...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



Jeff Danziger May 31 2003

The mayor of the Polish city of Krakow said Thursday he had been excluded from President Bush's visit to the city this weekend because of his opposition to the war on Iraq.

"It is customary that the mayor, as the host of this city, should take part in the welcoming ceremony. But the Americans have said they will not have it," Mayor Jacek Majchrowski told private radio RMF.

"It is strange that guests dictate where the host should or should not be," he added.

Majchrowski wrote a newspaper article entitled "Pax Americana" in March, harshly criticizing the U.S.-led war to topple Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, in which Poland also took part.

He has welcomed anti-war marches in Krakow, lauding the demonstrators as having "saved the honor of the city."

Reuters May 29, 2003

Asked about his prodigious act of generosity, the actor{Keanu Reeves} said he already had enough cash. "Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I have already made for the next few centuries," he declared.

And it's not the first time the Beirut-born star has shown his jaw-dropping benevolence. While shooting the films in Australia he amazed the team of stuntmen by giving them each a �6,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle. And the actor, whose sister has leukaemia, has also channelled millions into cancer research.

His gift to the Matrix series' 29 behind-the-scenes whiz-kids will see each of them receiving �1.75 million.

Hello! magazine 28 May


{I just heard somebody on my mom's TV say " whattup homie?"
which is ok, that's not the point, but it made me think about the first place I heard that, maybe a year and a half ago in a email from a 24 year old friend. so then it works its way through the crowd, and ends up on TV. so far so good, no problem with that. ah. but then. TIA. full metal eavesdrop. and the dweebs on the auditor get the buzzwords first hmm? the auditor being what I'm trying to use for the vortex of surveillance. there's a parasitic aspect of that that's non-human. the pepsis wasp again. 'homeboy' I first heard in jail, where it was already solidly in place, back in '83. and there was a guard there named 'Stan' who reminded me greatly of 'Tic-Toc' of Oz, visually. he had that thing, you got the sense he'd learned some inaccurate version of hip lingo by overhearing men and boys who were incarcerated and under his 'care'. the spark of creative fire, the genius of illiterate unencumbered minds, dracula'd.}

terrorist alert!

It's not clear when the actual porpoise strandings occurred, but even if they predate the May 5 sonar tests by the USS Shoup, midrange sonar has been heard in area waters since April, said University of Washington assistant professor Dave Bain, who was in the area on that date with students from his Field Studies in Marine Mammalogy class.
* * *
Haro Strait is the waterway between the southeast tip of Canada's Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands.

Witnesses in area waters reported seeing scores of porpoises leaping from the water on May 5, apparently trying to escape the sound.

When the bursts of sound became audible to humans, killer whales in the area bunched near the shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and milled around, Bain said in an e-mail report distributed by the Orca Conservancy.

As top predators, killer whales "don't have a flight response," said Fred Felleman of the Orca Conservancy. "They're not used to needing a flight response."

Peggy Andersen AP Seattle PI May 16, 2003


Speech is incorporated together with other interface elements in information presentation (fusion) and collecting information (fission). The appropriate combination of speech, text, and graphics will critically depend on the comfort level of the user. Complexity needs to be matched to user skills. Two related strands are

  • A virtual personal assistant, which allows the user to browse, sort, process and respond to emails, organize calendar events, etc is being developed within a European consortium (the FASiL project). Interface is primarily through relatively unconstrained spoken language. Our role is to examine the appropriate fission/fusion models and to allow the interface to adapt to user skills and needs, and
  • Similar interface issues arise in the context of IT users who are technologically naive or illiterate. Interfaces for portable computing devices in developing nations need to be sensitive to user skills and adapt approp(riately).
    Adaptive Speech Interfaces Dept. of Computer Science University College Dublin

  • the G8 is meeting in Evian-les-Bains. you could attend. you could stay here
    and enjoy a drink while you wait to eat here
    you could stay here
    and hang out while you wait to eat here

    Like many other Middle East scholars, Daniel Pipes sees a way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But unlike most of his peers, Pipes sees no room for negotiation, no hope for compromise and no use for diplomacy. "What war had achieved for Israel," Pipes explained at a recent Zionist conference in Washington DC, "diplomacy has undone."

    His solution is simple: The Israeli military must force what Pipes describes as a "change of heart" by the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza -- a sapping of the Palestinian will to fight which can lead to a complete surrender. "How is a change of heart achieved? It is achieved by an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat," Pipes continued. "The Palestinians need to be defeated even more than Israel needs to defeat them."

    Obviously, such extreme views put Pipes at odds with the stated policies of the Bush administration, and even Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has indicated he will accept the "road map" for peace. So it took many by surprise last month when President Bush nominated Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace, a Congressionally sponsored think tank dedicated to "the peaceful resolution of international conflicts."

    Michael Scherer at the comforting bosom of Mother Jones

    But the charade goes on. The Sunday talk shows and the editorial pages are freighted with earnest punditry about Sharon's historic shift. To find equivalent drivel one has to go back to the New York Times' respectful editorials of the mid-1930s about Hitler's constructive vision of the future of Europe.

    Hold the following truths to be self-evident. Members of the U.S. Congress live in mortal terror of AIPAC and the larger pro-Israel lobby. These members know vividly the fate of those who defied the lobby and aroused its enmity, most recently Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. The lobby would like to see Palestinians removed to Jordan or some small space elsewhere in the world, such as the space between runways at Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

    For its part Israel knows that at its present rate of onslaught, it's only a matter of a few short years before it will have seized every useful acre of the occupied territories. It's all over, and to pretend otherwise is to partake in a ritual long since purged of everything, save bad faith on the part of Israel and the United States.

    the incendiary Alexander Cockburn at Working For Change 05.28.03

    Rupert Murdoch is being lambasted as "the man who wants to control news in America" in a high-profile US campaign designed to stir up public opposition to controversial plans to relax the country's media ownership laws.

    Adverts running on US TV stations, including Mr Murdoch's own Fox News, show the media mogul's scowling face appearing on every TV channel.

    Chris Tryhorn Guardian UK May 29
    {so let's google Murdoch and 'Jewish' to see what's what. and lo and beholden, he would be it seems a Gentile. only his mom is a Jew. like Bill Gates'. which has Talmudic significance, in that it qualifies them as 'Jews' in the light of the Talmud.
    Jews comprise 3% of the American population and produce virtually all of the American mainstream mass media. to even talk about that is frightening and dangerous and results in an immediate 'anti-Semitism' jacket. I'm all kinds of burnt on chanting 'some of my best friends are...' besides that it isn't exactly true, though it is true. I mean it's sort of true. well my heroes include many Jews. Lenny Bruce. Allen Ginsberg. George Steiner. Mel Brooks. it's like the Mcarthy thing, 'I am not a communist' and then if you do express some concern you get lumped in with white power guys, as though there are only two positions on the field. it's all bullshit, lies and bullshit on both sides, on all sides. psychotic cowardice and passive stupidity. while the few real humans left wink out in twos and threes, or huddle confused below the radar.}

    It is intolerable to ignore the terrible plight of the people in Ethiopia, who are once again facing possible famine. Yet all too often, well-meaning people become accomplices in a cruel charade. When Geldof invented �Band Aid�, he seemed to be acknowledging that aid can only ever be a temporary sticking-plaster on a gaping wound in countries whose governments prefer to keep their people poor. But now he is talking of a Marshall Plan for Africa, he needs to ask why 40 years of aid for Africa have achieved virtually nothing.

    Many of the most corrupt African regimes are kept in power by aid. Most have destroyed their economies, and revenue from taxation is therefore negligible, so aid and crime keep them in the luxury to which they and their cronies have become all too accustomed.
    The aid industry does occasionally seem to recognise the absurdity of channelling taxpayers� money to Swiss bank accounts or routing it to the military-industrial complex. There has been a surge in workshops on �capacity-building�. And some aid does hit the spot, of course. Yet there is still an astonishing tendency to make excuses rather than call the bandits� bluff. No country has had to go without aid for long enough for us to judge whether the absence of aid might be more of a spur to better government than its presence.

    Western governments argue that aid keeps us �engaged� and gives us some control. This is one reason why Britain refused to follow other countries in withdrawing aid from Kenya in 1995, despite its leadership�s appalling human rights abuses. But the reality is that no foreign aid minister wants their budget cut any more than any aid agency does.

    Camilla Cavendish The Times May 29

    Some 200 European and Mediterranean women will jump on their bikes this November and cycle for peace from Lebanon to Jordan to draw attention to the plight of women and children in the region � particularly Palestine.
    �Hundreds of women cycling at the same time is not a normal site here in the Middle East. This event will attract attention ... people will definitely take notice,� explained Regan, the 2003 nominee for International Woman of Europe.

