...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



"I guess it's fair to say that we weren't believed by everyone at first"

"...different possibilities. One is that the universe we live in is the Planck brane, which localizes the graviton.
Another is that we live on a second brane, which is the case where we discussed the hierarchy problem.
We generally assume that we live on a brane, but it may not be the brane on which gravity is concentrated. Suppose that gravity is highly concentrated near what I'll call the Planck brane. So gravity is concentrated on one brane, the Planck brane, and we live on a second brane, not precisely on top of the first brane but a little apart. Gravity on our second brane would appear to be weak. And that's precisely what we wanted to explain: why gravity appears to be so weak.
That's the hierarchy problem - why gravity is so weak. And this follows from the key insight that we don't actually have to talk about how to get a huge mass scale; we can talk about why gravity is so weak."

So why has this paper generated so much interest and so many citations?

"Well, it went in the face of what everyone who has studied gravity has believed.
We always thought if we have extra dimensions, we had to do what's called compactifying them, which is to say they curl up so that they can't be seen from our point of view.
If you look at distance scales larger than the size of this curled-up dimension, the physics would reduce to being four-dimensional again. In the standard "conventional" scenario, if you have extra dimensions, they are curled up very small.
The reasoning is as follows: if you probe distance scales smaller than the extra dimension, you would see higher dimensional physics, for example, one over r-cubed as the gravitational force scale. However, if you look at distance scales bigger than these extra dimensions, it would look like four-dimensional physics.
You can understand it in a very intuitive way: if you look at a garden hose, for instance, far away it looks like a one-dimensional line. Only up close do you realize it's actually a cylinder. So if you look from far enough away - that is, only look on large distance scales - you wouldn't know these other dimensions were there.
So we've known this compactification could work. You could have the extra dimensions of string theory, but you curl them up and you wouldn't see them.
It wasn't thought to be possible to have a theory with extra dimensions that wouldn't compactify and still have the physics reduce to four-dimensional physics here.
So our theory, that you could have an infinite extra dimension that wasn't compactified, was a radical departure from conventional wisdom."
Lisa Randall/ESI Special Topics Interview June.02
An infinite number of infinite "extra dimensions".
And the one we're in is infinite.
And there's something out "there" already besides just inanimate stuff. More than one something.
The surge of Western Man across the chilly gray Atlantic, and the consequent explosions of bounty and profit in the various local European economies that got hold of enough ships to carry it home and all that grew out of that was made possible by an attitude of virginal nature being found - discovered - and made proprietary - conquered - by the relatively mighty finders.
There was very little energy expended on conversing with what was already here - some trivial attempts at sizing up the local humans, but none at all concerned with the big green face of the land as it was discovered. And it was oh so green back then.
Speaking to, and listening to, the wilderness was insane, diabolical, pagan. An absurdity, talking to trees and birds and such things. Ridiculous.
And the observable fact of many of the indigenous doing that very thing, believing that they did it anyway, made them that much more liable to conquest and enslavement and dispossession. They were heathens
And it is this attitude, stripped of its immediate dogma and ritual, that is brought to the confrontation with the inevitable and undeniable fact of the infinite all around us.
So we get stuck there.
The jots-and-tittles crowd want rules to emerge, so they can be worked around. Thus the mistake of European colonialism would be violating the rule that it's wrong to steal from natives, or that it's wrong to make slaves out of simpler more primitive people, or that cutting down all the trees and ruining the rivers is bad - the list could be quite long and still fairly accurate but the real mistake came right at the beginning - it's the attitude going in, the lack of prayer, the absence of humility.


executed by vengeful countrymen:

As speculation swirled about the timing of the execution, Iraq's Justice Ministry denied a comment from a defence lawyer that it had taken custody of Saddam from the US military.
"It's none of the Americans' business to decide when," a senior Justice Ministry official said, dismissing a suggestion from a senior US official that Saddam could hang as early as Saturday.
He also said there would be no execution before January 26, 30 days after the sentence was upheld. But ministers say there are conflicting views in the cabinet over that timing...

The close of the final chapter on the brutal reign of Saddam Hussein drew ever closer
executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality
The dramatic, violent end for the strongman who ruled Iraq by fear for three decades
Saddam Hussein, the dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles
Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war
Clutching a Quran, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise Saturday, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran
Saddam Hussein was hanged at dawn on Saturday, a dramatic end for a leader who ruled Iraq by fear for three decades before a United States invasion toppled him and was then convicted of crimes against humanity.
riverbend, Baghdad Burning:
Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.

This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs (never mind most of his government were Shia). The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is "Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We're hanging him- he symbolizes you." And make no mistake about it, this trial and verdict and execution are 100% American. Some of the actors were Iraqi enough, but the production, direction and montage was pure Hollywood (though low-budget, if you ask me).

That is, of course, why Talbani doesn't want to sign his death penalty- not because the mob man suddenly grew a conscience, but because he doesn't want to be the one who does the hanging- he won't be able to travel far away enough if he does that.
The sound would suddenly disappear...
To suggest that the execution of Saddam Hussein was an expression of the will of the Iraqi people is a very bizarre thing indeed.
You'd have to have some way to get the will of the people linked up and expressed wouldn't you? In Iraq? Now? How would you do it?
Polls? Who's going to go around the country doing that? Electronic at-home voting? You need electricity for that.
People are hiding, forced back into tribal and family groups for comfort and protection. Iraq society doesn't exist. This was not the will of the Iraqi people. This was something else.
Saddam was killed by order of the same invisible hand that drew American troops and trillions of American dollars into the deserts of Eden.
Saddam may have been an evil man, I don't know, but it's not possible for the Iraqi people to have tried and executed him. You need a functioning democracy for that.

