...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



Sam Zell is possibly not your friend:

"What this country needs is a cleansing" in the residential market, Zell said. "We need to clear out all of those people who should never have been in houses in the first place and who for sure shouldn't be getting sympathy."
via LA Biz
Bill McKibben, however, pretty much is:
Don't worry overmuch about religious strictures and their effect on population. The two countries with the lowest birth rates on earth, Italy and Spain, are the two most heavily Catholic countries on the planet. Ditto for Mexico and Brazil in the developing world.
via NewsTrust


a fresh talking point as she works to convince:

Clinton, who won the Pennsylvania primary last week, has gained ground this month in a hypothetical head-to-head match up with the GOP nominee-in-waiting; she now leads McCain, 50 percent to 41 percent, while Obama remains virtually tied with McCain, 46 percent to 44 percent.
See how the Superbowl goes down to the wire every year now, increasing ad revenues and giving millions of consumers a satisfying and exciting experience of real cliff-hanger football.
Breaking spirits is a creepy job description, and you'd think it would produce tons of negative karma. But if your karma's already deep in the minuses, and you've been shown in no uncertain terms that it's backseat and shut up or no ride at all - what's to lose?
What drives these moments has nothing to lose. It can afford to destroy everything, because after - what's there? Nothing.
Until now I haven't wanted to commit to the cynicism I'm carrying around about Obama. Because it started to look like the power of The Great Swine Hive Thing wasn't near as monolithic and impregnable as we feared.
Watching for the same orchestrated moves as preceded the election of the Sorceror's Apprentice. Ever notice how much Bush looks like a humanoid Mickey Mouse?
For a while, as Obama rose up, it seemed different.
Now it's tipping back the other way.
So here's those moves. First thought is how discouraging to so many young bright hopefuls.
Well, yeah, and your point?
Discouraging the shit out of moral youth is the creepy job description mentioned above. This is what the death squads of Latin America were trained, in the US, to do. Precisely that. The people's heroes and their support systems - leftist compassionate anti-elite union-organizing help-the-poor heroes. Breaking them, killing them, discouraging them in every way possible, and burning the lessons of those heinous acts of discouragement into the young. Futility - it's what's happening!
Break their spirits, because they'll just get in the way of the empire with all that right and wrong bullshit.
This is the danger, and this is what looks to be occurring. I'm more than ready to be wrong and provably paranoid about this. Not about whether there's evil behind the scenes, if it's happening as it seems there it is, but whether or not it's really happening at all.
If it isn't happening, then even though wrong I'm up and ready for big change.
If it is, it's evil incarnate.
See who owns the football teams.
See who owns Hillary Clinton, and the little black holes where the news comes from.

Watch Hillary run!
See Hillary win!
With exciting! too-close-to-call! neck-and-neck! photo-finish!
Then the tired sad old counting horse McCain gets walked out to be cathartically humiliated by that fresh! new! face!

Other HClinton coverage on this topic, in this space:
13.Dec. '05
17.Oct. '06
24.Oct '06


In a stunning admission, top officials at the Veterans Health Administration confirmed that the agency’s own statistics show that an average of 126 veterans per week -- 6,552 veterans per year -- commit suicide, according to an internal email distributed to several VA officials.

Charlie Rose' by Samuel Beckett

it changes - but in some aspects it remains the same:

MR. ROSE: Well, speaking about -- okay. Let's go to that, at a Bolivarian which is -- what is our policy to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that what we're trying to do --

MR. ROSE: Are we trying to overthrow him?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: No. No. I think we think of this as an internal Venezuelan issue. The Venezuelan people are going to have to deal with it. Our sense is that there is increasing unhappiness with Mr. Chavez and his own people, particularly his extravagant foreign policy, and his promising of millions, and even sometimes billions of dollars to other countries, when there are people suffering from poverty and difficult conditions inside of Venezuela itself. So I think that's a serious problem. But meanwhile, he is up to quite a bit of mischief. We know that.
ScoopNZ 28.Apr.08


Alors, matey:

I am always sceptical when a government’s much-contested decision on some important question is rapidly followed, by pure coincidence, by a major success in that same area, as if to convince the public that the much-contested decision is therefore justified. For example, Sarkozy has faced much criticism over his decision to send troops to Afghanistan to help in the difficult guerrilla against the Taliban. What luck, then, that while that acrimonious debate was still raging an opportunity for the same French commandos to shine should spontaneously present itself in a well-organised operation personally directed by Nicolas Sarkozy. For a week all French eyes have been on the yacht (owned, again by pure chance, by a friend of Sarkozy’s), imaginations captivated by the idea that pirates still operate in those far-flung waters.
Tim King/Prospect 15.Apr.08

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity


Hamas offers Gaza truce with Israel

things tend to be permanent...until they end:

"Agency" belongs to those willing to disrupt their comfortable [sic] lives and dedicate themselves to stopping things like global warming, US military interventionism, economic exploitation, factory farming, environmental devastation, any means necessary. The humans (all living things) that come after us won't care if we did interviews like this or marched in protests or held open doors for little old ladies...if they have no clean air to breathe. It won't matter if we ate organic or drove a hybrid or switched to recycled toilet paper...if they have no clean water to use. They won't care if we voted for Obama or McCain or Hillary...if they end up stuck on a toxic, uninhabitable planet.
An interview with Mickey Z.
By Maxwell Black

