...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



2,000,000 displaced people in Colombia, second only to Darfur
50% under 15 years old

Pies Descalzos


NYPD Arrests 49 Bicyclists during August Critical Mass:

nyc indymedia


Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog/WeatherUnderground
list of Katrina-related active blogs
Josh Britton in Baton Rouge
kaye trammell hurricane update

"They tell you on the first day of residency orientation that, at multiple times during the year, you will question why you went into medicine.
My first moment came yesterday when I found out I had to stay in New Orleans and brace for perhaps THE WORST storm in the history of history.

Yay me."
TU4Ever/ Anonymous Sportaholic
Weather Channel blog
link path Rogers Cradenhead via robotwisdom


New Orleans Stories-Katrina
insomnia/Mark Kraft has an updating (so far) page of first-person eyewitness posts from the Big Uneasy

Tim Gautreaux
Ellen Gilchrist
Aaron Neville
Poppy Brite
Britney Spears
Anne Rice
John Grisham
Daniel Lanois
Michael Ondaatje
Harry Connick Jr.
Jim Garrison
Dr. John
Fats Domino


updated 28.08
Andrew Brown, in the Guardian, on Robert Trivers:

"Of course the idea that we have moral sentiments because they are useful and profitable seems to many people to misunderstand or deny the nature of morality. The whole point of altruistic behaviour is that we do it without thought of reward - sometimes, without any thought at all, as when rescuing people from drowning, or pulling them back from an oncoming car. There are less dramatic examples, however, which include sharing food, helping the sick, the very young, and the old, even when we are not related to them, and sharing tools and knowledge. All these are nearly universal human habits; in fact we describe societies where they don't happen as inhuman."
The genetic basis of "reciprocal altruism" seems indisputable to me - the genetic basis of pretty much everything we recognize as human makes sense.
But what genes are in most people's minds is just chemistry - linked-up molecules doing the inevitable. So that the picture is of a really complex chemical reaction, nothing more. But that doesn't seem complete.
The looming possibility of laboratory-created life, from protein strings to animated behavior - in experiments performed by disinterested and amoral(in the sense there's no ethical context other than the pursuit and attainment of knowledge) scientists - makes that picture appear even more accurate.
There's nothing down there but inanimate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Life is dead.
It took a long time for people to get ahold of the complexities of interdependence and the possibility of speaking of health and unhealth in what we now call eco-systems.
Until really recently individual species were seen as entirely separate from each other, and consequently removable and replaceable, the larger web they lived and moved in being nothing more than landscape, a growth medium.
We also thought that the sky and the sea were so vast and empty that they could hold whatever poisons we dumped into them.
That blindness was a result of our awareness of things starting from the zero of the self and moving outward, solely advancing by the provable and demonstrable.
The inability of people with other ways of seeing things, other consciousnesses - other cultures whose regard for the world around them was rooted in that interdependence and reverent of it - to withstand the onslaught of those whose view of the natural world was antagonistic, meant that their ways of being were discounted and ridiculed as primitive. Yet what science itself has taught us is that in some crucial ways they were right.
They lost the struggle against a superior physical power, therefore their spiritual power was inconsequential. We won the struggle, therefore our spiritual power, or the power of our denial of the existence of anything that could be called spiritual, is superior.
But the world's on fire.
There was something back there that warned of this, and we shoved it aside.
The explanations Trivers presents make sense, but again we're learning about things starting from the self, from not knowing. We didn't know, then we learned, now we know more. It's a linear expansion that begins at the point of the self. The assumed point of the self.
The assumption, the conceit, is that nothing can be said to exist until its existence is proven. This puts the processing intelligence at the center of everything. It's the apotheosis of selfishness. Traditionally, that's the Satanic position.
Saying there are spirits in the forest who will be angered and grieving if the trees are cut down is ridiculed by the same culture that allows ungoverned - or self-governed, which is the same thing - and indiscriminate tinkering with anything, including the source-code of life itself.
At the same time that culture allows the folktales of creationism and the unprovable metaphysic of Intelligent Design an equal place at the table with rational scepticism. No tree worship, but lots of monotheism.
I could easily be criticized for saying that we should abandon science altogether and live in the woods and worship trees. I'm not saying anything like that.
What I'm saying is the backwash of our mistakes is no longer trivial enough to be accounted as the price of doing business, and there were voices that spoke to that that were silenced.
Along with the explanations of our behavior as genetically driven comes an unacknowledged ignorance of what those genes are, beyond their chemistry. And that's too close to the ignorance that allowed us to do all this damage to the world that was supporting us so well for so long.
link 3Quarks


Nussbaum v. Butler, Round One

"Given such a tragic view, it is hard to see how Butler could develop a hopeful politics. But she is in a position to rail against the rigid strictures of a repressive society. (Again, the parallel with Freud is exact.) No good can come, both she and Freud would argue, from trying to push all sexual desire into overly narrow channels. The chances for success are slim, and the costs of that forcing on psychic health are very high. Butler's politics, like Freud's are necessarily therapeutic. The focus is on making individual lives easier to live and bear (which, I take it, accurately characterizes Nussbaum's aims as well. The difference comes in the means chosen-and in the diagnosis of what is causing the patient pain.) Social transformation in Butler as in Freud would be aimed at relaxing the rigidity of approved identity categories, in reducing guilt and anxiety."
John McGowan
Michael Berube Online
There's a parallel conceit in the chaotic and disunited opposition to the "War in Iraq".
The simple idea that the stated goals, and the consensus of assumed goals generally, aren't real, that the present situation or something like it was the purpose for the invasion and occupation, and that all the subsequent seeming-incompetence was a result not of failure but deceit.
That the sexual tension Butler's seeking to relieve and transform was the purposed and intended result, not the seemingly clear goal of "having forced" people into constrictive and unrealistic categories of identity, of getting them in there - but the tension produced by that forcing. So that it isn't the goal that drives the pathology, it's the driving itself that was the goal.
Whatever's creating the ill-fitting Procrustean beds wanting not that everyone get in there, amputated or diminished, but that the grind of being forced itself produces something that was sought after all along. That it would rather have us crippled and unable than adapted.
Democracy and freedom for the Iraqi people was never in the cards. A strong nation could too easily change course, as we've seen here at home.
The pathologies Butler defends us against aren't as simple and simply puritanical as they might seem. They don't want us pure and conformist - they want us broken.


