...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



This picture is here, not to ridicule, but because it shows the madness of someone with a strong compassionate heart who's been forced to betray that compassion - coerced or blackmailed, or both - by pressure she could not withstand.

Duties of the Secretary of State:
These duties — the activities and responsibilities of the State Department—include the following:
  • Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
  • Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
    the list goes on
But if Clinton has shown anything during the campaign, when she morphed from establishment to working class candidate, she has an elastic sense of the possible.
Israel’s right to exist, and exist in safety, should never be put into question.

Clinton's Israel and the Middle East index page
It is even more disturbing that the problem appears to have gotten worse. These textbooks don't give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination," Senator Clinton said.

It is essential to those of us who care deeply about what is happening in and to, Israel, to recognize that Israel's struggle is a struggle on behalf of a future where people will be able to live with peace and security.
Remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
There is possibly no person President-elect Barack Obama considered for secretary of state who is more reliably pro-Israel than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Abramowitz/Washington Post
By making morality purely a question of intent, by training children to see that the internal morality of the family, in healthy families, is based on intent first, then outcome, though this shifts slowly toward outcome over intent in healthy families, the internal morality of the family, which has to be based on intent more than outcome in order to raise children, to allow them mistakes, especially well-intentioned ones, the infantilizing process that Christianity is part of - Christianity as practiced here and now - sustains this, and the post-Christian culture of capitalist hedonism, with its force-fed public morality, which depends on that infantilizing version of Christianity for its validity, the community's moral values manufactured by entertainment corporations, and the healthy rejection of that manufactured morality co-opted and redirected by those corporations or by the use of those same corporate devices in the hands of demagogues and clots of feral mutants, are the family's moral boundaries carried out to the extreme edge of human behavior, the world stage no wider than the living room.
Intention is all that matters.
This takes the weight off what happens, it doesn't matter what happens so much as why. Which means you can be tricked into things, and kept in those tricks, seduced by things that aren't in the rules, and trapped.
No wonder there's so much disdain leveled at the natural world, no wonder the natural world has been stripped down to its bones and now the sounds of even them breaking, because the natural world doesn't recognize the human family as chosen, as special, and will eat it as readily as we eat other families, will allow the human family to be penned up and herded, branded, its sons castrated, the melted tallow of the dead, the fat rendered from the slaughtering houses, fed back to them in streams, to make them fat again. As we do.
No wonder the most dominant and materially successful members of the human family seek to live where the immediate landscape is the natural world, but the natural world held in tight bondage, in total captivity, exhibited in carefully controlled tableaux.
What's most gratifying there isn't the superficial green and symmetry, it's the order, it's the control, the trees pruned and bent to postures of submission and obedient attention, the bushes clipped and trimmed into rigid imposed order, the only "wild" creatures permitted small, harmless, and mostly out of sight.
The message of safety this bound landscape confers answers a deep hunger for security that goes back much farther than language or tools in human history. Which is why it's now the aesthetic of the human communal landscape as well.
This was an outsider's rant until very recently. Eccentric, ill-groomed, unattractive voices and figures, championing something silly and idealistic, green meadows, big wild old trees, la la la la. Nothing practical, nothing central to anyone real - a luxury, not an obligation.
But it was the world itself we were talking about.
Our places in it, and by those places what we are, what we would become, what we have become, and what we're going to become, now.
And because the changes that are ringing down are so immense and threatening it's powerfully important that the moral content of them is almost insignificantly marginal and small.
Because no one has done it "on purpose".
And that's what matters. Whether it was done on purpose or not.
Not whether or not the earth itself will become uninhabitable, but whether or not that condition will be the result of an "accident", or some fiendish plot.
Evil or accident. As if that matters most.
This is why Americans accept traffic mortality rates of close to 50000 every year, year after year, with no complaint.
Because no one gets in wrecks on purpose.
And this is why alcohol has become such a strong scapegoat for traffic accidents generally, the "cause" even though statistically it isn't even present in half of them, much less causing the ones it is.
Because getting drunk is intentional, even sinful, and can be blamed because it's intentionally chosen.
Whereas no one can be blamed for driving to work or to the store. No one is "responsible" for driving to work, even when they could have done something different to get there. That's changing, but not quickly, and it's very late for it.
Grown-ups, in their most hope-filled dreams, want the world to be a better place for their children to raise their own children in, and on through the generations.
Grown-ups want at least, at the very least, that the world still be there for their children to muddle through. We're playing with that now.
Moving toward something like responsibility, then away from it. And the big corporate clusters of combining energy are responding - "green" is getting nauseatingly common as a commercial sound, even as it starts to mean little more than another shopping choice.
But we get confused. And science has now walked us to the threshold of physical immortality, what about that?
We get confused about whether everyone should get to have their children grow up, or just us. Is there a right to that? Is it a universal right, or a privilege that can be denied the unworthy?
No one argues publicly against it but almost everyone lives their lives against it. How much more confusing is it to ask who gets to live forever?
And what is that"we"? We're confused about what that is, what "we" are. Does it mean everybody?
If that's what it means then everybody can't live like this anymore, because there are too many of us living this way now, and we have to stop.
And many people faced with that will push for a reduction in the others, in the people that aren't like them, whether poorer or darker or meaner or less "moral". Some easily determined characteristic that allows the division between saved and lost, between the winners and losers.
Something very suspicious and ugly about the survivor reality shows, the constant drumbeat of winning and losing, closer and closer to the Darwinian contest of life and death but all on camera and the cameras are never threatened with losing, all directed from offstage by the invisible minds and hands the watching children are trained to ignore the presence of, even while they obey its hinted commands. Most of them never once let themselves imagine the camera lens through which they "see" the world.
A big part of me wants to believe that I died already, that this is hell or one of its suburbs, that this much evil can't be all there is to being, there had to have been another place where it wasn't like this, where not even the seeds of this world would be allowed to begin.
This can't be all there is to me being what I am, whatever that is. I must have passed through some kind of threshold to get here, failed some test, fallen, given in, submitted to the darkness.
As opposed to, as was the case in the historical narrative of my actual life, just getting the shit kicked out of you until you don't know what the fuck is happening and don't care, and become small and selfish and incomplete and hungry and pretty much blind.
And Mormons, I have a lot of trouble believing in the ultimate reality of a world in which Mormons have so much wealth and power.
And Scientology.
It's a long list.
And a less big but still pretty substantial part of me keeps insisting that this is all being done simply to make me frustrated, me personally, so that I'll take on the burdens and responsibilities of what some invisible but influential presence wants done but doesn't want to carry the blame for, doesn't want its children to bear the weight of, even as they enjoy its beneficial - to them - outcome.
Hillary Clinton as Obama's Secretary of State isn't making me feel any better about anything.
This is from Huffington as well, but the links have been altered:

Karolina Kurkova's Missing Bellybutton Explained (PHOTOS) Victoria's Secret angel Karolina Kurkova surprised onlookers with her...


a free girl who can decide things for herself:

I first went to prison on September 23 of this year and served 35 days. By the time you read this, I will be back inside for another 21. This is going to be my life for the next two years: in for three weeks, out for one. I am 19 years old now and by the time the authorities give up hounding me, I will be 21. The reason? I refused to do my military service for the Israeli army.

I grew up with the army. My father was deputy head of Mossad and I saw my sister, who is eight years older than me, do her military service. As a young girl, I wanted to be a soldier. The military was such a part of my life that I never even questioned it.
Omer Goldman/FT 22.Nov.08
via RW

Who are Somalia's pirates?
Today's pirates are mainly fighters for Somalia's many warlord factions, who have fought each other for control of the country since the collapse of the Siad Barre government in 1991.

The pirates mainly work for themselves.
This is known as "subsistence piracy", and is very popular in the maritime areas of the developing world, especially toward the lower parts of it.
Subsistence pirates are in it for themselves, they mainly "work for themselves", so rather than gold or other negotiable commodities they attacks ships in the main that carry the things they need, like rice and flour and citrus fruits. Also millions of gallons of oil.
The idea that people who sell things to other people, who go and get things the other people want badly enough to buy them at some risk though at a bargain price, say like from a pirate, the idea that those people, the pirates the ones doing the going and getting and the selling, could be said in a very commensensical way to "work for" the other people, the ones doing the buying who intend to end up with the bounty, the booty, the goods, the plunder, the swag, the pillage, when the deal is done - the idea that the pirates work for them, for whomever they deliver their ill-gotten gains to, or intend to so deliver, this idea is laughable. Because it's just "the market". There's really nothing there but "the market".
See the great men laughing at this idea - or sending their trusted servants out into the street to do their laughing at it for them.
That the Somali pirates might be being used, the way the more psychotic soldiers of say the Colombian military or the Colombian paramilitaries or the Guatemalan military back in the 80's or El Salvador etc or in Pando in Bolivia right now, the way the official savagery is contained by its masters long enough to be directed as down the barrel of a gun aimed like a projectile as like bullets to cut down the worse-than-slaves of the Orwellianly named free market worse-than because they have to feed and shelter themselves and they're free to compete with their relatives for a place in the line of chains available to feed their children or not, who come up from that toward equality and begin to demand it and have to be mown down like weeds exterminated like vermin in order for the good to survive and that's determined the good is determined by how much wealth has been bestowed on the good themselves, wealth is a way of measuring virtue when bestowed by the just hand of the Father and what better tool what better weapon to mow them down than these self-motivated but obedient psychopaths, who thrill at the power the horrendous injustice of what they're doing brings, the power of terrifying unarmed innocents with death and worse - that in their smaller less numerically violent Arrr-mateys stylee way these Somali pirates are being used by the same men who have manipulated and midwifed all the other weird shit that's been happening for a while now into the world.
Not so much as that the Somali pirates are as crazy and cruel as the Colombian right-wing's thugs but that they get paid from the same purse and out of the same pocket, indirect or unconnected as it might be made to look.


Chongo, él lo dice:

And our proposal has been very clear. There is not going to be zero coca leaves growing. Therefore, we have to actually control the coca growing, but we have a very small portion, per family. It’s forty meters by forty meters—it’s not very big—per family. It’s very, very small. It’s just like the backyard of anybody’s house. And that will allow us to have a self-control, the social control. Even though we do have promise, this is how we are fighting. And we will fight drug trafficking with or without the help of the US, because this is an obligation my government has to fight against the evil that it happens, it causes on human beings.
If there was a meeting of the G20, I can imagine that they are the only ones who are responsible for the financial crisis, so they have to meet, because they are responsible. Well, as I say, we all have the right to meet in groups, but this is a world problem. And the government of the US and the president of the assembly should actually call for a meeting to listen to everybody and to find solutions all together to the problem.
And according to the measures that the G20 decide upon, they are investing millions and millions of dollars, but these millions only go to the people who caused the crisis, not to the people that need the money. So, those millions of dollars should go to the victims and not to the people who caused the crisis. And so, the people that had mortgages, who couldn’t pay, or loans, or people who lost their employment
We also nationalized Entel, which is the telecommunications company. It was in the hands of a transnational. This company invested only where there was more population and to be able to have a lot of clients. But this is a human right. Communication is a human right, as I was saying before. You have to go into the rural areas. It doesn’t matter if you lose money, because we have to give them telecommunications.
...and they have called me monkey, animal, not capable of anything... 

the city is less safe as a result:

While the letters do not specifically identify the target of the eavesdropping requests, Mr. Mukasey said that the Police Department had sought authority in one of them to eavesdrop on “numerous communications facilities” without providing an adequate basis for their requests.