Now the overwhelming feeling I'm getting is that it's time to be emotionally ready for a very different way of life, losing everything we're used to having, losing the people we care about, entering a mad scramble to survive or surrendering to death.
It's a very weird psychological space to be in. We must keep functioning and even trying to thrive within the present system, living fairly "normally," while knowing it's all rapidly collapsing (ecologically, economically), and that we're totally unequipped to survive what comes next. I'm feeling a mix of emotions that I imagine are similar to someone who knows they'll soon die -- joyful savoring of every precious moment of life, fighting desperately to change the situation, deep sorrow, anger and regret, and acceptance that the end is near, all at once.
I just hope the economy collapses before it destroys the planet. It's horrible that we've been given this nightmare of a choice: massive human suffering and death vs. the extinction of all life. But there it is, two forms of collapse racing to the finish line, and we need to not only cheer on economic collapse (in spite of the hardships we will each experience on an individual level), but to hasten it in any way we can.
Stephanie McMillan

The moral costs are perhaps the highest:

There is no such thing as a neoconservative who is not allied with Israel. Israel hopes to steal all of the West Bank and southern Lebanon for its territorial expansion. An American colonial regime in Iraq not only buttresses Israel from attack, but also can pressure Syria and Iran from giving support to the Palestinians and Lebanese. The Iraqi war is a war for Israeli territorial expansion.
Paul Craig Roberts/OnlineJournal/GlobalResearch

our ability to get things done:

The U.S. Navy plans to re-establish its Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, to oversee ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean and Central and South America, a Defense Department statement said.
The U.S. Navy has been planning to build up its forces in the region. Admiral James Stavridis, who oversees military affairs for Latin America, told Congress on March 6 that he backs plans to designate a new fleet, led by a nuclear aircraft carrier, to patrol the waters of the Caribbean and Latin America in support of counter-terrorism operations.
Rear Admiral James Stevenson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, said the re-establishment of the Fourth Fleet will send a message to the entire region, not just Venezuela

Elsibai/Bloomberg 24.Apr.08
A US-based think tank has awarded a $500,000 prize to the leader of a student protest movement that has posed a potent challenge to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
University student Yon Goicoechea became a household name in Venezuela last year after he led protests that were widely seen as a key factor in the defeat of sweeping constitutional changes proposed by Chavez.
The Washington-based Cato Institute said it would announce the 23-year-old as winner of the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty on Thursday.
Goicoechea, a law student who will soon graduate from Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, said he plans to use the prize money to support Venezuela's student parliament, donate to his university and former school, and support a foundation he is helping to set up that will offer training to young leaders who want to play a role in politics.
Goicoechea now plans to launch a political career in Venezuela, he told the opposition television station Globovisión.

news, from the holy land

"You are not here to write your memoirs".
Congress continues to give Israel massive amounts of our tax money; currently, about 7 million dollars per day.
Gaza will plunge into darkness by Wednesday evening

UN suspends aid to Gaza over fuel blockade
Hamas calls on Gazans to demonstrate in front of closed crossings
Hamas proposes truce with Israel
a Foreign Ambassador Smearing Our Former President as a Bigot
six decades of destruction for the Palestinians
Gazans protest over Israeli siege
70,000 Gazans have no drinking water; UN can't feed 700,000 refugees
punished because they live in Gaza


can't make this stuff up:

Gates said he had consulted with Levin and other senior lawmakers about the nominations.
Petraeus, 55, is widely hailed by the Bush administration and members of Congress for implementing a new strategy in Iraq, including the deployment of some 30,000 additional troops, that dramatically improved security.
"The Senate will carefully examine these nominations, and I will be looking for credible assurances of a strong commitment to implementing a more effective national security strategy," said Reid, D-Nev.
SFGate 23.Apr.08
That "dramatically improved security" for exactly whom is conspicuously left dangling.
To complete this recipe, right after "30,000 additional troops" you need to add a cup or two of mystery spice. Some of us have said, more than once, that these troops were being offered, cynically, pragmatically, inhumanly, as expendable, cannon fodder.
I am a soused gurnet. Tut, tut...


"We are innocent, as we have proclaimed from the time of our arrest. To forsake this truth is to pay too high a price even for the priceless gift of life-- for life thus purchased we could not live out in dignity and self-respect."
Rosenbergs' letter to President Truman, January 9, 1953
The couple was executed at sundown in the electric chair at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York, on June 19, 1953.
Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg were American citizens who received international attention when they were executed after having been found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage in relation to passing information on the American atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.
The guilt of the Rosenbergs and the appropriateness of their sentence have been subject of perennial debate. However, information released after the Cold War has been taken as confirming a charge against Julius about espionage, but not in relation to atomic bombs, at least.
David Greenglass, chief prosecution witness, released in 1968 after 15 years in prison, & living under the witness protection program, admitted in a TV interview that he'd been pressured by Roy Cohn, former aide to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, to lie during the trial.
Son of the Rosenbergs
Rosenberg Fund for Children

