...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



"Pipes has repeatedly demonstrated hostility towards Arabs and towards Islam as a religion," said Mitchell Plitnick, co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a San Francisco Area Middle East peace group. "Of equal concern is that Pipes has often espoused the view that force is the most appropriate solution to the problems in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Pipes's entire history shows him to be an individual who merits no place in any Institute of Peace. As Jews, we have a special stake in Middle East peace and it is intolerable that a man who espouses such racist and militaristic views as Pipes even be considered for such a position."

Jewish Groups Against Pipes Nomination
Common Dreams Progressive Newswire JULY 30, 2003

The inducements - including weapons and increased military aid - have apparently been offered to at least three countries whose troops Washington desperately needs to bolster the fledgling multinational force in Iraq and relieve the pressure on US forces in the war-ravaged country.
The administration of President George W Bush has intensified efforts to seek troops from India, Pakistan and Turkey in order to bolster a multinational force that now includes troops mostly from former Soviet republics and Latin American nations.
The Indian government, which withdrew its offer of 17,000 troops under heavy domestic political pressure, is being lobbied once again with an offer of sophisticated military equipment. The quid pro quo, according to diplomatic sources, is approval of the proposed sale of the state-of-the-art Arrow-2 missile defense system by Israel. Since the US$100 million system includes US components and funding, Israel needs US approval to close the deal.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now in New Delhi to try to persuade the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to change its stance on troops for Iraq. The London Financial Times said on Tuesday that the Bush administration has also pledged to relax the sale of dual-use technology to India in return for that country sending troops to Iraq.

Thalif Deen Asia Times Aug 1, 2003

There is no apparent thought given to notions of legitimate self-defence, or deterrence of prior aggression, or struggle against the most provocative breaches of international law - or simply, against the daily theft of land, liberty and livelihood. His few, supposedly balancing phrases about Palestinian rights and Israeli obligations are hopelessly inadequate.
Mr Bush, it seems, just does not get it. He cannot be bothered to undertake the hard grind or to work the issues, as Bill Clinton did, preferring instead to grandstand, to clutch for credit and compliments and for "leadership moments" that look good on television. As a result, he is dangerously, and sadly, off the pace. For Mr Abbas, his complacency could be fatal. For Mr Sharon, it is a gift.
When a few Palestinian extremists finally run out of patience, or when somebody gets killed by the Israeli army, maybe by accident; and when somebody else retaliates and then, if and when the ceasefire collapses, the two sides turn on each other again, it will not be enough to say it is all the "terrorists'" fault. It will not be enough to shrug and say "we tried".

Simon Tisdall Guardian UK July 31, 2003

"It's an embarrassment for us. A lot of this has to do with the war being over, and there being not a lot for us to do and soldiers getting killed and then their friends taking it out on regular civilians," said a US military police officer investigating instances of excessive force.
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, vented anger over the army's failure to make a real example of those soldiers doling out their own "Dirty Harry" style of vigilante justice or operating in brutish fashion.
"They should do certain things like sting operations and arrest those soldiers like common criminals. A lot of them should be relieved and reassigned ... That's not happening," he said.
"I've seen at least 20 cases," he added, referring to incidents where soldiers have beaten or robbed civilians at checkpoints.

Yahoo News Jul 28 2003

TAO 101
Henry C K Liu Asia Times

Last Friday, as Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was meeting with President Bush at the White House, trigger-happy Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank shot and killed a 4 -year old boy and injured two young girls, one of them seriously, in a burst of gunfire directed at the pickup truck they were riding in. The vehicle was riddled by bullets from a machine gun fired by one of several soldiers atop an armored personnel carrier. An Israeli spokesman told reporters it was all an unfortunate accident, �an operational error.�
Sure, sure, all seventeen of the bullets fired were just that, an accident. Not a hate crime.
The fact of the matter is that Israel�s notions of �eretz Israel� not only demonize Palestinians as a lower species of men to be subjected to the rule of the gun, but they foster the belief that vacating settlements and effecting a meaningful evacuation of the occupied territories is unthinkable.

Fawaz Turki Arab News 31 July 2003

Since the start of the intifada, more than 800 Israelis, mostly civilians, have been killed by Palestinians. We, justifiably, call it "murder." Some were killed by suicide bombers and the rest with other instruments of death. At the same time, more than 2,200 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis - some as armed suspects, and almost all from soldiers' fire. We don't call these casualties "murdered." But perhaps these deaths should also be referred to as murders. . .

Shulamit Aloni
reprint in Undernews Jul 30

Future Forests' mission is to plant trees around the world to help offset carbon dioxide emissions. Before Fuji Rock started, the organization calculated that about 413 tons of carbon dioxide would be produced during the festival, through the transportation of bands, energy to power facilities and waste produced.

To help offset this, Future Forests teamed up with the organizers to plant trees on the Isle of Skye, a remote island off the northern tip of Scotland. About 1,500 broadleaf saplings will be planted on the island, and the NGO has calculated that over their lifetime the trees will soak up all the carbon dioxide produced at the festival.

Dave Hilson Daily Yomiuri 7/31/03


Deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned Iraq's neighbors not to meddle with the American occupying forces, proclaiming, "I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq."
The Bush Administration was lobbying to amend a provision of the Kyoto Protocol that would phase out methyl bromide, the single most ozone-destructive chemical still used in industrialized nations. Scientists estimate that the ban would prevent 2 million cases of cancer in the United States and Europe alone; the administration's proposed amendment would increase the chemical's use threefold.
Americans were spritzing their offspring with "ChildCalm," a spray that purports to mollify unruly children.
The NAACP called for an inquiry into the death of a black man who was found hanging from a tree with his hands tied behind his back; local police had concluded that the man, who had been dating the daughter of a white police officer, had committed suicide.
Officials from Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico changed the name of Highway 666 to Highway 491.

Elizabeth Giddens Harper's Weekly Review July 29, 2003

Apparently American companies have enough money to sock away oodles in offshore tax havens, make perfectly outrageous campaign contributions to the Republican of their choice, and cut CEOs compensation packages that would make a sultan feel like trailer trash, but discuss something that will actually do something for people who work for a living, and suddenly American industry is as fragile as a preemie crack baby. July 3, 2003
link from the equally linkable Conceptual Guerilla

At 85, he has been bitten 162 times -- the latest, by a cobra, three months ago -- by snakes with venom poisonous enough to kill an elephant. Twice, Haast almost died.
But Haast has been injecting himself with snake venom since 1948. He has built up such powerful antibodies in his system that his blood has been used as a snakebite antidote. He began with tiny amounts of rattlesnake venom and built up the dosage over the years. He injects himself once a week with venom from 32 species. He says he is now immune from snakebites. He also believes the snake venom has kept him healthy and holds the potential to help people with multiple sclerosis and other diseases. Except for rare snakebites, he says, ``I've never been sick a day in my life. I've never been to a doctor. I've never had the flu, not even a cold.'' Neither, he says, has he had arthritis, bursitis or any communicable disease. He has never taken medicine, not even aspirin. He looks like a man in his 60s. He walks with a spring in his step and his back ramrod straight. He spends hours each day at his serpentarium in southwest Florida pulling weeds and planting shrubs in a two-acre plot where he hopes to breed snakes. He puts his hands on the 4-foot wall and vaults over.

Tom Wells AP article at
Novel protein, Herpoxin, isolated from the venom of Naja n. kaouthia snake having mol. Wt 13.5 kDa, inhibits CPE of HSV-1, HSV-2 and CMV viruses in cell cultures. Herpoxin proved to be a potential therapeutic to treat herpes virus and CMV induced oral and genital lesions including shingles caused by herpes zoster. Its use may be extended to infections caused by other DNA viruses.
P.R. from alternative drug mfr. Binie V. Lipps/Ophidia
In addition to a variety of snakes, there is the black widow spider, the lionfish, the reef stonefish, the emperor scorpion, the Cameroon red tarantula, the cone snail.
This latter, which lives in and around the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, paralyzes its prey, usually fish and other mollusks, by delivering its venom through a kind of harpoon.
It is thought to have killed at least 20 humans in Australia and the Western Pacific.
So what has the cone snail given back?
A painkiller said to be 100 to 1,000 times stronger than morphine. It's called SNX111. It is used in chronic pain treatment. It is not yet on the market.
Richard O'Mara
Killer Cures
Schoolmate Kids Page
It's now believed cobra venom may cure herpes. Which would you prefer?
It's all in how you say it: If the surgeon tells you the operation saves the lives of six out of 10 patients, you may well OK it. But if you're told it results in the deaths of four out of 10 patients, you'll probably turn it down.