    Jordan Times May 29, 2003

    A multi-million pound hi-tech scheme to combat vehicle crime is to be extended across England and Wales, the government announced today.

    Officers from 23 forces will use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to trap vehicles that have been stolen or involved in crime or are on the roads untaxed or without insurance.

    Special scanners on police patrol vehicles record number plates and, within seconds, tell officers whether action should be taken. The Home Office has invested more than �4.6m in the scheme.

    During a six-month trial involving nine forces, ANPR enabled police to seize more than �100,000 worth of illegal drugs and recover 300 stolen vehicles valued at over �2m and �715,000 worth of stolen goods.

    The technology also led to the arrest of more than 3,000 motorists for a range of crimes.
    Speaking at a demonstration of ANPR near Coventry, Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth said: "This crime-fighting technology, coupled with officers' local knowledge and experience, means vehicles are stopped in a more focused, intelligence-led way, so that honest motorists are less likely to be pulled over by the police."

    Money raised from fixed penalty notices issued to motorists caught by ANPR will help to part-finance the extension of the scheme, the minister said.

    Guardian UK May 29

    South-westerly winds in late winter and early spring are becoming more and more frequent and are affecting the temperature in the Netherlands. In a climate report, the Dutch weather centre, said these winds are causing temperatures to rise.

    The winds coincide with the breaking down of the ozone layer above the North Pole and bring warm air with them. The higher temperatures are also affected by other factors such as volcanic eruptions, solar activity and the greenhouse effect.

    The report shows that temperatures have been rising in the Netherlands in recent years. The top ten warmest years have all occurred since 1991.

    Radio Netherlands 29 May 2003


    {I revere APOD. respect and eagerly await. open with aniticipatory delight, seldom in vain. numinous light, frequently displayed. I mean absolutely no harm, this is love and patience born of that love.
    it took me decades to get a picture in my permanent memory of the path of the moon around the sun, and that was mostly from the encarta that shipped with Win95 on somebody else's box when I was still 5 years out from ownership.
    I still don't have a retrievable grasp of the ecliptic, especially with all the 'travellers' combined. so a photo of the transit of Mercury is interesting to me, as would be any caption.
    and to hit this opaque bit of simulated english in that most innocent state of mind...}

    "The north pole of the Sun, the Earth, Mercury's orbit, although all different, all occur in directions slightly above the left of the image."
    A Mercury Transit Sequence
    APOD May 27, 2003

    Organiser Songwut Khumarak said the "sexy body" category was only meant to boost the self-confidence of the children, some of whom were as young as three-years-old.
    But children's rights activists condemned the contest, saying that it reinforced Thailand's image as a haven for paedophiles.
    "We overlooked the fact that people might think the categories were offensive or negative," Mr Songwut told the Associated Press.
    Mr Songwut said that he had only chosen the title of the "sexy body" category because it "sounded fun".
    But Carmen Madrinan of the campaigning group Ecpat disagreed.
    "This is an example of how the adult sexual interest in children is legitimized and has gradually been normalized in society", she said.
    And Wallop Tungkananurak, a senator in the Thai Parliament, urged the government to stop the contest altogether.
    "There is no reason why children need to think about sexiness or try to be sexy. It is ridiculous. There are many other ways to boost their self-confidence," he told the Associated Press news agency.

    BBC UK 27 May

    Pounds of steel discovered to have been eaten away from the head of an Ohio nuclear reactor in February 2002 : 70

    Thickness in inches of the warped stainless steel that remained to prevent the reactor from rupturing into the air : 3⁄8

    Grant that the Department of Energy gave a U.S. company last November to create a new living organism : $3,000,000

    Percentage, respectively, of the U.S. fathers and mothers responsible for child support who do not pay it : 26, 36

    Percentage of employed U.S. mothers who think full-time mothers look down on them : 66

    Percentage of full-time mothers who think employed mothers look down on them : 73

    Harper's Index online May 2003

    One of the discoveries for which BeppoSAX will be best remembered is solving the riddle of the gamma ray flashes. In the 70's these bursts of highly energetic radiation were measured for the first time but where they came from and what was causing them was unknown. "What BeppoSAX taught us is that these explosions come from far away � 5 to 10 billion light years, from the furthest reaches of our universe," says Professor Wijers. "They are the most powerful explosions that are known to date. They have to do with the death of very heavy stars."

    Liesbeth de Bakker Radio Netherlands 19 May 2003


    Country Joe McDonald

    {it's the confusion of war I never had, the death the killing wounds yes and fear screaming pain days and nights of raw fear sleeping in mud a little, always a taste of it, never the weeks and weeks and the gun faithful like a dog, no I never had that, exactly. we're at war now. like troops on a ship headed overseas. getting more jittery by the day. the sacrifice is always what they talk about, like some kid jerked from the sidewalk and stamped into a marching obedient number sacrificed so much. it's all sacrifice now. it's all hell. everybody wants taps but I play what I feel. and it's either play it all the time or this one day especially fight harder. I'm at war. maybe you're not. maybe you were once. maybe that should be honored and maybe today's that day, and in the little gap between my terror and the overwhelming disgust and rage that follows it like a wave I do feel that honoring. yes many men have died and suffered in these wars. these wars with their beginnings and their ends. and picking a special day for that recognition is a good thing, sure. but too much is gone unrecognized. and too many veterans quit fighting when they were told to, even though it was obvious the cause was still unwon. so here's a backhand salute, a bitter grin and a quiet moment you'll never hear. and a prayer that peace comes soon

    Born in 1868, Constance could have settled for the life of a fashionable London lady, but she decided to use her aristocratic influence to fight for justice and equality for the poor, women, and the Irish nationalist cause.

    Her conscience was pricked by seeing hungry tenants evicted from their homes in the west of Ireland because they could not pay their rent. She helped supply food to them, and later joined the suffragette movement.
    She was the first woman elected to the British parliament, but in common with other Sinn Fein members refused to take her seat in Westminster, becoming instead labour minister in the independent government set up in Dublin.

    This was opposed by London, and she was jailed again.

    She fought for the republicans in the Irish civil war, joined Fianna Fail, the political party founded by Eamon De Valera in 1926, and was elected again to the Dail, the Irish parliament, in 1927, the year she died.

    Josslyn Gore-Booth, the present owner of Lissadell, is the grandson of Countess Markiewicz's brother, also called Josslyn.

    His decision to sell has prompted calls for government intervention.

    Arthur Morgan, a Sinn Fein member of the Irish parliament, called for the house to be preserved as a "monument to the heroine of the 1916 Rising".

    "Sinn Fein believes that it is time for the state to examine the options for reappropriating hereditary estates which are a legacy of our colonial past and have no place in a modern Ireland," he said.

    Maura McTighe of the Yeats Society said she would be devastated if the house were destroyed or redeveloped.

    "Too much of Ireland has gone into golf courses for Americans," she said.

    Rosie Cowan The Guardian UK May 27

    The findings over the weekend showed that the cow had probably not been infected during the last two years, and that unhealthy practices were not evident on the ranch outside Wanham, a town in northwestern Alberta, where the cow last lived.
    "Its good news," The Globe and Mail quoted Brian Evans, the chief veterinary officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as telling reporters. "But we're trying to put this in context. It's one step."
    The nation's export-dependent cattle industry, representing $7 billion a year in sales, remains paralyzed. Large-scale sales of cattle have been halted, as prices plummeted last week. Still, experts say there is no immediate risk to public health and that it is highly unlikely that the outbreak will be anywhere near as serious as outbreaks in Europe in the 1980's and 1990's that led to the slaughter of nearly four million cattle.

    About 130 people have died from a human variant of B.S.E., believed to be acquired from eating infected meat.

    NYTimes May 26
    {and here's some statistics, to compare the 130 people who've died from BSE, or the 600+ who've died from SARS:

  • There is a death caused by a motor vehicle crash every 12 minutes; there is a disabling injury every 14 seconds.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 33.
  • The age groups most affected by motor vehicle crashes are 15-24 and 75+.
  • There were an estimated 5,800 pedestrian deaths and 90,000 injuries.
  • Walking in the roadway accounted for only 9% of all pedestrian deaths and injuries.
  • About 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related traffic accident at some time in their lives.
  • Bicycling resulted in about 800 deaths in collisions with motor vehicles.
    National Safety Council Report on Injuries in America, 2001
    bicycling. in the year 2000. in the US. 800 people. so maybe 2001 and 2002 weren't so bad. maybe only 700 in those years. so what's that? 2200 people in three years? it's more than that but still. call it 2000. from bicycle/motor vehicle collisions. 130 from Mad Cow. not quite 700 from SARS.
    maybe what we're really afraid of is something else.}

    {and here's your total terror information awareness

    I go out after this post and start dinner, and on my way back here, timed perfectly as I pass through the living room where my mom's watching the tube, is a Scientology-vibe PSA:

    more than 2*00 children die each year from car accidents, dark visuals of parent cinching seat belt on kid, stark graphics, fade out, fade in,more than 6,000 die each year from second-hand smoke, more dark visuals of kid in seat belts, then holding shot of long-haired cult-member/mother smoking, fade, stark visuals, 'What are you protecting them from?'

    how strange that a cause of death in children 3 times greater than traffic fatalities has completely escaped the notice of the National Safety Council.}

    ...WASHINGTON--Oct. 23, 2002--In a letter published today in the nation's leading medical journal, AAA noted that a prominent study on the health issues of Latino children failed to mention the number one public health threat to this population -- car crashes.