South Africa
South and Central America
Viet Nam
as noted below, Cuba
but never here at home.
It's this strange self-enforced taboo, you can't get the otherwise open-minded to even consider it out loud. All these provable nasty campaigns against threats to American interests in little hell-holes all across the globe and even then there were 200 million people in the US and you have to figure it wasn't just the handful of radicals congregated in trips like Weather Underground and the White Panthers and the SLA.
Whispers sure, rumors yeah, lots of static out at the margins, but nothing inside, nothing where it might really have some effect. It's as though the USA was incapable of producing more than a tiny little clot of revolutionaries and they mostly all just self-imploded from incompetence and stupidity and general unfitness.
The thesis, or contention, being, that the scummy assholes doing all that wet work out there, at the bidding of their semi-invisible masters here, would I mean don't you think they would have at least a fairly strong shadow or shadowy presence here at home?
Given the dynamic I mean.
Defending American interests abroad, at any cost versus defending American interests in America?

"Anyone who touches the fence endangers their life."
Grave concerns are held for civilian population.
using herbicides does not solve the problem
President George W. Bush says he is making good progress in developing new policy for Iraq and that plans will be unveiled next month
"One who shelters a terrorist, is a terrorist" - President George W. Bush

a "far-left dictatorship, which if allowed to remain will encourage similar actions against U.S. holdings in other Latin American countries."
Operation 40
East Germans developed a taste for public nudity under the communist regime


Science: It works, bitches:

I'm tired of seeing that phrase.


Big Bad Somebody:

Wyoming officials have filed a lawsuit to compel the federal government to remove as many as two-thirds of the wolves in the state.
Hundreds of wolves are at risk in Idaho, where in 2001 legislators passed a measure calling for the elimination of wolves "by any means necessary."
Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest wildlife success stories, the Yellowstone reintroduction was a triumphant event and, today, 5,000 grey wolves can be found in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and the desert southwest. This rebirth of wolves across the U.S. has underscored both the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act and the remarkable role that wolves play in keeping ecosystems in balance.


Police video the Avon Vale Hunt as they [the Hunt] prepare to ride out on their traditional Boxing Day meeting in Lacock, England
It is unlucky to kill a wren on any day apart from Boxing Day.
Hunting is the natural and most humane method of managing and controlling foxes, hares, deer and mink in the countryside and as independent research shows it is often the method most favoured by farmers. The beneficial part it plays in the conservation of the countryside and in the rural economy is beyond doubt, which is also substantiated by independent research.

Everyone must be prepared to be held accountable for everything that they do throughout each hunting day. We need to be both aware of, and sensitive to, the fact that our activities are liable to be observed and judged by the public.
Code of Good Hunting
"This year, the strength of the supporters of hunting will be undiminished by the regular anti-hunting protests, which are commonplace on Boxing Day but have been cancelled this year as animal rights organisations realise the true force of opposition to a ban on hunting.

While they cite 'mounting threats and intimidation from the hunting community' as reasons for crying off, the Countryside Alliance insists that this is pure fabrication. An Alliance spokesperson explains: "Any anti-hunting protest on Boxing Day this year would be totally insignificant.

'Even in years gone by, hunting supporters have outnumbered protesters by 1000-1. This year, the day will be an unanswered show of strength of opposition to the temporary hunting ban, and of the intention to defy and repeal this unjust legislation,' she adds.

Hunting on Boxing Day, it seems, is a part of the British way of life which is not going to go away."


a personal choice based on a personal assessment:

"There is a fragile ceasefire in Lebanon, albeit daily violated by Israeli overflights. Meanwhile the day to day brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank continues. Ten Palestinians are killed for every Israeli death; more than 200, many of them children, have been killed since the summer. UN resolutions are flouted, human rights violated as Palestinian land is stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For archbishop Desmond Tutu, as for the Jewish (former ANC military commander presently South African minister of security), Ronnie Kasrils, the situation of the Palestinians is worse than that of black South Africans under apartheid. Meantime Western governments refer to Israel's 'legitimate right' of self-defence, and continue to supply weaponry.

The challenge of apartheid was fought better. The non-violent international response to apartheid was a campaign of boycott, divestment, and, finally UN imposed sanctions which enabled the regime to change without terrible bloodshed. Today Palestinians teachers, writers, film-makers and non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable academic and cultural boycott of Israel as offering another path to a just peace. This call has been endorsed internationally by university teachers in many European countries, by film-makers and architects, and by some brave Israeli dissidents. It is now time for others to join the campaign - as Primo Levi asked: If not now, when?"
John Berger/GuardianUK/CAIB 16.Dec.06
Don't visit, exhibit or perform in Israel!
Chris Hedges on Jimmy Carter on Israeli/Palestinian Apartheid

The signatories of Berger's letter to the Guardian calling for a boycott against Israel include Brian Eno, Sophie Fiennes, Eduardo Galeano, Leon Rosselson, Steven Rose, and Arundhati Roy.
Bono and Bob Geldof, those tireless Irish humanitarians, remain to be heard from. As does the Pope.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has made his position clear.
Originating link Momus.