Just about everybody in that confused travesty of justice except McCarthy and Fuchs, Irish and German, citizen of the US and resident alien in the UK respectively, is Jewish.
Which kind of makes this guy's nefarious scuttling and hinky dual loyalty somewhat less ethically clear-cut.
Some folks have accused the national government and media of overt and not-so overt anti-Semitism in their rabid condemnation and rapid execution of the Rosenbergs. This aside from the pretty obvious fact of Ethel's basic innocence, her glaringly obvious innocence of anything like capital crime. How confident can any Jew be of the legal protection of the US government? Probably not so very, though currently Jews seem to pretty much be running things inside and outside the official channels of power. That can swiftly change, of course, and it will.
So Israel becomes the only certainty, the only stable refuge for a persecuted and paranoid people.
Mr. Kadish is quoted in court documents as having told his FBI interviewers "he acted out of a belief he was helping Israel". If Julius Rosenberg did pass atomic secrets to the Soviets he most likely did so with the belief he was helping the people of the socialist experiment achieve some sort of nightmare atomic-destructo parity with the executive thugs and professional psychotics of American capitalism.
Rosenberg especially, if he did anything like what he was accused of doing, did not act for personal gain, that's very clear.
Not so clear with Mr. Kadish and Mr. Pollard.
The execution of the Rosenbergs, carrying the stark finality of merciless capital punishment along with trainloads of injustice and loud strains of clear bigotry, makes an ugly contrast with the almost trivial attention paid to Pollard's case in the media. The Americans who believe Saddam Hussein took down the WTC probably have never heard Pollard's name with anything near the weight it deserves in the context out of which it emerged.
Mr. Kadish and Mr. Pollard are accused of passing high-level secrets to a foreign government. A crime for which the Rosenbergs were killed.
Interesting to see how Mr. Kadish's trial plays out. Though he's 84 and the crimes were committed back in the 1980's.
Perhaps the newly tough-talking Condi Rice will weigh in on this, with her dukes up and her combat boots on.


"Poner al país en primer lugar"

Winter Soldier Israel:

Breaking The Silence
Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories
Testimonies dealing with specific cases of misconduct.
Other than hiding the identity of the soldier, these testimonies have not been edited.
via Lenin's Tomb



These photos made you famous the world over.
Even the Rolling Stones wrote a song about you.
You have become a symbol, the face of this war.
That's how I read about it in the papers. People stare at me a lot. When we talk about the negative things that happened in the war, then Abu Ghraib is one of the first things to come up, and they usually name me by name. Although I was only in five or six pictures, I am the most famous. So I suppose I am a symbol of this war. Unfortunately.
Let's talk about the photos, especially the one with Gus, the man on the dog-leash...
Streck, Wiechmann/Spiegel
Okay, let's do. Let's talk about those photos. Then, after we've contemplated that for a while, let's turn our thoughts to the men in those images. Men whose lives are just as real as hers, or yours.
But first the photos of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
Framing's vital in imagery, and in this case it's everything.
Lots of people can see through the lies and noise far enough that when England says
"...when you show the people from the CIA, the FBI and the MI the pictures and they say, 'Hey, this is a great job. Keep it up', you think it must be right. They were all there and they didn't say a word. They didn't wear uniforms, and if they did they had their nametags covered."
it's believable. Even the Washington Post would appear to believe her, though there's some hinky positioning in the names named and left unnamed in that article.
The cult of personal responsibility is thrilled to have Lynndie England broken in front of them, and the bigotry that came to the surface when the whole Abu Ghraib shitstorm broke was so charged with that gratification it was easy to see. That and the misogyny and racism and confused sadistic lust that saturates the whole ugly nightmare.
It fixates on the woman in the pictures as responsible for being there, and for doing what she's doing.
She's a hillbilly. White trash. One more expendable subhuman from the bottom of the pile. This thing has eaten her life, such as it was.
She says she's paranoid that some freak will try to hurt or kill her or kidnap her son. No doubt based on the many wonderful things people have written about and at her regarding this matter.
The karmic puzzle of those who wanted to punish her because punishing her would feel good. Considering what she's being punished for, well, that's a ponder. Taking pleasure in punishing bad people. Nasty, but legal, and fun!
Deeper in though it starts to smell pretty strange.
Some there are who see the whole Iraq enterprise as highly managed, so that the failing state and its constant churning bloodshed isn't a bungle, it was the goal all along. Though even at this late hour the only polarity on offer is:

Operation Iraqi Freedom, democracy to Iraq
Blundering greedheads ride toward Babylon and its oil.

