...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



the monkeys are suing for peace

Instead of its muddled policies, the government must tackle this problem at source with both stick and carrot. It needs actively to espouse the good in western and British culture, to engender pride, to abandon misguided multiculturalism, to provide better education and proper training and jobs for young Muslims. They must come to believe that their interests lie in and with Britain and not with a deranged creed that will bring death and despair to them and their many victims. This is a huge challenge for any government, but the consequences of failure are too great to contemplate.

Sunday Times (London) 31.07.05
The anonymous author - whose affinity seems superficially to be with the great sweep of Western Civilization in general - though a closer reading, and we should be reading everything closely now, will show that while he seems to distinguish between Islam as a religion of substance and moral integrity that deserves as much respect as its counterparts in the Judeo-Christian family, and the more fanatic and irrational outgrowths of it, he doesn't - is a lot more narrowly focused than that superficial reading reveals.
This is the "They hate us for our freedom" song-and-dance. Lots of us have woken up to the oddness in someone using that as a justification for taking away our freedom.
The schizophrenic irrationality of insisting there is no deeper cause to militant Islamic violence against the West than their hatred of our freedom, then using that as an excuse to undercut every last freedom that we once had - a lot of us would say that sort of means they won, eh?
They hate our freedom, so the government's taking away our freedom.
Point al-Qaeda.
Someone whose bias is bigoted and anti-Islamic entirely will feel confirmed and agreed-with by this Comment, which is closer to a letter to the editor than an editorial.
The Times' headline is "The Source of Terror". The only source alluded to is the tolerant welfare-distributing British governments of past years.
Nothing about Palestine, nothing about Israel, nothing about poverty in the Muslim world, only poverty in the UK. Poverty and the dole. The "source of terror".
A shorter version of this position:
We've destroyed your temples and killed your children right in front of you, now stop fighting us - not because we're right, but because you can't win - and then we'll give you a place at the table with the rest of the servants.


Two similar but separately-camped battles - between the pro-Jared Diamond-ists and his detractors from within the disciplines of anthropology and geology (here); and between the ID/creationists and their opponents in science generally (everywhere really, but here just now) - have this inside-out parallel thing I'm trying to get ahold of, where the ID v. science fight is basically won at every meeting by the superior force of logical positivism (but those hicks just keep on comin!); and the Diamond v. no-Diamond fight (about why what Diamond et. al. call "Eurasian societies" were/was essentially undefeated on its rise to world dominance, with Diamond's book and PBS series either aiding and abetting the institutional racism of Wesern culture, or not) while still in contest looks to be being won by the home team, in this case the brilliant and humorous OZma at Savage Minds.
These are notes remember.
There's something at the heart of the creationist v. science thing that bugs me - I mean aside from the weird espousal/recognition/defense of a process that the most-funded branches of science are dedicated absolutely to thwarting at every turn, when it might be applied to themselves.
It's the way when "Darwinists" are wrong about some peripheral aspect, or about anything really, the godsquad leaps up and screams and cheers, as though that disproved everything that's been said in support of Darwin's essential idea - that evolution, the selection over time of viable organisms and the ability to pass the attributes of viability along to offspring through reproduction- was therefore wrong.
Well okay. So why is it that because a bunch of delusional self-appointed champions of the idea that the universe is not morally neutral are wrong about things, that that puts paid to the idea itself?
The science guys would say it doesn't, it's just that absent any positive evidence it's impossible to prove or disprove.
What I'm working toward is the proprietary aspect. That's what's messing it up. It's not "God made the universe and all that moves in it". It's "our God made the universe and all that moves in it." And since their God, by their own testimony has done and said many contradictory and inconsistent things, there it goes. No God, no moral center to life or the universe. Total freedom, once you gain control of the resources and dominate your enemies and rivals.
And that's right where the Diamond pro/con debate is at.
And what I'd like to be able to express there but haven't got clear enough yet, is something like -
Diamond's explanation for Western colonialism's superiority has nothing to do with what the colonizers themselves thought about things. Because the colonizers themselves, most of them, thought their dominance was a gift of God, given because they were chosen and blessed. In fact most of those conflicts were seen by most of the combatants as spiritual contests first and most importantly.
And what I'd like to be able to express, but it's vital that it be accurate, is that they were right, it was spiritual first, but that once again the proponents of that argument have what they feel is a proprietary hold on the concepts and terms, so that someone like me has almost nowhere to stand and speak from.
I don't want to give any power to the raving loons who are driving the world toward Armageddon at full throttle, but I think it's going to be absolutely crucial for the good guys to open up to a larger picture that includes non-anthropocentric intelligence and a foundation for life that has what might as well be a design to it, emanating from something beyond our ability to get rationally inside our heads. Crucial because they're feeding the same malevolent power the delusionals are, only from the other side.
Which takes us right up to current events.
I saw that potato bug chimera O'Reilly briefly on the tube the other night. Long enough for him to say, and I am quoting him here "Without Islam, there would be no terrorists."
But that idea - that something exists beyond and outside the cold utilizable material universe, that there are levels of infinite complexity around and within everything including Bill O'Reilly - takes us right on out past the noise, to the San Francisco Cow Palace in 1965 and to here, now -
Ladies and Gentlemen - The Rolling Stones!


