that Yasser Arafat must be dead and buried before any real progress toward peace can be made, senior defense, intelligence and operational officers are reportedly gearing up for the aftermath of the chairman's funeral.
But if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has drawn a cautiously optimistic link between the "removal" of Arafat and fresh chances for peace in the region, the dramatic changes forecast by army planners are anything but hopeful.
In fact, if any one of a range of nightmare scenarios turns out to be true, post-Arafat Israel could be in for a surge of violence dwarfing anything it has seen in three years of relentless bloodletting.
One swallow does not a summer make, but something is definitely happening in Israel's political swamp. In this season of continuous discontent, there are signs that Israeli society is gradually realizing that things cannot, or at least must not, continue along the path of political barricading, futile military vengefulness, incompetent leadership; in other words, that we cannot go on circumventing every chance for change. Take next week's mayoral elections, for example. It seems this will be the first time in years that the public will be expressing its objections against the administration at the polls, albeit indirectly.
Is Zionism a failed ideology? This question will strike many people as absurd on its face. Israel, after all, is a nation with an advanced standard of living, a high-tech economy and one of the most formidable militaries on earth. In a little over half a century, it has taken in millions of people from far-flung corners of the globe, taught them a new language and incorporated them into a political culture that is nothing if not vigorous. If this is failure, there are a lot of countries wishing for their share of it.
But consider the things Israel has not accomplished. In his 1896 manifesto The Jewish State, Zionism's founding document, the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl predicted that such a country would be at peace with its neighbors and would require no more than a small professional army. In fact, Zionist settlers have clashed repeatedly with the Arabs from nearly the moment they began arriving in significant numbers in the early twentieth century, a Hundred Years' War that grows more dangerous by the month. Herzl envisioned a normal state no different from France or Germany. Yet with its peculiar ethno-religious policies elevating one group above all others, Israel is increasingly abnormal at a time when almost all other political democracies have been putting such distinctions behind them. Herzl envisioned a state that would draw Jews like a magnet, yet more than half a century after Israel's birth, most Jews continue to vote with their feet to remain in the Diaspora, and an increasing number of Israelis prefer to live abroad. Israel was supposed to serve as a safe haven, yet it is in fact one of the more dangerous places on earth in which to be Jewish.
Buddha's Hand, 1999
thanks to Solipsistic
iraq — vietnam on internet time
Seymour Hersh's piece is a long and sad piece about self-delusion. A must read.
The point is not that the President and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic—and potentially just as troublesome. Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, whose book “The Threatening Storm” generally supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein, told me that what the Bush people did was “dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them.
thanks to The Agonist
Rumsfield has a reality surge...
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioned whether the United States was doing enough to win the war on terrorism, citing “mixed results” in the fight against al-Qaida in a pointed memo to top Pentagon officials last week.
Here are Billmon's observations on Rummy's unseemly realization of reality...
But others are working real hard to keep that pesky reality at bay...
Bush’s News War
It started out as a little crowd control in Baghdad. But as U.S. troops entered the streets to restore order earlier this month, the protest turned ugly.
SOMEONE THREW A homemade grenade at the Americans, wounding 13 servicemen. According to the Oct. 8 Daily Threat Assessment—the Coalition’s internal casualty report, which was shown to NEWSWEEK—eight soldiers were wounded seriously enough to be evacuated to military hospitals. Yet at a press conference the next day, there was no mention of the attack. Pushed by reporters, U.S. officials would only say the incident was under investigation. It was as if the ambush, and the casualties, had never happened.
In Baghdad, official control over the news is getting tighter. Journalists used to walk freely into the city’s hospitals and the morgue to keep count of the day’s dead and wounded. Now the hospitals have been declared off-limits and morgue officials turn away reporters who aren’t accompanied by a Coalition escort. Iraqi police refer reporters’ questions to American forces; the Americans refer them back to the Iraqis.
thanks to Eschaton
But that reality is just going to hang around...
