...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




Burma: 2092 Political Prisioners In Prison
Not to disparage even slightly the plight of Burmese dissidents, but:

Nearly 60,000 marijuana offenders are incarcerated in the United States at any given time, according to a study published in the Federation of American Scientists' "Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin." More than a quarter of marijuana offenders are incarcerated for personal possession, with no other drugs involved in the offense.
Stop the Drug War
Blacks constitute 13 percent of all drug users, but 35 percent of those arrested for drug possession, 55 percent of persons convicted, and 74 percent of people sent to prison.
Nationally, Latinos comprise almost half of those arrested for marijuana offenses.
DPA Network
Some of this is strategy - arresting people who do worse things, but can't be prosecuted for that, is made possible by the bizarrely harsh penalties for marijuana.
Most of it is Grundyism. Or Ydgrunism.
Or straight-up Puritanical fear.
Or an actual considered response to the nature of the marijuana experience.
Or subtle racism
Or overt racism.
The movement to outlaw marijuana in this country did not gear up until after the repeal of alcohol prohibition. The movement built a mythology of marijuana misinformation, replete with tales of crazed addicts committing murders while high on the drug. Anti-marijuana crusaders managed to convince Congress to take action in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act. Even though the American Medical Association pointed out that the case against marijuana was built on exaggerated horror stories that demonized marijuana and made rational policy design impossible, Congress passed the bill outlawing non-medical untaxed uses of marijuana.

It is unclear what motivated the prohibitionists-- perhaps the same Puritanical impulses that motivated alcohol prohibition. A more cynical observer might point to the liquor industry's interest in wiping out competition once alcohol prohibition ended. Whatever the impulses, the ensuing wave of propaganda warped public opinion concerning marijuana. A Gallup Poll in 1969 showed that only 3% of Americans realized marijuana was not addictive...
Edelson/Leda-Harvard Law School

Sen. Joe Biden on Shalom TV (youtube)

Capitol Hill might just vanish altogether:

Since Pelosi and Reid took over Congress, the Congress has funded the Iraq war without even a symbolic condition. It has rejected every proposal to limit war spending. It has enacted one right-wing proposal after the next, from warrantless surveillance and telecom immunity to declaring parts of the Iranian Government a "terrorist organization." It passed a housing bill and "stimulus" package approved by the administration. It has done nothing to reverse the radical executive power theories and has done much to institutionalize them. If there is one predominant trait of the Congress over the past several years, it has been a willingness to grant every item on the the President's wish list regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are in control.
Greenwald/Slate 24.Aug.08

Meanwhile, Russians have been investing heavily in the US:

Commerce Department data show that in the first half of 2008, the United States imported 17.5 million barrels of oil worth nearly $2 billion from Russia. Russian oil is just part of a larger trade flow between the two frenemies. According to the Commerce Department (see Part B, Exhibit 14 of the full release available here), in the first half of 2008, U.S. exports to Russia were $4.66 billion and imports were $13.3 billion.
The trade data doesn't come close to telling the whole story of U.S.-Russian financial relations.
Daniel Gross/Newsweek 21.Aug.08

six [inaudible] six


fact-finding missions:

How many civilians died in South Ossetia, when after being cut off from water supplies for more than a month, they were attacked by U.S./Israeli trained Georgian military forces?
Somewhere between 133 and 1,492.


As we were saying earlier:

The fact is that the first significant military presence we run into is a long Russian convoy, at least one hundred vehicles long, headed in the direction of Tbilisi, casually waiting to get gas. Then, forty kilometers outside the city, around Okami, we see a battalion, as usual Russian, attached to a unit of armored vehicles whose role is to stop journalists from going one direction and refugees from going the other.
One of them, a peasant, wounded in the forehead, still dazed and terrified, tells me the story of fleeing his village in Ossetia on foot, three days ago. The Russians arrived, and in their wake, Cossack and Ossetian gangs pillaged, raped and murdered. As they did in Chechnya, they rounded up the young men and drove them away in trucks, to unknown destinations. Fathers were killed in front of their sons. Sons were killed in front of their fathers. In the basement of a house which they blew up with propane cylinders they had collected, they came upon a family and stripped them of everything they had tried to hide and then forced the adults to kneel down and executed them with a single shot to the head. The Russian officer in charge at the check point listens to the story. But he doesn't care. In any case he looks like he has been drinking too much and he just doesn't care.
Gori does not belong to the Ossetia which the Russians claim they have come to "liberate." It is a Georgian town. And they have burned it down, pillaged it, reduced it to a ghost town. Emptied.