This report is intended to provide accurate information to U.S. servicemen and women stationed in Iraq. Our pledge to you is that this report will contain only fact. We will not embellish. This is the straight story. Please forward throughout the ranks.

Support for the Troops

Support for U.S. servicemen and women stationed in Iraq remains strong throughout a wide cross-section of the American public. Even for those opposed to the decision to send you there, concern for your well-being is strong and genuine. Many veterans of previous conflicts, especially veterans from Vietnam, have led the way in educating the American people as to the difficult and dangerous situation you are in. The result has been greater sense of awareness for those following developments in Iraq. The nation cares about what happens to you.

Marc Ash truthout 29 July 2003

Graeme Culliford has some journalism up about human trafficking and exploitation, but his tone is too shrill for me. still I believe the stories. Case 1 and Case 2, Elena and Natasha, and you can bet there's 10,000 more like that right now right here, at this moment, in this world.

Victims of human trafficking face major problems being reintegrated into their home communities when they are freed from the situation into which they were trafficked. Social stigma and personal emotional scars must be overcome during the process of reintegration. Victimized women may have been treated by law authorities as criminals, either for prostitution or illegal migration, and, therefore face additional problems of employment or other forms of reintegration. Assisting victims to resettle and start a new life is a daunting challenge for concerned governmental agencies and NGOs.
In addition to psychological and social considerations, the victim faces the practical financial consideration of providing for life's essentials. In many source countries, reintegration resources are not available in communities to assist the victim with work-related training or to provide financial support during the transition period. Poor economic conditions that contributed to the vulnerability of the victims to traffickers also prevent the provision of effective assistance for reintegration.

Human Trafficking

The trafficking of women and children into bonded sweatshop labor, forced marriage, forced prostitution, domestic servitude, and other kinds of work is a global phenomenon. Traffickers use coercive tactics including deception, fraud, intimidation, isolation, threat and use of physical force, and/or debt bondage to control their victims. Women are typically recruited with promises of good jobs in other countries or provinces, and, lacking better options at home, agree to migrate. Through agents and brokers who arrange the travel and job placements, women are escorted to their destinations and delivered to the employers. Upon reaching their destinations, some women learn that they have been deceived about the nature of the work they will do; most have been lied to about the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment; and all find themselves in coercive and abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.

Human Rights Watch
Campaign Against the Trafficking Of Women and Girls

Noting a flurry of news reports indicating an increase in the number of children on the streets in Baghdad, UNICEF says the situation is ripe for exploitation of children.
In the chaos of the post-war environment, in Iraq normal community networks that protect children are not fully functioning. That can leave children exposed to exploitation. Hundreds of thousands of children are trafficked each year around the world for brutal child labour and sexual abuse.
UNICEF warns that while street children are a concern in Iraq, there is no overnight solution. The issue of street children is a very recent phenomenon in Iraq. Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, the problem simply did not exist, and it will take time to reverse this trend.
While well-meaning people around the world might think that international adoption is a legitimate way to help some of these children quickly, UNICEF is concerned that too often unscrupulous child traffickers will try exploiting the chaos and trying to pass themselves off as legitimate agents of good.
This is why UNICEF strongly supports getting all Iraqi children back in school as a way of protecting them from exploitation and injury.

UNICEF 13 June 2003
Trafficking in children is a global problem affecting large numbers of children. Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year. There is a demand for trafficked children as cheap labour or for sexual exploitation. Children and their families are often unaware of the dangers of trafficking, believing that better employment and lives lie in other countries.
Child trafficking is lucrative and linked with criminal activity and corruption. It is often hidden and hard to address.

  • Surveys indicate that 30 to 35 per cent of all sex workers in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia are between 12 and 17 years of age.
  • Mexico�s social service agency reports that there are more than 16,000 children engaged in prostitution, with tourist destinations being among those areas with the highest number.
  • In Lithuania, 20 to 50 percent of prostitutes are believed to be minors. Children as young as age 11 are known to work as prostitutes.
    UNICEF Child protection 29 July 2003

    These children are very young. The ages start at five, six, or seven years. The other very big problem is mainly girls, [older girls] such as 11 or 12 year olds. They are forced into sexual exploitation and prostitution. That's a very big problem in the Balkans, and with Italy, as well.
    Question: How does the system work? How are children separated from their parents?
    Helga Kuhn: You have to understand this as an international network of traffickers. This network has middlemen in the countries of origin. Sometimes they even know the families they are contacting before, and they are promising: "Your child will have a good future when the child is going abroad. It will be better for him or her when he or she goes abroad because he or she earns some money and will send money back to you, so both sides will profit from this."
    These middlemen will bring the children to the border, and at the border other persons are waiting for the children and misusing them for hard labor or sexual exploitation.
    Question: Where are children most at risk?
    Helga Kuhn: The greatest risk is there where the families and the children are the poorest. The poorest countries are the [main] countries of origin. Albania, Moldova, and Romania are poor countries, but we have other countries as well where we see the problem growing bigger and bigger. You can say that nearly all the states of the former Soviet Union are such high-risk countries. For example, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia itself.
    Mark Baker Radio Free Europe 12 June 2003
    {1. 'trafficking' statistics are a one-off. the kid gets sold. the counter moves up one. but that kid goes into a life that is every day more soul-killing, every day a crime, every minute of that kid's life is a crime. the numbers don't really tell the tale.
    2. 'nearly all the states of the former Soviet Union'. so capitalism triumphed all over those guys didn't it? and bears no responsibility for the outcome does it? collateral damage from the Cold War.}

  • A joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative will see the
    re-establishment of the Abie Nathan's Voice of
    Peace radio station. Yesterday, Israeli and
    Palestinian peace activists signed an agreement to
    begin the new broadcasts on November 4, the
    anniversary of the assassination of former prime
    minister Yitzhak Rabin.

    Siniora said the station's objective was to
    rebuild trust and narrow the distances between
    the two peoples. It also aimed at fighting
    stereotypes presented in the media about the
    Palestinians and Israel, he added, stressing
    that the station would not relay political
    programs, nor would it be funded by any party.
    Instead, it would mainly broadcast Arabic and
    Hebrew music as well as entertainment programs
    for children and youth.

    "It will not focus much on news or current
    political issues. It will mostly be about the
    cultures of the two peoples, their similarities
    and differences," Siniora said.

    The original Voice of Peace was a legendary
    pirate radio station run by Israeli peace
    activist Abie Nathan. It broadcast from a ship
    anchored just outside Israeli territorial
    waters and its slogan became something of a
    catchphrase in Israel - "From somewhere in the
    Mediterranean, we are the Voice of Peace."

    Anat Balint Ha'aretz 28/07/2003

    Athens bar association to file suit against Blair over Iraq

    The Athens Bar Association was scheduled Monday to lodge a complaint with the International Criminal Court against Prime Minister Tony Blair's government for what it said were crimes against humanity in Iraq.
    The president of the association, Dimitris Paxinos, said in a radio interview that he did not expect the court to summon Blair to testify but added that this was a decision to be taken by the tribunal in The Hague.

    The Greek public and all the main political parties overwhelmingly opposed the US-led war in Iraq.
    However, the United States has challenged the court's jurisdiction over Americans and has put pressure on other nations not to extradite US troops and other Americans charged with human rights and war crimes.
    Paxinos said the bar association had not brought a similar case against US President George W. Bush because the United States had not ratified the treaty setting up the International Criminal Court and is therefore outside its jurisdiction.

    Jordan Times July 29, 2003

    Pope John Paul II has been speaking out for months against legislative proposals to legalize same-sex marriages. But instructions to be released this week go a step further by outlining a course of action for politicians and other lay people to oppose extending the rights accorded to traditional couples, Vatican officials said.

    The document � "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" � was prepared by the church's guardian of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and is to be released Thursday.

    At its national convention, which begins tomorrow in Minneapolis, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. will decide whether to permit blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions and approve the first election of an openly gay bishop, issues sharply dividing that church.
    Catholic teaching says homosexuals should not be subjected to "unjust discrimination," but also says gays should be chaste.
    In January, the Pope approved guidelines on church teachings for Catholic politicians, saying church opposition to abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage is not up for negotiation.

    After Germany's supreme court upheld the law this month, a top German cardinal condemned it as a blow to the family. "Now the associations of homosexuals have a potent arm to obtain further concessions on the road toward full equality with married couples, including the right to adoption," said Cardinal Karl Lehman.