Diamond Girl
British supermodel Lily Cole, the current face of De Beers, has stated that she is refusing to work for De Beers again, over claims that Bushmen were evicted to make way for future diamond mining in Botswana. Her statement follows lobbying from human rights organisation Survival International. Lily tells Survival, "I was unaware of these matters when I was booked for the shoot."
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International said: "I am delighted that Lily has heeded our advice and understands the human suffering that diamonds are causing the Bushmen. I now urge other models not to work for De Beers. De Beers must realise that the only way out of this is for the Bushmen to be given back their land."
Lily Cole is not the first model to quit working for De Beers. Supermodel Iman famously quit as the face of De Beers after meeting with Survival International. Meanwhile British supermodel Erin O'Connor distanced herself from De Beers stating "I don't think that doing a job like (being the face of De Beers) would in any way add to my life or make me happy. I would make that stand, and say 'no'."
Seven Bushmen have been tortured this month by wildlife officials in Kaudwane, a relocation camp close to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Some report that they were tortured a number of times over three days in early June.
De Beers strongly denies any link with anything but eternal love
long I38 archive post on De Beers, the company that began the practice of apartheid in South Africa, and the artificially created tradition linking diamonds to engagement and marriage.


The U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be needed for years to come, U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested Tuesday.
There is no alternative location to hold and interrogate the suspected terrorists held there, he said.
"I don't know any place where we have infrastructure that's appropriate for that sizable group of people," he said during a Pentagon news conference.
In early 2004, United Press International correspondent, John Daly, produced a ground-breaking report, purporting to establish the nationalities of 95% of the detainees being held in US custody at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The first of its kind, it accounted for 619 in total...
Fifty-two detainees at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are staging a hunger strike in protest at their detention and treatment.
So far, the men have refused nine consecutive meals over three days, the US military said in a statement.
The detainees are being monitored by medical professionals and their vital signs are being checked daily.
More than 500 inmates are currently being held at Guantanamo. Only four have been charged.

Total Population: 152,689

PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON (supermax): 3,438

"Prisoners in these facilities may be confined for nearly 24 hours a day in sometimes windowless cells with solid doors, with no work, training or other programs. The facilities are designed to minimize contact between staff and inmates, and prisoners are often subjected to regimes of extreme social isolation and reduced sensory stimulation."
Amnesty International report on supermax prisons

in one day

As violent attacks intensify and spread in Haiti's capital Port au Prince, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) today called on all armed groups in the city to respect the safety of civilians and allow those wounded during clashes immediate access to emergency medical care.

MSF 15.07.05
link Narcosphere

out of the crowd

Father Jean-Juste is a prominent leader in ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party. We spoke to Father Jean-Juste as he was attending the funeral for Journalist Jacques Roche, cultural editor with the daily Le Matin, who was kidnapped and murdered earlier this month. Hours after we spoke to him, Father Juste was arrested and charged with being the assassin of Jaques Roche even though he was in Miami at the time of the murder.

Democracy Now! 25.Jul.05


The U.S. government also announces on June 8 that it plans on lifting the 14 year-old arms embargo against Haiti. During a ceremony at which the U.S. Embassy donated $2.6 million worth of equipment to the Haitian police, U.S. Ambassador James B. Foley stated, "Those weapons are a very important element in the capacity of the Haitian police to ensure security." To emphasis the U.S. policy of further militarizing Haiti's police, US assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega arrives in Haiti the same day. Echoing the criticisms of Haiti's elite Noriega says to the international press; "We regard it as extremely important that the United Nations take the necessary measures to fulfill their mandate." Without considering the death toll in Bel Air prior to his visit Noriega continued, "It is urgent that they respond to the wave of violence and to the insecurity to assure the Haitian people that they are safe."

The international community and the U.N. forces are on the ground in Haiti to prepare for new elections and "restore democracy." Given the tremendous human tragedy left in the wake of the overthrow of Aristide, elections are the only process left to legitimize the carnage. The U.N. is hostage to Haiti's ultra-reactionary elite and U.S. foreign policy that dictates that elections can only be held if violence is eradicated by military force and more guns. Any attempt to address the underlying causes of violence in Haiti today is inconvenient because it means recognizing the political repression being meted upon Lavalas. It means confessing that the Haitian police have been given carte blanche to kill peaceful demonstrators with impunity. It means recognizing the plight of Lavalas political prisoners being held without charges in Haitian jails. It means admitting that Haiti's largest political party is justified in not participating in the next elections. It means admitting that Juan Gabriel Valdes is lying and knows better when he says, "there is no political persecution in Haiti."

Haiti Action 12.Jun.05


2005 July 24 15:42:05 UTC

Preliminary Earthquake Report

U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center
World Data Center for Seismology, Denver

A major earthquake occurred at 15:42:05 (UTC) on Sunday, July 24, 2005. The magnitude 7.2 event has been located in the NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

Controversy continues over the recent Associated Press story which detailed the remarks of a "senior Israeli official" who said that Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in London for an economic conference, was warned by Scotland Yard "minutes" in advance of the bombings.
According to the AP story, the Israeli minister's prior knowledge resulted in his not showing up at the conference, which took place at a hotel near the Liverpool Underground station one of the bomb sites.
But in a follow-up report by the news service the Israeli government denied knowledge of a prior warning and claimed that Netanyahu received the warning after the blasts had occurred.
It should be noted that the first story detailing Netanyahu's "advance" warning was never retracted. 19.Jul.05

The Mossad office in London received advance notice about the attacks, but only six minutes before the first blast, the paper reports, confirming an earlier AP report. As a result, it was impossible to take any action to prevent the blasts.
"They reached us too late for us to do something about it," a Mossad source is quoted as saying.