The United States possesses the best-trained and best-equipped offensive force in the world, which it spends about US$400 billion annually to sustain, more than the combined total of all other major military powers. Yet there is no more eroding effect on an offensive force than duties of occupation. Soldiers are ideally non-thinking, order-taking killing machines, and as such cannot be effective police officers. Good policing requires members of the police force to think, evaluate and make moral judgments, which in turn makes them ineffective soldiers. Killing opponent soldiers on the battlefield is honorable by military code, while killing civilians by armed police, even in self-defense, turns any police force into a tool of oppression. This has been a military truism from the time of the Roman legions down to the German Wehrmacht.
Another story of how soldiers are only making things worse...
As soon as Amal protested about letting the dog sniff her bag because of the Quran inside, the soldier grabbed the Quran, threw it out of the bag and proceeded to check it. The lady was horrified and the dozens of employees who were waiting to be checked moved forward in a rage at having the Quran thrown to the ground. Amal was put in hand-cuffs and taken away and the raging mob was greeted with the butts of rifles.
The Iraqi Police arrived to try to intervene, and found the mob had increased in number because it had turned from a security check into a demonstration. One of the stations showed police officers tearing off their "IP" badge- a black arm badge to identify them as Iraqi Police and shouting at the camera, "We don't want the badge- we signed up to help the people, not see our Quran thrown to the ground…"
Some journalists say that journalists' cameras were confiscated by the troops…
This is horrible. It made my blood boil just hearing about it- I can't imagine what the people who were witnessing it felt. You do not touch the Quran. Why is it so hard to understand that some things are sacred to people?!
How would the troops feel if Iraqis began flinging around Holy Bibles or Torahs and burning crosses?! They would be horrified and angry because you do not touch a person's faith…
But that's where the difference is: the majority of Iraqis have a deep respect for other cultures and religions… and that's what civilization is. It's not mobile phones, computers, skyscrapers and McDonalds; It's having enough security in your own faith and culture to allow people the sanctity of theirs…
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. have inserted provisions into the legislation that would authorize $87 bn. for Iraq, according to Knight Ridder. The legislation instructs the Coalition Provisional Authority to work to ensure that the new Iraqi constitution protects freedom of religion, especially freedom of evangelical Christians to proselytize in Iraq.
Occupation Fuels the Resistance
"Even at art school they (the illustration from Dante's inferno) could still send shivers through me. I've never understood why "illustration" is used dismissively in the art world. I mean Dore had to imagine these things. The power comes fromt he invention-the drama and variety of scale. What they really are is a series of Brilliantlly expressed phobias. To dismiss them because they are in a book is ridiculous. It's that stupid old "fine art" snobbery again"
sleeper (from the Dog Women series)
thanks to cipango
Shortly after 9/11, the government received an extraordinary gift of hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, crucial data on the activities of radical Islamist cells throughout the Middle East and Europe and intelligence about future terrorist plans. These dossiers did not come from Israel or Saudi Arabia, whose kingdom appeared more concerned at the time with securing safe passage for members of the bin Laden family living in the United States, but--as Seymour Hersh revealed in the July 28 New Yorker--from Syria. One CIA analyst told Hersh, "the quality and quantity of information from Syria exceeded the agency's expectations." Yet, the analyst added, the Syrians "got little in return for it."
What they got instead was an unrelenting Washington-sponsored campaign of vilification. It began last year, when the "Axis of Evil" was expanded to include Syria, largely because Syria--a member of the 1991 coalition against Saddam Hussein--refused to support a pre-emptive war against Iraq. And it has culminated in the Syria Accountability Act, approved 33 to 2 by a House committee on October 8. If the bill passes, Syria will not be able to receive "dual use" goods unless it cuts all ties with Hamas and Islamic Jihad (neither of which is linked to Al Qaeda) and cracks down on Hezbollah (a guerrilla movement that enjoys wide popular support among Lebanese Shiites); withdraws its troops from Lebanon; and proves that it is not developing weapons of mass destruction. What's more, the President would be directed to choose from a menu of six additional sanctions, including a freeze on Syrian assets in the United States and a ban on US exports, except food and medicine.