    Toronto Star Jul. 29, 2003
    {everybody's knee jerks up. the idea seems to be that the only instances of sexual violation by Catholic priests were the legalyl prosecuted cases that went public. and maybe one or two that got paid off behind the scenes. and maybe one or two that got hushed up so completely even the participants don't remember them. and maybe one or two others. in America. in the 20th century.
    my knee doesn't jerk anymore. well a little. but that's too obvious. all that 'who are they to talk about marriage anyway...?' fish in a barrel that is. how about the actual institution of marriage? how about the idea that the only sanctity available to a man and woman needs institutional permission? how about that is as bogus as anything gets. how about what's really at work here, what's always at work here, is biology. always. look for the biological payoff. it's there somewhere. breeding control, it's always control, who gets to breed, who gets to live in the village, who gets to partake in the feast, in the stored grain when it's famine time, the filter of genetic continuity. this is not trivial. and it has nothing to do with sexual perversion. or it's all perversion. it's about the shape of the face of the human thing, years, centuries, millenia down the line. what we will be. and by controlling who breeds and who has the best shot at successfully raising the little outcomes, the institution has a big say in what that face will look like.
    the institutions become organisms as they grow and mature, concerned primarily with their own survival even as their individual members and especially their leaders, seem to give all for the greater good.
    these groups are clustered around totems of their own existence, the gods or 'God' they purport to worship are not allowed to do anything but serve, the way a parent serves the family. the Catholic Church doesn't care about homosexual partnerships, it has more homosexual partnerships in its past than San Francisco ever will. it tolerates and protects homosexual relationships, consummated or not, until those partnerships threaten its legitimacy.
    like Galileo. they didn't care whether the sun went around the earth, or vice versa, for its astronomical significance. they cared because they were stuck with the picture in the book, and because the idea of a universe in which humanity was marginal and seemingly insignificant took away the earthly glory of God's chosen representatives.}

    The head of Congress' investigative arm, in a highly unusual move, will issue a stern warning to the American public that the U.S. economy is facing "a large and growing structural deficit" which, if untreated, will lead to significant long-term consequences.

    "My son ... was a Marine Corps company commander in Iraq and I actually have less concern about him being in Iraq in that capacity than I do about what the future may hold for him and his new daughter because of this fiscal imbalance, because at least in Iraq he had some control over his own destiny," General Accounting Office head David M. Walker told United Press International Monday.

    Marie Horrigan Info Space 07/28/2003

    U.S. Treasury prices tumbled for the fifth straight day on Tuesday as the market's failure to steady itself even on weak economic data spurred sellers.
    Treasuries briefly erased early losses after the Conference Board reported a surprise slump in its index of consumer confidence to 76.6 in July from 83.5 in June.
    The slide in the New York business group's confidence measure hinted that consumers' belief that jobs are hard to find might prompt them to restrain their spending, threatening crucial support for the economy.
    Ellen Freilich newswire/Reuters 07.29.03

    President George Bush is seeking funds for a controversial project to drive gas pipelines from pristine rainforests in the Peruvian Amazon to the coast.

    The plan will enrich some of Mr Bush's closest corporate campaign contributors while risking the destruction of rainforest, threatening its indigenous peoples and endangering rare species on the coast.

    Among the beneficiaries would be two Texas energy companies with close ties to the White House, Hunt Oil and Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Vice-President Dick Cheney's old company, Haliburton, which is rebuilding Iraq's oil infrastructure.

    Independent (UK) 30 July 2003

    It now appears that the war on Iraq began far earlier than we had thought. The Pentagon has admitted that its air strikes "in retaliation for violations of the no-fly zones" were in fact aimed at taking out Iraq's fiber-optic communications system to make the country more vulnerable. This information comes from Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who was in charge of the campaign.

    And here's a thing: Air war commanders were required to get permission from Donald Rumsfeld personally if any attack might result in the death of more than 30 civilians. Fifty such requests were made; none was turned down.
    Jon Carroll July 23, 2003

    What is happening? Both Hagenbeck, who boasts to the media about the high quality of his intelligence, and Khalilzad, who is unquestionably in a position to know, have stated that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are being nurtured, not in some inaccessible terrain along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border but in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Balochistan province where the Pakistan Army and the ISI have a major presence. Yet, President Bush and his neo-conservative henchmen have remained strangely quiet, allowing Pakistan to strengthen the Taliban in Quetta, and, as a consequence, re-energize al-Qaeda - the killers of thousands of Americans in the fall of 2001.
    Recall for a moment: Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, no other terrorist was portrayed by the United States as more dangerous than al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and no other Islamic fundamentalist group was presented to the American people as more despicable than the Taliban. Within a month the United States invaded Afghanistan to "take out" the Taliban, al-Qaeda and bin Laden, while the world lined up behind the new anti-terrorist messiahs from Washington, providing it the necessary moral and vocal support. Why, then, is Washington now weakening President Karzai and allowing the strengthening and re-emergence of the Taliban?
    Ramtanu Maitra Asia Times Jul 30, 2003


    Christine Marine

    I support the American troops in Iraq...

    The message came via satellite phone. The caller was out of breath and desperate: 15 civilians shot dead by the Indonesian military, including two children. The location: the village of Tutut Sungaimas, West Aceh. The date: July 19.

    Even before the declaration of martial law in Aceh on May 19, the west was a silent and dangerous corner of Aceh. There is no mobile-phone network in west Aceh and except in two or three main towns, there is no land-line facility. Internet access has not even reached the main town of Tapaktuan. The only contact is by satellite phone.
    Of course, some will dismiss these reports of killings and disappearances because of the lack of verification. But confirmation is impossible in this area. Does this mean we should assume it is a sanctuary of peace and harmony when we know in other areas death and destruction is the daily digest of the local people?
    We cannot confirm that 15 died in Tutut Sungaimas, nor can we confirm that 70 women and children were taken from Alu Rambok by truck together with many men to an as yet unknown destination. The exact numbers are of little consequence, but we can be certain the incidents took place.

    With foreigners being kept out of Aceh and only local journalists embedded with the military able to report on the situation, news is scarce. Today, Aceh is a dark and grim province of horror, death and destruction. More than 1,000 have died since martial law was declared on May 19. While the world's attention is conveniently diverted by terrorism and other power play constructs, in Aceh's towns and villages, police stations and prisons, it is the innocents who continue to suffer.

    Lesley McCulloch Asia Times Jul 29, 2003

    ...officers of the Philippine armed forces seized a shopping and residential complex in the fashionable Makati district. Their act not only spotlighted the soldiers' grievances against the regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but it focused attention on how badly the sense of irony fails today's leaders, news media, and, apparently, those of us who abet and tolerate those failures.

    The 20-hour standoff brought an outpouring of endorsements for the loyalists. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed his nation's support for the "democratically elected government of the president of the Philippines".

    That declaration must've come as quite a shock to Joseph Estrada, winner of the Philippines' most recent presidential election, in his prison cell, particularly given Australia's previous reticence regarding Estrada's two-and-a-half-year confinement.

    Gary LaMoshi Asia Times Jul 29, 2003

    "The study shows that the modern cigarette does to nicotine what crack does to cocaine," says addiction expert Jack Henningfield, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The notorious addictiveness of smoking crack results from the vapourised cocaine reaching the brain almost immediately.

    Ian Jones, a nicotine expert at Bath University, UK, adds: "Free-base nicotine is the most damaging form because it is the optimal configuration for binding to the nicotine receptors in the brain, heart and rest of the body. If the binding efficiency is increased, it means the concentration of nicotine at the receptors is higher and so it is very addictive."

    New Scientist 28 July 03

    THE father of Australian alleged Taliban fighter David Hicks shut himself in a wire cage on a New York street today to highlight his son's plight.
    "I wouldn't even keep a dog like this," Terry Hicks said, referring to his son's incarceration for the past 19 months at the US military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
    "I have a dire need to speak to David eye-to-eye. My main worry is his mental state," Mr Hicks said.
    David Hicks, from Adelaide, has been held without charge or access to legal counsel and faces trial by a special military tribunal. AU July 29, 2003



    BRIDGES is an on-line classroom project connecting students from indigenous cultures with their urban contemporaries. Central to the program is interactive photographic storytelling mentored by professionals and created by the students.

    Bridges to Understanding


    we deserve the truth

    Iraq's oil production has risen to over one million barrels per day (bpd) from steady levels of 800,000 bpd, a senior oil ministry official said on Sunday.
    "Production in the south is between 600,000 and 700,000 barrels a day and production in the north is at 500,000 barrels a day. Production in the south could reach one million barrels a day in a month," the official told Reuters.

    Forbes 07.27.03

    Clean-up time in Argentina
    Justice may finally be served on 46 members of Argentina's former military regime, including ex-dictator Jorge Videla, after an Argentinean judge ordered their arrests this week pending formal extradition requests from Spain. Human rights groups have applauded the move as the first step to ending Argentina's two-decade-old protection of former junta members.