    The AutoChannel 10/23/02

  • An 11-year-old Palestinian boy, Samr Arar, was killed by IDF gunfire in the West Bank village of Krawat Ani Zeid, east of Qalqilyah, on Monday evening. Palestinian sources said that Arar was killed in an exchange of fire in the village between IDF troops and Palestinians.

    Arar was hit in the head when soldiers fired live rounds to try to disperse a crowd of stone throwers in a village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, witnesses said.

    Five unarmed civilians have been killed in Krawat Ani Zeid over the course of the past month.
    IDF troops shot at a convoy of diplomatic vehicles at a military roadblock in the Gaza Strip on Monday, twice hitting the windscreen of one of the cars but causing no injuries, diplomatic sources said.
    The diplomats were badly shaken by the incident as the small convoy was stopped leaving the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza, close to the main Erez crossing with Israel, the sources said.
    They said the convoy included representatives of Switzerland, Britain, Greece, Sweden, and Austria.

    Also Monday, a Palestinian woman carrying a knife and suspected of planning to stab a soldier was arrested at the Taibeh roadblock along the Green Line border. No injuries were reported in the incident.

    An investigation into the woman's background revealed her sister was shot and moderately wounded by IDF troops six months ago when she attempted to stab a soldier at the same roadblock.

    Haaretz 27/05/2003

    The International Committee of the Red Cross so far has been denied access to what the organisation believes could be as many as 3,000 prisoners held in searing heat. All other requests to inspect conditions under which prisoners are being held have been met with silence or been turned down.

    There is circumstantial evidence that prisoners are being gagged and hooded, in the manner of the Afghans and other captives held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - treatment in itself questionable under international law.

    Unlike the Afghans in Cuba, there is no doubt about the status of these captives, whether PoWs or civilians arrested for looting or other crimes under military occupation: all have the right, under the laws of war, to be visited and documented by the International Red Cross. 'There is no argument about the situation with regard to the Iraqi armed forces and even the Fedayeen Saddam,' said the ICRC's spokeswoman in Baghdad, Nada Doumani.

    'They are prisoners of war because they have been captured during a clear conflict between two states. If they served in the armed forces or in a militia with distinctive clothing which came under the chain of command of one of the warring states, they are protected under article 143 of the Geneva Convention.'

    Observer Uk May 25
    link path from Undernews/Sam Smith May 26

    Those who study animal languages conclude a grasshopper has far more chirps of significance than a pig has significant oinks. LMBoyd

    The US-run Iraqi administration has cancelled or suspended three oil contracts with Russian and Chinese firms signed by the ousted government of Saddam Hussein.
    Thamir Ghadhban, the US-appointed de facto Iraqi oil minister, said on Saturday all pre-war contracts would be re-evaluated and new deals announced soon.
    "We will examine each one on its legal, economic merits," he said.
    French, Russian and Chinese companies all won contracts in recent years for work in Iraq. Their governments opposed US war plans at the UN Security Council.
    Ghadhban said that contracts would be soon awarded to international oil companies to restore oil production and nations who had opposed the war would not be discriminated against.
    "We will definitely be dealing with all international oil companies in a fair and just way," Mr Ghadhban said.

    BBCNews 26 May, 2003

    Asked about the results of a Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper poll published Monday, which showed that 56 percent of Israelis supported the road map, Haetzni said:

    "Yes, of course. And the Jews also willingly boarded those trains, believing everything that the Germans told them. The Jews are a people which is very dangerous to itself. It is a people that has brought Holocausts down on itself throughout the course of its history," he told Israel Radio.

    "It is a people that has extraordinary powers of construction, and extraordinary powers of destruction. It builds and destroys, and this is an intrinsic part of Sharon's personality - Sharon is the greatest builder that we have had, and the greatest destroyer. Today he is in a destruction phase."

    Haetzni said that the road map would inevitably set Israel on a collision course with the United States, its closest ally and supplier of billions of dollars in foreign aid.

    Haaretz 26/05/2003


    The United States has now reached the point where a total �surveillance society� has become a realistic possibility, the American Civil Liberties Union warns in a new report.

    �Many people still do not grasp that Big Brother surveillance is no longer the stuff of books and movies,� said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU�s Technology and Liberty Program and a co-author of the report.

    �Given the capabilities of today�s technology, the only thing protecting us from a full-fledged surveillance society are the legal and political institutions we have inherited as Americans,� he added. �Unfortunately, the September 11 attacks have led some to embrace the fallacy that weakening the Constitution will strengthen America.�

    link from floating wreckage
    {ironically some of us who may be already there, in the sense of occupying little mini-TIA's, well, it's not that scary. I mean the idea of it happening to everybody else. it may be the only clear shot we ever get.
    it's like the guillotine a little. worked great, at first. but it just kept on working and working and working...}

    But Hutton is not talking about the way other countries fund their health service. France enjoys a level of spending far beyond ours. Last year, 9.9 per cent of its gross domestic product went on healthcare, compared with 7.7 per cent in the UK. The money has given them nearly twice the number of beds and a larger number of doctors and other staff.

    The French system was rated the best in the world by the World Health Organisation when it looked at access to healthcare, efficiency and effectiveness. But it is not the highest spender; that dubious honour goes to America, which puts an astonishing 14 per cent of its GDP into healthcare but still leaves a large section of its population without proper medical cover.

    Observer May 25
    {it might just be that who gets the money matters more than how much gets spent.


    ...Ming Kipa Sherpa, 15, had become the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest, after slogging up the last stage of the 8,848-metre peak on Thursday night.

    She reached the summit with her 30-year-old sister Lhapka Sherpa. News of her extraordinary achievement filtered down to Everest base camp yesterday morning , as climbers gathered to congratulate another Sherpa, Pemba Dorjie, after he broke the world record for the quickest Everest ascent.

    Last week, Dorjie managed to climb Everest in 12 hours and 45 minutes...

    Observer Int.May 25


    "The message is that the Bush administration intends its National Security Strategy to be taken seriously, as the "test case" [Iraq] illustrates. It intends to dominate the world by force, the one dimension in which it rules supreme, and to do so permanently. A more specific message, illustrated dramatically by the Iraq-North Korea case, is that if you want to fend off a US attack, you had better have a credible deterrent. It's widely assumed in elite circles that the likely consequence is proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terror, in various forms, based on fear and loathing for the US administration, which was regarded as the greatest threat to world peace even before the invasion. That's no small matter these days. Questions of peace shade quickly into questions of survival for the species, given the case of means of violence."

    Noam Chomsky will be on the Amsterdam Forum at Radio Netherlands May 27

    In southern India a heat wave has killed close to 180 people. Temperatures have risen above 47 degrees Celsius in the state of Andhra Pradesh. A shortage of drinking water is feared. Current high temperatures are expected to hold for several days. Weather specialists hope the arrival of the monsoon rains, expected at the beginning of next week, will bring some relief.

    Last year, more than a 1,000 people died in Andhra Pradesh from the results of a heat wave.

    Radio Netherlands ibid.

    US Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says the relationship between US President George W Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schr�der will never be the same again. The chancellor's persistent opposition to the US-led war against Iraq seriously strained US-German relations.

    In an interview that will appear on Monday in the German weekly Focus, the US security advisor says Washington's relationship with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is also at a low. Mr Fischer's past as a left-wing activist in the 1960's is said not to fit the profile of a statesman. The American criticism comes at a time when US Secretary of State Colin Powell is trying to improve relationships with Germany.

    Radio Netherlands May 24
    {not the news part, the surreal news part, like those cheap horror movies where the guy's hand starts moving on its own, creeping toward his throat...}

    Now, researchers in Hong Kong have identified the culprit - the masked palm civet, a small cat-like mammal that is treated as a culinary delicacy in some parts of China.

