"There is no conceivable rationale for such a waste of taxpayer resources. If some in Congress believe Boeing needs to be subsidized, then they should propose direct subsidies to the company, and let Congress fully debate and vote on the issue before the American people."Poor folks can scrabble in the dirt for health care and temp jobs, but the big corporations need a constant stream of government pork to keep them going.
Monday, December 31, 2001
Sunday, December 30, 2001
"Pilfered from terrorist facilities or stripped from militants captured in the Tora Bora mountains, the items for sale appear to be authentic and range from Al Qaeda members' passports ($800) to encrypted floppy disks ($50) to laptop computers ($2,000, content unseen) ...US Intelligence operatives are still scouring the hills looking for much the same stuff.
The sale of this intelligence is just the latest step in the commercialization of the bin Laden myth: Outside the city, Afghan fighters ostensibly guarding the Tora Bora mountains from intruders are hawking everything from captured Al Qaeda notebooks to visits to caves for hundreds of dollars."
"We have no idea what's being offered for sale in Jalalabad," a surprised U.S. intelligence official said Friday. "It could be copies of ordinary bin Laden propaganda tapes or it could be really good stuff. There's just no way of knowing until we see it."D'oh!
And all this since the great national enterprise was sold off to the highest bidder in a short-sighted ideologically-driven drive for cash.
A new government index ”reveals that cancellations, which officials say are a good marker of the overall reliability and standard of the rail service, have shown a rapid increase since 1999. In that year just over 62,000 of all train services were cancelled, about 1 per cent. That figure had risen to 91,000 by 2000 and 165,000 in the year to October 2001.And disgusted they certainly are.
‘Once again the figures reveal the real state of the railways,' said a Whitehall source. 'No wonder the public are disgusted with the service they are getting’.'’
”Internal polling evidence commissioned by Number 10 … reveals that the public has almost given up on the railways. Asked if they thought the British railway system had got better or worse since 1997, when the Labour Government was first elected, seven times more people thought it was worse.”The report suggests that the Transport Minister is in danger of losing his job over the crisis. Would this be a bad thing?
"Who has paid for it? US taxpayers have stumped up billions of dollars. They've paid for it. So have the British taxpayers, for some reason which hasn't yet been explained to us. Uncounted thousands of innocent Afghan citizens have paid for it too - with their lives. I say 'uncounted' because nobody in the West seems to have been particularly interested in counting them. It's pretty certain more innocent people have died and are still dying in the bombing of Afghanistan than on 11 September, but the New York Times doesn't run daily biographies of them so they don't count.And what have we got out of it? Nothing worthwhile, Jones would claim..
"If the objectives of the 'War on Terrorism' were to catch the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks, bring them to justice and make the world a safer place, so far the score - on all three objectives - has been nil. We're all jumping around scared shitless that something similar is going to happen at any moment. No perpetrators have been caught; no perpetrators have been brought to justice."Jones is particularly pointed in his criticisms of Bloodthirsty Blair. A good read.
"One impact may be directly the killing of birds through bombing, poisoning of the wetlands or the sites which these birds are using. Another impact may be these birds are derouted, because their migration is very precise. They migrate in a corridor and if they are disturbed through bombing, they might change their route."Several of the species affected were already under significant environmental pressures and may not survive this disruption.
Saturday, December 29, 2001
In the same issue, there is an excellent article reviewing the current state of knowledge of medieval ship- and boat-building in England. Gustav Milne touches on foreshore sites at Poole and elsewhere before focusing on recent work at Smallhythe in Kent which revealed the close links between ship-building and ship-breaking in that period, including a significant element of recycling. Milne then moves his attention to an analysis of London’s shipbuilding history, including its steady historical drift from Queenhithe eastward to Greenwich. He notes that the building of the first London Bridge at the turn of the first millennium, deliberately slung low to stop Viking ships raiding upstream, was “arguably the single most important development in the City's commercial history,” obliging sea-going vessels to transship their goods in London for movement inland. Good stuff.
Friday, December 28, 2001
As the article itself mentions, this is a variety of an idea that has been pushed in Washington by the rebel Iraqi National Congress (INC) for years. It is quite possible that this whole story is just another INC flyer. However, the provocation of a large armed force roaming southern Iraq at will might well tempt Saddam. I think he’s too wily for that, but we’ll see.
It is probably no coincidence that the New York Times has an opinion piece today by Richard Perle which is shameless in its push for the immediate military destruction of Saddam Hussein and the recognition of the INC as “a decent successor regime.”
”The charter of the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella group of Saddam Hussein's opponents, calls for eradicating weapons of mass destruction and renouncing terrorism. Those opponents need our political and financial support today, and when the time is ripe, they will need our precision air power.Seems to me the militarist adventurers are getting their apologists warmed up for the big show ahead.