    Radio Netherlands 25 July 2003
    Astiz is sought in Italy because of his role in the kidnapping of Angela Maria Aieta, Giovani Pegoraro, and Pegoraro's daughter Susana. Angela Maria Aieta was abducted from her home on August 5, 1976, and was held at the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA), a secret detention center where Astiz worked. A survivor of the ESMA camp has testified that she saw Aieta being taken away, possibly for execution. Giovani and Susana Pegoraro were kidnapped in a railway station on June 18, 1977, when Susana was five months pregnant. None of the three were ever heard of again, but Susana's daughter was later traced and found to be living with a military couple to whom she was handed over after her birth in detention.
    Human Rights Watch August 15, 2001

    Japanese study raises new concerns about mercury poisoning among aboriginals

    ...when Harada returned to the area last fall, he found evidence of continuing, pervasive health problems consistent with Minamata disease, a neurological disorder caused by mercury.
    The results of Harada's study have not been published but they were summarized by Steve Fobister Sr., deputy chief of the Grassy Narrows, who has seen them.
    Of approximately 60 First Nations people who were examined at Grassy Narrows and Whitedog last fall, 70 per cent showed symptoms of neurological disorder, said Fobister.
    Symptoms included blurred vision, slurred speech, twitching, numbness, shaking and poor muscle co-ordination. The symptoms of eight people who were part of the original study in the 1970s had become more severe.
    Fobister says that he himself has serious neurological disease. "I can hardly tie my shoes any more," he said in an interview.
    Even children in the community are showing serious
    problems, including seizures, he said.
    Fobister blames clearcut logging in the area for continuing high levels of mercury contamination -- a theory for which there is some scientific support although debate continues.
    A University of Montreal researcher reported in 2001 that mercury levels were up to 100 per cent higher in heavily logged watersheds than in lakes where there was no logging nearby.
    The theory is that airborne mercury from sources such as coal-fired power plants and incinerators tends to be held in the soil and foliage of an intact forest, but runs into waterways in areas that have been clearcut.

    Canoe (CA) July 27, 2003

    Ann Telnaes
    tom Toles
    Jeff Danziger
    intrepid penmanship


    Greg Palast profile

    Christopher Horton
    Asia Times Online Jul 26, 2003

    An Act of State. The Execution of Martin Luther King
    by William Pepper
    review by Sreeram Chaulia at Asia Times Online

    US forces, based on a tip-off from a friend of the Hussein family (in return for a $ 30million reward), surrounded a house in Mosul in which Uday, Qusay, his14 -year-old son Mustafa, and one of their supporters had hidden. Some 200 US soldiers backed by helicopter gunships, missiles and mortar shells, attacked the house. After a battle, which lasted six hours, the three men and boy were dead.

    Amr Mohammed Al-Faisal 27 July 2003
    {14 year old boy. $30 million.)

    ...commemorations will be somber Sunday in the South to mark the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended the war. More than 1,000 war veterans, many from the U.S.-led United Nations (news - web sites) force that backed South Korea, will gather at Panmunjom, the truce village where the ceasefire was signed. An evening ceremony will be held at the U.S. military headquarters in Seoul.
    North Korea, however, is marking the anniversary with celebrations because its propaganda machine has always described the war as a victory for communist forces, rather than as the stalemate it was. Red banners recalling the North's "triumph" hang prominently in Pyongyang's main square.
    In a reminder of the uneasiness that lingers along the world's most heavily armed border, the North's military used characteristically belligerent rhetoric Saturday to warn of the potential for a new war.
    North Korea "will promptly beat back any precision strike, surgical operation-style strike and pre-emptive nuclear attack with the powerful war deterrent force," said Kim Yong Chun, chief of the North Korean army's General Staff.

    Christopher Torchia AP Yahoo News Jul 26
    South Korea- A Country Study
    Library of Congress Federal Research Division
    Yahoo link

    Romanian authorities are investigating the mysterious deaths of 48 dolphins that have washed up on the shores of the Black Sea.

    There are only 2,000 dolphins left in the Black Sea, down from one million in the 1940s.
    In May, 10 dolphins died on beaches 20 miles south of Sulina. Environmentalists blamed the military for their deaths because the bodies surfaced shortly after live ammunition army exercises in the area.

    Ananova 26th July 2003

    The levels of all rivers and tributaries in the Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Meghna and Ganges river basins are continuing to drop, following a four-day trend that has given respite to flooded regions of central and southern Bangladesh.

    Ananova 26th July 2003

    Q: A big part of fighting is mental. How would you say your experiences during your younger years made you the fighter that you are today?
    A: From my very first fight, it was all about mental because I didn�t train and I didn�t know what to expect. I just went in there with the faith of God, believing God would take care of everything. My belief in him is what got me into the ring to have the guts to step to the level where I would perform against professional athletes.
    From there, I just carried it over by learning. When in the actual ring, you learn. I didn�t have prior experience at all. All the experience that I got was actual fighting experience so I learned what works and what doesn�t work and I learned that everyone�s basically the same physically. One person may have a better right hand, one person may have a better left hand, one person may have a chin. But, a human is a human. The difference is what you said � the mental. So when you step into the ring, there can�t be doubts or questions. You�re there on a job and bring it on.

    Kimo interview K-1 USA
    Kimo versus 'The Beast'

    Japanese scientists and engineers have launched a task force to promote the industrial application of the art of origami, a traditional Japanese craft art in which square pieces of paper are folded into animals, dolls, boats, aircraft and other objects.

    They believe that the art of origami can be widely used by industry--such as in the making of airbags and canned goods--and some practical applications have already been found. The scientists and engineers wish to nurture origami into a new industry that would help boost the slumping Japanese economy.

    Toyo Seikan Kaisha, Ltd., a major manufacturer of beverage and food cans, has already adopted origami techniques for making cans for beer and distilled liquors. The company embosses the surface of cans with diamond patterns, which are set in relief when the cans are opened. The Diamond Cut can is one of several industrial products resulting from research on origami.

    Yuichi Shibata Yomiuri Shimbun 7 23 2003

    We really have to admit that over the past 100 years we have been building cities much more for mobil-ity than for people�s well-being. Every year thousands of children are killed by cars. Isn�t it time we build cities that are more child-friendly? Over the last 30 years, we�ve been able to magnify environmental consciousness all over the world. As a result, we know a lot about the ideal environment for a happy whale or a happy mountain gorilla. We�re far less clear about what constitutes an ideal environment for a happy human being. One common measure of how clean a mountain stream is is to look for trout. If you find the trout, the habitat is healthy. It�s the same way with children in a city. Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.

    We began to experiment by instituting a car-free day on a weekday. In a city of about 7 million people, just about everybody managed to get to work by walking, bicycling, bus, even on horseback�and everybody was better off. There was less air pollution, less time sitting in traffic, more time for people to be productive and enjoy themselves. Every Sunday we close 120 kilometers of roads to motor vehicles for seven hours. A million and a half people of all ages and incomes come out to ride bicycles, jog, and simply gather with others in community.

    Enrique Pe�alosa(mayor of Bogot�)/Susan Ives
    YES! A Journal of Positive Futures
    link from Undernews


    10. Is Earth a sphere?
    Because the planet rotates and is more flexible than you might imagine, it bulges at the midsection, creating a sort of pumpkin shape. The bulge was lessening for centuries but now, suddenly, it is growing, a recent study showed. Accelerated melting of Earth�s glaciers is taking the blame for the gain in equatorial girth.

    Ray Britt 101 Amazing Facts About The Earth at

    Free will, but not as we know it
    Dennett interview at New Scientist

    "Determinism - the idea that a cause automatically produces an effect - is not, says Dennett, the same as inevitability. This is a surprising assertion which he spends several chapters justifying, and I think he succeeds."
    review of Dennett's Freedom Evolves at ePhilosopher

    Neurobiology and Behavior: A course and a conversation

    Exploring The Consciousness Problem

    Brain and Behavior
    Serendip at Bryn Mawr
    great resource

    ...I have argued at length, in Consciousness Explained (1991), that the sort of informational unification that is the most important prerequisite for our kind of consciousness is not anything we are born with, not part of our innate "hardwiring," but in surprisingly large measure an artifact of our immersion in human culture. What the early education produces in us is a sort of benign "user-illusion" -- I call it the Cartesian Theater: the illusion that there is a place in our brains where the show goes on, towards which all perceptual "input" streams, and whence flow all "conscious intentions" to act and speak. I claim that other species -- and human beings when they are newborn -- simply are not beset by the illusion of the Cartesian Theater. Until the organization is formed, there is simply no user in there to be fooled. This is undoubtedly a radical suggestion, hard for many thinkers to take seriously, ; hard for them even to entertain. Let me repeat it, since many critics have ignored the possibility that I mean it -- a misfiring of their generous allegiance to the principle of charity.