"It's logical," explains General Vyachislav Borisov, as we stand in the stench and the night waiting for Lomaia to return. "We are here because the Georgians are incompetent, because their administration collapsed and the town was being looted. Look at this," showing me on his cell phone photographs of weapons of Israeli origin, which he emphasizes heavily, "Do you think we could leave all this lying around without supervision? And let me tell you," he struts around, striking a match to light a cigarette, startling the little blond tank gunner who had fallen asleep in his turret, "We summoned the Israeli Foreign Minister to Moscow. And he was told that if he continues to supply arms to the Georgians we would continue to supply Hezbollah and Hamas." We would continue? What an admission! Two hours go by.
"Number three, look at the map. Russia is an ally of Iran. Our Armenian neighbors are also not far from Iran. Now imagine a pro-Russian government installed in Tbilisi. You would have a geostrategic continuum stretching from Moscow to Tehran which I seriously doubt would be doing business with the free world. I hope NATO understands this."


Friday morning. I, along with Raphaël Gluksmann, Gilles Hertzog and Marie-Anne Isler-Béguin, the European deputy, decided to return to Gori...
B.-Henri Lévy/HuffPo 19.Aug.08

Again, we see a common pattern forming:

The acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces’ assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves?

Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war. Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction.

The decision by the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, to now cease hostilities was the right move by a responsible leader. The Russian president acted calmly, confidently and firmly. Anyone who expected confusion in Moscow was disappointed.
Gorbachev/NYTimes 19.Aug.08
How can one erase from memory images that were never there to begin with?
The average American, the normal American, has no idea what happened in Georgia before Russia "invaded". Only that Russia "invaded" and hurt people, big ugly Russia, tiny vulnerable Georgia.
Why's that "tiny, vulnerable" thing sound so familiar?
I know I've heard it somewhere before.
The juxtapositioning of bombed-out wounded faces, usually female, whether South Ossetian or Georgian left unclear, but placed on top of text describing Russian tanks and Russian planes and Russian soldiers and Russian maneuvers leads without any direct accountability for what's being said to the idea that Russia began this, began it and carried it out with immoral motive all the way.
Much fuss is now made over who it was that lied to get us into Iraq.
Whether it was Colin Powell or Bush himself or Rice or Cheney or whoever, but it was FOXNews that lied to get us into Iraq, it was CNN, it was the New York Times, it was the Washington Post. All of them lied, in the most cunning ways possible, in ways that make accountability unattachable, in ways that make the responsibility for the lie seem to rest on the shoulders of the people who received it.
No media face or voice ever denied the Georgian atrocities against South Ossetia, they just never mentioned them at all, never described them clearly, never placed the numbers of the dead on a timeline the average normal American could grasp.
America is I don't know what now, but the American people are exactly like one of those kings from the old days who's gone soft in the head and is surrounded by manipulating crafty "advisers" who keep him spinning and unsure and gradually take more and more royal power to themselves, and run the kingdom into the ground with their myopic greed and lack of nobility.

The people, like one of those kings, feel helpless and powerless, but they're providing massive energy and resources to a minority of bent and incompetent shadows, the grey power behind the throne in this land where everyman is king.

Nobility isn't just a nice thing for leaders to have, it's a vital necessity - without it the path of leadership simply degrades and goes down.