The Syria Accountability Act is all but certain to destroy the fledgling cooperation between US and Syrian intelligence agencies, which have a common interest in combating Islamic extremism. To sabotage such a relationship would seem downright perverse, when America is in desperate need of Arab allies in the "war on terrorism." But a perversion of priorities is something we have come to expect from the Bush Administration, and from the influential neoconservative clique--many of them closely allied with the Israeli right--shaping policy in the Pentagon.
No one doubts that citizens of Syria and Lebanon would benefit from the demise of the Baathist dictatorship. But making an enemy of Syria will neither lead to the flowering of Syrian democracy nor bring an end to terror in Israeli cities. If any state is a breeding ground for terrorists today, it is Iraq, thanks to America's reckless war. The absence of stable governance in Mesopotamia poses far more of a threat to regional security than the presence of an Islamic Jihad office in Damascus. To be sure, states must be held accountable for fostering terrorism. What we need now, however, is not a Syria Accountability Act but an America Accountability Act.
The insanity in Washington just seems to continue. Haven't they learned anything? Apparently not.
My son, Robby, went to a recent showing of Spy Kids — 3D (with his niece and sister) and brought back one of those red and blue 3D glasses that you need to view these pictures. My good fortune. I hope you have the same good fortune because these old 3D images are amazing. The site does tell you where you can by some of these 3D glasses. Now to find more...
thanks to Solipsistic
The flight to India
If you live in a rich nation in the English-speaking world, and most of your work involves a computer or a telephone, don't expect to have a job in five years' time. Almost every large company which relies upon remote transactions is starting to dump its workers and hire a cheaper labour force overseas. All those concerned about economic justice and the distribution of wealth at home should despair. All those concerned about global justice and the distribution of wealth around the world should rejoice. As we are, by and large, the same people, we have a problem.
Britain's industrialisation was secured by destroying the manufacturing capacity of India. In 1699, the British government banned the import of woollen cloth from Ireland, and in 1700 the import of cotton cloth (or calico) from India. Both products were forbidden because they were superior to our own. As the industrial revolution was built on the textiles industry, we could not have achieved our global economic dominance if we had let them in. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, India was forced to supply raw materials to Britain's manufacturers, but forbidden to produce competing finished products. We are rich because the Indians are poor.
Now the jobs we stole 200 years ago are returning to India. Last week the Guardian revealed that the National Rail Enquiries service is likely to move to Bangalore, in south-west India. Two days later, the HSBC bank announced that it was cutting 4,000 customer service jobs in Britain and shifting them to Asia. BT, British Airways, Lloyds TSB, Prudential, Standard Chartered, Norwich Union, Bupa, Reuters, Abbey National and Powergen have already begun to move their call centres to India. The British workers at the end of the line are approaching the end of the line.
There is a profound historical irony here. Indian workers can outcompete British workers today because Britain smashed their ability to compete in the past. Having destroyed India's own industries, the East India Company and the colonial authorities obliged its people to speak our language, adopt our working practices and surrender their labour to multinational corporations. Workers in call centres in Germany and Holland are less vulnerable than ours, as Germany and Holland were less successful colonists, with the result that fewer people in the poor world now speak their languages.
thanks to also not found in nature
thanks to Conscientious
america, the land of opportunity
Locked Out at a Young Age
With the nation at war, the wretched state of millions of young people in America's urban centers is getting even less attention than usual.
While the U.S. is trying to figure out how to pay for its incursion into Iraq, millions of teenagers and young adults, especially in the inner cities, are drifting aimlessly from one day to the next. They're out of school, out of work and, as I've said before in this column, all but out of hope.
The latest data coming out of Chicago, which is roughly representative of conditions in other major urban areas, is depressing. The city's dropout rate is reportedly at an all-time high. And 22 percent of all Chicago residents between the ages of 16 and 24 are both out of school and out of work.
The term being used to describe these youngsters who have nothing very constructive to do with their time is "disconnected youth." Many of them are leading the kinds of haunted lives that recall the Great Depression. They hustle, doing what they can — much of it illegal — to get along. Some are homeless.