    In order to be conscious -- in order to be the sort of thing it is like something to be -- it is necessary to have a certain sort of informational organization that endows that thing with a wide set of cognitive powers (such as the powers of reflection and re-representation). This sort of internal organization does not come automatically with so-called "sentience." It is not the birthright of mammals or warm-blooded creatures or vertebrates; it is not even the birthright of human beings. It is an organization that is swiftly achieved in one species, ours, and in no other. Other species no doubt achieve somewhat similar organizations, but the differences are so great that most of the speculative translations of imagination from our case to theirs make no sense.

    My claim is not that other species lack our kind of self-consciousness, as Nagel (1991) and others have supposed. I am claiming that what must be added to mere responsivity, mere discrimination, to count as consciousness at all is an organization that is not ubiquitous among sentient organisms. This idea has been dismissed out of hand by most thinkers.(1) Nagel, for instance, finds it to be a "bizarre claim" that "implausibly implies that babies can't have conscious sensations before they learn to form judgments about themselves." Lockwood is equally emphatic: "Forget culture, forget language. The mystery begins with the lowliest organism which, when you stick a pin in it, say, doesn't merely react, but actually feels something."

    Indeed, that is where the mystery begins if you insist on starting there, with the assumption that you know what you mean by the contrast between merely reacting and actually feeling. And the mystery will never stop, apparently, if that is where you start....

    Daniel Dennett Animal consciousness: what matters and why
    Sandy LaFave, Study Guides Fall 2003 West Valley College Philosophy Department


    ...The world and the self who experiences it seem separate, even though no self can be found within the brain, and there are good reasons for thinking it is an illusion. For anyone who wants to avoid dualism the interesting question is this. Why should we humans live under the illusion of being a self with consciousness and free will, if such a thing does not exist?

    Evolutionary theory might provide an answer, yet a false sense of self does not obviously contribute to inclusive fitness and may even reduce it. I propose that the correct evolutionary explanation is not in terms of benefit to genes, but benefit to memes.

    Memes are information that is copied from person to person by imitation. They are replicators subject to heredity, variation and selection, and they compete for space in our minds and cultures, shaping human nature as they go. We humans are meme machines; selective imitators, who spend our lives copying memes. Why then do we have selves?

    A self is a co-adapted meme complex (or memeplex) whose function is to protect and propagate its constituent memes. A memeplex forms whenever a group of memes can propagate better together than they can alone. Examples include religions, languages, political systems and scientific theories that have evolved over long periods, with adaptations that protect them from dissolution or from competing memeplexes.

    The selfplex is a large collection of memes using a single body for their protection and propagation. Once a selfplex begins to grow it provides a haven for more memes. For example, people may argue strongly for their beliefs, using emotional language and phrases such as "I believe ..." "I think ..." "I want ...". This behaviour promotes the memes, and in addition feeds the false idea that there is an inner self who has the opinions, makes the decisions and perceives the world...
    Susan Blackmore Dismantling the selfplex ; meme machines and the nature of consciousness
    University of West Bristol (UK)


    ...The rest of the book is devoted to discussing the consequences of this view of consciousness for several well known thought experiments and problems in the philosophy of mind (zombies, inverted spectra). It includes a rousing rejection of the whole concept of qualia, a chapter which I found particularly enjoyable. Unlike many philosophers Dennett keeps his feet firmly on the ground at all times, and doesn't get himself stuck in hermeneutic wrangling over obscure details. His thinking is solidly based on experimental results from neuroscience, cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology...
    short review of Dennett's Consciousness Explained by Danny Yee (cooked tubers!)


    This is I think what people have in mind when they aver that 'consciousness is not a thing'. The thought expressed here is not the trivial one that to refer to consciousness is to invoke a category of events or states or processes and not a category of objects or continuant particulars. Our intuition that conscious states are not spatial is not the intuition that no state is an object. For ordinary physical states and events are spatial entities in the intended sense: we apprehend events as occurring in space, and states are features of spatially constituted objects. So it would be wrong to offer a deflationary interpretation of our non-spatial conception of consciousness by insisting that it comes to nothing more than a recognition that talk of consciousness is talk of events and states - just like talk of explosions and motions and electric charge. The non-spatial nature of consciousness, as we conceive it, is much more radical than that diagnosis suggests. Descartes was not committing the simple howler of failing to notice that conscious phenomena are not objects at all and hence not spatial objects. In fact, even when we do speak of something that belongs to the category of continuant object, namely the subject of consciousness, we are still insistent upon its non-spatial character.(4) The self is not a 'thing' either, in the intended sense. The realm of the mental is just not bound up in the world of objects in space in the way that ordinary physical events are so bound up. So, at any rate, our pretheoretical view assures us.
    Colin McGinn Consciousness and Space
    Rutgers University Philosophy Dept.


    The astronomical perspective is useful in alerting us to what a peculiar object sits in our heads. The brain begins to seem like a magic box, a font of sorcery. Thomas Huxley captured this sense of miracle beautifully when he wrote in 1886: "How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the djinn when Aladdin rubbed his lamp in the story." How could simply rubbing a lamp produce something like a djinn (itself a subject of consciousness)? What have brass and oil got to do with beings like djinns? In what sense could a djinn exist inside a lamp (some of these djinns are huge)? The whole idea sounds like nonsense when you think about it, just a fairy tale. But, equally, how can sending an electric current into a bunch of cells produce conscious experience? What do electricity and cells have to do with conscious subjectivity? How could a conscious self exist inside such a soggy clump? It begins to seem that we are all djinns, each magically ensconced in our own personal brain lamps, waiting to be rubbed into life. And just as Aladdin's lamp violates the uniformity of nature, because lamps do not generally have such djinn-generating powers, so we appear to exist by courtesy of a breach in nature's uniformity. Electrochemical reactions don't generally result in subjective experience, yet in the case of our brains they seem to. It is all very puzzling, very puzzling indeed.
    Colin McGinn The Mysterious Flame Chapter One, excerpted in the NYTimes(reg.req.)


    Dennet offers another possibility in response, "�[that] there is no bridge over the steam." The idea is simple: consciousness is nothing more than the sum of dominant cerebral processing; there is no Bouncer at the Consciousness Pub that decides who gets in and who stays out. Furthermore, there is no unifying process that determines what information becomes conscious and what does not. Dennet offers a comparison to the British Empire, but I will butcher it for the sake of a Canadian audience. Suppose someone asks you "When did Canada find out about Mercedes-Benz cars?" There are many ways you could answer: the first day a Mercedes was imported here, the first day a Canadian saw one in Germany, or the day that the most Canadians bought a Mercedes in history. In effect, the question is unanswerable. In the same way, Dennet offers his explanation of the question, "Exactly when did I become conscious of some event?" Is one area of the cerebrum considered more important than others? Is one Canadian enough to say that Canada discovered Mercedes? He suggests that consciousness is nothing more than the related processes that occur in the brain.
    Down with Big Brother:A Summary of Daniel Dennett Defining Consciousness
    at Quick Summary of 'Consciousness'
    at The Ontology of Psychology


    Dennett's concept of relational order in relation to the brain is something I find extremely interesting. He suggests that the properties of mind aren't material properties, they're relational properties. That leads to the strong AI position. I tend to take a similar view with respect to artificial life � a view similar to the strong AI position, the idea that you can actually get intelligence in systems that aren't constituted of molecules and cells. You can get life in computers.
    Brian Goodwin sidebar at The Third Culture
    The Edge currently features two articles, one by Richard Dawkins and the other by Daniel Dennett, cheerleading for the neologue 'Bright'. much better to read their take on it, Jaron Lanier has a response up at the same site.Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter

    the actual coinage was by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell

    {the important point here for me, in the 'Bright' part, is how beleagured these guys are. even a profound and capable mind like Dennett's. and Lanier's got that hippie thing of 'transcend the oppression' which is cool but it still isn't freedom. this is pretty discouraging to a rank amateur like me. I come at this stuff like a hillbilly.
    and this whole mulligatawney is from me wanting to address Dennett's consciousness thing. I saw him on TechTV a while ago, posted on it then, but I've kicked it around a little more. so that's where I was headed. but this 'Bright' thing...
    well sign me up I guess, though I do have a large supernatural component, I'm 50-50 on afterlifes, and the concept of some huge sentient being being close at hand is not something I have a problem with. but hey, life is full of contradictions. I have more respect for the Amazing Randi and his cohort than any religious leader on the planet, living or dead.