Abortion is still a wonderful tool for keeping Americans divided.
The whole question gets presented as life begins at conception, life begins at birth.
Take your pick.
It's like trying to draw an official line between the tide and the beach.
What if life doesn't begin?
What if it's there in the sperm and the egg, what if they're alive?
They're alive.
Life doesn't begin anywhere mechanical, these are supra-rational distinctions.
Death isn't any more measurable.
What's lost is animation, permanently. Yet that line keeps getting pushed into the machine and death is getting further and further away from where it once was.
The purpose of the debate about abortion is to keep Americans divided, as earnest as the combatants are and as furious and strident as they get.
One side sanctifies its own hunger for the womb, elevates the child, the state of childhood itself, above its nature, the other sanctifies the self and demands that be recognized as a right. And there's only those two sides.
Life begins at conception - life begins at birth.
Children are holier than adults, until they become adults - the self is what matters most, is central to life.
Anti-abortion imagery of abortions tears at the miscarried, elevates miscarriage to requiring funerals and mourning, which it almost does, but there is no line.
The insistence that the pregnant woman must have final authority on what happens to what is in her body elides the miracle of the reproductive. Miracles are in short supply.
Miscarriage in the first three weeks is not grievous. Miscarriage gone unnoticed isn't serious, it happens all the time.
The loss of a child from the womb past a few months is a sad serious thing. Where that changes can't be legislated without being false, for convenience sake.
You can say that where the normal high tide line usually is will be the boundary, you can give that distinction legal standing, you can encode it in property laws and real estate deeds, but it's a lie of convenience, it's arbitrary and false for all its utility.
There is no line.
Life blurs into the form we recognize, and at its end blurs out of that form.
Drawing lines on the mist is the work of fools, driven by madmen.
Or, more politely:
It's my considered opinion that abortion is being used like a cudgel, to keep well-meaning people disengaged from each other and in opposition. That that keeps well-meaning people from finding common ground and common enterprise, keeps them from recognizing how closely they resemble each other, keeps them from acting against those who keep them divided.

Lower Drinking Age on College Campuses

Jesus in hot shit

This is not a real survey.
The real survey is here

Do you think teachers should be allowed to carry loaded guns in classrooms?

First Name:
Last Name:
City / State:

an innate system for recognising and representing numerosities



Your lab is in good hands:

Still, tough as life was for Mikesell, Hatfill, Ivins, and scores of others, here's an observation that you'll see nowhere else in a media that's had a two-week romp through the case:
In search of a confession, none of the suspects of these last years, including Ivins, ever had a lighted cigarette inserted in his ear; none of them were hit, spit on, kicked, and paraded naked; none were beaten to death while imprisoned but uncharged with a crime; none were doused with cold water and left naked in a cell on a freezing night; none were given electric shocks, hooded, shackled in painful "stress positions," or sodomized; none were subjected to loud music, flashing lights, and denied sleep for days on end; none were smothered to death, or made to crawl naked across a jail floor in a dog collar, or menaced by guard dogs. None were ever waterboarded.

Whatever the pressure on Ivins or Hatfill, neither was kidnapped off a street near his house, stripped of his clothes, diapered, blindfolded, shackled, drugged, and "rendered" to the prisons of another country, possibly to be subjected to electric shocks or cut by scalpel by the torturers of a foreign regime. Even though each of the suspects in the anthrax murders was, at some point, believed to have been a terrorist who had committed a heinous crime with a weapon of mass destruction, none were ever declared "enemy combatants." None were ever imprisoned without charges, or much hope of trial or release, in off-shore, secret, CIA-run "black sites."

Why not?
The few hundred people at work in the U.S. bio-defense program before 9/11 have swelled to perhaps 14,000 scientists who have "clearances to work with ‘select biological agents' such as Bacillus anthracis - many of them civilians working at private universities" where, according to experts, "security regulations are remarkably lax." And don't forget the Army's own billion-dollar plan to "build a larger laboratory complex as part of a proposed interagency biodefense campus at Fort Detrick." We're talking about the place where, as Ivins's crew was evidently nicknamed, "Team Anthrax" worked and whose labs are reputedly "renowned for losing anthrax." In these same years, according to the New York Times, "almost $50 billion in federal money has been spent to build new laboratories, develop vaccines and stockpile drugs." Some of this money was pulled out of basic public health funds which once ensured that large numbers of people wouldn't die of treatable diseases like tuberculosis and redirected into work on the Ebola virus, anthrax, and other exotic pathogens.

In these years, not to put too fine a point on it, the Bush administration has exponentially expanded our bio-war labs
TomGram 21.Jul.08
Since lots of the people who read this aren't very bright, and aren't really on the same page, or even team, I feel constrained to connect some of the murkier dots here.
Funding for labs that "work with" biological agents has increased astronomically. The idea that all that research is going only to defense is moronic and laughable, given the record of the Administration in other areas.
The idea that the FBI was on this case is equally laughable, if by on this case is meant trying with might and main to find the real culprits and bring them to justice. If on this case means deployed to protect the real culprits, then Mission Accomplished.
The real culprits have been directing the actions of both the FBI and the bio-weapons community for some time.
Ivins seems to have been a complicated man, but the people that worked with and knew him don't believe he did it, don't believe he could have done it.