I don't think about Bob Dylan when I think about anti-Semitism, I think about his father. Because what he is came from there.
You can read Chronicles, Volume One and feel it in the words he uses when he talks about his father. And if you had a chance to ask him I'm sure he'd say the same. And what Dylan represents to me more than anything else is decency, heroically amplified and filtered through a wild art.
So I think about that when I think about people saying there's something wrong inside the race, something in the Jews, like Tay-Sachs, that makes all this happen. And I'm saying here as firmly and clearly as I can that that's not it.
These men I'm pointing to below are indecent, evil, insane with selfishness and heartless denial, they're spiritually profane, and they hide what they're doing behind a wall of suffering that bears the names of the innocent; but they aren't innocent themselves. Or if they are, then nothing is evil and everything and everyone is innocent.
Calling them neocons doesn't get the job done, calling them Zionists clouds the facts, so I'm not calling them anything.
But what I am saying is the so-called anti-Semitic nonsense, that keeps festering outside the public forums, has a great portion of truth in it, and not bringing it into the light of public discourse actually breeds bigotry; enough that it's cowardly to choose the comfort of leaving it alone.
The same men, the same ill spirit that engineered the invasion and occupation of Iraq and are now trying to engineer an attack on Iran are also behind Robertson's urging from the pulpit for the assassination of Hugo Chavez.
Robertson's less real, has less substance and independence even than George Bush. He's an animated figure, a hologram put forward to deliver the message of the real agents at work in this.

"The Venezuelan dictator is mentally unstable and has been under psychiatric supervision for years. He overreacts to criticism, weeps in front of others, and dreams messianic fantasies that make him especially vulnerable as well as dangerous. A psychological profile report in the New York Times showed remarkable similarities to that of Saddam Hussein. With lessons learned from the Iraq war, the U.S. can improve its psychological strategy and help the Venezuelan leader to hasten his political self-destruction."
What to Do About Venezuela
The Center for Security Policy (CSP)
Douglas Feith was a founding member of the Center for Security Policy, he also served as chairman of its board of directors.
"The Center for Security Policy was founded in 1988 and states that it operates as a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength.
A very influential organization with the Center for Security Policy is the Center's National Security Advisory Council, whose members hold senior positions with the Bush administration."
Source Watch
The number of Bush men who passed through the sphincter of the CSP is astonishing. George Bush the President, the Bush Administration, is essentially a creation of these men. It's important that Americans see through the illusion that Bush himself had much of anything to do with all this. Because he's eminently replaceable.
see: voltaire network
The intimacy shared among the men of Halliburton etc. and the men of the CSP and the men of the Bush Administration is a daisy-chain of political incest.
see: Jim Lobe/IPSnews

Remi Kanazi/

"I can't commend Israel for dismantling illegal settlements they put in place against international law, the will of the Palestinian people, and the effort to maintain peace. The settlers were well aware of what they were doing, and they were aware of the implications of their actions.

With their government, they chose to thumb their nose at the rights of an indigenous people and moved ahead anyway. This should not be viewed as Israel’s reasonable concession towards peace. This should be viewed as the first step, in a long line of necessary actions, toward justice for the Palestinian people.

The event taking place is historic. Yet, it is not disengagement. Gazan children may be able to play in the yard while husbands and wives walk the street freely, but unfortunately their freedom ends there. Israel will control Gaza's air, sea, and borders as well as the movement of Palestinians entering or leaving Gaza.

The dream of contiguous Palestinian territory is left a dream. As predicted, Gaza remains an open air prison, with the outside landscape controlled by their occupying neighbors. The illegal settlers are making their way to lush West Bank territory. Shortly after an estimated $150,000 to $400,000 per person will be doled out to each Israeli settler, with America footing the bill, of course. Unlike Palestinians, the settlers will be granted unlimited housing permits, while the world watches indifferently as Israel displaces and encroaches upon more Palestinians."


Tasers, pepper spray, retracting batons and K-9 units
Pittsburgh, PA -
Yesterday's protest marks the first time in the city's history that police used
Tasers on demonstrators. Dramatic Indymedia video shows police dragging a young
woman off the sidewalk and Tasering her mercilessly as she lay on the street
screaming - and this after she was pepper-sprayed directly in the face. The video
clearly demonstrates that she posed no threat to the police or anyone else when
she was Tasered, marking a clear violation of the city's official guidelines
for the use of these controversial weapons. The activist was taken to UPMC
Presbyterian Hospital for treatment and remains in police custody.
Police also used K-9 units to chase away protestors on the sidewalk. A 68-year
old grandmother was bitten from behind by a police dog and then arrested and
placed in an unventilated police van in the hot sun where she remained for 45
minutes before she, too, was finally taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for
In addition, police pepper sprayed a four year-old girl, toppled a man with
Multiple Sclerosis in his motorized wheel chair and clubbed a number of
protestors with retracting metal batons.
At the time of the police attacks activists were peacefully assembled on the
sidewalk in front of the recruiting station, which had opted to remain closed
for the day in response to yesterday's call for non-violent direct action

John Burns/CampusAntiwarNetwork 22.08.05
link klaus at Wealth Bondage


Douglas Feith and the occupations of Gaza and Iraq:

pleased to have this opportunity
"He's almost as anti-Arab as the fanatical anti-Semites over in the Arab camp are anti-Jewish.
Does Feith have divided loyalties? That's a common allegation leveled against those neocons and others who seem to put Israel's interests before those of the United States. It's clear, though, that Feith doesn't. His loyalty belongs to Israel and to its extremist politicians like Bibi Netanyahu, for whom he was an adviser.
Maybe the details of Feith's loyalties will emerge in the unfolding of the AIPAC spy scandal. One of Feith's direct subordinates, Larry Franklin, has already been charged with leaking U.S. secrets to Israel, and two major AIPAC officials (fired only after the scandal broke) have also been indicted.
Dick Cheney had his business reasons - you go where the oil is -for trying to take over Iraq. No one has feasted off the 9-11 tragedy like the old cold warriors Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who wound up agreeing, for different reasons, with the aims of Feith's radical wing of Zionism, which wanted to take out Saddam Hussein, the most direct threat to Israel's security."
Ward Harkavy/VillageVoice 19.08.05