    I don't want to get sucked into all that though. I want to talk about consciousness. Dennett's got it as far as I can understand his stuff.

    a point cloud is the graphic design term for that little cluster of dots the computer draws before it makes the 3-D skeletal thing. a point cloud is what I think Dennet's consciousness model most resembles, but one whose points are not fixed. anyway that works for me. the little guy in the center of it all doesn't. but. but but but but but but. there's that point cloud thing in groups too. for a few hours at a music concert or a play, even movies do that. at church, at sports events. people make this meta-consciousness when they have proximity and shared focus. performers know this. so do preachers. and politicians. this accounts for the power and seeming immortality of particularly successful groups, like religions, this is why tribes have all those rituals and amulets etc. one of the reasons anyway. it helps create the group mind. the group mind being just like the individual mind. not centrally located but very real.
    ok. I won't get to it here because I don't have the time and undivided attention to give it, that 'Bright' business calls, but. what I think is perfectly possible is a much larger, much much larger, maybe infinite, maybe infinitely growing, maybe exponentially infinitely growing consciousness. a conscious thing, name it in your own tongue, something so much bigger than this that it is easily overlooked. in the same non-centrally located way. a Cosmic Mind.
    absurd. well yes and no. every single burp of life that this planet has known got its power from the sun, and from a miniscule bit of solar energy at that. the amount of sunlight necessary to power all of what we are and will ever be is nothing to what the sun gives off constantly and the sun itself so small amongst its great and infinite family. the idea of something zapping around amongst within and around and through all those suns and all that light and the infinite reaches of space and some kind of meta-conformation of what that is being like a brain kind of in a way, it's just not that hard to get to, is it? though I'm not articulating it well.
    anyway I got all sidetracked. I'm disturbed by all the nonsense. and remembering Carl Sagan. and I'm as serious as I could be, I'm with the Brights on this, not of them maybe but alongside them. not because they have the truth and the religious people don't, but because they're closer to it, and more open to it, and because the stagnant waters of organized religion are teeming with sickness.}


    {some browser, maybe this one, irider, has a 'parent' button that, as I understand it takes you back to the page you got there from, as opposed to a back button, which is, in a blog-sense, vital, important, and should be de rigeur browser-wise. but I'm still a Mozilla-ist first and foremost. maybe they will do that. a lot of links have gone uncredited here because I couldn't remember how I got where I was, from.}


    Mr. Davis. {...} the Senator in his zeal depicts the negro slave of the South as a human being reduced to the condition of a mere chattel. Is it possible that the Senator did not know that the negro slave in every southern State was still a person, protected by all the laws which punish crime in other persons? Could the Senator have failed to know that no master could take the life of or maim his slave without being held responsible under the criminal laws of any southern State, and held to a responsibility as rigid as though that negro had been a white man? How, then, is it asserted that these are not persons in the eye of the law, not protected by the law as persons. The venerable Senator from Kentucky [John J. Crittenden] knows very well that this is not law in any State of the Union where slaves are held, but that everywhere they are protected; that the criminal law covers them as perfectly as it covers the white men. Save in the respect of credibility as a witness, there is nothing----

    Mr. Crittenden. Will the gentleman allow me a word?

    Mr. Davis. Certainly.

    Mr. Crittenden. I have not made any particular examination as to the laws of all the slave States; but I believe they all contain the provisions for the protection of slaves that are alluded to. In my own State of Kentucky, I am glad to say, they go much further; and the slave there, who is cruelly treated by his master, may make an appeal to the court of the county in which he lives, and upon proof of the cruelty with which he has been treated the court may take him from his master and sell him to a more merciful one. That is the law of my State.

    Mr. Davis. Several southern Senators around have spoken to me to the effect that in each of their States the protection is secured, and a suit may be instituted at common law for assault and battery, to protect a negro as well as a white man. The condition of slavery with us is, in a word, Mr. President, nothing but the form of civil government instituted for a class of people not fit to govern themselves. It is exactly what in every State exists in some form or other. It is just that kind of control which is extended in every northern State over its convicts, its lunatics, its minors, its apprentices. It is but a form of civil government for those who by their nature are not fit to govern themselves. We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority. In their subject and dependent state, they are not the objects of cruelty as they would be if left to the commission of crime, for which they should be incarcerated in penitentiaries and work-houses, and put under hired overseers, having no interest in them and no relation to them, no affiliation, growing out of the associations of childhood and the tender care of age. Is there nothing of the balm needed in the Senator's own State, that he must needs go abroad to seek objects for his charity and philanthropy? What will be say of those masses in New York now memorializing for something very like an agrarian law? What will he say to the throngs of beggars who crowd the streets of his great commercial emporium? What will he say to the multitudes collected in the penitentiaries and prisons of his own State?

    Jefferson Davis' reply in the Senate to William H. Seward
    Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol, February 29, 1860
    from the papers of Jefferson Davis at Rice University
    {then there was war}

    Elizabeth Meriwether was banished in October 1862, when she was given 24-hour notice that she must leave Memphis. She had children ages three and five and was pregnant with a third. Her appeal to Gen. William T. Sherman was denied.

    "I seemed all of a sudden to realize the desolateness of my position, alone in the world with two children, driven from pillar to post, my husband off in the army, I knew not where - surely it was a pitiable situation. I became filled with self-pity and cried as if my heart would break."
    Elizabeth Avery Merriwether
    October 1862
    Forced on the road, she delivered her third child in a stranger's house on Christmas night, 1862. At first, she attempted to follow her husband's unit, but eventually ended up in Tuscaloosa, AL. She resorted to stealing corn for food for her children, selling clothing and even sneaking back into Memphis on a dangerous mission to pay taxes so her property would not be sold at auction.

    Diarist Sarah Morgan described the mayhem of the flight from Baton Rouge.
    Overloaded refugee wagons clogged the roadways and overburdened animals added to the confusion:
    "Three miles from town we began to overtake the fugitives. Hundreds of women and children were walking along, some bareheaded and in all costumes. Little girls of twelve and fourteen were wandering on alone. I called to one I knew and asked her where her mother was; she didn't know; she would walk on until she found was a heart-rending scene. Women searching for their babies along the road, where they had been lost; others sitting in the dust crying and wringing their hands."
    Sarah Morgan
    May 28, 1862
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Unhappiness Abroad: Civil War Refugees
    at the City of Alexandria, Virginia, Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site

    Varina Anne Davis was born in 1864 in the Confederate White House.
    Her life was as tragic as that portended.

    It's all gone but the mountains.

    APOD 2002 May 27

    Speaking of conservatism, you talk a lot about how Indians on reservations are pretty much just as conservative as poor, rural whites. Why do you think that is? What is the appeal of conservatism for poor people, whatever their ethnicity?
    Well, number one, it's to get a sense of identity, of belonging, by having the same politics as rich white people.

    That never occurred to me. Obviously that's not a conscious thing.
    No, but I think that's what it is. It's to feel you have some direct access to power. And that by sharing the views of the people in power you have power in proxy.

    Sherman Alexie interview at alibi July 17 - 23, 2003

    Mercury 13
    Mercury 13 at the ninety-nines
    Jerrie Cobb and the Mercury 13

    Colonel-Engineer Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (1937- ) was a Soviet cosmonaut and the first woman in space. She was on the Vostok 5 mission which launched on June 16, 1963, and orbited the Earth 48 times. The flight lasted 2.95 days. The spacecraft was recovered on June 19, 1963, in the Soviet Union.

    The 88 Constellations
    Zoom Astronomy
    Zoom School
    Enchanted Learning


    U.S. soldiers raided the home of a wealthy auto dealer yesterday after a man claiming to be Saddam Hussein's mechanic said the ousted dictator was hiding there.
    Four Bradley fighting vehicles smashed through the front walls of the compound in Ishaky, on the banks of the Tigris about 55 kilometres north of Baghdad, said Capt. Karl Pfuetze, whose 4th Infantry 3rd Brigade unit led the raid.
    Dozens of soldiers stormed the compound, which consisted of three interconnected houses with an estimated 50 rooms, he said. Saddam was not in the house, and soldiers found no escape tunnels on the property.

    Toronto Star Jul. 22, 2003

    100 days to China's first astronaut
    China is expected to become only the third nation to place a human in space with its first crewed flight taking place in about 100 days.
    United Press Int'l July 22

    Q: What is a good way to clean and protect kitchen and bathroom counters made of plastic laminate? - C. Cunningham
    A: Gel-Gloss (, sold at some home centers and supermarkets, is an excellent cleaner-polish for plastic laminates such as Formica. It contains carnauba wax, which leaves a protective film on the surfaces. This product can also be used on fiberglass and acrylic surfaces, stainless steel, ceramic tiles and chrome fixtures.