The insinuating:

“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Ms. Wallace said.
Despite Assurances McCain wasn't in 'Cone of Silence'
NYTimes 17.Aug.08
Because everyone knows that prisoners of war would have no reason to be dishonest, to learn dishonest subtleties, to practice them at crucial moments.
Successful prisoners of war wouldn't. We mean McCain in that he made it through - a kind of success, if not the highest form available.
So he would basically be incapable of running a campaign staffed with people who would be dishonest in order to get him elected.
This should go without saying.
It's just the times, how confused everyone is, how dark it looks ahead, how what's beautiful still is set off against that background, of confusion and darkness, and made brilliant.
Speaking of that, why is Obama and race and racism an issue, but the suddenly-everywhere Sarkozy's ethnicity is meaningless?
Sarkozy the peacemaker in Colombia, and now again in Georgia.
What is Sarkozy's ethnicity? He doesn't "look" "French". Or maybe now that's what it is, a typical Frenchman, like Bush is a typical-looking American for much of the rest of the world.
Some will tell you Sarkozy's like Cardinal Lustiger, the almost-Pope, a Jewish boy hidden from persecution disguised as a gentile, raised as a gentile. Some say Sarkozy's one fourth Jewish.
What does Obama's black parentage matter, except to him, and by that to all of us, when he seeks national office.
Why is what happened in Georgia crucial?
Look at FOXNews, listen and look at how they portray the Russians, and Russia.
It was said hereabouts at the time that it looked like an opening gambit more than an enclosed moment. That it smelled like Russia was getting set up for a hit.
Now, in the minds of those for whom FOXNews is the voice of authority, Russia is replacing Iran as the most current villain.
American Demon.
Who Wants To Be A Nuclear?
The Defense Minister of Georgia is an Israeli.
So when Saakasvili says he feels bettrayed by Israel and the US, what does that mean?
What does it mean that the highbrow broadsheets in the US painted Saakasvili as having "miscalculated"?
The State Minister for Territorial Integration, his title in Georgian, is himself from Israel.
If they were Americans wouldn't that be remarkable?
What's subtly telling is that Saakasvili, when he refers to them doesn't call them "ex" Israelis.
Defense and Territorial Integration - the invasion of South Ossetia by Georgian military.
If Obama's racial and political and social hybridist childhood is a topic, because of how it shapes him, why aren't the possible dualities of loyalty in high level and strategically central Georgian leadership being discussed, for essentially the same reason?
Why, without a word of it to that being directly spoken, has the outbreak of violence in Georgia, triggered by the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia and consequent slaughter of civilians by Georgian military, assumedly under the direction of the Minister of Defense as well as the Georgian President, become the invasion of innocent democratic Georgia by villainous Russia?
This is note for note how Saddam Hussein became responsible for 9-11 in the minds of the FOXNews congregation, and many others of their countrymen.
By innuendo and imagery link, by sneering tones and drama in the presentation of the name, by lying without saying the lie.


Hoy termina la historia
de un Paraguay con fama de corrupción:

"Today a new country is born, where the authorities will be relentless with those who steal from the people," said a visibly moved Lugo, addressing a crowd of around 20,000 people in the square in front of Congress, where he took his oath of office.

Lugo succeeded President Nicanor Duarte of the National Republican Association, better known as the Colorado Party, which has been in power for six decades, including the brutal 35-year dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner, that ended in 1989.

Instead of a suit and tie, in the ceremony the new president wore a simple white shirt made of "ao po’i", the Guaraní name for a traditional Paraguayan cotton fabric, and his trademark Franciscan sandals
IPS 15.Aug.08


Hackers knocked down Georgian government web sites days before Russian tanks rolled into the country’s territory...
St. Petersburg Times 15.Aug.08
Map of Ethno-Linguistic groups in the Caucasus region


They said the Georgians are exaggerating again:

Saakashvili said he is aware of problems with supplying the pilotless drones that his army ordered from Israeli companies, but not of the stopping of any other shipments of military aid.

"The Israeli weapons have proved very effective," he said at a press conference at his office. When asked whether the Israeli arms played a role in the military successes he claimed the Georgian army had achieved, he joked: "Are you asking me as a representative of Elbit or of Israel Aerospace Industries?"