Wolfowitz Owes Us:

If Wolfowitz still believes that the decision to go to war was correct and that more reconstruction money can still save Iraq, then this is a critical time to explain why. If he believes he erred, he should help us understand how it happened and why - and he should apologize, as a private citizen.
Sonni Efron/LATimes/Common Dreams 23.Dec.06
The mask is in the second phrase of the first sentence. There's no real connection between Wolfowitz believing the invasion and occupation was "correct" and his believing in the possibility of more reconstruction money "saving" Iraq. Except as that connection is offered to the public, along with the clanking string of fakery and misdirection this criminal enterprise drags behind it.
Given the ratio of lies to honest explanations there's no reason to believe any of the architects and builders of the Iraq/US nightmare. Yet there's a steady insistence in the public debate that they be challenged solely on the merits of their stated goals.
Saving Iraq.
This is because the unstated goal, the at least distinctly possible goal, achieved now - an unstable, fragmented, militarily helpless Iraq - leads directly to the questions "why" and "who".
Why was this a desired thing? So important that America's good name, and especially the worldwide reputation of its military, could be sacrificed.
Who benefits from this, the way things are?
Not the USA. The USA is now far more the target of terrorist rage, far less respected, far less economically healthy, and far more divided, ashamed, crippled with doubt and confusion, than it was before the invasion of Iraq.
Yet the confidence and certainty remain in the eyes and voices of the men who led us there.
Start with Wolfowitz. If his loyalties aren't to America, where are they?



Russia's sales of weapons and military hardware may total some $6 billion in 2006, the country's President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, Dec. 7. Speaking at a meeting of commission for military and technical cooperation, Putin said that Russia's military hardware "enjoys high demand in the world".
Russia's state arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, the country's sole state intermediary in the sphere of military hardware exports and imports, said earlier one of its priorities was to expand the geography, range and volume of Russian armament and equipment supplies to regional markets.
The company is completing talks on selling China about 50 Su-33 Naval Flanker ship-borne fighters, worth $2.5 billion. If successful, this will be Russia's second most expensive arms sale contract, RIA Novosti reported. The most expensive contract is a $3 billion agreement for assembly of 140 Su-30MKI fighters in India by 2014 under a Russian license.
According to the Pentagon, China buys about 95 percent of its new weapons from Russia.
Mosnews 08.Dec.06
China's Military Capabilities
Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning
China Myth Gets Dangerous
U.S. government assessments of China's military prowess are sometimes based upon shaky sources
Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2006
Office of the Secretary of Defense

There is still another way:

The worst miscalculation Hamas could make is to confuse the Abbas camp's zeal for the prize with evidence of its value. It is clear that the Palestinian Authority cannot be a vehicle for Palestinian liberation. It is better to withdraw all recognition from it, let it collapse, or let those who want it inherit its empty shell, than spill a single drop of blood trying to preserve it. In the eyes of its supporters, Hamas' legitimacy, which has grown despite the international boycott, does not stem from its formal position within the PA, but from its steadfastness in the face of the occupation.

Hamas and all other factions committed to resisting occupation should focus on intensified civil struggle and solidarity. This is the best way to isolate those who would push for civil war in order to retain their privileges and power. Recent acts of civil resistance in which thousands of unarmed Palestinians intervened to prevent Israeli assassinations and air raids in Gaza demonstrated the immense potential for creative nonviolence that could make Israel's apartheid system powerless.
Hasan Abu Nimah and Ali Abunimah/electronicIntifada 20.Dec.06
Ali Abunimah was on CSPAN/BookTV this past week, making eminent articulate sense, being interviewed by Ron Kampeas, Washington bureau chief for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Another exercise in sadistic ugliness and hubristic swagger. Like watching Frederick Douglas debate the existence of souls in the Negro race, with a slave-owner.



"I'm not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq except that it's going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices..."
- George W. Bush, Press Conference, December 20, 2006, discussing sacrifices he and his family will not have to make.
"The people sending our kids over there, their kids aren't over there so they don't know my pain. I wish I could give them my pain so they could know what it's like for five minutes. I'm angry because so many of our kids get killed. I appreciate our kids protecting us but it's not their fight. We've been put into place to fight someone else's battle."
- Annie Washington, interview published December 21, 2006, on the death of her daughter, Army Major Gloria Scott-Davis, killed while serving her second tour of duty in Baghdad. Ms. Washington's son is also serving in Iraq and will be flying home for the funeral.


We are aware of this report:

The Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) has suspended its operations in Baghdad a day after armed men seized 30 people from its main office in the city.
In other developments, plain-clothes Americans took a former Iraqi electricity minister - a dual US-Iraqi citizen - from Iraqi police custody on Sunday where he was awaiting trial on corruption charges, Iraqi officials said on Monday.
The officials described "US forces" and men in "American cars" removing him from his cell in a police station in the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government and the US and British embassies.
Lou Fintor, a US embassy spokesman, said: "We are aware of this report and looking into it." He declined further comment.
Al Jazeera English 19.Dec.06


When it was only apartheid, we had some hope:

It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating. Palestinians are not only dying, their olive trees uprooted, their farmland and homes destroyed and their aquifers taken away from them, but on many days they can't move because of Israeli "closures" that make basic tasks, like buying food and going to the hospital, nearly impossible. These Palestinians, after decades of repression, cannot return to land from which they were expelled. The 140-plus U.N. votes to censure Israel and two Security Council resolutions - both vetoed by the United States - are blithely ignored. Is it any wonder that the Palestinians, gasping for air, rebel as the walls close in around them, as their children go hungry and as the Israelis turn up the violence?
Chris Hedges/truthdig 18.Dec.06


Last Word: Jimmy Carter

Why do you think you're under attack for the book and the title?
You and I both know the powerful influence of AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], which is not designed to promote peace. I'm not criticizing them, they have a perfect right to lobby, but their purpose in life is to protect and defend the policies of the Israeli government and to make sure those policies are approved in the United States and in our Congress - and they're very effective at it. I have known a large number of Jewish organizations in this country [that] have expressed their approval for the book and are trying to promote peace. But their voices are divided and they're relatively reluctant to speak out publicly. And any member of Congress who's looking to be re-elected couldn't possibly say that they would take a balanced position between Israel and the Palestinians, or that they would insist on Israel withdrawing to international borders, or that they would dedicate themselves to protect human rights of Palestinians - it's very likely that they would not be re-elected.
In some of your interviews you've said that this is a debate that's out in the open in Israel, and it's only here that we feel inhibited.
Oh yes - that's correct. Not only in Israel - all over Israel, the major news media, every day - [but] obviously in the Arab world, even in Europe. In this country, any sort of debate back and forth, any sort of incisive editorial comment in the major newspapers, is almost completely absent.
James Earl Carter interview in Newsweek Int'l/MSNBC
Why is there more debate in Israel - and the rest of the world - about the Israeli government's sadistic treatment of Palestine and Palestinians?
Because it's more important that Americans remain in the dark about that treatment than if Israel and the rest of the world does.
Why is that more important?
Because Americans are the ones paying for it.