    Gene Austin KRT Direct

    Southeastern France registered temperatures of more than 40 C, and the average temperature in June there was 5 C-7 C higher than average.
    In Switzerland, the average temperature in June this year hit a 250-year high. Earlier this month, tourists were temporarily prohibited from climbing the Matterhorn following a rockfall, which is believed to have been caused by the melting of frozen soil.
    In the town of Grindelwald, located at the foot of the Eiger, the water levels of rivers became unusually high due to glacial melt.
    Heat waves pushed the temperature in India to 45-49 C, causing at least 1,400 deaths.
    In the United States, there were 562 tornados in May, resulting in about 40 deaths, surpassing the previous record of 399 in June 1992.

    Yomiuri Shimbun 7 23 2003

    dream Cup solar car race
    in Japan

    First human tongue transplant
    The world's first human tongue transplant has been successfully carried out by doctors in Austria.
    Surgeons at Vienna's General Hospital carried out the 14-hour operation on a 42-year-old patient on Saturday. The patient had a malignant tumour in his mouth that meant his tongue had to be removed. The patient is doing well, confirmed the doctors at a press conference on Tuesday.
    Rolf Ewers, who lead the team, says he hopes that with his new tongue the patient should be able to talk and eat as normal. However, his sense of taste is unlikely to be restored...

    New Scientist 22 July 03

    Bush pleased by Hussein deaths:
    US President George W Bush today welcomed as "positive news" the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay in a gunbattle with US troops in northern Iraq, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. July 23, 2003
    {and that 14 year-old kid.}

    Across a large swath of eastern, central and south-western France, the fields are turning yellow, the streams and rivers are drying up. Forest fires have devastated more than 40,000 acres of forest between Toulon and Saint Tropez and are still blazing in southern Corsica.
    France has been struck by its worst drought in 27 years. In some eastern regions, without rain since February, records suggest this is the driest spell for a century.

    John Lichfield Independent UK July 23 2003

    There is a hidden crisis of infant mortality in many Caucasus and central Asian countries, Unicef said yesterday, with the real figures much higher than reported by their governments.
    One of the widest discrepancies is in Azerbaijan, where the estimated rate was 74 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births compared with an official rate of 17 per 1,000, according to a report by the United Nations Children's Fund.
    Carol Bellamy, Unicef's executive director, said in Florence: "Our report found official statistics in the Caucasus and central Asia hide the gravity of the crisis. Flawed statistics are a danger to children. They inspire complacency, keeping governments and health workers and even parents in the dark on the true nature of the threats to child survival."

    Frances D'Emilio Independent UK July 23 2003

    In Medell�n, they defend four human rights groups. They regularly visit their offices and accompany the members and leaders who have received threats. Martha Soto of ASFADDES, the Association for the Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared, for instance, has received almost permanent accompaniment for the past three years. �I have received numerous threats,� she says, and �I even had to move away from Medell�n for a while. If it weren�t for Peace Brigades, I would have had to stop my work and I wouldn�t have been able to come back to Medell�n.�

    Peace Brigades Eric Beauchemin Radio Netherlands 4 June 2003

    Having processed a lot of different types of data, astronomers have now been able to calculate the tilt of the objects orbit around the stars and ultimately, its mass. Too small to be a star or a brown dwarf, the mystery object must instead be a planet. Harvey Richter of the University of Columbia, another of the scientists involved, says: "This is tremendously encouraging. Planets are probably abundant in globular star clusters."

    Anne Blair Gould Radio Netherlands 14 July 2003
    NASA page link
    Hubble page link

    busybusybusy's in the midst of this shorter business
    which is about as poetic as we're gonna get

    "...what cheers me are the ways people are learning to read the silent histories of objects and choosing the objects that still sing."

    Rebecca Solnit
    orion online
    reprinted at AlterNet July 23 2003
    link from FollowMeHere


    photo Shawkat Khan

    A Bangladeshi girl swims through floodwaters with an empty vessel to collect drinking water in Dhaka's low-lying neighborhood of Mohammadpur
    Agence France Presse 22 July 2003

    More than 3 million people have been affected in India, Bangladesh and Nepal since the monsoon rains hit in mid-June.
    Ananova 15th July 2003

    Flood waters started to recede in eastern India on Friday but disease still stalked the region after torrential monsoon rains forced more than a million people in South Asia from their homes.
    WashingtonPost July 18 2003

    Using tactics inspired by the US military during the war in Iraq, the Indonesian military is keeping the domestic press under control and virtually barring foreign correspondents from covering the ongoing military offensive against separatist rebels in the northern province of Aceh.

    The current military operation, which began on May 19 when a six-month ceasefire collapsed and martial law was declared, is the largest staged by Indonesia since it seized East Timor in 1975. With 50,000 troops on the ground to combat some 5,000 guerrillas, the offensive began in "shock and awe" fashion, with scripted parachute drops and fighter planes screaming across the skies for the television cameras.

    A Lin Neumann Asia Times July 22 2003

    Paul Wolfowitz, in the latest Vanity Fair, basically justified using a �convenient� argument, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, to achieve the great goal: Iraqi oil. Such politically vulgar messages are not new from Wolfowitz and his neo-con gang, but they spread reasonable doubt regarding America�s �democratic� intentions for the Middle East. Now as Wolfowitz is visiting Baghdad, his face can�t conceal a sense of worry....

    The question that is asked frequently is: Who fed all these lies about the Iraqi weapons WMD program to the president? Most fingers point at the Pentagon�s Office of Special Plans, headed by Adam Shulsky, a hard-line neo-conservative. The Office of Special Plans was set up in the fall of 2001 as a two-man shop, but it grew into an eighteen-member nerve center of the Pentagon�s effort to create disinformation, alleging that Iraq possessed WMD and had connections with terrorist groups. Much of the garbage produced by that office found its way into speeches by Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush.
    It should be noted that the office was created after Sept. 11 by two of the most fervent and determined neo-cons: Paul Wolfowitz himself, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, to probe into Saddam�s WMD programs and his links to Al-Qaeda, because, it is alleged, they did not trust other intelligence agencies of the US government to come up with the goods.
    Most prominent neo-cons are right-wing Jews, and tend to be pro-Israeli zealots who believe that American and Israeli interests are inseparable � much to the alarm of the liberal pro-peace Jews, whether in America, Europe, or Israel itself.
    Friends of Ariel Sharon�s Likud party, they tend to loathe Arabs and Muslims. For them, the cause of �liberating� Iraq had little to do with the well being of Iraqis, just as the cause of �liberating� Iran and ending its nuclear program � recently advocated by Shimon Peres � has little to do with the well being of Iranians. What they seek is an improvement in Israel�s military and strategic environment.

    Hussein Shobokshi Arab News 22 July,2003
    {there are two groups working in the American political landscape, who both, while declaring their hatred for each other, co-operate in erasing a vital and necessary distinction whose validity threatens each of them. the first are what Mr. Shobokshi calls 'neo-cons' which is essentially a euphemism for right-wing-Jews, and the other are the truly anti-Semitic groups and individuals, organized and unorganized, that function outside the limited scan of American mass media.
    the distinction being erased is between the same 'neo-cons', or right wing Jews, and the rest of the Jewish people.
    so you have two seemingly antagonistic forces united in agreement that all Jews are one thing.
    this is still an untruth, though enough pressure and enough violence can make it a reality.
    hiding for protection behind the unjust suffering of innocent people, to advance your own selfish aims, is despicable. to call someone anti-Semitic because they object to American policy being directed by people who have no loyalty to American principles and ideals is absurd, until it becomes a matter of a threat to survival, then it's evil.
    the 'neo-cons' depend absolutely on the inability of common Americans to distinguish between the innocent victims of holocaust and pogrom, and the vicious and dishonest cowards now running the country.
    it would help greatly if someone from within the Jewish community could provide us all a way of describing these cowards more apt than calling them 'neo-cons'.}

    Sir, Public servants, in and out of uniform, provide unrivalled, loyal support to this country. They are rightly held to account when the need arises. However, the hounding of Dr Kelly, witnessed last week, led to his death and the persons involved should be ashamed.

    I have for many years questioned the honour of politicians and the media; little evidence exists to make me believe I am wrong to do so.

    Yours faithfully,
    5 Manor Farm Cottages, Allington,
    Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 3NL.
    July 21.