”Growing doubts about the government's intentions led to long lines outside banks today, as middle-class Argentines tried to get their hands on dollars or pesos before the new system, announced on Sunday but largely ignored during the Christmas break, goes into effect.The argentino is only the latest in a line of failed currencies. The austral was introduced in 1985 at a rate of 0.80 to the dollar and ended its life six years later at 10,000 to the dollar.
‘I can't run the risk of losing everything if they should suddenly decide to change all the rules on us,’ said Marta Menéndez Cipriani, a 33-year-old secretary, as she stood in line at an automated teller machine this afternoon. ‘I deposited dollars, and I want dollars back’."
To add to the daily problems, storekeepers have pushed up prices 25% in the last few days to hedge against uncertainties, and local holders of government bonds (pension funds, small investors, etc.) are wondering if their payments – their incomes -- are included in President’s Saa’s decision to suspend payments on the country’s $150 billion plus debt. Capitalism in the raw, folks.
”Erik Sorenson, president of MSNBC, based just over the Hudson River from New York in Secaucus, N.J., finds the reaction from viewers is as much about their state of mind as it is about coverage. From the Easterners, he says, it is: ‘Don't they understand that we're in World War III, that we've been attacked, that they could be next?’ From Westerners he gets this: ‘What's wrong with them, they're obsessed, paranoid, overwrought, they need a break’."The figures – both general population and TV watching population – are clearly in the Eastern time zone’s favour, so don’t expect any significant changes in approach in the near future. Interesting stuff. I’m glad the paper made the choice to write up the story.
Thursday, December 27, 2001
"This is precisely how markets, which are complex webs of information based on trust, are supposed to work. Once the trust is gone, investors flee and enterprises fail. (If only the same could be said of governmental organizations, such as the Departments of Energy and Education.) Markets, be they for groceries or microchips, are wonderfully resilient. Failure for one firm provides opportunities for others. Just as the failure of Safeway would not cause anyone to starve for lack of access to food, the failure of Enron has not caused a single factory, office building, or house to lose power."Lynch explains succinctly why investors in companies such as Enron deserve to lose their money. Unfortunately, he goes on to say that the employees are equally deserving of their losses because they "are in the best position to have actual knowledge about how a company actually operates and its general health." So, if you were the mail clerk at an Enron branch office, you apparently deserve to lose all of your 401(K) money because you were not diligent enough to spot the international financing scams the senior execs were successfully hiding from Wall Street. That is the triumph of the market!
”The Argentino will have no economic backing whatsoever, as far as can be ascertained at present. This is straight out of the Cuthbert J. Twillie school of public finance. Twillie, W.C. Fields's likable con-artist in the film classic “My Little Chicadee,'' horns his way into a card game by telling the other gamblers: ``I will give you my personal I.O.U.'' Come to think of it, I would take Twillie's paper over Rodriguez Saa's.As DeRosa says, “These monetary antics are classics destined for the history books.”
The Argentino will be used to pay state workers. Want to bet that, if nobody makes a big stink, Congress and other assorted high officials will continue themselves to get paid in pesos?”
In Egypt, a well-known actress has received a sentence of ten years in jail for torturing her young maids. The actress fainted when told her sentence. The actress’s mother and three others each received one year in prison. I suspect that the maids were lucky to have their case publicized and their tormentors jailed. Many thousands of others have to suffer in silence for the brutality of those in economic domination over them.
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
In Palestine, a Palestinian civilian was killed by the wild firing of a terrorist Israeli helicopter in a residential area of Jenin. From September 11th until now (5:00pm PST December 26), the total number of Palestinians killed is 218. In the same period, 72 Israelis were killed.
The Roma (aka, “gypsies”) are a fascinating people. They were frequently met as tinkers in their caravans when I was a very small boy and they were the “boogie men” with whom my mother occasionally threatened me. Some very interesting genetic analysis has confirmed the essential unity of the Roma populations of Europe. More, the genetic studies appear to confirm the linguistic evidence that the Roma came from India around 1000 AD. Roma representatives hope the study will help them in their claims for a separate “peoplehood.”
"Sinhalese Buddhists, who make up 76 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka, believe that the founder of their religion was born on a full moon day. When it occurs, offices are closed, butchers do not sell meat and bars do not serve alcohol."Perhaps we could persuade North American politicians to stop politicking on full moon days. It would be start!