Jim Lobe on Feith as the godfather of Abu Ghraib
links xymphora


Ignorance is God's gift
to science and Kansas
"Creationists mine ignorance and uncertainty, not as a spur to honest research but in order to exploit and abuse Darwin's challenge. "Bet you can't tell me how the elbow joint of the lesser spotted weasel frog evolved by slow gradual degrees?" If the scientist fails to give an immediate and comprehensive answer, a default conclusion is drawn: "Right then, the alternative theory, 'intelligent design', wins by default." Notice, first, the biased logic: if theory A fails in some particular, theory B must be right! We are encouraged to leap to the default conclusion without even looking to see whether the default theory fails in the very same particular. ID is granted (quite wrongly as I have shown elsewhere) a charmed immunity to the rigorous demands made of evolution.
Notice, second, how the creationist ploy undermines the scientist's natural - indeed necessary - rejoicing in uncertainty. Today's scientist in America dare not say:
"Hm, interesting point. I wonder how the weasel frog's ancestors did evolve their elbow joint. I'm not a specialist in weasel frogs, I'll have to go to the University Library and take a look. Might make an interesting project for a graduate student."
No, the moment a scientist said something like that - and long before the student began the project - the default conclusion would become a headline in a creationist pamphlet: "Weasel frog could only have been designed by God."
Richard Dawkins/Creation Watch (CSICOP)
You'd think biologists at least would wonder about that. Dawkins goes to the how of it - "Creationists mine order to exploit and abuse Darwin's challenge." - but not ever to the why of it. Which under the circumstances seems like it would be far more important.
Some of this has to be a locked mindset implanted in school.
"It's the wrong answer" being all you need to know about the statement or position; and in that context clinging to the wrong answer is a kind of arrogance that can only lead to failure. Unless it's a wrong answer that's part of the curriculum.
That's only true in the controlled ecosystem of academia, though. It's somewhat true in the semi-controlled ecosystem of the modern economy. But out in the long-term jungle of evolution, with its million year-long semesters, the only wrong answer is the one that doesn't work.
Pretending to be a poisonous insect, if it works, is having the right answer. Accidently looking like a poisonous insect when you aren't one, and not getting eaten because of that, is the right answer.
Yes, the sailor's knowledge, of wind and weather, knots and sails - all that is vital, essential, and even for the shipwrecked it can come in handy, but it means almost nothing in the desert or the jungle.
It's a specific circumstance that makes it valuable; yes there's crossover, but the genesis of tidepools starts with chance and fortuitous position, and there's an element of the tidepool to all this, to where we are.
Forces outside our reckoning are at play, unpredictable shifts and change that won't respond to our knowledge and mechanical applications. And there's where the explanation for the obstinate clinging to wrong answers is, I believe.
These guys know, below the conscious threshold maybe, but they see it more clearly than Dawkins does, that their survival depends on resisting the evolutionary pressure, the genetic competition for place, that is "over there" - not specifically at any one locus, but behind and around and all through the loose crowd Dawkins in this essay represents. No room for ignorance and superstition in the brave new world, okay, but also no room for lots of other things there as well. Not all of those things are identifiable, but it stands to reason that the particulars would be clearer to those who feel most threatened by them.
These are genetic paths, wide open now, but at some point they'll close down all other possibilities - that's how it works. There won't be room for "creationists" and "Darwinists" on the same boat. It's a struggle for survival, and logic has only a tangential relationship to survival. It's an aid not a guarantee; the fossil record is packed with well-engineered well-adapted successes that flourished for millions of years, then vanished overnight.
Being wrong about where you are, about the nature of it, about how you got there, about the possibilities it contains, being wrong about everything about where you are, but being there at the right time and in the right way, evolutionarily speaking, is a greater asset for the survival of your genes than having a clear sense of where you should be, but not being there.
That's the contest. That's what's driving the argument. It's closer to Cain and Abel than it is Galileo and Pope Paul V.
The institutionalized dogma of religion is held up to the withering glare of scientific analysis and shown to be fairly silly. Though you could go back a few hundred years and find laughable ideas saturating the mainstream of what passed for scientific thought; and you could go back thousands of years and find the introduction of the infinite into the cultural mind of people whose daily lives presented them with at least as many temptations toward the selfish and mean as these times do. Recognition of the infinite and the plausibility of a greater consciousness than our own are unnecessary to the functioning of machines, but they're going to make all the difference imaginable at some crucial moment up ahead, when the idea of that possibility will mean an openness to its reality, but only if the idea's there.
That's the labor of religion. To get that idea across and keep it there. The trope of beleaguered science struggling against the dark of the unknown as well as the dark of ignorance and superstition is only accurate as a description of science's difficulties; the difficulties of being human are greater and more complex than that - resisting being turned into a hive of insects, resisting being enslaved by more powerful inhuman creatures, resisting becoming inhuman, maintaining the dynamic flow of what we were and are, bringing to fruition something that was in us as seed from the beginning.
Science helps, religion helps, there's nothing inherently wrong with either one. At the healthiest cultural moments in our shared past they were one thing, together.
This contest isn't about science and religion, it isn't about ideas, it's about specific sets of genes and forms of being human competing with each other for position, and posterity.