    Letters To The Editor The Times July 22, 2003

    An Iraqi shepherd launched a court case Sunday against top US military leaders after a US plane shelled his desert camp during the war to oust Saddam Hussein, killing 17 family members and 200 sheep.
    Abud Sarhan, 71, issued lawsuits against US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks, the retired general who led US and British forces into Iraq, over the fatal April 4 bombing. The shepherd expressed hope that "the law runs its course and that the pilot who bombed the tent is (also) brought to justice and punished," adding that he expected compensation for his damages.
    "I would have liked to die with them," said the tearful shepherd, surrounded by a large number of friends dressed in traditional head-to-toe dishdashas. Sarhan told the court he had left his house in Al Altach, a village in the Ramadi district, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, and relocated to a desert camp on the advice of pamphlets dropped by US planes recommending them to leave the area, the site of heavy bombing because of a nearby military camp.

    Jordan Times July 21 2003


    {there was a story at Asia Times on the Special Olympics 2007 being in Beijing, and how the Chinese athletes at this year's event earned fewer medals than the Macau team. it was an admonishing essay, implying that China better get on the stick. and it made me think about all their social engineering and how it's likely they intentionally neglected, and probably at least considered removing, the so-called handicapped. and then the idea of the Special Olympics themselves being like the Christmas and Thanksgiving turkey dinners for the homeless. a gesture designed to comfort the givers, to ease their consciences, as though two meals a year mean anything to the poor, besides two free meals. so the Special Olympics means we're taking care of the 'disadvantaged'. and probably if they're fortunate enough to belong to a middle-class or better family, we are.
    when I was 'busking' in the late 80's in California, there were more than a few times I saw a little file of 'special needs' folk and their guides. out for a walk, sun and exercise. the other day I was thinking how fucked the economy's getting and I was wondering. you think the budget for those guys is going up or down? all them spineless neocon social darwinists, you think they're holding back a little extra for the misshapen and the dim? huh? do you? or maybe they're just slipping through the cracks like always only a little faster now, a lot more at a time? I wanted to tie that in with a meditation I've been doing on the navel academy that young California's become. how perfectly they've been convinced to perfect themselves. body emphasis, and quick reactions. and no depth whatsoever. no moral strength, no courage, just physical presence and the ability to discern and adopt what's socially demanded. these kids I saw are the opposite of that. completely unacceptable socially now. you think anybody gives a shit what happens to them? now that the age of prosperity's done? now that it's time to cull, to separate? now that it's time to play survival of the fittest for keeps?}

    The Guatemalan Supreme Court has nullified the candidacy of former dictator Efrain Rios Mont. The court's ruling has reversed a controversial verdict by the constitutional court allowing Mr Rios Mont to take part in the elections despite a constitutional ban on former dictators running for president.

    Radio Netherlands 21 July 2003
    Idi Amin, the former Ugandan president, is in a �vegetative state� after falling into a coma on Saturday night, a day after being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, sources at the hospital told Arab News yesterday.
    �He is expected to die any moment,� a hospital official said.
    Mohammed Alkhereiji � Arab News � 21, July, 2003

    David Kelly brought a formidable expertise to his work in Iraq. From 1991 to 1994 he conducted the inspections which formed part of the trilateral American, British and Russian Agreement into the Russian biological warfare facilities. Here he impressed his fellow inspectors not only by his knowledge and persistence, but by his willingness to share his expertise with others. There was nothing of the scientific prima donna about Kelly; quite the reverse, he was modestly instructive and regarded his expertise as a resource for all to use.

    David Kelly is survived by his wife and three adult daughters, two of them twins.

    Dr David Kelly, CMG, scientist and UN arms inspector, was born on May 17, 1944. He died on July 18, 2003, aged 59.

    The Times Online July 21, 2003

    Letters to the Editor

    They sat in that semi-circle, smiling nervously, with the exception of Mr Chalabi, who looked very relaxed. For some reason, at the end of the conference he went to the edge of the podium and took a bow in front of Paul Bremer, which was a bit strange as they were dodging questions about what powers they actually had in their hands and whether Bremer would have the right to veto any of their decisions.

    Salaam Pax Guardian UK July 15, 2003

    Our country
    Our nation
    Our territory
    Our dwelling
    Have suffered long enough
    May you cancel our debt please
    Zimbabweans are destitute
    Companies are closing up
    The dollar weaken daily
    Prices of basic commodities
    Are sky rocketing daily
    Please cancel our debt
    The economy is ailing
    Trading is becoming less and less
    Foreign currency no longer available
    Imports are now limited
    Poverty, poverty is the daily song
    We are in true economic quagmire
    Please cancel our debt
    Breadwinners are jobless
    De-investment's at its peak
    Unemployment ever-increasing
    Mines are closing down...

    Handsen Chikowore
    Frigate: The Transverse Review of Books

    Toward the end, �The Tattooed Girl� takes a violent, dark turn. About the violence that appears in many of her works, she says, �There�s violence in our culture. Most realistic writers reflect their culture.�

    Many have said that this might be the author�s most controversial novel, and she agrees, pointing to the novel�s ending, raising questions about justice and punishment. �It seems to suggest,� she says, �that anti-Semitism should be severely punished, rather than criticized.�

    She adds, �I think that anti-Semites in our society are treated rather lightly � they get away with it.�

    Sandee Brawarsky
    Joyce Carol Oates interview in The Jewish Week July 20, 2003

    M. de Puysegur had now two hobbies - the man with the enlarged soul, and the magnetic elm. The infatuation of himself and his patients cannot be better expressed than in his own words. Writing to his brother, on the 17th of May 1784, he says, "If you do not come, my dear friend, you will not see my extraordinary man, for his health is now almost quite restored. I continue to make use of the happy power for which I am indebted to M. Mesmer. Every day I bless his name; for I am very useful, and produce many salutary effects on all the sick poor in the neighbourhood. They flock around my tree; there were more than one hundred and thirty of them this morning. It is the best baquet possible; not a leaf of it but communicates health! all feel, more or less, the good effects of it. You will be delighted to see the charming picture of humanity which this presents. I have only one regret - it is, that I cannot touch all who come. But my magnetised man -- my intelligence - sets me at ease. He teaches me what conduct I should adopt. According to him, it is not at all necessary that I should touch every one; a look, a gesture, even a wish, is sufficient. And it is one of the most ignorant peasants of the country that teaches me this! When he is in a crisis, I know of nothing more profound, more prudent, more clearsighted (clairvoyant) than he is."

    Charles MacKay
    Top Ten Books

    "When M. de Comminges," says St. Evremond, "was ambassador from his most Christian Majesty to the King of Great Britain, there came to London an Irish prophet, who passed himself off as a great worker of miracles. Some persons of quality having begged M. de Comminges to invite him to his house, that they might be witnesses of some of his miracles, the ambassador promised to satisfy them, as much from his own curiosity as from courtesy to his friends; and gave notice to Greatraks that he would be glad to see him.
    "A rumour of the prophet's coming soon spread all over the town, and the hotel of M. de Comminges was crowded by sick persons, who came full of confidence in their speedy cure. The Irishman made them wait a considerable time for him, but came at last, in the midst of their impatience, with a grave and simple countenance, that showed no signs of his being a cheat. Monsieur de Comminges prepared to question him strictly, hoping to discourse with him on the matters that he had read of in Van Helmont and Bodinus; but he was not able to do so, much to his regret, for the crowd became so great, and cripples and others pressed around so impatiently to be the first cured, that the servants were obliged to use threats, and even force, before they could establish order among them, or place them in proper ranks.
    Charles MacKay ibid


    The latest fatality pushed the number of US combat deaths in the Iraq conflict above those from the 1991 Gulf War � 148 compared to147 � amid mounting concern at home over troops getting embroiled in a guerrilla-style war that has shown no sign of abating. Efforts to restore order and get rebuilding work under way faced a further challenge with leading Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr delivering a fiery broadside to the US-led occupation, blasting the US-imposed executive as illegitimate.
    �They have delivered this peaceful Muslim country to the foreign forces,� he said in his first Friday sermon since the coalition unveiled Iraq�s new executive governing council last weekend. The outspoken attack comes as a disturbing turn for the United States, which has counted on Iraq�s Shiite majority � long repressed under Saddam � to support its efforts to wipe out regime loyalists and rebuild Iraq.
    Sadr, a fierce opponent of Saddam�s regime who had his father assassinated, is known for his confrontational style and is seen by some as a threat to US ambitions to impose a Western-style democracy in Iraq.
    Thousands of Sunnis meanwhile protested in Baghdad against the governing council as Sunni imams used their weekly sermons to accuse the Shiite-dominated body of planting the seeds of civil strife.

    Naseer Al-Nahr � Asharq Al-Awsat Arab News 19, July,2003

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