"Military officials have cancelled all leave and called back recent retirees in what one military source told CNN was the largest mobilization of Pakistani forces in 30 years -- greater even than during the war with India in 1971."Both sides, of course, consider the other to be pushing for war:
"Relations with India could improve if India shed its 'superiority complex' and dealt with Pakistan 'on an equal footing,' Musharraf said in an address to the nation on the 125th anniversary of Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.Other observers, seeking signs in the minutiae of public utterance, suggest a wider intervention.
For his part, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee accused Pakistan of pushing the two countries to the brink of war. 'We don't want war but war is being thrust upon us. And we will have to face it,' he said in New Delhi as he celebrated his 77th birthday.
"The contrast in tone — Mr. Vajpayee pressing ahead with the war threat and General Musharraf hinting at flexibility — appeared to leave the way open for intensive behind- the-scenes diplomacy by the United States. While appealing for calm, the Bush administration has effectively sided with India over the Parliament attack, demanding that Pakistan take swift action to shut down the Islamic militant group known as the Army of the Pure, or Lashkar-e- Taiba in Urdu, which India has blamed for the strike."Bush and Powell will no doubt decide they have to interfere. Arrogance, of course; but arrogance doomed to fail on this occasion, I believe. The whole Indo-Pakistani relationship has been a failure since 1949, and we are about to see a fourth war as a result of it.
Tuesday, December 25, 2001
"In one of the few sketchy accounts, the Roman historian Livy noted that a king in Anatolia hired Celts as mercenaries to re-enforce his own army. They arrived in 278 B.C., 20,000 of them, including provisioners and merchants as well as their families, in a caravan of 2,000 baggage wagons."Modern archaeologists have teased these people's lives out of the successive ruins of the city of Gordian. For someone like myself, raised to be proud of a Celtic heritage, it is striking to learn that Celts of this period can be discerned from their neighbours by the practice of ritualistic and possibly cannibalistic human sacrifice.
Monday, December 24, 2001
"For India, getting the groups declared terrorist organizations by the United States, and persuading Mr. Bush to press General Musharraf to disband them, was a strategic goal from the moment of the Sept. 11 attacks. In New Delhi, Mr. Bush's war on terrorism was greeted as a rare opportunity to accomplish what perhaps half a million Indian troops and police have been unable to achieve — to suppress, at their source in Pakistan, the groups that have kept India's rule in Kashmir violent, costly and fragile."The New York Times has an interesting article on the attitudes of the Muslim militants in Kashmir. The article points out the crucial position of Kashmir in Pakistani politics.
"But for many Pakistanis, branding Lashkar a terrorist organization is nowhere near as obvious a sequel to the events of Sept. 11 as it must have seemed to Mr. Bush. In Pakistan, the struggle for Kashmir is an epic that no Pakistani leader could abandon without risk of immediate ouster, by fellow politicians or the army. The bottom line on Kashmir, in Pakistan, is that more than 80 percent of Kashmiris, in India and Pakistan, are Muslims — and that those living in the Indian-ruled part, known as Jammu and Kashmir, were never given the right to vote on whether to join India or Pakistan that India guaranteed them in United Nations Security Council resolutions 50 years ago."The militants, of course, play up the vulnerability of politicians to this issue, and have kept the pot boiling for fifty years. US pressure, direct or through Musharref, can do nothing but fan the flames.
Sunday, December 23, 2001
A couple holds a lamp while a Pujari, chants prayers while making offerings during 'Yagna', a ritual to make offerings to the gods through fire, for world peace in Mumbai. One thousand three hundred and thirty-one couples took part in the 'Yagna'.
"The nation's restaurants were among the first to hit up Congress with a recycled pitch. Ever since lawmakers did away with the full tax deduction for business meals and entertainment in 1986, the industry has been trying to get it restored. After September 11, the restaurateurs declared eating out "the cornerstone of the economy," and their campaign for the full write-off began anew."Those who have turned governance into a business have been close on the heels of the private sector with their hands out.
"Public projects with only the thinnest connection to homeland defense have sprung up as well. In suburban Virginia, a proposal to widen Interstate 66 has long been controversial. After September 11, Gov. Jim Gilmore sought $130 million for the project, under the guise of speeding evacuation in some future disaster. In New York, Gov. George Pataki sought federal money for a high-speed rail project upstate, highway bridge construction, and replacement of transit system bus fleets."And who is actually paying these billions upon billions of dollars? It is you and me, paying each other, backwards and forwards, with only the middle men -- the corporations and the politicians -- making a profit as they slice their cut in passing. And if we have any sense at all, we will never forget that these same greedy bastards, scrabbling over each other to grasp the last nickel coin, have fired hundreds of thousands of honest labourers in their patriotic glee since September 11th. And Bush rubs his hands and shouts "Bravo! Bravo!"