A Modest Refusal

It's important to keep things as polarized as we can get them. That way any truth that gets past the censors and the self-censoring will get lost in the noise of animal hatred. And that's vital, all that hatred. We need that hatred to detonate the bomb.
So Cindy Sheehan's both helping and hurting. By getting out front the way she did, and then beating two retreats in one, she's helped strengthen the flagging bigots on the right wing side; but by bringing the iceberg to Texas she's caused people whose minds were made up to rethink their positions some, some of them a lot. By insisting on a hearing she gained a lot of the oooh and ahhh sympathy of folks who are infantilized beyond rational thought, and at least a grudging nod from the calloused and skeptical.
A mom, with a slain son, talking tough and getting right up in the President's face - in a media-event sort of way. People think the President talks to them when he addresses the nation, and he sort of does, but he's also very distant from the common run of Americans; he lives inside a space that's made out of artificial material, fictional material, a virtual place inside a virtual architecture.
And in a real way, Cindy Sheehan went in there after him. And he just ran off into another part of the building and closed his eyes and waited for her to leave.
But then that letter shows up.
So then the real world has to be backfired, and that's used up a lot of hatred. Hatred we're going to need pretty soon.
The heroic villains were actually worried the first part of the week, you could feel it in the air, you could smell it - the truth was leaking onto the stage. But now it's okay again.
She's gone, even if she comes back, and she lied about what happened.
I can't prove that of course, but I'm pretty sure Tony Tersch isn't lying when he says he didn't doctor the email she sent him, and she says the email he got was doctored.
That's pretty much a binary and it will either get consumed in the premature heat it's generated or it will divide things up in a new and interesting way. But we may not have time for interesting things. It's late, and it's getting later.
That heat is premature because we don't want things getting too hot and too out in the open until it's too late, absolutely too late - so that when the time comes people will be desperate and terrified and ready for any kind of comfort they can find.
Getting the truth, or what little of it can be contained in language and metaphor, simple enough for most Americans to understand and out in the open air - now, while it's still possible to avoid the irrevocable - makes it too likely someone will find a way to smooth things over, and then where will we be?
Having to reconstruct some kind of functioning human society out of the wreckage of this one would be so much work! It's so much easier to just blow everything up and forget about it.
So Sheehan saying she never said that her son died for Israel is good, because it fills the Zionists with confidence, and we need them to have that confidence, we need them to keep driving, full speed ahead.
But on the other hand she did get it out there. People did have to think about it. And there is quite a bit of non-bigoted confirmation for the idea that Israel and its drones were behind the planning for and execution of the invasion and occupation, and are now actively assembling the tools and weaponry for an assault on Iran as well, though there's much less evidence for the Iran part.
Still, a little basic logical connecting and it falls into place pretty clearly.
It helps that most Americans can't find either Israel or Iraq or Iran on a map, so the idea that Iran and Iraq are obvious major threats to Israel will seem murky and debatable - but clearly-marked maps are getting too easy to find.

So that endangers the plan. It's possible someone might figure out a way to hit the brakes before the center of gravity is all the way through the guardrail.
We are headed exactly there, but at this point only the front wheels are airborne. Miracles do happen, unlikely events can occur and will then appear miraculous, saviors do appear, people do get rescued, the day does get saved.
So we need to encourage those stalwart workers in the cess-filled trenches; they've been shown they aren't perfect, their prophets are marginal, their dreams as flimsy as anyone elses are, the key to the worlds between worlds may not work this time. They're nervous. We need to help them with those doubts, because they're vital parts of this exercise in annihilation.
So a few of the widely available confirmations that whoever said that, about the assault and invasion of Iraq being a Jewish plot to benefit Israel, wasn't completely loopy, are presented here - that they may be subject to the same clamorous scorn and bile.
In the hopes that they can then be dealt with as swiftly and concisely as Sheehan's now-unauthored assertion was, and we can get back to preparing for the end of human life on earth.
"General Anthony Zinni, ret., a past chief of the U.S. Central Command and President Bush's former Middle East special envoy, told "60 Minutes" on Sunday that the neoconservatives' role in pushing the war for Israel's benefit was "the worst-kept secret in Washington." Three days earlier, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a South Carolina Democrat, rose on the Senate floor to defend a newspaper essay he had written earlier in the month making the same charge. Both men complained that they had been unfairly labeled antisemitic for speaking out."
The Forward "a legendary name in American journalism and a revered institution in American Jewish life" 28.May.04
"Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 - it's the threat against Israel," Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11 and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

"And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell," said Zelikow.

Philip Zelikow - member President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board 2001-2003; executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission
speaking at the University of Virginia 10.Sep.02
IPS-Inter Press Service 29.Mar.04

all Opels in Iraq are grey

"...we called him Mohammed the wolf, haha, and that was his nick name for the rest of the time, till I left, and God knows what will happen to him. All what it takes to put someone in jail is to call anonymously and claim that he is a terrorist, and that's it, he will be tortured and put in jail for 45 days, so you, "the secret informer" can chose to come to the court during this period and swear that he is a terrorist, if so, that's it, he will be legally accused of terrorism and might spend the rest of his life in jail, or he maybe executed, or maybe set free, its totally up to the judge to decide that, or maybe its up to the CIA, which I knew later that they occupy the floor that was above us in the building, where the orders come from."

Khalid Jarrar/Tell Me A Secret 30.Jul.05


As Israel's disengagement from Gaza enters Day 2, we go to Gaza City to speak with leading Israeli journalist Amira Hass. A majority of the Jewish settlers have accepted a compensation package - in between $150,000 to $400,000 - from the Israeli government in return for leaving Gaza. Hass reports that the thousands of Palestinians working for the settlers are receiving nothing.
Pacifica Radio
Greens noted that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, while promoting the disengagement plan, has internally indicated that withdrawal from Gaza is key to consolidating Israel's dominance in the largely Palestinian-Israeli area of the Galilee (Jaleel), Negev (Naqub), and in Greater Jerusalem, the large settlement blocs and 'security zones.'
Israel has requested 2.2 billion dollars in a direct grant from the U.S., to cover not only the costs of dismantling the few illegal settlements in Gaza but also for funds to 'develop,' i.e., 'Judaize' areas in Israel where most Palestinian-Israelis now live, including many of the 500+ destroyed villages to which Palestinian refugees would return.
"In return for removing a tiny percentage of the over 400,000 settlers who are still living on confiscated Palestinian land, Israel expects American taxpayers to foot the bill and create more obstacles to real peace," said Jake Schneider, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States. "This misguided U.S. policy only decreases the security of Americans as well as Israelis and Palestinians."
Greens cited warnings from some Jewish-Israeli peace activists, including Professors Ilan Pappe, Uri Davis, and Tamar Yaron, that the disengagement scenario may result in harm to Palestinian civilians as Israeli officials respond to what they regard as provocations by Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza.
US Green Party
Life in Gaza


"Part of the dissatisfaction stems from the campsite becoming a magnet for other causes, such as anti-nuclear and anti-trade activists and efforts to promote recycling."