Under the law, the government must in most cases obtain a warrant from the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before it can begin electronic monitoring of people suspected of spying or terrorism. The requests are subjected to sharp scrutiny, first by lawyers at the F.B.I., then by lawyers at the Justice Department, and finally by the court itself.

New York’s department, as a local police force, cannot apply directly, but must seek warrants through the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. The police want those agencies to expedite their requests, and say that the federal agencies unfairly blocked the city’s applications for surveillance warrants, first in June and then in September. The disagreement, in which the Bush Justice Department has taken a more cautious approach than police officials, is something of an unexpected twist
The inability of the Justice Department to resolve the conflict may mean that the matter ends up in the hands of Eric H. Holder Jr., who is expected to be nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to become the next attorney general. Based on Mr. Obama’s statements during the campaign, it appears unlikely that his administration would adopt a more permissive attitude toward eavesdropping than the Bush administration.
Mr. Mukasey, in a seven-page retort, dated Oct. 31, dismissed what he called Mr. Kelly’s “alarming conclusions” as factually incorrect. Mr. Mukasey wrote that Mr. Kelly was in effect proposing that the Justice Department and the F.B.I. disregard the law...

Johnston/Rashbaum/NYTimes 19.Nov.08

enormous mansions -- in Tuscan, French chateau, Spanish and modern styles -- set on large, flat lots of 1 to 3.5 acres

"It's a super unique enclave that gives you complete security, living among your peers," said Mauricio Umansky, a real estate agent with Hilton & Hyland. "From every aspect, it's just fantastic."
Medavoy, who considers her 11,000-square-foot East Coast traditional to be the small house on the block, sang the praises of Beverly Park, calling it a "wonderful place to live, with really terrific families."

"We're going to have to add extra security," she said. "You have to stop them, know who's coming through. We videotape them. Then you have the patrol cars." Referring to Israel's famed national intelligence service, she added: "It's like Mossad security here."


Terror Suspect Mentally Unfit for Trial :

The U.S. government has not found a "shred of evidence" that a Pakistani woman accused of trying to kill a U.S. soldier and FBI agents was abducted or tortured
Dr. Afia Siddiqui, a highly educated researcher who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, for about 10 years and did her PhD in genetics, mysteriously disappeared from Karachi in March 2003 along with her three children. Since then, US and Pakistani officials have continuously denied any knowledge about her.

It was only after British prisoner Moazzam Begg mentioned her in his book The Enemy Combatant that Human Rights Organizations and activists, British journalist Yvonne Ridley and MP Lord Nazir in particular, raised voice for Dr. Aafia kept in solitary confinement and her three children. A specially disturbing part of this story is that fate of her three children, aged between one month and 7 years at the time of her kidnapping, is still unknown.
A US judge on Wednesday ordered further psychiatric evaluation for a Pakistani woman he says is mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges of attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan.
Judge Richard Berman told the federal court in New York that Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated neuroscientist extradited in August from Afghanistan, is "not currently competent to proceed."
Judging from an initial medical report, "the course of treatment should continue," he said.
Siddiqui, 36, is in custody at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
Her lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, told the court that Siddiqui is "hallucinating" about her family.

"She believes she lives with two of the children," Fink said.

One of those children is in fact dead and the other has disappeared,
One of the Saudis wrote a $20,000 check that same day to a third Saudi who had listed the same address as Aafia Siddiqui, a microbiologist who is believed to have been a U.S. operative for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. A Saudi spokesman said the wire transfers had no connection to Siddiqui and were used to pay educational and medical expenses for Saudi families in the United States. But bureau officials say the matter remains under active investigation...[Apr.2004]
Islamabad, Aug 1 [2008]: Islamabad is abuzz with rumours about the presence of a Pakistani doctor, Afia Siddiqui, in one of Afghanistan’s most notorious prisons in Bagram.

Known as “Prisoner No. 650” and the “Grey Lady”, Siddiqui was allegedly handed over to the US six years ago for her links with the al Qaida.

While home secretary Syed Kamal Shah and other senior home ministry officials have denied the presence of such a lady in Bagram, media reports continue to suggest that she was extradited to the Afghan jail from Karachi with her children. She continues to stay in the prison in humiliating conditions.

“She is subjected to physical and sexual torture by American troops in the jail,” Urdu-language newspaper Jang reported
He was passing through Boston on his way to New York where he planned to speak to Aafia Siddiqui's lawyer in order to put some pressure on the US authorities to allow the sister to be hospitalized and treated for her gunshot wound as well as severe post-traumatic stress. In a phone conversation the next day, the Honorable Lord Ahmed shared with me how he came to know about her tragic fate.

This summer, probably during their fact-finding mission to Darfur reported earlier in my blog, the famed reporter Yvonne Ridley approached Lord Ahmed to ask if he could find out anything about the legendary mystery of the "Grey Lady of Bagram."

When Pakistani detainee Moazzem Begg was released without charge, he reported to the media that he still felt haunted by a woman's sobbing cries and hysterical screams coming from Cell #650 at the US-run torture den in Afghanistan. Saudis liberated from Bagram during the daring Taliban prison break-out also reported that they had seen her.
Dr. Fauzia Siddique, sister of Pakistani Doctor Aafia Siddique who is currently detained in US has said that the remarks of US Judge has confirmed that Dr. Aafia faced severe torture during her detention.