Choose one.
Babylon's an interesting signpost here.
The less comforting analysis is it's been a war by proxy for Israel all along, with the oil boys bought in, or extorted in in some cases, possibly some high profile cases, all supported heavily by the fans of the Apocalypse on the Christian fundamentalist right. Democracy, like freedom, being just something you have to tell the dummies to get them to back you.
That frame makes the release of the images a lot more than just a newsworthy scandalous revelation.
Keeping in mind the same media that kicked those images into the world zeitgeist had been backing the whole idea from the get, reporting the lies of the Administration as fact, hiding everything and anything that threatened to expose what lay behind the cheap tawdry rah-rah. Suddenly there's all those pictures of humiliated Arabs.
Imagine how that played in the settlements on the Golan Heights. Imagine how Richard Perle and Douglas Feith and Eliot Abrams and their more rabid brethren reacted to them.
To get that frame up and fit to the image, you'd need a sense of what Babylon means to the Jewish diaspora. Why Babylon figures so prominently in reggae. This is a much older story than the news lets on.
There was all that talk back in 2003 about the looting of the museums, mystified commenters wondering - why? A picture I never tire of hauling out:
from AFP back when they still had couilles.
It's J. Paul Bremer, American pro-consul in Iraq. He's looking at a piece of the treasure of Nimrod.
The symbolism of that moment was and is immense, but it went pretty much unrecognized. Mostly because people
a. don't know Bremer's Jewish
b. don't know who Nimrod was.
But through the frame of war by proxy for Israel, the placing of a Jew as military-backed governing presence over a country that's just been successfully invaded and occupied fits very tightly. Keeping in mind that same country, in Gulf War 1, lobbed 80 some missiles into Israel.
And through that same frame broadcasting around the world images of your millenia-old enemies covered in shit and led naked like dogs on a short leash by a leering woman in combat boots fits very tightly indeed.
Keeping in mind the outrage those pictures caused in decent-minded folks all over the US not to mention the rest of the world. Keeping in mind that it went some good way toward parting the sea of unquestioning patriotic fever the country was deep in the midst of at the time. Keeping in mind by 2006 the elections were a signal message that those decent-minded folks had had enough b.s. and wanted real change, and the hell out of Iraq.
Keeping in mind a fat lot of good that did anyone.
The God-like narrative voice of the Speigel article with its smarmy mix of talk-show therapeutic guile and guiltless cold regard seems to almost promise her a place, if not at the table with the elect and pure, at least among the rest of the lepers and beggars at the city's gate.
There's no righteousness more undeniable than that possessed by those blind to their own complicity. What Jesus called "whited sepulchres".
This, for some of us, is the deathless message of Christian mercy. None of us are above any of the rest. The best among us get right down there with the worst. By choice. Out of humility. For love.
Lynndie England's anxious and medicated and scarred for life. Not because she made wrong personal choices, though that's in it, but because she got caught up in a sick machine. Her way back isn't through remorse and shame, though the audience of the unstained and self-proclaimed innocent want to see and hear that, and won't release her from the cathartic circus until she bows to the false god they've made of themselves.
She's wounded enough she won't heal until we all do, won't start to heal until we all do, until she gets hit with enough true and accurate mercy and compassion she has no choice in it but to rise.

Yo creo en el hombre paraguayo;
en su sufrida y sacrificada historia:

I believe in the Paraguayan people and their long-suffering and their history, so full of sacrifice. I think it has been solidarity, endurance, hard work and its ability to rise after two wars that subjugated its geographical and human sovereignty what allowed Paraguay to get over many difficult situations. I believe in simple, humble people and in their wisdom, their capacity to build, provide and contribute to the creation of something new and different. I believe in those people to whom I devoted my whole life: the simplest and poorest, those from whom a real, true change can come. Changes don’t come from above and outside, but from below and inside.
Fernando Lugo


A former Catholic bishop popular with the poor is favourite to win Paraguay's presidential election tomorrow and sweep away six decades of de facto one-party rule.
Opinion polls give Fernando Lugo a 5% lead, which could be enough to usher him in as the latest member of Latin America's "pink tide" of leftist governments.
The bearded 57-year-old heads the Patriotic Alliance for Change, a coalition of centre and centre-left opposition parties coupled with grassroots political movements, farmers organisations and other social groups.
The Colorado party, the world's longest-ruling party still in power, has responded to the mood for change by fielding a female candidate, Blanca Ovelar.
Think of countries that were on the brink of the verge of going full-on leftist, or even more unthinkably, socialist, in the last few decades, but then saw the sudden appearance of mediagenic female politicians with vague but caring middle-of-the-road affect. Women who could attract large blocks of timid and unbrave voters who nevertheless desperately wanted change.
The monstrous thing that drives this age is nothing if not pragmatic. Preferring death squads and the iron heel of dictatorship, it will settle for cartoon versions of democracy if it has to. As long as it can control what controls the people's thinking, democracy's never a real problem. These dirty little countries in the South though, people are so damned poor they can't be brainwashed easily. Hunger and poverty keep you outside looking in. Paraguay's possibly as important as Nicaragua was back in the 70's to the domino tumble of socialist change. Only this time the monster's already got its nasty paws full.
Across the Chaco to the east, U.S. Special Forces are garrisoned at Mariscal Estagarribia, strategically positioned to keep an eye on the purportedly terrorist-ridden Triple Frontier (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay) at Iguazu Falls, the largest fresh water reserve on the continent, and the breakaway Bolivian provinces.
Five hundred U.S. troops arrived in Paraguay with planes, weapons, and ammunition in July 2005, shortly after the Paraguayan Senate granted U.S. troops immunity from national and International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction. Neighboring countries and human rights organizations are concerned that the massive air base at Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay is potential real estate for the U.S. military.
While U.S. and Paraguayan officials vehemently deny ambitions to establish a U.S. military base at Mariscal Estigarribia, the ICC immunity agreement and U.S. counterterrorism training exercises have increased suspicions that the U.S. is building a stronghold in a region that is strategic to resource and military interests.
Paraguay also has some pretty bizarre animal life, though the weirdest ones are mostly migratory.