    Virologists brought in to hunt down the Sars virus always suspected that it had lingered in farmyard or domestic animals before making the cross-species jump into humans.
    Civet is one of the main ingredients in the exotic wildlife dish "dragon-tiger-phoenix soup", for which wealthy Chinese in Guangdong province will pay large sums.

    The soup is flavoured with chrysanthemum petals and includes shreds of civet cat and snake.
    "It may not be the end of the story," said Professor Oxford. "It might well have jumped from another animal into the civets, and it will take a lot of work to sort that out."

    The Sars epidemic is believed to be coming under control in Hong Kong, and yesterday the World Health Organisation withdrew its warning against travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong.

    Taiwan is now reporting the highest number of new infections, bringing the total for the region to 483. Worldwide, 4,212 people remain infected with the disease

    Guardian UK May 24
    {everyone in the first world knows that acronym. and the 'death toll' is at something under 1,000. the 'gnostic' pantheon, of deranged authority and sick divinity, it seems possible. because at the same time the highway takes 1,000 people a day. 100 a day in the US alone. but housewives tremble in fear, children worry, grown men exercise mental discipline, keeping the threat of the threat at bay. the scourge of SARS!}


    That's why I march uncomfortably alongside CodePink Women for Peace and the National Rifle Association, between liberal Olympia Snowe and conservative Ted Stevens under the banner of "localism, competition and diversity of views." That's why, too, we resent the conflicted refusal of most networks, stations and their putative purchasers to report fully and in prime time on their owners' power grab scheduled for June 2.

    Must broadcasters of news act only on behalf of the powerful broadcast lobby? Are they not obligated, in the long-forgotten "public interest," to call to the attention of viewers and readers the arrogance of a regulatory commission that will not hold extended public hearings on the most controversial decision in its history?

    So much of our lives should not be in the hands of one swing-vote commissioner. Let's debate this out in the open, take polls, get the president on the record and turn up the heat.

    William Safire NYTimes May 22

    a quick note to tell you we expect to launch today at 2 p.m. Laos time as we had hoped. We believe we have solved the few problems we faced while in the field. We will retest functions this morning. We are confident enough in those tests' positive results that we are inviting our friends to join us today in Phon Kham for the informal launch of the one-village version of the Jhai PC and communications system.

    JHAI Foundation's pedalpeoplepower Laotian LAN goes up and running

    In his State of the Union speech, Bush noted that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." But, when the Bush administration handed over the documents that allegedly detailed Saddam's purchase to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the agency came back with a startling reply: They were forgeries. The Bush administration quietly admitted as much.

    The New Republic (tnr) 05.22.03
    {ipso facto the President is a liar. a long list of similar falsehoods in an article by Peter Beinart}

    Activists from Pygmy communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo want the United Nations to set up a tribunal to try government and rebel fighters accused of slaughtering and eating Pygmies during fighting in the north-east of the country.

    Army, rebel and tribal fighters have been pursuing them in forests, killing and eating them, the activists said on Wednesday. Some fighters believed that eating their flesh would give them magic power, the activists said, adding that there had been reports of markets for the flesh.

    Independent UK May 23 May 2003
    Utah is getting ready to execute two convicted criminals by firing squad, an old and bloody means of execution that is likely to stir renewed debate about the cruelty of capital punishment in the United States.

    The two men, a serial killer and a white supremacist who stabbed a fellow inmate in a vicious murder captured on videotape, are scheduled to die on consecutive nights at the end of next month.


    You're either right-faced or left-faced. According to the experts, you can tell which by checking in a mirror. It's the more muscular and flexible side of your face. That side probably has a higher eyebrow. And deeper dimple, if any. Report is 88 percent of us are right-faced. Gifted musicians, it's said, tend to be left-faced.

    Mohawk shot from Operation Redwing (1956, 360KT). A thermonuclear test, the 'black stick' towards the lower right of the picture is a 300-foot tower, on which the device rested. The remains of the shot cab form the 'pimple' on the right.

    Rapatronic Photographs

    pseudo-electro-micrographic images of yoked evil

    and more and more and all those tribal names, I get a little speechless, in that I can't speak directly to it. to call these things 'Zuni' 'Blackfoot' 'Navajo'. it's like the head of Mangas Coloradas. that's terror. traumatizing into helplessness. so what do you do? get worse?

    Aid is being sent to Algeria from abroad. An International Red Cross team from Switzerland has arrived in the disaster area to make an inventory of what is needed. Former colonial power France has dispatched 120 rescue workers with dogs to search the wreckage. Germany has also offered help.

    Radio Netherlands May 23
    {Israel has high-tech expertise, the US has a lot of manpower in the vicinity...}


    Mine workers from West Virginia and Kentucky took their protest of the planned reality show "The Real Beverly Hillbillies" to CBS' parent company on Wednesday.

    "We're tired of the negative image of the Appalachian people," Tom Manuel, an underground electrician from Fairmont, W. Va., said outside Viacom's Manhattan headquarters, where the media giant was holding a shareholders meeting.
    Roberts said his union would continue to protest around the country until CBS withdraws plans for the program. He also vowed to stage civil disobedience actions, boycott the show's advertisers and pressure local CBS affiliates not to carry the program.

    People across the Appalachian region have been voicing strong opposition to the show.

    Other major labor unions and 43 members of the House of Representatives from Florida to Texas also have asked CBS to cancel plans for the program.

    "Every state of the union has people that are illiterate and culturally backward," said Manuel, who came to New York with a dozen other union members. "But for some reason everybody thinks all Appalachian people are like that. We're not. It's a very rich heritage, and we resent the way we're presented on national media."

    ABCNews May 21
    {"the Appalachian people". I like that. never mind that if you tried to make a show about urban Jews homesteading in Alaska you'd be hounded to extinction, or Puerto Ricans in Westchester, or ghetto blacks in Beverly Hills...southern whites are the only minority left it's socially permissible to ridicule. and while we're tangentializing, the depiction of slavery as merely a vestigial racist institution allows present-day economic slavery to continue unchallenged.}

    Shares in the five tobacco companies targeted by the action - Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco, Brown & Williamson, and Liggett Group - rose sharply as soon as the appeals court reached its decision.

    Shares in Altria, Philip Morris' parent company, were up by more than 10% in morning trade on Wall Street.

    The appeals court said that while it had barred the plaintiffs from taking out a single lawsuit in a so-called class action against the tobacco firms, they remained free to sue individually.

    The decision marks a major legal victory for the tobacco industry, which in recent years has been hit by numerous multi-billion dollar awards in cases brought by ill smokers.

    Closing in

    Earlier this year, there was speculation that Philip Morris might go bust after it said it was unable to pay a $12bn bond as part of a separate lawsuit.

    The bond was later reduced on appeal.

    The tobacco industry is still fighting a second case brought by the US Justice Department, which wants cigarette firms to pay $289bn in compensation for damaging public health.

    The Florida appeals court decision came on the day that 192 countries, including the US, signed up to a World Health Organisation-sponsored treaty aimed at curbing tobacco use.

    The treaty commits signatories to restricting tobacco advertising and emphasising the health risks of smoking.

    BBCNews May 21 2003

    Agence France Presse drops their photos on a 24 hour cycle so this goes soon.
    "An American soldier prepares to frisk Afghan women villagers during Operation Deliberate Strike, north of Kandahar, as US forces continue to search for terrorist factions in Afghanistan."


    "An Afghan girl cries as an American soldier approaches to search her house in a village during Operation Deliberate Strike, some 60 kilometers north of Kandahar."
    after Mai 21 pictures for captions here

    {it seems most unlikely, and that makes it seem trivial, but, should this whole thing hang together long enough, the egregious evil displayed in this site's galleries will take its place alongside the criminal entertainment of such horrors as aboriginal curiosities exhibited in their native costumes in the courts of Europe, when they were taken from their homes with no regard for what that meant, when many of them died in transit, or during their 'exhibition'.
    'out of the cage, on your knees, and back to the cage'.
    the fact that genetic knowledge and manipulative technique has so outstripped these rube-strategies of sexual mix-and-match means little. it's evil, it's disgusting, it proves nothing but the sickness in the hearts and minds of its 'creators'.}

    As for the troops we were all vigorously enjoined to "support" with our flags and yellow ribbons � they will come home to find their veterans' benefits cut by an estimated $15 billion over the next 10 years. American veterans' hospitals, which already resemble the looted hospitals of downtown Baghdad, will soon have fewer amenities to offer than morgues.

    It would be churlish to begrudge the Iraqis � who have, after all, endured Saddam Hussein, more than a decade of sanctions and Operation Iraqi Freedom � any crumbs of comfort and liberty. But if Bush's vision of the ideal polity is represented by his plans for Iraq, why can't we have just a little taste of that here?