Talking to a private TV channel, Dr. Fauzia Siddique stated that the remarks are not surprising for us, however, it has proved that Dr. Aafia has been facing severe torture for the last five years.
Aafia Siddiqui had been missing for more than a year when the FBI put her photographs on its website. The press was told that she was an Al Qaeda facilitator. After an FBI conference, a newspaper broke the story linking the woman involved in the 2001 diamond trade in Liberia to Aafia. The family's attorney, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, says the allegation was a blessing in disguise because it places Siddiqui somewhere at a specific time. She says she can prove Siddiqui was in Boston that week.
You can't stop saying it, it has to be said over and over until they're gone from the world or we are. Saying "terror suspect" means "terrorist" means she's already guilty means she deserved whatever was done to her.
A mother kidnapped with her three children.
Tortured for years.
Hey there.
President Smokey has announced he's shutting down Guantanamo right away. Which is good, that's good. Nothing about Bagram though. Or Diego Garcia. Or that place whatever that place in Poland was called, is called.
Plus places I never heard of and most Americans don't even know what, what, WHAT?
It's not a mistake, it's evil.
Bagram is evil, it's not a mistake, it's evil.
Guantanamo isn't a mistake it's a manifestation of evil. Abu Ghraib, not a mistake.
Which means the people who are fighting that are fighting evil.
Which means oh my god.

Aching to go green but don't know where to start?

As its clock runs out, the Bush administration also is trying to open-up drilling all over the Rockies and Alaska, to green-light oil shale leasing, and to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Though sad, it's no surprise, coming as it does from the same crowd that designed a misguided national energy policy in secret meetings with the oil, gas and coal industries.

The BLM didn't just try to slip the audacious Utah lease maneuver past the American people on an historic election day, it actually hid the ball from its sister agency, the National Park Service, and then rejected the Service's request for more time to review the scheme.
Redford/HuffPo 17.Nov.08
The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR) is a wetland conservation property and a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.
The 135,000 hectare property, in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, is home to a set of three important spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife.
The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR) was acquired as part of the National Reserve System Programme for the purpose of nature conservation with the assistance of the Australian Government.
The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR) is being threatened by strip mining. Cape Alumina Pty Ltd has lodged mining lease applications which include approximately 12,300 ha of the Reserve. Cape Alumina company documents indicate an intention to mine 50 plus million tons over a 10 year period commencing 2010. The greater part of this mine is on SIWR.
The proposed area for mining on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve contains the headwaters of irreplaceable waterways and unique biodiversity which will not recover after mining operations are finished.
Save Steve's Place


Chennai, Nov 16: Leading Tamil actor Vijay and his fans organisations on Sunday observed a eight-hour fast to express his solidarity for the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils in Chennai.
The eight-hour long agitation was inaugurated by Vijay's father and veteran director S A Chandrasekar.
Talking to reporters, Vijay said similar fast was being organised by his fans in 37 places across the state. "It is my effort to show my support for the suffering Tamils in Sri Lanka. I am happy and consider myself privileged to be part of the agitation".
Tamil film hero Vijay today observed a day''s fast along with his fans, throughout Tamil Nadu, for the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Vijy, who had earlier participated in the fast organised by the South Indian Artistes Association and later by the technicians of Tamil film industry, conducted the fast agitation today in deferernce to the wishes of his innumerable fans.
Ilayathalapathy Vijay started his Unnavrutham (fast) to protest against the violence against Tamils in Sri Lanka today (Nov 16) morning in front of the Chepauk government guest house in Chennai.
From early morning, a huge contingent of Vijay fans converged at the venue in mini buses, autos, SUV's and two wheelers with party blue and white flag flying high.

The Tamil-controlled north-east of Sri Lanka thunders "day and night" under bombardment from the forces of the Sinhalese government in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo as they attempt to destroy Tamil autonomy. Against this backdrop, "a great human tragedy" is also "exploding", according to Fr James Pathinathan of St Theresa's Church in Kilinochchi, the administrative capital of the de facto government of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
India Tells Sri Lanka to Protect Tamils as War Concern Mounts
Eelam previously here, here


Wow, look at that, Hare said. Now, that...

A record number of felons are seeking presidential pardons or commutations as President George W. Bush enters the final months of his term, creating one of the largest backlogs in clemency applications in recent history.
Possible investigations into the Bush administration's interrogation and domestic surveillance policies have raised the theoretical question of whether Bush will attempt to grant a blanket, preemptive pardon to members of his administration.
More than 2,300 people applied for a pardon or commutation in fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30, the largest number for any single year since at least 1900, according to Justice Department Statistics.
Michels/ABC/commondreams 17.Nov.08
The September and October mass distribution of the anti-Muslim documentary, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, paid for by the mysterious Clarion Fund, has numerous links to the Orthodox Jewish organization Aish HaTorah.
Clifton/Lobelog 10.Nov.08
AMY GOODMAN: “Criminal”? Explain.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, there’s a few elements now that are being described as illegal that we’re finding out. First of all, the equity deals that were negotiated with the largest banks and also some smaller banks, representing $250 billion worth of the bailout money, this is the deal to inject equity into the banks in—to inject capital into the banks in exchange for equity.
The idea was to address the so-called credit crunch to get banks lending again. The legislation that enabled this was quite explicit that it had to encourage lending.
 Barney Frank, who was one of the architects of that legislation, has said that it violates the act if the money is not going to that purpose and is instead going to bonuses, is instead going to dividends, going to salaries, going to mergers. He said that violates the acts, i.e. it’s illegal.
But what we know is that it’s going precisely to those purposes. It is going to bonuses. It is going to shareholders. And it is not going to lending.
The banks have been quite explicit about this. Citibank has talked about using the money to buy other banks.

Then there’s other aspects of this that are borderline illegal.
DemNow! 17.Nov.08
Fishermen in the Gaza Strip say they are regularly being harassed and even shot at by the Israeli navy. A ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas militants last June has not led to any let up in the actions by the Israeli navy. If anything, say the fishermen, the harassment has only increased. Israel contends that it is simply trying to protect its people.
Beauchemin/RNW 17.Nov.08
And on Thursday, the United Nations announced it had run out of the food essentials it supplies to 750,000 desperately needy Gazans. "This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself," a spokesman said.