more attractive, less painful


a highly sensitive time, security wise:

Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has defended his right to meet Hamas in course of his current visit to the Middle East.
Carter is heading to Syria for talks with Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader. It is a personal trip that has drawn fierce rebukes from the White House and Israel.
But speaking in Cairo, Carter defended his meetings, calling them necessary in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Carter also described the siege on Gaza as a crime and an atrocity on Thursday.
Carter said Palestinians in Gaza were being "starved to death", receiving fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa.
"It's an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza," he said. "It's a crime... I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on."
Israel has meanwhile sealed the West Bank and Gaza for 10 days as it prepares to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Aljazeera 18.Apr.08
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus 12


Billion-Dollar Paydays :

Even on Wall Street, where money is the ultimate measure of success, the size of the winnings makes some uneasy.
“There is nothing wrong with it — it’s not illegal,” said William H. Gross, the chief investment officer of the bond fund Pimco. “But it’s ugly.”
NyTimes 16.Apr.08
via LABiz
Well that is what's wrong with it - it's ugly. Laws are made to prevent ugly things from happening. First there were ugly things, then there were laws against them. Then there were new ugly things, then new laws. Ugly's why we have laws in the first place.
But it got turned inside out, and anything that wasn't certified and codified as wrong became alright.
The difference between something being right or wrong, and something being legal or illegal is profound.
The street version is:
If somethin's not right, it's wrong.
That has nothing to do with laws.
Ultimately morality is about ugliness, not rules. Over-reliance on logic and law creates inhuman gaps in the social order that are exploited by the amoral and clever.
By constantly stressing the primacy of legality over the vague and indefinable but consistently superior aesthetic, and at the same time reducing the aesthetic to a commodifiable luxury in privileged lives, the power that drives this age has created its own extra-legal landscape. The laws never catch up to what's evolving to avoid them.
It's not illegal, but it's ugly. Ugly's worse.


their shared values of human rights
and the importance of fighting extremism:

We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry," Benedict told reporters on his flight. The Church will screen candidates for the priesthood, he said, "so that only really sound persons can be admitted."
Several victims of the pedophile priest scandal denounced Benedict's comments as insincere during a news conference in Boston, where the scandal erupted in 2002.
"He should be ashamed that he is not meeting with survivors and talking with us," said Robert Costello, founder of A Matter of Truth, a Boston-based organization for victims of sexual abuse by priests.
In New York, Benedict will also stop at a synagogue to wish the Jewish community a happy Passover.
[end article]
Pullella/Reuters/yahoo 15.Apr.08
The man whose job is to be an intermediary between God and the human race acts as if the corruption is local and immediate. An "outbreak" that will be met by "screening".
As though God in His Infinite Wisdom has been taken by surprise, or at least hadn't seen the importance of communicating this problem to the Vatican before it "broke" in the media.
It should be remembered that the reason the stories began to surface in the first place is the neurotic disgust that kept the taboo on any public speech about sexual matters was broken, by, if you want to pin a specific date on it, the Stonewall Riots and the subsequent activist demands for gay rights by some brave folks with little support but each other and their own anger. Things that can't be talked about don't get on the news.
The former Cardinal Ratzinger isn't a sort of chaste and politely asexual Elton John, an entertainment figure with unusual costumes - for years he's been a consistent and loudly official voice against the truly Christian activists of so-called Liberation Theology, speaking especially against those on the front lines in Latin America.
An interesting aspect of linking "Catholic priest" with "pedophile" is the complete negation of that other manifestation of Catholic clergy, the nuns and priests killed by death squads in the still continuing struggle for justice down there in the jungly south. Not as exciting to the neo-puritans that dominate the US hive mind now as sex with children. Dead nuns and priests and peasants, men women and children, in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile - killed by men whose spiritual heirs Ratzinger/Benedict will be dining with on his visit to the US. But that's not nearly as important as pedophile priests.
The papacy, and Ratzinger/Benedict, are explored at greater length here, here:
A lot of what seems pressing now will look like a temporary phase later on. A transition. And that's where the morality smears into utility. That's how men like Ratzinger and Lustinger and Negroponte and Cheney can be the men they are and still look in the mirror.
It shifts, and fades, and becomes something else.
America, the whole thing, North and South, as it is now was founded by treachery and murder no different except in its larger scale from the so-called "savagery" of its original inhabitants, yet at some point any good that happens on either of those continents has to come from that - in spite of it, yes, but from it, out of it.
So Ratzinger serves something he believes is higher than flawed humanity, and redemptive of his compromising. The ends, sanctifying the means.
That isn't as alien to Christianity as it first seems. The elevation of a crime to the primal radiance of redemptive sacrifice is the mystery at the center of Christian faith. The murder, or the unjustified execution of Jesus, is turned into the one act that will redeem the lost souls of the human race. So the means, the suffering and death of the holiest human being that ever lived - the intentional criminal torture and killing of that perfect being - is transformed into a necessity, something that had to happen so that the rest of us could gain eternal life. The ends absolutely justifying the means - so thoroughly justifying them that the dynamic of it is invisible in the midst of all the blood and glory.
And contrasted with PZMyers' atheistical anti-something or other, here.
A few words about my father and the Catholic Church, here.
the image is Velasquez' Innocent X, linking to Francis Bacon's Study After Velasquez, one of his many popes. Innocent X had a role in Irish affairs at the time of the Irish Confederacy. Francis Bacon was, besides being a genius painter, homosexual.