Saturday, December 22, 2001
”Speaking Friday at the Pentagon, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the area around Khowst has been hit previously because al Qaeda training camps are there. ‘I'd like not to address the specific indicators that caused us to strike that convoy, but the intelligence we gathered at the time indicated that this was in fact leadership, and we struck the leadership,’ he said.”Unfortunately for clarity, the Interior Minister of the new US-backed unity government in Kabul announces that the victims in the convoy included tribal leaders traveling to Kabul for the government’s inauguration ceremonies.
It is probable that both are right. These sort of tangled loyalties – combined with continued unfortunate “incidents” such as the U.S. airstrike, and the centrifugal force of clan rivalry – will drag down the best efforts of the UN and US centralizing bureaucrats and “nation builders.” It will be a long and costly and ultimately bitter experience for all concerned.
Afghanistan should be the anarchist’s poster child, proving the historic unreliability of the nation state.
Friday, December 21, 2001
Thursday, December 20, 2001
"The unrest spread across the nation of 37 million people, with looters attacking supermarkets in major cities and ransacking homes. Eight of those killed were in outlying provinces, and many died of gunshot wounds. Fourteen people died Thursday and six others were killed on Wednesday. The dead included a 15-year-old boy shot Thursday during disturbances in western Santa Fe province, as well as people reportedly shot by merchants defending their stores."The new President inherits the State of Siege imposed yesterday by the outgoing De La Rua. Sounds like a perfect recipe for old-fashioned rightwing repression. We'll see.
" 'Now we don't have the economic good times, and we can only be very fearful about what will happen with large numbers of families without jobs,' Deborah Weinstein of Childrens' Defense Fund said.Although these are US figures, similar inequalities are visible in every capitalist-consumerist economy. Huge swathes of misery are necessary to help fund CEOs making a half-billion a year, celebrities commanding tens of millions, and the trillions of dollars wasted on arms and advertizing.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001
"Somali Transport Minister Abdi Guled Mohamed said Wednesday that 'there are no terrorists that we know of'' in Somalia. He said Somalia's transitional government has told the Bush administration it is ready to cooperate in the war against terrorism. 'We have said since Sept. 11 that we want to help. If the Americans say there are terrorists in Somalia, they should tell us how they know this,'' he said in Nairobi, Kenya, where he was attending peace talks between Somali faction leaders and the transitional government.Sounds like a fine playground for military exercises. And those who might suffer collateral damage don't vote, so who cares?
'If there are terrorists there, than we will put them in prison, put them where they belong. We will work with the Americans to fight terrorists,'' he added.
The United States, however, does not recognize the transitional government led by Abdiqasim Salat Hassan, U.S. diplomat Glen Warren told reporters in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. 'We of the American government do not recognize any government or regional government or any other sort of administration in Somalia,'' Warren said.
"At the root of the crisis is a recession triggered by years of public overspending and heavy borrowing that has left Argentina on the brink of defaulting on its staggering $132 billion public debt. The 18.3 percent jobless rate has left nearly 15 million of the 36 million population at or below the poverty line as consumer spending has been choked off and industrial activity plummeted 11 percent last month."The IMF is telling the government to turn up the screws even more on the poor. But I bet the famous polo ponies are still getting their daily workouts. After all, economic collapse is only a factor for those poor people who didn't have the sense to shelter their funds abroad.
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Under normal circumstances, the system would have been shipped and the $28million added to Tanzania's crushing debt. But this sale is so outrageous -- not only is it unnecessary, the system is old and unsuitable -- that the World Bank publicly criticized the deal, and the British Ministers of Finance and International Development have managed to stall completion against the pressures of the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, and, it is said, Bloodthirsty Blair himself.
" 'The whole thing stinks,' said one government source last night, adding that a World Bank-commissioned report had concluded Tanzania could buy a new civil air traffic control system for a quarter of the price of the BAe deal. Ms Short and Mr Brown believe Tanzania should use the benefits of a £1.4bn debt relief package announced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund last month to boost spending on health, education and basic infrastructure rather than on what one source called 'unproductive' expenditure.Of course, the very fact that this story has made it to the media indicates the ferocity of the intra-Cabinet row that must be going on. Boss Blair forgets that even New Labourites can occasionally have flashes of conscience.
Monday, December 17, 2001
"The broad outlines of Russia´s looming catastrophe can be sketched in stark terms. Russians are dying at a significantly faster rate than they are being born. Gloomy as it was, President Putin´s speech was based on the relatively rosy projections of the Russian State Statistical Agency, or Goskomstat. This scenario assumes an increase in the total fertility rate beginning in 2006, a decline in the mortality rate, and an increase in net in-migration. But only the latter projection is remotely plausible. By 2050, I believe, Russia´s population will shrink by one-third. In other words, it will drop from roughly 145 million today to about 100 million, a blow that even a stable, prosperous country would have difficulty sustaining.The Russians it seems are dying rapidly from alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis. They are also seriously challenged by environmental disasters including significant radioactive concentrations.