    There is a solution, and I do not mean the tedious, exasperating work of building a mass movement for social justice in the homeland. No, it's far simpler than that: The solution is mass emigration to Iraq.

    There's plenty of available housing in Iraq, though mostly of the "handyman's special" variety, thanks to the unfortunate side effects of the liberation process. Power and water will soon be flowing, probably a lot more cheaply than they do here, and there are exciting opportunities for people in the de-mining business and for the purveyors of artificial limbs. Not to mention that you will never have to worry about health insurance again.

    Barbara Ehrenreich May 15, 2003


    captured by May 15, 2003:
    At almost 10:40 AM Eastern Time CNN had just returned from a commercial break and went to a live news conference that was already in progress. It was taking place in Baghdad with Lt. General McKiernan, the Coalition Commander of the Land Company, and Major General Buford-Blount, Commander of the 3rd Infantry. Here is a transcript of the entirety of the question I found to be most significant, and the immediate response:

    Patrick Thorne, Independent Filmmaker: "My name is Patrick Thorne. I'm an independent film maker from New York. I'm also a Vietnam veteran, and I was in Baghdad for two months. I was arrested by the [phonetically spelled] Maharaj and then expelled from the country and I just came back into Baghdad yesterday. So I didn't see the extent of the damage. I haven't seen this kind of destruction since the carpet bombing of Hanoi. I'm asking you gentlemen a point blank question: are you proud of what you've achieved here in this city and in this country?"

    Lt. Gen. McKiernan: "I'm not going to answer that question."

    Independent UK fat cat list 2003, part one

    {I thought it was a hyphen, that minus sign in front of the shareholder returns, I thought gee, those stocks are kicking down, I thought man, that's a good investment there, 71.4% return, wow.}

    US bans Canadian beef

    The United States banned Canadian beef imports pending further investigation into the first case of mad-cow disease in Canada.
    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) took the step as Canada revealed a case of mad-cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), had been found in the western province of Alberta.

    Last year, 90 percent of Canada's 575,000 tonnes of beef exports went to the United States, according to Canadian statistics.

    Last year, the United States imported 389,183 tonnes of Canadian beef, and 1.687 million head of Canadian cattle, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
    In 2001, the United States consumed a total of 18 billion pounds (8 billion kilograms) of boneless beef, a USDA official said.

    Agence France Presse Mai 21, 2003


    The way things got to such a sorry pass is that the R's have been running on rote, lock-step voting.

    No Democratic amendment gets considered on its merits, no matter how sensible it is. Shell bills get introduced, and then whole sections are amended on the floor, in a parody of legislative process.

    The creepy thing about the far-right Republicans, who are definitely in the majority in the House, is not that they are dismantling government because they won't raise taxes -- they're dismantling government because they think it shouldn't help people. They really think that health and human services should not be provided.

    It's an old line among liberals that anti-choice people care more about the unborn than they do about the born, but I'm telling you that it's not just some clever line -- these people are writing it into the state budget.

    everyone's favorite Aunt Molly, Ivins Austin Star-Telegram May 15, 2003

    reprints:{I'm probably about to lose a massive amount of my back pages here. somewhere in the archives between April 02 and December 02 is some bad code or something that's made those archives disappear and I can't get no help from the server side crew because I'm a freeloader I guess, anyway they're about to roll the whole mess over to a new server or something and I'm afraid I'll lose all that so this is something I remembered because of a Robert Stone interview robotwisdom linked to, so I thought this was in the Bermuda Archive Triangle but it wasn't but now it's here also}

    Don Williams:

    Yes, Kesey proselytized for drug use, and doubtlessly was a proximate cause of suffering. It must be said that many have suffered and died because of drug abuse. Never mind that many lives were changed for the better in the 1960s, and that an expansive new worldview took center stage that doubtlessly saved millions. Never mind that LSD was legal back then, and that it was the CIA who introduced the drugs to Kesey, or that it was the government's own faulty drug policy that gave rise to unregulated use and the resulting cocaine wars in our inner cities. It must be admitted that Kesey was part of the mix that popularized drugs.

    {Kesey's response to somebody in the crowd jeering when he offered to accept someone's baby rather than it being aborted, this was at a poetry thing at I think Lewis and Clark, somewhere anyway in Portland sometime in '75. he said to the effect that it wasn't about the numbers. the human race wasn't a pile of digits that got too big, that it was about HOW we lived, that there was enough food right then for everybody living, which there was, that it wasn't about running out of food it was about running out of good people, which by getting everybody all excited about the numbers being too high we would encourage the THEMs to reduce the numbers which of course they would start with the gadflies, which of all these words, that one is accurate, he said 'gadflies', which was us pretty much, and wouldn't that be a fine thing to make sure that all the THEMs got enough to eat because there wasn't anymore us around to have to share it all with. and of course he wasn't a naif, or naive about it, but it's there the truth of it, the actual practicality of it, the truth is if you live right and I live right and we all do, the numbers will proceed to take care of themselves, it's not a henhouse, at least it wasn't then. these days are a little different.
    the other thing I wanted to put in here, is that the good that was done by people with psychedelically-awakened minds is immeasurable, nobody can prove it and because of that it goes entirely unremarked upon though one glance at the young people of this day will show a measure of health and fitness that was freakishly rare in the mid 60's, just like telling kids now that the sides of the road were covered literally covered with trash in some areas and filthy with litter everywhere produces incredulity and depending on their respect for the teller pure disbelief, ditto smoking INSIDE stores. no way. yes way. cigarette butts on the linoleum in the grocery store. we did that, or undid it rather. and never took credit for it, because there was still too much work to do. we cleaned up and redirected the whole country's attitude about food, about health, the whole world's really, and for a while it looked like it might get the upper hand, that healthy way of looking at life. it shows in the faces of lots of kids today. and drugs were a part of what that was. why do we have to get mealy-mouthed about collateral damage every time we say that? do the car companies have to talk about traffic fatalities being the number one killer of children? of people under 30? do they? no Debbie it's not drunk drivers, it's cars and going everywhere in cars. the numbers are astronomically weighted there. so the heck with it. Kesey took drugs, advocated the psychedelic experience, and he was one of the finest men I've ever known. he was a good man, a genuinely decent honest man, and he was powerfully brave with that goodness. I've known tough guys who were gentle when things were calm, and when things got rough they got rough right back. Kesey took his gentleness into uncharted territory and fought with the darkest forces this world knows, and kept that gentleness alive. he was a man of peace and a mother wit. whether America wants to admit it or not, he was an American champion, in the fullest sense of that word.}

    Neo-Nazi web sites triple

    Neo-Nazis are using the Internet to attract and recruit young people to the scene and the number of far-right web sites in Germany has more than tripled in the past four years, according to a studyGermany's family ministry showed a drastic increase in the number of sites run by extremists, many of them using a blend of sophisticated programming and a media-like approach aimed at attracting fresh recruits to the neo-Nazi scene. "The tendency is worrying," family minister Renate Schmidt said in a statement. "Far-right extremists are using emotionally charged arguments to appeal to the feelings and fears of young people. At the same time, they are offering oversimplified answers with a far-right slant."

    NYTimes May 19 2003 (reg req)
    {Schmidt's talking about some German nutballs, not the Bush administration.}


    "Political repression in the United States has reached monstrous proportions. Black and Brown peoples especially � victims of the most vicious and calculated forms of class, national and racial oppression -- bear the brunt of the repression even as it now engulfs the most presumably respectable groups and individuals including members of Congress. Literally tens of thousands of innocent men and women � fill the jails and prisons; hundreds of thousands more are the subject of police, FBI and military intelligence investigations�. It seems to us that the most important fact to be considered in the midst of this repression is that it and its attendant paraphernalia for coercion, manipulation and control reflect serious infirmities in the present social order. That is, while we do not we do not underestimate the coercive resources � available to the state to suppress all forms of opposition (and the centralisation of control over those forces), we think that the necessity to resort to such repression is reflective of profound social crisis, of systemic disintegration."

    I think you�ll have to agree that it could have been written today, not 32 years ago. Yet who today has read this book? How many of you have even heard of Angela Y Davis or know of her frame-up by the then governor of California, Ronald Reagan? The assault on the Black Panthers during the latter half of the 1960s and into the 70s was accompanied by the same hysteria that surrounds the current �terrorist menace�. Surveillance, infiltration, the illegal detention of opponents by the Nixon administration and even cold-blooded murder, were carried out in an atmosphere of paranoia and the demonisation of all opponents, especially the Panthers, who not only dared defend themselves, but more importantly carried their mission into communities, creating schools and breakfast programmes for children, organised communities and defended them against a racist police and racist state institutions. It was for these, practical examples more than their armed defiance, that the wrath and the full force of the state descended on them and destroyed them. But the most important thing they destroyed was our power to remember.
    William Bowles, quoting Sister Angela
    at 05/15/03
    (" is independent. It is NOT related to Aljazeera of Qatar, or to any other website with a similar name")
    Angela Davis live in 1970 at Soul and Soledad

    Angela Davis bio at the African American Registry

    Danny Glover's image is under revision. It's being revamped on cable TV and talk shows that portray him as an un-American creep who deserves to lose his job for speaking out against the Bush administration.