Israel Insider/journal 24.Jul.05

Something happened, then it happened again. Sort of. And then a young man was shot five times in the back at close range by a group of police officers at least three of whom were in plain clothes. And then the responsible agency, or the nominally responsible agency, said it had been determined that he was innocent and it was a regrettable mistake. The extenuating circumstance is that he was seen leaving a house that was under surveillance "because of a suspected link to Thursday's attempted bomb attacks" [21.Jul.]. And he was wearing a thick winter coat inappropriate to the day.
No other detail is being offered to explain the killing of an unarmed man by London's previously famous-for-being-unarmed police.
London has a population of over 7 million. There are around 30,000 officers in the MPS.
It's likely that a number of houses were under surveillance the day after the second (attempted) London bombings.
It's also likely that a number of people left those houses, and that at least some of them entered public transportation portals. But this man was chased onto a train, and either fell or was pushed to the floor of the train, and shot five times at close range in the back.
Many people whose complacency had been disturbed by the original London bombings of 7/7, and then disturbed again by the attempted bombings of 21/7, are gratified by the efficiency and clean, nearly invisible violence of this man's death.
That's disturbing.
In a related but relatively tangential note:

Expecting George Bush and his spiritual compatriots to be concerned about climate change is pretty naive, considering he's proclaimed himself a believer in the End Times. The world is supposed to be destroyed by fire. What's the problem, if you're saved?
In a completely speculative, but you know, kind of I think likely, note:

Tony Blair looks and acts like someone who's been so thoroughly encircled by threat he's had no choice but to keep smiling and hoping someone gets it. Trying to stay out in front of it, whatever it is.
Like I used to imagine scenarios of intrigue back-stage in the music biz.
Things like Tom Petty's contract disputes, Prince's contract disputes - things that made them whores to themselves unless they pulled out, and the sacrifice that is to an artist - only I was imagining not being able to pull out. Like being owned by really serious thugs would make you have to sing no matter what.
Like real whores are a lot of the time. Owned. In the business of pleasure at the pain of their lives.
Lost in the public eye, and the show must go on.
Both Bush and Blair seem more and more like cathartic figures, handled, placed, and no longer able to withdraw. Though Bush himself seems more Manchurian than Faustian in his affect. I keep getting this sense of Blair not being able to say something that would explain it all.

"Now lets put everything we've learned together into a proper timeline of who knew what and when using the original, more detailed timeline. The individual bombings are in red while compiled information is in green.
  • Sometime that morning, the Brits were conducting terror attack drills at/near bombing sites.
  • ~8:43am, Mossad office in London alerted to a pending terror strike 6 minutes before first explosion.
  • 8:49am, there was a report of an incident on the train line.
  • Sometime between 8:43am 9:15am, Netanyahu was warned. It isn't clear when he was told, but someone tipped him off not to go out due to a possible terrorist attack. He (and the Israeli Embasssy) originally said that it was Scotland Yard who called in the warning, but the Brits deny this. However, the Mossad office got a warning (not telling where from, just saying "they").
  • 9:15am, the media reported emergency services were called into action.
  • 9:24am, Police still unsure what happened, say it may have been a train accident or electrical issue.
  • 9:33am, reports of another incident.
  • 9:40am, Police say there have been power surge incidents.
  • 10:02am, Scotland Yard announces they are dealing with a 'major incident.'
  • 10:14am, bus is reported to have exploded. This is the first real sign that it's a terrorist attack.
  • 10:23am, Another bus is reported to have exploded.
  • 10:25am, Tony Blair and company are still unsure about terrorist attack.
So if Mossad knew 6 minutes prior to the first bombing that means by 10:25am, while Tony Blair wasn't even sure, the Israelis had knowledge for about 40 minutes."


Chinese carmaker Nanjing Automotive has secured ownership of MG Rover for an unknown sum, after a three-way bidding battle spread over three months.
It was one of two Chinese companies trying to buy the assets of MG Rover, the other being Shanghai Automotive.
BBCNews 22.Jul.05

"the misadventure of many thousands of vulnerable people, struggling to survive and make some sense of their lives"


Inspired by Thomas Kinkade, this home and setting is truely one of the most unique properties on the central coast. Carefully crafted in every detail, the residence and landscaped grounds, beautiful pond & stream beds, make this is a must see property. $2,275,000
Plus not driving these days means getting groceries home in the most practical way is carrying them in a backpack. Plus I'm long-haired and bearded. So the stares have been increasing.
Not that the ghosts behind the surveillance cams are in a tizzy, they know what's up with me, sort of, enough to feel comfortable that I'm not packing any homemade excitement. But there's that outside-the-acceptable-profile thing again.
Something that probably should be occupying people's thoughts these days is a way of vectoring the record heat with the energy vampire moves - the lockdown mentality having more than a little to do with social chaos as people wake up to the widening oscillation of the larger-than-human system whose regularity we depend on.
Though conveniently, many are now virtually house-bound, especially the kids - there's a buffer between them and the weather, except at its most dramatic.
I keep getting this urge to come up with something to do, something that regular people can do about what's happening. It's a secure spot, carping and pointing out the hypocrisies and covert manipulation - but it's like unloading the tools from the truck.
Okay, here we are, there's the materials, there's the tools, now what?
None of the old morality works. Unless you call blind obedience and submissive posture toward any and all authority morality. I don't.
I'm so pissed-off I can't stand it, and it keeps getting worse.
So not only am I wrong-profiling, and backpack-wearing, I'm glaring, I'm not relaxed.
And Thomas Kinkade is "inspiring" homes. Ai-yah.