"What goes on today within the 10 formerly secret nuclear cities devoted to the development and production of nuclear weapons in Russia remains largely a mystery. Around the city of Chelyabinsk, a thousand miles east of Moscow in the Urals, some 450,000 Russians face unknown risks from a series of spills and accidents that occurred from the late 1940s to the 1960s. And area rivers may have been tainted by seepage from nuclear waste directly injected deep underground at the Krasnoyarsk, Dmitrovgrad, and Tomsk sites."This is truly frightening; a picture of a society in collapse. Saving Russia will take several Marshall Plans, and there may not be the political will to help until it is too late. Perhaps it is already too late. If so, the fate of tens of millions of people is horrible to contemplate.
”Opposition parties are banned in Uzbekistan, and Karimov, when he does bother to run for re-election (he side-stepped a competitive ballot in 1995), hand-picks his challengers. (The last, in 2000, proclaimed loudly that he was voting for Karimov.)This is the sort of democracy that Ronnie Reagan and Richard Nixon were so fond of backing. Like that in Noriega’s Panama, or the Shah’s Iran. And, like those other examples of US-backed regimes, the justice system follows the politics.
”[S]ome victims of police interrogations here … according to Human Rights Watch, are sent home wrapped in sheets soaked with blood, along with dubious explanations from the coroner's office attributing the cause of death to heart or kidney failure. Electric shock, beating and burning are routine tools of Uzbekistan's anti-Islamic inquisition, says Acacia Shields, a Human Rights Watch researcher who recently returned from a two-year posting in Uzbekistan. She adds that another tactic to elicit confessions involves stripping the accused's female relatives and threatening to gang-rape them in front of their loved ones.”And if you get sent to jail, life actually gets worse:
”Specifically constructed to house the growing influx of religious prisoners, the new desert gulag has developed such a reputation for torture and tuberculosis that dissidents say the only way out of Jaslyk is in a body bag -- if the pretrial interrogation, or a firing squad, doesn't kill you first.”However, ”Uzbekistan's jails aren't confined to suspected religious fanatics.”
”In 1995, for instance, when one of the country's former ambassadors to Washington fell out of favor with Karimov, his pregnant niece was hauled in on smuggling charges. Rather than release her on bail pending trial, as Uzbek law requires for expectant mothers, authorities aborted the fetus in a prison hospital.”And these are our new best friends.
Sunday, December 16, 2001
Like millions of others, I was immediately enthralled by the mouthy kid who kept every one of his increasingly large promises. When he came to London and beat up the Londoner's favourite, Henry Cooper, I cheered for him. As an anti-Vietnam War Brit, I was cheered by Ali's opposition to the draft and the war, and horrified (though not surprised) at white boxing's (and white society's) attempts to beat Ali outside the ring. But he was the very best; he hung in there until today he remains the most recognizable sports figure in the world.
"Seldom has a sportsman, however epic his journey and his achievements, approached the level of the sublime that a truly gifted musician can reach. That is why, when I think of Muhammad Ali now, I do not think first of Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano, but of John Coltrane in excelsis reaching a place beyond mere words and meaning, or Sam Cooke inhabiting the lyric of a love song until it becomes a vehicle for pure communication, until it lifts and energises, and transports the listener, taking them out there, beyond. This is the realm that Muhammad Ali occupied when he danced around the ring, and brought more grace and artistry to boxing than that besmirched sport ever deserved.Since his retirement there have been a lot more Leon Spinks's and Buster Douglas's than there have been great fighters, and the black political world has suffered more Marion Barrys than Martin Luther Kings. Muhammed Ali needs to be remembered and we can only hope that Michael Mann's and Will Smith's "Ali" matches up to the man himself. Sean O'Hagen's piece in the Guardian sets up the film -- and the man -- nicely.
Saturday, December 15, 2001
"By returning, Mr. Domingo forever endeared himself to La Scala audiences, who greeted the tenor with sustained applause and foot-stomping. Clearly moved, with tears in his eyes, Mr. Domingo raised his hands to his heart and lips, gesturing his appreciation for the audience's understanding. At the beginning of the third act, Mr. Muti made another brief announcement that despite the weakness of his voice, Mr. Domingo would continue to the end. By the final "bacio" in the death scene, it seemed that the tenor could have run for mayor of Milan and won in a landslide."Domingo has had such a superb career that he deserves all the praise he gets.