British police arrested a 37-year-old man on Monday on suspicion of murdering five prostitutes
Viva Zyprexa


bevies of near-naked elves, a portal to serious debt:

Goldman Sachs' employees are getting bonuses that average over $600,000 a head and run up to $100 million for some of the top guys, though it's a safe bet the cleaning crew won't be seeing any of this largesse.
Barbara Ehrenreich 14.Dec.06
Those of us who don't understand how money works, in the beginning of our incomprehension can see the possibility of just printing money, if you had the press to do it on.
If you had the legitimate printing press where the real money is made, where the actual bills are made, you could just do a couple of private runs for yourself, and that would be that.
Of course it's more complicated, and there's always the consequences.
The consequences of diluting the money supply toward meaninglessness. The consequences of your not being the only one with access to the printing equipment, and the eventual competition amongst those so privileged to see who can get the biggest heap the quickest. And what to do with it. That's always a problem, but seldom seen as one from the outside - what to do with all that money.
You could see Goldman, Sachs as the heirs of a complex Ponzi scheme, or you could see them as drones, little workers in a hive whose interface with our mammalian world is tangential, even extra-chronological.
You could imagine that what you're looking at, what you see when you look at Goldman, Sachs and these other financial aristocracies, is what did it in the first place, what created money, the concept, the idea of money, like seeds sown long long ago, and now reaps its bounty. You could pretty easily see them as not caring at all about what effect this has had on what you are, you in that large sense that goes back and back to a time when there was no money.
What we were when there was no money.
There's a tacit sense that in those days we never laughed, never sang, never really knew love, so that now things are much better, but you could suppose that that idea is coming from the same place that has created all that surplus that's being burned in the glamorous potlatches of the other world, within this one or alongside it, where these parties glitter and sparkle for their few moments, in this festive season.


That's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, and a rabbi from Neturei Karta International, an organization of Orthodox Jews, meeting together in Iran.
At the time of the widely publicized "Holocaust Conference". The conference is consistently reported in the english-speaking media as being a gathering of anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers, a term that's conveniently been established for some time - it's something that people have heard of, like those groups that believe the earth is hollow, or flat.
No examples of actual Holocaust denial or anti-Semitism from the conference have showed up in the english-speaking media, unless you accept the Zionist position that any opposition whatsoever to their scheming and manipulation is automatic proof of anti-Semitism. This of course puts them in the bizarre posture of accusing many valiant Jews of being anti-Semitic.
John Bolton, former almost US UN ambassador and consistent Zionist yard-dog has accused Ahmadinejad of genocide, or genocidal urges, or genocidal something - but as always there is no evidence given for the accusation. We're supposed to take his word for it.
Bolton being a member of the same band of proven liars that gave us the tsunami of bullshit excuses for the Iraq invasion, this is hard for some of us to do.
The rabbis further underscored that formation of the Zionist regime or any Jewish state is in direct contradiction with the teachings of Judaism and is thus, illegal and illegitimate.

They also reminded that the Zionists supported the killing of the Jews at the time of the World War II financially and politically in order to have an alibi for the establishment of a Zionist regime.
Fars News 14.Dec.06
The American machine is steadily denying the essence of Ahmadinejad's message, which is that the Zionist regime running Israel is criminal and needs to be removed. He is not saying in any form, by implication or directly, that "the Jews" should be persecuted. The Zionists are hiding themselves behind the crowd of Jews, by itself a very cowardly thing to do, and throwing clouds of smoke and obfuscation into the air the closer the world gets to understanding what they've done, and what they're doing.
The current Israeli government is not synonymous with the Jews as a people, it can neither claim their greatness, their accomplishments, or their victimhood. At best it can claim to represent their interests in a volatile world. But instead it amplifies that volatility and claims that its own interests are universal. This is a minority acting, pretending, to be a majority. The same horseshit was run on the American public, confusing patriotism with support of the current government. So that dissent from the vicious insanity of the Bush Administration was unAmerican. When it was precisely American, and patriotic.
Ahmadinejad may be anti-Semitic, he may hate Jews irrationally for simply being Jews, but if he is he's hiding it very effectively.
For an even more graphic illustration of the illogic of the Zionist p.r. campaign here's Gilad Atzmon, a secular Israeli Jew:
In an article published on Comment is free, David Hirsh an ultra-Zionist academic, accused me of being "anti-semitic" and an "anti-Jewish racist". But Hirsh fails to present one single argument to support his accusations. On those occasions, when he seems to be getting close to substantiating his accusations it is only because he takes my words completely out of context, crudely diverts their meaning and deliberately misleads his readers. This is something you might expect from a politician but not from an academic.

In his piece, Hirsh extensively quotes from an old paper of mine in which I explore the politics of anti-semitism. In this paper I argue that anti-semitism is an archaic notion that exists only to fuel Zionism.