    His is the latest name on the new Hollywood blacklist that's being compiled by high-tech bullies trying to work a two-fer: drum up ratings and drown out dissent.

    All of a sudden, making contrary or outre political comments isn't only not OK, it's a punishable offense.

    On Wednesday, operators at MCI took calls all day long from viewers of MSNBC's Scarborough Country. The show's host, Joe Scarborough, a Republican ex-congressman who goes for the jugular, encouraged viewers to urge MCI to cancel Glover's contract.

    He even flashed the telephone number on screen, so viewers could "demand that MCI get rid of him."

    Laura Berman Detroit News May 16 2003 reprinted in Common Dreams May 18, 2003

    the Sumerian city of Ur in southern Iraq - has been vandalised by American soldiers and airmen, according to aid workers in the area.

    They claim that US forces have spray-painted the remains with graffiti and stolen kiln-baked bricks made millennia ago. As a result, the US military has put the archaeological treasure, which dates back 6,000 years, off-limits to its own troops. Any violations will be punishable in military courts.

    Ed Vulliamy GuardianUk May 18 2003
    {Ur of course, besides lending its name to a descriptive prefix meaning 'first above all', was the first historically verifiable city, and, somewhat more significantly, was more than likely the birthplace of Abraham. Abraham being of course the recognized progenitor of Judaism in all its forms, cultural, genetic, and religious, and, by virtue of religion, being also the founder of Christianity and Islam. of course that was a long time ago, and these guys are pretty frustrated and all, and feeling pretty unappreciated...}

    Stanford�s library, for example, has announced a digitization project to digitize books. They have technology that can scan 1,000 pages an hour. They are chafing for the opportunity to scan books that are no longer commercially available, but that under current law remain under copyright. If this proposal passed, 98% of books just 50 years old could be scanned and posted for free on the Internet.

    Stanford is not alone. This has long been a passion of Brewster Kahle and his Internet Archive, as well as many others. Yet because of current copyright regulation, these projects � that would lower the cost of libraries dramatically, and spread knowledge broadly � cannot go forward. The costs of clearing the rights to makes these works available is extraordinarily high.

    Yet the lobbyists are fighting even this tiny compromise. The public domain is competition for them. They will fight this competition. And so long as they have the lobbyists, and the rest of the world remains silent, they will win.

    We need to your help to resist this now. At this stage, all that we need is one congressperson to introduce the proposal. Whether you call it the Copyright Term Deregulation Act, or the Public Domain Enhancement Act, doesn�t matter. What matters is finding a sponsor, so we can begin to show the world just how extreme this debate has become: They have already gotten a 20 year extension of all copyrights just so 2% can benefit; and now they object to paying just $1 for that benefit, so that no one else might compete with them.

    If you believe this is wrong, here are two things you can do: (1) Write your Representative and Senator, and ask them to be the first to introduce this statute; point them to the website, and ask them to respond. And even more importantly, (2) blog this request, so that others who think about these issues can get involved in the conversation.

    Lawrence Lessig Blog May 16 03
    link from the resolute Dan Gillmor

    Without sufficient safeguards, increasingly popular wireless networking technology could interfere with vital military radar systems.

    Desperately looking for ways to get out of a long-running slump, many IT companies have pinned their hopes on the new wireless LAN standard called 802.11a. It can transmit data about five times faster than the existing 802.11b standard�fast enough for applications such as video and streaming media. In terms of performance, it can be as good or better than Ethernet.

    But 802.11a operates at radio frequencies between 5 GHz and 6 GHz, and therein lies a problem. Such wireless-fidelity (Wi-Fi) transmitters can cause significant interference with military strategic and tactical radar systems that also operate between 5 GHz and 6 GHz, unless appropriate interference protection mechanisms are in place. As many as 10 types of Department of Defense-run radar systems could be affected, such as systems used for missile guidance, aircraft monitoring and storm tracking.

    "Every reallocation of spectrum essential to military capability from DoD reduces flexibility, requires that replacement equipment be purchased or a work-around developed and erodes our realistic training." The official continued, "While we recognize that there are many competing needs for spectrum, including needs for commerce, important national defense needs must be a top priority.

    Patrick Chisholm Military Information Technology

    link path from the irrepressible Bruce Sterling{see him in top hat and tails at some near-future venue, maybe a little Wehrmacht whiteface, patter 10 or 15 bps up from cultural standard, galactic approval-rating redlining...}

    {these things seem so godawfully simple I feel embarrassed to be concerned with them. hardware nitwits talking about the absolute inconsequentiality of 'civilian' needs and interests. as though of course it goes without saying that 'military' needs come first (with a grudging admission of the concurrent demands of 'commerce', the 'people' seemingly having no real standing.)
    except hey, fellas. that's who you're supposed to be protecting? that's what and who. without that you're a set of wind-up teeth, chattering on an empty sidewalk. unless of course the reality is you actually work for somebody else? hmmm? the idea of sacrificing freedom so that we can be free, giving up basic rights so that we can win? it doesn't hold much water.}

    Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First, who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly, "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are."

    I don't care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire. Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more apposite: The facts can be whatever we want them to be.

    When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn't any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the "Free Press," that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests.

    Arundhati Roy
    at The Riverside Church, New York City, May 13, 2003
    published by the Center for Economic and Social Rights

    According to historian Ida Jager, many Amsterdammers lived under appalling circumstances, "particularly in the Jordaan neighbourhood, but also in the Jewish quarter and on the islands in the northern part of town. There, people who lived in the basements would step in the groundwater when they got out of their beds in the morning.

    "People had no toilets. They used buckets, which they emptied in the gutters and the canals. Until the beginning of the 1870s many people died from cholera. Sometimes people who were not dead yet were taken out of their houses in a coffin to the cemetery to die, to prevent them from infecting the other members of the family."

    As a doctor of both medicine and chemistry, Sarphati knew that health and hygiene went hand in hand. He understood that the city's biggest problem had to be tackled first, in order to improve the general well-being of Amsterdam's poor population.
    ...van der Kooy describes how Sarphati, with his PhD in chemistry, found a way of processing these ashes into fertiliser and then transported them to the east of the country where peat was being cultivated. Not only the ashes could be used, there was also the human manure and the dirt that was swept off the streets. All that was being processed and used as fertiliser.

    Organising Amsterdam's rubbish collection is only one of the projects Sarphati was involved in at the time. He strongly believed that education was the people's ticket out of poverty and, in the mid 1840s, he founded a new type of school for trade and industry. Another one of his projects was the setting-up of a bread factory, where cheap and good quality bread could be produced in large quantities.

    Van der Kooy says that not all of Sarphati's plans were greeted with a lot of enthusiasm by the local government. "Sarphati's plans were very expensive. At the time the ruling classes did not believe in government involvement in enterprises that could be done by private persons...

    Bertine Krol Radio Netherlands 14 May 2003

    I wanted to grow up and be a wild man, too. When I did, I soon realised it wasn't that way at all. I wasn't surrounded by adoring fans, looking dead cool, with girls falling all over me - I was slumped in the corner, covered in vomit, and my dick didn't work.'

    James Frey interview The Observer May 18, 2003

    There is something euphemistic about 'terror', with its connotations of illicit frissons and Disney World rides, rather than mutilated bodies and the dour business of loss and mourning. Thinkers analysing terrorism add, however inadvertently, to the sanitised image. In his polemic Al-Qaeda: And What It Means To Be Modern, John Gray disputes the view that the group is a medieval throwback. He's right. A global network with technical and media skills is a brand whose packaging bears little relation to its objective of recreating a seventh-century caliphate. Its soldiers fly planes, commit cyber-crime and go to prep schools. Al-Qaeda, commercially acute and offering an elastic franchise, is the Starbucks of terrorism. Modernity makes it more graspable but also more terrible.

    Mary Riddell
    The Observer May 18, 2003
    more Mary Ridell here

    Mary Ridell on SARS:

    First war, now pestilence. In these days of hi-tech doom, the riders of the apocalypse (plague division) have switched from horseback to airline business class. Despite the travel upgrade accorded to the Sars virus, events in twenty-first century Toronto and Beijing are not so different from the medical picture of London in 1665.