Of Chicagoans who are 20 to 24 years old, more than 26 percent are out of work and out of school. When the statistics are refined to focus on young blacks and Hispanics, they only get worse.
An incredible 45 percent of black men in Chicago aged 20 to 24 are out of work and out of school. That is not a condition that should be ignored.
Cladonia deformis, the "lesser sulphur-cup", on the
mossy roof of a collapsing farm building, central
thanks to Solipsistic
Last month was the warmest September on record, federal climate experts said Friday.
Worldwide, the average temperature for the month was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), according to Jay Lawrimore of the National Climate Data Center. That's 1.0 degree Fahrenheit above average on records going back to 1880.
The second and third warmest Septembers on record occurred in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
It was a different story in the United States, with some states warmer than average and some cooler, averaging out to an about-average month, temperature wise.
The mean temperature in Maine, Vermont, Nevada and California was much above average, and several other states were significantly warmer than average.
On the other hand, significantly cooler than average temperatures occurred in 17 states, primarily in the Central and Southern Plains, the central Mississippi Valley, the Ohio Valley and parts of the Southeast, according to NCDC, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
thanks to Progressive Review
Diego (19/07/73) - Eli (06/01/76) - Martín (16/4/82)
Velazco - 1983
thanks to consumptive.org
Regular readers of these pages may notice that I often link to editorials written by the economist Paul Krugman. Here is a review of Paul's new book that goes beyond the book. Excellent.
The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century
When The New York Times tempted Paul Krugman to try daily journalism, no one, including Krugman, could have anticipated what was to come. Krugman was an Ivy League professor of economics, a scholar acclaimed for his youthful brilliance, and an author of learned books and occasional commentary on international money crises. All clues pointed to a master of the tedious. One suspected the Times wanted someone to be boring in a genteel, scholarly way twice a week on its Op-Ed page. Krugman himself may have thought so. In The Great Unraveling he says he intended to write about globalization, world financial problems, and sometimes the "vagaries" of the domestic economy.
Before anyone could say "narcolepsy," politics intruded, and it quickly became obvious that Krugman was incapable of being either boring or genteel, but was highly gifted at writing political journalism. Starting in January of the election year 2000, he rapidly acquired a large, adoring readership which treasured his column as an antidote for the curiously polite treatment President Bush was receiving from most of the mainstream media.
At his most polite, Krugman was irreverent, but much of the time he seemed to think irreverence was much too good for the President, the people around him, and almost everything he stood for. In The Great Unraveling he commits the ultimate rudeness: Bush, he says, is surreptitiously leading a radical right-wing political movement against American government as it has developed in the past century. The words "radical" and "right-wing" are bad words in the political lexicon of mainstream American journalism. Normally they are simply not used to describe presidents, except by the kind of people who write for funky little out-of-the-mainstream journals.
In the higher levels of journalism there is a curious uneasiness about dealing candidly with the quite natural relationship between various money interests and government. All politics is to a great extent about who gets the lion's share of the money at a government's disposal, and a public that realized this might be less insouciant about elections than today's American nonvoter.
Journalism is reluctant, however, to make much of an effort to find out who will benefit if a given candidate wins, and who will lose out. Instead of providing this valuable information, the media tend to explain politics in terms of high-sounding ideological piffle about a "conservatism" and a "liberalism" which have very little pertinence to anything of consequence to the voter. The result is to deaden public interest in politics by diverting the mind from the fact that there is real money at stake.
It seems slightly scandalous that Krugman has persisted in noting that the present administration has been moving the lion's share of the money to an array of corporate interests distinguished by the greed of their CEOs, an indifference toward their workers, and boardroom conviction that it is the welfare state that is ruining the country. Krugman has been strident. He has been shrill. He has lowered the dignity of the commentariat. How refreshing.
This is now in my Amazon Wish List.
All began in 1996 in Bretany, France:
On a beach I photographed with a the SX-70 a polaroid showing sand and stones. Again the resulting picture was photographed with the Polaroid-camera.