To a reporter's question about Jews who have fled the fighting and come to Israel, he said: "We have two Israeli cabinet ministers, one deals with war [Defense Minister David Kezerashvili], and the other with negotiations [State Minister for Territorial Integration Temur Yakobashvili], and that is the Israeli involvement here: Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews."
Haaretz 14.Aug.08
via comment at Phil Mondoweiss
Haaretz (Hebrew: הארץ‎, "The land", referring to the Land of Israel), founded in 1918, is Israel's oldest daily newspaper.


some western nations have taken positions:

What happened on the night of August 7 is beyond comprehension. The Georgian military attacked the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali with multiple rocket launchers designed to devastate large areas. Russia had to respond. To accuse it of aggression against "small, defenceless Georgia" is not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity.
Over the past few days, some western nations have taken positions, particularly in the UN security council, that have been far from balanced. As a result, the security council was not able to act effectively from the very start of this conflict. By declaring the Caucasus, a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent, a sphere of its "national interest", the US made a serious blunder. Of course, peace in the Caucasus is in everyone's interest. But it is simply common sense to recognise that Russia is rooted there by common geography and centuries of history.
Mikhail Gorbachev/GuardianUK 13.Aug.08

the distance:

"I think we live in a time when what is true can be made to seem a lie," Springsteen says. "And what is lie can be made to seem true. And I think that the successful manipulation of those things have characterized several of our past elections. That level of hubris and arrogance has got us in the mess that we're in right now. And we're in a mess. But if we subvert the best things that we're about in the name of protecting our freedoms, if we remove them, then who are we becoming, you know? Who are we, you know? The American idea is a beautiful idea. It needs to be preserved, served, protected and sung out. Sung out on a nightly basis. That's what I'm going to try to do."
Bruce Springsteen

Two different ways of raising kids:
Another one

acusa a la CNN de transmitir filmaciones falsas:

One example of the media bias shielding Georgia for its responsibility for the carnage, is the fact that outlets such as the BBC continue to report that thousands of civilians were killed in Georgia, with the obvious deduction that they are victims of the Russian attack. However, these victims were not killed in Georgia, they were slaughtered in Ossetia by Georgian forces.

As the blog Campanadas de Libertad reported, “while the inhabitants of Ossetia claimed more than 1,000 dead, the BBC did not report this, nor any other news coming out of Osseetia, showing the destruction caused by the Georgian bombing of the separatist republic. Everything we’re obtaining are unbalanced reports of the destruction caused by the Russians.”

The Russian president Dmitri Medvedev ordered an immediate halt to military operations against Georgia. “The purposes of this operation have been achieved…The security of our peacekeeping forces and the civilian population has been restored,” he was quoted by Interfax.
La República
Translation y post: Machetera

I am prepared to go into a room:

When Scargill suggests that, by mining and refining coal, "we can provide all the electricity, oil, gas and petrochemicals that people need, without causing harm to the environment", he shows that he is living in a world of make-believe. He rightly demands that we "end the import of shale oil, tar sands and other so-called unconventional oils" and calls them "the dirtiest fuels on the planet". But while the total carbon emissions from petrol made out of tar sands are 30%-70% higher than those from conventional petroleum, turning coal into transport fuel raises emissions by 85%. The process also requires 10 gallons of fresh water for every gallon of fuel produced. Coal, not tar sand, is the dirtiest fuel on the planet.
Kingsnorth at the GuardianUk


Originally, frogs living atop the highest, most remote peaks seemed to thrive, but recently...


President Mikheil Saakashvili
seems to have miscalculated...

An injured Georgian woman
stands next to her home
after a bombardment...
the entire world's business:

The fighting which broke out over the weekend between Russia and Georgia has brought Israel's intensive involvement in the region into the limelight. This involvement includes the sale of advanced weapons to Georgia and the training of the Georgian army's infantry forces.
Israel began selling arms to Georgia about seven years ago following an initiative by Georgian citizens who immigrated to Israel and became businesspeople.
"They contacted defense industry officials and arms dealers and told them that Georgia had relatively large budgets and could be interested in purchasing Israeli weapons," says a source involved in arms exports.
The military cooperation between the countries developed swiftly.
The fact that Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli who is fluent in Hebrew contributed to this cooperation.
Egozi/YnetNews 10.Aug.08
Ynetnews is an English language Israel news and content website operated by Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read tabloid, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet.
Hundreds of Israeli defense experts are reportedly:
Analysis of the war in Georgia points to a fight over a major oil route as the main reason for hostilities, but also to an Israeli connection.
Channel 2's expert on the Muslim world, Ehud Ya'ari, told viewers of the central evening newscast that Russia and neighboring countries were vying for control of a strategic oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.
This relatively new pipeline passes through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey and is the only pipeline between Asia and Europe that does not pass through Russia or Iran. Israel is expecting to receive oil and gas through the pipeline.
Ronen/Arutz Sheva-IsraelNN10.Aug.08
Arutz Sheva (Hebrew: ערוץ שבע‎) (Channel Seven) is an Israeli media network identifying with Religious Zionism. It offers online news in English, Hebrew, French and Russian in three formats: written, internet radio, and internet television.
Possibly Saakashvili miscalculated.
Possibly he listened to advisers who miscalculated.
Possibly he did miscalculate, by listening to advisers who had motives other than giving him the best military advice for serving his country's long-term interests.
Possibly this was the beginning of a series of moves, rather than a single bloody incident with its motives and strategies and outcomes contained within the nebulous borders of Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia, or the Caucasus region itself.
Possibly this was a move to get Russia to move militarily, in defense of the South Ossetians, who were invaded by the Georgian military.
Possibly Russia responding militarily in defense of the South Ossetians could then be painted in the West as an unnecessarily vicious and aggressive act, rather than a reaction to an unnecessarily vicious and aggressive act by the Georgian military, trained, equipped, and, most seriously, advised by Israel.
Possibly some future attack against Russia, by Israel, will then be more acceptable, even approved of, by the people who are still financing all of this, the American public.


All fleas, no dog

Fear is the new gold:

A 2006 law intended to crack down on sex offenders has proved a bonanza for a small group of private psychologists and psychiatrists, 14 of whom billed California taxpayers last year for a half a million dollars or more each, a Times investigation found.

Among the 79 contractors hired by the state to evaluate sex offenders, the top earner was Robert Owen, a Central Coast psychologist who pulled in more than $1.5 million in 2007, according to state records reviewed by The Times.
Pillar and Romney/LATimes 10.Aug.08

President Mulberry Trees takes it

Hey wait a minute:

Indeed, by choosing Albert Speer Jr., the son of Hitler’s favorite architect and the designer of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, to design the master plan for the Beijing Games, China’s government has itself alluded to the radical politicization of aesthetics that was a hallmark of twentieth-century totalitarianism.
Nina L. Khrushcheva/Project Syndicate

infinite and complex opportunities:

Old Israelis like myself are stupefied by the scope and scale of today’s corruption and the multiplying investigations. Is corruption something that has always existed here but was somehow hidden until now? Are we learning of it because our prosecutor and police are bolder and better equipped nowadays?

I do not believe that corruption is coming to light just because law enforcement is somehow better, or because citizens, like the presidential staff who accused President Katsav of sexual crimes and harassment, are more courageous. What is coming to light is a much deeper evil, a loss of values within Israeli society and its government, such as never existed before.
A.B. Yehoshua/Project Syndicate

We'll neutralize:

If Russia goes through with the sale of its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, Israel will use an electronic warfare device now under development to neutralize it and as a result present Russia as vulnerable to air infiltrations, a top defense official has told The Jerusalem Post.
JerusalemPost 09.Aug.08

Russian response called 'far disproportionate'
Russia's use of strategic bombers and ballistic missiles against
Georgia's civilians outside of the South Ossetian conflict is "far
disproportionate" to Georgia's alleged attack on Russian peacekeepers, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.
CNN's main window had that photo in the featured top left column yesterday.
And that was the text directly below it.

In the middle column, "Latest News":
Latest News
Edwards' ex-mistress won't seek paternity test
Affair could mean political free-fall for Edwards What's your reaction to Edwards?
Ticker: Role reversal for McCain, Obama
8-lb., 8-oz. baby born at 8:08 on 8/8/08


The road leads back to you

Georgia on my mind:
Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.