With an imminent final vote on a national energy policy, musicians Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls, actor James Cromwell and Native American political advocates Winona LaDuke and Margene Bullcreek will hold a Capitol Hill press briefing luncheon to express their strong opposition to congressional efforts to resuscitate nuclear power with billions of dollars in federal subsidies. The groups will highlight the dangers and failure of nuclear power by drawing particular attention to pending federal plans to dump 44,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste on Skull Valley Goshute sacred land in Utah.


On July 25, Ani DiFranco, The Indigo Girls, James Cromwell, Joan McIntosh, Winona LaDuke and Skull Valley Goshute tribal members Margene Bullcreek and Lena Knight will be spearheading a national lobby day against the energy bill and the proposed Private Fuel Storage (PFS) high-level waste dump on Goshute land in Utah. They, along with members of DC-based environmental groups, will be holding a press and congressional briefing, and then meeting with individual Senate offices throughout the day in an effort to bring out the truth about the billions of dollars of nuclear funding contained in the energy bill and about the backroom maneuvering and dealmaking - and lack of congressional oversight - that has brought the unjust PFS project close to final approval.

Nuclear Information and Resource Service


"One big problem with Sharon's feint is that the Israeli military has brutalized Gazans since 1967 and left the place without much governmental or police capacity. The Israeli decision to support the fundamentalist Hamas back in the 1970s and 1980s against the secular nationalist PLO has backfired big time, as Hamas has become the major political force in Gaza, and is much less willing to compromise with the Israelis than the PLO. Some will point out that some Gazans engaged in terrorism against Israel. This is true. Some will argue that the terrorism has nothing to do with the Israeli occupation, colonization and brutalization of the Palestinians. This is not true."
Juan Cole/Informed Comment 20.Jul.05


NOUN: A shantytown on the outskirts of a city, especially in France or North Africa.
ETYMOLOGY:French : bidon, gas can, oildrum (from Old French, bottle, tankard, probably of Scandinavian origin) + ville, town; see village.


mountaintop removal

try harder

"Israel has massed tanks and troops on the border with the Gaza Strip and threatened to invade if Palestinian militants continue their attacks. There was more rocket and mortar fire from the militants today, salvos that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to do his utmost to stop. NPR's Linda Gradstein has more from Jerusalem.

LINDA GRADSTEIN (NPR, 18.Jul.05) reporting:

After a weekend of violence and increasing Israeli-Palestinian tensions, officials on both sides say they're working to calm the situation and save a crumbling five-month-old cease-fire. Israeli government sources say that despite the massing of Israeli tanks and troops on the border with Gaza, Israel will not launch a large-scale military incursion into Gaza unless more Israeli civilians are killed by Palestinian rocket and mortar fire.

There was a barrage of fire over the weekend and six Israelis were wounded, two seriously yesterday. Today Palestinians fired at least two Qassam rockets at southern Israel and at least five mortar shells at Jewish settlements. There were no casualties or damage."


to return to my home

...a 14-year-old boy, Ragheb al-Abed al-Masri, was killed [Monday, 18.Jul.05] while waiting to cross to Khan Yunus.
According to Dr Ibrahim Mssadar, director of the Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital, the boy was waiting at Abo Holi when he was shot in the back, with the bullet leaving his body through his heart and chest.
Eitan Arusy, a spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Force, said the closures were for security reasons and would continue until further notice.
As for the shooting at Abo Holi, he said Palestinian cars attempted to cross the checkpoint without permission from the soldiers.

"The soldiers fired warning shots into open air, not on the cars. We have no proof of any injuries..."
Laila El-Haddad/ 19.Jul.05


"Naomi Klein reported, 18 July 2005 in The Guardian, on a massacre in Haiti alleged to have taken place the day before the London bombings.
On July 6, 300 UN troops attacked the pro-Aristide slum of Cite Soleil. The UN says that five were killed, but residents say at least 20 were murdered.

Reuters correspondent Joseph Guyler Delva says he "saw seven bodies in one house alone, including two babies and one older woman in her 60s".
Ali Besnaci, head of Medecins Sans Frontieres in Haiti, said that on the day of the siege 27 people came to the MSF clinic with gunshot wounds, three-quarters of them women and children.

The residents of Cite Soleil say they are being killed for daring to demand the return of their elected president."
aangirfan 19.Jul.05

deadly children bomb

Iraqi experts are saying that the recent car bomb that killed some 18 children was not the work of the anti-occupation fighters but of the U.S. occupation troops.

A traffic lieutenant who asked not to be identified said to a media source that U.S. solders crazily raced out of the street less than a minute before the explosion and that after the blast they did not return to the bomb scene but continued to hurry out of the area.

Furthermore, a captain in the fire department said the explosion was extremely powerful and left a big crater in the earth - something that other car bombs do not do. The captain stated that this was because the bombs used by the Iraqi resistance are made from Russian-made TNT that was in the possession of the Army of the Republic of Iraq before the U.S. occupation.

According to the captain former soldiers are very familiar with the effects of such explosives, and know that during an explosion it blows upwards, not downwards, and for this reason U.S. forces prohibit the taking of photographs from the scenes of attacks where the effects of explosions are obvious.

When the fire captain was asked to clarify his remarks and whether he was accusing the Americans of setting the blast, he replied, "The Traffic Stop Director for the area, Ahmad Kamal was fired because of his statement one hour after the explosion in which he said the U.S. forces were behind the blast. This was regarded as an 'irresponsible statement' by him and attributed to the fact that he had lost control of himself and had a breakdown..." 18.Jul.05


A lot of angry, scary people
"I feel that people who have superstitions have been victimized and do not see the world clearly. And I feel very sad for them.