Here are my exact words:
"In the devastating reality created by the Jewish state, anti-semitism has been replaced by political reaction. I am not suggesting that Jewish interests are not being mutilated and vandalised. I am not saying that synagogues aren't being attacked, that Jewish graves are not brutally smashed up. I am saying that these acts, that are in no way legitimate, should be seen as political responses rather than racially motivated acts or 'irrational' hate crimes."
comment is free/GuardianUK 12.Dec.06
history of Zionism contrasted with Judaism at Jews Against Zionism

These stories were in the print version of the SFChronicle yesterday, on opposite pages, so that they met when the paper was closed:

Arctic may be ice-free by summer 2040
TORONTO: Global warming could leave the Arctic without ice during the summer as early as 2040...

Small nuclear war could severely cool the planet
A regional nuclear war between Third World nations could trigger planetwide cooling...


we have been set free:

Scenes of jubilation greeted the Botswana High Court's ruling today in favour of the Kalahari Bushmen.
The court ruled today that the Botswana government's eviction of the Bushmen was 'unlawful and unconstitutional', and that they have the right to live on their ancestral land inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.


a sign that says $70 billion:

Truthdig: What was the upshot of {Tuesday's} Democratic caucus meeting?

Kucinich: At this point the Democratic leadership - the speaker and the majority leader and Rahm Emanuel - are all recommending that the Democrats support the appropriation that is going to be brought forward in the spring, for the purposes of {continuing to fund} the war in Iraq.

Truthdig: Why do you think that is?

Kucinich: The leadership feels that they can bring about greater transparency {in spending}, that they can bring special committees to look at what's gone wrong with the war, and that there's going to be improved oversight.
If we support the troops, why in the world would we not use the money to bring them home, instead of spending more money to keep them in? Why would we, when we have money to bring them home right now, appropriate another $160 billion which would keep them there, possibly through the end of George Bush's term?

The Iraq Study Group recognized the perilous nature of this war, and there is no indication that the administration is going to bring the troops home. Every statement that the president has made has been very clear with respect to his intent to continue the U.S. presence. He has basically said, "No timetables," and he hasn't set any call for troop reductions. Now, we have men and women who are dying there, and for what? That's why it's more than disappointing that the Democratic Party is not standing up.
Kucinich/Truthdig 06.Dec.06
Listening to Roberts and Burnham and Kucinich, and Juan Cole, on C-SPAN2 today was one of the more inspiring moments of this long dark year.

...In a bipartisan Congressional briefing hosted by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) the authors of the Lancet Study, which found that as many as 650,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the war, will present their full findings to Congress.

Les Roberts, co-author of the Lancet Report, at the Congressional briefing chaired by Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, today, in rotation broadcast on C-SPAN, said that what's missing, what should be there but isn't, is contrition.
Specifically contrition, in the attitude of those who seek withdrawal from Iraq, toward the Iraqi people.
He didn't say this specifically but it's clear there's something psychopathic in just leaving, even in just talking about leaving, as though that's all it will take.
What do you say to them as you're leaving?
All this noise about the Iraqis "stepping up to the plate" is a diversion, a way of sounding in charge, a way of pretending there's something more important, some aspect of governance or control that's primary, when there isn't.
The only way forward now that doesn't demand sincere articulated contrition is outright aggression, a stripping away of the hypocrisy of "democracy" and "liberation" as motive and getting right down to the real blood and guts of total domination - intentionally destroying Iraq doesn't call for remorse. Every other possibility does.

How the electricity from the lightning
entered the sealed area
is still under investigation:

Family members of miners killed by an explosion at the Sago Mine in January say a state report on the tragedy leaves too many questions unanswered...
The report also says the miners' emergency air packs "did not perform in the manner expected,"
CNN 11.Dec.06
Various ways of expressing the same thing:
Lightning is official reason for Sago Mine explosion

Sago Mine explosion caused by lightning

State to blame lightning in Sago

Sago Mine Explosion Caused by Lightning

Investigators say lightning caused fatal Sago Mine blast

Sago Operator Cited for Flawed Breathing Gear
Sago previously here here, and here


"I see nothing in the photos..."
This is another step closer to defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq and helping establish a safe and peaceful Iraq.


"The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab- Israeli peace on all fronts."

Paragraph #19
rejectionism then:
Noam Chomsky September 8 1991-

The lack of policy was evident from James Baker's briefing after the coup had collapsed ("Baker's Remarks: Policy on Soviets," NYT, Sept. 5, 1991). The Secretary of State presented a "four-part agenda."
Three parts were the kind of pieties that speech writers produce while dozing: we want democracy, the rule of law, economic reform, settlement of security problems, etc. One part of the agenda did, however, have a modicum of substance, the third item, on "Soviet foreign policy." Here, Baker focused on his "efforts to convene a peace conference to launch direct negotiations and thereby to facilitate a viable peacemaking process in the Middle East."
As Times diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman explains in an accompanying gloss, the Soviet Union should "work together with the United States on foreign policy initiatives like Middle East peace."
What is of interest here is what was missing. "Soviet foreign policy" does indeed have a role in the Bush-Baker Middle East endeavor. The Soviet role is to provide a (very thin) cover for a unilateral U.S. initiative that may at last realize the U.S. demand, stressed by Kissinger years ago, that Europe and Japan be kept out of the diplomacy of the region. Baker's phrase "direct negotiations" is the conventional Orwellian term for the leading principle of U.S.-Israeli rejectionism: the framework of the "peace process" must be restricted to state-to-state negotiations, effectively excluding the indigenous population and any consideration of their national rights and concerns. They offer no services to the U.S. and, accordingly, have no meaningful rights.
That is the core principle of the rigid rejectionism that the U.S. has upheld for 20 years in virtual international isolation (apart from both major political groupings in Israel), and now feels that it may be in a position to impose.