The distances in space and time became greater.
The previous polaroid is allways the basis for the next one and so on ...
thanks to Esthet
The archive of Scott Andrew's show is up. See the pictures. Hear the show. It's an honor and a pleasure to have fine musicians like Scott bring their songs and music to my living room. Good shit!
Lisa, Scott, and Derek
It's Monday and tonight is another evening of living room music webcast from (where else?) my living room. Click on in to TestingTesting at 7 pm (pacific). Tonight we have singer/songwriter Scott Andrew. Enjoy.
I want to thank Yolanda Flanagan for buying me something from my Amazon Wish List. It was Edward Said's The Question of Palestine An excellent choice! So excellent that I want to encourage others to read it. Unfortunately, Yolanda's timing was most excellent because it now seems to be out of print and not available. Hopefully this is a temporary situation. There are always the used book stores.
Here his an Amazon review of the book.
Does the fact that I am an Israeli Jew living in Israel mean that I should reject this book ? Does the fact that I think the book is crucially important mean that I am "taking sides" ?
I believe otherwise. I found this book to be very important, as it is an account of a Palestinian - an admittedly interested party in the conflict. Said knows about the Jews and Zionism much more than most Israeli Jews know about the Palestinians. But of course - Said is never "objective" - he himself is a refugee, who describes the side of Zionism as he and many others like him experienced.
Said shows surprising understanding of Zionism - he even says that one cannot compare the situation in Israel to that which existed in South Africa. He says that things here are more complicated. Said acknowledges the achievements of Zionism as far as Jews are concerned, another surprise.
I felt a deep passion for peace and compromise in this book - I believe that the author accepts the reality of a Jewish state in Israel. However, Said points out that no such peace can be achieved as long as Palestinian dreams are constantly shattered or ignored.
There are two sides to this story - I am on one and Said is on the other. Still, this book is important because it acknowledges the existance of two sides, and thus provides a road to conciliation that is so important to all of us.
I think every Jew and every Paelstinian should read this book, and so should evreybody with a serious interest in our troubled piece of land.
And don't forget, there are still 310 items left in my Amazon Wish List. They're not going fast, but don't wait!
Witness for the prosecution
Joshua Sobol, in the past you were against refusal in the army. Now you are one of the writers who is supporting refusal. Why? What made you change your attitude?
"I became convinced that the Israeli government is not offering any alternative to the use of force. It took me time to reach that conclusion. Three years is no little time. But at the end of three years I found that the policy of this government is war. This government has no policy other than war."
A suicidal process - is that really the case?
"Yes. By not recognizing our boundaries and not confining ourselves to living within the Green Line we are returning ourselves to the situation that existed before the War of Independence. With our own hands we are tearing down our achievements in the War of Independence. And we are constantly maneuvering ourselves into a suicidal confrontation with a suicidal Muslim world. What do you suppose will result from the clash of two suicidal forces? Yes, mutual suicide. All we have to do is wait for the day on which both sides have the doomsday weapon and that will be that."
Are you seriously talking about utter destruction?
"That possibility exists. I see a scenario in which an insane Jewish underground reaches the mosques on the Temple Mount by means of light planes or sends a squad there to perpetrate a massacre like the one Baruch Goldstein perpetrated [in the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, in which 29 Muslim worshipers were murdered], only on 10 times the scale. I really have the feeling these days that I am living within the Jerusalem syndrome. I feel that I am living within a horrific historical drama. Horrific. It is absolutely clear to me that if the present course of things is not brought to a halt, both nations are on the road to perdition. That's why I feel the need to do something before we pass the point of no return. That's why I feel the need to stop this drama before it reaches its tragic conclusion."
Peace in Palestine through territorial partition is a doomed fantasy and the time has come to discard it. While it may once have worked on paper, in practice the Israeli state has succeeded, through the relentless colonization of the Occupied Territories and lately its grotesque separation barrier, in its long-standing goal of rendering any workable partition impossible.