Intriguingly, the U.S. media seems to have no owners or advertisers

everyone's talking about Nakba


China has 315 peacekeepers in Darfur, as part of the AU/UN force there.
How many does the US have?

Rebecca Solnit's battle with Men Who Explain Things

Rainbow at Midnight: Zapatistas, Women, Indigeneous Peoples and the Struggle for Autonomy from Neoliberal Globalisation
Patrick Cuninghame and Carolina Ballesteros Corona
via the Don Quijote of opendigitalaccesstoinformation

The funny thing is trade between the U.S. and Venezuela has grown from $29 billion in 2004 to $50 billion in 2007.

"Too many people are using too much stuff."

Investigator Bob Fletcher had also confessed he sent evidence of a 10-year study that linked top US government officials to arms and weapons dealers to Bono[Sonny] less than a month before his death, the Globe reported.

On the other hand, I never really could bring myself to describing it as the "Fall of Baghdad".

Messages From Iraq

and its bad for you


sect encouraged fear

All their lives, the girls in the polygamist sect in the West Texas desert were told that the outside world was hostile

The Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr
Patrick Cockburn
extract from Muqtada al-Sadr and the fall of Iraq
via Fanonite
Let it here be received recorded and recognized that the name "Fanon" rings for me whenever I see it because when I was 20 and in community college a poli-sci class I was taking was taught by a substitute teacher for a few days or a week or two, and he was a black man, from Ghana, very dark-skinned a native African, though far older than me at least in his mid-20's if not practically 30, new and uneasy in the US and especially Northern California 1969-70, facing a little pond of upturned white faces with all those cheap truncated expectations and dull blank comfortable spaces in their maps and worldviews, and he insisted against a rising tide of scornful dismissal from the stalwart heirs to the elect at their desks, that reading Fanon wasn't paying attention to the ravings of a bitter lunatic, but to the outrage of a fine and refined conscience so violated by what it saw that it could barely speak. Until it did.
The teacher's emotions were so powerfully held in check it was heartbreaking. Even to me, then. With a memory now so shot full of holes and lesions and elisions and lacunae and fabricated events and fear that I can barely remember the names of good friends from those days, I could still draw an accurate enough diagram of exactly where I was sitting in that classroom when that bitter grace broke through the clouds of lies and arrogance I'd spent my life under.
Where the windows were, where the teacher sat against the front edge of the desk, where the young Aryan prince was who forcefully spoke and stood against the destructive forces he glimpsed in Fanon's words coming toward him, and against the witness in the teacher's eyes and against the questioning sounds of my own beginnings toward wakefulness, seated next to and a row in back of him.
How can it be that the world is this way?
It is. And all most of us will ever have against that awful dark is testimony.

Cheap money and free guarantees

The matter of which side fired the first shot was disputed. General Bacon claimed that one of the soldier's rifles accidentally discharged, causing the Pillagers hiding in the woods to think that they were being attacked, while the Pillagers said the battle started when several soldiers were seen firing at an Indian canoe carrying several women as their steamship approached Sugar Point
Now imagine how the newspapers of the time reported that. Now imagine the first paragraph of one of those reports.
Israeli tanks and bulldozers crossed into the Gaza Strip on Friday after the Jewish state warned it would retaliate against Hamas for a deadly explosion of violence earlier this week.
The delusion is as stark and futile as it was then, with the same desperate self-righteousness and outrage.
It would be much simpler and better for everyone if the Israeli government and its supporters abandoned any pretense of moral behavior, and just put it all right out there. Stop pretending to be anything other than what you really are, amoral thugs who've driven themselves into a corner from which the only exit is humility and remorse, or a steadily mounting annihilation of everyone who gets in the way, including eventually, inevitably, yourselves.


mud cakes terms of a climate change strategy, ethanol is madness. And sadly, all the major presidential candidates...
the lower your income, the more overweight you’re likely to be
I am 56 years old, a farmer from South Korea who has strived to solve our problems with the great hope in the ways to organize farmers’ unions. But I have mostly failed, as many other farm leaders elsewhere have failed.
Soon after the Uruguay Round Agreement was sealed, we Korean farmers realized that our destinies are no longer in our own hands. We cannot seem to do anything to stop the waves that have destroyed our communities where we have been settled for hundreds of years. To make myself brave, I have tried to find the real reason and the force behind those waves. And I reached the conclusion, here in front of the gates of the WTO. I am crying out my words to you, that have for so long boiled in my body:
I ask: For whom do you negotiate now?