”Public opinion is moving rapidly,” he told BBC Wales. “There is evidence to show a main plank of our strategy - to control availability - simply isn't working. The consequences of that in crime and societal health are quite frightening - it's time to consider an alternative."In related news, researchers at Harvard report a study indicating that frequent heavy use of marijuana does not lead to long term cognitive impairment.
Friday, December 14, 2001
" 'There is no law defending indigenous traditions and all the models are for the ideas and science of the white man,' said Marcos Terena, chief coordinator of Indian rights program with the government's Funai Indian protection agency. 'We are also trying to prevent piracy in genetic resources, in biodiversity on our lands,' said Terena, who comes from Terena tribe in the Pantanal region in central western Brazil."While wishy-washy liberals will probably cry "Better the Indians than the pharmaceutical companies," I say: Why the hell does capitalism have to sully this place at all?
"A month later, Dr Kunz said, the web had passed a more important test when it was demonstrated in front of a group of 200 physicists in France. 'The grand finale of the demonstration was Tim Berners-Lee connecting into the Slac database, which was well known world wide. This really stunned people.So, when they went home, they had to tell their colleagues, "hey, there's this new interface to the Slac database and it's called the world wide web, and it's real cool". And that was the first big push to get the web accepted and taken seriously'."
"'Of course I'm scared every time I go in their rooms,' said Noorul Haq, the main nurse in Ward D. Still fierce believers in the Taliban creed, the men do not listen to music. They spend their days reading the Koran, and they talk of jihad, Mr. Haq said. 'They say their task is to die,' he said."An Afghani stand-off. I'm guessing it will end unpleasantly at best.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
"Nguyen Huu Chanh is the 51-year-old head of GFV. Chanh immigrated to the U.S. in 1982 and is, according to the November 27 Time Asia, 'Vietnam's most-wanted terrorist, a globe-trotting rabble-rouser sought by police in his homeland and in the Philippines, where three of his associates were recently arrested with bombmaking materials.' Over the past three years the GFV is 'suspected in half a dozen attacks on Vietnamese targets in Europe and Asia'."The CFF has a similar history
"some 70 rebels armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers -- and wearing matching Cambodian Freedom Fighters T-shirts -- attacked government buildings in downtown Phnom Penh."Seems to me the FBI could save the taxpayers a few bucks in their search for "terrorists" by cancelling their plane fares to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and taking a bus to Long Beach instead. It would be cynical, of course, to suggest that "terrorists" who aren't shooting at Americans or Israelis aren't really "terrorists" at all.
I had absolutely no idea that one could personalize breakfast cereals. Where have I been?
"Next spring, General Mills is expected to introduce www.mycereal.com, a Web site that allows users to mix and match more than 100 different ingredients to create and name their own breakfast cereals, delivered to their homes in single-serving portions ... For a price of approximately $1 per serving, General Mills will deliver a one- or two-week supply of your personalized cereal mix to your home.Hmmmmm. Why not, I guess.
Wednesday, December 12, 2001
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
”A Western diplomatic source in Nairobi said some people in Mogadishu were worried over indications that some people were moving out of the city in anticipation of a possible U.S. strike. But Western diplomatic sources said they knew of no terrorist targets in that city.”Of course, having no known terrorist targets has never stopped America before ….
Monday, December 10, 2001
Sunday, December 09, 2001
Saturday, December 08, 2001
"it strikes me that those brave exponents of the delights of porn should ask themselves one serious question: would you let your daughter become a porn star? Would A.A. Gill be pleased and proud if he had a little girl who grew up to become a member of the Girly Zoo? Would Toby Young’s eyes mist over with delight if his 17-year-old daughter ran away to join the Teen Sluts? Would the Feminists against Censorship sincerely feel that the battle for liberation had been won if their daughters grew up not to be doctors or lawyers or writers, but chose double penetration for a living?It's a good question. But, she cautions:
"Censorship isn’t the answer. The free market and the Internet would make any attempt at control look like taking on an elephant with a pea-shooter. A war on porn would have the same pompous pointlessness of the war on drugs; and, as the misguided crusades of Mary Whitehouse showed, there are inherently illiberal dangers in telling people what they should be allowed to watch. The only weapon of any potency against the tide of market forces is, paradoxically, fashion: tell the kids that porn is cool and groovy, that the performers really love what they do, and you breed an eager new generation of consumers. But if the rock chicks and movie icons and rent-a-crowd celebrities were bold enough to proclaim that sitting in a darkened room with a can of lager and a copy of Latino Sluts is a pitiful substitute for the real thing, then it might be a start.I always have to question myself when I agree with a feature article in the Spectator. However, I'm certain I agree with this one.