While Israel was conceived as a state for Jews, Edward Said explained in 1999, the "effort to separate (Israelis and Palestinians) has occurred simultaneously and paradoxically with the effort to take more and more land, which has in turn meant that Israel has acquired more and more Palestinians." The result is that Israel can in the long run only remain a "Jewish state" through apartheid or, as some Israeli Cabinet ministers demand, ethnic cleansing.
thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog
Israeli opposition politicians, intellectuals and former Palestinian ministers have united to propose a peace plan to put an end to years of bloodshed in the region.
Then the streets started screaming and we were running almost without thinking, down the edges of the street around the people who had lost their fear, around donkey carts loaded full, ran until we fround a corner to turn into and then we ran past families and children, through narrow streets far enough from the main street not to know the worst, far enough that we were the ones spreading the news that the army had come back.
Old men's eyes opened wide and mothers pulled their children inside, casting weary gazes in the direction from where we had come. We found Sea Street and a taxi and headed towards Block J. A machine gun fired from a tank as it entered Yibneh. It was maghreb time. The sun burning a hole in the sky as it fell behind the wall at the edge of town.
When we'd come to Yibneh the camp was already in exodus mode. Donkey carts piled high with furniture, men removing the doors of their homes from the hinges, children holding the keys to their homes on neon green keychains, the modern picture of a refugee descended from refugees, meeting exile every other generation.
thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog
"As far as I'm concerned, if they find a tunnel under somebody's house, they can bury them in it, but how is this our fault? I used to say that anyone who listened to suicide bombers was crazy, but after what happened here, I say that every Jew, wherever he is, all the Israelis, are to blame for what happened here," Jamal Yussuf declared yesterday.
Yussuf, an UNRWA worker, lives in the Yabneh refugee camp, one of several that make up the large camp at Rafah on the
Palestinians are now 'illegal residents'
One of the questions raised immediately after it became clear that for the most part, the separation fence would not be built along the length of the Green Line, but in fact somewhere to the east of it, was the fate of the Palestinians living to the west of the fence. As of now, this fate is shared by approximately 12,000 persons living in 15 Palestinian villages and towns, from Salim in the northern West Bank to Mas'ha, to the south of Qalqilyah (near the settlement of Elkana). They are shut in between the separation fence to the east, and the Green Line to the west. As construction of the fence continues, deep into the territory of the West Bank, more Palestinians will find themselves in this situation.
The issues are real; already, the most serious concerns have been proven true. Even before the Palestinians had a chance to come to terms with the loss of their land for the sake of the series of fortifications that is known as the "obstacle," they discovered that their ordinary lives had been completely disrupted - that it was possible to further disrupt their already disrupted reality of internal closures in the West Bank, curfews on cities and villages and military attacks. Farmers cannot make their way to their land; hothouses and orchards have been destroyed; olives are left unpicked; teachers and students fail to get to school because the gate of the separation fence is not opened on time; feed for the livestock does not arrive consistently - and the animals are being sold or slaughtered, or left to die; water pipes for drinking or irrigation have been cut; siblings and parents are not permitted to visit; garbage trucks are unable to complete their routes; cesspits are not being drained on time. All of the above examples have been documented, with a hundred different variations, in all of these trapped communities.
A bureaucratic, official answer to the question was given last week. The regular disruption of ordinary life will henceforth be defined and delineated in a series of new army orders. They will gradually apply to tens of thousands of additional Palestinians that will soon find themselves living or working between the fence and the State of Israel. The latest army orders create a new category of Palestinian resident - "long-term resident" - a category that distinguishes between Palestinians living west of the fence and those living to its east, a new classification that will command the attentions of the swelling Israeli military bureaucracy.
thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog
Shock Therapy and the Israeli Scenario
"Israel has been urging America to invade Syria, but America seems to be reluctant. So, in order to force the hands of America, Israel is going to invade Syria," Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the official Bernama news agency recently. "When that happens, the Americans will have to support Israel due to domestic political reasons that make Jewish votes a major factor in its presidential election."