James A. Baker III September 1994-

The Arabs no longer present as much of a unified front as they used to, for three reasons: the collapse of communism and the end of the East-West conflict; the defeat of Arab rejectionism and radical Palestinian elements in the Gulf War; and the fact that Israel has now reached an agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
And you've got Gaza-Jericho first there and - and that deal was made without consultation with - with some of the Arab states. So, the states have less of a reason to condition their positions on whatever will result in the permanent status talks. As a result, they're less committed to the idea of a Palestinian state.
I suppose they will still give lip service to the idea of a Palestinian state, but the Syrians particularly feel free to reach an agreement with Israel on peace without regard to what happens on the Palestinian track.
At least with respect to the countries around Israel, you're not going to get real economic development until there's peace. And when you do get peace, boy, there's going to be tremendous development and economic activity in so many different ways in those countries - in Israel herself and in the countries bordering Israel. And I'm optimistic that you can get peace.

Noam Chomsky April 12 1991:-

A Security Council resolution in similar terms had been offered by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt as far back as January 1976 with the support of the PLO and indeed initiated by it according to Israel. It was vetoed by the US. Europe, the USSR, the Arab states, and the world generally have been united for years on such a political settlement, but the US will not permit it.
The facts are unacceptable, thus eliminated from history.

For twenty years, the US has backed Israeli rejectionism. For that clear but inexpressible reason, the peace process remains a "hypothetical creature." There is one simple reason why an international conference is "unwieldy": participants will support "the right to self-determination" for the indigenous population.
rejectionism now:
MR. BAKER: Well, here's what we thought at the time. We said to ourselves, "Look, we have great credibility now with both sides, as a consequence of having defeated Arab rejectionism in the Gulf." The Gulf War was a defeat of Arab rejectionism that gave us even more credibility than we normally had with Israel, which is a lot, because we had defeated the number one threat to Israel's security. And we had great credibility with the Arab nations, because for many of them we had saved their bacon. So we could go to them and say, "Now, look, now is the time to get serious about peace and to really work at it."
The problem is not that the Israelis will not concede to the Palestinians a state. It has been very clear at least since Camp David in 2000 that the Palestinians can have a state in the West Bank and Gaza any time that they are able and willing to offer peace in return.
Current Israeli PM Olmert was elected on a platform of essentially trying to give them that state even in the absence of such a commitment.
Disagreements over scraps of land are not what is holding peace back.
What is holding it back is primarily the perpetuation of Arab rejectionism of Israel in any borders.
Rejectionism is at the moment being strongly promoted - with money, weapons and aggressive propaganda and diplomacy - by the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis, which is escalating its bid for regional hegemony while the US is distracted in Iraq. By essentially agreeing with their rhetoric that all the region's problems are connected to Israel, well-intentioned outsiders are making them stronger, which is the last thing anyone who hopes for peace should want to do.
US President George W. Bush rejected the main recommendations of the Iraq Study Group after holding talks Thursday in Washington with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Olmert rejects linking Iraqi and Israeli conflicts:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today said he had no intention of opening peace talks with Syria, despite the recommendations of a US advisory group.
...irrespective of the ISG's rejection of a timetable, the report's willingness to put the issue forward merits attention: "The question of the future US force presence must be on the table for discussion." This, and another of the report's recommendations, for a more overt US overture toward Iraq's Shi'ite leaders and the appointment of a "high-level American Shi'ite Muslim to serve as an emissary" to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, should be welcomed by Tehran.
Israel has rejected claims by a team of elder US statesmen that the Iraq crisis cannot be resolved unless the US also tackles the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The paper highlights comments on the report from Rush Limbaugh ("stupid"), the Wall Street Journal editorial page ("strategic muddle"), and Richard Perle ("absurd"). And, oh yeah, the New York Post, which calls James Baker and Lee Hamilton "surrender monkeys."
On the other end of the debate are Republicans like Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, who says: "The American people are essentially unified in their intense dissatisfaction with the way things have progressed in Iraq." Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol comments that the choice for party members will come down to Baker or John McCain, and the choice will have to be made soon. McCain, of course, has argued for more troops and rejects the ISG report's main recommendations.
Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, a longtime Washington ally, has angrily rejected the Iraq Study Group's recommendations, warning that any delay in deciding the fate of an oil-rich region claimed by the Kurds would have "grave consequences."
Phyllis Bennis and Erik Leaver at Foreign Policy in Focus have some clear and sensible things to say about the ISG report
As does, as always, Helena Cobban:
"From that point of view, it is barely "about" Iraq at all. It is much more "about" this group of senior statespeople trying to grab hold of the wheel of the ship of (the American) state and slowly drag this lumbering great vessel away from a course that has been-- and still is, to this day-- most evidently headed towards a disaster."


Ad Astra:

What's particularly cool about Cordyceps is that it is not alone. Other parasites drive their hosts to bizarre heights. Another fungus, called Entomophthora muscae, drives houseflies and other insects upwards, climbing screen doors in some cases, before springing out of its host's body.
Carl Zimmer/Loom
NASA announced this week that it plans to establish a permanent moon base by 2024, a mere generation from now. Intriguingly, the plan, which is still short on details, calls for an open-standard, modular design that would allow private enterprises to plug into the permanent station by building their own extensions to the base.
As good as this sounds ...

dealing from strength:

"And we market the hospital to the community. We meet with the managed-care people. They know that we are reliable. We give quality care. We haven't had problems like some others. If you follow the industry, you know of which I speak. The managed-care people rely on us, we have a good relationship with them, but we are dealing from strength.
"...we don't have any particular magic. What we do is attack sort of every area of the hospital. When we buy it or when we build it, it's the same thing."
Alan B. Miller/Universal Health Services interview with Forbes 29.Nov.05
Maybe it's my currently possibly excessive state of cynical despair but it would seem pretty generally obvious that virtually every end-user of Universal Health Services' services would not be "dealing from strength", and would thus be at a pretty serious disadvantage in whatever negotiations were taking place.
People don't negotiate for the health of their loved ones, or themselves, not in the clinch.
Health care as a business is a disease.
link Marsh/Huffington


Contractual obligations:

"If you're trying to win hearts and minds and the contractor is driving 90 miles per hour through the streets and running over kids, that's not helping the image of the American army...."