It's unquestioned that increasing knowledge is always a good thing, that the more accurate our collective view of where and what we are becomes, the better off we are. But this is entirely a matter of faith. Not only is the quality of being better off open to some dispute, but the forward movement of what we are is no more guaranteed by accumulating knowledge than the survival of an individual is guaranteed by the accumulation of wealth. It increases the likelihood, betters the odds, generally - but not always.
There's no guarantee whatsoever that knowing everything we can about life and ourselves will give us an advantage for surivival against unseen and unforeseen danger. We believe that it will. It makes sense that it would. It has so far, mostly, for some of us, who by virtue of having survived, become most of us.
Just as knowing where all the objects in a room are makes it easier to navigate through that room, and to find the objects we want or need etc. But it's not guaranteed, nothing is guaranteed. It's a matter of faith. The sight of a 12 foot snake in the room might well impede many with a paralysis of fear, where not having seen it might allow them to pass through the room unscathed.
It can be shown conclusively that belief in something, a comforting belief that confers a sense of personal security, will improve the chances of success for someone in a difficult situation. So that the truth of the belief, in that moment, is less important than the strength of it and the strength it bolsters.
The unshakable confidence that permeates the stance of logical positivism and its heirs against the increasingly hesitant voice of intellectual religious faith and its idiot sibling fundamentalism makes it seem invincible, but it isn't, nothing human is.
All it will take is one step too far toward the opening of some unrecognized Pandora's box and there will be no argument again.
Faith in science has its rational foundation, but it's no more universal and absolute than the closed tautologies of religious faith in the long run.
It is a good idea to know about things, but the idea that only those things which can be demonstrated can be known with certainty, and are therefore the only things that must be taken seriously, is specious and hubristic.


Evolution is fine in its place but...

It's important to remember that there are more than two choices available on the subject of how we got here; and where "here" is, come to that.
And that all those choices lead in different directions, eventually, no matter how parallel or non-exclusive they seem.
The bomb-proof proofs of evolution refute the assertions of what looks like magical-thinking on the part of the "creationists", but a closer examination will show there's no loyalty whatsoever to the evolutionary process now on the part of the defenders of logic and right thinking. They're adamant that evolution happened, but they're equally adamant that it must not be allowed to continue, unregulated, though they will admit that unregulated evolution is how we gained the qualities and strengths that allowed us to rise to our current position of dominance in the world. Shaky as it is.
The other side seems to be defending a literal reading of Scripture - this is the only substantive cause anyone points to for their insistence on what virtually all scientists agree is nonsense - a denial of the fossil record and the observable fact of evolution we can see at work in the world around us. But it's likely there's a deeper cause than that, considering the literalists don't appear to be advocating stoning as a form of punishment, or forcing brothers to marry their widowed sisters-in-law; it's likely what motivates them is something more closely related to their own estimated chances for survival.
One possibility is that Christianity itself has evolved, from an underground band of criminalized renegades to a massive, and massively wealthy institution with a tremendous influence on the daily lives of billions of people, believers or not.
A recognition of evolution as something that's caused change in the human species would lead pretty directly to a recognition that the institutions that govern our lives were performing and maintaining actions and conditions that caused, and continue to cause those changes. Especially when they so fully encompass the environment.
That humanity takes more control over its own evolution the more control it takes over its environment.
Science doesn't articulate that aspect of evolution, even as it champions the theory itself against the superstition and fantasy of religion.
They're both united in avoidance; one ignoring the centrality of human direction on current human evolutionary process - the other running from the idea wholesale, and the corollary of the idea, that Christianity itself, as an institution regardless of its changing doctrines, has been responsible for a great deal of the hidden, or unrecognized, evolutionary pressures that have altered the human shape these last millennia.
The unspoken and unquestioned assumption is that human stuff is immutable, that our DNA is somehow fixed as it is, while all other species are in constant flux; our cultures may evolve, and our tools and understanding of the world advance, but what we are doesn't ever change, and certainly never gets changed. Isn't being changed right now just like and in the same slow way as Darwin's finches on the Galapagos Islands.
We have big brains and powerful immune systems, a need and an aptitude for complex social cohesion, and an ability to respond and adapt to sudden profound alterations in the environment - some of us even have a genetic predisposition to seek that sudden change for thrill; we got those qualities through the standard evolutionary means - mutation, selection, and reproduction.
Now mutation is frowned upon and medically attacked whenever it shows up; selection, because it has a large component of death to it and death, or de-selection is now the enemy, is resisted in all forms but the economic; reproduction is tightly scripted and subject to intense social control.
The Darwinian sexual attractiveness of successful mutation is not allowed to express itself in the next generation as rapidly and openly as it would if the prohibition and criminalizing of sexual activity outside the approved and regulated form wasn't strictly enforced.
Believing in evolution in this instance means believing that it happened, not that it should happen.
And that's where the two sides in this pseudo-debate are in complete agreement. Evolution should be allowed to happen to us only by our expressed permission.
De-selection, or death, is an important, an essential component of the evolutionary process as well, and the greatest de-selector of human beings under 30 years of age in the US right now is the automobile accident.
Is there an evolutionary principle involved there?
What would it be?
What qualities are being selected for?
And what qualities are being de-selected?
The greatest evolutionary pressure on modern American children is anti-Darwinian, random predation, and it's coming from within the human construct, from inside an artificial environment that's almost entirely under human control.
A mountain lion kills a child in the hills of Los Angeles and the nation is shocked and horrified. Thousands of children die every year in the violence of car-wrecks and the news is brushed aside.
Darwinian in this context being the expression of viability in organisms within the balance and harmonic flux of essentially stable systems. Even the great slams of punctuated equilibrium having that tonality of seed and soil and flower in the midst of disruption. The growth from within a greater, living reality.
Because you can make a case for anything being Darwinian, and you can make a case for a planet void of life being a Darwinian result no different, no better or worse than a planet of moss, or apes, or cities of birds.
I think Charles Darwin would agree that there is something central to life that isn't of the void, and I think he'd also agree that harnessing evolutionary processes to abet your own survival at the expense of the species you were nominally a member of is a kind of cannibalism, a place where the road forks - the beginning of a species splitting into something else and something else.
The mystery of the Neanderthal has Cain and Abel written all over it.
I think that's where we are right now.
And I think these false polarities are dividing and weakening people who need each other, to defend themselves against an as-yet unseen enemy who will use them and discard them with less concern for their fate than we have now for the dodo's or the great auk's.