It's hardly a secret that pro-Zionist financial contributions exact disproportionate influence on American politics and foreign policy. Israel "has become a veritable state of the United States," Mitchell Kaidy wrote in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs back in 1997. "Indeed, with media cooperation and assistance, Israel has ascended to the ranks of an affluent, belligerent yet untouchable super-state." It is precisely this inviolable status that allows Ariel Sharon and the Likudites to do almost anything they please.
"No one in authority will admit a calamitous reality that is skillfully shielded from the American people but clearly recognized by most of the world: America suffered 11 September and its aftermath and may soon be at war with Iraq, mainly because US policy in the Middle East is made in Israel, not in Washington," wrote Paul Findley, a former congressional representative. "Israel is a scofflaw nation and should be treated as such. Instead of helping Sharon intensify Palestinian misery, our president should suspend all aid until Israel ends its occupation of Arab land Israel seized in 1967."
I go walking with my camera, the act of seeing becomes a process of emotional intuition, and these pictures serve as evidence of the strange and wonderful things I find. Most of the work presented here was created in New Orleans, my adopted hometown. It is, in part, a document of a fascinating city. It is also a personal exploration of the world I inhabit and a search for the sublime.
I take these pictures with a toy camera called the Holga. It is a simple plastic device that lends spontaneity to the act of photographing. It offers little control in making exposures, but I’ve learned to compensate for that in the darkroom. I print the resulting images on traditional silver paper, then split-tone them to add depth and color. This toning method can be unpredictable, and like every other part of my process, it owes a bit to serendipity.
Anchor Buoy, 2001
thanks to Conscientious
Don't Look Down
During the 1990's I spent much of my time focusing on economic crises around the world — in particular, on currency crises like those that struck Southeast Asia in 1997 and Argentina in 2001. The timing of such crises is hard to predict. But there are warning signs, like big trade and budget deficits and rising debt burdens.
And there's one thing I can't help noticing: a third world country with America's recent numbers — its huge budget and trade deficits, its growing reliance on short-term borrowing from the rest of the world — would definitely be on the watch list.
I'm not the only one thinking that. Lehman Brothers has a mathematical model known as Damocles that it calls "an early warning system to identify the likelihood of countries entering into financial crises." Developing nations are looking pretty safe these days. But applying the same model to some advanced countries "would set Damocles' alarm bells ringing." Lehman's press release adds, "Most conspicuous of these threats is the United States."
thanks to cipango
the end of an empire
The Global Redlining of America
The previously unthinkable is now on the table. Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter, is giving serious consideration to trading its black gold in euros, a switch that would surely set dominos in motion among other oil producing nations and, ultimately, knock the dollar off its global throne. Americans can thank George Bush and his Pirates for accelerating a process that might have taken decades to evolve, but which now looms as a “catastrophe” on the horizon. “There are already a number of countries within OPEC that would prefer to trade in euros," said oil analyst and U.S. Council on Foreign Relations member Youssef Ibrahim, in an interview with the Moscow Times, October 10. "Putin's putting a big card on the table."
A switch to the euro “is really possible,” according to Russian economist and Putin advisor Yevgeny Gavrilenkov. "Why not? More than half of Russia's oil trade is with Europe. But there will be great opposition to this from the United States."
On April 3, before the taking of Baghdad, we wrote of the predictable consequences of the Iraq invasion:
In self-defense, the world will be forced to reorganize itself, to create new mechanisms of trade and security in place of the institutions that the Bush men are deliberately savaging. The Americans will be left out of these arrangements….
Think of an oil-producer switch to the euro as the redlining of America.
thanks to Badattitudes Journal
thanks to Conscientious
The Widening Crusade
If some wishful Americans are still hoping President Bush will acknowledge that his imperial foreign policy has stumbled in Iraq and needs fixing or reining in, they should put aside those reveries. He's going all the way—and taking us with him.