Also, a teeny bit afraid of them.

But to be honest, I don't know how much I want this in my life. All these angry people. If I still had an assistant, I would have him or her going through these e-mails for me, but I don't have one and I end up reading them all. And it's just gotten to me. I mean, of course, they haven't convinced me. And I'm not going to be quiet about it. I just think that a daily journal about my views isn't the way for me to go at the moment. The blogging just seems to goad them on even further.

And today, for the first time, I seriously thought I should move or something. I got a little scared.
I will blog again someday, but not in the near future."
Julia Sweeney 18.Jun.05
there are ramifications

"I actually think it is getting better for atheists in the U.S., despite the religiosity of the current administration," Las Vegas atheist Clark Adams writes in an e-mail. "Many celebrities are on record as nonbelievers, and it's not too uncommon to see an atheist positively portrayed on TV or in movies."

Others, though, label this argument "denial." They're quick to reference the many atheists who so fear harassment that they join atheist groups anonymously and others who are cast out of their families, refused positions involving children or relieved of jobs because of their nonbelief.

It's this group that pushes the separation of church and state, a debate energized during the 1960s by legendary atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who proclaimed herself "the most hated woman in America."

They reject the argument often cited by Christian activists that the nation's government was founded by Christians. They argue that although some of the authors of the Constitution may have been religious men, they consistently maintained a clear boundary between their faith and their government. They note that until the communist scare of the 1950s, "In God we trust" wasn't the national motto, nor did it appear on paper currency, and "under God" was absent from the Pledge of Allegiance.

They point out that Bush - who as Texas governor declared April 17, 2000, Jesus Day - has awarded religious "armies of compassion" and other faith-based groups more than $3 billion in public funds since 2003. And they feel the steel in remarks by former California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, now on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, who told Roman Catholic legal professionals in April that people of faith were embroiled in a "war" with secular humanists."

Gina Piccalo/LATimes/YahooNews 18.Jul.05

So it worked.
The little brothers and sisters of Eric Rudolph intimidated Sweeney right on out of there. Piccalo doesn't seem to have room or time to explore that, as she paints the scattered ragtag band of American atheists as eccentric losers.
The beauty of the scam is agents like Rudolph can open up the territory, the settlers can move in without having to take responsibility for the bloodshed, and their children can be brought up to think of themselves as entirely innocent, or guilt-free, which in that particular moral schema is the same thing.
Neither God nor God's organized institutions have to take responsibility for the lone gunmen that flame people like Sweeney.
Yet the work gets done just the same.
Clearing the land.


a slight bump

"We believe that one primary, unstated motive for the determination of the government of the State of Israel to get the Jewish settlers of the Qatif (Katif) settlement block out of the Gaza Strip may be to keep them out of harm's way when the Israeli government and military possibly trigger an intensified mass attack on the approximately one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, of whom about half are 1948 Palestine refugees.
The scenario could be similar to what has already happened in the past - a tactic that Ariel Sharon has used many times in his military career - i.e., utilizing provocation in order to launch massive attacks.
Following this pattern, we believe that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz are considering to utilize provocation for vicious attacks in the near future on the approximately one and a half million Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip: a possible combination of intensified state terror and mass killing. The Israeli army is not likely to risk the kind of casualties to its soldiers that would be involved in employing ground troops on a large scale in the Gaza Strip."
Uri Davis, Ilan Pappe, Tamar Yaron/CounterPunch 15.Jul.05

"Ashkur-allah! Thank you for everyone who prayed for Khalid. We heard the good news this morning that he is safe, albeit in a mukhaberat (secret police) cell. He was picked up from university on tuesday as he arrived there to collect his final exam results. We don't know why he's been taken exactly, perhaps for what he writes against the occupation on his blog. Whatever the reason, I am sure it is unjustified and if he is not release swiftly then his friends and family will launch a campaign for his freedom."

Justin Alexander/iraqi wannabe

authorities on three continents

In a speech in central London on Saturday, Blair said authorities were facing an "evil ideology" in their struggle against Islamic terrorism.
"The greatest danger is that we fail to face up to the nature of the threat that we're dealing with," he said. "And what we are confronting here is an evil ideology.... It is a battle of ideas, of hearts and of minds, both within Islam and outside it."

William J. Kole/AP/ 16.Jul.05

You'd think that that "battle of ideas, of hearts and minds" would be raging within and outside the other two religions with players on the field - Judaism and Christianity - as well.
Is that too nit-picky? I think it's central. We're asked to perceive Islam as the miniaturized battleground of what we're supposed to be viewing as a "clash of civilizations" - that Islam is the scene of that clash, sort of pretty much, that there are good and bad Muslims, and that the "war on terror" is not a war against Islam itself exactly, but against an evil ideology that festers within it, to the detriment of good Muslims everywhere, and the outrage of the civilized world.
Why isn't that same division makeable in Christianity and Judaism? Can't there be evil there too? Can't there be some kind of supremacy of the elect that justifies the impersonal slaughter of innocents in those religions too? Isn't there? Isn't that what this is really?
The assumption behind Blair's phrase is no there can't, this isn't.
Islam must clean its own house of this violent ideology, with our increasingly violent support. Our houses are clean already.
In a related bit, James Wolcott asks the same question many of us have pondered about the boyish and cheerful-seeming Tony Blair.
Why is he so easily satirized as Bush's poodle? Why was he so rabidly pro-invasion and so unashamedly unapologetic for the odometer-like body count in Iraq?
The answer seems to be that he isn't Bush's poodle at all, since Bush himself is down on all fours and barking for approval. From whom is the more accurate, the real question.
And with that I'm lashing the wheel.