    The disease spread by the ship's rat, a stowaway from South Asia, started slowly. Physicians died first, then the people, wiped out at the rate of 8,000 every week. Just another of nature's culls, sandwiched between the Black Death three centuries earlier and the 1918 flu that killed 30 million.

    WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Nationally syndicated radio columnist Andy Martin, the only announced 2004 Republican Party candidate for U.S. Senator from Florida, will hold an airport news conference today, May 18th at Reagan national Airport, arrival gate for US Airways Shuttle Flight 2677 at 3:06 P.M., to condemn President Bush's coddling of Ariel Sharon and the Israeli military junta.

    Monday May 19th Martin will conduct a news conference to condemn the Bush administration's policies in Iraq, which have led to the "betrayal of the Iraqi people."

    "Mr. Sharon has not made it to Washington, but I will," says Martin. "I unhesitatingly condemn the occupation of Palestine, and the neo-Nazi tactics of the Sharon regime. Once again, President Bush's foreign policy is left in tatters. To allow Sharon's extremists to pretend there is a 'peace process,' and road map, when there is 'no road,' is a travesty.

    "Israeli propaganda has drugged the American people for too long. Suicide bombing is a response to occupation, brutal occupation, evil occupation. Anyone who contends otherwise is deluding himself.

    "I returned from Israel a few days ago, where I traveled as an Arab to see what it was like. It was sickening to see the way the Israelis are trying to dehumanize Palestinians, and destroying Israel in the process. I traveled on the 'Arab buses' and saw how Palestinians are daily degraded. Sharon is destroying Israel to occupy Palestine, and Bush is endangering Americans to kowtow to Sharon. It will all end badly," says Martin. 5/18/2003

    What single factor connects the following features of the contemporary world?

  • the clearance of the rain forests
  • the desertification of the grasslands
  • soil erosion caused by deforestation
  • the loss of boundaries and intensification of agriculture
  • the accumulation of landfill sites
  • the pollution of the landscape by non-biodegradable waste
  • the destruction of the high street and the town centre by the out-of-town supermarket
  • the escalation in food miles, to the point where food may consume its own weight in fossil fuels before arriving on the supermarket shelf
  • the spread of fast food and the culture of fast food
  • the disappearance of the family meal
  • the pauperisation of the small farmer
  • the growth of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and patented crops
  • the use of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on �trade-related intellectual property rights� to obliterate local food economies
  • the increasing obesity of populations in wealthy countries, to the point where obesity is in some places the leading cause of premature death
  • the aesthetic pollution of our historic townscapes by the logos and facades of the fast-food chains
  • the disappearance of the village shop and the local market.

    Eating the world: the philosophy of food
    Roger Scruton openDemocracy 15 - 5 - 2003

  • 17.5.03

    On average, one migrant worker dies every day. They fall victims to dehydration, heatstroke, drowning, hypothermia, suffocation or, as in several recent cases, gunfire from anti-immigrant vigilante groups. The increased enforcement has also made the immigrant workers more dependent upon the coyotes to find a means of getting across. They in turn have raised their fees, charging $1,500 a person or more.

    World Socialist Web Site 16 May 2003
    {why am I embarrassed, or almost embarrassed, when I link to these guys, but not to the NYTimes?}

    The House Armed Services Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would exempt the Defense Department--and even most federal agencies--from several environmental regulations, most notably the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection acts. Sponsors say this measure, camouflaged in the huge defense funding bill, will enhance American military readiness.

    Chicago Tribune May 17, 2003 (reg. req.)

    When the US military talks about "paradigm shifts," they actually mean it. This piece is complete Pentagon gobbledygook, and yet, after finishing my new technothriller, I understand exactly what this man is saying, and who he is saying it to, and why. It may take me years to get over this experience, but that's the price one pays in that hard, no-holds-barred, combative world of novel-writing. "He jests at scars who never felt a wound."

    Bruce Sterling
    Infinite Matrix 05.16.03

    Question here is: if Americans can arm themselves to be safe in a pretty safe country, why are Iraqis -- to whom we are extending the benefit of our superior way of life -- denied this right, in a country that is about as dangerous as they get?

    And don't gun people always say: The first sign of tyranny is when the government takes away your guns?

    And didn't all the lawn signs say: Liberate Iraq?

    Well, how can people be free without the sine qua non of freedom, machines that punch holes in people?

    I feel guilty even asking, but there it is.

    Mike Finley's All-American
    May 16

    Sausage factory

    What's the difference between top-of-the range and economy? Is it just ingredients or are the animals treated differently, too? Felicity Lawrence investigates

    Saturday May 10, 2003

    All pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others, especially by the time they have been turned into sausages. In fact the gulf between the toothpaste tubes of flavoured pink fat that pass for economy sausages and the best made bangers could not be wider. Yet in the Orwellian world of food regulation and labelling it can be hard to tell them apart. Mass produced, dependent on the industrialisation of livestock, the origin of its ingredients frequently unidentifiable and debased, the cheap sausage is a classic product of our system of 21st century food production.

    Last year we consumed 1.7bn meals of sausages at home, according to market analyst Taylor Nelson Sofres, and our appetite for them is expanding. Many more were sold by caterers.

    Until a few years ago manufacturers put all sorts of unmentionables into their sausages. Diaphragms and spleens, tails and lips all counted as meat. But since the trauma of BSE there have been much tighter restrictions on which parts can be used for human consumption and processors have moved on. The industry is now polarised between those leading a revival in top-of-the range sausages (made with what most people would recognise as meat for those who can afford around �3 a pound) and those operating at what producers refer to as "the arse end" of the sector where sausages sell for 50-55p a pound or for even less to caterers. Those who most need the best - growing children, the elderly, those in hospital - nearly always eat the worst.

    The secret of the successful "economy" sausage these days lies not so much in strange offals but in fat and protein engineering. Pig rind is an essential ingredient in the protein engineer's toolbox. Frozen, imported, chopped to a slurry and soaked with hot water, it produces a bargain blancmange which can make up 30-35% of the sausage and still be called meat. Manufacturers' handbooks recommend rind emulsion because its high protein content boosts the nitrogen counts which are the basis for tests to determine the meat content of products.

    The cutting edge now, however, is in fat technology. Fat is seriously cheap and with the help of additives you can make it eat with a bit of chew, just like meat. You can buy thick rectangular slabs of pork back fat for about 50p a kilo to make your economy sausage. But if you want to cut costs even further, the cheapest stuff on the market is something called flare fat. This is the highly saturated fat that collects around the vital organs of the pig such as the kidneys. It was traditionally rendered into lard because you couldn't put it into sausages without it running straight back out again when they were cooked. It also clogs up your arteries. But now food scientisits are developing ways to make it hard so it doesn't ooze out.

    Here is a recipe for a school sausage, given to us by a manufacturer who prefers to remain anonymous. It is for what he described as a "pork product" made "down to a price" to win a local authority contract. The sausage contents: 50% "meat", of which 30% is pork fat with a bit of jowl, and 20% mechanically recovered chicken meat, 17% water, 30% rusk and soya, soya concentrate, hyrolysed protein, modified flour, dried onion, sugar, dextrose, phosphates, preservative E221 sodium sulphite, flavour enhancer, spices, garlic flavouring, antioxidant E300 (ascorbic acid), colouring E128 (red 2G). Casings: made from collagen from cow hide.

    Bernard Hoggarth is a sausage manufacturer at the top end of the market and he can't quite make sense of it. "We feed our pigs the best possible wheatgerm, the best milk, the best soya. Yet people feed their children rubbish. Funny, isn't it?"

    Felicity Lawrence Guardian UK May 10, 2003
    20 ways to change the food system

    How did you get attracted to Sufism?

    "Because I wanted to learn a little more about Islam. For outsiders Sufism is the most appreciable part of Islam because it's a mystical part. Mysticism is a place where faces converge and the names become unimportant because it's just a dialogue between a person and his sense of the divine. When those of us who are not Islamic read a Sufi poem it touches us deeply because it's akin to what the Christian mystic or Buddhist mystic would do to us. "

    Pico Iyer
    interview AsiaTimes May 17 2003

    WASHINGTON - In a move that has provoked outrage from human-rights groups here, US Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked a federal appeals court in effect to nullify a 214-year-old law that has provided foreign victims of serious abuses access to US courts for redress.

    Ashcroft's Justice Department has filed a "friend of the court" (amicus curiae) on behalf of California-based oil giant Unocal in a civil case brought by Myanmese villagers who claimed that the company was responsible for serious abuses committed by army troops who provided security for a company project.

    But the department's brief was not limited to defending the company against the plaintiffs. Instead, the document, which was submitted last week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, asked the court to reinterpret the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) in a way that would deny victims the right to sue in US courts for abuses committed overseas.