Friday, December 07, 2001
This is similar to to the situation under the new rules proposed by Bush and Ashcroft for the United States. Last night on a talk show I heard a conservative Congressman say that constitutional problems with the "anti-terrorism" legislation should be set aside because the Constitution was written at "a different time." I wonder if he'd accept that argument when we try to ban handguns?
Thursday, December 06, 2001
Talking of police states, Zimbabwe is finally losing its neighbours as allies. For a difficult year or more, South Africa and other countries in the region have worked hard at maintaining a pan-African front to protect Mugabe. But Mbeki and the others are not foolish enough to keep up the pretence in the face of openly encouraged brutality and lawlessness. Now, of course, the Harare regime is surprised and hurt that its friends would turn against them.
”The paranoia strikes deep: ‘President Mbeki's alleged utterances neatly dovetail into Britain's grand plan for a global coalition against Zimbabwe,’ [the government controlled Harare] Herald said. ‘A clear pattern is now emerging of that build-up against Zimbabwe and South Africa's complicity in the plot to overthrow the ruling Zanu-PF government from power’.”Well, yes, big Bob: We do want to overthrow your tinpot little racist kleptocracy and give the power back to the people you are stealing it from.
Wednesday, December 05, 2001
46 years ago today, the once-glorious CIO fell under the baleful control of that capitalist goon George Meany when the Congress and the AFL merged to form the AFL-CIO. The labour movement is lucky to still have members willing to go all the way to protect the rights of labour. In New Jersey, a growing number of teachers are being jailed as the blantantly biased judiciary bends its weight behind the corporate authorities. It is a crying shame that they are sacrificing themselves on behalf of a movement that has long been a tool of management.
Enron's "chairman, Kenneth Lay, is the former 800-pound gorilla of Washington power brokers ... Witness, for example, the unprecedented input Lay and Enron were given on the makeup of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency charged with regulating Enron's core business. Lay went so far as to brag to one potential nominee about his "friends at the White House." He also personally put the screws to FERC chair Curtis Hebert in an effort to change his views on electricity deregulation. Hebert didn't, and was soon the former chairman of FERC, replaced by an Enron ally"I have begun looking forward to Ms Huffington's irregular pronouncements: They are always bitter, twisted, and absolutely fun.
[Thanks to AlterNet for the story which isn't yet available on Huffington's own site]
"He is a man who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."
Tuesday, December 04, 2001
"French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine accused the Israeli government ... 'Arafat has been weakened by the harrassment of the Israeli army... and as a result people are using his weakness as an argument to say that since he cannot reestablish order in his own camp, he should in some way be eliminated,' Vedrine said. 'Sadly, it looks like a deliberate policy,' he said.Sharon has said that the attacks will increase in ferocity over the next few days. Italy, Turkey, Ireland and most Arab countries have made it clear they oppose Sharon's murderous tactics, but with the bully boy's protectors giving him carte blanche (Powell: "[Sharon] is responding in a way that he believes is appropriate to defend his people and to defend his country.'') there seems no end in sight for death, destruction and destitution for the Palestinians.
It must be the weather in Vancouver right now (cold rain most of the time), but I seem to be drawn to information on warm places. The other day I mentioned Laos as a destination; today, it is Vietnam; and specifically the island of Phu Quoc.
”The sand on Phu Quoc was powdery white, and the water was the clearest I had even seen: perfectly transparent close to shore, and a deep turquoise farther out. The stretch of beach in front of the Tropicana was set up very simply: a row of tiny pavilions hung with hammocks. Shade is definitely advisable at midday on Phu Quoc, where temperatures rise into the 90's throughout the year, so I sat in a hammock and watched two girls from the young, friendly Tropicana staff shrieking with giggles as they tried to knock coconuts out of one of the trees near the beach.”My, oh my. I could call my travel agent, use my Amex and … Oh well, back to work.
"But these paintings are also too incorrect. They have parts that are out of focus, like photographs. Or they have multiple vanishing points and parts that do not quite fit together, telltale signs that the artist focused and refocused his lens to capture different parts of his picture. Or they have a preponderance of left-handed drinkers, suggesting that a reversing lens was used."But the well-prepared audience did not let Hockney's assertions go unchallenged. Evidence produced against the thesis included "perfect" drawings known to have been made freehand, staggeringly realistic renditions of reality produced by a 5-year old autistic, and a scientific examination of van Eyck's "Arnolfini Wedding."
But the arguments eventually strayed to the real issue: whether it matters or not that artists use aids to assist their draftsmanship, and, even more generally, the relationship between art and technology. The usual intellectual suspects were in attendance.