Xymphora answers Trudeau's cheap shot with three of his own, two of them completely uncalled-for.
Whereas herein will be found only calm and reasonable argumentation.

"Please could you urgently pray for a freind, K, who vanished in Baghdad yesterday. We were due to meet today and he was going to bring a supply of chocolate he had bought for me in Jordan. His family have searched hospitals and morques, thankfully without result. The most likely explanation is that he has been detained by one of the many branches of the US army, Iraqi Police, Iraq National Guard, Iraqi Special Forces etc. We are in the process of checking with all of these to see if they are holding him, something which may take some time as they generally have poor and uncoordinated records of detainees. Please pray for his safety wherever he is, and that he can be returned to his family soon."
Iraqi Wannabe 13.Jul.05


Problems at the bottom of the food chain

"Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Washington.
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, which may be related to a lack of updwelling, in which cold, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface.
On Washington beaches, bird surveyors in May typically find an average of one dead Brandt's cormorant every 34 miles of beach. This year, cormorant deaths averaged one every eight-tenths of a mile, according to data gathered by volunteers with the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, which Parrish has directed since 2000.
"This is somewhere between five and 10 times the highest number of bird deaths we've seen before," she said, adding that she expected June figures to show a similar trend.
Peterson, the NOAA oceanographer, said many scientists suspect climate change may be involved.
"People have to realize that things are connected - the state of coastal temperatures and plankton populations are connected to larger issues like Pacific salmon populations," he said.
Parrish cautioned that human activity could jeopardize the survival of animals already stressed by environmental changes.
"This, for instance, would be a truly bad year for an oil spill," she said.

AP/YahooNews 13.Jul.05


"There are many forces operating at once..."
In 1991 a small group of Russians emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to claim ownership of some of the world's most valuable petroleum, natural gas, and metal deposits. This resulted in one of the greatest transfers of wealth we have ever seen.
To give you some measure of that, in 1997 five of those individuals were on the Forbes magazine list of the world's richest billionaires. That is quite an accomplishment given that in 1985, or thereabouts, they had no net worth -- zero to over a billion. This year, 2003, there are seventeen on the Forbes list of the richest billionaires.
And if you saw The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times recently, two of those oligarchs tentatively agreed to merge their two petroleum companies, Yukos and Sibneft, which will create a company worth a capitalized value of about $35 billion. What is significant is that of that $35 billion capitalized value, there are only four or five individuals who own almost all of the stock, unlike Exxon where there are perhaps 100,000 stockholders.
Almost all of these self-styled oligarchs have been accused of using guile, intimidation, and occasionally violence, to reap those rewards.

How did it all happen? Who was responsible? And what was the role of Western advisors?
There were two main categories of oligarchs besides the factory directors. The first batch are those who were part of the Nomenklatura. These were the "big brothers" in the system. They were the ones who had been in the ministries, the ministers, senior party officials.
Vagit Alekperov was the Minister of Energy, and carved out three oil fields for himself from the petroleum sector, one beginning with L, one beginning with U, one beginning with K, called it LUKoil, put together some refineries, and he ran the largest oil petroleum company in Russia. He ultimately was able to buy up the stock. LUKoil has now purchased Getty Oil.
The man next to him, Rem Vyakhirev, put together Gazprom that he inherited from Chernomydrin. This is the world's largest natural gas company, one of the country's richest companies.
Do you know where Russia's second-largest natural gas producer is headquartered? If you did, you'd ruin the story. It's in Jacksonville, Florida. It's called ITERA. ITERA is an offshoot of Gazprom. It is controlled by a trust, the owners of which are the children of the Gazprom people, Vyakhirev and Chernomydrin, their wives, their mistresses, and various hangers-on. They stripped Gossnab's assets, over $1 billion a year, and ITERA is one of the by-products.
Marshall Goldman 30.Apr.03
Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs

"the quiet oligarch"

Gasoline in the U.S. Northeast has quietly acquired a Russian relation. Lukoil is about to take off the mask.

Drivers pulling into a Getty station in the U.S. believe they are buying gas from the legacy assets of one of America's more eccentric oilmen, Jean Paul Getty. Likewise with the familiar red, white and blue Mobil sign: That means the merged Exxon, right? Not in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The man now behind those familiar banners is Vagit Alekperov, head of Lukoil, owner of 2,100 gas stations from Maine to Virginia and some of Russia's richest oilfields.

Alekperov is known as "the quiet oligarch," but there is nothing quiet about his ambitions. "The seven sisters should look out because they now have a brother," he said almost ten years ago. Lukoil has grown fourfold since Alekperov, a former Soviet oil minister, created it by consolidating state oil rights in the chaotic days after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has not yet achieved his goal of turning Lukoil into a globally integrated oil giant, but he does have the makings. Lukoil has 20 billion barrels of proven hydrocarbon reserves, more than any other oil company except ExxonMobil.

With all that oil in the ground, Alekperov has spent a decade looking for ways to sell it. He set up thousands of service stations around the former Soviet states and then set his sights on the U.S. What better place to peddle petrol than a nation of gas-guzzlers? His aim is to build a company that extends "from Russia's oilfields to the gas tanks of American cars," he says.
The Russian energy minister and his U.S. counterpart have been meeting several times a year. "We are always a part of those meetings," says Vadim Gluzman, chief executive of Lukoil's U.S. unit. "The U.S. government is interested in diversifying energy sources."