For the people, or for yourselves?
Biotech Brigade


Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt declared that he would:

Sadr's decision to cooperate with the institutions of the government, and particularly with the sectarian Shi'i parties whose grasp of the levers of power remained overwhelming, coincided with a rising arc of sectarian violence in Iraq. Although the civil war would never overtake the insurgency war in its intensity, it was nevertheless real, and it utterly transformed Iraq's demographics. To a degree, sectarian warfare was part of the occupiers' strategy in Iraq, as Kurdish peshmerga were allowed to ethnically cleanse parts of northern Iraq and deployed to attack Sunni resistance fighters. At the same time, Shi'i death squads such as the Badr organization were dispatched to take out rivals of the occupation. The Badr frequently acted as part of the Special Police Commando death squads co-founded by former DEA specialist Steven Casteel (whose previous expertise included helping train government forces in Colombia), trained by Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, and led by a former Baathist general. By early 2006, more than 1,000 Iraqis were being tortured to death and executed every month by death squads integrated into the government, and it was later estimated by the UN special investigator that the scale of repression was far worse than under Saddam Hussein.
Richard Seymour/MRZine 06.Apr.08

Seymour, I think the same person as does Lenin's Tomb, has written a fine and impartial, deep, calm, and reasonable piece on Al-Sadr's past and present circumstances. Seeing as how Al-Sadr's the single most important person in Iraq right now and will be for a long while, and seeing as how the occupation of Iraq is the single most important thing about the US and will be for a long while, it behooves us to know what we can about him.
That Stephen Casteel is another story entirely. Casteel's one of those figures, like John Negroponte, that make it impossible for me to shed childhood stories of Satan and his minions seeking the damnation of all that's good in the world.
Evidences of this type of counterinsurgency operation can now be seen in Iraq.
Since June 2004, people suspected of being hostile to the regime and their supporters were being kidnapped and killed by police commandos from the notorious Wolf Brigade. It is the most notorious and best known death squad created, funded and directed by U.S. advisers. A majority of its officers and personnel served in Saddam Hussein’s Special Forces and Republican Guard—veterans of killings, torture and repression.
Foremost among the U.S. advisers are retired Colonel James Steele and former DEA officer Steven Casteel who are both veterans of the dirty war. Steele served in El Salvador. In El Salvador, Colonel Steele commanded the U.S. Military Advisor Group, training Salvadoran forces between 1984-86. Steven Casteel worked in Colombia with paramilitaries called Los Pepes that later joined forces to form the AUC in 1997. These were responsible for most of the violence against civilians in Colombia. Casteel was instrumental in forming Special Police Commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, in his capacity as senior advisor to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Wolf Brigade operatives “came in white police Toyota Land Cruisers, wore police commando uniforms, flak vests and helmets” and were armed with 9mm Glock pistols.” Their links to the U.S. military are confirmed by their equipment. Glock pistols are standard issue for many U.S. law enforcement officers. The same type of sidearm was issued to Iraqi police by the U.S. military.
Testimony of Steven W. Casteel, Assistant Administrator for Intelligence, Drug Enforcement Administration, Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, May 13, 2003
Stephen Casteel at political friendster

each child will get an advocate and an attorney:

They "were born into this," said Winky Pinky, 11. "They have no concept of mainstream society, and their mothers were born into and have no concept of mainstream culture. Their grandmothers were born into it."
AP 08.Apr.08


Americans are getting a fake story:

Our media also are manipulated. This is what Jerome Slater described in his important paper in International Security saying that Haaretz is informing its readers about true Palestinian conditions and the New York Times is keeping them ignorant
quoted paragraph Mondoweiss 07.Apr.08

Seven Common Myths about Landmine Victim Assistance
People Affected by Landmines
Clear Path International
Miss Land Mine 2007


Big is big:

"Working in the garden is a labor of the soul," said Leonid Stadnik via e-mail. "The song of the birds, the light breath of the breeze, imaginary silence – all that creates the sense of isolation, so that I can forget my problems and concerns and find rest for my soul. My favorite place is among the high currant bushes, sitting on a bench, where I see no one and no one sees me."
Good/OCRegister 09.July.07
Leonid Stadnyk
at wikipedia
acromegalic synchronicity

give children caffeine and taurine:

"For the last year," says Hola, "we have been helping a small boy who has no fingers. We wanted to pay for his surgery this year. But now it is doubtful whether we will be able to find a sponsor."
Hawley/Solarz/Spiegel 04.Apr.08

The siege:

Let the world recall that Gaza’s crisis is a manmade disaster. And let the world take note that conditions are worse today than at any time since the occupation began. Seventy-nine percent of Gaza’s households live in poverty; eight out of ten depend on food assistance. Almost half the labor force is unemployed; local industry has collapsed. Water and sewage systems are failing; garbage is piling up in the streets.
Rania Al Abdullah 06.Apr.08

class I toxins:

The number of migratory songbirds returning to North America has gone into sharp decline due to the unregulated use of highly toxic pesticides and other chemicals across Latin America.
Ornithologists blame the demand for out-of-season fruit and vegetables and other crops in North America and Europe for the destruction of tens of millions of passerine birds. By some counts, half of the songbirds that warbled across America’s skies only 40 years ago have gone, wiped out by pesticides or loss of habitat.
Doyle/IndependentUK/commondreams 04.Apr.08
"We know who's brought it here but the authorities do nothing. Worse still is that there are businesses that are making a killing from selling this toxic waste as compost - it's far cheaper for farmers to buy and they often don't know any better. So it's then put on fields, on our crops and it gets into the food chain."
Mock/RNW 4.Apr.08
Slow Food
Migratory Songbird Conservation


"information warfare"
I could be wrong -- my wife and kids assure me I am wrong about most things. But I have at least one scholarly author type on my side, Dr. Morris Berman, who argues that we are indeed seeing the approach of a new Dark Age. I'm willing to bet that the tens of millions living on less than a dollar a day or any of the women and children sold into the world's multibillion-dollar sex-slave trafficking (including those under American auspices of Dyncorp and Halliburton subsidiaries like KBR) feel that it's here already. Not that anyone is asking them or anyone else in the Third World.
an "academic exercise"
Senator John McCain came last month; Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, residents say, cannot be far behind.
Child welfare officials are scrambling to find foster homes for dozens of girls removed from a secretive West Texas religious retreat built by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs after a 16-year-old living there complained of physical abuse.
"it would not be safe for those children to remain in the compound," she said
December 2007 - An estimated two million children in Iraq continue to face threats including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education.
November 2002 - Child malnutrition rates in the south and center of Iraq have fallen to the lowest level since they peaked in 1996
"Well, the UN has criticized Israel for human rights abuses in the same breath as they criticized Serbia and Chechnya. You cannot take that seriously," he said with a smirk.
A woman who claims she was raped by a fellow employee while working for a U.S. contractor in Iraq told House lawmakers Wednesday that her case is far from unique.
Humanitarian assistance reaches a very small minority of Iraqi refugees in Syria. Many refugees interviewed by Amnesty International said they received no food and that their savings had dried up.
Some Iraqi families have even resorted to forcing their daughters to engage in prostitution to earn money just to survive. Child prostitution and trafficking of Iraqi children is said to be growing, to the concern of the Syrian government.
"The situation of Iraqi refugees is dire and worsening by the day, despite the efforts of the Syrian authorities and local and international humanitarian organizations," said Smart. "The response of the international community must go beyond accepting token numbers of refugees from Iraq - their assistance must constitute a significant part of the solution to this terrible crisis."
AI 26.Jul.07
also AI 25.Jul.07
Redacted has met mixed reviews and triggered outrage among some conservatives with calls for a boycott (a website,, was set up) and talk show host and critic Michael Medved claiming it "could be the worst movie I've ever seen."
"It appears that De Palma is just the latest moviemaker eager to foist a heavy-handed anti-war picture on the public, and frankly some of these shrill screeds are starting to look silly," wrote reviewer Kam Williams.
The film's dire performance follows the public's similarly lacklustre response to other recent releases themed around the Iraq war and post-September 11 policy. In the Valley of Elah, from Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis and based on true events linked to the Iraq war, has made less than $7 million since its September release despite a cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon.
TelegraphUK 29.Nov.2007
The U.S. invasion of March 2003 brought prostitution back to Iraq within a matter of weeks. The Iraq War has now lasted eight times longer than the Gulf War deployments, and is marked by a huge reliance on private security contractors. A U.S. ban on human trafficking, signed by President Bush in January 2006, has not been applied to these contractors.
McNutt/Counterpunch 11.Jul.07
People should not to be deceived by the media. The US public needs to think of us not as things but as human beings who also have a right to live and have our children educated just like children here. Why were our universities destroyed when they look after your universities so well? Our museums, all the historical and cultural aspects of our lives have been destroyed as well. Why did the occupiers do that?
We don’t represent Iraqi women, we are women from Iraq who have witnessed the occupation and we are here to tell our side of the story. We want people to know how the Iraqi people have not only suffered from the severe sanctions but are now suffering again from this unjust war. Our basic infrastructure such as schools, bridges, hospitals, sewage, and water system have been destroyed. Everything was destroyed completely and only the ministry of oil was saved. In the search for Saddam Hussein, our children, women and men are constantly under bombardment. We ask ourselves how and why did this happen? Iraq is even smaller than the state of California. All this destruction was done under the guise of searching for weapons of mass destruction and toppling Saddam Hussein. Instead, the US administration toppled the whole of Iraq, destroyed houses and the lives of people.
One of the impacts of wars and sanctions has been a rapid increase in prostitution in Iraq. Prior to 1991, levels of prostitution were relatively low. However, over the last decade prostitution rates have sky rocketed. Many men died in the wars, and sanctions left women in financial difficulty. More and more women, as well as children now, are involved in prostitution in order to make a living. I recently completed a project working with children who are 10, 11, 12 years old -- not even teenagers -- who are working in this industry.
I have seen many cases of violence against women recently. One specific case that stands out is that of a 9-year old girl who was brutally raped and continued to bleed for 10 days and her body was bruised in ways that is hard to even imagine. When I asked her what had happened, she could not even explain to me what she had experienced.
Middle East Women’s Studies Review Fall 2003/Spring 2004

No contest as beauty beats grim legacy of landmines for Angolans

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