"It wouldn't be called 'Sweet Neo Con' if it was..." (QuickTime)


Corruption and scandal:

The official who ran the scandal-plagued United Nations aid program for Iraq took $147,184 from an oil trading company for helping the business get contracts to buy Iraqi oil, according to an inquiry led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker.
The 88-page report released today in New York said Benon Sevan, former head of the oil-for-food program, "derived personal pecuniary benefit from the program through cash receipts from the sale of oil allocated by Iraq to Mr. Sevan and bought by African Middle East Petroleum Co. Ltd." The report said he "had knowledge that some of the oil was purchased by paying illegal surcharges to Iraq in violation of United Nations sanctions."
New information obtained by the panel "raises further questions" about whether Secretary-General Kofi Annan knew that Cotecna SA, a Geneva-based goods inspection company, was bidding for a program contract at a time in 1998 when his son, Kojo, was working for the firm, the report also said. Annan has denied knowing about Cotecna's efforts to obtain the contract, and the Volcker report said that line of inquiry is continuing.
Mismanagement and possible corruption in the Iraq program is forcing an overhaul of UN procedures and accountability. U.S. Republican lawmakers have threatened cuts in American financial support for the world body unless changes are made.
Volcker on Feb. 3 said Sevan, 67, created a "grave" conflict of interest by soliciting oil purchases on behalf of African Middle East Petroleum, conduct that was "ethically improper and seriously undermined the integrity of the United Nations." The report, while saying Sevan couldn't reasonably account for $160,000 of income at that time, didn't say he accepted money from the company.
Iraq sold 7.3 million barrels of oil between 1998 and 2001 to the company, which then resold the oil for a profit of $1.5 million, according to the Volcker investigation.
Bloomberg 08.08.05
Corruption and no scandal:

In one case, Greenhouse criticized the Army Corps for hiring KBR [Kellog Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co.] in 2002 to draft "contingency plans" for repairing Iraq's oil infrastructure. The Corps has no experience in repairing oil infrastructure, she said, and oil work is outside the scope of the Corps' congressionally-mandated mission. More importantly, by drafting the contingency plans for Iraq's oil, KBR essentially wrote the Iraqi oil infrastructure contract and decided for itself what costs would be considered "reasonable" by the Army. Normally, when a private company is hired to write a contract for the military, the company is forbidden from bidding on the contract. But, in the cozy world of KBR and the Pentagon, not only did KBR write its own $7 billion Iraqi oil infrastructure contract and determine the definition of "reasonable cost," the Army awarded the contract to KBR without competition.
Halliburton Watch 29.06.05
The U.S. Army on Tuesday awarded Halliburton a troop logistics contract for the Balkans despite an ongoing federal criminal probe into the legality of the company's existing Balkans contracts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a probe last year into allegations by Bunnatine Greenhouse, a senior contracting specialist with the Army, who said Halliburton's troop logistics work in the Balkans was "out of control." The Army opened an investigation into her allegations last year.
Halliburton's KBR subsidiary, also known as Kellogg Brown & Root, is responsible for carrying out the Army's troop logistics work in the Balkans and elsewhere.
The nonpartisan auditing arm of Congress found in 1997 that KBR billed the Army for questionable expenses for work in the Balkans, including charges of $85.98 per sheet of plywood that cost $14.06. A follow-up report in 2000 found more inflated costs, including charges for cleaning offices up to four times a day.
ibid. 21.06.05
The alleged bribes were paid by a consortium of four companies, which includes Halliburton's KBR subsidiary, to officials of the Nigerian government for the purpose of winning a multibillion dollar construction contract. The consortium, known as "TSKJ," ultimately won the contract.
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was Halliburton's CEO when many of the alleged bribes were paid. He currently has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Bribing foreign officials is a criminal offense under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
ibid. 20.06.05
Halliburton announced on Friday that its KBR division, responsible for carrying out Pentagon contracts, experienced a 284 percent increase in operating profits during the second quarter of this year.
The increase in profits was primarily due to the Pentagon's payment of "award fees" for what military officials call "good" or "very good" work done by KBR in the Middle East for America's taxpayers and the troops.
Despite the scandals that plague KBR's military contracts, the Pentagon awarded $70 million in "award" fees to the company, along with four ratings of "excellent" and two ratings of "very good" for the troop logistics work under the Army's LOGCAP contract.
The Pentagon has provided preferential treatment to Halliburton on a number of occasions, including the concealment from the public of critical reports by military auditors.
ibid. 25.07.05
Linda Theis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Ill., said the military signed the work order with Halliburton unit KBR in May.
The new deal, worth $4.97 billion over the next year, was not made public when it was signed because the Army did not consider it necessary, she said.
"We did not announce this task order as this is really not something we ever really thought about doing," Theis said.
Halliburton, run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000, has been under scrutiny for its contracts in Iraq, and several U.S. government agencies are looking into whether it overcharged for some work.
In March, a former KBR employee and a Kuwaiti citizen were indicted on charges of defrauding the U.S. government of more than $3.5 million by inflating the cost of fuel tankers.
A top U.S. Army procurement official said last week that Halliburton's deals in Iraq were the worst example of contract abuse she had seen...
LATimes/FacingSouth 08.07.05


Kenneth Timmerman was on CSPAN-2 just now [Sunday, 07.08.05] hyping his new book, but mainly trying to make the case for a dangerous Iranian nuclear build-up intensity, himself stoking the fires of Apocalypse while wearing a relatively dapper cream-colored suit:


On March 23, 1998, System Planning Corporation hosted a roundtable discussion on Iran and Iraq for the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States. SPC assembled four prominent experts on Iraqi and Iranian ballistic missile capabilities in an unclassified forum:
Michael Eisenstadt, Kenneth Katzman, Kenneth Timmerman, and Seth Carus.