The Israeli bombing raid on Syria October 5 was an expansion of the Bush policy, carried out by the Sharon government but with the implicit approval of Washington. The government in Iran, said to be seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, reportedly expects to be the next target.
o one who believes in democracy need feel any empathy toward the governments of Syria and Iran, for they assist the terrorist movement, yet if the Bush White House is going to use its preeminent military force to subdue and neutralize all "evildoers" and adversaries everywhere in the world, the American public should be told now. Such an undertaking would be virtually endless and would require the sacrifice of enormous blood and treasure.
With no guarantee of success. And no precedent in history for such a crusade having lasting effect.
thanks to Badattitudes Journal
I love panoramics. Even when they call it virtual reality. Here is an online magazine devoted to the latest in panos. Lots and lots and lots of panos, articles about those who make them, and related stuff.
THE 1906 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE REVISITED
When: Shot sometime shortly after April 18, 1906
What: The city of San Francisco, California had just experienced a violent earthquake that morning at approx. 5:15 a.m. First there was a foreshock, followed by the earthquake 20 to 25 seconds later, which lasted from 45 to 60 seconds. The quake was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and as far east as central Nevada. It’s estimated that the quake registered 8.25 on the Richter scale and the epicenter was near San Francisco. The fires burned for three days before burning themselves out and much damage was caused by the dynamite set to try to contain them. Between 450 and 700 were killed and 250,000 left homeless.
Who : Eyewitness Max Fast, from ‘the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906’:
How: William Donelson and William Beckett of Armchair Travel recently discovered this old partial panoramic picture, which they cleaned up and converted to a 360-degree format.
thanks to panoramas.dk
So we sit, during the evenings, gathered around the small coffee table which has seen conversations on blockade, war strategies, bombings, and politics, with a tray of tea and something simple to eat- like biscuits or bread and cheese. One of us pours the tea, adding the sugar- 2 spoons for dad and I, 3 for E. and one for mom.
Before the conversation officially begins, you can hear the gentle music of small, steel teaspoons clinking against the istikan, or teacup, as the tea is stirred. Unlike the typical family conversation around the world, "How was your day, dear?" doesn't get a typical answer in Iraq. Depending on who is being asked, the answer varies from stories of abductions and hijackings, to demonstrations, to empty gas cylinders and burned out water pumps.
The topic of the moment is "Turkish troops". We discuss Turkish troops at breakfast, we discuss them as we get ready for lunch, we discuss them with neighbors as we communicate over the walls separating our homes. E. says it's the same at topic at gas stations, shops and street corners.
The discussion isn't actually about Turkish troops, per se: it revolves more around the Puppets and their ability, or lack thereof, to convince the CPA what a bad idea introducing Turkish troops into Iraq would be. Iraqis of different ethnicities all have different opinions of late, but this is one thing we all seem to be agreeing upon- Turkish troops will only make the situation worse.
Oil is slippery stuff, but not as slippery as the figures now being peddled by Iraq's American occupiers. Up around Kirkuk, the authorities are keeping the sabotage figures secret - because they can't stop their pipelines to Turkey blowing up.
And down in Baghdad, where the men who produce Iraq's oil production figures are beginning to look like the occupants of Plato's cave - drawing conclusions from shadows on their wall - the statistics are being cooked.
Paul Bremer, the United States' proconsul who wears combat boots, is "sexing up" the figures to a point where even the oilmen are shaking their heads. Take Kirkuk. Only when the television cameras capture a blown pipe, flames billowing from its wounds, do the occupation powers report sabotage.
thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!
A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.
The survey, conducted by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of the respondents complaining that their mission lacks clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as of little or no value. Fully 40 percent said the jobs they were doing had little or nothing to do with their training.
The findings, drawn from 1,935 questionnaires presented to U.S. service members throughout Iraq, conflict with statements by military commanders and Bush administration officials that portray the deployed troops as high-spirited and generally well-prepared. Though not obtained through scientific methods, the survey results suggest that a combination of difficult conditions, complex missions and prolonged tours in Iraq is wearing down a significant portion of the U.S. force and threatening to provoke a sizable exodus from military service.
thanks to Talking Points Memo