There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield.

The survey finding, which includes Americans, Iraqis and third-party nationals hired by companies operating under U.S. government contracts, is significantly higher and wider in scope than the Pentagon's only previous estimate
Renae Merle/WaPo/demoundergrnd 05.Dec.06

If it was about American control of Iraq's oil
stability would have been more important than democracy.


"...would they be here if I had not asked them to go?"

Roy Sesana, Bushman leader, with Gunhild Buljo of the SAAMI Council 2004
Two Kenyan hunter-gatherers who traveled 2,800 km to investigate the plight of the Kalahari Bushmen have called on Botswana's government:

'Kenya fought its hunter-gatherers, mountain and forest people for decades, but the government realised its mistakes and gave indigenous hunter-gatherer people like ours title deeds for land. They helped the people to own and manage the wildlife resources in their areas, and draw the benefits of exploitation. I am sure Botswana can learn from our experience.'


In 1988 she was sentenced to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites.

"We're in the hands of God and the doctors"

Juan Cole on the memo by Donald Rumsfeld :

1. Rumsfeld doesn't understand the magnitude of the crisis...
2. Rumsfeld spends more time plotting out how to manipulate the American public than how to win the war. Everything is about spin, about giving the image of progress even in the face of a rapid downward spiral into the abyss.
3. Rumsfeld openly admits that he wants to run Iraq just like Saddam did...
Informed Comment 03.Dec.06
1. Crisis for who? Not for the Israelis, our staunch ally in the Middle East, who in spite of that alliance have lost no soldiers in Iraq. A crisis for Iraq which means a powerless, crashing state, is not a crisis for everyone, anymore than the fall of the Soviet Union was, for all the misery it brought its citizens.
2. Possibly because "winning the war" was never a goal. Once you stop believing the liars who are setting the goal, defining what "winning" is, then what do you have?
Why did this happen? Whose interests are being served by this?
3. A proxy army controlling Iraq with an iron fist, as opposed to "liberating, democratizing, etc.", would fit with a plan to remove Iraq as a military presence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq with a functioning economy and a viable independent Iraqi military wouldn't.
Once you admit the possibility that present conditions in Iraq were the reason for the invasion and occupation, it makes a lot more sense, and the seeming absurdities and outright insanities of these men, themselves disposable, who have proven themselves over and over to be skillful and conscienceless liars, look a lot more like cunning and craft than idiocy and failure.