Timmerman presented the most adamant conclusions to the Commission. He asserted that West has continuously underestimated Iraq's technical skills, scientific achievements, and willingness to re-acquire a long range ballistic missile capability. He asserted that Iraq employs tens of thousands of Western trained engineers who continue to work on developing new weapons. Timmerman also asserted that Iraq can develop an IRBM without testing it as they have the manpower, skills and make-do with what they have.
Appendix III: Unclassified Working Papers
Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman
Timmerman on the anti-Semitic nature of the UN:
The NGO statement in Durban [UN World Conference against Racism 31 August to 7 September, 2001] went even further, calling for the convening of an international war-crimes tribunal to try Israel for alleged crimes against the Palestinian people. And while Mary Robinson condemned it, she ultimately couldn't prevent it from being adopted at the NGO forum.
"It is perhaps the most horrific document ever presented and finalized under the overall tent of the United Nations," Rabbi Cooper told reporters in Durban on Septrmber 1.
Until the American delegation walked out with the Israelis, U.S. diplomats worked with a handful of Europeans behind the scenes to eliminate some of the worst excesses from the conference documents, which the Americans feared could lay the legal groundwork for a war crimes tribunal against Israel and possibly the United States. Those were legitimate fears. But Shimon Samuels saw a far deeper harm in the works at Durban: the banalization of intolerance and hate. "Durban set a new baseline for institutionalized anti-Semitism at the U.N.," he said.
Alan Baker is a human-rights lawyer who served as a legal adviser to the Israeli negotiating team in Durban. He expressed concern that the NGO document "calls upon the U.N. to create educational packets for schools and universities explaining the "racist" nature of Israel, and how it is 'an apartheid state.'"
WorldNet 12.11.03
Lopez: What do you mean when you say that "It begins with the Jews, but it never ends with the Jews."
Jews have always been the targets of opportunity for haters of this world. But since 1979, we've seen the basic antisemitic beliefs morph into an ideology that goes beyond religious hate. Increasingly, radical Islam and the institutional Left, especially in Europe, find themselves on the same side in hating Jews, rejecting Israel's right to exist, and demanding an end to America's "hegemony." For the haters, Jews and America are one and the same. They hate us for our freedom, for our secular societies, for our tolerance. That is the great Jewish world conspiracy, and it is something Jews have shared with America. It is a conspiracy of freedom.
Q&A with journalist Kenneth Timmerman
Kathryn Jean Lopez/National Review Online 21.11.03
Timmerman on the anti-Semitic and pusillanimous French:
Two nights later, my wife and I were having a splendid dinner in a 15th-century castle on the outskirts of Avallon, a small but beautifully preserved city at the northern gates of the Burgundy wine country.
Among our table-mates in the giant stone kitchen was a sophisticated and agreeable French couple. The man had traveled the world on business, and had set up companies in the United States and in the Arab world. His views - all so reasonable, all so normal and matter of fact - give a better idea of why I believe France is becoming the enemy of freedom.
Saddam was a secular leader, he argued. If the United States had wanted to attack Islamic fundamentalism after 9/11, it should have hit Saudi Arabia.
The United States didn't go to Iraq to find WMD, but to gain control of Iraq's oil and win contracts for Halliburton.
France will never be a target of terrorists, because France is not their enemy.
And anyway, the core of the Middle East problem [is] not radical Islam, but Israel. If there were no Israel, everything would return to normal.
When it comes to military power, France doesn't count for much these days. But they do still have a veto at the U.N., where Mr. Chirac rallied a coalition of the coerced and the bribed (literally) with the aim of defeating us and preserving Saddam. Added to that is a formidable diplomatic and propaganda machine, which is working intensely to undermine U.S. interests around the world. Radio France International broadcasts anti-American venom throughout the Arab and Muslim world, and ranks along with al Jazeera in its incitement of hatred and delegitimizing of the state of Israel.
To help those French patriots who believe their country still treasures the values of liberty, free speech, and representative government, we should consider launching a French language service of Radio Free Europe. Six years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the French have erected a new wall of propaganda and anti-American filth. The next American president should help tear it down.
National Review Online 01.11.04
We have a regime that, any second now, might have a capability to launch a WMD attack or to give WMDs to a bin Laden or to an al Zarqawi. How legitimate is a U.S. military strike sooner than later? And if we strike, what are the benefits and what are the costs?
Mr. Timmerman?

Timmerman: As in Iraq, a military strike against Iran is what happens when all other options have been exhausted. With Iraq, we had 12 years of defiance of a relatively strict regime of sanctions set up by 17 UN Security Council resolutions. So far, Iran's equally egregious defiance of the IAEA inspection process has not been referred to the UNSC. In my book, that is the very first step the U.S. must take. And it is a step which John Bolton and others in the administration have been arguing we must take for some time.
FrontPageMagazine/Committee on the Present Danger 29.07.05

"Just as the Reagan administration rolled back Communist tyranny, today we can roll back the tyranny of radical Islam and the terrorist regimes it has spawned. But the first battle will be here at home, where we must defeat the blame-America-first pundits of political correction."