These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army’s preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday.
Debkafile 08.Aug.08
Other arms reach out to me:
In addition to the spy drones, Israel has also been supplying Georgia with infantry weapons and electronics for artillery systems, and has helped upgrade Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia, according to Koba Liklikadze, an independent military expert based in Tbilisi.
Former Israeli generals also serve as advisers to the Georgian military.
International Herald Tribune 05.Aug.08
Other eyes smile tenderly:
For the best possible illustration of why Islamic terrorism may one day be considered the least of our problems, look no farther than the BBC's split-screen coverage of yesterday's Olympic opening ceremonies. On one side, fireworks sparkled, and thousands of exotically dressed Chinese dancers bent their bodies into the shape of doves, the cosmos and more. On the other side, gray Russian tanks were shown rolling into South Ossetia, a rebel province of Georgia.
Anne Applebaum/Washington Post 09.Aug.08
Just an old sweet song:
Russian armored vehicles continued to stream into South Ossetia, and Russian officials said that 1,500 civilians had been killed in South Ossetia and that 12 Russian soldiers had died.

A Georgian government spokesman said that 60 civilians had been killed in airstrikes on the city of Gori. Each side’s figures were impossible to confirm independently.
Michael Schwirtz et al. NyTimes 09.Aug.08
as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines:
The most coveted resource on earth is the giant oil-field in the Caspian Sea region, that competes in scale with the riches of Saudi Arabia. In 2010 it is expected to yield 3.2 billion barrels of crude oil per day, in addition to 4850 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year.
Uri Avnery/Counterpunch 11.Feb.02
Oddly for a highly-paid professional journalist working for one of the country's most respected newspapers, Applebaum seems to have missed the Israeli connection completely.
And just as oddly, for a highly-paid journalist working for one of the country's most respected newspapers, Schwirtz, or his editors, allowed that sentence to go to print, with its tidy disclaimer underneath that "Each side’s figures were impossible to confirm independently", even though its context clearly implies Russia was responsible for those thousand-plus civilian deaths.
When in fact it was the Georgian military and its Israeli-provided weapons and advisers that killed most if not all of them.
As Schwirtz and his editors well know.
Ossetia and Caspian Sea oil here, here
And more here, here


Until very recently anyone looking at the sky would see, in the day, something solidly blue, and at night darkness punctuated by tiny lights. Two bodies wheeling across the sky east to west from horizon to horizon, both exactly the same size, one burning so bright it hurt to look at it, the other cold. Both occupying .5 degrees of the celestial arc.
Except for the differences in color and intensity between the sun and moon, none of these things are true.
The sky isn't blue, you can't go up there and get a piece of it and come back with something blue, and the night sky isn't dark, not in the way it seems.
And of course the sun and the moon aren't the same size at all.
Their functions are mirror opposites. One goes around the earth, the other the earth goes around, one is a source of light, the other only reflects it.
The night sky appears dark, and it's so counterintuitive to think otherwise even people with scientific educations will argue the point, but a simple thought experiment shows it's filled with light, everywhere.
Stand in the desert and look at a star, say Alpha Centauri. Then go stand on the moon and look at it, while someone takes your place on earth and looks at it at the same time.
Now leave someone in your place on the moon and go stand on Mars and look at it, while the other two look at it from the earth and the moon.
Each one sees the light of the same star at the same time, because the light of that star is everywhere around us, as is the light from every other visible star. All around us, anywhere there's line of sight.
So there must be a sphere of light coming from each one. We're bathed in starlight - it may seem like little dots, it may seem like there's only the line of it coming toward you that hits your eye, but like the blue sky and the same size moon and sun that's no more than an illusion.
The most fundamental appearance of what surrounds us is illusion.

What's going on with Tom Feeley?

Police raid Md. mayor's home and kill his dogs

Over pot.

Violence runs through this 'stable' India:

Yet George Bush reportedly introduced Manmohan Singh to his wife, Laura, as "the prime minister of India, a democracy which does not have a single al-Qaida member in a population of 150 million Muslims".

To be fair to Bush, he was only repeating a cliche deployed by Indian politicians and American pundits such as Thomas Friedman to promote India as a squeaky-clean ally of the United States. However, Fareed Zakaria, the Indian-born Muslim editor of Newsweek International, ought to know better. In his new book, The Post-American World, he describes India as a "powerful package" and claims it has been "peaceful, stable, and prosperous" since 1997 - a decade in which India and Pakistan came close to nuclear war, tens of thousands of Indian farmers took their own lives, Maoist insurgencies erupted across large parts of the country, and Hindu nationalists in Gujarat murdered more than 2,000 Muslims.
Pankaj Mishra/GuardianUK 07.Jul.08


beneath the shadow of The Bomb:

The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. "Even without the atomic bombing attacks," concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."
Pilger/GuardianUK 06.Aug.08


Ecuador is no longer on sale, you know?

Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran's nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran's atomic program, even if it can't destroy it.
Gutkin/AP 07.Aug.08
Iran has test launched a naval-based missile with a 300 km range, state media reported on 4 August, warning that it would be able to easily close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world's crude oil supplies pass.
Gelfan/Jane's 05.Aug.08

'Gaza siege, collective punishment'

Anthrax Mystery: Questions Raised
Massive Greenhouse Gases May Be Released As Destruction, Drying Of World Wetlands Worsen
CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas, and greenhouse effects are not the only CO2 problem
Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming
Monckton saves the day!
never fear, RealClimate is here!
News Trust
"the line separating good and evil is drawn through the human heart"


Justice and peace are independent values

Disidentes cubanos marchan bajo las órdenes de EEUU
Agent Vilma Of State Security
Spy vs. Spy

some kind of duty:

..when we talk about the Zionist crimes committed against us, we are either accused of lying or exaggerating, and since the written word in western press is mostly pro-Israeli, we have only these photos left to speak for us. It is because one single such photo speaks a thousand honest words, many prefer not to see them or pretend not to know of their existence. When Palestinians distribute pictures of the victims killed by the IOF to news agencies, they are accused of using their dead for propaganda. But when the Israelis spread pictures of their dead, they are pitied for their loss and their dead are glorified. The world is allowed to see Israeli mothers crying near their dead sons and allowed to see scenes of suicide bombings with blood all over the place, but not that of Palestinian mothers crying the loss of their loved ones...
Reham Alhelsi/Palestine Think Tank 05.Aug.08

Cartoonishly Evil People Run the World

Chevron has been ordered to pay compensatory damages to thousands of Ecuadorian families who have suffered from cancer and birth defects over the years after the company dumped billions, billions, of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon. Chevron, naturally, doesn’t want to pay the dead kids’ moms or whatever so instead they’re asking the Bush Administration to tell the Ecuadorian courts to overturn themselves. And of course the Bush Administration is like “ok sure maybe” and now we may downgrade our trade relations with Ecuador unless they undermine their entire judicial system and let Chevron off the hook. For killing kids. And just for ridiculously sinister affect, here is what Chevron’s sleazeball lobbyist had to say about the whole thing:
"We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this”
That is seriously what he said. To Newsweek. So there you go. The good news is you can help kick this shitbag’s ass, so if you have any human decency please click on the clicky and go over to Just Foreign Policy’s website where they’ve got it all set up for you (This civic exercise works best if you happen to be a U.S. citizen).


Meanwhile, back in the jungle

That is, however, the least we can say:

The Arctic is unique, but so is Aspen. Up north, there are polar bears. Here, there are fun-seekers of a different sort.
Madeleine Albright
You see, my grandmother taught piano, and I stayed at her house while my parents worked.
I had a conversation with my parents that went something like the following:
"I'm changing my major."
"To what are you changing your major?"
"I don't know."
"You're going to end up a waitress at Howard Johnson's."
"I'd rather be a waitress at Howard Johnson's than try and teach piano."
Condoleeza Rice
both Secretaries of State speaking at 2008's Words and Music collaboration with the Aspen Institute
The Words and Music collaboration has been going on for a couple of years now. It was established by our good friend Tom Friedman, in order to bring together programs of the Institute and the Music Festival and School
Alan Fletcher President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and school


Breaking News! Venezuela Opposition Leader Murdered, National Police Suspected

His written statement elaborates on old rumors:

His written statement elaborates on old rumors that Mr. Holbrooke had brokered a deal with him to avoid arrest.
The offer, he asserted, required him to withdraw from public life, declining all interview requests and offers to write articles or books.
“Mr. Holbrooke undertook on behalf of the U.S.A. that I would not be tried before this tribunal and that I should understand that for a while there would be very sharp rhetoric against me, so that my followers would not hamper the implementation of the Dayton agreement.”
“I cannot imagine what he is talking about,” said Mr. Goldstone, a South African judge. “The whole thing does not make sense. Resign because of what?”
Mr. Goldstone said the United States had not asked him to withdraw Mr. Karadzic’s indictment.
“No one could ask me to do that,” he said.
NYTimes 02.Aug.08

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