In a further blow, Israel’s large Bank Hapoalim said it would refuse all transactions with Gaza by the end of the month, effectively imposing a financial blockade on an economy dependent on the Israeli shekel. Other banks are planning to follow suit, forced into a corner by Israel’s declaration in Sept 2007 of Gaza as an "enemy entity".

There are likely to be few witnesses to Gaza’s descent into a dark and hungry winter. In the past week, all journalists were refused access to Gaza, as were a group of senior European diplomats. Days earlier, dozens of academics and doctors due to attend a conference to assess the damage done to Gazans’ mental health were also turned back.

Israel has blamed the latest restrictions of aid and fuel to Gaza on Hamas’s violation of a five-month ceasefire by launching rockets out of the Strip. But Israel had a hand in shattering the agreement: as the world was distracted by the US presidential elections, the army invaded Gaza, killing six Palestinians and provoking the rocket fire.
Cook/National/uruknet 16.Nov.08
John Brennan and Jami Miscik, both former intelligence officials under George Tenet, are leading Barack Obama’s review of intelligence agencies and helping make recommendations to the new administration. Brennan has supported warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition, and Miscik was involved with the politicized intelligence alleging weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the war on Iraq.
DemNow! 17.Nov.08
“Wow, look at that,” Hare said. “Now, that man might be a psychopath. That was psychopathic behavior, certainly—to put others in the intersection in danger in order to realize your own goals.”
But the problem is that “psychopathic behavior”—egocentricity, for example, or lack of realistic long-term goals—is present in far more than one per cent of the adult male population. This blurriness in the psychopathic profile can make it possible to see psychopaths everywhere or nowhere.
Another hypothesis is that psychopaths lack fear of personal injury and, more important, moral fear—fear of punishment.

John Seabrook/New Yorker 10.Nov.08
Order 17 is a document little-read today, yet it essentially granted to every foreigner in the country connected to the occupation enterprise the full freedom of the land, not to be interfered with in any way by Iraqis or any Iraqi political or legal institution. Foreigners--unless, of course, they were jihadis or Iranians--were to be "immune from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their Sending States," even though American and coalition forces were to be allowed the freedom to arrest and detain in prisons and detention camps of their own any Iraqis they designated worthy of that honor.
Tom Englehart/Juan Cole
I receive many emails. A lot of them are pure crap. A lot of them preach to me about love and forgiveness. A lot of them are blaming the victim. A lot of them dictate to the victim what words, what feelings, what thoughts she must or must not have. A lot of them talk about the victim being an angry bitter hateful thing. But none of them, NONE of them acknowledge FULL responsibility. None.
Layla Anwar/ArabWomanBlues/uruknet 16.Nov.08
Do not be seduced into thinking of torture as harsh interrogation. The hour is late and we must confront the torturers among us.

If you are the slightest bit concerned that we have crushed freedom here and in other lands in the name of freedom, be more concerned. We have.

Never forget or let your children forget that it was all a lie, told with purpose.
Marc Ash/truthout 17.Nov.08
The Business Journal's fastest growing private business is Coding Source, which converts X-rays and other medical procedures into insurance codes so doctors and hospitals can get paid. The company had revenues last year of $18.5 million and a three-year growth rate of 417 percent.
LBO 17.Nov.08
TiVo, Domino's to let subscribers order [pizza] through TV



Already, there have been complaints from the left regarding Obama's choice of Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff. Some liberals have complained that Emanuel was too supportive of the Iraq war, too tied to Wall Street and too connected to entrenched interests to represent change - or the views of the left - in the White House, where he worked in the Clinton administration.
Dan Schnur, a former GOP strategist who now directs the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Urban Politics at the University of Southern California, said they may have reason to be concerned.
"Rahm Emanuel ... understands the perils of a newly elected president who intends to govern from a centrist force and how that president can be pulled leftward," he told the Brown Institute conference Wednesday.


On Thursday, CodePink members hit five consulates in San Francisco - those representing Bolivia, Venezuela, Syria, Cuba and Iran - delivering flowers, apple pies and cards with a message as much for the president-elect as for the leaders of those nations: "Yes We Can ... Live in Peace."
SFChronicle/commondreams 14.Nov.08


Today is World Toilet Day.
No really:

Lack of proper toilets and sanitation kills about 1.8 million people a year, most of them children, but Kiwis can do something to improve these appalling statistics, said TEAR Fund Executive Director Stephen Tollestrup.
ScoopNZ 14.Nov.08

no, no. I want it to just be a camera:

DB: One of the things we're all wondering is, who will fill out Obama's cabinet? But, throwing out all of the actual cabinet positions for now, if you could assemble an all-star environmental advisory board for Barack Obama?

TF: I wouldn't want to get into that. I think there are a lot of good people and I wouldn't want to leave anybody out.

I think the big challenge for Obama on this is finding someone...
ThFriedman iv/HuffPo 11.Nov.08
A little self-quoting, from June just past:

"Far more surreal was Thomas Friedman's hyping his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded on CSPAN's BookTV.
I don't want to get lengthy on either topic right at the moment, but a thought I had earlier today, under trees I knew well in a park I played in as a boy many years ago, was how much there must be out there now - the debilitating sense of hopelessness hitting the best of us, the clearest-eyed, the most knowledgeable.
Friedman comes on like this is all fresh news and he's in on the ground floor, ready for the green revolution. But I was hearing people talk about global warming inducing catastrophic climate change back in the 80's. The mantra of "We need to do something now, before it's too late" began then, or even more marginally, before then. [the first Earth Day was in 1970]
Where are those voices today? I don't mean voices like that, I mean those same people. How false to pretend they were never there.
They were right, this is obvious, but there's a mask on the public face of things, a rigid mask that doesn't allow that kind of acknowledging, that kind of historical deference. It has to own everything the common folk think about the world - it has to hand-feed knowledge to them.
What's under that mask?
Friedman's being hyped steadily and consistently as central man in the conflict, a peerless warrior on the balancing edge of the green transformation.
But he has peers, he isn't peer-less, only they're mostly running around the boardrooms of Wall Street 
He's presented and presenting himself as a problem-and-solution node, a lightning rod for positive environmental change, a calm far-seeing leader of the new paradigm etc etc etc etc; which is mostly all a lie. 
Besides that he sounds like M. Crichton or that Toffler person - all ego and scientifically dumbed-up common folk vocabulary in thought strings Ayn Rand would have found comforting.
It's an especially crafty lie, because it's not saying anything false. It's a lie because of what it leaves out.
The New York Times for years intentionally blocked by trivializing and marginalizing the "environmental" bad news, did that for decades, delivering it in lukewarm non-committal style mostly  with "quotes" around it, making things sound as though there was still a lot of information yet to be gathered  and processed (global warming -  just a theory!)  and everything was too complicated still, no solid conclusions were yet possible. 
That was a lie. Obviously now. Straight up lie intentionally told to keep the big machines running.
Delivered to a wide audience at the same time there were reputable scientists standing up all around in growing numbers, we're talking the 80's here, and those guys and their interpreters and translators in the responsible press were ignored by important at the time public information systems like the NYTimes.
Many of them, those reputable science and environment voices, are still out there, here, wherever. Here in the sense of alive and working, able to be called on to speak. 
Friedman's role is to act as though we're all just waking up now, together, and he just happens to be in that central slot, and just happens to have the backbone and clarity of vision to lead us forward into the bright green future.
It's a lot like Larry Summers or one of his cohort being brought in to fix the economy.
Who should tell us, who can lead us?
Friedman doesn't want to "get into that", doesn't want to "leave anybody out".
He doesn't want to be associated, doesn't want the affinities made plain, doesn't want to publicly commit to supporting the big money beards and stooges waiting in the wings. Because the scam isn't set up all the way yet.
Friedman doesn't have time or inclination to talk about traditional indigenous attitudes toward land and water, toward sky, toward obligation and stewardship, our responsibilities to the wholeness of the place we live our lives in and pass on to those who come after.
He certainly isn't telling people to read Aldo Leopold. Or even mentioning prominently, from his highly visible platform, anyone above him in the chain of knowledgable minds.
There's a lot of voices already there, people like Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, to name a random handful among many others who've written in the common tongue about these complex and dangerous things, long before Friedman jumped up and started pretending to be a revolutionary.
But he's too busy now to point to any of them, too committed to the task at hand, Thomas Friedman's too preoccupied with saving the world to throw attention toward anyone else whose stature and credentials by contrast would make his current grab for prominence in the green revolution look like the grasping opportunism it really is.
Unlike Neil Young, who has no need whatsoever for more fame and fortune, who doesn't need to create a spotlight for himself if he wants some attention. Neil Young who's spent most of his professional life juggling the risk of looking like a self-indulgent fool with the chance to conduct, in the sense of having pass through your being, numinous inspiration of the highest order, and raw human passion at its fullest and most honest.
He's got a piece in Huffington today that says among other clear pragmatically solid earnest things:
It is time to change and our problems can facilitate our solutions. We can no longer afford to continue down Detroit's old road. The people have spoken. They do not want gas guzzlers (although they still like big cars and trucks). It is possible to build large long-range vehicles that are very efficient. People will buy those vehicles because they represent real change and a solution that we can live with.The government must take advantage of the powerful position that exists today. The Big 3 are looking for a bailout. They should only get it if they agree to stop building autos that contribute to global warming now. The stress on the auto manufacturers today is gigantic. In order to keep people working in their jobs and keep factories open, this plan


More germane is the question of who exactly:

... we are killing. Having learned about this secret war being conducted on their behalf, Americans now have an obligation to find out more. That obligation is both moral and political. The moral obligation is to ascertain whether or not the people we are killing are in fact terrorists, that is, members of organizations engaged in actively plotting attacks against the United States. If we are killing people who are not terrorists, then these special operations attacks are profoundly wrong. Indeed, in that case, they amount to little more than state-sponsored terrorism
Americans should not rush to render an adverse judgment of this program of secret attacks. Yet neither should they accept at face value official U. S. explanations or what they get from leakers offering a partial and selective version of the story.
Bacevich/HuffPo 11.Nov.08
Yes but sigh. Well yeah sigh. Because sigh the killing of bad people rests completely on the okay to do it part that says you yourself are not and will never be a bad person. But sigh. Oh no. What makes someone a bad person or bad people sometimes at least is that sigh they have killed innocent people sigh. So once you've done that you are a bad person and it's okay to kill you.
So far sigh so good sigh but Bacevich lays his fairly tiny testicles on the table when he says, "Americans should not rush to render an adverse judgment of this program of secret attacks" sigh because sigh that rests on the part of terrorists being okay to kill sigh because they are bad people and they want to hurt us and kill us no more sighing!
But wait!
The whole thing starts with we don't get to argue that "terrorists" are bad and deserve to killed, by us or anybody else that wants to or is employed to or just feels like it one day. Starts with "info". Starts with "info" from...? Ooooh be careful! Because, what if that "info" is not true?
Because what if who gave you that "info" was not were not is not are not good people to start with in the first place?
They say they want the terrorists Bacevich says it's okay to kill if you can find the right ones say they want to kill us because we are bad people. 
No really they do say that.
 And they say we're bad people because we ourselves have killed innocent people, people that they the terrorists feel some kinship with and thus have an "us" part in the "they're killing us" part of the why part of what they the terrorists do that makes them terrorists in the first place and that's important because it's what makes it okay for us to kill them. 
Killing bad people, it's what the good guys do, when they have to etc.
Bacevich covers things right back to:
"The moral obligation is to ascertain whether or not the people we are killing are in fact terrorists"
But see you have to be very confident of your own innocence and really important you have to be very confident the information you're using to decide who to kill and punish and torture and otherwise ruin the lives of people that are "terrorists" that deserve it because they're "terrorists" you need to be confident up front they are indeed bad people for one thing because after you kick off the bloodshed they're gonna hate your ass no matter why you did it so that first kick information has to be obviously "deadly" accurate or - oh golly - you will end up killing the wrong people, wrong because innocent people.
Bacevich elides entirely the analytic process that would examine the presumption of automatic death warrants for people deemed "terrorists" and who or what official body would be doing that deeming.
Because if that's hinky everything that comes from it is hinky. Which means "we" go out there to places like Afghanistan and Iraqistan and kill people, kill actual live people and make them dead by killing them and all on the say-so of who exactly?
And that's important because if that "who" deeming terrorist kill warrants isn't straight up and brimming with integrity and accuracy "we're" going to end up killing innocent people.
And that makes you (us, we) someone who kills people innocent people, someone who kills people who shouldn't have been killed.
Which is the definition of bad people you were using to go kill people with in the first place, isn't it?
Isn't it?
Admit it.
Don't look away when I'm talking to you!
Okay just leave then, I don't care.
Fortunately for confused liberals like Mr. Bacevich I have come up with a foolproof guaranteed system for removing all the bad people from the earth in one fell swoop, for real for keeps for good forever.
Sadly it will mean the extinction of the human race but hey, these are harsh times and the problems we face require harsh measures equal to the severity of what they confront and also hard-hearted decision-making by hard-hearted decision-makers whose number one tough job it is to meet and overcome them, those problems, representing as they do so however harshly us and our interests, and our innocence, such as it is. 
In this case that would be the problem, and the decision-making generated by the problem, of bad people in the world, or, people who kill innocent people who don't "deserve" or deserve to be killed, those bad people then being attacked and killed by us, who, us, by doing that killing to people who it then turns out were innocent themselves and did not deserve to be killed for being bad because they weren't, and we by that doing becoming the very thing we had set out to rid the world of by killing and killing and killing and killing until all the bad people were gone. 
Yes, but sadly, well gee, but, ah, well yes, now you see, yes, there it is.

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Real estate professionals across the country are reporting difficulty convincing sellers the true market value of their homes.


Say, don't you remember, they called me Al:

The biggest truffle on the block, weighing 1.05kg, was carried off by a Japanese bidder who trumped European counterparts with his Y3.02m bid. A lot to pay for a tuber but an anaemic fraction of last year’s record $330,000 (Y32.4m, euro 257,802), paid by Macau casino owner Stanley Ho for a specimen weighing 1.5kg.
Robinson/FT 10.Nov.08
via LABizOBserved



This obscure Amazonian people speak using only three vowels and eight consonants (including the glottal stop) but their language is far from simple. Like Chinese, for example, Pirahã is tonal and speaking in a different pitch transforms the meaning of a word. Unlike other tonal languages, Pirahã can also be hummed and sung. The Pirahã have no socially lubricating "hello" and "thank you" and "sorry". They have no words for colours, no words for numbers and no way of expressing any history beyond that experienced in their lifetimes. And, in the late 70s, Everett was dispatched to the Amazon to learn their language, translate the Bible and convert them to Christianity.
Patrick Barkham/GuardianUK 10.Nov.08


A little Jeffrey self-confidence:

There is much to unpack here. First, there is Joe [Klein]'s assertion that Bush's Christianity has "nothing to do" with his push for war. I think this will surprise a lot of people, including George W. Bush. Second, I think Joe is essentializing, to employ an unwieldy term, the Jews who supported the war. There's no denying - nor should it be denied - that American Jews, and American Christians as well, worry about Israel's security. (That Christian bit is important, by the way; I know this drives Mearsheimer and Walt crazy - and I know that Joe is no Mearsheimerite - but polls show the majority of Americans are sympathetic to Israel, despite the best efforts of the Mearsheimers and Walts of this country to blame Israel for America's woes. No Jewish lobby would be powerful enough to influence American foreign policy if it worked in opposition to the feelings of a majority of Americans.)
This doesn't absolve the Jews in the Bush Administration of incompetence and negligence, but it doesn't absolve the non-Jews either, especially because, and I know Joe doesn't want to hear this, the Jews were not quite the all-powerful figures in the White House and Pentagon that people imagine them to have been.