Kenneth R. Timmerman

"Only when the Islamist ideological roots of the current war are acknowledged can we successfully wage and win the war."
Daniel Pipes
Committee on Present Danger

The lie Pipes tells here is a truth with only a slight alteration.
We can say, with Pipes, that the ideological roots of the current war must be acknowledged; we can say that not until then will the war be successfully waged and won. We just can't put all the blame on Islam, or Islamism, or Islamists.
And we can say, with Timmerman, that the first battle of that war will be at home. It's here, now. We just can't pretend to each other that the blame should be placed on "the blame-America-first pundits".
I'm certainly not advocating that, and to step inside the funhouse mirror of Timmerman's awkward prose again - I'm not in anyway "blaming America first".
I'm saying as clearly as I can that America, the common people of the United States at least, have been lied to and frightened intentionally, have been led like domestic animals through a series of gates and fences to a holding-paddock where their energy, political and material, has been bled away in small unnoticable amounts. The tragedy of that misuse is made more piercing because the overall weight and power of that energy, when the process began, was profound and never before seen in the human world.
And I'm saying that men like Pipes and Timmerman are responsible for those lies and that intentionally-created fear, in order to be able to use that energy to wage an unwinnable war that has nothing to do with, and is in direct opposition to, the well-being of America and its people; and that they are now leading us directly toward nuclear conflict in the Middle-East.
More lies will only feed that fire.


the 'willing participation of subjects'

"When we replace the panoptic apparatus of the prison with a more plausible scenario of say the surveillance of urban streets through the use of CCTV cameras (Koskela 2003) the agency of those under surveillance is no less important and indeed becomes even more of a mitigating factor. The population of most urban streets is much more diverse than that imagined by the Panopticon. Their background knowledge varies along with their understanding of what counts as conformity and what is a recognizable sign of the supervisors' presence. It follows also that the more citizens know about where the cameras are and what counts as appropriate behavioral norms the more they would be able to feign conformity in the camera's field of vision. Indeed, we can even anticipate following Erving Goffman's discussions of the con artist, that no one would know more about the situation than the individual bent on some kind of transgression. Perhaps even more pertinent to the post-9/11 security situation is that the individuals one hopes to detect are the very individuals that have the best chance of evading detection, especially given more and more automated surveillance systems incorporating fewer and fewer human supervisors. Again, I wish to stress the doublesided nature of stories of surveillance as subjection. The more one knows about how one is supposed to behave the more one is able to conform, but by the same token one is also more able to feign conformity."
The Return of Panopticism [PDF]
Supervision, Subjection and the New Surveillance
Bart Simon
link ::: wood s lot :::


The main western Atlantic population of red knots plunged
by nearly 50 percent in the past year

photo: Arthur Morris

This shorebird travels from its wintering grounds on the southern tip of Patagonia in Tierra del Fuego, Chile, to its breeding destination in the high Arctic of Canada. After laying eggs and rearing young, red knots head south to complete an annual round trip estimated at 20,000 miles. The success of their journey depends critically on one food resource: horseshoe crab eggs in the Delaware Bay.

They come to feed on the eggs of horseshoe crabs that spawn on the beaches at the same time of year, a reliance that goes back millions of years. It is one of nature's great migration spectacles. The birds need the crab eggs to sustain them through the remaining leg of their long migration north, some 4,000 miles. But because of overharvesting of the crabs for use as bait in conch and eel pots, there are insufficient eggs and the birds are suffering. Research to develop artificial bait will likely soon yield results, but in the meantime the harvest continues.

American Bird Conservancy

red knots at Defenders of Wildlife


Eternal life as an industrial by-product:

Eternal life as an industrial by-product:

Snuppy joins a host of other cloned animals including Dolly the sheep, CC the cat and Ralph the rat.
Scientists hope dog clones will help them understand and treat a range of serious human diseases.
BBC News/Science 03.08.05
"Scientists hope". It's like a club, a grass-roots get-together, these guys have a meeting pool their money buy some equipment and head out to the unknown territory, hoping to find a cure.
That the same keys and locks will eventually reveal the path to prolonged, and then permanent physical existence - well, that's nothing compared to healing the sick. Healing the sick's what we're all about around here - yes we are, we really, really are.
Forget about the heartless economic regulations that the pharmcos are responsible for, the hidden side-effects left out of the FDA reports, the profit-above-healing moral code they enforce, forget about what corporate health-care has done to the treatment of the elderly in the US - it's all and only about "treating disease". Curing disease curing disease curing disease curing disease.
Not immortality. And especially not a Satanic inversion of true immortality, gained through inhuman treachery and anti-life predation.


Juan Cole provides some background to the War on Terror Struggle Against Extremism


"Forget what the Supreme Court thinks about teaching creationism in the schools: Think about what it will contribute to the spiraling disasters of globalization by dismantling the entire economic regulatory system built up over the past 100 years. As Greider notes, "Washington defines 'national interest' primarily in terms of advancing the global reach of our multinational enterprises." Problem is, our multinational corporations increasingly work against the interests of Americans themselves. In addition to outsourcing jobs, the companies locate sham headquarters in off-shore tax havens to avoid paying taxes. The only restraints we have ever had on multinational corporations are government regulation and the right to sue the bastards for the various kinds of harm they cause. It is precisely those two forms of control that are being not just undermined but tossed out entirely by an increasingly activist right-wing judiciary."

Molly Ivins/AlterNet 22.07.05
link Troubletown
The smokescreen of creationism and simple moral contrasts is used to get the tremendous power of the American people donated, freely, without any regard for how it's used - as long as the illusion of powerful fatherly strength is maintained.
It's not a paternal figure that's getting it though, more like a bunch of thuggish teenage hoodlums in a stolen car, hopped-up on bad drugs and vicious with frustration at the dimly-recognized limits of their squalid lives.
A lot of folks that have been through these kinds of nightmare scenarios will say that once it started it seemed to have a momentum of its own, outside the radii of choice of the participants, however gleeful they might have seemed to continue.
Combustion, oxidization, catalyst and reaction, the multinationals are like the imagined Singularity - artificial intelligence programmed into the machines, waking up to itself and to its own new place in the world.
They don't have any allegiance to anything human, but they do have the capacity to reward treachery - in unimaginable volumes of immediate gratification.
They have their own gravity.
So Christianity gets perverted into an anthem and a flag with no country at all behind it, and over time the chosen stock will realize their only hope is in cooperation and obedience. Scientific truth is meaningless to cows in the field, to sheep in the fold - what matters is survival, and the survival of domesticated animals depends on things they can't see clearly.
So get them excited about "creationism" and align your emissaries with the vague and easy code of biblical commandments, while you exercise your will in a way that is exactly diametrically precisely opposite any remnant we have of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
No mercy, no compassion, no forgiveness - no raising up of the fallen, no "love one another" beyond the same-thinking others in the congregation, nothing outside the written law they'll have to do.
Selfishness is all that matters now. Selfishness will gain them heaven, if they just do what they're told.

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