Gluzman, a 42-year-old Russian emigre, is mysterious about how he met Alekperov. He is an intriguing figure to be running what is already a $2.2 billion business. Murky about his curriculum vitae since coming to the U.S. (he only acknowledges a post with a Rhode Island garden hose maker), Gluzman himself appears to fit the post-Soviet business model, an engineer by training who happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right idea. He has no experience in retail or energy, but he helped pull off the first Russian takeover of a listed American company with the purchase of Getty Petroleum Marketing four years ago.

Deborah Orr/ 20.Sep.04

The Oligarchs
That Jews control a disproportionately large share of the Russian economy and Russian media certainly has some basis in fact. Between 50 and 80 percent of the Russian economy is said to be in Jewish hands, with the influence of the five Jews among the eight individuals commonly referred to as "oligarchs" particularly conspicuous. (An oligarch is understood to be a member of a small group that exercises control in a government. The five oligarchs of Jewish descent are Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Friedman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexander Smolensky. The other oligarchs are Vagit Alekperov, Vladimir Potanin, and Rem Vyakhirev.)

Perhaps the most famous (and simultaneously the most infamous) of the oligarchs is Boris Berezovsky. In common with most of the other Jewish oligarchs, Berezovsky controls industries in three critical areas: the extraction and sale of a major natural resource, such as oil, as a source of great wealth; a large bank (useful in influencing industry and transferring assets abroad); and several major media outlets (useful for exerting influence and attacking rivals). He also controls a significant share of the Aeroflot airline and the Moscow automobile industry. He is a long-time, close associate of the Yeltsin family and is often perceived as a Rasputin-type figure in his relationship with Tatiana Dyachenko, Yeltsin's very influential daughter. Berezovsky's leading lieutenant is another Jew, Roman Abramovich, a shadowy individual in his early 30s. Abramovich manages Berezovsky's vast oil interests (Sibneft and related companies), arranges major financial and industrial positions in the Russian Cabinet, serves as cashier to the Yeltsin family, and controls access to Berezovsky himself.
The Role of Politics in Contemporary Russian Anti-Semitism
Betsy Gidwitz/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs 15.Sep.99

"...bears on his person traces of habitual..."

In morality and talent, this Raimbaud [sic], aged between 15 and 16, was and is a monster. He can construct poems like no one else, but his works are completely incomprehensible and repulsive...

Verlaine & Rimbaud, Armed & Dangerous
Steve King/Today in Literature

"...his personal history means nothing less than that God is listening."

link Busy Busy Busy


the wrong cab

"They held him for over 50 days - and for what?," she added.

Relatives and friends of Mr. Kar, as well as anthropologists, filmmakers and others who had worked with him, gave a reporter detailed accounts of how he had gone to Iraq to try to complete the filming of a historical documentary he was trying to make about the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great.
Over the previous two years, they said, Mr. Kar had already shot more than 40 hours of footage in the United States, Germany, Britain, Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. He was determined to visit Babylon, the fabled city south of Baghdad that Cyrus the Great had conquered in 539 B.C., freeing its Jewish captives in a show of magnanimity.
A Pentagon official said Mr. Kar was turned over to American custody immediately by the Iraqi security forces and was never mistreated. He was detained and interrogated at Camp Cropper, the American prison at the Baghdad airport that holds Saddam Hussein and some of his former aides, an official said.

Tim Golden/NYTimes 10.Jul.05

The Road to Falluja


"never made a dime"

Barger's robotwisdom, through a print link in the New Yorker's little squib section about online things of interest that used to run in a middle column in the movie and theater listings at the front of the mag that had a clever name that I can't remember now, was how I found this, all of it really. I remember when he went to the black background, when the bombs began. I wish he'd go back to something like Danny Yee, his most direct descendant. Try reading fafblog and robotwisdom back-to-back.
There was a serious amount of antagonism from some quarters toward Barger's online presence pre-hiatus that's seemingly still unmentionable, even in the article in Wired cited by barista, above.

a letter to a friend:

I was building fences, when I lived in the Napa valley, working for a half-mad Dust Bowl hillbilly California Scotsman, scraping by, trying hard - he got us a job up on a ridge west of C_, people wanted a deer fence around twenty acres they had up there, a kind of summer cabin and a guy that lived there year round whose name was A_ E_.
A_ was going to be a helper, thrown into the bargain, they gave him a place to live up there and part of that was he was going to help us.
They were Adventists, he was an orphan their parents had adopted sort of but not exactly, taken custody of or whatever it's called when you take someone in as a child but don't make them part of the family.
I didn't like the owners right away. Before anything happened, just talking to them. Two sons, about my age then, which was 32.
A day or two after we started A_ asked me at lunch if I wanted to see his place, so I went down there. His rooms were like a dream, not a hearts and flowers dream, but other-worldly real/not-real, clean as could be, and trig, neat and tidy swept and dusted, colors mostly dark green as I remember them, cool and dark against the heat and glare of 100 degree weather outside, nothing in there even near gaudy or cheap, some old used furniture and a tv, but the floors were spotless and there was a dignity to everything, the way it sat, the way it was placed in the rooms. Out in back, out the kitchen door there was a garden, with its own high wooden fence, he never said but it felt like the owners had never even seen it. It was like Eden. Every single plant was heroic and strong, big and healthy and ready to get on with life right now. It was a knockout of a garden, something people pay big money to get someone else to make for them, and it was just there in back of his little cabin-y house where he made it, tended it, and ate from its produce.
One of the owners had mentioned that A_ and his sister had been "rescued" by their parents as a charitable act of Christian kindness, that they were congenital syphilitics, their mom had had it, and therefore they were not right in the head, they were slow and uneducable. And they were Indians, maybe local, he didn't know what kind.
Around the owners A_ acted just like they expected, but I noticed when he talked to me every word was accurate, poetically fit the meaning and the moment, not as singing but in that athletic grace where nothing is extra, nothing put on for secondary reasons - when he spoke there was that kind of strength you need to know suffering to be able to recognize, how firm it is, how much weight is behind it. Which doesn't describe it too well, because we were just talking about the things you do when someone shows you their house who you don't know real well.
What I'm trying to describe is what came through above and below and around the words and gestures, telepathy maybe a little, and whatever it is that goes between people outside and alongside the bits and units of language.
Something behind this world's surface things that's more real, and some people that know that and aren't afraid of it, and haven't sold out to whoever's buying - it's there in their voices and faces, but you need to want to see it.
One time there was a problem on the job, and things were getting tense, going too slow, and there were hang-ups and breakdowns, and unexpected difficulties, a solid granite section of the ridge ten inches under the grass and thin topsoil on a hillside the fenceline had to run; they called a licensed blaster down from P_, with dynamite to blow holes we could cement the posts into - somewhere during that we were in the shade, me and K_ my boss, the blasting guy, one of the owners and his wife, and A_. And the owner just offhand said something to A_ that was so loaded with racist evil and confident disdain I couldn't let it pass, and I called him on it, and he dismissed me - or he tried to, not fired me but you know, blew me off, or tried to - and I went toward him a little and said what you need to say when it's like that, and he faced me more directly and started to do his personal Adventist power ritual whatever it was, and I went toward him a little more, and K_ being an outlaw as much as not and a decent human being besides, though his family's welfare depended on us getting paid, he didn't say much of anything, just watching and listening.
I guess if you could imagine the way I looked that time you first came down to L_C_ from S_, in that shiny red car with your long hair and symmetrical features and I met you at the gate - you know, dark tan and muscled up, only a me twenty years younger than that - so you could see maybe his wife was casting glances a little, the owner being a vegetarian Adventist with some kind of bizarre Christian sex trip and everything; so there was that. And then there I was up in his shit about the way he was talking to A_, who he'd been treating that way since he was a boy, younger than A_, bossing him around, insulting him whenever he felt like it - it was a foundation in his world and it was being attacked, so his world was in need of defending. It heated up a little. After a few rounds of back and forth moves on his part and no moves at all on mine he squawked out something about going up and getting his gun, and I liked that part. I'm a total pussy about heights, and fist-violence makes me almost crippled to even think about, but I'm not afraid of a man with a gun and I never have been - not the way they want you to be when they pull it on you, or talk about pulling it on you.
So I went up a little closer to him and made it clear where I was at with that.
He had room to the side to get his wife and him on back up to their cabin without exactly turning his back on me or losing too much face, and at one point someone suggested we all just leave it alone, that we'd leave now, no more work that day anyway; and he left, with huffy words and his dignity relatively intact; so it didn't get resolved exactly, no permanent violence was done, just tension and hold and then room to move and it's over, and of course when you leave you leave wondering if it's all going to come back down on A_, who had no other place to go to live, he'd been there all his life just about.
I like to think there was a little weight attached to that man's heart when he went to throw his shit around on A_ later, something that held him back. Of course he insisted that I not go back up there to finish out the job, though to somebody's credit he didn't fire K_ and the rest of the crew, which was I think consisting at that time of K_'s wife and another guy besides me.
A long time later I saw A_ on a bus in S_ R_. He represents something for me, it's why I'm trying to tell you this. Not just him but a whole class of people that I think of when I think of failing, of letting people down, of not getting the job done, of selling out, of taking the easy way, now, at the expense of a whole long time later on, forever.
I guess what it is I'm trying to say - it's possible to champion people you don't even know, or try to, want to, feel like you have to, even people you don't have names or a name for, to want to champion them to want to be someone that holds something back for them or moves things in another, better direction - not for A_ and all the ones now so much as for longer than now, deeper in, even all the way.
Right and wrong isn't rules or laws - that's a lie, and it's an ugly lie at that.
Right and wrong is about beauty and ugliness. That's what it comes down to, and the faith of it, the believing, is that beauty isn't personal, subjective, relative. It's real all by itself, you can see it; but it's there even when you can't.


on that day in that general location

Iraq's UN ambassador has accused US marines of killing his relative in cold blood during a recent house raid near the western town of Haditha.
Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie, a supporter of the United States, said Mohammed al-Sumaidaie, the 21-year old son of his first cousin, was shot by marines during a raid at his father's house in the village of Al-Shaikh Hadid, near a US military base at the Haditha Dam on Friday.
"All indications point to a killing of an unarmed innocent civilian - a cold-blooded murder," said Sumaidaie, a Sunni.

"The marines were smiling at each other as they were leaving," he quoted the mother of the young man as saying. 02.Jul.05

"Transparent society? It looks more like a society of gadget-wielding finger-pointers to me."
link barista

"Historically, the coverage is patchy and shows the fatigue of the author, then in his middle 50s."
entry on Flavius Josephus
Encyclopedia Brittanica (Google, cached)

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