    "This is a craven attempt to protect human-rights abusers at the expense of victims," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). "The Bush administration is trying to overturn a long-standing judicial precedent that has been very important in the protection of human rights."

    Other rights activists agreed. "The brief is a broadside attack designed to wipe the law off the books," said Elisa Massimino, director of the Washington office of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR), while Terry Collingsworth, director of the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and one of the lead lawyers in the Myanmar case, called the move "shocking".

    "They're not just saying a bunch of Burmese peasants can't sue a US oil company," said Tom Malinowski, director of HRW's Washington office. "They're saying Holocaust survivors were wrong to have sued German companies for enslavement during World War II, and that victims of genocide in Bosnia were wrong to try [Serb leader Radavan] Karadzic in US courts. I don't think this administration wants to be seen as denying victims rights in these cases."

    Jim Lobe Asia Times May 17, 2003


    The millions of Turks living in cities and towns on or near the strait have good reason to be worried. Over the years, many serious accidents have occurred. The worst involved a collision between a tanker and a dry cargo vessel in 1994; 29 crew members burned to death in the flaming crude, and all shipping was blocked for five days. Turkey is pushing the United Nations' International Maritime Organization to approve new rules for safety in navigation, including mandatory use of pilots, but political considerations make action difficult. Meanwhile, the big ships continue on their way. Warns one Turkish maritime expert: "Every ten minutes there is risk."

    Rudolph Chelminski, November 1998 issue of Smithsonian

    Bellarmine spent much of his time in theological controversies, mostly involving papal power. He engaged in a public debate, a war of books and pamphlets, concerning the divine right of kings with James I of England. The issue of papal power revolved around the theory of the indirect power of the Pope. His spiritual power is direct and primary; he was not, however, without temporal power because he might have to act with regard to temporal things which affected the spiritual ones. This was the Pope's indirect power, which Bellarmine defended all his adult life.

    In 1616 Bellarmine became involved in the Copernican controversy, which was brought to a head by the publication of Paolo Antonio Foscarini's book defending the Copernican system from the charge that it clashed with the Scriptures. It was he who administered the controversial admonition to Galileo not to hold or defend the Copernican theory.

    The Galileo Project, Albert Van Helden, Elizabeth Burr

    ''My generation knew June Carter as Johnny Cash's wife, as the woman who wrote Ring of Fire and as part of the Carter Family,'' said singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam, who recorded Ring of Fire on his 1986 debut album. ''By the time I became aware of her, she was this really seductive, Appalachian mountain princess who had captured Johnny Cash's eye. We didn't realize what my parents' generation knew, which was that June was the funniest of the Carter Sisters. Her act was this absurd, comedic take on herself.''

    Loving obituary for Valerie June Carter in The Tennessean 05/16/03
    and a prayer for her family


    It has been pointed out that in size the human body is about midway in scale between an atom and a star.

    {and...hmmm...the sun and moon appear to be equal in size,'s my favorite- the space between the stars appears to be inky black until you think about it. I'm standing here and I see starlight. you're in Colorado and you see light from that same star at the same time, and a guy on the moon sees it and a guy on Mars, in fact the light from that star goes out in an ever-expanding sphere, in fact the universe is filled with light, all the time, everywhere. not dark at all.}

    tom toles is my president


    "So there's weather again."
    tribal elder Kurt Vonnegut, Clemens lecture at the Mark Twain House
    'adapted' by In These Times
    reprinted by Common Dreams
    link from robotwisdom

    It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare. - Mark Twain

    Some theories of linguistics would call Bob the 'logical subject'.

  • This door was opened by Bob.

  • Stalwart Dan Gillmor:

    I'll be saying more about this in coming days, but it's pretty clear that the FCC will soon give media conglomerates even more authority to buy up more broadcasting outlets and newspapers. This Washington Post report looks mostly at the impact on local TV, which will be considerable, but the damage will be much, much more widespread.

    The FCC's move, which is all but certain, will not bring immediate disaster. In the long run, moreover, the Net could help mitigate the worst of the effects -- though forces of centralization are working there, too.

    You've seen little coverage. No surprise. The people who stand to benefit the most do not want you to know what a bad idea this is -- heck, they don't even want you to realize there's an issue.

    There's still some time to get your member of Congress to put pressure on the Republican members of the FCC who seem so hell-bent on making media safe for monopolization. One good place to start is, which has a write-your-congressperson page.

    Do write, and call. This is serious stuff, and it's getting late.


    Marwa, Tabarek, and Safia Abbas were dark-haired beauties, aged 11, 8, and 5. They could be from anywhere, but until recently they lived in Baghdad. Note I refer to them in the past tense.

    According to the Times, their family was agonizing how to tell their injured father that an American bomb killed his daughters. �It wasn�t just ordinary love,� they said. �He was crazy about them.�

    So much for photos. The most haunting quote has come from a military man, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd.

    �The dog has caught the car,� he said.

    Indeed. Some fools may think the war in Iraq is over. In truth, it has just begun. And we all know what happens to dogs that catch cars...

    Denise Giardina The Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) May 12, 2003 reprinted in Common Dreams May 13
    link from robotwisdom


    "We killed 170 people in Lebanon, most of whom were refugees, during the month of April, 1996. Many of them were women, old people and children. We killed 9 civilians, one a 2 year old girl and one, a centenarian, in Sahmour, on April 11th. We killed 11 civilians, including 7 children, in Nabatyeh, on April 18th. In the UN Camp in Cana, we killed 102 people. We made sure to inflict death from a distance. In a very secular manner, without the archaic idea of sin, without the antediluvian worry to consider man in the image of God, and without the primitive proscription, "You shall not kill!"

    Ari Shavit: Indignation of an Israeli Writer
    {from a bizarre and egregious site devoted to 'Holocaust revisionism'.
    if I had to deal with shit like this I'd be a little touchy myself. wait a minute. I DO have to deal with shit like this.}

    {on the other hand}:

    Claiming they have been abandoned by Israel's government and determined to rid the West Bank of Arabs, vigilante Jewish settlers are shooting and beating Palestinians, stealing and destroying their property and poisoning and diverting their water supplies, Israeli and Palestinian officials say.

    Though Jewish extremists have lashed out before -- most notoriously in 1994 when a U.S. settler, Baruch Goldstein, gunned down 29 Arabs in a nearby mosque -- never before have they struck with such frequency, Israeli officials say. And nowhere has the violence been as intense as in this disputed city, believed to be the burial place of the Biblical prophet Abraham.

    Nearly 450 right-wing Jews, all of whom are armed and claim a Biblical right to the land, live here among120 , 000Palestinians. Many, like Shapiro and his colleagues, are ready to strike at any time.

    Israeli and U.S. officials have warned Sharon that if the violence against Palestinian civilians increases, it could enflame already high emotions and lead the entire region into war.

    ''It only takes a spark to light a very big fire here,'' says Yossi Sarid, a left-wing Israeli opposition leader. ''This is a city that is cursed.''

    reprint from USA Today at

    The United States has chosen, for better or far more likely for worse, to subordinate the civilian economy to its military sector. It is often argued that the spin offs from military research, development and production are a net benefit to the civilian economy, but this is as transparently false in America as it was in the Soviet Union. It is a sad commentary on politics that hardly ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union the supposed victor, America, has a prison population that rivals Stalin�s. Just as ironically, American strategic thinkers have based their long-term objectives on technological (read computer and information technology) superiority. Yet the fact is that much if not most of that supply chain is outside the United States in Asia. In fact, it is within a few square miles of Taiwan, and in easy missile range of the mainland or North Korea. The logic of globalisation thus means that America�s military frontier is not the West Coast of the United States but the east coast of Asia and the central Asian borders of the world�s excess oil reserves of the Persian Gulf.

    When one considers the current Middle East crisis against this backdrop, the divisions on the UN Security Council are much easier to understand. It is also clear that the potential for escalation is very great. It is difficult to imagine the American government deciding to back down, for the simple reason that its long-term choices in that eventuality are the most difficult to take, depending as they do on a fundamental change in priorities. Far better, you can hear the Neo-cons whisper (or more in character, shout) to strike now and get control of the oil before Europe consolidates, before Russia recovers, and before China and Taiwan reunite.

    Sanders Research Associates March 3, 2002

    Having escaped from Rome he spent 4-5 months at Noli, a little coast town near Genoa, supporting himself by teaching grammar to children and the Sphere to certain gentlemen of condition.

    Life of Giordano Bruno
    Catalog of the Scientific Community
    Galileo Project at Rice University
    "It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
    Giordano Bruno

    {gentlemen of condition?}

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