"Susan Sontag went after Mr. Hockney's ideology of picture making. To say that there were no great painters before optical devices, she said, is like saying there were no great lovers before Viagra. It is a 'very American' kind of argument. Although Mr. Hockney was born British, she said, in his thinking 'he is one of us.' To argue that there is a 'direct line from van Eyck to television,' she said, is to use present-day mass visual culture as the lens through which the past is examined. It represents the 'Warholization of art'."It sounds like everyone had a lot of fun at this bash.
Monday, December 03, 2001
"The towers drew homeless people from across the city. They formed their own culture on the broad, bustling concourse filled with stores. They slept near the E train, in the long hallway that stretched out from the A, in the tunnels of the PATH train. They hung out on the ledge by the Chase bank ATM, in the nook next to Golden Nugget Jewelry, by the phone bank at building five, by the entrance to the 1 and 9. In the summer months, they congregated on the plaza by the fountain. In the early mornings, they crowded the sinks and washed up together in the bathrooms.Increased security on the streets of New York since September 11th has apparently made life for the homeless even more miserable. And the winter has only just begun.
The Trade Center had energy to it. It was clean, safe, and warm in the winter. Some old-timers had been there 15 years and knew the place up and down. "They would sleep by our store," says Samuel Benejan, who managed the Ben & Jerry's by the south tower. "We had a kiosk, and it was a warm place to sleep. I'd wake them up in the morning at 5:30 and give them a cup of coffee. You'd see the same guys over and over again, not new people. The guys there knew the routine, where to stop, how long 'til the police came around. Those guys lived there. It was their home."
"Constitutional experts, including conservative scholars, concede that the majority's purpose seems to have been to install in the White House someone whose politics matched their own and who would buttress their numbers on the Court. Instead of checks and balances, this was logrolling."And we have Tricky Dicky to thank for this. Greenberg's review has inspired me to add Dean's book to my Christmas wishlist!
"... so corrupt, feckless and out-of-touch lot that they make the Butcher of Baghdad look good ... In addition to the Kurds and Shi'as, there are more than 70 other "opposition" parties. Some are made up of Saddam's old cronies, people who turned against him after they lost their jobs. To make a living, they accept the backing of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They publish newspapers and magazines no one reads. They have no offices or followers. In private conversation, they admit that their cause is hopeless."
But the failures of the opposition seem as nothing to the power elites in Washington pushing for an attack on Iraq. In an article covering similar ground, David Korn argues that the "neo-cons" lobbying for a final confrontation are a small minority of right-wingers. Even if that is true, these folks are determined to fight Hussein regardless of the consequences it seems; and it seems they have the ear of the President.
Sunday, December 02, 2001
"Plagued with violence and facing bankruptcy, the scattered South Pacific island chain of the Solomon Islands goes to the polls on Wednesday, 18 months after an ethnic militia coup. Residents and diplomats fear that unless a strong leader emerges to restore law and order, the island nation's very existence will be under threat. 'Its make or break,'' one diplomat in the capital Honiara said on Monday. 'If the country continues the way it is, it will gradually fragment and collapse'.''The story goes on to relate the sorry state of the economy where major employers are closing because of intimidation from armed gangs, and land claims are decided by gun battles. A unfortunate State about which we hear little or nothing.
"Opposition by Blair and French President Jacques Chirac may not be enough to dissuade the Americans. One European military source who recently returned from General Franks's headquarters in Florida said: 'The Americans are walking on water. They think they can do anything at the moment and there is bloody nothing Tony [Blair] can do about it'. "Bush's determination to show he can do better than his Daddy in Iraq will not only come at the expense of the Iraqi people but will cost America all support in the Middle East, and could seriously damage both NATO and the growing closeness with Russia. And for what?
Saturday, December 01, 2001
"... the [nuclear] tests have dramatically changed the military situation in South Asia. They have spurred the development of more advanced weapons, missiles, submarines, antiballistic missile systems, and command-and-control systems. In August 1999 the Indian Draft Nuclear Doctrine called for the deployment of a triad of "aircraft, mobile land-missiles and sea-based assets" to deliver nuclear weapons. Such a system would cost about $8 billion. This past January the Indian government declared that it would deploy its new long-range missile. A month later the Pakistani deputy chief of naval staff announced that Pakistan was thinking about equipping at least one of its submarines with nuclear missiles.This conflict has only been complicated by the regional power shifts required to accommodate Dubya Dubya Three, and a solution seems nowhere near. Dangerous times ahead.
The bully boy doesn't want a steady stream of body bags disturbing its chances of re-election back home.
That the US can decide to start wars and then leave others to clean up the mess is the arrogance of supreme power. No doubt the Romans and Portuguese and Spanish and British all felt the same way at the height of their empires. They are all in the dustbowl of history now.