My father joined the army in the 1930's, I think around 1936 or so. He said. He was a fabulist, a deeply wounded one, and a lot of the things he told me when I was very young turned out not to be strictly real. The woundedness was real, but the stories, a lot of them, weren't. He told me he'd been in Hawaii then, in the 30's when he was in the peacetime Army, and land was for sale on Oahu for $100 an acre. A lot of money in the Depression for land you had to take a long boat ride to get to, he said.
As near as I can tell, or remember from the little bit of family history I retain from what little I was given, when the Second World War started he was still in the Army, stationed on the West Coast, and that's when he met my mom. There's some vagueness in the narrative about the years just before the war began.
He was in it for the duration. He told me a story about being blown up by a land mine on the Burma Road, seeing his friend die. Later, as the stories lost their credible substance as fact, as the things I knew and found out refuted what he'd said too many times for trust, I had to put the rest of them into a kind of "wait and see" file, because some of them were true, or had truth in them, some of them were attempts at saying something that needed saying.
He was on the Burma Road toward the end of the war, that much is true, it was in his records. The Burma Road is generally regarded as one of the most arduous campaigns of the war. Also in his records is that he was Section 8'ed out of the Army - that his discharge was medical, for psychiatric reasons. That can cover a lot of territory when it's applied to combat veterans.
Later, when I was 14 and applying to enter a Catholic pre-seminarian boarding school, I had to sit for a personal interview that was conducted by the arch-bishop. He only asked me one question - whether or not there was any insanity in my family.
As far as I knew there wasn't, so I told him that; though no more than a few years later I would become convinced that virtually everyone I knew was more or less insane, and not in a lighthearted or silly way.
What makes that question interesting to me, the asking of it, and what makes my father's discharge interesting to me - and what makes some memories I have of events that took place around the time we were living in Ione, where Preston was, interesting to me - is that my father had been molested by a Catholic priest when he was an altar boy.
My uncle told me this a few years after my father had already died. My uncle was younger than my father by enough years that he wasn't there when it happened. What he said he'd been told, in one of the rare times anyone in the family would talk about it, was that my grandfather had charged the parish house, gone down there in person, made as big a stink as he could with what little power he had - he was a blue-collar Irishman, he worked for the railroad. My uncle said the end result was the family had moved across the city, had had to move out of the parish and across the city; this was in I believe Syracuse, New York.
The precise interplay of forces that caused that move are unavailable to me. But it happened. And, years later, the bishop asked me if there was any insanity in my family. It was the only thing he asked me in our private interview to see whether, at 14, I was sufficiently pious enough to enter the pre-seminary.
Once, earlier, on a trip to Mexico with my mother and father, we stopped south of LA in Oceanside to see his Army buddy Dave. We went body-surfing at night. The water wasn't cold, and it was dark out; swimming in the ocean with the two of them, grown men half-lit on beer and bourbon. It was a big event for me. And seeing my father with someone he knew, who knew him from that time, whatever shared nightmares they had, that was big, something like the ocean was, dark and huge and right there in front of me.
He left my mom and I when I was 5, moved to Santa Rosa to a different job to live with a different woman. My mother and I stayed where we were living, in Ione - where he'd been working at Preston, the California Youth Authority, a penal institution, essentially a prison for under-18 year-old boys.
I remember clearly an afternoon from those days, in the turmoil of grief and emotional panic my mother's life had become, and mine with it, when a man came to the house, and talked with me a little while, and gave me a book. He said his name was Joe Crossman, he wanted me to remember that, and I did; I have ever since, and I've forgotten an awful lot of very important things along the way.
My impression was he was a friend of my father's, from the Army, not from Preston; though later, when I was in my thirties I asked my father about it, and he said he'd never had a friend with that name, and he had no idea who it might have been.
I had that book all through my childhood, from before I could read until I could read the Random House Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language cover to cover. Neither my mother nor my father ever remembered that man coming to the house, or anyone with that name in their lives, but he was there, he'd been there, in my life. I had the book to prove it - C.S. Lewis's The Silver Chair.
Lewis' religion and his religious activism make it hard for me to get back to the visions of Narnia I had as a boy, reading and rereading that book. I'm not a Catholic in any sense of the word. Not a Christian in most people's sense of that word. Like a leper on the streets of Calcutta I've been grateful for mercy and kindness that have come my way from that long ragged line of compassionate believers. The best teachers I had - few as they were, when they were good they were brilliantly good - up until my junior year in high school, were perforce Catholic nuns and priests.
But there's the corpulent bishop with his ring and his question, and that priest that hurt my father; a series of educationally-credentialed madwomen whose cruelty and gibberish poisoned my early education with nonsensical lies and torment; and a vicious Jesuit priest, the Dean at the seminary, whose jealousy and rage scarred me for life. There's the buzzing swarm of the mindless faithful, waiting like locusts for the signal of their Redeemer. And Ratzinger and Lustiger in the Vatican - imps of Mordor with a burnished gloss of sanctimony.
And yet there's that book. And all along, at the edge of things too horrible to recount, with none of the smug confidence and institutional courage that makes cheap angels out of moralistic thugs, some kind of light above the layer-on-layer of spiritual politics and gang war.
It's how I imagine the American military now, the struggle behind the facade of unity; there are, there have to be, good men and women still in positions of power in the American military, who can see the darkness they're being driven toward, and who are trying like the rest of us to find a place to stand.
That book. I think about it sometimes, it sparks a kind of dread and hope simultaneously; it's a reminder, for when the veils of conspiracy darken what seems like everything, that there were, that there still are, others - the presence of good intrigue in an evil world, in spite of what seem impossible odds.


BBC graphics: Muslim veils

Drug addiction, human trafficking and prison:
a national-security threat
Far and Near
They don't know where to die, you know?

7,000 women across the world:

It is a shocking fact that despite the world having 25 years experience of dealing with an HIV epidemic that grows exponentially every year, we are far from finding the solution to the disease. One of the greatest barriers to preventing HIV is that awareness alone cannot prevent its spread. Throughout the world, those who experience poverty and poor healthcare are most at risk.

For women and girls, poverty can mean financial dependence on a partner or on sex work. This often means they cannot insist on using condoms, particularly in countries where a woman's value is measured by her fertility and a choice has to be made between motherhood and HIV. Neither can they insist on abstinence or faithfulness, as the threat of violence, abandonment or destitution is a by-product of their dependence. For millions of adolescent girls in poor countries, susceptibility to rape, forced marriage, dependence on "sugar daddies" and trafficking also put them at high risk.

Addressing poverty and gender inequality among women worldwide is no easy task, but it is one that must be pursued vigorously, as the lives of millions of women are at stake. In many countries, women are leading the way in responding to the HIV epidemic, grandmothers are taking charge of small children whose parents have died of Aids and women and girls are disproportionately involved in caring for sick and dying relatives. So it is not the case that women are powerless victims, yet by focusing on condoms or abstinence in our global response to HIV, we exclude women because these are factors often out of their control.
Bianca Jagger/Guardian UK 01.Dec.06

Ignorance and death:

Dear Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi,
We, Nobel Laureates in the sciences, are gravely concerned about the ongoing trial of five Bulgarian nurses, Valya Chervenyashka, Snezhana Dimitrova, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Kristiana Valcheva, and a Palestinian doctor, Ashraf Ahmad Jum'a, in Tripoli. The six face death-penalty charges of deliberately infecting 426 children with HIV at al-Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi in 1998. Strong scientific evidence is needed to establish the cause of this infection. However, independent science-based evidence from international experts has so far not been permitted in court.
We appreciate the agony and the sadness of the parents of these children and we sympathize with the difficult situation of the Libyan authorities in trying to deal with this matter. However, we feel that if justice is to be served it is essential that the defence should be permitted to present its case.
Among the disallowed scientific evidence is a 2003 report, which Libya requested, and which was provided by Luc Montagnier, a co-discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS, and Italian microbiologist Vittorio Colizzi. The report concluded that the infection at the hospital resulted from poor hygiene and reuse of syringes, and also that the infections began before the arrival of the nurses and doctor in 1998.
Letter to Gaddafi
Richard J. Roberts and 113 fellow Nobel Laureates

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