But this brings me to a deeper question: Why is it illegitimate for American Jews to care about Israel's security and argue for American measures that would strengthen Israel's security? In a conversation earlier this year, Joe told me the following: "I just don't want to see policy makers who make decisions on the basis of whether American policy will benefit Israel or not."
Jeffrey Goldberg/Atlantic 03.Nov.08
Keep on unpacking though, and lo and behold, the whole frame dissolves. 
To even begin to consider Christianity, especially American Protestant Christianity, as a separate religious endeavour,  separate from Judaism, with separate aims and separate interests, as Klein does:
Furthermore, I don't use the Christianity of Bush et al against them because their Christianity had nothing to do with their support for the war.
and as Goldberg willingly accepts, even while taking his position opposite Klein, though within the frame, is just more persiflage. 
For all Klein's good intentions, the real lies go unremarked.
Christianity's founding documents were written exclusively by Jews, the entire Old Testament is no more or less than a history of the Jews, told by themselves to themselves, with a consistent emphasis on their entitlement and their speciality in the eyes of God.
Their God, who is also the God of everyone else, even those who've never heard of him.
The New Testament, after a complete break in the prior narrative, in the Christian Bible, suddenly becomes the story of the foretold Jewish Messiah, foretold by Jewish prophets speaking to and for the Jews as a people, who creates by his presence, and by his execution, a new story.
Suddenly the narrative goes completely off the track, and everything is different - the Jews are swept aside, and the story is now all about Christians getting to heaven and the end of the earthly world and about Christians as the truer more Chosen People, and the final judgment of souls, and not about the Jews at all being central, but only tangential to the real story. Bing.
Even though the judgment of souls will be valenced by their obedience or lack of obedience to the rules and laws and commands and directives of the Old Testament.
So how could Bush's Christianity ever have influenced his decisions concerning the Middle East and Israeli/Jewish interests? 
Impossible! (spoken in a cartoon slobbery lisp as by Sylvester the Cat or Daffy Duck)
America is still humming with fundamentalist and semi-fundamentalist Christians who are being fed constant streams of End Times factoids, and pseudo-information like that Obsession video, two-dimensional deceitful and misleading garbage propaganda about Israel and Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims, fed through the multi-level marketing infrastructure their churches provide. This is taking place entirely outside the view of the rest of us, it's ungoverned and it's unchecked and it's virtually unreported. 
Bible worship, especially the sanctification of the Old Testament, can be seen in this light as a reverential elevation of what is, among many other things, an ancient real estate document - the deed to the Holy Land.
What's most difficult to talk about regarding all this is the actual power, in the physicist's sense, of the organizations, of the belief systems involved. Because you'll first have to prove beyond doubt that something like telepathy functions in human beings, and group telepathy or something like it in groups of human beings, and that this group telepathy by its nature has a kind of immortality and power directly proportional to the size and longevity of its congregation, that the believers are creating or augmenting or amplifying what they believe in.
That's what was done, and that's how it was done.
And it's what's being done, and how, now.
Trying to say who's doing it is a pretty frustrating task, because the language we've been given to do that with has no terms for it, and the cultural foundation from which we begin that task has no precedent for that naming. 
It's all or nothing, either the trademarked and copyrighted proprietary mumbo-jumbo of delusional fantasists, or the dull void of empty space still in process of being catalogued, with here and there little dots of stars and mundane worlds like Earth, on which nothing metaphysical ever happens, nor ever could.
That neither of those versions is even minimally accurate is a very unpopular thing to say. But here I am, saying it.
There's truth in both of them, but their incompleteness makes them wrong, false, and dangerously misleading.
Except to those who benefit from the lie, and the lies.


The war against marriage, the evil Satanic war against marriage, the awful godless evil Satanic war against marriage, continues


No, I’m not tired. I’m never going to be tired again.

Is anyone angry?
Me, I am.

Will cheaper gas nix energy reforms?

Does the low cost of flying, transporting goods, and getting to the store mean that the biggest incentive for energy reform is evaporating?
CSM/Yahoo 03.Nov.08
The biggest incentive.
This morning on LinkTV's Spotlight, a piece on rendition flights, first thing, plus I was out of coffee. 
The only corporate media I caught before shutting the tv down again was a piece on the construction of the set for I guess the election night victory party for Obama's campaign.
The biggest incentive.
Is rendition going to stop now? Because that was enough, and whatever purpose it was serving needs something else done now? 
It's hard, because there's no one with a three-digit IQ watching all this who believes torture is effective as an information-gathering technique, yet there's all that torture going on. 
So it's all just another mistake, like Iraq, like not concentrating on destroying Afghanistan first but destroying Iraq instead.
The biggest incentive.
Obama's going to not do what Bush has done, we know that. 
Is he going to undo what Bush has done?
What has Bush done?
Three things, the invasion/occupation of Iraq, presiding over the collapsing economy, and the evidently permanent suspension of legal protections guaranteed by the US Constitution. 
Is Obama going to undo that? Any of it?
The biggest incentive.
Because if he doesn't then it looks pretty much like what some of us were afraid of is in fact the case. Bush was there to figurehead a violently aggressive military assertion,  a domestic civilian  clampdown, and now that everything's in place he can be driven out of town in disgrace. 
Then a liberal version of what happened in the last two elections (aside from the out and out stealing) happens. 
In 2000 and 2004 conservatives and the loosely self-defined privileged and wannabe privileged classes got hoodwinked, chumped off, rode hard and put up wet.
Now it's over to the left side of the equation. 
The biggest incentive.
The conceit here as always is that the corporate media reflect rather than create public concern.
The people elected George W. Bush and now the people look ready to elect Barack Obama. 
As opposed to - the media hypnotized people into thinking they elected GWBush, and now...
The little clot of cable news channels still sparkles with analysis and subliminal confirmation of the values of their audience. Values that seemingly arise independently of any coercive influence or intent, like swamp gas, like spontaneous combustion.
So that Sarah Palin appearing on Saturday Night Live is highly newsworthy, and the fact that every other commercial in that show's time span was for some brand-new car or other is completely insignificant.
Meanwhile the Weather Channel's talking about records breaking all across the country, and LinkTV's got the CIA's ex Chief of Operations for Europe nervously chuckling and talking, or claiming his inability to talk about, the torture of human beings in the name of freedom. 
Even as he admits it doesn't "work". The implication seeming to be that this is a symptom of a disease that entered from the top and has filtered down through the ranks. That whatever's done all this extraordinary renditioning isn't endemic to CIA, but came into it from above. And the CIA's ex Chief of Operations for Europe is confident when he says it doesn't "work" to torture people, because the information gained is too unreliable.
Yet the information gained is claimed quite clearly to be the reason for it happening. Even though it doesn't "work".
Of course what that means is simply that it doesn't work to the stated aims - but it does break people, and spirits, and that is of course why it's being done. Because it's an act of terror,  the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce.
What isn't so clear is the possibility that if it did in fact come from above whatever did it's likely still there, and probably won't be leaving town in January with Bush when he goes.

"Television is sooo not dead," says Dennis Ryan, chief creative officer at Element 79, a Chicago-based ad agency. All that is going on, he says, "is a diversification of screens."

The potential direct negative impact on countless people may be immeasurable

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